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Gopaldas Neeraj- poet for eternity!

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Gopaldas Neeraj

कफ़न बढ़ा तो किस लिए नज़र तू डबडबा गई ?

सिंगार क्यों सहम गया बहार क्यों लजा गई ?

न जन्म कुछ, न मृत्यु कुछ, बस इतनी सिर्फ बात है

न जन्म कुछ, न मृत्यु कुछ, बस इतनी सिर्फ बात है

Poems, poets and poetries are just another love in the air adoration! And the poet who prophesied these chain of words beautifully was none other than Gopaldas Neeraj! This romantic revolutionary poet has left behind a legacy that remained fresh till now and served a blessing to Indian poetry, films and of course the unmatched philosophical insights! His poetries help one heal from anxieties about self and other. The bygone poet Gopaldas Neeraj wrote some of the most powerful poetries that we still cherish today! On his 95th birthday, let’s recount the tale of this legendary poet who with the power of words ruled Indian poetic history. 

Gopaldas Neeraj and his poetic journey 

Born on 4 January 1925, Gopaldas Neeraj was a renowned Indian poet and a Hindi author. He was also a poet of Hindi Kavi sammelan. He was born in the village of Puravali, near Mahewa in Etawah district in Uttar Pradesh. He was born as Gopaldas Saxena but later under his pen name ‘Neeraj’ he came to be known as Gopaldas Neeraj. Adversities never left his path as his father died when he was just 6 and was thus pushed to feed the family. Financial problems surrounded Neeraj and he was forced to leave his family to stay with his paternal aunt at Etah. After completing his high school, Neeraj moved back to Etawah and started earning. Though the poet inside him kept finding doors to be explored yet he had to work as a typist at the Etawah court and at a paan shop. He also worked for wall painting for advertisement of ayurvedic medicines. Pulling a rickshaw and diving into the Yamuna River to retrieve coins thrown by devotees were too on the list!    

Gopaldas Neeraj

The adversities tried hard on crushing his spirit but the poet inside the young man never left hope. At the age of 14, Neeraj performed his first stage play for which he was highly praised. In 1942, he took part in his first Kavi sammelan, his performance not only brought widespread praise but also won him the cash prize of 5 rupees which the poet cherished for his lifetime. For some time Neeraj wrote under the pen name of Bhaavuk Etaavi until he took other- his most famous pseudonym. But these acknowledgements never fed his stomach, and he gradually moved to Delhi where he worked as a typist at a monthly salary of 67 rupees. Luck hit him so hard that he had to send his half salary to his family and rest would use for himself which was not a sufficient amount. As a result he sometimes slept unfed and often skipped meals which ultimately caused him liver ailment. In 1944, Neeraj participated in a Kavi Sammelan where the famous poet Hafeez Jalandhari was so impressed by his poetries that he offered him a job of 120 rupees at a government department. This was the turning point of his life which accelerated like never before. During this period, Bengal Famine took place and Neeraj was sent there for inspection. Upon seeing such a disaster his heart was saddened but being a government employee he was bounded. Thus in order to do something, he gave up his job and moved to Kanpur where he worked as a clerk and as a stenographer. It was this time when Gopaldas Neeraj wrote one of his most popular poem- ‘Vidroh’.

Gopaldas Neeraj entry to the glamour world was rather a late event. He wrote several poems and songs which were proficient in both Hindi and Urdu for Hindi movies. He had written songs for some of the famous music directors of the Hindi film industry like, Kanyadaan, Prem Pujari, Sharmilee, Tere Mere Sapne, etc., but his career there ended when he became depressed at their deaths. He returned back to Aligarh where he concentrated focusing on writing poems and Dohas. The Great poet died in 2019 after finally succumbing to his ailments. However his journey had been, Neeraj the poet had always been better than Neeraj the lyricist. Some of his most cherished songs are Subah na aai sham na aai, Chham chham baaje re paayelia, Kaise kahe hum and many more.  

Gopaldas Neeraj, the Padma Shri awardee owned this world, the sorrows, joys, pleasures and extend compassion and chemistry with empathy. His poetries are stronger than our faith, humanity, and more about making you see the others’ point of view. Be it anything his poetries are eternal with love and devotion, the man never pursued words instead the words pursued him.    

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