Kashmir may rightfully boast of a long tradition of
producing histories and historical works of considerable value. No fewer than a
dozen histories are referred to by Kalhana which, besides other materials,
served him as sources for his celebrated chronicle Rajatarangini written in
Laukika 4225 corresponding to A.D. 1149/50. Kalhana's impact on the historians
and chroniclers who followed him is evident in at least the works of four of
them who endeavoured to carry on the tradition of recording the events of the
rulers of their time: Jonaraja, Srivara, Prajyabhatta and Suka. While the work
of Prajyabhatta is lost to us, the history of Suka takes us to the time of the
second tenure of Sultan Fath Shah in A.D. 1538. The historical accounts of these
four Sanskrit historians are relatively brief; they make only veiled references
to events which deserved to be treated in greater detail. But they wrote under
several constraints, and that perhaps explains why their perception and
presentation of events did not match that of Kalhana's. It is also likely that
what has survived the ravages of time is only a fragment of what they had
written. Nevertheless, these accounts are valuable to us; at least we have
something to fall back upon.
The tradition solidly established by Kalhana, which was
marked by objectivity in approach and treatment, was followed by many later
historians of Kashmir. From the time of the advent of Islam in Kashmir (placed
by some historians somewhere in the last decade of the thirteenth century,
though the presence of the people of Islamic faith in Kashmir had been reported
by Kalhana in as early as the eighth century) to the reign of Maharaja Pratap
Singh the third Dogra ruler (d. A.D. 1925), many histories of Kashmir were
produced in Persian. After the expansion of Islam in Iran and Central Asia, the
art of recording the events and affairs of rulers and their subjects developed
in a manner in conformity with the Islamic traditions. When the conversion
1. Rajatarangini, Bk. iv. St. 397.
process in Kashmir reached its culmination in the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and the social and political turbulence died
down, the resultant peaceful order stimulated hitherto suspended intellectual
and artistic activity. For more than a century after the founding of Muslim rule
in Kashmir, Sanskrit continued to be used officially alongside Persian, though
it was evident that soon the latter would replace the former both as official
language and the language of the elite. No wonder, therefore, that a patron of
learning like Sultan Zainu'l-'Abidin worked for preserving the rich cultural
heritage of Kashmir by starting a bureau of translation for translating Sanskrit
works into Persian. Kalhana's Rajatarangini was translated during this very
time. Unfortunately, much of the material produced during this time has been
lost. Persian historiography had a rich tradition behind it. When Persian
language took roots in Kashmir, the science of writing histories also abscribed
the tradition which had already been established.
One cannot compute exactly the number of histories of
Kashmir which have been written in Persian from early times to the present day.
However, a record of extant Persian histories preserved in the Research and
Publication Department of Jammu & Kashmir State, Srinagar, lists as many as
seventeen works in manuscript form. The earliest among these is Tarikh-i-Kashmir
written by Sayyid 'Ali b. Sayyid Muhammad in A.D. 1579, and the most recent is
Tarikh-i-Kabir written by Ghulam Mohiu'd-Din in A.D. 1900. Apart from these,
there are several other works in the form of diaries, travelogues, and stray
writings of considerable historical importance which have not been included in
the list of histories.
Of the seventeen histories of Kashmir, already known to
scholars, only two have been printed so far: Waqa'at-i-Kashmir by Muhammad Azam
Dedamari and the two volumes of Tarikh-i-Kashmir by Pir Ghulam Hasan Khuihami.
The unedited text of Baharistan-i-Shahi was also published a few years ago by a
local scholar as a supplement to a long eulogy of the author's now deceased
patron and benefactor. Gulab Nama by Diwan Kripa Ram has also been translated
from Persian into English, but it is more of a biography of the founder of the
Dogra dynasty of the rulers of Jammu & Kashmir, than a work of history.
In the absence of competent and annotated English
translations of these Persian histories of Kashmir, the non-Persian knowing
scholars are severally handicapped. But the task of editing, translating and
publishing these manuscripts is not an easy one; it calls for a high standard of
scholarship, dedication and institutional and organizational support. That these
valuable histories are languishing in dust is a sad commentary on the state of
scholarly research in these areas. Unless government bodies and universities
take initiative in providing the right kind of incentives to competent scholars,
these manuscripts cannot reach scholars in the field. It needs to be mentioned
here that high level scholarship in classical languages is becoming rare in our
By and large, the historians of Kashmir writing in
Persian language followed the pattern-format, style, theme etc. of Iranian
historians though the canvas of the former is limited. When they accepted the
Persian/Tajik model of historiography, they accepted both its good and bad
qualities. It appears that many Persian historians of Kashmir had perused the
historical works of outstanding Iranian or Central Asian historians and they had
familiarised themselves with their technical language, style and method to a
considerable extent. They had also acquainted themselves with the variety of
themes which the Iranian, Central Asian or Indian historians treated in the
course of their recordings.
