Wednesday, April 30, 2014




Photographs by Autar Mota ( April 2014 )

“ Good Morning .Please be in queue and wait. You shall now be going inside the LOTUS TEMPLE or the BAHAI”S HOUSE OF WORSHIP. Please switch off your mobile phones . Please keep silence . Be seated inside and you are at liberty to pray in your own way. No eatables inside . Please do not drop any waste . ” So said the Bahai Volunteer outside the Lotus Temple .

As usual with me , I try to seek some exclusive time from him for clarification of my doubts about the Bahai faith . The volunteer suggests me to visit the Information centre located opposite to the Temple . He also directs me to a lady who is kind and courteous. She assures to reply all my queries and starts as under …

“This Temple is one amongst seven Bahai Worship centres across the world . We do not give any sermons or lectures inside the Temple. This Temple was designed by renowned Iranian American Architect FARIBURZ SAHBA who is a Bahai . Mr Sahba has also designed the new Town of Mahshahr in Iran . He lives in USA presently.The temple was started in 1980 and was completed in 1986. This temple complex is spread on a 27 acre plot that was purchased by us in 1953. Kalka ji was a jungle at that point of time. The Lotus temple is about 34 metres in height and the hall inside has a seating capacity for 1300 persons . The concrete lotus has 27 massive petals with 9 water pools around its base . No rituals are permitted inside the hall . Bahai worship houses are nine sided. Nine symbolizes oneness and unity . After nine you have ten that is duality . we believe in the highest unity that is represented by number nine.”

Feeling comfortable and encouraged , I start my questions

“ What is Bahai Faith all about ? ”

“ Bahai is an Independent Religion that originated from Shiraz in Persia ( Iran ) around 1844 . BAB was our first spiritual leader . He was persecuted and finally martyred in 1850.. For us all Religious Prophets and messengers were sent by one god only. We respect and love all prophets of all the faiths . We believe in oneness of the Human race .Bahai faith is all embracing in scope . It is humanitarian in its principles. We believe in unity of mankind .There are three central spiritual figures of our faith (1 ) BAB ( 1819-1850 ) (2) BAHA ULLAH ( 1817-1892 ) and ( 3) ABDU’L BAHA ( 1844- 1921 ). Our holy shrines are located in HAIFA and AKKA in ISRAEL where our spiritual messengers are buried .Bahai Temples have now come up in Uganda , Samoa , Australia , USA and Germany . ”

“What is the core message of the faith ?”

“ Good ! we believe in oneness and unity of Mankind and Religions . We believe in unity of God and unity in diversity .We believe that truth needs independent investigation . We believe in harmony between science and religion. We believe in equality of men and women and elimination of all types of prejudices. We believe in universal compulsory Education and adoption of a universal auxiliary language . We believe in abolition of poverty and extreme wealth . We believe in Glorification of justice as the ruling principle in Human society .We also believe that service to Needy Humanity is nothing less than worship of almighty . We do not want wars . We believe in the Institution of WORLD TRIBUNAL for adjudication of disputes between nations .And Bahais have no political aims .We believe in strict obedience to the Government of one’s country . I need to add that Fanaticism is forbidden in our faith. Gambling , Rituals ,backbiting , gossip , Alcohal , Mendicant /Ascetic lifestyles , pre martial and Extra martial sex is strictly forbidden . Since we believe in unity of mankind , we encourage inter racial marriages . ”

“Do you remember any quote from your Religious Text or Texts ? ”

“ Quote ? Okay Okay ! I remember a quote of Baha Ullah.. It goes as under …..
… “It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country but rather to him who loveth the whole world . The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens”

“ What is the numerical strength of Bahais world over and India in particular ? ”

“ With in a period of 170 years , about 8 million Bahais have established themselves in more than 300 countries world over. The Bahai population in India has crossed 2 million figure at the moment . They live in all states and in all the zones of the country . Our efforts are focused towards keeping them free from caste and class prejudice, gender inequality, illiteracy, violence, poverty, and moral degradation. In patriotism and love for the land of their birth , they are second to none. The Bahais in India are free to wear any dress. You can see Bahai women wearing traditional sarees or shilwar kameez and men wearing kurta Pyjaama  .”

I thank her for the information . As I get up to move , she gives me a small booklet which has some quotes from Bahai spiritual master Abdu’l Baha . Hurrying towards the exit , I read some . I add a few to this post …

“Love is light in whatsoever house it may shine and enmity is darkness in whatsoever abode it dwell.”

God has created His servants in order that they may love and associate with each other. He has revealed the glorious splendor of His sun of love in the world of humanity.The cause of the creation of the phenomenal world is love.
Love gives life to the lifeless. Love lights a flame in the heart that is cold. Love brings hope to the hopeless and gladdens the hearts of the sorrowful.
What a power is love! It is the most wonderful, the greatest of all living powers.

You are telling me to lie and bear false witness. Do with me as you please; I will not turn my back on what is right.

( Autar Mota 30.04.2014 )
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Monday, April 28, 2014




Photo Autar Mota

Wherever they be , Kashmiri Pandits have performed the Yonyaa or yagneopavit ceremony of their children without fail . Even those who moved out from the valley during the Dark days of Afghan rule , remained steadfast in performance of this SAMASKARA for their male children .

Yagneopavit or Mekhala or Yonyaa ( in Kashmiri ) is an important religious ceremony or samaskara for the male child in kashmiri Pandit families . It is a religious ceremony that traces its roots to Vedic period . Traditionally, the ceremony was performed to mark the point at which boy began his formal education or the study of Brahman or the Vedas. Once the Yagneopavit or sacred thread ceremony is completed , the person is supposed to wear the yonyaa or Janew till his death to remain conscious about six debts . Arya samaj endorses this ceremony for girl child as well.

A somewhat similar ceremony known as Kusti or Koshti is performed by Parsi Zoroastrians . Kusti or koshti is the sacred girdle worn by Zoroastrians around their waists. Kushti is part of the ritual dress of the Zoroastrians.

