Thursday, September 28, 2017

Shadow of an Illusion

It was dark already. A long journey had led them here. The room was cozy and welcoming though it was bare and bereft of any luxuries of modern life. They sat on their wooden cots.  It was cold outside and it seemed like snow was about to fall. The candle at the corner of the room burnt dim and it seemed not to bother them too much. They had done dozens of such journeys together. It was almost a fetish with them to travel to ends of the world, no matter how desolate the destinations were. The more isolated the destination the more determined they were to travel. Maheshwar was one such place, far away from civilization and its banes. It had no electricity, no running water and there was no question of internet or television.
How peaceful is it here remarked Kaya. Peace is in our souls, no place can be peaceful if our soul is not at peace retorted Maya. Kaya pulled out her Old Monk bottle and drank straight from it. She made a face as she downed the dark colored alcohol. No sooner than she gulped the liquid she held the bottle in her hand and proclaimed, Peace is Here! She opened the heavy wooden window of the room, extended her hand out of the window as if she wanted to fetch something.
Kaya, can you please close that window; it is getting cold in here. That woke Kaya out of her little reverie. In such places she always thought of things that she knew could never be accomplished by infallible human beings. She wanted to know how this universe was created. Who could have created so many celestial bodies and hung them in vacuum. She wanted to know if at all the creation was a secret or just a series of concomitant activities that just happened without any purpose. There were millions of questions she wanted answers to. Simply put she wanted to have a conversation with the creator of this universe about whom she was terribly unsure of. At times she thought of him as the most creative genius who created this colorful and breathing universe, yet there were times when she saw in him a feudal lord who like a dictator controlled every single activity, no matter how insignificant and destiny of every single inhabitant on this planet and elsewhere too if at all life existed elsewhere. She often had a grouse with God that he had created a violent world that was unjust, cruel and never at peace.
She closed the window and looked at Maya. Maya like her name was mythical, from being an unbeliever (she preferred the word rational) she had come about to being a complete theist, the praying types as her sister would say. She had always lived her life in dreams. That’s because she spent most of her free time either reading or sleeping. She lived a lazy life, let us call it easy going, had very few needs and hardly ever felt a need to fulfill even them. A few years back no one could have even hazarded a guess that one day Maya would be a complete believer; one who would spend hours in meditation and prayer. Even in this state she had little empathy for fellow human beings. It is a fruit of their Karma that they are suffering she would often quote verses from the Gita to support her edict. It was a complete turnaround for someone who would only a few years back say that Dashavatar was a myth, an illusion, a Maya like me.
Maheshwar was indeed beautiful. It had timeless pine trees reaching out to azure blue skies. You could see the entire Milky Way in the night. But the best part was it had no road coming into it. One had to walk a good five kilometers to get to this village of about a hundred odd people. A small glacial brook, the only source of water for the village flowed near Jamadhar Bisht’s house, the one where they lived as paid guests.
So, where was I? Maya….
Kaya, you were looking for your usual answers. You see, the way you are today, you are never going to get anywhere close to getting your answers. These are secrets which only those who delve deep into themselves know. They are like pearls hidden deep in the ocean. You are seeking answers to the deepest mysteries my dear.
And you believe you know the answers to all these mysteries?
No I don’t. I accept I don’t. But I know if we delve deep into our selves we will reach a stage where there will be no need to answer these questions. Reflection alone will be enough.
And what will be this reflection of yours like, Kaya said with a tinge of sarcasm in her voice.
Each one will have her own reflection Maya answered rather sagely.
Are you therefore saying that my reflection of the universe will be different from your reflection of the universe? So your God’s universe is different for different people. Doesn’t that sound a little awkward considering we are looking at a physical entity?
You are right. You will see the universe as your own reflection and I will see it as mine.
Ah that’s not too bad. Your present reflection will be the boring you, who neither drinks, nor smokes is even afraid of casual flirting. Your stars will be dull and your galaxies will be moronic but mine- baby, they will be rocking. The stars will be drunk and the galaxies will be smoking. The Andromeda could even be biting into a piece of mutton you see. She laughed and her sister too laughed. She lit her favorite Gold Flake and began to sing.
Main Zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya
Both were fond of music, they were terrible singers though. The sisters began to sing loudly. There was a knock on the door.
Madam the food is ready.
Kaya used to wake up early. She loved the mornings for their freshness and whenever she came to the mountains she would make sure she sees the sun rise. She would invariably find a place or a point on the hill tops from where she could clearly see the sun rise. This day was no different. She was walking up to a small precipice when she heard Maya shouting her name and asking her to wait for her.
