The Hindi Poet Neeraj was living legend. He was unique in his recitation of poetry. It was neither prose on poetry, but a fusion of both as never before. Most of the poet either sing or read their composition. But the style of Neeraj was entirely different. It was very appealing and heart touching.
The National Poet Ramdhari Singh Dinkar termed his way of recitation is “Veena (musical instrument)” of Hindi poetry. His poem “Karwan Gubar Gaya – Gular Dekhte Rahe” became his identity and in every Kavi Sammelan it was a certain demand from the audience. It appeared that wherever he was than no other poet was there. People remained focus on Neeraj.
He died at a ripe age of 93. He was born on 4th January 1925 and died on 19th July 2018 at AIIMS Delhi. His body was taken to his home town Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh and his last cremation was performed by donation of his body as he willed.
In last few years he suffered chronic diseases of Asthema. But he always attended Kavi Sammelan on the plea that if he would not attend it he would die. Poetry was his life. His death is end of an era in Hindi poetry and he is unsurpassable.
He came up from a very humble origin and poor family, worked as typist. He was very humane towards the pain of agony of others and it reflected in his poetry. The void created by his death can never be fulfilled in the Hindi literature.
He wrote songs for Hindi films also. Raj Kapoor’s ‘Mera Naam Jokar’ he wrote a song on the character of Joker and to this day its altogether different and in typical Neeraj style it was neither a prose or poem. He himself said that he was asked to write a song for circus jokar his main problem was that in a circus jokar never sing they create humour for laughter by their funny action.
But then too his song for jokar become the life and soul of that film and still in memory and will always remain so. He was closely linked with film music director SD Burman and Shankar-Jaikishan. The Government of India awarded him Padma Shree in 1991 and Padma Bhushan in 2007.
He was chancellor of Mangalaytham University and Chairman of Uttar Pradesh Film Development Corporation. He considered the caste system of India as biggest misfortune of it. He was very sensitive towards the suffering of others.
He was frequent visitor of Madhya Pradesh. He liked the water spread out of Bhopal Bada Talab (Bhoj Sagar). He like the hospitality and warmness of Bhopal people and their sophistication.
In his last days he suffered a fall in Agra and head injury. After treatment at Agra the doctor shifted him to the AIIMS Delhi in a critical condition. He had kidney failure and infection all over his body and head injury. He passed away at 7.30 pm on 19th July.