About the Debts of a man in this world , I need to add a brief anecdote .

I happened to know late Shri B N Kaul Nazir( 1920 – 1994 ) . He was also known as Baba Bhai Ji . Baba Baiji was a married man devoted to his family , A senior officer in CSIR ‘s Drug Research Laborotary Jammu , a thinker and philosopher as well. I knew him since 1990 when I worked as Assistant Manager at Canal Road branch of our Bank . Bearded with spectacles , a man with some spiritual aura , he would drop in for Banking work and come straight to me . He would talk less , look around , smile and put his hand over my Head while leaving .One day I put a question to him..

“ Capt C K Sharma , My Manager was telling me that you have told him something about the Debts of a man in this world. He appears to be disturbed since that day . What did you tell him ?”

“ Yes I went to him as you were on leave . I found him quite helpful to the people in distress especially people who have come to Jammu after the turmoil in Kashmir valley . I told him that every man needs to repay his debts in this world . By debts I do not mean the money or financial debts ”
“ What debts then ? ”
“Every person who is born in this world is under Debt . Till a man gets married , he has only three types of Debts that need to be constantly serviced . The Parental debt or PITRA RIN , the religious teacher’s debt or RISHI RIN and The teacher ‘s Debt or GURU RIN .”

“ Which is the greatest Debt ? ”

“ PITRA RIN or The Parental Debt . And out of this debt ,the mother’s debt or MATRA RIN is colossal . It can never be repaid . Nor is it to be repaid financially alone . I  also tried to  repay this ocean like debt with a simple bucket in my hand . How could  I fill up  the ocean ? Is  this life enough  to repay this debt ? I weep at this idea . Any failure in servicing this debt is like disgracing the creator . Those who ignore servicing this debt fall in the category of disgracers . May be they are servicing other debts . ”

“ What are other Debts ?”

“ I told you about other two debts that is the debt to the GURU ( Teacher who imparts Education ) and the debt to the RISHI ( Religious Saint ). There are three more debts that need to be serviced by a man once he gets married . The debt to his wife , the debt to the society and the debt to his children . All these add up to make total six debts . Do not marry if you can not service the debts to your wife and children . So is the debt to the society supreme .A man has to be conscious of these six Debts . That is why kashmiri Pandits  have remained steadfast in  performing
 the YONYAA or JANEW or YAGNEOPAVIT of Children .
 The three strands  (Truu  Lorr )  of  the Yonyaa that a child wears ,keep him reminded about servicing the three debts . And when he marries , he wears six strands ( Shuu Lorr ) to keep in mind the servicing of all the six debts ”.

"How many strands should a Janew or yonyaa have  ? "

"Apart from the basic common feature of conveying the Brahmupdesha (revealing the nature of Brahman, the Ultimate Reality) and initiation to the Gayatri Mantra through Yagneopavit or Upanayana ceremony of the child , the number of strands in the janew or yonyaa and the underlying interpretation of each strand varies according to the area and community culture in the country . Some communities wear a Yonyaa or janew made of six strands , some with nine and some wear a janew or yonyaa  of even thirteen strands . ”.

After the Death of Shri B N Kaul Nazir , I came to know that he had a dedicated group of friends and admirers in the state that included Ghulam Qadir Ganderbali .,Shri Hamid Raina , Dr Zargar , Shri Saif Ud Din Mirza , Kanwar Rajinder Singh Rana , Prof P N Dhar , Shri Satya Bhushan Aggarwal , Shri M L Sapru , Shri M L Munshi and many more.


Na Takhto Taaj mein Na lashkar o sipaah mein hai
Jo Baat Mard e Qalandhar ki Baar gaah mein hai

( Autar Mota 28.04.2014 )

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Thursday, April 24, 2014




You find a new meaning to the below mentioned  lines of Kabir if you  deal the opening line  a little differently....

" Gagan ki aut nissaana hai bhai...
Maaryo baan ghaav nahin tan mein, 
Jin laaga tin jaana hai bhai 
Kahe Kabir suno bhai sadho, 
Jin jaana tin maana hai bhai...." 

My  English rendering would be.....

" Brother, 
The target  is hidden up above the skies..
From there, the arrow struck me
And  Look,  there is no  wound anywhere on this body.
Those who are struck, 
they know it.
" O Travelers ! Those who know it,
they alone agree to it."
So says Kabir.

Does the sky represent detachment in its infinite form ?  Through rains, sunlight,  clouds, air and atmosphere, the sky is organically connected to  the earth yet totally detached from it. Given the  freedom of choice, like vapour or air or  smoke ,everything on this earth  would  rise up and up  and reach the ultimate target. The target  is up above and  beyond the seen objects .It can be  reached  only after passing and crossing  the  bridge of detachment .In this journey, the  pull of  the   detachment   helps to gain altitude to come closer and closer to the target. The target is somewhere beyond zero gravity area.

 Through this detachment, the mind  tends to touch the target hidden up above .Those who are struck by detachment  know where it takes them. And those know it , have understood that this is the only way forward towards the target. 

Those who live by 'BE IN IT AND BE ABOVE IT' doctrine , say it loudly that only  a  ' SUKSHMA ' has the capacity and capability to rise  and move up and up towards the target. And unburdening is the only way out to become' SUKSHMA'. And Unberdening  is the the secret of ' the practitioners of ' Be in it and be above it ' doctrine? 

Is the  vastness, inaccessibility,  consonance, and  continuance of the  sky  a great attraction  towards  understanding of the nature of  ultimate reality ? 

Any other explanation ( to the above mentioned  lines  of Kabir) is welcome...

(Avtar Mota)


Word Sukshma used by me will be better understood in context of Kabir's lines  once we read  its usage  in Jain scriptures as well. And the reference is not to 'SUKSHMA SHAREERA only  but more importantly to  SUKSHMA CHITA .



