Kashmiriat - A concept that has gone awry
nsidious attempts are being made to equate 'Kashmiriat' with the ongoing clamour for 'Azadi'. Some non-Kashmiri pseudo intellectuals have talked of wounds having been inflicted on the Kashmiri identity. By their reasoning and logic, the identity they are talking of is the identity of Kashmiri Muslims. This is a perversion of the acute kind as it negates the historical past of Kashmir, which, incidentally, is very rich and varied. They would, it seems, believe that nothing existed in Kashmir before the advent of Islam and currently nothing else matters except the Kashmiris subscribing to Islam.
'Kashmiriat' is much more than the Muslim population of Kashmir. It denotes a composite culture which flowed from a history of more than 5000 years taking in its compass the Nagas, the Pisachas, the Hindus, the Buddhists and now the Muslims. Tucked into a beautiful valley, Kashmir, gifted by nature with strong and less accessible barriers on all sides, interestingly, was the last state to submit to Islamic rule some two centuries after most of the northern India had been conquered and brought under the 'banner of the crescent'. The names and deeds of mighty monarchs like Ashoka and Kanishka of the Indian mainland are inseparably linked with Kashmir. Simultaneously, the exploits and achievements of Lalitaditya Muktapida, Jayapida, Sankar Varman, Jayasimha, Zain-ul-Abidin (Budshah), Yousuf Shah, all rulers of Kashmir, have their justifiable place in the annals of India.
'Kashmiriat' is the common lingua franca of a people within the geographical limits of Kashmir Valley. This language is an amalgam of Dardi, Sanskrit, Pushtoo and Persian languages. Kashmiri is neither a Hindu dialect nor a Muslim language. It has been born out of local conditions taking within it the nuances of the indigenous culture and tradition. Is a local Muslim, therefore, more Kashmiri than a Pandit or a Sikh? This language has been enriched by Lal Ded, Sheikh Noorudin, Arnimal, Habba Khatoon, Mahmood Gami, Abdul Ahad Azad, Gulam Mohd Mahjoor, Master Zinda Kaul, Dinanath Nadim, Abdul Rehman Rahi, Avtar Krishen Rehbar, Chaman Lal Chaman, Ghulam Nabi Khayal, Shahid Badgmi, Ali Mohd Lone, Ghulam Rasool Santhosh, Tej Bahadur, and many many more. It is no special preserve of any class, sect or group.
'Kashmiriat' is Muslim Maliks of Anantnag being traditional receivers of a part of the offerings at Amar Nath Cave. Maliks, it was, who rediscovered the cave long back. It is both Muslims and Hindus observing strict abstinence, including non eating of meat, during the festivals of Batmallo Saheb in Srinagar and Rishi Saheb in Anantnag. It is a Hindu new born babe suckling at the breast of a Muslim neighbour because the mother is not in a position to do so. Kashmiriat is that Muslim attendants at Shahi Hamdan Mosque in Srinagar, where a spring of "Kali' is also located, entering the spring premises, for cleaning purposes, blindfolded. Yes, because Goddess 'Kali' is believed to be in a state of disrobing. It is Hindu devotees tying wish chords on the fencing of Maqdoom Saheb located on Hariparbat hill. It is Sheikh Abdullah performing the Daster Bandi of Pt. Nila Kanth Hakhu, the Engineer-in charge, for successfully completing the renovation and rebuilding of Hazratbal shrine. It is the Muslim and Hindu Engineers, workers and local people jointly approaching Pt. Kasha Kak (a well known ascetic) at Nunnar, to seek his blessings for completing the construction of Gandherbal canal, till then dogged by unforseen mishaps. It is both Muslims and Hindus thronging the village of Vesu, near Qazigund, to seek blessings from Sona Saheb, a Muslim saint. Kashmiriat is Muslim masons, carpenters and labourers building Hindu Temples. It is Hindu neighbour declining even water in the house of the in-laws of Muslim neighbour's daughter because that is not the tradition. It is the Muslim neighbour or friend acting as pall bearer for a dead Hindu neighbour and vice versa. It is Hindus and Muslims throwing open their houses and facilities to each other to perform the marriages of their wards.
'Kashmiriat' is Hindus and Muslims together celebrating the festival of Badamwari. It is Hindus and Muslims greeting each other on the occasion of 'Id' and Shivratri. It is both together praying at the shrine of Baba Rishi. It is Rishi Saheb and Devi Angan located in the same premises in Anantnag sharing the same spring of water. 'Kashmiriat' is a Kashmiri walking the length and breadth of the valley without feeling as an outsider anywhere. It is Muslim women singing at the marriage of their Hindu neighbour's daughter.
