GANI KASHMIRI: Poet who defied Aurangzeb
His Grave In A Mess
IGNORED AND FORGOTTEN
Srinagar, Oct 23: Impressed by his remarkable writings in Persian, the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb invited this great poet to know more about him and his versatile style of writing. Shocking for many in then Kashmir was the defiance of King’s invite by the poet for his belief in Mughals as oppressors and Kashmiris as oppressed.
Many believe that this fame was not that he desired for in his life and instead went into oblivion for being exposed to what he wanted to hide.
THE MYSTIC POET
His verses influenced Dr Sir Muhammad Iqbal, Mir Taqi Mir, Ghalib (translated more than 40 of his couplets into Urdu), Sadat Hassan Mantoo and in Iran he is adored for his classic style in Persian poetry.
One of the verse Moi Miane Tu Shudh Kraalpan Kardah Juda Kasai Sar Ze Tun (Like the potter's thread, your tresses made me dazed and senseless, severing the head (pot) from the body (lump of clay) contained in ‘Dewan-e-Ghani’, has a Kashmiri word Kraalpan meaning Potter's thread. Mirza Ali Saib, a famous Persian poet of Iran, unable to understand the meaning traveled all the way from Iran to Kashmir to know about it.
Muhammad Tahir Gani Ashai or Gani Kashmiri lived in Rajouri Kadal area of Shehar-e-Khaas. According to available historical material, Gani Kashmiri was born in 1630 AD and died in the year 1669. This 17th century poet lived during the reign of Shah Jahan and Aurangzeb. Ghani belonged to the Ashai family and unlike his contemporaries Sheikh Yaqoob Sarfi and Mulla Mohsin Fani, he did not move out to complete his education.
It is stated that he wrote about one lakh verses, but not one in praise of any nobleman or king. He never attended any Darbar or wrote any Qasida (poetry of praise) for any ruler of his time. His heart was pained to see the pathetic condition of his compatriots at the hands of rulers and his anger echoed in his verses.
Till date, he is considered to be one of the great masters of the Persian poetry and exerted great influence on the development of Persian and Urdu poetry.
Allama Iqbal refers to him as the nightingale of poetry and recalled through his collection an incident about Saib’s visit to his house at Rajouri Kadal
“Gani, who sang in Kashmir’s paradisal land, used, while at home, to shut up all the doors, but leave them open while away from home. Somebody questioned him concerning this. ‘O charming bard,’ he said, ‘Why do you do this strange thing, which nobody understands. Gani, who had no wealth except his gift of poetry, replied: ‘What people see me doing is quite right. There is nothing of any value in my house except myself. When I am in, the house is to be guarded like a treasure-trove. When I am out, it is an empty place, which nobody would care to walk into."
As was the poet’s life mired in vortex of mysticism, his passing away too was shrouded in mystery for his desire to die as a commoner.
For centuries, his grave has been in mess and continues to be the same even though the Government in 2009 ordered construction of four walls and erection of tomb at his grave near Syed Sahib Rajouri Kadal.
It took a year for the Srinagar Municipal Corporation to complete the boundary wall and construction of the small tomb as indicative from the plaque engraved on the gate. However, Greater Kashmir has pictorial evidence as corroborated by the residents throwing light on the casual and hasty approach of the contractor in raising the tomb on the wrong spot.
Besides, the mohalla drain seeps well past into Gani Kashmiri’s grave as well as the local garbage piles up everyday at the iron gate of the graveyard.
Ghulam Qadir Budoo, a resident at Syed Sahib Rajouri Kadal, who is an eyewitness to defacement of the grave by the contractor in his bid to finish the work within deadline, says that all those in the neighbourhood informed SMC officials about the neglect but all went in vain.
“The government was informed in 2009-2010 about the sensitivity of the grave and despite repeated pleas, the contractor placed the cement slab at the wrong spot while his exact resting place is near the boundary wall and not at the present position,” says Budoo, whose argument is supported by others in the area.
Pointing to the exact spot of Gani Kashmiri’s grave, Budoo calls it a grave mistake on Government’s part.
“It’s a disaster as this is not the original spot where grave of Ghani Kashmiri lies. This is a feet away from the real spot,” rues Budoo.
The half-hearted approach on the part of state government towards what could have been the heritage site for the people of Kashmir and rest of the world was evident when one glances through the construction of iron-grill wall around the grave.
To ‘showcase’ the grave, a large concrete has been placed with a gravestone to mark the spot at a corner placed on the mud dumped with boulders over the original grave.
IGNORED AND FORGOTTEN
The government apathy was obvious and so has been the local initiative over the decades.
Now some 8-10 residential houses in the vicinity owned by Budoo, Abdul Samad Ganai, Ali Muhammad Baba, Farooq Khan, Abdul Rasheed, Ghulam Muhammad, Ghulam Rasool Kumhar and others, favour dismantling of their houses and building a mausoleum in his honour. “We don’t think that Government is interested in honouring this legend. Otherwise they would have done it years back. He is our Aulia Karaam but ignored and forgotten. Even though a reading room has been established at a cost of over Rs 40 lakh, a stadium in his name is under renovation and a massive community hall has been constructed within metres of his grave, nothing has been done to maintain resting place of Gani Kashmiri,” argue they.
“We are ready to vacate our houses provided government is interested in building a grand memorial site for the grave,” they added.
Apart from government apathy, the local initiative has been minimal as this correspondent saw heaps of garbage dumped in front of the graveyard while an uncovered drain filled with filth and human excreta seeps into the grave of this greatest mystic of Kashmir.
“Even we are to blame for what government has done to his grave as we for centuries turned mute spectators towards the site where the body of a saint lies buried,” feels a woman, pointing towards the drain.
This correspondent attempted to seek version from the government but all efforts to do so went in vain as different departments right from SMC, R&B, UEED passed the buck.
For almost over 400 years now, the greatest poet of Kashmir lies ignored and forgotten.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 23 Oct 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 23 Oct 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 24 Oct 2011 00:00:00 IST
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