 “ Kashmiri Afsaane or Anthology kashmiri short stories .”
ISBN 978-81-237-4176-5

Published By National Book Trust India
Nehru Bhawan ,
5 Institutional Area
Phase II,Vasant Kunj
New Delhi

Edited by Mohd Zamaan Azurda
Urdu Translation of Stories by Bashir Akhtar
Price Rs70/-

I purchased the Book recently from Book seller in CP New Delhi . This is the third print of the Book done in 2013 . The book has been initially published in 2004.

The Book almost covers all the leading names amongst kashmiri short story writers . The variety of kashmiri short stories included in the Book gives the readrer a grand peep into kashmiri society and culture . The writers included in the Book are Akhtar Mohi Ud din ,Amin Kamil , Autar Krishen Rehbar , Ghulam Rasool Santosh , Bansi Nirdosh ,Taj Begum Renzu ,Deepak Kaul , Dina Nath Naadim ( Jawaabi Card ),Rattan Lal Shant , Rasool Pampori , Som Nath Zutshi , Sham Lal Sadhu , Shams Ud din Shamim ,Sofi Gh. Mohd , Aziz Haroon , Ali Mohd Lone , Gh Nabi Baba , Gh Nabi Shakir , Farooq Masoodi , Mohd Zamaan Azurda , Noor Mohd Roshan,Hriday Kaul Bharti and Hari Krishen Kaul. 
I believe that short stories written by Umesh kaul , Shanker Raina, Gulshan Majeed, Ghulam Hassan Taskeen , Iqbal Faheem and many more  names should have also been in this collection . That would have been a Bonus and  a great variety for the reader . Nonetheless I salute the editor and the translator for this great effort .  My best wishes and special thanks  to the  translator  in particular (who himself happens to be a noted kashmiri writer ) for having done  a beautiful job . My  thanks to NBT India  also for making this  book available to readers  at a price that is unbelievable .

Friends who can read urdu, must read these stories . . I have also written to NBT India to publish the Book in  English and Hindi ( After  Translation )   for a vast section of readers ( Not familiar with Urdu ) in the country who continue to remain unfamiliar with the trend and style of contemporary kashmiri short story. 
Can you please join me in conveying similar feelings to Director National Book Trust India ?... Pl quote ISBN 978-81-237-4176-5….

( Autar Mota 24.04.2014 )

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Monday, April 21, 2014



  (Photographs  Autar Mota  April 2014)


When I heard this Kabir Bhajan in its soulful rendering by Pandit Kumar Gandharva , I was convinced that it was not merely a Farmer’s song as generally believed . Apparently a song that advises a farmer to get up and look after his farm , save rain water as dark clouds were moving fast from west and rain was expected anytime. As I read the lyrics repeatedly , deeper and deeper turned up interpretation of the lines .

Kabir’s “GAGAN GHATA GEHRAANI ” or “ The sky is Getting overcast with black clouds ” is a powerful combination of words , symbols and the Philosophy of “Naam Japa ” ( Meditating with Recitation of Name ).
And in my quest for knowledge, , I found that the practice of "" NAAM JAPA ""existed in all cultures and across all religions of the world. Quit often I would come across many Elderly Muslims with a Rosary in hand reciting “ ALLAH ALLAH ” or at times reciting silently other 99 beautiful names of the almighty Allah .
The rosary beads keep physical count of the number of times the name has been recited . I found Bhudhist , Sikhs , Christians reciting name of the almighty in similar manner . In fact one of the three pillars of Sikhism is the “Naam Japo” ( Contemplate Creator’s name ) apart from Kirat karo ( work diligently ) and Vand Chakho ( share with others ).
With Rosary beads in their hands ,the devout Bhudhist keeps reciting “ Om Mani Padme Hum .“  And many Devout christian keep reciting "haleluya/halaluya" ( Praise the Lord )..

And  then kabir lays Great emphasis on keeping mind totally focused during NAAM JAPA meditation.
He adds :

Kabira Maala Kaath Ki, Kahi Samjhave Tohee

Mun Na Phiravey Aapna, Kaha Phiravey Mohee

( kabir )
The rosary made of wooden beads openly tries to teach you

“In case you do not move your mind in focused attention ,

Why keep moving me unnecessarily .”
Moond Munddavat Din Gaye, Ajhun Na Miliya Raam

Raam Naam Kahu Kya Karey, Je Man Ke Aurey Kaam

( Kabir )
Years have passed after shaving the head

But still Ram is nowhere to be seen .

What shall the recitation of “ Ram Rama ” do
When the mind is focused elsewhere ?

Mala to kar Mein Phiray Jeeb Phiray Mukh Maahi

Manuvaa to Dahu Dish Phiray Yeh to sumiran Naahi

( Kabir )
The Rosary beads move in the hand

While the tongue keeps moving in the mouth .

The mind is busy moving in ten directions around ,
This is not the way to meditate upon God’s Name ( Naam Japa ) ?

To me , My mother would often say :

“ What has happened to you ? You do not go to the Temple nor you join the religious rituals seriously . Growing up does not mean forgetting Almighty . Okay let it be your way . But what harm is in reciting the name of the Creator ? Be thankful to your real father or creator. Can’t you meditate simply by reciting ..”Hare Ram Hare Ram Ram Ram Hare Hare, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare” ..You can even simply sit down , keep your legs crossed , close your eyes and say “ Ram ,Ram ” at least 108 times a day in one go .That much is enough . Do you know that Dacoit Ratnakara became Valmiki Rishi by reciting “RAMA RAMA ” only. Ratnakara began reciting “ MARA MARA ” which gradually changed to “RAMA RAMA ” . Just recitation of words “ RAMA RAMA ” transformed a Hardcore dacoit to Mahirishi Valmiki who later wrote Ramayana . ”

This is how my mother introduced the concept of “NAAM JAPA “ to me during my school days.
Coming to The Poem under discussion , The above lines of Kabir convey the swiftness with which Life keeps moving . And then the spin of the Kaal Chakra ( Wheel of the Time ) throwing up a lot of uncertainty .Anything expected anytime . Shall time wait for us to get up and act ? May be our inaction allows many things to slip away and go waste . So why not get up and take care of our field or farm. There is an imperative need to Fence it . Allow protective creepers to grow around it so that no Deer or Tempting animal slips in . Four guards too need to be kept properly at four corners of the field to ward off unwanted intruders . Frequent removal of weeds and wild growth shall keep us focused on the crop alone .And then the sowing , harvesting and carrying the grains back home is bound to finally complete our farming assignment. Isn’t kabir’s farming field comparable to our existence ?

