Arjun Dev Majboor does not need any introduction in the world of literature. A writer of great repute, Majboor has a very good command over three languages Kashmiri, Sanskrit and Persian, and has also done research work in Dogri and some other languages of Jammu & Kashmir. As a senior poet, he commands instant respect from the litterateurs in these languages.
Arjun Dev Majboor was born in Zainapora village in Pulwama District in Kashmir in the year 1924. Having orphaned in the early stage of his life, he worked in a co-operative bank after passing his Matriculation. In due course of time, he got a job in the court which he did not continue for a long. He went to Lahore, where he started learning Sanskrit. On his return from Lahore, he worked with Prem Nath Bazaz for some time. He was subsequently employed in Education Department after he got a Degree in Teaching.
Arjun Dev Majboor was very much influenced by Kalidas, Galib and Nadim. He translated Kalidas's Meghadootam into Kashmiri verse. His first collection of poems Kalaam-e-Majboor was published in the year 1955, followed by Dashahaar in 1983, Dazavuni Kosam in 1987, Padi Samyik in 1993 and Tyol in 1995. He also authored his most notable set of essays Tehqeeq. He has written a good number of short stories in Kashmiri, which have over the years been translated into various other Indian languages. Majboor has translated Nilamata Purana into Urdu, which is expected to be published by the J&K Academy of Art, Culture & Languages soon. He has also worked and written a lot on the Pre-historic Period of Kashmir and Kashmiri Culture, parts of which have already been published and more yet to be published.
Arjun Dev Majboor has authored research papers on Lala Lakshman, a well known Kashmiri humorist-poet (1892-1962 AD) and compiled a book on his works titled 'Kuliyat-e-Lala Lakhman', published by J&K Academy in 1982. Majboor has also to his credit, a research article on Arinimal. He has published monograph on Krishen Razdan.
'WAVES', A collection of Arjun Dev Majboor's 30 poems, selected and translated into English by Prof. Arvind Gigoo, has opened a wide window on his works, thus taking him right across the country. This book won him an award from Poets Foundation, Calcutta, presented to him personally by Chief Justice Shyamal Kumar Sen of Calcutta High Court on 20 December 1999. According to Dr. B.K.Moza, this book brings out his deep rooted love for the beautiful valley of Kashmir, the land of his birth, where he sees his cultural roots. Dr. R.L.Bhat, a well known reviewer and columnist says,"Had WAVES not appeared, non-Kashmiri people in Tagore's land might never have tasted the rich flavors, Majboor has been brewing." Majboor won the All India Radio Award in National Songs Competition, and also the Best Book Award from the J&K Academy of Art, Culture & Languages in 1993 for his book 'Padi Samyik'.
Arjun Dev Majboor was conferred with the Rashtra Bhasha Samaan by Rashtra Bhasha Samiti, Jammu in the year 2005 for his contribution to Hindi language. He has been honoured with the Saraswati Award by the J&K Vichar Manch in 2005 for his contribution to Kashmiri literature, and also with the Vitasta Award by Naagraad, Jammu.
What kind of a love Majboor has for the place of his birth, is evident from his writings. Dr Manzoor Fazili has this to say, "The political upsurge and violence in the Valley forced him to leave Kashmir in 1990. Since then he feels alienated. He is conscious of separation from his native village and native place ... The soul of the poet tumults in such a manner that he turns majboor (helpless) and is sandwiched between the love of his native land and its separation. He aches, has agonies and woes that his personality is shattered." An Album depicting Majboor's outpouring on the ethos of Kashmir is shortly being released in Kashmir.
It is very difficult to sum up the character of Majboor as a writer, especially as a poet. But Maharaj Krishan Santoshi's brief assessment tells a lot about the poet: "Arjun Dev Majboor is a restless soul, who always wants to come out with something. Although he is septuagenarian, yet old age has not touched his spirits. He is as such, the most diligent poet of Kashmiri". Shri T.N.Koul adds, "Arjun Dev Majboor's poetry is marked by deftness of _expression, deep introspection, progressive outlook and mature treatment. His works constitute a muffled outcry of his bruised heart against the disappearance of old values and the disequilibrium of modern life".
Arjun Dev Majboor is presently in exile, having been hounded out of Kashmir along with his brethren because of militancy, craving to return to his native land, once adored as the Land of Rishis.Address: Arjun Dev Majboor C/o Desh Rattan IPO, District Industries Centre, Exhibition Grounds, Tawi Bridge, Jammu 180 001.
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ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF KASHMIRI POEMS
DINA NATH NADIM
Published by Kashmir Bhawan
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Karunamoyee Salt Lake
Calcutta 700 091 West Bengal
Copyright Arjan Dev Majboor
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This translation first published: 1999
Reprinted with foreword: 2000
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By A.N. Dhar
On my retirement from the University of Kashmir, I shifted to Jammu in early 1990 as a displaced Kashmiri. Majboor Sahib was a much talked-about poet in Srinagar. Having read just a few of his Kashmiri poems by then, I had somehow felt an urge to see this man of achievement in person. I recall with pleasure my first meeting with him at the University of Jammu on the 25th of October, 1998 when I casually stepped into a hall in one of the buildings on the campus. It happened to be the venue of a two-week workshop of Kashmiri writers sponsored and organised by the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore. The participants were involved in the production of some teaching materials meant for our learners. A chance meeting brought Arjan Dev Ji and me together. Thus began a fruitful friendship between us, which I believe has endured and will grow further, God willing. It was at this memorable meeting that Majboor Sahib gifted to me a copy of his book of poems titled Padyi Samyik (foot-prints of time) that earned him an award from the J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages in the year 1994; this volume was adjudged as the "best book in Kashmiri".
Ever since our meeting, with the passage of years, we have got to know each other well through our mutual contact at literary seminars and socio-cultural functions held periodically on various occasions at Jammu. On the basis of what I have by now read of this versatile writer-poet, critic and translator, well-versed in several languages and literatures-I can say with confidence: "here is a man of achievement in the field of letters". A productive and prolific writer, it is as a Kashmiri poet that he stands pre-eminent.
As a creative writer, Arjan Dev Ji has not only excelled in producing fine Kashmiri lyrics - both short and long - but he has also done reasonably well as a short-story writer in the Kashmiri language. What is also noteworthy about him is his accomplishment as a researcher and critic. He has also earned distinction as a translator, having command over several languages including Kashmiri, Hindi and Urdu besides having a fairly good knowledge of the two classical languages, Persian and Sanskrit. Being conversant with different languages and literatures, it seems he was cut out for attaining proficiency in the area of comparative literature. It is a field which involves a scholar's deep interest in the theory and practice of literary translation from one language into another-across regions and countries. The translator has to be both bilingual and bicultural having command over the two languages involved and at the same time being conversant with the related literatures. Many of Arjan Dev's published papers and articles bear testimony to his aptitude for cross-cultural studies.
With the publication of the book titled Waves in the year 1999, Arjan Dev 'Majboor' shot into prominence across the country, especially in the northern region. A younger scholar and talented English writer from our community, Prof. Arvind Gigoo, had felt attracted towards Majboor Sahib's Kashmiri poems; it was as good friends and neighbours living at Udhampur that the two litterateurs got close to each other and collaborated in a literary undertaking. Gigoo Sahib's English translation of Arjan Dev's Kashmiri lyrics in the first edition of the Waves brought the translator into the limelight and the original poet got an award from the Poet's Foundation, Calcutta in December, 1999. The book immediately caught the attention of scholars and critics; the result was an upsurge in the shape of a large number of favourable review articles in English on the translated poems from writers largely based in Jammu, some living elsewhere in the country and abroad. I myself hailed the book as a landmark: a fine piece of translation. Encouraged by the warm response from discerning readers, Majboor Sahib planned a larger volume of his translated poems in collaboration with the competent translator, Gigoo Sahib who now chose to provide also his seminal note on the theory and practice of literary translation bearing on the work undertaken by him. The enlarged edition has an excellent and illuminative forward from the celebrated writer, Professor TN Raina. I am happy to mention here that in this foreword (to the enlarged volume of the Waves brought out in the year 2000), Prof. Raina has quoted lavishly from my published review on the first volume. Later, a spate of fresh reviews from enthusiastic writers prompted Dr. RL Bhat, writer and social activist to collect the whole critical material on the two editions of the Waves and edit it properly. He brought out an anthology of critical reviews (on Arjan Dev's poems translated by Prof. Gigoo) under the title Arjan Dev Majboor in January 2003.
From what Prof. TN Raina and Dr RL Bhat have said about Majboor Sahib in their forewords the account they have given of his growth and development as a well-known personality, accomplished in the field of letters, I have every reason to feel elated over my decade-long literary association with the veteran poet and scholar at Jammu. I admire his fortitude, determination and perservance in sustaining his versatile interests as a writer. I am specially impressed by his eagerness to see his creative writing in Kashmiri projected globally through English translation. As a budding scholar and writer in his early years he had to face immense hardships, but he has managed to come up the hard way-which has been the mark of many ambitious men who rose to eminence. Even in his eighties now, Arjan Dev leaves nothing undone to see that he maintains the tempo of his writing despite his physical handicap in wearing a collar round his stiff neck. Author of a large number of books and a man of significant achievement as a writer, he is every inch a gentleman, exuding affection, having all the humility of a genuine scholar. In view of these qualities, he continues to be a source of inspiration to his friends and admirers. May he live long!
*The author was formerly Head of the Department of English and Director, ELT Centre, University of Kashmir. He has also authored Mysticism Across Cultures.
by Trilokinath Raina
Arjan Dev Majboor (real name Arjan Nath Koul) of Zainapura in Pulwama District (b.1924) saw many vicissitudes in his early life. His calm exterior, which Moti Lal Saqi has called deceptive, belies the turmoil his heart has passed through. He has had a chequered career. Orphaned very early, his life was a courageous and determined struggle against want. Having to keep the kitchen fire alive when he matriculated, he worked for some time in a co-operative bank, then got a job in the court but the experience wasn't very encouraging. In desperation he left for Lahore, where he gained in two ways; he started learning Sanskrit, and meetings with Rahul Sankritayan gave him a knowledge of Marxism, and both these stood him in good stead. He appeared on the literary scene in a turbulent time when a new age was being born, an age which all the writers hailed as the promised millennium. The consequent change it fathered was visible in poetry not only in the mental attitude but also in form and techniques. The ghazal was being dropped and some western forms were ushered in. In fact it looked like Kashmiri literature was casting off the slough of old, ossified decadent traditions of thought and technique and acquiring a resurgence of life it had never known before. Not that great poets and writers never existed in the happy valley. In fact the history of our literature starts with a poet who has always remained and will perhaps ever remain unmatched for all time, i.e., Lal Ded. What I mean is that never before did the whole community of writers and all artists, collectively, have a rejuvenating bath at a new helicon, a new fountain of the muses. It is this atmosphere that Majboor found himself in and was led most powerfully into the vortex. True, from Rahul Sankritayan he had acquired a knowledge of how matter shapes mind, but a knowledge of dialectical materialism is not enough to make you a poet. In the new environment he found himself very powerfully influenced by the creators of the new age-Mahjoor, Nadim and the other writers of the new community of progressive writers, and he also plunged in. On his return from Lahore he worked in Prem Nath Bazaz's standard till it closed down and unemployment greeted him again till he equipped himself with a teaching degree and was absorbed in the Education Department.
But despite joining the Progressive movement in fact he also worked as an assistant editor of its journal Kwong Posh for some time-he never actually belonged to the movement as a committed progressive writer like Nadim, Roshan, Zutshi, etc. but was like most followers of the movement, drawn in but always outside the ring of political commitments, though his firm belief was that literature cannot be divorced from society. His involvement with the problem of the workers and the peasants was unquestionable and always remained, but not in the sloganeering manner. The sighs of the poor and the beauty of nature-forests, rivers, meadows, mountain peaks - are blended in his poems.
His poems, short stories and critical essays have been published in the various journals in Kashmir and outside. He has translated Kalidasa's Meghadootam into Kashmiri (Obra Shechh), published monographs on Krishna Razdan and Rahul Sankiritayan (Sahitya Akademi), to mention only the most notable of his compositions. He is not only a poet but also a seasoned scholar and writer who has a number of published material- books and critical articles- to his credit.
"The publication of Waves bears testimony to Majboor's serious concern as a scholarly poet for the projection of Kashmir' literary works across the globe. The present volume is a laudable effort specially to serve the objective of reaching a wider readership across the country and abroad. This gives an access to the cultural content of the original poems.” (A.N. Dhar). This is what any poet writing in a language with limited readership would invariably desire. But before focussing on the poems presented in this selection, it would be appropriate to have a look at all his poems from the day he wrote his first anthologized poem Shongaan Yeli Raat to the present day and how he has evolved as an artist during the last half century.
He has experimented with various forms, and emerged as an essentially nazam writer. And he is most certainly a nature poet. His deep rooted love for the sights and sounds of this Paradise on Earth (which bewitched Jahangir once and continues to leave lesser mortals too spellbound) is easily understood. I find it necessary to mention it right in the beginning to emphasise the fact that it forms the basic theme of whatever he wrote. It remains the backdrop even when he is talking about something else.
His first collection of poems Kalaam-e-Majboor was published in 1955. This was followed by Dashahaar in 1983, Dazavuny Kosam in 1987, Pady Samayik in 1993 and Tyol in 1995. His creative talent did not confine itself to the field of poetry alone but ranged form short stories to literary criticism, his most notable set of essays being Tehqeeq. However, at present we are concentrating on his evolution as a poet. It was a long journey from Kalam-e-Majboor (1955) to Dashahaar (1983), in which we find Majboor having matured as an artist and having developed a liking for the short poem, which the great poets like Nadim and Rahi had already inaugurated in Kashmir. You find in this collection, simplicity of ideas combined with technical dexterity. One of the significant poems in this series is Tamaashaa (presented as A Juggler's Trick in English translation in Waves). The juggler comes with the usual tabor and entertains the spectators with what is essentially an illusion. The poet wants to convey that life itself is an illusion, a grand show compeered by a master juggler.
The poems [in Waves] translated by Arvind Gigoo bear 'eye-catching and appropriate titles' and have been selected from the various publications of Majboor. Prof. A.N. Dhar says that "the translations capture both the essence and broad details of the original pieces. Happily the author of the poems and the translator complement each other. As a final fine product, Waves not only reflects the rich content of the originals, but also reproduces the free verse form of most Kashmiri lyrics."
The period 1946-1955 was one of great turbulence, in which an air of political uncertainty loomed large over Kashmir. The Pakistani sponsored Raiders' invasion was followed by Imperialist intervention, which sought to weaken India's hold over J&K. The local left group, which operated from within National Conference, marshalled all its resources to beat back the Pakistani and Imperialist conspiracies and hold aloft the banner of national unity. It reached out to the common people to enroll them in the battle against the forces of disruption.
To play this vanguard role the left group relied on 'Literature as a weapon to awaken the people'. Its manifesto declared: 'Literature is both a representative and an architect of people's culture, an interpreter of their struggles and aspirations. It shall expose imperialist, capitalist and feudal designs on the people's freedom and give leadership and direction to their struggle and fight for World Peace'. Cultural Congress and Kwong-Posh were the offsprings of this resolve.
The mantle of leadership of the movement to raise social and political awareness of Kashmiris through literature fell on Pt. Dina Nath Koul Nadim, a great name in 20th century Kashmiri literature. To quote Shri Mohd. Yusuf Taing 'In his hands Kashmiri language and literature experienced a new birth and he fostered this renaissance with loving care, introducing new forms and patterns'. 'A 'magician of words', Nadim was a pioneer in introducing political themes in Kashmiri poetry. He has been rightly called Mayakovsky and Pablo Neruda of Kashmir. It was he who introduced short story, Sonnet, free and blank verse, Opera, haiku in Kashmiri. Nadim rescued Kashmiri poetry from worn out themes of mysticism and love and gul-o-bulbul imagery. He established the fact that literature, heavily-laden with political message, need not necessarily be second rate. Nadim was father of cultural renaissance of Kashmir, the like of which we haven't seen for many centuries. Every poet of Kashmir since 1947 has not only borrowed his ideas but also his images. No wonder, the era 1947-1988 has come to be called the Age of Nadim.
Arjan Dev Majboor was a product of this Cultural Renaissance, a poet of the Age of Nadim. He performed the job of Sub-Editor of Kwong-Posh, the monthly journal of Cultural Congress, with distinction. In a tribute to the leader of the movement Majboor says', Not only me but every modern poet of Kashmir owes form of his poetry to the great Nadim'. Majboor is a versatile poet, with five volumes of poetry to his credit. Even at this age when his health troubles him quite a lot he continues to experiment with new forms and themes in poetry. Urvashi, his recent poem, is based on a theme of Mahabharata. A poet who remains strongly conscious of the beauty of his art Majboor has evolved a distinct idiom of his own. The success of his album 'Sangarmal' establishes the lyrical beauty of his muse, revealing its capability of getting rendered into music as well with quite ease.
Majboor is essentially a nazam and a nature poet, who retains passionate attachment to the land of his birth and also to its mythology, legend and lore. His poems are rich in imagery, with vocabulary quite sensuous. At times while hoping for a new dawn his romanticism takes over realism.
In exile Majboor has experimented with Longer Poems to communicate his feelings, which he claims he could not do otherwise through Short Poems. Tyol and Padi Samayhik are his Longer Poems. Nostalgia remains the main theme of his exile poetry. Nostalgia is all right. But nostalgic memories cannot substitute for the struggle to retrieve what has been lost and reverse the situation of exile? Nadim, Faiz, Neruda made literature a powerful vehicle to raise awareness among their people to fight the perceived social and political injustices. Politics did not impoverish, rather it enriched their poetry. In the process they emerged as great poets with their art linked to the destiny of their people. Exile also finds an echo in Majboor's few short stories and unfinished novel 'Vanvas' (Exile).
Majboor has excelled in many other genres of literature as well. He rescued for posterity the Kalam of Lala Lakhyman, the great poet of social protest in first half of 20th Century. He also collected 12 new ghazals of Rasul Mir, the romantic poet. Majboor remains a versatile translator, who can translate all forms of literature with ease from one language to the other in Sanskrit, Persian, Urdu, Hindi, Dogri, Kashmiri and English. He was the first to translate Kalidasa's classic Meghadutam in Kashmiri, titling it as Obreh Schechh.
In the field of historiography Majboor displays sound professionalism. His research work on Kashyap Bandhu, Krishan Joo Razdan, Arnimal, Lal Ded, Dina Nath Nadim, Iqbal Nath Wanpoh and many others attest to it. Majboor's work in literary criticism bears the imprint of a competent litterateur, with vast knowledge of history and literature.
Pre-history of Kashmir has been his special love. This is reflected through his essays on the subject, photography of archeological finds and the beautiful poem commemorating HD Sankalia's excavations in Pahalgam area - 'Pyav Ledri Bathis Peth Thana Adam'. Incidently, he had the opportunity to read this poem to the great archeologist at Pune. A man of many parts, Arjun Dev Majboor is one of the most outstanding litterateurs living amongst us today.
the heart-rending serpent
tore my heart.
She plaited her hair,
lit a lamp
spoke a riddle.
There was lightning
the flames went up.
Worry burst out mysteriously.
The sun plays
a new game
in the blue sea.
shone in the reflection of the
gripped the root of a tree.
The whirlpool of worries
the cosmos stopped its journey
faded on the edge of the sky
In this age of topsy-turvydom
on the top of a tree.
Should I wait
jump upon the earth?
The sky dreads
In the ant hills.
There are no walls
the doors are closed.
All have forgotten
Time is frightened
the frightful banks
of the river.
Where will you go now?
What solution lies
in your hands?
You will be known
by your face
They will burn you.
What place are you from ?
You came out of
the tremulous oceans
The peaks of worries face you
covered with dust.
Where will you go now?
The colour of the spring
The rays of the sun
suck the barren land.
there is none
the dancing dew.
Cupid too is all ash.
Who are you writing to ?
There is a curse
The gardens of life
Spending one day
Crossing a mountain.
in the city.
You will be sold
for a coin.
Don’t go towards a ghat.
is all blood
The dead bodies of
are without shrouds.
In the past
longed for children
from the river
the lamps flowed with
We had dreams.
Rest a while
Climb the mountain
The daggers dance
under the chinar trees.
the colourful valley
because of the bombs.
Where do you have to go?
Where is the way?
There is a tempest
in the valley
of the seers.
Heemal has risen
from a deep sleep.
love to her.
walk through the forests and
pain and agony
flying over the mountains.
