Wednesday, December 17, 2014



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( Book Reference ISBN:81-263-0886-9 )

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Padma Sachdev ( Born 1940 ) hardly needs any introduction. She has established herself as a frontline Dogri Poetess, novelist and writer . She is equally well known amongst Hindi readers for her poems and Novels . This book has been published by “ Bhartiya Gyanpeeth ” as a Hindi Novel . I was attracted and tempted to read entire Novel after going through some pages initially . Dedicated to Hindi writer late Kamleshwar , the book is spread over 218 pages .Padma Ji pays due tributes to late Dharmveer Bharti noted Hindi poet , who encouraged her to write this semi autobiographical novel. It is a story of Post partition evolution of Jammu city .

The author is careful about not touching any political personality except Bakshi Ghulam Mohd. I believe this is due to some personal reasons and a sort of debt that was due to him from her side .
Padma ji considered late Bakshi Ghulam Mohd as her guide and a fatherly figure . Bakshi sahib  felt highly impressed after he heard Padma ji at a Mushaira in jammu where she recited her poem “Raaje diyaan Mandiyaan.” . It is a remarkable poem that voices the feelings of the oppressed and the exploited poor, symbolized by an old woman. It also expresses deep anguish against the inhumanity and insensitivity of the powerful and the ruling class. Bakshi later ensured that she got best medical treatment when she was admitted to Chest Diseases Hospital at srinagar ( Droggjan Dalgate) for her TB treatment . At this hospital, Padma ji stayed for abut three years and during this period , she came very close to kashmiri language ,culture and social customs. She also learnt to speak kashmiri language .
Later , After her divorce / separation from Ved Pal Deep, Modern Dogri poet and editor of Urdu newspaper sandesh , Padma ji decided to move to Delhi . It was again through Bakshi Ghulam Mohd’s intervention and a recommendatory letter that she got a job in AIR as announcer.

Using SUGGI ( a widow from a family of barbers to Dogra Maharajas ) as protagonist , Padma ji takes you on trip of Jammu city right from her childhood days till sometime around 1994-95 . In this journey , you visit Panjtirthi Locality where Padma ji spent her childhood after her family shifted from Purmandal .You come across the steep foot paths ( Dakkis ) leading to river Tawi . These paths would become live everyday in early morning darkness as men and women went to river Tawi for bathing . The narrow lanes and clean mud houses with courtyards made dirt free using cow dung spread . Wonderfully descriptive scenes have been created around SUGGI’s house ; Tinkling of bells at Mahalakshmi Temple of Pucca danga ,  Jangam Babas at Peer Kho Temple on Tawi Bank , Daunthali Bazaar , Purani Mandi , Kachchi Chhawani , Maniyaari shops , warm Kitchens  with timber burnt for cooking food , the smoked utensils , chapattis , Daal , Karhi chaawal , Kachaaloo ,Home made Mango Pickle , Morning Desi Tea with sugar and a pinch of salt , khameer , eating juicy Kimbbs , Elders busy with their Hukka , Pateesa , Darbar Move ,  Walnut tree bark used as Daatun and many more easily identifiable lifestyle images of Jammu city’s past .

Every morning Gujjar women ( with heavy silver anklets ) ,living in hills adjoining the city , walk through steep paths ( Dakkis in Local parlance ) to bring Milk to the city . They sit and gossip in a confident and carefree manner with the Shah ( shopkeeper ) . This scene is almost extinct now as milk is ferried to city by male Gujjars in Motor vehicles through roads that connect their houses with jammu city .

As you move through the pages , you find Women in Tight churridaar Pyjamas ( Suthhan ) singing ……..

Pal pal Beyi Jaana Ho Jindhe
Raati Reyi Jaana Ho Jindhe

( Love sit for a while over here too
Love stay for a night over here too )

Women prefer to sit in groups after they finish their work . While sitting , each women is busy in some kind of work that could be knitting or needle work . Away from their mothers in law , young women giggle when some married girl joins to say..

“ Breikurr gilli bii Balley
Suss gareeban be larre “

(The Breikurr shrub burns even if it is wet ,
And the mother in law quarrels even if she is poor )

After they finish the kitchen work , Women busy themselves with Charkhaa and keep singing in low tone …

Ladli na Rakh Baawala
Teri Ladali De Din Thhoday
Laadli Me Iyaan Rakhii Ye
Jiyaan kaagdhe De Vich sunna

“ Father don’t pamper your daughter
She has a brief stay in your house “
And the father says
“ I have kept my darling daughter
Like we keep precious gold inside paper ”

“ Chambe diye Daahladiye Moiye Bindh Duaas ni ho
Kal Unney aayii Ponaa Khirri Khirri Banii Banii Po ”

“ O You like a branch laden with champa flowers , Do not turn to sorrow,
Dress up and Sit like a blooming flower , Tomorrow he shall be arriving .”

