Monday, September 29, 2008

We the People

They were hanging.There was hardly a peg,a tree trunk,an electric pole from where they were not hanging. They came in all sizes and colours. Some were made of old pherans and others of the colourful but torn summer dresses.The noose was tight.It almost ensured that the effigy dies the moment it is hanged..Entire valley had descended into a pall of gloom..People wore black bands and shouted slogans against Gen.Zia-ul-Haq. The day was marked by sporadic incidents of violence and curfew had to be clamped in many parts of Kashmir.
Meanwhile Pakistan went about its business normally.
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was hanged that morning.It was a move that evoked widespread condemnation the world over, but protests, only in Kashmir. While Bhutto was hanged in Pakistan, Zia was hanged in Kashmir.
As time passed by Zia became the hero of the masses. He was seen as an icon of resurgent Islam, someone who brought back faith to people and implemented Sharia as the law of land.Many years later when Zia was killed in a plane crash, Kashmir was again wailing and weeping. Many took to the streets.In seminars, held in his memory, he was called the Amir-ul-Moimeen(The leader of the Faithful),the true muslim, the upholder of Sharia. Everyone seemed to have forgotten that he was hanged many years back, in this land.
Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah (love him or hate him) was one of the tallest leaders of Kashmir(both literally as well as metaphorically).People loved him, sorry, adored him. It may be true that most Pandits did not like him yet he had his share of admirers or chamchas among Pandits as well, depending upon which side of the fence you are on. Kashmiris called him the Lion of Kashmir, an epithet that almost personified him. There were lakhs of people on the streets of Kashmir to attend his funeral. They were full of sorrow and wondered how the void created by his death would be filled. His grave was like a Dargah with people pouring out in large numbers to read Fatiya,place flowers and spray Itr(perfume).
Not many years later a movie named,”Omar Mukhtar-The Lion of the Desert” was screened in Kashmir. The screening led to violent protests and people bayed for Sheikh’s blood. They wanted to dig his grave and some even wanted to urinate on it. They all wondered why Shiekh did not fight the Indians like Omar Mukhtar, the Libyan Tribal Leader fought his opponents. A Lion it seemed had eclipsed another Lion.
The arrival of militancy saw many people calling Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah a traitor. They said the title of Sher-i-Kashmir was a title bestowed on the Sheikh by the Indians.Once again the voices wanting to dig him out of his grave got louder and shriller. Police and Para-Military Forces were now guarding the shrine of who was once “the greatest leader of Kashmir”.No one came to place flowers at his grave anymore. No one wanted to spray Itr on his grave.
Suddenly one day two young boys turned up with a small bottle of Itr.It was pleasant surprise for the Policeman posted there. They allowed them to go to the grave.The boys hurriedly emptied the contents of the bottle on his grave and left.As soon as the young boys left, the stench of urine filled the place. By the time the Police could react the two boys had vanished.
Tailpiece:Once a journalist asked Sadiq Saab(one of the Chief Minster’s of Kashmir),about his support base in the valley.Sadiq Saab replied 40 lacs.The journalist asked him about Sheikh Saab’s support base.The answer was still the same.The perplexed journalist asked him,What is the population of the valley.The answer was still the same.

Rashneek Kher

Friday, September 5, 2008

Harmukh Vich Deedar

The title of this post may not be in consonance with the contents of the post but as it unfolds we will find the title relevant.Be patient for it may be a long,dry and sometimes scholastic.
I have been requested by many of my friends to write something on the controversy sorrounding the Amarnath Land Lease Issue.I have really been postponing writing my thoughts becuase the issue was so mired in controversy that I did not know where to start from.
It was 30th of June,08 and it was my daughter's third birthday.I had travelled to Ahmedabad to be with my family so that we could all celebrate the day.In exile,I have many outposts but no home.However,in the back of my head was this feeling of uneasiness.Crowds in Kashmir were swelling against the land transfer to the SASB.Kashmir was turning green.The green of Islam was clothed in the green of environmental conservation.We were told Kashmiri Muslims are protesting because giving this land meant environmental degradation while the slogans and the frenzy on the streets had a different story to tell.It was Pakistan se Rsihta Kya-La Illah Illlaha and Hum Kya Chahtee-Azadi.
When I woke up on 30th morning,Mehbooba Mufti had a cruel smile as she appeared on Times Now.The land given to Shrine Board was revoked.To say that I felt hurt or helpless would be an understatement.I took the evening flight back to Delhi.As I sat waiting for the flight to take off I called my friend Aditya and told him,"we are born at a wrong time in History".
I for one am in favour of a Yatra which extends for no more than 15 days.This two month Yatra is against the established ritual of the Yatra as prescribed in the Amaraeshwar Mahatmaya.The Yatra has lost its sanctity because of this unwanted extension.There is a prescribed period for the Yatra which we must follow both as a matter of tradition as well as religion.
Whether the land is given or not given to Shrine Board is also not an issue.What is really important in all this is the reaction to simple land transfer.It raises serious questions about how Islamized the valley has become.How much they hate the very presence of any vestige of any non-Islamic institution in the Kashmir.For those who may not know that an University (to be called Sharda Peeth) was to be established in Kashmir.This project also faced similar protests and is now scrapped.On this blog I have often gone into the details of Kashmir's hoary vedic past and its being an abode for heterogenity before the invasion at the hands of Muslim Invaders.The Muslims of Kashmir today want to draw their ancesstery to the pagans of Arab or fleeing Mullahs of Iran.And that is the root cause of all the protests.The pattern of religious and ethnic cleansing is bare for all of us to see.First they drove away the Pandits,then they burnt their houses and then desecrated their temples and shrines.Amarnath Shrine was increasingly being seen as the last vestige of the Hindu(mind you not Pandit) connection to the mainland India because Shiva as a deity has a pan Indian presence unlike goddesses like Rajgyna or Sharika who are the Isht Devis of the Kashmiri Pandits alone.This was consistently irking the separtists,the Muftis and their masters across the border.They wanted it be stopped somehow.
The necessity for the land to be leased to the Yatris was felt by the board because a lot of people died in a snow storm some years back.All these could have been saved if we had some structures where they could have escaped the wrath of the nature.Probably thats why the government acceded to the request of the Board.It was eventually two PDP ministers,who cleared the decks for the land transfer to the SASB for a two months' period.
However as soon as the separatists(read Pan-Islamists) started protesting against the land transfer, the Muftis,who I often called the plagirized version of Hurriyat,felt losing their turf.They joined the bandwagon and called for revocation of the very order that they had stamped.Kashmiri Muslims have increasinly been used to bringing people down to streets to scare the government.More often than not has the Indian State fallen to this and many desicions in the past have been revoked or softened because the Indian state did not have balls to call the separtists' bluff.
So shrill have the voices emanating from Kashmir become that Sajjad Lone(not even a Mohallah leader) had the cheek to tell Barkha Dutt to mute Dr,Jiteneder Singh's mike on the TV Show.He even had the audacity to tell Dr.Ajay Chrungoo that his stance could irk someone in Kashmir which can lead to further problems for Pandits living in Kashmir.Little does he realise that he himslef spends a lot of time in Delhi,in a predominantly Hindu dominated area.
What the government did not expect was the reaction from Jammu.They were taken aback as people in Jammu took to streets in far greater numbers than Kashmiri Muslims.Everything came to a standstill.The bandh was complete and voluntary.The movement was drawing support from everyone.Yet it was Omar Abdullah's speech that it gave it the required impetus.He said "hum jaan de denge par zameen nahee denge" as if the Abdullah's already had the title of the land.Kuldeep Dogra's suicide as a reaction to Omar's speech re-kindled passions and now the entire Jammu province joined the Sangarsh Samiti.There were ofcourse the underlying dormant hurts which got an opportunity to vent.Jammu has often been treated as a poor cousin of Kashmiris.Jamuities,who contribute 75% to the state ex-chequer have been treated badly by the State.The Kashmiri Pandits never got a chance to vent their hurt and humiliation.They have been angry at the way the State has treated them.
So Jammu burst.The separatists were getting a taste of their own medicine.They cried "Economic Blockade".The "economic blockade" was made an alibi for going to Muzzafarabad.Although newspaper after newspaper kept chruning out stories of no blockade yet the separtists have seldom taken truth from elsewhere but Pakistan.Don't we all know that Eid in Kashmir is celebrated only when the Hilal Committee of Pakistan approves that"they have sighted moon".Indian Muslim, it seems,is not a part of the Ummah.
Now when the land is restored to the SASAB for three months of Yatra,the separtists must be nursing their wounds and learning to mend their tongues.Sajjad Lone's statement that "the land issue is resolved,touch me if you can" must be stuck somewhere in Kupwara trying to cross to Rawalpindi.
As all this happens I remember the myraid verses that scores of Muslim poets have written to the ominpoetent glory of Shiva.In all this my favourite remains, Shams Faqir's verses
Zaane wale kar zaanee yaar,Harmukh* Vichu Deedar
Parde Zaal Aaz dard-e-naar,Harmukh Vichu Deedar
O! seeker of truth,turn to Harmukh
Burn the veil of ignorance,turn to Harmukh
(*In Kashmir,the mountain of Harmukh is believed to be the abode of Shiva)
We as Kashmiris still can redeem ourselves by turning back to Harmukh for burning our ignorance.The sooner the separtists and Muslims in general realise this the better it will be for Kashmir.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Pied Piper and the Rats

The moment I got into my hotel room at Bhuvaneshwar I wanted to check out the latest on the Trust Vote.I switched on the Television.Omar Abdullah,one of the young voices of Kashmir,began his speech.On most occassions I have liked what he writes or speaks even if I disagree with his views.To be honest he has been a pleasant departure from his grandfather as well as his father who have known to be masters of rhetoric and two-facedness.
He began and as usual I expected him to speak like the way he would.But Alas ,it was run of the mill stuff,the stuff that intelligent,sorry cunning politicians would generally sayFor sometime I thought it was his father speaking.
I am a Muslim and an Indian and I dont see how the two are different.I was stumped.Is he the same man who only a week before was parroting Kashmiri Nationalism.Was he not the same guy who called the Muslim protestors upsurge against the land transfer to Amarnath Shrine as the national sentiment of Kashmir.So please let us know whether you are an Indian or a Kashmiri because you seem to contradict yourself.
Well there was more to come.We haven't destroyed temples and mosques.Well wasn't it his father's constituency and later his where many temples were destroyed and desecrated.Isn't it also true that he remained a mute spectator when all this was happening.Hasn't Kashmir seen more than 600 desecrated and broken temples,some razed to ground and the land occupied by local Muslims.Well Omar,you cannot fool all the people all the time.Look around your backyard and you will see temples in shambles.So please dont bullshit.Wandhama falls in Ganderbal ,Omar.It is right under your nose that 23 Pandits were masscared and the only temple in that area burnt.Now the case too stands closed and you have the cheek to say that ,We did not destroy temples.Dont you feel ashamed of yourself for lying so balatantly?
What irked me the most was that his conscience pricks him because he was a part of the NDA government and continued to do so even after Gujarat riots.Why is it that his conscience pricked him only when he finished his tenure with that government where he was a Minister of State for External Affairs,if my memory serves me right.Why did he not resign there and then or was the lure of the chair compensating for the cost of his conscience?Crocodile tears is what the Abdullahs are known for and Omar proved that he is the illustrous scion of the same family.He can but only lie.
Yet as he played his flute, the Editor in Chief of a newspaper was all praise for him,almost fell head in heels over Omar.The next day the Newspaper sang paeans to Omar,yes,on the front page.Another editor in chief wanted to give an Oscar to him,if there would have been an Oscar for the Speeches.Thankfully there isnt one yet.
The rat race did not stop here.Many other smaller rats too wrote and spoke highly of his speech.As always the Indian "Mainstream" Media fell for words as rats would for bread crumbs.......