They will drink your blood.
You cannot escape the net.
*(Translated from the original Kashmiri by Prof. Arvind Gigoo)
By Dr. Romesh Kumar
Focus on Majboor as a poet has led the literary critics overlook his contributions as a serious short story writer. In his early literary career Mabjoor's twenty short stories were published in "Jyoti", an Urdu monthly edited by Late Ganga Dhar Dehati. These stories received good appreciation. His Koleh Guran (small fish of a stream) was widely acclaimed.
'Kolehwaan' (cleansing the stream for paddy sowing) and 'Sona Wuddar' (Golden Karewa) were published in Kwong-Posh, a literary journal brought out by Cultural Congress in early 1950s. 'Kolehwaan' focused on the hard life of a peasant in village. Rahim is the protagonist in the story. 'Sonawudar' is based on the description of beauty of nature. Due to displacement and subsequent burning of his house his books and papers too were destroyed. Majboor does not have today even a copy of his short stories written for 'Jyoti' and 'Kwong-Posh'.
Despite his success in the art of short story writing Majboor switched over to poetry and prose-writing. When asked about this shift Majboor frankly admits: "I myself don't know why I left writing short story".
Exile brings out the best in a writer. There is strong motivation, an urge to communicate exile and its different facets - to satisfy the inner pangs and also to create a movement for reversal of exile. This makes a writer try varied genres of literature to bring out his feelings. After having bid goodbye to short story writing four decades back, Majboor started experimenting with short story again to weave real life incidents during the past 17 years of displacement into literature. His stories which treat exile as its theme include-'Gashe Zech'; (a ray of light), 'Haras-ti-Korun Wandeh' (The Ashad (May/June) month too has turned into Winter), 'Tri-Buj' (Triangle), 'Gatakhar' (The Storm) etc. Some of these stories have been translated into Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi. 'Gashe Zech' (A Ray of Light).
Originally, this story was written in Kashmiri. Its Hindi version, translated by the author himself, was published in 'Samkalin Bhartiya'. An incident which involved a cop and took place in Bijbehara has been fictionalised in this story. The cop Som Nath who had stayed back in 1990 alongwith his family is kidnapped by militants. He is kept hostage in a cowshed and is brought daily to the Kangaroo court of militants to confess a 'crime' he never committed. He is asked to accept the charge that he was a 'Mukhbir' (an informer for the government). Som Nath refuses to endorse the lie. He is abused, thrashed, his body is tortured with burning cigarette butts. The cop after undergoing this torture experiences hallucinations of more brutal torture being in store for him before he would be finally eliminated.
An old Muslim lady in whose house Som Nath was kept captive and tortured, used to serve him food in morning and evening. As torture increases Som Nath narrates his tale of woe to the old lady. He tells her that in case he was unable to reach home, his family - wife and two sons would not able to withstand the bad news. The lady is moved by his condition, his feelings and innocence. She is convinced that the cop is being held captive for no reason. The lady has a way out for his freedom. She tells him that during the day, when the militants would be out she would prepare 'Tehar' (Turmeric laced rice) and call neighbourhood children to the compound to receive 'Tabruk'. This would give enough time to Som Nath to break the rear window of the house and flee. The cop accepts her suggestion and jumps to freedom. He reaches the police station, where he is posted. He takes a van, collects his family and reaches Jammu.
Hars Tih Korun Wandeh:
This story is based on an incident supposed to have taken place during rapacious Pathan rule. Jabbar Khan was Governor of Kashmir and quite intolerant to Kashmiri Pandits. One year he forebade Pandits to celebrate Shivratri on the due date in winter. Snowfall used to take place on the day of Shivratri, this phenomenon was considered auspicious. That year Pandits celebrated Shivratri in Har (Jun/July). It snowed on that day. Kashmiri people reacted by saying, "Wuchtone Yi Jabbar Jandeh, Haras Tih Korun Wandeh' (See the wretched Jabbar. Even the hot summer has turned into cold winter).
The author has used this metaphor to convey the plight of a displaced old Pandit lady in Jammu who gets psychologically fixated to Kashmir winter. The story was originally published in Kashmiri in Sheeraza. It runs like this -
A young lady visits her close relation, who has recently migrated from Kashmir. It is month of June. The displaced old lady is sick and confined to bed. Her daughter-in-law offers her a glass of cold water. The old lady reacts hysterically, "Oh! Have you gone mad? You are offering me cold water when it is snowing outside". Though she is in Jammu, yet she is fixated to winter season when she left Kashmir.
The old lady travels back in time and narrates events about her marriage and other incidents when she was young. She asks her daughter-in-law to go up the 2nd storey to fetch her white woollen pheron so that she could beat the cold. Then she experiences an auditory hallucination in which a fisherman appears. The old lady asks her daughter-in-law to call him for purchasing fish against a big bag of paddy. The lady also experiences desire to prepare fish herself. The daughter-in-law is asked to fetch wood from the third storey of the house. The old lady's reaction to the noise of matadors moving outside is: 'Why these buses are coming close to our house though it is one km. away from the main road'.
Meanwhile, her son enters the room. She tells him," Oh! You must be tired walking 10 kms distance from your school in the snowfall. You dust off snow from your blanket". The lady orders the daughter-in-law to prepare for him maize bread and salt tea.
The son feels sad not on account of her psychological condition but on his inability to find out an alternate rented accommodation. The landlord had already sounded him that since his mother was on death bed he could not allow the relations of the rented family to mourn in case of old lady's death.
'Gatakar' (The Storm).
This story is based on an event which is supposed to have taken place in Litter Village, 5 kms from Zainapora (author's village). The story, originally written in Kashmiri, has been translated into Hindi and Telugu. The writer has tried to correlate a routine event in the daily life of Kashmiri Pandits with actual displacement. The forced displacement is described as Gatrakar, the storm.
A fisherman Aziz used to visit on eve of Shivratri a village inhabited by Pandits. Since cooking of fish is part of Reet (Customary ritual) on Shivratri, due to heavy demand the Pandits would remain unsure whether they would be able to get fish. Aziz tells a customer that since he was his permanent customer he would ensure at any cost to make fish available to him on the occasion. However, he fails to turn up. The customer subsequently comes to know from a Pandit shopkeeper in the nearby village that Aziz was dead. The fisherman had failed to get a good catch due to snowfall. With his catch of one kg he purchased salt, tea and tobacco from the Pandit shopkeeper and left for his village in the evening. His village was perched on a hill. The fisherman had to cover a distance of 5 kms over snow to reach his village. When he reaches the Karewa the snowfall turns heavy darkness also sets in. Aziz loses his way. He gets worried how his four unmarried daughters would take the news if something bad happened to him. The fisherman lands in a pyritherium Farm covered with a blanket of snow. He is numb with cold and leans against a mulberry tree. The following morning snowfall stops and gradually the sun comes out. The villagers find Aziz dead. The sad news is conveyed to his daughters.
Some days later the situation in Kashmir starts deteriorating for the worse. The author seems to convey that the storm which consumed Aziz had symbolism attached to it. It was first time the Pandits could not get fish on the day of Shivratri. It was an indication that stormy days were ahead for Pandits. The news about selective killings of Pandits in city reaches villages also. The exodus begins.
This story originally written in Hindi is based on author’s personal experience. During the early years of displacement Majboor lived in Udhampur. He used to go for strolls on the main Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. He would feel happy and nostalgic on seeing buses coming from Srinagar. The story revolves round a Pandit refugee, living in Battal Ballian refugee camp at Udhampur. The refugee belongs to Zainapora (Majboor's village) in Kashmir. He has come to the town, Udhampur and is standing at a point where three roads lead to Srinagar, Jammu and Udhampur (Tribuj). When his eyes turn towards the road leading to Kashmir he in his fancy reaches his village Zainapur. The day is Navreh amavasya. A fair was on in the village. The sweetsellers, the toy sellers and others had thronged to the village to sell their goods. The village ladies - Hindus and Muslims had been buying bangles, Kajal, cosmetics etc. The Battal Ballian refugee is pained to see his burnt house. He narrates to the guests, relations and the family the history of Varanag spring, connected with fair. Suddenly, the noise of a truck distracts his attention. He feels remorse and recalls how displacement has disintegrated his whole clan. The Pandit refugee is lost in his thoughts. He thinks about Zainapur, his relations, the ravages of displacement etc. As evening approaches, he feels it was time to reach the camp. He had come to the town to fetch medicines for his wife. When he puts his hand in the pocket there is just one rupee, the ten rupees had got misplaced somewhere. Feeling quite hungry one rupee would not help him to buy even a cup of tea, what to talk of medicines. It is 8 PM. He catches the last matador for Battal Ballian.
'So Booney' (The Chinar):
Originally written in Kashmiri and published in Sheeraza the story is set in Bijbehara. It has recently been translated into english by Sh. Upinder Ambardar.
By Mohd. Yusuf Taing
We Kashmiris may still have the pretensions of belonging to the ‘Paradise on Earth’ but the fact remains that we on both the sides of Pantsal are presently living in hell. People on the northern side of the hill, by and large, physically and mentally and on the southern side, spiritually and emotionally.
The Volcano erupted rather abruptly but it had been gathering its embers through a long span of time. What is even worse, our two neighbouring giants contributed to it in ample measure.
Arjun Dev Majboor, to my mind, is one of the most eloquent, authentic and artistic chroniclers of this blazing inferno. I have a few weight arguments to substantiate my assertion. Firstly, he is not a journalist or a historiographer, in the formal sense of these terms. This class can only see and judge the manifest-the apparent occur-rences and their crust, which are otherwise far more complex and twisted. Secondly, he is not swept off his feet by the heat of the moment--so garishly coloured by the linkages of class, creed and convenience. The best and instant genre can be seen in the books published on the two sides of Pantsal in recent times. One's hero, is other's villain and vice-versa. One's holocaust, is other's freedom struggle etc. Thirdly, Majboor has a poet’s sensibility and an artist’s eye. Both ignore the transient and banal; both fall for substantial and enduring. They do not identify killers by their fatigues; they peep into their psyche and minds. They recognise them as instruments of primordial instincts, good and evil, which surface in human frame and chart out his destiny.
The world of literature is with such instances. Vyas's Arjun and Duryodhan, Tulsi Das's Ram and Ravana, Shakespear's Macbeth and Diago, Kalhan Pandit's Avantivarman and Raja Harsh, and Allama Iqbal's Jabril and Iblis; where Iblis taunts Gabrial in the following words:
Mein Khatakta Hoon
Dil-i-Yazdan Mein Kanti
Too Fakat Allah Hu, Allah Hu,
(I am like a thorn in the flesh
of Almighty God,
And You? just repeating his
name again and again)
--Dialogue of Jabril and Iblis
Majboor celebrates the beauty of his motherland; even when he is under strain. He has a very long memory of his historical past and he remembers it through thick and thin. He does lament that whatever he cherishes is crashing and collapsing. But he draws strength from the fact that Kashmir has seen all this in the past and always outlived and outgrown its miseries. It is an amazing response to a situation where there is no visible hope. He does wail and weep but never like at the level of a squabbling, shrieking mobs. He encounters it at a higher plane and like french philosopher Rousseau he exclaims. "Everything coming from the hands of the creator is perfect and everything degenerates in the hands of man". It is a different attitude than the stock submission of an oriental Sufi; It somehow draws its lessons from the dialectics of human history. Humans tend to take plunge in their quest to forge ahead. They have to cross rivers of blood and fire, but time, at the end of every catastrophe, sees them going a step higher at the ladder. Majboor's journey of pain creates such luminous allusions in his poetic odyssey:
"Dou hay Chokeh Naizan Man
Yih Qoudrath Rouph chi
Sonbrun Dani Daney"
(Wash daily your mind from
the limpid waters filtered from snow,
Nature has to labour for
collecting this silver speckly speck)
Tsu Naras Manzti Poshey
(Go on planting flower bushes
even in the raging fires)
Vasan Shamas ootuy lout
Vanan Tim Gyan Zari eki
(In the evenings, angels themselves
bless my land,
They are always clad in the
golden robes of knowledge)
Chi Nagiy Nag Ati Aabukneh
Vudar Risham Te Yimnay
(Springs flow there at every corner,
Even Silken uplands grow
flowers like bubbles in a torrent)
It may be a device to escape from the agony of the present, but it is also a quest to recharge his batteries of hope and courage. He just cannot allow his dream to be inundated by the raging floods of hate and tyranny. Like his immediate predecessors Mehjoor, Majboor also sings in darkness around and exudes light;
"Khatum Gatsi Changyzkhani
Rozi Qaim Ta Abad
(The barbaric onslaught of Chengez Khan will come to an end;
And the dreamland of/poetic Vision-The Shiraz-will
flourish till eternity.)
Majboor's other mainstay takes in his wonderful poem - “Paed Samyik” - It draws strength from the great historical Saga of Kashmir-right from its genesis. The landmass emerging from a drying Satisar, had the inherent make-up of a paradise. He is overtaken by a flowing melody as a rosepetal in the gushing waters of Vitasta. Vitasta which is born in the lap of mother Kashmir and which announces the independent character of its culture and its existence. Vitasta, which leaves Kashmir only after creating the Amrita Reservoir of Wullar. This translated self containment is in Kashmir's journey of faith and pattern of history as well. Mt. Kailasa is transformed into Pradiyman Pitha; Shiv Shankar takes the shape of Budha, Nagrai a Naga prince becomes the darling of Himal, the princess of ruling Arya clan. These accords and concords emerge like lotus flowers from the oceans of blood. It is a journey of pain, but in William Cowper's words resulting in "pleasure and even ecstasy of fulfilment".
"Vanakh na Jafereo ledris
Chi Kashmir Kyazi Sairi
(You Marigold flower, would you care to ask the the yellow rose;
Why Kashmiris of all hues are in such an agony?)
It is not a demagogue's figure of speech to bluff his listener. Majboor does not discriminate among Kashmiris, they are all his kin and fellow-travellers. He never bothers to know their names, neither cares who is circumcised and who is not. If one does not know him personally and if proper name is not revealed to him, it will be quite difficult for the reader to know whether the poet is a Pandit or a Muslim. Just a small ingredient can hint to his class-his use of some very apt, eloquent and meaningful allusions in Sanskrit. These are married to the context in such a way that they simply cannot be replaced. Sanskrit has been the lingua franca of Kashmir's most glorious culture. It is not only AnandaVardhana and Kalhana, who epitomise its aesthetics and narrative excellence, even Zainul Abdin's Court historians took its chartered course; Lal Ded and Nund Reshi enjoy its liberating atmosphere and use it for their epoch-making renderings. In Majboor, it has an effortless beauty. He picked it up in the company of that great gypsy-Hermit-Rahul Sankrityan, who died as a convert to Sakhya Muni's world-conquering creed.
Majboor makes his historical journey through different vicissitudes of Kashmir's past - Nagas, Paisachas, Darads, Aryanas Kushans, Huns, Turks, Mughals, Afghans, Khalsas, Jamwals etc. He talks of great figures and great spots in the journey. Anandvardhan, Kundalvana, Pravarsen, Lalitaditya, Martand, Nagarjuna, Harwan," Second Lalitaditya, Sultan Shahbuddin, Budshah, Zaindweep (He has partiality to him, because he founded Zanapur also, Majboor's native village), Shamsuddin Iraqi, the great Shah Hamadan, Lal Ded, Sheikhul Alam, Makhdoom Hamza, Akbar the great, Mehjoor etc. And then coming to his own times, he admires that tall person - the harbinger of modern revolution in Kashmir.
Bala vira Asi Manz Wooth
Baniau Suiy Rahnuma
Hukmas Korun Vaad
(And a brave, a tall man, rose
from our own ranks,
He gave a clarion call,
He became the leader and
defied the command)
I consider both these poems extraordinary; quite long by the standards of Kashmiri language, yet just stops short of becoming classical Mahakavyas; although they are written and fashioned in that mould. Both are epoch-making and epical in nature and have only one precedent. Some operas of great and larger than life - Dina Nath Nadim who happened to be an elder contemporary and a guiding spirit of Majboor. Majboor's poems may lack the majesty and grandeur of Nadim's torrential flow, but he compensates by his poise and depth. Nadim had not to encounter the avalanche of blood and mayhem which was Majboor's destiny, therefore Majboor scores greatly. If he was not overwhelmed by the turbulence and came out of it as a proud Kashmiri, it must be ascribed to his innate goodness and to the courage of his convictions. On purely artistic plane, they evoke that tuneful tradition of Kashmir Masnavis - which are immersed in beautiful melodies in the form of Lyrics etc. to lessen the burden of their terrible content. Majboor's poems under reference can fully blossom on the stage and unveil their real potential. I hope that he will find an interpreter in the mould of a Kashmiri Shyam Benegal. The poems are pregnant with terrific situations, tuneful music, sharp-wited dialogue and other components necessary for a fantastic production. Such an opera can be staged, both at Geeta Bhavan in Jammu; Pamposh Colony in Delhi and Islamia College in Down Town Srinagar and receive accolades.
Majboor's versatility knows no bonds. He is a short story writer, a translator, a researcher with penetrating insights, a linguist of many parts and a cultural voyager. His translations of some tarangas of Kalhan Pandit's magnum opus, have already been published by the State Cultural Academy and is much more enjoyable than the lousy English text of Stein, if not as illustrative. He has completed the first ever Kashmiri translation of that semi-veda of Kashmir - The Nilmat Purana. It is the most ancient text of Kashmir's Cultural Anthropology. It is awaiting publication in Cultural Academy and when published, will add more colour and spice to many festivities in Kashmir. It will recreate their linguistic opulence folksy authenticity.
His monograph on Arnimal has established her on the firm pedestal of historic belief. It will no more be possible for sensation-mongers to question her historical presence and her sweet, if somewhat short repertoire of songs.
Many of Majboor's path-breaking research articles are concealed in the files of Kashmiri Shiraza and other journals. They cannot be allowed to hibernate there and must see the light of print medium. These will, in turn, through light upon many a dark alleys of Kashmir's history.
Arjun Dev Majboor has an aura of encyclopaedic dimensions about his work. As far as I know, contemporary Kashmir Literary scene can hardly boast of any other person of his versatility. But what is more noteworthy is that inspite of his accomplishments of pen, he is second to none in the mundane field of struggle of Kashmiri, its rights and dignity. He has been in the vanguard of this struggle since 1948. He is among the few pioneers who ushered in the renaissance in our language and literature. He took the torch to villages of Kashmir and also tried to build an ambience so important for literary exposition.
He has been active in almost every movement of substance which worked for Kashmiri.
He is now an octogenarian, and not in the best of health, but his passion to labour and deliver has not receded; hence his very fresh dalliance with the preparation and release of Kashmiri music albums at the highest level available in this field.
What I consider icing on the cake (and so apt in these Christmas days) is his inborn humility and unbelievable gentlemanliness. I have yet to meet a person who speaks ill of him.
Everybody cannot become everybody's friend, that is not the way we humans are made but his Chemistry with his contemporaries as well as the younger generation is just remarkable. He could never compromise his ideals, but still managed to smile. Even in this era of hate and bad blood, his sincerity seems transparent and transcends the barriers of mighty Pantsal. He is aging but still making friends, still writing, still working, still contributing and still inspiring. We have not had the grace to bestow a very deserving Sahitya Award on him but that does not detract anything from his glorious accomplishment, it only casts a shadow on the genuineness of that otherwise coveted award itself. Our all-time great Nadim would receive it only when he had started for his last journey and Urdu's Krishan Chander could never make it to the panel even.
Majboor Sahib is a living movement of the best Kashmiri Cultural synthesis can offer....Well, it is a melancholy thought that, given the present state of milieu, we may not see the like of him anymore. History, contrary to the cliche sometimes, refuses to repeat itself and takes vicarious pleasure in denial.
*(The author has remained Secretary, J&K Cultural Academy (1973-1993), Director Information, Director General Cultural and Cultural Advisor to Chief Minister. He has also served as a member of State Public Service Commission and Member Legislative Council (1999-2005). Mr MY Taing writes both in Kashmiri and Urdu. A well-known Critic and Researcher, he has eight books to his credit. He won Sahitya Academy award for his book “Mehjoor Shinasi”.
(For Arjan Dev Majboor)
when people complain of their pains
and indifference of children
It is a pleasure to see you
like a rider
who tightens the saddle of his horse
before leaving for his new adventure.
On! Wanderer of life
You dare to go beyond always
Rhythms follow you
When people hear the bells
tinkling in the ears
and shadows of death
lurking on their eyelids
You dare say
Does God really exist!
