Tag Archives: Srinagar

Zoon of Chandra Hara


The Lady of Love
The Life and Work of Habba Khatoon

HABBA Khatoon was born in 1553,about two centuries after Lal Ded. Shegave to Kashmiri poetry a new art form—the vacan or short lyric which wasprobably influenced by folk songs as wellas by the Persian ghazal. The vacan is ashort poem set to music. Habba also invented the Raast-i-Kashmiri, the raga of Kashmiri classical music.

The songs that are attributed to Habba Khatoon have come down to us either through musical compositions, in whichthey are interspersed, or through the oraltradition. A collection of her lyrics has been published by the Jammu and KashmirAcademy of Languages, Art and Culture,but the authenticity of some of theseverses is disputed.

Overflowing Sorrow
No historical chronicle before the 19thcentury refers to Habba Khatoon. Manylegends about her iire prevalent in Kashmir.From these, and from her poetry, scholarshave tried to reconstruct the details of herlife.
It is generally believed that she wasborn in village Chandahar, in Pamporeregion, south of Srinagar. Lal Ded was alsoborn in this region. In one lyric, Habbarefers tocher parents sending her to adistant place for education and the teacher beating her with a switch.

On the evidence of the lyrics, it is alsobelieved that she was named Zoon (meaning moon) by her parents, and that the name Habba Khatoon (meaning ladyof love) was assumed by her later. It issaid that the saint Khwaja Masood

Bestowed this name on her when she visited him to ask his advice on how tohandle her marital problems.

She explicitly describes her suff-eringsin her in-laws’ house. It is believed that she married a man named Aziz. This belief seems to be based on the fact that some ofher love lyrics are addressed to an unresponsive person called “Aziz.”However, as the word “Aziz” means beloved, and the songs do not state thatthe person addressed is her husband, thisi nterpretation seems far from certain.

According to the legend, her husband disapproved of her composing songs and singing them in public. In one of her most famous and popular lyrics,  Chaara’ KarMyon Maalinyo , she looks to her natal family to help her in a predica-ment common to many women :

All is not well with me at my
husband’s house

Rid me of my troubles, my father’s

I left home to fetch water from the

My tender parents, the waterpot

Either replace the broken pot or
Pay for it, I beseech you

All is not well with me at my
husband’s house

My youthful frame is wasting

Mounting the uplands has become

My feet are blistered, gathering

Salt is spreading over my wounds

All is not well with me at my
husband’s house

Falling exhausted on the spinning
I broke the shaft.

My mother-in-law seized me by the
Worse than death was it to me

All is not well with me at my
husband’s house

I am uneasy with the smart of the
loved one

My sorrow overflows the brim

Habba Khatoon has passed on the

Be alerted, father’s clan all-

All is not well with me at my
husband’s house

It is interesting that other women poetsof Kashmir, such as Lal Ded, the 17th century mystic Rupa Bhawani who retired to the wilder-ness, and the 18th century Arnimal who returned to her parentalhome, all suffered similarly in their in-laws’homes.

The Wounded Heart

Most of Habba’s lyrics express the sufferings of unrequited love. One critic,S. Sadhu, attributes this melancholy to her unfufilled  “dream of wedded life”  but, inthe absence of other evidence, it would seem that it is attributable more to the expresses a longing for an ever elusive? tradition of the romantic lyric which expresses a longing for an ever elusive
emotions expressed in the songs with the events of her life would seem misplaced.

Not a single lyric expresses fulfil mentor happiness in love. All of them are variations on the theme of separation from an unresponsive beloved. One of her most famous songs in this strain is Wolo

MyaaniPoshey Madano :

Having snatched my heart, you have
gone far off

Come, my love, my  flowery  Cupid
Let us go, friend, to gather jasmine
Once dead, none can enjoy life
I crave for your prosperity, love
Come, O come, my flowefy Cupid

Let us go, friend, to gather basil
Wounding my heart with the axe
He disdains even to enquire of me
Come, O come, my flowery Cupid

Let us go, friend, to gather herbs
Heartless people make fun of me
Would that they were in a similar

Come, O come my flowery Cupid
Let us go, friend, to the woods
People poison his ears against me
Naively he gives credence to these

Come, O come my flowery Cupid
Let us go, friend, to fetch water
The world is fast asleep, my love
I yearn for a response from you
Come, O come, my flowery Cupid
Come, give up this loathing of me
I have been longing for none but you
This life is all too short
Come, O come, my flowery Cupid

In voicing the feelings of the female lover addressed to the male ‘beloved,Habba’s lyrics were at variance with the dominant and established Persiantradition of love poetry, where the malelover addresses a male or female beloved.
Her lyrics also depart from the ghazal tradition of extolling the beauty of the beloved, and concentrate solely on her own emotion :

Say, friend, when will fate smile on

And my love come to me again, say
when ?
I’ve waited long and patiently
My heart is numb and idle and
empty of hopes.
Sweet is the ritual of love.
I would deck my love with ornaments
And in henna dye his hands.
I would anoint his body with
fragrant kisses
And offer him wine in golden goblets.
The lotus of love blooms in the lake
of my heart.
Say, friend, when will fate smile on
Go forth and call him, friend,
I’ve made posies of flowers for him
Over passes high I carried him wine
But he is roaming mid distant glades.
O why is he roaming mid distant
O where is he drunk with my rice
In his absence like jasmine I will

The Wheel Of Fortune

According to the legend, Yusuf ShahChak, heir to the throne of the Sultanate ofKashmir, was riding through Habba’svillage when he heard her singing ChaaraKar My on… while she was picking saffronflowers in a field. He was enchanted byher and proposed that she go and live in his palace. In 1570 AD she is said to have entered the palace.

Scholars differ on the issue of her status in Yusuf’s palace. Some believe thathe got her divorced from her husband andmade her his queen. Oral tradition supports this view. However, many others, includingthe 19th century chroniclers, believe thatshe was a member of his harem.

Habba is believed to have been happy with Yusuf and to have found the atmosphere of the court congenial to her art. Legends are related about their pleasure trips to different parts of Kashmir and their lovers’ tiffs and reconciliations.

In 1579, Yusuf ascended the throne but internal feuds took a turn for the worse
and he was unseated in 1580. He approached the emperor Akbar for help.Akbar gave him asylum and attached himto the Mughal army. For 11 months, Akbar did not provide any armed assistance.When he finally deputed Raja Man Singhas an escort, Yusuf gave him the slip andre-covered the kingdom on his own in 1581after a series of manoeuvres at Sopore.

But the disturbances continued. In1585, the Mughal army marched intoKashmir and brought pressure on Yusuf till he made submission, against the advice of his son Yaqub. He did not return toKashmir again and died in exile in Basok,Bihar, seven years later.

Handful Of Grain

No reliable details are known of the last phase of Habba’s life. According to the dominant tradition, she could not accompany Yusuf because of the hostilityof her stepson Yaqub, so she lived inKashmir for about 20 years more,wandering about without attachments orpossessions. She is said to be buried at Paanta Chhokh, at Srinagar, overlooking the river Jhelum. Others believe that she followed Yusuf to Basok and lies buried there in a grave next to him.

Some critics, like Ghulam Nabi Khayal,have related the despair and melancholy of her lyrics to this separation from Yusuf.Akhtar Mohi-ud-din goes further and says “Her apparent yearning for her be-lovedwas, in effect, the voice of the people for freedom from the yoke of Mughal slavery”—a rather far fetched explanation.

One of her lyrics, said to date from this period of her life, seems to sum up her life experiences :

Let no one lose the opportunities of youth

My parents showered love on me
A bevy of maids stood in waiting

Never did I dream the mansion
would crumble to dust

Let no one lose the opportunities of

When my parents gave me in

My friends sang for me in joy

The love songs they chanted never
came true

Let no one lose the opportunities of

Calling me the daughter of fortune,
“Your in-laws are waiting for you”
they said

The bright painted palanquin was
decked with silver

Let no one lose the opportunities of

I am here while you are so far away
Both were so fond of each other

Who dared imagine my world would
come to dust and rubble

Let no one lose the opportunities of

If god withholds and destiny favours

Can anyone feed on a handful of
grain ?

Habba Kkatoon drank deep of love

Let no one lose the opportunities of

Her Contribution

In Habba’s time, Persian influence was very strong in the Kashmiri court. In the14th century, hundreds of Syeds fleeing persecution by Timur in the Middle Eastand Central Asia had settled in Kashmir
the development of the Kashmiri language and also on many poets of succeeding generations down to our own day. Several contemporary Kashmiri lyricists have acknowledged the influence of Habba’swork on their own.

She invented a captivating stanza oft hree lines, followed by a refrain. The firstand third lines rhyme while the second line is unrhymed. She also frequently uses a medial rhyme.
Her songs also continue to be sungby village women in Kashmir. She depicts the everyday experiences of rural women,for instance, panting while climbing hillscarrying a headload, meeting each of theron the banks of a stream where they go tofetch water, which she terms “friends’gathering” (yaaraba’Ii kaakni).

In an atmosphere permeated with mystical traditions of various kinds, fromPersian sufi poetry to bhakti poetry from different parts of India, Habba Khatoon remained firmly rooted in a  non mystical tradition. For this reason, critics like S.Shah have called her the first secular and humanist poet in Kashmiri, while nothing that her weaving of references to flowering shrubs and birds into the fabric of her song does convey an impression of all life being one. Habba Khatoon emphasises the importance and meaning of the individual’s emotional experience, of personal relationships, and of love that is human, not divine.

Even when she does dwell on the transitory nature of fame and honour, she does not draw a moral regarding the need to detach oneself from the world. Her songis expressive, never hortatory, and represents an important tradition which celebrates human experience:

1 left home to play and was absorbed
in it
Till the day sank in the west
I came of a noble family which gave
Dignity and name
Many a lover was drawn towards me
Till the day sank in the west.
Within the house I stayed hidden
from view
Once outside, my name was on every
Hermits, in their urge to see me
gave up their penance in the
My shop was loaded with stock.
And the world was keen to see it,
My precious wares exposed, (lost)
the prices crashed
As the day, alack, sank in the

S.L. Sadhu, Haba Khatoon, Sahitya Akademi Makers of Indian Literature Series, 1983.

M. A. Kamil, Haba Khatoon J.L.KauI,Studies in Kashmiri, Kapoou Brothers,Srinagar, 1968 M.Y.

Taing, Haba Khatoon,3 & K Academy of Languages, Art and Culture J N Wali, Zoon

Akhtar Mohi-ud-Din, “Social Idealsand Patriotism in Kashmiri Literature”,Indian Literature, May-June

1977 GhulamNabi Khayal, Some Women Poets in Kashmiri” Indian Literature, May-June1982

(We presented an account of the life and work of Kashmiri mystic poet, Lal Ded. This account of another important woman poet of Kashmir has been prepared by Ruth Vanita from material in S.L. Sadhu’s biography and essays by Akhtar Mohi-ud-Din and Ghulam Nabi Khayal.)


Habba Khatoon
Philomela of Medieval Kashmir

By Prof. Kashi Nath Dar

THE cultural heritage of Kashmir is as rich as it is varied. This mental child of  ‘Kashyapa’  has been the recipient of fondest love and bountiful benevolence from Nature and has consequently enthralled the whole world by its superb physical charm from times immemorial. To crown all, this physical grandeur has been very usefully groomed by Kashmiris in weaving the rainbow. Coloured texture of mental and spiritual attainments. In many respects they have been pioneers in evolving a cult of philosophy in tune with their environment and called it as ‘Shaivism’. A galaxy of rhetoricians have taken pains in prescribing norms and standards for making the literature in general and poetry in particular more acceptable and representative. To say squarely, not a single branch of literature has been left out by these savants without their impress and alchemic touch.

