Poetry is evocative. It elicits a reaction in anyone who reads or listens to it. Add in the lyrical beauty of Kashmir to poetry, and we, as readers, know that we’re in for a dazzling treat.
* Nund Reshi
* Lal Ded
* Habba Khatton
* Rasul Mir
* Dina Nath Nadim,
* Rahman Rahi,
* Amin Kamil
* Gulam Rasool Santosh
There is much confusion among scholars about the precise dates of birth and death of both Lal Ded and Nund Reshi They are, however, agreed on the contemporary nature of Lal Ded, Nund Reshi and Budshah i. e. 14th and 15th centuries, Nund Reshi’s poem quoted by G.N Gowhar in his book ‘Sheikh Noor-ud-Din’ records only the life span of 65 years, without mentioning any dates. However, S/Shri Amin Kamil, Saqi, Majboor, Ganhar, Pushap, Rehbar and Bamzai and T.N. Kaul Joumalist could be trusted with the work of removing the confusion. Some writers record only the two dates while others age only.
All attempts by the parents of Nunda and the neighbors to feed the infant were resisted by the newborn. The struggle continued for three days. The parents felt dejected and dismayed.
Then, all of a sudden, Lalleshwari (Lal Ded) happened to enter the room she took the infant in her lap, kissed him, put him on to her own teets and whispered the following into his ear :
If thou were not ashamed of Being born,
Why are thee Ashamed of feeding at
Thy mother’s breasts?
The baby is stated to have responded immediately and behaved like a normal baby
Nund Reshi spent a full twelve years in meditation inside a cave at Khimoh where (according to M.L.Saqi’s Edited ”Kuliyat-i-Sheikh-Ul-Alam,” 1985 and, A. D. Majoor’s thesis, Nund Reshi) he is said to have written a 2,500 verse life story of Gautam Buddha. But, only three verses of this are said to be existent. The story is said to have been translated into Persian by a bilingual Sanskrit scholar.
Nund Reshi was the founder and most popular saint of the Reshi cult of Kashmir. Whereas Hindu scholars call him Sahazanand because of his Hindu ancestry, but of -late Muslim theologists describe him as Noor-ud -Din Noorani or Sheikh-ul -Alam (the light of religion and the Sheikh of the world). But as the darling of all Kashmiris, irrespective of caste and creed, and as per his own repeated reference, as Nunda, he was endearingly called Nund Reshi. His pious memory still continues to be cherished by this nomenclature.
His ancestry according to records, is traced to the Thakur Rajputs of Ujain where from they are said to have migrated to the Kishtwar township of Jammu and settled there. Later, after their banishment from Kishtwar, his parents, Salar Sonz and Sadara (later called Sadar Moaj) crossed into the Kashmir Valley and finally settled in a village of Kulgam Tehsil called Khehygam Jagipora. Nund Reshi was born in this village but brought up in another village of the same tehsil, called Mynoh Katymukh.
Sahaz Quasum of June 1991 records his original name as Nanda, according to what it says was the saints own statement One of his shruks, quoted elsewhere in this book, confirms this fact. His father Salar Sonz, took up the job of a night watchman. On his usual rounds of the village, one night he is said to have overheard a conversation between a childless Hindu saintly couple:
“Swami Ji, we are getting old and we have no child, I wonder what’ll happen to us when we become weaker and weaker with the growing age.
God is with us, dear, why do you worry prematurely?
What’ll become of us when we are too weak to earn our livelihood. What if, we fall ill.?
Never mind, God is merciful, almighty and all providing, if one of us dies, who’ll look after the other, think about our precarious condition, Swami Ji ? Pray, do something.”
“My darling, I have had a strange dream last night, it revealed that early before dawn tomorrow, two exquisite bouquets of flowers will bloom out of the nearby spring, one after the other, it is a good augury”
What then, Swami Ji? How can it be a good augury for us? interrupted his wife
“Any woman who sees, smells and picks the first bunch of flowers before the other bunch grows up, will give birth to a son who will turn out to be a great saint. Any woman who spots smells, and carries away the other bunch will get another son who will also become a saint.”
Hearing this conversation, Salar Sonz cut short his nightly rounds and rushed back home. He apprised his wife Sadra Moaj of the Sadhu’s dream, forecasting the birth of two saints. Salar Sonz accompanied Sadra Moaj immediately to the Spring. They remained awake there till the appearance of the first bunch of flowers.
No sooner did the beautiful flowers shoot up above the surface of the spring water than Sadra Moaj waded in sniffed it and carried it home.
Later when the Sadhu’s wife went there, she got only the second bunch, both gave birth to a son each in due course. The former grew to become the people’s darling saint, known by different names, Sahazanand Noor-Ud–Din Noorani, Sheikh-ul-Alam, and popularly as Nund Reshi.
The latter became Buma Reshi of Bumzoo village, a kilometer away from Mattan township in Anantnag tehsil
Acknowledging the truth of their argument, Nund Reshi is believed to have sat on a big rock in meditation for twelve years, thus accepting the verdict of the people as an unparalleled democrat and a botanist by instinct. The honor of being an instinctive democrat and botanist of Kashmir goes to him indeed.
Lalleshwari (Born 1320 Death 1390 A.D) Born at Pandraethan Village (ancient Puranadhisthana)
The Hindus called her Lalleshwari and the Muslims Lalla Arifa. But both endearingly called her Lal DED (Grandmother or Grandma). This is certain and continues as such to date.
