Monday, September 10, 2012






" Goonga nawa dil jaane te meriye goonga nawa”

So would many elders in Kashmir sing . At school, our principal Dina Nath Hanjura once explained that the lines are actually from a  Kishtwari song popularised by singers who trekked the Simthan Pass from Kishtwar to enter the Kashmir valley . In fact the history of Kashmir is directly connected with the history of Kishtwar I quote verse  589 Taranga 7 from  Kalhana's Rajtarangini :-

"The Chief of Kashtwata ( present day Kishtwar ) too ,Sri Uttam Raja presented themselves before the king. “

The tallest saint of the Reshi order of Kashmir popularly known as Nund Ryosh ( Reshi ) belonged to this area  and his ancestors have been traced as Thakur Rajputs .Similarly Baba Zain ud Din , whose Ziyarat is presently at  Aishmuqam , belonged to a Rajput family of Kishtwar and his actual name was Zia Singh . History records that after embracing Islam ,he meditated in a cave at Aishmuqam . History  records that during 1319 A D ,King Sahdeva of Kashmir fled to Kishtwar to save his life and honour from the hurricane like attack of Dulachu ,the Tartar invader from central Asia . And then General Zorawar Singh (1786-1841 ) trekked through this area to enter Suru valley to conquer Ladakh for Raja Ghulab Singh of Jammu.


This beautiful upland valley of Kishtwar falls in the  Jammu division of J&K  though a motorable road via Simthen Pass  connects it with the  Kashmir valley. Perched at an altitude of 5400 feet approximately , Kishtwar town has a scenic location with Sylvan surroundings of hills with dense forests  . River Chenab ( Chanderbhaga mentioned in Rajtarangini  ) flowing from neighbouring Himachal Pradesh, enters the area through Paddar ( known for Sapphire mines ) and flows near by this picturesque town. Other valleys in this area are Dachan , Marwah , Wadwan and Chatroo .The climate and altitude of this area is ideal for growth of fruits like apples , cherries , pears , walnuts , almonds. The soil of the plateau is also ideal for cultivation of saffron . Rajmash (  kidney beans ) grown in Marwah are  exported now .


In this beautiful land lies an area known as Dool where NHPC has  commissioned a prestigious hydro electric power project. And Dool Hasti happens to be the birth place of Ghulam Nabi Doolwal who enthralled entire state with his  music popularized as Chalant as also with his beautiful and progressive Kashmiri  poetry . From Dool he came to settle down in Kishtwar town. Ask any person in Kishtwar town and he shall accompany you to the house of Doolwal Sahib. His Mazaar lies in the corner of the compound of his house . I asked for his music and immediatelyI was shown the shop "Tanveer Electronics" at the Hospital Chowk from where I purchased some old recorded music of this artist. So much love and regard flows for this artist in the town that one has to see it to believe it .I am informed by some residents of the town that Doolwal helped every one who knocked at his door.  Quite often, this help was monetary in nature  even when he himself continued to struggle .


Enter The World Of Ghulam Nabi Doolwal (1925-1990)


"Sadiq Sahib , abhi woh paimaana nahin bana hai jis se aap Doolwal Sahib ki taaleem naap sakein "

 This what Durga Prasad Dhar( DP Dhar) told to  Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq ,the then Chief Minister when a senior bureaucrat objected to his idea of elevating Doolwal to the post of Cultural Education Officer. The bureaucrat had objected had put a written note that ‘Doolwal was not qualified enough for the post’. The proposal for shifting cum elevation of the  renowned singer cum poet was mooted  D P Dhar and was finally approved by the cabinet.. In fact Doolwal worked as Forester in  the Forest Department and was posted at Kishtwar. He had to visit Srinagar quite often for his programmes. This frequent movement was inconvenient for the poet cum singer as well as for his innumerable well wishers in the valley.

Abba Ji to his children, Doolwal  to the  innumerable admirers , Jaanbaaz Kishtwari to the  fraternity of poets and writers  , Ghulam Nabi Doolwal had a stream of admirers in the state . The singer in him spread the unique style of Chalant music  in the entire length and breadth of the Kashmir and the Chenab  valleys .The poet in him had spiritual leanings . In srinagar , he would  often visit his Peer Sidd Sahib for guidance.

I am informed by the family members of Doolwal that the then Director Radio Kashmir ,  P C Chaterji, who  was posted in Srinagar from 1953 to 1956 and retired as Director General AIR ,  visited Kishtwar and was informed about a magical young singer from Dool Hasti . Chaterji immediately asked for the boy and heard him singing . Himself a connoisseur of music and fine arts , Chaterji introduced the boy to the  Radio Kashmir Srinagar and the rest is a history.This story was also confirmed to me by Padam-Shri Pran Kishore Kaul.

