Friday, July 26, 2013

KASHMIR , DR. PERCY BROWN AND MURIEL TALBOT.



                                                                          











( KASHMIR PHOTOGRAPHS   by  Autar Mota )

Dr Percy Brown ( 1872-1955 ) And Muriel Talbot or Mrs Percy Brown( 1874-1943)

  
Dr Percy Brown  was a British scholar , Painter and Art Historian who  came to India and joined Royal Education Services under British Raj .  He was  born at Birmingham UK in 1872 and had Studied at local art school and Royal College of Art, ARCA..He did highly commendable  work as  Curator of Lahore Museum and principal of Well known Mayo College of Art  Lahore (1899-1909 ) . Later he joined as principal of *Government  College  of  Arts and Crafts  Calcutta . .He wrote some  monumental  books on Indian Art and  Architecture especially The Budhist Architecture. . Some of his books are:-
1        Indian Painting Under the Mughals A.D.. 1550 to A.D. 1750.
2        Indian Architecture (Buddhist and Hindu Period).
3        Indian Architecture: Islamic Period.
4        Primary Sources, Historical Collections: Picturesque Nepal.

                                                                     





 After his retirement  , Dr Percy Brown    settled in Kashmir and  After  the death of his wife Muriel or    Catherine in 1943 , he moved to  live in  a houseboat named Catherine  parked   near Jhelum Bund  close to  the then Srinagar Club . He died in 1955 and  lies buried inside Sheikh Bagh  Cemetery Amira  Kadal Srinagar  ( source  Book .. GRAVEYARDS IN KASHMIR by Eileen Hewson  ).

 In Kashmir , he remained in touch with  some  known  Artists and Painters who would visit him and seek his guidance .  Dr Percy Brown along with S H Raza together  acted like  Patrons and guides to  Artists from kashmir. One such landscape  painter ( Water Colours ) who would visit Dr Brown   was late D N Walli who  had himself  been a student of  *Government  College  of  Arts and Crafts  Calcutta. Dr T K walli son of late shri D N walli ( Artist ) informs ,

"Percy Brow spotted Dina Nath Walli in an art exhibition in Calcutta when he had the glimpses of his water colour landscapes of Kashmir. It was a love at first sight. Later, he became Walli's mentor and advised him to go back to the valley and continue with the difficult medium of transparent water colour landscapes. His association became a big moral booster for Walli, who later excelled in this medium of art and receiving world recognition also. Percy Brown inspired him to organize his first one-man show of his landscapes. The exhibition was held in 1950 at Neodow's Hotel Srinagar and was obviously inaugurated by Walli's mentor."
                                                                         
( Dr Percy Brown ( Left ) with late Shri D N walli Artist . For this rare photograph i remain indebted to Dr T K Walli son of  the Artist .)

Dr  Percy Brown  was a friend of Nehru and also held Gandhi ji in great  esteem. Quite often Dr Percy Brown would tell his visitors  that he  considered himself  an orientalist .Nehru called him  ‘Scholar Extraordinary ’.  

 Dr .Percy Brown was married to Muriel Talbot ( in 1909 ) also known as Catherine or Mrs Percy Brown.   Muriel was the daughter of  Col .Adelberl Cecil Talbot  resident of Kashmir from 1896 to 1900. Muriel’s  aristocrat  family is  connected with Earls of Shrewsbury and more distantly with the Dukes of Devonshire and the John Talbot in Henry VI Part I. .
Catherine or Muriel  was a poetess who had lived in Kashmir with her father  four more than four years .She wrote many poems on the life of kashmiris and beauty of Kashmir which she published in 1921 in a book Titled  CHENAR  LEAVES  from Cacutta after her marriage to Dr Percy Brown. The book was dedicated to her father col. Talbot .
                                                                        
                                
I add five   poems from this book ………..

 PANDITANIS ( Kashmir Pandit women )

With graceful step, erect and slow
Adown the stone-built, broken stair

The panditanis daily go
And on their heads held high they bear

Bright vessels, which they stooping fill
Beneath the bridge's wooden pier:

In pools of clouded amber still
Which gurgle deep and glowing here.



Their movements of unconscious grace
Glint in the Jhelum's flowing stream

Where rich hues shimmering interlace
And in the glancing ripples gleam,



Then with their slender rounded arms
They poise the shining lotus high,

Or bashful, with half feigned alarms
Draw close their veils with gesture shy.