The four guards that kabir repeatedly mentions in his various verses are the four stages of life explained in Hindu philosophy . These are called "varna-Ashramas" and every man is ideally expected to go through each of these stages .  Hindus believe  that Every man is ideally expected to go through  these four stages in his life . These are "Brahmacharya" or the Student Stage , "Grihastha" or the Householder Stage, "Vanaprastha" or the intermediary stage of withdrawing  by transferring duties and responsibilities to Children   and  finally "Sanyaasa" or  renunciation and Total devotion to creator by moving away from the family  .

Hindus  consider life as fulfillment and harmonizing of four main motives which are Kaama ( Pleasure and desire ), Artha ( Material well being ), Dharma ( Righteousness, duty and order) and Moksha ( spiritual Liberation and For them , these four basic aims of life are “Purusharthas”.

Paanch sakhi or Five friends are always tempting us in every path . Five senses and five enemies create Maaya Jaal ( Cobweb of Illusions ) or put veil over our vision . Five enemies or thieves listed by kabir repeatedly are kaam ( Lust ) , krodh ( anger ), lobh ( Greed ) , moh ( Attachmnt ) or Ahankaar ( ego ). He also favours exercise of strict control over five senses . These senses relate to sight , hearing, smell, taste and touch . Kabir believes that these five come to us disguised as friends . According to him Great sages and learned men too could not keep them away. Kabir also uses Deer symbolically in his verses . A deer is a demon like Ravana of Sri lanka who appeared in disguise to lure Sita .

Kabir has also used the word “ AVADHOOT ” repeatedly in his verses . He has again used this word in the poem under discussion. And Avadhoot is not to be confused with word SAINT.

As I understand it , An Avadhoot is a totally unattached person who is free from narrow sectarian needs and vision . He has risen much higher in thought and deeds and in a way he looks like a child to people around him. He has also crossed the time barrier and as such appears to be not conscious of the present world around him. He roams free from any bondage . His acts are pure and innocent . He is free from Ego , free from desires and is always focused on supreme reality .

Avadhoot is surely a realized human and his actions on this earth do not bind him to the karma principle of cause and effect.

I add the Poem or the Nirgun Bhajan and its simple english rendering done by me …


"Avadhoota Gagan Ghata Geharani Re .
Pachm Disa Se Ulti Badali,
Rum Jhum Barse Meha
Utho Gyaani Khet Sambharo
Behe Nisrega Pani
Nirat Surat Ke Bel Banaawo,
Beeja Bovo Nij Dhani
Dubadhya Doob Jaman Nahi Pawe,
Bovo Naam Ki Dhaani
Charon Kone Chaar Rakhwale,
Chug Na Jaawe Mrig Dhani
Katya Khet Meenda Ghar Laawe,
Jaaki Puran Kisani
Paanch Sakhi Mil Kare Rasoi
Jeehme Muni Aur Gyani
Kahe Kabir Suno Bhai Sadho
Bovo Naam Ki Dhani
Avadhoota Gagan Ghata Geharani Re"

( kabir )

This is how I understand this Nirguna Bhajan....

(O unattached being,
the sky is getting overcast with dark clouds ,
returning from west,
these rain laden clouds have started pouring droplets.
O learned man !
Time is moving fast,
get up and look after your field
else the water shall soon drain itself out .
Grow protective creepers using your sight and sound faculties ,
pay attention to the voice within ,
scatter the seeds of the self-grain ,
allow no wild plant of misgiving to set In.

Sow the grain of Naam (Naam Japa ),
the Artha,
the kaama,
the Dharma
and the Moksha
place them as  four guards around the four corners of the field .
Drive away the deer of Maya from eating away the grain crop , 
and carry back the harvested crop to the master’s house to complete your farming .

Look ! how five friends( kaam ,Krodh ,Lobh Moh and Ahankara ) are cooking ,
the sages and the learned men are also busy in eating .
Says Kabir, listen you seeker ,
"Hurry up to sow the grain of Naam ( Naam Japa )

( Avtar Mota)

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Reading Nikola Vaptsarov “ once again. Nikola Vaptsarov (1909-1942 ) was an Incredible National Poet of Bulgaria. Bulgarians love and adore him. I am Informed by a friend that many streets, Roads and Buildings in Bulgaria are named after him. He was a frontline leader in the communist Movement of Bulgaria apart from being a gifted revolutionary poet . Vaptsarov earned his living by working as a machine Engineer on a naval Ship and also as a Mechanic in a factory . He never published his poetry during his lifetime . It was all published after his Death.
During the second world ( 1939-1945 ) war especially after the entry of German forces into Bulgaria , he was caught , tried summarily and executed by the Nazi forces for his beliefs .

He wrote poetry after his factory hours .His poem HISTORY is my all time favourite . In this poem, the Poet seeks no rewards for poor factory workers or labourers. He is deeply touched by their struggle and hard life . He puts a simple question ; Shall they figure anywhere in the
History Books ? And then he wants that posterity should know at least that these Hapless and poor people also fought against the cruelty of the existence . I quote the specific lines ..

