Thursday, February 14, 2019



RAFIQ  RAAZ..( Born 1950)

He retired as Station Director  Akashvani (AIR) Srinagar kendra .

Apolitical and a thorough gentleman  , Rafiq Raaz  has a command over kashmiri  and  urdu  especially when he writes GAZALS  in both languages

Is he Munir Niyazi of kashmiri poetry?  I am inclined to say 'YES'.  His   published poetry  books  whether in urdu or in  kashmiri have been well received.

Rafiq Raaz belongs to the New Generation of kashmiri poets . He is modern in style and diction.  Gazal is his Forte.A sensitive poet who is conscious of contemporary realities and brings them in his writings in perfect Rhyme and Rhythm

Matured  emotions / experiences are evident in his poems. He writes about  human pain, suffering, loneliness and  helplessness of an individual  facing benign indifference of this  universe.

Shubb Chhu Siyaah Tasveer Ta Baa
 Naar Tchhataan Chhatgeer Ta Baa
Tanhaaye Munz Jeiffi Milvaan
Praaen Ya akh Tahreer Ta Baa
( Rafiq Raaz )

In English, i would say:

( None except me and this Image stays awake  in this dark night.
 Look Who Burns ? None except this ceiling lamp and my heart.
 And In this desolate  loneliness  who are  in   passionate hug ,
None, Except me and  Some old script  of Mine ...................)

From his  poetry, one gets a feeling that humanity at large is engaged in a perpetual search for something that it finds missing inspite of   great leaps on material front .

Poash Faeil Baagus Chhavanaai Rooedh
Daag Laeig Jigruss Haavanaai Rooedh
Kumm sokhan yaarus Baavanaai Rooedh

Haal Akki Saal Itaa Laalo …
Gul e Laalo …
Bozanaavuthh Ba Zaar ….
Kaal kaaja Praa-yo…
Baal Paan Maar-Yo..
Yaar Iyaa Na Tche Aar….
Myaani Laalo…

( Rafiq Raaz ).

In English, i would say:

The garden was all flowers But we were not there
This heart had its wounds that couldn't be shown,
So many love laced conversations missed us Friend !

Now just come once for the feast
My Tulip !
And I shall open my heart ,
In Waiting I remain,
I may not live to see you ,
Pity !

My Love!

Published in 1995 ,  his kashmiri  poetic collection "Nai Chhi Naalan'"  (The Flute is wailing), won him prestigious Sahitya Academy Award .

Yesterday only read his poem  Hijratas Manz ( In Migration) . I quote some lines ..

Yaad pheer pheer pyvaan chhum path-kaal
Az ti shaahmaar Hue valith chhum naal
Az ti kaatyaah nafar achhan tal chhim
Krishen , Pyari, Ashok, Razaak draal
Kya yi chha poz batan kahaai ghar rooedh
Az batav ross chhu  kyaah kashiri haal..

In English ,i would say:

"Time and again,
I remember,
Those good old days.
That good time spent,
Still hangs like a serpent
around my neck  .
So many memories,
So many people,
Come alive before my eyes ,
Razaaq the broker.
Hey ,
Tell me,
Is it true that only  eleven Pandit households are now  left  ?
Tell me how is kashmir today
Without  Pandits."

A sample of his urdu  poetry ..

Patay laraz  rahay thhay khatraa thaa  aandhiyon kaa
Ghar ho rahay thhay khaali mausam tha hijraton ka

( Rafiq Raaz  )

In English, i would say:

(The leaves kept trembling and  the hurricane was about to unleash itself,
The houses were being emptied and  the season of migration had set in.)

(Avtar Mota)

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019




( Photo Avtar Mota 2009 )

“ Where is Sri Rupa Devi Sharda Peeth School ; The big Building near Raghu Nath Mandir ? “

“ I don’t know. We have come from Baramulla District . We are New to this area .”

