Table of Contents
   About the Author
   Kashmiri Hindus: Origin ...
   Sultan Zain-ul-abidin
   The Sayyids as Oppressors
   Chak Fanatics
   The Mughals
   The Afghans
   Sikh Rule
   Dogra Rule
   Post-1947 Scenario
   Jammu and Ladakh ...
   Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad
   Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq
   Sayyed Mir Qasim
   Sheikh Abdullah Sows Seeds ...
   Farooq Abdullah ...
   Ghulam Mohammad Shah ...
   Rajiv-Farooq Accord
   Proxy War Declared
   Muslim Fundamentalism
   Terrible Plight of Minorities 
   13th November, 1991
   Download Book 

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir


Symbol of Unity



Kashmiri Hindus: Origin and Ethos

The Kashmirian Hindus popularly known as Kashmiri Pandits are a distinct class of their own and are considered to be purest specimen of the ancient Aryan settlers in the Valley.1 Kashmir Brahmans as per George Campbell are quite High-Aryan in the type of their features- very fair and handsome, with high chiselled features and no trace of intermixture of the blood of any other race.2 In the words of George Grierson, 'The Kashmiris form a branch of the race which brought the language of Indo-Aryan type of India is a fact established by the evidence of their language and physical appearance.3 In his reference to Kashmiri Pandits Thompson writes that 'the Aryans were a long-headed race of tall stature with narrow noses and fair complexion. Their present representatives are found today in Kashmir'.4 P. N. K. Bamzai records, 'It is definite that the Aryans of Kashmir are a part of the ancient Aryan settlements on the banks of the river Saraswati. They migrated to the Kashmir Valley when the river changed its course and finally dried up'.5

Despite persecution and torture, the Kashmirian Hindus have considerably succeeded in preserving and cultivating their profusely rich and variegated cultural heritage bequeathed to them by their saints and thinkers, literary men and women and other high-brow intellectuals. The broad mosaic of culture woven during the Hindu period of Kashmir history has the potential and inherent strength of standing comparison with any of the ancient world cultures. The value pattern generated as a result of cultural growth and resurgence shaped the lives of the Kashmirian Hindus endowing them with the qualities of head and heart. Invested with breadth of mind and depth of understanding, they lived their lives as vibrant and forward-looking individuals in a society that was open, dynamic and away from contributing to archaic models of thought. The Kashmirian Hindus as heir to a culture and civilization brimming with tremendous vitality and endurance have never exhibited aversion and apathy to new trends of thought and influences without minding the source and direction they came and emanated from There are ample evidences available establishing the omnosis of the Kashmirian culture and civilisation with those of the Greek, Roman and other pre-Islamic Persian cultures and civilizations. Tolerance has been the hall-mark of the Kashmirian culture and civilisation built and fostered during the Hindu period. Unique in its formations, the Hindu cultural ethos has never been exclusive by way of rejecting ideas, beliefs and thought-ways harboured by other religions and value-systems. The Hindus have been assimilative par excellence.

The Kashmirian Hindu pattern of values and world-view has not been in any way distinct and separate from the one evolved in the Indian subcontinent. Tolerance, good-will, sympathy and compassion as broad values of humanism have been handed down to the Hindus from their hallowed texts of religion. Motivated by the breadth of cultural ethos, the Kashmirian Hindus having come into contact with the aboriginal Naga worshippers were not ruthless in extirpating and decimating the contents and contours of their faith. Instead they assimilated their faith and modes of worship without resorting to religious persecution.

Buddhism as the most tolerant religion of world religions6 came into the region of Kashmir only to stimulate a new cultural and religious resurgence. The Kashmirian Hindus particularly the Brahmans joined the ranks of the Buddhist Church investing it with new direction and enrichment. Not fewer than 700 Brahman- monks from Kashmir crossing the inaccessible mountain barriers carried the message of Buddha's religion to Tibet, China and Central Asia. They were not on horse-backs with deadly swords in their hands only to reduce populations, kill, massacre, loot and plunder them for converting them to their faith. Armed with Buddha's gospel of love, peace, non-violence and compassion, the Brahman monks stirred and generated a new cultural and religious reformation in the regions they entered and encouraged the populace to think and ponder over the existential problems of man and his ultimate destiny. The Brahman-monks also enriched the philosophical content of Buddhism by giving a new treatment to the issues Buddha had hinted at in his sermons.

Buddhism in its hey-day was never intolerant of other religions and credos. It did not stamp them out, but allowed them to exist, thrive and interact. Forcible conversion was unknown to the Kashmirian ethos. Shaivism with its deep roots in the ancient history of Kashmir battled against the Buddhist ideology largely propped on logic and rational approach to the issues of metaphysics. The battle was on the plane of ideas. The Shaivite scholars wove their web of ideas to refute the Buddhist formulations only to establish their world-view based on a structured thought-process. The 'Saivites borrowed many Buddhist concepts only to invest them with a new ring of meaning within their conceptual ambience. The 'Saivite and Buddhist approach to the moot issues of philosophical thinking never generated religious frenzy leading to the annihilation of the harbourers of each faith.

