Saturday, October 27, 2012



Who is  Prof.Jay Lal Kaul ?

I am reading Professor Jay Lal kaul’s Book on Lal Ded published by Sahitya Academy. Matchless translation of Kashmir’s tallest saint poetess. Simple , erudite and apt. I am floored by the scholarship of the author. Many friends reveal that Prof. Kaul was also known as Johnsonian scholar and linguist extraordinary.

I learn that Prof Jay :Lal Kaul (1900-1986 ) was a distinguished literary critic and scholar from Kashmir who taught English and later headed S P College as its principal . Lucky are the people who came close to him as his students or friends. One such person happens to be Agha Ashraf Ali .
Agha Sahib Told meis :- th

‘ Prof Kaul Is the final name and authority in translation of Kashmiri poetry to English . I have yet to find any other teacher who can equal his knowledge and style. Incidentally Kaul Sahib was my teacher who later became my intimate friend. You must read kaul sahib’s translation of Mirza Ghalib. A new dimension has been added to the poetry of Ghalib by this translation. This translation book has a foreword by none other than Maulana Abul Kalam Azad .’’

.Apart from Lal Ded Prof Kaul has translated a good number of Kashmiri poets into English . I can say with conviction that he is the first person who opened the window of Kashmiri poetry for the outside world with his apt English translations. These translations appear in his book 'Kashmiri Lyrics' .He has also authored another interesting ans informative books titled studies in Kashmiri . He also worked as Secretary, Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Arts, Culture and Languages for some years .

      ( Handwriting  Specimen of  Prof Jay Lal Kaul  from an Inland Letter  written to Prof. Jaya Parimu . For  Providing this me a photograph  of this letter , i remain indebted to Prof Jaya Parimu )

During our college days , Prof. Firaq ( English professor and well known Kashmiri poet ) once informed that Kashmiri section of S P college’s Partap magazine was started by Prof .Jay Lal Kaul in 1936. . He would often quote Prof. Jay Lal Kaul while teaching English to us .I also came  to know from Prof. Firaq that Prof.Jay Lal Kaul had done his post graduation in English from Allahabad University  .

( Prof. J L Kaul with students of S P College 1954 )

I also gather from some senior friends that Prof. Jay Lal Kaul’s father Pandit Lala Kaul accompanied Swami Vivekananda to Kheer Bhawani shrine in Kashmir .Lala Kaul was also associated with noted Indologist George Buhler. So have Prof. Jay Lal Kaul’s children notably Maj Gen A Kaul and Bhuvnesh Kaul carried forward their father’s literary tradition and scholarship . Though living away from Kashmir ,both have written and contributed towards the development of Kashmiri language and culture . For readers I quote Prof Kaul’s translation of Lal Ded ………

I will weep and weep for you, my Soul,
The world has caught you in its spell.
Though you cling to them with the anchor of steel,
Not even the shadow of the things you love
Will go with you when you are dead.

With a rope of loose-spun thread am I towing
My boat upon the sea.
Would that God heard my prayer
And brought me safe across !
Like water in cups of unbaked clay
I run to waste.
For ever we come, for ever we go;
For ever, day and night, we are on the move.
Whence we come, thither we go,
For over in a round of birth and death,
From nothingness to nothingness.
But sure, a mystery here abides,
A something is there for us to know
(it cannot all be meaningless)
Impart not esoteric truth to fools ,
Nor on molasses feed an Ass.
Do Not sow seed in sandy beds ,
Nor waste your oil on cakes of Bran.
I might disperse southern clouds,
I might drain out the sea ,
I might cure the incurable sick,
But I can not convince a fool…
And permit me to end this brief write up with a Mantra from Rigveda …….

May we live in harmony together,
May we enjoy(our days) together,
May we do great deeds together,
May our studies be light and strength unto us,
And may we not bear ill-will towards anyone!
( From Rigveda Translated into simple English by Prof. Jay Lal Kaul )


I  reproduce some comments from  my Facebook  page in response to a mini post on this scholar ..