“ Where is Sri Rupa Devi Sharda Peeth School ? “

“ I don’t know . I am New to this locality . There is one private school in newly built rooms in that old temple . Some Petha or Peetha school ? Ask some old shopkeeper . There that man is old resident of this locality . Please , Just go and ask him. Only he can tell you correct location . ”

“ Where is Sri Rupa Devi Sharda Peeth School ? “

“ Rupa Devi Sharda Peeth School for Girls was here in this Raghunath Mandir premises. That big Old white school building , which you may be looking for , got completely destroyed in a devastating fire during peak armed  militancy . So you can't find it anymore.
Many Pandit women come and weep here as they don’t find their old school building anymore . Dr S N Dhar and his wife Dr Bimla ji helped in reconstruction of some rooms that you see currently. They gave money from their pocket for everything that you see at the spot . They wanted that the name of this grand old Pandit Institution should not die . A school for children is being run here now.There is no pandit teacher or student in the school now. "

" Thank you . No body could guide me properly over here ."

"After buying property left by pandits, Unknown People have come to live in this locality now .These people know nothing about Rupa Devi sharda Peeth School ? What can they tell you ? “

And in 1953, Late Parmanand who retired as Accountant General , used his GP Fund and other terminal dues amounting to Rs60000/= for construction of the school building that is nowhere to be seen now . It was named after his daughter Rupa Devi. He was very much interested in imparting Sharda and Sanskrit knowledge to girls apart from creating a centre for research in ancient texts . The school was a premier institution for learning Sanskrit Language . Sri Daya Ram Shastri , A Sanskrit scholar from Udhampur was the first Incharge of this Peeth . Shri Jagan Nath Braroo Shastri , Shri Badri Nath Kala , Prof Kashi Nath Dhar and many more scholars were also associated with this institution. Some Muslim Girls also read Sanskrit in this school . For many years , degrees were awarded to students through Examinations conducted by “Bharatiya Vidhya Bhawan “ . The school also awarded Degrees of Praagya, Visharadh and Shastri to its students .

Parmanand Research Institute headed by Prof. kashi Nath Dhar was an affiliate institution. So many research papers and translations have been undertaken by Parmanand Research Institute under the stewardship of Prof Kashmir Nath Dhar .This institution had a rich library with many rare sanskirt and Sharda manuscripts.

Well known Hindi writer Smt. Kshama Kaul commented  on my face book  as under   :

“This is my school. Great school. It flows in my veins . The very name of the post caught me and couldn't resist myself from writing these words. In Dardpur I have made heartiest mention of my school. I am in tears. Hey  Ram!”

 Shri.Mohammad Sidiq wani commented on my Face book post as under  

“ One amongst alumni is my spouse (Prof/Dr) Mahbooba who studied in the institution and learned Devanagari script (Hindi) to proceed for career and gaining fame as a classical artist . We intend to volunteer in any genuine initiative taken for restoration of the bruised image of this institution.”

Prof. Sanjay kaul ( USA )  commented on my Face book Post as under :

   Avtar Ji , Dr. Vimla Dhar is still running this school from her personal funds and you understand how difficult it gets ! The old school building got completely burnt and no government help was provided !”

Shri Ram Krishen sadhu commented on my Face book Post as under :

“Pandit Parmanand was a noble character, an extraordinarily brilliant student who topped M,A. Mathematics  in those times, a brilliant and honest civil servant, an academician, an outstanding Sanskrit scholar who initiated and guided Dr Karan Singh into the study of Sanskrit and scriptures. This is what Dr Singh has told me. The death of his daughter Roopa Devi was a great shock to him. He invested all his savings in this Institution which he wanted to develop into an outstanding research center. All that got destroyed in the flames of terrorist fire and Raghunath Temple which was a heritage area is almost non existent today. More than the money which was spent by him, the loss of the rich Library including rare books and manuscripts which he transferred to the Peeth were also  lost .”

After the death of Parmanand ji ( The founder ), it was converted into a regular Girls school . I can name so many well known names who have studied in this school .  Alas !  Some miscreants  set this old  Centre of learning and research   on fire and removed it from the landscape . Present status of the  new school set up in some rooms  is not known to me . I didn’t visit the school after 2009.