Ghulam Nabi Doolwal remains a legend in the Kashmiri Music. He brought the freshness of Chalant style music to Kashmir from across the hills and the valleys of River Chenab . Though himself an accomplished poet , it goes to his credit that he sang the songs of almost all poets from the Kashmir  valley. He brought the freshness of the poetry of many poets of the Chenab valley to Kashmir (especially Rassa Javidaani, Margoob Banihaali , Manshoor Banihaali , Bashir Bhaderwahi and Nishat Kishtwari ) and made them known all over. Ask any Kashmiri about Doolwal and he shall immediately tell you all or any one of his following compositions :-

Maanun  tse peyee sahib chhu Kunuyaai  ya  yeti maanun ya taeti aanun.

( You will have to agree that the Lord is one . You may agree in this world or  in the world hereafter)

Naazneen yaar myaani yee chhu mulaaqaat

( O delicate  friends, this is how we meet in this world.)

Shabanamun kar ashqbaari laalzaras chhaa khabar

(The ignorant garden doesn’t know that the dew dropped all tears )

Yaa maag sorrihay taa phaagnuss manz aghar su myon toth yaar Iyahe .

( After this Maagha ends , how good it would be if that darling friend visits me in the month of Phagun )

Me nish seer thaavun so gayee tchein marzi

( to make me the custodian of your secrets  is for you to decide )

Yin sa chashman sreh karakh sahlaab anaham Yavanas.

( please don’t  moisten your eyes , my youth shall be washed away

Lol chonuy chhum barith jismas ta beyee jaanas andhar

( my body and my soul are filled with your love 

Beyee  pheur sontuk  vaav bahaar aav bahaar aav

( lo , the spring breeze moves past once more , once more the spring season is here)

Zamaanay pok na  hamdam toteiy kyaah guv.

( if the world is not with you , why worry , why turn sad )

Husanas  ta lolus  chha  kamee naazan ta niyazan

( beauty and love , never fall short of  delicacy and offering )

Ye kyaah gayyo me ta  tuss meul

( How beautiful was  our union )

Az  roaz saane dilbar myaane 

( stay tonight with me , my love my beloved )

Badaam folai laej badaamvaari

( The Badaamvaari garden is  full with almond blooms)

Gazlee thodh pahaan bahar vuchh zi hey, lol saazukaAssar vuchh zi he.

( had you put the gazal on higher pitch , you would have certainly got  the feel of   love’s music )

These popular  songs that these entered every Kashmiri household . Young and old cherished them . These songs were sung in marriages . They were sung in gatherings  . Illiterate women sang them doing daily chores . The Peasants , teachers , boatmen paddling in placid Dal lake  sang them . The traders , artisans, Babus , officers and  bureaucrats sat together in Mehfils to listen to the soul satisfying singing of this great artist. Some  singers tried  to  copy  his style .  The Kashmiri Pandit women would play Hikatt in Marriages singing his songs . Muslim women would sing his songs while performing Roff during festivities.


It goes to the credit of this great artist to have introduced his own  assembly of musical instrument in Kashmiri singing which came to be known as Chalant . Chalant became immediate success. Kashmiris found it a welcome change, a departure from the repetitive form that they were listening through the  traditional Chhakri singing  .Doolwal made liberal use of harmonium , flute , Tabla , Ektara , glasses , Teen Pyaala , Sarangi and banjo while singing in Chalant  style. To my surprise, I found Dr Khursheed Ahmed Bhat , husband of Alam Ara Janbaaz and son in law of  Ghulam Nabi Doolwal , also  an accomplished singer and a harmonium player. This is what Dr Khursheed Ahmed Bhat told me:-

 "While retaining some basic features of Kashmiri style of singing , Chalant has introduced melody of the Hindustaani Classical Music . Chalant is a Madhya Lai of singing with proper Sur , Taal and Chaal yet a singer while singing any Gazal in Chalant has to keep his breath continuous and uninterrupted and unfragmented unlike light music where a singer is free to sing in fragments . We can say that Chalant is a forceful melody presented with full devotion of mind and thought where a listener smells the feeling of spiritualism . So difficult is to sing Chalant  just like to win a wrestling . It is a well dressed presentation and has a definite musical format and design . You must listen “  Ha yaar mokhta  haar ( O friend ! My garland of pearls ) sung by Doolwal Sahib in Chalant style . It shall transport you to some other world."

This is what  Zubair Janbaaz ( engineer by profession ) son of Ghulam Nabi Doolwal told me :-

"Only 30 percent of what my father wrote as a poet appears in his Book "Pholvin Sangar  ". The rest is yet to be published. He was an affectionate father . My sisters Shamima Ji ,Zamruda Ji , Alam Ara Ji and Jahaan Ara Ji have profound knowledge of music and poetry though Alam Ara and Jahan Ara sing and are approved radio and television artists .Believe me when I say that music runs in our blood. " .

