Monday, January 19, 2015



Published by vision Creative Services ,,
New Delhi ( Tel..0129-4175082 )

Price Rs595/=( Hardbound 560 Pages )
Book Released by GULSHAN CULTURAL FRONT (kashmir) on 15.01.2015 .



"Distinguished Guests on Dais , intellectuals , writers , poets and friends . Lal Ded has again been revisited . Revisited otherwise by many thinkers from across the globe uptil now. Revisited not only through Books or write-ups but also through other modes of visual and performing Art .
 I saw Rama Vaidyanathan , Noted Bhartanatyam dancer mesmerizing her Audience with ecstatic dance on Lal Vaakhs . I saw many painters paint her message and many singers begin their melody ( Sufiana Qalaam or Leela ) with her vaakhs ( Four line poetic compositions meaning Vaakyaas in Sanskrit ) only. A knowledge , a message and a thought so profound that it survives even when not put in any manuscript initially . Preserved by kashmiris Just by a word of mouth . 

Bhaskar Razdan is reported to be the first person who collected 60 Vaakhs of lal Ded . Thereafter Pt Lakshman Koul is reported to have collected 47 more and made the number rise to 107.Seeking help from Pandit Mukand Ram Shastri , George Grierson set to add more and so progressed the task of documenting the verses in proper text and translating them for readers all over the globe. The number of Vaakhs so collected kept on increasing . This quantitative increase also brought some dilution in core message of this saint poetess as some Vaakhs which do not belong to her but got unintentionally added by word of mouth and are now being attributed to her .
I personally tend to go with the opinion of Late Shri Moti lal Saqi that many Vaakhs which patently do not belong to Lal Ded are being attributed to her . My observation is also based on a careful study of her Core Message ,the spoken language of her time period and many other Vital factors . .May be , at some point of time some authentic Manuscript emerges that sheds more light on the subject. Nonetheless ,a serious student of her thought does not fail in identifying and separating the real from the  chaff from  the grain.

Today , I shall not talk about Rajanka Bhaskara , Barnett and Grierson , Richard Temple , Nila Cram Cook , Prof jay lal kaul ,Prof Parimu ,PNK Bamzai ,P N Bazaz ,Shashi Shekhar Toshkhani and Ranjit Hoskote for their invaluable contribution in presenting this Great Shaiva and Mystic poetess . Let me talk about a new addition to this distinguished list . Today, Let me talk about My learned friend Shri Jawahar lal Bhat’s Book LAL DED REVISITED .
                                                  ( Autar Mota with the Author )
Sh jawahar Lal Bhat has been a valued friend and a guide . He is devoted , focused and laborious . I understand that more than a decade’s hard work has seen the light of the day in the shape of this book. His main aim has been to ensure that the book remains as simple as possible so that a vast section of kashmiris across various age groups could easily understand the core message of Lal Ded .

The author informed me as under .. 

“ I have deliberately avoided the heavy poetic flavor and tone to my translation as enough of that sort is already available .My aim has been to focus on the core message of each Vaakh making it as simple as it could be . The book has been made as simple as it could be for a mass readership without any compromise on the core message . Readers can clear all doubts after going through the original vaakh , the English rendering and detailed commentary . “
At the outset , I am tempted to say that the very front cover of the book with its misty green appearance adorned with Pink and white lotus flowers is nothing but a welcome reception to the reader into the world of spirituality that lies within the pages . This lotus flower is endowed with a spirituality of highest order . While the white lotus represents profound enlightenment ,the pink on the other hand represents a Great soul that has attained NIRVANA. This lotus flower that has many shades of cross cultural significance and philosophical contours had also a noteworthy role in ancient Greek , Egyptians, Mesopotamian ,Babylonian , Sumerian and Chinese mythologies apart from being pivotal to Buddhism.
Coming to Format of the book , it is well thought out and planned . 560 pages , 7 pages for details of the contents , Roughly 20 pages for Exhaustive preface and background without which it would not have been possible for the reader to understand the Vaakhs in proper spiritual , Philosophical , Cultural and Historical perspective .Thereafter about 250 pages for the VAAKHs that appear in Roman , Nastaliq and Devnagri scripts simultaneously on the same page with crisp and to the point English translation . This is followed by about 260 pages wherein Detailed notes and commentary on each Vaakh is given . This detailed exercise is a brilliant job undertaken that makes each Vaakh adequately clear to the reader . In all 244 Vakhs have been incorporated . I believe the highest number that appear in any book on this saint poetess published so far. An extensive labour of love and devotion. A extensive research work with clarity that makes these Vaakhs comprehensible to the reader . I am sure that this book shall be a prized possession in every kashmiri household . An enormous job undertaken for which coming generation shall fell indebted to the author . I am inclined to hold to this belief . 

