Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India


Lalla-Ded Educational and Welfare Trust

  Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India

| Home | Miscellaneous Articles |
Lalla-Ded Educational and Welfare Trust

Previous Issues

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri


A Bird's Eye View of Historicity of Kashmir's Relationship with Bharat

by Brij Nath Watal Betab

Origin and Archaeology :

Betab Geologists and archeologists tell us that the valley of Kashmir was originally a lake. In his most famous book 'The Valley of Kashmir', Walter R. Lawrence, who was the Settlement Commissioner during the British rule, and famous Archaeologist S.L. Shali, in his study book ‘Kashmir: History and Archaeology through the ages’, quoting the detailed study and scientific findings of Major Godwin Austen (1864), Lydekker (1878), Oldham(1893), Middlemiss (1911) and Yale-Cambridge expedition of 1935 lead by H. De Terra, have amply ‘demonstrated the results of four cycles of glaciations and intermittent inter-glacial periods, which were responsible for the origin and the shrinkage of the lake’. These scientific studies only authenticate what has already been mentioned in Nilamata Purana and Rajatarangini.

On the basis of these established facts that the valley of Kashmir was a lake, originates my conviction that Kashmir from its origin was a part of Bharat Desha.

Legend and Nilamata Purana :

I begin with the reference to the famous and the oldest Purana of Kashmir, the Nilamata Purana, which has been assigned the date of its origin between 6th century A.D. and 7th century A.D., by Dr. Ved Kumari Ghai, a veteran Sanskrit scholar from the present state of Jammu and Kashmir. Though the verse seventyone and seventytwo of Rajatarangini, Book one, make me confused about this date being accurate.

In the said verses, it is mentioned that ‘Krishna’s advisors were grumbling at the coronation of a women, Yasovati, the slayer of ‘Madhu’, Lord Krishna appeased them by reciting the verse from the Nilamata Purana that said that ‘Kashmir land is Parvati, and its king is a portion of Shiva and though he may be wicked, a wiseman who desires his own prosperity will not despise him’. Yasovati, as we know was the widow of Gonanda’s son Damodara, whom Krishna killed in a fight. So when at the time of coronation of Yasovati by Lord Krishna, a reference ismade to Nilamata Purana, the antiquity of its origin extends to the period of Lord Krishna’s life span.

The point Iwant to make is that Nilamata Purana in the context of the above can be dated to even an earlier period, even if we do not accept the calculations of Aryabhatta who dated the war of Mahabharata to be approximately around 3101 BC.

(Dr. P.V.Vartak in his article on the scientific dating of the Mahabharata war has derived the date of the initiation of the Mahabharata War to be 16th October 5561 B.C.) And if we accept Dr Vartak’s derivation, then the dates given by Dr. Ved Kumari Ghai are not close to authenticity as the Nilamata Purana opens with the inquiry of Janamejaya from Vaishampayana about the non participation of Kashmir’s king in the war of Mahabharata. (The point I am making is not to contradict the veteran scholar, to whom I am personally indebted and obliged to have 're- invented’ Nilamata Purana for us. My object is to examine the antiquity of Kashmir’s proximity to Bharat Desha.) The point I want to make is that the Nialmata Purana, Rajatarangini and the Brangish Samhita are the sources of most important linkages and proximity of Kashmir with the main land India. Elaborating on the first point that the valley of Kashmir was a lake, Nialmata Purana tells us that its original inhabitants were Nagas, who were the progeny of Prajapati Kashyapa and his wife Kadru, the daughter of Daksha.

Dr. Naval Viyogi has reproduced this tale from Mahabharata in his book ‘Nagas: The Ancient Rulers of India - Their Origin and History’:

Nagas, with Nil as their chief, who lends his name to Nil Naga as well as Nilamata purana, were terrified by the water born demon Jalodbhava, who had obtained boons from Brahama. Seeing destruction ofManu by Jalodbhava, Nila approached (or prayed) his father Kashyapa and requested him for help. Kashyapa in turn requested the Gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva to do the needful.

