Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia

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Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia (1935 - ), is a leading radical Punjabi poet. He has a post-graduate degree in English and earned his doctorate for his thesis on New conception of Reality, and got into the Punjab Civil Service. He came on deputation to Punjabi University, Patiala for some time as Director, Planning and Development (Punjabi). He worked as Director, Punjab State University Text Book Board, and Secretary, Punjab Education Board for brief terms. He knocked his way into the field of experimentalism as a departure from the dominant school of Punjabi poetry, the Progressives, the leaders of which, Mohan Singh and Amrita Pritam, received his particular attention.

Denigrating the progressive poetry of his school as a mixture of romanticism and socialist propaganda, he declared it to have became outworn with the achievement of independence and the subsequent launching of the Indian Government's five-year plans, to build an industrial society. The imagery and the use of figures of speech like metonym of the Mohan Singh-Amrita Pritam school depended, as he correctly noticed, too much on the humanisation of nature, in the way of the English romantics of the early 19th century, to which socialist slogans were added.

New Imagery and a New Rhetoric

Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia pointed out that poetry in the new industrial economy building up in the Indian Union needed a new imagery and a new rhetoric, and the new human being was no longer a romantic dreamer of independence, freedom and social equality, but a split personality torn between the old feudal mode of living and thinking and the new conditions taking shape in the process of industrialisation. This society needed a poetry that should not make man look back towards a pastoral age but bring him to grip with the rapidly spreading industrial milieu. He called the kind of verse that he was himself experimenting with the suit the new age Prayogvadi (experimentalist), taking its imagery from life in the factory, the commercial establishments and from the mental situation created by its compulsions.

He made a powerful impact on his immediate and younger contemporaries who seemed to be in a rush to unite under the new banner. He sought to strengthen the new imagery by connecting it with old and pristine legend, thus eliminating the pastoral, feudal age altogether. His first collection of poems was entitled Kagaz da Ravana (The Paper Demon), which was followed by Koor Raja Koor Par/a (False King False Subjects) and Sach ki Bela (The Moment of Truth). The last two title are taken from Guru Nanak's hymns which are in their own by repudiations of the ethos and thinking of the feudal age. Of these poems, the main characteristics are intellectual irony and a cynical attitude towards progressive and popular political and social ideas and movements.

He chooses to call his mode and manner of writing radical realism, to distinguished it from the more prevalent progressivism often confused by its critics with socialist realism. AHLUWALIA'S WORKS ENGLISH: Marxism and Contemporary Reality, Punjabi Literature in Perspective. Tradition and Experiment in Modern Punjabi Poetry. Trends in Modern Literature. The Sovereignity of Sikh Doctrine. PUNJABI: Anubhav-te-Alochana (Experience and Criticism, 1961). Miri-Piri da Sidhant (The Doctrine of Temporal and Religious Power.) Prayogsil Punjabi Kavita (Experimental Punjabi Poetry). Sikh Falsfe di Bhumika (A Preface to Sikh Philosophy).

1999 Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University

After a storm of protests over the alleged victimisation and misdeeds of former Vice-Chancellor J. S. Puar, who was accused of making the university an arena for wrestling bouts where Laws and rules were amended to fulfill his whims, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal appointed Dr. Ahluwalia as Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, in May 1999.

During his tenure Ahluwalia made jhummar a featured item in Pujabi University's annual folk music festival. He invited Pokhar Singh (1916-2002), the noted jhummar dancer and teacher, to hold workshops in the University's Theatre and Television Department.

2002 Center for South Asia Studies, University of Calf, Berkeley, Press Release

First Annual Ahluwalia Memorial Lecture on Sikhism, April 2000

The first guest for this lecture series was Dr. Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Vice Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala, in April 2000. He presented two lectures, titled Sikhism and the Twenty-First Century: Society and Civilization, and Inter-Religious Dialogue and Inter-Community Understanding in the Context of Ethnic and Ethno-Religious Problems: A Sikh Perspective.

Dr. Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, is also the President of the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation. He has been the Chief Editor of the Guru Gobind Singh Journal of Religious Studies.

He was honored by the United Nations as the promoter of Sikhism through his literary works like "Liberating Sikhism from The Sikhs" & literary works on The Akal Takht.

2002 News from Tribune News Service

Ahluwalia sacked as VC / Chandigarh, April 22

The Punjab Government has removed Dr J.S. Ahluwalia as Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala. In his place Mr N.S. Rattan, Principal Secretary, Higher Education, has been asked to officiate. Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia today said on the phone that he would take recourse to all legal remedies against his removal as Vice-Chancellor.

The official residence of the ousted Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, was sealed this evening. Policemen descended on the residence of Dr Ahluwalia. After locking the main gate leading to the house, a seal was affixed on the lock.

This was announced by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, at a press conference here today. He also said that a team of the Vigilance Bureau had been posted on the campus to probe various happenings during Dr Ahluwalia’s tenure.

In fact, the Chancellor, Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), had issued an order removing Dr Ahluwalia yesterday. His strongly worded order makes a telling comment on the functioning of Dr Ahluwalia against whom staff members and students had been demonstrating for a long time seeking his removal.

The proverbial last straw came when the police presented a charge sheet against Dr Ahluwalia in the court of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr Sanjiv Beri, at Patiala on April 19. Dr Ahluwalia is facing two cases, one relating to attempt to murder and the other attempt to rape and outrage the modesty of a student. In the second case, the charge sheet was filed under Section 173 Cr PC.

More Recently

In August 2004 Dr. Ahluwalia as president of the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation hailed an appeal to the Sodhi family of Kartarpur to restore the original Bir (Sri Adi Granth) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib to the Sikh community. Known as the Sri Kartarpuri Bir, scribed by the hand of Bhai Gurdas under the direct supervision of Guru Arjan which bears the signature of Guru Arjan, the dated notation corresponds to the year 1604. Dr. Ahluwalia said:

…" The gurdwara reform movement of the first and the second decade of the last century remains incomplete without getting back the holy Granth from the hereditary possession of a family".

It is said that the Sodhi family refused Guru Gobind Singh's request for its return in 1708 at Nanded.

Currently Dr. Ahluwalia is a member-secretary of the Trust for the planned Guru Granth Sahib World University in Fatehgarh Sahib scheduled to open in 2009.


1. Amarjit Singh, Punjabi sahit da itihas—Qissa kal, Amritsar, 1981.

2. Encyclopeadia of Indian Literature, 6 Vols., Delhi,1995.

3. Ramdev, Jaginder Singh (ed.), Punjabi Likhari Kosh, Jullundur, 1964.

4. Sekhon, S.S. and K.S. Duggal, A History of Punjabi Literature, Delhi, 1992.

5. Singh, N.K., Encyclopaedia of Indian Biography, Delhi 2000

6. Express News Service, Patiala, May 17, 1999

7. Tribune News Service, April 22, 2002