Not only this, Kashmir has been the testing-ground of three universal religions of the world-Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam. The traits of all these religions have fused into the attitude of a Kashmiri like milk and candy; and it is no surprise that though bearing Hindu or Muslim or even Buddhist names, a Kashmiti even to-day in actual practice is a living embodiment of Buddhist compassion, Hindu tolerance and Muslim zest for life. Therefore with such a Catholic background, secularism to a Kashiniri is not a political expedient but an article of faith ingrained in his blood from the hoary times to the present day. ‘Kalhana’ in his monumental History of Kashmir ‘River of Kings’ has not mentioned even one Communal trouble between the Buddhists and the Hindus when a voracious race was in progress between their respective adherents to make theire own tenets popular and thus steal march over other faiths. In contrast to this, Buddhist Kings have donated large sums for the erection of Hindu temples and shrines and vice versa. Religious battles have always been fought here on paper, in a more rational way, or through dialogues which never left bad taste in the mouths. During the Islamic period Sultan Zain-ul-ab-Din Badshah in an admirable way and forsooth like a Kashmiri to his marrow renovated demolished Hindu places of worship and even started ‘Langars’ at Places of pilgrimages for feeding the hungry and the devout. ‘ShriVara’ in his ‘ZainaTarangini’ has mentioned such ‘Satr’ or Langars, one of which was located at the foot of Mahadeva mountain.

In this way, when in the 14th-15th century an alien culture knocked at the mountain-doors of Kashmir for being shown in, the values cherished by Kashmiris all along had already prepared a hospitable ground for its happy welcome. The puritanic prosletyzing tenacity of Islam in the absence of any mentionable reaction on the part of Kashmiris compellingly changed to more logical and rational methods. In this political and religious upheaval, long-cherished secular outlook of the faith of the people would have received a jolt, but at this juncture literature came to our succour.

At the confluence of Hindu and Muslim cultures ‘Laileshwari’ or ‘Lalla- Deda’ stands like a collossus beckoning people to eschew differences of colour, creed or faith and yoke themselves to attain Identity with Him– the All-pervasive Transcendental Force called God as such, Therein all are equal, the worldly appellations drop down like slough from a snake. The pursuit of mundane is an exercise in futility; Therefore the goal should be beyond mundane-materiality; It is no use counting mile-posts of material gains or losses and getting lost in its maze; the eye should be on the destination– the real and permanent.

For reasons obvious, the social fibre of the Kashmiris was also undergoing transformation at that time and the present could not have been in any way palatable to the denizens of Kashmir at large; so like an awake artist ‘Lalla’ dismissed the present as trash and ushered in spirituality in its all shades ‘Being’ was replaced by ‘to be’. By borrowing sweetness from the ‘unknown’ ‘Lalla’ virtually transformed the frustration or people into the hope to live with ever -appetising gusto. ‘Lalla’ could not help striking a happy compromise between Kashmiri shaivism and Islamic sufism. It was in tune with the times. To quote Dr. Sufi ‘Even long before the formal conversion to Islam, Islamic sufism had already entered tho valley.” Cultural conquest is always a pre-requisite to any other kind of conquest. A Kashmiri by nature tolerant and catholic kept his windows open for inhaling the fresh air of sufism. He even assimilated and owned much of it what was good and rejuvenvating.

But, by the time Habba Khatoon’s inebriating imagination began to find words, this climate of spirituality and mental drill had become suffocating and even stale in the context of fast changing economic conditions and human values; emphasis on individnal instead of on the society had become the accepted norm of public relations and thinking. The extrovert attitude yielded place to introspection. So, the poet in these changed environs harnessed his imaginative faculty to interpret his or her own feelings; Hence, Habba at the very outset of her poetic career rebelled against the prevalent standards of poetry-writing. Textbook idealism is not found in the dictionary of her pulsating emotions. She did not also try to bridge the distance between the ideal and the real. Her substantial contribution in this domain is to interpret her life as it was and not what it should be. Total absence of didactic content in her poetry (what ever is available to us) lends support to our belief, that she always believed in translating her feelings without any redundant appendages of ideal, faithfully and with sincerity of purpose. Her poetry consequently is a happy blend of sweetness and pathos. She has preferred to live in the present, past was beyond her reach and future out of her comprehension.

Kashmiri nation at that time was groaning under internal exploitation and external aggression. The last indigenous ruler of Kashmir Yusaf Shah Chak personified in himself levity and depravation in every sense of the word. “His own Subjects being fed up with his way-ward conduct had to invite the mughals to get rid of such an incapable and debauche ruler,” Writes Dr. Sufi in his ‘Kasheer’. His regal writ could not run outside his palace where passion and carnality were reigning supreme. This trait of inviting aliens to redress their troubles is not new to Kashmiri character at all. Kalhana has alluded to this many times when the natives falling foul with their rulers invited the neighboring Kings of Lohara (Lorin) and Parantosa (Poonch) to sit on the throne of Kashmir. The great queen ‘Dida’ herself belonged to Lorin and installed her brother Jayasimha as the king of Kashmir just before her death. So, the Mughals who had vulturous eyes on Kashmir already, but their incursions bad been thwarted by Kashmiri twice before, exploited such a situation to their fill. This was a welcome addition to their diplomatic bag of conquests. Yusuf Shah at last awoke to find his own people arrayed against him. The Mughals arrested him and forced him to live a life of solitary confinement at a remote village in Bihar outside Kashmir, where he ate his heart away in sole distress and breathed his last. It has been contended by some overzealous Kashmiris lately that uprising of Yusuf Shah against the Mughals symbolized the urge of Kashmiris to fight external domination. Unfortunately, the contemporary historical evidence of this period does not, in any way, confirm this view, however laudable it may seem to be.

Moreover, the famine of 1576 A.D. due to the untimely snowfall multiplied the miseries of the people. The devastating effects of this unprecedented famine persisted for full three years and Kashmiris passed their days on starvation level more or less. To this injury insult in the shape of ‘Shia-Sunni’ troubles was added. Sectarianism became pronounced and it let loose all the evils which nurture and sustain it. In such a disappoioting state of affairs, the poet naturally has to close his eyes against all that is happening around and in self-deceit revels in the fanciful panorama of his heart. Habba could not afford to be an exception to this Universal truth. Hence her love-poems do breathe an atmosphere of total self-absorption being blind and deaf to the environmental vissicitudes. These may well be labelled as throbbing vibrations of self-immersion but not self forgetfulness. Her ego is always pronounced in each line of her verse.

Unfortunately for us we are actually at sea about the life of this Nightingale of Kashmir. No authoritative contemporary record has been unearthed so far to test the veracity of the popular tradition which associates Habba with Yusuf Shah Chak. Moreover, we have no hesitation in doubting the credence of the contemporary records as the History writing even to-day is not free from strings of pressures and pulls. During the rule of the English the events of 1857 have been mentioned as Mutiny, and those very events under the Indian rule have been treated as war of Independence; A dispassionate account of historical events devoid of personal projections is rare even to-day when every man proclaims that he is free and has been given every opportunity for independent thinking and expression of opinion thereof. In those hoary days, when history was compiled at the behest of the king, perhaps in proportion to the munificence the ruler lavished on such mercenaries, distortion of historical facts has always come in handy for the rating clique and its sycophants. In the same way, there is a thin line between aggression and liberation; In such a dilemma the verdict of people should have been the guiding principle for us all, but wherefrom it is to be made available?

Moreover, the evidence of the historical data which is still in manuscript form and has not undergone the acid test of public opinion cannot be relied upon. In Kashmir even to-day people who enjoy leisure and have aptitude are given to record their own experiences in which casual references to rulers have also been made in Sanskrit, Persian or Urdu; but for reasons obvious these cannot be termed as histories as such. Perhaps every Kashmiri house-hold having mentionable literary background of any order can boast of such perional record. By no stretch of imagination these can be treated as historical evidence worth quoting. Therefore, the chronicles written to order or as a product of personal caprice have no place in literary or purely historical criticism, Kalhana has not mentioned the great Shaiva philosopher Abhinavagupta even once. Does it follow from it that Abhinavagupta was not a historical personality at all?

In the face of such scanty historical material at our disposal, we have perforee to fall back upon the popular tradition which in unequivocal and unambiguous terms has all long associated Habba with Yusuf Shah. In the reconstruction of histories of literature the tradition has played no mean part. This kind of unbroken evidence casnot be dismissed as cheap and unreliable altogether. The tradition passes from generation to generation by word of mouth. If in literary criticism this had not been taken cognizance of, then the religious lore of entire humanity would pass on as forged; Actually the case is reverse of it. Tradition has all along held the vedas, the Bible and the Koran as the most respected and the most genuine of all the available literature that has come down to us by the word of mouth. Tradition embraces in its ambit the force of public opinion which cannot be disregarded at any cost. Public opinion in its turn breeds sentimental attachment, and this sort of living testimony is far superior to other media of evidence. Perhaps this irresistible public opinion forced the later Persian chroniclers to make a mention of Habba though two centuries or more after her death. The reasons for maintaining Sphinx-like silence regarding ‘Habba’ by the contemporary chronilcers may be attributed to the aversion Sunni scholars bad for the wayward behaviour of a sunni girl in consenting to become a ‘Keep” to Shia Yusuf Shah. The Shias on the contrary did not like to tarnish the image of the shia king Yusuf by making a mention of his licentious disposition towards Habba. The Hindu Historian could not afford to offend these both sects hence sat on the fence. Therefore, instead of adopting an iconoclastic attitude a critic should own a positive outlook and respect the tradition and the sentiments of people from which he cannot alienate himself. Later skt chroniclers i.e JonaRaja or Shrivara have not mentioned ‘Lalla’ at all though being her contemporaries, yet the popular tradition has had her day in as much as ‘Lalla’ lives before our mental eyes even to-day. Historicity in ordinary and unsophisticated parlance connotes systematisation of facts, values, tradition and outlook. Therefore, the role of tradition can in no way be under estimated.

When the dust of such controvercy had settled down, Birbal Kachru and Hassan Khohyami, the first chroniclers in this field, thought it fit to mention her by name. Both these historians have given an account of ‘Habba’ though in a slip-shod manner; but piecing the incidents together we can build her personality without any fear of contradiction or historical irrelevance. According to them “Habba” was the scion of a well-to-do peasant family living at Chandrahara, a village near the famous Saffron fields of Pampur. She had been married to Aziz Lone one of her collaterals. The proverbial animosity between the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law dampened the marital relations between Habba and her spouse. She was forced to live with her parents. ‘Habba’ at such a tender and impressionably age could not recover from the rebuff she received at the very threshold of her conjugal life. Her despondency flowed out in the form of poetry pulsating with unartificial fusion of sound and sense. He fame reached the amorous ears of Yusuf Shah, who admitted her to his harem as a ‘Keep’, and did not allow her the status of a queen.

Further, Mohammed Din ‘Fauq’ and Abdul Ahad Azad have provided us with her actual name ‘Zoon’, as faultless as the moon. Mahjoor has also accepted this name without a murmur. ‘Habba Khatoon’ presumably a more respectable mode of address than ‘Zoon’ must have been bestowed upon her when she joined the harem of Yusuf Sbab in keeping with the royal ettiquette. There should be no surprise, or eybrows need not be raised when a Kashmiri lady is supposed to have two names. In olden days, Kashmiri girls after their wedlock earned a new name in their inlaw’s house. This custom has persisted with Kashmiri Pandits even now.

A section of popular belief ascribes her home to Gurez where a contiguous mountain and a spring are named after her.

Internal evidence as culled from her verses confirms the first view:-

“My parental home is situated at the tableland of Chandra Hara.”

Her another name can be inferred from this:-

“I am bemoaning my lot in Plaintive cries, the Moon (Kashmiri Zoon) has been devoured by an eclipse.”

Shri Amin Kamil’s well-edited booklet containing only twenty songs is the only authentic source material available to us for commenting upon Habba- Khatoon’s poetry; however, in addition to these, Kashmiris ascribe many more poems to her and these have been printed. As long as an anthology of all her available songs is not compiled and given the seal of an authoritative edition, we have to confine our comments to these twenty songs only. Interpolations will be there, more essentially so, her extraordinary popularity has been a bane for the original texts composed by her. The more popular a poet, the more danger is there of interpolations creeping into his compositions and after the mischief has been done it seems very dificult to distinguish gold from dross, and often dross passes on for gold.

‘Habba’ is very proud of her lineage:-

“My parents brought me up with fondest possible care; A host of maid- servants was at my beck and call. I could not fore-see that the dreams nourished by me would be shattered to the ground. No body’s youth with childlike innocence should go unrewarded like that of mine.”

