- An Introduction by Sh. G. N. Raina
The history of India has for its landmarks not wars and emperors but saints and scriptures.
- Dr. S. Radhakrishanan
The nations have a history as well as geography. They grow not by the sun and stars, the wind and rain but by the creative Spirits who by precept and practice, work toward the establishment of universal brotherhood of man, overcoming the artificial barriers of caste, creed or colour.
In the last millennium, Kashmir, as also the rest of India, has produced a galaxy of great saints, seers and savants who have enriched, elevated and refined life and helped the people at large in distress. In India, we have had illustrious God-men like Kabir, Tulsi, Surdas, Tuka Ram, Srikrishna Chaitanya, Eknath, Narsi Mehta, Tyagaraja, Dhyaneshwar, Tiruvalluvar, Namdev, Mirabai, Dayanand, Guru Nanak, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Vivekananda, Swami Ram, Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi, Ramana Maharishi, Sri Satya Sai Baba, and Sri Aurobindo. In Kashmir, too, we have had the great fortune of producing greatsaints like Lalleshwari, Rupa Bhawani, Sheikh Nuruddin, Parmanand, Rishipir, Jeewan Shah, Lassa Sahib, Anandji, Ramji, Sahib Kaul, Manas Razdan, Zaikak, Kakaji Mastana, Grata Bab, Ramjoo Tabardar, Vidya Dar, Shankar Razdan, Bhagwaan Gopinath Ji, Kashkak, Sona Kak, Nandlal Ji, Swami Lakshman Joo, Sati Devi and Mathura Devi.
These saints belong to all times and to all nations. They transcend the bonds of communities and conventions, place and time. They are born to serve God by serving His creatures. A saint, a seer and a sage is, indeed an universal phenomenon.
In the present troubled times when the people of the Valley, Kashmiri Pandits in particular, are passing through untold miseries, the only solace comes from our glorious philosophic and spiritual traditions enriched by our saints and sufis. The sayings of Lalla Arifa echo and re- echo to this day. She sang in the language of the masses. A mystic of the purest ray serene, Lalla urged the people to rise above caste, creed and colour and see the light within.
(Siva is all-pervading and present in each particle.
Never differentiate between a Hindu and a Muslim.
If you are shrewd and intelligent, know THY SELF.
There lies acquaintance with god".)
Long after her, Parmanand gave us a recipe for attaining peace of mind.
"SANTOSHI BYALI BHAVI ANAND PHAL"
(Contentment leads to perennial joy and bliss.)
We have not been able to collect details of most of our saints and seers. But a good number of them are represented here and most of these have been drawn from our special numbers issued in the past. We are grateful to the learned authors whose articles on various saints have been reproduced here for the benefit of all, particularly our youth, who, I am sure, will derive inspiration and strength from the lives of these Sages and Seers.
Abhinavagupta was a great scholar and Shaiva teacher, who possessed knowledge in all matters relating to Kashmir Shaivism. The versatility of this genius was recognised in his own time.
Very little is known about Utpala, the great mystic Saint of Kashmir, except that he might have lived somewhere in Nauhatta (Navyut) in Srinagar.
Kashmir has produced many saints, poets and mystics. Among them, Lal Ded is very prominent. In Kashmir, some people consider her a poet, some consider her a holywoman and some consider her a sufi, a yogi, or a devotee of Shiva. Sume even consider her an avtar.
Sheikh Nur-ud-din, endearingly and in veneration called Nunda Rishi, has left an indelible mark on the thinking and culture of all Kashmiris.
Rupa Bhawani was the second great mystic poet of 17th century. She had a great and deep experience of ups and downs of life. The worldly sufferings showed her the path of spiritual life.
Reshi Pir Pandit was one of the greatest saints of Kashmir of the 17th Century A.D. He was a Karmyogin type of a Saint who helped people both in spiritual and temporal pursuits
Riche Ded, an eminent poetess, seer and philosopher of Kashmir, who lived through the twentieth century was shrouded in mystery. It was only twelve years after her death that her literary compositions first saw the light of the day.
Shah Jeewan Shah, an outstanding Saint of the 18th Century was born in Motiyar Mohalla of Rainawari Srinagar (Kashmir). A highly evolved Saint with tremendous spiritual power, his miracles are legion.
Parmanand rose to enviable eminence not only as a saint, but also as a poet articulating spiritual insights. Born in the family of a village Patwari he was named Nanda or Nanda Ram, and his persistent endeavour transformed him into Parmanand (Parma Ananda, i.e. Supreme Bliss).
In the middle of the 19th century AD there lived a Brahmin named Shukdev at Chinkral Mohalla, Srinagar. The Brahmin was a Purohit and lived a pious life. Around 1852 AD (1910 Bikrami), a son was born to him.
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