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Lord Spontaneous (Shivratri-Herath)

The esoteric form of Shiva as Swacchand Bhairava with his consort Agoreshwari is central to Kashmir Shaivism, writes Sunil Raina

Shivaratri, celebrated on the 13th day of the dark fortnight of the month of Phalgun, is also called Har-ratri or Herath in Kashmiri. The festival has great religious and spiritual significance as it coincides with the emergence of Shiva tattvas on the physical plane. Shiva, at the early dawn of human creation, thought of Shakti, and in her search, donned the form of 18-armed Swacchandnath Bhairava.

Shakti, frightened by this form of Shiva, cast a glance on a pitcher full of water, wherefrom emerged Vatuk Bhairava and Rama Bhairava to defend her. Shiva at that time changed his form to Jawalalinga. Amazed by Shiva’s new form, Shakti along with her defending bhairavas merged with the Jawalalinga. Since this event is believed to have taken place on triyodashi, Kashmiris celebrate Shivaratri on this day, whereas the rest of the country, celebrated the festival on chaturdashi when the linga was pacified.

The esoteric form of Shiva as Swacchand Bhairava with his consort Agoreshwari is central to Kashmir Shaivism, and has been in existence since medieval times. Swacchand Bhairava signifies the prakasha, or the light consciousness, and Agoreshwari signifies vimarsha or Self-awareness. Swacchanda — as the term is understood — means free, independent and spontaneous and is synonymous with Swatantra. Kashmir Shaivism says that nondual conscious freedom is the only freedom that exists where the union with the Absolute is singular, amounting to you being Shiva, and is not dual.

This esoteric form of Shiva is imagined and deified as:

lWhite, five-faced and wide-eyed lord.

lHe is adorned with serpents and wears a necklace of scorpions which is called gunas. The word gunas in Kashmiri means serpent; Kashmiri women wear gunas bracelets that have at their ends, two serpents or red scorpions gazing at each other. This is symbolic of his instantaneous play with the bonds of soul.

lHe wraps a lion skin around his hip and an elephant hide over his shoulders.

lHe wears a garland of skulls, has a black throat and 18 arms.

His consort, who sits on his right thigh, has the same characteristics. By the power of his autonomy, the lord manifests this form with the highest level of Shakti. The lord has done so to facilitate and allow aspirants to enter the light of impartible that is indivisible or nondual as there is nothing like this in appearance anywhere else.

He is wide-eyed. He is in Bhairava Mudra intent on liberation of souls. He is focused within. He neither opens nor closes his eyes. He is overflowing with consciousness and bliss and has three power tools: icchha or will; jnana or knowledge and kriya or action. It is with these tools that Swacchandnath Bhairava manifests this universe with his fivefold acts of shristi or creation, stithi or sustenance, samhara or dissolution, triodanha or concealing and anugraha or revealing.

lBy his act of shristi, he holds and nourishes the universe in a way that he manifests the universe on the panoramic canvas of his identity.

lStithi is the persistence, the moment in which the consciousness is immersed in its projected content.

lSamhara is retraction; consciousness reabsorbs the content it has projected, essentially turning it towards nondual essence.

lTriodanha is enfolding or concealing of creation with respect to time and space.

l Anugraha is unfolding or revealing projections in the manifest world.

With these fivefold acts, Swacchandnath Bhairava, along with Agoreshwari, create an animate and inanimate world, thus unleashing the divine play of reality. The world is nothing but the mirror image of Swacchandnath Bhairava, and to recognise this unity between the individual soul, is the purpose of a well-meaning life. Shiva spreads the nectar of creativeness; shields the jivatman from torturous transmigration; brings forth the inner consciousness by tearing apart the individual ego, which essentially is ignorance; terminates maya; binds the universe and brings forth bliss, which is unlimited.

The night of Shivaratri is essentially considered to bring supreme awareness of Shivahood on the physical plane among aspirants. It removes nonduality among the souls and pushes the seeker to the higher orbit of Self-realisation. The festival of Shivaratri is celebrated with grandeur and reverence in every Kashmiri Hindu household, where each family member observes a fast and contributes towards making this festival a great success.

 

Written by:-Sunil Raina

36 elements and the Basics of Kashmir Shaivism….

 

 Chaitanya (shiv ) (supreme consciousness )is the first element (of 36) according to Kashmir Shaivism(KS). Everything (whole universe) is held in Chaitanya and is non-different from it in reality. the next 35 elements of KS comes out of this first element. Just like the fire has no effect on space that holds it; or water can not wash away the space; earth can not weigh down space or air can not blow space…….similarly the gross world (universe) or subtle world though owe  their existence to Chaitanya, yet it is unaffected by it.
Chaitanya has also be referred as ‘Hridyam'(Heart) in the lingo of Ks and Advaith vedant.
The word “Hridyam” comes twice in ‘Shiv sutras’, and means ‘consciousness ‘ at both places.
The first slok of Shiv-sutras is ‘chaitanyam Atma’ meaning supreme consciousness is the reality of everything. chaitanyam is a synonym of ‘Atma'(that which holds everything ).
Chaitanyam due to its own will, when reflects in the mirror of Maya, diversifies, because of the self- imposed limitations namely anavamala(contraction of real nature), mayayimala (contracted knowledge) and karmmala(contraction of action ) and five kanchukas of maya(kala, kala, raga.niyati and vidya ).
Owing to this  contraction , the unlimited supreme consciousness becomes chit(mind).
This whole world has been termed as the solidification of the limited mind…this mind though owes its existence to Chaitanya, yet because of the forgetfulness of its real nature(that is supreme consciousness), it keeps on taking births after births..
It is the subtle body(Manas, buddhi, Ahamkar and 5 tanmatras), also known as ‘Puryashtak’, that sheds the old body and takes the new as an expression to fulfill a desire(that is endless).

Brahman and Atman has been too often used in the philosophy of Advaith Vedanta . Whereas in KS the emphasis is on Chaitanya.
Chaitanya  has been referred as an Ocean, and the waves as the different worlds/ jivas.
Because of the desire in Shiva(consciousness); time and space comes into effect. A wave (limited being) exists in time as well as space. It rises up(due to spanda in consciousness) in space and lives in a time frame(rising and falling of wave).Though it looks as if a wave is an independent entity ; but in reality waves are but Ocean. So in reality, nothing is happening.
This concept has been used by Advaith Vedanta as well as KS.
Another example to illustrate consciousness is Space and jar. Space is inside the jar. When the jar is broken ; nothing happen to the space inside it(as it is inside as well as outside).
Another example is of a newspaper, we read all the words ; while as we ignore the paper on which all the words and pictures are printed.
In Yoga Vashista, It has been said that ,From the supreme Brahman(consciousness), the mind first arose with its faculty of thinking and imagination. And this mind remains as such in that Brahman(consciousness), even as fragrance in a flower, as waves in Ocean and rays of light in the Sun. Brahman(supreme consciousness) which is extremely subtle and invisible, was forgotten, as it were, and thus arose the wrong notion of the real existence of the world appearance.
If one thinks that the light rays are different and distinct from the Sun, to him the light rays have a distinct reality. If one thinks that the bracelet made of Gold is a Bracelet, to him it is indeed a bracelet and not Gold.
But if one realizes that light rays are non different from the Sun, his understanding is said to be unmodified(nirvikalpa). If one realizes that the waves are non different from the ocean, his understanding is said to be unmodified(nirvikalpa). If one realizes that the bracelet is non-different from Gold, his understanding is said to be unmodified(nirvikalpa).

‘O’ Rama, whatever you do that is nothing but pure consciousness. Brahman(consciousness ) alone is manifest here as all this, for nothing else exists. there is no scope for ‘this’ an the ‘other’. Therefore , abound on even the concepts of liberation and bondage. Remain in the pure, egoless state, engaging yourself in natural activity.’
Said Sage Vasishta to Rama( from the book yog vashishta)

The 2nd element according to KS is the Shakti-tattva. She is also referred as Anand(bliss). Shiv and Shakti are intertwined and inseparable. Without Shakti,  Shiv become lifeless corpse(shav).. It is because of Shakti , Shiv has been been referred as Shaktiman.
The nature of consciousness (shiv) is Bliss (Shakti). Shiva is the light and Shakti  is the luminosity .Shiva is Prakash and Shakti is the Vimarsha. though for Many, they may sound two; but actually they are one .
Shiv and Shakti together are also referred as Aham. A ‘-represents Shiva and Ma’ represents Shakt. the letter ‘m’ indicates the whole ”pratyahara’, which are contained  in the letters from ‘a’ to ‘h’ and which has created according to KS one hundred and eighteen worlds, the thirty six elements, and five circles(kalas), has in reality created nothing. It is just one point.
All the vowels represent Shiv and all the consonants represent Shakti. When they meet together, a word is formed and then sentences are formed. It is by these words and sentences an impression is formed on the mind and one gets entangled in samsara; and when due to the Anugraha (Shakti) of Shiva, all the words and sentences unfold themselves as nothing but Shiva.
‘Aham’ in this stage is the ‘I’ of the universal ‘I'(Parmshiv). It also means as ‘I am’. this stage has been referred as Shiv pramtri(experiencer), as it is none but Shiva who is the real experiencer of everything through our senses.
All the actions (verbs) are but Shakti. All the actions carried out by mind and the sense organs are but Shakti. whatever one can think of, or whatever one sees or feels is but Shakti. She is the Maya Shakti , she is Maya, she is khechri, Buchari. She is ‘AMA’, ‘Kama’, ‘Parvati’. She is Sharika. She is Tripura, who dwells in the three stages of Waking state, Dreams and Deep sleep. She is also the Turiya.

