Ustad Daman (real name Chiragh Deen) (September 1911 – December 3, 1984) was a Punjabi poet and mystic. He was the most celebrated Punjabi poet at the time of the Partition of British India in 1947. 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:
Pakistan diyaan mujaan hee maujaan chaarey passay faujaan hee faujan.—(Pakistan is great joy and more joys wherever you look there are sepoys and more sepoys.)
He goes on:
Jidhar veykho sirgat paan
zindabad meyra Pakistan
Jidhar veykho kulchey naan
zindabad meyra Pakistan!
(Wherever you look its shops selling cigarettes and paan
Long live Pakistan!
Wherever you look its shops selling bread and naan
Long live my Pakistan!)
He was introduced into politics by Mian Iftikharuddin, originally as part of the struggle for independence. A tailor by profession, in 1930 he stitched a suit for Iftikharuddin, who was impressed by his verse. He invited him to recite his poem at a public meeting organised by the Indian National Congress, where he became an instant hit; Pandit Nehru, who was present, dubbed him the ‘Poet of Freedom’. He first wrote under the pen name Humdam, which was later changed to Daman. The title ‘Ustad’ was bestowed on him by the people. After that he became a regular participant in these meetings. He believed that the unity of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs was essential, if the struggle for freedom 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 Teheran 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.’