Monday, August 19, 2019

Saturday, August 3, 2019



                                  ( Reasi Fort outer view . crumbling from within .)

                                             ( Basholi  Fort  extinct ))
                    ( Dharnidhar Fort Rajouri Almost extinct )
                                                     ( Hiranagar Fort  Crumbling )
                                                              ( Jasrota Fort facing extinction  )
                                 ( Kaleeth Fort Facing extinction )

                                               ( Mohargarh Fort Crumbling )

                                                             ( Samba Fort Crumbling )
                                                       ( Laddan Fort Udhampur )


‌History of Jammu is written in so crumbling structures left totally unattended to the vagaries of the nature. Due to neglect, so many structures have faced extinction. 

‌‌Forts are a special feature of Jammu's historical past. Mostly spread in the areas falling between river Ravi and Chenab , these forts are facing neglect and apathy from all quarters.. In this context, i need to mention that almost all historical forts that are either crumbling structures or are have become extinct. Just one or two surviving forts demand immediate repair, restoration and attention . These forts could be listed as under:

(1) Jasrota and Jasmergarh Forts near Kathua facing extinction.

(2) Lakhanpur Fort built by Jamwal Rajputs facing extinction.

(3) Ramnagar Fort needing restoration,repair and attention.

(4) Mastgarh Fort in Jammu city is extinct now .The Mosque in Mastgarh locality was actually inside the extinct fort.The mosque was built by Raja Gaje singh (1672-1707) for Khalil Khan an emissary sent by Aurangzeb .

(5) Ramgarh Fort about 20 kms from Jammu and close to Border. Almost extinct.

(6) Samba Fort crumbling structure .

(7) Mohargarh Fort about 11 kms from Samba on Mansar lake road near village Nadd crumbling .

(8) Sumrata Fort about 100 kms from Jammu built by Sumbaria Rajputs. Facing extinction .

(9) Basholi Fort in Basholi town facing extinction . The fort look like a heap of debris.

(10)Bhimgarh Fort in Reasi crumbling from inside.

(11) Bilawar Fort facing extinction.

(12) Bhaderwah Fort facing extinction .

(13) Bahu Fort in Jammu city needs , restoration, attention and repair.

(14) Mahanpur Fort near Thein facing extinction.

(15) Mankote Fort facing extinction .

(16) Kapoorgarh Fort near Nagrota facing extinction .

(17) Jaganoo Fort near Udhampur facing extinction.

(18) Salaal and Dhyangarh Forts in Reasi facing extinction.

(19) Kiramchi Fort built by Bhatiyal Rajputs facing extinction.

(20) Nanga Fort near Ramgarh Jammu now extinct.

(21) Devigarh Fort now extinct.

(22) Baddu Fort near Bilawar almost extinct now.

(23) Chenani Fort built by Chandel Rajputs now extinct.

(24) Thaloda Fort near Manwal facing extinction.

(25) Syedgarh Fort near Ramgarh now extinct.

(27) Akhnoor Fort needs repair, renovation and attention.

(28) Hiranagar Fort. facing extinction. 

(29) Poonch Fort almost extinct.

(30) Darhaal Fort almost extinct.

(31) Kaleeth Fort near Nowshera /Jaurian almost extinct.

(32) Laddan Fort. Udhampur almost extinct.

(33) Gajpat Fort Ramban crumbling due to neglect.

(34) Dharnidhar Fort Rajouri crumbling and facing extinction..

(35) Thein Fort (Near Lakhanpur) facing extinction.

  History of entire Jammu is linked to these forts that need attention . If some restoration is done, at least to some historically important forts , the enormous tourist potential of these places can be tapped. 

(Avtar Mota)

The gates of old walled city of jammu are nowhere to be seen now. I mean Jogi gate and Denis gate . The surviving Gumat gate is facing total neglect.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019


BENARAS   1944….

