Kashmiri Pandits Not Kashmiri Hindus || by Bhushan Parimoo || LIVE IMAGE

Our community for several centuries  are  known as Kashmiri Pandits  world over .The torch bearers of learning and dispensing knowledge  in very facets of life   that concern the human being inter alia the whole biosphere.Never  in  the contemporary  history   concerning to us have been  mentioned as  Kashmiri Hindus.In fact the entire literature pertaining to  Kashmir from medieval to  the current times  is referred  as Kashmiri Pandits or Kashmiri Brahmins.However , since  last couple of years Kashmiri Pandits are being  called  Kashmiri Hindus.

The revised  nomenclature is fraught with suspicion.This reminds of  the name changes like Takht-e-Suleiman  for Shankaracharya and Kohi-Maran for Hari Parbat.Are we in for identity change and its dilution for   some similar designs  of subversion?Worrisome   how overnight   became  Kashmiri Hindus from Kashmiri Pandits and Why? 

Religion has been a dominating aspect of life in Kashmir from time immemorial . Various religions have seeped into Kashmiri society. To begin with , Kashmir in the hoary past followed the  Nagamat. That gave way to Buddhism in the 3rd-4th century. Buddhism was replaced by the Saivites in the 9th century. 

However the most powerful religious convulsion came in the 14th century when most Kashmiri Hindu population converted to Islam. Thus it is evident that Kashmiri society has always been in some kind of religious transition. Kashmiri Pandits  are Sawarsat Brahmins ardent followers  of Shaivism, the oldest living religion in the world? Kashmir Shaivism or Trika Shaivism  is a non dualistic  tradition  of Shiva-Shakti . 

Which originated sometime after 850 CE worship of Shiv and Shakti  continues  till date? Where the traditions and philosophies are assimilated in the non-Vedic Shiva-tradition as a creator and destroyer of worlds. Believes  in superiority of knowledge (gyana) over ritual (karma) looks beyond divisions that create dualities (dvaita) and affirms non-duality (advaita). Wisdom is seen here as the tool to transcend caste .Shivling or Lingam the union of mind and soul. 

According to the Linga  Purana, the  Lingam is a complete symbolic representation of the formless Universe Bearer – the oval-shaped stone is the symbol of the Universe, and the bottom base represents the Supreme Power that holds the entire Universe in it. Kashmiri Pandits have  retained its   character   despite being  subjected to  state sponsored onslaught for  centuries .Which  resulted in more than half a dozen forced migrations to safeguard  the faith   at all costs  . 

That has been the reason Kashmir Shaivism has survived  till date . Those who migrated from time to time have carried  and protected Shaivism in letter and spirit  with all rituals and traditions  . Sawarswat Brahimins over the passage of time came down from the Himalayas towards south. Goa  is one of  the main places   of their deities and covers the entire Konkan belt.Slowly it spread   to other places in the  southern  part far and wide Worst phase of history has been observed during King Harshas  and the Skinderbudh   Shikan a persian word  for  the destroyers of the Idols continued till  end of Afghan rule  a longest prosecution in the world history.

However, this great religious wealth of Kashmiri Pandits   lay dormant and unknown throughout the Muslim era in the Kashmir history. But the minority Kashmiri Pandit community  preserved its doctrine in several  manuscripts written in Sanskrit. However, at the popular level, Kashmir Saivism survived through its practitioners.They  performed and lived its expositions as their way of life.  

They breathed Kashmir Saivism in and out all their lives so much so that even during the tyrant Afghan rule in Kashmir, this idolatry religious philosophy could not be exterminated   from the lives of these aboriginal Pandits. 

However,  it was not until the fourth quarter of the 19th century that the world outside Kashmir came to know of this great indigenous religious philosophy of Kashmir through the literary expedition of that great German indophile Georg Buhler. 

Who  collected Sanskrit manuscripts in Kashmir in 1875, Buhler was ably supported in his mission by the then Dogra Maharaja, Ranbir Singh. In the end, Buhler collected three hundred Sanskrit manuscripts from Kashmir which included a rich cache of Saiva texts. 