Lal in Kashmiri means an unnatural growth internal or external, bodily projection. Lalla’s belly had grown like a hanging lump of fleshy cloak down to her knees.
In the absence of authentic historical records, there seems to be much confusion about the exact dates of her birth and death. According to Noor Namas and Reshi Namas she was born sometime between 1300- 1320 A.D. and died round about 1377 A.D.
According to these conflicting, approximative presumptions, the date of Lalla’s demise, 1377 A.D. coincides with the year of birth of Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani Thus the contention doesn’t seem to stand on firm ground and is self-contradictory. As is well known, both Lall Ded and Nunda Reshi were, quite discernibly contemporaries for quite sometime. After extensive study and intensive research work, in ‘LAL DED 1973 Prof. J.L. Koul opines that the dates of birth and death of Lalleshwari were some time between (B 1317-20A D ) & (d 1387-90 A D ) These dates seem to be in consonance with Circumstantial evidence and hence more authentic and nearest the truth. Extensive and intensive research work by youthful scholars in collaboration with experts is the need of the hour to arrive at logically and correct dates of birth and death of both Lal Ded and Nund Reshi.
Lal Ded could not be and was no exception to a common lot of womanhood, the world over in general and Indian womenfolk in particular. Her mother-in-law, perhaps as a means of cathartic projection of her own experience, often incited her son against his wife. Being unintelligent and too dull to observe and appreciate the nobility of Lalleshwari and the divine sparks in her, he would thoughtlessly slight and perplex her. Lal Ded remained ill-treated and ill-fed despite the family control of her affectionate father-in-law.
Lalia’s hypocritical mother-in-law was cunning and tricky. She would usually place a large round shingle underneath the cooked rice in her plate at lunch and dinner-time to display her deceptive affection for Lal Ded and, at the same time, to show to others how hefty the latter was. Lalleshwari would always finish eating quickly the scanty rice, wash her plate and the pebble, and deposit them at their specified places before attending to other chores.
She would not utter a word of protest, much less complain against such a strange way of ill-treatment, but take every care to shield her husband as well as mother-in-law and their honor.
However, once on a festive occasion while filling a pitcher at the river ghat, she was asked by her girl friends what the festivity and merriment at her home was all about. She said
“Whether they slaughter a ram or a lamb, Lalla will never miss her shingle”.
Like a mad person, she would go around naked. She became a disciple of Sidh Srikanth. She would only keep the company of sadhus and pirs. She did not think in terms of men and women. She would claim that she had yet to encounter a man, and that is why she went about naked. But when she saw Shah Hamdan, she hid herself saying: “I saw a man, I saw a man.” Why is Lalla so famous in Kashmir? She was illiterate, but she was wise. Her sayings are full of wisdom. In these sayings, she dealt with everything from life, yoga, and God to dharma and atma. Her riddles are on the lips of every Kashmiri. The exact date of Lalla’s death is not known. It is claimed that she died in Bijbehara (vejibror). People like Granny Lalla do not really die. Lal Ded is alive in her sayings and in the hearts of Kashmiris.
The sayings of Lalla number around two hundred.
By a way I came, but I went not by the way.
While I was yet on the midst of the embankment with its crazy bridges, the day failed for me.
I looked within my poke, and not a cowry came to hand (or, at, was there).
What shall I give for the ferry-fee?
(Translated by G. Grierson)
Passionate, with longing in mine eyes, Searching wide, and seeking nights and days,
Lo’ I beheld the Truthful One, the Wise,
Here in mine own House to fill my gaze.
(Translated by R.C. Temple)
Holy books will disappear, and then only the mystic formula will remain.
When the mystic formula departed, naught but mind was left.
When the mind disappeared naught was left anywhere, And a voice became merged within the Void.
(Translated by G. Grierson)
You are the heaven and You are the earth,
You are the day and You are the night,
You are all-pervading air,
You are the sacred offering of rice and flowers and of water;
You are Yourself all in all,
What can I offer You?
With a thin rope of untwisted thread, Tow I ever my boat o’er the sea.
Will God hear the prayers that I have said?
Will he safely over carry me?
Water in a cup of unbaked clay, Whirling and wasting, my dizzy soul
Slowly is filling to melt away.
Oh, how fain would I reach my goal?
(Translated by R.C. Temple)
The arrows of my wooden bow turned out
To be the pith of water rush grass;
The Rajdhani of the kingdom
Fell into the rustic hands of
A crude carpenter;
In the midst of a busy bazaar,
Lockless remained my shop,
And a pilgrimmageless self.
Who appreciates, my friend.
I overpowered and subdued
My vile heart.
Twisted my liver.
And renounced all I had.;
Thus, giving up all my
I became Lalla for all
Mahjoor has a place of honor among the poets of Kashmir. He is especially noted for two things. First, he introduced a new style into Kashmiri poetry. Second, he introduced a new thought into Kashmiri poetry.
Mahjoor wrote poems of freedom and progress in Kashmiri. These songs awakened the sleeping Kashmiris. He came with a new voice and a new (literary) form.
Mahjoor was a poet of 1ove and communal harmony. In his earlier days, he used to write only love poetry, but (later) he also wrote forceful poems about freedom.
Mahjoor’s real name was Ghulam Ahmad. But as a poet, he adopted the pen name ‘Mahjoor’. He was born in eighteen hundred and eighty-five in Metragam. He has written poetry in Persian and Urdu as well.