By…S H RAZA ( 1922-2018 )

Before coming to Kashmir , Syed  Haider  Raza stayed for some months in Benaras . Like artist Ram Kumar , he was also attracted by the spirituality of the ghats , crowds and Ganga  . He stayed  with  Sadhus  , lived  in  Dharmshalas and   sat on ghats observing and  painting . He was using water   colors  those days. This is a painting from that period. Water colors on paper
 In an interview , Raza has  said  :

"India is full of rich icons and symbols that have no parallel elsewhere. I use these icons in my work and I try to understand how they relate to each other. Consider the Purush-Prakriti symbols that are everywhere in our temple sculptures. Or the idea of the Kundalini, the source of energy. Or Pancha Tatava - the five elements that constitute Nature. . Starting in 1975, i started focusing on the Bindu. And that has been the central focus of my work in the years since. Bindu to me is about beginning, it is the seed from which the tree grows, it is the egg from which comes the child, it is to painting what Om is to meditation and music."

(Avtar Mota)

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To this photo , i add a brief anecdote  based on my  visit  to Mumbai in July 2014. 

In Dadar west ( Mumbai  ), I went to a shop to buy water  connecting pipe for an automatic  IFB  washing machine . I also asked  for services of  some plumber or technical person  who could fit the pipe to the Machine . Another customer  with a fair complexion , who had come to buy some  sockets  , suggested that I should   do the needful   myself as  it was very difficult to get a plumber for such minor issues  and then he would charge an amount that would be more than the cost of the pipe.  I said fine  and thanked the person. He then looked at me and said
“ Kashmiri  ho ? ”

" Haan ! Aap Ko Kaisay Pataa chalaa ? ”

“  Aap baar baar poochh rahay thhay ' mein lagaa saktaa huun? ' Aur aap Ke baat karne ke lehaje  se  bhi .  Kashmiri thhoday vehmi hotain hain. Mera naam Abdul  Qadir Kashmiri  hai . Mein Dadar mein rehtaa huun . Agar pipe fit na huyee to mujhe telephone karnaa mein plumber bheij doonga . Yeh mera card hai . Naye aaye ho ? Koyee pareshaani  to nahin ?”

“ Nahin ! Nahin ! Lekin ????? “ I now read the card .


“ Haan ! Haan ! Mere vaalid sahib bhi Kashmir  se thhay . Baramulla naam se koyee jagah hai . Mein to kabhi nahin gaya  lekin bahut shauq hai jaane ka. ”

“ To jaaiye na kabhi ? Aisi koyee baat nahin hai . ”

 We came out  of the shop and he continued ..

“Meray vaalid sahib filmon mein  kaam karney ke liye Mumbai  aaye thhay . Yahaan sab ko to  kaam  nahin miltaa , lekin unnhon ne  extra artists supply karne ka contract le liya . Kaam chal gayaa.  Aap Pandit ho ?”

 “ Haan ! Kaise pataa chalaa ? ”

“ Milaa huun ek Kashmiri  pandit bachey se.  Kabhi kabhi haal poochhaney aa jaata hai . Engineer hai . Dadar East  mein hamaara humsaaya hai . Kiraaye ke ghar mein rehtaa hai bichaara .  Nihaayat hi tameez wala aur nek  bachaa hai  .Allah uss ko salaamat rakhay  . Ek din ghar se Gosht ka Rogan Josh banaa ke laaya thhaa jo uss ki vaalida ne banaaya thhaa  hamaare liye .Hum to uss ke karazdaar ho gaye hain.    Meray  vaalid sahib ke   khaas dost  bhi ek do Pandit thhay . ”

 “Kaun se ? Kyaa naam thhaa ? ”

  “  Meray vaalid sahib ke saathh   ek aur kashmiri bhi  issi  kaam mein thhay  ASIF  KASHMIRI  . Ek kashmiri  pandit  bhi Hero bananey  aaye  thhay aur issi kaam mein lag  gaye.  Naam thhaa HARI KASHMIRI.  HARI  KASHMIRI  ka asli naam Hari kishen  Bumzayee ( Bamzai ) thha. Vaalid sahib kehtay thhay ki  woh  srinagar  shahar  ka  rehne waale  hain ..Meray vaalid Hari kashmiri ke  khaas dost thhay....   Aap bachey  ke paas aaye ho kyaa ? ”

“ Haan !  Lekin aap ke vaalida ???”

