Shri Shri Jagatamba Maha Ragnya Asthapan is situated about 20 kilometers West of Srinagar in Badgam Distt. of Jammu & Kashmir state. It is situated on the bank of Shali Ganga which forms a garland around the huge shila of Jagatamba. It is believed that Jagatamba resides at Raithan in the form of a single huge huge shila (rock) covering about 1800 square feet area and has volume of about 27,000 cubic feet above the ground. The front of this revered shila is in the form of a huge door believed to be entrance to Swarg.
It has reference in literature and as the legend goes: Bhagwan Mahadev created Lanka for Jagatabma to live there. For the greh pravesh ceremony, Mahadev invited Ravana as brahmin for performing the greh pravesh puja. After Ravana performed the puja Mahdev asked Ravana to ask for any dakshina for this puja. Ravana realized this was a golden opportunity and demanded entire Lanka along with all the devis and devtas who had assembled there to attend the ceremony. Bhagwan Mahadev willingly fulfilled his demand. As the legend goes, when Bhagwan Rama attacked Lanka, Ravana was told that so long as Jagatamba is in his custody, no one on the earth can defeat him not even Lord Rama himself. So Ravana asked his eldest son Meghnath to take Jagatamba away from Lanka. since Meghnath’s wife Salochna belonged to Karnah, Kairan, J&K, he brought Her to this place and hence the name Ragnya Sathan, now called Raithan. From Raithan Jagatamba moved to Kher Bhawani and it is believed that Ragnya Mata resides in Raithan throughout the year and visits Tulmul on special occasions. From the mountains The Ganga still flows at the feet of the Holy Shila. The Shila of Jagatamba is beautifully surrounded by holy Ganga which runs around the Shila as a garland around the neck of the Lordess. Few centuries ago it is believed there was a huge temple of Jagatamba at this shrine. About 25 years back when the holy spring (Nag) was discovered and construction work was going on at the site a large number of statues of Hindu gods and goddesses were recovered by the Archaeological Survey of India. The existence of huge decorated Devri stones within the premises of the shrine is witness to the existence of a huge ancient temple here. This Holy Nag still exists and we can see crystal clear water in the spring.
For centuries this shrine was a revered place for all the Hindus of this region. Devotees would assemble on most religious occasions and perform puja and havans. On the occasion of Zestha Astmi the annual Maha Yagnya was being performed and devotees from every part of the state would participate in large numbers. Last such Yagnya was performed in the year 1989 and since then for last 20 years this shrine has remained unattended yet as pure, pious and revered as ever. With the blessings of Jagatamba and by devoting some of our time and money this effort is intended to bring back the glory of this pious and revered shrine. Even the local non-hindu communities respect and regard this holy shrine as is even evident from the support we have been getting even now from them as ever.
It was in summer (July) of 1982 that I visited the enchanting high altitude lake of Konsarnag. A decade and a half later when I drifted into the field of folkloristics and history I ‘discovered’ that in my trek to this beautiful lake I had accomplished the pilgrimage to the historic Naubandhana Tirtha. Konsarnag, over 2 miles long and located at an altitude of 12,000 ft, has been worshipped since times immemorial as Visnupad (foot of Visnu). In Nilmat Times it was called by its Sanskrit name Kramasaras or Kramsara (Kramafootstep, Saras lake). Since it is supposed to mark the footstep of Visnu, it is the main objective of the Naubandhana pilgrimage.
VisnuPad Legend: Konsarnag lake is one of the two places in Kashmir Valley that is associated with worship of ‘Visnupad’. The other shrine of ‘Visupad’ is located in the foothills of Pir Panjal at Fatehpur, in Dooru-Shahbad tehsil, not much away from Verinag (Nilkunda) Spring. Fatehpur shrine housesas per local folklore, footprints of Visnu on a stone. In the Vedic literature (Rigvedic verse I22.17) mentions three steps of Visnu. According to Sakapuni, Visnu placed his steps in a 3-fold manner, on the earth (as fire) in the atmosphere (as the lightening) and in the sky as the sun. Visnu is chiefly extolled for his three strides with which he traversed the world. The Mahabharata speaks of him as the presiding deity of motion. The Natyashastra of Bharata applies to him the epithet amitagata, one with unrestrained movement and the earth is often described as having been trodden by Visnu in the past. In the epic-purana period a few holy spots were supposed to bear the markings of the feet of Visnu, whose main attribute is his power of striding. Scholar BM Baru explains Visnupada as an astronomical term, when the sun is on the rising point (Samarohana) and setting (Gayasiras). Stories about a hill bearing the footprints of Visnu were current in the days of Yaska. Visnusmriti mentions Visnupada alongwith Godavari, Gomati, Vipasa etc. besides Gaya. An important aspect of Gaya pilgrimage (where a person can perform his own sraddha), is visit to Visnupada temple (bearing foot-prints of Visnu). This temple existed in 4th Century AD, but the temple in its present condition belongs to Gupta period. However, Buchanan draws our attention to an inscription that says the temple was constructed by King Jayasimha (1128-49 AD) of Kashmir in honour of the footprints of deity Dattatreya (a form of Visnu). The epics refer to a Visnupada situated in the north. Mahabharat a carries as many as six references to it, three of which speak of it as a spot on the top of a northern hill. Historian Suvira Jaiswal says, “At present we cannot determine its exact location, it appears to have been in the north”. Popularity of worship of Visnupada in Kashmir is certainly due to sway of Buddhism in the region. Jaiswal argues,” the practice of dedicating the footprints of Visnu and of erecting shrines over them became popular certainly due to the Buddhist influence. It was later adopted by Vaisnavism in which Visnu’s foot was already much exalted. But it was not popular among Vaisnavas, as dearth of available evidence indicates”.
Dessication of Satisar Legend: Kashmir’s religious tradition locates on the peaks in the vicinity of Konsarnag lake the seat from which Visnu, Siva and Brahma fought the water demon Jalodbhave and dessicated Satisaras. The western most and the highest peak (15523 ft) is said to have been the site of Naubandhana tirtha. In the Kashmir version of the deluge Visnu in his Matsya (fish) avtara had bound to this peak the Nau (ship into which Parvati/Sati had converted herself) to save the seeds of beings from destruction. Konsarnag lake lies at the foot of this peak and to the northwest of it.
Nilmat Story: As per the legend narrated by Nilmat Mahatmya, at the end of Manvantra (one of the 71 Caturyugas) all the movable/immovable creations of the earth were destroyed completely, sparing of course the mountains. The whole of Jambudvipa was effaced, the earth turned into a sea. After the destruction Lord Mahadeva stayed all around the world in the form of water. At that time, the Goddess Sati assumed the form of a boat. The future Manu, through magical power, placed all the seeds in that boat. Visnu in Matsya form dragged off that boat by means of his horn, fastened it to the top of a mountain and left for an unknown place. This mountain peak came to be called Naubandhana peak-holy and destroyer of all sins and fears. The goddess Sati in boat form becomes the earth and on that earth comes into being a lake of clear water, Satidesa, 6 Yojanas long and half of that in breadth, enjoyable, heart-enrapturing and the sporting place of the gods. Indra was sporting once on the bank of Konsarnag, accompanied and his wife Saci. Daitya Chief Sangrha, who was exceedingly difficult of being conquered came there while Indra was sporting. He was aroused by Saci and wanted to carry her away. This angered Indra. In the fight between Indra and Sangraha that lasted a year, the Daitya Chief was killed and Indra ascended to heaven. However, just before his death, Sangraha discharged his semen into the lake. A child was born in the waters out of the semen of the evil-minded Daitya Chief.As he was born in the water, the child came to be called Jalodbhava (demon-child). Due to compassion, the Nagas led by their chief Nila brought up that child in the waters. Having propitiated the God Pitamaha with penance, Jalodbhava obtained from him a triple boon, viz. immortality in the water, magical power and unparalled prowess. The Daitya chief devoured all the human beings who lived in various regions near the lake. The people fled away from Kashmir due to fear. At that time Kashyapa was on a pilgrimage of Kashmir to visit the holy spots. Nila went to meet Kashypa at a place called Kanakhala. On his visit to holy Visnupada, Nila pleaded before Kashypa,” Now that imprudent fellow (Jalodbhava) who obtained boons from Brahma of imperceptible birth, ignores me like anything and I am incapable of keeping him under control due to the boon of the lord of three worlds.” Kashypa accompanied by Nila, the Lord of Nagas reached the abode of Brahma and complain to Vasudeva, Isvara, Ananta about the activities of Jalodbhava. The God Pitamaha tells Nila, the sage of unparalleled valour, “we shall go to Naubandhan a to subdue him. Then the God Kesava (Visnu) will undoubtedly kill him”. Gods mounted their respective Vahans (vehicles), Hari on Tarksya, Hara along with his wife on bull, Brahma on Swan and the two Nagas on the cloud. They went after Jalodbhava. Kashypa went by his supernatural power. Indra heard that and, in the company of the hosts of gods, went to that place where Kesava had gone. Other smaller gods also came on their respective mounts to witness the fight. Having reached Nauban-dhana, Visnu adopted a firm position. As Jalodbhava heard the sound of the retinue of the gods, knowing himself to be imperishable in the water he did not come out. The pleased Madhusudana, having learnt that the water-demon would not come out, entered Naubhandna in the company of Gods. Rudra took position on Naubhandna peak, Hari on the southern peak, Brahma on the northern peak and the gods and the asuras following them. With gods having taken up the positions, God Janardana implored Ananta to kill the demon,” Breaking forth Himalaya today with the plough,make soon this lake devoid of water”. Ananta broke forth Himalaya with the plough.When the water of the lake was disappearnig, Jalodbhava practised magic to create darkness all around. Then the God Siva, holding the sun and the moon in his hands, brought the world to light.With the vanishing of darkness, Hari through yogic powers assumed another body and fought with the demon. There was a terrible fight between Visnu and the demon with trees and peaks of mountains.Hari cut of forcibly the head of the demon and Brahma felt pleased. Brahma, Visnu and Sambhu gave their own names to the peaks of which they had taken their positions. So the peaks came to be called Brahma, Visnu and Mahesvara. That which is Naubandhana peak is Sankara. The one on its right side is celebrated as Hari and the left one as Brahma. The Gods declared, “whoever shall see you after taking bath in the lake Kramasara shall see three of us on the mountain and will go to heaven.” As per tradition even the evil-doers are freed by seeing these peaks. Different places on the peaks are worshipped as hermitages erected by Brahma, Kashypa, Mahadeva, Ananta, the sun and the moon and Hari. Mahadeva’s hermitage is located on the spot where Visnu stood and obtained victory at that time. Hari’s hermitage is celebrated as Narsimha. After the slaying of the demon, the Sudarsana wheel, intoxicated with the blood of Jalodbhava, wandered in the deserted land and was caught by Sankara. The latter handed over the discuss to Jnarndana. The latter made his abode on the head of Jalodbhava. He erected a divine image, on which both Kesava and Siva-the destroyer of all sins-are represented. Kashyapa then declared land as habitable, holy and charming. He asked Nagas to live in the company of Pisachas. When Nila, the Naga Lord reminded sage Kasypa about war-like nature and evil-doings of Pisachas, Sage Kasypa explained to him the role of Nkumbha, the noble lord of Pischas appointed by Kubera to keep Pisachas in check. The Sage Kasyapa discussed with Nila the compromise, whereby Pischas would live for six months in the Valley. Nilmat assigns two explanations for the Valley being named as Kashmir. Kasyapa played an instrumental role in reclaiming Valley land, while Balarama took out the water through the plough-wielder. Kasypa is also called Prajapati. Both Prajapati as well as water are called Ka. Source of Vyeth (Vitasta, Jehlum, Hydspes): Veshau, the ancient Visoka, which later on turns into Vitasta, receives streams coming from the northern slope of the Pir Panjal range between Sedau and Banihal passes. Its traditional source is placed in the Kramasaras or Konsarnag. This is the third aspect of veneration for this lake. Visoka, means griefless (free from pain). Traveller GT Vigne crudely describes it as meaning as river of Visnu. Nilmat describes Visoka as Uma. Later, after worshipping Lakshmi to purify Kashmir Veshan was glorified as Visoka. The fine waterfall which is formed by the stream of Konsarnag, not far from the village of Sedau, is known