Interview in Speaking Tree, The Times of India.


Mohsin Bin Mushtaq Shah’s  poetry springs from a heart full of angst and insight, hope and love. He tells MONA MEHTA that Kashmir, to him, is a symbol of love, not hate.

He is a medical doctor by training, and a Sufi by inheritance and intuition. His poems caress you like a whiff of fresh air, cutting through the smog of mistrust and gloom in the Valley. Says Mohsin who lives in Srinagar, Kashmir,“My verses talk about two things: Kashmir, and love and tolerance.” He was in Delhi recently and recited his poems to an appreciative audience at the recently held Times Literary Festival. Mohsin believes that it is his duty to express his anguish and that of his people through his writings, whether in prose or poetry.

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MIr Sayyid Ali Hamdani (Ra) tried to spread the message of love and tolerance, and Mohsin too strives to do that through spontaneous verse, as in: ‘i exhume my heart in verses’

“There are three genres of poetry — one which talks about love of God – ishq e haqique; love of man — ishq e majazi and a third which states that only love of man can lead you to the love of God.This is my kind of poetry,”he says. The young man’s poems also address Kashmir, which is ‘no less than God’s poem itself ’.“As a poet it is my duty to write about the pain of Kashmir,” he says.

In Kashmir,Sufi poetry might have started with the Shaivite mystic Lalleshwari (Lal Ded) but some half a millennium since, sensitive poets like Mohsin are seeking to restore to the Valley all the love and longing for the Beloved that once enriched a culture of understanding and compassion.


I, Lalla and Raqs.


gwaran vo’nam kunuy vatsum
Neybra doupanam anndaray atsun;
Suy gav Lali mey vaakh ta vatsun,
Tavay mey hyotum nagay natsun.

My mentor gave me but one percept:
From without withdraw yourself to within and fix it on the Innermost Self.
Taking to heart this one percept,
Naked I began to roam.


All that you are thinking has already been locked somewhere by the raqs of qalam on paper. Most of the times, poets do that. They are prophetic.

In a calm tsk, slowly and gradually nature always throws a time upon its creation, when the fabricated curtains of false hood are pulled apart and reeky truth of apparent paradise is revealed. The truth of loneliness. It’s like being in a street full of hip-hop, buzzing honks, jolly-go-people and with a blink of eye, you find yourself in a center of a deserted and banished street. All alone.  Where there is no boat to come you across, no earth beneath your feet to hold you upright, no sky to shelter you, no hands left to cradle and pat your back, no healer with the hands of Messaih and with no chunk of hope. But with every pain comes a reward. At this moment in time, mother nature also open visions of creator to your eyes. For it’s the creator, who piles the events in your life in a way that you get a chance to hark and see, for the first time in your life, that how close, closer than your breath is your creator. It’s this very time, aloof from the glittering world of logic and numbers, with a heart full of love and tears that you prostrate before the creator and you feel his blessings caressing you.

In this quagmire, when the truth of life is being bestowed upon a man and a transcendence from an immature lurk under earth to a falcon above the skies occurs, man becomes reverend.

As I look back at life with no regrets, but lessons worth treasures, I find that there is no one with you but the creator. People are there only for their own ends and they take your leave with no remorse. In this thought, I come across Lalla, and Raqs on her narration of the same in her verse. And I prostrate before Allah.


aayas vate gayas naa vate
suman satha lusum dho
vuchum chandas har no atha
Yath nav taras dim kyha bha

From a way I came,
by that way I did not return.
And I find myself in midst of enbankment,
not having gone even half the way,
And the day is done, the light has failed.
I search my pockets but not a cowry find:
What shall I pay for the ferry ?

da’mi dithu’m nad pakevu’ni
da’mi dyuthum suum na’th tar
da’mi dithu’m thar fuwalwani
da’mi dyuthum gul na’th khaar

I saw a stream flowing;
Now neither a bank nor a bridge I see.
I saw a bush in bloom;
Now neither a rose nor a thorn I see.

da’mii dhitthu’m ga’j dazu’vu’nii
da’mii dyuthum dh’ha na’th naar
da’mii dhitthu’m Pandavan hu’unz ma’ji
da’mii dhitthu’m kraji mass

I saw the hearth ablaze,
Now neither fire nor smoke I see.
I saw a Pandava Mother,
Now a potters’ wife I see.

Ami pana so’dras nAvi ches lamAn
Kati bozi Day myon meyti diyi tAr
Ameyn tAkeyn poniy zan shemAn
Zuv chum bramAn gara gatshaha.

With a rope of loose-spun thread am I towing
my boat upon the sea.
Would that God hear my prayer
and bring me safe across!
Like water in cups of unbaked clay
I run to waste.
Would God, I were to reach my home!

Lal Ded. Lalla Arifa. Lalleswari. Lalla Ded. A 14th century  saint  poetess of Kashmir.