Lal Ded, Lal Didi, or Lalleshwari (1320–1392) was a Kashmiri Saivite mystic, whose mystic poetry (called vatsun or vakhs, i.e. that which flows, or speech, the Aryan name for the Oxus, the original Saraswati) constitute some of the earliest compositions in the Kashmiri language.
Born in Pandrethan (the ancient Puranadhisthana), now engulfed by Srinagar, in a Kashmiri Pandit family, Lal Ded was married off at the age of twelve; the marriage proved unhappy, she left home at twenty-four to take sanyas as a disciple of the Saivite mystic Siddha Srikantha (Sed Bayu.) The mystic tradition of Saivism in Kashmir (known as Trika) had a tremendous impact on Kashmiri Sufism. One of the greatest of popular Kashmiri Sufi figures, Sheikh Noor-ud-din Wali, the patron Sufi of Kashmiriyat, also known as Nooruddin Rishi or Nunda Rishi, was influenced by Lal Ded; the folk tradition holds that as a baby Nunda Rishi refused to be breast-fed by his mother and it was Lal Ded who breast-fed him, metaphorically locating in the sustenance of Kashmiri Sufism in the earlier tradition of Saivite mysticism.
Some vakhs of Lal Ded below.
Shiv chuy thali thali rozan
Mo zan Hindu ta Musalman
Truk ay chuk pan panun prazanav,
Soy chay sahibas zaniy zan.
Shiv lives in every, every place;
do not divide Hindu from Musalman.
Use thy sense, recognize thyself;
That's the true way to find the Lord.
Ami pana so'dras naavi ches lamaan
Kati bozi Day myon meyti diyi taar
Ameyn taakeyn poniy zan shemaan
Zuv chum bramaan gara gatshaha.
With rope of loose-spun thread I tow my boat
Would that God heard me and brought me across
Like water in cup of unbaked clay I run to waste.
Would that God helped me reach my home!
Kyaah kara paantsan dahan ta kaahan,
Vakhshun yath leyji jivak-shun karith gay
Saoriy samahan yeythi razi lamahan
Atma raavhe kaahan gaav?
Ah me! the Five (bhutas) and the Ten (indriyas)
And the Eleventh (their lord the mind) scraped this pot and went away
Had all together pulled on the rope,
Why should the Eleventh have lost the cow ?
(Why should the soul have gone astray?)
(The five bhutas or elements are Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Quintessence or Space. The ten indriyas or mental faculties consist of the five "importers" seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching; and the five "exporters" moving, speaking, grasping, reproducing, eliminating. The notion of pot here is the Saivite metaphor for the material body.)
After his travels in Kashmir where he was exposed to Lal Ded's folklore, Swami Vivekananda wrote that he envisioned a future India arising from the present strife with Vedanta for its mind and Islam for its body. (For those of you who propose a subcontinental Butter Chicken XI consisting of Pakistani bowlers and Indian batsmen, you have an illustrious pedigree.)
A bibliography and collection of Lal Ded's vakhs is here.
शिव चुय थलि थलि रोज़ान, मो ज़ान हिंदू ता मुसलमान |