Lal Ded has indelible impact on kashmiri psyche . It has remained unabated inspite of a time lapse of about seven hundred years .This could possibly be due to the poet inside her envisioning mysticism and the saint within her writing verses . She remains a spiritual Giant and a poetic gem of kashmir. Her poetic presentation of the universal message of kashmir’s Shaiva Darshan and Dynamic Humanism remains beyond compare . And through her verses , she is responsible for shaping contours of kashmiri language and literature so as to grant it a worldwide recognition. 

The torch bearer of kashmir’s Reshi order and another Giant saint and Mystic poet Sheikh Noor Ud Din ( 1375-1438 ) or Sheikh ul Alam or Alamdaar e Kashmir also fondly known as Nund Ryosh , who followed close on the heels of lal Ded acknowledges lala’s presence and greatness . Sheikh ul Alam adds..
Tuss Padmaan Porichay lalle 
Yemi Gali amrit Pivo
Swo saanien Avtaar lwale
Tuithhuyii me Var Dittum Divo

( Homage to Lal Ded of Pampore 
Who drank her fill of Nectar 
That yogini eas Avtaar Indeed 
Grant me the same boon o God !)

The enormous Humanism of her Vaakhs is dynamic force that has withstood the test of the time and transcended all man made barriers . These VAAKHS are Like the fresh Fragrant air that can be universally experienced . Like the rays of sun that warm up every particle on this planet . like the Midsummer shower that gives relief to every creature from the scorching heat.

Many legends are woven around lal Ded’s personality and most of them are not supported by any historical , documentary or authentic evidence .
Let me take up one common belief that she moved Naked . Philosophically what is clothing ? It is the clothing of the mind . The five Veils as mentioned by Abhinavgupta in kashmir’s Shaiva Darshana provide the answer. Once these veils are removed , the reality lies naked . Naked in its originality . Does a great thought need any clothing ? Does the soul need any clothing? Once these worldly apparels are removed , every individual turns out to be a profoundly peaceful soul . 
In fact Her moving naked that is attributed to her one Vaakh ( Vaakya )
“ Gworan Vonnumm Kunuyee Vatchunn…….. “ 

“The Guru gave me just one word ,
Asking me to move within from the outer world ,
That alone became my song , 
unclothing myself , 
I Lala , moved naked in this Samsaara. “

The common interpretation derived of this Vaakh ( Vaakya ) appears to be Gross over simplification of the Vaakh itself. This “Neiburr Andhur Atchunn or moving within from outer world is also philosophical thought representing movement from Saguna ( Form ) to Nirguna( Formless ) worship of solitary supreme reality .


Now let us examine Some Vaakhs of Lal Ded in terms of the NETI NETI concept of Vedanta . I quote some lines from her Vaakh to support my argument ..
Adha lal Ba Vaatcheuss Prakash Dhaaam
“Then I lala Arrived at the illuminated abode “
Adha lala Me Praavim Param Gathh 
( Then I lala Attained the Absolute state )
Adha kammie Hilli phoall Lali Pamposh 
( Thence from some marsh this Lotus Blossomed within Lala )
Vuchhum Ta Deuthum Shili Kannie Vuthh
( Then I realized it was just a mass of stone before me )
Ba Kossa lala ded ta me kyaah Naav 
( Who am I lala ? what name do I propose for myself? )

There is every reason to believe that Lal Ded is the foremost practitioner of the Appraisal of Reality by application the Vedantic Doctrine of Neti Neti . For this , one needs to understand what is not Truth or Brahman . Not this Not this or beyond this and beyond this . A continuous rejection to arrive at pure reality . This is the Vedic method of analysis of Negation. Transcending all worldly experiences ,Nothing except the self so as to attain union with the absolute . It also annihilates our sense of self and the ego obviously has no place . This self inquiry and self investigation empowers a person to rediscover the real self and return to pristine awareness . Even Adi Sankara advocated the vedantic Neti Neti approach . 

Neti Neti comes very close to the “ Via Negativa “ concept in “ Apophatic Theology “ that arrived from ancient Greeks to western philosophy .


