Category Archives: history

Genealogical Tables of Kasmir Dynasties according to Kalhan

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Source-Rajatarangini by M.A.Stein

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Queen Didda of Kashmir

The Kashmir of the yore ; is draped in the tales of Kings and queens. Though many rulers came , ruled over Kashmir and then were erases by the Time, yet some of these rulers had an indelible imprints on the History of Kashmir. Traditionally it has been the fiefdom of the Kings, Yet, there had been brief instances, when the Queens of Kashmir ruled over the land of Kashmir.
IT was not easy for these Queens to rule with an Iron grip; But they somehow managed and found their own place in the History of Kashmir. One Such Lady, who rose against all the odds and decimated her enemies by following the proverb, ‘everything is fair in love and war’ is Queen Didda. She is an epitome of mystery, lust and an intense desire to Rule.
And till date she retains her position of numero uno as the Queen whose rule spanned for almost half a decade.
Diddaksema( Didda and Ksemagupta)
Queen Didda was married to King Ksemagupta(950-958 A.D) of Kashmir. She was the daughter of King Simharaja-The lord of Lohara and Grand Daughter of King Bhima-Sahi of Kabul. She had transfixed the King Ksemagupta, and had wholly engrossed his mind. The King had engraved the image of Didda on the coins and was thus also known as DIDDAKSEMA.It was a derogatory appellation used for Ksemagupta. The King was also married to ‘Candralekha’-The daughter of his Minister(Dvarapati) Phalguna. Didda had developed an animosity towards the minister. Didda had a son named ‘Abhimanyu’ with Ksemagupta.
In 958 A.D, King Ksemagupta died of the disease-‘luta’, that accompanied high fever. The king was known to have lived an epicurean life and Kalhana in his epic, ‘Rajatarangani’ had deprecated his Sybarite life.
Kshemagupta’s Child Son-Abhimanyu became King under the Guardianship of Queen Didda. And thus began the love-hate relationship of the infamous Queen with anyone, who came in between her and the urge to Rule.

Kalhana has portrayed her as an merciless and suspicious character, with many paramours, incapable of making her own decisions and who used to get influenced by others, Particularly those, who would feign to be her ally or confidants, and provoke her to sideline a rising benefactor , for their own personal gains. And almost always, she fell into the trap of the conspirators and removed the persons in question.
But in spite of everything, she survived, and ruled Kashmir directly or indirectly for almost 45 long years.

Rise and Fall of Phalguna
After the Death of her Husband, Phalguna had become the Prime Minister( Sarvadhikara) and thus exerted great influence. ‘Rakka’-The commander-in-chief (Kampanesa) had become resentful of the might of Phalguna and embittered Queen Didda about the apprehensions that the Prime Minister might usurp the Kingdom.
Phalguna’s son Kardamaraja had gone to take the bones of ‘Ksemagupta’ to the Ganges, The prime minister, who distrusted the palace and apprehended (evil) from his enemies, resolved to stop at ‘Parnotsa’(poonch) until his Son’s return. He left the city followed by numerous troops, and had arrived near ‘Kasthsvata’, and then to ‘Varahakshetra’ (Varamullah/Baramullah).
Didda at the instigation of ‘Rakka’ and others, took a quick resolve, and instead of polite requests sent staff bearers after Him. Phalguna was grieved by this dishonor and turned back and marched to Baramullah, attended by a large armed force.Didda and her ministers feared that he might attack them.But instead of attacking them, Phalguna laid his sword at the feet of ‘Varaha’ (Lord Vishnu).Kalhana writes that by this act of Phalguna, The ministers rejoiced as the boys when left by their teacher.
But Didda could not rejoice for a long time as new problem had come up.

 

Mahiman, Patala and rise of Yashodhra

When Kshemgupta’s Father, Parvargupta(Father-in-law of didda) was aiming at the crown, he had married two daughters to the ministers ‘Choja’ and ‘Bhubata’, who had taken (with him) the oath of sacred Libation (Kosapitin). The two sons, who were born from these, the renowed ‘Mahiman’ and ‘Patala’, grew up in the King’s palace as if they were his own sons, and had remained there up to that time. These two eager for the throne, entered a conspiracy with Himmaka( a Turk) and others who knew no restraint.
Mahim and Patala were turned out by the Queen Didda from the Royal Palace and thus they developed hatred for her and yearned to retaliate and oust the queen. She had sent office bearers in open hostility behind Mahiman, in order to have him banished. They followed him to his Father-in-law Saktisena’s house too. In spite of Saktisena’s request, they did not leave. Hence, Saktisema gave open shelter to Mahiman. Thus having found a refugee, he was joined by Himmanka, Mukula, Eramantaka, Udayagupta and Yashodra.
They formed a confederacy, sided with Mahiman and raised a rebellion. At that time of great danger, the faithful minister ‘Naravahana’ was the only one who, together with his relatives, did not abandon the side of Didda.The battalion of enemy with glittering weapons came into the vicinity of temple of Padmasvamin(in pampore), eager for battle.

Didda sent her Son to Suramatha( in Srinagar), and in distress sought various means for averting the disaster. She gave away plenty of Gold to Brahmins of Lalityadidtapuram(litpur) , and thus broke up the league of her enemies.The Brahmins took an oath of Libation (Pitakosa), declaring that if one were attacked, they would all resent it, and then brought about a reconciliation between Mahiman and the Queen.
To further weaken the power of her Enemy camp, she bestowed upon Yashodra and the rest the command of the Army(Kampana) and other( offices).After a few days she put Mahiman, out of the way by Witchcraft, and her Rule became undisputed in the land.
Yashodra’s rebellion and the rise of Naravahana
The new commander-in-chief Yashodra, out of spite, along with his relatives undertook an expedition against the ‘Sahi’ ruler ‘Thakkana’ and humbled him.Yashodra took a tribute from the King, who did homage, and watered afresh the creeper of fame with the water(sprinkled) at the inauguration ceremony (Abhisheka).
Rakka and some others, who had become resentful of the rise of Yashodra, who had access to the Queen, stirred up enemity in her against the commander-in-chief. They incited Didda by falsely reporting her that Yashodra was betraying her, and that he had taken money for keeping ‘Thakkana’ on his throne.She took their Slander for the very truth.
Swelled with pride over his victory, when Yashodra reached back to his residence, the Queen dispatched staff-bearers with the evident intention of banishing him.When ‘Himmaka’, ‘Eramantaka’ and others heard of this insult, they remembered what they had agreed upon under their oath by the sacred libation( Kosa) and raised a rebellion as before.
Didda’s troops became disaffected, but ‘Naravahana’ and those with him did not desert her side. And when ‘Subhadara’ and other enemies of her entered the city with fury, She sent her Son away to ‘Bhattarakamatha’( Bradmaer, Srinagar).Thereupon, fighting commenced between the troops of the two hostile groups, that had held positions extending near ‘Jayabhattarika’( a possible temple in precincts of Srinagar) to the vicinity of ‘Suramatha’( a building in Srinagar).
The Royal force panicked and started fleeing. At that time the Ekangas( probably the palace guards or a marital race) displayed their array at the main gate of the palace. They rallied the routed force, attacked the enemy’s troops, and turned to flight some of their opponents. ‘Rajakulabhatta’ too joined the fight and with his valor scattered the ememy’s army and humbled Himmaka-who was slain in the fight, and the rebellious Yasodhara was captured by the soldiers. Eramantaka was caught alive and ‘Udayagupta’ escaped somewhere.
As soon as Didda secured victory, she in wrath, punished Yashodra, Subhadhara and Mukula along with their relatives. Eramantaka was thrown in the waters of ‘Vitasta’(Jhelum) , with a large stone bound to his neck.
The Queen placed ‘Rakka’, and others, once again, in charge of the chief command of the army, and of the other state offices.
Naravahana, the best and the loyal of the ministers was coroneted with the title of ‘Rajanaka’. Their mutual respect for each other grew as the days passed by, and he became the most trusted aide of the Queen. Kalhana writes about their relationship in these words , “When he kept within his house, she was not happy without inquiring about his health, without requesting his advice, and without sending him things of her own.
Suicide of Naravahana
‘Sindhu’, the son of a litter-carrier, had become a favorite of Didda’s father-in-law Parvagupta, and in due course became the treasurer. He had obtained charge of the treasury from the Queen. Kalhana has depicted him as a wicked person, who poisoned the mind of Didda against his trusted-aide Naravahana. He told her that He took from her most of her royal power. At the time, when the conversation between the Queen and Sindhu was going on, the minister, by chance, out of fond devotion, requested her to his house for a meal.

Sindhu warned Queen that if she goes to his house, he would imprison her and her attendants. The queen turned down his invitation and sent him a word that she had got her menses. The Minister too got the feelers that the Queen no longer trusts him, and thus suspicion grew between them and mutual respect ceased. She exasperated Naravahana on repeated occasions to such an extent, that tormented by his disgrace, he committed suicide.
Re-induction of Phalguna and death of Abhimanyu
After The Death of Rakka, She had apprehensions that the Sons of ‘Samgrama’-The Damara(feudal lord) might attack her . she needed a man with strong administrative capabilities and thus she recalled ‘Phalguna’ back. He had exhibited his prowess and martial capabilities in the past when he had conquered the ‘Rajapuru’(Rajauri).
Kalhana writes that her son-Abhimanyu, fell into consumption owing to the evil-deeds of Didda.He further writes that His(Abhimanyu) eyes resembled lotuses, was learned, cherished by the sons of the learned men and versed in the sastras; learning and youth rendered him brialliant.
His young son died on the third day of the bright half of karttika in the year 972. She was grieved at his Son’s untimely death. Out of contrition for her past actions and for the peace of her departed son, she constructed several religious monuments.
But, after one year, when her grief was allayed, she displayed her true character yet again.
Throning of her Grandsons Nandigupta,Tribhuvana, And Killing them by Witchcraft
When Didda’s Son Abhimanyu had died, she had installed her Grandson ‘Nandigupta’ at the throne in 972 A.D, while she retained the position of the Regent. In fact, it was she-who had the complete hold over the Kingdom. Kalhana writes that she killed him(Nandigupta) by a witchcraft in 973A.D.She then installed her other Grandson Tribhuvana at the Throne in 973AD.She killed him in the same fashion as Nandigupta in 975A.D.
Thereupon, she installed her last Grandson Bhimagupta at the throne in 975A.D.
Rise of Tunga and killing of her last Grandson Bhimagupta
‘Tunga’ was the son of ‘Bana’, whose native village was ‘Baddivasa’ in ‘Parnotsa’(Poonch). He had come as a herdsman of Buffaloes. After reaching Kashmir, together with his five brothers-‘Sungandhisiha’, ‘Prakata’, ‘Naga’, ‘Attayika’ ‘Sanmukha’, He had attained employment as a letter-carrier( Lekhaharaka).Once before the minister of foreign affairs he was seen by the Queen and won her heart.Kalhana writes that, she had the youth brought up secretly by a messenger, and took, as fate willed, an affection for him, though she had already many paramours.
Rakka’s Son-‘Devakalasa’ acted as a procurer and had access to the Queen.The other high ranking official such as ‘Kardamaraja’-Lord of the Gate and other officials too did the procuring.
The Child ‘Bhimagupta’, after living 4 or 5 years in the Palace, had become a little more developed in intellect, and recognized in his mind that the affairs of the Kingdom and his Grandmother’s ways of living were not right, and in need of reform, he became an object of suspicion to Didda.Kalhana attributes his (Bhimagupta) intellect to a noble family and further writes that ‘Abhimanyu’s’ wife had secretly substituted him as her own son.
On the advice of ‘Devakalasa’( son of Rakka), The Queen openly imprisoned him and was subjected to various tortures until he died in 980/81 AD. Thereupon , She ascended the throne and ruled Kashmir for another 23 years(980-1003).The Queen’s infatuation for ‘Tunga’ made him insolent and his impudence knew no bounds when he was appointed as the Prime Minister(Sarvadhikarin) and was raised above everybody.
Vigraharaja’s rebellion and Shieding Tunga
The former minister whom ‘Tunga’ and his brothers had ousted, were filled with dissatisfaction, and exerted themselves to raise a rebellion in the Kingdom. For this Endeavour, they approached Prince ‘Vigraharaja’-The Son of Didda’s Brother.He was strong and possessed formidable valour.He induced the Brahmans holding the chief Agraharas to enter upon a solemn fast( Prayopavesa), in order to cause disturbance in the Kingdom.
When the Brahmins had united, the whole of the people was in uproar too, and searched daily in different places for ‘Tunga’, wishing to kill him. Didda, fearing a revolt, hid Tunga for some days in an apartment with closed doors. By presents of Gold, she gained over ‘Sumanomantaka’ and other Brahmins, and then the fast ended. This weakened the grip of Vigraharaja , his power was broken and he went as he had come.
Tunga and his people having again secured the power, strengthened their position, put to death, in due course, ‘Kardamaraja’ and others who had raised the rebellion. When dissatisfied, they exiled ‘Sulakkana’-Rakka’s son, and other chief councilors, and brought them back again, when pleased. Vigraharaja, whose animosity was growing, again by secret emissaries caused the Brahmans to begin a solemn fast(Praya).
The Brahmins met again to hold a fast, but as they were willing to take bribes, ‘Tunga’, who had firmly established himself, got rid of them. ‘Sumanomantaka and the other Brahmins, who had taken the Gold of Didda, were all caught and put into prison by Tunga.
Tunga had exhibited his valour and skills, he had become the most trusted aide of the Queen.He showed his temerity and cleverness when he successfully subdued ‘Pritvipala’-The king of Rajapuri(Rajauri) and forced him to pay tributes.
Samgramaraja made the Prince
Didda without scruple raised the son of her Brother ‘Udayaraja’ called ‘Samgramaraja’ to the rank of Prince, after testing him as follows:
In order to test her Nephews, children all, who were assembled before her, she threw down before them a heap of apples (palevata). “How many of these fruits can each get hold of?” thus she spoke and caused thereby a scramble among the princess. She saw that the others had got but few fruits, but had received their knocks, while ‘Samgramaraja’ held plenty of fruits and was yet untouched.
When she asked him in surprise how he had secured that large number of fruits without getting a blow, he replied to her thus:
“I got the fruits by making those boys fight furiously with each other, while I kept apart, and thus I remained unhurt.” On hearing his reply, which showed his collected mind, she who was timid by a cautious course, and this could not be otherwise.
Queen Didda died in year 1003.The Hindu calendar of that day was Bhadrapada shukla Paksh Ashtami.Before her death, she made Samgramaraja and Tunga take an oath by sacred libation(Kosa) not to harm each other.
During the rule of Samgramaraja, Tunga was a force to reckon with and was seen as a threat by The king .He got him murdered by his own brother Naga.
Was Didda Lame?
There are three verses where Didda has been termed as lame.In Book 6 of Rajatarangini, she has been labeled as lame in the verses 226,276 and 308. Some scholars opine that the word ‘Lame’ here refers to her ‘ incapability’ and ‘lack of morality’.Some opine that may be the word ‘lame’ in reference to Didda is actually , ‘ physical’.

