"Arni Rang Gaum ....." is the most stunning one liner written in Kashmir poetry. Its capacity to imagery is unparalleled. One can think of Habba Khatoon’s Madan Varo Badan Zoltham” which can flood the sense with similar kind of imagery. But more of that later.
Arnimal was born in Palhalan and married to a poet from Rainawari. Her husband Bhawani Das Kachroo was a more accomplished poet. But poetry is not only about accomplishments. In Arni’s case poetry rose from the heart, got welled up in the breast and out came the pathetic gems of Kashmiri literature. In all types of poetry, feelings get converted to thought and thought by conversion to word. In Arin’s case spoken word with feeling produced still effect and impact is heard more than two centuries after her death.
Arni Rang Gom Shraavani hiyey Karyiye darshun divey.
Shamosondran Paaman Laegis
Aamataavae Kotah Gaejis
Naama Paegam tas Kusniye
Kar yiyey darshun diyej
"All great literature”, wrote Albert Camus, “is written in the silence of the heart” . In all probability, above song was created in silence. In an autumn breeze looking at the faded leaves, in a clear blue sky. In that moment of solitude and silence above vatsun was composed. Poetry is not mostly about thought. It is about feeling cherished in silence. Poetry is rupture of emotion. Poetry does not convey the universal truth. It highlights particular condition.
Devastated by the separation from her husband, Arnimal sought solace in poetry. Aware that her husband was accomplished poet, she created her own to woo him back.
In 18th Century Kashmir amidst the tyranny of Afghans and in the midst of bountiful Kashmir nature, life was hard and painful in her parent’s home. She sought solace in nature or mixed nature to create poetic effect.
Shamasondran Paaman Lagis.
Amatavie Kotah Gaejis
Arnimal does not give us philosophical teaching or inspired and complex religions sermons as in the case of Lal Ded. She highlights her condition with simplicity and charm. Her state is sad but creates powerful emotion to hide that sadness or creates poetry for solace.
Kanda naabada aaradamtuy
Phanda Karith tsolum kotuy
Khanda Karinam Lookan thivey
kar yivey darshan diyey.
Arnimaal’s poetry is sort of given up poetry. It is a poetry of disillusion told with beauty and simplicity. In that simplicity lies Arnimal’s talent. She highlights her condition in simplest terms and in the process gives glimpse of 18th century Kashmiri women. But poetry is not only about accomplishments of 18th Century kashmiri women.
Vuchhi Vesay Kahandi Bo Zaayas
Baagani Aeyes Kahaanditam
Doha Aki Mallmaaji Nagra Harshaayes
Shaaharch Aesis Vastsis Gaam
Sati Dohy Phheerit Maatine Anayaages
Baagani Auyes Kahandi Taam
Doha Aki Shreha Saan Maalyungayaayes
Deka Baji Kaakani Dsitnam Paam
Deka Reach Zeranuy Kona Moyaagyes
Baagam Aayes Kahandi Taam.
In the above vatsun. Arnimal talks of embarrassment and taunts she had to undergo in her parent’s home. But disappointment is hidden under a cloak of poetic valour. She tells the story with degree of elan and thereby highlighting the tragic. It is not healthy to give translated version of her songs. As Voltarie has said don’t think you have grasped the poetry by reading translation.
Separated from her husband after only seven days after the marriage, Arnimal mixes passion for her estranged husband with a poetic imagery
Raatas Osum Lava Zan Laerith
Subahs Pravi Ketha Traerith Gom.
Babri Tsaman Ashi Saganavith
Aeshimot Kava Pashinaavitm Gom.
Arnimal and Habba Khaaton are twin sisters of Kashmir Vatsun. They seem to have smimilar sort of image and feeling. They mirror each other in every respect. Both or they do not impose their poetry. Lal Ded is special because of power, punch she generates in her vaakhs. Arnimal and Habakhaaton are product of nature. They seldom rise above it as in the case of Lal Ded. In fact both Arnimal and Haba Khaatun are overwhelmed by nature. But rise at appropriate time in order not to drown. Both of them will float as long as there are hills and mountains in Kashmir. Or in the words of Arnimaal upto Sangar Maalan.
Lala Chhararon Kohan to Baalan.
Through this piece is about Arnimal’s Poetry one cannot resist the doubts raised by Muslim scholars about her existence. Such notions need to be waived with a degree of nonchalance. Suffice it to say her husband was a historical figure as a courtier in Afghan court. Besides who could have composed Arnimal’s songs but by Arnimals herself ? Who could have created her anguished feeling? Who could have composed her sadness in poetic form? More importantly who could have faked her sincerity? It is not difficult to see that those who accept Lal Ded as Lalla Arifa now present that there was no Arnimal. Shakespeare’s what is in a name” is not relevant in Kashmir context. It is everything in Kashmir. We end with what Keats has said which applies perfectly to Arnimal. “ Our Sweetest Songs are the saddest one”.
|*Bilhan Kaul is a freelance writer and hasbeen a regular contributer in various magazines and newspapers.
The writer has written extensively on forced conversion and believes it to be the root cause of the conflict in Kashmir. A Central Government Employee presently lives in Janipur, Jammu (India).
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