Category Archives: kashmiri pandits

Kashmir Police Radicalized!

It was 9.00 p. m.

The phone was ringing, yet Yasir was not picking up the phone.

Well, he was my neighbour and we had spent our childhood together , like many Kashmiri children of our genre did. As part of our tacit understanding, we talked to each other occasionally, and in our discussions, we covered almost all the subjects pertaining to us and to Kashmir.

He is working in the Police department in J&K Government.

I tried again after 10 minutes, just after two rings, he picked up the phone. “Jenab Aadab! How are you doing Brother?” said he warmly. “I am fine. How is your family?”, I asked him routinely. We inquired about the general well being of our family and friends for some time-like we always do-and then our conversation veered towards the more sensitive and somewhat uncomfortable issues.

Yes . it was Kashmir.

“Hurriyat won’t let the peace prevail in Kashmir”, I ingeminated .” They get huge kickbacks from Pakistan”, I further stated. “You are right” said he without inflection. “ In fact, they are funding  the stone-pelters too”, I emphasized. “The militants too get paid for the attacks they carry out on the Indian soldiers”. I further elaborated. He was listening very patiently, without interrupting me. “what do you think?”, I wanted to get his reaction-which always starts with a neutral judgement about India and ends with an inexplicit yet pro-pakistan stance.

“These militants are doing, what they are paid for. They are not bothered about kashmiris or Kashmir. They are like us-policemen. They too are doing their duty. So is Hurriyat. And in this whole process, we- common kashmiris- are getting crushed physically, mentally and emotionally”, said he in a rather angry intonation.

“we are living in a Big Jail. An open-big-jail” His tone was Sullen. “Though, I am a policeman, yet, I try my best to come home by 7 p.m. We  have to go through so many security checks. And sometimes the questions asked by the security personnel is rather annoying and filled with implicit chagrin towards us”. He said in a dreary voice.

I had heard this earlier too. Phrase like “Open Jail” have been often used by Pak-Backed-Hurriyar as a part of their usual propaganda against the Administration. I could have protested, But, I choose not to chime in while he was talking to me.

He was saying something, but I was not listening. His statements had put me in a reverie . I was thinking about our previous interactions on Social Media.

Based on my previous conversations with him, I knew, when we talked about our families and friends, he would be sincere. so was I. But, when we talked about Kashmir, our perspectives would not match at all. Somehow, till date we have managed to put a balance between sincerity and our mutually unctuous narration of our feelings for Kashmir or rather Kashmir imbroglio.  We know for sure that there is a divide between our perspective and the way, we look at Kashmir.

All these facts were flashing in my mind.

There is a Hindu version of Kashmiri Pandits and there is a Kashmiri Muslim version. And they never match.

I was thinking that often, Yasir sends me Face book messenger messages and Whatsup messages. Most of the messages sent to me are forwards pertaining to Kashmir-imbroglio. Much of the content of the forwarded messages consist of the greatness of Islam or in other words the Hegemony of Muslims and their great personalities. The messages also included Zakir Naik’s disparaging videos about Hindus or how ridiculous Hindus and Hinduism is. He had also sent me a link on Godara, or what Arundati Roy said, or Osho’s message on Beef Eating( can you believe it!). On Dalits, Maoists and what not. I could not condone the fact that, till date, he has never once sent me a message which shows the glory of India or the tolerance of Hindus or Hinduism.

I was also thinking that If anyone reads the messages, he sends me, it would definitely look like as if the messages are being sent from the Hurriyat headquarters and not from a JK policeman.

I also wondered if my friend knew or he deliberately ignored the fact that After all, India is the 2nd most Muslim populous country. They have the right to follow Shariah. Being minorities, they have reservations and even a Hajj-Subsidy. On Fridays, they convert highways, busy market places, offices, Government buildings etc. into the praying Ground-that too without impunity.

I was tempted to think that just a day before yesterday, as I was going through the whatsup messages, I had seen a couple of message from Yasir.He had sent a message that showcased-how great Islam is.The other message read-Hindu terrorists did the blast.

It came to my mind that during all these years, I never reacted to his posts. I would like or comment on only those videos, that were more balanced or funny and that were apolitical. I had never emphasized on my being a proud Indian – which I am, or sent any message or video that belittled his faith. But, he on the other hand had made his desires and intentions clear, by sending anti-India and anti-Hindu messages. His innate desires and his tilting towards Pakistan and Hurriyat was too conspicuous. Just because, I tolerated his messages, didn’t mean that I didn’t understood the purpose and his intentions.

I was forced to think, if JK Police personnel, are indoctrinated so radically as his messages suggest. What will be the condition of othe Govt. employees-who don’t have the responsibility to impose law and order. No wonder, there is a rise in the number of incidents wherein not only the quisling-policemen of JK have snatched the rifles of their own elected Government, but they have become active terrorists.

” Isn’t it the responsibility of the JK Government to check such personnel and make it sure that at least the mindset of the policemen is Nationalistic and pro-India. With such policemen, how can the administration deal with the Pakistan sponsored terrorism? “, I was thinking loud.

I was also forced to think, if 70000 more police men are recruited from Kashmir, whom will it benefit? How can I forget that in 1947, the role of the renegade armed forces of poonch/Rajauri played a very important role in snatching POK from Maharaja Hari Singh!
“Are you listening, Sandeep!, hello! Hello!, are you there”, Yasir’s voice woke me from dwam. “Yes”, I cleared my throat, and feigned to be attentive. Our discussion lasted for some more minutes and we bade good bye and Good night to each other.

I was trying to sleep, but I could not stop thinking that Whenever, I had a long discussion with Yasir over phone, I many a times wondered whether GOI, has any plans to tackle this issue?