Histories of Kashmir in Persian language which I had
the opportunity of examining during the course of my research, invariably follow
the traditional pattern of Persian histories which had been produced in Iran,
Transoxiana (Ma'wara-anNahr), Afghanistan and India. They begin with an
elaborate doxology, followed by praises and eulogies for the Holy Prophet, the
Imams, and the ruling house or the king or the patron at whose instance the work
was undertaken or to whom it was dedicated. However, the Persian histories
produced in Kashmir deviate in some respects from the traditional norm. In the
East, particularly in Iran, a historian wrote at the behest of a ruler, a
minister or a powerful courtier or a feudal lord. In a few cases the historian
would himself be a minister or an influential person close to the ruling circles
and the corridors of power, and wrote mainly to please his patron than out of
his intellectual curiosity. Martin's perceptive comment on Timurid art explains
it clearly: "All art, in the Orient is court art, or is dependent on
Maecenas. It was so, in the 'Abbasid Court at Baghdad in the ninth century, it
was so in Egypt and Spain; it was so everywhere. This fact must be remembered,
as it explains much that would otherwise be incomprehensible". 
Most of the historians of Kashmir who wrote in Persian
had very thin or no connection with the court or the ruling house, and never
held any important official positions. This accounts for the presence of very
few distortions or misrepresentations in their expositions, and gives their work
a degree of objective credibility not known before. Whatever bias these may have
is because of the angularities of their character or because of circumstances
beyond their control. This bias is, therefore, neither pronounced nor offensive.
But because they were not associated with the court or royalty, put them to a
disadvantage: they had no access to original and living sources of information.
Generally mediaeval Persian historiography in or
outside Iran suffered from one particular drawback. To show off his command over
the language, a historian would invariably cultivate a highly ornate and turgid
style. He would devote more attention to rhetorical embellishment than to
objective analysis of facts and events or to drawing of logical conclusions.
This probably explains why many historical works were used as textbooks of
highly ornate Persian prose rather than as histories. History was not included
in the curriculum of madrasah (colleges) in Iran and elsewhere as an independent
subject of study. The historians did not realize they needed a different kind of
style for producing histories. This lessened the
 The Miniature Painting and Painters of Persia, India
and Turkey, Quartich, 19l2, vol, i, pp. 35-6.
value of many of these works. The historians' tendency
to use an ornate style was probably because they wrote only for a small circle
of upper class intellectuals, and not for the public at large. Once arts and
sciences came out of the close confines of courts and elitist circles and spread
to wider sections of society, historians gradually gave up the old ornate style
and wrote with a greater degree of objectivity and factual precision.
Keeping this in view, it is gratifying to note that
histories produced in Persian language in Kashmir are very readable narratives
composed usually in a simple and clear style. This is mostly because they were
generally unconnected with courts, rulers and high-ranking personalities.
Another reason was that Persian was not their mother tongue. It had been brought
here from Iran and Transoxiana by Muslim missionaries for propagating the
Islamic faith. When the ruling power passed on to the Muslims, Persian became
the court and official language in due course of time. Anybody using it had to
be clear and precise. The historians too followed the same example. Not having
to do anything with the king or his court, the histories produced by Kashmiris
were put in the category of non-official and popular histories. The historians
did not need to vie with one another to strive for linguistic embellishments.
This makes it easier to render them into readable English than the histories
produced in Iran or Transoxiana in mediaeval times.
Having noted the general features of Persian histories
produced in Kashmir in mediaeval and early modern times, it has to be admitted
that these histories do have some limitations which they share with the
histories produced in Iran and elsewhere in the Persian/Tajik speaking regions.
First, there is a pronounced streak of exaggeration in them; no matter whether
they are praising or censuring. Second, they lack systematic distribution of
themes into separate parts or through what we now call chapterization. Besides,
there are sudden shifts from one theme to another; the reader is not
sufficiently prepared for a new course of events. Hence any attempt on the part
of an editor or a translator at distributing the narrative into chapters and
assigning them headings has to be an arbitrary one. Finally, besides frequent
repetitions, their narrative continuity is often disrupted by uncalled-for
In the choice of their subject-matter, Persian
histories of Kashmir suffer from several other deficiencies. They deal with
subjects like court intrigues, political and personal rivalries among nobles and
chieftains, tales of extraordinary heroism, hunting expeditions and pleasure
trips, harem squabbles and such other trivial matters. The treatment is
generally exaggerated. Vital matters of social importance are ignored or
underestimated. Common people hardly figure in their account of the affairs of
the state. Even after going through long chunks of such histories one cannot
frame even a hazy idea of the kind of society that existed at a given point of
time. As against this, court intrigues, in-fightings, petty skirmishes, and
supernatural powers of the saints receive more than due attention. When not
engaged with these things, the historian writes copiously about mystics,
spiritualists, mendicants, especially about their seemingly miraculous powers.
He has very little or almost nothing to say about the vast agrarian and artisan
sections of society; their economic and social activities; their relations with
the ruling class; taxes, revenue and fiscal matters; arts and crafts; status of
women, folk-lore and local traditions; interaction between various sections and
classes of society engaged in productive activity, military and administrative
set-up and a multitude of other related themes. He does not identify himself
with the social milieu of his times.
