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VITASTA ANNUAL NUMBER: Volume XXXIV (2000-2001)

An Outline of the Growth of Various Forms in Kashmiri Literature

Prof. Mohiud-Din Hajini


Epics

The classical Mahabharata was probably rendered into Kashmiri during Sultan Zain-ul-Aabideen's time; the mutilated manuscript in the Research Department is perhaps its only extant copy. Its translator is nowhere traceable in the text, and its diction is mostly outdated. Bhatavtar's reported translation of some parts or the whole of Firdousi's Shahnama during this period has never been located anywhere. After the downfall of the Shahmiri and the Chak dynasties, literary interest in epics continued declining till Prakash Kaul of Kurigam retold Ramayana in Kashmiri probably in 1847 A.D. There were other abridged versions of the Ramayana, the latest one being Nila Kanth Sharma's in the present century. From amongst the 19th century epic poets Moulvi Siddiqullah of Hajin gave us the first version of Nizami's famous Sikendernama, Hamidullah of Anantnag is the only Kashmiri poet in the 19th century who wrote his Akbarnama (Afghan wars with the British) in Persian, and Wahhab Parey of Hajin, the greatest epic-poet in Kashmiri, rendered it into Kashmiri when he was a budding poet.

Later Wahhab retold Fridousi's entire Shahnama in 23491 verses, including Khilafatnama (i.e. Muslim conquest of Iran) in 6666 verses. It was on Wahhab's initiative that Amir Shah of Kreri brought from the voluminous Kashmiri version of Khajoo's Saamnama. Lachman Kaul Bulbul's abbreviated Saamnama (1874 A.D.), is purer in diction though not superior in content to Amir Shah's. Amir Shah's another noteworthy epic is Khawarnama on the military exploits of the fourth Orthodox Caliph, Hazrat-e-Ali. He was followed by Muzaffar Shah who wrote Jang-e-Mukhtar depicting the horrible vengeance wrought on Ummayed troops, who were reported to have killed Imam-e-Hussain, the martyr. All these classical renderings from Persian, stand as milestones in our epic literature, providing a pattern for a host of junior poets in epics; hence we see as for instance, Ali Shah of Haril (d 1932) writing dozens of Razmia (Combat) works, mostly covering early Muslim History, till Gh Mohammad, Hanafi (d 1937) retold the Qissa-e-Amir Hamza of Allama Faizi into persianized Kashmiri. By this time, almost all Arab battles fought and won during the time of the Prophet Mohammad (Peace be upon him) and his orthodox Caliphs, were rendered into Kashmiri verse, mostly dominated by Persian not only in the style and metre, but in phrases, epithets, conceit and hyperbole. It is not a strange experience in the 19th Century and early 20th Century, that sometimes small combat-epics are woven round a casual reference in Muslim History and tactfully-developed to a glorious climax. With the advancements in education, poets seem to have completely disengaged themselves from epic literature and that is why no epic in the Mathnavi form appeared since1937.

Romanticism

With rare exceptions where the poet follows the text strictly in accordance with the Muslim History, the majority of epics are romantic in the sense that each one "embodies the life and adventure of some hero of Chivalry, or belongs in matter and form, to the age of knighthood." Similarly each one has a tinge of fictitious narrative of which the scene and incidents are very remote from the ordinary life, and often woven into wanton exaggeration and picturesque falsehood, "the recognised ingredients of romance both in epics and in aesthetic poetry."

The influence of Persian often creeps in intensely in subjective moods that sublimate into romantic flashes first under a veiled and allegorical sensuousness and later into sublime ejaculations. Habba Khatoon, Arnimal, Rasool Mir and Mahjoor respectively stand as milestones in the romantic poetry of 16th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. To them every thing in the romantic environment of Kashmir "particularly flower, meadow glen, glade and even a thistle appeared both bewildering and soothing" and above all "in rapturous communication with the poets sub-conscious". This tradition was carried further by Wahhab in Ghazals and by Haquani, Haji Miskeen, Hairat and Lassa Khan in their Bazmia (love), mathnavi, but the field of the first three was vast enough to be limited to pure romanticism. In fact, the prolific legacy of Mathnavi literature during the19th and early 20th century is potential enough to supply sublime models of style and theme for a long time to come. Gulrez, Gulnoor Rana-Zega, Sherin Khusroo, Wamiq Azra, Gul-e-Bakawuli, Mumtaz-e Benazir, even though only Kashmiri versions of foreign romantic works, do come upto the standard regarding diction, plot, and pitch in the style. As for romantic songs and ghazals during the last and the present centuries, it will require a complete discourse to cover the topic. Even though no noteworthy romance in Mathnavi form has appeared after 1947, Rahi, Kamil, Nawaz, Rasa Javidani, Firaq and Azim have enriched Kashmiri with the finest prices in pure romanticism, in a number of non-mathnavi poems. This group has unconsciously given a lead to the budding poets in modern romanticism i.e. Nazir, Rasheed Nazki, Kanwal, Raaz, Manzoor Hashami, Saqi and Ahsan.