The Vaishnavite thought equally co-existed with the Buddhist and Saivite thought-ways. The appellation of Kashmir as 'Sharda-desh' (land of Sharda) establishes the Vaishnavite faith having come to Kashmir to leave its impress not only on the thinking elite, but on the general mass of people at grass-root level. Nilamat Puran as a Vaishnavite work declares Kashmir as the seat of Cakrin (Vishnu). Kashmir had its own share of Panchratra followers, who propagated and shaped the specifics of the creed only to mould the thought-structure of other religions. The interpenetration of Buddhism, Saivism and Vaishnavism has been the product of the most tolerant cultural ethos obtaining in Kashmir. There existed mutual commerce of ideas and beliefs among the three religions, each borrowing the concepts from the other and investing them with new nuances as necessitated by its conceptual frame. The triad of Brahma as creator, Vishnu as preserver and Shiva as destroyer were not conceptually jealous of one another. They were transcendental, but also immanent involved in the weal and welfare of mankind at large. The syncretic images of the Triad explored from various sites in Kashmir sufficiently pinpoint and highlight the tolerant ethos of the Kashrnirian Hindus, who at no point of time in their history engaged themselves in sectarian battles generating and unleashing the forces of hatred, ill-will and religious bigotry.

References beyond number can be culled and gleaned from Rajtarangini, magnum opus of Kashmir history, which firmly establish that the Hindu kings, queens and other high degree men in corridors of power harbouring a particular faith built temples and Caityas of other faiths. There was absolute religious harmony at socio-political compass. No brute force was employed to convert men of other faiths. In reality, conversion as a tern was alien to the Kashmirian milieu and culture. Abhinavgupta, a scion of Kashmir Shaivism, never had even a flicker of thought for converting Ksemendra, a myriad minded genius, who was a Buddhist by faith and credo. Reverence for faiths and beliefs of others was the sine qua non of the Kashmirian Hindu ethos. Persecution and torture on religious grounds were absolutely unheard of in Kashmir and elsewhere in the Indian sub-continent.

The multi-farious and multi-dimensional contributions made by the Kashmirian Hindus to various segments of human knowledge have been admirably recognised the world over. There is hardly a domain of creative and critical activity they did not touch and turn it into gold. Philosophy, poetics, dance, drama, painting, architecture, sculpture and music and more than most astronomy, astrology and mathematics are the domains the Kashmirian Hindus have nourished and abundantly enriched by their high-level creative faculty and prolific-intelligence. That Kashmir was a 'High School' of Sanskrit learning and scholarship is testified by the fact that Chemong, Fayong, Hieun-Tsang and Ou-Kong from China traversed all the way to Kashmir to study Sanskrit texts on Buddhism only to refurbish and enrich their stock of knowledge. Kashmir was littered over with temples, Caityas and Viharas is amply substantiated by all the available historical tomes. The Hindu places of worship and prayer were not centres for preaching and propagating intolerance, religious bigotry and hatred, but were actually repositories of literary, religious and philosophical manuscripts. They were the nerve-centres of learning and erudition motivated by the sole design of cultivating an ethos, which was humanistic, pietic and more than most tolerant.

Be it said, in fine, that the Hindu religious doctrines and concepts have carried the message of peace, brotherhood and co existence of all faiths and credos. The Hindus of Kashmir through their high-profile thinking turned their land of scenic beauty into an intellectual centre attracting everybody in quest of higher values and spiritual ascension. From Mahayana Buddhism to Trika Philosophy of 'Saivism, they irrigated varied fields of human activity leaving their deep imprint on them. Kalhana, Jonraj, Srivara, Prajya-Bhat and 'Suka, the eminent masters of history, compiled and up-dated the world famous historical document of Rajtarangini delineating the historical upheavals and sweeping changes the Hindus had to undergo. Apart from philosophy and history, the Hindus made masterly contributions to the domain of sculpture revealing profundity of conception and execution. The sculptural images explored from the sites of Ushkur, Harwan, Avantipora and Divasar are definite pointers to the apogee sculpture in its varied spectrum achieved during the Hindu period of Kashmir history. The monumental edifices of Martand, Pattan, Avantipora and Parihaspora and other places in the region of Kashmir bear features testifying to the existence of a distinct school of architecture in Kashmir with close resemblance to the Greek and Roman style of architecture. That the Kashmirians were renowned for being deft and dexterous builders gets sufficiently established by the term of 'Shastra-Shilpina' tagged onto them. The Karkotas and the Utpalas established kingdoms politically and economically strong and viable commanding respect and tribute from neighbouring kingdoms.