Because
if they don’t have or if they still are in a deep slumber, Time has come to wake up and tackle this unpleasant reality.

And act fast.

I was reminded of what once John. F. Kennedy said
“We must use time as a tool, not as a crutch.”

And then, Sleep came from somewhere and put a haitus to the medley of thoughts and feelings, I was encountering…..

(Sandeep Raj koul)

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Genealogical Tables of Kasmir Dynasties according to Kalhan

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Source-Rajatarangini by M.A.Stein

The I-I (philosophy)

In Yog vashist, an allegorical anecdote is repeated ‘N’ times…
A witness witnesses a crow sitting on a coconut tree.As soon as the crow flew , a coconut fell down on the earth.The witness wrongfully co-relates that because the crow flew from the tree; a coconut fell down.
In reality, if the crow hadn’t flew, the coconut would have still dropped down.

It has been mentioned that it is the wrongful identification with this body(or mind) that is the root cause of all ignorance.

Sage vashist reveals to Rama that the greatest virtue is the renunciation of mind-the ephemeral ‘l’.

This ‘I’ is the reflection of the real unversal ‘I’-the Shiva. Shiva is the supreme ‘I’, the consciousness of the consciousness. The transitory ‘I’, that is according to KS-the contracted form the universal ‘I’- embodies itself or limits itself or creates an feeling of a separate ‘I'(duality or maya)

Out of play, the shiva(consciousness)(experient)who has the nature of Ananda(bliss)-wants to experience ‘Ananda’ in knowledge(pramana) as well as object of knowledge(prameya).But to have these both attributes, there should be time, space and ‘I’.

The supreme ‘I’ because of ‘Bliss’ creates maya, and the only one I.e ‘I’-the shiva-gets contracted , the attributes of universal ‘I’ gets contracted too once it comes In contact(or enters) Maya.

According to KS..following contractions happen to the universal ‘I’- who is originally full of
Chaitanya(consciousness)
Anand(bliss)
Iecha(will)
Gyan(knowledge)
Kriya(action)…

Chaitanya gets contracted and becomes Kala(कला)-limited creativity
Vidya(limited knowledge)
*Raga(attachment)*
Kaal(time)
And Niyati(…this is space)

Because ‘I’ the Shiva(consciousness of consciouness) is the universal first person, it always remains the first person, ‘I'(though limited, once it comes In maya) and the knowledge and object of knowledge remains the 2nd/3rd person. Because ‘I’ loose the unlimited creativity(because of contraction and becomes Kala) , the unlimited knowledge associated with it too gets contracted(vidya)….Then arises Raga(attachment)…..the ‘I’ is in the process of attaching itself to the objects of all the duality or differentiated consciousness. It becomes this whole universe full of sentient(in the form of knowledge and object of knowledge) and insentient beings(in the form of knowledge of insentient)….The universal ‘I’ becomes the ‘I’ of you and me and all beings.

Kaal and niyati…in other words denote the time and space. Space is internal too i.e ChidAkash…it denotes the space inside our mind, where thoughts and feelings rise and fall…

A child remains in the stage of non-duality(and bliss) , till he/she ignorantly superimpose their consciousness on their bodies and entrap themselves as , ‘I am this body ( in time and space)

If we meditate on the transitory ‘I’, and try to find out the source ‘ME’, we realise that we or ‘ME’ is a witness to all the physical and mental activities.We can negate anything and everything that we are witness of, because that is the 2nd/3rd person and the witness (of witness) always remains the first person.

If we delibrate further, we can go up to the void, out of which the mind and its thinking faculity arise. It is not possible to go beyond that void, through the means of mind -which is a synonym of duality.

Vedantis say when we are not aware of ourselves, mind comes into effect instantly; and when we concentrate on mind, it ceases to exist and we remain just as an awareness.But to maintain that awareness is difficult.

‘I’ of supreme consciousness  is non dual in nature so is the transitory (dual) consciousness as long as we maintain/center our awareness on it.

It too is pure awareness as long as we maintain that one-pointednesss. And it becomes truly dual ‘I’ when that awareness is broken, and that ‘I’ becomes the source of all duality…

However….it like shiva-The universal first person always remain the first person.

Abhinavgupta has mentioned Shiva as the ever present ‘NOW’, Shakti as ‘Future’ and past as ‘Pashu’ or ephemeral being.He also mentions that future and past have their origin in ‘NOW’-which is ever present.

This ‘NOW’ is again the synonym of ‘I’ or awareness.

In our lives too, everything is centered around ‘I’. Thinking of past or future is possible only because of ‘NOW’-the ‘I’.without this ‘I’ nothing exists not even ‘NOTHING’ or ‘VOID’.

The ephemeral being as written above denotes himself as ‘I’ and almost everyone belives or has experienced that ‘HE’ has never really changed, though his body has grown old. Somehow the witness(I) of the changes never change.

Subconsciously and linguistically, we have firm faith that the witness(I) is eternal.if someone dies, we say , May he go to heaven’ or VBAJ. What does that mean!

Who will go to heaven or Vaikunth? For example, if I imagine of my death, I immediately picture myself in Heaven/Hell or Vaikunth. Who is it that I am imagining myself to be! I will have no physical body but that does not deter me.Isn’t it that the ‘I’ that I imagine to go to heaven is the witness-whom I know by ‘I’.

It is for that ‘I’ we perform ‘Shraddh’ or other religious practices as we (all human race) have firm belief that the witness will remain, though somewhere else.

The ‘I’ is the first thought that arises when we wake up in the morning and it remains the last when we fall sleep.The dreams too are centered around the ‘I’ and so is the deep sleep.

Shiva- the ‘I’ is sarv-vyapak(ever pervading). He is the awareness of awareness.Revealing and concealing his own self is his play.

