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VITASTA ANNUAL NUMBER: Volume XXXIV (2000-2001)

Buddhist Themes in Kashmiri Literature

Moti Lal Saqi


Buddhism in Kashmir is older than Asoka and survived till 15th Century

The Valley of Kashmir hailed as the 'Paradise of Indies' has been a crucible of great world civilizations from remote pre-historic times down to the present day. The elements of great world Civilizations are discernable in the composite Kashmiri culture even today. It is worth noting that Kashmiris derived inspiration from all the rich and fertile sources but never surrendered their individuality under any on-slaught, despite many vicissitudes they faced during their history spread over almost five thousand years.

The Valley of Kashmir has been a cradle of numerous faiths and beliefs, which include pagnism, animism, Naga-mata, Koul-Acara, Pasupata-mata, Trika, Sanatana Dharma etc., Buddhism alone, by and large, remained a living faith in the Valley for more or less two thousand years. Though Buddhism lost its ground in the sub-continent during the Gupta period, it remained a living faith in Kashmir even in the 15th century A.D. Benevolent Kashmiri King Budshah (1420-1470 A. D.) had a Buddhist scholar Tilak-Acharya in his council of ministers. It was in the concluding quarter of the 15th century that the last Buddhist monastery was built at Bijbehara, in South Kashmir. The construction of the monastery is a testimony of the fact that the Buddhist faith must have continued even after the 15th century though the later chroniclers failed to record the fate of the Buddhist faith after the 15th century.

Buddhism made its way in Kashmir long before the advent of the reign of the Arya Raja Asoka. As recorded in the national chronicle of Sri Lanka, Mahavamsa, it was Madhiantika who converted Yakhsa Pandita and a Naga to Buddhism in the first instance. There is also a recorded legend that Kum Kum in Kashmir was introduced by Madhiantika.

Buddhism was firmly rooted in the soil of the Valley in 11th century A.D. when the great Tibetan scholar Rin-Chen-Zang-po stayed here for a period of seven years to learn at the feet of Buddhist scholars of this area. It was he who took fresco specialists of Kashmir to the Western Himalayas and got all the important monasteries embellished with paintings. It is the Western Himalayan region today which provides us with ample surviving evidence of the Kashmiri school of wall-paintings and bronzes etc. because after the 15th century the tradition of painting got wiped out in the Valley on account of historical reasons.

Various sects, scholars and Buddhist architecture in Kashmir

Kashmir enjoyed the honour of being the Prayaga, the holy pilgrimate-spot, of Mahayana Buddhism. It was this unique feature that attracted the attention of seeker of truth from far-off countries to it. In seventh century A.D. Hieun-Tseng came to Kashmir and stayed at Jayendra Vihara at Srinagar to attain proficiency in Sunya-vada in the company of Kashmiri scholars. Ou-Kang was another luminary seeking knowledge in this way. Great Kumar Jiva stayed in Kashmir for quite some time to equip himself with the command of Buddhist scriptures. Nagarjuna propounded his concept of Sunya-vada here and was stationed at present-day Harwan as recorded in Rajatarangini. The part played by Kashmiri monks and scholars in the spread of Buddha's message of compassion and fraternity is a glorious part of our history. These monks and preachers covered Central Asia, China and reached even Korea on the one side and Sri Lanka, Java and Sumatra on the other preaching Buddha's Gospel.

Tibetan Tantrayana and Kala-Cakrayana schools owe their origin to Kashmir and Kashmiris. Lamaism of Western Himalayan countries has absorbed many customs and rituals from Kashmir and Nepal. It was because of their perfect knowledge and understanding of Buddhist - lore that preacher monks of Kashmir were designated as Khuchi Pandits (Learned Kashmiris) in the Western Himalayan countries of Ladakh, Tibet, Bhutan and Zanaskar.

There is much truth in the fact that the title of Sharda-Pitha (The throne of the Godess of Learning) bestowed upon Kashmir is actually a gift of Mahayana Buddhism. It was during Kushan rule that Valley became a centre of Sanskrit learning. This legacy was further enriched in later centuries which resulted in giving birth to great luminaries of Sanskrit like Vasu-Gupta, Som-ananda, Bilhana, Mammata, Kalhana, Jaini-Bhatt, Kheshmandra, Soma Deva, Abhinava-Gupta, Jonaraja and Srivara to mention only a few. Most of these scholars and creative writers had a soft corner for Buddhism and gave full credit to its merits.