Nilamata Purana says that the gods proceeded to Naubhandan to punish the demon. (A mountain peak in south Kashmir area of Daksum is still known as Naubhandan. As the name suggests, it is widely believed that the gods tied their boats to this mountain cliff. Yet another tirtha by this name is mentioned by Kalhana above the lake of Kramasaras now known as Konsarnag.) As the demon was imperishable in the waters, Vishnu asked Ananta to make an outlet for the water by breaking forth the mountain barriers. He did accordingly by his plough. (This plough is said to have been used as a symbol by the Gods as well as by the earlier inhabitants of Kashmir. In our times National Conference Party adopted this symbol). The demon Jalodbhava before getting eliminated by Vishnu and Shiva is said to have created darkness that was dispelled by Shiva holding the Sun and the Moon in his hands.

So we now know that the demon is killed and the water of the lake is drained. The land is created.

Who does all this? The answer is the Hindu deities.

Who fights the demon? The Hindu Gods. Who drains the water? The Hindu gods. Who lends the name to the land thus created? The answer is Rishi Kashyapa. And who helped him? All the gods. And it is in this context that Brangish Samhita declares that:

Triloke yane tirthane tane Kashmir mandale Kashmir yane tirthane nityam tani Maheshwara.

Rajatarangini :

Point number two is about the coronation of Yasovati.

As already mentioned, and as explained by Pandit Kalhana in his Chronicle Rajatarangini, who establishes the queen Yasovati at the throne in Kashmir? The answer is Lord Krishna, the Vadav Putra from Bharat Desha.

Antarvatnim tasya patnim vasudevo bhyasecayat Bhavishyat putrarajyartham tasya deshaya gauravat.

Nagas and Kashmir :

Now coming to the links between the people of two places, Dr. Naval Viyogi writes that ‘from Kashmir to Assam, Himalayan ranges have been the largest centre of the abode of Naga race since the dark age of pre-historic time. We all know that the Naga races are spread almost all over the North east. In Kashmir almost every spring is associated with the memory of Nagas, be it Nilnaga, Anantnaga, Verinaga, Kausar Naga or any other Naga. Apart from this you will be astonished to know that Kashmiri Hindu ladies until the seventh exodus in 1989 would put such a head gear that consisted of a snake like long cover, with its front molded like a snake hood and the back side a long snake shaped tail. It is called pooch.

Dr. Afaq Aziz, a young scholar of the University of Kashmir in one of his published papers on 'Naga Totems of Kashmir' makes a detailed connection of Nagas of Kashmir with those of Assam. He links them by the tradition of their faith and belief, like placing the utensils of the deceased on the ground before the dead and the belief in rebirth. He links them through the rite of oath, where even marriages are decided and arranged through promise. He then talks about the family rite of Nagas wherein they pierced the ears of their sons and daughters in childhood. Now all these rituals are still prevalent in Kashmir, and to the astonishment of many, it is prevalent in all the communities of Kashmir. Although piercing of the ears of a boy is out of fashion now.

So Nagas of Kashmir had a cultural link with the Nagas of other parts of this land.

Kumkum or Kesar :

Now I may delve in the same breath about the agriculture commodity called Kumkumor the Kesar, of which Kashmiris feel so proud. And it is this Kesar to which Bilhana refers to when he says:

Sahodara kumkum kesaranam bhavanti nunam kavita vilasaha, 

Na Sharda desham pase drashtas tesham yadan yetra maya praroha.

(Poetry and the Kesar are the two beautiful creations of Sharda desha, the Kashmir, oh friend and these I have not seen any where else).

Now this Kesar is a gift of Nagas given to Kashmir. The story dates back to the time when the Aryan people inhabited Kashmir. They had an understanding with the Nagas. Aryan people would come down to plains during the winter which used to be so severe. And it so happened that one Aryan Vaid, a doctor in today’s parleys cured a Naga. The Naga having got cured gave his Messiah a memorable gift and the gift was a bulb of Kesar, the Kumkum. It is even today accepted that the Kesar first was produced in a spring in the Padmapora now Pampore in Kashmir, the spring again being associated with the Nagas. In fact a spring in Kashmir is called a Nag even today in the local Kashmiri language.