The third element according to KS is Sadasiva tattva. This is also known as iecha(desire/will).Here Shiv-Shakti(Aham)(I am) expresses itself as ‘Aham-idam’ (I -ness or I am in this ness).I am this whole universe .This is a subjective   Tattva as is Shiv-Shakti, Iswara and Shuddh Vidya.

The pramatri (experiencer) of this stage is also termed as ‘Mantra-Mantreshwar’. this tattva further expresses itself as the five vital breaths, namely Pran(centered at Heart and moves upward. This is also known as Sun as the outgoing breath is hot/warm.  It’s movement is from Heart to Throat.) Apana(centered near the organs of sex and Excretion. and it’s movement is always downward ), samana( centered near naabi. aids in digestion), Udan vayu( moves from neck to the crown ) and Vyan( holds all the breaths in itself like the Akash.)
‘SadaSiva’ tattva is denoted by the letter ‘gha’ of Sanskrit.
The fourth element is ‘Ishwara tattva’. This is also known as Gyan(knowledge ). Here ‘Aham’ expresses itself as ‘Idam Aham'( this ness in I-ness).From Sadasiva tattva where the expression was ‘I am this whole universe ‘, it becomes ‘This universe is my own expression ‘.It further expresses itself in the five ‘Gyanindreyas'(organs of knowledge ). Here the Pramatri( experiencer) is known as ‘Mantreshwar’.
It is represented by the letter ‘na’ of Sanskrit.
The fifth element is ‘suddha vidya tattva’. This is also known as ‘Kriya'(action ). Here ‘Aham’ expresses itself as ‘Aham Idam-Idam Aham'( I-ness in thisness ; thisness in I-ness).The experiencer experiences at this level that this universe is not an illusion and this universe is my own expansion.The pramatri(experiencer) at this level is known as ‘mantra-Pramatri’. It expresses further as the five organs of action(Karmindreyas).
The letter ‘I’ of Sanskrit represents this tattva.
These first five elements come under the category of ‘Shuddh tattvas'(pure elements). Here there is no duality as yet.
After the first five tattvas(pure elements), the subjective non dual aspect of Shiva descends in Maya(6th element ).the subjective experiencer after entering / reflecting in Maya  becomes the Knowlege(pramana) and objects(prameya). Subjectivity ends and the world of Objectivity begins .One becomes many. The supreme consciousness tends to forget its own nature(in the mirror of Maya) yet it is aware of its own nature( because the Maya itself gets it’s power from it and that it is always aware of itself in the subjective plane of Sudda tattva). The diversified tri-Guni Maya is represented by the alphabet ‘ca’ of Sanskrit.The five unlimited powers of Parmshiv ( Chaitanya, Anand, Iecha, Gyan and Kriya) gets contracted after entering in the field of Maya and become the five coverings/sheaths namely Kala, Vidya,raga, Kala and Niyati owing to the triple ignorance namely Anavamala(contraction of Iecha),Mayaimala(contraction of knowledge ) and Karmmala(contraction of Kriya).
The first kanchukas namely ‘Kala'(7th element) creates an impression that it has limited creativity and  not unlimited .It is denoted by the letter ‘cha’ of Sanskrit.The second kanchukas namely ‘vidya'(8th element) creates an impression of limited knowledge .It is denoted by the letter ‘ja’ of Sanskrit.The third kanchukas is ‘Raga’ (9th element) meaning ‘attachment’. This is that attachment which results from not being full and that he must have this or that to make him full. It is denoted by the letter ‘jha’ of Sanskrit.The fourth kanchukas I.e the 10 th element is the ‘kala’. Here it means ‘Time’.The action of this tattva is to keep ‘purusa’ in a particular time or make him believe that he is 30 years old or 40 years old and and that he is not timeless or eternal. This tattva is represented by the alphabet, ‘Dha’ of Sanskrit .The fifth kanchukas ie the 11th element is ‘niyati tattva’. this element makes an impression in the experiencer in the Purush that he is residing in such and such place and not at all places.this is represented by the letter ‘ va’ of Sanskrit .
The next element(12) is the ‘purusa’ and 13 the is ‘prakriti’. these two tattvas are interdependent .
Prakriti is the element which is referred to as nature(three gunas, namely Sattvic, Rajsic and Tamsic ). ‘Purush’ is that which reacts to ‘Prakriti’ .purush is represented by the letter ‘ na’ and Prakriti as ‘ta’ of Sanskrit.
The experiencer(pramatri) form ‘Purush’ to ‘Maya’ tattva is known as Vijnankala pramatri’. This is Akin to the stage of ‘Deep sleep’.The ‘pralayakala pramatri stage’ lacks the mala(ignorance) of ‘Mayayimala’ and ‘karmmala. It has only one mala I.e ‘Anavamala’. This is our stage when we are in deep sleep.

The 14th element is ‘Ahamkar’(ego connected with Objectivity ).The 15th element is ‘Buddhi'(intellect ).The 16th element is ‘Manas’. Together these three elements is typically , what is termed as ‘Mind’. This is also referred as ‘Chitta’. The contraction of Chit-Anand shakti(Shiv-Shakti) due to ignorance(duality) is the ‘Chitta’.
At this level, the limitation of Knowledge has set in. Before this level, the knowledge is in a dormant stage.
The expression of Chaitanya is the Manas; the expression of Anand Shakti is Buddhi and Ahankar.
The Prakriti tattva(13 the element) has three attributes ie Sattvic, Rajsic and Tamsic. As already discussed , the further expression of Ishwar tattva(knowledge) and Shuddh vidya(Kriya ) is the Gyanindreyas (organs of Knowledge) and Karmindreyas (organs of action).
The three gunas of Prakriti makes the Gyanindreyas , Karmindreyas and Panch Mahabhoot(5 gross elements viz  Earth water air fire and Ether) as Sattvic, Rajsic and Tamsic respectively………
Buddhi, Ahamkar and Manas are represented by the letters ‘tha’ , ‘da’ and ‘dha’ of Sanskrit respectively…
After Antahkarnas,(3+2).. (Internal organs), comes the ‘Pancha Gyanindreyas ‘ (five organs of cognition)..
These are
(17th)Srotra-ear…organ of Hearing
(18th)Tvak-Skin, organ of touching
(19th)Cakshu-eye, organ of seeing
(20th)Rasana-tongue, organ of tasting.
(21st)Ghrana-nose, organ of smelling
They are represented by the  alphabets ‘na’, ‘ta’, ‘tha’, ‘da’ and ‘dha’ of Sanskrit respectively…

 

Pancha Karmindreyas (five organs of action ) consist of
(22nd)Vak(speech ), (23rd)pani(hand),(24th) pada(foot), (25th)payu(excretion) and(26th)Upastha(creative/reproductive).
They are represented by the letters ‘na’ , ‘ba’, ‘bha’, ‘Pha’ and ‘pa’ of the Sanskrit alphabets respectively

Panch tanmatra(five subtle elements) consist of:
(27th)Sabda(sound)
This tanmatra is found in Akasa tattva(32th element)
(28th)Sparsha tanmatra (touch); representing the gross element of (29th)vayu(air-the 33th element)
(30th)Rupa tanmatra(form), 29th element ; this is found in the gross element of agni(fire)(34th element)
(31st)Rasa tanmatra(taste)-the 30th element is found in the gross element of jal(water)(34th element) and Gandha tanmatra(smell) is chiefly found in the 36th element of Prithvi(earth)
The gross elements of Earth(36th), water(35th) , fire(34th), air(33rd) and Ether(32nd) are related to the tanmatras in this way
Earth-this has all the five tanmatras namely Gandha , rasa,rupa, sparsha, and Sabda.but the chief tanmatra connected with Earth element is Gandha(smell).
The water element has only four(rasa, rupa,sparsha and sabda ).the chief tanmatra connected with this element is rasa (taste).
The tejas(fire) element has only three tanmatras connected with it(rupa, sparsha, sabda)…the main tanmatra however is rupa(form) attached to fire element.
The vayu(air) Element has only two tanmatras connected to it(sparsha and sabda).the chief however is Sparsha.
The Akasa(ether ) has only one tanmatra attached to it and that is ‘sabda'(sound)
The Sanskrit alphabets representing these elements are
Earth(‘ksa’), water (‘ha’), fire(‘sa’), air(‘sa’), akasha(‘sa’)
Gandha(‘va’), rasa(‘la’), rupa(‘ra’), sparsha(ya) and sabda(‘ma’)
From Prikriti tattva to the jala(water) tattva, the experiencer (pramatr) is termed as Pralayakala pramatri. In this stage apart from anavamala; Mayaimala ( limitation of Knowledge ) too has set in.
This has also been referred as Dream state.

