Monday, December 4, 2023



                     BOOK REVIEW

                                                                              NUND  RISHI
(Poetry And Politics in Medieval Kashmir )
Published by Cambridge University Press
ISBN 978-1-009-10045-8
Year of Publication.. 2023

 Abir Bazaz teaches English at Ashoka University, Sonept (Haryana). He holds degrees from the Universities of Chicago and Minnesota .Having studied intersections of mysticism and politics in Kashmiri literature, he appears  well equipped for the subject that he has dealt through  the book under review. While reading the book , one observes that  the study of the author is deep and profound  done with a  mind  that is  open and free from already set  notions  or beliefs . This book represents   Abir Bazaz's long-term assignation with the poetic corpus of Nund Rishi (1378–1440) who is revered as the 'flag-bearer of Kashmir' ('Alamdār-e Kashmir) . Considered as a spiritual successor of Lal Ded , the poetry of Nund Rishi resonated with a society in flux accepting new faith  ( Islam )while retaining some centuries old  beliefs and  practices . Nund Rishi  reached a large audience  not through the  complex Islamic theology, but a mystical form of poetry called shruks through which he tried to present ‘Sahaja‘ ( simple or natural )’ Islam and also  amalgamate the core philosophy of the  new faith ( Islam )  with the old faith ( Hinduism ) .This amalgamation  is clearly evident when Nund Rishi says, ‘Baar Khodaaya Paap Nivaar‘. Like Lal Ded , Nund Rishi also brings in Shiva implicitly or  explicitly at many places in his Shruks thereby  owning Lal Ded  and her philosophy . He even desires to reach the high pedestal of Lal Ded when he says this in one of his Shruks ;-

“Tas Padmaan Porichay lalle 
Yemi gali amrit pivo
Tami shiv vuch thali thali
Tyth  me var dito divo”……( Lal Ded )


( Homage to that Lala of padmanpur (Pamore )
Who drank her fill of nectar 
The one who saw Shiva here and there 
Grant me the same boon  my Deva ( God) )

Apart from this book , Bazaz’s research includes subjects like Indian cinema ,religion, violence  and literature .Along with Alexandra  Verini, he  has edited a book titled, “Gender and Medieval Mysticism  From India to Europe “.

Published by Cambridge University Press , this 281 page book is  divided into four chapters titled , The Sahja Islam Of Nund Rishi , Practicing Death , Becoming Nothing and Vernacular Apocalypse. About 33 pages at the end have been devoted to Conclusion, Bibliography and Index. The author has dedicated the book to Haneefa , Shamshad and Trilok. There is a stream of names in the acknowledgements list which includes the author’s friends and  teachers in Kashmir , Sonepat ,New Delhi and  overseas Universities .The book is available on major online platforms like Amazon and Flipkart .From the bibliography and footnotes at various pages , one is impressed by the hard work and study of the author for this book . To explain the beliefs and mysticism of Nund Rishi , Bazaz brings into discussion  the philosophy of Lal Ded , Rishi Order of Kashmir ,Nirguna Bhakti , Tawheed ,Kubrawiyya Sufis , Sayyid Ali Hamdani’s role ,Via Negativa philosophy of Greeks , Philosophy of Jacques Derrida , Socrates, Heidegger etc. Before reading the book, one needs to know the peculiarities of the Rishi Order of Kashmir of which Nund Rishi happened to be a towering personality . In Kashmir ,the Rishis ( mostly Muslims ) were wandering saints who never married. They did penance and meditation .  Having  put control over  Kaam , Krodh Lobh , Moh and Ahankaar , these  Rishis had no temptation for material objects .They never denounced men belonging to other faiths . They  planted fruit trees for others  .They were vegetarians .

“Hachivih  harinji  Petsiyuv  Kaan  Gom
Abakh  chhaan  pyom  yath raazdaney
Manz  baag bazaaras kulfa ross vaan gom
Tiratha ross paaan gom kus maali zaaney”……(Lal Ded )


( A grass arrow to lightwood bow I have become
An unskilled carpenter fell upon this capital
A shop without a lock ,in the middle of the bazaar, I have become
A self without a future , who knows my state )

The book starts with above popular Vaak of Lal Ded .The Vaak aptly conveys the predicament of Kashmiris in general  after the arrival of Pakistan sponsored armed insurgency  in the Kashmir valley  .This violent  insurgency  changed many things in Kashmir foremost being the spirit of accommodation , tolerance and peaceful co-existence .

