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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Mughal Enters Kashmir -3

In Ain – i -Akbari, Abul Fazal has mentioned : ” On all sides, mountains that raise their heads to heaven, act as sentinels. Though there are six or seven roads, yet in all of them there are places where if some old women rolled down stones, the bravest of the men could not pass. On this account, former princes did not think of conquering it and prudence turned them away from such a wish.”

This naturally built fortress, fell in Akbar’s hands relatively effortlessly. Definately, the major cause was superior might of Mughal empire but that really was not the solo reason. Truthfully, the people of Kashmir, had been immensely perturbed with chaotic administration by the Sultans. The defence of borders on passes had been badly neglected. Hence, the majority of  Kashmiris wishes from inside of their hearts to help the invaders.

Even before Emperor Akbar’s annexation of Kashmir to Mughal empire, his forefathers had treated Kashmir, as part of their regime. First, Kamran held it for the few months in 1531 and later, Mirza Haider on behalf of Emperor Humayun ruled Kashmir from 1541 to 1551, but the Kashmir’s perception still remained independent. It was only in 1589, Kashmir became province of the Mughal empire.

Mughals ruled Kashmir through a Governor known as Subedar. Though the region was  constantly imperiled by floods and famines, the atmosphere of peace began settling in and it eventually led to progressive economic stability.

Kashmir became hub of Central Asian trade. The  significant effect of ascending economic growth was, due to Kashmir’s connectivity with the mainland Bharat. Earlier, during natural calamities, the region used to be completely cut off from the rest of the nation and people suffered drastically in large numbers. Kashmir faced acute famine, during the regime of Ali Shah Chak, in 1576-78 and almost half of its population died or migrated but in similar situation, during the mammoth floods in 1638, under Shah Jahan’s rule, foodgrains could be brought from Punjab, through the two roads built over the Pir Panjal and Jhelum Valley passes.

Emperor Akbar himself visited Kashmir valley thrice, first in 1589, then in 1598 and again in 1601. The policies  implemented by him, were marked with  generosity for common Kashmiri, hence the state on the verge of anarchy, was saved from devastation.

Akbar promoted various initiatives creating peaceful growth engine for Kashmiris. A detailed programme was launched to re-settle Kashmiri Hindus, on their indigenous terrain under the leadership of extremely astounding Kashmiri Hindu, named Aaditya Pandit. He was appointed as president of the department, especially created for this. Some piece of land, had been assigned, free of cost for settling Kashmiri Hindus.

The artefacts manufactured in Kashmir, could reach out to outer markets and Kashmiri businessmen could extend their markets till Central Asia. This facilitated Kashmiri Hindus and enhanced their economic growth.

The dominance of Kashmiri Hindus began accelerating in administrative matters.

Emperor Akbar eliminated the unjust Jazia Tax, levied on Hindus, which enabled them to travel across nation  freely. The Kashmiri Hindu Pandits started participating in  philosophical discourse, along with Muslim counterparts. 

Post Emperor Akbar’s regime, his son and heir Jahangir was coronated on Delhi throne. He too, was extremely awestruck by  Kashmir’s beauty and serenity. The Subedars appointed by him, also maintained esteemed conduct with Kashmiri Hindus.

Jahangir, appointed them as chief of Border security forces. The commander named, Miru Pandit, was assigned the task of heading security forces of Jahangir’s sweetheart NoorJanha. Once, Emperor Jahangir was beleaguered by rebellion commander Mohabbat Khan and his troupe. Miru Pandit, along with his colleagues fought with Mohabbat Khan and defeated him.

As per historian Muhammad-Din-Faque, “Witnessing this astonishing bravery and efficient army movement  of Miru Pandit, Jahangir presented him with Kashmir in Jaagir and appointed him as the president commander for securing forts.”

Emperor Jahangir, so immensely in love with picturesque Kashmir, that he kept visiting it again and again.

In his memoir, he has paid glittering tribute : ” Kashmir is a garden of eternal spring, a delightful flowerbed and heart-expanding heritage for ‘dervishes’. It’s pleasant meads and enchanting cascades are beyond all description. There are running streams and fountains beyond count.”

Jahangir’s son Shah Jahan was equally fascinated by Kashmir. He too, visited 

 several times and it was during their times (Jahangir and Shah Jahan), that world famous Mughal gardens were developed in Kashmir, like Nishat, Shalimar, Chashme Shahi, Achabal and Pari Mahal.

Along with developing tranquil locals, both the emperors, introduced elements of leisure and festivity in the depressing atmosphere, generated since the last year’s of local Sultans.

The “festival of roses” was initiated by Emperor Jahangir and Noor Jahan.

Shah Jahan was captivated by exquisite architectural creations but a notable fact was – that each of the sculptures created had Mughal impact on design. The magnificent art and architecture of Kashmir’s ancient aboriginals, that belonged to  pre Mughal era, also become extinct!!!.

Unfortunately, the Hindu legacy of Arts and Crafts, Food, dressing and lifestyle came under Mughal influence.

Shah Jahan visited Kashmir, Six to Seven times. During his entire tenure, he invariably elevated movements of Islamic preachers and initiated construction of new mosques but his “secular” eyes completely overlooked and ignored re-construction of devastated Hindu temples, Buddhist Maths and Vihars as well as Libraries containing Hindu and Buddhist ancient scriptures!!!

During Shah Jahan’s era, Kashmiri Pandits were appointed on important positions but it erupted venom among significant Muslims. They began politicking conspiracy against prominent Kashmiri Pandits, acquiring noteworthy posts.

Kashmir’s Governor Ali Mardaan, had appointed Hindu leader, Pandit Mahadev as his main consultant and handed him all the rights for governing the region. 

The capability, capacity and efficiency of Pandit Mahadev, turned out to be his adversary and the top ladder Muslims became his for.

Around the same time, Kashmir faced grave famine. Pandit Mahadev, utilised his optimum resources, provided all kind of aid to the famine-struck but even the shortfall could not be filled and huge population in the area, list their lives.

The Muslim leaders used this impairment against Pandit Mahadev and exploded callous whirlwind against him. One Muslim leader, Khwaaja Maaff, attacked Pandit Mahadev’s home, along with few of his colleagues and demolished his house, inside out and burnt it to ashes.

Such dumbfounding event, ignited huge communal tensions, destroying house of all Hindus in neighbourhood.

As soon as this news reached Shah Jahan in Delhi, he called over the rebel Muslim leaders for communication but it was already too late and the Emperor himself, was unable to punish the criminals.

Emperor Shahjahan was enormously attached to reposeful beauty of Kashmir, that Persian poet Urfi has portrayed   amazingly…

“अगर फिरदौस बर रूए जमी अस्त।

हमीं अस्त हमीं अस्त हमीं अस्त ।।

He penns that : If there is a heaven on earth, than it is here, in Kashmir, in Kashmir, in Kashmir..

But, this entire anecdote presents an important perspective. 

This quaint and charming region is not heavenly, just due to cool breezy valley, tranquil streams and sky-touching majestic mountains but it’s been addressed as “Devbhoomi” during ancient era,  as it is the birthplace of humanitarian doctrines like  Cultural values, Religious harmony and Co-existence.

But, the idea of heaven for Mughal rulers was limited to tangible beauty and the grandness of inner affluence, hardly created any permanent footprint in their souls.

Sources of Information :

हमारी भूलोका स्मारक : धर्मांतरित कश्मीर

नरेंद्र सहगल

My Frozen Turbulence in Kashmir

Jagmohan ji

Kashmir Behind The Vale

M J Akbar

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