Sunday, April 29, 2018




After completcng his LLB, he was supposed to join Bar and establish himself as an Advocate ;  But Contrary  to that, he gave a surprise /  shock  to his family and  conservative  Kashmiri Pandit Society ( at that point of time)  when he decided to opt music and singing as his career.During those days, it  was something like  a rebellious  act for his  middle class family.

I am informed by many elders that he not only composed tune for the song'

"Lehra aye kashmir key jhanday,
 Hal walay dilgeer key jhanday,
 Har dam Lehra,
Har  soo Lehra,
 Taba Kayaamat paiham Lehra "

(Flutter high O  Flag of kashmir ,
With the plough' s. sign,
Flutter  O dearest Flag,
Ever moment,
In every direction,
Keep fluttering,
 Till the day of the  judgment."

 But also led a group of boys  that sang this song when Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and Sheikh Mohd Abdullah addressed a huge gathering at  Palladium cinema lal  chowk   Srinagar in November 1947 . This song was written by Maulana Masoodi a close associate of Sheikh Mohd Abdullah during those days.

He scored music for first full length kashmiri feature film MAENZRAAT.He scored music for Nadim sahib's opera '  Bombur Ta Yemberzal' that was widely appreciated and shown to Russian dignitaries Nikita Khruschev and Nikolai Bulganin. It was  performed on 05th Nov 1955 at Nedou’s Hotel Srinagar  by a galaxy of kashmiri Artists and singers led by late Mohan lal Aima . MARSHAL Bulganin was reportedly seen foot tapping when the artists sang the Bomburo Bomburo.

His  tune for Nadim Sahib's composition" Bomburo Bumburo Shaam Rang Bomburo " became popular in the entire length and breadth of the country after it was used in a Bollywood movie.

He scored music for Ezra Mir's 1953  film  ..Lotus of Kashmir(Pamposh).It was produced by Ambalal J. Patel.

 He was also commissioned by Muzaffar Ali as a music consultant cum Co composer  for his aborted high profile film ZOONI ( Story based on the life of Habba Khatoon ) . The music of the international version was to be done by Oscar winner Japanese composer, Riyuchi Sakamoto, while  music for all the songs in Kashmiri was to be scored  by Mohan Lal Aima. And the renowned fashion designer, Mary McFadden of New York  had been engaged to  design the costumes of the film.Muzaffar Ali had to put  his project on hold  due to widepread militancy in kashmir. The  shooting of this high profile movie with Dimple Kapadia and Vinod Khanna in lead roles had been started during the summer of   1989.

About Mohan Lal Aima , Muzaffar Ali says:

" He provided a great help and  support for the project. From him, i heard some of the finest tunes and indigenous music of the valley."

As head of music section Radio Kashmir Srinagar (1949-1964),  he is responsible for creating innumerable  popular songs based on kashmiri folk using only  kashmiri instruments . As singer, his soulful Naat 'Ya Nabi Gosh Fariyaadan Thaav' or ' My Prophet , Listen My Prayers' moistens eyes of every listener . This Naat immortalised him .
Though he could play any traditional kashmiri instrument with perfection, it was a real treat to see him playing the Traditional Nott (Matka) and Tumbhaknaari. He would dazzle his audience with a unique make, twist  and turn  of Pitch and tempo; a speciality that remains unsurpassed to this day.

He  was a pillar of the Cultural rennaissance in kashmir that had started taking shape in early forties of the last century.
Generations of kashmiris shall remain indebted to him for what he contributed to kashmiri Music.And  a generation of Singers and Musicians was taught and trained by him.

He was the first musician to  experiment orchestrization of kashmiri traditional music instruments creating what came to be known as "SAAZINA" . Saazina had  so many Rabaabs , Tumbakhnaris,  Sarangis, Matkaas( Nott) and Santoors to play popular folk tunes in one go on stage guided by the main Cobductor. Something like Zubin Mehta's Orchestra.

