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VITASTA ANNUAL NUMBER: Volume XXXIV (2000-2001)

Requisites of Kashmirology

Prof. P. N. Pushp

Kashmir's contribution to the heritage of India has been distinct enough to permit the use of a new term, Kashmirology, as an important branch of Indology. Its importance is manifold in terms of myth and legend, custom and tradition, religion and philosophy, language and literature, art and archaeology, and socio-economic as well as political developments in this integral part of India.

But very little of this contribution has so far been adequately explored and assessed, and systematically presented in spite of the pioneering work1 done in many a field such as historio-graphy, folk-lore philosophy and linguistics.

The first significant effort to survey, secure and preserve MSS was made in 1860-65 at the instance of Maharaja Ranbir Singh who unfortunately did not live long enough to see the important works published along with translation as planned. Later on, when the State Research Department was set up in 1902 the publication of the Kashmir Series of Texts and Studies was contemplated and more than six dozen works have appeared since. A remarkable record, no doubt, though very few of these publications meet the demands of critical and scientific editing as understood now. What one misses most in a majority of these is a thorough word-index and a revealing introduction and perhaps, critical or elucidatory notes whereever unavoidable.

Every effort has, therefore, to be made now not only to overcome shortcomings like these, but also to establish Kashmirology on foundations secure and more broad-based, by integrating the isolated bits of earlier research into a comprehensive whole. The emphasis, so far, has been on mere publication of MSS (mostly of religio-philosophical content), and, even the basic tasks like compilation of descriptive catalogues of MSS have all along been lying over for one reason or the other. It is high time, therefore, that these research problems are viewed in a more correlated perspective.

The problem of problems, obviously, continues to be that of salvaging rare MSS and compiling not only Descriptive Catalogues of the collections made (including those of art-pieces and other research material) but also Source-material miscellanies on various aspects of Kashmirology so as to facilitate researches therein?

The problem of compiling a Bibliography of Source-material is no less urgent, but it presupposes a thorough (: both intensive and extensive) survey of all the source-material lying scattered in private collections as well as in the MS libraries of India and the world. Yet a humble beginning3 has to be made with the material noticed so far or accessble with a little effort.

Parallel to this basic task of compilation runs that of bringing out critical editions of important works defectively published or lying unpublished. In this connection it is gratifying to know that the V.V. Research Institute of Hoshiarpur has undertaken to bring out a revised edition of Kalhana's Rajatarangini and critical editions of the later chronicles by Jonaraja, Srivara and Suka. That is surely going to fulfil a longfelt need, but equally pressing is the need of collating these chronicles with their Persian counter-parts (versions or adaptations). Such an endeavour would light up many a dark corner and fill up many a gap in the History of Kashmir. The compilation of a Concordance and a Variorum in this connection would also prove of immense help in reconstructing quite a few lost fragments of our historical narrative as well as in checking up, reconsidering and revising many inaccuracies undetected so far.

Archaeology could have helped a great deal in this endeavour, but unfortunately it has yet to play its full role in digging up the very early layers of Kashmir's historical evolution. The crest of the earth has, no doubt, been scratched at a number of places; but very little digging of the right type has so far taken place except, perhaps, at a site or two. Research scholars would, therefore, feel grateful for any future programme of scientific excavation in Kashmir (including the far flung regions which have yet to feature in a historical account of the State). Meanwhile, a new hand-book on Archaeology in Kashmir with copious illustrations is a pressing need.

The task of bringing out an Encyclopaedia of Kashmirology is no less important, but to realize this objective, a few more preliminary and, therefore, urgent steps are inevitable. Thus, for instance, uptodate and authentic surveys of the various aspects of this heritage have to be made and published with exhaustive indexes. Besides, not only a Biographical Dictionary of the distinguished sons and daughters of Kashmir, such as scholars, writers and thinkers, but also volumes like a Dictionary of Saivism and Sufism have to be compiled. Such a work long overdue, is likely to promote a study of the religio-philosophical history of the land.

A new linguistic survey of the state would, no doubt, be covered by the fothcoming linguistic survey of India, in the near future, but that would hardly justify any delay in the preparation of scientific grammars and linguistic introductions to the mother-tongues spoken in the state; much less in the task of exploring, collecting, and compiling the folklore of the land. Unless these programmes are undertaken, no scientific study of the folk-traditions and the folk-patterns is possible. The preparation of specific vocabularies peculiar to different callings and vocations and spheres of activity has also to be taken up and carried on side by side. That will, incidentally help in collecting genuine source-material for the compilation of authentic dictionaries of the various mother-tongues spoken in the State, including a Thesauras and integrated multilingual vocabularies of all these tongues with English, Hindi and Urdu parallels. The indispensability of this source-material can hardly be overemphasized; for, a dictionary is not merely an alphabetical list of coinages or terminologies, but has to derive sanction from some sort of diction whether preserved in the written treasures or alive in the oral tradition. The programme therefore, calls for the constitution of a Folklore Squad of half a dozen competent young scholars trained in the technique of exploration as well as scientific notation of folklore material and equipped with a tape-recorder for the purpose. The material thus collected, would prepare the ground for anthropological studies also and provide a correct perspective for researches in the cultural evolution of Kashmir.

These, in brief are the requisites of Kashmirology which have to be minded by all workers in the field.

Notes and References

1. Cf. p. 8

2. Accordingly, the Department is at present working on the following, scheduled to appear in 1960-61 :

 Catalogue : Vol. 1 (Historiography) ; and

 Miscellany : Vol. 1 (Zainul-a'bidin and His Times)

3. With this idea in view a comprehensive survey of MS S lying undetected or unutilized in the various regions of the State is under consideration by the Department which proposes to bring out a Literary History of Kashmir in three Vols. during (1960-63.)

[Excerpted from : 'The Literary Heritage of Kashmir' (1985). Edited by K. L. Kalla, Mittal Publications, The author (late) Prof. P. N. Pushp has been a renowned professor, linguist and scholar that Kashmir has produced. He has also been the former Director, Research, Libraries and Museums, J&K Government, Srinagar]
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