On! Lover of life
It is always a pleasure to see you
and listen to your poems
Pulsating with liveliness
I always feel proud to think.
That being a poet in itself
is the greatest reward
nature can bless somebody with.
- Maharaj Krishan Santoshi
113-A/4, Anand Nagar, Bohri Talab Tillo, Jammu.
Shri Arjan Dev Majboor, a well known Kashmiri poet and a Researcher was born on 16th of August, 1924 at Zanapora, Pulwama (Kashmir). For over six decades he has been writing poetry and contributing to research on History and Culture of Kashmir. In a conversation with Kashmir Sentinel he talked at length about his life, Works and influences on his Art. In this thematic section we are reproducing excerpts of the conversation. The second part of the interview that pertains to the autobiographical details is being published separately. --The Editor.
KS: How did your Literary Journey begin?
ADM: At Lahore one of my companions in hostel was a Punjabi student, Roshan Lal. He wrote good Urdu. It touched me. I started writing in Urdu and composed few poems. One of these was published in Milap. I was already exposed to Persian language and literature while still at school. My family had good collection of books in Persian and Urdu, besides shrukhs of Nund Rishi, which was lost when our house was set on fire in 1992. In my school years I had the opportunity to go through Somadeva's Vaital Patisavi and Firdousi's Shahnama. I grew up in an ambience where Persian metaphors were better known than those in Kashmiri.
It was in 10th class when I happened to buy Mehjoor's book from a bookshop for one anna. A Punjabi singer used to sing his poems through a megaphone to boost up the sales of the book. This created interest in me for poetry.
KS: Marxist ideas have influenced you and your literature. How did it happen?
ADM: I remained associated with Left movement in Kashmir from 1947 to 1990. I worked mainly on Writers front and at Trade Union level among teachers.
During my Lahore days, I happened to buy a book 'Samyavad Hi Qiyon' (Why Socialism), authored by Rahul Sankrityan, in Amritsar. It brought about a drastic change in my ideology. I began to consider myself a marxist.
My actual political and literary work started when I joined DAV High School, Magarmal Bagh. This was the time when cataclysmic changes were taking place on the political landscape of Kashmir. The raiders were knocking at the doors of Srinagar. The Pandit population of the city was in panic and busy making preparations to flee the city for safety in plains of India. I began trade union work among teachers and organised All Kashmir Teachers' Federation. This subsequently became affiliate of Teachers' Federation of Jammu and Ladakh. I remained General Secretary of Kashmir Association for three long years. Though I was working in a Private School,yet I took up problems of Govt. teachers as well.
During the tribal raid days I happened to meet once Pt. Dina Nath Nadim, poet laureate of Kashmir at Ali Mohammad Booksellers' shop at Habbakadal. He was attired in turban, an achkan with worn out buttons and an old pant. On seeing me he exclaimed, "Majboor, I had different idea about you. My impression was you were an old man". Nadim Sahib invited me to attend the weekly (Friday) meetings of 'Kashmir Progressive Writers' Association', a branch of Cultural Congress. This organisation, alongwith its sister organisations among artists and theatre people had been allotted a barrack at Exhibition Grounds. This was the time when IPTA movement was at its zenith in India.
It is true my poetry developed in Cultural Congress but when I was exposed to Indian classical writers it became obvious to me that India had given much more to the world.
KS: Do you subscribe to the view that a writer should have social message as the main concern?
ADM: I do believe in art for life's sake but at the same time I dislike mannerism and sloganeering which was rampant among the litterateurs subscribing to leftwing ideology. In Kashmir during the Cultural Congress years there were times when politics overtook the poetry and other genres of literature, leaving little fun and literature in it. It turned into bland propaganda.
KS: What were the main activities of Cultural Congress?
ADM: It used to publish a monthly journal in Kashmiri, 'Kwongposh', organise Bazm-e-Kwongposh meetings in different areas and hold interactions with progressive writers outside J&K.
I was sub-editor of 'Kwongposh'. The journal ran for 25 issues or so. Two of my short stories 'Kolehwaan' and 'Soneh Vudar' were published in this journal. Main contributors to the journal included Dina Nath Nadim, Som Nath Zutshi, Noor Mohammad Roshan, Rehman Rahi, Amin Kamil, GN Firaq, Tej Bahadur Bhan, Gh. Nabi Ariz, Aziz Haroon, etc. Editorials were mostly written by Nadim Sahib and Som Nath Zutshi. I used to take editorials for approval to Sadiq Sahib. He had to okay, making sure that these did not violate the policy directions. Sadiq would rarely make alterations and was non-interfering. For running the journal he used to contribute from his pocket and would also raise donations from others. He hated sycophancy. Kwongposh sold a few hundred copies a month.
Every fortnight a day was fixed for holding Bazm-e-Kwongposh in mohallas where we had contacts. New songs were sung before the audience. We would explain the importance of Kwongposh. Gani Namthali was a star singer in those meets. Nadim Sahib, HN Durrani and PN Jalali would also join these functions. These functions were organised at Rainawari, Ganpatyar etc. There were over 25 writers who were associated with Cultural Congress Movement.
During this period I recited and published one of my poems in Navyug, a journal edited by Pt. Lambodar Tikoo:
Nakhas Peth Levan hyeth
Assan Groos Ta Vuchh
Vanya Karav Tajdari Chah
Amanech Ta Jamohorich
Uthe Hain Mudatonh Ke Baad
Ik Saileh ravanh bankar
Jo Nakshe ayey Samneh
Usko mita Denge
These were against autocracy and feudalism and were praised by Prof. Apurab Somnath, the great scholar of English. He used to attend our meetings and mushairas occasionally.
Poet Ariz composed the following:
Nadim Chhu Nafa
Mool Chhu Mehjoor
Majboor Pakan, Loor Dakhvith
Zar Ta Ranzoor
In 1955 when Russian leaders Nikita Khruschev and Bulganin visited Kashmir opera Bombar ta Yemberzal was staged in Nedous Hotel. It was written by Nadim and Noor Mohammad Roshan.
Veteran artists Rajbans Khanna, Shivdan Singh Chohan and Sheila Bhatia were deputed to Kashmir by IPTA to help the movement launched by Cultural Congress. They would attend all our meetings. There were other writers who came from outside - Ali Sardar Jafri, KA Abbas etc. The latter would read his Kashmir related short stories at Writers meets. Rajbans Khanna's house at Wazirbagh used to be venue for Cultural meets.
In 1952 our group went to Delhi to attend All India Progressive Writers' Association. It included Badri Nath Koul of Nishat Press, Rehman Rahi, Apurab Somnath, Somnath Zutshi, Aziz Haroon, besides myself. We had an opportunity to see Krishan Chander, Sahir Ludhiyanvi, Ismat Chugtai. I talked to Sahir and Majrooh Sultanpuri. We had lot of interaction with the great writers. I seconded a resolution, pertaining to peace. On the last day in the evening an open air Mushaira was held from 9 PM to 2 AM. The traffic stopped. Twenty thousand people listened with rapt attention and enjoyed the mehfil.
Rashid Bakshi had organised a Cultural Forum to counter Cultural Congress. Two well-known writers from Cultural Congress had defected to his side, but the Forum petered out within few months only.
KS: What was the impact of Progressive Cultural Congress Movement on Kashmiri Literature?
ADM: It was the best thing that could happen for Kashmiri language. It helped in the development of Kashmiri language. For the first time short story and prose was written. It started with Nadim's Jawabi Card and Som Nath Zutshi's 'Yeli Phuli Gash'
The short story was subsequently developed by Akhtar Mohiuddin, an Afsana Nigar of Calibre. Besides Nadim and Zutshi short stories were written by Tej Bahadur Bhan, Aziz Haroon and myself. Bhan wrote 'Vankha Pan', which was translated by me into Hindi. It received an award. He also wrote a novel 'Sailab Aur Katre'.
Opera was written first time by Nadim. Later, Moti Lal Saqi also wrote an opera. Before Cultural Congress there was no tradition of prose writing in Kashmiri. Som Nath Zutshi and myself contributed to this genre.
In the field of poetry-be it thought, subject or form, it got a new dimension. Nadim introduced free and blank verse besides Sonnet.
I translated many of Shivdan Singh Chohan's writings for Kwongposh. The movement also influenced Mehjoor.
Kashmiri language, hitherto the preserve of Sufiana singers, was brought closer to the masses, who began knowing its importance. There was focus on problems of common people, and on anti-imperialism in literature. By emphasizing these issues, there was de-emphasis on communal identities. Never before since Budshah's time a cultural movement with such sweep had hit Kashmir.
KS: What about your political work during these years?
ADM: 1947-1953 years were period of political uncertainty. Political discussions centred around how Kashmir would be resolved. People did not know what would ultimately happen. Poverty was rampant.
My trade union work took me to Tral, Anantnag and other Tehsil headquarters. I participated in Cultural Congress activities at Budgam, Handwara, Kulgam, Soibug, Kralpora, Lasjan, Zanapora, Khan Sahib and different mohallas of Srinagar. The Lasjan rally where Sheikh Abdullah announced Land to the Tiller was virtually a show staged by Left group in National Conference. Slogans 'Jameen Kiski-Kisan Ki' rented the air. I was present at the rally.
During my six years in Srinagar I came to know many people closely including such top leaders- NN Raina, ML Misri, Dhanwantri and Sadiq Sahib. Moti Lal Misri was a good orator. Sadiq Sahib would help the party cadres from his pocket whenever the cadres were in difficulties.
During the DNC period I was victimised by Bakshi regime.
KS: Can you elaborate?
ADM: Bakshi resorted to victimisation of DNC cadres and sympathisers. I had attended a meeting of DNC at Zanapora, my home village. Sadiq Sahib and other top leaders had come to address it. They were out of power. Soon after I received transfer orders for Leh.
Dina Nath Parimoo, a teacher colleague of mine, tried to lure me to Bakshi’s side by offering inducements which I categorically refused inspite of the fact that my family position was bad, father had died recently. Parimoo used to teach Bakshi's children at home and was a confidante of him. He was Basic Education officer. I remained under suspension for one year. DAV School Management, headed by Shri BD Nanda was sympathetic but expressed inability to help me out as there was no vacancy available in school. Party unit asked me to work in Mashal, the party mouth-piece. This assignment could hardly suffice my financial needs.
I approached Sadiq Sahib for help. My wife was very sick.
After a year Nadim Sahib helped me out. He approached Sansar Chand, the court singer of Bakshi who played Sitar. Every evening he used to regale Bakshi with his music. Bakshi was quite fond of Koshur Mosiqi. Sansar Chand asked Nadim to meet Bakshi in his presence. Bakshi was in great mood as he listened to Sansar Chand's number:
'Khoj Mehmood Chu Nawab
Samrood Toiti Samay
Chamaya Jami Jamay'
When it was over, Nadim intervened to say to Bakshi, "You have put a family to trouble. This is spoiling your image. Majboor's wife is in hospital. His economic condition is not good. It takes 7-8 days to reach Leh. He is willing to go to Uri". Bakshi feigned ignorance about the whole affair. Soon after this my transfer orders were cancelled. I was posted to Govt. School Dooru.
KS: Why did left movement fail in Kashmir? What has been its impact?
ADM: The movement played positive impact prior to 1960. After that it lost its sheen, turned sectarian and got splintered with each group remaining a paper outfit. Many workers joined the government. There were structural problems also accounting for failure of the Left Movement. Lines were imposed from above without taking cognisance of the ground realities or the assessment of lower-level cadres.
The leaders and senior cadres had obsession with ideology, theoretical issues and organisational matters and had little sensitivity to aspirations of common people. The party unit in Kashmir did not take decisions on its own but toed the line of central CPI leadership. Frequent changing of party line and splits left cadres confused. Attacks on religion also isolated cadres. In Kashmir senior leaders harboured jealousy against lower-level cadres, which brought in disillusionment in the latter. After 1960 the Kashmir left hardly played any meaningful role.
KS: Your early poems have been in Urdu. How did you switch over to Kashmiri?
ADM: It was due to my association with Kwongposh and Cultural Congress Movement. After writing a few poems in Kashmiri I shifted to short story. Then I again turned to poetry. It developed in Cultural Congress. My early poems were published in Kwongposh. Then my poems were also carried in Sunday Literary edition of Khidmat.
KS: You have five collections of your poems. Do these have political message as the theme?
ADM: I have not included my poems of Kwongposh in later anthologies. Only 'Aman Ta Zindagi' (Peace and Life) carries these. This book has six poems with themes- US intervention in Korea and Kashmir, Peace and Humanism etc. Poems in Dazvain Kosam (1987) deal with Namibia and depict human miseries, drought etc. One of my, fiery poem of early years is 'Jagirdara Thahar'.
I have written in Paband as well as Free/Blank verse, Radeef- Qafia metric style.
Subsequently, I left mannerism because stereotyping compromised beauty. In 1964 I wrote a poem with new diction and word beauty. Its title is "Shongan Yeli Raath Balan Shand Thavith" (When the night sleeps on the hills). It was liked by Nadim and others and later published as first poem in the year book of Kashmir - Son Adab. Though I started paying more attention to style and the craft of poetry I did not ignore the social role of a writer. My poems 'Shongian Yeli Raath." and Baharyin Zindagi Barabar, Zahar Chhu Aabe Hayat Chhavan, Cheh Racha Ta Masti Gulaib Royas, Mey Zahari Qatil Chhu Azmavan reflect protest against governance.
Dashhaar (1983) carries poems written between 1973-1983. These are short poems, number of Ghazals is less. The poems are written in free verse and poetic beauty has increased. Leaves of Chinar (1975), which includes six poems, has been translated by RK Bharti from Kashmiri into English. A Malayali friend has translated these into Malayalam.
KS: What are your experiences in Poetry?
ADM: During the past 15 years there has been tremendous change in diction, theme, style, poetic usage, technique etc. Though I have stressed on poetry, theme and vocabulary remain quite relevant. Every poet lives in present and is influenced by the society and the environment he lives in. So poetry has to change and adopt new artistic techniques and changing themes. My poetry is optimistic, where there is abundance of nature, humanism, hope, struggle in life etc.
I am basically a nazm poet, where ghazals are less. I have two experiences in poetry - Short poems and Longer poems. Prof. Amar Malmohi has reviewed my shorter poems in a 24-page essay in a thematic issue of Alav. Short poems of 22 writers were focused in the issue. My poetry has been recently rendered into music.
KS: What inspired you to write longer poems? Which is your best poem?
ADM: I was motivated to write longer poems by translation of Persian masnavis. Through these poems I wanted to communicate many things about Kashmir, terrorism, present situation which I could not do otherwise through short poems or ghazals. My longer poems are - Tyol (Pangs), Padi-Samayikh (Footprints of time), Wavasqun (Toward Wind). Tyol is my best poem.
KS: Have you been influenced by Nadim?
ADM: Not me alone but every Kashmiri writer since 1947 owes debt of gratitude to Nadim for adoption of form. But content, diction and dealing in my poetry is distinctively my own.
KS: What have been your experiences in Translation Work?
ADM: In 1973 I translated Kali Das's Meghdut into Kashmiri, giving it the title 'obre Shech'. This was a difficult job in the sense one had to be a good Sanskrit scholar and I had to give Kashmiri names for flowers. My friend Pushkar Nath Zadoo of Ganpatyar helped me in Sanskrit. He was himself engaged in translating Iqbal's poetry into Sanskrit. He was Shastri in Sanskrit. I helped him in Urdu.
For Rajtarangini translation I relied on RS Pandit's translation. He knew English well and was a better scholar of Sanskrit than Sir Aurel Stein. The latter's translation is important because Stein visited all the places mentioned by Kalhana.
I also translated monograph on Rahul Sankrityan. The author, unfortunately had not used much material available on Sankrityan. Besides, 12 famous short stories were translated by me from Kashmiri into Hindi. These were later published in Samkalin Bhartiya Sahitya (Sahitya Academy Journal) after 1963.
KS: Kuliyat Lala Lakhman is your another work.
ADM: In 1981 J&K Cultural Academy started a project on 'Lost Poets'. I was asked to work on compiling verses of Lala Lakhyman. The Kulliyat-i-Lala Lakhyman was published in 1982. My research starts from this project. Subsequently, I wrote a monograph in Hindi on Krishan Joo Razdan for Sahitya Academy. I translated some of his best poems from Kashmiri into Hindi. He bears strong Shaivite influence. I had already collected good material on him. Iqbal Nath of Vanpoh and other acquaintances of mine helped me to collect his date of birth and other necessary details. In exile I published a monograph of Arnimal, which set at rest raked up controversies on her historicity.
KS: How good is verse of Lala Lakhyman?
ADM: Lala Lakhyman's poems have poetic beauty, its form is excellent. In his characteristic style he resorts to lampooning (Tassana Chatun). Lala has written Leela poetry also.
KS: It must have been a difficult job collecting his Kalam.
ADM: Lala did not keep a diary. He had terrific memory. His poetry was quite popular. People in Kulgam and adjoining areas would recite his complete poems without any fail.
I had to work very hard. I was helped by Ramchand, son of Lala's sister particularly in gathering Leelas. Mrs. Damodar Koul (Shobawati) of Bijbehara, a relation of mine helped me in compiling two of his poems - Mirhama Sal and some other poem. Somebody had compiled 50-60 verses of Lala on uneven marriages. This was not available to me. I collected his poems from people particularly from ladies . Bapar Mandal, Tota Gudrin Chaya, Gada Dyagul were narrated by Muslims.
KS: Lala's Kalam has Pandit society as its focus. Have you been able to collect his entire Kalam?
ADM: It is true that his poems dealing with society are specific to Pandit social milieu, but he has also written powerful satire against the administration. Some of his Kalam may have been lost for good.
KS: What was people's response to your effort?
ADM: People knew me in the area. They were quite cooperative and appreciated the job. Common people enjoyed his qalam, but sections of feudal elite hated him. There was class and gender basis for appreciation of poetry.
KS: At places you have left names blank, Why so?
ADM: My friend ML Goja asked me to delete certain names mentioned in certain poems, critical of their families. He argued that this would embarrass their children, who were quite important officials. One of the persons told me his family who lived at Niu has been referred to in 'Gada Diygol’.
KS: You have worked on Rasul Mir also?
ADM: I collected 10 new ghazals of Rasul Mir from various singers of Dooru Shahbad. These were published first time by Amin Kamil 15 years later.
KS: What have been your other activities besides poetry?
ADM: I have been writing short stories, essays on history and prehistoric Kashmir, besides conducting research on some of the famous poets - Lal Ded, Nadim, Arnimal, Mehjoor, Azad etc. My article on Lal Ded's birth-place Devar-Frastpur, near Panthachowk was published in Shiraza. Presently, I am working on birth-places of Nagarjun and Abhinav Gupta. I believe Nagarjun belonged to a place called Nageypur, near Dachigam Sanctuary. I once happened to read an article by a Delhi scholar, who had said Abhinav Gupta lived in east in some place called Nagaard. I wrote him back if Gudar in Kulgam could be this place, supporting it with local folklore. He replied that it could not be ruled out.
KS: Have you ever attempted a novel?
ADM: When I was in Udhampur in 2000 I had completed my historical novel--Vanvas (exile). After writing 12 chapters I found it became too heavy. I wanted to re-write it. Due to my neck injury I haven't able to pursue it further.
KS: In what way is Exile reflect in it?
ADM: I have tried to analyse rise of terrorism in a historical perspective in Vanvas. Besides this I have tried to depict nostalgia of Kashmiri Pandits living abroad and the natural beauty and ethos of Kashmir. Then there are human forces who have come in the way of terrorists - ladies who saved many innocent people from the militants and others who had to flee. In refugee camps Pandit exiles continue to eke out a sub-human life. All this forms backdrop of my novel. The Novel is written in Nastalik Kashmiri.
KS: Who are your favourite authors?
ADM: Kalidas in Sanskrit, Ghalib in Urdu, Shakespeare and TS Eliot in English, Nagarjun, HR Bachan, Sumitra Nandan Pant in Hindi, Lal Ded, Krishnjoo Razdan and Abdul Ahad Azad in Kashmiri, Saidi, Rumi, Hafiz in Persian. Among Russians my pet authors have been Chekhov, Mayakovsky, Gorky and Sholokov.
