KASHMIR a nuclear flashpoint
never was and will never be part of India - Intifada

Indian de-mocracy written in blood and betrayal: Indian Express


Sufiana Music legends of Kashmir

  • Tibetbaqal
  • Qaleenbaaf
  • Kamaal Joo
  • Ramzan Joo
  • A Khaliq
  • Saaz Nawaz
  • Sheikh Aziz
  • Ahangar
  • Sannaullah
  • Namtahali
  • Yaqub Sheikh
  • Gopi Nath
  • Sidh Joo
  • Zaz Amir Din

Josef M. Pacholczyk in his book The classical music of Kashmir writes:In the 20th century social, political and economic changes in Kashmir have weakened the vitality of the sufiana musiqi traditions. In spite of many attempts on the part of Kashmir cultural institutions to revitalize it, sufiana musiqi is in a severe decline and its future seems uncertain.

Saaz Nawaz performing on Santoor


The Maestros inherited from their forefathers, the elite class of masters like Ramzan Joo, Sidh Joo, Abdullah Shah, Muhammed Abdullah Tibetbaqal and Qaleenbaaf the art of Sufiana Mousiqee and devoted their life to the art which unfortunately is dying due to public insensitivity. This indifference is initially the direct result of lack of State patronage. The only source that could promote this art was State run Radio Kashmir that must be said was dominated by people who were averse to the very idea of promoting a tradition that was linked with Islam and Muslim culture. The lyric language used is Persian dialect and the instruments source Persia or the Middle East.


With the passage of time the legendaries of yester years from the Valley, performed in a society that was responsive, blend the lyrics with local Kashmiri dialect to make it understandable and acceptable to local population. Kashmir being predominantly Muslim enjoyed the music with spiritualism and Sufism being the heart and soul of Sufiana Kalam.


The music that is basic to Kashmir, the crucible of many forms of arts and crafts witnessing callousness towards the traditional and folk arts, the cultural invasion from north and central India made all the difference and the younger generation who would be the future of this music were attracted to Indian music that offered glamour, cheap love songs and unfulfilled dreams. Radio Kashmir being directly controlled from Delhi managed to consign Sufiana Kalaam to history.


Muhammed Abdullah Tibetbaqal

S/O Khawaja Abdul Ghani Bota Wani
Resident of Aali Kadal,  Srinagar,  Kashmir
Born:   July 14, 1914   
Died: January 03, 1982

Tibetbaqal was in full employment with State run Radio Kashmir. He was the master of a unique voice full of melody and received appreciation from all the lovers of music having a special relationship with Sufiana Kalaam. He did not belong to the family of musicians but a family of businessmen dealing in world famous Pashmina shawls and fruit like Apricot in particular.

Because of the business connections, his family was influenced by getting in contact with people from Russia, Ladakh, Tibet, and Yarqand. This Mongolian race from the regions of Ladakh, Tibet and Yarqand was referred to as "Bota". Since the poetry used in Sufiana Kalaam is mainly Persian he had acquired fairly good knowledge of Arabic and Persian which helped him to first understand what he was to sing. Since his childhood, having a good voice, he was allowed to sing prayers in Maktab (School) on regular basis which in turn proved to be helpful for his future achievements. At a later stage because of his good voice and his personal liking and attachment with Sufiana Kalaam he received initial training in this from Ustad Ghani Joo and Ustad Ramzan Joo.


His family vehemently opposed his interest in singing but he remained steadfast and adamant to continue receive the training and stayed associated with the art. In 1948 Radio Kashmir had just been introduced to Kashmirs and Tibetbaqal got this employment as a breakthrough and was soon famous. His attempt to blend the Sufiana Kalaam with local Kashmir dialect was a very good venture and was highly acclaimed.


He continued to sing Naat and Manqabat (spiritual singing) from Radio Kashmir while receiving appreciation from lovers of this art especially his best capabilities to play this wonderful local musical instrument called Santoor. He, at times, played other instruments like Sitar, Harmonium and Tabla. He also worked with the State department Cultural Academy and contributed to promote this art. Though he received invitations to visit different countries but for some reason he declined all these offers and preferred to stay in Kashmir.


Rising Kashmir, the mainstream newspaper in honour of Maestro Tibetbaqal added the following: Tibetbaqal was honored with Robe of Honour by Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, Pride of Performance, Kala Kendra and Golden Jubilee Award, All India Radio by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. He remained a leading Sufi singer and instrumentalist (Santoor) of Kashmir at global level. In 1944, Taj Company of Lahore recorded some Solo instrumental Santoor recitals/wadans of Ustaad Tibetbaqal besides other recitations and archived them for preservation.