SUGGI is witness to the painful events of 1947 and the arrival of refugees from Mirpur , Rajouri , Bhimber and other adjoining areas to jammu city . Her memory is stored with too many tragic events of 1947 when man turned a beast . She also narrates with pride as to how some persons still retained sanity when people behaved as lunatics . For her ,Pakistan was created out of pain and suffering resulting from killing of many innocent people across both sides of the border . She misses Sialkot where some of her childhood friends and neighbours migrated . She is sympathetic to refugees who arrived from POK and also misses her muslim neighbours who left for Pakistan.

Unfortunately , Padma Sachdev also lost her father , Sanskrit scholar, professor Jai Dev Barru in the communal Frenzy of 1947.

Pandit Sansar chand Baru ( painter ), Poet Kishen Smailpuri , Poet Dinu Bhai Pant, Malika Pukhraj,Maharaja Partap singh , Maharaja hari Singh and Bakshi Ghulam Mohd as prime Minister also finds mention in the novel. In fact suggi  goes to the official residence of Bakshi Ghulam Mohd in jammu when she is driven out from a custodian house by Government officials . She motivates Bakshi Ghulam Mohd to come to her house in a jeep and take on the spot decision . While Bakshi  drives the jeep personally , suggi sits in front seat smilingly . To the surprise of her foes , Bakshi sahib does justice in his own style to poor SUGGI . He allots a custodian House to her during this visit .People gather to see the Prime Minister coming to meet a poor destitute woman. While Bakshi sahib delivers justice , a person amongst the onlookers keeps singing…..

“Bhaley Bhaley Ki sidhaa kardaa
Aey Bakshi Da Dandaa “

“ Who is there who has not been set right
By Bakshi ‘s hand held stick ?“

Other characters of this novel that are worth mentioning are , Nainto ,Raano, Pant ji , Soma Panditaayan , Sainti, Laajo and Shardul singh ( Servant from the Wazir family ) . Shardul Singh is a liquor addict. Shardul singh’s sahib from the wazir family is fond of Kalaaris made from milk and he prefers to have them with his daily quota of liquor .With this wazir family , SUGGI goes on a trip to Pashupati Nath Temple of Nepal.

Soma Panditaayan is her childhood friend . Her husband , Pandt Dev Datt is a respected Brahmin who is always busy performing marriages , Mundans , Yagneopavit functions , Shradaas and other religious rituals for various families in Jammu city. Soma fondly calls him Pant ji ( Pandit ji ). Pant ji never misses his early morning bath even during intense winter season when he uses a Kangri to warm up his body. Without fail, pant ji does his morning Thakurdwara ( Pooja room or Thokur Kuth in kashmiri ) Pooja before starting his daily routine work. He must also have his glass of milk everyday after his Thakurdwara pooja . Soma puts three or  four water soaked almond kernels in this milk .Pandit Dev Datt is a shaivite who worships Parthav shiva with milk , water and Bheil patter . The husband and wife live a happy and contended life. SUGGI is a frequent visitor to  Pandit Dev Datt's house  .

 And then SUGGI remembers how she would join   Bhaakkaan singers from adjoining hills of jammu city  who  flocked to  Amar palace  on  maharaja Hari singh’s birthday  . These women  would squat in groups in outer lawn   for their  day long singing   of pahaari songs . Gifts and food would be distributed to them By members of the  Royal family  . They sang  so many songs like …

‘Chunn Maahrra Chadeyaa  te pahaarraa aahli Kingri
Sajjane Ki Pyaar denaa Nuthh karrey Khingri
Milnaa Zaroor Meri jaan ho ”

“ My  Moon faced  beloved  has gone up a mountain top ,
Keeping my Nose ring aside ,
I shall offer  him my  love
My love!  I shall meet you for sure . “

How painful for SUGGI  to know that  Maharaja was an exile who lived in Mumbai with capt. Dewan singh and  some trusted Servants .The royal status of  Wazir and Katoch  families  of Jammu   had  also declined   with the departure of Maharaja Hari Singh  . Some one makes her believe that  even during Maharaja’s rule ,  Dogras were poor and unemployed  as Maharaja Partap singh and even Maharaja Hari singh preferred outsiders  to fill various posts in administration.  A woman  quotes Poet Dinu Bhai Pant  to support this  point of view..

Lok  Mheene Maardhey  Dogre da Raaj Ho
Dogre da Bhaag Dikho Jurrdaa Ni Saag Ho

( People comment satirically that Dogras rule  the state
And look how Unlucky  Dogras cant even afford  green vegetables )

And Jammu kept  changing . People who were satisfied with Daal ,Chappati ,  Achaar ,  lassi ,  Madra , kachori ,Annardaana, Rajmaah     shifted   to  Cold Drinks  , Lipton Tea,  Chicken, Ice creams,  sweets , kitty parties and LPG Cylinders in kitchens  .  With development   and newer employment avenues , People from many towns  start   pouring  in and  settling   in jammu city .   Jammu  gets  ample connectivity and  expands  in all directions  . With New  concrete residential  buildings ,newer colonies and people pouring in  regularly  , the city feels pressure on its  resources .  SUGGI  is  privy these rapid changes .

