The maulvi, the tavern and Dr. Bachchan

A bunch of maulanas has dared to decide what is good reading material and literature. They have issued a fatwa against Harivanshrai Bachchan’s Madhushala, saying it “was anti Islamic and also unfit to be taught at any academic institute”. Some Muslim organisation from MP approached these fools for an opinion on the book, asking them about the wisdom of it being a prescribed text in schools and colleges even as it “eulogised alcohol and drunkenness.”

Dr. Bachchan is dead and no one issues fatwas against books or inanimate objects. These ‘learned men’ should stick to their jobs and stop messing around with what is none of their business. If they are so concerned, then perhaps they’d like to do some checking out of mushairas in Lucknow from where they are issuing such edicts. Do something about the sharab-kebab stuff first. Major Urdu and Persian poets have used the imagery of alcohol and drunkenness to convey various emotions – from the sublime subsumation with a god to the basic one of enjoying the moment.

Madhushala was published in 1935. These guys wake up now; of course they could have been born much later. But what were they doing for the past so many years? Why did they suddenly discover this book? And what does being anti-Islamic have to do with what is taught in general schools? It is not as though it is being read in the madrassas.

I suspect it is Mayawati who is pulling their beards only because she has a problem with the Samajwadi Party. These people should fight their political battles without bringing in something that has no bearing on and of which they have scant, if any, knowledge.

Imagine these guys taking time out to read 135 verses in shuddh Hindi and then having the gall to say they passed the decree because they felt it “turned out to be hurtful to the sentiments of devout”.

How many of these so-called devout have been reading Madhushala? If it is a regular text, then too “it’s potential for promoting moral depravity and licentiousness in society, particularly among youth” does not make sense.

The nawaabs of Lucknow were known for their ayyaishi. The youth is not going to read some sanskritised Hindi to get depraved and go have fun. Their hormones will work it out for them.

These people are worried because someone must have told them their jobs are being ridiculed:

dharm granth sab jalaa chuki hein, jiske bheetar ki jwalaa
mandir, masjid, girje sab kuchh, toade chuka jo matwaalaa
pandit, momin, padariyon ke, phandon ko jo kaat chuka
kar sakti hae aaj usi ka, swaagat meri Madhushala

Which is:

That, whose fire from within, has burnt all holy books of his religion
That, who has demolished all his personal religious structures- temple, mosque or church
That who has freed himself from the clutches of religious priests- Pandit, Imam or Bishop
That alone is today welcome in my Madhushala

The faithful, if they take the verse literally, must have enough faith in their religion not to be swayed (pardon the pun) by this and am sure they would not be desperate to enter this madhushala at all.

Do you think that those who have burnt down places of worship in various parts of the world have read this book? And have they touched their own places of worship that the poet talks about? No.

So it would do these maulvis some good if they improved the lot of those who come to pray. The ones who read the Quran, the Bhagwad Gita, the Bible as the last word have enough confidence in those words. Or they ought to. Otherwise, why read them?

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Anyone there? Could someone please send printouts of my Vexpert series to these Lucknow daadhi-dudes? I wanna get f****d…erm…uhh…aahhh….

I mean fatwaed, of course.


  1. FV:

    Redux time! Didn't someone complain to Mahatma Gandhi when Madhushala was released that it promoted alcoholism? And Harivansh Rai Bachchan clarified to Gandhi, who was convinced that it had nothing to do with alcohol.

    मुसलमान औ' हिन्दू है दो, एक, मगर, उनका प्याला, एक, मगर, उनका मदिरालय, एक, मगर, उनकी हाला, दोनों रहते एक न जब तक मस्जिद मन्दिर में जाते, बैर बढ़ाते मस्जिद मन्दिर मेल कराती मधुशाला!

    The Muslim and the Hindu are different, but they drink out of the same cup/
    They drink at the same tavern, their wine is also the same/
    They remain together so long as they stay away from the temple or mosque/
    The temple and the mosque divide but the tavern only unites.

  2. When I was reading this news online, I somehow knew that this will appear on FV's blog ....I can also live in the illuison of being socially intelligent.
    I also sense that all this is politically motivated, courtesy "Susree" Mayawati (thats how my maid calls her)....
    On fatwa, here's my humble suggestion, , put three things on your shopping list ....Some nice dresses , a Nike woman golf set and a blackberry...u see when you get the fatwa....all the Media will be chasing you, I am sure you will floor them with crisp,suttle and effortless expression...nice dresses will help, one for each channel . Please give priority to Vir Sanghvi :)..
    You will need the Golf set as you would have trips to Europe..see all these places have nice courses so you can Tee off in the mornings ....
    Blackberry as you might need to reply emails which will become breaking news on CNN....or Al Jazeera ....

    You will wipe off memories of Taslima Nasreen ...she had thick bangala accent and Mamta like clothes ....You will be an Indian Ambassador in Fatwadom ....please do a good job :)

  3. PS:

    "The temple and the mosque divide but the tavern only unites"

    Nah. Depends whether you are sitting in a Chandni bar or the Library bar at Hotel President!
    - - -

    Thanks for the shopping list...my wardrobe is rather nice, golf would make me a bored type and a Blackberry..well, my phone manages emails.

    Be sure that Vir Sanghvi will give me priority!

    As for Taslima Nasreen, if anyone retains memories of her, then they are not invited to my club. I don;t need to wipe out traces of her. She is way too superficial. And cannot write...

    Repose your trust in me, if you will, but I shall represent only myself and not the country.

    Btw, Tasleema is NOT Indian.

  4. Yes, you are right, Taslima is Bangaldeshi , I knew that however I was just comparing how you would interview compared to her ......
    Fair callout on representing India .

  5. MJ Akbar made a nice refutation in TOI-Roorkee edition, quoting from Galib to Zouk, Daag and even Iqbal, who wrote about wine and defiance of priestly hegemony, in Urdu poetry.
    I think the fatwa requestor (or the Maulvis) do not read much of Urdu poetry :O


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