Lalleshwari - Bio-Data
and Background Information
Death 1390 A.D)
Pandraethan Village (ancient Puranadhisthana)
was married at the age of twelve to one Pandit boy at Pampore (ancient
Padmanpora) where presumably she was renamed Padmawati, as per the Kashmiri
Pandit tradition, by her-in-laws.
The Lalia of Padmanpora,
Gulp by gulp
Amrit who drank,
who saw Shiva
face to face everywhere:
Grant me too
O. Lord Shiva!
C/p Tran (JLK
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
modem historian Sh. P.N. Kaul, Bamzai, puts it in the middle of the 14th
Century. Some put her year of birth as 1335 A.D. and Prof. C.L.Sapru locates,
her date of birth in 1360 A.D. These sources and recently, "Kashmir: Behind
the Vale". record her year of demise as 1377 A.D.
One is unable-to
recollect the dates recorded, if any, in a persian booklet (lssar-ul-lbrar)
which I had studied, with the help of a Persian knowing friend, long ago,
as desired by J & K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages to focus
attention on the vegetarian aspect of the most popular Kashmiri saint,
Nund Reshi, whose shrine at Chrari- Sharief is thronged by devotees, both
Hindus and Mulsims, everyday and who is said to have been her spiritual
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 was 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.
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.
RELATIONS AND RELATIONSHIPS
Lal Ded could
not be and was no exception to the 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.
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 sheild her husband as well as
mother--in-law and their honour.
carrying a pail of water on her head from a brook, Lalleshwari was intercepted
by her husband. He fell upon her, breaking to pieces the earthen pot with
a rod. The pieces fell to the ground but the water remained frozen pitcher
shaped at its place. After filling all the vessels at home, she asked her
stunned mother-in-law if there were any other vessels to be filled. On
getting a negative reply, Lalleshwari threw the remaining water out at
a place which later came to be known as Lalla-Trag (marsh) It has dried
Such a particular
aspect of self-denial, patience, self discipline and forbearance are unparalleled
in human behaviour.
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
slaughter a ram or a lamb, Lalla will never miss her shingle".
to her routine travail is reflective of the stress of circumstantial exasperation
seeping into her delicate demeannour and ticking her divine leanings. This
led Lalleshwari slowly and steadily to resort to secret spiritual practices
deep sadhana and yoga in seclusion. A highly talented and reputed scholar
yogi of the time, Sidha Sri Kanth (Seddha Mol) of Srinagar became her guru.
"He whose senses
are under control attains the status of a place of pilgrimage", says Abhinav
Lalleshwari lived a life of purity guided by the discipline of the doctrine
and principles of yogic philosophy. Her experiences matured, knowledge
deepened and transformed the ascetic in her into a yogini of the highest
order". Says Yoganandaji Maharaj. "Lalleshwari is the supreme mistress
of Yoga ''Thus, purified by the crystal clear waters of Vedanta, it seems,
and drinking the milk of Upanishadic thought, she invigorated and revitalised
the Trika-Philosophy, the three fold science of an individual, his immediate
and remote environment in the universe, pervaded by the supreme energy
in its totality (To use Swami Laxmanji's interpretation).
the creek to distinguish
Hindu and a Mussalman?
if you are,
yourself and realise God !
on Lall Vaakh No 1
is almighty all pervading, Omnipresent Omniscient and exists in the very
electric charges pulsating in the nucleus of even the smallest atoms of
matter and seeped in all that exists universally in material or immaterial
substances, perceptible or imperceptible to bodily senses or special sensations
as well as in the mystries of emptiness or the secrets of the Wilderness
of the Void in boundary less space crowned by a bejewelled emerald blue
skies presided over by the model of sobriety the Puran-Mashi full moon
that shine and emit serene soft light to dispel and twinkle off the dreadful
darkness of gloomy nights and lulls us to a pleasant, dreamless sleep after
scorching summer days. And the glaring bright sun, projects forth warmth
bearing light to sustain biological life and causes phenomenal, natural
changes in the atmosphere, hydraulic cycles as well as physico-chemical
actions and reactions, continental drifts and storage of energy in various
forms, known or unknown, all for uniform benefit of life on earth without
any distinctions or discriminations of any kind what-so-ever.
concept of Shiva's universal presence or Omniscience combined with the
qualities of eveness, truth, goodness and beauty enjoin upon us to follow
her didactic message of imbibing the qualities of impartiality of judgement,
indiscriminating attitude towards all, equality, equanimity, love and affection
for the socio-economic, socio-political as well as socio-cultural and religious
harmony. Hence she says,
"Shiva is Omnipresent
not between a Hindu
and a Mussalman"
For they say.