Sakala pramatr is the stage of the experiencer at Gross level. This has its effect on only one element and that is Earth.This level has all the three limitations namely Anavamala, Mayayimala and Karmmala(limitation of action).This is what is also known as the Waking state.
Pramatr, pramana and pramey meaning Experiencer, Knowledge(of object) and Object is an important concept of both Vedanta and KS.In the level of Shuddh tattvas(pure elements); there is only the Experiencer. It is a stage of non-duality.It is only after Shiva wants to experience his own state of duality; Maya (duality) comes into effect and thus the Knowledge and the Objects appear.
First the knowledge of Duality appears and the Mind is formed and then the Mind solidifies itself and the world materializes.

To realise that the Object(Prameya), knowledge of object (pramana) and the experient(pramatra) are not different from each other and that our real ‘self’is none other than Shiva-the universal experient is the essence of Kashmir Shaivism.

The Legend of Sarda, Shankaracharya and mysterious Sandalwood idol…

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The legend of Sharda

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

The Mystical wooden(Sandalwood) idol of Sharda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adi Shankaracharya’s visit to Sarda temple and Kashmir

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

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

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

 

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

Adi-Shankaracharya according to Sringeri Sharda peetham

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

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

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

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

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

Sandalwood Idol of Sarda Mata at Sringeri

 

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

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

Geographical Availability of Sandalwood in Kashmir and Karnataka

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

The legend of Kapatesvara(From Rajatarangini)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connection between Sarda temple and Kapteshwar temple

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

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

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

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

And so will the mystery…

 

( by:Sandeep Raj koul)

 

 

 

 

 

sharda1 sharda2

(Photo courtesy: Rukhsana Khan)

 

 

References:

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

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

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

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

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

http://www.sringeri.net/history

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

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

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

 

Kausar Nag History and the controversy

The Protest headed by the separatists of Kashmir against Kausar nag yatra was not an impromptu agitation. It was rather deliberated upon astutely by the Separatists.And a leading Kashmir-based-English-newspaper was roped in . For example, This leading newspaper of Kashmir, few weeks back had published deliberately that instead of some 40 odd KP’s, 4000 Kashmiri hindus(more than 99% of hindus in Kashmir are Pandits) are going for the yatra. This was enough for the separatists to convey the majority population, that this yatra is a precursor for the return of KP’s into the valley.And thus an era of Hindu-Hegemony has started .( 4000 Hindus are/were going for the yatra, that too from the Reasi side of Jammu according to newspaper reports.)

30-40 odd Kashmiri Pandits(KP’s) wanted to undertake the Kausarnag yatra from Kulgam, as did their predecessors till 1989.But to their dismay, they were stopped by the local administration, even though they had taken the permission to undertake this yatra many days back. It is an irony that the DC of Kulgam backtracked from his original stand and feigned that he had not given any such order.


DC

The main and only reason for the cancellation of the yatra, was the appeasement policy of pak-sponsored-separatists and their cahoots. They alleged that KP’s never undertook this yatra and opined that the yatra will disturb the fragile ecology of the Mountain lake-Kausrnag. But strangely, they have turned a blind eye on other equally important ecological aspects of Kashmir.

The fact however has a different story to tell:

Fact is that 10,000 trees were cut and 30,000 wild lives destroyed to construct Mughal Road. Is that not destruction of ecology! Why didn’t the separatists raised their voice against that road! Or was it that, the road was connecting them to another Muslim dominated area, hence they remained silent! Why haven’t The so called Islamic zealots- turned- environmentalists ever raised their voice against the molestation of water bodies of Kashmir viz Dal Lake, Nagin Lake, Wullar Lake, Manasbal Lake and now extinct Anchaar lake.
What about the environmental hazards which other tourist places like Gulmarg, tangmarg and many other such tourist destinations have to face due to the influx of tourists both Indian and foreign. Has these bigot leaders guts to raise their voices against the influx of tourists to these places? The answer is a big No!!! Fact remains that tourism is the single largest segment which gives livelihood to lakhs of Kashmiris. Every year lakhs of Kashmiris pray to Almighty that more and more tourists should come to Kashmir. Tourists who come to Kashmir spend money like wastrels and don’t mind to loosen their wallets.

The tourists unlike the KP’s don’t call Kashmir their Homeland. But KP’s do. Since, many Kashmiri Muslims have illegally occupied the houses and properties of Kashmir, They fear that if KP’s will come back, they may have to handover those properties back to the Hindus. They are the ones who protest stridently against the coming of KP’s back into the valley. And they are the biggest supporters of the separatists.

B.T.W, Kausarnag is also known as Vishnupad or Kramasaras or kramasara.

The Separatists who are ignorant about the legend and History of Kashmir, particularly Kausarnag should read the write-up, by DR. R.K.Tamiri, that shows the significance of “Vishnupad”..

 

 Visnu Pad Legend:By Dr. R.K. Tamiri

It was in summer (July) of 1982 that I visited the enchanting high altitude lake of Konsarnag. A decade and a half later when I drifted into the field of folkloristics and history I ‘discovered’ that in my trek to this beautiful lake I had accomplished the pilgrimage to the historic Naubandhana Tirtha. Konsarnag, over 2 miles long  and located at an altitude of 12,000 ft, has been worshipped since times immemorial as Visnupad (foot of Visnu). In Nilmat Times it was called by its Sanskrit name Kramasaras or Kramsara (Kramafootstep, Saras lake). Since it is supposed to mark the footstep of Visnu, it is the main objective of the Naubandhana pilgrimage.

VisnuPad Legend: Konsarnag lake is one of the two places in Kashmir Valley that is associated with worship of ‘Visnupad’. The other shrine of ‘Visupad’ is located in the foothills of Pir Panjal at Fatehpur, in Dooru-Shahbad tehsil, not much away from Verinag (Nilkunda) Spring. Fatehpur shrine houses as per local folklore, footprints of Visnu on a stone. In the Vedic literature (Rigvedic verse I22.17) mentions three steps of Visnu. According to Sakapuni, Visnu placed his steps in a 3-fold manner, on the earth (as fire) in the atmosphere (as the lightening) and in the sky as the sun. Visnu is chiefly extolled for his three strides with which he traversed the world. The Mahabharata speaks of him as the presiding deity of motion. The Natyashastra of Bharata applies to him the epithet amitagata, one with unrestrained movement and the earth is often described as having been trodden by Visnu in the past. In the epic-purana period a few holy spots were supposed to bear the markings of the feet of Visnu, whose main attribute  is his power of striding. Scholar BM Baru explains Visnupada as an astronomical term, when the sun is on the rising point (Samarohana) and setting (Gayasiras). Stories about a hill bearing the footprints of Visnu were current in the days of Yaska. Visnusmriti mentions Visnupada alongwith Godavari, Gomati, Vipasa etc. besides Gaya. An important aspect of Gaya pilgrimage (where a person can perform his own sraddha), is visit to Visnupada temple (bearing foot-prints of Visnu). This temple existed in 4th Century AD, but the temple in its present condition belongs to Gupta period. However, Buchanan draws our attention to an inscription that says the temple was constructed by King Jayasimha (1128-49 AD) of Kashmir in honour of the footprints of deity Dattatreya (a form of Visnu). The epics refer to a Visnupada situated in the north. Mahabharat a carries as many as six references to it, three of which speak of it as a spot on the top of a northern hill. Historian Suvira Jaiswal says, “At present we cannot determine its exact location, it appears to have been in the north”. Popularity of worship of Visnupada in Kashmir is certainly due to sway of Buddhism in the region. Jaiswal argues,” the practice of dedicating the footprints of Visnu and of erecting shrines over them became popular certainly due to the Buddhist influence. It was later adopted by Vaisnavism in which Visnu’s foot was already much exalted. But it was not popular among Vaisnavas, as dearth of available evidence indicates”.

Dessication of Satisar Legend: Kashmir’s religious tradition locates on the peaks in the vicinity of Konsarnag lake the seat from which Visnu, Siva and Brahma fought the water demon Jalodbhave and dessicated Satisaras. The western most and the highest peak (15523 ft) is said to have been the site of Naubandhana tirtha. In the Kashmir version of the deluge Visnu in his Matsya (fish) avtara had bound to this peak the  Nau (ship into which Parvati/Sati had converted herself) to save the seeds of beings from destruction. Konsarnag lake lies at the foot of this peak and to the northwest of it.

