Friday, August 22, 2008


A Theme

The State of Jammu and Kashmir, as it featured on the 15th August 1947 has an area of 222,880 square kilometers. It is mostly a mountaneous region. Situated as it in the heart of Asia, the State has common frontiers with China on the north and north-east, with Afghanistan of the north-west and with Pakistan and India on the western and southern sides. The State’s border with Pakistan is about 900 kilometers long. A tongue-shaped projection of Afghan territory called Wakhan separates the Jammu and Kashmir States from the Russia. The location of the State confers immense strategic importance on this land.


Kashmir can claim the distinction of being the only region in the subcontinent of India which possesses an uninterrupted series of written records of its history. These chronicles testify to the continued existence, among the population of the Valley, of a genuine historical sense. Kalhana, poet-historian of Kashmir wrote his Rajtarangni 200 years before Chaucer and more than 400 years before Shakespare. It narrates in Sanskrit verse the history of the various dynasties which ruled Kashmir from the earliest period down to the time of the author who began to write this work in 1148 AD.
Kalhana’s work was continued by Jonaraja whose narrative covers the troubled times of the last Hindu dynasties of Kashmir and also the first Muslim rulers to the time of Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin, who ascended the throne in 1420 AD.
The legend tells us that the Valley of Kashmir was filled by lake in which lived a horrible amphibious demon which terrorised the whole area until the Hindu god Vishnu came to the rescue of people. Vishnu struck the mountains near the town of Baramulla, with his trident, the rocks cracked open and the lake waters rushed out. The demon was subsequently crushed to death under the Hariparbat hill. The inhabitants of the valley, the legands tell us, were at last able to live in peace.

