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Ruins of Sun Temple Kashmir

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Asifa Murder-the war of narratives

A young eight year innocent Girl-Asifa is raped and murdered brutally in Jan 2018 in predominantly-Hindu region of J&k. The incident is condemnable and the culprits should be hanged to Death- irrespective of their ethnicity or religion.

What seems to be a case of crime has turned out to be a case of palpable political as well as religious division.A division that has its base on decades of mistrust, political subjugation and dichotomous chauvinism . The truth -it seems is gasping for justice in between the chasms of the asperasions of the people of Jammu region and its political and religious opposite-the Kashmir region.

The notion that the people of other region is here to eat my share of resources, jobs, business as well as identity is so deeply dipped in mistrust and suspicion ,that even a normal innocuous action ,raises many eyebrows and infers meaning according to the mass perspective of the region one belongs to.

And these perspective and opposite narratives are the result of decades old political hegemony that one region wields over the other.

Hence, the general masses of Hindu-Jammu are not wrong in their demand to submit the Asiya-case over to CBI.

This war of narratives has inferred different steps of Govt. with different meanings by the people of two regions, according to their political understanding; which may or may not be true.

But that hardly matters.

What is more important is the belief and the perspectives of the people of jammu-who feel that the accused Sanji Ram and his accomplices have been framed because of being a Hindu. And that is why they want an CBI enquiry into the whole incident.

On the other hand, the general belief of the Muslims of India is that the Girl was raped and murdered because she was a Muslim.

The communists especially from Kerala-who have been pushed to the brink of extinction after Tripura fallout, have left no stone unturned to further fan the sentiments of Muslim for their own political gains. The communists in their propaganda have deprecated the symbols of Hinduism blatantly .To get some more time to -what looks like a definite existential threat-they have moved a step further and have portrayed the incident as casteist and a case of classical Brahminism.
By the way, the main accused of Kathua is a Brahman.

The Hindus of J&K also see a political conspiracy in giving this case to Advocate Deepika Thusso Singh-who is fighting on behalf of the deceased Girl, as well as SSP Romesh Kumar Jalla -who headed the S. I. T and apprehended the accused. They feel that this step has been taken to break the bonhomie between the Kashmir Hindus and Dogras.

With so many conspiracy angles involved in this case; no doubt, it is not going to be easy for the Govt. to bring this case to its logical end. Whatever step they are taking, is being keenly watched by the people of two regions. And since, there is a deep mistrust between the two Regions,

I fear

Even the justice might want to delay itself.

Dhyaneshwar yatra as I remember

Dhyaneshwar Mahadev as I remember..

I have been to Dhyaneshwar Mahadev once in 1987-88.I had gone there with my Father, Brother, Grandmother and a very close friend-Sunil.We took a bus from Srinagar to Bandipura, from there, we traveled to the base of the Mountain, where the Holy shrine is situated.

I don,t remember all the names of the places that came enroute. But, Whatever I remember had an indelible imprint on my mind.

As I ascended from the base, I could see beautiful vistas all around me. The narrow trek that lead us towards the cave passed through the tall trees as well as through thick forest of Deodars .It was already dark, when we had started our Hike. The ascending trek pleteaued near a Hutment of Gurjars. It was a sight to behold. The full Moon, it seemed had covered everything around us in the golden Hue. There was a pleasant nip in the air.

I had with me a camera by the name ‘Hot Shot’. It was a compact camera and was in vogue 3 decades back. Enroute, I shot many pictures with it including that of the Full Moon.

That year some Muslim volunteers too had come to assist and support the Hindu Devotees.
All the devotees had gathered at a house(or Ashram/Dharamsala) which was very close to the cave. Devotees were waiting for their turn to have a Darshan of lord Shiva. Some group/s of Devotees were singing Bhajans. I was too tired to join them, I sat down at the corner of the room and pretended to listen to them. Slowly but steadily, from the sitting position, I stretched my legs straight, and after a while, I further recumbented myself as I could no longer resist sleep.

After few hours, my Grandmother, shook me by my shoulder and woked me up. It was time to enter the cave.

