Happy Valley, renowned as it was and probably can again be; the Valley of Kashmir, has been for centuries the fountain-head of art and culture. This spacious Valley has been the meeting point of various cultures from time to time. No other place in the whole world can match its scenic beauty. Snow clad peaks, lakes with crystal clear waters and streams with lulling music make this land a paradise on earth. Undoubtedly the scenic beauty of Kashmir is a dream and delight of human craving for eternal peace and tranquility.
"Flowers have bloomed in my fathers home,
Kashmir, along with Nalanda and Taxila shared fame as an important seat of learning and culture in the East for quite a long time. Scholars and Saints from different parts of Asia would gather here to have an inter-change of ideas on fundamentals of religion. The classic Sanskrit literature which flourished in Kashmir during the early Budhist and Hindu periods is the common heritage of India as a whole. Undoubtedly, much of this ancient Sanskrit literature has not been preserved, but Kashmir undoubtedly has remained within the ambit of Indian cultural thought for quite a long time. Kalhan's Raj Tarangni has been a very great piece of literary genius from the Valley of Kashmir. When we trace the growth and rapid development of literature in Kashmir, we find that in Muslim, Mughal, Afghan and Sikh periods Persian literature held sway. Not only did Muslims, but even Hindus studied Persian and showed command over it and its quick assimilation. The work of Munshi Bhawani Dass Kachroo who lived during Afghan rule and lent new style to persian prosody, as manifested in his Bahar-I-Tavil is held in high esteem.
Lalded and Sheikh Nur-ud-Din known for their mystic compositions dominated the earliest phase of Kashmiri poetry in the 13th and 14th centuries and the centuries that followed were marked by perfection in love lyrics in Kashmir literature. The love lyric i.e. "lol" lyric in Kashmiri is a short poem - an expression of a single mood - frequently of those moods resulting from a blending of love and the yearning for it. The first two lines of "Lol' lyric form the refrain of the song and the same is not more than Six to few lines. In addition to being, recited as poetry, it is sung to the accompaniment of music. Lol (Love) has a flexibility of rhythm and a varied stress that makes it an expressive medium for a large number of moods. Its stress accent helps the metre to convey the subtle rhythms of lyric mood.
There have been writers of "Lol" lyrics in Kashmiri out of whom Habba Khatoon and Arnimal stand at the vanguard. Habba Khatoon is the most romantic figure in the history of Kashmiri literature. This peasant poetess from Kashmir was the queen of Yousuf Shah Chak (1579-1586 AD).
The lyrics of Habba Khatoon are highly popular and immortal and the same has made Habba Khatoon legendry. She continues to be the Cherished poetess of Kashmiri lyrics. She was capable of enshrining the precious memories of her childhood and the exuberant moments of her youth in her songs. She was a model of both charm and talent. Though a musician and a songster by birth, she got ample opportunities to develop her musical talents after her marriage to King Yousuf Shah.
Roughly after two hundred years Arnimal, another great female lyricist surfaced on the literary scene of Kashmir. Munshi Bhawani Dass Kachroo was her husband. Shri Kachroo was a well-known persian writer of his times who was able to win an immortal fame as said earlier by creating a new style of persian poetry in Bahar-I-Tavil. The 'lol' lyrics of Arnimal represent a mood in the contents which can rarely be separated from the quality of music and melody contained in them. There is no mysticism and philosophy in the songs of Arnimal and whenever we go through her lyrics we find the same are full of natural Love free from any mystical experience. Unlike the spiritualism found in the "Wakhs" of Laleshwari, the love of Arnimal is purely earthly and human, full of tragedy and pathos rather than gaiety or joy of living. Arnimal after her marriage to Munshi Bhawani Dass Kachroo was not fated to remain happy and was maltreated by her husband. She writhed in disappointment at the hands of her husband and it is this disappointment which finds touching appeal and expression in her lyrics. As she got separated from her husband, her songs sing of pangs of separation and longing and desire for union. "Garland of Arni roses" which literally means the name of Arnimal has weaved patterns out of her own name in several of her poems.
"I was a full bloom Summer Jasmine,
But for him I have turned as pale as arni rose".
Say friend, when will my love come unto me.
Nature in glorious colours presents to her mind a strange contrast to her own sad plight. The sight of gardens in their full bloom and the flowers in their pink blossom hearken her back to her true love
But thou comest not and I feel like one.
Accused, alone and in mocked by all.
I battled against fate and lost
Who can fight his fate & win,
O what had fate in store for me.
The jasmine blooms in my father's home
But thou comest not and I wane in vain "
The poetry of arnimal is emancipatory and fresh. The phenomenon of nature and scenic beauty invariably recalls the longings of broken heart to Arnimal. The blossming of jasmine flower or the murmering of a hill torrent – all phases of human love to Arminal, had no objective existence except in hearts pining to feel the touch of love . These beauties , thus, made her compose and sing the object of her own love.
"My love, my jasmine, my jasmine,
I long for thee,
I long for thee
I plighted, When young, my troth to thee;
Why didn't thou break thy plighted troth.
O sweet, o dear,
I long for thee".
"I weave garlands of flowers for him-
will he not disport himself mid jasmine?
For love I filled wine-cups to the brim,
O, were he to come!
In my bosom I would place him;
And my love-lorn youth would be happy again,
Will he not disport himself mid jasmine.
For my sake.
Vivid imagery, depth of feeling and tenderness in her expression is the greatest quality of her poetry.
"Hardly had I a budding hourie,
Bathed in the sandal oil,
When he, love, did flee from me, o friends.
Me thought I would be in wait for him ,
My lord and king.
With jasmine to crown her brow,
In the garden of my heart,
A rare flower had blossmed
When, he, my love, did flee from me,
The thoughts of animal
wander deep into nature's
World but finally transformed into sorrow in her own heart.
" I will lay the very apples of my eyes at thy fact, O come,
My love, companian of my youth!
When young I played with trinkets,
Fool that I was,
And did not prize my youth;
But now I pine for thee, show thyself,
My love, companion of my youth!"
"Think of the "Lader-posh"(a flower) bloom along the rivulet banks
This is the time I look for thee
Were thou to come and show thyself,
My love, companion of my youth.
What can abate ardour of my youth?
He keeps away, roaming the woods, as me!
I was a kokil dove, weaving my nest
On a bough, unconcerned and free,
When in the time of blossom and spring,
Lighting lit up, a flame in me.
And the curl of his lovely locks.
Whirled me in the whirlpool of love,
Ah! What can abate the ardour of my youth.
Though Arnimal always came across disappointment in her love but the same never frustrated her, instead she was able to invoke a blessing for her disloyal love:
"Friend, Whom can I a tell.
My rivals laugh at me since he is no
Longer on speaking terms with me.
The thought that he is happy and well,
Sustains me still
I ran away from home to thee;
But thou didn't knit thy brows and spurned me love.
Still did I pray: Long mayest thou line'!
Arnimal after feeling tired in waiting for her love spent later part of her life in palhalan near pattan with her father and to keep herself engaged took to the favorite pastime of those day i.e. The spinning wheel. while on spinning wheel she sang :
"Murmur not my spinning wheel,
Thy straw-rings I will oil.
From under the sod, O Hyacinth,
Raise thy stately from;
For look, the narcissus is waiting
With cups of wine, for thee.
Once faded, will the jasmine bloom"