Advent of Muslims

The entire socio-political and religious structure of Kashmir suffered a subversion in the beginning of 13th century when some Muslims and pagans harassed to the limits of physical annihilation by their enemies and archi dissenters found a niche for shelter in politically instable but spiritually stable Kashmir. Muslims and other non-Hindus, though very small in numbers, had started creeping into the armies of the Hindu rulers. It was only in the times of Suhadeva (1305-24) that the entry of Muslims and many other outside elements gained momentum only to swell and beef up the ranks of those already in the military services of the Kashmirian rulers. Motivated by high-degree ethical values, the Hindu rulers afforded the refugees and other aliens shelter and succour and permission to practise their religion without any check or restraint. Rinchin, a fugitive from Ladakh, was provided shelter. Had he chosen to stay in in his native land, he would have been brutally butchered by his own kinsmen. Another such refugee, who was defeated in a battle by his arch enemies, was Lanker Chak from Dardistan. He had to run for life only to find shelter under the wings of Hindu hospitality. Shah Mir, essentially a refugee from Swat, was also a beneficiary of Hindu munificence and benevolence. Bulbul Shah, a Muslim proselytiser from Turkestan under fire in his native land, was also provided shelter in Kashmir, and was permitted to practise his religion with freedom and liberty.

The broad-mindedness and generous hospitality of the Hindu rulers found its echo in many Muslim countries including Central Asia. Thousands of Muslims including Sayyids entered the purlieu of Kashmir only to save themselves from persecution and torture of their Muslim rulers. Travellers, savants and scholars from abroad paid visits to Kashmir to satiate their deep thirst for knowledge as Kashmir had gained tremendous reputation as a pivotal centre of learning. The outside Muslims had no such mission, yet they stayed on enjoying the profuse hospitality and generosity of the Hindu rulers and general mass of people.

The generosity, broad-mindedness and religious tolerance as the bed-rock virtues of Hindu polity proved ominous for the people of Kashmir. The outside refugees, who had sought and were provided shelter in the country, became ambitious of grabbing the throne of Kashmir with the sheer design of transforming the entire religious profile of Kashmir. These outsiders included proselytisers masquerading as sufis obliged to flee their lands under severe threats of torture and persecution were totally responsible for creating conditions in the region of Kashmir leading to torture, severe pains and woeful miseries to be inflicted on the Kashmirian Hindus in the name of God and Islamic religion.

A Turkish Tartar Zul Qadar Khan7 (1320 A.D.) along with 60,000 soldiers of Turks and Mongols invaded the peaceful and prosperous land of Kashmir reducing it by loot, plunder and arson. Resorting to all cruel acts of savagery, he put even the standing crops to flames. The fertile and prosperous land of Kashmir presented a spectacle of ruin and desolation with every trace of life and blade of verdant grass destroyed and decimated. The cruel invader indulged in an orgy of loot, murder and ruination for full eight months and finally with the onset of winter he was forced to return. But, by way of nemesis, he was caught in a blizzard and thus got perished along with 50,000 Kashmirian Hindus, men, women and children enslaved by him only to be sold off as slaves in the slave-market of Turkestan.8

Jonraj, a contemporary historian, has delineated a graphic picture of Kashmir marauded by Zul Qadar Khan's army. Records he, "Kashmir presented pitiful spectacle. Father sundered from his son wailed and moaned. Brother got separated from his brother, never to meet again.... depopulated, uncultivated grainless and gramineous, the country of Kashmir offered, as it were, the scenario of primal chaos" .9

Zul Qadar Khan massacred thousands and perpetrated unimaginable atrocities on the Kashmirian Hindus. He was cruel and inhuman. Having looted everything from the land of Kashmir, the Hindus died from poverty and starvation. There was so much of blood- letting that the rivers, brooks and brooklets went gory with human blood. Piles of corpses with ravenous crows prying on them could be seen lying about and even wild grass providing sustenance to the blighted people was burnt and reduced to ashes.

In the wake of havoc wrought by Zul Qadar Khan and his host of Turks and Mongols, it was Ram Chander, the commander-in-chief of Kashmir army, whose star was up in the political firmament of Kashmir as he had achieved tremendous success in repulsing the incursion of the Gaddies of Kishtawar. Rinchin too with his eyes set on the throne of Kashmir was awaiting an opportune moment to grab the throne. But, ground realities were not favourable to him. Daring not challenge Ram Chander to an open fight, Rinchin resorted to a sordid stratagem to get him murdered through his Tibetan accomplices and thus captured the seat of power.

Rinchin was a Bon from Ladakh with all the ingredients of pagan culture in him. That he waa a Buddhist is far removed from truth. He was under persecution in Ladakh and that is what made him flee his land. It was Ram Chander,l0 who provided him shelter, succour and safety. That he was immeasurably cruel and disloyal is testified by the conspiracy he hatched to get his patron and benefactor hacked to death.11

Keen to consolidate his power, Rinchin approached Devaswami, a 'Saivite saint and scholar, for his admittance to the fold of Hinduism. As Hindus have no history of converting people of other faiths, he flatly refused him admittance to the Hindu fold. Eager to identify himself with a group of people in Kashmir, he approached Bulbul Shah, who readily admitted him to the Muslim fold and re-christened him as Sadr-ud-dinl2 The dominating factor motivating Rinchin for conversion to Islam was only to entrench himself in the power structure of Kashmir. He had no spiritual upbringing or initiation and the statement made by the sectarian chroniclers that he was thirsty of spiritual peace and solace is a sheer myth. He was brutal which stands sufficiently demonstrated by the fact of his ripping open the wombs of pregnant women of Ladakhis, who were his sworn enemies.