In 2009, when I met kashmiri melody queen  Raj Begum sahiba, just mention of Aima sahib's name brought tears in her eyes. Wiping them , she told me:
" Swargus munz assinuss jaai. Me chha sakh khaaer Aima saebun"
" May he be happy in Swarga. I am Indebted to him for his  help. "

And when I touched Aima sahib's name , kashmiri singer Gh Qadir langoo  hugged me saying:

" Tche ma chhukh  Aima saebun rishtedaar. Teli Roz raata assi nishi"
" Are you related to Aima sahib ? If yes, Then Stay for a night as my guest."

Mohan Lal Aima gained immense popularity in Kabul during the period he was on deputation to Radio Afghanistan  as its Director General .

Alas! He stands forgotten in his dear  kashmir.

 No reward, No award and No recognition from any
Is it not   incumbent upon every kashmiri to introduce him and his contribution to our younger generation ?

Peace be to his Soul..

(Avtar Mota)

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Friday, April 27, 2018




I love Listening to  kashmiri Sufiana music  from Santoor master and sufiana singer Ustaad Ghulam Mohd Saaznawaaz .

My favourite ..

Khosh chhuyii zind  thhaav
Khosh chhuyii Maar
Doan kathhun myaanein
Tchei kunn daar

Awaara karthhuss....
Bozoo myaan zaar.....
Zaaraai Paar
Awaara karthhuss...

I would put it in english like this....

("Should it please you, then Let me live.
Should it please you,then let me die.
My submissions,
Just in two words,

' Undone,
I roam aimlessly.'

Listen my woes,
My submissions ,
I roam  aimlessly...)

What a pathos this master  has put into these words with his touching  vocal style accompanied by  soft santoor notes ?

Saaznawaaz was taught by his father Ustad Ramzan joo and his Uncle Ustad Sidiq joo.

Shri Ghulam Mohd Saaznawaaz received  the prestigious  Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for his contribution to Sufiana music of Kashmir.
 Ustaad was a resident of Daanmazaar safakadal  in  downtown srinagar city. He belonged to illustrious family of Sufiyana musicians of kashmir.

Saaznawaaz was honored as “Man of the year 2001” by American biographical institute (ABI).Shabir Ahmed Saaznawaaz and Mushtaq Ahmed Saaznawaaz , sons of the Maestro are also engaged in carrying forward the rich legacy of their father.

A documentary film on the  life and works of the Maestro has been telecast nationally by the Doordarshan.

Ustaad left for his heavenly abode in 2014.

(Autar Mota)

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018


                                                    ( The Listeners )
                                                               ( The Gathering )

                                       ( Dr K L Pandita  ( Right )with M L Saraf )
                                             ( Dr K N Pandita ( Left ) With Prof R L Shant )



( Rumi )

(Like Green Turf  , we keep coming Again and Again )

When some Jammu based   Social / Cultural Organizations decided to Honour Dr K N Pandita on 15.04.2018 , Sh Ramesh Hangloo from Radio Sharda, Shri I B Zutshi Convener PAAN-NYAAR and Shri Narinder Safaya Convener Dialogue also joined . My thanks to all the organizations for inviting me .

Dr K N Pandita Former Director Department of Central Asian Studies , University of Kashmir needs no Introduction. He is a post-graduate in Persian from Punjab University and Ph.D. in Iranian / Central Asian Studies from Teheran University . He is Author of many books and innumerable papers . Awarded Padamshri recently for his academic attainments, Dr. Pandita is a widely travelled man.
He has closely worked with so many scholars from Central Asia more specifically from Tajikistan.
His travelogue titled "My Tajik Friends" earned him the coveted Soviet land Nehru Award 1987.He has also been awarded Padamshgri by Govt of  India for his academics attainments.

