Tuesday, April 14, 2015




A Master Santoor player of the traditional Sufiana genre , a vocalist and above all a great human being ,He was perhaps the first person from the state to receive Sangeet Natak Academy Award in 1972.He sang the pangs of a heart that is in profound love . And sang in a tone that depicted his irresistible love for the ultimate reality . A love for the unseen beloved. With his Santoor , he would play the notes that yearned for peace . These notes sent a message of divine tranquility all around .
Those who heard him sing “Ya Rasool e Hashmi “ felt mesmerized .Those who heard him sing Pandit Krishen Joo Razdan’s Shiv Leela “ Beil Ta Maadhal venna Golaab Pamposh Dastaai” felt that nothing more could be offered to the supreme Shiva . And those who heard his “Baael Ha Ruma Rummaai “ or ” Baal Marrayo “ Must have moistened their eyes in the intense platonic longing ( for the beloved contained in the lines ) that he puts forth while singing in his soulful voice .
Pandit Jawahar lal Nehru was also an   admirer of the Sufiana notes that his Santoor created .
Listening the Magical Maqams ( Ragas ) on his Santoor especially Maqaam e kalyan , Maqam e Asaawari Maqam e Saba, Maqam e Rehavi, Maqam e Isfahan and Maqam e Nawah was a real treat that kept you spellbound. As full time employee of Radio Kashmir Srinagar , His contribution is immense in enriching the traditional sufiana music both in style and content . We do not know the fate of his Naat ,Manqabat and Santoor recordings at Radio Kashmir Srinagar.

Ustaad Tibetbaqal’s pupils have not only popularized the Santoor or Shat -Tantri Veena ( 100 stringed Veena ) but created a new class of listeners for this wonderful instrument .  Currently , his Grandson Aadil Tibetbaqal is also active in carrying forward this genre of Sufiana music in kashmir.Aadil has also been trained by renowned Musician and Santoor Master Pandit Bhajan Sopori.
Ustaad Tibetbaqal belonged to a family from Ali Kadal in Srinagar downtown that had Business ( Pashmina ) connections with Ladakh , Yarkand and Tibet. Nothing to do with music or singing . But Ustaad was adamant to learn it. He learnt Sufiana music from Ustaad Ghani joo and Ustaad Ramzaan Joo .
And he could play harmonium and Tablaa as well. 
He was a widely travelled artist who performed in many countries world over that included France ,Germany USA , England, Iran and many central Asian countries.

His recordings are rare and precious . My friend bought some recordings of his sufiana music from a shop / store in London. Yes I mean the recordings that were done by Taj company Lahore in 1944 and Mohan Lal Aima assisted recordings done by David Lewiston in Srinagar that were released sometime in 1974. David Lewiston Was a collector of World’s Traditional / folk music .

As mentioned by Sh. T N Dhar in his book , Ustaad Tibetbaqal gives credit to Kashmiri poetess Arinmaal for rearrangement of some Maqams ( Ragas ) in sufiana music of Kashmir. I quote from the book “ KASHMIRI PANDIT COMMUNITY A PROFILE “By Triloki Nath Dhar ( Page 58 Mittal Publicatiions, Darya Ganj New Delhi Tel…011-25351521) …..

“ I was once told by Late Mohd Abdulah Tibetbaqaal that the Ragas of sufiana Qalaam called Maqams prevalent these days are those that have been rearranged by Arnimaal. The fact that she was well versed in music is borne out by Rhyme scheme ,Rhythm and musicality of her compositions. And she was the wife of the Author of “Bahar Taweel” or the great Persian poet Pandit Bhawani Dass Kachroo.”

My father would often tell me that Ustaad Tibetbaqal and Shri Ved lal Vakil would sing and play instrumental music before Saint Gopi Nath Ji of Kashmir. This is also substantiated by the book “SAINTS AND SAGES OF KASHMIR “ ( at page 326 Published by A P H Publishing Corporation Darya Ganj New Delhi Tel 011-23274050) … I quote …
“ Many well known musicians of Kashmir like Shri shivpuri , Ustaad Tibetbaqal and Ved lal Vakil would present kashmiri sufiana kalam and Bhajans before him “
Such rare musicians come once only. The rest is their immortal creative work .
( Autar Mota )
Baqal in kashmiri means a Trader , A wani ( Baniya ) who also did money lending at times . Since the family was trading in pashmina imported from Tibet and ladakh , his clan was given the nickname of Tibet Baqal or a Trader connected with Tibet. In Arabic , Baqaal is also used for a vegetable Vendor.

