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The Story behind AMU Tarana

Union Hall Lawn, AMU

MILLIONS of AMU students and alumni around the world sing the university tarana every year. It brings back so many Aligarh memories to me and countless others. The tarana itself is a fine piece of Urdu poetry and the story behind it is an interesting one.

One of AMU’s most famous student and an Urdu poet of the highest calibre, Asrar-ul-Haq Majaz, attended the University between 1930 and 1936.2 It was 1936 when he penned his famous poem Nazr-e-Aligarh.Majaz first recited it the same year in the Union Hall, in the presence of the Pro-Vice Chancellor (PVC) A.B. Ahmed Haleem. Haleem stopped the recital when Majaz reached the lines “YahaaN ham ne kamandeN daalii haiN, Yahan hum ney shabkhooN (night raids) maaray haiN; YahaN hum nay qabaayeN nochii haiN, yahan hum nay taaj utaarey haiN” (Trans: We have scaled buildings here and ambushed here, We have torn garments here and removed crowns here4), and walked out. The huge gathering of students asked him to continue but Majaz did not. He had to relent later, and completed it in the Union Hall’s lawns (between Morrison court and Union building).3
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Asrar-ul-Haq Majaz – A Journey of Love, Hope and Nationalism

THE year was 1935. The union hall of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) was brimming with students and the atmosphere was electric. A young man in sherwani stands up. He runs his hand through his long locks, and recites his poem ‘Inquilab’ in his own inimitable style –

“KohsaaroN ki taraf se surkh aandhi aayegi
Ja-baja aabaadiyoN meiN aag si lag jaayegi
Aur is rang-e-shafaq meiN ba-hazaraaN aab-o taab
Jagmagaaega watan ki hurriyat ka aaftaab”

[A red storm is approaching from over the mountains
Sparking a fire in the settlements
And on this horizon, amidst a thousand tumults
Shall shine the sun of our land’s freedom]1

The hall reverberates with a thunderous applause. Asrar-ul-Haq Majaz was destined for greatness! Read the rest of this entry