Wednesday, January 31, 2018



                                     ( Photo Pushkar Bhan with Raj Kapoor )


After actor playwright Padamshri Pushkar Bhan ( 1926 - 2008) popularized word Machaama through his radio plays ( comedy), it has come to be a part of kashmiri Psyche . And here is a single word that brings nostalgic smile on every kashmiri’s face. Most of us are familiar with characters of these Machama series radio plays ; i mean Machaama , Kaak, Kaaken ,Khadiji ( wife of Machama ) , Sula Gotta , Rehman Dadda and many more. Most of us also remember Tuvaan Bacha , Zingari , Singari, Djinn , Rakh ( huge bird ) and some more characters from Pushker Bhan’s radio Play ‘Sindbaad Machaama ’.

I vividly remember how food was served to us at 8.30 PM and my mother would finish everything by 9.15 PM. Thereafter every one in our family kept glued to the radio in hush hush silence waiting till 9.30 PM when we would hear something like this :L

“ Ye chhu Radio Kashmir Srinagar . Raetch haenz Saada Nuv Baajeiye . Booziv Drama ‘Sindbaad Machaama ’ Tehreer Pusker Bhan Peishkush Pran kishore ’
"This is radio Kashmir Srinagar . It is 9.30 PM now. Tune in to our drama ‘Sindbaad Machaama’ scripted by Puhker Bhan and produced by Pran Kishore.’

To be at home at dot drama time , many shopkeepers would close their shops early . Children , elders , ladies and middle aged persons would wait eagerly for the Machaama radio drama.

Machaama had touched the soul of every kashmiri who somehow wanted a break from the monotony of gossip, scheming and ignorance. Those days , every young boy would be nicknamed as ‘ Tuvaan Bacha’ . Girls would be nicknamed Zingaari and Singaari and many times police had to be called near women's college Maulana Azad road as boys from S P College would come to the gate at closing hours and cry;

‘ Hataai  Zingaari ! Hataai Singaari !’

In kashmir , idlers and gossip mongers sitting on shops during those days were nicknamed ‘Sulla Gotta’ and ‘Rehman Dadda’ and idle day dreamers were satirically called as ‘Machaama Sahib’ .
Machaama’s character has tragic glimpses of unemployment and ignorance that prevailed in kashmiri society. Machaama always dreams to be adventurous and rich . Machaama , a dreamy entrepreneur who desires to fly air-crafts , travel to distant lands, meet different people and try his luck to become rich and well known. And this poor Machaama is equally burdened with social / family responsibilities. These responsibilities always trigger a negative momentum in his journey towards realization of his dreams .

Fed up with consumption of cheap green leafy Haak ( Collard greens ) in his native land , Machaama wants to relish chicken , mutton Wazwaan, Seeka Tujji ( fire roasted mutton pieces ), Kebabs and Pilaf in his dreamy sojourns . And a cigarette is the first thing that he demands during this dream journey.

And then Machaama wants to do something so that his name is written in golden pages of history . In his dreams , Machaama becomes a pilot , a hero, a leader, a colonizer ( colony for Djinns ) , a trader, a mechanic, a traveler , a sailor, a singer ,an orator and a king maker . He desires to unfold secrets of treasures hidden at untraveled places . After assuming power in dreams , he orders his wife Khadiji to be made a minister of social welfare . I tend to believe that a Machaama lies hidden in all of us.

Machaama is a surname of kashmiris. Many Machaama families lived at Karapora khushki Rainawari in Srinagar city . Kuldeep Machaama is my close friend from Machaama family of Rainawari and one day his father informed me as under :

‘ Machaama is a kashmiri surname . You can see pandit and muslim Machamas .It means sweetened rice .Pushker Bhan made us popular though many persons  started making fun of our surname. Bhan sahib later spoke in an interview that Machaama came to his mind just for the fun of the word . He never knew that it was a surname with some kashmiri families . ’

In kashmir we had a renowned saint Ahmed Sahib Machaama who’s Ziyarat is located at Hawal near Firdaus cinema or Shribhat Kocha . He was a sufi poet and a great believer of peaceful coexistence. He was murshid to many Sufi poets of his time including Wahaab Khaar and Prakash Ram.

Ahmed sahib Machaama is credited with bringing the Sirhindi  silsila of sufiism to Kashmir valley once he returned from Punjab.