as Ahrbal. In Nilmat times it was called Akhor bila, ‘the mouse-hole’. Aharbal is its present name. Abul Fazl, a minister at Emperor Akbar’s court,in his ‘The AINI Akbari’ describes Veshau as “the name of a stream which issues picturesquely from an orifice in a mountain and at the same place is a declivity down which the waters tumble from a height of 20 yards with a thundering roar”. Abul Fazl (16th century) and GT vigne (1834) have documented sanctity of Aharbal. Abul Fazl writes,” Hindu devotees throw themselves down from its summit and with utmost fortitude sacrifice their lives, in the belief that it is a means of securing their spiritual welfare”. GT Vigne says, “Arabul (Aharbal) is a place of peculiar sanctity with the Hindus and as such, is frequently visited by them, though perhaps less now than formerly, before the prosperity of the Valley was on the wane, and the precipice overhanging its flood has been upon several occasions the last resting place for the feet of the Hindu suicide.” Little is known about how Kramasaras lake came to be called Konsarnag. Since this lake is also the abode of the Naga Kaundinya, the place became famous by the name Kaundinyasara. There is strong probability that Kaun(dinya)sara over a period of time came to be called as Kons’rNag. GT vigne, however, attributes the change of nomenclature to Islamic influence. He says,” As…it is pronounced Kauser Nag it may be inferred that the Musalmans have, on account of its extent and height, given it the name of Kaunser, or Kautser, one of the rivers of paradise, whose waters, whiter than milk or more odoriferous than musk, roll into the fish-pool, a month’s journey in circumference, and by which the righteous are refreshed after passing the bridge of Al Sirat”. Interestingly, Vigne describes the lake as Kosah Nag. There is also a village named Konsarbal below Nandimarg. The spring in this village is also called Konsarbal. Kashmiri Pandits and Gujar/Bakarwals hold the lake in great veneration. As per folklore of Kashmiris Pandits of village Avil, which forms one of the base camps for trek to Konsarnag, the lake Visnupad has its four toes (signifying 4 rivers) towards Punjab and heel towards Kashmir (one river). How such an important pilgrimage was abandoned by Kashmiri Pandits over the past few centuries remains unclear. Gujar/Bakarwals of Rajouri usually come with their flock of cattle in the last week of May, when the entire region is covered with a thick blanket of snow. They camp on the banks of the lake in stone shelters and usually slaughter a sheep. Its head is thrown into the lake and the roasted meats on stone plates is served to people. If the head sinks, only then they move ahead. There are three versions of Naubandhana Mahatmya (43, 85, 86, Stein Collection). As per Naubandhana Mahatmya, the pilgrimage used to take place on Bhadon Shuklapaksha Ekadashi. It asks the pilgrims to do Tarpan in the lake to get rid of sins. On the day of Dadshi one has to take bath at Sangam and conduct tarpan for Saints/Pityrs and offer gifts. Then pilgrims have darsana of peaks, which as per belief assure a place in heaven. Performing sraddha is considered quite good because as per mahatmya, God is present here. Journey: Naubhandana Tirtha is located in Kulgam tehsil. One can reach Konsarnag lake by either of the two routes-Avil or via Aharbal. Avil (old name, Awal) was in olden times ruled by a Kotraj (local chief), who controlled the territory from Damhal Hanjipora to Aharbal. Discovery of ancient pottery, pitchers, pestels etc in the area indicates that the region had human settlement from very early times. As per local lore, the flourishing town of Awal vanished following a devastating earthquake. An old Persian inscription on a grave reveals that Shah Behram ruled Awal during late medieval period. Prior to migration, the village had 25 Pandit families. Except for one family all are Rainas. The grandfather of Mansa Ram Raina, who hailed from Rainawari, had come to Avil during later half of Afghan rule. Sahaz Ram Raina, who lived in 19th century was a an ascetic of great merit. There is a small spring named Thaal Nagin in Avil’s Pandit mohalla. During old times, as per a legendary account, plates (Thalis) would come out of spring whenever any request was made. The water of Thalnagin is ice-cold in summer and warm in winter. Avil to Konsarnag: A gradual ascent through a forest for over an hour leads to Naribal, the last inhabited village, where Gujjars live. The village is also called Naribal Nagin due to the presence of a small spring. Water collected here is then resupplied to Avil village by PHE department. After climbing some distance one reaches AalascharMar. Pilgrims/Trekkers do not take rest here. It is said if a person stops here he won’t be able to go ahead then. People while passing through this place usually deposit a stick or a wooden piece for safe journey onwards. While descending down from Alachmar to the other side there are two tracks. The track on the right side leads to Chirun Bul. The elevated plain is called Astan Marg. The encounter between Sikhs and Pathans took place here in 1819. The Chirunbul meadow is one km. long. Kashmiri shepherds are seen here. After walking some distance, Chirunbul nullah (Vigne’s Shurji-Murg river) is crossed on a seasonal log bridge. Gradual ascent for 3 kms through forests leads to Manzipal (Henna stone). There used to be a seasonal watermill and a shop, run by a Pandit family. There are two big memorial stones here-Danyagon (Paddy heap) and Makaigon (Maize heap). Locals as usual attribute these stones to Pandavs. There is also a small spring here named Pari Nagin, the fairy spring. Locals do not venture to visit this area in late evenings and claim that fairies descend to sing in late hours. It is an uphill journey for another two hours through the forest to reach an alpine sloppy meadow called Lahanpathri. Lot of Kashmiri shepherds are seen here in summer months. One can stay for the night at Lahanpathri and avail the hospitality of shepherds or return to Manzipal base camp. Indersar : Indersar lake is 2 kms from Lahanpathri. God Indra who figures in Konsarnag mythology is associated with this lake. Unlike Ksirsar and Brahmsar, this lake finds no mention in Nilmat or Naubandhana mahatmya. Lake is circular in shape, about 1 km in circumference. Since the mountain peaks are little away, pilgrims can easily do circumambulation of the lake. Lake water is warm as sunlight falls regularly on this lake. How the water from Indersar escapes is not known. Apparently there is no outlet. From Indersar one has to come back to Lahanpathri and then gradually descend through a tree-less area. Chittinadi, coming from Ksirsar lake is crossed over a logbridge and at times one can simply wade through the gushing stream. After crossing Chittinadi, there is gradual ascent along the base of the peaks to Ksirsar. The distance is over 4 kms.
Ksirsar: Ksirsar is spread over thirty kanals. Though circular in shape, it has numerous podia-like elongations. The lake has a clear outlet for water. Its water is milky-white. Since the peaks are too close, no circumambulation of the lake is possible. It is said that there is a big memorial stone of cow. Water oozing out from the glaciers on the peaks falls on the cow and then comes out through teats into the lake. The lake has a clear outlet for its waters. Ksirsar finds mention in Nilmat and Naubhandana mahatmya. The latter describes Ksirsar as resembling a full-moon of Purnima, with its water looking like Ksir. It refers to Upmanu’s asrama here. As per Naubhandna Mahatmya, the lake was created by Sankara himself and one reaches Shivlok by taking bath in it. Nilmat says,” one attains heaven and saves one’s family by seeing the sacrificial place of Brahma there. By seeing there the beautiful Ksirsara, one is released from sins. By bathing on the dark 14th after reaching the source of the Samara (? Chittinadi), one is freed from all the sins and is honoured in the world of Rudra”. Naubhandana Mahtmaya says Upmanu’s asrama is situated in the forest around Ksirsar. Bath in Brahmsar lake, as per Naubhandna mahatmya, has the merit of getting access to Brahmlok. For Brahmsar lake base camp is Hakwas. It can be approached from Lahanpather, Manzipal or Chiryun Bal. The route to Hakwas from Lahanpather and Manzipal is through a dense forest called Hapatnar. It is 4 hours easy journey from Lahanpathri to Hakwas.Frmo Avil to Hakwas it is 17 kms. Hakwas is a big meadow, almost equalling lovely meadow of Kongwattan. Above Hakwas is another meadow, known to the people of the area as Gokul Marg, the meadow of Lord Krishna. A nullah hakwas nullah’ flows around Hakwas.
Brahmsar: While going from Chiryunbal to Hakwas, a bridge is crossed near Hera (upper) Chiryun bal. Then one has to climb gradually a distance of 8 kms (3 hrs), at places over old snow, to reach Brahmsar Lake. Kashmiri shepherds have their camps here in summer. Peaks are quite close to the lake. with little sunshine falling on it. Lake is covered on three sides and its water looks black due to the shadow of the peaks falling on it. Ice-flakes are also seen floating on the lake. The lake has a fearful look. Since the peaks are too close, there is strong echo. People get a feel of hearing ‘heavenly’ sounds. These sounds are attributed to aboriginal prehistoric people-Nagas, Pisachas and Kinnaras. The water of the lake comes out through a regular outlet. Pilgrims desirous of taking bath do not venture to go into the lake. They take out water for bath from the lake at its outlet. Brahmsar lake is spread over 15 kanals. The path from Brahmsar to Konsarnag is via Ksirsar and Indersar and is quite tough. It takes two hours. Only shepherds and Bakarwals take this route. Brahmsar stream is the first to join Hakwas nullah. At this spot is a bridge. Then the latter is joined first by Ksirsar nullah and later Indersar stream near Hera Chiryunbal. Subsequently, the Kaundinya stream (Konsarnag stream) joins it at Sangam. After this, a small stream coming from Ramkansan (opposite to Kongwattan, joins it and it becomes Veshav (ancient Visoka). Near Ramkansan is a sandy meadow, Sekijan , where Galwans are seen camping. The place where Kaundinya stream is joined by other streams is called Dhaumysrama. As per Nilmat taking bath here is equal to performing Rajasuya, and Vajpeya, the merit of giving one thousand cows. Just below the sangam, as per Naubhandna mahatmya is a fearful spring called Gambhir spring, right in the middle of the stream. To propaliate it, ‘Prasad’ of stream water is prepared. Kaundinya stream is formed by the confluence of two streams, one coming from the lake (though no visible outlet is seen) and the second as per Naubhandana Mahtmaya, Kumaradara Mool Waters. It is a sacred stream and the merit of taking bath here is equal to performing Pundarika. Bath in Chittinadi of Ksirsar gives the merit (gift of) a hundred cows. Mandakini stream mentioned in Nilmat in the vicinity of Konsarnag Lake has not been identified. Veshav means devoid of pain or griefless. Nilmat (versa 1329) says, “A man becomes devoid of grief and possessed of wealth, by taking bath in the Visoka and obtains the holy mefit of (performing) Devasattra”. Aharbal to Konsarnag: It is 48 kms by road from Srinagar to Shopian and then another 13 kms to Aharbal. The latter is 28 kms from Kulgam. Avil, Damhal Hanjipora, and Manzgam are better-known villages on Shopian-Aharbal route. As already described Avil forms base camp for trek to Brahmsar, Indersar and Ksirsar lakes. There is a well-known Ganesh asthapan, named Mahabal on right bank where Danavkandi Marg nullah joins Veshau. Kashmiri Pandits of the neighbouring villages used to take turmeric-laced rice on Navreh the new year day of Kashmiri Pandits. Archeological remains seen here point towards the antiquity of the place. At Ahrabal, the river Veshau falls some 25 ft over a precipice. Vigne who visited the place in December 1834 while on way to Konsarnag writes, “In spring the rush of the water is tremendous; but the beauty of the place is not owing to its volume or the height of its fall, which does not exceed 25 feet, but to its dark, deep and precipitous sides, the thick pine forest that surrounds it and the relief that is afforded by the snows of the Pir Panjal, that rise majestically behind it.” CMs school teacher Nand Lal Bakaya, who became a legend in his lifetime for extraordinary skills in adventourous trekking, writes about Aharbal fall: “(it) is a wonderful sight, especially in the morning or at noon when the rays of the sun breaking on the spray form rainbows. The fall is best seen from the right bank”. Ahrabal to Kongawatan: The path to Kongwatan passes through forests on the right bank of river Veshau. Guruatan is 1 km away from Aharbal Galwans are seen roaming around. A bridge has to be crossed at Guruwatan for onward journey. A track here leads to Hurapur, Sedau. On the right bank of Veshau is seen a huge stone, named Pandav dul. It looks as if a big pestel has been turned upside down. Its inner side is polished. After another 4 kms we reach Sangam, where Hakwas nullah alongwith streams from other lakes joins Kaundinya stream. At Sangam the left track leads to Kongwatan, while the right road goes to Ramakansan/Sekijan. A minihydroelectric station is coming up near Sangam at a place called Chori Kholu. A wooden bridge has to be crossed at Sangam on way to Kongwatan. A leisurely walk for another 4 kms (1« hr) takes one to Kongwatan.
