Prof. M.L. Koul

Prof. M.L. Koul

Prof. Mohan Lal Koul

With a brilliant academic record which includes three post-graduate degrees in English, Hindi, Sanskrit and B.Ed. from the University of Kashmir, Prof. Mohan Lal Koul served various academic colleges of Jammu & Kashmir State. As a student he was affiliated with the left -wing politics and zealously participated in cultural activities organised under the aegis of various cultural fora. He taught Kashmir Shaivism at Benars Hindu University as a visiting professor under U.G.C scheme. He also acted as an advisor of DAV Institutions in Delhi.

Apart from contributing articles to papers and journals on subjects related to history, culture, aesthetics and philosophy, Prof. Koul has authored a book on Kashmir crisis titled as "Kashmir-Past and Present, Unravelling the Mystique", which has been broadly appreciated for the documentation of facts and features about the fundamentalist developments in Kashmir.

In his brilliant foreword to the book Shri T.N. Chaturvedi, a scholar- politician, has put, "Shri Koul deserves all commendation for writing a book which helps to illumine many dark corners. It is a scholarly and documented work without being ponderous. It is a authentic in its composition and unsparing in its presentation of even unpalatable facts."

His writings have served to de-mythologise Kashmir's medieval and modern history.



Pt. Hargopal Koul - The Lion Of Kashmir

By Prof. M.L. Koul

The multi-faceted personality, Pandit Hargopal Koul Khasta, popularly known as the lion of Kashmir, was an ardent patriot and a dominating intellectual of his times. The ancestors of his illustrious family had migrated to the Punjab, probably in search of livelihood, in the Sikh times. In one of his works he makes a mention of the migration of his ancestors to the Punjab, but does not divulge of fuller details about the motivating causes of their voluntary migration. His young brother, Salig Ram Koul Salik, writes about his family having lived in Punjab for three generations. As per the details available from Pandit Hargopal Koul and his brother, Salig Ram Koul, it can be safely established that Pandit Gasha Koul was their great grand-father and Pandit Ram Chand Koul was their grand father. Both of them had scholarly bent of mind and Kashmir Shaivism was their forte. The maternal grand-father of Pandit Hargopal Koul was Pandit Ved Ram Mattoo, a grandee (rais) in the cruel times of Afghans. As he belonged to an illustrious family, Pandit Hargopal Koul instinctively perpetuated the rich family tradition through his forays into the domains of poetry, history, politics,  journalism, education and social reform. In Kashmir he is better known as an untiring crusader who highlighted and fought for the social and political causes that had lot many ramifications  for transforming the over-all complexion of Kashmiri society as a whole. He was gutsy and faced once the wrath of Maharaja Ranbir Singh with exemplary courage and aplomb. He did not dither but set the Maharaja  thinking through his bold responses to the false, and acrimonious accusations that were coined by the conspiring elements in the court.

The ancestors of Pandit Hargopal had some chunks of land at Reyiteng in Rainawari, Srinagar but because of its unproductivity they could not, wholly depend on it as a safe source of sustenance and had thought of migration in search of a living. Most of his ancestors were in the British service. Pandit Kailash Nath Koul, who was his uncle was an employee of the Settlement Department in Ludhiana. While in the Punjab, Pandit Hargopal Koul had joined a school as a teacher. It is buttressed by the hint, that he throws in the introduction to his work, Gulzari-Fawayid'. In his work 'The History of Kashmiri Pandits', Pandit Jia Lal Koul Kilam writes that Pandit Hargopal Koul was in the British service and was entrusted with some jobs political in nature. That he was in such service is supported by Pandit Hargopal's own statement about his transfer to Shimla from Patiala. As a teacher in Lahore he had established contacts with many Englishmen and Indian scholars responsible for shaping the political and literary ethos of the Punjab. The'Guldasta-i- Kashmir' makes a mention of his having sent the book to Col. Halride for his study and comments.

Being thoughtful and intellectually vibrant Pandit Hargopal Koul could not escape the impact of western ideas that were fast impacting  the politics, education and thinking patterns of the natives. Lured back to Kashmir by the good times that were ushered in by Maharaja Ranbir Singh Pandit Hargopal Koul pioneered a plethora of political, social and educational activities that are a clinching witness to his renaissance spirit of revival and transformation. He zealously made concerted efforts to put the Kashmiri life-pattern on new rails of change, reform and revival for a new orientation and intellectual awakening. The western ideas that he had imbibed during his stay in thePunjab made him an ardent votary of change but he spurned the type of change that would erode the fundamental identity of the natives as one bonded ethnic group. Renaissance, to him, meant change based on reform and purging of pernicious social evils, yet he was in no-way for the uprootment and dislocation of his people from their historically and culturally evolved mould and ethos.

While in the Punjab Pandit Hargopal Koul had rubbed shoulders with the prominent leaders of Arya Samaj who had spearheaded a powerful campaign against the evils that had crept into the Hindu society. As an intellectual of great calibre he totally rejected the tinsel tampering that the Arya Samajists had indulged in with some of the august beliefs and doctrines of the Hindus. He was for widow-remarriage but bitterly opposed the Arya Samaj campaign against idol-worship. His long association with Arya Samaj in the Punjab was highly prized by its leaders for the terrific oratory that he harnessed to expand the mass base for the reform movement launched by Arya Samaj. In Kashmir his campaign for widow-remarriage was lost on deaf ears as Kashmiri Pandits, though progressive in mind and outlook, detested it. But Pandit Hargopal Koul continued with the campaign and never relented. He was both tenacious and audacious in the pursuit of a cause for social and political upliftment of his people and no opposition, weak or strong could deter and thwart him-in his tracks.

As an active participant in the educational and reform movements of the Punjab, Pandit Hargopal Koul had developed and cultivated thick contacts not only with some Hindu leaders, but also with a few influential Englishmen having an aptitude for education and research. Though conscious of the British ascendancy in India, yet he detested the role of the Christian missionaries artfully engaged in the conversionary campaigns in the Punjab and elsewhere. He was a part and parcel of the Arya Samaj movement in its opposition to the Christian missionaries and its positive role in strengthening the Hindu society purged of its corroding fault-lines. His intellectual approach to the complex problem of reform in Hindu society was to cement, when shorn of its evils for progress and advancement on modern lines as blazed by the Britishers. A Hindu society freed from debilitating evil customs would automatically detest and fight back the missionaries out to convert its members through state patronage and lure of money.

As he had strong affinities with Arya Samaj, he had studied Satyartha-Prakash - a major work that had dealt with the doctrinal positions of Islam and Christianity. His stay in the Punjab had brought him face to face with the Muslim communalism which ultimately led to the partition of India based on two-nation theory. Though a thorough liberal in his world-view, Pandit Hargopal Koul Khasta found himself in a piquant situation when a mullah, who had trespassed into his privacy, cried foul of heresy when he was vigorously asked to remove the trespass. The mullah was beaten and his room ransacked for his defiant attitude. With a view to garnering support from his co-religionists the mullah accused him of insulting the holy book which as per him he was teaching to a few students in the room. There were noisy demonstrations against this alleged act of Pandit Hargopal Koul. The government of Ranbir Singh detained him and instituted a criminal case against him. As a person of inexplicable guts and valour Pandit Hargopal Koul faced the situation with cool and  calm mind. The charge as levelled against him by the mullah could not be upheld by the court and Pandit Hargopal was honourably released. But the ruler externed him from Kashmir ostensibly to maintain public peace.

Pandit Hargopal Koul was the last man to compromise with Muslim Communalism. He was no Prem Nath Bazaz who pandered Muslim communalism and offered  dubious and devious explanations for the loot of Kashmiri Pandits in 1931. Pandit Hargopal Koul through one of his curt and straight retorts to a mob reminded it of the petition that Muslims had made to the Maharaja for granting them entry into their original religion. It is said that the mob appreciated his frank audacity to tell the truth to its face and quietly withdrew from the scene. His trial in a court of Srinagar attracted lots of angry crowds and Pandit Hargopal's bold defiance is too well-known to be reiterated.

The much publicized mullah-episode involving Pandit Hargopal Koul followed the serious involvement that he had in the petition that some mischievous people had made to the British government in the wake of a terrible famine that ravaged Kashmir in 1876 A.D. As a dominant and unique personality of his times Pandit Hargopal Koul had won kudos and detraction from those who highly appreciated his role in the polity and those who detested him for all what he did. Kashmir as always has been a notorious breeding ground of rumours and people being strangely sentimental, for historical reasons, are immediately swayed by them. As the famine took its heavy toll a rumour was mischievously set afloat that Maharaja Ranbir Singh carried boatfuls of Muslims and drowned them into the choppy waters of Wullar lake. The British Government instituted an enquiry into the allegation. The British officer asked the Pandit to present himself before the enquiry officer. Alarmed in the least by the developments Pandit Hargopal Koul did go to the Durbar and audaciously asked the Britisher who the prosecutor was and who was the judge. The officer said that it was 'sircar'. Pandit Hargopal Koul flared up and fearlessly said that it was inconceivably strange justice where the prosecutor and the judge were the same person. The Maharaja on the throne lost his royal cool and was about to pounce on the Pandit when Wazir Punnu stopped him in his tracks. The Maharaja, though responsible for a new renaissance in Kashmir, failed to comprehend that the British were the source of the mischief and were capitalising on it only to force his climb down on the issue of his non-acceptance of a resident in his court supposed to safe-guard the imperial interests in the state.

The charge against Pandit Hargopal Koul could not be legally proved. Yet the Maharaja ordered his imprisonment. He and his brother Pandit Salig Ram Koul Salik were ordered to be lodged in the Bahu Fort in Jammu. During their incarceration in the fort both the brothers prayed, studied and indulged in acts purporting deliberate defiance of the royal authority. Once they caught hold of the prison officer, who was a close relation of Maharaja Ranbir Singh, and gave him a thrashing. A dogra lady witnessing the scene got convinced of their being courageous and out of regards used to bring them food from her home for the period they were in the prison. One fine morning, there was commotion in the prison and it was found that Salig Ram Koul had disappeared from the prison. On thorough inspection the authorities shockingly discovered that he had dug a tunnel in his cell through which he had made good his escape to an unknown destination. Pandit Hargopal Koul vociferously accused the Maharaja of getting his younger brother brutally killed with impunity. The Maharaja launched an enquiry and informed Pandit Hargopal that his brother had fled to Patiala where he had started a paper to denounce him and his ways of governance.

Pandit Hargopal Koul as the prominent leader of Kashmir heralded a movement that clamorously opposed the monopoly of the Punjabis and Bengalis in the state services. The Maharaja pursued a policy which ignored the interests of indigenous Kashmiris and imported officers from outside the state. The Kashmiri Pandits having opted for modern education with English as the medium of instruction were in the vanguard of the movement. Both Pandit Hargopal Koul and Pandit Salig Ram koul ably highlighted the demands of mulkis (locals) and established contacts with the people of Jammu, thus giving the movement a new pace and acceleration. Maharaja Partap Singh was quick enough to recognise merit of the demand through the concerted efforts of koul brothers. In Maharaja Hari Singh's time the demand gathered a new momentum when a conference on the issue was held at Jammu under the presidentship of Pandit Jia Lal Koul Killam. The movement is also known as State-Subject Movement. It had no political overtones. It was in no way repugnant to any political alignment that the state would forge in view of new political developments in the sub-continent. Pandit Hargopal Koul was an Indian patriot who always saw future of the state as part of a political system guaranteeing personal liberty and equality before law.

Pandit Hargopal Koul had tremendous journalistic calibre and abilities which he had amply demonstrated through his, powerful writings in Punjab. The topics which found elucidation at his hands pertained to social reform, education and current problems. The deft handling and elaboration of moot problems helped him a lot in carving out a niche for himself in political, social and educational circles of the day. His externment at the  hands of Maharaja Ranbir Singh, who had great respect for him, was a dominant theme of his writings. He had hate-love relationship with the Maharajas of Kashmir. As per Mohd. Din Fauq Pandit Hargopal Koul issued a weekly 'Khair-KhwahiKashmir' from Lahore which he used as a potent vehicle for bitter criticism of the Maharaja as he had unjusty expelled him from Kashmir to appease Muslims. When in the good books of Maharaja he was placed in-charge off the Publication of the 'Tohfai-Kashmir' and all matters relating to its management. At the recommendation of Dewan Anant Ram he was given the charge of over-seeing all the journalistic activities in the state which he performed so efficiently that Maharaja recognised him as an able intellectual of his state. As part of his official duties Pandit Hargopal would read out to the Maharaja the contents of all the papers issued within the state.

During the years of his externment in Punjab Pandit Hargopal Koul issued a paper 'Ravi-Benazir' and 'Subaha Kashmir' from Amritsar. Later on, through the paper he vigorously crusaded against the Britishers who had deposed Maharaja Partap Singh, shorn him of his powers and installed a regency council with his rivals as its members. The campaign in the press was so vigorous and consistent that the Britishers got exposed for their conspiracy against the Maharaja. Partap Singh could not be kept away from his throne and all the royal powers were restored to him. Pandit Hargopal was allowed to return to his native place and people of all shades accorded him a rousing reception only to justify his sobriquet of 'lion of Kashmir', which at a  later date was appropriated by Sheikh Abdullah.

Having the vision and comprehension of an educationist Pandit Hargopal Koul ably pioneered a plethora of educational activities that had marked bearing on the transformative processes of the Kashmiri society stepped in conservatism. Who else but him could visualise the importance of imparting education to a girl child? For this purpose, despite the stiff opposition of the social conservatives of all shades, he founded a girls school under the head-ship of his own daughter, Shrimati Padmavati, a legendary figure in the educational history of Kashmir. The school flourished beyond expectations and attracted girls from all classes of people. A chain of seven such schools was opened in the different localities of Srinagar to serve the enslaved girls only to usher them into a new  era of glittering enlightmenment. The government of the day did not fail to duly recognise the educational importance of girls' schools and formed a committee for their effective upkeep and management with Pandit Hargopal Koul as the President.

A veritable pioneer in the field of modern education in Kashmir, Pandit Hargopal Koul founded a Hindu school for boys as well. Over the years the school was upgraded and christened as Sri Partap College which has played a brilliant and commendable role as a centre of academics in giving a new fillip to modern education in Kashmir. It is pertinent  to put that his younger brother, Salig Ram Koul Salik, equally a genius, was also involved in all such pioneering activities in the domain of education in Kashmir. Both of them in complete unison founded some arts and crafts schools where vocational training was imparted to the entrants. Some new-type Anglo-vernacular schools were started which combined the teaching of local languages alongwith English alphabets only to prepare scholars for a better future.

Pandit Hargopal Koul was a scholarly historian in his own right. His much acclaimed work on history titled as 'Guldasta-i-Kashmir' establishes him as a historian of genuine credentials. His awareness of the tools of history enabled him to go to the sources of Kashmir history and geography. For his initiation in Rajtarangini as the magnum opus of Kashmir history, Pandit Hargopal Koul sought the aid of Pandit Damodar Bhat, an erudite scholar of Sanskrit. He also studied the Nilmatpuran and a plethora of Mahatamyas including 'Sharika Mahatamya' and 'Vitasta Mahatamya'. Persian historians like Narayan Koul Aziz and Birbal Kachru and travel accounts of foreign travellers could not escape his notice. In order to gain thorough knowledge ofKashmir geography and topography he visited innumerable places of historical and geographical significance in the Valley. His Guldasta-i-Kashmir' gives us a historical account of Kashmir from ancient times to the period of Maharaja Partap Singh. The history is written in free flowing style in Urdu and has impacted the popular mind in a large measure. The prologue to the book informs that the erudite Pandit had sent it to Col. Halride who was the Director of the Punjab Department of Education for his critical evaluation and comments.

That he was invested with the sensibilities of a poet as well is established by the type of poetry he has penned down for posterity to get a feel of the times he lived in. He wrote both in Persian and Urdu. He was a master of mathnavi and the same is buttressed by his 'Gopalnama' in which he dilates upon his externment by the Maharaja from his native place. The legend of 'Hemal andNagirai' was also dilated upon in the mathnavi form and style, but the work is not available. Some of his available gazals establish his capacity to express himself in this form of poetry as well. The gazal at the end of his'Gulzari Fawayid' is translated here to help the readers get a feel of his sensibilities.

What I saw in the world

is God's glory and manifestation everywhere

I saw the world as free

Whatever I saw is subject to death and decay

The breath in a man is not lasting

The breath always I saw fleeting away

In the meshes of the world

I saw close kins getting drowned

I, Khasta, searched every nook

but was unable to find a kin in adversity.

Pandit Hargopal Koul Khasta, as a dominating and innovative personality of his times inspires us even today . With him as our guide and philosopher the exiled Pandit community will certainly emerge out of the crisis for a new political role of giving a tough battle to the forces that are out to separate the state from the constitutional dispensation of Indian nation-state with the aid of Muslim international with its hub in Pakistan.

Tej Narayan Kak - An Appraisal

Translated by M.L. Koul

TEJ NARAYAN KAK who was a writer, poet and deft story writer practically died unwept, unsung and unhonoured. His death on 14th December, 1998 at the ripe age of 84 in the city of Jodhpur failed to earn media attention. Even the literary circles perhaps not acquainted with his trend-setting contributions to the domain of Hindi prose did not moot a simple resolution to condole his demise. In fact, the new generation writers are totally unaware of Tej Naryan Kak who commenced his literary career in post-Dwedi era and made a mark as a pioneer in the evolution of poetic prose as a specific genre.

Prose alone was not his forte. Tej Narayan possessed a variegated genius which found prolific expression in the delicacies of poetry, in the subtle drawal of characters struggling in tangled situations and more than most in the incisive analysis of issues of criticism. His contributions to the manifold forms of literature were published in the contemporary journals and magazines like Saraswati, Madhuri and Sudha. The famous personalities of the stature of Ram Chander Shukla, Shyam Sunder Das, Maithili Sharan Gupta and Prem Chand were unanimous in recognising the prolific genius and tremendous creative faculities of Tej Narayan Kak.

The ancestors of Tej Narayan Kak had migrated to the heat and dust of plains during the tyrannical rule of Afghans in Kashmir. An ancestor of the family, Shiva Narayan Kak, had migrated from the lust-green valley with a view to saving his skin and faith and had settled in the desert lands of Marwar in Rajasthan. The grand-father of Tej Narayan Kak was a man of high degree status who strutted the corridors of power in Jaipur and Udaipur. His uncle. Pandit Dharam Narayan Kak, was the Deputy Chief Miinister of the State of Jodhpur and continued to hold the position till 1946. Having been born in such an aristocratic family, Tej Narayan was well looked after and put to educative processes in the reputed schools and colleges of Allahabad, Lucknow and Nagpur. In addition to a degree in Law, he assiduously earned post-graduate degrees in English and Hindi. With such educational endowments he joined the administrative services of the state of Jodhpur and retired as an IAS officer in 1972.

Tej Narayan took to writing prose right from his student days. He wrote poetic prose which had taken birth in the Dwedi era and flowered as an independent genre during the romantic period. In the domain of poetic prose.

Tej Narayan Kak enjoyed an equal footing with the pioneers of the genre namely Rai Krishan Das, Chatur Sen Shastri, Dr Raghunath Singh and Mrs Dinesh Dalmia. Poetic prose is characterized by the predominance of Rasa and sensibility and can be differentiated from simple prose by its attributes of music, ornamentation and Rasa. ‘Madira’ as his first collection of poetic prose was published in 1935. Two more collections titled as ‘Nirjar’ and ‘Pashan’ were published in 1943 and earned tremendous appreciation from scholarly cricles. Acharya Ram Chander Shukla fully appreciated and lauded the musical prose that Tej Narayan Kak wrote with absolute finesse. Dr Shaym Sunder Das as an erudite scholar and dojen of Hindi literature placed his ‘prose songs’ in an incomparable category, much superior to those who wrote the same type of prose. In his introduction to one of his poetic prose collections Dr Amar Nath Jha candidly appreciated the beauty, ornamentation and subtlety of his writings. Dilating on some samples of his prose Dr Jha lavished all praise on the author for the lucidity of his expression and enrobement of his prose with romantic sentiments and nuances. Tej Narayan Kak started writing short-stories in a period dominated by the awe-inspiring personality of Prem Chand who was a skilled craftsman none to excel him. He won full-throated appreciation as a story writer. His story ‘Myna’ was rated as the best at a short-story session held at the Prayag University Campus in 1935. The Sudha, Saraswati, Madhuri and other journals and magazines went on publishing his short stories till the fourth decade of this century. He was also a master translator. He translated the short stories of Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allen Poe and O’Henry. Tej Narayan was also a poet who had a full feel of his timers. He wrote the patriotic poems after the pattern of poets following the trend set by the prime mover of the era. He also wrote poems pervading with romantic sentiments. Till 1947 his three poetry collections titled as ‘Bansuri’,

‘Mukhti Ki Mashal’ and ‘Jeewan Jwala’ had been published and had drawn attention and appreciation on the part of literary masters. ‘Rakhta Kamal’ contains poems that are replete with patriotic, zeal and fervour. The poet sticks fast to the view that freedom does not come on mere asking but has to be earned with the spilling of blood.

Kis se padi hai jo aayega

Sat Samandar par!

Tere liye layega

Anupam swatantrata uphar!

Kabi kisi ne kutch paya hai

Anunany kar kar hath pasar!

Mukhti milegee tuje hath mai

Tere jag hogi talwar!

Who bothes to come to you

across the seven oceans.

Who minds to come to you

with the unique gift of freedom

Has anyone achieved anything

with hands spread outlike a beggar?

You will gain freedom

when you wield a sword fearlessly.

In the poems of ‘Rakhta Kamal’ Dr Prabhakar Machwe found the tendencies of progressivism which at a later date came to hold sway over the entire realms of poetic expressions. Dr Gulab Rai felt in them the bubbling spirit of revolution. Dr Ram Kumar Verma was so deeply impacted by the poems that he felt obliged to evaluate them as superb in conception and execution. Tej Narayan Kak as a sensitive poet could not avoid the impact of a new trend of poetry which came to be termed as ‘Chayavad’ in the annals of Hindi poetry. In reality, his poetry was multi-layered and multi-coloured. He wrote poems brimming with sensuousness reflecting the deep influence of poets like Bihari and others. He harnessed his poetic faculties and sensitivities to translate excellent poems from many other regional languages. Some such poems are found in his anthology titled as ‘Vichitra’ published in 1949. The poems that are soaked in maddening love relationships between man and woman are a hall-mark of his poetic sensitivities.

In vastrui mai chippi huee

tumhari dehyashti

Aaisi lag rahi hai mano

Jeene megui ke aavaran mai

Chippi huee vidut-lata-ya

Neel sarowar kee lahriyi mai bal khati hui kamal naal!


In these garments lies hidden

your body-form

and appears as if the lightning-creeper

is hidden in a thin covering of clouds


Looks like a lotus-stalk

moving to and fro in the blue waters of a lake.

He has seen the rapturous joy of man-woman relationships in the background setting of nature and its sights and sound and he writes-

I am a man

I yearn for the company of a woman.

See that tree

It has entwined a vine, slend and thin,

round its burning bosom.

See that vast expanse of an ocean

it hides numerous youth-bubbling

streams in its lap.

The horizon of the poet encompasses manifold emotions, feelings and stirring sentiments. He imagines of love-fires of his beloved in the descending shadows of dusk and of dense hair-plaits of his love in the dense dark watches of night.

This evening

is colourful like your love

but has the potential to burn.

and this night

is intense dark like your hair-locks.

Tej Narayan Kak gave forceful vent to his patriotic fervour in his poetic outpourings and followed the style of romantic poets. It appeared that he would find it immensely difficult to put his feelings, felt and lived, in Braj which had found extreme refinement at the hands of Surdas. Surprisingly, Kak wrote in Braj and made it a plastic medium for the expression of love, sensuous and voluptuous, in a manner that he rivals Bihari, a brilliant poet of the erotica. The dohas that he has written in Braj are original and vivacious yet they are deeply impacted by the style, manner and thought content of Bihari.

Tej Narayan Kak made successful attempts at translating poems and metaphors into Hindi from their originals in regional languages. He translated the ‘Nasidiya Sukta’ into Hindi and also the hymns addressed to ‘Indra’, ‘Agni’, ‘Usha’s’ & ‘Surya’. He was deft at translating poems from European languages into Hindi. George Russel, Robert Frost and Davis are some of the European poets whom he has translated into Hindi, thus enriching the native languages through such translations. He was highly enamoured of Rabindra Nath Tagore whom he has profusely translated. He was also influenced by Urdu poetry which gets reflected in some of his dohas written in Hindi or Braj. Tej Narayan Kak is known for his experiments in the field of essay-writing and critical appreciation. His essays are collected in a work titled ‘Indradanush’. He has also evaluated four prose-writers of Hindi in a work published in 1983. He was fully aware of the tools that make one a successful critic of literature. Kak lived his life away from public gaze. That is how his death did not get splashed in the media.

Nilkanth Gurtu: The Last Kashmiri Pundit

'Although we wear this sheet with ever so much care, it has to be given up even as it’--Kabir

By Prof. M.L. Koul

TO the utter shock and grief of scholarly circles, Prof. Nila Kanth Gurtu left this mortal world on 18th Dec., 2008, after having suffered the blisters and bruises caused by the Alzeimers disease.

Nilkanth Gurtu

Prof. Nilkanth Gurtu

Prof. Gurtu was a gentleman par excellence. He was a perfect shavite in word and above all highly obliging. He was a perfect shavite in word and deed. He was at peace with himself and peace with the world all around him. He bore no ill-will against anybody nor had others any reason to bear animosity unto him. ‘Ajatshatru’ is the apt word to describe his character, demeanour and manner. I believe he lived his allotted length of life meaningfully, puruposefully and more than most gracefully.

Assiduous pursuit of Sanskrit scholarship, especially the theoretical and esoteric knowledge enshrined in the Sahiva texts was his sole pre-occupation. He possessed a golden heart and a scintillating head. His depth of understanding of the seminal shaiva texts was phenomenal and amazing. Though the borders between a professor and a pundit often blur.

Yet I would call him a pundit, a real Pandit, a historically conscious pandit. In the words of Bhagwatgita, he could be called a 'sthith prajmna' and a 'sanyasi' if sanyas means consciously ignoring ordinary desires that encase and engulf the mind of a man. 'Kamyanam karmana nyasam'.

Prof. Gurtu had a father, who loved Sanskrit lore and learning and was a shaiva practitioner too. He was responsible for moulding his son in such a domain of learning as was shunned by many Kashmiri Pandits because of the existential insecurity caused by the oppressive Muslim rule. He was put to a traditional seminary which alone could shape him out in the field that his respectable father had chosen for his son. It was not a 'run of the mill' decision  that the father, a lover of Sanskrit, had made. Despite opposition from near and dear ones, hassled by the father's decision, the  decisive will of Prof. Gurtu's father prevailed. And the pupil continued with the curriculum as was prescribed by the then university of the Punjab. The son worked hard to earn the degree of 'Shastri';, equivalent to graduation in Sanskrit, just at the age of seventeen causing consternation in the student population of those days.

Initially Pt. J.N. Dhar and Pt. M.N. Nehru initiated Prof. Gurtu in the general studies in Sanskrit. Pt. Lalkak Langoo and Harbhatt Shastri, awesome scholars of Sanskrit, furthered and deepened his understanding and grip of Sanskrit grammar, linguistics, and aesthetics.

Having earned two masters in Sanskrit and Hindi, Prof. Gurtu joined a government run academic college and rose too the status of a full-fledged professor of Sanskrit. In this capacity he served many an academic institution of the J&K State. Prior to his join the college department, he had a short stint in the Research Department of the state that was set up by Maharaja Ranbir Singh, who was responsible for the renaissance in the domain of Sanskrit learning and research in the state.

Prof. Gurtu was a great scholar of Kashmir Shaivism, which he would always nomenclature as 'Shaivadvai' philosophy of Kashmir as the name, was assigned to this strand of thought by Abhinavgupta, an unrivalled erudite of the said-philosophy. In the specific regime of Shaiva thought Prof. Gurtu was initiated and guided by Swami Laxman Joo Maharaja at the hermitage at Ishber, near the Nishat Garden. He was an ardent devotee of Swami Ji, who infused a bubbling spirit and  enthusiasm among his devotees to learn the seminal texts of the indigenous Shaiva though. He was a learned devotee of the Saint of Isbher and naturally got more benefited than many others in acquiring the knowledge of the subject and it is amply authenticated by the books authored by him. He began as a devotee of the saint and died as his devotee. The saint had bestowed such 'shaktipat' on his devotee as had enabled him to leave a fine yarn of the shaiva thought in glittering language and express the subtleties of the though in highly expressive language. To me he always appeared as a Pundit because of his analysis of the issues related to Shaiva thought. He would always start with language, texture and context and then the clarifications and expositions would follow. In one of my brushes with him, I pointed out word and meaning make poetry (Shabada-arthav kavyan), he retorted--word and meaning do make poetry (Shaibda-Arthav Nanu Kayam).

Unlike many other Shaiva scholars Prof. Gurtu had an extensive study of the five schools of Indian thought. Focused on the Shaiva thought as he was, it was with great ease that he could relate the Shaiva positions on broad theoretical issues with the positions exposited in all systems of the Indian thought. He was a great expositor, his explanations would be quite lucid and language apt and selective. He had the skill of an orator to choose his words directly touching the grooves and ridges of the brain-membrane of the audience. His teaching of the Bhagwatgita at the Ishber Hermitage would hold his audience as if in a magical spell. The gift of the gab and perfect understanding of the philosophical issues are what distinguished him from his illustrious teacher, Dr Balji Nath Pandit, who had an equal share in fashioning the cerebral capacities of Prof. Gurtu.

Prof. Gurtu as a theoretician did not rest his oars at the mere knowledge of the Shaiva thought, but as required by the thought itself he was a devotee, a bhakhta, of Lord Shiva. The brilliant verses from Shiva-stotravali of Utpaldev, were on the tip of his tongue and he would recite them lovingly and liltingly as if he were in a recaptures and hilarious flight. Then the explanations would gush out with firm emphasis on Shaiva Bhakti which is certainly a different cup of tea from the types of devotion as are found in other systems of thought. 'Separation' and 'Union' as two phases in the domain of Bhakhti became lucid clear with the quotes from the Shiva Strotravali. Aware of my background he once softly introduced a mantra to me which I could not practise because of the genocide that our community had to face a the hand of the cruel Jehadists. He as an exilee in Delhi continued with his practices and I could not, not because of lack of faith, but because of existential angst and pain caused by a phenomenon of total annihilation. As a high brow spiritualist he took it as a phase in Shiva sport. But thoroughly mundane in approach and premis I took to the writing of history of genocide that Kashmiri Hindus were subjected to since the inaugural of Muslim rule in Kashmir.

Prof. Gurtu could be a masterly guide for any person genuinely interested in attempting to re-orientate a vital figure of the standing of Lalla Ded, a representative of the civilisational and cultural ethos of Kashmir. He knew the skill of textual criticism and importance of the comparative study of available manuscripts in such attempts. As a Head Pandit in the Research Department of the state he had chanced upon a slew of manuscripts of the Amarnath Mahatamya, which he studied and determined the text and published it with a sound Hindi translation and an invaluable introduction. All types of variations in different versions of the text were foot-noted and missing spaces were filled in with the help of other manuscripts. His guidance for everybody was that re-orientation of a text-never means to mutliate the original text or imposed a new matter on the available text.

'Sambpancha Shikha’ is another work of note that Prof. Gurtu assiduously studied, translated the text with Khemraja's commentary into Hindi and lucidly highlighted the Shaiva contest of the original text. As Kashmir has a history of writing Mahatamyas we have a work of the same hue called Harsheshwar Mahatamya. Prof. Gurtu translated the text into English along with an illuminating introduction to the book.

'Spand-Karika' and 'Paratrimshikha' are the two other seminal works of Kashmir Shaivism which the professor studied at the lotus feet of his venerable guru, whose opinions on issues of theory and praxis  of the said-philosophy of Shaivism he always upholds as the final word. In the Spandkarika Prof. Gurtu's expository skills stand out and subtle issues and concepts of the thought stand comprehensively explained, exposited and expounded. 'Paratrimshikha' is deemed as the subtlest of the Shaiva works and Prof. Gurtu ably determined the text and translated it into Hindi with copious explanatory notes and expositions that unravel the esoteric content of the text.

Be it said, the publications of the 'Paratrimshikha' with its amazing Hindi translation and profuse explanations was not savoured well by many devotees of Swamiji Maharaja at the Ishaber hermitage. Prof. Gurtu was grievously hurt when he was accused of unravelling the esoteric content for a consideration. He chose me for expression of his hurt sentiments. I expressed lot many empathies to dispel his hurt and carefully chose a language in appreciation of the tremendous work he had done. His temperament was cool and sedate and nothing would flap his temper. But, this development at the hermitage was what he could not bear with. The fact is that his publisher had harvested his book and given him a mere pittance. More than most, he had done a great service to the very philosophy of Shaivism by translating a formidable work like 'Paratrimshikha'. And it should have been recognised by all who mattered at the Hermitage.

Soon after Prof. Gurtu's 'Paratrimshikha' was published Dr. Jaidev Singh who too had studied the work at Swami Ji Maharaja's lotus-feet put it into English. He took the text as the most authentic as was determined by Prof. Gurtu and added his own explanations and expositions to the work thereby making it more useful for a wider section of lovers of Kashmir Shaivism. The work is published and carries an introduction by Dr. Betina Baumer, a devotee of Swami Ji Maharaj.

As Prof. Gurtu was a senior colleagues and I had thick contacts with him, I once expressed my desire to have a nodding acquaintance with the theoretical postulations of Kashmir Shaivism. He took no time in conceding my humble request. A dexterous teacher with a missionary zeal Prof. Gurtu taught me seminal works like Tattava-Sandoha, Shaivsutra, Spandkarika, Ishwarpratibijjna-Vimarsini and some portions of Shiva-Drishti. I could not continue as we as members of Hindu community got uprooted and scattered under the determined onslaught of Jihadis.

I owe a great debt of gratitude to him for the pains that he took to enlighten me with the whole spectrum of philosophical developments in Kashmir. Since he taught me some vital texts with care and deligence I always considered him as my guru and in Shaiva parlance guru is shiva-guru who initiates a pupil in the Shaiva-marg in accordance with his worth. Perhaps, he considered me his worthy pupil when he disarmed Dr. Balji Nath Pandit by telling bhim that his materialist pupil would work wonders thruogh his initiation in the Shaiva thought. Prof. Gurtu prodded me to take up a research project on Somananda's Shivadrishti. At his insistence I had submitted a synopsis to the Rashtriya. Sanskrit Sansthan for approval. But displacement and exile topsyed and turvyed everything we had planned.

Those who are born are destined to die (Jatasya hi mretu druvam-Gita). Prof. Gurtu had all the angelic qualities. But, in the words of John Keats, 'had he not died, he would have been an angel'.

In the end, As a mortal I pray for peace to his soul.


Book Reviews

Lalla-Ded-meri dreshti mai: A critique

By Prof. M.L. Koul

M.A. (Engilsh), M.A. (Sanskrit), M.A. (Hindi), B.Ed.


1.         Possibilities of Lalla Ded Reconstruction   

2.         Mrs. Bimla Raina - a poet of fantasy         

3.         Lalla-Ded-meri dreshti mai - an evaluation

4.         Sample Survey of Mrs. Bimla Raina's Fiddlings

5.         Epilogue

6.         References

7.         Changes that Bimla Raina has executed



            It deserves an open-hearted acknowledgement that the treasure-trove of Lalla Ded vakhs have been saved from extinction as a precious legacy by some ordinary yet exceptional individuals who kept them alive in the grooves and ridges of their memory membrane. For preservation and conservation of knowledge it has been a unique method prevalent in India for millennia. The Rigvedic mantras were preserved this way only. Some indologists of immense repute like Griffth and Monier Williams have been lavish in admiring the role of individuals with extra-ordinary memory faculty for preservation of knowledge in an ancient land like India .

            Dr. Grierson, an indologist in the British Service, has rendered the Kashmiri Hindu Heritage a great favour by getting the Lalla Ded vakhs recorded from a Pandit, Dharam Das by name, through Dr. Stein and M.M. Pt.. Mukund Ram Shastri, an awesome scholar of Sanskrit lore and learning.

            The vakhs as we have them in ‘Lalla vakyani’, despite numerous transmissions from generation to generation, do retain an archaic flavour and complexion. What the actual form of Kashmiri in the times of Lalla Ded was is a complex issue of linguistic polemics and wranglings which remains distance way from a satisfactory resolution. Bilhan, a kashmiri poet and historian living in 10th century A.D., in a morsel of information characterises the form of Kashmiri in vogue in his time as ‘Desh Bhasha’, but does not provide any reliable sample of it. ‘Bhanasur Katha’, and Mahanaya Prakash’ are written in a language form that borders on an ‘apbrahmsa’ with all its phonemic and phonetic characteristics. The linguistic texture of Lalla Ded vakhs appears prima facie at a divergence from the linguistic shape and form of Bhanasur Katha and Mahanay Prakash. The transformation is not far to seek. The transmission of the vakhs from individual to individual and one family to the succeeding families, it happening through generations together, wrought linguistic changes that rubbed off and stole away the archaicness of the vakhs. During the process of transmissions,  additions, deletions, replacements and interpolations cannot be ruled out. One who denies it is not on firm ground of history. Despite ravages wrought by time and transmission from generation to generation, Lalla Ded vakhs in Dr. Grierson's collection do have a semblance of pristinity in word, phrase and form. The same vakhs as are available in Gopi Nath Raina's collection, Prof. Koul's and Prof. Parimoo's works on Lalla Ded do have an improvised complexion, yet are not drained off of old flavour and do not present a linguistic scenario that is so modernised that it marks a hiatus between their vakhs and those of Dr. Grierson.

            How is it that Lalla Ded vakhs have stood the fury and flux of time and Nund Rishi's shrukhs have suffered a chemical transformation ? The reason, I believe, is that those who religiously preserved the vakhs of Lalla Ded and continued with their cultural transmission through succeeding generations were not driven by religious prejudices and had no hate-soaked motivations to distort and disfigure them to the level that they remained mere caricatures of their originals. If the transmitter, per chance, had vaishnavite leanings, he would interpolate his vaishnavite credos and notions into the texture of vakhs which on an analysis would not be much in disagreement with how Lalla Ded had posed herself on issues of God, man and world. But, contrary to Lalla Ded, the shrukhs of Nund Rishi as are available in an array of popular versions highlight him as one who is cut asunder from his cultural and civilisational roots. As a person, he is overlaid with a massive weight of fibs, fables and figments that pose him as a proselytiser, semitic in approach and precept, a sufi, not a rishi, at variance with his nativity and surrounding cultural ambience. The pristine Nund Rishi is lost. Linguistically, the shrukhs are couched in a language form that bears a modern ring and glitter and appear to have been cleansed of the dross of archaic tinge and tone, word and metaphor. Such an over-riding transmutation of shrukhs can be safely attributed to Muslim zealots who were ill at ease with his indigenous flavour and were keen to present him as a mauzzin, a preacher fully oriented to the foreign content of a ‘guest faith’ and more than most an iconoclast working out the behests of the Kubrawi Sayyid-sufis responsible for the first holocaust of the native Hindus of Kashmir.

            My concerted opinion is that Lalla Ded vakhs as are popularly available are in satisfactorily good linguistic form and shape. Any textual appraisal and evaluation is slightly a difficult process as we do not have a written manuscript of her vakhs that could form a firm substratum for any positive attempt at improvision and quality addition. The vakhs that ring sound and genuine seem to brook no interference and the lurking fear that I harbour is that it might open the dykes for a flood of distortions and misconceptions sneaking into the brilliant store-house of vakhs forming our precious bequest. Any change if conceived on the basis of genuine scholarship has to be fully authenticated and cross-referenced. No haphazard tinkering can do. A scholar who is equipped with profound knowledge of linguistics and textual criticism and high level of awareness of the times Lalla Ded was faced with can venture on an effort to improvise upon vakhs qualitatively, not snatch away the brilliant and thoughtful poetry they winnow out. No a priori methods can do. Internal evidence of vakhs, their thought nuances, linguistic shades and style-related flourishes alone can be the parameters to determine the authenticity and genuineness of any Lalla Ded vakhs.


            I am not so complacent as to say that all is well with the world of Lalla Ded vakhs. Many available versions of Lalla Ded scholars do contain in their ouvre some such vakhs as appear at the very first sight foreign to the world-view and experiential dynamics of Lalla Ded. A host of interpolations, interventions, and insertions, deliberately executed, showcase a sinister design to damage and subvert the very native soul of Lalla Ded. The trajectory for Lalla Ded subversion was first laid out by the Kubrawi authors of Rishinamas and Noornamas who under a design made a mish-mash of Lalla Ded vakhs and Nund Rishi Shrukhs. To create a conceptual disarray Lalla Ded was given the nomenclature of an ‘arifa’, which in essentia collides against her status as a Shaiva yogini who as a person was deeply immersed in a quest of discovering shiva and was in an everlasting  union with Him, the only source of beauteous bliss and enlightenment.

            To pose Lalla Ded as a sufi is either a cunning attempt to appropriate her or to relocate her for a different identity, religious and cultural. Be it told, Sufism in Kashmir is a foreign plant and has had minimal acceptance and recognition. The brand of sufis who entered the borders ofKashmir were literal Islamists and fanatically Sharia-oriented. Their nodding acquaintance with the Indian Vedanta and Buddhism had in no way softened their religious angularities and hard positions with respect to Jihad, Jaziya and the status of dhimmis. If characterised as a sufi, Lalla Ded is made to lose her close affinity and nexus with the cultural and civilisational ethos she happened to be a fine product of.

            The ill-conceived efforts on part of literary mullahs are designed to the end of appropriating Lalla Ded through interpolating  and smuggling Lalla Ded-type vakhs into the rich archive of her vakhs.

            Some specimens of interpolated vakhs are :

1)         Dod kyah zani yas no bane

            Gamaki Jama ha valith tane

            Gara gara phiras Peyam kane

            Dyunthum na kanh ti panani kane

2)         Tembar peyas kava no Tsajin,

            Mas_ras (Mansuras) kava ahanajen gav

            Shanten hanz kreya tola-mwala vajin,

            Andrim gaha yeli nebar peyas.

3)         Kalimay parum kalimay sarum,

            Kalimay kachum Panun Paan

            Kalimay Hani Hani Moyan Tourm

            Ada Lalla Vachus La-makan


3)         Ada gom molum ta zinim hal

            But  to be precise, the grave peril to Lalla Ded vakhs emanates from a literary organisation, a creature of constitution,  put under the charge of a ‘cultural commissar’ chosen and appointed by a dynasty that has aged and grown effete. He unleashed his malicious campaign way back in 1975 when at the opening ceremony of Lalla Ded Hospital he unabashedy talked of Lalla Ded's conversion to an alien faith. To his utter discomfiture an old man leaning against a staff present in the audience vociferously contradicted his absurd claims and challenged him to cite historical evidences and credible corroborations. The cultural commissaar, sallow in countenance, down in guts and tongue, quietly trod down the dias.

            The same cultural commissaar,  holding a seat on the dias, ventilated his hallucinatory condition of having seen Lalla Ded's grave at Bijbehara. The function where the cultural commissar is reported to have given vent to his pathological obsession was organised by Mrs. Bimla Raina for the release of her title ‘Lalla Ded - meri dreshti mei’. But, despairingly, there was no pandit Jia Lal Koul, Jalali in the audience who could have rebutted his hallucinatory assertions and crazy bullying. Hopping in the political circles, the cultural commissar, is reported to have spoken almost crude nothing on Mrs. Raina's so-called work on Lalla Ded and rambled on appropriation of Lalla Ded through malicious fabrications and figmented lies. The same cultural commissar is responsible for partitioning the monolith of cultural mosaic and civilisational edifice of Kashmir through the publications issued out as Muslim Gazettes by the cultural organisation operating on naked sectarian lines.

            Yet, I am fortified in my conviction that all malicious attempts made by different brands of cultural commissars and pseudo-historians straddling the portals of academia at  religious cleansing of Lalla Ded will not fructify. Lalla Ded as a cultural and civilisational sentinel is impregnable. Her tremendous quest for Shiva, her luminous state of being one with Shiva's supreme consciousness, her experiential fire and fury, her spontaneous flow and cascading expression can comfortably edge out all bogus interpolations and spurious replacements.



            Mrs. Bimla Raina is a poet and writes Lalla Ded dressed vakhs. Two of her poetical collections ‘Resh Malun Meon’ and ‘Veth Macha Shyongith’ are available in print. Without commenting on the poetic quality of her vakhs I would just say that poetry or any form of literature is and has to be contemporary. A poet who breathes and lives in the milieu of 21st century and evinces obsessive concern about irrelevant themes cannot escape the epithet of a regressive shut up in a canary island where he like a bright, yellow finch atop a perch sings his own tuneful song. Lalla's poignancy, her moral and spiritual grandeur and exceptional assertion to be her own self amidst raging storms of religious bigotry should have mightily sensitised her to the burning themes of her personal uprootment, mass expulsion of her tribe, alientation, de-humanisation of  camp-dwellers and cultural onslaught and effacement.

            As a poet of live sensibilities her vakhs should have been soaked in the dark shades of a funeral song when brutal Muslim crusaders, Jihadis in Islamic parlance, perpetrated atrocious barbarities and inhuman cruelties on Kashmiri Pandit women like Sarla Bhat, Girija Tiku, Rupawati and a host of women for the simple sin that they were Hindus and had stuck to their faith tenaciously. Her vakh should have burst out into a shrill shriek when Muslim marauders, cruel and brutal, arsoned her parental abode, a veritable mansion, at Anantnag and has been lying in charred ruins. The pathetic eclipse of human values and brutal rise of medieval barbarism at her native place, resh malun to her, do not have any thematic value and relevance for her poetic out-pourings. Acrid hatred and religious intolerance enveloping and encasing Kashmiri society do not vibrate within the orbit of her perceptions. As a bruised and traumatised soul languishing in the agonies of exile and banishment I urge Bimla Ji ‘to go out of the house into the convulsions of the world, out of history into history and awful responsibility of the time.’

            To quote Bretcht - could there be singing in dark times / yes, there will be singing of dark times.

            When Lalla Ded resonantly sang out her vakhs, she was in complete harmony with the spirit of the times. Her vakhs, thoughtful, intense and esoteric in import, are creative ‘statements of spiritual experiences, lived and felt and guides to that experience’. As the epitome of indigenous ethos, Lalla is all embracing, coherent and sweeping, profusely exuding unflinching confidence and deep sense of pride in her heritage and identity. Irrigating the fields of Rishi-ethos with its roots embedded in the Vedic Age Lalla Ded sharpened the cleavage between a tolerant and catholic ethos and a heresy-hunting creed. She fined-tuned her thought when others were sharpening their weapons of force and coercion. In sharp defiance of what was alien she renewed a new force of humanism that was inherent in the indigenous ethos. She soars into the ‘invisible worlds’, it is from the earth she soars. Lalla Ded is great and is stunningly creative.



            Mrs. Bimla Raina's another book ‘Lalla Ded-meri dreshti mei’ is said to be the Hindi variant of her Kashmiri book - ‘Lalla Ded-myani nazri manz’. As the grape-vine has it, an urdu version of the same book is under preparation across the Bannihal Tunnel. In absence of the original and its urdu version my critique will focus on the Hindi variant that contains call it a preface by Mrs. Raina and an introduction by Dr. B.L. Koul, a retired professor of Hindi of Kashmir University.

            In her pre-face Mrs. Raina makes an astounding statement that Lalla Ded being a yogini par excellence should be appraised beyond the parameters of ‘panth’, ‘Jati, sampradai’ or even the world-view that she has assiduously cultivated and garnered. This, in sum, means to denude her of biographical terrain- her persona, her vicissitudes in mundane life, her trajectory of cultural up-bringing and her arduous struggle to recognise her spiritual destiny. To me, it is a non-literary statement aimed at stripping away Lalla Ded of her identity, personality and tremendous grasp of the delicacies of thought to which as a superb poet she was wedded to. ‘Know the person behind the book’ is a platitude not to be overlooked.

            If Mrs. Raina's parameters for literary evaluation, per chance, were applied to John Milton, Dr. Iqbal, Sant Tulsi Das and a host of greats, they, I believe, will get faded into nullity.

            Dr. B.L. Koul  is all plaudits for Mrs Raina, who, he opines, has given him a book on Lalla Ded resuscitation as per the canons of textual criticism and linguistics. I am afraid I may be dubbed as impolite when I debunk the claims of Dr. Koul and say that Mrs. Raina's work is ten leagues away from textual criticism and linguistics. I would have felt highly obliged had Dr. Koul informed the wide circle of Lalla Ded scholars and lay readers about Mrs. Raina's personal achievements and expertise in the regimes of textual criticism and linguistics, two highly specialised fields.


            As recorded by all Lalla Ded Scholars, most of them of eminence, the fact about Lalla Ded Vakhs remains that Dr. Stein of the Rajtarangini fame, and Maha-mahopadyay Pandit Mukund Ram Shastri, Director of Research, JandK Government, recorded the vakhs from a Kashmiri Pandit living at Gushi, now destroyed by the Muslim marauders, at the behest of Dr. Grierson. Having put the repertoire of vakhs to his incisive and clinical scrutiny, Dr. Grierson published them under the title ‘Lalla Vakyani’ along with his comprehensive introduction and explanatory notes for which sufficient and copious aid-materials were supplied to him by Dr. Stein and Maha-mahopadyay Pt. Mukund Ram Shastri, his two close associates. What I want Dr. Koul to make note of is that the remarkable Pandit of Gushi had received the vakhs of Lalla Ded set in a sequence by way of cultural transmission and as a man gifted with uncommon memory he had carefully preserved the repertoire on the slate of his memory. The vakhs which the Pandit recited, declaimed or uttered in presence of two eminent scholars were in no way from any written manuscript. So, the vakhs as published by Dr. Grierson cannot be taken as a recension of the Lalla Ded Vakhs. Because of immense popularity of Lalla Ded as a shaivite visionary and practitioner, there were many Kashmiri Pandit families that had received and preserved her vakhs as a cultural bequest and with the advent of printing press some pious Pandits in an admirable effort got them published in vernacular with good translations and explanations of the vakhs. So, all such collections too cannot be taken as recensions of Lalla Ded Vakhs.


            The methodology of textual criticism comes into play when a number of manuscripts or published recensions of a particular work are available and an expert with profound grounding in the language and script of the manuscripts or their published variants establishes the authenticity of the work, its language, its content and context and any insertions and changes if made to fill in the moth-eaten spaces on the basis of a comparative study. What is of prime importance is the well-founded awareness and knowledge of the methodology of comparative study of manuscripts and that is the recognised gate-way to sift and sieve the chaff of insertions and interpolations from the grain of authentic content and linguistics of a particular work. The methodologies worked upon by Dr. Stein, Dr. Ved Kumari Ghai, Prof. Nila Kanth Gurtu and Prof. Sri Kanth Koul to determine the authentic texts of Rajtarangini, Nilmatpuran, Paratrimshika and Jonraj's version of Rajtarangini are instructive in this behalf. It has to be thoroughly understood that it is not and cannot be the job of a callow mind.


            The method employed for linguistic and  textual retoration of Lalla Ded Vakhs by Mrs. Raina in her book is both puzzling and mind-boggling. She has not made it known as to which manuscript, ancient or modern, she takes as the baseline for making rapacious forays into the vakhs that are available in various versions. It is possible she might have chanced upon some such manuscripts as Dr. Koul informs the lay and the learned that she has scoured vast swathes of the country in search of research materials for her illuminating work. Dr. Koul or the author herself should have made a definitive mention of it so that a treacherous critic could have acquired, if not so, at least critically scrutinized the manuscripts to assess their authenticity and genuineness or just to check their credentials and worth.


            Mrs. Bimla Raina has treated seventy-nine Lalla Ded Vakhs in all. She has quoted versions of the same vakhs as are found in the two brilliant works on Lalla Ded by Prof. Jaya Lal Koul and Prof. B.N. Parimoo. She has not missed to draw upon Dr. Grierson who has included 108 Lalla Ded vakhs in his collection of ‘Lalla Vakyani’. Then, we are given Bimla Raina- branded Lalla Vakhs, of course, with explanations and interventions she has the temerity to make and references galore to Prof. Koul's and Prof. Parimoo's versions of the Vakhs.


            As an ardent student of Lalla Ded vakhs I feel that Mrs. Raina has not made an in-depth study of Lalla Ded vakhs and more than most, the two classical works on Lalla Ded by Prof. J.L. Koul and Prof. B.N. Parimoo. For reasons unknown she has not tried to know and understand the comparative methodology to arrive at changes she is keen to introduce in the text of vakhs. What exposes her immaturity as a critic is that she has not left even the brilliant vakhs without staining them and I am compelled to say that she is not even remotely conversant with the Shaiva world-view and praxes and their divergence from other strands of philosophical stipulations and practices. The type of vakhs she has framed after cynical changes are not authentic in any wise.

            Once tamperings are made, she has not cared a wee bit to weigh whether those are organically in sync with the body and soul of the vakh or jell with it. Her out of context insertions appear as anti-bodies in the texture of the vakhs. To my dismay, I could not find a single tampering, tinkering or replacement that could be considered relevant or genuine to the context and tenor of the vakh. I am flumoxed by the manner she splits a word and constructs new words that are far-fetched and not relevant to the spirit of the vakh. Mrs. Raina is a word-splitter and with such skill at her disposal the vakhs she has structured detract verbal music, tone and tenor, context and structure of the original vakhs that are available in various versions of Lalla Ded vakhs. Whatever interventions she has tried to introduce, one must not hesitate to say, are, on the whole, superfluous, shoddy and crude.


            As Bimla Ji happens to be a poet she should have appreciated that Lalla Ded is not only a Shaiva yogini, but also an immaculate poet. She has dexterously objectified her mystical experiences and spiritual impulses, though subtle and nebulous, through the flavour of her mother-tongue. She is suggestive in her expression and artistic in poetic ornamentation. Through simile, metaphor and apt word she has woven the mosaic of her vakhs that have a magical effect and prismatic charm. Her bold and concrete images drawn from ware of life are creatively vehicled to suggest the grandeur of her thought founded on a robust theoretical background. The vakhs are not designed to expatiate the categories of Shaiva thought which like all thought architectures are dry as bare bones, but they vibrate to ventilate her bitter moments of life, spiritual yearnings,  deep sense of quest, joys and sorrows of an existing individual and celebrate her elevation to the status of a recognised soul. Hers is an immortal voice that gives spiritual succour and strength to amply authenticate human condition. The intrinsic cosmic force of her vakhs is the raison detre for the resilient survival of Lalla Ded as a yogini and poet through ravages of time and choppy waves of religious bigotry. She is home-spun like a shawl. ‘Mystical lark’ as an apt coinage of Prof. B.N. Parimoo does illustrate what essential Lalla Ded is. As an ace poet she touches our tender hearts, enlarges our perceptual field and horizon and uplifts us to a luminous state of self-recognition.


            The Vakhs that Mrs. Raina has framed through her fanciful tinkerings are an ersatz of the vakhs that do carry a deep imprint of Lalla Ded signature. As the vakhs are despairingly dwarfed and impaired, their translation into Hindi by Dr. B.L. Kaul has diminished in a large measure Lalla Ded's literary, philosophical and civilisational stature and prominence.

            It is an established fact in literary criticism that poetry suffers serious losses in translations. The poetry in one language if translated into any other linguistic idiom loses its lyricism, tone and tenor, syntax and structure. The losses are inestimable when the original content as matter of translation has been subverted. A scholar like Dr. Koul has chosen to translate such subverted contents into Hindi, the national language, for a wider circle of Hindi readers. It is quite natural that his translation of subverted vakhs will equally be subverted and hence can no longer contribute to the renaissance of Lalla Ded on a broader cultural swathe of the country. No cultivated student of literature could have afforded to ignore the brilliant and focused translations of Prof. J.L. Koul and Prof. B.N. Parimoo who have successfully resurrected Lalla Ded into the linguistic nuances and culture of an alien tongue through their skill and grasp of the contents. It is amazing how Dr. Koul has missed to fathom that Mrs. Raina has not studied the vakhs ‘inferentially, analytically and critically’ and has just skimmed, filleted and cherry-picked some vakhs to stud them with her immature insertions and tinkerings without dilating on solid references to reinforce the changes that she has stipulated and executed.


Came she to a grocer, went she to a baker

A Constructed Myth

            I feel really anguished when I write that Mrs. Bimla Raina is blissfully ignorant of the seminal historical developments in Kashmir . She is a psychological dupe to a myth, a figment and a prejudiced account as enshrined in the supercilious ‘cultural construct’ that she has unnecessarily chosen to refer to .

            The foreign brand of Sayyid-sufis from Hamadan , Gilan and other urban areas of Persia , who entered Kashmir for conversionary activities during the rule of Muslims were essentially colonisers in their approach and premis. To achieve their ends in Kashmir they conceived and devised all unholy strategies to downgrade the natives and their cultural and civilsational hall-marks. As Muslims had captured state power, the Sayyid-sufis, though central Asian in their origins, but thoroughly semitised, considered political power as the sure base for propagation of their foreign faith. Acting out their role as political ideologues and religious proselytisers  they manipulated their access to the seats of political power through cryptic and unworthy methods and instilled the spirit of crusade (Jihad) as a matter of religious duty in the mindscape of Muslim rulers. A notable sayyid-sufi from Hamdan delineated a lurid blue-print for the total annihilation of the natives and the same was given in the form of a fiat to the Muslim ruler for an immediate execution. As candidly detailed out in the Rajtaragini of Jonraj and History of Kashmir of Hasan, to mention only a few, the Muslim rulers at the sheer instigation and prodding of the foreign brand of Sayyid-sufis embarked upon the sinister path of destroying the cultural and civilisational signs and symbols of natives.

            To write the full script of genocide, the Muslim rulers forcibly converted the Hindus, demolished and arsoned the gigantic temples, molested and set afire the penance-grooves of indigenous rishis and replicating their Muslim history burnt books or dumped them into wells and other water bodies.

            To justify the aggression and holocaust the Sayyid-sufis operating in consonance with the Muslim state power abominably demonised the native Hindus as animists, polytheists and heretics. They did not fail to harness colonial anthropology as a weapon to denigrate, humiliate and dominate the natives who had generated a sense of absolute inferiority in the psychic-frame of the orthodox Sayyid-sufis through their ouvre of monumental works on all segments of human knowledge and their cultural grandeur as manifested in gargantuan temple structures.

            As Lalla Ded was a living Hindu Icon, fibs and fables, flippant and irreverent, were artfully forged to denigrate her as an ascetic wandering semi-nude through lanes, bylanes and thorough-fares of Kashmir . ‘Aayayi vanis ta Gayi Kandaras’ is one such fib that highlights the hateful perception of the foreign immigrants about the subjugated natives as denizens of a gulag.

            The fib relates :-

            Lalla Ded was wandering aimlessly on a road leading to the town ofShopian . Observing a man coming from that direction she is said to have yelled that she was seeing a man first time in her life. So, being nude or semi-nude, she hithered and thithered for shelter to cover her body. Having entered a grocer's shop for a shred of cloth, she left it in a huff and headed hastily towards a baker's shop. Finding the lid away from the blazing oven, she plunged into it and after a while is said to have emerged from the burning oven dressed in celestial robes.

            Implicit in the fib is the colonial anthropology that Lalla Ded symbolising the religious and spiritual personality of the natives was a half-dressed tribal of the stone age roaming about unmindful of her normal requirement of wrapping her body. Prior to her having a meeting with the foreign fugitive she was required to robe herself as per the decent ethical demands. Being a foreigner the fib extols him as the only alpha male and the whole species of natives decrepit and deficient in potency. Overlay the fib with a spiritual veneer, it is interpreted that the foreigner was an apotheosis of high spirituality who entered an area of darkness where people were only at a primitive level and needed the light of spirituality, besides shreds of cloth to wrap their bodies with.

            In his classical work on Lalla Ded Prof. Koul has not missed to mention this derogatory myth, but has given it an amazing historical twist. Possessed of a scintillating intellect and historical awareness, Prof. Koul records that at the sight of a foreigner Lalla Ded plunged into the blazing fires of an oven and emerged robed in celestial raiment reminding the ‘mardi kamil’ about his clandestine escape from his native land to avoid fire-test instituted for him and his whole tribe by Timur, a Muslim ruler and establishing her own credentials as an accomplished lady of spiritual powers capable of braving the same fire-test with her bodily frame intact and unimpaired.

            Historically, as per the Muslim chronicle, Baharistan-i- Shahi, the Sayyid-sufi, extolled as the ‘mard-i-kamil’, is responsible for the destruction of the Kali Temple in the heart of Srinagar and issuance of death-warrant against the natives if they dared flout any of the twenty conditions delineated for the kafirs to abide by.

            Mrs. Raina should have researched the myth with a view to understanding the derogation and denigration implicit in the fib floated by the foreign colonisers for consumption of the mass of neo-converts and expressed her vociferous detestation against such a snooty and zenophobic construction now deeply etched on the wounded psyche of the statistical Muslims.

            As a master of de-constructing a word by split method, she has fragmented ‘kandur’, baker, into ‘kah andar’ leaving the Lalla Ded readers in reeling consternation. ‘Vanis’, grocer and Kandur, baker are hyphenated to convey all in the myth . If kandur  is broken into ‘kah andar, inside the eleven, if she means the same, vanis, grocer, demands a Bimla Jian  split to create an artificial and tenuous nexus. The entire myth or fib deserves whole hog rejection without giving it legitimacy or credence in any form.



Aami pana sodras navi.............


            Aami pana is replaced by omapana. All Hindus from north to south of India know that Om is a bija mantra and a seeker meditates upon it for final bliss of unity. When initiated into the spiritual instrumentality of Om , a seeker is all blithe and has no reason to be in despair and dejection. His groping for a beacon to lead him onto the highway of shiva ceases. He knows the key and hence is upbeat with joy. He has only to work out the bija mantra with effort and dedication.

            Replacement of ‘ami pana’ by ‘om pana’  mars the entire tone and tenor of the vakh.

Shiva va Keshava va jin va ....................

                                                            Vakh 70

            The well-known word Jin is tinkered with. It has been de-constructed into ‘ya zi’, which is ridiculous. Jina is a name in vogue for Mahavir and Buddha. It is a fact that Jainism had no stint in Kashmir, but Buddhism had a protracted history in our motherland and has left a profound imprint on the intellectual and spiritual thought-scape of Kashmir . It is equally known that Buddhism was the essential motivational force for the Shaivite thinkers to mould their thought and yogic praxes.

            Jina is the pali version of Sanskrit word Jita which refers to Buddha as one who has conquered his external senses.

            Then, again, bhava ruja stands replaced by bhava raj. Ruj is derived from Sanskrit word ‘ruja’ meaning disease. The word has been thoroughly discussed by Prof. Koul in all its ramifications. He refuses and rightly so to accept its meaning as disease for the valid reason that Shaivism is all through a philosophy of affirmation. His translation and explanation of the word ‘bhava-ruj’ is sickness of the world caused by duality.

            The last line of the vakh is musical, lyrical and lilting and  has been replaced by a line that is ponderous, boring and lost to music.

            Lalla had a tremendous theoretical grounding in the subtleties of Shaiva non-dualism. But she has not exposited Shaivite theories in her vakhs. She is a yogini, a practitioner, who had her spiritual journey. She is a superb poet too and knows to chisel words to objectify her intense experiences. Lalla Ded is not Abhinavgupta, somanand or utpaldev.

            She makes a frequent use of the word ‘shuniya’ which actually has come to the shaivites as a legacy from Buddhism. But, they have incorporated the word for conceptualisations at variance with its Buddhist shade of semantics.           

Goran dopnam kunnuy vachun...................

                                                                                    Vakh 15

            The word vachun has been replaced by vakhchun. Why ? What necessitates the replacement ? Textual criticism does not mean a whimsical change. Vachun is directly drawn from Sanskrit and has suffered a pronunciational change in Kashmiri. The word vakhnai is a modern coinage from Sankrit word ‘Vyakhya’ and is  a word with different connotation.

