a large part of ancient literature in Kashmir was written in non-Kashmiri
languages it, nevertheless, bears a close affinity with the Kashmiri Language.
Several Sanskrit poets and writers of Kashmir have also written in Kashmiri.
Likewise, many Kashmiri poets and writers have been influenced by the work
of Sanskrit poets and literature.
Prakrit era, Buddhist scholars wrote some books in Kashmiri for the propagation
of their religion. "Miland Panha" and "Brihad Katha" are examples of this
literature. Later during the Muslim period prior to 1470 AD. some religious
texts were rendered into Kashmiri for purposes of propagation of Islam
but no trace of these manuscripts is found now.
stand out as the true founders of Kashmiri literature. They are Shitikanth
(13th Century), author of Mahanai Prakash "Lal Ded (b. 1335/50) and Nund
Reshi (b. 1377). "Banasur Katha," composed around 1446 AD by Avtar
is another early specimen of Kashmiri literature, Persian dominated from
the beginning Of Mughal rule (1586) right upto the end of the Muslim period,
crisp saying ) was the characteristic of the earliest verse. It reached
its zenith in the time of Lal Ded. Shitikanth, who lived 100 years earlier
and also wrote vaakhs was perhaps the first poet of Kashmir. Nund Reshi
too wrote Vaakhs which, however, came to be termed as shruk (a Corrupt
form of shalok! Vatsun is a long poem of four line stanzas, the last line
of all stanzas being common.
of Kashmiri literature during the 15th century and the first half of the
16th century is clouded in oblivion. The famous queen-songstress, Habba Khatoon, born in 1541, innovated the genre of melodious 101 lyrics which
are matched only by those of Arnimaal of the eighteenth century. Both of
them had undergone similar physical and mental trauma. The celebrated Rup
Bhavani of the early eighteenth century also wrote delectable Vaakhs and
Vatsuna in the tradition of Lal Ded. Mirza Kak, also of this period, wrote
Vaakhs which were published 126 years after his death in 1934.
repeated itself in Kashmir towards the end of the 18th Century when -ólike
Habba Khatoon--Arnimaal, the deserted wife of a scholar and savant, Munshi
Bhavani Dass Kachru, poured out her heart's agony in titillation 101 lyrics
full of such grief, pathos and poignancy that could not be surpassed by
any other poet after her. We find this lovelorn, passionate and distressed
woman, Arnimaal (d. 1801), knocking at the portals of the 19th century
with a unique wailing and yearning, an intensity of feeling, touching means
and sobs, dismay and frustration and a vain but cherished hope of reunion
with her husband whom the Afghans had externed from Kashmir. The whole
flora and fauna, brooks, lakes and mountains seemed to echo her heartbeats.
brief review of the ancient and medieval literature of Kashmir and the
venous genres used by the poets and writers of those days, I may now legitimately
turn to the main aim of this articles --- introducing to the reader the
commendable work done by Shn Prithvi Nath Razdan, well-known elderly journalist,
educationist and literateur of Kashmir, who is now living a life of forced
migration in Jammu in the form of the present volume, entitled "Gems of
Kashmiri and Kashmiriyat--- Trio of Saint poets
has been written already, on the three great poets covered in this volume,
by Prof. Jaya Lal Kaul, Prof. B. N. Parirnoo, Ghulam Nabi Gauhar, Braj
Bihari Kachru, Shashi Shekhar Toshakhani and others. Razdan Sahib's deep
insight and analytical mind have largely succeeded in throwing fresh light
on the unforgettable cordon made by them to Kashmiri language and literature.
He has taken great pains, despite his old age, to analyses with clarity
and vision the spiritual philosophy of the three saint poets ad of whom
urge the sadhak to retire within, from without, as the best means of realising
the Truth. In this way, Shri Razdan has rendered Yeoman's service to his
mother- tongue and motherland both and his work will surely be judged as
a good contribution on his part.
Let me now
dwell a while on the art of the three illustrious off springs of the Happy
1. Lal Ded:
Saint poetess Lalleshwari, popularly called Lal Ded, is by far the greatest
litterateur produced by Kashmir. She represented the Trika philosophy and
was the most towering pillar of the shaivite tradition. However, it was
only in 1779 AD, more than four centuries after her death, that 60 of her
vaakhs were first discovered and compiled in the Sharda script by Bhaskar Razdan. They were got published by the Research and Publications Department
later, thus removing the dark mask of time under which this poetess had
remained hidden for centuries. It was left to Sir George Grierson and Lionel
Barnett to later trace more of her vaakhs, edit them and get them published
in London in 1920 under the title of "Lalla Vakyani". Lalleshwari is not
only the greatest saint -poetess of Kashmir but also a profound Shaivite
Philoshpher sage, Seer and a creative genius so far unsurpassed by any
other Kashmiri thinker:
Guru gave me but one guru shabad:
2. Nund Reshi:
Nund Reshi (popularly known as Sheikh-ul alam) of late who was Lal Ded's
contemporary wrote shruks. He too was a great upholder of the mystic tradition.