But nonetheless , he remains in us as the ever present witness whom we call ‘I’ .

 

(based on the philosophies of Vedant and Kashmir shaivism)

Yaarbal..

As a teenager and -that too in Kashmir- The Mountains, valleys, lakes , streams and rivers just looked so familiar,natural, perennial and Ubiquitous .Even in my imagination and dreams, I would see myself somewhere surrounded by these elements.

Swimming was my all time favorite activity. Being a Rainawarian, I used to swim in Dal Lake very often . And whenever I used to stay put for night/s at my ‘Matamaal’ in HabbaKadal during summers, I used to make it sure to go for a swin along with my friend Sanjay to River Jhelum near the bridge of Habba-Kadal .

We had chosen the ‘Yarbal’ (Bathing Ghat with steps)of ‘Purushyar Temple’ as a base for our swims.We used to  swim across the River and reach The opposite bank of Yarbal , then swim back. Because of the drift of river, we were flown down and while coming back towards the purushyar, we were further drifted away downwards. We used to run barefoot in the bylanes and reach back to The Yaarbal. The River was deep and many a times , we would hear about the incidents of drowning. But we were expert swimmers and that hardly bothered us.

Sometimes, we along with other teenagers and children would jump from the Bridge of HabbaKadal straight into the Vitasta.The exhilarating feeling of jumping and hanging in the air for some seconds was awesome.So was the feel of the adrenaline rush ,  when our feet touched the Sandy bed of the Jhelum.

I re-visited Kashmir last year in the month of August.I had hired a taxi and directed the Driver-Ajaz to take me to Habba Kadal.Once we reached the Bridge, I told him to stop.I looked around but could not identify most of the New Habba Kadal locality.I alighted the door and stepped down.

The  KP’s once formed the majority population of this area.Their conspicuous absence added to the feeling of being at an unknown, yet familiar place.

A new Bridge has been constructed just adjacent to the Old bridge. When I looked down from the bridge to River Vitasta, she looked emaciated. I tried to compare her with the images of Jhelum,that were imprinted in my memories. She looked as if someone had drained out all her water and her vigour.The shallowed-Vitasta, looked as if   she was ashamed of her present condition.

I ambled further the bridge and turned right towards a by-lane.I was told that it will lead me towards the famous ‘Purushyar Temple’.I walked ahead in the claustrophobic , stinking , narrow bylane and within a couple of minutes ; I had another glimpse of the temple. It was already late evening.I stood for some time at the mouth of the wider staired lane ,that lead to the temple . Few steps further downwards , I could see the barren Yarbal.

I could recall vividly , how the ‘Yaarbal’ abuzzed with activity.In the mornings, KPs  from the adjoining locality visited the Purushyar temple, some even used to take a dip in the waters of Vitasta before entering the temple.Other’s  used to come in the Late morning and take a bath with the River-water.They rubbed and covered their bodies with the thick froth of the Soap. The bubbles of the froth would many a times float in the air for a short distance and then  blow off silently. Some people would be seen washing their clothes. A few people would just sit on the stairs and watch the River passing by.

I turned my sight towards the Temple.It looked as if somebody had turned on a Bulb.I peered through the late evening light , but could not see any figure. Nonetheless, it was evident that , some KPs are coming to the temple and are offering their prayers.However, I could not see a single soul around the temple.The so familiar waft of the incense sticks and ‘Dhoop’ too was absent.So was the resounding peal of the temple bell.

Few Passerby’s looked astonished at my behaviour. After all ,how many people would stand at that junction and look at the Yaarbal and Temple in that late evening ! For them , my behavior was suspicious.A group of men gathered at some distance from where I was standing and started murmuring something.

Finally a man from that group came forwad and  asked me in Kashmiri, “Are you looking for someone?”. I smiled and in a friendly way, I answered, “Oh Nothing”. I gestulated. “Well, I have spent some of my early days in this area.I just wanted to see the places where I had lived”. “Are you a Kashmiri Pandit?” he asked exitedly. “Yes, I am.” I replied. “I am looking for a KP friend’s house, who too lived in this locality, but can’t locate it”. I added.

“Most of the people who live here now, have come from other localities. But, there is this fruit-vendor at the start of HabbaKadal.He knows about all the Pandits of this area.I will lead you to him”. He said warmly. “Yes, I saw that Vendor.I will speak to him just now.” I feigned.”I think I should go now.” I informed him. He shook my hand firmly and went away in the lane and disappeared from my sight.It was dark now.I decided to go back and in no time, I reached the bridge, where the driver of the cab was waiting for me.

Ajaz-the cab driver was waiting for me anxiously. As soon as I approached him, he said impatiently, “Should we go now Jenab?” Without looking at him, I answered , “Just give me two more minutes.”

I walked a few steps further on the HabbaKadal bridge.I again looked down at the Vitasta.I could just see the reflection of the shimmering lights on it. I looked at the Purushyar temple once again for the last time. It was dimly lit.The Windows were still closed.

And the Yaarbal still barren……

Leftist-Jihadis; where is my free speech?

 

On the name of ‘Free Speech’-The sloganeering at the JNU in early Feb, in Support of the Terrorist Afzal Guru was meticulously planned by the Jihadists and supported by the leftists. This combination of leftist-jihadi in India is very peculiar and rather Unusual. The Islamist are the religious zealots, and they propagate Islam and its ideology. The communists on the other hand are known to be Atheist. So, how come they have become the Blood-Brothers!

The slogan, “Bharat tere tookde Hoonge, InshaAllah InshaAllah” is no way an expression of Free speech, Rather it shows, how much tolerant Hindu-India is. Had the slogan, “Pakistan/China tere tookde ho” been raised in Pakistan/China by any minority, He would have been hanged to Death by now.

I wonder, “What is a free speech”?

