Swami Parmananda (original name 'Pandit Nand Ram') was a prominent saint-poet of Kashmir, whose poems reflect a blissful blending of poetry and mysticism. He was born 1791 AD at Seer, a village near the town of Mattan, the site of the ancient temple Martand.
Parmananda received his early education in Persian (the then court language of Kashmir) in his own village. He also learned Sanskrit from Sadhus who occasionally used to visit and stay at the Martand temple. His teachers and schoolmates were greatly impressed by his ability and devotion for learning and his inborn knowledge regarding spiritual matters. Parmanand attained mastery over Persian and wrote verses in that language under the pen-name "Gareeb".
Parmanand rose to enviable eminence not only as a saint, but also as a poet articulating spiritual insights. Born in the family of a village Patwari he was named Nanda or Nanda Ram, and his persistent endeavour transformed him into Parmanand (Parma Ananda, i.e. Supreme Bliss) His father, Krishna Pandit, belonged to the village Seer, about three kilometers away from Mattan where he was working as Patwari. His mother, Sarswati, was a pious lady thoroughly conversant with the spiritual heritage of the community, despite her illiteracy.
Parmanand received his formal 'schooling' in a Maktab where he was given a smattering of rudimentary Sanskrit with a working knowledge of the Persian courses deemed essential for a prospective patwari. Persian was, those days, not only the language of administration but also the language of cultural transmission of even the Sanskritic lore, including religion and philosophy, astrology and ritualistic tracts. Parmanand availed of this traditional facility too as is obvious from the copy of the (Persian) Upanikhat left by him. Yet, it was the live contact of Nand Ram with the saints and spiritual aspirants at Mattan and around that deepened his longing for self-realization not withstanding the demands of his profession, and the resentment of his ambitious wife Maalded. She was the daughter of a succesful patwari and naturally expected her husband to make hay while the sun shone.
Parmanand braved the stress and strain of the times, and persisted in his Sadhana under competent guidance of a genuine Paramahamsas. His admirers like Saleh Ganai, the Zailder of Mattan, looked after his material needs and provided him a congenial atmosphere for spiritual preoccupation, so that he could articulate his aspiration as well as realization. In his utterance we therefore, find the unfolding of a variety of spiritual layers. During the Amarnath pilgrimage days he had witnessed the multidimensional manifestation of spiritual quest at Mattan and had realized the need to "proceed from the (external) cave to the personal cave (within)' and to face the selfless Self, meditate on the Sahaja (In boro Truth)." The interplay of the individual Soul and the Cosmic Soul was for him a Leelaa (sport of the Spirit) which he presented variously in his verse, particulary in his three Leelaa poems, Shiva-Lagan (Siva's Wedding), Raadaa-Svayamvar (Radha's Choice of Her Own Man) and Sodaam- Tsareth (Sudama's Story).
The allegorical nuance has all through remained unobtrusive yet significant, within the convincing depiction of personal and interpersonal contours of social behaviour such as: parental solicitude to see the daughter suitably married away, and the girl's ambition to secure the boy of her own choice Parmanand has thus achieved remarkable success weaving the Pauranic legends into contemporary realities of pervasive import artlessly harmonized with the allegorical significance, such as in the following rendering:
"Gokul is my heart wherein thrives the pasture of your kine;
O Lord, shining in consciousness !
Mindways are the Gopi's running reckless after you;
maddened by the call of Krishna's flute,
Losing sentience and feeling, forgetting self and non-self...."
Parmanand's Raasleelaa (in his Raadaa Svayamvar) symbolizes the universal dance of cosmic consciousness, integrating the secular with the spiritual:
"Wandering all around they find him at no point,
they hear from far away the flute alone.
None plays there with anyone else,
none but Krishna there; Krishna alone, cowherd lads and lasses,
men, women, none is there who is not He
.... Trees and plants and stones with eyes agape unravel secrets of the inner depth."
The Shiva-Lagan, similarly signifies the union of Shiva and Shakti at both the immanent and the transcendental levels; while the Sodaam-Tsarete reflects the unshakable ties between the Oversoul and the individual soul, in the ideal friendship of Krishna and Sudama. Similar concern with the essential rather than the ephemeral reverberates in the smaller poems of Parmananda, and quite a number of them sound as spiritual rhapsodies over-flowing with spontaneous lyricism. He left the Kashmiri language positivity richer than he had found it.