History & Culture
13th Feb, 2020
Recently, Finance Minister NirmalaSitharaman recited a Kashmiri poem during her Budget speech. There were few other poets who came alive in Budget 2020.
- Finance Minister recited a Kashmiri verse during her Budget 2020 presentation in the Parliament.
- This first citation was of apoem ‘MyonVatan’ (My Motherland) by DeenanathKaulNadim. The short verse paraphrases to talk about the nation "blooming like a lotus in Dal Lake".
- The three major themes of Budget 2020 are aspirational India, a caring society and economic development for all.
- In reference to asking farmers to adopt organic fertilizers, Tamil poet Aauvaiyar’s advice, “aaathichoodi" was quoted.
- It translated means one must first till one’s land and then eat.
- Quote on good governance included Tamil poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar’s‘five jewels’ required for a good country: freedom from illness, wealth generation, farm productivity, happiness, and good defences.
- Kalidasa’sRaghuvamsa was also quoted. Just as Surya collects vapour from little drops of water, so must a government collects taxes—lightly.
- DeenanathKaulNadim was born in March1916 in Srinagar.
- Influenced by:He was influenced by the works of 14th century mystic poet of Kashmir, LalDed, or Lalla.
- He was at the centre of Kashmir’s progressive movement between 1930s and 1950s.
- Nadim won the SahityaAkademi award in 1987, a year before his death on April 8, 1988.
- Nadim has written poems in Urdu, Hindi, English and Kashmiri.
- Interestingly, Kaul was a leftist, a Communist Party leader and also an admirer of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
- He was closely associated with the National Conference party founded by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.
Origin of cultural movement in Kashmir
- The Renaissance of Kashmiri literature, as of several other Indian literatures, is closely linked with post-independence literary activities.
- The political events in Kashmir, especially the 1947 attack by Pakistan, resulted in mobilization of Kashmiri writers and other artists in defence of their valley.
- The first onslaught came around October 22, 1947. In response, the Cultural Front was hastily organized. For the first time artists were assigned a role in a period of turmoil and aggression.
- The Cultural Front had three units;for writers, actors and painters.
- These units played an impressive and unprecedented role in keeping up public morale by taking the message of secularism, communal harmony and patriotism to the people in their own language in both rural and urban areas.
- Radio Kashmir:The establishment of Radio Kashmir on July 31, 1948, provided a daily forum and great opportunity foruse and development of Kashmiri language.
- Radio Kashmir used Kashmiri - until then generally called a "vernacular" - in a variety of new contexts.
- New literary forms:The implication of the new roles for the language was that creative writers seriously attempted those literary forms which had been neglected earlier, for example drama, short stories and discursive prose.
- Until this time the main literary form was poetry and the dominant themes were nationalism (defined rather narrowly), Kashmiri identity, and religious harmony.
- In 1958, the Jammu and Kashmir Academy for Art, Culture and Languages was founded; it provided further encouragement.
- Dina NathNadim: It was during this unexpected political turmoil in the otherwise calm valley that Dina NathNadim came into the limelight. He has remained in the forefront of the Kashmiri literary scene ever since.
- Nadim's mother had a significant influence on his growth as a poet, especially after his father Pandit Shankar Kaul died when Nadim was only eight years old.
- Nadim's widowed mother would sing the Vaks of Lalla and would recite Lilas of other poets.
- Her repertoire of Kashmiri poems was large since she originally came from a village Muran where the oral tradition of poetry was part of the culture.
- Nadim was educated in local schools with intermittent breaks.
- He matriculated in 1930, received his B.A. in 1943, and earned a Bachelor of Education degree in 1947.
- During his time, there is no published collection of Nadim's work; he was somewhat indifferent about assembling one.
- SHIHIL KUL - a collection of Nadim's poems has been published since, for which the poet was honoured with SahityaAkaddemy Award.
- Most of his poems were either presented in poetic symposia (musha'ira or kavisammelan) or published in local journals.
- The total number of his poems is around one hundred and fifty including those in English, Hindi, and Urdu.
- Like his predecessors and some contemporaries, his decision to write in Kashmiri was a late
- Nadim's poetic career did not really start until late 1930's; before that he had composed some poems in English.
- Influences:Between 1938 and 1946, he wrote mainly in Urdu - and some poems in Hindi - under the influences of the Kashmiri Pandit poet BrijNarainChakbast, Josh Malihabadi and Ehsan bin-Danish.
- This was essentially a period of apprenticeship under the ideological influences of Hinduism, Sufis and Khayyam.
- Nadim was trying to discover himself and his linguistic medium. He finally selected Kashmiri for, as he has said, "my mother tongue has greater claim on me."