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

An encounter of a different kind

I walked out of my office to take an Auto to the bank.Since the bank is less than a km away it is difficult to find an auto rickshaw.One really has to haggle sometimes to get the right fare.I saw an auto standing outside the Satyam Cineplex.A pleasant looking middle aged Sardarji with a saffron Pagri said, come in please.I asked how much he would charge.He said pay me only after you get to where you want to go.Aap se hee bone hogi(You are my first customer for the day).
We had hardly traveled 200 meters when my phone rang.It was Masood Taing,my friend from Shopian,Kashmir.The decibel levels of traffic at the Nehru Place traffic signal were so high that we could hardly converse.Soon the light turned green and the auto turned towards GK-I.The Sardarji stopped the auto rickshaw on the side of the road so that I could talk properly.When the conversation finished I asked the Sardarji to move.He was smiling and said in chaste Kashmiri”Aaz booze varraye veher pannen zaban”(After many years have I heard my mother tongue today).I asked him which place he belonged to and he said (again in Kashmiri), I am from Barrahmulla(Varmul).He too was a refugee like me.He had a small spare parts business back in Kashmir but was now drawing his sustenance from driving an auto rickshaw .He and his family lived in a rented room ,in Kalkaji.
We arrived at the bank.I got down and paid him his due which he proudly accepted.Like long lost friends we talked about our land,our shared past and an uncertain future. I felt as if we knew each other for a long time and this meeting was just that, we were meeting after a long time.In meeting him, there was a strange sense of excitement & sorrow,pain & pleasure. We hugged each other and I kissed his hand.
As he drove on, he kept looking back and I stood there till he got lost in the maze of the traffic

HOPE by Brijnath "Betab"

I have tried to translate some of the verses of the poem titled HOPE written by Kashmiri poet and broadcaster Brijnath Betab.

Muday Gande gande chu rozaan aasmanas
Muda Yamesund chu vatun la-makanas

In unwavering gaze, he stares the sky
Certain of finding a way, back home

Naves doras ander pake bronth suy akh
Chu rahbar nav javaan yas kaarevanas

Will see the dawn of the new firmament
The caravan of who, is by the precept of youth,

Pazzar posheich chi prakrat mushqe chatunuy
Tagun gache sag ti dyun tat bhagewannas

Nurse the buds of your dreams and reveries
In veracity will the fragrance blossom

Zamanay Gardeshan yaem laeg safaras
Timay havan pagah vath nov zamanas

Addresses of those lost in the upheavals of time
Will lead the future to horizons anew

Naves gaashas andar naev aash zotan
Oobur hyotmut chalun chun aasemanas

In bright light, fresh hopes simmer
Clearing are the clouds of despair

Pholan tith guel gachan sartaaze aangan
Lagan vaen parde naev praenes makaanas

Afresh will the courtyard be in bloom of flowers
And adorn will the new curtains, the old house

Tawarikhuk Kasam Betab aese Zenav
Phutan kothe gach che vich paanay tufaanas

Destined we are to win,Betab
Storm itself will be doldrums then….

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

She yelled at him. You don’t have a way with people. You annoy people so easily. All the good work that you do often ends up in a dustbin because of the way you handle people. Everyone hates you for one reason or another. This isn’t going anywhere. As long as you don’t learn how to work and manipulate people all your art and knowledge isn’t worth a penny. You have to learn to be quiet even when you know everyone around is lying. Maybe it is time you learn how not to speak, how not to react, how not to speak truth, how not to express yourself. And who the hell told you to be so involved in anything at all? Do you really think you are going to change the world or for that matter whatever shit you are associated with. Emotional fools don’t go anywhere. They are like trees whose roots are so stuck to their ground that they simply dig deeper their own graves.
He didn’t say anything. He was already trying to put into practice what she was saying. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t heard it before. A lot of his friends had found his emotional trait as an asset that only others could use; his detractors had found this an alibi for attacking him. They often branded him unstable, stubborn, hyperactive and frenzied. It wasn’t his EQ that actually worried them. He was passionate to the point of being insane and thats what scared his foes and friend alike.

Enough is enough. I have suffered a lot because of being too involved. He made up his mind that this is it. This is the last time in my life that I have had myself involved in a cause,he said to himself. Yet he knew he would be back again to what gave him pain and ecstasy. This was the pleasure of the pain. This was the only shred that kept him connected to his void. Holding on to it was painful, getting out of it -complicated.
In days such as these he would often turn to his past to cheer him up .He recollected the day when his would be wife had asked him about the ten most important people/causes in his life. She knew what the first one would be and he didn’t disappoint her either. It wasn’t she. It was an affirmation and not a surprise for her. She had many times seen tears rolling down his cheeks the moment anything related to Kashmir came up.
Reason had never been his cup of tea. I have often heard him say”Aap kab akal ke madrsse se ishq ke mahqade main aa rahee hain”.He closed the door behind him. He sang aloud

Shola hoon bhadkne ki guzarish nahee karta
Sach munh se nikal jaata hain koshish nahee karta

He sat on the solitary rug in his study. The rug looked beautiful with its red fairies and blue flowers. He was extremely fond of the rug because it never had any complaints against him. Even today it welcomed him as it did always. Like a man intoxicated ,he sang to the rug

Aap kyon hain saare duniya se juda
Aap bhi dushman meray ban jaaeye

The rug didn’t reply. It never did.

Monday, June 9, 2008

My first brush with Translation

This is an attempt to translate one of the poems of Arjun Dev "Majboor".He is a great Kashmiri poet and scholar .Here is an earlier piece that I wrote on him.

Charer hyu aaz chu basaan nov baharaes
Nachan Aalav che bekas yath shahraes

A strange void enshrouds this spring
Helpless and astray our prayers are

Chu Cholumut choor-e-Kustyaan doore shaye
Masheth gomut chu maechar naag-e-haraes

In somber silence, his quiet flight to a distant land
And forgotten is the virtue of sweetness to the spring of love

Mooshq nyumut muhit chukh aaz zamanas
Tavay Aaamut chu khur maa gaatejaaraes

Lost to us is the essence of fragrance
Entangled wisdom is in the mesh of frenzy

Amar-ek-val to chasmen hind samanbal
Dilek Achbal niyam kus baaleyaaraes

Like a dream, I behold meadows, where blossomed our love
In vain I yearn, for someone, to take them to you.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Khuda ke liye'

She laid there numb. She was constantly receiving the thrusts on her body. With all his aggression he was fucking her. He was taking out on her what he had received during fifty years’ of Indian aggression in Kashmir. He was accomplishing a holy purpose of planting a seed of faith in an infidel whore. Occasionally his beard would scratch her face. She wouldn’t move or react. There were no tears, no sorrow, no fear of it happening all over again.
That evening the soldiers of God went to hunt the remaining infidels. What could have been a better night than the one they chose? When the faithful were praying in the mosques the soldiers of God cleansed the village of the remaining infidels. The youngest dead when buried had 23 bullets in his petite body .He too showed no signs of sorrow, no fear of death and no tears. The first bullet had put all that to rest.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


My incoherent words aren’t giving a voice to my incessant thoughts. They are wandering almost aimlessly like the molecules of a random chemical reaction. Words have often betrayed me in the past. This time though they aren’t betraying me. They are simply playing hide and seek.
After all it has been long since I played with them. They were pals with my thoughts, not long ago. But today, they seek vengeance from me for not having indulged with them. It was with them, that I spent my wilderness and solitude.It was first through them,that I heard I was a coward a Dalle Bata.It was them who conveyed to me that it was time for me to leave the Firdaus.It was them who saw me in love with the cricket on my wet window just after the first monsoon in exile.It was them I would hide so as not to reveal my tongue for fear of reprisal. It was through them that I explained the meaning of Rasul Mir’s verses to my beloved. It was them who got stuck between her and my lips the first time we kissed. It was with them I wrote my obituary and my life after.
Today when they sink into the abyss of my empty self to hide,I seek them to draw images of the day when my daughter had her first tryst with them.Like a prostitute who bewitches her customers to sleep with her, I seduce my estranged words with thoughts. I plead with them to come out of the abyss.They hide and I seek…..

Monday, April 7, 2008

Navreh-Is there a new flame somewhere?

Many years back I wrote this on a Navreh.
Yi Kyut Navreh,Kaemis che reh,
Na che ti na maey,teli Kyut Navreh
Bujras chuy Vaey,Yavanas hey
Vaen kyut navreh,Vaen kyut navreh
Deep inside me,something was breaking.It was hard to tell why I saw no hope,no need for celebration.After all who celebrates broken homes and broken hopes.The "reh"signifies light or fire of the new year.It signifies the new spirit of our souls,a new resolve to rebuild what is lost,to regain what was ours.All that seemed a distant dream when I penned down those pensive lines.
Radhika is just 15.She wasnt even born when she was thrown out of what would have been her home.Her chaste Kashmiri coupled with her resolve to return to her roots inspired me to revisit my lines.
As an ode to her and to my comrades in Roots in Kashmir,
Ye chu nov Navreh,vich prazlaan chay na chaney reh
chuy chane rahey,rang rotumut maey
chakh aash baneth vaen aamech chey,
kad valenje maenae,yus chuy vaeh
Aakash ti pataal sar kar aaz
chey prarran panchalech ,che divay
haeth pagahuk gaash,che aayak aaz
bar-e-chirninaev kin mae chaye divay
vanvas me mokelaav mahsoosas
aaz kaluk vamaan karetan khay

