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Kashmir Shaivism
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Srinagar, Kashmir, India
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Lalleshwari (लल्लेश्वरी) (1320 – 1392) also known as Lalla or Lal Ded was a Hindu saint-poetess and a mystic of the Kashmiri Shaivite sect . She is a creator of the mystic poetry called vatsun or Vakhs, literally 'speech'. Known as Lal Vakhs, her verses are the earliest compositions in the Kashmiri language and are an important part in history of Kashmiri literature .

Lal Ded and her mystic musings continue to have a deep impact on the psyche of Kashmiri common man, and the 2000 National Seminar on her held at New Delhi, led to the release of book - Remembering Lal Ded in Modern Times. A solo play in English, Hindi and Kashmiri, titled, 'Lal Ded' based on her life, has been performed by actress Mita Vashisht, all over India, since 2004 .

Lalleshwari was born in Pandrethan (ancient Puranadhisthana) some four and a half miles to the southeast of Srinagar . She married at age twelve, but her marriage was unhappy and she left home at twenty-four to take sanyas (renunciation) and become a disciple of the Shaivite guru Siddha Srikantha (Sed Bayu). She eventually converted to Islam and continued to the Mystic tradition of Shaivism, being seen as many as the founder of Sufi Mystic Rishi movement in Kashmir.

Many legends and stories remain about Lalla. One in particular tells of how Lalla, who ignored the normal convention of dress, choosing to wander around naked, was teased by several children. A nearby cloth merchant scolded the children for their disrespect. Lalla asked the merchant for two lengths of cloth, equal in weight. That day as she walked around naked, she wore a piece of cloth over each shoulder, and as she met with respect or scorn, she tied a knot in one or another. In the evening, she brought the cloth back to the merchant, and asked him to weigh them again. The cloths were equal in weight, no matter how many knots were in each. Respect and scorn have no weight of their own.



Her poems (called vakhs) have been translated into English by Richard Temple, Jia Lal Kilam, Coleman Barks, and Jaishree Odin.

Lal Vakh

Lal Vakh, literally mean sayings of Lal or Lal Ded:

Lal Vakh in Kashmiri

yi yi karu'm suy artsun
yi rasini vichoarum thi mantar
yihay lagamo dhahas partsun
suy Parasivun tanthar -138

Whatever work I did became worship of the Lord;
Whatever word I uttered became a mantra;
Whatever this body of mine experienced became
the sadhana-s of Saiva Tantra
illumining my path to Parmasiva. -138

Lal Vakh in Hindi

प्रेम की ओखली में हृदय कूटा प्रकृति पवित्र की पवन से। जलायी भूनी स्वयं चूसी शंकर पाया उसी से।।

हम ही थे, हम ही होंगे हम ही ने चिरकाल से दौर किये सूर्योदय और अस्त का कभी अन्त नहीं होगा शिव की उपासना कभी समाप्त नहीं होगी।