Trends in Kashmiri Poetry
Dr. Krishna Raina
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
is 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.
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.
poetry 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
my lamp of knowledge afar,
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 expression.
by slow breath from the throat of me.
my bright soul to my self revealed.
I abroad my inner light.
with darkness around me sealed,
I garner truth and hold Him tight."
by Sir Richard Temple)
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
considered rosary as a snake and favoured true
cannot be made into planks, beams or into
who cut and telled it,
burn it into ashes.
not go to Sheikh and Priest and Mullah;
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
not feed the cattle or Arkh or leaves;
not shut thyself up in mosques or forests;
thine own body with breath controlled in
communion with God.
is the sign of the selfless;
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:
down at the door of the selfless.
selfless are of the highest authority,
kings of the time and the wearers of the crest
dashed down into the nether regions and brought
thc vital breath up;
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.
got its clue out of earth and stones;
my kundalini woke up with nada;
drank wine by the mouth,
got the vital breath gathered it within myself;
Mirzakak 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
and 'Praan' are both Brahma. He creates, nourishes
and then becomes Rudra :
Chhus zagi andar,
naav voochhi zi andar
kar Ram Ramay.
Brahma laagith paida chhum su karan
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.
Vishnu laagith rachan dam ba dam Ram Ram
Rodur laagith soruy chhum galan
hastoneste pran bood nabood dam ba da Ramay
is real man, Om is the light. It is past, present
and future. It is the God of Gods:
gav aadi purush
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
is the basic idea of a mystic who believes in
oneness. The poet wants to search 'Him' in another
listens, sitting by.
all have a living faith in God-
Master Ji God is Love and he wants to understand
the world through the lover's eye. In 'Hymn to
Love' poem, he describes:
loving Father, Lord of all-
ghosts, given and spirits dark
no sway over men's mind.
Remover of world's darkness.
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
art the source of light and withal my own true
me see thee shine in all these modes
me into the philosophy of atonement.
from me this duality.
the Lord had not made Death,
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.
the hell of life were to continue,
would not deserve our thanks
should overwhelm it with complaint.
of Kashmiri Culture, issued by Parmanand
Research Centre, Srinagar]