Tuesday, March 27, 2018



       ( Rishi Vasugupta  by artist Ravi Dhar )                            

KNOWLEDGE IS A BONDAGE ... A painting depicting Shiv Sutra no 2  by Artist  Gokul Dembi


Too much discussion. Too many scholars . Too many books . A proud   cultural heritage of  Kashmiris in general and Pandits in particular. I tried to know it. Tried  to read some books . Read articles and heard discourses . Could not grasp much  as no person could present it in a simple and  layman’s language ;  a language that a beginner  could grasp. And then through  my own efforts, I came to  Rishi Vasugupta’s Shiv Sutras . The search was almost over.

 Generations of Kashmiris shall remain indebted to  Rishi Vasugupta for presenting something great , simple , philosophical and mind boggling  through his 77 Shiv-Sutras ( aphorisms).  I  Read them one and all. It took me three days to understand the enormous philosophical dimensions of some Sutras that come in just one line. Most of us have not come to Kashmir’s Shaiva-Darshana from this way. At least I can say for myself. Vasugupta is believed  to have lived below the  Mahadeva mountain in the  Kashmir valley .Some scholars have also identified the spot ( rock ) near the Harwan stream behind what is now the Shalimar garden near  Srinagar city.Artist Gokul Dembi has brought all the Sutras to canvas by transferring the underlying philosophical  meaning to colours and  images through his paintings . A great job done for the  present generation and posterity . And Prof Meem Hai Zaffar has translated these Sutras into Kashmiri with detailed commentary . The book is available in Devnagri and Nastaliq script .

( The rock behind Shalimar Garden where Sutras are believed to have been revealed to Rishi Vasugupta ..photo source. Ayaz Rasool Nazki)

I quote  eleven sutras …

Knowledge is bondage.

Origin is the basis of knowledge.

Only awakening is knowledge.

Most mysterious is the mind.
There is a feeling of one being like Shiva.
Body is an Offering .
( h)
Mind is the soul.
Consciousness becomes sublime when imagination is mastered.

Existence is eternal but life has end.
— Concentration into the origin of creation causes knowledge of why it is destroyed and created again.

I leave it to readers to think about various dimensions of these simple  one line Sutras ..

Enter the world of Kashmir’s Shaiv Darshana through these Sutras . 

I found a sprinkling of Shiv Sutras in the   Kashmiri Bhakti poetry of Mahatama Krishen Joo Razdan of Kashmir .According to Shiv Sutras ,want of awareness is Maya and  deep sleep.Awareness  dispels Maya. A real Sadhaka only desires awareness.  Mahatma  Krishen Joo Razdan says:-

"Hosh dim lagayo Pamposh Paadan

 ( Grant me awareness.This life at your lotus feet,my lord.)

( Avtar Mota )


 Sage Vasugupta (875 – 925 CE) was the author of Shiva Sutras, an important text of the Advaita tradition of Kashmir Shaivism, also called Trika..It is believed that these Sutras were revealed to the sage somewhere near present day Harwan garden near the Mahadeva mountain. Some scholars believe that  Vasugupta found the Sutras inscribed on a rock called Sankaropala. A group of scholars are of the opinion   that Shiva appeared to sage Vasugupta in his dream. In this dream state, these Sutras were revealed to him and later written down by the sage.

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Link Road / Shastri Nagar Jammu
( Established 1952)

Jammu had many good tailoring shops even before partition of the country . I am informed that people from Sialkot would  come to Jammu for stitching their clothes .  During early eighties of the last century, shops like Goonga Tailors, Best And Co, Ghulam Rasool And Sons, Paul Tailors and ' SC Sharma Tailors 'enjoyed good reputation and did brisk business .. I have some how  remained tied to S C Sharma Tailors , Link Road ,Jammu. I have been visiting this shop  since last 30 years. I have seen the tidy senior Sharma  Ji ( at the Link Road shop ) in a tweed coat , Raymond's(grey woollen ) trousers  , a  necktie and golf or Karakul  cap on his head  guiding his two sons . Talking to him was always enriching. He knew anybody and every body in politics, trade , industry and  bureaucracy . During Darbar Move, he had many bureaucrats as his customers. If Ghulam Rasool And Sons (Residency Road, Jammu )  specialised in  stitching coats and  three piece gent's  suits , Sharma Ji had mastery over shirts, night suits, trrousers, Safari suits  ,  Kurta Pyjama stitching in Jammu. For night suits,trousers  and shirt stitching  ,this shop still enjoys a  good reputation in Jammu city. You can also stitch excellent and fashionable   three piece gent's suits over here. 