(2)

PRETSI, THE BOATMAN'S DAUGHTER

Your eyes sweet Pretsi ! your soft, earnest eyes

And oval, girlish face will haunting float
Before me still — thus seated in your boat

With dusky hair, in braids Madonna-wise,
The amulet which on your bosom lies,

Those coral beads around your slender throat
With paddle poised : a most enchanting note

For artist's canvas, which he well might
prize.

The picture's in my heart! but Pretsi 's shy
And with a timid grace and bashful sigh

Bends to her task, the boat is passing, yet
She turns and glances back and throws me
there

A lotus bud she'd fastened in her hair
And smiles ; Ah Pretsi ! would I could forget.

(3)
LOTUS FLOWERS ON THE DAL LAKE

Kashmir's soul-flower! thou most sacred
bloom
What wondrous treasure lies within thy
heart?
Deep hidden down amidst that rosy gloom
Thy petals as its guardians do their part.
Om mani padmi hum*
Ah! how can I describe thy beauty rare
To those who have not seen thy gracious
form?
Serene, majestic, yet pulsating there
With love thy full blown petals roseate warm.
Om mani padmi hum.
It desecration seems to pry or gaze
With curious eye upon that calyx gold,
Which tremulous yet glowing doth amaze
Us by the jewelled beauty we behold :
Om mani padmi hum.


♦A Buddhist mantra meaning — "The Jewel of the Flower
of the Lotus."

(4)
THE SHALIMAR BAGH

(A Mughal Garden on the Dal Lake)
Shalimar! Shalimar!

A rythmic sound in thy name rings
A dreamy cadence from afar

Within those syllables which sings

To us of love and joyous days
Of Lalla Rukh! of pleasure feast!
Of fountains clear whose glitt'ring sprays
Drawn from the snows have never ceased

To cast their spell on all who gaze

Upon this handiwork of love
Eeared in Jehangir's proudest days

Homage for Nur Mahal to prove.

For his fair Queen he built these courts
With porphyry pillars smooth and black

Whose grandeur still expresses thoughts
For her that should no beauty lack.

The roses show 'ring o'er these walls
Still fondly whisper love lurks here

And still he beckoning to us calls
By yon Dai's shores in fair Kashmir.
 (5)
A KASHMIR SHAWL

Bich web of woven dreams ! A Kashmir shawl,
Its warp and woof of silky, pliant hair
From choice pashmina goats, beyond the wall
Of far Himalaya brought, with toil and care,
Then dyed in all the subtlest hues which art
For eastern looms could cunningly devise.
And spun in threads so fine, the great world's mart
Of patient skill can show no fairer prize.
The pattern forms methinks a mystic shape
In Jhelum 's windings, or in ' ' tree of life ' ' :
Such blended colours artists' palettes ape
Closer than weaver's shuttle plying strife.

The art is lost! The spirit of this age
In love's laborious crafts will not engage. 

Both Dr Percy Brown and his wife Muriel had enormous love and fascination for kashmir . Infact both were sincere well wishers of kashmiris . But does anybody remember  them in kashmir ? I have my doubts .
I conclude this post with some lines from a Gazal of  Urdu poet Ali Sardar Jafri...

Me Jahaan Tum Ko Bulaataa Huun Vahaan Tak Aao
Meri Nazaron Se Guzar Kar Dil-O-Jaan Tak Aao
Phir Ye Dekho Ki Zamaane Ki Havaa Hai Kaisee
Saath Mere Mere Firdaus-E-Javaan Tak Aao
Phuul Ke Gird Phiro Baag Mein Maanind-e-Naseem
Misl-e-Paravaanaa Kisi Sham-E-Tapaan Tak Aao
Lo Vo Sadiyon Ke Jahannum Ki Hadein Khatm Huyee
Ab Hai Firdaus Hi Firdaus Jahaan Tak Aao
Chhod Kar Vaham-O-Gumaan Husn-E-Yahqeen Tak Pahuncho
Par Yaqeen Se Bhi Kabhi Vaham-O-Gumaan Tak Aao

 ( Autar Mota ) )


