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The Kashmir Education, culture and Science Society (Regd.)
  Community - Prominent Kashmiris
Zinda Kaul Masterji
Zinda Kaul (1884-1965) acquired the title Masterji from his disciples
His father, Pandit Lakshman Pandit, belonged to the lower middle class and was indifferent to Masterji’s formal education. Masterji started learning Persian from Pandit Bal Kak Jan and later joined Pandit Damodar’s private school. At the age of nine, he composed his first couplet. At the age of 13, he recited his first poem to a gathering at Raghunath Mandir.
His earlier work was in Urdu and Persian. One of his Urdu poems Aha Ha Kalarki is often mentioned. This satirical poem was composed after he was appointed as a clerk in the A.G.’s office. He also wrote patriotic songs and satires on man and society.
He also published some Hindi poems in Patra Pushpa (1940). In 1939, Masterji retired from the post of a translator in the Publicity Office.
Before his retirement, he had written only one Kashmiri lyric in 1910.In 1942, he recited his second Kashmiri poem Paninya Kath at Sri Pratap College.
In 1944, the poem Sumran (the rosary as a token of love) was published. It earned him a permanent position as an important Kashmiri poet. Sumran is a very complex poem, attaining a sort of Hegelian idealism and saguna bhakti of the type Surdas presented in Hindi. In 1951, he used the title Sumran for his collection of thirteen poems that he translated into English and published himself. The two volumes of Sumran contain three dozen poems and his total output in Kashmiri is not more than fifty poems or so.
In their tone the poems have a therapeutic effect. They are the musings of a bhakta. One can understand why during the 1940s, when everything seemed to be out of joint in Kashmir, his poetry was considered, perhaps too harshly, as the poetry of the thokurkuthh. Masterji basically belongs to the tradition of mystic poetry, particularly the bhakti tradition of Parmanand.
The symbolism in his poems reminds one of a saguna bhakta. In his poem Razi, he speaks of the king (Atma) having descended from the plane of pure spirit and come here to amuse himself.
He is here the cow or sheep, and there the cat or tiger,
There he is a Buddha, a Shankara, or a Tagore
And here he is a simpleton like myself.
Thus has he come to amuse himself.
This type of symbolism is all pervasive in poems such as natayari, Joog, Sanyas and Sheen ha volun.
Masterji’s philosophy is difficult to comprehend, but in one of his letters, he has provided a clue: “If I had another life to live, I would have firm faith in God as the highest ideal of Truth, Goodness and Beauty. I would make my religion what is common to all religions, namely belief in the highest ideal and worship of the highest by unselfish service rendered to all living beings.”
The impact of Masterji was not like that of Nadim or Mehjoor. He did not create any literary disciples. The small group of Kashmiri Pandits who surrounded him treated him as a spiritual guru. It is not surprising that the philosopher Naravane compares Masterji with the majestic Amarnath Cave, “one representing physical altitude and the other representing spiritual elevation; and both conveying a profound sense of profundity.”
His famous poem Sumran is reproduced below:
Sumran panun ditsonam premuk nishaana vesiye,
Ratsarun togum na rovum, osum na baana vesiye;
Path kaali chum na diutmut son mokhta dana vesiye,
Any saari kyaah labakh vony tim mokhta daana vesiye.

(Listen, my friend! He gave me His rosary as a token of His love, but alas! I failed to take care of it and lost it! I was unworthy. I have no hope to recover those precious beads by groping in my blindness. To be so lucky one must have donated valuable gifts to the poor in one’s past lives, which I have not.)
Vaelinji manz thavun gochh haavun thovum athas paethh,
Raah kas chhu, kor me paanas nokhsaan paana vesiye.
Haavun chhu raavaraavun, chaavuk samar chhe khaemi,
Thaavaan zi chhaava baapath baanan chhi thhaana vesiye.

(I ought to have treasured it in my heart but I held it in my hand to make a show of it. So no one else is to blame; I myself am responsible for such grievous loss. To show one’s treasure is to lose it; impatience leads to imperfection; people keep lids on their kettles so that the rice may be cooked perfectly.)
Yan suy nishaana rovum, tana maets gaemits ta phalavaa,
Nyun hyon na kenh ti, pheraan chhas vaana-vaana vesiye;
Vesarun panun vanas kyaa,buth maa samem dohas thi,
Kuny zany timan vatan manz, gatsa kot shabana vesiye.

(Since I have lost this token, I go, like one out of wits, from shop to shop without meaning to buy or beg anything. (Those who go from faith to faith grasp none.) How can I explain my lapses, slips and falls? How can I face Him during the day? And I cannot go to Him alone also in the dark, dangerous night.)


Yach pach ma haar;byaakhaa heth yoory vaati kaanchhaa,
Tas chhaa kami nishaanan,bary-bary khazaana vesiye.
Dolaan kohan vanan manz,sholaan chhi gulshanan manz,
Zotaan chhi taarakan manz,kaetyaah nishaana vesiye.

(Dear friend, pray do not lose hope and faith; no wonder if someone comes to you with another love token. He has no dearth of tokens; His treasures are full. His tokens are lying ungathered in hills and woods, or brightly blooming in flowerbeds, or scintillating among the stars.)
Vesarith dalith pathar peth,buth kyaa dimav tamis nish,
Pot pheraniky pakaan chhaa yithy hi bahaana vesiye;
Maanav zi asy hemav pot,chhoryaa tasund mohabath,
Paivand yi aadanuk chhaa shury dostaana vesiye.

(You say:”How can we face him after all our slips and falls?” Such lame excuses to turn back from devotion will not do. For supposing we withdraw, can His love let us go? The eternal bond (between the human soul and God) is not fragile and flimsy like a child’s friendship.)
Dil phuti-mataen chhu toshaan, yechh gari-mataen chhu roshaan,
Gachh vaeri-mataen Sudaaman, prichh gaayibaana vesiye.
Andy-pakhy tati chhu aasaan, bodabror Surdaasun,
Bozaan chhu maay laegith, loliky taraana vesiye.

(He loves the humble repentant; though He pretends to be angry with those who are sophisticated. If you do not believe me, go and ask aside His popular devotees like Sudama who had won His love. He, the all-knowing innocent child, is never far from saints like Surdas and listens quietly to their devotional songs.)
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