“Free-Speech”-reminds me instantly of the sloganeering that was witnessed by me in Kashmir, when every Mosque in my vicinity gag-ordered my community to either mingle with them( and become a Muslim) or else be ready to die. I was a victim. I was the oppressed. But, I didn’t had the freedom of ‘free speech’. There is no way, any minority group in a Muslim Majority area can have the privilege of a ‘Free Speech’.

For Leftists, all the problems existing in India is merely because of the Brahmins. Being a Kashmiri Hindu, that too a Brahmin, I am by-default deemed to be fit to be called a Fascist, communal and any attempt to raise my voice against the atrocities meted out to me in a Muslim Majority state will be turned down by the leftists and term it as a Threat to Indian Muslims and the secular fabric of India. The terminology of the “Victim” changes when it comes to the Kashmiri Hindus.

My lands have been encroached illegally by the Muslim Majority, My temples desecrated or burnt Down by the Jihadis, My Brethren murdered in the most inhuman way. But for the people of Leftist-Jihadi mindset, I remain as an oppressor.

The leftists claim to be the messiahs of the oppressed; and they often term their opponents as fascists. USA is a Fascist. Japan is a fascist, so are all the powerful nations where communism failed miserably. They often quote, “The violence of the oppressor is unjustified, but the violence of the oppressed is Justified.”

The oppressed is always who adheres to their ideology. Otherwise how can we justify the stoic silence of the leftists on some of the issues where the Oppressor was a Communist Country and the Oppressed was someone, who did not adhere to their ideology. They condone the atrocities by any communist Nation or Group.

It will be foolish of me to expect that the so-called-liberal-leftist can ever propagate and live in any Muslim Nation; That is why the ideology of communism could not make any inroads in these nations; except for Turkey, where it showed some strength, some resistance, before it got swallowed by the totalitarian-religious-ideology.

In fact both the ideologies are expansionist, totalitarian and there is no room for the dissent.

Tibetans are still languishing in India. They like the Kashmiri Pandits were forced into the Exile by their oppressors. But for the leftists, Tibetan Buddhists and their supreme leader, Nobel prize for peace winner-Dalai Lama is a Fascist.

Kashmiri Pandits, who were ousted by their leftist cohorts-the jihadis, are not allowed to return to their Homes. In fact there are no Homes left now as 50% of the properties were sold in Duress and the other 50% are illegally occupied by those people whom the leftists term as the “Oppressors”. The reason for being them as Oppressor is merely because of the Prefix ‘Pandits’ to Kashmiri Hindus.

The leftist and the Jihadis dream of balkanization of India. They do not recognize India as a Nation and are often heard opining that with so many linguistic differences between so many ethnic and regional groups, The Title or the Nation, ‘India’ is a misnomer; citing examples from the past when there were more than 600 small Princely states under the Britsh.

The Leftist-Jihadi combination are also supporters of all those groups who are advocating for separate Nations to be carved out from India. In short, they are the enemies of the Nation, who are merely propagating the Chinese and the Islamist Propaganda. And get paid for their Endeavour by their masters.

It is a war waged by the Islamists and the Chinese, through their surrogates, Otherwise, how can the incidents of Muslim-Suppression in China be explained. Islamist are under attack in the province of Xinjiang. Imams from its eastern Muslim majority Xinjiang region were forced to dance in the street and swear to an oath that they would not teach religion to children. The imams were also forced to tell children that prayer was harmful for the soul.The Muslim imams were further forced to brandish the slogan that “our income comes from the CKP [Chinese Communist Party] not from Allah”.

Similarly the Communists were slaughtered by the Islamist forces in Indonesia in 1965-66.It is estimated that in that slaughter nearly 1 million people were murdered. The majority of the people were those, who were active communists or their supporters.

The Jihadis ideology and the leftist ideology though totalitarian and Expansionist, are totally opposite to each other. The leftists who are showing their dissent against India are the puppets of China, and the Islamists represent an ideology, where the world population recognizes Islam as their religion. It is just because India happens to be their common enemy, they have embraced each other. This combination will remain till the Time India remains as a Nation. Otherwise there are ample examples, some of them cited above, that indicate that are these two ideologies can not stand each other.

And for the ‘Free Speech’-As long as it is termed as an expression against Hindus and against the Nation of India ; and as long as India remains a Hindus majority state, they will be tolerated.

Unfortunately…..

 

By-Manish Zijoo

 

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)

 

 

 

 

 

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(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 Mystic Chakra of Sharika Mata (Tripuasundari) at Hari Parbhat

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“Hari Parbhat” also known as “Sharika peeth” is one of the most holiest sacred Place for the Hindus of Kashmir. Legend says that at this Place, Goddess Sharika killed the demon “Jalodbhava”. The Goddess in the form of “Haer”(Myna) at the behest of her devotees dropped a Pebble from above on Jalodbhava. The pebble became larger and larger. When it Hit the Demon, the pebble had grown to the size of a Hill.The Demon was crushed under the Hill. The Hill that dropped on the Demon came to be known as “Hari Parbaht”. The Mother Goddess resides there by the name of “Sharika” or “Tripursundari”. The eighteen-armed Goddess is considered as the presiding deity of the Srinagar city. She resides here in the form of syambu “Sri-Chakra”, also known as “Maha yantra”.This mystic Chakra is self-engraved on the Holy Shila( a vertical rock smeared in sindoor).Since the Divine Mother resides in the form of a “Chakra”, hence, she is also locally known as “Chakeshwari” and the place/temple as “Chakrieshwar”.

The significance of Sri-Chakra , is written on a Board in the premises of the temple. I am merely reproducing it verbatim.