226. The lame (queen) whom no one had thought capable of stepping over a cow’s footprint got over the ocean-like host of ( her enemies), Just as Hanumat( got over ocean).
276.That foolish( queen) who was unable (to use) her feet (caranahina) became, through her want of moral principles ( srutibahyata), an object of reproach, being in character just like a stupid Brahmin {( Who, Being foolish and ignorant of the ritual (carana), becomes an object of reproach through his want of vedic knowledge(sruti)}
308.’Valja’, a porter women, who used to carry about on her back the lame queen at games which required running, caused the ‘Valgamatha’ to be erected.
Physical or allegorical aside, She was an intriguing forceful figure- who inspite of all ups and downs, praises and condemnations, overcame all and ruled Kashmir directly or indirectly for almost half an century.
And her indelible imprints on History of Kashmir shall remain forever..

REFERENCE:Kalhana’s Rajatarangini(A.stein)

The Legend of Sarda, Shankaracharya and mysterious Sandalwood idol…

 

I had heard of the Mysterious  Sharda Temple at Village Sardi(P.O.K) many a times in the past. The word ‘Sarda’ itself is as mystical as is the Goddess Sarda. Kashmir in the past was a synonym to the Goddess. The ancient script of ‘Sarda’ that was once the vernacular of the Kashmiris ; or was widely spoken and written by the learned Scholars of Kashmir, clearly indicates that ‘ Sarda’ had a very deep impact on the lives of the Kashmiris and thus Kashmir.

Namaste Sarada Devi, Kashmira Mandala Vasini (Salutations to Goddess Sarada who resides in Kashmir’. This hymn unambiguously states that the Mystical Goddess was widely believed to live in Kashmir.

The Sarda temple was  just like any other venerated temple of KP’s for me and did not arose special attention, until I read the account of the pilgrimage of King Zain-ul-Abidin(AD 1420-70) to Sharda  possibly in the year 1422 A.D. I found the mention of the pilgrimage in Rajatarangini of Kalhan by  M.A.Stein, ” in the Chapter “The Shrine of Sharda”.

It was rather interesting to note that Sarda temple at one stage in the long History of Kashmir attracted many devotees and Scholars. The area where the temple is situated, was not under the sovereignty of the Rulers of Kashmir in continuity, and intermittently, the area of Sardi was out of bound  for rather long stretches of time. This political constraint dissuaded the Kashmiri Hindus to visit this place as frequently as they used to,  when it was a part of the Kingdom of Kashmir. The rough terrain  and the inclement weather too ensured that the Temple maintained its Aura of mystery , solitude and Spirituality.

For some reasons, I was intrigued to know that  there was a wooden(sandalwood) image of Goddess Sarda at Shardapeeth(Kashmir) and that the original idol was taken away by the Shankarachraya.It crossed my mind that If the original idol was taken away by Shankaracharya,; was the wooden idol of Sarda at the time of Zain-ul-Abidin, a different one then!

Traditionally, and may be historically, if we look into the past, we can easily conclude that the KP’s worshipped the God/Goddess mostly in their natural state/form. For example, KP’s worship Goddess Sharika as a ‘Srichakra’, believed to be inscribed naturally on a Boulder, smeared in vermilion. Again at Raithan temple, Goddess Ragya is venerated in the form of a natural Boulder. A Stone slab is revered as Goddess Bala Devi in Balhoma. Mata Jwalaji in the form of  an uninterrupted, continuous flame is worshipped at Khrew. There is also a stone slab, that too is venerated by the devotees. At other places, the object of worship is either a natural spring or a lake. The exception is for the Stone Shiva-Linga, which is widely worshipped throughout the state.

But a Wooden Idol, and that too of Sandalwood ! seemed incongruous. Before coming to any conclusion, some historical facts documented in the form of Books of History and legends can not be ignored.

The legend of Sharda

According to Mahatmaya, The sage Sandilya, son of sage Matanga, was practicing great austerities, in order to obtain the sight of the Goddess Sarda, who is a shakti embodying three separate manifestations. Divine advice prompts him to proceed to the place-Syamala. There at GHOSA, i.e ‘Gus’, appears to him ‘Mahadevi’, and promises to show herself in her true form( Shakti) in the Sarda’ forest. The Goddess vanishes from his sight at Hayasirsasasrama, (Hayhom), situated about 4 miles to the N.N.E of Gus.

The Sage next proceeds to the Krisnganga, a spring now usually known as Krishnganga, in which he bathes. Thereupon,  half his body becomes golden, emblematic of his approach to complete liberation from darkness. The Naga is situated above the village of Drang also known as Son-Drang. It is this appellation which the Mahatmaya wishes to reproduce by calling the place of Sage’s miraculous transformation ‘Suvarnardhangaka’.

From thence, Sandilya ascends the mountain range to the north, on which he sees a dance of Goddesses in a forest called Rangavati (Rangvor), immediately below the pass by which the route leading from Drang towards the Kisanganga crosses the watershed. He then passes the Gostambhana forest, i.e, the Marg Gthamman and arrives at TEJAVANA, the residence of Gautama, on the bank of the Krisnganga. The Mahatmaya describes at some length, the sacred character of the latter place which is identical with Tehjan(Thagain), a small hamlet on the left bank of the Kisanganga. It then relates how the sage after crossing on the way a hill, on the east side of which he sees the God Ganesha, arrives in the Sardavana i.e, at the present Sardi. After a Hymn in praise of Sarda in her triple form of Sarda, Narada(sarswati) and vagdevi, an account is given how the goddess at that sacred spot revealed herself to the Sage and rewarded his long austerities by inviting him to her residence on Srisaila.

Pitrs also approach there to Sandilya and ask him to perform their Sraddhas. On his taking water from the Mahasindu for the purpose of the Tarpana rite, half of its water turns into honey and forms the stream hence known as Madhumati. Ever since baths and Shraddhas at the Samgama of the Sindhu and Madhumati assure to the pious complete remission of sins, etc.

The mention of this confluence leaves no doubt as to where the Mahatmaya places the site sacred to Sarada. By SINDHU can be meant only the Kisanganga which, as in Kalhana’s days, is still locally known merely as ‘Sind’ , the river. Madhumati  is the name which local tradition gives to this day to the stream that joins the Kisanganga at Sardi from the south.

The temple is believed to be one of the Shakti-peethas(out of 51).It is believed that the right hand of Shiva’s consort-SATI-had fallen here.

 

 

The Mystical wooden(Sandalwood) idol of Sharda

A.Stein has mentioned that the Sharda temple is found in “Jonararaja’ Chronicle. The passage containing it belongs to those additions of the text with which Professor Peterson edition(1896) had first acquainted them. It is mentioned that the tolerant King Zain-l-Abidin(Bada Shah), whose attitude towards his Brahman Subjects was well Known, is believed to have accompanied the regular pilgrimage, apparently in the year 1422 A.D, in order to witness the miraculous manifestations of the Goddess. From the description in the  verse 1057, it seems that these were ordinarily the appearance of Sweat on the face of the image of the Goddess, the shaking of the arm, and a sensation of the Heat on touching the feet.

After bathing and drinking at the Madhumati Stream, the King seated himself at the Sacred spot which was thronged by pilgrims and Temple priests. Owing to the baseness, he witnessed in these people, the King is said to have displayed anger and to have lost faith in the goddess. Having failed to see her manifest herself in a visible and material way, which Jonaraja plausibly explains by a reference to the Kaliyuga and the want of faith in the worshippers, he then endeavored to obtain her sight in a Dream. For this purpose,   the King went to sleep on the night of the 7th day of waxing moon in the month of Bhadrapada in the court of the temple. Sarada, however refused to vouchsafe any sign of her presence to the King in his sleep either. From due regard for the prince’s high personal qualities, the author is forced to ascribe this disappointment to the Wickedness of his servants and the conflux of Mlecchas. Having thus disappointed, the virtuous Zain-ul-abidin, the goddess is said to have, herself, crushed her image to pieces.

It is mentioned unambiguously,  that the idol self-destructed itself. However much later, Alberuni , too has written that a miracle-working image of Sarada, was yet in existence in the early part of the fifteen century, and that its destruction, rightly or wrongly, was connected with a pilgrimage which Zain-ul-abidin made to this site.

In the Sixteenth century, the temple of Sarda must have enjoyed yet considerable reputation in Kashmir itself. This is proved by “ABU-L-FAZL’s” notice of the site(Ain-Akb.,ii.p 365): “At two days distance from Hachamun is the river named padmati(Madhumati), which flows from the Dard(Dard) country. Gold is also found in this river. On its Banks, is a stone-temple called “Sarda”, dedicated to Durga and regarded with great veneration. On every eight tithi of the bright half of the month, it begins to shake and produce the most extraordinary effect.”

Here Haehamn stands plainly for Hayhom: Padmati is an evident clerical error for Madmati, i.e, Madhumati. From the statement which makes this River come from the Dard country, it appears that there is here some confusion between the Madhumati and the Kisanganga, which latter alone can be described as flowing from that region. It must, however, be noticed that a not very clear passage of the Sardamahatmaya,120, seems to ascribe to the Kisanganga also the second name Madhumati.

The notice of Gold being found in the river clearly applies to the Kisanganga, which drains a Mountain region known as auriferous to the present Day. The story told of the Sarada temple Shaking on the eight sudi of each month, is evidently a lingering reflex of the miracle ascribed to Sarda’s image in Jonaraja’s account.

