What inspired Chanderbhan Khayal to pen world's longest poem on Prophet Muhammad

Story by  Aasha Khosa | Posted by  Aasha Khosa | Date 07-07-2024
Poet and writer Chanderbhan Khayal
Poet and writer Chanderbhan Khayal


Aasha Khosa/New Delhi

Chanderbhan Khayal, a well-known name in the annals of Urdu literature, a Shatihya Akademy awardee, and author of 13 books, is the only person in the world to have penned a ballad in honor of the founder of Islam Prophet Muhammad. The Book, Laulak, comprises 400 couplets on 100 pages and has won him accolades and honours worldwide.

What made Chanderbhan Khayal, a native of village Babai Basti in the Hoshangabad (since renamed as Narmadapuram) district in the Hindi heartland of Madhya Pradesh state write a eulogy of the Prophet of Islam?

He was around 8-10 years old when he read an essay about the Prophet and it left a deep mark on his young mind. “I kept thinking and visualizing about the powerful personality of the Prophet. I marveled how some 1500 years ago, one person at the age of 23 had brought about radical changes in the entire society of the Arab world. He created a society where everyone was to be treated as equal; there was no injustice and no cumbersome religious ceremonies and rituals.”

Chanderbhan Khayal's book on Prophet Mohammad in Hindi

All his growing years he kept thinking about this powerful personality and it engaged his mind.

However, for the rest of his life as a student and later a literary figure, Chanderbhan continued to explore the life of Prophet Muhammad. “I picked all the details I could about the Life of the Prophet. I worked on the idea for 13 years and my book Loulak (If you were not there) was finally published in 2002,” he told Awaz-the Voice in a special conversation.

His book in Urdu was a roaring success as it has gone for a second edition in Urdu and has been translated into Hindi and many other languages.

Chanderbhan Khayal attending poetic Symposium on Prophet Muhammad in Mashhad city of Iran

The book Laulak earned him accolades from all over the Islamic world. He has fond memories of the occasion when he was invited by the Iranian government for a poetic symposium on Prophet Muhammad. He along with Rifat Saroj from India found themselves among 150 poets of different global languages at the Symposium in the city of Mashhad in 2004.

“As I recited my poem in Urdu, it was being simultaneously being translated into Persian. I received a thunderous standing applause from the audience for five minutes; everyone stood on their feet to greet me. The governor of the Province walked up to me and shook hands with me; the Imam of the city blessed me. I was interviewed by the local newspapers that also published long articles about me.”
He also remembers copious compliments and appreciation he received at home for his poem on Prophet Muhammad. “People of all faiths and religions have appreciated my work on Prophet,” he said.

Chanderbhan Khayal at a literary meet in New Delhi

I asked him how a person who comes from a Hindi-speaking region got interest in the Urdu language. He said it was because of his teacher Thakur Brijmohan Singh, a renowned Hindi poet of his times who noticed his usage of Urdu words in his poems.

Thukur advised the young poet that he must Urdu language or he would be lost as a poet.

“I saw the logic in this and went to many Muslims including the Imam of the local mosque to help him learn the Urdu language. To my shock, the Imam and all others said they don’t know Urdu.”

Later during his visit to Bhopal to attend a wedding he saw a book Hindi-Urdu teacher on the book stall at the railway station and bought it for 50 paisa. “I picked a lot of Urdu from this book in three months and my teacher was impressed with my progress in the language. Later when I shifted to Delhi to pursue a career in journalism, I got to improve my language.”

Chanderbhan Khayal gifting his book to poet-artist Anjali Ada

Today Khayal born a year before India gained freedom says the ground situation in the past 8 to ten years has been changing. “I go to my village and see hatreds growing. This is a painful part of my life as India is a land of love and co-existence and not hate.”

He signs off with a couplet of Firaq Gorakhpuri, “Sar Zameen-e-Hind par akwame alam ke firaq, kafile aateygaye and Hindustand banta raha (O Firaque of the soil of Hindustan and of people of the land; caravans kept moving in to make it Hindustan)

“I want India to remain in the same way as Firaq Gorakhpuri had visualized it.” Interestingly his ‘pen name “Khayal” was given by Firaq Gorakhpuri who was the Ustad of his Guru Pandit Ram Krishan Muztar, a great Persian scholar and poet.

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Chanderbhan Khayal lives in Delhi with his wife and three sons. He is the former Vice-President of the National Council for the Promotion of the Urdu Language (NCPUL).