Siddha Yogini, Lalla Aarifah, A Kashmiri Secret of Divine Knowledge Open Access
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Lalla Yogeshwari, a 14th century Kashmiri poetess, changed Kashmir spiritually, intellectually, and socially. Very little work has been produced in Western academia regarding her life and work. The modern canon of her poetry is referred to as her "sayings" or vaakhs in Kashmiri, which are credited for having formed the basis of the Kashmiri language. Many have written of her work as belonging exclusively to either Hindu Shaivism or Sufism. Her experience and development occurred within various religious traditions of Kashmir during her time, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and Islam. Lalla's religious identity has been hotly debated in the last century. This research is an attempt to settle the debate, and to explore the time, life, and work of Lalla. I have attempted to untangle the arguments about her religious beliefs through examination of her life within the greater historical, religious, and socio-cultural framework of Kashmiri society. It is crucial to understand Lalla's interaction with Kashmiri Shaivism and Muslim Sufism. All these subjects will be explored through hagiographies provided by her contemporaries and by recent scholars. Most important of all, Lalla must be studied through her own vaakhs. My research will largely rely on the translation of Lalla's vaakhs done by Nil Kanth Kotru. In her sayings she grapples with the idea of duality and the desire for union with God--her poetry embodies the language of Hindu Shaivism and Persian Sufism suggesting the possibility of peaceful coexistence in Kashmir through common religious phenomena.