Kalpana Kalpana (Editor)

Kashmiri literature

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Kashmiri language is one of the oldest languages of the world, having emerged from 5th to 6th century from ancient linguistic group of Dardi. Soon Dardi was taken over by Sanskrit and Kashmiri language was influenced not only by Sanskrit but a number of other languages like Chinese, Tibetan, Russian, Persian, Arabic , Punjabi and English through different periods. These languages as thoroughly analyzed by Pandit Ram Chand Koul helped in building up Kashmiri language and in support of his analysis a wider list of words stands published in a popular news paper of the valley,”Hamdard” on 31 July 1938. Estimated by one European linguist G. T. Venn, this language carries 50% words from Sanskrit,33% Tibetan or Dardi, 10% Persian, 5% Hindi and 2% Dogri.


This enriched language locally referred as “Koshur” could not have its own permanent script till late 20th century. Koshur was either written in Sharda script or in Devnagri. Koshur remained predominantly a spoken language among the masses and that made a serious setback in its development. Though a voluntary organization of young writers of the valley took up a mission to popularize Kashmiri script among the masses but it could have no fruitful results. In 1980 government finally included the language in academics and Kashmiri Department was established in Kashmir University but these efforts seem to be too late. At present, Kashmiri language is predominantly spoken by older people in rural areas while young generation in the valley does not feel comfortable in communicating in Kashmiri language. Besides, the last decade of 20th century brought about certain socio- cultural changes in the valley which shook very roots of this language culture and Mr. Braj B. Kachru, Professor of linguistics, University of Illinois, Urbana, USA has included this language among dying heritages of the world.

Kashmiri language literature

The use of the Kashmiri language began with the work Mahanayakaprakash (Light of the supreme lord) by Shitikantha (c.1250), and was followed by the poet Lalleshvari or Lal Ded (14th century), who wrote mystical verses in the vakh or four-line couplet style. Another mystic of her time equally revered in Kashmir and popularly known as Nunda Reshi wrote powerful poetry like his senior Lal Ded. Later came Habba Khatun (16th century) with her own style. Other major names are Rupa Bhavani (1621–1721), Arnimal (d. 1800), Mahmud Gami (1765–1855), Rasul Mir (d. 1870), Paramananda (1791–1864), Maqbool Shah Kralawari (1820–1876). Also, the Sufi poets like Shamas Fakir, Wahab Khar, Soch Kral, Samad Mir, and Ahad Zargar. Among modern poets are Ghulam Ahmad Mahjur (1885–1952), Abdul Ahad Azad (1903–1948), and Zinda Kaul (1884–1965).

During the 1950s, a number of well educated youth turned to Kashmiri writing, both poetry and prose, and enriched modern Kashmiri writing by leaps and bounds. Among these writers are Dinanath Nadim (1916–1988), Rahman Rahi, Ghulam Nabi Firaq Amin Kamil (1923-2014), Ali Mohd Lone,Autar Krishen Rahbar ( 1933- ), Akhtar Mohiuddin, {Sajood Sailani(1933- )Poet/Playwright}, Som Nath Zutshi, Muzaffar Aazim, and Sarvanand Kaul 'Premi'. Some later day writers are Hari Krishan Kaul, Majrooh Rashid, Rattanlal Shant, Hirdhey Kaul Bharti, Omkar N Koul, Roop Krishen Bhat, Rafiq Raaz, Tariq Shehraz, Shafi Shauq,Showkat Shehri , M H Zaffar, Shenaz Rashid,Shabir Ahmad Shabir, Shabir Magami , Moti Lal Kemmu (playwright).

Contemporary Kashmiri literature appears in Sheeraza published by the Jammu & Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, Anhar published by the Kashmirri Department of the Kashmir University, and an independent magazine Neab International Kashmiri Magazine published from Boston, Vaakh (published by All India Kashmiri Samaj, Delhi) and Koshur Samachar( published by Kashmiri Sahayak Sammiti, Delhi).

