History of Dogri Literature



[Page 16]

On the basis of the published material available up to 1970, Dogri folk-tales may be classified into ten main types described in the following paragraphs.

(1)Those relating to play of gods and goddesses: Many of these are connected with the lila of Siva and Parvati and some are about Krishna and Hanuman. Those about Sivalila are 'Shiva Mehmā', 'Parja de bhāg', 'Asali Bhagat' and 'Mane dā khot'. One about Krishnalila is 'Bharuā', and the one about Hanuman is called 'Bhale laine de dene pe'. 'Parjā de bhag' is a very popular tale in Duggar. Siva and Parvati were passing over a place cursed with twelve-year drought and they saw the parched land, with men, birds and beasts dying of hunger and thirst and a lone lean farmer driving two emaciated bulls yoked to the plough in a wasteland that had not seen water for three years. Parvati's compassion had the better of Siva's stony in indifference and she asked, "What sort of land is this that has nothing green in it and what is that lonely cringing thing, my Lord?"

"This is the cursed land", replied Siva, "and there is going to be no rain here for 12 years. That man keeps on the play of ploughing lest the survivors should forget how to plough."

Parvati reminded her Lord that if he did not blow his [Page 17] Nada (a sort of bugle) for 12 years, he too was likely to forget how to blow it. "Lest I should have already forgotten it during these three years, I shall just try," saying so Siva put his Nada to his lips and lo and behold! Black clouds star-ted racing from all directions and there was rain and water all round. Parvati looked at Siva with a quizzical smile and he smiled back. "Strange is the destiny of a people," he said.

(4)Tales of wit and humour dealing with social inequalities, old tottering social values and customs, superstitions and so on: like the stories of 'Satt Murakh', 'Jahta masān', 'Dassen ānen di pheem'. 'Marjād', 'Khote di chori', 'Nakke di sedha jāyān te sāg sattun khāyān', 'Dumkā lārā', 'Alsi tabbar', 'Lekhā dhull', 'Vaihmi Rājā', and 'Rāni Khān dā sālā', 'Jahta Masān' and 'Rāni Khān dā sālā' are satires on easy gullibility. 'Vahmi Rājā' on superstition, 'Dassen ānen di phim' on corruption and bribery and 'Alsi Tabbar' on laziness. A passer-by saw a boy lying motionless under a fruit tree. He thought the boy was dead but when he approached him, the boy moved his eyes pointing to the fruit lying on his body and gesturing to the passer-by to place it in his mouth. Thinking that the boy was sick, he obliged, but was taken aback when the boy said, "What the fool you are! you placed the fruit on the left side of the mouth". The boy did not want to take the trouble of mov-ing his tongue. The passer-by went to complain against the boy [Page 18] to his father lying under another tree, only to be told, "Last night I shouted a dozen times beseeching the slothful mem-bers of a family to come and drive away the calf eating my beard, but nobody came."


[Page 20]

Dogri proverbs and idioms form a very important element of Dogri folklore besides being treasuries of subtle and effective use of language. These are also store-houses of infor-mation about Dogra life and experiences of the community and practical wisdom, thinking and beliefs of the people. They are like pebbles shining on the banks of streams and rivers and water-ways and khadds of Duggar. Life flows on and these sayings and idioms are thrown aside by the flow of life and history. They enshrine a simple philosophy of life derived direct from daily living. They have the quality of saying much in the fewest words by hitting the nail on the head, of present-ing the essence of experience and bringing home a lesson effectively.

Dogri proverbs can be classified as under: [Page 21] 1.Those revealing close connection of religion and mythology with the daily life of the people:

Khāne gi chaturbhuj
kamme gi Jagganath.
For eating Chaturbhuj, the four-armed god
and for work Jagganath, the armless god.
Agge haath, Picche hatth,
aye mere Bhagirath.
Here comes my Bhagirath dangling his arms.
Bele di namaz, Kabele dian takkaran
Prayer at the proper time only bears fruit.
Kutte di maut awai tan masiti chahi muttarada
When death calls him, a dog enters the mosque to piss.

2.Those revealing the philosophy of life of the people:

Mana Bhanda Khachai,
jaga bhanda lachai
Eat what pleases you,
wear what pleases the world.
Baddha marai te khulla charai
In freedom there is life,
in bondage lies death.
Paihle atma picchun paramatma.
First self, then God.
Uttam Kheti, maddham bapar
nikhiddha chakari, bhikkha duhar.
Farming is the best, next best is trade.
[Page 22]
Dhiddha nei peaiyān ruttiyān
tan sārian gallān khuttiyān
On empty stomach, nothing appeals.

3.Those enshrining certain morals:

Siyāne di sikkh te
amle da svād pichhuan
chetai aundā ai
Advice of the wise and taste of Amla fruit-
one realises afterwards.
Kara majuri khā churi
Work hard and you will always have the best food.

