Pehla Phull remains a trendsetter

Rajeshwar Singh ‘Raju’
Dogri Literature
If we cast a look at the Dogri literature in the past, then it is pertinent to add here that although not a long inning but still within 75 years, it has enriched itself enormously thanks to creative writings by dogri litterateurs. It was only during 1947 that first ever collection of dogri short stories entitled ‘PEHLA PHULL’ was published by Bhagwat Prasad Sathe, regarded as father of Dogri short story. It is quite astonishing that it took ten long years that second collection of short stories entitled’ SUI DHAGA’ was published by Lalita Mehta. Thereafter quite a few more short story writers came ahead being followed by many thus making colossal contributions to Dogri Literature and it became a continuous process. Now every year so many books get published but ‘PEHLA PHULL’ remains a history.
‘PEHLA PHULL’ has 11 short stories. It is said that first edition of the book had 9 short stories ‘KUDMEN DA LAHMA’,’MANGTE DA GHARAT’, ‘BOOBAN DI NUHAR’, ‘SAHARA’, ‘HEEKHI’, ‘AMMA’,’ DOHRI’,’KHADJANTAR’ and ‘PEHLA PHULL’ but two more short stories ‘JALLU’ and ‘PAROKH’ were included in 2nd edition published in 1966.
The writer has written these stories revolving around familiar situations and characters that makes it easy for readers to connect with the backdrop of that era. When it was published, It was warmly received by the litterateurs as well as literature lovers. On the popular demand of dogri lovers and research scholars in particular, Dogri Sanstha Jammu had to reprint it. So far four editions have been printed by Dogri Sanstha but still it is in demand for being the first ever book of dogri short stories.
It is significant to add here that Bhagwat Prasad Sathe was one of the founder members of Dogri Sanstha Jammu along with Prof.Ramnath Shastri, Pt. Dinu Bhai Pant, Dharam Chand Prashant, Sansar Chand Baru and Narayana Dutt Mishra, a pioneer literary organization working for promotion of mother tongue dogri and regional cultural heritage that was formed on Basant Panchami day in 1944.
Although it is a fact that these stories cannot be compared with stories being written in dogri language at present because the world has changed a lot. The development in every field and revolution of technology has opened new vistas for litterateurs and their canvas has taken to new heights. But these stories were remarkable in their time and still have all the contemporary values.
If first story of book ‘KUDMEN DA LAHMA’ revolves aroundKesri’s sacrifice for safeguarding her father’s respect before her in-laws, ‘MANGTE DA GHARAT’ advocates genuineness of the owner of gharat who wishes that Mehmudu should own his gharat after his demise . ‘BOOBAN DI NUHAR’ presents spot response like interesting interaction betweenBooban and PahalwanPurohit which amuses the reader. ‘SAHARA’ takes us to that period when widows had to undergo all sorts of atrocities with life hanging in uncertain future. The story explores the innermost feelings of a young widow Paro for Ramu who visits her to give tuition but such feels are meant to be buried down in this society which is so much conservative.
‘HEEKHI’ is an emotional story of parents who get informed about the death of their son, an army personal apprehended by Japanese army probably during 2ndWorld war thus putting an end even to expectations of parents for their son’s safe return.
‘AMMA’ seems to be a folk tale about Ramnagar’s king Raja Suchet Singh who meets an old lady in a dense forest who quenches his thirst with milk that she was supposed to deliver to Lambardar as ‘begar’ since Lambardar exploited her in the name of king. Once when she gets a call from Royal house, the old lady realizes there that it was Raja Suchet Singh himself whom she had me in forest. The king is obliged and requests her to deliver milk to him directly not as ‘begar’ but like a mother offering milk to her son.
‘DOHRI’ is a thought provoking story revolving around a social evil prevalent in Duggar society regarding marrying a girl against a girl. If parents have no daughter to offer as a substitute, the marriage of their son was not possible. During this practice young girls had to suffer from mental agony as they were just traded for marriages. ‘KHADJANTAR’ a very short story revolves around the conspiracies hatched in Royal Families to get throne and ‘PEHLA PHULL’ is again like a folk tale revolving around the tussle between the king Bhudev of Ramnagar who had got lotus plants cultivated in a pond that was in the field of a Brahmin Dhruvu. Both King as well as Dhruvu wish to offer first flower to Lord Narsingh a as their first right. One night Dhruv takes the first call, plucks the flower and offers to Lord Narsingh a in the temple which annoys the King. He issues orders to tie Dhruvu and his son and drays them throughout the city that results in death of both. Ultimately King has to suffer for his sin and experiences the worst for Brahmin Hatya.
‘JALLU’ is one of the best short stories of the book about Jallu ‘sexploitation in man dominated society. Although the story may be quite old one but the exploitation of females is still very much in practice. The last story of the book ‘PAROKH’ is a perfect example of village life and exposes the conflicts between the hard working family who has no time to give ear to their criticism for no reasons and that family which has all the reasons only to criticize others. But it’s only the neighboures who come to their rescue when they need them most, is the message conveyed through story.
While summing up , I would like to add that ‘PEHLA PHULL’ is a very dear collection of short stories for all dogri lovers. It is historical and needs be appreciated for beautiful short stories on varied subjects penned down by Bhagwat Prasad Sathe. This book inspired others to write in their mother tongue ‘DOGRI’ and such it has a special place in Dogri Literature ‘garden rightly as ” PEHLA PHULL”.