Ancient writers in Sanskrit

  • Lagadha, between 1400-1200 BC. Wrote Vedanga Jyotisha, the earliest Indian text on astronomy.
  • Charaka, c. 300 BC. One of the most important authors in Ayurveda.
  • Vishnu Sharma, c. 300 BC. Author of Panchatantra.
  • Nagasena, c. 2nd century BC. One of the major figures of Buddhism, his answers to questions about the religion posed by Menander I (Pali: Milinda), the Indo-Greek king of northwestern India (now Pakistan), are recorded in the Milinda Pañha.
  • Tisata, c. 500 AD. A medical writer.
  • Jaijjata, 5th century, a medical writer and probably the earliest commentator (known) on the Sushruta Samhita, later quoted by Dalhana.
  • Kalidasa, c. 5th century. Widely regarded as the greatest poet and dramatist in the Sanskrit language.
  • Vagbhata, c. 7th century. Considered as one of the 'trinity' (with Charaka and Sushruta) of Ayurveda.
  • Bhamaha, c. 7th century
  • Ravigupta, 700-725. "Ravigupta is, perhaps, the earliest among the Buddhist philosophers of Kashmir..."
  • Anandavardhana, 820-890
  • Vasugupta, 860-925
  • Somananda, 875-925
  • Vatesvara, b. 880, author of Vaṭeśvara-siddhānta.
  • Rudrata, c. 9th century
  • Jayanta Bhatta, c. 9th century
  • Bhatta Nayaka, c. 9th-10th century, considered by Sheldon Pollock as the greatest author on aesthetics in the pre-modern period
  • Medhātithi, c. 9th-10th century, one of the most influential commentators of the Manusmriti
  • Utpaladeva, 900-950
  • Abhinavagupta, c. 950-1020
  • Vallabhadeva, c. 10th century. Wrote, amongst other works, Raghupanchika, the earliest commentary on the Raghuvamsa of Kalidasa.
  • Utpala, c. 10th century. An important mathematician.
  • Kshemendra, c. 990-1070
  • Kshemaraja, c. late 10th century/early 11th century
  • Kathasaritsagara, c. 11th century
  • Bilhana, c. 11th century
  • Kalhana, c. 12th century
  • Jalhana, c. 12th century. He wrote the Suktimuktavali, an anthology quoting the work of 380 Sanskrit poets.
  • Sarangadeva, c. 13th century. A musicologist, he wrote Sangita Ratnakara, one of the most important text when it comes to Indian music.
  • Kesava Kashmiri Bhattacharya, c. 14th century, a major Vedantic philosopher.
  • Mamatta
  • Kaihata
  • Jaihata
  • Ralhana
  • Shilhana
  • Malhana
  • Ruiyaka
  • Kuntaka
  • Ruchaka
  • Udbhatta
  • Sankuka
  • Gunadhya
  • Somvadeva
  • Pingala
  • Jayadata
  • Vamana
  • Kshiraswamin
  • Mankha
  • Pushpadanta
  • Jagadhar Bhatta
  • Ratnakara
  • Manikyacandra
  • Writers in Persian

    After Sanskrit and before the coming Urdu, because of the adoration and patronising policy of foreign culture by the Mughals, Persian became the literary language also of the region. Kashmir was very richly represented in that tradition, as already before the end of the 18th century "Muhammad Aslah's tazkira of the Persian-writing poets of Kashmir, written during the reign of the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah (1131-61/1719-48), alone lists 303 poets". Late scholar from Pakistan, Pir Hassam-ud-Din Rashidi, edited, translated, and enlarged this work later, and had it published by the Iqbal Academy.

    The most famous of them was Muhammad Tahir Ghani (d. 1669), better known as Ghani Kashmiri, whose poetry was recently translated into English, for the first time, by Mufti Mudasir Farooqi and Nusrat Bazaz as 'The Captured Gazelle' in the world-renowned Penguin Classics list. Ghani influenced many generations of Persian-and Urdu writing poets in South Asia including Mir Taqi Mir, Ghalib and most importantly, Iqbal. Ghani's "forte" lies in creating delightful poetic images, usually by stating an abstract idea in the first hemistich and following it up with a concrete exemplification in the other.He also stands out for his multi-layered poems, which exploit the double meaning of words.

    Another name is the Sheikh Yaqub Sarfi (1521-1595), a 16th-century Sufi poet-philosopher who was internationally acknowledged and who had for students, amongst others, well-known religious scholar Ahmad Sirhindi (more particularly, he taught him hadith) and Persian-language poet Mohsin Fani Kashmiri (d. 1671 or 1672) (himself the teacher of Ghani Kashmiri and author of the pivotal work of comparative religion, the Dabestan-e Mazaheb).

    Other of the well-known and influential Persian-language poets of Kashmir would include Habibullah Ghanai (1556-1617), Mirza Dirab Big Juya (d. 1707), Mirza Beg Akmal Kamil (1645-1719), Muhammad Aslam Salim (d. 1718), Mulla Muhammad Taufiq (1765), Muhammed Azam Didamari (d. 1765), Mulla Muhammad Hamid (1848) or Birbal Kachru Varasta (d. 1865), amongst a myriad. Of course, Kashmiri Pandits too played a role in that school, and one exceptional case was Pandit Taba Ram Turki (1776–1847), who was a celebrity as far as Central Asia.

    Writers in Urdu

    Despite being a numerically reduced community (less than one million), the Kashmiri Pandits are over-represented in their contribution to Urdu literature. One important early example is Daya Shankar Kaul Nasim (1811–1845), a renowned Urdu poet of the 19th century, and hundreds of others followed his path.