 Dr Bimla Dhar (Actual name  Dr  Vimla Dhar W/O Dr. S.N.Dhar. ) happens to be the daughter of  Parmanand ji the founder of the institution.  And her husband , Dr S N Dhar  spent 83 days  in the captivity of armed  Militants   when he was  kidnapped . He wrote a book “The Story of a Frozen River” on this  torturous experience .

( Avtar Mota )


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  ( Poet Mehjoor is sitting in  a chair with white  Beard and black cap. Master Zinda kaul is on his right and G M Sadiq is on his left )


See what Ghulam Ahmed Mehjoor , well known kashmiri poet has to say...

Tamanaa tchaani deedaruk me chhum yemberzale bumbro..
Phojis yaamathh lajjis vuchhane gajjis tchaane kalle bumbro ..
( Ghulam .Ahmed Mehjoor ) 

In English ,i would say:

"This narcissus desires to see you,
My love,
My bumblebee.
The moment i blossomed,
I looked for you only,
And in this longing ,
i vanished ,
My love,
My bumblebee."

(Avtar Mota)

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Monday, February 11, 2019



                                          (  Inside view of Vasuki naag Temple Bhaderwah.)


By Dharam kant Dogra
And. Chander Kant Sharma. ..Price Rs100/-
Aastha Prakashan, Jalandhar

Thanks to my friend and ex colleague Shri Dharam Kant Dogra for sending me a beautiful book titled" Shri Vasuki Nag And Nag Culture " authored by him .Before i say anything about the book, i need to say something about Shri Dharam Kant Dogra.

I came to know Dogra ji closely when he was posted as Manager at Kathua Branch of our bank. Together with him and Shri Sunil khosa, i organised a Multi Lingual Mushiara at Kathua aimed primarily at Business Development and Bank's public relation exercise. Many well known Urdu, Punjabi , Dogri and Hindi poets participated in this Event.That day, i came to know some facets of this multi-faceted personality known to me as Dharam Kant Dogra; A writer, traveler, photographer and a painter. There is hardly a place in beautiful Bhaderwah( his hometown ) that he has not photographed . And then , he shares all these photographs with his Facebook friends.


Since ancient times, Snake or serpent is one of the oldest mythological symbol. It has diversified metaphoric application throughout history. In mythology, the serpent symbolises fertility and procreation, wisdom, death, and resurrection (due to the shedding of its skin, which is not akin to rebirth ).

Naag or serpent worship is a reality across cultures in Asia.Some references to serpent reverence also crop up if we study history of ancient Aztec and Mesopotamian civilizations.In Ramayana and Mahabharata we find mention of serpent weapons like Nagastra and the Nagapasha –deadly arrows used in War. A snake adorns Shiva as the sacred Brahminical thread. In Hindu mythology, Kundalini is a serpent goddess that lies asleep at the base of the spine, coiled three and a half times around the first chakra.

A Dragon is an essential element of japanese, korean and Chinese mythology. Medusa in Greek mythology is a monster that has snakes all over its head .
Ancient Egyptians also worshiped snakes, especially the cobra. We also know that Glycon / Glykon, was an ancient snake god that had large and influential cult in ancient Roman Empire. Serpent worship was also prevalent in many African tribes.In Bulgarian mythology , Zmei , a scale-covered serpent-like creature is regarded as a benevolent guardian creature.
In india, A snake is dreaded yet worshiped .


Coming to the Book, i could gather from the very title that the subject required a thorough research and study. And my assessment proved correct as i read this crisply worded 109 page book.

The book's introduction starts with some beautiful Shlokas from Maha-Upnishad, Rig Veda and Panchtantra . Thereafter, the author straightaway comes to a chapter on NAGARAJ VASUKI .We are informed that ancient scriptures like Mahabharata, Bhagvat Geeta and Ramayana clearly mention Vasuki Naga. Naags like shesh, Vasuki, Takshak, karkotak, Airavat, Vaman, Neel, Kambal , Padma, Dhananjaya and many more are the children of sage Kashyapa born after he married Kadru . Vasuki , according to the author is also known as "The Head Of Nagas " or "The Nagraj" .Vasuki also finds mention in many other ancient texts like Amarkosh and Harivansh Puran.