In the first chapter titled , ‘The Sahaja Islam of Nund Rishi ‘, the author discusses  in detail salient features of  the Islam as it  was  practiced in the  Kashmir Valley. The Islam in Kashmir has been exclusive and distinct in its nature and one can’t think of the same without taking into account the  Rishi Order of Kashmiri Sufism as distinguished from the Shariah oriented Persianate Sufi  Orders. According to Bazaz , Islam as preached by Nund Rishi had Sahaja ( easy or natural ) elements carried down from Tantric traditions common to both Hinduism and Buddhism. Through Sahaja , Nund Rishi tried to evolve common religious vocabulary in Kashmir. The author emphasizes that for practicing Sahaja , Kashmiris also named him Sahajanand or the  one who tasted the bliss of being natural or simple. The Sahaja Islam of Nund Rishi  connects him with Sahaja of Gorakh Nath , Kabir , Ravidas and Guru Nanak. Like Kabir   , Nund Rishi also had been a critic of  the Mullah/ priest . According to Bazaz , Nund Rishi urges  a Muslim to train in spiritual exercise lest his prayers are reduced to merely bending his body . According to Bazaz, Nund Rishi calls the   ascetic practices of exercising control over the senses as the true Namaz  or Salah. For this Nund Rishi  uses the phrase ’danthra namaz’ or  the Tantric Namaz. Bazaz feels that the word  danthra (Tantra) appearing in the Shruks of Nund Rishi  is indicative of ‘Saiva milieu ‘ in which he composed his mystical verse .

“Poz yodh bozakh pantsh nomarakh
Nata maz nomarakh soi chhai namaz
Shiv ta shuniyas muil yodh karakh
Sidho soi chhai danthra namaz “…..( Nund Rishi )

( if you are true , you will bend the five senses
Or else you will be bending only your frame
You must unite Shiva with  Nothingness
O Sidha , that alone is the Tantra Namaz)

What Nund Rishi emphasises for self correction is closer to Neti Neti concept of Vedanta . Neti Neti comes very close to the ‘Via Negativa ‘ concept in ‘Apophatic Theology‘ that arrived from ancient Greeks to the  Western philosophy .

The 17th-century French philosopher Rene Descartes believed ,‘Man is the only animal who is conscious of his death’ . Like Lal Ded ,death is a major theme appearing in  the poetry of Nund Rishi. The second chapter titled , ‘Practicing Death’ deals with  ‘Death Consciousness’ and impermanence of life  in the Shrukhs of Nund Rishi. According to Bazaz , Nund Rishi  advocates for a serious consciousness of  death as paramount and fundamental  to righteous conduct . A consciousness that is not to be confused with the fear of death  . For Nund  Rishi  ,‘Death Consciousness’ is a reformative force and a fundamental strength within .The author discusses  Rahman Rahi’s work on Nund Rishi  in this segment to shape his argument . Nund  Rishi  also reinforces the Islamic tradition that death is inescapable and it does not spare the  prophets and the saints .In some Shruks , he compares death to a  healing or a curative experience . He  calls death a sweet drink which heals : ‘Margitch sharbat chana ros no balizeh’  ( death is a sweet drink without which you shall not heal ). Nund Rishi also speaks about “die before your death” or  ‘Marno bronh marizihe’ . This is broadly a Sufi  concept  of voluntary dying. The Quran says ,”Surely we are for God and to Him , we shall return “   implying death is simply a  return to  benevolent fold of the creator. In chapter two, Bazaz deals  this subject in a brilliant manner .
 In chapter three of the book titled , ‘ Becoming Nothing ‘ Bazaz discuses the concept of Shunyata or Void or Emptiness as it appears  in the Shruks of Nund Rishi. After Lal Ded , Nund Rishi appears to be deeply engrossed in the study of Shunyata ( shinya ) or Emptiness / Nothingness/ Void. This void or Emptiness has a Rig Vedic origin  especially in the  Nasadiya Sukta . The primordial ocean mentioned in Rig Veda is synonymous with the concept of Emptiness or Void. Emptiness' or 'Void' is an expression also used in Mahayana  Buddhist thought primarily to mark a distinction between the way things appear to be and the way they actually are, together with attendant attitudes which are held to be spiritually beneficial. Bazaz has skillfully  dealt Nothingness or Void   appearing in the  Shruks of Nund Rishi in this chapter bringing Mahayana Buddhism , Kalima (La Illaha illallah ) ,Japanese philosopher Keiji  Nishitani, poet Rehman Rahi, philosopher Jacques Derrida ,Samuel Beckett, Kabir, Dadu Dayal, Guru Nanak and  Fazlur Rehman ( Islamic scholar )  into discussion to support his arguments.  We also know that Nothingness  or  Void also echoes in the poetry of almost all the  prominent Sufi poets of Kashmir  including Sochh Kraal, Rehman Dar , Shamas Faquir, Wahab  Khar ,Samad Mir and many more .Even  one Sufi poet used “ Kenh-nai’ ( Nothing ) as his pseudonym . Bazaz is of the view that Nothingness in Nund Rishi’s poetry also comes from a serious thinking of political equality at a time when new Muslim Sultanate appears as mixed in caste ,clan and race as the order it had displaced . Bazaz believes  that the concept of Nothingness or Void  in Nund Rishi’s poetry also gives rise to existential politics ; a challenge that the thinking of death and  Nothingness in Nund Rishi pose to the positive theological politics that tied monarchical power to Islamic  theology .Bazaz  concludes that the political impulse in Nund Rishi is not anarchic but utopian.

