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   Kashmiri Writers

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Bulbul Shah - Harbinger of Muslim period in Kashmir

By Prof. M.L. Koul

Mahmud Ghaznavi, tried twice to ravage and conquer Kashmir but failed to succeed because of the stiff resistance from the natives. The impelling factor for him to conquer Kashmir was to top-notch his record as an iconoclast and level all temple edifices of amazing architectural and aesthetic value. What made Kashmir to fend off the invading hordes from the vulnerable approaches to the kingdom was the massive military buildup at such points as part of an over-all defence strat­egy. As the immediate neighbourhoods had grown turbulent the native rulers sensitive to the developments raised their guard through enhancing the for­tification of the routes that the enemies were wont to use for in­cursions and surprise raids. The vigilant rulers guarded the security of the region by disallowing men of doubtful credentials to enter the borders of the state. About the defence strategy of Kashmir rulers Alberuni, records.

They (Hindus) are particularly anxious about the natural strength of their country and therefore take much care to keep a strong hold upon the entrances and roads leading to it. In consequence, it is very difficult to have any commerce with them. In former times they used to allow one or two foreigners to enter their country, particularly jews, but at present do not allow any Hindu whom they do not know personally to enter, much less, other people’.

This was how Kashmir, acci­dentally went the Islamic way after six hundred years of advent of Islam in India. The moment guards were lowered and defen­sive measures ignored and skirted away, Kashmir which was already on the target list of Muslim rulers of India became critically vulnerable to all shades of sabotage, subversion and chaos. Two Kashmir kings, Harsa and Suha Dev, could be held as culprits who thoughtlessly permitted persons of doubtful antecedents to enter and stay in Kashmir. Harsa recruited alien Turks in his state army. Suhadev granted munifi­cent patronage to an adventurer, Shah Mir, coming all the way from Swat. His Commander-in-chief, Ram Chander, gave refuge to a Ladakhi prince who otherwise would have been cruelly butchered by the enemies of his clan

The syndrome of over-confi­dence buttressed by high-scale strides and achievements that Kashmiris had registered in all spheres of human knowledge in­cluding abstract thought had made Kashmir rulers lax in matters of defence especially in giving entry to persons of unknown credentials. Having frustrated designs of the invading hordes led by Mahmud Gaznavi must have certainly bolstered up con­fidences graph of the rulers by many nautches. Not cognising the changes in the religious complexion of the immediate neigh­borhoods as effected by Mahmud Gaznavi Hindu rulers stuck to a high moral ground of granting generosity and compassion to fleeing men in pain and distress.

As they breathed an ethos of liberalism, tolerance and mutual accommodation the idea of putting crippling curbs on the for­eigners of any variety never crossed their mind. Shah Mir, though an alien Muslim, was al­lowed unrestricted to come to the top perch of the administrative, apparatus of the land. Rinchen, despite a feuding background had free access to the garrisoned quarters of the army chief of the kingdom. He was granted even a Jagir for sustenance.

Sharf-ud-Din, a Musavi Sayyid, an Islamist missionary was a  Suharwardian in matters of allegiance and practice. The sect was known as Suharwardy as it was founded by Sheikh Zia-ud-Din Abul Suharwardy. One of his prominent disciples Niamat Ullah Farsi had initiated Sharf-ud-Din in the rudimentary for­malities and ritualistic modes of the sect. After being forced out of his birth-land he is credited with having founded the sect in Kashmir after being granted asylum by Suha Dev. Many other Sayyid-Sufis of the same sect had arrived in Kash­mir much before him but they had to move out for want of patronage. As an Integral part of the whole can­vas of Indian civilisation Kashmir had achieved a remarkable name in the domain of religion and science (Alberuni) and as such had riveted the glaring at­tention of religious leaders. The Brahman monks from Kashmir had Sanskritised the borders deep down to the vast swathes of cen­tral Asia, Tibet, China and Mongol lands.