Lyrics

Lyrics originally meant something pertaining to lyre i.e. to be sung : later it came to mean a poem divided into stanzas or strophes, and directly expressing the poet's thoughts or sentiments. In Kashmiri we have "Lol-lyrics" a phrase coined by Prof. J. L. Kaul, Lol implying an untranslatable complex of love, longing and tugging at the heart. "This form has a long history and tradition in Kashmir. It is rarely more than six to ten lines, including the refrain, and often converges on a single mood." Habba Khatoon initiated its form "Watsun' in which each three line stanza is followed by a refrain (Voje). In due course all songs such as Chakri, Rov and Lila songs adopted "Watsun" as its form. We owe its preservation to the professional singers of the Sufiana Kalam (mystic poetry).

It is a thing of music and with its end-rhymes, medial rhymes and ever-recurring refrains, its alliterations, and assonance that come naturally as the very stuff of the language, which has high proportion of vowels and semi-vowels to its consonants and in which aspirates, gutterals and consonants are rare. Its appeal is directly to the emotions of the listener.

In classical lyrics, such as those of Habba Khatoon and Arnimal "there were few allusions and fewer ornaments; they had directness, simplicity, and a tender piognancy of feeling; whereas the latter imitations are more and more sophisticated. The earlier lyrics are "charged with the intensity of feeling that often concentrates on the yearning for the beloved "that may resemble any human being from Yusuf Shah Chak (the exiled and dethroned lover of Habba Khatoon) the Biblical Yusuf (Joseph) the ideal of beauty in all oriental lore. As for the latter period i.e. from Mahmood Gami onwards, our lyrics clearly fall into two groups : Rasool Miri Maqbool Shah, Krishan Razdan (1925) and Mahjoor sing of Mahammadan type of beloved; Nema Sahib (1880), Swach Kral and Aziz Darvish 1890 wrote lyrics to soothe the drooping soul of the complex ridden Kashmiri who always pines for the exhilirating rapture in which he would not have to sing every now and then, with Mahjoor "winter will pass off, and ice will melt away, yes the spring shall come again."

Prof. J. K. Kaul's "Lol Lyrics", published in 1945 in Roman script of Kashmiri with an accurate English translation, is the pioneer attempt in compilation of scattered lore of our lyrics.

Folk Lore

Long after A. Stein and J.H. Knowle first introduced some salients facts of Kashmiri folklore particularly folk-tales for the English-knowing world. The local authors, and subsequently the J & K Cultural Academy felt that this branch of literature also is worth exploration of literary books like Bazum-e-Adab and Progressive Writers Congress also provided the spoken work, and within 20 years the elementary attempts at discovering the folklore revealed a vast field to researchers. Anthologies of folk-tales such as Bhrachy-Kathu (Publication poems Government of India) are the first successful compilation in Kashmiri prose. The versified part can now be classified as under :

(a) These include "nursery rhymes, cradle songs, harvest song and even the boatman's chanty, riddles or even meaningless snatches" (J.L. Kaul). This genre varies in content and meaning both with the growth of age and change in situation. It is only after 1947 that this otherwise anonymous stock, is classified as a distinct type, and we now have for example, Childrens' Books which for instance include :

Poshamal by S. N. Sadhu, Mukahtahar by Naji Manawar and Rahbar, Baalmarayo by S. N. Haleem, and Don Quirti by Prof. Sadhu. For the grown-up, we have :

(b) Folk Songs : It is usually intensely subjective; its forms are varied and simple, mostly a four line stanza with a refrain intended to suit numerous situations in life e.g. to supplicate spiritual patronage for the baby cheer up a naughty youngster, buck up a bored artisan, or lighten the burden of a housewife, a weader or a coolie dragging on a loaded cart. (Kaul). The five commendable volumes of Kashmiri Luka Bath (1965-71) one compiled jointly by Naji and Saqi and the other four by Saqi alone, comprise the best specimen of almost all offshoots of folksongs.

(c) Vanvun : and Rov : The two forms are perhaps the oldest art forms of the folk song exclusively "reserved for the fair-sex, vanavun is a "must" for all ceremonies, such as Id, Shivratri, and the month of Ramzan etc. Vanavun is always lighter in the tune, varied in form, and centred round a particular occasion as for instance, heralding a prosperous future for the baby : While Rov has its own peculiarities. Prof. Kaul has graphically depicted it when he wrote the country lasses and the middle aged dames come out (always after the sunset), divide themselves into two interlocked rows their arms over one another's shoulders and begin the swing like movement of the whole file, one row advancing and other receding both keeping tunes to the dance tune of the Rov. These songs have redieved the tedinus of the life of the illiterate women-folk, who, finds in them a sincere echo of their emotions.