Kalidas' style, similes, vocabulary and description of nature have impressed me. Ghalib appeals to me because of his language-choice of words and their usage, liberal ideas, theme of ghazals, style, depth of poetry. Kalidas and Ghalib are greater poets than Iqbal. Lal Ded has used powerful similes to explain the philosophy of Shaivism. Her Vaakh style is crisp and can be remembered easily. Krishna Joo Razdan has great artistic beauty. His leelas carry sweet words. He was a shaivite and Leela poet of great calibre. He knew Sanskrit, Urdu and Persian. Azad's poetry was based on social realism. Saidi, Rumi, Hafiz-all had sweetness of language. They had depth in their poetry; nature, beauty, love are abundant in their poetry. They were liberal, had good human feelings.
KS: What are your observations on languages akin to Kashmiri-Pogli, Siraji, Kishtwari?
ADM: Due to big influx of Kashmiri migrants in Doda region, their mother tongue got mixed up with local languages. The latter are versions of this hybridisation.
KS: What about the impact of Kashmiri on Dogri?
ADM: One of my papers was published by Kurukhetra University in which I highlighted certain proverbs, words common to two languages. Two factors are responsible for it - Geographical contiguity and migration of Kashmiri people to Jammu region.
KS: What is the impact of Sanskrit on Kashmir?
ADM: 70% of Kashmiri wordstock is impacted by Sanskrit.
KS: What is the future of Kashmiri Language? How good is the readership of your work?
ADM: I cannot predict the future of Kashmiri Language at the level of people among Displaced Kashmiris. The writers and those who want to keep the language alive are doing a marvellous job, bringing out many journals which carry articles/poems in Kashmiri. There are websites which promote Kashmiri language and literature.
Then there are problems which are not specific to Displaced Kashmiris only. The audience in general remains limited. 'Reading Kashmiri will not fetch jobs for our children' is the standard reply we hear. Script is also difficult. Even then we have produced good stuff in short story, poetry, novel writing. The problem is that it does not reach people, the readership continues to remain small. This is true of my works as well. My writings which have been translated into English have received good reviews.
KS: What is the controversy about the script? What are your personal views?
ADM: In Devnagri Kashmiri can be written well. Nastaliq script has been in use for quite good time, many books have been published in this script. Roman script is little difficult for writing Kashmiri, mistakes galore while writing in this script. Reviving Sarda, the original script of Kashmiri requires huge effort. Mehjoor was an advocate of Sarda script, while Amin Kamil favoured Roman script for use. I personally hold the view that there should no restrictions for use of any script for writing Kashmiri.
KS: Do you originally hail from Zanapur?
ADM: We originally belong to Kawadara, in downtown Srinagar. Pt. Govind Koul, my grandfather dealt in cloth business. He used to bring his merchandise to Zanapur for sale, and would stay at Pt. Reshi Bhat's house. Subsequently, he married Reshi Bhat's sister, Zoon and settled at Zanapura. He had five sons, Kailash Koul my father was the youngest. My grandmother was a brave lady, who could get hold of a hundred sheep and then put salt ball into their mouth.
KS: How did Majboor get associated with you?
ADM: My actual name is Arjun Nath Koul. It was changed to Arjun Dev by authorities at Dayanand Mahavidalaya, Lahore. Once in Srinagar I happened to see a movie, Majboor. It befitted the conditions of the time and my life. I adopted it, despite advice to the contrary by my well-wishers.
KS: Zanapur of your childhood and adolescent years must have been quite backward?
ADM: It was quite backward, with a vast impoverished peasantry. There were just 2-3 shops, and same number of government employees, doing small jobs as Patwari or in Education department. Pt. Dina Nath Raina alias Tar was first matriculate of the village. I was the second one. There was stark poverty both among Muslims as well as Pandits. The occasion for taking meat was Shivratri festival or when a guest would drop in. The milk was not for sale, neighbours would share it freely. Barter system was in vogue. The people were full of compassion, love and brotherhood. Poverty did not stand in the way of hospitality.
KS: Where did you have your schooling?
ADM: I had my primary education in Zanapur. The school was housed in a shanty house, its mud floor would emit stink. We had teachers from both communities - Pandits as well as Moulvis. A teacher who stayed at our house used to give me free tuitions in the evening.
From 6th Class I joined Govt Middle School, Raghu Nath Mandir, Srinagar. Sh S.L. Labroo was the Head Master. He used rod quite liberally. English was taught from 6th standard. I stayed at Bohri Kadal. As my health deteriorated I was put in Govt. Middle School (Anglovernacular), Shopian. My school was 6 miles away from Jamnagri, where I was putting up. In summers I would get up at 5 AM and reach school by 7 O'Clock. The school would close at 1 PM. I would take food on the way by the side of a stream. My father was posted in Shopian Court. I passed 8th in 1937. It was during this time I happened to see first time a Kashmiri Pandit who had done his Masters in Arts.
Another incident worth recalling is when Inspector Schools Mehndi Ratta visited our school. Boys used to wear Pagri. He reached out to a boy, who looked quite shabby in his Pagri and Coat. The Inspector asked him the reason for his uncleanliness. Without battling an eyelid, the boy replied: "Sir, I am poor". It was the standard excuse those days. Pt Dina Nath Hanjura was a teacher in National High School, Shopian. He was quite renowned for excellent teaching.
Since Mission School, Anantnag was only a Middle School, I was sent back to Srinagar and enrolled in MP School, Dilawar Khan in 9th Class. This school was located in idyllic surroundings, near the Mangleshwar Bhairav. In late 1980s when I visited the area I was dismayed to find that neither the marsh nor the house where I stayed existed any more. The marsh used to look so beautiful. The school had an excellent ambience, with majestic Chinars abounding in its compound and a playfield in its periphery.
My Form teacher was Sh. BN Chattoo. He had fancy to talk in English. Two of the Head Masters of MP School had earned nicknames due to their peculiar mannerism. Pt. Radhakrishan Koul was called Meem, an English lady, for his attire. He was smartly dressed with a neck tie and a well-fashioned turban. The other teacher, Gh. Rasool was nicknamed 'Tabardar'. He resorted to corporal punishment too often. We had a student from an affluent family of shawls. His excellent dress singled him out in the school. I took my Matriculation Examination at Mission School, Lal Chowk.
KS: Where did you stay during your years at MP School?
ADM: I stayed with my pufi Zai Ded, married to Pt. Aftab Joo Gadroo of Bohri Kadal. After the death of my pufi, the brothers of her husband-Ved Lal, Ishar Dass and Sudarshan looked after me well. Ved Lal Ji was a draftsman and lived in style. He used to host a musical fiesta on his birthdays. The celebrated singer Sham Lal Kutwal would be the singer on the occasion. Kutwal would be served whisky before dinner. This would help him entertain the audience by churning out melodious gazals, Leelas and folk songs throughout the night. Till then I had no idea about what Whisky was. I presumed Kutwal was given water from Chashmashahi spring to clear his throat. The bazar of Bohri Kadal, with its famous Gada Kocha (Fish Market) is still fresh in my memory.
KS: What are your experiences of Srinagar of that time?
ADM: I liked the city immensely. I alongwith my friends would get up at 4 AM and often go for 'pratikhana' (circumambulation) of Hari Parbat. Tulmulla was a popular shrine frequented by Pandits. The Pandit ladies would go to Hari Parbat in wee hours without any fear. The charming Dal Lake and White Wooden Horse at Residency Road fascinated me. Watching Dussehra was quite popular, people would throng to the venue in tongas. A tonga would charge one anna as fare from Zanakdal to Lal Chowk. Cars were rare.
Daily Martand and Khidmat were popular papers. The former, priced at one anna, came early and was delivered at home. I had not seen a ten rupee currency note till I passed matriculation. Bus service to suburbs was not regular. For going to Srinagar we had to foot the distance to Bijbehara and wait endlessly for the bus to come from Anantnag. At times the bus would play truant and come the next day. The fare to Srinagar was six annas.
KS: What was the living standard of people those days?
ADM: The people lived below poverty line. Pandits used to take Kehwa in the morning. Bread would sell for one paisa a loaf, Kulcha for ½ a paisa. Kids were served 1/4th or ½ the loaf, yet they would not grumble. Pocket money was unthinkable. Commodities were cheaper, money was even scarcer. The rates were: Saag - 16 packs a paisa, meat-4 annas a pav, nadru-two seers for 4 annas etc.
KS: What did you do after passing Matriculation?
ADM: I worked on a leave vacancy in the State Cooperative Department for six months at Karan Nagar, there was a cooperative Training School. Students were taught about the Cooperative Movement there. Abdul Aziz, a lecturer was quite pleased with my performance here. For a while I worked as an apprentice in the court. This did not appeal to me. Meanwhile, I applied for admission in 'Dayanand Mahavidalaya', Lahore. Veteran Broadcaster Pt. Shamboo Nath Bhat Haleem belonged to my area and was an active Arya Samaj worker. He was already a student of the institution and had asked me to apply for admission. I was selected for Sahitya Ratan, a 4-year course in Sanskrit. Punjab University would allow these students to sit in MA English later on.
KS: Did you have any contact with Arya Samaj in Kashmir?
ADM: Not much. I knew activists like Prem Nath Bira, Dina Nath Bamchuntoo etc. Patriotic and social reform elements in Arya Samaj would appeal to me. I was also impressed by Satyarth Prakash of Swami Dayanand.
KS: You had received an offer of 'Nazir' in court around the same time.
ADM: Only few days after I landed at Lahore I received two telegrams from my father. He had asked me to return to Srinagar without any delay to join as 'Nazir' in the court. As I did not respond, he himself came some days later. I left it to Shamboo Nath Bhat Haleem, my senior in the institution, to explain to him the advantages of my continuing education here. Father left with great reluctance.
KS: Pandit leader Kashyap Bandhu had also worked with Arya Samaj in Lahore. What were his political views?
ADM: He used to be at Virjanand Ashram. The ashram management gave him his new name. He came to Kashmir after the events of July 1931. I have already published a 40-page biographical essay on him in Urdu. He used to send me 'Desh', both at Zanapora and at Lahore. This would keep me abreast of latest political situation at home. In the years he was active in the anti-autocratic movement he supported socialism. In fact, he, wrote an editorial in Desh: 'Samajvad Hi Qiyon", explaining the virtues of socialism. In his later years when I was posted in his home village Geru I found him changed. He would use a peculiar epithet to describe communists. Bandhu Ji once told me that his religious identity marred his political career when he had all the potential to emerge as foremost leader of Kashmiris
KS: When did you see Bandhuji first time?
ADM: I met Bandhuji first time in Vasanta School Chowk office of Desh, near Kralkhud before going to Lahore. His matamal was in Zanapora. At Geru where I was posted in later years I would meet him every Friday. This provided me the material for writing an exhaustive essay on him. He had good diction and wrote literary Urdu. His journalistic talent was superb. Bandhuji kept a good library.
KS: Did you get any stipend at Dayanand Mahavidalaya?
ADM: Rs 40 per month was given as stipend. It was quite sufficient to meet our expenses. One Pt. Raghav Ram Bhat of Badsargam, who was an Arya Samaj worker and served in Army, used to send me Rs 10 per month. After becoming an Arya Samaj worker, he changed his name to Mahasha Raghav Ram.
KS: How was the atmosphere at the institution Hostel?
ADM: Lahore was a historic city, but quite hot in summer. There was no dearth of water in the hostel. The hostel had spacious accommodation. We had to wash clothes ourselves. Classes would start at 7 AM and finish at 1 PM. A glass of milk was served at 9 AM. There was no tea nor could we go to watch films. The hostel looked like a mini-India with students from different regions studying here. We came to know about each other's culture. It was a very cordial atmosphere. We discussed politics, Kashmir, different languages and cultures etc.
KS: Who were your contemporaries at the college?
ADM: We had students from all parts of India - Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Garhwal, Karnataka etc. One Narayanan went on to become Professor of English at JNU. Satyavarta of Garhwal became a painter of repute. Shamboo Nath Bhat Haleem became a famous broadcaster. He has developed Kashmiri section of Koshur Samachar. Haleem Sahib rejuvenated Kashmiri news of AIR, introducing innovative Kashmiri words and bringing life in news.
KS: Something about the teachers who taught here?
ADM: Prof. Ishwar Chandra taught philosophy and was a giant among scholars. A nice human being he was an agnostic. He loved to take classes in hat and knickers (shorts). Professor Chandra was liberal to the core. He always wore a smile on his face, anger was alien to his nature. Students had free access to him. He spoke fluent Sanskrit. At times his lectures looked too terse. He would often take us to Sanskrit Goshties which were held once a week in DAV College. Leading luminaries of Sanskrit would take part in these literary gatherings. Prof. Chandra's presentations would be flawless, he would not pause while making delivery of presentations.
Swami Vedanand Tirath was the Principal of Daya Nand Mahavidalaya. A profound Vedic scholar, he had complete mastery over Urdu, Arabic, Sanskrit and English. He was a true 'Sanyasi'. His meals were frugal. At times it would be my honour to fetch his meals from Krishna Nagar. He invariably took 4 phulkas and a Katori of Dal. His simple big residential room used to be stuffed with hundreds of books, covered nicely in ochre-coloured cloth. His mastery over Vedas made him a legend in his lifetime. He had authored a number of books on Vedic research. Swamiji was a virtuoso in the art of translation. He could effortlessly translate from one language to the other-be it Urdu, Sanskrit, Arabic or English.
Prof. Shiv Dutt was another great teacher who taught Arabic. This was my optional subject.
KS: You haven't mentioned anything about Hindi. What was its status in those days?
ADM: Those days Hindi was called the language of ladies, mainly English and Urdu were in vogue.
KS: What about the Library?
ADM: The institution had a big library and a fine reading room. It was here I got the opportunity to go through the works of Munshi Prem Chand. The 'Mangal Sutra', his last novel was not available. It remains my regret that even upto this time I haven't been able to get hold of this book. The library used to get all the newspapers and journals available in Lahore.
KS: What about the Lahore of those days?
ADM: Milap, Partap and Zamindar, all dailies in Urdu were published here. Times of India, Vishal Bharat, Illustrated weekly of India were freely available. I had the privilege to see Khushal Chand Khurasand, the editor and owner of Milap in his editorial office. A staunch Arya Samaji, he turned into a Sanyasi adopting the name as Anand Swami. Mahasha Krishen was editor of Partap. He used to wear dhoti and would dictate daily editorial to a clerk while enjoying a walk in his garden. Thakur Dutt, the proprietor of Amritdhara used to entertain students with good dishes.
Allama Iqbal had passed away. His Kothi was at Majang Road. Shalamar garden had an artificial hillock. It was full of fountains and Jamun trees. Generally, we visited places like Wachoowali, Shah Alami Gate, Anarkali Bazar, Mall Road etc. The main city - Wachoowali quarter had narrow lanes, where houses had no windows. Light pierced through the roof. It was true of even Punjab Assembly building, which was otherwise an architectural marvel. Its roof was covered with glass.
In Shah Alami Darwaza, the old city area, the gate carried beautiful life-size frescoes-which depicted (Nightingale) bulbul resting on a tree. Model Town, a new colony had come up. Houses were better ventilated here, roads too were wider. In the Anarkali area big houses and shops used to brim with bright light. It had a big bazar, to which British customers would throng. We had heard about Hira Mandi also. On the Mall Road Britishers used to enjoy tea under big Chhatris at roadside stalls.
We did not engage in any political activity while at college, but often went to hear speeches of political leaders. I once heard Raja Gazanfar Ali's speech in Assembly. He would roar like a lion. The other leaders whose speeches I had the opportunity to listen to were-Jinnah, Nehru, BPL Bedi, Nawab Ali Yavar Jung. Maharaja Hari Singh also came once. On another occasion Yavar Jung held the audience spell-bound by speaking for over 2½ hours.
Kashmiri labourers used to work in Rice and Flour Mills of Lahore. They would feel happy on meeting us and would narrate their tales of woe.
KS: What were your experiences with Arya Samaj here?
ADM: From Lahore I once went to attend Hindu Mahasabha conference at Amritsar. There was a cane charge, which left Late Shyama Prasad Mukerjee injured. During this trip I also learnt how wealthy people were misusing religious organisations to promote their business. Baba Gurmukh Singh would give Rs 1 lakh for Vedic Prachar but extract Rs 7 lakh in return. This made me disillusioned with Arya Samaj. In Amritsar Conference one lakh people had attended the Mahasabha Conference.
by Arjan Dev Majboor
With the passing of away of Nadim, an era in Kashmiri Language came to an end. He gave a new form to Kashmiri poetry. Always bristling with energy, a magician in the usage of words in colloquial Kashmiri, Nadim was foremost a symbol of Kashmiriness and a lover of peace and humanity.
Nadim had a magnetic personality-tall frame, his prominent eyes gave a feeling that he wanted to convey something. He usual wore Achkan with just three buttons, a pant and worn-out shoes. He didn't use pheeran at home. The great poet came from a poor family, which resided in Sheshiyar locality of Habbakadal. Nadim was a family man. I remember how he helped his wife by preparing vegetables, kniving these geometrically.
He was totally convinced by ideals of scientific socialism as propounded by Marx, Engels and others. Nadim became the torch-bearer of the progressive literary movement in Kashmir. He made two ends meet by working as a teacher in Hindu High School and supplementing the income by taking up tuitions. During Sadiq regime, he was taken as MLC (Teachers' Constituency) and Assistant Director, Social Education.
Nadim's poetic style was fresh like the water of a mountain spring. It was forceful, bubbling with new ideas, aimed to better lot of Kashmiris and promote peace.
My first encounter with the great poet took place many decades ago at Habbakadal Chowk near the shop of famous book-seller, Ali Mohd. & Sons. The proprietor Ali Mohammad gave due respect to poets and literary persons. He would sell even old books to us. I had gone to the bookshop to buy Emile Ludwig's 'Goethe'. It sold for a rupee or so then. Nadim invited me to join the literary meetings of Cultural Congress, which used to be held at Exhibition Grounds. I accepted the offer gladly and immersed myself whole heartedly in the activities of Cultural Congress. From 1947 to 1954 I used to attend weekly meetings and the big public functions at Kralpora, Khan Sahib, Soibug, Lasjan, Kulgam, Zainapora and "Bazam-e-Kwong Posh" in various mohallas of Srinagar without fail. I also remained Sub-Editor of 'Kwong-Posh', the organ of Cultural Congress.
I had an association with Nadim for over 25 years. He had some shortcomings too, but then who is free from these. I used to meet him in the days of cultural movement once a week at his home. At times when I knocked at their door, his wife would come out and say Nadim Sahib was not there. I would feel dejected. Perhaps, it was conveyed to avoid me. This was not so always, as the meetings were fixed at different places. He wrote me a letter from China, where he had gone to attend a Peace Conference with Indian delegation.
Each and every scholar maintains that Kashmiri is one of the ancient languages of India. Its peculiar pronunciation of some alphabets, its structure and a vast vocabulary are testimony to the above fact. Due to its linguistic patterns and literary works many European scholars have done a lot of research work on this language and various genres of its literature.
The survey of Northern Indian Languages done by George Abraham Grierson included Kashmiri into his work and gave his full volume No-8 to explain the origin and development of this language. He concluded that Shina of Dardic-group of languages is the origin of Kashmiri. Some scholars said that the Hebrew is the origin of this ancient language. But it did not cut the ice. The research continued on; Dr. T.N. Ganjoo Head of the Dept. of Hindi, Kashmir University, some twenty year back in his Departmental Journal said that the Sanskrit is the origin of Kashmiri and he dedicated the whole Journal to this issue. Later , after some time his book on the same subject came to the market. This book gives a detailed account of the evolution of this language and proves the view point of the author of various tables and examples.
After Independence the research work on various Indian Languages was taken into hand. Due to introduction of Linguistics some Universities did a commendable job in this direction. Central Institute of Indian Languages Mysore (Karnataka) along with its regional centres helped various writers of Indian Languages to publish their research works besides the books published by the C.I.I.L. Though a good number of books were published by the Kashmiri writers and the Academy of Art, Culture and Languages besides books and translations published by the Sahitya Academy New Delhi, very little work was done on the origin-aspect of this language. Research is a continuous process & with this new facts come to light. The historic-research in a language brings forth many facts about the civilization of certain area and some time, earlier view-points need a change. This article is being written in keeping this fact in view.
The new researches include Dravidian group of languages, Vedic, Prakrit, Sanskrit etc. Dr. Rambilas Sharma a well-known critic said that though G. Abraham Grierson did a lot of work about Indian languages, but taking into consideration the present development of linguistic science, his work is not sufficient and more is needed to be done in this direction. One important question raised by some scholars is that Aryans did not come from outside but they were the real inhabitants of India. This controversy is on and both sides try to establish the fact with historic and pre-historic facts.
