Arnimal - A Leading Light

Arnimal - A Leading Light

Arnimal was the wife of Munshi Bhawani Das, an erudite Persian scholar in the court of Jumma Khan, who was the Afghan Governor of Kashmir from 1788 to 1792 AD. Born in the eighteenth century, nearly two hundred years after Habba Khatoon, Arnimal followed in the wake of the tradition of her predecessor and made the love lyrics adopted by Habba Khatoon more of a plaintive wail. Arnimal's lyrics are masterpieces of Kashmiri language. The word pictures of delicate sentiments drawn by her are so vivid, real and charming that very few Kashmiri poets have reached the standard set by her. Most of these lyrics have been set to music and are sung even now by Kashmiri minstrels with great interest and gusto.

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Arnimal : A Leading Light

Jai Kishori Pandit

Arnimal was the wife of Munshi Bhawani Das, an erudite Persian scholar in the court of Jumma Khan, who was the Afghan Governor of Kashmir from 1788 to 1792 AD. Born in the eighteenth century, nearly two hundred years after Habba Khatoon, Arnimal followed in the wake of the tradition of her predecessor and made the love lyrics adopted by Habba Khatoon more of a plaintive wail. Arnimal's lyrics are masterpieces of Kashmiri language. The word pictures of delicate sentiments drawn by her are so vivid, real and charming that very few Kashmiri poets have reached the standard set by her. Most of these lyrics have been set to music and are sung even now by Kashmiri minstrels with great interest and gusto.

In the sub-continent of India, it is the unique distinction of Kashmir that she has produced poets and writers who have, from early times, left literary compositions in verse and in prose to enlighten us about their respective times and their own lives. But with the Afghan rule in Kashmir in the eighteenth century, the Kashmiri Hindu woman had lost much of her talent and zest for life. Historically the position of Kashmiri women was in many ways better than her counterparts in other regions of the country. Traditionally the Kashmiri woman had enjoyed a certain freedom in society. She had wielded power, exercised responsibility and enjoyed a high status up to the end of the 13th century. But towards the 14th century, she was no more educated; she had ceased to dabble in politics, she was denied the pleasure of singing, dancing and other creative arts of self-expression but even in such pitiable conditions a Kashmiri Pandit woman preserved the right to free movement. So when queens and ladies of the upper strata surrendered before the fanaticism of men, the women and men of lower classes stuck to their resolve of defending their rights of freedom, however, restricted. According to research by a Kashmir woman scholar, Momeen Jan, in the beginning of the 14th century, some powerful Muslim rulers introduced the system of purdah and the upper class Hindu women followed suit. The introduction of purdah, according to her, signalled a decline in the status of Kashmiri women, who began to be confined in their houses. A great blow was dealt by the Afghan rulers, who would humiliate and molest Kashmiri women. Under these conditions purdah began to be used more vigorously. The women in the middle ages fought for their right of free movement and self-expression. Little wonder that it was in these classes that heroines were born during the middle ages. Lal Ded, Habba Khatoon and Arnimal were known celebrities, who stood above the rest in stature and who achieved undying fame in philosophy and shrewdness in poetry. These heroines sprang from no soil of respectability but were the progeny of poor and toiling parents.

Under the Mughals, the Kashmiri women lost their liberty; their rights and privileges were snatched away partly by law and mainly by discouragement and disapproval of the ruling class.

In the eighteenth century, in the year 1752 AD, the Afghan adventurer Ahmad Shah Abdali, captured Kashmir from the Mughals and with the Afghan occupation the ease loving people of this heaven on earth passed through severe trials and hardships. The women were the worst sufferers. Shri P.N. Bazaz writes in his Daughters of Vitasta, "Horrifying are the tales related of the barbarities, which were perpetrated on women whose very fault was that they happened to be handsome in appearance and graceful in form." To save womenfolk from the wild behaviour of the cruel masters, the Kashmiris introduced the practice of wearing veils. Within the four walls of the Hindu homes young women had to conceal their faces by sleeves of their long loose gowns (Pheran) from the gaze of men. It was known as Nor Dion (concealment by sleeve). This confinement snatched away all the charm and intellect from these Kashmiri women. Their intellect rusted and their physical charm faded away. Yet the undying embers occasionally threw out a spark, which illuminated the darkness around. It is in this context that Shri P.N. Bazaz sees "two brave souls" as two leading lights of the dark age in Kudamal and Arnimal.

Kudamal appeared on the scene in the time of Sardar Mohamad Azim Khan, a heartless Afghan governor, who ruled Kashmir from 1813 to 1819 AD. His ruthless methods of inhuman torture and savagery to collect new taxes levied on Kashmiri Hindus were limitless. The lawlessness of the Afghan mercenaries remained unchecked. Eminent Kashmiri Pandits were forced to perpetrate a rule of terror on people for not paying taxes. Many Pandits became the target of Azim Khan's ruthlessness and arrogance. Pt. Birbal Dhar, who was a high official and revenue collector under the Afghan government became the chief victim of Azim Khan's wrath. In consultation with other patriotic and influential people of his time Pt. Birbal chalked out a plan to liberate the valley from the clutches of uncultured Afghans. So he along with his son Raj Kak tried to approach Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab. When Azim Khan learnt about the plan hatched by Birbal Dhar and some Muslim feudal lords, orders were issued to apprehend and produce in court the wife of Birbal Dhar (Kudamal) along with her teenaged daughter-in-law. In spite of the protection given to these ladies by the loyal Muslim friends of Birbal Dhar, both the ladies were located and seized. Kudamal was an experienced and politically conscious lady. She made up her mind to end her life and not to surrender to the shameful and brutal behaviour of the Afghan governor. The brave lady gulped a piece of almas (a precious stone), which was studded to her gold ring. It had its effect and she breathed her last after declaring the bitter truth to the very face of Azim Khan. She spoke to him bravely that the days of his tyrannical regime were numbered and the deliverance of Kashmir from his rule was certain. The prophecy of Kudamal was fulfilled by the subsequent events after her death

Another great woman belonging to the same dark age was Arimal. She deserves praise and admiration for her boldness in facing misfortunes and for the invaluable contribution which she made to Kashmiri literature though her ordeal and heroism were of a different kind. Daughter of a respectable family and wedded to a person of a great family, Arnimal (1737 - 1778) was pretty, imaginative and accomplished but all through her life she suffered pangs and torments of separation from her beloved husband, Bhawani Das Kachru. Jumma Khan was no less a harsh Pathan Subedar than others but he patronized learning and respected scholars. It was during his days that Munshi Bhawani Das Kachru a Pandit literateur, flourished as a Persian poet. As a common practice in the Afghan days, Arnimal was married in her childhood. Before attaining the bloom of her youth, she was deserted by her poet husband for some unknown reasons. J. L. Koul writes, “It is curious that the three most famous women poets of Kashmiri (Lal Ded, Habba Khatoon and Arimal) separated from one another by intervals of about two centuries, should have suffered domestic unhappiness at their husbands' homes and thus learnt in suffering what they sang in their songs."

