Literary Life of Pt. Nilakanth Sharma
By Dr. R.K. Tamiri
Nilakanth Sharma was born at Dab Wakoora, Shadipur
(Tehsil Ganderbal, Srinagar), on 21st June, 1888
to Pt. Shankar Joo and Sukhmal. His family
originally belonged to Ganpatyar locality of
Pt. Ramjoo, one of his ancestors, had gone in
adoption to a Sharma family of Dab Wakoora. The
family has no clue as to when this adoption had
Pt. Ramjoo's family at Dab Wakoora were big
Chakdars and held lot of land at Rabitar (Gund
Roshan) in tehsil Ganderbal. The peasants of the
area, to distinguish this family from other
Pandits, used to call them 'Badih bhatta'
Pt. Nidhanjoo Sharma, a descendant of Pt. Ramjoo,
was well learnt in religious scriptures. So was
his son Pt. Shankar Joo. There is an interesting
anecdote connected with Pt. Shankar Joo. One day
as usual he was absorbed in performing 'Sandhya' (Puja)
at 5 AM in the morning on the bank of a rivulet. A
group of peasants happened to pass by. They wished
him 'Bandagi Mahra'. Since he was absorbed in
meditation he did not respond. The peasants
thought that Shankar Joo might not have heard
them. They drew nearer and again said 'Bandagi
Mahra'. As he still did not respond they came more
closer and repeated the same. Shankar Joo,
disturbed in his meditation, lost his cool and
shot back," You Rascals, get out". The peasants
retraced their steps and went home muttering ad
nauseaum 'Shankar Joo Bandagi, Shankarjoo Bandagi...'
Even at home they continued to speak this
uninterruptedly. The worried families approached
Pt. Shankar Joo for forgiving them. He told them
that he didn't do anything to them but they
disturbed his puja. Shankar Joo asked them to get
Dhoop and light it as sort of remedy. The peasants
were their normal self again. Nobody in the
village dared to take liberties with him.
There were no schools in Pt. Nilakanth Sharma's
time at Dab Wakoora. So he had no formal
education. He mastered Sanskrit, Persian, Hindi
and Urdu and had good working knowledge of
English. Pt. Nilakant knew Sanskrit very well and
had learnt it from his father. His father and
grandfather, Pt. Nidhanjoo knew Sanskrit quite
well. Kashmiri Pandits from neighbouring villages
would flock to them for learning Sanskrit. Pt.
Nilakanth composed verse mostly in Kashmiri and
occasionally in Sanskrit. There is nothing to
suggest that he wrote verses in Hindi or Urdu. Pt.
Nilakanth received initial coaching in Persian
primer from a teacher but gained proficiency in
the language through his own efforts.
Pt. Nilakanth was well steeped in Saivite lore and
had imbibed Saivite teachings, first from his
father and then from books. After 1947 when the
family shifted from Dab Wakoora to
many Kashmiri Pandits of the city would visit Pt.
Nilakanth to take lessons in Saivism from him. Pt.
Nilakanth had two brothers-Pt. Lakshman and Pt.
Gopi Nath. They too tried their hand in composing
few Bhakti (devotional) leelas in Kashmiri.
Pt. Nilakanth was married to Leelawati. The
latter's sister, Ranim Ded was married to Pt.
Govind Bhat Shastri of Motiyar, Rainawari. Pt.
Govind Bhat was a teacher in
CMS School. He has written many scholarly commentaries. His
son, Pt. Triloki Nath Shastri even after doing
M.Sc. Physics went for Shastri and Prabhakar to
keep alive the family's rich literary tradition.
Pt. Triloki Nath, who was a great scholar of Vedic
math did not go for government service and taught
at DAV Higher Secondary School Rainawari.
Pt. Balji Kaw was a spiritually elevated person.
