The melodious voice that had resonated for the past six decades or more in the valley and beyond is now silent forever. Ghulam Hassan Sofi, the man who was a legend of his own lifetime after battling for life for about a week succumbed in the wee hours of morning on Monday. He belonged to the great clan of writers, poets, musicians, artists and singers that shot into prominence and dominated the cultural landscape of Kashmir after the end of the feudal rule in the state. His death is the end of an eon that started with the beginning of the cultural renaissance in the valley. The culture of Kashmir like other facets of its life had suffered deeply during the alien and despotic rule. The people during those dark days of our history were not only taxed to fleece but were also subjected to all kinds of cultural aggressions. To see people submit to oppressive tax and coercive laws efforts had been made to demolish cultural and social ethos of this land of high values and traditions.
The political awakening that started in the second decade of the twentieth also brought in tow the cultural renaissance to Kashmir. It began slowly but reached zenith after the political movement touched its peaks and revived people's belief in their strengths. The cultural renaissance began with appearance of two distinguished poets Ghulam Ahmed Mehjoor and Abdul Ahad Azad on the literary firmament of the land that had made immense contribution to classical Sanskrit, Persian and Kashmiri literature. To Sanskrit literature it had given Kalhana, and Bilihana; to Persian Gani, Fani and thousand others and to Kashmiri Lal Ded and Sheikh Noor-u-Din Noorani. Mehjoor and Azad were followed by a host of poets Master Zinda Koul, Miriza Ghulam Hassan Arif Beg, Dilsoz, Dina Nath Nadim, Ghulam Nabi Firaq, Ghulam Rasool Nazki, Fazil Kashmiri, Rehman Rahi and Amin Kamil. The renaissance also saw scholars like Ghulam Mohi-u-Din Hajani and Akhtar Mohiudin emerging on the scene. It was not only a period of tryst with modern trends in poetry in Kashmir but also saw the mystic (sufi) poetry reaching its sublimity with the great maestros like Samad Mir and Abdul Ahad Zargar giving it new depths. It was not only Kashmiri and other languages literature that was revived but arts like theatre, painting, music and singing also had their rebirth. Like literature and other arts music also had suffered a setback during the tyrannical monarchical rule. True, that Sufiana Kalam and Chhakari because of lovers of music had survived but after the renaissance not only traditional music was revived but some new dimensions were added to it. The Sufiana Kalam blossomed under Ustad Ramzan Joo, Ghulam Muhammad Qalanbaf, Asad Gani and Muhammad Abdullah Tibetbaqal. Kashmir music covered milestones after milestones under maestros like Jagan Nath Sopori, Mohan Lal Aima, Shamboo Nath Sopori, Ghulam Nabi Bhat, Abdul Gani Namtahali, Sanaullah and others. The period also saw whole range of singers with melodious voices endearing themselves to the peasants and the elite alike. These great singers that included Raj Begum, Naseem Begum, Ghulam Muhammad Sofi, Habibullah, Bamboo brothers, Ghulam Nabi Doolwal, Abdul Gaffar and many others. Ghulam Hassan Sofi belonged to this great tribe of masters who have immortalized the Kashmiri music and with his departure a golden era of Kashmiri music has come to an end. Sofi who has given immortal lilting and melodious songs deserves to be honored. The newly established department of music and fine arts in Kashmir could be named after this great singer. It can't be denied that most of the music produced by these masters during the past seven decades has been lost not to be retrieved but some music by masters like Raj Begum, Naseem Begum, Ghulam Muhammad Sofi, Master Muhammad Abdullah Tibet Baqal, Mohan Lal Aima, Ghulam Muhammad Qalanbaf and Ramzan Joo still exists in the archives of Radio Kashmir. There is need for declaring these compositions as national assets. Let's archive this treasure.