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Return of the Pandits

There are no more than 4000 Kashmiri Pandits left in the Kashmir Valley now. Going by the declining figures of this microscopic community we may soon have lesser Pandits than the “protected Hangul-the endangered Kashmiri Deer” in the valley.
The government has made a spectacle of those Pandits who had fled the valley in the face of selective killings and terror unleashed on them by militants. They have put them up in camps, which lack basic amenities like water, power, drains etc. forget toilets and schools. To give the reader an index of how bad the things are, here it is, there is one toilet per hundred families in the Muthi Camp. A camp that lodges more than 10000 exiled Kashmiri Pandits has less than 25 toilets. The Pandits are used by the “State” as visible victims of Pakistan Sponsored terrorism. Every fact finding mission on Kashmir makes a customary visit to these camps and the government of the day parrots ” See what Islamic terror has done to us”. It is thus in the interest of the government to keep Pandits in pitiful conditions. Three cheers for the art of Statecraft.
More than half a million Pandits had to flee from their homes in Kashmir at the outbreak of insurgency in Kashmir, thus making it the largest forced exodus in the modern history. The ethnic cleansing of Pandits was complete sans a few who resiliently chose to stay back. The ones who did show the courage to stay back had to face seven massacres in which more than 250 Pandits lost their lives. They also were a witness to large scale destruction of their places of worship. According to a Statesman report published recently, more than 600 temples have been desecrated and destroyed.
When the Prime Minister recently announced a slew of measures for the Exiled Pandit Community and the kin of the terrorists (the prey and predator’s kin), the Pandits back in the valley felt left out. One of my Pandit friends living back in the valley wrote to me ” So I have to either kill someone or flee the valley to get anything from the government” Satire it was ,but truth too. One could feel these were words written in abject hurt and desperation.
The government in arms with some of its cahoots encouraged the celebration of Janam-Asthami and Dusshera in the valley. Both events were hugely covered by both the National as well as International Media. Good news for everyone. The government reiterated “Things are returning back to normal”.The militants got a much needed shade of saffron to press home” the minorities are safe here” the press had a great story-one of brotherhood, peace and glorious traditions of the much hyped Kashmiriyat !!!
It wasn’t after all a minor event that these festivals were celebrated in the valley after a gap of 17 years. So while everyone was glued on to the good story, something sinister was underway. Temples were being sold and their properties given away to unscrupulous elements in the society. Obviously this wasn’t a great story, so no one of any consequence whatsoever reported. What it however did was that it prompted Pandit organizations to push government to pass the much delayed “temple bill”. This bill if passed by the State Legislature would have paved the way forward for the Pandits to manage and maintain their temples in Kashmir. But then it was not to be. The Bill was delayed yet again for the fourth time in a row. Even the much damned government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has a better score card on this. They allow Sikhs to maintain and manage Gurudwaras in Pakistan. This Is India-a secular multicultural democracy. Put it into your hookahs and smoke it out.
My friend sent me an account of two temples which have been recently sold in the valley. The Sales are as fresh as Jan,08.
1. Location – Mohalla Ashraf Khan (Mom Khan) inside Kathi Darwaza, land measuring approximately 90 Kanals pertaining to Baba Dharam Dass Trust, Barbar Shah has been sold out to one Syed Dilawar, Retired Teacher, (Son-in-Law present Municipal Councillor – Raja) and Shakeel Ahmad Ganai. Fencing of the property is going on. The complex houses a temple and Dharamshalla.
2. Location – Zevan, Near BSF Camp. Land measuring approximately 70 Kanals pertaining to Dharmarth Trust, this land was used for religious congregations on the religious functions .The land has been converted into plots and plots are ready for sale.
For those who may not be aware of the geography of Kashmir, both the places are in Srinagar. One can very well imagine the fate of temples in the countryside. When the writer of this piece went with a complaint to the Deputy Commissioner of Pulwama (in 2006) regarding a hugely revered and now desecrated shrine, his reply was curt. There is no one to look after the temples. Well right! Since the Gods did not have anyone to look after them, in a fit of anger they must have broken themselves and then emptied their bellies right on their own faces. Such is the apathy of the powers to be with regard to Kashmiri Pandits. In the presence of the media, this very Deputy Commissioner would rue the exile of Pandits as a loss to Kashmir and Kashmiriyat.

The Greater Kashmir (a separatist leaning English Newspaper published from the valley) reported that the Pandits of the valley demand re-opening of massacre related cases which the government has closed citing lack of evidence and further progress in the cases. They have also asked the government to handover these cases to CBI. Noble intentions! Little do these poor souls know that CBI’s record as an investigating agency is pathetic to say the least. It has been more 17 years now that it was given to investigate cases related to killing of 4 IAF officers and kidnapping of Rubaiya Sayeed(the then Home Minister’s daughter) in Kashmir. There has been little or no progress in either of the cases. If this is the fate of high profile cases what can the poor Pandits expect from CBI.

In the past one week we have heard a lot of significant and not so significant inviting Pandits to come back. Even the otherwise reluctant believer in co-existence Syed Ali Shah Geelani also sent out invitations to Pandits to “return and live alongside their Muslim brethren”. Good words, now can we see some action on the ground. Do we next see Mr.Geelani holding a Dharna or a strike to protest killings of Pandits at the hands of “his boys with toys”. Shall one soon see him asking the government to re-open cases related to Pandit massacres? Will he issue a public appeal asking people to refrain from buying temple and shrine lands? Unless words are backed by actions, they remain mere words. Mr.Geelani, I know you are the only Kashmiri separatist leader who hasn’t sold his soul but on the Kashmiri Pandit issue you have always either been reticent or played to the gallery. Unless the “appeals” and “invitations” for return are preceded by visible and tangible work on the ground they will remain what in Kashmiri is called “A lol ros Nalamot”, An embrace without love.
Before the government, separatists and the other political parties in the valley send out calls, invites and mushy messages to “their exiled brethren” it would be best that they attend to the ones who are already living a marginalized life almost bereft of an identity. These people are like a microcosm of the larger Pandit community. The treatment meted out to them would reflect the commitment of the majority community to the return of Pandits.If the separatists and the government is really serious about the return of Pandits to the valley it is time they heed to the calls of the Pandits living in the valley. The exiled Pandits would need no beckoning to their land once they feel that their microcosm is blossoming.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


It wouldn’t be the first or the last time in the history of mankind that a killer is freed or elevated to a position which in all likelihood he doesn’t deserve. The crowd has sometimes chosen to free Barbaras and instead crucify Jesus.It has been us the”Ashraf-ul-makhlooq” who chose to stone Hallaj to death.

So when India Today decided to invite Yasin Malik as a speaker in one of their sessions titled” Youth Forum - If I Could Change The World” they were only following what fellow human beings had done in the past. What however shocked me was this description (
wherein they mentioned nothing of his pending TADA cases some indeed as shocking as kidnapping the then Union Home Minister’s daughter (which he has himself admitted to,read here, ),
or killing 4 unarmed air-force officials. When someone recently asked him about the killings of 4 unarmed air-force officers who were waiting to board a bus, he blurted almost nonchalantly” The IAF personnel were not innocent victims. They were the agents of the 'enemy'.
(read here,
So was it fair to kill these personnel Mr.Malik? The answer in all likelihood meant YES.

Yet once again when a respected columnist and someone who runs an online periodical asked him this ,” I find it strange, because it was your organization JKLF that killed most of the innocent Kashmiri Pandits and yet the blame goes to the so-called fundamentalists.” he had no answer. What then prompted INDIA TODAY to call his so called movement a secular one?
When quizzed” But you are responsible for such killings as Chief Commander?
Malik’s answer was :No I am not… and I don’t want to talk about it further

Praveen Swami, writes in his column titled” J&K: Veils and Daggers – The Perils of India’s Secret Search for Peace “What did surprise observers was the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s choice of chief guest: the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leader, Mohammad Yasin Malik. Ever since the JKLF renounced ‘armed struggle’ a decade ago, after its decimation at the hands of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM), Malik has repeatedly asserted on more than one occasion that he is committed to the principles of Mahatma Gandhi. Malik has also claimed the JKLF’s struggle is ‘secular’, despite its past involvement in attacks on the Kashmiri Pandit community, while the Lashkar-e-Taiba makes no secret of its loathing for Hindus, Jews and other ‘unbelievers’.(

Now if INDIA TODAY would have cared to know a little more about its “Youth Icon” they would have known that the man on board is a remorseless killer and a kidnapper who doesn’t mind sharing space with the most fanatic organisations like Lashkar.I am at my wits end trying to read what could have prompted INDIA TODAY to invite such a man to their conclave.Could it be that Yasin Malik a former terrorist and a dreaded man even now, may have a vision for India.Doesn’t his vision flow from the power of the AK-47 that he first brought to Kashmir.How could a multicultural Indian ethos draw its vision from a man whose entire philosophy has been based on hate.It was he and I remember vividly, when he shouted “Azadi Ka Matlab kya…and his followers responded La-illah Illalah”.If this is his vision for India I can only say”Ya Allah mujhe nijaat aise vision se ya maut de” and I am sure Yasin Malik is still capable of giving me death as he done to my fellow Kashmiri brethren in the past.

Is the sacred thread of secularism in India so fragile that it would have broken had Yasin Malik not been invited to this conclave. Let us for arguments’ sake accept that Yasin Malik has indeed given up us rogue ways and is now following the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi. Does it mean that we are condone his sins of past? Are we to simply press the delete button on and forget his sinful,ferocious and perverse past? Should there be no retribution for his sins? If Sanjay Dutt is to imprisoned time and again for having a Kalishnikov ,are we to accept that Yasin Malik is above the law. Don’t we all know it was he who brought guns and thus violence to Kashmir? Despite all his acrobatics he remains but a killer, an ordinary criminal on street.

There is no doubt that the government has been lax on its part in dealing with criminals like him. There still isn’t a charge-sheet for either his involvement in killings of IAF officers or for kidnapping of Rubaiya Sayeed. Even if he has changed sides now, as we are made to believe, isn’t the government trying to buy peace at a very high price. Sorry maybe I have lost plot but how different is the INDIA TODAY group from our sick government. How could it not read and know what this man’s past and even his present. When a local newspaper called Chattan wrote against him, he had them threatened and even their office destroyed. Murtaza Shibli writes in his description of him that,” He is known for his bad language - he swears and smokes regularly despite a heart condition”. Wouldn’t it be funny to say the least that in his fit of anger (probably a dirty baggage of his militant past, when he could get angry and kill ) he assaults Aditya Mittal much like he did to a much older and almost venerable Abdul Ghani Butt in a Hurriyat meeting.
I am appealing through this blog to the INDIA TODAY group to re-consider its decision to invite a remorseless killer, kidnapper and a terrorist to its conclave. His presence at their conclave would only blemish their spotless reputation as a responsible media house. It is also my humble request to the other speakers to raise their voice and refuse to share dais with a hardened criminal and a terrorist.
If anyone still has any doubts about his past,here is the BBC Hard Talk video,which leaves nothing to imagination.
In anticipation of sanity
Rashneek Kher

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

*Among the dervishes * by Aditi Bhaduri(in The Hindu)

"In the men of Hind the usages of Hind are praiseworthy. In the men of Sindh those of Sindh...
Ways of worship are not to be ranked as better or worse... It is all Praise, it is all right."

Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi,
WERE these the paths that Rumi once trod? Was this the earth on which he is said to have whirled round in ecstasy? Had he stared wistfully at this very moon mourning the loss of his beloved, Shams of Tabriz? The thoughts whirled as I entered Konya.
I was in Mevlana Town, the honorary name for this Turkish city in Central Anatolia; a name by which all Turks know this place, for "Mevlana" has for centuries drawn people from all corners of the globe.
Early life
Jalaluddin was born in Balkh province of today's Afghanistan in 1207 AD but made this town his home. Konya was then the capital of the Rum Seljuk Empire. Jalaluddin of Rum or Rumi, as he came to be known, became a great scholar and teacher of philosophy.
When he was 37, he encountered the wandering mystic, Shams of Tabriz. In Shams, Rumi discovered the inner Friend, the soul, God himself. Such was Rumi's attachment to Shams that it incurred the wrath of his other disciples and the latter had to flee to Damascus twice to save his life.
Each time Rumi made him return till one day Shams disappeared. The verses inspired by Rumi's love and longing for Shams are among the most magnificent works in Persian — the Diwan-I-Shams-I-Tabriz, also known as Divan-I-Kebir, with 44,000 verses.
In time, Rumi found a mirror of his Beloved in his disciple, Husam-e-din ibn Akhi Turk. This relationship inspired Rumi's other seminal work The Masnavi — a collection of fables, anecdotes, Quranic revelations, poetry and even tales from the Panchatantra.
Rumi became a mystic, a dervish or mendicant. He preached that love was the only true path. He went on to establish the Mevlevi order of the Whirling Dervishes who realise God through dance and music. He came to be known as Mevlana or teacher, which is how he is remembered in Turkey. The place where he lived, preached, danced and wrote came to be known as "Mevlana city".
Rumi's tomb
Rumi was laid to rest beside his father in a rose garden, and a splendid shrine, the Yeºil Türbe or "Green Tomb" was constructed. The mausoleum is topped by a conical dome of turquoise tiles, which glitters and is visible from miles away. The entrance is through a beautiful courtyard in which stands an ornate fountain used for ablutions.
After removing my shoes I entered a vestibule, earlier reserved for the teachers of the Quran. Rumi's sarcophagus is the largest and lies directly under the blue dome. The actual tomb is underneath. At the head of the sarcophagus stands a headdress signifying his authority over the other dervishes who lie buried here. His son was also buried near him and later some famous dervishes.
The mausoleum is furnished in richly emblazoned silks and satins, thick hand-woven woollen carpets adorn the grounds, and verses from the Quran and Rumi's works are inscribed in beautiful Arabic calligraphy. Thick velvet shrouds with verses from the Quran embroidered in heavy zari cover the sarcophaguses. Heavy crystal chandeliers, the central one gifted by Sultan Selim I, bathe the chambers in a warm glow.
Suleiman the Magnificient, who held the Mevlevi Order in high esteem, gifted the semahane or dance hall, which stands beside the mausoleum. It has now been converted into Mevlana museum, which displays some of his personal relics like his Quran, his robes, verses from his various works, prayer beads, some musical instruments.
There are also antique prayer carpets, as well as relics of the Prophet Mohamed. On the right of the mausoleum stands a small Dervish museum, with mannequins dressed as dervishes.
His message
Iranians, who account for most of the foreign pilgrims, too claim Rumi as their own, because of his Persian antecedents. It is said that men of different religions followed Rumi's bier after his death on December 16,1273 — known as Shabe-aruz or Night of the Union (with the Divine).
The week of Shaberuz is celebrated each year when a Mevlana festival is held, bringing thousands of Sufis from around the world. Rumi wrote some 770 years ago, but his message that "Love's nationality is separate from all other religions" and so God "regard(s) not the outside and the words, I regard the inside and the state of the heart" remains relevant even today, perhaps the very balm that an anguished Middle East now needs the most.
Konya is a far cry from the glitter and glamour of Istanbul or Ankara. Though there are modern buildings and broad clean roads, the city has a medieval flavour. Narrow winding streets branch away from the main road; kebabs are roasted on open fires on sidewalks flanked by shops selling all kinds of souvenirs and religious ware. Because of Mevlana, Konya is essentially a pilgrim city.
City's other sights
The other sights the city offers are mostly mosques or seminaries turned museums. The Allaettin Mosque, built in 1221 for Sultan Alaeddin Kaykubad I, is splendid with its maze of columns, a finely painted 12th century old mihrab (prayer niche) and an exquisitely carved wooden minbar (pulpit for sermons).
The Karatay Musuem, which was actually a Seljuk seminary, has an interesting marble entrance and a wonderful collection of ceramic tiles.
The Sahib I Ata Mosque is a piece of fine Seljuk architecture and there are many other elegantly designed mosques and shrines, including one which is said to be that of Rumi's beloved Shams.
There is no Turkish city without a hammam (bath) and the historic Court Hammam, situated halfway between Mevlana Museum and Alaettin Mosque offers an invigorating massage and wash.
Konya is also the best place in Turkey to buy rugs and carpets in, as most of those sold in the bazaars and showrooms of the bigger cities are produced here. Shops here are mostly owned by families producing these carpets and it is common to see relatives sitting weaving in the shops. It is possible to take lessons in carpet weaving here.
The dervish is the city's unofficial mascot and figurines are sold in the numerous shops and kiosks lining the streets. Every second hotel or restaurant is named Dervis or Mevlana. Konya after all is Mevlana city and this is reflected in its people.
Take Nasser for instance. Simply because I buy a few rugs from him, he assumes that it is his duty to drop me to the bus station, a good 10 km away from the city on a freezing night.
Ask a passerby for directions and you find yourself invited for tea or lunch or dinner, depending on the time of day. Order a Turkish coffee in one of the cafes tucked away in those bylanes and you will be served a sandwich too, free of cost.
Later I acquainted myself with the other famous Rumi legacy — the dance or sema of the Whirling Dervishes. The dervishes lived simple lives dedicated to the love of God and humanity. They sometimes, though not always, lived in cloisters in monasteries known as tekkes, but were not celibates. There are a number of Dervish orders in the world today, of which the Mevlevi order is but one.
The whirling dervish
The Mevlevi dervishes reach out to the Divine through ritual dancing called Sema, or whirling. It is based on the philosophy that everything in life revolves. The dance symbolises a spiritual journey towards the highest truth.
The sema that day was a special one. Two little dervishes, aged 10, had recently been initiated into the order and were performing their first sema ceremony.
The sheikh stood at the head. Twenty-five dervishes performed the sema. They advanced separately, removing their black cloaks, which symbolised earthly bondage. The white robes and headdress worn by them symbolised the shroud and tombstone of the human ego.
They held their arms cross-wise over their chests to symbolise their unity with God. Thus, the dervishes were born to the spiritual truth.
The ceremony began with a eulogy to the Prophets, praise to God who had created them all. Then came the drumbeat, a call to the dervishes to be conscious of themselves, followed by the call of the ney or reed flute, which symbolised the first breath of life. The dervishes then kissed the sheikh's hand, seeking permission to enter the sema.
First, the dancers or semazens bowed to each other honouring the spirit within. Slowly, as they started whirling their arms unfolded, the right hand opened to the skies to receive God's beneficence and the left hand turned towards the earth to convey the blessing received. Their gaze rested on the left hand.
They whirled from right to left in four sessions, or selams. White apparitions, they glided by effortlessly, transporting us into another world. During the selam the sheikh entered the circling dervishes, assuming the place of the sun in the centre of the circling planets.
The Sema ended with a reading from the Quran and prayers for the repose of the souls of the Prophets and the faithful. I understood then that this was probably Rumi's greatest legacy — the reason why UNESCO is celebrating 2007, which marks eight centuries since his birth in 1207, as the Year of Rumi.

Sunday, January 6, 2008



Iconoclasm and religious persecution of faiths alien to the king’s faith has been a norm said one of my Marxist friends. He didn’t stop there. He went on to name various Hindu, Naga, Buddhist & Huna kings [Kalhana’s Rajatarangi(The River of Kings)] in the Pre-Islamic period who had resorted to iconoclasm and religious persecution of faiths other than theirs. As if this wasn’t enough he went on to announce that Islam in Kashmir had spread through examples set by missionaries and religious divines and not military expansions. Obviously for this he did not have any credible historical evidence but then isn’t spreading lies about India’s past one of the favourite pastimes of Marxist Historians, Romila Thapar included.
Ordinarily I would have ignored such a statement had it been made by some sly shadow of Mao but since this came from someone whose knowledge of history and art is highly respected by his followers, it was time to call his bluff. While no-one can argue that Kashmir has not seen sporadic cases of Iconoclasm (even in the pre-Islamic era) we cannot but observe that such cases have been exceptions or aberrations rather than an instrument for subjugation of followers of a different faith. Compare that to the Islamic period and we have whole lot of historical evidence to suggest that persecution (in the Salatin era) of non-muslim subjects happened at a large scale which resulted in 6 exoduses of the Hindu community from the valley. There is evidence also to support that whichever of the two Islamic sects (Shia’s or Sunni’s) was in power subjugated the other but meted out special torment on non-muslim subjects.
While it is true that Kashmir did not have armies of Arabs or Persians (although Zulchu did march in with his armies in Kashmir but the purpose was to loot and not conquer land or convert its inhabitants. I am saying this despite the fact that he took thousands of Kashmiri men and women as slaves all of whom perished in a snow storm at Devasar in Anantanag) marching into its land but as far as conversions due to examples set by missionaries and Dervishes are concerned, it is mere hogwash to a great extent. How Islam was spread is clear from the next part of this column. You will see how Hindus were converted by brute force and how atrocities were inflicted by the Osama’s of those days.
I once again re-affirm that while a miniscule percentage of Hindu,Hun(like Mihirkula),Buddhists (like Jaluka) rulers did destroy temples and some destroyed Buddhist Viharas too(of course not Shankarvarman)the reasons for the same were not religious expansion or bigotry.Unlike Muslim kings they did not think that they have a holy aim of converting Darul-Harb to Darul-Islam.The aim was not to subjugate or make people change their religion or faith but anything else.Most of the Muslim rulers destroyed temples thinking that they were doing a righteous act and were promoting Shariah by eliminating infidels(Kafir’s).Many thought that they were emulating the Prophet(SAW) little realizing the difference that what Prophet Mohammed (PBH) had done while destroying the idols at Kabba(a pagan place of worship then and a mosque now) was destroying idolatory and not idols.Iconoclasm in Kashmir was endorsed by the Amirs of the day(whether general Muslims supported it or not can be a matter of debate much like whether majority Hindus supported or condemned the barbaric destruction of Babri Mosque or whether Iconoclasm, in present day Kashmir has the mandate of the Muslims of the Valley or not).There are examples galore to prove this point.In order to put this in perspective I am giving some references. From Bahristan-i-Shahi
“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.”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. [99] 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 .[99]
In fact the transmitter of (God's) grace (Mir Shams 'Iraqi) conferred favours upon the righteous Malik Musa Raina and gave him blessings which enabled him to fulfill that cherished task. Indeed, fortunate is one who has been able to become the recipient of such special consideration at the hands of a highly venerable and elderly person like him (Amir Shamsu'd-Din). After Sultan Sikandar-God's peace be upon him-no one among the Muslims who wielded authority over this country rendered as much service to Islam by its propagation and advancement as Malik Musa Raina did. Nobody was able to make as organized an effort as he did towards the advancement and furtherence of the Muhammadan religion
Please look at how the kings viewed their acts.One thought he would get peace by destroying temples.Sultan Sikander has been defined as religious minded and justice loving by the historians of the day while in no case has Kalhana supported or even condoned breaking of religious places.He heaped scorn on kings who resorted to this.Now that’s the difference. While Muslim Kings, their Amirs and even most Muslim Historians thought that the King was indulging in act of religious righteousness, kings belonging to other faiths had no such grandiose megalomania of reaching heaven (where houris would await them) by resorting to such acts. It makes an important reading into the mindset of the Muslim rulers.They clearly saw a holy purpose of converting “people of false faiths” like Hindus,Buddhists,Jainas and other heterodox religions to the only “true religion”.In their understanding of Islam they were doing great acts and their Amirs and most Historians of that period(especially the foreign historians who came with them ) supported this sickness unlike Kalhana who outrightly condemned these acts. Read the Last line of my reference from the Bharistan-i-Shahi
Nobody was able to make as organized an effort as he did towards the advancement and furtherence of the Muhammadan religion.
Here we are.The purpose is clear “Advancement and Furtherance of the Mohammedan Religion”.
Tarikh-i-Hasan Khuihami 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.) Other Sources for Sikander Butshikan alone
This is what historians (mostly Muslims) have to say.
"He [Sikandar] prohibited all types of frugal games. Nobody dared to commit acts which were prohibited by the Sharia. The Sultăn was constantly busy in annihilating the infidels and destroyed most of the temples..." (Haidar Malik Chădurăh: Tărîkh-i-Kashmîr; edited and translated into English by Razia Bano, Delhi, 1991, p. 55.)
"[He] strove to destroy the idols and temples of the infidels. He got demolished the famous temple of Mahădeva at Bahrăre. The temple was dug out of its foundation and the hole (that remained) reached the water table. Another temple at Jagdar was also demolished… Răjă Alamădat had got a big temple constructed at Sinpur. (...) The temple was destroyed [by Sikandar]." (Khwăjah Nizămu’d- Dîn Ahmad bin Muhammad Muqîm al-Harbî: Tabqăt-i-Akbarî translated by B. De, Calcutta, 1973)
"Sikander burnt all books the same way 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 Ra-jtarangini). This I am giving more for its poetic value rather than what it says.