The separation from her husband proved painful and tormenting for Arnimal and her emotions were terribly stirred. As a result of this sorrow and unhappiness was born the most melodious poetry full of pathos and grief. Here I am reminded of the immortal lines from the poem, Ode to Skylark, written by P.B. Shelley, a great romantic English poet of the nineteenth century. He writes:

"We look before and after,
And pine for what is not;
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought."

The importance of the love-lyrics written by Arnimal lies in this that they reflect the sorrow, sufferings, passions and longings of common Pandit women of the valley of Kashmir. Lamenting the absence of her beloved husband, Shri Bhawani Das, Arnimal said :

Shri P.N. Bazaz has transtated the lyric as:

(Owing to the pangs of separation) my complexion
"Which was like July jasmine
Has assumed the pallor of the yellow rose
O, when will he come to let me have
A look at his beloved face!"

Arnimal thinks that people, devoid of fine feelings and sensibilities, cracked jokes at her expense. She has become the object of taunts. But all this does not change her mind. The intensity of feelings made her complaints deeply touching. She continues to long for her beloved husband with great devotion and love. She says :

Prof. Jai Lal Koul translates the lyric as follows:

I have filled cups on cups for love
Go and cry out to him
Across hillsides and meadows green
I send him tender thoughts
Like deer he roams the woods afar
And leaves me here to grieve
Go and cry out to him

Arnimal's lyrics are musical; it has melodious music with its musical rhymes and ever-recurring refrains, its alliterations and its assonances that come most spontaneously from the depth of her heart. All her songs deal with human emotions and are intensely subjective. Many people who enjoy listening to music and seeing paintings, find it difficult to appreciate poetry and a suggestion as how to approach a song or a lyric is to read it aloud. Poetry uses the musical sounds and rhythms of words. Though the printed words on the page may seem flat but the actual sound and rhythm of the spoken words help the lines to come alive. It is best when reading or hearing a song that its significance begins to dawn on us. A poet uses images and we need to pay close attention to the words and sounds of poetry. A poet also loves to transpose his or her experience into a setting which is familiar to him or her. Arnimal uses images and settings most familiar to her. "Arnimal" for instance, literally interpretted, means in Kashmiri "the garland of Arni rose," the wild pale rose common in the country side. She weaves a delicate imagery out of her own name when she says:

A summer jasmine I had bloomed
But now have turned a yellow rose 
When will my love come unto me?

Born in the picturesque village of Palhalan, thirty kms away from Srinagar, Arnimal was just fitted to voice the fears and frustrations of a suppressed Kashmiri woman as she was brought up in the charming surroundings of broad leafed chinars, tall slender poplars, calm lakes and majestic mountains at her father's place. Her lol-lyrics have captured the hearts of almost all Kashmiri knowing people. All her songs have been set to music and their imagery and pathos are moving to the extreme. The music and pathos in the following lines are very touching :

Shri P.N. Bazaz translates the lyric as:

When will thy feet touch lay courtyard
I will place them on my head, O come!
For love I left my home and hearth
And tore the veil, O come!
Again she says

May Love, my jasmine, I long for thee
Come O come, I long for thee
I plighted when young my troth to thee
Why didst thou break thy plighted troth?
O sweet, O dear, I long for thee

Genuine love is abiding and perennial; it can never die or disappear; it knows neither dismay nor frustration. The sole desire of the lover is that the beloved may be happy wherever he is. The hope that both will be re-united sustains Arnimal through thick and thin. The thought of such future re-union gives her joy and courage to endure the mocks of friends and sneers of foes. She says :

"My rivals are throwing taunts at me 
Since the beloved has ceased to talk to me 
Won't he come for a short while and show me 
His face, so that I should offer 
My arterial blood as sacrifice for his safety?

The poetry of Arnimal is devoid of the mystic touch and of religious experiences. It speaks of the heart of the human soul. After separation from her husband, the spinning wheel became her constant companion and she composed her songs in tune with the sound of the revolving wheel. Its sound could not but remind her of the tragic story of her own life. She sang :

In English it is rendered as:
Murmur not my spinning wheel,
Thy straw-rings I will oil
From under the sod, O Hyacinth,
Raise thy stately form
For look, the narcissus is waiting
With cups of wine for you
The jasmine will not bloom again
When once it fades away

Arnimal's songs are poignant in their pathos, helplessness and resignation to one's fate but there is no malice found any where in them. There is an undercurrent of quiet fortitude which is characteristic of the age-old suffering of a Kashmiri Pandit woman especially when she is unhappily married or due to ill luck separated from her beloved husband. There seems to be little doubt that Arnimal, deserted and maltreated by her husband, lived at her father's home for long spells of time. In most of her songs, therefore, she expresses frustration. She always craved for the nearness of her husband. She pleaded him with all sweet things in life but he always duped her. She pleads :

I treated him to candy sweet 
He took my heart and I was duped 
Now he is gone, and I am made 
A laughing stock for an to see 
Will no one tell him what I feel?
Let us arise at early dawn
And seek my love
On hills and mountains high 
I wait and wait expectantly, 
When will my love come unto me?

Besides fortitude and resignation, these lyrics breathe a note of dissatisfaction if not revolt against the age-old custom which condemned the Hindu woman of Kashmir if she experienced unhappy marriage and unfaithful love. Thus her lyrics give voice to many voiceless Kashmiri women of her time and these lend the same musical and spontaneous voice to all such women who suffer silently in all ages. Composition of songs became a spontaneous mode of expression with Animal. Gradually she acquired mastery over words and invented a unique style of expression. Some of these lyrics have become classics in Kashmiri language. She surpasses some of the most talented English poets in the use of alliteration and imagery. Just listen to the lyric she wrote :

Tell me, O Friend, who can trust whom?
What deception he worked on me! 
Pulling at my wrists in deep sleep, 
He hurt my very vitals. 
Taking away, all my gold, 
What deception he worked on me!