But notwithstanding all that is said, it will be
unjustified to censure these historians for the deficiencies enumerated above,
because socially-oriented history is a recent development, at least in our part
of the continent. Though this approach to history gained popularity in the West
from the time of the Renaissance, the East lingered on for many more centuries
with her ages-old tradition till the era when imperialism and its agencies
received a setback in Asia and elsewhere outside Europe. In such a situation,
the burden of scanning impartially the material available to them, investigating
it and drawing conclusions in a manner that society and its variegated aspects
are brought under focus has to fall on the present-day historians. And the task
calls for extraordinary care and responsibility.
The most crucial period of the mediaeval history of
Kashmir is from the time of the downfall of the Hindu rule upto the beginning of
Shahmiri rule. Surprisingly, Persian historians have virtually neglected this
period of far-reaching consequences. It has led to the exacerbation of
controversies based on wild speculations. They have become so firmly entrenched
that it seems difficult to rectify them. The process of early Islamization of
Kashmir is a complex one because, unlike Iran or Transoxiana, there was no
outright invasion of Kashmir by Islamic warriors; no Arab legions marched into
Kashmir with their swift horses and slender swords. It was a curious process
interspersed with many ugly happenings which are mentioned in the pages of this
work. But the initial non-violent character of the event makes it into quite a
fascinating development. The story of conversion of hundreds of thousands of
people to Islam over a long stretch of time has not been told in a manner in
which it should have been. No historian, for example, has tried to go deep into
the socioeconomic and socio-political causes of the phenomenon. This lacuna in
the mediaeval histories of Kashmir is difficult to explain.
Historians have mentioned some historical works which
were produced in Kashmir before Baharistan-i-Shahi was written, but these are
lost. Three histories are invariably mentioned in this connection: those of
Mulla Naderi, Qazi Ibrahim and Mulla Hasan Qari. In their absence,
Baharistan-i-Shahi enjoys the status of being the first fully detailed history
of Kashmir written anonymously in A.D. 1614. (The forty-eight folio MS history
written by Sayyid 'Ali is mainly an account of the saints, particularly of
Sayyid 'Ali Hamadani).
Of the two extant manuscript copies of
Baharistan-iShahi, one is in the British Museum (Add. 16, 706) and the other is
in the India Office (I.O. 509). An abridged MS copy is in Bankipore Library.
When compared with the India Office copy, the one
preserved in the British Museum has some omissions, erasions and over-writings.
Many place-names are illegible or carelessly written. In a few instances, the
corresponding dates in Laukika calendar are missing. On these counts, the India
Office copy, has been considered more dependable, though, in both the cases, the
date of transcription or the name of the copyist has not been recorded. Not
ignoring the importance of the manuscript copy in the British Museum, a genuine
text was established after careful collation of the two MSS, and the translation
is of the collated version. In doing so many ambiguities have been removed and
omissions reconstructed. However, a few though minor discrepancies could not be
resolved and these have been indicated in the English version.
The India Office manuscript copy carries the date of
compilation of the chronicle in its colophon in the shape of a chronogram, viz.
Nameh-e-Shahan-i-Kashmir: it is A.H. 1023 corresponding to A.D. 1614. The
chronogram is actually the concluding verse of a short mathnavi (a long poem)
appended to the text. This is somewhat curious because such appendages are
generally found in collections (jung) and not in exclusive works of history.
Moreover, the mathnavi in question is of a different theme-being didactic in
nature- bearing no relation whatsoever to the theme of the chronicle. The MS
does not bear either the date of its transcription or the name of its author
scribe and the place of writing. It cannot be decisively established as to when
the author began writing the name of its author and the place of writing. It
cannot be decisively established as to when the author began writing the
chronicle; one or two clues however do suggest that the entire work was
completed in not less than two decades. It seems that there are big time-gaps in
the course of writing the chronicle, for the author refers to Kashmir sometimes
as 'this country' and at other times as 'that country'. This also proves that
while writing it the author was sometimes in Kashmir and sometimes outside
The clues suggesting more than two decades as the
period over which the chronicle was written are: On folio 12b of the MS, the
author writes that 270 years have elapsed since the ravages of Zulchu took
place. The incursion of Zulchu, as per the author's statement (fol. 11a/p. 17)
took place in A.H. 727/A.D. 1323. As such he had been writing about this
particular event in A.H. 997 corresponding to A.D. 1593. This was the time when
Kashmir had passed under the control of the Mughals for over six years. The
chronicle was brought to its completion twenty-one years later. In other words,
we can say that it took the author no fewer than twenty-one years to complete
it, presuming that he had begun it in A.H. 997/A.D. 1593. The presumption is
based on the fact that Zulchu's incursion into Kashmir being an event of early
history of Kashmir, the chronicler had to write twelve folios to arrive at the
description of this event.
The MS fills 212 folios of 8(5)/l8"x5" size
written in fairly legible nasta'liq hand. A few omissions, errors and erasions
which have crept into the text, advertantly or inadvertantly, have been set
right as far as possible after collating with the Br. Museum copy. Whatever
discrepancies are left do not seriously obstruct the continuity of the text or
impair its readability. Some orthographic peculiarities of the MS are:
(Editor's note: inability to write Arabic characters
with a text editor)
(a) letter 'Seen' is invariably accompanied by three
dots at its bottom.
