From Tagore land to Lalded land

From Tagore land to Lalded land

By Dileep Kumar Kaul

Kashmir: Bittarkita Uttaradhikar is, perhaps, the first ever book written about Kashmir, in Bengali, by two Bengali researchers Prabhat Goswami and Saroj Bandyopadhyaya, for the Bengalis. The title translated into English reads ‘Kashmir: A disputed legacy’, which reminds us of a book with the same title written by Alistair Lamb, many years ago. But this book has in no way influenced the Bengali book. The title has occurred to the authors spontaneously because the content of the book clearly visualises Kashmir as an Indian entity, contrary to what Alistair lamb's book contains.

Before this, Jagmohan's 'Frozen Turbulence' was translated into Bengali as 'Stabdh Jhor' but it was not aimed at Bengali readers. This book examines all the aspects which constitute contemporary Kashmir including terrorism, traditions, folklore and history, but what is most important from the point of view of common Indians is that when asked about Kashmir most of them still say that 'Vaishno Devi' in Kashmir. To clarify the geography of Kashmir the very first chapter of the book has been written. This is the most beautiful reading on geography of Kashmir, I have ever come across. The three parts of the state are described as, "the whole state is like a three storeyed palace. The first storey is Jammu, after this the second storey is Kashmir and after that Ladakh, Baltistan, Gilgit etc. make the third storey". The spirit of Kashmir is very aptly described as, "poet's songs of praise, painter's brush, the clatter of invader's swords, the ascetic's hymns, together in a blend on one hand and the every changing faces of mother nature on the other hand constituted the cultural framework of this extraordinary part of earth". The lucidity and spontaneity of the language, in fact, makes the book attractive for all, the researcher or the common man. I am not aware of the response it has got in Bengal, but it must have been well received by the people in a land where everyone keeps some money every month to buy books.

Bengal is not merely a state of India. It is a phenomenon synonymous with Indian identity. So is Kashmir. Co-existence and religious tolerance are the key elements of both. Both have got personalities, poets or sages, who are loved by all, irrespective of caste, creed or colour. While discussing Lalded and her Vakhs (some of these are beautifully translated into Bengali by the authors), in the third chapter authors emphasise, "In every Vakh, the readers can find out the similarity with the songs of Rabindranath, Atul Prasad, Rajnikant Baul (a sect) or Lalan Faquirs songs".

In this very chapter the ancient traditions of folk music and folk literature of all the three parts of the state are underlined and their similarities with Bengal examined. Dogras, from the very beginning have been warriors. The valour of their heroes finds place in their folk songs. "Among these, the songs depicting the valour of Zorawar Singh and his associates Basti Ram, Ram Singh occupy a prominent place". The similarity of these with BengaliBarangeeti and Karkangeeti is emphasised. Like Bengali folk songs many Dogri songs also have Radha and Krishna as primary characters. In Ladakh spring is momentary, so there are many songs regarding spring. There also, they have songs about ancient heroes. One of them is Keshar.

Kashmiri songs and Bengali songs sound so similar that on hearing some Kashmiri songs some famous Bengali songs instantaneously rush to mind.Ladishah, the famous folk singing style of Kashmir, based on contemporary happenings is the same as Bengali Hapu Gaan.

What do these observations suggest? All the three parts of the state are one in spirit, in folk literature or music etc. In the book Bengal also appears to be a part of J&K or vice-versa. In this sense the book is the first and the foremost attempt to bring together two faraway states of India. It becomes amply clear that the basic constituting elements of India are not because of any religion or any composite culture, but due to an Indian spirit which has come into existence because of what its people have felt and borne for centuries. This spirit is the product of Indian people's ability to laugh, to struggle amidst the worst circumstances.

The authors understand the implications of Kashmir for the existence of India as a unified entity. That is why they have tried to have a holistic view of Kashmir (J&K) and linked it with the perspective of their own society/state. If communities anywhere in the world, do not understand their perspective they will never attempt to dwell in the perspective of other communities and the world will become compartmentalized. If there are no meeting points between two social groups an attempt to evolve these must be done and whosoever does not do it, is bound to wiped off this globe.