Ustaad Muhammad Abdullah Tibetbaqal was a master of unique, exceptional and a very tuneful voice. He improvised Sufiana music to a great extent by introducing to it new techniques vocally as well as instrumentally. Though the Sufiana music was traditionally sung in Persian language but the legendary Ustaad for the first time added Kashmiri Sufi poetry to it and this new experience got global appreciation especially from lovers of Kashmiri language.


Besides being a Sufi musician, Ustaad Tibetbaqal was a Sufi poet, writer, spiritual, religious reformer and scholar. Thousands of people at Zoo Masjid, Zero bridge, Srinagar used to come from long distances for performing Salat ul Juma (Friday prayer) behind him and felt unique shower of mercy, bounties and spiritual satisfaction from Almighty Allah upon themselves.


Ustaad Muhammad Abdullah is the author of Spiritual Book titled Islam and Sama (Sufi Audition) in which he has beautifully explained and proved on the basis of Holy Quran, traditions of Holy Prophet (SAW), Islamic Jurisprudence that how Sama is permissible and forbidden in Islam.


In the year 1978, the University of Kashmir, Srinagar and Bonyad-e-Farhang-e-Iran, Tehran, felicitated Ustaad Muhammad Abdullah Tibetbaqal with the honor of being visiting faculty for second summer Institute for Persian teachers. Though it was a challenging experience for the legendary Ustaad to demonstrate practically i.e. on santoor (Commonly known as Phonology/Phonetics) the different aspects and etiquettes´ of Persian Language before the great teachers / intellectuals of that period but highly won appreciation from the seekers of knowledge.


Muhammad Ashraf Tibetbaqal is the only son of Ustaad Muhammad Abdullah Tibetbaqal who´s elder son Aadil Tibetbaqal (Astt.Prof. Faculty of Music & Fine Arts University of Kashmir Sgr) is now carrying the highly rich and inherited treasure of his grandfather to the upcoming lovers of Sufiyana Culture of Kashmir at Global level under the aim and mission of Tibetbaqal Memorial Trust, founded in 1983´ in the memory of Legendary Maestro Muhammad Abdullah Tibetbaqal.The morning breeze scatters the rose; but not the log, which can only be spilt by an axe. The world subsists on music, exhilaration and ardour. But what can a blind man see in a mirror? (Alama Sheikh Sa´di)
The author can be mailed at (tibetbaqalaadil@yahoo.com)


Abdul Khaliq Setari

S/O  Khwaja Abdul Gaffar Setari
Resident of Vejoubuor, Islamabad, Kashmir
Born: 1904 Died: 1958

Also known as Khala Saeb belonged to a family of Sufiana Kalaam professionals and hails from the home Mazaar area of Sufi music village Shangaz, Kashmir.

Khaliq Setari has been associated with the art since his childhood and received basic training from his father elder Setari.He is reported to be a very good sitar and tabla player and it was his own brother Ghulam Muhammed Setari and Sannaullah who taught him these skills. Being so good at playing Sitar he assumed the nickname of Setari and finally this nickname became the family´s surname. After his home village Shangaz, another village Vajebuer also received laurals to achieve a special place in this art of music. Khala Saeb's expertise for using "Aaho band" (an acknowledgement or a nod for approval of songs continuity.) He has extensively travelled a facility provided by the department of Cultural Academy and thus visited various places to perform and receive laurels from the public at places like Bhopal, Bombay and quite a few places in central and northern India. The Bhopal Academy awarded him a certificate of appreciation.


In 1960 he got an opportunity to introduce himself on Radio Kashmir and his performance gave him quite a big fame. He had learned Persian language and was very good in interpreting Persian poetry to his fans directly during conversations or through his songs. His command on the language was so good that he was always mistaken to be an Iranian. This was something outstanding as he did not receive any schooling and was totally illiterate. He maintained his good voice and entertained people with his magic voice till he breathed his last. Among his pupils who reeived training notable are Muhammad Abdullah Setari, Abdul Majid, Showkat Khan, Altaf Hussain and Abdul majid Akhoon.


Sheikh Abdul Aziz

S/O Sheikh Abdul Karim
Resident of Gaw Kadal,
Srinagar, Kashmir
Born: 15-03-1928 Died: 02-12-2005

Ustad Sheikh Abdul Aziz is counted as one of the masters from the group of elite musicians and has been trained in the art since his childhood. He would organize gatherings at his own house and invite people from all walks of life having deep interest in Sufiana music and perform. His older brother had also developed an interest in Sufiana Kalaam.