PS
* Rabindranath Tagore stayed here for months and made approx 130 paintings, which were exhibited in the college gallery in 1932. Gurudev ’s brother  Abanindranath Tagore was the Vice-Principal of the college, who  worked towards developing an Indian style of Art, which gave birth to the Bengal school of art,. Notable alumni of this institute include Nandalal Bose, Jamini Roy, Sashi Kumar Hesh,Atul Bose, Debi Prasad Roychoudhuri, Gopal Ghosh, Mukul Dey, Chintamoni Kar, Satyen Ghoshal, Somnath Hore, Rajen Tarafdar, Jainul Abedin, Rananayan Dutta, Hemen Majumdar, Haren Das, Shanu Lahiri, [3] Ganesh Pyne, Ganesh Haloi, Sunil Das, Badhan Das, Samir Mondal, Jogen Chowdhury, Sudip Roy, Pulak Biswas, Niranjan Pradhan & Mrinal Kanti Ray and  Suddhasattwa Basu.  Kashmir’s Noted landscape  Painter   D N Walli has  also been a student  of this college .





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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

SHASTRI JI , GENERAL AYUB KHAN , TASHKENT PEACE TREATY AND ALI SARDAR JAFRI'S POEM


                                                                       

 (    10th January ,1966......Indian  Prime Minister  Lal Bahadur Shastri  and Pakistan's president  General Ayub Khan after signing of the historic Tashkent  Peace Treaty in Russia .Shastri ji died in Tashkent, the day after signing the Tashkent Declaration, reportedly due to a heart attack..A Monument and a street is namedafter him in the city of Tashkent, Uzbekistan.)
                                                                              
                                                                           


I quote noted Journalist  Kuldeep Nayyar " Gen. Ayub was genuinely grieved by Shastri ’jis death. He came to Shastri  ji’ss room at 4 am and said, looking towards me: “Here is a man of peace who gave his life for amity between India and Pakistan.” Later, Ayub told the Pakistani journalists that Shastri was one person with whom he had hit it off well; “Pakistan and India might have solved their differences had he lived,”

In his first broadcast as Prime Minister, on 11 June 1964, Shastri said..

"There comes a time in the life of every nation when it stands at the cross-roads of history and must choose which way to go. But for us there need be no difficulty or hesitation, no looking to right or left. Our way is straight and clear—the building up of a socialist democracy at home with freedom and prosperity for all, and the maintenance of world peace and friendship with all nations."

Urdu poet Ali sardar jafri was so much impressed with this peace initiative in the subcontinent that he wrote a poem Tashkent  ki shaam.. I add some lines to these  photographs..

Manaao Jashn e Mohabbat ke Khoon Ki Boo Na rahi
Baras ke khul Gaye Barood Ke siyaah Badal,
Bujhi Bujhi Si Hai Jangon Ki Aakhiri Bijlee
Mehak rahi Hai Gulaabon Se Tasskent ki shaam..

Yeh Surkh Jaam Hai Khubaan e Tash-kand ke naam
Yeh Sabz jam hai Lahore ke Haseenon kaa
Safed Jaam Hai Delhi Ke Dilbaron ke Liye
Dhulaa hai jis mein mohabbat ke Aaftaab ka Rang..

Kissi ki Zulf na Ab Shaam e Gham mein Bikharegi
Jawaan Khauf Ki vaadi se Ab na Guzareingay
Bhari na jaayegi ab khaak o khoon se Maang kabhi
Milegi maan ko na marg e pissar ki khush khabari

Khilengay phool Bahut sarhad e tamanaa par
Khabar na hogi yeh nargis hai kis ke aankhon ki
Yeh Gul Hai kis-ki jabeen kis ka lub hai yeh laala
Yeh shaakh kis ke jawaan baazuvon ki Angadaai

Khudaa karay ki yeh shabanam yuun hi baras-tee Rahay

Zameen hamesha lahoo ke liye taras-tee Rahay ….

And now some thing more on Shastri ji 's Character ..

                                                                        

(Lal bahadur Shastri clearing some important files as Prime Minister while lalita ji ( His wife) is sitting nearby and reading a book)

“Dekho lalita .. Yeh Munshi Prem Chand ka Sahitya hai Aur yeh Kabir ke Dohay hain . Jo Pustak tumhay Pasand Aa Jaaye Pad Lo . Jahaan kahin bhi kuchh poochhanaa chaaho mein huun naa ”

“ Look Lalita . This is Munshi Prem Chand ‘s literature and this is kabir ‘s poetry. You can read them . Should you feel any difficulty , I am here to come to your help.”

