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Kashmir, The Paradise on Earth and its affluent cultural heritage

About 1500 years ago, current Afghanistan, Turkestan (Turkey), Baluchistan, Western Punjab, Bengal including major regions of South-East Asia followed Vedic Hinduism. Kashmir, the scenic region on the Himalayan border, was a largely Hindu state, till 700 years back. The same population, later converted to Islam. Till they were Hindus, they were staunch Gaurakshak and temple bells rang incessantly spreading the divine tune of peace.


The various sects like Buddhist Darshan, Vaishnav Darshan, Shaiva Darshan, Nagpuja Darshan, and different methods of worship were thriving but they co-existed harmoniously with one another as every sect had their deep roots originated from Bharatiya culture.
The Nilamata Purana (नीलमत पुराण) also known as Kasmira Mahatmay, is an ancient text, written in 6th to 8th century CE) and it contains information on its history, geography, folklore, and religion.

क: प्रजापतिरुदिष्ट : कश्यपश्च प्रजापति :।
तेनेद निरमितं देश कशमिरारव्य भविष्यति।।
(पहले-पहल प्रजापतिकश्यप ने अति घोर तपस्या से कश्मीर का निर्माण किया था।)
-Nilamata Puran (page 292)

As per Nilamata Puran, a deluge in the Northern region, near the Himalayan mountain range, submerged the entire area.

Later, the rest of the region, returned to normalcy except a region, in the Northern sphere, in the lap of the Himalayas. The submerged region had formed a huge lake. In meanwhile, a Volcano explosion, underneath the lake, caused rifts in the surrounding mountain range on the bank of the lake, and the water engulfed in the lake, flew out, forming an extremely picturesque land.
As this region was created of volcano explosion and strength of fire is considered as “Sati” as per the Puranas, the region was named “SatiDesh”…

नौ देहेन सती देवी भूमिभर्वात पार्थिव ।
सतीदेश इति ख्यात देवक्रीड मनोहरम ।।

According to Nilamat Purana, part of Kashmir valley was a glacial lake known as Satisar during the Rigvedic period. This glacial lake was formed in Kashmir Valley during the period of Meltwater Pulse 1A around 12700-11500 BCE. The closed Varahmulla (Baramulla) pass was holding the melted waters of the glacier.
Hari Parvat of current Srinagar was also under this glacial lake. Pishachas (a tribe of the early Rigvedic period) were habitants of this region. They supported the Asura king of Hariyupiya (Harappa), who was blessed with immortality by Brahma hence, he continued with his demonic conduct towards the Nagas and the other humans in the valley.


Around 11200 BCE, a massive earthquake and following explosion of a volcano created a massive rift in the Baramulla pass.
Sage Kashyap was the son of Rishi Marichi (Manas Putra of Creator Brahma) and his wife Kala and had married thirteen daughters of Daksh Prajapati named Aditi, Dipti, Kadru, Danu, Arishta, Surasa, Surabhi, Vinata, Tamra, Krodhavasha, Ira, Vidhwa, and Muni.
Parvati (Sati), the daughter of Daksh Prajapati, requested her brother-in-law Rishi Kashyap to come to this region and purify the area of Panchala Giri. (Pir Panjal region). Rishi Kashyap came to the Anantnag area of Pir Panjal hills accompanied by his son Nila Naga (also known as Viranaga). Nilanaga or Viranaga defeated Pishachas. Later on, Kashyap Rishi decided to make this area worth habitation for people and his team of laborers and workmen began cutting and leveling the land.


Everything was completed successfully but there was a need for a canal to siphon out the water. Rishi Kashyap sought assistance from Lord Shiva, who immediately sent a team of experts. Sage Kashyap requested Lord Shiva to inaugurate digging. Lord Shiva inaugurated the digging by striking the earth with his trident. A river flowed out of it and it came to be known as ‘Vitasta’, the current Jhelum, originating from the Vering spring in the Pir Panjal range.
Similarly, Rishi Kashyap requested Devi Lakshmi to flow down from the heavens. Goddess Lakshmi cascaded as the Veshaw river and Mata Saraswati flowed down as the Rumbiara river. These rivers started irrigating and creating cultivable land. The civilization took hold in this barren and frozen land.


Kashyap Rishi sent invitations across Bharat to come and settle in the new region. People belonging to different castes and communities and from the various spheres, like industrialists, artisans, farmers, vaid, engineers, teachers, workers came forth to settle in this newly developed terrain. Everyone was allotted land to build their homes. Within no time an entire township with Temples (of various religious sects), roads, Gurukuls, Villages and Cities were established. Sage Kashyap invited learned Brahmins to settle there. That is how Kashmiri Pundits became inhabitants of the region.
The jewel of Kashmir, the Dal Lake, and its four basins-Gagribal, Lokut Dal, Bod Dal, and Niven-are famous for their floating vegetable gardens and colorful Shikaras. The largest freshwater Lake -Wular- also contributes to the fertility of the Valley.
According to Christopher Snedden, an Australian political scientist, who has authored a number of books on Kashmir, the name of Kashmir could have been shortened form of “Kashyapa Mir” or “Lake of the sage Kashyap “. Alternatively, it may have been derived from the Kashmiri or the Sanskrit term that means “to dry up water”. It also could have been implied as “Kashyap Meru” meaning the sacred mountains of Kashyap.


