Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Muslim Scholar visits sacred Shrine of Sharda-Neeraj Santoshi

It was a special moment for Prof Ayaz Rasool Nazki, when he reached Shardha temple in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), becoming one of the first few Kashmiris after partition to have visited the revered shrine, considered to be oldest temple in the region.

``I strongly felt the spirit of my forefathers there who have visited the shrine for thousands of years’’, said Prof Nazki, while giving an account of his journey to the shrine at Jammu University here recently. Prof Nazki is a noted scholar of the state with many books to his credit and is presently registrar at Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University, Rajouri. ``

It is difficult to put in words the time I spent at the shrine. It is a place to be experienced. The temple may not be in its pristine glory, but the energy of the place is same, it immensely affects you. I couldn’t even sleep that night there, as I wanted to treasure all the moments spent in that area, filled with divine aura and grace’’, said Prof Nazki.

He had visited shrine on July 3-4, located in Neelam district in Shardha tehsil of POK, near an army unit. Stressing that Shardha temple is a symbol of ``our common heritage, cultural ethos and roots’’, Prof Nazki said that he was happy to see the temple structure standing there as he didn’t expect that it would have survived last 60 years without much specialised care.

``Most surprising fact is that the devastating October 5, 2005 earthquake has not affected the shrine at all or even the Shardha tehsil at all, while the rest of the areas in POK has witnessed much destruction’’, he said. He added that the temple has a square base with each side measuring nearly 24 feet and is nearly 30 feet high. He said that floor of the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine is filled with soil, with spring within the sanctorum perhaps having got filled up. ``

The 8X8 feet stone slab which is said to have covered the spring was nowhere to be seen’’, he said. The detailed photo presentation on the Shardhapeeth at Jammu University made many Kashmiri Pandits present on the occasion very emotional. Pandits have not been able to visit this shrine for last half a century, after LOC separated the two Kashmiris. The shrine is barely 10 miles across LOC in Kupwara region in the upper Kishenganga valley (also called Neelum valley) in a small village Shardhi. The shrine is atop a hillock at a height of about 550 metres on the left bank of Kishenganga river, with 63 stone steps taking one to the shrine.

Narrating his experiences of the visit, Prof Nazki said that he is the first lucky Kahmiri to visit the shrine after 1947. Asserting that a mechanism needs to be drawn for its immediate protection and restoration, Prof Nazki said that all the universities on both the sides should join hands in the preservation of this great heritage of the region. Adi Shankaracharya is said to have visited this shrine in 8th/9th century AD and penned the famous ‘Saudharya Lahri’ in praise of the Goddess.

Shardha Temple in POK : Some pointers

§ Goddess Shardha is considered to be the presiding deity of Kashmir valley.

§ From ancient times, Kashmir has been called Shardhapeeth or Shardha Mandalam.

§ Considered to be the oldest temple of Kashmir.

§ Adi Shankaracharya is said to have visited the shrine in 8th/9th century AD.

§ Annual Shardha pilgrimage used to take place on 8th of the bright fortnight of bhadon (September).

§ The sanctum sanctorum of the temple had a spring covered with a 8 by 8 feet stone slab, which was worshipped by the devotees.

§ Shardha temple located atop the hillock near the confluence of rivers Kishenganga, Saraswati and Madhumati.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

35th Year of Existence

Raevem kati anzeraevem vaens
Tinke phaelen mansevaem vaens(Moti Lal Saqi)