‘History, will you mention us
In your faded scroll?’
‘We fattened you with news,
And slaked your thirst so richly,
With the blood of slaughtered crowds?’
‘Was it a life worth noting,
A life worth digging up?
Unearthed, it reeks of poison,
Tastes bitter in the cup.’
For the hardship and affliction
We do not seek rewards,
Nor do we wan ^t our pictures
In the calendar of years.
Just tell our story simply
To those we shall not see,
Tell those who will replace us –
We fought courageously.

His Poem ‘ FACTORY ’ also concludes with a powerful message
You, factory,
Still seek to blind us
With smoke and soot,
Layer on layer.
In vain! For you teach us to struggle.
We’ll bring
The sun
Down to us here.So many
toil-blackened faces
Under your tyranny smart.
But one heart within you tirelessly
Beats with a thousand hearts.
Nikola Vaptsarov was an optimist and had an everlasting faith in life . His belief is substantiated by his poem FAITH . I quote …
(Faith )
Here am I-breathing, Working,
Living And Writing my poetry
(My best to it giving). Life and I glower
Across at each other, and with it I struggle
with all my power Life and I quarell,
But don't draw the moral That I despise it.
No, just the opposite! Though I should perish,
Life with its brutal Claws of steel
Still I would cherish, Still I would cherish!
Suppose round my neck they tie fast
The rope And they ask:
'Would you like one more hour to live?'
I would instantly cry:
Come, quickly untie
The rope, you devils!'

Vaptsarov was arrested tried summarily for his beliefs and then executed by the Nazi firing squad on 23rd July, 1942. I add lines from his last poem “On Parting ” written just before his execution. He has addressed the poem to his wife in quite a moving tone .
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. – 23.07.1942

( Autar Mota 21.04.2014 )
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                (Ganga Aarti at Varanasi)                                                                 

                          (  Tented Accommodation on Sandy Banks of River Ganga Near Rishikesh.)




River Ganga covers a distance of more than 2500 kms in India . Not just another river that carries water down from the Gangotri Glacier in Upper Himalayas, the Ganga ( also Known as Bhagirathi up above Devprayag) is a symbol of India’s civilization and Culture . Many small streams or large rivers join the  great GANGA in its downward journey . Some major tributaries joining the Ganga  directly or indirectly could be named as Yamuna , Chambal , Ghagra , Gandhak , Kosi , Mahananda and Son .

  River Ganga is India’s ecological, economic, cultural and spiritual life line. For thousands of years, it has brought fertility to our land  and continuously sustained life  by creating innumerable human settlements all along its banks .  Man is humbled by its magnificence . He expresses his gratitude by  worshipping  it as life giver and  divine mother . And  it is a pleasure to see the expression of this gratitude visible everyday at the evening Ganga Aarti  ceremony held at  Varanasi  ,Haridwar  or  Rishikesh .  In Varanasi, the  Ganga Aarti ceremony is  held every evening at the Dasashwamedh Ghat .It is  the most spectacular  ceremony   performed  close to  Kashi Vishwanath Temple.This Aarti is a grand prayer for universal peace and  human prosperity held  by recitation of Vedic Mantras and lighting  lamps to dispel darkness.

River Ganga is loved by people across the religious divide.  Kabir and  river Ganga are inseparable . I know how much Shehnai player , Ustaad Bismillah Khan loved the   Ganga. He would always say ‘Ganga Maiya ‘ or ‘Mother Ganga’ .  My list of  the Ganga lovers is too long. Let me name some prominent  people in this category ; I mean people like like Conard Rooks ( Film Maker )  , Annie Besant , poet Sahir Ludhianavi , poet Suryakant Tripathi Nirala,  poet  Gopal Das Neeraj ,  Bangla poet Kazi Nazrul Islam , poet Raghupati Sahai Firaq Gorakhpuri ,  poet Ali Sardar Jafri ,  Dr. Rahi Masoom Raza ,  Gurudev Tagore, Mother Teresa , Pandit Ravi Shanker ,  Girija Devi (  classical singer ), Channu Lal Mishra ( classical singer ) ,Siddeshwari Devi ( classical singer ) , Jaishanker Prasad ( Hindi writer ), Munshi Prem Chand ( writer ). Mohammad Shahid ( Hockey player ) , poet  Harivansh Rai Bachan  , poet  Mahadevi  Verma , Ram Kumar ( artist ). Samta Prasad ( Tabla player ) , Birju Maharaj ( Kathak maestro ) , Mark Twain ( American author ), Prince Charles ,George Harrison ( Beatles ), His Holiness Dalai Lama , Actor Amitabh Bachan  and many more . Right from Jawahar Lal Nehru to NarInder Modi, every prime minister of India has been or is a lover of the  Ganga  .  I know for certain that the list could be endless.  Let me   add  one more name to this list.  Some of us may not be knowing the name of Sheikh Muhammad Hazin .

Sheikh  Muhammad  Ali Hazin ( 1692-1766 ) was an Iranian poet and scholar during Safavid  rule.  When Afghans invaded  and  ransacked   Isfahan , many Sufis and scholars from Iran  migrated to India .  Sheikh Ali Hazin  also decided to leave his country and settle in India . He came to Delhi. He must have stayed in Delhi for about three  or four years when , in 1739, Nadir Shah   ransacked  the city  and  brought untold misery and suffering upon its residents . Sheikh Ali Hazin  moved to Benaras and settled permanently in this  city . He was fascinated by river  Ganga and the  culture of this holy city .He wrote poems in praise of river  Ganga , Benaras and  its residents .  I quote a Persian couplet  of Sheikh Ali Hazin:

"Az Banaras na rawam maabad e aam ast een ja
Har brahman pesray Lakshman o Ram ast een ja"

 To me , An elderly Kashmiri Pandit clarified the meaning of this Persian couplet as under :

“ I shall not leave Bernaras  because this whole city is a place of worship. And why it shouldn’t be so  when every Brahmin boy  is either  Sri  Rama or Lakshmana .”