The fourth and the last chapter is titled .’Vernacular  Apocalypse’  that deals with the vernacular vision of Islam as appearing in the Shruks of Nund Rishi. Apocalypse genre is fundamental to all Abrahamic religions . Bazaz believes that the traditional Muslim apocalyptic  is deployed by Nund Rishi and hurled against the political structure of his time ( the new Shahmiri  Muslim Sultanate ) and also displaced on to  metaphors of a  sudden inner transformation .

“Ha ha aki sangar taar zan vazaan
Gunbad vazaan dun dun kith
Su zan isharav satyen bozaan
Ko zan bozan nu dum dumu  gath ..”  (Nund Rishi)


( A single breath and the mountain will blow off
like carder’s wool off a string.
The domes resound with the blows
The good shall recognise it from its signs
The evil shall not even hear the revolutions of the drum.)

 According to Bazaz, this Shruk clearly deals with the theme of the apocalyptic and defines the relation between political and religious thinking of Nund RishiThis Shruk refers to  Damaru , a percussion drum of Shiva  together with Surah Al- Qar’ia ( chapter 101 of the Quran )where the apocalyptic emerges as the disappearance of the ground and the moment when the mountains blow off like wool from the carder’s string. Bazaz uses Rahi’s essays on Nund Rishi  to base his discourse in this last chapter apart from bringing in  the writings of G N Gauhar.

 Bazaz concludes  with a  truthful note saying   ,“ I may have raised more questions here than I have answered . But it is in the hope that future researchers are able to present a more complex and fuller picture of the intellectual and political legacy of this revered  Kashmiri saint , popularly called ‘Alamdar e Kashmir ’ or the flag-bearer  of Kashmir .” Bazaz also admits that he could not discuss several other themes like nafas(ego), ishq (love),ilm (knowledge),faqr (asceticism ) etc. that appear prominently in the Shruks of Nund Rishi  as these deserve  separate treatment. According to Bazaz,  even Sahaja needed more detailed discussion. He believes that a comprehensive study of Nund Rishi and the Rishi Order of Kashmiri Sufism needs to be more interdisciplinary to engage it with the fields of South Asian history, anthropology, Indology ,Islamic philosophy and post colonial theory.  The book opens many windows and doors for a more holistic and serious research on  Nund Rishi , the tallest saint of the  Rishi Order of Kashmiri Sufism . I recommend this book or love’s labour to all who are interested in something new and serious written on  much loved and revered  saint of Kashmir  .

( Avtar Mota )


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Saturday, December 2, 2023




"Autumn is a second  spring when every leaf is a flower." 
( Albert Camus)

"Meri samt se usse aey saba
Ye payaam e akhir e gham suna,
Abhī dekhnā hai to dekh jā
Ke khizaan hai apni bahaar par....."
( Jigar Moradabadi)

“Autumn” is, surprisingly, a newer addition to the English language when compared to 'Fall ' . It wasn't until the 17th century that British English started using ' autumn' more than “Fall,” and it's taken from the French automne, which itself goes back to the Latin autumnus.  According to Merriam-Webster, while both terms are technically accurate, 'Fall'  is favoured in America and autumn is preferred in the U.K., where both terms originated. 

The astronomical definition of autumn is based on the position of the Earth in relation to the sun and runs from the autumn equinox until the winter solstice. The meteorological definition of autumn uses the Gregorian calendar and counts the months of September, October, and November as autumn.

Crisp autumn temperatures and refreshing breezes mean that time outside can be enjoyed without fear of sunburn or sweating . It's the perfect season for getting stuck into active hobbies like walking, cycling, and gardening.The time of year that Keats called the 'Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness', autumn is a season famous for its harvest times, turning leaves, cooling temperatures and darkening nights.Autumn is the  time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.

I believe autumn is a journey and not a destination.It is about changing colours and  falling leaves that unfold the mysteries of the nature. Who doesn't love autumn for the changing colours of leaves? Trees that were once green explode into beautiful hues of gold, red, and orange.The landscape comes to its boney structure. Every tall and shady tree  looks like  a clothless  saint , a Darvesh or a Faquir. The naked trees and the falling leaves teach lessons  about ups and downs of life . 

I call it a time of two seasons.At daytime, you have the summer while  winter is knocking at the gate at night. Isn't autumn the year's last yet profoundly  loveliest smile.