Bulbul Shah, a Muslim proselytiser under persecution in his native land, saw the fruition of his plans while admitting Rinchin to the Islamic fold. Toeing the line of sufis of all hues,l4 he managed entry into and proximity to the Court of a Muslim ruler, who would be instrumental in launching upon the persecutionary campaign against the die-hard Hindus, who despite his preaching of the Islamic tenets could not be attracted to Islam. At the behest of Bulbul Shah, Rinchin as the first Muslim ruler of Hindu Kashmir launched upon the vigorous campaign of converting the Hindus of Kashmirl5 to the faith of Islam, 'by coercion, by taxation, by administration of law, by the sword and by inter-marriages.'l6

After Rinchin's demise, power structure though considerably infested with outside Muslims again slipped into the hands of Hindu rulers, who could not retain it for long due to their lack of well-devised strategy and also the introduction of subversive elements aided and abetted by outside proselytisers. Rinchin had already signalled the direction and the Hindu-baiters armed with strategies and fanatical zeal strained every nerve to snatch power back from the Hindu rulers. Shah Mir as one already entrenched in the power structure of Kashmir could not rally the majority section of the Kashmirian population for his sectarian and partisan political stances at a crucial juncture in the annals of Kashmir. He was known as the leader of a small colony of Muslims, who had started living in Kashmir after they had sought refuge. The mantle of leadership fell on Kota Rani, who became the rallying point for the Hindus of Kashmir whose land was once again ravaged and cruelly invaded by another Turk, Achala by name, (1331 AD) ferocious and atrocious in deeds. All the areas he passed through were laid waste by the inhuman invader.

Kota Rani saddled on the throne set herself earnestly to repair the damage and ruin brought about by foreign invaders in her land of birth. But, Shah Mir in league with all outside elements, who had crept their way into the power structure, managed to imprison Kota Rani in the fort of Jayapidpur (modern Inderkot), cut off the supplies and sent her messages suggesting joint rule and conjugal life.l7 Finally capturing her, Shah Mir slept with her on the same bed for one night and next morning handed her over to the executioners.l8

Shah Mir, thus, through political chicanery, became responsible for founding the Muslim kingdom in Kashmir. He did not deem it feasible to fully Islamise the Hindu Kashmir as his atrocious treatment meted out to redoubtable Kota Rani was bitterly resented by the Kashmirians. His priority was to entrench Muslims as rulers of Kashmir. Under the directive of the outside Muslims having come from all Muslim countries, Shah Mir launched upon the strategy of encouraging inter marriages between the Hindus and the Muslims thereby disrupting the family life of the Hindus and also breaking their resistance. He married his two grand-daughters to Lusta and Telak Sura, chieftains of Shankerpura and Bhangila. His son married the daughter of Laksmaka, a Hindu.l9 Shah Mir, flouting the Muslim law, married his daughter, Guhara, to a Hindu. Comments Jonraj, "Damaras (feudal lords) wore the daughters of Shah Mir as garlands and did not realise that they were the she-serpents of deadly venom".20 Shah Mir's encouragement of inter-marriages in the land of Kashmir was essentially designed to create and spread the support-base of Islam in Kashmir.

That Shah Mir was scheming is demonstrated by the manner he manipulated the assassination of Bhatta Bhikshana and Bhatta Avtar, two scions of the court of Kota Rani. He feigned illness and his collaborators made it publicly known that he was about to breathe his last. As a matter of courtesy, Kota Rani, the ruler, deputed Bhatta Bhikshana and Bhatta Avtar to call on him and enquire about his health. Entering Shah Mir's residence, the two were mercilessly murdered by the armed men of Shah Mir. Enraged by this outrageous act, Kota Rani was out to avenge their death, but was deterred by her courtiers on the plea that his killing would flout all moral canons as he was given refuge in the land of Kashmir. Had she acted and beheaded Shah Mir the same way as she had beheaded Achala, the Turkish invader, cruel and barbarous, the Hindus of Kashmir, addicted to education, simple and non-violent, would have been spared from pains, agonies, woes and unimaginable persecution, which were heaped on them for being Hindus by the Muslims succeeding Shah Mir. There is much of meaning in the observation of Prof. S.K. Koul that the spirit of valour and capacity to fight back among the Hindus is chilled by feeding them on the diet of non-violence, deep-set values and high-degree ethical behaviour.21

With the entrenchment of Muslim rule in Kashmir, the Muslims in general and Sayyids in particular felt encouraged to pour into the region of Kashmir for purposes of propagating Islam in Kashmir known world over as the bastion of Hindu religion and philosophy. It was Timur, who had unleashed severe repression against the Sayyids forcing them to march out of their country. The notable Sayyid, Mir Ali Hamadani, only to avoid the 'fire ordeal' and save himself from Timur's oppression, fled his native land and poured into Kashmir for refuge.22 He was accompanied by 700 Sayyids said to be his followers and kinsmen.23 Qutb-ud-din acting as the surrogate of Sultan Shihab-ud-din threw red carpet reception for him and maintained him on state expenses for the period he stayed in Kashmir. He paid three visits to Kashmir only encouraged by the Muslim rulers, whose role for forcible conversion of the Kashmirian Hindus was well within his comprehension and grasp.