Poet Mirza Assadullah Khan Ghalib has  been a lover of the  Ganga and Kashi. Chiraag e Dair (The Temple's lamp) is a Persian Mathanavi   written by him   in praise of  the city of Benaras   and the Ganga  . Ghalib believes  the river  at Benaras as the place for man's  ultimate salvation and freedom . The Mathanavi has 108  couplets .   Number 108  finds mention in various ancient religious texts  of the Hindus .The Ganga river too  has  108 names duly   mentioned  in various ancient texts .  Ghalib appears to be conscious of the sacredness  and  importance of  this number  .
  According to Ghalib 

“  Ganga is  like a mother to Hindus. She nurtures, gives life, dispenses grace, must be worshipped and ultimately takes you back in the form of your ashes. ”

 Let me end this brief post with lines from a song that poet   Sahir Ludhinavi wrote  in praise of the Ganga:

“Kitaney suraj ubharey-duubey ganga tere dwaare ,
 Yugon-yugon ki katha sunaayein tere behtay dhaare 
 Tujh-ko chhod ke Bhaarat ka itihaas likha na jaaye..

Ganga Tera Paani Amrit ……”

 In March 2017, the Uttarakhand High Court declared the Ganga to be a living entity, conferring on it the  legal rights of a  human being.

Next time more on river Ganga...., 

( Avtar Mota )

Friday, April 11, 2014



                                            ( Photo source . Wikipedia Veil or Ghoongat  )

(Do away with your veil ( illusion ) and you shall meet your beloved ( Divine Lord ) ”

When Bulo C Rani , Talented Film Music Director and singer of yesteryears ( Died 1993 ) was advised by Kedar Sharma ( Film Director ) to compose Music for the above Bhajan for his movie JOGAN , He brought in Geeta Dutt ( Roy ) to sing it in her Moving voice . The Bhajan turned instant Hit. The Movie was a box office hit of 1950 that earned a hefty net amount of 62 Lakhs for the producer Chandu Lal Shah . Through Geeta Dutt ’s ( Roy ) voice , these immortal words of kabir spread to the entire length and breadth of the country .
Lately , I heard these words once more ; Playback singer Sukhvinder sang this Kabir Bhajan with A R Rehman’s music for “ RANJHANA” ( A 2013 Hindi Movie ). The movie broke many previous records at the Box office .

It is pertinent to clarify that this is not a Meera Bhajan as generally  believed   . The words belong to Kabir .

Adds Well Known German Multi-instrumentalist Prem Joshua

“I fell in love with the words of Meera and Kabir after I got to understand their deeper meaning. I really felt like putting that onto contemporary music. My knowledge of Hindi is limited, but I got some really good English translations of their work which helped me understand their poetry . Kabir is a Great Philosophy . I love the lines “ Ghoongat Ke Pat Khol ”.We brought two great songs to our Album ; one “Aissi laagi Lagan by Meera and the second “ Ghoongat Ke Pat Khol “ by Kabir .


Ghoongat is a veil or a Headscarf worn by ladies to cover their head and face . The practice is still prevalent in rural areas and also in some joint families. Those who wear a sari, make Ghoongat from its one end to cover their face and head . It is a mark of respect for elders ( males ) by the woman who are supposed to follow this practice .
The Veil or Ghoongat that kabir is talking about is a bigger Ghoongat or The veil of ignorance . Unless the covering from the face is removed and eyes are made to see freely , the glimpse of the beloved can never be had. Never by peeping from within the veil. Never by removing the veil partly .

Kabir repeatedly talks about five impediments that put a veil on human beings or create a Maaya Jaal for them. He believes that the five impediments that veil us are Kaam ( Lust ) , Krodh ( Anger ) , Lobh ( Greed ) , Moh ( Attachment ) and Ahankaar ( Ego ). According to him the illusory veil made from these five threads has to be done away with to set the mind free . That alone shall help in seeking our reunion with the beloved . That alone shall clear all impediments  and set the mind free . Kabir believes that those who did it , may be one in a lakh or even lesser , finally realized that the colour of the blood that flows in the veins of human beings on this planet is only Red. Yes just one colour like the supreme master who too is a single entity . Kabir adds that Once the Veil or the Ghoongat is removed , the unstruck music within that keeps chiming day and night can be listened with delight. .

Here goes the original Kabir Bhajan with my simple English rendering

"Ghoonghat ke pat khol re,
Toko peev mileingay.

Ghat ghat mein wah saain ramataa,
katuk vachan mat bol re.
Dhan Joban kaa garva na keejai,
Jhoothaa *Panch Rang Chol re.

Shoonya Mahal mein diyanaa baari le,
Aasaa se mat dol re.
Yog yugati se Rang Mahal mein,
Peev Paayo Anamol re.

Kahai Kabir Aanand Bhayo hai,
Baajat *Anahata Dhol Re.”

(Kabir )

“Do away with your veil ( illusion )
And you shall meet your beloved ( Divine lord )
The lord resides in every living Creature ,
Why speak ill words against any one ?
Flaunt not this wealth and your Youth,
Deceptive is your Drum music that carries five notes.

Shake off not your hope ,
Light a lamp within and illuminate
this Palace like vacant space .
In the Colourful Palace within ,
You can meet your priceless beloved only
By Perfecting the Skill of meditation .

Kabir says by this practice ,
You attain supreme bliss
That keeps the inner music Chiming day and night .