In Bhagwat Geeta , Sri Krishna informs Arjuna :

"Sarpaa naam Asmi Vaasukih "
( Among serpents, I am Vasuki )

Vasuki Naag is repeatedly mentioned in Adi Parva, Anusasana Parva, Astika Parva, Shalya Parva , Mausala Parva of Mahabharata and in many Shlokas of kashmir's Neelamat Purana. The learned author goes on to inform us that this serpent Deity finds detailed mention in some more scriptures like:

(a) Kaushik Sutra of Athar Veda.
(b) Prajnaparamita Sutra of Mahayana Buddhism.
(c) Lotus Sutra of Mahayana Buddhism.

The influence of Naag Culture and worship of Naags is still prevalent in coastal areas of south India and remote and interior areas of Himalayas in north. The most prominent being Bhaderwah in J&K State.
Kalhana in his Rajatarangini mentions present Bhaderwah town as Bhadarvaksh. We are informed that the principal deity of Bhaderwah is Shiva Mahadeva with Malleshwari as kuldevi and Naagraj Vasuki as presiding deity .

As in kashmir, every water spring in Bhaderwah is known as Naag. At some places In bhaderwah area, water springs have a snake image drawn or carved on stone, wood or metal and kept at a conspicuous place. I personally found it in many water springs of Doda, Kishtwar and Udhampur districts . 
                               (A Naag temple near Patnitop.. photo Avtar Mota..)

                        (Inside view of Patnitop Naag temple..Photo.. Avtar Mota..)

The author informs us that Gotras of some locals in Bhaderwah are linked with Naags like Takshak Gotra. In many festivals like Naagpanchmi, Tihaar and Sharari , Hindus in Bhaderwah draw serpent images on doors, windows walls and pooja rooms. The town in itself is known as Vasuki kheshtra and so many temples lare exclusively meant for Naag worship. Among all these temples, the temple of Vasakdehra Nagar Bhaderwah is the most impressive and revered place of Naag worship.The temple is the focal point of all social , religious and cultural activities if Hindus of Bhaderwah .People in Bhaderwah call it as Darbaar Sthaan of Naagraj . They believe that the harmful effects of Kaal Sarpa Dosha are nullified by performing Pooja Archna at vasuki Nag Temple .

The ancient Vasuki Naag temple in Bhaderwah town has exquisitely carved and sculpted black stone images of Naagraj and Jimootvahan. The images stand on Padma or lotus flower. The raised hands of the idols carry Shankh ( Conch ) and Chakra( Disc). The idols have a canopy of nine cobra hoods over their heads that are decorated with crowns and ornaments. We are told that the temple had many inscriptions in Takri Language that got buried due to repeated and extensive renovations. Around the temple , there has been unauthorised encroachments . The temple Shikhra is Pyramidal.

Through this book, we come to know that Nagraj Vasuki is worshipped at many places outside Bhaderwah. Entire jammu province is dotted with temples and shrines dedicated to Naag devtaas. Prominent Naag Devta shrines are located at Billawar, Jagati, Pancheri, Mantalai, Gulabgarh, Kundal Tatapaani and many more places. Vasuki Naag temples are also located in Himachal Pradesh and Kerala.In Kerala, Sree Nagaraj temple Mannarasala, Pambummekkattu Mana temple Mala, Sri Nagraj Swami temple Vetticode and about 12 more prominent temples are dedicated to Vasuki Naag. A highly revered Temple in Allahabad tiwn is dedicated to Vasuki Naag . There is a grand Vasuki nag temple on the banks of river Bagmati in Kathmandu Nepal.Some temples dedicated to Vasuki Naag exist in Bali Indonesia . Temples dedicated to Naagraj also exist in SriLanka , Combodia and Thailand.


