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Shri Bhat

Light in the Darkness

by Narender Sehgal
CONVERTED KASHMIR: Memorial of Mistakes

As a result of efforts of Sultan Zainulab-ud-Din and Pandit Shri Bhat the ancient glory of Kashmir started returning. Temples started being built, ban was imposed on slaughter of cows, taxes were abolished and the migrant Hindus returned to their houses.

The state of Kashmir had become almost Hinduless because of the massive and powerful campaign for religious conversion launched by Sikander, the iconoclast, his son, cruel Ali Shah and antinational Saifuddin (Suha Bhat) and the cruel Syeds in their religious garb. Only a few Hindu families were living in Kashmir after paying taxes and after tolerating many difficulties and ignominies. The embers of the burnt libraries were still hot. The cries of the raped Hindu women were reverberating in Kashmir. The silence of the ruins of the temples was generating terror. The water of the Jehlum was still red with the blood of the Kashmiris. Amid this deep darkness there was refulgence from a lamp.

Sultan Zainulab-ud-Din, saviour of Kashmiriyat

In 1420 A.D. Sikander's second son, Sultan Zainulab-ud-Din, occupied the throne of Kashmir. He decided to compensate for the cruel activities and the sin of his father. Shrivar has given an impressive account of the liberal and tolerant Sultan, after having written about the deeds of earlier Sultans who had crossed all the limits of cruelty. According to Shrivar, Zainulabud-Din was a ruler like a sandalwood balm that gives coolness after the end of the heat wave in the desert.

Zainulab-ud-Din, popularly called Zainul, tried to turn Kashmir towards its ancient glory. Under his orders many ruined temples were rebuilt. Those Kashmiri Pandits, who had migrated and scattered in different areas in India were invited back. Many industries were set up for the welfare of the people. Barren lands were made cultivable. For improving irrigation many plans were introduced. Constructive minded Zainul started many schemes for promoting art and culture. He got many Hindu scriptures translated in Persian. Through such deeds he earned love and loyalty from all. He achieved honour as a real king of Kashmir.

Behind all this good work and his awakened sympathy towards all human beings is hidden one important event, which the historians have concealed, which pertains to the change of his mind brought about by Shri Bhat.

Vaidraj Pandit Shri Bhat

It will be incomplete to describe the short glorious era of Kashmir without the introduction of Shri Bhat. Zainul had hardly completed two years on the throne when a dangerous boil developed on his chest. Many Syed Hakims treated him. Known Hakims from Central Asia came to treat him but there was no improvement. Sultan Zainul had heard that there were Hindu doctors in Kashmir who had the expertise in curing the boil after an incision. Under the orders of the Sultan a search for such doctors was launched but thanks to the activities of the Syeds, Kashmir was bereft of these doctors.

Historian Joanraj has written that just as a result of the anger of the snow, flowers are not seen or do not bloom in midwinter, similarly no expert doctor was available because of the state repression. Ultimately Government employees found Sri Bhat, an expert in treating poisonous boils. But he delayed his arrival out of fear. And when he reached the palace, the king encouraged him. Shri Bhat treated successfully the poisonous boil of the king.

While treating the Sultan Pandit Shri Bhat harboured fears of punishment in case the Sultan does not become well.

He was well versed in treatment but he had started the treatment of Sultan carefully and hesitatingly like the one who touches a diamond, shining like fire, after sometime out of fear of already having suffered burns.

National interest above all

When the Sultan was fully well, he wanted to reward Shri Bhat with jewels and diamonds but Shri Bhat refused to accept any such regard. He did not bother about his personal comforts and amenities. He gave preference to the happiness and prosperity of his Kashmir. This attitude of Shri Bhat was something new for the Sultan. By rejecting wealth and prosperity Shri Bhat, while thinking in terms of the benefit of the nation, had decided to make the King adopt a liberal outlook and transform his lifestyle in the background of the historical and constructive mould. The Sultan witnessed transformation in the outlook of life and his religious fervour ended giving place to broadmindedness instead of narrow-mindedness.

On being told by the Sultan Shri Bhat submitted seven demands which Zainul accepted gladly. These demands were:

    1. The massacre of Hindus on the basis of reasonless religious conflict be stopped immediately and no one be punished without proper investigations and enquiries.

    2. Those temples, which were damaged during the time of Alexander, be rebuilt. Permission be given to those Hindus, who had been forcibly converted to Islam, to return to the religion of their ancestors. Those Kashmiris who had migrated out of fear to areas outside Kashmir, where they were leading a life of penury, be immediately invited back to their houses.

     3. The Sanskrit schools be reopened and facilities be made available there for the Hindu students for their development and progress.