(Autar Mota 09.04.2014 )


• Paanch Rang Chol … Kabir Frequently makes mention of FIVE in his verses . For him this Five is deeply connected with our body and being . Again as per Hindu scriptures , Human body is composed of Panch-Tatva or Five elements . These are: Prithivi ( Earth), Jal ( Water), Agni ( Fire), Vayu (Air) and Aakaash (Space). Again , Human mind is also deeply influenced five senses which are the senses of smell, taste, hearing, touch and sight . Kabir is of the view that these senses need to be put under control else they may drift the mind towards evil . Coming to above verse in specific , Kabir intends to convey that the Veil that we put on our head in this journey of life, has been spun from five type of threads . He believes that these threads blind us and do not allow us to see freely. According to him ,these threads are impediments . He believes that the five impediments that veil us are Kaam ( Lust ) , Krodh ( Anger ) , Lobh ( Greed ) , Moh ( Attachment ) and Ahankaar ( Ego ). According to him the illusory veil made from these five threads has to be done away with to set the mind free . That alone shall help in seeking our reunion with the master .

*Anhata Dhol . Or the Internal uninterrupted Music . This is linked to the Vedic Concept of ANAHATA NAAD or Unstruck internal Music Sounds or sound within the Body . Kashmir’s Shaivism also refers to ANHATA NAAD or Latent force as the state of spiritual growth caused by the awakening of KUNDALINI at the MULADHAARA chakra ( Close to the base of the spinal column ) when the internal music starts to reverberate somewhere near the Anahata chakra ( close to the level of heart ) .
Some Vedic Scholars have commented that hearing such subtle sounds or NAAD is a sign of spiritual growth in the middle of the Journey . It is not the end in itself . ANAHATA NAAD is also referred to as the cosmic sound within that is devoid of any external vibration. This is an ultimate Sound that transcends space and time, a sound that has no beginning or end.

( Autar Mota 10.04.2014 )

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Monday, April 7, 2014




"Asrar Ul Haq "Majaz" was not a drummer boy of revolutionaries. He was their musician ."

(Faiz Ahmed Faiz..)
Many people say  many things about Majaz . Let me quote some popular comments about this great Romantic , Revolutionary and Nationalist poet ,..










“ Like an arrow , he shot himself up , burst into luminous lights in the sky above and then suddenly vanished into that eternal darkness . But the sparks remain safely collected in his Books .He may not be physically with us today but the illumination that he threw in the sky above are with us and shall brighten up many dark nights of our life .I should not have said so . If I have said something wrong I seek your pardon. Yes i could not help to remain silent. I can not deal his absence in the usual way of respecting Death with silence alone.

( Firaq Gorakhpuri on Majaz’s Death )

Majaz lived in Mumbai for sometime. I am informed that he also worked with 'Bombay Information Bureau for a very brief period .It is also a fact that once a friend took him to Producer Director P N Arora with an intention to bring him into films. It did not mature somehow and Majaz returned to Lucknow. But Bombay influenced his sensitive mind . Marine Drive ( with its Arc of  lights looking like a  Queen's Necklace ) in particular shall always remain connected with the memory of Majaz.
                                      ( Photo Source :Wikipedia. Marine Drive Mumbai )
                                                              ( Photo. .Autar Mota )

It is said that during the days when he had no work in this city of hope and lights, he would stroll down Marine drive or Chowpatti area during night and identify with the hurt and loneliness of the city. An Unfamiliar city , crowds , exploitation , hurt ,
illuminations and idleness created a magical effect on his sensitive mind leading to birth of his poem AWAARA .The POEM projected loneliness of an Individual set against  indifference of the Metropolitan culture . Something close to Albert camus's  "BENIGN INDIFFERENCE OF THE UNIVERSE " It caught fancy of millions who faced similar predicament. I quote ..

“Shahar Ki Raat Aut Mein Nashaad-o-Nakaara Phiroon
Jagmagaati-Jaagati Sadkon Pe Awaara Phiroon
Gair Ki Basti Hai Kab Tak Dar-Ba-Dar Maara Phiroon

“ Aey Ghame Dil Kyaa karoon
Aey vahashate Dil Kyaa karoon ”.

Jhilmilaate KumKumon ki Raah Mein Zanjeer-si

Raat Ke Haatho Mein Din Ki Mohini Tasveer-Si

Mere Seene Par Magar Dehki Huyee Shamsheer-si

Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoon,
Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoon ...?

I have personally experienced how Majaz would have felt when i walked along Marine Drive . For Majaz , A clear sky , the sea breeze , shining stars on the sky , all calm and enticing; Alas ! The helplessness and a turbulence within. And then the Moon suddenly rising above the Arbian Sea. . I quote ..

Ek Mahal Ki Aad Se Nikla Woh Peela Mahtaab

Jaise Mulla Ka Amama, Jaise Baniye Ki Kitaab

Jaise Mufliss Ki Jawaani, Jaise Bewa Ka Shabab

Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoon,
Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoon ...?

Yeh Rupahli Chhaanv, Yeh Aakash Par Taaron ka Jaal

Jaise Sufi Ka Tasavvur, Jaise Aashiq Ka Khayaal

Aah Lekin Kaun Samjhe, Kaun Jaane Jee Ka Haal

Aye Gham-E-Dil Kya Karoon,
Aye Vahshat-E-Dil Kya Karoon ...?

The poem was sung by Talat Mehmood in his melodious voice for a Hindi Movie Thokar released in 1953.Play the song any time and Majaz comes to life .

Progressive and liberal in outlook , Majaz was certainly much ahead of his time . Some are tempted to call him an atheist merely relying on his poem “Shauq e Gurezaan ” written in a different context. For sure he had an abiding faith in the presence of almighty God . I quote some lines from the poem ….

Mujh Mein tu Rooh e Sarmadi mat Phoonk
Raunaq e Bazm e Arifaan na Bana
Iss Zameen Ko Zameen rehnay de
Iss zameeen ko tu aasmaan na Bana
Raaz tera chhupa Nahin Sakta
Mujh ko tu apnaa Razdaan na Bana ..

Majaz,Josh and Firaq were fond of Lucknawi kababs of Tunda (so named because of a deformed hand). Firaq liked to have kababs even at breakfast time.

