The Great Lady: Lal Ded

Lal Ded (known as mother Lal or mother Lalla) was a Kashmiri mystic of the Kashmir Shaivism school of philosophy. She was known by different names at different places like Laleshwari ( in some parts of the subcontinent) , Lal Dyad (where Dyad means grandmother), Lalla Arifa, Lal didi, Lalla Yogeshwar/ Yogeshwari and Lalishri. Her earliest compositions were in the Kashmiri language where the verses were known as Lal Vakhs. Lal’s poems represented the essence of mystic tradition with a blend of Islamic, Sufic, Sanskritic, Sikh culture. She was deeply influenced by the Indian sub-continental scripts. A total of 285 poems, known as Vakhs are attributed to Lal ded. Lal Ded’s poems represent some of the earliest known works of Kashmiri literature and were written as Kashmiri began to emerge as a distinct language from Apabhramsa-Prakrit, which was spoken in North India.


A selection from Vakhs:-


I wore myself out, looking for myself.

No one could have worked harder to break the code.

I lost myself in myself and found a wine cellar. Nectar, I tell you.

There were jars and jars of the good stuff, and no one to drink it.



What the books taught me, I’ve practised.

What they didn’t teach me, I’ve taught myself.

I’ve gone into the forest and wrestled with the lion.

I didn’t get this far by teaching one thing and doing another.



Some, who have closed their eyes, are wide awake.

Some, who look out at the world, are fast asleep.

Some, who bathe in sacred pools remain dirty.

Some are at home in the world but keep their hands clean.



Didn’t think I did all this to get famous.

I never cared for the good things in life.

I always ate sensibly. I knew hunger well, and sorrow, and God.


Tuba Naquib

Class XI

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