Languages: Kashmiri (mother-tongue), Hindi-Urdu, English, Tamil.
M.A.; Ph.D. (Linguistics); M.A.; Ph.D. (Hindi).
Professor, Linguistics, Banaras Hindu University- India.
Formerly: Chairman, Linguistics, Kurukshetra University (1996-97); Head, Linguistics, Banaras Hindu University (2005-08).
Taught at: Kurukshetra, Asmara, Varanasi.
Trained at: Kurukshetra, Thanjavur.
Books: Authored-One in English, Two in Hindi; Co-edited- Two Volumes. Edited-Two issues of Bhasha Cintana (Research Journal of Linguistics). Essays and book reviews: Over fifty.
Research Guidance: M.Phil-3; Ph.D: awarded-3, submitted-1, registered-4.
by Raj Nath Bhat
Kashmiri Pandits have been a profoundly religious people; religion has played a pivotal role in shaping their customs, rituals, rites, festivals and fasts, ceremonies, food habits and the worship of their deities. Kashmir is widely known as the birth-place of ‘Kashmir Shaivism’ – a philosophy expounding the unity of Shiva and Shakti. Hence, Shaiva, Bhakti and Tantra constitute the substratum of the ritualistic worship of Kashmiri Pandits on which the tall edifice of the worship of Vishnu (Krishna and Ram), Lakshmi and Saraswati, and a host of other deities has been built.
Kashmir has also been a great centre of learning for several centuries. It hasbeen a major centre of Buddhist learning for nearly a millennium duringwhich period a sizeable number of revered Kashmiri Buddhist scholars travelled as far as Sri Lanka in the South and Tibet and China in the North. The contribution of these scholars commands a place of pride in the extant Buddhist philosophy. Unfortunately, this tradition was brought to an almost abrupt end by the Pathan and Mongol invaders in the 14th century C.E.
Though the advent of Islam produced a clash of civilizations, it also broughtinto being a ‘composite culture’ in which saintly figures (Rshi, Pir, Mot, Shah) came to be revered and respected equally by the polytheistic Hindu as well as the monotheistic Muslim .
This journey through over three millennia has shaped the cultural moorings of the Kashmiri Pandit (KP hereafter) and provided him with a vast corpus of impressions and expressions, which have given him a distinct cultural identity.
Today the KP is on the crossroads, bewildered and baffled, homeless and nameless. His progeny is in a flux, unsure of its morrow and unaware of the traditions that its forefathers held dear to their hearts. This paper records some of the major socio-cultural beliefs, traditions, customs and festivals of the KP with the hope that the younger KP generation will know, learn, and comprehend the essence of KP culture which evolved long periods of peace and turmoil.
Festivals and Fasts
Festivals break the monotony of everyday work and provide the members of a community with an opportunity to feel cheerful, happy and relaxed. Hindu festivals have a deep spiritual import and religious significance and have also a social and hygienic element in them. On festival days people take an early morning bath and pray and meditate which gives them peace of mind and a new vigour.
In their lunar calendar, KPs observe a number of festivals and fasts, most of which fall in the dark fortnight (Krishna paksh). The eighth (ashtami), eleventh (ekadashi) and fifteenth (Amavas/ Purnima) days of both dark as well as bright fortnights, and the 4th day of the dark fortnights (Sankat Chaturthi) are considered so auspicious that people would observe fast on these days.
KP new-year (Navreh) begins on the first day of the bright fortnight of the month of Chaitra. On the eve of Navreh, a thali full of rice is decorated withfresh flowers, currency notes, pen and inkpot, curds, figurine/picture of a deity and (dry)fruits. Early in the morning, the one who wakes up first (usually the lady of the house), sees this thali as the first object in the New Year and then takes it to all other members of the family, wakes them up to enable them to see the decorated thali before seeing anything else. This signifies a wish and hope that the new year would bring wisdom and blessing to every member of the family all through the year.
On the 3rd day of Navreh, the community members go out to nearby parks, temples, or outing spots to enable people to meet each other after nearly four months of snowy-winter. It is a social gathering where men, women and children put on their best attire to get ready for the new year chores. The eighth and the ninth days of the same fortnight are observed as Durga Ashtami and Ram Navami respectively. The fortnight marks the beginning of Spring, an important junction of climatic and solar influences. Durga Ashtami is celebrated to propitiate Shakti to seek her blessing and mercy. The eighth day of the dark fortnights of the Zyeshth and Ashar months are also celebrated with great devotion, when people throng the Rajnya temple at Tulumula (Gandarbal), and Akingam, Lokutpur (Anantnag) to pray and worship Maa Shakti.
The 14th day of the bright fortnight of the Ashara month is specially dedicated to Jwalaji, the Goddess of fire. People in large numbers go toKhrew, 20 kms. from Srinagar and offer yellow rice and lamb’s lung to the Goddess.
Purnima of the Shravana month is the day of Lord Shiva. On this day pilgrims reach the holy Amarnath cave to have a ‘darshan’ of the holy ice-lingam. People also go to Thajivor (near Bijbehara) to pray at the ancient Shiva temple there.
The sixth day of the dark fortnight of Bhadrapada is sacred to women. On this day, known as Chandan Shashthi, women observe a dawn to dusk fast and bathe sixty times during the day.
The eighth day of the dark fortnight of Bhadrapada is celebrated as the birthday of Krishna, the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. On this day people sing in daintly decorated temples prayer songs in admiration of Lord Krishna. They do not eat solid food till midnight.
The Amavasya of the same fortnight is called Darbi Mawas. On this day the family Guru (purohit) brings ‘Darab’, a special kind of grass, which is tied to the main entrance of the house.
The Ashtami of the bright half of Bhadrapada is known as Ganga Ashtami. On this day people go on a pilgrimage to Gangabal. The 14th day of the same fortnight is called ‘Anta Chaturdashi’. On this day the family purohit brings‘anta’ a special thread which married women wear along with 'atûhór', a threaded bunch of silk tied to one’s ear. The ‘anta’ is cleaned and worshipped like a 'Janev', the sacred thread worn by men. The 4th day of this fortnight is dedicated to Vinayak, the son of Shiva. Families prepare special sweet rotis known as 'pan' on this day or during the remaining days of this fortnight. When the'pan' is ready, it is worshipped and the tale of its origin is recited by the eldest member of the family. The rotis are distributed among the neighbours and relations as 'pan naveed'.
The dark half of Asoj is the fortnight of ancestors, pitra paksh (kàmbûripachh). During this fortnight people pay homage to their dead parents, grandparents, great grandparents by performing Shraadha and giving away rice, money, fruits, clothes and other things to the needy.
Mahanavami and Dussehra, marking Lord Rama’s victory over the demon Ravana, fall on the 9th and 10th days of the bright half of Asoj. Episodes from Ramayana are enacted during this period.
Diwali, the festival of lights, falls on the14th day of the dark half of the Kartika month. All the corners, windows, balconeys and eddies of the house are illuminated with lights. It is also believed that Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya on this day and Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakasura; hence, this day symbolizes the triumph of good over evil.
The third day of the bright half of Magara month is celebrated as the day of the ‘Guru’ (Guru tritya). Before the advent of Islam in Kashmir, scholars were awarded degrees to honour their academic achievements on this day (a precursor to present-day convocations). On this day, the family purohit brings a picture of Goddess Saraswati for a new-born baby or a new daughter-in-law in the family. On the Purnima of the same fortnight yellow rice (tåhår) is prepared early in the morning and served as prasad to children and adults in the family.
During the dark half of the month of Posh, the deity of the house is propitiated for seeking his blessings. The deity (dayút) is served rice and cooked and raw fish on any chosen day between the 1st and the fourteenth of the fortnight. On the day of the feast, called 'gàdû batû' , fish and rice isplaced in the uppermost storey of the house late in the evening for the dayútwho is expected to shower blessings on the family.
The Amawasya of the same fortnight is the auspicious day of 'khétsí màvas', when rice mixed with moong beans and other cereals is cooked in the evening to please the 'yaksha' (yóchh) so that he casts no evil on the members of the family. The 'cereal-rice' (yéchhû tsót) is placed at so a spot outside the house, believed to be the yaksha’s place.
The 7th day of the dark half of the month of Marga is observed as the death anniversary of Mata Roopabhawani and the 11th day of the same fortnight is observed as Bhimsen ekadashi. It is believed, that from this day the earth begins to warm up and snow starts melting. The purnima of this month is celebrated as Kaw purnima (kàv pûním), that is crow’s purnima. On this day, the cup of a laddle like object, 'kàvû pôtúl' - crow’s idol (a square front cup made of hay with a willow handle) is filled with a little rice and vegetables and the children of the family are made to go to the upper storey of the house and invite crows to the feast. The children invite the crows thus :
"Crow pandit-crow, cereal- rice crow
come from Gangabal, bath meditation having done,
to our new house, to eat cereal-rice"
Shivratri (herath) is the most auspicious KP festival. Beginning on the first day of the dark half of Phalgun, its celebration continues for twenty three days till the 8th day of the bright half of the same month. During this period the house is cleaned thoroughly for getting it ready for the marriage of Shiva and Parvati on the 13th day of the dark fortnight.
The 13th is the wedding night when watukh, Shiva in bachelor as well as in bridegroom forms, is worshipped along with the bride Parvati, Kapaliks,Shaligram till late in the night. Watukh, that is, ‘Shiva’s marriage party, is worshipped for four days, upto the 1st day of the bright half of the month. On this day, watukh is cleaned (parmùzún / parimarjan) of all the flower petals etc. at a tap in the compound of the house. Then it is taken back into the house where the eldest lady of the house bolts the entrance-door from inside. The members carrying the watukh knock at the door and the following exchange of words takes place :
... and so on.
At the end of the watakh puja Shivratri prasad in the form of kernels of walnut and roti made from rice flour is distributed amongst neighbours and relatives. The distribution of the prasad is completed before the 8th day of the bright half.
The 11th day of the bright fortnight marks the beginning of sònth (Spring). On the eve of sònth, a thali full of rice is decorated as on the new-year eve to be seen as the first thing on the morning of ekadashi.
Rituals and Rites
The domestic rites and rituals among the Hindus are popularly known asKarma and Sanskara. In the form of Karmas they are cherished as programmes of duty to be observed by all householders and as Sanskaras, these enable the devotee to make their observance rhythmical. The rites and rituals serve the external and internal modes of purity (shrùts). Together they constitute certain ceremonies beginning with the Garbhadhaana or the rite of impregnation and ending with the anteshti or the funeral rite includingShraddha. These can be divided into pre-natal, natal, post-natal, prenuptial, nuptial, post-nuptial, pre-obituary, obituary, and post-obituary.
Hindu marriage is not a social contract but a religious institution, a sacrament in which besides the bride and the groom, there is a spiritual or divine element on which the permanent relationship between the husband and the wife depends. The husband and the wife are responsible not only to each other, they also owe allegiance to the divine element. This mystic aspect of Hindu marriage necessitates a number of symbols. The marriage creates a new bond between the bride and the groom. They have to rear up this union by dedicating their entire energy in the direction of their common interest and ideal.
Marriage is possible only between those families which have had no kinship for seven generations on the paternal side and four generations on the maternal side. Once the boy and the girl consent to join as man and wife in a life-long bond, their parents meet in a temple in the company of the middleman (if there is any) and some select family members from both the sides to vow that they would join the two families in a new bond of kinship
This ritual is known as kasam dríy. This is followed by a formal engagement ceremony (tàkh) in which some members of the groom’s family and relatives visit the bride’s place to partake of a rich feast. The party brings a Saree and some ornaments, which the bride is made to wear by her would be sister-in-law. During this ceremony, the two parties exchange flowers and vow to join the two families through wedlock. A younger brother or sister of the bride accompanies the groom’s party with a gift of clothes for the groom.
After this function the two families begin to make preparations for the marriage ceremony which is held an some auspicious day after consulting a purohit.
Several rituals are associated with marriage whose observance begins nearly a week before the wedding day. The bride’s family begins with what is known as 'garnàvay' (literally: get madeup) when the hair of the bride are let loose. This is followed by 'sàtû mänz' (first henna or auspicious henna) when henna is applied to the bride and the groom by their respective mothers and aunts. These rituals are attended by near relatives and neighbours. 'mänzíràt' (henna night) is the first major event when all the relatives-men, women and children in the extended families assemble at the girl’s and the boy’s respective places. This is a night of much rejoicing and feasting. The evening meal is followed by a series of ceremonial acts. Henna is pasted on the hands and feet of the bride and the groom in their respective places and almost every young boy and all women and girls paste henna on their hands and elderly women sing traditional songs. Before pasting henna, maternal aunt (maami) washes the feet and hands of the bride and the groom, and the paternal aunt (bua) applies henna, and the maternal aunt (maasi) burns incence to ward off evil. Meanwhile women, girls and boys sing traditional ditties as well as popular songs appropriate to the occasion.
While the singing, & henna pasting is on, the bride as well as the groom are given a 'kaní shràn' (thorough bath) by aunts and sisters-in-law to prepare them for 'dívgòn', the entrance of Devtas. After the ceremonial bath, the boy and the girl wear clothes brought by their respective maternal uncles. The bride is made to wear 'déjíhòr' - a gold ornament, and 'kalpùsh' -a variety of headgear.
'déjíhòr' is tied to a gold chain known as ‘'ath' which is provided by the groom’s family on the wedding day to complete the holy alliance between Shiva - the groom, and Parvati - the bride.
'dívgòn' is the religious ritual performed after the bath. The family purohit performs a small yajna on this occasion. 'dívgòn', it is believed, transforms the bride and the groom into ‘Devtas’.
On the wedding day, the groom wears a colourful dress with a saffron-coloured turban on his head. He is made to stand on a beautifully made 'vyùg' (rangoli) in the front compound of the house where parents, relatives and friends put garlands made of fresh plucked flowers, of cardamom and currency notes round the groom’s neck. A cousin holds a flower-decked umbrella to protect the groom against evil. Conch-shells are blown, ditties are sung and the groom’s party moves towards the bride’s place usually in cars and other modes of transport.
Conch-shells announce the arrival of the groom and his party at the bride’s place where the lane leading to the main entrance to the house is beautifully decorated with colourful flowers and dyed saw-dust. Upon entering the compound of the bride’s house, the groom is welcomed by traditional songs sung by the bride’s relations. He is put on a rangoli where the bride draped in a colourful silk Saree is made to stand beside him on his left side. There is another round of garlanding from the girl’s relatives. Then the mother of the bride comes with a thali of small lighted lamps made of kneaded rice flour and an assortment of sweets and makes the groom and the bride eat from the same piece of sweet a couple of times. After this the bride is taken back into the house and the groom is made to stand at the main door of the house for a short 'dvàr pùzà' (door prayers). The groom’s party joins the bride’s relatives in a very rich feast. Meanwhile the bride and the groom are seated in a beautifully decorated room for a series of rituals and ceremonies amidst chanting of Sanskrit mantras for several hours with little breaks in between. During these ceremonies, the bride is supported by her maternal uncle. The purohits of the two families recite mantras and make the bride, groom and their parents to perform a number of rituals with fire (agni) as the witness. The boy and the girl take seven rounds of the agni-kund (spring of fire) and vow to live together in prosperity and adversity, in joy as well as in sorrow, till they are separated by death. 'lågûn', as this ceremony is called, is followed by 'pòshû pùzà' (showering of flowers) in which a red shawl is spread over the bride and the groom, held at four edges by four people, and amidst recitation of shlokas all the elderly people shower flowers on the two ‘devtas’. After this ceremony the bride and the groom are taken to the kitchen and made to eat from the same plate.
A 'vyùg' (rangoli) is laid in the compound and the bride and the groom stand on it. Now the bride joins the groom to the groom’s place where yet another rangoli is laid and the bride and the groom are made to stand on it. Here the groom’s party relaxes and the bride is made to wear'ath'', the gold chain which is attached to 'déjíhòr'. Her hair and head-gear 'tarûngû' are tied and she is made to wear a saree given to her by the groom’s family.
After this they return to the bride’s place with a small party comprising the groom’s father, brothers, sisters, brothers-in-law, and a couple of friends. As a member of her new family, she is now a guest at her parent’s place. The groom’s party asks the bride’s parents to send her (the bride) to her family (the in-laws). After a little tea, the party leaves for the groom’s place. A younger brother/sister/cousin of the bride accompanies the party to the groom’s place. On the next day or a couple of days later depending upon the mahoorat (auspicious day), the newly married couple visit the wife’s parents. This visit is known as 'satràt' or 'phírsàl'. Upon reaching the wife’s parent’s place, the man and wife are welcomed with 'àlat' - a thali with water, rice, coins and flowers.
The nuptials in their utterances, promises, and hopes symbolize a great social transition in the life of the bride and the bridegroom. They have to earn their own livelihood, procreate children and discharge their obligations towards Gods, parents, children and other creatures of the world. The nuptial ceremonies these address all aspects of married life: biological, physical, and mental.
During the first year after marriage the girl’s parents send gifts to the groom’s place on a number of occasion in the form of cash, clothes, sweets, fruits, & cooked food. Gifts are sent on the birthdays of the groom, the bride & groom’s parents; prasad in the form of wanlnuts and baked bread etc. on Shivratri (hèrats bòg), fruits, sweets etc. on Janamashtami and Diwali; 'pôlàv' etc. on 'khétsí màvas'; During the month of Magar a special ceremony known as 'shíshúr' is solemnized when the bride is provided with a special 'kàngûr'-a brazier used during winter, and 'shíshúr' (til seeds wrapped in a piece of silk) is tied on her upper garment. On this day, near relatives, especially women, of the groom’s family are invited and the girl’s parents send gifts in the form of clothes, cash, to their daughter.
During her first pregnancy, the girl’s parents invite her to their home, and after a little puja, she is made to wear a new headgear 'tarûngû'. Then accompanied by a sister / cousin, she goes back to her home with milk, clothes, cash, baked bread & other gifts.
On the seventh day after delivery, the mother and the baby are given a hot bath. Special vegetarian / non-vegetarian dishes are prepared on the occasion. Pieces of paper or 'búrzû' (birch bark) are burnt in an earthen plate and circled thrice round the heads of the mother and the baby to ward off evil. Seven plates of special food are served to the paternal aunts of the baby. This is exclusively a women’s ceremony. On this day the mother’s parents send ‘trûy phót' (wife’s basket) which contains clothes, rotis, sugar, spices, cash for the newborn, and its parents and grandparents.
This is the religious ceremony of purification. On the 11th day after childbirth, a small ‘hawan’ is performed in the house and a tilak is applied on the forehead of the newborn . The baby’s maternal grandparents send clothes on the occasion. This ends 'hòntsh' (impure effect) in the family.
On the 12th day the baby is put on a rangoli laid in the house-threshold (porch) and a piece of sweet is touched to its lips, the family elders shower blessings on the baby. The baby & the mother visit its maternal grandparents where they may stay for a few days. On their return, the grandparents send baked items mutton preparations, curds, milk & clothes for the baby, its parents and paternal grandparents.
mèkhlà or mèkhal
In the past the sacred thread ceremony of boy was performed when he would become seven years old, i.e. when he would be able to wash the sacred thread 'yòní' (jeniv) and recite the “Gayatri Mantra”. Usually, all the boys in the family are made to wear the sacred thread together in a single ceremony. 'mèkhlà' or yajnopavit involves all the ceremonies and rituals, like 'mänzíràt', 'dívgòn'' etc. associated with a marriage ceremony. After 'dívgòn' the boys' (called 'mèkhlí mahàràzû' - mekhla grooms), heads are shaven and they are made to wear saffron-coloured robes.