A remerkable figure of Kashmir was Guna Vermana, of the royal line, who in his early years, renounced his royal entitlements and took to the monastic way of life. He preached the message of Lord Buddha in Sri Lanka, Java and Sumatra and converted kings to Buddhism. After the completion of his mission Gunavermana came back with a sweet gift to his people in the shape of the 'pagoda' style of architecture usually called 'eastern Java type'. It is known in Kashmir Parihaspora, Risi and Charbam style. The 'Pagoda' type of architecture attained great popularity in Kashmir and the best structures of yore in Kashmir represent this type. In present day Kashmir this type is still in vogue and considered sanctified buildings; all prominent shrines particularly those of Rishis, belong to this type. Though Kashmiris have made certain additions and alterations in this type (i.e. they have combined stupa and monastery in one structure) its basic form has not undergone any drastic change. The same old Chatteravali spire and square-base remain to keep its original shape and form in tact. New shrines of this type are built even in the present epoch. The shrine of Nund Rishi at Driyagama is a living specimen of it. Built only a few years back; it is being decorated now in accordance with the old canons.

Wandering Buddhist monks of Kashmir were always on the move, as borne out by various sources of history. On the occasion of inauguration of Anuradhapuram stupa in Sri Lanka, in the remote past, Kashmiri Buddhists constituted the second biggest contingent.

Survivals of Buddhist practices in Kashmir society

Buddhism has left deep and indelible imprints on the life and culture of Kashmiri folk. Though it lost its hold on Kashmir some 450 years back and people do not profess the faith, now its rituals, customs and mythology sustain their life and activities. The custom of Kashmiri Pandits keeping a fast on the eight day of every bright half-of-the moon, known as Atham (Astami) has a close connection with the Buddhist faith; on this day homage used to be paid to the Buddha and Podisattva. Similarly their offering of oblation on the occasion of Huma is made not only to the gods and goddesses of their own pantheon but also to Tri-ratna, Avalokitesh-vara and Tara. In their daily prayers they pay obeisance to Buddhist goddesses, Varahi, Mrici, Locana, Prajana, Rag Ratri, Vajra Ratri and others. Display of sacred relics and shrine-worship are as common among the Kashmiris of today as they must have been prevailed in the hey-day of Buddhism.

Due to its long stay in the Valley, Buddhism virtually shaped the course of Kashmir History. Under its influence two indigenous spiritual schools were born, known as Trika-Darsana and Risi order of mystics. The monotheistic trika system of Kashmir never accepted the authority of the Vedas and discarded the caste system. Its conception of Paramasiva is in fact a subtle from of Sunya-Vada. Kashmir Saivism came into being as a result of historical needs and has served as a bridge between the Buddhism and Hinduism. Kashmir Saivism inherited Vegetarianism from Buddhists and the latter had no difficulty in embracing the Hinduism to a large extent. The rishi order of mystics in Kashmir is more or less an adaptation from Buddhism. Kashmiri rishis, though counted Mussalmans, were vegetarian to the core. They shunned marriage and domestic chores, lived in monasteries and devoted their life to public welfare. Tolerance, compassion, mutual goodwill, respect for each other's faith, and human values, which have moulded our composite culture are marvellous legacy of Buddhism; we cherish, own and practise these values even in this chaotic age also.

Buddhist ideas in old Kashmiri Literature; Lal Ded

Kashmiri Literature took shape as part of our composite culture. The first specimens of Kashmiri language and literature are found in some Saiva works of the 11th century A.D. and Chuma-padas of 12th century A.D. Chum-Samprada as a matter of fact has been an off-shoot of Mahayana.

Sahajayana also has influenced Kashmiri poets through the ages; this was a later sect of Mahayana thus Kashmiri literature was born in the lap of Buddhist-lore. But it was at the hands of Lal Ded (1320-1377 A.D.) and Nund Risi that Kashmiri Poetry struck roots and impressed the minds of the people. Both Lal Ded and Nund Rishi remain unsurpassed, having attained great height of literary effort. All Kashmiri speaking people use Vakhs of Lal Ded and Shruks of Nund Risi for parables and proverbs and their merit and spiritual appeal is accepted by one and all. Lal Ded though basically a Shiva Yogini has a lot in common with Buddhism, and Buddhist themes are enshrined in her Vakhs in a beautiful way. She speaks of the Buddhist Middle path (Madhyana-prati-pat), the furnished Buddhist way of life because it keeps us away from two extreme ways, i.e. life of ease and luxury and the life of rigorous asceticism. Lal Ded herself was a follower of this path she declares her belief thus;

