Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Broken Past

“the mirror broke ..and their sad past
was in tatters…
not knowing which way to go….
Too many broken dreams
and a mirror…..now broken too…..
friends for long…
The morning arose….with no reflections of the sad past…
Or belongingness either…….”

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Wise and Stuck

“I and the abyss of uncertainity..
Moved on…
till we found the wise…
Stuck on an island …not knowing how to swim”

Kashmir and Truth

My basic premise for writing this column is that I agree with Shahnaz Bashir that the concept of Kashmiriat as pronounced by so called intellectuals is incorrect. I agree with him on two counts. One, that the Kashmiriat is an amalgamation of Saivism(read as Kashmir Saivism) and Sufism is incorrect .Two, it is used by some intellectuals to present romanticized versions of history or as Shahnaz has put it “history is being fudged to suit someone’s interests”. Notwithstanding my agreement with Shahnaz on the statements made above I would like to present a perspective to the distortions and realities of philosophical, cultural and somewhat entangled political history of Kashmir.
Kashmir Saivism is a monistic, non dual philosophy, the essence of which is merging of individual (limited consciousness) to the universal consciousness(unlimited and eternal consciousness).Its essential focus is on recognition(Pratibhjna) and freedom(Swantarya) is the outcome of the recognition, since it frees us from bondage of ignorance. According to Vedanta philosophy, refined soul is God. All divine power according to the Vedanta philosophy resides in this physical body. All the grandeur and magnificence of divine potentialities of the Almighty are present in its entirety in dormant centers of human soul. He can be seen only in one's own inner- self. Our entire life is God's direct manifestation. The ascetic asks, “For whom should we worship (kasmai devaya havisha vidhema". The emphatic answer is, we should worship for the God within us (Atma-Dev). The central doctrine of Sufism, sometimes called Wahdat or Unity, is the understanding of Tawhid: all phenomena are manifestations of a single reality, or Wujud (being), or al-Haq (Truth, God). It is often understood to imply that every phenomenon is an aspect of Truth and at the same time attribution of existence to it is false. The chief aim of all Sufis then is to let go of all notions of duality, therefore the individual self also), and realize the divine unity.It is therefore abundantly clear that all three philosophies have some similarities and differnces though it is believed that Sufism post Mansur-bin-Hallaj had Vedantic influence.
What I fail to understand is who among the Saivites has said that Kashmir Savism or Saivism has sown the seeds of Islam or Saivism is a proto form of Liberal Islam or Sufism.Atleast I don’t know of any.If there are any they should be asked to explain the same except for Congressmen(including Nehru) who have license to lie.It should also be borne in mind that the scholars of Vedant philosphy were mostly brahmins(the brahmins of central India still have surnames like Trivedi,Dwivedi or Chaturvedi)but had contradictory philosphies to that of scholars of Saivism.This is no way meant they were at war with each other. The Tandav Nach(Nritya,it should be,for nach means a simple dance which does not essentially have a purpose while as Nritya is a dance which is associated with a certain socio-cultural event and has a purpose and its own unique style) which pupotedly the learned scholar has quoted out of context is a celestial dance the purpose of which is killing of ignorance.When Shiva dances the Apasmar Pursh(personification of the ignorant one)is under his feet.The celestial dance signifies the death of ignorance, that’s what explainsShiva Sutra (2) of Vasugupta.-Jnanam Badanah(Limited Knowledge/Ignorance is bondage) .
I have no shame in accepting that Kashmir Saivism wasn’t understood by many in Kashmir although people worshipped Shiva as their primary diety.May I please know how many Muslims in Kashmir today understand(not read or pray) the Holy Quran or al Hadith for that matter.The reason for this is simple,very few of us are philosophers and people at general have faith and religion is a matter of faith and not essentially philosophy.Nonetheless the following verses written many hundred years after monistic Saivism was propounded will prove beyond doubt the influence of Saivism on Kashmiri thought and sesnsitivity.I am selectively quoting Muslim poets only to prove the point.
Shams faqir:”Zaanwale kar zaen yaar harmukh vichu deedar,parde zal az darde naar harmukh vichu deedar”.
Shah Gafoor:Yyoth yith zanamas kaenh chune larun,darinay darun soham soo;Brahma,Vishnu,Maheshwar gharun,darinay darun soham soo.
Azad Zargar:Harmukh bozmay chon keel Kalo,Ha valo baal chas praraeney
Ahmed Shah Batwari:”Vishnas ti Krishnas Raesh Maidanas,Mahaganesh tate kas kare namaskar;Gange-raaz byuthum Gange-bal thanas,jan chum mileth jahaanas seet”.
Ayub Betab:”Dyanas manz mas shankar chunho parvati mozaan,kamdevas van baan chalevaeth yokun karehaes dhyaan.”
Leave alone Kashmiri poets,Ali Mardan Khan the Afghan general wrote “Huma aasli maheshawar boodh ki shab shahe ki man deedam.Ajab sansayase deedam namo narayane guftam.”
We have countless verses to support this.Swoch Kral,Mahmud Gami,Wahab Khar,Samad Mir,Nyam Saeb,Rahim Saeb,Ahmed Dar and many others have been ifluenced by saivism abd the clear reflection is shown in their pieces of work.
Does one have to say more?So much so for philosophy.
