Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Sarwanand Koul Premi – A journey of scholastic attainments

By Upender Ambardar

Shri Sarwanand Koul Premi occupies an exalted place in the literary landscape of Kashmir. He was a highly acclaimed writer, a distinguished poet, a reputed transcriber, a well-known academician, a noted journalist and a progressive thinker – all combined in one. A plethora of thoughtfully written books and write ups on varying subjects mark him as a celebrated writer and poet. He is also remembered as an author whose writings were always anchored with purpose. All the pragmatic values and incontestable conventions that a social fabric holds were dear to him. Many of his writings and the poetic outpourings are laden with hidden meanings and whip up a vintage feel amongst the readers.

Shri Sarwanand Koul Premi was born in the salubrious scenic hamlet of Souf Shali, District Anantnag on Nov 1, 1924 to Lt Shri Gopinath Koul and
Smt Omravati Koul. He had his basic schooling at his native place and passed his matriculation from the Punjab University in 1939 with distinction. He had an insatiable hunger for higher learning, which made him opt for Post Graduation in Hindi and later on, he also completed his B.Ed. He was initially employed with the Deptt of Khadi and Village Industries Board, more popularly known as Khadi Bhandaar, where he worked for about 8 years. Here, he came under the spell of Gandhian thought, which prompted him to become an advocate of the freedom struggle movement in the country. During the Pakistan sponsored tribal raid on Kashmir in Oct 1947, he contributed his journalistic might to counter their spiteful disinformation. He also worked as a Columnist for “Khidmat”, the daily Urdu newspaper as well as “Desh”, the weekly magazine. His hard reporting did not find favor with the then establishment, which forced him to quit the job he was holding. Consequently, he was compelled to take a job outside the state in the Department of Industries in Punjab Govt in 1948. Later on, he had a brief stint in the Central Department in Delhi. However, the strong lure and emotional bonding with his native land, made him leave that job and return to Kashmir. On his return to Kashmir, he joined as a Teacher in the State Education Department in 1954 where he served in the best of his capacity for 23 years. Premi, in tune with the then prevalent trend, first started writing in Urdu but subsequently shifted to Kashmiri, his mother tongue on the advice of the renowned poet Master Zinda Koul. The pen name “Premi” was given to him by the legendary poet Shri Arjan Dev Majboor. Premi’s literary work comprised of both poetry and prose. His poetry reflected his keen eye for nature and his concern for the commoners. It had an indelible effect in shaping his thinking and influencing his perceptions. His foremost poetic collection titled “Rudhae Jaer”is evocative of his bonhomie with the beautiful aspects of nature. His love for rural landscape and nature blossomed at an early age as he would spend long hours walking in the balmy solitude of his pastural surroundings. Another notable poetic work titled “Kalami Premi” has also been written with relatable resonating reflections. “Osh Tae Vosh”, yet another book of verses is full of depth and eloquently exhibits his dexterity in poetry.

Premi, had a sublime temperament which greatly influenced his writings and one of the outcomes was a devotional collection titled “Bhakti Kosum”. His books on the famous Kashmiri Saint Alkeshwari Mata Rupa Bhavani and the reputed Saint Mirza Kak have also been highly acclaimed. Additional praiseworthy books are his translations of the Shrimad Bhagwat Geeta and the epic Ramayana into Urdu and Kashmiri languages. He has dealt with both of them with remarkable deftness, proficiency and has succeeded in capturing the nuances of the original, admirably. The translation of Gurudev Tagore’s “Geetanjali” is yet another remarkable addition. Some of his other books “Mehjoor Tae Kasheer”, “Humara Mehjoor”, “Kashmir Ki Beti” and “Roosi Padhsah Kaeth” are a part of an incredible repertoire of his literary accomplishments. It is heartening to mention that about one and half dozen books of Sarwanand Koul Premi are still unpublished and hopefully will be published soon.

Premi was also a distinguished teacher and a well acclaimed educator. He was a man of values and knowledge and never flaunted his accomplishments. A large number of his books are loud proclamation of Premi’s creative excellence both as a poet and as a writer. However, painfully enough in the evening of Apr 29, 1990, he along with his youthful son Shri Virender Koul were kidnapped by armed militants from his house and thereafter, their dead bodies were recovered on May 1, 1990. Both of them were killed in the most inhuman and savage manner. However, Shri Sarvanand Koul Premi has left behind a legacy in abundance in the form of numerous books, for which he will be remembered for a long time to come.

(Upender Ambardar is a well-known Researcher and an M.A. in Kashmiri Literature from Kashmir University. He specialises in Social history and Culural traditions of Kashmiri Pandits.)

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