            Vakhchun is also a heavier word than vachun and clogs and disrupts the harmony of the vakh.

            The replacement of the expression ‘nanguy nachun’ by ‘nihanguy nachun’ is beyond normal comprehension. Explaining the meaning of the coinage in Hindi, one wonders whether a dance is footed with a help or a crutch. Can such a dance ever be called a dance ? Dance is the art of a beautiful blend of movements, gestures and expressions. Spontaneity defines a dance.

            As Lalla Ded could never have thought of literally dancing naked in a conservative society of the 14th century, there is certainly a need to look for a suggestive meaning which in sanskrit aesthetics is called ‘dwaniyatmac arth’. Lalla Ded is provided with a key to spirituality by her preceptor, so she is all joy and song, hilarious and rapturous. ‘Nanguy  nachun’ symbolises her condition of ‘awareness come to her’ and extreme mirthfulness. As Lalla Ded had a sufficient background of Sanskrit language, she has used the word ‘nanguy’, drawn directly from Sanskrit ‘nagan’ in the sense of ‘yatharth rupen’, sachmuch’ in Hindi, ‘pazikinyn’ in Kashmiri.

            In Sanskrit aesthetics an example like ‘gangayam ghosa’ typies what suggestive meaning is. There can be no village in the Ganges which is ever in flux. So, a new nuance of meaning is to be divined when the two layers of meaning, sanketic and lakhshanic, fail to communicate a meaning. With the help of suggestive meaning ‘gangayam ghosha’ conveys that there is a village on the shores of the Ganges ’.

Diva vata divar vata.........................

                                                Vakh 35

            The words ‘divar vata’ is replaced by dehvar vata and ‘pyatha buan’ is invested with a far-fetched meaning of ‘sky and earth’. ‘Hoota Bata’ is strangulated into ‘hyata ba hatha’. All this is word Jugglery.

            Had comparative study of the vakh been done, it would have become lucid clear that the text of the said-vakh is identical in Dr. Grierson's version and that of Prof. Kaul's and Prof. Parimoo's versions. The changes that have been fancifully invented cannot be imposed on the texture of the vakh.

            Lalla Ded was well-versed in Shaivism and she was aware that formal worship outside the ‘self’ of man was nothing but duality. The key given to her as the primary lesson was to turn her gaze inwards and Shiva was there in the confines of her microcosmic body. So idol and temple made of one material could not be of any relevance to her search within. Her exhortation to the foolish Pandit is to synchronise his mind and vital airs if he is keen to know his real nature, his self disguised by not-self.

            ‘divar vata’ can never be changed into ‘dehvar vata’. The former has a clear-cut meaning of a temple stone and is still known as ‘divar kany’. ‘Hoota batta’ is cruelly de-constructed for a distant import of ‘be determined to’

            If the said vakh had been recited after the execution of the stipulated changes, the disharmony and musical banality of the vakh along with losses of meaning should have definitely been sensed.

Voth ranya archun sakhar.................

                                                                                    Vakh 16

            This vakh contains three Sanskrit  words having definite meanings. It is categorically said that ‘rany’ is no word in Sanskrit nor does it have a form in Apbrahmsa. The word ‘rany’ is derived from Sanskrit word ‘raghni’. ‘Al’, ‘pal’ and ‘vokhur’ have been invested with meanings that are far-fetched and demonstrate ignorance. ‘Al’ and ‘pal’ are Sanskrit words meaning wine and flesh. Vakhur means a slice of bread.

            Lalla Ded was fully aware of the kaula practices prevalent in her native land which did not exclude physical enjoyments for purposes of higher ascension.

            Keeping in view the overall import of the first three lines of the vakh Prof. Parimoo's version of the fourth line is quite appropriate. He has also given an alternate text of the fourth line of the quatrain citing the anonymous manuscript lying in the Research Library, Srinagar .

            An attempt has been made to introduce a variant of the last line of the vakh. It does not sound relevant when the import of the first three lines has been mish-mashed.

Nabad baras atagand dyul gom..................

                                                            Vakh 17

            Bimla Ji, I believe, is bereft of aesthetic sense as she has absolutely failed to appreciate the vakh as a gem in the rich archive of Lalla Ded vakhs. She should have left it unpolluted in view of its exquisite poetry. But, perhaps, keen to win kudos from inepts, she has picked up a word vanun, only to fragment it into ‘vyan na yun’. Can it be asked if it is a poetic expression and again if it is germane to the context of the vakh ? The word ‘vanun’ refers to the preceptor's fundamental initiation that seems to have disillusioned her about the manner of life she had been living and even her notions about spiritual way of life. The entire vakh conveys that Lalla Ded is on cross-roads.

Vakh manas kol akol na ate.........................

                                                                                                Vakh 01

            The entire vakh stands distorted, nay, destroyed if the changes wrought are incorporated in the body of the vakh. ‘kol’ and ‘akol’ are translated as ‘vakhat’ and ‘be-vakhat’, ‘samai’ and ‘ku-samai’. ‘Vakh’ and ‘manas’ are translated as ‘mansika japa’

            Be it told that the above meanings are not relevant to what Lalla Ded wants to pour out. ‘Kol’ and ‘akol’ are two recognised terms in Kashmir Shaiva non-dualism. ‘Kol’ implies expansion, prasar, and ‘akol’ means ‘transcendental shiva’, Shiva in equipoise. In Shaiva yoga, the two terms underline the seat of Shakti at muladhar and sahasrar, the seat of shiva respectively. ‘Vakh’ means gross word, speech and ‘manas’ means chita ’ - the limited thought.

Lalla ba drawyas lol re..................

                                                    Vakh 03

            The explanations given for the stipulated changes are misplaced. The fact remains that Lalla Ded had been in quest and in deep pain and anguish too as she was yearning to know the key to attain the blissful state of identity with Shiva. Then a time came when it dawned upon her that Shiva was within her own bosom and there was no need to wander about in His search. That time or moment was both momentous and auspicious for her.

            To establish the misplaced notion about the vakh ‘ba drayas’ has been crucified into ‘bodhi ayas’ and ‘lol re’, a highly lyrical expression, has been convoluted into ‘lol hure’. The changes wrought are not necessitated by the internal needs of the vakh and then do not sit well on the soul of the vakh.

Asi pondi gosi zami................

                                          Vakh 50

            For tinkering ‘asi’ has been cherry-picked and ‘pondi’, ‘zosi’ and ‘zami’ have been left as they stand in the original vakh. As willed under a whim, ‘asi’ has been related to a yogic praxis, a-oose. What about other human acts like sneezing, coughing and yawning ? What is the connect of ‘a-oose’ with other acts left outside the realms of yoga ? It is a big incongruity.

            Another word from the vakh chosen for crucifixion is ‘par-zantan’. Dr. Grierson's text of the vak has the same word and Prof. Koul's and Prof. Parimoo's text of the vakh retain the same reading of the word. The word ‘par-zantan’ carries an archaic hue and it is replaced by the word ‘praznautan’,  modernised linguistic form of the said-word.

            Lalla Ded in the vakh conveys that all acts of laughing, sneezing, coughing and yawning are the acts of Shiva who through his ‘Swatantrya Shakti’ assumes the form of an anu, a jiva, a limited being.

            The Shaiva thought stresses that certain intense moments like laughing, sneezing et al can be synergised with one-pointedness for uplift to a state of unicity with Shiva, the absolute . In his monumental work, Shiva Dreshiti Somanand refers to such intense moments as can have tremendous spiritual efficacy.

Buthi kyah jan chuk vonda chuy kani.................

                                                                                                Vakh 49

            The vakh is spurious and does not form a part of Lalla Ded archive of vakhs . Yet the fiddling as a reflex act of the lady has taken its toll. This vakh is available in the version of vakhs that is published by the StateAcademy that works out the ill-design of decimating the pristine Lalla Ded with all her intrinsic genius and worth.

            The word-hoard of the said-vakh is most modern and its content is lacking in the passion and fury of Lalla. For kanya Lalla  Ded has used ‘vata’ and ‘shila’ and ‘asal’ is no word in her spiritual parlance.           

kyah kara panchan dahan ta kahan.................

                                                                                    Vakh 32

            Topsy-turvying the recognised meanings of ‘five’, ‘ten’ and ‘eleven’, five have been taken for five bonds of attachment, ten for ten nadis and eleven for five motor senses and five cognitive sense perceptions + manas.

            But, the recognised meanings in Shaiva thought for five is five tattvas, ten for five motor senses + five cognitive sense perceptions and eleventh is the antakaran (mann, budhi and ahankar).

            For purposes of de-constructing words, ‘vokshun’ and ‘samahan’ have been picked  out. ‘Vokshun’ is split up into ‘voha-akhyun’ and ‘samahan’ is manipulated to the form of ‘samatahan’. After the first change has been affected, the verse-line stands translated into - ‘all the above tattvas, senses and mind have destroyed the body.’

            Be it firmly told, the Shaiva thought has no ideological reference that focuses on the destructive role of tattvas, senses and mind. Its emphasis is to synergise everything in the human body to achieve the end product of self-recognition (pratibijjna).

            ‘Samatahan’ is considered apter than ‘samahan’. why and how ? ‘Samatahan’ disrupts the flow of the verse line and the entire effect of the vakh. Rhyme and rhythm are known virtues of all forms of poetry.

            In the last line ‘kahan’ has been cynically changed into ‘kohan’ without mulling over the relevance of it to the whole-grain semantics of the vakh. Lalla conveys that ‘spiritual cow’ would not have been lost if all the material tattvas constituting  the body, sense-perceptions and mind had acted in unison and absolute concordance.           

Imai shey che timia shey meya....................

                                                                                    Vakh 28

            As Lalla Ded was an initiated Shaiva yogini the ‘six’ that she refers to are the six attributes of Param Shiva. His attributes are - Omniscience, contentment, absolute self-sufficiency, knowledge of the past eternity, irreducible potency and Omnipotence. The ‘jiva’ has all these attributes, but are stained with limitation. His attributes as jiva are kala, niyati, raga, vidya, kala and maya.

            Like Dr. Grierson, Bimla ji in imitation has extended the scope of six to include six seasons, six stages and six vikaras.

            But, it is an erosion of the Shaiva thought. Six attributes the jiva has come to him from Shiva who through his ‘swatantrya shakti’ has assumed the form of a jiva. Jiva is shiva and shiva is jiva. But the attributes of Shiva are absolute and the attributes of Jiva are limited in scope and extent. Therefore, the extended scope of six to include six seasons, six stages and six vikaras are not the attributes of Shiva, the absolute, but are the attributes of a Jiva tainted with limitations. The additions to the list of limitations are based on succession and vikaras. But Param Shiva is meta-succession and meta-vikaras.

            ‘Shyam gala’ is chosen for crucifixion. Declaring it meaning-less and absurd, its womb is ripped open for ‘shyami agola’ to emerge, meaning ‘six that does not melt’. It is poor and pathetic and does not deserve analysis.

            ‘Shyam gala’ conveys its meaning to all who are Hindus.

            The word ‘tatith’ is certainly derived from Sanskrit. But, it is not derived from ‘tadan’. It owes its origin to the Sanskrit word ‘tikht’ meaning bitter, sore, difficult and even miserable.           

Mala Vondi Zolum, Jigar Moraum ........................

                                                                                                Vakh 24

            The said vakh is resonant and poignant with the intense yogic praxes that Lalla Ded had subjected herself to drain off the malas (dirts) that wrapped her microcosmic frame as an anu. As per Shaiva tenets the three malas (dirts) are -anavamal, karma mal and mayiya mal. Her spiritual achievements through intense yogic praxes had invested her with the spiritual chuzpah to claim that she earned a name after she resigned herself to Shiva's shakhtipat (grace). ‘Anava-mal’ cannot be removed through human effort and for it a seeker has to seek for Shiva's shaktipat (grace).

            In this vakh a word like ‘dalya’ is netted to tear it to shreds. Lalla Ded has expressed her sense of resignation through ‘dalya’ and keen to meddle Bimla Ji analyses singular and plural form of it.

            Poets do enjoy a liberty called ‘poetic license’           

Hachiva Harinji petsiv kan gom.......................

                                                                                       Vakh 31

            It is gem of a vakh in the treasure-trove of Lalla Ded vakhs. Lalla Ded bemoans her lot as she feels all helpless-none coming to bail her out of the mire she is steeped in. A wooden bow with pithless weed-made arrows, an unwise carpenter to shape the palace of her mind, a lock-less shop in the market place and her body wihout a ritual bath are culled together to frame her despondent condition. The vakh drenched in despair  and angst implicity conveys that she has not been ably initiated and guided for the spiritual under-taking by an adept preceptor.

            Not appreciative of the subtle content of the vakh, Bimla ji as per her manner forks out ‘abakh chan’, ‘Razdane’, tirathros pan’ and turns and twists them for word-forms that appear queer and incredible.

            ‘Razdane’ is Lalla's own microcosmic frame which is the abode of her own ‘self’. It has been twisted into ‘ras-dwane’. The cue, perhaps, for the change seems to have come to her from some raw mind, who has come across the word ‘rasdwani’, which  in Indian aesthetics has an exalted sense and meaning. With  ‘ras dwane’ as replacement the tenor of the vakh goes upside down. ‘Abak chan’ is deconstructed and invented into ‘abodi chyan’ causing a hiatus in her mood of exhilaration. ‘Tirath ros.......’ is squeezed to eke out ‘titha pan ras gom’ and ‘ mali ’ is mutilated into ‘moal’, value in English.

            The said vakh after strangulation of Lalla's apt words and metaphors is translated into Hindi conveying entirely absurd import and discordant notes.

Zanha nadi dal mann ratith.....................

                                                            Vakh 22

            Splitting ‘Zanha’ into ‘zan yee ha’ and ‘kruth’ into ‘kiva Ishto’, word-tearing touches its height. And it has been acclaimed as linguistic study.

            After incorporating unpoetic changes the version of the vakh conveys a sense quite at variance with the original vakh couched in beautiful poetry and ornamentation.

            Lalla Ded would have come to know the methodology of preparing the alchemy of yoga for attainment of unity with Shiva, had she known to manage and control her fickle mind and nerve-plexi and also to tear, collect and pulverise the tuft of klesas. Her counsel is that with all such knowledge at one's disposal, Shiva is still difficult to be accessed. She mentions the ‘klesas’ in the vakh for the fact that they do cause a disturbance during the process of awakening the Kundalini. Such remains the crux of the vakh.

            Through word-tearing and inept inventing of new and strange word-forms the magnetic poetry of the vakh has been impaired and mutilated.

Kalimai parum ta kalimai sarom....................

                                                                        Vakh 77

            The vakh has been interpolated into the repository of Lalla Ded vakhs and is available in the version of vakhs published by the state cultural academy.

            It is not in consonance with the essential spirit of Lalla Ded, her Shaivite culture and Shaivite yoga praxis. ‘ Om ’ and ‘aham’ are her bija mantras that have acted as her beacon during the course of her spiritual journey for ‘self-recognition’ and ‘one-ness’ with Shiva.

            The vakh is not only spurious, but apochryphal too. Any attempt to change the first word in the so-called vakh into any other word of ‘Bija-mantra’ is rejected and has no meaning.

Moodo Krai chai nor dharun ta parun..................

                                                                                   Vakh 20

            In a pedagogic vein Lalla Ded exhorts the unwise that right action is neither to decorate the body nor is it to remain engrossed in the bodily affairs. It is not even to ornament the body.

            ‘Dharun’ and sandharun’ have been picked out for meaning less tampering. ‘Dharun’ is changed into ‘darun’ - not to get defeated and ‘sandharun’ into ‘dehsanz-ravun’ - to get liberated from body ornamentation. Far-fetched and cynical !

Avestar pothyan Chi ha Mali Paran.............

                                                                        Vakh 38

Prof. Koul's vakh begins with the word ‘avestar’ meaning foolish or those not given to read between the lines. Prof. Parimoo's Vakh carries ‘avyachar’ in place of ‘avestar’ and the word implies foolish or thoughtless. Without resorting to her innovative method of splitting a word, Bimla ji retains ‘avechar’ in her version of the vakh.

            As per her reflex act she forks out two words ‘dava’ and ‘paran’ and twists them into ‘dyon’ and ‘paran’. ‘zaldava’ is archaic in form and ‘zaldyon’ is a later formation. Then, her replacement of the word ‘paran’ by ‘paran’ is ridiculous. Bhagvatgita as a divine book is to be read, not to decorate oneself with. Books are objects of study and not objects for decoration.

            She has left the word ‘aham’ in the vakh untouched, but in a different vakh she has mutated it into‘ham’. why ? ‘Aham’ is a prominent word in Shaiva thought and has oft been used in many a context.

            Like a number of Lalla Ded vakhs the said-vakh has two versions. What Bimla ji has done is the addition of two lines as are found in Prof. Parimoo's version of the vakh to her version thereby making it six-lined monstrosity of a vakh. What textual criticism as a craft teaches is to place the different versions as they are without making a mix or re-mix of them.

Pota Zooni Vathith mot bolnovum.............

                                                                 Vakh 39

            It is a brilliant vakh pulsating with a sense of yearning and emotion of love. It carries an imprint of poignancy and yearning to meet with her Lord and be in an ever-lasting bond of unicity. ‘Lal’ is her own self which through yogic praxes she is awakening assiduously and liltingly.

            Bimla ji has ineptly foraged into this glittering vakh and distorted it to mar its poetical beauty and lyricism.

            She has picked out ‘mot-bolnovum’ and hacked it for a construction that is a sheer monstrosity. Highly expressive and emotionally charged ‘mot-bolnovum’ is mutated into ‘man bodh novum’, and Dr. Koul translating it as ‘cleansed her mind and intellect’. Poor and pathetic !

            She has also chosen to delete ‘tas’ as is beautifully woven into the texture of the line and added ‘man pran’ only to satisfy her vagrant mind suffused with cynicism. ‘man’ has relevance, ‘pran’ is an imposition and tinsel accretion.

Dama dama kormus daman hale.............

                                                                Vakh 31

            The vakh is illustrative of Lalla Ded's yogic praxis and a comprehensive understanding of her intrinsic nature dawning upon her. Bimla ji has replaced ‘dama dama kormus’ by ‘damhah dommus’ ignoring readings in different versions of the vakh. Prof. Koul's reading contains ‘damahdam’ and Prof. Parimoo's and Dr. Grierson's readings are identical. Where-from does the word ‘dommus’ come ? Words cannot be added to the text of the vakh out of sheer waywardness. It is not warranted by the methodology of textual criticism. Replacement must have a base supplied by readings of the same vakh available in different versions and has to be integral to the vakh.

            Then the introduction of the word ‘dommus’ into the text of the vakh is not warranted as it underlines force and vigour for suppression of breathing processes. Lalla Ded in the vakh is for sublimation of the breathing process, not for its suppression. ‘Inhalation-exhalation’ in Shaiva yoga has different purpose from that of Patanjali yoga. Read, Pratibhijna Hridyam by Khemraj, an erudite scholar of indigenous Shaiva thought and she will come to learn what he has to say about pranayam. Bimla ji has replaced ‘gati’ by ‘guthi’ and her explanation for replacement is ridiculous. In the entire annals of Hindu Mysticism ‘ghat’ for human body is staple. Lalla Ded knows the efficacy of human body as the basic resource to find  Shiva. ‘ghat ghat mei Ram samayo’ is a well-known verse.

            In the translation of the said-vakh  Prof. Parimoo conveys that the lamp of Lalla's self got lit-up and she realised her ‘self’, the real one and the light sparkled out. In the encompassing darkness she gripped the gem of her ‘self’ and never let Him go. What a translation and what an understanding ! It exposes Bimla Ji's unformed and uncultivated mind to smithereens.

Yava taar chali tim ambar hyata.............

                                                                  Vakh 08

            This is the vakh that establishes Lalla Ded as a poet of gentle moderation, advocating the use of clothes for safe-guarding the body from cold and wind disasters. She also exhorts the aspirants to ‘introspect’, otherwise they might miss the inherent meaning and purpose of life in the world.

            Here in the vakh Bimla Raina has chosen ‘bochi’ and ‘chali’ for linguistic tyrannies. She has replaced ‘bochi’ by ‘kyod’ and ‘chali’ by ‘gali’. Why ? She has not explained. ‘Bochi’ is a Kashmiri word drawn from Sanskrit word ‘Bubuksha’ and ‘kyod’ is another  Kashmiri word drawn from Sanskrit word Kyuda. Why replace boche by ‘Kyod’ when ‘bochi’ is aptly placed in the texture of the vakh. Then it is no longer her innovative bout as Dr. Grierson and Prof. Parimoo have given ‘kyod’ in the readings of the said-vakh.

            Her innovation lies in the usage of ‘gali’ for ‘chali’. She is absolutely ignorant of ‘bochi chalyan’ in our daily concourse and ‘bochi chalyan’ never means ‘bochi galyan’. The former expression means to eat to satiate hunger at a particular point of time. ‘Bochi galyan’ means its total suppression or extinction. Lalla Ded was not for suppression of hunger as is amply clear from the tenor of the said-vakh.

            The last line of the vakh has various versions conveying the same import. But Bimla Raina's re-construction of the line is sheer absurdity. It puts that ‘mind has to think what body is feeling or experiencing.’ It is understandable to the genius of Bimla Ji only. The Hindi translation of the Vakh is strange and mind -boggling.

Pawan purith yus ant vage.............

                                                     Vakh 09

Bimla Raina has been kind enough to leave the vakh almost untouched. Yet to win kudos from her patrons she has picked out ‘anta’ for crucifixion. The word ‘anta’ is of Sanskritic origins and means ‘an end’, ‘last of all’ or ‘in the final analysis’. But, to Bimla ji, it is ‘anti’ meaning inside. Be it told that the entire yogic praxis is an internal affair, an affair of the mind. The word ‘anta’ is placed in its proper context and conveys that what it does as per its context.

Achayan Aai to gachan gache.............

                                                            Vakh 13

            The vakh has incessant cycle of birth and death of a mortal as its main theme. It also sets the destination of a man to return to and be an integral part of ultimate source of life. ‘Kenh nata kenh’ is the metaphorical expression denoting the ultimate source of Reality.

            Bimla ji has failed to grasp the pith of the vakh when she twists ‘turi’ into ‘turya’. How can ‘turi’ be ‘turya’? Mortals have not to go to the state of ‘turya’ as the source of life and universe. It is Param Shiva who is the ultimate source of life and universe. ‘Turya’ is the fourth psychological state that a yogi has to pass through and if he comes to the state of ‘turyateet’, he requires Shiva's grace for ultimate upliftment and mergence into Him as the ultimate Reality.

            She has split up ‘yoria aayi’ into ‘yava rayi aayi’ for redundant meaning. She should have thought if ‘rai’ as a word could be in the word-hoard of Lalla Ded. The word has different origins. Then, the whole exercise is futile as it is not in sync with the innate soul of the vakh.

            The last line is so lofty and pregnant with meaning that any change in any word of the vakh renders it mutilated and incapacitated. The change of ‘nata’ and ‘kyah’ into ‘huta’ and ‘kyat’ is fanciful and childish.

            Before using her pen for a change in the last line she should have carefully mulled that Prof. Koul's and Prof. Parmoo's version of the line is identical. Even Pt. G. N. Raina's and Pt. Nila Kanth Kotru's reading of the line is no different. What impels her to effect the change ? Not understandable.

Chandan loosas pani panas...........

                                                    Vakh 18

            Here in the vakh Bimla Raina has picked out ‘loosas’, ‘althan’ and ‘bara bara bana’ for split and demolition. ‘Loosas’ is broken up into ‘lah achus’, far-fetched and irrelevant, ‘althan’ is changed into ‘aalithan’, reflective of her gross ignorance and ‘bara bara’ is mutated into ‘ bari bore’, a squirming de-construction.

            ‘Loosas’ has sufficiency of meaning underlining her exhaustion during the arduous struggle to discover her real self. ‘althan’ means a tavern, where people drink for pleasure. ‘Al’ in Sanskrit means ‘wine’. Here in the said-vakh it is the abode of Nectar, Sahasrar, the abode of Shiva. It can never be ‘aali than’, ‘ol’ is the kashmiri variant of Sanskrit word ‘aalaya’, nest in English. ‘Bari bore’, a laboured version of ‘ bari bari bana’, has no relevance to the tavern where aspirants,  if set on track, go in earnestness to drink cupfuls of wine, nectar, spiritual Nectar or wine. Lalla draws an optimistic picture for aspirants that they do have to put in stressful and arduous struggle for the quest within, but they as a result will enjoy the unique privilege of drinking the spiritual wine in chalices brimming to the hilt.

Aayas vate gayas na vate ...........

                                                     Vakh 21

            The vakh oozes out a sense of desperation and despair. Lalla Ded had descended direct from Shiva's Abode, but was not sure of the road-way that would lead her back to the same Abode.

            She has picked out ‘Suman’ and ‘Swath’ for tinkering. Suman is drawn from ‘seeman, a sanskrit word in origins and over a period of time got metamorphosed into ‘sum’ as is in vogue in common parlance. ‘Swath’ is a kashmiri word drawn from ‘Setu’, a Sanskrit word in origins. ‘Suman swathi manz’ denotes an embankment over which stood a ‘setu’, a bridge. It was there in the midst of the bridge over the embankment that Lalla Ded found the daylight fading because of the setting sun. It is her experience when she was groping in darkness and had not found a preceptor who was a perfect soul capable of initiating her in the Shaivite praxes and canon. Bimla ji has changed ‘loosum’ into ‘losi’, something happening in future. No, it is Lalla's experience when she was in ardent quest and  had lived the moment. ‘Har’ though an ordinary word, is so aptly placed that it conveys a wealth of meaning in the sense of ‘spiritual wealth or merit’. Another variant of ‘har’ is ‘Hara’ who is Lord Shiva Himself and Prof. Parimoo has dwelt upon its meaning after the manner of a great scholar on Lalla Ded.

Aayas Kami deesha ta Kami Vate...........

                                                                Vakh 23

            The readings of the vakh are almost identical in the versions of Prof. J.L. Koul, Dr. Grierson, Prof. B.N. Parimoo, Pt. Gopi Nath Raina and Pt. Nila Kanth Kotru.

            In this vakh Lalla Ded has alluded to the two theoretical concepts of ‘avarohan’ and ‘aarohan’ - descent and ascent. Had Bimla Raina known it, she would not have whimsically tampered with the words that are aptly placed in the vakh.

            To tamper with the text she has dragged ‘kawas rozun’ as a replacement for ‘kava’, meaning ‘how’ or what manner. How is it relevant ? Does it in any way light up the thought Lalla Ded aspires to express ? Bimla Raina does not weigh the words and their intrinsic relevance and worth  when she chooses to introduce them in the text of the vakhs.

            ‘Kanch’ and ‘Kanh’ are two variants that have been in parlance at various stages of linguistic evolution. But Bimla ji's replacement as ‘kanchun’ is the kashmiri variant of Sankrit-word ‘Kanksha’ meaning desire or wish. It tantamounts to the total mutilation of the vakh through the stipulated changes.

            The third line of the said-vakh is from an alternate reading  of it as given by Dr. Grierson. When there is a total agreement among the Lalla Ded scholars on the first variant of it, the alternate reading can be put but does not eliminate the original one.

Ban gol tai prakash aava zoone...........

                                                             Vakh 25

Bhan, chander, chitta and bhur, bhuva and swaha, all have special meanings in the yogic glossary.

‘Bhan’ means the sun and is drawn from Sanskrit word, ‘bhanu’. In the yoga terminology it is the microcosmic sun, which has twelve digits and throws its rays upwards through the Pingla on the right side of the yogic body suffusing the entire structure. ‘Chander’ is the ‘Chandrama’ which is the microcosmic Moon lying at the apex of the vertebral column. It has 8 or 12 digits, perennially exuding nectar, amrit, flowing down through Ida on the left side of the yogic body for sustenance and nourishment of the internal frame.

As per Khemraj, Bhanu and Chander are pran and apan which need sublimation for spiritual rise and flight.

‘Chitta’ is the limited form of ‘Chitti’, an infinite consciousness, the same as Shiva. ‘ Chitta’ denotes the waves of thought, its various shades ever disturbing the human mind.

Out of sheer ignorance of the sublime thought that had nourished and cultivated Lalla’s cerebral potentialities, Bimla Raina, to the consternation of all Lalla Ded lovers, has demolished ‘ban’ and its ruined remnants are ‘ba van,’ which, to her is ‘ mei ka bodh,’ her feeling of physical existence. It is incredible non-sense. Then, she demolishes a known word ‘ Chander’  into ‘Cha andur,’ again meaning ‘mei ka bodh’. It is repulsive non-sense doubled.

Bhur, Bhuvah and Swaha are known as ‘ Vyahrities’ in the Indian thought. ‘Vyahrities’ are translated into English as ‘interjections’.

What Lalla Ded conveys is that the sun melted away, the moon vanished, consciousness dissolved, there remained nothing , which means ‘ Shunya’, the principle of vacuity, which is Shiva or Supreme consciousness. And in this state the three vyahrities, the earth, the sky and the nether world too departed, ‘vyasarjith’.

Bimla ji has botched up the whole vakh, topsy-turvying and demolishing the words and their profound meanings.

Aayas ti syaduy ta gacha ti syaduy............

                                                                   Vakh 26

This vakh expresses the rock-bottomed faith of Lalla Ded that she is sure to return to the source of Shiva where-from she has directly descended. Ignorant of methodology of textual criticism and the language of Sanskrit, Bimla Raina has lifted the word ‘ agrai’ for a monstrous mutilation . To her, ‘agrai’ is ‘ agarai’ if in English and then she feels satisfied with the import of the Vakh.

‘Agrai’ is a Kashmiri word drawn from Sanskrit word ‘ agra ’ wich means source or beforehand. The word as such in the text of the vakh is appropriately placed and conveys its full import in total integration with the texture of the vakh. The change is fruitlessly effected without checking whether ‘agaria’, if, could be a word in the vocabulary of the times Lalla Ded had lived. For ‘agar’ her word is ‘yudvai’ or ‘yud’ which is directly drawn form Sanskrit word ‘ yadi’ and if ‘vai’ is added to it, it becomes ‘ yudvai’ in Kashmiri.

Her another change is based on gender. She thinks that ‘vyazai’ is gender-wise apter than ‘ vyaduy’. But this change we already find in the reading of the vakh as given by Prof. Parimoo. I feel that a wise critic would not look for such changes in the texture of vakh couching poetry, which is lofty in content and expressive in vocabulary.

In the glossary part of the vakh ‘ vyandun’ is translated as ‘chahna’, to wish, to desire,.But, it is not so. ‘ Vyandun’ is drawn from Sanskrit root ‘ vid’ which means ‘ to know’.

Nath na pan na par zonum............

                                                Vakh 27

In this vakh Bimla Raina  has spotted ‘ Sadai’ for her interference. ‘Sadia’ is drawn from Sanskrit word ‘ Sadaiva, meaning ‘ always’. ‘Sadia’ is now archaic and has fallen out of use. People who have nodding acquaintance with Lalla Ded do understand that ‘ sadia’ is Sadiva’, ‘ always’ in English

Laz kasi sheet nivari............

                                    Vakh 78

The said-vakh is manifest in its content and vocabulary. But, Bimla ji has wittingly destroyed it beyond conceivable limits. The essential spirit of the vakh is against animal killing.

She has plucked ‘ bata’ and ‘ vats’ from the text for de-construction and subsequent replacement. ‘ Hoota bata’ to her genius, is ‘ yuth haba hatha’.

The change evokes derisive laughter and is nothing but mockery of a change. It destroys the text of the vakh which is crystal clear in its import. Lalla Ded exhorts the foolish Bhatta, a pandit, to desist from offering a pulsating and harmless animal, though useful to man, at the altar of a stone, devoid of life and sensation. ‘ Acheetan vats’ is sufficiently clear to convey its import. But, to invest it with a lousy garb of ‘ acheetan hath’ is catastrophic and kills the soul of the vakh.

A mind that is devious in approach and premis gets exposed when in the explanatory notes it is written that ‘ hoota Bhatta’ has to be broken up as it does not address all sections of the kashmiri populace. It is of prime importance to know that Bhattas ( Pandits) were the only people living in the valley when  Lall Ded trod upon the soil of Kashmir . It is a fact that conversions had gained momentum, but the  neo-converts were on the border –line and had not distanced away from their cultural and civilisational inheritance.

Chuy deeva gartas ta dharti srazak............

                                                                 Vakh 79

The vakh underlines Shiva as the creator of life on the earth. Though soundless, yet his sound has all immanence. Such a God needs no proof to establish His existence.

The word ‘ srazakh’ is from a Sanskrit word ‘ srajak’, one who creates. The word srajak is replaced by the word ‘satraj aakh’ which is pure hogwash. How can ‘ dharti’ be changed into ‘darith’ and ‘ srajak’ into ‘satraj aakh’? The meanings of the words in the vakh are quite lucid and do convey the potentiality of Shiva as the creator.Nothing in the vakh hints at the veiling of the Lord for an act of creation.

To be precise, in Shaiva non-dualism of Kashmir creation means manifestation or emanation. The manifested thing is already within Shiva, which He wills to manifest. He manifests Himself to Himself.

The replacement of the weighty word ‘ srajak’ by ‘satrajaakh’ is  dubious too. Only dim-witted can think that Lalla Ded could have used the unusual and unknown word ‘satar’ when she had a tremendous word-hoard at her disposal to express the self-veiling act of Shiva. Lalla had a cultured mind glued to her own valued treasure-trove of inheritance.

Samsar nom tava tachai............

                                          Vakh 75

The changes that have been stipulated in the vakh are in no way valid.

‘Nom’, ‘ namya’, exactly as ‘nam’ is a sound word contextually placed. Why change it by ‘ nava’ which is its Kashmiri variant?

The second line of the quartet is in perfect order. The world as a blazing pan burns for those who are under the thick veil of forgetfulness, taking not-self as their essential self. ‘Mood’ in Shaiva parlance denotes a ‘ sakalakal’, one totally enmeshed in the duality of the world. The blazing fire that heats up the world-pan comprises anger, attachment, greed and immoderate sex. The enmeshed souls are lacking in personal discernment and suffering from non-availability of a perfect preceptor.

Gnan-mudra is the virtue of ‘Gnanies’ who through it fully comprehend the nature of the balzing world-pan. The Gnan-mudra can be realized through the yogic praxes.

Yihay matri-rup pai diye............

                                                Vakh 74

The vakh prima facie expresses the varied aspects of a woman, her different roles on the stage of life and world. It is quite an objective pictograph of a woman founded on the multi-dimensional experiences of Lalla Ded as an existing individual. It is graphically delineated in apt words.

What the vakh connotes for thoughtfuls is that ‘yihay prakriti’- this very prakriti, the materiality of the world assumes various forms of a mother, wife and killer. Shiva is the lord of the prakriti, its creator, and Maya is His potency and lords it over. In such a situation Shiva is fearful and hence a thoughtful is required to mull over the act of creation of the prakriti by Shiva.

Alongwith this shade of meaning can be juxtaposed another shade which highlights Shiva as kind, generous and merciful. Having known all this about Shiva, a discerning reader and a cultivated critic will not visualise ‘kruth’ as cruel and merciless. For him ‘kruth’ will mean ‘ Shiva is difficult to be accessed or reached’. Dr. Grierson, Dr. S.K. Raina, Pt. G.N. Raina and Prof. J.L. Koul have all appreciated the expression in the same light.

‘Shiva chuy kruth’ is replaced for the heck of it by an ugly formation ‘ kiva ishto,’ put in Hindi as ‘Shiva Kaise Ishta hei”. Is the change corroborated by internal or external evidences?

Bhasker Razdan, who has translated sixty vakhs of Lalla Ded into Sanskrit, has translated ‘ Shiva chuy kruth’ into ‘ kashten sadhyam Shivam’. The critics who are intellectually unfair or at zero donot rummage works on the subject that they treat for vital cues and use them for appropriate evaluation and appreciation.

Rava mata, thali-thali taptyan............

                                                        Vakh 73

The vakh is in the formation of a riddle. The sun and the rain-god, varun, though manifestations of Shiva only, have been vehicled to establish the sweep, immanence and universality of Shiva.

‘Thali’ and ‘luka garan’ have been plucked out for demolitional exercise. Prof Koul’s reading of the vakh is more accurate as it stresses the sun shining everywhere, on high and low. Dr. Grierson’s version carries ‘atma-thali’ in place of ‘thali-thali,’ thereby meaning it might shine upon his abode only.But the fact is contrary to it.

But, Bimla ji, a tinsel critic, has coined an unpoetic coinage like ‘a-utyam’ and smuggled it into the first line of the quartet, perhaps conveying ‘ordinary places’ as against sacred lands. ‘Looka gara’ is an explicit expression and why twist it into ‘loktyan garan’? ‘Looka gara’ conveys all about the varun-god universally showering its sheets of water without any discrimination.

Be it told that any changes that are to be brought about have to be corroborated and evidenced. Nobody’s fancy can enjoy a free rein and unbridled play. In the tantrik context ‘ravi’, which implies ‘surya’, has the nature of fire that destroys all meshes of duality and ‘varun’ stands for chandrama which is cool in nature and provides internal joy and mirth and nourishes it to the brim.

‘Surya and Varun’ as a combination symbolizes ‘ prakash and vimarsa’ in case of ‘shambava-upay,’ ‘Jhan Shakti and kriya shakti’ in case of  ‘shakhto pay’ and ‘pran shakti and apan shakti’ in case of ‘Anavopay’.

All the three rise and rest in the ‘madhya-nadi’ or ‘sushumna nadi’.

Shiva gur tai keshav palnas............

                                                       Vakh 06

It is an allegory of a superb order. Shiva is the horse, Keshav (Vishnu) is the saddle and Brahma is the stirrups. Brahma is the creator, Keshav is the preserver and Shiva is the assimilator. In fact, these three gods represent creation, preservation and assimilation, which are the three prime functions of Paramshiva. These three gods are not sovereign, but they act at the behest of Param Shiva and are His agents. As per the allegory Shiva’s vehicle is the horse, Keshav’s is the saddle and Brahma’s is the stirrup.

To further explain the allegory, reference must be made to the Sankhya thought to which the Kashmiri thought of Shaiva non-dualism is indebted for twenty-five tattvas constituting the materiality of Prakriti. As per Sankhya thought the horse with his saddle and stirrups symbolizes ‘satogun’, ‘tamogun’ and rajogun’, which are the attributes of Prakriti. Shiva as the assimilator represents ‘tamogun,’ keshav as the preservator represents ‘satogun’ and Brahma as the creator represents ‘rajogun’. The horse with all its paraphernalia is the ‘trigunatmac horse’.

The tradition of weaving allegories with horse as the leitmotif begins with the Upanishads, especially kathopnishad and Shuvetashvetar Upanishad. The allegory woven by Lalla Ded has Shaivite content of creation, preservation and assimilation as its motif but Upanishads had a different purpose for its usage.

Now, let us have a look at Bimla Raina’s innovations, all based on word Jugglery.

To destroy the allegory ‘gur’ derived from ‘turag’, a Sanskrit word, is twisted into ‘gor’ after the manner  of ‘ tamasha gor’, ‘gyawan gor’ and ‘gindan gor’. Without giving the origin of the word,‘gor’ it is taken as one who creates and conducts the ‘leela’ of the world. In the allegory Shiva is taken as one who assimilates (samharak) and not the one who creates.

‘Palnas’ as put in the allegory is changed into palnas and ‘payriyan’ is twisted into ‘pyryan’ denoting as per her ‘body metalbolism’, all far-fetched and phoney.

‘Parzanyas’ is altered into ‘praz-zanyas’. The reason for the change is given that ‘parzanyas’ means ‘paraya samajana’. It is gross ignorance of the word that has emerged from the basic root ‘ Jna’ getting changed into ‘ Janati, Janitah, Jananti’ when conjugated as per grammatical rules in Sanskrit.

Pari and prati are the prefixes added to the root ‘Jna’ and various words Jnan, parijnan, paribijnan, pratibignan and pratibijna are formed and zan, parzan, praznav, praznavun etc. are their kashmiri variants emerging after a protracted linguistic evolution and metamorphosis.

To change ‘ chadyas’ into ‘ chadyas’ is sheer absurdity and heightens the thoughtless violence on the vakh. The spirit of the vakh is that a yogi (atmanya aiva atma tushta) comes to learn about God who rides the ‘trigunatmac horse’ through His yogic prowess.

It should be rammed home to any ciritc emerging from blue that Brahma as the agency of Param Shiva is the creator and strengthening of body metabolism as has been hinted at does not mean an arduous act of creation (sreshti), which in Shaiva thought means manifestation of the world of objects. The entire stuff of explanations aimed at justification for the alterations are off the track and do not carry conviction.

Bimla Rain has managed to play trick on the said-vakh.But, I believe, she must have felt tremendous difficulty in handling the vakhs like, ‘Chyth twarug, gagan brahmvon’ and ‘Chyath twarug vagi hyath rotum’. That must be the reason to keep the two vakhs out of the purview of her book.

Anahat Kha Swarup shunyalai............

                                                        Vakh 07

This vakh has to be understood as a sequel to the vakh ‘Shiva gur tai keshav palnas’

The first-vakh has been totally botched up and it is axiomatic that the vakh that has to be studied as sequel to it shall suffer from grave impairment.

‘Anahat’, Kha-swarup, shunyalia, aham-vimarsa and nad-bind have philosophical meanings and need be studied and explained in the light of thought Ladda Ded was deeply wedded to.

Nad and Bindu as explained with  the help of ‘Hindi Sahitya Kosa’ by Bimla Raina or her mentor, the translator of the original Kashmiri version into Hindi, are far from accurate.

Bindu as per the Shaiva lexicon is perfect, undifferentiated, luminous, meta-physical and eternal consciousness Supreme. Nada is the expansion of Bindu for manifestation of what lies inside the Bindu. Bindu is ‘prakash’ and Nada is ‘vimarsa’.Bindu has no types as has been mentioned in the explanatory notes. It has layers of expansion, prasar or visfar, from ‘a-kala’, chita-kala, to Anand shakti (aa), Iccha-shakti (e,e), Jnan-Shakti (u,u) and Kriya-Shakti (re-ow). In total Bindu as the central luminous and perfect consciousness has eight layers of outer expansion. The expansion is inside the consciousness supreme and not-outside it. In Shaiva thought creation is manifestation or emanation. We see the objective world as a manifestation of that what is inside Param Shiva or consciousness supreme.

Anahat is certainly considered as the fourth station or state in the process of awakening up the Kundalini that lies coiled up in a state of sleep at ‘Muladhar’.But,it is not what Lalla Ded means by ‘anahat’. To her, ‘anahat’ has a nexus with Bindu and Nada. In fact, as is put in the vakh, Anahat is ‘Pranav’,an eternal, unhindered sound, Om. This very ‘pranav’ when in a state of unity or identity with consciousness supreme or Param Shiva is Bindu and when in expansion or visfar for outward manifestation is Nada.

The entire word-hoard, (Shabada rashi), when lying in a state of total un-differentation from the consciousness supreme (Chitti) is Bindu. But when it expands into various states of gross verbal expression, it is Nada. Hence the unhindered and perpetual sound ( Om ) is Bindu when in unicity with ‘Chitti’ and Nada when it evolves into verbal expressions through the stages of pashyanti, madhyama and vaikhuri.

Aham and Vimarsa as prime concepts of philosophical import for Lalla Ded have equally been messed up because of gross philosophical ignorance. The duo of ‘aham and vimarsa’ are the same as Bindu/Nada, Pranav in unicity with Param Shiva and in differentiated form of gross verbal expression. ‘ Aham’ is Bindu, Prakash, undifferentiated state of unity and beyond physics and vimarsa is Nada expansion, visfar and manifestation. Aham is undifferneitated ‘I, as an inherent stir and vimarsa is differentiated I-ness. This is why ‘Aham’ is a bija-mantar. Unaware of the subtleties of Shaiva thought. The tinsel critic has changed ‘Kha-swarop’ into ‘Ksa and ha swaroop’.For this some tantric works have been alluded to without giving Lalla Ded  readers their titles and publisher’s names. Be it told that Kashmir Shaivism is certainly founded on Tantric thought, but those tantras are non –dual tantras, not the tantras that accept Arda-narishwar as a vital concept. To the purists of kashmir Shaiva non-dualism the concept of arda-narishwar is based on dualism which accepts Shiva and Shakti as two separate entities and polarities. They hold that Shiva is Shakti when He wills to manifest Himself to Himself. Shakti is Shiva's inalienable potency to manifest, expand, and create multiplicity and differentiation.

‘Kha-swaroop’ is the right word as it denotes Shiva as beyond the relations of time and space. ‘Kha’ in Sanskrit means ‘akash,’ sky, etherealty or void. It has direct link with the type of God who will ride over the ‘trigun-atmac’ horse. Such a God is beyond the world and is Bindu, Prakash and Kha swaroop all transcendental attributes.

‘Kha-swaroop’ is connected with ‘Shunyalai’ which as per Shaiva non-dual texts means void, but not the Buddhist void, which is a total vacuity and emptiness. It is a void where-in the objective world lies in a state of absolute mergence in the consciousness supreme (chitti). The word meaning of ‘Shuniya’ is ‘abhava’ which if separated from the prefix of ‘a’ becomes ‘bhava’. ‘a’ stands for Shiva Kala, Anuttar, Param Shiva and ‘bhava’ typifies the world of objects. So, Shuniya, as per Lalla Ded, is that state of Shiva’s consciousness in which the world of objects lies merged in an undifferentiated and unmanifest form. Such a concept of’Shuniya’ is positive as against the negative shade of meaning that Buddhism has invested it with.

Andari ayas chandri garan............

                                                     Vakh 60

The tinkerings with this vakh are just superficial. The second line of this vakh begins with the word ‘garan’ in the readings of the line as are found in the versions of Prof. B.N. Parimoo, Dr. Grierson, Dr. S.K. Raina, Pt. G.N.Raina and Pt. Nila Kanth Kotru. The sole exception is the version of Prof. J.L.Koul, who gives the word ‘charan’, which exactly is the meaning of the word ‘garan’.

The replacement conceived by Bimla Raina is ‘gwaran’, as per her, an Arabic word, drawn form ‘ghour’with Hindi meanings of ‘manan, chintan, dhyan………’

Two cheers for her! She knows Arabic too.

The change is scandalous. Lalla Ded has no such word in her repertoire. Arabic was an unknown language during the period she lived and wove her poetry. It was Zain-ul-abidin who changed the language of the court, which was Sanskrit, by an alien language called Persian at the persistent prodding of foreign missionaries in Kashmir dominating his court. A poor student of History, called Bimla Raina, should not stoop to the abysmal level of thoughtlessness only to earn derision and revulsion.

The word ‘garan’ is the rightword as it is available in all versions of the vakh. It is an indigenous word, musical, oft used  by Lalla Ded to shape her mystical feelings. Then, mischievously other versions of the same vakh have not been reproduced as has been the case with other vakhs. If ‘garan’ is appropriately placed in the  first line, how come it loses its appropriateness in the second line. Poets repeat a word or a line for emphasis or for highlighting a special meaning. Shakespeare has repeapted ‘and’ three times to ram in his point. Arabic like other Semitic languages is so stiff-boned that ‘ghour’ if Arabic can never get shaped into ‘gwaran’. Semitic languages like the Semitic logic are rock-hard and non-malleable.

The word ‘Chandray’ has been broken up into ‘cha andrai’. It is crude and disgusting. In Shaiva yoga ‘Chandrama’ is taken for ‘apanvayu’ rising from outer dwadashant. During this process of inhaling ‘chitta’, mind, limited form of ‘chitti’, also goes inwards. ‘Chitta’ represents a collectivity of the outer world of objects, called in proper terminology as ‘ghat, pat, neel, sukh’ et al. Hence, Chandrama as in Shaiva yoga is accepted as the world of multiple objects.

Now, Lalla Ded through this illustrious vakh conveys that while practising ‘pran-apan’ process she attained a state of interiorisation of outer world of material objects, in fact, she sucked it up into her ‘swarup’, intrinsic nature. She also sensed a condition of ‘saksatkar’, communion of the objective world outside her with her own intrinsic consciousness. As a result for her as a yogini everything in her mind and that what is outside her in the world of objects, all is drenched in the exalted consciousness of Shiva. This condition is known in Shaiva parlance as ‘Bhairav mudra’. Some name it as ‘Jagdanand’.

The vakh is suffused with the Shaivite matter, but as result of her catholicity she has used ‘Naran’, Narayan, Vishnu, as the focal god, not shiva because all gods for her are potencies of Paramshiva, who is essentially responsible for the multiplicity of this world and all forms of differentiation which we as subjects witness all around us.

Ajapa gayatri hamsa hamsa zapith............

                                                                        Vakh 59

The word ‘hamsa’ has been exposited variously in the texts of Shaivagamas. The bija mantra of ‘hamsa’ is ‘ahamsah’. ‘aham’ is the divine will of Param Shiva and ‘Sah’ is the divine cognition of Him. ‘aham’ is taken as ‘pran’ and ‘sah’ is taken as ‘apan’. There is an incessant conflict going on between ‘pran’ and ‘apan’and the real yogis alone have the capacity to overcome the roaring conflict with the aid of their volitional power. The ‘Tantralok vivek’ draws a graphic picture of the conflict between ‘pran’ and ‘apan’

‘Hamsah’ as a bija mantra is uttered continuously till the stir (spanda) of vimarsha of the real self (swarup) is awakened. The mantra is to be internalised and must lead an aspirant to a state where he starts scirring his own pervasion of divine consciousness.

The word ‘aham’ has been replaced by ‘ham’. Why? ‘Ham’ emerges with the drop of ‘a’ sound due to regular and un-interrupted utterance of the whole mantra. When Lalla Ded refers to giving up ‘aham’, she means to convey that the mind-set of taking not-self as self has to be abandoned. And in Kashmir Shaiva thought it is called ‘avidya’ or ‘Ajnan’. The awareness of self-pride (gamand) in the elucidatory notes is not the point Lalla Ded has put across. ‘I-ness’ in an individual has come to him from Shiva only. But, it is limited ‘I-ness’. It has to outgrow its limitations to attain identity with the Supreme consciousness of Shiva where it gets totally submerged and remains in an undifferentiated form. The evolution of an individual from his limited I-ness to attain indentification with the consciousness of Shiva (chitti) is the value.

Tanthar gali tai manther moche............

                                                            Vakh 65

The vakh branded Bimla Raina, is moulded on the pattern as is available in Dr. Grierson’s Lalla –Vakyani. The other versions of the vakh as are available in the collections of Prof. J.L.Koul, Prof. B.N.Parimoo, Pt. Gopi Nath Raina, Dr. S.K.Raina and Pt. N.K. Kotru have been totally left out and ignored. How is it that the version of Dr. Grierson is taken as very authentic? His version of the Vakhs has not been taken as base-line to determine the worth and texture of Lalla Ded vakhs in totality. Due to her inherent incapacities to properly elucidate the content of vakhs the vendor of tinsel wares handles them as per her whim and fancifulness. There is no scheme and no methodology involved and no format that could accord her attempt a veneer of schematic approach.

The second line of the vakh stands tinkered with and ‘chyath’ is dropped for inclusion of ‘swapnya’, a strange construction interpreted as sahaj jnan, antardreshti and antar Jnan. ‘Svapan’ in English means dream which as per the seminal Shaiva text, Shiva-Sutra, is ‘svapno vikalpah’. When interpreted, Vikalpah means internal perceptions and thoughts. Mind of a man remains under persistent disturbance and confusion because of these currents and cross- currents of perceptions and thoughts. It is the condition of human mind in the state of wakefulness and continues to be the same during the state of dreaming. The projection of dreaming state, svapnya, to Bimla Ji as the state of intuition, Sahaj Jnan or antar jnan is monstrously and brazenly wrong.

The word that is apposite to the context is ‘Chyath,’ Chitta, derived from ‘Chitti’, infinite consciousness supreme. ‘ Chitta’, in modern parlance, is mind, a store-house of thoughts and perceptions. When it ceases to be, nothing remains. It is the state of ‘Turya’, the state of Bhairav, suffused with total God-consciousness.

To quote Svacchanda Tantra

‘Keeping the activity of the mind apart, one must unite, that activity in God-Consciousness. Then this bound limited being (pasu) will realize the state of Shiva and be liberated’.

Bimla Raina bound within the cocoon of her limited knowledge and range has declared ‘Shunyas shunya meelith gav’ as an interpolation made by some Lalla Ded scholars.

But, contrary to it, the fact remains that the line is absolutely germane to the whole tenor and content of the vakh.

‘Shunya’, to Lall Ded, is the sadak who has succeeded in calming down his ‘chit’, sum total of perceptions and thoughts and is in the state of ‘turya’, suffused with Bhairav consciousness and is merged in it.

‘Shunya’, therefore, is the person who has attained a loftiness of spiritual nature and is in ecstasy of consciousness known as ‘Chitta chamatkar’.

‘Shunyas’ is the consciousness supreme or Param Shiva, in whom the world of objects remains submerged in an undifferentiated form. It is not the Buddhist ‘shunya’ which is total vacuity, emptiness or void. It is the principle of all objects remaining in dilution and submergence within Shiva’s consciousness. Hence ‘shunyas’ refers to Param Shiva, who is a void, but the world of objects remains in a state of non-differentiation within Him. His state is both void and not-void.

To quote a Shaiva-Shastra

Ashunyam Shunyam iti’ ukhtam shunyat cha abhava ishyate!

Abhava satu vijneyo yatra bhava layam gata !!

‘Shunyas shunya meelith gava’ means the union of an aspirant having attained Bhairav consciousness with the Supreme consciousness of Shiva.


            Mrs. Bimla Raina's attempt at re-orientatioin of Lalla Ded vakhs is biased and prepossesed. The whole attempt is laboured, far-fetched and does not even minimally add to the honing up of vakhs for better understanding and appreciation. As a poet of tremendous originality Lalla Ded cannot be imposed with meanings that belie her own indigenous content as expressed in her glittering vakhs. As a witness to horrible and volatile developments in her native place she exhorted the foreign Islamists working under the garb of Sufism and mis-using religion to see God's essence in all men of all faiths without discriminating one human being from the other on the basis of religion. Lalla Ded's thunder remains and has gained more relevance in present day Kashmir reduced to a veritable hell by crazed crusaders and religious fanatics.



1.       Lalla Ded - Prof. Jia Lal Koul

2.       Ascent of Self - Prof. B.N. Parimoo

3.       Lalla Vakyani - George Grierson

4.       Lalla Ded - Dr. S.K. Raina

5.       The word of Lalla - R.C. Temple

6.       Sanskrit Translation of 60 Vakhs of Lalla Ded - Rajanak Bhaskar

7.       75 Vakhs of Lalla-Ded - Anand Koul Bamzai

8.       Amritvani - Ram Joo Kalla

9.       Lalla Vakhs - Pt. Jia Lal Koul Jalali

10.     Lalleshwari Vakya Rahasya - Pt. Gopi Nath Raina

11.     Lalla Ded - Prof. R.N. Koul

12.     Siva-Sutra - Vasugupta

13.     Pritibijna Hrdyam - Khemraj

14.     Pandit Sarwanand Chiragi (Urdu Translations)




amipana Oma pana
Jin ya zi
bhava ruja bhava raj
vachun vakhchun
nangai nihangai  
divar vata dehvar vata
pyatha buan shuniya and earth
hoota bata huta ba hatha
al, pal, vakhur gar kee samgree (Hindi Translation)  
kan kad
vanun  woni  na yun
kol and akol vakhat, be-vakhat (Hindi Translation)  
vakh, manas mansik japa (Hindi Translation)
asi  a-oose
samahan samtahan
vokshun voha-akhyun
kahan kohan  
abakh chyan abodi chyan
razdane rasdwaney
tirath ros titha rasi  
mali moal
zanha zan yee ha
kruth kiva ishto (Hindi Translation)
paran (read) paran (decorate)
zaldava zaldyon
mot-bolnovum mann bodhi novum  
milith tas mann milvith mann pran
dama dama kormas damaha dommus
gati  guthi
chentan dih vankavan chenta dehas vyan kyah von
anta anti
yorai ayi yava rayi ayi  
turi turiya  
nata and kyah huta and kyat
loosas lah achus
althan aalithan
bara bara bari bore
loosum losi  
suman swathe sum na swathe
bhan ba van
chandar cha ondur
agrai agar ai
sadai sadiva
bata yuth haba hatha
dharti darith
srazak satraz aakh
nom nav
yihai shivai  
kruth kiva ishto
thali-thali a - utyam thali
luka gari loktyan garan
gur gor  
palnas palnas
ashvawar ath savar
kha-swaroop ksha and h swaroop
chandrai cha-andrai
garan gwaran (Arabic)
aham ham
chyath swapnya

Review - Lalla has no linkage with Islamic Sufism

Prof.  M. L. Koul 

R.N. Koul's book on Lalla Ded has in no manner thrown any new light on the historical times that provided background setting for the emergence of a personality like Lalla who by and large shaped a response to the challenge posed by the forces of religious intolerance and obscurantism. A mere superficial reference to the religious and political turbulence, that ravaged the Happy Valley does not explain it. The learned author could have taken a cue from Sir Richard Temple, who, despite his distortions and misinterpretations, has surveyed the total political and religious scenario to ensure a thorough comprehension of the shaping processes of Lalla's mind and thought. 'Orthodex' 'Brahmanism' and 'aggressive Islam' (due to some fanatics) fall into a pattern of cliches in absence of a relevant exposition objective in approach and premise. 'A tradition or cult engendered by Hindu mystics and Muslim Sufis' needs a thorough and dispassionate discussion which the author has given a short shrift. 

There are evidences galore to establish that Kashmir enjoyed a tremendous reputation for being an abode of rishis (rishi vatika) harbouring a strong and coherent indigenous tradition of rishi-cult with its root systems embedded in the vedic age. In terms of history, Sufism in its essence was absolutely foreign to Kashmir. It was introduced in the religious ambience of Kashmir by the Muslim proselytizers. Most of them sought protection in Kashmir when they were under persecution in their native lands for their indulgence in politics and affairs mundane. A Sufi owing affiliation to the Kubrawe sect of sufism imposed twenty humiliating conditions on Hindus. The learned author does not seem to be sure which Sufi-cult he is alluding to. Does he refer to the same sufis that have authorized the chapter of inconoclasm and religious strife in Kashmir' He is perhaps led-into the belief of the existence of a mis-labelled Sufi-cult in Kashmir by the native rishis, are perpetuators of the mainstream native tradition bequeathed to them by Lalla and her galaxy of cultural progenitors having no linkages with the Islamic Sufisim of Central Asian vintage. 

In the sub-title of the book the learned author has perhaps more wittingly than unwittingly re-introduced an Islamised name for Lalla Ded. A similar campaign was spearheaded at the inaugural function of Lalla Ded Hospital, which was initially christened as Lalla Arifa Hospital by the powers that be. A person sitting in the audience challenged. The far-fetched and unhistorical references to Lalla Ded. The function presided over by Sheikh Abdullah was literally disrupted by the vigorous intervention of an old man leaning against his scaff. The Sheikh dithered under a wave of protest by a number of genuine intellectuals including Pt Jaya Lal Koul and Pt PN Pusp (professors of classical vintage) and ordered formation of a committee to have a second look at the Lalla Arifa nomenclature. On the recommendations of the committee the Islamised nomenclature was dropped again to be picked up by the learned author for a new dress up a revival for wayward reasons, may, opportunist considerations. 

Lack of thorough grounding in the basics of Kashmir Shaiva monism (paradvya) is the Achile's heel of the whole work which in fact has impaired the critical evaluation and treatment of the pithy vakhs of Lalla. It is a misnomer to call Trika Shastra as Kashmir Shaivism. Trika is a strand of Kashmir Shaiva monism and understandably a part cannot represent the entire thought model. It is equally relevant to point out that Kashmir Shaivism is not an apt name for the system which has pristine non-dualism as its cardinal principle. The deceptive no-menclature gained currency with the publication of JC Chatterje's first doctoral thesis on the subject. 'The theory and practice of Kashmir Shaivism' in which Lalla was initiated by her preceptor, Siddha Shri Kanth, was neither dualist nor dual-cum-non-dualist, but essentially monist in assumptions. Sir Richard Temple has expressed an amazing grasp of the over-riding spirit of Lalla when he chracterised her as 'Shaiva Yogini'. Had the learned author heeded his appraisal, he would not have digressed to recount all forms of yoga that have little relevance in Kashmir Shaiva monist thought. Patanjali Yoga stresses the regression of human senses and other natural proclivities. But the monist thought recognised their positive role in the processes of higher ascension through their sublimation and satiation. The yogic terms have been absorbed in the system but stand ruminated with new nuances of meaning and semantics. The word 'Bindu' originally known as 'Vindu' denotes unidifferentiated condition of infinite luminous consciousness supreme. 'The mystic moon and the mystic sun' carry three shades of meanings in sync with Shaiva Yoga methodologies of Shambava, Shakta and Anava. In Shambava methodology the mystic moon and the sun are representative combination of supreme luminosity (Prakash) and I-consciousness (Vimarsa). In Shakta methodology they imply Jnana and Kriya and in Anava methodology they denote prana and apana. The mystic sun also symbolises an inflamable energy that burns out meshes of duality. The mystic moon also refers to 'apana breath' deemed as cool and invigorating and the mystic sun alludes to 'prana breath' which is suffused with warmth. Sahasrasar is the repertoire of infinite consciousness in the being supreme. 'Hamsa' is derivable to 'ham' and 'sah', the former indicates the divine will of the Lord and the latter divine knowledge. In Swacchand Tantra 'Hamsah' is explained in the sense of 'I am That' symbolising' undifferentiated and indivisible being. 'Sushumna' is known by other variants like brahma-nadi, madhya nadi or madhya-dham. Buit as per Shaiva-yoga in tersm transcendental it is known as all pervading Samvit-Shakti penetrating the sentient and insentient objects.In the classic work of Ishwarpratybijjna utpaldev has explicitly explained five forms of prana-shakti as prana, apana, saman, udana, and vyana (Ishwarpratybijjna, 3,2,19). 

A systematic study of Lalla's Vakhs as is deftly made by BN Parimu in his book 'Ascent of self 'establishes that she had undergone all relevant processes of becoming to mature into the state of divine consciousness which in Shaivite parlance is known as 'Shiva Samavesh'. When initiated she had to work out the practices recognised under Anava methodology like japa, vrata, niyam, dhyam, dharna for yoking the sensesinatured tendencies for entry into the Shakta grade for higher elevation. An initiate is certainly helped is under proper guidance he practises all the formulae which the learned author has huddled under, Hindu, ritealistic system'. After a seeker attains higher phases of consciousness, such methodologies become redundant and are of nouse. In sivastatravali, utpaldev has put:- 

Na yoga nor tapo Nacharkrama koapi preniyate!  
Amaye Shivamarge asmin bhakti eka prashyaste !! 

Lalla was a witness to the turbulent times. She was honing up her thought and working out its actualisation by harnessing her body potentialities and inherent urges. She through her vakh "Shiva chuy thali thali rozan, mozan Heund ta musalman.." castigated the proselytisers not to differentiate between Hindus and Muslims and called upon them to take to the path of Trika (trial of para, parapara and apara) which would lead them to self-recognition (pratybijjna). As an initiated follower of Shiva monism she had learnt to rise above the distinctions of caste and religion and disseminated the message to proselytisors who advocated and practised conversions as cure to imaginary ills out of xenophobic considerations. 

In his curious explanation of the Vakh 'temple is built of stone as the stone he worships' the learned author establishes her as a 'trend-setter' as he has decried the 'false pantheon of Hindu's and 'their blind faith' in finding God by 'singing hymns to the stone lingam'. As Lalla was thoroughly grounded in the fundamental precepts and tenets of Shaiva monism planked on tantric assumptions, she could not subscribe to external forms of worship signifying duality notwithstanding their efficacy at initatory stages. 'Shaiva Bakhti' rejects daulism and focuses on Shiva pervading the worshipper, the worshipped and instruments of worship as the focal point of worship. Tantras have not accepted any form of external and ritual worship and as Kashmir Shaiva monism has tantric asumptions as its substatum, Lalla as an initiated practitioner of it could not but reject it in ultimate analysis. She has in no way rejected or decried the pantheon of Buddhist and Hindu Gods who as per her thought considered them as various manifestations of Citi (supreme consciousness).  Before coming to a far-fetched conclusions, the author should have considered the following vakh:- 

Shiva of Keshava or Jina  
or Brahma, the lotus born Lord  
May be remove from me  
the sickness of the world!  
It may be He or He or He  
(For He is one though variously called)  
J.L. Koul's rendering. 

