Thursday, May 30, 2019





(Photos..A and S Mota Combine. )

Claude Monet (1840-1926)  came to settle in village Giverny in 1883. He had seen this beautiful village from the window of a train.In Giverny, he  settled on a plot of one hectare and built his studio , a garden full of ponds with   waterlilies  ,a Japanese Bridge and planted so many green trees .

Some masterpieces in Impressionistic style were created here. More than 250 oil paintings done in impressionistic style depicting waterlilies and his garden ponds were done by the great master over here. The village got identified with French impressionism.
After Monet, many more  Artists  stayed in this   scenic village.

This village is about 75 kms from Paris and well connected by road and  siene river.It is located on the Banks of river Siene. A boat ride from Paris  to Giverny is more enjoyable. You can also travel from Paris St-Lazare to Vernon—Giverny on SNCF and Intercités trains .A  flexible one way train ticket  can be bought for something  between 10 to 15 Euros per person.

Monet   untiringly transformed an abandoned domaine into a floral masterpiece, to be the inspiration for many of his greatest works of art.

Monet died on 5th December 1926. He was buried in the family vault near the village church.

Monet's house is a Museum now  . This museum is visited  by so many tourists everyday .

And in 2014, One of Claude Monet’s famous water lilies paintings was sold for £32 million at Sotheby’s in London – the second highest price ever paid for his work at auction.

And take care.. ..Monet's house and gardens are closed from November 1 to  March 31

(Avtar Mota)

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Sunday, May 26, 2019





My Eyes are moist. Saw a similar scene today. Old, alone  and a struggle to keep bones and flesh together in the heat and dust of alien lands. Driven out from her home and hearth, every old kashmiri Pandit woman conveys a silent yet pathetic  tale of   30 Painful years in exile.

And Allama Iqbal's poem " Tasveer e Dard "  came to my mind....I quote: some lines:

Mera rona nahin , rona hai Yeh saare gulistaan ka ,
Vo  gul huun mein khizaan har gul ki hai goya khizaan meri...
Uthaaye kuchh varaq lala ne ,kuchh nargis ne ,kuchh gul ne,
Chaman mein har taraf bikhri huyi hai daastaan meri..

( Avtar Mota)

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Read in a write up from a kashmiri friend that trout fish is indigenous to kashmir.
This is factually incorrect. My dear writer ,please do your home work. I may also correct this writer when he says that the fish in Mattan pond is Trout .No, NOT trout, but local, native “Chiroo” and “Choosh” fish species.
 Let me put facts before all.

Frank Mitchell( known as Mitchell sahib in kashmir )was owner of a carpet factory at Bagh e Dilawar khan and Fateh Kadal.   He was from Scotland and that country is known for Rainbow trouts. It was he who brought seeds of trout fish  and made a successful effort to breed this variety first  in  running waters near Dachhigam  Harwan  sometime around 1900  AD. These seeds  were later used for breeding trout fish in lidder and many other streams in Kashmir. And by 1905, rainbow Trouts were established in major running water streams of kashmir. 
It was he who recommended setting up of Fisheries Department to Maharaja Partap Singh. And  we should be thankful to Frank Mitchell  for this gift .

Two local persons played key role in development of trout fish in kashmir. One happened to be  sudhama ji and other  Gaffar Mir. Sudhama ji  was an  employee in the carpet factory that Frank Mitchell owned. For his innovative work in Kashmir, Frank Mitchell relied  heavily  on Sudhama ji who had profound knowledge of history, Geography and water bodies of Kashmir.

 By 1926 , trout fishing  was developed for European tourists visiting Kashmir .  Maharaja Partap singh took keen interest in this area. Fisheries Department was started  by Maharaja Partap Singh  with Mr. Mitchell as its first  director and Sudhama ji as inspector .Mr Mitchell entrusted the carpet factory job to his brother who was already in kashmir. Mr Mitchell was a widower.