Senior Sharma Ji is no more now. The brothers have separated out  . Apart from Link Road , they have set up   a shop at Shastri Nagar  just opposite to Dudhadhari Temple. At both the shops, they have maintained their   stitching standards.Both  the brothers stitch Men's suits and trendy  fashion apparel. Link Road shop is more into fashion and  trendy apparel  stitching and business . 

I prefer Shastri Nagar shop. I find more  compatibility with the owner of this shop. The proprietor of this shop is  thoroughly professional in his approach and  a Pucca gentleman. Loves music and is fair   swift in his dealings. The owner of the Link Road shop is equally fair, courteous and professional in his dealings  Some friends who  happen to be his regular customers have given me excellent feedback about the person and his dealings.

From my experience, I find no match for the shirt ,Kurta Pyjama, trousers  and night suits ( Rs600/= current charges with piping) that I get stitched at the Shastri Nagar shop.   Try once and you will come  again and again. 

The Link Road shop has also maintained its old standard and reputation. And the Link Road  shop has created a beautiful 'Apparel  Studio'  for men's trendy clothing . You can find beautiful Achkans, Sherwanis ,suits, jackets ,Kurta Pyjamas and trousers in this shop.

Both the brothers are authorised stockists and sellers of Reid  And Taylor unstitched fabric /   clothing.

(Avtar Mota)

Saturday, March 24, 2018




Dr RAHI MASOOM  RAZA ( 1927-1992)

( Photo Dr Rahi Masoom Raza   his daughter in law( Parvati )  and grandchild.)


"Zakhm jab bhi koyi zehn  o dil par laga,
Zindagi ki taraf ek dareecha khula.
Hum bhi goya kisi saaz ke taar thay
Cho'tt khaate rahe gungunaate rahe.."..(Dr Rahi Masoom Raza)

"I am the son of three mothers ; Nafisa Begum, AMU and River  Ganga. I gift this book "Scene 75 "  to them. Nafisa  Begum is dead.I can't remember her very clearly. But the other two mothers are alive and I remember them well.".......Dr Rahi Masoom Raza.

Kunwarpal Singh, Dr Rahi 's friend  and colleague at Aligarh Muslim  University   informs this :-

" His decision to  move to Mumbai was triggered by his marriage  to Nayyar Jahan in 1965. Nayyar Jahan was already married  and despite opposition , he went ahead with his decision to marry her. A full blown scandal erupted  at AMU by this marriage and Dr Rahi lost his job. His rivals at AMU  got a big excuse. They were opposed to his attempts of introducing  Hindi courses in the Urdu Department and vice versa.
In Mumbai , life was tough. His friends Kamleshwar  and Dharamvir Bharati did support him initially.
They published his work in the Hindi magazines that they edited and ensured advance payments to him. Raj Khosla was impressed by his style and work.He engaged him for his films as script cum dialogue writer. He had mastery over urdu and Hindi .That proved of immense help. Soon BR Chopra brought him in his camp . When BR Chopra requested Dr Rahi  to write TV script and dialogues for Mahabharata, he refused as he had no time. Chopra Sahib went ahead with a press conference wherein he declared that Dr Rahi Masoom Raza shall be writing dialogues and script for his mega TV  serial Mahabharata. Dr Rahi  felt surprised and Chopra Sahib  was flooded with letters that said, "were all Hindus dead that you had to give this task to a Muslim? "
Chopra Sahib forwarded all these letters to Dr Rahi .

Dr Rahi  was a  real Ganga-Putra or a  Ganga Kinarewala born at Ghazipur. Next day , he went to Chopra Sahib's bungalow and said to him, "Chopra Sahib ! I will write the Mahabharata. I am a son of the River Ganga . Who knows the civilization and culture of  India better than  I do? "

His son Nadeem Khan is married to Parvati the  Trinidadian pop singer and model  of Indian origin. Nadeem Khan ,a  cinematographer and film director by informs this :-

" Writing Mahabharata took it's toll in his health.He aged fifteen years in that time. He read a lot of scriptures and was always stressful. He could not afford to go one  step wrong. He was a Shiva-Bhakt.After Mahabharata ,he wanted  to script " Om Namah   Shivaye"  but that was not to be.He died at 65 . Looking at the grand success of Mahabharata, I urged him to  charge higher fee for his work but he always refused . Everyday we had ten or fifteen people at the Dastarkhwaan. He was known to write films free and sometimes just for a Paan."

Dr Rahi  belonged to an aristocratic family from Ghazipur.  His  brother Dr Moonis Raza was among the founder chairman of JNU and VC of Delhi University . Another brother Prof. Mehndi Raza headed Geography Department in AMU. His  fourth brother was Ahmed Raza , an  economist who worked with IMG in Washington. Dr Rahi's  sister  Suraiya did her doctorate in history.

