On 26 Aug 2020, falls the Lalleshwari Jayanti.
Lalleshwari, lovingly called Lalla Ded (1335-1376 CE) by Kashmiris, was born at Pandrethan, near Srinagar, in Kashmir, over 600 years ago. She was born in most critical and turbulent times, when the indigenous beliefs and the alien value systems were clashing ominously with the advent of Islam into the valley. She was married at an early age as was the custom those days. However, disillusionment soon set in, as her in-laws ill-treated her. Consequently, she gave up all worldly pursuits and found her guru in Sidh Srikanth, who initiated her into Shaivism. It is also possible that she did study a wide range of the seminal texts of Kashmir Shaivism. Soon thereafter, he experienced divine bliss and started reciting vaakhs in Kashmiri language, that manifested her deep spiritual experiences. As time went by, her vaakhs became more intensely laden with her anguished outpourings, reflecting her profound mystical insight into reality and deep understanding of human surroundings. Her vaakhs became a mirror of her compassionate vision for the spiritual liberation of mankind through Shaivic worldview. “Through her simple but spontaneous utterances she attunes our mind to the presence of the divine, as the one consciousness pervading the whole universe.”It appears that she was aware of the profound affect her vaakhs had on the minds of the people, as one of her most poignant vaakhs mentions:
“Dress yourself in the clothes of knowledge
And on your heart inscribe what Lalla said in verse
For through meditation on sacred symbol, Om,
Lalla became absorbed in the light of consciousness
And thus, she overcame the fear of death.”
For her, the whole universe represented consciousness, vibrating at every level and in every atom. She played a remarkable role in saving the indigenous culture from collapsing and ensured its continuity by conveying the essence of Kashmiri Shaivism to masses, in their own natural tongue. Lal Ded had a keen intellect, sharp observation, and a clear expression, which she used effectively to present a vivid account of her experiences, while seeking the truth. She graphically describes the phenomenon of experiencing an intense ecstasy while synchronising the energies of the physical body with that of the nature, in various vaakhs, thus:
“Neerith gachann, teelith evaan
lall bo paaniiy dayee chas”
(“I transform myself into vibrational (energy) form, and through it
I travel into the cosmos and then come back to my physical form
again. Lo! I am the embodiment of the Lord.”)
“Dam dam man omkaar pranvoom
Paniiye paraan paaniiye bozaan”
(“I recited the blissful word Omkaar with such zeal that it created
an ecstasy of bliss.”)
“Dammaa dam kormas daman haalaiy
Pkazlyome deep ta nanaiyam zaat.”
(“On breathing at ease with complete rhythm of the word,
I trained my mind to enter the visionary gleam and realised
the essence of my spirit.”)
“Ajapaa gaayatri hamsa hamsa zapith”
(“While indulging in meditation, take deep breaths and
pay close attention to your exhaling and inhaling,
in a calm and composed manner.”)
In the above vaakh, Lalla is urging the Sadhak to focus on ‘soo’ and ‘ham’ sounds produced during deep breathing. These sounds produce energy levels in wave form which help achieve a divine bliss.
By practising meditation in the manner as done by Lal Ded, it is possible to realise the merger of one’s spirit with the infinite. These vaakhs give an insight into her spiritual attainment.
“Lalleshwari was not the first Yogini of the Kashmir Shaivism. Others, like Keyuravati, Madanika and Kalyanika before her, were such adepts of the ‘Doctrine of the Krama’ school of philosophy, that they imparted its knowledge to famed aspirants like, Yogaraja, Bhanuka and Eraka, who in turn, took this philosophy down south into the Chola empire.” But, undoubtedly, she was Kashmir’s greatest saint mystic. Her vaakhs, which ooze spirituality and practical emotions, are a happy blend of spirituality and poetic mysticism, which have immortalized her. In these, we hear the first heartbeat of Kashmiri poetry. “Her four line verses were crisp and aphoristic and easy for common Kashmiri to memorise. The imagery of her poetry was taken from everyday life of Kashmiri Pandits.”These have retained their freshness and purity to
this day. She was a symbol of the continuity of 5000 years of Kashmir’s civilisational ethos. As a tradition, all Kashmiri Pandit music functions begin with Lalla Vaakhs.
Towards the end of her short life she became a wandering mystic giving expression to the universal truths. She eulogised the path of Yoga for achieving Moksha, attracting followers from both, Hindu and Muslim faiths. During her lifetime, she became a saint, mystic, a poet and a Yogini, all rolled into one. Rajanaka Bhaskara penned down 60 of her Vaakhs for the first time in Sharda and translated
them into Sanskrit in the eighteenth century.“She bequeathed her legacy of spiritualism, ascetism and religious tolerance to the younger saint Nunda Rishi, who admired her as an Avatar.”
-Col. Tej K Tikoo