In English poetry one comes across  instances of such intense emotions coupled with an intense display of imagery and alliteration. John Keats, a great poet of the romantic era of the nineteenth century scintillates his odes with many verbal gems. Like Animal, he experienced frustration in love and knew the pain and fever of passion. In his Ode to Autumn, he makes use of alliteration spontaneously. He
writes :

Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom friend of maturing sun

The lyrics of Arnimal and odes of John Keats traverse the entire range of emotions, including protests, love, sorrow and weariness. Both of them succeeded in transferring their personal trials and tribulations into universal ones. In this way, Arnimal has become one of the leading lights of the Kashmiri Hindu women who are the best examples of self-sacrifice and embodiments of love. A cursory study of her life and lyrics is enough to establish the poetical genius and mastery of technique achieved by that unlettered woman who belonged to the dark age of Afghan rule in Kashmir in the eighteenth century and yet she stands as the leading light of the unhappy period of history in the life of Kashmiri Pandits, both men and women.


1. Daughters of Vitasta by Prem Nath Bazaz
Pamposh Publications, New Delhi.
2. A History of Kashmir by Prithvi Nath Koul Bamzai,
Metropolitan Book Co (Pvt) Ltd.
New Delhi ( 1st edition, 1962 ).
3. Studies in Kashmiri by Jai Lal Koul,
Kapoor Brothers, Srinagar, Kashmir.

5. Palgrave's Golden Treasury.

Arinimaal – An enigma?

By M. K.Raina, Mumbai

Arinimaal, the poetess wife of Bhawanidas Kachroo, M.K. Raina a Persian poet himself, was born, as we understand from the available literature, sometime in 18th century. It is said that like Lalla Ded and Habba Khatoon, her family life was unhappy, which was the main source of inspiration for her poignant poetry. Ultimately Bhawanidas Kachroo deserted her and she lived mostly in her father’s home. 

Some Muslim writers and critics do nor subscribe to this story. In their opinion, Arinimaal never existed. Prominent among them, Mr. Amin Kamil has this to say (Kuliyat Habba Khatoon - Published 1995) : 

“Alongwith Habba Khatoon, the name of Arinimaal is often propped up. And comparing the (literary aspect of) both, Arinimaal is said to merit above Habba Khatoon. But the fact is that no ‘Gonmath’ with the name of Arinimaal ever existed. This, in fact, is the result of a wrong thinking, and so much has been said and conveyed of her, that her existence now becomes undoubtful.” 

In a ‘Talk’ broadcasted by Srinagar Radio in Oct. 1988, Amin Kamil categorically rejected the existence of a poet of this name. He however opines, “One could differ with me on this issue, but it does not mean we must bury our opinions. If this trend (of not allowing others to put forth their point of view) continues to be adopted in literature, it can not flourish and research will come to a halt”. But in the same breath, he pronounces his judgement, “However, the main issue is that, when Arinimaal did not exist at all, attributing poems to her or discussing anything related to her, is just without any meaning." 

Does Amin Kamil's statement carry any weight? What are the views of other writers and scholars on this account? 

According to the 'History of Kashmiri Literature' by A.K.Rahbar, Arinimaal was born in 1738 A.D. and she passed away in 1778 A.D. Prof. Hajini refutes this year of her death and says that she died in 1800 A.D. With this, Prof. Hajini confirms that the Poetess existed. 

In his book 'Gems of Kashmiri Literature', Shri T.N.Kaul writes, "As was the common practice during Afghan rule, Arinimaal too was married in her childhood to Munshi Bhawani Das Kachru, a renowned Persian poet, scholar and savant. He belonged to a respectable family settled in Rainawari, Srinagar and held a position of honour in the court of Jumma Khan, who was the Afghan governor of Kashmir from 1788 to 1792." Elaborating about Arinimaal, Shri Kaul says, "Arnimal was a talented, sensitive and sophisticated girl, deeply devoted to her husband. Apparently, she was quite happy in the new surroundings and had a carefree time throughout her childhood days before attaining adolescence. But just before flowering into full womanhood, she got a feeling that her husband was too preoccupied with his literary and other pursuits to pay proper attention to her. She tried hard to draw him towards her but fate had planned it otherwise. Munshi Bhawani Das, for some unknown reasons ignored her, tortured her and tormented her." About Arinimaal's compositions, Shri Kaul says, "Arinimaal excelled in Vatsun, the genre originally evolved by Habba Khatoon 200 years earlier. Several of her delectable creations are extant. All that she had written, has not been retrieved so far. Only about two dozen lyrics have passed to the successive generations by word of mouth." 

In his book 'Kashmiri Sahitya Ka Itihas' published by J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages in 1985, Shashi Shekhar Toshakhani, a well known scholar writes: 

"When barbaric Afghan invaders were trampling the Kashmir valley in the 18th century, this poetess (Arinimaal) was composing the 'komal' poems. These poems have a special 'colour' - a deep anguish and the simplicity & influence of folk songs which has made an inherent place in the people's mind. Her husband Munshi Bhawani Das Kachru was a famous courtier of the Afghans and also a vetern Persian poet. He abandoned Arinimaal a little time after marriage. This was a great shock to Arinimaal, and this made her a poetess. Born in Palhalan village, about 30 kms. from Srinagar, Arinimaal's beauty and love meant nothing for her husband in comparison to his royal appellations. To attract her husband, this young poetess did everything possible, to mould herself in the royal ambience. She learned royal etiquettes and music, but this had no effect on her husband. . . . . . In spite of the neglect and disgrace, she continued to consider her husband as her beloved, and believed that one day he would come back to her. And once he did come, dejected by the superficial glitter of his courtiership, but it was too late. Having waited for him all through her life, she died at a young age of 41 years. This may only be a hearsay, but the agony of her wounded love, and the restlessness on account of her desire for proximity to her lover, became the main theme of her poetry. . . . Like Habba Khatoon, Arinimaal was not the beloved of a king, but the beauty and intensity of her thirst for love and the painful manifestation of craving in her poetry, made considerable impact on the people's mind." 