I treat Lal Ded as the first progressive poet of kashmiri language. More than that , she also happens to be the originator of concept of SHUNYA or NOTHINGNESS in kashmiri poetry . 
After a careful scrutiny of some VAAKHS of LAL DED , one is led to believe that for Lal Ded , a slippage to Nothingness is a Union with SUPREME SHIVA that resides in every particle of this universe . She also believes that this limitless and transcendent Shiva is the destroyer of darkness leading to emergence of light . For Lal Ded , Shiva is not only the destroyer from the Trinity of Brahma ( Creator ) Vishnu ( Preserver ) and Mahesha ( destroyer ) but the essential supreme ruler of SHUNYA or NOTHINGNESS .
Apart from Kashmir Shaiva thought , NOTHINGNESS as expressed by LAL DED is also of RIG VEDIC Origin. To some extent , NOTHINGNESS in her VAAKHS ( VAAKYAS ) is influenced by VEDIC HYMNS of NASADIYA SUKTA. The primordial ocean mentioned in RIG VEDA is synonymous with the concept of NOTHINGNESS. And the concept of SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING (Kenh’nuss Nishe Kyah’taam Draav) is again a pure RIG VEDIC thought . I quote a Hymn from RIG VEDA in support of this argument…
“Then there was neither death nor immortality
nor was there then the torch of night and day.
The One breathed windlessly and self-sustaining.
There was that One then, and there was no other.”

I also Quote three Vaakhs of Lal Ded (with my simple English rendering) ,
Shuniiyukk Mae’daan Kodumm Paanus 
Mey Lallie Roozum Boadh Na Hosh 
Wai’Zey Sap’nuss Paanie Paanus 
Adhaaa Kammie Hilli Phoall Lalli Pamposh ..
( Lal Ded )
( Alone I Traversed this vast ground of Nothingness ,
Intellect and consciousness too withdrew from me .
Then alone I turned familiar to my own inner self ,
And Here I appear like a Lotus flower blooming in swamp . )
Kenhi’nus Pyaath Kyaah Chhuyii Na’tchun,
Mwatchii Kenh Na Ta Natchun Traav ..
Poat Pheerithh Chuyee Totuyii Atchun
Yohaii Vatchunn Tcheituss Thhaav 
( Lal Ded )
( Why Dance over this nothingness ?
Abandon this ballet for you too shall contract to Nothingness .
And On return , you shall have to go back to nothingness ,
So Bear this thought alone in your mind . )
Goruss Pratchhom Saasi La’teiy
Yuss na Kenh Vanaan Tuss Kyaa Naav.
Pratchhaan Pratchhaan Tha’cheiss Ta loosuss
Kenh’nuss Nishe Kyah’taam Draav
( Lal Ded )
“To my Master , I asked a thousand times ,
By what name should we call the nameless one .
Drained I became from seeking this knowledge ,
And lo ! Something emerged from Nothingness only.”

One is amazed to note that After Lal Ded, This NOTHINGNESS has also been profoundly enunciated by poets of Sufi genre most notably by Shamas Faqir , Rehman Dar , Shah Gafoor ,Nyaam Sahib, Waza Mehmood ,Sochha Kraal , Ahmed Batawaari , Samad Mir , Ahad Zargar ,Wahab Khaar and many more in their compositions . 
Apart from Islamic Tassavuf , Almost all these poets appear to be familiar with the NETI NETI concept of VEDANTA. These poets keep negating descriptions about the ultimate reality but not the reality itself. And to embark on this , they also speak about the need to transcend worldly experiences rejecting everything ( Not this , Not this ) and arrive at the vast ocean of Nothingness to draw something ( Kenh Nassa Nishe Kyaahtaam Draav ) . I quote some SUFI poets (with my English rendering )..
Shunyaa Gatsithee Ooss Myon Oluy
Aemm Ashkaa Naaran Zoluye
Kuniruss Trovnumm Rwoni Manzoluy
Shroin Shroin Bozaan Aas
( Shamas faqir )

( Traversing NOTHINGNESS , my abode turned visible ,
And the intensity of love set this too on fire.
With a Chiming Cradle swung across my loneliness ,
I reached that final spot listening to musical chimes all around ) 

Kenh Nai Ouss Ta Kyaahtaam ouss 
Kenhuss Maaney Chhuyii Kentssaa
Kenhusss Maaney Zaanaan Goss
Paanaai Oussus Ba Bahaannai 
( Sochh Kraal )

( If Nothing was perceptible , 
For sure , something lay thereat.
I just moved ahead interpreting this Nothingness 
And I became the cause to exist .)