In Hebrew lexicon ,Machama’ah means something that is ‘curd-like ’. It also means words of flattery.

( Avtar Mota )

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Sunday, January 28, 2018


               ( Lata ji And Javed Akhtar )
 .            (Sahir reading a poem )

 (Actor Amitabh And Rekha in Silsilay)


 Javed Akhtar Informs  :

“  I knew Yash ji very well.  I was in his team as  script writer. I had already written DEEWAR , TRISHUL and KALA PATHAR  and sahir sahib had written some memorable songs for all the three films. When yash ji decided about SILSILA  Project , He went to Lata ji and sought her advice for some better lyricist as Sahir Sahib was no more around. Lata ji suggested my name . She had informed  Yash ji that her friend * *Padma,  who was a poet , had liked my poems and Gazals. I used to write poems and Gazals but nothing was published . Not many people knew about my poetry in the Industry.

 Yash ji knew Urdu . He had a deep understanding of poetic nuances . He  had heard some poems  that I had written  . He never asked me for a song  till Sahir sahib was alive. For  All of us also,  sahir sahib was the   tallest  name  and a very  successful  lyricist in Hindi Cinema.  He commanded respect and had a price. With Yash ji , I kept a low profile about my poetry and focused on Script writing.

And Finally one day ,  yash ji asked me to write songs for Silsila ., Surprised ,  I declined the offer at once . I tried to put one reason or the other and thought that he shall get annoyed and find out some other poet.  But all that made him   adamant . At that time I never knew that Lata ji was behind my name .I never knew that Lata Ji had told him that I could only  write what Yash ji had in mind. Driven to wall from all sides by yash ji’s adamancy  , I decided to write. That is how Javed Akhtar became a Lyricist and wrote his first Film song ……… “ DEKHA EK KHWAAB  TO YEH SILSILAY HUVAY ”



( Autar Mota )

* Padma is well known Dogri poet and Writer Padma Sachdev.

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Friday, January 26, 2018


                                  REPUBLIC DAY GREETINGS                                     

I wrote my prayer..

Teri Nadiyon se Amrit barastaa Rahe,
Teray kheton se miltaa Rahe Sab ko Ann
Tujh pe mushkil kabhi bhi na Aaye koyii
Teray baagon mein ho Rang o Boo ka chalan
...Zindabaad Aey wattan

Mausamon ki Mehar Har Gadi ho yahaan
Meharbaan ho Havaaon ka bhi Baankpan
Mast Lehron ka sangeet Bajtaa Rahe
Saahilon pe teray Chhan-Chhana-Chhan-Chhanan
.....................Zindabaad Aey Wattan.

Jhoomti Gaati khushiyaan Milein Har taraf
Teray Ghar hon ya Bazaar ya teray ban
Phool khiltay Rahein log miltay Rahein
Ho Mohabbat Murawat ka Har su chalan..
..........Zindabaad Aey Wattan

kaam Miltay Rahein Choolhe Jaltay Rahein
Har Taraf Noor hi Noor ilam aur Fun
khatam Nafrat adaavat ka ho silsila
Jo Sukhan ho to ho Pyaar ka hi Sukhan
.......Zindabaad Aey Wattan.

Aey Himaala Teri Sarparasti Rahay
Ta Abad Hon Suhaagan ye Gang o jaman
Sookhi Dharti ko Pyaason Ko Miltaa rahay
Teri Jheelon ka Aur Aabshaaron Ka Dhan
...............Zindabaad Aey Wattan

(Autar Mota)

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Thursday, January 25, 2018






    Before  Arabs brought Islam to Central Asia , Buddhism had flourished there for hundreds of years. .  It is very pertinent to mention that The Battle of Talas (  751 A Dbetween the Abbasid Caliphate and the Chinese Tang dynasty for control of Central Asia was the turning point initiating process of  conversion into Islam in the region. Most of the Turkic khanates were converted to Islam in the 10th century.  And  In Indian  Sanskrit Texts , TURUSHKA   is a word used to refer  to a person of  Central  Asian/  Turkish origin. It was also used for  people of Turkistan.