And then  in 1990 ,SUGGI witnesses  once more something like  1947 events . Terrorized by armed Militants,   kashmiri Pandits run for safety  and arrive in  Jammu city.  They take shelter  in temples ,  vacant  semi finished  buildings , Tents  and anywhere and everywhere they find a  cover for their hapless families .  Young  children , women and elders   crowd in a single room , face many odds  and to  survive , men from the community  take up  any offer of employment   that comes their way .They live in hell but  keep dreaming of the heaven they left behind.

The protagonist of the novel  is amazed at the resilience   of  this community  and  feels that no curse is bigger than leaving one’s motherland .

Suggi  tells Soma panditayan  .

“  Look soma , Women may pass time in banishment  as they get busy with other household affairs but men suffer too much while living in exile  . These pandits used to  spread education all over . Now look  how  these poor fellows do all type odd jobs.I curse this Government .   Bring two families over here . Those two rooms are locked since long in our locality . I shall break open the locks. Let two Pandit families stay over  here .Bring Sarvanand Koul’s family here . If nothing is possible , I shall share one room in this custodian house  with that family . One room is sufficient  for me ."

 Unable to come to terms with rapid changes  taking place around her  ,  Just before her death ,   Suggi tells Rano ,

“This city does not reflect the Dogra culture any more . People neither  speak  dogri language  nor eat Dogra food. No one dresses like a Dogra any more .The potter who made  Suraahi type Pitchers   is dead .No women wears  a Suthhan ( a    long but tight salwar worn by ladies ).  When parents do not speak dogri , How can children speak Rano ji . Dogras think that they have come from England .  They feel  proud in teaching  English to their children as a language of communication  within their families and  homes ."

On her death bed , SUGGI tells Parsino ,  her daughter in law 

" Look Parsino , River Tawi is more sacred than Ganga or yamuna .Let me have a bath in Tawi before i die . Can't Nathi  ( Parsino's husband ) carry me on his back ? I want to see Hills of Mata Vaishno Devi . I shall send my Pranaams to Mata Rani.  Parsino , Listen carefully ,  Soma is my childhood friend . Respect her in my absence .During my death rituals , ensure that all women wear  Dogra Dress. you should wear  a Suthhan . I  shall be watching  everything from the sky over your head. I may become a Ghost if you do not act on my words ."

And inspite of her love for Dogra culture and language , Suggi is open towards  accepting changes that are sweeping her Jammu . Infact she has learnt and  adopted many things after   her personal interaction with Punjabis , Mirpuris and kashmiris living in Jammu city  . She likes Kashmiri Kahwa tea  and crisp  Baakikhaanis . She has a Kashmiri Raffal Dussa that she uses sparingly.

 And   Jammu finally turns  a crucible of many cultures and civilization  ;A  true  symbol of Unity in diversity …..

I conclude this post with a couplet of Poet Firaq …

Sar Zameen e Hind pe aqwaame aalum ke Firaq
Kaafile bastay Gaye hindustaan  Banataa Gayaa

( Autar Mota  )

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Saturday, December 13, 2014




( Photo Courtesy Sh.Dalip Langoo . This photo was clicked in 1988 by Dr Rahul Kaul nephew of Sh.Pran Kishore ( Radio Kashmir Srinagar )

When my sister’s Mother in law heard that a marriage had to be solemnized in our family , she suggested that we should engage noted Kashmiri folk ( Chhakri ) singer Ali Mohd Sheikh ( 1916-2006 ) for Mehndiraat function . She was a great admirer of Ali Mohd Sheikh. It was  early November 1989 and armed militancy had arrived in kashmir valley . Uncertainty , fear and panic had become a part of the day to day routine. Marriages were brief devoid of celebration and merriment . We had no option but to go for a Mehndiraat function without the usual folk singers . Ali Mohd Sheikh could not be invited for obvious reasons. I personally missed the traditional dance , Music and Chhakri that kashmiris usually have on Mehndiraat functions.
Ali Mohd sheikh was a master of *Chhakri style of kashmiri folk singing . A Sangeet Natak Academy awardee , he had travelled to many places in India and abroad ( Tajikistan , USA ,Japan and some Latin American countries ) popularizing Chhakri style of kashmiri singing . Sheikh had also mesmerized the audience by his singing in Festival Of Asian arts at Hongkong held in 1988. About this Festival, Music composer Dalip Langoo Adds,
“Ustad Ali Mohd Sheikh not only performed there as a folk singer from Kashmir but he also performed in a small dance drama sequence created by Noted Composer Krishan Langoo ji. He acted as Moulvi sahib before a huge gathering at one of the prestigious shows held in Hong Kong. ”

Sheikh also sang for the Radio and Television creating two generations of admirers .
Ali Mohd Sheikh was born and brought up in village Hajjin falling in North Kashmir. And such singers do not sing songs alone ; They are the torch bearers who spread culture and heritage through music .
As person , he was simple and focused . Flaunting a serious appearance , sheikh generally wore elegant white or off white Shalwar kameez , waist coat and a cap ( Central Asian Karakulli type ). 
He had his own group of accompanying musicians and did regular Riyaz creating New Melodies and Rhythms .He would mostly sing Sufi poets like Ahad Zargar , Sochhi Kraal , Samad Mir, Wahab Khaar and Shams Faqeer .