Some prominent works of Dr. Pandita are:

1. Baharistan-i-Shahi, A Chronicle of Mediaeval Kashmir (translated from Farsi)
2. Avicenna – An Introduction
3. Iran and Central Asia
4. Ladakh, life and culture (edited)
5. Hafiz of Shiraz (Urdu)
6. Tohfatul Ahbab, ( English translation of a 17th century history of Kashmir .)

His conceptual clarity and Knowledge of Persian, Tajik and some other foreign languages is amazing. It was a treat to listen to so many things including troubled history of Kashmir from him. He was erudite, scholarly and brilliant when he spoke .

While giving a detailed account of his travels in Central Asia, Dr Pandita presented some beautiful anecdotes relating to his stay in Iran, Brussels , Germany , Geneva , Uzbekistan , Tajkistan and other member Republics of erstwhile USSR .

Speaking about the Sun worship culture In ancient Iran and Central Asia , He said ;

“ In Tajik and Persian, Mithra means Sun. Tajik and Persian are closely connected languages and so is Pahalvi . Mithra is ancient Indo -Iranian god of the sun or light . From India and Iran, this sun worship cult spread to ancient Rome and Spain in west. In Pahalvi, Mehr means sun. That is why the Shah of Iran would be called as Arya- Mehr or sun of the Aryans. You have so many remains of ancient Sun-worship Places in Central Asia and some parts of Iran.”

At The end of his speech , I put him a straight question:

“ I have read that you were a favourite student of Renowned Iranian scholar Prof. Zabihollah Safa . Can you please elaborate something on this issue ?"

My question brought a smile on his face and he said:

“ When I went to Teheran for my doctorate , I was Lucky that Shri T N Kaul was our ambassador in Iran at that point of time. I met Shri Kaul and that simplified so many things for me .I was entrusted to Prof. Safa . I had heard his name . Never in my wild dreams could I imagine him to be my Teacher for more than two years . He was highly respected scholar world over at that time. The VC of Teheran university opened the door of his car as a mark of respect. He was very serious , talked very less and a man of one word : But when he spoke , he was like cool , attractive and delightful flowing Niagara fall . When I met him,
He asked me to do my doctorate in “ Islamic Tassavuf and poet Bedil “. Surprised at being awarded such a tough subject , I said ,
“ Sir , This is difficult . I have Not studied “Bedil” fully and Tassvuf means very tough assignment . “
He felt angry and said in a louder tone ,
“ What do you mean ? If you Indians will not do it then who shall do it ? You must know that the contribution of Indians in development of Persian Literature is more than the Persians . You have to do it. "

There was no choice left. I knew Bedil was an ocean with no banks .There is absolute unanimity in Iran and Central Asia that there has been no greater poet in Persian than Bedil.
I had to do the impossible . As time passed , Prof.Safa turned out to be the most Humane and helpful person. He arranged every help for me . He even extended my scholarship Tenure . He treated me like his own child. He was liberal in real sense of the term. He was an outstanding scholar of Iranian literature,Islamic history and culture. Prof. Safa was a dispassionate critic of so many subjects. His usual audience at Teheran University included ambassadors of Arab countries apart from European scholars. . He had written a series of Books ( 5 volumes ) on Iranian Culture and civilization . This series was treated as reference book by many Farsi scholars . Rumi was his favourite . He would write one line from Farsi couplet on Board and then discuss it for full day. He would break the line into words and then discuss etymology of each word and then trace the origin of the word in latin , German and Greek . Amazing Scholarship .Whatever I am , it is all due to Dr Safa .


