Prof Rehman Rahi: The ‘Ghalib’ of Kashmiri poetry
By: Rayees Ahmad Kumar
Zinda rozana bapath chi maraan lukh chii marakh naa,
Loti pathi cheakha pyala kyho uff ti karakh naa.
Distinguished poet, lyricist, critique, educationist, translator and a noted litterateur Prof Rehman Rahi died few days before at his Vicharnag Srinagar residence after a brief illness at 98.
Rahi’s departure is a great loss to the Kashmiri language and literature. Prof Rehman Rahi was truly experimental and instrumental in his poetry. If we call him Ghalib of Kashmiri poetry I think it isn’t any exaggeration rather he deserves the title. He dealt with all aspects of humanity in his writings.
Prof Rahi was an inspiration for hundreds of literary workers who work for the promotion and development of Kashmiri literature and language. He had a unique style in his poetry and he compelled others to follow the suit. It is really a great loss to the school of literature of Kashmiri.
The passing away of Prof Rehman Rahi marks the lost of an era of literature, the loss of a big culturist and above all the loss of an institution. Prof Rahi’s legacy of having created his own idioms for his expression sets him apart from his contemporaries.
He had a unique and distinctive approach for the Kashmiri culture, language and literature. His artistic skills and accomplishments have widened the poetic world of Kashmiri language and literature. Prof Rahi was a poet of highest stature not only of valley but of whole subcontinent.
He was among the great Indian contemporaries and an icon of Kashmiri literature. The credit for honouring Kashmiri language and literature at national level goes to none other the late Rahi. He has done an outstanding contribution for the development and promotion of Kashmiri literature and language. His loss is a tragedy for Kashmiri as he was our pride. We owe him a lot. Rahi was an iconic litteratuer with a progressive mindset as can be understood from these couplets of Rahi …..
Zamanas chi kam kam subah shaam hawin,
Chi wien zindagi keath rang azmawin.
Prof Rehman Rahi was a living legend whose poetry and other melodious lyrics represent our culture, tradition and ethos. His songs and lyrics are sung by most noted and famed vocalists. Raja Begum, Raja Bilal and Vijay Kumar Malla have further beatified his works through their exceptional soulful voices.
That is why Rahi’s songs are sung during weddings, paddy cultivation and harvest season by our female folks. Prior to Rehman Rahi Kashmiri literature depicted romance, folklore and mysticism but the efforts and emergence of Rahi on poetic horizons widened the canvas of Kashmiri literature by making a sea change in it’s sphere.
Dil chu pranan kathan sanan bazay,
Seeni manz nara koul anan bazay.
He is the greatest poet of 20th century and a natural poet. Born in 1925 at Srinagar, Prof Rehman Rahi did his schooling from Islamia High School. He did his first post graduation in Persian and a decade later another PG in English literature from erstwhile Jammu Kashmir University.
He was first appointed as a clerk in PDD department and then a lecturer in a college. He taught at Kashmir University’s Persian department. Under his dynamic leadership and guidance a full-fledged department of Kashmiri was established at Kashmir University in 1977. First a diploma course was done there and later on it progressed by leaps and bounds to extent that postgraduate course in Kashmiri soon was launched by the department. Kashmir University like a poor person who builds his dwelling place by the materials collected through begging from different locations.
Late Rahi served at the department of Kashmiri till his retirement in 1983. Rehman Rahi will also be remembered for his brave efforts for the introduction of Kashmiri as a full-fledged compulsory subject from primary to university level in all schools and colleges of valley. His services for the promotion of Kashmiri language is an eye opener for those who erect unnecessary hurdles in the way of mother-tongue promotion.
Although he was well versed in English, Persian and Urdu but he chose Kashmiri his mother-tongue as the medium of his expression of ideas, thoughts and opinions. Rahi was drawn to poetry from his childhood that is why he rose to the position of global poet and authored dozens of books.
A number of awards and honours were given to this great son of our soil for his exemplary works. He was awarded Sahitya Academy award in 1961 for his poetry collection Nouroz i Saba. He was awarded Padma Shri in 2000 and country’s highest literary award Gnanpith in 2007 for his poetry collection Siyah Rood Jearan Manz.
Infact he is the only one to recieve this highest literary award from Kashmir. Acknowledged for his tremendous vocabulary and depth of word meaning Rehman Rahi is regarded as the original poet of Kashmiri as can be comprehended from this couplet….
Su gulab roye dyuthum bayi az gulab chawan,
Mei chi wen misalini manz rambiwun khayal rawan.
Prof Rehman Rahi is no more with us but his legacy will live on as it will continue to guide and mentor the future generation trying their luck in poetry and literary field. May his soul rest in peace.
(The author is a columnist and hails from Qazigund Kashmir)