A Scholar and Poet from Kishtwar

Excelsior Correspondent
Kewal Krishan Sharma has carved a reputation as a dedicated educationist, researcher, scholar and a poet with focus upon the society and culture of his motherland Kishtwar and wider Jammu region as a continuum of the Indic civilization.

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Born in 1944 to a family rooted in Kishtwari culture, Kewal Krishan Sharma, a post graduate in Sanskrit, English Literature and B.Ed., served the education sector for more than three decades, rising from a teacher to a principal. A cut above the rest of his colleagues, his contributions extend beyond the classroom. Pursuing the calling of his heart, he had delved deep into the nuances of Kishtwari language, exploring its Sanskrit roots and interrelation with other regional languages like Dogri, Kashmiri. Today, he is one of the few scholars with masterly grasp over the linguistic and cultural antecedents of languages and dialects spoken in sub-regions spread across the south of the Pir Panjal mountain ranges.
The oeuvre of his works in Hindi revolves around themes such as local communities, varied aspects of socio-cultural practices, rituals and ceremonies related to the passage of life. The result of his immersion has appeared in books titled Kishtwari Bhasha and ‘Kishtawari Shabadkosh Evam Vakya Vinyasa’. These first of their kind studies of the Kishtwari language in terms of linguistic, grammatical, cultural aspects are a valuable reference for students and fellow scholars.
His book ‘Duggar ke Sanskritik Aanchal’ Part 1 (2013), is an introductory account of Jammu’s Art, Culture, and Language. It offers an insightful view of varied aspects of regional intangible heritage under titles as ‘Parva aur Tyohaar’, Dogri Bhasha, Art, Culture and language of Bhadarwah, Kishtawari, Paddar, Pahari, Rambani Languages. His explorations into topics like local pilgrimages further enrich the understanding of the region’s cultural landscape. Kewal Krishan Sharma’s other publications include ‘Duggar Sambhag ka Sanskritik Anveshan’, ‘Kishtawar ke Darshaniya Sthal’, ‘Nava Bharat Nirman’, and ‘Sadachar Sadhana’.
An author of 14 publications, his book ‘Kishtawar Darpan’ was selected for the prestigious National Award by the Ministry of Human Resource, New Delhi in 2016. For lifelong commitment to bring to light the salient features of culture of Jammu region in general and the sub-regions of Doda, Kishtwar and Bhadarwah in particular, he has been felicitated with a number of honours and awards by state and district administrations, political figures, community leaders and various organizations dedicated to heritage and literature.
Beyond his scholarly pursuits, Sharma’s creative spirit finds expressions in poetry and short stories. His books in these genres include ‘Roshani ki Kiran’-poetry, ‘Kaun Yaad karta Hai Mujhe’-Short Stories. His latest book titled ‘Meri Maati Mera Desh’-2023, is a collection of 103 poems in Hindi.
The self speaking title of his anthology reflects his love for the motherland and espouses themes of patriotism, communal harmony, and social consciousness. Through his poems, the poet advocates peace, prosperity and progress. In a fine balance between idealism and pragmatism, the poet exhorts the fellow citizens to watch out for human follies such as anger and greed; the main causes of strain and stress. Other themes which merit poet’s attention are love for nature, respect for parents, situations of misery and pathos like old age. His poems also critique the spectre of violence that had visited Jammu and Kashmir.
Soft spoken, gifted with genteel countenance, Kewal Krishan Sharma has done a yeoman service through his forays into the linguistic and cultural ecosystem of Kishtwari and sister languages and dialects, especially the painstaking cataloguing old linguistic expressions, proverbs, phraseology, and the fading away vocabulary.
In essence his contributions extend beyond academia; they embody a profound commitment to preserving the rich cultural tapestry of Kishtwar and the broader Jammu region while inspiring a sense of national pride and social responsibility.