I must have heard eight or nine compositions of Ali Mohd Sheikh and party . Every composition done to perfection . Perfection in selecting the Kalaam ( poetry ), perfection in handling and lacing the words with music and perfection in delivery . I have seen him playing Harmonium and Sarangi .
To my readers I would suggest listening just three composition of this Grand master . Even One is enough to establish his versatility .
Faqeeri Kaabaah O Mehraab Chhumayii
Faqeeri Taabavunn Aftaab Chhumayii...
faqeeri Misl e Gulshan Aaav Fael Fael
Faqeeri Runga Rungayii Jaama Vallie Vallie
Faqeeri Dard Poshan Mushq e Amber
Faqeeri Vasl Sheeshan Assaluquyii Moi......
Faqeeri Meemun Doann Munz basithh Haayii
fareeqi Jalwa Maaraan Andhera Neiburr
Fareeqi "Ahad Zargar " Chhuyii Tche Barsurr ."
“ Akh Tche ta Beyii Ba ganzar Ma Baa
Ha Baa Yi Chhuyii Gumaanaai ”
“Gaah Gaah Me Trovmayee Khyon Ta Tchonuyii
Kaansi Vonuyii No
Taem Paan Awezaan Tchhunuiyii
Kaansi Vonuyii No”
I also heard him sing " Suyii Doadh Chhumm Jigaruss " Vaav Baerr Zulfi Khumm Baliye " , "shaam sondarrun bara karrnuss ta lo lo -kaamdeevus ha logg par-muss ta lo lo “ , Grayii Maaraan Kunn Doorun Lo Lo” , “ Chhakhayii Hooro Pari Dilbar Dilbari “ “ Rinda Poshmaal Gindanay Draayii Lo Lo “ and “ Valo Maa Tchull Ba Maaraai Paan “
Any person who has listened to his rendering of “ Faqeeri Kabaah O Mehraab Chhumaai ” need not listen more of his singing so as to call him the greatest exponent of Chhakri Style of kashmiri Folk singing .

Unknown to many of his admirers , Sheikh had an insightful knowledge of kashmiri sufiana singing as well .I have seen him delivering some brief but soulful lines for his audience in pure kashmiri sufiana style . I quote two lines that he sang in a function at Tourist Reception Centre Srinagar long back ….
"Boazu Myaan Zaar - Zaaray e Paar _ Awaara Kar Thuss . "
"Listen my woes - Listen my pleas . I am undone and roaming aimlessly in love”
( Autar Mota )



*CHHAKRI style of singing is believed to have originated from SHAKTRI ( Chorus singing by Aryans after a Yagya ) ) mentioned in RIGVEDA . It is a form of chorus or group singing by males with Matka ( Noatt ) , Rabaab , Tumbaknaari , Sarangi as accompanying instruments . Harmonium is a later addition to Chhakri singing .The lead singer sits in the centre with others surrounding him. Rajatangini also makes mention of a stylized singing in Kashmir wherein metal utensils were used . So powerful and foot tapping are the beats of this style of singing that every listener is tempted to stand up and dance in musical rhythm. It is a popular form of folk  singing  that is  put to practice during weddings and other functions by Muslims and Pandits from Kashmir valley  .

The Hong kong event of 1988  was wonderfully conceptualized , designed and executed by Pran Kishore ( Radio Kashmir ) And composer Krishan Ji Langoo .Two DVDs loaded with recording of this Gala Musical event were given to me by Krishan Ji Langoo and these remain as a precious Gift with me .
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Monday, December 8, 2014



 (Photo by Sandeep Mota September 2014 )

 To this photograph , i am adding a Dohaa composed by me today..

Ghaas Ki Jhoparr mein Muskaaye 
Sukh Sapna sansaar ..
Raj-Mahal ko soona kar Gayee 
Birhaa Ki Eik Maar...
( Autar Mota )

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FIRAQ  GORAKHPURI ( 1896-1982 )

Firaq has used two words  in some  his Gazals that he wrote  . These words are Khastagi ( Brittleness ) and Munn-Chalan ( something close to haughtiness ) . Many writers who knew him, saw him and were friendly to him , commented that contrary to popular beliefs , Firaq was soft , tender and as transparent as Glass . That made him brittle as well.
Firaq was also a little puffed-up personality . Death of his children and a failed marriage made him lonely . It brought enormous pain in Firaq's life And Firaq had no one close to him to share this grief .
All these things apart , he had a very high opinion about his poetry and his style. And this opinion also extended to his English ,a language that he taught at Allahabad university. He is reported to have once said ,
“ Only three people in India know correct English .They are Dr S Radhakrishnan , Pandit Nehru and Firaq ”.

In fact he had said that two and half persons know correct English In India . Nehru, he had put in the half . This statement was later modified to Three.
What I say is supported by his one couplet as well.