The genetic history of the diverse people of India informs us about the existence of four major branches comprising of the Austro-Asiatic speaking people (the Mundas of Jharkhand), the Ancestral North Indians (Euroasians/Aryans), the Ancestral South Indian (Harappans/Dravidians) and the Ancestral Tibeto-Burmese (speculated to be the Naagas). The major theory about Nagaas says that Moving from the North East, they came to India, SriLanka , Cambodia, Indonesia, southern China or possibly farther east. We don't know the actual incidences and events that may have occurred during the advent of the Naaga tribes with their ancestral beliefs making the form that reached the present day chaotic juxtaposition of infusing animal traits to humans beings .

Were these ancient Naaga tribes familiar to snakes ? Did they worship snakes? Did these tribes introduce serpent deities?

The answes to the above questions may vary . However , The most reasonable answers could be as under:

‌As tribe, with the serpent as a constant neighbour , Naagas developed rituals to appease it, tame it and use it as their totem. We find them developing head gears to appear more like it . Many prehistoric period cave paintings or stone / Rock carvings depict a man Dancing with a trident in one hand and a cow close by. Couldn't this be shiva ? And from shiva worship they might have learnt serpent or Naaga worship .

In Kashmir we have a history of existence of Naaga and Pisacha tribes. Heemal and Naegraai ( Naagraj) is the most popular folktale of kashmir
ln his Rajatarangini , Kalhana records the importance of naga cult in the lives of Kashmiri people in the eleventh century CE. He narrates the stories of about kings who supported Naaga Cult ; Susrava naga and his alliance with the Brahmana; the naga ancestry of King Durlabavardhana and the account of Naga Mahapadma, the tutlery deity of the Wular lake.

Abu’l Fazl, who came to Kashmir in 16th century writes :
" Apart from shiva ,Brahma and Durga , there are so many places where images of snakes have been carved or drawn and revered ."

Historian James T. Wheeler while speaking about Naagas in his work," A History of India" writes:

“In the process of time these Nagas became identified with serpents, and the result has been a strange confusion between serpents and human beings.”


The author informs us that aggressive attacks on Naagas as tribe by Aryans became reason for decline in Naaga population in north India . They were chased, hunted and driven away to far flung areas and interiors of Himalayas . Mahabharata also mentions about burning of khandav forest , a blaze in which a large number of Naags perished. When Buddhism spread in Asia, the Naagas and naag Culture immediately assimilated itself into this new faith.

The book is a treat to a reader and could serve as reference material to any person writing on Naag worship in our state with special reference to Bhaderwah's Vasuki Naag .

So long so much ..

( Avtar Mota)

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( Moble Phone Photographs ...Avtar Mota 2018 )

Claude Monet ( 1840-1926 ) was a key figure of the 19th century art movement that came to be known as Impressionism. He was born and brought in France but moved to England during Franco-Prussian War (1870-71) where he had close association with Camille Pisarro, Auguste Renoir and other figures central to Impressionism movement of Art .

( Avtar Mota )
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Unknown Artist Maheshwar Nath Dhar (1908-1992)

He was an accomplished Artist from Chandpora Habba Kadal. Not to be confused with another Artist of the same name who worked as Royal Artist in the Darbaar of Maharaja Partap Singh.
Sunita Handoo ,his grand daughter informs me :
" I owe my Artistic activity to him only. He was my maternal grandfather. He served as Art teacher in Kangra Himachal Pradesh . He painted the images of goddesses that were displayed at Kheer Bhawani , Hari Parbat and many other Temples. He made thousands of paintings that were lost in the turmoil of 1990. A few are available with his friends and relations. These paintings , he had already gifted to them prior to 1990 and as such, only these could be saved. He remained unknown and unsung . "
I have heard that the beautiful wall paintings of Shiva temple of Jogi Lanker Rainawari( near Vishwa Bharti college) were done by some Artist from Chandpora Habba Kadal. Could he be the person? I am not sure.
(Avtar Mota)

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