Wednesday, January 26, 2011



Shiv Kumar was born in Bara Pind Lohtian (Shakargarh tehsil), in Punjab (now Pakistan). Shiv’s date of birth as recorded on his horoscope is July 23, 1936, while a latter birth date, October 23, 1937 is recorded on his matriculation certificate that was the only official birth record at that time. His father was a Patwari by the name of Pandit Krishan Gopal. After the partition his family moved to Batala. As a child Shiv is said to have been fascinated by birds and rugged, thorny plants on the Punjabi landscape. Shiv was exposed to the ramlila at an early age, and it is to be expected that he received what was later to become his instinctive understanding of drama from these early performances.

Shiv passed his matriculate exams in 1953, from Punjab University. He went on to enroll in the F.Sc. programme at Baring Union Christian College in Batala. Before completing his degree he moved to S.N. College, Qadian into their Arts program. It is here that he began to sing ghazals and songs for his class-mates. Shiv never gave the final exams he needed to pass to receive his degree.

Around this period, he met a girl named Maina at a fair in Baijnath. When he went back to look for her in her hometown, he heard the news of her death and wrote his elegy 'Maina'. This episode was to prefigure numerous other partings that would serve as material to distill into poems. Perhaps the most celebrated such episode is his fascination for Gurbaksh Singh's daughter who left for the US and married someone else. When he heard of the birth of her first child, Shiv wrote 'Main ek shikra yaar banaya', perhaps his most famous love poem.

In 1965 Shiv won the Sahitya Akademi award for his verse-drama Loona.

He married on Feb 5, 1967. His wife Aruna was a Brahmin from Kir Mangyal in district Gurdaspur. By all accounts Shiv had a happy marriage. He had two children, Meharbaan (b. Apr. 12, 1968) and Puja (b. Sep. 23, 1969) whom he loved immensely.

By 1968 he had moved to Chandigarh, but both Batala and Chandigarh became soulless in his eyes. Chandigarh brought him fame, but scathing criticism as well, Shiv replied with an article titled 'My hostile critics'. Meanwhile his epilepsy got worse and he had a serious attack while at a store in Chandigarh's Sector 22.

Shiv Kumar Batalvi, the poet, literally dominated poetic gatherings in his short life.

In the early 70's Shiv came to Bombay for a literary conference. In keeping with Shiv's outrageous behaviour there is a story about his trip to Bombay as well. Part of the conference involved readings at Shanmukananda hall. After a few people had read their work (one of whom was Meena Kumari), Shiv got on the stage and began "Almost everyone today has begun to consider themselves a poet, each and every person off the streets is writing ghazals". By the time he'd finished with his diatribe, there was not a sound in the hall. This is when he began to read 'Ek kuri jeeda naam mohabbat. gum hai, gum hai...'. There wasn't a sound when he finished either.

Another thing great about Shiv, was that he wrote one poem :-


By saying, "Prabh Ji Saanu Ik Giit Udhaaraa Hor Deyo", Shiv gave all credit for his writings to The Almighty God, as if all his poetry was from that Divine Power. This speaks of his spritual leanings. This was the greatness of a poet who wrote best of the Punjabi Giits but according to him it was only God who had bestowed on him the power to write and he had nothing, of his own, to write or say.

Shiv has been called a Bohemian. There were complaints about his drinking and some suggestions that his 'friends' had him drink so he would exhibit his outrageous self.

Shiv Kumar died in the 36th year of his life on May 7, 1973 in his father-in-law's house at Kir Mangyal near Pathankot.

Here is a live interview of Shiv with Mahendra Kaul in London :-


Vinod said...

shiv's poetry is divine,leave aside reading & listening this great shayyar,his name shiv kr.batalvi when comes to my mind makes me is just soul stirring,his great writings churns my mind body & soul.God is so selfish that he snatched him away from us !!!!

subodh said...

It is sad he died... 35 is unfortunately a very young age to die... but as you'd know he turned a chronic alcoholic in his last days... and if hearsay is to be believed, his friends would make him drink... at times to enjoy his outbursts and impromptu poetry... and at times,(again a hearsay) that they would steal his poems and sell away to publications... but whatever may the reasons be... the world of literature lost out one one of the most original and inspiring poet of our times...

Balraj Kapoor said...

While listening his geet.. we feel like crying. .

Jeeti said...

I cry every time I listen to his songs. Specially the ones in Jagjit Singh's voice brings every phrase alive. It is hard to imagine someone leading such a painful life where you are so helpless longing to see or meet someone you once loved and that Love never died through out his life. Those sad words/phrases pierce through your soul! This is a different world now, so Shiv will never have any parallel in the future as never there was any in the past. His poetry is his gift to Mankind and we can't help but feel what he went through, such powerful is his Expression!

V.K.Vashisht said...

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V.K.Vashisht said...

Very sad to Learn Such a Gem died too young. I wish I wud have met him as I was in PU Chandigarh and Sec 22 was our Roaming territory.
I am searching for
Na cherin Dil di Taraan Nu,
Main geet sunana nahin chahunda,
Dil mere te jo beet gai,
Main murh dohrana nahin chahunda.
Main ek tasveer banai cee,
Rang ustey kala dullh gia,
main usey nu labhna chahunda haan,
koi hoor banauna nahin chahunda

Shahbaz said...

No work in Punjabi poetry since SK Batalvi. Punjabi on the fall unfortunately !

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Unknown said...

Shiv Batalavi's story touches the innermost cores of human emotions and brings out an incessant mist from the eyes. What if I tell you that the pardesi girl is still alive and leading a lonely and melancholy life in a far away land. Life has not been fair to her either! I am in touch with some of her close relatives, and do sincerely hope that they will present her part of the story to the Punjabi world, and believe me this story, however unfortunate it is, will create an ocean of pure and blissful feelings in Shiv's fans and will make them immortal in the folklore, akin to Heer-Ranjha, Sassi-Punnu, Sohni-Mahiwal.

Harleen Grover said...

Beautiful Words of Shiv Kumar Batalvi

Sumitk Batalavi said...

I have no words....👌👌👌

Manav said...

Truly heart touching..

Amrit Singh said...

Very Heart-touching. His poetry has made Shiv K. Batalvi immortal.

Unknown said...

His poetry is beyond description heart touching flow of words is simply beautiful.