Lal Ded, mystical Kashmiri poet Aug. 27, 2020

from The Forum· ·

There is a great deal of mystery surrounding the poems attributed to the female Kashmiri poet, mystic and sage known as Lal Ded or Lalla. There are no records of her life but what is beyond doubt is the vitality, wisdom and endurance of her work. Her poems, usually just four lines long, have been around for centuries and remain so popular that some of them have passed into everyday speech in Kashmir. Lal Ded’s poems are also celebrated for their independence of thought and spirit and for challenging stereotypical images of what counts as female poetry during the Middle …



There is a great deal of mystery surrounding the poems attributed to the female Kashmiri poet, mystic and sage known as Lal Ded or Lalla. There are no records of her life but what is beyond doubt is the vitality, wisdom and endurance of her work. Her poems, usually just four lines long, have been around for centuries and remain so popular that some of them have passed into everyday speech in Kashmir. Lal Ded’s poems are also celebrated for their independence of thought and spirit and for challenging stereotypical images of what counts as female poetry during the Middle Ages. Rajan Datar is joined by leading Kashmiri writer and translator Neerja Mattoo; poet Ranjit Hoskote, author of a complete rendering of Lalla's poetry into English; Andrew Schelling, professor of poetry at Naropa University in Colorado who has translated and edited Indian devotional poetry for many years; and Dean Accardi, professor of history at Connecticut College who specialises in medieval Kashmir. (Photo: a woman at sunset. Credit: rvimages/Getty Images)