Traveling Encyclopedia of History and Literature – Latest Jammu and Kashmir News | Tourism
Desh Bandhu Dogra ‘Nutan’, a household name in J&K academic and literary circles and outside, is a multi-talented personality having been a novelist, playwright, linguist, historian, short story writer, columnist, teacher and philosopher all in one. He has a wonderful command of English, Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi and can speak and write in all of these languages with equal ease and proficiency. It is, in fact, the walking encyclopedia of history and literature. he will offer his detailed commentary on this subject. Desh Bandhu ji is the recipient of prestigious awards including the Sahitya Akademi Award (although he returned the award on the spot after taking and bowing to the President, Sahitaya Akademi with due respect) and the J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, Hindi Directorate, Government. of India, Dogri Sanstha, Jammu, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, Katra, Jammu Kashmir Rashtriya Bhasha Prachaar Samiti, Jammu and many other literary and social organizations in J&K and outside. His life was full of struggles, but it was his strong will and perseverance that helped him overcome all of life’s obstacles and bravely face life as it unfolded. Although in his eighties, he is healthy and agile. Here are excerpts from his interview.
AS: Sir, tell readers about your childhood.
DB: I was born to Mansa Ram Sharma and Smt Saraswati on November 4, 1939 in the foothills of the Himalayas north of the High Shivaliks. From my mother’s lap, I watched in amazement as the snow-capped peaks speak to the blue sky and to the south, the silver snow-clad Shivaliks move northeast parallel to the Himalayas. My father had studied and completed ‘Shastri’ in Sanskrit in 1913 at the then newly established DAV College Lahore. He was a voracious reader and even at the time of his death he had a book lying beside him on the bed. Aryasamaji while my mother was a devout Brahmin. She always taught me Brahamic sansakaras and urged me to memorize Vedic hymns, Sanskrit shalokas from Stotras like Charpat Manjree from Shankracharya. Even in childhood, a notion emerged in my mind that I was surrounded by the universe and that I was alone.
AS: Where did you study?
DB: I was admitted to First Standard in 1944 at Govt High School Ramnagar (now Govt. Model Hr Sec School Ramnagar) and studied there till 8th grade. then i moved to Punjab where i graduated from Punjab University in 1960-61 and post graduate degree in history from Aligarh Muslim University in 1965. In addition to this i graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education. Degree from Jammu Campus of the University of Jammu and Kashmir
AS: What prompted you to write?
DB: During the turmoil of 1952-53, I was arrested even though I was a student and locked up in the police cell for two days. So, after my 8th Standard Council exams, I was sent to Amritsar to live with my older brother and study there. Prior to my admission there, I spent a lot of time at Moti Lal Nehru Library studying Hindi and Punjabi literature. There were many literary activities in the parks of Amritsar and prominent Punjabi writers would congregate. Asha Singh Mastana was singing songs and I too wanted to sing songs. One day Surinder Kaur sang two songs in Chinese, I thought I’d learn Chinese too. Shanta Kumar Sharma, a former CM from Himachal Pradesh, was my classmate and we used to discuss Sanskrit literature. A Dogra refugee teacher influenced me a lot and he gave me the surname “Dogra”. I once gave a speech about the French Revolution in the period zero mass meeting on the school grounds mentioning the role of Rousseau, Voltaire, Diderot, Napoleon. Our director was amazed and the teachers too. They encouraged me in musical concerts and plays. My article was published in Dharamyug’s weekly ‘Ek Din ki Baat’ column and my teachers and classmates were surprised. I was given the title ‘Nutan’ which I kept for the future.
AS: How many books have you published so far?
DB: I have published thirteen novels in Dogri and seven novels in Hindi. Besides, I have also written short stories in Dogri, Hindi, Urdu and English numbering more than 300 and books based on my research work titled ‘Dogri Bhasha Te Vyakarana’ (Ekk Tihasik Parchol) ‘Dogri Bhasha Te Adab Di Tihasik Parchole’ (five volumes), The History of Trade Union Movement in J&K (Abridged Hindi (Vastvikta Ke Darpan mein) and Urdu (Haqeeqat ke Aayne mein), ‘Jammu Kshetra Aur Kashmir Kshetra, Bhed Aur Matbhed’. from this I have published four dramas in Dogri and research papers, articles, essays and satires in different languages.I have also published my work on political philosophy titled “On the Doctrine of Socialism in a Country and ‘India and its Revolutions’. ‘Duggar Dharti Te Mera Jeevan’ (my autobiography) and ‘Jangali Loke Full’ (a Dogri novel) are in the press awaiting publication.
AS: You have been a prolific writer and your contribution to literature is, indeed, tremendous, Sir. Have your works been translated into other languages?
DB: Yes, of course! My award-winning Dogri novel titled “Qaidi” has been translated into Urdu by Sahitaya Akademi, Delhi. I also translated this novel into Hindi. Also, many of my short stories, articles and research papers have been translated into Hindi, English, Urdu and other Indian languages.
AS: I heard that you have done a lot of research on Dogri grammar and the origin of the word “Duggar” Dogra” and “Dogri”. Could you shed some light on this discovery, sir?
DB: Dogra scholars have been confused about the origin of these important words for many years. In All India Dogri Writers Conference in March 1980, great Sanskrit scholar Dr. Bal Krishan Shastri developed a new formula supposed to create Dugaddh by copying Dvigart but Dr. Ved Kumari Ghai, HOD, University of Jammu objected saying that would lead to further confusion. But Dr. BK Shastri was adamant on his theory of NIKAS and VIKAS of the Dogri language. In the All India Dogri Writers Conference in 1985, I refuted the Nikas-Vikas theory and proved that the Dogri language was influenced by the ancient Persion of Iran. King Darius 1st of Iran had captured all this region up to the Beas River in 520 BC. I spent 35 years researching Dogri Vyakarana (Grammar) and found that the ancient language “Munda” influenced our Dogri Grammar, especially our “Infix”. Later, I discovered the word ‘Dogra’ (Kavach, Defender) in a branch of Munda and started research works on Dogra, Duggar and Dogri. Later, I discovered a “Munda Goddess” Tattee Devi” in Shivalik as a matriarch of the Munda tribe. Moreover, an archaeologist from Udhampur, Anil Paba recently discovered a matriarch of Munda in a sandstone idol at Beli, near Salmerhi (Udhampur). This idol seems to be older than the supposed idol of Pashupati Nath from Nepal. (Munda Matriarch’s idol could be seen on Anil Paba’s fb page)
AS: Your perspective on the downward trend in reading habits, especially among young people.
DD: We are ruled by imperialism and there is a growing tendency towards commercialization. The purpose of education has also changed and everyone is in the race to earn money. No one wants to study literature or engage in creative arts like painting, writing, and other creative pursuits that sublimate our instincts. In other words, society is “psychologically sick” and people fail to exercise proper control over their instincts. This is an unhealthy trend and voracious reading is a must for creative writing.
AS: Your advice to budding writers.
DD: Just one piece of advice. Study society thoroughly, whether you are a poet, playwright or novelist, write as you see it and find things impersonally.
AS: What do you see as the future of creative writing in J&K?
DB: Creative writing seems to have a bright future at J&K. But more than in Jammu, it is in Kashmir that creative writing has flourished a lot. Kashmir produced a Gianpeeth Awardee while Jammu did not. So we need to encourage young writers to focus on a high level of creative writing. It is the quality of a literary work and not the quantity that counts.