In Rov alone the fair sex get a free chance to ejaculate their inner urges and suppressed aspirations. Gh. Mustafa Manzoor (b. 1906) and Gh. Hassan Driver (b. 1907) have added a lot to this otherwise anonymous branch of the folksong.

(d) Daastan Shayeri : A number of long classical tales are inter-woven in songs appropriate to the various situations in the plot ; these songs form a distinct genre called Dasstan Shayeri. Some of the tales are purely native such as Akanandun, Jehaar and Habba Khatoon, while some others are of foreign origin e.g. Laila Majnoon, Haroon Rashed Gul-e-Sonaber etc. Except Kabir Mir's Zen-e-Mazoor (Wood cutter) all the pieces are anonymous, and at the mercy of the professional recited (Kathagor), whose love for the old and even obsolete idiom and vocables can well be illustrated by one example of Mohammad Khaar (d. 1968) of Shahgund, who could at the age of about ninety recite exactly and faithfully 150 verses of Bhadur Ganais' Aknandun transmitted traditonallly more than 300 years back. In view of the diminishing number of narrations, there is every apprehension of the loss of major portion of this "Poetry", unless arrangements are made for its proper compilation.

Devotional Poetry

Lal Ded and Shiekh Noor-Ud-Din Noorani are the first two Kashmiri poets whose major part of the non-mystic poetry falls under this form; of course, with one difference; Lal Ded basing her poetry on Shaivite faith, and Nund Rishi on Islamic ethics. Both abhored hypocrisy and ritualism in various creeds and exhorted listeners to seek purity of mind and good conduct irrespective of their creed. Numerous saints and disciples in the Rishi order and Shaivite cult carried the message on with the result that almost every poet deemed his duty to bequeath to posterity some devotional songs in various art forms. In the entire gamut, we notice one major difference : non-muslim poets using over-sanskritized and muslims over-persianized diction of style. From Sahab Kaul (d. 1676) to Krishna Razdan, (d. 1925) on the one hand and from Habibullah Nowshahri (1617) to Haqqunani (d. 1928) on the other hand, a long chain of poets have followed this trade both in the language used, and in the religious objectives propounded. There are some exceptions to the rule with regard to the theme. Muslim poets writing in the style of Shastra e.g. Rahiem Sahib, Shamus Faqiur or Ahed Zargar, and Hindu poets singing eulogues to the Holy Prophet e.g. Sat Ram (d. 1934) or Anand Kaul (d. 1939) but these are not too many, though their attempts do 'indicate the spirit of reverance for faiths other than ones own.'

Devotional poetry has, branched in to numerous fields; hymns (Munajaat) to God, eulogues (Naat) to the Prophet, panegyrics (Manquabat) to saints, in the Muslim group; and 'lilas', 'Bhajans' and reformative poems in the Hindu group. The sources of the muse also vary correspondingly : Muslims derive their material from the Holy Quran, Traditions of the Prophet, Islamic History, Theology and Mysticism : Hindus basing their verse on mythology, Bhagvat Geeta, Puranas, Krishana Bhakti, Rama Bhakti and Trika Shastra.

Taayis (d. 1914), Sana-ullah Kreri (d. 1875), Nadim (d. 1911), Jaid (d. 1908) have utilized almost their entire crudation to Naat and Munajaat; Lakhman Joo Bullbul (d. 1884) and Krishna Razdan (1925) wrote 'lilas', 'Bhajans and reformation poems. Several others who have contributed a lot to other forms, have also excelled in their religious verse e.g. Molvi Siddiquallah of Hajin (1900), Hassan Shah (1898) and Haquani (1928), Prakash Ram (1898). Paramanand (d. 1879) and Nil Kanth Sharma (d. 1969) come under this class. With this solid and mature background, the traditions of this theme continue more systematically and vigorously amongst the contemporary poets. Shamus-ud-Din Ghamgeen (b. 1910), Fazil (b. 1914), Tanha (d. 1968) in general and Ghulam Mushtaq (b. 1934) and Arshique, Zakhmi have produced excellant pieces in religious verse, during the past two decades.

Mysticism

Down from Sati Kanth (13th century), to the contemporary Ahad Zargar (b. 1908) we have a trailing galaxy of mystic poets in every century, some like Lal Ded (d. 1400), Nund Rishi (d. 1438), Paramanand (d. 1879), Shamus Faquer (d. 1905) and Zinda Kaul (d. 1965) pioneers both in style and message, while a good number of them, though not all sublime in verse, yet mature enough in mystical vision e.g. Rahiem Sahib (d. 1869), Swach Kral (d. 1891), and Rahman Dar (d. 1900). It is true that in almost every period, most of our mystics' such as Kh. Habibullah Nowshawri (d. 1617), Roupa Bhawani (d. 1721), Aziz Darvish Shah Gafoor (d. 18th century) and Ahmad Batwari (d. 1920) could rarely rise alone the pantheistic school of mysticism, and some others were exclusively concerned with their "trance ejaculations than with poetic canons e.g Momin Shah (early 19th century), Wahhab Khaar (d. 1912) and Asad Parey (d. 1916), it will nevertheless be too bold, even audacious, to evaluate their contribution to mystic verse with a para or so. The ever accummaling legacy in mystic poetry is so fecundite in content and so diversifying in form as to attract any critic to pick up numerous noteworthy traits, wise saws and pithy sayings, didactic quidities and intuitive flashes even ,in the otherwise obscure mystics all converging on 'discovery of the innerself'.