And Alam Ara Janbaaz added this to my knowledge about her father and the legendry singer Ghulam Nabi Doolwal and his family:-

" Our brother is also an accomplished singer . He is shy of singing on the stage. We love his musical sense . You must listen to his singing and style. As child, he would accompany his Abba Ji who also encouraged him to sing and play some musical instruments. I remember some closest friends and admirers of Abba Ji were Kashmiri Pandits. Abba Ji’s  's popularity touched its zenith during the Jashn e Kashmir festival organised by Bakshi Sahib. He was praised by Begum Akhtar Sahiba liberally. Some of his intimate friends with whom he shared his pain and happiness were late Abdul Gani Zargar from Kishtwar , Master Sona ullah teacher ( he also played banjo in his troupe), Ghulam Nabi Ahangar , Sham Ji ( brother of Miss Mehmooda Ahmed Ali Shah, ), Dr Bashir ul Haq from Raithan, Budgam Kashmir and many more . I do not remember many names at this moment. ."

 I am also informed by many lovers of this artist that he got a rough deal from establishment in terms of recognition of his music and poetry .It was only a bureaucrat Parvez Dewan( IAS ) who pooled all his efforts in ensuring grant of the much deserved recognition in the shape of Governor's Award to this artist . I am informed that Parvez Dewan has even translated a good number of poems from his book " Pholvin Sangar”

Doolwal  or Jaanbaaz Kishtwari , The  Poet

Though Doolwal wrote poetry in a prolific style and he could have sung only his compositions , it goes to the greatness of this artist that he sang almost all other Kashmiri poets . If he sang Tassavuf he also sang love songs .He never projected the poet in him while singing in Mehfils . Some of the most popular songs composed by Doolwal belong to Rassa Javidani , Rehman Rahi ,Margoob Banihali , Dina Nath Nadim and Mehjoor. He is certainly ‘Progressive’ though he never belonged to the Marxist School in the strict sense of the word  as understood in Urdu poetic circles. He also wrote some of the beautiful Naats in Kashmiri .I quote  some verses composed by him :-

(Gusst taa valie valie vaav myaaniss mahjabeenas van salaam.
Dil  pareshaan chhum gomutt shaah e madeenas van salaam.)

(Naavan Chhaa farak matalab chhu kunuyee
Maanun tse peyee sahib chhu kunuyee)

He firmly believed in Massavaat or equality of mankind . I quote:-

(Oonch Neech Maa Chhu Ravaa ,
Ittehaaduk yee chhu Mudaa
Assal kuthh Tarriy naa fikri
Kuthh Chha vanaan Massawaat
Naazneen yaar Myaani yee chhu Mulaqaat.

Zoonie laggi choonie jaraan
Az pagaah taetti gharr ti karan
Jaanbaaz yetti chhi vachhaan
Vini ti panein zaat paat
Naazneen yaar myaani yi chhu mulaqaat.)

If Abdul Ahaad Azaad wrote Bata-koor ( Kashmiri Pandit Girl ) and Mehjoor wrote Greis-koor ( The Village Girl ) Doolwal also wrote Musalmaan-koor ( A Muslim Girl ). I quote some lines from this poem:-

(Vatan pakh tse phokh dith musalmaan koorie
Yeh chhuyee khor daalaan tse shaitaan koorie.)

One composition that I have heard from a private collector is also impressive. The poet appeals to almighty like this :-

( Inaayat kar  ta az parvardigaara
Yeh daaman bhar ta az parvardigaara
Seythaa vodh-bhav chhu logmut  kafan tsooran
Raeneimut jaama mastooran ta hooran
Ye anigott sar ta az parvardigaara .)

His love song are a treat . I quote:-

(Yin sa  chashmunn sreh karakh
Sahlaab anaham yavanas
Yin saa vosh traavakh lageim
Mohabbat toofanas  taawanas .)


                                                    ( Doolwal singing in a Marriage )

                                         ( Dr Khursheed Ahmed Bhat in white Pyjamas )

                                                     ( Doolwal with his Peer Sidd Sahib)      
                                                                 ( Zubair Janbaaz )   
Another popular song composed by Doolwal  and sung by  Ghulam Hassan Sofi became quite popular in the Kashmir valley .I quote :-

(Zamaanai pokk na humdum totee kyaah guvv.
Tamiss gai zulf barham totee kyaah guvv.
Guszsee nai  saaf  dil  dittah laaf saasa,
Naatiev chettah aab e zum zum totee kyaah guvv.)

 Is he not eligible for a Padama-shri award posthumously ? Can we not remember him in any manner ?

“ Hum khastaa Tanon se mohatsibon
Kyaa maal o manaal ka poochhtay ho
Jo umar se hum ne bhar paaya
sab saamnay laaye daitein hain.
Daaman me hai musht e khaak e jigar ,
Saagar me hai khoon e hasarat e mai,
Lo hum ne Daaman Jhaarr diya ,
Lo jaam ultaaye deitein hain”…………………( Faiz Ahmed Faiz ).

(We are the enfeebled ,
What is there to ask about our assets , O censors ?
All that life has proffered us ,
we are holding up for scrutiny:
In the hem , a handful of Heart's dust ,
In the goblet, the blood of yearning 's wine .
look , here we empty our hem,
and here we upturn the wine glass)

( Avtar Mota )


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