Home Art/Culture Jaun Elia: A Concealed Philosopher Poet

Jaun Elia: A Concealed Philosopher Poet

By Mohammad Suhail
Yeh hai ek jabr Ittefaq nahi
Jaun hona koi Mazak nahi
(This is a hardship, not the coincidence
Being Jaun is not a joke)
(Jaun Elia)

Mostly Urdu Poets are acknowledged for their elegance to adoring beauty and love
through their poetry. Poetry is a means to express desire and disappointment of the life for some poets while for others it is an instrument to bring socio-political changes and stirring the masses against the tyranny and injustice of the regime. There are numbers of such Urdu poets whose poetry influence and amuse the masses on different subjects. They are known as the poet of romanticism, poet of love, poet of humour, revolutionary poets etc., whereas few of them remain unspecified despite their extensive writing.

 Jaun Elia was such a Poet of Urdu language who influences and amuse the masses through his writing on various subjects.

Broadly, Jaun Elia falls in the first two categories of the poet whose poetry adoring beauty and love besides expressing the hardship of life in a philosophical manner. Perhaps he gains popularity because of his unconventional style of reciting poetry at Mushairas (poetry symposia) in which he glorifies his pain and portrays himself as an upset and struggling person. But in a real sense, Juan Elia was more than a poet. His writing talks about the life and its uncovered truth packed with the philosophical thoughts. He believes to himself as a nihilist, anarchist and a communist.

His knowledge about the western philosophy was not an ordinary one, he gave the  references of the work and philosophy of Kant, Dante, Freud, David Hume, Imam Ghazali, Urfi, Voltaire, Plotinus Tolstoy and many others in his book titled ‘Shayad’.

In last decade after his death, he has been much popular among the masses especially
among the millennials who searched Jaun Elia on Google more than any other Urdu

Jaun Elia was born on 14 th December 1931 at Amroha Uttar Pradesh and shifted to
Karachi, Pakistan in 1957 with anguish in his heart. He was a Philosopher,
Biographer, and Scholar. In his early life, he directed and acted too in drama. His
poetry entails the particular attribute is due to the fact that he acquired knowledge of philosophy, logic, Islamic history, Muslim Sufi tradition, Muslim religious sciences, Western literature, and Kabbala the mystical aspect of Judaism.

Following poetry is an example of his vast understanding of the western literature
Qatl-e-‘Ceaser’ par ‘Antony’ jo kuch bola jhoot tha woh,
yani labon ne jitna kuch zakhmon ko taula jhoot tha woh,
(On the murder of Ceaser, whatever Antony said was a lie
Hence whatever lips transform was all lie)

Mayyat per ‘Sohraab’ ki ‘Firdosi’ ne naatak khela tha,
us ke honton per they naale dil mein fan ka maila tha
(On the funeral of Sohrab, Firdausi played the drama On his lips were lamentation but the heart was impure)

 He was one of the most prominent modern Pakistani poets. Besides Urdu, he has fluency in Arabic, English, Persian, Sanskrit, and Hebrew due to this linguistic proficiency his poetry implicate the references of Sufism, Muslim spiritual, science, and Western literature. The reader of his poetry does not only know about the different perspectives of worldly affairs but also learns about the socio-religious segment that encourages them to think critically.

Poet Pirzada Qasim believes that Jaun’s poetry is rooted in the classical field. He
introduces the new areas in poetry. His poetry is unique from all other poets of Urdu.
Jaun Elia knew his merit and when he was unable to find his idealism became

He wrote-

Hasil-e-kun hai ye jahan-e-ḳharab
yahi mumkin tha itni ujlat mai
(a world of problems
was all that could be achieved in haste )

The life of Jaun Elia was full of pain and difficulty, he mentioned it in the preface of
his book ‘Shayad’ that he did not write anything for the period of 10 years (1976-
1986) and lived in a single room. He wrote-

Lazim hai apne aap ki imdad kuch karu
sine mai wo ḳhala hai ki ijad kuch karu
(It is obligatory to help myself
and invent something from the cavity that is in my chest)

In metaphysical discourse, there are two parts to man’s existence- the spiritual and the
temporal. Jaun’s understanding of the philosophy of life illustrates the deep
understanding and recognition of the spiritual part of man in his poetry. He wrote-

Itna ḳhali tha andarun mera
kuchh dino to ḳhuda raha mujh mai
(How empty was my inner self
Even God resides in me for a few days)

Another one a masterpiece which tells about the creation of the world, he wrote-
Karb-e-tanhai wo shai hai-
ke khuda! Aadmi ko pukaar uthta hai.
(Agony of loneliness is a thing – that makes even God
call out to man)
In another couplet, he explains the existence of the “Self”
Ek chaak-e-barahnagi hai Wujood
Pairaahan ho to be-Rafoo thehre
(The existence is the cut of nudeness
If it is in the clothes than it to be unstitched)

Jaun Elia believes that ‘when someone rises above temporal needs and rhymes his
own silence then he is writing poetry’ this belief is similar to William Wordsworth for
whom, ‘poetry is the instantaneous overflow of powerful feelings’. This spontaneity is
exhibited in his poetry in all its shades. He wrote-

Apne andar hansta hun mein aur bohatt sharmata hoon
Khoon bhi thooka sachmuch thooka aur ye sab chalaaki thi

(I laugh inside myself and very abash too
I spit the blood and really spit, but it was all the cleverness)

Jaun says, ‘poetry is related to mind, and the purest condition of mind is manifested in
logic’ and thus poetry is not beyond the logic. He wrote-

Zaat hai, aitbaar-i-zaat nahin
Ab to main khud bhi apne saat nahin
(The self is here, equivocally
Now I, myself, am not with me anymore)

Jaun Elia left this world on 8th November 2002, he took his last breath in Karachi.
He was optimistic about his readers and once he said,

“Zaroori yeh nahi hai ki log tumhaari kitaab padh rahe hai ya meri padh rahe hai, zaroori yeh hai ki who kitaabein padh rahe hai. Aaj tumhaari padh rahe hai kal meri padhenge.”
“It is not important that peoples are reading your books or my books, important is that
they are reading the books. Today they are reading your books, tomorrow will be
reading my books”

Remembering Jaun Elia on his 87th birth anniversary.

Mohammad Suhail, Doctoral Fellow, Social Work Department, AMU