in Kashmiri Poetry
by Dr. Krishna
is a great country. We have had for centuries a great history, the whole
of the East reflects our culture. We have to present what India taught
right from the Mohenjo-Darro and Harappa times. These are the precious
words of Dr S. Radhakrishnan. Kashmir is the most important part of this
great country with a rich geographical, historical, cultural and literary
background. It is known as a famous seat of learning. Kalhana has given
us the first chronological order of the kings of Kashmir and thus Rajtarangini
is the first history of Kashmir written in the 12th Century.
supposed to be the originating center of human culture, and it is popularly
known as the Paradise on Earth. Kashmir is famous for its Pratyabhijnya
system of Kashmir Shaivism which has given radical revisions of Indian
Philosophy. Pratyabhijnya Philosophy is the main contribution of Kashmir
to Indian philosophy. Shri Somananda was the originator of this philosophy
and Utpaldevak Abhinav Gupta and others were main expounders of this philosophy.
Buddhism has also a long history in Kashmir. The great Buddhist Council
was held in Kanishka's time near Harwan, known then as Kundala-Vana-Vihara.
Kashmiri scholars have written much about Buddhism and have translated
many works. Indian Literature without the contribution of Kashmir would
be hollow. Kashmir has produced scholars of Sanskrit Kavya Shastra: Vamana,
the founder of the Riti School and Udbhatta, the teacher of different theories
of Riti; Rudratta, Ananda Vardhana, Mamatta and Abhinavgupta, Kayyatta,
Ruyyaka and Mahima Batta-all were Kashmiris. Anand Vardhana is the founder
of Dhvani School and Mammatta of Rasa School. Abhinavgupta's doctrine is
that Rasadhvani is the soul of Literature. Patanjali was also a Kashmiri.
Thus Kashmir has given a lot to the Indian Poetics and Literature. Kashmir
has produced many Sanskrit scholars and mystics. The cultural life of Kashmir
has had the impress of great mystics.
The main language
of Kashmir is Kashmiri. It is said that it is a mixed language and the
greater part of its vocabulary is of Indian origin and it is allied to
that of Sanskritic-Indo-Aryan languages of Northern India.
begins with the works of great mystic poetess Lalleshwari of 14th century.
Her Guru was Siddha Srikantha and she learnt yoga from him. Lal Ded propounded
the yoga philosophy and high moral truths in Kashmiri verse. These are
called Lala Vakh or sayings of Lal Ded. These sayings are the gems of Kashmiri
poetry and true knowledge of yoga.These are deep and sublime. She was influenced
by Kashmir Shaivism and Shankracharya's Advaita Philosophy. Lal Ded's God
is Nirguna. She wanted to make Shaivism easy for common man. She says that
one who thinks himself not different from the other; one who accepts sorrow
as good as pleasure; one who frees himself from duality; he and he alone
tells the beads of Lord of the Lords-Almighty and this is the basic thinking
of Shaivism. She held a key to many mystic truths. The following stanza
illustrates her deep mystic thought:
my lamp of knowledge afar,
slow breath from the throat of me.
They, my bright
soul to my self revealed.
abroad my inner light.
And with darkness
around me sealed,
Did I garner
truth and hold Him tight."
by Sir Richard Temple)
Lal Ded thinks
dissolution of 'self' (Aham) essential for Realisation. According to her,
Sadhaka has to reach that mental attitude where there is no difference
between 'Him' and 'self'. She says one who considers his own self and others
alike ends the distinction between 'I' and 'you', who treats days and nights
alike, who is above sorrows and pleasures, can only realize God in his ownself. According to her, differentiation between the human soul and Divine-self
was Zero. Lal Ded is the first woman mystic to preach medieval mysticism
in Kashmiri poetry. She used metaphors, riddles and other mediums for her
Like Lal Ded,
another mystic poet of Kashmiri language is Nunda Rishi, who is known as
Sheikh Nur-ed-Din alias Sahajanand. His father, Salar Sanz was influenced
by Sufi Saint Yasman Rishi, who arranged his marriage with Sadar Maji.
The child of this couple, Nunda Rishi is the great founder of Rishi line
of Kashmir. Jonaraja refers to him as Maha Nurdin-the chief guru of Muslims-but
the saint poet always refers to himself only as Nunda. He preached to subdue
the five senses and control Kama, Krodha etc. He has given much importance
to yogic practice- breath control for communion with God. Nunda Rishi favoured
good action which is the secret of happiness in the world. He preached
a disciplined life like this:
is like the knotted wood of the forest
be made into planks, beams or into cradles;
He who cut
and telled it,
it into ashes.
rosary as a snake and favoured true worship:
not go to Sheikh and Priest and Mullah;
Do not feed
the cattle or Arkh or leaves;
Do not shut
thyself up in mosques or forests;
own body with breath controlled in communion with God.