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Friday, April 10, 2015



NASEEM SHAFAI ( Born 1952 )

A teacher and a poet who created fresh space for women writers in Modern kashmiri literature . She is a mother , a mother in law , a sister and a wife ; All in one but more specifically a compassionate and sensitive Human being who essentially remains a poet at heart .
Her poetic subjects are feminine that revolve round the pain , suffering and trauma that kashmir and kashmiri women suffered post 1990 . Her sensibilities are sharp. Her observations and  presentation leaves you touched  .Though she has not focused on Romance , yet, for the graceful presentation of  issues of women in pain and suffering  ,  i am tempted to call her Parveen Shakir of Kashmiri poetry  She is Naseem Shafai .

Naseem Shafai has captured has the post 1990 pain and suffering of Kashmir from a woman’s point of view . Women who have been at the receiving end, both inside the family and outside it. Through native metaphors used in her poems, she gives a poise  to their grief and sorrow   .May be her perspective often happens to be feminine but Never does one come across sentimentalism in her style.

Krishna sobti, the well known Hindi writer had once suggested to her to carry forward writing and never bother for awards . She was already on that path. Awards came much later as recognition of what she had written while conveying the plight of women living in turmoil and conflict.
Her Book of poetic collection “Na Tchaai Na Aks “ ( Neither shadow nor reflection ) Won her well deserved Sahitya Academy award in 2011. Her another book Daricha Mutchrith ( Open Windows ) is equally fascinating . I learn that her poems have been translated into English , Urdu and some south Indian languages as well. 
Naseem ji is a Post Graduate in kashmiri . She is possibly from the first batch ( 1979-1980 ) of students who did MA in kashmiri from University of kashmir. She studied at Kashyapa Girls school and graduated from women’s college Srinagar in 1976.

The family too faced the fury of armed militants when her Journalist husband Zafar meraj was shot at while shooting a documentary. Resultantly , he had to remain confined to bed for a long period. And at this critical juncture , help came from a kashmiri Pandit family friend in Delhi that ensured the education of their son .Commenting on those dark days in Kashmir ,she adds..
Yi ti Assmaanitch tchoii chhaa na chhu kunni,
Gaash na taaf na waqtuk zoann.
Raathh chha khotchaan Gaashuss Andhaerii,
Doah chhu trehraan votum shaam.
( Is this an intrigue of the skies above us?
Neither light nor sunshine
And lost are we to time sense.
The night dreads even these lights within
While the day is scared
Of the approaching evening.)

Naseem ji has an abiding faith in kashmiriyat . She believes that the inherent strength of kashmiri culture and traditions are sufficient to dispel the present clouds of hatred and suspicion on Kashmir’s Horizon.
Through her work, the rich tradition of Lal Ded , Haba Khatoon and Arinmaal stands revived in kashmiri literature . More women poets have started following her footsteps.
I quote one small poem VASVAAS (addressed to a girl child ) from her book Daricha Mutchrith ( Open Windows ). I have also rendered the poem to simple English for my Non kashmiri readers .

(Vasvaas )
Vuznaavun Russ Russ Aaluv dithh
Yinaa Bhaanbir Yina Kenh Badi Vanahuss 
Muss Nendrii Magar Achhi Adda Vatchha Buss 
Athh Mossum Hussnus Khotchaan Chhuss

Ye Chha Myaani faerryuk Shehjaar Billah 
Ye chha chaanie Vekaaritch Haejj Toopyaah 
Ye Chha koor Yi Jannatietch Hoor chhanaa 
Garrie nerri Ta Vaapus Ma Iyaa Zaanh

Yelli Vaatie Yi Kunnie Doahh Pardeeshan 
Tattie Luuk Khabar Keithh Kyaah Aassan
Vuznaavan saa Rass Aaluv Dithh 
Tim Amiss Yi NendriI Thhappi Neiytan 
( Naseem Shafai )

( Trepidation )
Call her in soft and softer tone 
And rouse her .
Be not in alacrity
Speak not loud to her ,
Her eyes partly open 
Even in this deep slumber ,
And this guiltless loveliness of hers ,
Frightens me .

I swear , she is the coolness of my bosom ,
A reputation that your lilted cap carries with it ,
A girl child she is.
Isn’t she a Houri of the Paradise ?
Never shall she return once she leaves this home.

And whence she arrives in those unfamiliar lands ,
Who knows how 
And of what nature the folks over there shall be ?
Shall they too awaken her caringly , 
Or shall they rob her of this sleep even.

