Literature and Society “A race without reading is a race without hope”

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Books are a store of wisdom, more valuable than money.  Knowledge is something no one can rob from you.

Literature is an inspiring agent.  It can awaken the sleeping minds and can play havoc to break the shackles of slavery from physical, mental and emotional barriers.  It records the thoughts and feelings of great minds. It attracts in two ways—through its matter and through its manner. The matter must be such that those who read it are interested in some way. The manner must be such as will be pleasing to the reader and adds to his store of useful knowledge.

The society and the literature are complementary to each other.  They are like a mirror to each other. A writer can see himself in the society and the society also can see its image in its writers. There are relation and interaction between men who live in the society. We like to hear about their thoughts and feelings, their likes and dislikes in the forms of poetry, novel, story and essay.  Writers have the power of language to express their feelings.

Society reacts to literature in a direct way. Inspirational writings create general influence on society. It rouses our feelings and enthusiasm for welfare.

Different types of writings – prose and poetry – are known to have changed the direction of human mind and set in motion movements that have altered the course of history all over the world.

The literature of the era of Indian Freedom struggle inspired many patriots to sacrifice their lives at the altar of freedom.  In this regard, the following poetry and even spoken literature were directly responsible for a movement against slavery of the British colonial rule: “Sar pharoshiki tamannaaabhamaredilmeinhain.  Dekhnahaijorkitnabajuaikatilmeinhai” – Today we are ready to die for freedom.  We have to see how powerful the cruel is? and “Pagri sambhaljatta, pagri sambhaloye.  Loot gaya mal tera loot gaya mal oye.” – O common man, guard your honour.  It is at stake. 

The novels of Munshi Prem Chand had an indirect influence in creating in society a feeling for regulating and removing social wrongs, calling for necessary reforms.Sarat Chandra’s novels have gone a long way in breaking conservatism as regards women in our society. It is, however, clear that if we are interested in literature, its influence is bound to move us amply.

Normally, a conservative writer will stress those aspects of social life, which advocate old and the traditional ways of life or status quo in the best possible way. For example, he will set a high value on reverence for age-old ideals, respect for superstitions, rituals, illogic, dominance over the weak and the woman and so on. On the other hand, a progressive writer will tend to show how old ideals and ideas act as restraints on the natural freedom of the human mind, cripple the free movement of man and women in an unrestricted atmosphere, set for liberating new ideals and moving society that looks forward to newer ways of life.

It becomes a duty of society to read and evaluate literature. It is unfortunate that we as Indiansare lacking in reading habits. There are some examples to compare: – the average person in China reads only 0.7 books/year; Vietnam 0.8 books; India 1.2 books, Korea 7 books.  Only Japan can compare with Western countries with 40 books/yearand Russia alone is 55 books.  A German readat least one book a week.  Similar numbers for the Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark).

On June 12, under the auspices of “Lok Kavi Gurdass Ram AlamSahit Sabha, Canada, a literary programme was organised by Principal (retd.) Malook Chand Kaler at 7050, Seniors’ Centre, Surrey- Delta. BC.  Principal Kalerfounded the Sabha in 2018. UstadUlfatBajwa, a contemporary of Alam was also remembered fondly. Gurdass Ram Alam, (1912- 1989) an unlettered progressive and activist poet worked as a labourer at a brick kiln.  He wrote about the woes of thedown-trodden society.  His main compilations in Punjabi are ‘Je mein mar gaya, Alle Phat, Ud-diyanDhuran, Aapnaaap. ‘UlfatBajwa, another prolific and activist poet wrote ‘Sara Jahan Mera.’ describing the pain and pleasure of  common man. The main speakers on the occasion who highlighted the significance of the poetry of both these poets were Dr. Gurvinder Dhaliwal, Punjabi Sahit Sabha, Abbotsford; Manmohan Samra, Prime Asia TV, Principal Kaler, Bhupinder Malli, Rajinder Pandher of ‘Sach Di Awaj, Amrik Mann, General Secretary, Indo-Canadian Seniors’ Sunset Society, Vancouver and Ambassador(retd.) Zile Singh. Sardar Harcharan Gill conducted the stage.  Sita Ram Ahir had his camera ready.