Aane wali naslain tum par fakr kareingi Humasron
Jab inn ko Maaloom Yeh Hogaa tum ne Firaq ko dekhaa thaa

(The generations to come will envy you, compatriots, When they will realize that you had seen Firaq.)

Like Faiz ,Firaq too has a passionate engagement with humanity at large . Due to his strong commitment to Marxism,quite often, Faiz comes up as a spokesperson of the downtrodden . 
Firaq has nothing to do with Marxism . But then he is equally enchanting when he talks about people in night long wait for some one to turn up or about people managing their existence in suffering , pain , loneliness and separation . A sample of Firaq’s style to substantiate my point of view could be …..

Raat aadhi se Ziyaada gayee Thhii Saara aalum sotaa Thhaa 
Naam Teraa Le le kar Koyee Dard ka maara Rotaa Thhaa……
Taaray Aksar Doob Chalay Thhay , Raat ke ronay vaalon ko 
Aanay Lagii Thhi Neend sii Kuchh Duniyaa mein savera Hotaa Thhaa….
Uss ke aansoo Kis ne Dekhe Uss ki Aahein Kis ne sunii
Chaman Chaman Thhaa Husn Bhi Lekin Dariyaa Dariyaa Rotaa Thhaa …. 
( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

Ab Aksar Chupp Chupp se rahain hain 
Yuun Hi Kabhuu Lub Kholain Hain...
Pehlay "Firaq" Ko Dekha Hotaa 
Ab To Bahut Kam Bolay Hain...
Gham Ka fasaana sunanay vaalon 
Aakhir e Shab aaraam karo,
Kal Yeh Kahaani Phir Chhedeingay 
Hum Bhi Zaraa Ab So Le hain...
( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

Raghupati Sahai “Firaq “ Gorakhpuri was an excellent conversationalist. He could speak extempore for hours on Dante , Kierkegaard , Shakespeare , Tulsi Das ,Kabir , Tagore , Ghalib , Kalidas , Rumi or Hafiz and then switch over to weird topics like variety of snakes and frogs in Indian Jungles . His personal cook , Gardner , Washer Man , Hair cutter and Tailor had to listen to his ideas on issues that fell under their jurisdiction . Sometimes he could be seen giving long lectures to his cook as to How he should cook “Baingan Ka Burthhaa “. His Dhobi was regularly counseled about the technique of ironing different clothes or washing these on Ganga Ghaat at Allahabad .

Firaq was known for his direct and unwrapped views . To progressive writers , who were mostly influenced by communist ideology , Firaq once said ,

“ You must also be conscious of present possibilities and the bright hopes that it throws up for world around us . Do not get trapped into the question of believing or Not believing in God. Accept all the wisdom that was passed on to us by Rig Veda, Tennyson , Tolstoy, Tagore , Ghalib and many more . Without consciousness of this Grand heritage , No Progressive literature can be created .”

It was Firaq who had recommended the name of Josh Malihabaadi as editor of Urdu Magazine AAJKAL published by Government of India . Firaq was made chairman of the appointment committee by Pandit Jawahar lal Nehru .When some Bureaucrats objected to this appointment , Firaq told Pandit ji
“ What do these Bengali , Gujrati and Madrasi officers know about Urdu . If their views were also to be taken into account , what need arose to bring me as the Chairman of the appointment committee.”
Pandti Ji had to abide by Firaq’s recommendations .

Mehboob woh ke sar se qadam tak khuloos ho,
Aashiq vahii ke husn se kuchh badgumaan bhi ho..
(Firaq Gorakhpuri )

 I am tempted to agree with firaq that any person under the sun can give unending discourse on Literature ,Art , Morality and Religion. The listener is equally tempted to peep into the personality of the orator , analyze and evaluate him under the scanner of self practice . Mere oration does not make any person Great . Firaq informs …

Aadami ka Aadami honaa nahin Aasaan Firaq ,
Ilm o Fun Ikhlaaq o Mazhab Jis se Chaaho Poochh Lo …
( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

Firaq believed that Death is approachable and touchable . For him , there is some positivity about Death .This positivity he finds missing in Existence that slays man day in and day out .  According to Firaq ,this demon of existence has no cure . It is not reachable or touchable. I quote Firaq …

Maut Ka Bhi Ilaaj Ho Shaayad
Zindagi ka Koyee Ilaaj nahin…
( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

Aaj Rag Rag Mein Jaan Daurr gayee
Maut ne zindagi ko Chheirr Diyaa
( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

Maut ke bhi Urray hain hosh Aksar 
Zindagi ke sharaab-Khaanon mein.
Hum ussi zindagi ke dhar pe hain 
Maut hai jis ke Paasbaanon mein
( Firaq Gorakhpuri )

 (Autar Mota )

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Sunday, November 30, 2014


                                             ( With  wife and Daughter Anuradha Rishi )


Pandit Sansar Chand Baru ( 1902-1995 ), the first Modern   painter  from   jammu  ( fondly known as master ji ) shall always be remembered for his unique style ; A Grand fusion of Pahari and Modern Art  . 