Before the advent of Islam, Kashmir was the nerve-centre of Trika and Budhistic philosophies enunciating some beliefs and practices objectively akin to the Iranic mysticism of Muslim Saints; this affinity in course of time, flowered into an harmonious synthesis wherein the Muslim Muraquaba appeared identifiable with the Budhistic dhayana and Brahamic Samadhi in the mystic discipline. Far from Rahim Sahib to Master Zinda Kaul (d 1985) in the higher rank and from Mirza Kak to Samad Mir in the normal rank of mystics, we can glean numerous verses identical in appeal and conviction though widely varying in form and direction But this cultural link, though noteworthy cannot be stretched too far to identify the two major branches provided by the indigenous and Iranian thought. Thus the Krishna Bhakti school represented by Paramanand and Ram Bhakti school represented by Nila Kanth Sharma first round the distinct Hindu concepts, while the Kubravi, Subhrawadi, Rishi, Chisti and Quadri schools of Muslim mystics with very rare exceptions, trace back their genesis to Islamic tenets alone. Hence the difference in their final objective in the process of self realization, "Unlike the Nirvana" says R. A. Nicholson which is merely the cessation of individuality, "fana", the passing away of the Sufi from his phenomenal existence involves "baqa", the continuance of his real existence. (The mystic of Islam 1911 11 page 149). One aspect of all mystic poets, without distinction of creed is patent : all preached catho-licism, renunciation of things worldly, tolerance, unitive state of the soul. But the keynotes to mysticism i.e. light, knowledge and love, or the ultima Thule of the 'heaven ward journey' i.e. absorbing into one Real Being all these are so distinctly 'comprehended' and presented that with no stretch of imagination can any one identify, say, the Ras Lila concept of Paramanand with the Hal-al-Haque of Haqquani. The Muslim Mystics, like their Iranian predecessors in faith distinguish these organs of the spiritual comunications, the heart (Qab) which knows God, the spirit (Ruh) which loves Him, and the inner ground of the soul (Sirr) which contemplates Him (Nicholson). In this self realizing process, we come across the 'acquired stages' (Maquamaat), and directly-bestowed states (Ahwal), so repeatedly that the subject has now assumed a rigidly coventional scope, wherein a good number of them have largely, borrowed from persian not only ideas but the epithets and phrasses often state enough and also the imagery, symbolism and conceit (Kaul). Such a blind mimicry has, no doubt reduced most of the thought-content in Kashmiri mystic poetry sentimental platituduous, morbidly gloomy and obscure (Kaul)

M. A. Kamil's 3-Volume Kashmir Suti Shavic is the first anthology of our mystic poetry providing representative prices of almost all the eminent mystic poets, and touching major issues on the subject in its exhaustive Introduction.

Humour

Even though Kashmiri literature is deficient in humour when compared to other languages, its scattered stock is not hallow in content nor immature in spirit. Besides Ladishah and Banda Jashan (the former entertaining the country-folk, and the latter providing with in open air theatrical performance), a Kashmiri is justly noted for his ready wit, retort, repartee, pun and play upon words come naturally to his tongue. (J.L. Kaul). Maqbool Shah had given a start to caricaturing in verse, a farmer and a Pir, but latter poets added a lot to humorous verse. Pahelnama, Muqdam-nama, Malnama etc. Madha Deek of Srinagar in quatrains, and Wahhab Sahib of Sangrama in long poems spouted forth venomous lampoon streaked with humour. Abdul Ahad Nadim in his casual moods and Khezir Magrebi (b. 1921), Sayer (b. 1915) and Parwaz (b. 1943) as a born caricaturists have verified ridiculous situations in most telling colloquial idiom. G. R. Santosh has begun the game in prose.

The first weekly paper Guash (1940) and later G.N. Khayal's Weekly 'Wattan, (1964) had reserved a column for humour, while Noor Mohammad Book-Seller published the Asunta-Gindun, and Dilsoze immature but humorous skits before the fifties.

It was left for M. A. Kamil to give us the most remarkable compilation in Kashmiri humour in his "Asun Traye", published by the Cultural Academy in 1967. As for the comic characterization or radio features, Pushkar Bhan stands unparalleled where he 'utilizes humour and wit with utmost dexterity and touching verse'. (Kaul)

Shahr Ashobe

(c) When a Kashmiri took to new fashions that misplaced him in society, or to new values repugnant to the common belief, the poet came with his satire in Shahr Ashobe. This genre includes satire on corrupt officials, bamboozling priests, or even on natural calamities. It proved to be a literary, weapon and its object had to feel the sting for a pretty long time. Mehada Deek, Nazim, Nadim and Wahhab have left behind some serious pieces centring round either humorous caricaturing or stinging lampoon.

