Amrita Pritam

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Amrita Pritam (August 31, 1919 – October 31, 2005) (Punjabi: ਅਮ੝ਰਿਤਾ ਪ੝ਰੀਤਮ, amritĝ prītam, ) was a Punjabi writer. She is considered the first prominent woman Punjabi poet, novelist, and essayist. When the former British India was partitioned into the independent states of India and Pakistan, she migrated to India in 1947.

Formative Years

Amrita Pritam was born in 1919 in Gujranwala, Punjab, now in Pakistan, the only child of a school teacher and a poet. Her father was a pracharak -- a preacher of the Sikh faith. Amrita's mother died when she was eleven. Soon after, she and her father moved to Lahore. Confronting adult responsibilities, she began to write at an early age. Her first collection was published when she was only sixteen years old, the year she married Pritam Singh, an editor to whom she was engaged in early childhood.

Partition and Her Poem - Aj Aakhaan Waris Shah Noo

Some one million Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs died from communal violence that followed the partition of India in 1947. Amrita Pritam then moved to New Delhi. Her anguish was expressed in her poem, "Aaj Aakhaan Waris Shah Noo", addressed to the Sufi poet Waris Shah, author of the tragic saga of Heer and Ranjah, the Punjabi national epic:

ਅਜ ਆਖਾਂ ਵਾਰਸ ਸ਼ਾਹ ਨੂੰ ਕਿਤੋਂ ਕਬਰਾਂ ਵਿਚੋਂ ਬੋਲ।
ਤੇ ਅਜ ਕਿਤਾਬੇ ਇਸ਼ਕ ਦਾ ਕੋਈ ਅਗਲਾ ਵਰਕਾ ਫੋਲ।
ਇਕ ਰੋਈ ਸੀ ਧੀ ਪੰਜਾਬ ਦ ਤੂ ਲਿਖ ਲਿਖ ਮਾਰੇ ਵੈਣ
ਅਜ ਲਖਾਂ ਧੀਆਂ ਰੌਂਦੀਆਂ ਤੇਨੂ ਵਾਰਸਸ਼ਾਹ ਨੂੰ ਕਹਿਣ:
ਵੇ ਦਰਦਮਂ ਦਾਂ ਦਿਆ ਦਰਦੀਆ ਉਠ ਆਪਣਾ ਪੰਜਾਬ।
ਅਜ ਬੇਲੇ ਲਾਸ਼ਾਂ ਵਿਛੀਆਂ ਤੇ ਲਹੂ ਦੀ ਭਰੀ ਚਨਾਬ
ਕਿਸੇ ਨੇ ਪੰਜਾਂ ਪਾਣੀਆਂ ਵਿਚ ਦਿਤੀ ਜ਼ੀਹਰ ਰਲਾ
ਤੇ ਉਨਾਂ ਪਾਣੀਆਂ ਧਰਤ ਨੂੰ ਦਿਤਾ ਪਾਣੀ ਲਾ
ਇਸ ਜ਼ਰਖੇਜ਼ ਜ਼ਮੀਨ ਦੇ ਲ੝ੰ ਲ੝ੰ ਛ੝ਟਿਆ ਜ਼ੀਹਰ
ਗਿਠ ਗਿਠ ਚੜ੝ਰੀਆਂ ਲਾਲੀਆਂ ਛ੝ਟ ਛ੝ਟ ਚੜਿਆ ਕਹਿਰ
ਵਿਹ੝ ਵਲਿਸੀ ਵਾ ਫਿਰ ਵਣ ਵਣ ਵਗੀ ਜਾ
ੳਹਨੋ ਹਰ ਇਕ ਵਾਂਸ ਦੀ ਵੰਝਣੀ ਦਿਤੀ ਨਾਗ ਬਣਾ
ਪਹਿਲਾ ਡੰਗ ਮਦਾਰੀਆਂ ਮੰਤ੝ਰ ਗਝ ਗ੝ਆਚ
ਦੂਜੇ ਡੰਗ ਦੀ ਲਗ ਗਈ ਜਣੇ ਖਣੇ ਨੂੰ ਲਾਗ
ਲਾਗਾਂ ਕੀਲੇ ਲੋਕ-ਮੂੰਹ ਬਸ ਫਿਰ ਡੰਗ ਹੀ ਡੰਗ
ਪਲੌ ਪਲੀ ਪੰਜਾਬ ਦੇ ਨੀਲੇ ਪੈ ਗਝ ਅੰਗ।
ਗਲਿੳਂ ਟ੝ਟੇ ਗੀਤ ਫਿਰ ਤ੝ਰਕਲਿਉਂ ਟ੝ਟੀ ਤੰਦ
ਤ੝ਰਿੰਜਣੋਂ ਟ੝ਟੀਆੰ ਸਹੇਲੀਆਂ ਚਰਖੜੇ ਘੂਕਰ ਬੰਦ
ਸਣੇ ਸੇਜ ਦੇ ਬੇੜੀਆਂ ਲ੝ਡਣ ਦਿੀਆਂ ਰੋੜ੝ਰ
ਸਣੇ ਡਾਲੀਆਂ ਪੀਂਘ ਅਜ ਪਿਪਲਾਂ ਦਿਤੀ ਤੋੜ
ਜਿਥੇ ਵਜਦੀ ਸੀ ਫੂਕ ਪਿਆਰ ਦੀ ਵੇ ਉਹ ਵੰਝਲੀ ਗਈ ਗ੝ੳਾਚ
ਦੇ ਸਭ ਵੀਰ ਅਜ ਭ੝ਲ ਗਝ ਉਹਦੀ ਜਾਚ
ਧਰਤੀ ਤੇ ਲਹੂ ਵਸਿਆ ਕਬਰਾਂ ਪਈਆਂ ਚੋਣ
ਪਰੀਤ ਦੀਆਂ ਸ਼ਾਹਜ਼ਾਦੀਆਂ ਅਜ ਵਿਚ ਮਜ਼ਾਰਾਂ ਰੋਣ
ਅਜ ਮਭੇ ਕੈਦੋ ਬਣ ਗਝ ਹ੝ਸਨ ਇਸ਼ਕ ਦੇ ਚੋਰ
ਅਜ ਕਿਥੋੰ ਲਿਆਈਝ ਲਭ ਕੇ ਵਾਰਸ ਸ਼ਾਹ ਇਕ ਹੋਰ
ਅਜ ਆਖਾਂ ਵਾਰਸ ਸ਼ਾਹ ਨੂੰ ਕਿਤੋਂ ਕਬਰਾਂ ਵਿਚੋਂ ਬੋਲ।
ਤੇ ਅਜ ਕਿਤਾਬੇ ਇਸ਼ਕ ਦਾ ਕੋਈ ਅਗਲਾ ਵਰਕਾ ਫੋਲ।