It is also the season of separation. The leaves separate from the tree. They fall ,fly away and create avenues for new leaves to  arrive  . They fallen leaves merge into the  soil and silently convey  Rumi's  poetic line to the  earth  

"Hamchoo sabzeh bar baarha roeda -em" 
( Like green turf , we shall keep coming again and again. ) 

Kabir also joins Rumi to convey the tale of the  separation of leaves from the tree  in autumn
"Taruvar paat so yuun kahe
Suno paat ek baat
Yeh Ghar yaahi reet hai
Ikk aavat ikk jaat"

(The tree says this to the leaf , 
" O leaf '.listen to what I say :
In this house there's the tradition -
One comes ,the other goes away .")

(Avtar Mota)

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Sunday, November 26, 2023



                                                                 (Photo Sri Aurobindo 1908)

                                                       ISHA UPANISHAD

( Translation And Commentary By Sri Aurobindo ( 1872-1950 )


“ The wise man holds all beings in the self and the self in all beings ; for this reason , he doesn’t hate anyone .”…Isha Upanishad

“ For him who sees everywhere oneness, how can there be delusion or grief?”…Isha Upanishad

“He who understands the correct meaning of vidyā ( knowledge ) and avidyā ( Ignorance ) and thereby brings about a balance between them and does upāsana (meditation) on this balanced understanding, such a man crossing the world of death, attains immortality.”…Isha Upanishad

“Only through doing actions here and now and in a specific way, one should desire to live a hundred years. There is no other way, Karma will not taint a man.”…Isha Upanishad


I love Upanishads . I firmly believe that language does not limit the understanding of Indian Philosophy. It is limited by the lack of an open mind and strong preconceived notions or judgments .Having read them once , I keep visiting some favourite texts like , Isha , Kena Katha, Svetasvatara, Mundaka, Chāndogya, Bṛhadāraṇyaka, and Taittirīya Upanishad. I read Upanishads with commentary. Without commentary, it would be impossible to get anything meaningful out of these sacred philosophical texts .

The sages, whose thoughts and teachings we find in the Upanishads, seem to be as much inspired by constructive doubt as the most modem men of science. Their questions and answers indicate that they lived. in an age when, alongside of conformism and the rigid maintenance of old practices, men thirsted' for Truth, and the atmosphere was charged with the boldest free- thought: Satyamevajayate nanrtam satyenapantha vitato devayanah (Truth alone wins, not falsehood; by truth, the path of the Devas is widened ) .

 The spirit of inquiry dominated the mind and lives of the sages whose teachings are recorded in the Upanishads. The 'spacious imagination, the majestic sweep of thought, and the spirit of exploration with which, urged by the compelling thirst for Truth, the Upanishad teachers and pupils dig into the Open Secret of the Universe, make this most ancient among the world's holy books still the most modem and most satisfying. In the Upanishads, we have a scripture that displays the most scientific spirit in connection with spiritual inquiry. And lastly , the Upanishads make the reader’s mind transparent, light, free, friendly, ethical, and all-inclusive.

 For the second time , I have taken up Isha Upanishad for reading. This time it is Sri Aurobindo’s  translation and commentary . Sri Aurobindo’s wonderful translation, amazing commentary and profoundly illuminating footnotes to the Isha Upanishad have been published in the shape of a book by Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry. Sri Aurobindo completed this work in 1908. I have yet to come across a translation and commentary of any Upanishad that is as illuminating as Sri Aurobindo’s work on Isha Upanishad. It does literally sweep the reader’s mind.

Sri Aurobindo, also known as Aurobindo Ghose and also spelled as Aravinda was a yogi, seer, philosopher, poet, and Indian. His epic poem Savitri is one of the greatest works of him. It is based on the legend of Savitri and Satyavan in the Mahabharata. Aurobindo became inspired by the story of Bankim's novel Anandamath. His works, particularly “The Human Cycle” and “The Ideal of Human Unity“, present a comprehensive vision for the transformation of society and the evolution of humanity. According to him, Jnana (knowledge), Bhakti (devotion) and Karma (work ethics) can lead man to the divine path. But the synthesis of spirituality, creativeness and intellectuality is essential for a sound personality.

Aurobindo’s education began in a Christian convent school in Darjiling. While still a boy, he was sent to England for further schooling. He entered the University Of Cambridge where he became proficient in two classical and several modern European languages. After returning to India in 1892, he held various administrative and professorial posts in Vadodara and Kolkata. Turning to his native culture, he began the serious study of Yoga and Indian languages, including classical Sanskrit. After learning Sanskrit, he wrote extensively on Vedas, Upanishads, Yoga and other scriptures. He wrote poetry, plays, philosophical essays and commentaries on many other scriptures.

