Table of Contents
  Vision of India and Kashmir
  Kashmir: Illusion and Reality
  Open letter to Ms. Robin Raphel
  Autonomy: Nuts and bolts
  Letter to Mr. Rajiv Gandhi

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Vision of India and Kashmir's place in that vision

By Jagmohan

WHAT is our vision of India and what is Kashmir's place in that vision? This isJagmohan the fundamental question that every Indian, genuinely concerned about the future of the country, should be asking himself or herself, but which practically no one is asking. Therein lies the tragedy of India. The Republic that came into being on January 26, 1950, has shown little aptitude or willingness to define clearly, its true vision and its true destiny and to pledge itself to the realization of that vision and that destiny.

The great question that should have been faced by us was one our civilisational and cultural identity and its rejuvenation and regeneration so as to enable us to provide an inspirational and ideological base for building a strong and well-knit India with fundamental values and a design and life-style of its own. But we ignored this great question and acted like a blind man with a lantern in his hand, assuming that the outer light was a substitute for the inner one. No wonder, we now find ourselves in a snake-pit-a pit of frightening darkness and dimension, a pit that has exposed us to grave dangers not only in Kashmir but also in other parts of the country.

The fundamental challenge that confronts us today is how to extricate ourselves from this snake-pit and come out of the atmosphere of chaos and confusion and move into one of stability, and orderliness with lights of true vision and motivation of true destiny guiding us.

What, we must ask ourselves in all earnestness, is India?? Is it a mere collection of States. and territories or something more than that? Is it a new political reality only or also an expression of a common heritage and history, a common culture, a common set of values that have nursed and nurtured the same way of life for ages in diverse circumstances and in different regions.

The answer to these questions is clear. The new Republic is a new constitutional entity. But it is not merely that. It is also a historical and cultural continuity-a continuity that is unique, a continuity that mocks at the ravages of time and has remained unperturbed by the scars and stains left by the upheaval and uproars of history. And all parts of the country, including Kashmir, are a part of continuity.

Few in our country-practically none amongst the ruling elites who have dominated the political scene in the post-independence period, realize that Kashmir's relationship with the rest of India is based not merely on the Instrument of Accession and Articles 1 and 370 of the Constitution of India; it is rooted is far more potent and enduring forces whom neither the turbulence and tornadoes of the past nor the negativism and nihilism of the present-day politics can really destroy. It is a relationship of mind and soul that has existed from the time immemorial and found amble expression in common avenues of intellect and emotions, poetry, and literature, philosophy and outlook. Every green pasture that you walk around in Kashmir, every silvery peak that you watch from pleasurable distance, every stream that sings its song by your side, every enchanting lake that you come across now and then and every little town and city that visit, has some signpost or the other of this deep and abiding relationship. Kalhana was not off the mark when he observed in Rajatarangani that there was hardly any place in Kashmir that was not a tirtha. And Vincent Smith rightly pointed out that ancient India had nothing more worthy of its early civilization than the grand ruins of Kashmir.

To understand in depth Kashmir's relationship with the rest of India, it is necessary to address ourselves to a few basic questions.

What were the forces that brought into existence, about 4,000 years ago, a quiet little temple on what is now known as the Sankaracharya Hill? What made the great Kashmiri King Lalitaditya (721-761) to build the glorious temple in honour of Surya, the Sun God, at Martanda, and Avanti Verman (855-883) to construct equally splendid temples at Avantipura? What inner urges did these constructions symbolize? What philosophy, what temper of mind, did they represent? Were these inner urges, these tempers of mind, not products of the same cultural forces that prevailed in other pans of India?

How is it that for thousands of years, the learned Brahmins of South India have been, on getting up from bed, folded their hands, looked northward and prayed: Namaste; Saradadevi: Kashmira Mandala Vasini (I salute the Goddess of Sarada who resides in Kashmir). Why is it that even now parents tell their children to seek the blessings of this Goddess of Learning who has her abode in North Kashmir in the valley of Kishanganga?

What made Sankara, when he wanted to rejuvenate the spirit of India, to travel from a small hut of Kaladi in Kerala all the way to the distant hills in Kashmir? And what made him to stay there for quite some time and compose his famous poem, Soundarya Lahari, propounding his philosophy of Shakti and Shiva? Why is it that Abihava Gupta, the great savant of Kashmir Sahivism, is also called 'Sankaracharya of Kashmir', and how is it that he draws his philosophic thought from the same cultural spring as that of Sankara?

