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Read Sharda
Read Sharda
A Sharda Primer
by
Prem Nath Shastri (URL)
Available from:
Vijyeshwar Religious Book Store
Tallab Tillo, Jammu,
J&K State, India

Kashmir has not only been popularly known as Bhuswarga (paradise on earth) but also as a famous seat of learning (Sharda Peetha). It is even believed by some Indologists to be the original center of Sharda script. So Shardapeetha cannot be separated from Sharda Script.  According to palaeographers, Sharda Script is the offshot of North-Western Brahmi. Many inscriptions and Sharda manuscripts were found in the different parts of the sub continent especially in Central Asia and Central Turkistan. There are many references in Sanskrit literature about Sharda Desha.  Kashmir is called Sharda Kshetra or land of Goddess Sharda and this is no doubt the origin of the name of the alphabet, although Elmisilie in his Kashmir Vocabulary. Sharda mentions a tradition that it is said to have reduced Kashmiri language in writing. Sharda was once extensively used by both in the plains and hills of the punjab.

The earliest known inscription is the Dewai inscriptions of the Shahi King Bhimadeva. The other important inscriptions are Shahi King Jayapala discovered from Barikote in upper Swat and Hund ancient  Udhbandapura dated 146 and of Queen kamishwaridevi dated 154-157.

On the basis of internal evidences, Sharda script has been in use in Kashmir from the 9th century A.D. to this day. The earliest specimens are the legends on the coins of the Utpala Dynasty and the fragmentary inscription mentioning the name of Avantiverman. In addition to it, there are two inscriptions of the reign of Queen Didda(A.D.980), one incised on a stone slab dated A.D. 992 and the second on the pedestal of Bodhis atva Padampani (dated A.D. 989) preserved in the Sri Partap Singh Museum, Srinagar. The other important inscriptions are : - Tapar stone lintal inscription of the reign of Parmanddeva, A.D. 1157 Arigam (Skrt-Aryagrama) stone slab inscription of the (Laukika) year 73 or A.D. 1197. The Kotiher (Distt. Anantnag) inscription of the reign of Zain-ul-abdin Budshah dated 1428. The last known inscriptions from Kashmir belongs to the end of the 18th century. It has been discovered in the Pulwama district and is dated A.D. 1789. The Kashmiri translation of Bible was published in 1822 A.D. in the Sharda script. Then its second edition appeared in Nastalik. The will of saint Maqdoom Sahib written in Sharda and Persian scripts is enhancing the importance of S.P.S. Museum, Srinagar.

Sharda Script was very popular in Kashmir. Birth record and horoscopes etc. were written in this script. During the ceremony of Yajnopavita (Mekhala) the Kulaguru (the family priest) teaches the celibate (Brahmachari) alphabet of Siddha Matrika (old form of Sharda) on the wooden piece, this tradition is prevalent even today.

Sharda script is decaying day by day. After migration of Kashmiri Pandits from Kashmir to different states of India, it suffered a set back. At present it is confined to the limited priestly class. It is interesting to note here that during the Medieval period, Kashmiri was written in Sharda script.

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