4.Those containing the essence of experience:

Āpun moe bina
Surga nein labadā
To know something one must have a first-hand experience of it.
Bhummanun gai uddarde
nan rumbalu pharolade
If you turn and touch an old moth-eaten blanket, you will only
raise a cloud of small shreds.
Jinne talle unna pālā
jinnā tabbar unnā jālā.
Barsānti di dhupp
Mātarean di jhirak.
The sharp sun of rainy season is like the scolding of a
[Page 23]
Dāne mukki ge jarane truttige
When the wealth is gone, friends are also gone.
Jinde kohlen dāne unde kamale bi siyāne
Well to do man's children, though foolish,
are considered intelligent.
Jhutha gur te sacha pipalli
Falsehood is sweet like jaggery,
truth is bitter like pippal-herb.

5. Those aimed at being witty, satirical and effective in bring-ing home a point:

Jeendegi dangan
moengi bangan

(said in respect of a person who was maligned and maltreated when alive but is praised to the skies after his death.)

Din charhe tān attān-mattān
rāt pavaitan charkhā kattān.

(said of a person who avoids doing work when there is time for it and speaks of doing it when it cannot be done.)

Kukkar bang mein
deg tan lo gai nein hog.

(meaning literally, Will not the day break if the cock does not crow?)

Jāti di korh-kirali te shatiren gi japphe.

(said of a person of low means aspiring for a very high position.)

Ghar nein kutti te gava di soh.

(meaning literally, She does not have even a dog in the house but she swears by a cow.)

[Page 24]
Annā kuttā bāu gi bhounkai.
A blind dog barking at the breeze.
Babbai nein māri piddari te puttar tir-andāz

(said of one who brags too much)

Bhikkha de tugare te laungen de dakār.

(also said of one who hides his real position and boasts of things he does not have.)

6.Those connected with the caste-system and characteristics of various castes:

Jatta muhasal brāhman shah
baniā hākam, lakkā phāh,
If a Jat becomes a collector, a Brahmin trader and a Bania an officer, they will make a mess.
Āpun gale brāhmanā kanne
jajmān bi gale.
The priest harmed himself
and he harmed his client also.
Kutti marai chāin
di māri te mien chā shakāre dā

(said ironically about Rajputs going to hunt and killing an itch-plagued dog.)

Doomki kuri te
bhrā gi chāgghiyān

(said of a low-caste who aims too high.)

Puttar jamman khatrainiān
te bich bich brahmaniān
ikk de ikki māu dā duddha
[Page 25]
ohde thaman baddh
apani buddh.
Sons of khatris are born clever. The art of making twenty-one out of one is in their blood and with self-effort they can make even more. Some Brahman boys are also clever.

7.Those connected with changing seasons and their effects on the life of the community:

Dassaihrā phakoā āe sit
Lohri phakoi ge sit
āyeā basant, pāle urant.
Winter comes with Dassehra and goes with Lohri,
with the coming of spring, cold disappears.
Soai saunā te barsānti nhaunā
Sleeping is good in summer and bathing is good in rains.
Jetha hāra kukkhen, sauna bhādron rukkhen.
During months of Jayeshtha and Asharah indoors,
during months of Shrawan and Bhadrapada under the trees.
Barhai magher kanaken de dher.
If it rains in the month of Margashirsha,
wheat crop will be good.
Pālā bachen dā sālā
joānen dā bhāi te buddhen dā joāi
Cold is like wife's brother for the children.
It is like a brother to the young and a son-in-law for the old.

There is another proverb in verse about the cold season evoking images of Dogra life-a child is born, grows young and goes for fighting and is killed.

Assu sāyālā jammea, kattaka hoā tiyār
magghar phaujan charhiyan, poh larāi ho
Magha syata mareā, phaugan pedā sog.
[Page 26]
Cold was born in Asuja, grew young in Kartika, went on a
campaign in Margashiroha and fought the battle in Pausa. It
was killed in Magha and everything was in mourning in Phal-guna

8.Those connected with agriculture:

Kanakai uppar bi, mau uppar dhi.
Like good crop from good seed, a daughter takes after her mother.
Kheti khasmai seti
Farming requires good husbandry.
Jithhe paili khabbal
utthen phasal abbal
jithe paili deela utthen phasal pila
jithe paili rora utthen phasal chaur.

(connecting the crop with the types of soil.)

[Page 30]


Karakas deal with description of incidents in the lives of gods, goddesses, saints and martyrs. These are usually sung at the shrines of the concerned gods and goddesses and at the dehris of the martyrs. Kārakas of Bava Jitto, Data Ranu, Raja Bahu Rull are very popular in Duggar. Others less popular are about those of Bawa Bhaira, Bawa Surgala, Bawa Siddha Goria, Vipranath, Bawa Kura, Mai Moli, Bawa Nahar Singh and other martyrs. Jitto sacrificed his life for unholding his right. He stood against the extortion and forced exploitation by the local chief Mehta Bir Singh. Going up the heap of grains produced with the sweat of his brow, he thrust a dagger in his heart. (Later his small daughter burnt herself on the pyre of her dead father.)