Mahjoor worked as a patwari: (pathvar’) in Kashmir. Along with his official duties, he used to write poetry in Kashmiri. Mahjoor had his first Kashmiri poem published in 1918. After this, he composed poetry only in Kashmiri. His songs became very popular. He wrote on such topics as love, communal harmony, and social reform, and also wrote on the plight of the Kashmiris. He wrote about youth, the flowers of Nishat Garden, a peasant girl, a gardener, the golden oriole, and a Free Kashmir. At that time, such songs were unknown in Kashmiri poetry. It was Mahjoor who gave these to us.
Mahjoor was sixty-seven years old when he passed away in 1952. The death of Mahjoor was a great loss to both the Kashmiri language and (Kashmiri) poetry. But, Mahjoor’s songs are still on the lips of every Kashmiri. Through these songs, his name will live forever.
O rose, you blossomed in my life,
When my world was young and gay,
And caught me as a songbird in a net,
With tumult in my heart!
I sailed out like the Kartik moon,
All aglow with love.
Now my ssvan’s neck is bent, O rose,
My youth has melted away!
A yemberzal, full of love,
Came with brimming cups of wine –
Her wistful downcast eyes
Stealing a hungry look at you.
Yearning made me delve deep
Into all the books on love,
And fill all chambers of my heart
With these precious tomes.
You failed our tryst at Yaarivan.
And dazed and rooted
Like a forest pine,
Your Heemal pined for love.
It can’t be without cause
That you’re dressed in crimson robes !
Wherefrom have you come, O rose,
Dyed thus in human blood ?
Thousands flock at your gate,
Wearing fragrant blooms of spring –
Amorous youth and pretty dolls,
Each consumed with longing.
The florist’s eye knows each flower’s worth
It isn’t deceived by colour !
He can spot out where iris lies
Mixed with saffron flowers.
Fragrance in the breeze whets
The bulbul’s thirst for beauty. But, O rose, Mahjoor looks
For something more in you ! I’ll rock you in my arms !
O my pearl, do not forsake me.
Your beauty’s rising fame
Filled me with a mad longing
To beg at your door.
Just one glance from you
Sent me into love’s consuming flames,
Like one tumbling down the skies.
O ravishing moon, don’t hide yourself !
I pray some oid job tempts you out,
So that we see your radiant form.
How much like Sheereen or Badwaljamal,
Or a hourie emerging from Paradise,
With pearls gleaming on a swans’s neck !
At dawn you came to the purling stream,
With beauty’s noose slung on your arm,
And trapped the thief of love !
I’ll lie in wait for you in the deepest woods,
Kneel at your feet under the jessamine bush –
My Forest of Najd and Mount Sinai !
Mahjoor is languishing for your love,
And shall offer whatever you ask.
Pray you too show equal faith !
Habba Khatun was born in the village of Chandrahar in the sixteenth century. In her earlier days, she was called Zoon (the Moon). She grew up in the midst of the saffron fields and in the shade of the chinar trees. She was not raised as a typical peasant girl. She had learned how to read and write from the village moulvi. At an early age her father married her to a peasant boy. But this illiterate peasant boy could not keep Zoon happy. He could not understand the longings of her heart. Just like Lal Ded, Zoon also was sad. Lalla became desperate and left her home. Zoon divorced her husband and started singing songs in Kashmiri. Zoon used to sing in the shade of a chinar tree. One day Yusuf Shah Chak was out hunting that way on horseback. He happened to pass the place where Zoon was singing under the chinar tree. He heard her melancholic melodies and went to look at her. He was stunned by her beauty. As soon as their eyes met, they fell in love. Later, Zoon and Yusuf Shah were married. She changed her name and became Habba Khatun. Habba Khatun introduced lol to Kashmiri poetry, lol is more or less equivalent to the English ‘lyric’. It conveys one brief thought. It is full of melody and love. Habba Khatun kept Yusuf Shah under her control. The couple was very contented, and Yusuf Shah became the ruler of Kashmir. Their happiness did not last long. Akbar came into prominence in Delhi, and he called Yusuf Shah there. In 1579, Yusuf Shah was compelled to go to Delhi. In Delhi, Akbar arrested him. He was kept in prison in Bihar. Poor Habba Khatun was separated from Yusuf Shah. The songs of Habba Khatun are full of the sorrow of separation. It is claimed that Habba Khatun introduced the 1ol into the Kashmiri (language) After she came Animal who also sang mournful lyrics.
Which rival of mine has lured you away from me?
Why are you cross with me?
Forget the anger and the sulkiness,
You are my only love,
Why are you cross with me?
My garden has blossomed into colorful flowers,
Why are you away from me?
My love, my only love, I think only of you,
Why are you cross with me?
I kept my doors open half the night,
Come and enter my door, my jewel,
Why have you forsaken the path to my house?
Why are you cross with me?
I swear, my love, I am waiting for you,
dressed in colorful robes,
My youth is in full bloom now,
Why are you cross with me?
Oh, marksman, my bosom is open
To the darts you throw at me.
These darts are piercing me,
Why are you cross with me?
I have been wasting away like snow in the summer heat.
my youth is in its bloom.
This is your garden, come and enjoy it.
Why are you cross with me?
I have sought you over hills and dales,
I have sought you from dawn till dusk,
I have cooked dainty dishes for you.