( Autar Mota )

In the present context , kashmiri word VASVAAS comes more closer to Trepidation than  Fear  or Nervousness . It is practically very  difficult to arrive at exact equivalent  the word in English language .

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Thursday, April 9, 2015




Dr.Agnishekhar  ( Born 1955 ) is a well known Hindi writer and  poet from Kashmir . Apart from being a poet , he  is a Mountaineer, Public speaker and a known political  thinker representing   kashmiri Pandit community    currently living in  exile .  

This small write up   has nothing to do with Dr  Agnishekhar’s  political beliefs or convictions . I believe that his stature as a Poet gets overshadowed by his non literary Personality ( Political ) for which he is more popular and  known . We   are   at liberty to agree or disagree  with that aspect of his   personality  . But something that has a broader outreach is his sharp poetic sensibility . You can not ignore it. You can not disagree on that aspect. The  literary talent   of any Individual  wherever it be ,  whosoever he be,  Invariably attracts  the  attention of Lovers of fine Arts .

 And One  can not overlook the plethoric  modernism and ensemble of touching  imagery  that he creates  through  his poems; A   Nostalgia that can not be disowned  howsoever painful it be.His poems   come from a  heart that is awash in sensitivity  and beats  with  love for the land of his birth .

Through  his Exile poems  , Agnishekhar  comes very  close to the poetic sensitivity of Kurdish poets like  Sherko Bekas,  Choman Hardi and  Kajal Ahmed.These poems have been published in  almost all the leading Hindi Newspapers and  Magazines  of the country .

The influence of  Modern  Palestinian ,  Latin American and  Kurdish  poets is starkly visible in his work. So is the influence of Turkish Poet Nazim Hikmet Ran  whom he admires and loves to read and quote .He is an avid reader of Mahmoud  Darvish .

      ( Dr Agnishekhar  With Nida Nawaz . A close Friend and  a fellow  Hindi Poet from kashmir )

A  translator as well,Agnishekhar 's published books include  KISSI BHI SAMAY  ( Any Time ), MUJH SE CHHEEN LI  GAYI MERI NADI  ( They snatched my river from me ), KAAL VRIKSH  KI CHHAAYA MEIN  ( Under the shade of Death tree ) ,  JAWAHAR  TUNNEL ,MERI PYAARI KAVITAAYEIN and  DOZAKH ( A collection of  short stories ).

In Feb2010, he  was chosen as the  event Coordinator for the  international conference of Poets held at Mysore . This conference attended by poets, Artists and Film makers  from  Iran, Norway, Germany ,Vietnam, Ireland ,  Chile , Austria,Israel, USA , Tibet and many other countries.  In this well attended conference organized by Rati Saxena of KRITYA , Subjects like conflict  survival ,exile consciousness ,Human Displacement in war and Terror   and  Loss of culture and identity came up for discussion through poems , lettere ,esays and films .

Post Migration  from Kashmir , Dr. Agnishekhar lives in jammu and keeps himself busy with writing and other activities  . He is married to Dr  Khema kaul who is  also an accomplished   Hindi writer.

" Autar ji , though i like to read all Poets more specifically Hindi Poets,  Yet In Urdu literature , Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Ghalib are  my favourite poets  . I am equally  impressed by the Vision and Humanism of Ali Sardar Jafri . I also keep reading  Manto and Munshi Prem Chand." informs  Dr Agnishekhar .

 I present three sample poems of the poet with my English rendering.

(Girtee Barf Mein )

Barf Gir Rahi hai ,
Aaj Phir chinaar ke neeche
Koyee dekh rahaa hai
Tumhaari   Raah
Dharrak rahi hai Eik Umeed Phir se
Din Badal jaane ki
Utkat Praarthhanaa koyee kar rahaa hai
Iss Himpaat mein ……..
Barf ke inn Vishaal Prastaron ke neeche
Beh rahi hai Maun  jal Dhaaraayein
Meri  Jijivishaa hain
Gharon ki Chhatein
Aur Perdon ki Tahniyon se latak rahi
Jami Huyee pandhaariyaan
Meray aansoo aur paseenay hain
Kye Huvaa
 Akelaa Huun  me  Iss Chatyrdik Shunyaa mein
Dhab  rahein hai  Barf ke neeche
Meray Kheit ,
Smritiyaan ,
Jarrein ,
Naam o Nishaan meray
Me har chinaar ke neeche
Barf ki Banbiyaan mein Khadaa
Kar rahaan huun Surya Upaasana
Budh-budhaa rahaa huun
Dhoop !
( Agni Shekhar )

( In the snow fall )