As regards Dravidians, Hunger Ford Holdic in his work-India says, that Dravidians have come from outside India. He says
"There is no doubt that Dravids entered Balochistan prior to Aryans. They went forth from Balochistan to rehabilitate themselves in the South of India. 'Holdic' names them as "Toorani" He further says that Dravids came from the green lands of Mesopotamia and Persian Hilly areas, in groups and entered the territory of India.".
According to Kalhan's Rajtarangini some Dravid Brahmins were settled at Sempora when Raja Jaya Simha (1128-1149) ruled over Kashmir. This place is on the bank of Vitasta and it is said that this village is the birth place of great Lallashwari. Prior to this, says Raja Tarangini, that Dravids lived in Sidha Khetra. The place has not been identified.
According to Grierson, Maxmuller, Suniti Baboo and Dharmendra Verma the evolution of Indian Languages goes like this :
1. Lokik Sanskrit from Vedic Sanskrit
2. Prakrit from Lokik Sanskrit
3. Apabhramsha from Prakrit
4. Some Modern Indian (languages like; Marathi, Gujrati, Bangla, Hindi etc. from Prakrit.
But Nemi Chandra Shastri, quoting Dr Jain explains the development as below :
"The Prakrita, evolved from Ancient Aryan Bhasha Chhaandas. The Lokik Sanskrit also has its' roots in 'Chhandas'."
Taking this into consideration Prakrit and Sanskrit; both are sister languages and their origin is the same.
Sh. Venkatesh Ketkar has done a remarkable work on Indian Languages. According to his research Prakrit was in common use in the time of Mahabharata. The Prakrita of the primary age was not much different than Sanskrit.
It is a fact that the relation of Prakrit and Sanskrit is historically analysed, but the importance of Prakrita has not been fully explained. Ketkar takes Indian History to the Age of Mahabharata and he gets his research work 'Ancient Maharashtra' to the period of Saatvahanas. Ketkar says that even the great Grammarian Panini, when taking Vedic Sooktaas into consideration maintains the form of Prakrita as different. He does not see that Prakrita originated from Sanskrita.
Taking these facts into consideration famous Researcher Dr. Raj Mal Bora says, that we should think over Aryan and Dravidian Languages while keeping Prakrit into the midst of these two language groups. He maintains that there is no doubt that the area of Sanskrit language is the whole Bharata, as the Sanskrit is written in the same form, from Kashmir to Kerala. But on the other side the Geographic Areas of Prakrit language have been denoted in the whole of India. It is also possible that some Prakrits must have been extinct giving their place to new modern Indian Languages.
Pishachi is one of the important Prakrits. This has been named as GandharaPrakrit also. Panini, belonged to Shalatur near Peshavar and in his times the forms of Prakritas were in common use. Panini's age comes prior to Gautam Buddha. One more renowned Grammarian Patanjali came into prominence after Mauriya Rule. The period between these two Grammar Scholars is the age of the progress of Prakritas.
According to Dr. Raj Mal Bora the formation of Prakritas with Vedic-Sanskrit is Pishachi. Thus Vedic and Paishachi seem reflection of each other.
Ketkar says that "Mag" have ruled Peshavar in the olden times and it seems that 'Peshawar' word is related to Pishachi.
Dr. Ram Bilas Sharma, says that Pishach means 'Pishang' and it indicates brown or yellow colour. The great lexican 'Sayin' says that it means "hiraneya" or yellow. "Pish" in Sanskrit has been used as beautification. It has been used in the same meaning by the languages of Indo-European Group. "Pish", also means raw flesh. In Atharva Veda "Pishach" word has been used along with 'Gandharvas' and 'Apsaras'. Pishach have been living in North-Western India. According to Neelmat Purana the field of activity of 'Pishachas' has remained in Himachal & Kashmir. Kalhana mentions Pishachak pura in his work. A hill named Pishachaka is near the famous 'Meeru' mountain. Kabera, who was the king of Pishachas lived in a palace situated at 'Pishachka' hill. Neelmata clearly mentions of Kubera and gives a detailed account of how Raja Neel of Nagas with the help of Chandra Dev ended the enemosity between Nagas & Pishachas and the "Gad Batta" (Fish and rice), Khechi mavas (The auspicious day when all K.Ps., prepare "khich di" at their homes) are celebrated even today and these remind us of Nagas, Pishachas & Yakhshas.
In Pishachi Prakrita 'Magdhi', 'Ardha Magdhi' and 'Shorseni' are eminent. Ram Sarman and Markandeya mention eleven Pishachi Prakritas in the following Saloka
Kancheya Desha, Pandeya, Panchala, Gowda, Magdhi, Vrachad, Dakhshinateya, Shorseni, Kykeya, Shabar and Dravid, are the eleven Pishachi Prakrits.
The 'Pishachi' of Kykeya was taken as the standard Pishachi. In the period of Panini, the forms of 'Magdhi', 'Ardha Magdhi', Shorsaini and Maharashtri Prakritas were in vogue. This shows that the branches of Pishachi had spread from Peshawar to Sri-Lanka.
P.C. Bagchi mentions Kashmirikas in Choolika Pishachi. This fact is also supported by China-Sanskrit vocabulary. A scholar Lakhshmi Dhar mentions eleven Pishach areas as below :
"Kekeya, Balahika, Sahya, Nepal, Kuntal, Gandhar, Sudes, Bhot, Haiva and Kanojana"
According to Neelmat Purana Pishachas earlier lived for six months in Kashmir and later they began to live with Nagas peacefully and settled in some areas of the valley.
These facts indicate that the real origin of Kashmiri language was Pishachi, which was an important language of the whole country. It was due to this that Gunadeya wrote Seven Lac Salokas in this very language. This book called Brihat-Katha was used by Brahmins at Bhori-Kadal (Srinagar) for prediction of future in the year 1936. I was a sixth class student at that time.
Due to the ignorance of the King of Patliputra, Gunadeya did not receive any appreciation from the king and burnt six lac salokas in fire in a forest. Som Deva, a famous Sanskrit Scholar translated the stories of Gunadeya into Sanskrit under the title of Katha-Sarit-Sagar (The sea of stories). This famous book gives a complete picture of the ancient India especially its economic and social conditions. Som Deva was also a scholar in Pishachi. This shows that Pishachi was a language of eminence during this period.
According to the footnote given by Sh. R.S. Pandit in his translation of Raj Tarangini of Kalhana, Khemindra, a famous Sanskrit Scholar & poet of Kashmir tells that he was the first person to render into Sanskrit the work of Gunadeya The "Brihat Katha", which was in Pishachi. This work composed in ancient Pushto in the first century of Cr. Era must have rivalled the Maha Bharata as it is stated to have consisted of one lac Salokas. Bhatta Som Deva a younger contemporary of Khemindra, translated into Sanskrit Gunadev's work at the request of Suryamati, who became a 'Sati' in 1801. Which is now famous as Katha-Sarit Sagara, translated into numerous modern languages.
While writing this article I came to know that Professor Sateya Bhama Razdan (Linguistic Dept. of Kashmir University) has published her book-Kashmiri Grammar History and Structure, and she too has been working on the Pishachi Kashmiri theme. This book is really a new addition to the topic of this article. She has given the origin and the structure of Kashmiri language in detail. Her opinion is based on theoretical as well as the practical aspects of this issue.
This new book is an approach to go deeper with a new zeal towards the origin of Kashmiri language. She has compared both Pishachi & Kashmiri and I hope that linguistic scholars will evaluate her work, giving their opinion about this important work.
I have also requested Dr. Raj Mal Bhora a famous scholar of Indian Languages to write a detailed article on the origin of Kashmiri language. I hope that his article will also be of importance to know the origin of a language which is one of the important ancient languages of our country.
The author is one of the renowned poets of Kashmir; a Sahitya Academy award winner. His recent book of poems, "Waves Vol. II", was published by Kashmir Sabha, Calcutta.
Kashmiri Pandits have produced a galaxy of saints, writers, leaders and administrators, Sh. Bandhu ji is one of these luminaries. I have written about his early life and social reform movement in an Article in the Hindi section of the special issue of 'VITASTA', Calcutta brought out in his memory.
I would like to deal with his attainments in the field of journalism and his success and drawbacks in the field of politics in this piece.
In one of the issues of the famous Urdu Newspaper 'RANBIR' Sh. Mulk Rai Saraf, the fore-runner of journalism in J&K State says :-
"The pen of Kashyap Bandhu has shown its might I hope that he will achieve heights in the field of journalism in future".
Sh. Bandhu started writing when he was at Lahore. Lahore shaped him as a journalist and he remained connected with the Editorial Boards of the AKHBARI-AM", "AKHBARI KASHMIRI" and "BAHARI-KASHMIR", all Urdu papers. In the thirties of 20th century Sh. Bandhu was called to Kashmir by youth leaders of 'Yuvak Sabha' which later was named as-'Sanatan Dharma Yuvak Sabha'. Martand, the Urdu daily was started on lst Feb.1931. Professor Abdul Qadir Sarwari, well known Urdu writer and author says in his book 'KASHMIR MAIN URDU.'-
"Martand" is among the oldest newspapers of the valley. It was published from 1931 to 1969 regularly, Kashyap Bandhu was the first Editor of "Martand'. At Srinagar I have seen that this paper used to reach its subscribers early in the morning and was read with interest. "Martand", name was suggested by Sh. Gwasha Lal Koul. This paper published a weekly Adabi (Literary) edition also. According to famous Kashmiri poet Abdul Ahad Azad's Book -'KASHMIRI ZABAAN AUR SHAYIRI", Professor Devender Sateyarthi, a prominent folklorist wrote about famous Kashmiri Poet MAHJOOR, in the issue of 20th Magha 1991 (Bikrami) of the Martand. "Mahjoor's Persian poem - "Guli Veerana"-was published on 27th of Magh 1991 (1931 C.A.) in this paper. It is note-worthy that Professor Sarwari while writing his book- "Kashmir Main Urdu" - went for several months to Sheetalnath to study the old files of the daily Martand. While writing another book "Tareekhi Adbiyati-Kashmir", which remained incomplete, Professor Sarwari says that he has been benefitted by the files of "Martand" while collecting material for his book. Professor Sarwari further says :- "The contribution of the Martand is much more than other papers of the valley". According to Dr. Brij Premi, Sarwari met Sh. Kashyap Bandhu also in connection with his research work on literary history of Kashmir. This shows the capability of Bandhu Ji in establishing journalism in Kashmir. The editorials written by him were humourous as well as striking. Besides editorials, Bandhu Ji wrote "Chalant" and "Paagal Ki Diary" for a long period. Both these columns created waves among the readers. "Chalant" was a serious column and "Paagal Ki Diary", a humourous one. One of the topics of Chalant, for example was - "Banami Shukur Devta Northern District" - In this column Sh. Bandhu in a humourous way flays the Waziri Wazarat of Northern Division of the valley of Kashmir. He demands explanation from the official for not solving the common problems of the people.
After establishing "Martand" as a newspaper of importance Sh. Bandhu left it. This was due to his resignation from "Yuvak Sabha". The headline of the editorial of that day when he left Martand was "Tabdeeliay Qalb" (Change of heart).
Sh. Bandhu continued his journalistic pursuits and started the weekly "KESRI". Now he was quite free to show his forceful pen. He wrote freely against the establishment. Under the orders of Maharaja Hari Singh the publication of this famous paper was stopped in 1938. Sh. Bandhu did not stop, he started another weekly The "DESH" (Urdu). This weekly became popular throughout the State. The paper while highlighting the problems of common Kashmiris, wrote forceful editorials against the feudal rulers and the bureaucracy without any fear. I have personally seen Sh. Bandhu Ji on his desk in the office of the "Desh" at Aga Hamam in Srinagar. He would attend his office in a Khadi Kurta and Dhoti. He wore big black rimmed spectacles and looked like a leader. Some of the Editorials of the prestigious weekly 'DESH' are as follows
1. Mohtarimoon Ki conference' (The conference of the respected)
2. The Land to the Tiller (Zameen Kisan Di)
3. K. C. S. Umedwaroon Kay Liay guess paper (A guess paper for the candidates of the K. C. S. candidates)
4. What is socialism?
Sh Bandhu joined National Conference after some time.He remained Editor of the daily "Khidmat" for a short period also.
While heralding various movements Sh. Bandu was jailed many times by the then Government. The account of his being put behind bars is as follows
1. At Lahore he was jailed in connection with the "Sanders case".
2. In Roti agitation, which started at Jammu and Srinagar simultaneously, Bandhu was kept in jail from 1933 to 1934.
3. In 1946 he was arrested for taking active part in "Quit Kashmir Movement" but was released in 1947. The total period of his being in prison comes to 10 years.
Famous journalist Shri G. M. Sofi writes in an issue of "Srinagar Times" (Urdu Daily):
"Sh. Bandhu remained in jail for eight years durings the period from 1931 to 1961. He remained in jail with Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in Bhadarwah, Riyasi and Udhampur too.'
Bandhu had a typical character. He was against feudal autocracy. He enjoyed simple life. His ideas were secular and he did not tolerate corrupt officers. When he became the Director General of "Dehat Sudhar Department"of J & K Govt, he introduced "Hal Sheeri", (Self help movement in the villages.)
As Director General of Dehat Sudhar Department he got built many roads like "Shopian Ahrabal Road, Nowpora Baba Rishi Road" and the roads leading to "Deb-Aakoora", "Toolamula" and 'Ganderbal". He also established some horticulture nurseries.
In 1964 Sh. Kashyp Bandhu was appointed as Project Officer Sonawari in North Kashmir by the Sadiq Government. He completed the project in due course of time and this low land area which was prone to floods was made flood free and the yield of this area was doubled.
Bandhu ji could not spend a peaceful marital life. He remained generally away from his family. I have never seen his wife or his son with him. They rarely came to their home at Geeru.
His wife was posted at Jammu. I don't know the reasons behind their separation and , who was responsible for this between the couple.
Kashyap Bandhu could not do much in-the field of politics when he took to Government service. He was a leader and a journalist and ought to have contributed in these areas -only. Loyalties changed in the National Conference. This Organisation could not fulfil the promises made in the document of 'Naya Kashmir". There was no change in the working of bureaucratic set-up, which hampered the pace of the development of the state. The gangs created by some leaders made people angry and they remained off the movement. Corruption was high, especially during the period when Sheikh Abdullah took the reins of the state for the second time.
According to 10th February 1999 issue of 'Srinagar Times' when Bandhu Ji was asked about the power tussle of 1953, he said :-
"Upto 1948 all leaders of National Conference remained united; when power came into the hands of this organisation, the groupism started, which weakened the Movement. According to Bandhu Ji the Centre too was responsible for breaking the unity of the National Conference.
When Bandhu Ji retired from the post of the Project Officer, he never wished to come in power again. Whenever I met him he would complain about the functioning of the political system in the state. He hated officials who fleeced the poor people. At a later stage he was disillusioned. He would talk to a Congressman in one tone and to a National Conference man in a different manner.
During his last years of life he devoted his whole time to reading and writing. He remembered hundreds of Urdu couplets, which he would use at proper occasion. His memory was sharp. He was proud of Indian culture especially of the Vedic Age.
I have seen him brooding and thinking on his bed in front of a table. He would hardly move out except for basking in the sun. He was pained to see communal clashes raising their ugly head in various parts of the country. Common people came to him; anyone who approached him for a recommendation was given a letter addressed to the concerned person. He took his meals at 8 p.m. in the evening. He was not fond of taking much tea. He relished milk, cheese and some sweets. Sh. Jagar Nath of Geeru used to get a thali of rice and vegetables for him, cooked from his own kitchen or from the kitchen adjacent to his sitting room. Sh. M. L. Bhat, Asstt. Registrar Co-operative Society Pulwama attended on Bandhu Ji for the last three years but at the time of Bandhu ji's death, he too was away.
Bandhu Ji had a couple of cows. He had engaged a villager to feed them. Milk and curds were always available at his place. He hardly attended feasts and parties. He reportedly wrote a history of his times which could unveil the ugly face of some politicians, if published. God knows as to who took the book after Bandhu Ji passed away. It is being said that the book was taken by his son and he was advised not to publish the book as it would give rise to controversies. I can't say whether it was true.
The tiger brand leader and journlist was now jailed in his own house. He was not in a happy mood always. Whenever I put him some questions, he would open his heart and talk without reservation for hours together. He even talked about one or two of his love affairs to me. He was beaten up by his own community people when he took an egg at a shop in his boyhood in their presence. These were the times in which he was brought up.
In his last years of life I have sometimes seen him living alone in his huge house. I even wrote to him as to how he lived lonely, while he had always a busy life during his earlier age. Like a freedom fighter he fought loneliness and tension. He was happy to receive any person who called upon him. His brother-in-law Sh. Gobind joo Razdan once told me that Bandhu Ji has written his autobiography and has kept a good sum for its publication. This could reveal many hidden comers of his life and the times he lived in. But the book did not come out. Nobody knows what happened to this book.
I sometimes wrote to him from my home in Kashmir and he would positively respond. On 23rd of March, 1979 he wrote a letter to me. The letter is important as it sheds light on his correct date of birth. The letter runs as follows Geeru 23rd of March, 1979.
Dear Brother, May God bless you.
Tomorrow is my birthday. This is to say that I shall
complete eighty years of my life and shall step up in eighty first year.
"ZINDAGI TERAY LIAY MAIN NAY BAHUT RAQS KIYA,
ABH YEH HASRAT HAI KABHI TUJ KO NACHA KAY DEKHOON."
'O life I danced for you a lot, now I want to see you dancing for sometime.'
Your letter in which you had written about the sad demise of your mother, reached me in time. While reading the letter, I thought for long. I felt that 100 to 110 years back two families were tied in a chain. I still remember my childhood when this chain was quite strong. The chain would jingle with a small push, thus there was some restlessness in the atmosphere. The jingling of the chain would effect the atmosphere for a long time. Then a time came when only the chain would jingle but the push was so weak that it lost its sound.
At last the chain did not appear. Your mother was the last link of this chain, which was tied to our home : See that chain too has broken. I have heard my mother saying :-
'I was the daughter from that very home (Zainapora) I was the sister from that very home. I was some one of this very home."
My brother and his wife had been out of the state in December, when I read out your letter to them, they saw towards me with an empty mind and empty eyes. This has happened with the times. A forgotten story! A tasteless old book! Perhaps, some-time my mother would have said:-
"YAAD AAEINGAY ZAMANAY KAY
MASHOQOON KAY LIAY
JAISAY FARSOODA KITABEAN
NOWJAWANOON KAY LIAY."
"The times will be remembered by those who see towards it keenly, like the useless books for the young." I could'nt write to you in time. Cold weakness, old age; all have crippled me. There is some warmth for the past two days. I am sitting in the Sun. I have to reply a bundle of twenty letters. The bundle is open and I am replying. What about your health? May God bless you.
In a letter in reply to one of my letters which reached him after a long time though the distance between Geeru and Zainapora is twenty Kilometers only. He wrote further that:
"The letter was delivered late to me, as every work is done at ease in this country after independence. So the letters are also received late.
In another letter he advised me to come to him alon with my poems so that he could listen to these, for some time. He had also written to get my longer poem with me, which I had written in 1985.
On 18th December, 1985 when he was working as usual, his servant came and told him that his cows were not taking grass. He replied, "Now they won't eat it"; perhaps he wanted to say that their master was leaving the world this very day. In the evening at 8 p.m. this renowned journalist and leader of repute breathed his last at Geeru.
In the annals of Kashmir journalism and political history, Bandhu ji will be remembered for years to come. The coming generations will also remember him with reverence.
By Arjan Dev Majboor
Lahore was the heart throb of northern India before the partition of the country. It was a political center as it was also a seat of learning for all those of us from Kashmir who had to go in for higher education. I feel myself fortunate for having been born in undivided India and availed the opportunity of having passed my matriculation from Punjab University. Lahore in those days was connected with J&K, two ways, one way was VIA Jammu railway line and second through Jehlum Valley road, wherefrom one boarded a bus from Srinagar to Rawalpindi and from Rawalpindi one had to take train to Lahore. Jammu in those days used to be a small city inhabited by nearly fifty thousand people. For going to Lahore one had to take a train to Wazirabad via Sialkot and from there one had to board the Frontier Mail for Lahore.