I do all this in vain!
Why are you cross with me?
I shed incessant tears for you,
I am pining for you,
What is my fault, O, my love?
Why don’t you seek me out?
Why are you cross with me?
The shock of your desertion has come as a blow to me,
O cruel one, I continue to nurse the pain.
Why are you cross with me?
I have not complained even to the spring breeze
That is my agony.
Why have you forgotten me?
Who will take care of me?
Why are you cross with me?
I swear by you
I do not go out at all,
I don’t even show up at the spring.
My body is burning,
Why don’t you soothe it?
Why are you cross with me?
My hurt is marrow-deep; I did not complain.
I just wasted away for you.
I have suppressed endless longing,
Why are you cross with me?
I, Habba Khatun, am grieving now.
Why didn’t I ever greet you, my love?
The day is fading and I keep recalling,
Why are you cross with me?
O bulbul, let the freedom urge possess your soul!
Bid goodbye to your cage, step out,
Gather your flowers and enjoy their bloom!
Speak out bold and clear. Your voice
Need not falter with fear
As when you sang within your cage.
In bondage, they served you ample food.
Now gather in the fields what grain you can,
And see how sweet is food in freedom!
Though unfreedom made you stammer,
Your call enchanted the birds of the air,
For it was born of love.
You can’t remain with folded wings!
Plume them, fly and see the world.
See flowers now with eyes of freedom.
You don’t know the latest about the garden!
Forget about the past; sing new songs now
Mabjoor, throw away this belt of bondage!
From now, you are free as a bird.
Your heart commands, your voice obeys!
Let us all offer thanksgiving,
For Freedom has come to us;
It’s after ages that she has beamed
Her radiance on us.
In western climes Freedom comes
With a shower of light and grace,
But dry, sterile thunder is all
She has for our own soil.
Poverty and starvation,
Repression and lawlessness, –
It’s with these happy blessings
That she has come to us.
Freedom, being of heavenly birth,
Can’t move from door to door;
You’ll find her camping in the homes
Of a chosen few alone.
She says she will not tolerate
Any wealth in private hands;
That’s why they are wringing capital
Out of the hands of everyone.
There’s mourning in every house
But in sequestered bowers
Our rulers, like bridegrooms,
Are in Alliance win Freedom.
Nabir Sheikh knows what Freedom means,
For his wife was whisked away.
He went on complaining until
She bore Freedom in a new home!
They searched her armpits seven times
To see if she was hiding rice;
In a basket covered with a shawl
The peasant’s wife brought Freedom home.
There’s restlessness in every heart,
But no one dare speak out –
Afraid that with their free expression
Freedom may be annoyed.
The Poet of Bubbling Love Dr. R.L.Bhat
Tha-rah tha-rah chham ma-rah sha-yad
shar meh ji-gu-rook drav-nai
Khosh yi-von nunda-bon, ve-si-yae
Myon dil-bar aav nai
I am all ashake, I may die/my heart’s wish has seen no fulfillment/that lovely, pleasing, my heart throb/he hasn’t come, ah Dear!
Rasul Mir, that skilled decanter of love, has a raging controversy shrouding his age. The local traditions recorded in the 1940s of by Ab Ahad Azad, spoke of a death in his prime. Folk history has it that, Mahmood Gani predicted his youthful death (Amis Chhi jan-h-margi handi koder). His poetry, its fervent youthfulness, its vibrant tenor, its tone of hearty yearning, its pristine emotions, all point to a poet, untouched by the cares of decaying age. Rasul Mir was said to have been alive in 1855 AD when Mahmood Gani passed away and died a few years before-Maqbool Shah Kralawari (d.1874). Accordingly, his demise was reckoned between 1867-1870). Rasul Mir was thus said to have lived between the 1820s and 1870s. Mr. Teng in his Kuliyati Rasul Mir, refers to a document, in revenue records at Anantnag, which bears the signature of Rasul Mir, as Nambardar and is dated 5th of April 1889. On this basis, Rasool may have lived into the last decade of the 19th century. That is as close to factual certainty as researchers have gotten to.
For the rest, there is his poetic legacy, and, ah again oral traditions. Oral traditions say, Rasul Mir was a tall, handsome fair complexioned person, and sported mustaches that tapered far into the face. He was a graceful, fashionable fellow, with a youthful heart that throbbed with love, love, and lots of love.
Yi chho Rasul Mir Shahabad Doo-rey
Tami chho trov-mut lo-la du-kaan
Yi-vu aash-qow che-vu tor-re tor-rey
Mai chho moor-rey la-la-vun naar.
This is Rasul Mir, at Shahabad, Doru. He has opened a love kiosk. Come ye lovers, drink free cup. Love’s fire burns me deep
Love, is the waft and whoop, the craft and creed of Rasul Mir(He lived love, sang love, and lives for his loveful passion). Love, the first strings of the human heart that present the whole universe as an undulating poem. Love is the creed, beloved is the god and lyrics rush forth in bubbling streams to worship the deity. Singing, sighing, and singing again they cascade over the expanses of life, in undating it in its fervor.
Ze-h posha tu-l-i maeni aashq-a mas-jid
husn imam ta-th
Tsa-ae bae-ng-i shu-baan mokh-ta-e da-ae
Ch-e-i yous-faen-i chae-lee
My Loves’ mosque, is an edifice of just two petals, Love is the priest there, Ye pearly one art the caller there, Ye, who hath the Yousef’s grace. Mir’s beloved is grace personi fied Zeh posha tu-l (two petals, mere) the being of his, object of love, is characteristic of Rasul Mir’s’ dainty love.