“ Meri vaalida Maharashtra se thhi  aur meray vaalid kashmir se thhay . Ab hum yaheen ke ho gaye hain . Dadar East mein vaalid sahib ne makaan banaaya  thha . Mera  kaam Transport ka hai . Vaise  Bhi ab dheere dheere kaam kam kar rahaa huun . Sehat bhi theek nahin hai . Ab do roti ki zaroorat hai aur ek  BP tablet ki . Shukar hai Allah Ka . ”

“ Aap ke  bachey ????? ”

“ Haan ! Haan ! Mein shadi shudaa hunn . Meri Biwi Konkani hai . Do bache hain. Allah ke fazal se donon apni  rozi roti  kamaa  rahein hain . Donon  engineer hain. Ek Dubai mein hai aur doosara England mein hai .   Donon ki shaadi huyee hai . Bahut shauq  thha ek ki shaadi kissi  kashmiri ladki se  karney ka . Lekin donon ne apni marzi se shaadi ki hai . Khush hain aur hum bhi issi mein khush hain.Hum miyan biwi hi yahaan rehtey  hain .  ”

“  Iss duniyaa mein Sab Ka yahee haal hai . Aap akelay nahin hain  ”

“  Haan ! Jaantaa huun , Khair  , Allah ka shukr hai ki aaj apney ajdaadon ke wattan ke kissi  ko dekha  . Mera number hai card mein . Zaroorat pade to zaroor baat karnaa. Mujhe intehaayi  khushi  hogi . Allah  salaamat rakhey .”

( Avtar Mota 28.07.2014 )

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Sunday, July 28, 2019


Nikola Vaptsarov..(1909-1942)..A small Tribute...

Today is death anniversary of Bulgarian poet Nikola Vaptsarov. He was killed by Nazi forces today after being traced  in  his exile . He was killed because he believed differently. He was a poet ,engineer ,trade union leader and a communist. When Hitler 's army invaded Europe,  they were  in Bulgaria for sometime preparing for their attack on Russia.  Those who opposed Nazi invasion of Europe were put before  firing Squad by advancing German troops..So many went into exile .

If you visit beautiful Bulgaria, you find roads, theatres , institutions and many academies named after this patriot known world over as Nikola Vaptsarov. His statue has been  erected in many cities and towns.Bulgarians love the man and his poetry.

He wrote poetry till his last breath. Pablo Neruda has said that poetry is indebted to Nikola for what he did. I quote his last poem  ' On Parting'   that he scribbled two hours before facing Nazi firing squad.
(On Parting)

To my wife
Sometimes I’ll come when you’re asleep,
An unexpected visitor.
Don’t leave me outside in the street,
Don’t bar the door!

I’ll enter quietly, softly sit
And gaze upon you in the dark.
Then, when my eyes have gazed their fill,
I’ll kiss you and depart.

* * *

The fight is hard and pitiless.
The fight is epic, as they say.
I fell. Another takes my place –
Why single out a name?

After the firing squad – the worms.
Thus does the simple logic go.
But in the storm, we’ll be with you,
My people, for we loved you so.

