From the very beginning Kashmir is known for the amalgamation of various religions, people living here belong to various sects. Shaivism and Buddhism were ahead religions than several small sects who used to call upon some gods and goddesses. Shaivism was the predominant religion in Kashmir till King Ashoka took the crown. Then King Ashoka disseminated Buddhism almost in every corner of the valley.
Auvad Bhat, an erudite philosopher and a true follower of Shaivism conveyed back King Jalauka to Shaivism who had also bowed towards Buddhism. His reversion, as he had been a Shaivite basically, was something that worked towards creating favorable atmosphere for Shaivism in the valley.
Aasiy Aess Ti Aasiy Aasaw
Aasee Doora Keri Pat Wath
Shivas Soori ni Zevun Ti Marun
Ravas Soori Ni Aati Gath
Only we existed in the times of yore
And in the coming future we shall exist,
We have been incharge from the start
Shiva never exhausts of birth and death
Rising and Setting of the Sun is forever.
Lal Ded, the mystic poetess was follower of Shaivism which was leading religion in Kashmir before Islam established itself in the valley. Shaivism stands for oneness of God that is what Lal Ded used to say in her Vakhs (The poetic verses written by Lal Ded are called Vakh, She is an initiator of the spiritual poetry called Vatsun or Vakhs, literally ‘speech’ known as Lal Vakhs, her poetry verses are the earliest compositions in the Kashmiri language and are an important part in the history of Kashmiri literature). Shaivism was very powerful religion having belief in one God only.
Lal Ded, the grand 14th century mystic poetess, people living in the valley must have heard her name at least once in lifetime. Whether you are looking for mystic path or a poetry enthusiast, her verses work for most of us. She continues to inspire and enthrall the thoughts of new generations with her mastery in the craft of presenting the heavenly magnificence, mystical implications of being and nuances of the human nature in her entangled verses. Her gifted being with spiritual powers guided her into this great state of poetic seek which takes her to the mystic heights away from the limitations of existence. She started the new poetic style for the coming generations; she bestowed her life for the deity and was undoubtedly a truly self evident true lover divinity.
Panas Lagith Roudukh Mya Cxi
Mya Cxai Cxandaan Loosum Doh
Panas Manz Yele Dunthukh Mya Cxai
Mya Cxi Ti Panas Ditum Tchoh
Enwrapped you remained but hidden, within me,
Day in day out I searched for you
And when I found you nowhere but in me,
Then you and I started whirling in ecstasy.
Kehn Tchiee Nindri Hati Wuddi
Kehn Cxan Wudden Naisir Paiyee
KehnTchiee Sraan Karith Apti
Kehn Tchiee Gaih Buzith Ti Aakri
There are some who are wakeful even in sleep
And some who are sleeping with open eyes,
There are some who are smutty even after bathe
And some who look ethnical but are mentally sick.
Lalleshwari also known as Lalla, Lal Ded or Lal Arifa lived in the 14th century. She was a mystic of the Kashmiri Shaivite sect and at the same time, a Sufi saint. Lal Ded was born in a village called Pandrethan near Srinagar. She was married at the age of twelve (12) but her marriage was unhappy, it is said that her in-laws mistreated her and she left home at the age of twenty-four (24) to take sanyas (renunciation). After becoming a disciple of Sidh Srikanth, she left her material life and became a follower of the god Shiva. As a mystic, she used to rove uncovered, reciting her poetic verses and quatrain-based poems. Her Vakhs are a collection of writings and sayings handed down from generation to generation by oral traditions by memorizing her verses. In her lifetime no authentic manuscripts are preserved, these verses were so famous that every woman could easily memorize.
Maayi Heuv Ni Prakash Kunni
Laayi Heuv Ni Tirath Kahn
Dayess Heuv Ni Bandaar Kunni
Bayess Heuv Ni Sokh Kahn
There is no light as sheeny as love
And no shrine sanctified than affection,
No relationship as strong as with God
And no comfort as comfy as fear of God.