He hailed from downtown area of Srinagar and was
an ardent devotee of Goddess Ragniya. He used to
stay a Tulmulla in a Dharmshala. Balji was a saint
of high order. It is said he used to converse with
Goddess Ragniya. Nilakanth's family Kul Devi was
also the same goddess. He often would go to Balji
Kaw and hold discussions with him on spiritual
matters. Once Pt. Nilakanth's youngest brother
Gopi Nath fell ill. The family lost all hopes of
recovery. Pt. Nilakanth sent brother Lakshman to
Tulmulla to seek Balji Kaw's intervention. The
latter told Lakhsman, "I had premonition about
your visit the moment you stepped out of your
home. This 'file' is now out of my hand. I can do
little'. Lakshman turned pale, with tears rolling
down his cheeks. He threw himself at Saint's feet.
Balji was moved and told Lakshman," Since you have
come you mix this sugar candy with Hakim's sharbat
and serve it to Gopi Nath. On the 4th Day he
should shell some paddy in Kanz (Big Stone Pestel)
and bring that to me himself.". On taking Sharbat
Gopi Nath got well and took shelled danya to Balji.
The latter wished him good health and prosperity.
On another occasion an aged Kashmiri Pandit was
reciting 'Panchastavi' text at the holy spring of
Tulmulla. Another Kashmiri Pandit who had come
from Srinagar objected and told the old man that
his recitation of Panchastavi was incorrect. He
further implored him not to proceed any further
with the recitation. The same Pandit who had found
fault with the recitation went to see saint Balji
Kaw before leaving for home. Balji was visibly
angry and told him," You have lost your direction.
Who has given you authority to decide right and
wrong. You are obsessed with grammar and lingustic
nuances. Why don't you appreciate the devotion
with which this person was reciting 'Panchastavi'.
Goddess is angry with you".
Pt. Nilakanth would meet Balji almost every week.
At latter's instance Pt. Nilakanth once composed
"Boz shamrupi Narayanas Tsar votanas bozyam
(Narayan has syam colour. I would relate my tale
of woe to him. I want him to listen to me)
Swami Nand Lal (Tikr):
Swami Nand Lal used to visit Pt. Nilakanth
regularly at Dab Wakoora as well as Srinagar. He
would hold spiritual discussions with Pt.
Nilakanth and liked his leelas. Swami Nand Lal Ji
had mastery over Saiva Yoga and demonstrated the
miraculous powers the Saiva Yogis used to possess.
Once Swamiji asked Pt. Nilakanth to compose a
Leela on a scene 'when Lord Krishna is born and
Lord Shankar comes to have his darshan. A few
lines of this leela read like this:
"Azar Amar Yogishwar nermal Kuniya
Shodbodh Shankar Aaav Laran Gokul Kuniya".
(When Lord Krishna was born Lord Shankar, who was
himself a God and a Yogi, came running to have his
In spiritual mehfils of Srinagar Pt. Nilakanth's
Leelas were in great demand. When Swami Nand Lal
Ji passed away his disciples asked Pt. Nilakanth
to compose a Gurustuti on the saint. He was quite
old then but agreed to their request. A few lines
of the Gurustuti composed by Pt. Nilakanth which
is recited at Nandbab Ashram read like this:
'Agyan ghate sirya Prakash Schuk aasavunaya
he shrih satgor khena khena schum aasar chonuya'
A Sadhu from Uttarakashi:
There is an interesting story which Pt.
Nilakanth's brother Lakshman related to his
nephew, Sh. Prithvi Nath Madup, a noted Hindi
Litterateur. Pt. Nilakanth was once immersed in
puja when he all of a sudden called Lakshman and
asked him to spread a blanket infront of him. A
little amazed Lakshman asked, "you are busy with
Puja. What have you to do with the blanket". Pt.
Nilakanth asked his brother not to waste time in
arguments but lay the blanket immediately. A few
seconds later a hermit, dressed in bare loincloth
and holding Kamandal in his one hand entered the
Thokur Kuth. He seated himself on the blanket laid
by Pt. Nilakanth. The two just looked at each
other for few minutes. Then Pt. Nilakanth spread
his hands before the hermit, demanding 'Maharaj
Prasad'. The hermit took out an apple from the
Kamandal and put in Pt. Nilakanth's hands, saying
'Sirf Aap Ke Liye' (only for you).
