Balochi literature is very rich in oral tradition but comparatively
poor in the printed form. It was only in the early twentieth century
that Balochi began to be transcribed in books. Under such trying
conditions, it wasn’t easy for anyone to devote his entire life to
the promotion of Balochi literature. Syed Zahoor Shah Hashmi was a
man with the commitment to do that.
Syed Hashmi just not modernized Balochi poetry by giving it a new
contemporary direction, but he also freed Balochi poetic diction
from the influence of Persian and Urdu. He set a mile stone by
writing the first Baloch novel in the language. He also developed
the standard Baloch script, standardized Balochi grammar, syntax and
authored the first comprehensive Balochi dictionary, with thousands
of entries spread on 833 folio size pages, supplemented with a guide
on pronunciation and punctuation etc.
Syed Hashmi born in 1939 A.D. in the coastal town of Gwadur,
which was then, lay in the territorial jurisdiction of the sultanate
of Oman. He received elementary education at home from his father,
Syed Mohammad Shah, who was a learned man in the oriental tradition.
He was enrolled in a local school, where he taught Arabic language
as a compulsory subject, besides Persian and English. When he was in
juvenile, he acquired a fondness for Persian poetry, particularly
that of Hafiz Shirazi, Shaikh Saadi and Allama Iqbal, which led his
writing Persian as well as Urdu poetry.
He forms a social welfare organization for the development of
Gwadur with the help of other inmates of Gwadur. Soon, he was very
popular in Gwadur for his truly commitments to their people. The
wali of Gwadur took notice this and realized that he might be
dangerous for him by creating this type of awareness in the people
of Gwadur. In a very short span of time, Syed Hashmi, not just
established a library in the town, but he also changed this library
into a centre of political activities. With the order of Wali of
Gwadur, he was arrested and sentenced into imprisoned. This act
wormed the atmosphere of Gwadur and Wali of Gwadur soon realized
that this might be changed into a worst scenario for him and his
Government position in the Gwadur. With this immense fear, the Wali
of Gwadur not just free him but also sent him into exile.
Syed Hashmi came to Pakistan and joined the Radio Pakistan
Karachi as in charge of Balochi Service. During his services of
Balochi transmission, he learned, that the Balochi language is very
poor in form of prose and modern literature. He also feels the
shortage of any standard Balochi script and grammar. With the aims
of providing a standard script to Balochi language and promotion of
good Balochi literature, he started writing not just Balochi poetry
but modern prose as well. He also started research about classic
Balochi poetry. He also took efforts for the merger of two Balochi
organizations Halqa-i-Adab and Balochi Bazm-i-Adab to form a one
organization Zuban-i-Sarchamag. In 1954, he compiled a basic Qaida
of Balochi language. This Qaida was much wormed welcomed and
approved by Sarchamag and veteran Balochi writer and researcher i.e.
Gul Khan Nasir and Mohammad Hussain Anqa. He and his linguist
colleague Abdul Samad Amiri visited different area of Balochistan
for the search of different dialects of Balochi language. In this
journey, they gathered valuable knowledge about the classical as
well as contemporary language and literature. Syed also visited Iran
to study the Balochi literature of that area.
Due to harsh disputes between the members of Sarchamag, he left
the Karachi and spent many years of his life in Bahrain.
During his last years of life, he devoted his days and nights for
the development of Balochi language. Tuberculosis caught him and his
health was deteriorating day by day, but he speeds up his works.
During his ailments, he compiled a book about Balochi grammar named
Balochi Siyahag-i-rast nibisag.
After discharge from hospital, he came once again in United
India, but this time his destination was Bombay, where he published
his books. These books were Balochi Siyahag-i-rast nibisag,
Sistaagen dastonk, Angar-o-trungle, Trapkanen trimp, Balochi
bungeji, Mirgind and Balochi translation of Quranic para, Ain Meem.
In 1963, a European orientalist Dr. John Strasser came to
Pakistan to study the Balochi language. He visited the different
Balochi-speaking areas of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, and held
meeting with the Balochi writers. Strasser also met Hashmi and was
greatly inspired by hid insight into Balochi language and
literature. Later, Strasser went to Pune (India) and invited Hashmi
to join him there. There the latter had meetings with the prominent
linguist Dr. N.S. Shukla and learnt a lot about the language of
Indo-Iranian origin from him, which deepened his knowledge of
In 1970, he married with Banul Dashtyari. In Karachi, Hashmi
published Nazuk, the first novel in Balochi language, and finalized
Sayad Gung (Balochi dictionary), Balochi Zuban-o-Adab ki Tarikh and
other books. Sayad Gung is the most precious labor of his life,
which took 26 years of extensive research, challenging journeys
across the Balochi-speaking world and countless discussion with the
scholars, and the common folk to complete.
Syed Hashmi died April 1978 A.D. in Karachi. He is no more now,
but his countless efforts for the promotion of Balochi language will
remain in our minds.
Books and Author ( DAWN Karachi )