After the entire work was completed, the question arose as to who should be entrusted with the task of running the government in the state. Neel, son of sage Kashyap was unanimously selected and declared the ruler. Thus, Neel became the first ruler of Kashmir. He handled the state administration extremely efficiently. People of the state were joyous, contended, and flourishing. The panoramic beauty of the state attracted many people from far and wide. King Neel welcomes them with open arms.


Once, Lord Indra with his wife Shachi visited Kashmir. One evening, when Indra and Shachi were busy in pleasant conversation while walking on the bank of the lake enjoying the cool breeze, a demon attacked them and trying to kidnap Shachi. Indra killed him with his weapon and then they left for their state.
After the incident, the patrol party of King Neel saw a child weeping beside the body of the demon. The petrol party handed him to king Neel. Since the child was picked up from the water-splashed bank of the lake, Neel named him Jalodbhav. Neel dedicatedly tried to imbibe in him the Bharatiya values and nationalism and merge him with the mainstream of Kashmir. But Jalodbhav would shun qualities of patriotism and social service. The demonic traits in him did not allow him to adjust to the peaceful co-existence. Similar rabble-rousers from the surrounding states encouraged this anti-national mindset.
With his full strength, Jalodbhav concentrated on destroying the mutual love and respect-oriented culture of Kashmir. Kashmiris began migrating to other regions, leaving behind their thriving businesses and property. Jalodbhav and his tyrant gang, dancing on the tunes of tormentor outlanders, traumatized the people belonging to Gandhar, Abhisar, Juhundar, Shak, Khan, Tarang, Mandav, Madr, Antargiri, and Bahigiri sects.


King Neel faced the situation with all his might but failed to control it. He tried to stop the migration of patriotic citizens from Kashmir but most felt it was sensible to move to another land and escape the dance of destruction started by Jalodbhav. Sage Kashyap was away on pilgrimage. When he received the news of prevailing nihilism and mobocracy, ignited by foreign conspiracies, he returned back immediately. After taking stock of the situation, he encouraged Neel to hand over Kashmir to the army. He initiated strict action against those who had destroyed the peace of the land, raped women, tyrannized the citizen, and indulged in the killing. Kasyap Rishi also arranged for the honorable return of patriotic citizens who were forced to migrate.


Jalodbhav was raised and brought up as their own kin but due to his oppressive persecution of innocent people, Kashyap Rishi adopted the non-appeasement policy to root out the demonic band surrounded by Jalodbhav. Kashyap Rishi requested Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu’s help. They reached Kashmir along with their forces. Jalodbhav and his followers hid in their hideouts from where they would adopt hit and run policy against the army. The army cordoned off the entire area infested with such terrorist activities by Jalodbhav. Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Sage Kashyap, and Vasuki commanded the troops from all four corners. Jalodbhav and his followers were hiding in the pond when found to be surrounded by the army. They emerged out to flee from their hide-outs to flee but were met with a rain of sharp arrows and each one met with fatal death. On seeing Jalodbhav, Lord Vishnu beheaded him with his Chakrayudh. The death of Jalodbhav led to the end of anti-national elements in Kashmir. King Neel was re-throned again. All the displaced people returned back to their Motherland, Kashmir, in full protection and honor.
This is the saga that depicts the emergence of our paradise on earth. The epic apprises us about the land which originated from Vedic cultural roots and had imbibed in it, the essence of Bharat and its heritage of Bharatiya values.

We all know history is never kind.

It illuminates the teachings from the era gone by, in context with the present, and becomes a guiding light for current times. The history is being repeated now. Currently, Separatists promoting terrorism in heaven on earth are symbols of Jalodbhav of yesteryears. Their intention and objective to demolish the tranquility of Kashmir can not be condoned.
Authentic sources of Kashmir history are Nilamata Purana (compiled in 500-600 CE) and Rajtarangini (1150 CE). Kalhana, Kashmir’s very own historian has compiled all the 8000 Sanskrit verses of which were completed by 1150 CE, and chronicles the history of Kashmir’s dynasties from Mahabharata times to 12th-century CE. 4600 years of history and a complete list of Kashmir kings in Rajtarangini (River of Kings).


This historical literature portrays the monumental contribution of various sects prevalent in Kashmir’s soil such as Shaiva, Vaishnav, Naag, Bauddh, Pishach, Sayyed, Guhjk, Shia, Sunni, Chakra, Pathan, Dogra, Christian, Sikh, and Mughal. The ideology and beliefs of each of these sects may have been different but Kashmir soil inspired peaceful co-existence among them.

This has been the true portrayal of Kashmiriyat.

In Bharat, There has been pluralism in nature of various linguistic groups residing in different regions, following distinctively different religious methods, customs, eating habits, and lifestyles. Bharat’s method of governance may be based on Federal structure but each region is inseparably connected as Pearl of a single string. The string is Bharat.
Kashmir, Bengal, Assam, Punjab, Tamilnadu, etc. flourish as they are interrelated for socio-economic growth. Imagine, a garden with plentiful flowers. A variety of flowers adorn the beauty of the garden. If any flower decides to signify its separate identity and decides to branch out of the garden, its beauty would diminish. Similarly, every region of one nation would progress, if work harmoniously. 
Kashmiriyat is the essence of various sects like Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Buddhism, Naag Pooja sect, a Sufi sect, etc that have thrived in Kashmir. Those chanting “Kashmiriyat” today must know that the blood that flows in their veins is an inheritance from their Hindu forefathers who have cherished this land called Kashmir for the last 11,500 years…
Let’s talk of Kashmiriyat as an integral part of Bharatiyata.

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