Mothers, and paternal aunts wear red and white thread 'närívan' on their ears and a huge agni-kund’ is prepared where seven purohits recite vedic mantras for nearly 12 hours and ghee, jaggery, rice and paddy are constantly poured into the agni-kund to please the devtas and seek their blessing. For the whole day relatives and friends come to this ‘'Hawan Pandal' and the eldest of the 'mèkhlí mahàràzû begs of them to give 'dakshínà' (offerings) for the gurus (the purohits), which the visitors are pleased to give him 'åbìd' (dakshina). Towards the evening the family-purohit asks the father of the mekhla grooms to put the sacred thread on them. This is a very emotional moment for the purohits as well as the father, the members of the family, and relatives. The chanting of mantras rises to the highest pitch and the mekhla-grooms are made to wear the sacred thread, marking their entrance into the pure brahmanical fold. This begins their brahmachari period, the first stage of Hindu life, when they seek only knowledge and wisdom. After this the Guru (family-purohit) whispers the Gayatri Mantra into the ears of the mekhla grooms. They are directed to recite this mantra every morning after taking a bath.
Once the yajna is concluded, the maternal uncle(s) of the mekhla –grooms takes them to a nearby temple. Meanwhile prasad in the form of rice, cereals, vegetables is served to all the relatives and friends including the mekhla grooms, and their parents who observe a fast for the whole day.
The next day (kôshalhòm) is observed as a day of feasting when mutton preparations are served. A day or two later, depending upon the position of the planets, sweet rice 'khír' is prepared and a small puja held. After this the mekhla-grooms are made to put on a new sacred thread and the mothers and the aunts remove the 'närívan'. This brings to an end the rituals connected with the yajnopavit ceremony.
When a person breathes his / her last, his/her mortal remains are washed in water to which Ganga jal is added. Cotton buds are put into his / her ears and nostrils. A coin is placed at its lips. The whole body is covered in a white shroud and tied with a thread (närívan). The body is then placed on a plank of wood and four persons take the coffin on their shoulders to the cremation ground. The eldest son of the deceased carries an earthen pitcher in his hand and leads the coffin. Some distance away from the cremation ground, the coffin is placed on the ground and the family members, relatives and friends are allowed to have a last glimpse of the deceased’s face. The coffin is then taken to the cremation ground and put on a pyre. The eldest son, after taking three rounds around the pyre, lights it. From second to the ninth day of one’s death, his/her eldest son and daughter come out on to the house threshold before sunrise and call upon their departed father/mother a couple of times, asking him:
bôchhí mà låjíy babò / mäjì?
(Are you hungry father/mother?)
trèsh mà låjíy babò / mäjì?
(Are you thirsty father/mother?)
tür mà låjíy babò / mäjì?
(Are you feeling cold father/mother?)
On the fourth day of cremation the sons and some relatives and family friends go to the cremation ground to gather ashes (åstrûk). Most of it are immersed into a nearby river /stream and a part is put into an earthen pitcher and taken to Haridwar for immersion into the holy Ganges.
On the 10th day, the sons of the deceased along with many relatives and the family purohit go to a river bank where sons’ heads are shaved and a Shraadha is performed. The relatives after having lunch leave the family of the deceased alone. On the 11th day, the sons and daughters perform a very elaborate Shraadha under the guidance of a purohit. The ceremony ends with aahuuti given to agni invoking almost all the deities, major rivers, temple towns, mountains, and lakes of South Asia. On this day the daughters too pay dakshina to the purohit and arrange food for the families of their brothers.
On the same day, ‘oil’ is provided for the deceased (tìl dyún) in which mustard oil is poured into a large number of earthen lamps and cotton wicks are immersed and lighted in them. Favourite vegetarian foods are prepared in the name of the deceased. Burning of oil lamps is meant to provide light to the deceased in the ‘other’ world.
Another Shraadha is held on the 12th day after death. This marks the end of the mourning, when married daughters return to their homes.
During the first three months, a Shraadha is performed after every fifteen days i.e. on the 30th, 45th, 60th, 75th and 90th day of death . An elaborate Sharaadha is held on the 180th day (shadmòs). The Shraadha on the first death anniversary (våhårûvär) too is an elaborate one. Daughters and sons and their husbands/wives assemble to perform both shadmòs and våhårûvär.
After this a Shraadha is done every year on the death anniversary and one during the pitra-paksh. The children (sons and daughters) offer water to their deceased parents and three generations of grandparents every morning.
Language and food
KP has been a polyglot throughout the known history. Besides mother tongue (Kashmiri) it has had a sound knowledge of Sanskrit, Persian, Urdu-Hindi, and English at different periods in history. Literatures of these languages are a testimony to their genius and creativity. Their original contributions in the areas of philosophy, theology, aesthetics, logic, grammar, astronomy etc. occupy a place of pride in the extant literatures of these disciplines.
KP loves vegetarian foods yet mutton and fish have been its favourite. Rice and knolkhol (hàkh batû) has been its primary requirement. The use of a wide variety of spices, e.g. aniseed powder, turmeric powder, chilly powder, ginger powder, black-pepper, cardamom, saffron etc. is very common among the KPs. Besides knolkhol, KP relishes beans, potato, spinach, lotus-stalk, sonchal, raddish, turnip, cabbage, cauliflower, wild mushroom, cheese and an assortment of local greens like lìsû, vôpal hàkh, núnar, vôstû hàkh and hand. The major mutton preparations of the KP include: kålíyû, ròganjòsh, matsh, kabar gàh, yakhûni, rístû, tabakh nàt, tsók tsarvan etc.
After the advent of Islam in the Valley, when Persian replaced Sanskrit as the language of administration, senior members of the Pandits (a large majority had been forced to embrace Islam) organized a kind of a conference to deliberate on and find means to preserve their religion and culture so as to prevent it from becoming extinct. In that historic conclave, it was decided that in order to participate in State administration, it were necessary to learn Persian, so the son’s son would learn the language of administration and the daughter’s son, if he were educated by his maternal grandparents, would learn bhasha ‘Sanskrit’ and religious scriptures and eventually perform religious rites and rituals. Thus, two distinct sects, one of bhasha Pandits or purohits ‘clergymen’ and another of the karkun ‘the men of administration’ were created. In course of time the Purohit became dependent upon the Karkun for dakhshinaa ‘offerings’ to make his living and the Karkun came to be considered a superior class to the men of religion. This historic ‘decision’ has brought the community to an impasse now where the purohits too have diminished in number and the very identity of the community is at stake. At this juncture, it is not only the religious rites and rituals, customs, festivals and ceremonies, beliefs, myths and superstitions that are under threat of extinction, but also their mother tongue, which was not under threat during the Muslim period.
The community elders need to sit together again to think about its linguistic and cultural heritage and evolve a strategy to preserve it. Otherwise, the literary and religious writings of Laleshwari, Parmanand, Zinda Koul will have no takers in near future.
by Raj Nath Bhat
This paper investigates the liguistico-cultural loss among the younger generation of the displaced Kashmiris who have been living away from the valley for over a decade now. This segment of the population was either of a tender age at the time of displacement or was born in the plains. Although it lives with the middle generation (parents) who are well conversant in Kashmiri language and culture yet a lack of motivation on the part of the parent as also on their own part has made them mere passive users of the language. Hindi has acquired the status of their first language both at home as well as at the school. The parents are deeply pre-occupied with their daily chores to win bread and butter for the family. They have neither the time nor any inclination to enable their children to get acquainted with Kashmir language and culture. The community extends no support whatsoever whereby the Kashmiri language and culture could be taught to them. Hindi is the language of the dominant culture and English that of higher education. Kashmiri finds no place in this kind of linguistic hierarchy. The younger generation is least inclined to learn and comprehend their parental cultural and tongue. Rather, it, in their view, is a burden they can do well without. Obviously, the loss of both the language and culture looks inevitable.
Language and culture are the two fundamental ingredients which give a community a distinct character and build bonds of fraternity and oneness amongst its members. The climate, flora and fauna, history and the geographical conditions of the place where a community lives govern many a cultural entity. Kashmir has a cool climate where the spring is flowery and the winter snowy. The towns and villages are full of brooks, rivulets, rivers and springs. One has a geographical understanding of the directions (east/west etc.) due to the hills and mountains surrounding one’s place of residence. All such objects are lacking in the plains. Kashmir valley is full of orchids of almonds and apples, Chinar and walnut trees are usually grown in the kitchen gardens/backyards. There are several kinds of flowers-wild and cultivated, foods, places of religious significance etc. which may not be found in the plains. A displaced community finds itself in alien surroundings with a new kind of flora and fauna and language and culture. Several linguistic-cultural entities are inevitably lost in this scenario because the younger generation cannot get acquainted with the climate, flora and fauna, and culture of its parental (ancestral) land. Thus a large number of linguistic-cultural entities are lost even in the passive competence of the younger generation of a displaced community.
During the medieval times when the Muslim kings inflicted terror in the lives of Kashmiris, a large majority embraced Islam and a few who stood their ground, despite repression, sought protection as well as guidance from Guru Tegh Bahadur, the ninth Sikh Guru, whom the barbaric Mughal King beheaded in Delhi, and his martyrdom prevented the Kashmiri Hindu culture from going extinct. In the modern times, the religious and cultural heritage and identity of a people does not attract the attention of the powers that be unless they constitute a numerically strong group capable of doing or undoing governments. Pandits of Kashmir constitute a miniscule minority of nearly half a million people, in the vast human jungle of India, which does not send even one member to an assembly. Obviously there is none to take up its cause. On the contrary, there are forces determined to wipe it out from the cultural scene of India. ‘Scholars’ and politicians have been observing an intriguing silence regarding the displacement of the Kashmiri Hindus. The cultural identity of this community is gradually getting eroded which over the ages has been at the forefront in shaping, nourishing and nurturing the ‘great Indian culture.’ An authentic history of the ‘making of India’ would always have to repeatedly refer to Kashmiris’ contributions to ancient Indian knowledge, be it philosophy or religion, logic or literary theories, astrology or mathematics, history or grammar. The rightful heirs to the legacy of Kalhana, Abhinavagupta, Laleshwari, Bilhana, Kuntaka,Vamana, Shankuka and a host of other stalwarts is on the cross-roads today, bewildered and baffled, unsure of its future.
Migration away from Kashmir of the members of this community has been a continuous process ever since the advent of Islam into the valley. The terror and torture inflicted upon this community by the Muslim rulers sends shivers down one’s spine. The names of Sikander (the idol-breaker), Aurangzeb, Jabbar etc. continue to be the terror-creators in the folklore of the community.
A few that possessed “the imagination of disaster” probably guessed (and rightly so ) the intent of the post-independence rulers because the migration of the members of the community in ones and twos continued during the years after independence (1947). But the winter of 1989-90 turned out to be the turning point in the history of this community which constituted a mere 2.5% of total population ( of the Muslim majority Kashmir valley) - nearly 300,000 souls of various age groups, social strata and professions.
In order to build an Islamic society in Kashmir valley, the leadership of this movement offered three options to the minority Hindus : rålív ‘embrace Islam’, tsålív ‘run away’ natû ‘or else’ gålív ‘perish/face annihilation’. Killings of prominent Hindus like lawyers, businessmen, judges, professors, government officers etc. followed . ‘Human Rights’ groups found no case of the violation of human rights! Powers that be seemed indifferent. By November 1989, the Muslim terrorists came forward with yet another insulting slogan which read : así chhú banàvún päkístàn, batav bagär,batûnêv sà ‘we shall join Pakistan, without Hindu men but with Hindu Women’. Meanwhile the killings of even less prominent members of the community continued. By December 1989, the Pandits of Kashmir started running away to Jammu, Delhi etc. to save their lives and honour. The valley in her sad history of the last 600 years, once again witnessed the exodus of its original inhabitants with a 5000 year old history. And by driving the minority community out, the process of ethnic cleansing in the valley was complete. Human rights groups observed a sacred silence. Ironically, the posters on Delhi walls during the period read: “Hands off Kashmiri Muslims….”
Migration of an individual from a rural to an urban environment brings about some kind of a cultural change in him. For instance, he may switch over to a new occupation, change his accent in speech, become more polished in his behaviour and so on but there is always a possibility of going back to one’s village. Secondly, one does not find himself in alien surroundings here for primarily the language, foods, clothing, festivals and so on continue to be the same in both the situations. The migration from one linguistic-cultural setting to another places an individual in alien surroundings where he has to relearn almost everything from speech to toiletry. This kind of migration gives a sort of cultural-shock to the person. When such migrations are forced upon a whole community, its very existence, the magnitude of its suffering and anguish at physical, emotional and mental levels cannot easily be assessed or analyzed. This kind of displacement brings enormous shock and suffering into the lives of the displaced. They experience Hiroshima and Nagasaki endlessly in their lives. The displaced Kashmiri Pandits have been living in exile in their own country for the last twelve years now waiting for some miracles to happen to bring joy to their lives.
On the basis of age the displaced Kashmiri community can be divided into three segment: G1- people of fifty years of age and above; G2-those between twenty-five and fifty years of age; G3-those below twenty-five years of age.
The G1 is fully aware of the linguistic-cultural moorings of the community. It speaks the Kashmiri language and observes religious rituals, rites and customs of the community. It is aware of the socio-cultural traditions, viz., festivals, ceremonies, superstitions, myths, foods and clothing and so on. It has a nostalgic longing for the valley of Kashmir and would go back if the circumstances so permit it. The migrant camps are full of these lonely, frail and skinny people. In the camps, a 12*7 feet chamber cannot house a joint family so the sons and daughters of these old people have either shifted to other chambers or migrated elsewhere in search of some kind of a semi-employment. In places far off where their sons have been able to find work, the parents find it tortuous to stay home alone for the whole day when the son is out at work. So they prefer to stay on in the camps where they have the company of other community members whom they can talk to and share their sorrows with. Thus the joint family system has completely broken down and the young children have no idea of a family with grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins around.
The G2 is struggling to root itself somewhere. Although it loves the valley yet it is unsure whether a return there would be desirable if the situation so arises. It struggles hard to feed the family, educate the children, attend to social obligations, negotiate its existence at its new place of work or in the market and the lanes and by-lanes of the alien place(s) he finds himself in. Although he speaks Kashmiri fluently yet he has lost an interest in traditional festivals, customs and rituals etc.
The G3 is the generation of young members with little or no memories of the valley. It was of a tender age at the time of displacement and a small percentage has come to life in the plains after the displacement. (After the displacement, the fertility has come down considerably among the members of the community. Divorce rate is on the rise and one-child norm has become the holy mantra). For this segment of the displaced community Kashmir is merely a geographic entity. Their primary (vehicular) language is Hindi and English is their second language. They also have a certain degree of passive competence in Kashmiri, their gregarious language -the language of social intimacy and shared identity (Calvet,1987).
The urban-rural distinction is no longer applicable for the displaced community is scattered in several urban centers across the country with large concentrations stationed in Jammu and Delhi. On the economic scale too the community can be divided into three categories : a) The economically settled with their own houses who are in the process of integrating with the dominant cultures around them; b) the small section housed in rented accommodations; and c) the large section sheltered in the migrant camps or slums in and around Jammu. These camps, in my view, should be considered as the centers where linguistic-cultural maintenance or loss could be authentically studied.
Culture is more or less a language game as language is a repository of socio-cultural belief systems and customs of a community. Pheran and kangri have no importance in the plains so is the case with a large number of other linguistic and cultural entities which have had a socio-religious significance in the valley. The G3 is almost completely unacquainted with such terms and many more. Of such items, although large in number, a few have been recorded here for illustration.
A house in Kashmir invariably has a brànd (porch/threshold) and bràndû lívún (porch-cleaning) has a religious-cultural significance for a Hindu lady. The phrase bràmdû kåni (lit. porch-stone), land lady/wife has a cultural importance for the whole speech community. The concepts as well as their religious-cultural importance is lost to the G3. A typical Kashmiri house has three storeys: vót (ground floor), kúth (first floor) and känì (second floor). vót is used during winter for sitting as well as for cooking. kúth is the bedroom meant for use in all seasons. känì is used for cooking and sitting during summer. Two social customs i) going up to känì in spring, känì khasún, and ii) going down to live at the ground floor, vót vasún, during late autumn are no longer known to the G3. A house there would also have athòkúr kúth (prayer room), dab ‘ (wooden veranda). Panjrû (wooden netted window), bräri känì (cat’s top-floor), síngal (wooden roof), tshêy (hay roof) etc. All these terms are lost to the G3.
The onset of spring would be marked by sòntû phúlay (blossoming of flower and fruit trees). On navréh the Kashmiri ‘New Year day’ people would go to parks and gardens to enjoy the warm sunshine and the colourful spring flowers. Such celebrations have ceased to be a part of the cultural life of the community in the plains and the G3 is simply unaware of such festivities.
Walnut, almond, apricot, peach, cherry and all other fruit trees would flower in spring. The flowers would gradually turn into unripe fruit. The children as well as the adults would enjoy kernels of green walnuts and almonds. The green coat of the unripe walnut fruit would dye one’s palms dark-yellow. The vocabulary items like gól (green coat of a walnut), pìrû gùli (green walnut kernel) are not known to the G3.
Summer meant paddy and vegetable plantations and other agricultural activities associated with it. The linguistic items like thal karún (plantation) and agricultural implement like alûbäni (plough), bílchû (shovel), tóngúr(pick-axe), gìnti (pick), makh (axe) dròt (sickle) etc. are not known to the G3. Similarly, there are a number of other linguistic terms which are associated with paddy like‘dàní lònún (harvesting), chhómbún (thrashing), gandún (tying), múnún (helling) etc. which the G3 is unacquainted with.
kàngûr (fire-pot/brazier) used by every Kashmiri during winter to keep him/herself warm has several components, viz., kôndúl (earthen pot inside the Kangri, kàní (dried willow twigs), tsàlan (a wooden or metallic spatula tied to the fire pot), which are naturally lost to the G3, for kàngûr has no place in the hot plains. During autumn when trees shed their leaves, people broom those into piles, pan dúvún (broom-leaves), and put those on fire, pan zàlún (burn-leaves) to prepare tsûní (coal) for use in the Kangri. Overuse of a Kangri would burn the skin on one’s thigh which is known as nàrû tót (skin-burn). One would put a little zetû/têngúl (live coal) into tsûní kàngûr (fire pot full of wood/leaf coal) to ignite it. All these terms have lost significance, hence are lost to the G3.
phêran (a woolen gown without a front cut) has a special place in Kashmiri attire. Associated with it are the terms like pòtsh (cotton lining of a phêran), phêran làd (a fold at the bottom of a phêran), which terms are not in the repertoire of the G3. Similarly the Hindu women’s traditional head-gear,tarûngû, and its components like zùj, pùts, shìshûlàth etc. are completely lost as far as the G3 is concerned. tarûngû has an important cultural and social significance for the community especially at the time of marriage when a bride is necessarily required to wear it a day before the wedding after the religious ritual of dívgòn (the entrance of the devas).