'Love begets love', and may I add 'Evil begets evil'.
And the latter
is too contagious to control and disturbs the mind, raises tempers, causes
tensions, leading to violence that becomes a perpetual source of turmoil
and threat to life and property—a life of chaos and Vagrancy.
How apt is
the age-old Kashmiri saying.
I bought nettle
I myself became the first Victim.
of its painful
truth of Shiva is Omnipresent (Omniscience). Distniguish not between a
Hindu and a Mussalman!
its other interpretations, this Vaakh reflects the ethical and metaphysical
aspects of her systematic spiritual life.
C/P JLK 57
NSP No One P.P. No. 1/
discussion between the Guru and his disciples should be of interest to
Once, Lal Ded's
husband approached her guru, Sedha Mol, requesting him to help make Lal
Ded return home, The guru agreed and the discussions that took place included
an interesting interlogue.
No light equals
the light of the sun,
is there like the one
To the Ganga
excels a brother, and
is there like that of a wife!
No, light parallels
the light of
is there, like
The one, on
better than one's own pocket, and
is there, like a warm blanket:
There is no
of ultimate TRUTH,
like the one
of the love
of the Supreme,
like the Lord himself,
to Lalla Vaakh
a) Unlike the
English word 'Nude' equivalent to the English word 'naked' which
is used in Kashmiri in multipurpose senses.
Without normal apparel
b) Likewise the
Kashmiri word is double meaning equivalent to roaming about or dancing.
of dress worn by lady irrespective of the normals of time.
phrase 'nangai natchun' apparently seems to be current rumour for
common people like us.
the popular notion of the vertically downward projection of Lalla's belly
into a fleshy lump to cover her private organ may or may not be a fact.
For, in the light of her spiritual perfection, it seems controversially
irrational and incongruous. For, her short or affectionate pet name of
address and the surrounding neighbourhood must certainly also have been 'LALA' (or
'LALAl' etc. in feminist accent) and the same probably followed
her in her in-law's house.
que of my interpretation came from Prof. J.L. Koul's scholarly book 'LALDED'
For, for her
Gurus 'Gur-Shabad' i.e. her Guru's advice
from without, tickled Lalleshwari's' spiritually susceptible inclination
and she at once by a reflex action withdrew from without to merrily delve
down deep into the domain of her choice to probe into the depths of her
inner soul. Absorbed thus she roamed about the depths of her soul in relation
to her body and the super soul called Almighty Lord. The process advanced
in a happy concentrated mood in dancing and treking to reach and analyse
the truth of ultimate reality of the focus of the energy of the energies
of which only a few of such energy rays are known to us in the form of
heat, height, etc. In this way she almost became one -with the Lord of
the Universe the source of eternal dynamism of the Universe."
Hence the rumour
of is simply a misnomer.
And, no comfort
The fear of
C/P & contrast
LAL DED by JLK published by Sahetya Academy of 1973 page 18.
bubbling desire of spiritualism and her innate leanings towards the spirit,
had drawn her to a high ranking, reputed Sadaki and realised Yogni by Guru
Sedha Mol as said before . He administered her with his Guru Shabad- (Guiding
directive). This ultimately Proved to be her fuming point.
My Guru gave
me but one Gurashabad;
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
C/P JLK 21,
My Guru whispered
into my ear
But one Guru Shabad;
He asked me
to seek myself
I become free
What use to
Who lick cooking
kettles and go away
If we gather
together and pull
The same rope,
in the same direction,
can a single cow
Thou are the
sky, the earth and air,
Thou the day
Thou art the
grain, flowers and sandalwood,
water, universe, all;
remains to adorn thee with
O. Lord ?
C/O JLK 70,
No need's there
of garden, flowers
water or sesamum:
He, Go with
faith and Bhakti
his Guru's word.
And, of his
He'll do what
CIP JLK 67,
With a florists
thy flowers of Bhakti:
In bone with
sacred Mantras use
A 'Naeri Kalush
' to pour the nectar of
Thy mute prayers
to Shiva'll thus
C/P Vaakh No
6,7 ,11 Shruk No Poem i/10, IV 4 XV (15,6)
C/P JLK 69,
Note: The two Vaakh, 6&7 and, the chronology of her existence testify to her being
the pioneer and forerunner of the Bhakti movement of India.