Ladishah

It is the typical name for a folk ballad pungently comic-cum-satiric in text, and historically speaking a sullen reaction of a suppressed nation against tyranny, vis major or deliberate 'mismanagement' of mundane affairs. It is distinguished for its 'homely metaphor, and picturesque potrayal of ridiculous situation, in which a common Kashmiri finds himself in an autocratic regime'; and it has proved to be a source of mental consolation for the enslaved folk during the centuries past. Major portion of this form is lost in verbal transmission by the illiterate bards, nevertheless we still possess some very fine pieces in the Ladishah. Hakeem Habibullah (1905), Munawer Shah of Kulsoo (d. 1925), and Lala Lakhman (d. 1947), are recognized masters of this form, while Noor Mohammad Roshan and Mohd. Ali Kanwal were their contemporary prototypes, who have added both vigour and colour to this form of the folk ballad.

Elegy (Marthiya or Marsiya)

Its origin is inferred in the Chak period (1561-86), and it continued expanding and developing till late in the 19th century. But it remained as if 'reserved with a group of professional reciters' called 'Zakirs' who made business of it every year, particularly during the first ten days of Moharrum, the first Hijri month of the year, Zakirs stuck to the rule not to let the elegies be published, for their services would then be dispensed with. That is why we possess only two collections of the Marsiya, one printed in Lahore before 1920, and the other (OSH-ta-Aab) in Srinagar in 1955, though there are innumerable collections with the miserly Zakirs. Elegy in Kashmiri is written in long show solemnity, appropriate to the tragedy at Karbula. These display learning and rich allusiveness in their "bombastic or sentimental diction".

Although the language is often over-persianized yet some of th classical ones retain several terms that have now been either replaced or forgotten. Elegy in Mathnavi form can be read in Syed Amir Shah's Jang-e-Iman-e-Hanafiya A. G. Ashique's and Ghulam Hassan Darsis two mathnavi's under the same name i.e. Rouzat-u-Shuhda. A good number of classical Elegy writers preferred to die unsung e.g Khwaja Husain Mir Kh. Dayim, Hakeem Abdullah, Kh. Baquir, Mirza Abul Qasim, Kh. Safdar and Ahmad Ali Ghazi. Elegy in the conventional form gained full momention in the 19th century when Hakeem Azeem (d. 1852), Mohud Yusuf (d. 1885), Mustafa Ali (d. 1896), Munshi Mohd Ali (d. 1902) and Hakeem Habibullah (d. 1905) added new dimensions to this form. From amongst the 20th century poets who have made a name we find Hakeem Hussain Ali (d. 1916), Hakeem Gh. Rasool (d. 1930), Munshi Mohd. Abbas (d. 1945) and the contemporary Munshi Mohd. Sadique all enriching the form with new-ideas studded on the classical theme.

Quatrains (Rubaiyat) and Couplets (Qitaat)

Before Mirza Arif (b. 1910) only a few poets of eminent rank like Wahhab wrote quatrains, while the majority abstained from experimenting it because of its rigid rules of prosody. Mirza Arif made it his forte, and, in effect, gave a lead to the younger generation, though, it must be admitted, major portion of modern tetrastich verse does not follow the classical 'Hazj' metre. Even Mirza Arif himself and Khayyal, while translating the celebrated Umar Khayyam could not follow the original in the metre. Thus the bulk of modern "four line" stanzas can technically be classed as Du-Baitee" or couplets akin to quatrain only in the rhyme-scheme of 'a a b a'.

Following Mirza Arif, G.R. Azad and Nawaz have added a lot to both the forms. G.R. Nazki's Namroodnama and G R. Azad's Kahkashan are the two noteworthy works hitherto published in Qitaat and Rubaiyat both revealing precision, as regards adroit phrase and economy of style are concerned.

Free Verse and Blank Verse

There are some remnants of both of these forms in our elegy, but the polish and vigour injected in these by the progressive writers after 1947, unfold altogether a new turn particularly towards a modernity in outlook, theme and diction. Despite the tradition, its opposition, it has become a fashin with the majority of younger poets to start with the free verseo free from all cannons of prosody but the Blank Verse is not as easy a job for even the mature group. Nadim, Rahi and Kamil are the masters of technique in both of the forms, while Firaq, Santosh and Roshan have also the right to be included in the harbingers of the new trend.