Another writer Jawahar Kaul Ganhar writes about the Poetess thus: 

"It is said that Arinimaal was married in her childhood to Munshi Bhawani Dass Kachroo. Bhawani Dass was a respected person in the Afghan court. Jumma Khan, the Governor of Kashmir from 1788 to 1792, was less harsh than other Pathan rulers and he respected scholars and patronised the men of learning. By dint of hard work and intelligence, Bhawani Dass acquired mastery in Persian. Afghan dignitaries and officials were surprised over his calibre and erudition. He was a poet in Persian language. His Persian poems, entitled “Bahar-i-Tavil” is considered a major contribution to the Persian language. He wrote under the pen name of 'Naiku'. The early period of Arinimaal’s married life was happier one. But these days did not last long. Her husband who was an important person in the Darbar fell into bad company and deserted her. Due to this, Arinimaal’s heart broke and she became dejected and forlorn. Possibly due to this painful separation, she must have taken to poetry. Arinimaal sang of love, beauty and sorrow. Her poetry speaks of agony, dejection, pathos and disappointments. Her poetry melts the people’s hearts. Through her poetry, one comes across how she loved her husband. After separation, she returned to her parents’ house who were kind and sympathetic towards her. After some time, Bhawani Dass realised that he had been unkind to his wife. He decided to be with her again. He proceeded towards her village, and when he reached Palhalan, he saw that she was being carried for cremation. And it was too late. The people of the village used to cut jokes at her expense. But it did not change her. It is said that, at an advanced age, Arinimaal took to the spinning wheel and spent her days in the hope that one day her love (husband) will return." 

So much in detail about the Poetess, but Amin Kamil considers all this a cooked story and myth. Let us take a look at what another vetern Muslim poet Abdul Ahad Azad thinks of her. In the first volume of ‘Kashmiri Zaban aur Shairi’, Azad introduces the poetess thus: 

“Famous Persian writer Munshi Bhawani Das Kachru was a 'saintly person' and an expert on politics. His wife 'Arinimaal', whom we call Mrs. Bhawani Das, happened to be a jovial with a well balanced temperament. Maiden name of the poetess was 'Hiyamaal' and that at her in-laws was 'Arinimaal'." 

Equating Arinimaal with Habba Khatoon, Azad writes, "Like Habba Khatoon, this Hindu devi was also an expert on Persian music. She also tuned her Kashmiri verses with the Persian music. This lady added a second storey to the building constructed by Habba Khatoon, which looks stronger, more beautiful and cleaner than the first storey. Her poems stand at a higher level than those of Habba Khatoon for the emotional elegance, clarity of language and suave usage of idioms, but confined only to her vexations." 

Some critics do not consider 'åríní rang gòm shràvan híyè' as that of Arinimaal. They say that it has not been a custom to write one’s pen name at the start of a poem, as the practice in ‘East’ has been to write it at the end. Pt. Jia Lal Kaul is of the opinion that (by writing her pen name first) she weaves a delicate imagery out of her own name. Kamil does not agree with him. He says, word ‘åríní’ has so many times and in so many ways been used in the Kashmiri poetry. 

Commenting on Azad's repeated reference to the poetess as ‘Mrs. Bhawani Das’ (and not Arinimaal), and titling a chapter on her with the same name in his book 'Kashmiri Zaban aur Shairi' Vol: 2, Mohd Yousuf Teng, the then Secretary, J&K Akademy of Art, Culture and Languages, Srinagar says, "Azad has titled this chapter as 'Mrs. Bhawani Das'. Since Arinimaal was famous by her own name and also used the same in her verses, there is no reason that she should not be remembered with that name like we do for Lal Ded and Habba Khatoon.' Teng even changes the title of the chapter from 'Mrs. Bhawani Das' to 'Arinimaal'. But Kamil has a different view. He comments, “Teng Sahib does not know that till 1946, ‘Arinimaal’ name had not commanded that amount of fame, which it commanded in 1960.” Kamil gets confused with his own story. Here, he does not refute her existence, but only advocates that Azad Sahib was right in naming her Mrs. Bhawani Das as against Arinimaal because this name had not been very famous. 

To add more weight to his argument, Kamil says, "Abdul Ahad Azad refers to her eleven times as Mrs. Bhawani Das and four times as Arinimaal. It seems that he has straightway taken her name and biodata, even the word 'Mrs' from Kaul Sahib. Even dissimilarity in the style of writing 'Arinimaal' clearly points out that this name had not made any impact till 1946, when Azad's book was published." 

As we know, there was no standardised script for Kashmiri language earlier. This was also reflected by Azad himself when he recorded, "Non-conforming standard of the present script is responsible for the under development of Kashmiri language. The script in the present form can not represent the 'sur and awaz' of the language". 

Government constituted Script Committees in 1951 and 1954. Amin Kamil himself writes in 'Kashmiri Zabaan aur Shairi' Volume 1 published in 1959: "Now the script for Kashmiri language has been developed, which is becoming very popular. So there should be no problem on this account". 

Kamil is basically not comfortable with Azad projecting the Poetess's names (Hiya Mal and Arinimaal), saying these names were not repeated in the second volume of the book. This itself is contrary to the facts. It is correct that Azad had titled the chapter as 'Mrs. Bhawani Das', which eventually Mr. Teng changed. But Azad has at the start of this chapter noted, "About 200 years after Malika Habba Khatoon, a Pandit devi poetess was born with high intellect in Palhalan, 19 miles to the west of Srinagar. Her real name was Arinimaal." Azad continues further, "Some of the writings of Arinimaal have been lost. Some of it has transferred from generation to generation by the word of mouth, like that of Habba Khatoon. Since this poetess also possessed tremendous expertise in music, she has been able to preserve some of her writings in various meters and rhymes of music. 

Kamil's conclusion is that Azad wrote only what was conveyed to him. This in turn means that a person like Azad gave place to myths and fabricated statements in his book and did not do anything on his own! 

Let us consider what Kamil himself has to say about Azad (Kashmiri Zaban aur Shairi, Volume 2): 

"Considering that Azad was not highly qualified, his evaluation of reason, politeness in writing, extent of thought and vision, and scholarly ways tell us all about his great personality and wisdom. It is correct that some times you come across tautology, conflict of views and inconsistent way of deriving conclusions in his work, but in spite of all this, you will accept it as a historical achievement." 

There are a few anomalies in the statement of various writers locating Arinimaal’s paternal home. Azad says she belonged to Palhalan. Avtar Krishen Rehbar also refers to her as ‘palhàlanûch rångìn tåbíyat gàmû kùr’. Kamil says that he did not find mention of ‘palhàlan màlyún chhúy’ in any of the poems he collected and compiled into a book titled ‘lòlû nagmû’ as late as 1965. Obviously, he had not included Azad’s poem in the collection. However, according to Jia Lal Kaul (Studies in Kashmiri), Arinimaal was born and brought up in a house in Srinagar. 

