Jul 14, 2011


Kashmiri poetry is from the northwest of India, bordering Pakistan, is said to be influenced by its setting. Kashmir is a valley framed by the Himalaya Mountains which reflects grandeur, serenity and vivid color. The language is a descendant of Sanskrit and influenced by Urdu.

Lallashwari was a mystic of the Kashmiri Shaivite sect, and at the same time, a Sufi saint. She is a creator of the mystic poetry called vatsun or Vakhs, literally 'speech'. These Vakhs are the earliest compositions in the Kashmiri language and are an important part in history of Kashmiri literature.

The Vakhs record the moment when Kashmiri began to emerge, as a modern language, from the Sanskrit-descended Apabhramsaprakrit that had been the common language of the region through the first millennium CE. The word Vakh, applicable both as singular and plural, is cognate with the Sanskrit vac,'speech', and vakya,'sentence'. This has prompted previous translators to render it as 'saying','verse' and 'verse-teaching'.

A total of 258 Vakhs attributed to Lalla have circulated widely in Kashmiri popular culture between the mid-14th century and the present, variously assuming the form of songs, proverbs and prayers. They are comprised of four or sometimes more than four lines, and are full of mystic excellence with a spiritual depth and clarity. Generally they are kept short, with only one stanza, but the Vakh can have more than one stanza as well.

I’m not sure if my example captured the spirituality of a true Vakh, but I did manage more than one stanza.

A stirring of the spirit
The seed of faith newly found
Eyes are lifted to the sky
At the dawn of a new day

The cycle of life begins
New life unfurls, greets the sun
Rain quenching the thirsty earth
The time of growing has come

And then harvest time draws near
Growth is done, time now to reap
Souls unfettered from the earth
Set them free to fly away

The cycle of life goes on
Whether we will it or no
Ashes to ashes to the earth
The cycle is completed.


Christine Tyler said...

Wow. Awesome information on the background of the style you used. Very intellectual and beautiful at the same time.

Angie Cothran said...

I've never heard of Vakh. This is beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

Angela Felsted said...

Favorite line: Souls unfettered from the earth

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

I too had never heard of Vakh so I'm glad you put the information at the beginning.
It is a very beautiful form and I think you did a wonderful job!