(b) letter 'Gaaf' invariably carries only one
horizontal stroke instead of two.
(c) letter 'long ya-e' has not been used which
contrasts with the Practice followed in many Persian histories produced in
(d) letter 'short ya-e' is invariably accompanied by
two dots at its bottom.
(e) 'hamza' is generally represented by two dots at the
bottom of 'ya'.
(f) when a word ending with letter 'alif' is required
to be compounded with the following word, its sign of 'hamza' is replaced by 'ya'.
Such orthographic peculiarities are generally found in
Persian-Tajik manuscripts of Transoxiana produced during the mediaeval period.
For example, a manuscript history entitled Mehman Nameh-e-Bukhara, of Fadlu'llah
Rozbehan Khunji completed in A.D. 1509 in Herat bears a marked resemblance to
the work in question in its orthographic peculiarities. It suggests that the
style of writing, calligraphy and also the general pattern of Persian works of
history in those days were largely influenced by the Turanian style, rather than
In one particular formal aspect, the India Office MS is
different from general Persian historical writings. A common pattern of
Persian-Tajik and Arabic works is that the author begins with the opening
sentence of the Islamic prayer, viz, 'bismillah ar-rahman ar-rahim', followed by
one or two paragraphs in doxology, praises to the Holy Prophet, the Imams, and
lastly to the ruler or the patron as the case may be. But in the case of
Baharistan-i-Shahi, except for the opening sentence of the Islamic prayer, all
other doxological features are conspicuously absent. The book begins directly
with the mythical story of the beginning of Kashmir. If we presume that its
author was of the Shia' faith and that he wrote at a time when factional feuds
were recurrent, we can understand his doing away with the recognised practice of
writing prefatory material to works of history.
The MS is frequently interspersed with verses which
occasionally fill a folio or two. Their theme is generally related to the
context. However, it is difficult to ascertain whether these verses have been
borrowed from some versified history of Kashmir or not, although there are a few
positive clues to suggest such a possibility. If the author really made use of
one, it could either be the now lost work of Mulla Naderi, which is mentioned in
several Persian histories of Kashmir, or that of Sayyid Qasim, which is
mentioned cursorily on folio 42b/p.60 of the text, presuming that the reference
is not to Abu'l-Qasim b. Hindushah Firishta. The rhyme and meter of these verses
correspond to the one we find in the Shahnama of Ferdowsi. It is important to
bear in mind that the Shahnama had set the trend for future poet-historians in
the choice of meter for recording popular events and legends of heroism and
valour. Shahnama, the great epic, had been popular with the men of letters in
Kashmir as early as the fifteenth century. Jonaraja tells us that "Bhattavtara,
who had perused Shahnama composed a work named Jainavilass as the counterpart of
the king's (Zainu'l-'Abidin) instructions".
While rendering Baharistan-i-Shahi into English, the
Persian verses which frequently figure in the text have been left out. This is
not because the verses do not deserve to be translated, but because it would
have proved a source of distraction to the reader.
There is no specific mention in the text of the
chronicle about the sources from which the author drew material for his work.
Nevertheless, keeping in view the importance of the subject, an attempt will be
made to trace sources that have a direct or indirect bearing on the text.
For the Hindu period of his chronicle, the author
probably drew on some Sanskrit work or works, for he has referred to some such
source by a phrase 'ba qalam-i-Kashmiri', although the word Sanskrit has not
been used anywhere in the text. Repeated allusions to such histories suggest
that Persian translations of some known Sanskrit histories were within the reach
of the author. These could have been the chronicles written by Kalhana, Jonaraja,
Srivara or Suka. We know for certain that by that time Kalhana's Rajatarangini
and the chronicle of Jonaraja had been rendered into Persian either in full or
in part. Jonaraja tells us that Sultan
 The Rajatarangini of Jonaraja, (tr.) Dutt. J.C.,
Delhi, 1986, p. 13.
Zainu'1-'Abidin was instrumental in getting
Rajatarangini translated into Persian. We also know that 'Abdu'l-Qadir
Badauni had, under Akbar's instructions, prepared an abridged version of the
history of Kashmir; this is stated by him in the 'muqaddima' to his work 'Muntakhabu't-Tawarikh.
The four Sanskrit historians who followed Kalhana were
a witness to events for the periods detailed below:
Since Baharistan-i-Shahi was written in A.D. 1614,
Suka's history falls outside its time-span. Srivara's account is much more
detailed than those of others. This is clear from the following table:
||3698 years in 7830 slokas (verses)
||300 years in 976 slokas
||27 years in 2241 slokas
||25 years in 398 slokas
The last time when the author of the work refers to a
Sanskrit history (ba qalam-i-Kashmiri) is in connection with the defeat of Kaji
Chak at the hands of Mirza Haidar Dughlat; the year recorded is 16 which
corresponds to A.H. 947/ A.D. 1540.