O Mehta. Here is some meat for you to eat with the wheat
With 'Ram! Ram!' on his lips he thrust the dagger in his heart!

Raja Bahu Rull allowed herself to be buried alive so that her father-in-law might see water flowing in the canal got dug by him for the benefit of his subjects. When she was sent for by her father-in-law, she went in a palanquin knowing fully well as to why she had been called. She touched the feet of her mother-in-law and was ready to die. As the workers raised the wall around her, she sang:

Hear, O men, pile the bricks behind me and in front of me.
But keep my breasts uncovered!
[Page 31]
Hear, O men, Arjan and Surjan will come this way
And I will give them mouthful of milk each.
Hear, O men, put the bricks behind me and in front of me.
But keep my arms free.
Hear, O men, put the bricks behind me and in front of me.
But keep my arms free.
Hear, O men, my brothr will come this way
And I will hold him in my embrace.
Hear, O men, arrange the bricks behind me and in front of me.
But keep my eyes uncovered!
Hear, O men, my Kainta will come this way
And I will fill his form in my eyes!


Bārs are heroic ballads which describe in stirring lines the sacrifice, valour, courage and skill in battle of renowned heroes. They are sung on occasions of fairs and festivals and in the courts of Rajas or assemblies of people. Bārs of Gugga, Ramsingh Pathania, Raja Gopichand, Raja Bhartrihari are among the most popular in Duggar. Bārs of Jaimal Fatta and Kalibir are also fairly popular. In the region of Jammu, Bārs of Miān Dido, Vazir Zorawar and his generals Basti Ram, Vazir Ratnu, Hoshiara and Raj Singh are also sung. In Sir-maur , 'Bār' is called 'Hār', and 'Hārs' of Madana, Kamana, Hoku, Sama and Noendi are current among the people there and around.

The Bārs of Gugga and Mirdas Chauhan have been published in the second volume of folk songs brought out by the Jammu & Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages. The former finds a place in the collection of folk'-songs by Randhawa also. The Bār of Ramsingh Pathania appears in the collection of Dunichand and those of Raja Gopichand and Bhartrihari appear in Randhawa's collection in parts. The latter are full of the sentiment of compassion (Karuna rasa). Given below are examples from these two Bārs:

You are yourself responsible for my becoming a Jogi,
why do you feel sorry now, mother?
Mothers whose sons go away are heart-broken.
Gopichand's Bār
[Page 32]
What is this body-cage made of?
What is this world-trap made of?
Understand this Raja Bhartrihari.
False is this body-cage and false is this world.
Bhartrihari Bar
[Page 36]


Chhinjān,Rittaris and Dholarus are sung on the occasion of change of seasons. Wandering minstrels go from house to house, sing to the beating of the drum and announce the name of the new month. An example of a Dholaru is given below:

First of all remember Lord Rama who created this whole world
Then remember your father and mother who have ushered you
into the world
Then name Baisakha coming after Chaitra and
follow the path of piety
Here sounds the Dholaru coming after twelve months
These days come once in twelve months
All the seasons come again and again
But man once gone does not come again
[Page 36]


Bārān Māh is the name given to songs describing the seasons of twelve months and description of the emotional state of one separated from her husband during the twelve months:

Soldiers-servants of the Raja are wayfarers
They mount the horses to go.
You are going away to a distant place, my love,
My heart is weak and I faint.
In the month of Chaitra, I observe fasts in the name of Devi
You went to a distant land, I did not observe them
In the month of Baisakha, grapes risen
You remained away, and I did not taste them
In the month of Jeth, the Sun beats hard
You remained away, I slept out in the open under the sky
[Page 37]
In the month of Har, mangoes ripened
You did not come, I did not pluck any.
In the wet month of Sauna, swings were put on the trees
You remained away, I did not swing.
In the dark month, nights are dark
Those, whose husbands are at home, lighted lamps
You remained in Pardesh, I passed them in the dark.
In Asu, I give offerings to the ancestors
You remained far away, I had no heart in them
In Kattak came Dayali and those with husbands
at home played games
You remained away, I didn't celebrate it.
In Maghar, people got new quilts filled with cotton
Those with husbands at home used them
You did not come, I let mine remain on the peg

and so on to Phālguna.

This is a selection from the original text


farming, grain, parched, thirst

Source text

Title: History of Dogri Literature

Author: Shivanath

Publisher: Sahitya Akademi

Publication date: 1976

Edition: 1st Edition

Place of publication: New Delhi

Digital edition

Original author(s): Shivanath

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) pages 16 to 18
  • 2 ) pages 20 to 26
  • 3 ) pages 30 to 32
  • 4 ) pages 36
  • 5 ) pages 36 to 37


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: India > oral narratives

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.