When we talk about the youth of Kashmir, their achievements and fame; we can’t leave behind the source of inspirations that guides them. It is the mixture of tradition and individual talent that propagates ones insight. We are all aware of our heroes like Sonam Wangchuk (Engineer, Innovator etc.), Zinda Kaul (Poet, Writer and Teacher), Anupam Kher (Actor & Chairman of FTII), Professor Amitabh Mattoo (writer- on international relations), Ustad Allarakha Qureshi (tabla player), etc. It’s time to remember and honor one of the most precious gem of the Valley, Professor and Linguist Braj Bihari Kachru.
Personal Life and childhood memories
Braj Kachru’s father, Damodar Das Kachru, was an educator and much respected in the neighbourhood. He was lovingly called Lala Sahab. But, Kachru’s mother didn’t live much longer to see her son succeed as she died when he was only five years old. Born in 1932, Braj, was greatly influenced by his father’s status in society. He learned to be humble
and patient from him. Also, he had the opportunity to surround himself with the company of the famous Kashmiri writer and poet Zinda Kaul, who was very good friends with his father. Hence, Kachru was inspired by his elders and acquaintances, as the youth today is inspired by him!
Kachru’s Life as A Scholar
Kachru was Professor of Linguistics, Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Center for Advanced Study Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana. The achievements of Kachru are enormous. He has authored and edited around twenty-five books. As a Linguistic professor, Kachru has studied and researched in the field of World Englishes,
including Asian, and one of his most influential research is based in the study of Kashmiri Language. His book “An Introduction to spoken Kashmiri” stands evident of his association and belonging to his motherland.
Kachru has pioneered the study of “Koshur” (Kashmiri Language) and dedicated his pedagogy of spoken Kashmiri to his linguistic inclination. His work acts as a metaphorical support to the valley’s dying mother tongue. This article is an ode to the incredible Professor Kachru his indelible impression and charismatic raconteur. He was also a kind and caring mentor, a warm and supporting colleague, an imaginative institution builder and a confident, fearless, visionary intellectual. Even after his tragic demise in 2016, we as Kashmiris feel proud about his omniscient presence in our lives through his works. May his soul rest in peace!