‘Habba’ testifies to her being very well-read:-

“My parents sent me to a distant school for receiving tuition. The teacher there beat me with a tender stick mercilessly and ignited a fire within me; No body’s youth with child- like innocence should go unrewarded like that of mine.”

She did not ignore the religious education also:-

“I committed thirty ‘Siparas’ of the Holy Quran to memory in a single sitting, faithfully adhering to the diacritical intonations; yet the valentine punctuated with love could not be read with such facile speed. What will you gain by my passing away.”

She has woven the scene of her marriage in these words:

“My parents blessed me as a fortunate daughter, and beckoned to me that the in law’s were waiting in the compound for taking me away. My silver- studded palanquin had golden ear-rings hangingdown on all sides. Alas ! innocent youth of any body, with child-like innocence should not go unrewarded as that of mine.”

But all this pomp and splendour could not pacify the wrath of her mother-in-law :-

“The mother-in law grabbed me by my hair, which stung me more than the pangs of death. I fell asleep on the supporting plank of the spinning wheel, and in this way, the circular wheel got damaged. I cannot reconcile myself with the atrocities of the inlaws, O! my parents, please come to my rescue.”

Habba unfolds her love for her husband like this:-

“I have been waiting for long with extreme patience for you – O! my love (or Aziz) do not be cross with your moon (zoon)! I have adorned myself lusciously from top to toe; so enjoy my youth as lively and inviting as a pomegranate flower.”

But Aziz did not relent and Habba bad to experience the pangs of forced widowbood:-

“I am on pin-pricks for want of an avid response to my love; my bubbling youth is on its ebb. My awake parents, do read in to the hint I have dropped.”

The stings of separation from her husband in her prime-youth can better be imagined than described. Perhaps her being on the brink of human patience can justify her consenting to give company to Yusuf Shah Chak. She could not wait for legal or other formalities involved in sharing his bed. This might seem not very laudable, yet it is true of every maiden who is a slave to her senses and whose warmth of love has all along remained unrequitted, moreso, it is all the more pronounced in the case of a lady who would like to wreak venegance on tbe callous society not reciprocating her sentiments, no matter if she loses ber identity in this bargain.

For the span of years in which Habba lived, no cogent authority is available. Mohd Din ‘Fauq’ and in his foot- steps Abdul Ahad Azad have given her life span from 1641 to 1552 A.D. on the authority of ‘Tarikh Baharistan Shahi.’ But on close examination Shri Amin Kamil refutes this and says that these dates are nowhere found in this chronicle. However, her association with Yusuf Shah can give us a clue as to the years in which she was still alive. The reign of Yusuf Shah has been determined as 1579-1585 A.D.; so we can safely assume that during these years at least Habba was living. Akbar annexed Kashmir in 1585 A.D. imprisoned Yusuf Shah and externed him to Bihar; so, when her paramour Yusuf tell on bad stars, Habba must have eaten her heart away in disgust and dismay. This was the second rebuff she received at the bands of the Destiny, and this impulsive Lady unresponsive in love, unaccepted by the society still did not own defeat. She created an exuberant world of her own, punctuated it with her emotions resonant with the dirge of what she had got and what she lost. She lived in her thoughts, so to say.

Such a state of mind is a fertile ground for the induction of Romanticism. Habba deliberately ignoring the less pleasant side of her life indulged in dreamy habit of mind. Romanticism is the acme of poet’s independence of feelings; under its spell he refuses to be bound by conventional restraints. A romantic poet has either the nerve to rebel nor the will to compromise with his environment. Unmindful of what is happening around him, he delves deep into the inner most recesses of his heart and without fear or malice pours out his felings as they ooze forth. Such a poet is incapable of clothing his emotions with artificial adorations. Romanticism may thus he called the highest water-mark of poet’s individual thinking.

Habba may be called the harbinger of such kind of poetry in Kashmiri. She is the originator of popular love-lyrics in Kashmiri literature. However, her love is earthly; she could not rise above it; Her passionate love has its source in the enjoyment or senses and not their denial in any case. She does not feel fed-up with sensual pleasures, but at times would like to revert to these with ever-increasing appetite. She cannot reconcile herself with the sour-truth of being a widow who has perforce to abjure sensuality. She would not like to show herself off as a pious lady either, under the cover of so-called piety myriad sins do thrive when a woman is not mentally ready to own a salutary course of life for herself. Her poetry, therefore, is a candid expression of her feelings which has immenseley contributed to her popularity. She does not like to play hide and seek. Her appeal is straight and unsophisticated.

Habba’s forte is love-in-separation. She has not sung even a single verse eulogizing the munificence of Yusuf Shah when she was in her company. In the words of Kalidasa ‘Separation chastenes love,’ Hence, Habba like a born-poet selected ‘separation’ for her treatment of love. Her verses throughout waft an air of restlessness and not contentment; Calm Composure and resignation to be in turmoil to fate are absent in her poetry. She seems sit cross-legged, She believes in winning love by bodily excellence alone:-

“I will apply on my body of spotless silvery sheen, the greasy whiteness of milky creams; I am imnmensely enamoured of thee; I will anoint myself with scented sandal-water. MY love! I will relish to be your slave.”

Even though Habba has repeatedly and even lustily made a call to flesh only, yet her songs reverberate an aroma of lasting flavour; though these songs may sound as sensual to a moralist, yet ‘Habba’ has made no secret of her sensuous attitude to life. She has all along wanted to drink deep at the fountain of life without any saintly pretensions. Therein her moral-courage shines the best. Her voracious hunger in this respect seems unsatiated. To her present holds the mirror to what she lost and what she had gained. Her songs are a lament in every sense of the term. She is firm-footed in her convictions and does not vacillate. This is perhaps the most glaring trait of her poetry. She has no concern for morality or ethics in the sense that she would not elect to be a preacher: She revels in being always loud. She revels in being immersed in her imagination only, yet her ego is always loud. She is not shy of parading her beauty and is rather conscious of it also. Even though she has paid a heavy price for it, still she has no regrets in this behalf.

Habba’s refrain is love wedded to pathos; consequently she has kept the windows of her mind shut and her heart is only wide-awake in emitting and receiving images from her fancied dreams. The pathetic content of her poetery is all the more aggravated by the elusive nature of her ideal which has consequently earned for her the epithet ‘Nightingale’ of Kashmir most squarely. She does not subscribe to the view that “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” In the absence of any appropriate and meaningful response to her simmering emotions, she has opted for self- suffering, telling beads of her tear-drops. Be it Heemal, Arnimaal or Habba Khatoon, it is the Kashmiri woman bemoaning her lot in pathetic plaintives, the common subject with all these, the victims of the conspiracy of circumstances. Habba Khatoon essentially is a typical example of such a woman who cannot make any kind of compromise with life. In this predicament she could have turned a rebel, but, she instead of it, becomes a martyr by consent. This is exactly the most salient feature of Kashmiri womanhood. Towards the closing years of her life, Habba does express her remorse for not compromising with the life as it is, but fashioning it according to her imagination; none the less in the same breath she admits that missed opportunities need not be recalled. She does indicate the ‘Achilles Heel’ of her personality-to rule only and not to get ruled:-

“I, Habba Khatoon, is definitely sorry for not adapting myself submissively to the moonish caprices or my lover. I do recaptulate those missed opportunities, but it is now too late to atone for these; therefore, You, my lover! should not be cross with me.”

A sense of guilt seems to haunt this love-lorn lady, but at the same time her self-willed nature dismisses this weight on her heart by taking refuge under the excuse that race is already run. This subdued expression of penitence does portray her loud thinking in unguarded moments, but like a wakeful artist, she cancels it in the second breath. She does not flop, as the idiom goes.

Habba’s songs are musical in essence and pathetic in spirit. She has also been acclaimed as a melody-queen of Kashmiri poetry. Her popularity is also due to the fact that her songs are not only a replica of Kashmiri sentiments but also a potent vehicle of Kashmiri music. Her originality in this sphere is undisputed. Even though she has appropriated a sizable chunk of Persian words and Persian similes, yet she has refrained from owning Persian code on metres. She has in their place introduced home-spun Kashmiri melodies pertaining to rhyme and rhythm in her quartrains.

Therefore, her songs self-contained in each quartrain can be more profitably compared with the ‘Vaks’ of Lalleshwari or ‘Shruks’ of Nund- Reshi from the style-point of view only. These cannot be classed under ‘Gazal’ or ‘Nazam’ of Persian metries, despite the fact that Habba has a tendency to repeat refrains.

Therefore, it is not without reason that ‘Mahjoor’- the doyen of Kashmiri romantic poets, has dealt a dig at one of his celebrated predecessors- Rasul Mir in this pregnent verse, for not paying well-deserved compliment to Habba Khatoon.

“Rasul Mir of Shahabad has profusely alluded to the moon of Qandhar; Why has he been averse to the moon (Zoon, Kashmiri) of Chandrahar?”

(coutesy of  Prof. K. N. Dhar
Shri Parmanand Research Institute
Srinagar, Kashmir )

Below A  biographical note on Prof. Kashi Nath Dar

Prof. Kashi Nath Dhar (1923-1984)

Prof. Kashi Nath Dhar was born on 24th November, 1923 in the Rahbaba-Sahib locality in Srinagar, to Pt. Sarvanand Dhar and Shrimati Kamlavati Dhar. He did his initial schooling and B.A. from Srinagar, after which he went to Lahore (Pakistan) to pursue higher education. He completed his M.A. (Sanskrit) from D.A.V. College, Lahore alongwith the famous Hindi writer Shri Mohan Rakesh.

After returning from Lahore in 1946, he joined as a Lecturer in the Sanskrit Department at the the Govt. College, Poonch. However Pooch was under siege by the Pakistani forces in 1947 Indo-Pak war, and this was a period of great difficulty for him. After the war ended he resumed his teaching and research as a lecturer at S.P. College, Srinagar. Here he also completed his M.A. (Hindi) privately from Punjab University. After working at the Govt. College, Sopore for a while, he was transferred to Amar Singh College, Srinagar, where he served till his retirement.

Prof. Dhar was actively involved in numerous literary and social organizations from his early years as a student. Late Shri T. N. Kaul, sub-editor of The Times of India and his close friend since childhood revealed that Prof. Dhar wrote short stories in Urdu and published a handwritten magazine called “Torchlight” during his early days. He edited a number of magazines during his college period and was the Chief Editor of “Kashyap”, a magazine published by the Kashmir Hindi Sahitya Sammelan, for which he wrote sharp and insightful editorials during his stint there. He was also in the editorial team of another magazine called “Neelja”, published by the J&K National Language Promotion Organisation. He acted as a director of the Shardapeeth Parmanand Research Centre in Srinagar, and published various research works upon the important historical literary works. His contributions regularly featured on Radio and Doordarshan also.

He had an equal command on Hindi and Sanskrit as on Kashmiri, Urdu and English. His collective literary works in the alluded languages bear testimony to the fact. He had an interest in poetry also and liked to participate in debates. He also served in the editorial board of the Kashmiri-Hindi-English dictionary commissioned by the Central Govt. of India.

His contribution in the research in the cultural heritage of Kashmir alongwith various translations and commentaries on Kashmiri and Sanskrit ancient texts and historical works is exemplary and a constant source of inspiration for all. He left his mortal remains on 11 April, 1984 at the age of 61.

Literary Works


Shrivar’s Jain Rajtarangini (English)

Nilmat Puran (Hindi Translation)

NundRishi-A Rosary of Hundred Beads(English)

Nund Rishi Influence On Kashmiri Mysticism(English)

Vasugupt ShivSUtras(English)

Abhinavgupt’s Parmarth Sar (English Translation)

Panchstavi (A commentary in English)

Kashmir- Sanskriti aur Sahitya Ke parivesh Mein (Hindi)

Sanskrit Chronicals and Sultans Of Kashmir (English)

Saint Of All Times- Bhagwaan Gopinaath Ji (English)



Hinduism In Kashmir

Mysticism In Kashmiri Poetry

Rishi Cult Of Kashmir

J&K Academy of Art, Culture  and Languages published many of his works in Kashinath Dhar Rachnavali under the aegis of Prof. Chaman Lal Sapru.