Some shops were opened in Kashmir that sold trout fishing equipment to tourists. I vividly remember a shop " H  GAFFARA FISHING TACKLES"  located on the Bund.  The shop displayed prominently that it was opened in1900by some British  trader  The shop was there till 1990  .  Not sure about its present stsatus .

Maharaja Hari singh developed his private trout farm at Akkad near Seer Salia in Anantnaag Kashmir .
And presently, there are more than 60 authorised  beats for anglers in kashmir . Some popular trout fishing beats of Kashmir are Lidder, Wangath, Gurez, Hamal, Lam, Sindh, Kishenganga, Sukhnag, Doodhganga, Erin, Ferozpur Nallah(Tangmarg), Bringi, Aharbal, Hirpora, Dachigam, Kokernag, Naristan, Madhumati and Nowbugh. In jammu province, i found trout fish in many streams and Nallahs of Bani, Kishtwar, Bhaderwah and  Udhampur areas. So is it seen in river Indus near Leh.

 In kashmir , i saw imported fishing rods manufactured in UK and sold under "Mitchell "brand name. Some more fishing equipment was sold as" Mitchell " brand.
That acknowledges the contribution of Frank Mitchell.

I have personally seen so many streams and Nallahs in Himachal Pradesh full of Trout fish. Presently ,so many beats  in Himachal Pradesh have  become paradise for licensed Anglers . Norwegian technology has revolutionized Trout fishing in streams ,lakes and brooks of Himachal Pradesh. Similar  is the success story of trout fishing in Uttarakhand and Sikkim both places visited by me.

(Avtar Mora)

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019



(Advice to a Friend)

Listen, Girl,
These moments are clouds:
You let them Pass and they are gone .
Soak up their moist touch .
Get drenched .
Don’t waste a single drop.
Listen, Downpours don’t remember streets ,
And sunshine Can’t read Road signs..
( Parveen Shakir )


I share three mini Poems of Parveen shakir rendered  to simple English by me..

Parveen Shakir ( 1952-1994 )  …Three poems …

 (Faasle )
Pehle Khat Roz Likha karte  thhay
Doosre Teesre tum Phone kiya karte thhay
Aur Ab Yeh ki tumhaari Khabrein
Sirf akhbaar se mil Paati hain
( Parveen Shakir )

( Distance)
To begin with   ,
 You wrote a letter every day,
Every  second or third  day ,
You conversed on Telephone ,
And Now ,
 I  know your welfare ,
Only through the newspapers.


 ( Aakhri Dinon ke  Chand Ki Roshini )

Chaand ki Aakhri Taarikein Theen
Kunj e Chaman ki khushboo bhari taariqi mein,
Oss ne diye ki lau ko Onchaa kiya
Aur meri Aankhon mein jhaanka
Phir Hamein kissi Diye ki Zaroorat Nahin Rahi
( Parveen Shakir )

(  Fading Moonlight )

Those were the last days of the fading moon
In the Darkness of the garden’s  Fragrant bower  ,
He raised the lamp’s light
and looked into my eyes  ,
We felt no need to have a  lamp .


 (I will Miss you )

Jaane se pehle
Oss ne mere Aanchal se
 Ek Phiqra baandh diya
“ I will Miss You “
Saara Safar
Khushboo Mein Basa Raha
( Parveen Shakir )

( I will Miss you )
Before Departure
He tied a sentence to my scarf
“ I will Miss you “
 Thereafter ,
Entire Journey 
Remained  Fragrant .

Parveen was well read, widely traveled, connoisseur of Art, music,english and French literature.A top Bureaucrat who died in  a tragic car accident like Albert Camus.

Parveen  had done post graduations  in English Literature  , Linguistics and Bank Administration  followed by a doctorate in Business Administration.She brought newer sensibilities to modern urdu poetry. Her poetry resonates with themes of  Romanticism, Beauty, Intimacy, Distrust, and
existential contradictions etc.

