Nirmal Vinod needs no introduction. One of the finest to come from the land, he has done wonders in Hindi literature, with a national award of best book to his name. But this was not enough for this 72 years old poet, as he decided to take up Dogri as his writing subject, as his contribution to his mother tongue. Nirmal is one among the four writers and poet from Jammu and Kashmir who have been awarded with the prestigious Sahitya Akademi award for the year 2022.
As Jammu celebrates his achievement, here are the main excerpts from an interview with Nirmal Vinod, The Dispatch did, way back in 2016:
Born in a business family, Nirmal Vinod was always attracted towards literature, as his father was very fond of poetry. His father’s leaning towards literature, was of the scale that he resumed and completed his studies in Hindi at an age, where most would be planning their retirement, inspired him further and he started writing poems and short stories at a very early age. Nirmal remembers his childhood, “My father was into literature and we used to have many magazines and newspapers, daily and weekly, at our home. My exposure to such good literature at such an early age, helped me further and at the age of 15 years, when I was in 10th standard, my work started getting published in a couple of magazines with in and out of the state.”
Nirmal continued his journey, foraying into writing songs, short stories and Ghazal’s. He started writing regularly for various magazines and newspapers and became co-editor of a couple of them as well; the list including ‘Shiraja’, ‘Sadda Sahitya’, ‘Nami Chetna’, ‘Tavi’ and many more. Although he is a graduate in Sciences, his passion for literature made him choose Hindi as the subject for his post-graduation. In his student life only, Nirmal had the distinction of being editors of many magazines. He even started his own magazines—‘NeelKanth’ and ‘Ghoshvati’.
A major breakthrough came in his life when he completed his PhD on one of the most distinct subject ‘Comparative study of ‘Nirala’ and Bhai Veer Singh’s work’. The two legends, of their respective literature, Hindi and Punjabi, were most famous names of their fields, having introduced new and revolutionary aspects in it. The work got him much deserved name and fame. Adding to this, he was appointed as the casual newsreader for Radio Kashmir Jammu, All India Radio, where he continued for next 30 years.
His first book came in 1976 as ‘Patharo ka Dariya’- a collection of his poems, contemporary songs and ‘Ghazals’. It was a highly acclaimed by critics all over the country and earned Nirmal good respect among his fraternity. He followed up the success of his first book with his next book, ‘Bayaar Ke Pankho Mein’, a poetry collection that came out a couple of years later. While his work has already made him the popular name he had become, these books further cemented his place in the Hindi literature.
In 1982, his next book came in ‘Sakshi Sandhyaon Ke’, which went on to become one of the most popular books of the decade, the result he achieved with his next three books, ‘Prismo Mein Banti Kirne’ ‘Toot’te Shitiz Ke Saaye’ and ‘Dhoop-Dhoop Faasla’. ‘Toot’te Shitiz Ke Saaye’ was liked, particularly, by readers and it went on to give Nirmal the honor of Best Book Award, by Central Hindi Directorate, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, besides many other awards.
While many mortals, after achieving so much, do not dare to move away from the path they have walked to achieve what they have, some are different. Nirmal was one of them as he shifted entirely from Hindi literature and began his journey in Dogri literature. He explains, “Whatever I was at that time was because of my people, my land, my language and my culture. I didn’t go out to some other place to achieve all this and it was only just that I do something for my people, my language. So, I decide that I won’t hang my boots yet and started my foray in Dogri literature.”
Nirmal’s first book in Dogri was ‘Aapoon Raja’, widely appreciated by Dogri readers, especially by kids–its target audience. Working on the resurrection of Dogri literature, Nirmal did a lot of research work, coming up with many papers and books, most popular among which were ‘Dogri shodh te Samikhsa’ and ‘Jammu Kashmir Di Pratinidh Punjabi Kavita’. His most recent book came last year, ‘Mein Kasturi Hiran’, a first ever collection of ‘Nav-Geet’ in Dogri. The book has been a raging hit and appreciated widely by language aficionados, with experts awarding this as a new benchmark in contemporary Dogri poetry.
Nirmal has the distinction of being the creator of first Doha SatSai in Dogri, in his book ‘Nirmal SatSai’. SatSai is an aspect of Sanskrit literature, ‘Sat’ standing for Seven and ‘Sai’ for Hundred, which is a collection of 700 Dohas. He feels that this feat of his is a small contribution from his side towards the great language that Dogri is. Nirmal, however, has not stopped at this and went on to write 1008 Dohas in Dogri. He has compiled these in another book ‘Nirmal Hazaara’, which is completed and ready to be published.
Looking at his dedicated work, he has been given the work of translating award-winning books, both in English and Hindi, to Dogri, by Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. He has translated a couple of books including ‘Dehra Ch Ajj Bhi Ugde Ne Sadde Boote’, translation of Ruskin Bond’s book and ‘Vitasta Da Treea Kanda’, translation of Maharaj Krishan Santoshi’s book. He is currently working on translation of 3 another books, which he hopes to complete by next year.
There is more to Nirmal, though, as he was the first news reader ever to read Dogri Bulletin on DD Jammu; Has taught at Institute of Music and Fine Arts and at National Sanskrit institution, one of the 11 Sanskrit Universities all over the country; Has remained the editor of a major Hindi daily newspaper for close to 10 years, besides editing many other newspapers over smaller period of time. He is closely related to the art scenario of the state and serves as the General Secretary of the Dogri Sanstha Jammu, promoting new talent in Dogri literature.
So how does he feel when he looks back at his journey so far?
Nirmal smiles before answering, “I feel content and satisfied. That I was able to do justice to my talent and quench my thirst for literature, is no small feat, I feel. There is more to do, but and I am hopeful that I will be able to do my bit in the process of conserving and reviving Dogri literature.”