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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The religious and cultural heritage in Kashmir

“ज़रॉ जरॉ हैं मेरे कश्मीर का मेहमाँनवाज़ ।
राह में पत्थर के टुकड़ों ने दिया पानी मुझे ।।”

(Each molecule of Kashmiri soil is seeped in hospitality. Not just Lakes and Lagoons but every stone of Kashmir’s earth has quenched my thirst..

Do I need to say anything more for Kashmiris…?
-Pandit Brijnarayan Chakbast

The above mentioned heartwarming couplet depicts greatness of each particle of Kashmiri soil…
The sons of this pious land had once presented direction to the entire world through their deep rooted spiritual cognizance welcoming seekers from far and wide with open arms and showed the path of joyous and fulfilled life.
Bharatiya culture has a long tradition of welcoming positivity and Kashmir has been foremost in accomplishing it.

Land of Kashmir has nurtured the various Spiritual beliefs such as Bauddhism, Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Nag Puja darshan and flowered them and presented them to to the world for enrichment of human kind without any discrimination.

Dr. Raghunath Sinh, has written in the commentary on Rajtarangini by Kalhana, about astounding features of Kashmiriyat.
He writes, ”There was no distinction or differentiation between foreigners and Kashmiris. The kings of Kashmir have always provided shelter to foreigners as well as helped them financially, bestowing honour. They have grown following their own religious beliefs. Kashmiris did not express malevolence against any religion or sect, nor did they have resentment or bitterness towards followers of other religions. They absolutely did not oppose or disrespect heretical religious ways as well as dissenting lifestyles of schismatic.
Buddhism and Shaivism co-existed in Kashmir till Fourteenth century but never did they have any dispute with each other. Neither the Buddhists caused any interference in the administration nor resorted to conspiracy.
Various religious sects and beliefs flowered and flourished in the Kashmir Valley. The journey resulted in revolution but these revolutions were far from blood shedding revolutions like Western countries.

The meaning and motive of revolutions in Western countries was based on the idea of throwing away the existing system through resorting to violence.

The revolutions on Bharatiya soil were subjected to bringing inclusive change, without destroying the existence of earlier prevalent values and systems. Bharatiya culture believed in addition of values and brought about harmonious communion between traditional beliefs and innovative ideas. Such a change was beyond fricative and cemented the credence of “honour to each faith”.
This is a true portrayal of Bharatiya culture, which reflects as “Kashmiriyat “ within the boundaries of Kashmir.
Nag Pooja Sect :
Kashmir’s first king Neel Naga, who was Rishi Kashyap ‘s son belonged to the Naga community and during his regime, the religious practice of Naag Puja and related philosophy garnered prominence.

Later, various religious beliefs began burgeoning in Kashmir but none of the sects imposed their supremacy over others and most importantly, in pre-Vedic era, Kashmir never witnessed any scuffle amongst them.

Buddhism began its journey in Kashmir during Samrat Ashok’s reign, in the middle of the Third century CE.
The Buddhist philosophy is based on the doctrine of self sacrifice. It asserts, ”Sacrifice brings happiness. Happiness brings an end to greed. Non-Violence is the ultimate route to happiness.”
During the rule of Samrat Ashok, these various philosophical thoughts gained momentum and were spreaded widely. Samrat Ashok also built the religious infrastructure such as Baudh Vihar, Math-Temple and numerous Kashmiri Buddhist sages travelled to far away lands for quenching the spiritual thirst of Humanity.
Kashmir has been a quintessential example of CO-existence of various philosophical thoughts and practices, in ancient times. When Buddhism stepped on Kashmiri soil, the Brahmins, who were deeply involved in religious practices, remained unaltered and continued their pious traditions. Samrat Ashok, who was a staunch follower of Buddhism, used to perform Pooja in Shiva temples in order to gain acceptance from Brahmins.

(Rajtarangini-1, page 102 to 107.)