The hermit impressed upon Pt. Nilakanth not to
share it with anybody else. Pt. Nilakanth asked
Lakshman to prepare tea for the hermit. Before the
tea could be served the hermit had vanished. Pt.
Nilakanth kept shouting to his family members not
to allow the hermit to leave the house without
Who was this hermit? For decades the Sharma family
had no answers. In 1989-1990 Pt. Nilakanth's
younger son Sh. Prithvi Nath Madhup was posted to
Uttarkashi. He recalled to the author a strange
experience he had on one of the occasions here.
Sh. Madhup's office clerk had informed him that a
hermit lived on a hill nearby. The hermit had
built a hermitage for himself. The hermit was seen
by the public only on few occasions. Nobody had
any idea where would the hermit go in between.
When Sh. Madhup insisted on visiting the hermit ,
the clerk carried along another teacher of school
who taught music. At the hermitage they saw the
hermit seated on worn out darbasan. His Kamandal
was in front of him. The hermit nodded, asking
them to come nearer. His asan could accommodate
just one person. Pointing towards Mr. Madhup the
hermit offered his asan. The hermit himself sat on
earth. Mr. Madhup sat down as a disciple and in
all humility told the hermit. "I am a sinner. I
will not sit on this asan'. The hermit replied"
Yeh apke Guru Maharaj Ke Liye.Maih Unhika Rup
Apko Manta Hoon" (This is for your Guru
Maharaja I take you as his incarnation) and then
kept silent. Sh. Madup and others bowed in
reverence. After an hour when they prepared to
leave the hermit gave his consent by a nod. When
Sh. Madhup spread out his hands before him for
'Prasad' the hermit took out an apple from his
Kamdnal and offered him, saying, "Yeh Aapke
Kashmir Ka Hai, Sirf Apke Liye" (This is
from your Kashmir, it is only for you). This
hermit was never seen again by Sh. Madhup.
Saint Sedamol and Swami Asokanand:
Swami Ved Lalji 'Sedamol' was close to Sharma
family and visited Pt. Nilakanth quite often. He
regarded Pt. Nilakanth as his spiritual guru. On
the day of Ashtami he would invariably visit Pt.
Nilakanth at Dab Wakoora to pay his regards. Swami
Asokanand who had his ashram at Sumbal would also
visit Dab Wakoora to hold spiritual discussions
with Pt. Nilakanth. The latter had met Pt. Krishan
Joo Razdan, the greatest leela poet
Kashmir has ever produced. No details are available about
Pt. Nilakanth had powerful impact on others.
People in their maiden meeting with him would
decide to become his disciples. One of Pt.
Nilakanth's close friends was a police official,
Sh. Govind Ram Padroo of Srinagar.
Pt. Nilakanth had deep knowledge of Jyotish Vidya
and Vedic Math. He had predicted the time of his
death. His predictions usually came correct. He
was famous astrologer of his time. Pt. Nilakanth
while practicising astrology would use traditional
techniques to verify 'Tekni' and time of birth.
He would not practise faith healing. He would say
that he was a saint and it was not his job to
Too often the villagers would pressurise him to
yield. He once gave a yantra and few suggestions
to a chowkidar Rasool Bhan to try his luck. Bhan's
problem was solved.
Pt. Nilakanth was very sober. He never raised his
voice while talking to others. He abhored giving
corporal punishment to his children. His way of
conveying was suggestive but very effective. He
took good care of children and was deeply attached
to his wife.
Pt. Nilakanth, who had deep knowledge of
Kashmir's religious folklore took extra pains to
transmit this tradition to his two sons—Prof.
Janki Nath Sharma and Sh. Prithvi Nath Madup. The
former was a renowned professor of English. He had
his education from MP School, Bagh Dilawar Khan,
SP College and Amar Singh College, Srinagar and
did MA in English from Lahore. Prof. Sharma
retired as Principal from
Jammu. A habit inculcated by his father Prof.
Sharma remains a voracious reader even today. His
interests include—Ramakrishna Paramhans, Aurbindo
Ghosh and Raman Maharishi. Prof. Sharma too had
interest in poetry and has written few poems under
the nom de plume of 'rasik'. Even in
his youth he wrote a leela on renunciation (vairagi).