Mir Ali Hamadani was essentially responsible for subverting the communal peace in Kashmir by creating conditions leading to the abominable persecution and torture of the Kashmirian Hindus, who clung to their religious faith despite pressures exerted on them. He consistently worked to communalise and polarise the Kashmir polity by the advice he in his capacity as a Sayyid tendered to the Muslim ruler, Qutb-ud-din who had not dared place and perhaps had no plans for putting his state on the pedestal of Shariat (Islamic law). 24 As per his directives, the Muslim ruler had not to participate in the Hindu festivals and ceremonies and had to force the neo-converts to adopt the same dress that was prevalenl in other Muslim countries thereby establishing their separate identity from the Hindus but linking it up with Muslims inhabiting other countries.25 It was at the bidding of Mir Ali Hamadani that the ruler was made to divorce one of the two sisters he had married as it smacked of being un-Islamic.26 The ruler was also directed to put his state on the footstool of Sharia which was flatly flouted by him.27

Mir Ali Hamadani's book Zakhiratulmaluk is a testament of Muslim intolerance, hatred, distrust and hate-campaign against the Hindus of Kashmir. The advice reads as under:

1. Muslim ruler shall not allow fresh constructions of temples and shrines for idol worship.  

2. No repairs shall be executed to the existing temples and shrines of non-Muslims.  

3. No Muslim traveller shall be refused lodgment in these temples and shrines where he shall be treated as a guest for three days by non-Muslims.  

4. No non-Muslim shall act as a spy in the Muslim state.  

5. No difficulty shall be offered to those non-Muslims who of their own choice show their readiness for Islam.  

6. Non-Muslims shall honour Muslims and shall leave their assembly whenever the Muslims enter the premises.  

7. The dress of non-Muslims shall be different from that of Muslims to distinguish them.  8. They shall not proffer Muslim names.  

9. They shall not ride a harnessed horse.  

10. They shall not go about with arms.  

11. They shall not wear rings with diamonds.  

12. They shall not deal in nor eat bacon.  

13. They shall not exhibit idolatrous images.  

14. They shall not build houses in the neighbourhood of Muslims.  

15. They shall not dispose of their dead in the neighbourhood of Muslim Maqbaras nor weep nor wail loudly over their dead.  

16. They shall not deal in nor buy Muslim slaves.

In the end, the advice puts that in case the Hindus disobey these conditions, then possession of their lives is halal (lawful) for a Muslim.28

Mir Ali Hamadani's Zakhiratulmaluk set a new agenda for the persecution and massacre of the Kashmirian Hindus if they did not succumb to the blind forces of Islam. The book in its contents is highly subversive and set the ground for unleashing an orgy of violence, commotion, disorder and anarchy aimed at corroding and dismantling a social and religious ethos, which had a humanistic base and was high above religious bigotry and myopia. Testifying to his intolerant and bigoted vision, the book openly prescribes for marauding and massacring Hindus if they dared flout the conditions as are couched in un-varnished and brutal language. For not getting many converts to Islam, it also smacked of his frustration generated by the non-compliance of his directions by the Sultan-mindful of his Hindu subjects.

Mir Ali Hamadani was the author of the iconoclastic chapter of Kashmir History.29 He was responsible for the desecration and demolition of the famous temple of Kalishree and the erection of a mosque on the plinth of the said-temple. He set the sordid precedent of blatant interference in the religious life of the Hindus by dismantling and then grabbing their places of religious worship. The mosque has been a bone of discord between the Hindus and the Muslims generating many a religious strife. Phula Singh, a Sikh general, enraged by the demolition of the said-temple, trained his guns against the mosque30 which escaped demolition only at the intervention of a Hindu.

Till Mir Ali Hamadani resorted to peaceful preaching of Islam in Kashmir, he failed to win a convert to the fold of Islam. Leaving the purlieux of Kashmir after his first visit in 1372 AD, he could not find a neo-convert who would call the faithfuls not many in number to usual prayers.31 But, after his two more visits in 1379 and 1387 AD, he is said to have converted 37,000 Hindus to Islam.32 This achievement of extra-ordinary dimension and scale is highly baffling. Naqshbandiya order of Sufis could not achieve such a stupendous success anywhere they preached Islam. How did they achieve such a success in Kashmir, which had 5000 years old cultural and civilisational history? The historians have found the answer in inveterate and indiscriminate use of force, coercion and persecution launched against the Kashmirian Hindus by the Sayyids aided and abetted by the state power.