Was Arinimaal born in Srinagar or at Palhalan? The statements are at variance. But this variation only shows that much work has not been done to collect correct and authentic information about the poetess. This however, does not provide a proof that the Poetess did not exist at all. Kamil makes his own conclusions, “Habba Khatoon was, but Arinimaal was invented. The former was given a colourful appearance to make her a ‘Afsana’ but the latter was casted as a poetess by attaching commendable poetry to her name”. He does not indicate who tried to make Habba Khatoon a ‘Afsana’ and why? 

For a comparison, let us study the phenomena of varied statements in respect of the great poetess Habba Khatoon: 

Regarding birth place of the Poetess, Birbal Kachroo & Mohi-ud-Din Foq say that she was born at Tsandahar village. Gulistan-e-Shahi tells us that she was brought up at Tsandahar (It does not mention her place of birth). Masnavi Habba Khatoon gives her birth place as China while Malla Habib of Hajin claims it to be Gurez. 

Regarding Habba Khatoon's first marriage and subsequent divorce, Birbal Kachroo says that she was married to one from her own clan. Her in-laws were against her passion for singing, so she was divorced. Hassan Khoihami says that she was married to a vile-natured and pauper person’. She got in conflict with her in-laws because of the vicious character of her husband, and finally the divorce took place. Anees Qazimi, quoting from ‘Gulistane Shahi’ writes that Habba Khatoon, on her mother’s death was brought up by Abdi Rather of Tsandhar and he got her married to Kamaal-ud-Din of Jamalata, her maternal cousin. According to Hanfi (Masnavi Habba Khatoon) Malik Darob, the king of China gifted his daughter (Habba Khatoon) to Khoja Hayaband, a businessman of Srinagar, in exchange of 3300 Mohars, which Malik Darob owed him but was not able to pay. Hayaband brought Habba Khatoon to Kashmir, where he got her married to his son Khoja Lal. After an intriguing drama of events, Khoja Lal pinned the ‘divorce paper’ to her robe while she was asleep upon his knee at Pantachhan. Another writer Malla Habib has a yet different version. According to him, a ‘Boutta Raja’ of Gurez owed one ‘manut’ (one and a half seer) of gold to Khoja Hayaband and his son Habba Lala of Lalahom village. Not in a position to pay, he handed his daughter (Habba Khatoon) to them and they brought her to their village. Hayaband got his son married to Habba Khatoon, but they could not pull on because Habba Khatoon's in-laws considered her poetry very offensive. Once, on their return from the city, Habba Khatoon and her husband rested a while at Athwajan, where Habba Khatoon fell asleep. Habba Lala pinned the ‘letter’ to her robe and left. 

Regarding Habba Khatoon's union with Yusuf Shah Chak, different people have given different versions. Abdul Wahab Shayaq writes that when Yusuf Shah was coronated, he had a high calibre saint-poetess named Habiba (in his court!). Birbal Kachroo says that after desertion by her in-laws, she was spotted by Yusuf Shah’s men. Fascinated by her beauty and voice, they took her to the prince (Yusuf Shah). He was highly impressed by her beauty, so he married her. Hassan Khoihami has this to say, “She (after divorce from her first husband) was sighted by Yusuf Shah while she was reciting a Kashmiri poem. Yusuf Shah could not control himself and the next day he presented lot of wealth to her parents and married her”. Mohd. Din Foq says, “One day, while singing in her fields, she was spotted by Yusuf Shah. He got attracted to her. He summoned her husband and paid him five thousand Dirhams to divorce her. Then Yusuf Shah married her”. Masnavi Habba Khatoon has another story to relate. It says, “Yusuf Shah dreamed that a beautiful woman (after being divorced by Khoja Lala) got drowned in the river at Pantachhan. He left for the place on a horse and also sent his Darbari poet Mulla Salman in a ‘Parand’ to rescue her. They came to know of her abilities while she pointed our certain discrepancies in the musical notes of Mulla Salman. Yusuf Shah brought her to his palace and kept her, not as his wife, but as a counsellor and advisor”. 

What do the above variations indicate? Do they provide a proof that the stories were cooked and that there was no Habba Khatoon? 

Arinimaal’s poem ‘mê shòkû yàrû sûndí bårímas pyàlû tû, àlav dìtòsè’ appeared in the Pratap Magazine (1936 Silver Jubilee Issue) among ten of the ‘Prachlit Geet’, not attributed to any author. The same poem had already appeared in the book ‘Studies in Kashmiri’ authored by Jia Lal Kaul, where it was attributed to Arinimaal. Akhtar Mohi-ud-Din has an objection, not for showing this poem later as a ‘Prachlit Geet’, but for having it previously attributed to Arinimaal?  

There can be lapses while compiling and editing volumes. If the relevant poem was falsely attributed to Arinimaal (as Mr. Akhtar seems to communicate) in his book by Mr. Kaul way back in 1968, it is strange that no body pointed out to this anomaly till August 1978. 

Regarding lapses in publication, Mr. Kamil has already come across such a situation. He corroborates, “I was able to get seven ‘bands’ of ‘dòlkì shàr’ written by Nunda Dar Katheel from Qadeem Shah of Sadrabal. I handed over two of them to Hajini for inclusion in the book ‘käshír shäyírì’. Instead of giving any reference to Qadeem Shah, Hajini referred to them as ‘zabaani revayath’. 

Contrary to the doubts expressed by learned writers regarding her existence, Arinimaal continued to be popular among the masses. Azad says, "Had the charismatic narration of Habba Khatoon and Mrs. Bhawani Das not maintained this exclusiveness (of love poetry), most of their verse would have not found place in the literal and universal congregations. Since the verses were sweet and melodious, and very popular with the public in general, other poets also followed this trend." 

Above statement cannot be termed as a casual statement by Azad. He must have been witness to the popularity of Arinimaal's verses. And if there was no Arinimaal, there would be none of her verses and thus no popularity. Now, where did Azad find her verses popular with the public? Did he travel extensively to know the facts. This is what Mohd. Yusuf Teng has to say in this regard: "This work of Azad (Kashmiri Zabaan aur Shairi) is the first memoir of Kashmiri language and literature, as also its first history and almost first critical appreciation. Azad is the first Kashmiri researcher who travelled through length and breadth of Kashmir to study the genealogy of poets and trace their poetry. He met their relatives and friends, and faced their frowns and refrains. But he continued with his mission." 