It was Rahi's  idea to use Samay  (Time) as narrator of the epic  Mahabharata on TV. He coined new words like Pitashri and Matashri   that became so popular as if the ancient characters had  actually spoken them.

He was a poet, playwright, novelist , film script and dialogue writer,  linguist who had  command over  Hindi, Urdu,Sanskrit  and English .His TV serial " Neem  Ka Peid"  was also quite popular in the  entire length and breadth of the country . His book' Aadha Gaon' is his finest contribution to the corpus of Indian Literature.So are his other  works like ,Topi Shukla, Ous ki boond and Katra Bi Aarzo.He also wrote Himmat Jaunpuri(1969) ,Dil Ek Saada Kagaz(1973) and  Chhote Aadmi Ki Badi  Kahaani (on the life and sacrifice of PVC Havaldar Abdul Hamid ). He also compiled a book of his nonfiction writings under title"Lagtaa Hai Bekaar Gaye Hum". Even when writing about the darkest moments in his novels, Raza never loses his unsentimental wit and humour. But it is in Aadha Gaon that we see him at his full power.  The book questions the idea of Partition and nationhood based on religion which may set the  foundation for hate and fear in the subcontinent .Several of Raza’s works vividly depict the agony and turmoil of the consequences of the partition of India. His novel "Scene 75" is a   Short , crisp and fascinating novel set in Bombay of 1970 .Stories of   strugglers , sleazy producers  and film obsessed social climbers. Raza gives a kaleidoscopic view of  tinsel town and the hypocrisy as he rips off many curtains . The central Character of "Scene 75"  is Ali Amjad,a struggling film  script writer from Benaras surrounded by the  cynical and manipulative characters, unscrupulous producers, bigoted middle class social climbers and ambitious clerks. You sympathize  with Ali Amjad ( who is possibly  Dr Rahi Masoom Raza himself) . In some stories and novels,Raza skillfully makes the reader know how in 1947,  some congress leaders  suddenly  became Muslim League supporters and moved to Pakistan . He also talks about many Muslim League leaders or supporters in his home state who stayed back in India post 1947 and wore Congress  coats .

He wrote the screenplays and dialogues for over 300 films. The dialogues for "Me Tulsi Teray Aangan Ki "and "Mili" won him prestigious Filmfare awards. In the Film Writers Association, he  was the only writer who opposed the Emergency during Indira Gandhi's rule.The association and many film personalities had supported the Emergency.

As young boy ,he fell victim to  tuberculosis and had to spend about 6 years in Nainital and Kashmir.In Kashmir, he developed close friendship with Dwarika Nath Gigoo Rajkamal who also spent some months in Tangmarg  sanatorium  with Rahi Masoom Raza. Both were fighting tuberculosis.


Both brothers  ;  Dr Moonis Raza and  Dr Rahi Masoom  Raza  had strong links with Kashmir . Dr Moonis Raza was in Kashmir for more than a decade . He served as Principal Regional Engineering College, Srinagar  and also as VC University of Kashmir . Many students and teachers  remember him well. Dr Rahi  Masoom  Raza was also in Kashmir when he contracted tuberculosis. He made  many friends from amongst the literary and medical fraternity . Dr Tahir Mirza from Chest Diseases Hospital,Srinagar  was his closest friend.  Many many writers , leaders , artists , theatre artists from Kashmir became his close friends  . He kept coming to Kashmir repeatedly. In fact his wife Nayyar Jahan had also lived in Kashmir  for more than two years .
Noted English writer and translator Prof Arvind Gigoo told me this :

“He has come to our place a number of times. My uncle-cum-brother Dwarka Nath Gigoo Rajkamal, Kishori Kaul and Dr Rahi Masoom Raza were patients of tuberculosis. Rajkamal Gigoo and Rahi Masoom Raza spent many months together  in Tangamarg. Sanatorium. Raza and Rajkamal Gigoo were of  same age. In Kashmir , he met all Hindi writers. S K Toshakhani,P N Pushp, etc. I mean father of Dr Shashi Shekhar Toshakhani. Dr Tahir Mirza was his closest friend in Kashmir. Dr Mirza of CD Hospital, Srinagar was an agnostic. He never charged fees from any patient. Treated all patients free. We used to meet often. He was married to one Sujata Mirza. She was a Shaivite. She had worked for BBC. I still remember her radio talk on 'Growing Old Gracefully 'written in Queen's English. She read it like an English lady. A remarkable conversationalist.”

