Lal Malik popularly known by his pen name, Lala Argami, was an embodiment of syncretic sufi culture of Kashmir. Born on 11th March 1923 at Chattibanday Aragam, a small village in district Bandipora, Kashmir J&K.
Like other sufi poets of Kashmir his poetry too is grounded in local culture and he too preferred to use his own Kashmiri language for conveying his message and thoughts and connected the people with their language and culture.
Lala Aragami contributed a lot to Sufi poetry of Kashmir. Two editions of his poetry have been published so far and the second edition named “Kuliyati Lala Aragami is published by Shrine Committee in year 2008 is the latest one. The author of this column found this book unparalleled, and this lovely book prompted this author to write a column about this mystic poet and saint.
His father Dawood Malik and mother Dulat Ded were known for their simplicity, honesty and truthfulness in the village. As per family sources Lala Aragami was a gifted child and received education upto 8th standard. His parents gave him the knowledge of Quran, Fiqah and Hadith. He was married with Gasha Bibi, a noble lady of the village and had one daughter and three sons from her.
To feed his family, Lala Saeb Aragami worked as a milkman, labour and finally as an Imam of masjid. It is said that Lala Aragami loved sufi poetry and used to sing in sufi mehfils. This mystic poet set out for a spiritual journey at the age of 17. Under the tutelage of Shaban Saeb Slura, Lala Aragami learnt the basics of sufism.
After the demise of his first spiritual mentor, Lala Aragami felt shocked. One night he dreamt that Hazrat Shaban Saeb Slura handed him to another great spiritual teacher Hazrat Ama Saeb Kawa. Hazrat Ama Saeb Kawa was a great mystic from Charar e Sharief. It was very difficult to pass the tests of this mystic.
That is why he had no disciples other than Lala Saeb Aaragami. So Lala Aragmi deemed an honour to be his first disciple. Under his tutelage this mystic poet and saint reached the great spiritual heights. It is said that his spiritual mentor loved him much because he was very genius and hardworking disciple. It was from here that he learnt the knowledge of Shariah, Tareeqat, haqeeqat and maarifat Lala Aragami fallowed Qadriya and Chesti silsila of sufism.
This mystic poet and saint spent days and nights in meditations and prayers. He shunned all the comforts and pleasures, and lived a very simple life. He had a number of disciples through out the length and breadth of Kashmir. Some of his prominent disciples of are; Kamal Sahib Konen Bandipora, Mahad Sahib Pushwari, Khazir Sahib Kandi Kupwara, Gh. Mouhiddin Saeb Drugmulla Kupwara, Ghulam Mohammad Zarger Josh, Ghulam Hassan Mir Rednag Lolab, Jalla Sahib Bagroo Batmaloo, and more.
Some of his disciples are poets who have successfully taken forward the mystic mission of their spiritual teacher. A number of miracles are attributed with this mystic which are beyond explanation. One such is narrated by his prominent disciple Mohuddin saeb Drugmulla, who had multiple disorders. When his parents took him to the blessed darbar of Lal saeb, he began to walk and communicate. Gh. Mohuddin saeb is still alive and has a chain of disciples;popularly known as Kael bab saeb.
Lala Aragami voiced for brotherhood, hormony and simple living. His message was not confined to one race or one class but it was universal. He was not only a preacher of simple living but also a preacher of love and unity.
Lal saeb Aargmai wrote thousands of picturesque sufi poems. His poetry often deals with the true abstract qualities such as beauty and truth, and then relates how these qualities (as aspects of God) relate to the world around him. Beyond that, a common theme is the praise of prophets, sufi saints of Islam, hormony and brotherhood. Many of his poems are on the theme of a mystic’s quest for the primal cause of the universe.
Lala Aargami used Kashmiri idiom of his times, and also words from Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit. Almost all of his poetry is in Kashmiri language; most of his poems are sung by Sufi Singers in sufi mehfils. He introduced a new style in Kashmiri sufi poetry and took Kashmiri sufi poetry to great heights.
In one of his Kashmiri couplets, he exhorts a Kashmiri Pandit girl to have unrestrained devotion for her God as her favourite deity i.e. enshrined in the stone idol itself,
Bata Koori Vate Kanie Manj Chuai Dai,
Karee Pooja, Yinai Mushravak Lai.
His poetry has a deep spiritual meaning. The similes and the metaphors put to use by this mystic poet bring forth the intense appeal of Kashmiri Sufi poetry on the surface for further analysis.
Lal Aargami’s poetry is so impressive, and only those who are tethered to sufism can know its strength. For him love of Allah implied love of humanity.
His vision of the world was marked by a highly evolved sense of kindness and love. Lala Aragami was free from bias and boundaries and was adorned with divine endowment.
People loved and revered him much. Lala Aargami died at the young age of 63, on 27th August 1988, and was buried in his ancestral grave yard at Chattibanday Argame, Bandipora.
A beautiful shrine has been built there. Thousands of people visit his shrine. Three days are celebrated there every year. The shrine of Lala Aargami is thronged by the devotees and sufism lovers on these days .
On these days a Mehfil of sufi poets is held. Sufi poets and singers participate and perform in these mehfils. There is a committee to look after the shrine and feed the devotees who come from different parts of the valley. Lala Aargami’s shrine is visited and revered by people of all faiths. The shrine committee is headed by Habibullah Malik, Sajadah Nasheen, eldest son of Hazrat lal Saeb Aargami, who provided this author vital leads for this write-up. He too is a man of letters and of humble nature.
This mystic poet and saint used to love fasting and never took money from his disciples. Always looked for needy people and helped and guided them during his lifetime. He was an epitome of simple living. Known for the quality of his poetry and for the depth of his social and moral thoughts, Lal Aargami is widely famous as one of the greatest sufi poets of Kashmir.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.