“Vaishnav Jan to” in Kashmiri language

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The idea behind making this video is to introduce Gandhi and Gandhian thoughts into Kashmir valley … writes Kusum Kaull Vyass

Gandhiji’s favorite Bhajan, usually called Gandhi’s song ‘Vaishnav Jan To’, is in the Gujarati language. Most people don’t understand what this song means and why Gandhiji chose this song written by Narsinh Mehta in 15th century Gujarat. The song is about humanity and how people should live and for each other. I felt a great need to translate this song into Kashmiri language and put it into the folk music of the valley, so that  Kashmiris  can relate with it easily through their own language,  music and singer.

Gandhi’s life and ideologies have had a significant influence on my life since childhood, and I’m blessed that I have been living in the land of Gandhi after the forceful migration from Kashmir. The way Narsinh Mehta’s written Bhajan is still influencing us after 600 years, I foresee the impact of this translation in the valley for generations to come.

About five years back, a famous journalist and writer, Mr. Mayank Chhaya from Chicago, USA, had made a film ‘Gandhi’s Song’. The film was about Narsinh Mehta and why Gandhiji adapted this as his favorite Bhajan. At that time, I helped him in the production work. Now I feel that the seed of Vaishnav Jan To was firmly planted in my mind at the of making that film.

During the long months of lockdown in the country, I had ample time to read, write, and think about various subjects in life. I often struggle with myself as to how I can contribute to bringing peace back to the Kashmir valley.

Gandhiji has been an apostle of peace and humanity. What better way to put a peaceful vibration into the valley, through local language and folk music. With a missionary zeal, I called up the most famous folk singer Shri Gulzar Ahmed Ganai, from Kashmir. Hesitatingly, I explained my thought to him, feeling that this idea may not appeal to him, but to my surprise, he understood and liked the idea with equal enthusiasm. I felt we were on the same wavelength, and we had blessings of Gandhiji to go ahead. Shri. Shahbaaz Hakbari, a famous poet of the valley, translated this beautiful song into the Kashmiri language. My father, Raees Brij Krishan Kaul, wrote the Urdu song first, then it got translated in Kashmiri. This dream came true when the song was shot at different famous places in the valley.       

It was a spiritual journey for me while making,” Vaishnav Jan To” in Kashmiri language.

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