Ustad Daman اُستاد دامن, (real name Chiragh Deen), چِراغ دِین , (4 September 1911 – December 3, 1984) was a Punjabi poet, writer, and a mystic. He was the most celebrated Punjabi language poet at the time of the Partition of British India in 1947.
“Eh Duniya Mandi Paise Di, Har Cheej Vikendi Bhaa Sajjna, Ethe Ronde Chehre Vikde Nahi, Hasne Di Aadat Paa Sajjna”… A severe critic of military dictators who ruled over Pakistan for many decades, his most quoted lines censure the state of affairs in his country:
Wherever you look, it’s shops selling cigarettes and paan
Long live Pakistan!
Wherever you look, it’s shops selling bread and ‘naan’
Long live my Pakistan!
He was introduced into politics by Mian Iftikharuddin, a known left-leaning politician, a member of Pakistan Movement and owner of Pakistan Times – a major newspaper in Lahore, Pakistan. Ustad Daman was introduced originally as part of the struggle for independence from the British rule. A tailor by profession, in 1930, he stitched a suit for Iftikharuddin, who got impressed by his inspiring poetry verse, when the two met each other at his shop. He invited Ustad Daman to recite his poem at a public meeting organized by the Indian National Congress, where Ustad Daman became an instant hit. Pandit Nehru, who was present at that public meeting, dubbed him the ‘Poet of Freedom’ after listening to his revolutionary anti-imperialist poetry. At the time of 1947 Partition of British India, his shop and house were burned down by rioting mobs and his wife and young daughter was killed. However, Ustad Daman decided to stay in Lahore and the newly created country of Pakistan. He remained, throughout his life, a fierce opponent of dictatorship, civilian or military, and all corruption and hypocrisy. His work and poetry were published as ‘Daman dey Moti’ after his death by his devoted followers and admirers. The poems he wrote are still widely quoted in Punjab as well as in other regions of Pakistan. He first wrote under the pen name ‘Humdam’, which was later changed to ‘Daman’. The title ‘Ustad’ (meaning teacher or expert) was bestowed on him by the local people. After that, he became a regular participant in these political public meetings. He believed that the unity of Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs was essential, if the struggle for freedom from the British, was to be carried on successfully. An example of his poetry:
In China, the Chinese are grand,
In Russia, they do as they have planned
In Japan, its people rule over its strand
The British rule the land of England,
The French hold the land of France,
In Tehran, the Persians make their stand
The Afghans hold on to their highland,
Turkmenistan’s freedom bears the Turkmen’s brand,
How very strange is indeed this fact,
That freedom in India is a contraband.