Table of Contents

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir


Symbol of Unity


Cultural Heritage of Jammu and Kashmir

by Roopkrishen Bhat

The cultural heritage of Jammu & Kashmir cuts across all the regional, religious and ethnic barriers. The three regions may apparently look different keeping in view the geographical factors, but they have so much in common, acquired through age old association amongst the people of the State that it will be a stupendous task to isolate them culturally and politically. The Sindh, Chenab and Jhelum which flow through the three regions of this State, though originating from different sources, have taken along their flow so many upheavals, calamities, pangs and stories that it is simply impossible to reverse their course of flow. The common cultural heritage of the State is reflected in literature, language, religion, arts, crafts, music and pilgrimage centres of the State. The years of give and take amongst the people of the State resulting in cultural amalgamation to such an extent that efforts to study and analyse the people and their culture are stupendous.

Nagas and Pishachas, which form the ancient races of the State, have in course of history spread to the entire State. The traditions and customs of Nagas are pravalent in modified forms in various regions of the State even now. The faith and tradition of preaching and worshipping of each other's religions and pilgrimage centres has been a very unique and glorious tradition of the people of the State. The famous Hindu shrines and the equally famous Muslim pilgrimage centres are held in highest esteem by the people of every faith. The offerings made and obeisance paid at such places by people of all faiths has baffled and even bothered the conservative elements across the globe. The tradition of other forms of art like the Pahari paintings which have nurtured in Jammu region have its roots in Kashmir. We have a sizeable number of scholars and artists who have contributed and kept alive the trend of appreciation and practice of art cutting across the religious and regional bindings. The soofiana tradition of music of which Santoor is the world famous instrument, is the soul of music of this place.

Buddhism which is still followed in the Ladakh region of the State has its origin in the valley. It was preached and disseminated by the Kashmiri scholars in its earlier days. The Laddakhi script and Sharada lipi which was prevalent in the valley till the recent times, share the same origin in Brahmi. Kashmiri language spoken in the main valley has its dialects and sister languages in Kistwar, Doda and other areas of Jammu region.

The concern and passion of love for humanity without any bias for language, region and religion is very prominent in all the scholarly writings of J&K. Right from the poetry of Lal Ded, an eminent spiritual poetess of Kashmir to Abdul Ahad Azaad, a poet of modern era, all have sung songs of communal harmony, love and concern for man and humanity. Lalded and Nundrishi, through their verses, have underlined that a human being, however, ignorant and barren of ideas he may be, is capable of attaining the spiritual knowledge through his persistent efforts and dedication, thereby achieving greater heights. To acquaint himself with saintly qualities should be the main objective of a human being. All through the history of the State we see Muslim poets singing Bakhti songs and Hindu poets swearing by sufism. Scholars have shown the path of humanity to people in general, cutting across the religious and regional barriers.

Literature as an essence of life, analysis of human condition and a reflection of human society, has blessed us with ample opportunity to imbibe the true human values. With such rich tradition and under eminent and popular rulers like Budshah, people have been living together with amity, harmony and peace for centuries.

The pilgrimage centres like the one at Hari Parbat where monuments of all three religions with a temple, mosque and gurudwara co-exist, are the living signs of the communal harmony of the people of the State. The State has produced its glorious rulers like Maharaja Lalitaditya and Zainul Abidin - the Budshah, who not only conquered a major territory of the region but had carved a deep niche in the hearts of the people of all religions. In Budshah, the State had a great saviour of the mankind in general who, besides accelerating the developmental activities, initiated and patronised many forms of arts and crafts in Kashmir. History is witness that rulers who singled out a particular community or wanted to patronize one single faith have not heen able to last longer. They not only invited the wrath of people but of destiny as well.

The State has a unique distinction of being a place where people from all walks of life and from all across the, world have been coming to seek peace, knowledge and spiritual enlightenment. Kashmir which has traditionally becn called the place of saints, has remained a seat of learning known as Sharada Peetha for years together. The contribution of the scholars of this State to Sanskrit literature has simply been remarkable. Names of Pt. Kalhana, Bilhan, Mammat, Abhinav Gupta and many others have gone down as legends in the history of scholarship.

Unfortunately, during the recent past we have been witnessing a spurt of violence and intolerance where all human vahles have been thrown to the winds and unprecedented levels of crime, cruelty and outrage of humankind have been let loose. Enough blood has now flown down the rivers of Jhelum and Chenab and given the maturity, sensibility and farsightedness of the people of the State, it is expected that better sense prevails upon the misled and estranged elements to no longer flout further our traditional links of brotherhood. Today the greatest need for scholars and artistes of the State is to rise to the occasion and play an important role in maintaining and preserving our national integration and cultural heritage so that we come out of this temporary phase of turbulence and uncertainty to emerge stronger in future because divisions on the basis of religion, region or language or caste has not been our tradition. Such aberration and estrangement of our people from the national mainstream is to be resisted strongly.

Whatever may be the gravity of the present ongoing turmoil and estrangement of some sections of the people of the State, it is not going to hamper the age old traditions of communal harmony inherited from our ancestors because that is not what God desires. Azad's couplet "khodayas byon byon thaaven yod aasihan milat ta kom, prath akis algay zamina aasmanah aasihe" (had God desired to separate people on the basis of religion, caste or creed, every body would have his own separate earth and sky), is perhaps a befitting reply to the present situation in the State.



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