In the wake of it, the repression of the Kashmirian Hindus took a new turn because of the advice Mir Ali Hamadani had tendered to the ruler, Qutb-ud-din, the surrogate of Shihab-ud-din. The bigoted Muslims out to launch a persecutionary campaign against the non-violent Hindus formulated allegations against them that they were obstructing the processes of conversion by going to temples, where instead of worshipping and praying, they were weaving conspiracies to overthrow the Muslim rule. Terming it as rebellion, Shihab-ud-din ordered looting, ravaging and demolishing of the Hindu places of worship.33 Hasan, a Muslim chronicler, records that all the temples in Srinagar and the famous temple of Bijbehara were looted and damaged. The Sayyids made it amply clear to the ruler and his men in control of governmental machine that Hindu religion and Hindu politics had to be totally dismantled and rooted out if Islam had to make headway in the region of Kashmir.

With the advent of Mir Mohammad Hamadani,34 the son of Mir Ali Hamadani, the persecution and torture of the Hindus touched a new high. Extensive plans for forcibly converting Hindus to Islam and weeding out Hinduism from Kashmir were drawn and formulated. Hindu-baiting with ruthless vigour and fanatical zeal was resorted to. The campaign managers in Kashmir stressed the consolidation of Muslim power-base and with the achievement of that end all-out genocide of the Hindus of Kashmir was launched upon. Mir Mohammad Hamadani made it patent clear to Sikandar, the iconoclast, that infidelity (Kufur) was to be extirpated and stamped out of Kashmir. Mir Mohammad Hamadani was accompanied by 300 Sayyids comprising all shades of proselytisers from Iraq, Madina, Khurasan, Mawara-un-Nahr, Khwarazm, Balk, Ghazni and other Muslim countries.36 Malik Saif-u-din, a neo-convert to Islam, proved more rabid than the original. He was equally responsible for religious war waged against Hindus. Mir Mohammad Hamadani was responsible for his conversion to Islam37 and also forged a matrimonial alliance with him only to achieve effective results in matters of extirpating infidelity from Kashmir. Disapproving his policy of genocide of the Kashmirian Hindus, Sheikh Nur-ud-din, popularly known as Nand Rishi, the patron Sufi saint of Kashmir, refused to accept his superiority as he found him with no achievements in matters of spiritual ascension.

Sultan Sikander under the direct instructions of Mir Mohammad Hamadani took to the idol-breaking38 as fish take to water. The Muslim chroniclers gleefully designated him as an iconoclast for his demolition and destruction of the marvellous temples of Martand, Vijayesan, Chakrabrat, Tripuresvar, Suresvari, Varaha and others. The temple of Martand (sun), a gem of the Hindu architecture symbolising the high watermark of the Hindu culture and civilisation39, was destroyed by digging deep its foundations, removing the well-chiselled foundational stones, filling the gaping wounds with logs of wood and finally putting it to flames.40 Prior to this, huge hammers were used for one full year only to break and vandalise its masterly sculptural works of high artistic merit. Another massive temple at Bijbehara, which had a world famous university attracting scholars and learners from all parts of the country and world, was totally demolished and with its well-cut and chiselled stones and other materials hospice was built still known as Vijyesvara hospice.4l The temple was previously looted and damaged by Shahab-ud-din. As a piece of clever manipulation, a stone-slab42 inscribed with 'Sarda letters purporting, 'The mantra of Bismullah will destroy the temple of Vijyesvara' (a 'Siva temple) was said to have been recovered from the foundations of the temple. A crude attempt to justify the unpardonable crime of deskoying an architectural monument of world fame.

Jonraj, a contemporary historian, records that there was hardly a city, a village or hamlet, where the (fanatic) ruler did not break idols. These places of worship represented the cultural history of Kashmir and the Muslims not only in Kashmir, but globally, suffer from religious paranoia, which compels them to condemn and destroy the past of the countries wherever they set their feet on. This religious paranoia is responsible in a large measure for destroying temples, caityas and viharas and also their proselytising fervour.43

Violating and contravening all norms of civilised life, Sikander, who had pawned his soul to the Sayyid, issued an atrocious and contemptuous government decree ordering the Hindus to get converted to Islam or flee or perish44. As a matter of consequence, thousands of Hindus were brutally massacred, thousands converted and thousands fled the land only to take refuge in the neighbouring regions of Kishtawar and Bhadrawah via Simthan pass and also to various provinces of India via Batote (known as Bata-wath, path of the Bhattas or Kashmirian Hindus). This hateful government decree brought about and led to the first major exodus of the Kashmirian Hindus from their land of genesis. As per the living tradition among the Kashmirian Hindus, only eleven Hindu families stayed back in Kashmir and rest of the Hindu population migrated, leaving behind homes and hearths only to protect their religion and faith.

Drawing a graphic picture of the miseries and traumatic experiences of the exodus, Jonraj writes, "Crowds of Hindus ran away in different directions through by-passes; their social life was totally disrupted, their life became miserable with hunger and fatigue; many died in scorching heat; many got emaciated due to under-nourishment; many lived on alms in villages enroute to the provinces in India; some disguised as Muslims roamed about the country searching their distressed families; their means of livelihood were snatched from them to prevent their education and break their morale; the Hindus lolled out their tongues like dogs searching dog's morsel at every door'.45

Sikander's numerous crimes against humanity are:-  

(a) He banned music, dance, drama and sculpturing of images, painting and other creative and aesthetic activities of the Hindus.  