The English calendar hade a note of caution for me this morning. It wanted to say ” you have stepped into senility” but what it instead said was it was 13th of September 2007.
35 years I have existed on this earth. What use I thought was my being here but since I was bundled off by God almighty from wherever to here I had no option but to exist till God bundles me off elsewhere. I know he/she/it whatever God Almighty stands for, can be cruel, unfair and biased but what power do I have but to accept his/her/its will with flinching faith and disobedience.
I have swung between faith and infidelity. There have been times when I have had profound faith, but at times, with equal zeal would negate the very existence of God and sometimes go a step further. I would say “God Exists” but is an evil manifestation, enjoys bloodshed and anarchy. I would substantiate it by quoting how world history has few moments of peace and calm, but is replete with violence despite our belief that God keeps sending his messengers of peace or sometimes appearing himself to set things right.
Yesterday I went to buy a book as a present for my 35th year of existence. I had gone with an intention of buying Nietzsche’s “Thus Spake Zarathustra”. The bookseller who is a Nietzsche and a Picasso rolled into one, is one the most well read people who I have ever met. He sells old and used books at a footpath in Nehru Place, while he keeps sketching, people have a hard time finding a book. He seldom tries to sell any book. He intrigues me and interests me a lot. He doesn’t wear his religion up his sleeve but sports a beard which looks Islamic. I couldn’t find the book I wanted, exasperated, I asked him if he had short stories of Kafka. His question stupefied me. He said, what are you scared of !I said nothing. He replied we would read Kafka, if he lived in Gujarat and I lived in Pakistan. An argument I disagreed with but I did say I needed Kafka then. I am in exile, I am a Kashmiri.I ended up buying a small book on Greek Philosophers and Dostovesky’s Crime and Punishment. I had to leave Dostovesky in the company of Abhinavagupt when I fled my land, my reason for reading Kafka.
My birthdays in Kashmir would often coincide with a festival of Pan (a fertility cult goddess festival) which Kashmiri Pandits celebrate. Kashmir at this time would be looking all dressed up to welcome winter, the chinars with their golden leaves would resemble the last embers of a Yogi’s sacred fireplace and people would be earnestly shopping for Kangris.Weather would be pleasant and the chill of the night would add to the flavour of grandmas rendering of Saen-kaeser. On this day I would generally miss school and run around rice fields where people would be harvesting paddy. The pastoral lifestyle, which I miss everyday makes me curse God,while cursing I fear the reprisal when I will stand on the day of judgement.

In bated breath I recite Ghalib’s following verse

“Ibn Mariam hua kare koi,mere dukh ki dawa kare koi
Bak raha hoon junoon main kya kya kuch,kuch ne samjhe khuda kare koi”

Monday, September 10, 2007

Bitta Karate and Zia Yahya

There was a strange sense of deja-vu when I received this reply from someone called Zia Yahya.

Mon, 10 Sep 2007 14:01:05 +0100 (BST)
"zia yahya"
Subject:Re: People take to streets against a dreaded terrorist
"rashneek kher"

bitta karate is freedom fighter,everyone's freedom fighter is someone's terrorists,for kashmiries indians and their army and agencies are terrorists, who are terrorizing innocent people in kashmir.bitta karate has killed those terrorists who had links with these terrorist agencies of a terrorist country, i am proud of him for his job.long live bitta"

My memory took me many years back, well to be precise 18 years, when Bitta Karate's name was synonymous with terror. When he killed Dolly, a Muslim girl, she was yet to see her 16th spring. I was later told she had refused his overtures for an amour. There were many more who were killed by this personification of everything that comprises evil.

But that’s not the point that I am trying to make. While most of our Muslim brethren have condemned in private what Bitta Karate did, they have abstained from making their views on this issue public and understandably so. They don’t want to add to his tally of murders but adding their name to it.What disturbs me is people like Zia,who I am sure are a minority in Kashmir, but a vociferous,vitureptive and vicious minority who may never want peace to return to our motherland.

So what is Zia proud of,I asked myself.Bitta Karate isn't known to killed anyone who carried a weapon.He is primarily responsible for killing unarmed people,even when he killed Indian Air officials they were simply waiting to board a bus,thus unarmed.

I can understand this entire romanticisation around rebels and daciots or even criminals since most of the humans have an intrinsic evil in us,but then most of us weave images of evil in Robin Hood frames rather than "Jack the Ripper"frames.So in that sense I can imagine Osama bin Laden being someone's (even after whatever he stands for) pride,I fail to understand whats there in being proud of someone who has killed because of a sickness of compulsion to kill unarmed and innocent people.

I hope the new"Zia" is not an re-incarnation of Gen.Zia-ul-Haque and Yahya Khan .If that be the case Allah be with us.A Nero is born.

Monday, September 3, 2007

This one has no title

I tried various ways of writing this.Everytime I tried writing something it wouldn’t come as it should.
I am celebrating today the 17th anniversary of my home being burnt by “Warriors of God”. A friend told me they looted my home before they burnt it down.
It was a house by the brook.
It was a house in the courtyard of which me,Yasin,Shafiq,Pintoo,Mushtaq and my brother played cricket.
There were Khan’s who lived right across the brook.
Mohd Yusuf lived one house away.
Kahej Taet further up the Gaas Chareey(gazing ground),infront of her house were people we called Tine-wael(they lived in a house made of asbestos, for some odd reason)
There were orchards all around and some rice fields too.
Kaul’s lived some 500 meters away.
I still can’t write it well…it is hard to write it well, as I rue the loss of my home, my identity and my existence, I miss all my childhood friends and neighbours.
This is my pain..someone help please...

Dead End

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