Also please do pay attention to the following

"At the behest of Shams Iraqi, Musa Raina had ordered 1500 to 2000 infidels to be brought to his door-steps every day by his followers. They would remove their sacred threads, administer Kalima to them, circumcise them and thrust lumps of beef into their mouths,'' mentions Tohfatul Ahbab.

Role of so-called Sufis:

While no one can deny the fact that Kashmir was greatly influenced by Sufism and has produced some great Sufi saints and mystic poets(both Hindus and Muslims),we must stay clear of attaching a Sufi tag to every Muslim Godman.On one hand we have the great Sufi Tradition of Nund Rishi,Shams Faqir,Ahmed batwario,Rahim Saab,Swoch Kral,Prakesh Ram Kurigami,Govind Kaul,Ahmed Dar, on the other we have self styled god-men like Bul Bul Shah and Syed Ali Hamdani on whom this label of Sufi is stuck to make them more palatable to the larger masses.
Syed Ali Hamdani or Shah-I Hamdan as he is popularly called by Kashmiri Muslims is widely regarded as the man responsible for conversion of Kashmiris to Islam.As we already know that the Shah-i-Hamadan mosque was built after demolishing a Kali temple(and there are enough historical records to prove that, apart from the fact that to this day Pandits perform prayers alongside the converted structure).Now that itself should restrain our Marxist historians from making “religious divines” claim.
That not-withstanding I would like to inform the readers that before Shah-i-Hamadan left Kashmir he ordered the king to impose the following sanctions on Non-Muslims.I am enumerating them for your reading please.

1) The Hindus will not construct any new temples under the rule of Muslims.
2) They will not repair old temples fallen into ruins.
3) They will respect Muslims.
4) They will not dress like Muslims.
5) They will not ride a horse with saddle & bridle
6) They will not put on a ring.
7) They will not carry swords or bows & arrows.
8) They will not adopt Muslim names
9) They will not harbour spies or act as spies
10) If any relation of their’s wants to embrace Islam, they will not oppose it.
11) If a Muslim comes to attend a Hindu meeting he will be respectfully received.
12) They will receive Muslim travelers into their houses & provide them hospitality.
13) They will not prevent Muslim travelers from staying in their temples & shrines.
14) They will not mourn their dead loudly.
15) They will not buy Muslim slaves.
16) They will not build houses in neighbourhood of Muslims.
17) They will not sell intoxicating drinks.
18) They will not carry their dead near the grave-yards of Muslims.
19) They will not openly practice their customs & usages among Muslims.
20) They will not give up their traditional dress so that they can be distinguished from Muslims.
In the end the fiat in the form of an advice dictated if any Hindu dares to flout any of conditions, he should be first looted and then possession of his body is halal(Zakhiratul- Muluk).

(Source:Dr.Qayoom Rafiquee’s doctoral thesis titled”Sufism in Kashmir”)

In case this is not enough proof for anybody’s flight of fancy which makes him believe that Islam spread peacefully here are some examples from the same thesis.If this isn’t persecution in the name of religion then I wonder what is.

Writes Dr. Qayoom Rafiquee, “Mir Mohammad was not ready to give the status of Zimmis to the Hindus of Kashmir and treated them as kafirs who were not obedient to Islam, but were at war with it”.

Sufism in Kashmir, P-101

Again to quote Rafiquee, ‘the medieval Muslim sources inform us emphatically that infidelity was uprooted from Kashmir through the influence of Mir Mohammad’.

Sufism in Kashmir 101.
And sadly some of us have the cheek to say Islam in Kashmir spread through divinity and personal example of missionaries.This should put to rest any imaginative thought processes of Islam spreading in Kashmir through “divine incarnation of Dervishes and examples set by missionaries”.If someone still wants to stick to his point then I hope the same divinity that dawned on our forefathers in Kashmir dawns on him too.
Harsha (1089-1111) ruled Kashmir and is probably one king who Kalhana has painted despicably. Why I wish to discuss this king is because he has been pulled out of the historical wilderness time and again by the Marxist historians. This one example is used as a counterweight the huge historical evidence that we have to support religious persecution and Iconoclasm by hundreds of muslim rulers all over south Asia and not just Kashmir alone.It seems as if just because Harsha did what Muslim rulers followed as a matter of policy and an instrument of abuse we are to condone their acts. Let us first see what different historians have to say about him.
Romila Thapar and Harbans Mukhiya-Lies and Un-substantiated Claims
Let us examine what Romila Thapar,A L Basham and Mukhiya have to say about iconoclasm by Hindu kings in Kashmir in their various articles.Views of Romila Thapar(whose knowledge and erudition of Sanskrit has always been a question mark) and Mukhiya whose Marxist leftist credentials have never been under question.So we kind of know which side of their bread is buttered.We will try and understand what Basham says about “Harsha the Iconoclast”.I am leaving Mukhiya alone but if need be ,we will discuss his understanding of Harsha as well.I will also like the forum to read through this piece of extremely unbiased work by an American Student. Puzzling Dimensions and Theoretical Knots in my Graduate School Research By Yvette Claire Rosser, M.A., Ph.D.
A few days later I met with Professor Romila Thapar and told her Prof. Mukhia had told me that she could provide information substantiate the hypothesis that Hindu rulers in the past had regularly destroyed temples in neighboring kingdoms. She said that she had not written anything but that Richard Eaton, an American scholar had recently written about this phenomenon in the introduction of his latest book.
A few months later in the December 9 and 16 editions of Frontline published by the Leftist leaning editor N. Ram of The Hindu newspaper Dr. Eaton did publish a long article in two parts that discussed in detail the destruction and desecration of various temples during the Medieval Period. In his article, Eaton attempted to prove the assertion made by Dr. Mukhia's and his colleagues. However it was argued, Eaton failed to understand the difference in scale and magnitude between the few times Hindus raided the temples of other kings, and the much more wide spread and architecturally devastating attacks from Muslim armies.
I spoke with Professors Thapar and Mukhia and told them that I had heard about Harsha in Kashmir, recounted by the poet Kalhana in the 'Rajtarangini'. Harsha destroyed some temples and viharas, but most scholars consider Harsha's actions as exceptions to the usual practice. I pointed out that all of the literature indicates that Harsha was definitely only looting the temples for gold and riches, not desecrating them for ideological reasons. Though the result is the same, the temples were attacked, the intent and the scale of the destruction was very different. I also mentioned that there seems to have been one or two instances in Rajasthan and Gujarat where competing Maharajas raided temples in the neighboring kingdom and stole a murti (consecrated statue) which was considered to be endowed with powerful attributes. Then, bringing it back to his own kingdom, the king erected a new and more fabulous temple for the murti. This type of vandalism is a very different case, the murti was removed as a trophy not as an unholy thing to be desecrated. In the accounts that I had heard, the king who had looted the temple of his adversary did not throw the captured statue in the roadway or bury it into the staircase of a religious structure in his kingdom to be trod upon, but, interestingly, he built an even grander temple and had it installed with fanfare. Though the actions may have similarities, the motivations were very different.
I also suggested that these types of attacks on temples were not representative of usual practice, but in fact were very much the exception to the rule. Even after reading the Eaton article, I was not impressed by the meager evidence. Though the article very few verifiable examples offered to substantiate this often-repeated claim that Hindus were just a guilty as Muslims for breaking statues and destroying temples. I told suggested to several Leftist scholars in Indian that they should stop using that tact about the Hindus destroying temples, because hardly anyone in India really believes them. The evidence that Hindus were equally culpable for the destruction of temples and viharas, similar to the large scale destruction of Hindu temples by the various Muslim dynasties is simply untenable. Though the Marxist historians in India use the case of King Harsh in Kashmir, it is a rare historical exception, certainly not proof of a legacy of Hindu-driven carnage. Yet the historians who make these claims have failed to uncover any real evidence to substantiate their theory of Hindu aggression.
Let us move on to see what an independent Belgian Indologist Keonraad Elst has to say about claims made by Romila Thapar about Harsh’s iconoclasm.Thapar’s claims seem to have found favour with Our Marxist friend for they fall in line with his pre-determined understanding of Kalhana.
Kalhana's first-hand testimony:
Now, let us look into the historical references cited by Romila Thapar. Of Banabhatta's Harshacharita, concerning Harsha of Kanauj (r.606-647), I have no copy available here, so I will keep that for another paper. Meanwhile, I have been able to consult both the Sanskrit original and the English translation of Kalhana's Rajatarangini, and that source provides a clinching testimony.
Harsha or Harshadeva of Kashmir (r.1089-1111) has been called the "Nero of Kashmir", and this "because of his cruelty" (S.B. Bhattacherje: Encyclopaedia of Indian Events and Dates, Sterling Publ., Delhi 1995, p.A-20). He is described by Kalhana as having looted and desecrated most Hindu and Buddhist temples in Kashmir, partly through an office which he had created, viz. the "officer for despoiling god-temples". The general data on 11th-century Kashmir already militate against treating him as a typical Hindu king who did on purely Hindu grounds what Muslim kings also did, viz. to destroy the places of worship of rival religions. For, Kashmir had already been occupied by Masud Ghaznavi, son of Mahmud, in 1034, and Turkish troops were a permanent presence as mercenaries to the king.
Harsha was a fellow-traveller: not yet a full convert to Islam (he still ate pork, as per Rajatarangini 7:1149), but quite adapted to the Islamic ways, for "he ever fostered with money the Turks, who were his centurions" (7:1149). There was nothing Hindu about his iconoclasm, which targeted Hindu temples, as if a Muslim king were to demolish mosques rather than temples. All temples in his kingdom except four (enumerated in 7:1096-1098, two of them Buddhist) were damaged. This behaviour was so un-Hindu and so characteristically Islamic that Kalhana reports: "In the village, the town or in Srinagara there was not one temple which was not despoiled by the Turk king Harsha." (7:1095)
So there you have it: "the Turk king Harsha". Far from representing a separate Hindu tradition of iconoclasm, Harsha of Kashmir was a somewhat peculiar (viz. fellow-traveller) representative of the Islamic tradition of iconoclasm. Like Mahmud Ghaznavi and Aurangzeb, he despoiled and looted Hindu shrines, not non-Hindu ones. Influenced by the Muslims in his employ, he behaved like a Muslim.
And this is said explicitly in the text which Romila Thapar cites as proving the existence of Hindu iconoclasm. If she herself has read it at all, she must be knowing that it doesn't support the claim she is making. Either she has just been bluffing, writing lies about Kalhana's testimony in the hope that her readers would be too inert to check the source. Or she simply hasn't read Kalhana's text in the first place. Either way, she has been caught in the act of making false claims about Kalhana's testimony even while denouncing others for not having checked with Kalhana.

