Kashmiri Literature has a history of at least 2,500 years, dating back to the
glory days of Sanskrit.
The use of the Kashmiri language began with the poet Lalleshvari or Lal Ded
(14th century), who wrote mystical verses. Another mystic of her time equally
revered in Kashmir and popularly known as Nunda Reshi wrote powerful
poetry like his senior Lal Ded. Later, came Habba Khatun (16th century)
with her lol style. Other major names are Rupa Bhavani (1621-1721),
Arnimal (d. 1800), Mahmud Gami (1765-1855), Rasul Mir (d.
1870), Paramananda(1791-1864), Maqbool Shah Kralawari (1820-1976).
Also the Sufi poets like Shamas Fakir, Wahab Khar, Soch Kral, Samad Mir,
and Ahad Zargar. Among modern poets are Ghulam Ahmad Mahjur
(1885-1952), Abdul Ahad Azad (1903-1948), and Zinda Kaul
During 1950s, a number of well educated youth turned to Kashmiri writing, both
poetry and prose, and enriched modern Kashmiri writing by leaps and bounds.
Among these writers are Dinanath Nadim (1916-1988), Rahman Rahi, Muzaffar Aazim,
Ghulam Nabi Firaq, Amin Kamil (1923-) , Ali Mohd Lone, Akhtar Mohiuddin and
Sarvanand Kaul 'Premi'. Some later day writers are Hari Krishan Kaul, Majrooh
Rashid, Rattanlal Shant, Hirdhey Kaul Bharti, Nazir Jahangir, Moti Lal Kemmu.
Traditional events are still popular and as in the other parts of Kashmir,
poetry is highly appreciated. The art of storytelling, both entertaining and
educational, considered a way for the transmission of moral teachings, is valued
and a rich oral literature is still alive today.
The main language of Kashmir is Kashmiri. It is said that it is a mixed language
and the greater part of its vocabulary is of Indian origin and it is allied to
that of Sanskritic-Indo-Aryan languages of Northern India.
Kashmiri poetry begins with the works of great mystic poetess Lalleshwari of
14th century. These sayings are the gems of Kashmiri poetry and true knowledge
of yoga. These are deep and sublime. She held a key to many mystic truths. The
following stanza illustrates her deep mystic thought:
"So my lamp of knowledge afar,
Fanned by slow breath from the throat of me.
They, my bright soul to my self revealed.
Winnowed I abroad my inner light.
And with darkness around me sealed,
Did I garner truth and hold Him tight."
(Translated by Sir Richard Temple)
Lal Ded thinks dissolution of 'self' (Aham) essential for Realization.
According to her, Sadhaka has to reach that mental attitude where there is no
difference between 'Him' and 'self'. She says one who considers his own self and
others alike ends the distinction between 'I' and 'you', who treats days and
nights alike, who is above sorrows and pleasures, can only realize God in his
own self. According to her, differentiation between the human soul and
Divine-self was Zero. Lal Ded is the first woman mystic to preach medieval
mysticism in Kashmiri poetry. She used metaphors, riddles and other mediums for
Like Lal Ded, another mystic poet of Kashmiri language is Nunda Rishi, who is
known as Sheikh Nur-ud-Din alias Sahajanand. He has given much importance
to yogic practice- breath control for communion with God. Nunda Rishi favoured
good action which is the secret of happiness in the world. He preached a
disciplined life like this:
Desire is like the knotted wood of the forest
It cannot be made into planks, beams or into cradles;
He who cut and telled it,
Will burn it into ashes.
He considered rosary as a snake and favoured true worship:
Do not go to Sheikh and Priest and Mullah;
Do not feed the cattle or Arkh or leaves;
Do not shut thyself up in mosques or forests;
Enter thine own body with breath controlled in communion with God.