Nilmat Story: As per the legend narrated by Nilmat Mahatmya, at the end of Manvantra (one of the 71 Caturyugas) all the movable/immovable creations of the earth were destroyed completely, sparing of course the mountains. The whole of Jambudvipa was effaced, the earth turned into a sea. After the destruction Lord Mahadeva stayed all around the world in the form of water. At that time, the Goddess Sati assumed the form of a boat. The future Manu, through magical power, placed all the seeds in that boat. Visnu in Matsya form dragged off that boat by means of his horn, fastened it to the top of a mountain and left for an unknown place. This mountain peak came to be called Naubandhana peak-holy and destroyer of all sins and fears. The goddess Sati in boat form becomes the earth and on that earth comes into being a lake of clear water, Satidesa, 6 Yojanas long and half of that in breadth, enjoyable, heart-enrapturing and the sporting place of the gods. Indra was sporting once on the bank of Konsarnag, accompanied and his wife Saci. Daitya Chief Sangrha, who was exceedingly difficult of being conquered came there while Indra was sporting. He was aroused by Saci and wanted to carry her away. This angered Indra. In the fight between Indra and Sangraha that lasted a year, the Daitya Chief was killed and Indra ascended to heaven. However, just before his death, Sangraha discharged his semen into the lake. A child was born in the waters out of the semen of the evil-minded Daitya Chief.As he was born in the water, the child came to be called Jalodbhava (demon-child). Due to compassion, the Nagas led by their chief Nila brought up that child in the waters. Having propitiated the God Pitamaha with penance, Jalodbhava obtained from him a triple boon, viz. immortality in the water, magical power and unparalled prowess. The Daitya chief devoured all the human beings who lived in various regions near the lake. The people fled away from Kashmir due to fear. At that time Kashyapa was on a pilgrimage of Kashmir to visit the holy spots. Nila went to meet Kashypa at a place called Kanakhala. On his visit to holy Visnupada, Nila pleaded before Kashypa,” Now that imprudent fellow (Jalodbhava) who obtained boons from Brahma of imperceptible birth, ignores me like anything and I am incapable of keeping him under control due to the boon of the lord of three worlds.” Kashypa accompanied by Nila, the Lord of Nagas reached the abode of Brahma and complain to Vasudeva, Isvara, Ananta about the activities of Jalodbhava. The God Pitamaha tells Nila, the sage of unparalleled valour, “we shall go to Naubandhan a to subdue him. Then the God Kesava (Visnu) will undoubtedly kill him”. Gods mounted their respective Vahans (vehicles), Hari on Tarksya, Hara along with his wife on bull, Brahma on Swan and the two Nagas on the cloud. They went after Jalodbhava. Kashypa went by his supernatural power. Indra heard that and, in the company of the hosts of gods, went to that place where Kesava had gone. Other smaller gods also came on their respective mounts to witness the fight. Having reached Nauban-dhana, Visnu adopted a firm position. As Jalodbhava heard the sound of the retinue of the gods, knowing himself to be imperishable in the water he did not come out. The pleased Madhusudana, having learnt that the water-demon would not come out, entered Naubhandna in the company of Gods. Rudra took position on Naubhandna peak, Hari on the southern peak, Brahma on the northern peak and the gods and the asuras following them. With gods having taken up the positions, God Janardana implored Ananta to kill the demon,” Breaking forth Himalaya today with the plough,make soon this lake devoid of water”. Ananta broke forth Himalaya with the plough.When the water of the lake was disappearnig, Jalodbhava practised magic to create darkness all around. Then the God Siva, holding the sun and the moon in his hands, brought the world to light.With the vanishing of darkness, Hari through yogic powers assumed another body and fought with the demon. There was a terrible fight between Visnu and the demon with trees and peaks of mountains.Hari cut of forcibly the head of the demon and Brahma felt pleased. Brahma, Visnu and Sambhu gave their own names to the peaks of which they had taken their positions. So the peaks came to be called Brahma, Visnu and Mahesvara. That which is Naubandhana peak is Sankara. The one on its right side is celebrated as Hari and the left one as Brahma. The Gods declared, “whoever shall see you after taking bath in the lake Kramasara shall see three of us on the mountain and will go to heaven.” As per tradition even the evil-doers are freed by seeing these peaks. Different places on the peaks are worshipped as hermitages erected by Brahma, Kashypa, Mahadeva, Ananta, the sun and the moon and Hari. Mahadeva’s hermitage is located on the spot where Visnu stood and obtained victory at that time. Hari’s hermitage is celebrated as Narsimha. After the slaying of the demon, the Sudarsana wheel, intoxicated with the blood of Jalodbhava, wandered in the deserted land and was caught by Sankara. The latter handed over the discuss to Jnarndana. The latter made his abode on the head of Jalodbhava. He erected a divine image, on which both Kesava and Siva-the destroyer of all sins-are represented. Kashyapa then declared land as habitable, holy and charming. He asked Nagas to live in the company of Pisachas. When Nila, the Naga Lord reminded sage Kasypa about war-like nature and evil-doings of Pisachas, Sage Kasypa explained to him the role of Nkumbha, the noble lord of Pischas appointed by Kubera to keep Pisachas in check. The Sage Kasyapa discussed with Nila the compromise, whereby Pischas would live for six months in the Valley. Nilmat assigns two explanations for the Valley being named as Kashmir. Kasyapa played an instrumental role in reclaiming Valley land, while Balarama took out the water through the plough-wielder. Kasypa is also called Prajapati. Both Prajapati as well as water are called Ka. Source of Vyeth (Vitasta, Jehlum, Hydspes): Veshau, the ancient Visoka, which later on turns into Vitasta, receives streams coming from the northern slope of the Pir Panjal range between Sedau and Banihal passes. Its traditional source is placed in the Kramasaras or Konsarnag. This is the third aspect of veneration for this lake. Visoka, means griefless (free from pain). Traveller GT Vigne crudely describes it as meaning as river of Visnu. Nilmat describes Visoka as Uma. Later, after worshipping Lakshmi to purify Kashmir Veshan was glorified as Visoka. The fine waterfall which is formed by the stream of Konsarnag, not far from the village of Sedau, is known as Ahrbal. In Nilmat times it was called Akhor bila, ‘the mouse-hole’. Aharbal is its present name. Abul Fazl, a minister at Emperor Akbar’s court,in his ‘The AINI Akbari’ describes Veshau as “the name of a stream which issues picturesquely from an orifice in a mountain and at the same place is a declivity down which the waters tumble from a height of 20 yards with a thundering roar”. Abul Fazl (16th century) and GT vigne (1834) have documented sanctity of Aharbal. Abul Fazl writes,” Hindu devotees throw themselves down from its summit and with utmost fortitude sacrifice their lives, in the belief that it is a means of securing their spiritual welfare”. GT Vigne says, “Arabul (Aharbal) is a place of peculiar sanctity with the Hindus and as such, is frequently visited by them, though perhaps less now than formerly, before the prosperity of the Valley was on the wane, and the precipice overhanging its flood has been upon several occasions the last resting place for the feet of the Hindu suicide.” Little is known about how Kramasaras lake came to be called Konsarnag. Since this lake is also the abode of the Naga Kaundinya, the place became famous by the name Kaundinyasara. There is strong probability that Kaun(dinya)sara over a period of time came to be called as Kons’rNag. GT vigne, however, attributes the change of nomenclature to Islamic influence. He says,” As…it is pronounced Kauser Nag it may be inferred that the Musalmans have, on account of its extent and height, given it the name of Kaunser, or Kautser, one of the rivers of paradise, whose waters, whiter than milk or more odoriferous than musk, roll into the fish-pool, a month’s journey in circumference, and by which the righteous are refreshed after passing the bridge of Al Sirat”. Interestingly, Vigne describes the lake as Kosah Nag. There is also a village named Konsarbal below  Nandimarg. The spring in this village is also called Konsarbal. Kashmiri Pandits and Gujar/Bakarwals hold the lake in great veneration. As per folklore of Kashmiris Pandits of village Avil, which forms one of the base camps for trek to Konsarnag, the lake Visnupad has its four toes (signifying 4 rivers) towards Punjab and heel towards Kashmir (one river). How such an important pilgrimage was abandoned by Kashmiri Pandits over the past few centuries remains unclear. Gujar/Bakarwals of Rajouri usually come with their flock of cattle in the last week of May, when the entire region is covered with a thick blanket of snow. They camp on the banks of the lake in stone shelters and usually slaughter a sheep. Its head is thrown into the lake and the roasted meats on stone plates is served to people. If the head sinks, only then they move ahead. There are three versions of Naubandhana Mahatmya (43, 85, 86, Stein Collection). As per Naubandhana Mahatmya, the pilgrimage used to take place on Bhadon Shuklapaksha Ekadashi. It asks the pilgrims to do Tarpan in the lake to get rid of sins. On the day of Dadshi one has to take bath at Sangam and conduct tarpan for Saints/Pityrs and offer gifts. Then pilgrims have darsana of peaks, which as per belief assure a place in heaven. Performing sraddha is considered quite good because as per mahatmya, God is present here. Journey: Naubhandana Tirtha is located in Kulgam tehsil. One can reach Konsarnag lake by either of the two routes-Avil or via Aharbal. Avil (old name, Awal) was in olden times ruled by a Kotraj (local chief), who controlled the territory from Damhal Hanjipora to Aharbal. Discovery of ancient pottery, pitchers, pestels etc in the area indicates that the region had human settlement from very early times. As per local lore, the flourishing town of Awal vanished following a devastating earthquake. An old Persian inscription on a grave reveals that Shah Behram ruled Awal during late medieval period. Prior to migration, the village had 25 Pandit families. Except for one family all are Rainas. The grandfather of Mansa Ram Raina, who hailed from Rainawari, had come to Avil during later half of Afghan rule. Sahaz Ram Raina, who lived in 19th century was a an ascetic of great merit. There is a small spring named Thaal Nagin in Avil’s Pandit mohalla. During old times, as per a legendary account, plates (Thalis) would come out of spring whenever any request was made. The water of Thalnagin is ice-cold in summer and warm in winter. Avil to Konsarnag: A gradual ascent through a forest for over an hour leads to Naribal, the last inhabited village, where Gujjars live. The village is also called Naribal Nagin due to the presence of a small spring. Water collected here is then resupplied to Avil village by PHE department. After climbing some distance one reaches AalascharMar. Pilgrims/Trekkers do not take rest here. It is said if a person stops here he won’t be able to go ahead then. People while passing through this place usually deposit a stick or a wooden piece for safe journey onwards. While descending down from Alachmar to the other side there are two tracks. The track on the right side leads to Chirun Bul. The elevated plain is called Astan Marg. The encounter between Sikhs and Pathans took place here in 1819. The Chirunbul meadow is one km. long. Kashmiri shepherds are seen here. After walking some distance, Chirunbul nullah  (Vigne’s Shurji-Murg river) is crossed on a seasonal log bridge. Gradual ascent for 3 kms through forests leads to Manzipal (Henna stone). There used to be a seasonal watermill and a shop, run by a Pandit family. There are two big memorial stones here-Danyagon (Paddy heap) and Makaigon (Maize heap). Locals as usual attribute these stones to Pandavs. There is also a small spring here named Pari Nagin, the fairy spring. Locals do not venture to visit this area in late evenings and claim that fairies descend to sing in late hours. It is an uphill journey for another two hours through the forest to reach an alpine sloppy meadow called Lahanpathri. Lot of Kashmiri shepherds are seen here in summer months. One can stay for the night at Lahanpathri and avail the hospitality of shepherds or return to Manzipal base camp. Indersar : Indersar lake is 2 kms  from Lahanpathri. God Indra who figures in Konsarnag mythology is associated with this lake. Unlike Ksirsar and Brahmsar, this lake finds no mention in Nilmat or Naubandhana mahatmya. Lake is circular in shape, about 1 km in circumference. Since the mountain peaks are little away, pilgrims can easily do circumambulation of the lake. Lake water is warm as sunlight falls regularly on this lake. How the water from Indersar escapes is not known. Apparently there is no outlet. From Indersar one has to come back to Lahanpathri and then gradually descend through a tree-less area. Chittinadi, coming from Ksirsar lake is crossed over a logbridge and at times one can simply wade through the gushing stream. After crossing Chittinadi, there is gradual ascent along the base of the peaks to Ksirsar. The distance is over 4 kms.