Kashyap Bandhu is deeply revered by Pandit community for his yeoman’s contribution to curtail ceratin wasteful rituals and dresses.His contribution to the Pandit community as an educationist and social reformer is also hailed.So is Jialal Kilam’s contribution.Mr.Bazaz seems to be the flavour around which Shahnaz has cooked his pudding.Mr.Bazaz holds the same reputation among pandits as does Mr.Salman Rushdie among Muslims.I think it would be improper for me to qoute anything from the Satanic Verses for it will hurt the sensibilties of my Muslim brethern..As regards availabilty of Shavite material and knowledge,Mr.Bazaz was deeply mis-informed.For almost all major universities from Germany to Spain to United States teach Kashmir Saivism as a subject.New York State University even celebrates all major festivals and birthdays of Shaivate scholars right from Acharya Abhinavgupt to Swami Laksman joo.It has been written that Avantivarman was a brahmin and he massacared Buddhists.Kalhan who has been dispassionate and objective while writing Rajatarangni(read IV 715 to 19 and V 1-144) has made no such mention of Avantivarman killing Buddhists.It is obligatory on the scholar to mention the source of his/her research unless he/she himself travels back in time to see everything.
As for people welcoming Islam with open arms and converting of free will please read the following.The source of the texts is Bahiristan-i-Shahi.I am quoting without even changing a line.
“Sultan Shihabu'd-Din addressed himself to such works as would help him get peace in the world hereafter. He arranged a tomb and a burial place for himself to be used after his death. Towards the fag end of his life, he was infused with a zeal for demolishing idol-houses and destroying the temples and idols of the infidels. He destroyed the massive temple at Beejeh Belareh [31] (Bijbehara). He had designs to destroy all the temples and put an end to the entire community of the infidels.[32] “
“Again it needs to be recorded that for some of the time which the holy Amir spent in Kashmir he lived in a sarai at 'Alau'd-Din Pora. At the site where his khanqah was built, there existed a small temple which was demolished and converted into an estrade on which he offered namaz (prayer) five times a day and recited portions of the Qur'an morning and evening. Sultan Qutbu'd-Din occasionally attended these congregational prayers.”
“ [It may be recorded] that the temples of idol-worshippers, which had been destroyed and razed to the ground by the religious-minded and justice-loving Sultan Sikandar- God bless his grave and bless him-had been rebuilt and rehabilitated by Zainu'l 'Abidin. He had permitted idolators and polytheists to revive the practices of infidelity and they had propagated heresy (kufr) and false religion (din-i batil). With the support of some more kings,[96] the infidels had flourished day after day. But with the support and authority of Malik Musa Raina, Amir Shamsu'd-Din Muhammad undertook a wholesale destruction of all those idol-houses [97] as well as the total ruination of the very foundation of infidelity and disbelief. On the site of every idol-house he destroyed, he ordered the construction of a mosque for offering prayers after the Islamic manner.”
For details of forcible conversion of Hindus to Islam and their massacre in case they refused to be converted, see Tarikh-i-Hasan Khuihami; pp. 178-80. One significant detail is that three kharwars (one kharwar is approximately equal to eighty kilograms) of Hindu ceremonial thread (zunnar) were burnt by Sultan Sikandar. (Tarikh-i-Hasan Khuihami, Pir Ghulam Hasan, Vol II, RPD,* Srinagar 1954.)
Regarding aborigines of Kashmir, Nilamatapurana and Buddhist texts are the main source of infornation. According to Nilmatapurana and various Buddhist texts it is Vishnu who after killing Jalodbhava(the water demon) crowned Nila Naag as the king of Kashmir.It is Nila,who invited the Brahmin Chandradev to Kashmir. As for Pischasas,Buhler says’They were a tribe living in what can be called present day Kafirstan. They ate raw human flesh and drink blood.They constantly attacked various habitations and Kashmir was one of them”That we still called a blood sucking insect as pisch in Kashmir proves that this tribe drank human blood”.If someone wants to be quoted as their descendant it is for him or her to decide. It is preposterous, almost laughable to say that Aryans were Brahmins when we clearly know of the varna (caste) system from various texts of the Aryans. In Kashmiri I would say” Mae chu aeme kathe seet kit kit gachaan”.The very basis of Aryan theory is contested now. Excavations have shown worship of ring stones(mother goddess cult)lingas(erect phallus) and the seal of pashupat(the protector of livestock)are traits common to vedic people and people of Indus valley civilization. Indologists like Max Muller have propounded the Aryan myth to divide people of the sub-continent.If Aryans would have killed or forced Dravidians to flee I wonder if they would have worshipped same god-Shiva.
It is my earnest request that we must look at history objectively and not quote what suits us. Half baked understanding of complex philosophies and intentional distortion of history will get us nowhere. Kashmir stands at cross-roads. Let us not add to the misery of Kashmir desa. It is for the readers to decide who are the illegal citizens, the people who were born here or the ones who came from Arabia or Persia or Panjab.The earth has never been anyones’. It has always changed hands. Who would have one day imagined the world without the great Roman Civilizations or Greeks or the Phahroaos!!!