In her poetry ,Parveen also  uses Radha and Sri Krishna to convey  Love, longing  and companionship. I quote :

“Yeh Hawa Kaise Uda Le Gayi Aanchal Mera,
Yuun  Sataane Ki to  aadat Mere Ghanshyaam Ki Thi”

Here she refers to Sri Krishna to  convey the mischief of wind .

Parveen  published 5 books of poetry to great acclaim, the first being 'Khushbu' ['Fragrance'] (1976), followed by 'Sad Barg' ['Marsh Marigold'] (1980), 'Khud Kalami' ['Soliloquy'], 'Inkar' ['Denial'] (1990), and 'Kaf e Aina' ['The Mirror's Edge'] besides a collection of her newspaper columns entitled 'Gosha e Chashm' ['The Sight Corner'].

In 2018, i saw a store in jackson Heights ( Queens New york ) selling Devanand and Parveen Shakir T Shirts. Both enjoy enormous popularity among  emigrants from Indian subcontinent who llive in this area .

During the trip to India for attending International Urdu Conference, Parveen Shakir met  a well-known palmist who forewarned her  that she would die young. And he was proved right .

I conclude with her poem "Tumhaari Humraqs ke naam..."...

( For your dancing partner )

While dancing,
the one upon whose shoulders
 you rest your head,
i too was once in his safeguard.
The difference is that i
was abandoned before dark,
and you shall remain consumed in this false sense of security till dawn.
( Translation ..Courtesy Raza Rumi)

( Avtar Mota )

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Sunday, May 19, 2019



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

                                                           ( Avtar Mota With Prof, Zaffar )




PRAZNITCH  HUNDH GAASH… (‘Splendour Of Recognition'  )

By Prof  Meem  Hai  Zaffar.................( A conversation with the author )

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

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





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

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

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

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

I told him that history is not being taught in proper perspective to our younger generation.
They are ignorant about our real icons and their contribution. There has been unbelievable and glorious contribution of our ancestors to aesthetics, art, literature, medicine ,drama, music, poetry , logic , grammar, and spread of Buddhism in Himalayas and across the Pamir mountains.To this he said: 

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

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

" It is in our conduct, logic, art, poetry , behaviour and thought process. " 

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

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

About kashmiri Sufi poets , he said:

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

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

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

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

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

And about Swami Lakshman joo , he said :

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

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

Let us see how he deals with Sutra  15 ..’ Bal- Laabhe VIshvam aatamsaat Karotee’  ..When  life gets power of  the Chita or mind , it tends to engulf  entire world . Prof  Zaffar clarifies  that when mind comes to know its real nature , the living creature gets a  feeling  that he is an inseparable part of this  entire universe . At that stage , none  is your own and none a stranger   .  It is a strange feeling of being engulfed by the entire creation of Shiva. At that stage , the mind of the individual is  nothing but clear light.  

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

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

(Avtar Mota )



Sometime back ,   fraiend  sent me  a  print out of  Prof  Meem Hai Zaffar’s  write up on Lal Ded   . It was published in *SUTRA "  Journal’s  March 2016 Issue. I quote  from the last para of Prof  Zaffar’s write up on Lal Ded ..

 “ Illusions are the part and parcel of this worldly life, that is why we call this world Mayajala (web of Illusions). The more one is spiritually evolved the less illusions will he or she entertain. The ultimate illusion is that of individual existence, 'Aham' or 'I am'; this is the branch upon which one is standing and even the most evolved persons are not inclined to cut this branch, apprehending that in case of a fall, he or she will hit the ground. But Lal Ded  the  saint  poetess  of Kashmir, the Avtar of Kashmir has all the spiritual powers to cut even the branch upon which she is standing as she has realized that there is no ground to hit. She transcends all particularities and her message is absolutely universal. No doubt its form that is its linguistic expression is particular, as it is expressed in Kashmiri language, but it’s Kernel, that is its essence transcends all particularities.”

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

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