2 p.m. – 23 July, 1942

And his poem 'History' has been translated into almost every major Language of the world.Here lies history:-


will you mention us In your faded scroll ?
We worked in factories,
offices — Our names were not well-known.
We worked in fields,
smelled strongly Of onions and sour bread.
Through thick moustaches angrily
We cursed the life we led.
Will you at least be grateful
We fattened you with news,
And slaked your thirst so richly
With the blood of slaughtered crowds ? You'll view the panorama,
O'erlook the living centre,
And no one will remember
The simple human drama.
The poets will be distracted
With pamphlets,
 progress rates ; Our unrecorded suffering Will roam alone in space.
Was it a life worth noting,
A life worth digging up
Unearthed, it reeks of poison,
Tastes bitter in the cup.
We were born along the hedgerows.
 In the shelter of stray thorns
Our mothers lay perspiring,
Their dry lips tightly drawn.
 We died like flies in autumn.
The women mourned the dead,
Turned their lament to singing
But only the wild grass heard.
We who survived our brothers,
Sweated from every pore,
 Took any job that offered,
Toiled as the oxen do.
 At home our fathers taught us :
 "So shall it always be/ But we scowled back and spat on Their fool's philosophy.
 We kicked the table over,
Ran out of doors,
and there In the open felt the stirring Of something bright and fair.
How anxiously we waited In little-known cafes,
And turned in late at night With the last communiques !
 How we were soothed by hoping ! . .
But leaden skies pressed lower,
The scorching wind hissed viciously . . Till we could stand no more !
But in your endless volumes
 Beneath each letter and line
Our pain will leer forbiddingly
And raise a bitter cry.
For life,
showing no mercy,
With heavy brutish paw
 Battered our hungry faces. That's why our tongue is raw.
 That's why the poems I'm writing In hours I steal from sleep,
Have not the grace of perfume
But brief and scowling beat.
For the hardship and affliction
We do not seek rewards,
 Nor do we want our pictures In the calendar of years.
But tell our story simply
 To those we shall not see,
Tell those who will replace us — We fought courageously.

Here is another  poem:-


There's a crowd at the door
where the floodlit posters
'A human Drama.'
There's a crowd at the door
and the King's nickel horseman
in the pressure
of my pain.

On the square white screen
in the darkened hall
the Metro lion
sleepily yawns.
Suddenly a road
and a forest appear,
and above - the blue sky.
Expansive, clear.

Meeting at the bend
two sleek limousines
It's our hero
and heroine.

Promptly the gentleman
leaves his car,
picks up the woman
in though steel arms.
Slowly she opens
eyes that smoulder,
flutters her lashes
and skyward stares.
O what a beautiful
thoroughbred mare!

Nightingales, sure enough,
sing in the trees
where the peaceful azure
filters down through the leaves,
and yonder
the soft green meadow

Lustfully greasy
John kisses Greta.
Lascivious lips
start slobbering...
Where is our fate here?
Where is the drama?
Where am I? Tell me!
Ready to shoot, the explosive time
presses a gun against our spine.

In our love,
in our grief
can we be so naive
with our chests full of smoke
and our lungs T.B.?

Do we meet
those we love
in a sleek
Our love arises
at work -
amid smoke,
amid soot
and machines.
Then comes the grey life,
the struggle for bread,
the vague dreams -
every night in the cheap narrow bed
we barely perceptibly weaken and die.

That's how it is.
And there is the drama!
Everything else -
is a lie!
(Avtar Mota.. 23.07.2019)

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Thursday, July 25, 2019


        ( Night After Snow Fall)

        (Rural women of Kashmir)

                       (Autumn Chinars)


Sireesha  Srinivas    is married to  a very senior IPS officer of J&K cadre .  She holds a Masters degree  and  hails from a traditional Telgu  speaking family .   inspired by Raja Ravi Verma’s work. Kashmir  is her muse . Staying in kashmir for more than two decades , she loves to paint kashmir ..

 “There is plenty to explore in Kashmir’s landscape. The beautiful meadows, the Snow peaks, the tulips, the boats and Shikaras of Dal Lake, to name a few, stand out as the representation of mesmerizing beauty that the paradise is endowed with. My favorite works on Kashmir landscapes have always been the serene waves of Dal Lake and the charming Chinar leaves, besides the snow peaks of Kashmir valley.”