                                          ( A Painting by Sansar Chand Baru )
It is believed that BARU community of Brahmins migrated from Assam and settled in Jammu and Himachal hills. They were Kul Purohits of various hilly Rajput rulers.  Pandt Dhanpat Baru ( Father of Sansar Chand Baru ) was Raj Purohit  to  Maharaja Partap singh and the family lived at Pucca Danga Jammu in Fattu Chougan locality. When Pandit Dhanpat  saw that his son was least interested in Academics , he requested Jagat Ram " *Chhuniyaa " , a noted artist during those days,  to impart some basic lessons in painting to Sansar chand .Young sansar chand was sharp in learning drawing . As time passed , this young boy matured to  a fine water colour Artist and got a permanent job as Drawing master in Government Technical Institute Kachhi Chhawni ( Presently Government Girls Higher Secondary school Kachhi Chhawani) Jammu .

As first  Curator of Dogra Art Gallery Jammu ( now Known as Dogra Art Museum )  , master ji is responsible for retrieving a large number of original Basholi Miniature Paintings from some influential individuals and preserving this invaluable Heritage for posterity .   For this, he repeatedly  contacted  Padha ( Upadhaya ) family  from Basholi  for  procuring  some valuable  Basholi Miniature paintings  .  The ancestors of Padha family were  Physicians to the rulers of Basholi   .  Sri Kunj Lal Padha of  Basholi  finally agreed to  present  about 70 paintings (  Rasamanjari theme  ) to Bakshi Ghulam Mohd  who  donated all this  Treasure to Dogra Art Gallery Jammu . Some paintings were also  gifted to Dr Karan Singh  by Kunj Lal Padha  .

The  Persian handwritten SHAAHNAAMA  was brought to Gogra Art Gallery through singular efforts of master ji . Credit goes to him for collecting numberless    artifacts  for  Dogra Art Gallery that include  Dogra costumes , Coins , Manuscripts , Handicrafts , Ornaments  , Terracotta Heads , sculptures  ,Metal Objects ,  intricately carved Marble  Jharokhas ,  Arms and  Stone Inscriptions in Takri   .

 In 1944 ,Alongwith Bhagwat Prasad Sathe , Deenu Bhai Pant , D C Prashant , Narayan Mishra and Prof Ram Nath Shastri , Master ji established DOGRI SANSTHA . And  Master ji was unanimously elected  to  head the SANSTHA as its first president .

In  1948, this    sanstha performed   “ Bawa Jitto Da Balidhaan “   the first Dogri Play  at Tikri . Due to his initiative , a grand exhibition of Paintings done by  Artists  from Duggar land was organized inside Technical Institute Kachhi Chhawani Jammu . In 1952    ,  Dogri Sanstha organized  another exhibition of paintings  (done by artists from Jammu ) at New Delhi   .
Master ji took personal interest for compilation  of “ JAAGO  DUGGAR  ”  the  first collection of Dogri poems published by Dogri Sanstha   . JAAGO  DUGGAR   was followed by NAMEE  CHETNA.  NAMEE  CHETNA  was  initially published from Delhi but finally DOGRI SANSTHA   started its full time publication from Jammu.

Joined by Kehri singh Madhukar , Prof M R Puri, Prof Goverdhan singh ,D C Prashant , Ram Nath shastri, Dinu Bhai Pant and many more writers and intellectuals, Master ji   would be seen going from door to door or selling copies of NAMEE CHETNA  in Pucca danga or Raghu Nath Bazar  so as to popularize it.
He  also seved as Court Painter during the rule of Maharaja Hari Singh .

He was a disciplined person and never compromised with his principles . A thorough gentleman and honest to the core , he remained a lover of nature which is evident in his water colour landscapes . When his trusted friend, noted artist and sculptor Vidya Rattan Khajuria was posted at Institute of Fine Arts in Srinagar, Master ji paid some visits to kashmir and did some memorable Kashmir landscapes .
As artist, he was comfortable in many formats and styles like Pahari Miniature , Bengal School , Portraits , Landscapes and abstract . 

                                                           ( Buddha by Sansar Chand Baru )

                                                          ( Sarswati by Sansar Chand Baru )

                                                      ( A   Painting by Sansar Chand Baru )

                                                       ( A   Painting by Sansar Chand Baru )

                                                            ( A   Painting by Sansar Chand Baru )

His house at Pucca Danga jammu was a meeting Hub for Artists , Poets , writers and intellectuals . Even well known Hindi writer Ageya called on him during his visit to Jammu . Prof. Neelamber Dev Sharma , Prof.Ram Nath Shastri , Kishen Smailpuri , Parmanand Almast  Narsingh Dev Jamwal , Deenu  Bhai Pant , Bhagwat Sathe  and D C Prashant were also amongst regular visitors . Master ji had close association with Comrade Dhanwantri as well.
Bakshi Ghulam Mohd and Dr karan singh were Great admirers of his work. Even Dr Rajendra Prasad appreciated his work when he visited jammu in 1954 for Inauguration of Dogra Art Gallery(  now known as Dogra Art Museum  ) .