Buddhism remained relevant in Kashmir till 638 CE. But, this did not shake the foundation of Sanatan dharma in any way. After Samrat Ashok his son Jalauk came to power and he was ardent Shiv Bhakt. During his rule, Shaivism reentered Kashmir.
But escalation of Shaivism remained purely polemic where peaceful coexistence with other religious practise was preserved. Jalouk himself followed the principle of non-violence and he had imposed a ban on animal slaughter. Around 80% of Hindus in Kashmir followed Shaivism. Shaivism has been the soul of Kashmiri Hindu lifestyle.
Shaivism philosophy based on Sacrifice and Yog. Kashmiri scholars comprehended the mastery of Shaivism taught the entire Bharatvarsh. 
It is believed that Ramanuj, a Vaishnav saint, was compelled to travel from Madras to Kashmir for philosophical discourse.
Kashmir was an affluent Center containing literature on shaivism.

Additionally, Bhagwan Vishnu and other deities were worshipped too. Number of people were Devibhakt and worshipped Mata. Apart from these, numerous Kashmiris followed Occultism.

Every family following Sanatan Dharma. They worshiped one or more than one of four Devi, named Sharika, Ranna, Jwala and Bala in pre-Vedic Kashmir.
Shaivism depicts the saga of the entire journey of human life and the road to climbing ascending heightening in course of life. Bhagwan Shiv manifests household and family bonding, Farming, Crusade, Independence, Yog, Spiritual growth, Recentation, solidarity and communion.
Sufism entered Kashmir in Fourteenth century. Sufi saint Sayyed Ali Humdaani (Faras) came to Kashmir along with his 700 disciples. Sufi saints came to Kashmir with the sole intention of religious conversion of people of Kashmir. Kashmiris welcomed their preaching like one more variety of flower added to their garden.
Sufism advocates devoutness, straightforwardness, austerity, piousness as per Quran. Sufism describes Jihad as repression over materialistic quest and to fight the obnoxious traits within. The creator of Sufi belief depicts that God does not have physical identity but a person can successfully bond with God through his very own inviolability and rumination. God has created humans for his own embodiment. Hence, humans, according to Sufism, are a semblance of God.
The people of Kashmir, wholeheartedly accepted the distinguished Sufi saints and revered them as illustrious leaders and their noteworthy preachings became the undercroft of Kashmiriyat.

Still, the fact remains that the initiation of conversion by Sufi saints, centuries ago, has been wounding Kashmir, like Cancer. During the middle of the Fourteenth century, Kashmir became the epicentre of the “Rishi Sect”.
The Rishi sect was Spiritual organisation as a result of efforts by Sanyasini Laalde and Shaikh Nuruddin. The spread of their preachings reached the nook and corner of rural areas of Kashmir. Abul Fazal, a Muslim saint, who later on became integral part of ‘Rishi sect’ had said, “The immensely respected social class of Kashmir, is that of Rishi. Though they have not abandoned the traditional customs of worship, they have been genuine votary, who refrained from seeking worldly materialistic pursuits, remain single (unmarried) and did not partake Meat. These sages (Rishi), in real sense, created Kashmir into Paradise. Their preachings were selfless and lacked any selfish goal, their conduct did not have any pompousness and their goals were restrained.”

The valley of Kashmir is famed around the world for its mystical and magical beauty. Christened as “Paradise on the Earth), Kashmir is admired for its lush green valley, rolling woods ringed by snow-capped mountains, crisscrossed by rivers and studded with lakes, its rich profusion of trees and flowers and fruits.

But, the magic of Kashmir does not end here. The picturesque valley was bestowed with grandeur, power and riches beyond imagination. The antiquity of the monuments and various architectural structures tell tales of rich legacy and refined sense of culture and art.
The Nilamata Purana, the earliest text on Kashmir, tells a tale of the creation of a scenic piece of land from what was a deep sea-like lake. To give credence to the story, palaeontologists have discovered coral and other marine fossils from the valley. Owing to its sacred origin, the valley is also known as Rishi Wari and abounds in temples and other places of worship.

But time, natural calamities and change in rulers have left many of the beautiful temples in ruins.


हमारी भूलोका स्मारक-धर्मान्तरित कश्मीर : नरेन्द्र सहेगा

राजतरंगिनी- कल्हान

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