This was a unique way to socialise and get to know people which ultimately would become a family affair. His father did not have any interest with all this and expected his son to be more inclined towards education. As he was attracted to this art right from the start he worked very hard to attain perfection in the art of singing and playing instruments like Santoor and Sitar.

To start with he received training from Ustad Ghulam Muhammed Qaleenbaft and then learned under the guidance of Ustad Muhammed Siddique, Muhammed Abdullah Tibetbaqal and Maulana Shamsuddin Hairat Kamili. In short he was fortunate to receive training from the elite group of maestros. He is even the author of very well known book titled Kashur Sargam which is an achievement in itself wherein he discussed and explained most of maqam notes and the book is in three parts. He was also in charge of Institute of Music and Fine Arts nearly for twenty years.


He also contributed to impart training to his young students who are performing though at a slow pace. He was later employed in radio Kashmir and was instrumental in promoting Sufiana kalaam to a large extent. Here he would encourage group performance and his mastery about Sitar became popular, though his favourite instrument being Santoor, he would try his hand on other instruments as well. It was noticed that he had a firm grip on flow and notes (taal) that would enhance his capabilities to perform to deliver and perform with confidence. He is presently working in Doordarshan (Indian TV) and also involves himself with programs organized by State Cultural Academy. He is known to have performed on stage frequently which has received appreciation. He is said to be of the opinion that Dholaki (an Indian musical instrument) is better than Tabla as it coincides with Sufiana mousiqui. He received invitation to visit USA (Maryland) where he performed with tremendous success and quite a few students of music showed interest to learn Kashmiri Sufiana music.


While paying very high tributes and an acknowledgement for the intellectual capabilities of Sheikh Abdul Aziz, Jozef M. Pacholczyk in his book 'The Classical Music of Kashmir goes on to say " the three volume set of 'Kashur Sargam' by Sheikh Abdul Aziz (1963-65) which contains notations of repertory, provided the bulk of the materials used for my analysis." He further continues to mention "Aziz's 'Koshur Sargam' is by far the most comprehensive anthology of Sufyana. Because of its reliability, it will be used in this research as an important primary source."


Ghulam Muhammed Qaleenbaft

S/O Muhammed Siddique
Resident of Khanakah-e-Maula,
Srinagar, Kashmir
Born:   1909  Died:   1994

Qaleenbaft was employed by Radio Kashmir on permanent basis from 1949 to 1971. He belongs to the elite group of singers and musicians. He had developed interest with the art since his childhood and would participate in all household gatherings were lovers of music would assemble and listen to Sufiana Kalaam.

Qaleenbaft is known to be unique in maintaining the flow of music while his singing has always been appreciated. Initially he was trained by one Sula (Sultan) Joo and then later by Khala (Khaliq) Joo both were known to be music masters of their own time. He has contributed a lot to keep this tradition alive and has also worked as a teacher to impart this tradition to boys and girls of Amira Kadal High School, Srinagar. As he acquired good fame he was appointed as teacher at State Cultural Academy to train young generation so that the art would live for future. He continued to work with Radio Kashmir and Stat Cultural Academy till he breathed his last. His students namely Shiekh Abdul Aziz, Mushtaq Ahmed and Muhammed Yaqub were all recognized musicians.


Kamaal Joo Bhat

S/O Muhammed Kamal Bhat
Resident of Wahthor,  Tchodur,  Kashmir
Born  1913  Died   1978

He was fortunate and one of the first to get a job in Radio Kashmir which gave him a breakthrough and soon his name became a household. He inherited the art from his father and his cousin and playing of Sitar he learned this skill from Ramzan Raether of Yetchgam, Kashmir. .

He started his career singing at private gatherings, though illiterate, he was gifted with huge memory and would be able to translate Persian poetry with ease. He is known to have mastered raags like druya, yake, dupke, namdur, mukhmas, tchaqeel, neemtchqeel, setaal, chapandaaz and hajr. He also had a special skill to play Sitar,Tabla and Surnai and being best at Sitar, maqam kanra though difficult to sing would make people ecstatic. His sweet voice full of melody would make Lalle wakhan the poetry of famous poetess Lalla Arifa and the (shurkh) spiritual poetry of Hazrat Shiekh Nooruddin Wali a treat to listen to.