                               (Dr Safa )
 I owe him everything. My Guru , My Teacher and my Guide in Life , learning and so many other fields. After the fall of Shah and the Islamic Revolution , he left Iran and moved to Germany . I always wanted to see him . Some years back, I was in Germany and went to see him and I got a shock of my life. He was bed ridden and had memory loss due to Alzheimer disease . So painful for me. The debt remained unpaid. What could be done .I have dedicated My Book Tahfatul Ahbab ( Translation from Persian to English) to him. "

( Autar Mota )

Mirza Abdul Qadir Bedil had Uzbek ancestry .His ancestors came to India and settled over here. He was a renowned Persian poet from Indian Subcontinent..He lies buried in Delhi.
Prof. Zabihollah Safa (1911 -1999 ) was a scholar and professor Emeritus of Iranian Studies at the University of Tehran.He was a man of clear thinking and profound scholarship. He wrote countless articles and authored several books apart from translating many books into Persian. His contribution to the field of Iranian studies and his seminal and comprehensive works on the history of Persian literature remains unmatched to this day. He was also a regular contributor to the Encyclopaedia Iranica. He was a master of several languages including french. He died as an Exile in Germany.
Avicenna was a Persian polymath who is held in high respect in Iran and Central Asia. He was one of the most significant physicians, astronomers, mathematicians, thinkers and writers from Islamic world. He was influenced by Greek philosophy , medicine and logic .He has influenced many scholars and medicine practitioners of Arab world that include Ibn Batuta and Al Biruni.He died in early 11th century.

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           ( Oil On Canvas  By Nisar Aziz )
                           ( Nisar Aziz )
NISAR AZIZ ( Nisar Aziz Beg )
Chinkral Mohalla Habba kadal ( Srinagar ) has produced two bright Artists . One being G R Santosh ( who rose to eminence on National Scene ) and another Nisar Aziz Beg popularly known as Nisar Aziz.
Though Nisar Aziz was a self taught man , Yet he contributed in his own way towards development of Modern Art Scenario of our state.
Nisar Sahib passed away recently ( Feb 2018 ) in USA . I believe many people have not heard his name . Media too left him unnoticed . Not much came up on his death in News Papers .
Padamshri Pran Kishore kaul Informed me :
“History of Modern Art In Kashmir is incomplete if we don’t make mention of NIsar Aziz and Ghulam Mohd Shad .They have also contributed in their own way . They were part of the carwaan that emerged post 1947 on the horizon of Art in kashmir valley. Nisar was a neighbour of G R Santosh . He learnt by observation alone . He would visit drawing Masters or Artists during his youth to learn and pick up basics . He would observe , watch and then try himself.”

Prof .Arvind Gigoo Informed me:

“ He would come to our house frequently . I remember my Grandmother had a special love for him. Whenever she cooked fish , She would first set aside two pieces for Nisar Aziz. He would come to learn Art from my uncle Dwarka Nath Gigoo . My Uncle was a poet, artist and a musician . So many people from the field of Art , Literature and music would come to him. Nisar Aziz was like a family member for us. He probably would also go to D N Wali to learn. My uncle had a special affection for Nisar as he was soft spoken , gentle and highly obedient . He was very serious towards learning. In fact we had one huge painting of Nisar Aziz that he had gifted to us and that was prominently hung in the corridor . Alas ! we lost that in the turmoil.
My uncle was a university teacher but later he moved to Gandhi College. Those were the days when appointments could be made on the basis of talent alone and not Certificates  And he had not to offer as he  a was not a matriculate .My uncle requested Pandit Shiv Narain Fotedar ( Secretary or president of the Managing committee ) and got him appointed as Art Instructor in Gandhi Memorial college . He was required to assist B.Ed. students in preparation of Charts and Models . Looking at his Talent in Drawing and ignoring his requisite Educational qualifications, Shiv Narain Fotedar sanctioned him a Professor’s pay . That was certainly something unusual .Since that day he came to be known as Professor Nisar Aziz. He was a thorough gentleman and a humble person . He was also connected with some local Drama club / Theatre . I don't remember. He once told me about his plans to go to Bombay for exhibiting his work at Jahangir Art Gallery. I am not sure if he visited Bombay later."