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The sacred “Sri Chakra”, commonly known by the Hindus as “Sri Yantra” is composed of circles and the lotus petals, contains nine independent trikonas(Triangles), mystically drawn within the other. The four Triangles that point upwards represent “Shiva” and the other five pointing downwards represent “Shakti”.The Shiva Triangles are called “Sri Kanthas” or Shiva element, and the Shakti triangles are known as “Shiva-yuvatis” or Shakti element. All these are quite independent of the central Bindu and are formed by the Mulaprakrati of Shiva Bindu.
The intersecting triangles represent the play of creation, protection and absorption of the whole universe by the pure divine force known as “Sudha Shakti”.The central point in the Chakra is Bindu which symbolizes the union of “Shiva with Shakti” or “Kameshwar with Kameshwari”.
“Sri Yantra” is, in fact, the most magnificent composition of nine independent trikonas, charged with the supreme occult significance. The Trikonas in their upward and downward positions intersect one another and form themselves into forty three big and small triangles. All these triangles are enclosed in the first inner circle on which is drawn one Lotus with eight petals called “Ashta Dal”, which represents the mystical lotus of creation. The another circle following this with sixteen petalled lotus, drawn on it is called “Shada-shadal”. This Lotus is significant of sixteen kalas or phases of the moon. The whole set of triangles and the Lotus petals are further enclosed in triple concentric circles or three-fold girdles called “Trimekhla”, The whole diagram, forming the mystical chakra, fixed in a square, with triple parallel lines, having four openings or gates on its four cardinal points make up the Devi’s mansion. In the center of the whole composition lies the Bindu(point) which, in fact is the mysterious matrix of the Maha-Yantra. The description of this “Yantra” is given in sloka 11 of “Sundaryalahri”, reproduced just below the Yantra itself.
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The “Yantra” is adopted for the worship of the mighty “Shakti-Lalita Devi” and is considered to be the most popular symbol that the Icon or image of “Srividhya” i.e “Tripursundari” herself.
The mystery of “Sri Yantra” is quite remarkable. Its secret doctrine is largely acknowledged even by the renowned foreign authors and scholars. While acknowledging the mystical performance of these mysterious Yantras and Mandals, a foreign Scholar “Shree Guiseppe Tuccti” has stated In his book, “The theory and practice of Mandals” that the best example of Hinduist Mandal is the one called “Sri Chakra” or the wheel of “Sri” i.e the mystic wheel of “Shakti” or divine power, which is the motive force of the universe and by virtue of which God manifests and displays himself in things which are all of necessity the effect of Shakti itself. Since without “Shakti”, God can do nothing. One can well imagine and understand the might of this “Shakti”, which the God himself has acknowledged as stated in “Sundarya-Lahiri” that only conjoined with thee Oh! “Shakti” have I the power to be the absolute lord otherwise I would not be able to move. Such is the mighty “Shakti-Lalita-Devi”, the ruling Deity of this celebrated “Maha Yantra”.
The “Yantra” can be described in two ways.It may be started from any of the four gates of outer Chakra and worked inwards towards the central Bindu or in the reverse order, It may be started from the Bindu and worked outwards towards the gates. The former process is called “Layakrama”(involution) and the latter “Srashtikrama”(Evolution). Here it is described in the latter way.
Starting from the central point (Bindhu) and ending with the for gates the whole complex is divided into nine Chakras or wheels called Yantras which according to “Tantraja Tantra” are:-
1.Central Red Bindu, described as ……………………………………………………………………………………………Sarvanandmaya.
2. Central White Triangle, described as…………………………………………………………………………………….Sarvasidhipradha.
3.Eight red Triangles, described as ……………………………………………………………………………………………Sarvaroghara.
4.Ten Blue Triangles, described as…………………………………………………………………………………………….Sarvarakshakar.
5.Ten Red Triangles, described as……………………………………………………………………………………………..Sarvarthasadhak.
6.Fourteen blue triangles, described as ……………………………………………………………………………………Sarvasaubnagyadayak.
7.Eight Red Lotus petals, described as……………………………………………………………………………………….Sarvasamksobhan.
8.Sixteen blue lotus petals, described as …………………………………………………………………………………..Sarvaparipuraka.
9.Surrounding Yellow ground between the outer most circle and four gates……………………………Trilokyamohan.

Explaining the complex of these yantras the sacred, “Tripuramahimstrotam” says that the same “Mulavaidyaksars” as having contributed towards the unfolding of this “Sri Yantra” are responsible for the evolution of this universe as well, when it says that:-
(a) From the “Lakar”, which, according to “Laya-Krama” represents the first outer chakra i.e the yellow surrounded ground, This “Pararupa” earth on which we live has been born and on which there are Mountains, Forests, Grooves, fifty peetas(Seats), all places of pilgrimages, all Ganges, all “Khetrasthanas”, this chakra is known as “Trilokyamohan”, that is the Enchanter of the Universe.
(b) From “Sakar”, representing the second chakra of sixteen blue petalled lotus, it took the form of the Moon, Stars, Planets, Zodiac(Rashi Chakra).This Yantra is described as “Sarvasanksobhan”.
(c) In “Ikar”, which is represented by the fourteen blue triangles, It is “Turyamaya” or the creator of the universe. This yantra being fourth in the order is described as “Sarvasaulhagvadayak” i.e all auspicious.
(d) In “Ekar”, which obtains the fifth place in the order and it is represented by Ten Red Triangles the “Vishavi Shakti” manifests herself as one engaged in “Vaishvaplan” (preservation of the universe). This Yantra is described as “Sarvarthasadak” or fulfiller of all desires.
(e) In “Rakar”, which is represented by ten blue triangles and is the sixth yantra in the order, the all luminous and the most flaming aspect of the deity is revealed.This Yantra is described as “Sarvarakshakar”-That is all protecting deity.
(f) In “Kakar”, the shakti is radiated as “Kamda” or granter of all desires, “Kamrupni” or changer of form at will and “Avaya” or eternal. This Yantra, represented by eight red Triangles and occupying the seventh position in the order, is described as “Sarvaroghara” or curer of all diseases.
(g) The eighth Yantra which is represented by the crescent shaped central white triangles is known as “Vishvayoni” or the Womb of the Universe signifying the Karnam or the cause.Here Shakti is identified in “Shunyarpa” (Zero or void form) of the Bindhu Rupa Shiva. This Yantra is described as “ Sarvasidhiprada” or giver of all Siddhis.
(h) The ninth and the last Yantra, represented by the central Bindu, is described as “Sarvanandmaya” i.e all pervading and all blissful flaming Shiva or “Shivajyotimaya”.