'Kashmiriat' never interfered with pursuit of one's religion. Hindu and Muslim shrines existed together side by side. It thrived on the simple philosophy of 'Haak Bhatta'. Kashmiriat is the history and legend of Burzhom archeological finds, of Shankaracharya temple, of Martand temple, of ruins of Avantipur and Pandrethan, of Dastegir Sabib and Naqashband Saheb, of Tulla Mula, of Chrar-i-Sharif, of Waris Shah's Chahh, of Pari Mahal, of Habba Khatoon's songs, of Arni Maal's Bhajans, of dalliance of Kota Rani, of exploits of Rinchin Shah, of Nilmat Purana & Rajtarangni, of Abhinav Gupta of Mahayana Budhisim, of Muslim Conference and National Conference, of "Hamalawar Khabardar, Hum Kashmiri Hain Tayar."
The present turmoil has nothing to do with 'Kashmiriat'. If at all, it is aimed at killing this feeling. Kashmir and Kashmiriat cannot be imagined without the presence of a Kashmiri Pandit. He is an inalienable part of this tradition whose relationship with his Muslim brothers was beautifully described by that great poet, Mahjoor. "hend Gay Shakar, Dod Gay Muslim, Dodte Shakar Milnaviv Paanwaen' (Hindus are Sugar & Muslims Milk, mix the two). Sheikh Abdullah described them as "Salt" in food.
The present cry is certainly not for 'Kashmiriat' but for a Muslim Kashmir. Muslim fundamentalism assiduously fanned by Pakistan and generously funded by Arab countries, has built up a movement for total Islamisation of Kashmir. Winning Kashmir for Islam has to be, necessarily, at the cost of 'Kashmiriat' which is being conveniently used as a tool to bewilder a section of the Indian and world public opinion. Ironically, even on this account, the Kashmiri Muslim leadership of the time finds commonality of identity with the Muslims of Pakistan and not with the Indian Muslims.
A Kashmiri Pandit is inalienably tied to Kashmir and 'Kashmiriat'. Wherever he is, he always remembers his homeland. He is nostalgic about the Subziwallals of Habba Kadal, Fishsellers of Bohri Kadal, Singhara collectors of Sonawari, Pandas of Mattan, Ponywallah of Pahalgam, Halwais of Tula Mulla, Kangri sellers of Chrar-e-Sharif, Snuf dealers of Zaina Kadal, Tara Singh jewellers of Hari Singh High Street, Shrimal sellers of Pampore, Orchardists of Sopore, Doonga plyers and Shikara padlers. He remembers Ghulam Mohd, his class fellow, Zooni, his sister. He remembers Pt Shivji, his teacher, and Saif-u-din, his head master, Ramzana the college peon and Narayyan joo, the laboratory assistant. He cannot forget Sona Kaul, the ubiquitous figure of the college. He is still tingled when he remembers somebody telling him "I am no pas but Wular cross".
He is a partner in the common heritage of the Wular, Dal, Anchar, Tarsar and Marsar lakes, the Lidder, the Veshav, the Sindh and the Jehlum rivers, the Aharbal falls, the Nishat and Shalimar Bagh, Tosa Maidan and Yousmarg, Pahalgam and Gulmarg, Harwan and Kokernag, Watlab and Aishmuqam, Sangam and Sangrampur, Batapore and Islam Yarbal, Shadipur & Gangabal, Vaskura and Rehbab Saheb.
A Kashmiri Pandit would do anything to be a Kashmiri but he is seen as an impediment to Islamisation. A Kashmir without Kashmiri Pandit will be no Kashmir at all.
|*A,K. Kaul left Kashmir in 1957 to take up a job with central government. He was in one of the prime security agencies of GOI. He saw active service in 1962 Indo-China war in NEFA (now called Arunachal Pradesh), 1965 mass infiltration in J&K and Indo-Pak war of 1971 on active posting in Kashmir.His government connections ended in 1994.
He has a flair for writing, particularly on subjects of history and politics as well as on social and cultural affairs. He worked as Editor-In-Chief of the prestigious Koshur Samachar, a Kashmiri Samiti, Delhi publication, from 1987 to 1992 and again from 2002 to 2008.He also has been doing freelance writing for some national papers and magazines. He also worked as Political Editor of the monthly magazine ‘Decide’ for three years (1999-2002). Presently is a regular contributor of a Delhi based weekly paper the ‘Koshur Gazette.’ In association with Mr Sunil Shakdher, a well-known KP leader,has set up an NGO Trust named SK FOUNDATION.
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Can this Kashmiryat be revived in full strength from both sides. I just want to know. We all miss Kashmir and Kashmiryat.
Added By vijay koul
A thought provoking article indeed! You deserve al kudos for the versatile description of Kashmiriyat, an oft-abused term.
Added By JL Bhat