A Tribute to Lalla Yogeshwari

Pride and Soul of Kashmir

by P.K. Kaul

Koshur Samachar

MAN's preoccupation with acquiring and adding to his material comforts has assumed such proportions that his belief in God and his native divinity are dismissed as primitive, irrational and unscientific sentiments. He marches through life deeply committed to his material well-being and as deeply indifferent to and ignorant of his spiritual needs. Through its continual contact with the phenomenal world the mind, thus, keeps our consciousness tethered to the physical plane, identifying the material world outside, instead of the Self within, as the main focus of attention. We identify ourselves as mortal bodies with great gusto and, unfortunately, ignore the immortal Life-Force, which brings this otherwise corpse of a body alive and gives it meaning, with extreme neglect. In spite of being the repositories of the priceless gem, we masquerade as beggars, unable to keep pace with our desires, associating ourselves with death rather than life and seeking tinsel and trash in the ever changing material world which is never likely to give us anything better than decay and death. This is typical of life in the current Kali age which is characterised by the decline in morality, prevalence of falsehood and upsurge of selfishness, greed and hatred.

Whilst going through the literature available on the life and times of Lalla Yogeshwari, one of the greatest apostles of light and love that Kashmir has known, who was equally revered by Hindus and Muslims alike, I was deeply touched by the profundity of the spiritual truths enshrined in her wise sayings urging mankind to recognise its divine heritage, to give up the frivolities of material existence and rise above hypocrisy and sectarian bigotry. Marvelling at the sweetness and sublimity of her timeless utterances suffused with great tenderness and love, and reflecting upon how she would have reacted to the quality of life today, I was inspired to pen down, following in her style, the following eight verses as a tribute to the memory of that great yogini:

        1. Yottaani pozz pazzay, tottaani aalam dazzay,
             Pazzarich pritchagaar kaansi no wannay;
            Apazuk vodbav gatchaan hani hannay,
            Pazzaruk moll na-ba chhui kuni kannay.

What a great pity that we wake up to the Truth only when it is too late! No one seems to be the least bit inclined or disposed towards acknowledging the Reality or seeking the Truth in time. As falsehood and untruth appear to flourish by and by, Reality and Truth, as surely, recede beyond reach and recognition.

         2. Assalichi ropayi no chhui kanh ti pritchaan,
             Khotchi ropayi ho bisyaar sood meilaan;
             Pozz chhonaan apuz yasla vopdaan,
             Buthi buthi dith-ti-no paayas pyavaan.

Recognising the Truth (immortality of Atma, the Life-Force) has gone out of fashion; the blind worship of untruth (identity with the body-mind complex) is seen to reap rich dividends. As the Truth gets devalued, falsehood gets up-valued exponentially. Even though it brings us nothing but grief and unhappiness yet, strangely, we seem unable or unwilling to alter our course towards self- destruction !

        3. Choora akh wuchhum watta paanchh meinaan,
            Khevaan chavaan ta taav taav karaan;
            Dalimati magazav watti watti pheiraan,
            Hairaan ta wairaan, saar na-kenh soaraan.

A thief I saw roaming the five streets. Mind which is nothing but a bundle of thoughts and desires is the thief referred to. It reaches out, makes contact with and enjoys the objects of the world, through the five senses of touch, taste, sight, sound and smell. It gathers unto itself the impressions from these objects forming veil upon veil of ignorance. Since the objects are not permanent, the impressions gathered therefrom cannot be lasting either. They are but passing shadows without any substance and are therefore referred to as ignorance. Having lost its marbles, this thief (mind) bis wallowing in sense pleasures, completely baffled and bewildered and utterly ruined with nothing to show for its troubles.

        4. Beni-boay maij-ta-mole yem thov na vannay,
            Assalich wath su-no vuchhi kuni kannay;
            Dara dara darbadar pheri kanni kannay,
            Sahaz kar vechaar nata kyah bannay.

He who does not heed the counsel of wisdom (from his well-wishers), he who does not respond to the prompting of his inner conscience and use his powers of discrimination, he will never find himself treading the path of Truth. From door to door and pillar to post (enjoying one desire after another, yet never satiating the hunger) will he find himself wandering aimlessly and unfulfilled. Contemplate this truth with due diligence, otherwise you might as well give up any notion of redemption.

        5. Hess ta hoash dallimit, annigatti wallimit,
            Bar mandinen ho choor chiiy farimit;
            Kaam kroodh loobh mooh chovaapaerfalirnit,
            Zinda paanas chhiy morada jaama gandimit.

You seem to have taken complete leave of your senses and allowed yourself to be enveloped by darkness (of ignorance). Under the cloak of this darkness with which you have chosen to wrap yourself, you have enabled the robbers to gain entry even in broad day-light! In consequence, desire, anger, greed, attachment, pride and jealousy, the six deadly foes, are enjoying the freedom of the house with absolute impunity and robbing you of your peace and tranquillity. Remember! The Life-Force (Atma) never dies, the body-mind complex, no better than a piece of meat in a butcher's shop, is never alive; what a pity then that you should parade the precious immortal Self as the lifeless mortal body!

        6. Tchu kus ta ba kus, hu kyah ta yi kyah,
            Apazui aalam rozavun kati kyah;
            Fungaryomut chhukh, taaras dikh kyah,
            Swopna-maay chain maali, gaj gah chhu kyah.

Who are you and who am I? What is that and what is this? Questions such as these only underline the apparent diversity and manifoldness of the manifested universe and ignore the all important underlying unity and oneness. Since the universe is changing, inconstant and transitory, how can it possibly fit the definition of the unchanging and eternal Truth? Ask yourself, what aspect of the universe composed of the five primordial elements will endure and last? Having squandered all powers of discrimination in subservience to the unruly mind, you have rendered yourself bankrupt and become destitute; what O what fee will you render to redeem yourself with? Wake up to the real isation before it is too late that what you behold through the five senses is nothing but a grand illusion, a dream, however well designed, well laid out and real it may appear to be.

        7. Azapa Gayatri manas laya annay,
            Mana choor dalli-bhramma teli hani hannay;
            Catta chali gaash yiya, pozz ada nunnay,
            Soo-Ham dui chalith akui AUM sunnay.

Let your life breath dance to the tune of He am (So-Hum) and I am He (Hum-Sah). Only taming it thus can the flippant mind be trained to gradually rid itself of its delusion, and only thereafter will the dark clouds of ignorance lift, letting in the light of wisdom and experiencing the effulgence of theAtma. And then, in time, will even the duality of He and I dissolve, yielding place to AUM, one Truth, One God.

        8. Woth zuva beh traav, praan mo raavraav,
            Somana maali huend mokhta mo chhakaraav;
            Bhakhti-bhaav praavith agyaan chalaraav,
           Aham gaal, Meuon traav, sahaz prakaash praav.

Wake up therefore and stir into action O slothful ignoramus! Squander not the precious gift of life, cast away not before the swine tne pearls of wisdom, waste not your breath and effort; seek out and secure the lamp of faith and devotion and with the help of its light dispel the darkness of ignorance. Get rid of the notion of 'I and Mine' and, through the dissolution of the thinking and the calculating mind in the supreme effulgence of the Atma, earn the right to proclaim the victory of Truth over falsehood, of Light over darkness, of Life over death. As a tribute to our beloved mother Lalla, it is my earnest hope that, in spite of the trying times we find ourselves in, we do not lose the true perspective on life, but live upto her ideals and make our sojourn on earth a worthwhile pilgrimage.

Kashmiri Overseas Association
Lal Ded
Kashmiri Saints