Gov Mansur fana,vyodun huvey hyond musalmano;
Ann Paranas chune manah,chune gudrun chaye rozaano(Ahmed Shah Batwari)

“Mahsoos”(First published In Greater Kashmir-Kashmir's largest circulated daily)

Monday, January 22, 2007

The rickshaw beckons

“I saw the rickshawallah….
On whose rickshaw we often fought and made up
The rickshaw is broken now
Like what we shared..once
No one quarrels on it any more
But the rickshawallah and his wife
around an empty earthen bowl…for the evening supper…..”

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Nund Ryosh,Lal Ded and the Mullahs-Attempts at Distorting Kashmir's past

Kasid ke attay attay khat ek aur likh rakhoo
Main jaanta ho jo woh likhenge jawaab main

It gives me immense pleasure to correspond through your esteemed newspaper with one of the best known scholars of History in contemporary Kashmir-Prof. Mohd Ishaq Khan. His column dated 11th Oct, 06 as a response to my response to his column was a sure step walked from his previous column. Prof Khan is unequivocal in describing how Nund Ryosh was equally severe on Mullahs and not just Hindu Priests. It is hard not to agree with Prof.Khan when he says Nund Ryosh’s life and the titles attributed to him should be studied in their correct contextual and conceptual framework. But before we proceed to do just that, may I submit, where in my previous column have I mentioned that only selective verses are contained in books of prayers of Kashmiri Pandits. Also have I nowhere written that Nund Ryosh was against the Shariah(Islamic Laws),what I have written is “The truth is that he criticized the established order of religion whether Islam or Hinduism” .Prof Khan quotes” But this fact should not lead him(me in this case) to assert that the Shaikh was against the Shariah or the so-called established or institutionalized religion.” I am not sure whether the word “Order” was a typographical or intentional omission. Neither have I anywhere indicated that Nund Ryosh sought to reconcile Saivism and Sufism. Therefore it is my humble request to the learned scholar not to distort what has been said in my column for we must stay clear of garbled mess of semantics and related historical disorders.
In continuation to what I have said, the question of the common thread running between two differing religious viewpoints or even a remote reference between them does not arise. Through this column I wish to make it abundantly clear that I do not wish to parrot this line of Saivism and Sufism brotherhood story (a thought already written by me in the earlier columns of this newspaper), neither do I subscribe to it. Yet history must be presented in its right perspective and context.
Kashmiri Pandits drew lineage from the home grown religion of the land which at that point of time was Kashmir Saivism. Kashmir Saivism does not recognize caste system and anyone can be a Saivite. It made a conscious effort to put philosophy of the ritual over the ritual and thus internalize the ritual itself. Kashmiri Muslims obviously drew lineage from Islam, a religious concept which was spread in Kashmir through religious preachers like Bulbul Shah and Syed Ali Hamdani. The learned scholar has written and I qoute ” At the same time, the impact of Shaivite philosophy on a true seeker after the Truth like Nuruddin cannot be ignored during the formative period of his spiritual evolution.”I am sure he wouldn’t say the same about either Bulbul Shah or Syed Ali Hamdani. There lies the difference between two sets of religious preachers of the same religion. While Nund Ryosh was a son of the soil and understood and respected concepts like Saivism and its nuances apart from being influenced by it, the foreign preachers were ignorant and even intolerant of this stream of thought as well as the existing religion in the valley. This can be easily testified by these lines relating to Syed Ali Hamdani (text Bahiristan-i-Shahi) I quote” Again it needs to be recorded that for some of the time which the holy Amir spent in Kashmir he lived in a sarai at 'Alau'd-Din Pora. At the site where his khanqah was built, there existed a small temple which was demolished and converted into an estrade on which he offered namaz (prayer) five times a day and recited portions of the Qur'an morning and evening. Sultan Qutbu'd-Din occasionally attended these congregational prayers”.It would be hard for anyone to find such verses being attributed to Nund Ryosh.As to why Pandits and Muslims call him by different names, is a story not uncommon to people living in the subcontinent. Bulle-Shah, Kabir, Lal-Ded, Sai Baba or Nund Ryosh have this common story where every community wants to own them. Prof Khan’s column is a testament to this fact in case of Lal-Ded and I quote” Such eulogisation contributed to her romanticisation, so much so that in the Sufi literature of Kashmir she was called Maryam-i Makani, Rabia Sani, Arifa and so on”.