A Social life,
day and night:
of the gods are
live for others
That are selfless :)
C/P Shruk No
4,5 Poem No Xl/3
C/P JLK 110,
was, seeking myself
around me was
of mystic knowledge
rocked it till
Found I there,
pitchers and pitchers
but, --- no drinkers
C'P JLK 99
Thou art within
A century later,
Sant Kabir gave vent to a similar spiritual experience in one of his dohas:
The more you
observe the red glow-
Of my red
pearl, the redder (beloved )
I went to
see the redness,
And, I too
A double century
later, Mira Bai burst into song:
None but Girdhar
Thus she too
bathed in the sun-shine of one God.
century from 14th century onwards, Lalleshwari and Nund Reshi were followed
by Ramanands, Kabir, Guru Nanak, Mira Bai all, high-ranking saints of the
Bhakti Movement. While Tulsi Das (contemporary of Akbar) composed Ramayana,
Mira Bai took solace in Lord Krishna who was her Girdhar Gopal.
honour of being the first scribe of the Kashmiri language in the form of
Mahany Prakash, goes to Shitikanth. Lalleshwari is credited with laying
the reinforced concrete basis of the language by her dextrous coinage of
apt idioms and proverbs to infuse life and dynamism into it from its very
infancy. The language, thus enriched and ornamented by lively idiom pregnant
proverb, depth of philosophical thought and messages of social welfare
and peace, became the main vehicle of communication of ideas among the
terse sayings still continue to enliven scholarly discussion and resolve
Vegetarianism and critic of animal sacrifice
O, you dull pandit, you offer
A living ram
to a lifeless stone,
It 'li cover
you in woollens.
you against cold;
on water and natural grass,
Who has advised
you to sacrifice
as an offering
To a dead
C/P JLK 65.
The stone that
forms the temple
and the prayer
The very same
And the rolling
Shiva is hard
Take the cue:
C/o JLK 66,NKK66.
for Vakayas No 11, 12
As a Shaivite,
mistress yogni, the Divine for Lalleshwan is NIRANKAR formless, limitless,
boundless, timeless, changeless, non conceiveable (mentally or physically),
non--confined to any place and yet, not non-existent anywhere, either.
To her, God is one absolute Truth, infinite and Omnipresent, all pervading.
She has realised her inner sun and moon in objectless, self-consciousness,
vacuum, nothingness (void, emptiness and essence of cosmic consciousness.
is firm on NIRGUNA aspect of goodhood, without any attributes, qualities,
objectives or " person-ifications such as, God is gracious, merciful, just
or great, as against its complementry SAGUNA counterpart, wherein visual
or verbal images are used as catalysts of concentration on the focussing
object, both as mental or material images so usually used by the followers
of different religious sects in one form or the other as rightly noted
by the author of "Negationism in India ", by an European scholar.
But all such
limiting boundaries thin out and vanish automatically as a sadakh draws
within from without, probes his inner-self and is self-realised. Refer
to L.V.44 etc. and
Specific :1/57. (21/89).22/118.
27/127. 30/130. 30-A/130.
35/84. 37/58(44/134) (45/133).
13/116.28/24. 29/7. 32/14. 33/68. 34/69. 40/113. 46
in India" Pages 154 to 165 (only photostat copy of these pages
available with me).
Of Poetry Society India 1993, Vol 3,
saguna form of worship may appear to be analogous to a growing infant or
child seeking sustenance and shelter from and rushing to his mother's
lap for consolation and comfort, in NIRGUNA. A Yogi seeks liberation of
his soul from boundage, to become one with the. Supreme Soul.
On studying L.V. Number 11 and 12 along with L. V. Number 1,3,5, 6 one gets the impression
that Lalleshwari abhors the grotesqueness and irrationality of animal sacrifice
in which, a living lamb is killed as an offering to a non-living stone
idol, the focussing object of worship or likewise, the depletion of aesthetics
in and, irreverential installation of the focussing symbols do not seem
to be in good taste.
was a thought provoking saint-poetess, profound Shaivite philosopher. deep
thinker, creative artist and the builder of the Kashmiri language. She
has been and still continues to be an unmatched sage, seer, sadakh par
excellence. As such she relieves in nirankari Divinity and nirguna type
of worship and Sadhana as observed above. She is a ruthles critic of ritual
religion and, worship too. And yet, says she:
With a florist's
the flowers of BHAKTI.
AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF EQUALITY
Shiva is omnipresent,
A Hindu and
ever before and'll exist for ever;
all, did so earlier and'll
all, for ever;
soul shuttles between life and death,
The sun ceases
not rising and setting.
nor is it
not coming and going:
C/P JLK 116,
Thus does this
versatile genius of a Yogni and poetess of eminence communicate her enlightened
experience on the path of self-recognition and the 'thrill of self consciousness'
and widening vision to quote late Swami Laxmanii.
in quick succession'll
Lead you no
in food and
be in everything.
moderation'll open the doors of
C/P JLK 27,
to Washington report 4 (INA) from the National Institute of Aging, Baltimore,
less eating prevents incidence of aging by controlling against diseases.
ii) Also read L.V. Number 41.
the purity of spirit in action has no meaning for Lalleshwari, Sadhana,
without the removal of the cloak of evil, bears no fruit, Lalleshwari skilfully
conveys the ticklish message by blaming herself rasher then others in the
matter (C/P also Vaak.h No. 48)
rote, my tongue and palate
art my destiny.
I found not
the right way
To act and
My thumb and
and yet, my friend
get rid of
C/P JLK 44
:- A Persian couplet quoted in the preface comfortably comes to my mind
again right now saying
righteousness except in the service of man.
for all life:
doesn't establish itself by
heeds, prayer and kneeling alone:
Nor does it
impress by donning
OF LALLA'S VAAKHS
seems to have delved deep into the realms of her self-consciousness guided
by sparkling rays of the inner, master Sun, which reveals the ultimate
Truth, gifts one with the right choice of inspiring words of wisdom that
kill all evil and pain, of every kind, cool and compose the soul and delight
the mind with intuitive foresight and divine discrimination and discernment.
Let the reader
relish and estimate for himself/herself the sweetness of expression and
profundity of divine, social and cultural message in the foregoing and
the following Vaakhs of Lal Ded.
your very feet. is
And you are
Tell me dear,
how does your
it ? How do you like it?
long collections, all
You have to
Tell me dear,
Do you relish
The flesh of
my feet stuck to
only one showed
me, the only
One path to
the only ONE
Even if those,
that hear this
May go mad:
of path., Lalla
Ref. Trans (JLK 87 NKK87)
late seventies or eighties of the fourteenth Century A. D. Lalleshwari
is said to have gone to Bijbehara town in Anantnag district in South Kashmir.
There, her soul said to have left her physical body to merge into the Supreme
A dispute is
said to have arisen between the Hindus and the Muslims, the former wanting
to cremate the body according to Hindu rites wereas the latter wanted to
bury it according to the Muslim, code. For she was the grandma Lal Ded
for all irrespective of creed or status in life.
the sentiments, the siprit of the yogini is said to have asked those present
to bring two large washbasins. The body is said to have sat inside one
and inverted the other over her head. Thereafter the body is stated to
have shrunk slowly till the two washbasins overlapped. After sometime of
those present are said to have ventured to remove the upper washbasin.
They found there nothing but a liquid formation. Half of the liquid is
said to have been taken by the Hindus for cremation and the other half
by the Muslims for burial adjacent to the local Jama Masjid .
episode is said to have repeated itself more than a century later on the
demise of Sant Kabir. After a similar dispute over the mode of disposal
of the body, the, saint's corpse kept in the coffin is said to have turned
into flower-petals, half of which were cremated by the Hindus and the other
half buried by the Muslims.
For the present,
it will be enough to conclude the discussion with a quotation from a modern
scribe, Fida Mohd Husains, recently published book entitled. . "The Beautiful
Kashmir Valley" published by Rima publishing House New Delhi. I quote.
" The earliest
Kashmiri work is MAHANAY PRAKASH written by Shati Kanth. Lalleshwari composed
her philosophy in the language of the people, she expressed her spiritual
and mystic experiences in Kashmiri. Her songs became popular and the people
committed to their heart and passed on from generation to generation.
To crown all,
her message did cut through the man-made barriers of religions. Hindus
as well as Muslims became her votaries with equal gusto. Her appeal was
humanistic and not sectarian. Her approach was of positive affirmation
and not of negative abjuration.
did not preach any religion, she even disdained ritual. She projected a
way of life quite in harmony without cultural traditions, in which a happy
amalgamation was made of what was good in Buddhism and even Islamic.
call to assimilate human values in those days won for her the esteem and
acclaim of Hindus and Muslims alike and the edge of ruthless proselytisation
got blunted. It was no mean an achievement on her part in uniting the lost
children of one god. Her message was so appealing that the tallest of Muslim
Rishis of Kashmir Sheikh Noor-Ud-Din Noorani made her his ideal and
expressed what he owed to her in these words :-
of Padmpur was fortunate enough in gulping the ambrosial nectarine draughts;
thereby she wojour adoration as in incarnation of immortal Divinity. Benevolent
God, grant me also such a boon."