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Lal Ded
Native name लल्लेश्वरी, لل دید
Born 1320
Pandrethan, Kashmir
Died 1392
Other names Lalla, Lal Ded, Lal Diddi
Known for Vatsun poetry

Lalleshwari (Kashmiri: للء ایشوری‎; 1320–1392), locally known mostly as Lal Ded (لل دید‬), was a Kashmiri mystic of the Kashmir Shaivism school of philosophy.[1] She was the creator of the style of mystic poetry called vatsun or Vakhs, literally "speech" (Voice). Known as Lal Vakhs, her verses are the earliest compositions in the Kashmiri language and are an important part in the history of modern Kashmiri literature.[2][3] She inspired and interacted with many Sufis of Kashmir.[4]

She is also known by various other names, including Lal Ded, Mother Lalla, Lalla Aarifa, Lal Diddi, Laleshwari, Lalla Yogishwari and Lalishri.[5][6][7]


Lalleshwari was born in Pandrethan (ancient Puranadhisthana) about 4.5 miles to the southeast of Srinagar, in a Kashmiri Pandit family during the time of Sultan Ala-ud-din.[8] There is evidence of the fact that in those times, liberal education was imparted to women. From her vakhs, it is thought that she was educated in the early part of her life at her father's house.[9]She was married at the age of twelve, but her marriage was an unhappy one. She left home at the age of 24 to take Sannyasa (renunciation) and become a disciple of the Shaivite guru, Siddha Srikantha (Sed Bayu), whom she ultimately surpassed in spiritual attainments.

She continued the mystic tradition of Shaivism in Kashmir, which was known as Trika before 1900.[10]

Literary works[edit]

Her poems (called vakhs) have been translated into English by Richard Temple, Jaylal Kaul, Coleman Barks,[11] Jaishree Odin, and Ranjit Hoskote.[12][13][14][15][16]

An example of Lal Vakh in Kashmiri:

yi yi karu'm suy artsun
yi rasini vichoarum thi mantar
yihay lagamo dhahas partsun
suy Parasivun tanthar −138

English translation:

Whatever work I did became worship of the Lord;
Whatever word I uttered became a prayer;
Whatever this body of mine experienced became
the sadhana of Saiva Tantra
illumining my path to Parmasiva. -138[17]


The leading Kashmiri Sufi figure Sheikh Noor-ud-din Wali (also known as Nooruddin Rishi or Nunda Rishi) was highly influenced by Lal Ded. He ultimately led to the formation of the Rishi order of saints and later gave rise to many Rishi saints like Resh Mir Sàeb.[1] One Kashmiri folk story recounts that, as a baby, Nunda Rishi refused to be breast-fed by his mother. It was Lal Ded who breast-fed him.[18]

Lal Ded and her mystic musings continue to have a deep impact on the psyche of Kashmiris, and the 2000 National Seminar on her held at New Delhi led to the release of the book Remembering Lal Ded in Modern Times.[19] In his book "Triadic Mysticism", Paul E. Murphy calls her the "chief exponent of devotional or emotion-oriented Triadism".[citation needed] According to him, three significant representatives of devotionalism emerged in Kashmir in the five hundred years between the last half of the ninth and the end of the fourteenth centuries.[citation needed]

A solo play in English, Hindi, and Kashmiri titled Lal Ded (based on her life) has been performed by actress Mita Vashisht across India since 2004.[20][21]

Further reading[edit]

