A Labour of Love

Assadullah Asad has translated Guru Nanak’s ‘Japji Sahib’ into Kashmiri. By Majid Maqbool Srinagar: Assadullah Asad, 65, a resident of Borwah village in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, started writing and translating Persian poetry soon after he retired from a ‘boring’ job in the planning and statistics department in 2008. He wanted to make some Persian literature accessible […]

Assadullah Asad has translated Guru Nanak’s ‘Japji Sahib’ into Kashmiri.

By Majid Maqbool

Srinagar: Assadullah Asad, 65, a resident of Borwah village in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, started writing and translating Persian poetry soon after he retired from a ‘boring’ job in the planning and statistics department in 2008.
He wanted to make some Persian literature accessible in the local Kashmiri language. Since 2008, Asad has written and self-published seven books, including one of the first Kashmiri translations of the Sikh holy scripture Japji Sahib. For this, he was appreciated and facilitated by the Sikh community in Srinagar.
The organisers had then called Asad’s translation “a big proof of our (Kashmiri Sikhs and Muslims) brotherhood”.

Bond between Sikhs and Muslims
Asad had read a 100-year-old Urdu translation of Japji Sahib a years ago. Last year, he carefully translated the scripture into Kashmiri verse. “I found the teachings in the book and its message of peace relevant, and by translating it, I also wanted to strengthen the bond between Sikhs and Muslims of the Valley, which has stood the test of times,” he said. “The Sikhs have always been like our brothers and they’ve always stood by our side here, even during difficult times in the past decades of conflict.”
Asad is the only Kashmiri writer who has translated the sacred verses of Guru Nanak into Kashmiri language in recent decades.
After completing the translation, Asad spent his own money to get it published with a local publisher. “I spent about Rs 70,000 on the Japji Sahib translation, so that some copies are made available in bookstalls,” he said. “It was a labour of love and I wanted to keep this book out there for those who wanted to read this holy book of Sikhs in Kashmiri language.”
Soon after his graduation, Asad began his career in the education department in the 1960s, and worked as a contractual teacher for three years. Later, he took up a job in the state’s revenue department, where he worked for nine years, from 1973 to 1982. In 1982, he was employed in the state’s planning and statistics department, where he worked as a statistical officer in Srinagar till his retirement in 2008.
What drew him towards writing and translating Persian texts after his retirement? “My job at the planning and statistics department was laborious and somewhat boring, as I worked mostly with numbers and not words,” he said with a smile. “But after work hours, I would write in my diary every day, hoping to write more after retirement.”
 In 2012, Asad translated into Kashmiri, Allama Iqbal’s Persian book Pas Che Bayad Kard(What should then be done, O people of the East). Iqbal wrote it in Persian in the last years before his death, he said, and it is considered to be his seminal work. Published in 1936, the philosophical poetry book touches on themes of poverty, the role of women, art, literature and politics in the East and West. “If someone hasn’t read any work of Iqbal and only reads this book, he will be able to understand all his work and philosophy,” said Asad.
In 2016, Asad says he was the first Kashmiri writer to translate Persian verses of Sufi poet Amir Khusrow into Kashmiri verse.
Titled Ghazliyat-i-Ameer Khusrow, Koshur Tarjame (Kashmiri translation), the book contains 120 ghazals by Amir Khusro translated into Kashmiri verse.
Asad is presently translating the shrukhs (verses) of the patron saint of Kashmiris, Sheikh ul-Alam, which he’s been working on for the past two years. He hopes to complete the translation this year. “I’ll be translating about 360 rubayats (quadruplets) into Persian language. This will be the first time a Kashmiri writer will be publishing a Persian translation of his kalaam.”
(Extracted from thewire.in)

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