aj aakhan Waris Shah nun, kiton kabraan vichchon bol,

te aj kitab-e-ishq daa koi agla varka phol

ik roi si dhi Punjab di, tun likh likh maare vaen,

aj lakhaan dhian rondian, tainun Waris Shah nun kaehn

uth dardmandaan dia dardia, uth takk apna Punjab

aj bele lashaan bichhiaan te lahu di bhari Chenab

kise panjan panian vichch ditti zehr ralaa

te unhaan paniian dharat nun ditta paani laa

is zarkhez zamin de lun lun phuttia zehr

gitth gitth charhiaan laalian fut fut charhiaa qehr

veh vallissi vha pher, van van vaggi jaa,

ohne har ik vans di vanjhali ditti naag banaa

pehlaa dang madaarian, mantar gaye guaach,

dooje dang di lagg gayi, jane khane nun laag

laagaan kile lok munh, bus phir dang hi dang,

palo pali Punjaab de, neele pae gaye ang

gale`on tutt`e geet phir, takaleon tuttii tand,

trinjanon tuttiaan saheliaan, charakhrre ghukar band

sane sej de beriaan, Luddan dittiaan rohr,

sane daliaan peengh aj, piplaan dittii tor

jitthe vajdi si phuuk pyaar di, ve oh vanjhali gayi guaach

Raanjhe de sab veer aj, bhul gaye uhadi jaach

dharti te lahoo varsiya, kabraan paiaan choan,

preet diaan shaahzaadiaan, aaj vichch mazaaraan roan

aj sabbhe Kaido` ban gaye, husn, ishq de chor

aj kitthon liaaiye labbh ke Waris Shah ik hor

aj aakhan Waris Shah nun, kiton kabraan vichchon bol,

te aj kitaab-e-ishq da, koi aglaa varka phol


Today, I call Waris Shah, “Speak from your grave”