It is no use to fill the belly again and again,
you wont be able to attain any thing;
Do not follow the way of self-mortification;
It will arouse your sense of conceit.
Be moderate in your way of life,
To be moderate is the way to reach the goal.
Wear dress, only to avoid the cold,
Take food only to cope with hunger;
Listen, Oh dear one! think for a while,
You do not need to shed tears for this perishable body. She is totally against the sacrifice of animals, and puts forth powerful arguments to bring home to people the necessity of non-violence and non-injury;
It conceals your nakedness and protects you
from winter chill
It thrives on grass and Water;
Who has initiated you, Oh Pandit;
To sacrifice this living lamb for a non-living idol.
Lal Ded had great veneration for the great Buddha.
In one of her Vakhs she declares
Be he Siva, Vishnu, Buddha or Brahma
I am not bothered about the name or form
I only desire to be cured of my worldly ailment.
Sunya-vada is very close to her heart and she understands that it is the Sunya which is the origin or the source of all things. Lal Ded is the first creative writer who coined the term "Kainhna" for Sunya expressing her experience she says :
I repeatedly enquire from my perceptor
What name shall we give "that" which has no name
My repeated questioning bore no fruit
I fumbled and broke down.
Then I perceived that some thing came out of Sunya.
She in fact accepts that we emerge from Sunya
and are absorbed in Sunya :
Incessantly we come, without a break we go,
this process has no halt, no stop
Whence we come, whence we go
Sunya, Sunya, Sunya and what?
Nund Risi the great patron saint

The great patron saint of Kashmir, Nund Risi (1377-1442 A.D.) has been the centre of adoration for all Kashmiris irrespective of their faith or belief. Mussalmans call him Alamdar-Kashmir (Standard-bearer of Kashmir) and Pandits as Sahaja-Anand (in-born bliss).

Nund Rishi was a Bodisattva incarnate of his times. He not only preached the gospel of love, non violence, compassion and universal brother-hood, but himself lived a pious life of high order. He spent twelve years of his early life in a cave in meditation and when he came out, he composed a long poem Buddha Carita (life of Buddha) now lost. However a few fragments of this long poem are preserved in some Rishi Namas (talks of Rishis). He is believed to be the founder of Rishi order of Kashmir, although we come across references to some ancient Rishis in his longer poem who were his forerunners. Nund Rishi's love for living beings and his firm faith in non-violence and non-injury is proverbial. His compassion and piety has been a source of inspiration for those who followed in his foot-steps. He made his Shrunks (Shaloks) the vehicle of his Risi philosophy and his way of life. As literary figures and mystics both Lal Ded and Nund Rishi are the founders of Kashmiri culture and spiritual renaissance. Stressing his faith in non-violence the latter says :

Do not slay this innocent lamb,
You slay none else but the universal soul,
understand my word of initiation.
All these forms are but the sparks of the ultimate.
He sees all life as a part of one universal self projecting itself in countless forms. He was all love and compassion for the living beings and saw life throbbing in all the objects of nature. It was this intense respect and love for life which made him to give up the food of green-vegetables, to live on milk for some time and in the last phase to sustain himself simply on water, which brought him the title of "Salil-hara-Rishi" (the water-sipping saint). Lamenting the cruelty practised in his times he says with a heavy heart :
They kill that very rooster
Who reminds them that time is running out;
that rooster will not weigh more than a seer
and half;
Where such treatment is meted out to an
innocent being
Great God, I shall not be born there.
This shrunk also gives clear evidence that he was believer in re-birth or transmigration of souls. Once he was passing through a wood and saw maidens plucking spurious vegetables. Moved to tears he addressed them thus;
Why do you pluck these tender vegetables
Why are you after this green attire of mother
earth
Why do you forget thereafter,
Where you have to render the account of
your deeds.
It is to be noted that shruks of Nund Rishi are the vehicle of the teachings of his mystic order. One cannot understand the basic, spirit of the Rishi order unless one has developed an insight into his poetry. Kashmiris read his shruks with great reverence and say it is the holy Quran in Kashmiri, just as Masnavi Maulana Rome is called the holy Quran in Pahalvi i.e. Persian.