What were the forces that attracted Swami Vivekananda from Calcutta to Kanyakumari and then to Kashmir? What made him standing before the holy cave of Amarnath, experience one of the highest stages of spiritual ecstasy Why was he so captivated by the sight in the cave that for days, to use the words of Sister Nivedita, he could speak of nothing else but the image of Shiva and proclaim that he had never been so greatly inspired as then?

What do the various landmarks on the route from Pahalgam to the cave of Amarnath-Chandanwani,Pishu Ghati, Seshnag, Panchtarni- stand for? Are they not some of the most important symbols of Indian culture and, beliefs?

How is it that Kashmir had always an innate attraction for Indian saints and sages, poets and philosophers, and provided them with perennial, inspiration? What, in moments. of poetic intensity, made Kalidasa see the 'laughter of Shiva' in the Himalayas and Subramania Bharati think of Kashmir as the Crown of Mother India?

The answer to all these questions is one and only one: Kashmir, for thousands of years, has been a part of the Indian vision-a silent and serene, yet solid and strong part; an integral and inseparable part.

Even when Islam came to Kashmir, it did not alter the ethos of the common folk. Most of the Islamic teachings were just grafted on Vedantic beliefs and thoughts. The central message of Kashmir's patron saint and founder of the Rishi order, Sheikh Nooruddin Noorani was: There is one God, But with a hundred names. There is not a single blade of grass, which doe not worship Him.

Sheikh Nooruddin himself was deeply influenced by Lal Ded who "saw Shiva and Shakti sealed in one" and whose outlook was permeated with some of the finest components of Indian thought and tradition.

Both Sheikh Nooruddin and Lal Ded were endowed "with vision which increases the power of speech and with inspired speech that makes vision penetrating". It was their inspired speech and their penetrating vision coupled with earthy sense and rub of life, that kept the Kashmiri ethos within the over-all cultural mainstream of India even after a very large part of the Valley's population had been brought under the fold of Islam. The followers of the Rishi Order abhorred killings. Like the Jains, they were careful not to cause harm even to insects. Sheikh Nooruddin went to the extent of refusing to walk on grass lest it should be damaged. Poet Mohammad lqbal, who was a Kashmiri by descent, also noted in one of his Persian couplets, the habit of Kashmiri Muslims to carve out moortiseven from the stones of graves.

The list of the living symbols and signposts of Kashmir's relationship with the rest of India is long and virtually unending. But for our policy-makers,. whether they sit in North Block or South Block or Shastri Bhavan it does not exist. No mention of its is ever made either inside or outside the country. No child is taught a word about it. No pressman writes a line on the subject. All that is spoken of or written about, almost ad nauseam, is the special relationship, the need to continue and strengthen Article 370, and of giving more and more autonomy-'anything short of azadi'-promoting thereby separatist psyche and according to tacit approval to the 'two-nations' or 'three-nations' theory.

It is strange that Jawaharlal Nehru, who had a strong sense of history, spoke or wrote, after August 1947, very little about Kashmir's underlying bonds with the rest of India and hardly took them into consideration while framing his Kashmir policy instead, he showed a marked disposition to rely on personally-oriented relations and that too, with very few individuals like Sheikh Abdullah and Bakshi Ghulam Mohammed. Though himself a Kashmiri by descent, he took practically no step to fertilize the commonality of the mindscape and to bring home to all concerned Kashmir's inerasable place in the Indian vision. The partition of the country badly stabbed this vision. In extenuation of Nehru's and other Indian leaders' inability to prevent this partition, it could, perhaps, be said they had to reckon with British manipulations. But in free India not to reinvigorate centuries-old vision with its deep roots in culture, tradition and other gambits of life, was nothing short of committing a lapse of a vast historic proportion.

The Indian decision-makers went astray at every turning point of Kashmir's contemporary history as they had neither any clear idea about the true vision of India nor of Kashmir's place in that vision. They had no fundamental ideological or inspirational base from which a coherent consistent and constructive pattern of thoughts and deeds could emerge. Their approach was spurious, superficial and personally-oriented, giving no attention to the forces that shaped the mindscape. Consequently, they have brought Kashmir and the rest of India to the brink of spiritual and cultural divorce. They have created an atmosphere in which we have virtually "nothing to look backward with pride and nothing to look forward with hope".

There is only one way to salvage the position. And that lies in the emergence of new political, social and cultural forces that could discover the true vision of India and outline its true destiny and assign Kashmir its rightful place in that vision and that destiny.



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World Kashmiri Pandit Conference, 1993
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