Thankfully I did get to read Basham’s article titled”Harsha of Kashmir and the Iconoclast Ascetics”
Basham writes and I quote”The dissolute king Harsha or Harshadeva(AD 1089-1101),when in financial straits,was advised by his evil counseller Lotsdhara to restore his fortunes by looting the temples and melting down the images of the gods”
It is evident from the sentence that it was financial problems (due to various vices) that prompted him to resort to doing what he did.
Although Basham contradicts himself later in the same article by saying that the motive could not be financial alone but he attributes it to King enjoying acts of heresy.He even contradicts Aurel Stein’s explanation that King had been under the influence of turuska’s or (Muslims or outsiders) who in this case happened to be Muslims.Even if we accept his explanation, there is nothing to prove that he destroyed temples to promote his faith or ideology (Hinduism) while the contrary can be proved by the following verse from Kalhana’s Rajatarangni Book 7 verse 1095
"In the village, the town or in Srinagara there was not one temple which was not despoiled by the Turk king Harsha."
Kalhana calling him a turk (which was a synonym for Muslim/outsider/foreigner in Kalhana’s vocabulary.At many places Kalhana uses the term turuska’s to describe Muslims.We will discuss the word Turuska in detail when we analyse Our Marxist friend’s references to Rajatarangni.
Although I do not completely agree with either Basham or Keonard Elst,the reasons for which are the following.
1.Koenard Elst has got it wrong that Kashmir was conquered by Masud of Ghaznvi in 1034.There are no direct/indirect references or credible sources of history to prove that fact.I agree with Our Marxist friend when he says that Islamic rule was still some two centuries away.
2.Basham’s assertion that we should look to Ajivikas as Harsh’s source of his iconoclasm also seems to be a far fetched argument.Our Marxist friend himself concludes his argument by stating the following”Basham’s argument,albeit speculative,is less reliant on conjecture than the automatic identification of Turuska with Muslim that bedevils the other efforts to wrestle with the complexity of his reign that I have referred to above”
Irrespective of the arguments set forth by Romila Thapar,Basham,Elst and others it is conclusively proved in case of Harsha that although he did destroy temples and Viharas both but the reason was not to promote Hinduism or to subjugate Buddhism.What however can be argued is that he may be doing at the behest of whom Kalhana calls Turks(outsiders/foreigners who were Muslims in this case) what later Muslim kings and Destroy the very root of Hinduism in Sarada Desha.

