The versatile litteratuer of Kashmir

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A tribute to Prof Rehman Rahi

Zindarozanabapath chi maraanlukhchiimarakhnaa,

Loti pathicheakhapyalakyhoufftikarakhnaa.

By: Rayees Ahmad Kumar

Distinguished poet, lyricist, critique, educationist, translator and a noted litteratuer- Prof Rehman Rahi passed away few days ago at his Vicharnag Srinagar residence after brief spell of illness. He was 98. Rahi’s departure is a great loss to the Kashmiri language and literature and he was truly experimental and instrumental in his poetry and dealt with all aspects of humanity. Prof Rahi was an inspiration for hundreds of literary workers who work for the promotion and development of Kashmiri literature and language. He had a unique style and compelled others to follow their own individual style and rhythm.

The passing away of Prof Rehman Rahi marks an end to an era while the legacy of having created his own idioms for his expression lives on. He had a unique and distinctive approach for the Kashmiri culture, language and literature. His artistic skills and accomplishments have widened the poetic horizon of Kashmiri language and literature. He was a poet of highest stature not only of valley but of whole subcontinent and was among the great Indian contemporaries and an icon of Kashmiri literature.

The contribution of such a personality can never be equalled by anyone as he has done an outstanding contribution for the development and promotion of Kashmiri literature and language. His loss is a tragedy for Kashmiri as he was our pride. We owe him a lot. Rahi was an iconic litteratuer with a man of progressive mindset as can be understood from these couplets of Rahi:

Zamanas chi kamkam subah shaamhawin,

Chi wienzindagikeath rang azmawin.

Prof Rehman Rahi was a living legend whose poetry and other melodious lyrics represent our culture, tradition and ethos. His songs and lyrics are sung by most noted and famed vocalists. Raja Begum, Raja Bilal and Vijay Kumar Malla have further beatified his works through their exceptional and soulful voices as much as his songs are sung during weddings, paddy cultivation and harvest season by our female folks as well. His works depict romance, folklore and mysticism besides other themes.

Dil chu pranankathansananbazay,


Born in 1925 at Srinagar, Prof Rehman Rahi did his schooling from Islamia High School. He did his first postgraduation in Persian and a decade later another PG in English literature from erstwhile Jammu Kashmir university. He was first appointed as a clerk in PDD department and then a lecturer in a college and taught at Kashmir university’s Persian department.

Under his dynamic leadership and guidance, a full-fledged department of Kashmiri was established at Kashmir university in 1977. First a diploma course was established there and later on it progressed by leaps and bounds to the levels of postgraduate courses.

Rahi built the department of Kashmiri at Kashmir university like a poor person who builds his dwelling place by the materials collected with great labour. He served at the department of Kashmiri till his retirement in 1983. Rehman Rahi will also be remembered for his brave efforts for the introduction of Kashmiri as a full-fledged subject to be taught at all levels in all schools and colleges of valley. His services for the promotion of Kashmiri language are an eye opener for those who set unnecessary hurdles in the way of promotion of Kashmiri language.

Although he was well versed in English, Persian and Urdu but he chose Kashmiri, his mother-tongue, as the medium of his expression. Rahi was drawn to poetry from his childhood that is why he rose to the position of global poet and authored dozens of books. A number of awards and honours were extended to this great son of the soil for his exemplary works as he was awarded Sahitya Academy award in 1961 for his poetry collection ‘Nouroz-i-Saba’. He was awarded Padma Shri in 2000 and country’s highest literary award Jnanpith in 2007 for his poetry collection ‘Siyah Rood JearanManz’. Infact he is the only one to receive this highest literary award from Kashmir.

Prof Rehman Rahi is no more with us but his legacy will live on as it will continue to guide and mentor the future generations trying their luck in poetry and literary fields. May his soul rest in peace.

Writer is a columnist and hails from Qazigund Kashmir.

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