'You Liberated Man’s Destiny’: Re-reading Sahir’s Odes To Lenin On His Birthday

'You Liberated Man’s Destiny’: Re-reading Sahir’s Odes To Lenin On His Birthday
The figure of Vladimir Lenin – born 151 years ago today – exercises a talismanic hold on revolutionaries everywhere, across time and space. While Lenin’s signal achievement – the Bolshevik Revolution, whose centennial was celebrated in 2017 – is richly represented in Urdu literature, writings on Lenin himself, whether poems or fiction, are few and far between.

This year also marks the birth centenary of the great Progressive poet Sahir Ludhianvi. Thus, on the occasions of the end of Lenin’s 150th birth anniversary celebrations today, and Sahir’s centenary this year, it would be timely, useful and instructive to highlight Sahir’s poetry on Lenin.

Sahir Ludhianvi devoted two poems to Lenin, one of which is a standard ode to the latter as the leader of the victorious revolution of 1917.

‘The world divided into classes was for centuries beset by affliction

Griefs dripped from inhabited desolation

The luxury of one bloomed from the poverty of millions

To the accounts of Nature could be attributed this condition

Morals were afflicted, civilization was harassed

By the evil ‘highnesses’, ‘sirs’ of bastardly disposition

With the veils of the skill of the churchmen

The crimes were covered up by the cunning administration

You liberated the destiny of Man

From the deceits of religion, many a royal depredation.’

The second poem, written on the occasion of Lenin’s birth centenary on April 24, 1970, more than fifty years ago, opens with the uncertainty which many in the communist world were also confronting regarding the division and disunity in the communist camp:

Kya jaanen, teri ummat kis haal ko pohanche gi

Badhti chali jaati hai taadaad imamon ki

Sahir refers obliquely to the events in Moscow following the death of Stalin and the split in the communist movement, before which present enemies and ‘revisionists’ were once comrades. In closing, Sahir raises the apprehension that sects rather than class maybe the basis of a new division:

Tabqon se nikal kar hum firqon men na batt jayen

Ban kar na bigar jaye taqdeer ghulamon ki

(Where will your community go, how are we to know

The leaders continue to grow in enumeration

In every corner of the West, in every Eastern region

Of your messages now, there is a different explanation

Those who till yesterday called each other a companion

Are after each other’s names, bent on humiliation

The appearances of the inexperienced politics are spoiled

Roiled are the breaths of many a young institution

Pray we do not divide by sects rather than classes

In that fortune does not favour the slaves’ predestination.)

















The writer, is a Pakistani social scientist, book critic, and an award-winning translator based in Lahore. He is currently the President of the Progressive Writers Association in Lahore. He can be reached at: razanaeem@hotmail.com