Kongwatan to Konsarnag :Kongwatan is one of the finest meadows surrounded by pines and firs. Mr Ghulam Nabi Gohar has immortalized this meadow, in his Kashmiri novel. There is a small Forest Rest House here. From Kongwatan we come to a place called Adangi while walking along the right bank of Veshau. A 4-km leisurely walk takes to Mahinag. There is a small spring here. It is believed that water of Konsarnag oozes out at Mahinag. Mahinag spring, spread over half a kanal, is circular in outline and has no old masonary. There used to be an old forest hut here. It was damaged by heavy snowfall and does not exist any longer. A dangerous glacier bridge has to be crossed some distance away. After crossing the bouldered bed of a river one reaches Satpukhrin. Seven small nullahas are seen here. Then there is ascent of 1000 ft to reach the pass overlooking the Konsarnag lake. Similar height is to be descended down to reach the lake. The journey takes 5 to 6 hours. Across the lake is a beautiful pass, called by Bakarwals as Konsargali. In Vigne’s time it was known by the name of Futi Panjal or the Ridge of victory. On the left the pass leads to Rajouri and Budhal via Ropri pass, while the right track goes to Gool and Riasi via Nalla Shergadi. It is just 4 hurs trek to Gool from Konsarnag. This pass remains snow bound even as late as early August.
Vigue visited Konsarnag in the beginning of December.Snow which had fallen a month before the usual time had disappeared under the rays of sun. About the exit of lake waters Vigne writes,”…on its left bank…its full strong torrent is suddenly seen gushing out from the foot of the last and lofty eminence that forms the dam on the western end of the lake, whose waters thus find an exit, not over but through the rocky barrier with which it is surrounded”. Locals believe Konsarnag to be the origin of Thanna and Rajawur river also. Height of the lake is 12,000 ft. When the water in lake is low (as in December) it does not exceed 3/4ths of a mile, while its breadth is 500 to 600 yards. The position of the lake is same as that of the Valley, north-west and south-east. The peaks which are on the eastern side care called the Koserin Kutur and are the highest in the Pir Panjal. The peaks are remarkably pointed, sides are bare and scarped. About the formation of the lake Valley, Vigne says,”…to all appearance the Valley of the lake has been formed by the forcible separation of the mountain-top. Judging from the angle at which they enter the lake, the bottom must originally have been about 200 feet in depth below the present level of water”. As per Vigne Bernier’s description of the great lake ejecting fine sands possibly refers to Konsarnag. Bernier says that icebergs are driven by the wind in the spring. When vigne visited it a thin sheet of ice had covered the lake in particular places. He says that the mountain-gusts may sometimes be rushing through the gully at the southern end of the lake, and sweep across its surface with terrific violence. Vigne also recounts the local lore about this mountain tarn. At the western end the trap-rock descends to the water in a succession of steps or benches. The three steps are claimed to be those of Raja, Vizier and his Sardars. About the veneration of local Hindus for this lake, vigne says that they occasionally pay a visit for the purpose of ablution. A local Pandit who accompanied him used to visit the lake annually for performing his ablutions. Vigne refers to an incident in which a young man was confronted by a demon/deyu while he was standing on a rock, a short distance from the rock. The demon was not allowing the young man to move. As the latter was encouraged to move, the demon “seized” and drowned him.
Sultan Zain-ul-Abdin’s visit: Sultan Zain-ul-Abdin, the benevolent monarch of Kashmir visited Konsarnag lake in 1463 AD. He was so fascinated by the lake that he constructed its replica ‘Zainasara’ within Pampore, so that every Kashmiri could have a feel of what great wonder was Konsarnag lake. Budshah (the Great King), as Sultan Zain-ul-Abdin was called by Kashmiris, visited the lake in the company of Srivara, the chronicler and Sinha bhatta and was accompanied by his two sons, Haji and Behram. In Budshah’s time Naubandhana pilgrimage was quite popular. Srivara has given graphic description of King’s visit. It took them three days to reach the lake. First he went to Vijayeswara (Bijbehara) and watched enthralling dramatic performance, to which neigthbouring chieftains too had been invited. From Vijayeswara the Sultan went on foot. Srivara recorded the visit of Budshah for posterity in these words: The Sultan possessing charming devotion on seeing the Konsarnag stamped with the image of the foot of Lord Visnu derived untold bliss by making an obeisance at the foot of Naubandhana mountain (verse 96). Having observed non-stop and plentiful streams coming down the mountain with a darkish hue of musk coloured flowers afforded immense pleasure to the tallest Sultan (likening it) to the body of Hari (Visnu) dressed as a Yogi (verse 98). The Sultan boarded a boat, lined by five boatmen and taking me (Srivara) and Sinha Bhatta, roamed in the deeps of the lake. I (Srivara) recited songs from Gita-Govinda to him and Sultan derived great aesthetic pleasure from it. While roaming in the lake, it began to snow. The Sultan made three rounds around the lake. Sultan after strolls in the lake tied his boat there true to old tradition. King kept remembering the ‘ever-young’ Konsarnag lake upto Kumara.
(The author is well known researcher on Kashmir Culture and history. He has authorred painting and theatre in Kashmir Suraj Tickoo’s Journey)
Hari Parbatsituated at the periphery of Srinagar city is an ancient and one of the holiest places of Kashmir. It is the abode of Mahashakti-the Divine Mother Jagatamba Sharika Bhagwati, also known as Maha Tripursundhari or Rajrajeshwari (locally called as harie). The eighteen armed Goddess Sharikais regarded as the Presiding Deity (Isht – Devi) of Srinagar city. The Hari Parbat (hari Parvat)Hill occupies more or less a central position in the valley, one gets amazed to see a hillock amid of valley as can be viewed from pari Mahal. The hill is surrounded by almond orchards, which make a lovely sight during April when the trees blossom, heralding the advent of spring in Kashmir.
The 12th century historian, Kalhana,in his Sanskrit chronicle, has described Hariparbat as “the epicentre of spiritualism in Kashmir”. Mahabharata and other religious scriptures refer to Hariparbat as the ‘principal’ seat (Pradhumna Peeetha) of the Goddess, worshipped locally as ‘Sharika’. The Godess Sharika is represented by a Sayambhu’ Shrichakra (Mahamaha Shrichakra), also called Mahashriyantra, which consists of circular mystic impressions and triangular patterns with a dot (bindhu) at the Centre. The mystic Shrichakra engraved on a vertical holy rock (Shila) is located at the middle of western face of Hari Parbat. The different Devtas has his/her yantra–the geometric representation. These are known as the Chakras. Shri Chakra is considered as the presiding Chakra of all the Chakras. It is revered as the Chakreshwara at hari Parbat. Chakreshwara means the Supreme Lord of all the Chakras, or the Master architect of all the Chakras, who are revered as the Svayam Bhu Sthitis–Self Existent in origin. Shree Yantra or Shree Chakra Shree Yantra is considered one of the most auspicious, important and powerful Yantras which is an instrument to attain the ultimate. In India there are 52 energy centres, but the energy centre of Hari Parbat Srinagar is considered the only of its kind in the entire universe which has a great significance in terms of attaining spiritual bliss. The word “Shree” means wealth and “Yantra” an instrument— and it makes the sense of “Instrument for Wealth”. At Hari Parbat, where the Shree Yantra is considered to be in the shape of a rock, people have craved for spiritual wealth and they attained what they wished. The whole hill of Hari Parbat seems to be the multi-dimensional figure of geometrical figure of Goddess Sharika and at the corner of the hill is this magnificent and holy rock and those who have the eye to look at it can find different geometrical images in the shape of triangles, squares and pentagons. On gets lost while gazing at this energy centre as it emits differentfigures while concentratingon it. Although most of the lines and shapes are not so visible due to the “sindoor” coated on it yet those who can see through, can identify themselves to be a part of this holy rock. This Shree Yantrahas a great significance for Hindu community. Those who have its knowledge, categorize it in two forms— Evolution Yantra of Samyachar Order of Kashmir and Involution Yantra of Koulahar order of Kashmir. There are nine folds of Shri Yantra— Outer three circles that depict the Chakraruling the three worlds; Sixteen petals depicting 16 Yoginies associated with the attainment of desires; Eight petals— depicting power of speech, holding, walking, excreting, pleasure, abandoning, concentration and detachment; Fourteen triangles describing all good fortune and associated with chief nadis or currents of bio-energy; Ten outer triangles depicting Yognies of 10 vital breaths; Inner ten triangles depicting Shakties of 10 vital fires; Eight triangles depict powers that rule cold, heat, happiness, sorrow, desire and three gunas— Sativas, Rajas and Tamas; Central Triangle depicts Chakra giving all success and Bindu depicting Maha Tripura Sundari— the ultimate. While Yantras are normally two dimensional, this Yantra is a three- dimensional and that is why it holds great spiritual importance. Story behind Hari pharbat According to the local legend, this hill was once a lake as large as a sea and was inhabited by the abominable demon known as Jalobhava. The inhabitants called on Goddess Sati, spouse of Lord Shiva for her help. She took the form of a bird and dropped a pebble on the demon’s head, which kept on increasing in size until the demon was crushed by it. Hari Parbat is revered as that pebble and it is said to have become the home for all 33 crore gods of the Hindupantheon.Another version of the myth that involves the hill, says that two demons, Tsand and Mond occupied the fair valley. Tsand conceded himself in water near the present location of Hari Parbat (Hari Parvat ) and Mond somewhere above the present Dal Gate. They were a menace to the people of the valley, which could not be inhabited owing to their dreaded presence. Thus, the gods invoked Goddess Parvati who assumed the form of a Hari (myna) and flew to Sumer from where she got a pebble in her beak and threw it on the demon Tsand to crush him. The pebble grew into a mountain. She is worshipped as Sharika in Shri Tsakra (an emblem of cosmic energy pervading the universe) occupying the middle part of the western slope of the hill. The hill is also called Predemna Peet or Kohi Maran. The inscription in Persian at the Kathi Darwaza commemorating this work can be read even today. The ruins of certain terraces can still be seen on the side of the Pokhiri Bal. The views of the Dal lake and a part of the valley from the fort are spectacular.It is believed that Hariparbat represents the abode of nine crore (90 million) manifestations of the Goddess. To worship the Supreme Godess, the devotees used to go to Hari Parbat regularly and reach the Shrine of Chakrishwar to be at the holy feet of the Divine Mother in the wee hours of the morning. Phagun Krishna Paksh Ashtami (Hora Ashtami) and Ashad Shukla Paksh Saptami, Ashtami and Navami (Har Satum, Har Aatham and Har Navum) are the auspicious days for the devotional congregational prayers at the Sharika-peeth Chakrishwar. Ashad Navami (Har Navum) is said to be the Birthday of Sha-rika Bhagwati. On this day of Sharika Jayanti the devotees make sacrificial offering of ‘Teher-charvan’ (rice boiled with turmeric po-wder and mixed with oil and salt and cooked liver of goat) to the Supreme Goddess. Earlier, the Birthday of Jagat Amba Sharika Bhagwati used to be celebrated by performing a ‘Mahachandi Yagna’, which would commence on Ashad Saptami (Hari Satum) and culminate on Ashad Shukla Paks Navami (Har Navum) with a sacrificial offering of a lamb called ‘Raze-Kath’. Presently ‘Har-Naum’, the holy birhtday festival of the Goddess Sharika is celebrated at Chakrishwas Shrine with a night long singing of hymns and bhajans in the praise of the Goddess
Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) has also introduced ‘Group Registration‘ since last year to facilitate registration of those intending pilgrims who want to travel in a Group comprising relatives, friends or neighbors. To facilitate all members of a Group of pilgrims (Yatris) obtaining Registration for a particular date, SASB has initiated a scheme of ‘Group Registration’.