Jia Lal Kaul’s book ‘Kashmiri Lyrics’ (1945) changes the name of the Poetess from ‘Rani’ to ‘Mrs. Bhawani Das - Arinimaal’. Mr Kamil considers this a clever move to make the name more receptive (in the public). 

It has been customary for Kashmiri Pandits to give their brides a new formal name as also a pet name. This pet name has always been used by one and all in a family, with a touch of love and respect. Hiyamal became Arinimaal for the world and 'Rani' for the inmates. Referring to her as Rani, does not restrain anybody from referring her as Arinimaal. 

One point needs attention and analysis. About Azad's work, Mohd. Yusuf Teng writes on 12.11.81: 

"Manuscripts of the Ab. Ahad Azad's book 'Kashmiri Zabaan aur Shairi' were divided into three parts. First part consisted of general studies of the language and literature, critical appreciation and comments. The committee which compiled the manuscripts for this part comprised Mr. Mohd. Amin Kamil, Prof. Shakeel-ul-Rehman and Dr. Padam Nath Ganju. And this part was published in 1959." 

One fails to understand that Mr. Kamil, who was a member of the above Committee  had no objection whatsoever to the content of Azad's manuscripts. In fact, the content was compiled and okayed by the said committee before it was printed in 1959. Why did he have to wait till 1988 to express his modified view point on air, or till he edited the book on 'Habba Khatoon' in the year 1995? It is important to note that Abdul Ahad Azad died in the year 1948 and was not alive to counter Kamil's theory. 

Professor Margoob Banihali states in the 15th Edition of Anhar, Volume 12 (1989) that Arinimaal gave birth to two children, but they did not live. Because of this, her in-laws developed hate for her.” Kamil does not accept this theory. He doubts Banihali's statement. 

Kamil says, “It was said that Arinimaal returned to her paternal home immediately after her marriage (without any issue). But on learning from ‘Tawareekhe Hasan’ that Birbal Dhar was married to Munshi Bhawani Das’s daughter, Rehbar Sahib (Avtar Krishen Rehbar), in order to save the situation from going out of hands, conceived a novel idea that possibly Bhawani Das had married twice”. 

There is every possibility of Rehbar's statement being correct. There are so many instances to show that Pandits till recent past, married more than once. And one thing is not clear. Instead coming to conclusion that Arinimaal’s childless theory was wrong, Kamil is bent upon proving that the woman did not exist at all. 

Akhtar Mohi-ud-Din, in a letter to Kamil says, “There is some difference in the texts of ‘mê shòkû yàrû sûndí bårímas pyàlû tû’ as given in Jia Lal Kaul’s ‘Studies in Kashmiri’, and that given in the ‘Pratap’ Magazine by the same compiler. Some times I doubt whether the wife of Bhawani Das Kachroo was a poet at all? If she was, was she named Arinimaal?” 

There are numerous instances to show that verses of various poets have been recorded differently at different places. Even Amin Kamil accepts this in the Chapter 4 of his book ‘Kulyat Habba Khatoon’. He records, “Our old poetry has passed from one generation to another through word of mouth only. So some was lost and some was saved. Some reached us in the original form, and some lost its shape.” 'Kulyat Habba Khatoon' stands testimony to this fact, as the author has painstakingly recorded the changed versions (or the original versions?) in the margins. If Mr Kaul has recorded two forms of the same verse at two different places, only he is to take blame. This however does not nullify very existence of the author. 

Kamil Sahib refers to ‘Bahare Gulshan Kashmir’, a collection of poems of Kashmiri Persian writers, published in two volumes in 1931, which, according to him, also contained Kashmiri poems of Lalla Ded and Ropa Bhawani as examples. “Had there been an Arinimaal, she would not have been ignored by its compilers”, he says. Kamil Sahib does not mention if Habba Khatoon was included? If she also did not figure in the said collection, does it mean that there was no Habba Khatoon? 

At another place, Kamil writes, “Let us not forget that Mahmud Gaami is a historical fact and Arinimaal a conceived character.” All this to show that the poem ‘åríní rang gom shràvan híyè’ is that of Mehmud Gaami and not that of Arinimaal. 

On the controversy regarding this poem, Azad has this to say, "We often find such lamentation in the verses of Arinimaal. ... This poem has been published in the name of Mehmud Gaami, but the circumstantial evidence and peculiarity of the ode tell us that it reflects the emotions of Mrs. Bhawani Das." 

T.N.Kaul in his book 'Gems of Kashmiri Literature' writes: "It will not be out of place to mention here that some cussed and overzealous literary critics have wrongly attributed one of Arinimaal's most pathetic ditties - 'åríní rang gom shràvan híyè', to her contemporary, Mahmud Gami (1765-1855)." T.N.Kaul further writes:"However a 90 year old descendant of the Kachru family told this author (Kaul himself) in an exclusive interview in Srinagar in 1987 that Arinimaal had herself also recorded a large number of her poems while she remained separated from her beloved at Palhalan village. After her death, these creations were handed over to the old man's ancestors who kept them in safe custody. But in view of the atrocities perpetrated by the Afghans in the closing years of their rule on the civilian population and the consequent risk of damage to the invaluable poems, the Kachrus were obliged to deposit this treasure in a 'Chah' (dry well) near the Hari Parbat hill.

Shashi Shekhar Toshakhani, in his book 'Kashmiri Sahitya ka Itihas' clarifies further. He writes: "This is one of the most popular Kashmiri songs, because of its melody and compassion. It is so popular that Mehmud Gaami, a famous poet has also used its few lines in one of his poems. Because of this, some critics like Ghulam Nabi Khayal consider it to be originally of Mehmud Gaami. But by detailed analysis and comparison, Autar Krishen Rehbar has proved that the basic lines are that of Arinimaal only. Rehbar has clearly shown that these are two different poems, only its refrain, 'åríní rang gom shràvan híyè' is common in both." 

There are several instances where verse of one poet has wrongly (may be inadvertently) been attributed to other. This is amply clarified by the following instance: 

Commenting on the confusion regarding year of birth of Mehmud Gaami, Naji Munawar writes, "After going through the manuscripts titled 'Yakh Hakayath' and 'Ponpuri' we can come to the conclusion that either the Mehmud's era has wrongly been calculated ..... or, there has been another poet named Mehmud, whose verse has got messed up with that of Mehmud Gaami, like, some of Maqbool Amritsari's poetry was being printed in the name of Maqbool Kralawari." 