It was this undertaking of Buhler that actually brought the corpus of Kashmir Saiva texts to the attention of the world. Before that, the world was practically oblivious of this great philosophy. Once this religious wealth of Kashmir came to light, it was left to the enlightened vision of the Dogras who undertook to search for all the  rest of surviving manuscripts of Kashmir Saivism. 

It was mainly during the enlightened rule of Maharaja Pratap Singh that the entire corpus of Saiva texts of Kashmir were discovered and in the following decades till India's independence  as many as 90 of these texts were published between 1911 and 1947 by the  Department of Research, Museum and Archaeology of the State under the Kashmir Series of Sanskrit Texts.

Dogras   being Suryavanshi, introduced the Ram Cult along with the Bhagavad Gita, philosophy here in the valley for the first time . At the same time  Dogra rulers  encouraged the inquest of our ancient history, culture, and Faith traditions.   The religion one professes   emerges not by choice but   from the family where birth takes place. 

Universal   truth  that gives hardly any room to disagree. Wherever conversation  takes place , when one is independent to do so or forced  by the circumstance .Again  their siblings  shall carry the faith of parents , till another conversation may take place in the family.

There is hardly any evidence a family professes the  religion of choice more than one. Read once in erstwhile Yugoslavia, in one family brother and sister living in the same house profess two different  Religions.Shri Adi Shankracharya,  traveled across India on his return from Kashmir established a Mutt Sringeri Sharada Peetham in Chikkamagalur district, Karnataka. 

Thereafter three more were established Badrikashram Jyotirpeeth in the north, Dwarka's Shardha Peeth in the west, Govardhan Peetha in Puri in the east said to have established the various akharas of hermits who were told to use their knowledge and their physical and yogic powers to protect Shivism. Kashmir Mutt remained an unfinished task,  as he died young at the age of 32. 

This writer is of the firm view that faith   is a matter of personal choice. To follow it as ordained to worship and perform the rituals  in complete letter and spirit,  follower religiously as told. There is nothing to be read between the lines, deviation, dilution or short cuts as suits one or desire so.

Either carry faith as scripture or leave it.Faith can be judged by those who has  devoted  entire life to read, understand , feel and experience and followed by its worshipers, in  its complete devotion .It has become a fashion these days to challenge rituals, strictly ordained to follow, in the court of law. Indulgence tantamount to sacrilegious act. God cannot come to defend, his representation is pleaded through scriptures  centuries old followed in sincerity.  

Kashmir Shaivism, after post 1947, has been found  in a waning phase day after  day. Need was to establish , as Adi Shancreacrya   established various Ashram for Hermits  to impart knowledge of Kashmir Shaivism  and preserve , protect and  propagate far and wide. Efforts of Swami Lakhman joo Ashram, after Swami  ji attained nirvana, has somehow kept it a float. it is painful to observe  that  Shaivsm  has been subjected to neglect with resulted in its  dilution  got  corrupt under scheme of things, brought Sain Baba, Tirupati Temple in its place all the more Baba Amarnath yatra the hallmark of our faith in summer and Saivratri in winter,  is taken in a lakidiscal manner. Never in the entire history of Shaviasm in the valley, it has been so blatantly fiddled  with  , for some time now. 

As per ritual and tradition Chadi Muark,   the Holy Mac  has to have the first Darshan of Baba Amarnath followed by others who make  pilgrimage , which painful by the Kashmiri Pandits is resented and call it sacrilegious , a bad practice and the omen.Follow tradition as  carried over centuries unless there is any  reference to do as one lies, faith  after all is not a fum or joy making it the devotion as ordained.. These days it has become fun travel, hurting the sentiments  dear to KP.Shrine board should have on its board Sawrsat Brahmins exclusive, on whose advice the Governor should decide how to conduct. Moreover it should establish  a remaining task of Adi Shancreacrya     to establish a Mutt. 

