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Bherumal Mahirchand

Bherumal Mahirchand (1875 - 1950)

Bherumal was the profoundest and most indefatigable scholar, Sindhi literature has produced. He was imbued with the spirit of research and all his many and varied works bear the stamp of deep scholarship. He started with masterly renderings of some famous English poems like "We are Seven", "Casabiance" and "The Solitude of Alexander Selkirk", as well as some original poems of lyrical simplicity published later in Nao Bahar (New Spring)— 1926. Bherumal wrote Sindhi Vyakaran (Sindhi Grammar) which is still used as an authoritative text-book in the subject; and also Gulqand (Confection of Flowers) 1928, a book of proverbs and idioms with detailed explanations of their origin and usage. He also wrote Hindustan-ji-Tarikh (History of India) in a simple yet literary style.

One of Bherumal's earliest works was a play Hirs-jo-Shikar (Prey to Covetousness) adapted from Shakespeare's "King John" written about the turn of the century. Among his other dramatic writings might be mentioned Pangati Muqadmo (Social Trial)—1927, a highly humorous social satire on Hindu marriage and dowry. In 1938 he adapted Tagore's "The Post Office" into Azadi-ji-Kodi (Fond of Freedom).

In the field of fiction. Bherumal was one of the earliest original novel-writers with his Anand-Sundarika and its sequence Mohini Bai (1917), both depicting in minute details the Hindu domestic life of Sind with all its problems like dowry, bigamy and female education etc., and might well be regarded as an authentic social chronicle of those times. He also translated the famous American novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin" into Golan-ja-Goondar (Sorrows of Slaves)—1928.

Bherumal's official duties made him a vastly travelled man all over Sind, and the result of his minute observations of Hindu shrines, Muslim dargahs, the forts and the fairs, the historical monuments he visited and the legends connected with them, are vividly recorded in his Sind-jo- Sailani (A Traveller of Sind)-1923. In 1928 Bherumal wrote another travel-book of historical-cumliterary research called Latifi Sair (Travels of Latif), recording the vast wanderings of Shah Abdul Lateef in the company of Hindu Yogis throughout the greater Sind of those days : from Jesalmir in the north to Karachi in the south, and from Kohistan and Halar mountains in the west to Junagarh and Girnar in the east. The special merit of this work was that Bherumal systematically pieced together this account of Shah's travels from internal evidence derived from his Rasalo, with ample illustrations from his poems inspired by the various places Shah visited.

Bherumal's masterpiece of scholarship which proves him a literary historian and a philologist of no mean order was Sindhi Boli-e-ji-Tarikh (History of Sindhi language)—1941, a vast work of painstaking research about the development of the language, with suitable illustrations from its literature, from the earliest times of Kauls, Santhals and Dravidians up to the British raj. His last great work completed and published before he left Sind after the partition and his death in Bombay at a ripe old age, was the two volumes of Sindhi Hindun-ji-Tarikh (History of Sindhi Hindus)—1946-1947, tracing the family histories and recording the biographies of the main members of hundreds of Sindhi Hindu families. This book on genealogy is the first of its kind in Sindhi literature, and has become all the more valuable after the exodus of Sindhi Hindus to India by presenting and preserving a vast panorama of social history never to be repeated.

It must be noted that Bherumal attained all this scholarship and erudition in a style absolutely simple, natural and spontaneous, with no attempt at pedantry or brilliance, and yet possessing the precision and incisiveness of idiom equalled only by his contemporary Parmanand Mewaram.