Ksirsar: Ksirsar is spread over thirty kanals. Though circular in shape, it has numerous podia-like elongations. The lake has a clear outlet for water. Its water is milky-white. Since the peaks are too close, no circumambulation of the lake is possible. It is said that there is a big memorial stone of cow. Water oozing out from the glaciers on the peaks falls on the cow and then comes out through teats into the lake. The lake has a clear outlet for its waters. Ksirsar finds mention in Nilmat and Naubhandana mahatmya. The latter describes Ksirsar as resembling a full-moon of Purnima, with its water looking like Ksir. It refers to Upmanu’s asrama here. As per Naubhandna Mahatmya, the lake was created by Sankara himself and one reaches Shivlok by taking bath in it. Nilmat says,” one attains heaven and saves one’s family by seeing the sacrificial place of Brahma there. By seeing there the beautiful Ksirsara, one is released from sins. By bathing on the dark 14th after reaching the source of the Samara (? Chittinadi), one is freed from all the sins and is honoured in the world of Rudra”. Naubhandana Mahtmaya says Upmanu’s asrama is situated in the forest around Ksirsar. Bath in Brahmsar lake, as per Naubhandna mahatmya, has the merit of getting access to Brahmlok. For Brahmsar lake base camp is Hakwas. It can be approached from Lahanpather, Manzipal or Chiryun Bal. The route to Hakwas from Lahanpather and Manzipal is through a dense forest called Hapatnar. It is 4 hours easy journey from Lahanpathri to Hakwas.Frmo Avil to Hakwas it is 17 kms. Hakwas is a big meadow, almost equalling lovely meadow of Kongwattan.  Above Hakwas is another meadow, known to the people of the area as Gokul Marg, the meadow of Lord Krishna. A nullah hakwas nullah’ flows around Hakwas.

Brahmsar: While going from Chiryunbal to Hakwas, a bridge is crossed near Hera (upper) Chiryun bal. Then one has to climb gradually a distance of 8 kms (3 hrs), at places over old snow, to reach Brahmsar Lake. Kashmiri shepherds have their camps here in summer. Peaks are quite close to the lake. with little sunshine falling on it. Lake is covered on three sides and its water looks black due to the shadow of the peaks falling on it. Ice-flakes are also seen floating on the lake. The lake has a fearful look. Since the peaks are too close, there is strong echo. People get a feel of hearing ‘heavenly’ sounds. These sounds are attributed to aboriginal prehistoric people-Nagas, Pisachas and Kinnaras. The water of the lake comes out through a regular outlet. Pilgrims desirous of taking bath do not venture to go into the lake. They take out water for bath from the lake at its outlet. Brahmsar lake is spread over 15 kanals. The path from Brahmsar to Konsarnag is via Ksirsar and Indersar and is quite tough. It takes two hours. Only shepherds and Bakarwals take this route. Brahmsar stream is the first to join Hakwas nullah. At this spot is a bridge. Then the latter is joined first by Ksirsar nullah and later Indersar stream near Hera Chiryunbal. Subsequently, the Kaundinya stream (Konsarnag stream) joins it at Sangam. After this, a small stream coming from Ramkansan (opposite to Kongwattan, joins it and it becomes Veshav (ancient Visoka). Near Ramkansan is a sandy meadow, Sekijan , where Galwans are seen camping. The place where Kaundinya stream is joined by other streams is called Dhaumysrama. As per Nilmat taking bath here is equal to performing Rajasuya, and Vajpeya, the merit of giving one thousand cows. Just below the sangam, as per Naubhandna mahatmya is a fearful spring called Gambhir spring, right in the middle of the stream. To propaliate it, ‘Prasad’ of stream water is prepared. Kaundinya stream is formed by the confluence of two streams, one coming from the lake (though no visible outlet is seen) and the second as per Naubhandana Mahtmaya, Kumaradara Mool Waters. It is a sacred stream and the merit of taking bath here is equal to performing Pundarika. Bath in Chittinadi of Ksirsar gives the merit (gift of) a hundred cows. Mandakini stream mentioned in Nilmat in the vicinity of Konsarnag Lake has not been identified. Veshav means devoid of pain or griefless. Nilmat (versa 1329) says, “A man becomes devoid of grief and possessed of wealth, by taking bath in the Visoka and obtains the holy mefit of (performing) Devasattra”. Aharbal to Konsarnag: It is 48 kms by road from Srinagar to Shopian and then another 13 kms to Aharbal. The latter is 28 kms  from Kulgam. Avil, Damhal Hanjipora, and Manzgam are better-known villages on Shopian-Aharbal route. As already described Avil forms base camp for trek to Brahmsar, Indersar and Ksirsar lakes. There is a well-known Ganesh asthapan, named Mahabal on right bank where Danavkandi Marg nullah joins Veshau. Kashmiri Pandits of the neighbouring villages used to take turmeric-laced rice on Navreh the new year day of Kashmiri Pandits. Archeological remains seen here point towards the antiquity of the place. At Ahrabal, the river Veshau falls some 25 ft over a precipice. Vigne who visited the place in December 1834 while on way to Konsarnag writes, “In spring the rush of the water is tremendous; but the beauty of the place is not owing to its volume or the height of its fall, which does not exceed 25 feet, but to its dark, deep and precipitous sides, the thick pine forest that surrounds it and the relief that is afforded by the snows of the Pir Panjal, that rise majestically behind it.” CMs school teacher Nand Lal Bakaya, who became a legend in his lifetime for extraordinary skills in adventourous trekking, writes about Aharbal fall: “(it) is a wonderful sight, especially in the morning or at noon when the rays of the sun breaking on the spray form rainbows. The fall is best seen from the right bank”. Ahrabal to Kongawatan: The path to Kongwatan passes through forests on the right bank of river Veshau. Guruatan is 1 km away from Aharbal Galwans are seen roaming around. A bridge has to be crossed at Guruwatan for onward journey. A track here leads to Hurapur, Sedau. On the right bank of Veshau is seen a huge stone, named Pandav dul. It looks as if a big pestel has been turned upside down. Its inner side is polished. After another 4 kms we reach Sangam, where Hakwas nullah alongwith streams from other lakes joins Kaundinya stream. At Sangam the left track leads to Kongwatan, while the right road goes to Ramakansan/Sekijan. A minihydroelectric station is coming up near Sangam at a place called Chori Kholu.  A wooden bridge has to be crossed at Sangam on way to Kongwatan. A leisurely walk for another 4 kms (1« hr) takes one to Kongwatan.

