Thursday, June 30, 2011


Panel of ministers highlight poet’s contribution, hail facility as befitting tribute
Srinagar, June 30 (Only Kashmir)- Department of Libraries & Research today turned a new page in the cultural history of Kashmir when it threw open a public library and reading room dedicated to the memory of the legendary Persian poet of the 17th century Kashmir, Gani Kashmiri.
Housed in the ancestral home of the iconic versifier, redone at a cost of Rs. 41.83 lakhs, the Gani Memorial Library & Reading Centre was today inaugurated by the Minister for Tourism & Culture, Nawang Rigzin Jora at Rajouri Kadal in the old Srinagar city, at a stone’s throw from the Valley’s Grand Mosque. Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Ali Muhammad Sagar, Minister of State for Home, Tourism, Culture, Housing, Urban Development and PHE, Nasir Aslam Wani, MLA Peer Afaq Ahmad and Director Libraries & Research, Khalid Bashir Ahmad were present.
The library was originally set up as a reading centre in the year 1971 in a rented accommodation, subsequently shifted to the residential house of Gani Kashmiri. However, it had to be again shifted out due to the dilapidated condition of the house. The new accommodation is a redone structure with dimensions and interior specifications of the original house retained. The construction was started in the year 2001. The work was halted for some time and then restarted albeit with slow pace until the just concluded financial year 2010-11 when the construction work was speeded up.
The library has a collection of about 8000 books on different subjects. A special Career Corner has been added for the benefit of students preparing for the competitive exams. Reference Section, General Section, Children’s Corner, Kashmiri Section and Reading Room are other facilities available.
The Ministers hailed the significant contribution of Gani Kashmir to the Persian literature and the name and fame it brought to Kashmir. They said that setting up of the library and reading room in his name was a befitting tribute to the greatest son of Kashmir. They asked the local people especially the youth to take full advantage of the facility and specifically referred to the collection of titles on competitive examinations.
Earlier, Khalid Bashir Ahmad briefed the Ministers about the latest initiatives taken by the Department of Libraries to improve library facilities. He said automation and networking of public libraries was one such important measure being taken by the Department very shortly. He also introduced the Ministers to the various sections of the Gani Memorial Library & Reading Centre.
Gani Kashmiri is an unrivalled Persian poet whose reputation transcended the boundaries of Indian sub-continent during his life time. His name was Muhammad Tahir. Gani was his penname and he became famous as Gani Kashmiri. Much is not known about his earlier life. His family surname was Asahie. He was born at Rajouri Kadal and lived most of his life there. His ancestors are believed to have migrated from Central Asia few centuries prior to his birth. He lies buried a little distance away from his house.
Gani is believed to have been born in the 11th century Hijra, corresponding to 17th century A.D., though there is difference of opinion among scholars about the exact year. Some believe he died at a young age of 41 but his various verses allude to the fact that he lived much longer and passed away as an aged person. He was formally educated and attained proficiency in literature, philosophy and medicine. Sheikh Mohsin Fani was his teacher.
Gani’s verses earned him a place of pride in India, Afghanistan, Central Asia and Iran, the seat of Persian language and literature. His verses were in such demand that people in Iran would ask anyone returning from India if he had brought some gift from Kashmir for them, meaning Gani’s latest verses. It is said that famous Persian poet, Saayib who visited Gani in Kashmir to enquire the meaning of a Kahsmiri word Kralepan (potter’s thread) used in one of his famous verses, Moi miyan tu shudah kralepan Kard juda kasa-e-sar ha zi tan, wanted to trade his entire poetic collection with just one verse of Gani Kashmiri. The doyen of Urdu poetry, Mir Taqi Mir boastfully claims to have profited from Gani’s poetic collection. Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal, another illustrious son of Kashmir and legendry Urdu poet, is one of the ardent admirers of Gani’s poetic prowess. Writes he in one of his verses: Shair-o-rangeen nawa Tahir Gani Faqr o batin Gani, zahir Gani.
An outstanding poet that he was he commanded awe and respect from men of letters and common people alike. However, he was a man of simplicity who did not seek any favours from the ruling class or the nobility. In fact, he kept himself aloof from pomp and show and lived a life of a recluse. He declined the invitation of Emperor Auranzeb to visit him in Delhi. His heart was pained to see the pathetic condition of his compatriots at the hands of the rulers and this pain found ample echo in his verses.
Gani’s first poetic collection was compiled by his worthy pupil, Muslim, one year after his demise. Muhammad Amin Daraab Kashmiri also compiled his collection which was published by J&K Academy of Art, Culture & Languages with annotations by Ali Jawad Zaidi. His poetry has been a favourite topic of research and publications.


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