In comparison to the railway line the Jehlum Valley road was an easier journey where one had to board a bus plied by ‘Allied Chiragdin and sons’ to Rawalpindi. This company plied nearly ten buses each, everyday, for Jammu and Rawalpindi. While going via the Jehlum Valley road one had to pass through Baramulla and Kohala. This was a smooth road except near Uri and Chinari, where it passed over hills full of fur trees. The road “was dotted by a series of Tabas who specialized in serving ‘Zag Batta’ (RED RICE) and cheese. As soon as one crossed the Kohala Bridge one could clearly see the Sunny Bank a place in the foot of Murri Mountains which was quite popular with English people. The Kohala Bridge in those days used to be a small bridge over Jehlum River which hardly was 10 to 15 meters in length. The city of Muzaffarabad could clearly be seen from here.
My first trip to Lahore materialized via Jammu in 1943. For this journey, which for me was quite momentous at that time, I boarded a bus at Bijbehara, which charged me a fare of Rupee one and twelve annas right unto Jammu. Those days Banihal tunnel used to be at the top of the Banihal pass, and it took us nearly five hours to reach Banihal town from Lower Munda. For an eighteen year old boy wearing a turban, a double breast coat and pajama it was the first journey outside his home. Having reached Banihal quite late in the day, we were obliged to stay here for the night. Recollecting today, I feel that this journey was undertaken at a very good time, for the people despite being very poor were miles away from crime and violence which are the representatives of our times now. My co-passengers, whom I initially took for Hindus were infact Muslim silversmiths from Punjab, who used to come to valley for their work and would move back to their places just before valley was engulfed by winter. These silversmiths were very popular in our countryside for the silver ornaments they made for our poor peasants. I just spent this night amongst these co-passengers and was quite alive to guard ten Queen Victoria silver coins of a rupee each, which was all I was carrying with me in my journey. My meager diet of Paronthas which my mother and my Auntie had given to me for consumption during the journey, in the process of my guard remained unconsumed. On reaching Jammu, I was fortunately guided by a good humanbeing who advised me to go direct to the Railway station for staying overnight, which saved my some money, which otherwise I would have spent on hotel accommodation. Railway station across river Tawi was reachable by a Tonga. I stayed at the station and next day early morning at about 5.30 a.m. I boarded a train for Lahore. There were not many passengers and I had no difficulty in obtaining a ticket. My co-passengers in the train advised me to come down at Wazirabad, wherefrom I had to board ‘Frontier Mail’. Any how quite tense I reached Wazirabad, but my forward movement from here was also an experience. Here at the Wazirabad station thousands of people were waiting for the train. Sight of such a large crowd was quite frightening to a village boy who had for the first time ventured out of his home and peaceful place. But somehow here also I was helped by a Coolie who just for an eight annas amount made my way into the train possible. He virtually managed to throw me into the Train through a window. In the train I remained standing for a long time, hereafter some passengers made some way for a standing boy possibly because of compassion.
In this way I reached Lahore station, wherefrom I found my way to Guru Dutt Bhawan on Ravi road. Here I was greeted by my friend Sh S.N.Bhat Haleem, who at that time was a student of ‘Dayanand Vidyalaya’. In his company I was quite happy for I had the satisfaction of having braved a big journey of my time all alone. Sh Haleem gave me a Kurta and payjama which I duly wore after a refreshing bath. Thereafter I along with Haleem found my way into a nearby Taba for a hearty meal of two tandori roties, some daal and pickle, for which I had to pay an amount of two annas. After this meal I found my way to a cloth merchant from whom I purchased a fresh Kurta payjama for an amount of Rupees 3.50, the cloth was got duly stitched from a tailor for an amount of four annas. Lahore though with a glorious past, was an old fashioned city, which had many beautiful arches and gates made of Bricks, and these gates were quite decorated with beautiful and artistic engraved images of Bulbuls which for a moment seemed to me alive. The inner city was mostly choked, for there were not many lanes and by lanes. The houses were clustered together and did not leave any room for light which usually would come from glass roofs at the upper storey .Numerous houses existed in ‘Wachoowali’ Mohalla. In some other places like Krishna nagar the houses had large windows and the houses were located in proper compounds.
The city of course had big Bazars and markets like Anarkali market which made brisk business and wore festive look in the evenings . These bazaars were full of customers both local and foreign. Students and the people like us who lacked purchasing power were obliged to witness all these trading and business activities from a distance. Lord Mayo college was the most well known college those days, and Mall Road the most sought after fashionable place where the foreigners were living and enjoying. Lahore of those days was a political centre and as such a variety of newspapers would reach this place from all parts of India. I could easily see many of them like The Tribune, The Amrit Bazar Patrika, The daily Milap (urdu), The daily Partap(urdu), Zamindar, Illustrated weekly, Vishal Bharat, Hans(hindi), and host of other papers and journals. It is quite amusing to know that Hindi that time was considered a Lady’s language, because of the fact that it was Urdu that was generally in vogue. During my stay in Lahore I had the privilege of visiting Sh Khushal Chand Khursand who was editor and owner of Mialp.He was a simple man wearing dhoti and kurtaa and a waist coat, he generally wore a turban on his head. It was said about him that he would generally dictate editorial to his clerk while taking a stroll in his lawns. Mahasha Krishen was the owner and editor of The Daily Partap. These two papers in particular were quite popular in northern India including Kashmir. It was a time of great upheavals, Indias freedom movement was maturing into a mass movement with Indian population having split vertically on religious basis. The city was usually visited by big leaders of the day like Ali Mohd Jinnah, Pandit Nehru and others. I had the chance of hearing Jinnah who advocated for partition of India. He was a tall leader with a black Achkan and a cap on his head. I had also the chance of hearing Nawabyar Jang, a leader from Hyderabad, who spoke to a spell bound audience in Urdu.
I also heard a communist leader, BPL Bedi who subsequently drafted Naya Kashmir Programme for National Conference. Lahore of those days provided employment to poor Kashmiri farmers who generally would come to the city during winter and earn their living. Such labourers would generally work in rice mills of the city and they would feel extremely happy on meeting us. The spirit of brotherhood was a common affair and as such people would not mind being Hindu or Muslim. People of all faiths would go out to hear various leaders, little knowing what was cooking up in the political circles. Soon their throats were slit and brother was made enemy of his brother. People did not know that a new word called ‘Refugee’ would soon thunder and resound throughout the length and breadth of India.
This legacy left behind by the British rulers still is sending down tremors in our spine and unfortunately we have not come out of the communal hatred generated in those eventful days, which these political leaders and their masters very carefully planted in to the Indian soil. Lahore being a central place was soon taken over by the frenzy and after our departure from the place we heard that a naked inhuman and uncivilized dance was staged near Model Town, a colony built to be modern but descended into the uncivilized state. Prior to this I never had heard of riots, so we left Lahore for the rioters and took to our motherland Kashmir which till then was quite peaceful. Once in Kashmir I once again breathed fresh air of peace and continued to live in my native motherland, unmindful of the fact that after more than a half century the curse of migration will similarly befall me also and turn me into a refugee, at this last stage of life.
by Arjan Dev Majboor
Kashmir has been a place of attraction from centuries. Dr. Raghu Nath Singh who translated Jonaraja's Rajtarangini into Hindi says that there were three hundred famous Tirthas in Kashmir, visited by the locals and pilgrims from India and other Foreign lands.
Kalhana, the famous historian, mentions eight very important Tirthas while starting his world famous Treatise. These are `Papsudan' in which Shiva is seen in disguise. This Tirtha is called Kapteshvara (Saloka 32). The other Tirthas are : Sandheya known as Trisandheya. It was visited by the King Jahangir and Famous French traveller - Bernier in 1665. This tirtha is situated a few kilometres from Kukarnag. The third one is Svambhoo (Saloka 34), situated south west of village Nichome, in Machipur Pargana. It was visited by Stein in 1892. It is mentioned in Aini-Akbari and "The Valley of Kashmir" by Lawrence.
The fourth one is of the Goddess of Learning Saraswati at Gangodbedha in Pulwama district. The fifth is `Nandi Khetra' (permanent abode of Shiva (Saloka 36) of Raj Tarangini by Kalhana). It has also been mentioned in Nilmata - `High Alpine Valley at the foot of the east Glaciers of the Harmukat Peaks, which contain the sacred Kalodaka Lake, popularly known as Mundkol.
The sixth Tirtha of world fame is Sharada (Saloka 37), now in occupied Pakistan. When visiting this Shrine one reaches the rivers named Madhumati and Saraswati.
Seventh and eighth are of Kesava and Siva at `Chakdar' and Vijeshar (Present Bijbehara) (Saloka 38).
In this article, I am going to deal with two of the above mentioned Tirthas and Narastan or Narayanastan in Holda (Present Tral Area). Kalhana mentions this Tirtha in the second volume of his history at page 461. What tempted me to see Kapteshvara, Gangodbheda and Narastan is the Nilmata which says :
"O protector of the man all the sacred places which are on the earth are there, thronged with the hermitages of the sages, (it is) pleasant in heat and cold and is auspicious."
While eleven years away in exile from my home land, I have not forgotten these and all other places of historic and cultural importance. Going down my memory lane to a vivid picture of the above mentioned three places, I shall give refrences also from the books mentioned above.
This very beautiful spring (now in shambles) is situated in Tehsil Anantnag. It is about three kilometres from the famous village, Nowgam (Shangas). I have visited this place in 1955. Nilmata in saloka 1171-73 says :
Brahadasva (replied) "O! King on the sacred bank of Drasdavati in Kurekhetra, there stood in great penance, crores of sages to have a sight of Rudra - the lord of the Gods. Due to this devotion the venerable highest lord told them in dream O! quick going ones, go soon to Kashmir, where there is a spacious and immaculate abode of the Naga. There I shall be visible in disguise."
There is a story about "Gowrparashar Rishi" in Nilmata, who remained on fast for Sankara, who gave him darshana in the form of a log.
The Kapteshvara is `Kothar' in Kashmir now. It was one of the parganas of Kashmir in Mugal period. Pargana is division of area. Rajtarangini lists forty two parganas of Kashmir in volume two. Out of these forty two parganas; 24 are in Maraz i.e. southern part of Kashmir and eighteen are in Kamraz i.e. Northern division of Kashmir.
In 1955, when I saw Kapteshvara, now called Koother, it was a village and while entering the village one could see a clean brook coming out of a spring, which was half dry.
About the place Nilmata says :
Thus he advises the Sages to go soon to Kashmir.
There is a detailed description given by Stein in his English Translation of Kalhana's Rajtarangini when he visited this Tirtha. In 1891 he saw this sacred Papsudana spring at Kutheer. According to his article in Vienna Oriental Journal p. 347, Bhoja had constructed some enclosures around this spring. He further says that - "The lather now rises in a circular tank of at least sixty yards in diameter which is enclosed by a solid stone wall and by steps leading down to the water. The depth of the spring seemed considerable."
"The local tradition of the Purohits of the Tirtha as communicated to me by an old Sadhu (Mahadev Koul) residing at the spring maintains that the tank and its stone enclosure were constructed by the Raja from the Dekkan called Muchkunda".
The King had grown horns and wanted to cure them. He saw a dog whose leg was bleeding, crossing the stream arising out of the spring. The dog was cured. The King followed his example and was cured of the trouble. There-upon he constructed the tank. To same king is ascribed to have constructed the temple, situated to the east of the tank and of several still smaller cells, the ruins of which are more or less well preserved, and found close by.
There is one Kashmiri proverb :
"Makan Razas Mashivi kan
Tim Kati balanas kutheer Von"
Translation : "The Makan Raja has the ears of a bufallo, where will these be cured? - At Kutheer forest". This is how a language preserves the history.
At the time of my visit, the spring was half filled with mud and from the other half, the water was gushing out in a stream. The water was of blue colour and sweat to drink. There were some stone walls round the vegetable gardens of the people. No Kashmiri Pandit was living in the village at the time of my visit. I sat at the spring and saw a small plank on the water. There was no image on this plank. The area must have been very sacred and beautiful in the olden times, as there were fir and other trees, though reduced to small numbers when I visited the place. My imagination travelled to the centuries back, where I could see visions of a golden era - people coming from far off places to visit this Tirtha of great importance. I returned with a heavy heart. The Pandit organisations should take steps to preserve this Shrine of Shiva.
This ancient Teertha according to Stein was lost to Pandits, when he went to discover it in September, 1895. Stein first camped at varnag (Zainapora) while coming from Anantnag. From Zainapora he went to Chitragam, where a Brahmin Suraj Koul met him and told him that he could show him the tirtha he wanted to explore afresh. It must be taken into consideration that worship of particular deities has been shifted from its original site to more convenient locations in their neighbourhood. Suraj Koul showed Stein the temple of `Bedai-bal' at Hal-Mogalpur. This was not really the actual site of the Tirtha. Later, one Khaira Gujar gave him the clue of the site. The seventy five year old Gujar had spent forty summers at the spot.
In Nilmata (S. 1359) the mention of this tirtha is given as below :
"By taking bath in Gangodbheda near Bheda Devi, a man obtains the merit of bathing in the Ganga and is honoured in Heaven".
It was in 1987 that I after collecting written material about this place decided to visit the place situated in a forest. I with my friends, Shri M. L. Goja artist and Shri P. N. Bhat a writer, started from Shopian. We reached Pulwama at 1 P.M. and then borded a bus leading to Kellar. We reached here at 2.30 P.M. We tried for horses but could not. Later a driver friend of Mr. Goja took us in a truck to the place. We were passing through Shakroo Pargana. The Birni stream, as people call it, came in the way. This is the corrupted name of "Vaitarini Nadi". A small stream with clean water. Purohits of Kashmir used to charge a fee of a cow for carrying the dead across the stream Vaitarini, to the other world. As soon as the forest started, it began to rain and the truck slipped off and on till we reached the Bheda Devi, now called as Buj-Brore by the locals. Brore is the corrupted form of Bhatarika, meaning a devi.
There is a plain land with heights. The big timber trees are seen on the hill-tops. We first saw the spring. A tank is attached to it. A Murti was in the tank having its back side out of water. So we could not guess the sculpture.
In his visit, Stein had not been able to find any sign of Saraswati here as mentioned in Nilmata. I searched here and there and saw a big stone in the vicinity. It was broken into two. I washed the whole stone with water and grass and lo! it appeared as the Saraswati riding on hansa. I was glad to discover the carving. Shri Goja made a painting of the carving, which he later could not get along with him at the time of exodus.
There were brick plinths around, which showed that there was a big hermitage or Gurukula to teach the students or saints who lived in these structures.
The spring has some underground warm water which does not allow the snow to remain on the sides and is melted at once.
Some Gujars from Tangmarg had come to bathe in the water which comes out at some distance from the tank. They said that the water cures troubles of joints etc.
I asked one local Gujar the reason of the broken stone. He said that it was due to some thunderbolt. He also said that some locals had once polluted the place. He found his bull dead when he entered the cowshed. From that day people fear the place and they place occasionally yellow rice (Tehar) at the bank of the tank reverently. It was getting late, but the place was so charming that we remained here upto 6 P.M. As there was no Rest House to stay, a Gujar invited us to stay with him. We thanked him and decided to return.
According to Gangodbheda Mahatmya, mentioned in RajTarangini Volume II by Stein Page 273, Rishi Pulusteya, when performing long penance in the `Land of Sati' and had made the divine Ganga gush forth near him from mount Himavat for the purpose of his sacrifice. When the sage wished to discharge the river after completing his worship, he was stopped by a divine voice from the sky, that of Saraswati. It proclaimed to him that where the stream had issued from the mountain in the forest called bheda, there would arise the holy Tirtha of Gangodbeda.
After indicating the great spiritual benefits to be reaped from the pilgrimage to this sacred spot, Mahatmaya abruptly turns to mention about the following neighbouring Shrines or images.
(i) Goverdhandhara Vishnu (at a distance of 125 hastas)
(ii) A miraculous image of Yema, called Aujasa.
The Mahatmaya closes with more or less fragmentary references to Tirthas at Ramasrama (112) Ramsu (113) and the hermitage of the Seven Rishis (114) and Vaitarini River (118) These Tirthas are evidently intended to be visited in conjunction with the Gangodbheda Pilgrimage.
Khaira Gujar told Stein that he had seen Pandits coming to Bujbrore (bheda devi) in Chaitra, but perhaps due to heavy snow in Chaitra they discontinued this pilgrimage and by and by it was forgotten. I came to know that some Hindu youth of Shopian had started to come to this place in Chaitra as the snow-falls were very less. The path leads from here to Pirpanchal and Rajouri.
The place is cool and one forgets all worries and peace comes to greet from all sides.
The mention of this place has first been made in Neelmat Purana :
"A man surely obtains the world of Vishnu by bathing in the water of the Vitasta at Narastana".
Stein in his translation of Raj Tarangini says in Vol. II page 461:
"Of old remains in Vular lake, the interesting temple of Narastan at the Northern extremity of the district Holda (340 3' Lat, 750-10' longitude) deserves notice. Unfortunately I am unable to find any clue to its name or history. Excavations made by me at the site in 1891 brought to light interesting sculptures, but no evidence as to its name." The large village of Sotur to the south-west of Narastan may possibly account for the entry-Satrava' in the Lokprakasas list of Parganas.
I personally went to see this shrine, with the help of my close relatives, Mr. B. N. Pandita and Mrs. Phoola Koul, probably in 1985. We reached Satur from Tral. From here we had to go on foot as the bridges on the track had broken down. After about 4 kilometres walk we reached the place on the river under the feet of a Hill named Brari-Bal (Bhatarika Hill or the Hill of Godess). The temple at Narastan though in shaby condition was looking grace-fully to the skies. The architecture of this temple is quite different from that of all the temples of the Valley. The outer wall is about seventy feet long. The image of Narayana was not there in the temple. Who knows what had happened to it. The temple is in a circular style and is completely made of stone. The style is Gandhra plus Indian. The age of this temple is said to be about fourteen hundred years.
Mr. R. C. Kak has given a photograph of this temple in his book titled "Monuments of Kashmir".
A stream of water gushes down near the front of the temple. The Chowkidar appointed by the Government was not present. The front portion of the stone-wall was broken. I think this temple being far away has not come under slaught.
The importance of Narastan is due to the sculpture art of the Hindu period. It is said that images of various deities were supplied from here to the whole of Northern India. One can find coloured stones in the stream flowing near by. The stones are hard and useful for making images.
A potter's wife living near the temple was kind enough to give me a hand of Narayana (image) with a small dagger. This had been broken away from the image. The nails of the small hand were very hard and the whole piece was artistically very beautiful. The colour of the stone was maroon. The potter-lady related me a story about her own daughter, who after her marriage had no issue. Both mother and daughter took a Trami (Thali) of `Tahar' to the temple and requested the deity for a son for the daughter. The daughter, next year gave birth to a son and she flourished with wealth. When six male children were born to the daughter of the potter, she came to her mother and said that now she wanted no more children. Both went to Narastan and begged the deity to give riddance from further deliveries of the daughter. It was granted to them in a dream.
The potter-lady had promised me to give more pieces of images, which she would gather from the bed of the stream. But due to changed circumstances in Kashmir, I couldn't visit the places again.
The artistic hand-piece was also left in my Almirah, when I left my library and all belongings of my home, which was later burnt down to ashes by the terrorists I can't say what the present position at Narastan is. But it has been a place of pilgrimage in the past, there is no doubt about it. One old man told me that there was some thing which would shine from evening till morning but it was taken by some visitors who camped here some time back for few days. I can't say whether the legend is true or not.
The architecture, the sight, the natural bounty of the area, the hill and the stream with colourful stones charms the onlookers and the visitors. Very few people used to go to this place when I visited the site.