Upanishads are the most widely used portion of the Vedas in Hindu theological discourses. Upanishads are the textual basis for one of the most significant schools of philosophy from India. The Upanishads present a vision of an interconnected universe with a single, unifying principle behind the apparent diversity in the cosmos, any articulation of which is called Brahman. Within this context, the Upanishads teach that Brahman resides in the Atman, the unchanging core of the human individual. The Upanishads are the oldest philosophical system in the world and the oldest Upanishads predate the Bible by 800 years. Upanishads are vehicles of illumination and not of instruction, composed for seekers who had already a general familiarity with the ideas of the Vedic and Vedantic Seers and even some personal experience of the truths on which they were founded. The reader, or rather the hearer, was supposed to proceed from light to light, confirming his intuitions and verifying by his experience, not submitting the ideas to the judgment of the logical reason. To the modern mind this method is invalid and inapplicable; it is necessary to present the ideas of the Upanishad in their completeness, underline the suggestions, supply the necessary transitions and bring out the suppressed but always implicit reasoning. The central idea of the Upanishads is a reconciliation and harmony of fundamental opposites. None could understand this better than Sri Aurobindo. If you don’t believe me then read his translation of Isha Upanishad. Isha Upanishad also known as Shri Ishopanishad is the shortest Upanishad that forms a chapter of the Shukla Yajurveda. It is a brief poem of 17 or 18 verses. Adi Shankara writes that the mantras and hymns of Isha Upanishad are not used in rituals, because their purpose is to enlighten the reader as to "what is the nature of Self (Atman)?"; For the benefit of my readers, I upload some excerpts from Sri Aurobindo’s footnotes and commentary to Isha Upanishad.


“Vidya ( knowledge ) and Avidya ( Ignorance ), Becoming and Non-becoming are reconciled by their mutual utility to the progressive self-realisation which proceeds from the state of mortality to the state of Immortality .Enjoyment of the universe and all it contains is the object of world-existence, but renunciation of all in desire is the condition of the free enjoyment of all. The renunciation demanded is not a moral constraint of self-denial or a physical rejection, but an entire liberation of the spirit from any craving after the forms of things.”


 “ Sometimes, action is shunned because it is thought to be inconsistent with freedom. The man when he acts, is supposed to be necessarily entangled in the desire behind the action, in subjection to the formal energy that drives the action and in the results of the action. These things are true in appearance, not in reality.”


“Desire is only a mode of the emotional mind which by ignorance seeks its delight in the object of desire and not in the Brahman who expresses Himself in the object. By destroying that ignorance one can do action without entanglement in desire.”


“Unity is the eternal truth of things, diversity a play of the unity. The sense of unity has therefore been termed Knowledge or Vidya, the sense of diversity Ignorance or Avidya. But diversity is not false except when it is divorced from the sense of its true and eternal unity. The individual may regard himself as eternally different from the One, or as eternally one with It, yet different, or he may go back entirely in his consciousness to the pure Identity. But he can never regard himself as independent of some kind of Unity, for such a view would correspond to no conceivable truth in the universe or beyond it.”


 “Vision is not sufficient; one must become what inwardly one sees. The whole inner life must be changed so as to represent perfectly in all parts of the being what is understood by the intellect and seen by the inner perception.”


“ The world is a cyclic movement (sa ˙ms ¯ara) of the Divine Consciousness in Space and Time. Its law and, in a sense, its object is progression; it exists by movement and would be dissolved by cessation of movement. But the basis of this movement is not material; it is the energy of active consciousness which, by its motion and multiplication in different principles (different in appearance, the same in essence), creates oppositions of unity and multiplicity, divisions of Time and Space, relations and groupings of circumstance and Causality. All these things are real in consciousness, but only symbolic of the Being, somewhat as the imaginations of a creative Mind are true representations of itself, yet not quite real in comparison with itself, or real with a different kind of reality.”


“ The movement of Mind in Nature is thus able to conceive of the object as the reality and the Inhabitant as limited and determined by the appearances of the object. It conceives of the object, not as the universe in one of its frontal appearances, but as itself a separate existence standing out from the Cosmos and different in being from all the rest of it. It conceives similarly of the Inhabitant. This is the illusion of ignorance which falsifies all realities. The illusion is called ahamkara, the separative ego sense which makes each being conceive of itself as an independent personality. The result of the separation is the inability to enter into harmony and oneness with the universe and a consequent inability to possess and enjoy it. But the desire to possess and enjoy is the master impulse of the Ego which knows itself obscurely to be the Lord, although owing to the limitations of its relativity, it is unable to realise its true existence. The result is discord with others and oneself, mental and physical suffering, the sense of weakness and inability, the sense of obscuration, the straining of energy in passion and in desire towards self-fulfilment, the recoil of energy exhausted or disappointed towards death and disintegration. Desire is the badge of subjection with its attendant discord and suffering. That which is free, one and lord, does not desire, but inalienably contains, possesses and enjoys .”