Rupa Bhawani was
the second great mystic poet of 17th century. She had a great and deep
experience of ups and downs of life. The worldly sufferings showed her
the path of spiritual life. Her spiritual 'Guru' was her father Pandit
Madhav Joo Dhar who initiated her into the mysteries and practices of yoga.
She gave rich mystic poetry to Kashmiri language. In her poetry, we can
find the influence of both Kashmir Shaivism and Islamic Sufism.
is the sign of the selfless;
Bow down at
the door of the selfless.
are of the highest authority,
of the time and the wearers of the crest and crown.
These lines show
her spiritual understanding. According to her dissolution of self is essential
for Realisation. Rupabhawani was a great preacher of yoga. She describes
her yogic practice. The different stages of 'yoga' and awakening of Kundalini
has been described in the simple language of common men:
dashed down into the nether regions and brought thc vital breath up;
I got its
clue out of earth and stones;
Then my kundalini
woke up with nada;
I drank wine
by the mouth,
I got the
vital breath gathered it within myself;
This great mystic
poetess had experienced the truth and then explained the same. Such mystics
had real experience and not a bookish one. That is the reason why this
mystic poetry in every language is considered great after so many centuries.
of eighteenth century was a great mystic poet of Kashmir. I have seen three
manuscripts of this poet at Hangalgund which is 13 miles away from tourist
resort, Kokarnag. There are some supernatural stories also related to this
great poet. According to Mirzakak, 'Brahma' is one and invisible. He is
the aim of 'Prani'. According to him 'He' is 'Ram', 'Shyam' and everything.
'His' abode is universe.
naav Shyama Sunder
voochhi zi andar
'Self' and 'Praan'
are both Brahma. He creates, nourishes and then becomes Rudra :
Brahma laagith paida chhum su karan
laagith rachan dam ba dam Ram Ram
laagith soruy chhum galan
pran bood nabood dam ba da Ramay
We can find our
goal with 'Omkar' . Mirzakak has given a fine metaphor that Omkar is arrow,
worldly man is bow and our target is Brahma.
Om is real man,
Om is the light. It is past, present and future. It is the God of Gods:
gav aadi purush
Mysticism is in
broader sense as old as man hut it is with man in this scientific century
also. Pandit Zinda Koul is known as 'MasterJi' in Kashmir. His school is
that of Lal Ded, Rupabhawani and Mirzakak. According to Shri B.B. Kachru,
he is a mystic by temperament and naturally he could not stand the 'material
fret' of his own generations. He sharpened his intellect to reflect the
knowledge of truth and dialectical doctrine of Vedanta. Although mysticism
was out of tune in the age of 'Master Ji ' but the mystic approach is present
in his poem. He believes in 'Karma' theory and yearns for salvation. Human
salvation is more in the hands of man than in the hands of God. According
to MasterJi, God is besides oneself.
unknown and unseen
This is the basic
idea of a mystic who believes in oneness. The poet wants to search 'Him'
in another spiritual world:
all have a living faith in God-
Father, Lord of all-
given and spirits dark
Hold no sway
over men's mind.
For Master Ji
God is Love and he wants to understand the world through the lover's eye.
In 'Hymn to Love' poem, he describes:
Remover of world's darkness.
Thou art the
source of light and withal my own true self.
Let me see
thee shine in all these modes
into the philosophy of atonement.
me this duality.
For the poet like
Sumitranandan Pant, change is the process of life. Sorrows and happiness
are the two sides of this life coin. End is the beginning of the new. In
this poem, 'Ah this world ' Master Ji says that one thing alone makes life
monotorous, therefore, darkness and light are natural and important:
the Lord had not made Death,
If the hell
of life were to continue,
would not deserve our thanks
overwhelm it with complaint.
For Master Ji
the the power in man is nothing but 'His' Shakti. One can only face the
ups and downs of this world with the grace of God. We get inspiration from
that eternal truth which is Supreme. Man is always longing for something
unknown but that noble self is manifest in man's own self. Longing for
unknown creates mystic attitude for ages.
of Kashmiri Culture, issued by Parmanand Research Centre, Srinagar]