That Lalla danced naked as put in an emotion-packed vakh and moved about naked as per a legend has evoked various responses from scholars who have written upon Lalla's life and her poetical outpourings. Shanker Pandit, a scholar and practitioner, suggested to replace the word 'nangaya' (naked) by the word 'nonguy', said to be a flower growing wild on mountain slopes. The learned author, Koul, finds a lot of incompatibility in Lalla 'moving about naked' and 'her incarnation as the 'Muse of knowledge' and more prcisely 'as the Muse of poesy'. In his attempt at reconciliation he attributes it to her 'miraculous powers'. 

The fact about Lalla remains that she was initiated by her preceptor, a perfect soul, through the laconic metaphor of 'turn your gaze within' which like an alchemy metamorphosed her whole being. She became one with the Shiva consciousness in a manner of absolute synthesis. As freedom (swatnatrya) is an inherent attribute, call it nature, of absolute consciousness, Lalla in the same condition of consciousness cognised her self and true cognition lies in the realisation that pure undifferentiated consciousness is infinite freedom itself. It is the same stateof infinite freedom that is symbolised by Lalla singing that she danced naked in joyecstactic. 

What is said above is corroborated by the statement about Shambhava, Upaya in Malinivijaya Tantra. That is said to be Shambhava-Samavesha which happens to one whohas attained freedom from all ideation by an awakening imparted by the guru (preceptor) or by an intense awakening of one's own. 

There are other inaccuracies and mis-statements littering over the book. Kashmir Shaiva monism does not consider 'flesh' i.e. human body as 'dross'. It has given the body an utmost importance as it serves as a vehicle for purposes spiritual. Five bhutas have been stated as five senses. 'Moha' is translated as illusory pleasures. It should have been translated as delusory pleasurers as Kashmir monism does not subscribe tothe thesis of world as an illusion or chimmera. World as per its tenets is a manifestatino of Shiva. It,therefore, cannot be termed as illusory. Delusory implies all that which is taken for self, but falls withinthe ambit of 'not'self'. Desires and other natural urges are not to be crushed to powerdish non-existence' nor are these to be 'burnt'. Kashmir Shiava monism advocates the sublimation and gratification of senses and desires which paves the wa to the final state of self-cognition. 

The book is a good reading especially in the portions where inner themeof the Vaakhs has been elucidated. Such an attempt pioneers a new trend inthe exposition of Lallar Book: Kashmir's Hermat Poetess Lalla Ded Alias Lalla Arifa by R.N. Koul Pages 101, Price 150.

Sun Worship in Kashmir

by Prof. M.L. Koul

The sun-god is in essence is a Vedic god and its reverential worship has been widely prevalent throughout including Kashmir. In the Rig-veda we find a web of mythology woven around the sun-god known as Aditi. During the upanishadic era the sun-worship had assumed tremendous significance and the Chamdogya upanishad is replete with references to the sun-worship as it created life and also nourished it. In the Mahabharata the sun-god attained a sweeping sovereign status and in some respects was deemed more significant than most other gods in the Hindu pantheon. The sun-worship was so pervasive that massive temples were built in honour of the sun-god. The magnificent Konark temple, built in the eleventh century A.D. testifies to the importance and prevalence of the sun-god worship.

The sun-worship touched a new height during the reign of King Harsha. In his court, an eminent writer Banabhata, has made a specific reference to Harsha's father, who was an ardent devotee of sun-god and offered its worship as a matter of regular practice. Kalhana's Rajatarangini equally establishes that the sun-worship was prevalent in Kashmir too. As Kashmir had been a crucible of numerous cultural traditions and trends, the sun-god was worshipped alongwith a litany of religious gods and icons connected with Buddhism, Shaivism and Vaishnavism. As per Kalhana, a ruler named Ranaditya as a devotee had built a sun-temple at a place known as 'Simharotsika'. The temple was said to be grand, massive and exemplary in terms of art. He has made a mention of another sun-temple, known world over as Martand. This temple is built on an elevated plateau in natural ambience in the vicinity of Mattan in Anantnag.

The temple was made to perfection by Lalitaditya, who besides being a conqueror was a great builder. Martand as a temple has been evaluated as the 'germ of Indian architecture', which set a trend in the contemporary temple architecture. The temple caused amazing wonder to medieval fanatic Zealot Sultan Sikander, who set up a government department to destroy it by the use of gun-powder. The hamlet of Mattan which has been of great religious importance to the Hindus all over India has been traditionally known as the 'Surya tirth', a place of sun-pilgrimage. After Mattan, second in importance was Kwalkhetra, not far away from Srinagar. Here Pandits would go on pilgrimage for sun-worship and for a purificatory bath to wash off worldly sins. As per Nilmatpurana, there were eight places exclusively meant for sun-worship in Kashmir. The temples built at the places were known as Aryaman Arka, Divakar, Surya , Savitra, Martand etc, all these words are synonyms of the word sun. Kashmiri Pandits still stick to a number of rituals, which are directly related to sun-workshipr


The Kashmiri Pandit scholars who were intimately connected with Dr George Grierson were not at all in agreement with his formulations about the origins of Kashmiri language. There were many other European scholars like Ralph Turner, Joules Block, Stenkonow and George Morgenhtierna, who openly flouted the observations made by Grierson. The fundamental word-hoard of Kashmiri language, its syntax, its noun and verb forms and more than most words related to agricultural processes and names of implements used during such operations owe their origin to Sanskritic word-hoard. Dr Grierson has placed Kashmiri in the Dardic group of dialects and subdialects. These, as per him, are intermediate to the Indo-Aryan and Iranian groups of languages. Stenkonow and Joule Block have placed the Dardic languages or dialects within the Indo-Aryan group of languages and not in the Iranian cluster of languages. Even the very word 'Dard' is itself a Sanskritic word and as a language is a metamorphosed form of old Vedic Sanskrit Languages Chitrali, Kafri, Shina, Kashmiri and Kohistani are the Dardic group of languages,which in terms of linguistics are directly related to Paischachi, which is a recognised prakrit, having a sufficient quanta of litterature.

According to Hornley, Pashachi is a Dravidian prakrit, but Purshotamdeva and Dr Gune as experts consider it a metamorphosed form of Sanskrit and Shaursemi prakrit. It is pertinent to put that Dr TN Ganjoo under the able guidance of Dr RK Sharma, former HoD of Hindi, Kashmir University, has thoroughly researched the subject and established the origin of Kashmiri language to the Vedic Sanskrit. Dr Grierson had colonialist imperatives in distorting the origins of Kashmiri language in a region, which was being eyed by British Imperial government for imperialist designs. Dr Grierson, whose presumptions were accepted uncritically, was equally unaware of the fact that the literature of Kashmiri language pre-dated fourteenth century and references in this behalf, which are of extreme relevance are available from the works of Abhinavagupta, Bilhana, Kalhana.

Review - Zakhmoo Ki Zabani

Commented upon by Prof. M.L. Koul

Author: Pandit Rishidev, Zanipora, Anantnag

Pages: 256      Price : Rs. 100/-

Pandit Rishidev who is a native of Zainpora, tehsil Shopian, Kashmir has remained a political activist of long standing. The Muslim communalists were as cruel to him as to Kashmiri Pandits in general even though he had been deeply wedded to the cause of peasant welfare and upliftment. Rishidev’s role in the initiation and implementation of purposeful schemes and projects directly related to agricultural operations for increased yield has been widely acclaimed even by his adversaries with communal motivations. Like all Kashmiri Pandits he was driven out of his home and hearth and as a consequence has been wallowing in exile for the past eleven years. His house at Zainapora has been blazed by vandals drawing support from the local Muslim population. In his 155-paged book titled as ‘Zakhmoo Ki Zabani’, essentially a memoir, he has delved in the repertoire of his political experiences with an attempt to put it in perspective. It is pertinent to put that Rishidev in his political career spanning five decades, has had affiliations with National Conference, Indian National Congress, Communist Party of India, Democratic National Conference and Kashmiri Pandit organisations.

The ferocious loot, plunder and murder of Kashmiri Pandits in 1931 has found many proponents who have invented the spurious thesis of ‘political and economic oppression of Muslims by the ruling class and their henchmen’ and justified the loot as the struggle of enslaved people against the despotic rule, despite its aggressively communal complexion in its outward form. To cover up the role of marauders a researcher in his thesis has shifted the scene of bigotry and belligerence from Kashmir to Punjab with a view to tracing its communal hue and motivation. In his vivid account of 1931 happenings Rishidev has debunked the text-book formulations of ‘political and economic oppression’, ‘victimized and enslaved people’ and ‘despotic rule’ and has focussed on the communally tainted pathological mind that has been ruling roost in Kashmir seeking satiation in infliction of atrocities of loot, arson and murder on Kashmiri Pandit minority.

But, sad as it is, Rishidev, though having a bias for Marxist ideology, has not put the 1931 loot in its proper perspective by probing the role of political and communal forces that planned and executed the loot and murder. He has spared the Reading Room Party which had forged links and alliances with the British Political Department Ahmadiyas. The loot of Kashmiri Pandits was part of a bigger game. The Britishers wanted the Maharaja to abdicate his sovereignty over Gilgit which had emerged as a strategic point on the chess-board of British politics in the region. Through  loot Kashmiri Pandits were punished for the expression of their patriotic sentiment when they made a bonfire of foreign goods. The correspondence between BJ Glanay, L.E. Lang and other British spies and Sheikh Abdullah was first splashed by the Blitz issued from Bombay and found detailed analysis in the ‘Tragedy of Kashmir’, a book authored by H.L. Sexena and banned by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir. Ahmadiyas though hated and shunned as deviants from Islam had clandestine links with the leader of the Reading Room Party. Punjab being their main operational base they spent fabulous sums to fan out in Kashmir.

Despite giving some details about the horrendous loot of 1931, Rishidev has not probed the vicious role of Qadeer, a man from Peshawar and a waiter in the employ of an English army officer. His sudden appearance in the mosque of Mir Ali Hamdani, where Muslims had collected in considerable numbers for a political act of choosing their representatives for an audience with the Maharaja was not and could not be accidental. In fact, the whole game plan was pre-thought and pre-planned. Qadeer’s venomous oratory which M.J Akbar lauds ignited the communal trigger resulting in the loot, arson and murder of Kashmiri Pandits throughout the Valley. To be more precise, Qadeer was an Ahmadiya plant and the same was corroborated by Molvi Yousuf Shah, Mirwaiz of Kashmir, who was interviewed by Ghulam Hasan Khan, an author on post-1931 political developments in Kashmir.

Owing allegiance to communist politics Rishidev could be one of those Kashmiri Pandit political activists who ideologically believed in the efficacy of land reforms and liquidation of rural debts as twin measures for retrieval of peasantry from economic backwardness. That was how D.P. Dhar who rose to be a central minister was the first to surrender his lands to the Muslim tenants without any consideration. Jia Lal Taimiri who was known for his proverbial honesty and kept a vigilant eye on the corruption and kitties of National Conference leaders and hence detested had also surrendered his lands to the tenants much before the land grab had started. Taimiri was a socialist by conviction. The Muslim leaders of National Conference vintage never emulated or appreciated the extra-ordinary precedent set by the two prominent leaders of Kashmiri Pandits. Instead what they did was to project the Kashmiri Pandits as a community of exploiters.. The fact was that Kashmiri Pandits, not all, but some of them like Muslims, were petty chakdars who had sold their precious assets and ornaments to purchase land. In Mirpur the land was owned by the Muslim land-lords who had been more cruel to their co-religionist tenants than their counter-parts elsewhere. Curiously they were not projected as exploiters of Muslims. Instead Hindu Mahajans pursuing the indigenous system of banking were focussed as the ‘target group’ and ruthlessly harassed and looted by the ‘Jathas’ (groups) despatched from the Punjab by the Ahrars who had pretensions to secularism and deserted the Congress ranks in the wake of the formation of Muslim League for the avowed objective of a separate land for Muslims.

The Kashmiri Pandit communists and radical humanists as the innovators of land reforms in terms of an ideograph never controverted the malicious disinformation unleashed by the Muslim leadership of National Conference against Pandit minority in general. The fact is that they were rootless people mired in the quagmire of fantasy leagues away from any commitment to the weal and welfare of the community. Unthinkingly and myopically they pandered the politics of Muslim majoritarianism wedded to the idea of entrenching itself in the state power in perpetuity. Sad as it is, they were completely ignorant of their past history of gore and blood and failed to learn lessons from history with a view to shaping their reasonable responses to the challenges emerging for them as a vulnerable community. It was absolutely bad politics as to have lent unqualified support to the forces of Muslim sub-nationalism unfolding under an elusive facade of left-oriented programmes and sham slogans. As is known to all and sundry consistency was never a virtue of Sheikh Abdullah. He tried to draw maximum support from local communists and communist leadership at national level when he told such elements that he was following their road-map and implementing their cardinal programmes. In his meeting with Loy Handerson he allayed his fears about his radicalism when he told him that he implemented land reforms just to appease communists within National Conference.

It was not for nothing that Sheikh Abdullah divulged the land reforms plan in toto from the pulpit of National Conference much before it was put in practice. The purpose was to tip off in advance all the Muslim land-lords to negotiate with their Muslim tenants for showing their land-holdings under self-cultivation or distributing the lands in excess of standard ceiling among family kins. In the process religious affinities were exploited to the hilt. Kashmiri Pandits were at a disadvantage as they subscribed to a different faith. As a matter of prudence a Kashmiri Pandit land-lord had distributed his broad acres among his family kins much before land reforms gained momentum to dispossess a small minority. Later on the mutations attested by the competent revenue authorities were ordered cancelled on the intervention of Revenue Minister who was brazen in his religious prejudices.

The Land Reforms Committee nominated in April, 1948 was stuffed with members who were  rubber stamps. There was not a single member equipped with thorough knowledge of all the contemporary models that had been under experimentation in various countries of the world. Nor were the services of a reputed economist borrowed to make the exercise rational, fair, meaningful and purposeful. Why were not the Soviet-type co-operative and collective farms accepted as a model? Why were not the Brazilian and the Chinese models considered for implementation? In fact, no studies were made on scientific lines. No blue-print was spelt out. No long ranging discussions were held with respect to the whole exercise. The communists made a ridiculous suggestion to involve ‘peasant committees’ for the stipulated grab. The nominated members felt proud to mouth panegyrics to the new age lord donning the authority of the chairman of the committee. Dissent if any was dubbed as treachery. The chairman alone knew the contours and shades of the plan and  modalities of its execution. The members getting Rs 200/- p.m. were required to repose full faith in the omniscience of the chairman. The Pandits on the committee were silently told that in view of the plebiscite being held under UN supervision mass of peasants had to be won over for India and giving them land on a platter could be the best bait. This was how Pandit resistance if any to the absurdities of the executive fiat was eliminated.

The first secretary of the Land Reforms Committee, a Kashmir, a senior-most Revenue officer, took no time to resign from the committee when he was apprised of the content and methodology of the land reforms as the exercise was officially trotted out. He shocked the chairman of the committee by candidly telling him that he could not be a party to an act which prima facie was illegal. The Muslim policy as it was then, so it is now was to involve a Kashmiri Pandit for implementation of the executive fiat of a sensitive nature. A frantic hunt was launched and the man picked up was a mere matriculate, pliant and senile, career conscious and myopic. He slavishly followed the dictates of his new found masters. When he was asked to bend, he went whole hog for genuflection. The way land reforms were implemented, it virtually ended in the wresting away of land from Hindus and its transfer to the Muslims. To have his own pound of flesh, he meekly approached the powers that be for his elevation to the position and status of the Financial Commissioner. A vehement ‘no’ from the then Prime Minister of the state sent a chill down his spine. The Kashmiri Pandit, perhaps, was ignorant of the resolution of the Muslim Conference submitted to the Maharaja in which among other things it was clearly spell out that no Kashmiri Pandit should be appointed to the key-positions in the state administrative apparatus.

The Emergency Administration and the Interim Government lost no time in embarking upon the loot of the landed properties. Both were headed by Sheikh Abdullah who chose himself for the echelon and people were afforded no chance to express their pleasure or displeasure. The land grab process started when there was no elected legislature,  no supervening constitution spelling out a forum for redressal or restoration of basic rights if encroached upon. It was a total vacuum which was fraudulently exploited to snatch away landed properties that were either purchased or legally inherited. The new bosses having been appointed to the positions at the helm had yet to establish their representative character under a constitutionally spell-out democratic process. The loot of landed properties was nearly complete till 1952 when the constituent assembly was constituted under a facade of elections which did not grant any political space to the opposition groups present in the state. The bankruptcy of the political leadership in the country became evident when the list of fundamental rights as incorporated in the Republican Constitution was not allowed full-scale application to the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir with a view to facilitate the processes of loot being perpetrated on the bonafide citizens of the country. The State High Court as appointed by the highly detested ruler of the state dithered in establishing rule of law under a fear psychosis generated by the Emergency and Interim Government lineage-lords. In fact, the accession issue was used, as a weapon of blackmail to weaken the resolve of the Central government to establish the full-dimensional sovereignty of the Republican Constitution over the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The then Indian leadership was shaken in their roots when the five members of the J&K state refused to bring the state under the purview of the Republican Constitution. One of the five members was a Hindu from Jammu.

Rishidev is reticent on many issues which have been raised from time to time in relation to the content and methodology of the land reforms. He does not confess that the Land Reforms Committee as constituted under an executive fiat was a mere eye-wash. He does not even dilate upon the differences that had divided the leadership of the National Conference on some of the basic issues relating the land reforms. He does not even tell us that the will of the chairman of the Land Reforms Committee was the ultimate arbiter. He is silent on the issue of the standard ceiling which was fixed at 182 kanals of land and does not convey as to why and how it was kept open for future tamperings to destabilize a vulnerable minority. He does not seem to be aware of the fact that soon after the abolition of the Big Estates Act of 1952 no fewer than 10,000 Kashmiri Pandits bid adieu to their land of genesis in search for a pittance elsewhere.

There are some more vital issues which Rishidev has failed to ponder and clarify for guidance of the posterity. How was it that the ceiling was fixed With an individual as a unit of cultivation, not a family? Did he know its implications? It meant that a family was allowed to have as many times the amount of ceiling land as the number of sons in the family and their father. It also meant that they could possess as many times the portions of  exempted lands like bedzars, safedzars et al. It cumulatively meant that a family was deliberately allowed to own a big landed estate. Rishidev, Dr NN Raina, Moti Lal Misri, DP Dhar, Shyam Lal Saraf and those Kashmiri Pandits who declared.



The Family of Manto

By Dr. Brij Premi

Translated from original Urdu text by Prof. ML Koul

There are no two opinions about the Kashmiri origins of Sadat Hasan Mantoo. His father from his externals demonstrably appeared to be a Kashmiri. Dressed in a coat with a buttoned up collar, a Kashmiri-style turbon on his head and flaunting a dyed-up beared he would drag the Kashmiri labourers working in the Punjab to his sitting room and lovingly tell them, 'I am also a Kashmiri'.

In his myriad writings Mantoo too has proudly written about his Kashmiri origins and even accepted the label of 'hato' with all its insulting sting that, feudalistic people low in culture would frequently hurl at Kashmiris. In fact, it never instilled a feeling of inferiority in his psyche. He writes:-

'I am a Kashmiri—a hato'.

All his life he craved for Kashmir.

In a letter he yearns for a life in Kashmir and that emotive yearning was deeply buried in his sub-conscious. He felt it perpetually biting him like a venomous snake and its expression is found variedly expressed in his writings.

It was during 19th century that his family shifted to Punjab. It like many other Kashmiris lived off the Shawlbaf trade. The ancestor of the family, Rahmat Allah, settled at Lahore and later on shifted to Amritsar permanently with the design of expanding his trade. The family continued living at Amritsar for generations together. When Sadat Hasan Manto came to consciousness, Mantoos had set up a separate mohalla for themselves and was known as the Mohalla of lawyers. The reason for such a nomenclature was that the family had taken up law as their profession and had bidden farewell to the shawl-selling vocation.

Maharaja Ranjeet Singh was in ascendancy when the family-ancestor settled at Amritsar permanently. Amritsar had assumed greater importance thanLahore because of the holy shrine of Darbar Sahib. Amritsar had importance because it was a trade centre. Khwaja Rahmat Allah had not confined his economic activities only to shawl, but had started dealing in pashmina too. In his travels Moorecraft has made a special mention of Kashmiris busy in Pashmina trade. Moorecraft writes:-

Amritsar is a shawl producing centre...This industry appears to have been pushed up by Kashmiris who had fled their land due to Afghan tyranny much before the Sikh occupation of Kashmir (Travels).

In the times of Rahmat Allah Pashmina-weaving was a profitable business. After him his family expanded the business limit with lot many efforts. Khwaja Jamal-ud-Din, the grandson of RahmatAllah, expanded the business beyond the precincts of Amritsar to Lahore and Bombay. But, by this time the English had consolidated their rule and their intervention had caused a set-back to the Indian handicrafts. Pashmina-weaving too came under the adverse impact. The Mantoo-family also got crisis-ridden and by and by the family wound up its trade and diverted to legal profession.

Khwaja Abdul Gani son of Khwaja Jamal-ud-Din was the first to divert to the legal profession and he came to be an appeal-writer. Second son, Khwaja Miya Assadullah, duly studied law and rose to be a lawyer and earned a fair name as a good lawyer at Amritsar. But, major than this, he earned his name for service to the Muslim community. He had deeper sympathies for the Muslims and wanted Muslim boys and girls to be properly initiated in religious education. This sentiment he disseminated even in the Muslim elite of the city. He set up the Muslim Anjuman for the welfare of Muslims and founded a M.O. High School of Muslim learners. It was here in the same school where Sadat Hasan Mantoo was initiated in formal education. Mian Asaad Ullah acted as the general secretary of the Anjuman nearly all his life and earned the respectable name of Ustad Jee' from his contemporaries in view of his discerning abilities and community sentiment. The tradition goes that atAmritsar two alleys carried the names of Mian Assad Ullah Vakil. Jamal-ud-Din's third son, Mian Habib Ullah, was an attorney and his fourth son, despite all efforts, could not pursue the legal profession. He was pious and religious minded and held propagation of Islam as his fore most duty. It is said about him that he was extremely fearless, honest and sensitive as a person and perhaps he was the first among Muslims who lectured on the greatness of Islam and countered the Christian preachers and propagandists. What he did was of far-reaching consequences. This alone did not satisfy him. He issued religious journals which focussed on the  reality of Jihad and research on Islam. He studied the Bible carefully and gained expertise in it. The breadth of his studies helped in a large measure to fulfill his religious obligations which he deemed very much as sacred.

The youngest son of Molvi Jamal-ud-Din was Molvi Ghulam Hassan who happened to be the father of Sadat Hasan Mantoo. He was a Munsiff by vocation and later on rose to be a sub judge. Like his ancestors Molvi Sahib was equally religious and literally followed all rituals and obligations. He passed away on  3rd February 1932 at the ripe age of seventy. At the time of his death Sadat Hasan was just twenty. Molvi Ghulam Hasan was married twice. From his first wife, Jan Bibi, he had nine issues in all. Three sons were Khwaja Allah Mohammad Hassan, Khwaja Sayyid Hassan and Khwaja Salim Hasan out of whom the first two sons had studied higher levels of law for Bar-at-Law. Both of them had shifted from Amritsar to Lahore during the repressive days of martial-law. It was during this very period when a famous political leader and freedom fighter of undivided India, Saif-ud-Din Kitchloo was framed up in the notorious Amritsar conspiracy case. Dr. Kitchloo had Kashmiri origins and was closely related to the Mantoo family. Khwaja Mohammad Hasan and Khwaja Sayyid Hasan pleaded his case. The former was the assistant editor of a law journal and the latter was Vice-Principal of the Lahore College. Both the brothers performed their duties with dedication and honesty for years on end and afterwards sailed for Africa where they set up an independent legal consultancy 'Hasan and Hassan'. The consultancy gained lot of reputation for providing legal services. Meanwhile, Sayyid Hasan had to sail for London in connection with a legal case involving Privy Council. There he cultivated contacts with the Fijian Muslim League to the invitation which the Mantoo brothers decided to run their legal consultancy business.

That is how they settled in Fiji and pursued their legal profession. Before settling in Fiji they practised law at Bombay for a short time. Manto has made a mention of it at many a place, though not directly. A character of Mantoo, Ram Khalan, lisps the name of Sayyid Hasan as Saayid Shallam Balishter.

The legal practice of Manto Brothers flourished in the Fiji Island. By and by they started interacting with the spectrum of the Fijian society. Sayyid Hasan was appointed as the senior member of the Legislative Council and exercised influence over the Fijian politics and administrative affairs. It benefited the Fijian immigrants in a large measure. Al-Haj Mohammad Hasan was a pious and religious-minded person. His observation was that the Fijian Muslims were only statistical Muslims indifferent to Islam. He got the holy  Quran translated into the local dialect and throughout his stay in the Island he preached and propagated Islam.

Saddat Hasan was a shade different from his brothers. He was born as a rebel. He was neither a believer nor pious in terms of religion. He had his own, characteristic views about life, religion and ethics. While comparing Sadat with his brothers Krishen Chander jots down—

'He has seen his elder brother-wearing a Shariat-dictated beard, believer, pious and Namazi Musalman. Manto is all that has nothing in common with them. He respects his elders, but does not love them. In matters of courtesy, ethics and world-view he was entirely different from them and traversed a separate trajectory contrary to them and therefore had abandoned his home right in his childhood'.

Builders of New Literature:

Mantoo lived the stark bitterness of life. In his childhood days only he had lived the hideous miseries of life and had borne the harsh temperament of his father. He had also tasted the love-lessness of his brothers. Mantoo had keenly observed the nudities of life in contrast to his brothers whose scholarship was limited to religion and law. He respected his brothers but was in no way emotionally involved with them. His brother, Sayyid Hasan, had stayed with him at Bombay and was unhappy with the manner and style of his life and had judged him as a 'stray'. Mantoo has depicted it fearlessly and for this he has earned disdain both from his admirers and critics.

He writes:

"They in reality had spent their lives within the parameters set by law-books. They fought and pleaded for cases all through their tenor of lives in Lahore, Bombay and Fiji and South of Africa. They are unaware of the tinsel world of Bollywood and know little about its lovers and beloveds. That is why they took to their heels and took refuge in the Khilafat house" (Noor Jehan).

Molvi Ghulam Hasan's second spouse, Choti Begum, was Mantoo's mother. She hailed from Kabul and bore the name of Sardar Begum. It was fromKabul that her family had migrated to Lahore. Sardar Begum was an orphan and was married to Hidayat Ullah, but the marriage was not a success. It was at Lahore that she was again married to Molvi Ghulam Hassan. She bore him three issues. Sadat Hasan was the male child. As per Anis Nagi Molvi Sahib had a respectable position in the government but was not very prosperous. In the family his second marriage was more or less disliked.

It is already put that Manto's father, Molvi Ghulam Hasan had multiple issues. He had retired by the time Sadat was to be reared and looked after. Because of his meagre resources Choti Begum's two issues, Sadat and his sister, Nasira, had to bear the brunt of it. They failed to get required education and bring-up. Sadat failed in the Matric examination several times and finally passed in third division. It is interesting to note that he failed in the subject of Urdu.

Mantoo's mother was a noble and mild-mannered lady. She had got married to Molvi Sahib at such a stage in life when he had lost the vigour of youth and was economically not very prosperous. After his demise she somehow managed the home. It is said that she knew the skill of embroidery. After Mantoo had been in Bombay she too had joined him there. In fact, her daughter and son-in-law were also there in Bombay. After Mantoo was married she had continued to live with him. A letter from Ahmad Nadim Qasimi reveals that it was there, that she breathed her last in June, 1940.

At the behest of his mother Mantoo was married in a Kashmiri family long settled in Africa. The father of his spouse, Begum Safia, had been a police inspector in Africa. Mantoo himself has described their Kashmiri roots. He wrote to Ahmad Nadeem Qasimi in a letter:-

'My wife belonged to a Kashmiri family settled in Lahore'.

Manto's married life lasted just for sixteen years. He had four issues, one son and three daughters. During this short span Safia Begum had to face many ups and downs of life. The three years of adversity period of Mantoo's life severely impacted the bring-up of her children. But she never grumbled. She informed the writer-

'I am fortunate that I spent my life with a great literateur and by God's grace. It was all through a good life. He deeply loved me, my daughters and other kinsmen. Our life in sum was a happy venture'.

Safia Begum passed away at the age of sixty-two years. Mantoo's male child, Arif, could not live beyond a year. His three daughters, Nikhat, Nuzhat and Nusrat are still living.

The candle of Mantoo's life got extinguished on 18th January, 1955. He was a stormy petrel.

Some Aspects of Manto's Personality

By Dr. Brij Premi

When Mantoo came to consciousness, he found himself in an environment which had all the rigours of suffocating discipline. Being a strict disciplinarian his father was miserly in showering his love on him. Absence of love and indulgence transformed Sadat Hasan into Mantoo. His marked features of fret and fume and extra ordinary egoism made up the deficiencies brought about by loveless environment pervading his family. In his later years Sadat Hasan had to face difficulties galore. Nobody balmed his festering wounds. His friends too misunderstood him. Such ordeals in life had turned him into gold. Though obdurate in his demeanor, yet he had live sensitive chords for empathy with others. Such lusture of his integrity was visible all through his life - When he was an ordinary editor, when he was a petrel in literary and film world and when in utter penury in Pakistan he put his creative works on sale for paltry sums. He never lost his stature as a model of large-heartedness and integrity. A sketch of his integrity is drawn by Hamid Jalal in his essay 'Mantoo Mamoo':

'In Bombay he had a medium type of flat, but the flat would always be crowded with guests. He hosted them well. In case guests would be more in numbers than the net-bearing beds, he had no hesitation to sleep on floor. Sometimes the available floor-space would not suffice the guests present. He would spend the night on wooden planks lying on way to toilet underneath the roof. Mantoo would not even make a mention of it to anybody'.

Mantoo purchased high-quality goods and was so large-hearted as to distribute them among his friends and admirers. He was ailing and hence would consult well-known specialists. He would advise others also to consult good specialists and help them with money to be paid to doctors. He carried his servant to his doctor and paid his hefty fees out of his pocket. The doctor was so much impressed that he accepted only half the fees.

He was a sensationalist by temperament. Some of his ways astonished people beyond measure. Such sensational ways dotting his life created a puzzling environment. When a student he had riveted attention for his romantic ways from his contemporaries and friends and had earned sobriquet 'Tommy'. Dissemination of rumours was his hobby. Each rumour would be unique and one has to accept his sense of innovativeness. Some rumours are like:

Americans, have purchased the Taj and are shifting it to America through machines.

In Lahore traffic soldiers have been provided with Jackets of Ice.

My fountain-pen is made of the horns of a donkey. Alongwith some of his friends Mantoo had formed an organisation. The organisation was named as 'organisation of idiots'. It would lobby for astounding causes. Its members would talk out strange dialogues.

What is your nib about this pen?

What is your button about this shirt?

As per Krishen Chander Mantoo was in the habit of pulling out a rabbit from his hat and he would do it efficiently. When his film 'Eight Days' was being filmed, his famous story 'Boo' (smell) was accused of obscenity and warrants were issued to him. A famous comedian of the day, V.H. Desai, was acting in his film. Mantoo was tricked by the idea of appointing him his pleader. He wanted to create a sensation, but his dream could not fructify because of film-shooting inconveniences.

Mantoo heralded his literary career with sensationalism. He directed the publisher of his stories to prepare such a dust cover for the work that its mere look should instigate the viewers to abuse him. His stories created a storm everywhere. The progressives labelled him as reactionary and reactionaries dubbed him as progressive and godless. He was denounced as a dirty mind given to obscenity. To de-addict him he was put in chains in a mental asylum. When out of mental asylum he spat out a meaning full sentence -

'Out of a small mental asylum I am going into a vast mental asylum?

Mantoo was outspoken to a fault. He never played fraud on his conscience and called a spade a spade in his conversations, literary conferences and speeches that he made. His 'sketches' were seriously objected to. His friend and famous litterateur, Ibrahim Jalis, once told him:

'Manto! You turn your gaze on to the literary highway and notice the mile-stones that you have set up Babu Gopi Nath, Toba Tek Singh and Mozael. And now you are earning your bread by auctioning the lives of your friends in open bazzars.’

Such formal statements matted little for him. He never believed that all human characters after death were to be sent to laundry where from they would return clean washed and hung on the peg of God's mercy. Not a painter, but a photographer he drew pictures as they were, same to same. That is why he told his things relentlessly. There were controversies about his writings when he was alive. He cared too hoots for his critics and continued to portray things truthfully as he felt them. His temperamental swings are no less remarkable. His studies clearly highlight his world-view. He writes in'Ganjay Farishtey'.

'In his reformatory there are no shampoos and creams, no machine for hair. I am unaware of pressing hair into curls, art of adding layers of gloss and lustre. The squint of Agha Hashar is beyond me to straighten. I could not iron out the creases of my psyche and I could never compel my friend, Shyam, not to derogate bad women. In his work 'Ganjay Firishtey' even the angels have been scathed and I have done it neatly and dexterously'.

All his life Mantoo was not habituated to a linear path and always deviated from it. From his childhood to death, from his translations to his satires, stories and essays one can observe, deviational curves. He never accepted and trod beaten tracks. He always took to untrodden tracks. Contrary to his contemporaries and predecessors he flouted all that was traditional. Iconoclasm was his instinct. He wrote psychological and pornographic stories with the design of revolting against tradition and beaten tracks and people dubbed them as obscene. He considered it heresy to tread those tracks that were dotted with flag set up by others. His themes were inconceivable and highly original. In this behalf a reference can be made to a letter he had posted to Ahmad Nadim Qasimi:

'Enough has been written about women strictly observing the pledge of fidelity to one husband and noble-hearted widows. Such themes are fruitless. Why not fearlessly describe a woman who is locked in the arms of another man and her husband unreactive sees himself being cuckolded while sitting in his room. Life should be depicted as it is not as it should be.

His style was unique. As per him he never wrote stories and in fact stories happened to him. Whenever he had to write a feature about any topic he would start typing it without preparing any script. He needed no special environment as an incentive to write a script. In fact, as a matter of routine he would weave a story. Sometimes, he would get caught up in a serious creative pang. He writes 'story is in my pocket, not in my head. I am unaware of it. I wrack my head for a story and go on smoking non-stop. Still the story does not develop and emerge out. Then tired and disgusted I lay like an infertile woman'.

Mantoo was not happy with his creations and was never in a position to determine his goal-post. Such dis-satisfaction troubled him all his life. He wanted to do something tangible in life. But when unable to do something original giving him a sense of success he would take to 'hangamers'. He would be a loser and that was increasingly frustrating for him. He called his life a wall which he plastered off with his sharp nails and sometimes it came to him that he built an edifice upon the broken and clipped away materials. His feeling was that his personality was different from his flesh and bone frame. But people never appreciated his reality. He wanted to do a lot but when found the avenues blocked and cluttered, he would feel disgusted and low in spirits. He would be a victim to repressive suffocation and that would throw him into utter mental confusion. His state is explicit in a letter he wrote to Ahmad Nadim Qasimi.

'A heaviness hangs on me. A strang fatigue overwhelms me. I know why it happens. But it has multiple factors that never allow me peace and satisfaction I am totally alienated. There is lack in everything, discontent looms large...I want something other than what I have'.

Mantoo was truthful to a fault. This aspect of his character is glimpsed in every aspect of his art. His views were at variance with the views of his friends. Yet he knew how to make friends and live out the friendship faithfully. His short span of life is exampled by numerous happenings which are a testimony to his absolute truthfulness, contradictions galore failed to eclipse it.

Mantoo started his every writing with a number 786. If by chance he forgot to put the number he would destroy his writings even though fully written out. He would again try it, but that would be next to fake. His acquaintances thought him weak kneed in conviction. The reality is that Mantoo was not a superman.

He was a man with all shortcoming and failings and there in lies his grain of greatness. Like all ordinary lays Mantoo acquired riluets and beliefs from his environs, which in no case were narrow and myopic. He was given to drinking. Yet in his drunkenness he was not indifferent, oblivious to his religious beliefs. Once glitting function of music and dance was held at Paro Devi's residence which was attended by all gliterrating including Ashok Kumar. All were drinking to the last dregs of it. Paro sang out thumrisgazalsand lyrics. In the end a naat was sung to mark the finale of the function. Mantoo was dead drunk, yet he said -

'Paro Devi, it is a mehafil of Joy and drunkenness. Better no mention be made of Prophet'.

Mantoo never mulled over religious issues seriously but he was in spiritual love with Islam. When I drew the attention of the famous novelist and story-writer, Krishen Chander, to this aspect of Mantoo's life, he commented -

'Mantoo never said namaz regularly, but fact about him is that he refused to listen anything (derogatory) about Islam'.

His writings are away from any religious imprint. He always revolted against all barbarities committed in the name of religion. His literature about communal clashes surpasses all literature about it produced by other litterateurs of India or Pakistan. Every writing of Mantoo denounces hatred, myopia, murder and blood-shed. The scene of history 'Sahae' is put as under -

'Don't say one lakh Muslims and one lakh Hindus were killed, but say two lakh human beings were killed. Muslims must have thought that Hindu religion has been exterminated through the killing of one lakh Hindus. But Hinduism is still a living creed and will be so even in future. Similarly, Hindus must have lustly cheered that Islam is dead through the killing of one lakh Muslims. But Islam did not suffer even a  scratch. Fools are those who hold that religion can be extirpated through bombs and bullets. Religion, faith, dharam, belief and conviction have a place in the recesses of one's soul, not in the physical frame. All these put together cannot be slaughtered through knives and bullets.

Mantoo was never affiliated to any political party. It was so because he refused to be tied down to a disciplinary order. His life-story testifies to his superiority complex that was perpetuated in him by the life happenings and circumstances he lived. His weaknesses and failings had created a void in him which he filled in through superiority complex. This is why he was a victim to egoism. All stories that he wove have the impetus of his terrible sense of ego. This very ego kept him away from politics. In his formative years he was influenced by revolutionary ideas. More than this he lost interest in politics because the politicians were given to trickery and deceit.

Mantoo believed that a politician was a professional who preserves his own interests at the cost of public service.

He writes in an essay -

'I have no interest in politics. Leaders and medicine sellers are on the same wave-length. The two pursue the same profession. Medicine-sellers and leaders, both use the prescription of others?’

Survey of his early life establishe him as a staunch socialist. The room in his house was labelled as 'dar-ul-ahmar' where many a dream of revolution were woven. His room had a photograph of Bhagat Singh dangling from a wall. He wanted to be a terrorist. The translations of Oscar Wilde and Doctor Victor Hugo and Gorky, stories of Atish Paray, his essays on Russia and Red Revolution, Banjara and Keechad type film stories go a long way to establish his socialistic ideological bent. He even called himself Comrade Sadat Hasan Mantoo. But his self centredness and ego created enemies for him and his admirers were forced to scathe him severely. But the fact remains that they could not formulate a generalised view about him. A time came when he (Mantoo) as a lover of Gorky and socialist poetry wrote against them out of spite and anger.

Despite his extreme egoism Mantoo was a great humanist. He was an exponent of realism. Like his contemporaries he never presented the bitter realities wrapped in coloured and glossy layers. He believed that black and white were to be presented as the same - no gloss, no wrappings to be wrought. See his statement -

'Go through my stories if you are unaware of the times we live in. If you can’t bear with my stories, it points to the unbearableness of the times?

At the time of partition tragedy Mantoo was in Bombay. Partition had petrified him. He was never convinced about the partition of the country into India and Pakistan and considered himself as an inheritor of the sublime Indian heritage which was jointly shared and lived by both Hindus and Muslims. Mantoo represented those numberless people who upheld India as a whole as their country and land. Mantoo in his writings has ripped open this artificiality of partition. The division that had created a new dominion though a reality could earn his emotional allegiance. In his essay 'Murli Ki Dhun' he puts -

'New name had metamorphosed this entire tract of land. I knew entirely nothing about it, self-rule what it can be never came to me as concrete idea?

It was all chaos and confusion. People were mad and euphoric. The concept of one civilization and one culture stood totally shattered. Corpses piled up in the name of sacredness of Hinduism and Islam. Rape became rampant. Children lost their laughter. Mantoo describes the insanity and animality of men in the sub-continent like this:

'India became free. Pakistan was just born free. But man per se in both the dominions was inchains, a slave, slave to religious bigotry, slave to insanity, slave to animality and barbarism'.

To live such frightening and perilous times was a matter of strength, courage and wisdom. What more can declare his greatness and sublimity than the fact that he kept the flame of humanism burning through the ocean of fire and brimstone and murder and bloodshed. He was determined and unshakable like a granite.

*(Translated from original Urdu by Prof. M.L. Koul)

Ghalib in the writings of Manto

By Dr. Brij Premi

Ghalib and Manto are colosusses of two different segments of literature. The two are not bound in any relation of time and space. One is a 19th century poet and the other 20th century story­teller. The two figures had dif­ferent professional family back­grounds, yet they had an amazing re­lationship. The creative fires in Ghalib had catalyzed him as a personality of mazed layers. This was what made an egoist and anarchist that Sadat Hasan Manto was to bow his head in awe to Mirza Assad Ullah Khan Ghalib. Ego was writ large over the personality of Manto. It was the rampart of his strength and it was what fault-lined his person­ality. His undiminshable ego lost its lustre to Ghalib’s luminous aura of greatness. His frequent men­tion of Ghalib in varied ways conveys the reality explicitly.

In matters of temperament Manto was akin to Ghalib. Both had bohemian traits. Ghalib oc­casionally never hesitated from drinks which he borrowed and Manto also enjoyed swishes of drinks by putting his art on sale or by robbing pockets of others.

Ghalib says:

‘Mai Se Garaz Nishat Hey

Kis Ru Siya Ko’

Ik go na Be Khudi Mujhe Din Rat Chahiye’

Possibly as happened with Ghalib Manto also took to drink­ing as a pleasure. But with pas­sage of time it became a compul­sion for hurling himself into oblivion. In the last days Ghalib was neck-deep in economical and mental crisis and drinking would mean a wavy haze of for­get fulness for him. The last days of Manto were equally painful and agonizing. His intellectual capacities had petrified and wine alone was the support-plank. Both shared the pains and anxi­eties of life and rued the prevail­ing system that made them bite away each moment of life from the jaws of death. Gaddar (rebel­lion of 1857) left Ghalib a bro­ken reed and the ‘angst’ looming large in the surroundings is ex­pressly communicated through his letters. Manto lived the trag­edy of partition and the degrad­ing fires of communalism that raged furiously. His stories and essays written during this dark period demonstrably convey his internalised poignance and agony. Both the artists convey the events that were happening and the agonies that were rend­ing their cores in their character­istic lucid style. The tale that they weave is about a world reduced to a sapless desert.

Manto as a terrific egoist cri­tiqued the greatest of the great. He snapped contact with Nazir Ludhianvi, editor of the weekly ‘Musvir’. as he sensed diminution in his sense of reverence for him. He gave up his services in All India Radio where his dramas were scissored at the behest of Upendra Nath Ashk a story-writer and never saw the gates of filmistan which gave him bagfuls of money at the suspicion of Ashok Kumar, his actor-friend, planning to filmise story-lines of Nazir Ajmeri, Kamal Amrohi and Ismat Chugtai. All this was beyond his tolerance level. His personal ben­efits he never minded. On his way to Calcutta Ghalib broke his journey at Lucknow. His well-wishers were keen to arrange for his meeting with the Prime Min­ister of Awadh. But the meeting could not materialise because Prime Minister showed reluc­tance to exempt him from pay­ment of call-money. He even kicked away a teaching job in a Delhi college as he fell insulted by secretary of state, Thomson, for not receiving him at the gates of his mansion. Nothing better can testify to his integrity and sense of self-esteem. Both were ego­ists to a fault though egoism was equally their strength.

The complexities of Ghalib’s sensibilities and experiences are concealed in tinted veils of joys and sorrows. His metaphors are pregnant with a world of mean­ings. Manto also in his stories seems to give expression to com­plex layers of human pains and pangs and inner turbulence. Ghalib is a poet, but his intellect is not away from the ‘dastan tradition’. In his leisure he was in­terested in the study of ‘dastan’. His metaphors have a hang of ‘dastan’. Manto’s stories have episodic beauty and episodes do not lose their sparkle. For both close bonding of word and mean­ing matters. In fact, in their re­spective realms both are sover­eign. Though a poet, Ghalib is a prose-writer too and has been rightly estimated as the founder of modern prose. He is inimi­table. Mantoo falls in the same line of Ghalib. His themes, tech­nique and language are not imitable. Ghalib’s experimental la­yers are complex and profound. So are Mantoo’s. The very in­tellectual and emotional proxim­ity that Mantoo had with Ghalib made him to admire and love

Ghalib as an icon. Manto was born after 40 years of Ghalib’s demise.

Sometimes one is surprised about Mantoo’s fascination for Ghalib as he had no bent for po­etry. His mention of poets and their poetry is rare. In 1945 he told Majruh Sultanpuri, a mod­ern poet, that he had no love lost for gazals. Yet at the same time Manto labours at Ghalib’s gazals, quotes him frequently and employs his verses as allusions with a view to enhancing the intensity of his semantics. In 1940 he made a resolve to write a film script on Ghalib and devoted himself to the study of Ghalib. In a letter to his friend, Ahmad Nadim Qasimi, he writes

‘I am studying Ghalib these days. I intend to write a film script about him. Though material is scarce, yet whatever is available will do? Manto's Letter P 163.

He continued with it for quite some time. Around 1943 he took to writing a script about Ghalib. The letter that he wrote to Ahmad Nadim Qasimi in April 1943 hints at it.

‘I am writing two scripts. One is about Ghalib’.

Letters of Mantoo, P 144

But his script could not be filmised. During his stay in In­dia his dream could not materialise. After he migrated to Pakistan Sohrab Modi, a film director, utilised his script for filmising and Rajendra Singh Bedi wrote dialogues for it. It was recognised as a successful Mantoo film.

Mantoo has made an apt use of Ghalib’s verses in a number of essays and sketches, mainly for satires without injury to the theme and subject to sharpen their pointed effect. The verses are absorbed in the subject frame-work and seldom stand out as not being in tune with the con­text. Some examples :-

1) Ghalib was a poet of Urdu. A century ago he had mused-

Huye Mar Ke Ham Jo Ruswa, Huye Kyon Na Garake-e-Na Kahen Janaza Utha, Na Kahein Mazaar Hota’

The poor man had no fear of life because from cradle to grave he was a model of humiliation in the world. He had no fear but was extremely sure and confident. That is what made him to desire to die by drowning in the river-waters. There would be no bier and no grave-yard. I wish him to have taken his birth in your land. You would lift his bier pompously and build his mausoleum in the style of a sky-scraper. Had you condescended to act out his de­sire you would have prepared a tank for his body to remain sunk and visitors would throng to see it as people do in a zoo.

2) Cloth is a costly item. Poor people after death don’t get even a shroud. Those who are living are in shreds. Mentally ruffled I thought of setting up a nude club.

What will they live by -  rattled me as a worry. Each other’s nakedness! Eyes taking a morsel of it will leave it there in disgust there. There is desolation. There is grinding poverty. There is irritation. Dear uncle appreci­ate.

Fifth letter to Uncle Sam

3) You must have noticed a verse on the hotel-walls

Dar-O-Deewar Pe Hasrat Se Nazar Karte Hein

Khush Raho Ahle Wattan Hum To Safar Karte Hain

If poor, it will certainly injure the core of your heart writing on walls

To Ghalib's memory he dedi­cated his “Ganjay Firishtey”, a collection of his pen-portraits, which amply demonstrates the fact of his resemblance to a van­ity-ridden poet like Ghalib. He was so much impacted by him that under his spell he made a frequent mention of him in all his works. Mantoo had learnt the secret of brevity of words from Ghalib only. It is no exaggera­tion to put that Ghalib was his real master. Had it not been so a rebel and stormy-petrel like Mantoo would not have been extremely courteous and respect­ful to Ghalib.

4) A verse of Ghalib

‘Pakde Jate Hein Farishtoon Ke Likhe Par Naahak

Aadmi Koyi Hamara Dam-e-Tehreer Bhi Tha’

Those writings on walls can­not be models of writing-Hence arresting people does not arise. This is why the wall-writings and wall-paintings have not suffered the state repression and intimi­dation.

Writing on walls

5) Ghalib says

Mein Hilata To Hun Un Ko Magar Ae Jazba E.Dil

Un Pe Ban Jaye Kuch Aisey Ki Ban Aaye Na Bane’

It means that this verse would not have found place in his an­thology had he hated un-invited guests. Ghalib depicts ‘I invite her but I like her coming to me uninvited on any pretext’. The reality is that un-invited arrival is more pleasurable and sumptuous than when she arrives on invitation. It is beyond one’s ken why people scorn un-invited guests. It can be said that Ghalib had said it about beloveds whose un-invited arrival is thrilling. You have forcibly tagged this verse on to guests. Let it be so.

It is how many verses of Ghalib have cropped into Mantoo’s writings. In him there are themes that are inspired by Ghalib’s verses.

a) Ched Khuban Se Chali Jaye Asad

b) KuchNahi Hey To Adawat HiSahi

c) Sar Khujata Hey Jahan Zakham Sar Acha Ho Jaye

d)  Lazat-e-Sang Bandaz-i-Taqreer Nahi

f)      Zahmat  Meahar Darakhshan

It is already said that Mantoo , was an egoist and his entire life kept on simmering in the fires of egoism. Upender Nath Ashok in his book ‘Mantoo, My Enemy; writes -

Mantoo’s escapism is because of his egoistic temper and the secret of his greatness lies in his egoism. He was given to flattery. He would read out Ghalib’s verses to Mukerjee though a boor averse to delicacies of poetry. It does not detract from Mukerjee’s greatness. He had no second in his art. Ghalib appreciation was beyond him’.

It is evident that Mantoo, ran away from field of life when his egoistic sense was not gratified. Not an escapist he would stake everything at the altar of his ego. He would harness all his facul­ties. Finding the path prickly he would slip away by the by-lane to escape from humiliation, dis­grace and exposure. The defeat of his irrepressible ego was the cause for his escape from his home. Amritsar, Lahore, Bombay, service from the All India Radio and Filmistan in Bombay. The period that Ashq mentions is the golden period of Filmistan where Mantoo ruled his roost as a boss, To keep his airs Mantoo would not drag his feet from indulgence of Mukerjee. He used verses of Ghalib for such indulgence. This is the reason that he loved verses of Ghalib and the store of such verses was full with him. Hearing verses of Ghalib people dance into ecstasy and those who do not make a sense of the verses never express dis­appointment. Ghalib and his po­etry are a craze. Mantoo used it to the hilt.

Mantoo did much more than this. His essays about Ghalib are available in a good number.

Ghalib and Chodvi (an essay on Ghalib) is like a feature in the essay form based on the letter of Hatim Ali Mehar MughuI chil­dren are strange. They kill the woman they love...I too in the craze of my youth loved a Domba-girl and have kept her in a condition of death!

On the support of a Ghalib’s letter he writes - ‘Kotwal was the enemy and magistrate was not known. Feud was waiting for a chance and stars were in adverse stations. Despite magistrate being the of­ficer of Kotwal and with respect to me he turned to be a subordi­nate of Kotwal and ordered my incarceration?

Manto writes :-

Some of these references for a story writer can help in prepar­ing the map of Ghalib’s roman­tic life and the triangle of per­petual love gets formed by ‘you, the tyrannical dombini and the Kotwal?'

On these references Mantoo has woven an essay and this very essay is the plank of film on Mirza Ghalib.

b) Mirza’s life in Agra

To map out Mirza’s youth this is a feature-cum-essay high­lighting his kite-flying, adven­tures with Kanwar Balwan Singh and his chess-games. It is crowded with a host of charac­ters like Umrao Jan. Mullah Abdul Samad, Khwaja Ghulam Hasan, Nawab Allah Baksh and many others. It also spotlights Mirza’s life-aspects at Agra. Mantoo has put it in his own characteristic manner.

c) Ghalib and Govt Service This theme presents Ghalib’s appointment in Delhi College. Manto commences it this way -

‘The house by the side of late Hakim Mahmood Khan’s man­sion in the backyards of a mosque is that of Ghalib. You had said about it.

‘Masjid Ke Zer-e-Saya, Ek Ghar Bana Liya

Yeh Banda-e-Kamina Hamshye Khuda Hein

No harm in taking you inside the house. It is late in the night. Mirza’s house will surely be abuzz. Though not that abuzz, Munshi Shiva Narayan is present.

The episode of Ghalib’s ser­vice in Delhi college is made a mention of. The full threads in­cluding that of Thomson are picked up. The kicking off the service on the trifle plea of Thomson not showing him any respect is dramatically delin­eated.

d) Mirza Ghalib as an invitee at Hashmat Khan’s Mansion.

It is an essay lightly written in an epigrammatic style based on an episode about Ghalib, Hashmat Khan and characters of Chodvi. Hashmat Khan’s over-bearing mannerism is drawn in a fascinating manner.

e) Drinks borrowed: Manto in this essay has described the relations between Ghalib and Mathura Das, Ghalib’s state of indebtedness and court proceedings in the court of Mufti Sadur-ud-Din. Ghalib’s verses are interspersed in this essay to add to its fascination.

It will not be apt to give a de-tailed account of numerous verses of Ghalib that Manto has used in his works. But it is cer­tain that his writings other than his short-stories are replete with them.

It is already commented that the plank of egoism and self cen­tered bent was shared equally by both the stalwarts. In Ghalib egoism raises its head in the form of superiority complex and in Manto too superiority complex is expression of the same char­acter-trait.

Some Examples: a) Hein Aur Bhi Duniya Mein Sukhan Var Bohut Ache

b) ‘Aaj Mugh Sa Nahi Zamane Mein’

Kehte Hai Ki Ghalib Ka Hein Andaz-e-Bayan Aur’

Ada-e-Kaas Se Ghalib Hua

Hum ‘Sukhan Faham Hein ‘Ghalib Ke Taraf Dar Nahi’

Sadat Hasan Manto was an artist of the same tribe. It can be exemplified by the following quote -

‘I was a short story writer of the entire country of Hindustan. Now I am a story-teller of Pakistan. There are a number of pub­lications to my credit. People love and respect me. In India there were three law-suits filed against me and in Pakistan one law-suit is pending decision for quite sometime!

A Letter to Uncle Sam

The trumpet-sounding epi­taph that he used to give to his admirers as an autograph sup­ports the thesis of his superiority complex.

Epitaph: Here lies Sadat Hasan Mantoo buried. All the secrets and subjects of his stories too are buried in his bosom. He is still thinking under the tons of earth that he is a great story writer.

To Ghalib’s memory he dedicated his ‘Ganjay Firishtey’ a collection of his pen-portraits, which amply demonstrates the fact of his resemblance to a vanity-ridden poet like Ghalib. He was so much impacted by him that under his spell he made a frequent mention of him in all his works. Manto had learnt the secret of brevity of words from Ghalib only. It is no exaggeration to put that Ghalib was his real master. Had it not been so as rebel and stormy-petrel like Mantoo would not have been extremely courteous and respectful to Ghalib.

*(Translated from original Urdu text by Prof. M.L. Koul)



Suvir Koul’s & Natasha Koul’s Write-ups in the quarterly of IIC New Delhi

By Prof. M.L. Koul

November 2011

In the latest issue of the  quarterly published under the aegis of the India International Centre, New Delhi have appeared two write-ups, ‘one Home, two lives’ and ‘Loving & Losing Kashmir’, one by Suvir Koul and the other by Natasha Koul. Suvir Koul is a Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania and Natasha Koul is also an academic and writes  fiction. Curiously, both of them happen to be the progeny of Kashmiri Pandits who have been treacherously expelled and exiled from their homes and hearths in Kashmir by the genocidal killers laced with deadly weapons, guns and grenades, supplied to them by Pakistan.

The substance of the two write-ups establishes the dubious credentials of the two worthies as intellectual and psychological dupes to the barrage of lies, half-truths, falsehoods, fibs and fables that have been profusely fabricated, churned out and orchestrated by the terrorist-cum-secessionist machine tasked to paint India in the darkest and gristliest colours. It is a sheer ‘smear campaign’ meticulous in its pursuit of the sinister design of disfiguring the democratic visage of India and its republican state and projecting it as brutal and tyrannical. The terrorist-cum-secessionist machine is financed and manned by the notorious ISI of Pakistan which is seen as the hub of terrorism and religious discord all over the world. The dominant design and motive of the dis-information campaign is to segregate and wean away Kashmir from the constitutional sovereignty of India and establish it as a Muslim state governed by the Islamic law and precedent. The cruel expulsion of microscopic minority of Hindus through torture, murder and inhuman brutalisation was strategically executed with this end in eye-scape.

The ISI fabricated and funded propaganda machine, the two worthies are urged to know, is equally geared to the much publicised project of reviving the Muslim caliphate lying in the dust-bin of history with Kashmir as its integral part and constituent. The war unleashed by Pakistan with active complicity and participation of genocidal killers in Kashmir is manifestly religious in hue and content. Its destination is ascendancy, supremacy and hegemony of Islam and nightmare for atheists, polytheists, infidels and all types of non-Muslims. It is a Muslim crusade the flanks of which have continuously been replenished and ramparted by the highly motivated terrorist herds from Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Somalia, Libya et al. The details percolating from the war-theatre in Kashmir provide a clinching evidence to the fact that the militarised Islam has not been chasing political goals alone in Kashmir, but has its sights riveted to the religious objectives too.

It is regrettable that the two worthies, one settled in America and the other in London, appear to have fallen in the dragnet of the same Jihadi machine that as a first step of achievement has wiped out the ancient tribe of Kashmiri Pandits from the soil of Kashmir alongwith its cultural and civilisational land-marks having a Hindu flavour. We as a patriotic community condemn the utterances of the two worthies as treasonous as they fabricate and churn out the same vile formulations and malicious condemnations that are the warp and woof of the ‘Seminar circuit’ piloted by a Pakistani spy, Dr. G.N. Fai and his mercenary cohorts.

We as an externed community heartily appreciate and admire the personal ambitions of the two worthies for having crossed the high seas for greener pastures, but their successes, if any, in distant America and London do not in any manner leverage them to have gut-hatred for the country of their genesis where their essential roots and cultural foundations lie. What makes them to be in close chaoots with the sworn enemies of India who spare no efforts to break it and fragment it for a second partition? We do not mind if they put on the high-brow airs of liberals and neo-liberals, but that never invests them with an intrinsic right to grossly abuse the democratic space available to them in their land of nativity by denouncing the very idea of India, its sovereignty over its territories and its militaries and para-militaries engaged in defending its historical borders. How is it that they in their solomonic wisdom pontificate that India is a geography, not a nation-state and hence any irate insurgent with a gun in hand can hive off its sacrosanct territories?

Moreso, it is mind-boggling that the two worthies, seem to be audacious enough in upholding, supporting and disseminating the terrible views of the terrorists and secessionists operational in Kashmir who have been waging a Jihadi war against the Indian state for horrendous destinations. It is also quite strange that their views, statements and formulations are mostly founded on myths and yarns that are disseminated from multifarious rumour-sites that have mushroomed in Kashmir. What they have churned out is false and malicious propaganda that has no factual basis.

As is revealed by the contents of the two write-ups it becomes apparent that the worthies have meekly chosen to tread upon the dirt-track of disgraceful capitulation to the genocidal killers in Kashmir and their cohorts wherever they be with a view to earning temporary reprieve for whatever tangible or intangible assets they have in Kashmir. If our experience in Kashmir can be their guide, they cannot save their assets of any form, name, fame, land and house for the very name-tag that they are burdened with qualifies them for loot, murder, grab, desecration and effacement superlatively.

It is intriguing that the two worthies maintained absolute silence, dipped themselves in ‘dyan-mudra’ or shut themselves up in a canary island when the genocidal killers perpetrated medieval barbarities and cruel savageries on hapless Kashmiri Pandits and their women-folk. Have they ever thought it apt and obligatory to fathom out the names of Sarla Bhat, Girija Tiku, Babli Raina, Rupawati Bhat, Prana Ganjoo et al from the gory book of savagery that the genocidal killers in Kashmir have written? Sarla Bhat was kidnapped, raped for days on end, tortured and put to bullets and thrown on the road-side. Girija was cut into two equal halves on a wood-chopping machine and given a burial. Babli was raped in presence of her children and whole family and thrown into the river Vitasta. Rupawati, an old lady, was tortured to death. Prana Ganjoo was raped and tortured and hurled into the river Vitasta.

I am not writing it to invoke anybody’s pity, much less of the two worthies, NRIs, who are in the business of high-pitched advocacy of human rights of those who are the worst violators of human rights of Kashmiri Pandits, the natives of Kashmir.

Suvir Koul on his grand-parents

In his outrageous write-up Suvir Koul has made a frequent mention of his grand-parents, but has not revealed their names. Prof. Jaya Lal Koul, the author of the classic on Lalla Ded, is his paternal grand-father and Prof. Shyam Lal Dhar, soft, suave and learned, is his maternal grand father.

Prof. Koul was a literary luminary of Kashmir who has made tremendous contributions to the Kashmiri literature. ‘Studies in Kashmiri’ is his magnum opus. His translation of the Kashmiri opera ‘Bombur Yambarzal’ written by Pt. D.N. Nadim and Mr. Noor Mohammad Roshan was unique. He was the first secretary of the State Academy of Culture, Arts and Languages when it was set up under the provisions of the state constitution. As a brilliant professor of English he had taught nearly two generations in Kashmir and was held in high esteem.

To up-date Suvir Koul’s knowledge about his paternal grand-father I feel constrained to write that when the Professor died of cancer outside his home state, no condolences were offered and no obituaries were written. Why? He was a Kashmiri Pandit.

About Prof. S.L. Dhar, Sudha Koul, the authoress of the Tiger Ladies, writes that he had to give up his teaching assignment in a college when Muslim students in his class shouted that they would like to have Muslims as their teachers. The Professor of old genre, as an epitome of culture and learning was shocked for he had no communal considerations while teaching his learners. This type of stark communalism had its old roots in Kashmir. Those who overlook it or brush it under the carpet are the proverbial ostriches. In fact, the present political problem in Kashmir has its first origins in devastating Muslim Communalism.

Suvir Koul on 1953 developments

Sheikh Abdullah was a charismatic leader who lent his absolute support to the accession of the state to the dominion of India. But, he had his personal ambitions too which could not be fully accommodated within the democratic imperatives of the State of India. He was seen trangressing the delineated powers that were vested in him as the Prime Minister of the state and those beings the cold war days he was deposed. Political power was not handed over to a Hindu. It was the Sheikh’s deputy, a Muslim who rose to the helm after having been duly elected by the representative assembly constituted on the basis of adult-franchise. Sheikh Abdullah as is well-known was deft in real-life politics. He forged an accord with Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India and took over the reins of government in 1975. He voluntarily became a part of the same constitutional frame-work that he himself had pioneered. The changes and modifications that the successive representative assemblies had brought about in the constitutional provision of the detestable Article 370 were completely endorsed by the Sheikh as the Chief Minister of the State.

Sheikh Abdullah had his own inherent failings which clouded his vision as an impeccable secularist. He delivered a life-time shock to Kashmiri Pandits when he in his autobiography dubbed and denounced them as ‘agents and spies’ of India.

Suvir Koul is absolutely wrong to say that Sheikh Abdullah had tried to furrow an alternate track of politics for changing the status-quo of the state. Sheikh was conscious of the disastrous perils that were involved in it for all the ethnic groups in the state. He was on terra firma of historical realities. He could not opt for Pakistan where he was existentially in danger of getting exterminated. He had certainly exhibited an inclination for independence, but Pakistan would not allow it.

