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    OpinionsDevoted Dogra warrior: Sahitya Akademi Awardee Tara Smailpuri

    Devoted Dogra warrior: Sahitya Akademi Awardee Tara Smailpuri


    Dr Samvedna Sharma

    The annals of Indian literature are adorned with luminaries who have made indelible contributions to their regional languages and cultures. Among them, Tara Smailpuri stands out as a towering figure in the realm of Dogri literature. Despite his profound impact, his name remains relatively obscure outside his native region, making him an unsung hero deserving of wider recognition.

    Early Life and Background

    Tara Smailpuri was born on 1st July, 1926 in the picturesque village of Smailpur, District Samba located in the Jammu Province. His early life was steeped in the rich cultural traditions of Dogra society. Growing up in a rural environment, Smailpuri was intimately connected with the folk traditions, dialects, and everyday lives of the Dogri-speaking people. This deep connection to his roots profoundly influenced his literary voice.


    Literary Contributions

    Smailpuri's oeuvre is remarkable not just for its volume but for its thematic diversity and emotional depth. He is credited with revitalizing Dogri literature at a time when it was struggling for recognition. His works span various genres, including poetry, prose, and drama, each resonating with the vibrant ethos of Dogra .

    One of his significant contributions was his poetry, which vividly depicted the beauty of the Dogra landscape, the simplicity of rural life, and the complexities of human emotions. His poems are celebrated for their lyrical quality and their ability to capture the essence of Dogri traditions and social issues.

    In prose, Smailpuri was equally adept. His short stories and essays reflect a keen observation of societal norms, human relationships, and the changing times. They offer a window into the lives of ordinary people, exploring themes of love, struggle, and resilience with a profound sensitivity.


    Prominent Works

    At thirty years of age, Tara Smailpuri published his debut collection, Fauji Pensioner. Published in1956 by Dogri Sanstha, this collection of poems. Desh-Prem, Prakriti Chitrana, Balor, Jung 1971 Di, Faffad Tali Baba, Mia Dido, Jadoo Jadiyaan, Duggar Des, and Bare Mehen Diya Baharaan are only a few of the poetry that Smalpuri ji wrote and included in the Fozi Pensioner book. His satirical poetry has typically been observed to have gained popularity among readers. For this reason, Tara Smailpuri ji is mostly regarded by readers and listeners as a satiric poet.

    The book ‘Arunima' was compiled and edited by Tara Smailpuri ji. 1959 AD saw the State

    Academy of Culture print this work. Dogri poetry and ghazals by Thakur Raghunath Singh, Parmanand Almast, and Kishan Smailpuri ji are published in “Arunima” with an explanation in Hindi. As part of the work to beautify the countryside, Smalpuri ji had the opportunity to visit several parts of Jammu province and learn about the various cultural and social norms of the Duggar people. Among his notable works, Smailpuri ji has accumulated over 11,000 idioms and proverbs in a span of seven to eight years. The first proverbs and idioms in the Dogri language date back to Smailpuri ji. In 1962 AD, Culture Academy, Jammu released his “Dogri proverbs book ,” and in 1966 AD, his Dogri idioms book.” Numerous proverbs would come up in Smalpuri ji's conversations on the spur of the moment.

    Both books (proverbs and idioms )hold a special place in Dogri literature. These works reflect his

    mastery of the language and his ability to capture the essence of Dogra life. His poetry, characterized by its lyrical quality and emotional depth, resonates with readers and provides a window into the heart of Dogri culture.

    At the Riyasat Cultural Academy, Tara Smailpuri was hired in 1968 AD as a assistant and later as an assistant editor. Subsequently, Dogri Hindi Kosh, which was put together by the organization's first treasurer, Shri Hansraj Pandotra, was published by the Cultural Academy. The compilation of the Dogri-Hindi dictionary by Shri Hansraj Pandotra ji was printed and published without editing by Tara Smailpuri ji. He carried on working till the first three volumes of the Dogri-Dogri word dictionary were published after that.

    Tara Smailpuri ji continued to write poems and essays while working as a literary services employee.

    “Jeevan Lehran,” Tara Smailpuri's second collection of poems, was released in 1988. For the poetry collection “Jeevan Laihran,” he received the 1990 “Sahitya Akademi Award.” The final poetry written by Smalpuri ji during his lifetime, “Vyang-Ban,” was included in his third book and released in 2010 AD. Smalpuri ji has written about Dohas, Kundaliye, and Dogri kite in this book. As part of the Jammu & Riyasati Cultural Academy's dictionary project, Smailpuri ji edited and collated Dogri folk-geet part 10, which was published by the Academy, as well as one issue of Shiraja Dogri narrative.

    The collection of poems authored by Tara Smailpuri, Kwabaliyan, and Dogri Ghazlas. Following his passing, his granddaughter Dr. Samvedna Sharma published this book, which was titled “Tunde Chette Ch,” or in remembrance of her grandfather. It was released in 2020.


    Preservation of Dogri Language and Culture

    Tara Smailpuri's work was not just about artistic expression; it was a crusade to preserve and promote the Dogri language. During his lifetime, Dogri was often overshadowed by more dominant languages in the region. Smailpuri's passionate advocacy for his mother tongue played a crucial role in its revival and recognition. He was instrumental in efforts that eventually led to Dogri being recognized as one of the official languages of in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution in 2003.


    Legacy and Recognition

    Despite his monumental contributions, Tara Smailpuri's work did not always receive the attention it deserved during his lifetime. However, his legacy continues to inspire new generations of Dogri writers and artists. His writings remain a touchstone for those seeking to explore the depth and beauty of Dogri culture.

    In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of Smailpuri's contributions. Literary societies and cultural organizations have begun to honor his memory through events, publications, and discussions dedicated to his work. These efforts are crucial in ensuring that his legacy endures and that future generations understand the importance of his contributions.



    Tara Smailpuri's life and work are a testament to the power of regional literature and its role in preserving cultural identity. As an unsung hero of Dogri literature, his story is one of passion, dedication, and unwavering commitment to his language and culture. It is high time that his contributions are acknowledged more widely, not just within the Dogri-speaking community but across the broader literary landscape of India. Tara Smailpuri's legacy is a beacon of cultural pride and literary excellence, deserving of the highest honor and recognition.


    (The author is a Doctor of
    Philosophy and grand-daughter
    of late Sh Tara Smailpuri)


    The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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