Imran Yousuf

Mehmood Gami who fell in love with word GAMI

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Mehmood Gami, the 19th century Sufi poet of Kashmir, born at Dooru Shahabad in 1765 A.D and passed away in 1855 A.D. Shahabad, then called Ver Pargana (Verinag), is one of the ancient villages of valley Kashmir. When Mughal Emperor Jahangir along with his wife Queen Noor Jahaan visited Kashmir, they were mesmerized by the heavenly incomparable beauty which changed their mind and both decided to stay at Verinag for a while to take some pleasure in the lap of nature. A main tourist attraction of this place is Verinag Spring; the place is named for the said spring. The spring gets its crystal clear water from Pir Panchal range and is believed to be the source of Jhelum.

In early nineties Jehangir started the work of construction of the place, decorated Verinag, implanted Chinar trees in the park and reconstructed spring Verinag beautifully. His wife Noor Jahaan visited the place wholly and found herself in profound love with the blessed nature and eventually named it Shahabad.

Arawadri (presently Mehmoodabad) is a hamlet situated at the bank of river Bringie in Shahabad which is also birth place of Mehmood Gami. In 1960’s, when Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad was Prime Minister of J&K State, the whole village got badly damaged due to massive fire. When Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad personally visited the village Arawadri he came to know that the village is the birth place of legendary poet Mehmood Gami. He was surprised to see the awful condition of Gami’s village.  He reconstructed the village and Aastaan-i-Aaliya of Mehmood Gami and changed its name from Arawadri to Mehmoodabad.

Rooshi Walo Poosh Ha Lagai

Gosh Thavtham Wanyoo Zaari

Come and I will deck you with flowers,

Pay heed to my pleas.

Shaani Zulfan Karith Yanie

Shaaki Sumbul Beun Beun TChi Tanie

Paani Zanakh Bi Kya Wanie

Jaan Dilas TChem Bekarari

Mehmood Gami, the name is familiar throughout valley; he got high reputation because of his multidimensional endowment of writing. He wrote for everyone’s taste in almost all forms of poetry in Kashmiri. Traditional songs, Mathnavi, Vatsun, Ghazal, Naat etc. although his keenest boon dwells in the field of Mathnavi. His powerful and prestigious verses in the unconditional love of Prophet Muhammad Salallahu Alayhi Wasalam enter reader’s heart with great love and affection. He has also composed unique and inimitable verses in the honor of many Sufi saints. Here a beautiful poem penned in the honor of Hazrat Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jeelani (R.A), the king of all Awaliya Allah.

TChukh Aalman Badshah,

Ya Abdul Qadira

Beydaad Gomut TChum Setha,

Ya Abdul Qadira

You are the king of all worlds,

O Abdul Qadir!

My pleas are not being resolved,

O Abdul Qadir!

In Mehmood Gami’s childhood Persian was commanding language in Kashmir and most of the people used to read and write in Persian. Mehmood Gami belonged to a poor family yet his father sent him to Madrasa (school), where every alphabet was being taught in Persian language. Gami learnt Persian language in tender age and got firm grip on the language but still was very fond of writing in his own mother tongue. He was the first poet who translated several Persian books into Kashmiri including widely known and esteemed “Laila Majnu” which is considered as most famous and illustrious book achieved majestic fame across valley.

Aaw Mehmood Gadha

Sada Bozum Madan Vaaro

Gascte Bozeth Pasey Khuda

Maerr Manday Madan Vaaro

Kar Saa Myon Nyaay Andey

Maerr Manday Madan Vaaro

Like a beggar Mehmoood has come,

Pay heed to my appeal, Oh My beloved!

For God Sake listen to my plea,

O My sweet dear beloved!

When shall my problem get redressed?

O My sweet dear beloved!