I agree with Prof Khan about three distinct phases in the life of the great saint but let us see what Prof Khan has written. He agrees that in the second phase of his life Nund Ryosh was influenced by Lal Ded, because of her fight against Brahman ethnocentrism. Taken that to be true, and that he wanted to slay the same demon I assume there would have many more Muslim saints and Ullemas who would have been also opposing Brahman ethnocentrism more fervently than Lal Ded.Why did he chose Lal-Ded( as a role-model), a Hindu saint, a Saivite… baffles me no end! About the third phase of his life, we must take into account the times Nund Ryosh lived in.With time Nyond Ryosh gained fame and even the then king had known him. Despite being a great saint and visionary he was but a mortal and even if he wished to say something which was not in strict conformance to Sharia, he would not have dared to take the establishment and the Ullema on beyond a certain point.Besides he had the example of Mansur-bin-Hallaj, another great Sufi saint being stoned to death after his arms were severed for simply saying Anal-Haq.Maybe it is about time we discuss “Wazoo-i-Khoon”.As regards sources which Dr.Khan calls historical and Persian hagiographical accounts(and bases his brahmanical bashing..oops Historical facts on),let us evaluate their historical authenticity. Most details in this regard have come down to us in various Rishinamas or Nurnamas.Amin Kamil, an eminent poet and critic, points out , that these greatly differ from one another. The late Abdul Ahad Azad,says "greater reliance has been placed in them on imagination than on historical facts." The first Rishinama or Nurnama that has come down to us was written about 200 years after his passing away. Surely, there has been a lot of mixing of facts and fresh light needs to be shed on many "unclear" events and episodes in the story of his life and the cobwebs that have gathered around many others need to be cleared.
I really don’t feel the need to argue the fact as to why Nund Ryosh called Lal Ded an Avtaar because the verse is self explanatory and unless we have an agenda to prove something else, nothing is left to doubt. As to whether Lal Ded was a renegade, yes she was a rebel, but if she was an avatara for the commoners undergoing process of Islamic acculturation is a statement of historical mischief. If one reads Vaakhs of Lal-Ded not even one is seen to be supporting Islamic Laws (Shariah) nor have we any verses where Lal-Ded exhorts “commoners” to convert to Islam or Sufism. There surely are vaakhs asking Hindus to give up ritualistic religion and concentrate on Shiva, The all pervading. This call is truly in conformance to the cannons of Kashmiri Saivism.Out of approximately 235 odd vaakkhs which have come down to us almost one-third are devoted to Shiva and his glory,I wonder what makes Prof.Khan say that attempts are being made to resuscitating Lalla as a protagonist of Kashmiri Saivism. Lalla does not need to be resuscitated as a protagonist of Kashmir Saivism. She already is..and her vaakhs are more than a testament to that. As to why Saivate chroniclers are quiet about Lal Ded’s vaakhs and life, I presume Prof.Khan is referring to Jonaraja, Srivara, Shuka and Prajabhatta. It may surprise all of us but Kalhana makes no mention of either Charaka, Aryabhatta, Anandvardahna or even the great Abhinavgupta in his Rajatarangni. Does that mean Kalhana was ignorant or he despised them so he did not write about them. These people were essentially court chroniclers and would write royal history or incidents related to the royals. That explains why Suyya(the engineer on whose name Suyyapur-present day Sopore is based)finds mention in Rajatarangni but Abhinavgupta does not.
There still is a lot be researched about the life of the great saint especially his leanings and their historical context. While we must do serious research to clear the mist, I once again request that we should not make conscious efforts of appropriation of great icons of our history. It is being observed that such efforts are being made to erase or at-least distort the past with reference to Hindu history and its impact on Kashmiri psyche and thought. Arinmal being, in realm of imagination only or Lal Ded being avatara for people undergoing Islamic acculturation, Hari Parbat being called Kohi-Maran are all attempts of such appropriation or distortion. I would like to conclude with a verse from the great saint himself which makes us feel how he himself sought synthesis (which Prof Khan and me cannot debate on)and how the essence of Bhagwad Gita has been invoked to describe a Musalman. Also please mark the choice of words to define a faithful………

