Dhani Ram Chatrik (October 4, 1876 – December 18, 1954) is considered the founder of modern Punjabi poetry.
He worked all his life to lift the status of the Punjabi language. He was the founding president of Punjabi Sabha, a Punjabi Literary Society.
He was the first person to standardize the typeset for Gurmukhi script, publish Guru Granth Sahib and Bhai Kahn Singh’s Mahan Kosh, the first Punjabi dictionary by using modern technique at his Sudarshan Printing Press.
He was a highly creative writer. He used his composing skills to experiment with different genres of Punjabi. He used simple and fresh vocabulary. His use of metaphor, tone, and style were easy to understand by the masses. It was more a descriptive or Qissa style. This style is evident from the following lines depicting peasantry written in narrative style:
Toorhi tand saamb haarhi vech watt ke
Lambrhaan ‘te shaahaan da hisaab katt ke
Kachhe maar vanjhli anand chhaa gya
Maarda damaame jatt mele aa gya
His creations Himala, Ganga, Rat are well known. Another one of his poems, Kora Qadir, where we hear his passionate cry against the divisions of humanity through diversity of creed is as follows:
Let us bury caste and creed,
Let us erase this sorrow indeed,
You a Sayyid, I a Brahmin,
Let us finish this foolish din.
We have to bear each other, say
We are not here for eternal stay,
Let there be laughter in our meeting,
Let our hearts be one this evening
He has been called “Punjab’s greatest lyricist and poet”. In 1988, Surinder Singh Narula published a book in his honour called “Dhani Ram Chatrik, Publisher: Sahitya-Akademi”. Punjabi University Patyala honoured Chatrik by dedicating their annual diary to him.