In 2017, her exhibition in New Delhi was inaugurated by Prof. Zargar Zahoor  well known  Artist from kashmir  .

Her colours are vibrant. Her brush strokes reflect her sensitivity and confidence .

Best wishes to Seerisha  Srinivas . More fame to  her beautiful kashmir canvases …
( Avtar Mota )

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Friday, July 19, 2019




Modern technology ( coming in the shape of Internet and Mobile connectivity )  has  made all those old post office papers /  instruments like money order form, blank inland letter  , post office registered envelope , blank telegram form and Post Card almost redundant for us. Rarely we see such things in our households. We have forgotten the role of a postman in our lives. Have we destroyed the institution of Post office in India? I saw it  thriving in USA .

In offices receipt despatch section is gradually facing  extinction. With the click of a mouse or feeble touch at the mobile display screen ,  any amount can be sent to any person anywhere and at anytime.
 Why write litters? Speak or use Email channel. Speak directly and send any script in seconds using Desktop, Laptop or Mobile phone.
Not that alone, you can see a person and talk to him anytime from any place  using your mobile phone.

Technology has made Post office  something that is not necessary in our lives anymore. Alas! I don't know who is the postman in my area. However i still remember Makhan Lal   the affable and ever busy postmen  of Rainawari  .I still remember how he brought a money order, some interview letter, some  appointment order and regular welfare communications  of relations and friends  .

And Very shortly we shall  erase all those   memories to carry on with the technology  that makes us to lead a   phoney life ...
(Avtar Mota)

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Saturday, July 13, 2019



A poem titled 'When I was a Child' by  exiled Kurdish Poet  Sherko Bekas ..Translated from the Kurdish by Muhammed Chawsawa and A.M. Levinson-LaBrosse......

(A portrait of Sherko Bekas..)

( When i was a Child )

When I was a child,
My left hand wished,
Similar to our neighbor’s well dressed children,
To have a watch.
I mourned.
My mother could only bite
My wrist:
With her teeth,
She would draw a watch.
Oh, that delighted me!

When I was a child,
The meaning of happiness
Was: in the bath,
The bubbles, lanterns of green and red
That I made
Puffed from the soap foam.

When I was a child,
In winter,
In the heat of the hearth,
I would sit
Looking at the embers,
Bright and blossoming,
I wished,
As a child,
To go into the embers,
To sit down,
To make them home!

When I was a child, many evenings
I was sent to Mrs. Manija’s house
To buy pickles.
That taste so delicious because,
After looking over my shoulder,
At the narrow alley’s switchback,
In one or two shots,
I snuck the juice from the glass.

When I was a child,
Love meant to me:
The night before the feast,
Till morning, till my eyes opened,
With me, in an embrace,
slept my new shoes.

When I grew up,
My left hand saw
Many real, beautiful watches
But none like the watch
Fitted by my mother’s teeth
On my fore and upper arm,
None could please me that much.

When I grew up,
None of my room’s forty lamps and lights
Could, like the bubbles of the soap foam,
Make me chuckle.

When I grew up,
I didn’t make any flame of my stove
A home to live in.
When I grew up, no food
Tasted as that shot of pickle juice did.

When I grew up,
I didn’t bring any shirts, ties, and new suits
Into my bed
As I did with my feast-day shoes,
The ones that, my eyes wide in anticipation,
Slept with me, in an embrace - -
None of them, none of them!

( Avtar Mota )

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Friday, June 28, 2019




A friend has sent me this photo with a request to add something to it.  I am instantly reminded of late Moti Lal Saqi 's  besutiful gazal. I add some  lines of the gazal to this photo..

Vanaan bulbul chhu gul Royan
Dohaai gotchh Nau-Bahaar Aasun..