Shri Bansi Raina informs :

" Nisar Aziz  was a close friend of mine and a member of my theatre club Rangmanch.We have attended idd lunches at his house so many times that i do not have a count.Nisar worked in Field survey Organisation once along with Lassa Koul of DD... Akhtar Mohiddidin..Mohan Charagi and others .He was a self taught painter and we attended his exhibition in Bombay in early eighties.I did not know he had passed away. His house at Chinkral Mohalla Srinagar  was in the vicinity of  G R Santosh's house.MK Swaminetri and  Theatre Personality ML Saraf were also his neighbours."

Nisar Aziz held many solo Exhibitions in srinagar . One such Exhibition held inside Hotel Broadway was inaugurated by Sheikh Mohd Abdullah . He also held an Exhibition  of his paintings at Lalit kala Academy New Delhi.

He passed away in California on 12the Feb 2018. He was living with his son in USA.

Peace be to his soul.
( Autar Mota )

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Friday, April 13, 2018


                                    (sardar Patel painted by som Nath khosa)


                                                ( GANDHI JI  BY SOM NATH KHOSA )

 SOM NATH  KHOSA ( 1912-1983)

Som Nath khosa was a Lahore based kashmiri speaking Commercial Artist who had come to valley to collect material for writing a book during the troublesome period of partition of the country. This assignment was entrusted to him by the then Punjab University Lahore. His studio cum house was looted and burnt by rioters when he was in Srinagar. He stayed in kashmir for a few years and moved to Delhi permanently in 1950. He belonged to  Syed Ali Akbar locality of srinagar city   and had studied Art  at Sir Amar Singh Technical Institute Srinagar where his teachers included F H Andrews and J C Mukerjee . After completing his course , he went to Lahore sometime  In Kashmir, He got associated with Cultural Congress and headed its Art desk. He was senior to all artists that were visible on the scene at that time. When Gandhi ji died , he prepared a massive portrait of Mahatma that was displayed near Palladium cinema in Lal chowk.The  portrait was drawn by him  hurriedly at night under candle light as the power supply from Mohra power house had not been restored to srinagar city. The power house was damaged by Tribal raiders in October 1947.  Palladium chowk was the centre of all political and cultural activities during those days. Crowds came to pay homage to Gandhi ji at that Chowk . He also did a huge painting depicting Sheikh Mohd Abdullah riding a horse and arriving to dispel pain and suffering.

  Som Nath Khosa learnt the technique of realistic  oil painting  from some European painters settled in Lahore..For about 25 years, he continued to paint Gandhi ji and events associated with Mahatama .

Prior to 1947, Som Nath Khosa was a successful commercial Artist of Lahore where he was earning good money by painting huge Cinema banners . Staying in kashmir for about 3 or 4 years, khosa finally moved to Delhi . He is best known for drawing portraits of Gandhi ji and other National leaders and most of his work is on display in Institutions connected with Mahatama either in India or abroad.He was highly impressed by Gandhi ji as a person as also with his mission.

  Som Nath Khosa was a close friend of Bakshi Ghulam Mohd  .He was  equally  inspired by poetry of Master Zinda kaul  whom he happened to know very closely . A highly respected Artist , khosa. Passed on his Artistic legacy to his Brilliant son Kashmiri khosa. 

..Kashmiri khosa lives in Delhi and is an artist of National stature .

(Autar Mota)


For inputs .My special thanks to Padamshri Pran Kishore Kaul. Padamshri Pran Kiahore Kaul is a store house of knowledge relating to development of Music, Art , Theatre and Drama in kashmir post 1947. Any story about Development of Drama ,Theatre and Progressive Writers movement in kashmir is incomplete if it does not make clear mention of his contribution.