In fact, he can be termed as the first sun poet of Kashmir and the father
of Kashmiri nazm. (No less credit for evolving this genre, however, goes
to Mahmud Gaami b. 1765). Nund Reshi was a great exponent of Islamic tenets
and founded the 'Reshi' cult in Kashmir. This cult goes a long way in synthesising
different cultural ways of life.
He told me
to move within from without.
That hit my,
Lalla's nail on the head:
myself and shed off the veil.
I began to dance naked.
In the midst
of the sea.
I am towing
and, Ferry me too, across;
Water in my
unbaked earthen plates
Prof. B.N. Parimoo, in his delectable treatise on Nund Reshi entitled "Unity in Diversity",
has dwelt on this cultural rejuvenation in the following words: "Lal Ded
and Nund Reshi have come down to us, over the centuries, as apostles of
true knowledge. They had a message to give and could not, perhaps, help
singing as an inspired compulsion. They touch the deepest cords of human
sensibility. It is not for nothing that we recite the vaakhs of Lal Ded
and shruks of the Sheikh with gusto and feeling. The meaning comes home,
mixes with the blood and becomes part and parcel of our being. A cultural
rejuvenation takes place.
of 'religion' becomes more comprehensive. It encompasses the Universal
Spirit, the attainment of which become the goal of life. It has its roots
firm in the conviction that life is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
'What have I earned by my birth in the world? is the refrain of the song
of life. World is deemed but a play field where we have our time of fun
and frolic, of our allotted sunshine and rain. But, however absorbing the
world may be, we are warned not to forget our Eternal Home, the blessed
presence of god. Thus the goal is defined. "
Mark the marvellous
similies used by Nund Reshi in one of his famous shruks:
saint was lost amongst
And note how humbly
he admits the superiority of Lal Ded in the spiritual realm:
A gang of
swan, was lost
Amidst a flock
Lalla of Padmanpora
The third of the pre-eminent saint poets of Kashmir, Parmanand (b.1794),
nourished the Lila movement founded by Prakash Ram (b.1819), together with
Master Zinda Kaul and Krishna Razdan. This movement represented the Bhakti
tradition set by Parmanand himself. He, along with some others, followed
the Rama Krishna canon of Hindu mythology.
Gulp by gulp
who nectar drank.
And saw Shiva
face to face...;
Grant me that
boon, O Deva;
a towering literary personality, he was a great devotee of Lord Krishna
and Lord Rama. He composed three long narrative poems of devotional nature,
besides a large number of bhajans and lilas. His narrative poems are Shiv
Lagan, Radha Swayamvar and Sudama Charit. His work is thoroughly permeated
with the teaching of Kashmir Shaivism. He wrote litanies too, addressed
to Hindu gods and goddesses such as Vishnu, Shiva, Parvati and Ganesh.
He also composed poems on yogic practices and mystic symbolism.
His most remarkable
poem in the last category is 'Karambhoomika'. The seeds of contentment
will blossom into the fruit of ecstasy. This poem provides an intimate
picture of rural Kashmir of his time. In this didactic piece he aims at
preparing a sadhak for the purification of soul necessary for the attainment
of gyaan. I quote here the introductory stanza:
thy field of action with
The whole poem
is full of symbols like "the yoke of love", "block of patience", moisture
of malice", "wet sods of contemplation", "water of Tapa", "sickle of renunciation",
"logs of meditation", "shine own karma is the store of your Fate (Prarabdha)",
of duty and devotion;
of contentment will then
Grow to bear
the fruit of Eternal Bliss.
oxen of twin-breath
the field day and night;
on to work hard
With the Kumbaka
and work on to see
That not a
patch remains unploughed.
- PP No.
In his short
introduction to one of the poems, Shri Razdan says: "while Parmanand is
absorbed in the blissful aura of Lord Shiva almost to the limits of trance,
he urges people not to be mad after caste and creed in the quest for godliness
and godhood, brotherhood and love. Nor does he ignore the scientific method
of observation and experiment to arrive at conclusions in the spiritual
that repentance will not help the wrong-doer. See how beautifully he expresses
this truth in the following couplet:
I sowed, grain by grain,
great importance of Bhakti which culminates in man's elevation to godhood,
Shall I reap,
ear by ear.
is he who is experienced:
sight, what use is
A lamp to
the blind, in darkness?
Only he sees,
Asks to open
the pearly necklace
Free you are
to wear it;
You are all
You are all
- PP No.V111/7