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The wheel of the universe( Sansar Chakra) is thus equated with the “Mulavidya” and identified with the “Sri Chakra”.The letter established in Lakar,Sakar, Hakar, Ikar, Ekar, Rakar, and Kakar and associated with various Yantras described above, are its “Beejaksharas”(seeds) and the protecting deities, which are symbolic tattwas, are the Shivas themselves.
The central Bindu has three fold aspects. It is called “Bindu Triya”.The upper part of this focal point, represents the face of Devi and the two below it, her breasts. This is the symbolism of worship in which such anthropomorphic forms are employed by the worshippers who clearly see such images as they are carved or conceived in their minds during their worship. More abstractedly the three Bindus are compared to the Sun, Moon and the fire representing the names given to the aspects of “Para Bindu”.
While commenting upon the Yantra worship, Sir John Woodroff, (Arthur Avalon) another learned Scholar and noted Author says, “that the more experienced and correct view is that the mind is shakti, which is a particular manifestation of it. By continual and repeated practice in that Chakra after Chakra everything becomes divinized” and again hesitates that “Practice of the ritual transforms the mind itself and what is at first seen merely as an external Yantra with lines, curves and petals, becomes a pure mental state in the Sadhka himself. He too is a “Sri Yantra” and realizes himself as such.. The body of the Sadhaka is thus identified with “Sri Yantra” and its nine apertures (Naudwar) correspond to the nine chakras in the Yantra. The Human body, is as such considered like an Island of nine gems which are described to be:- Ajas, Sukra, Majja, Meda, Asti, Mamsa, Roma, Tvak and Rudhir. “The object of the worship of these chakras, as such is the realization of the one Abedabhavana of the Knower who is the one’s own self-(Swatma) or the worshipper, the knowledge and the object of the Knowledge i.e the “Sri Chakra” itself. In fact worship of sri yantra is the unification of these three-The knower of the Knowledge and the object of the knowledge.”
“This celebrated yantra”, says Sir John woodruff further, represents the human body, the whole universe and the man for what is in the former is in the latter and vice-versa as also the Shiva Shakti Swarupa or Atma. It is thus the symbol of Devi as she is in her own form (Swarupa) and as she is in the form of the universe (Vishwatma).

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According to the TANTRAJA TANTRA, there are 960 yantras which are assigned to ADYA, NITYA AND LALITA, the three Goddesses, who are known as “Tripurasundari”. Conjoined in one.
Different fruits are gained by worshipping different Yantras. Of the 960 Yantras the principal one’s are:- Sri yantra, Puja Kamal Chakra, Amritghat, Siddhavajra, Kesthavajra, Wajralinga, Merulinga, Yoni, Vajravajrak, Maha Vajra and Vajra.
Yantras are purely linear diagrams. They are drawn provisionally or permanently. When it is desired to be drawn permanently, It is inscribed on a stone or on copper or Bronze Plates that are often seen in Hindu temples, Shrines and other places of worship. Righteously, the Yantra deserves a place in every Hindu Home if one desires to be happy, prosperous and free from ailments.

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Gangabal Yatra-from Rajtarangini and Other History books

Harmukh Ganga Yatra The turquoise lake of Gangabal, also known as Harmukh-Ganga is situated at the height of around 13500 feet above sea-level. Since centuries, This pious lake has been revered by the Kashmiri Pandits(KP ).The pundits of the Kashmir used to climb-up to the mountain and immerse the ashes of the dead in the lake of Gangabal, and do the obligatory-“Shraddh”-of their ancestors. This lake is as pious as the Ganga at Haridwar.

The length of the lake is approximately  3 kms and breadth is around 1 Km.   Gangabal finds mention in “Nilmat puran” as well as “Rajatarangini”. Authors like walter Lawrence and Sir Francis Younghusband too have mentioned about holy lake Gangabal and its association with the “Shraddh”.Sir Francis  has even mentioned that the date of the annual pilgrimage used to be the 8th day of waxing moon in the month of Bhadra. The Day was also known among the Kashmirian hindus as “Ganga-Ashtami”.

  Gangabal lake is situated at the base of the mighty Harmukh mountain. The perennial glaciers of the Harmukh are the main source of water to the Harmukh-Ganga as well as Nandkol Lake-which is some feet below the Gangabal.A rivlet joins the Gangabal to Nndkol. Rising close to 17000 feet above MSL, The Harmukh peaks dominate the view towards the north from a great part of the Kashmir valley.

  According to Rajtarangini of Kalhan, the Harmugh-Ganga was considered among the holiest “Tirthas” of the Kashmirian. The ancient name of the peaks is “HARAMUKUTA” meaning “shiva’s diadem”.Their height is supposed to be Siva’s favorite residence. Hence Kashmirian tradition stoutly maintains that Human feet cannot reach the peaks summit. The gangabal lake at 13000 feet is looked upon as the true source of the “Kashmir Ganga” or “Sind river” or “sindu”. The old name of “Nundkol” was “KALODAKA” or “Nandisaras”, and was derived from the legend, that makes the lake the joint habitation of both “Kala”, i.e Shiva and his faithful attendant-Nandi. From the latter, the whole collection of sacred sites takes the name “NANDIKHETRA” by which “Kalhana” usually designated it.  

