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Ashraf Gill
--: Biography of Ashraf Gill :--

 Ashraf Gill 


Mohammad Ashraf Gill
Literary(Qalmi) Name: Ashraf Gill
Year & Place of birth: 1940, in Dist: Gujranwala, (Punjab) Pakistan
Education: (1) Diploma in Fazil-e-Farsi  (2) B.A. Punjab University from Lahore, Pakistan
(3) Accounting Degree from Fresno, California

Born on April 30, 1940 in a small village of District of Gujranwala in Pakistan, he is the middle child with two older sisters and one younger brother. The Partition process in 1947, which played a large part in every Pakistani person’s history, occurred during his early childhood. This was when India was liberated from British Rule and Pakistan was created as an independent country. He remembers the chaos that ensued in forming a new country and watched the upheaval as people of his village ran wildly in the streets and looted homes. Shortly after the Partition his father died, this left his mother alone to raise the family of four on her own. 
He completed his high school education at Islamia High School in Mitranwali District Sialkot, Pakistan and left the village to move to Lahore. He started work in the banking industry and moved up in the position to manager of one of the International banks, called United Bank Limited in Lahore. While in Lahore he got married to a wonderful woman and was blessed with five children. He then immigrated to New York and his last two children were born there. He held the highest esteem and regard to his wife for the way she raised seven children giving them the gift of his mother tongue, 'Punjabi'. He says that his children are one of his biggest accomplishments in life they are listed in order: Ayaz Gill, Sheraz Gill, Dr. Ruqayya Gill (his only daughter), Faraz Gill, Anas Gill, Moazz Gill, and Idrees Gill. ( Note: the name 'Ashraf' in the Urdu/Punjabi language is four letter word and he named his 1st 4 children picking his name's first letter). Another important event in his life was in 1988 when he performed the sanctified ritual of Hajj and visited Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Then, in the same year he moved with his family to Fresno, California where he currently resides, and where he has completed the rest of his education as well as he is doing his literary and musical activities. 
According to him, music was always something he enjoyed and he felt that it was “in his blood.” His maternal uncle was a good Punjabi language poet, and he also has many memories of his mother reciting songs and lyrics in the Punjabi language. Since his childhood, he especially liked the songs of (late) Mohammad Rafi, Mannaday and Lata Mangeshkar. Growing up in a village there was only one radio in town so he would go to the home of a rich neighbor to listen to these musicians. While in Lahore, he watched his first Indian movie and this sparked the artist within. Poets such as Sahir Ludhianvi, Shakeel Badayuni, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Kaifi Azmi, Raja Mehdi Ali Khan, Shailendara, Anjan, and many others were his inspiration as he began to write his own poetry and songs. It was not until 1968 that he completed his first ghazal (a rhythmic form of poetry) and showed his work to a friend who had a strong knowledge and appreciation of this art form. This person helped sharpen his skills and encouraged him to carry on writing. His job, however, limited his time from attending the musha'iras (literary gatherings) and his creative activities remained unseen and unnoticed by the literary dignitaries. Whenever he found time to attend, he listened to some of the famous shairs (poets) and eventually participated himself. He was commended at these meetings, but he himself criticized his work too when he compared it to these expert shuaras, (poets) and he felt that he needed to endeavor harder. After many years of writing he still continues to work to be more precise in his literary work. 
When he moved to New York he found many Urdu associations. He longed to attend however working at a bank in the Wall Street area and being a father of seven children made this wish impossible. Once he moved to Fresno, California he happened to meet many people from the eastern part of Punjab (India) of his interest and with them he shared poetry, music, and made many close friendships in common artistry. With these new literary friends, he helped in establishing an adabi majlis (a literary association) and started meeting periodically. 
He continued to study the literature and wrote his own 'ghazals' both in the Punjabi and Urdu languages. He thoroughly studied ilm-e-arooz ( pingal -a knowledge of rhyme poetry in different meters) and tried to understand its application and magnitude and continues to employ it in his poetry (ghazals). He also independently learned how to read and write gurmukhi (a script which is used by Eastern Punjabi writers) and eventually mastered the art of this language such that he published two books in this script. He personally visited Barnala, and Chandigarh (Punjab) in India to establish his publication. One book consists of his selected Punjabi ghazals and the other has selected ghazals in Urdu to help introduce and invigorate Urdu literature in the Punjabi Indian community. In 2000 over the course of 6 months he visited Pakistan and the Indian Punjab's cities of Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Chandigarh and some rural areas. In East Punjab he had the pleasure to meet with prominent writers including well-known poets, story writers, and critics. They and many famous literary associations bestowed him with many awards in appreciation of his literary work. He again returned to visit Pakistan and India in 2003 to early 2004 and visited Amritsar, Barnala, Patiala, Chandigarh, New Delhi, Lucknow, Bhopal, and Jallandhar. He presented his writings and poetry in Punjabi and Urdu, and earned acclaim from the renowned poets of those regions. 
These experiences have been the foundation for his latest work about his unforgettable safarnama (journey) under ‘Maira Duuja Bharti Phera’ in gurmukhi script. Most recently, he again traveled to Pakistan and India from late 2007 to early 2008 and this time he expanded his visit to include the Taj Mahal in Agra and Bombay. He also released his first CD called “Aap Ki Kashish” from one of the most famous releasing companies called the “T series.” This CD showcases his own voice and features his own lyrics of Urdu ghazals and geets performed by notable vocalists such as Ghulam Ali, Hamid Ali Khan, Riaz Ali Khan, and a female radio and T.V singer Rifat Moghul. The music in this CD is composed by a famous music director of the Radio Pakistan Lahore station. He recorded another CD not only of his own vocals and lyrics but of his own compositions too which features his talent alone. It consists of (3) Punjabi geets and (6) Urdu ghazals which will be released soon and will appear on air in the near future. The demo of this CD can be heard on his website: His literary work can be seen and music can be heard on Facebook too. He has establised his Youtube account where you can see him singing. that account no. is ashrafgill1.
He is not yet done as his plans for the future are to continue in his pursuit in writing new ghazals and songs, creating new dhuns (tunes) of his own in music, and to continue to make quality work that readers and listeners can truly enjoy. He is in the process of completing his first music video and plans to make others. He also plans to visit Lahore, Pakistan to make additional CD's featuring himself and other famous singers. Recently he practices music everyday, which consists on various 'ragas' he has learned from famous musicians. 
It is import to discern that music can be learned and improved through practice and hard work but poetry is a gift which is revealed only to select people. It is amazing that he not only writes poetry but can also makes his own compositions, and sings professionally. He is especially thankful to Almighty God for all that he is blessed with and for the gifts He has bestowed him with. He also does have best regards of her (late) mother who raised him with the best strength and wisdom. He has dedicated many of his couplets to his mother. He also believes that his mind is empty and it is God who fills it with ideas and knowledge. He appreciates his family for their loving support, his peers and mentors in literature and music who helped shape his personality, and readers for their encouragement and appreciation. He continues to constantly struggle to build his career and every step he walks is for the improvement of his craft.

By: Dr. Firdose Faraz Gill.

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