     4. The taxes imposed on the Hindus be abolished and they be given equal rights.

     5. While respecting the religious sentiments of the Hindus cow slaughter be banned.

     6. The ban on performing Yagnya and rites and customs of Hindus be lifted.

     7. Immediate repair of libraries, set ablaze by the Sultans, be undertaken.

History is witness to the fact that the Sultan accepted all the demands submitted by the patriot, Shri Bhat.

The return of the ancient golden age

Sanskrit scholars, who had migrated from the valley, returned to Kashmir and again Kashmiri Pandit families started resettling in Kashmir. On the request of Shri Bhat the Government sanctioned monetary help to the students and the scholars and many Sanskrit centres were reopened. The property of Hindus looted during the period of Sikander was returned to them. Zainul developed faith in Hindu religion. He started the study of Hindu scriptures. He ordered closure of all those centres whieh had been set up by the Syeds for perpetrating cruelty.

A Muslim historian, Mohd. Din Fak, has given an account of Shri Bhat in his book "Shabab-e-Kashmir". According to him Shri Bhat became famous on the Government level after he refused to accept presents from the king. He was appointed state physician and head of the health department. He carried great influence on the king and his people. He earned this influence through resettlement of his people. He was desirous of peace and progress.

Joanraj has written that just as a lion does not attack other animals in the hermitage of saints, so the Turks now stopped punishing Brahmins as they used to do earlier. The sun like glorious king treated kindly those Brahmins whose very existence had been endangered earlier.

Famous historian, Abul Fazal, has, while giving an introduction of Shri Bhat in his book "Aain-e-Akbar", written that in the golden history of Kashmir, particularly in the context of the golden history of middle period, the glory of Zainulab Din, which is worth remembering, would have not been there and he too would have flowed with the tainted tide which had carried his parents had not Shri Bhat come in contact with him. This being the reason, for Joanraj to write that Zainul was always ready to implement all the suggestions of Shri Bhat in the historical tradition.

In many places in his book Joanraj has described Shri Bhat as a well-behaved and unique social leader in the history of Kashmir.

After the treatment of poisonous boil three beneficial matters were settled. Shri Bhat became famous because of the amazing curative treatment. Zainul was free from this fatal disease and as a result of it he was highly happy to see the bright future of the Hindus.

Joanraj has written that there was no problem in the Government because of secular penance of Zainul, Shri Bhat's successful policies and the fortune of the people.

Shri Bhat transformed Kashmiri society into a classless society

In the middle period of Kashmir the life of Shri Bhat, a brave Sanskrit scholar, is a gleaning page of history but besides this his life is a guide in the work and attitude for bringing the Muslim mind to the national stream in the present and in the future. Modern historians have not set their eyes on this type of great man who converted a Sultan, belonging to the family of heartless, cruel and destroyers of the roots of Indianness, to a nationalist and a secular king. In this context Shri Bhat had the capacity to change the course of the era and as such he was a great man of this era.

Because of the efforts of Shri Bhat when Hindu families returned to Kashmir for resettlement, the problem of their houses and earning cropped up. Under the guidance of Shri Bhat and under the permission and plan of the Government everyone was appointed on different posts in the Government as per their calibre. Shri Bhat resolved successfully all the problems connected with their resettlement, their family arrangements, their security and their identity while linking them with the then administrative setup.

There were many castes and subcastes in Kashmir. This system had been demolished because of the atrocities committed by Muslim rulers. There was need to give new shape to this caste system in the light of the migration and then the return of the displaced Hindus in miserable conditions. In such a situation Shri Bhat categorised all in one community of Brahmins.

Dr. Triloki Nath Ganjoo has made a detailed reference to it in his book "Mahashri Shribhat". He has said that possibly there was no need for analysing the socio-political development of Kashmiri Hindus but Shri Bhat has, through his revolutionary reforms, organised a classless and one class society not only in the history of Kashmir but for the entire Hindu society of India, on the scientific lines, while looking a thousand years ahead of him. It is surprising that the reforms for which Bhakti revolution, Brahma Samaj, Arya Samaj and Vishwa Hindu Parishad wanted to implement the bugle of this reform was sounded several hundred years ago by Shri Bhat in 1420 A.D. It was an instance of his deep insight in future.

He has said that the modern historians have, without fully understanding the Rajtarangani of Joanraj, considered the identity of Shri Bhat nothing beyond a minister of health. In this connection P.N. Koul (Bamzai), Dr. R.K Parimoo and Dr. Mohibul Hassan are worth reference. But according to Joanraj Shri Bhat was a health minister but Zainul had given him the powers to look after all departments and he would take care of other departments and activities of the Government. Historians have forgotten to note that, because of his unique and lovely personality he had not only influenced the Sultan but had also attracted him. He had eclipsed the biased influenced of Muslim ministers and the Syeds who had come from central Asia by his extraordinary personality.

Thus Shri Bhat is one such great man of the history of Kashmir who, through innumerable qualities and matchless calibre of his grand personality, again linked defunct Kashmiri Hindus with the land of Kashmir.

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