They sat on a large stone looking in the direction of the sun. A strange stillness had filled the environment around them. Maya sat with her eyes closed concentrating on her breathing, Kaya with her eyes open kept concentrating on the color of the sky in the east. Mild ochre appeared on the horizon and began to expand. Kaya jolted her sister and said see, the sun is rising. In an instant the redness spread across the breadth of the Mahadev mountain range. As if on cue Maya started reciting “Yeh sindoor parag punj pihetaam…….” Both sisters had memorized these verses from Panchastavi-the pentad of hymns in praise of mother goddess. The two coalesced in these verses. Panchastavi united the two sisters. Kaya was an absolute Mother Godist. She believed in all the mother goddesses and saw a lot of them as her own mother, at least two in particular. Of late she had grown extremely fond of one of them. They recited the verses from there on. A tearful recitation it was. Meanwhile they had forgotten all about the sunrise. A red ball was filling their respective reflected universes with light of whichever kind they were reflecting on.
It is not that I do not believe in the splendor of this cosmos or its creator. I marvel at each of her creations. I am in absolute awe of the millions of galaxies, billions of creatures and myriad forms that the creator has brought forth into physical forms. When I think of it I wonder what keeps all this in order and what gravitational pulls and pushes would it need to keep a limitless universe from collapsing. And here we stand seeing the sun rise in its magnificent glory day after day, every day without fail. This is a wonder, no doubt, a miracle greater than any other, undoubtedly. A million more suns would be rising and setting in millions of solar systems not just in our galaxy but galaxies across the universe about which even Stephen Hawkins knows little. Our own planet, but a speck of dust in the universe has so much pulsation and life and here too we know little. Look at you, the Maya of her dreams, you mythical creature sitting silently listening to my monologue. I know what you think of me. You think Kaya is walking the wrong street, standing in an inverted queue, a loud thinking idiot. Maya still did not say a word. She adjusted her spectacles to get a better view of the valley below. Let us go down and a have a cup of tea she finally broke her silence. I am not going anywhere Maya, you go down. I will sit for some more time. The sleet was melting. Maya walked down carefully, leaving Kaya to contemplate.
It was almost mid day when Kaya came back to her room. Maya was sleeping blissfully her fingers ensconced in her book. It was almost a routine for her to fall asleep like this. She would often say, I can sleep while standing in a Metro train. There was no duality in her thought. She did not want to deal with this world at all so she kept ignoring it all the time. She had created her own universe on her own canvass. She did not seek answers to any of the questions that her sister had. They did not seem to bother her at all. She lived, rather slept peacefully on the canvas of her universe.
Jamadhar’s wife was busy in the kitchen. A middle aged jovial looking woman Saswati had been married to Jamadhar when she barely eleven. Can I ask for some breakfast, Kaya meekly enquired of Saswati. Yes please come in. I have made paranthas for you. Saswati put the pan on the hearth and began adding Ghee to the paranthas. The aroma of carom seeds filled the kitchen. She wanted to wake up her sister but knowing how much Maya loved her sleep, she ate her breakfast alone. She felt a little sad eating alone. She always wanted someone to be around no matter what she did. Other people’s company and approval meant a lot to her; possibly so much that she could never live the life she wanted to.
She went to her room. Maya was in sleeping like a baby. The book had slipped from her fingers and was lying on the floor. The beautiful book mark with Persian calligraphy was on the floor too. Maya was an adept with languages. She picked them naturally. Her inclination towards learning was immense and she had voracious appetite for knowledge. Kaya sat on her cot leaning a little backwards to the wall. She was reading Primo Levy’s book on Jewish Holocuast. She read a little and kept the book away. She started humming…
Dhoop main niklo ghataon main naha kar dekho
Zindagi kya hain kitabo ko hata kar dekho
She was a walking encyclopedia of Urdu poetry though she could hardly read a grade 5 Urdu textbook. It was all in her mind. She had memorized so many poems and couplets of Urdu poets that she could quote at will. She had Ghalib,Majaz and Allama Iqbal almost adlib. She walked out of her room aimlessly and lost herself in the mountains. She must not have gone too far when she saw a young girl, with her cows in the forest. The girl’s face looked familiar although Kaya had never been to this place before. The girl was humming a local folk song and kept attending to her cows. Kaya kept wondering whether she had seen the girl before or if she knew someone who looked like this girl.
A carpenter by the name Ramdin would be a regular visitor to their house in Kolkatta. Even for small jobs like fixing a nail he would be called for. One day when they had to get a new book rack made they rang Ramdin up. There was no answer. They made umpteen calls to Ramdin and yet there was no answer. It was very uncharacteristic of Ramdin not to answer calls. They were worried a little but thought, maybe he has gone to his village or maybe his phone number has changed. A fortnight later the doorbell rang. It was Ramdin. He looked disheveled and many years older than his age. I am very sorry I did not answer your calls. They asked him to come in. He kept apologizing and was weeping inconsolably. Saheb my daughter is lost. I have registered an FIR with the Police but so far they haven’t been able to do anything about it. I have met all the local politicians and women’s organizations but to no avail. There wasn’t much they could have done to help him. The feeling of helplessness had taken over their entire family but left Kaya particularly devastated. She was thinking about Pragya, Ramdin’s daughter all the time. She would call Ramdin every day and even spent time with his family. It was here that she came face to face with what it means to be poor and helpless.