Kamil does not stop here. Regarding ‘kävi víhínúm aríníní ...’ poem, he says, “This is said to have been attributed to Arinimaal only because it contained the word ‘Arini’. It is clear that this poem was not attached to her as late as 1946." Azad, on the other hand assumes the poem to be that of Munshi Bhawani Das. In another twist to the issue, Kamil feels pleasure in putting this poem in the basket of Habba Khatoon. He says, “This poem is also said to be that of Habba Khatoon. And genuinely so, because she has, during her royal times, composed some poems with twisted words (lafzû gyúnd kåríth). This poem also contains the same twist.” Kamil does not mention who told him so and with what proof? 

Another point of contention has been the verse 'tarvûní margû tû vasvûní bàlò', in the poem 'mê shòkû yàrû sûndí bårímas pyàlay', as it appeared in the Pratap Magazine edited by Jia Lal Kaul in the year 1936. Amin Kamil, as also Akhtar Mohi-ud-Din are of the view that the verse should read 'khasvûní margû tu vasvûní bàlò'. They use it as a proof of bungling by Mr. Kaul. 

Literary, a 'marg' is the plain area at the top of a mountain or between the mountains, which can only be crossed and not ascended. Hence, 'tarvûní margû' is more authentic.

Arnimal-A Love-Lorn Poetess

It is a pleasing yet strange coincidence that Lal Ded (14th Century), Habba Khatoon (16th Century) and after a lapse of two hundred years Arnimal adorned Kashmiri literature through their poetical geniuses.

Not unlike Habba Khatoon love-songs of Arnimal (1337-78), 'Vachan' in Kashmiri, are with us as a treasured bequest. Songs as extant in 'Banasaur Katha' & 'Sukh-Dukh Carit' testify that Kashmir had an entrenched and long-standing tradition of writing lyrics. In Kashmiri semantics 'Vachan' is the original form of lyrics embodying the lilting lyricism of folk-songs. As 'Vachan' is deeply imprinted by folk-songs, it is not quite easy to tell it from the genre of folk-songs. In fact, the very recognition of 'Vachan' as such is equally difficult.

The historians of yore have written next to nothing informative of Kashmiri language and literature. There are some stray references about Lalla Ded as a yogic practician and Sheikh Noor-ud-Din alias Nunda Rishi as a devotees of God and also about Habba Khatoon as the beloved wife of Yusuf Shah Chak.

The lyrics of Habba Khatoon available via oral tradition are sung in accompaniment with musical instruments like 'tumbaknari' and 'naut' on marriage festivities in Kashmiri homes. The tradition has lasted for umpteen generations. Even today a good number of her lyrics are found scribbled in the song-books of folk-musicians.

Arnimal lived during the tyrannical and barbaric rule of Afghans (invited to Kashmir by Kashmiri Muslims). Prem Nath Bazaz has characterised Afghan rule as 'dark age' in the history of has Kashmir. When girls for fear of being lifted away were married off before the onset of puberty. The social structures of that period were as iniquitous and discriminatory as the present-day society is. The status of women was worse than what it was in the Mughul rule. Their life and living with in-laws was a woeful and ignominious saga. They were treated as life-less commodities by a male-dominated society and were fraudulently posed as models of renouncement, patience, piety and love when actually they were subjected to untold oppression and exploitation and were ruthlessly traumatised and rejected.

Arnimal Kachru was also married off at a pre-puberty stage - a stage of sheer innocence. She attained maturity and youth-fulness in the house of her in-laws, a respectable family of Kachrus living at Rainawari, Srinagar. Her husband, Bhawani Das Kachru, was a high calibre Persian poet, historian and politician. He was an achiever in the domain of Persian language and wrote under the pen-name of 'Neku'. The Afghan governor, Juma Khan (1788-92) was a shade removed from his tribe and respected scholars and literatuers. It was in this period that Bhawani Das Kachru scaled heights of success and fame. The Afghans too valued his innate creative abilities that were multi-pronged and varied. Bhawani Das Kachru as a poet of poetic symposia that were held in honour of the Iranian, Afghanian and other literatuers and earned a loud applause for the recital of his scintillating Persian poems. Neku achieved tremendous reputation for innovation of a new metre (bahar) in Persian. His celebrated poetical work, 'Bahar-i-Tawil', written in the same metre became a land mark in the realms of Persian poetry. The scholarly and talented poet moulded in the feudal ambience of Muslim courts grew absolutely indifferent to his spouse who was mad in love with him.

Arnimal spared no effort to establish an emotional bond with her beloved husband. She picked up the tunes of music and tried hard to acquire the graces behaving Muslim court ambience. But, to her ill-luck, she failed to achieve much of success. The distance between the duo yawned into a wide chasm. Neku turned sullen and indifferent .

Burning in the agonising fires of separation Arnimal in all disgust and melanchoby returned to her partents living at Palhalan, a hamlet (in Baramulla district). A line from her sufficiently supports it -

O golden Jasmine, you blossomed in jungles, bushes and shrubs

but Palhalan is your parental abode.

Her captivating songs ooze out varied shades of pain and agony. Separation from her spouse was what tormented her. Rejected love was what agonised her. Here is a lyric soaked in pain and agony -

Wreaths of flowers I wove for my husband

Would that he were to accept it

Cups of wine I filled for him

Would that he were to come

I yearn to clasp him in my arms.

Stung by intolerable pangs of separation she is deeply pining for her husband who is distances away from her. In agony she addresses her friend -

O friend, tell him about my agony

I know not what my fault is

Repaired he to my cruel co-wife -

He is hers, since I learnt it

My whole being is set afire I lost my appetite

I am eagerly waiting for him

How I wish he were with me

Despaired and for saken forsaken Arnimal expresses her pathos -

Soaked in tears my hem is

awaiting you my days dragon

Why this futile vanity -

She again sings in melancholy -

When will your solf feet touch our threshold.

