A legendary Kashmiri of yore
Poet, philanthropist, social activist, and Iqbal associate
KHAWAJA SAMAD JOO KAKROO (1836-1921)
Pursuit of legendary valleyites of yore took me downstream to Baramulla - the north Kashmir town that has lost its past glory of being the important landmark on Jhelum Valley Road. I didn’t actually have to physically undertake the journey, yet Baramulla got re-visited, right here in Srinagar, as I interacted with descends of Khawaja Abdul Samad Kakroo, lovingly called Kh. Samad Joo Kakroo (Joo being a Kashmiri honorific accorded to a person with significant social standing). Interaction with Khawaja’s descends gave me some vital leads for the write-up. Most of Kakroo’s have moved upstream to Srinagar. There is hardly a Kakroo with less than remarkable physical features. Men of the clan are handsome with soft demeanor, ladies with an elegant grace. They are a part of Valley’s social milieu, enlivening a great ancestor, rather a sequential trail of significant ancestors.
Hasrat Khan Gakhad is quoted as the ancestor who helped Kashmir’s renowned King Zain-ul-Abidin (1420-1470 A.D) establish his rule in battle of succession ((Hayat-i-Iqbal (Life of Iqbal) by Nazar Niazi). As Nazar Niazi relates (pages 215-217) Kakroo’s of Varmul were originally ‘Gakhad’ the name of the clan got corrupted to ‘Kakroo’ (suiting Kashmiri phonetics). Kakroo originally being Gakhad is corroborated by other authors like Munshi Mohammad Din Fouq in Tarikh-e-Aqwam-e-Kashmir. Ahmad Khan is another ancestor of the family quoted in the chronicle.
Inscribed on a wooden plate in the mausoleum (mazar) of Hazrat Janbaz Wali (RA) in Khanpora, Varmul is the name of Wali Joo Kakroo, a mid 18th ancestor of the family…grandfather of Samad Joo. This stands noted in Kakroo memoirs of Nishat Ansari (Hamara Adab—Jammu & Kashmir Academy of culture and languages—pub: 1984/85—pages: 87/88). This accounts for Wali Joo funding the construction of the dome of the mausoleum. Nishat Ansar’s account of Kakroos’ mentions another inscription. Inscribed on a plate in the mausoleum of Hazrat Shah Mohammad Ghous (RA) a Sufi saint is the name of Ali Joo Kakroo…father of Samad Joo. The mausoleum of Sufi saint is located in Lahore’s Delhi Gate. It is related that Ali Joo accompanied his spiritual guide Arif Shah Mohammad. The guide on reaching the mazar of the one he revered breathed his last. After performing his last rites, Ali Joo had the mazar reconstructed with his own funds, hence the inscription. Conversely Nazar Niazi names Ali Joo as Aziz Kakroo; Nishat Ansari’s account could be taken as authentic.
Varmul has lost the significance that it had in Kashmir of yore. And therein lays the tragedy. About an hour’s journey down the Jhelum from Varmul, you cannot go further. ‘Line of Actual Control’ (LOC) stands to bar the movement further down. The state existed as a single entity in the pre-47 era with all the upstream, downstream, uphill and downhill accesses open for movement of men and goods. It leaves much to be desired in its phase of blocked accesses. While the world is now the global village with hardly a blocked access; South Asia stands as an exception.
Kashmir is no more the dreamland that it used to be when Kh. Abdul Samad Kakroo lived-about a century ago. Line of Control (Ceasefire line: 1947-72) did not exist; Khawaja died quarter a century before the event-in 1921. Allama Iqbal lamented his death with an elegy (noted by Nazir.A.Qadri-My Kashmir, My Life…page: 69)
Khawaja Khajgaa’n Samad Kakroo
A’nke Darad Qayam Dar’r Kashmir!
It could be put as:
Khawaja of Khawaja’s Samad Kakroo
The Khawaja with abode in Kashmir!
Allama Iqbal had to move upstream from plains of Punjab to get to Varmul. He shared the grief with his family on ‘Chalum’ (40th day following the day of leaving for eternal abode). For four days he stayed in Varmul relates the Urdu chronicle (Hayat-i-Iqbal (Life of Iqbal) by Nazar Niazi-p: 215) Iqbal was the scion of a migrant family of recent converts-Sheikhs were Saprus before conversion. The family was one of the many families that had left the vale as one tyrannical autocratic regime followed the other to rule enslaved Kashmir, torturing the habitants. Added to that were natural calamities-flood and famine with amazing regularity.