The date indicated is that still observed for pilgrim’s visits to the Shrine, but when A.Stien visited the site in Sep 1892, The legend of the Shaking of limbs or sweat from the forehead of the idol of Sarda was unheard of. In fact, there was no idol of Sarada at all. Instead, a large rough slab on the ground which measures about 6 by 7 feet, with a thickness of about half a foot is worshipped as Goddess Sharda.This stone is believed to cover a KUNDA(spring-cavity), in which Sarada appeared to Sage Sandilya, and is the object of the Pilgrims’ special veneration. At the time of “Stein’s” visit to the temple, a red cloth canopy with plenty of tinsel surmounted the sacred spot. Conches, bells, and other implements of worship filled the remainder of the interior space.

Adi Shankaracharya’s visit to Sarda temple and Kashmir

Most of the Scholars believe that Adi Shankaracharya (A.D-788-820) visited Kashmir in the first quarter of ninth century A.D.

Adi Shankaracharya, a great philosopher is believed to have visited Kashmir in the first quarter of 9th Century (788-820 A.D) .According to writer of ‘Sankara Digvijaya’ — ‘Sankara visited Kashmir after giving a final blow to Buddhism in the rest of India”. PN Magzine,  a research scholar of repute, writes in ‘Shankaracharya Temple and Hill’ that Shankaracharya visited Kashmir with the intention of advancing Vedantic knowledge. That time Kashmiris were culturally and spiritually much advanced and believed strongly in the greatness of both Shiva and Shakti. Shankara did not, at that time, when he visited Kashmir, believe in Shakti cult . PN Magzine mentions that Shankaracharya with his party camped outside the city of Srinagar, without any boarding and lodging arrangements. Seeing the plight of visitors a virgin was sent to meet Shankara. She found the party uneasy and frustrated because of not being able to cook as no fire was made available to them. The first glimpse of Shakti was exhibited to Shankara by this girl, when Shankara expressed his inability to make a fire, in reply to girl’s question that you are so great, can not you make fire. The girl picked up two thin wooden sticks (samidhas) into her hand, recited some mantras and rubbed the sticks and fire was produced to the surprise of Shankara. PN Magzine further adds that later a Shastrarth (religious discourse) was arranged between Shankara and a Kashmiri woman. This discourse continued for 17 days. Shankaracharya yielded before the lady in discussion and accepted the predominance of Shakti cult (greatness of Devi).

According to PN Magzine, after accepting predominance of Shakti cult, Shankara wrote Saundarya Lahari, in praise of Shakti, at the top of the hill, known till then as Gopadari Hill. Pandit Gopi Krishan writer that Panchastavi–gamut of Shakti Shastra–a priceless gem — a peerless hymn of praise addressed to Kundalini. The work has been cited as source book by several eminent scholars, but the name of the author has remained undisclosed”. According to him the only other work in whole gamut of Shakti Shastra in the country, comparable to Panchastavi is Saundarya Lahari. PN Magzine says that Saundarya Lahari is acclaimed as master-piece in Sanskrit literature. After the visit of Adi Shankaracharya to Kashmir, he became staunch believer of Shakti-Shri Chakra – the symbol of Devi (Goddess) as mentioned in ‘Shankara Digvijay’ – Life history of Shankaracharya. Thus we know that even, a very knowledge philosopher, a Saint of greater order- Adi Shankaracharya – gained further depth in spiritualism and mysticism in Kashmir.Kashmiri Pandit – great ‘Mehman Nawaz’ – highly appreciative of knowledge (which has at time proved undoing for them), awarded a degree of the Sharda Peetha, the highest honour conferred on any dignitary of knowledge when Shankaracharya visited Sharda, a famous temple, Shrine of Goddess Saraswati and a famous university of learning.

 

It is believed that was  Adi shankaracharya entered the Sarda temple from its Sothern gate and had a debate with the Scholars of that Area/Temple. He emerged as a winner and was conferred to sit on Sarvanjnanapeetham or Sarvajna peetha(Throne of Wisdom).In his Honor, the southern gate of Sarda temple was closed for ever. The Śāradā image at  Shringeri Shardamba temple was once said to have been made of sandalwood, which is supposed to have been taken by the Shankaracharya from Sarda temple Kashmir.

Adi-Shankaracharya according to Sringeri Sharda peetham

Jagadguru Sri Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada established the first of the four Amnaya Peethams at Sringeri more than twelve centuries ago to foster the sacred tradition of Sanatana Dharma.

Hallowed for all times by Sage Rishyashringa who stayed and performed Tapas here, Sringeri attracted the great Acharya with a remarkable sight.

Tradition has it that after the Acharya had dispersed all the non-Vedic creeds prevailing in the country, He was on the look-out for a convenient and holy place where he could establish an institution to spread the truths of Advaita Vedanta. When the Acharya came to Sringeri, he saw an unusual sight on the banks of the Tunga. A cobra was seen spreading out its hood over a frog in labour pains, to give it shadow from the scorching mid-day sun. Struck with the sanctity of the place, which could infuse love between natural adversaries, the Acharya chose this very location to establish His first Math.

The Madhaviya Shankara Digvijayam describes that the Acharya came across many virtuous people at Sringeri and taught them the doctrine of Advaita. He then invoked the Divinity of Knowledge, Goddess Sharada and consecrated an icon of the Goddess. Thus the Peetham He founded at Sringeri in South India for fostering the Vedas and the sacred tradition of Sanatana Dharma came to be known as the Dakshinamnaya Sri Sharada Peetham.

The Acharya appointed his prime disciple, Sri Sureshwaracharya as the first Acharya of the Peetham. Since then, the Peetham has been blessed with an unbroken Guru Parampara, a garland of spiritual masters and Jivanmuktas representing Sri Adi Shankaracharya. The succeeding Acharyas have led a life of such austere penance that it has led disciples to adore in them the radiance of Sri Adi Shankara Himself.

Sandalwood Idol of Sarda Mata at Sringeri

 

The ancient temple of Sri Sharada, the presiding deity of Sringeri has a glorious history that begins with the setting up of the Dakshinamnaya Peetham by Sri Shankara Bhagavatpada. Originally it was an unpretentious shrine with the Murti of Sharada made of sandalwood, installed over the Sri Chakra that Sri Adi Shankara carved on a rock. Subsequently Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha and Sri Vidyaranya had a temple built in the Kerala style, with timber and tiled roof. Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha substituted the sandalwood idol with the present golden idol.

However, it is not clear whether, the installed idol was the same Idol, that Adi Sankara had allegedly brought with him from Kashmir.

Geographical Availability of Sandalwood in Kashmir and Karnataka

The availability of Sandalwood is abundantly found in and around the district of Chikmaglur (Sringeri comes in this district) in Karnataka. While as, it is hardly found in and around Kashmir valley. But, before coming to any conclusion; it will be pertinent to discuss again, here, the Temple and Legend of Kapteshwar Temple of Kashmir Valley; where, a mysterious Sandalwood idol of Siva used to emerge from a pond.

The legend of Kapatesvara(From Rajatarangini)

The valley of the Arpath or Harsapatha, which opens to the east of Anantnag, is also known as Kuthar. The name is in all probability connected with that of the ancient Tirtha of KAPATESVARA, situated on the Southern side of the valley close to the village of Kother. The name of the latter is undoubtedly a derivative of Kapateshwara as the analogy of Jyether<Jyeshthesvara, Triphar<Tripuresvara, etc. clearly shows.

The place of pilgrimage is the sacred spring of PAPASUNDA(Sin removing), situated a short distance above Kother near Acchabal. In it Lord Shiva is believed to have shown himself in the disguise(Kapata) of pieces of wood floating on the water. The legend is related at length in the Nilmata, and the author of the Haracaritacintamani devotes to it a separate canto which has now become the Official Mahatmaya of the Tirtha.

According to Nilmata; Once many sages stood in great penance on the sacred bank of Drsadvati in Kurukshetra to have a sight of Rudra-the lord of the Gods. Impressed by their Devotion, Shiva told them in a Dream to go soon to Kasmira where there is a spacious and immaculate abode of the Naga. He told them that there he would be visible in Disguise. Having heard him in a dream they all reached the abode of the Naga. They could not see even a little water, for the water was all covered with pieces of wood. Moving the wooden logs with their hands, the best sages obtained Rudrahood with their bodies by merely taking bath.

However, one vasistha Brahman, named Graparasar neither took the bath nor touched the wooden logs. He went on prolonged fasting and made his body decay. Rudra then spoke to him in a dream and advised him to obtain Rudrahood quickly by taking bath and touching the wooden logs.  Gauraparasara persisted, ‘that you can be visible after the attainment of Rudrahood is a fact, ‘O father of the world! But my mind is not satisfied without the sight of the lord of the Gods. You have said that you would be visible in disguise in the abode( of the Naga).

The Brahman refuses to leave and continues fasting, Sankara replies:  I have already provided them, my manifestation in the form of the wooden log. Merely by seeing me, they attained Rudrahood, O twice-Born! Now, due to your penance which is greater, I give you the desired boon. Ask for what you desire and Obtain Rudrahood.

The Brahman demands that Mahesvara should manifest in the form of a wooden log, to all the human beings, as it did to the sages. Mahesvara agrees and remarks, ‘O best among the twice-born, all those people who will see(the god) standing in the form of wood, (will see the gods) not always but only occasionally. With a desire to do favor to them, my gana-the Nandi in the form of wooden log shall always be visible to the human beings. And having seen (him) they would attain Rudrahood with their bodies. As I shall appear before men, so I shall obtain the name, Kapatesvara.

Alberuni too had heard of the Kapateshvara tirtha and its legend. He writes ‘ a pond called Kudaishashr(Kapatesvar) to the left of the source of the vitasta, in the middle of the month of Vaisakha, Mahadeva appears annually.’

AB-L-FAZL, Ain-I Akb, ii, p.358, mentions “in the village of Kotihar, a deep spring surrounded by stone temples. When its water decreases, an image of Mahadeva in Sandalwood appears.”

The sacred spring rises in a large circular tank which is enclosed by an ancient stone-wall and steps leading into the water. According to Kalhana’s account this enclosure was constructed, about a century before his own time, at the expense of the well-known king Bhoja of Malava.The latter is said to have taken a vow always to wash his face in the water of the Papasundana spring.

Connection between Sarda temple and Kapteshwar temple

Though, the architecture of Sharda temple (POK) resembles to that of the Kashmiri architecture , which can still be found in the ruins of Naranaag or the the Sun temple of Martand, But for some reasons, Sir A.Stein thought that the ruins of Sarda resemble most to that of Kapateshwara temple.

Also, it is intriguing,   to note that the famous travelers and Historians of the past, like Alberuni and Ab-L-Fazl, both have written that there was the legend of the mysterious and venerated Idol of Sharda at the Temple (POK). Pertinently, both have mentioned that the wooden idol of Mahadeva would emerge from a pond at Kapatesvara, when its water receded.

This clearly indicates, that in Kashmir, there was use of Sandalwood for making Idols of Gods/Godesses; although it is not clear, how it came into existence for religious purposes and how it ended .But, as of today, The Redoubtable temples of Kashmirian architecture, be it Sarda, Martand, or Naranaag are at the brink of extinction and need immediate attention from the concerned authorities. The hoary legends, that once reverberated in the cradle of Kashmir valley, are reduced to dying  echoes .

However, some of the sacred Hymns like- ‘Kashmir Purvasini, Vidhya Dieyinam Shawetambuj Viharinam, Chaturbuj Dharini… Shattantriveena Vadini… Mokshadayini, Papanashneemam … Vitasta Rupenam … Himachidit Girishshobinam … Kalashamrit Dharayae. Translated this means;Residing in Kashmir from ancient times..giver of knowledge.. seated on a white bird {Swan}..having four arms, carries hundred stringed veena.. giver of moksha and forgiver of sins.. just like with grace of Vitasta {Jhelum River}.. gracing a snow clad mountain..carrying a pot with holy nectar-    will remain immortal. And with it, will live- ‘the legend of Sarda ‘ forever.