Love, flowers, passion and fragrance, the eternal inciters of life and beauty, are a recurring motif in his poetry.
Posha mal chham posh-a tu-l dda-ae lo-lo
Rinda posh-a-mal gin-da-ney dra-yi lo-lo
My beloved (Posh-a-mal) is but two and a half petals; lo, the gay love goes out to frolic.
Ga-ts-ta ve-si-yeh an-tan asta lo-lo
He-ai mai kaer-i-mus poshan dasta lo-lo
Go ye my friend, fetch my lover here, A Jasmine, I have woven garlands for him
Veer-nag-h ba nae-rai aa-ga-yey
Achwal-ki posh shae-re la-ga-yey
Vach-a-manz-a-lis ma-nz rachh-a-th dachh. mooriyey
Va-lai kastur-re-yey, paer mai tra-v neer-i-yey
Veer-nag, I’ll go to usher thee,/Thy brow I’ll deck in flowers of Acha-bal/Yeh, vine I’ll twins thee to my breast/come ye kasturi, don’t roam the meadows free
The weaving green of vast meadows, the dancing hues of wild flowers, the crystal springs singing their purity out, the free birds singing ditties to the air: Kashmir is land that is made for love, passion, a life lived through the heart. It is a wonder that this land had to mouth through painful centuries of love-less self-denials, monastic seclusion, dark corners of incisive introspection which is called the path of realization, or Sufism.
The Kashmiri literature, (as much of it as is available) opens with Lalla. Lalleshwari was a saint, who saw the world as a beast’s burden. Lalla lived in the turbulence that was the beginning of Muslim Rule in Kashmir. Nund Reshi followed her, in her footsteps, in a slightly different direction, he was a preacher, who preached the new religion and won converts. He was a Muslim enthusiast living with Buddhist monastic principles, with the zeal of early Buddhist proselytizers, with similar end and results. That was the 14th century, the first Muslim century of Kashmir. Love was an abhorrence. Faith was all, the beginning, the continuance, the end of life. Except for the interregnum of Buddh-shah, the reigns were harsh ‘Jehads’, against the populace or rival lords. Life was persecution, living a hard duty, if not a curse. The language, the idiom, the thought, and the idea all were being transformed to correspond to alien ideals. It was turbulence where you held your body in two hands, and your heart kept pumping frantically under sweeping waves of adrenaline induced by terror. Poetry if any, was a recluse, hidden behind drab walls. Else, it was employed to trans-create Persian fables into heavy personified Kashmiri for the benefit of converts to firm them in their new faith. The heart was out, for hearts sing free. Kashmir lay in double bonds. The fanatic zealots were out to stifles any free cries. The despots were prowling to cage gay voices.
It took two centuries to breed Habba Khatoon. Habba was swiftly carried to the chak palace. Akbar’s taking over released her from there, to sing over the saffron fields of Pompor, yearning for her lover, who could not have been Yousef Shahi Chak. A century after Habba came Mahmood Gani. Gani was prolific, too prolific. He introduced Kashmiri to Persian verse-form Ghazal, in a heavily Persianised tongue. Be times he took whole verses from Persian masters and re-laid them with a Kashmiri interjection here, a connective there, a pronoun at other places. Still, he wrote some memorable prices. And he wrote a lot. From masnavi, to gazals, to dainty Kashmiri vatchun, on to pieces dipped in Sofi lore, Gani, lived to be ninety and filled a thick Kuliyat. The one published by Cultural Academy runs to 560 pages, of the closely written script!
Gani was a gifted poet, a master versifier, in love with Persian. His bequeath was distilled by Rasul Mir, who loved with heart, lived with heart, and sang from a loveful heart. To a notoriety
Rasul yud-vy gun-cha laban
pailth teh-h chhok badnaam
Kho-sh ro-z aashaq kar tse
Naa farmaan dapan chhi.
Rasul, even though you are infamous for your love of tulip lips, be happy, for seldom do the lovers complain of thy in-attention
Love was the task to which Rasul applied himself with abandon. Love, and beloved, a total world, with neither time nor space for the mundane.
Mae-nzi nam-nae van-d-sai bo
Ha-tt-i Koi rath tor-ri lo-lo
Sarva ka-math kam-deev myon
Ja-ma chhis ka-for-ri lo-lo
Zar vanaan ehho-ee Rasul Mir
doori shah-baad ddoore lo-lo
For her hennaed naib I’ll give, pot-fuls of blood from under my throat, that tall beloved of mine, is attired in robes of scent Rasul. Mir is crying his heart, away, far in Dooru, oh love
Tanha chon-e dar zulf girf-taar myonui dil
Dar halqa yo-hai sil-sil-h
don aal-man aa-mai
My heart is not the love one, caged in that love/This is way, the path through which, not one but two worlds’ve gone
Chhus koba hus-nuk roae,
abroo taq bar taq
Dar ra-hi aashq sajda ra-va
don bu-mun aa-mai
That face is the kaaba of beauty, her lashes layered over and over. In the path of love, it is meet to bow to those two brows
Gul ro-ae ra-tah-hath na-la
dev dilas tselem daag
Rasul-h tse rus khar mae bar
farsh-i suman aamai
Ye tulip faced, thee I’d hold, by neck to heal my pain/sans thee, Rasul the flower bed, is a thorny seat for me
Kama-kus ja-ma-h paerith che-ti-yey
Sheeri lae-gith gul-i a-naar
Veeri ta-san-zi nae-r-e mati-mati-yey
Vanta la-ti-ye, tas mae-ni jar.