This temple needs protection by the Government as well as the Pandits living in Kashmir or in exile. As for as this monument is concerned, it sings the glory of Kashmir in temple art. It shows that the taste of the builders of temples and Shrines in Kashmir was very high. The stone available was very hard and this is why that temple like Narastan was not in a very dilapidated condition. We should be proud of such places. I am reminded of the remarks of a German tourist, who met me at Gomteshvara (Karnataka) and told me that - "We have no such stone art which is very interesting and charming". Let me stop here and let the time come soon when we shall visit these places of utmost charm once again.
by Arjan Dev Majboor
As Dr. Raghu Nath Singh of Benaras, who has translated Jonraja's RajTarangini into English, maintains, there were originally about three hundred Hindu tirthas in Kashmir, which were considered important and had each a special significance of its own for the devotees. Kalhana makes a specific mention of tirthas like Kapteshwara, Jwala Mukhi, Chakreshwara, Martanda, Sarda and some others. M. Arel Stein, who visited the religious shrines mentioned in Kalhana's Raj Tarangini, says that the tirtha of 'Gangod Bheda' was not visited by the Brahamanas of the valley of Kashmir because by that time it had gone into oblivion, having fallen into a state of neglect over a period of time. He observes:
High up in the valley of the Birnai Stream which debounches at Darbagam from the south west, is the site of an ancient tirtha, which though not completely forgotten, must have ranked once among the most popular in Kashmir. In Kalhana's introduction there is named along with 'Trisandheya' Suyambhoo. Sarda and other famous sites, the Hill of Bheda (Bheda Giti) sanctified by the 'Gangod-bheda' spring. There the Goddess Saraswati was believed to have shown herself as a swan in a lake situated on the summit of the hill. (See Rajtarangini by Kalhana, p. 472)
In November 1890, M. A. Stein came to Zaillapura from Anantnag, whence he moved (along with his camp) to Chitragam. A Brahmin of Hawal, Pulwama, met Stein enroute. The latter asked him if he knew anything about the tirtha of Bheda Devi. The Brahmin showed his willingness to guide Stein and his party to the spot. As they reached Hawal, Stein set up his camp there and was then led by the Brahmin to the nearby small temple called Beeda-bal. He consulted his maps and also studied carefully the statement of Kalhana about the forgotten tirtha; he was not satisfied that he had got to the exact place he was in search of. However, he paid some money to the Brahmin and rested for the night at the camp in Hawal. On the following day, a gujjar named Khaira, who visited the camp, informed Stein (on being questioned by him) that the place he wanted to explore was about twenty kilometers away from Hawal, within a forest. Led by Khaira, Stein reached the spot, which the gujjars called Bujbrore. He was fully satisfied, in fact convinced that the site he had been guided to was the abode of Saraswati (though now in a disguised form).
As I read about the tirtha in Kalhana's Rajtarangini my curiosity was aroused and I made up my mind to visit the place myself. It was about three years before the outbreak of insurgency in the valley that accompanied by two friends, Shri M. L. Goja (an artiste of repute) and Shri P.N. Bhat (a lecturer/writer) I undertook a yatra to the tirtha.
We started from Shopian (district Pulwama), reached Pulwama and then boarded a bus that took us to the famous village of Kelara, a big village surrounded by lofty hills and forests. From this place we had to trek through the forest along a road that was very rough. We could not hire horses as they were reported to be grazing in the fields nearby. Luckily we got into a truck proceeding to Bujbrore, where the site of Bheda Devi tirtha was to be discovered by us.
The driver was very friendly (luckily known to Shri Goja) and so we were offered comfortable seats. After the truck had gone a few kilometers, it started raining heavily with the result that the wheels of the vehicle we sat in were driven with difficulty rattling through the mud. However, it stopped raining and soon it was sunny. That facilitated our journey to the tirtha.
It is worth mentioning here that the road to Bheda Devi runs through the Pargana (Administrative Division) named Shakoora in the old records. The stream called Vaitarini-nad (now called Birnai) flows through Shakoora. According to our Sastras Vaitarni is the stream that the pitras (souls of the dead) have to cross as a hurdle before they can move any further in the world unseen. It is relevant to point out here that many names given by our ancestors to the tirthas in Kashmir are identical with those of the corresponding tirthas in the rest of the country. Why this is so is to be attributed to the isolated character of the valley of Kashmir: because of geographical barriers it would remain cut off from the plains in the past, especially during winter when the mountains remain snow-capped. The present means of transport were not available to the Kashmiris then. The Kashmiri Hindus showed imaginative resourcefulness and practical wisdom in founding and naming their own tirthas, which they visited conveniently ; this gave them the same satisfaction that they would have got by undertaking long journeys to the tirthas with identical names that exist in the rest of the country : like Pushkar, the Ganges etc. It is said that there were dharamsalas on the banks of the Vitasta (Jhelum) right from Sangam to Vijeshwara (the present Bijbehara). These dharamsalas were used by the pilgrims who came on foot to the Martand Khetra. Their journey began actually from Sangama - which is the confluence of the Vitasta and the beautiful river called Ranbiara.
The Bheda Devi tirtha is situated in an open vale surrounded by large mountains having devdar and fur trees on their tops, From a place nearby the road leads to Rajouri and Poonch. We found a tank-like spring in the middle of the vale. The snow around this spring melts very soon as Kalhana has rightly mentioned. We found the spring lined with chiselled stones and noticed an image at the centre. We also found some plinths, made of stone or brick, in the vicinity. It was obvious to us that in the past some buildings must have been there with these plinths as their supporting base ; these structures must have collapsed and gradually disappeared, leaving behind the evidence of their previous existence in the shape of the plinths. We could infer that the buildings must have been used to host the pilgrims; also some of them must have been used for conducting classes of the students who came to receive education, here in the remote past.
The place is picturesque and as such worth seeing. It is a cool and calm piece of land : an ideal place for reading and writing, and for practising meditation. It is also mentioned in Nilmat Purana. Sloka No. 1359 of the Purana is reproduced below (followed by its English translation)
The man who takes a bath at a place close to Bheda Devi (where Ganga is in disguise) attains the 'phala' (virtue) of bathing in the Ganges and goes to Swarga Loka.
I went round and searched particularly for what I expected to be a statue, or an image carved in a stone, of the Goddess Saraswati. Just away from the spring I found a big stone. Since it was covered with mud, we washed off the mud and were delighted to see a beautiful image of Saraswati, riding a swan, carved in it. We also noticed a carving of Shiva Lingam above that of Saraswati. My friend, the artist, sat down and drew a pen-sketch of the whole carving. On close examination, the stone was seen to consist of two pieces. I gathered from a local gujjar that the pieces were originally a single piece; it had probably been struck by lightning that had broken it into two. From him I learnt further that the local gujjars held the shrine in great esteem. He also revealed that once someone pissed on the spot; during the ensuing night he lost his ox, that was stoutly built. Thereafter the locals showed greater reverence to the place whenever they passed by driving their cattle to the fields nearby. One of the gujjars offered us hospitality, desiring us to stop there for the night. We thanked him for the invitation and declined it politely.
Stein states in his account of the Tirtha (in a note in the Raja-Tarangini, that having once fallen into oblivion its significance was lost to the Kashmiri Pandits. He adds:
Fortunately the old 'Mahatmeya' of the sacred lake has survived in a single copy. With the help of some indications furnished by it and an opportune notice of Abulfazal, I was able to make a search for this Tirtha, which ultimately led to its discovery at the present Bud-bar in the valley. The 'Mahat Meya' describes the lake as sacred to Goddess Saraswati, as situated on the sumniit of a hill and Gangodbheda as a spring flowing from it.
As, far as the lake is concerned, we could not see it. May be it has disappeared or it might be far away from the spring in high mountains. Very little water actually flows down from the spring and it is used by patients to cure rheumatic diseases. When we visited the site, we came across a gujjar having come from Tangmarag area to use the water of this spring for bathing in order to be cured of chronic diseases.
The village Kelar, whence we took the road leading to Bheda Devi tirtha, is the Kalyanpura grama which was founded by Kalyani Devi, a queen of Tayapeeda. Drabhagom is mentioned by the historian Sheevara as Drabhgrama. It is a big village that is still famous.
The Goddess Saraswati or Sarda Devi has been one of the chief divinities held in esteem and worshipped in Kashmir since the land was inhabited by learned scholars, who dedicated their lives to the creative arts and to spiritual pursuits. The tirthas associated with the Goddess Saraswati are generally found on foothills, often surrounded by delightful forests.
As a student of the history of Kashmir, I was fascinated by what I had read about the Tirtha and my visit to the actual site, and the scenic background, made me ponder over how this place of worship, learning and meditation must have looked during the good old days when it was frequented by pilgrims and scholars. After I pondered over and fantasized about the place for some valuable moments, I looked at the setting sun and noticed to my delight how its last rays lingered on the lush green Kale trees and the vale around. I was pleased to learn that a party of young men of Shopian had been visiting the Tirtha in the month of Chaitra for the past two years.
Refreshed by the visit, our curiosity having been amply rewarded by what we saw, we came back to Kelar on foot, avoiding to board the loaded truck that was otherwise available as a means of transport. Thence we went to Tengpura, a village near Pulwama, where we stayed in the house of Shri M. L. Bhat. As a student of Kashmir history, full of ideas about the tirtha we had visited, I thought of Plust Rishi, who is, believed to have founded Pulwama. I should also like to mention that in Tengpura there is a statue of the eight-armed goddess, Durga. It is carved out of black marble and is a fine piece of sculpture. It took me and my companions several hours to note the fine details and decorations of the image. It was actually found at Romooh in Pulwama Tehsil (mentioned as Romush in the Rajtarangini) and is installed on the bank of Romshi river.
[Shri Arjan Dev 'Majboor' is one of our leading poets in Kashmiri besides being an accomplished writer in Hindi. He stays at Udhampur.]
Arvind Gigoo doesn't like to put Professor as Prefix to his name. I think he is right. Gigoo is a scholar, endowed with great humility. It was VK Zutshi who introduced me to Gigoo at Udhampur, where we all were living as exiles. After the first meeting, we began meeting too frequently. This company was further enlivened by the participation of Messers ML Goja and PK Goja.
Gigoo Sahab has translated thirty of my poems from Kashmiri into English. The translations were well received by leading writers of India. It was he who introduced me to a big audience and great writers through his crisp and creative translation. These poems were brought out in an anthology - "Waves", which received 22 reviews. The reviews were later published in a book form.
Arvind Gigoo is a forthright person. He doesn't like to keep secrets to himself. His book 'Ugly face of Kashmiri', has been written in a style that is unique. It has introduced a new genre in literature. The book demythifies Kashmiris of all shades, presenting them as they are. Gigoo has penchant to give surprises. Till the book was out none of his close friends knew he had written the book.
Gigoo when at home looks lazy, who spends most of the time sleeping. But when he decides to work he is a dynamo of energy, a giant and all excellence. He is liberal, dislikes to own hackneyed old ideologies. Gigoo has his own philosophy of life.
By Arjun Dev Majboor
Exile was a big jolt to me as a writer. I had premonitions about it and had penned the poem 'Neagrai' sometime before my community's displacement.
'Neagrai' is related to possible displacement, 'Neagrai' personifies a Kashmiri Pandit in the poem. In this I have tried to portray how Kashmiri Pandit was getting destabilised in Kashmir and what was in store for him.
Originally, this poem was written in Kashmiri and has been translated now into Hindi and English. There is another pre-migration poem 'Samay' (Time), which indicates how situation was turning hostile to Kashmiri Pandits. The poem was later on translated into Hindi by Prof. C.L. Sapru. This poem was written in a specific context. Communalization was fast gripping the mind of Kashmiris. 'Nai Duniya' was publishing vitriolic material to deepen the communal schism.
As a politically aware writer I would often talk to the members of my community about the fast changing situation, where nobody was resisting the retrograde forces.
Even secular elements amongst the majority community were getting communalized, though some of them couldn't comprehend the deeper forces at work.
Gradually, I came to know about elements raising donations and sending Kashmiri Youth across for training in subversion.
In December 1989 as the government was found wanting in providing protection to the Pandit minority I was suggested to leave Zainapora Kashmir, for the time being by late Moti Lal Saqi as conditions were not good.
In November 1989 I had an occasion to meet Muslim biradari of my village in Zainapora. Snowfall had already taken place. The occasion was the condolence function of a villager, belonging to the majority community. The villagers asked about my assessment of the situation.
I replied," Hard times are coming for all of us. If you feel by forcing Kashmiri Pandits out from Kashmir you will get Pakistan you tell us frankly so that we can go elsewhere". The Villagers said that they were not for Pakistan. However, I could not restrain from warning them "If the gun comes in the peaceful state, it will not leave anybody untouched. It will torment you as well as us". Some boys from Zainapora too went across to Pakistan. I have no further details about the impact of militancy in Zainapora.
My family already had a house at Udhampur. It was December 1989. There was extreme fear and insecurity among Kashmiri Pandits. Anantnag and Bijbehara reeled under curfew. I contacted a taxi driver from Bijbehara. He was known to me and gave me an assurance that he would come to Zainapora after four days. Meanwhile, I packed some of my books and few clothes. When I asked my family members to prepare for going to Jammu they thought I was joking.
No migration had taken place from Zainapora as yet.
The taxi driver dropped in one evening and gave one hour to get ready. He had to visit a Pandit family in another village in similar connection.
My daughter Kiran had given birth to a baby recently. We were keen to take her out because of unreliable medical facilities.
She had journeyed from Fatehpur to Zainapora, partly on foot and partly by Tonga, for many days motorized transport had virtually come to halt. The driver had fixed Rs 600 as fare for three of us-myself, my wife and daughter.
The driver had to pick up another passenger-a non Pandit from Bijbehara.
It was at 9 PM we left Zainapora. As the Taxi prepared to leave I looked towards my house, the compound and then starry sky with sorrow.
I had a feeling that this was going to be my last glimpse of my home and Zainapora, the village where many generations of mine had lived in freedom without any fear.
At 1:30 AM we reached Ramban. The Army Officer, guarding the bridge asked the driver to halt. A thorough search of the vehicle was conducted. I was asked where were we heading for. I replied "Udhampur".
With no further questions we were asked to go. The taxi broke down at Batote. A car mechanic was called for correcting the fault. It was at 4 0' Clock in the morning we touched Udhampur.
Twelve years later I got an opportunity to revisit the land which was my own, belonged to me and treasured my ethos, my culture, my civilisation but had been snatched from me. It was 2001. The occasion was a Culture Meet. 14 Kashmiri Pandit writers had to receive awards for their work. Some came from Delhi- Makhan Lal Bekas, Pran Nath Jalali, Pran Kishore; while others came from Jammu. The award-giving ceremony took place in Tagore Hall. Pran Kishore released my book Tehqiq. There were other programmes as well-cultural programmes, Mushaira etc. I strongly pleaded for acceptance of Devnagri as alternate script for Kashmiri and argued that it was necessary for those who could not learn Nastaliq. Only few of the writers resident in Kashmir talked about our displacement.
Kashmir had changed beyond imagination. I and my writer colleagues had gone in a taxi. We saw people in thousands coming out of mosques. Religiosity was on increase. Ladies looked pale due to stress. While passing through Anantnag along the highway i.e. new shopping complexes and massive buildings had come up, leaving little free space in between. Architecture too had undergone change. We saw many new brick-kilns in paddy land along Vessu- Khanabal stretch that had come up to meet the increased demand.
We were housed at Tourist Reception Centre and visited Tulmulla and Vicharnag. Rehman Rahi, the well-known writer welcomed us at his house in Vicharnag. He narrated some stories about militancy. Then he took us to the famous historic temple in the locality. The guards allowed us in. The Pandit mohalla looked devastated. Not a single Pandit house was intact, the damaged houses presented an ugly look. Vicharnag, which used to be a major centre for Kashmiri Pandits now looked like a locality smitten by ghosts.
A year later I had to preside over a mushaira organised by Radio Kashmir at Srinagar. Director AIR Mr. Zia was extremely cordial and lavish in his hospitality, attending to arrangements even in minutest details.
This time we had opportunity to visit the interior of the city- Maharaja Bazar, Batmaloo, Karan Nagar and Habbakadal. Tea shops were not in good order, little attention was paid to cleanliness. We were astonished to see that beef was being sold openly at Batmaloo.
This was a departure from early times. Batmaloo looked more of a big market than a bus stand. Shops and markets had come up everywhere, at many places there was encroachment even on the main roads.
'Hogads' (Dried fish) and 'Nadrus' (Lotus stalks) brought me to Habbakadal. Visiting old Habbakadal bridge was deeply nostalgic for me.
My thoughts went back to the years before our displacement when I used to spend hours conversing with my friends and relations at the historic bridge. In those lovely times the area reflected much life.
The Vitasta waters with reflection of lights on it from the houses on the two banks used to present a majestic, charming sight. All this had come to an end. I could hardly spot a Pandit-male or female here in a place which used to be the hub of Kashmiri Pandit community.
There was no life now. Only few people were seen moving on the bridge quietly. Houses looked deserted, burnt and in ruins. The famous painter Late Bansi Parimu used to live here at Safriyar. His house had been demolished to make way for a new Habbakadal bridge.
We also went to Nai Sarak area. People lacked usual joviality and conversed little with strangers and others. People did recognise us as Pandits.
Padasmayik, (Footprints of Time), written in Kavya style, was published by me in 1992.
Violence and killings pained me, cultural loss haunted me. In this long poem two characters- Sangur (male) and Sangarmal (female) interact. Through them I relate Kashmir's history-from early times to the times of displacement.
The first chapter starts with portrayal of beginning of displacement and the situation in the immediate aftermath.
I have drawn a scene where shops are closed and the shopkeepers have left Kashmir, with black moon having risen over Kashmir. The poem is divided into nine Sargas and runs into 64 pages.
This came out in 1995, and bears deep imprint of Kalidas on me. His style, use of similes and vocabulary have impressed me a great deal. I had also privilege to do Kashmiri rendering of his 'Meghdoot' in 'Obre Schech'. In place of cloud I substitute Swan as messenger. Speaking metaphorically the Swan (Raj Hans) is invested with powers to sift truth from falsehood. I ask the Swan to go to Kashmir to help me know what was going on there. And I promise to raise decorative arches for him when he would come back. The Swan is provided topo-graphic details to visit different places in time and history. The bird is asked to get message from megaliths- (Shahmar Pal) e.g. Gufkral to help Kashmiris come out of the mess. I request the Swan to visit my house in Zainapora. Finally, the Swan reaches a deserted village, buried under snow. A recently- born baby had been abandoned by some one there.
The baby expresses desire to talk to Swan. The latter enquires the baby about the identity of his parents and the circumstances of abandonment. The Swan asks the baby', who are such merciless parents which have abandoned you in this state? Who will cradle and sing lullby songs to you? Who will bring you up? I am pained to see you in this state". The baby states," I too am fed with the situation in this land. Take me somewhere where the abominable snowman will rear me up and eagles will bring sweet fruit for me".
The poem exudes charm and reflects nostalgia about the place and the old ethos. The poem that runs into 36 pages, has 8 line stanzas in verses (Total 96 verses).
Impact of Exile:
Kashmir is in my blood. In my writings I have raised questions why we were forced into exile? why fundamentalists are slaughtering people? Why people are being killed without any justification? I strongly miss beauty and nature of Kashmir. The delinking of our rituals and culture from its natural soil also pains me. As writers we have lost the atmosphere for writing. We have to write in a milieu where Kashmir is missing. There is no readership/ sale for our books. The Jammu press has been quite positive. Over twenty articles have been published on me.
Source: Kashmir Sentinel
By Syed Rasool Pompur
Dashi-Haar is a 112-Page collection of Kashmiri Poems in 20"x30"x16" size, published by the renowned Kashmiri poet Shri Arjan Dev Majboor, twenty three years ago in 1983. It comprises of about 38 poems, eight ghazals (lyric), besides a translation of Allama Iqbal's poem:
Digar Goon Hai Jahan Taroon Ki Gardish
Tez Hai Saaqi"
Besides using mothertongue as an essential and forceful vehicle of creative thought Shri Majboor writes in Hindi and Dogri also. An octagenarian-our elder and a younger contemporary of Mirza Ghulam Hassan Beg Arif, Dina Nath Nadim, Peerzada Ghulam Ahmad Mehjoor, Abdul Ahad Azad and Fazil Kashmiri Shri AD Majboor has all along been associated with the movement for the cultural, social, economic and political justice of the downtrodden and common people of Kashmir.
The title 'Dashahar" relates to the historic tirtha held every ten years at the confluence of Jehlum and Sindh at Sumbal. A Chinar stands in the middle of Jehlum at that place.
Majboor's poetry in the anthology under review is certainly an embodiment of universal human love, brotherhood and social equality, irrespective of caste, colour and creed. Miseries of people, irrespective of nature, have kept him constantly restless and in melancholy as he himself comments in his forward to the book. He has all through remained a protagonist of eternal human and social values. At times, he feels quite nostalgic about the socio-cultural heritage of his motherland in the form of composite culture facing extinction in modern technical and cultural advancement.