Following are the Guidelines for Group Registration for Shri Amarnath Yatra 2015:
If Group of Yatris intending to undertake the Shri Amarnath Yatra in a Group of 5 or more members are unable to obtain Yatra Permits from the nearest located Bank Branches because the allocated number of vacancies (registration quota) have been exhausted, then the individual members of the Group can together apply by registered post to the Chief Executive Officer, Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, Chaitanya Ashram, Talab Tillo, Jammu, to secure registration for the Yatra.
The Group Registration is available from 1st March 2015 till 30th May 2015.
30th May 2015 will be the last day of receipt of Application Forms for Group Registration.
Group Registration is being done on first-come-first-serve basis, subject to the date wise and route wise vacancies (registration quota) available for a particular day/ particular route, subject to maximum 50 registrations per group per day per route.
To apply for the Yatra Permit under Group Registration Facility, the Group Leader (one of the intending pilgrim of the group) will have to send the following documents in respect of each member of the Group by registered post at the address indicated in para 1 above:
Four passport sized photographs of each applicant, one of which is to be signed on the front side of the photograph.
Yatra Registration Fee @ Rs 150 per Yatri.
Mailing Address of the Group Leader, along with mobile number, and e-mail ID.
Postal Charges as per scale mentioned below:
No of persons in a Group
1 to 5
6 to 10
16 to 20
21 to 25
26 to 30 and so on
The amount payable to SASB (Yatra Registration Fee and Postal Charges) is to be sent in the shape of Bank Draft drawn in favour of Chief Accounts Officer, Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board.
No one below the age of 13 years or above the age of 75 years and no female with more than six weeks pregnancy shall be registered for the Yatra.
In case vacancies (registration quota) are not available for a particular date for which Registration has been sought by the Group, the Group Leader will be contacted over telephone and informed about the next available slot for Group Registration and, if that is not acceptable to the Group Leader, the Application Forms, Compulsory Health Certificates, and the Registration Fee shall be returned to the Group Leader through Registered Post. If the Group Leader agrees to seek Registration for a date for which quota is available, the same will be done and sent to him through registered post.
For Shri Amarnath Yatra 2015, CHCs issued only after 10th February, 2015 would be valid for registration purposes.
Yatris will be allowed to embark on his/ her Yatra only on the day and route for which he/she has been registered.
Chief Executive Officer, Shrine Board, shall not be responsible for any postal delay.
Registration procedure for NRI/ ex-India Pilgrims – Shri Amarnathji Shrine Boarrd has mechanism in place to enable NRI/ ex-India pilgrims to register themselves for the Shri Amarnath Yatra. This facility specially established in view of the fact that a large number of devotees living abroad undertake this annual Yatra. Following is the procedure for Registration of NRI/ ex-India Pilgrims:
To Register for Shri Amarnathji Yatra 2015, an ex-India pilgrim shall need to send scanned copies of the following documents to Shri Rakesh Kumar Sharma, Manager Security, Punjab National Bank, Circle Office, Jammu, at the email address: email@example.com
(Moblie Telephone number: +91-9906903253)
Registration fee of Rs 500/- per Yatri to be deposited in the Punjab National Bank: Swift Code: PUNBINBBJTS, Account Number 0794002101003771, PNB, Branch, Rehari, Jammu.
Compulsory Health Certificate should have been issued by National Health Services of the country concerned after 10th February, 2015.
The intending pilgrim will have the choice of collecting the Yatra Permit from the designated branch of Punjab National Bank located at Jammu or Srinagar. This choice shall be indicated by the pilgrim in his/ her forwarding e-mail.
Registration of ex-India Pilgrims shall be subject to availability of Registration quota for the preferred day and route.
Shri Rakesh Kumar Sharma, Manager Security, Punjab National Bank, Circle Office, Jammu, has been assigned to inform the Pilgrim, via e-mail, whether he/ she has been Registered for the Yatra and the location of Bank Branch at Jammu/ Srinagar from where the Yatri would be required to collect the Yatra Permit.
SASB has design and layout of Shri Amarnathji Yatra Permit Registration Forms which have a number of high security features to ensure against these Forms being duplicated by unlawful elements.
Thereare ample historical records available establishing the existence of age-old ties between Kashmir and Jammu as two separate regions. Not only that there were matrimonial alliances between the ruling dynasties of the two regions, but also political, commercial and cultural contacts linking the people of the two regions into closer bonds of unity. As per the Rajtarangini and other historical documents, the rulers of Jammu provided shelter to many dissenters from Kashmir and also actively participated in many battles fought on the soil of Kashmir. Many political developments of great import were aided and abetted by the rulers of Jammu. The contiguity of the two regions laid the basis for the development of a close interaction between them despite the mountain ramparts posing serious barriers for such an interaction. Prior to Gulab Singh making his debut, Jammu had no unified government, but was divided into numerous feudatories perpetually at war with each other. Credit goes to Maharaja Gulab Singh, who founded the State of Jammu and Kashmir through his political acumen, valour and ability to divine and measure future developments. With a view to weaken the Sikh regime, the Britishers through the Treaty of Amritsar transferred the territory of Kashmir to Maharaja Gulab Singh, who had stood by them through thick and thin. The Dogra rulers by and large ushered in a new era of peace and prosperity in Kashmir. Many significant developments in the areas of trade, commerce, communication and education got registered during the rule of Dogras. The British interference in the management of the state affairs not only slowed down the pace of development, but also weakened the state power to a larger extent. Given to the policy of divide and rule, the Britishers played the Muslims against the Hindus with a view to strengthen their hold on the state power only for safeguarding their imperial interests.
During the Dogra period of Kashmir history, the Kashmirian Hindus were not subjected to barbaric treatment as had been their fate in the Muslim rule. They enjoyed comparative peace and respite. But it never meant that there were no marauders out to loot, kill and maraud them. The fanatical elements were only lying in wait for an opportune moment to harass, intimidate, loot and plunder them. The Dogra rulers subscribing to the faith of Hinduism proved a blessing for such elements. The propaganda inside and outside the pulieux of Kashmir was vigorously launched that the Dogra rulers were inimical to the Muslims, out to kill and crush them. The declaration of Maharaja Hari Singh that ‘Justice was his religion’ made no impact on such communal elements among the Muslim populace.
The Hindus not given to the campaigns for proselytisation outright rejected the suggestion of Maharaja Ranbir Singh, a scion of the Dogra dynasty, to reconvert the Muslims to the fold of Hinduism as they were forcibly converted to the faith of Islam and were willing to hark back to their original faith and creed. Even the influential elements among the Hindus of Kashi are said to have turned down the suggestion of the Maharaja.l This particular instance speaks volumes for the tolerant creed of the Hindus, who, dead-set against the use of force for converting men of other faiths to their religion. They contribute to a pluralistic concept of religion and society allowing every individual to espouse his faith without any interference from any quarter. The Hindus without an exception have worked for social peace, harmony and cohesion and have never launched upon marauding campaigns for conversion.
The battle against the Kashmirian Hindus started off with the cry that they had an absolute monopoly of the state services. The fact of the matter was that they had impeccable academic credentials for entry into the services, but were actually considered for lower rungs of services. It was the Punjabi and Bengali Hindu and Muslim, who were manning all the superior services of the state. The Kashmirian Muslims wallowing in dust and dirt had yet to register an advance in the field of education despite many concerted efforts made by the rulers of the land including the measure to forcibly put the Muslim scholars to schools.
That many of the Kashmirian Hindus, bright people by all standards, who had been abroad in pursuit of academics, aspired to join the state services, but were denied such opportunities by the powers that be.2 Unlike the Muslims, the Kashmirian Hindus have maintained a top record of literacy rate, which fact is cognized even by the UNESCO, a vital organ of the United Nations Organisation.
The Kashmirian Hindus recognizable an advanced segment of the Kashmirian society in terms of cultural and academic achievements were responsible tor innovating certain new ideas aiming at an advancement and emancipation of the entire fabric of society comprising different shades and strands. They were fully aware of the ills of an exploitative system prevalent in the land of Kashmir sapping the total fabric allowing some to obtain the lion’s share at the cost of the general populace. They firmly clung to the idea that the decadent and moribund system of government based on autocracy was to be done away with for the betterment and progress of the entire society. That is why sons of high and very affluent Hindu families contributed to the growth of nationalist movement in Kashmir. Fully cognisant of the role of the Punjabi and Bengali bureaucracy in manning state machine, the Kashmirian Hindus joined the ranks of the Jummuites seeking the entry of the Mulkis into the key positions of the state. Maharaja Hari Singh with ample grains of patriotism in him was not averse to the innovative idea motivating all sections of people from the regions of Jammu and Kashmir. The first momentous meeting demanding the entry of the residents of Jammu and Kashmir into the key positions of the state services was held in Jammu and was presided over hy Pandit Jia Lal Kilam, a very prominent personality of the Kashmirian Hindu community.
The state subject movement was basically generated and strengthened by the Kashmirian Hindus, who had sailed abroad to invest themselves with modern education prevalent in the West. Fired with new thought and conceptual frame, these youngmen led by Pandit Shankar Lal Koul carried on a relentless campaign in the Indian press for the Kashmirians to be solely employed to man the administrative set-up of the state. They were not sectarian and partisan. They covertly contributed to the growth of nationalist ideology embracing all segments of the state population. It was their patriotic zeal which led to the popularisation of the ideas of freedom, equality and universal brotherhood among lhe Kashmirians. The introduction of such ideas in the backward polity of Kashmir was of farreaching importance in matters of forging a new movement for the political and economic emancipation of the Kashmirians of all hues. First to be attracted by modern education and modern political thought processes, the Kashmirian Hindus were the precursors of the futuristie movements forged for shaping new destinies of the Kashmirians as a whole.
Being above narrow considerations and sectarian interests, the Kashmirian Hindus as the vanguard of the Kashmirian society led to the enactment and implementation of the state subject law covering all shades of population without distinction of caste, creed and religion. Pandit Jia Lal Kilam, Pandit Jia Lal Jalali and Pandit Shanker Lal Koul were in the front ranks of the agitation for enactment of the state subject benefiting the Hindus, Muslims and Dogras of all shades. The Hindus of Jammu region also played a momentous role in ridding the state of outside bureaucracy.