Suvir Koul on accession of the state to the Union of India

The worthy Indian-American claims to have changed his world-view on J&K’s accession to the Union of India after having gone through the tomes of history germane to the subject. Could he be asked about the titles that he has studied which have brought about sea-changes in his views on accession? The first principle of research is to reference his averments that he is audacious to make. There are numerous works that have been craftily sponsored by Pak foreign office only to distort the facts about accession. There is a lot of trash that has been churned out by the supporters of terrorists and secessionists in Kashmir. Koul seems to have fallen a prey to such distorted and unhistorical materials. It is his bounden duty as an Indian, if he feels that, he is one, to look for the relevant-materials available in genuine works on Kashmir history. And he will come to learn that Maharaja Hari Singh’s accession to India is full, final, irrevocable and flawless.

The worthy professor appears to be heavily prejudiced when he holds India responsible for non-conduct of plebiscite in Kashmir. It was actually Pakistan that deliberately sabotaged the plebiscite process by not vacating the territories that the tribal raiders from Pakistan had aggressed and forcibly occupied. It was a pre-condition for the conduct of plebiscite in Kashmir. To dispel his gross ignorance and deep-seated bias the learned worthy should rummage the American libraries for the said-resolution of the Security Council.

Suvir on Pro-Pakistan elements dis-allowed to fight-elections

Suvir Koul is an Indian by birth, but is obsessed with pro-Pakistan elements who he believes are debarred from fighting elections in Kashmir. Firstly there is no directive, order or ordinance by the state government or by the Election Commission of India that has debarred pro-Pakistan elements in the state from joining the electoral fray. Secondly, the pro-Pakistan elements are so weak in numbers and political prowess that they always shy away from elections lest they should get exposed as paper tigers. Ali Shah Gilani, a foreign settler in Kashmir and a rabid Muslim bigot, has been a member of the Legislative Assembly umpteen times. In Mir Qasim’s time Jamaate-Islami, a notorious pro-Pakistan outfit, had not fewer than eight members in the Legislative Assembly of the State.

Suvir Koul on his visit to Ganpatyar Temple, Srinagar

Prejudice and malice against the militaries and para-militaries of our country gets explicitly reflected when the worthy writes about his visit to the Ganpatyar Temple in Srinagar. The fact is that the forces were deployed for the safe-guard and protection of the temple when the Muslim terrorists subjected it to a missile attack from across the river. They have saved the temple from desecration and destruction, otherwise it would have met the same fate of 550 temples that have been desecrated, vandalised, demolished and laid waste by the rabid vandals and ‘lawless lizzards’ that have been prowling about the land of Kashmir since 1989. The para-militaries have a right to worship in their own mode and method and the gods that they invoke are not different from our religious lore and learning. The worthy is ignorant of the fact that Kashmir had tremendous impact of Vaishnavism which has impulsed our art, archeology and sculpture. His deliberate usage of ‘Hundutav’ is not only repulsive, but condemnable too.

Suvir Koul on militarisation

It is sheer saddening that Suvir Koul has joined chorus with the treacherous detractors of India who do not spare a moment from maligning our national armies. The real ire and grudge against our armies as tom-tommed by the Jihadi machine is because it has been frustrated and nearly defeated in its malicious designs of severing Kashmir from India. Sovereign countries have a right to defend their borders against aggression from their enemies. India was aggressed by Pakistan four times so far. Then, we have security threats looming large from China. Pakistan has unleashed a proxy-war in Kashmir and there has been infiltration going on incessantly for the last twenty years. It is the constitutional duty of the national government to defend the country from the external enemies.

Have Suvir Koul and men of his ilk guts and gumption to question the deployment of American forces to Iraq and Afghanistan ? If they dare do so, they will be deported next day lock, stock and barrel.

Suvir Koul on the rape of a Gujjar girl

The worthy has highlighted the case of a Gujjar girl who as per him was raped by para-military soldiers. It is a story, a fib and a yarn that has been dinned into his ears by the Jihadis or their committed supporters. I would like the worthy to divulge the name and address of the girl and the exact place where she was raped. His contention will hold ground only after he produces clinching and unassailable evidence. In absence of it he can be projected as a credulous person who readily believes in what he is told. The professor should know Kashmir has been a land of story-tellers. That is how we produced a voluminous work like ‘Kathasaritsagar’. When hapless Kashmiri Pandits were put to bullets in broad-day light, fabulous stories were yarned to malign them as ‘mukhbirs, spies and agents’ of India and everybody believed them uncritically.

Muslim stories to Suvir Koul appear more painful than Kashmiri Pandit Stories

Let the worthy be told that the Muslims have no stories to relate except that they have been a part of the insurgency that was inspired, conceived and executed by ISI of Pakistan. They were made to believe that Muslim Jihad had the blessings of Allah and hence was sure to succeed. The Jihadis trained in camps across the borders and laced with sophisticated guns were intellectually poor and had no estimations of the strength of the country they were pitted against. In religious frenzy the Muslims donated their sons to Muslim Jihad who crossed the borders to Pakistan for arms training. When pushed back into the Indian territory for loot, murder, sabotage and destruction, the militaries and para-militaries eliminated a good number of them. The insurgency has made them rich, nay fabulously rich and that is how they have purchased those properties of Pandits, which they could not grab. Pakistani moneys, hawala moneys, moneys sent as remittances from West and Middle-East and Indian moneys, loot of the state exchequer & absolute sway over the State and Central finances they say, have made them affluent and prosperous beyond the conceivable limits.

And, Mr Professor, the story of the Kashmiri Pandits is sad and painful. They have been subjected to a genocide, Jewish-style. They were targeted as individuals or as a group with an express intent of total annihilation and extermination. The methods chosen for annihilation have been hanging, burning alive, strangulation by steel wires, dragging to death, drawing of blood in hospitals, branding with red-hot iron-bars, slaughter, gouging of eyes, breaking of limbs and impaling. Their houses have been mercilessly looted, ravaged and put to arson. Nearly, twenty thousand houses have been destroyed and their materials looted. Five hundred and fifty temples have been desecrated, ravaged and destroyed. All Kashmiri Pandit habitations whether in the capital city of Srinagar or in distant villages and hamlets have been decimated. They are refugees in their own country. They are on cross–roads.

Now, the worthy should decide as to whose story is more painful and agonising.

Suvive Koul on self-determination

The worthy should know that the nation-states do not grant the right of self-determination to their federating constituents. The colonies that were held under the thraldom for exploitation and loot of resources by the imperialist powers clamoured for right of self-determination. This is how it gained currency with the people in the colonies that struggled for freedom and prosperity. India is not a clonial power. She has not subjugated people of other countries and is given to looting their resources.

Kashmir is a constituent part of the Indian union. It has made strides in the segments of health, education, agriculture, horticulture, trade and transport through the Indian moneys. Poverty is minimal in Kashmir. The present-day quality of life that Kashmiris have gained stands in stark contrast to what it was in pre-1947 era. People then  lived in penury, wore scantily and were on teh brink of starvation and ate.

The people of Jammu and Ladakh have catalogues of grievances against the Kashmiri rulers of Sunni brand. Their grouse is that they have been put to extreme discrimination and denial of funds and finances allocated to the state by the Central government. And they clamour against their colonisation by the state under the siege of Muslims.

-(To be continued)

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 civilisationKashmir 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 ofTurkestan.

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. ThusKashmir 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.

Indigenous Rishis vs Sayyid-Sufis from Central Asia

Differentiations and Contradictions

By Prof. Mohan Lal Koul

"The guardians of the shrines, living easily with marvels, said the mosque had been built by Mohammad Bin Qasim who had conquered Sindh in 710 A.D. & that the tree was also from that time it would have been a tree Mohammad Bin Qasim knew. The tree might not have been as old as that; and the mosque was certainly later. But the mosque had been given the Mohammad Bin Qasim association to celebrate the conquest-the faithful no longer saw themselves as the conquered--also claim the ancient site for the new faith."

‘Islam in its origins is an Arab religion. Everyone not an Arab who is a Muslim is a convert. Islam is not simply a matter of conscience or private belief. It makes imperial demands. A convert's world-view alters. His holy places are in Arab lands, his sacred language is Arabic. His idea of history alters. He rejects his own; he becomes whether he likes it or not a part of the Arab story. The convert has to turn away from everything that is his."           

V.S. Naipaul, a Nobel Prize Laureate from Prologue to Beyond Belief

Deeply embedded in the rural ambience of Kashmir Nund Rishi, a first generation convert of Rajput origins from Kishtwar, can be characterised as the saviour of peasant masses in the wake of their conversion to the Islamic faith through ‘Qahran va Jabran’ as history frankly told in the Baharistan-i-Shahi, a Muslim chronicle in Persian. Inspired by ‘old inheritance’ and ‘indigenous culture model’, he in a saint-like humility placed himself in the uninterrupted line of rishisthereby aligning himself with the entire repertoire of rishi tradition rooted in the vedic age. The Sayyid-sufis as fugitives from Central Asia operating under the protective shield of the Muslim state power brought about the destruction and forcible occupation of the hermitages (ashramas) radiating the light of humanitarian spirituality. As evidenced by the Neelmatpuran, such hermitages set up within the locales of secluded spots were littered over the entire picturesque landscape of the Valley of Kashmir. The present day ziarats or astans (asthapans) of rishis were the same old hermitages that were cruelly destructed and then used for installation of graves or samadhis of the rishis who in the apt and pithiful words of Abul Fazl formed a specific cult within the matrix of Hinduism. Islam in Kashmir was just sixty year old when Nund Rishi emerged on the scene to assert the native roots and ethos which were under onslaught from the Central Asian Sayyid-Sufis and Ulemas.

The whole lot of Sayyid-Sufis and other theologians were wedded to mundane politics and were fully conversant with the role and importance of political power to weed out infidelity as a pre-requisite to expand the space for Islam. As an expression of their religious culture they were extremely uncharitable in condemning the natives as ‘kafirs’ and their religious practices and customs as ‘heretical’. Shariat (Islamic law and precedent), to them, was the light-house and Persian, their native language, was the store-house of all knowledge. Having a deep streak of hubris and arrogance in their personal culture they openly spurned the natives of all shades as ‘wretched people’ given to polytheistic, animistic and other pagan practices. As they had no smattering in the local dialect they could not have close rapport or inter-action with the natives with a view to transforming their pagan behaviour for a new baptisation. Yet they created a critical situation for the natives through cynical rejection of indigenous belief systems, traditions and mythic lore without filling in the empty space thus created by an alternate culture model, which is the product of generations of value accumulation. In view of resistance from the sub-jugated natives they made lot many compromises which despite their orthodoxy could not be termed as truly Islamic in content and spirit. Prayers as per the Islamic way were not digested as spiritually elevating and the Sayyid-Sufis and Ulemas meekly gave in to allow the Hindu manner of hymn-singing (kirtan) though with a changed content of alien origins. Over-awed by the sweep and vast range of indigenous social codes and axiologies the Sayyid-Sufis in a steep climb-down introduced Hanafi brand of jurisprudence for the natives lest they should slip out of the tenuous Islamic fold to their birth religion which appeared to them more liberal than the new imposition. Stuck to orthodox religiosity they were the least spiritual and their concepts and precepts about spiritual goals and trajectories were dim, feeble and blurred. Many an eminent sociologist has termed conversions in Kashmir as anything but spiritual for the converted lot, termed as ‘statistical Muslims’ never abandoned their Buddhist-cum-Hindu practices, customs, attitudes and value systems.

As a prescient representative of native roots, ethos and milieu Nund Rishi spear-headed a rishi cult, purely spiritual in content and perception, to revive and reinforce the ramparts of the indigenous identity of natives who were completely alienated from the foreign Sayid-Sufis and Ulemas enjoying unprecedented favours and patronage from the Muslim state that had negated and rendered false the so-called e galitarian content of Islam through pursuit of paradigms that were iniquitous and crass cruel. Nund Rishi was in the theologian by culture and orientation. He called himself Nunda Sanz stands testified by his shrukhs (slokas) and also by the elegy written by Shyama, an inmate of the khanqah, in the wake of his death. Jonraj in his Rajtarangini names him as Noor-ud-Din and that testifies to his having been re-christened as Noor-ud-Din by the same oppressive forces even though he had flimsy and cosmetic Islamic bring-up. He provided substantial cultural succour and support to a large section of peasant masses through his poetical outpourings that are suffused with indigenous lore and learning, cultural moares and motifs. Given to asceticism and self-mortification he struck a note that evoked a vibrant and spontaneous response from the peasant plebians who were the recipients of ascetical and introspective mind and temperament as heritage from the Buddhists and Vedantins of yore.

What can be gleaned from historical and other literary sources is that caste barriers in Kashmir were not the same rigid and hide-bound as we find them in the Smriti-Puranic belt. As an impact of the Buddhist ideology and committed egalitarianism the caste hierarchies had loosened, weakened and nearly crumbled. The crippling conversions unleashed by the Sayyid-Sufis with an active support of the Muslim state had no social significance in the sense of regeneration and revitalisation. As a paradoxical social milieu the amorphous ranks of Muslims, better termed as ‘statistical Muslims’, got vertically divided into ‘ashraf’ and ‘ajlaf’, one comprising high-brow and high-bred foreigners from Central Asian lands and the other comprising the mass of neo-converts, dubbed as deviants, idolatrous and ‘wicked’. The Sayyids as a distinct class of glory and grandeur crowned the battered social pyramid for the affinity they claimed to the Prophet’s family. The mass of ‘cultural destitutes’, a phrase from Nirad C. Choudhary, suffered a severe trauma both psychological and social, as they had no such lineage as could get them closer to the people of foreign extraction. In utter desperation some of them invented their new genealogies which were rejected as absurd and ludicrous by the superior brand of Muslims treating them as ‘low as dust’, a phrase from Srivar. Having realised the predicament of the ‘cultural destitutes’ floating in mid-air, more Hindus, less Muslims, Nund Rishi assured them of an equalitarian status in the rishi cult with khanqah as its fulcrum. Be it said that khanqah as an institution is a variant of the Buddhist Vihara.

The foreign Sayyid-Sufis were a breed entirely different from the native stock of rishis. They were vituperative hard-liners sticking to shariat and at one stroke they polarised the broad waters of Kashmiri society into lagoons of Hindus and Muslims. Sufism by and large has supposedly been associated at least in theory with love, humility, philanthropy and more than most belief in brotherhood of man. But the Central Asian sufis who poured into Kashmir as persecuted people sowed the seeds of hate and incoclasm and invoked ‘divine sanctions’ and ‘quranic tenets’ for eradication of infidelity and infidels. They as it appears can be featured as the direct recipients of the spirit of old Israel. They preached and practised blatant discrimination and hatred on grounds of race, religion, and creed and harnessed the Muslim state power for forcible conversions and destruction of indigenous roots. The author of the Zakhiratual-Muluk, a Kubrawi Sayyid-Sufi, has drawn a catalogue of twenty conditions for application to non-Muslims and prescribed without any qualms loot and murder of hard nuts daring to flout them. The Tohfatul-Ahbab, a Muslim work in Persian, has delineated the Sayyid-Sufis battened on beef and enormous quantities of food waging war on the natives who thwarted and resisted their iconoclastic activities.

Islam, to the Sayyid-Sufis, was imposition, infact, imposition at pain of death. It had no humanistic facets which have been the essence of Hindu faith facing extermination at their hands. They conceived of nothing but conversions and beyond that they harboured no visions to re-orientate and rejuvenate the society as a whole on the sound foundation of equity, humanism and justice. They were so narrow-minded that they could not see all shades of humans emanating from the same Divine Essence. The Central Asian Sayyid-Sufis including the Khurasanian brand, no doubt, carried the imprint of Buddhistic and Vedantic influences. But, despite that, their views on ‘kufra’, ‘religious conversions’ and ‘treatment to be meted out to men of other faiths’ were the same hide-bound and fanatical. They were not only an integral part of the unjust system established by Muslims but also perpetuated it through their scholastic tradition.

The native rishis as models of ascelicism and quietism with no interest in affairs mundane walked not in harmony but in total discord with the foreign Sayyid-Sufis out to spill blood in the name of Islam. They were holymen of peace, harmony, piety, non-violence and non-injury. The assiduous cultivation of noble qualities as already mentioned was a ‘value’ with them. They were so much humanised that they saw life and its vital pulsations in all manifestations of natural life. Any injury inflicted on any form of Divine manifestation was detested as sinful and ignoble. Generation of debilitating conflict, discord and disharmony was never their mission. ‘Peace with all’ as a Buddhist value was their hall-mark. The message of rishis was to endeavour to tear away from meshes of the world for attainment of a new uplifted incarnation through emergence into and identity with God. They shunned and detested the company of greats like kings, nobles and glamarous people in the corridors of power. They were humble, calm and spiritually on higher perches with contempt for material goods and material well-being.

The Sayyid -Sufis and Ulemas under the motivations of their religio-political culture totally rejected the spiritual goals  of rishies  and also the methodologies that they adhered to for attainment of the objective of their quest. The native concepts of spirituality were beyond their ken and experience. Deficient in sense and spirit of enquiry they had no faculties to know and learn about them even from theoretical perspective. Cynical rejection was all that they could conceive of. They spurned the rishis as a class of recluses having no credibility as per the Islamic tenets. The practice of visiting the graves or samadhis of rishis to implore for their intercession had no sanction from Islamic authorities. So the Sayyid-Sufis detested them as shirk, a deviation from the real Islam. Rishis detested meat-eating and lived on locally grown specific greens. Many of them had given up even the greens and lived just on water. To induce them to meat-eating of all types termed as ‘halal’ hagiographers mostly of foreign origins have figmented spiritual conferences to impress its obligation under ‘Suna’ and ‘Shariat’. Hari Rishi was denounced for breaking his rigorous fasts with pebbles and stones. To the Sayyid-Sufis Nund Rishi was illiterate and ignorant having no knowledge of Islamic scriptures. His going into lent (Chillas) was a practice that was denounced totally as un-Islamic. The rishis as a class had gained popularity with the mass of devotees not for their strict adherence to Hadith and Sharia but for their asceticism, meditation and hard living like the native ‘hatha-yogis’.

The Sayyid-sufis of various orders (silsilas) failed to present a cogently structured teleological view of spirituality. Being poetical in their approach and premise the exponents of such orders (silsilas) stipulated varied positions in regard to the essential issue of ultimate destination of a seeker. The pull of concordance and conformity with the fundamental concerns of Islamic theology had the concomitant outcome of stunting the sovereign growth of the Sufi orders (silsilas) as thought-models based on theoretical constructs buttressed by lived praxes.

It is apt to state that Sufism holistically could not achieve recognition as a well-defined thought-system in keeping with its original nuances and motivations of heralding a thought-force in conflict with the rigidities of Islamic law and doctrine. Like the Kharigies (externalists), the outbursts of numerous sufis under the impact of neo-platonists and Buddhists and Vedantins were ruthlessly suppressed by denouncing them as rebellious and heretical, thus stilling the voice of dissent and difference.

The rebellious expression of Bayazid that his banner was greater than that of Mohammad and the stunning cry of Mansur that he was God/Truth rendered all hues of sufis suspect in the eyes of the dogma-ridden Muslim world. They were sternly censured and severely condemned. To the utter shock of religious liberals Mansur was physically eliminated after torture. The idea of 'fana' as the telos of spiritual journey stunned the hide-bound Muslim dogmatists as it devalued and belittled the observance of ritual obligations. Ibn-i-Arabi, was condemned as a heretic for his 'Wahadatul Wujud' formulation which not only contradicted but also negated the Quranic doctrine of 'tawhid' by confounding God with world. Zikr (remembrance of God), borrowed from the Hindus, was permitted as a tool for spiritual orientation. But 'sama' (dance and singing), equally popular with the Hindus, was denounced as 'heretical'. The Sayyid-Sufis, who came over to Kashmir carried with them the legacy of a perennial conflict between mysticism and theology and its rigours. Steeped in orthodoxy, they, donning the robes of sufis, made a cocktail of mysticism and theology and presented it as an intolerant and proselytizing faith and posited it against the native religious-cum-spiritual expressions, not only highly tolerant but also assimilative of dissent and difference.

It is well-known that love is the key motif of Sufism. In the domain of Persian poetry love has found artistic expressions and has been typified as a symbol to intensify mystical love. Theoretically love has not matured into an effective symbolism as to resolve the perennial conflict between mysticism and strait-Jacket of theology. The sufis for fear of persecution weakly accepted the Quranic dicta defining love and its parameters. They showed no intellectual boldness and spiritual independence which could have set them apart from the theological rigours thereby setting ablaze a trail of new development in the domain of sufism as a mode of thought. They could not establish a love-nexus with God for mystical heights. The Quranic injunction that God as the creator of man cannot have any love-bond with the created clipped the wings of their thought and spiritual conceptualisations. They could not  conceive of any meaning of love other than that of obedience or submission.

In sharp contrast to the semitic colour of love symbolism, the native visualisation about love is spiritually elevating and exhilirating. As a highly emotive state of human psyche it exponentially upswings a seeker to the condition of synthesisation as one with God. Music, dance and hymn-singing in ecstasy are recognised as pious accoutrements to heighten love and its allied states with the clear objective of attaining synergy with love i.e. God.

Mira as a seeker of love-nexus with Krishna, her destination of love, ascends to the state of total absorbtion into her love i.e. Krishna. In native parlance, love and God are interchangeable. Love is God and God is love. Unimpeded union with love is bliss and separation from love is pains. Love has spiritual contours and is suffused with spiritual content. To be exact, love is defined as spirituality incarnate. More than most, love is pregnant with humanistic content and has served as a source to renaissance stagnant societies to achieve new dynamism and flowering.

As models of ossified orthodoxy, the Central Asian Sayyid-sufis were stunned to find the natives harbouring a maze of beliefs strung together by love as an elevating elixir potent enough to push a seeker to the state of unity with God. Such a belief, to them, was sheer heresy controverting the Quranic position. That there is a yawning chasm between man and God and God leaves the world to its own fate after He creates it was what chilled their philosophical and mystical insight.

The Sayyid-sufis when in Kashmir were completely dazed to find the natives sticking to the concept of God as transcendental and immanent too. Even after crippling conversions the natives continued with the cultural inheritance of Shiva as the creator of cosmos. In manifestation mode He was Shakti which at mass level was known as 'She', an abbreviated form of Shakti. To dis-inherit them from their cultural treasure as a precious legacy the Sayyid-sufis devised a plethora of measures to re-baptize them after coercive conversions through Jazia (poll-tax) and levers of state power including army.

Absolutely deficient in arduous cultivation as inquisitive and enquiring minds the Sayyid-sufis made not even meagre efforts to have a casual peep into the native mind and its creative expressions in varied segments of human knowledge including aesthetics. As representatives of a civilisation that had long back frozen in time and place, they as hard-core missionaries embarked upon an insidious mission of ravaging, looting and arsoning the architectural heritage of the natives which they derisively called idol-houses, where devotees (bakhtas) prayed and sang in accompaniment with indigenous musical instruments for value enrichment and spiritual enhancement. Having inherited  legacy of boorish contempt for music, dance and hymn-singing as spiritual components, they as votaries of Shariat and Sunna carried the burden of responsibility for the imposition of barbaric ban on music, dance and hymn-singing that the natives were wedded to. At the prodding of a Sayyid-sufi of Kubrawi variety, Sultan Sikandar, launched a genocidal onslaught on the religious leitmotifs of the natives with a view to stamping them out. Temples of aesthetic and cultural import were brutally levelled. It is shocking to recall that Sultan Sikandar made use of gun-powder known as hard-ware of war to shatter the Martand Temple acclaimed as 'epitome of architecture', 'music in stone' and 'gem of Indian architecture'. Prior to the destruction of the temple he deployed a team of sadists who cruelly hammered its sculptural wealth of high artistic value and merit to smithereens. Mir Ali Hamadani, a Kubrawi sufi, said to be a Shia-Muslim by faith, was the first to write the iconoclastic chapter of Kashmir history. Baharistan-i-Shahi, a Muslim chronicle in Persian, applauds him for demolition of the Kali-shree temple, an icon of native faith and religion, to raise a Muslim prayer-place at the site. Mir Shams-ud-Din Araki, again a Sayyid-sufi of Shia faith was a highly motivated Vandal who fanatically destroyed numerous temples throughout the Valley.

As evidenced by Jonraj, the author of second Rajtarangini, Sultan Sikandar spared no effort worth the name to erase all traces of indigenous knowledge and learning as enshrined in books with the sole purpose of cleansing the land of infidelity. As a psychopath he added new chapters to the Muslim history of burning books. The Hindu houses were ransacked and looted and the treasure-trove thus got was pitilessly burnt or consigned to rivers, lakes and wells or buried down the earth. Records Srivar -

'Sikandar burnt the books the same way as fire burns hay. verse - 75

'All the scintillating works faced destruction in the same manner that lotus flowers face with the onset of frosty winter'. verse - 77

'The erudites of that period witnessing the enmass destruction of books by Muslims fled their land with some books through mountain routes'.  - verse-76

With a view to eradicating the well-entrenched spiritual foundation of the natives the Sayyid-sufis drawing tremendous support from the ruling Muslim dispensation removed their sacred threads as a mark of their initiation, forced them to recite kalima, got them circumcised and thrust lumps of beef into their mouths. As most of their religious literature especially 'Yogavashisht' and 'Bhagvat Puranum' was destroyed, they were anguished to have hand-written copies of the Quran which they could not read or recite nor were there local pirs or mullahs who could have provided them the initial lessons. The natives placed under siege to an alien religion were huddled in groups to say prayers in the Islamic mode, but soon after dispersal they visited their destructed temples to bow to their gods of ancestors. After strictness was enforced the natives hid shiva-lingas under their sleeves before they were herded for prayers which they never considered of any spiritual essence. When the practice was detected, they were forced to raise and down their arms before they settled for prayers. Though converted to Islam, the natives were suspected of pursuing their instinctive practices and when most of them were decreed to say prayers in their homes in presence of Sayyid-sufis acting as moral and religious police, they placed their haunches on the sacred text and recited their old hymns and litanies. Shell-shocked by such defiance, they were stigmatized as apostates and put to the sharp blades of a sword on days sacred to Muslims. For such horrible details Baharistan-i-Shahi and Tohfatul Ahbab as the Muslim chronicles in Persian can be consulted for corroboration and gruesome details.

When in the highly fertile soil of Kashmir blessed with salubrious climate, the Sayyid-sufis  settled in the land of natives, practically as aliens, in fact, bewitched by its beauties taking it as the land of paradisal legend as they had read in the Quranic accounts, most of them married the native converts and acquired Jagirs through favours from the Muslim state. Their missionary zeal over the years evaporated as a result of better prospect of life which they could not have dreamt of in their native places. Mir Shams-ud-Din Araki as a purist of classical variety castigated the mullahs for following the ways of thekafirs (infidels) while giving send-off to their daughters at the time of their marriages. Over-lording the bands of new-found followers begging for ordinary doles the Sayyid-sufis drafted them on missions of demolishing temples housing the venerated gods and goddesses of the natives and temples of learning. As there were ethnic and cultural affinities between the neo-converts and the resilient natives the Sayyid-sufis drilled their de-humanised followers into the lessons of hate and contempt for the resilients for being 'kafirs' (infidels) and idolatrous. A handful of Sayyid-sufis continued with the mission of conversions by establishing langars (eating places) as a source of allurement for the new entrants to Islam and as a weapon to keep the converted to Islam. Such public-kitchens were financed by the government agencies through grant of Jagirs to the zealots donning the robes of sufis. The public-kitchen of Bulbulshah was financed by Rinchen, a Ladakhi born converted it Islam. Mir Mohammad Hamadani was heavily financed by Sultan Sikander for all his missionary enterprises including setting up of a public-kitchen for the converts. Mir Shams-ud-Din Araki was given gold, silver and jewels by Musa Raina, the Prime Minister of Sultan Mohammad Shah, for purposes of building worshipping places for his Shia followers at the sites where he had destructed Hindu temples and shrines. The Sayyid-sufisutilised the revenues accruing from the Jagirs granted to them by the Muslim rulers of all hues for subversion of the land in terms of politics and religion. The strong contradictions between the local converts and the alien Sayyid-sufis led to battles resulting in the expulsion of the Sayyid-sufis from Kashmir. The native converts coined 'Saad makar' or cunning Sayyids as a derogatory nomenclature for them when they practically took control of government machinery and turned it into an instrument of coercion and oppression.

If they are called terrible actors veering between belligerence and prietism it might not shock many.

The so-called researchers in the Shah-i-Hamadan Institute set up under the aegis of the University of Kashmir, Srinagar seem to be motivated by sectarian prejudices when they extol and trumpet the role of Sayyids and Sayyid-Sufis in Kashmir in blatant violation and transgression of historical facts and other relevant materials. The fact remains that the Sayyid  foreigners are responsible for erosion and destruction of indigenous ethos that had formed as a result of historical, cultural and civilisational processes. The version of Sayyid influx which they present is the privileged part of Islamic history in Kashmir.

As is well known Kashmir as part of a vast cultural and civilisational mosaic had existed and emerged as a distinct identity much before the advent of these foreigners and had made amazing contributions to all segments of human knowledge and development. And no serious researcher can easily ignore it or berate it. That the Sayyids were responsible for transmuting the religious complexion of Kashmir and sowing the bacilli of iconoclasm in Kashmir is being glorified through re-inventions, distortions and farrago of unfounded constructions. No attempt can be evaluated as laudable if Kashmir is presented as the creation of some foreigners in terms of its origins, its store-house of myths and traditions, its literary treasures and aesthetic theories and finally its history of evolution and flowering. The researchers appear to be 'turning away' from Kashmir and trying hard to justify the scars inflicted on the essence of Kashmir, its soul, by the foreign zealots and proselytizers.

The Sayyids and Sayyid- Sufis, perhaps two sides of the same coin, poured into Kashmir in the wake of entrenchment of Muslim rule in Kashmir. The majority of them came from Persia and Central Asia where they had suffered severe persecution at the hands of Muslim rulers abhorrent of their political activities and religious predilections. Sayyid Sharf-ud-Din under persecution in his native land fled to Kashmir where a Hindu ruler, Suhadeva, granted him refuge and permission to practice and preach his religion. Mir Ali Hamadani alongwith seven hundred Sayyids was forced to abandon his native land by Timur who detested all Sayyids including Kubrawi Sufis. Mir Mohammad Hamadani, son of Mir Ali Hamadani, accompanied by three hundred Sayyids, poured into Kashmir in the times of Sultan Sikandar who at his prodding and motivation unleashed a genocidal war on the native population of Hindus. Ultimately a trickle changed into a torrent and thousands of Sayyids flooded the territory of Kashmir. They had hide-bound views on religion which motivated them to extirpate infidelity from Kashmir and with few exceptions had personal ambitions of gaining positions of power and panopoly.

Every student of Kashmir history is aware that Zain-ul-Abidin after his demise was followed by a crop of worthless and incompetent rulers. There was total chaos and anarchy prevailing in the territory of Kashmir. The Sayyids proved deft enough to utilise the chaotic and turbulent conditions to their advantage and missed no opportunity to entrench themselves in various layers of power structure. They emerged strong and formidable and gained absolute sway over the entire political scene. They cornered high positions and lucrative offices for themselves and their kinsmen. Rich and affluent they married in royal and prestigious families. Dazzled and baffled by the enormity of their wealth and assets the native converts seethed with anger and burning in their hearts as they were treated as low as dust, an expression from Srivar, a noted historican of Kashmir. The Sayyids as known to them all had come to Kashmir as punies, but through the lavish patronage of Muslim rulers of all hues they rose to the positions of power and pelf. As both power and riches have a corrupting impact the Sayyids grew haughty and arrogant too and maligned and hated the neo-converts as brahman-zadas (sons of brahmans), half Muslims, deviants, and idolators. Capitalising on their title of Sayyids they missed no opportunity to brighten their personal prospects, amass as much of wealth as they could and worm their way into money-spinning positions.

Records Srivar, "these foreigners had become rich after coming to this country and had forgotten their previous history, even as men forget their previous life on coming out of the womb. They oppressed the people".

The Sayyids in corridors of power manning the state machine were so much self-engrossed that they did next to nothing to ameliorate the lot of converts who were left high and dry after their forcible conversion. They, in fact, chopped off every twig from the tree of mercy. They were ruthless in fleecing people, oppressing them and though expected to be models for emulation they flouted all norms of decent moral conduct. They were highly corrupt and venal. They exerted maximum to extract as much of booty as they could. They were the worst exloiters that the Kashmiris of all shades had ever seen and known.

Writes Srivar, "Accepting bribes by them was virtuous, oppressing people was wise and indulging in drinking and sex was happiness".

Sayyids had a deep streak of bigotry in their mental structure. They opposed tooth and nail the policy projections of Zain-ul-Abidin regarding rehabilitation of the Hindus who had fled their land in the wake of genocidal war waged on them. The tryst of Hindus with peace and respite proved short-lived when Sayyids launched a furious campaign of calummy and hatred against them forcing them to quit their native place or else get converted. In the fag end of Hassan Shah's reign the Sayyids got the Hindu places of worship looted, ransacked and burnt. They were cruel to Hindus, terrorised them and reduced them to the position of dust in their own land which they had nurtured through ages. Sayyids having come from distant lands for refuge and shelter devastated Kashmir and reduced it to a jungle where wild and ferocious animals had a free play.

Under the hegemony of Sayyids the Hindus could not even lodge a complaint if their properties were looted or trespassed. A respectable Hindu lodged a mild complaint against the trespass of his land to a Sayyid officer who out of religious hatred fiated the destruction of his entire property and also the devastation of properties belonging to all Hindus living in that locality. This incident can typify the treatment meted out to the natives not bearing the Islamic tag. They were the same brand of Sayyids that had actually fled their lands due to persecution and found shelter in Kashmir already under Muslim hegemony.

To detail it out further the Sayyids were wild crusaders against the native Hindus whose position had already reduced to a wafer-thin minority. They always kept them on tenter-hooks, denied them safety of life and limb and incessantly harassed them. Under the instructions from Sayyids the squads of Muslims entered the 'private houses of Hindus, ate from their pots, disrupted their usual modes of worship and indulged in bouts of drinking and carousing'. They were looters who robbed the converts and Hindus alike of their 'domestic animals, rice and other necessities of life and the most avaricious among them went to the extreme of killing them in their own houses'. The lands belonging to Hindus were confiscated, thus depriving then of sustenance. A well-known physician, Buvaneshwar by name, was barbarically killed and his decapitated head thrown on road to instil terror among people dead-set against their oppression.

A vaishnavite Brahman, Muni, rose in open revolt against the Sayyid oppressors who were out to decimate the whole race of Hindus in Kashmir. The homes and hearths of Muni were ruthlessly ravaged and destroyed. His supporters met the same fate. Women-folk were lifted and sold to zealots for a price.

Tazi Bhatt, a local neo-convert, though a fluke, raised a banner of revolt against the Sayyids when they rebelled against Hassan Shah, the Muslim ruler of Kashmir. He represented the wide-spread sentiment against the Sayyids as oppressors when he crusaded for their expulsion from Kashmir and confiscation of their incalculable assets which they had amassed in Kashmir. Hassan Shah sensed the trend of events and to ward off a popular uprising he ordered the externment of a large number of Sayyids from Kashmir. There was a lot of jubilation over the development and people heaved a sight of relief as they had plucked out a painful 'thorn' from their body politic. Tazi Bhat was hailed and cheered as a national hero and his graph of popularity notched upto an unprecedented mark.

Says Srivar, "when the country was rid of these 'thorns', people were happy under the good administration and they occupied themselves in marriages and festivities in building good houses in dancing and processions and they thought of nothing else".

The extreme popularity and political strength of Tazi Bhatt was not savoured well by Malik Ahmad who was the Prime Minister. With a view to undermining Tazi Bhat's position he as a strategm opened channels of contact with the expelled Sayyids who had not gone to their native places but had taken shelter either with their kinsmen in Delhi or some tribal chiefs of mountainous borders of Kashmir. Malik Ahmad was encouraged and assisted in recalling the Sayyids by the queen, who happened to be the daughter of a Sayyid. The Sayyids returned to the Valley to regain and re-consolidate their old lost positions and enormous possessions. But the people got enraged and severely opposed the PM's act of recalling the Sayyids who had oppressed and virtually looted them. They termed the act of the PM as foolish and extremely unpatriotic. A prominent Muslim damar dilated on the evil consequences ensuing from the return of the hated Sayyids. Malik Ahmad had his own calculations and expected the Sayyids when back in Kashmir to act as his surrogates and flatterers.

But the Sayyids proved defter than Malik Ahmad. The moment they recovered their possessions and had them in full hold they pounced on people and their leaders to avenge their disgraceful externment. Tazi Bhatt was their main target and they had plans to imprison him and abduct his wife. But to the good luck of Tazi Bhat he was informed of the designs of Sayyids by his supporters and took shelter with the Prime Minister who happened to be his adopted father. The Muslim ruler sensed it as the formation of a new grand alliance against him and sent forces to arrest Tazi Bhatt. But the people revolted against this act of the ruler, who stopped in his tracks from arresting Tazi Bhatt, thus saving his crown and sceptre.

Though recalled to Kashmir by Malik Ahmad the revengeful Sayyids always took him as their sworn enemy. The Muslim ruler instigated by Sayyids imprisoned him and confiscated his whole lot of enormous wealth. The Sayyids without any visible rival in the field exercised full powers without check or restraint .

Records Srivar, "they became unruly after this triumph, they placed the king under their control and regarded the people of Kashmir hardly even as grass".

The Sayyids reduced the Muslim ruler to a mere puny puppet. They made him to dance to their tunes. He was just there on the throne, not even a figure head. The country was seething with discontent and indignation at the phenomenal rise of the foreigners, who had insatiable lust for power and had risen from rags to riches at the expense of the Kashmiris.

Writes Srivar, "He (King) lost all interest in the administration of the country and remained indifferent to the doings of his servants. His mind was influenced by his wife and the Sayyids..."

There was an open revolt against the Muslim ruler and his Sayyid advisers and henchmen. Winter was chosen as the timing for unleashment of revolt when it would be near impossible for the army to move about freely. The revolt was mercilessly suppressed by the army headed by the Sayyids. Conveys Srivar:-

"The army headed by the Sayyids scattered itself throughout the length and breadth of the Valley and inflicted untold atrocities on the people. The inhabitants were robbed of their domestic animals and rice and wine and other things...."

The Sayyids consolidated their power after the death of the ruler, Hassan Shah. To fill the vaccuum Sayyid Hassan installed seven year old son of his own daughter on the throne of Kashmir. The people were mortified by the absolute power that the Sayyids wielded. They were rejected as non-entities and treated with absolute disdain. Writes Srivar:-

"Haughty in their conduct and cruel in behaviour those arrogant men, urged by excessive cupidity, oppressed the people even like the messengers of death".

The Kashmiris reviled and treated as dust finally geared and girded up their loins to wage a final battle against the tyrannical and treacherous rule of the Sayyids. Saifu-ud-Din Dar, a local noble, led the uprising. A plot was organised to kill all Sayyid leaders who manned the levers of power. The fort at Naushahr was seized and Sayyid Hassan alongwith his relatives was murdered. Despite Sayyid retaliation the people's morale never got downed or dipped. The popular army captured the whole of Valley. The Sayyids with politics in their blood opened up negotiations but the leaders of the uprising rejected all such offers. They sought military aid from Sayyids in the Punjab and Delhi. The indigenous battle against the Sayyids met its waterloo because of many factors, the main factor being treachery.

Intoxicated by the victory the Sayyids indulged in extreme revelries and massive plunder of the local population, both Hindus and Muslims. Innocent and unarmed citizens  were murdered in cold blood. Learned men among the Hindus were put to the sword. Writes Srivar:-

"They fixed several heads on poles in order to strike terror into the people they placed them like rows of lamps on a piece of wood on the banks of the vitasta".

But ultimately the battle against the Sayyids fructified into a dazzling success when Jehangir Magrey took the lead of the popular army. The Sayyids were chased in the streets of the city. They were given the appellation of 'Saad makar'--the cunning Sayyids. Their properties were either confiscated or totally destroyed. The converts and their popular army showed them no mercy. Most of them were expelled from the land.

Sayyid Sufis - Muslim Theologians

To be in the company of God’ or ‘Shine in God’s light’ or to live in the presence of God’ are semitic expressions which the native rishis were not aware of. Even the efficacy of prayer was unknown to them. They had no worldly attachments, lived poor and never chased material goods. Though denounced as ascetics by all brands of Sayyid-sufis, they lived as ascetics and recluses much after the manner of the native Buddhist and Vedantinst and never bothered for conformity to the theological requirements as enunciated in the religion of the colonisers.

The way the rishis lived, the manner of their thought and nuances, the spiritual path that they trod  upon leave no doubt about their Hindu or Buddhist credentials. The pontifs of the colonising religion had no qualms to conceal their abhorrence for them and their anti-Islamic positions. They rejected them as illiterate and ignorant. The prophetic mysticism as  espoused by them remained circumscribed to the circle of their followers and failed to percolate down to the broad sections of converted masses addicted to the practice of native spirituality and its allied axiologies based on high moral ground of humanism and liberalism.

The followers of diverse ‘Sufi Silsilas’ in central Asian lands had not the same spiritually tempered minds as we find in the native rishis. They were ordinary mortals swayed by emotions of hate, malice and greed. They bitterly opposed their rivals and enemies within their silsilas or outside them. Most of them were involved in personal feuds either with the Muslim rulers or Sufis of rival factions. Even a surface analysis of their social behaviour establishes them as men indulging in petty jealousies and chasing pursuits that had under pinnings of greed and avarice. If a sayyid-sufi wormed his way to the seat of power, many others hatched intrigues to distance him away from the ruler only to usurp his place. Mir Mohammad Hamadani had his enemies in his native land who forced him out and even in Kashmir he had his principal enemy in Sayyid Hissari who castigated Sultan Sikander for having been trapped by the Kubrawi sufi.

As against this, the native rishis, poor and recluce, had no culture of indulgence in hate, greed, avarice, jealousy and such other base emotions. As a spiritual requirement they had absolutely abandoned them and gained self-control to reach the blissful summit of union with  the God. They loved all and hated none. They had no greed and had abandoned and suppressed all worldly desire and yearnings. The thousands of Kubrawi Sayyids who had entered Kashmir carried with them the legacy of feud and factionalism and as a result of their political orientation they grabbed the state apparatus and turned it into a repressive machine. Some of them are looked upon as saints and  the  converts with Hindu instincts seek their intercession, which as a practice is detested as un-Islamic. That the Sayyid-Suffis strengthened and reinforced Tauheedic consciousness among the converts is an illusion fostered by those who have replaced history by hagiology and sociology by blind faith with the sole purpose of concealing the political and religious role of the colonisers.

The essential question about the Sayyid -Sufis from central Asian lands is what form and vintage of Islam and what type of thought content allied with it they brought with them. They were expelled from their native places at a time when the verve of the Islamic civilisation was no longer there and its unity and moral force had quagmired. The Muslim empire had fallen. The decay had set in when the Arabs reduced the Persian civilisation assiduously built by Cyrus and Darius. The Persians though reduced and subjugate took their revenge by rupturing the seat of Caliphate. The unity of God head though in no way unique for Indians suffered a shocking jot when Bayazid decried Tauheed and Mansur yelled that he was God.

With the death of Mansur the liberalist trend was decapitated. The Sayyid -Sufis as inheritors to the Islamic dogmas unleashed no revolution in the thought ways of the natives of Kashmir. They through the use of force, and tampering with the stories about yogi's suppressed the natives to convert them and after conversion left them languishing and reeling under the repressive state machine which they had propped up.

As the prisoners to dogma when in Kashmir the Sayyid-sufis could not think of drinking deep at its fountain head of knowledge and learning. They urged and instigated the Muslim ruler through quotes from scriptures to change the religious complexion of Kashmir and destroy the native traditions, culture forms and usages as products of generations of cumulative experiences. Admired in literalist tradition of Islam they acted as Muslims who were ordered in literalist tradition of Islam. They acted as Muslims who were ordered to punish the natives who refused to accept Islam. The Quranic verses expressing deep hatred for non-Muslims had literally gripped them. The verses ordaining Muslims to use corcion and violence against the non-Muslims had shaped their over all demeanour unto the natives of Kashmir. The motivations from the text had made them believe that conversion to Islam of those outside its orbit was a goal of super religious  value and weapon of force used for getting converts was justified as ordained by religion. Islam as the Arab religion could move out of the desert tracts only through military action and in its expansion in the Indian sub-continent the Muslim missionaries in the guise of sufi-sayyids played their role in tandem with Muslim state power established through ravaging raids and assaults.

As is well-known in scholarly circles that the conceptions about ‘Sharia’ were put in the form of formulations in Medina, Egypt and Iraq. After Arab conquests of many regions the Muslim theologians controlling the brain-boxes of the rulers deemed the conquests as incomplete without imposition of ‘Sharia’. Serious conflicts arose between the imperial conquerors imposing ‘shlaria’ on the natives the subjugated people defending their own traditional laws and precedents against the onslaught. The Sayyid-Sufis as stickers to Sharia used it as a weapon to create discord, disharmony and religious strife in the land they wanted to subvert. As a matter of strategy everything belonging to the native roots as a manifestation of civilisational growth and creativity was to be stamped out. Sharia when imposed did away with most of the native practices and by labelled them as irreligious conventions.

Mir Ali Hamadani was well versed in its political significance and efficacy. That is why he urged the Muslim ruler to introduce sharia in his Hindu dominated state. His sole aim was to create a crisis between the ruler and his Hindu subjects and between the majority of Hindus and a small colony of Muslims. His well calculated attempt was to precipitate matters where the Muslim state would get involved in extirpation of infidelity. In his subsequent two visits he succeeded in involving the state power and that is how he got some substantial conversions to Islam. Mir Mohammad Hamadani translated the sharia formulations blatantly for conversions and instigated and harnessed sultan Sikander to use his army and punity jazia for conversions thereby forcing the natives either to flee their land or get converted or get killed . ‘Sharia’ was used as an instrument to polarise, divide and disharmonise a society predominantly Hindu.

The rishis were strict vegetarians and never touched meat of any animal. It being not in tune with Sharia and Sunna the Sayyid -Sufis abhorred them and avoided to touch them even with a bargepole.

The Sayyid-Sufis and their followers with political orientation were responsible for distortion of the role and context of native rishis in view of their acceptance and popularity. They in their beliefs and practices were taken as signorant of Sharia and Sunna. Yet for purpose of roping them in within their fold they wove yarns and fictitious stories about their acceptance of Sayyid-Sufis, especially the Kubrawis.

 The followers of the Kubrawi Sayyid-Sufis painted the local rishis as reformers. If the native rishis were reformers, that surely implies that they either as a group or as  individuals failed to share the sense of victory that outsiders had scored in Kashmir. Reform is sought, not by the victor, but by the vanquished. If rishis shared the victory of Muslims in Kashmir, they in no uncertain terms were on ascendancy and hence had no reason to reform their society which was up-beat with political and religious victories. Rishis as reformers throw up a vital information about Islam in Kashmir which as an imposed cementing force had failed to re-vitalise the socio-religious fabric of the neo-converts cut as under from their native moorings and roots and thus were sunk in psychological and moral morass and needed a reform for a renewal and revival. Again, if the rishis were reformers their spirituality is jeopardised. The neo-converts mainly the peasants of Kashmir, love them not as reformers, but as intercessors for final  redemption. If rishis as a distinctive native tribe of tradition perpetuators had taken to reform, that is proof enough that they had deflected away from their native goals of supreme spirituality and were semitised to play the role of reformers. The life-style and thought ways of rishis even after tremendous distortion of their poetical expressions do not seem to support it.

The published poetical materials of Nund Rishi, never authentic in any way, contain many shrukhs (slokas) which are highly critical of the mullahs. The accusations against them are that they undertake evil and vicious practices which are not morally and religiously sound as per his axiology. If after conversions Muslim society which was a flush with new victories and new value systems rejecting the Brahmanical tyranny, how come that a handful of Mullahs had caused its corruption just within a short span of sixty years. The diatribe against the Mullahs pinpoints the decadence that had set in Muslim society soon after it was born from religious turmoil. In objective terms Mullahs if they were conversant with the Islamic lore and learning played  a great part in mediating Islam through indigenous culture forms. They could be accused of diluting Islam with the native religious expressions thereby syncretizing it. But the question that crops up is about the very knowledge of Nund Rishi about Islamic theology. All sources are unanimous that he was no theologian and had no knowledge of Islam and its essential positions. If he opposed the Mullahs for their syncretic dilution, he could not determine the dilution for want of requisite knowledge and he could not have opposed the dilution for he himself was the product of co-mingling of many native strands of thought and trends at mass level. Hence it is averred that the shrukhs epitomising diatribes against the native Mullahs are later day distortions either by the authors of Noor-namas or other minds aware of Nund Rishi’s thought content shaped by the surrounding spiritual ambience.

The same Sayyid-sufis especially their few followers have posed the rishis, mainly Nund Rishi, as proselytizers. Sayyid Ali, a follower of Kubrawis, has drawn a ridiculous portrait of Nund Rishi entering into a cave-temple of Buma rishi only to exhort him to get converted to Islam. A rishi of native variety steeped in this native lore and learning with a bias against practices legitimised under Sharia and Sunnah is drawn as the worst brand of proselytiser wearing the blood dripping hide of a cow. The word portrait of the Rishi drawn in such an offensive form is to offend his indigenous sensitivities two hundred years after his deather. All Kashmiris know it fully well that Nund Rishi was a strict vegetarian and had abhorrance for all type of meat. The fanatic follower of the Kubrawis protrayed him thus to castigate him for a conduct not in conformity with Sharia and Sunna. Hardi Rishi was also a vegetarian and hagiographers of the same fanatic variety have figmented a spiritual conference to rub home to him the importance and efficacy of beef-eating only to live up to the ideals of Sharia and Sunna. The Sayyid sufis of the Kubrawi brand have deliberately and mischievously heaped violence on the native rishis who had allegiance more to their native roots than the foreign impositions.

The Sayyid-sufis and some native converts who fail to see themselves as converts have woven stories and myths about the involvement of rishis in processes of proselyisation. It is directed to the end of establishing that the combine of the Kubrawi Sayyid-sufis, Sultan Sikander and other Muslim rulers had no role to play in conversions and conversions were voluntary or induced by the rishis through their asceticism and simple style of life.

After a careful analysis of the politico religious conditions of the times, Nund Rishi came to over-lord as an indigenous saint, one is led to conclude that large scale conversions had already taken place especially of the peasant masses through imposition of Jazia and use of armed forces. The temple and shrines as icon of Hindu faith were smashed and those who lived there as their keepers or as practitioners of native faith could not have withstood the sweeping hurricane of bigotry. The role of rishis was only to fill in the vacuum that was created by shifting of religious loyalties to a foreign faith which for a long time was more a force than a reality.

Militant Sayyids

THE so-called researchers in the Shah-i-Hamadan Institute set up under the aegis of the University of Kashmir, Srinagar seem to be motivated by sectarian prejudices when they extol and trumpet the role of Sayyids and Sayyid-Sufis in Kashmir in blatant violation and transgression of historical facts and other relevant materials. The fact remains that the Sayyid  foreigners are responsible for erosion and destruction of indigenous ethos that had formed as a result of historical, cultural and civilisational processes. The version of Sayyid influx which they present is the privileged part of Islamic history in Kashmir.

As is well known Kashmir as part of a vast cultural and civilisational mosaic had existed and emerged as a distinct identity much before the advent of these foreigners and had made amazing contributions to all segments of human knowledge and development. And no serious researcher can easily ignore it or berate it. That the Sayyids were responsible for transmuting the religious complexion of Kashmir and sowing the bacilli of iconoclasm in Kashmir is being glorified through re-inventions, distortions and farrago of unfounded constructions. No attempt can be evaluated as laudable if Kashmir is presented as the creation of some foreigners in terms of its origins, its store-house of myths and traditions, its literary treasures and aesthetic theories and finally its history of evolution and flowering. The researchers appear to be 'turning away' from Kashmir and trying hard to justify the scars inflicted on the essence of Kashmir, its soul, by the foreign zealots and proselytizers.

The Sayyids and Sayyid- Sufis, perhaps two sides of the same coin, poured into Kashmir in the wake of entrenchment of Muslim rule in Kashmir. The majority of them came from Persia and Central Asia where they had suffered severe persecution at the hands of Muslim rulers abhorrent of their political activities and religious predilections. Sayyid Sharf-ud-Din under persecution in his native land fled to Kashmir where a Hindu ruler, Suhadeva, granted him refuge and permission to practice and preach his religion. Mir Ali Hamadani alongwith seven hundred Sayyids was forced to abandon his native land by Timur who detested all Sayyids including Kubrawi Sufis. Mir Mohammad Hamadani, son of Mir Ali Hamadani, accompanied by three hundred Sayyids, poured into Kashmir in the times of Sultan Sikandar who at his prodding and motivation unleashed a genocidal war on the native population of Hindus. Ultimately a trickle changed into a torrent and thousands of Sayyids flooded the territory of Kashmir. They had hide-bound views on religion which motivated them to extirpate infidelity from Kashmir and with few exceptions had personal ambitions of gaining positions of power and panopoly.

Every student of Kashmir history is aware that Zain-ul-Abidin after his demise was followed by a crop of worthless and incompetent rulers. There was total chaos and anarchy prevailing in the territory of Kashmir. The Sayyids proved deft enough to utilise the chaotic and turbulent conditions to their advantage and missed no opportunity to entrench themselves in various layers of power structure. They emerged strong and formidable and gained absolute sway over the entire political scene. They cornered high positions and lucrative offices for themselves and their kinsmen. Rich and affluent they married in royal and prestigious families. Dazzled and baffled by the enormity of their wealth and assets the native converts seethed with anger and burning in their hearts as they were treated as low as dust, an expression from Srivar, a noted historican of Kashmir. The Sayyids as known to them all had come to Kashmir as punies, but through the lavish patronage of Muslim rulers of all hues they rose to the positions of power and pelf. As both power and riches have a corrupting impact the Sayyids grew haughty and arrogant too and maligned and hated the neo-converts as brahman-zadas (sons of brahmans), half Muslims, deviants, and idolators. Capitalising on their title of Sayyids they missed no opportunity to brighten their personal prospects, amass as much of wealth as they could and worm their way into money-spinning positions.

Records Srivar, "these foreigners had become rich after coming to this country and had forgotten their previous history, even as men forget their previous life on coming out of the womb. They oppressed the people".

The Sayyids in corridors of power manning the state machine were so much self-engrossed that they did next to nothing to ameliorate the lot of converts who were left high and dry after their forcible conversion. They, in fact, chopped off every twig from the tree of mercy. They were ruthless in fleecing people, oppressing them and though expected to be models for emulation they flouted all norms of decent moral conduct. They were highly corrupt and venal. They exerted maximum to extract as much of booty as they could. They were the worst exloiters that the Kashmiris of all shades had ever seen and known.

Writes Srivar, "Accepting bribes by them was virtuous, oppressing people was wise and indulging in drinking and sex was happiness".

Sayyids had a deep streak of bigotry in their mental structure. They opposed tooth and nail the policy projections of Zain-ul-Abidin regarding rehabilitation of the Hindus who had fled their land in the wake of genocidal war waged on them. The tryst of Hindus with peace and respite proved short-lived when Sayyids launched a furious campaign of calummy and hatred against them forcing them to quit their native place or else get converted. In the fag end of Hassan Shah's reign the Sayyids got the Hindu places of worship looted, ransacked and burnt. They were cruel to Hindus, terrorised them and reduced them to the position of dust in their own land which they had nurtured through ages. Sayyids having come from distant lands for refuge and shelter devastated Kashmir and reduced it to a jungle where wild and ferocious animals had a free play.

Under the hegemony of Sayyids the Hindus could not even lodge a complaint if their properties were looted or trespassed. A respectable Hindu lodged a mild complaint against the trespass of his land to a Sayyid officer who out of religious hatred fiated the destruction of his entire property and also the devastation of properties belonging to all Hindus living in that locality. This incident can typify the treatment meted out to the natives not bearing the Islamic tag. They were the same brand of Sayyids that had actually fled their lands due to persecution and found shelter in Kashmir already under Muslim hegemony.

To detail it out further the Sayyids were wild crusaders against the native Hindus whose position had already reduced to a wafer-thin minority. They always kept them on tenter-hooks, denied them safety of life and limb and incessantly harassed them. Under the instructions from Sayyids the squads of Muslims entered the 'private houses of Hindus, ate from their pots, disrupted their usual modes of worship and indulged in bouts of drinking and carousing'. They were looters who robbed the converts and Hindus alike of their 'domestic animals, rice and other necessities of life and the most avaricious among them went to the extreme of killing them in their own houses'. The lands belonging to Hindus were confiscated, thus depriving then of sustenance. A well-known physician, Buvaneshwar by name, was barbarically killed and his decapitated head thrown on road to instil terror among people dead-set against their oppression.

A vaishnavite Brahman, Muni, rose in open revolt against the Sayyid oppressors who were out to decimate the whole race of Hindus in Kashmir. The homes and hearths of Muni were ruthlessly ravaged and destroyed. His supporters met the same fate. Women-folk were lifted and sold to zealots for a price.

Tazi Bhatt, a local neo-convert, though a fluke, raised a banner of revolt against the Sayyids when they rebelled against Hassan Shah, the Muslim ruler of Kashmir. He represented the wide-spread sentiment against the Sayyids as oppressors when he crusaded for their expulsion from Kashmir and confiscation of their incalculable assets which they had amassed in Kashmir. Hassan Shah sensed the trend of events and to ward off a popular uprising he ordered the externment of a large number of Sayyids from Kashmir. There was a lot of jubilation over the development and people heaved a sight of relief as they had plucked out a painful 'thorn' from their body politic. Tazi Bhat was hailed and cheered as a national hero and his graph of popularity notched upto an unprecedented mark.

Says Srivar, "when the country was rid of these 'thorns', people were happy under the good administration and they occupied themselves in marriages and festivities in building good houses in dancing and processions and they thought of nothing else".

The extreme popularity and political strength of Tazi Bhatt was not savoured well by Malik Ahmad who was the Prime Minister. With a view to undermining Tazi Bhat's position he as a strategm opened channels of contact with the expelled Sayyids who had not gone to their native places but had taken shelter either with their kinsmen in Delhi or some tribal chiefs of mountainous borders of Kashmir. Malik Ahmad was encouraged and assisted in recalling the Sayyids by the queen, who happened to be the daughter of a Sayyid. The Sayyids returned to the Valley to regain and re-consolidate their old lost positions and enormous possessions. But the people got enraged and severely opposed the PM's act of recalling the Sayyids who had oppressed and virtually looted them. They termed the act of the PM as foolish and extremely unpatriotic. A prominent Muslim damar dilated on the evil consequences ensuing from the return of the hated Sayyids. Malik Ahmad had his own calculations and expected the Sayyids when back in Kashmir to act as his surrogates and flatterers.

But the Sayyids proved defter than Malik Ahmad. The moment they recovered their possessions and had them in full hold they pounced on people and their leaders to avenge their disgraceful externment. Tazi Bhatt was their main target and they had plans to imprison him and abduct his wife. But to the good luck of Tazi Bhat he was informed of the designs of Sayyids by his supporters and took shelter with the Prime Minister who happened to be his adopted father. The Muslim ruler sensed it as the formation of a new grand alliance against him and sent forces to arrest Tazi Bhatt. But the people revolted against this act of the ruler, who stopped in his tracks from arresting Tazi Bhatt, thus saving his crown and sceptre.

Though recalled to Kashmir by Malik Ahmad the revengeful Sayyids always took him as their sworn enemy. The Muslim ruler instigated by Sayyids imprisoned him and confiscated his whole lot of enormous wealth. The Sayyids without any visible rival in the field exercised full powers without check or restraint .

Records Srivar, "they became unruly after this triumph, they placed the king under their control and regarded the people of Kashmir hardly even as grass".

The Sayyids reduced the Muslim ruler to a mere puny puppet. They made him to dance to their tunes. He was just there on the throne, not even a figure head. The country was seething with discontent and indignation at the phenomenal rise of the foreigners, who had insatiable lust for power and had risen from rags to riches at the expense of the Kashmiris.

Writes Srivar, "He (King) lost all interest in the administration of the country and remained indifferent to the doings of his servants. His mind was influenced by his wife and the Sayyids..."

There was an open revolt against the Muslim ruler and his Sayyid advisers and henchmen. Winter was chosen as the timing for unleashment of revolt when it would be near impossible for the army to move about freely. The revolt was mercilessly suppressed by the army headed by the Sayyids. Conveys Srivar:-

"The army headed by the Sayyids scattered itself throughout the length and breadth of the Valley and inflicted untold atrocities on the people. The inhabitants were robbed of their domestic animals and rice and wine and other things...."

The Sayyids consolidated their power after the death of the ruler, Hassan Shah. To fill the vaccuum Sayyid Hassan installed seven year old son of his own daughter on the throne of Kashmir. The people were mortified by the absolute power that the Sayyids wielded. They were rejected as non-entities and treated with absolute disdain. Writes Srivar:-

"Haughty in their conduct and cruel in behaviour those arrogant men, urged by excessive cupidity, oppressed the people even like the messengers of death".

The Kashmiris reviled and treated as dust finally geared and girded up their loins to wage a final battle against the tyrannical and treacherous rule of the Sayyids. Saifu-ud-Din Dar, a local noble, led the uprising. A plot was organised to kill all Sayyid leaders who manned the levers of power. The fort at Naushahr was seized and Sayyid Hassan alongwith his relatives was murdered. Despite Sayyid retaliation the people's morale never got downed or dipped. The popular army captured the whole of Valley. The Sayyids with politics in their blood opened up negotiations but the leaders of the uprising rejected all such offers. They sought military aid from Sayyids in the Punjab and Delhi. The indigenous battle against the Sayyids met its waterloo because of many factors, the main factor being treachery.

Intoxicated by the victory the Sayyids indulged in extreme revelries and massive plunder of the local population, both Hindus and Muslims. Innocent and unarmed citizens  were murdered in cold blood. Learned men among the Hindus were put to the sword. Writes Srivar:-

"They fixed several heads on poles in order to strike terror into the people they placed them like rows of lamps on a piece of wood on the banks of the vitasta".

But ultimately the battle against the Sayyids fructified into a dazzling success when Jehangir Magrey took the lead of the popular army. The Sayyids were chased in the streets of the city. They were given the appellation of 'Saad makar'--the cunning Sayyids. Their properties were either confiscated or totally destroyed. The converts and their popular army showed them no mercy. Most of them were expelled from the land.

Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi - The Ideological mentor of Allama Iqbal

By Prof. M.L. Koul

If dispassionately pursued it can be said without any dither that the ideological content of Dr. Iqbal is orthodox and conservative. Many poets have drawn on religious themes and subjects, but their treatment of such subjects has not made them look as religious zealots.

There have been religious thinkers but unlike Dr. Iqbal they have not lost their philosophical acumen in topsy-turvying logical positions only to uphold some given stand-points and statements.

If Islam is his theme and religious assertions his beaconlights, he could have broadened his sensibilities to the limit of inclusivism which allows all shades of humans a place or a niche on the earth of God and this paradise. A poet's voice enlarges human sensibilities and refines and tempers them. He does not hurl humiliations on the defeated people. As a thinker the same poet, with philosophical touches gives a new dimension to the poetic themes thereby giving them a heightening effect. Dr Iqbal has wrapped his religious themes in the apparel of politics of crude domination of non- Muslims or expansion of Islamic territories cleansed of native cultural roots. Dr Iqbal’s philosophical sense invests his audience with a false sense of superiority and makes them intolerant and unaccommodating. He was a supporter of two-nation theory which sharply widened the chasm between Hindus and Muslims and loosened the cemented bonds between them.

Pluralism is what he detested when he played Muslim politics. The unity and integrity of a struggling nation had no meaning for him. He lacked those ingredients of a social thinker who deems a role for every individual irrespective of his religion in the processes of nation-building.

Muslim scholars (ulema) and sufis had a blue-print for converting the huge population of India in the wake of Muslim conquest of the territory and for this purpose had gelled an ideological tradition that confronted and denounced the fringe elements in the Muslim society that did not support their Jihad against the religious enemies. The plans for total conversion of the land after the manner of Egypt, Syria and Persia failed to fructify because of the stiff resistance put up by the subjugated natives.

