Shiv Kumar Batalvi
Shiv Kumar was a born poet who migrated from the poetic region of Sialkot to Batala at the most miserable moment of human history. It was the Independence of the sub-continent in 1947 - the dreadful, painful, horrible, miserable, devastating, slaughtering and marauding phenomenon, which bisected the trouble stricken North India. The pangs of separation are recurrent themes of this great lyricist of the land. He has been hailed as one of the great poets of all times.
Sh iv Kumar was born on July 23, 1936 in Bara Pind Lohtian (Shakargarh tehsil), in Punjab (now Pakistan). His father was a Patwari by the name of Pandit Krishan Gopal. After the partition his family moved to Batala. As a child Shiv is said to have been fascinated by birds and rugged, thorny plants on the Punjabi landscape. Shiv was exposed to the -ramlila- at an early age, and it is to be expected that he received what was later to become his instinctive understanding of drama from these early performances.
Shiv passed his matriculate exams in 1953, from Punjab University. He went on to enrol in the F.Sc. programme at Baring Union Christian College in Batala. Before completing his degree he moved to S.N. College, Qadian into their Arts program. It is here that he began to sing ghazals and songs for his classmates. Shiv never gave the final exams he needed to pass to receive his degree.
Around this period, he met a girl named Maina at a fair in Baijnath. When he went back to look for her in her hometown, he heard the news of her death and wrote his elegy -Maina-. This episode was to prefigure numerous other partings that would serve as material to distil into poems. Perhaps the most celebrated such episode is his fascination for Gurbaksh Singh-s daughter who left for the US and married someone else. When he heard of the birth of her first child, Shiv wrote -Main ek shikra yaar banaya-, perhaps his most famous love poem. It-s said that when she had her second child, someone asked Shiv whether he would write another poem. Shiv replied -Have I become responsible for her? Am I to write a poem on her every time she gives birth to a child?- Sounds much better in Punjabi (main oda theka leya hoyaa? Oho bacche banayi jave te main ode te kavita likhda rehma?).
In 1965 Shiv won the Sahitya Akademi award for his verse-drama Loona. He married on Feb 5, 1967
His wife Aruna was a Brahmin from Kir Mangyal in district Gurdaspur. By all accounts Shiv had a happy marriage. He had two children, Meharbaan (b. Apr. 12, 1968) and Puja (b. Sep. 23, 1969) whom he loved immensely.
By 1968 he had moved to Chandigarh, but both Batala and Chandigarh became soulless in his eyes. Chandigarh brought him fame, but scathing criticism as well, Shiv replied with an article titled -My hostile critics-. Meanwhile his epilepsy got worse and he had a serious attack while at a store in Chandigarh-s section 22. In the early 70-s Shiv came to Bombay for a literary conference. In keeping with Shiv-s outrageous behaviour there is a story about his trip to Bombay as well. Part of the conference involved readings at Shanmukhananda hall. After a few people had read their work (one of whom was Meena Kumari), Shiv got on the stage and began “Almost everyone today has begun to consider themselves a poet, each and every person off the streets is writing ghazals”. By the time he-d finished with his diatribe, there was not a sound in the hall. This is when he began to read -Ek kuri jeeda naam mohabbat. gum hai, gum hai…-. There wasn-t a sound when he finished either.
Shiv has been called a Bohemian. There were complaints about his drinking and some suggestions that his -friends- had him drink so he would exhibit his outrageous self. Shiv Kumar died in the 36th year of his life on May 7, 1973 in his father-in-law-s house at Kir Mangyal near Pathankot.
Shiv as the traditional poetical phenomenon was born out of the literary conjugation (Kalmi sanjog) of Amrita Pritam and Mohan Singh, to whom he appropriately dedicated his most important creation -Briha too Sultan-. Both Amrita and Mohan had personally suffered in their respective love lives on account of circumstances beyond their control. In their romanticism therefore, a personal tinge of desperation was in-evitable. Punjabi character is far more emotional, both in happiness as well as sadness, than all other peoples- of the Indian subcontinent. To succeed as a poet, therefore, one must succeed in making people cry as well as bursting into hilarious laughter with the flow of the lines. In contradiction to Amrita and Mohan, Shiv therefore, developed the most superb art of recitation. He will be long remembered, like Heer Warris Shah, for this emotional rendering of whatever he wrote. I was deeply impressed by his exposition of this vivid magic in the very first Kavita that he gave at our house - -Ki puchde ho hal fakiran da-. This ren-dering has the touch of Sehgal-s voice - -])ukhh ke Aab din bitad nahin- Shiv like Sehgal had the inborn gift of soul-touching expression.[/img]