Yet another innovative idea regarding the establishment of a Labour Board for looking after the interests of the Muslim labourers migrating to Jammu and the Punjab to earn their pittance in winter months was mooted by Pandit Kashyap Bandhu, a bright son of the Hindu community. The labourers more often than not fell prey to a dreaded disease like malaria and the Maharaja’s government by and large was apathetic to their miserable plight. Pandit Bandhu as the pioneer of the idea of Labour Board aroused the Maharaja’s interest in the problems confronting the Muslims of Kashmir. He was solely motivated by the design of bettering the lot of the Kashmirian Muslims. The Kashmirian Hindus in appreciable numbers joined the ranks of the agitationists agitating against the use ur a despicable nomenclature of hato for the Kashmirian Muslim labourers working in Jammu and other parts of the Punjab. What needs be emphasised is that the Kashmirian Hindus as the cream of the Kashmirian society of varied hues concertedly worked for the weal and welfare of the majority population of Kashmir, thus rising above narrow interests and partisan ends.
The bright sons of the Kashmirian Hindu community having come under the powerful impact of westernised education and thought models were the first to demand a legislature elected by the popular vote, free press and free platform for purposes of highlighting the urgent problems facing the Kashmirians of all denominations. The demand over the years snowballed forcing the Dogra ruler to form a legislative body though limited in range and scope of its functioning. The Kashmirian Hindus without an iota of doubt were the first to set the tone and tenor for the coming events in the domain of Kashmir politics.
The Kashmirian Hindus with a powerful background of generations of education were instrumental in introducing the Kashmirian Muslims to the light of education, especially the modern education. The obscurantist Muslims clinging to archaic models of thought vehementaly opposed all positive efforts in the direction of establishing new type of schools for investing the Muslim scholars with modern education. The Mullahs as the custodians of the Muslim brain and conscience hatefully castigated the Muslims motivated by the idea of putting the Muslim scholars to schools imparting liberal education. Such Muslims were denounced as heretics thereby forcing them to abandon their plans for radicalising and reforming the mind-set of the Muslim community as a whole.
There is no denying the fact that Molvi Rasool Shah despite all opposition from conservative Muslims undertook the vital project of setting up an Islamia school for the Muslim scholars with a view to introduce them to westernised education apart from the religious teaching considered far greater in importance than the liberal pattern of education. The Muslim opinion was dead-set against any form of liberal education as it was deemed to lead to the dilution of Islamic teachings in the mind-set of the blooming buds. Molvi Rasool Shah was physically assaulted and hurt inflicted on him. Even the Kashmirian Hindus, who had stood by him in undertaking the pioneering work, were equally manhandled and hurt. They were warned of dire consequences if they continued to meddle in the religious affairs of Muslims. Despite it, to the chagrin of the Muslim stereotypes, the fact of history is that the Islamia school was established with the active support of the Kashmirian Hindus. The said-school to this day was manned and run by the Kashmirian Hindu teachers of high academic merit guided and motivated by the pious design of drawing the budding scholars out from the enveloping darkness of ignorance and investing them with new visions and dreams only to set a new tone for the Kashmirian Muslim society at large. There was hardly a home in village, hamlet and city where a Kashmirian Hindu would not go with the torch of light and knowledge held aloft by his feeble hands.
Only to invest the Muslim scholars with new type of education, Shri Kanth Koul founded National High School at Baramulla. The said school has rendered a yeoman’s service to the Muslims, who deliberately kept away from westernised education. Another such school was founded by Pandit Swaroop Nath Raina, a veteran freedom fighter, at Shopian. It enrolled peasant boys absolutely poor and deprived and served as a beacon light for furthering the cause of Muslim education. The schools were run by the Kashmirian Hindus and the teachers-essentially Hindus effacingly devoted themselves to the task of endowing the Muslim blooming buds with such education as would prove of great henefit in shaping their lives in a different mould. Pandit Dina Nath Hanjura, a wellknown scholar and educationist, headed the National School at Shopian. If you kill a dog in Kashmir, his dying confession will be that he was taught by a Kashmiri Pandit.
Be it said that the Kashmirian Hindus have been heir to a rich store house of learning and erudition and despite all odds they have preserved their instinctive lust for learning. The currents and cross-currents of history have played havoc with their psyche. They through the vicissitudes of history have been subjected to frequent bouts of loot, plunder, ravage and massacre. Bereft of rest and peace, they have been perpetually haunted by the spectre of insecurity, instability and uncertainity. Forced to march out of their native place only to save their skin in face of tremendous persecution, the Kashmirian Hindus could not but develop resilience and tough fibre to suffer untold miseries and traumas quite patiently. They would have undoubtedly made richer contributions to the formation of culture and civilisation had they not been hounded out every now and then by the Muslim zealots. The Kashmirian Hindus unlike the Muslims have never chosen to be sunk in the quagmire of communal bigotry, sectarianism and narrow interests.
With a view to draw the Muslim women out of the well of backwardness, male tyranny and more than most ignorance, the Kashmirian Hindus under the inspiring guidance and leadership of Pandit Sri Kanth Toshkhani, Professor of Philosophy, Sri Pratap College, Srinagar established a school for Muslim girls, who were initiated and given impetus to come to schools for learning 3 R’s. What is highly significant is that Prof. Toshkhani and the Kashmirian Hindu lady teachers launched upon a door-to-door campaign mobilising the Muslims to put their daughters to the school. Hindu lady teachers would even go to the homes of Muslim girls only to provide them with more of guidance as they were first generation learners of backward and ignorant parents, who had consciously kept away from the light of education despite countless incentives provided to them by the Hindu ruler and his government.
The Dogra period of Kashmir history was marked by the British advent into Kashmir. The Dogras could not but succumb to the pressures put on them by the British masters working assiduously for watching the imperial interests in Kashmir, which had come to acquire a position of importance in their total game-plan. It was natural for the British officers to have come into contact with the Kashmirian Hindus, who were present in the Administrative set up at the lower rungs. They were impressed by the suavity, cultured demeanour, general ability and intelligence of the Kashmirian Hindus. They appreciated their qualities of head and heart especially their administrative skills. That the stock of the Kashmirian Hindus was very much up with the Britishers gets testified by the mention various European travellers have made about them in their travelogues and other tomes. To them, a Kashmirian Hindu was conservative in sticking to his religious practices, but modern in adapting himself to new thought nuances and manner of dress. But, the British encouragement of Kashmirian Hindu was short-lived and they wove and hatched conspiracies not only to derogate them but also to get them looted, plundered and killed.
The Britishers developed hatred and revulsion for the Kashmirian Hindus when they got attracted to new developments in the arena of Indian politics initiated and led by the Indian National Congress symbolising the aspirations of the Indian masses for a new order based on self rule, democracy and free thinking. The highly educated sections of the Kashmirian Hindus directly participated in the struggle for freedom from the British yoke and contributed their mite to the spread and dissemination of new thought structures as enunciated by Gandhi and Nehru at the national level and Marx, Engels and Lenin at the international level. The Testament of New Kashmir contains all the seed ideas and thought trends, which the bright sons of the Kashmirian Hindu community had imbibed through their intelligent and painstaking study of the works of Marx, Engels and Lenin and a host of Marxist thinkers.
Kashmir had an intelligent group of Radical Humanists, who through their ideological discourse led to the dissemination of their ideas in the backward polity of Kashmir. The fact remains that they could not win many sympathizers for their ideology among the Muslims of Kashmir. The proponents of the ideology of Radical Humanism were mostly Kashmirian Hindus hailing from all walks of life.
The Btitish officers stationed in Kashmir and elsewhere felt a cold shiver down their spine when the Kashmirian Hindus led by their fiery sons demonstrated against the arrest of Gandhi and supported his clarion call tor boycott of foreign goods. The bonfire of foreign goods in the S.R. Ganj locality of Srinagar in 1930 amply demonstrated the patriotic zeal and fervour of the Kashmirian Hindus, who had their gaze fixed on new political forces shaping and emerging both on national and international scene. Unlike many other communities, they were not bogged down in the mire of communal politics. It will not be out of place to mention that the first memorandum submitted to Maharaja Hari Singh by the Muslims of Kashmir sought a ban on Indian National Congress and the activities of the Kashmirian Hindus fraternising with the organisation.3
The Britishers feeling alarmed at the new orientation given to the Kashmirian politics by the Kashmirian Pandits took no time in hatching conspiracies against them only to deflect them from the path of patriotism and nationalism. They in complicity with the All India Muslim Conference of Lahore and a group of Muslims in Jammu let loose a flood of vicious propaganda on the backward and illiterate masses of Kashmir arousing their communal and sectarian passions. Allegations were levelled against some Hindu constables of Jammu only to foment communal trouble. A Hindu police sub-inspector, Babu Khem Chand, was accused of heresy as he had not permitted a Molvi to read out khutba. He was dismissed from services even though the magistrate in his judgment had made it amply clear that he was not reading Khutba but delivering a political speech against the ruler characterising him as cruel and tyrant. 4 Another Hindu head constable, Labh Ram, was accused of desecrating the Quran.5 The government feeling jittery dismissed the employee without probing the entire incident. The Muslim groups communally oriented did not feel satiated by the dismissal of the two employee as they had different plans up their sleeves only to be materialised in the loot, murder and arson of the Kashmirian Pandits. The Reading Room Party led by Sheikh Abdullah was an abettor of the vicious propaganda unleashed against the Hindus, who had been the main target of the Muslim politics. The life size posters instigating the Muslims to protest and revolt proved a catalyst for the communal frenzy engulfing the Kashmirian Pandits.
On 13th of July, 1931, history for the Kashmirian Hindus got repeated. They were put to an orgy of loot, murder and arson. Their houses and business establishments were ruthlessly looted and put to flames. They were cruelly killed and mercilessly beaten and roughed up. As per the official records, numerous Kashmirian Hindus were killed and countless seriously wounded. The worst affected areas were Maharaj Ganj and Vicharnag localities in Srinagar. Hindus everywhere in the valley of Kashmir were subjected to harassment, intimidation, persecution and torture. The goons had their heyday everywhere especially in Srinagar indulging in loot, murder and arson. Wakefield, the then Home Minister, turned a Nelson’s Eye to all the happenings corroding public order. He was fiddling with the Resident while the valley was burning. The British officers mostly owing allegiance to the British network of intelligence in complicity and connivance with the communal forces in the Valley were guilty of looting, murdering and pillaging the Kashmirian Hindus.
One Qadir, a bearer in the employ of an European, was responsible for instigating the Muslim crowd got collected in the Mir Ali Hamadani Mosque in Srinagar to choose their representatives for a meeting with the Maharaja. He was tried for sedition and during the course of hearing held in camera, the Muslim crowds gate crashed into the Central Jail in Srinagar only to disrupt the judicial process. The police posse stationed on duty fired leaving ten Muslims killed. What ensued was mayhem, loot and murder for the Hindus of Kashmir. The government pursued a policy of drift and never brought the looters and killers to book for the crimes against the fragile minority of Hindus. Those responsible for letting loose a reign of terror for the helpless and hapless Hindus were hailed and bolstered up as freedom fighters and even as martyrs. The communal orgy had its full sway for two weeks and Maharaja Hari Singh’s government proved utterly incapable of providing protection to the victims of loot, murder and arson. As per government records, the total loss suffered by the Hindus in the destruction of their properties was estimated to be exceeding a crore of rupees.5
Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz,7 known for his pro-Pak leanings, was not forthright in condemning the Muslim communalism, which had been systematically working for the annihilation of the Hindu minority in Kashmir. He span a wayward theory for justifying the loot and murder of the Hindus, who were equally poor, deprived and bereft. Why loot and murder only the Hindus of Kashmir? Why were not the big sharks among the Muslim landed gentry looted and killed ? Shree Bazaz had his own specific approach to the evaluation of the communal politics in Kashmir7 whjch perhaps fitted in the entire scheme of things he had in mind for Kashmir.