Traditionally the community has been celebrating birthdays of the family members according to the Hindu lunar calendar. People would remember their respective dates of birth accordingly. But not now. Preparation oftåhår (yellow rice) as part of the birth day celebrations is losing ground and instead cutting a cake according to the Gregorian calendar has replaced it . Due to a lack of knowledge of the traditional calendar, the significance of the religious/auspicious days like ätham (8th day of a bright/lunar fortnight),pûním (15th day of the lunar fortnight), màvas (15th day of the dark/moonless fortnight), kàh (11th day of a fortnight) is gradually being lost. The religious festivals/ rituals like gàdû batû (fish-rice for the house-deity), kàvû pûním(crow’s purnima), manjhòrû tåhår (yellow-rice of the Magar month), hèrath salàm (2nd day of the Shiv Ratri) are least understood by the G3. The rituals like sòntû thàl (spring plate), kàvû pótúl (crow’s idol) etc. are simply lost. Same is the case with such superstitions like zangí yún (to be the first to cross some one on his/her way out of home), búth vúchhún (see somebody’s face first in the morning), sàtû nèrún (to leave a place on an auspicious day) etc. which are not known to the G3.
Shivratri has traditionally been the most important religious festival of the Pandits whose celebrations would continue for over a fortnight. Special earthen pots used to be bought on this occasion to perform pùjà of vatúkh(the bachelor shiva), kàpàlík (tantric), sóní pótúl (bridegroom shiva) and other deities for four days in succession. Each member of the family would reach home for this festival. Prasad is the form of wet walnuts and chappatismade of rice–flour used to be distributed among the neighbours and the relatives. In the plains where the family members are scattered in various parts of the country, this festival has lost the traditional importance. Now a token puja is performed with steel utensils. Similarly, the sanctity of other religious festivals like Janam Ashtami, shràvnû pûním, zèthû ätham etc. is gradually getting eroded.
The death of a family member used to be followed by several death–rites after dàh (cremation), namely, chhalún (washing), dåhím-kåhím-båhím dóh(10th –11th –12th day), pachhívàr, (15th day), màsûvàr (month-day), shadmòs(6th month), våhrûvär (death anniversary) and shràd (offerings of food and water) would be performed on these days to seek peace for the departed soul. All these rites are being abridged now to save time and money both of which are scarce with the displaced community.
Similarly, traditional foods like the preparations of lotus-stalk, potato, green vegetables, some of which, for instance, vôpal hàkh, kratsh, etc. are not even grown in the plains are not known to the G3.
The valley is a bed of flowers where a large number of them grow in the wild and a larger number is cultivated. G3 would not know what such–like names as yåmbûrzal, tènkûbatani, pìtàmbar etc. refer to. Similarly, there is a large number of terms referring to plants, birds, insects, grasses etc. which the G3 is unacquainted with.
Each language has its own resources for such social activities as greetings, condoling, blessing, cursing, abusing and so on. Kashmiri, being the mother tongue of a Hindu minority and a huge Muslim majority has a rich vocabulary of Sanskrit-Prakrit and Perso-Arabic origins, the former employed by the Hindus and the latter by the Muslims. Personal names, quite a number of surnames, names of objects which have religious connotations (like àb /pòni for water), religious terms, modes of greeting, even curses, invectives and abuses would indicate whether one were a Hindu or a Muslim (Bhat, 1997). A Kashmiri speaker would greet members of different religious beliefs (Hindus and Muslims) differently. There is a huge chunk of lexical items employed for greeting, condoling, blessing, praying etc. used by Hindu Kashmiris and an equivalent corpus used by Muslim Kashmiris. The younger generation now in the plains does not have any kind of exposure to the Muslim Kashmiri corpus. (Same should be true of the younger generation placed in the valley which does not have any idea about the Hindu Kashmiri). Thus a significant corpus of synonyms is on the verge of extinction.
Many more socio-cultural vocabulary items could be enumerated here which the G3 is unacquainted with, for instance, the terms related to such like professions/trades like carpentry, masonry or the terms employed by iron/gold smith, barber, cobbler, butcher, and so on. Similarly, such holy places like túlmúl, khrûv, shädipòr, akíngòm, shènkràchàr, parbath, màrtand etc. which have a sacred place in the hearts of the devout Hindus of the valley, do not denote anything to the G3.
The G3 considers Kashmiri language a burden which would not benefit it in its development and progress. The homeless and bewildered G2 is concerned more about bread-earning and education of its wards. Ancestral language and culture are such issues which do not find any place of importance in its conscious mind. The issues of vital importance with it are: job, food, clothing, education, and the possibility of rooting itself somewhere – finding a permanent home for itself. It is in search of a new identity for itself for it fondly desires that the suffering and torture experienced by it due to the displacement should not be the fate of its children as well. Consequently, the G3–the innocent generation, which at this point in time is unable to appreciate the importance of a community’s linguistic and cultural identity, gets negligible linguistic and cultural input from the G2 for its social development.
G3 is deeply concerned about its individual progress. It does not see any benefit accruing from learning Kashmiri. It converses with its parents and peers in Hindi. Kashmiri is a burden it can well do without. Under these circumstances one is required to justify the use of a particular language by probably reflecting upon the inner qualities of the language, its resources, its functions and use, the religious and cultural activities associated with it and, also, the strength of the efforts made to maintain it (Lewis, 1982: 215). Language loss inevitably leads to cultural loss. Commenting on the consequences of not learning one’s own tongue, Fanon (1961) observes that such a community internalizes the norms of the other (dominant) culture ‘which leads to cultural deracination’. Consequently, its culture, institutions, life-styles and ideas get devaluated, suppressed and stagnated which may eventually lead to its integration with the larger culture around.
Kashmiri is taught at the school in the Kashmir valley only. G2 does not have the requisite resources to arrange for the teaching of Kashmiri language and culture to the G3 nor is the latter interested or inclined to appreciate its parental tongue and the ancestral culture. Fishman(1990) opines that language survival depends crucially on the language(s) of primary socialization in the family. Calvet (1987) reflects on the efforts of the Shuar community of Ecuador (Latin America) which has succeeded in integrating its language and culture with education. Shuar schools are run independently of the State control. They make extensive use of radio and TV and demonstrate that the survival of a ‘gregarious language’ could be ensured through community effort.
But, unlike Shuar, Kashmiri Pandit is a community scattered in several urban centers across the country with a large number (nearly 2.5 lakh) stationed in Jammu and Delhi. Obviously, the demise of its identity as a distinct linguistic and cultural community seems inevitable within the next two generations when both the G1 & G2, the store-houses of its language and culture, would cease to be around.
Burchfield (1985: 160) has aptly remarked :
“Poverty, famine and diseases are instantly recognized as the cruelest and least excusable forms of deprivation. Linguistic (and cultural) deprivation is a less easily noticed condition but one nevertheless of great significance.”
After the advent of Islam in the Valley, when Persian replaced Sanskrit as the language of administration, senior members of the residue-pandits (a large majority had been forced to embrace Islam) organized a kind of a conference to deliberate on and find means to preserve their religion and culture so as to prevent it from going extinct. In that historic conclave, it was decided that in order to participate in State administration, it were necessary to learn Persian, so the son’s son would learn the language of administration and the daughter’s son, if he were educated by his maternal grandparents, would learn 'bhasha ‘Sanskrit’ and religious scriptures and eventually perform religious rites and rituals. Thus, two distinct sects, one of bhasha Pandits or purohits ‘clergymen’ and another of the kaarkun ‘the men of administration’ were created. In course of time the Purohit became dependent upon the Kaarkun for dakhshinaa ‘offerings’ to make his living and the Kaarkun came to be considered as a superior class to the men of religion. This historic ‘decision’ has brought the community to an impasse now where the purohits too are scarce and the very identity of the community is at stake. At this juncture it not only involves the religious rites and rituals, customs, festivals and ceremonies, beliefs, myths and superstitions but also their mother tongue which was not under threat during the Muslim period.
The community elders need to sit together again to think about its linguistic and cultural heritage and find out means to preserve it. Otherwise, the literary and religious writings of Laleshwari, Parmanand, Zinda Koul and host of other leelaas ‘prayer songs’ would be lost for having no takers and interpreters in not so distant a future.
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Calvet, L.- J. 1987. La guerre des languages et les politiques linguistiques. Paris:Payot.
Fanon, F. 1961. Les dames de la terre. Paris: Maspero.
Fishman, J.A. 1990. ‘What is reversing language shift (RLS) and how can it succeed ?’ Journal of Multicultural and Multilingual Development. 11/1 & 2:5-36.
Lewis, E.G. 1982 ‘Movements and agencies of language spread : Wales and the Soviet Union compared’ in R.L. Cooper (ed.) Language spread : Studies in Diffusion and social Change. Bloomington : Indiana Univ. Press.
Ngugi Wa Thiong’o . 1972. Homecoming : Essays on African and Carribean Literature, Culture and Politics. London : Heinemann.
Phillipson, R. 1992. Linguistic Imperialism. Oxford : Oxford Univ. Press.
by Raj Nath Bhat
The following is an extract from the Nilmata Purana (Sutra 74-181) where in mention has been made of holy rivers, mountains, lakes, etc. across the subcontinent. It also describes the drying up of Sati Lake that made it possible for human settlements to take shape in the valley of Kashmir:
The lotus-eyed Indra accompanied by Paulomi was once sporting on the bank of Sati lake. Induced by Death a Daitya-chief named Sangrha who was exceedingly difficult of being conquered, came there while Indra was sporting.
The semen of that demon who had seen Shaci, was discharged in that reservoir of water. Mad, due to being subject to passion and desirous of carrying away Shaci.
Thereafter a fight between Indra and Sangrha continued for one year. Having killed him at the end of the year, the Indra received honour from the gods and went to heaven.
A child was born in the waters out of that evil-minded Sangraha’s discharged semen which had fallen in the lake.
Due to compassion the Nagas brought up that child in the waters. As he was born in the water, so he was called Jalodbhava (water-born).
Having propitiated the god Pitamaha with penance, he obtained from him a (triple) boon, viz, immortality in the water, magical power, and unparalleled prowess.
Having obtained the power, that Daitya devoured the human beings who lived in various countries near that lake, viz; the inhabitants of Darvabhisara, Gandhara and Juhundara, the Shakas, the Khashas, the Tanganas, the Mandavas, the Madraas and the inhabitants of Antargiri and Bahirgiri.
They fled away in fear from the country and he roamed fearlessly in those desolate lands.
At this very time, the venerable sage Kashyapa travelled over the whole earth in connection with holy pilgrimage.
In this holy Bharatavarsha – he visited auspicious Pushkara, Prayaga, teeming with sacrifices and destroyer of all sins, Kurukshetra, the field of piety, Naimisha, the destroyer of sins, Hayashirsha, the holy abode of high-souled Fathers, the celestial Carankata, the remover of all sins, the holy Varaha mountain, the holy Pancanada, Kalanjana along with Gokarna, Kedara along with Mahalaya, Badhirashrama, the holy abode of Narayana, Sugandha, Shatakumbha, Kalikashrama, Shakambhari, Lalitika, Shaligrama, Prthudaka, Suvarnaksha, Rudrakoti, Prabhasa, Sagarodaka, Indramarga, Matanga-vapi, the destroyer of sins, the holy Agastyashrama, Tandulikashrama, the holy Jambumarga, the holy Varanasi, the holy goddess Ganga, daughter of Jahnu and girdle of the sky, Yamuna, the destroyer of the noose of Yama, the swift-flowing Shatadru, the Sarayu, possessed of the sacrificial posts, the goddess Sarasvati, the Godavari, the Vaitarani, the Gomati, the Bahuda, the Vedasmrti, the Asi alsog with the Varna, the Tamravarnotpalavati, the Sipra along with the Narmada, the Shona, the great river Paroshni, the Ikshumati, the Gauri, the Kampana the Tamasa, Gangasagara Sandhi and Sindhu sagarasangama.
He visited the Bhrgutunga, the Vishala, Kubjamra, the Raivataka, kushavarta at Gangadvara, Bilvaka, the mountain Nila, the holy place Kanakhala and other sacred places also.
Having heard that Kashyapa was on a religious tour, Nila-the king of the serpents – went to the sacred place Kanakhala to meet him.
Having reached there, that king of the serpents saw his father, pressed his feet and saluted him after announcing his own name.
The father smelled his forehead and honoured him in the proper manner., Then he sat on the matting made of Kusha grass.
Then the seated Naga spoke respectfully to the father Kasyapa.
‘Having heard that you – lover of Darma (piety)- are visiting the sacred places, I, with a desire to serve, have immediately approached your honour.
‘O Brahman, all the sacred places in the eastern, the southern and the western (part of the) country have been seen by you. Let us go now in the northern direction.
O honour-giver, there are holy places of pilgrimage in Madra country and on the Himalaya – the best of the mountains.
There is the auspicious Vipasha, the pacifier of sins and giver of eternal bliss, the river Devahrada, the sin-removing god Hara Haririshvara and the holy confluence near Karavirapura.
At that place the Devahrada joins the Vipasha, the best of the rivers. In the Vipasha, there is the holy Kalikasrama.
There is the holy Iravati, the destroyer of all sins. Sixty thousand sacred places dwell in single Iravati, specially in Revati (Nakshatra) and on the eighth day (of a fortnight).
There are Kumbhavasunda, the river Devika possessed of holy water, the great river Vishvamitra, the river Udda which is highly sacred and the various confluences (of the rivers). The religious merit (lies) in the Iravati and also in the Devika.
Brought down by your honour for doing favour to the Madras, it is the goddess Uma who is famous on the earth as Devika and by seeing whom a man certainly becomes purified in this world. There are Indramarga, Somatirtha, the holy Ambujana, Suvarnabindu, the auspicious abode of Hara, the sin-destroying abode of Skanda, the highly sacred lord of Uma at Rudratirtha, Durgadvara, possessed of holy water, Kotitirtha, the sacred place of Rudra, Kamakhya and Pushpanyasa. O honour-giver, (there is) Hamshapada pronounced as holy and so also Rshirupa.
In the area extending over four krosas, there is Devikatirtha at all the places where every pool is holy in all respects.
There is the sacred river Apaga and the holy Taushi which pleases the sun. There is the Candrabhaga – the best of the rivers – whose water is cool like the rays of the moon.
Vaivatitlamukha is the meritorious holy place of the Candrabhaga and so also is the sin-destroying Shankhamardala.
There are Guhyesvara, Shatamukha, Ishtikapatha, the holy Kadambesha and the area around it.
The area extending from the holy Shatamukha upto the holy place Guhyeshvara, is equal, in holiness, to Varanasi or is even higher than that.
The great river Candrabhaga is always holy everywhere but is specially so on the thirteenth of the bright half of Magha in conjunction with Pushya.
All the sacred places on the earth, including the seas and the lakes, shall go to the Candrabhaga on the thirteenth of the bright half of Magha.
Vastrapatha is stated to be holy and so also the god Chagaleshvara, the second Bhaumi and also her birth place.
The sacred place of the lake which is an incarnation of the body of Sati, is the lake Vishnupada famous Kramasara, the destroyer of all sins.’
O sage, please visit immediately these and other holy places by bathing at which, even the evil-minded human beings are freed from the sins.
Addressed thus Kashyapa whose desire had already been aroused, said “Let it be so” and went to those holy places in the company of Nila.
Having crossed the river-goddesses Yamuna and
Sarasvati, he visited Kuruksetra where Sanniti is famous.
A multitude of the holy places in called Sanniti on the earth. It is, verily, the spot to which all the tirthas including the seas and the lakes always go in the end of the dark half of the month.
He, who performs Shraddha there at the time when the sun is eclipsed by Rahu, obtains the best award of (performing) a thousand horse-sacrifices.
Having seen the Sanniti, he saw Cakratirha also about which a verse sung by Narada is current on the earth.
“Oh! the persistence of the people for the suneclipse! The religious merit obtained at Cakratirtha is ten times more than the eclipse.’
Having visited the sacred places called Cakra and Prthudaka, he saw the holy Visnupada and Amaraparpata.
Afterwards, having crossed the rivers Shatadru and Ganga, the sage reached Arjuna’s hermitage and Devasunda.
Having crossed the illustrious and sin-destroying Vipasha, Kashyapa saw the whole country desolate at that time.
Seeing the country of the Madras desolate, he spoke to the Naga, “O Nila, tell me as to why this country of the Madras has been deserted ?
This has always been charming, devoid of the calamity of famine and full of the wealth of grains!”
Nila said: “O venerable one, all this is known to you that formerly a demon-child named Jalodbhava – the son of Sangraha-was reared up by me.
Now that impudent fellow, who obtained boons from Brahma , ignores me and I am incapable of keeping him under control due to the boon of the lord of the three worlds.
By that villain of evil intellect – eater of human flesh – this whole country of the Madras has been depopulated.
O lord, the countries rendered desolate by him are mainly Darvabhisara, Gandhara, Juhundara, Antargiri, Bahirgiri and those of the Shakas, the Khashas, the Tanganas and the Mandavas. O venerable one, make up your mind to check him for the welfare of the world.”
Addressed thus Kashyapa said “Be it so” and after taking bath in the holy places all around, he came to that transparent lake in the country of Sati.
After taking a bath there, he gave up walking on foot and went to the eternal world of Brahma, merely by his own power.
He went along with Nila, the high – souled king of the Nagas. Both of them reached the abode of Brahama and made obeisance to the lotus- born god and the gods Vasudeva, Ishvara and highly intelligent Ananta, who were present there by chance.
Honoured by them, these two told the activities of Jalodbhava. Then the god Pitamaha said to this Naga-lord and the sage of unparalleled valour, “we shall go to Naubandhana to subdue him. Then the god Keshava will undoubtedly kill him.
“Having heard this, Hari, the killer of the strong enemies, went (mounted on) Tarksya.
After him went Hara, mounted on the bull, along with his wife. Brahma went mounted on the swan and the two Nagas mounted on the cloud.
Kashyapa went by his supernatural power. Indra heard that and, in the company of the hosts of gods, went to that place where Keshava had gone.
Yama, Agni, Varuna, Vayu, Kubera, Nirrti, Adityas, Vasus, Rudras, Vishvedevas and the hosts of Maruts; Ashvins, Bhrgus, Sadhyas, the sons of Angiras, the illustrious sages, Gandharvas, the hosts of heavenly maidens; all the wives of the gods, the mothers of the gods, the hosts of Vidyadharas, Yakshas seas and rivers (all went there).
Ganga went mounted on crocodile, Yamuna on tortoise, Shatadru on bull and Sarasvati on buffalo.
Vipasha went mounted on horse, Iravati on elephant, Candrabhaga on lion and Sindhu on tiger.
Devika went mounted on wild ox, Sarayu on deer, Mandakini on man and Payoshni on goat.
Narmada mounted on peacock, Gomati on Saranga deer, Godavari on sheep and Kampana on swan.
Gandaki went mounted on hecrane, Kaveri on camel, the holy Ikshumati on crocodile and the holy Sita on shecrane.