No serious attempt in this direction, in book or any other form has been made by anybody in our country. This book is a genuine attempt in that direction.

The unique identity of Kashmiri Brahmins is examined in their socio-cultural context. These are the people who have never compromised with the forces inimical to their country, who have a history of innumerable struggles as a community and who have always lived on their country, who have a history of innumerable struggles as a community and who have always lived on their own terms, "All over India, the laws of Manu determine the way of life, behaviour and social status of a man, but with these people it is different. They have created their own Vedas and Shastras, a separate Gangotri and a Haridwar, and different customs and traditions for themselves. In ancient times they had attained heights of excellence, in intellect, knowledge and governance of the country. It is said that after the pilgrimage to Sharada Tirtha, Shankaracharya came to Kashmir and was not happy to see the way of life of these Brahmins.

But his influence did not affect them. Kashmiri Pandits were exiled several times. The apathy of Indian government towards their deplorable condition is a matter of deep regret. The quick spread of fundamentalism among Kashmiri Muslims and their cunning designs to cleanse Kashmir of Hindus have made Pandits to leave their land. Kashmiri Pandits in large numbers were compelled to live in camps in Jammu and Delhi. Their organisation 'Panun Kashmir' has not been able to awaken Delhi". This was written in 1999. The government is still apathetic but various KP and national organisations have endorsed the concept of a separate homeland for KPs in Kashmir, in one way or the other.

Questioning the 'Quit Kashmir Movement' of Sheikh Abdullah in 5th chapter the authors unequivocally make a point which most of the people are aware of but do not want to talk about, "to what extent was it a movement for independence and to what extent a crusade to get rid of Hindu rule is a matter of research”. Sheikh Abdullah as a whole is taken into account in 6th chapter. He is explained as a tragic character of history. His immense potential as a leader and the tragic culmination is explained in detail. His character and life are summed up very meaningfully in following sentences, "overwhelmed with the dream of socialist revolution in his youth, Abdullah, the protest incarnate against the religious bigotry and the narrow minded Mulla-cracy, became anti-Hindu, anti-Congress and intriguing, selfish Abdullah in his middle age. Rest of his life was spent as cruel Abdullah obsessed with the family legacy, securing a safe place for Farooq".

The contradictions in his life make a very interesting reading, "Abdullah's long life abounds with peculiarities. Popularity on one hand and imprisonment on the other, Prime Minister's chair on one hand and a seat in the jail on the other, an eyesore for Pakistan on one side and reliability with Indian enveloped in doubt on the other, unconditional praises showered on one hand on being released from jail and tight security to protect his tomb on the other. Rise and fall of Abdullah is between these contradictions". This makes Abdullah the most interesting character in Kashmir Politics. Abdullah's party National Conference along with Awami Action Committee, Jamaati-Islami and People's Conference are without any hesitation explained as protectors of Sunni interests.

It was not only Kashmiris but the moulvis from UP and Bihar also who came to Kashmir at the behest of Jamaati-Islami and untiringly lectured against Indian republic and constitution. The weak Indian state lacked principals and the government machinery in J&K also contributed to terrorism. Songs and music which inculcated the spirit of Jihad and destructiveness are also discussed.

The 9th chapter which is the last one examines different aspects of the Kashmir tangle. But unlike in most of the books about Kashmir, the authors do not unnecessarily sensationalise or make any high claims about suggesting the solutions. The book  ends with a very humble question “Anagat Bhavishyatai Bolte Pare, Kashmir Samasyai Samadhan Ki Bhave Hobe? (Only the coming times will tell how the Kashmir problem will be solved?)

The famous Nirad Choudhary, before his death, had been all praise for this book. He had suggested an English translation for this book because the world needed such a book. The authors, in fairness, have started a movement, created a model to build bridges between different people. So this book deserves to be translated into Hindi also and if possible, in all the languages of the world.

Kashmir Bitarkita Uttaradhikar (Bengali)

Jointly Written By:

Prabhat Goswami and Saroj Bandypadhyay

Publishers: Bo-DWIP Prakashani

14/107, Golf Club Road, Calcutta-700033,

First Edition: 15th August 1999.


Cost: Rs 100/-

Powered by Company Name Company Name