Few lines of it:
Rasiko chah ras chiyo ragkuyi
Kar yatan chah samsar Tiyagkuy
Nashi Shah Mukhan kiyuth ti zanh
Yim tan shah, yim tan shah
The other son, Sh. Prithvi Nath Madup is a
renowned poet, with 5 collections to his credit.
His wife too turned spiritual after she was
married to Sh. Madhup. It was due to Pt.
Nilakanth's influence. Mrs. Madhup too has written
some poems,published in anthology of Sh. Madhup.
Pt. Nilakanth was a strict vegetarian from the age
He passed away on 21st of January 1971. Soon after
his death Sh. Makhan Lal Dhar, a drawing teacher
Vidyalaya School paid a unique tribute. He knew
Pt. Nilakanth quite intimately. He did an oil
painting on Pt. Nilakanth and his wife, keeping
one of his bhajans as the context.
Pt. Nilakanth has left behind over 300 poetic
compositions with theme of Bhakti (Devotionalism),
Gyan (knowledge) and Vairaga (Renunciation). The
Leelas are dedicated to different gods-Krishna,
Shiva, Ram etc. and goddesses - Jwala, Ragniya,
Tripore Sundari. He is the only Kashmiri to have
written a Leela on Hanuman. Pt. Nilakanth regarded
Lord Rama as his main deity. He wrote many
at the behest of saints and for
(prayer). References to Pt. Nilakanth's
compositions are available in an anthology
brought out by Sahitya Academy. In 1947 during
tribal raid the Sharma family had to flee Dab
Wakoora and seek shelter in Srinagar. Their house
was set on fire. The family while fleeing in
adverse circumstances managed to take out unharmed
the entire work done by Pt. Nilakanth. In Srinagar
the family first stayed at Kanikadal at the house
of Pt. Goverdhan Shastri, the head Pandit of
Sanskrit Pathshala. The latter was son-in-law of
Pt. Nilakanth Sharma. After a while the Sharma
family shifted to the house of Razgarus (Razdan)
at Drabiyar. The bedbugs in this house disturbed
the great literateur so much that Pt. Nilakanth Ji
went poetic to express his agony. He wrote:
Nand Lal Arzanneh Sathgora
Razkareh Ganda Gav
Zan Meh Moklav
Nilakanth Chu Aamut Tanga
Amar Hey Chara Charay Daya Kara
The family had to look for a new rented
accommodation at Kharyar before they constructed
their own house at Narsingh Garh. It is
unfortunate that even after six decades Pt.
Nilakanth's Leela poetry remains unpublished. Few
poems have been translated and published in Koshur
2. Ramayan-e-Sharma or Sharma Ramayan:
This was completed in 1926 after seven years of
work. It was 5th work on Kashmiri Ramayana after
Prakash Kurigami (1804), Shankar (1880), Anand Ram
Razdan (1888), Vishnu Kaul (1913). Dr. ON Kaul has
done a comparative study of Ramcharit Manas and
Kashmiri Ramayana. He refers to 'Sharma Ramayana'.
Mrs. Sarojini Bhat, now in United States, did her
M.Phil. Thesis on 'Sharma Ramayana' from Kashmir
University.Dr. Shashi Shekhar Toshkhani, a critic
of eminence in his
'Kashmiri Sahitya Ka Itihas'
has made a critical study of 'Sharma Ramayana'. He
rates 'Sharma Ramayan' as an important
contribution in Kashmiri compositions on Ramayan.
The 'Sharma Ramayana' has eight parts.
According to Sh. PN Madhup,
"Sharma Ramayan is based on collation of Valmiki
Adhyat and Ramcharit Manas. The author himself has
added new things (Moulik Udbhavana). It is an
original work and not a translation. Sharma
Ramayan is steeped in Bhakti
where the author accords precedence to devotion
over grammer. Pt. Nilakanth has displayed great
sense of imagery. The places where Sita does
(wailing) he has used nastaliq alphabets having
dots (Banukht) and where she is quiet he uses
letters without dots (be nukhta). It is unique in
Toshkhani opines that 'Sharma Ramayan' based on 8
sections bears strong influence of 'Ramcharit
Manas' e.g. in Kishkinda Kanda
(Gana Gamand Garjat Gana Ghora).