I have talked about the land, the people and some agriculture. Now let me talk about water, as no life sustains with out water.

Vitasta :

Vishnu Dharramottra Purana refers to Kashmir as Vaitastika, the land of the river Vitasta. Vitasta is the main river of Kashmir valley that for no reason has

come to be called Jhelum. The river has its source at a place called Vethvotur, near the famous spring of Verinag and passing through the valley moves to the separated part of this land across the LOC, to finally merge with the ocean.

Nialmata Purana says and Rajatarangini quotes that it was the Sati, the consort of Lord Shankara, who on the prayers of Kashyapa and motivation of the Lord himself assumed the form of a river.

Shankara called her Vitasta as 'Hara' had excavated a ditch with the spear measuring one Vitasti. The legend to this effect, related in the Purana and reproduced by the author of Haracaritacintamani and also mentioned in the Sanskrit chronicle Rajatarangini, describes Vitasta as the manifestation of Lord Shiva’s consort Parvati. "Shiva at the request of Rishi Kashyapa prevailed upon the Goddess to show herself in the land (Kashmir) in the shape of a river, in order to purify its inhabitants from the sinful contact with the Pisacas." Vitasta Mahatmayam that is a part of Brangih Samhita, which has come to us in the form of a Samvada, a dialogue between the Bharivi and the Bhairava, authenticates this:

Yato devi Bhagwati Vitasta papanashini Nis samarita mahadeva touya bukt-hitecheya.

Sanskrit Language :

Continuing with the Lord Shiva and the Mother Shakti, I now come to the cultural aspect of the topic and begin with the language.

We all know that Kashmir has been a great seat of learning and has produced great Sanskrit scholars. I am not going to name them all .They are known to the world.

However I would draw your attention to Shiva Purana and the famous Swami Amaranth cave shrine, where a naturally formed Ice Lingam wanes and waxes with the moon. It is said and we all believe that the Lord narrated the story of immortality or the Amar Katha to Parvati in this cave.

I may not assign a date to this period, but we believe in its authenticity. We also believe that Sanskrit is the language of Gods. So we believe that the Lord must have narrated the Amar Katha in this language. Going by this maxim again we know that Sanskrit is the language of Gods and Rishi Kashayap must have prayed to God in Devabhasha (the language of Gods - Sanskrit). If so, that means that we in Kashmir are not only connected to Bharta by our mythological and religious beliefs, but we also share a common language, that was and allow me to say, spoken on this land by the gods always. If we believe that the origin of Sanskrit language is the Vedic knowledge with Rig-Veda being the earliest one, I feel proud as a Kashmiri that we have preserved its originality in our speech till date, despite so many invasions, changes, persecutions and Migrations.

Kashmiri devotional poetry of 18th and 19th century, particularly that of Pandit Parmananda and Pandit Krishna Joo Razdan is full of Vedic word usage, apart from the Vedic motifs and hymns to Vedic Gods. This Vedic connection was the reason that noted Sanskrit scholar Dr. Mathura Dutt Pandey found it easy and interesting to translate the devotional poetry of Pandit Krishna Joo Razdan for the benefit of Hindi readers. So the language is yet another link.

Historian P.N.K Bamzai informs us that Kashmir had become the centre of Sanskrit learning since the settlement there of Aryans 'who migrated to nearby Kashmir, when the river Saraswati, on whose banks they lived, changed its course and finally dried up'.

