THE FAMOUS RAMA TIRATH POET SWAMI OF LAHORE
TWO NATIONS ASSERTING THEMSELVES IN INTELLECTUAL LAHORE
The boy Tirath and M.A. Rahman Chughtai
The man Rama was born in 1873 in Muraliwalla near Gujranwalla and then came to Lahore for his education. Even at his birth, he was found to be of exceptional intelligence. With hardly any money, he made his inroad in Lahore and attended the Forman Christian College, Lahore. Excelling in languages and mathematics, it was not enough for him. Clearing his Bachelors and Masters, he started teaching in Lahore. Besides Mission College, he also got a job in Oriental College, Lahore. Extremely poor, he was supported by many, including the Principal of the College. He was married here and had children, and he lived inside the city at the Har Charan ki Pohrian (Stairs of Lord’s feet), inside Bhatti Gate, Lahore. One of his best friend was Khalilur Rahman, B.A, whose untimely death pained the Swami to a great extent.
One day the world famous Swami Vivekananda of Calcutta was in Lahore and addressed the huge number of the turbanned masses at the hall of Dhiyan Singh havelli in Lahore. People were carried away and became an inspiration for the people of Punjab. Rama Tirath was carried away too. That was start of his Swami career. He usually wore Khaddar cloth, but he became interested in discarding clothes. He could hear music that others could not hear. He burned in the love for Krishna. He started seeing visions, and then traversing the banks of the river Ravi and shouting the ecstasy of KRISHNA all the time. At times he felt himself to be god too. In Lahore he took out a magazine by the name of ALIF, the first letter of Urdu alphabet. Finally he left Lahore, and his students and well wishers sang his own poem at the Railway Station, Lahore. A scene remembered by many as memorial of highest order.
With no money, he could travel to the USA as well as Japan in 1902, and found friends everywhere. He returned in 1905, and went to the mountains, walking around naked, with a diet of red chillies and milk only. Very soon after that he died in 1906. He made a name for himself as a Swami which still exists today, in form of many books that he wrote in his times.
In similar times, Dr Allama Iqbal was preaching his messge to the Muslims of Lahore. Lahore was indeed the center of the two nations trying to assert their ideology here. In those days the Chughtai brothers heard Dr Allama Iqbal at Sheranwalla Gate School, as well as in Mochi Darwaza, Lahore. But things get more and more interesting.
M.A. Rahman Chughtai joined the Mayo School of Arts in 1913, for two year course diploma in Photolithography. With him joined another boy, a Hindu, who became one of his best friend. This boy was known as Tirath. His father had left him long ago and the mother had reared him up and they lived inside Bhatti Gate Lahore. The friendship became so close, that Chughtai used to visit the home of Tirath and Tirath’s sister used to cook chapattis for him to eat. They were very close to each other. And here is the most interesting aspect of it all. This boy was none else than the son of Swami Rama Tirath, a family left behind by the Swami in Lahore. Strange coincidences take place and this is one of them. One obsessed with Dr Allama Iqbal, the other having memories of his Swami father. Two nations asserting themselves in new way. More on that later.