 Today the chinar tree is once again
Under falling snow ,
Some one  stands at  the pathway
Looking for you .
This heart beats once more with a hope 
 “Days are going to change  for Sure ”
An intense  prayer by some one
In this snow fall,
Under this  gigantic snow settlement ,
So many streams of silence keep moving ,
 Like  my resilience .
From the rooftops and  the branches of these trees ,
Frozen water  lines  dangle
 like my tears and sweat drops ,
What  ,if alone I stand today ,
In this desolate silence of    all the  four corners ,
Under this very  snow ,
Buried are  my fields ,
My recollections ,
My roots ,
My Poems
My being  and identity .
I stand underneath every chinar tree ,
In these  snow stacks ,
 Performing  Sun worship ,
I  keep murmuring ,
Sunshine  !
Sunshine !
Sunshine !

 ( Pull Par Gaay)
 Sab taraf Barf hai  khaamosh
Jale huve hamaare gharon  se Oonche  hain
Nippate peid
Eik Raah Bhatkii Gaay
Pull se Dekh rahi hai
Khoon Ki nadi
Rambhaa kartii hai
Akaash Mein Suraakh
Chheenktii hai jab meri maa
Yahaan Visthhaapan mein
Ussay Yaad kar rahi Hotii Haio Gaay
Itanay barson Baad bhi
Nahin Thhami hai Khoon ki nadi
Uss apr Khadi Hai Gaay
Iss par hai  meri Maa
Aur akaash mein
Gahraata ja Rahaa hai
( Agnishekhar )

(The cow on the Bridge )
The snowfall has brought silence all over ,
These leafless  trees have grown taller than our burnt houses .
A stray cow looks below from the bridge ,
A river full of blood in spate
Pierces a hole in the sky as it moves fast .
In exile, My mother is disturbed by a sneeze ,
Possibly the cow remembers her.
So many years have gone past
Yet this river of blood has not ceased to flow.
On that side of the river stands the cow,
While on this side is my mother .
And in the sky above ,
The hole keeps on turning deeper and ever deeper .


(Yaad kartaa hai Bachaa )
Kyaa huvaa thhaa Uss Boraayi havaa mein ,
Hamaare parivaar ke saathh,
Kaise saham Gayaa thhaa Gaanv,
Bhaag  Gayee Thhi Nadi
Chhorr Ram Bharose  chinaaron ko
Baahar Hazaaron Dussaaye Kavvon ka Shor Thaa Aakramak ,
Aur Hum Thhay be chat Ghonsalon mein
Ya Hum Thhay Beil Par
Angooron ki aakhiri Gunchon ki tarah Gabraaye

Ro rahi Thhi Maa
Ro rahi Thhi Daadi
Ro rahaa thha Chhitkoo
Chaachi Thhi Ro rahi
Aur  aap Haathh Jorray
Chupp Rehnay  ko Keh rahay Thhay
Bujhaa Di Gayee thhi Bijli
Paros gayee thhi Chuppi
Gali Mein pataakhon Ki Ladiyon Ki tarah
Gulchharay Urra rahaa thhaa Shor
Kal Jab Door darshan par
Dikhaaya ja trahaa thha Kashmir
Barfeeli Chotiyaan
Jheel, Jharney , Hare maidaan
Lagaa thha Mujhe Hum Peelay Zard pattay  hain
Buhaar Diye Gaye Hain Jhaarroo Se
Yahaan Campon Mein
“ Papa ! Kya Hamein Yahaan se Bhi Udaa Le Jaayegi Havaa ?….”
( Agnishekhar )

( A child Remembers )

What happened in that violent wind
With our family ?
Under fright , Entire village turned silent ,
The river too ran away
Leaving the Chinar trees to Nobody’s care .

Outside , crows in thousands joined to create
violent noise all over .
And we stayed put in our roofless nests ,
Like the last bunch of grapes
Hanging in bewilderment from the vine .

Mother wept bitterly ,
Grand mother wept ,
The young chhitkoo wept ,
The Aunt too wept .
And With your hands folded before them
You requested everyone to keep calm.

The lights were turned off
To serve silence in the room.
In the lane outside ,
The crackers burst in chain
Creating fierce noise .

Papa !
Yesterday when Kashmir was being telecast on Doordarshan ,
Snow clad mountains ,
Lakes ,
Waterfalls ,
Green valleys ,
I felt as if we are fallen dry leaves ,
Broomed away from the Garden
To these camps .
“Papa! Shall the wind carry us away from this place as well ?