I place them on my pate

In agony I came out searching for you

removing veils and barriers all

Pray come to me

The marital life of Arnimal Kachru was seething with pain and anguish. Says she -

O friend, why my husband separated from me

I bathed clean for him

All adornments went useless, he did not come,

O loveless, I can't bear with your separation any longer

Without you I shall fade away

Now no more can I wait even for a short while

Arnimal has sought ample succour from nature to ventilate her heart-ravaging pain and anguish. The creepers (hiya), yellow roses (arni-posh) and narcissuses (nargis) have oft found a mention in her lyrics. Multi-form manifestations of nature like vast green fields, flowing rivers and murmuring rivulets, awesome mountains and snow-capped peaks have deftly been delineated in the context of her gloomy moods and pathos-laden feelings caused by separation from her husband.

For him have I filled brimful cups of wine

O  friend, could you go to summon him

On way to meadow, back from peaks

O friend, take my blessings to him.

Rendering me hapless he frisked away like a deer

Call him, platefuls of sweets & candies are awaiting him

Tears are dribbling incessantly from my eyes

How to bear with pain and agony

Call him loud and clear

Again she says -

O friend, why does he kill me by inches?

I left my native abode for him

Why does he not take care of me?

He deserted me in the dense darknight


I am a youthful beauty, abandoned my abode for him whole day passed awaiting him

His gnawing indifference has rendered me mad

I bear with taunts flung by one and all

Addressing her husband she in all despair busts out -

O, my love,

You were the friend of my youth

Initially I knew not how to value it

Wasted it away, Now I am pining and withering

Show me your countenance, I am dying for a mere glimpse

O, friend of my youth.

There is an exemplary confluence of hope and despair in the love-laden lyrics of Arnimal. Helplessness, unfathomable perseverance, endless wait and incessant agony are the emotional states that weave the warp and woof of her lyrical orchestrations. But the world of her intense emotions is lacking in broad sweep. Her lyrics limpidly mirror the mind of a deserted woman who is in deep despair, lonely and yearning for a rendezvous with her spouse distances away from her. She is in anguish yet she is hopeful and optimistic. She is a broken reed, yet she yearns for a concourse with her husband who has forsaken her. Malice and ill-will never come her way. She could have screamed fire and fury at her husband who has cruelly left her high and dry. But she maintains her calm and poise. Says she -

Your love impelled me to abandon my abode you knit up your brows and frowned at me

I wished you long life as that of Lomesh Rishi

Who ill-advised you not to return to me?

Pouring out her heart Arnimal says -

Would that he were to come once

I would sacrifice my life for him

Why he trampled me, a creeper that has fully bloomed

O friend, I have none to confide

I am teased and mocked at

What if he does not talk to me

Let him live long and be happy

Let him be with my co-wife

Arnimal is tormented by pangs of separation and is in hell-fires of despair, yet she sings of hope and happiness -

O hope of the hopefuls! enliven my heart with hope

Remove dark despair from it

He repaired to Lahasa for benefits

I am eagerly awaiting him

Sow the seeds of warm friendship

And wish no hurt even to enemies

She is under the perpetual grip of blues and greys. She is wretched and forlorn. Says she -

He never stood by his promises

He bewitched me & went away

O friend, can you manipulated his return?

Everything in this world is fleeting and transitory

Flowers bloom and soon fade away

Memories of her spouse cause her pain and anguish. She weeps and wails for his quick return. In pain and grief she sings -

When will he return to me, a woman in bubbling youth?

I am shedding tears endlessly

Can I ever forget the deep craving for him?

My whole being is afire like a coniferous twig

My pains know no end, tears in torrents

Go on dripping from my eyes.

Despite her husband's indifference and sullenness Arnimal never ceased to yearn and long for his close companionship. A lyric of hers opening with the yellow-hued rose (arin) is highly popular with lovers of Kashmiri poetry and music. She sings -

Mine is a life brimming with pain and agony

you got my heart perforated by the taunts of others

You got it burnt like a half burnt cloth-piece

Who will convey my wretchedness to him

When will he turn up to show his coantenance to me


Cheating me he stole away

He mocked at me in presence of  strangers

When should I expect him back?

This is quite a popular lyric, almost on the tip of every Kashmiri’s tongue Mehmood Gami impressed so much by the lyric has in one of his lyrics immortalised the refrain. Arnirung gom shrawn...". In fact, the two lyrics are of different stamp and are not the same in feel and style. Sh. AK Rahbar has dilated in detail on the two lyrics in his work 'History of Kashmiri Literature' and made thorough comparative study. His decisive conclusion is that the opening lines are that of Arnimal and not that of Mahmood Gani. The lyric of Arnimal excels that of the latter in its naturalness and lyrical melodiousness.

The following lyric of Arnimal is an exemplary specimen of highly artistic use of word and meaning in Kashmiri language  -

When in slumber he pulled at my soft wrist

The ornament adorning my arm hurt me great

He snatched every bit of gold from me

O friend, he left me sad and forlorn

Who should believe whom?

Another famous and quite popular lyric of Arnimal is that of 'spinning wheel' which became her inseparable companions after separatism from her spouse. The lyric is bequeathed to us from our mothers and grand-mothers and is typically Arnimalian in content and style.

O spinning wheel! do not murmur and grumble

Thy straw-rings I shall oil

Raise thy head from under the earth, O! hyacinth

Arnimal is a master craftsman of simple, bewitching and melodious language, which is not excessively burdened with Persian and Sanskrit vocabulary. Each word of hers is natural, plain, musical and lilting. Her love-lorn mindscape is deeply touching and pathetic.

In an appraisal of Arnimal in his work 'Kashmiri Language and Poetry' Abdul Ahad Azad, a poet critic, writers", Arnimal was masterly in musical arts. This is why her lyrics are found in various works on music. They have the same hue and tune of Habba Khatoon and occasionally she even outstrips her".

In his editorial note Mohammad Yusuf Taing puts, "Azad has not elaborately detailed out the statement that Arnimal outstrips Habba Khatoon. It appears that his observation underlines naturalness and lyrical potential of her songs". Taing has no reluctance to admit that Arnimal's lyrics are quite touching and sensitizing.

Writes Shashi Shekher Toshkhani, "the deftness to weave captivating images establishes Arnimal as an unrivalled poet of her times. Masterly communication of heart-felt feelings and experiences is her forte. She is free from laboured and unwanted ornamentation of word and meaning. This features makes her language simple and musical with powers to touch our hearts.

The lyrics of Arnimal are suffused with an optimism as she never let go hope about the return of her husband. As per an oral tradition Bhawani Das Kachru having been tired of ostentatious court life returned to meet Arnimal. But the pangs of protracted separation had seared her so much as to cause her death at a young age of forty-one. The twain could not meet. Tragic as it is!


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