Kashmiri mysticism : Sunya Vada :

The under-current of Buddhist thought and themes never ceased to influence the Kashmiri mind at any time particularly with mystics and Darveshes of the land. The most influential concept which moulded the thought of Kashmiri mystics is Sunya Vada. As referred to earlier it was Lal Ded who coined the term "Kainhna" for Sunya, as early as the 14th century. Since then this term appears in our mystic poetry again and again and has attracted the attention of today's mystic poets also. In Kashmiri, mystic poetry constitutes the richest treasure and in its thought-content and statement of spiritual experiences it has enough to quench the thirst of seekers of truth.

All our epoch-making mystic poets have accepted the Sunya as ultimate reality. There is hardly anything in common between Kashmiri "Kainhna" and "Nafi" or "La" of Islamic mysticism or Tasawuf as it is often called. Further all known mystic poets have tried to understand and interpret "Kainhna" according to their experience and perception. The change of faith of mystic poets of Kashmir has not changed their mental world, and their inner self is still preserved in their subconscious mind their old inheritance. So far as their day-to-day life is concerned mystics are very pious Mussalmans but in their thinking and perception of spirituality they still retain Buddhist and in certain cases Shaiva approach. The "Kainhna" of Kashmiri mystics is sometimes nearer to Neti-neti (not this, not this) of Advaita Vedanta, but this philosophy had never its way over Kashmir, Neti-neti of Vedanta (predicating whatever the ultimate is not) is at the sametime one more elaborate inter-pretation of "Sunya".

Advaita Philosophy could not be very close to the Kashmiri mind as Trika was a dominant force in Kashmir at the time when Advaita Vedanta was gaining ground in other parts of the sub-continent. How Kashmiri mystics have treated the theme of Sunya and what its essence was according to their individual understanding and mental discipline can be inferred from some examples :

That which has no form, is encompassing
everything;
What you see is but a ripple.
Ripple by itself is not apart from the waters;
Knower of this truth is free from bondage;
(Ibrahim Shah - 19th Century)
There is nothing behind or beyond but the Sunya;
Everything emerges from its bosom.
It is a riddle to be explained.
I only know that Sunya prevails.
I am only the shade or tool
(Such Kral 19th Century)
Shams Faqir says :
Whence do you come? Whence do you go?
What name do you bear, what is your destination?
What is the essence? reveal
Compliment is a tribute to existence
Whab Khar another poet of Qadri mystic order has understood the Sunya in his own way in terms of his experience :
Ascetics resmble the Sunya
Unity is beyond the Waste-land
Multiplicity cannot enter that realm
I am amazed to witness this phenomenon.
(D - 1912 A.D.)
Another leading poet of Kubravi order Samad Mir (1897-1960 A.D.) sings of his perception in this way:
This cosmos is the Sunya
All our knowledge flows from it
It there is nothing other than Sunya,
To whom shall I pay the obeisance?
I heard of the Sunya and am contemplating.
A towering Sufi poet of our times Ahad Zargar (D - 1983 A.D.) speaks thus of his perception :
Sunya merged in Sunya
My naked eyes witnessed it
What is the cause behind this Sunya
I am bewildered to understand it.
Buddhist ideas in Kashmiri Poetry

Dhyana Marga (path of meditation) was to Buddha the real path to attain perfection reaching the ultimate. In 'Maha-sucak suta' he has expressed his firm faith in this Marga (path). Sufi poets in Kashmir have consciously followed this path and have stressed its importance for the seekers of truth. They preached this path with so much conviction, that their heart felt perceptions got poured out in the shape of spontaneous poetry :

Don't be led astray, follow the path of meditation
Keep mind and life-breath together
The lotus in you will sprout in glory
Be composed; you will be free from torments
Dear : Oh my dear : meditate on "OM"
(Paramananda - 19th Century)
Shah Gafoor speaks of his conviction in this verse :
Nothing in this world is ours as our lot,
Nothing is prize for here-after,
Meditate on 'though art that'
(19th Century)
Follow the path of meditation, understand my word;
What you perceive, keep it a secret;
those who attain are in know of the truth
Our Lord is a Sun amongst the stars.
(Samad Mir D - 1960)
Most of the Kashmiri poets consider this world full of miseries and misfortunes and long to be free from its shackles and bondage. The deceptive appearance of the world has not hindered their perception.

