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A verse-book which won first Sahitya Akademi-Award for Kashmiri

By Mohan Kishen Tiku

I was first drawn to Masterji by some of his po­ems published in a local-daily at Srinagar. 1 longed to meet him mostly to talk about Kashmiri poetry and note his reaction to the present poetry of Kashmiri poets. So I was looking for­ward to the day when I would meet this great soul of Kashmir.

It was in the month of November, 1957 that I made my way to a locality inMaster Zinda Kaul Jammu, city where he was putting up with a fri. My first impression was by no means equal to my expec­tations. I was however charmed at once some what inexplicably. His appear­ance was soft and bore no striking feature, with a pale face, the poet made his ap­pearance dressed in the traditional phiran, and a greeting smile.

After the introduction he heard of my interest in the Kashmiri poetry. He somehow became inter­ested in me, and thereafter, I would visit him often. He told me about early days of his studies and his work in connection with the editing of poet Paramanand’as work, which he translated into English. The translated ver­sion was published in three volumes.

Zinda Kaul later known affectionately as “Masterji” was born on July 17th 1885. His father Lakhman Pandit died early when Zinda Kaul was still a young boy un­der the burden of responsi­bilities.

Zinda Kaul tried his hand at many occupations and grew up in a prosaic atmosphere. In those early days he faced many difficul­ties in getting books to read. But he managed to borrow books and would read at late hours of the night.

Poetry fascinated him. He was charmed by sweet-songs that tell of saddest thought. In the year 1899, hardly 14 years old, Masterji composed a poem to recite it from the stage at the Dharm-Sabha meeting held at the Raghunath Mandir, Srinagar.

His early poems can be divided into two groups. The first group from 1902 to 1920 and second from 1920 to 1935. First came ‘Ghazals’ in the traditional-pattern, and others were Urdu poems. In the year 1918, he also composed two English poems ‘Love’ and ‘Darbagh’ which are still remembered.

‘Aha-ha-Clerky’- a satirical poem was read by him in Jammu on ‘Navreh’ day in the year 1935. In the year 1940, he published first collection of Hindi poems ‘Patra-Pushpa’. His collec­tion of Urdu poems under the pen name of ‘Sabar’ was published by late Dr A.N Raina in the year 1964.

In the year 1942, at a symposium held at Srinagar, he read a poem’ ‘Panuni Kath’, which was liked very much. This poem and the others that he wrote in Kashmiri, later es­tablished him as a poet. Zinda Kaul’s meeting with poet Tagore in Srinagar in Oct, 1915, brought a cata­clysmic change in him. In fact direct influence can be traced in his work-’Sumran’ which won him the first ‘Sahitya-Akademi’ award in 1956, for Kashmiri lan­guage. The book was pub­lished by the Lalla-Rukh-publications, Srinagar. However, Mirza Arif (Poet) who was the member of the Sahitya Akademi during 1954-1956, observed that the book ‘Sumran’ was not entitled for the reward, as the book was published much earlier than 1965.

An anthology of Mod­ern Kashmiri verse records”-’his sler vol­ume of 35 poems entitled ‘Sumran’ won him the ‘Sahitya-Akademi’ Award for 1956. All these poems belong to his period of ma­turity and are philosophi­cal and devotional in con­tent. His poems express the doubts and anguish that torment the modern mind, but he does not resolve these by the assertion of any dogmatic philosophy’.

On the death of his wife he wrote to  one of his fris..... “She has at last found me unworthy of her and flown to the heaven from where she must have come.” He was a soft spo­ken man. Never harsh and always gentle in his way. Masterji was simple in his food habits. He had admi­ration for the young poets of Kashmir for their sincer­ity, patriotism and ideals. He wanted them to give more thought to the deeper prob­lems of life.

In spite of many ups and downs which came in the way of Masterji, he had a great sense of humour, once, while serving in a lo­cal photographer’s shop, he was directed by the owner of the shop to

collect the charges of a photograph from an English lady. When young Zinda Kaul asked for the payment, the lady got somewhat angry and threw the copy of the pho­tograph on the floor and said, ‘I will not pay any­thing. Don’t you see how silly I look in the picture”.

Young Kaul picked up the photograph and said to the Lady that it was not their fault.

Like Tagore his poetry is deeply philosophic in na­ture.

Masterji did his best to be simple in his daily hab­its till his  of life which came on February 3, 1965 at Jammu.

Some 38 years ago in 1958, Nilla-Cram Cook, alongwith Prof PN Pushp and BP Sharma came to see this great soul of Kashmir. I too was in the room present at that time. Masterji ex­plained some of his poems.

Tears were in her eyes. Later she wrote a book. “The way of the Swan” Po­ems of Kashmir”. This work contains six poems of Masterji translated by her. Before taking leave, she enjoyed Kashmiri-tea with Kulcha.

For the interest of the readers here is the selection of some lines from his fa­mous book,’ Sumran’ col­lection of Master]i’s poems in Kashmiri, translated by him in English too:-

Hymn to love

Great love. I have seen that thy power is marvellous as God’s

I know no God apart from thee make thou my heart-shrine...

Reverence for the teacher

He will arrive Today

My father, guru, I learn will arrive today

I will cover his path with flowers

I will clean my mind’s house by sweeping away all sin...

Token of love

(The Rosary)

Listen my fri, he gave me his rosary as a to­ken of his love

But alas: I failed to take good care of it and lost it!

I was unworthy!

I have no hope to re­cover those precious beads by groping

To be so lucky one must have given rich gifts to the poor in one’s past.

Unprepared:

My lover from eternity who loves me more

than I can love myself

Who is my hope, my light,

my lord and king

Who wants me seeks me and calls me.

With whom my child­hood was fall of bliss...

Spring

Come out to enjoy the spring my dear fri

It will by the way, afford an opportunity to some people of

For many eyes are heavy like sick man’s

With longing to look at you....

Meeting

You revealed yourself to me of your own accord

And having raised in me. You left me alone

To whose care, my sovereign Yogi!

New Year

The New Year has come

New flowers have bloomed in the garden

And song-birds have again begun their working!

Recently the Sahitya Akademi has published two monographs in the series-"Makers of India. Literature" about Masterji.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

 
 

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