Born in 1924 at Zanapur, a historic town, named after and built by the great Kashmiri King Zainul Abdin, Budshah (1420-70) as Kashmiri people call him with love and reverence. As a dependable and lovable neighbour, Shri Majboor is very well-known to me, with his traditional, simple and truthful lifestyle with human warmth and dedication. These are the qualities which make and shape him as a selfless and tireless human activist, as a progressive writer with a clear social commitment and vision:
A tale of thousands of years
of times and likes endless
having, just ended
He jumped into the Padamsar
Whispering that the time has
no today, and no tomorrow
collect and collate
and adorn them with
to create a new world"
(Kathu Gor: Tale-Teller)
Like his individual person bedecked with simplicity, his poetic diction is unambiguous, plain, refreshing nearest to the vernacular language, artistically fitted with local ethos, lore and legend:
Life with affectionate glances
tells them all
to sing the songs of
to lift the waves
above the celestial mansions
(Sovdru-Bathis Peth-On the Seashore)
I am a dauntless lover
My heart is like a dotless mirror
I have never hidden the truth.
and presented darkness as light
I could thus, never abandon eternal human love.
I have to nourish and nurture
the dew with eternal fir:
to keep up the human dignity intact.
and portray the spring of life in full bloom
(Yi-Myon Oond Pokh--My surroundings)
While going through the lines I can very well recall the distinct and effective style of recitation of poems by Majboor in poetic symposia conferences and other literary seminars. Throughout his career he has served as a dedicated, sincere and honest teacher. He is a successful orator too.
Recalling his story in Lahore prior to partition in 1947 he feels nostalgic while peeping through the memory window:
Yes! This is the same city,
Sky of steel bridges, for which
in haste, I left behind
The highest mountain peaks
The heavenly circles
of Devdaar woods
The snow silver
head gears and yearning for vast
blossoming flowers - aside
I passionately loved it
The peaceful and delightful environs
of Lahore-enchant me
Lahore-where Iqbal touched
heights of heavens
recollecting the memories
Make me restless
Ragas of my musical waves
My buoyant youth
Human love and sincerity
Making a series of
Mountain peaks - into a garland of love -
Kus Kari Bawath (who will communicate), Tsitr-Kar (The Painter), Kalpana (imagination), Shinu-Mohniv (The snow man), Padi (The Feet), Rqs. Jaari (The dance goes on), Wuliodur (Agony), Lekhi Kya (what will he write), Amar (Ambition,), Titsh Kath Chanu (That is not the truth), Kol (The stream), Harud (The autumn) and other shorter poems and gazals present in Dashahaar form an inseparable component of eternal, human love and brotherhood passionately advocated and dedicatedly represented by Shri AD Majboor, thus making it more relevant even for today.
Majboor aptly remembers Lal Ded saying:
You are the hidden treasure
of Kashmiri Language
You are the flying boat of
Burning Vyeth (river) of
And morning breeze for
[Lal-Dedi Nazranu (To Lal Ded)]
Dashi-haar undoubtedly is a plausible and lovely collection of poems of Majboor, requiring the attention of discernible connoisseurs of Kashmiri poetry. Strictly selected or restricted, single volume of Kashmiri poetry comprising of the representative poems.
*(The author was Editor Kashmiri, “Sheeraza” Academy of Art, Culture and Languages. He is a noted poet, essayist and well-known researcher. He has published Kashmiri monographs on Abdul Sattar Ranjoor, Chaman Lal Chaman, PN Pushp. His notable publications include Aabgeenay (2005) - Urdu: articles on and about Kashmiri Culture and Literature; Wony For Gatshu: Whither shall I go now (Short Stories 1986) etc. He has also been associated in compilation and editing of Dictionaries, Encyclopaedia etc. brought out by J&K Cultural Academy from time to time.
by MK Tikoo
"As for the problems of translations, one can hardly set a more untranslatable example than Kalidasa. One says this a little more emphatically than may sound reasonable and considering the temper of Kashmiri language. This is partly one reason why Kalidasa has so far been left untouched in this language. During the year Arjun Dev Majboor came out with a translation in verse of Meghdoota as obreh Shechh. Majboor has made a valiant attempt to sustain the poem despite the occasional jarring notes. One problem here is to integrate the Sanskrit names into cadences of the language. But this would have been less of an impediment had the poet allowed the less constricting framework of free verse".
*Overseas Sahitya Academy Indian Literature, Jan-Feb 1976 p. 65-66
Title: Rambiara bhthees' piyath
Author: Makhan Lal Pandita
Language: Kashmiri (Nastaliq)
Price: Rs 250/-
Published By: M.L. Pandita
180, Sector-1, Lane No: 4, Durga Nagar, PO Roopnagar, Jammu
By Arjun Dev Majboor
Makhan Lal Pandita's emergence as a serious short story writer is a good augury for Kashmiri literature. Raembara bhthees piyath, the book under review, is author's 3rd collection of short stories, his earlier books 'Girdab' (Whirlpool, 2003) and Karan Fiyur (Change of Times, 2000) were well received. With his new publication, the author has made his mark as a competent short story writer. The book is decorated with a beautiful jacket and carries 12 stories. The stories are:
1) Dayi Pos (Guest without formal invitation)
2) Bata Thal (Rice Plate)
3) Gardish (Round)
4) Nov Bistar (New Bedding)
5) Roshan Laleen Kitab (Roshan Lal's Book)
6) Yeli Gauri Malyun Gayi (When Gauri went to her parents' house)
7) Babu Ram
8) Machhar (Madness)
9) Vuh Ropiya (Twenty Rupees)
10) Toht Taf (Hot Sun Shine)
11) Hawas (Strong Desire)
12) Raembara bhthees piyath (on the bank of Rambiara)
The author has himself written the Preface, while Sh. Mohd. Yusuf Teng has penned the Foreword. Mr. Teng has praised author's style, the theme of the stories, his vocabulary and appropriate usage of metaphors and similes. He has commented, "Probably no other Bata (Kashmiri Pandit) in future would be able to rival the author's use of colloquial Kashmiri".
What strikes the reader in the book is that the author while adopting the style of narrating the story has tried to present his characters in their own milieu-the characters speak their own language and seem real and full of life. The stories keep the reader's interest sustained so much so that he gets lost in an environment which is every inch Kashmiri. The theme of the stories revolves round people who are plebians, some of the themes relate to displacement and exile as well.
Nov Bistar (New Bedding), Roshan Laleen Kitab (Roshan Lal's book) and Toht Taf (Hot Sunshine) portray plight and struggle-ridden life of Displaced Kashmiris. In Nov Bistar the stories pertain to a rural Displaced Kashmiri Pandit family. This family had got prepared back home in Kashmir a new bedding. It is a painful account of the family which carries this new bedding to Jammu. Each quilt carries seven kgs. of cotton. It gets soiled in monsoon rains, while the family awaits registration at temple premises in Jammu. Finally, the soiled quilts are consigned to the river Tawi, as there is no need for these in the hostile tropical climate.
In 'Roshan Laleen Kitab', the author utilises his meagre savings to get his book published in Jammu. To his dismay nobody bothers to read his book. So much so, even his close friend to whom he had gifted a complimentary copy, does not bother to go through it. He just puts it on a shelf. It causes heartache to Roshan Lal when he sees that the groundnuts (Moongfali) he purchases, is served in an envelope made from the pages of his own book.
'Toht Taf' is a story in which a Displaced Kashmiri is sent back by 'Dharam Raz' (one who decides heaven and hell) to bear the tropical heat. Snakes and Scorpion make the life more painful for this weather-bitten refugee. But for a person who has lived in the cool breeze of Chinar there are no other options.
In 'Raembiara bhthees piyath', the author probably tells his own story. A scene is portrayed in which a beautiful Gujjar lass, stricken by poverty, gets drowned in a river. The story pictures life in Shopian town and delineates beautifully its natural scenery and suffocating life in the forest hinterland. This story, written artistically and with candour, tells us much more.
The story 'Machhar (Madness) is focussed on terrorism. How a brother kills his own brother, in this story, is heart-rending. It also raises many questions.
Yeli Gauri Malyun Gayi (when Gauri went to her parents house), projects the life of a Kashmiri Pandit peasant family, which is steeped in poverty. The helplessness, the rigors and the difficulties of the peasant life and the sorrows have been vividly portrayed. This painful story is prelude to the displacement.
Vuh Ropiya (Twenty Rupees) is a story which revolves round a Kashmiri Pandit peasant and a poor shepherd (chopan). It focusses on the social hypocrisy, in which the shepherd trots out different excuses at different times and feigns illness and head injury to avoid paying back Rs 20/- he had borrowed from a Kashmiri Pandit. It also introduces comic scenes at the end.
The stories are written in a lucid language and appropriate to characters. These are full of metaphors and satire. The dramatic style in which the stories are presented keep the reader glued. Usage of appropriate words and the short sentences have enhanced the readability and in flow it resembles Vitasta in its pristine beauty and quietitude. The author does not allow his emotions, so pregnant in the situations he describes, to take over while narrating the stories. The theme has been presented in a sublime way. So far, Kashmiri writers have not portrayed rural life so vividly as has been done by Shri Makhan Lal Pandita. This is the key to his success.
The book has been marred by few mistakes in proof-reading and script transcription. This could handicap a reader not well-versed with nastaliq Kashmiri script. These few mistakes apart, one can say with certainty that a new short story writer has found his rightful place in the field of Kashmiri literature. Kudos to Sh. Makhan Lal Pandita.
*(Translated from original Hindi by Dr. R.K. Tamiri)
By Upender Ambardar
The book under review titled "Tahqiq", written in nastaliq Kashmiri by Sh .Arjan Dev Majboor published in the year 1999 (price not mentioned), spanning into 183 pages encases nine diverse essays. The book besides being a recounting of the past history of Kashmir and its historical icons is also a perceptive account of travel cum memoir. The thoughtfully selected and compelling writings included in the book give an insightful account about Kanishka, the renowned and illustrious ruler and history and culture of Himalayan states. A history of Kashmir, Kashmir under the Buddhist and Hindu era, Kashmir as encompassed in 'Gulabnama', Ritualistic Kashmiri marriage songs in the backdrop of mythology, Mysore as seen by the author and lastly the author's literary odyssey. The narrative of the first essay entitled 'Kanishka, the great Kushan emperor', unfolds his multifaceted attributes as a determined ruler, an accomplished and gallant soldier, an expert on warfare and a political strategist, who ruled over a vast area of the Indian sub-continent in the second century AD with an iron grip for twenty three years. His capital Purashpur, the present day Peshawar, a flourishing city of plenty was well connected both with the then extended Indian peninsula and the Central Asia through silk route. The hitherto lesser known facts and details about the Kushan dynasty, the trade and cultural ties, the architectural masterpieces of the Gandhara style and the hosting of the third Buddhist World Conference at Kundalvan-Srinagar outskirts are deftly pieced together. The second essay entitled 'History and Culture of Himalayan States based on the fifth volume of the name-same book offers an intimate understanding of the Sikh rule in Jammu region from the year 1810 to 1820, awareness about three Dogra rulers, the subsequent conquests in Ladakh and Baltistan, the emergence of Mian Dido as a local hero besides providing an incredible information about Maharaja Gulab Singh and armed exploits of General Zorawar Singh. 'A history of Kashmir', the third essay is an analysed narration, which gives a haunting glimpse of political geography and socio-religious history of ancient Kashmir.
It also dwells upon the various antiquated path-routes that led to Kashmir and the traditional Kashmiri crafts and arts. The next essay named 'Kashmir' is a condensed narration based on the review of Kashmir related different books. The author has delved deep into many layers of Kashmir's history presenting an integrated and sequential information about the medieval Kashmir, eminent rulers of Kashmir besides familiarising the reader with historical and cultural aspects of Kashmir. The essay on 'Kashmir under Hindu and Buddhist era' is a convincing and illuminating analysis of Kashmir especially under Buddhist rule. It brings to life many centuries of Kashmir's rich past which contributed to the emergence of a remarkable civilisation at that time. The essay under the heading 'Kashmir as covered in Gulab-naama' sets in motion the life and time of Maharaja Gulab Singh besides giving a brief look at the history of Jammu and important happenings in Kashmir during the said period. The essay on ritualistic marriage songs and mythology is a delightful glimpse into the tradition of 'Wanvun' sung on the auspicious occasions.
Written in a simple and straight forward style supplemented by a few sample songs, the essay is an invaluable peep in this form of ancient ritual invocation of Kashmir. In the next essay 'Mysore as seen by the author', the reader is introduced to a rich mix of heritage, history, richness and variety of the landscape. The densely informative and absorbing account is sure to stimulate the imagination of a reader bitten by the wander bug. The last essay of the book is a life odyssey and literary sojourn of the author Sh. Arjan Dev Majboor, an accomplished writer, poet and researcher. It is a vividly relived memoir, which is replete with nostalgia filled yesterdays besides having heavier and lighter moments of life. It also unfolds identifiable and tensely felt situations in addition to moments of despondency doubts, hopes and aspirations in the author's life.
In a plainspeak, the book entitled 'Tahqiq' , written in nastaliq Kashmir by Sh. Arjan Dev Majboor is an essay to read and understand refreshing work.
Unquestionably, this insightful book is an essential reading for anyone having an appetite for awareness and enlightenment.
*The author is a well-known Researcher on History and Culture of Kashmir.
By MK Raina
"I feel the instinctive vibration of the earth and visualise my 'connect' with the terra-firma', said MF Hussain once, when asked, 'why does he walk bare-footed? After reading Majboor Saheb's book 'Padi Samyik', I feel he has laid his 'padi' (bare feet) firmly on the eons of Kashmir history in a unique manner, demonstrating amply his 'innate vibrations' and his 'inalienable connect' with his mother-land, Kasheer. Medium of expression may be different but, euphemistically speaking the inspiration is the same.
'Padi Samyik' (The foot prints of time) is a 'Kaveya' written in nine Sargas (chapters).
It starts with the turmoil in Kashmir and goes into imaginary world to trace the early days of the man in Kashmir. The two characters which narrate the whole 'longer' poem are Sangur (The top of a hill) and the Sangarmal (The early Prakasha seen in wee hours of the day on the circular range of high mountains surrounding the Valley.
The characters meet at a crystal clean vast spring. They begin to love each other and make their home under a very big stone, which covers their house hold. They get the experience of living from the nature, their hands and brain. Once the 'Sangur' goes to a forest for hunting, he is caught by some alien Tribal people. They beat him up and keep him in custody for the night. His beloved is frightened when her lover does not return till late. She weeps and wails. In the morning "Sangur" is taken to the Sardar of the tribe. He falls under his feat and requests him not to kill him, moreover he has done no harm to them. He is released and runs to his beloved. She is full of joy when she sees him alive.
After that comes the story of birth of Kashmir Valley - Running of various rivers, settlements in the hilly areas, Coming of various people to Kashmir from Central Asia and Aryans from the Ganges and Sindh Valleys.
There are about nine capitals of Kashmir which were constructed by various kings. These are Puranadisthan (now Pandrenthan), Pravarpur, Shrinagri (Shri is the first name of Vitasta), Awantipur, Nowshahar, Nagarnagar, Inderkoot, and Parihaspur. These have been described briefly. The main historic places have been pinpointed. Coming of various religions, philosophies and there mixing has been poetically described.
Last chapters describe the beauty of various bountiful seasons of Kashmir, especially the glow, breeze and abundance of self-grown flowers in spring. Coming of visitors in summer season which too is pleasant and attractive.
All the famous fairs and some festivals during these seasons have also been picturized. The Autumn is covered with golden colour, the fields are ripe, the red colour and sweet juice seen in various fruits of Kashmir. The Valley presents a look like a queen having decorated her body with various ornaments.
The winter of Kashmir too has its own colour and charm. The life in Kashmir during winter has been pictured with words which give a poetic colour to the nicities and difficulties of this season.
In the end the poet says that in the words of keats "when the winter comes, can spring be far behind.”
The versification of 'Padi Samyik' is embellished with the vignettes of similes, onomatopoeic, metaphors, alliterations and above all free-flowing usage of 'personification', which not only 'elevates the thought-process, but also lends grace and sublimity to the content. The sensitive poet has used his wordplay in weaving the fabric of various patterns of Kashmir, presenting a Kaleidoscopic picture of the Valley.
thokmut, tshyonmut, sangrav rochhmut
akh lolu hota pev vatith ot
dalas manz balu thang vathimut chhi shranas
kulev volmut sabuz vardan chhu panas
shod saph sarah akh son dyuthun
mudyah kamas tay prazunovun
bihith singasanas badnas valith tos
karan os razusi gatul sethah os
As a chronicler Majboor Saheb has traced the history of Satisar (Kashmir) from the 'Treaty between Nagas and Pishachas' in the prehistoric times, as documented in the 'Neelmat Purana'. Then he menders us through the annals of our history unfolding the noble and the wicked, the munificent and the treacherous, the tolerant and the bigoted, the liberal and the illiberal reign of the rulers of the host of dynasties which ruled Kashmir from time to time. One could, perhaps, read Kalhan, Hassan or Bamzai to delve into the chronicle records of Kashmir. But the peculiarity of Majboor Saheb's 'Padi Samyik' (history of Kashmir) is that he touches such topics, which historians either skip or treat superficially; like rites, rituals, vegetables (common then, forgotten now like sotsal, nunar, lisu, hak), costumes and crops etc.
Talking about the costumes, one knows that women of Kashmir have all along been presented wearing the Muslim costume. Here is some one, who has potrayed sartorially elegant costume of Panditani:
zananan ari taranga sheri asan
kalas kalposh, anzul zuj shuban
saraph chale timan putsah avezan
pheran nalas khoran pulhar lagan
hatis hanzrah, hale lungyah zabar jan
bilay achh asu tihunzay zun zotan
How can one forget savouring 'makayi vachi' with 'dungoji'?
pinglah, sholah, makayah mith katsah
vachen mechhar tu pal pal dun gujah
Post-exodus many a poet have given vent to the poignancy they suffered in the 'tandav' of militancy, but Majboor Saheb's anguish at the 'demonic dance' unleashed by the militants has lacerated his sensitive soul that every verse of the first 'Sarag' of his book 'Padi Samyik' is 'sigh and cry'. The poet's deep pain is unplugged at the turn of the events which has ravaged his beloved 'Kasheer', with fire and sword.
Enveloped by the fear-psychosis, Majboor recounts how people, nearly paralysed, turned mute spectators on seeing spectre of destruction all around. He seems particularly appalled at the apathetic attitude of neighbours, who till yestreday were his concomitants and swore by each other. Dismayed and shaken, he could not bear the emotional distress of mass exodus of his community members who were compelled to abandon their homes and hearths and seek refuge in alien and inhospitable land. He sighed:
garuch vath sopnu mayaye chhi garan
panun olah vopar jayan chhi tsharan
Being peace-loving by nature, Majboor Saheb has given more space to the tolerant Brahminical thought and influence of benevolent Muslim preceptors who arrived in Kashmir in early 14th Century, which gave birth to much envied synergy now called 'Kashmiriyat':
reshav sophev revayath thav kayim
rutsar prath kansi kanchhun rud lazim
Even after the perdition that shook Kashmir, the optimistic streak of Majboor Saheb looks solicitously for peace and harmony to return to his 'resh var' and he makes 'Biblical' wish 'follow peace with all men' and entreats people thus:
kariv kanh pay yinu gatshi ha yi resh var
me nazran dag azabas lusmuts kar
Majboor Saheb is thoroughly disgusted with post independence dispensation of governance. He thought, with independence all the wounds inficted upon us by the various regimes would be healed by our own democratically elected government, but alas!
khabar asi as gayi azad sari
gulami hund balan von dad sari
ama tarze hakumath kyazi pronuy
andur kin tshots nebur kyah nundubonuy
Denoucing, the games played by the politicians, as a scourge of the society, the poet laments:
agar zar chhuy tu teli mushkil gatshi hal
pakan kakaz hava bar zore botal
chhu asan val sund prath kanh gulamah
chhe ma khali athav neran kamah
Cursing even now prevalent corruption in all the walks of life, the poet sighs:
siyasatuken dukanan phand bazi
chhi hathiyaran hevan az kam sari
dyutukh naru tu mulkas chhuy lagan nar
phakath votuk tsovapari chhu bapar
Majboor Saheb feels that he is really helpless (majboor) to live in an alien land, for he misses the snow-capped mountains, rustle of the chinars, the sheen of turquoise lakes, the fragrance of 'bradmushk and 'yamburzal' the mouth-watering viands of his Kasheer and above all his social intercourse with his friends of yore. What a regret to live with!
'Padi Samyik' is a book for all times and for ages - for the contemporaneous to evoke their nostalgia and for the posterity to know their roots.
*The author is a well-known writer, based in Mumbai. He contributes regularly to Milchar, the publication of Kashmiri Pandit Association, Mumbai. He has also authored an anthology of short stories - Kenh Non Kenh Son.
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