( Avtar Mota )


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Friday, November 10, 2023




In 2018, I met a South Korean in a book shop in Upper West-Side , Manhattan ,New York. He was looking for a book on  Indian god Shiva. I helped him to buy one and in the course of our discussions, he told me this:-

“  India and South korea have strong cultural ties since ancient times . Many Indians,  more particularly people from Cashmire ( Kashmir ) gave us Buddha , Shiva , Brahma and Indra .In Korea, we have a concept of the creator of the universe . We call  Brahma as Beomcheon . We call Indra as Joseokcheon and and Skanda as Witaecheon.  Those who came to teach us Mahayana Buddhism , were worshippers of Hindu deities as well. Indra and Brahma sculptures can be seen in some old temples of Korea . Skanda is also Kartikeya or son of Shiva and Parvati.All these Hindu gods were absorbed in our culture and became Buddhist gods in South Korea. We gave them Korean names. 
We Koreans have a deep and strong link with Ayodhya city . Our history tells us that a  princess of Ayodhya named Heo Hwang-ok, also known as Suriratna, went all the way to South  Korea some 2000 years ago to marry King Suro of Geumgwan Gaya. They are our ancestors . We know Lakshmai , Sarsawati and  Durga .”

( Avtar Mota )

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Maharaja Ghulab Singh consolidated the areas of Jammu and Kashmir through roads and bridges. It is he who built the first wooden cart bridge over River Chenab in Ramban and linked Jammu with Kashmir .The bridge uplifted the status of Ramban which at the moment is a district from mere 15 households .The bridge brought unimaginable happiness and development in the area and  the subsequent Dogra rulers used  this route to go to the Kashmir valley.The construction of the bridge entered Dogra folklore.The Dogra rulers built another bridge at Lakhanpur over River Ravi linking the state of Jammu And Kashmir with Punjab. 

Ramban  pul baneya 
 Baneya vaaj garariya
Teri meri preet lagiye, 
lagiye vaaj rawariya
Taare tudaan peiyaan
kandiyaan peiyaan barsaala

( Avtar Mota )

Taare ( dhaare)  tudaan peiyaan
Kandian peyiyaan barsaala..."

The mountain tops had a snowfall 
and the Kandi area had rains)

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Wednesday, November 8, 2023



( Persian scholar and historian Dr K N Pandita with the book ) 

( Tributes and Recollections )
By Avtar Mota
(Pages 338. ISBN 968-93-5782-904-5
Printed at Thomson Press ( India )  Ltd
Published in November 2023)

Read the book to know about the contribution and some fascinating anecdotes  relating to people like, Jiwan Lal Mattoo ( who discovered Mohammad Rafi ) , Prof Peter Raina ( Poland ) , Satish Kaul(Amitabh Bachan of Punjabi cinema ) , Persian scholar and historian Dr Kashi Nath Pandita ,  artist Som Nath Butt, Ghulam Nabi Doolwal( poet and Chalant singer )  melody queen Raj Begum,  actor Shadi Kaul, Uma Khosla or Nikki Appa , actor Balraj Sahni,  playwright Dr Shankar Raina,  composer Dewan Virender Mohan ,  writer ,painter and pioneer of radio drama Pran Kishore Kaul, filmmaker Arun Kaul, Hakim Shyam Lal Bhat , artist Raqib Shaw, poet Dina Nath Nadim ,poet Radhey Nath Masarat, poet Sham Lal of Mahind ( Bijbihara ) , Shanta Kaul ( first woman announcer from Kashmir ) , sacred geometry of artist G R Santosh , Sufiana singer Ustad Ramzan Joo, Pandit Ved Lal Dhar Vakil, Prof Sri Kanth Toshakhani, Gopi Nath Bhat (  singer and dancer  from Kashmir ), Pandit Jia Lal Saraf,  Santoor maestro  Pandit Bhajan Sopori, Som Nath Sadhu, radio artist and playwright Pushkar Bhan,  Govind Navdhara ( his Charan-Bulgaar or ointment for frostbite), stage and cinema artist Triloke Dass, Makhan Lal Saraf, poet Rajab Hamid, Dr Ali Jan,  the Kashmiri  Pandit who opened first tailoring shop in Lal Chowk, Naswaar or snuff  consumption in Kashmir,  fermented rice water or Kaanz drinking in Kashmir,  Slacks Molvi of  Kashmir, Mahadev Bishta , Halwai Shops  of Kashmir ,Ramzaan Saad-maqaar ( fake Syed),Samual Baqal ( the first educated Muslim  Christian from Kashmir), Ben Ded ( wife of R C Kak ,Ex Prime Minister ), Habba Kadal ( a hub of Kashmiri Pandits ), Kashmiri cradle songs , Flowers of Kashmir, Rainawari locality( men and memories), Hukh, Hatab, Heater And Stove (power theft and  kitchen fuels ) , Ganda Oluv ( onions and potatoes ),Common Bhajans and Leelas of Kashmir, and many more stories

" I read it  nonstop . Gripping narrative . A great cultural journey undertaken through the book." Prof J Martin .