Pozaai guv akh akis Praarun,
Reitcher  tchharun bujeir gaarun,
Dohaai ma Aashqas Maashoq sundh
 gotchh intezaar Aasun..

(Moti Lal Saqi)

"To these blushing flowers,
The bulbul says:
" Shouldn't everyday ,
this  spring be there for us ?"

True for us ,
To wait for each other,
To seek eachother's welfare
And plan a happy old age .
But why on earth ,
A  lover has to keep waiting
for the desired and the cherished ?'

Peace be to saqi sahib's soul. He left this world in a hurry and so early..

(Avtar Mota)

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Sunday, June 23, 2019





'JAMMU  OF 1905'

Reading ..'Thirty Years In  Kashmir 'by Dr Arthur Neve...Published in 1915...

 Dr Arthur Neve  writes about ' JAMMU OF  1905 ' .as he saw it .....I quote from his book..

“Jammu became capital of a kingdom larger than England , with tributary  peoples speaking  a dozen distinct languages and dialects, and at the Darbaar in the olden days ,one might have seen not only Dogra princes and Sikh generals. Punjabi officials ,and kashmiri Dewans and Brahmins ,with bold Rajput veterans of many fiercely  contested mountain campaigns , and  those who had been subjugated ,  Tibetan chiefs from Shigar ,Dard chiefs from Astor or Gilgit ,with their picturesque and truculent followers ,all clad in most diverse costumes. Many of these petty Rajas were often treated with the utmost contempt by the court menials.

 In 1905 Lord Curzon held a Darbaar and declared that Maharaja of J&K shall be invested with full powers . Till then , the state was administered by a council of which , several members were appointed by the British Government . A few months after this , King George , the then prince of Wales  visited jammu. The city was decked in the height of oriental splendor . A beautiful camp was laid around the new Residency at Satwari .It was estimated that 40000 British Pounds were spent by the  Maharaja in connection with the regal display by  the state that was always short of money , and which is terribly backward in such important matters such as roads and sanitation.

Basant or the first day of spring  is a great festival in the city . New Year’s day or Nauroz is also observed by a special Darbaar . Perhaps the most popular is the Dussehra held in Autumn .

In former days , all Europeans visiting Jammu were received as  guests of the Maharaja .The courtesy of princely welcome was not limited to gracious reception and polite phrases , but extended to lavishly furnished guest houses with all kinds of supplies . One could order any kind of  tinned provisions like  oyster , salmon and anything except beef  in any shape and form. Wine too would be unstinted

Those days there was no road in jammu  fit for driving in .The chief roads consisted of badly laid paving stones interspersed with cobbles. Narrow stony paths led steep   down the cliff to the river , and at all hours , strings of women with  water pots and water carriers with Mashaqs ( water skins ) might be seen scrambling up and down  the town. There were  quiet  deep water  pools ( Talabs )  where I could enjoy an undisturbed bath and narrow paths where pretty wild flowers grew .

It was interesting to see people fording rapids ( river and streams  )  where the water was nearly waist deep . Few seemed to trouble about their wet garments , which would soon dry in the  warm sun: their chief care was for the loads balanced cleverly upon their heads .

There were other attractions such as Ajaib Ghar literally meaning ‘ wonder House .’  I was provided with an elephant as i was a state’s  guest . Next day ,  i decided to meet the Maharaja .  I mounted the elephant that had a silver howdah and a small staircase  and we swayed  up slowly through the Bazaar   that had steep stone paved road and finally under the archway into the Palace.

