Tribute to Tara Smailpuri

Rajeshwar Singh Raju
If we are proud of our mother tongue Dogri today for its sweetness and rich treasure on varied subjects then credit goes to those who have contributed with all commitment and affection for the language. They had all the options to opt other language for their creative pursuits having wider access. But the fact remains that only those mark their presence in historical references of literature who love their mother tongue and have the guts to make sacrifices without caring for periodical selfish gains. One of those prominent activists was Taramani Sharma Smailpuri popularly known as Tara Smailpuri in literary arena. He belongs to that era when Dogri was not given due respect or recognition but persons like him made it a pious mission and the success story tells the inspiring results. Dogri not only got reorganized but was later on included in 8th schedule as well.
Tara Smailpuri was born on July 1st ‘1926 at village Smailpur in District Samba of Jammu in a large family of Smt .Gullan Devi and Master Badrinath Baskotra having two brothers and five sisters. Right from his early age he was quite witty as well as naughty by nature who loved to crack jokes and enjoy all naughtiness at tender age. His father was a math teacher and his initial schooling started in Smailpur and then at Jammu, Samba and Mirpur Chomukh in Pakistan nowadays.
After passing matriculation, he started working in Birla Mill at Sargodha in Pakistan now at a salary of Rs 175 per month. Then he shifted to a cloth Mill for salary of Rs 500 per month. After serving there for three years he had to come back owing to health issues. After recovering from illness, he joined Food and Supply Department but did not like job and after some days left it and started business at Amritsar. Soon he came back to Jammu and started as Commission Agent of Fruits and Vegetables in partnership at Vegetable market Jammu. But success was perhaps not in his fate. He served as Sub Inspector and later as Inspector in CD & NES Department of Jammu & Kashmir. Meantime, he completed Bachelor of Arts and Shiromani, Hon’s in Dogri. In 1967, he became Assistant Editor of Urdu monthly_ “Dehat Sudhar’ of the Department. In 1968 he joined J & K Academy of Art, Culture & Languages as Research Assistant and retired as Assistant Editor of Dogri Dictionary project.
Smailpuri had been a courageous child right from his childhood and enjoyed childhood fully. Once when Maharaja Hari Singh was on route to Samba through Smailpur and public had gathered there to welcome King, Tara, then hardly six years old boy advanced boldly to offer his wishes to Maharaja but was blocked by soldiers of Royal Forces. Maharaja noticed it and was quite impressed with the courage of Tara and awarded him two rupees silver coin. The same valour is witnessed in his creative literary works also.
As far as literary contributions are concerned, while studying in 7th standard, he recited a long Dogri poem in school function which was widely appreciated by one and all and happens to be his first step towards long creative literary journey. It is said that this very poem was as popular as Pt. Dinu Bhai Pant’s “Gutlun”. With the passage of time, Tara Smailpuri started getting acknowledged as a versatile poet in literary meetings. Particularly, in Poetry functions, he was well acclaimed for his own unique style of satire writing that captivated the audience. The literature lovers waited anxiously for his turn as they knew that Smailpuri had strange magical words in store to spell bound them. They liked this hypnotism.
He was actively involved in research on Dogri Folklore and has remarkably contributed in collection and publication of folk Songs, proverbs and riddles. Within a span of 7-8 years he had collected more than eleven thousand proverbs and riddles. He was fluent in Dogri, Urdu, Hindi, English, Punjabi, Gujrati, Pahari, Pothowari and has collaborated in publication of Dogri-Hindi and Dogri-Dogri Dictionaries which played pivotal role in Dogri Literature.
Tara Smailpuri’s first collection of poetry came in 1956 as a part of Dogri Sanstha’s publication “Nami Chetna”‘ series ‘ 8th edition being entitled_” Fouji Pensioner”. It was a collection of 11 poems that established him as a promising poet. His other literary collections include ” Jeevan Lehran”, “Vyangya Baan” and a Ghazal Collection_ “Tunde Chete Ich” is in press. He has been associated in numerous creative works like “Arunima”, Dogri Kahawat Kosh, Dogri Muhavra Kosh, Dogri Lok Geet (Compilation and Assistant Editor), Dogri-Hindi Shabadkosh (Collection and Assistant Editor), Dogri-Dogri Dictionary (First three volumes as Assistant Editor) etc. He was awarded prestigious Sahitya Academy Award for his critically acclaimed collection of poetry_ “Jeevan Lehren” which is a collection of fifty five poems that stand out for their poetic range.
Tara Smailpuri’s life had been full of struggle. He was very witty by nature but what he had been experiencing in his life was never evident in his expressions. Cracking jokes and writing satires may foretell his creative literary pursuits for which he was so natural and comfortable but destiny was never so kind to him. He did shift many jobs in search of suitable one and ended up with at Cultural Academy. He lost his younger daughter Satya at a very young age. Within a year, he suffered another blow when he lost his wife Lajwanti, who happened to be his first listener and critic too. He had not recovered from early two fatal blows that he lost his elder daughter Sharda also. He was broken from within but his inner conflict with ill fate never crept to his face. It was hard to judge the impact he had suffered what as he was still so much involved in contributing towards mother tongue Dogri in the form of his unique satire laden poetry and essays.
After retirement, he passed maximum of his time in the parks reciting amusing poems to kids, telling them stories, riddles and doing mimicry thus increasing reach of mother tongue Dogri to maximum. Perhaps, he wished to see every face smiling that gave him inner satisfaction despite the fact that he had held his own tears within eyes and never showed emotional weakness for years.
On 18th October 2011, Tara Smailpuri left this world for heavenly abode .His demise was mourned by the literature lovers as a Big Star having vanished from the Sky of Dogri Literature.