And so will the mystery…

 

( by:Sandeep Raj koul)

 

 

 

 

 

sharda1 sharda2

(Photo courtesy: Rukhsana Khan)

 

 

References:

the shrine of Sharda-note B-I 37-Kalhana’s Rajatarangini(M.A.Stein)

tirtha of Kapatesvara,p-467,Kalhana’s Rajtarangini-ii volme(M.A.Stein)

http://www.ikashmir.net/saints/shankracharyavisittokashmir.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharada_Peeth

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandalwood

http://www.sringeri.net/history

http://www.sringeri.net/history/sri-adi-shankaracharya/biography/abridged-madhaviya-shankara-digvijayam/part-5

http://panunkashmir.org/kashmirsentinel/maya1999/4.5.html

http://koausa.org/temples/sharda3.html

 

The legend of Ksheer Bhawani-Tulumulla

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Ksheer Bhawani temple situated at Tullamulla,in the Ganderbal District, is an important shrine.The temple is associated with the Hindu Goddess ,Ragyna Devi.An Annual festival is held here on Jest-Ashtami(May-Jun) when Hindus visit this place in large numbers.Pilgrims also throng on every Shukla-Paksh Ashtami(eight day of waxing moon) round the year and perform havans to please the Mother.
The historic temple of Ksheer Bhawani was built by Maharaja Pratap Singh in 1912 and later renovated by Maharaja Hari singh. Surrounded by streams, the place abounds in Chinar Trees in-and-around the compound complex, within which is a Hexagonal spring, wherein the Diety of Goddess Ragyna is decorated and housed in a small White marble temple.
The legend goes that Ravana worshiped Mother Ragyna, who showered her blessings on his Kingdom. The goddess thus resided in Srilanka. Later on due to Ravanas misdeeds, the Goddess cursed him and ordered Hanumanji to take her to “Satisar”(Kashmir).A place cut off from the outside world by snow-clad Mountains.The Mother on her vehicle along with 360 Nagas, was installed at Tulumullah. Exclusively preferring Milk, sugar and all vegetarian form of offering,The Mother is worshiped by the name of “Maha Ragyna”.

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The abode of the Mata Maha Ragyna is mystic spring.This mystic is only one, and one in four of the world, where numerous Nagraj and their Ashtakul-Nag Devas reside. Sh.Ganapati, Bhimraj and Kumar reside at the door of Amrit-Kund.In the middle of Amrit-Kund, towards East resides Astanag Devas namely Vasukinag, Neel Nagraj, Takshak Nagraj,Padbnagraj, Maha Padam Nagraj etc. In the center of the Amritkund, Anant Nagraj resides which is surrounded by one thousand crore Nagas having two thousand eyes and two thousand tongues.Mata Maha Ragyna is seated on this Anant Nagraj on the one thousand petalled Rose.The temple in Amrit Kund is a divine invitation to all the devotees to see how Para-Prakrati Functions.It is vivid(intriguing) that the colour of the spring changes, serving as an oblique Omen, about what is going to happen in near future.The pink, Milky, light Green colour of the spring suggests the Auspicious Omen, and the Black, dark Red indicates the wrong and inauspicious Signals.
Tulmulla Nag, where the Mata Maha Ragyna resides, in the form of Jal-Rupi(water-form), having the form of water or Serpent has allegorical meanings.The surrounding water of Island is the Ocean of infinite life energy full of dormant potentialities Which spread unfold, expand and transport into tangible reality,The Goddess under the Canopy is the precious stone that grants all desire.
As late as 1844, People used to cross the marshes by walking over Reeds growing in the Sump.The legend has it, that the curiosity about the spring spread further, when the learned Brahmin, Sh. Govindjoo Gadoo had a vision of the Goddess, who manifested herself as a serpent.The devotee Brahmin carried a vessel of Milk, arranged a Boat, rowed through the marshes of Tulumulla and upon reaching the sacred spot to which the Serpent/Spring Goddess had led him, slowly poured out the Milk.

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Supreme Mother Ragyna is variably  “Maha Ragyna”. The word “Ragyna” means the divinity of establishing, preservation and protection of manifested world. She is the most adorable Mother, who brings forth the entire Universe. She keeps the cycle of life in the process through different tires of consciousness, known as “citta-agni-kunda-sambhuta”, which refers to the consciousness aspect. She accepts no trace of ignorance. She is the vaishnavi sprit, always in the tune with her consort adored as “thousand faced-Bhuteshwara”.
As we know the Vedas, tantras and Sutras are the rare source of knowledge of the supreme reality, which on the practical realization give true solace and eternal joy.Among the paths, suggested by the sutras for realization of the truth, sufficient importance has been laid on the path of Devotion.The sincere, clear and true devotion lies in the sense of Motherhood, which is an undeniable fact.Supreme power therefore is approached and worshiped  as mother.The mother is thus the supreme reality, supreme love,supreme beauty. Realization of this truth supreme sublime and divine as Mother is the final beautitute  of life.
Ksheer Bhawani is eulogised as the Goddess of learning and Knowledge on the mundane level and Goddess of wisdom and enlightment on the spritual level.She values education and grants blessing for various examinations to all her Devotees.It is said that all the leading saints have undergone penance “Sadhna”, in the Ksheer Bhawani complex, and got the spiritual  Bliss at this Place.

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Hindus and Hinduism in Kashmir: A Saga of CONVERSION, DEATH and EXILE

[ written by Dr Satish Ganjoo]

The reclamation of land from Satisar created certain complications. The Saraswati River that flowed into the eastern Punjab, Rajasthan, Sind and other parts of Indian subcontinent suddenly got dried up. Geologists are of the opinion that all those streams, which fed Satisar and form the source of water for the Saraswati river, mostly ran underground. Once the cleft materialized at Baramulla, the water of the Satisar flowed out in an opposite direction, leaving the Saraswati basin dry. The Aryan Saraswat Brahmans, who used to live on the banks of Saraswati river, migrated to the Kashmir Valley to continue their austerities. With the passage of time these people came to be known as ‘Bhattas’ in Kashmir. The word is derivative of Brahman. Now they are called the Kashmiri Pandits or the Aryan Saraswat Brahmans of Kashmir, who believe in the mystic combination of Shaivism, Kali Bhakti, Shakta worship and Tantra.
The history of Hindus and Hinduism in Kashmir is as old as the creation of land itself. They are associated with its society, culture, civilization, customs, traditions, myths and realities. The rise of Buddhism and reactions by Brahmans gave rise to a long struggle between the two rival ideologies. The Naga (Snake) worship was also the dominant religion in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C. However, Buddhism flourished in the Valley during the reign of Durnadeo, Simhadeo, Sundersen, Ashoka and Kanishka. The great Buddhist council was held at Kanishpur in Kashmir during the rule of Kanishka and it was presided over by two eminent scholars — Asvaghosha and Vasumitra. About 500 monks from different parts of the subcontinent attended the same. Nagarjuna , a Bodhisattva and the greatest philosopher of Buddhism, lived in Kashmir. During the reign of Abhimanu, a number of people were converted to Buddhism. It was first struggle of the Kashmiri Brahmans for their survival. A number of Kashmiri scholars – Kumarajiva (AD 384-417), Shakyashri Badhra (AD 405), Ratnavera, Shama Bhatta (5th Cen AD) and others went to China and Tibet to preach Buddhism. However, the Brahmans regained their supremacy during the reign of Nara I . The struggle between Buddhism and Brahmanism came to an end with the emergence of modern Hinduism. A period of comparative historical validity began with the establishment of the Karkuta rule in AD 627. Avantivarman (AD 855-833) is believed to be the first Vaishnavite ruler of Kashmir. During his rule there was a tremendous cultural development in the Valley. The great Shaiva philosophers of this period were Kayyatacharya, Somananda, Muktakantha Swamin, Shiva Swamin, Ananda Vardhana and Kallata. The struggle between the Brahmans and other castes, such as Kayasthas, began during the reign of Shankara Varman. The authority of the Brahmans was broken and the sacred character of their citadels was violated. However, the Shaivite thought and philosophy flourished. Pradyumana Bhatta, Utpalacharya, Rama Kantha, Prajnarjuna, Lachaman Gupta and Mahadeva Bhatta have made a tremendous contribution to this philosophy. During the regime of Lohara dynasty, Kashmir came into contact with the Muslim invaders who attacked India. When Mahmud Ghazni annexed the Punjab, most of the tribes on the borders of Kashmir embraced Islam. At that time, the Valley was ruled by Sangram Raja (AD 1003-1028). Even after their conversion to Islam, these people continued to visit Kashmir – as traders, wanderers and even missionaries. There are historical evidences that some of these tribals settled in the Valley and made some venture into propagating their new religion.
Harsha (AD 1089-1101), was a man of extravagant habits and a jumble of contraries. He robbed the temple treasures and melt idols of gold and silver to tide over his financial crisis. Before him two other kings, Jalauka and Kalasa, employed the same approach of plundering the temples and melting the images of gold and silver to augment their depleted treasuries. Harsha also employed Muslim generals, who are called Turushkas by Kalhana, for the first time in the history of Kashmir. Now Muslims as a class appeared in the political field and began to consolidate its roots. Bhikshachara, a descendant of Harsha, organized a cavalry force mainly consisting of the Muslims. During the reign of Gopadeva (AD 1171-1180), the Brahmans consolidated their position. But the Lavanya tribe shattered their roots once again. The Damaras, Lavanyas and other tribes never allowed the Brahmans to monopolize. In the reign of Jassaka (AD 1180-1198), two Brahmans – Kshuksa and Bhima, endeavored to capture the throne. But it was the fear of Damaras or feudal lords that prevented them. Ramadeva (AD 1252-1273) humiliated those Brahmans who had helped him in his coronation. They conspired against him but could not succeed. A reign of terror, loot and plunder was let loose against them. Many Brahmans were killed and others crushed barbarously. This was the first direct assault against them in the history of Kashmir. To save themselves they cried “ Na Batoham” (I am not a Bhatta). The Kashmiri Pandits are even now taunted as Bhattas and Dalli Bhattas.
To counter the supremacy of the Brahmans, the rulers of Kashmir encouraged the influx of Muslims into the Valley. During the reign of Suhadeva (AD 1301-1320) many Muslim adventurers came to Kashmir. The chief among them was a Muslim missionary- Bulbul Shah. Two others were Shahmir from Swat and Rinchana from Tibet. Shahmir came in AD 1313 along with his numerous relations. Suhadeva granted him a jagir in a village near Baramulla. Ramachandra, the Prime Minister and Commander-in-Chief of Kashmir, employed Rinchana and granted him jagir in a village in the Lar Valley. These two adventurers were instrumental in the establishment of the Muslim rule in Kashmir. Another adventurer who received Suhadeva’s patronage was Lankar Chak.
Dulucha, a Tartar chief from Central Asia, invaded Kashmir with 60,000 strong horsemen. Suhadeva tried to induce him to retreat by paying him off a large sum of money. For this purpose he imposed heavy taxes even upon the Brahmans who had never before been taxed. But Dulucha refused to retreat and struck terror. He ravaged the Valley with fire and sword. Monstrous miseries were inflicted upon the people including the Brahmans. According to Baharistan – i -Shahi, “Dulucha and his soldiers killed everyone they could find . People who had fled to the hills and forests were pursued and captured. Men were killed, women and children were reduced to slavery and sold to the merchants of Khita (Turkistan), whom the invaders had brought with them. All the houses in the cities and the villages were burnt. The invaders ate as much of the corn and rice as they could . Whatever was left, they burnt and destroyed. In this way the whole of the Kashmir Valley was trampled under foot”. Suhadeva fled to Kishtwar, leaving the Kingdom to the cruel aggressors. Dulucha stayed here for eight months and took about 50,000 Brahmans with him as slaves. But all the troops and slaves perished while crossing the Devsar pass. It was a terrible experience for the legendary Kashmiri Pandits.
Dulucha went away from the Valley but left it haunted. The cursed people had lost all faith in their ruler- Suhadeva. Taking the advantage of the chaos and confusion, Rinchana- the refugee from Tibet, occupied the throne with the help of some chiefs . He killed his benefactor, Ramachandra, in the fort of Lar by treacherous means and married his daughter, Kota Rani.
Rinchana, a pseudo- Buddhist, wanted to get initiated into the Brahmanical fold to strengthen his political position. At that time, Shaivism was the most extensively practised religion in the Valley. So he called Sri Devaswami, the religious head of the Shaivas, to indoctrinate himself into the Hindu religion. Devaswami called a secret meeting of the prominent Pandits, who refused to accept Rinchana into Hinduism because of his low birth. Jonaraja says,” The King asked Devaswami to initiate him in the mantras of Shiva, but as he was Bhautta (Tibetian), Devaswami feared that the King was unworthy of such initiation and did not favour him”. This was a monstrous blunder on the part of Pandits, which turned the course of history. In fact, the Brahmans were not ready to share their privileges with an outsider. Thus deflected, Rinchana wanted to establish a uniform faith of warring sects and creeds in Kashmir with himself as its head. But Shahmir and Bulbul Shah manipulated his conversion to Islam. Ramachandra’s son, Ravanachandra, and many others also embraced Islam. A Muslim ruling class came into existence. In this way the Kashmiri Pandits were responsible for the destruction of their own ascendency and the ruin of their very existence. They are tremendously paying for it till today.
People of inferior origin and subordinate castes were attracted to Islam by gradual methods. This newly established Muslim class slowly consolidated its position and employed various methods to propagate the new faith. However, the Brahmans put a brave front and resisted the tide. After the death of Rinchana (AD 1326), Udyanadeva, the brother of Suhadeva, was installed on the throne of Kashmir and Shahmir was appointed as Commander-in-Chief.
Achala, a Turkish chief, invaded Kashmir during the reign of Udyanadeva, laying waste the territories he passed through. The king fled to Tibet. Kota Rani – the queen, faced the invader, procured his death and saved the kingdom. In this operation , Shahmir played the dominant role. Jonaraja says, “Strange that this believer in Allah became the saviour of the people. As a dried up river allows men to cross it and gives them shelter on its banks, even so this believer in Allah, calm and active, protected the terrified subjects.” Shahmir’s influence increased tremendously and he further strengthened his position by entering into matrimonial relations with the powerful nobles in Kashmir. A subversive struggle was born between the tolerant Hinduism and the militant Islam.
In AD 1339, after defeating Kota Rain by a foul strategem and procuring her death, Shahmir ascended the throne of Kashmir under the name of Sultan Shamas-ud-Din (The Light of the Religion – Islam). He got khutaba read and the coins struck to his name. Islam became the court religion. Shahmir became the legitimate author and architect of Muslim rule in Kashmir. With the establishment of the new regime Muslim missionaries, preachers, sayyids and saints penetrated into the Valley. Sayyid Jalal-ud-Din, Sayyid Taj-ud-Din, Sayyid Hussain Simnani, Sayyid Masud and Sayyid Yusuf came to Kashmir to avoid the intended massacre by Timur. Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani (Shah Hamadan) entered Kashmir with 700 sayyids; and, his son, Mir Muhammad Hamadani, with 300 more. They endured in the Valley under royal protection and disseminated the message of Islam. Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani (AD 1314-AD 1385) wrote in “ Zakhirat’ul Maluk ” :