In the meantime Kashmir was plunged into a messy chaos, when Zulju invaded Kashmir with an army of 60,000 soldiers, mostly turks and mongols and reduced it through unprec­edented loot, plunder and detest­able slaughter. In the words of Jonraj, ‘Kashmir presented a piti­ful spectacle. Further pitilessly wailed and moaned when father fought his son. Brother separating from his brother lost him for ever...Depopulated, un­cultivated, grainless and gramineous, the country of Kashmir offered, as it were, the scenario of primal chaos’.

Zulju, cruel and heartless, massacred thousands of Kashmiri Hindus and put them to horrendous cruelties and atrocities. Having looted and destroyed the last bit of grains Hindus, painfully died from starvation and poverty. There was so much of horrifying bloodshed that rivers and rivulets all went gory with the blood of Hindus. Corpses could be seen littering over large spaces of Kashmir. He was so pitiless and tyrannical that he got even wild grass burnt down as it might sustain the blighted Hindus. Fifty thousand Hindus, men, women and children, got perished in a blizzard at the foot-hills of Banihal when Zulju was lashing them along for their sale in the slave market of Turkestan.

In the wake of devastating havoc wrought by the devilish Zulju and his huge army, Ram Chander played a commendable role in repulsing the raid launched by the Gaddies of Kishtwar. Taking advantage of chaos and political instability Rinchen, who had enjoyed full shelter and succour, resorted to a sordid strategy of getting Ram Chander, the army chief of Kash­mir, murdered through his ac­complices from his native place and captured the throne. Thus Kashmir fell into the hands of one who had sought refuge in Kashmir and enjoyed large hearted magnanimity of Kashmiris.

Capturing the throne through deceit and murder, Rinchen, a moral wreck, though diffident and unsteady on his feet yet keen to consolidate his position begged of Deva Swami, a Shavite saint and scholar to al­low him prompt admittance into the Hindu fold. As Hindus detest conversions and have no history of conversions he was flatly re­fused admittance in the faith. But, keenly desirous of indentifying himself with a clus­ter of people, no matter howso­ever small the group, he was led to Sharf-ud-Din, historians say by another outsider Shah Mir for conversions to the faith that he harboured granted him admit­tance into Islam without any for­mal baptisation. It was at a later date that Persian chroniclers as­signed him the name of Sadrud-din, thus lending him legitimacy as a Muslim. But, to Jonraj, a native historian, he was Rinchen who was obstinately refused en­trance into Hindu fold.

Rinchen joined the ranks Muslims only to win support for his deceitful capture of throne from a group of people as inse­cure as he himself was. In psy­chological terms his condition could be diagnosed as that of a paranoid who felt highly insecure and nervous when he found him­self surrounded by the same vast numbers of people who had pit­ied his distressed state as a fugi­tive from Ladakh and granted him refuge. He failed to remain in power as indigenous people through a revolt inflicted a wound on his head thus killing him.

The Persian chroniclers have deliberately woven a myth that Rinchen had spiritual restless­ness which he yearned to be calmed down through expert spiritual guidance at the hands of a preceptor. It is also recorded that Deva Swami, a Shaivite saint and scholar, failed to satisfy his spiritual yearnings and urges. The bitter fact is that Rinchen had no spiritual cultivation and had no spiritual aspirations and yearnings. Showing external al­legiance to Islam was his political chicanery. As evidenced by Jonraj, he was savagely brutal as he ripped open the soft bellies of pregnant women of Ladakhis who were his sworn enemies. There can be much of pith in the statement if it be said that proselytisation campaign in Kashmir was in dire need of one like Rinchen who would serve its ends through Qahran and Jabran (Baharistan). On Sharif-ud-Din’s persistent proddings Rinchen constructed the first-ever  mosque  in  Kashmir.

For Sharf-ud-Din a hospice was built and for its up-keep revenues of a number of villages were assigned to it. A langar-Khanna was established for the poor.

Prior to Rinchen's conversion, he could not build a mosque nor a hospice, nor could be establish a langar-Khanna. It is pertinent to put that Muslim expressions came to be set up only after Islam was adopted a state religion.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel



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