Once Mehmood Gami was on his way to Madrasa where he came across a thirsty Saintly man who asked him for some water but he was carrying no water with him so he went back home and instead of water he brought a cup of milk for the thirsty saint. Mehmood Gami served the cup of milk to the saint who sipped half of milk and rest served back to child Mehmood Gami and asked him to drink. When he drank the other half cup of milk, he found himself wholly fuddled and perplexed. After getting the consciousness back he did not find the saint around, he searched for him everywhere but could not locate. This quest granted Gami a spark of initiation and he composed his first verse in separation of his beloved saint who washed his innerself with a sip of milk and filled his heart with the love of God.

Choori Yaar Cholum Tye Tuhi Ma Duethwon

Dooran TChu Maraan Graie Lo Lo

Secretly my beloved scarpered, did you see him?

Earrings he is wearing and shaking them.

Mehmood Gami was deeply inclined towards Kashmiri language and he took the step to write Persian form of Mathnavi (Masnavi) and Ghazal in Kashmiri poetry nonetheless he was well versed in Persian as well as in Arabic and had intensely studied Persian poets particularly Moulana Jami and Nizami.

Sir Bi Wandai TChukh Soun Sardar

Ya Rasool Asalaam Alaik

Chean Tareef Karaan Jami

Chean Sifaat Wanan Nizami

Wen Kya Weni Mehmood Gami

Ya Rasool Asalaam Alaik

You are our leader, I shall sacrifice my head for you,

Greetings to you Ya Rasul Salallahu Alayhi Wasalam

Hazrat Mawlana Jami admires you

Nizami tells about the holy qualities of you

What shall Mehmood Gami say now?

Greetings to You Ya Rasul Salallahu Alayhi Wasalam

Mehmood Gami was a Sufi of great competence, had firm grip on languages and was fond of debates and discussions. He was extremely respected and loved by his disciples. He was broad minded, jolly, witty and straightforward man used to mix-up with the people promptly.

In ancient times there used to be a tradition of women singing till late hours of night or entire night on some special occasions. Gami also used to participate and sing his verses (Wanwun) on such occasions, which is one of the reasons people got his poetry memorized.

According to oral lore once Mehmood Gami dressed like a woman was dancing (Roff) and singing his composed lyrics with other women of the vicinity. His beloved was also present there. He spent whole night singing and dancing and at the crack of dawn he dedicated some beautiful verses to his beloved.

Mehmood Gami TChuie TChi Aamut Sawaley

Sawal-i-Khuda TChuie Yoor Wal Badwal Jamaaliaye

Mehmood Gami has come here for nothing but you

For Allah’s sake come to me Oh My sweetheart beloved!

Once Mehmood got an invitation for a Mushaira (literary function) which was to be celebrated at Srinagar. Great writers, poets and philosophers of the time attended the function who recited their latest and best verses to impress one another. Majority of the writers and poets of the time used to write in Persian so obviously recited their lyrics in Persian. When Mehmood had his turn he recited some of his best verses in Kashmiri language, other poets present in the function laughed and teased him for reciting in villager’s language (Kashmiri) and started to tease him by calling GAMI (villager) but Mehmood Gami was a man with great intellect, he added the word Gami to his name and said, “I fell in love with the word GAMI so adopted it as my Pen name”. From that day Mehmood became Mehmood Gami, from the last two centuries this name is renowned and well-known all around the valley among readers and listeners of Kashmiri poetry particularly Sufi music lovers and the people who used to irritate Mehmood Gami remained unknown.

Kativ Tchukh Nundi Baaney

Waloo Maashoki Miyaney

Mya Kurr Na Channi Chaney

Waloo Maashoki Miyaney

Where are you my sweetheart beloved?

Come to me, Oh My dear love!

I call you and I search only you

Come to me, Oh My dear love!

According to oral traditions legendry romantic poet of Kashmir Rasul Mir hailed from Dooru (a native village of Mehmoodabad). In tender age he used to visit Mehmood Gami quite often and had many debates and discussions with him. When in a Mehfil Rasul Mir first time recited some of his verses, it left everyone stunned even Mehmood Gami was astonished to hear such melodious voice and eminent peak of romantic poetry.