(Courtesy: Sh. Vishakh Bhan)


Kashmiri Music Heritage

The Traditional  Music Of Kashmir


Music Maestros of Old Kashmir

For centuries Kashmir has had a history of invasions by outside forces to subjugate people by perpetual use of force and apart from persecution and plunder,the worst hit has always been the culture of this paradise on earth. Sufiana music, a very old tradition is dying out and an urgent action is needed to save it from extinction. Only a few families in Kashmir practiced this musical form, whereas the tallest Ustad Ghulam Muhammed Qaleenbaaf, Ustad Ghulam Muhammed Saaz Nawaz and Ustad Abdul Ghani Namtahali contributed to impart to their family members and were/are practicing artists.

The Maestros inherited from their forefathers, the elite class of masters like Ramzan Joo, Sidh Joo, Abdullah Shah, Muhammed Abdullah Tibetbaqal and Qaleenbaaf the art of Sufiana Mousiqee and devoted their life to the art which unfortunately is dying due to public insensitivity. This indifference is initially the direct result of lack of State patronage. The only source that could promote this art was State run Radio Kashmir that must be said was dominated by people who were averse to the very idea of promoting a tradition that was linked with Islam and Muslim culture. The lyric language used is Persian dialect and the instruments source Persia or the Middle East. With the passage of time the legendaries of yester years from the Valley, performed in a society that was responsive, blend the lyrics with local Kashmiri dialect to make it understandable and acceptable to local population. Kashmir being predominantly muslim enjoyed the music with spiritualism and Sufism being the heart and soul of Sufiana Kalam. The music that is basic to Kashmir, the crucible of many forms of arts and crafts witnessing callousness towards the traditional and folk arts, the cultural invasion from north and central India made all the difference and the younger generation who would be the future of this music were attracted to Indian music that offered glamour, cheap love songs and unfulfilled dreams. Radio Kashmir being directly controlled from Delhi managed to consign Sufiana Kalaam to history.

Sufiana Mousiqee generally known as “Saazandar Geawun”is the classical rendering in which lyric predominates the Maqam (Mode). The Sw’ras (Notes)make their presence felt and there is no clear-cut recurring pattern of sw’ras that could pervade in each song of the Maqam. It is believed that Hayat Joo the great ancester had come from Iran and later settled in Kashmir. He was the great musician of the time. Sultan Joo the student of Hayat Joo would sing in the royal court of Maharaja. The Maharaja would send his special horse Kontal Gur to fetch him to give performance before the Maharaja. It is significant to note that most of Kashmir’s Maharajas, though hindus by faith, were literate as they could read, write and understand Persian.

Music may belong to any nation or place, the fact remains that it is always good to ears. In other words there are no barriers of language or words that limit music lovers to listen and appreciate a good voice or a tune. Music has always been a part and parcel of human culture and tradition and has had a unique status. The sweet tunes thus produced touch the heart and mind and even consoles human souls. No one knows for sure the origin of music but it is believed that the origins of music can be traced to Egypt and from there spread to other nations.

Sufiana Kalaam is primarily vocal, choral music. It is performed by an ensemble of four to seven musicians and all musicians sing in unison except the main singer (leader of the ensemble) who sings the main lines of the song. The poetry associated with sufiana kalaam is in two languages, Persian and Kashmiri. The favourite poems are those of the great Sufi mystics of Persia and kashmir such as Hafiz, Jallauddin Rumi, Jami, Omar Khayam, Amir Khusro, Rasul Mir, Neame Seab and others.

Kashmiris are a singing people; songs and ghazals have always been part of their literary culture. Music was introduced in Kashmir during the rule of Sultan Zainulabidin known as Budshah (1420 – 70) and before this time there is no historical evidence to prove that there was any kind of music around and so possibly were no musicians around. Sultan Shamasuddin Shahmiri is famous for promoting music and encouraged quite a few musicians of that time. To do this he had many Sanskrit books translated and encouraged a good number of musicians to carry on the tradition. It is said that Sultan Zainulabidin was himself attracted to music and encouraged local musicians and even invited musicians form different countries.

Budshah’s brother Sultan Hassan Shah (1472 – 84) introduced an independent Government department to promote music. Sultan Zainulabidin had a special interest in music and he would organize special meetings for musicians to perform. His son heir apparent Sultan Haider Shah was good at playing instruments available. His grandson Sultan Hassan Shah was also good in the art of music. He invited musicians from South India to promote music in Kashmir. An exclusive department of music was created for the first time in his life time. Kashmiri music, it is said, was at its zenith during the time of Sultan Yousuf Shah Chak as he himself practiced music and performed with perfection and his Queen Habba Khatun was also a great musician and RAAST Kashmiri raag is her invention. Sultan Yousuf Shah Chak attached lot of importance to poetry and music and his personal liking made quite a difference to its popularity. Chak kings exit from the dynasty rule deprived Sufiana music of state patronage and protection resulting in its decline. Thereafter it survived getting protection from Sufi Saints and spiritual people (Darvesh) and also the rich elite as this provided musicians and lovers of Sufi music with zeal, enthusiasm, spiritual enhancement and very importantly a source of income.

In the not so distant past Kashmir liked the style of Sufiana music and is considered as the classical music of Kashmir. As most of the poetry used is Persian which has its origin in Iran and central Asia but at the same time the local Kashmiri language blended with Persian gave it a different flavour.

In the recent past State run Radio Kashmir played its role to promote this art but it was limited due to the paucity of resources available. State’s Cultural Academy also played a role but again lack of resources at their disposal hampered the progress. The maestros like Ustad Kamal Bhat, Ustad Ghulam Muhammed Qaleenbaf, Muhammed Abdullah Tibetbaqal and finally Ustad Ghulam Muhammed Saaz Nawaz contributed with the help of Cultural Acadmey to promote this art and in seventies started holding music classes on regular basis to teach and impart Sufiana music to younger generation and during these courses scholarships were also offered as an incentive to these students. This continued approximately for three years and the program had to be abandoned due to scant attention and interest by the local population and among other reasons has been attributed to the cultural invasion from central India. Moreover, the older generation who kept the tradition alive passed away one after another and the new generation lost the touch completely.

There are a few books written by people like “Taranai Sarwar” by Khushdil, “Asli Mousiqui” by Hafiz Ahmaduulah Punjabi and “Ramoz mousiqui” by Shiekh Abdul Aziz and this has been a good effort but again due to lack of interest very few people are aware that such books are even available. “Koshur Sargam” of Shiekh Abdul Aziz recorded Sufiana poetry and this system of notation is perhaps the only one around.

Wadan Sangeet aur Sufiana Mousiqui” by Noor Muhammed Bhat and “Hamari Mousiqui” by Qaiser Qalandar have talked a lot about Kashmiri music.
Source (Shiraza, Muhammed Ahmed Andrabi)

BaCche Nagme`/ Gharayee Lanczh

A colourful group of people, generally from villages, visiting almost every house in Srinagar city playing this nice musical instrument called “Surnai”. This group, generally made an appearance on EID(Muslim festival)and other good occasions, is identified as “Gharayee Lanczh”. The group comprised of two or more people clad in typical rural attire, Pheron, Kameez, Yezaar and white turban.

Each one holding on to his respective musical instrument like “Surnai” (a kind of a flute blown from the top through a very thin and flat nozzle, it makes very loud and piercing sound but it is melodious) a flatter type of a side drum and the forgotten instruments called Wasool and Saaz-e-kashmir. The most significant notable aspect of the group is this “Lanczh” (a Eunuch) dressed in reds, blues and greens. The centre of attraction his two huge earrings (Kane`waje`) studded with colourful imitation stones. This eunuch had to be a six-footer, with a slim body structure and a hoarse voice being a pre-requisite.

Now this BaCche` Nagme` (Male young dancer performing to entertain admirers of this art) is also an inseparable part of Kashmir culture and cannot be ignored. BaCche`, a Cherub in Biblical terms is again a centre of attraction dressed in the typical “inhi logoon ney li na duppatta mera” outfit of a typical dancer busy dancing surrounded by his male partners playing different musical instruments. Kashmiris have tremendously suffered at the hands of foreign invading rulers and all of them made women a special target. That is why people developed a habit of hiding their women and this gave rise to males or eunuchs dressed in women’s clothing to entertain people and this became part of culture. Now these troupes are nowhere to be seen and this art is a thing of the past.

Tibetbaqal was in full employment with State run Radio Kashmir. He was the master of a unique voice full of melody and received appreciation from all the lovers of music having a special relationship with Sufiana Kalaam. He did not belong to the family of musicians but a family of businessmen dealing in world famous Pashmina shawls and fruit like Apricot in particular.

Because of the business connections, his family was influenced by getting in contact with people from Russia, Ladakh, Tibet, and Yarqand. This Mongolian race from the regions of Ladakh, Tibet and Yarqand was referred to as “Buta”. Since the poetry used in Sufiana Kalaam is mainly Persian he had acquired fairly good knowledge of Arabic and Persian which helped him to first understand what he was to sing. Since his childhood, having a good voice, he was allowed to sing prayers in Maktab (School) on regular basis which in turn proved to be helpful for his future achievements. At a later stage because of his good voice and his personal liking and attachment with Sufiana Kalaam he received initial training in this from Ustad Ghani Joo and Ustad Ramzan Joo.

His family vehemently opposed his interest in singing but he remained steadfast and adamant to continue receive the training and stayed associated with the art. In 1948 Radio Kashmir had just been introduced to Kashmirs and Tibetbaqal got this employment as a breakthrough and was soon famous. His attempt to blend the Sufiana Kalaam with local Kashmir dialect was a very good venture and was highly acclaimed.

He continued to sing Naat and Manqabat (spiritual singing) from Radio Kashmir while receiving appreciation from lovers of this art especially his best capabilities to play this wonderful local musical instrument called Santoor. He, at times, played other instruments like Sitar, Harmonium and Tabla. He also worked with the State department Cultural Academy and contributed to promote this art. Though he received invitations to visit different countries but for some reason he declined all these offers and preferred to stay in Kashmir.

He was employed by Radio Kashmir permanent basis from 1949 to 1971. He belongs to the elite group of singers and musicians. He had developed interest with the art since his childhood and would participate in all household gatherings were lovers of music would assemble and listen to Sufiana Kalaam. He is known to be unique in maintaining the flow of music while his singing has always been appreciated. Initially he was trained by one Sula (Sultan) Joo and then later by Khala (Khaliq) Joo both were known to be music masters of their own time. He has contributed a lot to keep this tradition alive and has also worked as a teacher to impart this tradition to boys and girls of Amira Kadal High School, Srinagar. As he acquired good fame he was appointed as teacher at State Cultural Academy to train young generation so that the art would live for future.

He continued to work with Radio Kashmir and Stat Cultural Academy till he breathed his last. His students namely Shiekh Abdul Aziz, Mushtaq Ahmed and Muhammed Yaqub were all recognized musicians.

He was fortunate and one of the first to get a job in Radio Kashmir which gave him a breakthrough and soon his name became a household. He inherited the art from his father and his cousin and playing of Sitar he learned this skill from Ramzan Raether of Yetchgam, Kashmir. He started his career singing at private gatherings, though illiterate, he was gifted with huge memory and would be able to translate Persian poetry with ease. He is known to have mastered raags like druya, yake, dupke, namdur, mukhmas, tchaqeel, neemtchqeel, setaal, chapandaaz and hajr. He also had a special skill to play Sitar,Tabla and Surnai and being best at Sitar, maqam kanra though difficult to sing would make people ecstatic.

His sweet voice full of melody would make Lalle wakhan the poetry of famous poetess Lalla Arifa and the (shurkh) spiritual poetry of Hazrat Shiekh Nooruddin Wali a treat to listen to.

Ustad Kamal Bhat was employed was employed by Radio Kashmir in 1948 on permanent basis and involved himself with programs organised and conducted by State Cultural Academy. Apart from knowing Sufiana kalaam he would take to dancing as well and did all this with perfection. He also organised to hold classes and would teach the youngsters the art of singing and dancing. He has travelled to some parts of India (now in Pakistan) before partition of India in 1947. Notably, two of his students Abdul Gani Bhat and Abdul Gani Namtahali are practicing Sufiana Kalaam are practicing artists.