As for the younger group, it is very difficult to make a choice from the host whose merit in other forms has already been acknowledged. Sajood Sailani, Gauhar, M. Nirash, Ajir Betaab, Massarar, Shahid Badgami, Farhad, Saadi, Majboor Rusul Pampur, Manjoor, Hashmi, Tanha Nizami and Reh, appear promising enough in free verse, and to an appreciable extent, in Blank Verse as well. Unfortunately all their works have remained uncompiled till now.

Prose

Prose writing has systematically begun from 1917 onwards when most of the intellectuals and men of letters collectively felt an urge to enrich Kashmiri not only in pure literature alone but in work on technical subjects as well. Various organizations sprang up to co-ordinate the literary output (in prose and poetry) in their 'official' Journals; but the Journals proved too limited for literary works of note. Nor was there any regular agency prepared to undertake publication of books without, as was the tradition till then, grabbing the copyright. With this environment, 'not even a quarter of what has been written has been printed, and even a considerable part of what has been printed, is to be gleaned from pages of magazines, now defunct.' (Prof. Kaul). Hence numerous notable works e.g. Pants Auyeen (Constitution) by Prof. Fazili; Aadam Mor (Anatomy) by Mirza Arif; Ilm-e-Mayushat (Sociology) by Prof. Soze, still await publication.

It was only in the late fiftees that the Cultural Academy (Kashmir), and to some extent, the Sahitya Akademi (Delhi) came to the rescue of local writers. The individuals maiden attempts in prose-during the past two decades proved outstanding enough to win over the Sahitya Akademi and Cultural Academy Awards.

Sahitya Akademi Award Winning Works

1. Sat-Sangar (Short Stories),

 by Akhtar Mohy-ud-Din 1958.

2. Kashre Zabane-hund Illaquawad Phaira (Linguistics).

 by A.K. Tak 1968.

3. Maqualaat (Critical Discourses),

 by Prof. Mohy-ud-Din Hajini 1970.

Cultural Academy Award Winning Works

(a) Ist Prize :

1. Kashre Nasrech Kitab (A Book of Prose in Kashmiri)

 by Prof. Mohy-ud-Din Hajini 1962.

2. Kashre, Adabech Tawarikh (A History of Kashmiri Literature), by A.K. Rahbar 1966.

3. Kashre-Zaban-Hund-Illaquawad Phaira by A.K. Tak 1969.

(b) 2nd Prize Winning Works :

1. Baal Marayo (Short Stories), Bansi Nirdosh 1962.

2. Losmete Tarkh (Short Stories), Sofi Gh. Mohd. 1964.

3. Mujrim (Novel) Gh. Nabi Gauhar 1970.

4. Sayasatech Paar-e-Zan (Political Science) Prof. Fazali 1970.

It appears surprising how within so short a period, Kashmiri prose branched off to dry fields with full exuberance e.g. Sargam (3 Vol :) on musical notations, by S Abdul Aziz, Bagh-e-Arooz on Prosody by Khezit Magerebi. On the one hand, the basic books on physical sciences for laymen, such as Wutsa Prang by Prof. Sadhu . Tajruba by A.M. Wani and Scienasok Rang by Publications Division (Delhi) gave a fillip to the budding writers in the technical subjects, while on the other hand, Travelogues like Cheenok Safar by Mirza Arif, and Slavamir by Akhtar Mohy-ud-Din opened up new vistas for widening the scope of prose. Besides, direct translations of Classical works in foreign languages added not only much needed variety but depth and richness to the 30 years old prose. Amongst these may be included Gorky's Mother (Russian) by A.M. Lone, Rahnuma's Pyamber (Persian) by Dr. S. Ahmad, Aristotle's Poetics (Greek) by G.N. Khayal, Vethe-Hend-e-Mallar (Sanskrit) by Prof. Sadhu, Alif Laila (Arabic) by Prof. Mohy-ud-Din Hajini ....

As for pure prose, short story has become the forte about 50 per cent writers, though the works of even some of the mature authors such as Noor Shah, Deepak Kaul, Gh. Nabi Baba, Prof. H. K. Kaul, G.R. Santosh and H. Bharati are yet scattered in various journals only. Kathe-Manza Kath by Amin Kamil, Also by Taj Begum, Adam Chhu Yethy Badnaam by Bansi Nirdosh, Zitni-Zool by Dr. Raina have been hailed by critics as successful experiments in this form of course, besides, the award-winning creative works, referred to above. Even collections like Prof. Sadhu's Qisas or A.K. Rahbar's Tabarukh are not below the standard.

Novel

It must be frankly admitted that Kashmiri is deficient in novels; only two novels, Akhtar's Dod Dag (1963) and Gauhar's Mujrim (1969) can be adjudged as coming upto the mark. The notable translation of foreign novels include George Gorky's 'Mother' by A.M. Lone, Prem Chand's Godan by Roshan and Tagore's Chokher Bali by Prof. P.N. Pushp.

Like novels, the novelette also is in its infancy-stage. Journals, Soun Adab, Sheeraza, Koshur Adab and Nayb have recently begun drawing writers towards this branch of prose, though, in effect they appear better in essays than in the novelette.