Majaz was witty and had a sharp sense of humour. Many incidents about his sharp wit and humour have been written by various authors . I add one more narrated by my friend Adarsh Azadarora ( son of veteran Urdu poet Jagan Nath Azad ) . I quote

“An anecdote of Majaaz narrated by my father. On a visit to Pakistan, Majaaz, Sagar Nizami and Jagannath Azad were invited for a recording by Radio Pakistan. After the programme, the three needed to sign the contracts for the honorarium. Sagar Nizami worked in All India Radio and was familiar with the modest fees of All India Radio. Obviously Radio Pakistan was similarly placed. Nonetheless, on seeing the amount Sagar sahib straightened up in a huff and said "Mein is par dastkhat kar hi nahin sakta". He bent down again, read the figure again, straightened up again and repeated "mein is par dastkhat kar hi nahin sakta". When this exercise was conducted for the third time by Sagar Nizami, Majaaz said "Arre bhai, phir Angutha hi laga do!"

Punch lines From his poem “Unka Jashan e Saal-Girah ” were plagiarized for a Bollywood movie song . I quote specific lines from his poem ..

Chhalke Teri aankhon se sharaab Aur Ziyaada
Mehkein Teray Aariz ke Gulaab aur Ziyaada
Allah karey Zaur e Shabaab aur Ziyaada

Late Nargis was also a Fan of Majaz and his poetry . During a visit to Lucknow, she went to meet Majaz to get his autograph . Majaz returned disillusioned from Bombay and moved to Lucknow.The Ganga Jamuna culture of Lucknow attracted Majaz .
Majaz had very strong views on educating woman . He wanted them to be powerful and free from ignorance .The woman in Majaz's poetry was more than an entity of loveliness .He wished to see them as crusaders of uprising against exploitation and injustice.

" Terey Maathe pe ye aanchal bahut hi khoob hai lekin
Tu is aanchal se ik parcham bana leti to achha thaa
Teri neechi nazar khud teri ismat ki muhafiz hai
Tu is nashtar ki tezi aazma leti to achha thaa
( Majaz )

(The cloth covering your head is certainly a good thing,
How better it would be if you make a flag out of it....
Your lowered gaze is itself a shield of your purity,
Better it would be If you now raise your eyes and test the sharpness held within ).

Whenever  the students and alumni of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU ) sing the university song composed by the poet ,  Majaz comes to life................

“Ye meraa chaman hai meraa chaman, mein apne chaman kaa bulbul huun
Sarshaar-e-nigaah-e-nargis huun, paa-bastaa-e-gesuu-sumbul huun”
( Majaz )

Ali Sardar Jafri used this couplet as the title song of his famous television series, Kahkashan, broadcasted on Doordarshan during the early 90s.

Majaz played a special role in Progressive Writers’ Movement of the country He had very intimate friendship and bondage with Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Moin Ahsan Jazbi, Ali Sardar Jafri and Makhdoom Moihuddin. A collection of poems" Aahang "published while he was alive, is dedicated to these four poets in the following words:

“Faiz aur Jazbi ke naam, jo mere dil o jigar hain
Sardar aur Makhdoom ke naam, jo mere dast o baazu hain”

(To Faiz and Jazbi, who are my heart and soul
To Sardar and Makhdoom, who are my hands and limbs )

Majaz had bouts of nervous breakdowns for which he was admitted to Raanchi’s Mental Hospital . In this hospital , he is reported to have met doyen of Bengal’s  revolutionary  poet ( Bidrohi Kobi ) Kazi Nazrul Islam . Majaz died in Balrampur Hospital in 1955 due to Liver Cirrhosis caused by his excessive liquor addiction. 

On a chilly winter night, a group of friends from Lucknow entertained him with liquor . Together they drank till midnight after which they left him all alone on the hotel roof . He died alone in the bitter cold. He was 44.

Chhup gaye woh saaz e Hast chheid kar
Ab to Buss awaaz hi awwaz hai

He lies buried Inside Lucknow’s Nishat Ganj Graveyard .The Epitaph written on his grave reads ..

"Ab isskay baad subah hai aur subah-e-nau Majaz,
Hum Per hai khatam Sham-e-Garibaan-e-Lucknow.....".

In 2008 , Government Of India released a Postal stamp of Rs5/= to Honour Majaz . The function was attended by majaz 's sister Hameeda and Nephew (Poet and Film Lyricist )Javed Akhtar .In this stamp , you can see Lucknow’s Tile Wali Masjid , Part of the Imambara and the skyline of the city .  A   famous couplet of Majaz  that goes as under

 “ Bakshi hain hum ko ishq ne woh Jurratein Majaz ,
 dartey Nahin siyasat e ahle Jahaan se hum ”

is also written in urdu on this stamp.


After his death , Two Gazals written by the poet were found with some papers kept in a
Box . Here are possibly the Last two Gazals written by Majaz Lucknawi ..


Dil e Khoon Gashtaa e Jafa Pe Kahin
Ab Karam Bhi Giraan na Ho Jaaye
Tere Beemaar Ka Khudaa Hafiz
Nazre Charagaraan Na Ho Jaaye
Ishq Kya Kya na Aafatein Daaye
Husn Gar Meharbaan Na Ho Jaaye
Mai Ke Aage Gamon ke Kohe Giraan
Eik Pal Mein Dhuvaan Na Ho jaaye
Phir Majaz Inn Dinon Yeh Khatraa Hai
Dil Halaaqe Butaan na Ho Jaaye

Dard Ki Daulat e Bedaar Ataa Ho Saaqi
Hum Bahi Khwaah Sabhi Ke hain Bhalaa Ho Saaqi
Seena e Shauq Mein Woh Zakhm Ki Lau De Uthay
Aur Bhi Teiz Zamaane Ki Hawaa Ho Saaqi
Sakht-Jaan Hi Nahin Hum Khudsar o Khudaar Bhi Hain
Naavak e Naaz Khataa Hai To Khataa Ho Saaqi

( Autar Mota 07.04.2014 )


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