Prominent Kashmiri poet and educationist Prof. Rehman Rahi, passed away at 98. Known as the “Ghalib of Kashmiri poetry,” his contributions to the promotion and development of the language will be remembered.
By Rayees Ahmad Kumar
The passing of Prof. Rehman Rahi, a renowned poet, lyricist, critic, educationist, translator, and litterateur, marked a significant loss to the Kashmiri language and literature. Prof. Rahi, who passed away at 98 after a brief illness, was experimental and instrumental in his poetry, earning the title of “Ghalib of Kashmiri poetry.” His unique style in poetry compelled others to follow suit, and his contributions to promoting and developing Kashmiri literature and language have left a lasting impact.
Prof. Rahi’s legacy as a poet of the highest stature, not only in the valley but also in the whole subcontinent, has created his own idioms for expression and set him apart from his contemporaries. His artistic skills and accomplishments have widened the poetic world of Kashmiri language and literature.
His passing marks the loss of an era of literature, the loss of a big culturist, and above all, the loss of an institution. The credit for honouring Kashmiri language and literature at the national level goes to none other than the late Prof. Rahi. He was an iconic litterateur with a progressive mindset, as can be understood from these couplets of Rahi:
Zinda rozana bapath chi maraan lukh chii marakh naa,
Loti pathi cheakha pyala kyho uff ti karakh naa.
Zamanas chi kam kam subah shaam hawin,
Chi wien zindagi keath rang azmawin.
Throughout his career, Prof. Rahi received numerous accolades for his contributions to literature. He was a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi Award, the Padma Shri, and the Padma Bhushan, among other prestigious awards. His most notable works include “Chinare” (The Peacocks), “Phir Wahi Raat” (That Night Again), and “Nath-i-Nath” (The Master of Masters).
His poetry collections have been widely read and praised for their depth and insight into the human condition. His poetry is appreciated for its simplicity, introspection and a mix of love, sorrow and defiance.
“Prof. Rehman Rahi was a renowned poet, lyricist, critic, educationist, translator, and litterateur. He was known as the “Ghalib of Kashmiri poetry” for his unique style and contributions to the promotion and development of the Kashmiri language and literature. His legacy includes his own idioms for expression and an effort to introduce the language in schools and colleges throughout the valley.
His songs and lyrics, sung by noted vocalists like Raja Begum, Raja Bilal and Vijay Kumar Malla, further beatified his works and are sung during weddings, paddy cultivation, and harvest seasons by the local folks. His songs not only touch the hearts of the listeners but also give a glimpse of the rich culture and tradition of Kashmiri people.
Prior to Prof. Rahi, Kashmiri literature depicted romance, folklore, and mysticism, but his efforts widened the canvas of Kashmiri literature by making a sea change in its sphere. His poetry not only depicted these traditional themes but also highlighted the political and social issues faced by the people of Kashmir.
Dil chu pranan kathan sanan bazay,
Seeni manz nara koul anan bazay.
Born in 1925 in Srinagar, Prof. Rahi did his schooling at Islamia High School and later post-graduation in Persian and English literature from Jammu Kashmir University. He was a lecturer at the university’s Persian department, and under his leadership, a full-fledged department of Kashmiri was established in 1977. He served in the department until his retirement in 1983. Prof. Rahi will also be remembered for his efforts to introduce Kashmiri as a full-fledged compulsory subject in schools and colleges throughout the valley.
Prof. Rahi’s efforts to introduce Kashmiri as a full-fledged compulsory subject in schools and colleges throughout the valley is an important step for preserving the language and culture and the overall development of the valley. His contributions to promoting and developing Kashmiri literature and language have left a lasting impact and will be remembered for generations to come. He will always be remembered as an icon of Kashmiri literature, a true ambassador of the language and culture of the people of Kashmir.