At the same time Dr. Toshkhani cautions, "It would
be wrong to say that 'Sharma Ramayan' is a
translation work of 'Manas',
because the author has not only introduced new
themes but has also tried to present the original
themes in a new perspective." Even at places where
the influence of
is overbearing Pt. Nilakanth Sharma has introduced
a new flavour which brings forth his own
interpretation of the subjects. In certain
situations the influence of Prakash Kurigam's
Ramayana is also visible in
the feelings have been expressed very well and the
use of metaphors is also superb. Dr. Toshkhani has
a word of strong praise for the author. He says,"
The battle situations come alive at many places in
The author has used excessive, flowery expression
in narrative. He has also taken great pains to
write in a very refined language. The language has
lot of Persian vocabulary. At places the whole
paragraphs are in Persian, while at other places
few lines of Hindi and Urdu are also visible.
3. Bramtur Khand:
It is translation of one chapterof Shivapurana
4. Sudha Sindu:
It is translation of Bhagvat in Kashmiri verse.
Since Pt. Nilakanth treated Bhagvat
(Nectar) he titled the translation as Sudha Sindu'
Bhagvan Gopi Nath would also say
of Gita it serves as Guru'.
The uniqueness of 'Sudha Sindu' is that it has
been written in Hartarana Bahar/metre i.e it can
be sung in any
The translation is done in a form of Kashmiri
which is intelligible to the common man and has
been presented in a manner which keeps the
interest of the reader sustained till the end. At
places necessary annotations have been added. Pt.
Nilakanth has profusely used Persian vocabulary in
5. Supana Vasvadatta:
It is a play written by
the legendary dramatist in Sanskrit literature.
Pt. Nilakanth had good felicity in prose as well
as poetry in Kashmiri language. This work of Bhasa
has been translated by him in verse as well as
prose. He has tried to be as close to the original
as possible. In the beginning of the play Bhasa
introduces all the characters. Pt. Nilakanth has
also followed this. There is one lady character
Pt. Nilakanth introduces her this way:
Yim Jaaya Hyadyook
Padma Vatir Cheya Dyathus
Rishi Muniyav Aaschar Yach
Kansih Ek Lob Lob Tar Tar
Hey Raghunandan Jaikar
This work was on display during a UNESCO
exhibition due to efforts of Prof. MD Hajini.
6. Bilva Mangal:
Bilva Mangal is a great story in which the main
character is a an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna.
The character who loved his wife too much used to
be always in her company. His wife once told him,
"Why are you after my flesh? What will come out of
it. Why don't you become a devotee of Lord
Krishna'. Bilva, the character removed his two
eyes (so that he could no more see the women) and
became great Bhakhta of Lord Krishna. Pt.
Nilakanth Sharma also became great Bhakta of Lord
Krishna after his marriage due to great attachment
to his wife. Bilva Mangal, a Kashmiri rendering of
the classic, is an outpouring of this affection
for his wife. In this work there is a scene of a
Charasi (Cannabis addict). The lines composed by
Pt. Nilakanth to describe this scene became craze
among the Cannabis addicts of Srinagar city. The
Charasa Chhah Yarkandi
Kyah Chhas Yivan Sugandi
Charasa Tamokha Loht Gasi Aasun
Kong Hiyu Kyah Liyudruy
Kong Khohta Liyudruya Chus
Bah Baraan Ruztav Meh Andi Andi
In style Pt. Nilakanth's language is proportionate
to and befitting the status of the character.
7. Bhakht Jaidev Charitara:
Bhakht Jaidev in full devotion used to break into
dance. The persons who would meet Jaideva would
also start dancing. Pt. Nilakanth has composed
this work to eulogise Jaidev.
Kashmir Sentinel, Panun Kashmir