( Autar Mota )

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CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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Tuesday, April 7, 2015



KATH ( Stories From Kashmir )
Compiled And translated
Prof. Neerja Mattoo

Published by Sahitya Academy New Delhi
Available at
Sales Counter
“SWATI ” Mandir Marg New Delhi
ISBN 978-81-260-3059-0
Website http://www.sahitya-akademi.gov.in
Email sahityaakademisales@vsnl.net
Price 175/=
Prof Neerja Mattoo hardly needs any introduction. She has been translating a wide spectrum of kashmiri prose and poetry to English .A Fellowship granted by Ministry of HRD in 1997 made her work extensively on Kashmiri Women Poets . She was also awarded British council Visitorship to the university of Oxford in 1984. Neerja ji retired as Principal and HOD of English at the Government college of women. Her Books “The Stranger Beside Me “ and “Contemporary Kashmiri short stories “have been widely read and appreciated . She lives in Delhi and Srinagar and travels a lot.
I strongly recommend this book to one and all. To kashmiris ,Non Kashmiris ,Young ,Old and to those who want to enjoy some representative kashmiri short stories written post 1947.Neerja ji has Covered almost everybody who is somebody in so far as kashmiri short story is concerned in a sequential manner.
Her first story is JAWAABI CARD or REPLY PAID POST CARD By DINA Nath Naadim (1916-1988 ) while the last story is GENEROUS CHINAR by Mushtaq Ahmed Mushtaq ( Born 1961). In between you get some wonderful English translation of short Stories by Som Nath Zutshi , Amin Kaamil, Akhtar Mohi Ud Din, Ali Mohd Lone, Habib Kamraan , Umesh Kaul, Sufi Ghulam Mohd, Taj Begum Renzu, Autar Krishen Rehbar ,Deepak Kaul, Bansi Nirdosh ,Hari Krishen Kaul,Hriday Kaul Bharti, Gh.Nabi Shakir, Rattan Lal Shant, Shanker Raina , Farooq Masudi and Majrooh Rashid.
Though I have read some of these short stories in original Kashmiri ,yet the English translation of Prof Mattoo is a class apart and enthralling. I don’t think these stories could have been translated anything better by any other person. 

Prof Jaya Parimu adds ,

" I am sure that Mam Prof. N.Mattoo has done some translations of Hari Krishan Kaul's stories, besides other works Co authored with other luminaries of literary firmament of the Vale. She has been into the academics and writing right from her college days. Kashmiri cuisine by Neerja Mattoo was gifted to me by my niece from U.S.

I used to call her a walking talking encyclopedia during my time in the Women's College Srinagar .Google was not there but we had a special privilege to be her junior colleagues "

Kudos to Prof. Mattoo for this great effort that has enabled many readers (who do not know the kashmiri script ) to have access to this treasure.The book is available online at Amazon.

( Autar Mota )

Cover painting done by Veer Munshi shows a young boy in a pheran sitting beside a loom weaving a kashmiri carpet..

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Wednesday, April 1, 2015



MOHD SUBHAN  BHAGAT ( 1927-1993 )


They combine the profession of singing and acting with begging . They are great wanderers travelling down to Punjab where they perform to kashmiri audiences .With the curious exception of Akingam company , which is formed of Pandits ( Bhagats ) ,Baands are all muslims . Their wardrobe is of great value .several companies which I et , have wardrobe that has dresses to the value of 2000 rupees .The Bhaggats of akingaam took to stage at the insistence of their Goddess  Devi  as they told me since Brahmins are averse to this form of acting. Brahmans of Kashmir regard akingaam players with contempt. They sing  songs in kashmiri , Persian and  Punjabi ”

(Sir Walter Lawerence  In his Book THE VALLEY OF KASHMIR  page 312 and 313  )

“Bhagat sahib  was  one of the  foundation  pillars that revived  the  Traditional Folk Theatre of Kashmir known as BHAAND  PAA’ THHAR . His contribution in this field is immense . “

(M K Raina Noted Theatre  personality  who is also associated with kashmir’s Bhaand Theatre.)

“ During the rule of Generous Nawabs ,    some Shia families  from kashmir   migrated   to Lucknow for livelihood and better opportunities  . With them ,  A  group  of Bhaands  also moved to Lucknow.  Another group of Bhaands from Kashmir was invited by Nawab  Asif Ud Daula ( 1775-1797 ) on the occasion of marriage of his son Wazir Ali .  A few of them were active post 1947 as well .Jahangir Bhaand of  Lucknow  died some years ago and he received regular stipend from Sangeet Natak Academy “
Writes  Dr Baikunth Nath Sharga  Historian and writer of kashmiri origin  from Lucknow  .