1. Muslim ruler shall not allow fresh constructions of Hindu temples and shrines for image worship.
2. No repair shall be executed to the existing Hindu temples and shrines.
3. They shall not proffer Muslim names.
4. They shall not ride a harnessed horse.
5. They shall not move about with arms.
6. They shall not wear rings with diamonds.
7. They shall not deal in or eat bacon.
8. They shall not exhibit idolatrous images.
9. They shall not built houses in the neighbourhood of Muslims.
10. They shall not dispose of their dead in the neighbourhood of Muslim graveyards, nor weep or wail over their dead.
11. They shall not deal in or buy Muslim slaves.
12. No Muslim traveller shall be refused lodging in the Hindu temples and shrines where he shall be treated as a guest for three days by non-Muslims.
13. No non-Muslim shall act as a spy in the Muslim state.
14. No problem shall be created for those non-Muslims who, of their own will, show their readiness for Islam.
15. Non-Muslims shall honour Muslims and shall leave their assembly whenever the Muslims enter the premises.
16. The dress of non-Muslims shall be different from that of Muslims to distinguish themselves.
This naturally caused animosity among the Brahmans and resulted in frail rebellion during the reign of Shihab-ud-Din (AD 1354-1373). In order to break the upheaval among the Hindus and to make them prostrate, the Sultan turned his attention towards their temples. All the temples in Srinagar, including the one at Bijbehara, were wrecked to terrorize the poor Kashmiri Pandits. It seems that by this time, the sultans of Kashmir were perfectly islamized as a result of their contacts, interactions and intercourses with the sayyids. These sayyids came here as absconders in search of safe harbours, but manoeuvered the events for their own cause and fanatic iconoclastic zeal. The Hindus began to feel deserted and alienated in their own land. To consolidate their rule, sultans institutionalized the “policy of extermination” to eradicate all traces of Hinduism in any form. However, the Kashmiri Pandits stuck to their own religion and traditions, ignoring the atrocities, barbarism and cruelties of the privileged ruling class. But there were many from other castes who, either by conviction or in order to gain royal favour, embraced Islam. These new converts were looked down upon by the Kashmiri Pandits as traitorous and treacherous, with no loyalty for time-honored values. This gave rise to a new class rivalry. Suha Bhatt, who after embracing Islam took the name of Saif-ud-Din, became the leader of the fresh converts during the reign of Sikandar (AD 1389-1413).
Sikandar- the Butshikan, was bigoted with fanatic religious zeal to spread Islam in the entire Valley. This fanaticism was stimulated by Mir Muhammad Hamadani. Suha Bhatt – the convert, was appointed Prime Minister by Sikandar and both hatched a deadly conspiracy to persecute the Hindus and enforce upon the Nizam-i-Mustaffa. Jonaraja says, “ The Sultan forgot his kingly duties and took delight day and night in breaking images … He broke images of Martanda, Vishaya, Ishana, Chakrabrit and Tripureshvara …… There was no city, no town, no village, no wood where Turushka left the temples of the gods unbroken.” According to Hassan (History of Kashmir), “ This country possessed from the times of Hindu rajas many temples which were like the wonders of the world. Their workmanship was so fine and delicate that one found himself bewildered at their sight. Sikandar, goaded by feelings of bigotry, destroyed them and levelled them with the earth and with the material built many mosques and khanqahs. In the first instance he turned his attention towards the great Martand temple built by Ramdev (the temple was rebuilt by King Lalitaditya, AD 724-760) on Mattan Kareva. For one year he tried to demolish it, but failed. At last in sheer dismay, he dug out stones from its base and having stored enough wood in their place, set fire to it. The gold gilt paintings on its walls were totally destroyed and the walls surrounding its premises were demolished. Its ruins even now strike wonder in men’s minds. At Bijbehara, three hundred temples including the famous Vijiveshwara temple, which was partly damaged by Shihab-ud-Din, were destroyed. With the material of Vijiveshwara temple, a mosque was built and on its site a khanqah, which is even now known as Vijiveshwara Khanqah.” The stones and bricks which once configurated a marvelous and splendid temple or monastery, now hold up mosques. Hassan further adds, “ Sikandar meted out greatest oppression to the Hindus. It was notified in the Valley that if a Hindu does not become a Muslim, he must leave the country or be killed. As a result some of the Hindus fled away, some accepted Islam and many Brahmans consented to be killed and gave their lives. It is said that Sikandar collected, by these methods, six maunds of sacred thread form Hindu converts and burnt them. Mir Muhammad Hamadani, who was a witness of all this vicious brutality, barbarism and vandalism, at last advised him to desist from the slaughter of Brahmans and told him to impose jazia (religious tax) instead of death upon them. All the Hindu books of learning were collected and thrown into Dal Lake and were buried beneath stones and earth.” Sikandar issued orders that no man should wear the tilak mark on his forehead and no woman be allowed to perform sati. He also insisted on breaking and melting of all the gold and silver idols of gods and coin the metal into money. An attempt was made to destroy the caste of the Aryan Saraswat Brahmans by force and those who resisted were subject to heavy fines. Farishta says, “ Many of the Brahmans, rather than abandon their religion or their county, poisoned themselves; some emigrated from their native homes, while a few escaped the evil of banishment by becoming Muhammedans”. To strictly enforce the Nizam-i-Mustaffa, Sikandar established the office of Shaikh-ul-Islam.
According to W.R. Lawrence, the Aryan Saraswat Brahmans of Kashmir were given three choices-death, conversion or exile. “Many fled, many were converted and many were killed, and it is said that this thorough monarch (Sikandar) burnt seven maunds of sacred threads of the murdered Brahmans”. As for the statements of Hassan and Lawrence, six maunds of sacred threads of converts and seven maunds of murdered Pandits were burnt. The number of people, to whom these thirteen maunds of sacred threads belonged, might have been tremendously colossal. A mammoth number of the Saraswat Pandits also went into exile, causing the first disastrous mass exodus of the community. When Suha Bhatt- the convert, came to know that many Brahmans were leaving Kashmir, he tried to check their exodus and ordered the frontier guards not to allow any one to cross the borders. The unfortunate Pandits caught while crossing the border were awarded severe punishments. Even the converts were required to pay jazia as they were suspected of secretly clinging to their old religion.
Not only Sikandar- the Butshikan, but Suha Bhatta – the convert, also was responsible for this barbarous, murderous and cruel approach towards the mythical Kashmiri Pandits. Jonaraja says, “ Suha Bhatta- the convert, after demolishing the temples felt the satisfaction, and with the help of sayyids, ulema and newly converts tried to destroy the caste of the people… the illustrious Brahmans declared that they would die rather than lose their caste and religion, and Suha Bhatta – the convert, subjected them to a heavy fine, jazia, because they held to their caste and religion.” There is no parallel of this religious persecution in the history of the subcontinent.
Ali Shah – the tyrant (AD 1413-1430), son of Sikandar- the Butshikan, during his short rule of six years, carried on his father’s 24-year tyrant reign with homicides, conversions, tyranny and enforced jazia. Suha Bhatta – the convert, who retained the prime ministership continued his earlier crimes and atrocities against the Kashmiri Pandits. Jonaraja gives a graphic account of the plight of the illustrious Kashmiri Pandits in the draconian reign of Ali Shah. He says,” Suha Bhatta- the convert, passed the limit by levying fine, jazia, on the twice – born. This evil-minded man forbade ceremonies and processions on the new moon. He became envious that the Brahmans who had become fearless would keep up their caste by going over to foreign countries, he therefore ordered posting of squads on the roads, not to allow passage to any one without a passport. Then as the fisherman torments fish, so this low born man tormented the twice-born in this country. The legendary Brahmans burnt themselves in the flaming fire through fear of conversion. Some Brahmans killed themselves by taking poison, some by the rope and others by drowning themselves. Others again by falling from a precipice. The country was contaminated by hatred and the king’s favourites could not prevent one in a thousand from committing suicide …. A multitude of celebrated Brahmans, who prided in their caste, fled from the country through bye-roads as the main roads were closed. Even as men depart from this world, so did the Aryan Saraswat Brahmans of Kashmir flee to foreign countries. The difficult countries through which they passed, the scanty food, painful illness and the torments of hell during life time removed from the minds of the Kashmiri Pandits the fears of hell. Oppressed by various calamities such as encounter with the enemy, fear of snakes, fierce heat and scanty food; many Brahmans perished on the way and thus obtained salvation.” This was the second miserable mass exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits. Jonaraja calls it “ Chandh-Dandh” – violent, cruel, brutal and horrible punishment, for the abandoned and vulnerable Saraswat Brahmans of Kashmir. History repeated itself again in AD 1989-1990.
The brutal religious persecution of the Kashmiri Pandits has been borne testimony to by almost all the Muslim historians. Hassan, Fauq and Nizam – ud – Din have condemned these excesses in unscathing terms. It was the reign of terror and homicide. The majority of the Hindus were converted forcibly and a large number had left the Valley. Yet many more were passing their days in the most deplorable conditions only on payment of jazia. The allowances of the Brahman academicians were stopped to destroy the ancient learning, literature, education, art and culture. These enlightened intellectuals had to move from door to door for food, like dogs. One can’t imagine a higher level of mental torture!
The Brahmans, even after paying jazia, could not openly declare themselves as Hindus nor could they apply tilak on their foreheads. Neither could they pray in their temples or perform any religious ceremony. Even then they did not forget their past and rich tradition. As the custodians of their extraordinary cultural heritage, they wrote the illuminating treatises on the stupendous Kashmir Shaivism, colossal literature, splendid art, marvelous music, grammar and medicine.
Sultan Zainul Abidin-the Budshah (Great Monarch), ruled Kashmir from AD 1420 to 1460. The son of Sultan Sikandar – the Butshikan, and the brother of Sultan Ali Shah- the tyrant, Zainul Abidin followed the policy of tolerance, endurance, patience, sympathy and broad mindedness. He recalled the Kashmiri Pandits who had left the Valley during the rule of Sikandar and Ali Shah. Jazia was abolished and the Brahmans were given their earlier positions in administration. Demolished temples were rebuilt and new ones constructed. Two temples were built by Zainul Abidin at Ishbar, Srinagar. The Sultan also participated in the Hindu festivals. A large number of houses were built for the widows of the Brahmans who had suffered during the reign of terror. Zainul Abidin stopped the killing of cows, restricted the eating of beef and catching of fish in the sacred springs of the Hindus. Even the personal law as laid down in the Shastras was adopted for the Hindus. The legenday Kashmiri Pandits were resurrected and resuscitated. Ferguson observes that indeed history has very few examples where the policy of a father was so completely reversed by the son. Even the Mughal monarch, Akbar – the great , capitalized on the religious policy of Zainul Abidin. But the conservative and dogmatic Muslims reacted very sharply to this policy of toleration and mutual coexistence . According to Mulla Bahauddin, “ The Sultan reimported practices of infidels which had once become extinct”.
But the honey-moon of the Kashmiri Pandits proved very brief. During the reign of Haider Shah (AD 1470-1472) – the prodigal son of the great Zainul Abidin, Kashmiri Pandits once again suffered tremendously. Under the evil influence of Purni- the Hindu barber, Haider Shah adopted various corrupt and cruel practices against the Saraswat Brahmans. The repression was so terrible that the tolerant Pandits lost their cool. Hassan says, “ the patience of the Pandits having reached the breaking point, they rose in a body and set fire to some mosques which were built with the material of the Hindu temples once demolished by Sikandar. The rising was quelled by the sword; many more Pandits were drowned in rivers; and, loot and plunder was practiced with unbridled licence.” Srivara also illustrates the cruel and inhuman treatment given to the mythical Kashmiri Saraswat Brahmans, “ many Pandits struggled and threw themselves in river Vitasta to be drowned there. The arms and noses of many people were cut off, even of those Brahmans who were king’s servants.” Ravage and arson of the sacred places continued during the indifferent rule of Hassan Khan (AD 1476-1487), when the real authority was with the gang of three persons- Shams Chak, Shringhar Raina and Musa Raina. The pressure exerted on the illustrious Kashmiri Pandits was so barbarous that, in order to save themselves from merciless brutality, some of them gave up their caste and screamed – “ I am not a Bhatta, I am not a Bhatta” ( I am not a Hindu). They went in strict seclusion to avoid any argument or controversy.
Mir Shams-ud-Din Iraqi, who visited the Saffron Valley twice in AD 1477 and 1496, was the founder of Nurbakhshiya order (Shia sect) in Kashmir. His mission was the vigorous propagation of his faith. So, not contented with peaceful preachings, violent methods were employed. In this adventure , Iraqi was helped by the homicidal creature and most dreaded tyrant- Malik Musa Raina, a convertee, whose original name was Soma Chandra. Not only the poor vulnerable Brahmans, but the Sunni Muslims were also violently converted to Shia sect by murderous techniques. This dogmatic fanaticism even crippled the Sunni ruler of Kashmir, Fateh Shah (AD 1510-1517). A khanqah was built at Zadibal (Srinagar) by Iraqi, which became the nucleus of Shia concentration.
Kashmiri Pandits suffered ferociously under the instructions of Shams-ud-Din Iraqi and Musa Raina. About 24,000 of them were forcibly converted to Shia sect of Islam. Iraqi had even issued orders that everyday about 1500 to 2000 Brahmans be brought to his doorsteps, remove their sacred threads, administer Kalima to them, circumcise them and make them eat beef. These decrees were ferociously and brutally carried out. The Hindu religious scriptures from 7th century AD onwards and about 18 magnificent temples were destroyed, property confiscated and ladies abused. Thousands of Brahmans killed themselves to evade this horrific barbarism and thousands migrated to other places, resulting in their third tragic mass exodus from the Saffron Valley of Kashmir. Those who stayed behind were not only forced to pay jazia, but their noses and ears were chopped off. To escape the tremendous pain and agony, they cried. “I am not a Hindu.” After Kashmir , the next destination of Iraqi for war against so-called infidelity was Kargil. It is now a Shia –dominated area and there are frequent sectarian clashes between them and the Buddhists.
In AD 1519, about ten thousand Kashmiri Pandits died during pilgrimage to Harmukh Ganga, where they had gone to immerse the ashes of those eight hundred Hindus who had been massacred during Ashura a year before. Poet-historian Suka says about this cataclysm, “ Ganga was oppressed with hunger, as it was after a long time that she had devoured bones; she surely devoured the men also who carried the bones.” It was after a gap of many years that the people were allowed to go on a pilgrimage to Harmukh lake, which ended in the most devastating tragedy.
Qazi Chak, the founder of Chak rule in Kashmir (AD 1553-1586), carried on ferocious religious policy and made conversion of many Hindus to Shia sect of Islam. According to Suka, one thousand cows were used to be killed everyday without any opposition under the orders of the Chak rulers, who were Shias, just to injure the religious sentiments of the Kashmiri Pandits. These celebrated and highly educated Aryan Saraswat Brahmans were made the objects of laughter and reproach. They were publically taunted, abused and humiliated. The last Chak ruler, Yaqub Chak, had a bigoted zeal for the propagation of Shia sect and planned mass conversion of the Hindus. However, he could not administer his criminal designs because of the Mughal annexation.
Akbar was tremendously influenced by the amazing moral supremacy of the Kashmiri Pandits. Abul Fazl records in Ain-i-Akbari, “ the most respectable class in this country (Kashmir) is that of the Pandits, who, notwithstanding their need for freedom from the bonds of tradition and custom, are the true worshippers of God. They do not loosen their tongue of calumny against those not of their faith, nor beg, nor importune. They employ themselves in planting fruit trees and are generally a source of inspiration for others”. The great Mughal Emperor abolished jazia and other unjust taxes imposed upon the Hindus. He also evinced great interest in the rehabilitation of the Pandits. Suka says, “ The Emperor announced that he would without delay reward those who would respect the Brahmans in Kashmir and that he would instantly pull down the houses of those who would demand the annual tribute from them.” The greatness of Akbar lies in his magnificent and fascinating policy of religious tolerance. Jahangir and Shah Jahan were not so tolerant. But their religious enthusiasm cannot be termed as fanatic. During this period, the Brahmans could perform their religious ceremonies after paying some tribute. But the whole scenario changed with the accession of Aurangzeb to the throne. With his bigoted fanatic and dogmatic approach, the Kashmiri Pandits were once again made vulnerable. Iftkar Khan, the Mughal governor of Kashmir during the reign of Aurangzeb, brutally tyrannized over the Brahmans to such an extent that they approached Guru Teg Bhahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru, at Anandpur in Punjab and solicited his personal intervention with the Emperor. This ultimately led to the Guru’s martyrdom and made Guru Gobid Singh to create the Khalsa to fight the oppressors . Muzaffer Khan, Nassar Khan and Ibrahim Khan were other governors of Aurangzeb who ferociously terrorized the Kashmiri Pandits. These celebrated scapegoats were once again forced to migrate from the land of their origin. It was the fourth disastrous mass exodus of the Aryan Saraswat Brahmans from Kashmir.
During the rule of later Mughals, Kashmir witnessed the outbreak of the worst kind of religious intolerance. In AD 1720, Mullah Abdul Nabi, also called Muhat Khan, a non-resident Kashmiri Muslim, was appointed as Shaikhul Islam . In order to assert his religious authority, he asked the Deputy Governor, Mir Ahmed Khan , to start a campaign of persecution of the Kafirs (infidels) – as the Kashmiri Pandits were called. In order to satisfy his satanic ego, the Mulla issued six commandments:

1. No Hindu should ride a horse, nor should a Hindu wear a shoe;
2. That they should not wear Jama (Mughal costume);
3. That they should move bare arms;
4. That they should not visit any garden;
5. That they should not have tilak mark on their foreheads;
6. That their children should not receive any education.

But Ahmed Khan refused to execute the mischievous decree. The Mullah then excited his followers against the Kashmiri Pandits. He established his seat in a mosque, assumed the duties of the administrator under the title of Dindar Khan and let loose the reign of terror. The Hindus were wickedly tormented, their houses burnt and property looted. Hundreds of Brahmans were killed, prostrated, maimed and humiliated. They began to run away in large numbers and hide themselves in mountainous terrain. This was the fifth dreadful mass exodus of the legendary Kashmiri Pandits from their mystic motherland. Those who remained behind lived in the most horrific and terrible conditions generated by the Mullah and his gang. But soon he was assassinated by his rivals and his son, Sharif-ud-Din, become the new Shaikhul-Islam. The son improved upon the brutal methods of his father and inflicted most barbaric, cruel and inhuman tortures upon the vulnerable Brahmans. The plight of the Kashmiri Pandits during this period became tremendously miserable and tragic.
The Afghan rule in Kashmir (AD 1753-1819) was a period of cruelty, homicide and anarchy. W.R. Lawrence calls it the “reign of brutal tyranny.” The barbarous Afghans employed every wild, inhuman, primitive, ferocious, cruel and brutal method to suppress the Kashmiri Brahmans. A pitcher filled with ordure was placed on the head of a Pandit and stones were pelt on it, till it broke and the unfortunate Brahman become wet with filth. Their brutality and atrocity crossed the extreme limits when Hindus were tied up in grass sacks, two and two, and drowned in the Dal Lake. The victimized Hindu were forced to flee the country or were killed or converted to Islam. There was horrible mass exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits, sixth one, to far away places like Delhi, Allahabad, etc. Many covered the long distances on foot.
Hindu parents destroyed the beauty of their daughters by shaving their heads or cutting their noses and ears to save them from degradation. Any Muslim could jump on the back of a Pandit and take a ride. Mir Hazar – an Afghan governor, used leather bags instead of grass sacks for the drowning of Brahmans. Turbans and shoes were forbidden for them. The Saraswat Brahmans of Kashmir were also forced to grow beards and tilak was interdicted. The Afghans are now only remembered for their barbarity, brutality, ferocity, tyranny and cruelty. They thought no more of cutting of heads than of plucking a flower.
The Shahmirs, Chaks, Mughals and homicidal Afghans tore the fabric of society in Kashmir and left deep scars on it. When the Afghan oppression became intolerable, the Pandits turned with hope to the rising power of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. But they were suspected. The Afghan governor, Azim Khan, confiscated their jagirs and imposed jazia on them. Eminent Pandits were brutally killed, humiliated and their authority was snatched. Nur Shah Diwani – a cruel Muslim official who was in charge of revenue collection, hatched a conspiracy in league with Azim Khan to eliminate the distinguished Kashmiri Brahmans. But this evil manoeuvre was exposed and a galaxy of Pandits saved. Pandit Sahajram, the Diwan, played a prominent role in the rescue operation.
Azim Khan had appointed Sukhram Safaya, Mirza Pandit and Birbal Dhar as revenue collectors. Birbal Dhar could not collect the required amount due to failure of crops. The atrocious Afghan governor browbeated Pandit Birbal to make the payment of one lac rupees. Rowdy and boisterous soldiers were send to threaten him and other Pandits. Sensing the Afghan tsunami, distinguished Kashmiri Pandits called a backstairs meeting in which it was resolved to invite Ranjit Singh for the conquest of Kashmir and salvation of the Aryan Saraswat Brahmans. Accordingly Birbal Dhar and his minor son, Raja Kak Dhar, secretly left for Lahore with a petition signed by the prominent Kashmiri Pandits through which as invitation was extended to Ranjit Singh to take over the Valley. When Azim Khan came to know about these developments, he sent his soldiers to nab Birbal Dhar and teach him a lesson. But when these bandits met with no success, the cruel governor turned his guns towards the wife and daughter-in-law of Birbal Dhar . Both the ladies had taken shelter in the house of a trustworthy Muslim, Qadus Gojwari. Azim Khan asked Pandit Basa Kak to hunt down the innocent ladies. Basa Kak knew about the retreat of ladies but did not disclose it even after monstrous tortures and oppressive penalties. At last his abdomen was ripped open in the most barbarous manner and the dead body discredited – the most unfortunate and brutal crime against humanity in the civilized world. The poor ladies were also captured . Birbal Dhar’s wife committed suicide by swallowing a piece of diamond. The younger lady was violently converted to Islam and handed over to an Afghan noble, who carried her to Kabul.
Nervous to the marrow of his bones and crazy with rage, Azim Khan tormented all those Kashmiri Brahmans whom he suspected to be in league with Birbal Dhar. Prominent Pandits were detained in a concentration camp at Nishat Garden and ferociously tortured. But on learning about the Sikh advances towards Kashmir, he lost all nerve and solicited instruction from Pandit Sahajram Dhar. The illustrious Pandit advised him to sent off his ladies folk to Kabul. It was the only way to save them from the ignominious treatment. Sahajram himself escorted the ladies to Kabul and saved them from disastrous shame. Azim Khan himself ran away from the Valley, leaving the administration into the hands of his brother, Jabbar Khan. However, atrocious Afghans were crushed and the Sikhs annexed Kashmir. Some extremist Sikhs, including Phul Singh, endeavoured to knock down the mosque of Shah Hamadan. But celebrated Birbal Dhar, at a considerable risk to his own life, made them desist from this action. According to GMD Sufi, “ It is to the lasting credit of Birbal Dhar that when a deputation of Muslims headed by Sayyid Hasan Shah Qadiri Khanyari approached him to dissuade the Sikhs from the destruction of the Khanqah, he moved in the matter, used his influence and saved this historical structure from vandalism.” It reveals the true personality and character of a distinguished Kashmiri Pandit.
During the Sikh rule in Kashmir, AD 1819-1846, the celebrated Pandits reclaimed their past glory and magnificence. They claimed back the prominent places of trust and honour. Cow slaughter was banned, temples renovated and the earlier wrongs rectified. The legendary Kashmiri Pandits received a healing touch after centuries of barbarity, ferocity and tyranny. But by the time, the Sikhs conquered Kashmir in AD 1819, about nine-tenths of the population had become the followers of Islam. Out of the 10% Hindu population, a large number had migrated to the Punjab and other provinces. The Pandits in general belonged to the middle class while the upper and lower classes were dominated by the Muslims.
With the formation of Jammu and Kashmir State; and, establishment of the Dogra rule in 1846, Kashmiri Pandits were imperceptibly elbowed to the background. Administrators and officials were deputed from Jammu region. Though they enjoyed comprehensive religious freedom and social emancipation, political rights of the Kashmiri Brahmans were confined. On certain occasions, they even became victims of intrigue and suspicions. The vicious communal forces also turned their wrath against them. During the communal disturbances of July 1931, shops and houses belonging to the Kashmiri Brahmans were not only looted but also burnt. Three innocent Hindus lost their lives. This communalism in the state politics aggravated and magnified with the passage of time . It was fed for years with vicious communal propaganda and brainwashing.
After independence and accession of Jammu & Kashmir state to India, Kashmiri Pandits were pushed back to the barbarous Afghan era. They were given the sugarcoated dozes of poisonous toxics. Article 370 of Indian constitution just reduced them to cipher and liquidated their population. Under the pretext of economic reforms, their jagirs were confiscated and distributed among the Muslim peasants. The administration of Shaikh Abdullah adopted malicious and pernicious approach towards the Saraswat Brahmans of Kashmir. They were taunted on one excuse or the other. Hindu temples were desecrated, looted and plundered. Minor girls of the community were forced to embrace Islam and marry the Muslim youth.
Shaikh Abdullah tried to create “ Shaikhdom” for his dynastic rule in Kashmir. But his dreams were shattered when he was arrested in 1953 for anti-national activities. In 1958, he was released but detained again after three months under the Kashmir conspiracy case. However, the case was withdrawn in 1964 because of political reasons. But he was arrested again in May 1965 for his subversive activities and released in January 1968. Again, in January 1971, a ban was imposed forbidding him to enter the Jammu Kashmir state. This restriction was lifted in 1972.