Ustad Ramzan Joo, belonging to the family of great musicians and being brother of Maestro Sidh Joo, is ranked as a top class artist in Sufiana Kalaam and acquired this art from his ancestors. He would always participate in spiritual gatherings and getting in touch with other highly acclaimed singers and artists benefited him to learn and master the art singing especially Sufiana Kalaam.

His teachers were achievers in this art like Ustad Wazir Joo and Ustad Abdullah Shah. His motivation, as is said, was his love for Sufiana Kalaam and its spirituality and any financial interest has been of no consequence. He was relentless in his effort to carry on with promoting this art which he did with great success and imparted training and whatever he had learnt to younger generation.

He was employed by Radio Kashmir in 1955 and initially received a “B” class status. It goes to his credit that he was best at playing Santoor but was adept in playing Sitar as well. He also performed in the programs organised by State Cultural Academy and received “Robe of Honour” from the same department. His students, notably, include Ustad Ghulam Muhammed Saaz Nawaz, Abdul Ghani Saaz Nawaz and Ghulam Ahmed Saaz Nawaz.

Also known as Khala Saeb belonged to a family of Sufiana Kalaam professionals and hails from the home Mazaar area of Sufi music village Shangaz, Kashmir. He has been associated with the art since his childhood and received basic training from his father elder Setari. He is reported to be a very good sitar and tabla player and it was his own brother Ghulam Muhammed Setari and Sannaullah who taught him these skills. Being so good at playing Sitar he assumed the nickname of Setari and finally this nickname became the family’s surname. After his home village Shangaz, another village Vajebuer also received laurals to achieve a special place in this art of music. Khala Saeb’s expertise for using “Aaho band” (an acknowledgement or a nod for approval of songs continuity.)

He has extensively travelled a facility provided by the department of Cultural Academy and thus visited various places to perform and receive laurels from the public at places like Bhopal, Bombay and quite a few places in central and northern India. The Bhopal Academy awarded him a certificate of appreciation.

In 1960 he got an opportunity to introduce himself on Radio Kashmir and his performance gave him quite a big fame. He had learned Persian language and was very good in interpreting Persian poetry to his fans directly during conversations or through his songs. His command on the language was so good that he was always mistaken to be an Iranian. This was something outstanding as he did not receive any schooling and was totally illiterate. He maintained his good voice and entertained people with his magic voice till he breathed his last. Among his pupils who reeived training notable are Muhammad Abdullah Setari, Abdul Majid, Showkat Khan, Altaf Hussain and Abdul majid Akhoon.

Ghulam Muhammed Saaz Nawaz
S/O  Ustad Ramzan Joo
Resident of Dana Mazar,  Safa Kadal,  Srinagar,  Kashmir
Born:  July  1940

He was fortunate enough to learn the art from his father when he was very young. Though being part of the group of musicians belonging to his uncle Ustad Sidh Joo, the relationship helped him to attain fame very quickly as his Uncle was already a recognized Sufiana musician. He loves to sing Persian spiritual poetry and his delivery of pronunciation being correct added to the flavour of his singing and people love to hear him sing. He is known to play with perfection the instruments like Santoor, Sitar, Tabla and saaz-e-Kashmir but has an extra edge at playing Santoor.

He was initially employed by Radio Kashmir as a ‘B’ class employee and because of his hard work and perseverance soon became a big name in Sufiana kalaam. He also received a “Sanad” appreciation from Sadiq Memorial Trust. He has also received a few awards from State and Sangeet Academy of India which he received in the year 1999.

Saaz Nawaz received appreciation and acclaim as one of the greatest exponents of Sufiana Music. He also hopes the tradition he inherited from the great masters will be carried on by his sons Mushtaq and Shabir who are learning the art under his guidance and encouraging the youngsters is the only glimmer of hope keeping this tradition alive.

Ustad Sheikh Abdul Aziz is counted as one of the masters from the group of elite musicians and has been trained in the art since his childhood. He would organize gatherings at his own house and invite people from all walks of life having deep interest in Sufiana music and perform. His older brother had also developed an interest in Sufiana Kalaam. This was a unique way to socialise and get to know people which ultimately would become a family affair. His father did not have any interest with all this and expected his son to be more inclined towards education. As he was attracted to this art right from the start he worked very hard to attain perfection in the art of singing and playing instruments like Santoor and Sitar.

To start with he received training from Ustad Ghulam Muhammed Qaleenbaft and then learned under the guidance of Ustad Muhammed Siddique, Muhammed Abdullah Tibetbaqal and Maulana Shamsuddin Hairat Kamili. In short he was fortunate to receive training from the elite group of maestros. He is even the author of very well known book titled “Kashur Sargam” which is an achievement in itself wherein he discussed and explained most of “maqam” notes and the book is in three parts. He was also in charge of “Institute of Music and Fine Arts” nearly for twenty years.

He also contributed to impart training to his young students who are performing though at a slow pace. He was later employed in radio Kashmir and was instrumental in promoting Sufiana kalaam to a large extent. Here he would encourage group performance and his mastery about Sitar became popular, though his favourite instrument being Santoor, he would try his hand on other instruments as well. It was noticed that he had a firm grip on flow and notes (taal) that would enhance his capabilities to perform to deliver and perform with confidence. He is presently working in Doordarshan (Indian TV) and also involves himself with programs organized by State Cultural Academy. He is known to have performed on stage frequently which has received appreciation. He is said to be of the opinion that Dholaki (an Indian musical instrument) is better than Tabla as it coincides with Sufiana mousiqui. He received invitation to visit USA (Maryland) where he performed with tremendous success and quite a few students of music showed interest to learn Kashmiri Sufiana music.

While paying very high tributes and an acknowledgement for the intellectual capabilities of Sheikh Abdul Aziz, Jozef M. Pacholczyk in his book ‘The Classical Music of Kashmir goes on to say ” the three volume set of ‘Kashur Sargam’ by Sheikh Abdul Aziz (1963-65) which contains notations of repertory, provided the bulk of the materials used for my analysis.” He further continues to mention “Aziz’s ‘Koshur Sargam’ is by far the most comprehensive anthology of Sufyana. Because of its reliability, it will be used in this research as an important primary source.”

He was employed by State Information Department as an artist. He is best known by his short name Sarangi as he was known to be best this instrument. As a young boy, he received training from Haji Ghulam Nabi Bulbul and he was further trained by Abdul Rahman Bhat and Shiekh Ali Muhammed.

He became popular and famed as he was very good at playing Sarangi, Tumbakhnaer and Santo Sitzter. He got his breakthrough in 1975 when he was first introduced by Radio Kashmir and was employed in’ B ‘grade category and was promoted to ‘A’ grade in 1995. He visited Delhi, Ajmeer, Jaipur, Bombay, Agra and Calcutta through Cultural and “Tamadun” departments of the State where he performed with his group to gain laurels. He has a group of students receiving training in the art and to name the few are: Muhammed Subhan Shah, Ghulam Ahmed Dar, Ghulam Hassan Shiekh and Abdul Raheem Shah. His most famous song will be remembered for a long time:

Thari yawnenni bargey posh
Bali maryey mai rosh
Lala¬wun mey thownum naar
Newnam qarrar vesiyey

One of the first musicians who associated himself with Radio Kashmir and got is first employment as Rabab nawaz but he as was not satisfied with the job he resigned in 1973. He was one of the first proponents of introducing and playing Rabab with perfection and soon after Radio Kashmir was born hen even directed music for the early feature dramas relayed from the radio station. He is famous for rendering music for a popular song sung by Raj begum and became an immediate hit:

Vasiyey gulan amai bahar
Az saale’ antan baalayar

Gulrez another masterpiece of poetry was again sung by Raj Begum and fine tune provided by Ustad Bhat and notable and unique being his mastery over this instrument, Rabab. He extensively travelled to Delhi, Bombay, Lukhnow, and Calcutta, to demonstrate his capabilities.

Gani, though not a professional singer, was a very well known figure in Sufiana Kalaam. He was spotted while at school leading prayers in the Assembly and his Head Master Ghulam Nabi Kalkati encouraged him to sing on regular basis. This little fame allowed him to sing in small private gatherings and was soon introduced to influential people like Mohan Lal Aima, Pushkar Bhan, Ghulam Ahmed Mahjoor and Ghulam Mohiuddin Balpuri. This provided him with a opportunity to move around with Sufiana Singers of fame like Ghulam Qadir Bhat, Kamaal Bhat, Muhammed Rathaer and Shiekh Abdul Aziz. He has also been fortunate enough to be in the company of famous Poets Ahad Zargar and Samad Mir and would sing in the gatherings organised by by these famous poets. He was, like others, employed by Radio Kashmir in 1960.

The success of Kashmiri film “Habba Khatun’s” credit goes to Gani for providing his contribution as musician. He travelled to Calcutta, Delhi, Bombay, Ajmeer and various other places in India to play and perform. These tours were organised by State Cultural Academy and was able to perform on Indian Television Door Darshan.

He is known to be good at playing instruments like Sitar, Tabla and could also play Harmonium and Santoor with confidence. He has worked hard to impart training this art to his two sons, Ghulam Nabi Namtahali and Abdul Rashid Namtahali. He has also taken active part in state politics and was elected to the Legislative Assembly from 1967 to 1972.

Yaqub hails from a family of Ustaads like his maternal grand father Ghulam Muhammed Qaleenbaaf and then received training from famed people like Shiekh Abdul Aziz and Ustaad Kamaal Bhat. He is adept in playing Santoor, Sitar, Tabla, and Saaze Kashmir but was more inclined to play Santoor where he achieved perfection. He learned to play Saaz-e-Kashmir from late Ustad Kamal Bhat. He travelled to Switzerland/Geneva, Paris, Germany, Italy and Algeria to perform and earned laurels.

He currently runs a music school at Kralpura where a good number of students are learning the art. He has also served as music master in Radio Kashmir where he would perform with his associates and students.

Gopi Nath is the first Kashmiri Pandit who took to dancing and became very famous in a very short time. His family tradition would not allow him to lead a path of this nature and had to struggle to continue dancing. His commitment and perseverance made him a well known figure and learned the art of singing as well. His singing includes “Hindu Leela” Naat, Chakri and Roaf. His singing party included Muhammed Ismail Dar, Abdul Aziz, Ghulam Rasool, Muhammed Ramzan and Abdul Samad.

Gopi Nath was famous for playing Harmonium but would play with comfort instruments like Tabla, “Noat” (Kashmiri clay pitcher) and Banjo. He initially sang in marriage parties and in some specially organised private parties and then went on to sing at Radio Kashmir where he was employed on permanent basis. He at times would perform on Indian Television channel “Door Darshan” as well.

Later, he was employed by States Field Publicity Department and trips organised by the department would take him to other places in the state to perform. He made such trips to states rural areas and regions. He would occasionally perform in the programs organised by states Cultural Academy and through them travelled to Delhi, Bombay, Goa and has also visited Africa wherefrom he returned with medals and awards.

Sidh Joo

It is said he was very handsome and where ever he went to perform, the place used to be very well decorated and furnished expensively. Frequently he would sing and play instruments while Hafiz (dancers) would also perform. He played violin with perfection. Once in a talk show on radio kashmir his son Ghulam Qadir who was the Sufiana music teacher at cultural Academy had all the praise for his father for the qualities inherent in him as a singer especially when he performed with the company of Hafiz dancers and would maintain the line to keep up with the rhythm and musical notes. Qadir Joo is also said to be a master Tabla nawaz and playing sitar would be his specialty. The flawless performance of Tabla beat and the Hafiz dances were noteworthy which would send the lovers of music into ecstasy. The non stop repeat of verses would generally continue for more than half an hour. It is also said that Raja Ram Singh was a lover of Hafiz performers and he would organize these programs even at the official Governors secretariat at Tanki pora. The son of Maestro Sidh Joo would be the introductory musician followed by his fathers expert performance. Apart from the Sufiana music, he would also sing Indian classical Thumri with seriousness and with a slight touch of romantic notes. One of the Hafiza known as Moti Jan was a paragon of beauty and would generally grace such occasions. She was also referred to as the Queen of beauty. Another Hafiza known as Teath seab was charming due to her big eyes and as she was learned, educated and had the knowledge about Astrology commanded respect in all the circles of the society. In order to enhance their beauty they used ornaments like Peshwaza and Tikka an ornament (pendant type) hung around center of forehead. Other notable Hafiza were Noore`Aarmein, Gannz Gul and Waza`Gul. Sidh Joo was best at playing 20 notes in a beat with ease. He received his initial training in this art from his mentor, Guru and father Wazir Joo. And to keep the records straight, Ustad Sidh Joo was brother of famous Maestro Ustad Ramzan Joo.