“ Unfortunately the younger generation  still feels that it BHAAND PAA’THHAR   is something that  was done in villages in the past; A  symbol of backwardness . There is a tendency to  keep  away from it. Ironically , I too faced this problem from my friends and well wishers when I decided to focus on BHAAND PAA’THHAR . But I tell you , it is a perfect form  of theatre with enormous scope for  humuor , satire ,pathos and  what not. It was  not a costume drama done by some people just to collect  grains after harvest  season as is  generally believed . “ 

Informs Moti lal kemmu  who has worked tirelessly with Mohd Subhan Bhagat and others  for revival of Bhaand Paa’thhar in Kashmir. M L Kemmu and later M K Raina brought New Techniques ,newer methodologies of performance and latest styles to this folk Art that ultimately made it a component of National Theatre movement of the country . 

 Noted writer and Scholar Dr Shashi Shekhar Toshkhani adds ,

"The credit for getting the Akingam Bhands to the forefront must go to Moti Lal Kemmu and the State Cultural Academy ." Mohammad Subhan Bhagat became what he was entirely due to Kemmu's help and encouragement. Kemmu is undoubtedly the doyen of modern Kashmiri drama, his success being largely due to incorporation of several elements of the Bhand Pathur in his style with great effect. I have translated many of his plays into Hindi including "Bhand Duhai", which was directed by M. K, Raina for the Sangeet Natak Akademi and was tremendously applauded by the audience in Delhi and other places in the country where it was shown. Kemmu has written an excellent and well researched book in Kashmiri on the Bhand theatre entitled "Bhand Naatyaam" The second chapter of this book was translated by me into English and was published in the journal Sangeet Natak (VOLUME XLV, NUMBER 3-4, 2011).”


BHAAND  PAA’THHAR  word itself is derived from two  Sanskrit words  ; BHAANA or a satirical drama as mentioned in Bharta’s Natya Shastra . Some writers believe  that Bhaand comes from Sanskrit word Bhaandiya meaning a bluffer    who is  also called Mas-kharaa  in  Hindi or Urdu  or the man who mimics others . And  PAA’THHAR   or PATRAA  meaning  a character in a play . This theatre became a platform to voice grievances during rule of Pathans and Dogras . The Bhaands would move from village to village after the harvest when kashmiris were free from agricultural activities .  Attired in their special costumes  and  assisted  some characters who played the SWARNAAI ( special clarinet ) and drum or Nagaara, they would perform at a conspicuous place in the village.
It is reported that Maharaja Partap singh  would collect information about his administration from his secret agents who would  watch the Bhaands performing in  villages . These Bhaands would raise issues of corruption , Malfunctioning of administration and  rigid  social customs that  created unhappiness in the society .Bhaands also performed pathetic plays based  the evil practice of BEGAAR ( forced labour ).

Bhaands  of Kashmir  hail mostly from   Akingaam , Muhripora , Shaangus and Gondpora in   Anantnaag district .  Apart from these villages , Bhaands also belong  Achhabal , Qayamooh ,Kokernaag , Frisal, Aarwani, Waathoora  and Dooru .

Bhaands were also patronized by many Hindu kings  in 10th and eleventh century .  This form of art also flourished during the period of Sultan zain Ul Abdin. Since Bhaand Paa’thhar could  not sustain them financially , most of them  worked as  Artisans . Kangri weaving  was  their most preferred vocation  .To perform Paa’thhar ( Drama ) , they use masks, Drums ( Dhol Nagaara ), Swar Nai ( Clarinet  ) and colourful costumes. Bhaands are  quick  witted  and straightforward people .


Mohd Subhan Bhagat was born in 1927 at Akingaaam village of  Breng Pargana in  Anantnaag distirct of kashmir. Born in a family of Bhaands , His father  , Jamaal Bhagat  was a well known Bhaand ( Mass-kharaa ) of his time. His uncle Kamaal Bhagat was also a noted Swarnai player . This family traces its roots to a Hindu Bhaand named Shankkar Shaala or Shakkar shalla  .

It is pertinent to mention that  kanwal Muhru , sodha Muhroo , Gulaab Muhroo and Maadhav Muhroo   were also Well known Hindu Bhaands from  Mohripora near Akingaam  . Hindu Bhaands would perform in  Shiv Bhakti temple near Akingaam where they  were also joined by muslim Bhaands  .  Bhaands of Akingaam  would  also visit  and perform at the Shiv Bhagti temple  for the  annual ritual . And Bhagat caste  is exclusive to the Hindu Bhaands who converted  to Islam later.

