Sunday, May 19, 2019

PROF. MEEM HAI ZAFFAR AND SHAIVA PHILOSOPHY OF KASHMIR




                                                                                


                                                      ( Prof. Meem Hai Zaffar )
                                   ( Prof . Daya Krishna )


                                                           ( Avtar Mota With Prof, Zaffar )


PROF. MEEM HAI ZAFFAR....

Yesterday i met Prof. Zaffar after he sent a message ' Avtar ji , collect your book. I am packing up . My assignment at Jammu Central University is over. I would have personally come but i don't have my own vehicle to move about over here.'

I met him and collected my book . I am beholden to Prof. Meem Hai Zaffar( Ghulam Mustafa Khwaja ) for gifting me his latest book' Praznitch Hundh Gaash' --Splendor Of Recognition'. It is a wonderful kashmiri translation of Acharya Kshemraja 's samskrta Sutras. Twenty Sutras translated into kashmiri that comes in Devnaggri and Nastalik script simultaneously .This double script gives the book a broad based readership. A great attempt to reach the constituency of expected readers. All the Sutras are with detailed commentry in kashmiri that simplifies them for a layman who is not well versed with kashmir's Shaiv - Darshana .The Orginal samskrta text of Acharya Kshemraja is titled' ' 'Pratibhigyan-Hridayam' . 

                                   

 ( Prof.Zaffar's Book being released at Jammu Central University 2019 )


We sat over a cup of tea and talked about many issues.

Prof. Zaffar has done his graduation , post graduation and doctorate in Philosophy. Well-known philosopher and eminent Scholar Prof. Daya Krishna of Jaipur University has been a guru for his doctorate .He worked under his guidance . Prof. Daya Krishna (1924-2007) taught at USA and later Jaipur University . He has authored some monumental books on Indian Philosophy, western philosophy and aesthetics.  Long back, i borrowed Prof Daya krishna's book 'Indian Philosophy - A  counter Perspective' and read it twice. Prof.Daya Krishna's  wisdom , strength of his argument and his scholarship was revealed to me through this book.


It was Daya Krishna who introduced Prof. Zaffar to Shivsutras of Rishi Vasugupta. 

"When i read those sutras, i changed my priorities. I studied Hindi and Samskrata." He informed me.

I told him that history is not being taught in proper perspective to our younger generation.
They are ignorant about our real icons and their contribution. There has been unbelievable and glorious contribution of our ancestors to Aesthetics, Art, literature, Medicine ,Drama, Music, Poetry , Logic , Grammar, and Spread of Buddhism in Himalayas and across Pamir mountains.To this he said: 


" You are right. We must teach correct history to our children. Where shall they understand 5000 year old link that we keep talking about if we don't educate them about our past and our real icons.We need to know our roots." 

He is of a firm belief that not only Shaivism but ancient intellectual and spiritual traditions are ingrained in DNA of every kashmiri.  According to him: 

" It is in our conduct, Logic, Art, poetry , behaviour and thought process. " 


I spoke to him about some Scholars in Italy ,Germany , France and Poland and their contribution in spreading knowledge of Acharya Abhinavgupta . To this he said :

" It looks both unfortunate and satisfying. Unfortunate for we feel no need to know it and satisfying that we produced scholars whom world acknowledges as great contributors. can't describe the depth of knowledge and scholarship of so many people including Italian Scholar Dr. Raffaele Torella in so far Works of Abhinavgupta are concerned. Dr Jaffery S. Lidke and Dr Oscar Pujol, Bettina Sharada Bäumer and Mark Dykowski . We have Prof. Navjivan Rastogi, Dr Radha Vallabh Tripathi, A N D Haksar, Our own Dr Shashi Shekhar Toshkhani , Dr Mira Rastogi, Dr Rajnish kumar Mishra , Prof. Kapil Kapoor and many more." 


About kashmiri sufi poets , he said:

"Let me tell you frankly that We have not owned Sufi poets of kashmir. Study them and you find most of them illiterate; A carpenter, A blacksmith, a Labourer, a Band saw help Yet profoundly humanistic in approach. They jumped over their tight fences and not only peeped into other arenas but went far ahead. They owned and propagated our glorious Shaiv-Darshna , Bhakti -Vaad and Islamic Tassavuf thereby strengthening the concept of 'Sarve Bhavantu Sukhina' . The Shunyata or nothingness that they talk about is Rig Vedic in its thought and content . Avtar ji, you will be surprised to know that Samad Mir writes about Turiya( Pure consciousness of fourth state ) in his poetry. And We have not understood the core message of Lal Ded and Nund Ryosh. "

For a layman, kashmir Shaiv Darshana appears too difficult to comprehend . I tend to belive so. He disagrees.

" It was not taught to common man in his language. Every body felt proud of this heritage but a few knew what this really was . It is a great civilizational link to our past . It has a great promise for our future . Every individual and every Society needs to know its roots . It gives a sense of historical continuity. ' 

Frankly speaking, i am not sure about any other person studying Shaiv Darshana seriously in Kashmir presently. May be there are some people , i don't know but to me, such chances appear remote. To this query , he replied as under:

" Yes there are some more people in kashmir who know what is kashmir's Shaiv Darshana . They have done good study of Vedanta and Acharya Abhinavgupta's Philosophy. Dr. Maroof Shah is one such person whom I know. He is a veterinarian yet with such diverse interests."

