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VITASTA ANNUAL NUMBER: Volume XXXIV (2000-2001)

Decline in Koshur Nagri

Pushkar Nath Dhar

Enough water has flown through Vitasta (Ancient historical name of river Jehlum). This has irrigated and created fertile agriculture land in the valley. Saraswati had created here a unique sect among human beings which was called Kashmiri Pandit (KP) which is the cream of intellegentsia for thousands of years. The water of Vitasta had no utility to the saffron (Kaiser) fields where only fertile special land, natural rain, cool moon light, autmn nights including snow, made these as the best saffron producers in the world. Similarly KPs were bestowed with fertile brains in the fields of educational, cultural, scientific and aesthetic fields as torch bearers in the valley. Among them were saints, poets, sufis, astrologers who had rendered such services which made the valley a Paradise in the world.

There is no denying that KPs were the aborigines and have been reduced to minority by the circumstances of history. KPs which included the ones converted to Islam and thus forming majority population used Koshur language from the time immemorial to keep the identity alive of the original inhabitants of the valley.

There had been time, it is said, when there remained only eleven (11) KP families, rest having been converted or left the valley due to aggression, yet the Kashmiri language remained contineously spoken throughout the valley. History repeated for the last one decade and a year past, en-emasse exodus of KPs at the point of guns rendered them refugees and their forced exile to other parts of India was consequent result. During this period in the valley it is a slow death of Hindu culture. Koshur language started getting defunct leading to its further deterioration and decline of Koshur language, culture and heritage.

After independence Koshur language was accorded due recognition under VIIIth schedule of Indian constitution but the accepted / approved script was Persio-Arabic-Urdu. However history is witness that Koshur language was not given due encouragement or consideration as it deserved being the common spoken language of the vast population of the valley as the Urdu was mainly official language of the Government.

Now so far as KPs are concerned, its historians, writers, authors, poets and litterateurs have different conflicting views about Koshur language and culture. Many leaders have openly declared that Koshur language was never a written language but only spoken by people from mouth to mouth.

All the seminars, conferences, symposia or political meetings are always carried out in English both in the valley as well as outside even though the theme being 'Declining Koshur language and culture'. Unfortunately deliberations and resolutions are also carried out in English language except some random usages of few proverbs, similes or rendering of Koshur poetry.

Irony is that our publications, magazines and news papers advocate to encourage and advise all KPs to keep Koshur alive. It is boldly stated and said "Breathe Kashmiri Read Kashmiri speak Kashmiri." But all this is written in English. This is no doubt considered as international language easily interpretted by all elite, our leaders/writers/authors and poets. Koshur in Persio-Arabic-Urdu script as well as in Dev Nagri script is not easily decyphered by majority of gentlemen KPs either in the valley or outside though former script was prevalant for more than half a century while later script (Nagri) is being tried for two decades now only on experimental basis.

If a survey is carried out in present disintegrated KP society, I am sure hardly one among thousands speaks or converses in Koshur at homes, places of work or meetings. Koshur Samachar Delhi, Khir Bhawani Times of Jammu and Vitasta of Kolkata tried their best to increase Koshur section in their columns with Dev Nagri script but response is very little, discouraging and negligible as compared to the English portion. For example if there are 100 pages in the Magazine, 80 pages are coverd by English, 15 pages by Hindi and hardly 5 pages by Dev Nagri Koshur. All appeals for enhancement and progress of Koshur, appear in my opinion, as dishonest and insincere sin unless and until social and moral formula is made applicable to all our biradari disintegrated members to enforce strict continuation of Koshur conversation at homes, places of work, meetings, seminars symposia etc.

Now it is not a day but eleven long years all KPs have been eliminated from our valley. It is natural for all to have reconciled with the circumstances to have almost half settled at different places outside, lessons from past history can not be forgotten easily. Why then lament for our futile discouragement but try to build bridges among our selves to at least make our next generation realize that if our culture, language or heritage is kept alive, all we have to ponder is how to continue Koshur Nagri script progressing in our homes where ever we may be.

Mailing address : E-4A (MIG), DDA Flats, Mayapuri, New Delhi­110064
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