So Mohd Subhan Bhagat had no where to go and  received  all his training within the family only. He read upto class 6th and thereafter   jumped into the family profession wholeheartedly. Starting  his own group , he wrote , acted , directed and produced many Paa’thhars ( Plays ) for this  troupe called BHAGAT  THEATRE.

At a point of time it appeared that  this folk Art of Kashmir would go into extinction. But , After the establishment of Jammu And Kashmir Academy Of art Culture and Languages , this folk  art  saw a new lease of life . Together with Academy officials notably Moti Lal Kemu  ,  Mohd Subhan Bhagat is one such person who has contributed immensely for revival of this Traditional Folk Art of Kashmir . His troupe revived the dying  folk Art by  performing  Bhaand Paa’thhar  in  various cities  and festivals of the country .Some  Paa’thhars (plays ) written and directed by  him that touched heights of popularity appear in his collections that are titled ..
(1)    TAQDEER  is  his first Collection of Kashmiri Paa’thhars ( Folk  Dramas ) published in 1970. It includes three plays namely Taqdeer( Destiny ) Pouz Appuz ( Truth and Falsehood) and Yi Ti Chhu Banaan ( This also happens )

(2)    KAASHER  LUKKA   THEATRE  ( It is a Book based on some serious  work on kashmir’s folk Theatre )

(3)    DEEVAAI     RANG   (A collection of Bhaand Paa’Thhars )

It is due to his sincere and dedicated  efforts , Bhaand Paa’thhar has been revived and given a respectable place in folk Theatre of the country . His efforts were duly awarded with the Sangeet Natak Academy award and Bhand Paa’thhar also received international notice.

 Many Bhaand theatres have now come up and are doing good  work to promote this traditional and old folk theatre  Kashmir. Presently  children of Mohd Subhan Bhagat  ( Notably Ghulam Mohd Bhagat  ) are  also busy in carrying forward the mission of their father .

This family  faced the ire of Militants  whereby their expensive sets , costumes and musical instruments were looted or  burnt and their lives threatened  and some members of their troupe were  kidnapped .  A shocked  Mohd Subhan Bhagat,  felt highly depressed   with the sudden  change in the cultural ethos   due to onset of  armed   militancy in Kashmir .  And  soon  he succumbed to his deep anguish .

 At his own level ,  M K Raina ( veteran Theatre  personality of the country ) has also  taken it upon himself  to assist and help every  group that is sincerely engaged in the revival of this art in valley.

( Autar Mota )

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015



( A Typical Saa'dh Maqqaar )
 (Photo source ..Brij Krishan Dass)

He was at our door at 7AM. Wearing a long Kashmiri Pheran , he entered  our house  with a big knock  and  loudly declared in chaste kashmiri ..
'Tche Nai Poshan Na .Ba Gaalukh Byol.  Sakh kooshish karikh me Dyotukh Na Votalanaa.  Bachaa ma Aasukh Vopur Garrun Sozaan......Allhum Di Soo ..Vallhum Di Zoo....Aasmaen Koturr  Guturr Goo Guturr  Goo.... Bhabi...Valaa Ann Niyaaz Baapat Kharch Ta Tomul"
" They can't touch you. I shall destroy them from their root. They tried hard but i did not encourage them. Do not send your children to houses of strangers."Allhum di soo ...Vallhum di zoo....Aasmaen Koturr  Guturr Goo Guturr  Goo"....Lady , Now bring  some cash and rice for the Niyaaz." 

By word " THEY", he meant some so called evil forces , which according to him , were out to harm   our family.His job was done.

And by the time i came to know what had actually happened ,he was out with 20 rupees and a kg of rice given by my mother.Mother would say that he is a dangerous man.Better he leaves the house.He was a Saa'dh Maqqar or a fraudulent  Religious man  in the guise of a Syed. A tricky beggar posing as a Saint or a Faquir or a Dervish   .

Then one day i saw him sipping tea inside the shop of Mohd sidiq sofi ( Kashmiri Baker) and our neighbour. Mohd sidiq's mother known as sondhar daedh was from Pampore town near Srinagar city . I immediately asked her who he was. She promptly replied   that he was Ramzaan Saa'dh Maqqaar ( Ramzaan the Fraudulent Syed ) actually from pampore outskirts.She continued that he belonged to a family that  family had no agricultural land and as such practiced Saa'dh Maqaari in far off villages or city localities. Sondhar Daedh added that these Saa'dh Maqaars cheated innocent people  outside some shrines and ziyarats as well.  
That day on wards Ramzan Saa'dh Maqqaar was not seen in Rainawari....

