Ritch Dyed (ऋच दैद): Lalla reborn

Ritch Dyed (ऋच दैद): Lalla reborn

24in x 30in, 
Oil and Acrylic on canvas

Kashmir has been called ‘Resh Vaer’ (garden of Rishis) because, for millennia, saints, savants, scholars, philosophers, and seers have bloomed in this blessed valley! Starting with its founding father, Rishi Kashyap, Kashmir has produced a dazzling array of spiritual giants that spread the light of knowledge across Bharat; the fragrance of Kashmir’s Sharada Peeth reached Adi Shankaracharya in Kerala, pulling him over for debates and discussions in the 8th century CE. Even today, in certain communities in Karnataka, at the time of Upanayana Samskar, the Bramhchari takes seven steps towards North, symbolically signifying the journey to Kashmir for seeking Vidya(knowledge), reciting: 

 नमस्ते शारदे देवी काश्मीरपुरवासिनि त्वामहं प्रार्थये नित्यं विद्यादानं च देहि मे 

“O Mother Sharada, who resides in Kashmir, bless me with ‘Knowledge’ which illuminates everything from within!”

Kashmir has also produced emancipated women of the highest level of consciousness – Yogini Lalleshwari (14th Century) and Mata Rupa Bhawani (17th century) are two most illustrious names that are revered worldwide for their knowledge, Bhakti, and spiritual brilliance. Today, I wish to highlight yet another link in this chain of spiritually emancipated women – someone of recent origin whose name deserves to be known for her knowledge, her earthy wisdom, and her Vaakhs (sayings, and teachings in Kashmiri) that are pure philosophy and speak of her spiritual evolution. She is Ritch Dyed, original name Saenpat Devi. Ritch in colloquial Kashmiri means well-meaning, pure, benevolent; Dyed in Kashmiri means an elderly lady, a grandmother! So, we can understand how she was referred to by common people. She is said to have been born around 1880 in Srinagar. What we know about her is that she was married to Pt Janardhan Kaul 'Sagar, a poet in his own right, well versed in Urdu, Persian, Arabic, and English, besides Hindi and Sanskrit; he is said to have translated several books into different languages while in the service of Nizam of Hyderabad. He is said to have died in 1918 when Ritch Ded was only 38. Personal tragedy turned her inwards as she sought salvation through spirituality. She set out to explore Atman on her spinning wheel and, in ecstasy, is said to have uttered her Vaakhs – her four liners, full of wisdom and philosophy.

Her daughter-in-law is said to have noted down her Vaakhs in Devnagri script and kept those writings in her cupboard. Unmindful of everything, Ritch Dyed is said to have left her mortal frame in 1966. It was only when the daughter-in-law herself was on her deathbed that she remembered the compilation of Vaakhs she had kept so casually in her cupboard! When Ritch Ded’s son started looking for the treasure trove he found most of those pages damaged by termites! Whatever could be retrieved was compiled by Pt. Prithvi Nath Kaul 'Sayil', a family friend and poet, and a collection of four hundred and fifty Vaakhs was published by her son, Pt Hari Krishen ‘Fani” in 1980, to mark her birth centenary. The original number of Ritch Ded’s vakhs is said to have been over 1000!
True to her name, Ritch Dyed was full of compassion and wisdom emanating from her spiritual evolution. The following Vakh describes her character:

कमच प्रथ छु माजस लाहा खारान
मौख प्रथ छु करान अडिजन सूर
कुदुर वनुन छु बे सुर ग्रन्ह गारान
शनै शनै गालान यि फौलवुन नूर

"Kamcha prath chhu maazas laha kharaan,
Mokha prath chhu karaan adijen soor,
Kudur vanun chhu be-sur, grinah gaaraan,
Shani-shani gaalaan ye pholevun noor."

The stroke of a whip raises a welt (wheal, mark) on the flesh,
But a blow of the tongue pounds the very bones to dust,
Harsh words are discordant and breed hatred,
Slowly eclipsing the brilliant light of love.

This painting is my tribute to this noble saint, poetess, and seer.

    • Suniel Kumar Dhar
      Suniel Kumar Dhar

      These kinds of informative blogs will be enriching for our younger generation and will give them an insight to look into our rich past and cherish the rich cultural heritage left by our ancestors! Mr. Dhar is a famous Artist of our era and he is a master of portrait paintings! We hope that he will in future also upload his write ups and master class paintings on this site.

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