It will be pertinent to mention here that the word-“Hindu” is the corrupted form of the river “Sindu”. The people who used to live on the banks of this river were termed by the foreigners as Hindus. Hence all the Hindus across the world owe their identity as a religious-sect- Hindu to the Harmukh mountain and the sacred lake of Gangabal-the true source of Sindu river.

  Rajtarangini mentions, this holy lake was the final goal of the “Haramukutganga” pilgrimage, which used to take place annually in the month of “Bhadrapada”, and used to be attended by thousands of pilgrims. The bones of those, who had died, during the year, used to be deposited/immersed in the sacred waters of this lake.

  It is also mentioned in some articles, that ,In earlier times, KP’s used to come here and do the Obligatory “Shraddh”(prayers offered to ancestors) and immerse the ashes of those who had died. Before, immersing the ashes into the lake, they used to stock the water for drinking and cooking, as immediately after immersing the ashes, the colour of the waters would change to Red, (because of some micro-organisms), thus making the waters unfit to drink or cook food in.

    It was probably, during the reign of Mir Shamas-ud-din iraqi, when, in 1519 AD,10,000 KP’s were killed during pilgrimage to Harmukh Ganga as they had gone there to immerse the ashes of 800 Kashmiri Pandits, who were massacred during Ashura, a year ago. This yatra as well as all other yatras were banned during the Afgan-rule. And many yatras were rediscovered by the Kashmiri Hindus many decades or centuries later. The Famous Amarnath yatra is one such example.  

  The starting point of this yatra is Naranaag. It lies in the tehsil Kangan, District Ganderbal. There is a cluster of shiva-temple-ruins at Naranaag. These temples were built by the King Lalityaditya Mukhtapida(724-760 CE). Naranaag is a beautiful valley and is surrounded by the thick forests of Deodar.

  Harmukh-Ganga pilgrimage was lost somewhere in the pages of History, until, APMCC/HGGT took the initiative in 2009 and re-organized the pilgrimage of Harmukh-yatra after a gap of more than 150 years. Though, a small group of KP’s sometimes used to undertake this journey before 1990.     APMCC/HGGT charges only a nominal fee of Rs 100 towards the registration., Once the registered pilgrim reaches the Zeethyar-shrine in Srinagar, he/she becomes the responsibility of the organizers. The organizers of this yatra takes care of the Boarding, Lodging, food as well as the pooja for the “Shraddh” at Gangabal Lake.  

The cost per pilgrim comes to around Rs 4500.APMCC/HGGT raises the funds amongst themselves and thus gives a discounted rate of Rs 100/pilgrim. APMCC/HGGT, since many years, have also taken the initiative to renovate the desecrated and dilapidated temples across Kashmir Valley.

This year too APMCC/HGGT is organizing the 7th Annual Gangbal Yatra.This year the “Ganga-Ashtami” falls on 21st September 2015.The yatra will commence on 20th sep.Last year a group of 95 pilgrims visited the Holy Lake.This year the number of registrations has been increased to 130.  

  There is so much associated with Harmukh Mountain and Gangabal lake.Visiting the holy lake is like reliving the History of Kashmiri Pandits.Last year, I visited this lake, and this year too, I am eagerly waiting…   .

Kashmir Minorities conversation

It just happened that a few days Back, I met my childhood friend Aashiq at cannaught place, New Delhi. Ashiq is the son of a “shia pir”(sort of Oracle) and lives in the Dal-Lake area of Kashmir. Even though, he came from a poor family, he has managed to do well for himself and is presently working as a Govt. employee in J&K. He was being accompanied by another friend of his “Harmeet”-a Kashmiri Sikh. We headed towards the coffee shop nearby.

We talked about our childhood and that fun. We talked about our boat rides.swimming. Our hiking expeditions and Zabarwan. Our discussions veered towards the present situation in Kashmir viz-a-viz the socio-economic life of the minorities of Kashmir. Harjeet said, “Sikhs of kashmiri were mostly well-off. We are a peaceful community just as pundits and are generally seen as innocuous and gentle humans.”He added, “With the advent of so-called-jihad, we are tacitly subjugated by the majority sunni community. Many of the sikh girls had been lured by the Sunnis on the pretext of love and marriage. And their religion changed after wedding.” Harjeet paused for a moment and said, ”Many of our youths are side-tracked in govt. jobs in spite of good education and capabilities. We know we are being treated as second-hand citizens. we are ready for the impending doom for being a minority of Kashmir. Most of us have brought houses and lands outside Kashmir. We know, our fate can be that of Kashmiri Pandits- who were forced to flee.”

Shahid was quietly listening. I asked him about his opinion on the plight of Shias in Kashmir. He said, “Whatever is happening in Pakistan is bound to be repeated in Kashmir.” His statement reminded of his cousin Shabbir. It was in late-eighties when a sectarian clash broke between shias and sunnis. Shabbir was one such victim of Sunni hegemony. That fateful day, he was at the wrong place at wrong time. Somebody in the crowd had pointed finger towards him and shouted, “He is a Khudd(a derogatory word used for shia-muslims in Kashmir).” He was stripped of his clothes by the crowd that constituted the majority community of sunnis. He was forced to run stark-naked towards his home in the Dal-Lake area. While he was being humiliated, many people in the crowd were cheering and galvanizing the mob to do more such shameful acts.