It requires mention of a Shiva Lingam, at Barammul  the southern  gateway to Kashmir .There used to a large Sarai, on the right side of the river Jhelum  at Khadanyar, for the non native travelers, only on left side of  the river opposite Khadanyar  is a Durga Temple known as  Devibal  native had  free access from here the main route .

Al-Biruni Was first outside to be allowed the Devibal route. He was  an Iranian scholar "founder of Indology", "Father of Comparative Religion"and the first anthropologist He travelled to the Indian subcontinent in 1017. He explored the  faith practiced in India and authored a study of Indian culture Tārīkh al-Hind (History of India). 

There stands in the heart of town at a place called Ushkar, Kanilbagh unattended, tall , huge in size, a Shivling, the most magnificent, the tallest & the fattest Shivling in Kanibag @ Baramula.

It's more than 13 tall & has a Garth of about 30 feet  of Pir Panjal formation   stone deep dark in color. Over centuries now in the open reminding great ethos of the faith of Kashmiri Pandits.At the same time  one of the many examples how Kashmiri Pandits of present generation take care.

It was  photographed  first by  J.Ph. Vogel during his trip to Kashmir in early 1904 .when he surveyed all the major temple monuments of Kashmir as in charge ASI of Kashmir Circle. Vogel submitted his Report to Raja Amar Singh in August 1904.  The Report eventually became the precursor to the foundation of crethe Research, Archives and Museum Department which was formally established by Maharaja Pratap Singh in 1911. 

Vogel was thus  the first person whose work led to the formation of the museum movement in India. After nearly four decades,  Sir Aurel Stein also photographed this Siva Linga in 1940. Stein this time intended to publish an illustrated Rajatarangini with photographs of other Kashmir monuments also.  Sadly Stein died in 1943 at Kabul before he could complete and publish the illustrated Rajatarangini. 

The   clues to the existence of Stein's incomplete Rajatarangini were  first indicated by  Kashmiri Stein scholar S.N.Pandita in 2005 after he completed his major work on Stein's Kashmir Heritage Website . From  Pandita's researched clues , the German scholar Luther Obrock has now published Stein,' a illustrated Rajatarangini at Halle University in Germany in 2011.

Now after 174 years  in 2014 an laborious  effort not smooth sailing  was made to locate. and picture the site once more. By Parimoo brothers, elder Bai Moti Parimoo, younger Ashok Parimoo, along with Guru Kamath, also Sawarsat, associated with Shingiri Mutt,

What was surprising was that after these pictures were shared,  majority of the Kashmiri Pandits  expressed never seen or heard.Even from Baramulla district and adjoining , Handwara, Kupwaraa  Kashmir Pandits shared never heard of it those a few who has seen it  do admit  very casually.

Needless to add  the other day ,while sharig  with   an recent acquaint   from Delhi that myself is Saivite worshiper by virtue of born in the family of Kashmiri Pandit, by faith not   Hindu.To it queered that means then  a Muslim, responded no.To drive my point home  added  that the Hindu is no religion, instead  corrupted word of Persian who called this subcontinent as Sndhu  mean other side of the river Sindh.Every one  who lies on this part is a Hindu, irrespective of faith color , caste creed or region.

Aboe all it believes in on worl world as one family created by Shiva , that shall be destroyer by Him, no untouchability feel of it one used to have on this side of the Pir Panchal. Shiv and Shakti,  never born in any form  in our mythology, remain Pure, Satyam Siavim Sunderam.Om Namah Shaive . 

-- Colossal Siva Linga, Ushker.(1904) Photo Credit: Ghulam Nabi, Source:  Vogel Photo archive Collection, Kern Institute, Leiden, Holland.

 Sir Aurel Stein also photographed this Siva Linga at Ushkar, Baramulla in 1940

Parimoo Brothers Ashok and Moti, 2014.

Bai Moti Parimoo.

Shoouke Ashok Parimoo.

 Bushan Parimoo
(The writer is a Jammu based environmentalist and a regular contributor to this Website .)
(Feedback at: blparimoo@gmail.com)

Part-3 Destroyed Hindu Temples In Kashmir | From 1986 to 2018 

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