After a few days of stay at jammu , I began my journey to kashmir via Banihal pass through a path  that was just a pony  track .When it became dark , there was a danger of getting off the route into some side valley merely leading to some mountain villages. Sometimes at night mail runner bells were heard , and one appeared carrying a torch to keep off any panthers , with which the dense thickets of these outer hills were infested . These Dak runners lived in thick straw sheds built near the path at an interval of four or five miles , and had to be ready at any hour of the day or night to start on to the next stage with Dak.  They were sturdy , unkempt fellows , who could keep a steady jog trot for the entire stage  and repeat it after a short rest. These young Dakwallas were surprised to see an Englishman on the path but cheerfully consented to pilot me ‘ Follow the torch lights’ . I was handed over to the guidance of another torch bearer , and so traveled till past midnight .
It was at times very weird to see the shadows of  the hills outlined against the starry sky , and the fantastic shapes of  many of the old trees . One could hear the splash of a water fall , a distant hoot of an owl, or dogs in some far off village. At a camping ground , i found many traveler resting , and was glad to get some little   grass  for my pony, whose reins i looped to my ankle , and then flung myself down on the bare ground with my saddle bags as my pillow , and was soon fast asleep.’

I would like to conclude this mini post  on ' Jammu of 1905  ' with Firaq Gorakhpuri's poetry selected from his collection 'Gul e Nagma'.

Ishq thhaa ek din daastaan dastaan..
Aaj kyon hai vohee be zubaan be zubaan..
Aaj sangam saraasar juve ishq hai,
Ek daryaa e gham be karaan be karaan..
Doondtay doondtay doond leingay tujhe ,
Go nishaan hai tera be nishaan be Nishaan..
Mere daar Ul amaan aey Hareem e nigaar,
Hum phirein kya Yuun hi be amaan be amaan..

( Avtar Mota )

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Saturday, June 22, 2019




A collection of poems by Vijay Saraf ‘Meenaghe’.
Price Re1600/-  in India . 

Overseas  GBP 20 and US$25.
( 35% concession to Artists , Writers , Performing Artists ,Students , Libraries and 60% concession to those earning upto 2.5 lacs per annum )

Before i say anything about the book and the poems included in it  , it is quite relatable to introduce the author   for a better  understanding of  the book and its contents .

Vijay Saraf ‘ Meenaghe ‘ (born 1956 ) is a well known artist of our state who served  as Principal and Dean , Faculty of Music and Fine Arts , University of Jammu . Trained at J J School of  Art Mumbai,  Vijay Saraf  ‘Meenaghe’  has  exhibited  his work  (  1974 onwards  )  in solos  and groups at various places in India .His work is on display at National Gallery of Modern Art New Delhi, Lalit Kala Academy New Delhi ,E. Alkazi Art Heritage New Delhi , Bank Of America  New Delhi , Raj Bhawan Jammu, Dogra Art Museum Jammu , Rashtriya Lalit Kala Lucknow , North Zone  Cultural Centre Patiala, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University Katra   and many other places   . Some  prominent private collectors  who possess  his work are  Vivek Burman ( Dabur ) Dr Karan Singh , Nusli Wadia  ( Bombay Dyeing ) , Satish Choksi (Mumbai )  , Kirti J . Seth (Mumbai) , family of A R Antulay  (Mumbai ) , Dr Farooq Abdullah  many more . 

 Shri Vijay ‘ Saraf Meenaghe ’ is a poet , photographer  and  Musician. He  has done  installations and  Murals  in ceramic tiles, terracotta  and mix media as a part of his commissioned work at many places   . His paintings  have received  positive and excellent  reviews in National newspapers  from  eminent writers and Art critics like  Keshav Malik, Ranjit Hoskote , Santo Datta , Dhyaneshwar Nadkarni , Niyatee Shinde and Manjula Padmanabhan.

The book under review contains 183 crisp Hindi poems in blank verse spread over 737 pages .  Most of the poems in this collection  are  supported by matching  illustrations done by the author himself .The beauty of this collection lies in something unique that i have come across for the first time in my life. Every poem has been translated into English , Urdu, Hindi , Sanskrit , Dogri , Kashmiri and  Punjabi  apart from  beautiful transliteration in Sharda and Dogri Akhar . This is  a great effort  to maximize the reach of the book . And in this task ,  he  has been assisted  by a team comprising of   Mohan Singh ,    Shuja Sultan ,  S N Pandit ,   R L Betab ,  Sham lal Raina and  Baljit Singh.

