An Introduction to Urdu Shaayari

GURGAON, India - Aug. 23, 2023 - PRLog -- Tracing the evolution of shers down the centuries

Sher-o-shaayari is the most popular genre of Urdu writing and is often the first exposure to the Urdu language for most of us. Who can forget the popular Hindi film songs of yester years based on ghazals which have enthralled generations in South Asia. The world of Urdu shaayari is filled with feelings and emotions, elegantly and delicately expressed. The succinctness of shers encourages a listener to draw his or her own interpretation depending on one's experience and state of mind.

Urdu shaayari began in the early 18th century and continues to evolve till date. Through the examples of select shers written by master shaayars down the ages, this evolution can be traced. And this will make interesting reading for those taking their first steps in shaayari appreciation as well as connoisseurs.

18th Century

The golden period of Urdu shaayari really began in the 18th Century. The 18th and 19th Centuries were a period of great chaos. Aurangzeb had died and soon after that the Mughal empire started to collapse. The final blow was the quashing of the 1857 mutiny, after which the last Mughal emperor was exiled. The Mughal court was no longer able to offer patronage to the shaayars and most of them started to move out from Delhi. Most of them migrated to Lucknow, Rampur or Hyderabad.

Shaayars, like most poets, are the conscience-keepers of society. Even the shaayars of the 18th and 19th Century were dead against religious orthodoxy and spoke often about the oneness of Hinduism and Islam. They reserved their utter contempt for the Islamic clergy, called mulla or zaahid. This contempt was probably driven by the fact that the clergy was dead against alcohol, while most shaayars would rather die than teetotal! From time to time, the shaayars also revealed their romantic side!

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