Suy Purusha Swarg Pravi,
Yus aahar tsavi beyan saan
Raten dohan yus roza thavi
Aisi Sato sath namaan
Krud,lubh,muh,mad,ahankar travi
Suy dapize musalman

Friday, January 19, 2007

Invaders and Independence

The pseudo-intellectual brigade of our nation often cites alienation of the Kashmiri masses as the reason for the armed insurgency in Kashmir. As a result of this, we Kashmiris living outside the state are often left to answer a barrage of questions ranging from, What exactly is wrong in Kashmir to Who do you side with…,or, ubiquitous and seemingly intelligent jhollawallas ( an extinct breed of communists elsewhere, to be seen only in India) asking Why doesn’t India let go of Kashmir if the people don’t want to stay with India. Being no historian of any repute whatsoever, I decided to write what can be a layman’s guide to the genesis of Kashmir crisis and the independence issue.
Unlike other Islamic invasions like that of Iran, Kashmir did not have armies of Arabs or Turks marching into Kashmir. Although Zulchu raided Kashmir in the early spring of 1323 AD,but he had entered Kashmir not with a mission to rule but to raid. This is evident from the fact that when his armies marched back (with women and children as slaves) they were caught in a snow storm which killed all of them. The conversion of Rinchan Lama (who defeated Suhdev’s general Rama Chand by treachery),to Islam was a turning point in the history of Kashmir.There are various theories on how Rinchan (1324-26AD) converted to Islam but the most plausible seems the fact that Bulbul Shah(a zealot of the Shah Ne'matullah Wali sect)converted him to Islam. Thus Rinchan was the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir, apart from being a foreigner. We must not fail to mention the role of Shams-ud-din(Shah-Mir 1341-45 AD)who had come to Kashmir as a dervish, killed associates of Kota Rani(wife of Rinchan) and usurped the crown later. Thus Kashmir began to be ruled by invaders and its natives lost their independence.
The next notable king was Shihabu'd-Din (1360-1378 AD,grandson of Shams-ud-din)about whom the famous Persian Text Bahiristan-i-Shahi says and I quote” Towards the fag end of his life, he was infused with a zeal for delmolishing idol-houses and destroying the temples and idols of the infidels. He destroyed the massive temple at Beejeh Belareh (Bijbehara). He had designs to destroy all the temples and put an end to the entire community of the infidels. But death overtook him in the year A.H. 780 (A.D 1378).”This was the beginning of miseries for the people of Kashmir. The rather notorious role of Sayyid’ Ali Hamdani(popularly called Shah-i-Hamdan in Kashmir by Muslims) in changing the mindset of foreign invading Muslim rulers from fairly benign to extremely fanatic Muslims is clear from the fact that he asked Sultan-Qutubdin to impose Shariah(Islamic Laws) in Kashmir. About Sayyid Ali Hamdani,Bahiristan-i-Shahi says I quote” Again it needs to be recorded that for some of the time which the holy Amir spent in Kashmir he lived in a sarai at 'Alau'd-Din Pora. At the site where his khanqah was built, there existed a small temple which was demolished and converted into an estrade on which he offered namaz (prayer) five times a day and recited portions of the Qur'an morning and evening. Sultan Qutbu'd-Din occasionally attended these congregational prayers.” I am choosing a Muslim source to quote for it lends credence to the fact that such demolitions were glorified and even considered righteous by the Muslim rulers, historians and the Amirs.After the death of Sultan-Qutubdin,he was succeeded by his son Sultan Sikandar who needs no introduction. “Sikandar But-shikan or Sikandar the Iconoclast” burnt or destroyed as many temples as he could lay his hands on. He killed thousands of Hindus and converted lacs. One significant detail is that three kharwars (one kharwar is approximately equal to eighty kilograms) of Hindu ceremonial thread (zunnar) were burnt by Sultan Sikandar. (Tarikh-i-Hasan Khuihami, Pir Ghulam Hasan, Vol II, RPD,* Srinagar 1954.).His period was a period of utter darkness and barbarianism in the history of Kashmir.This is what historians (mostly muslims)have to say about him."He [Sikandar] prohibited all types of frugal games. Nobody dared commit acts which were prohibited by the Sharia.. The Sultãn was constantly busy in annihilating the infidels and destroyed most of the temples..." (Haidar Malik Chãdurãh: Tãrîkh-i-Kashmîr; edited and translated into English by Razia Bano, Delhi, 1991, p. 55.)"[he] strived to destroy the idols and temples of the infidels. He got demolished the famous temple of Mahãdeva at Bahrãre. The temple was dug out from its foundations and the hole (that remained) reached the water level. Another temple at Jagdar was also demolished… Rãjã Alamãdat had got a big temple constructed at Sinpur. (...) the temple was destroyed [by Sikandar]." (Khwãjah Nizãmu’d- Dîn Ahmad bin Muhammad Muqîm al-Harbî: Tabqãt-i-Akbarî translated by B. De, Calcutta, 1973)"Sikander burnt all books the same wise as fire burns hay". "All the scintillating works faced destruction in the same manner that lotus flowers face with the onset of frosty winter." (Srivara, Zaina Rajtarangini).Many mosques were constructed from the debris of broken hindu temples. Iskandarpora was laid out on the debris of the destroyed temples of Hindus. In the neighbourhood of the royal palace in Iskandarpora, the Sultan destroyed the temple of Maha Shri which had been built by Pravarasena and another one built by Tarapida. The material from these was used for constructing a Jami' mosque in the middle of the city. Most of the Hindus fled the valley of Kashmir in order to protect their religion,women and children.This was the first forced migration of Hindus from Kashmir.Thus the first steps of pan-Islamization or conversion of Dar-ul-Harb to Dar-ul-Islam were taken and and a strong base was set for the foreign invading rulers to follow.