And turn, today, the book of love’s next affectionate page

Once, a daughter of Punjab cried and you wrote a wailing saga

Today, a million daughters, cry to you, Waris Shah

Rise! O’ narrator of the grieving; rise! look at your Punjab

Today, fields are lined with corpses, and blood fills the Chenab

Someone has mixed poison in the five rivers’ flow

Their deadly water is, now, irrigating our lands galore

This fertile land is sprouting, venom from every pore

The sky is turning red from endless cries of gore

The toxic forest wind, screams from inside its wake

Turning each flute’s bamboo-shoot, into a deadly snake

With the first snakebite; all charmers lost their spell

The second bite turned all and sundry, into snakes, as well

Drinking from this deadly stream, filling the land with bane

Slowly, Punjab’s limbs have turned black and blue, with pain

The street-songs have been silenced; cotton threads are snapped

Girls have left their playgroups; the spinning wheels are cracked

Our wedding beds are boats their logs have cast away

Our hanging swing, the Pipal tree has broken in disarray

Lost is the flute, which once, blew sounds of the heart

Ranjha’s brothers, today, no longer know this art

Blood rained on our shrines; drenching them to the core

Damsels of amour, today, sit crying at their door

Today everyone is, ‘Kaido;’ thieves of beauty and ardour

Where can we find, today, another Warish Shah, once more

Today, I call Waris Shah, “Speak from your grave”

And turn, today, the book of love’s next affectionate page

Amrita Pritam worked until 1961 for All India Radio. After her divorce in 1960, her work became more clearly feminist. Many of her stories and poems drew on the unhappy experience of her marriage. A number of her works have been translated into English, French, Japanese and other languages from Punjabi and Urdu, including her autobiographical works Black Rose and Revenue Stamp (Raseedi Tikkat in Punjabi).

The first of Amrita Pritam's books to be filmed was Daaku, directed by Basu Bhattacharya. Her novel Pinjar (The Skeleton, 1970) was made into an award winning movie because of its humanism: "Amritaji has portrayed the suffering of people of both the countries." Pinjar was shot in a border region of Rajasthan and in Punjab.


The first woman recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1956 for Sunehe (Messages), Amrita Pritam received the Bhartiya Jnanpith, India's highest literary award, in 1982 for Kagaj te Canvas (Paper and Canvas). She received the Padma Vibhushan, India's second highest civilian award, as well. She received D Litt degrees, honoris causa, from Delhi, Jabalpur and Vishva Bharti Universities.

Amrita Pritam lived the last forty years of her life with the renowned artist, Imroz. She died on 31st October 2005 at the age of 86, after a long illness, survived by her daughter, Kundala; her son, Navraj; and her grandson, Aman.

Her story cannot be completed without the name of Sahir.

Amrita Pritam and Pakistan

Amrita born in Pakistan. She is well respected in literary circles of Pakistan. Malik Khushi Muhammad, a revolutionary poet of Lahore, paid a warm tribute to Amrita in his poetical work. At her death, he wrote:







  • Pinjar
  • Doctor Dev
  • Kore Kagaz, Unchas Din
  • Sagar aur Seepian
  • Rang ka Patta
  • Dilli ki Galiyan
  • Terahwan Suraj
  • Yaatri


  • Rasidi Ticket
  • Shadows of Words

Short stories

  • Kahaniyan jo Kahaniyan Nahi
  • Kahaniyon ke Angan mein


  • Chuni Huyee Kavitayen

Literary Journal

  • Nagmani

External links