In his foreword, the author has expressed  sincere gratitude to Lala Mulkh Raj Saraf , Ved Rahi , O P Sarthi and so many other   relatives , teachers and friends .

This is a poetry collection  by a painter. The painter in him comes live in various poems . I have seen his paintings also and quite often,  the poet  in him is visible in his canvases . Let me take up some poems for review .  

A small poem at page number  ten of the collection under review  is about flowers and colours .The poem expresses artist’s  love for colours . And on this earth, colours are best represented by flowers . Here is the poem :
Phoolon se
Tum agar  baatein karo 
Aur  karte raho ,
Sach-muuch ,
Tumhe  yaad hi  nahin rahega
Ke tum inhein
Todne aaye thhay ..
 The above poem in English translation appears as under at page 10 of the book ..

‘With the flowers ,
If thou ever converse ,
And keep on conversing –
Really , You will forget ,
You had come to pluck them..’
Another small poem is as under:

‘ Khudgarzi ko dost bana kar
Ghar uss ke
daawat par  jo gaye-
Chugte chugte
Hum kabootaron ke
Pankh kat chuke thhay ..’

 The poem conveys  something that most of us have felt  or experienced.  Is present day  friendship another name of selfishness ? Does dishonesty rob a man of his capacity to fly free ? The flying power of a  pigeon may  decline  should he keep running after grains procured dishonestly . This mini poem comes close to Dr Iqbal’s popular couplet  from  Bal-e-Jibril  . I quote :
‘Aey  tair-e-lahooti!  Uss rizq  se maut achhi
Jis  rizq se aati ho parwaaz mein Kotaahi’

(O Bird, who flies to the throne of God,
You must keep this truth in sight,
To suffer death is  far nobler
 Than  the bread that clogs your upward flight.)

Another small poem is as under:
‘ Me
Kuchh  bhi  nahin  huun_
Yahi  baat
Yaad dilaate hain
Meray aangan mein
Pedon se girte
Sookhe  pattay..’
This poem is based on the deep philosophy of existence ,  Maaya- jala of the visible world and  the transitory nature of life on this planet. Green leaves full of life today shall inescapably fall to dust  tomorrow  . This comes  close to Kabir’s  popular Doha ;
‘Pataa toota daal se  le gayi pawan Udaai
Ab ke bichhde kab mile door padeinge jaaye .’

( The  wind carried away the leaf
that  fell from the branch ,
 Alas ! once   separated  ,
 It might  not meet  the tree again
Once  it falls to a  distant ground)

This poem also comes close to a very popular couplet of Poet jagan Nath Azaad. I quote
‘Maine poochha  ke zindagi  kyaa hai
Haathh se gir ke jaam toot gaya ’

( I sought to know the meaning of this existence ,
My wine  glass slipped from my hands and broke  )

There are so many other poems that need to be commented upon. For example a mini poem “ Dukh baant diya……. toote gamlon mein phool ugg aaye hain ‘ on page 402 conveys that sorrows need to be shared . Shared sorrows may become flowers .
The painter is visible in some mini poems .  In style and content , these mini poems look like Japanese  Haiku. I quote:

(a)    ‘Nazdekiyaan
paas paas sun rahi hain,
Chhaanv dhoop se bahut naraaz hai .. ’

(b)   ‘Sooraj bhi thithur gaya
Uss ke
nange jism ko dekh kar’

(c)    ‘Baadalon ka aanchal
Devdaaron ki
chupp bhari udaasi  ko chhu ke
Apne aansuvon se
Halka kar detaa hai ‘

The book can be directly purchased from the author who resides at  Jammu . He is available on mobile 9419195849 and 7889536356 . The book opens a new window  of interest and when  painters  write   poetry they tend to make  you happy and contented .

( Avtar Mota )

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