Shatri Ji was a very  simple man. He would clear important files even at his residence and quite often in the company of his wife lalita ji. He bought her Books of Prem Chand and poetry of kabir and introduced lalita ji to the world of literature.

Kuldip Nayar, Shastriji's media advisor recalls that, during the Quit India Movement, his daughter was ill and he was released on parole from jail. However, he could not save her life because doctors had prescribed costly drugs. Later on in 1963, on the day when he was dropped from the cabinet, he was sitting in his home in the dark, without a light. When asked about the reason, he said as he no longer is a minister, all expenses will have to be paid by himself and that as a MP and minister he didn't earn enough to save for time of need.

Although Shastri had been a cabinet minister for many years in the 1950s, he was poor when he died. All he owned at the end was an old car, which he had bought in instalments from the government and for which he still owed money. He was a member of Servants of India society (which included Gandhiji, Lala Lajpat Rai, Gopal Krishna Gokhle) which asked all its members to shun accumulation of private property and remain in public life as servants of people. He was the first railway minister who resigned from office following a major train accident as he felt moral responsibility.

CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

BANSI PARIMU , A SUPER TALENTED ARTIST FROM KASHMIR.... A SMALL TRIBUTE

                                                               
               
                                                                          
A MORNING SCENE AT KATHI DARWAAZA SRINAGAR
By ..BANSI PARIMU ( 1938-1991)..

Bansi Parimu ( 1938-1991 ) is One Artist from Kashmir, who remains under exposed inspite of his Profound creativity that not only matches with some eminent Artists of his time at National scene but also surpasses many of them.
                                                                         

   (Bansi Parimu with artist Sachida Nagdev  in 1970.  Photo source ... Jheeelaf Razdan)

About him ,Krishna Chaitanaya writes in his Monumental book “A HISTORY OF INDIAN PAINTING – MODERN PERIOD ( page 247-248 )”

“ Late Bansi Parimu created more complex forms . Linear forms that straddle the frame , creating balancing directional thrusts. The areas of uniform colour have been given soft , pearly finish and isolated imu with Shri. Sachida Nagdev ( well known artist) in 1970.by contouring which often suggest the relief of cloisonné enamel but without the use of ridges of Impasto . In other areas , mottled effects and textures have been obtained in various ways : light rollering over the ground colour with a different one , using the back of the brush for calligraphic arabesques , using the gauze overlays .”

About his work late M F Hussain wrote :

“ A dedicated painter from kashmir whom I came to know from my early Sixty visits . We became friends His work gained stature That could reflect beauty and turmoil of kashmiri People .The colour , the sound of its landscape creates an Orchestra of nature’s bounty .Parimu’s paintings keep singing the song of Creation that is kashmir on our planet.”

Let me speak a little about his later works . I have not seen much of his earlier work .

For sure , Bansi Parimu developed his personal Style on Figurative Abstraction . His colours are often Bright warm. His Geometrical forms floating in or held by his colours. I have observed that some of his Abstracts are at par with  work of  reputed Artists of  period  on National   scene  in terms of Colours and Styles that assimilate elements of cubism .

Parimu has an enormous sense of design while creating his forms and effects. For a serious lover of Art , he creates Something like energy fields .

And His work has also moved through stages of evolution and came a long way from Realistic water colours to impressionism and then figurative Abstracts and finally pure Abstracts .He uses a wide range of colour hues, including green, Blue, Red, Ochre in his compositions. This work demands a closer investigation and Multiple viewing ( Proximal and Distal ) to appreciate it in totality .

His work received wide appreciation in The festival of Art held in 2003 at Jasubhai Art Gallery, Shanmukhananda Hall Mumbai . Works of Artists like K H Ara, F N Souza, K K Hebbar and Rabindranath Tagore were also on display in this Exhibition .

 Exhibited in Many Galleries  his paintings are  also in  various Private hands .Some paintings  adorn the walls of Gallery Chankya and Lalit Kala Academy.

A self taught man, His work attracted the attention of some leading artists of his time . And I am sure he would have been one among them had he shifted to work in a bigger city like Mumbai.


Quite often I would pass through his Artistically built house known as “ TAKHLEEQ” at Sanat Nagar Barzulla. He loved flowers that he had cultivated in his lawn. This house had a huge single piece Glass window . He probably looked at clouds and changing seasons from this window only. He loved his friends that were so many. Shamim Ahmed shamim was possibly closer . He loved kashmir more than anything else . He loved its Flora , Fauna , Culture and People . He loved its valleys , seasons , culture , tradition and its heritage . When it was decided by the government to construct a Bridge near Convent crossing over river Jhelum , Bansi Parimu led the civil society in opposing the construction. He was an environmentalist as well.