Prof Nusrat Andrabi  Ex. Principal Women ‘s College, Srinagar informs this  :

“ I know the family very well. Nayyar Jahan or Nayyar  Apa was the grand daughter of Sir Aftab Ahmad of Aligarh. She was married to Col Yunus Khan of Rampur, brother in law of  Nawab of Rampur. Col. Yunus Khan was posted  in Kashmir and he took up  his private family residence at   Magarmal  Bagh , near my parental house. I was a daily visitor to their house .  This is 1963-65. A great pleasant couple, very loving and cultured. Then after a few years they went to Aligarh.I was in touch  with them .  Later  Nayyar Apa left Col Saheb and married Rahi Masoom Raza. Rahi's  poem '1857'  was very popular those days.”

Journalist Rahul Jalali son  of   P N Jalali ,Journalist  and freedom fighter, told me this   :

“ Moonis Raza and my father were both interned in a  jail in Delhi before 1947. Later, they spent two years in Eastern Europe together. My father met my mother in Europe and they married. When I was two years old, my mother stayed for  six months in Raza household completing her MA in Library Science from Aligarh . During this period , I was looked after by Moonis and Rahi's sister. I also remember some of the "great escapades" of Rahi. During my growing up years, Rahi often used to visit Srinagar and stay with Jalali and Sumitra Behen  as the Raza brothers used to call my mother. Unfortunately , I lost touch with Rahi when he shifted to Mumbai (then Bombay). But   Moonis,  I kept in touch with till his last days. “

Although , Raza never joined communist Party of India, he had all his sympathies for the left and underprivileged. The rebel  in him decided to support Pabbar Ram ,   a communist candidate in an election in his native state against his own father,a congress candidate .

He was a liberal and open minded person.Due to attack of  polio in childhood , he had a little limp.I end this post with his poetic will ....

(Will And Testament)

My art is dead,
My friends
My skin has turned blue,
My friends 
Take me to the Ganga in Ghazipur,
Let me sleep in her lap.
But it could be that I die far from my homeland 
So this is my will
If a little river flows in that foreign city , 
Take me there
Let me sleep in her lap
And tell her 
That this son of Ganga is now hers.

(Rahi Masoom Raza)

So long so much.

(Avtar Mota)

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Friday, March 23, 2018



This is what Poet Ali sardar Jafri says in his mini poem "Gham ka Heera" or "The diamond of Sorrow"

Gham ka heera
Dil mein Rakho.
Kis ko Dikhaate Phirtay ho?
Ye Choron ki duniya hai....

(Ali sardar Jafri)

(Within your heart,
Hide that precious Diamond of sorrow,.
why put it on display?
You live in a world of thieves..)

(Autar Mota)
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Wednesday, March 21, 2018



The popular Kashmiri Adage of yore.....

"Maej karaan kooer Kooer , Koor karaan Raen Raen..."

The mother Cries "My Darling Daughter, This Way my Child "

And the Daughter replies :
" My husband ,My Everything ,That side  Mother"

(Autar Mota)

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PANDIT KALAADI HUT , Moti Bazaar (Near Parade Ground) Jammu..

The shop opens at 6 PM in summers and a little earlier in winters. Pandit ji,'s young and active son has taken over the business at this shop from his father who died some years back . The business is brisk. The boy is polite and the stuff sold as Kalaadi (Maesh-kraaer in kashmiri ) fresh ,delicious served with chutney and sauce.  A kalaadi  is not to be confused with cheddar ,  mozzarella or any other type of processed cheese sold in the market. Sprinkling a pinch of kala Namak over fresh hot kaladi makes it mouth watering. He stuffs the kaladi in a Bun , a combination that is finally known as kaladi kulcha sold for rupees 45 /=.Try it some day ,tastier than sardar ji shop of udhampur Bazaar .

                 ( Kaladi with bread slices ) 
            ( Kalaadi at Pahalwan Sweets ,Jammu)

I have been frequenting the shop since early eighties of the last century when senior Pandit ji would serve delicious Kalaadis fried on a heavy iron Tawa using kerosene stove. His son has not only improved the quality but added more customers to his business.

Yes i mean the small shop in Moti Bazaar that is close to Dr Shaktidhar Sharma's homeopathic clinic. Durring 1980s there used to be Tailoring shop just opposite to this Kalaadi hut known as GOONGA TAILORS. That shop had a huge sign board with a picture of a man in chains with a line "Teray Pyaar ki Meharbaani Pe Roye" written in bold letters below the picture.

(Avtar Mota)

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JALLIYAAN  DI  HATTI...Bhabra Bazaar or Jain Bazaar, Jammu.

In the entire North India , no match for the Desi Ghee chocolates that are sold at  this shop. You can see them being  prepared before you. Soft, delicious and tasty.  Just 360 rupees a kg. You can also get Suund Panjeeri,Feeniyaan . Qatlame and the special Gondh Vaali  Barfi all made from Desi Ghee.This old shop in Jammu is known for its quality in the  entire state of J&K. Qatlame ,Feeeniya and Suund Panjeeri  from this shop attract  many customers  from neighbouring Punjab especially Jalandhar and Amritsar.