Once Lal Arifa was wandering all the way through a forest, lost in her own being reciting and singing her verses when four friends walking through the jungle passed by her. One of them was Prince Shohab-ud-Din with his three friends Rai Shri Dal, Genda and Aakhta Ji. They were out for hunting for the whole day which left them very thirsty and were searching for some water. In search of water they came across Lal Arifa and asked if she had some water to drink, Lalla had no water with her but instead she offered them a cup of milk which they accepted wholeheartedly. First Prince Shohab-ud-Din sipped some milk from the cup and forwarded the cup to Rai Shri Dal, who after taking some milk did the same and served the cup to Genda, when Genda forwarded the cup to the last person Aakhta Ji there was no milk left in the cup. After seeing this Lal Arifa did a prediction and said that Prince Shohab-ud-Din who took the first sip of milk will become the King, Rai Shri Dal and Genda will be his ministers and Aakhta Ji will not survive the journey. The prophecy of great mystic Lal Arifa came true, Aakhta Ji died in the same journey, Shohab-ud-Din became the King of Kashmir and Rai Shri Dal and Genda became his two ministers/ generals.
Such was the immense spiritual vision of Lal Arifa. She is one of the earliest and greatest mystic poets of valley Kashmir. Lal Ded’s choice of Vakh was matchless, crisp, mysterious and delightful four line verses having deep content and meanings were fitting for the rhythm of thought that marked her poetic expression and also easy for man to love, adapt and commit to memory easily.
Shiv Tchui Thaleh Thaleh Rozaan
Mo Zaan Huend Ti Musalmaan
Turk Hi Chukh Ti Paan Parzehnaav
Soi Tchaie Sahibas Zaani Zaan
Wherever you are, Shiva is present
Don’t discriminate Hindu and Musalmaan,
Cognize your own self if you are wise
Knowing yourself is the truth of God.
Lal Arifa, a lady of great stature never distinguished people on the basis of their religion, color or creed but treated everyone as a human being. Being human was important for her not a Hindu or Muslim, every human being was equal in her sight, she was the believer of oneness, oneness of mankind, oneness of God. She left everything which connected her to this material life and started wandering from one place to another to share her insight with anyone who would care to pay attention. It had become her sole wish to speak with the common people about the factual reality of this cosmos which was quite visible to her, for her there was nothing more precious than to know one’s own self and she believed that to know one’s own self is the real truth of God. She believed that Shiva is not somebody out there, Shiva is everywhere inside and outside within and without fairly evident for those who have such blessed eye sight. Lal Ded saw no difference between self-realization and God realization.
Rangas Manz Tchuie Beun Beun Labun
Soorie Tchalakh Barakh Sokh
Tchakh Rish Ti Vaerr Galakh
Adeh Daishakh Shiv Sund Mokh
You need to find Him, who is in every shade
If you endure it, you will find contentment,
Get rid of anger, envy and grudge
Then you will witness the face of Shiva.
Kya Kareh Panchan (5), Dahan (10) Ti Kahan (11)
Wookhshun Yeth Laeji Karith Yem Gayi
Sari Samhan Aksaie Razi Lamhan
Adeh Kyazi Raavi Ha Kahan Gaaw
What will I do with these Five, Ten and Eleven?
Who emptied my filled vessel,
If we had held the rope together
Why would have these eleven lost the cow!