(b) He put to flames six mounds (I mound = 37 kilos) of sacred threads worn by the Hindus46 as a mark of religious initiation only after massacring them.  

(c) He killed them if they put a tilak-mark on their foreheads.47  

(d) He stopped the Hindus from burning their dead.48  

(e) He did not permit the Hindus to go to temples to pray and worship.49  

(f) He did not permit them to blow a conch or toll a bell.  

(g) He destroyed and demolished the Hindu temples only to build mosques or hospices with their materials. The present mosque of Mir Ali Hamadani was built only after destroying the Kalishree temple. The Jamia Mosque in Srinagar was built on the foundations of a Buddhist Vihara after destroying it. The majority of mosques are built on temple foundations.  

(h) Malik Saif-ud-din, Sikander's army chief (Sipahasalar), used army to convert the Hindus of Kashmir to Islam. 50  

(i) He stopped Hindus from performing their religious festivals and other practices.  

(j) Sikander imposed the hated Jazia (poll-tax) on the Hindus.51  

(k) He did not spare even the neophytes as they were suspected of clinging to their original religion.  

(l) A Hindu mother giving birth to twins was subjected to Jazia.  

(m) At the appearance of the new moon, the Hindus were not allowed to worship or take out processions.  

(n) With the tacit approval of Sikander and Ali Shah, Malik Saif-u-din stopped the exit of the Kashmirian Hindus by posting guards at an exit points so that they could not escape forcible conversion.52  

(o) Sikander got hundreds of Hindus drowned in the pristine waters of the Dal Lake and later got them buried.55  

(p) He got all books burnt. Srivara, a historian of Kashmir, records, "Sikander burnt all books the same wise as fire burns hay".54

The worst-ever fury of genocide of the Kashmirian Hindus launched upon by Sultan Sikander, his army chief, Malik Saif-ud-din and Sultan Ali Shah knew no moderation or abatement forcing the Hindus to burn, hang, drown themselves and jump over the precipices only to protect their religion.55 The genocide of the Kashmirian Hindus was intensified with all its fury when a second wave of Sayyids led by Sheikh Jalal-ud-din Bukhari entered the frontiers of Kashmir. The Hindus and their cultural moorings were ruthlessly destroyed the same wise as locusts destroy and devour the lush green paddy fields.56 The butchering of the Hindus touched a new high. The standing artifacts of Hindu culture and civilisation were mercilessly destroyed if they had been spared in the first fury. Parihaspora, a standing testimony to the glory of the Karkotas, was ravaged and its temples, viharas and caityas were plundered and destroyed reducing them to an un-recognisable heap of ruins. The combine of state power and Sayyids with the general mass of people either hounded out or forcibly converted to Islam did not spare even Nanda Risi, Mulla Noor-r-ud-din of Jonraj, the patron-saint of Kashmir and was detained and imprisoned57 for his total and vigorous opposition to the genocidal movement against the Hindus of Kashmir.58

He, a real humanist with malice towards none, was pictured as a ruthless proselytiser wrapped in the bleeding cow-hide exhorting Bhoma Rishi to get converted to Islam.59 It will be pertinent to put that Nand Rishi, a celibate and vegetarian, was essentially given to meditation for purposes of achieving higher ascension as is enunciated by the Buddhists, the Shaivites and other thought-processes determining the spiritual ethos of the contemporary times. The Sayyids especially Mir Maqbool Hamadani were dead-set against him as he never accepted their religious and spiritual superiority. 'Khat-i-Irshad'61 as a historical document recording Nand Rishi's acceptance of the Sayyid's spiritual superiority has no veracity and is spurious. The indigenous Rishi movement rooted in the hoary past of Kashmir based on higher values of spirituality and broad values of humanism prepared a mind-set or psyshic frame which was essentially responsible for impelling the neophytes to chase the Sayyids in the streets of Kashmir hatefully calling them the 'cunning Sayyids' (saad makar).

The rishi were simple folk affording comfort and solace to all without considerations of caste, creed and religion. They as a cult abhorred violence and hatred and saved themselves from touching extremes, always sticking to the middle-path of the Buddhists. Writes Bamzai, "Like the Hindu rishi or recluses, they believe in withdrawing from the world, practising celibacy, undergoing penances in caves and jungles, refraining from killing birds and animals for food or eating freshly picked vegetables and fruits. They lived on vegetables and endeavoured to follow the yogic practices of the Hindus.''61

It was the Risi movement of Kashmir purely based on indigenous- humanistic values which was chiefly responsible for weaving a web of culture linking all in an amity of brotherhood. The entire movement was looked down upon by the Sayyids, who took it as an obstacle in their campaign of genocide of the Hindus. Castigating the Islamic rishis, Mirza Haider Daughlat writes, "At the present time in Kashmir the sufis have legitimised so many heresies that they know nothing of what is lawful or unlawful. They consider that piety and purity consist in night-watching and abstinence in food. They are for ever interpreting dreams.... They prostrate themselves before one another and together with such disgraceful acts observe the forty days (of retirement). In short nowhere-else is such a band of heretics to be found. 62