Sheikh Abdullah is recorded to have characterised the communal happenings on 13th July, 1931 as the handiwork of the goons, who stole the occasion for indulgence in loot and murder of the Kashmirian Hindus. His comment came in the wake of the address he made to the Kashmirian Hindus at Sheetalnath for the first time in his political career.8
The Kashrnirian Hindus as the hapless victims of loot, murder and arson demanded an impartial enquiry into the communal incidents. An Enquiry Committee was set up, but it stopped short of launching a thorough probe into the entire gamut of happenings leading to the infliction of worst ever atrocities on the Kashmirian Hindus. Not punishing the guilty, the government ordered the release of those arrested during riots. Enquiry was practically shelved and truce arranged between the government and the communal agitators. The Kashmir Muslim Conference functioning in Lahore did not take kindly to the truce and did everything possible to wreck it with the obvious objective of fuelling the communal fires to engulf the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir. The Muslims operating at Lahore in connivance with the Britishers virtually succeeded in stoking the communal fires in the region of Jammu when the Hindus of Mirpur were subjected to a spree of loot, murder and arson. Its reverberations were sensed in Uri, Baramulla, Srinagar and Anantnag in the region of Kashmir which were convulsed by communal disturbances.
Dr. Iqbal closely associated with the Muslim Conference of Lahore actually worked against the truce between the state government and the communal agitators.l0 His plans were to convert the communal disturbances into an all-out crusade against the Hindu Maharaja and the Kashmirian Hindus. He had even ambitions of becoming the Prime Minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir as got revealed by the letter he wrote to Maharaja Hari Singh.l1 Calvin as the Prime Minister of the state was pre-informed of the contents of the letter by intelligence agencies operating in Lahore. Dr. Iqbal was categoric in telling the ruler of the state that his appointment as the Prime Minister of the state would end all strife tearing the state politics.
The 13th July, 1931 disturbances based on Muslim frenzy were generated and led by the Muslim land-lords, shawl tycoons and other richer sections of the Muslim community. The sole motive behind the disturbances was to wrest concessions from the ruler in matters of ‘better positions, social recognition and more gains in economic undertakings’. The loot, murder and arson launched against the Kashmirian Hindus reflected the perennial religious hatred the Muslims have been harbouring against the Hindus of Kashmir. The Muslims worked in complicity with the Britishers, who had smelt a rat in the political activities of the Hindus vying with the nationalists and new wave of mass enthusiasm gaining momentum for freedom from British fetters. The sudden appearance of Qadir, who was employed with an European, testifies beyond doubt that the disturbances were planned and manipulated hy the Britishers in connivance with the Muslim agents working at their beck and call.
The 13th July, 1931 communal orgy was preceded by an outrageous act of kidnapping, wrongfully confining and murdering a Kashmirian Hindu girl, Durgi by name. 12 It sent shock waves in the miniscule minority of the Hindus reminding them of the same type of persecution and torture that they were subjected to throughout the Muslim rule. What was worst that the state police lathi-charged the funeral procession of one thousand Hindus accompanying the dead body of the victim to the cremation ground for last rites. Enraged by the heinous crime committed against an innocent girl, the Hindus in unprecedented numbers got collected in the Raghunath Temple of Srinagar only to adopt two resolutions, one demanding an impartial enquiry into the circumstances leading to the murder of the Kashmirian Hindu girl, the other expressing shock and anguish over the police high-handedness of charging a funeral procession.l3 The government never acted as all its operational capacities were paralysed by the interference of the Britishers in the state affairs. Dogra Rule (1846-1947 A.D.)
With a view to achieve their political ends the Britishers forced and pressurised the Maharaja to constitute a Grievances Commission for a probe into the complaints of the people of Kashmir. The Commission was chaired by B.J. Glancy, who was directly linked with the British Intelligence Department. The Hindu members on the Commission from Jammu resigned when the Muslim members from Jammu and Kashmir demanded a change in the Hindu Personal Law facilitating the fresh converts to Islam to own their hereditary properties even after conversion. The Kashmirian Hindus directed their member, Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz, to withdraw from it, but he did not oblige them and continued to be on the Commission representing none.
The Commission motivated by the sole design of damaging the legitimate interests of the Kashmirian Hindus got exposed by tendering biased recommendations to the ruler. It did not take up for consideration the vital issue of settling the age-long dispute over Kalishree Temple,14 which was forcibly occupied and demolished for erection of the Mir Ali Hamadani Mosque. In its open hostility to the Kashmirian Hindus, the Commission failed to recommend the handing over of the Hari Parbat, Shankaracharya hillocks and the Buddhist sites to the Hindus while it made the recommendation of handing over Pathar Masjid, Bulbul Shah Khanaqah and Dara Shikuh Khanqah to the Muslims. The Hindus were not handed over their properties on the plea that some graves had been dug around the two hillocks. Nor were the Muslims asked to use the bathing ghat of the Kalishree Temple a few yards away from the portion used by the Kashmirian Hindus, who had to witness the detestable Muslim practice of opening their trousers if they would have one on or just throwing the Phiran (a long woollen cloak) up for cleansing their unclean bottoms. The Hindu demand for the construction of a shed at the point of worship on the river ghat only to shelter them from inclement weather was cruelly rejected.
Unfair to the Kashmirian Hindus, the Commission recommended the scaling down of academic merit in favour of the Kashmirian Muslims thereby blocking the entry of the Hindus with high academic merit into the state services. The Maharaja had already embarked upon the policy-path of disregarding the claims of the Kashmirian Hindus to the state services.l5 The Kashmirian Hindus through their representative, Dr. R.K. Bhanl6 M.A. F.R.S had supplied the ruler with the statistical data regarding the severe unemployment prevailing among the highly educated Hindu youth.
The Muslim members on the Glancy Commission demanded that the state police be asked to desist from intervening in matters of fresh converts of Islam. The brazen-faced demand patently demonstrated the Muslim plans for launching upon conversion campaigns despite the fact that the state had a Hindu ruler. There were numerous Muslim agencies operating for fresh converts to Islam. They worked under a well-formulated design and were financially supported by inside and outside agencies. Keeping the police forces at bay the Muslim majority would resort to time-tested weapons of harassment, intimidation, allurement and final hounding out and liquidation of the Kashmirian Hindus.
The Muslim members on the Commission in their note of dissent demanded that the Maharaja be asked not to impose a ban on lhe Muslims of Kashmir and Frontier Districts to have and receive arms. 17 The demand underpinned the motives of arming the Muslims for purposes of launching an armed crusade against the fragile minority of Hindus in Kashmir.
Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz, who had no mandate from the Kashmirian Hindus, in his note of dissent put that the mosque at Idgah with a wall around it be allowed to come up only if rest of the Idgah grounds were left intact and open to all communities for recreational and grazing purposes. 18
The British Resident in pressurising Maharaja Hari Singh to appoint the Glancy Commission was motivated by the sole design of mobilising the Muslims against the Hindu ruler in furtherance of the imperial interests. Many agents working only to further the British designs were enrolled from the Muslim ranks. Sheikh Abdullah himself is alleged to be a British agent, who worked hand in glove with the British masters.19 The recommendations of the Glancy Commission institutionalised communalism dividing the Kashmirian society at large into twain. Capitalizing on the deep rooted hatred of the Muslims against the Hindus, the Britishers only to humble down the Maharaja managed to appease the Muslims through the Glancy Commission. The fact remains that the Commission never upheld the Muslim contention of non-representation of the Muslims in the state services, but rendered an immeasurable damage unto the Kashmirian polity by polarising it on communal grounds.
The lop-sided and biased recommendations of the Glancy Commission were prominently marked by an appeasement of the Muslim majority of Kashmir. The legitimate rights and interests of the Kashmirian Hindus were ruthlessly sacrificed and trampled upon. Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz was patently blamed and held responsible for the undue concessions showered on the Muslims by the Maharaja in pursuance of the recommendations made by the Glancy Commission. The Kashmirian Hindus sharply reacted and ground was set for fullfledged agitation. Out to clamour for their rightful interests, the Hindus in massive numbers held demonstrations denouncing Glancy and the Government of Maharaja Hari Singh.20 The agitation known as the Roti (bread) Agitation in the history of the Kashmirian Hindus led to the emergence of an astute leadership working under the wise and prudent advice and guidance of Pandit Kashyap Bandhu, who in his autobiography yet to be published has made startling revelations about the Sheikh. With Sheetalnath as the centre stage of the agitational activities, the Hindus highlighted their economic hardships having ensued from the governmental policy of blocking their entry into the state services. Instead of conceding their legitimate demands, the governmcnt let loose a reign of repression against the Hindus. They were lathi-charged, baton charged, arrested and imprisoned and hurt with all sorts of repressive and coercive measures. To cap it all, the Muslims in large numbers assaulted the Kashmirian Hindus only to throttle their voice against the repression inflicted on them. They did everything to disrupt and wreck their movement as a definite nexus had already developed between the Britishers and the Muslims for pushing the Kashmirian Hindus to the wall. Despite the concerted attempts to disrupt the movement by vested interests, it continued with full zest and vigour for more than six months. It was a highly organised and disciplined movement focussing on economic problems. It will be no exaggeration if it be put that the Bread Movement set the tone and tenor for all future movements in the history of Kashmir as it was secular in cuntent highlighting economic demands and was never directed against the Muslims whose major grievance of non-representation in government services was not upheld even by the Glancy Commission.
Toeing the old strategy of grabbing the Hindu places of worship, the Muslims whipped up mass frenzy and let loose their brute force to unlawfull occupy two places of Hindu worship, one at Sahyar and the other at Narparistan in Srinagar. The Narparistan place of worship known as Narishwari Temple was demolished and a grave installed at its sanctum sanctorum. It was done in total violation of civilised canons guiding relations between various communities in a pluralistic society. The Hindus raised a powerful voice against the unjust acts resulting in communal tension. They highlighted the problem with the powers that be, but as usual no positive action for restoration of the two temples to their rightful owners was ever taken. The Muslim onslaught on the Hindus and their places of worship continued even in Dogra times.
In the backdrop of communal tensions leading to loot, murder and arson of the Kashmirian Hindus, the Muslims rallied under the banner of the Muslim Conference espousing sectarian and communal politics. Training their guns against the Hindus, the Muslim politicians in complicity with groups of the same hue operating in Jammu and Lahore under the umbrella of British patronage highlighted non-secular agenda based on narrow-mindedness, religious bigotry and myopia. The Kashmirian Hindus could not think of joining hands with such forces. But, they did not fail the new radical elements, who showed appearance within the ambience of the Muslim Conference for secularising and broadbasing thcir movement directed to the achievement of political and economic emancipation of all components of the Kashmirian populace. The Kashmirian Hindus applied their shoulder to the wheel of Muslim politics investing it with vigour, enthusiasm and more than most new political direction. In appreciable numbers, they participated in all the functions designed to celebrate the Responsible Government Day. They joined the ranks of the labour movement when its gates were thrown open to them. The Kashmirian Hindu intellectuals did not thwart, but aided the flowering of new forces within the Muslim politics.
Credit goes to Sardar Budh Singh, who unfurled banner of revolt against the then moribund system perpetuating forced labour (begaar), unscientific land revenue and land relations and set a new agenda for wholesa!e reforms. In fact, it was he only who conveyed his radical views regarding the politico-economic set-up prevalent in the state to Sheikh Abdullah who till then was wallowing in the quagmire of communal politics shaped by the shawl-barons, Jagirdars and beard-flaunting Molvis.