Romila Thapar in her book “ The  Early India “ writes :

“ Kashmir had come into prominence with King lalitaditya of karkota Dynasty in eighth century AD, And through gradual  expansion and conquest, It had come to control a part of North western India and the Punjab……… It continued to have close relations with Gandhara .The Shahya ( Sahi  )  Dynasty ruled in the north west , acting as a bridge to Central Asia  and to the Turks ( Known as Turushkas in Indian Texts ). Familiarity with Turks goes back to earlier times when Turkish mercenaries found employment  in the Armies of Kashmir ……… The Arabs were referred to in Sanskrit inscriptions as Tajiks and differentiated from the Turks who were called Turushka, a term used for people from central Asia. Yavana, the term originally applied to the Greeks, was extended to mean those coming from the west and was used in this sense until recent times.”

I hold a belief that present day Tantrays ( Tantrins in Rajataringani ) and Magrays ( Margpatis in Rajataringini ) of kashmir could be people of Turushka or Turkish origin. These people were employed as soldiers by kashmiriain kings . Some historians have referred to them as men of Hilly Rajput tribe . Somewhat Similar is my belief with regard to lones ( Surname Lone ) of kashmir. Kalhana makes frequent mention of Lavanyas as a tribe in kashmir who were mostly used as infantry soldiers . Some Kashmirian kings used them in their fights against the DARADS . The Lavanyas were settled by kashmirian kings in areas close to land of DARADS . That is why we find people with Lone as their surname mostly residing in Kupwara , Handwara and Baramula districts of Kashmir . I quote Kalhana

“ Having discovered a loophole amongst DARDS , he incited the king to take possession of the Fort called Dughdaghata with the support of Lavanyas of LOHARA ”

Taranga 7 Verse 1171 Kalhana’s Rajatarangini Translated by R S Pandit .

Can't say conclusively as there is nothing more to fall back upon.

Subrashis Adhikari in his Book “ The Journey of survivors” writes :

"Laitaditya defeated  the dwellers of upper Oxus   and the powerful Turks  and became the last Indian King to control central Asia . The day of his Victory against Turks was celebrated annually in Kashmir . lalitaditya refrained from forcing his faith or culture upon people he conquered . He made a wise Turk  named CANKUNA as his minister . From many Chinese Books , we come to know that the King of kashmir shared healthy relations with Turks despite his victory .”

Jonaraja in his Rajtarangini writes :

  Of the tree of Misgovernment ( which was now planted )  *Harshdeva  the Turushka was the seedling , sinful was the root and terrible devastation caused by the Lavanyas were the branches .” *  Harsha, also Harshadeva, (ruled 1089-1111 AD) was a king of Kashmir.

And the Sahi / Shahya Hindu kings  of Gandhara  are referred to as  Men of Turkish Origin   in many Arab  Conquest Literature . Since these Sahis claimed Kushana Ancestry  ,  they could be seen as representing a certain historical continuity linked to central Asia. In  Rājataraṃgiṇī,  kalhana makes mention of  three Kushan king named Hushka, Jushka and Kanishka as  with  Turkic Turushka ancestry . 

I quote Verse 170 Taranga 1  from Kalhana’s  Rajataringani :

“ These three Kings ( Hushka , Jushka and kanishka ) , Albeit belonging to Turushka race , found refuge in acts of piety . They constructed in Suskletra and other places Monastries n, Caityas and similar edifices “

The Turkish Sāhi / Shahya dynasty continued up to the late 9th century, when it was replaced by Brahman dynasty of the same title that rules till early years of 11th century . Names of apparent Turkish origin, such as Toramāna, survived even among these Hindu 'Shāhi' king.  Some historians claim  that Hunas were  from a different Turkic branch. Their leader Mihirkula established his base in Kashmir and majority of the Kashmiris are of Hepthalite origin.  Some Historians inform us that  Rajputs and Gujjars  of India are of  Turkish origin. And  Dr javed Rahi  a  scholar of Gojri  language   has also written a Book linking Gujjars to ancient  Tukish tribes.  Turushka features are represented in  Terra Cotta Tiles  recovered in Kashmir ( Reference Ancient Monuments of Kashmir R C kak  )

Presence of Turkish people in Kashmir is also corroborated by many other  Text . Kalhana  makes  clear mention of Cankuna as a Minister of lalitaditya . And Cankuna was a Turushka ( Turk ) from Central Asia . 

And brother in law of Cankuna was also employed King Lalitaditya. I quote relevant verse from Kalhana's Rajtarangini (Translated by R S Pandit  Tauranga IV  verse 216 page 138):

" The physician named Isanacandra , brother in law of Cankuna , founded a Vihara having acquired a fortune through the favour Taksaka."