Shri P.N.K Bamzai is a 20th century historian from Kashmir and one cannot fully agree with him. He may partially be correct, so far as in the absence of any new finding that ‘Aryans settled in Kashmir, when the river Saraswati dried up,’ but he cannot be accepted in saying that Sanskrit learning did not exist there earlier. It may also be mentioned that the migration of Aryans from Saraswati river to the nearby Kashmir could not have happened prior to 1800 BC, as Aryans (a derivative of the word Aryenem in central Asian scripture Avestan) are supposed to have migrated out of Central Asia in 18th century B.C.

Contrary to the common belief, historical Sanskrit chronicles tell us that Kashmir was never a land locked area. It had more than thirty routes that connected it to the outside world and in the not so distant past, we have Kashmiris like Kumarjiva crossing even the boundaries of Bharata and scholar poet like Bilhana, the author of Vikramankadevacarita, occupying a prominent position in the court of Chalukya king of Karnataka as ‘Chief Pandit’. And we have historical reference to the king Lalitaditya Muktapida (724-761 A.D.) conquering the territory of (Kanyakubja) Kanauj and extending the boundaries of his kingdom beyond the Himalayas.

Some portions of ancient Kashmir history are available in Chinese records and the greatest authority on Kashmir Huein Tsang, who visited Kashmir for two years in 631 A D, records that Buddhism was flourishing in Kashmir. Buddhism in that period of history directly connected Kashmir to Bharata.

Buddhism :  

Buddhism directly connects Kashmir to Buddha Gaya, as it was in Buddha Gaya (Bihar) that Gautama the son of the ruler of Kapilavastu, King Suddhodana of the Sakya dynasty, achieved enlightenment and became the Buddha.

This religious affinity between the two people is not less significant, as Kashmir became one of the important Buddhist centers to the extent that the fourth Buddhist council organized by the Great ruler Kanishaka was held in Kashmir in about 100 AD.

Kanishaka also links Kashmir with Mathura, the birth place of Lord Krishna. A headless statue preserved in the Museum at Mathura is believed to be that of Kanishaka. Many ruins and remains found in Mathura and preserved in the Mathura Museum are said to be indicating that the Buddhist king was murdered in this area somewhere in the year 150.

It is generally believed that the 'Lotus Sutra‘ was probably composed in the first century AD, in Kashmir, when the fourth Buddhist Council was held there. The Sutra was composed in the form of a Drama.

Lotus flower today is considered as the symbol of Buddhism. Kashmir grows it in abundance and this flower is also a gift of Lord Krishna to Kashmir.

A Puranic legend in this regard is recorded in Rajtarangini (English translation by M A Stein, Chapter iii, Section Vii, page 424).

The Puranic legend says that the lotus (that originally rose fromthe Naval of Brahma) ‘wasmade to appear in Kashmir by the foot of Lord Krishna when he touched the Mahapadma Naga’s head’. May be the Sutra was named as Lotus Sutra for this relevance to Kashmir.

‘The Lotus Sutra depicts events that take place in a cosmic world of vast dimensions’. One of the chapters throws light on the ‘Practices that ease the way’ to Buddha-hood for the seekers of Nirvana. It forbids association with those dealing with meat cutting and fish hunting. (Abstaining from meat eating is a practice that people of all faiths adhere to in Kashmir even today on some auspicious days and festivals, except the shaivite festival of Shivaratri.) A stanza from the Lotus Sutra says this:

'Do not keep company with butchers, meat-cutters, Hunters or fishermen, for they slaughter and slay for gain…..' 'Do not keep company with those who hawk meat for their living and those who parade and market people for sex; do not consort with such ones.' Apart from Lord Krishna’s and Kanishaka’s cementing the link between Kashmir and Mathura, there are many more interactions between the two people. One such link was established by a veteran Kashmiri Vaishnava, Acharya Keshav Kashmiri in the 13th or 14th century when coming from Kashmir he settled in Mathura. He was granted the title of Digvijaye, after he performed the tour thrice holding the flag of Nimbakar Sect. His Samadhi is situated at the Narad teela in Mathura.

Apart from this Vaishnavite link, how Kashmir is linked to Bharata through its Trika philosophy or ‘Kashmir Shaivism’ is known to the world. It is this link that is sought to be broken by those who agitate against the transfer of land to Sri Amaranth Shrine Board.