Apart from the translations of the chronicles of
Jonaraja, Srivara and others, and presuming that these works had been translated
into Persian, some more histories in Persian verse or prose had been produced by
the time the author of
 The Rajatarangini of Jonaraja, (tr.) Dutt. J.C.,
Delhi,1986, p. 146. Also see Zaina Rajtarangini of Srivara., ed. Rughnath Singh,
Varanasi, 1977, Pt. I, Stt. 1:5:85.
 (Tr.) Sir Wolseley Haig, Patna, 1973, vol. iii, p.
536. See text vol. ii. p. 374.
Baharistan-i-Shahi appeared on the scene. These could
also have carried the accounts or Hindu rulers of Kashmir used by the author.
But the loss of Persian translation of Sanskrit histories of Kashmir from
Kalhana to Suka (presuming the translations had been made) has made any verdict
on the sources of the history of Hindu period in Baharistan-i-Shahi a matter of
conjecture. For writing his account, the author seems to have used some
distorted and frightfully defective Persian rendering of Rajatarangini. His
casual attitude towards this period is indicated by the fact that only eleven
out of a total of 212 folios of the MS are devoted to it. It seems that the
author wrote about it as a routine formality.
As far as the account of the Sultans of Kashmir is
concerned, the following Persian histories produced until the writing of
Baharistan-i-Shahi in A.D. 1614, come to our notice:
1. Tarikh-i-Kashmir, Sayyid 'Ali, A.D. 1579.
2. Tarikh-i-Kashmir, Mulla Husain Naderi, A.D. 1580.
3. Tadkiratu'l-Arifin, Mulla 'Ali Raina, A.D. 1587.
4. Tarikh-i-Kashmir, being the translation of
Jonaraja's history. A.D. 1590, Munich MS. Its author is unknown and the work
covers 131 years of history given by Jonaraja.
5. Tabaqat-i-Akbari, Nizamu'd-Din Tarawi, A.D. 159
6. Tarikh-i-Rashidi, Mirza Haidar Dughlat.
7. Babur Nama, Zahiru'd-Din Babur.
No doubt these historical works were produced either
before Baharistan-i-Shahi was written or were produced simultaneously, but it is
difficult to say which of these histories the author used as his sources; he
does not make any specific reference to any work or works.
From the concluding portions of the chronicle, one
gathers the impression that the author had been an eye-witness to some
happenings of those times. It could also be said that he had access to important
personalities. That is why he gives some minute details of events in this part
of the work. However, in the absence of an authentic biography of the author,
who is not even identified, it would not be safe to link him with either the
court of the Chaks or the powerful house of the Sayyids of Baihaq, whom he
praises in extravagant terms for their bravery and statecraft. That the author
preferred to remain anonymous is also significant. Some scholars have tried to
lift the veil of anonymity from his name, but such efforts could be only
conjectural and had better be ignored.
We may now try to analyse the clues available in the
chronicle to the possible sources used by the author. This will help in
evaluating the authenticity of the work in its totality, and also serve as an
incentive to further research in the field.
1. Commenting on the ravages of Zulchu (c. A.p. 1323),
the author writes (fol. 11a/p. 17) that the chroniclers of the events of Kashmir
have not recorded an event more disastrous and catastrophic than that of
Zulchu's incursion into Kashmir. This is a very faithful reproduction of
Jonaraja's comment on the event. This confirms that the Persian version of
Jonaraja's Rajatarangini was used by the author.
2. Describing the military exploits of Sultan Shihabu'd-Din,
(fol. 21a/p. 32), the author writes that details pertaining to the Sultan's
military adventures have been elaborately recorded in the history of..(blank)
written in Kashmiri. The author also writes that if the stories and anecdotes of
Sultan Shihabu'd-Din's remarkable bravery are fully described (as had been
available to him), people would think them a result of his poetical exaggeration
and as such would be taken as false .... This is exactly what Jonaraja has said
about the Sultan. Furthermore, the expression "chronicles of mighty
. Jonaraja, ed. Srikanth Koul, Hoshiarpur, 1967, p.
. See the Rajatarangani of Jonaraja, (tr.) Dutt, J.C.
New Delhi, 1986, p. 40.
monarchs and events of kings of Kashmir" with which
the text of Baharistan-i-Shahi begins is perhaps the expanded Persian rendering
of the Sanskrit term 'Rajatarangini.' Not mentioning the name of the author or
the title of the 'Kashmiri history' (ba qalam-i-Kaskmiri) in the text (fol.
20b/p. 31) appears to be a deliberate act, and not an inadvertent omission.
Perhaps the author did not want to acknowledge the debt he owed to Jonaraja.
3. On fol. 29a/p.40, the author refers to a panegyric
composed by Sayyid Mahmud Baihaqi in praise of Sultan Ghiathu'd-Din of Delhi and
says that "for fear of its length, historians have recorded only the
following verses". Then follow the verses. This indicates that the author
knew some Persian historical works of India which dealt with the period he was
4. On fol. 42b/p.60, the author quotes one Sayyid Qasim
describing the numerical strength of Mir Sayyid Naqir Baihaqi's troops in
readiness against the troops of the Raja of Jasrot (or Raja Jasrath). The event
pertains to the days of Sultan Zainu'l-'Abidin's accession to the throne in A.D.