We also have historical evidence  with regard to Turkish Presence close to Kashmir . Karlugh Turks  from Central Asia ruled Hazara and also  settled in many places in what is now known as POK. Turks continued their rule in the areas between Sherwan and Mangal till the arrival of the Sikhs in 1817–18. 

There is some commonality of Turkish and kashmiri Cuisine  and so are the spices . Paprika (Red Chillies powder ) , Pudeena ( Mint ), Yeni –Bahaar ( Something like kashmiri vaer or Masala Tikki  or all spice powder ), Daalcheeni ( Cinnamon ), Zeera ( Cumin seeds ) , Aniseed ( saunf )and many other spices are common to kashmiri and Turkish cuisine. I found   Goat Stomach and Turnip ( Gogji ta Daemini  In kashmiri ) a common dish of Turks and kashmiris   . Turkish people and kashmiris  have almost common  Colour of skin and facial features especially nose and colour of eyes  . Hamam widely used in Kashmir has Turkish  origin.

In Music Saaz, Tambourine ( Tumbaknaar In kashmiri ), Ney ( Naai in kashmiri), Santur ( Santoor in kashmiri ), Kamancheh , Nadaada  and   Bendir ( A version of Dafli ) are common musical instruments of Turks and kashmiris . Turkish classical music also has  Maqaams as basic guide to compositional structure . Apricots , Grapes , Pomegranates, Green Plums  (  Gordoal in kashmiri  and Erik in Turkish ), water melons and cherries are  popular with kashmiris and Turks.

Are kashmiri Pandits with TURKI as their Surname of central  Asian origin  Can’t say anything on this subject  with authenticity   . Whatever be the truth , People with Turki as their surname  are a part of mainstream kashmiri Pandit ( Sarswat Brahmin ) society  presently . 


Sometime back ,   Shri Surrinder Turki  informed me that  he  belonged to a family of Turkis living in karan Nagar. He   sent a mail  to me   saying that he happens to be a direct descendant Of Pandit Taba Ram Turki. He has also confirmed that his ancestors resided in Rainawari where from they moved out long back.

Coming to Pandit Taba Ram Turki , I need to add that this  learned Pandit was a Persian poet of exceptional quality . His poetry reached as far as Central Asia  .Nabi Hadi's book titled "Dictionary of Indo-Persian literature"  Published in 1995 , specifically mentions   his  name   at page 134.  A galaxy of Persian scholars are included in this book .Another Book Published by Beta Script Publishing  Titled “ PANDIT TABA RAM TURKI …ISBN 978-613-2-48456-7 “ deals exclusively with Persian poetry of Taba Ram Turki.  

 Ronald Cohn and Jesse Russel  have jointly  edited an 84 page  paperback book on   life and works Pandit Taba Ram Turki published in 2013. This book, Published in English  under ISBN - 10:5512054953 and ISBN - 13:9785512054956 is sold  for  US $27.95.

Pandit Taba Ram  Turki Wrote   under the pen name 'Betab '. It was a practice among kashmiri Pandits to use Sun ( Aftab Ram  or Aftab joo ) , Moon ( Zoona Ded  or  Zoona Maal ) and  stars ( Tarakh Kak  or Tarakh Joo ) as names .Taba is a short cut for Aftab meaning sun , Luminous and source of Natural  light.

Just across Jogi lanker bridge in Rainwari there used to be a cluster of Turkis . They lived close to the old house of Pandit Sham lal Saraf ( Minister in the first cabinet of sheikh Mohd Abdullah ) .  Many Turkis moved out to live in other areas of srinagar city . A family moved to Punjab  much before 1947 in search of employment . Three or four  families of Turkis  continued to live in this area till  January 1990. I happened to know the families of Pandit Amar Nath Turki and  Shri Makhan  Lal Turki   .  Pandit Taba Ram belonged to this  Turki Clan of Jogi Lanker  Rainawari  .    I also had a friend  cum school mate from this family  .  And Turkis from Rainawari , whom I knew , were ignorant of their glorious ancestor Pandit Taba Ram Turki “ Betab “. 

 Pandit Taba Ram wrote Masnavis ( Long Epic Poems with Historical or philosophical themes ) I am informed that his Masanavis were prescribed in Post Graduation studies in University of Tehran. He was a  Persian  scholar  who could  also read and write Arabic.   It is believed that he was a student of Pandit Daya Ram Kachru (1743 A.D. to 1811 A.D.)  another Arabic and Persian scholar from kashmir .  So was he   very close to Pandit Birbal Kachru (1789 - 1859 A.D.)  Persian Scholar ,Historian, Poet  and writer who wrote   voluminous history of Kashmir In Persian .