However the rule of Sultan Zaina-ul-abidin(Badshah)was a period of glory and prosperity for Kashmir.He rebuilt a lot of temples and appointed scholars to re-write Hindu scriptures and texts.A lot of Sanskrit texts were translated to Persian and vice-versa.Peace and great scholars returned to Kashmir.Ancient rituals and customs of the land of Kashmir were revived.Islam and Hinduism lived in harmony alongside. In terms of Zain-ul-abidin’s achievements his reign can be compared to the reign of the greatest ruler of Kashmir Lalit-aditya-Muktapida.His reign lasted fifty-two years.With the sad demise of the great leader of men and the torch bearer of secularism forces of fantacism came to the fore again.There were constant infightings between various contenders for the crown of Kashmir.All the contenders despite their differences were cruel and unjust to Hindus.The below given qoute from Baharistan-i-Shahi justifies that.”With the support of some more kings, the infidels had flourished day after day. But with the support and authority of Malik Musa Raina, Amir Shamsu'd-Din Muhammad undertook a wholesale destruction of all those idol-houses as well as the total ruination of the very foundation of infidelity and disbelief. On the site of every idol-house he destroyed, he ordered the construction of a mosque for offering prayers after the Islamic manner. The idolatory and heresy which had existed prior to his coming to this place were effectively replaced by his preaching and propagation of Islamic laws and practices. He brought honour to all the infidels and heretics (zandiqa) of Kashmir by admitting them to the Islamic faith and bestowed upon them many kinds of rewards and benefactions. It is publicly known as well as emphatically related that during his life-time, with the virtuous efforts and elaborate arrangements made by the fortunate Malik Musa Raina, twenty-four thousand families of staunch infidels and stubborn heretics were ennobled by being converted to the Islamic faith.It is difficult to compute the number of people who had hitherto indulged in corrupt practices of a wrong (false) faith and dissent and were put on the right track under the proper guidance of Mir Shamsu'd-Din 'Iraqi .” Not be fazed and bored by too much of history the point that I am trying to arrive at is…Arabs, Afghans and Persians have conquered our land for centuries, killed the natives much like Europeans who created America by killing Red Indians, destroyed temples and other great institutions like libraries and ancient houses of learning, subjugated the language of the land and imposed alien languages are now asking for independence of the very land that simply does not belong to them. That to my ignorant mind this is the genesis of the problem, though self proclaimed intellectuals like self styled commanders would argue the opposite with pen and gun respectively.
The leaders of Hurriyat want us to believe two things, one that they are the true representatives of the people of Kashmir, two the people of Kashmir want independence from the Indian dominion. That we are so used to strange happenings in the state we may believe the most absurd to be the norm, yet on both these counts our mental faculties would reason us to believe otherwise. Hurriyat is an amalgamation of fundamentalist religious parties of a certain faith alone. Most of the constituents of the Hurriyat are headed by people whose ancestors are not natives hence have come into the state as invaders or religious preachers with political motives. Thus we have a group of people mostly foreigners representing a certain faith which happens to be Islam in this case. That puts a big question mark on its so called representative character. As far as people of Kashmir(even if we consider only Muslims to be the citizens of Kashmir)wanting independence why on this earth would they stand in long queues at last assembly elections to exercise their franchise. I am referring to the last elections only because they were considered free and fair not just by national but reputed International Agencies. Besides if Hurriyat is the true representatives of the people of Kashmir as they want us to believe I wonder what Congress, PDP and other political parties are. Are people so naïve that they voted them in power despite a strong threat by terrorists to kill anyone who would vote.
The separatists by themselves are no force to reckon with. That’s why Pakistan is supporting them with men, material and money to carry out subversive activities within the state. Only a weak cause has to be supported by brute force which can be testified by the earlier attempts of rulers of non-Kashmiri descent. Why did Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela not need terrorists to support freedom movements in their respective nations?
The garb of independence very subtly hides the wolf of Pan-Islamic expansion. It is about time, we call the separatists’ bluff. Let them show their representative strength first and then claim to be the true representatives of people and torch bearers of the sponsored freedom struggle. While genuine grievances of the people of all the regions of the state should be addressed to, terrorism and its traders should be sternly dealt with for they are no better than ordinary criminals.
Thus is the layman’s guide to genesis and issue of independence in Kashmir.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Kashmiri Leela Poet ...Krishanjoo Razdan in the context of theories of Indian Poetics