Dapyomuss Addah kattien chhuyee Tche Maqaam 
Tammie Dopnumm Naai Chhu Subah Naai Chhu Tattie Shaam .
( Sochh Kraal )

( I put him a question ,
“ Where is your abode ? ”
And he replied ,
“ A place where You experience neither Mornings nor evenings “

Even on an Agnostic platform , Once an Individual realizes that the final truth or reality is a merger with the vast SHUNYA or EMPTINESS or NOTHINGNESS , he carries a different outlook on qualms of mundane existence . This enlightenment also enables him to rise above the painful concerns of routine life . And accordingly , this concept of Nothingness comes up with a positive transformative power.


We are made to believe that “ Man is the only animal who conscious of his death ”

Is it so ? Is not the animal conscious of its death? Have we ever seen how a Dog or a cat tries to save itself from a speeding car or a vehicle ? May be this consciousness is triggered at that very moment . May be this consciousness visits instantly whereby they also desperately try to avoid seeing the end. 
The above belief is a result of viewing issues of human existence in isolation to other segments of life in this universe . Can we deal a part without connecting it to the whole ?
Inspite of this built in consciousness , Man usually does not believe in his own demise . For him it is something that visits “ OTHERS ”.Some tend to believe that DEATH has passed them by and the fleeting existence is mistaken for a permanent earth residency .
I come to purpose of this thought and say something on “ Death consciousness “as it appears in Lal Ded’s poetry . 
In so many vaakhs , directly or indirectly, Lal Ded advocates a serious consciousness of Death as paramount and fundamental to Righteous conduct . A consciousness that is not to be confused with a fear of death. Never has she made this consciousness appear as Alarm , Dread or Panic.

Lal Ded Believes that man needs to be perpetually conscious of this reality and this consciousness could be of immense help in shaping his / her upright conduct . For her , Death consciousness is a reformative force and a fundamental strength within . 
I quote two popular Vaakhs ( with my simple English rendering ) on this subject .
“ Raaz Hans Aasith Sappadukh Koluyii
Kuss Taam Tcholuyii Kyaahtaam Hyaathh
Grataa Guvv bandh Ta Grattun Hyot Goluyii 
Grataa Voall Tcholuyii Phull Phoall Hyathh “
( lal Ded )

( Weren’t you a chirping Royal swan ?
Who stole something within you ? 
Why you turned dumb suddenly ?
Stifled, the grinding Mill within you, came to halt ,
And the Mill owner carried away the grains .)
Lalithh Lalithh vadaai Boh Vaai
Tchietaa Muhutch Peyii Maai
Rozii Na Pataa Loh Langareitch Tchhaai 
Niz Swroof Kyaah Mothuaai Haai
( Lal Ded )

Non stop  , I shall sob  for you ,
O Mind , How you fell to this worldly greed.
Not even the shadow of this shall hang around at the end .
O Mind ! Why you ignored the real self within ?


Though deeply rooted in kashmir’s Trika Shaivite creed , Lal Ded had risen much above the world of creeds or labels. One can safely call her as a torch light of Medieval Mysticism and Bhakti Movement of the country . Ramanand ( 1400-1470 ) Kabir (1440-1518 )Guru Nanak ( 1489-1538 )and Sant Tukaram ( 1577-1650 ) followed her . Like Kabir , she also makes symbolic use of Swan ( Raaazhans ), Grinding Mill ( Gratta ), washerman ( Dhoobb) , Weaver ( Wovur ) , Lotus Flower ( Pamposh ) to put forth her spiritual thought . Her frequent use of Prakaash Dhaam or Prakash Sthaan is synonymous with kabir’s Anahad Naad or “ Baaje Anhad dol “ or the musical chimes that are created when one arrives at the real self transcending all worldly experiences .
Coming to the book again , I find The learned author has tried to be simple , lucid and to the point in his English translation or English rendering of each Vaakh . Pure Poetic translation was either intended nor beneficial in any way since such things are already available . The imperative need to simplify her thought in English and free it from weighty poetic diction has been superbly fulfilled by this book . From class readership it has now arrived for a mass readership. No unnecessary metaphors , symbols and idioms have been brought in anywhere in his English rendering . The core message of each Vaakh is now available in a simple but profound spiritual Elixir with to the point Joyous English rendering .This quality may create a mass reader base and may attract younger generation who have some issues with strict poetic translation of these VAAKHS. . 
For this work , posterity is bound to feel indebted to the author. I quote the English rendering of some vaakhs from the Book 
Shuniiyukk Mae’daan Kodumm Paanus 
Mey Lallie Roozum Boadh Na Hosh 
Wai’Zey Sap’nuss Paanie Paanus 
Adhaaa Kammie Hilli Phoall Lalli Pamposh ..
( Lal Ded)

(I crossed alone the wide fields of shunya ,
The sights and scenes dropped my reason and senses ,
Soon was I awakened to the mysteries of my inner self .
This , I Lalla with a humble background , 
Flowered like a lotus from the a marsh .)