Lauhitya went mounted on Camara deer, Vankshu-the fast going one – on Kroda (hog), Hladini on partridge and Hradini on rooster.
Pavani went mounted on a horse, Shona on a serpent, Krshnaveni on cloud and Bhuvena on hare.
These and other rivers also went mounted on their respective mounts. All these, with a desire to see fight, followed the lord of the world.
Having reached Naubandhana, Keshava, verily, took a firm stand.
Hearing the sound of the retinue of the gods, the evil-minded demon, knowing himself to be imperishable in the water, did not come out.
Having come to know that he would not come out, the pleased Madhusudana entered.
Naubandhana, in the company of the gods.
Rudra stood on Naubandhana peak, Hari on the Southern peak, Brahma on the Northern peak and the gods and the Asuras followed them.
Thus, they entered the mountain. Then the pious minded god Janardana, with a view to kill the demon, said to Ananta:
“Breaking forth Himalaya today with the plough, make soon this lake devoid of water.”
Then Ananta, resembling a mountain and possessed of lustre equal to that of the full moon, expanded himself, covering the earth and the heaven and terrifying the hosts of demons all around.
Dressed in blue, wearing diadem fastened with gold, worshipped by all the gods, he broke forth Himalaya, the best of the mountains on earth, with plough.
When the king of the best mountains had been broken, the water flowed forth hurriedly with force, terrifying all the beings with its violent rush and sound and overflowing the tops of the mountains with curved waves like Himalaya touching the sky.
When the water of the lake was disappearing. water-born practised magic. He created darkness all around and the world became quite invisible.
Then the god Siva held the sun and the moon in his two hands. In a twinkling of the eye, the world was brought to light and all the darkness had vanished. Unfathomable Hari, assuming another body with the power of Yoga, fought with the demon and witnessed that fight through a different body.
There was a terrible fight between Visnu and the demon, with trees and peaks of mountains. Hari cut off, forcibly, the head of the demon and then Brahma obtained gratification.
*Source: Nilamata Purana by Dr. Ved Kumari
by Raj Nath Bhat
The Childhood memories
It was a sunny Sunday morning. My mother Dulari woke me up. My father Jagan resented. Being the eldest among siblings, I was supposed to learn good manners. The sun was up in the sky - a pleasant, breezy morning. I came down the stairs into the compound, thence to the river bank that flows behind our house. Crystal-clear, shallow river water invited me in. I rushed back home, got my towel and innerwear and had a bath. This pleased my mother. My siblings, three in all, got up and followed me to the river. I did not allow them to bathe. They washed and went back. Together we had salt-added-tea and phulka. I was asked to follow cows and calves up to the big river bank where the cowherd would tend them till dusk. I did the job. I was the last boy from the village following our cattle. The job irritated me every morning because despite owning cows there was no milk at home. On occasions I or my younger brother R would go to the milk man’s house to fetch milk or curd. The tradition of owning cows (Kamadhenu) and considering it a sign of affluence (gavdhana) stuck with us.
Kids used to be beaten up frequently in the villages and kids readily invite elders’ wrath. Being the eldest I used to beat up my siblings for any or none of their errors! I remember distinctly hitting R who ran after me in the village lane when I had returned home after over a week from my high school town where I stayed with my maternal great grand parents. I was wearing a steel bangle, a novel acquisition from the town- that hurt R. He rushed back home crying. On another occasion I beat up our sister D, who was hardly three years old, so mercilessly that I felt that her bones could break. She was too tiny and delicate. I do no remember why I did that. I cannot recollect any such incident with regard to K, the youngest brother, who suffered a polio-attack at three years which scar continues with him.
It was a monotonous life style that showed little change of pattern, if any. Morning one had to follow cattle to the big-river bank; back home it was a simple breakfast, then food- rice with knolkhol, school and back. Evening one would play or help family elders in the kitchen garden. It was real fun during summer months in the kitchen garden where we grew vegetables, especially knolkhol, beans, cucumber, spinach, green chilies, for family consumption. Our father used to make gardening interesting by fetching new spades and other iron implements that interested and motivated kids to do gardening. We would compete with one another with the size of plod that one raised. Our father was a lover of flowers. He had planted a large variety of flowers that would flower in different seasons, March to November. Our garden had the distinction of growing wild yellow ‘pitambar; during summer months that flowers at sunset and withers at sunrise. We used to observe and enjoypitambar sprouting in the evening. Kids from some other families (if allowed by their parents) used to join us in the fun.
Kids of the families that tilled their farming lands had little time to do other chores. They used to be busy with their family elders in the paddy/mustard fields. The village had a mixed population of Hindus and Muslims.Hindus were in a miniscule minority. Hindus worshipped at the Bhuteshwar temple every morning as well as in the evening. There was an idol of Kali that disappeared suddenly in 1986 whenKashmir was brewing inside. There was a thousand-faced Shiva temple a KM away from our village that was blasted off in the nineties. Muslims offered namaz, five times a day, in the village mosque. Both the shrines are located at stream banks.
Bhuteshwar - a Shiva temple - is located across the little stream that flows at the back of a few Hindu houses including ours. Most of the Hindu houses as well as the temple faced west whereas Muslim houses faced west or south. No house faces north. Three Hindu women, including my mother, used to compete with one another to reach the Bhuteshwar temple in the early morning hours. Not many people in the village knew about it. My father, his cousin brother Radha, and Sham were the only men who worshipped Bhuteshwar regularly. Sham is the only person who worships at the temple now. I visited Kashmir in 2008 summer, nineteen years after our displacement and my travelogue has appeared in a community e-journal ‘Har’van’ edited by MK Raina from Mumbai and also in the community magazine ‘Naad’ published from Delhi.
Winters are harsh. Elders as well as kids used to confine to the ground floor, adjacent to kitchen, wearing a long and broad woolen ‘pheran’ with a kangri(brazier) underneath. Since most houses had roofs of hay, expert youth used to remove the snow from the roofs with an oar-like wooden pole. This would fill the compound and the house-eaves with meters-high snow. Kids or elders used to remove snow with spades to make walk-able space from the house porch to the stream. Winters with little snow-falls used to be a matter of joy for kids because it gave them ample space and time to play. The village kids played cricket, Kabbadi and some rural games.
My eldest maternal uncle informed me that he used to go to Anand’s house even as a child because his maternal aunt Sondar was married to Anand’s second son, Ganesh. It was a huge household where a large number of children would assemble to have food- rice with knolkhol; one could hardly see who all ate in the evening under the traditional wood-light- a special burning wood used to be hung on the wall to provide light to the whole ‘hall’! Electricity reached the village in 1970-71.
During spring, Hindus shifted kitchen to the second floor that was quite airy. Mosquitoes (non-malarial) would invade during summer months that were warded off by burning cakes of dried cow-dung whose smoke brought tears to one’s eyes. Kids enjoyed this kind of ‘crying’. The bed-rooms were located at the first floor. The Muslims preferred constructing two floored houses. Their kitchens were on the 1st floor; the ground floor had bed-rooms. Things have changed now.
My paternal grandfather Anand was a pious Brahmin well read in the Veda-s and Purana-s. He used to perform an annual yagya where devotees from far and wide in the area used to join to seek Goddess’s benedictions. He expired at the age of 100, nearly a year prior to my birth. His wife died fifteen days later. And Sona’s wife (Sona was Anand’s younger brother) followed a month after. My father Jagan was Anand’s youngest son (5th) who had been given in adoption to his widowed paternal aunt Sati. She had lost her husband, Maheshwar, at a very young age.He was in the postal department who drowned in south Kashmir nearly 20 kilometers away from our village. His dead body was brought to the village at mid-night. His young widow lost consciousness and had to suffer rude treatment for nearly a decade whenever she fainted.
There perhaps was no provision of pension for the family of the deceased then. The young widow lived on what her dead husband’s brothers’ families offered her. She also had her share of land etc. that enabled her to live comfortably. After adopting my father, she became livelier. She along with her brothers became the disciple of a spiritual Guru at Durganag, Srinagar. Her brothers had been poor shop-owners and the last Hindu family in a locality at Kadipora, Anantnag, They were so badly harassed that they migrated to a tiny village near then unknown Pahalgam. My grandmother died some six months after my birth. She used to take little-me in her lap and feed sparrows and other birds with uncooked-rice at the window during the whole winter. My birth had pleased her a great deal. Since I was born less than a year after Anand’s demise, my father and several others in the extended family considered me as Anand’s rebirth.
My maternal grandfather Kanthram was a clever but lethargic businessman. He had become a widower at the age of 29. He died at 75 three years after our displacement from Kashmir . My maternal grand mother had died of tuberculosis. My mother and her brothers were later taken care of by their maternal grand-parents, Tarachand and Deyd, and maternal uncles. My mother, Dulari, was given in marriage to my father when she was only 12 years of age, my father was 28 then. The marriage ceremony was solemnized at her maternal grand parents’ place. I was born five years later. It was a great event for my mother’s grand parents as well as her father and brothers. My younger maternal uncle, Avtar, took me to Pahalgam and seated me on horse-back when I was eight months old. Such was the excitement in the families. The elder maternal uncle, a post-graduate History teacher, was a detached person who snatched all ties with our family when I was around seven, a year or two after his own marriage. My parents had shifted our ‘household items’ to their village-home- several months before his marriage to ensure that everything went well at the ceremony.He reestablished the ties with my mother a year after the demise of my father who in fact had always been their benefactor and well-wisher. My father was a pious Brahmin well read in the Purana-s. He used to perform puja every morning in the puja-room at our house.
During my childhood, our family stayed at Anantnag in a rented accommodation when our sister was to be born. She was born in mid-Dec. when it was fiercely cold. I was admitted to a School in the town. I had completed 4th standard when our father decided to shift back to the village. My mother’s maternal uncle, Laxminath - a post-graduate school teacher - arranged my school leaving certificate from somewhere that showed that I had passed 5th standard. Thus I was admitted to the 6th standard at an adjoining village-school after our family shifted back to the village. This ‘saved’ one year for me and I could learn to walk the distance to the school along with two boys, Omkar and Daya, from the neighboring families.
At the age of twelve I was admitted at High School, some 8 Kilometers south to our village. My High School town is a renowned place. A splendid Sun temple had been built here over two thousand seven hundred years ago by a legendary king. The temple is in ruins now because it was destroyed by the Central Asian invaders during the 14th century. The town has the distinction of producing literary stalwarts with spiritual inclinations. Parmanand, the first Krishna devotee in Kashmir , who composed and sang wonderful Krishna Bhakhti bhajans belonged to this town. Besides, it has a sacred spring with crystal clear water gushing out of ‘windows’ at its bottom. Matan Nag, as it is known, is itself located at the bottom of a hill. There is a temple of the goddess at the hill-top. The town being away from our village, one could not walk the distance. I was initially made to stay at the house of my maternal great grand parents where from the school was nearly two Kilometers away. All the village children walked the distance to the school.
Children of my village normally attended the High School at another township, some 6 KMs north of the village. And each one walked the distance to and fro. The concept of vehicles was non-existent then. Villagers had the habit of walking long distances. Horse-rides were also uncommon, although there were a few horse-driven carts (tonga-s) on the road. The bus service was quite erratic and least frequent. One had to wait for hours together at the main road to catch a bus. The main road is nearly a kilometer away from our village. There was just a primary school in our village. Beyond 5thstandard, kids had to walk to the school anyway. Vehicle rides could not be afforded. The village primary school has now been raised to high school status nearly a hundred years after it was founded. The primary school in our village had been opened due to the efforts of my great grand father Prakash, who was a senior revenue official during the then King’s reign. He died young leaving behind four sons and two daughters. His eldest son Anand left his studies and managed to join the postal department. This enabled him to support the family. Although the family had ample lands, yet the production those days was too meager, one could hardly support the family on it. Those who did lived in penury. Prakash’s father Ram had migrated from Srinagarafter his marriage to the only daughter/child of the village landlord. He had two sons, Prakash and Aftab. Aftab had one son Sarwanand. Sarwanand had two daughters. The elder Sharika was married to Sham who was invited to settle in the village to take care of the agricultural land that the family had. Sharika’s family is the only one that stayed on in the village after the 1990 displacement of the Hindu community.
Prakash managed to get a decent job in the revenue department. He added more land to his name. But his untimely death gave a severe blow to the family. The properties were divided among his four sons Anand, Sahaj, Sona and Maheshwar. Anand’s property was further divided among his four sons whereas the share ofremaining three was not divided further because each one had only one son; my father, Anand’s 5th son, had been given in adoption to Maheshwar’s widow. Of the four Anand’s sons three were married, the unmarried one, Dina, spent his last years under the care of my parents. He had suffered from paralysis. He was quite affectionate. Anand’s brother Sona - Radha’s father was a snuffer. I have a faint memory of his: he used to allow me to smell the powder and I would sneeze profusely to the amusement of the families. I was three when Sona died.My brother R was born a week or so before his death. My mother was in bed with the little R and I was sitting at her bed-side. Suddenly there was a huge and loud cry- Sona’s three daughters might have arrived from their homes, I guess. My mother removed a corner of the window-curtain to look down into the courtyard. I too got a glimpse and I remember men-folk doing something in the courtyard with their jeneyv-s--the sacred thread- dangling right and left. My mother prevented me from looking down.
The Hindu women-folk those days had such-like names as Poshi maal (flower garland), Kongi maal (saffron garland), Gonu maal (skilled garland), ambravati-name of a sacred river, leelawati etc.
Our village, situated close to the majestic river Lidder, has plenty of water that flows down from Sheshnag and several other natural springs en route the holy Amarnath cave. The older generations have cleverly brought small streams from the Lidder close to where the village houses have been located. This must have been done to prevent destruction of houses due to floods in the Lidder. There are streams bordering the village settlements. The same water irrigates lands down-stream. The Hindu houses were well covered with clay/stone walls around their compounds. The walls have disappeared now and the Hindu houses are reduced to heaps of clay after the 1990 exodus of the community. There are more details on it in my travelogue mentioned above. The folks divide the village into three sectors: Upper, lower and central. We come from the lower sector that had nine Hindu households and nearly a hundred Muslim families. The central sector with a distinct name after a community surname had only one Hindu family and over fifty Muslim familes.; the upper sector had eight Hindu families and eighty Muslim families. Not a single family from any community was homeless. Muslims owned large segments of land in comparison to Hindus. Agriculture was the major occupation of both the communities. Hindu parents persuaded their wards to go to school regularly. Muslims were least keen on schooling/education. My friend Dar was the first Muslim graduate from the village. Two more youth have joined Dar’s class over the last 35 years.
I spent the first year of my High School (8th standard) under the protection/patronage of my maternal great grand parents/uncles-aunts. Ample paddy and a milking cow were provided to them. My maternal great grandfather, a retired school Head-master, was quite proficient in English and Mathematics. He used to give me lessons in both. His memory was very sharp. During the second year 1969, my parents decided to hire a house at the town itself; my father shuttled between his office town -Anantnag- and my school town every day- a distance of 5 KMs. The house where we stayed belongs to my younger maternal uncle who had shifted his family to a village adjacent to his work place. My father cooked early in the morning and in the evening for both of us. We used to go to our village every Saturday evening. This arrangement reduced the walking distance between the residence and my school by nearly a kilometer. The third and final year at school was different. I used to travel by a bus every day along with my father. The bus plied between Anantnag and a village named Logripura some 8 KMs ahead of our village. I had to wait for the same bus in the evening because my father took the same bus back home. This saved bus fare. Being a small boy, bus fare was not required to be paid separately when one accompanied an elder person. We used to eat brunch before8 am , rush to the main road-nearly 1 KM away- to catch the bus. I would reach school around9 A.M. That year I spent two winter months at the house of an acquaintance Sri Krishna in my school town because I sought special guidance (tuitions) from one of our school teachers, Motilal, at his residence. At the end of my school I had succeeded in obtaining a good grade at the 10th standard.
There was only one college at Anantnag, the District headquarters that admitted students to the Pre University Course (PUC) from the whole region from Banihal to Pulwama. Five Districts have now been carved out of the former District Anantnag. My school teacher favoured me to take up Mathematics in place of Biology. My parents preferred otherwise. They desired me to become a doctor! I managed to pass the PUC as a mediocre. During the B.Sc Ist year I became friends with Koul and Gul who were from Tral town. Koul senior to me was doing B.A., Gul was my classmate. We occupied rooms in the same house and used to go to the college regularly. Koul was quite affectionate, an advising well wisher. I spent the winter months that year at his place in Tral. In the process my visits to Gul’s house became more frequent. Gul’s father, Subahan, was a known political leader of the area. He was gunned down during militancy, so were Gul’s two younger siblings. Later on Gul won elections to the state assembly, thus managed security for other members of his family. I met him last several years prior to the exodus of 1990.
I barely managed to succeed at the B.Sc1 examination. Gul was placed in compartment. The results those days used to be broadcast on air. Proper programme announcements/alerts used to be made prior to such broadcasts. I cried like a child when Gul’s roll number was not announced. There was relief when it came up under the compartments category later. Both of us were admitted to B.Sc 2nd year at the same college. We completed the Course in 1975. Gul’s father managed a medical seat for Gul in a MadhyaPradesh MedicalCollege. My father managed an Assistantship for me at his office where I worked for nearly six months before joining the University in July 1976.
During the four College years I went on pilgrimage to the holy Amarnath cave thrice. The annual examinations used to be held in March-April, and the results used to be declared in July-August. The students had ample time during summer months to visit places. I used to go to my paternal aunt’s village, Khayar, every summer and spend a week or more there. My father’s cousin-sisters, Janaki and Chanda, were married to two brothers in the village. Khayar is situated at the foot of a hill that attracted me. My village has majestic river lidder on the west and paddy fields to its east.
The first trip to the holy Amarnath cave was suddenly planned. Two of my senior cousins - Roshan and Bhushan - were inclined to go on a pilgrimage to the holy cave. My father’s cousin-brother Radha was posted at Sheshnag en route the cave. My two cousins managed to rope in Radha’a elder son Bharat, me and my brother R and the five of us set on yatra. We managed to hike up to Sheshnag where we stayed at Radha’s place. He was staying with some of his colleagues and they had ample provisions to feed extra mouths. During the night it began to rain postponing our further hike. A couple of days later, my uncle Radha hired five horses, one for each one of us to go ahead. He also arranged light rain-coats for us. We had a splendid Darshan of the Ice-Shivalinga a couple of days later. We returned to Sheshnag after four days. My uncle’s colleagues treated us very well at Panchtarni where we stayed for two nights during our longest ever horse-ride-journey. We came back to Sheshnag where from we descended the mountains on foot. We reached Chandanbari after sunset. It was raining heavily there. Some jeeps were plying up to Pahalgam at Rs. ten per passenger which was a huge amount those days. Bhushan’s elder sister’s (Shori’s) family was placed at Pahalgam. His sister’s husband Omkar was a high school teacher posted at Pahalgam. We reached their residence when they were half asleep. Shori cooked for us and after breakfast next morning we boarded the bus to go home.
My second and third pilgrimages to the holy cave were quite adventurous. My classmates Roshan and Makhan from the adjoining village planned these trips. Roshan was well acquainted with the terrain as well as the art of packing clothes and eatables as shepherds in the area do. Shepherds those days used to herd sheep and young cows to pastures in the mountains during summer months and the cattle-owners used to pay a visit or two to the pastures carrying salt for their cattle. They packed things in a woolen home-woven blanket that kept them warm and reduced the load too.