  • Lalla Yogishwari, Anand Kaul, reprint from the Indian Antiquary, Vols. L, LIX, LX, LXI, LXII.
  • Lalla-Vakyani, Sir George Grierson and Dr. Lionel D. Barnett Litt. D. (R. A. S. monograph, Vol. XVII, London 1920).ISBN 1846647010.
  • Vaakh Lalla Ishwari, Parts I and II (Urdu Edition by A. K. Wanchoo and English by Sarwanand Chaaragi, 1939).
  • Lal Ded by Jayalal Kaul, 1973, Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi.
  • The Ascent of Self: A Reinterpretation of the Mystical Poetry of Lalla-Ded by B. N. Parimoo, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi. ISBN 81-208-0305-1.
  • The Word of Lalla the Prophetess, by Sir Richard Carnac Temple, Cambridge 1924
  • Lal Ded: Her life and sayings by Nil Kanth Kotru, Utpal publications, Srinagar, ISBN 81-85217-02-5.
  • Lalleshwari : spiritual poems by a great Siddha yogini, by Swami Muktananda and Swami Laldyada. 1981, SYDA Foundation, ASIN: B000M1C7BC.
  • Lal Ded: Her life & sayings, by Swami Laldyada. Utpal Publications, 1989, ISBN 81-85217-02-5.
  • Naked Song, by Laldyada, Lalla, Coleman Barks (Translator), 1992, Maypop Books, ISBN 0-9618916-4-5. [1]
  • I, Lalla: The Poems of Lal Ded, translated by Ranjit Hoskote with an Introduction and Notes, Penguin Classics, 2011, ISBN 978-0-670-08447-0. [2]
  • Siddha Yogini, A Kashmiri Secret of Divine Knowledge. by Ghauri, Laila Khalid. Proquest Dissertations And Theses 2012. Section 0075, Part 0604 82 pages; [M.A dissertation].United States – District of Columbia: The George Washington University; 2012. Publication Number: AAT 1501080.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b M. G. Chitkara (1 January 2002). Kashmir Shaivism: Under Siege. APH Publishing. pp. 14–. ISBN 978-81-7648-360-5. 
  2. ^ Lal Vakh online Archived 11 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Lal Ded's Vakhs
  4. ^ Triloki Nath Dhar (1 January 2006). Kashmiri Pandit Community: A Profile. Mittal Publications. p. 7. ISBN 978-81-8324-177-9. 
  5. ^ Richard Carnac Temple (1 August 2003). Word of Lalla the Prophetess. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7661-8119-9. 
  6. ^ Lal Ded
  7. ^ Lal Ded Archived 19 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ Lalleshwari: Forerunner of Medieval Mystics Kashmiri Herald, Volume 1, No. 1 – June 2001.
  9. ^ Toshkhani, Dr.S.S. (2002). Lal Ded: The great Kashmiri saint-poetess. New Delhi: A P H PUBLISHING CORPORATION. ISBN 9788176483810. 
  10. ^ Toshkhani, S.S. (2002). Lal Ded : the great Kashmiri saint-poetess. New Delhi: A.P.H. Pub. Corp. ISBN 81-7648-381-8. 
  11. ^ Barks, Coleman (1992). Naked Song. Maypop Books. ISBN 0-9618916-4-5. 
  12. ^ Kashmir's wise old Grandmother Lal Aditi De's review of I, Lalla by Ranjit Hoskote in The Hindu/ Business Line
  13. ^ Mystic insights Abdullah Khan's review of I, Lalla by Ranjit Hoskote in The Hindu
  14. ^ Words are floating Jerry Pinto's review of I, Lalla by Ranjit Hoskote in Hindustan Times
  15. ^ Lalla and Kabir, resurrected Nilanjana S. Roy's article on Ranjit Hoskote's I, Lalla and Arvind Krishna Mehrotra's Songs of Kabir
  16. ^ I, Lalla/ Songs of Kabir Archived 26 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Extracts from Ranjit Hoskote's I, Lalla and Arvind Krishna Mehrotra's Songs of Kabir in The Caravan
  17. ^ "Lal Ded's Vakhs". 
  18. ^ K. Warikoo (1 January 2009). Cultural Heritage of Jammu And Kashmir. Pentagon Press. pp. 140–. ISBN 978-81-8274-376-2. 
  19. ^ Remembering Lal Ded in Modern Times National Seminar by Kashmir Education, Culture and Science Society, 2000.
  20. ^ Songs of a mystic, The Hindu, 1 May 2005.
  21. ^ Bhumika K. All for theatre. The Hindu, 7 November 2011.

External links[edit]