The highly coercive regimes were blunted by the cultural depth of the country and in fact such regimes had little to offer except tyranny. In the history of medieval India there was a period when state and religion did not work in tandem and attempts were made to gell various faiths and credos into an amorphous cock-tail. For the ulemas and collaborating sufis it was a red rag to the bull. They openly castigated the rulers for making such heretical attempts as it had no sanction and support from Sharia. It was made amply clear that the religion of Islam could not be diluted with the polytheistic religion of the Hindus.

Ishwar and Allah and Ram and Rahim if put on the same wavelength was nothing but heresy. Aurangzeb as a bigoted obscurantist was elevated to the status of an icon and every Muslim ruler was required to emulate him and follow his example.

Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi posed himself as an ideologue and spearheaded a reactionary movement against any expression of liberalism which was founded on tenets of tolerance and catholicity of outlook.

As an exponent of Muslim revival for Muslim domination over non-Muslim faiths Dr Iqbal is an ideological clone of Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi who typifies the role Sayyid-Sufis have played in subjugating the natives and their culture. His ideological framework has shaped the over-all ideological mind of Dr. Iqbal for a separate Muslim state on the basis of two-nation theory as prounded by Rahmat Ali, an Oxford scholar. The collection of letters that Sirhindi had written to Muslim amirs in corridors of power worked as a propeller for Dr. Iqbal to unify Muslim ranks on the basis of religion for snatching away a chunk of land for building a theocratic state.

Theoretically Dr. Iqbal had the same position on vital issues of Islam in general and Islam in India in particular as were formulated by Ahmad Sirhindi. Like Sirhindi Dr. Iqbal puts on the tag of a Sufi but is bitterly anti-sufi for the assertions that contradict Islamic positions. Sirhindi was eloquently boastful of sufistic experiences, but Dr. Iqbal was prudent as not to make such assertions which would alienate him from the mainstream, fed on a fare of conservatism.

Following the practice of Naqashbandi sufis Sirhindi maintained a close contact with influential Muslims manning the levers of political power in India.

His letters are, vivid reflectors of his prejudices and hardline approach on issues relating to Muslim India. Political Islam is his pet theme that he harps on. He has extensively dealt with the problem of treatment to be meted out to the non-Muslim natives. That exposes him as a bigot. He was all for Sharia. Anything that does not conform to Sharia is either detestable or heretical. Islamic dualism is what he upholds.

His opposition to the unitarian spiritualists is buttressed by his personal experiences which he claims flout any unitarian, or monis experience. He is bitterly opposed to such sufis as are against the bounds set by Sharia. Spiritual experience for whatever worth it has cannot cross the bounds of Sharia. To Ahmad Sirhindi Sharia is the beall and end-all of religious experience.

Ahmad Sirhindi’s bitter onslaught against Sufism is for the fact that it has drifted away from Arab Islam and therefore is mired in monism which is antagonistic to Arab Islam. He has all reverence for the ulema for their knowledge of Islamic law and precedent. He oscillates between orthodoxy and Sufism.

His orthodox position gets established when he says that Ulema are the cream of Muslim society and monopolise wisdom. He is no Ibn-i-Arabi who thinks his own way and never deposits faith in the textual judgements of Ulema. Sufis as per him can have no claims to be superior to ulema. Sirhindi as a doctrinaire scholar denounces Wahdatulwujud as it is in conflict with tawheed. Superior to the externalist scholars are the ‘real scholars' who just follow the textual dictates without putting them to thought and reason. Dr Iqbal-inherits the same conflict from Ahmad Sirhindi who though an alim has claims to being a sufi par excellence. Dr Iqbal denounces the Persian brand of Sufis. Yet he tries to own some of them only to buttress and establish his preposterous position and verbosity.

Eminent scholars of Islam have not conceived a situation where state and religion can be separate. In reality, rapid expansion of Islam beyond Arabia was brought about by the combination of state power with religion.

Those of the Muslim rulers of India who did not put their states on the pedestal of Sharia were castigated for betrayal of religion.

Ahmad Sirhindi was a bitter critic of Jalal-ud-Din for his non-conformity to Sharia and not helping the expansion of religion.

Not having guts to name Jalal-ud-Din he in a letter to an amir in corridors of power writes about the misery Muslims had to face during his rule. They were killed for expressing their religious views, but Hindus were free to propagate their heretical views in the country of Islam i.e.

India. Sirhindi exclaims in deep sorrow, 'Alas! what calamity, what pity, what grief!" Such a statement of a Muslim alim like Ahmad Sirhindi exposes him as a distortionist.

There are no examples to establish that Akbar killed Muslims or even harassed them for expression of their religious views.

Instead there are examples to establish emperor's connivance when Muslim scholars in his court ordered the execution of Hindus on false charges. Sirhindi is critical of Akbar for not always upholding the orthodox views of orthodox ulema. He even detested his act of giving ear to the views of Hindu scholars who in their exposition were masterly.

As per him, in the land of Islam i.e. India no two religions could co-exist. Perhaps, Jalal-ud-Din, a man of tremendous commonsense, was more concerned with state affairs than any sectarian problem. Akbar's attempt to invent a new religion having the best of all religions and faiths was detested by the Ulema. He hailed the take-over by Jehangir who he believed would support the Muslim cause of converting the Hindus to Islam. He took up the job of regimenting and sermonizing the army in the times of Jehangir. His chief purpose in writing to the Muslim nobles was only to regiment them for the pursuit of Jihad for total Muslimisation of the subjugated country. He advises them: "It is incumbent on the leaders of Islam, that is ministers, umra and scholars that they engage all their energy for the enforcement of Sharia...when rulers are not active in the promotion of Sharia and their associates too keep themselves aloof in this matter, a very bad time would indeed come on poor Muslims".

That Sirhindi was a sectarian becomes clear from the treatment he wanted Hindus to be meted out. He does not mince words in telling that those who do not submit must be suppressed and coerced. In his letters to amirs he consistently goes on reminding them that they should perform their duty of humiliating and insulting ‘infidels’.

Peaceful co-existence to him is an anathema, a hateful idea. The state as the bastion of Sharia has to be aggressive and intolerant.

He writes:- "Since Islam and Kufr are opposite to each other affirmation of one is the cause of abolition of the other. There is no possibility of the co-existence of the two. The glory of one is the destruction of the other".

Anybody who honours Hindus is damaging Muslims. Jazia has to be imposed on them as it humiliates them and makes them feel low.

Dr. Iqbal as an ideological clone of Ahmad Sirhindi could not be a subscriber to the noble idea of peaceful co-existence and pluralism. Partition brought about by Muslims was the result of Sirhindi's ideological myopia and intolerance of men of other faiths.

Sirhindi is loud in pronouncing that Sufis deliberately eliminate the dualism as exposited in Islam and God. They are, essentially monists and hence anti-Islam . As a dualist he opposes and scathes the unity of man as a creature with God as the creator.

Man as created, therefore cannot transcend his limits to get united with God. He lands himself in dilemma when he claims to be a sufi even though in theory he bitterly opposes sufism and designates it as anti-sharia. The theological frame-work that he evolves is not bereft of and makes profuse use of Sufistic terminology.

His interpretation of Sufi tradition is a big anachronism which he transmitted to Dr. Iqbal as well as a precious part of legacy. When monism contradicts Revelation and Reason how come it is still an ingredient in his theological frame-work and thought process. He is equally critical of Shia school.

His claims to his sufistic experiences which disprove the unity of God and creature are untenable. Spiritual experiences are always unitive which fact as a believer in Sharia he cannot uphold. The experience of unitarian sufis like Mansur are dubbed as illusory.

Kargil Crises, Response and Reactions

By Prof. M.L. Koul

India was locked in a war of full-scale proportions in Kargil and Drass sectors where the same enemy had penetrated to realise its strategic goals for purposes of annexing and grabbing Kashmir. Despite being a failed state, Pakistan has not reconciled to the reality of Kashmir as an integral part of the political and constitutional organisation of India. To alter the existing political status of Kashmir, Pakistan waged three full-blown wars to effect demographical and political changes in the northern borders that have assumed strategic importance in the present geo-political  scenario.

The latest incursion deep into the interiors of Kargil can be seen as the apogee of the well delineated plans and strategies covertly devised and launched by Pakistan during the dictatorial days of Zia-ul-Haq. The aggression symbolised the design of investing the phased processes of indoctrination, penetration and large scale sabotage with a new hue and direction to materialise the strategic goals deemed vital to the national interests of Pakistan.

In cahoots with Jehadists of varied hues and Pan-Islamist forces Pakistan has been in hot pursuit of effecting a second partition of India with the perceptible objective of gaining a new depth by the expansion of its power and territorial base into the Himalayan belts of Jammu and Kashmir. The protracted insurgency in Kashmir launched by the indigenous Jehadi elements with massive material and moral support from global forces of Pan-Islamism is in assiduous search of a solid foot hold to consolidate its strategic gains for further expansion into the valley deemed as vital to the end of the revival caliphate from Kashmir to the shores of the Atlantic ocean. Kargil intrusion was not only on attempt to expand the area of conflict but also provide an impetus to the forces of insurgency chasing the goal of disengag-ing Kashmir from India.

The cloak of Jehad has been put upon what is purely a territorial ambition on part of Pakistan. To capture Kargil and Drass for further expansion into the east Pakistan devised a perfidious plan to aggress Kargil under the banner of Jehadists owing allegiance to the fanatic terrorist formations like Lashker-e-Toiba, Harkat-ul-Ansar, Harkat-i-Jehad Islami and Al-Badr who have augmented the flanks of Taliban as well. The Pakistan army in synch with such terrorist formations launched its operation in Kargil to materialise its blue-print of annexing Kashmir. The new breed of militants speak of a holy war to revive the caliphate, a relic of the past, which is the global polity of a global Muslim nation into which Kashmiri Muslims have to merge for the fact that they are Muslims and have to merge with Pakistan.
The Indian Home Minister has aptly described Pakistan as a rogue state as it flouts and has least commitments to bilateral agreements and even international codes of behaviour and covenants. The Kargil incursion was launched to violate the Line of Control which was properly delineated and create a dispute about it with a view to re-drawing it accordant with its strategic objectives. The violation of the Line of Control was equally aimed at forcing a solution of the Kashmir tangle through international intervention.

Though initially flabbergasted by the blatant incursion into the Indian territory of strategic importance, the Indian government rose to the occasion and launched the ‘Operation Vijay’ to defeat and eject out the enemy from its territory. Despite the terrain being difficult and inhospitable, the Indian army structured a baffling military response and compelled the enemy to withdraw its aggression from the territories occupied clandestinely and in violation of bilateral pacts and agreements. The counter-offensive was so vehement and vigorous that the Pakistani defences shook to the roots and crumbled into a heap of ruins. The Indian armed forces exhibited a unique determination and well coordinated planning to register a victory in real operational military terms. Pakistan was not allowed to score a victory in terms of military operations and that is what forced it to withdraw from the occupied territories in all ignominy.
The opposition in Pakistan and reitred army generals have scathed the Nawaz Sharief government for the failures in Kargil opertaions. Air Marshal Nur Khan characterised the Kargil intrusion as a military disaster which had finally proved that Kashmir tangle had no military solution. He called the operations as covert which could not be lent support by the international community. He held the Prime Minister and the Army Chief respon-sible for the fiasco and debacle. The former Vice Chief of Army Staff called the Kargil operations as a complete fiasco and a failure as it was lacking in the basics of strategic planning and failed to anticipate the reaction of the enemy. The former ISI chief was equally critical of the operations as strategic priori-ties had not been set and political and diplomatic preparations had not been made. Mrs Benazir Bhutto, the leader of opposition and former Prime Minister of Pakistan, has in a recent statement called Nawaz Sharif a security risk and characterised him as the most incompetent Prime Minister in the history of Pakistan. After Kargil intrusions the opposition is in absolute unanimity to dislodge the government in saddle. The fundamentalist groups are equally dead set against the Prime Minister for entering into commitments with Bill Clinton.
How the counter-offensive was organised and launched by the Indian government has turned into a hot subject of debate in the country. It has become a staple of the media and is sure to impact the elections as well. The critices of the government charge it with intelligence failure and slackening of the vigil on the borders. The criticism in not fake nor is it lacking in pitch. The Pakistani intruders must have made thorough prepara-tions to position themselves on the heights and must have been equipped with heavy weapons to defend themselves and their shelt-ers. Regular supplies must have come to them through supply routes. It sounds as sheer negligence on the part of intelligence agencies as not to have kept and maintained a consistent watch on the enemy movements. As per a report in the media about a brigad-ier and a major general, posted in the area being relieved of their charge has made the picture murkier. A mason from Kargil itself is said to have constructed new bunkers for the intruders on the ridges and the materials used in the constructions are said to have been carried to the top heights by men from Kargil itself. What gets established is that there have been enemies within who have been in active liaison with the main enemy. The Indian governments of varied hues have always failed in their intel-ligence to comprehend the nexus between the internal subversives and the external enemy. The same failure was witnessed in 1989 variety of insurgency when the state power was visibly seen colluding with the terrorists churned out from the Quranic schools and madrasas.

Pakistan was upset, way shell-shocked, when it failed to muster diplomatic support for its Kargil misadventure. China, an old ally of Pakistan, back-tracked from supporting the Pakistan position of violating the borders through an armed intrusion. The G-8 countries, despite some ambiguities, made a declaration to the effect of withdrawal of Pak forces from the Indian territory. Germany came out in unequivocal support of India as it had re-ports about the involvement of Afghan and Taliban mercenaries in the Kargil conflict alongwith Pakistan army regulars. Washington could not see any cogency in the escalation of tension along the borders and forced Pakistan Prime Minister to the commitments of the withdrawal of his forces from the occupied territories. It appears that there is a paradigmic shift in the American position because of the tacit support of Pakistan to Osama Bin Laden supporting international terrorism. The Dullesian era of cold war is already over and Pakistan seems to have outlived its utility. The American position could be dictated by the economic interests the Americans have in the country that has taken to the liberalised economy in a big way.

The fact that India has earned global support on its Kargil position cannot be brushed off so easily. It could be the result of the hectic diplomatic efforts on the part of our foreign minister who has been busy in parleys with a number of countries holding sway over the international affairs. But, there is a danger that the global support might turn interventionists to the disadvantage of the Indian interests of national security and territorial integrity. As Kargil conflict is the direct off shoot of Kashmir insurgency, the policy planners and intellectuals committed to the cause of territorial integrity of the country must prevent any and all moves that loosen the political and constitutional ties of Kashmir with India. The concept of greater autonomy based on population complexion of the regions in the state is as inimical to the national interests as the Krepon report suggestive of a plebiscite in the Valley and softening of borders between Kashmir and Pakistan held part of it.

The Indian government was shocked when it was handed over the mutilated bodies of six Indian soldiers who were captured by Pak soldiers in Kargil tortured and done to death. The Indian politicals decried it as flagrant violation of the Haguq convention which delineates the treatment to be meted out to the prisoners of war. The same politicals across the broad political spectrum of the country did not utter a word when Muslim terrorists inflicted unheard of savageries and atrocities on the hapless Kashmiri Pandits, who have been victims of genocide. Girija Tickoo, a lab assistant, was chopped into two halves by a mechanical saw after she was gang raped. Sarvanand Kaul Premi, a noted poet and literateur, was skinned off, nails were driven into his forehead where he put a tilak-mark, hair on his body was pulled out and his eyes were gouged out. Sarla Bhat, a staff nurse working in the Institute of Medical Sciences, Soura, was gang-raped, her breasts were chopped off, her private parts were mutiliated, was put to bullets and thrown off on the roadside to the care of volunteers. A thick cloak of concealment was placed on the savageries inflicted on the Kashmiri Pandits. Had it been thoroughly broadcast to the world, the Pak soldiers would not dared flout the humanitarian norms of civilised people.

The Hindus of J&K State have been the main targets of the moves and maneuvers of the forces of militarised Islam. They have been destroyed and divested and are in ruins. Three lakh Kashmiri Pandits have been externed from their homes and hearths and are in exile and Diaspora. The Hindus of Doda, Poonch and Rajouri have been put to orgies of large-scale massacres. The Hindus living along the borders in Jammu are devastated and have been left high and dry, uncared for and beleaguered. They perceive government of India as a soft state reluctant to measure their reality vital to the over-all interests of the country.



The Amarnath Pilgrimage: History and Facts

By Prof. M.L. Koul

M.A. (Engilsh), M.A. (Sanskrit), M.A. (Hindi), B.Ed.

Historically, the worship of Shiva lingam has been a very popular religious practicein Kashmir. The same stands corroborated by Kalhan Pandit who in his monumental work, Rajtarangini, makes a mention of 'vateshwar', an ancient Shiva-lingam worshipped even in his lifetime. A king of Kashmir, Ravana, (1000 B.C) worshipped it as it was believed to predict future occurrences and events through the light emanating from the Sri-cakra engraved on it.1 The king was so devout in his worship of the Shiva-lingam that he consecrated the entire valley of Kashmir to the Matha where-in he worshipped the Shiva-lingam.2 The Mahadev Peak, Dyaneshwar lingam and Sureshwar lingam, known as svayambhu lingams, have been objects of worship for the Hindus of Kashmir. Infact, the interiors of Himalayas possess numerous such lingams and Hindus reverently call them Shiva-dhams. Pilgrimages to the Shiva-dhams have been a regular feature without interruptions.  

The ancient cave of Amarnath known for its icy-lingam that is naturally formed has been a venerable spot of pilgrimage for thousands of years. The icy-lingam waxes and wanes with the waxing and waning of the Moon. It attains its full length form on the night of shravan Purnima. As per the written records the icy-lingam has been nomenclatured as 'amresh', 'amreshwar', 'rasa-lingam', 'siddhi-lingam,' 'buddhi lingam,' 'shuddhi lingam,' 'puratan buddhi lingam' and 'pumsavan lingam.3 The nomenclature of 'amarnath' as is in vogue has been drawn from and owes its genesis to the 'Amarnath Mahatamya', an authentic work on the Amarnath as a holy place of worship.  

As per the 'Amarnath Mahatamya' Shiva in the form of icy-lingam bestowed immortality on gods, devatas and thus he is known as 'amresh' or 'amreshwar'. He delivers his devotees from the pains and pangs of old age and disease soon after they have his 'darshan' and 'Satksatkar' in the formation of icy-lingam. As per the Tantric erudites, He is Amarnath because He commences His ascent from 'ama-kla' to 'purna-kala' and a mere drop from it liberates a pilgrim, a devotee, from age and death and grants him the state of oneness with Supreme consciousness, the same as Shiva. A pilgrim, who in his extreme joyfulness and ecstasy, dances inside the cave, is considered a veritable rudra.


The references to the holy cave of Amarnath are available in Bringesh Samhita, Nilmat Puran, Amarnath Mahatmaya and Rajtaranginis of Kalhan Pandit, Rajanak Jonraj and Shuk Pandit and other travelogues by foreign travellers.

Bringesh Samhita is a compendium of the Mahatamayas of all the prominent and well known tirthas (holy places) of Kashmir compiled by Bringesh, a scholar of eminence. in Kashmir, we have a galaxy of three persons bearing the same name of Brigesh. One was a gana, an attendant of Shiva, the other was a sage and the third a scholar of eminence. Bringesh, the gana, being an unworldly recluse could not have any cultivated interest in writing and compiling the Mahatamayas. The research scholars hold that initial task of compiling Mahatmayas was taken up by Bringesh who was a known sage and the date for it is supposed to be 5th century A.D. The third Brignesh given to scholarship and scholarly pursuits is supposed to have aptly culminated the work as begun by the second Bringeseh in 12th century A.D.4. The entire work is unfortunately lost and the manuscript available in the Ranbir Library, Jammu, is a truncated version and hence falls short of providing multi-dimensional and authentic information about the culture and mores of ancient Kashmir including the topography of the region.


The Bringesh Samhitarelates that Mahakala threatened the gods (devas) with death and destruction and they in all trepidation called on Lord Shiva and humbly entreated Him to protect them from Mahakala's menacing threat of decimation. Shiva in all mercifulness freed them from Mahakala's threat by showering upon them the boon of immortality. Again to seek Shiva's support and protection gods (devas) could not see Him as He was deeply immersed in His devotional and meditative practices. In absolute distress the gods (devas) lifted their hands to supplicate Him to appear before them. Shiva, the merciful, appeared in the formation of an icy-lingam and this is the genesis of the Holy Lingam and subsequent pilgrimage to the holy cave of 'amresh' or 'Amarnath'.

Bringesh Samhita also relates that Kashmir was a vast expanse of water and the sage Kashyap drained the lake for the land to appear. Bringesh, the sage, was scouring the swathes of the valley and discovered the cave wherein an icy-lingam in full length form was standing. Lord Shiva gave him a sceptre for protection of pilgrims which has now taken the form of Chhari Maharaj, the holy mace leading the annual pilgrimage.

As per Amarnath Mahatamya, Parvati, the consort of Shiva, was ultra keen to know in full details the mysteries of life and immortality. Entreating the lord to reveal the mysteries to her, Shiva traversing the tops and ridges of the Himalayas took rest in a cave and disclosed to her all the secrets about life and immortality. Finally Lord transmuted Himself into an icy-lingam.


Vital to the history of Kashmir Nilmatpuran as a fascinating store-house of socio-cultural materials is the earliest work of 6th century A.D. which carries a reference to the Holy cave of 'Amreshwar.6 It authentically establishes that the cave known for its icy-lingam was well within the active consciousness of general populace in Kashmir . The people of Kashmir in particular and the vast masses of people in Indiain general believe Shiva as the god of mountains laden with layers of white snow. Shiva's consort, Parvati, is the daughter of the Himalayas who got wedded to Shiva who has His abode in the snow-capped mountains. Pilgrimages to the mountains as a home to gods have been an ancient practice of the Hindus. The Hindus of Kashmir as part and parcel of the Indian cultural mosaic shared the same cultural spirit and ethos and made pilgrimages to the mountain peaks and mountainous caves in search of spiritual upliftment and spiritual bliss of peace and ananda.


Amarnath Mahatamya gives a full and elaborate account of the pilgrimage to the Holy Cave of Amarnath. It details out all the holy spots enroute to the Holy cave. It does not only mention the religious merit that a pilgrim earns by bathing and cleansing praxes at various holy spots, but also gives an authentic and credible account of their topography and geographical position. Amarnath Mahatamya has its essential base in the Adi-Purana establishing its original position as a Purana. It was regardedas a standard Mahatamya giving lucid details and exact descriptions in concordance with well recognised literarypractices. The Amarnath Mahatamya certainly has a religious and legendary complexion, yet it is a mine of information on the cultural ethos of Kashmir in those hoary days of yore and also the socially-oriented behavioural indices of aboriginal Hindus of Kashmir.


Kalhan Pandit, the Herodotus of Kashmir history, has made definitive and categorical references to the Holy cave of Amarnath. In Tarang I of his work, Rajtarangini, he makes a mention of a legend of Naga Sushravas, who had given his daughter in wed-lockto a Brahmin youth for the help he had rendered him in harvesting the crops. But king Nara, the ruler of Chakradhar (Chakdar) near vijyeshwar (vegibror), tried to abduct the young Brahman's youthful Naga wife. This aroused the wrath of Naga Sushruvas, who in all blood and fury, arsoned and destroyed Nara's entire kingdom and put him to death. It was done in all bitter revenge and Naga Sushruvas, perhaps fearing fearful reprisals, carried his son-in-law and his spouse to his own abode, Sushram Naga, now known as Shesh Naga. Kalhan writes, "This place is now located enroute pilgrimage to 'Amreshwar'.

Kalhan Pandit describes the Shesh Naga lake as 'the lake of dazzling whiteness resembling a sea of milk' This authentic account available in Rajtarangini unambiguously buttresses the assertion that the pilgrimage to the Holy Cave of Amreshwar must have been much in vogue in Kalhan Pandit's time.

The above-mentioned reference to 'Amreshwar' is not the solitary one that Kalhan Pandit has provided the succeeding generations about Amarnath. He as a historian possessed of an observant eye conveys more credible materials about the cave shrine.

In Tarang II of Rajtarangini Kalhan Pandit conveys that "King Sandimat Aryaraj (34 BC) used to spend the most delightful summer in worshipping linga formed by snow in the regions above the forests."7

It is a clear cut reference to the icy-lingam at Amarnath cave.

In another reference to Amarnath Kalhan Pandit in his Rajtarangini, Tarang VII conveys that Queen suryamati, the spouse of king Ananta "submitted trishuls, banalingas and other sacred emblems in the name of her husband at Amershwar".8


In his second Rajtarangini, Jonraj, a fearless historian of Kashmir, writes, 'Sultan Zain-ul-abidin (1420-1470) paid a visit to the sacred tirth of Amarnath while constructing a canal on the left bank of the river Lidder (lambodari)'. 9


In his fourth Rajtarangini, also known as Rajavalipataka, Shuka, the disciple of Prajya Bhatt, whose Rajtarangini is lost, gives full length detail of the pilgrimage to the Holy cave of Amarnath. Shuka informs that Akbar who as per history had annexed Kashmir at the pleadings and proddings of two political advisors of Makhdoom Sahib, a Naqshbandi sufi of indigenous origins, anti-shia to his bone-marrow, had made some queries from his governor Yusuf Khan about some political-cum-administrative affairs regarding Kashmir. In his reply to the query made by the emperor he mentions among other things the Amarnath pilgrimage in broad and incisive details. It establishes that the Amarnath pilgrimage was surely in vogue even in the times of Akbar who annexed Kashmir in 1586 A.D.


As reinforced by historical evidences Shah Jehan vandalised temples and other places of worship of Hindus in Kashmir and a shocked foreign traveller, Francios Bernier, writes, 'The doors and pillars were found in some of the idol temples demolished by Shah Jehan and it is impossible to estimate their value.'11 

But the Amarnath pilgrimage continued un-interrupted despite the emperor's vile iconoclastic activities. In his well-known eulogy of Asif Khan, Shah Jehan's father-in-law, a reputed aesthete, Panditraj Jagannath, makes a categoric mention of Amareshwar while giving a poetic description of Nishat garden as laid out by Asif Khan. In his flight of imagination jagannath writes in the ‘Asif vilas’ that ' Indira, king of the galaxy of gods, comes here to pay obeisance to Lord Shiva.'12


Francois Bernier, the French physician, accompanied Aurangzeb, the Bigot, when he was on a visit to Kashmir in 1663 A.D. Driven by curiosity and wander-lust he visited Trisandya, Verinag, Achabal, Wular-lake and Sangsafed facing Harmukh and therefrom he pursued 'Journey to a grotto full of wonderful congellations'. 13 It had taken him two days to reach the grotto, which surely is no place other than that of the Holy cave of Amarnath.

In the second reprint of Bernier's Travelogue titled 'Travelsin Mughal Empire,' a noted historian, Vincent A. Smith, writes in his introduction, ' the grotto full of wonderful congellations is the Amarnath cave, where blocks of ice, stalagmites formed by dripping water from the roof, are worshipped by many Hindus, who resort here, as images of Shiva, glaciers surround the......................'14


At the behest of Auranzeb his governor in Kashmir , Iftikhar Khan, cruel and theo-fascist, subjected the Kashmiri Pandits to the worst ever persecution and torture for their conversion to Islam. Kashmiri Pandits, five hundred in number, under the astute leadership of Kirpa Ram Dutt, a known Shaivite Scholar, met at the Holy cave of Amarnath to devise a workable strategy to meet the challenge. One of the Pandits at the Holy cave saw Lord Shiva in a dream directing him to call on Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-75A.D) at the village of Anandpur Sahib in the Punjab. It was from the Holy cave of Amaranththat Kirpa Ram Dutta in obedience to the direction of Lord Shiva led the delegation of five hundred Pundits to Guru Tegh Bahadur and rest is history.15


Vigne, another foreign traveller, paid a visit to Ladakh and Tibet during the times of Maharaja Sher Singh of the Punjab . He made an attempt to visit the Holy cave of Amarnath via the traditional route, but was forced to return from vayuvarjan (vavjan) because of inclement weather. Out of sheer curiosity he met various shades of people, mostly the natives and thus gleaned a lot of relevant material about the pilgrimage to the cave and put it to writing in 1842 A.D. In his reputed travelogue titled as 'Travels in Kashmir, Ladakh and Iskardu', vigne conveys, 'The ceremony at the cave of Amarnath takes place on the 15th of the Hindu month of Sawan, 28th July............... not only Hindus of Kashmir but those from Hindustan of every rank and caste can be seen, collecting together and travelling up the valley of Liddar (Lambodari) towards the celebrated cave, which from his description must have been the place which Bernier tried to visit but was prevented.'16

What we get from Vigne’s travel account is that pilgrimage to the Holy caveof Amarnath was not only a local affair, but would draw a crowd of pilgrims from far and near in the country.


It is a known fact that Guru Arjan Dev Ji Maharaj granted land inAmritsar for the ceremonial departure of Chharhi, the holy mace of lord Shiva, marking the commencement of the pilgrimage to the Holy cave of Amarnath. This gracious act of the Guru Maharaj lends unimpeachable credibility to the fact that pilgrimage to the holy cave was not confined to the natives of Kashmir, but would draw enthusiastic pilgrims from across the country. To earn religious merit many devout Hindus would donate lands and moneys to the religious groups and institutions to provide facilities to the pilgrims bound for the Holy cave of Lord Shiva.


In his booklet 'The Mysterious cave of Amarnath', Pandit Sansar Chand Koul, the first ever geographer of Kashmir, author and scholar, informs that 'in 1819 A.D. Pandit Hardas Tiku founded the Chhawni Amarnath at Ram Bagh in Srinagar where saddhus (renunciates) from theplains assembled and where he gave free rations for the journey, both ways from his own private resources".17 The year 1817A.D. as mentioned by Pandit Sansar Chand Koul marks the end of the brutal and tyrannical rule of the Afghans who persecuted Kashmiri Pandits to incredible limits, out-smarting the pains and wounds inflicted on them by the sayyid-sufis from Central-Asian countries.


In his celebrated work 'Valley of Kashmir' Walter Lawrence, the Settlement Commisioner of Kashmir, has not missed to make a mention of the pilgrimage to the Holy cave of Amarnath.

He writes, ‘Puranmashi the full moon of the month of Sawan is the day when pilgrims must reach the distant cave of Amarnath and worship the snow-lingam which gradually melts away after the puranmashi. Strict Hindus both male and female discard their clothes and put on shirts of birch-bark before they enter this cave.................................’ 18.


The traditional route to the Holy cave of Amarnath has been via Lidder Valleydespite the fact that the cave is situated in the geographical environs of theSind Valley. The prominent holy spots enroute the traditional path have been elaborately mentioned in the Amarnath Mahatamya. The holy spots other than Anantnag as elaborated in the Mahatamya are :-

Balihar (Baliyar), Vaghashram (Vagahom), Hastikaran (Hasikhan), Chakresh (Chakdhar), Devak (Divakiyar), Harish Chander (Chandanyar), Surya-guha-vat (Sirigofwar), Sakhras (Sakhras), Badoras (Badur), Hyashashishram (Kamalnag), Uttarnag (Wotarnag), Sarlak (Salar), Khilyayan (Balkhyalan), Narayan-Maha-Khetra (Kolar), Mamlak (Mamleeshwar), Bragupati (Pahalgam), Sthanu-ashram (Chandanwor), Giripesh (Pishbal), Sushrumnag (Shishirnag), Vayuvarjan (Vavjan), Pancha-tarni (Panchtarni), Garbagar (Garabyatra), and Amravati (Ombravati).19

After having ritual baths and performing other ritual practices at these holy spots the pilgrim's progress blissfully climaxes at the Holy Cave where the icy-lingam, the transmuted form of Lord Shiva, is standing either in suyambhu form or in full-length form only to bless the pilgrims and grant them deliverance from sickness of the world caused by meshy layers of duality.


The Baltal route to the Holy cave of Amarnath is the Sind valley route which has not been popular with the pilgrims, either natives or from various parts of India. The route lies in inhospitable terrain, arduous and difficult, risky and menacing. Thanks to the Border Roads Organisation a negotiable path has been carved out and constructed and in view of the facility a multitude of pilgrims is seen ambling on the path for ‘darshan’ of the Holy icy-lingam. The path remains open for all months of the summer. Distance wise, the Baltal route is shorter than the traditional Pahalgam route.


The Zojilla route to the Holy Cave of Amarnath has been a known route and comparatively the shortest route to the sacred shrine of Shiva. It is just a track that can be trekked on foot and descends near the cave from the Amarnath peak.


Kishtwar -Seru route has equally been a known route to the Hindus of Kishtwar and other belts of the mountainous region. Kashmiri Pandits, who doggedly refused conversion to Islam during the tyrannical days of Sultan Sikander (1387-1407AD) fled to Kishtwar for shelter and safety, trek the same route to pay obeisance to Shiva in the HolyCave. For them, it is a popular route, though it was already popular with the indigenous population of the region.


The geographical studies of the region reveal that Sacki-Pantsal route is also a route leading to the HolyCave. But it has not been much in vogue because of its difficult terrain and weather disasters.


A pair of pigeons, present and flying in the cave, drench its chill-cold and weird environs in mystery and mystique. The pilgrims consider it extremely auspicious and feel blessed, thrilled and transported to mystical realms when they catch a mere glimpse of them. The pair of pigeons in the Holy Cavehas been reverentially depicted in the Amarnath Mahatamya as the two messengers of Lord Shiva disseminating His revealed verities and truths to the world of humans for their spiritual upliftment and emancipation.

As per the legend Lord Shiva revealed to His ever-eager consort, Parvati, the mysteries of creation, life and immortality in the Holy Cave of Amarnath. The pair of pigeons, quietly perched in some niche of the cave, overheard the secrets in full details as were revealed to Parvati by Lord Shiva. Having learnt of their presence in the cave, Lord Shiva granted them the boon of immortality and hence their eternal abode in the Lord's cave.

Foreign travellers having found their way into the purlieux of Kashmir have not missed to make a mention of the pair of pigeons in the cave-temple.

Anchored in speculation, waxing eloquent on the topic of pigeons, vigne, a foreign traveller, writes, ‘The dove (pigeon) has always been an emblem of peace, the sublime and preter-natural have always been concomitants of wildness; solitude accompanied by an extra-ordinary degree of remoteness has often been a cause of sanctification. And the wild and gloomy the locality, the better has it been thought qualified to become the peculiar residence of God.’ 20.


Swami Vivekanand, an eloquent and eminent spiritualist of India, paid a visit to the Holy cave and was mystified by the icy-lingam in the Holy cave where Lord Shiva had dwelt upon perennial subjects of creation, life and immortality that have ever been intriguing humankind from the days of its creation. As per his well known biography Swami Vivekanand is reported to have conjectured about how the HolyCavecould have been discovered. The author writes ;-

‘I can well imagine how this cave was first discovered. A party of shepherds, one summer day, must have lost their flocks and wandered here in search of them. What must have been their feeling as they found themselves unexpectedly before this unmelting ice-lingam of white camphor, with the wall itself dripping offerings of water over it for centuries unseen of mortal eyes ? When they came home they whispered to other shepherds in the Valleys how they had suddenly come upon Mahadeva.’ 21

On having entered the cave Swami Vivekananda was overwhelmed with a mystical experience. He had a darshan of Shiva. He called the place religious, inspiring and extremely beautiful. He wove meticulously beautiful poetry about the icy-lingam and its impact on his total psyche.


Sultan Sikander, who had pawned his soul to a Sayyid-Sufi from Central Asia , Mir Mohammad Hamadani, was not only an iconoclast, but a misanthrope, hater of books, enemy of aesthetics and worst form of Islamist. He issued an atrocious and contemptuous government decree ordering the Kashmiri Hindus to get converted to Islam or flee the native land or get perished. As a result, thousands of Hindus were brutally massacred, thousands got converted and thousands fled the land for shelter.

The Sultan's numerous crimes against humanity are :-

1. He did not permit the Hindus to go to temples to pray and worship.22

2. He did not permit them to blow a conch or tolll a bell.23 

3. He stopped Hindus from performing their religious practices and celebrating their festivals. 24

4. He killed them if they put a tilak-mark on their foreheads.25

5. At the appearance of the new moon, the Hindus were not allowed to worship or take out processions.26 

6. He burnt six mounds (1 mound = 37 kilos) of sacred threads worn by Hindus as a mark of their religious initation only after putting them to cruel death.27 

7. He stopped Hindus from undertaking pilgrimages to all Shivadhams (Amarnath, Sureshwar, Harsheshwar, Dyaneshwar, Mahadev Peak).28 

8. He stopped Hindus from burning their dead.29 

9. He demolished and destroyed the marvellous temples of Martand, Vijyeshwar, Chakrabrat, Tripureshwar, Sureshwari, Varah and many others.30

10. He imposed the hated Jazia (poll-tax) on the Hindus, thus declaring them dhimmis.31 

11. He waged war on the Hindus when Mir Mohammad Hamadani declared them ‘Kafirs at war’.32

12. He burnt books on Hindu knowledge, science, astronomy, astrology, music, dance, poetics and medicine.33 

The worst ever hurricane fury of genocide of the Kashmiri Hindus34 unleashed by Sultan Sikander and vigorously pursued by Ali Shah and their armies 35 forced Hindus to burn, hang and drown themselves in rivers and wells and jump over steep precipices to protect their religion. The genocide of Hindus acquired a renewed speed and impetus when another wave of Sayyid Sufis led by Sayyid Jalal-ud-din Bukhari36 entered the borders of Kashmir . The Hindus and their cultural signs and symbols were ruthlessly destroyed the same manner as locusts destroy and devour the lush green paddy fields.


Zain-ul-abidin came to the throne of Kashmir in 1420 A.D. In his treatment of and attitude unto the remaining small number of Hindus, not more than proverbial eleven families, the Sultan slavishly followed the marked foot-prints of his predecessors and felt no reason to swerve away from the state policy chalked out by the foreign Sayyid-sufis in choke-hold of state apparatus. The Sultan at the behest of Sayyid-suifs in his court replaced Sanskrit as the official language of court by Persian 37. He showered lavish and unprecedented patronage on the foreign musicians from Khurasan and other Central Asian belts thereby discouraging and disparaging the indigenous trends and shades of music38. His court was under the total siege of foreign Muslim ulema and Sayyid-sufis whose inflow into Kashmir had gained tremendous volume and speed. As he was in the line of foreign usurpers Zain-ul-abidin failed to architect a state that would transcend religious hue and complexion. Encouraging foreign craftsmen to pursue their crafts in Kashmir he dealt a massive blow to indigneous crafts and craftsmen, their jobs being practically stolen by foreign Muslims from distant countries. Sharia-bound the Sultan did not order the execution of a foreign Sayyid-sufi when he murdered a saffron-clad recluse in cold blood. The reason cited was that he was a Sayyid-sufi and hence above law and immune to severe punishment. The state that Zain-ul-abidin assiduously built was an all-round affair of the Muslims from distant lands and people in general though forcible converts to Islam remained deeply mired in despondency and alienation. As social and moral cohesion and bonding had ruptured and shredded the individuals as units in the social fabric were reduced to a state of sheer lawlessness and chaos.

No historian of Kashmir has been precise in citing the date and time when the Sultan developed a fatal boil on his body. All sorts of treatment by a host of foreign physicians was administered to the ailing and wailing Sultan. In all desperation the Sultan was informed of a Hindu physician, Shirya Bhatt by name, who had somehow survived the holocaust and was living in obscurity away from the prying eyes of Muslim marauders.

The Hindu physician was called in. In all Jitters and a chill going down his spine Shriya Bhatt examined the awe-inspiring patient, Zain-ul-abidin, the son of Sikander, the iconoclast and commenced his indigenous treatment. Some days elapsed and lo! the high profile patient showed encouraging signs of turning the corner. He recovered and came to live a normal life. Happy and elated the Sultan sent for the Hindu physician, a native under duress in a gulag and in all generosity asked him to name the beneficence or bountiful reward he would like to have from the Sultan.

What the Hindu physician, Shirya Bhatt, in all humility and supplication asked for as the beneficence or bountiful rewardfrom the Sultan worked as Q-factor in the history of Kashmiri Pandits. A pious and noble soul, altruistic in his world view and harassed to his bone-marrow, Shirya Bhatt shell shocked the Sultan when he asked for naught for himself, but prayed for the return and rehabilitation of multitudes of his compatriots who had fled their native land to avert the Muslim persecution, allowing them to pursue their indigenous form of education and have jobs in government. The Sultan, more or less, chastened by the fatal boil and under a debt of gratitude to the Hindu physician ungrudgingly conceded all what the Hindu physician had supplicated for.

The Sultan to the absolute disapprobation and annoyance of Muslim Ulema and Sayyid-sufis despatched messengers to various parts of the country to spot out exiled Hindus and earnestly urged them to return to their native place. He reduced the quantity of Silver (4 tolas in weight) to be paid as Jazia(poll-tax) by half, but was not gracious enough to withdraw the hateful imposition in full thereby granting them total exemption from the punitive tax.

As the Hindus could not cremate their dead under a despotic decree from the Muslim Sultan called Sikander, they were left with no option but to cremate their dead inside their dwellings and kept the ashes in an urn placed in a space created by removing mud and stone from the main doors of their dwellings. Srivar, a historian of Kashmir, writes that when the Sultan Zain-ul-abidin permitted the severely persecuted Hindus to immerse the ashes of their dead in the Gangabal Lake, ten thousand of them miserably perished in a horrific snow-storm that cruelly hit the upland regions the time they were on a return journey after performing rites and rituals connected with the immersion of ashes40.

Srivar also informs that he as a faithful courtier had to pay tax-money, a monstrosity, for the cremation of his father. When he cheekily brought it to the personal notice of his Sultan in the court, he condescended to reduce the tax money, but was again not magnanimous enough to remit the levey in toto that was punitively imposed on the Hindus by Sultan Sikander41.

The Muslim Sultan, Zain-ul-abidin, as a result of fundamental shift in his attitude permitted the exterminated Hindus to celebrate their religious fairs and festivals, circumambulate around the Sharika Parbat and chant hymns and mantras in high decibel and undertake pilgrimages to their holy spots and Shivadhams42.

It becomes stark clear that pilgrimage to the Holy Cave of Amarnath was cruelly stopped by the Muslim ruler Sultan Sikander, from the day he launched a Muslim crusade against the natives and could not be resumed till Zain-ul-abidin suffered a change of heart after the fatal boil that was treated and cured by Shirya Bhatt, who was later included in his court and put in charge of health facilities for the people.

As per the historical archives, Ibrahim Shah II (1552-54 A.D.) granted religious freedom to all. The Hindus were granted freedom of worship only on payment of Jazia (poll-tax). The Hindus made a request for the remittance of the oppressive tax. The Sultan in all hostility replied, ‘How can I who is a Muslim cease to levy tax from the Hindus?’43 

The chak fanatics (1554-85 A.D) who were Shias by faith re-imposed Jazia in full on the Hindus of Kashmir. Any Hindu wearing a sacred thread had to pay an annual tax to the chak rulers. Shuka Pandit, a contemporary historian, makes a comment, ‘The Hindus were overpowered by religious intolerance the same way as the sun is overpowered by the grey sable clouds.’44

By implication what is conveyed by Shuka Pandit is that Hindus performing any religious act including a pilgrimage to the Holy cave of Amarnath had to pay a tax to the Muslim rulers.

The Afghans as per all available versions of Kashmir history were barbarous, crude, cruel, ignorant and inhuman. They chopped off every twig from the tree of mercy. The atrocities inflicted on the Hindus of Kashmir by Afghans were unheard of and beat all previous records. They plundered their houses, looted all what they had by way of material possessions, and anybody complaining or resisting was straight-away put to axe or sword. Persecuting and massacring Hindus was designed to exterminate their entire race or achieve their conversion to Islam. The Hindus fled their land of ancestors to the tropical plains of Indiato save themselves from the barbarous Afghans. When Hindus were existentially in peril, how could they have thought of living a pious life of religiosity and performing pilgrimages to the holy spots (tiraths) that they revered and worshipped for spiritual attainments ? The brutal Afghans stopped them from undertaking pilgrimages to well-known Shiva-dhams or even celebrating their auspicious fairs and festivals. They condemned them as manifestations of infidelity and heresy violative of Sunna and Sharia 45.

The people of Kashmir in general heaved a great sigh of relief when the Sikh army from the Punjab expelled the brutal Afghans from the territory of Kashmir. The soothing relief to the Kashmiri Hindus was that all vexatious and oppressive taxes levied on them were mercifully withdrawn in toto and pilgrimage to the Holy cave of Amarnath was resumed. It was during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh that the Holy Mace symbolic of Shiva's Mace was stored at Amritsar and pilgrimage to the Holycave of Amarnath would kick-start right from Amritsar .

With the Dogra take over of Kashmir in 1846 A.D. the pilgrimage to the Holy cave assumed a new scale and dimension. The number of pilgrims increased manifold and proper arrangements for safe conduct of yatra were meticulously made. The Dogras managed the shifting of the Holy Mace fromAmritsar to Srinagar where it was stored at Dashnami Akhara where from it is traditionally taken to the Holy cave in a massive procession of devotees, pilgrims, sadhus, sanyasis and general mass of Hindus.


Before discussing the role and status of Maliks of Batakoot it becomes quite imperative to place the Maliks as a generic term in proper historical perspective. It can be gleaned from the pages of Hindu history of Kashmir that the Hindu rulers were extremely vigilant in guarding the frontiers of their kingdom. There were routes and passes that were vulnerable and militarily sensitive and could be used for incursions, surprise raids or full-scale aggressions by the invading hordes. To guard their territories the rulers had set up military-cum watch stations put under the charge of officials designated as dwarpals or dwarpatis. They were also tagged as ‘margeshes’ meaning those who mastered the routes or pathways. These military-cum-watch stations were so fortifiedin terms of men and materials that the marauding armies of Mahmud Ghaznavi failed twice to invadeKashmir and conquer it.

Records Alberuni -

‘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.......’ 46

It broadly explains how Kashmir resisted going the Islamic way for full six hundred years after the advent of Islam in India.

In the wake of the launch of Muslim crusade against the natives of Kashmir by Sultan Sikander and his Sayyid-sufi mentor from Central Asia, Mir Mohammad Hamadani, the dwarpals, dwarpatis and margeshes like all other hapless segments of Kashmiri Society were coerced, tortured and brutalised to change their indigenous faith. After they got converted merely as statistical Muslims they were renamed as maliks and were allowed to retain their profession or else they were to be de-mobilised. When army was used for whole-sale conversions by Muslim rulers, all the exit routes were totally closed for the fleeing Hindus so that they would not escape the orgy of conversion 47. The same converted Maliks guarding the passes and other exit-points faithfully executed the atrocious writ of the tyrannical rulers.

Maliks as a vital cog in the Muslim state apparatus were tortured, hounded out and made to flee in the aftermath of chaks getting defeated by the mighty Mughal forces. Most of them perished and some survived by hiding themselves in secluded mountainous regions. The surviving ones had no option but to make a truce with the Mughals to earn reprieve. They were permitted to pursue their profession of guarding the routes and ingress-points on mountains girting the valley.

With the advent of Dogras the Maliks lost their professional moorings and utility as they established the same improvised policing methods and techniques that were largely prevalent in the Punjab , perhaps introduced by the Britishers.


It is a mere myth, a fib, a lie and a fabrication that the Holy cave of Amarnath was discovered by a Malik in1845 A.D. The litany of references and allusions to theHolyCave are so profusely splashed in the historical works and theological literature of Kashmir that in no uncertain terms establish its enormous antiquity. Most of the Muslims rulers as borne out by historical records banned the pilgrimage to the Holy cave or created insurmountable hurdles and difficulties for the pilgrims to undertake the pilgrimage. Sultan sikander banned everything that had a Hindu flavour. Ibrahim Hussain Shah imposed Jazia (poll-tax) on a Hindu to practice his religion including undertaking pilgrimages. Chaks were crude and intolerant fanatics. They used all wild and cruel methods in their armoury to exterminate Hinduism from Kashmir . Afghans were the cruelest of the cruel. Their persecution of Hindus is bone-chilling and beggars description . The pilgrimage to any and all Shiva-dhams became impossible during the barbaric period. The pilgrimage to the Holy cave of Amarnath was a continuous affair. All written records amply bear it out and fully buttress it. It got interrupted during the time-periods when indigenous religion, medicine, theology and architecture were decimated. The unrelenting natives under constant onslaught during the Sultanate chunk of history and even during post-Sultanate period resisted and rejected conversion and fled the land of their birth six times48. In the history of Kashmiri Pandits the stark resemblances to the Jewish history of the exoduses and persecution are writ large. The small numbers that survived the Muslim genocide or those who found it wise or expedient to return to their native land from the plains never severed and abandoned their linkages with the hall-marks of their religion and culture. Steely and resilient they continued to pay obeisance to the Holy cave of Icy-Lingamfor spiritual fulfillment and ascendance. This fact is amply reinforced by the calender of the native Hindus, nearly five thousand year old in which the pilgrimage to the Holy cave of Amarnath is included as a day of fasting on account of ‘Shrawan Purnima’, the culminating day of the pilgrimage to the Holy cave.


As per my personal findings the Maliks of Batakoot are those who proved stubborn beyond limits and failed to reconcile to the Mughal conquest of Kashmir and to avoid annihilation hid themselves at a distant place in the mountainous region away from the gaze of the Mughal soldiers. As they lost their ancestral occupation and had become rudderless and vagrant the Dogra rulers in view of their history harnessed their services as guides to the pilgrims enroute the Holy cave of Amarnath. Over the years they were assigned the additional jobs of maintenance of the rough track, raising of small sheds on the routes and physical safety of the pilgrims. In lieu of their services they were paid a sufficient part of the offerings that the devotees offered to the Icy-Lingam in the Holy cave.

To reinforce my stand-point I refer to W. Lawrence who lucidly mentions that pilgrims on way to Holy cave were joined by Brahmins at Mattan and further up at Batakoot Maliks used to take charge of the pilgrimage. He also adds that Maliks were supposed to keep the track in order, guide or escort the pilgrims and carry sick pilgrims and ensure that nothing was stolen and received one-third of the offerings at the Holy Shrine of Amarnath.

My probe into the affair has led me to an alternate theory that the Malik clan after their conversion to Islam would collect tax money or Jazia (poll-tax) from the native Hindus and the devout pilgrims across the country on a pilgrimage to the holy cave of Amarnath. For most of the Sultanate period barring a short-lived interlude the native Hindus, their religion and its prominent signatures littered over the entire region were under a determined onslaught and decimation. If Hindus were allowed some sort of vague religious freedom, anthema to Islam, they had to pay tax-money or Jazia(Poll-tax) for their religious observances and pilgrimages. As Maliks were stationed at all vulnerable spots, if Amarnath route was one and I believe, it was, they could have been assigned the authority of collecting the hated tax from any Hindu pilgrim, a dhimmi as per Islamic practices.


With the eruption of mass frenzy over the diversion of some chunks of forest land at Baltal to Amarnath Shrine Board, some half-baked Mulsim leaders, immature and ill-informed media men and ultra liberals have claimed that the association of Muslims with the pilgrimage is something uniquely secular. Let these worthies be told that it is the Hindus who are ultra secular for having allowed the Muslims to be a part of the pilgrimage and have a share from the offerings. Do Muslims allow the Hindus or for that matter Christians or Jews to be a part of their annual pilgrimage ? It is an established fact that the Hindus have a catholic and tolerant view of the world and are accommodative and assimulative and view God's essence in all men of all faiths. Their tolerant world-view gets established by the vedic dictum - Reality is one, interpretations vary.

If some chunks of people involve themselves in economic activities during the period of pilgrimage to the Holy cave it is absolutely an absurd position to highlight it as basis for orchestration of the secular credentials of that chunk of population. The fact of the matter is that pilgrims on way to the Holy cave duly purchase the services of a chunk of people who happen to be Muslims. It is no charity, it is no benevolence, it is a simple position of purchasing the services of a labourer, a courier, a pony wallah willing to sell his muscle or bodily strength or any other means of assistance to a pilgrim. To colour the pilgrimage as an expression of syncretic culture of Kashmir and to project it as a shining precedent of secularism are mere absurd constructions and far-fetched and irrelevant stipulations. The Kashmiri Pandits who have been hounded out of their native place sufficiently know the worth of syncretic culture of Kashmir and its facade of secular credentials. 


1. Kalhan Pandit - Rajtarangini - I, 194

2. ibid - Rajtarangini - I, 195

3. Amarnath Mahatama - St.360-61

4. Prof. N.K. Gurtu - Sri Harseshwara Mahatamya

5. Nilmat-puran - V-1324

6. Kalhan Pandit - Rajtarangini, II, V-267

7. ibid - Rajtarangini, II, V-138

8. ibid - Rajtarangini, VII, V183

9. Jonraj - Second Rajtarangini, VV 1232-33

10. Shuka - Fourth Rajtarangini, V841, vv. 847-49

11. Bernier - Journey to Kashmir , P400

12. Panditraj Jaganath - Asif Vilas

13. Bernier - Travels in Mughal Empire

14. ibid - Travels in Mughal Empire

15. Mohan Lal Koul -Kashmir , wail of a valley atrocity and terror.

16. Vigne - Travels in Kashmir, Ladakh and Iskardu

17. Pt. Samsar Chand Koul - The Mysterious Cave of Amarnath

18. Sir W-Lawrence - Valley of Kashmir

19. Amarnath Mahatamya

20. Vigne - Travels in Kashmir Ladakh and Iskardu

21. Swami Vivekanand - a biography

22. Baharistan -i-Shahi, Taikh-i-Haider Malik, Tarikh-i-Sayyid Ali, Fatuhat-i-Kubriwiya.

23. ibid

24. ibid

25. Hasan - Tarikh-i-Kashmir

26. Fatuhat-i-Kubriwiya, Taikh-i-Sayyid-Ali

27. Hasan-Taikh-i-Kashmir

28. Baharistan-i-shahi, Taufatul-Ahbab

29. Baharistan-i-Shahi, Tarikh-i-Haider Ali, Tarikh-i-Sayyid Ali,

30. Jonraj, Second Rajtarangini, R.C. Kak, Ancient-Monuments of Kashmir

31. Jonraj, Second Rajtarangini (tr.) St. 654

32. Dr. Qayoom, Rafiqui, Sufisim in Kashmir

33. Srivar, Third Rajtarangini, St-655-56

34. Mohan Lal Koul, Kashmir , Past and Present, P-15

35. Pt. Jia Lal Koul, Kilam, History of Kashmir Pandits Srivar, Third Rajtarangini

36. Dr. M.K. Teng places the date after 20 years of Zain-ul-Abidin's rule begining in 1420 A.D.

37. Srivar, Third-Rajtarangini

38. ibid

39. Jonraj, Second Rajtarangini, Baharistan-i-Shahi

40. Srivar, Third Rajtarangini

41. ibid

42. Jonraj, Second Rajtarangini, Baharistan-i-Shahi

43. Shuka Pandit, Fourth Rajtarangini

44. ibid

45. W. Lawrence, Valley of Kashmir, Pt. J.L. Kilam, History of Kashmiri Pandits.

46. Al Beruni, Al-India

47. Jonraj, Second Rajtaranginig, St. 606

48. K.L. Bhan - Seven Exoduses of Kashmiri Pandits

Periodicals, journals, papers

  1. M.M. Munshi, Tirtha of Amreshwara, Kashmir sentinal, July, 2008.

  2. R.C. Awasthee - The Holy cave of Amarnath Ji, Early Times, Aug. 8.

  3. History of the Amarnath Pilgrimage - Source Wikipedia, Kashmir Sentinel, July 2008.

The Tradition of Lalla Ded

By Prof. M.L. Koul

'Lalla-Ded wrote her poetry with fury and passion and even with intellectual arrogance. Her poetry came to her in a fit of emotions, seized her whole being and inspired her to vomit gems of Kashmiri literature. Lalla Ded vakhs are forceful enough to hit you on the face before you realise what has hit you. More, importantly, you should not read or hear them in English translation'. Bilhan Koul, Kashmir Sentinel, Nov, 2006.

Fire and fury, spirit and passion, fervour and zest are the distinguishing hall-marks of Lalla-Ded Vakhs which entrench her credentials as an outstanding poet. She was innately gifted with exemplary 'pretibha which in the realms of Sanskrit aesthetics is explained as a faculty to imagine, think and articulate thoughts, ideas, feelings, emotions and experiences having a ring of novelty and creativity (nav-nav unmesh-shaalini prajna). Her vakhs are extremely poignant and have an amazing resonance. In fact, she was a wizard of expression, word and phrase. The equivalent of poet in Sanskrit language is kavi, which Lalla-Ded was, highly knowledgeable and a self-recognised soul (atma pretyabhijna).

Lalla-Ded was a miracle. But, for this miracle to happen, diligent spadework was invested by an array of poets, poetasters, rhapsodists, folklorists and even those who wrote doggerel, much below the mark of that what is accepted as impressive poetry. Prior to the happening of Lalla-Ded miracle, a meaningful tradition had already shaped out with set and visible contours which worked as a support-base or a plank for Lalla-Ded to take-off into horizons that were determined by her personal accomplishments and instinctive potentialities. Her vakhs reveal that she was deeply immersed in the subtleties and turns of Shaiva-thought and had acted out the Shaiva-Yoga praxes for ascension to the state of identity with Shiva, the Absolute in non-dual philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism. She took to Shaiva thought because it was widely current at popular level and dominated the intellectual discourse of the times she was born in and lived through. Sanskrit was the dominant idiom through which the contemporary knowledge was mediated. That is how Lalla-Ded vakhs amply testify to her firm grasp of Sanskrit language and its varied and subtle nuances. In her position as a conscious poet she had studied almost with diligence 'Satva-Chintamani' of Bhatta Narayan and 'Shiva-stotravali' of Acarya Utpaldev. The two were mainly responsible to resolve the palpable conflict between Shaiva thought and devotion (bhakti) and thus had enlarged the domain of Shaiva thought by making Shiva a staple subject of devotion, otherwise deemed to militate against the thesis of non-dualism.

Lalla-Ded chose to pour out her poignant utterances, spiritual in content, in Kashmiri language and not in the idiom of Sanskrit. It has often been said about Lalla-Ded that she deliberately ignored Sanskrit as the language of the learned and expressed herself in Kashmiri as the popular language. But, it is pertinent to refer to Bilhan Pandit, 10th century historian and poet, who categorically conveys that Sanskrit was a popular language, even women folk spoke it in addition to local dialect, desh bhasha. Sanskrit and local dialect, as in other parts of India, have had a symbiotic relationship and Sanskrit as a highly developed language broadly reinforced the local dialect in its over-all growth and enrichment in terms of linguistic parameters. Alive to the Sanskritic tradition Lalla-Ded had a natural bonding with the literary tradition of Kashmiri. The Chumma-sampredai verses and Mahanai Prakash of Shiti Kanth do substantiate that there had been a tradition of writing in Kashmiri of the shade it had evolved into through a process of linguistic evolution. It is apt to say that the established tradition had a history of evolution which is lost to us as a consequence of Cultural Vandalism resorted to by the foreign band of Sayyid-Sufis motivated to reduce Kashmir to an Iranian Colony.

The well-founded tradition, both literary and philosophical, that Lalla-Ded inherited as a precious legacy largely moulded her whole being, trajectory of her thought perspectives and pattern of her poetic expression. Her vakhs indicate that Lalla thirstily drank at the fountain of Shaiva thought which formed a valuable part of the tradition she was a recipient to. She ardently worked out Shaiva-Yoga praxes that had wide acceptability in the rich spiritual tradition of Kashmir. The form of vakh that she chose as a vehicle to give vent to her emotion-packed experiences that she had lived through during an arduous quest of Shiva was already in vogue and usage. It is fanciful to portray her as a person who broke down in sheer angst the ramparts of tradition and bolted away in quest of vistas, un-charted and unexplored. As an exceptional person of intellectual and poetic faculties Lalla-Ded pinnacled the rooted tradition through the gems of vakhs that have a dazzle of impeccable artistic perfection. Lalla-Ded, in fine, was a perpetuator of tradition and established her brilliance as a miracle within the bounds of the same tradition.

The miracle of Lalla-Ded was highly inspiring and had deep impact in shaping the broad cultural responses on part of the succeeding generations of Kashmiris. The tradition, literary and philosophical, finessed by her has not waned in any way despite the emergence of a culture that annihilates symbols, motifs and hall-marks that have linkages with the past of Kashmir. Lalla-Ded has firmly stood the ground, both as a spiritualist and master poet. She has been famous and legendary, not so now in our times, but had attained a summit of eminence and status of a legend in the very times she lived and sonorously sang her amazing couplets with epic souls to the inhabitants of Sharda-peeth, Kashmir as an abode of knowledge and learning.

The younger contemporary of Lalla-Ded, popularly known as Nund Rishi, was the first to acknowledge the tradition of Lalla-Ded. Though pitted against the formidable foreign Sayyid-sufis in tight strangle-hold of Muslim state power, Nund Rishi basked undeterred in the luminosity and spiritual brilliance of Lalla-Ded. He in total submission prays to a Hindu god (diva) to bestow  upon him the same boon (vara) that he had bestowed upon Lalla-Ded, the inhabitant of Padmanpore (Pampore). Nund Rishi had the sure feel that Lalla-Ded had drunk an elixir (amrit) that had immortalised her and had freed herself from the rotating wheel of life and death. Without a shade of equivocation he accepts her as a divine incarnation of God on earth (avatar) which overtly speaks volumes for his own faith, religious beliefs and credos. Calling her an 'avtar is not just a tribute to her, but is a frank and full-throated expression of his acceptance of and allegiance to Lalla-Ded's entire spectrum of belief-systems, spiritual axiology, non-violence and Shaiva Yoga praxes for self-recognition (atma pretyabhijjna).

There are echoes and resonances of Lalla-Ded in the shrukhs (slokas) of Nund Rishi who in no way can equal or rival his predecessor in poetic excellences and dazzling flashes of thought. 'Yakh tulkatur ta sheen, byon byon paeda kar ashyan, yamath khotukh pur kin rava, tamath timath tryan akuy gava', a shrukh  of Nund Rishi, though in its nuances reflective of Shaiva thought, is a pale imitative version of Lalla-Ded vakh, 'turi salil khot tai ture....shiva mai chara-char zag pashya'

Nund Rishi traversing the trail of Lalla-Ded is fully aware that duality is the source of world, all its pains and sorrows. The mission of a seeker is to cut a sunder the shackles of duality that cause a deep chasm between man and God. One who attains to a position of identity with Shiva is certain to ferry across the ocean of world. Says he -

doyat travith paan yus mande

sui zon sam saras kande zava,

par ta paan yus hurry vyande

sui bava synande tarith aava.

Yoked to the powerful tradition of Lalla-Ded we can safely put that Nund Rishi as a borrower has tried to design many of his shrukhs after the thought content and manner of Lalla-Ded, whom he in all faith calls an 'avatar'. In sheer imitation of Lalla-Ded he dwells upon the theme of moderation in matters of eating as a metapor for worldly joys and pleasures and exhorts his own self to beware of ravenous or compulsive eating. He writes -

Khyama khyama karan yad no ayam

heer zuva yutuy khyata

kaali khyomut gachi zaya

hee zava payas pyata

As revealed by his genuine shrukhs Nund Rishi was a rishi in the vedic connotation of the word. Like the traditional rishis whom he has detailed with their austere ways of life, Nund Rishi also trudged his way to the dense forests in pursuit of God under a misconception that seclusion of the forests would quicken the process of recognition of his intrinsic reality as God. A stage came when it dawned on him that such a manner of asceticism was of no use and succour in matters spiritual. Echoing Lalla Ded, he says -

nasr baba janglan khasun gayam khamee

mea dop yi asi bada yabadat

sara aas karyn kuni kath

The real Nund Rishi lies buried in such shrukhs (slokas) as are couched in archaic Kashmiri, but have been left un-evaluated for fear that a new Nund Rishi might resurrect who would shatter his smoke-screened image that has been deliberately constructed by those very people who refused to hand over his shrukhs in sharda script recorded by Kati Pandit, a scholar of Sanskrit, to Dr. Grierson who was ultra keen to sift and sieve his shrukhs for an authentic edition of them in the manner he had done in case of Lalla-Ded. Prof. P.N. Push in an article published in a book titled 'Nund Rishi' had drawn attention of scholars to the dire need of presenting Nund Rishi in the relevant context of Lalla-Ded tradition. The repertoire of shrukhs that has come my way establish Nund Rishi profusely using the same yoga-related terminology that we find in the vakhs of Lalla-Ded. Muladhar, Kundalini, lama-cakra, sahasrar, shashikal are the fare of such shrukhs. Commentators keen to keep his image stuck to a particular religious creed have skirted away the issue of literary and spiritual evaluation of such shrukhs and have labelled them as ‘samskriti’ or ‘shastra’, which Prof. J.L. Koul, a brilliant and unrivalled scholar of Kashmiri language and literature, has denounced as absurd.