Pre-Islamic Iconoclasm-References from Rajatarngani

Let us now move to the third part of Our Marxist friend’s observations where he has written in detail about the kings who burnt temples,destroyed Viharas etc etc.Although I have read both R.S.Pandit’s translation of Rajatarangni as well as Aurel Stein’s translation( complete with notes and his travels to many places mentioned by Kalhan)the notes that I had made on both (as a Class XI student,I and my father traveled to a lot of places which Kalhana mentions in Rajatarngni) were burnt when my house was razed to ground by terrorists(sorry divinely ordained dervishes and missionaries) on the Janam Asthami of 1990.I will refer to Aurel Stein’s translation and footnotes since in my opinion he presents a more detailed account of Kalhana’s Kashmir. Another reason for me to refer to his translation and footnotes is that R S Pandit was no historian of any repute, whatsoever, while Aurel Stein’s extensive work leaves little to imagination. Thus wherever he could he has closed loops so that half-baked historians don’t go on an imagination hunt and derive their own meanings.
(I apologize for not being in a position to use diacritical marks.)
Let us look at each king mentioned by Our Marxist friend
1.Jalauka:This King finds mention in Taranga 1,verses 108-152.,Vol 1,page 26.Aurel Stein’s translation.
While it is true that he did destroy one Vihara(and not many Buddhist Shrines as Our Marxist friend imagines and later tells us) the reason for the same as mentioned in Rajatatarangni is that he was disturbed while sleeping because of the music emanating from the said Vihara.It clearly is no religious zeal that drove him to do this act.
This can be easily understood the following(Tarnaga 1,140-144)page 26 Book 1,Volume 1, Aurel Stein’s Translation:
“When you had lately been kept from sleep by the noise of the music of the Vihara,you had at the instigation of wicked persons caused in your anger the destruction of the Vihara.The excited Bauddhas thought of me and sent me forth to kill you.But then the Boddhisattvas called me and gave me the following directions:’That great king is a Sakya(Mahasakya).You cannot hurt him;but in his presence,O good one,you will obtain liberation from darkness(sin).In our name you shall exhort him who has been ed into guilt by wicked people,to give up his hoarded gold and to build a Vihara.If he does so,no misfortune shall befall him in consequence of the destruction of the Vihara,and atonement shall thus be made for him and his instigators.”
The king repents for the sin he committed in a fit of anger and later builds the Vihara and names it after the divine sorceress.The same can be easily verified by the following Taranga 1,147,page 26,Vol 1 of Aurel Stein’s translation
“Thereupon the king built the Krtyasarama Vihara,and worshipped there the divine sorceress who had been freed from darkness”
So Our Marxist friend’s assertion that”Jalauka’s destruction of Buddhist shrines” is but an incorrect statement.There is only one Vihara in question and not many shrines.Probably in order to prove his point my friend is very liberal in the use of alphabet (s).One may also be tempted to ask if Jalauka was himself a Buddhist,he being the son of Ashoka.
Notwithstanding his religious leanings we learn from Rajatarangi that he did destroy 1(one) Vihara for which he later repented by building a Vihara.
Now here I ask my Marxist friends to name one Muslim ruler in Kashmir who repented for his acts of Iconoclasm and re-build temples.
2.Abhimanyu-1.This king finds mention in Taranga 1,verses 174-184,Vol1 page 31-33,Aurel Stein translation.
We straight away go to the verses which my Marxist friends mention as his proof of Iconoclasm and religious persecution by Abhimanyu 1.These are 177-181.
I don’t even deem it worth discussing what can be best be defined as their’s figament of imagination.Yet for purpose of clarity I discuss it.The important verse is verse 181 of Taranga 1,page 33,Vol1 of Stein’s translation.This is how it reads
“At that time there manifested itself some miraculous power through which the Brahmans,who offered oblations and sacrifices,escaped destruction while the Bauddhas perished”
From this verse our friend presumes that Brahmans killed or persecuted Buddhists.He supports this what R.S.Pandit in his footnote to the verses 180-181 says”this (snow that killed the Buddhists) is PERHAPS a poetic description of the persecution of Buddhists during this era.”
One is tempted to ask what is the source on the basis of which R.S.Pandit presumes his PERHAPS. R.S.Pandit being a person of shallow knowledge of history can be pardoned for his ignorance but when someone like our own Marxist friend (who I greatly regard for his scholarship) uses this as an example of Iconoclasm or Persecution,it is but sad.We could have agreed with RS Pandit,if anything in the Rajatarangi had mentioned Abhimanyu 1, as an unjust ,licentious,communal or ill mannered moanarch.But that is not the case.
Not only this,while Aurel Stein makes a detailed foot note of the verse 180,he doesn’t even bother to write a word about 181 since to any intelligent reader it is more than self explanatory.
3.Nara:This king finds mention in Taranaga 1,verses 197-275,Vol 1,page 34-41 of Aurel Stein’s translation.
My friend’s explanation of the verses 199-200 of Taranaga 1,are more or less correct.While Stein mentions the woman in question as the king’s wife R.S.Pandit mentions her as king’s lover.Whichever be the case the Buddhist monk does seduce the king’s wife through magical powers.
Enraged by this the king does destroy thousands of Viharas.The reason for destruction of Viharas is clear and needs no explanation.Though an unpardonable sin,clearly religious zeal or conversion or selective persecution is certainly not mentioned.
4.Mihirkula:This king finds mention in Taranga 1,verses 289-324,page 43-48,Vol1,Aurel Stein’s translation.
My Marxist friend writes”Here we enter the terrain of strictly historical account of iconoclasm in Kashmir”
He refers to verses 289-293 of Taranga 1.Now let see what is said in them
I re-write Stein’s translation for the benefit of the readers and for an easy explanation later.
289-293”Then his son Mihirkula,a man of violent acts and resembling Kala(Death),ruled in the land which was overrun by hordes of Mlecchas.In him the northern region brought forth ,as it were,another god of death,bent in rivalry to surpass the southern region which has the Yama(as its guardian).The people knew his approach by noticing the vultures,crows and other birds which were flying ahead eager to feed on those who were being slain within his armies’ reach.This royal Vitala was day and night surrounded by thousands of murdered human beings,even in his pleasure-houses.This terrible enemy of mankind had no pity for children,no compassion for women,no respect for the aged.”
From the above I could not find out anything that would indicate to me that he killed Buddhists alone or burnt their Viharas only and not Hindu Temples.If anyone else can,I would be more than willing to be corrected.However as Our Marxist friend mentions that R.S.Pandit in his foot note says”Huns carried out terrible persecution of Buddhism,destroying Stupas and Viharas and massacring the monks.Although the Huns were hostile to Buddhism,they protected Saivism and their kings built temples in honour of Shiva”
I started looking at the other verses that Kalhana writes for this cruel king.Surprisingly the word Buddhist or Vihara or Stupa simply does not find a mention in the verses which have described Mihirkula’s despotic regime.So the question of him destroying them simply does not arise unless in someone’s imagination.It is possible that other Huna rulers might have done what RS Pandit writes as his footnote.Even that seems improbable,because if any such references would have been there over zealous Marxists would have found them.
As far as building temples Kalahana says in Verse 306,Taranga 1 Vol1,page 46 the following”Thus,evil-minded as he was,he founded at Srinagari the (shrine of Shiva) Mihireshwara,and in Holada the large town called Mihirpura”
I hope building a Shiva temple is no proof of Iconoclasm.
As for giving Agraharas,Our Marxist friend himself acknowledges that he gave it to Brahmanas born in the Gandhara country at Vijayeshwara.What is notable is the scorn that Kalhana heaps on these foreign Brahmanas for accepting Agraharas from this wretched king.This is how Stein translates this verse.
Ref verse 307,Taranga 1,Vol1,page 46,
Brahmanas from Gandhara,resembling himself in their habits and verily themselves the lowest of the twice-born,accepted Agraharas from him”
So our Marxist friends’ assertion”Here we enter the terrain of strictly historical account of iconoclasm in Kashmir” falls flat for want of credible historical proof.
5.Jayapida:This king finds mention in Taranga 4,Verses 402-659,page 158-180,Vol 1,Aurel Stein’s translation.
This is one king who Kashmiri Pandits need no mention of.Almost all of us in our hour of vanity refer to the miraculous powers of our forefathers the curse of who led to Jayapida’s painful end.We often take re-course to our past and foolishly so.
What our friend observed with respect to Jayapida is true and just goes on to prove my point that the reasons for Icocnoclasm or persecution by non-muslim kings of Kashmir could have been anything but religious expansion or promotion of their own faith.That greed was the motive for his persecution of his subjects can be easily testified by this verse
Ref verse 628,Taranaga 4,page 177,Vol1,Stein’s Translation
“In his persistent greed he went so far in cruelty,that for three years he took the (whole) harvest,including the cultivator’s share”
6.Ksemagupta:This king finds mention in Taranga 6,verses 150 to187,page 247 to 250,Vol 1,Aurel Stein’s translation.
My Marxist friend refers to Ksemagupta’s iconoclasm by his act of burning down of holy Jayendra Vihara and subsequent errection of temples.Let us ourselves read what Kalhana says about this incident
Ref:171-173 verses,Taranga 6,page 248,Vol1,Stein’s translation.
“In order to kill the Damara Samgrama,who when attacked by the assassins,had enetered the famous Jayendravihara,he(Ksemagupta) had the latter burnt down without mercy.Taking from this Vihara,which was entirely burned down,the brass of the image of Sugata(Buddha), and collecting a mass of stones from decaying temples,he erected the (temple of Siva) Ksemagaurisvara in a market street of the city,thinking foolishly that the foundation of the shrine would perpetuate his fame”
Now,the motive for burning the Vihara is known to us as is the foolish reason for erecting a temple.The king proves himself to be a wicked soul but to attribute the reasons of religious bigotry for the destruction would be taking the argument too far. The argument that he used material from the Vihara to build the temple is fallacious because Stein’s translation itself is clear when it reads”and collecting a mass of stones from decaying temples”Even the Sanskrit verse reads”Devagrah” which means temple.Kalhana uses the word “Chaityas or Viharas” to describe Buddhist places of worship ,although a Chaitya is the place of worship while a Vihara is a monastry in which Chaityas were generally situated.
7. Harsha:This king finds mention in Taranga 7 and Kalahana has written extensively on this king.Ref Taranga 7,verses 829 to 333 to 402 of Volume 1,Aurel Stein’s translation.
We have already looked at the views of various historians and analysed their writings with respect to Harsha”the Iconoclast”However the discussion would be incomplete unless we refer to what Kalhana writes about this wretched king.We will also see the impact of the word “Turuska” which has baffled historians.
There can be no difference of opinion as far as his title of Iconoclast goes.
Let us try and understand the reasons for his Iconoclasm based on Kalhanas description.This is what Aurel Stein writes in “Harsha’s temple de-spoliation”
Ref Introduction Chap 5,sec 5,page 113,Volume 1 of Aurel Stein’s translation.
“Extravagant expenditure on the troops and senseless indulgence in costly pleasures involved Harsa in grave financial troubles.From these he endeavoured to free himself by ruthless spoliation of sacred shrines.Kalhana relates with some humour how the incidental discovery of the treasures hoarded at the temple of King Bhima Sahi had turned the king’s attention to this method of replenishing his ex-chequer.After the temple treasuries had been ransacked,Harsa proceeded to the still more revolutionary measure of confiscating divine images in order to possess himself of the valuable metal of which they were made.Kalhana records the strange fact that as a preliminary step the sacred images were systematically defiled through outcast mendicants.As Kalhana is particular to specify the few metal statues of gods throughout Kashmir which escaped Harsha’s clutches,we cannot doubt the extent of Harsha’s iconoclasm.Can the latter have been instigated or encouraged somehow by the steady advance of Muhammadanism in the neighbouring terrorities?Kalahana,when relating these shameful confiscations,gives to Harsha the epithet”Turuska”,ie Muhammadean,and later on makes a reference to Turuska captains being employed in his army and enjoying his favour.”
From the above it almost seems clear that Harsa was greatly influenced by Muhammedeans and is likely to have committed these acts of Iconoclasm under their influence if not at their behest.From the way he went on to destroy and defile almost all icons, without bias either in favour of Hindus or Buddhists draws a parallel to Muslim rulers who did the same.Harsa made no difference when it came to defiling Buddhist and Hindu images makes us believe that he was purely an iconoclast and the philosophy of Iconoclasm where every image deserves to be destroyed is a concept rooted in one Semitic religion alone.
Let us also look at the word Turuska and its connotations with regard to Kalhana’s Rajatarngni.In all there are 19 references to the word Turuska in Rajatarangni.There is one reference to Yavan in Rajatarangni.There are 14 references to the word Mlecchas in Rajatarngni.
I agree with Our Marxist friend that words like Yavan,Turuska and Mleccha were used interchangeably to describe foreigners/outsiders/Muslims by Kalhana.That Kalhana uses the word “Turuska” to describe kings like Husha,Jushka and Kanishka cannot be refuted.We however need to study the word “Turuska” in the context of how Kalhana uses it for Harsa.We also need to see how Stein understands this word.For the benefit of the readers I give below all the references to the word in Rajatarangni.
Refer:Index Vol 2 page no 546 of Aurel Stein’s translation.
Turks,their habits iv .179;kings Huska,Juska,Kanishka called Turuskas I,170,viii 3412;enemies of Lalliya Sahi v 152;soldiers of Hammira(Mahumud), vii 51,56,70,118;sell slave girls,520;mercenaries supported by Harsa,1149;Harsa fears attack from Turuskas,1159;Muhammadean allies of Bhiksacrara,viii 885,886,919,923;northern allies of Dards,2843;invaders of the Punjab,3346;artist from Turuska Country vii.528;Harsa called Turuska i.e.Muhammadean,1095.
We need to look at the Turuska reference with regard to Harsa to understand whether it was “Mohammadean” that Kalhana meant by Turushka.As far as Stein is concerned he seems to be in no doubt whatsoever.This can be safely understood by the last of the references given above and given again for easy reference.( Harsa called Turuska i.e.Muhammadean,1095,vii).
As for other references except for one where Kalhana uses Turuska to describe Huska,Juska and Kanishaka all other references clearly point out that Kalhana uses Turuska as a synonym of Mohammedean..
Still let us look at some specific references
Invaders of Panjab,viii,3346,page 261,Vol 2,Aurel Stein’s translation……Prince Sangiya,the younger brother of Kamaliya,consecrated (a linga) under his own name.He was born from a race of Ksattriyas,who owing to their native place being within the territory of the Turuskas had learned nothing but cruelty……
Here Stein in his footnote writes..K refers to the condition of the Panjab after the Muhammadean conquest.
Soldiers of Hammira(Mahmud),vii 51,56,70,118, Vol 1,pages 270-276,Aurel Stein’s translation
These verses make for an interesting reading because they describe the Muhhamdean conflict with the Hindu-Shahi dynasty.In this rather detailed footnotes of the verses 47-69 Stein writes”There is no doubt that Kalhana’s narrative ,vii 47-69,relates to one of the campaigns which Mahmud of Ghazna directed against Trilochanpala and his allies.The identity of our account with Mahmud has been recognized by REINAUD,lc.Already before him Thomas(J.R.A.S,ix p.190sq)had shown the derivation of this term from the Arabic tittle Amiru-l-mumenin,and its application on coins and elsewhere to Ghaznavid Sultan.Reinaud has also rightly pointed out that the expression Turuska used for Trilochanpala’s opponents ,vii 51,56, is particularly appropriate for Mahmud’s army,which chiefly consisted of soldiers of Turkish origin.”
Documentary evidence heavily supports the fact that Harsa was greatly under the influence of his employed Muslim commanders.From the available references it can also be safely understood that in the context of Harsha Kalhana uses the word Turuska to refer to Muslims alone.
From the above one can conclude that though Harsa’s iconoclasm had its origins in greed and later in enjoyment of heresy and corruption resulting from power the effect of his Muslim friends can simply not be ruled out.In my opinion he was the first of the kings who started the process which was to be later followed by other”Turuska” kings.
