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An Urdu version of Ramayana is spreading goodwill in Bikaner

Urdu version of the epic was composed by Maulana Badshah Hussain Khan Rana ‘Lakhnavi’ in 1935.

india Updated: Oct 18, 2017 07:21 IST
Urvashi Dev Rawal
Urvashi Dev Rawal
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
Maulana Badshah Hussain Khan Rana ‘Lakhnavi’, a poet , came to Bikaner state from Jaipur state in 1914 at the invitation of then ruler maharaja Ganga Singh.

An Urdu version of the Hindu epic Ramayana, composed 80 years ago and awarded a gold medal by Banaras Hindu University, is building bonds of goodwill in western Rajasthan’s Bikaner district.

On Sunday a cultural society in Bikaner held a poetry reading session of the Urdu Ramayana that was written in 1935.

The Mehfil e Adab Society and Paryatan Lekhan Sangh jointly organised the programme.

The Ramayana was composed by poet Maulana Badshah Hussain Khan Rana ‘Lakhnavi’ in 1935.

The story goes that Rana, a poet , came to Bikaner state from Jaipur state in 1914 at the invitation of then ruler maharaja Ganga Singh.

He was employed as the head maulvi at Doongar college from 1919-1942.

At the time many Urdu lovers came to learn the language or learn shayiri from him. One of his students was the then jail superintendent, a Kashmiri panditji.

In 1935, BHU organised a national competition in writing on the Ramayana as part of the golden jubilee celebrations of Tulsidas ,author of the Ramayana.

The jailer, whose name is not known, urged Rana to compose the Ramayana in Urdu.

Rana said he could only write if inspired by the subject and pressed to hear the Ramayana.

“He was so inspired by the story that he composed the epic in poetry form,” said Zia ur Hasan Qadri, secretary of the society and an Urdu lecturer in a government school.

Qadri said Rana felt the epic had inspiring characters and a powerful message that should reach wider audiences.

Rana’s student sent the Ramayana to BHU and it was awarded the gold medal , said Qadri.

When Ganga Singh learnt about this he organised a felicitation ceremony where Tej Bahadur Sapru presented the gold medal to Rana.

Haji Maqsood Ahmed who chaired the poetry reading session said the organisation has been holding the Ramayana recitation for the last five years.

“We are proud the Ramayana was written in Bikaner. The Urdu Ramayana is a symbol of our syncretic culture,” said Ahmed, a former mayor of Bikaner.

The society holds similar programmes on other festivals such as Eid Muharram and Holi.

It’s more than a literary exercise. It helps spread goodwill and build bonds between communities,” said Qadri.

AK Gehlot, former vice chancellor of the veterinary university in Bikaner said the Ramayana is written in simple language and can be read in 30 minutes. “if someone wants to know the story of the Ramayana concisely then they can read this poem.”

Qadri said the book was also part of the Urdu syllabus in Bikaner state before independence. It was also part of Rajasthan Board’s class 12 course till 10 years back.

“We need such efforts in these fraught times to remind people of our shared culture and heritage,” said Dr Mohammed Farooq Chauhan, who came especially to hear the recitation.

Rana passed away in 1946 in Chandra near Lucknow. But his composition which is still being read and appreciated has made him immortal.

The Ramayana is ascribed to sage Valmiki. There are several regional versions of the epic besides Jain, Buddhist and Sikh adaptations. There are also versions of the epic in South East Asian languages.

First Published: Oct 18, 2017 07:21 IST