Concentration on works in Kashmiri
- Nadimhad written his first Kashmiri poem in 1942 on "MajKasir" ("Mother Kashmir"), an appropriate topic for a time when Kashmir was passing through a critical phase with the mass movement slogan "Quit Kashmir" challenging the establishedDogra dynasty.
- A handful of Kashmiri writers were expressing political sentiments ornately embroidered with gul-o-bulbul imagery, but Nadim did not become fully part of the movement until 1946.
- Political works:It was then in a musha'ira (poetic symposium) organized by a fellow poet, Arif, that Nadim read the poem Sonth ("The Spring").
- Then followed AravaliPrarakhna and Grav ("A Complaint"): poems of patriotism, revolution and freedom. Here he is asking the kinds of questions which members of the progressive writer’s movement were already asking in other parts of India.
- Consider, for example:
- Why should the share of a labourer bestolen by a capitalist?
- Why should a honey-bee circle theflowers and take away their honey?
- This theme was not new for Indian poetry but it was new for Kashmiri.
National Cultural Front
- The next phase came suddenly and unexpectedly in 1947 and 1948, when Maharaja HariSingh left the state destitute at the time of Pakistan’s instigated invasion on Kashmir.
- National Cultural Front:This attack mobilized the Kashmiris; writers and artists organized themselves under what was called the National Cultural Front.
- These themes demanded new poetic forms and an extension of the earlier stylistic range of Kashmiri.
- Poetry as a call to Kashmiri youth:Borders of the state had turned into battle fields; poets turned to patriotism, and poetry was used as an awakening call to Kashmir's youth. Here Nadim was again in the forefront.
- Even the titles of some of his poems are suggestive of turmoil of the period, for example, Tsi Mir-i Karavan ban ("You Become the Leader of the Caravan"), NarayInqalab ("The Call for Revolution"), Me Chu H'ondtiMisalmanbeyiInsanBanavun ("I have to turn Hindus and Muslims into human beings again"), ServaniSundKhab ("The Dream of Sherwani"), and Pritshun Chum ("I Must Ask").
- Like many of his contemporaries, Nadim also joined the Communist Party. His elder contemporary Mahjur had already become a "fellow traveller.''
Nadim's political activism
- Nadim's political activism continued during this period. He was active in defence of world peace, and was elected the General Secretary of the State Peace Council (1950).
- He participated in the Indian Peace Conferences of 1951 and 1952. His pacifism is based on his "hope of tomorrow,'' which he expresses in Me Cham Ash Paghic.
- Political poems with personalised themes: While these are "political" poems with a socialist background, the themes have been personalized. The result is that, even as "political pieces,'' they do not sound like slogan mongering.
Process of Kashmirization
- Blank verse: In 1950 Nadim provided a contrast with the traditional Kashmiri poetic forms by introducing blank verse in Bi G'aviniAz ("I Will Not Sing Today").
- This new poetic form caught the imagination of Kashmiris - literate and illiterate.
- Other poets, considering it emancipation from rigid formal poetic constraints, soon followed this style.
- RahamanRahi'sG'avun Chum ("I Have to Sing") clearly shows Nadim's influence.
- This effect is created neither by Persianization nor by Sanskritization; rather, this firmly establish the process of Kashmirization.
Important contributions and experimentations
- Trivanzah ("Fifty-three"): Another stylistic innovation, in the form of the dramatic monologue, came in Trivanzah ("Fifty-three").These innovations excited the younger writers.
- First opera in Kashmiri: In 1953 Nadim's experimentation took a different from; he wrote the first opera in Kashmiri, BomburtiYambirzal ("The Bumblebee and the Narcissus").The theme depicted the ultimate triumph of good over evil.
- Reviving the Vak form:In the 1960s, after trying new forms such as free verse, the sonnet, etc., Nadim came back to native folk tradition, and the well-established Vak form which had reached its culmination in Lalla.
- Fireflies:Nadimexperimented with poetic compositions which he terms zit'nl ("fireflies"). In this new form he followed the Japanese haiku style, comprising seventeen syllables in three lines with 5, 7 and 5 syllables each.
- Pointillism or neo- impressionism: In Zalir'Zal ("The Cobwebs") Nadim introduces pointillism or neo- impressionism.
DeenanathKaulNadimwas an epoch-maker and trend-setter in Kashmiri poetry and prose. Not many of Nadim's contemporaries could think of the literary innovation that he did, which explains whyhis contemporary Lone says, they "were not only influenced by Nadim, but also inspired to write in his vein. Some of them went to the extent of copying his style while some adopted his themes in their poems."