The  Quality and taste  created by Des Raj Arora, who founded this shop remains intact to this day. Try once and you are hooked to this speciality from Jammu.

(Avtar Mota)


The word 'Bhabra' derives its origin from Sanskrit. Bhabra means Jain trading community. Before 1947, we had Bhabra bazaar in almost all cities of Punjab like  Lahore, Sialkot Rawalpindi,Ludhiana etc. Bhabras were traders and goldsmiths brought by Maharaja to Jammu. Scan any old record ,you find mention of Bhabra Bazaar in Jammu.



   ( Kashmiri Pandit Women Striking  Shrine Bells for Peace and Prosperity..Photo source .. The Hindu Newspaper..)
        ( Sharika Temple Srinagar Kashmir)


Close to Navreh  comes another  cultural  ritual   known as Zang-Trei  or third Auspicious day ; A ritual  of Shakti tradition of ancient kashmir. Centred around women considered as harbingers of peace and prosperity for a family , Zang Trei  festivity coincides  with  a visit to  shaktipeeth  Sharika Temple at  Hari Parbat Srinagar. A fair at DeviAngan  or  the spring time festivity at blooming  Badaam vaari garden nearby was another attracttion of NAVREH . The  busy water  chestnut ( Gaer or singharra) sellers, Halwai shops, water Baloon sellers ,  toy sellers and so many other attractions for children at Devi Angan, Badaamvaari or outside Chhatti Paadshashi Gurudwara. No more chills or snow or cold winds now. Flowers , greenery ,sunshine and pleasantness all-around.

 On Zang Trei or third day of Vikrami New year,  kashmiri Pandit women visit their Parental home  for sometime  . This is the  first auspicious visit of  the  year intended to  seek long life   and prosperity for parents and other family members  by the married woman. She is received with hugs, tears and love in her Parental home. After having  tea  and bread etc , She is given some cash (Attagath or conveyance money in kashmiri ), a packet of  Salt ( Considered Auspicious by kashmiri Pandits as  Salt is linked to Goddess Lakshmi ) and Bakery ( Tseot or kulcha) that she carries to her in law's house.All these small gifts are intended to seek prosperity and Long life for her husband, children and other members of the family in her in law's house. It is a day of  reunion and get together . Those amongst the  married Kashmiri pandit  women who are far off from their parents and consequently unable to visit their parental home , pay a visit some Temple or some family close by to be a part of this ancient tradition. They also return to their homes with Attagath  and a packet of salt.


To this Query, Pandit Raghunath Kokiloo (a Saint  and  practioner of  Shaivism)   has told me something  like this:

"Zang trei is linked to our  Shaiva Darshana. Three is auspicious and very important in Shaiva Darshana . What is a TRISHULA ? Understand it as three   fundamental dimensions of life . You  can also call it ida, Pingala and Sushumna. These are the three basic   nadis ; one to the left, second to  the right and third in the  centre of the pranamaya kosha  ( Energy body)  of the human system.

Three is AUM  depicted by three curves .And Bhur, Bhuva and Swaha or the  triple control over thought ,word and deed exercised by a shaivite .

Again , the Rhythm of the universe lies in the  trinity  symbolized  by  Brahma , Vishnu and Mahesha representing creation,  preservation  and destruction respectively.

 That  is why  so many shaivites all over the world put three lines of Ash over their forehead."

And stalwart Modern Kashmiri poet Dina Nath Naadim  also describes Zang Trei festivity in one of his poems..A poor mother alongwith her son  is on a visit to Zang Trei festivity in Badaam Vaari  Garden. The boy is tempted by so many toys while  the  poor mother is quick to  distracts his attention .

 I add  select  lines from the  to conclude this post..

Fraekvin Phulayaa , Lukka  Arsaatha
Taaran Peith Peith Katiji Jamaata .
Zangtrei Hunz Grukh
Taafa pholvun
Val Saa Maaleyah
Gobra Tathyah
Dabluss Ponsuss Soruy Duniya
Meiti Guchh Peen Pan( Whistle )
Tot Kya baa Chhukh
 Tresha Chamhuvv.

( Dina Nath Naadim )

Abundance of spring Flowers ,
Noise of sparrows on overhead electric wires ,.
A crowd celebrating Zangtrei festival,
Sun shine on all sides,
“Come dear child
Come son come dear
Entire world for a penny “
“ I too want to buy a whistle mother“
“Oh you look Febrile,
Let us quench our thirst first .”

(Autar Mota )


Kashmiri Pandits celebrate NAVREH or  their New Year’s Day on the first day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra corresponding to  March –April of the Gregorian Calendar .     