Oral tradition is the cornerstone of our cultural mosaic. It is because of oral tradition that we managed to preserve whatever we have of Vedas, Puranas, the great epics and to a large extent –history. One sometimes wonders how our ancestors through the generations could remember what could possibly run into reams of paper if written down. It is then that one realizes that had not our literary works been written in poetic-lyrical or verse form all this knowledge would have been lost to us. The role of poetry can simply be understood by the mere recitation of a simple mantra which our ancestors believed had miraculous powers. The vakh (uttered or spoken word) was thus worshipped as a goddess. Therefore the role of a poet in our society is quite different from the utopian concept of Plato where there is no place for a poet. Poets in our society always had an exalted status and thus responsibility and were not mere writers of literary pieces.

In this paper we would attempt to look at Krishanjoo’s poetry in the context of various theories of Indian poetics. The idea would be to expose the present audience to the variety of bhavas, rasa and alanakras in Krishanjoo’s poetry.We would also look at the completeness of his poetry from the standpoint of a student of Indian poetry.

Rasa roughly translated as ”Emotive aesthetics” is one of the most important concepts in classical Indian poetics. Bharata in his monumental work on Indian drama ”Natyashastra” mentions 8 bhavas leading to 8 corresponding rasas.In his Rasa-sutra Bharata says

Vibhav Anubhaava Vyabichari;
Samyogat Rasa Nishapattih

Vibhav is the emotive situation,Anubhaav is the physical change due to Vibhav while Vyabhichari is the transient emotion. The coming together of vibhav, anubhav and vyabhichari leads to Rasa.
In the context of Krishanjoo’s poetry the following are the prominent bhavas leads to corresponding rasas:
1.Rati(Love) leading to Shringar(Erotic) Ras
2.Shoka(Sorrow) leading to Karuna(Pathos) Ras
3.The third bhava which is seen in some of his poems is the Krodh(Anger) leading to Raudra(furious) ras.

Lale-yi manz bag-e-bagas posh charan chas
Zan Yamberzal bombaras kyuth mushke haran chas.

The longing of the poet as a beloved waiting for her lover clearly reflects rati as a bhav and shringar as a ras.Such couplets make us wonder what Krishanjoo could have been had he opted to write romantic poetry instead of spiritual poetry.The different layers of emotions in a single couplet makes one see the emotive aspect of his poetry which is the central theme of rasa theory.

Zyooth Manzilah kod mae yakhbar;path phernas chum ne vaar
Vate paet chum kale shahmar,Aar yeenay Shumbo

On the path to spirituality (or attainment of oneness) the dilemma of the poet is but evident. The poet surely knows the pit of ignorance that he would fall into if he turns back and thus he pleads to his deity to come to his rescue. The sorrow of the poet (Shoka) is clearly visible through his verse and the pathos surfaces the way the poet pleads to his deity.

The emotional quotient in Krishanjoo’s poems is a definite opium for the connoisseurs of poetry especially the ones who are inclined in Gnostic aspects of poetry. But that apart, his poems convey meanings beyond words. The literal medium is just a precursor to the metaphorical and metaphysical aspect that it covers. The poetry is clearly woven in various layers and words remain no more than a medium and sometimes a source of embellishment.