1422. Who this Sayyid Qasim was and what exactly he wrote is not known. One
possible guess could be that he is Qasim b. Hindushah, commonly known as
5. On fol. 62b/p.78, the author describes the
conspiracy hatched by Kashmiri dissidents to assassinate Sayyid Hasan Baihaqi
and writes, "It has been written in Kashmiri ...." This indicates that
a history of Kashmir of that period written in Sanskrit did exist and was made
use of by the author either in its Persian translation or through the assistance
of an interpreter. If we accept that the Persian version of a Sanskrit history
did exist at this point of time, then it has to be that by Srivara. His
chronicle mentions clearly the dream of Mir Sayyid Hasan regarding his impending
killing next morning. The dream is described in its entirety by our chronicler
on folio 62b/p.78.
6. On fol. 75b/p.90. there is a description of the
fierce fighting which broke out between the troops of Fath Shah and Muhammad
Shah and the mishap of Mir Sayyid Muhammad's horse falling into a ditch on the
battlefield. The chronicler says that the event is well known in Kashmiri
history. This too confirms that Srivara's history served as a source for this
portion of the chronicle.
7. On fol. 145a/p.193, while describing a confrontation
between Yusuf Shah Chak and Sayyid Mubarak Khan, the author notes, ". . .
historians have given an account of this battle in prose as well as in
verse". This suggests the existence of some history or histories in
Persian/Sanskrit written both in verse and in prose. The statement is followed
by verses filling one whole folio of the MS. It is likely that these verses have
been borrowed directly from some versified history in Persian/Sanskrit.
8. The first mention of the Islamic calendar in the
chronicle has been made to record the year of Laxman Dev's death, viz. A.H.
531/A.D. 1136 (fol. 8b/p 8). Thereafter, the Muslim calendar has been used along
with the Laukika calendar of the Kashmiris which has been introduced for the
first time to denote the year A.H. 878/A.D. 1473 (Laukika 46 Vivat 12). This too
suggests the existence of Sanskrit/ Persian histories of Kashmir during the
period under our consideration.
9. On fol. lOb/p.16, the author writes that he
confirmed the name (of Zulchu) as Zulaji from Mirza Haidar. This indicates that
Mirza Haidar Dughlat's history Tarikh-i-Rashidi also served him as a source for
Baharistan-i-Shahi is essentially an account of the
political events of Kashmir in mediaeval times, especially from the time of the
incursion of Zulchu into Kashmir in A.H. 727/A.D. 1323 to A.H. 1023/A.D. 1614,
the year when Sayyid Abu'l-Ma'ali, the second son of Sayyid Mubarak, and the
last of Yusuf Shah Chak's closest associates, proceeded to Thatta in Sindh to
assume charge of his jagir, conferred upon him by Jahangir Padishah. The Hindu
period with which the chronicle begins is casually treated in the first eleven
folios. While dealing with the later period, the narrative acquires breadth and
depth, especially from the death of 'Ali Shah in A.H. 986/A.D. 1578. Some
portions of the history, mostly the latter ones, were probably written by the
author at a place outside Kashmir because, while referring to Kashmir, he says
'that country' whereas in the earlier portions he calls it 'this country'.
The narrative does not deal only with the rulers of
Shahmiri and Chak dynasties, but also treats of the story of the Baihaqi Sayyids
whose ancestor, Mir Sayyid Mahmud, had been defeated by Timur and had fled to
Delhi along with his followers during the reign of Sultan Ghiathu'd-Din. The
Sultan of Delhi had granted him a jagir in Jaricha near Delhi. During the reign
of Sultan Sikandar of Shahmiri dynasty (A.D. 1393 - 1416), Sayyid Mahmud came to
Kashmir for the first time along with a band of his soldiers and associates.
Thereafter the Baihaqi Sayyids gradually rose in power and position and played
an active, and often a decisive, role in the affairs of Kashmir. One of their
clan, named Sayyid Mubarak, ruled over Kashmir for a short period of two months
in A.D. 1578. The account of the Sayyids of Baihaq is treated at such length in
the chronicle that some scholars have said that it is a history of the Sayyids
than that of the Sultans of Kashmir. His lavish praise of the Sayyids makes us
presume that he was very close to them, perhaps a beneficiary of that house. He
does not hesitate to lay bare the contempt which the Sayyids had for the local
Kashmiri population. This became the cause of constant friction and acrimony
between them and the local chiefs. From contemporary sources we learn that the
Sayyids had to make strenuous efforts to become acceptable to the Kashmiris.
Srivara writes that although they claimed their descent from the house of the
Prophet, they did not receive adequate veneration from the Kashmiri Hindus who
had been converted to Islam. Therefore, in order to make the converted Hindus
understand their high status, the Sayyids told them that they were 'Musalman
Brahmans' as against 'Hindu Brahmans'.
. Srivara calls them chhij, and the rest of the Hindus
converted to Islam as mlechhas. See Zaina Rajatarangini, ed. Raghunath Singh,
Varanasi, 1977, Pt. I, Stt. 4: 77.