One day when she was returning from work she got a call from Ramdin. We have found Pragya. She stopped her car and started crying. After collecting herself a little she drove straight to the slums where Ramdin lived. Pragya the child had been lost forever. She hugged the Pragya they had found in the farmhouse of a powerful politician. There was nothing to be said. No words would suffice for the agony of the little girl who was picked up from the street.
Oh you are sitting here, don’t you want some lunch? It took me sometime finding you, you seeker of truth, Maya was being playful. Doesn’t this girl look like Pragya? Maya knew something was coming. She remembered how distressed her sister was for months after that incident had happened. While Maya was always at ease answering Kaya’s spiritual questions it was questions about suffering and pain that she found difficult to answer. Maya looked at the girl grazing her cows. She wanted to avoid the conversation that was about to begin. Kaya’s eyes were already brimming with tears.
What wrong had she done? What did she do to be abused in this way? Is this the law of Karma? Isn’t God supposed to be Rahim and Rehman? Even if she had done something terrible in her previous life could he not have pardoned her and stopped a series of another sins from happening? Every moment I think of her I feel as if I am being raped over and over again in the most brutal fashion. There are thousands like her, there always have been. Throughout history women, oh wait a minute, why just women, men too have been subjected to brutality that is indescribable. The sheer helplessness of one individual or a group as against another is so recurring a theme that is almost a norm in God’s universe, at least this planet. Maya knew this phase of hers. She did not even attempt to calm her sister down. They have had these conversations before.
You see it is not important whether I know the meaning of this Sutra or that one. It is not that I disregard them or underestimate their power. I may not be a realized soul but I know what it means to be one. Honestly I don’t care what about this scripture says or what that book says. The truth unfortunately is despite Buddha walking this earth we have had no peace. The world has suffered chronic wars and all the debasement and depravity that come with a war. Strange that even Muhammed who held the promise of an egalitarian society to the feuding Arabs did not abolish slavery. Even as we sit in this beautiful forest hundreds of Yazidi girls, some young as ten are sex slaves to fellow human beings who believe that are accomplishing a religious duty by having sex with infidels.
This whole universe is the body of the supreme power, Kaya. The manifestation is an objective state of the consciousness. So there is no other here. The oppressor and the oppressed is the same. You are a follower of Kabir, who would know it better than you. Don’t you keeping humming Tu Ka Tu all day. You see all this pain and suffering around you because you see the world as duality. The moment you start seeing yourself as one with the creator this pain and suffering would seem ephemeral and fleeting, actually even ephemeral also is incorrect. The happenings around would seem like you are seeing a theatre or a movie.
Are you saying that the pain that Pragya suffered wasn’t real? Maya, Is the suffering of all these people akin to the people acting out their parts in a theatre? Now that is not fair. I think you are being an apologist for the creator. The pain of losing someone, of being exiled, of being humiliated is real and there can be no explanation for it. Gross injustice has and continues to happen in the real World which could be eternal and that worries me more than if it would have been ephemeral.
Yes there is pain and it is real. Real like this tree, like you and me. If there would have been no pain Siddhartha would have not become Buddha. But what thereafter? An enlightened person understands that trials and tribulations will happen and pain is inevitable. That’s being Buddha. Why I cannot answer, but suffering will always be there. Your anguish and the questions arising from them are all correct. Anyone who lives a life deeper and more meaningful is bound to ask them. The adepts say being affected by suffering and seeking answers to it is also pursuit of God. In a way you are walking the path that Buddha did. But did Buddha’s enlightenment end suffering?
Transcend the tattvas and you will see yourself as the creator. Then in that universe you will have what you want. There will no fear of tomorrow and no regrets of past. Your will, will decide what it will be like. I am afraid you still haven’t invested enough in your questions. Think, contemplate and reflect more on them and you will need no Omar Khayam to answer them. You yourself will be the Shams Tabriz and you will be the Rumi too. The scriptures though important are guides like the Master but it is you who is the light. The power of consciousness is inside you, awaken it.
Now if you will please can we eat. I am dying of hunger Miss Virginia Woolf. In her growing years Kaya was greatly influenced by Virginia Woolf so much so that her friends often called her Miss Woolf. They held hands and started walking back to habitation. They recalled their days at school and how one boy Vimarsh tried to woo both the sisters. If at that time I knew what Vimarsh meant I would have gone with guy, I quite liked him. Maya was the boy among the two girls. As a young girl she was flirtatious and free unlike her elder sister who was tentative and bound by tradition. Even today she was the one who was unbound and free. 
That evening as the sun was setting the two walked up again to the precipice. Both closed their eyes and reflected. A soulful Kaya sang
Roshan Jammal-e-Yaar se hain anjuman tamam
Dehka hua hain aatish-e-gul se chaman tamam