Lal Arifa’s meet with Mir Syed Ali Hamadani RA was a spiritual contact between two legends of spiritual world. Once Lal Arifa was walking by a street, she was in her own feel, all of a sudden she found Mir Syed Ali Hamadani RA infront of her (Mir Syed Ali Hamadani RA was a mystic Sufi poet and a famous Muslim scholar from Iran visited Kashmir three times. He was great saint who spread Islam in every corner of valley Kashmir and had a most significant hand in shaping the culture of the Kashmir. He is also known as Shah-i-Hamadan (King of Hamadhan, Iran. He wrote many books on spirituality and Sufism. During the reign of Sultan Shohab Uddin, Shah-i-Hamadan visited first time when he remained here for six months. Second time he visited at the time of King Qutub Uddin and stayed for one year. At his third and last visit he intended to stay for a longer period, but had to return back early due to some health issues. While going back from Kashmir Shah-i-Hamadan reached Khatlaan (central Asia) where he left this material world). Lal Arifa and Mir Syed Ali Hamadani RA had never met each other, it was the first time. When eyes of both hit each other, ideas were transferred spiritually to one another in a fleeting moment, not a single word was uttered by mouth. All the things were going on spiritually, both were strong mystic saints of the time.
There was no contradiction between the sacred thoughts of Lal Ded and Mir Syed Ali Hamadani RA because both were having almost same belief of oneness of God, Shaivism believes in one God and ISLAM also believes in ‘LA ILAHA ILLALAH’ (There is No GOD but ALLAH).
Goras Pritchum Saasi Latte
Yes Na Kehn Vanaan Tas Kya Naav
Pritchaan Pritchaan Thachis Ti Loosis,
Kehn Nas Nishi Kehntaam Draav
I asked my master a thousand times
How the unnamed shall be described,
I asked for several times but remained ineffective
He who seems to be nothing is the origin of something.
Muddas Gyaanich Kath No Vanyzie
Kharass Gor Dina Raavey Duh
Yus Yuth Kare Su Tuyuth Sware
Krere Karizina Panun Paan
Never teach the message of truth to a jester
You will lose your day feeding molasses to an ass,
As you sow so shall you reap?
And don’t devastate your life for naught.
Lal Ded’s heavenly verses penetrate one’s heart at a blink. She wrote Vakh in such an elegant way that it became a part of every household culture in Kashmir. According to Lal Arifa, if the aspirant looks for deity sincerely, honestly and with true love within his own heart, he will understand soon that deity is nowhere but within.
Her true devotion, true love for divinity led her to such great place she became the foundation of Kashmiri poetry. Lal Ded’s verses are so renowned and marvelously written that it became the origin of Kashmiri poetry. She is the grand legend who gave birth to such matchless, incomparable and adorable verses. Lal Arifa had such great power of spiritualism that she sometimes witnessed God in her own self.
Goran Vonum Kunuie Vatchun
Nebrai Dupnam Ander Atchun
Sui Gaw Lali Mi Vaakh Ti Vatchun
Tawai Mya Heytum Nangai Natchun
My Guru taught me sole word
Enter your inner self, leave behind this outer world,
Guru’s that one percept touched my heart
So, I Lalla started dancing naked.
Ami Paneh Sodras Naveh TChes Lamaan
Kati Bozi Dai Mion Meti Diee Taar
Ameyen Taken Pooyn Zan Shraman
Zuw Chum Braman Gareh Gatch ha
With an unspun thread I pull my boat in the sea
Would my deity hear my call and board me across,
Water drips from unbaked pitchers
Oh, my lord I am restless I want to return home.
We know very little about Lal Ded’s life and death, it is said that last conversation of Lal Ded with Hazrat Mir Syed Ali Hamadani RA was about oneness of God (LA ILLAHA ILALLAH).
Lal Ded kept one earthen saucer under her feet and other one on her head, within a blink of eye she was nowhere and the two earthen saucers were found coupled. After that day Lal Ded was not seen and no one knows about the real burial place of this legendary poetess. Although we find a grave beside historical Jamia Masjid Bijbehara Anantnag which is believed to be her last resting place.
Everything about Lal Ded indicates that she was a multidimensional human being with great spirituality and extraordinary personality who left her precious and unique mark on the pages of history. Her brilliancy as a poetess and greatness as a saint makes her immortal. (CC)
Imran Yousuf is a Poet/Writer/Columnist from Kashmir. Currently working as Columnist and Journalist, he has contributed his poems to various reputed magazines, journals and international anthologies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org