Ustad Amir Din Zaz started singing at the age of 20 years and being a good learner picked up the art of playing Santoor, Sitar and Harmonium with perfection. He was admired for his good voice and soon became part of the ensemble of the elite group of Sufiana Masters. He had his early training from Ustad Rahman Joo Zaz and learned the skill of making sur and later joined the group of Mohammad Abdullah Tibetbaqal. On certain occasions became part of the group led by Ustad Ghulam Mohammad Qaleenbaaf. Amir Din never chose his singing as a career and his love for the art was highly acclaimed. He was even offered jobs at Radio Kashmir or State run TV channel Doordarshan but he always turned it down. He will be remembered for his famous song maqam subhdam:

zaag sundari bagh babri
naag nendre ma paiyee

  Instruments Used with the Traditional Music of Kashmir

In this chapter, I have written about the instruments which are used with the folk music of Kashmir, followed by the description of those instruments which are used with the Sufiana Mousiqui. The history of the instruments, the technique of playing, and the material they are made of and much more has been discussed in the Chapter.
Raj Tarangini mentions specifically about the art of music and musical instruments in this region in distant past. The ancient musical instruments used in Kashmir had been more or less a reflection of the Indian musical instruments in usage during that time.
According to Pandit Kalhana, the folk musical instruments like earthen pots, brass vessels etc. were used by Kashmiri people from very early times. In Kashmir 4th century A.D. tile, found during excavation from Harwan, is showing the impression of a female musician playing on a drum. The other person is shown playing a veena in an artistic pastime. The king Bhiksacara (1120-21) A.D., who himself played these instruments was fond of “Chhakri” (folk choral singing) which continues to be popular in Kashmir valley since Kalhana’s time and even earlier to that.
Raj Tarangini mentions an instrument called “Hadukka” which can be compared to a big pipe.
According to B.C. Deva, the string instruments, Rabat) and Sarangi, came to Kashmir with the influence of Muslims. The whole subcontinent was affected by the culture of the new rulers. In music, we came across new Ragas, new styles and new instruments like Rabab and Sarangi. Rabab traveled with the bards and minstrels of Afghanistan and joined the folk group instruments in Kashmir. Some scholars say that it must have been introduced into Kashmir at the time of Zain-ul-Abidin. The most popular instrument used in folk music is the Rabab, which was borrowed from Persia.
Both the instruments, Rabab and Sarangi, used in folk music ‘Chhakri’ from 14th century onwards opened a new chapter in Kashmir for music and its musical instruments. According to V .N. Bhatkhande, the Muslim rulers had brought with them their own system of music with n­ew melodies, new interpretations, new types of songs and new Talas, which in course of time got fused with Hindu music and gave rise to modern Hindustani music. In a similar way, artists from Central Asia, during Sultanate period brought with them their art, music, musical instruments and culture resulting in wonderful interaction which in course of time gave birth to Kashmiri classical music which is known as Sufiana Mosiqui. It borrowed its style from Persian music. The cultural interaction has resulted in a unique form and an interesting synthesis of the various types of classical music preserved by Kashmir. It was in this period that the Kashmiri music reached the heights of perfection under the patronage of rulers and saints. Many improvements were brought out in the conventional instruments to render them more useful to the art. The instruments like Santoor, Saaz, Setar, Rabab and Sarangi are resultant inventions and innovations and denote the developments, which took place during this period.
The musical instruments have played a key role in the evolution of Kashmiri Sufiana Mosiqui. This mosiqui has deep impression on the listener and it is in the nature of very serious music. The Kalam or the verses are also peculiar and this style of music has been very selective in this respect. Similar is the case of instruments used in this Mousiqui, which have been selected with due thought. The instruments used by the sufiana musicians are quite different from those used in Indian Classical Music, Kashmiri folk music and other styles. The prominent instruments include Santoor, Kashmiri Setar (Sehtar) and Saaz-i-Kashmir, the percussion instrument for providing rhythmic variety is Tabla which replaced/Wasul or a Dolke called Dokra, used previously.

1.0 Tumbaknari

Tumbak has been a musical instrument in the good olden days in Iran and Central Asia, which was being played mostly by the women folk of these places. Many authors believe that such instrument is being used in Iran and Arabia too. May be it has come to Kashmir from these places, for the simple reason that visitors and rulers were coming to Kashmir in the olden days from Iran and middle east, which besides other things made cultural invasion on the art of Kashmir. Co-incidently, this instrument is also being played by the women folk in Kashmir, the only difference is that in Iran or Central Asia, it is now being made of wood, while in Kashmir, it is still being made of baked clay maintaining its originality. This type of instrument is used for keeping rhythm and also time that covers in a performance of music.
Dr. Rahullah-Khaliqui has written in page no. 403 of his book ‘Serguzashti Mousiqui-Iran’ about the style of playing this instrument in Iran. In Iran, this instrument is called Tumbakh or Tunbak. In west, it is tumbal or tumbari and in Kashmir, it is tumbaknaeer. The naer is added because the tail end of this instrument is like a pipe, which in Kashmiri, is called a Nore, which has in course of time, changed to naer, making the instrumental tumbaknaer. It is generally used by women folk at various occasions of merriment like marriages, Yagnopavit etc. It is struck by the fingertips to produce the desired harmonious rhythm.
Thalez: is used at farms especially on weeding of paddy crops, when rice plants are required to be freed of the unnecessary growth of vegetation. At these weeding operations, the farmers and their women folk used to sing collectively to overcome the monotonous work, using Thalej as rhythm maintainer.

2.0 Sarang (Sarangi)

It is a stringed musical instrument played with a bow and it is in vogue in three types:

The first type is smaller in size and is used in Kashmir under the name of Sarang, which as per a belief (local) is the invention of Maharaja Sarang Dev’s time (Sarang Dev was a king of Kashmir).
The second type is slightly bigger in size than the Kashmiri Sarang and is mostly used in Bengal for Bengali music.
The third type is a full size and standard Sarangi used in Indian classical music. Its size is roughly three feet long and about eight inches wide. It has four main strings and about thirty five sympathetic side strings known as Taraba in musical language and most of them are made of steel and brass.

3.0 Kashmiri Sarang

Kashmiri Sarang is very simple in structure. It is made of a block of wood, preferably of mulberry or teakwood. The entire body is hollow from inside with two combined parts. Both the sides of the lower part are punched and the whole is covered with hide. The upper part serves the purpose of a fingerboard. Commonly its length is one and a half feet. It has two strings of gut, one of steel and another of coiled brass (making four mains trings). Besides it has eight or ten sympathetic wires/strings of steel known as ‘terban’.
It is played with a bow, made of a hard round stick of wood, to which hair of the tail of horse are fixed at both the ends, and a small wooden triangular but curved bridge is placed at one end to keep the hair light. The bow is held in the right hand and moved from one end to the other, vertically on the main strings to produce sound. The fingers namely fore, middle, ring and sometimes the little finger are used to produce notes of different pitch at different length of different strings. The fingers however do not press down the strings on the fingerboard, but are simply touched at the starting place with nails of each finger of the left hand, thus the musical notes are produced.
Besides Kashmir, in the hilly areas of Himachal Pradesh, the playing of this Sarang is common. It is also popular among the tribals of Bihar. In northern India, Sarang, besides being played with the bow-shaped stick, is also played with the ‘Kanishtha’ (the little finger) and ‘anamika’ (the finger between the middle and the little finger) of the left hand. The playing on this instrument is known as ‘purva’.

4.0 Gagar

Gagar is a well known word in the Indian languages. Gagar is made of brass. In Kashmiri Hindu society, Gagar has a cultural importance.
In Kashmir also, at the time of Herath Festival, Gagar has an important role to play. Gagar is placed on the bangle shaped circle made of dry paddy straw which is placed on the floor, washed with clay. The Gagar is half filled with dry nuts. Then Lord Shiva and Shakti are worshipped. Thus, it can clearly be understood that Gagar holds valuable place in the religious festivals in Kashmir. It is also used in homes for storing water by Hindus and Muslims both.
The same Gagar is used with the music of Kashmir. The artist put iron rings in his fingers of the left hand and places his hand on Gagar while striking Gagar with the right hand. The sound produced is very high and thus Gagar plays an important role in creating the musical environment in the gatherings.
During festivals and temple kirtan, playing of Gagar is of great importance. Gagar might have its origin in Vedic time.

5.0 Nagada

Nagada is an instrument resembling ‘Dhola’. It has many names, like Nakkara, Nagada, Dugdugi etc. in Indian languages. According to B. Chaitanyadeva, Nagada is a changed form of the ancient Dundubhi. In Himachal Pradesh also, its similar form and structure can be found: its upper side is covered with leather of goat. Nagada is slightly smaller than the ‘Nobat’ instruments. The instrument ‘Nagadi’ is also played with it. This instrument is struck with a piece of wood and the sound is produced, it is in demand in the temples.
In Kashmir, it is used during festivals and marriage ceremonies. Mainly it is used with the ‘bhand jashan and ‘bhand natya’. It is used during paddy harvesting. The farmers consider it as an energy booster during their tiring task of farming.

6.0 Dhola

Dhola has its own history in the musical instruments of India. The first form can be traced in the Mohan Jodaro culture. One of the oldest instruments of India, Dhola is mainly traced in the villages and every state of India.
In Kashmir, it is mainly used in villages and it is mostly played with the folk dance of the bhands.

7.0 Shankh

One of the ancient instruments of India, Shankh, the sushirvadya, is associated with religious functions. In Athar­Veda, one finds reference to Shankh, though it existed long, before. In Bhagvad Gita, during the time of war, Shankh had played an important role. One finds that Shankh has been called by different names like Panch Janya Shankh, Devadatt Shankh, Mahashan Ponder Shankh and more. Even in Valmiki’s Ramayna, the mention of a Shankh can be traced.
In Kashmiri Hindu culture, Shankh is an instrument, which is played both in temples and homes.
In the temples, Shankh is played in the mornings and evenings during the prayers. In homes, it is played before the starting of havan, yagnopavit, marriage, etc. in Kashmiri Hindu marriage, Shankh is played by a person to mark the arrival of the groom. After reaching the bride’s place, the groom is made to stand on the ‘rangoli’ and Shankh is played constantly. At times, when the bride’s parents take much time to see her off, then Shankh is played to indicate the late departure, so that they hurry up. Shankh is used as the proclamation and declaration of war, victory and religious ceremonies.
Shankh has a vital role in ‘Leela’ singing. It gives religious touch to the occasions as if gods and the goddesses are summoned in a special way to make an appearance to the devotees worshipping.

8.0 Swarnai

Swar-nai, a ‘sushir vadya’, holds an important place in the folk music of Kashmir. This instrument has been mentioned in Nilamata Purana and in Kalhana’s Raj Tarangini. Swarnai holds the same place in Kashmir folk music as the Shahnai in the Indian music. This is the reason, why Swarnai is also called Shahnai in Kashmiri music.
Swar-nai is made of two words-Swar and Nai. The structure of Swarnai is slightly bigger in size as compared to Shahnai. This instrument is made of wood and its makers are the traditional makers of Swarnai. It has nine holes near the round mouth of Swarnai, there is a till type square through which the player blows the air. This is also called, Tulbarabir Tulkarav, in Kashmiri language.
The playing of Swarnai is considered very auspicious. in Kashmiri culture. This musical instrument is deeply related to marriages, festivals, shivratri, navreh, Id and other auspicious occasions of Hindus as well as Muslims. It is also used by bhands while performing in folk drama-­’Lok Natya’. Besides this, it is also widely used in ‘bachi naghma’ folk dance. During the harvest, the players of Swarnai go to farms and perform entertaining music to entertain the farmers and collect the crop for themselves.
This way, melodious Swarnai is widely used in the folk music culture of Kashmir.