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Monday, March 19, 2018



Dalai Lama in Jammu..Addresses passouts and huge gathering at the first convocation of Central university Jammu held on 18th March, 2018.

He said:

" Constant Anger and fear affect our immune system.It is the duty if our educational system to  further and inculcate the basic character of compassion . "

" I have strong criticism against Modern teaching and Education System as such. It is only focussed on material values."

"This 21st century must be bid for the century of peace and dialogue not through prayers but actions by young people who need to play their role through determination and will power "

" Respect seven billion human beings on this planet.Difference of opinion was always there but using force to face this difference is  not justified. Once you resort to violence, there will be counter violence and the consequences could be unpredictable"

" Practitioners of Compassion not only make others happy, they also receive happiness in return."

It was a  great privilege to listen to this Guru of peace and compassion. His concern is   humanity at large . It appears that  he happens to be amongst a few of his kind  left  on this planet. He speaks, thinks and acts with compassion alone.

(Autar Mota)

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Sunday, March 18, 2018



(Photo.. Autar Mota)

So many relatiions ,   links    , friends, networks, And  this vibrant world all around  , But then   the individual  ,Just lonely and set against  fundamental solitariness. Be carefree and  the life is a vehicle in motion , Think a little,Then  all this , A moment's play only.

Sometimes I feel like this . I gave it a poetic expression today ...

Rishte Naate  hain jag Jhamelaa hai
Aadmi Dhar-Asal Akelaa hai.
Mast rahiye to chalti   gaadi hai,
Soch Lo Jo , to pal ka khela hai.

(Autar Mota)

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Saturday, March 17, 2018



                      ( Moong Daal and Vopal Haak)

TEIL (sesame seeds) PREPARATION..

Teil  preparation and distribution was an important post delivery  ceremony in our families. It was prepared and distributed on 11th day of the delivery by inlaws family of a married woman. The child and mother were given a bath and sometimes it coincided with shraan  sondher ( purification bath) ceremony.  This was followed by a feast in the house and close relatives would be invited. One of the dishes prepared for the feast used to be Moong  daal and Vopal Haak.

White Sesame seeds were mixed with dry fruits , sugar candy pieces and a pinch of salt. This mixture was mildly fried and  then distributed to relations and neighbours. Some mixture was also  thrown around the bed or sitting place of the daughter in law who had delivered a baby. She would also be asked to have a little of this Teil. Sufficient quantity of Teil was also sent to parental home of the daughter in law for distribution by them.
 On 12th  day of delivery,, the daughter in law would go to her parental home for further post delivery rest and recuperation .
Sesame seeds are an excellent source of copper, a very good source of manganese, and a good source of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, molybdenum, vitamin B1, selenium and dietary fiber.

(Autar Mota)


Vopal Haak.....Handh and vopal haak are two vegetables of  yore that find mention in Vaaks of Lak Ded. Vopal haak is green leafy vegetable that grows in wild on hills surrounding kashmir valley.saw it at Gulmarg. Vopal Haak leaves were  dried and then used as powder throughout the year. It is still sold by many Bohra shops in jammu at Rs1000 to 1200 per kg.

Generally about    40 gms of vopal haak powder is added  to 250gms of Sabut moong Daal . Finally, when cooked,  add two table spoons of Desi ghee or clarified Butter. Excellent to taste.
Vopal haak was  cooked on rituals like Shraan Sondher, Kaahnethar , Zara Kaasai , Mekhla, Hawan Ann Pravesh and many other rituals or ceremonies  in Kashmiri Pandit families.

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"Aik hamein avaara kahnaa  koyee  badaa ilzaam nahin
Duniyaa  vaale dil valon ko aur bahut kuchh kehte hain"......( Habib Jalib )

Habib Jalib ( 1928-1993 ) was a communist and a revolutionary poet. He had lovers in the length and breadth of the subcontinent . There are many reasons for that . He was fearless. Living in a theocratic state, he never reconciled with the idea of using religion for governance. He was secular and liberal  to the core and sided with truth even when imprisoned  or made to suffer.  Jalib  was associated with  the Progressive Writers Movement in the subcontinent . A  Punjabi born and brought up in Hoshiarpur ( Punjab ) , Jalib had a  colloquial style to draw large audiences who related to his poems. He was repeatedly imprisoned  for leading demonstrations against  establishment and rulers in his country opposing martial law  or  Gen. Zial Ul Haq's rule .Once, in jail ,  he demanded pen and paper .   The jail superintendent  told Jalib :-

" This time  , I am under Instructions  from above that no  pen or paper should be provided to you for writing your poetry against the government ."