Kashmir as we know, in the recent past, after (Shaivite) Hinduism resurfaced there, became one of the greatest seats of learning along with Kerala in the south. The interaction between the two people can not be described by a better example than that of Adi Tankard’s visit to this land.

It is widely known and authenticated by Saundarayalahari that it was in Kashmir that Sri Shankara composed this Devi aradhana (Devotional hymn to mother goddess), after accepting and recognizing the Shakti tatva of Trika Philosophy (Kashmir Shaivism).

There are many folk stories prevalent in Kashmir about the visit of Adi Shankara to that place and his tryst with the Shaktism.All these stories only cement the close cultural bonds between the populace of two regions. One such legend is current about the gift of a head gear that the Shankara sent to a Kashmiri lady who had made himto accept the Shakti tatva. The head gear known as Taranga in Kashmir is still used by elderly ladies, with a slight variation as per the religious faith of the people.

Shiva temple situated on the Gopadari hills in the capital city of Srinagar, named as Shankaracharya temple, today stands as a testimony to the visit of Adi Shankara to Kashmir, whose Shashtrath at the famous temple of Sharda is a part of our cultural history. You will be surprised to know that the most common and the most famous hymns in praise of Shakti, the energy tatva of Lord Shiva, sung in temples and homes in Kashmir today, is the one produced by the Adi Shankara.

Leela rabdeh sathapit lupta khali lookam Loka tetar yogi birantar hrdya mrigyam Bala detye shreney samane dutiye punjam Gaurim ambam ambur hakshim aham yede.

(I pray homage to Gauri, the lotus eyed untained mother of universe, who in her divine play, creates, sustains and dissolves all the fields of experience of life, who is eagerly sought after by yogis in their heart and who shines forth in a flood of soothing radiance like that of numerous morning suns.) - Translation by Sh. Janki Nath Kaul Kamal 

Hari Parbat :  

Another place of worship that confirms a close social, cultural and religious link between the people of Kashmir and the land of Bharata is the famous temple of Hari Parvat.

Now before I narrate the folk associated with this place of worship, let me tell you that this place is also known as the Pradyumna Peeth.

Rajatarangini also mentions it by the name of Pradyumnagiri and Pradyumnashikhara.

Mr. M.A. Stein in his English translation of Rajataranginimentions, quoting Somadeva, that the hill is connected with the love of Usha and Aniruddha.

From Srimad Bhagavatamwe know thatAniruddha was the son of Pradyumna and the grand son of Lord Krishna. Hewas the first son of Queen Rukmini.

This place that still is a famous Shakti Peetha of Kashmir has a very interesting folk lore attached to it. It is said that when the Gods were fighting the demon Jalodbhava, the Mother goddess took the form of a Sparrow, known as HAER in Kashmiri and carried a big boulder in her beak and dropped on to the demon and crushed him to death. Yet another version of the story narrates that the Mother goddess dropped the boulder to block the mouth of the demons cave and the demon there after could never again surface.

Now what ever the folk lore, the place is associated with Lord Krishna and the other Gods, and in my opinion is a close link between the peoples of the two places.

Yet another historical case study could be the famous Pandav Lareh, the sites of archaeological ruins at many places in the valley of Kashmir that are named after Pandavas and are believed to have been the abode of Pandavas during their wandering in exile. Kashmir’s folk and devotional poetry is full of references not only to these places but also to Lord Rama. Many places are ascribed to his name.

Even the deity of Mata Khir Bhavani, the Ragnya - principal presiding deity of Kashmir, whose famous temple is at the famous shrine of Tulamulla, is said to have come after lord Rama defeated Ravana.

Brangish Samhita informs us that Ram Bhakta Hanuman brought Shayama from Lanka on his shoulders along with 360 Nagas and in Tulamulla the Devi embodied as Ragnya. Some even worship her as Sita.