The book is available on Amazon worldwide.






In India, it is currently available at ..

A R V Enterprises prop  Rohit Pandita ..
9596976373...( you can spk from 10 am  to 10 PM any day) Pan India  distributor for the book  . He can courier in 2 days . Avail   discount of 100 rupees from Rohit Pandita .Net Price Rs 460/-

( Avtar Mota)

Creative Commons License
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:\\\.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023



SaMaPa  SANGEET  SAMMELAN  2023 ( 4th to 5th November, 2023)


SaMaPa 19th three day Sangeet Sammelan concluded on the 5th of November ,2023. Held at Kamani Auditorium , Copernicus Marg,New Delhi , this annual festival is a pioneering effort of the Sopori family to spread goodwill and happiness in masses through the Indian Classical, Sufiana, folk and light music. It was Pandit Bhajan Sopori the veteran Santoor maestro who gave practical shape to the idea of his illustrious father and doyen of classical music Pandit Shambhoo Nath Sopori and established SaMaPa or Sopori Academy of Performing Arts. Apart from holding the annual music festival ,SaMaPa has also been honouring highly talented musicians, musicologists and highly creative persons from the country with prestigious SaMaPa Awards . The initiative of Pandit Bhajan Sopori has now become a major platform for the propagation and promotion of Hindustani classical music in the country . The vision of Pandit Shambhoo Nath Sopori and the legendary maestro Pandit Bhajan Sopori is being translated into a cultural movement by his son Pandit Abhay Rustum Sopori who ably assisted by his great mother Aparna Sopori . And SaMaPa is moving efficiently towards its cherished mission : Jan Jan Tak Sangeet – Music to the Masses .

This year also, apart from performances by a galaxy of artists ( vocalists and instrumentalists ), the award distribution ceremony was a major event of the festival . There is hardly any established musician in the country who has not been invited or honoured by SaMaPa in these annual festivals . Some previous recipients of SaMaPa Awards are; Vidushi Girija Devi ( renowned vocalist ), Dr L Subramaniam( renowned violinist ) ,Pandit Birju Maharaj (renowned Kathak dancer), Hema Malini ( actress and Bharatnatyam dancer) , Ustad Amjad Ali Khan ( Sarod maestro) ,Begum Parveen Sultana ( renowned vocalist ) , Sh. Anoop Jalota( devotional singer ), Pandit Debu Chowdhary ( renowned Sitarist) , Pandit Vijay Shanker Mishra ( musicologist and music critic), Chetan Joshi ( Hindustani classical music, flute ) ,Pandit Rajan and Pandit Sajan Mishra (renowned vocalists ), Ustad Abdul Haleem Jaffer Khan ( veteran Sitar player), P Susheela ( playback singer) , Vidhushi Malini Awasthi ( light classical and folk music ), Ustad Mohi Bahauddin Dagar ( Rudra Veena ) ,Ghulam Hassan Sofi ( Kashmiri light music) , Raj Begum ( Kashmiri folk and light music) , Kailash Mehra Sadhu ( Kashmiri ,Dogri and light music), Romalo Ram ( Dogri folk music), Ghulam Mohammad ( Dogri folk music), Waheed Jeelani( Kashmiri light music), Ustad Ghulam Mohammad Sazanawaz ( Sufiana music), Rafeeq Masoodi ( Kashmiri art, culture and language ) , Abdul Rashid Qureshi ( Pahari and Gojri music ), Abdul Gani Rather Trali ( Kashmiri folk music ), Gulzar Ahmed Ganai ( Kashmiri folk Music) , Abdul Rashid Hafiz( Kashmiri Sufiana and folk music), Munir Ahmed Mir ( Kashmiri light music ), Shameem Azad ( light music ), Agnishekhar ( poet ,writer and scholar), Arun Chatterjee ( art and music critic), Ravinder Kaul ( music critic and journalist),Shashi Prabha Tiwari ( music journalist ),Deo Datt Sharma ( writer and music critic ) and many more. Following persons were conferred  by SaMaPa 2023 Awards :-

