By Shafi Ahmad
Talk Kashmir and a picture opens up that this is a place which has been an abode of hermits, Saints and Rishis . The meaning of these words takes us to the zone where certain people are preferably believed as friends of God. Going through the biographies of such people we reach a point where these saints have had strong bonds with the almighty. The Almighty may be addressed in various forms or names. The population of Kashmir has remained divided in various religious groups .Among them Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims have been large and influential groups at the particular point of time. Oneness of God has been the rallying point when representatives of such groups indulged in influencing of residents. One such representative character was named as Prakash Ram Bhat who was born in 19th century (1819) in the village of Kwarigam near Qazigund. He was fond of his birthplace and was later cremated in the same village in 1877 when he died at the age of around 58 years.
Prakash Ram’s father Merzah Pandit was an illiterate person but was enthusiastic about his son’s education. Prakash Ram was a devotee of Lord Shri Ram which prompted him pen Ramayana in two volumes which were titled as Ram Avtar Charyt and Lav Kush Charyt. This epic poetry Ramayana became great contribution in the literary field. Prakash Ram got acceptance and cultivated tremendous respect. His other two epics Akanadun and krishana Avtar Lila also became popular among the people.
Prakash Ram lived a simple life and even his poetry was woven in simple words which made him popular among the common people .Legend tells us that once Prakash Ram was busy in meditation and goddess Bhagvati appeared before him. Goddess showed her affection by the following words, “I like your simplicity ,meet me at Raied Nag tomorrow.” With this development he was full of joy and waited anxiously for the meet. He followed the instructions and next day, near Raidi Nag, he was offered a bowl of honey. Prakash took the bowl willingly and ate the honey. Prakash continued his worldly and spiritual chores as per the routine; however it is believed that his poetry talent was filled with some kind of transformation espousing literary scent. His poems and other material were full of profundity, meaning, rhythm; Goddess had bestowed him with enormous power of thought and writing.
Prakash Ram was a mystic poet who preferred to remain in touch with those living and enjoying the divine company. Infact he was attracted to spirituality from his early years of life. While he wrote poetry eulogizing the Hindu philosophy but was very much influenced by Islam too. This mutual influence was so strong that many people thought possibly Prakash has accepted Islam after changing his earlier faith. His love and respect for Islam and the prophet Muhammad (SAW) can be explained in following few lines.
Ashiq chi zinda rozan loluk Quran pari pari
Beshak Kari-irfan thavan bayan kari kari
Awlaie Ishq chu Tashoq pannuie gotchum mey mashoq
Ade kurnuie paida nooran Muhamad(SAW) naw kari kari.
(In the beginning God, out of love, yearned to see his beloved.
Then he created Noor(light) and named it Muhammad (SAW)
Unlike other poets of the time Prakash used pure Kashmiri language to take his poetry to the general public .He desisted from using Sanskrit and Persian vocabulary in his stanzas.
Di na darshun te yi na sone, karsie
Prakash preth jayi kati tcharone , subhuk
Zalvun thove num naar lalvonie , Karsie
Wish he shows up and visits my home, I will shower flower petals
Prakash , the adorable morning sun ,where
can we search it
The strong fire has rising embers , will
shower petals .
One important factor in Prakash Ram’s thinking was that he had strong belief in the Almighty. Some of his verses bare testimony to the fact that he expressed in it the belief in the supernatural powers of the creator. His firm belief that the God is the shield from all sides of the defenseless and weak and such people shall have easy access to the heavens . Additionally he stresses that those who lost parents should not lose hope as God protects his children as all orphans can be hopeful of having the parent’s protection. His poetry expresses Prakash’s certain belief of the author who attained complete experience in the world. Prakash Ram being a devout religious man would spend most of his time in contemplation of God .
Prakash delved deep to study the life here and hereafter. He would spend time with people who attained high status in spirituality and learnt intricacies of life. As such his poetry makes one understand the real meaning of living.
Hi vesi mushtaq kas goom, Thas gome
Pohal travith rambas gome ,Kehn tari kenh
Die roos kanh ma chambus gome , thas gome patimay pyaray
Prakashas yeli hess pyom ,mas gov su s
Mastana mas cheth su mas gome , thas gome patimay pyaray
Alas ! he fell in love for someone , he left me for someone else
The care taker left the flock ,some crossed over while some got stuck here
None to watch they skidded off , he left me for someone
When Prakash collected his conscience , he was taken over by the music
He got inebriated , he left me for someone.
As mentioned Prakash Ram spent his life approaching the Almighty in real sense . Despite being a true Ram Bhakhat his company of Muslim saints was extraordinary. He wrote poetry encompassing Muslim philosophy of spirituality. His diction was such that some people believed he had some Sufi guide but this claim could not be established.
Mashoq wuchmakh panaie ,Az tan kya wuryanie
Tashoq gome biryanai , Az Tan kya wuryanie
Prakash wul Jamie wajood,wajood andrie
Mojood chu az rahi nabood, Aztam kya
O, my love I saw you without veil
With affection got into pieces, but you there without veil
Prakash dressed in spiritual garments and breaths inside
Existence is from non –existence , and you without veil.
Prakash Ram has written many couplets known as Leela and Bhajans. These are in praise of gods and goddesses. He died at a young age of around 58 years. Un-authenticated history tells us that quarrel took place between his Hindu and Muslim disciples over the spot of his burial or cremation. Since the issue did not settle, miraculously the shrouded body flew in the air and struck a branch of the Chinar tree nearby. It then flew in the air going out of sight. The branch which struck against the dead body keeps the leaves green throughout the year while rest of the tree goes through the normal phases of change in season.
Writer is a Kashmir based columnist and author of the novel “The Half Widow”. He can be mailed at wanishafi [email protected] .com