Rupa Bhavani, famously known as Alkeshvari, stands out as a devout poet much in the tradition of Lalla-Ded. She in all faith followed the trail that was foot-printed by Lalla-Ded in the realms of spirituality, yoga, philosophy and poetic expressions. Jonraj and Srivar who have graphically recorded the holocaust of Kashmiri Hindus during the Sultanate period have not recorded the historicity of Lalla-Ded as a civilisational sentinel of Kashmir. The credit goes to Rupa Bhavani, who unequivocally acknowledges Lalla-Ded as her supreme preceptor, sat-guru. Says she -

shuddham atyant vidhyadharam

lal naam lal param gvaram

Rupa Bhavani as a devotee of Shiva, whom she calls Parmatma, was given to dyan, dharna, and tapsya and had selected many places for the purpose. All the places where she meditated and acted out many yoga-related methodologies are calm, silent and serene, situated in soothing physical environs, thus conducive to spiritual ascension. Chashma Sahibi (Jyestha Rudra), Lar, Manigam and Vaskura are known places of her meditation. These places held in great esteem by spiritualists of all hues and devotees of Rupa Bhavani have been centres of pilgrimage for commoners seeking spiritual guidance and solace. But, sadly, the Muslim terrorists and their supporters have desecrated or destroyed some of these centres of Shaiva spiritualism.

Rupa Bhavani who lived in Mughal times was known as a great spiritualist and her stock in public esteem was very high. A Muslim of the name of Shah Qalandar, said to be a saint, drew her attention by asking her name. She said, ‘Rouf’. Shah Qalandar, a Muslim given to the religious ideology of conversions, pointedly said, ‘If you cross over, you will turn into gold’. She shot back, ‘If you cross over, you will turn into ‘mokhta’, a pearl’. The double entendre conveys that he would attain mukhti, self-realisation. The dialogue brings out the basic difference between Hindus and Muslims, one is a non-proselytising creed and the other is a proselytising faith. The Hindu saint sought his cross-over for realisation of his essence and the Muslim saint for her conversion to Islam.

Rupa Bhavani was a shaivite in her world-view and as such as a practitioner sought for union with Shiva through the same methodologies that her sat-guru had blazed for her. Shiva, to her, is sahaj, Omni-present, all-pervading and self-born. With her gaze turned inwards she is keen to have His blissful union as ‘param gati’, which is mukhti, self-recognition in Shaiva lexicon.

Says she -

sahaj sarvatra vyapi svoreth vicharyam

bahubal svabhava eekant svyambhu parmakari

antar mukhi dresthi nervan rahysa tati parmagati

Rupe Bhavani was a yogini who through regular Shaiva yoga had awakened her kundlini, which is ever luminous. She had sublimated her pranapan process through regular courses of pranayam and stilled her mind which otherwise remains disturbed through varied distractions. Kundlini through such practices moves upwards through six-cakras and touches sahasrar, which is the seat of nectar (amrit). Kundlini as per Shavites is the seat of Shiva and is the cause of manifestation. Says Rupa Bhavani  -

shuddyokht muladhari kundli mandli gavri

sed arth sukham soshupti cakra virakht shanta dhari

antarmukhi dreshti nirvan rahasya tati paramgati !

A seeker who has realised himself has not to take to rudraksha-maala for Japnov has he to meditate on a mantra. For such a soul there are no hopes to be cherished. He rises above the distinctions of kula (family) and gotra. He permanently resides in sahasrar and non-dual naad and bindu. Says she

ludra buchha na aasa na gutri na bashi

na kuli na kretyam mahanand rupam

shyayam thaan vaasi aadi sarva madhyam

antarmukhi dreshti nervaan rahasya tati param gati

The poetic language of the poet is predominantly Sanskrit that is laced with apt word and phrase. There is a sprinkling of Persian words that had formed a part of Kashmiri language by the time she burst out her vakhs. Her vakhs are not lacking in spontaneity and flow, yet she is less comprehensible than her poetic master, Lalla-Ded.

Parmanand, the unrivalled poet of vatsun and leela, is a devotee of Lord Krishna and uses his immense poetic acumen and fervour in depicting multifarious phases of Lord Krishna's life in the world, actually a divine incarnation of Vishnu. He is unmatchable in sweetness and beauty of language and apt use of words and phrases to generate the rasa of devotion. He has described Shiva after the Puranic style and worships Him the same way as he worships Lord Krishna.

Equally in the line of Lalla-Ded  Parmanand as an insightful poet has brought out the uniqueness of Lalla-Ded in a verse as a yogini who dwelt in dwadashant mandala, realised anahat nad and nad and bindu and thus attained to a state of Supreme Anand, beauteous bliss. Says Paramand -

Lallishwari yi yuga aas sadaran

dadashant mandal manz kuni zani

anahatnad bend om prazanavan

pravan anand aam pana vani

The Shaiva metaphysics of Shiva and Shakhti, pretyabhijjna maha-vakya of 'so-ham', 'ajapa jap', shashi-kala, nad-bindu, dyan-dharna, jnan and moksa as self-recognition are the lexicon of Parmanand, who as an ardent devotee (bhakta) is in quest of his parmatma, shiva or Krishna for spiritual union. Says he about ‘ajapa gayatri’ -

Om bhur bhuva svaha shiva shombhu

ajapa gayatri soham su

There are a number of Muslim poets who cherished the spiritual brilliance of Lalla-Ded and wax eloquent in their appreciation of Lalla-Ded as a yogini par excellence. The spiritual personality of Lalla-Ded and her tremendous poetic faculties have been a source of great inspiration for them. Despite the syndrome of ‘dislocated sensibilities’ they have by and large stuck to their race-memory and the treasure-trove of cultural inheritance. Shams Faqir, Nyama Saab, Asad Parray, Wahab Khar, Ahad Zargar, Svacchha Kraal et al are the poets who have resounding echoes of Lalla-Ded vakhs in their poetic expressions. Muladhar, Shashikal, Hridai, Sat, Paan Praznav, Jnan and similar word-hoard of yoga and other concepts of Shaiva thought form an essential part of their poetic consciousness. Their utterances have a consensual approval at mass level, but there is an order of thought that has rejected them as nonconformist. Some of them were spurned as heretics. Some of them migrated from their original places of birth and took shelter in areas where they had a support-base among the Kashmiri Pandits.

To camouflage their real identity as natives they have been burdened with the tag of sufis, which trickily uproots them from the roots of their native soil. In a study of such poets Amin Kamal titled his books as ‘Sufi Shairi’. Moti Lal Saqi also made a fruitful contribution to the editing of the works of such poets with glossaries explaining the words belonging to the domain of Yoga and Shaivite philosophy. Very lately attempts have been made to interpolate spurious materials into their works which distort their real image as poets in the tradition of Lalla-Ded.

The appellation of ‘shastar’ or ‘samskriti’ for the poetic materials of these poets is inapt and inappropriate for it does not relate the poetic expressions of these poets to the integrated personalities which they had. What they have uttered is assigned to their sufistic thought and Samskriti is just there to be kept apart as something incidental to them, not integral to them as poets.

The need for a Lalla Ded Lexicon

By Prof. M.L. Koul

'To do philosophy is to explore one's own temperament, yet at the same time to attempt to discover the truth'--Iris Murdok

The very core of Lalla Ded is philosophical and that is why she captures our imagination and tugs at our heart-strings. Her vaakhs are so compact and perfect that it is absolutely futile to better them in any manner. The entire repository of vaakhs  as preserved through generations by our ancestors is a civilisational  legacy. Now a time has come that her word reflective of her lofty legacy is under a vicious onslaught. Lalla Ded's word was not just a fluke, but, it, in fact, climaxed the entire tradition of thought-process and aesthetics that was formed, and perpetuated through generations. As an heir to the entire corpus of philosophy and aesthetics she had full awareness of objectifying her experiences, lived and felt, through a word, apt and suitably contextualised.

Poetry (kavya) as defined by the Kashmiri aesthetes was word and meaning(shabadarthav kavyumwhich eventually evolved as the combination of word and meaning (shabadarthav sahitav kavyamat the hands of a host of aesthetes. The very word, sahit, during an evolutionary process in aesthetics, came to be the source of the word, sahitya (literature) in the domain of Indian aesthetics.

Lalla Ded as revealed by her vaakhs  was an immaculate scholar of language, both Sanskrit and Kashmiri (desh bhasha) . As a word-smith she has deftly used apt words to depict her spiritual experiences and yearnings. It is the word that explains her indigenous roots and unbreakable linkages with the civilisational impulse of the land she was born in. Her word is enriching not only 'intellectually and spiritually, but also geographically'. Force and verve of her exceptionally rare word’ caused a fright in the mind of Sufi colonisers who resorted to 'medieval forgery' to distort and impale her word. It is Lalla Ded's word that speaks for her splashes of creativity. It is, again, the word that neatly reveals her philosophical culture and spiritual zest andcredo.

To preserve and perpetuate the invaluable legacy of Lalla Ded I am attempting to prepare a sort of Lalla Ded-lexicon (kosha) with a view to making her vaakhs  more intelligible to Lalla Ded lovers and keeping the rootless and deracinated intellectuals and their proteges away from rabidly interfering with the word of Lalla Ded.

Word: Shiva

a) One who cuts away sins

Shyati papam iti shiva

b) One who illumines/reveals the universe vasati, to shine

c) One who removes the sleep of ignorance

'sin, to sleep or to dream

Shanker: One who does good to devotees and mankind at large sham karoti iti shankerah

Shakti: The whole univese lies indistinguishably submerged in the consciousness of Shiva. When  He wills to see what is in Him, He is Shakti. Absolute freedom (svatantrya) of Shiva to create is Shakti. In transcendence Shiva is 'bodh', Janan, knowledge. In immanence He is Shakti. There is hardly any object in the world/universe that does not emanate from the consciousness of Shiva. In Kashmir Shaivism Shiva is an absolute non-dual reality. When we speak of Shiva, Shakti is automatically presumed. If Shakti is referred to, Shiva is pre-supposed. Shiva devoid of freedom to create is a dead body. "Shiva shakti bina shavah'.

Parmarth Sar of Bhagvan Abhinavgupta puts---

Iccha-Jnan-Kriyashakti Svabhavam eva, n.... shakti

Virhitam Jadakalpam, anyat cha anant shakti paripurnam.

Prakash: Shiva in essence is beyond the world/universe. In this state He is prakash, pure jnan, knowledge or bodh. Prakash is His svarup, intrinsic reality. In Vedanta it is called 'kutastha rupa', the fundamental nature of Brahman. Every object that we see around us shines in the prakash, luminosity of Shiva's consciousness.

Vimarsh: Shiva is prakash, no doubt; but He knows that He is prakash. His knowledge about His luminosity (prakash) is vimarsha. Khemraja in his workParapreveshika puts. ‘If Shiva were merely prakash, not also vimarsha, He would be totally inert and powerless. It can simply be put that if prakash is transcendental Shiva, Vimarsha is His Shakti or immanence in all that exists. Vimarsha can also be called I-consciousness of Shiva. It is because of this I-consciousness that Shiva manifests the world/universe which otherwise lies diluted in His consciousness.

Etymologically vimarsh is formed by the prefix vi +  mrsh (root).

Chita : It is the limited form of Chiti, which is consciousness supreme. Chita is mind that is constituted by buddhi, aham and manasAs per an eminent Shaiva exponent named Bhasker, Chita and manas are synonymous. Chita is equated with an individual self called anu, pashu or atma. It is atma, an individual self, as it ‘moves on incessantly to different varieties of existence by sticking to rajas, tamas and sattvas'. Chita serves as a source to feel, think and cognise the Highest Reality, Shiva or Maheshvar.

Chetyate Vimrishyate anena parmam tatvam iti chitam.

Manas: Manas is the same as chita. It is the mind that is replete with various forms of desires and thought-const-ructs. If it is set to look within, it becomes a mantra. If it is directed to outward objects in the world, it becomes messy with sankalpas and vikalpas (thought-currents). Lexicallysamkalpa and vikalpala of manas is termed as 'manas vyapar', mind's activity.

manyate budhyate anena iti manah/mansah

Vijnanbhairava conveys--

manasam chetna shakti atma chetya chatushtayam,

yada priye parikshanam tada tad bhairavam vapu !

Guru: He is the spiritual director. He teaches the highest truth to his disciples. He initiates them through a mantra. He also ferries them across the ocean of nagging doubts and misunderstandings He bestows them with his grace (shaktipat). A guru is a perfect soul, a Shiva, with a heightened sense of aesthetics. He initiates a pupil, but does not impose himself on his psycho-physical personalty. He develops him as a free being after the model of Shiva.

Mantra: It is the divine power clothed in sound. A guru initiates his pupil through a mantra, which is replete with energy and force. A mantra is to be meditated upon to achieve a spiritual destiny. An aspirant identifies himself with the deity that is invoked in the mantra. After meditating upon it, he becomes the mantra. To realise the potency of a mantra, a seeker has to have initiative and self-will. The Vedic rishis were 'mantra drshtara'.

Etymologically, mantra is formed with  man + suffix tran and is explained as 'man-nat trayte iti mantra'.

Akula: It is a lexical word drawn from the Agamas. The kashmiri Shaivites have accepted the word with its meaning to buttress their concept of Shiva as a non-dual absolute. Akula is Shiva in transcendence. He is akula because He has no kula and has not manifested the world/universe from him own essence.

Kula: Kula is Shakti, Shiva's immanence in all that exists in the world. Akula is subtle, kula is gross. it is gross as akula manifests itself in gross objects of the world/universe.

Bhasker Roy, an authority on the Tantras puts-

kulam shakti iti prokhtam, akulam shiva uchyate,

kulakula sambandah kaulam iti abhideeyate !

Kularnava Tantra reiterates the same thesis about akula and kula akulamShivah iti ukhtam, kulam shakti prakitite

kulakul anusandhane nipunah kaulika priye

Shunya: Shunya is a word drawn from the Buddhist texts. In fact, Nagarjun built a whole philosophical thesis on shuniya, which in translation means void or emptiness. In Kashmir Shaivism the word was accepted, but, was invested with a new meaning. The word shunya in meaning is 'abhava' which becomes 'bhava' if prefix 'a' is deleted. 'a' stands for Shiva and many other names typifying Shiva. 'pabhava' stands for objects in the world/universe. So, Shuniya, to Lalla Ded, is the state of consciousness of Shiva in which the world of objects lies merged in an unmanifest form. Such a concept of shunya is positive as against its negative shade of meaning that the Buddhists conveyed through it. A quote from a Shaiva text conveys -

ashyuyam shunyam iti ukhtam shunyatcha abhava ishyate

abhava satu vijneyo yatra bhava layam gata !

Nad & Bindu: The two lexical terms having their origins in the Agamas are vital to the understanding of Lalla Ded as a poetess wedded to the Shaiva thought. Bindu is perfect, luminous, eternal and metaphysical locus  in consciousness supreme. Nada is the expansion (visfar) of Bindu to mainfest that what lies submerged in Bindu. Bindu is prakash (I-uminosity) and Nada is vimarsha  (I-consciousness). Bindu has layers of expansion, prasar or visfar from a kala, also called Chita-kala, to anand shakti (aa), Iccha shakti (e,e,), Jnan shakti (u,u) and kriya-shakti (re-ow). As the locus of central luminous and perfect consciousness Bindu has eight layers of outward expansion. It has to be understood that the expansion happens inside the consciousness supreme, not outside it.

In the words of Prof. Nila Kanth Gurtuprakash at the level of chiti is Bindu and prakash at the level of chita is Nada.

Oum : Lalla Ded as an initiated Shaivite has alluded to oum as a bija-mantra. To her, oum aham as two bija-mantras have the same import. In a particular vaakh she has used the word 'anahat' in place of oum or pranav, a vedic mantra. Anahat, to her, is not the fourth station in the process of awakening the kundalini that as per yogic texts lies coiled up in a state of sleep at muladhaar'. Anhat, to her, is the same as Bnidu and Nada. It is'pranav', an enternal, unhindered sound, oum. This very 'pranav' when in a state of unity with consciousness supreme or Shiva is Bindu and when in expansion, visfar, for outward emanation is Nada.  The entire word-hoard from a to h when lying in total submergence in consciousness supreme (chiti) is Bindu, but its evolution through various stages of para vaak, pashyanti, madhyama and vaikhuri is Nada. Bindu, therefore, is the locus of both expansion and assimilation (samaahaar).

Mudra: Literally, the word mudra means disposition of various limbs of human body in particular shapes. Lalla Ded has used the word in a spiritual sense. Well-versed in the Shaiva-texts she was aware of khecari mudra that denotes a psycho-physical posture enabling a seeker to move about in absolute freedom in the skies of consciousness. In the Agamic texts mudra has been explained in various ways. Mudra is that which gives joy (mudam dadati). Mudra, again, is that which removes bondage (bandhan) (mum dravyati), Khechari mudra is a name for Shiva. It explains his condition. Lalla Ded has referred to 'chopimudri', which is the condition of Buddha. The disposition of silence is a type of yoga mainly practised by the Buddhists and some Hindu Hath-Yogis. As Lalla Ded did not subscribe to Hathyoga, she pours out that one cannot enter Shiva's consciousness through the disposition of silence (chopi mudri).

Anamya: The Lord Shiva in His inherent nature (svabhava) is beyond the objective world/univese. But, He has a natural tendency to manifest the objective world/univese that lies submerged in Him. The equipoise between His transcendence and tendency to manifest (shakti) is what is called anamya or niramaya. In this condition of Shiva all objects (bhavas) are beyond the limitations of time and space (desh and kaal) and lie in absolute identity with Shiva's consciousness only in the form of impressions or images.

In the words of Prof Nila Kanth Gurtu anamaya is the luminosity of all-pervading, transcendental and ever-shining consciousness of Shiva wherein I-consciousness (vimarsh) is embedded.

Pratyabhijjna - It is a lexical word in Kashmir Shaivism. Drawn from the Buddhist scriptures and philosophies Kashmiri Shaivites invested it with a new layer of philosophical meaning. Pratyabhijjna is the metaphor of the theoretical frame of Kashmir Shaivism and spanda as expounded by Bhatta Kallat, is the practical aspect of the theory of Shaivism. In absolute concordance with the six systems of Indian philosophy, Kashmir Shaivism too has delineated its position on moksa, liberation from bondage. The word moksa though often used by the Shaivites connotes and denotes Pratyabhijjna which means to recognise one's essence as Shiv. As an absolute free being Shiva assumes a limitation through his own potency called as Maya Shakti and is reduced to the position of a Jiva. He forgets His essentiality as a transcendental being and assumes the form and role of a Jiva. Pratyabhijjan is to recognise the essential nature of Shiva. As stipulated by Bhagvan Abhinavgupta moksa is neither on earth, nor is it ascension into heavens. It is just to burst the meshes of ignorance caused by three dirts (malas) ofanavamal, karma mal and mayiya mal and cognise one's unlimited potencies. Phrased as 'svarup prathnam' Pratyabhijjna is revelation of the intrinsic nature of a Jiva. Moksa in terms of Pratybhijjna is 'sva-shakti abhivyakhta'which means expression of one's intrinsic potencies or powers.

In Kashmiri language Pratyabhijjna is 'paan praznavun', to cognise one's essential essence as Shiva. As a lexical term it finds  mention by all the poets who are in the line of Lalla Ded tradition or have swerved away from it as a result of 'dislocated sensibility'.

Jivan-mukhta-It is an expression that Lalla Ded has often used in her inspiring and mesmerising vaakhs. Come to her from Shaivism she always explains and expresses it in the same tenor. Jivan-mukti is an ideal with the Shaivites, who are keen to attain moksa, liberation in the sense of self-recognition (atma Pratyabhijjna) while living in the world. A man normally attains moksa, liberation at the moment of death as he ceases to get enmeshed in the worldly acts which burden him with morality or immorality of performed acts. But, attainment of moksa while in life is a state of perfection in which a man is absolutely free to will, and act. He is enlightened and has absolute oneness with Shiva. To attain moksa while in life is the climaxing of the trajectories that shaivites act out as devotees or seekers either independently or under the aegis of a Shiva-guru. Jivanmukhti is a state of perfection in which a  Jiva is a Shiva. He does not carry any burden of limitations that would inhibit or restrict his freedom. He is in the world and the world is in him. He lives his life as a free being and commits himself to the cause of awakening others to attain Jivan-mukhti. He could have died, but does not die because of his avowed commitment to awaken his fellow-beings to auhtenticate their lives through realisation of their essential svarup as Shiva.

As a Jivan-mukta, Lalla Ded had destroyed all her karmas and ceased to accumulate karmas the fruit of which otherwise she had to bear. She had freed herself from the rotating wheel of life and death and had attained the status of an immortal. From the status of Shaivayogini Lalla Ded came to be known and recognised as Lalla-the Immortal.

Krai-It is the Kashmiri version of kriya, a word in Sanskrit. It means an act that is both elevating and ennobling. It is not karam that a Jiva performs in routine life the fruit of which is to be borne at all costs and under all circumstances. The distinction between kriya and karam has to be understood for fuller comprehension of Lalla Ded vaakhs. As per Kashmir Shaivism, Shiv is an active agent, a doer who performs five acts (panch kritya) of Srshti, sithiti, samhar, pidhan and anugrah. He is not inert like Brahman of the Shankar vedant. He acts and His actions are termed as 'kriya'. A Jiva who in essence is Shiva only also acts to exist and live in the world. As his actions are limited in scope and extent, so they are termed as 'karam'. Krai,therefore, is not a limited action but a free act that is elevating and ennobling. The essence of krai is Shiva and His elevating consciousness.

Nund Rishi who is in the line of Lala Ded tradition carries the word kraibearing the same imprint of Shiva as an active agent. Unaware of its core meaning the Islamists of foreign origins and their local  proxies have not succeeded in cleansing his shrukhs (slokas) of the word 'krai' rich with indigenous semantics.

Nagai Nachun - It is an expression of sheer ecstasy which has been an issue of debate among genuine Lalla Ded scholars. The guys who have pawned their souls to the foreign Sayyid-sufis have misused it as a source to the myth that Lalla Ded roamed about naked through the main -fares of her native place.

One can glean from her vaakhs that Lalla Ded was not a hatha-yogini and moderation, a golden-mean in Aristotelian terminology, was a prized value with her. The life of a recluse had not charmed her. Denial of essentials to maintain her body was not an igredient of her world-view. She was more than aware of the efficacy of human body as the source-material to the attainment of atma-pratyabhijjna, self-recognition as Shiva. The Shaivite perspective of human body as a miniature form of the entire cosmos was what moulded her whole course of Shaiva-Yoga praxes.

Lall Ded's philosophy of moderation gains prominence when she unequivocally exhorts all the un-initiates to clothe themselves soasto  keep cold away from harming their bodies and also to have such food as satiates their appetite. In the light of this philosophy it is in no way pertinent to explain and construe 'nangai nachun' as dancing or roaming about naked.

In Indian aesthetics there are three layers of meaning a word can have. The indicative meaning, abhidha-arth, of ' nangai nachun' is absolutely crude and does not concur with the philosophy that Lalla Ded was wedded to . It fails to convey her emotion, determining her psycho-physical behaviour. The second layer of meaning called lakhshanic arth too does not convey her real emotion. The third layer of meaning 'dhvanyatmac arth', translated as suggestive meaning alone establishes it as an expression of extreme joy or ecstasy as a response to the key that her guru introduces to her for attainment of identity with Shiva.

Pran and apan - We as humans exhale and inhale. It is happening involuntarily. Life depends on this process of breathing out and breathing in. In Shaiva-Yoga we have been given an astral body (yogic body) which  is not the same body that is defined in physiology. As per the Shaiva-Yoga texts air that we breathe out is called pran and air that we breathe in is known asapan. Pran, actually called pran-vayu, emerges from hridai, heart (not the actual human heart) and stops at bahya-dvadashant. Apan, lexically calledapan-vayu, emerges at bahya-dvadashant and stops at hridai, heart. The entire process of breathing out and breathing in is connected with two nerves called Ida and pingla, one on the left side and the other on the right side ofSushumna-nadi, lexically known as madhya-dam in Shaiva-yoga. It is calledmadya-dam for it is soaked in Shiva's luminosity. Pran and apan though to be cultivated assiduously through pranayam are of little value in matters of attaining moksa, liberation. In Shaiva-yoga both the vayus are supposed to bind a man to the meshes of ignorance because of their tendency to flow outwards. But, the other two airs (vayus) called udan and vyan to be cultivated through diligent practice liberate a man from primal ignorance. Air that is breathed out (pran) is usually hot and air that is breathed in (apan) is generally cool. In Lalla Ded vaakhs  pran has been described as hot and apan as cool and their nexus with madhya-dam has been vitally important or gaining moksa, liberation from birth and death.

Abhyas - It is a Sanskrit word that denotes regular practice. Breathing out and breathing in is a practice that a seeker has to repeat at a regular pace. Such a practice known as pran-abhyas removes the dis-balance or conflict called ksobha between the two airs (vayus) of pran and apan. Through pran-abhyas the two airs (vayus), pran and apan, enter sushmana-nadi (madhya dam) via muladhar and move upwards in the direction of udan resulting in pacification of all manner of conflicts. In such a yogic condition pristine powers of mind (chita) get awakened. Pavan, a Sanskrit word, meaning air denotes pran-vayu and apan-vayu in the Shaiva-Yoga lexicon.

Sagun - It means anything that has a form or an attribute. 'Nirgun' is its antonym. In the domain of Hindi poetry Lord Ram and Lord Krishna are the themes of Tulsidas and Surdas, who belonged to the sagun branch of Bhakti (devotional) poetry. But, in Shaiva-Yoga, the word sagun carries a different shade of meaning. It refers to the world that Shiva manifests from the screen of His own consciousness without using any materials external to Him. Sagunis Shiva's shakti and His Shakti is manifestation of all that we perceive in the world. Sagun, in other words, is immanence of Shiva in the world of objects (neel, peet etc).

Shya van - Most of the commentators of Lalla Ded Vaakhs have explained'shya van' as 'six forests' meaning as six chakras or Shakti chakras as mentioned in Patanjali's Yoga-sutra. But the word 'van'  in terms of philology is derived from Sanskrit word 'advan', which means a path.

As available in the Shaivite texts six paths are mantra, vama, pada, kala, tattava and bhuvan. An aspirant seeking ascension is required to traverse through them for attainment of identity with Shiva. Bhagvan Abhinavgupta has delineated incisive details about each path including the methodology for traversing it. As a Jiva, seeking the original abode of Shiva an aspirant has to ascend through each path, one after the other.  Lexically called 'aaroha', this rise in step by step manner enables an aspirant to grasp the intrinsic nature of all the thirty-six tattvas (elements) that constitute the world that is perceptible and felt. Realisation also dawns on him that Shiva is immanent in all the tattvas (elements) that form the architecture of the world.

Panch, dah ta kah - Strange meanings have been attributed to the lexical terms of panch, dah ta kah by ignoramuses who are on a mission to distort and misconstrue the indigenous content of Lalla Ded. Some have interpreted it as the prevalence of many faiths and sects in conflict with one another, while many others have distorted their meanings only to suit their fanciful imaginings.

Panch (five) refers to five mahabhutas that are the principal and basic constituents of the whole universe. These five mahabhutas are earth, water, fire, wind and space. All tomes of the Indian philosophy from Rigeveda to the modern writings make a mention of five mahabhutas.

Dah (ten) refers to five karam-indriyani (motor senses) and five Jnan-indriyani (cognitive senses). Five karam-indriyani are upastha, payu, pada, hasta, and vak. Five jnan-indriyani are gran, rasana, darshan, sparsa, and shrvan.

Kah (eleven) signifies five motor senses and five cognitive senses andantahkaran generally translated as mental perception. Antahkaran is taken as only one sense though it constitutes manbuddhi and ahankar.

Ada kyazi ravihe kahan gava - Lalla Ded has used cow as a metaphor of 'atma pratyabhijjna', self-recognition, which she pursued as her spiritual destiny. Kah (eleven) as a collection of all human senses are required to be harnessed and focused to realise the destination. Kashmir Shaivism has lent absolute credence to human body as a vehicle to the attainment of self-recognition. It is defined as a miniature form of the entire cosmos. An aspirant, therefore, has to cultivate his senses, not by suppression, but by sublimation so that he concentrates them to achieve the higher ends of spirituality. Eyes have to be withdrawn from outside world of objects to deepen the gaze within. Mind (man) as a constituent of mental perception has to be pacified with a view to ridding it of conflicts and raging mental activities. The united action of all senses that a human body is invested with is vitally critical to the unfoldment or expansion of inner self. At a particular stage of her quest Lalla Ded woefully lamented that her wayward senses had ravaged her body. Had they all focused and acted unitedly she would have realised her spiritual destination. Her success in stringing the human senses into a bond of unity made her spiritual destiny realisable. The Indian scriptures describe human body as 'brahma mandir' (God's temple). A verse from Kalidasa highlights the vital importance of human body in matters of spirituality. The verse reads  -

api sva-shakhtya tapsi pravartate,

shareeram adhyam khalu dharam sadanam.

Sodur - It is a Kashmiri word drawn from samudra which is Sanskritic in its origins. Throughout the Indian lore and learning world (bhava or samsar) has been compared to an ocean. Among many words samsar is the main word for world which is defined as 'samsarti iti samsarah'  - world is that which moves  on. Sodur also is in constant, ripple and motion. Hence the compound word 'samsar sagar' or 'samsar-samudra'  or 'bhava-sagar'.

Sodur (ocean) either independently or in combination with 'samsar' (world) typifies ocean of ever-changing world and existence. Lalla Ded, an Indian in thought and deed, is profoundly conscious of the ever-changing nature of world and existence at large. As a seeker she knows that she is immersed in the transience of world and existence and is keen on crossing the ocean of world and get back to the original abode of Shiva. That is why Lalla Ded sayszuva chum braman gara gacha ha'. 'Sadur' as a huge expanse of water has a civilisational connotation. It establishes that Lalla Ded was a product of water-civilisation which she perpetually breathed and assiduously perpetuated and celebrated.

Sahaz - Sahaz is the Kashmiri version for sahaj which is a word in Sanskritic word-hoard. Its translation in English is 'natural'. A version of Buddhism called sahaj-yani Buddhism' has imbued the word 'sahaj' with philosophical meanings. 'Sahaj' represents the highest element that forms with the conflation of ''prjna' and 'upaya'. The concept of 'sahaj'  has travelled to Kashmir Shaivism and has been used as a qualifying word with 'vidya', 'Ishvar, 'yoga' and 'anand'. Hence in Shaivism we have expressions like'sahaj vidya', 'sahaj Ishavar', sahaj yoga' and 'sahaj anand' .

In the cluster of methodologies (upayasanupaya known as methodless-method has been taken for pratyabhijjna. The Shaivite texts describe itsahaj-upaya, a simple or natural method. Sahaj has also been used as a metaphor of Reality the detailed discussion of which forms the warp and woof of Kashmir Shaivism and all expressions of Indian thought.

Laya—The yoga-tattva-upanishad has delineated four types of yoga-mantra-yoga, laya-yoga, hatha-yoga and raj-yoga. Laya-Yoga as a recognised form of yoga has found a mention in almost all works on yoga. Lya-yoga definitionally is concentration on a deity while one is actively involved in the daily routine of life. The Kashmri Shaivites equally accept laya-yoga as a means to attain identity with Shiva. In shaktopaya a seeker deems it an achievement if he succeeds in dissolving his mind (man) in chita. Layi-bhava as a lexical term conveys the same dissolution of mind in chita. But, to a highly accomplished seeker laya means immersion of a jiva in shiva as consciousness supreme.

Jnan and ajnan—These two terms have been used variously by all manner of Indian philosophers. Jnan, simply speaking, has two meanings, one is intellectual and the other is spiritual. Intellectual knowledge as per the shaivites of Kashmir does expand the understanding horizons of a seeker. It is incumbent on him to learn the use of logic and analysis to have a thorough grasp of the non-dual thesis of Kashmir Shaivism. The said-philosophy has intricacies which need be understood for sharpening of human intellect. But, intellectual knowledge is not the end in itself. It has to be tooled to achieve spiritual knowledge which like all Indian thinkers the Shaivite thinkers designate as real knowledge. So, Jnan, to them, is spiritual in nature and essence. They call it Shiva-Jnan and atma-jnan.

As Shiva and Jiva are of the same fibre and weave, a jiva entrapped by three dirts (malas) of anava-mal, karma-mal and mayiya-mal has to realise his essential nature (svarup) through Shiva-Jnan and atma-jnan.

The essential thesis of Kashmir Shaivism is that Shiva through his absolute freedom (svatantrya) forgets his essential nature to assume the form of a jiva. Under the wraps of forgetfulness a Jiva takes his not-self as his real self. It is lexically called ajnan . It can be said that false identity with human body and human ego is a ajnan. But, the Shaivites never comprehend ajnan as total absence of jnan. To them, ajnan is mita-jnan, little knowledge or limited knowledge. The concept of bondage they trace to ajnan, limited knowledge. Bondage (bandhan) is essentially for a jiva. Shiva is beyond any taints of bondage (bandhan). As per the shaivites ajnan is non-knowledge of one’s own intrinsic nature (svarup).

Sham & dam—In Patanjali yoga and other works on yoga sham and dam have been accepted as vital parts of yoga-praxes. Sham means to wean one self away from the worldly actions (karmas). Dam means to control the breathing process (pran and apan) which otherwise is involuntary. Patanjali defines yoga as ‘‘yogash cha chit vriti nirodah’. The yoga-practices like sham & dam are in concordance with the definition that Patanjali has formulated about yoga. yoga, to him, is to suppress (nirodaha) the innate and inborn urges, tendencies and proclivities of a man. But, the Kashmir Shaivites have moved away from the Patanjalian explication of yoga and phrased yoga as per their own conceptual frame. To them, yoga definitionally is yogam ektavam icchanti vastuno anyena vastuna (unity of a thing (Jiva) with another thing (Shiva). The word suppression, nirodha, is replaced by unity, ektavam. The six-limbed yoga-praxes of the Shaivites called Shadanga yoga retains sham & dam, but stand oriented to a new nuance of meaning. Sham, therefore, is defined as to stay put in a felt spiritual experience after pacifying the worldly disturbances that ravage a human mind, Dam is to sublimate the breathing processes (pran and pan) with a view to submerge them in madhya-dham where the heart (hridai) lies.

In a vakh Lalla-Ded says that Shiva if He is to be attained does not needsham & dam (self-continence and self-control). It is a clear-cut reference to the suppressive techniques as envisaged in the Patanjali yoga. She for one was groomed in the Shaiva-techniques that are repugnant to suppression and regression of what lies in the nature of man as a living and existing being.

Chidanand—In Kashmir Shaivism Chidanand (chit and anand) is the essential nature of Shiva. Sat (being) is presumed when Shiva is formulated as Chidanand. As we have in Sankar vedant, sat-chit-anand is the fundamental nature (kutasthasvarup) of Brahman as an absolute. But in the Shaivite structure of thought Shiva’s fundamental nature (kutastha svarup) is chidanand only. Chit (consciousness) and anand (instinctive playfulness) are deemed as two in number, but in actuality are mixed up as milk and water. Lexically, chit and anand are prakash (luminosity) and vimarsh (I-consciousness). Shiva as Chita (chitti) is beyond the physical world, to put it properly He is transcendental. But Shiva as anand is brimming with a deep sense of I-consciousness. Anand is the creativity of Shiva. The nuts and bolts of entire cosmos are the expression of Shiva as anand. It is anand that features Shiva as an absolute free being to will, create, know and act. The five acts (pancha kretya) that Shiva does is out of anand, His playfulness or sportiveness. In Shaiva texts it is expressed as ‘kreeda-vilas’.

Maha-vreties-oum bhur-bhuva-svaha—

The Gayatrimantra begins with oum-bhur-bhuva-svaha. Its origins lie in the vedas. As vedas have been characterised as ‘plexus of ceremonies’, the mantras like oum bhursvaha, oum bhuva svaha and oum sva svaha are resonantly pronounced during the offerings that are made to the fire-god (agni). These three mantras are known as maha-vreties. But, the fourth maha-vrety is the mantra of oum bhur-bhuva-sva svaha which is uttered as one mantra in the wake of the first three mantras that are uttered during the course of a yajna. Having their origins in the vedas, the Kashmiri Shaivites have incorporated the four maha-vreties in their thought structure, but have oriented them to a new shade of semantics. Khemraj as an erudite commentator on seminal Shaiva texts writes that bhu refers to the world of objects, bhuva to the means of knowledge and svah to the humans, each as a subject. These three maha-vreties refer to the manifested world that Shiva creates out of His playfulness (anand). In Shaiva terminology it is also called vimarsa. The fourth maha-vrety of oum bhur-bhuva-sva as one single mantra alludes to transcendetal Shiva in whom the first three maha-vreties remain diluted indistinguishably. The first three maha-vreties explain the world and can be lexically called descent (avaroh) and the fourth one  is Shiva in which the world gets absorbed and can be lexically called aroh (ascent).

Vakh—Vakh if translated into English means a word that is said. It belongs to the Sanskrit word-hoard. Bhartrihari as a reputed scholar of linguistics has given us the concept of ‘shabad-brahma’ to which he traces the genesis of words formed with the combination of letters in Sanskrit. But, the Shaviites of Kashmir have given us a theory about the genesis of word in concordance with their thought imperatives. Shiva, to them, is the absolute. The word prior to its concretisation remains absolutely diluted in the ocean of Shiva’s consciousness. But, His consciousness has its own dynamics which is lexically called vimarsa. The word at this level is known as para-vakh. As the world emanates from Shiva’s consciousness, word also emanates from it only. The journey of the word starts from para-vakh, comes to the level of pashyanti, then to the level of madhyama and finally to the level of vaikhuri. It is the descent of a word, coming to the level of world where communication and contact are established through it. A word is a combination of letters from a to ksa. The word-hoard from a to ksa as numerous energies of para-vakh remain submerged in Shiva’s consciousness. Their concretisation through the process of descent is the same as manifestation of the world from the dynamics of Shiva’s consciousness. Says Abhinavgupta-Vakhti Vishvam abhilapti pretyavmarsena iticha vakh

Mala—It is a Sanskrit word meanging dirt or impuity. In Kashmir Shaivism it is a lexical word having a special meaning. Shiva as the highest subject has absolute freedom to act. It is through the instrumentality of mala, His own creation, Shiva assumes the form of a jiva, worldling with the limited powers to will, know act and cogitate. As per the Shaivites of Kashmir, mala is the cause of ajnan (malam ajnanam icchanti). A jiva is a bound animal (pasu) because of the malas he is trapped in.

Mala is of three types, anav-mala, karma-mala and mayiya-mala. Anav-mala is the limitation caused by Shiva through His wilful act of losing His absolute freedom and assuming forgetfulness of His innate freedom. Shiva in His inherent svarup (nature) can perform any act without any let or hindrance and without any external aid-materials. But, through His own divine will, He loses His absolute freedom  and gets embroiled in the worldy acts of mean order. It is called karma-mala. Through His own absolute freedom Shiva emanates the unverse from His own creative consciousness and is in absolute harmony with what He creates or emanates. But, because of mayiya-mala, He finds a dis-connect with what he has manifested. This is called mayiya-mala.

Malas are a limitation, in fact a plethora of limitations, which Shiva assumes to take the form of a jiva. For this, He has no motiviation, He may do it or may not do it. But, he goes on assuming the limitations to become a Jiva out of His own playfulness (anand).

Kashmir Shaivism has made a mention of seven pramatas (subjects) who are classified on the basis of mala they are embroiled in. Sakala, pralayakal and vijnanakal have all the three impurities in them. Mantra has two malas only, mayiya-mala and anav-mala. Mantreshvar and mantra-maheshvar have only one mala and that is anav-mala. Shiva as the only subject, despite His act of assuming impurities, has no tanits or impurities that can inhibit His absolute freedom. The value that Jivas trapped in malas pursue is to remove the malas through shaiva-yoga praxes and recognise their essence as Shiva onlyand that is, jnan or atma-jnan.

Tantra—Kashmir Shaivism in essentia has tantric foundations, but is not in any manner repugnant to the vedic stream of though, lore and learning. In the vedas tantra as a word has been used as a loom (Rig veda and Atharva_ved). The Mimansakas use the word in the sense of a method for making or doing something. A word like tantra-ukhti denotes ‘principles’ or ‘expositions. The word tantra is also used for all types of works on subjects relating sciences. The philosophical meaning that the word tantra assumed refers to a ‘scripture that spreads knowledge’ tanyate vistaryate jnanam iti tantram. At a later stage tantra got hyphenated with mantra and came to be recognised as knowledge realisable through practices.

Kashmir has a protracted history of writing tantras, which could be classified as non-dual tantras, dual-non-dual tantras and dual tantras. With the strands of theoretical knowledge scttered over the whole repository of tantras the Kashmiri Shaivites wove their fabric of non-dual philosophy and finessed it as a thought-process through dexterous use of logic, exposition and subtle analysis. Sixty-four in number the non-dual tantras form the fundamental blueprint of the thought-structure that emerged from Kashmir the seeds of which were planted in the soil of Kashmir from the same thought, though of a different variety, flourishing in South of India.

The principal trantras that the Kashmiri Shaivites have commented upon and used them as source-materials are

Shiva-sutra, Netra-tantra, vigjnan Bhairav, Malini vijayotra tantra, paratrimshikha, Rudra-yamaltantra, mregendra tantra, svacchand tantra et al.

It is pertinent to put that tantras do not present a thought process than can be construed as a finished-product of thought. They contain what we call as seed-ideas, which the Shaivite thinkers used to fabricate a full-fledged philosophical structure, which is well-knit, fully cemented, delicate in details and aesthetic in value.

In the words of Osho, ‘where yoga ends, tantra begins. The highest peak of yoga is the beginning of tantra and tantra leads you to the ultimate goal’.

Sahasrar—It is the highest cerebral region above the end of susumuna-nadi and its filaments are red. On its pericarp is hamsa and above it is Shiva himself. Above all these are surya and candra mandalas. In the candra-mandala is a dazzling triangle where sixteenth kala of the moon resides. The subtle-aspect of it is nirvan-kala within which lives Shiva and Shakti as para-vindu. The Shakti of para-bindu is called as nirvana-shakti which is light and exists in the form of hamsa (Radra-yamal tantra).

Shyashi-kala, Shyashi-rasa—After a yogi explores his nadis (nerves), he awakens his kundalini shakti at muladhar, which is supposed to be seat of Shakti. He traverses through the six-cakras or six-forests or six paths and raises his inherent powers, which otherwise lie in dormancy. Then he comes upon the Shyashi-kala, candra-kata (digit of the mon) residing in Sahasrar. A rasa, translated as manna in English, oozes out from shyashi kala. A yogi licks is up avidly which transports him into a state of rapturous bliss. Licking up of shyashi-rasa establishes the union of a yogi with Shiva and unino is ultimate immersion in Shiva’s ocean of consciousness.

Many Kashmiri poets very much in the line of Lalla Ded tradition have frequently mentioned the spiritual union which they might have in the wake of the manna that they enjoyed as an oozing from Shyashi-kala or Chandra-kala. Such poetry of these poets has been wrongly designated as ‘sufi poetry’. Popularly nomenclatured as shastra, the Muslim poets followed the much-reverenced tradition of Lalla Ded who had linkages with the indigenous inheritance of bhakti (devotion) and philosophy of Shaiva thought.

Brahma-randa—Its synonym is brahma-bill. It is situated at the upper part of Ajna-Cakra within the centre of two eye-brows. A seeker seeking self-recognition concentrates on it for direct entry into sahasrar. The Kashmiri Shaivas hold that brahma-randra is closed by the ‘egg of shakti’ which among other eggs of maya, prakriti and prithvi lies in a state of dilution in the womb of Shiva’s consciousness. A seeker, who has awakened his dormant powers through Shaiva yoga praxes, can surmount the obstruction posed by the ‘egg of shakti’ and enter sahasrar which as per Shaiva stipulations is nothing but the auspicious consiciousness of Shiva.

Jin—It is a Pali word with its origins in ‘Jit’, as a word in Sanskrit language. The root of the word ‘Jit’ is ‘Ji’. It is often used for Mahavir, the founder of Jain dharam. It is also used for Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. As Kashmir Shaivism has accepted many seed-ideas and concepts from Buddhism, the word ‘Jin’ as a lexical word for Buddha stands splashed through many a Shaiva-text. The word ‘Jin’. denotes Buddha who has conquered his senses which are eleven in number. The conquest of senses for any seeker is a must as it is a prelude to the quest within. Shiva, keshav, and kamalajnath (Brahma) form the trinity and Lalla Ded has placed Jin, the Buddha alongwith three gods of Hindu pantheon, thereby raising the number to four. As all these gods are the symbols of Param-Shiva’s infinite powers, Lalla Ded in all politeness prays to them to remove the sickness of the world that has overwhelmed her whole being. Semitic gods are jealous of one another, but the Hindu gods have no such taint.

Anahat nad—A sound is produced when two objects strike against each other. A river or a brook that flows on produces a sound. But, in a human body a sound is produced involuntarily without striking against anything. This is why it is named as anahat-nad. It can be heard by a seeker who has diligently trained his ears through shaiva-yoga practices. In Tantraloka, Bhagwan Abhinavgupta has made a mention of ten types of anahatnad. Bartrihari sought its origins in the ‘shabad-brahma’. But in Kashmir Shaivism its origins lie in para-vakh, which during its descent comes to the level of pashyanti,then to madhyama and finally to vaikhuri. A seeker has to withdraw his ears from sounds that are heard in ojective world. He has to move up to the level of madhyama and then to pashyanti. During this inward journey he comes to realise the softer aspect of sounds that are gross. Finally he comes to the level of para-vakh which he has to concentrate on. It leads him to Shiva’s consciousness where all sounds lie submerged without having any distinctiveness.

ajapa hamsa mantra—It is directly related to pran and apan as breathing out and breathing in.It is in the madhya-nadi when pran vaya goes up from the hriday (heart) a sound like ‘ham’ is produced and when it returns from dvadashant as apan-vayu, a sound like ‘sah’ is produced. A man lives because of the breathing out and breathing in processes. As this process goes on non-stop, he is said to meditate on the mantra of ‘hamsa-hamsa’,meaning ‘I am that’. A Jiva is called a hamsa because he is ever busy in breathing-out and breathing-in processes.

This ‘hamsa mantra’ is featured as ‘ajapa’, which means that it is not meditated upon. At the level of a Jiva the sounds of ‘ham’ & ‘sah’ are grossly uttered. But, in the processes of inward journey the said-sounds lose their grossness and get merged in the luminosity of Shiva. So, in that case hamsaas mantra is neither to be uttered nor is it meditated upon. It becomes an indissoluble part of consciousness supreme.


Bhakti and Worship in Scriptures in Kashmir Shaivism and Lal Ded Vakh

By Prof. M.L. Koul

Bhakti as per the traditional mould can be defined as motive­less service to God. It has close linkages with actions (karman) that human beings routinely perform during the span of their life. It is axiomatic that the world de­pends on actions (loko ayam karma bandanah). Actionless-ness is a marker of death and decay. In the dynamics of life action is what integrates a man in a bond of cohesion with other members of a social group. Re­nunciation has come to occupy a dominant position in the tra­jectory of Indian spirituality. But renunciation never stipulates giving up of action. But what is to be renounced is desire, attach­ment or fruit accruing from a par­ticular action that is performed. In the words of Prof. Hiriyanna, ‘The Gita-teaching stands not for renunciation of action, but for renunciation in action’. Human beings within the bounds of this world have to act to live, exist and carry on the material activi­ties, but what is desired is that any action of any form or hue should not have the motivations of desire, attachment or fruit. A motiveless action has a close nexus with knowledge too. A true Jnani, a knower, alone can sur­render himself to God who has assured him of protection (na mebhaktah pranashyati). Bhakti, therefore, features total surrender to God.

The main locus of bhakti is Maheshvar, call Him Shiva, Ram or Krishna. Thebhakta reposes full and unflinching faith in Him and totally depends on Him for grace (shakhtipat). Absolute de­pendence and unflinching faith formulate the two critical ingredients of bhakti. A sinless bhakta in the embrace of a virtuous life has full faith in his Maheshvar that He will liberate him from the rotating wheel of life and death. A bhakta even if mired in sinful life can also depend on Him to ferry him across the ocean of samsar. A bhakta can serve his Maheshvar  as a servant (dasa) serves his master. He can cultivate a relation of friendship with Him and worship and adore Him for spiritual gains. This type of relationship has generated an enchanting treasure of aesthetics in the domain of art and poetry. There can be a bhakta who defies all constraints and starts loving his Maheshvar. But, in such a relationship of love, he rises above the trivial form of love in mundane life. The loving relationship with Maheshvar elevates him to such a state of heightened consciousness where margins between him and his Maheshwar fade away and the two become indistinguishably as one.

The rishis and munis have written tracts on bhakti which delineate their experiences in their varied relationships with Maheshvar either as servants, friends or lovers. What one gets from these expositions is that Bhakti is all through experiential, not a subject for theorisation. The fact remains that bhakti as an emotional expression of a bhakta can be portrayed in concordance with the world-view that he harbours. The great poets like Tulsidas, Surdas, Vidyapati, Jaidev et al have delineated their forms of bhakti as moulded by their views on man, world and Maheshvar. Despite philosophisation of bhakti, a bhakta is and has to be completely involved in his service, friendship or courtship unto his Maheshvar. The suffering (arta),the searcher (Jijnasu) and the self-interested (artharthi) are on the peripheries of bhakti as they in their forms of bhakti are not totally involved in the relationship that they forge with their Maheshvar. It is only the wise(Jnani) who is the true bhakta because of his total involvement in his object of service or love, that is Maheshvar.

Gleaning through the pages of the Indian scriptures of yore it becomes evident that bhakti, its contents, forms and contours have evolved through ages in consonance with the philosophical-cum-religious consciousness in India. The 'Nasidiya Sukhta' of the Rig Veda typifies the vedic rishi's mind that is intensely curious to probe and know the origins of universe. Riddled with doubt and indecision, the rishi oscillates between sat (being) and asat(non-being). The whole sukhta vividly reflects his amazement at 'the prospect of universe' (vishva). He is completely lost in the perennial problem of knowing the origins of cosmos, how and wherefore of it. The Vedic rishi is equally beset with a sense of fear in face of awful forces of nature. That is why vedic gods symbolise powers of nature. Observes Max Mullar,  'These gods were the first philosophy, the first attempt at explaining the wonders of nature'.

The mammoth corpus of Vedic literature throws up the Vedic Rishis bearing a mind beset with 'wonder' and 'fear'. The two, singularly or in combination had not the potential to generate an impulse of 'bhakti' and 'worship'. In absence of a motivating impulse there could be no relationship, personal or impersonal, between the rishis and the plethora of gods. Yet, we glimpse the first germinations of 'bhakti' and 'worship' in the hymns (richa) sung by thevedic rishis. Sacrifices were offered to gods through yajnas only to propitiate them for bestowal of prosperity in life, abundance of crops and protec­tion of cattle-wealth. They were also propitiated as not to wreak havoc on them through earth-quakes, floods and other natural disasters. The Vedic hymns in general are purely formalistic de­ficient in the basic sentiments that pave way for ‘bhakti and ‘worship’.

The Upanishads are an impor­tant milestone in the development of philosophical and religious consciousness in India. The first seeds that were sown in the Vedic hymns burgeoned forth in the upanishadic tracts as the crux of human excellence. De­flecting away from the formalities of sacrifices and ‘complexus of ceremonies’ upanishads pointer to a ‘deepening inwardness’ by focusing on ‘Atman’, the Self, a region of new quest, vaster than the objective world’. Philosophi­cal ruminations and over-all religious consciousness morphed into a genre that marked a depar­ture from what we had in the Vedas. The upanishadic formu­lations and conceptualisations proved trend-setting and deter­mined the future course of In­dian philosophy anddharma.

Swami Ranganath Nanda puts, ‘The upanishads not only gave a permanent orientation to the Indian culture and thought, but also blazed a trail for all subsequent philosophy in East and West'.

Upanishads in their essence are knowledge-oriented and also the path that they blazed is based on knowledge (Jnan). The knowledge-path (Jnan marg)poses insurmountable difficulties for a bhakta with an intent to tread upon it. It has been characterised as 'ksurasya dhara nishita duratya durgam pathah'.The high-brow upanishadic formulations like 'aham brahmosmi', 'tat tvam asi'and 'soham', though replete with path-breaking philosophical content, could not attract the popular sentiment because of the lack of elements in them that form the sheet-anchor for 'bhakti' and 'worship'.

With the passage of time the knowledge-oriented spiritual goals suffered a dilution and space thus created was occupied by 'bhakti' and 'worship' that allowed a free play to aesthetics and human emotions. The emerging trend got crystallised in the Narayan upanishad, Krishna upanishad and Ramtapni upanishad that focussed on bhakti and worship of Narayan, Krishan and Ram as gods in human form. The three gods were presented as manifest forms of Brahman, as the ultimate Reality and got merged in the same ultimate principle. Though 'bhakti' and 'worship' were the main focus, the trend as such could not materialise as an independent path to God-realisation.

Buddhism debated philosophical and religious issues from ascetic and regressive points of view. 'Sarvam dukham and Sarvam mithya' were sympbols of the Buddhist philosophy  of pessimism and rejectionism. At the philosophical level the non-soul doctrine of the Buddhists coupled with momentariness of everything failed to find resonance in the Indian mind. Kashmir as the pivotal centre  of Buddhist thought and dharma stemmed the negationist trend when the Kashmiri Pandit thinkers  as masters of the Buddhist philosophy gave it a positive and affirmative orientation. Mahayana Buddhism in a new mould blazed the trail for 'bhakti' and 'worship' of Buddha as a divine incarnation.

Shankaracharya as a colossus striding the domain of Indian philosophy and dharma gave a new orientation to the vedantic philosophy and dharma.  He systematised it in a manner that Max Mullar in awe appraises him as 'the  finest flower of Indian wisdom'. Shankar's philosophy is monistic  in approach and logic. Brahman, to Shankar, is the absolute reality and phenomenal world is only illusory and false (branti and mithyaa). He has distrust for the role of action for it has 'a reference to the world which is dual and false'. He emphatically stresses the path of knowledge (Jnan marg) as it leads a seeker ‘out of the dualist eddies of the world’. Like kierkegaard, the existentialist, Shankar has pointed out the limitations of reason and intellect in self-realisation as it is an ‘intuitively lived and felt experience’.

It was a rude shock to the Shankarites when Shankaracharya authored a work like 'Saundariya-lahiri' and stotras like the Dakshinamurti Stotra'.In the said-works he appreared to impair his own essential position as a non-dual philosopher and the knowledge path he had advocated as a means to self-realisation (moksa) . The very change in the philosophical position of Shankaracharya confirms his visit to Kashmir as described in 'shankar Digvijay'. His contact with the Kashmiri Pandit Shaivites left him convinced of the Shaivite philosophy of non-dualism. The switch over to the path of 'bhakti' and 'worship' opened new vistas for the seekers keen to realise their spiritual goals and aspirations.

Ramanujacharya, vaishnavite to the core, made a judicious mix of non-dual thesis of absolutism with personal theism (belief in Mahashvam). He was not the innovator. In fact, such an attempt was already made in theBhagvatgita, Mahabharata and the Vishnu Puran and Bhagvatam. It is apt to put that Ramanujacharya was mainly inspired by the Alvar saint-poets who had marked a trail of powerful tradition which a philosopher of the calibre of Ramanujacharya furthered and perpetuated. The non-dual thesis ofShankaracharya set in a frame of philosophical rigour was controverted by a plethora of Indian thinkers of repute. The critical treatment that they gave to the Shankaran non-dual thesis gave rise to the philosophical schools of qualified monism, pure monism, non-dualism and dual-cum-non-dualism. The new schools of thought with their own specific approach to the issues of philosophy were tagged with the label of Viahsnaivism which made a significant contribution to the dissemination of 'bhakti' and 'worship' at popular level.

The Alvar saint poets from  Tamil-land fully cyrstallised the new trend of'bhakti' and 'worship' through their enchanting hymns brimming with intense love of Vishnu. Instinctive knowledge of God and His contemplation are the dominant themes of their

hymns. The saint-poets are the ardent devotees who have completely resigned themselves to the mercy of Vishnu and have expressed their total dependence on Him  for deliverance. The deep impact of Rigveda on the Alvar saint-poets can be realised when they conceptualise the world as the body of Vishnu and feel transported to dizzying levels of ananda by dedicating themselves to His Service. The alvars in the tone and essence are extremely passionate in their yearning which is divergent from coarse and worldy passion. The philosophical frame to the Alvars was provided by the Acaryaslike Nathmuni who had made their own insightful forays in the realms of philosophy.

The trend-setting wave of 'bhakti' and 'worship' travelled all the way from south of India to the North where an eminent sage, Rama Nand, found it significant for impulsing a new movement of 'bhakti' and 'worship'. To his numerous disciples he imparted the mantra of ‘Ramayanamah’ which unleashed a momentous movement of bhakti creating a heightened consciousness at grass-root level to stem the tide of Muslim invasion on the very civilisation and culture of India. Kabir, Gurunanak, Tulsi Das, Sur Das and other literary luminaries forming vanguard of the movement played their part as bhaktas with an amazing sense of history.

Bhakti and worship in Kashmir Shaivishm

Shankaracharya as an immaculate philosopher of non-dual absolutism considered 'bhakti' & 'worship as antithetical to the rope-snake metaphor that establishes the primacy of knowledge (Jnan) in matters of release from the shackles of 'bandan' (bondage). Philosophically speaking, he made no attempt to explore a possibility of developing a concordance between bhakti and worship and his principal thesis of knowledge (Jnan). He thought that any type of reconciliation between bhakti and worship and his thesis of non-dual absolutism would fracture his total fabric of thought.

Kashmir Shaivism, though a philosophy of non-dual absolutism, does not contribute to the Shankaran thesis of exclusion of bhakti and worship from the realms of non-dual philosophy. The Shaivites of Kashmir are essentially integrati-onists who have dialectically maintained the integrity of their non-dual thesis by giving legitimacy to the precepts and practices of bhakti and worship. Kashmir Shaivism has been appraised as 'more monistic than monism itself'. Bhakti and worship as per it do not in any way impair the tone, essence and unity of its thesis. A concordance has been established between bhakti and worship and knowledge (Jnan) by re-naming 'bhakti' as'atma bhakti' and puja (worship) as 'atma puja' (self-worship.

bhakta conforming to the Shaiva thought cannot perform worship or devote himself to the service of Shiva in a manner that smacks of dualism. He sees his own intrinsic-essence as Shiva when he worships Shiva or sets up a warm relation of friendship and intimacy with Him. Shiva as per the theoretical asumptions of Kashmir Shaivism has prominent attributes of omniscience, omni-presence, eternity et al. A bhakta while devoting himself to Shiva super-imposes the same attributes of Shiva on himself. So does the worshipper. This is how the Shaivite thinkers have resolved the conflict between bhakti and worship and knowledge of Shiva (Shiva-Jnan).

The Shaiva bhakti is superior to any form of Jnan (knowledge). Successes in the domain of Shaiva yoga do not crystallise without bhakti. Bhakti is both means to an end and an end in itself. The highest knowledge of non-dual philosophy is featured as the highest form of bhakti. Says utapaldev-

Jnanasya parma bhumi yog asya parma dasha

tvad bhakti tya vibho karhi purna syat arthita

Bhakti is considered spiritual knowledge (adhyatam vidhya). 'Shivo bhutva shivam yajet' is replaced by 'bhakto bhutva shivam yajet'. The state of identity with Shiva is not acceptable if its medium is not bhakti.

Utpaldev sings--

bhavat bhakti amrit asvadat bodhyasya syat para api

dasha sa mam preti swamin asvasyeva shukhtah

Bhakti is the distilled essence of worship (puja) . It is more efficacious and helpful in recognising one's essence as Shiva than yoga and its allied practices. yogis strictly practise yam, niyam and pretyahar to come to the state of samadhi, but bhaktas ascend to the same state through bhakti(devotion) and maintain the state even in active consciousness (vyuthan).

Bhakti has been defined as samavesh which means direct entrance into the supreme consciousness of Shiva, 'milan' is named as sukhi' and 'virah' is named as 'dukha'. Sukha is perpetual unity with Shiva and dukha is separateness from Shiva. In the lexicon of love-poetry they are usually phrased as 'samyog' 'viyog'. To go to the shelter of Shiva (sharan) is to have unity with Shiva in normal active life. A true bhakta wears the same temper and attitude of equipoise when he is in unity with Shiva or when he is in a state of duality.

The Kashmiri Shaivites as celebrated aesthetes have classified bhakti asrasa. It is a continuous and perpetual source of joy, happiness and ecstasy. Abhakta when in union with Shiva finds himself in the same state of 'anand'which a lover of wine is immersed in. Bhatta Nayak and utpaldev apexing an uninterrupted tradition of 'bhakti' and 'worship' as was prevalent in Kashmir have often used wine as a metaphor. Both are poets of bhakti which, to them, is a rasa that not only intoxicates but also transports to partake of Shiva's consciousness that exudes the nectar of anand.

bhakta establishes a personal relationship with Shiva as his Ishta Deva. He serves Him devoutly as a servant serves his master. The Shaivas consider the relation of a servant with his  master based on 'dasta bhava' as superior to any other relationship with Shiva. He can be His friend. He can even establish a relation of courtship with Shiva. These are the manifold forms of personal relationships that a bhakta can forge with Shiva.

Shiva has a transcendental aspect as well. He is consiciousness Supreme, something that is not tangible. Shiva in His manifest form of Shakti is the subject for Shaiva bhakti. It is the being of Shiva who is chidanand, that forms the subject and theme of the Shaiva bhakti. Neglegible examples of impersonal form of bhakti are certainly available.But, the dominant relationship that bhaktas form with their Ishta-deva, Shiva, is warmly personal.

The Hindu history of Kashmir buttresses the view that Kashmir has been a seat of Shaivism through ages. The plethora of gods and goddesses in the Shaiva pantheon have been adored and worshipped. Temples have been built and consecrated to Shiva, Shakti, Kumar, Ganesha and other bhairavs.People throng to Shaktipeethas for worship. The devotees firm in faith and conviction melodiously sing vedic mantras and Shiva-stotras. The way they worship establishes that there is a fusion of vedas and agamas in the methodology. The worship of Ishta devas and Ishta devis is resorted to ‘deepen the gaze within’.

The worship of a god in a temple has been a standard practice of the Shaivas. Classified as external worship (bahya puja) it has been doctrinally recognised as beneficial to the initiates on the Shaiva path. To develop a mood of concentration and revert the gaze within, an initiate takes to external worship of any form. Such a worship is categorised as 'anavopaya'.By gradual stages he learns the highest form of bhakti and worship which isatmabhakti and 'atma puja'.

Bhakti in Lalla Ded Vakh

No right thinking person can dispute the status of Lalla Ded as Shaiva yogini. She took the Shaiva-praxis to recognise her essential worth as Shiva. Lalla Ded was a bhaktin too, who is consensually ranked with great bhaktas like guru Nanak, Sant Kabir, Meera Bhai, Raidass, Tulsi Dass et all. Prof. B.N. Parimu in his monumental studies on Lalla Ded uneqivocally calls her the fore-runner of the Bhakti. Movement in India. As yoga and bhakti are not mutually contradictory to each other, Lalla meticulously practised bhakti yoga. Her self-image as a 'bhaktin' had fortified her against the zig zags and adversities of life and world, and had invested her person with absolute equipoise and equanimity of temper and deportment.