Upon reaching Chandanbari we unpacked, cooked our meal and slept in the huge hall of a Government constructed Sarai. Next morning we had a quick meal and packed our belongings in the woolen blanket as directed by our team-leader Roshan. The police constable at the exit point-the bottom of Pisu mountain- was cleverly made to believe that we were not pilgrims but village boys with ration for our cattle up the mountains. Roshan did all the talking. Pilgrims those days were disallowed to visit the holy cave before theyatra. Thus our ascent to Pisu began. Half way to Sheshnag we cooked and ate. We reached Sheshnag in the afternoon, took a bath in the holy spring and spent the night in another Sarai there. Next morning we made the ascent to Wawbaal and Mahagunas mountains to reach Panchtarni, the next stop, in the afternoon. From there we climbed the last mountain to have the darshan at the holy cave. We had another bath in the ice-cold water of Amravati , the stream that flows at the bottom of the cave.
We followed the same routine the following summer with a larger number of youth from Anantnag town in the group. This could not be repeated once I completed college studies.
Our B.Sc final results were declared towards the end of August, 1975. I had managed to succeed. There was a technical flaw though; I had mis-spelt some name in the examination form. Hence my result was withheld. I went to the University office at Srinagar for the first time to get my results. I was quite nervous. The in-charge there wrote something after I requested him to correct the form and declare the results. I got the certificate in my college at Anantnag over a week later. I joined my father’s establishment in Dec. as his assistant. We were staying in a rented accommodation at Anantnag and sibling K was studying at a High School there.
The sibling R too studied at Anantnag when I was still in college but I forced him to do all cooking that should otherwise have been done by me, that wasted his time and he could not do well at school. He was subsequently shifted back to the village under my suggestion/advice and he was admitted to the High School at Siir, nearly three KMs away from our village. Sibling K too was admitted at the same school but his poor health did not permit him to walk the distance to and fro and he was admitted at Anantnag a year or two later after he had lost a lot of weight. The youngest sibling D was initially admitted at the same place after her Primary education but she suffered from typhoid so frequently that she too was later on brought to Anantnag after I had joined higher studies at Kurukshetra University and R had joined Anantnag College in the Mathematics stream.
During Jan. 76 an acquaintance, Bharatiji-Principal of a senior secondary school-, stayed with us at our residence at Anantnag. Upon learning about my studies and job profile, he advised me to join linguistics at KurukshetraUniversity. That was the first time I heard the word ‘linguistics’. In Feb.76 I met one of my seniors Kantroo who was pursuing law at KurukshetraUniversity. I conveyed my intention of doing linguistics at his University to him. Kantroo is presently the Principal of a law college in Uttrakhand.
The whole episode had slipped out of my mind when suddenly in July 1976 I met Kantroo near the Bus Stand and he enquired about my plans regarding further studies. He was accompanied by another smart youth Maharaj who, as I gradually learnt, was doing linguistics at Kurukshetra University (KU). It was the end of July 76, Maharaj was leaving the next morning but he told me that admission to the Course could be managed if I accompanied him. It was quite tempting. But my father was reluctant; an affectionate father was not ready to part with his eldest son. I, Maharaj, and my father were still in argument when suddenly Bharatiji appeared there. He knew Maharaj very well and he persuaded my father to allow me to go. I started the Bus journey from Anantnag to Jammu the next morning in the company of the large-hearted gentleman Maharaj. We boarded the Delhibound train at Jammuin the evening and reached KU next afternoon. Maharaj and I got down at Rajpura in Punjab in the early morning where from he went to Patiala to meet his cousin Dr. Koul who was the Principal of a Government institute there. I waited for him at the bus-stand. He returned and we boarded a bus that took us to Pipli in Haryana wherefrom we reached KU by Auto and Cycle Rickshaws. From Pipli we took an auto to reach the Kurukshetra city bus stand. From there Maharaj hired a cycle-rickshaw for onward journey to the University. It was my first ‘encounter’ with this special mode of local transport. For a minute or two I kept standing on the road. When Maharaj asked me to board the ‘vehicle’ I hesitated. I was unwilling to sit on a three wheeler driven by a human being. It looked inhuman. Maharaj told me that he too had similar feelings a year before when he had come out of the valley to join the University. I joined the M.A. Course within a couple of days there after. I met couples of acquaintances, Bhushan, Vinod, Girdhari, and Swaroop who too had come to KU to do Courses. Swaroop too joined linguistics; others did different Courses.
I obtained first class first position in M.A. 1st year among nearly 25 candidates. Maharaj completed his M.A. programme that year. During the second and final year of my M.A. Course I became friends with Samar, Jagdish, and Ramesh who were doing other Courses and belonged to Hisar, a major city in the state. I visited their places during Diwali festival that year.I completed my M.A. Course in 1978 maintaining my rank in the class that enabled me to join Ph.D programme, under the supervision of DS Dwivedi, with scholarship towards the end of the same year. Maharaj had joined a job at Kolkata but he too got admitted to Ph.D. during the same session.
During August that year when I was in my village, my brother came running to me while I was at a village-shop and informed me that I had a guest at home. I came back home, and to my utter surprise, I found Samar there. He had been asked to contest students’ Union elections at KU that his family did not like. To avoid election campaigning he ran away and reached my home. He stayed with us for several days and together we traveled back. This enabled him to learn about our family closely. His parents were also taken by surprise at his decision to travel to Kashmir . I was admitted to the research programme later that year.
Samar completed his M.A. Course in Hindi in 1979. He was desirous of obtaining a research degree. I accompanied him to Ujjain, a historic town in Madhya Pradesh state, where he was admitted to Ph.D. I submitted my thesis in October 1981 and traveled to Ujjain to help Samar do his thesis that was submitted some months later. Samar ’s oral exam (Viva-voce) was held within a couple of months and he was awarded the degree. In my case a report was awaited. During 1982 summer the TamilUniversity, Thanjavur advertised fellowships, I applied, so didSamar and both of us got it. Together we traveled to Thanjavur to join the fellowship. The project incharge Rajaram was very cordial so was the Department HoD Nambi Arooran. We hired a room in a Sarai in the town and used to take local bus to reach the University. One evening a thin young person, Mohan, interacted with us in the bus. Gradually our meetings became frequent. Mohan was jobless but he maintained his family well. We had lunch with him at his residence on a couple of occasions that enabled us to immerse in Tamil culture.
My oral exam at KU was fixed in early 1983. The examiner Vidyaniwas Misra could not reach the University that day due to administrative reasons in stead I was asked to go to Agra(K.M. Institute) along with the file to appear for the oral exam. Thus my oral exam was conducted and the degree awarded.
When I reached Thanjavur after the oral exam, I did not findSamar at the railway station instead Mohan was there at mid-night. He revealed to me thatSamar married Urmil so he could not come.I was astonished.Samar ’s wife was enrolled in research at Ujjain where they met during his several visits to the town. Because of their marriage we had to find a new place of residence with ample space for the four of us-Samar , his wife, Karamjeet and I. During December 1982 our Department organized a month long Course in Tamil Culture in which delegates from Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia,S. Africa , and Germanyparticipated. The Department also arranged a week-long cultural tour of Tamil Nadu as part of the Course. This gave us-Samar , his wife and me- besides others an opportunity to visit all magnificent temples in the State. At Kanya-Kumari I was thrilled at seeing sea-waves come and go. I immersed my feet into the sand to enjoy waves. The whole team, led by Prof. Nambi Arooran, decided to go for evening meals so that ‘tired- we’ could go to bed. I was left alone at the beach and I rushed to join them at the hotel.
By June 1983Samar planned to quit so did Karamjeet. They resigned and I saw them off at the railway station. Together they traveled up to Bhopal where Urmil got off to go to her parents’ place and the two gentlemen moved on up to Delhi where from Samar took a bus home (Hisar) and Karamjeet took another train to reach his home, Sangroor, in the Punjab state.
During the winter of 1983,Samar and Urmil asked me to join them at Ujjain ; both were waiting at the railway station when I boarded off the train in the early morning hours. Samar ’s parents, especially his mother, were reluctant to accept Urmil as their daughter-in-law. He was undecided himself. The next day he received a telegram from his home asking him to reach back immediately because he had been appointed as a college lecturer in the Haryana Government. He took the morning train to Delhiand I took another back to Chennai (then Madras). He was posted at Kalka where after a few months he developed Schizophrenia which his family did not realize. He resigned from his job. Finally his parents asked Urmil to join him at Hisar. Subsequently, he was taken to psychiatrists and the treatment began. Meanwhile, I too reached their home. My presence enabled Samar to improve quickly but he abstained from the medicine prescribed by the psychiatrist very often which eventually made him a chronic schizophrenic. Some time later he and Urmil shifted to Indore in Madhya Pradesh but that too did not help. He is reduced to a vegetable now and stays with his parents under the care of his younger brother AJ and his family. His wife and two sons live inBhopalnow. His elder son is an engineer but his younger son is handicapped by birth. A month after the departure ofSamar and others, I along with three other research fellows---Hayat, Raghu and Wang BoShru shifted our residence to a house owned by a retired Insurance employee near theThanjavur MedicalCollege. Wang was a Chinese scholar who had joined the Univ. to learn spoken Tamil. He was the Dy. Director of Tamil Services at Radio Beijing. His knowledge of literary Tamil was excellent. He preferred to be addressed as ‘thongzu’- comrade.
The new house owner, Mr. Srinivasan, occupied the ground floor where he lived with his old wife, his divorcee daughter Nirmala, her Engineer daughter Anu Radha, and another grand-daughter, Dr. Chitra, who had completed MBBS from the Thanjavur MedicalCollege.
Upon completing my term as Senior Fellow at Thanjavur in January 1985, I went to Kurukshetra Universityto stay with my friend Vinod who was pursuing Ph.D. in law. Thanjavur taught me several things including enjoying Idli, Dosa, Uttapam and other rice-based preparations.
During summer I went to my home for a brief period as I was required to attend an interview for Associateship at the UGC that was eventually awarded to me, thanks to RN Srivastava. .Vinod got married during that period. Vinod and his wife are Professors in law at KU now.
I joined the Associateship in November 1985, and continued to stay in the researchers’ hostel till my marriage (1987).
Kashmir began to become restless in 1986.Things were uncertain. My brothers’ marriages were held in autumn 1986 and our sister’s wedding was solemnized in autumn 1989 when the whole city was under curfew. The bride-groom’s party managed to reach our house with great difficulty, with hardly a score of people in baaraat. We had to run away for our lives in December 1989. My parents, brothers’ families, maternal grandfather shifted to Udhampur to stay in a rented accommodation. They had dinner under their own roof and next morning they were under the sky-roofless, rootless and homeless I was already placed at Kurukshetra. The sudden displacement was immensely painful. We had lost home, hearth and roots, homelessness is agonizing but media enjoy the sufferings of people by creating imaginary stories.
In 1985Samar ’s sister, Prem, was posted as a scientist in the Krishi Vigyan Kendra at Kurukshetra. She has an M.Sc in Home-Science. I was already at Kurukshetra as I had been awarded research Associateship by the UGC. I was asked to look after her; a few months later, we decided to get married. After initial reluctance on the part of her maternal uncles, our marriage was solemnized at their place in 1987. My parents, maternal grandfather and uncle, siblings and cousins participated. We stayed in a rented accommodation near Prem’s office. Prem’s younger brother AJ came to stay with us a couple of months after our marriage. His presence converted our home into an extension of Prem’s maternal home. AJ intervened at every juncture in our mutual matters. His sister took him for a well-wisher.
In August 88 we got a daughter, Shephali. We went toKashmir on several occasions after our marriage and flew from Jammuto Srinagar when Shephali was less than two months old. AJ managed to become a history lecturer at KU in 1990. I too became a lecturer in linguistics there in the same year. We got a son, Abhinav, in August 92.
AJ’s intervention had become a menace. He got married in 93. My father got seriously ill the same year. I went to Jammuand brought my parents to Kurukshetra. My father’s illness took us to Chandigarh (PGI) where he was admitted in Jan. 94. He expired on March 1 1994 at the PGI and the cremation was held the next day at Kurukshetra. This was a serious blow to our family.
Kashmiri pandits mourn the death of a family member for thirteen days; the sons of the deceased shave their hair off on the 10th day. Elaborate Shrdadhais performed on the 11th and 12th days. 13th day marks the end of mourning. All this was done at my residence at Kurukshetra. But the behavior of Prem, her siblings, and parents was saddening and agonizing during the whole period. They hurt each one of us. A year later when my siblings had assembled, as per the tradition, at my place to perform our father’s first annual shraddha, Prem showed signs of serious depression. AJ had been poisoning her against me and our clan all through. He ensured that I would not take her to any psychiatrist; he advised her to go to her parents’ place in stead, which she did and it became a sad and painful exercise for her because she could hardly manage both the kids in a bus. I went to her parents’ place a few days later where a large number of their kin had assembled. Prem’s maternal uncle misbehaved with me in the presence of a home-science professor, Lali Yadava, from Hisar Agricultural Univ. No body was ready to listen that she needed treatment with a psychiatrist. A few weeks later they shifted their whole household to Kurukshetra where they had purchased a house after selling the one they had at Hisar. This made them permanent residents of Kurukshetra and greater interventionists with my home. When they shifted to their new residence, it somehow dawned upon them that their daughter Prem needed treatment with a psychiatrist and her father LD came to my residence to persuade me to take her to a specialist. He also sought support from two gentlemen NK Jain and Tarlok Singh, my advocate neighbours and friends. I did the job the very next day and LD accompanied us to the doctor. With proper medicine, the patient began to improve but her mother as well as siblings did not allow her to get cured. They continued to feed her with their imaginary stories. Consequently, Prem would give up medicine for days together and become sick again and again. I could see another Samar in the making. Since she had a decent job, her condition would not deteriorate so quickly. She became extremely sick again in 1997 summer and went to her parents’ house in the morning; the kids followed her the same evening. AJ had some serious differences with his wife and her parents sought legal remedy but compromised subsequently. Prem’s sickness and flight to her parents’ place gave an opportunity to AJ and his wife to defame me around the city. Both wrote a long letter to the then Vice-chancellor of the University against me.
My 8 year old daughter Shephali came back after a week. She looked emaciated. They had punished her for desiring to come back home. The kids, especially my little son Abhinav, were unable to grasp what was happening. I saw an advertisement in a news-paper for faculty positions in the university of Asmara-Eritrea. I sent my application. The interviews were held atDelhiand I was taken. At the venue of the interview I met with Professor Dhar who was also appointed.
I got my daughter’s passport in a very short time. We went to Chandigarhand Delhito complete requisite medical formalities. She did not reveal a word to her mother or grand parents although she would go there every week-end. They did not allow my son to meet me even for a split second. He suffered without being able to express it. Finally I and my daughter flew out of the country in Sept. 97. I dropped a letter to LD at the Delhi-airport informing him about our flight.
Shephali was admitted to an Italian medium school at Asmara and she enjoyed her studentship as well as the new place and people. She began to pick up Italian quickly. She also made friends with a good number of families in the complex.
Dhar Sahab and I were asked to share the same apartment and we relished this companionship. TN Dhar was the professor and head of the department of English at the KashmirUniversityat the time of our displacement in 1990. His family was placed at Shimla later. The University of Asmara provided semi-furnished accommodation to all foreign teachers at the Sembel complex nearly five KMs away from the University. It was a peaceful place and it seemed like an Indian settlement. There were more than forty Indian teachers, mostly with their families, located there. Professor Dhar brought his wife, Usha, after I resigned from the job and came back to India. Three of us, Dhar, Bhattacharjee and I, enjoyed our ‘single’ status. Dhar and I used to have Asmara beer regularly; we tasted almost all brands of scotch that were available there. On week-ends beer and scotch used to almost flow at our apartment.
Some six months later I sensed that Shephali was missing her mother and brother so I arranged to send her back along with another colleague, Chandrabhushan, who was visiting his family in Delhiafter suffering a major illness. The Asmara clime did not suit him at his age. Shephali’s mother and brother were waiting to receive her at the Delhiairport. Thus she reached back to Kurukshetra.
I came back to Indiaduring vacations in 98, and to my utter surprise, LD came to meet me to the place where I stayed near Brahmsarovar. He was accompanied by two gentlemen. They desired me to rejoin Prem who too appeared the following day promising that she would abide by the doctor’s advice without fail. She informed me that she had been admitted to the Ph.D. Course at Karnal. I decided to shift to that city so that she could do her research peacefully. I spent a handsome amount of money in shifting and admission of our kids at Karnal. A month later I went back to Asmara. They cried while seeing me off. I used to call them every Sunday and send a cheque every month. Her father LD was persuaded to stay with them a couple of months later. She developed the ailment afresh and I resigned fromAsmara in the mid-session and came back to Indiain Jan. 1999. I shuttled between Karnal and Kurukshetra every day till Prem decided to quit her Ph.D towards the end of March 99. I shifted the residence back to Kurukshetra and re-admitted kids to the school there. The department of linguistics atKurukshetra Universityhad been closed down during my absence and I was asked to teach in the department of Hindi which my wonderful friend LC Gupta was heading. He persuaded me to obtain M.A. in Hindi which I did that year. He further asked me to obtain a Ph.D. in Hindi and I was admitted to the programme in 2000 under his supervision. Other colleagues in the department were least warm towards me; they took me for an intruder.
The Banaras HinduUniversity, Varanasi advertised teaching positions including one in linguistics in 2000. I applied. The interviews were held a few months later and I was selected. But the appointment-letter was sent after over one and a half year and I joined at the new place on8/8/2002 . Misraji, the then Head, was very cordial so were many other faculty members including the Dean, MKC. I got a rented accommodation at Samneghat, some two KMs away from my work-place. It was a spacious accommodation but the area was mosquito infested and frequent electricity cuts made life miserable.