9.0 Khasya

In Kashmiri folk music, round cup made of bronze is called khos’. Usually khos is used for drinking Kahva (a type of Kashmiri tea) in Kashmiri Hindu families. Beneath the round form of Khos is smaller round portion on which it stands. Khasya is the plural form of Khos. Whenever there is a religious gathering, marriage or yagnopavit, Tumbaknar, Ghat, two Khasya are played with both the hands. The Hindu women are more proficient in playing it. It is a ‘Ghan Vadya’. The sound is produced by striking both the Khasya with each other.

10.0 Thaluz

Thaluz is a Kashmiri word. The instrument is called by different names in different regions of north and south­Jhanjh, Jhalari, Manjir, Thali Kans, Kanjaam, Illatalam, etc.
This instrument can be seen in temples of north and south during religious prayers in the mornings.
ashmiri Thaluz is made of bronze, its round portion is around 13 cms. 30 cms. It is widely used in the folk functions of Kashmir. Thaluz is mentioned in Kalhana’s Raj tarangini and Nilamata Purana. The use of instrument is mainly confined to the temples. On Saturday nights, in temples of Kashmir, usually Jagrans’ are performed and many musical groups do kirtans, the whole night. Thaluz is then played by the performers, to summon the diety in invocation to the place of worship.

11.0 Rabab

The word ‘Rabab’ is pronounced as Rabab in Persian and Rabab in Arabic, which in Arabic is Rab-O-Raba; literary meaning to collect, to make available, to arrange or to manage.
It has been controversial to assert about the origin of Rabab, which was however initially played with a bow but now it is played with a mizrab precisely with a plectrum.
One school of thought suggests that this instrument has been brought to India from the middle East by the foreign intruders perhaps by Sokandar Zulqurmein in the past. Others suggest that Tansen, the celebrated musician invented it, as is mentioned in Ain-i-Akbari. Abu Naser­farabi is of the opinion that this instrument, originally played with a bow, was in fact successfully tried and played with a mizrab later on, in Middle East. One more lover and thinker of music Aullya-Chalbi of Arabia is of the opinion that Rabab was made in Arabia by one Abdullah before the birth of Prophet Mohammad of Islam.
However, in the encyclopedia of music, by A-Lavience, Rabab is said to be an Indian musical instrument, which was existing before 5000 BC during the time of king Ravana and was then known as Ravanastram, the strings of which were made from the guts of deer. Again, one more English ­author Rawlinson has written in his book ‘ancient Monarchies’ that Rabab was made in Iran. Nothing can be said authentically about its origin but it is one of the oldest stringed musical instruments known in the field o music, though it has undergone many changes in its form structure and manner of playing
The present day Rabab is made of seasoned mulberry wood. It is about three to three and a half feet in length. One end of the body is round and the diameter is about a foot. The round part is covered with parchment. This round part gradually joins the neck by becoming curved and narrow.
A piece of very thin wood is fixed at the top of the open part to cover it that serves the purpose of the fingerboard of the instrument. Four guts of different thickness are used in it as strings, in place of metal strings. The entire body of instrument is hollow from inside. It is played with a plectrum made of coconut shell, bone or of any hard metal.

12.0 Noet

It is a simple earthenware pot, usually for collection of water in rural India. Now a days it is usually made of brass or copper, but for musical purposes only the earthenware pot is traditionally used in Kashmiri music. It has a big round belly having a small open round mouth at the upper portion. It is the oldest type of drum variety known to the mankind.
In shape, the Noet of Kashmir is not different from the Ghatam of the South or the Matki of Rajasthan. They are used as the instruments in the music in those state which proves the fact that they might have begun their journey from the same cultural background. Their skill and style of playing might have differed in accordance with the traditions prevalent in respective regions.
In Kashmiri language, the original words ‘Kalash’ or ‘Ghat’ might have lost their existence and Noet might have gained popularity due to the fact that it was associate, with ‘uV'(nat). in due course of time the word ‘nat kalash might have lost the word ‘kalash’ and become popular as ‘noet’. Such reference has been made in Nilmata Purana
(i.e. reasted clay pot players-Bhands)
Kalhana in Raj Tarangini frequently refers to this instrument.
(they played on their balded heads exactly as the earthen pot instruments were played).
The tradition is maintained by the natives living in, the distant rural areas of Kashmir, who spend their evenings in practicing this ancient art. The name of Mohan Lal Aima is worth mentioning here, who did a deep and thorough study of Noet playing and thus revived the art and its ­importance for us.

13.0 Nai (Flute)

In Kashmiri language, the normal meaning of ‘Nai’ is related to flute. In Kashmiri folk music, the prevalence of Nai is older than two thousand years as we get its description in Nilamata Purana.
“Punyahved shabdin vansi venurvenaya sut magadh shabden tatha vandisvanenc”
Nilamata Purana described banshi as well as venu and in the modern era even the Kashmiri artists, especially of Anantnag, are proficient in playing two types of flutes.

1. The first type of flute is empty from inside and there are seven holes for seven swaras. While playing it, fingers of both the hands are used. This type of flute is more prevalent in the folk life.
2. The second type of flute is also called ‘Pi-Pi’ in Kashmiri language. This type of flute is made of walnut’s wood. Even this flute has seven holes but the hole from where the air is blown is absent, but its adjacent hole is put into the mouth and blown. The player sees the seven holes clearly. This instrument is used more conveniently and the player does not get tired soon. This type of flute is more famous in Kashmir

14.0 Santoor

Among the musical instruments, Santoor occupies an important place in Kashmiri music. Soofiana singing is not possible without its accompaniments. These days, it is joining popularity even outside Kashmir. Its sweet tappings create a feeling of romantic mood whereas its soft tunes remind of the transquality of the other world, which suits the mysticial temperament of soofiana music. This instrument emits loud and enchanting sounds. It requires subtle sense of turning on the part of the musicians who play it, with both hand using two sticks of twenty four centimeters called ‘Kalan’. It is debatable whether Santoor is a native instrument of Kashmir or has been brought from abroad. Opinions differ. Some scholars view that it belongs to Iran. Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma claims that he was the first ever Santoor maestro who brought it to classical stage. Santoor is being used for mousiqui in Kashmir since thirteenth century. But, that does not prove the fact that it came from abroad and its origin could not be Kashmir thirteen centuries before Christ. Reference to Shat-tantri veena is available at several places. It might have been the original form of Santoor and in due course, might have changed to the present form. The technique of performance, linguistically analyzing ‘Shat’ word must have traveled to `Sat’ and then to ‘Sant; and ‘tantri to ‘tantar’ to ‘trir’ and finally to ‘toor’. Both together must have become `Santoor’. Had it been from foreign origin, it would have brought the name along.
Santoor is made of mulberry wood. Some scholars believe it to be related to Shakt sect. According to Shakts, triangular is a symbol of desire, knowledge and action.
They have referred to the Shakt instruments, several times, and believed that goddess Mahashakti should be worshipped accompanying these instruments. The base on which Santoor is placed is also the same shape.
Mulberry tree in Kashmir has a religious value. It is related to ‘Bhairav’. In every ‘Bhairav’ temple, mulberry tree is parted with vermilion and people worship it devotedly. In Khirbhavani, the famous Shakt pilgrimage, the goddess is sitting on the mulberry tree. The very pilgrimage is called ‘tulnuri’ meaning ‘root of mulberry’.
The shape of Santoor is trapezoid. Its right side is called ‘burn’ and the left ‘Jil’. Twelve wires on right side are of brass and those on the left are of iron. There are also twelve nobs on the right and twelve on the left side. Four wires are fixed to each nob. The production of the tune depends on the nobs. Twelve brass wires remind us of soft and sweet Shakt emotion and the throbbing tune of iron wires remind us of hard appearance of Shiva himself. The number of wires in total is ninety six. At the tune of yagnopavit, the priest wraps the holy thread ninety six times around his palm. The number is significant in itself. The tops of the nobs are inlaid in the horns of stag. This animal is found in Kashmir alone.
Twentieth century leading player of Santoor has been Tibat Bakal. At present Saz Naivaz, Kaleem, Shekh Abdul Aziz are known for their style of playing. Pandit Bhajan Sopori is making it popular on classical stage and popularizing it all over the world.

15.0 Saaz-i-Kashmir

Saaz had not originated from Kashmir. Since it has remained in vogue in Kashmir for centuries without any major modification, people preferred to call it Saaz-i-Kashmir or the musical instrument devised in Kashmir. It is played with bow, as such it is easier for the player to get microtones out of it.
According to Rouhulla Khalighi, Saaz in Persia is called Kamancha. It is the same instrument called Saaz in Kashmir and is played by a bow. He again states that the instrument has now been replaced by the violin as it is more complete. There are very few people who can play the Kamancha now-a-days.
Saaz is found all over the Islamic world and it originated from the north Iranian district, Kudristan. This type of instrument (Three stringed fiddle) is mentioned as early as the tenth century AD, by the great theorist Al Farabi. The instrument is found elsewhere in the Middle east also. Since the Kashmir Saaz is more developed and complicated, that is why people have named it as Saaz­i-Kashmir. The Iranian use this instrument for vocal accompaniment.
Saaz-i-Kashmir has three prominent strings, two made of silk. The silk string is made worthy of producing musical sound by mixing it with the skin of fish. It is tuned to Sa, while the 2nd one is tuned to SA (middle octave). The third one is not made use of, as it is not touched by the bow. On either side of the dand, there are seven strings (right side) made of steel and seven strings (left side) made of brass. Right side resonance strings are tuned respectively from Pa to Ma, whereas that of the left side from Sa to Ni (middle octave).

16.0 Setar/Sehtar

The invention of Sitar is commonly credited to Amir Khusrau, scholars, generally, refer to him as the originator of Indian Classical Sitar. Some others are of the opinion that musicians adopted Tritantri Veena and improved upon it and created Sitar. The theory which is widely accepted is that Sehtar was the instrument brought by Amir Khusrao from Iran. According to Bimal Mukherjee (The History and Origin of Sitar), by the 11th or 12th century the second Sitar had emerged, an instrument, to accompaniment to vocal music and later also as an independent instrument. A little later there was a series of Muslim invasions on north. The invaders mostly Persians and Turks, were not only brave warriors but also loved finer things of life like music. Some of them had brought along with a small instrument with three strings called Sehtar, meaning three strings. Even Abul Fazal says that another instrument called Been was like Yantra and contained three strings.
Probably the word Sitar is derived from this Sehtar. The Sitar which resembles the Persian Tambura or ud, in shape, and the Indian Veena, in principle, is itself a fusion and an epitome of the Indo-Persian culture and civilization.
Despite this opinion, same authors say that it is a gradual process of development from Tritantri Veena. Others say that the invention of Sitar is attributed to Amir Khusrao and that is probably of Persian origin. Kashmiri Sehtar or Sitar is said to be original model of Indian Sitar. This instrument is now however, comparable to Indian Sitar of these days and retains its originality. The Kashmiri Sehtar is the original instrument accompanying Sufiana Kalaam or Mousiqui which came to Kashmir from Central Asia.
Sitar is a long neck plucked lute, similar to the Persian Sitar. Curt Sach is of the view that the Arabs call it the largest variety. ‘Tanbur Kabir Turki’ or large Turkish lute. The Persian, however, do not use the word Tunbur and they designate the stringed instrument by the word Tar. This is why the people mostly called it Persian Sitar. This type of Sehtar or Sitar was widely used in Kashmir. In villages (especially in Wahthora, where jesters called Bhand live) Sufiana musicians would use Kashmiri Sitar for accompaniment of this Mousiqui. This musical instrument is specially meant for accompaniment purpose for Sufian Mousiqui unlike the Indian Sitar which is used for solo purpose only. Gradually the Sitar had come to acquire five strings by stages and the number has recently increased to seven strings. The Structure of Kashmiri Sitar is as under: it has Dand which in some is 2 wide over which frets made of threads are fixed, a Tumba which is either made of wood or that of gourd. Tumba is about one third to one fourth of the size of Indian Sitar (Tumba).

