Moti Lal Khar

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   Kashmiri Writers

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An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



'Panchastavi' and 'Bhawani Sahastranam'

By Moti Lal Khar

Panchastavi is a collection of five hymns sang in the praise of Mother Goddess. It personifies absolute God-head of the Lord and lays stress on the Mother's worship as God of this Universe. 'Panchastavi' appears to have been composed four centuries before 'Bhawani Sahastranam - thousand names of Divine Mother', revealed by Lord Shiva Himself to his favourite 'Gana' and 'Vahana - Vehicle' Lord Nandikeshwara. 'Sundurya Lahari' written by Jagat Guru Shankaracharya in praise of Divine Mother resemble in technique and style with that of 'Panchastavi' and 'Bhawani Sahastranam'. It is said that Jagat Guru Shankaracharya did not first believe in the God-head of Mother Divine, and later he had to yield and surrender himself before the Divine Mother's existence in this Universe and had to write 'Sundurya Lahiri' in praise of the Divine Mother.

The composer of 'Panchastavi' has maintained silence about his name, time and lineage throughout his versified composition. The author could be Kashmiri by birth who was also well versed in Kundalini Yoga, besides master of Shiva/Shakta monism who had also imbibed southern names too, conveying the importance of 'Kundalini Yoga' as the main means of unity with the 'Absolute'. The only important common element between the Sadhana of the Trika system and Panchastavi is the worship of Tripura - the three different forms of Divine Mother as Trinity - Saraswati (Consort of Brahma), Lakshmi (Consort of Vishnu) and Parvati (Consort of Shiva); common factor of nearly all Shiva/Sakata theology systems and traditions.

Late Gopi Krishen, a reputed social reformer and founder member and President of Sudhar Samiti in Kashmir had also written a commentary in English on 'Panchastavi'. Being himself an expert in 'Kundalini Yoga', having his own disciples mostly foreign, had laid great emphasis on it. late Jia Lal Saraf, a devotee of Divine Mother at Hari Parbat Pokhribal has translated 'Panchastavi' in lucid Kashmiri verse, and it is very common and popular among Kashmiri Pandits. His composition of verses are available both in the form of a book and in melodious audio cassettes.

'Bhawani Sahastranam', the thousand names of Divine Mother, is another sacred book of Hinus written in the praise of Shakti. In this book, Nandikeshwara, the favourite among the 'Ganas of Lord Shiva' enquire from his master Lord Shiva, the secret behind His (Lord Shiva's) meditation. Since Lord Shiva is the Master of this whole Universe and Cosmos, why does He (Lord Shiva) meditate and on whom. Lord Shiva replies that He is incomplete without 'Shakti' and this 'Shakti' resides in Him as Cosmic Energy and it is in this form that He evokes Her during His meditation. The dialogue continues and Lord Shiva reveals and recites the thousand names of Divine Mother as a blessing to Nandikeshwara.

'Bhawani Sahastranam' is very popular among Kashmiri Pandits and they recite it almost daily. According to Nilamata Purana, Nandi under the name of Nandikeshwara existed in human form as a sage before achieving the status of Lord Shiva's Vahana (Vehicle) in the form of a bull who supports earth and heaven as per 'Atharaveda' as a symbol of righteousness or Dharma. We find Nandi's idols in every Shiva temple. There are famous shrines of Nandikeshwara at villages Sumbal and Seer in Baramulla district and at villages Gulgam and Villagam in Kupwara district in Kashmiri valley. The writer, during his service period in J&K Education Dept. has visited these shrines in Kashmir.

Source: Milchar



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