The Muslim volunteers were carrying a torch(lesh in Kashmiri/Mashal in hindi), and lighting the path for their Hindu contemporaries. The Hindu-Muslim bonhomie looked real at that time.

Finally, our turn too came.

I remember, the entrance of the cave was around 6 and a half feet in height;and maybe 5 feet in width. My bare feet had become wet from the frigid brook that comes from inside the cave. The brook starts from-what was known as Shraan kuth of parvati(the palace, from where mother Parvati takes a bath).There is a tunnel that starts from the mouth of the cave that is also the sanctom sanctorum and ends at the entrance of Dhyaneshwar. The shape of the tunnel is tapered(shape of hollow cone), with the wider section at the entrance of the cave. The roof of the cave is rough, with rock icicles hanging at places. I was up-right when I entered the cave; but as I moved further inside the tunnel, it became dark- pitch black dark. A volunteer with a torch was somehow managing to show us the path inside the tunnel. Since, the shape of the tunnel is tapered, first I had to bend my shoulders, then I had to bend my back and eventually I was crawling. The ice-cold water of the brook was getting hard to bear. At the ingress of the cave, It was like an adventure for me; but as I proceeded further, the hanging icicle-type-ceiling and the ice-cold brook, on which I was crawling forced me to chant the name of “Shiva”.I was Chanting aloud,”om namah shivaya”.
It is a very long dark tunnel, may be 100 or 200 mts long; and opens inside another natural cave known as Dhyaneswar. The area is modest inside the cave. It must be 8-9 feet in height,6 feet wide and may be 6 feet in length. . At a time,not more than 10 people can stand inside the cave. There is a natural partition inside the cave.The front part belongs to lord shiva and the rear natural raised part is the place of Parvati. The brook starts from the raised rear part.There is Ganesha and Kartik(not sure) also inside the cave.

One thing is guaranteed-an Atheist will become a believer after visiting this Holy cave. It is a Place, that should be visited at least once.

The only regret pertaining to the Dhyaneshwar pilgrimage is that I could not develop the reel of the camera. When we left for Jammu in Jan 1990, because of terrorism, The camera was left behind with so many other things.

Kashmir Police Radicalized!

It was 9.00 p. m.

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

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

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

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

Yes . it was Kashmir.

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

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

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

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

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

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

All these facts were flashing in my mind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And act fast.

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

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

(Sandeep Raj koul)