Ustad Kamal Bhat was employed was employed by Radio Kashmir in 1948 on permanent basis and involved himself with programs organised and conducted by State Cultural Academy. Apart from knowing Sufiana kalaam he would take to dancing as well and did all this with perfection. He also organised to hold classes and would teach the youngsters the art of singing and dancing. He has travelled to some parts of India (now in Pakistan) before partition of India in 1947. Notably, two of his students Abdul Gani Bhat and Abdul Gani Namtahali are practicing Sufiana Kalaam are practicing artists.


Muhammed Ramzan Joo

S/O  Ustad Wazir Joo
Resident of Kaka Soth, Jamallata,
Srinagar,  Kashmir
Born:  1881   Died:  December 7,  1971

Ustad Ramzan Joo, belonging to the family of great musicians and being brother of Maestro Sidh Joo, is ranked as a top class artist in Sufiana Kalaam and acquired this art from his ancestors. He would always participate in spiritual gatherings and getting in touch with other highly acclaimed singers and artists benefited him to learn and master the art singing especially Sufiana Kalaam.

His teachers were achievers in this art like Ustad Wazir Joo and Ustad Abdullah Shah. His motivation, as is said, was his love for Sufiana Kalaam and its spirituality and any financial interest has been of no consequence. He was relentless in his effort to carry on with promoting this art which he did with great success and imparted training and whatever he had learnt to younger generation.


He was employed by Radio Kashmir in 1955 and initially received a B class status. It goes to his credit that he was best at playing Santoor but was adept in playing Sitar as well. He also performed in the programs organised by State Cultural Academy and received Robe of Honour from the same department. His students, notably, include Ustad Ghulam Muhammed Saaz Nawaz, Abdul Ghani Saaz Nawaz and Ghulam Ahmed Saaz Nawaz.


Ghulam Muhammed Saaz Nawaz

S/O Ustad Ramzan Joo
Resident of Dana Mazar, Safa Kadal, Srinagar, Kashmir
Born: July 1940

He was fortunate enough to learn the art from his father when he was very young. Though being part of the group of musicians belonging to his uncle Ustad Sidh Joo, the relationship helped him to attain fame very quickly as his Uncle was already a recognized Sufiana musician.

He loves to sing Persian spiritual poetry and his delivery of pronunciation being correct added to the flavour of his singing and people love to hear him sing. He is known to play with perfection the instruments like Santoor, Sitar, Tabla and saaz-e-Kashmir but has an extra edge at playing Santoor. He was initially employed by Radio Kashmir as a ´B´ class employee and because of his hard work and perseverance soon became a big name in Sufiana kalaam. He also received a "Sanad" appreciation from Sadiq Memorial Trust. He has also received a few awards from State and Sangeet Academy of India which he received in the year 1999.


Saaz Nawaz received appreciation and acclaim as one of the greatest exponents of Sufiana Music. He also hopes the tradition he inherited from the great masters will be carried on by his sons Mushtaq and Shabir who are learning the art under his guidance and encouraging the youngsters is the only glimmer of hope keeping this tradition alive.


Ghulam Rasool Ahangar(Sarangi)

S/O Abdul Rahman Ahangar
Resident of Lodur, Tehsil Varmul, Kashmir.
Born: July 1952

He was employed by State Information Department as an artist. He is best known by his short name Sarangi as he was known to be best this instrument. As a young boy, he received training from Haji Ghulam Nabi Bulbul and he was further trained by Abdul Rahman Bhat and Shiekh Ali Muhammed.

He became popular and famed as he was very good at playing Sarangi, Tumbakhnaer and Santo Sitzter. He got his breakthrough in 1975 when he was first introduced by Radio Kashmir and was employed in B grade category and was promoted to A grade in 1995. He visited Delhi, Ajmeer, Jaipur, Bombay, Agra and Calcutta through Cultural and Tammadun departments of the State where he performed with his group to gain laurels. He has a group of students receiving training in the art and to name the few are: Muhammed Subhan Shah, Ghulam Ahmed Dar, Ghulam Hassan Shiekh and Abdul Raheem Shah. His most famous song will be remembered for a long time.

Thari yawnenni bargey posh  Bali maryey mai rosh		
    Lalawun mey thownum naar	Newnam qarrar vesiyey	


Muhammed Yaqub Sheikh

S/O Abdul Ahad Sheikh
Resident of Bona Shah, Kralapur, Budgam, Kashmir
Born: April 10, 1960

Yaqub hails from a family of Ustaads like his maternal grand father Ghulam Muhammed Qaleenbaaf and then received training from famed people like Shiekh Abdul Aziz and Ustaad Kamaal Bhat. He is adept in playing Santoor, Sitar, Tabla, and Saaze Kashmir but was more inclined to play Santoor where he achieved perfection.