Kongwatan to Konsarnag :Kongwatan is one of the finest meadows surrounded by pines and firs. Mr Ghulam Nabi Gohar has immortalized this meadow, in his Kashmiri novel. There is a small Forest Rest House here. From Kongwatan we come to a place called Adangi while walking along the right bank of Veshau. A 4-km leisurely walk takes to Mahinag. There is a small spring here. It is believed that water of Konsarnag oozes out at Mahinag.  Mahinag spring, spread over half a kanal, is circular in outline and has no old masonary. There used to be an old forest hut here. It was damaged by heavy snowfall and does not exist any longer. A dangerous glacier bridge has to be crossed some distance away. After crossing the bouldered bed of a river one reaches Satpukhrin. Seven small nullahas are seen here. Then there is ascent of 1000 ft to reach the pass overlooking the Konsarnag lake. Similar height is to be descended down to reach the lake. The journey takes 5 to 6 hours. Across the lake is a beautiful pass, called by Bakarwals as Konsargali. In Vigne’s time it was known by the name of Futi Panjal or the Ridge of victory. On the left the pass leads to Rajouri and Budhal via Ropri pass, while the right track goes to Gool and Riasi via Nalla Shergadi. It is just 4 hurs trek to Gool from Konsarnag. This pass remains snow bound even as late as early August.

Vigne’s account:

Vigue visited Konsarnag in the beginning of December.Snow which had fallen a month before the usual time had disappeared under the rays of sun. About the exit of lake waters Vigne writes,”…on its left bank…its full strong torrent is suddenly seen gushing out from the foot of the last and lofty eminence that forms the dam on the western end of the lake, whose waters thus find an exit, not over but through the rocky barrier with which it is surrounded”. Locals believe Konsarnag to be the origin of Thanna and Rajawur river also. Height of the lake is 12,000 ft. When the water in lake is low (as in December) it does not exceed 3/4ths of a mile, while its breadth is 500 to 600 yards. The position of the lake is same as that of the Valley, north-west and south-east. The peaks which are on the eastern side care called the Koserin Kutur and are the highest in the Pir Panjal. The peaks are remarkably pointed, sides are bare and scarped. About the formation of the lake Valley, Vigne says,”…to all appearance the Valley of the lake has been formed by the forcible separation of the mountain-top. Judging from the angle at which they enter the lake, the bottom must originally have been about 200 feet in depth below the present level of water”. As per Vigne Bernier’s description of the great lake ejecting fine sands possibly refers to Konsarnag. Bernier says that icebergs are driven by the wind in the spring. When vigne visited it a thin sheet of ice had covered the lake in particular places. He says that the mountain-gusts may sometimes be rushing through the gully at the southern end of the lake, and sweep across its surface with terrific violence. Vigne also recounts the local lore about this mountain tarn. At the western end the trap-rock descends to the water in a succession of steps or benches. The three steps are claimed to be those of Raja, Vizier and his Sardars. About the veneration of local Hindus for this lake, vigne says that they occasionally pay a visit for the purpose of ablution. A local Pandit who accompanied him used to visit the lake annually for performing his ablutions. Vigne refers to an incident in which a young man was confronted by a demon/deyu while he was standing on a rock, a short distance from the rock. The demon was not allowing the young man to move. As the latter was encouraged to move, the demon “seized” and drowned him.

Sultan Zain-ul-Abdin’s visit: Sultan Zain-ul-Abdin, the benevolent monarch of Kashmir visited Konsarnag lake in 1463 AD. He was so fascinated by the lake that he constructed its replica ‘Zainasara’ within Pampore, so that every Kashmiri could have a feel of what great wonder was Konsarnag lake. Budshah (the Great King), as Sultan Zain-ul-Abdin was called by Kashmiris, visited the lake in the company of Srivara, the chronicler and Sinha bhatta and was accompanied by his two sons, Haji and Behram. In Budshah’s time Naubandhana pilgrimage was quite popular. Srivara has given graphic description of King’s visit. It took them three days to reach the lake. First he went to Vijayeswara (Bijbehara) and watched enthralling dramatic performance, to which neigthbouring chieftains too had been invited. From Vijayeswara the Sultan went on foot. Srivara recorded the visit of Budshah for posterity in these words: The Sultan possessing charming devotion on seeing the Konsarnag stamped with the image of the foot of Lord Visnu derived untold bliss by making an obeisance at the foot of Naubandhana mountain (verse 96). Having observed non-stop and plentiful streams coming down the mountain with a darkish hue of musk coloured flowers afforded immense pleasure to the tallest Sultan (likening it) to the body of Hari (Visnu) dressed as a Yogi (verse 98). The Sultan boarded a boat, lined by five boatmen and taking me (Srivara) and Sinha Bhatta, roamed in the deeps of the lake. I (Srivara) recited songs from Gita-Govinda to him and Sultan derived great aesthetic pleasure from it. While roaming in the lake, it began to snow. The Sultan made three rounds around the lake. Sultan after strolls in the lake tied his boat there true to old tradition. King kept remembering the ‘ever-young’ Konsarnag lake upto Kumara. (The author is well known researcher on Kashmir Culture and history. He has authorred painting and  theatre in Kashmir Suraj Tickoo’s Journey)

 

 

 

please check the video for details of Kausarnag/vishnupad

From Kalhans Rajatarangini, The Translator M.A.Stein, in the chapter-Ancient Geography of Kashmir-section-2(the pir panjal range) has written as follows about Kausarnag:

Proceeding westward from Banhal we come to a group of three snowy peaks reaching above 15000 feet.With their bold Pyramidal summits they form conspicuous objects in the panorama of the range as seen from the valley.Kashmir tradition locates on them the seats from which Vishnu, Siva and Brahman according to the legend already related, fought jalodbhava and desiccated the satisaras.The westernmost and the highest of these peaks(15523 feet) forms the famous NAUBANDHA Tirtha.According to the legend related in the Nilmata and other texts and connected with the Indian deluge story, Vishnu in his fish Avatara had bound to this peak the ship(nau) into which Durga had converted herself to save the seeds of the beings from destruction.At the foot of this peak and to the north-west of it, lies a mountain lake over two miles long, known now as kausarnag, the Kramasaras or Kramasara of the Nilmat and Mahatmayas.It is supposed to mark a footstep(krama) of Vishnu and is the proper object of Naubandhana pilgrimage..

tragedy and humour of being a KP

March 2003.It was a sunny bright day. My Enfield-Bullet bike was in a dire need of a proper service. I took my bike to the local mechanic-Akram in Ghaziabad. As he was inspecting my Bike, an Ambassador car halted in front of me. The glass windows of the car rolled down. I saw an elderly Sikh in an orange dress. He called on me , “ where is this Agarsen Chowk?”.I came closer to the car, gesticulated, and said, “ turn straight and then turn right from the first crossing.” “What is your name?” The turbaned old man asked me abruptly. “My name is sandeep Koul” said I. “Oh! You are a Kashmiri Pandit! Come in my car.” He said excitedly. I was irked by what he said. I hardly knew him and here he was, urging me to accompany him. It looked as if he read my face. He pulled the wallet from his coat, opened it, looked for something and finally picked a card which he handed over to me. “Here! Take my card. My name is B.L.Sharma- “prem”. I am a former MP from BJP.”I looked at the card in my hand. It was white and green in colour and had an emblem of four lions(as seen in Indian currency coins) at the top. The name written on it was indeed B.L.Sharma “prem”(Member of parliament).

I was exited now. For the first time, I was face-to-face speaking to an M.P. with alacrity, I sat besides him in his ambassador. “We have a rally today at Ghaziabad. It seems our local team of Ghaziabad and I are talking on different tracks. There is some miscommunication and we are not able to track each other. Though, they are somewhere nearby. You please talk to them, since you know this place”, he said to me. He dialed some number from his mobile and handed over the phone to me. The voice from the other side in a gushed tone said, “ Sharmaji, where are you?” I answered back, “I am sandeep. We are on NH-24, Near Rahul Vihar. The person on the other side said, “You wait there. we will reach there within 5 minutes.”

Sharmaji told me briefly about his life, his family and his mission. The 1947 partition. He told me that to protect the Hindus, he has embraced Sikhism. At that time, the chief-minister of J&K was Mr.Gulam nabi Azad. He also expressed his views on Him, Hindus of Jammu and as well as Kashmiri Pandits. Soon, his local team traced us.

The local-team were all motor-cyclists. There were at least 20 motor bikes. Each bike carrying two persons. Many of them had Swords in their hands, which they waved at us and at each other with enthusiasm .A person came close to the window of our car. He said to Sharmaji, “Please follow us. we are nearby to the venue of the program. Sharmaji nodded his head in approval and said, “Alright. By the way he is Sandeep koulji. He is an uprooted hindu from Kashmir”, as he pointed towards me. The person’s faced beamed with glee as he said, “ Sandeeji, welcome. you please attend our program.”I did not wanted to attend, as politics was not my cup of tea. But on the behest of Sharmaji, I agreed.

Soon, we reached “Agarsen-chowk”-our venue. Hundreds of supporters had already gathered there. As the crowd saw us, they raised their hands in the air and chanted loud, “Jai shri Ram”, “Bharat Mata ki jai”.I alighted from the car. Sharmaji too followed me. With folded hands(namaskar), he greeted the crowd. Many people rushed towards him and touched his feet in reverence. Many people mistook me for some leader and touched my feet too. Sharmaji was used to this treatment but I was not. I was blushing, feeling embarrassed. I tried to gently push away the crowd, touching my feet.

Sharmaji went up to the podium. I sat down on a chair. But the associates of Sharmaji insisted me to sit on the podium alongside Sharmaji. Before the actual program started, An announcer announced about the program. He spoke about many issues pertaining to Hindus. At last he said, “Today, a special guest has come with Sharmaji .A kashmiri pandit refugee from Kashmir.I request my colleagues to felicitate both of them.”A line of his associates garlanded Sharmaji and me. Though, I had started enjoying the attention, But, Clearly I was not prepared for this impromptu.