17.0 Wasul/Dokra/Tabla

Wasul or Dokra is the only percussion instrument used in Sufiana Mousiqui. Wasul is a double membrane barrel shaped drum used in Sufiana Kalam, until some seventy years ago. It is played in a manner similar to Tabla and provides the rhythm of Maqamat in Sufiana Mousiqui. About a decade ago, the Research Library Srinagar, published two manuscripts of music (Tarana Saroor and Karamat-i-Mujra) with some old paintings of musicians. One such painting was printed opposite maqam-i-Dhanasri. This painting has pictures of:

1. Two Hafizas dancers wearing Peshwaz (special dress in Kashmir for both male and female dancers).
2. Two musicians with a Sitar and Tabla type Wasul.
3. Two musicians, one carrying Sitar.

This clearly shows that Wasul had been in use as Rhythm instrument earlier to Tabla and had primacy over Tabla.
Originally Tabla had some other shape and was called Mridanga. Mridanga is accompanied with the Carnatic music. Later on, Mridanga was divided into two pieces and after undergoing modification it became the modern Tabla.
Under the later Indian influence Wasul or Dokra was completely substituted and replaced by Indian Tabla. Tabla has been found to be more convenient, easier and a suitable instrument as compared to Wasul. Sufiana Musicians have completely given up Dokra or Wasul and have adopted Tabla. Therefore, there is hardly any person who knows the playing of these instruments, as they have become totally extinct

(By Dr Sunita Dhar)

Tribes of Jammu and Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir can be authentically stated as the most sublime and out-of-this-world locale amidst the Himalayan splendour. With its incomparable, bounteous and breath-taking beauty, `J&K`, as it is lovingly called by fellow countrymen, holds within itself much more clandestine elements than just wintry places and snow and greenery and birch. Jammu and Kashmir is an abode to quite a number of tribal communities, who have settled down in every nook and corner of this hilly countryside. The tribal people and their places, the tribals and their customs, their cultures, their means of communication, or simply their culinary arts, makes the tribes of J&K stand out from the rest of Indian tribesmen. In order to know more about the lives and culture of these tribes of Jammu and Kashmir Valley, eminent anthropologists of the Indian subcontinent have thronged the region with lots of curiosity and enthusiasm. Indeed, since historical times, it has been acknowledged that Kashmir Valley have been endowed with gifted rulers and sovereigns, who had paid much attention and had patronised their nomadic and communal tribes, who were later to swell up into historical characters themselves.

Abiding by observations from the anthropologists, most of the tribes of Jammu And Kashmir State are believed to have descended from the famous and legendary family of the Aryans. Anthropologists also have cited few lines about the languages. For instance, in order to carry on and conduct a successful conversation amongst each other, some of these Jammu and Kashmir tribesmen converse with each other in the Dogri language. Dogri stands for a blending of other languages like Sanskrit, Punjabi and Persian, which dates back to the `Indo-Aryan group of Sanskrit`.

Tribal life of J&K plays host to the artistic traditions of the various tribes who have settled in this colourful and vibrant area. These different tribes dwelling in different regions of the state pride themselves and earn satisfaction in their own culture and tradition. Their items for everyday usage like utensils, clothes etc., bear a declaration and provides evidence to Kashmiri tribal rich cultural life and prehistoric tradition. The designs carved exquisitely on various handcrafted items bear a powerful imprint and distinctive influence of the age-old tradition. The simply gorgeous and bounteous walnut wood crafts in shape of trays, fruit bowls, ladles, plates and picture frames are a sheer enchantment to call as one`s own. Tribes of Jammu and Kashmir do possess their quintessential and archetypal artistry wonders to display for admirers, which can be viewed in the extensive carving created on wooden boxes and furniture, speaking volumes about the adroit fingers of the local artisans.

Within the state of Jammu and Kashmir, these two cities function quite independently on their own accord. As such, tribesmen of Jammu and Kashmir also at times differ in their approach. The present J&K region is inhabited by three enormous tribes – the robust Dogras populating in the plains, the Pahadis of the hills and the nomadic mountain-dwelling tribes of the Gaddis and Gujjars. These four cardinal tribes of Jammu and Kashmir make up the authentic and characteristic ethnic culture of this primeval state and its tribal culture.

Just like many other Indian tribesmen, most of the tribes of Jammu and Kashmir have accepted rice, wheat, pulses as their staple food. The clothing line of Jammu And Kashmir tribes are quite down to earth and uncomplicated in format. Clothing constitutes of a `short coat` or a hanging shirt with pyjamas, which also goes up to the knees and gradually becomes tight at the ankles. Both the male and female tribes of the state do however believe in wearing remarkable and strikingly beautiful clothes. The usual trend is that the turban of the males on the head is in general balanced by a `kamarband` at his waist. With a shawl or dupatta thrown over the head, these Jammu and Kashmir tribeswomen put on a tight-fitted top or sweaters over Pyjamas, which bear resemblance to the dress of male members of the regular tribal community.

In order to sustain their livelihood, the tribes of Jammu and Kashmir and primarily function as cultivators, maintaining an essential agrarian livelihood; only a few have been acknowledged to become priests. However, the tribal cluster of priests has also made their mark on their line of profession, thereby supremely supervising all the religious rites and customs. Rearing cattle, assembling fruits etc. are just some of the occupations that the tribes of Jammu and Kashmir have taken up. Keeping pace with the remaining tribal communities of the Indian Territory, these Jammu and Kashmir regional tribesmen too have adopted to religions like Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism etc. The societal structuring of these tribes of Jammu and Kashmir too demonstrates no deviation from the usual trend of the countrywide tribal society.

The Balti : A Scheduled Tribe of Jammu and Kashmir
Traditionally, the Balti tribe from Jammu and Kashmir are understood to have been descendants of Celtic communities settled in Scandinavia. When the water level in the Baltic Sea rose and had deluged their cultivable lands, the people were forced to flee the area. Even after the flood had receded, the land looked to be unusable for agriculture, having been heavily impregnated with mineral salts. Quite understandably, migration had begun in several directions. The Baltis of Ladakh region of Jammu & Kashmir are, on the other hand, related to many other communities in Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine. The highlands at the approaches of the Karakoram Pass, populated by former Buddhists converted to Shi-ite Islam by Mir Shamsuddin Iraqi around the turn of the 16th century, are however presently receiving immense attention from the news media.

The Dogra Tribe of Jammu and Kashmir
The people of Jammu and Kashmir possess a distinguishing lifestyle, depending upon the region they belong to. This state is classified into three regions on the basis of its topography and all the three provinces possess their motleyed religion, culture and lifestyle. A visit to the Jammu city and will make one comprehend about the majority of inhabitants belonging to the Dogra community possessing umpteen religious sects and castes, but mostly celebrated for their valiancy and chivalry. Historians believe that the Dogra tribe of Jammu and Kashmir are the descendants of the Aryans, who had settled on the southern hilly tracts of Kashmir, stretching up to the Punjab Plains. The Dogra Rajputs among Hindus and Chibals and Sudans, the chief sects of Muslim Rajputs are martial races, whereas the origination of the Khatris and Mahajans of Punjab have been in some dispute, with the only acknowledged factor about their basic occupation of commerce and trade.

The tribal community living on the hills of the Kashmir Valley are referred to as Gujjars and are herdsmen by occupation. These Gujjars are believed to be descendants of Rajputs of Rajasthan, who had converted to Islam and started dwelling atop hills and rearing cattle. Gujjars are essentially nomads, who move from one place to another in search of fresh grass for their cattle and to seek the market place where they earn good returns on selling their cattle. The Gujjar tribe of Jammu and Kashmir are legendary to have served as deft masters to the wild goats, when walking and meandering through the narrow hilly tracts. Most of the people of Kashmir are normally god fearing, warm hearted, hospitable and non aggressive and are mostly involved in the cottage industry. Visiting this part of world one is sure to be amazed to witness the unrivalled craftsmanship and the cultural genius of the native tribes of Kashmir. Locals of the Valley are identified as Kashmiris and have the designation of being the very dexterous businessmen.

As the verdant green forests cover the naked surface of mountains and wild flowers blossoming all around in magnificent colours spread the perfume of tranquillity, the costumes of the residing tribes adds one more character to these dash of colours. In Jammu, the Dogras have very simple dress that incorporates the long kurtas and pajamas with tight fittings at the ankles. Women wear tight bodice or jumpers over pajamas that resemble that of men folk. Turban and Kamarband are the added features of elderly males of the tribesmen of Jammu and Kashmir. In Srinagar, the Khan-dress or Pathani suit is the common dress amongst males and Pheran (a long tunic) and salwar with the traditional Kasaba, a headgear is the most admired dress amongst women. The pheran of females have zari embroidery on the hem line, around pockets and mostly on the collar area. The Pashmina shawl and skull cap made of fur (karakuli) are the symbols of royalty among men. In Ladakh, the tribesmen don the long woollen gowns with the border made up of sheep skin and tied at the waist by blur coloured girdles. During harsh winters, multi coloured caps with ear laps made of velvet are worn, whereas women wear the turquoise studded head gear referred to as Parek with the exquisite multicoloured clothes. The bangles, hair pins, brooches and other ornaments are made up of semi precious stones.

Besides the already described regular tribal life of Jammu and Kashmir, Kashmiri men hold to their possession, even more historical and ancestral kinds of tribesmen, who are believed to be of both Hindu and Islamic lineage. `Kashmiri kinship and descent` is one of the foremost perceptions of Kashmiri cultural anthropology. Hindu and Muslim Kashmiri tribesmen residing in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the world are very similar, which aids much to retrace Kashmiri kinship and descent. A sizeable section of the Kashmiri tribal community forms a `descent group social group`, whose members assert a common ancestral line-up. Both the Jammu and Kashmiri Hindus and Muslim tribal society imagine their descent from the patrilineal side. Specific property and titles may have been inherited through the male line, but certain inheritances may also have been amassed through the matrilineal line-up. After the advent of Islam into Kashmir – traditionally a Buddhist and Hindu region, has led to numerous Kashmiri Muslims asserting themselves as descendants of prehistoric Hindus. The predominance of common Kashmiri Pandit family names amongst contemporary Kashmiri Muslims, is very much suggestive of Hindu lineage.

Some of the common family names among the Jammu and Kashmiri Pandits, also including the tribes, incorporate: Handoo, Aga, Atal, Bandhu, Bhan, Bagati, Bhat/Butt/Bhatt, Budki (Burki), Chowdhury, Dhar (Dar), Dass (Das), Dassi, Dulloo, Ganju (Ganjoo), Kaw, Gurtu, Hak, Haksar, Hangal, Hangoo, Hoon, Jaju, Jalali, Kachru (Kachroo), Kak, Kar, Kappu, Katju, Kaul(Koul), Kaw, Kemmu, Khar, Kasid Kher, Khosa, Kitchlu (Kitchlew), Kunzru, Langoo, Malla, Mantoo, Mattoo, Mukoo,Muthoo, Misri, Natu, Nehru, Ogra, Pandit, Pandita, Parimoo, Qasba, Raina, Rayu, Razdan, Reu, Sadhu, Sapru, Shah, Shivpuri, Shrunglu, Shunglu, Tangnu, Thusoo, Tikoo,Wakhlu, Wanchoo/Wanchu, Wantoo/Wantu, Warikoo, Wattal, Wattoo, Zalpuri, Zaroo and Zutshi.

Many of these names, incidentally, are also shared by Kashmiri Muslims. Some of the Jamnu and Kashmiri Muslim tribes from Hindu Lineage would comprise:
Handoo     Bhatt     Dhar(Dar)     Kitchlew
Bagati     Butt     Dar (tribe)     Qasba
Bhan     Burki     Sapru

Besides these already stated extraordinary list of the tribes of Jammu and Kashmir, their life, their historical ancestry, their style of livelihood, or just the pattern of their handiwork, some tribals of J&K are still left out perhaps at times, due to not much of publicity, yet possessing an over-the-top concept. The still remaining tribes can be stated as the much distinguishing and exquisite Brokpa tribesmen from Jammu and Kashmir. This section can be identified with their beautiful clothes and savvy language, which are only some of the aspects that have ennobled the culture and ethnicity of Brokpa tribal community. Then Changpa tribe is yet another tribal community from Jammu and Kashmir, who have been enlisted legally as one of the Scheduled Tribes of India. They are however believed to have taken up to several occupations in the metropolitan India, moving a bit far away from their ancient cultural ethnicity.

(Last Updated on : 10/04/2012)