Baqar Ali Chirkeen


Sheikh Baqar Ali ‘Chirkeen’ the urdu poet who became symbol of scatology in urdu shayari, is one of the lesser known greats of urdu poetry. His poetry was unique, innovative and interesting but has been neglected by people terming it to be obscene. His boldness earned him the wrath of the literati of those times, had it not been for a few brave souls, his works would have been lost a long time ago. Chirkeen’s poetry focuses on those aspects of life from which others generally refrain.

Chirkeen was born in qasba Rudauli of Barabaki District but spent most of his life in Lucknow that is why he is better known as Chirkeen Lucknavi. His father was Fazal Ali who lived in mohallah, Khwaja Hall in Rudauli. He was born in 1797, lived a short life of about 36 years and died in 1832.

His mentor ‘Nawab Aashoor Ali Khan’ of Lucknow, a poet himself encouraged upcoming shayars and participated in their gatherings. He groomed many of his pupil but only two of them ‘Baqr Ali Chirkeen’ and ‘Meer Yaar Ali Jaan Saheb’ became popular. It is said that Chikeen initially wrote normal poetry but some people used to copy his poetry and recited in mushairas claiming Chikeen’s work to be theirs. Angered by it Chirkeen started to compose such poetry which nobody would dare to copy. After that he composed poetry which invariably contained such words which were felt un-acceptable in society.

Chirkeen’s poetry generally evokes two kinds of reactions. The first is outright disapproval, and this behavior is generally observed amongst those who consider themselves civilized. Then there are those, who relish the not-so-nice mode of expression. According to ‘Shams-ur-Rehman Farooqi’, a famous critic, when it comes to Chirkeen’s poetry, people confuse its form for the content. According to Farooqi, the so-called obscenity is not in the poetry per se; rather, it is in the mind of the reader. Thus, in Farooqi’s view, terms such as uncivilized, vulgar and obscene are themselves subject to interpretation.

Chirkeen was on the rise at the time when stalwarts like ‘Haider Ali Aatish’, ‘Mushafi’, ‘Nasekh’, ‘Meer Khleeq’’, ‘Salamat Ali Dabeer’, ‘Barq Lucknavi’, ‘Daya Shankar Naseem’ , ‘Khwaja Meer Wazir’, ‘Sayed Mohd. Khan Rind’, ‘Wazir Ali Saba’ were active in literary circles of Lucknow. His language is same as that of Aatish, Nasekh and Mushafi and utilization of idioms and vocabulary in poetry is same that was prevailing in Lucknow at that time.

There is hardly any poet who talks about his beloved in a manner that makes her seem like a real person, just as imperfect and prone to the vagaries of life like the rest of us but Chikeen chose to depict it in his own mode of expression boldly.  He rarely, if ever, used sexual content in his verses but scat and toiletry are the symbol of his poetry. A delicate satire and humor is found in his work. His subject may be dirty but his love for natural beauty in totality and the technical perfection of his poetry is worth appreciation by a neutral person.

“Diwan-e-Chirkeen” was first published by ‘Sayed Maqsood Aalam’ 25 years after the death of Chirkeen. Diwan-e-Chirkeen and “Chirkeen Nama” consisting of 15 ghazals has been published several times by different publishers.


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