Vishnu-The protector

Sri Vishnu is an aspect of supreme consciousness who dwells within animate and inanimate beings of creation and controls our inner recesses of our being by constant source of motivation, judgement and perception. Vishnu literally means “the one who encompasses the world” who controls processes of creation and as an interdweller or Antaryaami and yet is unaccomplished by myriad souls and thus is referred as Para Vasudeva.
Among various names extensively used for Vishnu are Narayana, Hari, Govinda, Madhava, Vasudeva, Janardana, Rama, Krishna, Srinivasa, Narsimha etc.
Vishnu is also referred as Peetambara and his common form famous among devotees is the one where Lord is standing in equipoise and is called as “Samabhangi”. In this form Lords color is of rain bearing clouds which signifies all pervasiveness and having four hands. The upper hand holds conch which symbolizes that he is the eternal communicator and thus his word is the source of creation, discus reveals that Lord annihilates the worlds, whereas lower left hand hold mace implying that he always upholds rule of law and suitably punishes those who create havoc whereas his lower right hand is in Varada Mudra which is shown as holding lotus that bestows boons. He sports garland of attractive flowers strewn with wild flowers and Tulasi. Vishnu has a mark on his chest which is called as “Srivatsa” and is representation of Lakshmi as both of them cannot be separated hence this mark. He is donning a necklace of rare gems called as “Kaustabha” and his head has a towering diadem studded with precious gems.
Vishnu is commonly famous through his Dashaavtaras most venerated among them being Rama, Krishna, Buddha. Subsequently there is a complete school of Vaishnavism who consider Lord as Para Brahama with multitude of other gods and deities as attributes of Vishnu. The Lord has various avtars such as poorna avtars, ansha avtars , avesha avtars , leela avtars and jnana avtars which are acts of Lord to communicate with the worldly beings and impart meaningful lessons to humans. All these forms have different attributes, weapons, appearance’s which extended from time to time.
Vaishnavism is the important cult of followers of Lord and are widely spread in Indian Sub continent. It is important to mention that all the Agamas pertaining to Vishnavism were written in Kashmiri at a place called as Predhuman Peetha which is now known as Hari Parvat. The litanies’ written are Panchratra Agamas totaling around 200 in numbers. All the rituals of Vaishnavism are as per these agamas.
According to Vishnu Puran, Vaikuntha is the abode of Vishnu and is most sacrosanct place which is final refuge to the liberated souls. In Vaikuntha Lord is said to be residing on multi headed serpent also known as Adi Sesha. All other chief deities are in full attendance singing hymns and eulogizing lord through their prayers. The Lord is represented with six qualities of Wisdom (jnana), Sovereignty (Aishwarya), energy (Shakti), strength (Bala), valour (veerya) and luster (Tejas).
The Tulsi plant worship is an important ritualistic aspect of Vaishnavism and is offered to Vishnu besides recitation of Vishnu Saahsranaam. Vishnu is said to reside in a pot where tulsi is grown and is offered daily to Lord.
The important places of veneration in Jammu and Kashmir are Naubandhana Teertha also known as Vishnu Pad or Kaunser Nag in Pulwama, Kashmir besides Varahamulha now known as Baramula associated with varaha avtar of Lord and Anant Nag associated with Sesha nag who is also known as Anant nag.
The Vishnu has been the most venerated God among the rulers and hence various temples were dedicated to Him especially by Lalitaditya and Avantivarman. The official patronage for building of Vishnu temples was given during the reign of Avantiverman of Lohara dynasty and a famous temple of Avantiswamin was built near Avantipora.
Later Sikh rulers and most importantly by Dogra rulers the temples dedicated to different forms of Vishnu were built and murthis consecrated in them. The notable among them which stands tall on architectural grandeur are Ragunath temple of Jammu and Srinagar.
All the iconographic orientations of Vishnu in these temples are ornate, aesthetically beautiful and highly impressive.

 

By-Sunil Raina Rajanak
(The author is a founder member Himalayan Heritage Foundation.)

Dilapidated temples of kashmir

 

 

 


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Queen Didda of Kashmir

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

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

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

 

Mahiman, Patala and rise of Yashodhra

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

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

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

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

REFERENCE:Kalhana’s Rajatarangini(A.stein)

some photos of Rainawari, Srinagar, Kashmir

IMG_5248 IMG_5252 IMG_5226 IMG_5227 IMG_5229 IMG_5230 IMG_5231 IMG_5232 IMG_5233 IMG_5234 IMG_5244 IMG_5239 IMG_5237 IMG_5247 IMG_5253 IMG_5254

The Shankaracharya Hill

‘O! Shankaracharya’,-the holy Hill

answer my prayers.

I tried to woke him up.

 

He opened his eyes

He looked intensely at me.

Like a  father

who has met his Son

after a long time.

 

 

‘You seem familiar, but wait!

Let me ask my Heart,

That has started beating again’

 

it looked as if he

Was  searching in the leaves of past

And matching my Heart-beats with the

Beats of his Heart.

he closed his eyes

And he became silent.

 

Atop the Hill

To wake him up

I pealed the Bell

And Screamed

‘O! Shankarcharya’

Why are you silent?

 

 

He opened his eyes again

and said

‘Nobody talks to me like you do

For them I am a huge

Mass of boulders

I am Lifeless for them

For you

I am your creator

I am your identity

I long for you

As much as you do for me

I live in your Heart

As much as you do in mine.

 

I am not silent

And you were

never away from me

In my silence

I was working within you

he said

 

I ask the sun in the morning

I ask the moon in the night

About my sons in the

Far away lands

I ask them to light your path

That leads to me

And I ask the cool breeze of the Night

To embrace you

And lead you to the Dream land

Where you find yourself in my lap

 

 

‘O! Child

I look silent

But in the silence

I become your motivation

I become your patience

I become your desire

I become your courage

And inspire to lead you

A step further

To regain what you have lost

And become determined like me

To achieve your Goal

And become me-The Shankaracharya Hill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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