White are the robes, my Kamdev wears. His brow is adorned in flowers red, His path, I’d take in drunken stupor, go, tell my love of my pangs
Nae-li sho-bee ta-sa var-dan,
bae-li Khorda sae-li-yey
Vae-li kan chie zaeli waen-kan
saeli vodd-ni tac-li-yey-lo
Bride’s robes, would suit thee well, Ye, my beloved of short years/Thy braids of hair, thy ear rings/peep from beneath the gossamer cover
Yae-ri laa-gov maeri man-zi
zaar boj-tai hen-zi-yey
Nae-ri san-zi-yey mae-lh vuchh-ney
Come let us be friends, ye lovely beauty, listen to my laments, oh Henzi, come to see the mela and, we shall roam through Telbal)
The object of Rasul’s love is said to have been a Hindu belle of his village. Tales of their having gone to the same mak-tab, and fallen in love have been woven. His poems of love, will yield a thousand tales of prolicy dalliance and passionate love, with little effort. Probably, such soul-full poetry is not possible without a passionate love. You have only to read Mahmood Gani, to know the bubbling heart in Rasul Mir’s lyrics. Henzi-yani, Hindu girl, is an unmistakable refrain in Rasul Mir’s Poems.
Raza hen-zi-ya-ni naaz kyah anzni gardan
Ya illa-hi chesma bad-a nishi rachh-tan
Ga-tsi kam kyah cha-ni baar-ga-hi lo-lo
Rinda poshamal gindi-ney dra-yi lo-lo
How graceful the swans neck of henziyani looks, spare her from evil eyes, my Lord, Thy bounty, that won’t lessen, O God, Lo, the love goes on a frolicly outing
Whether the love was reciprocated or not is lost, like the details of Rasul Mir’s life, in the depths of past lost to us. It is also not clear whether the mentions would point to a specific person or an idealization of female beauty in the form of a Hindu-maiden (God lenons, they are beauty itself) Raza Henz-yan, passes into Kongi, into Poshmal, Soundermal, Padmaeni, Kostouri, Kongi Padmani, take the primal place, for full lyric ‘Kongi
Bo veer-na-gai he-mai za-gai
La-gai mot gaer zaan
Pooli to cheena-gund kya drengi,
Kongi haa tai paan.
I’ll look for you at Veernag, in the garb of an unknown mendicent, at Pooli, cheeni-gund, Drengi. Give me a glimpse, Kongi
This is a virtual topographical map of the area, where Rasul Mir lived. The compiler of Q. Kulyati Rasul Mir has avered that Poshmaal too is a probable name of the Henziyaen. Rightly so. And so are Sondermaal, Kastour, Padmaan, Shama, which repeatedly occur in his verses.
Gul zun bae tse-nai jama tse-ttith
Padmaeni aa-shaq chh-us tse pa-th
Like a tulip, my robe I’ll rent, and come forth; O Padmani, I’m thy loved, infamed by my love
Madno Padmaani mo dim dalai
Mad-h chhas az to tai ada-h no var
Aadan ba-jey va-da na dda-lai-h
Hain-tse-i-h ko-tah tsa-l-h bo
My love, spurn not this Padmani, now for another occasion is not meet. My primal mate, my word I won’t break. How much shall I bear, ye pretender
Dil nith mae jaanus ma zaag
Shama Soundri paa-mun mai laag
Ram-nae-gr-i tsaar-thai veer nag
My heart you’ve taken, trap not my body, O beautiful Shama, expose me not to….. I look for you at Veernag through Ram Nagri
Of course, all these proper nouns can be interpreted in adjectival sense, which every name in reality is Shama Sundri, can be dusky, Soundri, beautiful Shama, or a dusky beauty. And that point needs be made about, about Rasul Mir. For Rasul Mir is a poet of love, a poet par excellance even without any enchanting tales appended to him. He lives his heart out in love-ful lyrics, weaving patterns of beauty in the nunees of emale form and adornments, wringing out a resonance from every listening heart.
Tse yi-vaan roshe chhok-na-t-h
ho-she dda-la-yo madno
Be-h rivaan sor-ma chesman
sor-m-h chha-lae-yo madno.
You stay away, my angry love, and here I sink from senses dear; My tears flow and wash all kajal from my eyes dear
Me-hn eu-than tso-r-ri dil, mas-toor-i
kor-tham hoo-ri k-soor
Bad-nus soor ma-lai, door
na-lae ra-ttith Shama Sunder
Jama zan sar-va-ka-dus
paan va-lae-yo mad-no.
My heart you stole, and left me a maiden. With a blot in Ashes I’ll smear myself and wander away,dear
Thee I’ll hold by neck, and squeuster away in heart like robe I’ll cling
Mot gom yaar farzana vesi-yey
Kot gom tee kar ba zan-h vesiyay
Pan-ai chho Yousef pa-nai zu-lai-kh-ah
Panus chho aashaq paa-nai vesi-yey
My wise lover is enchanted; whence gone, how’d I know’ He is Yousef, himself is Zulaikhah; a lover he is undo his self, my dear.