Soon, Many speakers spoke in length about the infiltration on the Hindu culture. Examples were cited from the history. Many tales of the 1947 genocide were told poignantly. The mass-exodus of Kashmiri pundits was also cited. “See, how pathetic, the lives of Kashmiri Pandits have become. You can ask our Kashmiri pandit brother here. ”a speaker said. And everybody spoke about Kashmiri Hindus .Each time, Kashmiri Hindus were spoken of, a finger was pointed towards me. Frankly speaking, I was feeling as if I am a culprit.

A member of the organizing team came up to me and said in a low-voice, “you too say something. It will have a very good impact on the listeners.” Their- pointing- fingers –at- me had already made me feel guilty. An object that is loathsome-yet important(this holds true even today). So, I humbly turned down his offer. I went up to Sharmaji and took his permission to leave. He told me to be in touch with him and gave me his mobile number.

I was in touch with him for some time. He even introduced me to some people. Out of those people, I am still in touch with few , even today. I somehow lost the number of Sharmaji some years back. But, whenever, I recall that incident, I end up with a Grin. And I am reminded that indeed, “Tragedy is the biggest comedy.”

Saving my Rakhi Brother-2nd and last part

Soon after Ashok and his family left for Jammu, many more Kashmiri Pandits followed their footsteps. By the Mid-spring most of my KP neighbors had left for an alien land. “Raina’s” and “Dhar’s” had gone, so had “Saproo’s” , “Tickoo’s” and “Bhat’s”.My family and the “saraf’s” were the only KP family left in our neighborhood. Most of the time I and my family members were confined indoors because of the activities of the militants and also because Army was patrolling our area almost 24*7. The peal of the neighborhood temple Bell too was silent.

Hamida was still visiting me, though not that frequently. Her wits were still alive, but I could feel something amiss in her normal behavior. One fine day, I asked her , “Hamida, from last few days, I am feeling as if you are not your usual self. Is everything O.k?” She nodded her head in disapproval and said, “Nothing! I am just fine.”, and looked straight in my eyes. Then something happened. She held my hand and pulled me up from the Sofa. “come to the next room, I want to tell you something” she said. Ever since she had told me about the incidence of Ashok; I took every word of her seriously. And then she whispered, “Everything is not fine Didda, things are becoming worse and I doubt It will get only worst. Shabbir, my brother, has advised me not to meet you or any other KP for that matter.” I asked, “But why?”. “Read between the lines, Didda. You are my dear friend and I don’t want anybody to harm you or your family. I think you too should move out of the valley for the time being” said she in a pensive mood. And she left immediately after that. I never saw her after that.

I had to get curd from the “Ismail goor”(Ismail-the milkman).His shop was hardly 100 meters away from my house. I was thinking about my last interaction with Hamida. It was around noon. Ismail’s son Khalid was rolling down the shutters of his shop. I said to him, “ Don’t roll down the shutters, first give me half a Kg of curd.”He said in a rude tone, “Didda, go back to your home quickly.”And looked at me. His looks were threatening. I almost ran back to my house.I was angry at Khalid. My late father had taught him to read and write. He had given him free tuitions and helped him to secure a Govt. Job. He was like a family member to us all. During all these years he had never ever misbehaved with me.

As, I was thinking about the incidence, I heard a loud deafening explosion outside. I ran out to see what happened! I could only see dust and smoke at a distance .My younger brother Ramesh was running from the opposite direction. He held my hand firmly and almost dragged me back to our house. Without my asking, he said, “A bomb exploded just near “Ismail Goor’s” Shop. I was bewildered and scared.

By the evening, everything was normal. I still hadn’t bought curd. I was someone, who would not eat a meal without curd. I went again to the shop of Ismail. The shutters were still down. I decided to go to Ismail’s house and get the curd. His house was just 50 meters away from my house and I had gone there “N” number of times. He had a cowshed at the ground floor of his house and I directly went inside the shed. I shouted “Khalid, Ismailsaab, are you there?”. Khalid quickly came from nowhere. Anger was written all over his face. He pushed me back as he said, “ you mad girl ! what are you doing here. Get out of here.” Even during this commotion, I clearly saw at least 6 strange faces, ducked in between the bovines. It looked as if they were in a hiding. I came back disappointed. During night, I could not sleep for a long time. I was thinking about Hamida, Khalid and the bomb blast.

It was a moonlit night. And Sleep was still miles away. I opened the window of my room .My room was on the first floor and the windows opened towards the compound. The compound was flanked on two sides by our neighbor’s houses . There was an eight foot high by two feet wide wall securing our compound just opposite my room. The roof of compound wall was covered with slanting tin sheets, so that the snow will not accumulate on the top and will fall down smoothly. A cool breeze was blowing outside. The moon looked stunning. I was about to close the window when an image appeared behind the compound wall. I was scared. I hid myself, but I was still peeping outside the window. He was standing on the wall. I could see him clearly. He was a tall guy about 6 feet. He looked more like an Afgani than a Kashmiri. He was talking to someone on the other side of the wall, whom I could not see. I could hear him clearly . He was speaking Afgani or pushto or any other language but Kashmiri. I was scared to death and was sure that they had come to kidnap me.

Suddenly, someone started stoning my house as well as the compound wall. The sound was piercing the silence of the night and was enough to jolt the whole neighborhood and wake them up from their deep sleep. The stoning also alerted the army men outside the street. I could hear the trample of the boots of the armymen. The intruder too got confused and jumped back to the street. I had a sigh of relief.

Next morning, as I was passing by the shop of “Ismail Goor”, I spotted Khalid sitting in his shop. I was angry at him and tried to ignore him. “Didda, come here”, he said. Though I wanted to avoid him, but I still went up to him. He spoke to me in a cautious low voice. “I have been trying to caution you and your family. I cautioned you before the bomb explosion. I wanted you to go out of the cow-shed yesterday as they(militants) were hiding there and could have harmed you. And It was I Didda who stoned your house yesterday to raise an alarm against those Afganis. I am sorry, I could not inform you earlier as I too fear for my and my family’s life. I beg you to leave this place as soon as possible, for your safety and honor. Now leave this place and act as if nothing has happened. You too are under the surveillance of Militants.”I composed my calm, bought my last curd in Kashmir and went back to my house.

I narrated everything to my Brothers and my mother. We all decided to leave ASAP and come back once the things settle. A taxi was arranged by my Brothers. We only took some clothes and some important papers with us. By 7.00p.m we were at Jammu. We went to our Uncle’s place in Talab tiloo, jammu.

23 years have passed by. The return is still elusive. Who would have thought that KP’s as a community will be scattered emotionally and physically all over the Globe. Who would have thought, the alien land will become so familiar that our own motherland Kashmir will look like an stranger to us. But It has happened.

somebody has rightly said “Truth is stranger than fiction”….

Narrated by-Mrs. Seema Kaul(Didda)

“Take my Kangir..”

My friend Raj was/is an extravert. One day, late evening, in the month of Dec 1988, we went to meet our friend at “Karapora Khuski”, Rainawari. we were both wearing our winter dress i.e woolens and a “Pheran” minus “the Kangir(firepot used for the warmth in winters and usually tucked under the Kashmiri long coat “Pheran”)”. We were accosted by our friend Rehman on our way. And the conversation started. Rehman was an ardent fan of Pakistan and Pakistani cricket team. we were the aficionados of Indian Cricket team and core Indians by heart. Raj was an eloquent speaker with a stentorian voice and a master of twisting the words. He would usually win all the debates with his reasoning as well as his oratory.

The conversation started with the military power of India and Pakistan. Rehman emphatically said, “India is no match for Pakistan and can win a war anytime.” Raj retorted “That is why Pakistan lost all the wars with India”. Rehman replied,” Pakistan lost because USA supplied spurious ammunition to Pakistan. They backstabbed Pakistan.” Raj said, “C’mon, don’t fool yourself, Pakistan can not even manufacture a needle, And you are talking about Guns and Bombs. India is far ahead of Pakistan in terms of technology.”Rehman was fumbling for words and reasons. And he was visibly upset.

It was too cold , Raj casually asked Rehman if he could lend him his “Kangir” for the warmth, for some time .Rehman said with a tone of irritation ,” No, Why should I give you! Get your own Kangir- you Bhatta”. In the meanwhile, another friend Vikas joined our conversation. He said cheerfully to all of us,” Hello friends! What is up?” Rehman replied, “just usual”.

Raj nudged me in the ribs. I looked at him. He said to me in a whisper, “ See, how Rehman will share his Kangir with me, without my asking.”And he rejoined the conversation.

To get the attention of everyone Raj said loudly, “ One thing is sure, India will not be able to defeat Pakistan in the cricket match”. Rehman’s facial expressions changed suddenly from the gloomy to that of an exuberant guy. He said, “Raj you are absolutely right. Imran Khan is the best bowler and Javed miandad is the best Batsman of the world. The psyche of the entire Indian team shakes with fear whenever they hear of Pakistan. The ghost of the last ball sixer of Miandad will ever haunt the Indian cricket team.” Raj quickly said, “ you forgot Wasim Akram. His ball moves faster than a bullet. And just look at the personality of the Pakistani cricketers. Indian girls are crazy about them. Reena roy left the film industry for the sake of getting married to Mohsin Khan. They are the best.”