Ctiticism

Till 1947, the famous poet Abdul Ahad Azad alone had the cheek to criticize a poet in a dispassionate manner and from amongst the Journals the Pratap Magazine alone would come to publish critical comments on celebrated poets even of Mahjoor's stature; otherwise the general tradition of criticism was confined to either hurling a satire upon or parodying a verse of a poet, and then declaring a ceasefire between the two men of letters. Within the first decade we saw Professors Kaul, Hajini, Pushp, Rahi and Firaq, and the celebrated poets Nadim, Kamil and Arif, chiseling the taste and norms of literature in prose and poetry. Radio Kashmir also contributed a lot in its regular programmes on poets, prose-writers and their works. Once the rationale was provided in criticism, literary and cultural organizations at District and Tehsil levels began evaluating the critical canons in the East and in the West both of classical and modern ages. Almost all Collegs and Higher Secondary Schools have now assigned a permanent section in their magazines for criticism of Kashmiri literature. M. Y. Teng, Faroque Nazki, S. N. Zutshi, Saqi, Lone, Rahbar and Khayal have also aded a good deal to criticism during the two decades. Prof. Hajini's 'Kashre Nasrech Kitab' and 'Maqualaat' contain some articles on this subject, while Prof. Kaul's 'Studies in Kashmiri' is the finest work on the literary criticism written in English till now.

Drama

Drama in Kashmiri had touched a high pitch in Sultan Zain-ul-Aabideen's time (1420-70) when Bhodah Bhatta wrote his Zaina Villasa, and when the stage-plays enjoyed royal patronage. The contemporary historian, Srivara, reports in his Zaintarangni that an actress singer could depict 49 emotions in her dancing as harmoniously as the musical cadence demanded. Sultan Hassan Shah surpassed all his predecessors in synthesizing the local fine arts with those of the Iranian and Indian prototypes. Drama, as a distinct branch of literature, though mostly preserved in verbal transmission, continued flourishing till the fall of Chak dynasty in 1586 A.D. With the advent of foreign rule, decline in all forms of Kashmiri literature was quite an expected misfortune; consequently the folk taste had to survive through the professional bards, who in their turn reduced the stage drama to a clumsy performance in the open field. The Banda-Jashan became 'a sort of open air village folk-theatre managed by companies of professional players or ministerels depicting social ills and bureaucratic-tyranny, rarely alluding to some historic theme such as in Darza Pather. This degraded practice continued till the present century, when Nand Lal Kaul wrote Satech Kahawat (The Touch Stone of Truth) and three other less known plays Ramun Raj (Regin of Shri Ram), Paz Pativarata (Savitri) and Dayun Lol (Devotee's Affection). These were over-Sanskritised in diction. After him, Tara Chand Trissal (d. 1948) wrote Premech Kahawat (1938) and three minor plays Akanandan, Ramavtar, and Pazech Kahawat with the same mental background as that of Nand Lal but in simpler diction till Mohi-ud-Din Hajini, while a college student wrote in 1939 his 'Grees-Sund Ghara' (The Peasants Home), the first three act play in Kashmiri on Shakespearean pattern, depicting faithfully the social norms and exploiting agents in Kashmiri. It is probably the only work in prose selling in 3 editions within 5 years. In 1947 Kashmir became the war area, and the in the West both of classical and modern ages. Almost all Collegs and Higher Secondary Schools have now assigned a permanent section in their magazines for criticism of Kashmiri literature. M. Y. Teng, Faroque Nazki, S. N. Zutshi, Saqi, Lone, Rahbar and Khayal have also aded a good deal to criticism during the two decades. Prof. Hajini's 'Kashre Nasrech Kitab' and 'Maqualaat' contain some articles on this subject, while Prof. Kaul's 'Studies in Kashmiri' is the finest work on the literary criticism written in English till now.