The Hindu leaders like Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz, Pandit Jia Lal Kilam, Pandit Sham Lal Saraf, Pandit Kashyap Bandhu and Sardar Budh Singh were responsible for forging a new nationalist agenda for all Kashmirians without distinction of caste, creed and religion. In fact, Kashyap Bandhu having come from Lahore in 1930 was the first to suggest the formation of a united front for highlighting common problems of all communities. As a result of inter-action between the leaders of the two communities, a new united front was formed for purposes of highlighting economic and political problems concerning the Kashmirians as a whole. The National Demand issued in August, 1938 was signed among others by Pandit Jia Lal Kilam, Pandit Sham Lal Saraf and Sardar Budh Singh. It is enough to demonstrate that the Kashmirian Hindus joined the ranks of Muslims only when the Muslims thought it expedient to part ways with sectarian politics for forging a new unity among all sections of the Kashmirians.
Having taken birth from the debris of Muslim Conference, the National Conference enthused all segments of the Kashmirian population. Its secular credentials set a new pace for the politics of Kashmir. The Kashmirian Hindus declared their parent organisation of All Kashmiri Pandit Yuvak Sabha as a socio-cultural body devoting itself to the objectives of reforming their society and preserving their cultural heritage. National Conference, they declared, was their political forum for achieving all objectives as were graphicnlly outlined in the Testament of New Kashmir.
It was the cream of the Kashmirian Hindu society that was directly responsible for formulating the ‘New Kashmir’ manifesto only to invest the struggle with a definite direction. A brilliant group of young communists under the leadership of Dr. N. N. Raina 22 was operating within the National Conference spear-heading a new agenda. Those youngmen mostly hailing from middle-class Hindus families were motivated and enthused by the Marxist ideology pointing to new destinations of establishing an exploitation-free social order in sharp contrast to capitalist mode of social and political structure. They were mostly responsible for introducing the nationalist movement to the concept of socialist pattern of society based on equality, democracy and free from exploitation. The Communists of Kashmir had direct links with the Communist Party of India, which has played a glorious role in anti-Imperialist struggle waged by the Indian masses. Dr. Raina was widely known and shown high esteem as a high-calibre Communist intellectual of Kashmir. Among others, two prominent Communists from the Punjab, Mr. B.P.L. Bedi and Mrs. Freda Bedi, late Moti Lal Misri, late D.P. Dhar and Dr. N.N. Raina were the persons, who were associated with drafting the ‘New Kashmir’ manifesto for the Kashmirians with the sole objective of concretising the goals they were supposed to achieve through the struggle. The Communists organised study circles for imparting political education to the rank and file of National Conference only to save the movement from going lumponic. But Sheikh Abdullah got the study circles stopped from functioning on the plea that the organisers were propagating communism among the Muslim youth.23
Even after re-christening the Muslim Conference as National Conference, the spectre of communalism continued to haunt the leadership, which had a track record of communal and sectarian politics. Sheikh Abdullah, the tallest of the Muslim leaders, did not abandon the Hazratbal Shrine as the focal point of his political activities, clinging firmly to the Muslim concept of combining religion with politics, the Sheikh was always found lacing his political orations with the religious history of Islam. In his moments of utter despair ensuing from his political failures and inconsistencies, he often bradished the stick of Islam to quieten and quench opposition and dissent. Suspecting a dip in his popularity graph, he would more often than not jaunt about the streets of Srinagar either exhorting the Muslims to observe fasts during the month of Ramadan or collecting funds for erecting a mosque. His characterisation of the Hindu minority of Kashmir as ammanat (trust) was co-terminus with the status of Zimmies as defined in the Islamic texts. Not that the Hindus were equal participants in a democratic order, but were subservient to the Muslim canons which were more obeyed in their non-observance than observance.
Sheikh Abdullah’s commitment to secular outlook in spirit and deed became all the more suspect when he used the secular platform of National Conference for celebrating Id-i-Milad on 24th April, 1940. In his characteristic oration, he launched a vituperative tirade against the Hindu society, contemptuously derided the religion of the Hindus and to cap it all made an unwise remark that Islam was the sun and other religions were stars underpinning that when the sun appears, other stars get eclipsed.
The Sheikh’s utterances regarding the comparative greatness of Islam 24 were not favourably relished by the Hindu leaders of National Conference. In protest, they climbed down the dias. On 28th of April, 1940, the Hindu members of National Conference raised the issue with the Sheikh, who having lost his cool thundered that he was a Muslim first and a Muslim last.25 It generated tremendous bitterness leading to the resignation of Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz, Pandit Jia Lal Kilam and Pandit Kashyap Bandhu from the Working Committee of National Conference. It was only through the good offices of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru that the yawning gulf was stemmed from widening thereby saving the organisation from tearing apart.
The fact of history is that Sheikh Abdullah led a powerful mass movement for founding a new political and economic order in Kashmir and other parts of Jammu region inhabited by various ethnic groups. He rejected the two nation theory of the Muslim League, yet he upheld and subscribed to the idea that the Muslims were a ‘qaum’. The posture of the Shiekh unto the Treaty of Amritsar purporting the sale of Kashmir and other adjoining areas to Maharaja Gulab Singh for a sum of 75 lac rupees (Nanakshahi) smacked of pan-Islamism emphasising that the Kashmirian Muslims alone were purchased and sold for a few paise each, ignoring that the Kashmirian Hindus, Sikhs and the Ladakhi Buddhists were equally purchased and sold for a few coins. Pan-Islamism with its fountain-head in Dr. Iqbal 26 had its reverberations in the utterances of Sheikh dilating on the total annulment of the Treaty of Amritsar as an imperative condition for freeing the Muslims of Kashmir essentially from the thraldom of the Maharaja, obviously a Hindu ruler. How the Sheikh would have posed himself unto the said-Treaty if the state had a Muslim ruler, a Nawab, is a moot issue for political guess-work and speculation?
The ruler of the state of Jammu and Kashmir as per the India Independence Act of 1947 and the India Act of 1935 was vested with the sole right to accede to either of the two dominions of India and Pakistan having come into being as an outcome of the partition plan promulgated on 3rd June, 1947. Maharaja Hari Singh and his Prime Minister, Pandit Ramchandra Kak, took their own time and prevaricated in the exercise of the options. As can be gleaned from available tomes dilating on the period, it is authentic to put that the Maharaja was interested in maintaining the independence of his state and only as a prelude to it had entered into a stand-still agreement with the two nascent dominions. If the Maharaja was for independence of his state, why did the Sheikh as the top leader of National Conference oppose his intentional move? The only logical position would have been to lend him all out support and succour in putting his intentions into practice. The tenability of the argument gets established by the fact of Sheikh toying with the idea of independence soon after many miles on the highway to accession were traversed. Ram Chandra Kak as the Prime Minister of the ruler was taken for an agent provocateur of Pakistan 27. If the Kashmirians for their own reasons were keen to get annexed to Pakistan, why did they lag behind in strengthening the hands of Mr. Kak, who as per them devotedly worked for the fulfilment of Pak-strategies in Kashmir? Instead, he was handcuffed, spat at and shown all disrespect and contumely by the Sheikh and the Muslims of Kashmir. The golden opportunity of vying with the ruler only to goad him to exercise his illegal options for declaring his state as independent of the two nascent dominions or annexing it to Pakistan as provided by the Act were practically wasted by the Sheikh and the Muslim masses of Kashmir.
The Muslim leaders of National Conference were actually caught in the cleft of a stick whcn they were squarely confronted with the vexatious and thorny question of accession. Thwarting the Maharaja from exercising his legal options, Sheikh Abdullah yelled, “If four million people living in Jammu and Kashmir state were bypassed and the Maharaja declared accession to India or Pakistan, I will raise the banner of revolt and launch a do or die struggle.”28 If politics can be termed as a battle for capturing political power, the Sheikh desired the Maharaja to transfer the reins of government to him along with the onerous responsibility of deciding the question of accession.
The Working Committee of National Conference comprising predominantly the Muslims was sharply divided on the issue of accession. Fearing physical annihilation in Pakistan owing to his track record of anti-Jinnah and anti-Muslim Conference postures, the Sheikh motivated with the design of mending fences with the Muslim League leadership in Pakistan and also clearing the thick-set cobwebs of misunderstanding looming sky-high there in Pakistan political circles, despatched his two lieutenants, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad and Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq to Pakistan with the patent mission of conveying to M.A. Jinnah that the options for accession were all open. But to their utter dismay, the two emissaries of the Sheikh were totally cold-shouldered by the top-notch politicians of Pakistan. However, the message of Sheikh was conveyed when Bakshi and Sadiq held inconclusive discussions with Feroz Khan Noor, Mian Mamtaz Daulatna and Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar,29 a second tier leadership of the Muslim League in Pakistan.
What the two comrades-in-arms of the Sheikh gathered in Pakistan was that the Muslim League leadership did not lend any credence to National Conference as the authentic voice of Kashmir and if at all it recognised any organisation, it was only Muslim Conference of Kashmir, which factually at that point of Kashmir politics was relegated to backwaters, though not totally extinct. As the new political developments were unfolding in quick succession, the two emissaries of the Sheikh having reached Srinagar post-haste, entering into serious confabulations with Muslim members of the National Conference Working Committee without taking the Hindu members into confidence mooted the idea of reviving the Muslim Conference with a view to arrive at a thorough understanding with the Pak-leadership on the moot issue of accession. The entire prospect of new developments ensuring from the stand-point of reviving the Muslim Conference got snuffed out when the hordes of tribesmen launched an unprecedented invasion on the soil of Jammu and Kashmir with the sole objective of forcibly annexing the territory to Pakistan. The kaleidoscope of political change moved so swift and fast that what was quite unpredictable became predictable. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru took the blank cheque out of the left pocket of Mr. Jinnah and to his consternation signed it confidently for India. The die was cast and history was made with the State of Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of India.
The wholesale aggression of the region of Kashmir and other adjoining territories proved calamitous for the peace-loving Hindus of Kashmir and other regions. Mahatma Gandhi saw a ray of hope in the skies of Kashmir, but there was much more to it than could be met by his eyes. Complexities of situation were to surface engulfing the Kashmirian Hindus in a vortex of loot, murder and arson. More than 26,000 Hindus including 15,000 Kashmirian Hindus and 3500 Sikhs became the target of the tribal invaders. The areas they inhabited were Poonch, Rajouri, Mirpur, Munawar, Bhimher, Kotli, Noushera, Muzaferabad, Uri, Baramullah, Sopore, Handawara, Kupwara, Bandipora, Pattan, Tangamarg, and Badgam. The tribals set fire to their thousands of houses, cow-sheds, shops and other standing structures. Hundreds of women and girls were kidnapped and their innocence violated. The property of the Hindus worth crores was looted and pillaged. Countless women committed suicide by taking poison or jumping into the Jehlum and Kishenganga rivers or deep wells.
During raids, the tribal invaders took many Hindus as prisoners subjecting them to untold torture. Capturing the police-posts and police-stations in all the territories under their avalanche, the raiders killed 390 policemen, who were all Hindus.30 Numbers beyond record were mercilessly slaughtered and hundreds declared missing and untraceable. Sikhs were the main targets of the brutalities of the tribals as they have a track record of meeting and fighting Muslim repression and persecution. Their women-folk killed themselves by plunging into rivers in countless numbers. There were numberless cases of Sikhs putting their womenfolk and young budding girls to bullets only to save them from the ignominies of the Muslim tribals verging on barbarity.
