Kashmiri Literature


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Kashmiri Literature

 

For centuries the principal language of Kashmir’s literature and culture was Sanskrit. Literary figures who lived in Kashmir from the seventh through the 12th century included the writers Kshemendra, Somadeva, and Kalhana; the philosophers Somananda, Utpala Charya, and Bhaskara; and the authors of well-known works on poetry— Bhamaha, Anandavardhana, and Abhinavagupta. Adaptations in Kashmiri of stories drawn from the Vedas and Puranas, such as The Tale of the Victory Over the Demon Bana (15th century) by Bhattavatara and The Radiance of Siva (16th–17th centuries) by Shitikantha, began to appear in the 13th century. The creative work of the folk poet Lalla Devi and, to some extent, that of Sheikh Nuruddin, was characterized by a blend of Hindu and Sufi mysticism and a criticism of orthodox religion.

From the 16th through the 18th century there was intensive development of poetry written in Persian: Sheikh Yakub Zarfi (1522–94) and Hodja Habibullah (1555–1617). In poetry written in Kashmiri the genre of the love song (lal-gita), which had been borrowed from folklore, became widespread: Haba Khatun (16th century) and Arnimal (18th century). The Hindu poets of the 18th and 19th centuries Prakash Ram, Paramananda, and Krishna Razdan revived the tradition of poetic adaptations of ancient Indian legends; the Muslim poets used traditional Persian and Tadzhik subjects and genre forms: Mahmud Garni, Makbul Shah Kralawari, Rasul Mir, Abdul Wahab Pare, Hazrat Hussain, and Halil Gah.

Ideas of the Enlightenment began to become widespread in Kashmir in the late 19th century, and a modern literature took shape: the satirical poems of Kiralavari and the poetry of Ghulam Ahmad Mahjur (1885–1952) were permeated with antifeudal moods. Abdul Ahad Azad (1902–48) opposed religious fanaticism. The theme of labor and the life of the common people resounds in the poetry of Roshan, Premi, Rahi, and Kamil. The traditions of Sivaite lyricism were continued by Zinda Kaul. New genre forms and varieties of verse penetrated into poetry.

The first prose works in Kashmiri appeared during the 1950’s: Akhtar Mohiuddin, Umesh, Kaul, Kamil, D. Nadim (born 1916), Roshan, Bansi, Nirodo, and Shankar Raina. The literature of the Dogri people began to emerge in the late 1940’s: the poets Dinubhan, Pant, K. Madhukar, and Padma Sachdev, and the prose writers Bhagvan Prasad Sathe, Ramnath Shastri, and Narendar Khajuria. Some contemporary writers in Kashmir also write in Urdu and Hindi.

REFERENCE

Pushp, P. N. “Kashmiri Literature.” In Contemporary Indian Literature. New Delhi [1957].

B. A. ZAKHAR’IN and I. S. RABINOVICH [11—1663–3]

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