He learned to play Saaz-e-Kashmir from late Ustad Kamal Bhat. He travelled to Switzerland/Geneva, Paris, Germany, Italy and Algeria to perform and earned laurels. Yaqub currently runs a music school at Kralpura where a good number of students are learning the art. He has also served as music master in Radio Kashmir where he would perform with his associates and students.


Gopi Nath (Gupe BaCche)

Resident of Kashmir, ACchabal, Anantnag(Islamabad), Kashmir.
Born: 1920 Died: January, 2001

Gopi Nath is the first Kashmiri Pandit who took to dancing and became very famous in a very short time. His family tradition would not allow him to lead a path of this nature and had to struggle to continue dancing.

His commitment and perseverance made him a well known figure and learned the art of singing as well. His singing includes Hindu Leela, Naat, Chakri and Roaf. His singing party included Muhammed Ismail Dar, Abdul Aziz, Ghulam Rasool, Muhammed Ramzan and Abdul Samad. Gopi Nath was famous for playing Harmonium but would play with comfort instruments like Tabla, Noat(Kashmiri clay pitcher) and Banjo. He initially sang in marriage parties and in some specially organised private parties and then went on to sing at Radio Kashmir where he was employed on permanent basis. He at times would perform on Indian Television channel Door Darshan as well.


Later, he was employed by States Field Publicity Department and trips organised by the department would take him to other places in the state to perform. He made such trips to states rural areas and regions. He would occasionally perform in the programs organised by states Cultural Academy and through them travelled to Delhi, Bombay, Goa and has also visited Africa wherefrom he returned with medals and awards.


Amir Din Zaz

Resident of Zainakadal, Srinagar, Kashmir.
Born: 1931 Died: 10-11-2008

Ustad Amir Din Zaz started singing at the age of 20 years and being a good learner picked up the art of playing Santoor, Sitar and Harmonium with perfection. He was admired for his good voice and soon became part of the ensemble of the elite group of Sufiana Masters.

He had his early training from Ustad Rahman Joo Zaz and learned the skill of making sur and later joined the group of Mohammad Abdullah Tibetbaqal. On certain occasions became part of the group led by Ustad Ghulam Mohammad Qaleenbaaf. Amir Din never chose his singing as a career and his love for the art was highly acclaimed. He was even offered jobs at Radio Kashmir or State run TV channel Doordarshan but he always turned it down. He will be remembered for his famous song maqam subhdam:

	zaag sundari bagh babri
    		naag nendre ma paiyee



One morning of Dec-Jan 1990, notorious Indian CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) knock at the door of Abdul Ahad Bhat of Batmaloo, Srinagar and demand the TV set to watch their favourite program Ramayana. The lady of the house opens the door to find uniformed armed infantry men staring at her with the demand and the next minute she collapses and is rushed by her relations to the hospital to be declared dead. In Kashmir incredible India does such miracles on daily basis.



Over one million trigger happy armed men in uniform, who do not understand the language, culture, religion, ethos and behaviour, pounce on local population with vengeance and a mindset to eliminate the populace to occupy this rich paradise belonging to the poor inhabitants. It is amazing to find the "GOOD PEOPLE" of the world turning a blind eye to these atrocities committed with impunity. UN can see what happens in Syria, Lybia or Iran but when it comes to Kashmir they look the other way and one wonders why?


More than one hundred thousand men, women and children killed in the last twenty seven years. An independent Kashmir can be a bridge and instrumental between two hostile nuclear nations. Censorship imposed in "Indian democracy" conveniently and with suitability worsens the situations. Indian army makes sure to confine populace behind closed doors as millions on the roads create an embarrassing situation and international community is inclined to ask few questions.    Continue to read.......


Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone, but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to cemetery
Malcolm X

Martyr Burhan Wani, the man who rekindled and inspired his people infusing new blood to fight occupiers for the basic right of achieving the cherished goal of independence.

International law says people fighting for self-determination can use force in order to achieve their independence:
Norman Finkelstein

The number of gun pellet injury victims, especially youth, mounts to 10298. Men women and children invalid for life.




