The Ascent of Self

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The Ascent of Self
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The snow-capped mountain peaks, the undulating glaciers, the placid lakes of emerald green water, the dense forests of dark-green firs and pines, the meandering rivulets making music on their pebbly beds, the willow-groves and the majestic chinars, one and all seem to have something to do with giving human consciousness an expansive dimension. One does not know by what mysterious process the apparently inert, though awe-inspiring, aspects of Nature influence the mind of man. Out in the open, away from the circumscribed social environment, he is imaginatively elevated to regions of subtle consciousness, in the presence of her august forms. The valley of Kashmir has been endowed with Nature's abundance and it is no wonder that we have had the benefit of a long line of saints, sages and seers cradled by benign Nature in her fertile lap. To the Kashmiri she provides not only fullness of sensuous pleasure by her superb attractions but also informs him with a spirit of mystical quest which tries to see into the heart of things. Cosmic consciousness may be an inevitable product of fascinating natural surroundings, bracing atmosphere and scenic beauty.

The puzzling phenomenon, however, is that, in spite of such inviting and exalting surroundings, the mystic saints should chosen to withdraw from external Nature and to look for the Truth within themselves. Instinctively, the caterpiller shuts itself in the cocoon in order to emerge as a perfected butterfly 'kith bright, variegated wings. There may be some law of Nature operating behind the scenes and prompting the mind to withdraw into itself in order to attain perfection. Whatever the mysterious impulse may be, the age-old aphorism KNOW THYSELF has been accepted as the gateway to the knowledge of the Source of Life by mystics the world over. Ile specific hallmark of the Kashmiri mystic has been his great ce7.tacity, 'to withdraw into oneself', like the caterpillar. On the awni of subtle self-experience, he has shaped the sterling of Gnothi seauton (know thyself): Socrates. The Story of Philosophy: Will Durant; p. knowledge and come at the eternal Truth. He has discovered the spirit of Nature in its most potential form within himself. The presence of Nature, as the Divine Spirit, has been realized within and without the mind as one all-pervading Being, knit-ting the whole existence into the all-encompassing fabric of Unity.

Mysticism sums up the recognition and realization of the self in man and the Macrocosmic Self and the identification of the two as One. Self-realization and God-realization are one and the same thing. The mystic aims at the dissolution of the individual self into the Universal Self so as to attain Truth-Consciousness-Bliss. Mysticism is a practical discipline and the goal is achieved after a hard struggle. Kashmir has had a conspicuous advantage in producing mystics of a high accomplishment at close intervals. The discipline helps purging the mind of evil influences. The song sung out of realization of the ultimate Truth is the rich legacy left behind by our mystical poets. Kashmiris can well boast of a rich treasure of poetry of this denomination. It is sublime, exalted poetry which elevates thought, purifies emotions and brings plenitude of peace to the mind.

Apart from being an integral part of our literature,-one would say the first and the best part of it, without fear of contradiction-mystical poetry has left an indelible mark on the thought and conduct of a normal Kashmiri. The socio-cultural heritage of Kashmiris bears a clear imprint of this branch of literature, and its strong impact can be gauged by the fact that much of the pithy, mystical verse of Lalla-yogesvari, Sheikh Nooruddin (Vali), Krishnajoo Razdan, Parmananda, Wandb Khar, Shamas Faqir and others has been committed to memory and is sung with gusto by all-Hindu, Muslim and Si kb-alike. The mystical poetry has the efficacy of generating the blessed mood in which the pettinesses of mundane interests are shelved and forgotten. This particular stream of literature brings rippling waters to the Kashmiri doorstep which have, over the centuries, helped produce and nourish a spirit of understanding, tolerance, fellow-feeling and an acute sensibility of religious humanism.

If, in the history of Kashmir, there appear some dark patches of intolerance and religious zeal, we may attribute these to temporal lust and spiritual ignorance. The salutary thing is that Muslim Sufism found its counterpart in the indigenous Advaita (non-dualistic) Saivism and the fusion of the two issued forth in superb mystical poetry. So Kashmiri culture was dyed fast in a rich saffron of mystical consciousness which has formed the sub-stratum of the Kashmiri mind. It is this consciousness which forms the bed-rock of the conception of Brotherhood of Man.

A humble attempt is, therefore, being made to interpret the mystical verse of Lalla ded and to open the conduits of the pure, crystalline reservoirs of her spiritual poetry to remind Kashmiris in particular that we are the inheritors of a great tradition and it would be but mockery of our common sense and sanity to allow ourselves get drowned in the flooding current of narrow-mindedness and ignorance. Mystical poetry has a broader significance too. It brings a message of hope to man-kind in general. In the warring world of today mysticism has a relevance, more than ever before.

Not a few translations of Lalla-vakhs, as the mystical verses Lalla-yogeSvari are popularly called in Kashmiri, some in free verse and some in poetic prose. All these laudable attempts in their own way because their authors 1.iNe unearthed the buried treasure of the Vakhs and preserved at for posterity against the ravages of time. Besides, by their nnslations, the Vakhs have been made available to English and Urdu knowing readers. Naturally we owe these authors great debt of gratitude for the significant work they have done

Nevertheless, one thing seems to have escaped the notice of these admirers and scholars of Lalla-yogegvari, viz., that there is a sequence of thought in the Vakhs which deserves being into. So far the Vakhs have been taken at random and as such. But a little care makes it evident-that-there able growth in the temper of the Vakhs. When arrange-- particular order, they construct themselves into a edifice at the same time awe-inspiring and imposing: liming. To help building that mystical mansion is the raison d etre of the present volume. And the peculiarity of the attempt is that the whole structure is raised with the material of the vakhs Joined together in an ascending order with the cement of the internal evidence.

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