Rasul Mir’s object of love, is an idealization rooted in the world of sights, smells and tastes. His flowery aspect is as enticing as the exuded fragrance is invigorating.
He t-h masval, bai yimberzal,
bar-r-h gai tse kun v-e-e-chhaan
Chesm-h si-yah ro-kh vo-zae-lee
Jam-h che-ti-yey latiyey
Jasmine, Iris narcissus too, looking at thee have withered away/Thine eyes are black, face is red and robes are of the whitest hue
Aash-q-h tab s-o-n bhargi la-lus,
yaam hae-vi-th man-zi num
Aar-h-val chh-ey la-lae-na-vaan
Loves fire bored into the poppy, the moment they he-nnaed hands it saw. The wild rose is nursing its boils from burning, dear
The beloved is seen in a floral mien, or else as an ethereal beauty fashioned of the most sublime things around. It is a portraiture that’d brook no reservation for love, because it is formed of a bubbling love, seeking an end and fulfillment in form. Beauty reaches divinity as it progresses to perfection.
Aash-q-h pae-chaan chho-e arg-vanun manz
Ka-teh-h zoon zan don shah-maar-unmanz
Naq-shi chee-nus zu-naar nachli-ye lo
Bosh hus-nuk ro-zi na kae-li-ye lo.
Like an Ivy caught in violets, a full moon trapped by pythons two; or a beauty of China wearing the sacred thread
Gum-h shab-num gul ro-kh-us
Zan chhi arq daa-n-h tus
Zooni pai-tth taa-ru-kh pa-kaan
Kari ro-gun dur-dan.
Like dew on a flower, are the drops of sweat on her face, or else starswalking over moon, that my high-necked love
Vuch aafta-bun chon tsan-dan mokh
te dolus rang
Gae-j Katch-h ta-vuy zoon chhus sar-saam nigaa-ro.
The sun spied thy…Chandan face, and lost color/the moon there upon has been jaded and looks pale
Kad chon alif, laam zulf, meem da-hn chhoe
Por akli sabaq shakli alif laam ni-gaa-ro.
You are talllike alif, thy locks are long like laam, and thy mouth is meem itself; from thy form came all knowledge, in shape of alif-laam
Some where these heady portraits of the lover and beloved mingle into one whole. Kashmiri Gazal, says Abdul Ahad Azad, is a female seeking the lover, who is male. In Persian from where Kashmiri gazal derives its inspiration, the object of love is a male sought by a male singer. In Rasul Mir, the singer changes from woman to man, the poems, and the elements of female beauty get mixed with distinctly male attributes producing a bivalent image. Azad calls it a defect of conception. This defected concept,’ runs in the Kashmiri gazals from Mahmood to Gani to Mahjoor. It certainly mars a distinctive characteristic of Kashmiri gazals, that set it apart from Persian and its offspring Urdu gazal. This trait has been preserved in female poetesses alone, like Habba and Arnimaal where there is no confusion. Rasul also gets into the gazal a boldness that is characteristically masculine. Thus:
gom ha-n-kli, dr-s-h go-m b-rai
Ts-us gom va-li-nja yaar ma aam
Tae-mi door see-n-h tai mae da-ri na-rey
Van-tai vesi-yey konai aam
The (door-) chain clanged the door was pushed my heart leapt, was my lover come’ His chest he proffered and I my arms. Tell my friend, why didn’;t he come
Zae-li dda-bi be-hi-mai ki-n-h rang-h la-rey
vo-th ve-s-e yaa-rus prae-ng voth-rar
Kai-n-h nai mang-sai shong-sai la-rey
Van-tai vesi-yey kon-ai aam
Would he grace in the balcony, or sit in the painted room’ Arise, my friend, spread his bed. I ask for little, but to lay be his side. Tell, my friend why didn’t he come
Chum kha-f-h laa-rai pa-ta-h
la-yey bron-ttha na-lus thaf
Da-maa-n-h ra-tt-ai ma-h-sha-rai
He is angry, him I’ll chase, by collor I’ll catch hold of him/on dooms day, I’ll hold thee by thy robe; without thee, here I die
It is a practice in Kashmir, for every poet even a singer, to have a spiritual preceptor, a peer. Rasul Mir is said to have had any peers. Rasul Mir sported majestic moustaches, which went tapering across the lip ending in a flowish. Some devotees, it is said, raised some religious objection to Rasul Mir’s moustaches ‘well ask him on the morrow’ said the peer. At night, the devotees, it is said, saw in their dreams the peer himself with similar moustaches. Tuswof, does not alloy Rasul Mir’s’ poetry, Unless, of course, you twist and tear it out of context and ‘discover’ ‘hidden meanings’. But Rasul Mir is an ardent lover, and on that plane, love becomes devotion, godhead.