  • 308 hit in the face by pellets
  • 362 have lost eyesight
  • 174 men and children lost arms
  • 100 have legs amputated
  • 222 received body injuries


Special Director General of Police, Coordination, Law and Order S P Vaid shares information on incidents with Rising Kashmir Reporter Mir Liyaqat Ali.
(December 18, 2016)




  • 5084 people have been arrested
  • 500 have been detained under (Public Safety Act)
  • 30 schools have been set ablaze in last five months
  • 250 to 275 militants operating in the Valley


TIMES OF INDIA (May 21, 2016)

Around 1.8 million of Kashmir´s population show significant amount of mental distress.




S NAWAZ bal maraeyow 00-07-06
UNKNOWN afsoos dunya 00-10-36
SOFI G A boye adam 00-17-15
UNKNOWN chhakri 00-06-10
SOFI G A dapeumas 00-15-44
SOFI G A dilbara satha 00-09-49
UNKNOWN haeri warev 00-09-33
UNKNOWN jaanwandyo 00-05-26
SOFI G A karai na dil 00-15-18
UNKNOWN makamadeenas 00-04-44
UNKNOWN ronimati maeni 00-07-49
S LETRI sar ho wandai 00-06-31
S DEV soz ashqun 00-10-53
S NAWAZ shahideenas 00-09-24
UNKNOWN zamanai pok 00-06-52


BaCche Nagme (Gharayee Lanczh)

A colourful group of people, generally from villages, visiting almost every house in Srinagar city playing this nice musical instrument called Surnai. This group, generally made an appearance on EID (Muslim festival) and other good occasions, is identified as Gharayee Lanczh. The group comprised of two or more people clad in typical rural attire, Pheron (wintergear Robe), Kameez (shirt), Yezaar (loose trousers) and white turban.


Each one holding on to his respective musical instrument like Surnai (a kind of a flute blown from the top through a very thin and flat nozzle, it makes very loud and piercing sound but it is melodious) a flatter type of a side drum and the forgotten instruments called Wasool and Saaz–e–kashmir. The most significant notable aspect of the group is this ´Lanczh´ (a Eunuch) dressed in reds, blues and greens. The centre of attraction his two huge Kanewaje (earrings) studded with colourful imitation stones. This eunuch had to be a six–footer, with a slim body structure and a hoarse voice being a pre–requisite.


Now this BaCche` Nagme` (Male young dancer performing to entertain admirers of this art) is also an inseparable part of Kashmir culture and cannot be ignored. BaCche, a Cherub in Biblical terms is again a centre of attraction dressed in the typical inhi logoon ney li na duppatta mera outfit of a typical dancer busy dancing surrounded by his male partners playing different musical instruments. Kashmiris have tremendously suffered at the hands of foreign invading rulers and all of them made women a special target. That is why people developed a habit of hiding their women and this gave rise to males or eunuchs dressed in women´s clothing to entertain people and this became part of culture. Now these troupes are nowhere to be seen and this art is a thing of the past.


Pandit Bhajan Sopori

Sopori is one of the few minority community Kashmiri Pandits who received laurels for his mastery to play the magical instrument known as SANTOOR. It can be said that Sopori, among many, played a great role in introducing Kashmiri music to one billion people of India.


Music may belong to any nation or place, the fact remains that it is always good to ears. In other words there are no barriers of language or words that limit music lovers to listen and appreciate a good voice or a tune. Music has always been a part and parcel of human culture and tradition and has had a unique status. The sweet tunes thus produced touch the heart and mind and even consoles human souls. No one knows for sure the origin of music but it is believed that the origins of music can be traced to Egypt and from there spread to other nations.



Sufiana Kalaam is primarily vocal, choral music. It is performed by an ensemble of four to seven musicians and all musicians sing in unison except the main singer (leader of the ensemble) who sings the main lines of the song. The poetry associated with sufiana kalaam is in two languages, Persian and Kashmiri. The favourite poems are those of the great Sufi mystics of Persia and kashmir such as Hafiz, Jallauddin Rumi, Jami, Omar Khayam, Amir Khusro, Rasul Mir, Neame Seab and others.



Budshah´s brother Sultan Hassan Shah (1472–84) introduced an independent Government department to promote music. Sultan Zainulabidin had a special interest in music and he would organize special meetings for musicians to perform. His son heir apparent Sultan Haider Shah was good at playing instruments available. His grandson Sultan Hassan Shah was also good in the art of music. He invited musicians from South India to promote music in Kashmir. An exclusive department of music was created for the first time in his life time. Kashmiri music, it is said, was at its zenith during the time of Sultan Yousuf Shah Chak as he himself practiced music and performed with perfection and his Queen Habba Khatun was also a great musician and RAAST Kashmiri raag is her invention.