To this jalib replied :

" Tell your bosses that Jalib shall recite his poems to  jail guards  , who will recite it in the town square, and so it will reach  Lahore .”
Once a producer  friend in film industry of his country used his poems in a film promising Jalib suitable remuneration. The songs became quite popular and neither Jalib asked for the money nor the producer paid him  .However, Jhalib  recorded this incident in his poem that became quite popular in the subcontinent .Here is the poem '-

"Onchey onchey aiwaanon mein moorakh kukam chalaayein.
Qadam qadam par iss nagri mein Pandit dhakke Kmkhaayein .
Dharti par bhagwaan bane hain dhan hai jin ke pass
............Bhaye Kabir Udaas .

Geet likhaayein paise na dein film nagar ke log.
Unn ke ghar baaje Shehnai lekhak ke ghar sog.
Gayak sur mein kyon kar gaayein kyon na kaatein ghaas
......     Bhaye Kabir Udaas

Kal tak Jo tha haal hamaara haal vahi hai aaj
Jalib apne des mein sukh ka kaal vahi hai aaj
Phir bhi *Mochi Gate pe leader roz karein bakwaas
............Bhaye Kabir Udaas"

Film song  "Zulm Rahay Aur Amn Bhi Ho, Kaya Mumkin Hai Tum Hi Kaho" sung by Noor Jahan and Medi Hassan  for "Yeh Aman  (1971),"  lyrics by Habib Jalib   became very popular.
He stood up to every military ruler — Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf.In Yahya era, Jalib was imprisoned for writing poetry against military action in East Pakistan.Initially, he thought ZA Bhutto a revolutionary but soon he fell out with him also . His famous poem, ‘Larkane chalo warna thane chalo’ is the reminiscent of the disagreement that he had with Bhutto .During the Zia era, Jalib was arrested many times. The military ruler had demanded that a line from one of his famous poems be removed. The line said: "Zulmat ko zia, sarsar ko saba, bande ko khuda kya likhna?". When a film actress was asked to come to presidency and dance before a visiting head of state, she refused. When forced, she tried to commit suicide. Jalib recorded it in a poem, which was later included in a movie as a song that said:-

"Tu ke nawaqif-i-adaab-i-ghulami hai abhi
Raqs zanjeer pehn kar bhi kiya jata hai. "

(You are not aware of the manners of slavery, one can indeed dance while in chains).
Saadat Hasan Manto appreciated him by saying, “Jalib’s poetry has an emancipatory effect when experienced by the common man.” It is believed that after Nazir Akbarabadi, he is truly the poet of the masses.Jalib was a grand human being.Never ever did he compromise with his principles. And poverty never left him. We are told that Tahira ,  his daughter is driving a taxi to earn her living. Jalib's eldest daughter died in 2009 because of depression  and poverty.

( Avtar Mota)

**** Mochi Gate in Lahore is a place where political rallies were regularly held  .




Shuja Sulta (1946-2008) was a  talented Artist  ,  Writer , poet , Broadcaster and above all a  wonderful  Human Being. He retired as Head Paintings Department of The e Institute of Music and Fine Arts of the J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages.

             ( Oil on Acrylic 1995..Shuja Sultan)

Shuja died  all of a sudden in    April 2008 of  a massive Heart attack. He was at  Jammu on that fateful day. He was   planning some Exhibition of his work.  He was painting  non stop for that proposed Exhibition.

No age to die  when he  had  just turned  63 ..

In 2013, Five years after his death, his family published his urdu poetic Collection "Khwaab-Zaar ( Garden of Dreams)..

I come  again and again to the innocence of the child that he has painted: Simply divine ..

Peace be to his soul...
( Autar Mota )

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CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.

Sunday, March 11, 2018




I have been told by many friends not to read firaq again and again.I ask why; to which i get following replies..

" In practical life, he  was not a man  of good moral conduct. He had a fondness for liquor even during his old age.  ."

"His poetry is sensuous. He only praises feminine beauty. "

" He was labelled a spoiled genius of India by Gandhi ji ."

" He was short tempered, arrogant and uncompromising "
" He was a Nehru  Bhakt."

I ask  friends if they have read Firaq; and i am told in affirmative.. I ask if they have read  his  collections like Gul e Nagma, Naghma e Saaz or  Ramz o Kaaynaat  or Dharti Ki Karwat.I am told the expected ,"NO". I ask if they have read his poems like 'Shaam e Ayaadat' (The evenIng of her visit), Aadhi Raat ( Midnight) , Jugnu (fireflies) ,Handola ( cradle)  or Taraaana e Khizaan ( The song of the Autumn) . I get the expected reply "NO". Most of them have not read his Gazals and poems but heard Begum Akhtar  singing  some  Firaq  Gazals .
So you  are dismissing a stalwart ( who has written on  culture, civilization, loneliness,  nature, love, hope, separation, and so  many aspects of life ) without reading him .

