A verse-book which won first
Sahitya Akademi-Award for Kashmiri
I was first drawn to Masterji by
some of his poems published in a local-daily at
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
It was in the month of November,
1957 that I made my way to a locality in
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
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
Zinda Kaul later known
affectionately as “Masterji” was born on
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,
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.
poem was read by him in
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
In the year 1942, at a symposium
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
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
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
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...
for the teacher
He will arrive Today
My father, guru, I learn will
I will cover his path with flowers
I will clean my mind’s house by
sweeping away all sin...
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.
My lover from eternity who loves me
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
Come out to enjoy the spring my
It will by the way, afford an
opportunity to some people of
For many eyes are heavy like sick
With longing to look at you....
You revealed yourself to me of your
And having raised in me. You left
To whose care, my sovereign Yogi!
The New Year has come
New flowers have bloomed in the
And song-birds have again begun
Recently the Sahitya Akademi has
published two monographs in the series-"Makers of