I visited Kurukshetra thrice between August and Dec. that year. Prem’s attitude had changed. She did not like my presence in the house. Soon after my arrival, she along with the kids would either go to her parents’ place or to her elder sister’s home some 100 KMs away. Shephali was in the 10thstandard then. I suffered from severe back-ache at Varanasi, Prem did not enquire even once about my sickness. Misraji and his family were a great support. I met Prem and the kids last in March 2003. It was a horrible experience; LD came to tell me that I had committed a ‘crime’ in quitting the job at KU. He was polite towards the end of our ‘conversation’. He had been tutored to say what he said. The gentleman, I believe, has always spoken or acted under the guidance of his wife/children and has never intended to go beyond their brief but during our ‘conversation’ he had to speak politely after listening to me. I had to leave the same day. My kids accompanied me for nearly a hundred yards on the main road when I asked them to go back home. Little did I realize that that would be my last meeting with them? My daughter spoke to me when I called them upon reaching Varanasi; she told me that I should no longer visit their house as per the instructions of her mother and her mother’s parents and siblings. It shocked me. I visited Kurukshetra on couples of occasions later but stayed at the Government Yatri Niwas or Dharamshala to avoid unpleasant scenes that Prem and her paternal family could shamelessly create any time. I continued to be telephonically connected with my kids for another year till the phone did not respond. I asked an old friend of mine to find out why the phone did not work. He found out that the rental had not been paid for several months and that I was required to clear the dues without delay because the phone line was registered in my name. I sent a cheque to the telecom office requesting them to clear my account with the department. Simultaneously, I learnt that a new house was being built near her parents’ home. I had purchased a plot of land in Prem’s name at a different place; she had managed to sell that plot and purchased another one close to her parents’ house. A few months later I learnt that they had shifted to their new home. I stopped sending any money to them; and my telephonic contact with my kids too had ended. I had become a non-entity for them. A year or two later I received a legal notice, duly signed by Prem, seeking legal separation. I did not go to contest the case because her lawyer had leveled wild allegations against me. I wrote letters to her, her younger brother advising them to try to be sensible. When I did not appear in the court of law, separation was granted. I did not reveal this episode to any one. A year later, I received another legal notice signed by my kids seeking maintenance allowance. A couple of months later, in Jan. 08, my kids called me on my cell-phone and sought maintenance allowance immediately because their mother had become mentally sick again and she could not attend her office too. AJ too called the same day pleading the kids’ case. I began to transfer Rs. 10000 to their mother’s account every month w.e.f. January, 2008. In 2008 summer I went to Kurukshetra twice to meet AJ. He came to meet me to the place where I stayed but did not allow my kids to meet me. He tried to exhibit innocence and I, for some time, thought that he could be genuine but he fooled me again.
I wished to swallow it all as best as I could. But destiny had its own designs.
In September 2009 I suffered from brain hemorrhage, my friends AK Kaul and MS Pandey took me to the hospital and managed to get specialist doctors, Madhukar Roy and Vivek Sharma, to revive me. My mother and siblings rushed to Varanasi from several stations. I was referred to the SGPGI at Lucknow where I regained a lot of my sense. My University friend Maharaj was a great support. He introduced us to a KP, an officer at the PGI, who too was of great help. We came back to Varanasi towards the end of September. I was unable to walk or speak; there was limp in my left limb and weakness in the left arm; my right limbs had sensory problems.
My siblings checked my files and found the legal documents. They were sad but furious that I concealed these things from them. Eventually my condition began to improve but the doctors said that further recovery could take even a year. My siblings, nephews and nieces called my kids at Kurukshetra but my son responded very rudely. A month or so later he sent a legal notice to my HoD asking him to furnish details about the arrears that had been credited to my salary account! The HoD had to provide the details.
My mother and siblings began to advise me that I should find a companion for myself which is a difficult thing to do when one is 53 years old, yet I got matrimonial advertisement published in Naad, a community journal published from Delhi. No body responded.
Suddenly my mother became extremely unwell. The MRI revealed that she had developed tumor in the spinal canal. She declined to undergo surgery atVaranasi instead she wished it to be done at Jammubecause most of our kin are placed there after the 1990 displacement. I accompanied her toJammuwhere my siblings had already arrived. Our sister D is posted there. She stays in a government quarter next to her office although she has her own home some 5 KMs away but being asthmatic she preferred to stay close to her office. Her husband Vijay Kumar is a bank officer.
Our mother’s surgery was conducted successfully within a week primarily due to the kind support of Dr. KL Choudhury, a retired neurology professor placed at Jammu. She was discharged from the hospital after 12 days. I came back to Varanasi a couple of days later. Our mother came to Varanasialong with our sister and her son two months later . My brothers R and K stayed with her at the hospital. R, who is presently placed at Kathmandu-Nepal, spent the entire period of his stay at Jammuat the hospital. K spent only a couple of nights at the house during that period but he stayed on for more than two weeks after our mother was discharged from the hospital. His entire family, Bita, Priyanka and Nipun, came to Varanasi during my illness and then to Jammuwhen our mother underwent surgery. Priyanka is doing Masters in Pharmacy while Nipun is doing Civil Engineering. R’s son, Amul, is doing Aeronautical Engineering. D’s daughter, Sakshi, is pursuing Engineering in the IT branch. Her son, Sajjal, is a High School student.
Sajjal had been on an educational tour to Mumbai and Goa when I reachedJammualong with my mother in Jan. 2010. He brought Chetan Bhagat’s novel ‘The Story of my Marriage’ and a bottle of Goan Fenny for his maternal uncles. I read the novel and liked it. R took ‘Fenny’ with him to Kathmandu. He does not drink but small quantities during or after journeys help him in keeping his digestive system in shape. He looks older than his age but he does not reveal his problems, especially physical problems to anyone. As a student in the seventies of the 20th century, he got in touch with Marxist youth and also got to read Marxist literature. He has been a fanatic admirer of the theory as well as the theoreticians all through. Due to the influence of the theory, he quit his banking job inKashmir and nearly ran away toKathmandu along with his three year old son, Amul, in 1990. We could get in touch with him after the demise of our father in 94. Our mother managed to convince him to bring his son back and allow him to be with his mother, Usha. Amul is now a young man pursuing Aeronautical Engineering at Mumbai.
The youngest brother K graduated with commerce as one of the subjects. He was appointed in a nationalized bank and placed at Anantnag but a month later he was given termination orders! He had to wait for another year before he got the job in the AG’s office at Srinagar. D too was appointed in the AG’s office a few months later. Since R was already placed in a bank at Srinagar, the three of them stayed together in a rented accommodation. After our displacement, R quit his job. K was initially shifted to Allahabad, and D was placed at Gwalior. Several years later, K was permanently shifted to Dehradun and D managed to come back to Jammuwhere her in-laws are located. Being a bank officer, her husband is regularly transferred to various stations around or away from Jammu.
May is a hot and dry month in the plains. I sensed that our mother found it difficult to manage day to day chores smoothly especially after the recent surgery that she underwent in Jan.10. My summer vacations were due to begin and I decided to pay a visit to Kashmir for the second time after our displacement in 1990. Mother agreed very happily. We traveled up toJammuby train and took the less expensive flight, Spice Jet, from JammutoSrinagar. My cousin’s brother-in law was waiting to receive us. We went to their residing place in Tulsi Bagh. After a quick lunch, rice with knolkhol, we went to the Jyeshtha Devi Templecomplex where a room booked a month back was allotted. The room is spacious and sufficiently furnished. The cooking gas connection and utensils too have been provided.It was the month of May but there were two quilts and two blankets in the room so each person could sleep comfortably. I obtained rice, moong-beans, onion, cooking oil from the complex shop that made us comfortable with regard to our dinner as well. I had a nice sleep and my mother too must have slept well. Next morning mother prepared yellow rice and took it to the Devi’s temple some ten odd stairs away. I had a nice bath in the geyser-fitted bath-room of the room that was allotted to us. Soon it began to rain and it did not stop for the whole day. We were forced to remain in-doors with electric heater on. Meanwhile my cousin called and spoke to my mother, his paternal aunt, and instructed that a vehicle was on way to the temple-gate to take us back to his place of residence and we were supposed to cancel our stay at the temple-complex immediately. I met with the president of the Complex to convey our decision to him. We were back at Tulsi Bagh by3 p.m. It rained for another two days making it impossible for us to move out of the residence. When the Sun appeared on the fourth day morning, a Friday, we decided to go to Mata Ksir Bhawani temple at Tulmul. My cousin arranged a taxi and we reached Tulmul atnoon . It was a moment of great pleasure to be there. The security from the outer gate itself is very tight.The inner compound was almost empty. We sat inside the temple for quite some time. The purohit who puttilak on my forehead seems to be a local youth who has efficiently remembered the mantra to be recited while doing the job.
We started our return journey in the afternoon. A couple of miles away from the temple a group of youth stopped our vehicle. Our driver, Sahil, very politely agreed to turn back. He took a village route to the newly laid highway that perhaps connects Bandipora with the City. Once he sighted the highway, he felt relaxed. Then he told us that that was a normal thing on Fridays. Some youth in a few towns block roads after offering the Friday Namaz. A young bearded gentleman, Sahil has spent several years in places outsideKashmir . He had been an army recruit too but he had to quit.Sahil opened up and told us that he had a childhood friend who spoke very rarely and very little and whom people in the locality and home considered to be a lunatic. Then suddenly one day he along with a foreign national was blown up near an army camp by the explosives that he carried inside his pheran. Sahil was arrested to retrieve more information about his friend. “He knew nothing.” He looked sad and anguished for the suffering of his parents during the period of his arrest. It was 4 in the afternoon when we touched the City outskirts. Sahil on his own took us to Shalimar and Nishat Gardens and on our request to the ancient Shiva temple at Ishbari, then to Bhagwan Gopinath Ashram and the Ganpatyaar temple.
The Ganpatyaar temple is highly fortified. The KP houses in the vicinity have crumbled. I saw a dog entering a KP house through its window. I asked Sahil to come back the next morning if it was sunny.
We were back at the residence in the evening when three of my colleagues Roop, Maharaj and Mallikarjun from Patiala, Lucknow and Mysore respectively came over to meet me. They were in the City on an academic tour.
The next morning our vehicle came at about 8 in the morning and we tookRoti and vegetables in our Tiffinbox and started our journey to Sonamarg. The route to Sonamarg passes through Ganderbal, Kangan, Gund etc. Sahil halted for breakfast at Gund where my mother purchased Shawls. I had a cup of Kahwa for Rs. 15! Upon reaching Sonamarg we asked the driver to be around. We enjoyed the breeze and the snow-clad peaks around the place. A jeep nearby fitted with a microphone and an amplifier was making appeals in Kashmiri to seek financial support for ‘orphans’. After nearly two hours we asked Sahil to drive us back to where we could eat our food. He brought us to a Government restaurant some 5 KMs away from Sonamarg. The place is quite picturesque, situated on an island at the bank of Sindhu River. The Manager there was quite cordial. He allowed us to eat our own food there. However, we purchased biscuits, tea etc. from them. After lunch we met a Shawl-seller who happened to be a boy from our native village! He was happy to know that we hailed from his village! Our return journey was quite comfortable. We were back at the hotel by6 p.m. The following day was a Sunday. We asked Sahil to bring his vehicle by around10 a.m.
My cousin and two of his brothers-in law agreed to join us the next morning. They prepared delicious food-items early in the morning and we started our journey by10 a.m. We reached Baba Rishi and went in there. There were another ten odd vehicles parked outside but we were the only KPs among the pilgrims. From there we went to Gulmarg where our driver parked at a height near the rope-way on the advice of my cousin. The driver left us there and went to meet his friends. It was a beautiful sight and quite breezy. The breeze made my mother uncomfortable. She wished to start the return journey immediately. My cousin and his brothers-in-law began to have liquor along with food. We finished our lunch by2 p.m. There was a brief drizzle that made the place even more beautiful. My mother was looking around for Sahil to appear who finally came at4 p.m. My mother did not spare him and he went on apologizing. We were back in the City by7 p.m. Mother asked Sahil to come to the Hotel next day after 11a.m.
Sahil, the vehicle driver, called next morning to inform that his vehicle-owner needed the vehicle-Mahindra Xylo- and that he-Sahil- had arranged for a substitute driver and vehicle that would drop us at Mattan- Anantnag. Mattan is my mother’s birth-place. Two of her brothers have been spending the summer months there for the last five odd years. They have repaired/redone some part of the house that is located opposite the first gate of the Nagabal (the holy spring). Besides, Mattan has been my High School town. The alternative vehicle came and we started our journey after lunch. We made a brief stop at Avantipore temple-ruins and then at Anantnag Nagabal. We reached Mattan at around4 p.m. Mamaji ,AK, was waiting. The following two days were rainy again, so we stayed indoors. Meanwhile the elder Mamaji, BN, and his wife too arrived. AK has a trusting young man, Altaf, from the neighboring family who does several chores for him. The rains halted life especially in the villages.
A young person, a tailor-master, from the neighborhood came to AK’s room in the afternoon. He got acquainted with me and a few minutes later, he narrated the story of his suffering. “He went to Srinagar to learn the art of tailoring. A young fellow one day came to that shop and sought stitched clothes from him. Since he was only an apprentice, he did not know anything about the customers or their clothes; the elderly tailor-master who owned the shop was elsewhere. When he could not satisfy the young gentleman, the gentleman threatened him. A week or so later the apprentice was arrested and severely tortured. Several months later, he learnt that his name had been given to the security forces by the same gentleman who had threatened him at the tailor-master’s shop where he had come to learn the art of tailoring. The small town boy after severe suffering in the custody gathered courage to tell the senior most officers to make the following enquiries from the informer: “How did the informer know me? Which place was I from? What is my father’s name?” The officer did the same and found out the falsity of all that the informer had been saying all those months. The accused was helped by one of his London-based cousins during the period. Finally he was out and he went back to his little town to do tailoring on his own. He has moderate earnings now.
Altaf helped us to hire a taxi from the town when it was sunny again and we went in a single day to Verinag, Kokernag, Acchabal, Nagadandi, Martand Sun-temple-ruins, and returned to Mattan by 7 p.m.We had lunch at Kokernag.
The following day the same taxi took us to Arau- ahead of Pahalgam- where we had tea. We met four young men- Shawl sellers- from our native village there. We returned to Pahalgam at lunch-time and had lunch at a Dhaba near the Bus- Stand. Then we went to the Mamaleshwar temple across the river Lidder. A local youth, it seems, puts vermillion on the pilgrims’ forehead at the temple. After4p.m. we started our return journey. We went to our native village that falls en-route Mattan-Pahalgam road some 18 KMs away from Pahalgam. We reached the house of the lone KP family in the village in the evening. Two of their daughters had arrived from Delhi/Jammu the previous day. My Mamaji and Altaf had tea with us and they went back to Mattan. My childhood friend Dar came to meet us the next morning so did another person, Mir, who was very close to my eldest paternal uncle’s family. Dar was aware of my illness and he as well as his wife was further shocked to see me with a staff in hand. Mir too was shocked as he learnt about the serious illness that I suffered last autumn.
In a matter of minutes, Mir told us that years ago he was asked to play his beloved musical instrument, Rabab, in a hall in a village five KMs away from our village. There were some more music-lovers and singers who too were persuaded to participate in the musical evening. But it was a conspiracy, said he. An hour or less had passed, when their instruments were broken into pieces and they (the players/singers) were given a severe beating by the men, then known as ‘cultural police’. During the subsequent days men opposed to ‘cultural police’ tried to probe them regarding the identity of the beaters but they did not reveal their identity to prevent further harassment to themselves. Being a music-lover he feels sad for animal or any killing. He asked me and my mother to stay on in the village and get a house constructed. He promised to extend whatever support he could.
I found that these boys of yesteryears, who are of my age or senior to me, have black hair and look much younger.
During the day I met a couple of state security personnel who reside in my younger uncle’s house. After brunch they bask in our kitchen-garden across the stream. One of them asked me to return and settle in my village. Yes, said I, but only after the fear /threat of any kind gets eliminated. “That will not happen any day”, said he.
I walked a couple of lanes, went to the Bhuteshwar temple across the stream and prepared to leave the next day. My friend Dar dropped me and my mother at Mattan where from AK’s younger son, my cousin, brought me toSrinagar. En-route Srinagar, he stopped his vehicle and paid a hefty sum in cash at a Durgah. I spent the following day at his place. Next morning he sent his friend, an MD medicine, who dropped me at the airport. The young doctor from the City believes that ‘the old peaceful days- that he has not experienced in person- shall come back’. At the airport, he put my suitcase on a trolley, and I said good-bye to him.
An hour later, I was at Jammu. In the evening I went to Chhanni, Sector 4 in a hired auto to wish luck to my paternal cousins whose sons’ marriage was in progress. They wanted me to stay for the night but I could not because the medicine that I take after dinner was not with me. One of the grooms dropped me back at my sister’s place at Shakti Nagar. The next morning, my sister and I went to the wedding of the daughter of a village girl, Lalli. It proved a good meeting place. We met a large number of men and women from our native village. The next afternoon, I started my return journey toVaranasi; my place of work which Dr. K L Chaudhary calls ‘The abode of god’- and reached here on Sunday. On Tuesday, I took over as the Head of the Department for the second term, an office that I quit in the first week of July.
Our mother wished to stay back in the Valley till the end of June but consistent wet weather made her sick and she returned to Jammu in the second week of June.
(Author is Head, Deptt. of Linguistics, Banaras Hindu University)
by Raj Nath Bhat
Kashmiri pandits are spreadvirtually across the globe, though their numerical strength is low outside India. Within India the largest segment resides in Jammu; a good number of them also live in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Chandigarh. Kashmiri Pandit Sabhas/ Forums have come up in almost all the cities of the country, except in Chennai, Trivandrum, etc. There are a couple of International Forums in Europe, US, etc. Besides economic and political issues, all the Sabhas/ Forums have been dominated by the vital issue of the preservation of our language and culture. But this issue has an unusual edge of complexity to it because of the various displacements that our community had to face during the past seven hundred years. So the problem and the issue related to it have to be understood in a perspective that is broader than one might assume.
The displacements of Kashmiri Pandits have created four different kinds of groups whose perceptions, needs, and outlooks vary. The first group comprises pandits who left the valley between the 14th and 19th centuries. They still retain their surnames like Raina, Koul, Nehru, Kathjoo etc. and a few cultural and ritualistic traditions, too. For instance, the wearing of ornaments, aTh and Dejhor by married women. Since they moved out of the valley when communication links were quite primitive, they could hardly maintain a link with the community back home.
After the major displacement of the community in 1990, they found it difficult to come to terms with the new situation. Initially they were not sure of whether to reestablish the bond with the parent culture and tradition or keep aloof. With the passage of time, a large majority has realized that identifying with the parent community can be the only reasonable move.
The other group comprises those who moved out of the valley between 1930 and 1989 for finding suitable employment because employment opportunities for them had shrunk considerably, especially after India became independent. Disillusioned with the state of affairs that prevailed in the valley, meritorious persons were forced to leave it along with their families. These had most of their siblings/ kinspersons in the valley. The displacement of 1990 anguished them a great deal for a large segment was nearing retirement and had plans to go back and settle in their ancestral towns/villages in the valley. Their dreams were shattered and the pathetic condition of their displaced kinspersons added to their pain. They are a part of the displaced community, emotionally, and psychologically. The third group constitutes the displaced Pandits of the 1990 catastrophe. They have endured hell all these 16 years. Their agony is difficult to put in words.
The fourth group consists of a few thousand Pandits who continue to live inside the valley. Their negligible numerical strength and spatial distribution may make it difficult for them to retain their faith for long, I fear.
The last two sections are the storehouse of our culture, language and traditions. The numerically strong third section (the displaced of the 1990) is in a difficult situation economically, socially and psychologically. They have to make a new beginning somewhere, somehow. It is this segment and their progeny that can continue to live our heritage and pass it on to the future generations. But due to the trauma they have suffered, they are unaware of what they are about to loose. The wards of the first two sections are comparatively secure. But they have little or no exposure to our heritage. All the three groups of our young generation in displacement need to be persuaded to come together and plan out strategies for preservation and refinement (if that were needed) of our traditions and culture. This is an intelligent generation, ambitious, adventurous and enlightened. But as far as the significance of one’s identity is concerned, their understanding of its importance is minimal if not zilch. The community elders need to zeroin on this generation. They can be guided and persuaded to play a pivotal role by getting together frequently, breaking communication/ psychological barriers to create an awareness about the preservation of our identity. They could be motivated to arrange language teaching/learning classes, compare competitions on our revered scholars, both Buddhist and Shaiva/Vaishnava history, religious festivals, social customs, rituals and rites and so on and so forth. This will enthuse them and a fraternal bond can thus be built among them.