And about Swami Lakshman joo , he said :

" Yes i have met Swami ji. I took one delegation to his Ashram Possibly in 1985 or 1986. Now i regret why i didn't meet Swami ji earlier. He was a great sage and scholar. Unusual combination. A torch bearer of kashmir's ancient wisdom." 


The SUTRAS  of this book under review  have been translated into easily understandable  kashmiri language with  simpler  commentaries. For instance Sutra 6 … ‘ TANMAYO MAAYA PRAMAATA ‘  ... A shrunken Chita or  Mind  takes birth in Maaya jala or illusions created by  visible phenomenon .   Prof. Zaffar clarifies  that   the source and  summary of our mind is Shiva himself who  happens to be    vast and boundless by nature. To bring it to a shrunken state is to get it attached to Maaya jala.  It is also a fact that our  mind is the creator of  Maaya Jala or webs of illusions . And then Maaya is also an energy that creates seen objects in this  universe and also makes them visible   .  And It is mind alone that feels this Maaya and experiences it. But should the mind be made to run after the visible? Can a human being recognise himself by looking only at the  visible. Can a human being experience  the real and unending happiness  unless he knows who he is  ? Doesn't he need to experience the unseen  or the invisible ?  These are some questions that get linked to this sutra .

Let us see how he deals with SUTRA  15 ..’ BAL- LAABHE VISHVAM AATAMSAAT KAROTEE’  ..When  Life gets power of  Chita or Mind , it tends to engulf  entire world  . For this sutra ,Prof. Zaffar clarifies  that when mind comes to know its real nature , the living creature gets a  feeling  that he is an inseparable part of this  entire universe . At that stage , none  is your own and none a stranger   .  It is a strange feeling of being engulfed by the entire creation of Shiva. At that stage , the mind of the individual is  nothing but clear light.  

Prof. Zaffar’s  beautiful explanation to Sutra 18   in the light of Acharya Utpaldeva’s ‘Pratibhigyan Kaarikaayi” ,  Acharya Abhinavgupta’s ‘Tantrloka” and  “Atharveda”     is convincing and illuminating. For this Sutra , he also uses poetic lines of Sufi poet  Shamas Faquir  ( Joi Manz Basith chhu Dariyaav or The river hides in a small stream) and Saint Poetess   Lal Ded ( Adha Lal Ba Vaatches Prakaash Dhaam or Then i Lala arrived at the place of Illumination ) .


A careful  study of this translation clarifies some basic concepts of   Shaiv Darshana,  Trika Mat of Lal ded ,  Unity of Mankind as propounded by Nund Ryosh  and  Humanism of kashmiri Sufi poets .The book is a peep into kashmir’s glorious past that holds a great promise for the future . 




(Avtar Mota )

PS


(1)

Sometime back ,  A friend  sent me  a  print out of  Prof. Meem Hai Zaffar’s  write up on Lal Ded   . It was published in *SUTRA "  Journal March 2016 Issue.
I quote  from the last para of Prof.  Zaffar’s write up on Lal Ded ..
 “ Illusions are the part and parcel of this worldly life, that is why we call this world Mayajala (Web of Illusions). The more one is spiritually evolved the less illusions will he or she entertain. The ultimate illusion is that of individual existence, 'Aham' or 'I am'; this is the branch upon which one is standing and even the most evolved persons are not inclined to cut this branch, apprehending that in case of a fall, he or she will hit the ground. But Lal Ded  the  saint  Poetess  of Kashmir, the Avtar of Kashmir has all the spiritual powers to cut even the branch upon which she is standing as she has realized that there is no ground to hit…………………………………….. She transcends all particularities and her message is absolutely universal. No doubt its form that is its linguistic expression is particular, as it is expressed in Kashmiri Language, but it’s Kernel, that is its essence transcends all particularities.”

( *Sutra Journal, a  publication on Asian art, Yoga and Indology, covers a wide range of topics related to Indic and South Asian traditions .This journal is co-founded by Vikram Zutshi, Virochana Khalsa and Lea Horvatic. On its Board , the magazine has a distinguished panel of co editors that include Debashish Banerji, Ph.D, Dr. Christopher Key Chapple, Philip Goldberg, Dr. Jeffery D. Long, Dr. Stuart Sovatsky and  Dr. Richard C Miller .)


(2)

At some universities in USA , i found many Sharda Books or Manuscripts digitalized and put in proper custody .There are many Shaiv Darshana related texts that need translation. These books are full of wisdom put in by our ancestors . Can't we translate them to kashmiri or English by creating a corpus of funds exclusively for this job.. A committee of scholars can evaluate and recommend manuscripts for translation. We can seek help from Sharda and Samskrata knowing persons . Through translation only , the knowledge held in these manuscripts is bound to spread and come to public domain . A tradition can be revived and put to life and continuity. There is an implied need is to sit together and talk it over.

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