His published essays on Pahari Art and Folk literature attracted the attention of some eminent International Art Critics . Together With Prof Lakshmi Narayan , Master ji wrote a scholarly book “ AN INTRODUCTION TO FOLK LITERATURE AND PAHARI ART “ . This work has become a reference book for Art critics and writers on Pahari Miniature Art and the Folklore associated with it.

His daughter Anuradha Rishi is also an accomplished Artist . Adds Anuradha Rishi

“. To me , he was a Friend , Guru and father .A simple man who loved his Dhoti , Kurta , churee- daar Pyjama and Sherwani. He ate simple food . He would make me to sit while he painted . That was how I learnt my best lessons in Art from him. Many people say that the feminine face in my father's work resembles mine . ”

On his Birth anniversary In 2012 , Lovers of his Art  organized  an on the  spot  children’s Painting competition  at kala Kendra jammu. The event was attended by His daughter , Sri Narsingh Dev jamwal and some prominent Artists from  Jammu.  This year ( 2014 ) Anuradha Rishi ( Baru ) , in her capacity as Chairperson of” Sansar Chand Baru Memorial Trust ” organized two  major events  in Jammu to commemorate her father.  Both were well attended .

I sincerely believe that  More needs  to be done by Government and Lovers of Art  for the man  who influenced    two generation of Artists  in this part of the country  .

I conclude this post with a couplet of Urdu poet Firaq Gorakhpuri ….

Iss Qaaynaat e Gham Ki Fusurda Fizaaon mein
Bikhraa Gaye hain Aa ke woh kuchh Muskaraahatein

( Paying a visit to the  gloomy ambience or this world   ,      
He created space for some smiles to spread.)

Peace be to his soul.

( Autar Mota )
(1 )
Jagat Ram  nicknamed  “chhuniyaa ” was a well known painter during the rule of Maharaja Partap Singh of J&K. He enjoyed royal patronage and was sanctioned a monthly stipend of Rs 25 /= . Chhuniya hailed from Baddu Kishenpur . Chhuniya used oil and water colours in his work . He was also an expert in Delhi style of Ivory carving. .Chhuniya was a disciple of well known painter Harichand of jammu.
My thanks to  J&;K Academy of Art Culture and languages , Sri Narsingh Dev Jamwal ( Author MONOGRAPH : Pandit  Sansar Chand ) and  the family of  the Artist   for Inputs and photographs  .      
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Thursday, November 20, 2014




Uptil now , I carried with me , a grossly mistaken opinion about Nawab Wajid Ali Shah ( 1827-1887) , the last Ruler of Awadh . Nothing more than a profligate ,indolent and wealthy Nawab who was also a lover of poetry, Music , Rang Mahal and Nautch Girls. I was made to believe that he was a fickle minded person who generally wavered while taking strong administrative decisions and consequently unfit to govern .

Every thing has changed after I read a wonderful Book titled “ WAJID ALI SHAH : THE TRAGIC KING ” By Ranbir Sinh . My renewed interest made me to read   more reliable work  on this unfortunate king. I now firmly believe in something otherwise .

Whatever be his fault or whatever be his presentation by various historians , Wajid Ali Shah comes out as a remarkable character in this Book. A person who never compromised with his fundamental beliefs nor sold his country . For me, at least , In the scale of honour , he stands heavier to Lord Dalhousie ( who ordered the annexation Awadh ) who wanted him sign a treaty ( Colonial conspiracy ) to give up Awadh in exchange of an annual stipend. To execute the conspiracy of forcible annexation of Awadh , Lord Dalhousie ensured that a patently biased report was prepared by General Sleeman , the then British Resident of Lucknow. Far from realities , this report highlighted maladministration and lawlessness supposed to be prevailing in Awadh so as to justify its annexation to British East India .

"He is entirely taken up in the pursuit of his personal gratifications. He has no desire or thought to take any interest whatever in public affairs and is altogether regardless of the duties and responsibilities of his high office. He lives exclusively in the society of fiddlers, eunuchs and women: he has done so since his childhood, and is likely to do so till his last." So wrote General Sleeman in his report .

Upon refusal to sign the treaty , Wajid Ali shah was forcibly removed and Awadh annexed to British East India Company . His property and palaces were confiscated . After being compelled to move from Lucknow to Bengal in 1856, the deposed nawab was settled by the British in Garden Reach, an area south-west of Calcutta that had luxurious villas along the Hooghly river.

One of Wajid Ali Shah's wives, Begum Hazrat Mahal, remained in Lucknow during the Sepoy Mutiny 1857. Supported by Raja Jailal singh and Nana Sahib , she put herself at the head of those fighting for freedom from British Raj. The Begum did not surrender and died in Nepal in 1879 after being allowed Asylum by Rana Jang Bahadur.