During 1953-1974 Shaikh Abdullah characterized India as an imperialist power endeavouring to subjugate the people of Kashmir. He asserted that the accession of Kashmir with India was his greatest blunder for which history will never forgive him. He also demanded the right of self determination for the people of Muslim – dominated Kashmir, but ignored the Hindu- dominated Jammu and Buddhist- dominated Ladakh regions. The sophist Shaikh advocated plebiscite and unconditional withdrawal of Indian army from the Saffron Valley. He also campaigned against the import of food grains from India and asked people to eat potatoes grown in Kashmir. For such arguments, Shaikh Abdullah was nick named as “Aaloo Bab” — Feeder of Potatoes. He made emotional solicitations that after death his body should not be buried in the subjugated Valley, but immersed into the sacred waters of Arabian sea. However, today his magnificent tomb stands on the banks of beautiful Dal Lake in Srinagar and is guarded by the Indian security personnel. By such gratuitous and conflicting statement, his secular credentials evaporated into thin air. The prospect of disloyalty and sedition began to haunt the Saffron Valley. Kashmiriyat switched over to political vandalism and bigoted fundamentalism. Shaikh Abdullah desperately held Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, a Kashmiri Pandit, responsible for the shattering of his malevolent dreams in 1953. The mortified Shaikh ambiguously decided to retaliate against the whole Pandit community in Kashmir. In vindictiveness, he instigated his associated that while making a choice between a Kashmiri Pandit and dreaded cobra, kill the Pandit first. A vicious campaign of terror was launched against the Aryan Saraswat Brahmans of Kashmir. They were refused entry to government jobs and institutions of higher learning. Besides hurling strong statement against the Government of India and Kashmiri Pandits, the Shaikh derided that the whole lot of Indian army cannot save the Hindus in Kashmir against the malevolence of Muslims. Farooq Abdullah also employed the same approach towards the crumbled Pandits when his brother-in-law, Gulshah, seized the chief ministership in 1984.The reactionary leaders- Afzal Beg, Maulvi Farooq, Mohi-ud-Din Kara and Maulana Masoodi; ignored the very existence of Kashmiri Pandits during their political adventurism. The Kashmiri Pandits were made to pay for every move on the political chessboard in Kashmir because they represented the pseudo-secularism, incognito- socialism and flowering- democracy of India. They were scolded and emotionally hurt in the Afghan fashion.
But then the whole political scenario in Kashmir took a dramatic turn in 1974, when Indira-Shaikh accord was signed by virtue of which the Shaikh became the Chief Minister of the State after the lapse of 22 years. Ignoring the great expectations he had created among the people in Kashmir and his vigorous campaign for plebiscite, the sophist Shaikh began to speak the language of Indian nationalism, democracy, socialism and secularism. The slogans of plebiscite, self-determination and independent Kashmir melted away. But the Hate- India virus, infused by him into the blood of the Muslim youth in Kashmir, was exploited by other corrupt self-styled politicians for their own interests from time to time. A vacuum was created because the people were betrayed disillusioned, politically raped and left in wilderness by their own leaders.
Omkarnath Ganjoo, who established the Index Branch of the Jammu & Kashmir Criminal Investigation Department under the directions of Union Home Ministry in early 1960 and managed the same upto 1986, established a powerful network in the State. He collected detailed information about the seditious, subversive and treasonous persons and sent the detailed dispatches to the government from time to time . He also excavated the nefarious designs of ISI- the Pak Intelligence Agency, and informed the concerned authorities. But the state as well as the central administration lacked the determination and resolution to act.
The programmes and policies of Bakshi, Sadiq, Qasim, Farooq and Gulshah were also damaging for the Kashmiri Pandits. They were continuously haunted by antagonistic, hostile and rebellious elements. Mufti Syed is even believed to be responsible for the anti-Hindu communal riots of 1986, when cows were slaughtered and temples destroyed in Anantnag district. From 1947-1986 about four lac Kashmiri Pandits silently migrated from Kashmir. Hypocritical atrocities and criminal ignorances of political leaders were responsible for these development. Pakistan, to avenge the defeat of Bangladesh, blatantly sponsored the violence and terrorism in the Valley, resulting in the turmoil of 1989-90. The then celebrated governor of Jammu and Kashmir, Jagmohan, wrote a detailed letter to the former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi , on April 21,1990, endorsing the alarming signals earliest transmitted by discerning Omkarnath Ganjoo. But cowardly Indian leadership was still unconcerned.

“Aay Zalimu, Aay Kafiroo,
Kashmir Hamara Choudh Dou”

“Bharat Kay Aiwanu Ko
Aag Lagado, Aag Lagado”

The final assault on the Kashmiri Pandits started with these slogans. Barbarous terrorists from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Sudan and even Saudi Arabia penetrated into the Saffron Valley. Brutal, wild and barbarous techniques were employed to hound and kill the Aryan Saraswat Brahmans of Kashmir. Even the helpless ladies were not spared. Sarla Bhat, a nurse in Soura Medical Institute, was abducted on 19th April, 1990, by JKLF militants who repeatedly gang-raped her and eventually killed her on 25th April. Girja Tikoo, a teacher from Bandipur, was kidnapped, raped and eventually shred to pieces by a saw mill on 4th June, 1990. Bimla Braroo from the Nai Sarak, Srinagar, who along with her daughter, Archana, was raped in the presence of her husband, Sohanlal, before all the three were killed on 31st March, 1992. There are dozens of such brutal instances. Even wicked Afghans will be feeling sorry in their graves for the sanatic holocaust of the legendary Kashmiri Pandits.
The barbarous murder of hundreds of innocent Brahmans of Kashmir caused their seventh and final agonizing mass exodus from the Valley. This was the final knock down of ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Kashmiri Pandits. The mass massacres at Sangrampora (1997), Udhampore (1997), Prankot (1998), Wandhama (1998) and Nadimarg (2003) were the follow up cleansing operations. Pandits in Kashmir dwindled from 10% in 1947 to fewer than 5% in 1989 and to less than 1% today. The pretended world bodies, contaminated human rights organizations, pseudo-secularists, self-styled leaders, so-called policy makers, tainted political parties and slack bureaucracy have failed to express serious concern at this great human tragedy. Danse macabre is going on. During 1990-2010, the security forces seized around 35,000 assault rifles, over 25,000 pistols, more than 30,000 kg explosives, about 2500 UMGs and RPGs , from terrorists. In the barbarous turmoil about 47,000 persons have been killed. However the government is keen to provide a healing touch to militants, terrorists and self-styled seperatist leaders. But the Kashmiri Hindus, who were virtually exterminated from the Valley, have not even received the displaced status. They are living as ‘internally displaced persons’ in their own country.

Madhya Pradeshis and Kashmir History.

Matrigupta and Praversena-ii(from Rajatarangani)

Few days back, I was going through an English book of a boy studying in Delhi Public School. A story connected with Kashmir was there. It aroused my curiosity. It was the story of King Vikramaditya and the great poet Matrigupta. But it was bowdlerized to suit the interest and attention span of children. The full story goes like this:

Long time back, a generous king named Vikramaditya ruled Ujjain.A penurious poet by the name of “Matrigupta” also lived in his kingdom. He had heard a lot about the generous king. The king was known as a lover of fine arts and many musicians, writers and poets used to visit his palace. He used to give them suitable rewards .His munificence was well-known in his state.Matrigupta also wanted to try his luck in the court of the King.

After deliberating for months ,Matrigupta went into the court of King Vikramaditya.He was received warmly in the the court of the King. A day came, when he stood in front of the King and recited his poems. He was highly praised by the King. But the king didn’t bestow him with any reward. Matrigupta did not lose his heart and used to recite poems and get appreciated by the king. But the reward was still a dream.

Many days and months passed by, Matrigupta felt disheartened at times, but he didn’t give up. The King was testing the integrity of the poet. The courtiers tried to poison his ears against the King, but he rebuked them for speaking against the King.

During those times, Kashmir was a part of King Vikramaditya, who at that time was considered as the sole sovereign of the world(India).
During those days in Kashmir, Praversena-ii- was born to the Anjana(daughter of vajendra from iksvaku’s race) and yuvraj (prince)toramana. Toramana was sent to prison by his brother king Hiranya as the former had enraged the latter by putting in circulation coins(dinnarah) struck in his own name.

Anjana at that time was pregnant. She went to a Potter’s hut and gave birth to a son(PRAVERSENA-II).The potters wife and Anjana kept it a secret that he was the son of prince Toramana.Praversena-ii showed extraordinary skills right from his childhood in terms of knowledge, marital skills or courage. He was also an ardent devotee of lord shiva. Later on he came to know about his royal lineage.

Toramana died after having been set free from prison by his brother. soon after the death of his father, Praversena-ii left for the tirthas(holy places).He did severe austerities and lived as an ascetic doing yoga. Finally lord shiva granted him Boon(s).He was granted the boon of becoming the king of world(india) as well as attain Moksha(liberation) at the end.Later on, he became the king of Kashmir and world(india).

Meawhile king Vikramaditya was highly pleased with the sincerity of Matrigupta.One night he called his trusted informers and aides and told them that he is making Matrigupta the king of Kashmir.He told them to leave for Kashmir and arrange for the Poet’s coronation. Next morning he called Matrigupta into his court and told him to go to Kashmir with a royal decree. He didn’t told the poet about his plans. The poet left at once. During his travel, he thought ,”though the king didn’t reward me materialistically, but at least by sending me to Kashmir,I will benefit spiritually(showing the spiritual value of Kashmir even in those times).

