Sayel Pandithpori was the embodiment of Kashmiri language and culture. Like other Kashmiri poets, he too preferred to use his own Kashmiri dialect for conveying his message and thoughts and connected people with their language and culture.
This lesser-known poet of Kashmir was born at a densely populated village called PandithPora. Pandithpora is a village in Langate Block in Kupwara district, J&K. His birth name was Abdul Subhan Naikoo. No authentic record or any document ascertaining his birth date is available. It is generally assumed that he was born around 1924. His father’s name was Abdul Ahad Naikoo. As per the family sources, Sayel Pandithpori was born with healthy and handsome physique. He proved very intelligent and a gifted child. Unfortunately he lost his eye sight at the age of 6 due to small pox. This deadly disease made him completely blind in both the eyes and had to depend on others for his everyday tasks. By that time, he had not even started singing or writing poems, which was the sole ambition in his life.
Apparently the life of Sayel Pandithpori was ruined, but his magnetic and impressive poetry made him the shining star of his age. In those days, radio and television were rare, people used to enjoy the folk songs of the local singers in wedding parties. He had a great admiration and was longing for folk music since his childhood.
Being a great fan of Kashmiri folk singers, he always attended such public shows. He used to practice these songs at his home. Under the tutelage of the local Imam, namely Pir Ali Shah, Sayel learnt nimaz and other fundamentals of Islam. Although he was blind yet he learnt every lesson of his teacher by heart. His lust for knowledge didn't stop. Latter on he went to Pir Yasin sahab who taught him Quran and Hadith.
In 1942 Sayel Pandithpori, with the help of local youth, founded his own singing party.The party became very famous in the area. whenever there was any marriage ceremony or any other function, he was always invited to enthral the audience. Nature had bestowed him a unique talent of singing as well. He not only preached the philosophy of “Simple living and high thinking” but also practiced it.
Sayel Pandithpori was married to a virtuous woman namely Azi Bagum and had a son from her.
To quote Rabindranath Tagore – “A lamp can never light another lamp, unless it continues to burn its own flame.” Sayel -Sahib did riyaz – disciplined practice, for hours on end, every day, so that he could attain perfection in the nuances of the art.
From romance to spirituality, he would sing with seamless ease and feeling. In doing so, he would drown in his experience of the song and leave indelible imprints on the souls of thousands of hearts.
Sayel Pandithpori was free from bias and boundaries and was adorned with divine endowment. This great singer and poet carved a niche and name for himself in the hearts of thousands for his devotion to Kashmiri poetry and life-long research to take this art to its zenith. This gifted poet had no lust for money and lime-light. He was a true servants of this sacred art, indifferent towards worldly pleasures and tastes.
Sayel Pandithpori sahib burst upon the literary scene after 1947 — a time when Kashmir was experiencing historic political changes. Chaos and instability in the region depressed him so much so that he bid adieu to his passion of singing. Thereafter he felt inclined towards Kashmiri sufism. He joined Molvi Abdul Kabir of an adjacent village Bicherwara. Molvi Ab. Kabir was a renowned scholar and a very prominent disciple of Hazrat Meerkh Shah Kashani (RA). One day he accompanied Molvi Ab. Kabir Sahib to meet Hazrat Syed Mirak Shah Kashani. As soon as they entered the blessed room, Hazrat Meerakh Shah Kashani stood up and kissed Sayel's forehead. Thus began his mystical journey. In the blessed "darbar" of Hazrat Meerakh Shah Kashani, he chose his pen name Sayel pandithpori as instead of Hafiz Aamahi Pandithpori.
Apart from Kashmiri Sufism, he wrote poetry on different social issues as well. There is a strange sweetness in his poetry. He was a regular radio listener. When Fazil Kashmir's poem "kral kour" became a house hold song, Sayel Pandithpori wrote a famous and magical poem "Kandrani' which had an electrifying effect on the audience and soon became the most compelling voice of his area. Both men and women used to sing his Kashmiri poems in marriage parties. Like John Milton, Sayel Pandith Pori too expressed unquestioning faith in the will of Allah. Towards the end of his life, Sayel wrote poetry on the hopelessness and helplessness of the old aged people.
Sayel pandithpori has written 285 poems. One volume of his poetry has been published. The symbolic techniques found in his poetry are unparallelled.
This lesser- known poet died on 8th of January 2015 at the age of 91. As per his last wish, he was buried in the graveyard of neighbouring village Humpora Langate.
He did not receive the kind of critical acclaim that he so deserved. Despite being lesser known, humility was his sole ideal; lost in the quest of inaccessible reaches of poetry, Sayel Pandithpori lived an austere life.