After the event Mehmood Gami stated about Rasul Mir, “Rasul Mir will be one of the greatest poets of Kashmir, he is having vast and striking grip on words and rhythm, such greatness comes to a man after crossing the age of 40, but Rasul Mir is a destined blessed divine poet who is poetizing such great verses at an early age and for that reason he will not outlive till ripe age because some things should remain veiled”. Rasul Mir died at very young age.

(There is uncertainty between historians about Rasul Mir’s age; some historians write that he died at the age of 68 while others say that Rasul Mir died at a very young age of 37, according to oral lore which most of the people believe is true, that he left this world at a young age).

Rasul Mir was deeply influenced by Mehmood Gami and regarded him as his spiritual guide. When Rasul Mir was enjoying the peaks of his poetry and had acquired reputation throughout Kashmir he got stuck while writing one of his famous Ghazal:

Thare Zan Poosh Harie Kael

Bale Marieye Ma Roosh

Today or tomorrow I shall fall like blossoms in autumn

For my sake don’t be annoyed or I shall die.

He got jammed on the concluding couplet of ghazal in which poet mentions his name, he cerebrated for a long time but pertinent words were not coming to his mind. When nothing was coming his way he decided to visit his spiritual guide Mehmood Gami who had already left the world. When Rasul Mir reached the grave of his Murshid, he bowed and kept his head on the grave for some time. He fell asleep and had a dream in which he saw Mehmood Gami who assisted him to compose the last couplet of his Ghazal. The verse is:

Matche Nindrey Manz Hi Kail

Patchi Aatash Gundnam

Metchi Rasul Mir Aatchi Ma Kail

Beal Mariye My Roosh

In deep sleep he evoked my

heart with ambitious passion

Rasul Mir may die in few days

Oh my beloved! Don’t be annoyed.

Mehmood Gami earned utmost esteem and honor by Yousuf Zulaikha (Masnavi) one of the pioneers in his writings and is regarded as one of his superlative contributions to Kashmiri literature. Yousuf Zulaikha is comprised of 700 verses and is first and most popular Masnavi in Kashmir.

Mehmood Gami was very much interested in folktales and traditions. He had the potential to fathom the tradition and recreate it in his own grand style. He not only inspired his peers but also the poets of the upcoming generations.

Mehmood Gami has also composed many Naat-e-Sharief (Exalted Poetry) in the honor of Holy Prophet Muhammad Salallahu Alayhi Wasalam, which are still being loved, recited and sung in all Samma  Mehfils (music session).

Meherbaan Gasti Baman Ya Muhammad

Bi Wandie Sir Qadaman Ya Muhammad

Bless my heart with thy blessing O Muhammad!

I shall sacrifice my head under thy feet O Muhammad!

Mehmood Gami used to remain utterly absorbed in meditation and was blessed with many spiritual powers, there is tremendous spiritual depth in his poetry even few saints could accomplish such great powers where they get hold on “Tie Zamaanie wa Tie Mekaamie”(grip on time and space).

Once Mehmood Gami with his disciples was in “Mehfil-e-Samma”, samma was at its zenith when a disciple wished that they should had visited Hazratbal (Dargah Sharief) for Deedaar (witness the presence) of Moi-e-Muqqadas.”

“Do you wish to attend the celebration of Moi-e-Muqqadas at Hazratbal”, Mehmood Gami asked. “We would love to but it is impossible now. How can we reach there”, disciples asked.

Mehmood Gami went into deep meditation and said his disciples, “Close your eyes.” All disciples closed their eyes, and after a moment asked them to open their eyes. When disciples opened eyes they found themselves present at “Teilbal” (place nearby Hazratbal) and they could see Dargah Sharief few steps ahead of them. They were astounded to witness such spiritual power of their Murshid (guide, teacher). All the disciples had deedar and were extremely grateful to their Murshid who let them witness “Moi-e-Muqqadas” with the help of his mystic powers (“Tie Zamaanie wa Tie Mekaamie” hold on time and space).

– The writer can be reached at [email protected]

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