We, as parents, need to give a profound thought to what our progeny can be just twenty five years into the future when the anguish of displacement would have faded out, if not completely effaced, from our minds. And the whole generation will surely be multilingual, proficient in Hindi, English and a couple of other Indian/ foreign languages, but with no knowledge or understanding of Kashmiri, which they will claim to be as a mark of their identity.
Kashmiri is a label we shall continue to have whether you like it or not. The significance of such a label is rarely realized when one is young and struggling/ enjoying. It assumes importance when one grows to realize that s/he needs to know about her/his predecessors, pedigree- their achievements, follies, aspirations and dreams, failures and successes, their day to day life, food habits, customs, festivals and festivities, rituals and rites, ceremonies and externals, attire and etiquette, beliefs and superstitions, myths, legends and history. One’s ‘pahchan’ as a member of a ‘biradari’ begins with the knowledge of one’s mother tongue- the first link to one’s identity. This fact cannot be realized in one’s teens or adolescence when all is either going goody-goody or sorrowful with a person. It is at the stage of adulthood that the crisis of identity begins to strain your nerves. And if you get to be spiritually inclined, the lack of the knowledge of your mother tongue anguishes you a great deal. The knowledge of one’s mother tongue hasthe potential to bathe you in spiritual quests.
Kashmiri is studded with poets whose spirituality and knowledge makes one ecstatic. Lalleshwari, Zinda Koul, Bhagwan Gopi Nath, Parmanand and many more awaken you to the realization of the Supreme Soul, the Shiva and Shakti. Translations would help but if you have a command over the renderings in original Kashmiri, your depth of understanding turns out to be profound.
A lack of command over the mother tongue turns you into an alien among your own kith and kin. You imagine being a member of your community without understanding the subtleties and nuances of any of the festivals and ceremonies, rituals and rites you participate in. With the passage of time you are forced to recreate yourself as a member of some other group but your heart wails for the loss that you have suffered - the knowledge of your mother tongue and the history and myth that make you a being of a particular community. You wish to be in your imagined home and to live that imagined culture but you are ill informed or not informed at all. There is a constant churning going on inside you but there is no visible light that could deliver you. You begin to seek memberships of cultural bodies and forums where you believe you would find yourself, know yourself. Your urge to belong intensifies. You are anguished.
This (your urge to belong)happens because your parents were possibly less awakened. They provided for your education, your welfare but they cared little about your adult aspirations and cravings. They were unaware of the fact that a respectable command over one’s mother tongue is the entranceto your home. You can imagine realistically about your ancestral home in your adopted home only if you are proficient in the mother tongue.
I believe that no matter what, there comes a stage in one’s life when you yearnto know yourself. This yearning is nothing but an urge to know one’s past history, culture and beliefs. It is here that the ‘seeker’ finds her/himself handicapped. S/he may not speak out openly, but in the heart of hearts, s/ he feels sad about this limitation. One must remember that it is the recognition that your community extends you, which makes or unmakes you as an actor in history!! A tight-jacket module for the preservation of one’s mother tongue cannot be spelled out for a community which is scattered all over the country and beyond and whose numbers vary from place to place. Another significant point that needs to be spelled out is the material gain that a young mind accrues to the learning of Kashmiri. Learning of Kashmiri does not guarantee one a decent job or something, so why trouble one’s mind! The psychological gain that one obtains with the knowledge of one’s mother tongue is difficult to appreciate at a young age. We have to realize that if we don’t wish our progeny to suffer from a sense of lack of belongingness, we need to speak to our children in Kashmiri at home. It may not be possible to provide them special courses in Kashmiri, but mere use of it at home will work wonders. We live in an age of electronics where computers, audio-video gadgets are available all over. There is a need to develop audio-video materials on festivals, ceremonies, rituals, and rites and so on to allow our young to have a view of the celebrations that accompany them. Families scattered in various nooks and corners across the globe need to know about Shivratri celebrations, Navreh and birthday rituals, death rituals and rites, marriage and child-birth rituals. This can be made available through the medium of audio-video gadgets.
How many parents do not want their kids to perform their last rites according to our tradition? It is our duty to let them learn what this tradition is all about. It is our duty to let them have a broader understanding of our culture and language. A child has the genetic potential to master several languages simultaneously. We should not deprive her/him of the mother tongue. Let it be her/his language of intimate discourse with you and your kinsmen. We will thus be performing the duty of a responsible parent. We cannot blame them if they do not share our beliefs and traditions.
We have the resources to provide for such inputs. The project Zaan has done a commendable job with their Kashmiri-Devnagri script and language teaching materials. Many more efforts are being made across the country. There is a need to create awareness about the fact that you cease to be a rightful heir to your heritage and legacy if you shun your history, culture, beliefs and language. It is possible for our community elders to arrange weekly (Sunday) classes in community centers where Kashmiri could be taught. We are now adequately equipped with a standard Kashmiri-Devnagri script in which scores of books have been published and many more are in the offing. This script is easy to teach and it provides characters for all the vowels and consonants of the language. The training in the pronunciation of vowels and consonants special to Kashmiri can be given by using audio-video recordings. The project Zaan and many other centers across the country need to come together to develop programmes based upon real life conversations between participants in different situations. This should be followed by a question answer session with the participants to the programme. Kashmiri employs a huge chunk of words that are similar or partially similar to Hindi words. A corpus of such vocabulary items is available in print that every Sabha ought to procure. We can persuade our young that learning to speak Kashmiri has other advantages: you can learn so called difficult sounds of languages like Chinese and German with much more ease. Kashmiri, German and Chinese, and many other languages, use the consonant sound ts very frequently. Similarly, the central vowels E, I have a high frequency of occurrence in Kashmiri which again puts a Kashmiri knowing person at advantage while learning languages with these vowels.
Several cultural organizations across the country have been organizing contests where school/ college-going students are made to make presentations in Kashmiri. This is an emulative practice through which the best of contestants from different regions could be brought together for a final round of presentations. This will bring about a sense of cohesiveness among our young minds and their urge to contribute will enhance. There is a need to think collectively and inculcate a sense of togetherness amongst the young. They need to know each other and to realize that they have a mission to accomplish. The role of parents is of paramount importance at every step. Those parents who are themselves less proficient in Kashmiri ought to attend weekly classes along with their sons and daughters.
This will create an atmosphere of competitiveness at home between the parent and the child. Since children have the natural/ biological potential to learn a language faster, they will get an opportunity to correct their parents. This, you can imagine, will boost the child’s morale and his/her performance will show a tremendous growth.
There is ample literature on Kashmiri available in print/ electronic form. ‘Naad’ has been bringing out conversational lessons every month; ‘Project Zaan’ provides materials in electronic as well as print forms. There are many books exclusively on teaching of Kashmiri published by Mysore based Central institute of Indian languages. What is required is the will to use it at city, colony, sector, mohalla level depending upon the size and space of the community. And the onus is on the elders of the families. No outside agency can do anything in this regard if we lack the right motivation? The inter-caste/inter-regional marriages are on the rise with our young sons and daughters. A marriage between a Kashmiri girl and a non- Kashmiri boy brings to an end the girl’s identityas a member of Kashmiri Pandit community. Her kids can in no way belong to our community. They will assume a different surname and belong to their father’s community. A Kashmiri boy taking a non- Kashmiri wife gives his Kashmiri surname to his kids but knowledge and exposure to traditions and culture is negligible. We can see the instance of Pandit Nehru’s daughter. Her illustrious sons had no links/bonds with Kashmiri culture. Frequent get-togethers may bring about a decline in such extra community marital alliances. Weekly/ fortnightly/monthly meetings, festivities/hawans will serve a twin purpose; bring community members together to share their experiences and enable our young to know one another and possibly find suitable life partners. In 1990, we were forced to fleethe Valley, to sever our ties with our ancestral land where our pedigree had lived for over five thousand years. Shaiva Kashmiri was there even before Kashmir knew any Buddhists, Sikhs or Muslims. The land was known not only for her bountiful rivers and mountains but also for the scholarship that it cultivated for over three thousand years. It is recorded that when Patanjali completed his commentary ‘Mahabhashya’ on Panini’s Ashtaadhyaya, he went over to Kashmir to consult and seek the approval of the pundits in Kashmir before ‘releasing’ it to the world of scholarship at large. A Buddhist scholar, Kumar Jeev who was trained in Kashmir, is a legend in Chinese history. He, it is believed, translated over a hundred Pali texts into Chinese, which saw Buddhism flourish in China. The Pandits have been a peace loving ethnic group, fond of good foods, fruits and flowers, and above all scholarship. You may recall that after the displacement of 1990, the uprooted community was extremely concerned about the education of their wards, food and shelter was accorded a second priority.
A friend of mine from Jammu expressed his astonishment at seeing young kids appearing from nowhere early in the morning and their parents escorting them their way to some nearby school, in most cases, a tent school. This has been and may continue to be the basic desire of our biradari - pursuit of education, knowledge and gyan and understanding. Sanskrit has been the language of intellection of our ancestors. This fact must not be ignored. It is an august duty of our generation to inspire and persuade our young minds to study Sanskrit and master it. Our ancestors mastered many languages simultaneously and Sanskrit occupied a pride of place there. In the present materialistic world, parents assume that engineering, medicine, and management are the only worthy areas that their wards ought to opt for. It is an ill conceived thought whose consequences can be fatal for our progeny. The areas of knowledge are many. We should aim at excelling in all areas including the study of Shastras and Vedas. This will ensure glory to our future generation and those that follow them.
There are many communities in our own country that have suffered the trauma of displacement but they ensure that their kids learn the mother tongue at home. Can we emulate their example? Instances are many, but I bring forward just two: Bengalis who had to run away from what is now Bangladesh and Sindhis who flew Sindh in Pakistan. Bengalis are scattered in various states, so are Sindhis yet they speak their respective mother tongues at home. There are many other communities that deserve to be emulated in this respect. Instances are : Malayalis, Tamils, Punjabis, Gujaratis to name a few. I was amazed to find that just four Gujarati families in Asmara, North East Africa had successfully preserved their mother tongue after nearly a hundred years of migration there! And their kids spoke chaste Hindi too just because, as they put it, they were amply exposed to Hindi Films right through their childhood and youth. The families sought brides for their sons and grooms for their daughters from Gujarat. There was not a single case of inter-community marriage reported.
May our renewed quest for preservation of our culture, identity and heritage make it happen across the country and abroad so that our progeny does not suffer the pangs of a lack of identity, as do many communities in several countries across Europe and the Americas. Love Kashmiri, Learn Kashmiri! Be a rightful heir to your legacy and history and culture!
(Author is Head, Deptt. of Linguistics, Banaras Hindu University)
by Raj Nath Bhat
The question whether Kashmiri Pandits are required to think about preserving their mother tongue Kashmiri or not has been haunting many a mind for the last fifteen years when we were driven out of the Valley almost overnight. We were ordered!, perhaps ordained, to sever our ties with all that we loved about our ancestral land where our pedigree had lived for over five thousand years. Shaiva Kashmiri was there even before Kashmir knew any Buddhists, Sikhs or Muslims. The land was known not only for her bountiful rivers and mountains but for the scholarship that it cultivated for over three thousand years. It is recorded that when Patanjali completed his commentary ‘Mahabhashya’ on Panini’s Ashtaadhyaya, he went overto Kashmir to consult and seek the approval of the Pundits in Kashmir before ‘releasing’ it to the world of scholarship at large. A Buddhist scholar, Kumar Jeev who was trained in Kashmir, is a legend in Chinese history who, it is believed, translated over a hundred Pali texts into Chinese which saw Buddhism flourish in China. The Pandits have been a peace loving ethnic group, fond of good foods, fruits and flowers, and above all scholarship.
You may recall that after the displacement of 1990, the uprooted community was extremely concerned about the education of their wards, food and shelter was accorded a second priority. A friend of mine from Jammu expressed his astonishment at seeing young kids appearing from nowhere in white shirts early in the morning and their parents escorting them their way to some nearby school in most cases, a tent school. This has been and may continue to be the basic desire of our biradari- pursuit of education, knowledge and gyan and understanding.
We, as parents, need to give a profound thought to what our progeny can be just twenty five years into the future when the anguish of displacement will have faded out, if not completely effaced, from our minds. And the whole generation will surely be multilingual, proficient in Hindi, English and a couple of other Indian/ foreign languages, but with no knowledge or understanding of Kashmiri, which they will claim to be as a mark of their identity. Kashmiri is a label we shall continue to have whether you like it or not. What makes it necessary for a person to be labeled a Kashmiri or a Punjabi? Does it have something to do with One’s genetic/ethnic/ linguistic/ religious/ cultural background?
The significance of such a label is largely diminished when one is young and struggling/enjoying. It assumes importance when one grows to realize that she/he needs to know about her/his predecessors, p e d i g r e e - t h e i r achievements, follies, aspirations and dreams, failures and successes, their day to day life, food habits, customs, festivals and festivities, rituals and rites, ceremonies and externals, attire and etiquette, beliefs and superstitions, myths, legends and history, that one’s ‘pahchan’ as a member of a ‘biradari’ begins with the knowledge of one’s mother tongue - the first link to one side ntity. This fact cannot be realized in one’s teens or adolescence when all is either going gaga or sorrowful with the person. It is at the stage of adulthood that the crisis of identity begins to strain your nerves. And if, God forbidden, you get to be spiritually inclined, the lack of the knowledge of your mother tongue anguishes you a great deal. The knowledge of one’s mother tongue has the potential to bathe you in spiritual quests. Kashmiri is studded with poets whose spirituality and knowledge makes one ecstatic. Lalleshwari, Zinda Koul, Bhagwan Gopi Nath and many more awaken you to the realization of the supreme Soul, the Shiva and Shakti. Translations would help but if you have a command over the renderings in original Kashmiri, your depth of understanding turns out to be profound.
A lack of command over the mother tongue turns you into an alien among your own kith and kin. You imagine to be a member of your community without understanding the subtleties and nuances of any of the festivals and ceremonies, rituals and rites you participate in. With the passage of time you are forced to recreate yourself as a member of some other group but your heart wails for the loss that you have suffered just because your parents were not awakened enough to deliver you what was of paramount importance - the knowledge of your mother tongue and the history and myth that makes you a being of a particular delineation. You crave to be a celebrity but you stand uprooted. You wish to be in your imagined home and to live in that imagined culture but you are ill-informed or not informed at all. There is a constant churning going on inside you but there is no visible light that could deliver you. You begin to seek memberships of cultural bodies and forums where you believe you would find yourself, know yourself. Your urge to belong intensifies you are anguished.
This happens because your parents were possibly less responsible. They provided for your education, your welfare but they cared little about your adult aspirations and cravings. They were unaware of the basic fact that a respectable command over your mother tongue is the entrance to your home about which you can imagine realistically in your adopted home only if you are proficient in the mother tongue.
A straight-jacket module for the preservation of one’s mother tongue cannot be spelled out in a large volume. One has to realize that if you want your progeny to belong and not to suffer from a sense of lack of belongingness, you need to speak to your children in Kashmiri at home. It may not be possible to provide them special courses in Kashmiri, but mere use of it at home will work wonders. We live in an age of electronics where computers, audio-video gadgets are available across every street. There is a need to develop audio-video materials on festivals, ceremonies, rituals, and rites and so on to allow our young to have a view of the celebrations that accompany them. Families scattered in various nooks and corners across the globe need to know about Shivratri celebrations, Navreh and birthday rituals, death rituals and rites, marriage and childbirth rituals. This can be made available easily through the medium of audio-video cassettes. Sanskrit has been the language of intellection of our ancestors. This fact must not be ignored. It is an august duty of our generation to inspire and persuade our young minds to study Sanskrit and master it. Our ancestors, who we are proud of, mastered many languages simultaneously and Sanskrit occupied a pride of place there. In the present materialistic world, parents assume that engineering, medicine, and management are the only worthy areas which their wards ought to opt for. It is an ill-conceived thought whose consequences can be fatal for our progeny. The areas of knowledge are many. We should aim at excelling in all areas including the study of Shastras and Vedas. This will ensure glory to our future generations and those that follow them.
I am not a preacher. I am a student of history and languages. I believe that no matter what, there comes a stage in one’s life when you yearn to know yourself. This yearning is nothing but an urge to know one’s past, history, culture and beliefs. It is here that the ‘seeker’ finds her/himself handicapped. She/he may not speak out openly, but in the heart of hearts, she/he blames her/his parents for her/his limitation. One must remember that it is the recognition that your community extends you which makes or unmakes you as a recognizable actor of history!! How many parents do not want their kids to perform their last rites according to our tradition? Is it not our duty to let them learn what this tradition is all about? Is it not our duty to let them have a broader understanding of our culture and language? A child has the genetic potential to master a significantly large number of languages. Don’t deprive her/him of the mother tongue? Let it be her/his language of intimate discourse with you and the kinspersons. We will thus be performing the duty of responsible parents. Don’t blame them if they do not share your values and traditions. We, the parents, have been primarily responsible.
There are many communities in our own country which have suffered a similar fate but they see to it that their kids learn the mother tongue at home. Can we emulate their example? Instances are many, but I bring forward just two : Bengalis who had to run away from what is now Bangladesh and Sindhis who flew Sindh in Pakistan. Bengalis are scattered in various states, so are Sindhis, yet they speak their respective mother tongues at home. There are many other communities which deserve to be emulated in this respect. Instances are: Malayalis, Tamils, Punjabis, Gujaratis to name a few.
I was amazed to find that just four Gujarati families in Asmara, North East Africa had successfully preserved their mother tongue after nearly a hundred years of migration there! And their kids spoke chaste Hindi too just because, as they put it, they were amply exposed to Hindi Films right through their childhood and youth. We do have the resources to provide for such inputs. The Project Zaan has done a commendable effort with the Kashmiri-Devnagri script and language teaching materials. Many more efforts are being made across the country. There is a need to create an awareness about the fact that you cease to be a rightful heir to your heritage and legacy if you shun your history, culture, beliefs and language.
(Author is Head, Deptt. of Linguistics, Banaras Hindu University)
by Raj Nath Bhat
Book : Arnimaal
Author: Arjun Dev Majboor
Publisher: Nagraj Koul, New Delhi.
Price: Rs. 100/-
The octogenarian Kashmiri poet, critic and commentator, Arjun Dev Majboor, presents a very comprehensive account of the life and creativity of the 18th century Kashmiri love – poetess Arnimaal in the book under review. The author has collected thirty-six love songs attributed to the poetess whose appreciation has been given in a forty two-page text. The work is a befitting testimony of Arnimaal’s creative talent and the agony she has had to suffer due to the negligent attitude of her debased husband whom she was married at a very tender age and who in turn disowned her in the prime of her youth.
Majboor has acknowledged the help extended to him by his friends and former colleagues in unearthing facts about Arnimaal’s parental village Pahlawan – some 19 kilometers away from Srinagar.