I quote from Greater Kashmir News paper of 31.05.2012:

“Observers said in 1984 the then government led by Ghulam Muhammad Shah had conceived the idea to construct a bridge across Jhelum at Polo view. But as the construction would spoil –The Bund –the heritage walkway on the river banks, the move was resisted tooth-and-nail by the then civil society, particularly art lovers. Bansi Parimu had threatened to go for self immolation should the government go ahead with the plan. Parimu is believed to have started a campaign that the concrete bridge would destroy the charm of this only green walkway left in the City.”



He never wanted to leave his TAKHLEEQ or his Native Land even when Armed Militancy had knocked off everything by spreading its unending Blanket of Fear , Death and Destruction . In May 1990, painfully and Very reluctantly he had to leave the place that he loved so dearly.


Leaving Kashmir was not easy for him. It meant leaving a culture . It meant leaving its hills , flowers , Brooks , Snows, Seasons and Birds. No man is born twice . No man can live on memories. And no flowering and Fragrant plant grows in heat and dust of Alien lands should it be uprooted. “COBWEBS OF APATHY” or “SMEARED SNOWS “ OR “RED KNOWS NO CREED “are creations of this deep rooted feeling of homelessness and bloodshed in his native land .

 Shri Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo adds  :


"Bansi Parimoo will be remembered as an accomplished ARTIST who played with colours, imagination and vision. Uprootment from valley   and  pangs of Exile had given deep bruises to his psyche .He was the one who was with us in the opening Public programme of Panun Kashmir on 24 Jan 1991 at Gandhi Bhawan, Jammu. He opened with the words...."Hello Sufferers". 




Shri Ram Krishen Sadhu a family friend informs :


 “Bansi Parimu occupied a prominent position amongst the great Artists of our time . This is certainly a well recognised fact. But for those of us , who knew him closely, he was a Great  human being as well. Well read and highly knowledgeable,  It was a treat to engage in a  discussion with him on  variety of subjects, be it literature, current economic and political issues  etc.. He had his  strong views about some matters and was a true embodiment of genuine Kashmiriyat. Migration out of valley was something which he could not reconcile with. I had frequent sessions with him in Delhi those days till he went to Kud to avoid harsh summers. After his return ,we just had one meeting and next I saw him in AIIMS New Delhi  when  his daughter Jeelaf called me. In his shocking and premature exit, we  lost immensely talented Artist and a warm Human being.  I shall  always miss him .”


Mohd Sayeed malik  another family friend adds :


  “ Our close acquaintance with Bansi Parimu and  his family is over half a century old. Bansi's promising talent was cut short by his tragic premature death. Earlier his ailment prevented him from pursuing his artistic passion. Considering his potential, Bansi could have scaled far greater heights in his field, if his life were not cut short at its prime.”


With an unhealed wound of exile , he fell victim to many secondary health problems that cut short his creative life.

His life and work can be summed up by a couplet of Poet Faiz....

“Jo rukay to koh-e-garan thay hum,
jo chalay to jaan se guzar gaye
Rah-e-yaar hum ne qadam qadam,
tujhay yadgaar Banaa dia........"
( Faiz Ahmed Faiz )

{For when we stayed, we rose like massifs,
and when we strayed, we left life far behind;
fellow-traveller, every step that we ever took
became a memorial to your life.)
                               
                                                                     
                                  (   "The Grief within".. wailing women   By Bansi Parimu 1991)                                                                          


                                                ( Untitled Oil On canvas 1964  Bansi Parimu )
                                                                                 

                                             ( Oil On Canvas  Bansi Parimu )
  

                                                                                     

                                                                                         

      
                                            ( oil on Canvas  1972 Bansi Parimu )
                                                      ( Oil on Canvas 1964 Bansi Parmu  )

                                                                                    

                                                    ( Oil on Canvas 1983 ..Bansi Parimu  )
                                                                              

                                                               ( Bansi Parimu , Sufi Ghulam Mohd ( Editor Srinagar Times), Ved Bhasin( Editor Kashmiri Times ), Shamim Ahmed Shamin( MLA , Editor Aaina and then MP ) and a Gentleman .. 1965 ,All India Tour )
                                                                             