    Some eminent Urdu literary personalities of Kashmiri origins (from both the Valley and the diaspora) include (in chronological order):

  • Nawab Mir Tafazzul Hussain Khan Kashmiri (1727-1800), originally from Kashmir, born in Sialkot where his parents moved and himself based in Lucknow where he served as Prime Minister (or diwan) to the Nawab of Oudh Asaf-ud-Daula thanks his erudition. He was called "khan-e-allama" (the Scholarly Khan) due to his deep scholarship on many subjects but is best known today for having translated Sir Isaac Newton's Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica from Latin into Arabic.
  • Mufti Sadruddin Khan 'Azurda', 1789-1868, apart from being the Grand Mufti of Dehli, he was also a personal friend to Ghalib (whose own mother was from Kashmir) and himself a poet of note in Urdu as well as in Arabic and Persian. He also wrote a tazkira (biographical anthology of poets).
  • Momin Khan Momin, 1801-1852, considered one of the three pillars of the Delhi school of Urdu poetry, with Ghalib and Zauq. Other fields where he was competent included mathematics, geomancy, astrology, chess or music.
  • Daya Shankar Kaul Nasim, 1811–1845
  • Ratan Nath Dhar Sarshar, 1846-1903
  • Pandit Brij Mohan Datatriya Kaifi, 1866-1955
  • Muhammad Iqbal, 1877–1938
  • Agha Hashar Kashmiri, 1879–1935 (called "the Shakespeare of Urdu" for his works as playwright)
  • Brij Narayan Chakbast, 1882–1926
  • Aziz Lucknawi, 1882-1935
  • Dr Khalifa Abdul Hakim, 1896-1959 (a philosopher who has the honour of writing the only book on the metaphysics of Persian mystical poet Jalaluddin Rumi)
  • Patras Bokhari, 1898–1958
  • Ghulam Mustafa Tabassum, 1899–1978
  • Justice Anand Narain Mulla, 1901-1997
  • Dr Muhammad Din Taseer, 1902-1950 (short-story writer, literary critic and Iqbal scholar. Father of slain Pakistan's Punjab governor Salman Taseer and first individual from the Sub-continent to get a PhD in English Literature from Cambridge University)
  • Shaikh Abdullah, 1905–1982
  • Bashir Ahmed Dar, 1908-1979 (a philosopher and Iqbal scholar)
  • Meeraji, 1912-1949
  • Saadat Hasan Manto, 1912–1955
  • Aariz Kashmiri, 1916-1965
  • Agha Shorish Kashmiri, 1917-1975
  • Zaheer Kashmiri, 1919-1996
  • Razia Butt, 1924-2012
  • Anwar Shemza, 1928-1985
  • Hakeem Manzoor, 1937–2006
  • Obaidullah Aleem, 1939-2008
  • Muhammed Amin Andrabi, 1940-2001, a scholar who belonged to the Traditionalist School of metaphysics, inspired by authors like Ibn Arabi, Muhammad Iqbal, Frithjof Schuon, Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Henry Corbin.
  • Allama Mustafa Hussain Ansari, 1945–2006
  • Mirza Muhammad Zaman Azurdah, b. 1945, influential contemporary writer from the Valley
  • Abid Hassan Minto
  • Muhammad Asim Butt
  • Muhammad Younis Butt, writer of the most popular political satire show in Pakistan, Hum Sub Umeed Se Hain
  • Rasheed Amjad
  • Shahid Nadeem
  • Dr. Tabassum Kashmiri, one of Pakistan's foremost specialists on Japan and Japanese literature
  • Writers in Hindi

  • Amar Nath Kak
  • Chandrakanta (author)
  • Omkar N. Koul
  • Rattan Lal Shant
  • Hari Krishen Kaul
  • Shashi Shekhar Toshkhani
  • Bhushan Lal Koul
  • Shiban Krishen Raina
  • Agnishekher
  • Maharaj Krishan Santoshi
  • Writers in English

  • I. K. Taimni
  • M. P. Pandit, prolific writer who authored some 150 books and as many articles exposing in English the thought of Sri Aurobindo.
  • Chiragh Ali, reformist Islamic scholar
  • Taufiq Rafat, called the 'Ezra Pound of Pakistan' for both his innovative writings and his position as one of - if not the - greatest English-language poets of Pakistan.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit
  • Krishna Hutheesing
  • Gopi Krishna
  • Gopinath Raina
  • Ram Nath Kak
  • Nayantara Sahgal
  • M.J. Akbar
  • Salman Rushdie
  • Hari Kunzru
  • Lalita Pandit
  • Kailas Nath Kaul
  • Agha Shahid Ali
  • Mohammad Tabish
  • Basharat Peer
  • Hamid Naseem Rafiabadi, contemporary philosopher, affiliated with the University of Kashmir, specialist of Islamic philosophy
  • Abdur Rashid Bhat, contemporary philosopher, affiliated with the University of Kashmir, specialist of al Ghazali and Shah Waliullah
  • . Showkat ahmad wani
  • References

    Kashmiri literature Wikipedia