Rehman was on cloud nine. And suddenly he said to Raj ebulliently, “Brother, here, take my Kangir. Do you want something to eat.” Raj took the “Kangir” and tucked it under his Pheran. He winked at me. I too could not hold my smile.

Upayas(means) in Trikha Philosophy(Kashmir Shaivism)

There are three upayas(means to get Grace/state of shiva) given in Kashmir Shaivism. They are:
1.Sambhavopaya (supreme means)
2.Saktopaya(medium means)
3.Anavopaya(inferior means)

There is another upaya known as Anupaya(no-means)-which is only meant for self-realized masters.

The concept of Moksha in Kashmir Shaivism is different from Advaith vendantis. For vedantis,the state of Shiva is sat, chit and Anand(All-truth,all consciousness,Bliss).Kashmir Shaivism argues that Shiva is already sat(truth) and there is no doubt in it. Instead, for Kashmir shaivism followers, The state of Shiva is Chit(all-consciousness),Ananad(Bliss),Iccha(rise of desire due to Shiv-Iccha),Gyan(knowledge) and Kriya(action).Sambhavopaya is Iccha(shiv-Iccha),Saktopaya is Gyan(Knowledge or means) and Anavopaya is Kriya(action).Iccha,Gyan and Kriya has been explained in detail in Kashmir Shaivism.

1.Sambhavopaya:
The state where thoughtlessness is maintained by the grace of master. A transcendental state of consciousness wherein the highly realized soul finds that whole universe has come out from sentences, sentences from words, words from letters and letters from that real “I” which is param shiva. The yogi finds that this whole universe is reflected in his own consciousness and that it is reflected from within rather than from without.
In sambhavopaya there are no means to travel upon. It is the meant. There is no where to go. The masters grace is of utmost importance in this upaya. Sambhavopaya functions in Matrikachakra(the world of alphabets,words and sentences),Pratyahara(withdraw of senses) and pratibimbavada (theory of reflection of shiva in 36 elements from shiva tattva to prithvi tatva).It is said that a Yogi in the Sambhavopaya state shines like the midday sun for the whole universe. Sambhavopaya is also called icchopaya.

2.Saktopaya:
Saktopaya is also called Gyanopaya. It is functioned by the means of energies as it is the means which originates from Gyan Sakti(energy of knowledge).In this upaya, the yogi does not have to recite mantras or be aware using his breath or concentrate on any particular spot. He has only to see and concentrate on that supreme being that is found in two actions without action. This is called centering in “Vigyana Bhairava Tantra”.
In Saktopaya centering can be practiced between any and all actions and or thoughts. In centering, the yogi must develop great velocity of awareness(firmness of awareness).There must be continuity in the cycle of yogi’s awareness. The yogi can center between any two thoughts or any two movements, between one thought and another thought, between waking and dreaming, between one step and the next step, between one breath and next breath. The saktopaya yogi must simply insert beakless awareness in the center of any two actions or thoughts. If this awareness is faulty and is not beakless then he falls and enters into the lowest upaya i.e anavopaya.
In this upaya the yogi must make himself capable of receiving Master’s grace.

3.Anavopaya:
Anavopaya is concerned with anu(individual soul).It is that upaya(means) which is functioned by the process of concentrating on uccara(breathing),Karana(organs of sensation),Dhyana(contemplation), and sthana pralkalpana(concentrating on some particular place).Anavopaya is also known as Kriyopaya.
Concentration on the breath is the essential element of the practice of cakrodaya. In practicing cakrodaya, one has to continue breathing deeply and find out the point, the center between the two breaths, the incoming and the outgoing breath. In cakrodaya the beginning points and ending points of the span of the breath are predominant. This is uccara , concentration on the breath .It can either be with sound or without sound.
Concentration on karana means having and maintaining one pointedness through vision or through any sense organ. It can be through vision or sound or any other sense organ.
Dhyana(contemplation ) is another mode of anavopaya. Dhyava is contemplation on some point. There are different forms of dhyana, like contemplating on heart, or on the meaning of some mantra(such as soham,aham or siva).contemplating on object is lower form of this upaya and concentrating on mantra is higher form as it is contemplation without any shape or form.
Sthana Prakalpana means concentration on some particular place. The higher form of sthana prakalpana, which is a practice of higher anavopaya,is that practice where one has to find out where each aspect of reality is found in the span of the breath. One has to see where the Devas and Lokpalas are residing, where is the location of Dawn and morning, the location of midday, sunset and midnight. Location and time when the Sun moves towards northern side and southern side. These are all Sthana Prakalpana, and these are the particular points, one has to concentrate on, to discover in the course of ones breath. The practice of Sthana Prakalpana is to see the vastness of this universe in one breath. The second and the lower from of Sthana Prakalpana, which is lower from of anavopaya is where one concentrate on different points in the body. These particular places for concentration are divided into three. One particular place for concentration is between the two eyebrows(bhrumadhya).The second place for concentration is the pit of the throat(Kantha kupa), and the third place of concentration is the heart(Hridaya).

In avavopaya the strength of one’s awareness is such that one has to take the support of everything as an aid to maintain and strengthen one’s awareness. In Saktopaya one begin with the center and then become established in that center. In sambhavopaya the strength of awareness is such that no support is needed, One is already residing in the meant.
It is important to realize that though there are different upayas, yet all these upayas lead one to the state of one’s transcendental consciousness. The difference in these upayas is that anavopaya will carry one in a long way, Saktopaya in a shorter way and Sambhavopaya in the shortest way. Although the ways are different, the point to be achieved is one…

source:Kashmir Shaivism-the secret supreme(by Swami Laksman joo)
siva-sutras-the supreme awakening(By swami lakshmanjoo)

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

[ written by Dr Satish Ganjoo]

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

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

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

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

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

“Bharat Kay Aiwanu Ko
Aag Lagado, Aag Lagado”

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

Anugraha(Grace)/Shaktipata-Kashmir Shaivism

According to Kashmir Shaivism Anugraha(grace and Shaktipata takes place in nine ways:

1.tivrativra Shaktipata(Super Supreme Grace)
One attains the true self, real and true nature completely. The Grace is too strong for the body to resist; one has to give up one’s body(Death).He becomes a Master and elevates the hearts of the deserving disciples invisibly. He uplifts the mankind secretly. Once he is satisfied with his work, he submerges with Shiva according to his will .One who attains this form of Grace becomes super supreme Master.

2Tivramadyha Shaktipatha( Supreme medium Grace)
One attains the true and real self; but one does not leave body in this type of grace. One is said to be “Pratiba Guru”-master who is not made by master, but by his self(shiva),by one’s own grace. These masters live in their physical form to uplift the humanity. They are self-initiated masters.
One who is bestowed with this grace enters completely in the trance of Shiva-Shakti(Energy of Shiva).There are five signs in him, that are observed by people;
1.intense love for lord shiva.
2.Whenever he recites any mantra; the devta of the mantra appears before him at once; The fruits of the mantra are realized promptly.
3.control over the five elements.
4.His works are without any defects.
5.He masters all Shastras.

3.Tivramandha Shaktipatha(Supreme low grace)
By this types of Grace one’s mind desires to be at the feet of master. He gets a master who is all-knowing and perfect. There is no difference between his master and lord shiva. The master does not initiate him; but merely put his hand on his head or by just by the mere gaze of his master;. He becomes perfect and enters into transcendental meditation effortlessly at once. He becomes enlightened by the mere touch or look of his master.

4.Madhya tivra Shaktipatha(medium supreme grace)
By this grace one reaches at the feet of Master who is absolutely a perfect master.The disciple is initiated by the master unlike the above cases. The master gives him mantra and the way to tread. One gets enlightened partially; the disciple is not satisfied completely in his physical body. He gets his complete satisfaction after he leaves his body and becomes one with shiva at the time of his death.

5.Madhya Madhya Shaktipata(medium middle grace)
When lord shiva bestows this grace; an intense desire of achieving lord shiva rises in the mind of the disciple. One wants Lord shiva as well as the worldly pleasures and enjoyments of the world. He is initiated by an able master.Though the intensity of his desire is more on attaining the state of shiva,he attains bliss, but he cannot completely overcome his worldy desires . After the death of such a disciple; he enters the kingdom of paradise and enjoys the pleasures to his satisfaction. He does not come back to this mortal world; but is again initiated by the master there and he becomes enlightened and realizes the shiva and merges in him.

6.Madhya mandha Shaktipata(medium low grace)
There is an intense desire for attaining lord shiva as well as the pleasures of the world. He does not attain self-realization completely.After his death he enters the kingdom of paradise and enjoys to his satisfaction. After that he is born again in this mortal world and lives a short life(15-30 yrs).He focuses on lord shiva and devotes his short life to shiva and becomes complete with Shiva.

7.Mandha tivra Shaktipata(inferior supreme grace)
8.Mandha Madya Shaktipata(inferioir medium grace)
9.Mandha Mandha shaktipata(inferior low grace)
For 7,8 and 9 types of grace,one has to take many births, before one attains the state of shiva……