Drama

Drama in Kashmiri had touched a high pitch in Sultan Zain-ul-Aabideen's time (1420-70) when Bhodah Bhatta wrote his Zaina Villasa, and when the stage-plays enjoyed royal patronage. The contemporary historian, Srivara, reports in his Zaintarangni that an actress singer could depict 49 emotions in her dancing as harmoniously as the musical cadence demanded. Sultan Hassan Shah surpassed all his predecessors in synthesizing the local fine arts with those of the Iranian and Indian prototypes. Drama, as a distinct branch of literature, though mostly preserved in verbal transmission, continued flourishing till the fall of Chak dynasty in 1586 A.D. With the advent of foreign rule, decline in all forms of Kashmiri literature was quite an expected misfortune; consequently the folk taste had to survive through the professional bards, who in their turn reduced the stage drama to a clumsy performance in the open field. The Banda-Jashan became 'a sort of open air village folk-theatre managed by companies of professional players or ministerels depicting social ills and bureaucratic-tyranny, rarely alluding to some historic theme such as in Darza Pather. This degraded practice continued till the present century, when Nand Lal Kaul wrote Satech Kahawat (The Touch Stone of Truth) and three other less known plays Ramun Raj (Regin of Shri Ram), Paz Pativarata (Savitri) and Dayun Lol (Devotee's Affection). These were over-Sanskritised in diction. After him, Tara Chand Trissal (d. 1948) wrote Premech Kahawat (1938) and three minor plays Akanandan, Ramavtar, and Pazech Kahawat with the same mental background as that of Nand Lal but in simpler diction till Mohi-ud-Din Hajini, while a college student wrote in 1939 his 'Grees-Sund Ghara' (The Peasants Home), the first three act play in Kashmiri on Shakespearean pattern, depicting faithfully the social norms and exploiting agents in Kashmiri. It is probably the only work in prose selling in 3 editions within 5 years. In 1947 Kashmir became the war area, and the State was actually partitioned. Kashmiri writers also fell into two camps separated by the detested cease-fire line. The Radio Dramas in the two regions of Kashmir were first converged on the exigencies of propaganda rather than on canons of art. 'Kune Kath' type of plays in Kashmiri fall under this category. However, the young playwrights asserted themselves and began writing seriously. Of the 350 old drama features, reported by J. L. Kaul to have been broadcast by the Radio Kashmir till the end of 1967; a sizeable number merit publication, but have not been published. Heaven knows why? Similarly the works of playwrights living beyond the ceasefire line (Thus Banhali, Naaz Kulgami, Ahmad Shamim, Masood Tabassum etc. are not available in the market for assessment; hence it will be too just to evaluate them in absence, or to adjudge the worth of such other playwrights on the basis of skits, features, Radio Plays broadcasted now and then on either side of the ceasefire line. D. N. Nadim's Neki ta Badi (Good and Evil) Kamil's Habba Khatoon, Wali's Zoon, Akhtar's Naste-Hynd Swal, are some of the first mature attempts during the fiftees. The two operas Nadim's Bomber ta Yamberzal (1953) and Kamil's Bombur ta Lolar (1961) are in fact the finest pieces in the form. One of our celebrated legends Heemal Nagiray has been woven into two forms, an opera by Roshan and Nadim, and a five act play by Pandit J. L. Jalali, the latter coming upto the standard at least in the theme, if not in dramatic technique. Some plays like Bhara's Supnavasudatum transalated by N.K. Sharma are yet to be published. The Academy of Art, Culture and Languages has since 1958, been organizing play competitions every year and awarding prizes for play writing, production, acting and also staging the prize winning plays in the Tagore Hall. Yiti Chhu Banan (This too happens) by M. S. Butt, 'Research' by Pushkar Bhan and Som Nath Sadhu, Taqudeer by Mohd Subhan Bhagat, Taqudeersaaz by Ali Mohd. Lone, Hawas by M.L.Kemu have successfully been staged in the Hall.

There are now a number of classical dramas translated into Kashmiri under the direction of the Sahity Akademi Delhi, Tagore's Mukta Dhara by A. M. Lone, Red Gleanders (Wozel Gulala) Malini, Sacrifice and Chandaliker by Noor Mohd, Roshan's Dhak Ghar and Raza-ta-Raane by M. A. Kamil, Sontuk Abgath by Mirza Arif, Ibson's Ghost (Tsay) by Akhbar Mohy-ud-Din, and Wild Duck (Thuj) by Somnath Zutshi. Independent attempts to translate foreign players are also worth with the mention i.e. Shakespeare's Othello by Nadim, and Julius Caesar by Naji Munawar, Tagore's Chitra, and Goldsmith's 'She Starts to Conquer' by A. K. Rahbar, are, besides, some of the precious additions to our dramatic literaure. Despite the Technical drawbacks, a number of plays staged by the Bhagat Theatre Akingam (under the directions of M. L. Kemu), and the Hero Machama and Waktuk Lukman by Pushkar Bhan have been presented well on th stage. Prof. S. L., Sadhu's 'Birbal' is a historical play, the first attempt in the form, but neither sublime in theme nor viable in style.

Though there is a long tradition in almost all higher educational institutions to stage plays written in Urdu or Hindi and occasionally in Kashmiri and though we have a number of playwrights engaged in writing one act plays, skits and shadow plays, it must be admitted that 'most of these make a contribution more than to drama' (J. L. Kalu); and that is why the numerous plays staged by various Dramatic Clubs before 1947, remained confined to social reform or local mythology, and could not raise the level to the artistic standards. It in only after 1960, that we find the balance gradually turning in favour of maturity in thought, and eloquence, freefulness and economy in diction.

[Reproduced from, "The Literary Heritage of Kashmir," (1985) Edited by K. L. Kalla, Mittal Publications, Delhi - 110035]. The author besides having been a Professor is Kashmir University, has been Sahitya Academy Award winner, (1970), for his prolific writings.
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