The persecution and injured pride of the Nawab gave birth to some fine poems that he composed while he stayed in calcutta . Poems of Patriotism and loneliness. I quote a sample …

Shikwa kis se karoon yaan Dost ne maara Mujh ko,
Juz khudaa ke nahin ab Koyee sahaara Mujh Ko,
Nazar Aataa Nahin Bin Jaaey Guzaara Mujh Ko
Dar o Deewar Pe Hasrat Ki nazar kartein Hain
Rukhsat Aey Ahl e wattan Hum to safar Karein Hain…

Saare Ab Shahar Se Hotaa hai Yeh “AKHTAR “ Rukhssat,
Aagay Bas ab Nahin Kehnay ki Hai Mujh Ko Furssat ,
Ho Na barbaad Meray Mulk Ki Yaaron Khalqat,
Dar o Deewar Pe Hasrat Ki nazar kartein Hain
Rukhsat Aey Ahl e wattan Hum to safar Karein Hain…

( when he Left Awadh )

Kabhi sar pe rakhtaa thhaa mein kaj Kulaah.
Awadh ka kabhi mein bhi thhaa Baadshaah.
Koyee Ranj Zindaan Mein Aisaa Nahin
Jo iss Be sar o paa ko Pahunchaa nahin
Huve Qaid Iss tarah hum Be-Gunaah
Aseeron Mein Huun Naam Hai Baadshaah ..
( In Prison During the sepoy mutiny of 1857 )

As a patron of arts , Wajid Ali Shah sanctioned a life long pension of Rs500 Per annum to Mirza Ghalib. He spent a large amount from his annual stipend patronizing musicians, dancers and poets in Calcutta .
His interest in Architecture made him to build the Famous Quaiser Bagh complex at a cost of 80 Lakhs . To him goes the credit of revival of Kathak form of Dance in Awadh. And he himself was a skilled kathak dancer. I also came across a story about his dancing that goes as under ..

“During the Holi celebration in 1867 at the Durbar Hall of Metiabruz, near Kolkata, where the nawab built a replica of his palace in Lucknow, Wajid Ali Shah sang and danced in a peshwaj In a gathering of eminent musicians and connoisseurs. He wore a long full-sleeved gown that flared from the neck to the ankles,where it measured as much as 80m in circumference.
In this gathering , the nawab began his recital with a khayal, and later moved on to the bandish ki thumri “neer bharan kaise jaaoon sakhi ri” that is sung even today in Raga Tilak Kamod.”

Thumri singing and composition received greatest support from him. He himself sang and composed Thumris. He is the composer cum first singer of the most popular Thumri of the subcontinent “ Babul Mora Naihar Chhooto Jaaye ”. “ Jab chhorr chale Lucknow nagari/Kaho hal adam par kya guzre?” is another popular Thumri composed and sung by him .

While shooting “Shataranj Ke Khilari ” Film Director Satyajit Ray once asked the Calcutta based descendants of the Nawab the reasons as to why the legendry Nawab is shown dressed in an angrakha while leaving his left bosom exposed in many Potraits /Photographs . It was gathered by Ray that the late Nawab had himself given a reasoned reply to this query in his lifetime in following words

“I deliberately keep it exposed because I believe as a poet I should keep my heart open to emotions and sensibilities.”

Wajid Ali Shah was a playwright as well. His Plays Including “Radha Kanahayya ka Qissa “ was staged for many weeks to packed audience in Qaiser Bagh Complex Lucknow. With Bells tinkling in his feet ,He himself danced as Krishna in many stage plays based on Raas-leela. Kathak was also introduced and popularized through these dance Dramas .

As ruler , he introduced reforms and dispensed justice . He was truly secular , liberal and fair to all subjects irrespective of their faiths . He himself led Holi and Deewali Celebrations .Under his personal supervision , Poor and Destitutes from all communities were given food and clothes during Idd and Muhharam . Inspite of being known as a man of pleasure , Wajid Ali Shah never touched wine nor missed his five daily prayers.

In his later life, he was carried all over on a sedan chair. He is said to have been afflicted with an anal fistula that forced him to spend many agonizing hours in the toilet.

He was a remarkable poet of romance who added AKHTAR or AKHTAR PIYA as Takhallus to his name and wrote poetry . His creative work is spread in over 40 books of poetry , prose and Thumris. Out of this, Two books "Diwan-i-Akhtar", "Husn-i-Akhtar" contain his Ghazals. I quote lines from his popular romantic Gazal ….

Ilahi koyee hawa ka jhonka, dikha de chehra-udaa ke Aanchal
Jo jhaankta hai kabhi sitamgar,to khidkiyon mein-laga ke Aanchal
Suni jo kadmon ki meri Aahat, to jaake chupke se so gaye woh
Jo mainay talwon pe gudgudaya, ulat diya-muskura ke Aanchaal
Zaroor dhayegaa koyee fitna, Zaroor mahshar bapaa karega
Ye tera at-kheliyon se chalnaa, jhukaa ke gardan-gira ke Aanchal
Zaroor hai majra yeh koyee, jo rehtay hain duur-duur hum se
Jo paas Aakay bhi baith-tay haain ,to har taraf se-dabaa ke Aanchal…

(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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