By Professor Rattan Lal Hangloo
For me, it is not only customary to look at the writings of Kashmiri scholars and researchers but a historical necessity because each work produced in Kashmir, on any aspect, teaches me that they have implications that go far beyond the history of the region. There is a lot of quality work being done by a number of young scholars in Kashmir. But there is also work done on Kashmir’s history and literature that is not a part of the successful and objective plethora; there are also writers/historians/scholars who have given sporadic encouragement to less illuminating ideas, misleading analysis, and intense prejudice and produced books that have no input from a wave of feverish research. Many works are curiously at variance with the established style of inquiry pioneered in the region and outside. There are scholars who have made useful contributions with very useful insights even during the contemporary period of crisis in Kashmir. Today, democratic politics is under threat in the region, not only because of the political attitudes of certain political parties but also because of circumstances, social attitudes, and institutions that have been transformed. In such circumstances, it is the powerful, fearlessly sustained examination of situations by scholars or historians that is of indispensable significance for presenting the reality and understanding the ongoing social processes.
In the eighteenth century, when India was in great turmoil, the only two things that made progress were (a) the decline of the Mughal Empire and (b) the growth of Urdu literature. In Kashmir too, the 1990’s witnessed a political turmoil that continues on a much lesser scale now. However, it divided communities, degraded institutions, and unleashed violence on all Kashmiris without regard for religious or societal differences. The Kashmiri Pandits who left Kashmir, their original homeland, en masse, created a wedge between Kashmiri Pandits and Kashmiri Muslims. Both communities suffered immensely, and that suffering continues to accompany Kashmiris both within Kashmir and outside. Kashmir has repeatedly seen such a crisis earlier too, when there were no courts to do justice, no welfare associations to comfort the public on such occasions and people sought refuge in Tasawuf and Adyatmikta. It is amidst such conditions that Kashmir threw up great poets such as Lalded, Nund Reshi, Momin Sahib, Swochha Kral, Shah Gufoor, Mahmood Gami (1765-1855), Abdul Ahad Naazim, Rasul Mir, Saifudin-Tarbali, Nyama Saeb, and Maqbool Shah Kralwari (1820–1871). Rehman Dar, Abdul Ahad Azad, and Shamas Faqir (1849–1904) wrote Shah Qalandar (1880).Ahmad Batawaari (1842-1912), Wahab Paray (1846-1914), Hajin, Hassan Driver, Waza Mahmud, Amir Shah Kreeri (1846-1905), Ahmad Batawaari (1842-1912), Wahaab Khar (1842-1912), Hajin, Hassan Driver, Waza Mahmud, Amir Shah Kreeri (1846-1905), Ahmad Batawaari (1842-1912), Wahaab Khar (1842-1912),Prakash Ram, Peer Ghulam Mohmmad Hanafi (1876-1937), Krishna Joo Razdan, Ali Shah Haril (d.1935), Aftab Ram, Rajab Hafiz, Syed Habib.
In our contemporary period too, Kashmir has thrown up many literati among whom Mushtaq Barq occupies his own position, not only for having translated Socha Kral and Wahab Khar’s oral narrations for a larger audience but also for having produced The Wings of Love and Shades and Shadows, which provide us with varied perspectives offered by great sufis on Tasawuf and the contemporary social and political circumstances by producing a novel, respectively.
All his works are enthusiastic studies that are not only more solid and inspiring, but also analytical. These works form a useful source for providing solace and illustrate the need for writers to make extra forays. These are readable with wide significance. If the translations of Sufi poetry reveal the universality of spiritual attitudes, his own productions are the intellectual developments associated with the tumultuous period, with a stable and harmonious vision amidst unstable and vastly changing surroundings. Mushtaq Barq seems to be concerned with many questions, such as: what is Tasawuf and how effective has it been in the production of a humane society in Kashmir that earned the valley the name of Reshwaer? Through his other two writings, he shares the social outlook that points to what is hierarchical, pluralistic, organic, and full of moral regeneration. He is very careful in insisting that all is not as simple as it may appear. He shows that there are several varieties of perspectives that have been helpful to Kashmiri society while confronting societal problems within the circumscribed spiritual sphere. While translating and analysing Wahab Khar, Mushtaq Barq’s poetry, it is perhaps understandably convincing when he tackles the poetry for translation. Let me cite an example thus:
Kan ma thovum dardech naye
Ame naye kornas bedar
Admas bronth adam chiye
Had ristey bae shumar
Tame tor no shumari chiye
Ame naye kornas bedar
Despite the unknown reservations of Wahab Khar, Barq defines many facets of realisation of spirituality and self-consciousness and provides an understanding of bewilderingly complex spiritual philosophy in a profound manner.
He translates it thus:
Deal concluded after bargain
For two pearls all set
Do listen to my woes at any cost
This flute wide awakened me
The writings of Mushtaq Barq make an important contribution to our knowledge of Sufi literature. His exposition and other formulations are firmly based on authentic tracts. His tone is incisive as one might wish, especially in Wings of Love. (p.155). He says, “What destroys the system is not ignorance but amendments and adjustments.” And a common man openly and willingly bows before power, which hardly encourages and entertains common narratives copious with aspirations and expectations.
This volume would be of great interest to students of history and those charting the changing landscape of literature in Kashmir. Each volume of Mr. Barq offers a wealth of descriptive material too. Mushtaq Barq’s work is not only empirically rich but also conceptually satisfying too. He shows that in the changing scenario too, his well-articulated moral precept in Kashmiri theology, for which Barq has provided the foundation, is a credo which equates the desire with the act. Some aspects of his work necessitate an elementary knowledge of the software and hardware of Tasawuf in general and Kashmiriyat in particular.
In Shades and Shadows, he says, “I, along with my imagination, was not ready to change the raw material and the architecture for a different edifice to be raised in the meadows unprejudiced and uninfluenced.” If at all, you are not ready to change, why should one be compelled to do so? This compulsion would only mean wreckage, and from ruins, one could only gather bones out of soil, broken and decomposed. Ruins frighten people because they are rude and rowdy. What good can one derive from the ashes? “ (p.51)Kashmir has been trampled by aspirations to settle the region’s political future, constitutional conflict, and religious divide, which have loomed so large and for this purpose too. Mushtaq Barq’s work is a more subtle shading of current orthodoxies and brings them into more convincing relief. One of the striking features of the work has been that it does not pose questions, nor does he employ concepts in order to construct the complexities of his narrative, but he is concerned with issues that are reasonably familiar and unorthodox. Elegantly written and presented in his typical modest fashion, his work deserves to be widely read and Kashmiris owe a considerable debt to Mushtaq Barq for his substantial and scholarly work.
Although it is hard to escape the view of some Kashmiri intellectuals that in attempting to analyse Tasawuf, Barq has adopted a framework as rigid as that of long run theorists, the author is, at any rate, to be congratulated for his determination to consider the specificity of a pattern that suits his poetic approach as a whole instead of resorting to a more casual case study approach.
He has written probing, painstaking, perceptive, and, in many ways, pioneering works of considerable merit in which Tasawuf constitutes the focal concern. His approach is simple but effective. He has made a distinguished contribution to Kashmiri literature. His two books are exercises in intellectual and cultural history, and his translations have succeeded, in varying measures, in providing illumination and are often interesting and stimulating, particularly for those who are fascinated with the Sufi poetry and philosophy of Kashmir.
The Author is Former Professor of History, former Vice-Chancellor of Kalyani University West Bengal and Allahabad University.Honorary Chancellor Nobel International University Toronto Canada, Originally from Village Hangalgund, Bereng ,Anantnag Kashmir.