1 Pandit Dal Chand Sharma (Pakhwaj maestro ).                                       


2 Dr Rosalin Patasani Mishra ( Parichay Foundation ,,culture and music)


3 Shahnaz Rashid ( Kashmiri poet and translator )


4 Avtar Mota ( extensive writing on art and culture of Kashmir and columnist )


5 Prabhakar Kashyap and Diwakar Kashyap( Hindustani classical music ..vocalists)


6 Viraj Joshi ( Hindustani classical music..vocalist )


7 Sadhna Shrivastav ( film maker, cultural consultant and television and stage presenter )


In this three-day music festival, one could see many well known musicians of the country enthralling the audience with their performance.Ustad Murad Ali, the Sarangi maestro kept the audience spellbound. Viraj Joshi ,grandson of Bharat Ratna Pandit Bhimsen Joshi was superb in his vocal presentation. Vidushi Subhra Guha( vocalist) drew huge applause for her presentation. Her accompanying instrumentalists like Tabla maestro Pandit Ram Kumar Mishra and harmonium player Ustad Zakir Dholpuri were simply brilliant. Her Gayaki was an electrifying performance. Similar was the Kathak dance by the troupe led by Deepak Maharaj and Ms Ragini Maharaj. One falls short of words in praising the brilliant performance of Pandit Abhay Rustum Sopori ( Santoor maestro ) in this festival. His accompanying musicians like Ustad Rafiuddin Sabri ( Tabla) and Rishi Shanker Upadhyay ( Pakhawaj ) also deserve appreciation. Kashyap Bandhus ( vocalists , Prabhakar Kashyap and Diwakar Kashyap ) were equally superb.


    ( Pandit Vijay Shanker Mishra ..Coordinator) 
                     ( Vidhushi Subhra Guha )


                     ( Ajay P Jha ..Mohan Veena )                            
                ( Zakir Dholpuri ...Harmonium )
                   ( Ustad Murad Ali ..Sarangi )
                   ( Ragini Maharaj...Kathak)
         ( Pandit Ram Kumar Mishra ..Tabla )

Some other prominent artists who performed in the festival include Vidhushi Shashwati Mandal ( vocalist ) , Ustad Akram Khan ( Tabla) , Pandit Durjay Bhowmick ( Tabla ), Joydeep Mukherjee ( Sursingar and Sarod) ,Shyam Rastogi ( Surbahar and Sitar) ,Ankush Nayak ( Sitar) ,Ajay P Jha ( Mohan Veena) ,Promita Mukherjee ( harmonium ) , Zuheb Khan ( Tabla), Sabina Mumtaz Islam( vocalist ), Hari Om Hari ( Tabla) ,Vinay Mishra ( harmonium), Ankit Parikh (Pakhawaj ), Aman Ali Khan ( Tabla) , Ustad Salman Warsi ( Pakhawaj), Ustad Varis Khan (Sarangi ) ,Shahnawaz Ali and Subhan Ali ( Sarangi players, grandchildren of Ustad Ghulam Sabir Khan the renowned Sarangi player from Moradabad Gharana ) and Ujith Udhay ( Tabla ) .


On the stage, the festival events were compered by Sadhna Shrivastav who struck a perfect rapport with the audience through her style and eloquence. The Festival Anthem ' Sarsawati Vandana' by the students of Sarla Chopra DAV Public School Noida was composed and sung to perfection. It was a pleasure to see paintings of J&K artist in the foyer of the auditorium exhibited in collaboration with the J&K Academy of Art Culture And Languages by SaMaPa .The festival was coordinated by eminent musicologist and music critic Pandit Vijay Shanker Mishra . Indian Oil and IFFCO were the major sponsors of the festival. It was nice to see Rafeeq Masoodi assisting the Sopori family on and behind the stage during the festival .


It was an amazing experience to see how dedicatedly the vision of Pandit Bhajan Sopori is now being carried forward by his son and renowned Santoor maestro and composer Pandit Abay Rustum Sopori ably assisted by his mother Aparna Sopori. One could see the mother son due receiving guests, ,artists, presenting awards, looking after the minutest issues inside the auditorium and ensuring everything is done to its perfection . One can't explain how much efforts the Sopori family has put in every sphere for this music festival. In spite of the deadly air pollution and public warnings about health hazards, lovers of music and fans of Pandit. Bhjan Sopori and Pandit Abhay Rustom Sopori flocked from across the country to be there at Kamani auditorium on all the three consecutive days. Through this festival ,one got a feeling that music, both classical and Sufiana is in the safest hands. It is going to flourish and bring peace and goodwill. I am more than sure about that now. It is a pleasure to see young Abhay Rustum Sopori maturing to a highly acclaimed composer and Santoor maestro . His command on notes , improvisations ,time control, ability to play through changes and use music theory are simply unbelievable. Divinity moves through his compositions and physical presence on stage . I have yet to see a musician who doesn't praise Pandit Abhay Rustum Sopori.


Dhanya bhaag pitu so jug jaana

Kaan suna Jo poot bakhaana………………….( Goswami Tulsi Das )


( What more luck does that father need in this world ,

who listens his son’s praise from one and all.? )



( Avtar Mota )



 Creative Commons License

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:\\\.