                                            (Bansi Parimu and Shamim Ahmed Shamin ) 


 (Eminent artist M F Hussain wrote on 01.01.2001 as his tribute to the Artist.My special Thanks to Mrs Jaya Parimu for allowing me to use this letter  )
                                                                             
     ( Bansi Parimu with Nehru ...Photo source Jheelaf Razdan )
 

 ( Bansi Parimu with satish Gujral ...Photo source Jheelaf Razdan )
                                                                              
                                                                                  
                                           ( Cobwebs of Apathy 1991  Bansi Parimu )

                                           ( Bansi Parimu  Exhibiting his work In Delhi December 1990 )
                                    
( Yellow  Rice Distribution in Kashmir..
 An early work of Bansi Parimu)
                             
(A painting of Bansi Parimu along with photo and signature of the buyer in Calcutta Exhibition 1966)

                                                
 
(A post 1990 Painting of Bansi Parimu titled 'Flying Kangri' hanging in the room of his Daughter Jheelaf Razdan )


(Autar Mota)

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

WHAT HAPPENED TO MUZAFFAR ALI'S DREAM PROJECT 'ZOONI'


                                                                                 

                                                         ( Film Maker Muzaffar Ali . )


SHALL  ZOONI BE REIVED BY FILM MAKER MUZAFFAR ALI ?

It was a dream Project conceived by Muzaffar Ali   and supported by Dr Farooq Abdullah the then chief minister of J&K  state .A project based on the life and love of Zooni or Habba Khatoon,  kashmir’s first  Vatsun /Lyric poetess  who attracted the attention of the then Chak ruler of Kashmir Namely Yusuf Shah Chak.
.
 Muzaffar Ali signed top notch artists for this project and the  shooting was actually started in 1989 . Dimple Kapadia and Vinod Khanna were signed  to play lead roles . Mary Mcfadden , the noted dress designer from Hollywood was engaged for designing the dresses . Music director Khayyam ably assisted by Mohan lal Aima were to score the music . Shaharyaar was brought to write lyrics . Some reels were shot at various locations in Kashmir but the onset of armed  Militancy made Muzaffar Ali to pack up from kashmir . Other factors also changed . Dr Farooq Abdullah’s Government was no more to come to his rescue   . Zooni was shelved and forgotten . Heartbroken,  Muzaffar Ali left Kashmir in a  hurry abandoning the project altogether .

Muzaffar Ali is still hopeful of restarting the project after 24 years . Can he do it ? The artists associated with the project  have grown old and the present cost of the project may not enthuse his confidence .Further he has yet to settle the mounting liabilities that are still outstanding against him in some Banks  on account of  the venture aborted in 1989.Present Government  is neither sympathetic to the Man nor to his  project.

AND WHO WAS ZOONI OR HABBA KHATOON  ???????

There is no authentic ,dependable and reliable information available anywhere on the life of Habba Khatoon ( Reliably 1553-1605 AD ). Whatsoever has come to us is based on legends or interpreted from her poetic work. This is also a fact that that her name was first mentioned by Abdul Wahab shayak. Later in 19th centaury Pandit Birbal Kachroo and Mohd Din Fauq presented some details about her life but how they arrived at these details after more than 300 years is not known. No serious research has been done on her background and life till date .According to Kachroo and Fauq , her name was Zooni ( Moon ) and later she came to be known as Habba Khatoon when she came in close  contact of king  Yusuf shah Chak of Kashmir . Chaks belonged to shia faith and were Dards. Dards are various groups of mountain tribesmen who inhabit a region between Badakhshan, Northern Pakistan and Kashmir (  in J&K dards live in and around Gurez and kargil areas ). Their language is Shina . Historically, Gurez was part of ancient Dardistan, stretching from Sharada Peeth in the west, Minimarg in the north, Drass in  east, and Baghtor in the south.

Fauq is also of the opinion that Habba Khatoon  was in touch with some Sufi saints of her time and according to him a Sufi saint Khwaja Masood named her as Habba Khatoon. This appears to be somewhat reliable in case below mentioned lines attributed to her by people were actually composed by her

Maalienn Myaani Arbaab Aasee
Tawaai Draam Habba Khaatoon Naav.