 Later i came to know  that  during winters , these Saa'dh Maqqaars would visit   Amritsar , Ludhiana , Phagwara , Jalandhar , Pathankote  and many other cities of  Punjab  to   rob innocent  and poor kashmiri Muslim labourers of their hard earned savings. Posing as Peer Sahib or  Dervish , they  would entice  people in their trap  . At times ,locals too fell to their well laid out trap. Before 1947, they were also seen in Lahore during winter months .
His words Allhum di soo... Vallhum di Zoo...Aasmaen Koturr  Guturr Goo Guturr  Goo.... appeared mysterious at that time.I thought he was probably warning the so called evil forces to keep off from our family. These lines remained etched in my memory..And the fraudulent faquir  had succeeded in making me to remember something which actually meant nothing...
(Autar Mota)
According to Walter R Lawrence

“ The Saiyad Makkaar Fraternity are fraudulent faquirs who pretend to be saiyads and wander about Kashmir and India cheating Public . Many have taken to trade .They intermarry among themselves. ”
( Refer Page 308 “THE VALLEY OF KASHMIR “ By Walter R Lawrence )

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Friday, March 27, 2015



She is Krishna Misri ( Zadoo ).She was barely 14 when she got herself enrolled as a Volunteer in the Women’s wing of National Militia set up by supporters of National Conference to fight Invading Tribal Raiders during 1947. This resistance group was also known as Women’s Self Defence Corps (WSDC) . 
The slogan coined during those turbulent days was ….
“Hamlaavar Khabardaar Hum Kashmiri Hain Tayaar “ 

(“ Beware you aggressor , We kashmiris are prepared to fight back“)

For the first time kashmiri girls drawn from Hindu and Muslim households bore the arms and were trained in firing Guns to drive away Tribal raiders .krishna Ji was one such brave and fearless girl.The girls were trained to fire 303 guns , Stenguns and Pistols at Chandmaari and Later at Badaami Bagh.
.Krishna Ji’s brother, Pushkar Zadoo too achieved Martyrdom along with Maqbool Sherwani , Master Abdul Aziz and Som Nath Beera during those turbulent days.
At that crucial time , Maharaja suddenly left Srinagar and there was practically no administration.  It was reported  that the advancing Tribal raiders were  approaching Srinagar city via two routes ; one Bandipora -safapora road and the other Pattan- Baramulla road . The city had already plunged into total darkness with Raiders destroying Mohra Power house. The climate was getting colder day after day and winter was fast approaching.Fear and panic prevailed all over . Under this background , Volunteers from Men and women Militia marched through the street of Srinagar city along with guns , building confidence of the population terrified from reports about advancing Tribal Raiders . They Guarded Bridges , Roads and Vital Installations in the city and its outskirts .

These Volunteers also did enormous Social work in camps set up for the hapless refugees who Poured into Srinagar city to save their lives and honour . The raiders had almost destroyed entire Baramulla Town .Stories of rapes , Brutalities , Death and destruction in and around Baramulla town in particular were heard from all corners . These volunteers collected cash donations, Rations and Warm clothes for the refugees. Begum Sheikh Mohd Abdullah supervised all the social activities and relief work of Women’s Self Defence Corps .
Miss Mehmooda Ahmed Ali Shah ( sister of Dr Naseer Noted Physician of kashmir ) , Zainab Begum ( sister of Late G M Sadiq Ex. Chief Minister J&K )  were also associated with WSDC Militia . Freda Bedi ( Mother of Indian actor Kabir Bedi ) was also associated with WSDC Militia .

It worthwhile to make special mention of an illiterate but determined Girl from a Milk seller’s family of downtown Srinagar Named Zoon ( Zoona Gujri ) who too took to streets and led the march past of WSDC militia .A Contingent of Women volunteers Militia was led by Zainab Begum .

  And  Poet Agha Shahid Ali ( son of Agha Ashraf Ali ) has dedicated a beautiful English poem to Krishna ji . The Poem appears at Page 184 in Agha Shahid Ali's poetic collection " THE VEILED SUITE " ...
Krishna ji retired as Principal Govt college for women Srinagar and presently lives in Delhi..I conclude this post with a couplet of Allama Iqbal.....

Vohii jahaan hai teraa jis ko tu karay paidaa,
Ye sang o khisht nahin jo teri nigaah mein hai....

( Autar Mota )

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CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.