Revival of the Rich traditions
It is surely not for nothing that Kashmir is termed as the “Peer Vaer” (The Saintly Vale). Kashmir mothers the most influential saints and poets ranging from Sheikh ul Aalam to Lal Ded, Rasul Mir to Mehjoor and Habba Khatoon to Abdul Ahad Azad. The verses of these legends intoxicate even the dead souls not to speak of the living ones. But the question that has created its own orbit in the mind is Are we doing enough to procure what they have left? The answer without any iota of doubt is No, we aren’t.
Kashmir has always been a fertile land for poetry and the people here are fond of poetry as butterflies of the nectar. The atmosphere that a poet needs to produce gems of the verses is always in abundance here, be it the snow-capped mountains, the green hills, the vast fields, the fragrant gardens or the gushing waters, all this while triggering tremendous gratitude towards the creator also influenced the poetic structure and thought here. Also, the fact that we can almost see every person here stretching out his ears when a verse is recited or said, speaks volumes of the fact that Kashmiris have a natural instinct for poetry. It would be perhaps unsuitable but equally inevitable to mention that we often find the verses inscribed or written on the vehicles, walls, graveyards, signboards and hoardings here which further prove that we love poetry either consciously or unconsciously. It is like we know that we love it but we don’t know why?
While as English poetry can be categorized into several sub genres like romantic poetry, metaphysical poetry, confessional poetry etc. it would be quite apt to mention here that all such things can be found in Kashmiri poetry too and one is baffled to see the versification, meter, rhythm and rhyme of Kashmiri Poetry and I must say that if you are acquainted with the English poetry, you will find it more charming, appealing, heart touching.
John Keats, John Milton, Wordsworth, Robert Browning and Tennyson are some highly regarded poets of the English language and all of us praise them for their poetry which is fine as the fresh fiber but do we ever realize what our legends have left? Perhaps not. The diction, the verse patterns, the imagery, the paradoxes, the onomatopoeias and their usage in Kashmiri poetry is beyond the best. For example;
MAETI WAAVAN KERNEM GRAAYE DILAS DUBRAAYE GAYEM
(The love breeze blew, stumbled me, wobbled my heart)
BEY PHEREM TEMSINZ MAAYE DILAS DUBRAAYE GAYEM
(Yet again her love shaked me, wobbled my heart)
“MAEJI RECHNAS KHAND TAYE KHEERE; AAM E DOUD SEETH NAEVNAM TANN
(The mother reared me like sugar and porridge, with raw milk she cleansed me)
SUYE PAAN LOGUM MECHHE MUZOORE, ME CHU MUREY LALVUN NAAR
(The same skin got subjected to dust & labour, still the fire of love is raging inside)
“BE KAR HASS POSH VARSHUN, HANA YE NA SU MEKUN
(I would lay roses on the path, if a bit she turns towards me)
GACHEM MUSHKIL ME AASAN, BE WANDHASS JAAN LATIYE
(My worries would ease, I would offer my life to my love)
The list of such verse is unending, untiring and in exhaustive. Such verses not only run parallel to the English verses, but rather lead them in many ways. In Mehjoor we can find any modern day infested poet of the west, In Rasul Mir we can find all the romantic poets and in Abdul Ahad Azad we can find any modern English poet. Needless to mention that the two liners of Sheikh ul Aalam and Lal Ded or the great soulful sufi poetry of Shamas Faquir, Niam Sahb, Ahmad sahb, Sotch Kral etc has nearly no parallel in the literary traditions across the globe. Alas! Such great poetry remains unexplored and no serious attempt has been made to translate them in othe languages.
So, what do we lack in and where do we lag behind? The answer is; the too much obsession with English poetry and language. I am not unmindful of the fact that the present generation in which I myself fall as well too is alien to its own mother tongue to a greater extent. Unfortunate I must say and nothing else but at the same time, we have to shoulder the responsibility of preserving our rich poetic past and transmitting it to the next gens.
Where as we can see some guitarists with a melodious vocal quality coupled with some rappers have succeeded in rejuvenating the dead Kashmiri lyrics, we too must revive it by reading and recommending it to others. I must also express my displeasure at the “Suroo Ki jugalbandi” (amalgamation of the verses) to which these vocalists and rappers resort to either by cutting a fair share from the song or mingling the verses of other languages with our own. We must understand that the originality has to be maintained at any cost. Not only should we read and recommend Kashmiri poetry, we should spread it and imbibe it back into our culture. We must translate it too so that the whole world is able to feel the aroma and aesthetics of this rich asset of ours.
(The author is a former teacher and presently works as a banking associate in J&K Bank Ltd. & can be mailed at [email protected])