As is said “Coming events cast their shadows before’The catastrophe that was to hit Kashmiris later had its shadow in Harsha”the turuska”.
Sankarvarman:This king finds mention in the Taranga 5 verses 128-227 page 202-216,Volume 1,Aurel Stein’s translation.
My Marxist friend gives us this verse from Taranga 5 as a proof of Sankaravarman’s destruction of Buddhist Viharas.Let us read the verse no 161 of taranga 5.R.S.Pandit’s translation pg 207.
“Thus the ruler,who possessed but little character,had whatever was of value at Parihaspura,carried off in order to raise the fame of his own city”
Aurel Stein’s translation of this verse reads like a copy of Pandit’s translation.Let us read that 207,Vol1,Aurel Stein’s translation.
“Thus this ruler,who possessed but little character,had whatever was of value at Parihaspura,carried off in order to raise the fame of his city”
Two inferences can be drawn after reading the above verse.
1.Kalhana considers the king as bereft of any character.
2.He took away things from Parihaspura to raise the fame of his city.
In order to understand whether this was an act of destroying Viharas alone,we need to know which buildings existed at Parihaspura in the first place.Was Parihaspura a city of Buddhist Viharas alone? Was Parihaspura a city where Buddhist Viharas outnumbered Hindu temples?Did Shankaravarman destroy Parihaspura?Are there any direct/indirect references in the verse mentioned above which would indicate Shankarvarman destroying Viharas?
All these questions need to be answered before finding out whether Sankarvarman destroyed any Viharas at all or if he did so how many to be precise and which ones.So let us go back to Rajatarangi and read Taranaga 4,verses 194-209,Vol 1 page142-143 of Aurel Stein’s translation.
Parihaspura drew its name from Parihaskesava(Lord Vishnu) the image of who was the first installation at Parihaspura.If one reads through all the verses that I have referred to above it would not be hard to know that except for two images of Buddha(including the famous Brhdbuddha image) all other installations were those of Hindu gods and goddesses mainly Vishnu. So Our Marxist friend’s derivation (from verse 161 of Taranga 5)that stealing of material of any worth from Parihaspura is equal to destruction of Viharas holds no water.If at all he did destroy Parihaspura,Kalhana would have mentioned this in great detail for Parihaspura was no pushover as a city.It was built by the tallest Kashmiri King ever.Kalhana himself describes it as town” that mocked the residence of Indra” .How could a historian of Kalhanas repute have erred in mentioning its destruction at the hands of Shankarvarman and forgiven Samkaravarman for destruction of a city like Parihaspura. Marxist attempts to communalize Samkarvarman don’t seem to work.Let us also note that Kalhana says “Sankarvarman took away anything of value”No way does he write or even gives an indication that Sankarvarman destroyed the city,leave alone Viharas.
I request my friend to come up with more plausible explanations than the one he has given.It is good to read between lines.That is how history should be read but imagining is different from reading between the lines.
Let us look at the other verses that that our friend has mentioned about Sankarvarman.
I am in total agreement with him that Sankarvarman destroyed temples and like Harsha ,he too had officers who supervised the same.I had in no case argued that Sankarvarman was a just king who did not persecute his subjects neither had I argued that he did not destroy temples.All I had said was Kalhana nowhere mentions that Sankarvarman destroyed Viharas the credible evidence for which, I have already given.That he destroyed temples and collected share of profits from them proves that Sankarvarman was a wicked and a greedy king but that he destroyed Viharas is simply preposterous.
No direct or indirect reference is given either by Kalhana or later by Stein which would indicate that he selectively persecuted Buddhists or other sects who were social outcasts.
Let us now look at Agam-adambara which our friend presents as a proof of his argument that non-vedic people were prosecuted by Shankarvarman.I salute this great master of history who outrightly rejects Jonaraja,Shuka,Srivara and Prajabhatta as not being credible historians yet he presents a poet as a source of history.It just goes on to show what ridiculous lengths some of us can sometimes go to prove our point.Agam-adambara is a play and hence not in any way a source of credible historical evidence.While plays,stories,poetry written in a certain era do indicate the social,cultural and other facets of that era we cannot use them as credible historical evidences.We cannot use ” Haroun and the Sea of Stories” a thousand years from now as a historical source to understand a particular event of history.In the same manner Agamadambara may provide us an outline of the time of Sankarvarman,but to use it as a source of history would only be a mistake.
But since my friend had read it and wanted to quote from it as a proof of his hard work and knowledge of Sanskrit we may as well look at this also.I present an essay written by Dr.Ved Kumari Ghai,who is considered an authority on Kashmir’s Sanskrit Literature has written an essay on “Agamadmabara” in her book titled”Kashmir ka Sanskrit Sahitya ko Yogdhaan”published by J&K Academy of Art,Culture and Languages,Jammu
ref page no 30-35
She refers to the third act of the play.This is what she says” p 32
“Teesre Ank main Tantrik Shaiv Sadhak Kankalaketu tatha Shamshanabhuti bhaybheet hain ki Shankarvarman aur uska mantra Jayant,aadveik matavlambiyon ko desh se bahar nikalne par tule hain.Unki yojna yeh hai ki Yogeshwari Kalangi Shika ke madhyam se Maharani Sughanda par prabhav daalkar iss nishkasan ko rukvaya jayen.Tabhi dondi sunayee padti hai ki Sankarshana aur Maharaj Sankarvarman kee Aagya anusaar jagat pravah se chale aa rahe nana agam anuyayi apne apni kriyaen karte huyean rajya main rahe parantu prastut dharmo main vighan daalne wale tap se vimukh papi logon ko raja sankarvarman samapt kar denge.Bahut se sadhu dar kar rajya se bhagne lagte hain.Sankarshan svyam shaiva ashram me jaa kar shaivmata anuyyayeon ki branti door karta hai tatha rajya se bhagte huve logon ko lautane ko vyakti bhejta hai”
The above very clearly shows how the kings representative himself stops mendicants belonging in my opinion to Laukilisa or Pashupat Cult , from leaving the country.
In the fourth act of the play kings wife Sughanda calls for a congregation of saints of various schools of philosophy and to our surprise even Carvakas join the assembly.In the end of the discussions the chairman Bhatt Sahat concludes by saying the following,in the words of Ved Kumai ”Jaise kisi nagar ya mahal main pravesh karne ke ichuk alag alag dwaron se pravesh kar sakte hain usee prakar moksh ke ichhuk sadhak bhi moksh ki praapti ki liye alag alag marg apna sakte hain”ref p 34,
Now my dear friend where is the question of selective persecution.
Although I have put forth my comments on Adam-agambara I still don’t consider this as a historical source though it can be a reflection of the times of Shankarvarman.Poets/playwrights have poetic license and use it liberally.They use Alamkaras and Atishouktis to add spice to their works.So to use or even suggest using them to verify a certain historical event is committing historical hara-kiri.
Anangpala:Taranga 7,verse 147;This person was not a Kashmiri , nor a king or a king who ruled Kashmir. That he was related to King Ananata was his only connection to Kashmir.It is like a nephew of Rahul Gandhi coming from Italy and then doing something which is out of sync with our culture.Can I take this an example of Rahul Gandhi being a non-conformist or less-Indian or something of that sort. Giving examples of Prince of Kabul for proving Hindu Iconoclasm in Kashmir shows that Our Marxist friend had to work really hard to find examples to justify his argument.
Summary:Kalhana records Kashmir’s history for a total of 3339 years.There are 147 kings who find mention in Rajatarangni.Out of these our learned friend (after a lot of hard work and digging,even muck raking)could find only seven kings (as per his analysis) who he believes to have committed acts of Iconoclasm and persecution.He does not go into the motives for the same except in case of Harsha where he defends his citadel that Harsha wasn’t really so-much under Islamic influence to have committed acts of iconoclasm against Hindu and Buddhist icons as Muslim rulers later did.
Let us assume(playing Marxist Historian’s advocate) all seven of the kings including Anangpala(an Afghan prince) did commit acts of iconoclasm wouldn’t it be more of an exception/aberration rather than a rule.Although I have conclusively proved on the basis of written evidence that not more than 4 kings in an entire span of 3339 years have resorted to such acts.This is not to say that Hindu kings were any better than Muslim kings in terms of governance/administration ,justice delivery system or persecution of their subjects.Not even one Pre-Islamic king has been found to have resorted to selective persecution on the basis of faith.
Now compare this with the kings in the Islamic period of approximately 450 years one can count on ones fingers the kings (Zainul-abidin,Akbar,Hassan Shah,Jehangir,Shah-Jehan)who did not resort to large scale persecution on the basis of religion & iconoclasm.That Shia’s or Sunnies also subjugated each other is but a proof of religious intolerance within Islam’s different sub-sects.A detailed account of the same has already been provided in the earlier chapter titled”Motives Behind Iconoclasm-The Muslim Kings”.In the end of this rather dry and scholastic paper I am giving references to Jia Lal Kilam’s “A history of Kashmiri Pandits”
Birabar Dhar as a representative of Kashmiris (both Hindus as well as Muslims) had gone to Sikhs to seek their help to free Kashmir from the clutches of the Afghan rulers.When Afghans came to know of this they took his daughter away to Afghanistan and his wife consumed a diamond so as to escape their cruel hawks.
Eventually the Afghans were defeated.The Sikhs wanted to bring down the Shah-i-Hamdan mosque(which as you know was built after breaking a Kali temple)but Birbar Dhar requested them not to do so.This I gave as an example of how a Kashmiri Pandit tried to save his nation(Kashmir) from the clutches of the ruthless Afghan kings.This also is an example of the religious tolerance shown by Pandits who despite being brutally subjugated by Afghan kings did not resort to religious bigotry despite the fact that they knew that the mosque was a built on a Hindu Temple.
This was to make a point that unless Kashmiris acknowledge the role of all those (irrespective of their religion) who fought for its sovereignty and freedom the minorities would never feel or be a part of that movement.
I am giving below from the same book references to show the kind of atrocities which were inflicted by most Muslim rulers (with a few exceptions) on the non-Muslims.This is not to say that Muslim people participated in these orgies of death and destruction.Even among the mayhem that was let loose by these cruel kings on their subjects especially non-muslims there are instances when Hindus supported Muslims and vice-versa.Please be kind to read the following references from the books.
JLK:Jia Lal Kilam
1. pp 24-25,JLK,cross ref:Pir Hassan Shah,Vol1,p 495
Zul-chu ordered a massacre.Thousands were killed,more were sold as slaves to Tartar merchants…………….Zul-chu or Durl-chu took about 50,000 brahmans with him as slaves.
2.pp 30---,JLK,
The king in order to break the upheaval amongst the Hindus, turned his attention towards their temples which must have provided a meeting place for them.Hassan the Kashmiri historian says that almost all the temples in Srinagar including the one at Bijbehara were greatly damaged.
3.p 30,JLK
The methods adopted by Sikander in this behalf may well be given in the words of Hassan.After having described the great homage paid by Sikander to Mir Muhammad Hamdani,at whose bidding he constructed a khankah,known as Khankaha-i-Maula,on the site of an old temple called Kali Shri,Hassan says”this country possessed from the times of Hindu Rajas many temples which were like the wonders of the world.Their workmanship was so fine and delicate that one found himself bewildered at their sight.Sikander goaded by feelings of bigotry destroyed them and leveled them with the earth and with their material built many mosques and khankahs.In the first instance he turned his attention towards the Martand temple built by Rama Deva on Mattan Karewa.For one full year he tried to demolish it but failed.At last in sheer dismay he dug out stones from its base and having stored enough wood in their place set fire to it.The gold gilt paintings on its walls were totally destroyed and the walls surrounding its premises were demolished.Its ruins even now strike wonder in men’d minds.At Bijbehara three hundered temples including the famous Vijeyshwara temple which was partially damaged by Shahab-ud-din were destroyed and with the material of the latter a mosque was built on its site a khankah which is even now known as Vijayeshwar mosque”
4.p 31-32,JLK,cross reference Pir Hassan Shah,Vol 1,p 180
Gruesome conversion of Hindus,their conversion,burning of six maunds of sacred thread,see how many brahmans embraced death rather than convert.Books thrown into Dal.
5.p 33,JLK, cross reference JC Dutt pp 65-66,Pir Hassan Shah,Vol II p 186
6.p 34,JLK,cross reference Sufi,G.M.D Kashir Vol 1,p 89
7.p 36.JLK,cross reference Dutt,JC pp 67-68
8.p 49JLK, “During Haider Shah’s reign Pandits suffered immensely”
9.p 50,JLK,cross reference,Pir Hassan Shah,Vol 2,p 20
10.p 50,JLK,cross reference ,Dutt JC,p 188
11.p 50,JLK,cross reference ,Dutt JC,pp 195,196.
12.p 57,JLK,cross reference ,Dutt JC,p 261.
13.p 62,JLK, cross reference ,pandits being targeted
14.p 62,JLK, cross reference ,Fauq,History of Kashmir
15.p 62,JLK, cross reference ,Fauq,History of Kashmir
16.p 65,JLK,cross refernce,Dutt,JC,p 348
17.p 66,JLK, cross reference,Dutt JC,p 353-54
18.p 67,JLK,cross reference,Pir Hassan Shah Vol II,pp 273-74
19.p 69,JLK, cross reference,Pir Hassan Shah,Vol II p 332
20.pp 89-90,JLK cross reference,Fauq,History of Kashmir,p 91.
21.p –90-91,JLK,Muhatta Khan’s looting,killing and maiming of Hindus,Burning of Houses and other atrocities…. cross reference…Fauq ,History of Kashmir
22.p92,JLK, cross reference,Pahalwan Ananad Ram,History of Kashmir
23.p 109,JLK, a popular verse describing the condition
24.p 123,JLK, cross reference,Fauq,History of Kashmir
25.p 125,JLK, cross reference,Fauq ,History of Kashmir
26.p 125,JLK, cross reference,Anand Ram Pahalwan,History of Kashmir
27.p 126,JLK, cross reference,Pir Hassan Shah,Vol-II p 669
28.p 126,JLK,cross reference,Kachru Birbar,History of Kashmir
29.p 131,JLK, cross reference,Pir Hassan Shah, Vol II,p 673
30.p 131,JLK, cross reference,Pahalwan Ananad Ram,History of Kashmir
31.p 134,JLK,read about Haji Karim Dad and his atrocities on Pandits.
32.p 135,JLK, cross reference,Pir Hassan Shah,Vol II p 684
33.p 135,JLK,a supplement to Narayan Kaul’s History of Kashmir by Anand Ram Pahalwan.
34.p 135,JLK, cross reference,Pir Hassan Shah Vol II p 684.
35.p 141,JLK, cross reference,Fauq,History of Kashmir.
36.p 142,JLK, Azad Khan’s appetite for Pandit blood.
37.p 149,JLK, cross reference ,Pir Hassan Shah,Vol II,p 696.
38.p 153,JLK, cross reference,Pir Hassan Shah,Vol II,p 701.
39.p 154,JLK, cross reference,Pir Hassan Shah,Vol II,pp 699,701
40.p 154,JLK, cross reference,Kachru Birbar, A History of Kashmir
41.p 154,JLK, cross reference,Pir Hassan Shah,Vol II p 701,
42.p 154,JLK, cross reference,Pir Hassan Shah,Vol II p 701.
43.p 155,JLK, cross reference,Pir Hassan Shah,Vol II,p 701.
44.p 155,JLK, cross reference,Fauq,History of Kashmir, also Kachru Birbar,A History of Kashmir.
45.p 166,JLK, cross reference,Pir Hassan Shah,Vol II,p 732.
46.p 166,JLK, cross reference, Pir Hassan Shah,Vol II,p 732.
47.p 173,JLK, cross reference ,Fauq,History of Kashmir
48.174,JLK, cross reference ,Tarikh-1-Awam-i-Kashmir.
49,p 177,JLK, cross reference, Pir Hassan Shah,Vol II,p 748
These references stated above should serve as an eye opener to Marxist Historians who try and compare Iconoclasm and Religious Persecution in pre-Islamic era to that of Islamic era.
I have never stated that the Kashmiri Pandit is timeless victim but at the same time can any one refute the evidences (mostly by Muslim Historians) which stand as a testimony to how barbaric foreign rulers(the progeny of whom today seek independence in Kashmir) resorted to brutalities against the native populace of Kashmir.How they left no stone un-turned to convert all of us to the only “true religion”.In all this I pay glorious tributes to kings like Zainaul abidin,Akbar and Shah-Jehan who ruled Kashmir without bias.
While there is no doubt that Islam does not alone have a monopoly of religious intolerance,in case of Kashmir most of the Muslim rulers were bigots,extremely intolerant and conversion or subjugation topped their agenda.We cannot but miss the fact that in pre-Islamic Kashmir (for which we have written History) of around 3500 years we have 4 instances,OK 7 instances of iconoclasm(to keep Our Marxist friend happy) and none of religious persecution at the hands of kings(Hindus,Hunas,Buddhists,Nagas,Kushans) while as in the 450 odd years of Islamic rule we have more than 100 such instances( most recorded by a sizeable number of foreign Muslim Historians with pride).

Rashneek Kher

Dead End

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