Shiva keshv va Zin va
Kamalaz Naath  Naam Daarien Yuh
Mey Abhlii KaaeisteinBhav Roz
Suva Suva Su Va Suh

(You may call him Shiva , Keshva or Budha or even lotus Born Narayana ,
Makes no difference .
Whoever it may be ,
I wish this poor woman released from the sickness of life ,
Weak and helpless she is ,
Unable to meet its truest purpose !”)

Aayuss Vattey Gayuss no Vattey
Seimunz Sothhe Loosam Doah
Vuchhum Chanduss ta Haar Na Attey 
Athh Naavie taarus Dimaa Kyaah Boah…

( The road I came by is not the same I took to return,
On the middle of the embankment , the day waned and it was dark.
I looked for a penny in my pocket 
To pay for the ferryman but found none.
Alas ! What shall I pay for the ferry )
Gagan Tcheiyii Bhootal Tcheiyii,
Tcheiyii chhukh Dhyen Pavan taai Raathh,
Arag , Tchandun , Posh Poen Tcheiyii,
Tcheiyii Chhukh Soruyii Ta Laegizey Kyaah

( You are the Heavens and the underworld ,
The night as well as the day !
You are the existing flowers , Water , Sandalwood and the grains of rice ,
You , who is everything ,
What else can I offer you in worship. )
Deev Vatta Deevur Vatta 
Pyaatha Bonna chhuyee yikvaath ,
Pooz kuthh karakh huutt Bataa,
Kar Manuss Ta Pavanuss sanghaath

( The God before you is a stone ;
The temple, head to foot is all stone .
Whom will you worship O stubborn Brahmin ?
Awaken to the reality !
Follow my counsel and exercise control on your mind 
By uniting it with your life breath )
Atchhein Aaiyy Ta Gatchhun Gatchhey
Pakun Gatchhey Dhyen kyo Raathh
Yoraai Aaiyy Ta Toorii Gatchhun Gatchhey
Kenh Na Ta kenh Na Ta kenh Na Ta kyaah

( We have been coming and going for ever ,
We Are on the move day and night ,
Repeating returns unendingly !
We come from somewhere and return somewhere .
There ‘s surely something mysterious that we need to know.
All this can not be total nonsensical.)

Kandheiv karakh kandhe Kandhe 
Kandheiv karakh kandhe Veylaas 
Bhoogaai Meethii Deitithh Yuthh Kandhe 
Athh Kandhe Rozii na soor na saas

( What this fuss of fulfilling the demands of this body ,
Ornamenting it ,providing numerous luxuries and sweetmeats for it ,
Not a secret but a well known fact ,
Not even its ashes would survive )

I can quote so many Vaakhs that have been done to crystal clear rendering by my learned friend and the book is definitely going to live long and prove useful to kashmiris in general admirers of lal Ded’s philosophy in particular. Hardbound, moderately prices at Rs595/= published by Vision creative services New Delhi (0129-4175082) , it is surely going to attract too many encouraging reviews . 
Those of us who read Lal Ded in proper perspective and context , I am sure may find a real Master in her . A Spiritual Guru who guides by her Vaakhs alone . And for that purpose alone ,I recommend this Great work LAL DED REVISI
I conclude this write up / paper on this book with a shrukh ( Shloka ) of Sheikh Noor ud Din or Nund Ryosh that goes as under (English translation by Prof.J LKaul) ..

Aarbalan Naagraada rovukh
Saada rovukh Tchooran munz
Moodagaran gwor pandita rovukh 
Raaz Hans Rovukh Kaawaun Munz

(Amid the rocks , the found was lost ,
Among the thieves was lost the saint ,
Among the ignorant , the wise teacher was lost 
And the royal swan was lost among the crows )

( Avtar Mota 15.01.2015 )


ADDED ON  09.02.2015

The review of the book published in Daily Excelsior ( Leading  English News Paper  Published from Jammu ) on 08.02.2015..



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