Lalitaditya Muktapida :  

Rajatarangini has a beautiful and vivid description of the images of Lord Vishnu having been installed in a temple at village Suravardhamana in Kashmir (a locality gone into oblivion now).

In verse 265 to 276, Book four, Kalhana narrates how King Lalitaditya Muktapida discovered two images of Kesava (Vishnu), which according to the ‘letters engraved on the bases showed that these had been made by Lord Rama and Lakshmana’. It was this King Lalitaditya, who ruled between 724 and 761A.D.

Lalitaditya Muktapida, the third son of the Karakota king Pratapaditya II, like Alexander the great, desired to conquer the whole world. Backing on his brave and faithful army, he brought Punjab, Kangra and Kanauj under his domain. From (Kanyakubja) Kanauj, he marched eastwards and reduced Jivatagupta, the ruler of Bihar and Bengal, to his vassalage. Continuing his march, he reached the coast of Orrisa. With the assistance of a local princess, he crossed into the Deccan, befriended Chalukas and overran Rashtrakuta territory.

Raja Bhoja :  

Now we know from Nilamata Purana and the Rajatarangini that every place of Kashmir was a sacred place. And apart from Tulamulla and Hari Parbat, there is yet another place that provided a close cultural link between the people of Kashmir and rest of the Bharat Desha. This place is Kother.

This place of pilgrimage is a sacred spring of PAPASUDANA or sin removing.Al Beruni calls this KODESHVARA, a prakritised form of the name. It is mentioned by him and also in the Rajatarangini that Lord Shiva annually showed himself in the form of pieces of wood. Now before I come to the fact of its cultural bondage between the people, let me first tell you about a folk tale associated with this spring.

It is said that once there lived a particular King by the name of Mankan Raja. He had unusually very long Ears like a buffalo. His barber made this revelation to a tree in the jungle as he could neither digest this secret nor reveal to any one fearing the punishment by the king. The tree that heard this was cut and the log was put in the spring for its forward movement by river. The log also could not digest the secret and conveyed it to the spring .The spring replied that if the King Mankan has long ears, I can cure him. The king heard this, went to the spring, took a bath and his disease was cured. The happy king constructed a temple there.

And another King who was a worshiper at this place was King Bhoja of Malva. King Bhoja of Malva, who was a contemporary of king Ananta (1028-1063 A.D.) of Kashmir, had the round tank (Kunda) constructed at Kapatesvara with heaps of gold that he sent. ‘King Bhoja vowed that he would always wash his face with the water from the Papasudana Tirtha, and water was regularly dispatched in glass jars to the devoted Gujjar king’. The stone basin built by Bhoja is still partially extant.

The village of Kother is situated two miles above Achhabal - a historical place established by King Aksha and originally called Akshabal after his name.

Until my forced exodus from Kashmir in the year 1989, I was privileged to be living in its vicinity at village Bonopora, Akingam, and the famous abode of Mother Goddess called Shiva Bhagwati. The story clearly demonstrates how the Malwa King established a close connection with the people of Kashmir in the eleventh century.

From this side of the Pir Panchal also, the kings have reached out to the rest of the land and extended their domain beyond the mountains. The interaction and the contribution were certainly mutual. And who can not be proud of the contribution that Kashmir made to Indian thought, life and literature. The names of luminaries like Abhinavagupta, Anandavardhana, Somananda, Lollata, Mamatta and the last but not the least Gunadhya, who’s Brihatkatha embodies stories from the Vedas, the epics and the Purans.

To sum up I disagree with those who say that Kashmir acceded to India in 1947-48. That was simply a re-affirmation of the already existing social and cultural ties. The only difference that the relations with reference to time witnessed was the spread of Islam in the fourteenth century. That really continues to change the course of History.

Contact author at: bnbetab@yahoo.co.in

Source: Har-Van


Related Sites

Information Digests

Panun Kashmir

Symbol of Unity



Facebook Account Follow us and get Koshur Updates Youtube.com Video clips Image Gallery