Pandit Sarvanand Koul ‘Premi’: A Legendary Poet and Translator || Rajnath Bhat || LIVE IMAGE

                                              Pandit Sarvanand Koul ‘Premi’

Pandit Sarvanand Koul ‘Premi’ is a household name across Kashmir. His talent, simplicity, humbleness, intelligence impressed every person who came into his contact or who read his creative writing in the form of poetry or prose. He was widely read, a polyglot and a prolific writer who was in love with his native village, Sof-Shali (ancient Sanskrit name, Saft-Shaleshwar), which is surrounded by snow-clad mountains and is irrigated by clean waters from their melting snows. He loved teaching although with his educational achievements (M.A; B.Ed), he could have landed in any other ‘lucrative’ profession. He retired as the Head-Master of a High school.

A saintly person at heart, he desired to teach the young minds the benefits of non-violence and individual action that profit the society as a whole.  Sadly though, he was murdered in cold blood by mask-wearing goons in May 1990. His younger son was murdered along with him. Thus came to an end an eminent and enlightened mind who loved and trusted the people around him. 

He was a devout follower of Gandhi and his association with Dinanath ‘Nadim’ had turned him into a social reformer. A poet who had dreams of a bright tomorrow and who represented common sentiments of the common people in one of his poems laments the plight of the labourers, artisans and sculptors at the building of the monuments like ‘Taj Mahal’ whose construction satisfies the ruler but the ruled, including the labourers and sculptors, remain poverty-stricken and unsung.

He gave voice to just and peaceful aspirations of the people, for whom he had great love in his heart. Initially he would write Urdu and Hindi couplets and recite them among his close friends. But his associaton with some Masters persuaded him to write in his mother-tongue. It was Master Zinda Koul’s constant persuation that encouraged Sarvanand Koul to write in Kashmiri language in which he could express himself effectively. Thus, he achieved heights of creative writing in Kashmiri. He was a devout follower of ‘dharma’. He did not discriminate between faiths or sects.

His poetry is embellished with words from Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit. He described his village as a beautiful ‘valley’ walled around by tall deodar trees. His description of water-falls, falling-rain and spring-blooms in poetry is  enchanting and attract ones attention. 

He attributed his talent for creative writing to the all-powerful force that made life and everything around it possible. He has published twelve volumes of his creative writing and eighteen of his works remain unpublished.

His frequent visits to temples, and graves was a noteworthy feature of his personality. His poetry reflects his deep belief in ‘human’ intelligence where distinction of faith has no place. Little did he realize that his ‘secular’ attitude was under watch of the people who later butchered him along with his younger son.

‘Gitanjali’ impressed him immensely and he translated Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Gitanjali’ into Kashmiri. He would recite lines from it at appropriate occasions. Despite constant persuation by well-wishers, he expressed his unwillingness to migrate away from his home in Kashmir at the onset of religious terrorism in 1989-90. His reluctance to ‘run away’ cost him his life along with that of his younger son. ‘Premi’ and his son Virendra were brutally killed by the inhuman thugs and their mutilated bodies were found hanging from a tree-branch on 1st of May, 1990.

Thus came to an end the songs of a loving heart and a vibrant mind who aspired to bring development, peace and knowledge to the door-steps of the people around him. The memories remain so does the fragrance. Sarvanand Koul ‘Premi’ shall live on in the community folklore. His work shall inspire young creative minds for generations to come.

We hope that eighteen of his unpublished works will also reach the reader in print .

Pa:N tsa:dar by Sarvanand Koul ‘Premi’

Pa:N tsa:dar is a collection of ghazals, poems and songs authored/ sung by ‘Premi Kashmiri’-the poet romantic. He is in love with nature, with the toiling masses, with his prefession and with his deity that he worships.

In his ghazals he maintains a rhythmic-style that make his songs and poems worthy to sing. He employs people-friendy vocabulary in order to enable an ordinary villager appreciate his emotion.

In one of his ghazals, he invites his beloved saying that he (the beloved) must arrive because the poet in his eagerness to see him has put on special ‘apron’ to meet him. At another place, Premi compares his beloved to a fresh rose and tells him that he has grown beyond his youthful days waiting for him. Premi is in love with his ishtadeva (personal god)  whom he begs to come to him.

Premi has not only expressed his love for and his own preparedness to meet his ‘beloved’ but he has also sung words of praise for the enchanting beauty of his village. Premi dislikes disloyal and insincere people. At one place he writes: the dishonest people borrow and tend to forget the timely help.

Premi praises the youthful persons who do their hair well and take care of their personal hygiene as ‘youth of extraordinary beauty who are talked about across the town/village’. 

In one of his ghazals he laments that truth has been throttled in the society whereas falsehood has attained a higher pedestal.

In a song Premi expresses his deep love and pathos for the toiling masses who after day’s toil,  go to sleep in a cramped space along with their kids but the unpredictable weather disturbs their sleep as a heavy down-pour wakes them up, since their roof has pores through which rain-drops drench their sleeping space. It is a song that in addition to reflecting the toilers’ want and hard-work, also reflects Premi’s love for the changing season of his native place. 

In a long poem eulogising Taj Mahal at Agra as a symbol of eternal love, Premi praises the king who built this monument in memory of his deceased wife. In his poem Premi reads the mind of the ruler and says that he desired people to remember their fondness and love for each other years after they are no more around on earth. 

Ru:dI jariye  (flashes of rain) is a memorable poem included in pa:N tsa:dar (blanket of water) collection. Says the poet: the streams and rivers are roaring, the pits on the ground are full, even the irrigating veins of the vegetable gardens have become full,the soothing music of the falling rain is adding to our pleasure.

Premi has authored Vakh-s (sentences) too. These are four-liners, devotional creations with a philosophical bent. In one such ‘vakh’  Premi admires or suggests that depriving oneself of food (fasting) is a mode of training for the mind to learn to be patient. One can search for god’s grace only after fasting, says he. One must dedicate one’s body and mind to the deity, it is only then that some awakening will happen. 

On death,  the poet is straight and realistic. Upon someone’s death, people assemble and remark that the deceased was fated to die at this juncture. The people around express their view that the mortal-remains mut be taken to the cremation ground lest it gets late! Death is a certainty of life which cannot be delayed. One who is born is destined to die. The mortal-remains must be cremated ceremoniously at the earliest, the dearest ones say.

One can notice that the poet in Premi is a multi-demensional personality. He is knowledgeable and rooted. He appreciates the thought of constructing a monument to immortalise the then King’s ‘love’ for the queen; he admires blossoming flowers, flowing rivers and streams, falling rain and its musicality; on top of it all, he describes death as the final bell that nature rings into the being and the mortal-remains are swiftly carried to the cremation ground.  

Rajnath Bhat


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