Monday, August 17, 2015

Samad Mir's "Tarawatiy"

A Kashmiri Muslim poet's devotional hymn to Goddess Tara
On a lazy Sunday we were tuned into Radio Sharda(a community radio of Kashmiri Pandits).Moti Lal Kemmu’s (a renowned scholar and an expert on Folk Theatre of Kashmir) interview was being broadcast . The interview was interspersed with requests of songs by Mr.Kemmu. He requested for Samad Mir’s poem “Praran praran Tarawatiye”.It was sung by Ama Kandur in Chakri(Kashmiri folk music) style. Though I had read many of Samad Mir’s poems I hadn’t heard of this one till then.

The poem describes Goddess Tara, her iconography and her attributes. I have heard from some people that Samad Mir’s Tarawati is a Kashmiri Pandit woman (who he might have seen or known) which is erroneous as we will soon discover. While he has contextualized the deity in Kashmiri environs yet the description is essentially of the one who he describes as the “Goddess who emerged victorious in Bengal”.

Goddess Tara (one of the Dash-Mahavidhyas) is primarily a Hindu Goddess who later manifests in Buddhist iconography as well, but the Goddess described by our poet is the one as she is described and worshipped in the Hindu pantheon. To be more precise the description matches the idol of the Goddess at the shrine of Tarapitha (in Bengal).The worship of Goddess Tara is not unknown to Kashmiris. Even today there are atleast two villages in South Kashmir which owe its origin to this Goddess- The village of Tarigom near Kulgam(which now has no traces of any temple) and the village of Taragom near Qazigund(which has a living temple of  considerable antiquity considering the stone sculptures and a spring dedicated to the deity).

I attempt to translate the poem.

Praran praaran tarawatiyay,aitay nazaar traav

Kharran poozaye jhafer phateye*,aitay nazaar traav

For long have I sought thee, Reveal thy true self to me O! Tarawati,

Caskets of marigolds will I entreat you with, Reveal thy true self to me

*The sculpture of Goddess (at the Tarapitha Shrine) is adorned with garlands of marigold flowers


Durdaane lab lal yim chey vatheye,khande seet maey vaseraav

Tim chey chamkaan aadam raateye,aitay nazaar trav

Your parted pearl like lips, glowing red with human blood*

Deter me not with that mirage (of external manifestation), Reveal thy true self to me

(* In Mundmala Tantra,Goddess is described as consuming human as well as animal blood. She is said to be fonder of human blood, which is always on her lips. This has esoteric meaning and should not be fallaciously understood by its literal meaning.)