Shamas Faqir a top-ranking mystic has this feeling :

I saw mountains and hillocks ablaze,
All around there was scarcity of water
Alas, I was snared by a green path
And was caught in it.(D-1905)
Gulam Nabi Dilsoz (D-1942) is fully aware of the reality and says in a sad mood :
Make the best use of this moment;
This world is but a market-place of misfortunes
and miseries,
Another poet as man feels :
Evil deeds are the cause of defame
You cannot carry on with this heavy burden;
Every part of your body will be a witness of
your doings;
This world is not of any value to any one.
Modern poetry and drama on Buddhist themes

Master Zinda Kaul (1884-1965) is all praise for Buddha; in one of his poems he recalls :

He is here the cow or sheep, and there the
cat or tiger;
There he is a Buddha, a Shankara, or a Tagore;
And here He is a simpleton like myself
Thus has he come to amuse himself!
Our modern poets and writers have taken to Buddhist themes being very much influenced by the luminous personality of Bhagvan Buddha. They have derived inspiration from Buddhist sources here and there in their poems espousing human values. Moti Lal Kemmu (b-1933) wrote a play 'Tsay' using a Buddhist theme for depicting the undesirability of war. It is a play of unique type in Kashmiri literature. Embodying a protest against war and its repercussions, Kemmu has borrowed freely from history and Buddhist-lore. One of the main characters of the play is Saravajha Mitra, a Kashmiri by birth, and a teacher of university at Taxila.

Kemmu has slightly amended the name of the scholar to Sarvagina Mitra so as to suit the sound palteins of Kashmiri language. The theme has been so handled that the nemesis is seen inevitable. At the end the main characters of the play are overtaken by snow-storm and are buried in it. This play has been well received by all critics and has won the state Cultural Academy award. Its Hindi version appeared a few months back.

Modern Fiction

Avtar Krishnan Rehbar (b-1932) is a known short-story writer and play wright. His well-known short story 'Niravana' brings richness to Kashmiri literature; it views the concept of 'Nirvana contrasting it with painful modern realities. It is pointed out that 'Nirvana' has lost its meaning for present-day man who goes hankering after wealth and sensual pleasure. Rehbar's story embodies his protest against the short sighted materialism of present-day man lamenting at the erosion of values cherished by our fore-fathers. This appealing story has been translated in Urdu, Hindi, Dogri and some other regional languages.

Buddhist values combined with human values

The life and teachings of Lord Buddha have inspired Moti Lal Saqui (b-1936)deeply who has written widely on Buddhist subjects, particularly on contribution of Kashmiris to Buddhism. He has translated a number of Jataka tails into Kashmiri. His poems have an undercurrent of Buddhist philosophy. One of his poem is 'Mrgvan' (Deer-park), in which he has dealt with the subject of attainment of enlightenment of the Buddha and has afterwards set out the chaotic conditions of modern world with cherished values lying in shambles. Frustration discontent, greed, envy and violence have become the order of the day. Buddha's message carries no weight for present-day man and that it is simply a subject of text-books now to be crammed by the students. He feels sad that no Buddha will appear again and there is none to deliver us from the shackles.