As a work of history, Baharistan-i-Shahi has its weak
spots as well. The author often makes sudden shifts from one event to another.
For example, while describing Sultan Zainu'l-'Abidin's works of public utility
and of architecture (p. 68), the author brings in the story of the Sultan's
action against the recalcitrant Pandav Chak of Kupwara. Such interpolations
figure with greater frequency during a period of about a hundred years of
political turmoil and administrative chaos following the death of Sultan
Zainu'l-'Abidin in A.D. 1473. This causes confusion in determining the sequence
of events in their chronological order.
The tone of the narrative gives the impression that the
author had been writing under some constraints of conscience. Except for the
fact that Mulla Hasamu'd-Din was his great grandfather (fol. 33b,1p, 44), we
know nothing about his life. That he was an adherent of Shia' faith becomes
clear from the loud manner in which he extols the propagation of religion by
Shamsu'd-Din 'Iraqi, Musa Raina, and Kaji Chak, all staunch Shias, and the
account of their destruction of Hindu temples and forcible conversion of Hindus
to the Islamic faith, or the pogroms unleashed against that community. He
severely criticises Mirza Haidar Dughlat for his hypocritical visit to the
shrine of the Shias at Zadibal in Srinagar. But his treatment of the factional
feuds between the Shia' and Sunni people of Kashmir and the weakening of the
former with the beginning of the Mughal imperialistic designs in Kashmir is very
subdued. At crucial moments, he conceals more than what he reveals; at other
places, he side-tracks the main issue. For example, he does not tell us the
exact reason of Sayyid 'Ali Hamadani's dissatisfaction with Sultan Qutbu'd-Din
(fol. 34b/p. 36), although the latter gave the Sultan full respect, implemented
his instructions in matters of religion and faith, and even attended
congregational prayers at the hospice which the Sayyid had built on the ruins of
a demolished temple in 'Alau'd-Din Pora (p. 36). Another example of ambiguity is
about the exit of Sayyid Muhammad Hamadani from Kashmir in the reign of Sultan
Sikandar, A.D. 1393 (p. 47). The author makes no mention of who Sayyid Hisari
was and why he was hostile towards the Sayyid. The matter becomes more
intriguing when we are told that Sayyid Muhammad received patronage and
protection from the Sultan and also the support from his newly-converted general
Suh Bhat (renamed Saifu'd-Din; meaning, 'Sword of Faith'). This Suh Bhat had
also given his daughter in marriage to the Sayyid and, as such, he could not be
sent away easily. Likewise, the author writes nothing about the differences
which arose between Mir Shams 'Iraqi and Mir Sayyid Muhammad Baihaqi (fol.
72a/p. 86) which forced the former to proceed on his self-imposed travels or
exile to Tibet. The closing part of the chronicle which deals with the dramatic
circumstances in which Yusuf Chak first conducted negotiations with the Mughals
and then ended up as their prisoner is also somewhat intriguing. Similarly, the
author's exposition of Mughal imperialistic designs in Kashmir is also full of
inconsistencies and ambiguities.
The author throws a veil of ambiguity over some
sensitive matters by referring to the supervening of the Divine Will in human
affairs. He gives the impression that he believed that God's Will shapes the
destinies of human beings, but when we look carefully at the facts described by
him, it seems that the divine interference in human affairs is only a facade to
conceal the machinations of persons who wielded power in the name of religion.
Thus Shams 'Iraqi predicts that the Omnipotent would give to Kaji Chak the
command of the government of Kashmir, and elicited from the latter a firm
promise of strictly abiding by his dictates to propagate his creed (fol. 81a/p.
107). It was only after receiving the approval of The Omnipotent that Kaji Chak
resorted to the large-scale massacre of Hindus. When the eyes of 'Ali Khan were
gouged out by the orders of Yusuf Shah, the author calls it a "matter of
divine ordination (fol. 89a/p 116). By attributing crucial happenings to powers
beyond human control and not subjecting them to the law of cause and effect, the
author faithfully follows the tradition of most of the Oriental historians of
mediaeval history. There is hardly any attempt in the narrative to logically
analyse the events or to see time in a precise and natural frame.
The chronicle deals mostly with rulers, their powerful
nobles, ministers and the domineering groups and factions of feudal chiefs.
Common folk do not figure in it. We hardly get to know anything about the
Kashmiri society of that time. The author does not record the participation of
common masses in happenings crucial to their interests and lives. We also do not
learn anything about class interests, agriculture, economy, taxes, revenue
system, trade and commerce, and a host of other social matters.
In spite of these drawbacks, the chronicle is important
as a record of the political history of Kashmir under the Shahmiris and the
Chaks. It is the first comprehensive history of Kashmir written in Persian. On
the political affairs of the period, it is indeed a mine of information,
especially on some of the most controversial matters, like the obstructions to
Shamsu'd-Din 'Iraqi's mission and the elimination of Nurbakhshiyya sect, Haidar
Dughlat's religious policy, emergence of Baihaqi Sayyid's as a political force,
and Mughal imperialistic designs in Kashmir.