Kamane abrunis alifiy khateye,zamaney maey katraav*

Yim Chasme siya chey aafatey, aitay nazaar trav

Eyebrows like arrows on a bow, dark eyes symbolizing annihilation

With scissors of spiritual transcendence, Reveal thy true self to me  

(* The goddess carries scissors in one of her hands with which she cuts the weed of desire and propels her devotees on the path of transcendence)


Yim naeze acharvalav maey ditey,tim doptham vateraav

Bhi mare korthas che taem bharketey, aitay nazaar trav

Piercing, your eyelashes, that as boon you bestowed (on me)

Freed me from the bondage of death, Reveal thy true self to me 


Aath dare paeth chakh shubaan latiye,paanas kareth paeraav

Kripaye aes aaye aavbhagatay, aitay nazaar trav

Resplendent, in your beauty, Adorable, you sit by the window

We beseech your divine grace, Reveal thy true self to me


Mahtaab royas kareth chaaye gateye,aftaab mandechith draav*

Sadaye vodunay prazlaan sitare phateye,  aitay nazaar trav

Circumambulating your moonlike radiant face, dwarfed and disgraced felt the sun

A galaxy lies strewn on your tippet, Reveal thy true self to me

(*In Buddhist iconography the Goddess sits in the orb of the moon with sun forming the exterior orb. This verse could be a reference to that)


Daeke tike chyon di lach laal pateye,taakaene haej maey thaav

Zulfan Tal chay noorich bateye, aitay nazaar trav

Thy orb (ajna chakra) is a million rubies,O hide it not(under your headgear)

 Beneath the darkness (of your black hair) shines gnosis, Reveal thy true self to me


Kad chyon shamshad Tan sheeshe dateye,seemab tatey mandechaav

Seene aayenay naare pistaan rateye*, aitay nazaar traav

Intense you are, glowing brighter than mercury

Smeared with blood, breasts shining (like fire), Reveal thy true self to me

*Since her lips are open (as mentioned in the second verse-lab chey vatheye) blood keeps oozing out and after falling on her breasts it resembles fire.


Tot aaye aashiq naendere hateye*,Kate chak te kya chuy naav

Sandere tyake chane chanderaymateye, aitay nazaar traav

Bereft of sleep, your devotees seek (you), bewildered and mesmerized

In rapture, by the grace of vermillion (on your forehead), Reveal thy true self to me

*The opportune time to invoke the blessings of the Goddess is between midnight and breaking of dawn, which explains why devotees are bereft of sleep (naendere hateye)

Yim Chah Afsoone Saaz aaye paatiye,Bengaale zyunuth daav

Yim naeze kaem jodugaaran ditiye, aitay nazaar traav

You the embodiment of art, who reigns over Bengal

What hath gave thy absolute wisdom, Reveal thy true self to me

In the concluding two verses the poet teaches us about the means with which one can realize the Goddess

Saat paaev haer khas pateye pateye,lagecth che daentuv khraav

Zoone dabe baethek nich bhagwateye*, aitay nazaar traav

Rise through the seven chakras of Kundlani, purified like ivory

Awakened, you will realize the Goddess, Delve into thyself

*There are seven ladders in awakening (Jagriti) of self. It is called the rise of Kundalini.He/She who reaches the highest ladder(Sahasrar Chakra) is considered the realized one and the one who sits (metaphorically) near his/her deity.

Yehlok manz kar kar adityae,Parlok manz parkhaav

Nish Samad Miras haech zagratye, aitay nazaar traav

Perfect this art here, triumphant will you emerge there

From Samad Mir, learn the art of awakening (the kundalini), Delve into thyself 


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Faqirey-Ahad Zargar

I asked His Holiness,Swamiji,Is it possible that a saint can fall to temptation or desire? A true saint has reached a stage where desire and temptation stays away from him or her. It becomes his/her second nature to be bereft of desire so the question of falling to a temptation doesn’t arise. I am not very sure if I have written it as well as he explained it to me but I had got my answer.

For many days I was trying to comprehend the meaning of the verse,

Faqiriy beem ros tamahas karaan laar

Now that I had “understood” (or so I believe) the meaning, I am making an attempt to translate the poem from which the verse is.