Says she--

bo yod shankar bakhach asa

makris sasa mal kya peye

Lalla Ded had been an ardent devotee of Shiva. When she was a child, she would foot her way to the Shiva temple at Harsheshwar for worship. She continued with the practice after she got married at Padmapur (Pampore). Chanting of mantras and the name of Shiva at the Shiva temples assisted her to gain calmness of mind and concentration too. She took to a plethora of practices till she deepened her spiritual awareness.

As a restless worshipper she joined a guru who put her on a path that could not help her in realising her spiritual yearnings. It is in pain and agony she cries 'abakh chyan pyom yath razdane'. She gained confidence as a bhaktaonly after she got a sat guru, a perfect soul, who awakened her into a new consciousness of a true bhakta of Shaiva extraction.

As a conscious shaivite, well-groomed in the theory and praxis of Shaivism, Lalla Ded had marched far on the high road of bhakti and worship. Under the insightful guidance and initiation of her sat-guru she realised that real bhaktiwas 'atma bhakti' and real worship was 'atma worship'. As shiva is the only subject and we are His emanations, not outside Him, but in Him only, He, therefore, cannot be accessed on the plank of a separate polarity. Bhakti and worship based on a premise that is separate from Him, are not a source to the spiritual recognition of one's essence as Shiva.

Lalla Ded came to a stage in her spiritual journey where she rose above the formalities of formal worship. That is why she stressed the unity of vital-airs with that of pran as pranna as essence of Shiva in life.

Resonates Lalla--


deva vata divar vata

pyatha bon chuya ekvat

kas puzi karak hoola bata

kar pranas to pavanas sanghat

Bhakti in Kashmir Shaivism cannot climax until a bhakta surrenders himself to the grace (shaktipat) of Shiva. This view of Shaivas is buttressed even by Bhagvatgita. Lalla Ded as a Shaiva-Bhaktin burnt away the dirts (malas) and killed her petty desires to arouse the divine volition (Iccha) and surrendered herself to Shiva for grace. Says she--

dali travamus tati

Lalla Ded had Shiva as her personal god. She had forged a variety of relationships with Shiva. She served Him as a servant, made friends with Him and loved Him intensely.

Intense moments of love she sang out her love-lorn song to awaken her beloved within her frame for unity and absolute purity. Sings Lalla--

pota zooni vathith mot bolnovum

dag lalanavam dayi sanzi prahe

lali lali karan lal vozanovum

meelith tas man shrochyom deh

Lalla Ded was a proud Shaiva-bhaktin who as a self-recognised soul harboured a consciousness of unity with Shiva even when she engaged herself in normal chores and responsibilities of world and life.

Pratybhijjna-From Scriptures to Kashmir Shaivism to Lalla Ded Vakh

By Prof. M.L. Koul

THE Doctrine of Pratyabhijjna is a highly significant development in the theory and practice of Kashmir Shaivism. It is neither a school of Kashmir Shaivism nor is it a sub-trend within its matrix. The philosophisation of the vision of Agamas became apparent in the seminal work of Shiva-Sutra authored by Vasugupta, a sage and thinker. The Doctrine of Pratyabhijna graduates the philosophical vision of Acarya Vasugupta to the stature of philosophy proper. HowPratyabhijjna  expounded and interpreted the theory and practice of Kashmir Shaivism came to be the essential philosophy of it. It posed philosophical issues, formulated and conceptualised them, forged a system based on required building blocks and used logic to gell and cement the system. It is apt to say that if Kashmir Shaivism is a system of thought, it is because of the rational approach of Pratyabhijjna to the issues of theory and practice as expounded by Kashmir Shaivism.

Pratyabhijjna epitomises the full thesis of Kashmir Shaivism, its architectonics and architecture and logical exploration of that area of knowledge that subordinates empirical and theoretical learning to the cognition of identity with consciousness supreme or Shiva. Being the Central philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism, it is imprinted with the semantics of a man attaining pratyabhijna (recognition) of his real identity. Oft-quoted upanishadic 'Maha-Vakyas (great sentences) carry a ring of 'Pratyabhijjna'hall-marking the identity of man with Brahman, the ultimate reality. 'I am Brahman' (aham brahmosmi), "Thou art that' (tat twam asi) & "This self is Brahman' (ayam atma brahma) explicitly reveal the identity of self with Brahman. The upanishads are replete with such maha-vakyas (great sentences) which Shaivite scholars of Kashmir and Varanasi acknowledge as'pratyabhijjna maha-vakayas'.

The word 'pratyabhijjna' with its morphological variations travelled to Kalidas, 5th century poet  and dramatist, who crafted an epoch-making drama titled as 'Abhijnan Shakuntalam'. The word 'abhijnan' fascinated a scholar like Dr. Laxmidhar who went whole hog to interpret it as 'pratyabhijjna'. In his doctoral thesis, the Birthplace of Kalidas, the learned writer opines that 'Abhijnan Shakuntalam' is 'the allegorical representation of the philosophy of pratyabhijjna'. In elaboration of his thesis he states that Dushyant, hero of the drama, represents Shiva and Shakuntla, heroine of the drama, represents Shakti. The ring, which is a motif of love, used as a dramatic device is the cause that reminds Dushyant of his marriage to Shakuntala. The same is interpreted by Dr. Laxmidhar as Kalidasa's profound knowledge of the Pratyabijjna Doctrine central to the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism.

The conclusive thesis of Dr. Laxmidhar that the Doctrine of Pratyabhijjna had gained wide currency in the times of Kalidas, 5th century A.D., is not historically credible. The galaxy of scholars from Kashmir led by Swami Laxman Joo Maharaja, Dr. Balji Nath Pandit and Prof. Nila Kanth Gurtu are on terra firma of history when they place Acarya Vasugupta in the second half of 8th Century A.D. It was his pupil, Siddha Somanand, 9th century A.D. who was the first philosopher of Kashmir Shaivisism to conceptualise the seminal idea of 'pratyabhijjna' in his theoretical work titled 'Sivadrshti'. Siddha Somanand, a seer of tremendous erudition, had received the idea of 'pratyabijna' as a legacy from the vibrant Vedantic and Epic sources. It was his feat of genius that he invested the word  'pratyabihjjna' with a lofty philosophical meaning that gradually morphed as the sublime theme of Kashmir Shaivism at the hands  of philosophical seers like Acarya Utpaldev, Acarya Abhinavgupta and a host of their successors in due line of the same tradition.

Besides vedantic and epic sources, Siddha Somanand, was also aware of the Pali version of the lexical word 'Pratyabhijjna' as 'Paccabinna' littered over the Buddhist philosophies that dominated the intellectual landscape of Kashmir for a better part of its history. In the Buddhist lexicon the word 'paccabinna' denotes conceptual knowledge that is recognised through the tool of a sign, symbol or motif. Possessed of an acumen and discernment of a great theoretician Siddha Somanand treated the Buddhist  philosophies incisively and critically with a view to laying the foundation of Kashmir Shaivism indubitably non-dual. Logic is Sidha Somanand's excellence. It is manifest from the conceptualisations and formulations that he has ably framed in his philosophical manual called 'Sivadrishti'. In the annals of Kashmir Shaivism Siddha Somanand has earned tremendous appreciation and recognition as a logician and rationalist par excellence. His approach and premis have always been preferred to the mystical treatment that Ksemaraj, a worthy pupil of Bhagwan Abhinavgupta, has given to the philosophical issues of Kashmir Shaivism. That is why the vibrant Shaiva tradition of Kashmir has not lent much of credence to his work titled 'Pratyabhijjna Hridayam' as a work on Pratyabhijjna and its essential theme.

In his ardent quest of source-materials that led to the evolutionary development of the theme of Pratyabhijjna Dr Laxmi Dhar aptly quotes verses from the Nilamatapurana that amply establish the Pratyabhijjna theme, if not in a philosophical sense, but in a sense that appears akin to the theme of Prayabijjna. In his doctoral thesis 'The Doctrine of Recognition' Dr. RK Kaw has quoted verses in full from the text of Nilamata purana and has aptly evaluated them as 'seed ideas' that served the philosophical fare of Siddha Somanand who transformed them into a full-fledged concept that shaped the whole course of future development in the domain of Kashmir Shaivism.

The high-ranking philosopher of the Doctrine of Pratyabhijjana is Acarya utpaldeva, the celebrated pupil of Siddha Somanand, who deftly built a coherent architecture on the substratum of the doctrine originally conceptualised by his preceptor (sat-guru). Ishvar Pratyabhijjna-Karika is his principal work on the theme of Pratyabhijjna. Written in an aphoristic style he commented on his own 'Karikas' with a view to explaining and clarifying his concepts and 'seed ideas'. This work known as 'Vritti', a commentary, is lost in the holocaust wrought by foreign Sufi-Sayyids on the natives of Kashmir. 'Siddhitrayi', a trilogy of treaises on philosophical issues like 'relation,', 'time and space' and 'Sankhya as a thought model' is a philosophical work highlighting the 'Pratyabhijjna' perspective.

Acarya Utpaldeva is a philosopher, logician and incisive critic of prevalent philosophical systems. He raises issues philosophical, debates theme thread-bare and architects a theoretical structure where in all catergories of thought are cogently synergised. As a seer of exemplary erudition he had comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the Buddhist schools of philosophy, vedantic model of thought, Sankhya and other materialist philosophies. Kashmir Shaivism is a system of thought because of the brilliance of Acarya Utpaldeva as a philosopher having skills in methodologies of debating issues on logical and analytical lines.

In his doctoral thesis 'The Doctrine of Pratyabhijjna' Dr. RK Kaw is all plaudites for Acarya Utpaldeva for his remarkable originality of 'systematising the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism' which in essentials is the Pratyabhijjna Doctrine.

In his brilliant introduction to the masterly work of Bhagwan Abhinavagupta, Ishavar Pratyabhijjna Vimarsini, Pt. Madhusudan Koul, the then Director of Research Department, J&K Government, writes, 'the object of Utpaldeva was, first, to canonise the new system of Shaiva monism and to establish it on philosophical lines, second, to check the Buddhist in-roads levelled against it and lastly, to popularise the system as superior to the other prevailing systems of philosophy'.

The Pratyabhijjna Doctrine would not have acquired heightened philosophical finesse and sophistication had Bhagwant Abhinavagupta, the doyen of Kashmir Shaiva thought, not expounded it with his scintillating philosophical insight and sagacity. His two commentaries on the Pratyabhijjna philosophy are outstanding contributions to the domain of philosophy in general and to the domain of Pratyabhijjna philosophy in particular. In his 'Laghu Vimarsini' he dwelt on the semantics of Pratyabhijjna and spelt it out to make it understandable to averages. But, in his 'Brahati Vimarsini' he explained and clarified the vital concepts and formulations which Acarya Utpaldeva had neatly delineated on his own 'Karikas', styled in aphorisms, about the Doctrine of Pratyabhijjna.

A long line of Acaryas in the un-interrupted tradition of Kashmir Shaivism enriched and reinforced the conceptual frame of Pratyabhijjna philosophy through their scholarly works, and elaborate commentaries on the theory and praxis of the Prayabhijjna philosophy. New concepts were framed, old ones were subjected to revaluation and re-appraisal and new dimensions were added to the main philosophy of Pratyabhijjna. The theoretical frame was made more comprehensive and cohesive and empirical segment of the Pratyabhijjna philosophy was given a new orientation and thrust. The Acaryas who in deed and word were men of form divine included well-known seers like Ksemaraj, Yogaraj, Jayarath, Sivopadyaya and Bhaskaracarya. The list would remain incomplete if the name of Swami Laxmanjoo Maharaj is not mentioned. His immense contribution to Pratyabhijjna philosophy and its wide propagation deserves separate study and appreciation.

Acarya Somanand on Pratyabhijjna

In Sivadrsti Acarya Somanand refers to the concept of Pratyabhijjna as 'a simultaneous act of perceiving some aspects of a thing and remembering all aspects of it in totality as perceived or cognised in the past' (V 118-120). He morphs the same statement to the level of philosophy for recognition of Supreme Realty of Shiva, the immanence of whom is within the grasp of every ordinary individual. But, the other attributes of Shiva like His omniscience and omnipotence are not within the range of his experience because of the limitations that wrap his being. But, he has heard about these attributes of Shiva from many others within the orbit of his contact who are well-versed in the corpus of scriptures. So, his memory retains impressions of Shiva's inherent attributes other than His pervasion in all objects around the world. The moment an individual perceives one attribute of Shiva through his random observations in the world he comes to remember other attributes of Shiva that are already implanted on his memory plate. In Pratyabhijjna two simultaneous acts of direct perception and remembrance are integrated and unified. Says Acarya Somanand-

tasmat samgraha ekya vastu shaivam vyavasthitam

tatha sumran yogat cha samaryate kim tathavidham

yadrk drashtam drashtata syat athwa jnanam etat

drsta sumanyoke stihe tad-uppadyate

tatha sa prabyabhjjnat sa eva ayam  iti sithiti (Sivadrshti)
Acarya Utpldeva on Pratyabhjjna

In the second and third karikas of Ishvar Pratyabhijjna Karika Acarya utpaldeva controverts the polemics of his critic who is critical of Pratyabhijjna thought by informing him that Maheshvar (Lord) has the absolute sovereign powers of cogntiion and action and is in no need of proofs (pramanas) to establish His being as such. But, a Jiva, who is Shiva only, has forgotten his intrinsic powers of freedom to cognise and act because of delusion (moha-vashat). Pratyabhijjna is to realise his inherent powers of cognition and action which otherwise he has forgotten and thus are dormant or unrealised. writes Acarya Utpaldeva--

Kartari Jnatari sia-atmanya adi sidhe mahesvare

ajadatma nishedham va siddhim va viddeht kah

kintu moha-vashat drshte anupplakshyate

shakhtya avishkarnen iyam pratyabhijjna updashyate

Karikas-2 & 3 IPK

Bhagwean Abhin-avagupta on Pratyabhijjna

Bhagwan Abhinavgupta delineates 'Pratyabhijjna as 'Maheshwar(sovereign Lord becoming) manifest now as it was always so before.'

Writes the Acarya, 'tasya mahehvarasya pratyabhijjna pratipam atma abhimukhena prakashah pratyabhijjna'. After dwelling on two vital words of 'pratipam' and 'abhimukhena', Dr R.K. Kaw concludes that Pratyabhijjna is an act of cognition 'facing oneself of what was forgotten'.

Bhagwan Abhinavagupta makes it amply clear that the recognition of Mahehshvar (sovereign Lord) is not in reality recognition of some-thing that is not already known. In fact, recognition of Maheshvar was within the range of experience but is forgotten (Jnantasya api visumritasya eva chaditasya eva purnah). A seeker in quest of 'atma pratyabhijjna' (self-recognition) is already aware of his innate reality but has forgotten it because of his own deluding powers. He takes that as his real 'Self' which actually is his 'not-self'. When he removes this veil of delusion, he cognises his original reality as Shiva. He is Shiva be cause he in his origins is Shiva. His experience of being a Shiva was already known to him. So, Bhagwan calls it, 'bhat-bhasman anusandhatmika...'

Two Illustrative Examples

Bhagwan Abhinav-agupta has given two examples to explain the concept of 'Pratyabhijjna'.

There is a lady who has been betrothed to a man. She has not met or seen him. She has started loving him and is love-laden. Her fiance, somehow, stands before her and is one among many others. She is unable to locate him, much less recognise him. Finally a man reveals the identity of the one she is betrothed to. She realises that he is her fiance who will be her husband in future. The revelation gives her lots of pleasure. This is whatpratyabhijjna is.

In another example a king has heard of a pandit and his achievements in the Shastras and other segments of knowledge. But, the king has not seen him and therefore does not know him. Another pandit in the king's court fetches him to the court and reveals his identity to the king. Thus, the king recognises his identity as the same Pandit about whom he had heard from many sources. It is also a case of pratyabhijjna.

Pratyabhijjna and Intellectual Knowldge.

Kashmir Shaivism does not discount but appreciably recognises the part that intellectual knowledge plays in the process of Pratyabhijjna. All the philosophers who moulded and structured the philosophical discourse of Shaiva thought have written prolific tomes on issues relevant to it. As an article of faith they hold that all forms of knowledge emanate from Shiva as the source. It is testified by the fact of Shiva lucidly answering all the metaphysical questions posed to Him by His ever-inquisitive consort, Parvati.

Intellectual knowledge gained from diligent studies in scriptures, varied forms of thought and other segments of learning shape the temper of an aspirant, broaden his perspectives on life and world, deepen his understanding of metaphysical ontological and epistemological problems, cultivate his aesthetics, dispel his doubts and deepen his knowledge relating his field of study and more than most, purify his mind for a spiritual awakening. Mundane knowledge though classed as 'apara' knowledge is not rejected as negative but is accepted as a step in the attainment of self-recognition. Though widely accepted as positive yet intellectual knowledge is not in any way what we call self-recognition (pratyabhijjna).

'Pratyabhijjna' can be had when an aspirant removes his crippling limitations that are caused by three 'dirts' (malas) lexically known as anava-mal, mayiya-mal and karma-mal. These limitations shrink and inhibit his inherent powers (shaktis) of cognition and action. He sees things but does not see them in depth. He has perceptions and knowledge, but are limited in range and scope. His limitations get reflected when he perceives the world apart from him. In his basics he is Shiva with all the attributes of freedom, omniscience and omnipotence. But it is the 'self-veiling' act that has reduced him to a 'Jiva' or 'Anu' in Shaiva parlance. Under the initiation and guidance of a preceptor (sat-guru) or through impartation of a 'mantra' or by grace (shaktipat) he comes to recognise himself as Shiva with all his intrinsic powers. It is no sea change or transformation (parinamvad). It is a simple change of condition that makes a 'jiva' or 'anu' to intuit his 'Shiva condition'. He is free from all limitations. He is in close harmony with the outside world. In fact, he intuits all that is outside him as his own pulse of emanation. He experiences Shivahood right in the world as a living and existing individual. He is 'Jeevan mukhta'. As a 'self-recognised' soul he lives an unfettered normal life and with an awakened sense of social responsibility he urges and guides others to prepare for attainment of 'self-recognition'. His condition is that of 'loftiness', 'sublimity' and 'elevation' with a deepened sense of commitment to fellow-beings.

The Theme of Pratyabhijjna

The non-dual Shaivites of Kashmir hold that 'Pratyabhijjna' always denotes and connotes 'atma-pratyabhijjna' (self-recognition). 'Self', therefore, is the genreric theme of 'pratyabhijjna'. 'self' is not the ordinary self of a Jiva. It is identical with the Highest Lord (Maheshvar). In the Bhaskari it is clearly put that 'self' remains established in a Jiva on the basis of self-experience, reason and scripture (evam sva samvedana uppatya agam siddham maheshvar rupam atma svarupam). Maheshvar as the Highest Reality is well-within the experiential range of a Jiva. As he is wrapped up under the layers of delusion or darkness or limited knowledge (mita-jnan), the self comprehends itself as the duality and multiplicity of the world. In Parmarth-Sar Bhagwan Abhinavaupta writes:-

ajnan timir yogat ekam api svam svabhava atmanam,

grahya-grahak nana veichitrena avabudhyat!

'Self' is eternal and self-luminous (sva prakash). It is self-proved (svayam siddha). As all forms of knowledge shine in its light, no reason based knowledge can establish its luminosity (prakash). 'Self' is consciousness, which is free to create the world of objects out of its own essence. 'Self' as such is transcendental and immanent too. As per the Shaiva thought 'Self' through its own absolute freedom (svatantrya), assumes a limitation that causes loss of freedom to cognise and act. A Jiva living in the objective world takes body, breath and ego as his real Self. 'Pratyabijjna' is to cognise his essential nature of Shivahood which he has forgotten under the impact of assumed limitations.

'Pratyabhijjna' as per the world-view of Shaiva masters is knowledge (Janan). But it is not the same knowledge that we take pains to acquire from multiple sources of discursive knowledge. It is the knowledge which in the words of Dr. Kamlakar Mishra is 'an awakening, enlightenment or rising to a higher level of awareness or consciousness'. 'Pratyabhijjna' is the real knowledge as it is knowledge of the 'Self', atma jnan, which is beyond the subject-object dichotomies of the world and is deeply rooted in an integrated vision that perceives everything in the world of multiplicity as its own expansion or emanation. The state of ordinary knowledge is that of limited knowledge or circumscribed vision or awareness. But the state of 'Pratyabhijjna' is that of 'bodh', illumination or enlightenment. Though 'pratyabhijjna' is intuitional, yet it is a sustained intuition, a sustained enlightenment. A self-recognised soul, who is a Shiva, continues to bask in the light of consciousness (bodh-prakash). He loves all humans of all grades and stations in life because he sees them all as his own projection (abhasa). He is the real seer, rishi, acarya above all trivial and tribal affiliations andlinkages, His perception of love is not that of 'obedience' but that of universal variety as is epitomised in the Vedic dictum, 'Vasudaiva Kutumbakam'.

'Pratyabhijjna' is to recognise that the real nature (svabhava) of 'Self' is'Prakash and Vimarsh, which is termed as Shiva'. 'Pratybhijjna' is to cognise oneself as Shiva as that is the stuff of one's being.

Pratyabhijjna in Lalla Ded Vakh

Lalla Ded was s Shaiva-yogini with her gaze rivetted to the goal-post of 'atma pratyabhijjan' (self-recognition). Going through the mill of yogic practices under the tutelage of a prescient preceptor, she had stilled her 'chitta', purified it (chitta samskar) and harnessed all the potentials of her psycho-physical frame to awaken her initiative processes for recognition of her intrinsic nature of Shiva. Through initiation and intellectual knowlege (baudik jnan) she was able to identify the deluding energies that wean away a man from the path of real knowledge and keep him entangled in dualities of the world. Lalla Ded transcended all that symbolises 'not-self' and what remained was her real 'Self' which she recognised as her fundamental essence.

As an initiated Shaivite Lalla Ded was well-groomed in the fact that she was possessed of all the six attributes that feature the sovereignty of Shiva. Yet she was aware that she was unable to act out her inherent attributes because of the limitations that engulfed her total being.

Says Lalla--

yimai shey che timai sheya meya

shyam gata che byan tats

yohai byan abeed che ta mea

cha shyan sami ba sheyi mushyas

When she set herself onto the path of self-quest she fought anger (krodh), greed (lobh) and ravenous eating (ahar) as markers of 'not-self' that distract and disturb the mind (man) of a seeker. Though body is a vehicle for spiritual enlightenment, Lalla Ded discarded the penchant for identification of her real 'Self' with body, breath and subject object apprehensions through intellectual clarity and courses in yoga. Pratyabhijjna dawned on her after the veil of delusion (moha) was cut as-under and removed.

The Shaiva position vis-a-vis Shiva is that He is absolutely free and has no constraints in matters of willing, knowing and acting. In existentialist parlance He can be said to be 'condemned to freedom'. It is out of His absolute freedom that Shiva assumes a limitation and turns into a living individual, existing, breathing, making choices and decisions. Such an act, kriya in Shaivite parlance in no way impairs His absolute  sovereingty or transcendance. In fact, His sovereignity lies in creation. Matya Skakti is His own energy whcih He harnesses at will for this act. Through this energy Shiva forgets Himself only to assume limitation of an individual.

Lalla Ded is in full know of the transcendance of Shiva in which state there are no 'I' and 'thou' relationships, subject-object dischotomies and no ideas to contemplate on. Shiva's transcendance is total equilibrium and quiescence. She calls Shiva as 'sarvakreyi', all-doer. He forgets Himself to get shrivelled into a limited individual

Conveys Lall--

tsu na bo na dheya na dyan

gava pania sarva-kreyi mashith

Lalla Ded had known it as a theoretical tenet, but she realised it thruogh Shaiva-Yoga only to become wise by recognising her own, reality as Shiva. Thsoe who do not know their own essence as Shiva are blind and remain entangled in the meshes of ignorance or limited knowledge.

Says Lalla--

anto dyuthukh kenh na anvya

gayi sath layi par pashith

The limitations that Shiva assumes through His own sovereignty are lexically known as malas (dirts) in Kashmir Shaivism. Three forms of malas wrap up an individual in layers of limitation inhibiting the inherent potentialities of an individual as Shiva. Anavamala, mayiyamal and karma mal impair his divine faculties of 'fullness', omniscience' and 'one-ness'.

As a caged being he lives in the empirical world of name and form. The very empirical life impels him to soar above the dualities of the world. It may be at the behest of Shiva's grace (shaktipat) or sat-guru (shaiva guru). The limitations (malas) that are inhibiting, crippling and impairing are in any case to be curbed, burnt (as Lalla says) and finally removed even to the last vestiges. In fact, removal of dirts is the gate-way of Pratybhijjna.

As an inquisitive seeker Lalla Ded was naturally conscious of her caged existence in the empirical world. Taking that as a reality she took to Shaiva-Yoga trajectory to transcend her limitations. She burnt the dirts coiling her heart and slew her passions through meditating on her own intrinsic Shivahood and as a last act surrendered herself to Shiva's grace (Shaktipat) for removal of 'anava mal'. It earned her name as a 'tapasvini' or a 'yognini' and that remained her identity down the ages.

Says Lall--

mala vondi zolum

kama morum

telli lalla nava drama

Lall Ded cleansed her mind (man) of the dirts (malas) staining it. It shone dazzlingly like a mirror that is dust free. Her clean mind as the plank made her soar into a state of self-recognition (pratyabhijjna). Recognition of Shiva within her microcosmic frame underscores her own condition of Shivahood.

Says she--

makris mala zan chalum manas

ada labum zanis zan

Having realised the mission of self-recognition Lalla Ded is blithe and rapturous. She is all through new as a result of 'bodh jnan' or enlightenment (sva prakash). Her body and mind in complete purity are totally soaked. Her chitta has come to the state of chitti (consciousness divine) and she perceives all objects in the world as her own emanation (abhasa) and all forms of nature in the same way of her own projection.

Says Lalla Ded

Chyath navai chandrama novuya

zalmai dyuthum navam novuya

yana pyatha mea tan man novuya

tana lalla bo navan navai chyas

Lalla Ded's objective in pursuing spiritual path was only to get merged into Shiva, thereby losing her identity as a separate pole. It is also called moksa (liberation) from the pains and agonies of birth and death that ensue because of one's own karmas actions committed in previous lives. Lalla Ded, therefore, was a liberated soul, one who had recognised her essential essence as Shiva and become an inseparable part of Shiva or consciousness supreme.

Says Lalla-

Su yali dyuthum nishi panas

sorui sui ta ba no kenh

YOGA-In Indian Scriptures, Kashmir Shaivism and Lal Ded Vakh

By Prof. M.L. Koul


YOGA is the metaphor of Indian spirituality. It has a history as old as the Himalayan mountain ramparts guarding the civilisational frontiers of India. The statue of a yogi in dhyan mudra as a rare find from the archaeological sites of Mohenjo-daro (now in Pakistan) sufficiently testifies to Yoga as an ancient practice of the ancients. The broad ouever of Indian scriptures from vedas to the epics, to the philosophical Geeta, to the Puranas and all streams of literary works are pregnant with copious references and details that surely establish the enormous antiquity of yoga. Patanjali, a rishi of the highest order, wrote an elaborate treatise on yoga delineating its semantics and mundane and supra-mundane ideals. Patanjali Yoga is ‘more an enunciation of esoteric practices for self-realisation than a frame-work of coherent philosophy’. During its evolutionary process yoga got appended to the Sankhya thought for philosophical anchorage. Being essentially a spiritual discipline all schools of thought accepted it for practical realisation of their purported philosophical goals.

Philologically, yoga as a word owes its origin to the root 'yuj' which means to unite, to join or to hyphenate. Panini, a brilliant grammarian of India, traces the word yoga to 'yuj samadhav', to 'yuj yoge', to 'yuj samyame'.The consensus among the Indian rishis is that yoga implies to unite, to yoke or to hyphenate the individual soul with that of the universal or macro-cosmic soul.

Patanjali, the systematiser of yoga as a spiritual discipline, defines it as suppression of the mind's activities and proclivities (yogash cha chitta-vrati nirodah). It is also called samadhi yoga (yogah samadhi). Lord Krishna, decked as Yogeshvar Krishna, defines yoga  as the fortified capacity of a seeker to keep his poise in face of wordly successes and failures, triumphs and set-backs, favourable and unfavourable events, achievements and losses. Such a temper of firm stability and equilibrium gained as a result of assiduous practice (abhyas) is featured in the Bhagvatgeeta as 'sama yoga'

Yogastha kuru karmani sangam tyakhtva dhananjai!

siddhi-assidhayo samo bhutva samtvam yoga uchyate !!

'yogah karmasoo kovashalam' (Geeta chap. v) defines the entire gamut of human activities performed without a trace of attachment (moha) as yoga.

The renowned sage of modern times, Sri Aurbindo, explains yoga as ‘not only the realisation of God, but an entire consecration and change of the inner and outer life till it is fit to manifest a divine consciousness and become a part of divine work' (lights on yoga).

Yoga is a comprehensive name for all shades of spiritual practices that were/are acted out by seekers at various hermitages presided over by rishis(seers). This is how different treatises on yoga have given varied classifications of yoga. The seminal work on yoga, called yoga-karika,makes a mention of 'eight limbs of yoga' (ashtang yoga). Yoga-sutra of Rishi Dattatreya and yog-raj upanishad, specifically ennumerate mantra-yoga, laya yoga, hatha yoga and raj yoga as four limbs of yoga. TheBhagvatgita mentions dhyan yoga, karma yoga, sankhya yoga and sanyas yoga thereby adding new spiritual practices to the corpus of yoga.

Patanjali's sutra underlining 'eight limbs of yoga' states- 'yam-niyam-asan-pranayam-pratyahar-dharna-dhyan-samadhayo ashtav angani'. Yam means to remove one's mind and other senses from disturbing thoughts.Niyam is to bind oneself to the rules of shauch (purity), santosh(contentment), tap (meditation), sva-adhyai (self-study), Ishvar-prenidhan(devotion of God). Asan means a comfortable seat that a seeker should have while setting himself to dhyan/dharna/samadhi. Pranayam is to control one's breathing process. Pretyahar is to withdraw one's senses from the outer world. Dharna is to fix one's mind on an icon or a part of one's body to increment concentration. Dhyan is self-absorbtion and Samadhi is meditation for God-realisation.

The practices and spiritual goals as conceived and systematised by Patanjali rishi have served as salient guide-lines to all seekers through generations. The yogic body (astral body) from muladhar to sahasrar has had wide acceptance across the board of spiritualists or God-seekers. The ascent from muladhar to sahasrar has remained as the spiritual evolution for a seeker subscribing to any hue of spiritual philosophy. Consensus has been broad. Changes if any have been neglegible and minimal.

Yet, yoga as a subject of theory and practice has undergone gradual evolution without getting mired in the pools and puddles of stagnation. Its idea and idiom have been growing and expanding in scope and application. Many sages, thinkers and practitioners have re-oriented the theme of yogaand re-defined its goals and ideals for widening its range and scope. The tantrics subscribing to a novel pole of theory and practice have considerably enriched the archive of yoga by raising mantra yoga, laya yoga kundalini yoga to a surmounting pedestal. They opened up new vistas in the realms ofyoga  for spiritual discernment and self-realisation.

The historical material that we gather from the pages of Kashmir history affirm that Kashmiri Pandits as Buddhist monks fertilised the spiritual swathes of Tibet, Japan and China through the theme and idiom of yoga. They played an admirable role in weaving the spiritual fabric of Central Asian countries, again, through the praxes of yoga. Smarting under pain and anguish of non-acceptance and persecution at their native abodes the semitised sufis of various hues who entered Kashmir and other parts of India as sappers and miners of Islam highlighted their so-called sufi temper through the same corpus of yogic practices which the Kashmir Pandit monks had effortfully introduced in these countries through inter-active sessions and debates. Even in modern times yoga continues to be a paramount hall-mark of the spiritual heritage of India. It has caught attention of large numbers of men and women beyond the margins of India. Our sages and gurus are more than generous in providing spiritual succour and fare to those who are spiritually hungry.

Yoga in Kashmir Shaivism

As per Kashmir Shaivism, Shiva assumes the form of a man, an individual self, through His intrinisc attribute of absolute freedom (svatantrya). For this, He harnesses His own in-built potency which is Maya. In Shankar Vedant Maya as a category of thought is an independent pole which overtly rivals the sovereignity of Brahman. But, contrary to this, in Kashmir Shaivism, Maya is Shiva's own potency through which He sportively veils Himself to create difference (maya vibhedkarini). Shiva is jiva and jiva is Shiva is a cliched statement in Kashmir Shaivism. Through the sportive act of veiling Himself Shiva assumes a limitation without losing His absolute lordship and transcendence. A Jiva, an individual self, has cramping limitations which reduce his universal authorship (sarva-kartritava), omni-science (sarva-jnatritava), all-satisfaction of universal consciousness (purntava), eternity(nityatava) & freedom and Universality (niyati). In Shaiva lexicon a limited individual is pasu because he is encased and shackled by five sheaths calledkanchukas.

A Jiva, individual self, has a gross body consisting of panch-bhutas, earth fire, water, air and sky. For the maintenance of his whole body pran-Shakti permeates it. A Jiva has also a psychic frame called antakaran that consists of mann, buddhi and ahankar. The existing and living Jiva as a conditioned and limited being is required to realise or cognise his original condition of Shiva and that forms the value. To actualise the value a Jiva, individual self, has to tread upon and work out a spiritual trajectory under the spiritual guidance of a sat-guru. The Shaiva Yoga as a corpus of esoteric practices defines the trajectory for self-realisation which in Shaiva terminology is self-recognition (pretibijjna).

In the realms of Kashmir Shaivism the regimen of esoteric practices has been named as yoga, but has deliberately been qualified as 'Shaiva-Yoga'.The practices which form the warp and woof of Shaiva-Yoga are mostly drawn from the non-dual Tantras like Malini-Vijay, Netra, Vijnan Bhairav and Shiva-Sutra. The Patanjali Yoga that broadly rotates round externally-oriented practices lacks in the critical potential to lead an inquisitive seeker far on the highway of self-cognition (pretibijjna). The very definition of yoga as suppression of natural human instincts and other  in-born urges is not acceptable to the theory and practice of Shaivism. As Kashmir Shaivism is affirmative in its essential world-view it could not, in any way legitimise the practices that somehow violated the very spirit and soul of it. A Jiva, individual self, is accepted as he intrisically is. Nothing is thought of which has to be forcibly thrust upon an aspirant. Kashmir Shaivism, by and large, is a pravarti marg which is for sublimation and gratification of all that which defines an essential man. Bhukhti and Mukhti hyphenate the worldly and spiritual destination charted out by Kashmir Shaivism. The existing world and spirituality of sorts, in its approach and premise, have been reconciled and co-related.

Utpaldev, a scintillating genius of Kashmir Shaivism, defines Shaiva-Yogaas a new and easy-to-practise path (Sughat esh margo navah). His definition is based on the assertion that Shaiva-Yoga can serve common-place house-holders more than a life-negating monk. It is also an easy path because yam, niyam and pretyahar are presumed optional in the process of achieving spiritual destination. Shaiva Yoga is even hesitant to accept the status and fruitfulness of Samadhi-Yoga as its well-defined parameters evaluate it as 'a superior-type of dream-less state of sleep' (sushupti).

Contrary to Patanjali Yoga, Shaiva-Yoga directly shoots at the distant stars. It prompts a seeker to commence his spiritual journey with the highest practice which in Shaiva-Yoga is anupaya, a path-less path. It is called anupaya because it does not delineate a trajectory to recognise one's innate nature of Shiva. In case a seeker does not succeed by directly taking to anupaya, he can take a re-course to a low-grade practice for gradual ascent by stages.


IN Shaiva-Yoga the guidance of a sat-guru, a perfect soul, is a must. The Shaiva-texts describe a sat-guru as one who initiates, teaches and showers grace (Shaktipat). For the disciple a sat-guru is Shiva Himself. Guru, to Khemraj, is the means to realisation (Shiva-Sutra). A disciple has to be insightful and receptive to what sat-guru teaches him. Sat-guru and disciple are in a relation of identity.

Reason in Shaiva-Yoga is not at all considered as extraneous. Right reason is a real aid in learning and grasping the subtleties of Shaiva-thought. It plays a positive role in cleansing the head and heart of a seeker. Sharp intellect tempers an aspirant for the quest. The world-view that Kashmir Shaivism projects as its essence needs a reason-based comprehension and appreciation.Hence, reason, to Kashmir Shaivism, is a valued asset for a seeker undertaking a spiritual journey.

Scriptures pertaining to the domain of Shaivism and other forms of thought-structures are receptacle of  all the distilled knowledge that has come right from Shiva Himself. As per spand-pradeep 'God reveals Himself through them (scriptures). They are one of the forms in which He, (Shiva) is directly apparent in this world'. The scriptures teach, reveal, delineate and describe what is worth to be sought after. The scriptural knowledge as wisdom has to be translated into experiential knowledge through the Shaiva-praxes.

What is highly significant about Kashmir Shaivism is that it is so inclusive that it does not reject any method and form of spiritual discipline of indigenous origins that helps in the expansion and heighening of consciousness (unmesh) of a seeker. Any method that suits the abilities and psychic-frame of a seeker can be practised to cognise his original status of Shiva. Methods or means are many in number. Their worthiness and usefulness as a tool are determined by the spiritual goals that a seeker pursues. Shaiva-Yoga recognises as many as twenty-four means (upayas). Vijnan-Bhairav is a known compendium of 112 dharnas which can be put into practice for realising the spiritual goal of pretibijjna.

The Shaiva-Yoga has offered 'samavesh' as a new concept that rivals, equals or surpasses 'samadhi' as a supreme practice stipulated in the Patanjali-Yoga. In his voluminous work Tantralok Abhinav Gupta explains that 'samavesh' is mergence of a seeker's consciousness into the consciousness of Shiva wherein he feels that he is omni-present, all-powerful and all-knowing.

Aaveshashcha-svatantrayase sva tad rupa nimajnat !

par tad rupta shamboradhyat shakhtyavibhaginah !!


Again in his commentary on utpaldev's Ishvar-pretibijjna Abhinavagupta describes'samavesh' as the state of turiya or still a higher state of turiyatit.

In Shaiva-Yoga Shambavopaya is the highest practice. In it all mental activities cease and mind glitters without a stir of thought. The seeker with his mind calmed and stilled turns inwards. Inward light shines and flashes. With regular practice such a state is to be prolonged. It results in going beyond the time-space limitations. The seeker with highly intuitive qualities gets a feel of his Shiva-like powers and ultimately cognises himself as Shiva.

'Svatantry-shakhtimevadhikam pashyan nirvikalpameva  Bhairva samavesham anubhavati (Tantra-Sar-Abhinavgupta) .

Shakhtopaya is the second practice that Shaiva-Yoga prescribes for seekers who do not have the ability to take to sambhavopaya. It is based on a regular practice to imagine oneself as Shiva. It dispels all other thought currents that disturb the mind. The act of imagining oneself as God is called bhavana. The regular practice awakens the pure consciousness of a seeker who starts feeling that he has shiva-like powers and potencies. Shakhtopay is based on the element of Jnan (knowledge). It can be called a technique of auto-suggestion or self-hypnotism.

Anavopaya is the last of the practices. It is better known as kriya-yoga because it is based on meditation and other practices. A seeker focuses on an object, an icon, a picture or a part of his body with the impression that it is Shiva or is permeated by Shiva. It helps in purification of thought known as 'vikalp samskar' . All forms of external rituals are included in anava-yoga. Anava-yoga helps in going over to the next stage of Shakta-Yoga.

Yoga in Lalla Ded Vakhs

The general perception that a lay reader of Lalla Ded Vakhs forms is that she was a yogini of the highest order. Being shaivite to the core she had deeply penetrated the spiritual imagination of Kashmiris as a shaiva-yogini. In his voluminous work 'The Word of Lalla' Sir Richard Temple bafflingly characterises her as Shaiva-Yogini on the basis of contents of her vakhs which he has admirably translated into the idiom of English.

What I gather from my diligent study of Lalla Ded Vakhs is that she had first tried her luck with a guru other than Sidda Srikanth. His prescription and spiritual discourses somehow failed to lead her far on the spiritual highway. It was in a vein of sheer dismay that she poured out 'abakh chaan pyom yath razdanay'. Sidda Srikanth whom she calls 'omniscient' subsequently phrased her spiritual evolution through debates and discourses coupled with all grades of shaiva-practices. Her initiation and consecration in the theory and practice of non-dual Shaivism marked her absolute break from hazy spiritual goals and the very manner she conducted herself in normal life and its affairs. 'gora sund vanun ravan tyol pyom'.

The bija-mantra through which Siddha Srikanth initiated her was the vedic symbol oum and Shaiva symbol aham, apparently two divergent bija-mantras, but in a synthesis connoting and denoting the same Reality of Shiva in transcendence and immanence. Lalla sings—

dama dama omkar mann parnovum

panai paran ta panai bozan

suham padas aham golm

teli Lalla ba vachus prakashasthan

Lalla Ded though an instinctive seeker faced a catastrophic crisis in life when her marriage got fractured. As a result, agitation, conflict, despair, anger, anguish and uncertain future must have been the dominant weaves of her mental and psychic frame. She being in critical doldrums could not have direct tryst with the Shaiva path of 'pathless path', anupaya. She could not have begun her spiritual journey even with shambhava-yoga that features the predominance of divine consciousness as a result of stilling and silencing of 'chita'-mind, a pre-requisite for it. Her vakhs affirm and establish that she engaged herself with jap, tap, dhyan, laya and pretyahar as the common place yogic-practices to calm her mind which was deeply agitated and extremelly disturbed. In a good number of vakhs she positively refers to 'abhyas',regular practice of yoga for concentration and chita-samskar (purification of mind), thus enabling herself to go over to other levels of Shakta Yoga and Shambhava Yoga. The intensity of her yoga-practices that steeled her for spiritual elevation is revealed by the vakh:-

mala vondi zolum

jigar (kam) morum

teli lalla nav dram

yeli dala travimas tati

Three dirts, mayiya, karma and anava, are to be consumed and removed in the blazing fire of yoga. Anava mal as such cannot be removed through any form of Yoga. It needs Shiva's unreasoned shaktipat (grace). That is why Lalla Ded says that she surrendered herself in totality to His grace.

Lalla Ded initially was not introduced to the yogic practices. It was her Shiva-guru who introduced such practices to her and over a period of time she came to realise their vital role and efficacy in attaining identity with Shiva. Through practices (abhyas) of controlling her fickle mind and managnig the nerve-plexi Ida, pingla and sushmana and tearing and pulverising the bunch of klesas disturbing the mind she learnt how to jell the alchemy of yoga for spiritual destination of unity with Shiva. Lalla Ded conveys:

Zaniha nadi dal mann ratith

chatith vatith kutith kaleesh

zanha ada asta rasayan gatith

shiva chuya kruth tai chen vopadeesh

Lalla Ded must have undergone sham and dam as very essential practices for making over from anava yoga to other higher levels of yoga. Having steeled herself through vigorous practices she pacified her chita (mind), cleansed it of impurities of distraction, gloom and despair and made over to higher levels of Shakta Yoga and Shambhava Yoga that would ensure her self-cognition. She conveys that Shiva (sahaj) does not need sham and dam for identity with Him. He needs to be accessed and attained through Iccaha which means Iccaha Yoga which is shambhava yoga,sure path to spiritual fulfilment. Lalla says:

sahzas sham dam na gache

yachi pravakh mukti dhar

salilas lavan zan meelith gache

toti chuai dwarlabh sahaz vyachar

The navel-region (nabisthan), technically called kand-pura, is the sun-region where heat glows incessantly. The vital air (prana) rising from navel along pingla nadi is warm when exhaled from nose. The air gets warmed up by the heat glowing at the navel region. Lalla Ded asserts that brahmand is the moon-region at the extreme end of sushmana nadi and is naturally cold. A cold current coming down thesushmana nadi cools the breath carried by Ida during the process of breathing in. Lalla Ded explains the whole process of pranayam in the Vakh as under:-

nabisthans chai prakrath zalvani

hindis tam yati pran vatagat

brahmandas pyath chai nad vohvani

ha-ha tava turun ha-ha tava tot

Lalla Ded is unequivocal in proclaiming that she was born in the world for meditation (tapasya), a known yogic practice of wide acceptance. It was through intense meditation that she attained the divine light of consciouenss (bodh prakash),a state of turiya which is the state of Shiva (Shivahood), She is liberated as liberation while living (jeevan-mukhut) as a perennial state of Shiva-consciousness is beyond the condition of gyrations of life and death. Lalla says:-

samsaras aayas tapsya

bodha prakash lobum shaz

maryam na kanh marna kansi

mara nech lasa nech

Lalla Ded in essence is a Shaiva-Yogini par-excellence. Her varied mystical experiences are, vividly revealed through her prismatic vakhs couched in coherently brilliant language of indigenous origins.

The Reality Of Shiva from Kashmir Shaivism to Lalla Ded Vakhs

By Prof. M.L. Koul

The Shaiva thinkers of Kashmir structured their thought model on the fulcrum of Shiva as the highest metaphysical reality. Shiva is synonymous with consciousness supreme. 'Chaitanyam atma' as formulated by acarya vasugupta invests the Shaiva thought with such a distinguishing feature as marks its divergence from other variants of absolutism. Chaitanyam as drawn from chetna as per Khemraj marks the absolute freedom of consciousness supreme or Shiva to know and act. It is the state of one ness (aham) and in no way impairs the absolute reality of Shiva. Though an active agent in the processes of creation (manifestation), Shiva is perfect, and transcendental. He is self-proved (svata sidda) and needs no logical pramanas to prove and establish His existence.

Besides being svata-sidda, Shiva is prakash, light of luminosity and Jnan, all-knowing, everything known to Him. Prakash also underlines Shiva's transcendence and equipoise in the state of transcendence. Shiva as against Vedanic Sat, Cit, Anand is only Cit and Anand. It is His Kutasth Swarup. His luminosity is His Prakashrupta and Anand is His gushing out (Uchhalan) to act out the vilas (sport) of creation. Shiva has no taints  of limitation and succession. He is beyond Vikaras (deformities). He is the first and the last cause of the manifestation. Prior to His emergence of will to manifest what is inside Him to Himself, the universe with all its diversities lies in Him in a state of submergence. In his monumental work Tantralok, Abhinavgupta conveys the same position of Shiva which is commented upon as—

'sa cha svata-sidda prakashatma parmarthrupa parmeshvar Shiva aiva'

Shiva is not only Prakash but Vimarsa also. Vimarsa as per Dr. Jaidev Singh is the sciring of Shiva's own consciousness. Vimarsa is Shakti, the nature of Shiva. It denotes Shiva's power to act. As per Shaiva texts diamond is prakash, but it is absolutely deficient in knowing itself as prakash. But Shiva knows Himself as prakash. Various names have been given to Vimarsa. It is Kartritva, Swatantrya, and Parashakti. Had Shiva been prakash only the universe would not have appeared. It is because of Vimarsa that Shiva manifests the universe on the screen of His own consciousness. All that we find in the universe is an abhasa and each abhasa is self-expression of Shiva. What we find outside in the universe is inside Shiva only—yadantastad sahir.

The Shaivite monists of Kashmir have taken a different position on theVedanic stand-point of Vivartvad which means imposition of world on Brahman through ignorance (avidya). To justify their non-dual position they assert that Shiva through his Swatantrya Shakti imposes world on Himself through His own maya-Shakti. The Vedantists are afraid that if Maya is taken as the Shakti of Brahman, it means dragging Brahman into the world of impurity. Had they taken such a position of maya as the Shakti of Brahman, their Brahman would have metamorphosed into Shiva of Kashmiri thinkers. Unlike the Vedantists the Shaivites do not negate the world to reinforce the metaphysical reality of Shiva. When Shiva is pure luminosity (prakash), which is the sheet anchor of all abhasas, He is transcendental. When He is immanent in the world, He is Vimarsa. Shiva is an active agent in manifesting the world. He is the first and final cause of the manifested world.

Shiva and Shakti, to Kashmiri thinkers of monism, are not two separate entities or polarities. They are one and only one. When Shiva through His divine will wants to see what is inside Him, He is Shakti. Had he no will power to manifest Himself to Himself, He would have been inanimate and life-less (Jada). Shiva's Swatantrya lies in willing, knowing and acting. Shakti is the potency of Shiva to create the universe. His divine activities are known in Shaiva parlance as His Kriya. Activities of willing, knowing and acting are not His Vikaras (deformities) as is the case in Vedanta. Kashmiri Shaivites take Jnan and Kriya in combination. Their position is not that of Vedanta which holds Jnan and Kriya as two separate categories, one cancelling the other. Shiv is Kriya, the universe that He creates (manifests) is His doing. His Kriya does not taint the purity of His being. Shiva is Maheshwar (Lord), not because of His prakash or Jnan, but because He acts to manifest the universe. His lordship is in His manifestation of the world. Shiva is both transcendental and immanent.

Shiva performs five acts (panchkretya). He creates, preserves, withdraws, obfuscates and showers grace (anugrah). His five-fold acts define Shiva's Swatantrya (absolute freedom). In Svacchand Tantra we have--

srishti samhar kartaram vilai sithiti karkam

anugrah karam devam pranatarti vinshanam

It needs be emphasised that Shiva as the sovereign lord has no compulsions to commit five acts. He has no lag for the filling of which he performs five-acts. He is all perfect and purna. His inherent nature of being purna and perfect gets in no way impaired by His act of manifestation of the phenomenal world. He creates but has no purpose to create. His creation and creative impulse underline his swatantrya to do anything. He creates out of anand which establishes His Vilasa of Lordship (maheshvariya). In his celebrated work Shiva-strotravali utpaldev sings that Shiva steeped in Hisananda imagines diverse objects of the world out of His free-will just forleela (sport). In Paratrimshikha Abhinavgupta writes that the vibration of Shiva's anand is the universe.

'Akul' & 'Kul are two agamic terms that have oft been used to denote Shiv and Shakti. 'Akul' is Shiva who is synonymous with consciousness supreme. 'Kul' is the Shakti that creates the universe. These two terms have come to non-dual Shaivism from Kaulachar that was practised at many places in India .Their meanings have been retained by the Kashmiri thinkers. InParatrimshika Abhinavgupta has extensively dealt with the terms of 'Akul' and 'Kul', one denoting the transcendental Shiva as consciousness supreme and the other as the Shakti of that consciousness tending to create.

Shiva in Lalla-Ded Vakhs

Lalla Ded Vakhs are deeply soaked in Shiva-consciousness. The attainment of Shivahood is her ultimate destiny. Initiated in the Shaiva praxis by her preceptor, Sidda Srikanth, Lalla Ded devotedly and single-mindedly worked out the upayas (methodologiesthat her celebrated preceptor had introduced to her. Her Vakhs lucidly reveal that she is fully aware of the real swaroop of Shiva. She sings out that Shiva is Chidanand, Cit and Anand, Jnan and Prakash. Cit is the consciousness supreme which is the source of life and universe and anand is the gushing out (Ucchalan) of that consciousness supreme. She also sings that Shiva with whom she has to gain identity is Prakash as He illumines in His own light, celestial light and is Jnan as He is all-knowing.

As Lalla Ded was a Shaiva Yogini she has experienced the luminosity of Shiva's consciousness through the relentless pursuit of Shaiva trajectory. She has not just shone in His Prakash as Muslim mystics would in the light of God, but she is an inalienable part of that luminosity and is totally soaked in it. As her Vakhs convey she has intensely felt the condition of getting merged in the luminous state of Shiva's consciousness. She is not merely speculating, but expressing her felt-experience in a language that objectifies that experience, though subtle and nebulous. Being one with Shiva's Prakash and Jnan, His entire mass of divine consciousness, Lalla has risen to the status of one who is liberated while living. She has no confusions and dilemmas of ananu (Jiva) who is tossed about in the dualities of the world.

Lalla Ded sings-

Chidanandas Jnan prakashas

Yimav Chyun tim zeevantai mokhta

vishaymis samsarnis pashyas

abodi gandah shyat-shyat ditya.

Shiva is a creative agent. He can be likened to a painter who delineates the universe on the canvas of His own consciousness. When He creates, He is the Shakti. He and His divine consciousness pervade the universe, whether animate or inanimate. From man to everything living to dead objects have immanence of Shiva. He is not like a monotheistic God who creates the world and leaves it alone. The creator and the created never meet. Shiva is present in everything living or non-living. As an ultimate destiny everything finds its resting place in Shiva's consciousness supreme. Lalla Ded says:-

Gagan Chaya Bhutal Chay

Chay Dyan Pawan Ta Rath

Lalla Ded knows the inherent nature of Shiva, who is anahat, pranav, unhindered sound of oum, kha-swarup, shunyalia, aham, I consciousness, bindu and nada and as pure consciousness has no name and form, caste, colour and gotra. Lalla Ded is aware of the trajectory that she has to warily follow to attain emergence into the pure consciousness of Shiva, wherein the stir of creativity lies undifferentiated from the vast ocean of that consciousness. As an initiate she has to practise pran-apan to pacify her chitta (mind) from kshob (disturbance) brought about by currents and cross-currents of diverse thoughts. She has to pass through states where there will be a void or support-lessness and also flashes of illuminating consciousness uplifting her from the crippling limitations that have bound her as a jiva. Shiv, to her, is the only deity that qualifies to ride the 'trigunatmac' horse as put in the allegory.

Lalla Ded’s Shiva is-

anahat kha-swarup shunyalia

yas nav na varan na guthur na raef

aham vimarasa nada bindai von

sui deeva ashwa war chyadyas

Lalla Ded is in full know of her human condition. She is a Jiva beset with enormous web of limitations. Her Shiva has six attributes which He can harness at His mere will with nothing to restrain Him. He has the attributes of sovereign power (maheshwariya), omnipotence (sarva-kartritva), Omniscience (sarvajnatritva), all-inclusiveness (purnatva) eternality (nityatva), and all-pervasiveness (vyapaktva). What essentially distinguishes her from Shiva is that  He masters His in-built attributes while she is in a state of servitude to the limitations that have enmeshed her.

Lalla Ded pours out-

yimai sheya chya timai sheya meya

shamgala chaya byan tatis

yohai byan abeeda chya ta meya

chya shyan sami ba sheyi mushis

Shiva is transcendetal, beyond the confines of time and space, but He is equally immanent, present in everything He incessantly creates on the screen of His own consciousness. His is not the case of a semitic God who creates the world and withdraws from it for fear of losing His unity. Shiva creates all the world of animates and equally creates the world of inanimates. A dead stone also has the spark of His creative consciousness, but the spark is slightly weak. Whatever appears in the world is within the ambit of His all-pervasive consciousness.

Lalla Ded Conveys the immanence of Shiva-

Shiva chuya zavul zal vahravith

kranzan manz chuy tarith kyath

Shiva as prakash or in transcendence is rest, equipoise and perfect equilibrium. He brims with anand (bliss). The canvas of universe that He incessantly opens out and draws in as a matter of sport (Leela) is His garden where He deilghts in the flowers of smell, taste, sight, sound and touch. The multifarious diversity that Shiva creates is His act of lordliness and it in no way disturbs His poise and tranquility. Lalla Ded as a yogini living in the flowery world of smell, sight et al is so well-poised in her awareness that she sees Shiva in the world, yet beyond the confines of the world as a perceptible garden. She is at a station  where she is absolutely content and joyous having dips in the ever-gushing nectar of Shiva's consciousness supreme. She calls such dips as 'dying' because it is a state of mergence. Lalla Ded sings:-

Lala ba chayan suman baga baras

vuchum Shivas Shakhat meelith tavah

laya karmas amryat saras

tati maras ta karyam kyha

It is a matter of common observation that water as an element under freezing conditions gets frozen into the form of snow and ice. When the sun shines upon snow or ice, it gets melted, back into the state of water. The element of water, the process of getting frozen and snow or ice, though sequentially three in number are essentially one. Water as the basic substance under a freezing process turns into snow or ice. Similarly the fundamental fluid of Shiva's consciousness having a stir of creativity in a submerged condition assumes varied forms under the willing impulse of Shiva Himself. Diversity as we find in the multi-faceted universe is eternally one with the creative consciousness of Shiva. It is an eternal process of opening out (unmesh) and withdrawing in (nimilan)

Lalla Ded sings out-

Turi salil khot ture

himi trai gayi byan abyan vimarsa

chyatani rava bhati sab samai

shiva mai charachar jagpashya

The frightful and ominous clouds of bigotry and intolerance had enveloped the skies of Kashmir when Lalla Ded was treading the native land of Kashmir. The forcible conversions with the aid of Muslim state power had already kick-started. In her trenchant exhortation to the hordes of Sayyid-Sufis acting as sappers and miners of Islam she clamours out the immanence of Shiva and need to follow the path of self-recognition as part of Trika Darshan to see essence of Shiva in men of all faiths:-

Shiva chuya thali-tahl rozan

mozan hynd ta musalman

trukhai chyukh pan praznav

soya chai shivas saet zani-zan

The Concept of Sunya From Buddhism to Kashmir Shaivism to Lalla Ded

By Prof. M.L. Koul

All credible evidences from the annals of Kashmir history establish that Kashmir was a pivotal centre of Buddhist thought and learning. To counter the narrow philosophical positions of Hinyana Buddhism it was in Kashmir that the doctrinal positions and theoretical mould of the Mahayana Buddhism were formulated and shaped out. A galaxy of Buddhist scholars of great eminence who were Kashmiri in their origins or had settled in Kashmir from other parts of India contributed their speculative faculties to the enunciation of the contours of Mahayana Buddhism and enriched its thought-content by shaping out its structures. All concerted efforts were made to disseminate the thought to a number of countries beyond the margins of the native country. The Mahayana thought in its debate of Reality, Soul and Human destiny had marked features of synonymity with the mainstream thought of India.

Mahayana thought over a period of time branched off into two thought divisions of Madhyamik and Vijnanvad. In the pages of Buddhist thought Madhyamik is also designated as Sunyvad because of its core philosophy about sunya. Nagarjun, a great celebrity in the realms of Buddhist thought, founded the Madhyamik school through his work named as 'Madhyamik-Karika. In his seminal work Nagarjun rejects the idea of an object existing or not-existing permanently or temporarily. He as a way out sought for a mean or middle-path. Being an expert dialectician he searched for causes for things that were existing. His postulations were startling as the world for him did not exist and was nothing but void, and emptiness. Things that exist are inherently lacking in substance. Anything that depends on a cause to exist has no existence and reality of its own.

In the words of stcherbabsky, "A dependent existence has no existence, just as borrowed money is no real wealth."

The mainstream Indian philosophical thought was wary to accept the stipulations of Nagarjun and characterised it as a philosophy of voidism or nihilism. All affirmative schools of thought put the thesis of Nagarjun to a scathing criticism and dismissed it as destructive.

It was Dr. T.R.V. Murti who in his highly acclaimed work, Buddhism, gave a new orientation to the very concept of Sunya as propounded by Nagarjun. He forcefully argued against those scholars who had interpreted sunya as voidism, emptiness or sheer nihilism. As per Dr. Murti, Nagarjun never thought of sunya as voidism, emptiness or nihilism. He places Nagarjun's sunya atpar with Brahman in Vedanta, or Vijnan in Vijnavad. Sunya, to him, is a metaphysical reality or a metaphysical concept. As Madhyamik is an absolutism, Dr. Murti calls sunya its metaphysical reality.

Dr. Murti maintains that sunya is a being that lies behind the world of relativity and conditioned existence. As a metaphysical being it is neither relative nor conditioned. He further states that world is sunya because it is relative and has no independent existence of its own.

'Sunyata' is another concept that is popular with the voidists. The critics of voidism understand it in the sense of negation. But, it, in fact, means negation of all views and even its own view.

Despite the wide-spread range of Buddhism in Kashmir, the popularity of Shiva's worship and many broad conceptualisations about popular religion never ceased to be. Being the most tolerant religion of the world religions, Buddhism was never in conflict with other forms of religions and their variegated methodologies of worship. Though a popular creed in Kashmir, Buddhism with its non-soul doctrine and sunya-like nihilistic conceptions failed to appeal to the spiritual impulse of Kashmir. The result was the churning of an affirmative strand of thought that evolved as a reaction to the formulations of the Buddhist thinkers. With Shiva as its core concept the new thought drew upon the philosophies of Sankya, Vaishnavism and Buddhism to weave its own harmonised pattern planked on non-dual structures. As a monistic absolutism it re-cycled old metaphysical and epistemological issues and evolved new approach and premis to yarn its world-view logically and coherently. Sunya as a vital Buddhist concept was appropriated, and was oriented in a manner that appeared absolutely at variance with its original Buddhist trappings and semantics.

The non-dual thinkers wedded to Shaivism put the Buddhist thesis of sunya to a thorough and incisive debate in all its ramifications. What emerges from the contours of their debate is that sunya as a metaphysical concept can be acceptable and accorded the same position that Brahman in Vedanta has. They appear to have no serious objections to place sunya even at par with Vijnan in Vijnanvad. But, they have far-reaching reservations to treat sunya at par with the metaphysical Reality of Shiva who has the pre-eminent attribute of 'Swatantrya', which is perfect freedom to act and know. Because of the attribute of 'Swantantrya', Shiva is 'Chaitanya' and sunya is lacking in this essential attribute. So, they evaluate sunya as a lower level of reality which they are unable to accept as the absolute Reality that Shiva encompasses.

The Shaiva thinkers seriously object to the voidist position of rejecting the world as emptiness or void. The world, to them, is neither insubstantial nor momentary. In their thought-model Shiva pre-exists as a being and Shakti is His becoming and their unicity is the absolute reality. If Shiva is real, so is His Shakti. As per logic, that what is real will generate or emanate real. Real generating or emanating unreal is logically preposterous. The Shaiva thinkers are loud in their assertion that world and objects in the world are real as they are one with the light of consciousness. If they were not to appear or illumine in the light of consciousness, they would not exist at all.

The non-dual shaivites are unanimous is rejecting the Buddhist thesis of monetariness as it reduces all manner of experiences, fleeting and abiding, to mere nothingness. As emphasised by them, the concept of momentariness dismisses all possibilities of making judgments and establishing contact through expression and communication.

In the annals of philosophy it is well-known that no new thought is totally new. What appears as new has ideas, concepts and stipulations from that what is dismissed as old and jaded. The non-dual thesis of Kashmir Shaivism as already mentioned has strands from Shaiva Siddhant of South of India, Sahajyani Buddhism, Sankhya and varied philosophies of Vaihsnavism. Sunya as a concept has been incorporated from Buddhism, especially its variant called Madhyamik. The Shaivite thinkers have modified sunya to reinforce and strengthen their own philosophical positions and fundamental thesis of monism. The Buddhist meanings and trappings of sunya have been totally discarded and given a new orientation in sync with the core philosophy of non-dual Shaivims. The very definition of sunya has been altered as 'shunyam ashunaym iti ukhtam which in translation  means 'shunya is said to be ashunya'. It is not an inexplicable riddle. The definition makes it clear that sunya is not void or emptiness. What we call sunya does contain something lying in a state of total mergence.

The Shaivites translate sunya as 'abhava', which when broken up becomes 'a + bhava' meaning Shiva and world or objects lying in His consciousness. Sunya, to them, is in no case or condition as what the Buddhists call void or emptiness. Sunya is what the Shaivites call 'sad-bhava' which marks the presence of world or objects, but in a state of total mergence.

The following verse explains the Shaivite position on sunya:-

ashunaym shunyam iti ukhtam, shunyat abhava uchyate,

abhava satu vigyeyo yatra bhava layam gata

It conveys that sunya is asunya, not the condition of sunya, void or emptiness. Sunya means abhava (in translation), which again means a state in which objects (bhavas) lie in a condition of absolute mergence (in Shiva's consciousness supreme, the objects are there, but not in their name and form, but in a state of absolute dilution indistinguishable from Shiva's consciousness supreme also called 'maha-vyom'.