The work amply reflects the feudalistic character of
Kashmiri society during the rule of the Sultans. The system was more or less a
continuation of the system which existed under the Hindu rulers. Feudal lords
were the props of the kingdom, enjoying power and influence. The landed
aristocrats were called zamindars; notable among them were the zamindars of
Bring, Chatr, Barthal, Nagam, Kother, and Kamaraj. The waqf (endowment)
institution under the Sultans may be compared to agrahara under the Hindu rules.
Alongside the feudal chiefs, other classes of landed aristocracy gained
prominence during the rule of the Sultans: Ulema, Sayyids, Qadis and men versed
in religious learning. Sultan Sikandar created the post of Shaykhu'l-Islam and
villages from each pargana were set apart for the perpetuation of the
institution. The system continued down to the times of the author. In special
cases, the entire pargana was given as endowment; the pargana of Mattan was
endowed to Sayyid Muhammad Hamadani. The relations between the landlords
. P. 45 Infra
and the peasants could not be anything different from
what they had been in traditional oriental feudalist society. The growth of
religious institutions and increase in the number of religious intermediaries
led to the disruption of the smooth functioning of the administrative machinery.
The feudal lords who were converted to the new religion in the early period of
Shahmiri rule became powerful and domineering because along with their political
manoeuverings, they also began to exploit religious feelings by showing
obeisance to religious men and the divines. 
Baharistan-i-Shahi reveals that, apart from regular
troops, private soldiers and mercenaries were also hired to take part in
military operations. Most of the zamindars raised private contingents of troops
and provided them with provisions. No specific rules or practices of warfare
were set forth; a victory over the enemy was usually followed by general loot
and plunder of the properties of the defeated side. Twice did Zainu'l-'Abidin
order destruction by fire of the residential complex of the defiant Pandav Chak
in Trehgam. Kashmiri soldiers were adepts in mountain warfare and made good
use of natural defensive positions offered by mountain recesses and gorges. Each
contingent was placed under a commander who acted and moved in unison with his
soldiers. But a difference of opinion or interest with other commanders would
not prevent him from taking his own decision and moving in a different
direction. He could even make over to the enemy's side if it suited his own
interests without having any qualms of conscience.
The work is also important because of its frequent
references to the geography and topography of Kashmir. It mentions parganas,
villages, towns, rivers, lakes, springs, routes, passes, mountain ranges, narrow
gorges and extensive fields which tell us a great deal about Kashmir's
l. P. 45 Infra. On this Subject also see Kashmir Polity
(600 - 1200 A.D.) Drabu, V. N., New Delhi, 1986, p: 199 passim.
2. P. 69 Infra.
boundaries and frontier military posts. The history
clarifies how the territories beyond the northern and southern mountain ranges
of the Valley shaped political events in Kashmir. In particular we see how
regions of Tibet, Karnah, Drav (Baltistan and Darad lands) and those of Kishtwar,
Rajouri, Poonch and Ghakkar lands were intimately linked with the history of
Kashmir from early times. It also shows Kashmir's close relations with the
northern plains of India, particularly with Delhi as the centre of the empire.
It should not go unnoticed that the chronicle paints a
gloomy and dismal picture of Kashmir after the death of Sultan Zainu'l 'Abidin.
His passing away let loose chaos and confusion in the land; each powerful chief
or group tried to seize power in the kingdom, reducing the Sultan to the
position of a nominal head. The chronicle also shows how the conditions
prevailing in the vast country of Hindustan affected political developments in
Kashmir, particularly from the beginning of the sixteenth century. The
hostilities between various groups of Kashmiri chieftains led them to establish
contacts with Babur, Humayun, Sher Shah and Akbar. Several other groups tried to
get in touch with the powerful courtiers of the Mughals or their trusted
generals. Kashmir gradually came under the Mughals; Shaykh Ya'qub Sarfi's
mission to Akbar's court clinched the process.
The local Hindu calendar called Loukika was in use in
Kashmir during the Hindu period. It continues to be used in Baharistan-i-Shahi
alongside the Muslim calendar. The first time when the Muslim calendar is used
is on fol. 8b /p. 8, in connection with the death of Laxman Dev; it is A.H. 531
corresponding to A.D. 1136. The Loukika calendar has been used in the chronicle
for the first time on fol. 58b/p.74, giving 46 Vivat 12 as the year of Sultan
Zainu'l'Abidin's death. It corresponds to A.H. 879/A.D. 1473. Thereafter the
Loukika calendar occurs intermittently and the last time when it is mentioned is
49 corresponding to A.H. 950 which is A.D. 1543.
It should be recalled that the Loukika calendar was
used by all Sanskrit historians of Kashmir beginning with Kalhana. The partial
use of this calendar by the author of Baharistan-i-Shahi suggests that he had
made use of a Sanskrit historical source at least for the portion of his work
where Loukika calendar figures. Ordinarily, mediaeval Persian histories give
dates only according to the Muslim calendar.
The following table gives the Loukika years (and their
corresponding Christian dates) in the works of Jonaraja, Srivara, Prajyabhatta
|Name of the king
Prajyabhatta and Suka:
||XL. 62, 91
|Yusuf Chak (2nd time)
- K. N. PANDIT