This verse is from a poem titled Faqiri (The state of being a Mendicant or The Mendicant himself) by the great Kashmiri Saint poet Abdul Ahad Zargar. Ahad Zargar describes his preceptor or his qualities in this poem. I am drawn to conclude that he mentions Faqirey (The Mendicant) and not Faqiri (the state of being a mendicant) because he would often refer to his Murshid or Guru as Faqir.

Faqirey tabavun aftaab chumay,Faqirey Kabavuy mehraab chumay

Faqirey Jabajanh shah dhuthumay, Faqirey Kabavuy mehraab chumay

That mendicant, like blazing sun; is my guide to the house of God

Omniscient that King, I see; is my guide to the house of God


Faqirey misli gulshan aav folfol,Faqirey rang rang jaame vael vael

Faqirey vasle sheshan aaseluluy moy, Faqirey Kabavuy mehraab chumay

That mendicant, like a blossoming garden; in colorful attires

He, the wine of truth in the carafe of unity; is my guide to the house of God


Faqirey darde poshan mushqi ambaar;Faqirey girde goshan manz chu zevar

Faqirey karde roshan ssat samay; Faqirey Kabavuy mehraab chumay

That mendicant, like copious fragrance of flowers in pain (seeker); iridescent jewels in ears

Effulgent at all times; is my guide to the house of God



Faqirey Ailaman chum alime dafter;Faqirey Taleban chum taaj barsar

Faqirey Aemilan,aamale namay; Faqirey Kabavuy mehraab chumay

That mendicant, the repository of knowledge for learned; zenith of gnosis for the seeker

Song of piety for the virtuous; is my guide to the house of God


Faqirey peshwaye ganje asrar;Faqirey rehnumaye lole darbar

Faqirey badshahay lohe kalmey; Faqirey Kabavuy mehraab chumay

That mendicant, the keeper of the secret treasure, leader in the court of love

The king who writes our destiny; is my guide to the house of God


Faqirey Sahibay asrare abrar;Faqirey beem ros tamahas karaan laar

Faqirey Meeman don manz chum kalimay; Faqirey Kabavuy mehraab chumay

That mendicant, possessor of secrets and devout; who effortlessly keeps desire away

Kalima(Faith) between two Meem’s(Nastaliq alphabets); is my guide to the house of God


Faqirey “hu” vuchum azha naebar draav;Faqirey rooh baneth myanes mares chaav

Faqirey Noah nabee yaeth naavee chumay; Faqirey Kabavuy mehraab chumay

That mendicant, as “hu” I saw exhale; entered my mortal body as soul

He, the Noah of my boat; is my guide to the house of God


Faqirey os faqirey roze baaki;Faqirey chum divan mas hamche saqi

Faqirey name maula jaame jaamay, Faqirey Kabavuy mehraab chumay


That mendicant, eternal, will and shall remain; he who intoxicates me and the wine

Whose name is the wine of the mystic, is my guide to the house of God


Faqirey Ahad Zargar chuy che darbar;Faqirey jalwe maaran andere naebar

Faqirey Lalenavantan rumay rumay; Faqirey Kabavuy mehraab chumay

That mendicant, who is resplendent in both worlds’; resides in my every breath,

Outside whose door I(Ahad Zargar) await, is my guide to the house of God



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Huma Asli Maheshwar Bood by Ali Mardan Khan

The collage painting by  Claudia Dose represents the 36 tatvaas of Kashmir Saivism. One can clearly see the influence of the great Kashmiri Master of Neo-tantric art Ghulam Rasool Santosh.
Not many people in Kashmir would have known the name, Ali Mardan Khan, had it not been for the small area in downtown Srinagar that is named after this Afghan Governor. Despite this he would have remained a name in the books of history like many others rulers but for the verses that immortalized him in Kashmiri Folklore, despite him not being a Kashmiri. The verses were written at a time which was clearly our dark ages. It was forbidden for non Muslims (read Hindus) to read their scriptures or practice their religion openly. I am not sure if it is entirely true but it is widely believed that the Hindus were ordered not to recite Sanskrit verses thus forcing them to make Persian as their language of connect to their deities. Whatever may be the historical accuracy of this “order”, to this day we recite Bhakti verses in Persian and there is one in particular which I remember and goes something like this:

Chakreshwari Hajat rawa,Sajath gada ra padshah

Vaah Vaah chi Lakshmi Thapna,shree sharika devi nama

That Goddess Chakreshwari, who can turn a beggar into a king

She who listens to our prayers and answers them

I salute, thee, Seat of Lakshmi, who incarnates in the form of Sharika (in Kashmir)

To cut a long story short, one evening Ali Mardan had a vision which took the shape of a beautiful Persian Devotional Poem .Most of us keep rendering them at religious and social festivals with fervor & devotion. Thanks to the oral tradition that has helped carry this poem in its totality to us. It also is a commonplace in most of our Leela* renditions. I am using the version published in Sahaj Kosam (compiled by Moti Lal Saqi) for Mast Bab Ashram. It is slightly different from the version (the last verse differs) that comes down to us via the oral route .I make an attempt to transliterate the verses.

Huma Asli Maheshwar Bhood,Shab Shahi ki Man Deedam

Ghazanfar Charma-e-barbood,Shab Shahi Ki Man Deedam.

It was Shiva, the real God, the King I saw that night

Adorned was his body with Lion Skin, the King I saw that night


Ze  Basmash Jam-e-bar-tan,Zunar-ish mar-e-bar garden

Ravanish Gang-e-bar sarbood,Shab Shahi…….

Besmeared with ash, Instead of the scared thread a snake coiled around his neck

Un ebbed flow the Ganga from his locks, the King I saw that night


Sah Chashmash bar-jabee-daarad,Zi mahro maaha roshan tar

Se Karan Daste-Bastah Bood,Shab Shahi…….**

Brighter than sun and moon, shone his three eyes

In Salutations to him stood Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva (the 3 causes of the universe), the King……….

**This verse needs a little explanation, the three reasons though commonly understood as Shiva,Vishnu and Mahesh are seen in a different way by the Saivities of Kashmir. The Will (Iccha Shakti of Citi-Supreme Consciousness) in itself has the triple process of manifesting, maintaining and dissolving the universe. So the three reasons could also be understood as attainment of Swantraya (Freedom from Bondage of Ignorance)


Be Dastash AAb-e-Kaunsar,Ve bekh Nakoosay Nilofar

Hilalash Taj Bar Sar Bood,Shab Shahi…….

With a conch of Lotus Shoot in one hand and the pitcher of nectar in another

The Crescent Moon embellished his forehead, the King……….……


Uma az soi-chip-binger, Zi Sad Khursheed Taban-tar

Savare Kulb-e-nar bood,Shab Shahi…….

Uma on his left, effulgent, like a thousand suns

Beseated on Nandi, I saw the king that night……


Ajab Sanyasa deedam,Namo Narayanay Guftam

Be Khakhay Paye Bosidam,Shab Shahi….

Wonderstruck I said Namo Narayan, incredible sage he was

In reverence, I bowed to touch the specks of dust at his feet, the King……….


Nighahay bar mane Miskeen,Namud-e-az- chasme taaban-tar

Makanash La maaken tar bood,Shab Shahi……

With his divine grace (Anugraha) ,he showered his radiance

Immersed me in the universe of consciousness, the King……….


Manam Mardan Ali Khanam,Ghulam-e-Shahe-Shahanam

Ajab Israr Main Beenam,Shab Shahi…….

I Ali Mardan Khan who is the servant of the king of the kings

Is witness to a mystic experience, the King……….

Another version of the last verse is Manam Mardan Musalmanam,Ali Khanam Namee Dhanam,which means

 I Ali Mardan a devout Muslim , who owes every breath to Ali (the Caliph).


This poem is also a reiteration of the Kashmiri Saivate standpoint of the world being real as against the Vedantic concept of it being Maya (unreal).That the poet’s vision is not of a formless deity but one that he describes in great detail with its physical attributes and iconography reinforces the Kashmiri Saiva thought of the creation being real when Unmesh (broadly translated as opening of eye/thought )happens.

Note:  I would welcome improvements in translation. Persian is not a language I am well versed with. I thank my friend Geetika, without her help this translation would not have been possible.

*Leela is a Kashmiri Devotional Poem.

Dead End

Dead End
The road to what was once my home in Kashmir....zuv chum bramaan ghare gachehae..