Sultan Yousuf Shah Chak attached lot of importance to poetry and music and his personal liking made quite a difference to its popularity. Chak kings exit from the dynasty rule deprived Sufiana music of state patronage and protection resulting in its decline. Thereafter it survived getting protection from Sufi Saints and spiritual people (Darvesh) and also the rich elite as this provided musicians and lovers of Sufi music with zeal, enthusiasm, spiritual enhancement and very importantly a source of income.


In the not so distant past Kashmir liked the style of Sufiana music and is considered as the classical music of Kashmir. As most of the poetry used is Persian which has its origin in Iran and central Asia but at the same time the local Kashmiri language blended with Persian gave it a different flavour.



Resident of Krari, Pattan, Kashmir
Born: 1904 Died: 1974

One of the first musicians who associated himself with Radio Kashmir and got his first employment as Rabab nawaz but he was not satisfied with the job and he resigned in 1973. He was one of the first proponents of introducing and playing Rabab with perfection and soon after Radio Kashmir was born he even directed music for the early feature dramas relayed from the radio station. He is famous for rendering music for a popular song sung by Raj begum which became an immediate hit:

Vasiyey gulan amai bahar
        Az saale' antan baalayar

Gulrez another masterpiece of poetry was again sung by Raj Begum and fine tune provided by Ustad Bhat and notable and unique being his mastery over this instrument, Rabab. He extensively travelled to Delhi, Bombay, Lukhnow, and Calcutta, to demonstrate his capabilities.


Sidh Joo (Muhammad Sidiq)

It is said he was very handsome and where ever he went to perform, the place used to be very well decorated and furnished expensively. Frequently he would sing and play instruments while Hafiz (dancers) would also perform. He played violin with perfection. Once in a talk show on radio kashmir his son Ghulam Qadir who was the Sufiana music teacher at cultural Academy had all the praise for his father for the qualities inherent in him as a singer especially when he performed with the company of Hafiz dancers and would maintain the line to keep up with the rhythm and musical notes. Qadir Joo is also said to be a master Tabla nawaz and playing sitar would be his specialty. The flawless performance of Tabla beat and the Hafiz dances were noteworthy which would send the lovers of music into ecstasy. The non stop repeat of verses would generally continue for more than half an hour.


It is also said that Raja Ram Singh was a lover of Hafiz performers and he would organize these programs even at the official Governors secretariat at Tanki pora. The son of Maestro Sidh Joo would be the introductory musician followed by his fathers expert performance. Apart from the Sufiana music, he would also sing Indian classical Thumri with seriousness and with a slight touch of romantic notes. One of the Hafiza known as Moti Jan was a paragon of beauty and would generally grace such occasions. She was also referred to as the Queen of beauty. Another Hafiza known as Teath seab was charming due to her big eyes and as she was learned, educated and had the knowledge about Astrology commanded respect in all the circles of the society. In order to enhance their beauty they used ornaments like Peshwaza and Tikka an ornament (pendant type) hung around center of forehead. Other notable Hafiza were Noore`Aarmein, Gannz Gul and Waza`Gul. Sidh Joo was best at playing 20 notes in a beat with ease. He received his initial training in this art from his mentor, Guru and father Wazir Joo. And to keep the records straight, Ustad Sidh Joo was brother of famous Maestro Ustad Ramzan Joo.


Abdul Gani Namtahali (Ganai)

S/O Abdul Salaam Ganai
Resident of Namtahal, Tchodur, Budgam, Kashmir.
Born: 1925 Died: December, 2001

Gani, though not a professional singer, was a very well known figure in Sufiana Kalaam. He was spotted while at school leading prayers in the Assembly and his Head Master Ghulam Nabi Kalkati encouraged him to sing on regular basis. This little fame allowed him to sing in small private gatherings and was soon introduced to influential people like Mohan Lal Aima, Pushkar Bhan, Ghulam Ahmed Mahjoor and Ghulam Mohiuddin Balpuri. This provided him with a opportunity to move around with Sufiana Singers of fame like Ghulam Qadir Bhat, Kamaal Bhat, Muhammed Rathaer and Shiekh Abdul Aziz. He has also been fortunate enough to be in the company of famous Poets Ahad Zargar and Samad Mir and would sing in the gatherings organised by by these famous poets. He was, like others, employed by Radio Kashmir in 1960.