Sunya in the vakhs of Lalla Ded

Lalla Ded had a strong theoretical knowledge of the tenets of non-dual Shaiva philosophy of Kashmir. She was fortunate enough to have a preceptor (guru) like Sidda Srikanth, popularly known as Syada mol, who happened to be in the line of the tradition of Shaiva acharyas. Besides theoretical studies Lalla Ded as demanded by the thought itself was initiated in the Shaiva praxis by the same preceptor. As her mystical experiences reveal she was put on the path of higher ascension and had to achieve Sivahood through the Shaiva-yoga which her venerated preceptor had introduced to her dose by dose, step by step.

As Lalla Ded was a Shaiva practitioner she happened to experience some such states where she felt that she neither belonged to the world of objects nor had the spiritual flashes that would have satiated her yearnings of attaining identity with Shiva. Such of her conditions are termed as sunya which every initiate has to experience while working out Shaiva praxis under the guidance of a Shiva-guru, a realised soul.

After rummaging all the available verions of Lala Ded's vaakhs I was able to find out seven vaakhs in which Lalla Ded has made an explicit mention of sunya, a state she had to experience before achieving the state of self-recognition. She was an ardent follower of the Shaiva precept of 'Shivo Bhutwa Shivam Yajet'.

Lalla Ded ardently worked out the Shaiva Yoga, the practices prescribed in it. A situation emerged when the external world appeared to get absorbed in her own self and the imbalance between subject and object appeared to disappear and all got merged into sunya (void). It is a stage in her spiritual evolution and not the situation in which she finally attained Sivahood. She even ascended the state of sunya when she had felt that the world of name and form had risen to absorption. What was left was the state of anamaya which in Shaiva parlence means the condition of supremacy of the luminosity of consciousness supreme carrying the stir (spand) to create and absorb. The experience intensely felt by Lalla Ded has been grippingly conveyed in the vaakh:

‘abhyas savikas layi wothu

gaganas saghun myul samistrata!

Sunya gol ta anamaya motu

yuhuy wopadesh chuy bata !!

Being aware of the entire upanishadic ouvre of literature Lalla Ded has woven a superb allegory to explain the three functions of Param Shiva who creates, maintains and assimilates the universe. For the purpose she mentions Shiva who is the horse, Keshav who is the saddle and Brahma who is the sitrrups. The horse in the allegory is the 'trigunatmac horse' and Param Shiva alone having the attributes of 'anahat, kha swaroop, shunyalai’ is capable of riding it.

Anahat, Kha-Swaroop, Shunyalai, aham-vimarsa and nada-binda have philosophical meanings and need be studied in the light of the thought Lalla Ded was thoroughly cultivated by her preceptor.

As per the Shaiva texts Bindu is the undifferentiated, luminous and eternal consciousness supreme. Nada is the Shakti, the potency to manifest what lies in the Bindu. Bindu expands from Chitta-kala to anand-shakti, Iccha Shakti, Jnan Shakti and Kriya Shakti.

Many unrelated meanings have been attributed to anahat. What Lalla Ded means by anahat is related to Bindu and Nada. Anahat is 'pranav', Om, an unhindered and eternal sound, which is Bindu when in a state of unity with Param Shiva and Nada when in outward expansion.

Kha-swaroop and shunyalai are the attributes of Param Shiva who is beyond time and space and is the abode of sunya which means that in the consciousness of Shiva the world of objects lies in a state of total mergence.

Lalla Ded conveyes:

Anahat Kha-Swaroop, Sunyalai

Aham-Vimarsa Nada Byand Yas Von

As a Shaiva practitioner Lalla Ded merged her two breaths, pran and apan, into the Sushmana-nadi, also known as madhyanadi, which is considered as having a sunya like condition. She realised that the outward world had ceased to be for her and the state of duality was not a reality. In this psychic condition of having broken with the outward world she experienced a new state of having lost her not-self, which till then was under the delusion of taking it as her real self. With his experience as her sheet anchor she felt that the lotus of self-luminosity was about to enfold and bloom.

The following vaakh conveys the same felt-experience:-

Sunyuk madan kodum panas

mea Lalli roozam na bodh na hosh

Vazay sapnis panai panas

ada kami hili phol Lalli pamposh !!

Kashmir thought of Shaiva non-dual is a philosophy of positive affirmation and has in no uncertain terms rejected all forms of asceticism. Lalla as evidenced by her vaakhs has lived a life of high moral values in which avaricious greed, lust and insatiable eating have no place. Greed, lust and indiscriminate indulgence in pleasures of eating signify attachment of an individual to the things that he takes for his real self. That is why Lalla says that vain imaginings are to be abandoned and petty desires are to be slain. It never means that she is preaching for any form of asceticism. Her emphasis is to abandon any form of attachment that encases the real self of an aspirant. Lalla exhorts to concentrate on Shiva, which will pave his way to the attainment of a state where he will get merged in Sunya, a name for transcendental Shiva in which the world and its objects lie in a condition of absolute dilution. The following verse is meaningful in this context:-

Loob marun sahaz vetsarun

drogu zanun kalpan trav !

Nishe chuy ta duru mo garun

sunes sunyah milith gauv !!

Before Lalla Ded achieved her spiritual state of serlf-recognition she had followed many a course to act out their efficacy and usefulness in achieving her destination. She had studied Tantras, especially Bhairav Tantras and the practices prescribed in them. She utilised all her learning from them and took to mantras, worked them out and marched ahead. She felt that what she had achieved through Tantras and Mantras was that she had purified her chitta, limited form of chitti, consciousness supreme. After purification of her chitta, which was there but was free from the disturbance brought about by subject-object relationship, Lalla Ded attained the state of an aspirant, who has attained a loftiness of spiritual hue and is in ecstasy where nothing remains, but her own self stripped of all malas of attachment and duality. She in this lofty state merged into sunya, transcendental Shiva in whom the world of objects remains submerged in an undifferentiated form.

Lalla Ded sings:

Tanthar gali tai manthar motse

manthar gol tai motseyi chyath !

Tseth gol tai kenh ti na kune

sunes sunyah milith gauv !!

Sunya to Lalla Ded has come from non-dual thought of Kashmir, Shaivism which in turn had appropriated it from Buddhist thought. As a superb poet she sang it in vaakhs couching her intensely-felt experiences. Being a philosophical concept, Lalla Ded communicates the states of sunya that she had experienced  during the course of her spiritual evolution. She is a great poet because she makes her felt experiences the stuff of her verse-sayings. Her poetry is great because she is philosophical in what she conveys and pours out.

Aum in Indian Scriptures, Kashmir Shaivism and Lalla Ded Vakh

By Prof. M.L. Koul

Writes Paul Tillich, 'In religion no one can avoid use of symbolism nor should one wish that it were possible to do so. The more lively a religion, the more complex its symbolism has to be, for it is thus it secures what protection it can get against the ever-present danger of literalism which is fatal to the life of any religion'.

Rigveda as the oldest record of human civilisation is replete with its own slew of symbols and motifs that potentially express its broad mosaic of myths, theology, thoughtflashes and religious reflections. Aum is the dominant divine symbol that fully reflects the Rigvedic essence and weltanchuung. It symbolises the reality that has been a deep concern of man since his inception on the earth.

As a religious symbol aum signifies a Reality that is transcendental, omnipotent, omniscient and inifite, yet it suffuse all that is manifest in nature. All Rigvedic gods are nature-gods, representing forces pervading nature.

As per the Indian tradition aum is the first fundamental sound that burst out of the throat of Brahma, the creator, when he began to give utterance to the Vedic learning embedded in His lotus-heart. Aum as the first word is considered highly auspicious (manglik pada) Swami Dayanand Saraswati, a billiant scholar of Vedas, states that Aum is the most excellent name of God. It is composed of three letters, a,u & m which in turn represent many names of God. The letter represents gods like agni, virata, & vishva. The letter urepresents gods like vayu, tejas & hiranyagarb. The last letter represents gods like ishwar, aditya and prajna. The vedic mantras sung in praise of multiple gods begin with Aum as the Divine Reality.

In the Prasnopanishad, the ever-curious Satyakam asks Rishi Piplad an array of questions about Aum, mainly about the merits which a devotee achieves when he meditates upon it. He is told that Aum is an all comprehensive sound-symbol of Brahman, the Reality, that is both beyond the universe and immanent in the universe. If meditated upon as a blend of three letters, a, u & m a devotee will come to behold that Macrocosmic self residing in his own heart.

As per Kathopunishad, Aum is the word that all vedas expound. It is the destination of all forms of meditation. Kath characterises Brahman as the Imperishable and Aum as the Supreme Support. If a devotee knows Aum as the support, he obtains an exalted position in the Abode of Brahman.

Shvetashvatar upanishad says that Aum as an object of meditation will lead a devotee to the destination of Brahman.

Chandoyya upanishad proclaims Aum as an object of meditation. It callsAum a spiritual charm. Brahman is to be worshipped through Aum as a means to attain the Immanent and All-pervading Brahman.

In the Taittirya-Upanishad, Aum is equated with Brahman. It is all and everything (oum iti Brahman, oum itidam sarvam).

In the Bhagwatgeeta Lord Krishna tells Arjuna, who was smitten by serious doubts, that He (Lord Krishan) is the rasa in water, luminosity (prakash) in the sun and the moon and omkar in the vedas (sloka 8, chap. 7). He again tells him that the vedic scholars know the highest Reality as omkar (sloka 11, chap. 8). Lord Krishna also tells Arjuna that a man who gives up his mortal coil while uttering the divine akshar aum & mulling over its embedded meaning attains His Abode (sloka 13, chap. 8).

As conceived by the vedic seers aum has continued to dominate the spiritual and philosophical discourse in India. It remains the dominant symbol that shapes and moulds the broad contours of the Indian spiritual way of life. aumis not just a sign, but a potential symbol which as per Paul Tillich 'participates in the reality that it represents'.

Throughout the chequered history of India and cruel rule of Muslims aum has provided a spiritual succour to the oppressed people and has continued to find resonance in the 'collective unconscious' of the natives of this ancient land.

As a spiritual beacon it has been paving the trail of men in quest of spiritual sublimity for making human life more meaningful and more purposeful on the earth. aum enshrines a sublime value that Hindus assiduously pursue to touch a horizon where any shade of difference between them and the ultimate Reality fades. It represents catholicity, breadth of vision and holistic outlook on man, world and Brahman. It embodies the spirit of ‘vasudaiva kutumbkam’.

Aum in Kashmir Shaivism Despite Kashmir being a mountain-girt valley it broadly was a part and parcel of the territorial and cultural landscape of India. The excavations as Burzhom have authentically established that the Bruzhom man, a pit dweller, was racially and anthropologically a Harapan. It can, therefore, be deduced that Kashmir had a protracted vedic age with its roots bed-rocked in the history and culture of Kashmir. Aum as a valued spiritual legacy dominated the spiritual paradigm and spiritual trajectories in Kashmir. It could not be dislodged from the spiritual pedestal even after some trendsetting Tantric motifs and symbols were introduced by Kashmir Shaivites who wove a perfect network of thought from the strands that had come all the way from south of India to Kashmir, renowned as Shardapeeth.

Despite manifest Tantric foundations of Kashmir Shaivism, the Kashmiri thinkers remained within the ambit of the vedic tradition by showing their absolute allegiance tovedacar and vedic symbology of aum, omkar, pranav. As per the entrenched vedic legacy, the letters a, u & m are deemed as referrals toBrahma as rajas, vishnu as satvas and mahesh as tamas.

A dot (bindu) above aum symbolically indicates Param Shiva or Param Brahma or Brahman transcending the world of sense objects. aum is taken as an eternal, un-hindered sound, anahat nad, ever vibrating in the heart of man. It has been linked with bindhu & nada. when aum or pranav is in a state of unity with Shiva or consciousness supreme, it is bindu and when it expands into manifest forms neel, peel & sukha, it is nada.

Aum is bindu in un-manifest form and it is nada in manifest form. The entire word-hoard (shabad rashiowes its genesis to the eternal, un-hindered sound,aum, or pranav. Aum if taken as para-vak represents universal ideation which is the matrix of all sounds. It as the first sound is not manifest. It remains in a state of mergence in the consciousness supreme. But, it is astir, throbbing and not in a state of stagnation. When the process of ideation begins, it is Pasyanti. It is just a nebulous idea without form. It all happens in the creative mind of Shiva. When the idea takes on a form in His mind, it is Madhyama, this-ness, idea has taken a form. Finally, the idea takes a definite form and shape, it is manifest. It is called Vaikhuri, a manifest expression, gross word in verbal form.

In his erudite commentary on Samb-Panchashika, Khemraj conveys that aum as the eternal inaudible sound throbs incessantly in the heart of man. It is the para-vanifrom which emerges Pashyanti, which is impregnated with form-less words and further expands into other layers of words with forms gross.

The verse reads:-


Aum iti antar nadanati

niyatam yah prati prani shabdo

Vani yasmat prasarti

para shambadtanmatra garbe


Kashmir Shaivism holds that Supreme consciousness or Shiva is beyond the physical world, grants liberation to seekers while living and creates and is the foundation of three vedas and is known as pranava, having a unique-type of self-reflection enabling an aspirant to realise his own true nature (swarup) of Shiva.

The verse reads:-


Yatra aarood trigun upandi Brahma tad bindu rupam

Yogindranam yadapi parmam bhati nirvanmargah

tryi aadhar pranav iti yet mandalam chand rashme

antah sukhshyam bahirapi brahat mukhtaya prapana


Aum, to Jagdhar Bhat, a thirteen century poet-scholar of Kashmir, is the combination of three morases (matra) of a,u & m and is the eternal inaudible sound, which is the matrix of the entire word-hoard and goes on pulsating within the heart of all.

The verse reads:-


Aum iti safurad urasya anahatam

garb gumfitam samast vankhmayam

dandhaneeti hrat param padam

tat sat akhsharam upasahemaha

As per the Kashmir Shaivites the triad of a,u & m refers to many triads of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh; Iccah, Jnan and Kriya; satva, rajas andtamas and subject, object and praman (proof).

- Prof. N.K. Gurtu, Commentary on sambapanchashikha

In his scintillating commentary on Bhagwatgeeta, Abhinavagupta writes that the inaudible word (anahat shabad) that is audible only to the seekers is the nature (swarup) of the ultimate Reality. He equates 'aum' with the consciousness supreme that embodies the universe within its matrix in an undifferented forms.

Aum in Lalla Ded Vakh

Though a Shaivite to the core, Lalla Ded as revealed by her vakhs was initiated into the world of Shiva through the bija mantra, aum, by her venerable guru, Siddha Srikanth. To her, the manifesting word of Shiva or Brahman is aum or pranav (Lord of living beings).

Repetition of the word, aum, was the key that proved efficacious in the processes of concentrating her mind as a first step to march ahead on the spiritual journey that she had assiduously embarked upon.

She was a seeker, an instinctive seeker who meditated upon aum. reflected upon it as the most sacred syllable of the three vedas, rig, sam and yajur and immersed herself in the Shaiva-Yoga praxis to cognise her pristine nature of Shiva.

Lalla Ded was highly aware of the great spiritual significance of aum as the vedic symbol. She had come across aum as delineated in the vedas as the crux of vedic learning and vedic spiritual praxes. She clearly says that she had read only one word 'aum' as the essence of Vedas and then placed it in her mind through its regular recitation with one single-pointedness. To her, aum, was the spiritual charm beyond which she felt no necessity to seek for other means. Aum as a bija mantra metamorphosed her from ashes into pure gold.


Omei akuy achur parum Sui ha malie rotum vondas manz

Sui ha mali kani peth garum ta charum asus sas sapdas sone

Omei akuy achur parum Sui ha malie rotum vondas manz

Sui ha mali kani peth garum ta charum asus sas sapdas sone

To Shaivites aham is the most powerful mantra that leads a seeker to spiritual fulfilment. But, to Lalla Ded, aum is the mantra that alone works for any seeker. She has concentrated and meditated upon it and it is through this mantra that she established a bridge between her microcosmic self and macrocosmic Reality. The fact very well known to Lalla Ded is that the eternal, un-hindered sound, aum, throbs in the heart of every man. What is needed is only to concentrate on it for higher ascendance.

Lalla Ded says:-


Akuya omkar yus nabhi dare

kombuya brahmandas somai gare

akuya mantra yus chyatas kare

tas sas mantra kyaha zan kare

As Lalla Ded has marched upon spiritual path step by step, She has worked out various methodologies at various stages to tune and temper and temper herself to the consciousness supreme. In the course of her Shaiva praxes a stage came when she got merged in the essence of aum, that is Shiva consciousness, and had a feeling that her body got blazed like a red-hot coal. It is a spiritual feeling, quite nebulous and Lalla Ded has objectified it through red-hot coal as a matter of her observation in the world. It is a stage that seekers reach as a result of Shaktopaya. She gave up the six paths ofvarna, mantra, pada, kala, tattava and bhuvan as prescribed in the Shaiva methodology and embarked direct upon Shambhava-yoga (sat marg) for complete mergence in the Shiava-consciousness.

Says Lalla Ded:-


Akuya omkar yali layi onum

vohee korum panun paan

shya vath travith sat marg rotum

tyali Lalla bo vachas prakashasthan.

Guru in Kashmir Shaivism and Guru in Lalla Ded Vakh

By Prof. M.L. Koul

In the annals of Kashmir Shaiva-praxis guru (preceptor, spiritual director) has been accorded a distinguished stature of respect and reverence for the part he plays in initiating and guiding disciples in spiritual trajectories. High-level spiritual attainments and exemplary wisdom alone are the titles of guru. A siddha purusha, a perfect soul, is what guru is. Such a soul alone is qualified to have disciples whose spiritual destinies he shapes and moulds through Shaiva practices or his personal grace (shaktipat).

Guru in Shaiva parlance is Shivaguru or sat-guru. He is Shiva, acts as Shiva or at the behest of Shiva. A devotee or his disciple bows to him in absolute supplication for having set him onto the trail of Shiva and cultivated him into a frame a pre-requisite to recognise his pristine nature of Shiva.

In his highly acclaimed commentary on Shiva-Sutra Khemraj informs that guru is one who teaches Reality or Truth (grinati updishyati tatvikam artham iti guru). He reveals the potencies of mantra to his pupils (sah guru...mantra viryi prakashakah). In spand-karika Bhatta Kallat eulogises his guru for the benediction of ferrying his boat across the ocean of doubts (agad samshai ambodi sam utran tarinam) through his illuminating teachings. In Malinivijay Tantra guru is described as one who fully knows the essentials of thought (Kashmir Shaivism) he is wedded to and throws light on the power of Mantras.

In the same Tantra guru is said to have power of grace (parmeshwari anugrahika shakti). If pleased with his disciple, guru reveals to him all the hidden truth about 'matrikacakra' which exactly as per Shaiva thought is Shiva's manifestation of the universe from the first letter 'a' to the last letter 'h' comprising Sanskrit string of letters.

No knowledge without guru (guru bina na jnanam) is a cliched statement underpinning the vital significance of guru in the attainment of Jnan which is Shiva-consciousness.

Guru as an embodiment of spiritual knowledge and radiance is extra careful of not impinging on the sense of self-worth and self-image of a disciple.

Guru in the manner of a psychoanalyst peers through the mind (chitta) of a disciple, measures his level of consciousness and his intuitive quality to recognise his pristine nature of Shiva and puts him on the highway of quest. A Shiva-Guru is more than aware that his disciple either a 'muud' (inferior in consciousness) or 'su-prabuddha' (superior in consciouenss) has a sense of autonomy.

Without impairing it he cognises it as a positive factor contributing to his spiritual advancement. Keen to awaken his disciple to the inward reality of 'self' Guru replenishes and reinforces all what his disciple has as it is deemed fundamental to 'self' and its cognition. Concerted effort on part of guru is to expand and broaden his sense of self-worth, selfimage and autonomy which are limited and inhibited because of his conditioned existence of an 'anu', a bound jiva.

Shiva guru, even if a monk, assiduously prepares his disciple for the world.

He in no way commands him to robe himself after the manner of a recluse (sanyasin). He tastefully sublimates, refines and tempers the attitudes and proclivities of a seeker for a balanced mind which acts as a receptacle for flashes of Shiva-consciousness. The microcosmic body along with its multiple senses and potentialities are harnessed and not suppressed as Shiva-guru is for affirmative view of life and world. A seeker remains in the world, a meshy layer of dualities, and gains an insight into his original nature of Shiva right in the world. No prescriptions are there to abandon the world and live the life of a recluse.

What concerns Shiva-guru most is that he moulds his disciple in sync with his cultural bequest and cultural setting.

He roots him in the indigenous soil he is a product of and reinforces his linkages with the same roots. His icons are native, his gods are native, his holy places are the Shiva-dhams littered over the whole native place and his world-view belongs to him as a legacy.

He worships water flowing in the vitasta and his logic is not rock-hard as is found in desert cultures. Shiva-guru firmly rooted deep down in his native soil enriches and fertilises the broad swathes of spiritual way of life through his teaching and preaching based on catholicity of outlook and broad values of humanism.

To him, Shiva is world and world is Shiva. It is a philosophical position which shocks the believers of rock-hard logic that narrows the space for pluralistic ways of life and pluralistic ways of thought.

Guru as an expert in the Shaiva academics expands the intellectual horizons of his pupil, sharpens his thinking abilities and leads him with an awakened mind and brain to attain his spiritual destiny of Shivahood. A constant interaction between a pupil and his guru is the mechanism through which the pupil learns about metaphysical issues along with their complexities and intricacies and removes cobwebs of his doubts and misunderstandings and the guru exposits all the fundamental issues of the thought-model he actually symbolises. All the line of Shiva-gurus from Vasgupta to Bhatta Kallat to Somanand to utpaldev to Abhinavgupta and last but not the least Swami Laxman Ji Maharaj have been remarkable theoreticians of Kashmir Shaivism.

Scholarship and Shaiva-Yoga have been two facets of all the Shiva-gurus. Jnan (knowledge) and self-recognition (spirituality), to them, have not been dichotomous.

Shiva-guru is essentially a man of culture. His aesthetic faculties are sharp and tempered. Invested with profound knowledge of the whole spectrum of heritage he revitalises and refurbishes it through an interactive process of imbibing and interriorising the reigning values and critically analysing and evaluating them. Revitalisation and perpetuation of the contours of native culture is the leit motif of a Shiva-guru.

Abhinavgupta, a profile thinker and siddha purusha was an exemplary aesthete.

Having thoroughly studied aesthetics as a component of the extensive mosaic of Indian culture at the lotus feet of his erudite guru, Tota Bhatt, he made a precious contribution to the realms of aesthetics through his path-breaking commentary on Anandvardhan's 'Dwanyalok' from a Shaivite perspective.

Guru, in sum, is an aesthete and deals with the finer stuff of beauty. Most of the Shiva-gurus have been deep-set lovers of music, drama, dance and poetry and used them as resource to share the finest aesthetics of Shiva as the source of beauty.

Much like six systems of Indian philosophy Kashmir Shaivism is not only a logically structured model of thought but also contains a whole range of practices for the realisation of spiritual destiny of a seeker. Shaiva-Yoga what Kashmiri Shaivites call it is a regimen of practices for all types of seekers having individual differences. Guidance and initiation of an accomplished Shivaguru or satguru is a must for all types of seekers at various levels of consciousness.

Shiva-guru unhesitatingly showers grace (shakhtipat) on an aspirant who is extremely awake and has inituitive ability to recognise his real swaroop (nature) of Shiva. His mere look at the aspirant works as an alchemy that melts his dross (malas) encasing him and frees him from knots and complexes that bind him as an 'anu' or 'pasu'. Guru's grace on such an aspirant is without reason and logic and totally un-asked for. Guru's shakhtipat (grace) on an aspirant means his mergence (samavesh) into Shivaconsciousness.

Such grace for Shivaconsciousness is known as 'Shambhva' methodology. Khemraj puts in his commentary on Shiva-Sutra-akinchit chintakasya guruna pratibodhata Jayate yah samavesha shambhava asau udahritah Deficient in inspiraion and intiative faculty Shiv-Guru puts such an aspirant to a regular and uninterrupted practice of knowing his innate reality. He is taught and directed to imagine himself to be Shiva only and that alone as his reality.

A sort of auto-suggestive technique this type of Shaiva-Yoga is known as shakhta-yoga, bhavanana-yoga or chitta-sambodh yoga.

--Malinivijay Tantra writes.

uccar rahitam vastu chetsa eva vichintayan

yam samavesham aapnoti shaktah so atra abhideyate

An aspirant innately having low level of consciousness and steeply mired in the gross stuff of the world is prescribed anava-yoga. Shiva-guru in view of his deficiences introduces him to a regimen of pranaym (breathing exersises) and dyan, concentration on an icon, a mantra or a syllable. Such practices raise his level of consciousness so as to motivate him for higher levels of methodologies for attainment of mergence (samavesh) into or identity with Shiva.

Guru is a liberator, uplifter and path finder of the aspirants who are intensely motivated to pursue the path of spiritual quest. He Is a crutch to those who are lacking in Shiva consciousness. Guru, more than most, is a vital link between a seeker and his ultimate destination. His relations with his pupil are the same that we witness between father and son. Ved Vyas labelled as 'vishal buddhi' tyPifies guru. 'Vyas purnima' as a commemorative date stands enshrined in the calender of Kashmiri Pandits, which is nearly 5000 year old. Guru in reality is Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh.

As revealed by her treasure- trove of Vakhs it can be said with certitude that Lalla Ded had intense spiritual sensibilities which were tapped for final fruition by her guru, Sidda Srikanth. A name in Shaiva thought and Shaiva Yoga, Sidda Srikanth, was the family guru of Lalla Ded. In the style of Shiva-guru he had continuous sessions of debates and discourses with her with a view to sharpening her philosophical clarity on issues relevant to the Shaiva thought. Lalla Ded flumoxed her guru when she interpreted 'prakash' luminosity, tirth-holy place, 'bandhav'-real kins and 'sokh' a pleasurable feeling in a manner that completely contradicted the views that he harboured on them. It was sufficient to convince Siddha Srikanth of the philosophical mould of Lalla Ded.

In one of her extra-ordinary discourses with her guru Lalla Ded unequivocaly conveys that Siddha Srikanth was a man of omniscience, had recognised his Shiva swaroop (real nature) and was possessed of calm and collected mind. She begged of him to give her refuge and anchorage as she was love-consumed quite keen to merge into the ocean of Shiva's bliss. She also drew his attention to the evanescence of time and implored him to initiate her and others present at the time of debate without loss of time. Says Lalla Ded Syada mali syado syada kathan kan thav kal ava kuthan ta kariv kyaha In a candid vein Lalla Ded conveys that she pestered her guru ruthlessly to explain to her the nature of the 'Nameless' and in the process got tired and exhausted. Then she conveys her impression that the 'nameless' is the source of something (universe) which lies submerged, there in an undifferentiated form.


gwaras pritsham sasi late yas na kenh vanan tas kyah nav

pritshan pritshan thachista loosas kenh nas nisha kyah tam draw !!

There are ample internal evidences available from Lalla Ded Vakhs that she through her regular interaction with her guru, Siddha Srikanth, who is parmeshwar to her, allayed her doubts and misgivings about metaphysical issues and Shaiva-yoga praxes. She implores him to teach her (grinati updishati tatvikam artham iti guru) the secret about pran and apan as to why one is hot and the other is cold though both rise from the same region. says Lalla Ded he gwara parmeshwara bhavatam cheya chuy antar vyud dwashivai whopdan kandpura ha-ha kwa turn ta ha-ha kwa tot Pran and apan are the two lexical words in all versions of Yoga. But, Lalla Ded during the interaction is promped to know about the Shaiva meanings of these two lexical words. In Shaiva Yoga the lexical word 'chandrama' denotes the breath emerging from outer dwadashant moving towards 'hridaya' and the breath emerging from inner dwadashant (hridaya) moving towards outer-dwadashant.

The first is apan-breath and the second is pran breath. The breath moving outside (pranvayu) is naturally hot. It is at the 'hridaya' that apan-vayu halts and pran-vayu emerges.

In the same way it is at the outer-dwadashant that pranvayu ends and apan-vayu emerges. Both pran and apan vayus are the gross forms of the original all-pervading 'pranshakti'.

In his classical work 'Ascent of Self', Prof. B.N. Parimoo has characterised the said-Vakh as a soliloquy, posing the question and answering it herself. But, the author of the write-up after due thought does not agree to the view of Prof. Parimoo. The second line of the Vakh- "bhavatam cheya chuy antar vyud" is significant which surely conveys that she wants her guru to express (bhavatam) his own views on the Shaiva Yoga meanings of pran and apan vayu as he has knowledge about it and knows about it experientially.

Lalla Ded having undergone numerous sessions of discourses with her Shiva guru for awakening and sharpening of her Shiva-consciousness was finally imparted 'diksha' which in the words of Ram Kanth, a noted Shaiva scholar of Kashmir, is a sort of consecration ceremony only to initiate one into the higher life, bestowing on the initiate the boon of self-knowledge and casting away the dirts due to sense of difference (swaroopasambodhadanatmako bhedamayabandha - ksapanalaksansca samskarvisesah).

Lalla Ded had diksha, an initiation through a 'vachan", which means a word (vachak pad) embedded with denotative meaning (vachya). The embedded meaning as conveyed by the line (nebra dopnam andar acheun) is the reference to the senses as shackles (pasa) which are to be withdrawn for attainment of Shiva-consciousness.

Though Lalla Ded has used 'mantra' in many a Vakh, yet in the small Vakh under reference she uses 'kunuy vachun' which is for mantramantra varnatmakah sarvey sarvey varnah shivatmakaha Mantra comprising impregnated letters or symbols are pointers to 'ahanta', I consciousness of Shiva. What Srikanth did with Lalla Ded through 'kunuy vachun' or Mantra was to direct her mind (chitta) to 'ahanta', Iconsciousness of Shiva. In Shaiva Yoga mantra is the main shakhtopaya for selfrecognition (pratibijjna).

The 'kunuy vachun' or mantra deeply impacted her psycho-physical frame throwing her into a convulsion of joy and ecstasy (tawai hyutum nangai nachun).

The vakh reads as

gwaran dopnam kunuy vachun nebra

dopnam andrai achun Sui Lalli gava

mea vakh ta vachun tawai hyutum nangai nachun

The word of Shiva-guru which is mantra, divine power clothed in sound, coupled with the ritual of cleansing of her body and mind with the holy waters of Ganga as the symbol of absolute purity led Lalla Ded to attain Shivahood while in life, thereby conquering the fear of death.

Sings Lalla Ded:-

gwara kath hridayas manzbag ratam

ganga zala navum tan ta mann

Sodih Jeevan mokhtai provum

yama bhayi cholum polum arat

Motivated with a deep sense of responsibility unto others Lalla Ded declaims that absolute trust and faith in the word of Shiva-guru, his mantra, the ever fleeting mind under the control of Jnan (Shivaconsciousness), the outward directed senses completely pacified and calmed are the gateway to final bliss (anand) surmounting the existential fear of death and anybody generating fear by putting a man to death.

Says Lalla Ded:-

gwara shabdas yus yach patch bare

gyan vagi rati chyath torgas yandrai shomith

anand kare adakus mari bai maran kas

The internal evidence of the vakhs does not buttress the view that Lalla Ded's case was that of guruna pratibodtah', generating 'samavesh', mergence into the ocean of Shiva consciousness, characterised as 'shambava upaya'. What I have gleaned from all versions of Vakhs is that her guru had mapped her ascent step by step and stage by stage. She had tried the methodoligies of 'anava yoga' which stress measures like pranayam, concentration (dyan) on some form of icon or any other symbol as suggested to her by her venerable guru and pilgrimages to holy places for purification of mind and body. Because of her deep sense of 'loss and married life pain' as a result ship-wrecked married life Lalla Ded must have deep disturbances (ksob) agitating her mind (chitta). So, taking up the anava methodology was necessary to pacify her mind and steadily she must have been led to adopt 'shakta' methodologies to develop a frame necessary for further ascent of being one with Shiva.

Gurunatha-Paramarsa (of Madhuraja)

By Prof. M.L.Koul

Acharya Abhinavagupta, the great Kashmiri Shaivite philosopher of Tenth Century A.D. was a multi-faceted genius. He made extraordinary contributions to the domain of philosophy and aesthetics. His two commentaries on Isvarpratyabijjna of Utpaldeva are vital to the understanding of Kashmir Shaiva monism, centering round Shiva as an absolute. The Acarya perfected the theory and praxis of Trika as a part of Kashmir Shaiva monism. Many a scholar has nomenclatured Shaiva monism as Trika Philosophy in recognition of his stature as an expositor of Trika. Acarya's many works have been lost as a result of intolerant Vandalism and ravages of time. We still have his numerous works, commentaries and devotional hymns, which establish him as an incomparable Shaiva master.

Abhinavagupta's fame, in his own life time, had spread beyond the purlieux of Kashmir. Many outstanding students and practitioners of Shaivism flocked to Kashmir to learn from him. Madhuraja, the great practitioner of Khandana (:smashing false wisdom) and mandana (:establishing truth), in his 74th year came to Kashmir to become Acaryas disciple. Madhuraja, who belonged to Madhura (Modern Madurai, Tamil Nadu), was a yogi of the Pasupata Sampradaya. In his quest for knowledge, he moved from place to place, carrying no personal belongings except a staff (Dandah), a water vessel (Kamanduluh), an earthen vessel (Karpar) and a patch-work blanket (Kantha).

Madhuraja, author of a number of works, was proficient in prose as well as verse. He was deeply impressed by the Acarya's exposition of Utpala's Sivadrsti, perhaps presented by him in the (now lost) Siva drsti-locana. Two other works of Abhinavagupta, lost to us now, are mentioned by Madhuraja, namely: Pancasika and Kathamukha Mahatilaka. Of these the latter is referred to by Acarya himself in his Paratrimsika, while the former is a new name. Dr. V. Raghavan, to whom we owe the credit for retrieving one of the manuscripts of Gurunatha Parmarsa, identifies it with Paryanta-Pancasika.

Madhuraja looked upon Acarya Abhinavagupta as Daksinamurthi reborn in Kashmir. He has paid a poetic tribute to his guru, Abhinavagupta. His panegyric, Gurunatha Paramarsa, was published by the Research and Publications Department, J&K Govt. in 1960, when late Prof. PN Pushp was its director. Commenting on the forte of the Paramarsa, Prof Pushp wrote, "The pen-portrait of Abhinavaguptacarya in the arcadian milieu of his asrama lit up by his spiritual radiance is so vivid and superb, and gives a convincing peep into the integrated personality of the great Acarya".

The text of Gurunatha Paramarsa, as established by the Research Department is based on two manuscripts -- a) Swami Lakshmana Joo of Ishbar, who copied out the manuscript in 1925 from a Devanagari transcript belonging to a grahasti mahatma of Madras (46 verses) b) Manuscript D. No: 15323 of the Sanskrit College, Tripunittura, Cochin, as utilised by Dr. V. Raghavan in his edition of the work, published in the JOR, Madras (47 verses).

In the two manuscripts, only twenty eight verses are common. Out of the nineteen verses peculiar to manuscript mentioned in (b), only 1-9 verses refer to Abhinava-Bharati, Acarya's celebrated commentary on Natyasastra of Bharata. May be the other ten verses have been drawn from some other works of Madhuraja. Prof. Mohan Lal Koul, who holds deep insights into Kashmir Saivism and cultural tradition of Kashmir has translated 'Gurunatha Paramarsa' from original Sanskrit into English for the readers of Kashmir Sentinel. Below is the English translation -- (The Editor)


Sun Worship in Kashmir

by Prof. M.L. Koul

The sun-god is in essence is a Vedic god and its reverential worship has been widely prevalent throughout including Kashmir. In the Rig-veda we find a web of mythology woven around the sun-god known as Aditi. During the upanishadic era the sun-worship had assumed tremendous significance and the Chamdogya upanishad is replete with references to the sun-worship as it created life and also nourished it. In the Mahabharata the sun-god attained a sweeping sovereign status and in some respects was deemed more significant than most other gods in the Hindu pantheon. The sun-worship was so pervasive that massive temples were built in honour of the sun-god. The magnificent Konark temple, built in the eleventh century A.D. testifies to the importance and prevalence of the sun-god worship.

The sun-worship touched a new height during the reign of King Harsha. In his court, an eminent writer Banabhata, has made a specific reference to Harsha's father, who was an ardent devotee of sun-god and offered its worship as a matter of regular practice. Kalhana's Rajatarangini equally establishes that the sun-worship was prevalent in Kashmir too. As Kashmir had been a crucible of numerous cultural traditions and trends, the sun-god was worshipped alongwith a litany of religious gods and icons connected with Buddhism, Shaivism and Vaishnavism. As per Kalhana, a ruler named Ranaditya as a devotee had built a sun-temple at a place known as 'Simharotsika'. The temple was said to be grand, massive and exemplary in terms of art. He has made a mention of another sun-temple, known world over as Martand. This temple is built on an elevated plateau in natural ambience in the vicinity of Mattan in Anantnag.

The temple was made to perfection by Lalitaditya, who besides being a conqueror was a great builder. Martand as a temple has been evaluated as the 'germ of Indian architecture', which set a trend in the contemporary temple architecture. The temple caused amazing wonder to medieval fanatic Zealot Sultan Sikander, who set up a government department to destroy it by the use of gun-powder. The hamlet of Mattan which has been of great religious importance to the Hindus all over India has been traditionally known as the 'Surya tirth', a place of sun-pilgrimage. After Mattan, second in importance was Kwalkhetra, not far away from Srinagar. Here Pandits would go on pilgrimage for sun-worship and for a purificatory bath to wash off worldly sins. As per Nilmatpurana, there were eight places exclusively meant for sun-worship in Kashmir. The temples built at the places were known as Aryaman Arka, Divakar, Surya , Savitra, Martand etc, all these words are synonyms of the word sun. Kashmiri Pandits still stick to a number of rituals, which are directly related to sun-workshipr


The Kashmiri Pandit scholars who were intimately connected with Dr George Grierson were not at all in agreement with his formulations about the origins of Kashmiri language. There were many other European scholars like Ralph Turner, Joules Block, Stenkonow and George Morgenhtierna, who openly flouted the observations made by Grierson. The fundamental word-hoard of Kashmiri language, its syntax, its noun and verb forms and more than most words related to agricultural processes and names of implements used during such operations owe their origin to Sanskritic word-hoard. Dr Grierson has placed Kashmiri in the Dardic group of dialects and subdialects. These, as per him, are intermediate to the Indo-Aryan and Iranian groups of languages. Stenkonow and Joule Block have placed the Dardic languages or dialects within the Indo-Aryan group of languages and not in the Iranian cluster of languages. Even the very word 'Dard' is itself a Sanskritic word and as a language is a metamorphosed form of old Vedic Sanskrit Languages Chitrali, Kafri, Shina, Kashmiri and Kohistani are the Dardic group of languages,which in terms of linguistics are directly related to Paischachi, which is a recognised prakrit, having a sufficient quanta of litterature.

According to Hornley, Pashachi is a Dravidian prakrit, but Purshotamdeva and Dr Gune as experts consider it a metamorphosed form of Sanskrit and Shaursemi prakrit. It is pertinent to put that Dr TN Ganjoo under the able guidance of Dr RK Sharma, former HoD of Hindi, Kashmir University, has thoroughly researched the subject and established the origin of Kashmiri language to the Vedic Sanskrit. Dr Grierson had colonialist imperatives in distorting the origins of Kashmiri language in a region, which was being eyed by British Imperial government for imperialist designs. Dr Grierson, whose presumptions were accepted uncritically, was equally unaware of the fact that the literature of Kashmiri language pre-dated fourteenth century and references in this behalf, which are of extreme relevance are available from the works of Abhinavagupta, Bilhana, Kalhana.

Philosophy - A Synoptic View

By Prof. M.L. Koul


Be it said in all fairness that philosophy in India did not begin as an independent segment of human investigation. It actually overlapped with religion which to a large extent concealed it under a covering of myths and credos but never hampered it from assuming its bold contours. As is well known, India is a land of multiple and multiform religions that have all long sought support and succour from philosophy to buttress and fortify their essential doctrines and positions. This link between philosophy and religion, not in any way tenuous, resulted in generating new taxonomies of ideas and concepts that enriched the content of religions and also provided a nisus to the process of weaving the warp and woof of systematic thought models. The close inter-relationship between philosophy and religion in India is in no way a matter of weakness on part of Indian philosophy. In reality, the culture and civilization of India, on the whole, have the inspiration of religions behind them and religions have the inspiration and energy of philosophy behind them. To the Western mind, this weltans chung appears to be an anathema and that is how scholars in the west are misled into wrong assessments about the nature of the Indian philosophy. Thinkers in the west are fed and nourished by the Green thought, which in its broad essentials was based on the pedestal of rationalism. Their absolute commitment to reason deters them from placing the Indian thought structure in the category of philosophy. Their categorization of the Indian philosophy is that of religious philosophy in letter and spirit. Karl Potter an eminent scholar of Indian philosophy, is of the view that all systems of Indian philosophy are goal-oriented and hence they be evaluated by standards peculiar to them, certainly not conforming to the standards applicable to philosophy in the west. But objectively speaking, the nature of philosophy in India is not different from that of the philosophy in the west. The Indian philosophers have never repudiated reason, never sealed discussions on the nature of Reality, never taken well-founded beliefs at their face value and never stopped from asking questions about the universe and the real meaning of human existence. True as it is, the Indian thinkers were not mere theoreticians, but, for them, philosophy as view of life was inseparable from philosophy as way of life. Winternitz, colebrook, Neitzehe, Scholpanhauer and many other orientalists had an appreciative understanding of the Indian cultural ethos and their evaluations of the entire corpus of the Indian literature in general  and philosophy in particular are more objective and precious than those that verge on pre-occupied opinions. As in the west, so in India, philosophers were in quest for the ultimate truth and the systems they have structured are as coherent and well-knit as many other systems in the west. Indian thinking is the product of its own milieu and it has to be evaluated as it is. Indian philosophers loved wisdom or sophia, evined a keen curiosity to plumb the depths of atman and its nexus with the world that evolves. The total spectrum of thought processes leads us to believe that Indian thinkers were motivated by an intellectual quest for goals that were metaphysical and spiritual in essence and for  practical realisation of truth. The vedic and upanishade visionaries from Uddalak, Yajn-avalak, Kapil, Kanad, Patanjali  to sankar and off the beat thinkers like Buddha and Mahavir and others possess all the credentials for entry into the famed hall of pre-eminent thinkers.

Religions in India were far from being rigid and dogmatic. They had no set codes to reduce vast numbers of Indian masses to the sheer position of obedience and conformity. They had intrinsic proclivity to allow openness and variety of thinking that led to the formation of a broad mosaic in which each thread of thought merged on the pattern but at the same time stood out of it to attract attention. From a bird's eye view of the broad mosaic of Indian culture, one gathers the idea of a key role that tradition has played in preserving age-old religious mores and also in assimilating any new model of philosophy and enquiry within its ambit and perpetuating its bonds with centuries old thought process without hampering such an enquiry from burgeoning into an independent philosophical thinking. The close nexus the religions in India had with philosophy desisted them in a large measure from ossifying into rigid and lifeless dogmas and tradition cemented the bond between the two without playing the negative role of stunning and stultifying the growth of either of them. Numerous thought proceses with varied approaches and premises to essential problems of life and world have come into being in India and tradition deep-rooted as it has cemented their links with the essential genius of India. Tradition elsewhere has proved reactionary and retrogressive by way of discouraging and even suppressing new trends of thought, but in the Indian cultural model, it has not worked fetters on the wings of speculative thought. Instead it has aided all stirrings in the minds of men towards new horizons of thinking by way of raising a corpus of questions regarding man's existence and the world where he held his being. To hold that tradition in India was always healthy and positive certainly smacks of conservatism and parochialism. But what is significant about India is the growth of regenerative and assimilative movements after every crisis caused by the choking impact of tradition at a time when it proved a hurdle in the development of new thinking processes.

Various systems of philosophy that had their genesis and growth in India are essentially rooted in the empirical experience but most of the systems ultimately find their apogy in transcendentalism. In fact, empirical data and observable facts have been culled and gleaned and utilized as 'building blocks' to structure and construct these transcendental systems. The philosophers in India are in no way contented with the mere analytical explanations of the world process and the mass of data provided by them to the human senses, but they have posed the essential hypothesis of absolute Reality as the creator, defender and supporter of the world. In fact, thinkers in India by and large have a 'metaphysical hunger' to know and understand what lies beyond the ‘elusive and mysterious veil of nature'. They have offered a concept of absolute Reality which is a changeless principle, infinite and beyond the precincts of temporality. Most systems of Indian philosophy pose, discuss and explain the concept of  absolute Reality from their own positions. In fact, these systems are 'insights' affording man ‘sight of the sensible verities’ enabling 'him to understand in the light of reason the super-sensible truth". The systems, in fine, afford a mine of debate and discussion of Reality, which is generally believed to be one of the essential functions of philosophy.

To distinguish between 'Reality' and 'appearance' is one of the commonplace functions of Indian philosophy. Reality is immutable and is the uncaused cause of appearances. Reality in Advait-vedanta is pure, untouched and undefined by appearances. Brahman as Reality in Vedanta is transcendental. But Paramsiva in 'Saivadvaya philosophy of Kashmir is both transcendental and immanent Reality. Brahmana is Sat, cit and anand, away from the gross impurities and defilements of the world of Maya, but Paramsiva is directly involved in the cosmic process. The nexus between reality and appearances have been discussed and analysed from dualistic, dual-cum-non-dualistic and non-dualistic stand points. Reality is being, unchangeable and permanent and appearances are becoming, changeable and immanent.

It is commonly believed that architectonics of philosophy in the west are put on the pedestal of reason. Philosophers from Aristotle to Bertand Russel have never ignored and repudiated the primacy of reason and intellect in their efforts to structure their philosophies and the systems they have constructed are reason-oriented and logic-based. But, contrary to the western standpoint, the Indians do not commit themselves to reason though the systems they have structured provide ample evidence of reason-reoriented analysis and explanation of the empirical data. Liberation or moksa from the bondage and trammels of birth and death is the principal goal they assiduously pursue with a deep sense of faith. Observes Karl Potter, "Pract-ically all philosophical systems view liberation as the highest aim of mankind and Advaita is no exception...liberation consists of release from the process of birth, life, death and transmigration". Puts Dr. Theos Bernard, “Hindu Philosophy does not attempt to train one to discern metaphyiscal truths; it offers a way of thinking which enables one rationally to understand the Reality experienced by self-fulfilled personalities and thereby to lead one to realisation of Truth. In this light philosophy is seen as art of life and not a theory about the universe".


April 2011

A way of thinking which enables one rationally to understand the reality experiened by self-fulfilled personalities, and thereby to lead one to realisation of truth. In this light, philosophy is seen as art of life and not a theory a bout the universe”.

Despite such views and evaluations of Indian philosophy, it can be safely put that Indians have woven philosophical systems that are thoroughly coherent, compact and systematic. They have devised certain physical and mental constructs and also devised concomitant tools to test and verify their validity. If the constructs whether physical or mental are coherently built step by step with a view to erect the edifice, it is not fair to say that Indian philosophy is lacking in logic. The Buddhist philosophy in its broad contours is highly logical. It has set up certain categories which it elucidates and estabalishes by attempting to furnish proofs with a view to prove their validity. Sankhya philosophy sets up two categories of Purusa and Prakriti and elucidates and explains them by furnishing and marshalling sound proofs. The inner logic underpinning the Sankhya system leads it to the stand ponit of pure dualism even if the predominance of Purusa as the ultimate reality is maintained. The Vaishesika system in its essentials is realistic pluralism and has given a scientific analysis of the ‘catalogue of categories’ that it has drawn to establish its fabric. Nyaya as a system is known as taraksastra or science of logic. It gives a logical discussion and elucidation of the problems of perception, inference, comparison and causation. All the systems of Indian philosophy by and large have a spirit of logic running through them and that is why they are not perpetually teetering on the verge of collapse. Each system appears to be a monolith with least visible cracks in it.

It is not out of place to put that the dominance of over-intellectualism and reason in philosophy was challenged by and was not acceptble to the thinkers who in philosophical paralance are called existentialists. Reason, according to them, puts fetters on the understanding of an existing and living individual, who in the classical philosophy of the west, was lost in corrosive and uprooting universalism and homogenising abstractions and generalisations. Most of the existentialists began as Hegelians but finally ended by denouncing Hegal and his philosophical postulates. Fichte, Joseph schelling and Hegel despite differences in their systems objectified thought as reality and equated it with being. Existentialists protested against any attempt to objectify thought and made a willing, striving, suffering and above all existing individual the focal point of their philosophy. The upanishadic seers had put emphasis on and at the same time signalled the importance of self-knowledge (Aatmanam Vidhihi as the supreme wisdom and the same thread of thought is found oft-recurring almost in every sphere of Indian philosophy and religious thought. The entire line of Indian thinking though distanced by mighty time-spaces is in quest, has raised and discussed all vital issues of human existence and human condition. The individual as such is not ignored; instead is made deeply conscious of his essential and inevitable destiny. The Indian existentialism generates from a consideration of life vis-a-vis its ultimate destiny. It also asserts its essential stand point by not accepting the divorce and dichotomy between ‘theory and practice,’ doctrine and life, truth and its practical realisataion. With the emphatic assertion of the supremacy of human mind or self, the Indian thinking raises a protest against votaries of reason, who altogether overlook the fact that human mind has the potentia of soaring to lofty heights of consciousness if and when it is properly initiated and put to the rigour of discipline where reason ceases to have any importance and actually proves a fetter or restraint. In fact, heightening of human consciousness after crossing beyond the trammels and limitations of body and the world is the leit motif of Indian philosophy. Reality as such is not only to be explained and expounded theoretically but it is to be realised and appropriated by heightening the level of consciousness to the point where it has a full and intense feeling of identity with the reality as the only ultimate truth.

The fact has to be recognised that Indian philosophy has its peculiar manner of handling and dilating upon the essential problems of human existence and world. It is unfair to evaluate it by the tools of Fitchte, Kant and Hegel tradition or Erdman, uberweg academical tradition. The reality is that Indian thinking has raised the question of ‘Atman’ according to its own angle of vision’. ‘In the words of Max Muller’, puts Hiriyana, ‘philosophy was recommended in India not for the sake of knowledge, but for the highest purpose that man can strive in this life’. Darshan while discarding the key-hole vision of man presents an uplifted vision of him. It does not only rivet man’s attention on the perceptible world outside him but also acquaints him with and develops in him an awareness of his own mental and spiritual nature by transcending the methods of physics. Darshan, to the Indian mind, is not only a matter of weaving a web of theories and structuring systems, but, more than most, it is essentially a spirit or method of fathoming and experientially realising the inmost depths of one’s own being.

Indian philosophy is not all spiritual. It embraces a broad but chequered history of materialism within its ambit. No evaluation of Indian thinking can afford ignore Lokayat system in ‘a catalogue of the philsophic forces of India’. Lokayat as a system of thinking simply afirms that all is matter. It in direct contrast to spiritualism denies the primacy of spirit over matter. Lokayat is bold and fearless in total rejection of Vedic authority and belief in theism and attaches the greatest importance to the world of senses which was the greatest casualty at the hands of idealists and spiritualists. The principal character of Lokyat system was ‘practical, rather than metaphysical’, teaching utilitariansm and crude materialism in an outspoken way. Being atheists in their approach and premis,

Lokayat thinkers have been contemptuously rejected, but as thinkers, they invested their thinking to denounce theories invested with spiritual aura and grandeur. Lokayat, infine, has raised questions and framed opinions of real import and value. It understands the world from a different angle of vision and furrows a new path by raising new issues and putting them on the pedestal of common sense realism. The statement that ‘philosophy in India is essentially spiritual’ is belied by Lokayat.

Rigveda-as the first written record of mankind is the repertoire of philosophical ideas. It is not a book, but a compilation of books. It records and provides an insight into that hoary past of India of which scanty notices are available. The Rigvedic seers reflect a thinking that in its essentials centres round “religion, myth and mystery”. Most of the hymns of the Rigveda contain germs of thought, hints at guesses of truth and flashes of insights into supreme being. In the hymns questions of perennial significance are raised, but not answered. Ideas as espoused by the Rigveda are not regular and consistent, yet they reveal and reflect a mind that is vivacious, this worldly and down to earth. Observes Swami Ranga Nath Nanda, “In the Rigveda, we are already face to face with the emergence of the life of the mind, the life of thought, not merely in the field of literature, but also in the field of bold philosophical speculation’.

Part III

June 2011


It is the first written record of mankind and its hymns though addressed to various gods contain seed ideas that are essentially philosophic in content. It provides an amazing insight into that hoary past of which minimum or negligible records and notices are available. The hymns underpin a thinking that rotates round 'religion myth and mystery'. Most of them contain 'germs of thought', 'hints at surmises about truth' and 'flashes of insight into the Supreme Being'. In the hymns questions of perennial significance are raised, but not answered. They do not present a pattern of thought that is coherent and consistent, but they reflect a mind that is vigorous, this-worldly and brimming with vivacious life. The Rigvedic seers seem to be opening new vistas into the realms of philosophical speculation by raising meaningful questions about the nature of universe and meaning of human life. The philosophic mood of the Rigveda set the tone and temper for future evolution of Indian philosophy. To Max Muller, 'the Vedas were unique and priceless guides in opening before us tombs of thought richer in relics, than the royal tombs of Egypt and more ancient and primitive in thought than the oldest hymns of Babylonia and Acadian poets'.

The Rigvedic gods symbolise nature powers and are anthropomorphic representations of various phenomena of nature. Observes Max Muller, "These gods were the first philosophy the first attempt at explaining the wonders of nature". The gods that are purported as agents behind the natural phenomena reveal the religious consciousness of the Indians in a seminal form. 'The Hymn of Creation' underpins an intense curiosity to probe the ultimate origin of the universe. It radiates a consciousness that swings between 'being' and 'non-being' and reveals a mood of wonderment at the prospect of cosmos and underpins a reflective seriousness to know the origins of it.


The Upanishads as texts of Indian wisdom have attracted the deep attention of thinkers and scholars of all shades and persuasions. To Schopenhaur, they were the products of the highest wisdom and as such were 'the solace of his life and solace of his death'. But, to Max Muller, the Upanishads contained a heap of rubbish from which fragments of gold had to be extracted. The first encounter that the European scholars had with the Indian wisdom was through the Upanishads. They were baffled and dazzled. With a view to downgrading their importance in terms of philosophy most of them came out with irrelevant appraisals lacking in historical perspective. An Indian scholar, Ranade, evaluated the available texts from a historical stand-point without taking them as excellent and flawless bits of human wisdom.

The Upanishads, in fact, mark the burgeoning of the seeds that were sown in the garden-bed of Rigveda in particular and other Vedas in general. Among other connotations the Upanishads imply 'rahasya' or secret or esoteric predilections. The Vedic texts had emphasised 'sacerdotalism' and 'complexus of ceremonies'. But, the Upanishads emerged as a protest against these ritual crafts and marked a milestone towards 'deepening inwardness'. Seriously doubting the utility and purpose of sacrifices and rituals, the Upanishads fixed their accent of emphasis on 'Atman' or self, a region deeper and vaster than the external world. 'Sacerdotalism' with its barren-ness and superfluity had misled spiritual aspirants from the region of inner world as a locus of probing and fathoming. 'Quest within' is the cardinal principle of Upanishads ruminations. Lacking in an integrated frame, the Upanishadic are interspersed with 'flashes of insight' and 'gems of thought'. They impacted the entire Indian stream of culture and thought and more than most the trends of thought outside the purlieux of India.

As per the Upanishadic stipulations, Atman as self or soul is the fundamental essence of man. It originally meant 'breath' but subsequently donned another layer of meaning signifying everything from gross body to the finest principle underlying the existence of man. Finally it came to constitute an essential part of anything, especially of man, his self or soul. To Sankara, ‘Atman’ is all pervading, it is the subject and it knows, experiences and illuminates the objects. It is immortal and immutable'. In its profounder connotations, Atman means the self-conscious being within man underpinning the ultimate reality. The Upanishads as a whole explain Atman as the innermost existence and body and mind as 'the trappings that dress reality'.

The over-riding concern of the Upanishads is to probe the primordial source of cosmos. It is this sense of pre-occupation that has motivated the Upanishadic seers to establish an entity called 'Brahman' as the life-breath of cosmosas a whole. The word 'Brahman' is derivable to the root 'brh' meaning 'to grow' or 'to burst forth'. Brahman' is that which naturally 'bursts forth' as world and soul. As per the Taittiriya Upanishad, all existence is traceable to the fount of 'Brahman' is that which naturally 'bursts forth' as world and soul. As per the Taittiriya Upanishad, all existence is traceable to the fount of 'Brahman', 'from which all beings originate by which they are sustained and into which they are withdrawn'.

Though packed with stray and disjointed ideas, the Upanishads have established the spiritual unity of all forms and varieties of existence through lofty utterances of deeper import. The opening verse of Isha Vasya Upanishad posits Isha (Supreme Lord) as the omnipresent reality of the entire creation. The Mandukya Upanishad opens a new vista through the utterance 'This Atman is Brahman'. The same idea is crystallised through the utterance 'Thou Art That' as available in the Chandogya Upanishad. The Brhihadaranyak Upanishad establishes the identity of man with Supreme Truth through its utterance 'I am Brahman'. These utterances are gems of thought and highlight a trend-setting standpoint impacting the struggling minds to free themselves from cold and frigid doctrines of deism. Observes Krishna Chaityna that the current set in motion by these resounding utterances 'flowed to the mystics of Persian Sufism, the mystic logos-doctrine of the neo-Platonists and the Alexandrian Christians, to the radical doctrines of Eckhardt and Tauler".

That the universe functions like a machine is not what the Upanishadic seers hold and trot out. Nor do they subscribe to the view that 'world is a phantom or a mere appearance'. They endeavour to discover an underlying unity, essentially spiritual, amidst diversities of life and world. Man is seen as undergoing a continuous process of becoming with a view to getting identified with ultimate reality. As a seeker he is required to achieve ethical excellence leading to the awakening and fruition of his faculties and urges to share the final beautitude and bliss.


Mimansa as a school of thought owes its origins to Jaimini who found discerning intellects like Prabhakara and Kumarilla Bhat to elaborate and propound his views. Though 'Mimansa' implies critical analysis and investigation, yet it as a system of thought remains stuck in the grooves of Vedic ritualism with its enormous superfluities. To Jaimini and all shades of mimansakas, Vedas are a revealed knowledge and a plethora of commands and injuctions allied with them are eternal and unchangeable. Owing total servility to the Vedas the manner of explicating  issues relating observance of rituals by the mimansakas is downright traditional and fossilised. Performance of rituals is so vital for the mimansakas that it has nearly grabbed the position of God as its ground principle. Despite many a lacuna, the Mimansa has evolved a sound theory of knowledge. It appears that it has accidentally strayed into the field of linguistic analysis through the tools of logic. It also counters the standpoint of the Buddhists and Nayayki as regarding their exposition of language and theory of knowledge. 

To Himansakas, knowledge is 'apprehension that is immediate, direct and valid, not tainted by defects and not to be made invalid by subsequent knowledge'. They stick to the position that no erroneous cause or condition is required to validate knowledge. In fact, knowledge, to them, is self-valid and 'itself certifying its own truth'. To Kumarilla Bhat, knowledge lies in 'apprehending an object only to be set aside by the discrepancies arisen by its non-confirmity to the inherent nature of the object'. To Prabhakar, 'all cognitions as cognitions are valid and their lack of validity depends upon their disagreement with the nature of objects'. Mimansakas are considerably aware of deficient tools that render knowledge invalid.

Mimansa as a school of thought is broadly realistic in its approach to and treatment of issues relating philosophy. The system that it has built is not propped upon the crutches of God. In fact, the agency of God or a transcendent being is missing in it. But doctrines like transmigration of soul, law of Karma and eternal world do provide the strengthening support to the edifice of Mimansa as a thought system. The creation and dissolution of the world does not find favour with the proponents of Mimansa as it conflicts with its basic assumption of holding the Vedas as eternal and revealed knowledge.

Doctrinally speaking, Mimansa is barren and a mis-mash of borrowed view-points from different systems of thought. As a structured system it is so fragile that it comes tumbling as and when authority of the Vedas is questioned or doubted. Mimansa holds that absolute obedience to the Vedas and their injunctions is the definite path that can lead a seeker to heaven as a matter of redemption  from the tangles of birth and death. Ethical life as a tool of salvation is more stressed than that of knowledge or contemplation.


As a separate school of thought Sankhya is a unique development in the annals of Indian philosophy. Its origins can be sought in the thinking moods and concepts that are found enunciated in the Upanishads and epics. The Sankhya as a word connotes 'enumeration' and 'reasoning'. It is enumeration as the system has devised twenty-five categories to reinforce its positions. It is reasoning as it has formulated its positions logically and intellectually.

Sankhya is predominantly materialistic in its exposition of the realities of man and world. Despite its bold and novel doctrinal positions, it has been regarded as an orthodox school of thought. Debi Prasad Chattopadyaya has elaborately exposited the basic positions of Sankhya from a materialistic standpoint. But what makes the Sankhya system as a hall-mark in the realms of Indian thought is its reasoned discussion of the fundamental categories of Purusa and Prakriti and the process of cosmic evolution. The system is so logical and reason-oriented that it knocks the bottom out of the myth created by some Westerners that Indian thought is not a reasoned discourse. Observes theos Bernard, "The Sankhya is the oldest school of Indian philosophy for it is the first attempt to harmonise the philosophy of the Vdas through  reason".

Kapil Muni is said to have authored the Sankya Sutras that are not now extant. Isharkrishna and Vachaspati Misra are the later authors who have expounded the Sankhya positions from their own perspectives. The exposition that they have offered form the substratum of the critical analysis of the system. The available Sankhya Sutras uphold the authority of the Vedas and primacy of the spirit over matter. That the Sankhya system is akin to the Tantric thought and tradition is established by Sankara calling the Sutras of Kapila as 'tantrakhya'. It leads one to believe that the original Sankhya positions were materialistic and atheistic. Jacobi holds the same view but is outright rejected by Dr. Radhakrishnan who observes that Sankhya 'at any stage of its development could never be identified with materialism'. Despite Radhakrishnan's spirited defence of the Sankhya orthodoxy, the fact remains that Purusa is grafted on the system in a manner that it does not appear to be organically woven with the inner logic of the system.

The Sankhya in its basics is a dualism that rotates round two of its dominant categories, Purusa and Prakriti. It stipulates them as two separate and independent categories without any cogency for a meaningful contact or bond. Prakriti is stipulated as beginningless and endless matter constituting the basis of the world of name and form. It grows and evolves as per its own dynamics and does not depend on any external agency to impulse its growth and development. Prakriti is 'absolute, eternal, unmanifest, ever dynamic and imperceptible' and in this state it is known as Mula Prakriti or Pradhan. It is endowed with three attributes of satva, rajas and tamas. Satva is 'static energy, psychological poise', rajas is 'dynamic energy and psychological extroversion', and tamas is 'physical inertia and mental apathy'. Constituting matter the three 'gunas' with their intrinsic energies maintain an equilibrium and 'are inseparably linked and mutually condition one another'. The process of evolution is generated when the three gunas lose their equipoise and get disturbed. The evolutionary process implies change 'which is homogenous and heterogeneous'. The cause for the loss of equipoise of the gunas is inherent dynamism or contradiction.

The Sankhya has delineated a sketch of a yogic discipline or praxis for attainment of release from the sorrows afflicting a man through his  contact with the 'miserable and corruptible world'. There is no concept of grace as it does not sit well with its essential atheism. Redemption or release from the world in the parlance of the system is known as kaivalya.

The Sankhya thought is original, compact, analytical and more that most penetrating. Its impact on the formative processes of other systems has been tremendous and overwhelming. In fact, all systems with rare exceptions have 'filled their husks' with the Sankhya content including its structural elements. The entire corpus of Indian literature from the Mahabarta to the mythological Puranas are replete with they stray doctrines of Sankhya. It has given a comprehensive description of evolutionary processes which are not viewed 'from angles metaphysical' but are based on 'the conservation, transformation and dissipation of energy'. The Sankhya thought has devised 'a theory of matter, a theory of causality, a theory of knowledges and a theory of cosmic evolution'.

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