There are several references to Kashmiri Pandit customs and rituals in her poetry. For instance:
kand naabad Eerundmutuy
Phand kErith tsolum kotuy
Khand kErnam luukan thiye
Kar yiye darshun diye!
Her choice of words demonstrates her knowledge of Sanskrit (mokh, darshun, parbat shila, balvir etc.), Persian (ashk, jaahil etc.), and Hindi/Hindustani (diyo, pii, piyo etc.), which indicates that Arnimaal had some exposure to other creative writings of the time.
Her songs have come down to us through traditional singers/musicians (as is the case with other stalwarts of the medieval Kashmir) and eventually their renderings immortalized her songs especially among lovelorn womenfolk. Arnirang goom shrawan hiye is one such song which one could hear in almost every mEEnzrath at the mid of night. I have observed women in tears whenever these lines used to be sung.
Majboor has been very wise in presenting Arnimaal’s love songs both in Nastaliq and the Kashmiri-Devnagri scripts. The compositions have thus become accessible to the people across the Pirpanjal. Majboor deserves to be congratulated and deeply appreciated for this piece of work.
[Reviewer is Head, Dept. of Linguistics, Banaras Hindu University.]
by Raj Nath Bhat
Book: A Dictionary of Kashmiri Proverbs
Author: Omkar N Koul
Publishers: Indian Institute of Language Studies, Delhi
Pages: vii+ 178
Price: Rs. 400.00
Dictionary of Kashmiri Proverbs is the latest addition to Professor Omkar N. Koul’svery long list of publications on Kashmiri. The ‘Dictionary’ has nearly one thousand two hundred entries of proverbs and sayings used in day-to-day speech and literary writings. The author has compiled the present edition primarily for the benefit of the displaced Kashmiris who do not have any exposure to nastaliq script. Its first edition done in 1992 employed nastaliq script. The dictionary makes entries of proverbs/sayings in Devanagri-Kashmiri also (courtesy: M.K.Raina) and gives its gloss/literal translation and possible equivalents or explanations in English. The preface to the book lists some of the famous definitions of proverbs and the author states therein that most of the Kashmiri proverbs are based upon or direct quotes from poetic compositions of famous saint-poets like Lalleshwari and Sheikh Noorudin/Nund Rishi. A significant chunk is derived from Sanskrit and Perso-Arabic sources and the latter have a noticeable religious/ cultural import.
Unlike many other languages Kashmiri proverbs are long and many are in a dialogic-question answer style. The author opines that there are three broad types of proverbs in Kashmiri: i) simple statements, ii) Conjoined phrases, and iii) proverbs in dialogic mode. I shall give some instances here: namee daanam chuyrahate-jaanam "ignorance is the peace of mind/body/life". It is a simple statement, possibly from Turkish sources. draag tsali tI daag tsali nI"Famine will go away/disappear but not the stigma"; is an instance of the second type. Paadshah sEEb gur nIkhevaan zab, yeli nI peyas teli kheyi rab'Oh King! The horse does not eat zab-(a thick grass that grows in water borne ponds around paddy fields), he will eat mud when nothing is given him to eat’- an instance of the third type which means that a hungry person/animal eats anything. (This proverb has not been included in the Dictionary). There are instances where two proverbs contradict each other in content. Professor Koul comments that not all proverbs should be taken as words of wisdom.
The author states that the proverbs listed in the Dictionary have been collected from both primary, i.e. native speech, and secondary sources, i.e. extant texts that have employed or listed proverbs. The proverbs have been arranged in an alphabetical order according to the Kashmiri/Indian system beginning with vowels I to o and followed by consonants k to h. The book is a valuable edition to literature on Kashmiri language and a welcome volume for us who fondly wish to learn more and more about our ancestors’ wisdom and experiences.
(Author is Head, Deptt. of Linguistics, Banaras Hindu University)
by Raj Nath Bhat
Book: Kulyat-I-Raaz (Kashmiri & Urdu)
Author: Pandit Vidyalal Koul ‘Raaz’
Price: Rs. 125/ pp. 160.
Kulyaat-I-Raaz is a collection of Urdu Ghazals and Kashmiri poetry by Pandit Vidyalal Koul ‘Raaz’ written over a period of more than seventy years. Born in 1912 at Kuloosa, Bandipora, Kashmir, Raaz and his only brother were brought up by their young widowed mother with great tribulation and suffering. There was scarcity all around him. As a young kid he had to work as a school watchman at night to earn and thereby continue his studies. In 1946 he obtained first class in ‘Adiib Fazil’ from the then Punjab University. With a natural flavour and a fertile, creative mind Raaz began penning down his literary pieces at a very young age. The present collection is just a fraction of what he wrote all these years for the displacement of 1990 robbed him of significant number of his very valuable creations. His reluctance to get his work published delayed its appearance but his sons and daughter finally succeeded in persuading him to agree. His Professor son Ashok Kaul arranged to bring it out from Varanasi as a token of their (sons and daughter) love and esteem on their Papaji’s 96th birthday. With a preface by Dr. Salman Raghib and a foreword by his illustrious sonProfessor Ashok Kaul, the volume comprises nearly fifty Ghazals, over twenty Nazams in Urdu and nearly thirty Bhajans, Nazams and Ghazals in Kashmiri.
There is a prose piece in Urdu at the end which he wrote to Mama Sahab, the Qazi of his native village on 22nd September,1990 during the first year of Displacement. The poetic creations are a vivid reflection of Papaji’s (Raaz Sahab’s) depth of understanding and expanse of observation. His control over the twin languages is superb. The reader takes deep breaths frequently to grasp and reach out to the imagery, symbolism pervading in each creation. There are poems of mundane love, of the enchanting bounty of Kashmir, devotional songs; one gets transfixed.
Some instances are:
(Author is Head, Deptt. of Linguistics, Banaras Hindu University)
by Raj Nath Bhat
Book: Pentachord ( | HTML)
Author: M.K. Raina
Publisher: Expressions, Vasai
Price: Rs. 30/-
Pentachord is the second short story collection of M.K. Raina, his first inEnglish. His previous collection ‘tsokmodur’ in Kashmiri earned him wide applaud. The present collection carries a translated version of one of the stories ‘Advice’ from the previous collection. The other four are his novel creations.
Advice, the first story of the collection is an engrossing account of how a well to do looking gentleman beguiles tender and young kids who with an aim to make a kill, return cheated and heart broken. The story is placed in the sixties of the 20th century when at the end of a session, students used to sell their used books at half the original price to the new entrants to the class. Considering themselves quite clever, the boys search for customers who could pay them the maximum. But the person, who rather hunts them, turns out to be strong-headed and calculative and the boys return home with not a penny for the books, which has hardly been ever read during the whole year! The story takes you to Srinagar to roam the roads and lanes of the city on a tonga along with the children. At the end you feel sorry for the children who are cheated but such were the times and such is the human nature.
The last game, the second story of the collection too revolves round a group of young bosom friends who upon learning about the nuances of, then novel game cricket, manage to get a home made willow bat, four sticks for wickets, and a wooden ball to play the great game. When their ball breaks the windowpanes of a house adjacent to where they had decided to play, an angry gentleman from the house snatches away their bat etc. and demands a substantial sum of money for the damages from them, the poor boys. The terrified boys fail to muster courage thereafter to reassemble at one place or to move around in that area lest they get caught for not paying for the damages to the house. The wish to play the first game turns out to be their last, which not only brings to an end the thickness among them but also kills their spirits and courage.
The third, Charu and the witch, is the story of fraternal love and courage of a young boy who with the assistance and support of his pet dog succeeds in bringing back his lost friend from the clutches of a witch who had been a symbol of terror in the whole village for quite some time. The story is set in an imaginary location on the banks of a river with a dense forest at the other bank where the witch is believed to take her victims. The loss of his young friend jolts the young boy who plans his entry into the forest and with the assistance of his pet, reaches the witch’s hideout. He very cleverly kills the witch and brings his friend and many other victims of the witch back to the village. This story employs conventional notions of magic and witchcraft and it will enthrall young minds and give them a spirit of brotherhood and fill them with courage and determination. Adults may read it and then narrate it to their grandchildren.
Three questions is the longest story in the collection with several sub-plots interwoven within. It is an account of a young prince whose search for answers to three questions, before getting crowned, takes him incognito to several places and in due course of time he finds answers to the questions through experience. The writer employs myth, human failings, ambitions and achievements to unravel the mysteries of life. Wherein lies one’s lasting pleasure? In wealth, name and fame, contentment; what does a woman love most? Her jewelry, beauty, children; what is it that one cannot conceal for long? One’s skill, weaknesses, roots. The prince learns answers to these questions by living with and learning about the lives of several people in different places. His search makes him wiser, so is the reader.
The last story Kaal chakra invokes the concepts of rebirth, karma, karmaphal to bring home the fact that no ill-deed goes unpunished. A murderer is destined to suffer torment and torture and the rebirth of the same person who one might have killed may bring him peace. A person who deserts and disrespects his own parents does not live happily for long. These are sociological and cultural issues and Indian tradition has stood the test of time and the west too has come to realize the importance of caring for one’s old parents. But in a blind aping of the west, we tend to forget our ennobling customs and beliefs as caring for the old, nonviolence and so forth. The story is engrossing. Adults may read and then narrate them to their kids.
As far as the content part of the stories is concerned, I believe I say something tangible about it. Some stories are quite good for our young minds and some are in traditional katha mode, where moral issues have been taken up. Language is quite good.
English is not our mother-tongue, yet we excel in it. Every language provides scope for extra treatment and complexities, be it one’s mother-tongue or not. In my opinion, the language part of the stories is extremely well and I believe that the author’s aim has been to focus both the young as well as middle aged audience.
[Reviewer is Head, Dept. of Linguistics, Banaras Hindu University.]
Review By: Prof. Raj Nath Bhat (BHU)
The growth of a language is accelerated by employing it in advanced intellectual activities in various knowledge domains, such as philosophy, theology, science, politics, economics, aesthetics, creative literature, etc. Astagnant society finds little chances of change and progress; hence its language does not undergo any noticeable growth in its vocabulary. Contacts due to economic-political reasons among diverse linguistic-cultural groups enrich languages of the respective communities in different ways depending upon the roles various languages play in day to day life. In a contact situation where the language of one group dominates that of the other group(s), the dominated language borrows lexical items extensively from the dominant language to fulfill the requirement of such items in specific domains and also as a mark of prestige attached to the lexis of the dominating language. The flow in the reverse direction is limited to items related to flora and fauna, cuisine etc. provided those entities happen to be alien to the dominant culture. Kashmiri language has been quite receptive to foreign languages and it has borrowed ample number of lexical items from several sources, namely Persian, Arabic, Turkish, English etc., thus enriching its own stock drawn from Vedic Sanskrit.
The Valley of Kashmir has been a center of learning (Sharada Peetha) for over two millennia where Sanskrit and Buddhist scholarship attained glory, depth and stature. With the advent of Islam in the last quarter of 14th century C.E. and the subsequent replacement of Sanskrit with Persian (during the reign of Zainul Abadin) as the language of court and administration, the Persian language came to occupy a position of dominance and prestige. The Persian literary canon was popularized through translations into Vernacular Kashmi ri. Consequently, Persian along with Arabic and Turkish words found an easy entrance into Kashmiri lexicon. English education was introduced in the 19th century and Urdu replaced Persian in the first decade of the 20thcentury, paving way for further enrichment of Kashmiri. At the dawn of independence Kashmiri had cultivated a strong literary tradition with Azad, Mahjoor, Nadim among others enriching it through their creative and literary historical writings with a vocabulary drawn from sources mentioned above.
The work under review provides a linguistic study of borrowed items in Kashmiri with special focus on Perso-Arabic and English loan words. Based on the author’s Ph.D. thesis that he submitted at Kurukshetra University, the book is divided into five chapters. The first chapter provides a brief introduction to Kashmiri language, its dialects, scripts, literary writings and delineates the scope of the work. The second chapter gives an account of the impact that Persian, Arabic, and English made on Kashmiri lexicon. The third chapter gives an exposition of borrowing, types of borrowing and causes of borrowing. It forms a theoretical foundation on which the remaining chapters are based. The fourth chapter, the longest in the book (pp. 24-95), analyses ‘linguisticchange’ that has affected loan words at the phonological level, compound formation, and semantics. The Perso-Arabic fricative consonants x/G/f/v, stop consonant Q have been invariably nativized, i.e. they have been replaced by nearest Kashmiri counterparts kh/g/ph/w.Similary, vowels in instances like re:sham ‘silk’ have been changed (ri:shim). Some words, like asli ‘real’ adab ‘literature’, have been retained in their original formbecause they do not violate any sound rules operating in Kashmiri. The final vowel has been dropped in some, and the final consonant has been aspirated in some other instances: xarbuza ‘melon’> kharbuz; shak ‘suspicion’> shakh. Meaning expansion has occurred in examples like sabzi ‘greenery’ in Persian > ‘vegetables of all colours’ in Kashmiri. Meaning shift has occurred in instances like daftar ‘ file of papers’ in Persian > ‘office’in Kashmiri. Some other examples of meaning change are: alm as ‘diamond’ > ‘sharp’ ; dam ‘breath’> ‘suffocation’and so on. The author has given a very rich and elaborate list of loan words from Perso-Arabic and English that are in use in Kashmiri and have undergone various kinds of sound or meaning change or both. The chapter V provides a brief note on loan translations where we find that Persian and English idioms and proverbs have been literally translated into Kashmiri. Some interesting instances are: harkat kar barkath kari from Persian az toharkat az xuda barkat. There is a rich bibliography atthe end of the book. The work will be useful to students and scholars in language, literature and dictionary making.
Name of Book : Linguistic Traditions of Kashmir: Essays in Memory of Pandit Dinanath Yaksh
Edited by : Mrinal Kaul and Ashok Aklujkar, New Delhi & Jammu
Published by : DK Print world and The Harabhatta Shastri Indological Research Institute.
Price : Rs. 1250; US$ 62.50.Pages : xxxiii + 609.
Review by : Raj Nath Bhat, Professor, Dept. of Linguistics, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi.
Sanskrit scholarship suffered a sudden break and a loss of momentum when Persian came to occupy her place as the language of administration and royalty in the sub-continent. The tradition of a continuous flow of commentaries and treatises on earlier knowledge texts either slowed down or stopped. Even the preservation of knowledge texts became an uphill task. The destruction of libraries added a new dimension to the colossal loss of the knowledge and tradition of a civilization. A revival of Sanskrit learning made a second beginning during the British rule and a huge corpus of manuscripts has been procured and preserved.
For over two millennia, ‘Sanskrit-Kashmir’ has been a major center of learning and scholarship in almost all branches of knowledge. During the last century or more Kashmir Shaivism and aesthetics has engaged scholars’ attention in a noticeable way, but very little has been done to explore the linguistic traditions of the region. The present Volume brought out in memory of Pandit Dinanath Yaksh- one of the doyens of Sanskrit scholarship of the twentieth century- is a noble, rich, refreshing and scholarly tribute to the great Pundit. The Volume comprises twenty one essays authored by nineteen eminent scholars including such stalwarts as George Cardona, Johannes Bronkhorst, VN Jha, Raffaela 40 The monthly här-vanTorella, C. Rajendran, P. Visalakshy, Bettina Baumer, HC Patyal among others. Mrinal Kaulone of the editors- has given a thoughtful introduction to the linguistic traditions of Kashmir, besides providing, in the appendices, a very rich list of Sanskrit manuscripts from Kashmir that are available across the country and abroad.
The world of scholarship has maintained for quite some time now that Patanjali, the author of Mahabhashya, was a native of Gonda- east-central India, but Ashok Aklujkar in the present Volume argues that Patanjali was a native of the region between Madra and Punjab i.e. Kashmir. Despitebeing a grammatical text, Mahabhashya for several centuries occupied a pride of place with the kings as well as scholars in Kashmir. The rulers ensured continuation of its study which was linked to the welfare of the region and royalty. The Mahabhashya provides ample geographical details that can relate it to Kashmir. Aklujkar’s meticulously worked outessays cover nearly two hundred pages of the Volume.
Of the eight grammatical schools of ancient India, namely Indra, Kashakrtsna, Apishali, Shaktayana, Panini, Amara and Chandra, the Paninian grammatical thought has pervaded the linguistic scholarship in Kashmir and there have been scholars who went on to modify, reinterpret, even differ from the dominant Paninian tradition on several occasions. Rajatarangini testifies to the fact that “Kashmir has played a key role in the preservation of the commentatorial tradition associated with the Mahabhashya” ( p.278). Twokinds of Paninian grammarians co-existed in Kashmir- the orthodox who followed Patanjali and Bhartrihari rigorously, and free thinkers who proposed altogether different interpretations of Astadhyaya where this seemed useful. Udbhata (8th cent.CE) belonged to the latter class. Sadly, the free thinkers could not last longer and their texts were subsequently lost. Katantra, a pedagogical grammar of Sanskrit, introducedby Sharvavarman shows a very strong dependence on Panini and Katyayana despite differing from Astadhyaya in its treatment of some phonological rules and derivational processes. Uvata, a predecessor of Mahidhara, for the first time makes a distinction between Shiksha texts andPratishakhyas- the former is a text of phonetics and the latterthat of phonology. Chandra vyakarana does not discuss Vedic Sanskrit, hence the Vedic portion of Panini is absent in it. Chandra vyakarana and Katantra have impacted Kashika in a significant way. Kashika is believed to be a joint work of the king Jayaditya and his minister Vamana and it is an “excellent aid forunderstanding the pithy sutras of Panini” ( p.560). The grammatical thought pervades monistic Shaivism in a very subtle way. In Trika singular, dual and plural numbers are analogous to Shiva, Shakti, and nara respectively (p.215).Shaivas do not believe in any unrelated components of a sentence. For the mall syntax is related through the agent (p. 468). Utpaladeva, a disciple of Somananda, in his masterpiece Ishwara pratyabhijnakarika overwhelmingly appropriates Bhartrhari’s epistemology to oppose the Buddhist notion of depersonalized universe made up of discrete and discontinuous realities, and to establish the Shaiva doctrine of absolutely unitary universe. The strong influence of Paninian thought can be gauged from the fact that in the last quarter of the nineteenth century Pandit Ishwara Kaula authored the first ever grammar of Kashmiri in Sanskrit which was published by the Asiatic Society under the guidance of Sir GA Grierson.
In her Foreword to the Volume, Kapila Vatsyayan rightly observes that the vigorous intellectual tradition of Kashmir in varied fields exhibits an interdisciplinary or multi-disciplinary epistemological base. She believes that the Volume shall persuade scholars in future to undertake elaborate analyses of texts and commentaries from Kashmir preserved in different parts of India and abroad. The Volume indeed provides ample material for researchers to be motivated and persuaded to undertake research on a massive scale on the philosophical and linguistic heritage of the subcontinent- Buddhist, Vaishnava, Jain, Shaiva etc. Iwish the editors bring out a series of Volumes in the years to come where all schools of thought get plenty of space and exposure. The editors deserve all admiration and praise for conceiving and subsequently working out a Volume of such superb merit and scholarship.
The publishers deserve a word of admiration too for the care and attention with which they have brought it out. I could find just one singular error in the whole text on p. 30, para 1, line four classifie as in place of classifies.
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