Anandvardhana’s Dhyanaloka suggests that apart from literal and metaphorical meanings, a real work of art needs to possess the power of suggestion and thus should be able to convey various meanings. Simply put it should stimulate the imagination of the reader.

Anne ghate chaez phoj sangarmalo
Vyothe lalo yoge naendray
Gaashe-taruk gaah pave bale balo
Prakashe chane seet prazzalan aav
Doore-vyoth poore kin pyaeth panchalo
Vyoth nandlalo yoge naendray

The cited verses could convey different meanings to different readers.
For the lover of nature the picture is just perfect ..the sun is rising …the morning star shines on the firmament
For the spiritualist the hour of awakening has come
For the mother it is the time to wake up her son
For the despondent it is hope

Abhinagupta the philosophical genius goes a step further and says the two theories complement each other and thus arrives the theory of Rasa-Dhyani. According to him the aim of Kavya is to give pleasure but pleasure must not bind body to the soul. Wilful suspension of disbelief is a pre-requiste for enjoying any form of art. The poet should inspire the reader to free himself from the worldly connection and experience the supernatural aspect of poetry which has nothing to do with mundane concerns.

Damee dyothum nab nathenonuy,dame poorith obruk thaan
Damee dyothum aane gaate ratas,Damee Chandram gaah travaan

It is in these and many other verses like these that Krishanjoo manages to transport his readers to a different plane of emotions and into willful suspension of disbelief. The reader forgets the transitory physical world around him and ascends on to a spiritual plane where experiences are quite different and surely if one would say “out of this world”.

Krishanjoo was a wordsmith par excellence. He embellished his poems with the use of various Alamkras.It is widely known that when Krishanjoo started writing Pramanand was already an established Leela poet.It is however the diction and the manner in which Krishanjoo choose to write that he out did Parmanand.The use of metaphors and similes lent a special aura of poetic and lyrical authority to his poems. He mostly used common mans’ language and phrases, his rustic lifestyle, his pain and agony, his concerns as embellishment.

Vyozul buth gos yuth aesi naras,zine ambaras hachenas reh
Kroodh mwokh gos yuth kale-samharas,mane kine dharaneyi dharas dhyan

It is through verses like these that he connected to the common man. The use of words like Zine –haet and vozul buth affirms what has been said above. It is this quality of Krishanjoo which confirms what Bahamaha said about poetry”Sabadartho sahitam Kavyam”poetry is that in which word and meaning co-exist.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


“the noise in the ….gods house stared at me..
what was however said…
I could never hear….”

Monday, January 15, 2007


“Embrace anarchy….
For who knows…..the order of day….
Lasts how long!”


“The sand on the river bank …
Much like the bygones of my futile existence
waits for the last wave before the night…..
like the vermillion of the sati consummated by the fire
bears the look of the temple priest who had a nymph to sleep with…..”

Heavenly Grave

“To the gates of heaven….the road lay ….thorn adorned
for god’s promised land….the mortals lived meaninglessly
baited and bored …tired and wounded

for the promised land ..
toiled till existence ceased and god passed away..
we walked the extra step for his burial too
the gates lay ajar…the heaven ..but a grave”

Monday, January 8, 2007

Eternal Ignorance

“the walk to the park..of the dead
reminisces of the alive…who will die one day
not having known …
why the dead are dead …and why the living exist….”

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Him and Me

The light of the candle and maybe the wick arose,
Deep down oceans did the vermilion froze
Sleep of the ages and the slumber of the night
Did the ice break or the seas cease to be;

Isn't it the light that's not to be
Did I wake up to light of thee
Did my eyes see what they had to see
Am I blind wondering who is he;

I begin to rain and I am me
I think of thee and I am thee
Who then is thy if not me!
Did I see thy or was it me….
Was the light him or was it me…
Did we coalesce! that's him and me…

Him and Me

The light of the candle and maybe the wick arose,
Deep down oceans did the vermilion froze
Sleep of the ages and the slumber of the night
Did the ice break or the seas cease to be;

Isn't it the light that's not to be
Did I wake up to light of thee
Did my eyes see what they had to see
Am I blind wondering who is he;

I begin to rain and I am me
I think of thee and I am thee
Who then is thy if not me!
Did I see thy or was it me….
Was the light him or was it me…
Did we coalesce! that's him and me…

Carvan to nowhere

“the carvan of life rolled on
to nowhere
existence suffered like a dog hit by a car
somewhere on the lips of my sweetheart..
passion of my hitherto love waned like the lipstick of last night……”

Dead End

Dead End
The road to what was once my home in Kashmir....zuv chum bramaan ghare gachehae..