The success of Kashmiri film Habba Khatun´s credit goes to Gani for providing his contribution as musician. He travelled to Calcutta, Delhi, Bombay, Ajmeer and various other places in India to play and perform. These tours were organised by State Cultural Academy and was able to perform on Indian Television Door Darshan.


He is known to be good at playing instruments like Sitar, Tabla and could also play Harmonium and Santoor with confidence. He has worked hard to impart training this art to his two sons, Ghulam Nabi Namtahali and Abdul Rashid Namtahali. He has also taken active part in state politics and was elected to the Legislative Assembly from 1967 to 1972.



Raga a melody and Tala a rhythm have the element of pitch relegated into sw'ras (notes). It produces emotional effects leaving an impact on the listener at times travelling spiritually into ecstacy. Raga a basis of clasical rendering is based on the principle of combinations of notes selected. A performance with training and knowledge can create a desired effect full of emotions. T´ala is the rhythmical grouping of beats independent of the music it accompanies and has its own groupings.



In the recent past State run Radio Kashmir played its role to promote this art but it was limited due to the paucity of resources available. State´s Cultural Academy also played a role but again lack of resources at their disposal hampered the progress. The maestros like Ustad Kamal Bhat, Ustad Ghulam Muhammed Qaleenbaf, Muhammed Abdullah Tibetbaqal and finally Ustad Ghulam Muhammed Saaz Nawaz contributed with the help of Cultural Acadmey to promote this art and in seventies started holding music classes on regular basis to teach and impart Sufiana music to younger generation and during these courses scholarships were also offered as an incentive to these students.


This continued approximately for three years and the program had to be abandoned due to scant attention and interest by the local population and among other reasons has been attributed to the cultural invasion from central India. Moreover, the older generation who kept the tradition alive passed away one after another and the new generation lost the touch completely.


Maestro Saaz Nawaz & Sons

Mushtaq & Shabir are making a great effort to keep the tradition alive and pass it on to the future generations. Kashmiri Sufiana Music is facing extinction and due to paucity of funds the family is struggling to keep their head above water. Any financial assistance to the family would be a great service to the survival of Kashmiri music.. (Photo Ameer Tarin)



Kashmiris are a singing people; songs and ghazals have always been part of their literary culture. Music was introduced in Kashmir during the rule of Sultan Zainulabidin known as Budshah (1420–70) and before this time there is no historical evidence to prove that there was any kind of music around and so possibly were no musicians around. Sultan Shamasuddin Shahmiri is famous for promoting music and encouraged quite a few musicians of that time. To do this he had many Sanskrit books translated and encouraged a good number of musicians to carry on the tradition. It is said that Sultan Zainulabidin was himself attracted to music and encouraged local musicians and even invited musicians form different countries.


For centuries Kashmir has had a history of invasions by outside forces to subjugate people by perpetual use of force and apart from persecution and plunder,the worst hit has always been the culture of this paradise on earth. Sufiana music, a very old tradition is dying out and an urgent action is needed to save it from extinction. Only a few families in Kashmir practiced this musical form, whereas the tallest Ustad Ghulam Muhammed Qaleenbaaf, Ustad Ghulam Muhammed Saaz Nawaz and Ustad Abdul Ghani Namtahali contributed to impart to their family members and were/are practicing artists.


Sufiana Mousiqee generally known as "Saazandar Geawun" is the classical rendering in which lyric predominates the Maqam (Mode). The Sw'ras (Notes) make their presence felt and there is no clear-cut recurring pattern of sw'ras that could pervade in each song of the Maqam. It is believed that Hayat Joo the great ancester had come from Iran and later settled in Kashmir. He was the great musician of the time. Sultan Joo the student of Hayat Joo would sing in the royal court of Maharaja. The Maharaja would send his special horse Kontal Gur to fetch him to give performance before the Maharaja. It is significant to note that most of Kashmir´s Maharajas, though Hindus by faith, were literate as they could read, write and understand Persian.


There are a few books written by people like ´Taranai Sarwar´ by Khushdil, ´Asli Mousiqui´ by Hafiz Ahmaduulah Punjabi and ´Ramoz mousiqui´ by Shiekh Abdul Aziz and this has been a good effort but again due to lack of interest very few people are aware that such books are even available. ´Koshur Sargam´ of Shiekh Abdul Aziz recorded Sufiana poetry and this system of notation is perhaps the only one around.


Wadan Sangeet aur Sufiana Mousiqui by Noor Muhammed Bhat and ´Hamari Mousiqui´ by Qaiser Qalandar have talked a lot about Kashmiri music.   Source (Shiraza, M Ahmed Andrabi)