CHAPTER 12: Conclusing Remarks

by M. K. Kaw


M.K. KawWe have listened to scholars of all day long. People have approached Lal Ded from different aspects-as a mystic, as a Shaivite devotee, as poet, as architect of Kashmiri language, as a feminist, as a social reformer and so on. But in this whole process of dissection of a great personality, we should not forget that Lal Ded was a holistic person. She was all these rolled into one, in a unique and unparalleled manner. She was Lal Ded and whatever she did came from the core of her personality.

On the questions of whether she was a Hindu or a Muslim saint, I think that many great saints have been subjected to similar controversies. Two major examples are Kabir and Sai Baba of Shirdi. To my mind, it is pointless to circumscribe the personality and experience of these great souls in a straitjacket. Mystics have all had similar experiences while realizing the oneness of all phenomena. The experiences have to be the same. Human beings are the same. Therefore, mystic experiences cannot, by definition, be different. It is fruitless to argue whether a particular mystic draws his experiences from Hindu sources or Muslim sources.

What is remarkable about Lal Ded that living in tumultuous times, she was able to retain her catholicity, eclecticism and tolerance. Today, when we have been subjected as a community to unprecedented trauma and feel injured in our soul, we need to recall her equipoise and emotional balance so that our wounds are healed.

In the outer world, there is always bound to be a contest between the forces of good and evil, those of compassionate humanism and those of fundamentalist extremism. We have to accept the negative as being as much part of the will of the divine, as the positive is. There is a divine design to the happenings of the universe. This world is a drama. We have to play our allotted role and play it well.

If we model ourselves on Lal Ded, we can retain our sanity and survive these troubled times. It is her voice of reason that can be a beacon-light of hope to the whole of humanity and guide us all to the divine. That, ladies an, gentlemen, is her relevance to the modern age.

Lal Ded: The Great Kashmiri Saint-Poetess