Rayees Ahmad

Socha Kraal , A Great Sofi Poet who deserves world audience!

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The tragedy with geniuses of Kashmir poetry is that while they might have expressed ideas like that of Ibn-Arabi, Firdousi, Rumi, Buley Shah, Baba Fareed Coleridge, Wordsworth, Shakespeare and Iqbal, little is known about them outside of Kashmir. It is a fact that most of the students of comparative poetry and literature in Kashmir feel that the poetic collections of Sufi poets of Kashmir hold great potential and can be compared with, and even surpass, some of the great legends of the world. But unfortunately, most of the works of Sufi poets have either remained without translations or have had very average translation works which do not capture the essence of the works.   Socha Kral is among those great poets who, if translated well, can certainly make a mark in the world of literature.

Arif Kraal and his wife Zooni of Koil Pulwama hadn’t a child for a very long time until a God fearing saint visited the village. As was a tradition those days, people would welcome the saints and sages with great reverence and respect, here also people went to see this saint. Along with the villagers came Arif Kraal and Zooni and requested the saint for special prayers in their favour so that they don’t die as a childless couple.

The saint gave sweet candies- one to the husband and one to the saying that they will have not one but two children. But there was a condition that he wanted them to adhere to and promise- he told them that the male child, when born, be returned back to him after twelve years. After some time a male child was born and they named him Ismail.

Exactly after twelve years, the same saint visited the village again and came straight to their residence. After being greeted by the couple, though with some amount of concern for their child, he renamed him as Socha and took him along to Inder village of Pulwama. Rest is the story of growing up of this boy into a saint and a great sufi poet who would become an epitome of thought provoking style of poetry that no one could ever match.

Socha Kraal is among the great sufi saints our valley has produced and when his poems are studied and analyzed, his great stature is unfolded- layer after layer. One of the narrative regarding the poet says that he was not a traditional man and would occasionally go to mosque for prayers. This was not something that his neighbors liked and they even went on to criticize him severely.

Generally people from the Inder village were displeased with this act of Socha Kraal and wanted him to behave like a pious and devoted Muslim who wouldn’t skip prayers. Though theu knew the poetic genius that he was but refused to acknowledge this publically and went on to disallow him to be buried in local graveyard after his death.

Somehow this news reached Socha Kraal and he enquired from few villagers if this was true after which he was conveyed that the villagers had truly decided to sort of abandon him and would not allow his burial in th local graveyard of his death.

Then came the sufi reaction to the entire scenario that was building up. Socha Kraal said to the villagers that “you think wrongly about me. I know what I am. I am one of the worst human beings on this planet, neither pure nor pious to stand before Almighty. Once I offered two Rakat prayers in mosque with you, I think I am still busy in those two Rakats and they are not over for me. I see the essence of salah (prayer) is much deeper and difficult to understand then you might think. One who prays regularly in mosque with utmost faith and belief can’t be a liar, a cheater. He won’t kill an innocent being and never be a wrong doer. When I introspect myself, I think despite offering prayers I am still a wrong doer”.

This changed the entire discourse in the village and the answer from this Sufi saint sent shivers down peoples spine who began to introspect and also question their convictions and the idea of being in such as position so as to take such a stand against someone.

The poet is one of the most revered sufi’s and has written extensively on sufi lines. His poetry, which was mostly preserved in spoken word as many had memorized his works, was later published and is spread across several books.

His expressed was simple and yet full of connotations. His verses are in everyday language and yet achieve the supreme quality of poetry. He is among those great poets who, like Alama Iqbal, expressed feelings in the form of communicative manner. One of his best known poems is like Iqbal’s Shikwa-Jawab-e-Shikwa with only the difference that Iqbal wrote them separately while in Socha Kraal’s scheme the question and answer happens instantly. Each verse is a question followed by another verse that is an answer.

“Dapomie balyaras yaer lagow,

Temi dopnum bozwun chus koni lagow,

Dapomus kein chi abad kein wearan,

Temi dopnum ami seith cham keam nearan,

Dapomus kya chu ander kya chu neabar,

Temi dopnum yie chu ander tie chu neabar.”

Some narrations say that in Socha Kraal’s neighbourhood, there lived a Pandit man who was suffering from some disease. He was a highly literate man and knew that Socha Kraal wasn’t an ordinary person and thus visited Socha Kraal’s residence to get some relief from the ailment. His prayers were, he considered, no less than an effective medicine .Before his death, Pandit ji had told his spouse “When Socha Sahib passes away, he should be buried in our land because the people of his locality have decided not to allow his burial in the local graveyard”. After Socha Sahib’s death he was buried in the land owned by the same Pandit which was bought from him by Socha Kral by the income had collected by selling earthen pots.

Author is a columnist and teaches at Govt Secondary School Anderwan Ganderbal.

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