- An Introduction by Sh. G. N. Raina
The history of India has for its landmarks not wars and emperors but saints and scriptures.
- Dr. S. Radhakrishanan
The nations have a history as well as geography. They grow not by the sun and stars, the wind and rain but by the creative Spirits who by precept and practice, work toward the establishment of universal brotherhood of man, overcoming the artificial barriers of caste, creed or colour.
In the last millennium, Kashmir, as also the rest of India, has produced a galaxy of great saints, seers and savants who have enriched, elevated and refined life and helped the people at large in distress. In India, we have had illustrious God-men like Kabir, Tulsi, Surdas, Tuka Ram, Srikrishna Chaitanya, Eknath, Narsi Mehta, Tyagaraja, Dhyaneshwar, Tiruvalluvar, Namdev, Mirabai, Dayanand, Guru Nanak, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Vivekananda, Swami Ram, Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi, Ramana Maharishi, Sri Satya Sai Baba, and Sri Aurobindo. In Kashmir, too, we have had the great fortune of producing greatsaints like Lalleshwari, Rupa Bhawani, Sheikh Nuruddin, Parmanand, Rishipir, Jeewan Shah, Lassa Sahib, Anandji, Ramji, Sahib Kaul, Manas Razdan, Zaikak, Kakaji Mastana, Grata Bab, Ramjoo Tabardar, Vidya Dar, Shankar Razdan, Bhagwaan Gopinath Ji, Kashkak, Sona Kak, Nandlal Ji, Swami Lakshman Joo, Sati Devi and Mathura Devi.
These saints belong to all times and to all nations. They transcend the bonds of communities and conventions, place and time. They are born to serve God by serving His creatures. A saint, a seer and a sage is, indeed an universal phenomenon.
In the present troubled times when the people of the Valley, Kashmiri Pandits in particular, are passing through untold miseries, the only solace comes from our glorious philosophic and spiritual traditions enriched by our saints and sufis. The sayings of Lalla Arifa echo and re- echo to this day. She sang in the language of the masses. A mystic of the purest ray serene, Lalla urged the people to rise above caste, creed and colour and see the light within.
(Siva is all-pervading and present in each particle.
Never differentiate between a Hindu and a Muslim.
If you are shrewd and intelligent, know THY SELF.
There lies acquaintance with god".)
Long after her, Parmanand gave us a recipe for attaining peace of mind.
"SANTOSHI BYALI BHAVI ANAND PHAL"
(Contentment leads to perennial joy and bliss.)
We have not been able to collect details of most of our saints and seers. But a good number of them are represented here and most of these have been drawn from our special numbers issued in the past. We are grateful to the learned authors whose articles on various saints have been reproduced here for the benefit of all, particularly our youth, who, I am sure, will derive inspiration and strength from the lives of these Sages and Seers.
Kashmir has been rightly referred to as Rishi Vaer. All rishis and mystics have not been men or women of scholarship and erudition. They were, however, human beings given to renunciation, contemplation and compassion to attain spiritual heights.
This street stands witness to the high learning and the spiritual traditions of the Kashmiri Pandit community. Kashmir\'s greatest saint of the past 250 years - Pt. Mansa Ram Razdan lived here during the Pathan rule.
Swamiji was not only a saint, he had great literary attainments. One of his more important contributions to the Kashmiri literature is his Ramayana in Kashmiri verse in Sharda script.
Swami Sonakak, one of the greatest mystic saints of Kashmir was known variously as Sona Bab (father), Sona Bayu or Sona Matoo (spiritually possessed).
In the first part of this century, it was a common sight for the people of Kashmir to see a Muslim Saint roaming on the streets of Srinagar, with a loose long gown (PHIRAN) hanging down his shoulders.
Few know him but those who came in contact with him could not but feel deeply impressed by his saintly nature, contentment and deep dispassion. He was a true Karma-Yogi.
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