Persian language  attained the status of official language during the Mughal  rule ( 1586-1753 ) in Kashmir. This status was  retained the during the Afghan rule  (1753-1819)  . This being so  many kashmiri writers and scholars turned towards  Persian language and wrote / produced number of books on   history,  literature  and  poetry .  Though Ghani kashmiri remains  the  tallest and most popular Persian poet to this day  in Persian Literature   yet   no less is  the contribution of    Pandit Taba Ram Turki  to Persian literature. His contribution  has brought  forth  noteworthy remarks  from competent critics that in the mastery of the Persian language , Pandit Taba Ram and some Kashmiri Pandits were second only to the Persians.  

J.K. Banerji in his book  “ Encyclopaedia of Kashmir” chapter 16  (  From the Cultural past to the  Front ) writes :

"Outstanding among the Hindu Pandits who made important contributions to Persian poetry may be mentioned the name of Pandit Taba Ram Turki "Betab" whose Jang Nama reached classic heights."

Noted  historian and author Gwasha Lal Kaul  Chapter 17 ( Cultural Heritage ) from the  book “Encyclopaedia of Kashmir” writes:

 "Jangnama by Taba Ram Turki stands on the same footing as Shahnama of Firdausi".

Pandit taba Ram  was a Personal friend of Mulla Mohd Taufiq  (  Author Shahnama e Kashmir  In Persian ). Mullah  Muhammad  Taufiq  belonged  to the  family  of  Judoha,  and  resided  in  the  vicinity  of  Jamia  Masjid,  Srinagar .He was a  pupil  of  Mullah  Sati,  and  became  a  well  known poet of his time.  Taufiq is regarded by some as next only to Ghani.  He   occupied  the foremost  position  among  the  poets  of  the  day.    In  addition  to  his  Diwan,  he  has  written  treatise titled Shaibt, Sarufa, Bahi i  lavil. 

Poet , Writer and  Scientists  Ayaz Rasool Nazki adds :

 "After his education, Tba Ram Turki  was appointed a 'kardar' and spent most of his service career at village Breng in Anantnag area. He was a frequent visitor to the darbar of Pt Raj Kak Dhar who was himself a gifted poet and wrote under takhalus 'farukh'.

On one occasion someone recited Mulla Tawfeeqs sher ....which was applauded by all . Raj Kak threw a challenge ...can anyone compose a better verse in same meter etc....Betab took the challenge and produced a master piece...he had put a condition that he will be suitably rewarded....Rajkak ordered his men to deliver 100 kharwars of paddy at Betabs residence.

Tawfeeq sher is.....

"shikasta rangiye man ba tabeeb dar jung ast 
ilaje darde saram husne sandali rang ast"

Betab sher is ......

"siyah bakhtam wa az bakhte khaesh khursandam
chara ki bakhte man wa zulfe yar hum rang ast "
( Unquote )

 Mulla Taufiq and Taba Ram would share ideas and poems by  seeing each other or through exchange of letters  . He was a witness to defeat of Afghans and arrival of sikh forces of Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Lahore . Defeat of Azim khan  the Afghan governor  in the battle at shopian kashmir has been versified by him in his “Jangnama “.  Betab  also composed “ Ranjit Nama “and “Akbar Nama” . Akbar Nama relates to  Wazir Akbar khan or Amir Akbar khan ( 1816-1845 ) a Pashto speaking  Afghan prince. He was a  general and finally Emir for about three years until his death. Apart from a valiant fighter , he was a lover of fine Arts . Wazir Akbar Khan led the  revolt in Kabul against the British  forces  of William McNaughten, Alexander Burnes and  Major-General William Elphinstone . 

Pandit Taba Ram was  was also summoned by Akbar Khan  to Kabul and honoured  for his skill as Persian Poet .  He also visited Lahore and was honoured by Maharaja Ranjit singh in his Darbar where he also met the  Powerful and influential  Raja Dina Nath a kashmiri Pandit and Finance Minister of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. 
In 1861, 14 years after  his death,  a comprehensive   Diwan of poems of Pandit Taba Ram Turki   was published .


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