The ruthless Muslims were a scourge not only for the Kashmirian Hindus, but even for the Islamic Rishis and non-sectarian sufis, who were denounced as heretics for opposing the genocide of the Hindus on religious grounds. They chopped every twig from the tree of mercy. All traces of Hinduism dotting the length and breadth of the Valley were stamped out by massacring Hindus and by ravaging, looting and ransacking their properties and more than most by kidnapping and raping their women-folk. Jonraj, a contemporary historian, laments the absolute subversion of the Hindu ethos by Yavanas (Muslims) and compares them to the locusts destroying a paddy field.63

Notes and References

1. Monier Williams, Modern India and Indians.  2. George Campbell, Ethnology of India.  3. George Grierson, Linguistic Survey of India.  4. Thompson, History of India.  5. P.N.K. Bamzai, "Kashmiri Pandits," Vitasta Annual Number.  6. Rhys Davids - Buddhism.  7. Tarikh-i-Haider Malik NS P 35; Waqiati-Kashmir P 27  8. Hasan, Tarikh-i-Kashmir.  9. Jonraj, Kings of Kashmir Sts 161, 162.  10. Baharistan-i-Shahi Ms; Tarikh-i-Haider Malik Ms, P35  11. Waqiat-i-Kashmir, P 30.  12. Jonraj, Rajtarangini, St 167-69.  l 3. Jonraj, Ibid, St. 213.  14. Sufi orders.  15. Birbal Kachru.  16. Richard Temple, Sources of Lalla's Religion.  17. Jonraj, Rajtarangini, St. 303.  18. Ibid. St. 305. Suicide theory about Kota Rani is a fiction.  Baharistan is silent about it. Stein holds that Shah Mir  murdered Kota Rani, Rajtarangini, Vol II, P 480.  19. Jonraj, Rajtarangini, St. 259.  20. Ibid, Sts 250, 252, 257.  21. Introduction to Jonraj's Rajtarangini.  22. PNK Bamzai, History of Kashmir.  23. Fauq, Tarikh-i-Kashmir.  24. PNK Bamzai, History of Kashmir.  25. Ibid.  26. Fatahat-i-Kubravia, F. 1470 a.  27. PNK Bomzai, History of Kashmir.  28. Parmu R.K. (Dr.), Muslim Rule in Kashmir, P 112.  29. Hasan, Kashmir Under the Sultans, P. 56-57.  30. Baharistan-i-Shahi, MSF lla, Tarikh-i-Sayyid Ali, MSF. F 3a 4a 6a  31. Dr. Rafique, Sufism in Kashmir.  32. Fatahat-i-Kubravia.  33. Baharistan-i-Shahi, Translated by Dr. K.N. Pandita  34. Hasan, Tarikh-i-Kashmir.  35. Baharistan-i-Shahi, MSF 12a; Tarikh-i-.Soyyid Ali MSF 9a  36. Prof. S.K. Koul, Introduction to Jonraj's Kings of Kashmir.  37. Baharistan-i-Shahi, MSF 12a; Fatuhat-i-Kubravia MSF 157a  38. Tarikh-i-Sayyid Ali, MSF 14b.  39. R.C. Kak. Ancient Monuments of Kashmir.  40. Hasan, Tarikh-i-Kashmir; Fauq, Tarikh-i-Kashmir; Kashmir, Sufi.  41. Ibid.  42. Introduction to Jonraj's kings of Kashmir by Prof. S.K. Koul.  43. Ibid.  44. Hasan, Tarikh-i-Kashmir.  45. Jonraj, Kings of Kashmir, Sts 662, 663, 664, 665, 666, 668, 669ab,669cd  46. Hasan, Tarikh-i-Kashmir.  47. Ibid  48. Baharistani-i-Shahi, Tarikh-i-Haider Malik, Fatuhat-i-Kubervia, Tarikh-i-Sayyid Ali  49. Ibid.  50. Jonraj, Kings of Kashmir, St 655-56  51. Ibid, St 654.  52. Ibid, St 606.  53. Jonraj, Kings of Kashmir, 607.  54. Srivara, Zaina Rajtarangini, St 75.  55. Jonraj, Kings of Kashmir, St 657-59.  56. Jonraj, Rajtarangini St 576.  57. Jonraj, Rajtarangini, St 673.  58. Introduction to Jonraj's Rajtarangini, Prof. S.K.Koul.  59. Quoted from Sufism in Kashmir, by Dr. Rafique.  60. Published in Gulrez, Refer to discussion broadcast from  Radio Kashmir, Sgr.  61. PNK Bamzai, History of Kashmir, P. 547  62. Mirza Haider Doughlat, Tarikh-i-Rashidi, P 436.  63. Jonraj, Rajtarangini.

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World Kashmiri Pandit Conference 1993 Panun Kashmir
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