“We do not support Pakistan. The support to Azadi is because of our compulsion. Even though shia militant-groups were formed by our community, but they hardly participated. It was a gesture to show that we support them. We did not wanted to be conspicuous by not supporting them. Even though we did not really supported them.”said Shahid as he further added, “You can ask any Kashmiri Pandit, who are living in shia-dominated areas in Kashmir. They are the safest in our areas.” I knew it already, Many Kashmiri pundits stay put in their villages that were shia-dominated even when militancy was at its peak.

Harjeet intercepted Jokingly, “ Sunnis consider them as untouchables and untrustworthy”. Shahid nodded his head in approval and said, “we are ready to fight with them with our fists or with bullets.” With a whiff of anger. He said further, “we will fight back” with a determined tone. “when a sunni is killed by armed forced for whatever reason, they come on streets to protest. And if a shia is killed, not a brow is raised.” said shahid.

I was getting late as I had an appointment. But before that, I asked them about Kashmiri Pandits. Harjeet said , “Had you stayed back in Kashmir, you would have faced more ignominy and collateral damage in terms of life and the honour of KP ladies.” Shahid also approved as he said, “The general feeling is that you will never come back again”. He gesticulated as he said, “ And they will make sure that you don’t come back again.”

I took their permission and left them alone in the cafeteria. The last lines of Shahid were reverberating in my mind, “And they will make sure that you don’t come back again”. But I have pinned hope against hope that I will return someday, sometime. But I will return for sure….

Kashmiri Pandits: VICTIMS of TERROR ‘n HATE CRIME

CRIME against HUMANITY: For the attention of pretended world bodies, contaminated human rights organisations, pseudo-secularists, self-styled leaders, so-called policy makers, tainted political parties and slack bureaucracy…..!

Kashmir can claim the distinction of being the only region of India which possesses an uninterrupted series of written records of its history. The earlier known kings of the Valley are Gonanda I and Damodara I. According to Kalhana, Gonanda I was the contemporary of Kauravas and Pandavas (later Vedic period). Hasan Khuihami claims to have traced the thirty-five kings, which were missing in Kalhana’s chronicle. Of the early kings who ruled over Kashmir at the beginning of Christian era, Ashoka followed Buddhism; while his son, Jaloka, reverted to the worship of Lord Shiva. The Buddhists, however, regained their strength under the patronage of the Turushka kings-Hushka, Jushka and Kanishka.

History of the Kashmiri Pandits is the history of Kashmir since unknown millennia. They are associated with its very existence – society, culture, civilization, customs, traditions, myths and realities. A period of comparative historical validity in the region began with the establishment of the Karkuta rule in AD 627. During the regime of Lohara dynasty, Kashmir came into direct 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 a locality called “Malichmar” near Alikadal (Srinagar) 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 temple treasures and got the idols of gold and silver melted to tide over his financial crisis. Before him two other kings, Jalauka and Kalasa, employed the same approach of plundering the temples 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 once again consolidated their position. But Ramadeva (AD 1252-1273) humiliated those Brahmans who had helped him in his coronation. 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 concealed their identity and cried “ Na Batoham” (I am not a Hindu).

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, 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. Terrible 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. The cruel invader 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 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 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 tremendous 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 managed 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 even now. 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 Rani 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 prosecute 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 mankind.

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 of them left the Valley. Yet many more were passing their days in the most deplorable conditions only on payment of jazia. The allowance of the Brahman academicians was 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 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 Valley. 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:

No Hindu should ride a horse, nor should a Hindu wear a shoe;
That they should not wear Jama (Mughal costume);
That they should move bare arms;
That they should not visit any garden;
That they should not have tilak mark on their foreheads;
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 sixth horrible mass exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits, 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 an 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 been converted to 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.

The Valley of Kashmir had been ceded by the Sikhs to the British in lieu of indemnity imposed on the Lahore Durbar. The British made it over to Maharaja Gulab Singh on March 16, 1846, for a sum of seventy-five lacs of rupees. In this way, the territory and people of Kashmir were virtually sold to Gulab Singh by the British. Thus began the Dogra rule in Kashmir. The present Jammu & Kashmir State was born.The creation of the Jammu and Kashmir State in 1846, through the Treaty of Amritsar, was a master-stroke of British diplomacy in Asia. No doubt, Kashmir never became a past of the British Indian domain, but the British allowed only minimum operational freedom to the Dogra rulers. In fact, the British created a buffer state of Jammu and Kashmir under the title of a “Sovereign State”, to keep Russia at a distance from British India and to counter the Czarist “menance” in Central Asia.In the middle of the 19th century, the growing menace of Russian expansion in Central Asia posed a direct threat to the security of British domain in India. So there was need to create a buffer between the two rivals in Asia. Kashmir, like Afghanistan, served the purpose. Installation of a British Commissioner in Ladakh in 1847-48 was a prelude to the forceful perpetuation of British imperialist policy in Kashmir. The British managed their Kashmir policy with extraordinary caution and subtle diplomacy.History of Kashmir in the second half of the 19th century should be studied in the backdrop of Anglo-Russian rivalry in Central Asia. Any move on the Central Asian chessboard had its direct impact on Kashmir. The policies of the British in Kashmir were designed to fit in the scheme of their “frontier policy” in Central Asia.In 1885, the first British Resident was appointed in Kashmir. With this statrted the active British intervention in Jammu and Kashmir State. Creation of Gilgit Agency, subjugation of Chitral, establishment of a Council and finally partial deposition of Maharaja Partap Singh in 1889 was the completion of British imperialist strange-hold over Kashmir. This was managed by the British through their successive Residents in Kashmir.

With the formation of Jammu and Kashmir State; and, establishment of the Dogra rule, Kashmiri Pandits were imperceptibly elbowed to the background. Administrators and officials were deputed from Jammu region. Though they enjoyed comprehensive.

This article has been written by Dr Satish Ganjoo