Dr. Shashi Shekhar Toshakhani  Poet ,Historian and Scholar adds ..

"Prof. Jia (he later changed it to Jay) Lal Koul was really a person of wonderful disposition. He was among the first to have translated Kashmiri poetry into English and introduced it to non-Kashmiri readers. Published in the early forties of the 20th century,his book 'Kashmir Lyrics' is a valuable contribution in the field. His other books like 'Studies in Kashmiri' and 'Lal Ded' establish him as an outstanding scholar and literary critic of Kashmiri language. His efforts at projection and promotion of Kashmiri language and culture in his capacity as Secretary, J & K Cultural Academy have been well appreciated. Besides being a close friend of my father, he was also my teacher when I was a postgraduate student of English literature. I have also had the good fortune of having interacted with him on numerous occasions on issues related to Kashmiri literature and culture"

Sh Muneebur Rehman  Poet and  writer (son of well known Kashmiri  writer and poet Amin  kamil ) adds ..

I have read his Studies in Kashmiri and his translations of Kashmiri poetry. I haven't seen another translator like him to this date. His translation of Kamil's Rot Mokal is as good as the original, probably better than the original. I discovered Kamil poem only through his translation."

Sh Jawahar Lal Bhat  writer and author of newly released book  LAL DED REVISITED adds,..

. "Lal-Ded" by Prof. JayaLal Koul is a landmark contribution to Lal-Ded classics in Kashmir. My head bows low with veneration before this supreme soul who had great command over both language and literature.”

Shri. Ram Krishen Sadhu adds:

“ Prof Kaul has been one of the outstanding writers who was known for his command of the English language and his overall knowledge of both Urdu and Kashmiri literature. His book on Lal Ded which I read decades back has been a masterpiece. I did not have the opportunity to be his students but had the good luck to know him well. My last meeting with him was in Mumbai when I visited him at the Army Command House at Colaba (his son's official residence that time) to Enquire about his health. Those moments were rare but painful as he was recovering from a very serious ailment. ”

 Bansi Raina adds :

“ He was secretary of the State cultural Academy when King Mahindra of Nepal  visited  Kashmir. He was invited to witness a cultural programme at Togore Hall. Prof. Kaul delivered the welcome address and what a speech it was. This is nearly half a century back  yet  the speech is still fresh in my memory.”

Mohammad Sayed Malik ,Veteran Journalist  from our Kashmir adds  :

“ Kaul Saheb' high literary standing was matched by his equally wide social standing across the society. He commanded respect, never demanded. Shamim Ahmed Shamim had a long close association, thanks to their high-literary commonality. Kaul Saheb maintained his dignified social profile until the end, braving his serious health problems.”

T K Jalali ,musician , vocalist and former principal, Institute of Music And Fine Arts :

“ Every body is aware of the immense contribution of this great man to the  society as a teacher, litterateur & administrator in the  state’s  education Deptt. What most of us may not be fully knowing is Prof Kauls great contribution to art and  culture in the state during his long stint as the  Secretary of State Cultural Academy. Holding of annual art exhibitions, Drama festivals, On the spot painting and  music  competitions, music concerts, best publication awards and other activities which are  still being followed were initiated by him. In order to promote visual and  performing arts , his greatest contribution has been  the  establishment of  the  two Institutes of Music And  Fine Arts at Srinagar and  Jammu in the  yr 1965.It was his initiative which got the  agreement of the then CM Sadiq Sahib  and  the   patron of the  Academy Dr Karan Singh that these institutions were established. And the  rest is  a history..Art lovers of  the  state shall always be indebted to him for this contribution to the  society” 

I add my  small  tribute to  Prof Jay Lal Kaul through four lines that I wrote for him....

Vo Jo ilam thaa teray zehan mein
Vo thi roshini Jo chamak uthi,
Kayee Raaston ka pataa milaa
Kayee Manzilon se guzar gaye...

( Avtar Mota )


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