Wednesday, February 8, 2017




The story of Mahadev Joo  , a kashmiri Robin hood is forgotten now. No grandmother to reveal how he procured the Pyjaama of Maharaja Partap singh by forcing Red ants through a reed Pipe while the ruler slept in his Bed Chamber . So much was Maharaja Upset with the irritating Ants that he threw away his Pyjaama to free himself from the insects .We were told by elders that some one had put up a challenge to  Mahadev Joo  for this daring deed  and he did it skillfully.
  ( A  sketch of Mahadev Bishta blowing red ants through a pipe done by  Artist Mohan Raina )

And then another story of  Mahadev Joo also known as Mahadev Bishta (cat’s mew ) entering the Mehndiraat function of  Dhar Family of Safa Kadal along with his group for a robbery . This group came in the guise of singers and Mahadev joo divided the group . Some members sat with Mahadev joo for the high Pitched Chhakri singing while others engaged themselves with thieving the house .And Mahadev joo brought every one to the singing Venue when he sang ...

Bishtak Baanda
Raanda ho……..
Hashi Nishi Aa’tch vaen
Raanda ho ..
Noshi Nishi Tchaa’kha
Raanda ho
Tchhaadar Tujh’thaa
Raanda ho ……
Voth vaen nerav
Raanda ho.

Mewing like a cat,
O Performer!
you are the Terrible ,
Go to the Mother in law ( Haesh ) Now
you are the Terrible
Have you gone to the Daughter in Law ( Noesh )?.
you are the Terrible .
Have You carried the Blankets
you are the Terrible ...............
Get up , We leave now
you are the Terrible ..

While Mahadev Bishta engaged every member of Dhar family and the Guests with his singing, other members of his group moved through the house for their assigned task. They were guided by Mahadev Joo through the lyrics of the song that he was singing .It was already decided in the group before this burglary that word “Haesh or mother in law” meant the provisions store room while “ Noesh or the Daughter In law” meant the expensive jewelery .

We were made to believe that Mahadev joo was a man of short stature and  of a thin body frame. A man who could climb  trees and rooftops to barge in houses from chimneys known as Vogga in kashmiri.A real life Mogli who walked with a heavy dry grass sandals or Pullho'rr.Many elders told me that during old age, he was a reformed man who lived a simple village  life. He was a dancer, Chhakri singer and mimic artist( Baand).

Upender Ambardar adds:

“Mahadev Bishta belonged to village Gushi of district Kupwara.He could imitate  the voices of many animals particularly that of cats, hence earned the nickname of Bishta. He had a chhakri singing party of his own and under its guise would rob the affluent families to help the poor families to marry off their daughters. He was killed by tribal raiders during Qabali raid in 1947 at Gushi,kupwara.”

Grand Mothers would say that Mahadev Bishta robbed rich and helped the poor .Grand Mothers also told that Mahadev joo entered the house of his target simply mewing like a cat. The house owner would think it to be a stray cat and would accordingly try to ward it off by crying :

" Bishta Bishta "

Did Mahadev Bishta Really exist or our grand mothers created this Character? I am not sure.But many elders have told me that he was a  man of short staure and of a thin  body frame. He is reported to have  mastered the technique of entering houses from   roof top chimneys known as VOGG in Kashmir. So many people have informed me that in old age, he moved back to his village in kupwara where the Marauding Tribal raiders killed him in 1947.

 The  story of Mahadev Bishta remained a part of our Folklore . And We Forgot our own Robinhood or Mahadev Bishta .

( Autar Mota )


My mother's cousin sister who was affectionately known as Arin Jigar /Behan Pyari was a singer cum poet.In marriage functions of her relatives , she would enthrall every participant with her singing and by creating fantastic accompanying beats on Gaagar(Brass Matka) or Tumbaknaari( A Duffli used in Kashmir).  She was a Great performer .

Arin Jigar was married to Late Radha Krishen Dhar of Vechaar Naag who was a helpful relation. Arin Jigar had a great sense of humour and a sharp wit.

Apart from other compositions that she sang, "Bishtak Baanda "was something special and conveyed the story of the kashmiri Robin hood to us. .
Peace be to their souls..

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