Rasul chho zae-nith deen-o-maz-hab
rokh te zulf chon
Koh zani kya gov kufur to
Rasuls, knows thy locks and looks is a fine faith.How’d he know what is kufur, and what Islam, dear
That is Rasul Mir bold beautiful poet of exquisite love. Singer of fervent lyrics. The breath of vibrant air, that sent its freshness over cobwebs of cloistered verses. Almost single handedly, he turned Kashmiri poetry into a bubbling love, gushing forth helplessly, sincerely, fervently. As it should in a vale of beauty
Zae-li vae-nkan bae-li yeli lagi shu-maar
Pachh lag-nus gae-nz-ra-nus lachh tai hazaar
Ami Sha-yi no mok-lan pa-yi lo-lo
Rind-a posh-maal ginda-ney dra-yi lo-lo
When count is taken of thy braids, lacs of fortnights it’ll take. Once begun there is no escape from there. Lo, the gay love goes out to frolic
Poetry is, needlessly, harangued by analysis and postmortems, split as under to gorge out philosophies, burdened with the weights of duty and messages. Poetry is a communion of hearts. Pure and simple with or without the appeals and advocacy’s, philosophies, or campaigns. There reigns Rasul Mir Supreme unmatched. A master singer of heart
Ruslan ta-a-zh kitaab,
yi vaen-nai cha-ni ga-mai
Ani kus taa-b-i jawab
chav mey jam-i ja-mai
This new volume Rasul has sung in thy pang, who’ dare to rebut come, hand me another cup’.
Dina Nath Nadim
Dina Nath Nadim (1916-88) — With Dina Nath Nadim’s poetry, a new phase was introduced in Kashmiri literature. Dina Nath was born in Srinagar. He received his B.A. degree in 1943 and obtained his B.T. degree in 1947. For several years he taught at the Hindu High School. After independence, he was appointed Assistant Director of Social Education. Nadim introduced various poetic styles into Kashmiri. He was the first Kashmiri poet to write in ‘blank verse.’ He used the Kashmiri language with great grace and craftsmanship. He depicted the beauty, the poverty, and the plight of Kashmir in his poetry. Nadim has also composed poetry in a folk style. In 1971, He received the Soviet Land Nehru award (1971) and the Sahitya Akademi award (1986) for his book, Shihil Kul (poetry). He traveled to Russia, China, and other countries and was greatly influenced by communism and by progressive writers. Nadim also wrote the first opera in the Kashmiri language, entitled, Bombir ti Yembirzal (The Bumblebee and the Narcissus). Dina Nath Nadim has greatly influenced Kashmiri poets. Nadim’s dexterity in stylistic innovation and the freshness of his themes helped him to acquire that stature. He seems lo use words playfully, with intriguing combinations and creative effects in a seemingly effortless display of craftsmanship. One is left wondering, “why could not I think of that”. Not many of Nadim’s contemporaries could think of comparable devices, which explains why as his contemporary Lone says, they “were not only influenced by Nadim, but also inspired to write in his vein. Some of them went to the extent of copying his style while some adopted his themes in their poems.” The secret of Nadim’s art seems to lie in his intuition for effortless use of a highly appropriate vocabulary, a keen ear for the sound and rhythm of his native language, and, above all, an artist’s instinct for combining all his formal apparatus in fresh imagery. Nadim passed through many stages, and at each stage, he engaged in distinct thematic and stylistic experiments. As Braj B. Kachru observes, “That process still continues; so does the Nadim Era.”
Amin Kamil (b.1924) — Mohammed Amin Kamil was born in Kaprin in Kulgam Tehsil of Kasmir. He acquired the degree of B. A., LL. B. He worked in the Jammu & Kashmir Academy of Art Culture and Languages. In the Academy, Kamil held the position of Editor, Kashmiri Publications, and retired in 1980. His works of poetry include Saqi Namah, Lavah Te Pravesh, Bey Suy Paan, Padis Pod Tsaay, and Yim Myany Sokhan (These, My Words!). The awards and honors he received include J & K Cultural Academy award (1968 and 1975), the Sahitya Akademi award (1967) for his book Lavah Te Pravah (Poetry), and Padma Shri (2005).
Rahman Rahi (b. 1925) — Abdul Rahman Rahi was born on May 6, 1925. Orphaned at an early age, he was brought up by his maternal uncle. He worked in the Public Works Department for a brief period in 1948. He has also worked as a member of the editorial staff of the Urdu daily Khidmat, the official organ of the ruling National Conference Party. Around this time, he also joined the Progressive Writer’s Association of which he was elected General Secretary after few years, coinciding with his leaving journalism. He also edited a few issues of Kwang Posh, the literary journal of the Progressive Writer’s Association. Eventually, he joined the cultural wing of the undeclared Communist Party of Kashmir while pursuing his studies. He did his M.A. in Persian (in 1952) and English Literature (in 1962) from Jammu and Kashmir University. He was on the Board of Editors of the Urdu daily Aajkal, Delhi, from 1953 to 1955. His collections of poems include Subhuk Soda and Kalami Rahi. He was awarded the Padmashri. He has received several other awards and honors including the J K Cultural Academy award (1980), Sahitya Akademi award (1962), and Emeritus Fellowship awarded by the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India (1989).
Gulam Rasool Santosh
Gulam Rasool Santosh (1929-97) — Poet-painter Gulam Rasool Santosh was born in 1929, to a lower-middle-class family. He completed his Matriculation in 1945, with painting as a subject but was forced to give up further studies because of his father’s death. In his early years, Santosh was greatly influenced by geometric shapes and the mysticism of the Kashmir valley. Although Santosh began by painting landscapes, he was gradually influenced by cubism and switched over to creating cubist landscapes, a theme for which he is very popular now. He is a recipient of the Lalit Kala Akademi award and the honor of Padma Shree. He received the Sahitya Akademi award (1979) for his collections of poems, Besoakh Ruh. In 1985, he received the Kalhana award.
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