Lal Ded (1320-1392), a fourteenth-century poet. Was born in Padmanpore near Pampore, Pulwama. She is known by various appellations like Lalla, Lal Arifa, Lalleshwari, and Laleed. She is the most respected and renowned woman saint-poet of Kashmir.
She was married at the age of twelve, but her married life proved unhappy and she left her in-laws at the age of twenty-four to take sanyas (renunciation) She was greatly influenced by the Shaivite and Sufi schools of thought. She gave up worldly pursuits and pleasures to know God.
She not only became a mystic of the Kashmiri Shaivite sect but also a Sufi saint. She created the mystic poetry called Vaakhs (literally, sayings or speech). Each Vaakh, containing four lines is a short poem structured around a theme popularly known as Lal Vaakhs Her poetry is considered the earliest composition in the Kashmiri language and plays an important role in the history of Kashmiri literature Her Vaakhs represent the best teachings for mankind in the modern world. They inspire us to seek unity and harmony among the people of all religions and races. These Vaakhs describe the relationship between man and God and the deepest urge of the human soul, that is, to be one with the Almighty.
In one of her Vaakhs, she talks about the temporary nature of this world and advises people not to get overwhelmed by worldly pleasures and charms. Her poetry is rooted a humanism and is a treasure of wisdom, love, truth peace and eternal joy It reveals the real essence of religion.
Lal Ded greatly influenced Sheikh Noor-ud-din-Wali (RA), the famous Kashmiri poet-saint, known for his great poetry.
Lal Ded is a towering personality in the history of Kashmiri literature. She has become a household name as a symbol of patience. She continues to be popular even now for the great ideals of life she cherished.
Her Vaakhs have been translated into English by Richard Temple, Jaylal Kaul, Coleman Barks, Jaishree Odin, and Neerja Mattoo, A solo play in English, Hindi, and Kashmiri, titled, ‘Lal Ded’ based on’ her life, has been performed by the actress Mita Vashisht all over India.