[ blog connection 2 – wasim bhat ]

here is something on mystic poets of Kashmir by Wasim Bhat. it would have been a disservice to let it go just as a comment:

Alamdaar, the Standard Bearer-I

by Wasim Bhat

Salar Sanz lived in a time that is somewhere after the 1320 just after the marauding hordes of Zulchu the Mongol, had sacked the region. Salar was a person with a mystical bent of mind, his ancestors had settled in the Kashmir Valley after migrating from the outlying area of Kishtwar. The turning point in Salar Sanz’s life came when he met Hazrat Mir Syed Hussein Simnani, a renowned mystic who lived in Kulgam in south Kashmir. Salar Sanz spent a time with the mystic and eventually accepted Islam at his hands. Henceforth he was called Sheikh Salar u Din. In some years Salar u Din was married to a lady called Sodar and they lived at Kaimuh in Kashmir.

It was here that a son was born to them, he was called Noor u Din, the birth and the subsequent events after the birth of Noor u Din are wrapped in layers of legend. The legend goes that Noor u Din after he was born would not suckle at his mother’s breast. At this his parents were completely distraught thinking that if this continued their son would die of starvation. As if to answer their prayers Lalladed who was a renowned Shaivaite mystic of those times appeared at their door and took Nund, for this is how he was affectionately called, in her lap and suckled him and the infant who had refused for so long to suckle started to do so eagerly and hungrily.

This veracity of this incident is shrouded in legend but numerous historical sources attest to this and it finds a mention in many writings of the time and as well subsequent writings. The point however to note is that through this incident a spiritual event and a lineage is established which Noor u Din extolled repeatedly when he became older. In one of his shruks he says, [1]

Tas Padmanpore chay Lallay

She, the Lalla of Padmanpore,
Drunk the nectar long and deep,
And beheld Shiva with a bewildered eye,
Lord! Grant me the same demeanour.

This intimation of a spiritual lineage is a constant in the life and the poetry of Noor u Din. The pivot of spiritual and the mystical universe is the spiritual master without whom the effort spiritual efforts are futile and likely to go awry………

At the age of thirteen Noor u Din married Zaided, they had two children a girl who was named Zoonded and a boy Baba Haider. Apparently Noor u Din was leading a happy marital life but underneath the surface there was a simmering spiritual discontent. Noor u Din yearned to satiate his spiritual yearnings and at twenty he left home and started to live in cave in Kaimuh. He abandoned his family and children. His family was distraught at his action; sources relate that in an attempt to persuade him to come back home to his family his two children were one evening brought to the cave and left there. They were found dead the next morning.

This incident is a formative and critical one which symbolizes the break with the materials world and its concerns for Noor u Din. Now there is nothing that ties him, he is unfettered of the shackles that bind ordinary mortals.

Sources relate another dramatic event that happens around this time that reemphasizes Noor u Din break from worldly ties. This event contains within itself one of the earliest miracles attributed to him. This event is something that Noor u Din himself preserves in one of his shruks. It relates that his mother implores him to return to his family and claims her milk back on which he had suckled if he does not do so. It is related that he calls his mother and mildly reprimands her for her insistence and finally asks her to fetch a pot, he strikes a rock with his staff and milk gushes forth from the rock, he then asks his mother to collect the milk thus freeing himself of this maternal claim. The event again serves to achieve a breaking free, a rending asunder of the claims and the ties of the world that are but fetters in the path of the mystic and the spiritual traveler.

Finally Noor u Din is free of the claims that the world makes upon him to embark on his spiritual quest.

And what is the substance of this quest and what is the goal, Noor u Din himself describes the state that he seeks in his spiritual quest, a state of faqr, this state is an exaltation for the mystic, its merits are valued beyond measure, the lineage of this state is traced back to the Prophet who in the mystical discourses is the Insan i Kamil or the Perfect Man. It is related in a tradition of the Prophet that the Prophet said “al faqr u fakhri”, that the state of faqr is my pride.

The Prophet being the perfect example this state is then what the mystic strives to in all that he is and does.

Faqr chuy dozakhas warun thuro [2]

Faqr is salvation from the fire of hell,
Faqr, the Prophets observed so well,
Faqr is profit in faith, in sustenance as well,
Faqr is the sweet fragrance of the Yemberzal.

At the age of thirty six Noor u Din decided to leave the cave dwelling at Kaimuh and went on journeys across the Valley, his wanderings took him far and wide and the narratives of his journeys that have come to us through different sources relate incidents that are interspersed with his engaging encounters. A letmotif in these encounters is the engagements of Noor u Din with the Islamic and Hindu clerics of his time. What appears most in these encounters is how the clerical or organized religious establishment sees Noor u Din as a threat because he posits for himself a position that is liminal and that speaks to them from the outside and therefore is critical and in most instances as the narratives demonstrates establishes the moral superiority of the Sheikh, as he was now increasingly referred to by the population of the region.

The Sheikh established a mystic lineage or Silsila that he called the Rishi. In one of his shruks he clearly establishes himself at the final link of a mystical spiritual lineage that ultimately goes back to the Prophet. In this scheme then according to Noor u Din, Ahmad or the Prophet is the ‘Awal’ Rishi or the first Rishi and Noor u Din the seventh in line.

The Rishis of Kashmir, the disciples of the Sheikh carried forward the practices and the values of this lineage and in time the people of the region identified Kashmir so closely with the spirit of the Rishis that the seventh Rishi, Noor u Din came to be refereed as Alamdar i Kashmir, or the standard bearer of Kashmir.


[1] A shruk is a four lined composition in verse and usually the lines are in rhyme.

[2] Faqr is a state of piety of man towards the world and his fellow men and of austerity unto himself. It has material as well as spiritual connotations.


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