I have no business to focus on Firaq's temper or private life . And discussing the same  will  not help me  in objective evaluation of  his work. In  creative human beings,  you always  find varied levels of eccentricities. Do you look to their eccentricities or to  the  creative standards they establish in aart or literature?

I    shall continue to    read and  discuss Firaq as a poet of eminence

Firaq  worked closely with Gandhi ji and Pandit Jawahar  Lal  Nehru during freedom struggle . He went  to prison many times during freedom struggle of the country. He did not join ICS that he qualified. Gandhi ji had asked him to join Gujarat Vidyapeeth as professor but he refused . Pandit ji, Indira ji and Harivansh Rai Bachan held him in highest  esteem.

About firaq's poetry i have to make some basic observations .These are...

(1) His love poetry is based on a honest response to fundamental emotion.

(2)  Firaq has enriched and indigenised his urdu  assimilating so many words from Hindi, Sanskrit and Braj Baasha. Words like Komal, Kaaran, Deepshikha, Agnikund, vish, Ang, Pawan, Mukh, Kumadini, Kanwal, Banvaas, Roop, Shringaar, Dukh, Sansaar,Amrit,  Suhaagan, and many more have been  frequently used by him in poems, Gazals and Rubais.

(3) Rubais in urdu were used by poets as tools of moral or philosophical reflections. Firaq uses them to present images  of feminine  beauty and grace. These images  have been created or captured in the homely roles of  a mother, daughter, sister , wife and beloved .

(4) Through his Gazals, he has fully explored the emotional, physical and spiritual dimensions of love as the fundamental emotion of  a human being. And  he has given his personal tint and tone to it.

(5) Along with hope, wait, sensuousness  and other issues, there is a    stream of  sorrow that flows  through his work . I would call it a  sorrow of spiritualised helplessness; and this very aspect brings him very close to Mir Taqi Mir .And Firaq duly acknowledges greatness of  Mir when he says' Gazal ka saaz uthaao barri udaas  hai  raat, Navaa e Mir sunaao barri udaas hai raat'..

(6) Firaq's study of religious scriptures of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity is profound..If he uses references from Ramayana and Mahabharata, he also makes revered mention of incidents related with Karbala and life of the prophet of Islam.  Incidents related with Jesus Christ  and Moses have been mentioned at so many places.For him every prophet has visited this earth to ameliorate human pain and  suffering. That spectacular quality makes him a  genuine humanist. I tend to use word humanist instead of secular .

(7) Firaq's mind was free from  inhibitions . He allowed a passage to every thought. Many critics have called his mind a highway or a thoroughfare.Reflexes from such free minds are unpredictable and quite often unexpected.
(8)  Firaq had a great  fascination for   English literature. Who else except  firaq  could translate   Homer, Virgil,  Wordsworth, Hardy and Wallace Stevens into  beautiful Urdu ?

(9) Firaq's  poetry is not divorced from the civilizational ethos of India and through  his work,  he contributes for  its continuity.

Let me examine Firaq's thought process as it appears in his poem"Aadhi  Raat" ."Aadhi  Raat" was written around second world war when Russian troops were about to enter Berlin to defeat Nazi Germany .

While describing midnight's  pillared silence  and moonlight  set against his individual  sorrow , loneliness and wait in poem  "Aadhi Raat " , Firaq takes  many  turns in between  to  touch issues of humanity at large; I mean issues  like war, poverty , revolution  etc.

" Jidhar nigaah karein ek Ataah khaamoshi,
zameen se ta mah o anjum sukoot ke meenar,
khadaa hai ouss mein chup chaap harsingaar ka Peid,
Yeh chaandni hai ke umdaa huva hai rus saagar,
Gulon ne chaadar e Shabnam se munh  Lapeit Liya,
Labon pe so gayi kaliyon ki muskaraahat bhi,
Jagaa Raha hai koyee Aadhi raat ka jadoo
Ek Aadmi  hai ke itna  dukhi  hai duniya mein ."

Turns in between..

Na muflisi ho to kitni  haseen hai duniya,

Ab inquilab mein shaayad ziyaada deir nahin,

Sipaah e roos hain ab kitni  door  Berlin se ..

So long so much. Next time more observations on his poetry.

Me  khizaan bhi huun me bahaar bhi
Meri zindagi hai woh zindagi,
Ke misaal e Barg e Gule chaman
Jo gaahe kafan gaahe Pairhan....

( Firaq)

I am the Autumn,
I am the spring,
Such a protean life i lead,
Like the petals of a rose flower,
Now for the coffin,
Now for the wreath..

{Avtar Mota) 

Creative Commons LicenseCHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
Based on a work at http:\\autarmota.blogspot.com\.