The Duggar region has a distinct identity of its cultural heritage in the landscape of India. This region of Dogras is mentioned in Vedic and Sanskrit literature. Due to the royal patronage of Maharaja Ranbir Singh, his reign is known as the “golden age” of the Dogri language.
The lovers of Dogri laid the groundwork for Dogri Sanstha in 1944 AD, the day of Basant Panchami. Many writers, artists, thinkers, historians joined hands for the elevation of the Dogri language and Dogra culture, Sanstha has proven to be a common platform for Dogri lovers and has made important contributions in the field of art, culture and literature.
Originally from the Kandi belt of Jammu, Tara Smailpuri had a particular mastery of the nuances of Dogri language and culture that he included in his compositions with a touch of wit and humor. He wove rainbow-colored images using words, idioms, phrases, proverbs and anecdotes. His intimate and extensive knowledge of Duggar’s cultural characteristics made him very popular among the fraternity of writers and scholars. He could sing various melodies of folk songs with skill and passion. He was also familiar with Dogra folk dances. He wrote and spoke with authority on various aspects of language and culture.
He starred in the representation of Ramlila and other plays and proved his keen eye in plays namely Dogri’s play “Nama Graan” and Sarpanch.
Tara Smailpuri was very fond of gardening and he loved nature in its various manifestations. He spent his time telling stories about trees, folk songs and patriotic songs to instill a sense of pride in grandchildren and others. He had an enormous treasure of wit and humor. His writings have focused on Hasyaa Ras, Veer Ras, Karuna Ras and Shrangar Ras. Tara Smailpuri was fluent in various languages such as Dogri, Urdu, Hindi, Gojri, English, Punjabi, Gujarati, Pahari and Pothowari.
Tara Smailpuri ji was born on July 1, 1926 in the famous village of Smailpur, Tehsil Samba of Duggar State, in the house of the ‘Baskotra’ caste Brahmin Pandit Badrinath. Tara Smailpuri’s full name was “Taramani Sharma Smailpuri”. “Smailpuri” – was the “nickname” of Taramani ji, which refers to the village of Smailpur, the place of his birth.
Tara Smailpuri was educated in Smailpur, Ghaas Mandi School and Ranbir High School. Tara Smailpuri’s long poem recited in a school function in 1940 AD made it popular in school. Everyone burst out laughing after listening to the composition.
He obtained his BA and Shiromani degrees at Dogri at the University of Jammu. He served for some time as a sub-inspector and later as an inspector, CD & NES department. He retired in 1983 as associate editor of the Dogri Dictionary Project.
He published his first collection of poems, ‘Fauji Pensioner’ when he was only thirty years old, it was published in 1956 by Dogri Sanstha.
The compilation and editing work of the book ‘Arunima’ was done by Tara Smailpuri ji, even published by the State Academy of Culture in 1959 AD. In ‘Arunima’ the Dogri poems and the ghazals of Thakur Raghunath Singh and Parmanand Almast and Kishan Smailpuri ji were printed with a description in Hindi language.
In order to strengthen the Dogri language, Tara Smailpuri ji started collecting idioms and proverbs commonly spoken in the village. In seven to eight years, he collected around 11,000 idioms and proverbs. The first idioms and proverbs in the Dogri language are the contributions of Smailpuri. Culture Academy, Jammu published its “Dogri Proverbs” in 1962 AD and “Dogri Proverbs” in 1966 AD. Smalpuri ji spontaneously used many proverbs in his conversation. In 1968 AD, Tara Smailpuri was appointed research assistant and then assistant editor at the Riyasat Cultural Academy. After that, the Cultural Academy took the responsibility of publishing Dogri Hindi Kosh compiled by Hansraj Pandotra, the first treasurer of Dogri. Tara Smailpuri ji did the printing and publishing work of the Dogri-Hindi dictionary compiled by Shri Hansraj Pandotra ji without editing. He continued to work at the Academy until the publication of the first three parts of the Dogri-Dogri dictionary.
In 1988, Tara Smailpuri’s second collection of poems ‘Jeevan Lehran’ was published. He received the “Sahitya Akademi Prize” in 1990 for the book “Jeevan Laihran”, a collection of poems. Smalpuri ji’s third book was the last poetic composition of his life “Vyang-Ban” which was published in 2010 AD. This book has been published as part of the “Writers in Residence” program launched by Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi. While working in the Riyasati Cultural Academy dictionary project, Smailpuri ji compiled and edited part 10 of the Dogri folk-geet published by the Academy and an issue of the story of Shiraja Dogri was also compiled and edited. by Smailpuri ji. Apart from Dogri, Smailpuri ji has written a few essays in Urdu including “Duggar’s Charind and Parind”, which was printed in the Academy’s special issue of “Hamara Adab”.
He also received the Sahitya Akademi Prize.
In 2009, researcher Vaishno Devi carried out her Masters of Philosophy research work on Tara Smailpuri ji under the supervision of Professor Shashi Pathania. The title of her research was “Tara Smailpuri Hunde Kavita-Sahitya da Mulyankaan”. In the book “Sadda Sahitya” in 2002, Professor Dr. Neelam Sareen gave a very poignant description of the subject of “Biography and Personality” of Tara Smailpuri, the second article on Tara Smailpuri ji. In 2013, researcher Vaishno Devi wrote a review article on Tara Smailpuri ji. In this revised article, Vaishno Devi wrote on the topic of his research, “Tara Smailpuri Hindi Poems and Social Illustration“. The third article on Tara Smailpuri ji was written by Dr OP Goswami. He named the newspaper “Dogri Ka Sitara: Tara Smailpuri”. In this article, Dr Goswami has given a full description of the multifaceted personality and works of Tara Smailpuri ji.
In 2019, the monograph on modern Dogri writer Tara Smailpuri ji was published by Sahitya Akademi New Delhi. The title of this first edition monograph was titled “Maker of Indian Literature” and this monograph was compiled by the author “Shyam Lal Raina” in the Dogri language.
The book about Dogri Ghazls, Kwabaliyan and some poems written by Tara Smailpuri published by her granddaughter under the title “Tunde Chette Ch” in 2020, the same came out in Dogri Sanstha on “World Poetry Day” on the 21st March 2021.
(The author is the granddaughter of Tara Smailpuri who is currently pursuing her doctorate at Jammu University)