At last he left at the dead of night
With a heavy heart and distracted mind
in search of the Invisible;
To perceive Him through his vision, he
carried on austerities for a long long time;
But all this proved of no avail
He got hold of his mind,
gave up chanting of mantras,
crossed the bay of miseries on the boat
of simple words,
touched the pinnacles,
attained the state where words yield to silence.
Now No Buddha is expected to be born;
Sambodhi is a mirage in this age of ours
It is now a part of the text-books,
to be crammed by the students,
in this thick forest of human beings
(Mrguan)
The poem ranked as one lyrical charm has been translated in a number of Indian languages. Modern Kashmiri poet Dina Nath Nadim (1916-1988) (regarded as the tallest of the tall) was the only epoch making poet after Lal Ded. A firm believer in the great human values, Nadim was in love with Buddhist phikosophy, values and the personality of Lord Buddha. It was his firm conviction that Buddha Dharma is basically a path of peace and human brotherhood. In one of his poems he refers to a Buddhist - temple as an abode of peace and tranquality. To hom Lord Buddha was a symbol of love and compassion. In one of his famous poems 'Yi Soun Dunya' (This world of ours) Nadim expresses his feelings in this strain :
This land of ours,
the land of peace and fragrant roses
decked with flowers and decorated with
shaded-Chinars;
It is the land of valiant Arjuna, the big-hearted
man,
Gautama the Buddha is ours,
the harbinger of peace and symbol of love
and affection.
Nadim was a progressive poet and had hardly anything to do with mysticism. But metaphysical speculation brought him very near to the "Kainhna" of mystic poets and Sunya-Vada of Buddhism. Along with his vast studies which drew him very close to Sunya-Vada, the Kashmiri poetic tradition shaped and sharpened his way of thinking. Nadim speaks with high poetic imagination of his perceptions:
This world - a crude reality very much before us
And Sunya - far far away, a vague conception
This world - within the range of experience at all times
And Sunya - just a try to understand what is what
This world - bound within the cycle of time
and Sunya - Always young without the pangs of old age
This world - An amalgam of sweet and sour
and Sunya - Colourless, a journey in the
unknown, a soundless reality.
Arjan Dev Majboor is a poet of stature and has contributed his bit in the furtherance of Kashmiri literature. Majboor is a poet and research scholar of varied interests. He has derived inspiration from ancient sources. His Kathagur (story-teller) is a remarkable poem bringing alive the role of Kashmiris in the development and propagation of Buddhism in the far-off lands of Central Asia, Tibet and other northern parts of Kashmir. A blend of History and poetic imagination gives depth and dimension to the poet's utterances. Majboor's best use of verse-craft and historical knowledge shows up his gifts:
The serene and sweet message of love
and fraternity
Crossed the mountains.
Nagas and Paishaches joined hands
light-houses of
new area dispelled the darkness of the past
Sunya-Vada was absorbed by Trika.
Soom Nath Veer is a poet of the younger generation. Displaying individuality in statement and treatment of themes. His poem Yadasht (remembrance) is a tribute to Buddha and Buddhism :
We enjoyed the pure message of the Buddha,
Carried the banners of brother-hood
Through Khutan, Taskant and Kashgar,
Banished violence,
Followed the path of piety and compassion
This Ashoke Chakra deserves your attention,
Lion and goat quench thirst at the same spot.
The message of universal brotherhood and equality of man has been the key-note of Kashmiri poetry almost for the last six hundred years. It has been a humanistic note all through with poets singing in praise of men and holding human dignity in high esteem. Mehjoor (1885-1952) has praised the composite culture of Kashmir in his melodious songs, again and again and has held up the brother-hood and religious harmony of Kashmir :
Hindus and Mussalmans belong to one family and
one land;
Why should they go astray, why should they be
averse to each other?
Mussalman is milk and Hindu is sugar
Mix the two and enjoy the sweetness.
Abdul Ahad Azad (1903-1948), a junior contemporary of Mehjoor, devoted a major portion of his compositions to speak of his belief and faith in the dignity of man and universal brotherhood. Of all the poets of the 20th Century in Kashmiri, Abdul Ahad Azad has been a crusader without equal against communal passion, hatred coersion and force. His powerful pleas for equality combined with his skill of poetic craft make him a thinker-poet. He speaks thus of the essential human personality, divorced from externals:
You were born as a human being
Where did you embrace Hindu Dharma
and Islam?
Your religion is equality and fraternity.
It is wrong to discriminate between man and man.
Had the eternal been interested to keep religions
and nations apart from one another
Every nation and every faith would have been
provided with a separate land and sky.
His approach to God is stated in these words :
The water that nourshed Kalhana, Gani and Sarfi,
Can that water prove poisonous for you?
Your God is consoled with the temples, mosques
and obeisances,
But my God is pleased with love, equality
and compassion.
Despite the pulls and pressures of the times, Buddhist thought and culture directly or indirectly continue to influence Kashmiri life in this age also as it has allured Kashmiris for centuries earlier. The Buddhist influence has been a balancing factor sustaining and shaping the tolerance of Kashmiri people, who temperamentally avoid religious and communal conflicts and inbalance has harmed none other than Kashmiris as has been observed through the centuries.

Though Buddhism as a religion is no more a living faith in the Kashmiri speaking area of J & K state, its deep-rooted ages old influence is still keeping alive the nourished value of tolerance, brotherfood and respect for all faiths; which are inscribed on the subconscious mind of all Kashmiris.

[The author, (late) Moti Lal Saqi has been an outstanding Kashmiri poet and writer; recipient of Sahitya Academy Award (1981) and a regular contributor to Vitasta, Kolkata. This article is reproduced from Vitasta Annual No. 26, 1991-92]
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