Once upon reaching Kashmir, Matrigupta handed over the royal decree, to his surprise he was announced as the king of Kashmir. His joys knew no bounds. At the same time he became indebted to the magnanimity of King Vikramaditya. He ruled Kashmir till the death of King Vikramaditya.

Praversena-ii wanted to become the king of Kashmir at the earliest. He wanted to defeat King Vikramaditya in a war, but destiny had other plans. The news of King vikramaditya’s death reached Praversena too. He also heard that Matrigupta had deserted his crown. Apprehending that Matrigupta has been forced to flee, he came to the rescue of the Poet King with a small escort.
He saluted and bowed before Matrigupta and gently asked him the reason for leaving Kashmir.The poet king answered with a sigh,”that benefactor king has gone through whom I enjoyed the rule of the land” and that morally he felt that as a Brahmin he should spent the rest of his life as an ascetic in Varanasi. Praversena-ii was highly impressed by Matrigupta and offered him to become the King of Kashmir once again. Matrigupta declined the offer, arguing that will be an insult to the generosity of King vikramaditya.

Matrigupta went to Varanasi and lived as an ascetic for the rest of his life(10 years).King praversena-ii too kept firm on his resolve and sent the whole revenue of Kashmir to Matrigupta. The ascetic-poet living on alms handed over the wealth which he received against his will, to all who applied to him and lived until next ten years.

Atrigupta and Kashmir Shaivism(From Kashmir Shaivism-the secret supreme)

The King Lalitaditya traveled to India from Kashmir where in Antarvedi ,a track of land in Madhya Pradesh/U.P.(some opine it was Kannauj) which lies between the Yamuna and ganga rivers, he discovered the great saiva teacher Atrigupta. Lalitaditya was deeply impressed by the scholarship and practical way of Atrigupta and requested him to accompany him to the Kashmir valley. Atrigupta agreed and upon reaching Kashmir was given the old palace of Praversena to live in as this place was very near to the palace of the king Lalitaditya. After some centuries in the house of Atrigupta, Varahagupta was born. He is the father of Narsimhagupta and Narsimhagupta is the father of The Great –Abhinavgupta. Although Abhhinavgupta had many disciples, both men and women, His chief disciple was Kshemraja ,and the chief disciple of Kshemraja was Yogaraja. After many centuries in the Kashmir valley Swami Ram came into this physical body. His chief disciple was Swami Mahatabkak and Swami Lakshamjoo was the disciple was Swami Mahtabkak.

kashmir muslims and hindus and religion controversies

Kashmir had a very rich secular,peaceful and Tolerant culture in the past. emperor Ashoka is often credited with having founded the city of Srinagar.Kashmir was once a Buddhist seat of learning, perhaps with the “Sarvastivada” school dominating. East and Central Asian Buddhist monks are recorded as having visited the kingdom. After the advent of Islam into Kashmir a traditional centre of Buddhist and Hindu religions conversion of Hindus to Islam has resulted in numerically significant population of the Kashmiri Muslims being descendents of Hindus . The prevalence of common Kashmiri Pandit family names among contemporary Kashmiri Muslims is indicative of Hindu lineage. Kashmiri Pandit family names Common family names among Kashmiri Pandits include: Handoo,Aga, Atal, Bandhu, Bhan, Bagati, Bhat/Butt/Bhatt,Budki(Burki), Chowdhury,Dhar(Dar), Dass(Das), Dassi, Dulloo, Ganju(Ganjoo), Kaw,Gurtu,Hak, Haksar, Hangal, Hangoo,Hoon, Jaju,Jalali, Kachru(Kachroo), Kak, Kar, Kappu, Katju, Kaul(Koul), Kaw, Kemmu, Khar,Kasid Kher, Khosa, Kitchlu(Kitchlew), Kunzru, Langoo,Malla, Mantoo, Mattoo, Muthoo, Misri, Natu, Nehru,Ogra,\ Pandit, Pandita, Parimoo,Qasba, Raina, Rayu, Razdan, Reu, Sadhu, Sapru, Shah, Shivpuri, Shrunglu, Shunglu,Tangnu, Thusoo,Tikoo,Wakhlu, Wanchoo/Wanchu, Wantoo/Wantu,Warikoo, Wattal, Wattoo, Zalpuri, Zaroo and Zutshi.Many of these names are also shared by Kashmiri Muslims.Handoo,Bagati,Bhan,Bhat,Burki,Dhar(Dar),Sapru,Kitchlew,Sheikh are some surnames which are shared by converted kashmiri hindus.The ancestors of most of the kashmiri are common, Syeds are not kashmiri blood,They had come from West Asia and Middle east with the then religious groups to share their knowledge about islam with hindus of kashmir.Some world famous kashmiris are Pt. Jawahar lal nehru,Sir Iqbal and yes Nawaz shareif is also a kashmiri. There is a saying that blood is thicker than water.But I fell religion is thicker than blood.The proof is the killing of kashmiri pundits by Kashmiri Muslims .Some famous lines which were used at that time are as under:· Kashmir main rahna hai, Allah-ho-Akbar Kahna hoga. (If you choose to live in Kashmir, you will have to say Allah-o- Akbar).· Asi gachi Pakistan, Bata ros ta batanev san. (We want Pakistan, with Kashmiri Hindu women and without their men-folk).· Allah-o-Akbar, Musalmano jago Kafiro bhago, jehad aa raha hai. (Allah-o-Akbar, arise and awake Muslims, buzz off infidels, jehad is approaching.)· Kashmir kya banega – Pakistan (What will Kashmir be – Pakistan)· Zalimo O, Kafiro, Kashmir hamara chhod do (Ye cruel Kafirs (infidels) vacate our Kashmir)· Yahan kya chalega, Nizam – e – Mustafa (What will have sway here – Prophet’s governance)· Arise ye, fearless Momins, For Russia has lost the race, Now the sword hangs on India’s neck Now it is Kashmir’s turn.· Islam hamara maksad hai Kuran hamara dastur hai Jehad hamara rasta hai. (Islam is our destinationKoran is our constitution Jehad is our way.)· Hamein kya chahye, Nizame Mustafa Kashmere main kya chalaiga, Nizame Mustafa Hindustan mein kya chalaiga, Nizame Mustafa (What do we need – Prophet’s governance. What will have sway in Kashmir – Prophet’s governance. What will have sway in India – Prophet’s governance.· Ganga-Jamuna mein aag lagayenge (We will destroy Ganga and Yamuna)
I often wonder how powerful is religion? People across world are ready to kill anyone for their religions?How can anyone forget Crusades- Battle between Christians and Muslims? Christians say Muslims were aggressors and they killed devout Christians who were sure that world will come to an end at the beginning of 1000 years .But nothing happened. Humiliated by the Muslims they approached the pope and pope ordered crusades after many years from the date of the incident! On the other hand Muslims say Christians were the real Culprits.Christians, Muslims and Jews have common prophets up till Abraham. Abraham had two sons Ismail/Ishmael and Isaac. Arabs and Europeans had a common belief till Abraham.Division started from Ismail and Isaac. Ishmael, his firstborn son, is considered the Father of the Arabised Arabs, and Isaac is considered the Father of the Hebrews. It is widely believed in Islam, that Ishmael was the son whom Abraham almost sacrificed. Muslims use various proofs among others the fact that Ishmael was at one time his only son. Abraham is revered by Muslims as one of the Prophets of Islam, and is commonly termed Khalil Ullah, “Friend of God”. Abraham is considered a “Hanif” that is, a discoverer of Monotheism .Who created Sunni and Shia Muslims? Abu Bakr,Ayesha or Ali?Ali was the first cousinof Prophet Mohammed and Husband of his only surving child Fatima.There is a controversy as to who was the first male muslim? Was it Ali or Abu Bakr?Sunni muslims say Abu Bakr was the first male while Shia muslims say Ali was the first male. Aisha is acontroversial figure because of differing portrayals of her in “Shia Islam” Shia versions of Islamic history and her role in the “First Fitna” (first Islamic civil war) at the head of an army against “Ali” in the Battle of Bassorah” Well the controversies in the religions is very-2 complex..Religions have lost their basic values which is love,peace,harmony and they are just intruments in the hands of politicians and religion has been used by politicians to bind people to common beleifs and customs, so that ruling the masses becomes easy. I believe that Religions are purposely made complex so that common man may take lifetime to understand and another lifetime to practise thus giving no time to analayse politics and power. God, Allah,paramatma,waheguru are different names of same entity.But see the terminology has already killed Millions across world and It still is killing.All religious heads should come together and bridge the gaps of terminology of God,Allah,Paramatma,Waheguru—–.Intercaste,intercultural and international marriages should be made compulsory, thereby giving chances to different people and cultures to understand new cultures and religions.there should be tolerance as well as love for all human beings.

kashmiri pandits

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Kashmir…..the paradise…..my birthplace had a very rich history and culture. It was the most peaceful and non-violent region of India. I remember when I was a boy; I used to play with my Muslim friends and classmates. I remember particular one friend His name was Nasir.He used to throw his weight around and threaten other boys of the class.Though he was not the strongest of the boys. He used to brag about his connections and relations with notorious rogues. He used to say that he knows “phila”.I once asked him “who is phila”? he said” He is the most  powerful rogue and gangster of Kashmir at that time(late 80’s).He also told me that phila had once attacked his rival with a knife and scratched hid shoulder. Though it was a scratch and not a stab, but still that was enough for the common Kashmiri to create fear in their hearts. Rapes and murders were unheard in Kashmir.Although there used to be minor scuffles sometimes and exchange of fists and blows and thrashing of kangries(traditional fire pot), but murders were very-2 far.

  Up to 13th century .It was a seat for learning sharda and Sanskrit .Many rulers ruled Kashmir like Kambojas and Panchals.13 th century saw the dominance of Islam in Kashmir. Sufis and rishis were respected, worshipped and followed by all.  There was a syncretic culture where Hindus and Muslims revered the same local saints and prayed at the same shrines. Sikandar Butshikan changed it all and he  persecuted the Hindus and issued orders proscribing the residence of any other than Muslims in Kashmir.Silver and gold idols of gods were broken on orders of sikander.He forcibly converted hindus to muslims and number of hindus migrated to different parts of Present India.The torture of Kashmir hindus continued till the coming of Dogra rulers. 

Come Jan 1990, V.P.singh as prime minister and Mufti Mohammed sayyed as Home minister of India. Same Kashmir turned into a virtual hell especially for Kashmiri Hindu pundits. Mosques which are place for worship was used as a platform to terrorize Hindus. Announcements from loudspeakers from  the local mosques said that either you support us or you die. In fact Hindus were selectively massacred by the local terrorists. In just 3 months Local terrorists with the active support of Pakistan’s I.S.I killed hundreds of innocent Hindus and usually they targeted the main bread earner. This selective killing of Hindus by the Muslims virtually wiped out the entire population of Kashmiri Hindus from Kashmir. It was an ethnic cleaning of Hindus from Kashmir with the active support of Pakistan.

Even sufi-rishi tradition could not withstand the violent ways of terrorist killing.

 

Some terrorists in Kashmir dramatically declared after years that now they had a divine transformation of hearts and now they have shunned violent ways. Prominent among these pseudo-prophets are Farooq Ahmed dar alias Bitta karate who had self confessed on local television of killing more than 22 innocent Hindus and Yasin Malik-chairman of JKLF.

 

. The strongest of the species survive. This is a universal truth. And this applies to both animals and humans. History is like statistics or should I say statistics is like history.

Statistics is all about numbers. It is about forecasting of numbers. History is also like forecasting, but it is not the numbers here but events……past events…..number of past events….. Which are responsible for our present and the present events are pillars for the future events to happen. History says that Kashmir pundits are intellectuals, although we are less in number but our community has produced some of the genius and world class leaders like Pundit jawahar lal Nehru and Indira Gandhi

It is practically impossible to return back to our natives place in present scenario. There are number of Kashmiri Hindu organizations and groups who are struggling and fighting for the rights of Kashmiri Hindus. The demand for a protected area or a separate Kashmir within Kashmir under Indian jurisdiction is a very practical solution for sufferings of Kashmir Hindus as that will protect both their culture and religion and will also protect their birth land for future generations to come.