Whatever be the fact,  some write ups present her as a young maid from Chandrahaar village near Pampore who is fond of music and singing and who is fed up with a sad life that her husband Aziz lone(an illiterate peasant ) and his parents force her to lead. The legend presents them as cruel in laws . This is a period when she wrote her songs of pain and despair ( Vaarivein saaet Vaar Chhum No Tchaar karoo Myon Maalienya ho ). The second stage of her life is her contact with Yusuf shah Chak and she composed and sang happy love songs , songs of flowers ( Ba Chhuss karaan Kosamun Kraav ) and her ever popular song “ Me Haa karrie  Tchei  kyiet  poshe daswanaai, Chhaav Myaan Danai posh “meaning “I  have done up myself with flowers for you, relish the beauty of the flowers oh my love" .This is followed by her separation from Yusuf Shah Chak when she shifted to songs of yearning and desire to meet her love once again. This is the period when she composed song of separation from her love ( Valo Myaani Poshe Madano or Shoga laagithh  Bool-namaai Rogi Rogi Goam Gummaai ) .
The arrival of Mughals to Kashmir ( 1582 AD ) brought the fall of the Chak rule and Yusuf Shah was exiled to Bihar where he finally breathed his last. Was she married to Yusuf Shah Chak ? .I have my doubts about her marriage to Yusuf Shah Chak after her reported divorce from Aziz lone . No authentic or reliable information is available anywhere . Birbal Kachroo is also silent on this aspect .Some later writers inform us that she was a lawfully wedded wife of the Chak ruler but their source is the legend alone . But for sure the Chak ruler was attracted and enamored by her beauty and singing. It is also a fact that she was in close touch with the ruler . She was also in love with the Chak ruler . . As far as I have read and understood , Habba Khatoon was a master of RAST- KASHMIR ( Sufiana Music ). I believe that Yusuf shah chak was impressed with her talent as a singer and  her fame must have already spread far and wide before the Chak ruler came in her contact. .It also appears that Habba Khatoon had a profound knowledge of *Maqam i Iraqi or Maqam i Iraq as some  of her songs or Vatsun is cast in this Maqam only.
Two women heralded the age of Lyricism in Kashmiri poetry. We can call it as Vatsun era .Habba khatoon being the leader followed by Arinmal.I quote a sample which exhibits marked departure from the poetry prior to Habba Khatoon....Thhovanumm Rumma rummaai Chhu Me Baalie Tamanaa( Smitten with love in every part of my body, I am consumed by a passionate longing ).Prior to Habba Khatoon we had the poetic wealth of great Mystics like Shiti Kanth ( from Pampore and author of Mahamanya Prakash , the first Book on kashmiri poetry ) Laleshwari or Lal Ded or lala Arifa or Lal Mouj and Sheikh Ul Aalam or Nund Reosh . All these three great souls heralded the age of Great Mysticism in kashmiri poetry .we also had an age of sufism and Bhakti in kashmiri poetry followed by Modernism.   I believe that is how we can look at kashmiri poetry's segmentation also during its developmental journey.

Her Vastun style was followed by many prominent and lesser known poets who wrote after her .I would like to quote that Arnimal ( Arni Rang Goam Shraavan hiye Kar Iye Darshun Diye or Me Kar Tuss Kitch Poshan Maala Ta ) and even Mehjoor( tsolhamaa Roshi Roshe Vwalo Myaane poshe Madano ) straightway adopted her style in some popular Lyrics . Mehmood Gaami and Rasul Mir raised Vatsun style to newer heights .

It is believed that Habba Khatoon spent the last years of her life somewhere near Athawaajan village on the outskirts of Srinagar city where she is believed to have been buried .
Have we been unfair to her ? Unfair to the extent of not having done some serious and authentic research on her life and presented her as the Nightingale of Vastun style of kashmiri poetry.



PS

*Maqam e Iraqi or Maqam Al Iraqi is a genre of Arab music considered most perfect . The instruments for this ensemble are santoor, Dhunbak ( Tabla ) and Riqq ( Tambourine ) apart from the singer. Interaction between the Hindustani Raga-Ragini and 12-Maqam systems (of Iran or Arab world) in India has produced very fruitful result and achieved a distinctive synthesis in the Sufiyana music in Kashmir. Rast is considered as basic musical mode or Maqam in the Iranian or Arabic music. When it traveled to Kashmir , it came to be known as Rast Kashmir with some variations in the scale..

( Autar Mota  )

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