Lal Ded: A Kashmiri Poetess
Lalleshwari, also known as Lad Ded (Mother Lalla), was a poet and mystic from Kashmir who lived in the 14th century.
She was the author of the poetic form known as vakhs.
Lal Ded was a revolutionary mystic during her time, and some of her verses are among the first Kashmiri works. They are an essential component of Kashmiri literature.
Lal Ded, also known as Lalla or Laleshwari, was a devoted follower of the God Shiva. She frequently discussed Shaivism and Sufism in her poetry. Lal Ded’s verses have been passed down through Kashmir’s folklore from generation to generation, and it’s likely that no Kashmiri hasn’t heard of her. Lalleshwari was regarded as Kashmir’s rebel poetess because she opposed traditional values such as the caste system and social and religious inequality.
About Lal Ded:
She was born as “Lalleshwari” sometime between 1320 and 1355 in Pandrethan, Kashmir, to a Kashmiri Pandit family. She was thereafter referred to as Lalla Arifa, Lalla Yogishwari, Lalla Yogini, Laleshwari, or just Lalla. Yet her most recognizable and well-known name is Lal Ded.
She received a brief education in sacred literature before being married off at age 12 to a household that often treated her poorly. She was mistreated by her mother-in-law, who also complained about her to her husband. It is well known that Lalla’s mother-in-law put stones on her lunch plate before covering it with rice. Lalleshwari is known to never have complained.
Lal Ded spent her time at Lord Shiva’s temple on the opposite side of the river in the hours between leaving the house in the morning to fill a pot with water from the river and returning in the evening. She soon discovered Sidh Srikanth to be her guru and studied yoga under him. And when Lalla reached the age of 26, she gave up her marriage and financial possessions to become a mystic.
She would go around in tatters or without clothing after giving up all of her things while reciting her lyrics.
Laleshwari blatantly challenged the eminent and unchallengeable Sanskrit academia.
She defied tradition while contributing substantially to Kashmiri culture since she had the unheard-of guts to give up a traditional way of life.
Curiously, Lal Ded probably never thought of herself as a poet. In reality, her statements were really chants or mantras intended to exalt God.
Her ability to have an impact was what caused her listeners to turn her words into chants and mantras.
They were passed down verbally from generation to generation in Kashmir before her Vakhs were published. She usually utilised both of her names and the first person in her vakhs. She often said, “I, Lalli,” or “I, Lal,” for example.
About her Poetry:
Your journey through the world’s disillusionment, man’s distress, the search for God, and ultimately the discovery of the highest truth will be made lovely by Lal Ded’s Vakhs. In addition to demonstrating her poetic talent, her vakhs also portray her mystic experiences. Although her vakhs are quite private, the teachings they contain are timeless.
Despite their profundity, her humanity makes it simple to relate to Lal Ded’s verses. As a result, her art is ageless and appeals to a wide audience. These lyrics have a significant cultural impact on Kashmir. Her lines have been passed down the generations and through the centuries in songs, proverbs, and hymns in the valley.
The Kashmiri language and literature have been greatly influenced by her vakhs. She emphasises that there is no distinction between people of different faiths in one of her well-known vakhs. She also challenged the Guru’s patriarchal authority in many of her lyrics.
One of her most important accomplishments was transferring the challenging Shaiva philosophy from the small circles of professors who spoke Sanskrit to the broad fields of the common Kashmiri-speakers. She not only rendered these complex yet deep ideas clearly understandable but also improved the Kashmiri language by translating them into a tongue that was widely spoken by the populace.
She was successful in conveying concepts and sensations that would have otherwise been incomprehensible.
Her vakhs cemented a position in the communal memory of the Kashmiris because to her easily readable rhymes in the local vernacular. Even though the exact origins of Kashmiri literature are frequently disputed, Lal Ded deserves praise for helping to bring back the Kashmiri language.
How many of her vakhs were actually preserved is unknown because her verses were not recorded while she lived. Some might have changed, and others might have added, throughout the years.
Here I present to you few excerpts from THE POEMS OF LAL DED translated by Ranjit Hoskote.
A Selection from the Vākhs:
I wore myself out, looking for myself.
No one could have worked harder to break the code.
I lost myself in myself and found a wine cellar. Nectar, I tell you.
There were jars and jars of the good stuff, and no one to drink it.
I saw a sage starving to death, a leaf floating to earth
on a winter breeze. I saw a fool beating his cook.
And now I’m waiting for someone to cut
the love-cord that keeps me tied to this crazy world.
(66 & 67 are companion vākhs)
Who’s the garland-maker, who’s his wife?
What flowers will they pluck to offer Him?
With what water will they sprinkle Him?
With what chant will they wake the deepest Self?
The mind’s the garland-maker, his wife the desire for bliss.
They will pluck flowers of adoration to offer Him.
They will sprinkle Him with the moon’s dripping nectar.
They will wake the deepest Self with the chant of silence.
Lal Ded became incredibly well-liked among millions of people because of her candour and empathy for the real issues facing the average person.
Agrita Chhibber is from Jammu
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