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Monday, April 9, 2018



A brain hemorrhage on 8th February 1973 paralysed kaifi sahib. It rendered his left hand and left leg incapacitated for life. He did not give up. Sometime around 1993 , Leaving the comforts of Mumbai , He decided to move to his native village Mijwan in Azamgarh Eastern UP. It was an unknown village with no development or even roads . Mijwan is now known because of Kaifi sahib’s untiring efforts to uplift the village. He set up an NGO for the Development of the village with focus on empowerment of women and girl child ,

Shabana Azmi Informs us :

" Mijwan Welfare Society (MWS) is an NGO founded by my father in 1993 that works for the empowerment of villagers in a small village, Mijwan in Azamgarh UP where he was born. My father believed that India's remarkable economic progress can only be meaningful if it reaches out to rural India, where 80 percent of the population lives but is denied access to opportunity.

After he passed away on 10th May 2002, I have, along with my godchild Namrata Goyal, taken on the task of carrying my father's dream forward by steering MWS which runs:

Kaifi Azmi High School for girls
Kaifi Azmi Inter College for girls
Kaifi Azmi Computer Training Center
Kaifi Azmi Sewing and Tailoring Center

Last year, Our NGO constructed a bridge over river Kunwar in Mijwan to connect about 40 villages

.Mijwan is so small – with a population of just 540 people – they didn’t know what a pressure cooker was . Then Kaifi saheb came , The first thing he thought of was providing education to the children here and that’s how the school came up. My mother Shaukat, she used to sit around with the women of the village and ask them their problems. And then they would perform skits to educate the people. That’s how slowly she conditioned their minds to send their children to school. Later on, when the sewing school came up, I literally went from house to house to ask people to send their daughters-in-law to learn sewing and embroidery. And when they started getting money in return, others followed suit. So in a way it’s funny to see how money changes perceptions. The women are also happy because their position in the families has changed so much. They are treated at par with their brothers and husbands. And for me, it’s heartening to see that.

Kaifi Azmi established a Computer Training Centre, inaugurated by H.E. Suraj Bhan, the then Governor of Uttar Pradesh, and Member of Parliament Amar Singh who had contributed to the centre through his MPLAD funds.

We are affiliated with NCPUL (M/o Human Resource Development Govt. of India) & DOEACC Society, Chandigarh (An autonomous body of Dept. of Information & Technology, M/o Communication & Information Technology, Govt. of India) and are conducting courses like CABA MDTP and CCC for both, girls and boys."

About his Brain Hemorrhage , Kaifi sahib wrote in his poem "Zindagi"..

“Phat gayi nas koyee shiryanon mein ḳhuun jam sa gaya
Ho Gaya zaḳhmi dimaaġh
Aisa lagta tha ki bujh jaayega jalta hai jo sadiyon se chiraaġh
Aaj Andhera Meri nas nas mein utar jaayega
ye samundar jo badi der se tufaani tha
aissa tadpa ki meray kamre ke andhar Aaya
Aatay aatay vo meray vastay amrit laaya
Aur lehra ke kaha
shiv ne ye bhejvaaya hai lo piyo aur
Aaj shiv ilm hai Amrit hai amal
ab vo asaan hai jo dushvaar tha kal
Raat jo maut ka paiġhaam liye aati thi
Beevi bachchon ne meray
us ko khidki se paray pheink diyaa
Aur jo vo zahr ka ik jaam liye aati thi
us ne vo ḳhud hi piyaa
subah utri jo samandar mein nahaane ke liye
Raat ki laash mili paani mein......”

( Autar Mota )


Kaifi sahib is the only poet who has used a shloka on ""Agni " from Rigveda in his poem Zindagi.i quote..

'Agni Mata meri agni Mata

sookhi lakdi ke ye bhari kunde

jo teri bhent ko Le Aaya huun

un ko sweekar kar aur aise dhadhak

ki machalte sholay kheench lein josh mein

suraj ki sunehri zulfein

aag mein aag mile

jo amar kar de mujhe

aissa koyi raag mile''

He also narrates Siddhartha's ( Buddha 's) renunciation of the world in this poem.

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