The tribals in complicity with the local fanatics granted reprieve to the Hindus who got converted to the faith of Islam. The process of conversion was an essential part of the whole storm of aggression ravaging the Hindus of Kashmir and other regions. The Hindu places of worship were destroyed wholehog. Even the mission edifice of St. Joseph’s Convent was ravaged, ransacked and then put to flames. In their utter religious frenzy and fury, the tribals ruthlessly killed the Assistant Mother Superior, three nuns and a British officer’s spouse. The Mother and nuns had rendered invaluable services to the Muslim residents of the Baramullah district by providing them both medicare and education. In the Islamic fashion, the invaders were merciless to all and sundry falling outside the pale of Islam. A young patriot, Maqbool Sherwani, accused of aiding and shielding the infidels, was brutally butchered. He was fastened to a post in the midst of Baramulla town, nails driven into his body and finally bullets were pumped into him. His killing was a sheer barbarity. Eleven members of a Hindu family in Bandipore, Baramulla were ruthlessly slaughtered only to satiate their thirst for the blood of infidels (kafirs).
After Baramulla was cleared of the barbarous tribals, as many as 1178 Hindu women and girls were recovered as had been kidnapped and kept in captivity, 32 thousands were converted to Islam and married by the local Muslims. As per the report of the New York Times, three thousand townsmen including four Europeans, a retired British army officer and his pregnant wife were mercilessly massacred.33
The tribal invasion launched upon Jammu and Kashmir State resulted in the displacement of 26,000 people, who were only Hindus and Sikhs. Not exceeding 6000 of them were re-settled in the areas of Uri and Baramulla. Many refugees returned to their native towns and villages only to take to their normal daily chores.34 They were not assisted by any government agency in the processes of re-settlement. Those refugees, who were provided with free rations in the city of Srinagar, did not exceed 3,600, mostly orphans, destitutes, disabled and widows. 35
West Punjab engulfed in worst-even communal carnage got denuded of Hindu population leading to their influx in mighty waves into the region of Jammu. By 1949-50, 20,000 families of such refugees were registered out of which 1823 families comprising 9115 persons were rehabilitated 36. The influx proved so mighty that Jammu soil harbours not fewer than 1.25 lack refugees, still hanging in balance. The refugees have yet to be politically rehabilitated by way of conferment of voting rights as guarnnteed by the Constitution of India. The Muslim political leaders out to maintain their political hegemony have been opposing the conferment of political rights on such refugees as have migrated from West Punjab. The rosy scenario drawn about the 1947 developments in the Valley of Kashmir was tinged murky. The tribal invasion unleashed in the name of Islam had all the ingredients of a crusade- loot, rape, murder, arson and conversion.
Without being dishonest to history, it is extremely pertinent to put that rest of the valley not marauded by the tribals, remained calm and peaceful. Sheikh Abdullah’s role in this behalf was laudable as he raised a loud voice for communal peace and harmony. Despite the forces of sabotage, no discernible damage was inflicted on the seemingly monolith of varied communities welded together for the achievement of political and economic emancipation under a democratic dispensation. To mount vigilance, local militia was raised by recruiting zealous patriots of all hues entrusted with the paramount task of keeping the saboteurs at bay. A flash of spark had the potential of blowing up the entire monolith to bits of splinters. So slender was the thread. Notes and References
1. J.L. Nehru, Discovery of India, P267. 2. Interview with Pandit Shyam Lal Saraf, a veteran freedom fighter of Kashmir, broadcast from All India Radio, Srinagar, Kashmir 3. Hari Singh Papers. 4. Administrative Reports. 1928-29-30-31-32. 5. Ibid. 6. Ibid 6. Ibid. 7. P.N. Bazaz, Inside Kashmir. 8. Martand File. 9. Administrative Reports, 1928-29-30-31-32 10. P.N.K. Bamzai, History of Kashmir. 11. Interview with Dr. Kartar Singh. 12. Administrative Reports, 1928-29-30-31. 13. Administrative Reports, 1928-29-30-31. 14. The Kashmirian Hindus had submitted a memorandum to Mahatma Gandhi regarding the Kalishree Temple dispute in 1924. 15. The representation made to Maharaja Hari Singh by the Kashmirian Hindus through Dr. R.K. Bhan. 16. Dr. R.K. Bhan was the secretary of the Association for the Upliftment of the Kashmirian Hindus. It was he who had supplied the ruler with the data of matriculates, intermediates, graduates and post-graduates without jobs and employment. At the behest of the ruler, the representative of the Kashmirian Hindus collected the data of the Hindus employed in private sector and the same was supplied and furnished to him. 17. Clancy Commission Report. 18. Ibid. 19. Saxena, Tragedy in Kashmir pp 4-9. 20. Administrative Reports 1931-32-33. 21. It was a Mother Goddess Temple located at Narayan-Sthan, now known as Naraparistan. 22. Dr. N.N. Raina retired as Head of the Department of Physics from the University of Kashmir. His book on imperialist conspiracy in Kashmir has won a lot of applause. Others who owed allegiance to the Communist Party of Kashmir were P.N. Jalali, M.L. Misri, Brij Lal Koul, H.N. Durani, O.N. Trisal, P.N. Kachru and many others. All Hindu communists despite their glorious role were left in wilderness and languished in poverty. 23. Aatish-e-Chinar by Sheikh.Abdullah. 24. P.N. Bazaz, Freedom Struggle in Kashmir, P 180. 25. Ibid. 26. Dr. Iqbal’s poem lamenting the lot of the Kashmirian Muslims who had been sold for few coins. 27. Sheikh Abdullah, Aatish-e-Chinar. 28. Sheikh’s speech at Hazuri Bagh soon after he was released from jail by the Maharaja. 29. Sheikh Abdullah, Aatish-e-Chinar. 30. Administrative Report, 1948-49. 31. P.N.K. Bamzai, History of Kashmir. 32. Ibid. 33. Administrative Report, 1948-49. 34. P.N.K. Bamzai, History of Kashmir. 35. Administrative Report, 1949-50. 36. lbid, 1950-51.
18 years have passed and still no justice have been given to these people. It seems like that massacre has just remained like a story;
Flowers were not stained with blood,
the moon with blood clots…!!!
In a far flung areas of Budgam, a village namely Sangrampora, 5Kp families weren’t able to leave there motherland due to immense love they had for Maej kashir and they believed in kashmiriyat. It was March 21 ,1997when the blood from the bodies mingled with rainwater to turn into pink puddles. 8 kashmiri pandits were taken out from their homes and were killed by unidentified gunmen..but amongst the eight person,one had a very narrow escape. According to the testimony of survivor one of the sufferer of black night survived , a 32 years old Hindu men named Ashok Pandita .
It was around 12 midnight, drizzling, when the gunmen came into the house dressed like a Indian Army Soldier.From the first house hetook Triloki Nath and his two sons outside, from the second house they took Bushan lal son of Balbadar and Sanjay son of Krishen Lal outside by bluffing them that ” Major is calling ” them. After a brief conversation, they rounded up the members of Hindu household and asked them ” Is any Muslim living nearby? ” . The pandit answered ” yes two families ” One of the gunmen replied” Thats good !! It might be benifitting you” The other members were sitting in the room and they could hear strange noise coming. Fear griped them and finally they (Pyaare Lal and Ashok Pandita) realised that all was not well and it was time for them to move outside and they saw gunmen were talking loudly and they got a slight idea that some major activity was underfoot. As soon as they reached there they were caught.The brutality act had now started forming its way they were ordered to align them in line and move into the lands ; this was the land on which the families of the Kashmiri Pandit depended for their sustainance. At one spot they were asked to remove their clothes , spectacles
but Ashok kept his watch, it had been gifted to him by his father. Avtar krishan spoke “What is our fault we have always stayed here.. We didnt even leave for Jammu..Why are you doing this to us? One of the Pandit, Sanjay started to plead with the militants “Please leave us..we have small children..What have we done?? He begged!! One of the militants hit him with his gun and abused him.” Then Sanjay tried his best to take advantage of the situation and jumped off bumpy land and suddenly militants cocked their rifles and began the indiscriminate firingand Sanjay was shot deadfollowed with other men.Before they disappeared, the militants kicked the bodies to check if anyone was still breathing.But they missed Ashok Pandita and he survived . He was shot in the leg and had heldhis breath while they were checking. Due to the turbulence of the rifles the next door villagers came and helped them out. They took Ashok Pandita back to the home but failed to provide him any medical aid due to the lack of facilities at that time. Treatment was provided to him after police came at 7 Am in the morning. 2.5 Hb was left till the time he was taken for a medical aid. He was being admitted in the hospital for 6 months and till now the problem isprevailing….
Living in 25 years of exile our community have forgoten our festivals too . Here Koshur blogger would like to reminds us our cultural festival .
Today is Telah aetham:This is a festival held on the 8th day of the bright fortnight of Phalguna month of the lunar calendar. In effect it is the culmination of the Shivaratri festivities as also bidding adieu to the shivering winter. To begin with, pooja is offered at home and a number of lamps are lit. lamps are made from outer covering walnuts. These lamps are taken to the river bank and floated on grass bases in the river after the prescribed pooja. Afterwards, old firepots, Kangris , are filled with grass. A long rope is tied to its handle and fire is lit in it. Then the kangri is moved round and round in circles rhythmically till the whole kangri bums down. Then it is hurled faraway into the waters of the flowing river. While doing so the children cry out, ‘zat tu toon, zat tu toon ‘; meaning that it is a flame, it is burning.
hope kashmiri pandits will celebrate festival to keep our cultural festival alive
Here is famous Rigvedic Verse that says “Ekam Sat ” that is “There is one Being ,the sages call Him by many names.” The God (Parmeshwar) has three deities who carry on the world .This is Known as Holy Trinity. Brahma- the creator, Vishnu – the perpetuator of life and Shiva (Mahesh ) -the purifier and perpetuator of good and destroyer of evil.
The Yajurveda describes Shiva as a scetic warrior Whose robe is of Deer Skin and He carries Trishul .
The Legend about the importance of Amarnath Cave is as follows :- This is The Cave which was chosen by Bhole Shankar for narrating the secrets of immortality and creation of Universe to Maa Parvati ji . The story goes like this . Centuries ago Maa Parvati asked Shiv ji to let her know why and when He started wearing the beads of heads ( Mund Mala) . Bhole Shankar replied when ever you are born I add one more head in my beads . Maa Parvati said ,” My Lord, my body is destroyed every time and I die again and again, but you are Immortal. Please let me know the secret of this .” Bhole Shankar replied that it is due to Amar Katha .”
Maa Parvati insisted that she may be told that secret. For long Shiva ji continued postponing . Finally on consistent demand from Maa Parvati He made up his mind to tell the immortal secret . He started for lonely place where no living being could listen it . He choose Amarnath Cave . In preparation to that He left His Nandi ( The Bull which He used to ride ) at Pahalgam (Bail gaon) . At Chandanwari He released Moon from his hairs (Jataon). At the banks of Lake Sheshnag He released the snakes . He decided to leave his Son Ganesha at Mahagunas Parvat (Mahaganesh Hill ) . At Panjtarni, Shivji left the Five Elements behind (Earth , Water, Air , Fire and Sky) which make living being . He is the Lord of these elements. It is believed that as a symbol of sacrificing the earthly world , Shivaji and Maa Parvati had Tandav Dance . After leaving behind all these, Bhole Shankar enters the Holy Amarnath Cave along with Parvati Maa . Lord Shiva takes his Samadhi on the Deer Skin and concentrate . To ensure that no living being is able to hear the Immortal Tale , He created Rudra named Kalagni and ordered him to spread fire to eliminate every living thing in and around the Holy Cave . After this He started narrating the secret of immortality to Maa Parvati . But as a matter of chance one egg which was lying beneath the Deer skin remained protected . It is believed to be non living and more over it was protected by Shiva -Parvati Asan (Bed) . The pair of pigeons which were born out of this egg became immortal having listened the secret of immortality (Amar Katha).
Many pilgrims report seeing the pair of pigeons when they trek the arduous route to pay their obeisance before the Ice-Lingam (the phallic symbol of Shiva).