Iqbal’s upstream movement to be with Khawaja’s family was the due he meant to pay for Khawaja Samad Joo Kakroo’s repeated downstream movement, as long as he lived. He loved to remain associated with Lahorians of Kashmiri descent. Besides Iqbal’s family there were many others. And in Sailkot too, the other town of Kashmiri settlers, Khawaja was frequently seen. His concerns were not individuals or Kashmiri families merely, there was hardly an association with which the famous philanthropist from vale would not remain associated, not only to be a worthy participant but to distribute his largesse. In the yearly recitals of Allama Iqbal in ‘Anjuman-e-Himyat-e-Islam (assembly in support of Islam) Samad Joo used to be a significant presence, accorded a place of honour. Iqbal used to recite the best of the year in this assembly and was bestowed by Samad Joo with an expensive Kashmiri Shawl or a medallion. Whatever Iqbal would be bestowed with by Samad Joo and other philanthropist used to be auctioned for funding the Islamic organization. It was the social concern of Samad Joo which appealed to Iqbal and many others. Khawaja being of the generation preceding Iqbal was treated as an elder by the iconic poet of the east. The fact dawned on Iqbal of Khawaja being a significant poet, who shared not only poetic symposiums-the public recital of poetry, but the ‘Mehfil’ (a private gathering) of lighter movements.
The kinship of Iqbal and Samad Joo was deep to the extent of his son Hassan taking his 1902 matriculation examination in Lahore, while staying with Iqbal’s family. Fate claimed the boy immediately afterwards. Samad Joo was torn with grief, a shocked Iqbal noted in Makhzan (a famed Lahore journal):
Andhera Samad ka maka’n ho Gaya
Woh khursheed roshan neha’n hoo Gaya
Nahi baag Kashmir mai’n woh bahar
Nazar say joo woh gul niha’n Gaya
It may be read as:
Darkened lies the abode of Samad
Noted by absence is sun, the bright
So too spring in garden of Kashmir
With flower of it is no more in sight
Nazir A. Qadri notes in My Kashmir, My Life that in Hindustan, there was hardly an organization that did not benefit from his participation. He was thus one of the founders of Muslim League and attended its first meeting in Dacca. In early decades of 20th century, he developed significant contact with Sir Syed, Maulana Shubli Numani, Nawab Salim of Dacca and other significant Muslim revivalists. And he remained involved with ‘All India Muslim Educational Trust’. So, it could be concluded that Samad Joo Kakroo’s trail did not remain limited to Lahore and Sailkot…two cities Kashmiris of yore loved to remain in touch with, besides Rawalpindi and Amritsar. Not only Central India with United Provinces (U.P) even Dacca in East was not beyond his reach.
Samad Joo Kakroo’s philanthropic touch did not remain confined to social organizations outside the state. Apart from remaining involved with concerns of Jammu Muslims, he had Jamia Masjid of Varmul rebuilt, believed to have been built by Bud Shah (what led to its ruin remains controversial). His significant contribution stands inscribed in a poetic note. Samad Joo Kakroo also contributed liberally for the repair of Jamia Srinagar and worked closely with Mirwaiz Rasul Shah to set-up Islamia School, Srinagar. He set-up ‘Anjuman-e-islamia’ in Varmul incorporating the services of Sheikh-ul-Hadith, Maulana Anwar Shah Kashmiri. The Sheikh, another high standing Kashmiri was patronized by Ali Joo, Samad Joo Kakroo’s father. Samad Joo continued to look to his comforts.
There was hardly a social concern in the length and breadth of the subcontinent which escaped Samad Joo Kakroo’s philanthropic touch. His poetry was significant enough to be admired by Iqbal and other poets of high standing. ‘Maqbul’ was his Persian pen name (Takhalus in vernacular) while Urdu poetry carried his real name ‘Samad’. His poetry had a fair sprinkling of Arabic. However expounding the poetic touch of Samad Joo Kakroo would need a separate column.
In Nageen Lake, a place called ‘Island of Peace’ belongs to Kakroo family. It has peace and tranquility written all over it. Intach has declared it a heritage site. Saleem Beg, the heritage luminary relates that island has a chinar with unique horizontal growth. The place has a facility for tourists and a small mosque. The tale that Allama Iqbal has stayed at the place and prayed in the mosque remains unsubstantiated, though many tend to believe it. The place besides Kakroo name carries another name ‘Heart Meem’s Bunglow’. It is said that an English lady ‘Miss Heart’ lived there over a period of time.
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi (Reunion is subordinate to survival)
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Lastupdate on : Sat, 11 Aug 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 11 Aug 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 12 Aug 2012 00:00:00 IST
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