From explorations done so far, traces of neolithic settlements have been observed at a number of places. Besides, Burzhama about 6 kilometers from Srinagar, has yielded remains of a flourishing neolitic life. The earliest date ascribed to Burzhama is 2400 B.C. The identity of people of this period is still wrapped in speculations. But these neolitic people are, from the archealogical evidences so far worked out, the earliest known inhabitants of Kashmir Valley.
Kalhana’s narrative reveals that the Nagas were the aborigines of the Valley They were tribal people devoted to agriculture. They were worshippers of serpant-dieties. The snake-cult seems to have been established in Valley from a remote people and undoubtedly has been one of the earliest religions of the land. A large number of temples built near some of the famous springs (Nags) of the Valley clearly manifest the popularity of the serpant-dieties in ancient Kashmir. The snake-cult prevalent in the Valley throughout the Hindu rule. Abul Fazl a courtier of the Mughal Emperor Akbar who visited Kashmir at the end of the 16th century records that there were 700 places in the Valley bearing carved images of snakes which the inhabitants worshipped. Even now, names of places like, Nilnag, Verinag, Anantnag and Sernag show traces of ancient Naga beliefs which continue to be venerated to this day.
Entry of the Aryans into the Valley, nearly 3000 years ago. Aryans whi infiltrated into Kashmir from Gilgit and Chitral are identified as Pisacas, the ancestors of the Dard-speaking tribes. Nilmathpuran, thr 7th Century literary product of the Valley testifies that Pisacas followed the Nagas as dwellers of ancient Kashmir. The great majority of present day Kashmiris, consists of the descendants of Dard-speaking people, who have been able to preserve their racial purity to a considerable extent inspite of many foreign incursions and invasions.
According to Kalhana, there ruled in Kashmir, in the earliest times, fifty two kings. The names of only four kings are preserved in the chronicles. The first recorded king of Kashmir is Gonanda-I. He was followed by his son Damodra-I, Yasowati Damodara’s wife and the latter’s son Gonanda-II. Another thirty five kings followed Gonanda-II whose names and deeds, according to Kalhana, perished through the destruction of records. However the famous 19th century Kashmiri Historian Hassan has reconstructed the names and duration of reign of these 35 Kings. The ever-green romance of Heemal and Nagrai is a contribution of Nagas to our literary Culture. They are believed to have lived during the reign of these kings.
The nest lot of Kings recorded by Kalhana are : Lava, Kusa, Khangendra, Surendra, Godhara, Survarna, Janaka and Sacinara.
The first known historical name, to appear in the Rajtarangni is Ashoka, the great Mauriyan King whose empire extended from Hindukush in the west to Bangal in the east and down Mysore in the south. Ashoka built the first city of Srinagar at Pandrethan in 250 BC. Chander Gupta Mauriya, Ashoka’s grandfather has included Kashmir in his Empire. At this juncture, the revolutionery message of the Scythian prince, the great Buddha, was ushered into Kashmir. “All human beings are equal and salvation is equally open to all”. Ashoka sent Majjhantika, a missionary from Varanasi, alongwith 10,000 Buddhist monks to disseminate the democratic and egalitarian message of the Buddhist creed in Kashmir.
In the history of Buddhism, Kashmir has an eminent place. Buddhism continued to flourish and the creed enjoyed popularity in the Valley for nearly 900 years. Ashoka was succeeded by Jaluka. He was a Shaivite and settled many Brahamans, of the Indo-gangetic plain, in Kashmir. Damodara-II, another supporter of Shaivism took over from Jaluka and founded his capital of the Damodhar Udar, which is the site of the present Srinagar airport.
The downfall of Mauryans, after Ashoka’s death, was followed by the domination of Bactrain Greeks in Kashmir. The Bactrain Greeks enjoyed suzerain power over Southern Kashmir for about 200 years and left impress of their role on Kashmir’s architecture. Demetrius was their famous rules in Kashmir.
Next horde of invaders into Kashmir were the Scythians, the Turki nomads, who were pushed out from their homes in Central Asia by the most powerful tribe of Kushans. Kanshika was the greatest among the Kushan Kinds. The Kushan empire, which included Kashmir, extended from Khotan and Kashgar in the north, boders of Persia and Parthia in the west and to Benaras in the east and the Vindhya mountains in the south. The empire lasted for 300 years, with Peshawar as a Capital. Kashika founded the town of Kanispur in the neighbourhood of Baramulla and erected number of monasteries and monuments in Kashmir.
White Huns, originally nomads from Sinkiang, invaded India succesfully towards the end of 5th century A.D.They established their empire in Afghanistan and western India. Mihirakula, a natorious Hun King and a unmitigated savage succeeded in 510 AD and established Sialkot as his capital. He has been described as a scourge of God on earth who killed thousands of peopl without any remorse. His revolting acts of cruelity became so abhorrent that the kings of Maghada and of Central India inflicted a decisive defeat on him. Instead of killing him, the kind victors exiled him, along with his supporters to Kashmir. The local king received him kindly and offered the fugutives a small territory. Mihirkula repaid the kings kindness by treacherously seizing his throne in 528 AD. The deposed was executed. Then issuing from Kashmir, Mihirkula conquered Afghanistan and north-east India. He drowned multitudes of people into the river Indus. He committed suicide in 550 AD.
Lalitadatiya (724-760 AD) was the greatest king of the Karkota dynasty who lifted his country to the pinnacle of fame. When Lalitadatya was marching, he was building and it is for the great temple at Martand that he is remembered the most. The temple was built on the pleateau above the present day town of Mattan, nearly 65 kilometers from Srinagar.
Lalitadatya built his capital on an aluvial plateau at Parihaspora, 25 kilometers north-west of Srinagar, in the vicinity of Shadipore. Lalitadatya is also remembered for his qualities as a chmpion of justice, able administrator, promoter of literary and creative activities and for his patronage of arts.
Junaid, who had succeeded the famous Arab commander Muhammad Bin Qasim, as governor of Sindh, attempted an invasion of Kashmir in 733 AD but was effectively repulsed by Lalitadatya. Lalitadatya’s successors repulsed another Arab invasion from Sindh led by Hisham-al-Taghilibi in 770 AD. It may be mentioned here that a Muslim colony had already developed in the Malchamar area of Alikadal, Srinagar.
The 11th cenury witnessed 17 Turkish invasions, led by Mahmud Ghazni, upon Hindu kingdoms of northern India. Mahmud had included Kashmir in the scheme of his Indian campaigns with a view to punishing Samgramaraja who was related to and an ally of Shahi dynasty of Kabul. No part of India remained unconquered except Kashmir and Mahmud resolved on an expedition to that country.
Mahmud invated Kashmir twice through Poonch in order to penetrate into valley via the Tosamaidan pass. His progress was checked at the Poonch fort and he returned unsuccessful in the first attempt. He invated Kashmir for the second time in 1021 AD. Man and nature conspired against the invader and the heavy snowfall forced Mahmud to finally abandon his Kashmir adventure.

After Raja Dahir of Sindh was defeated by the Arabs, his son Jaisiya took refuge in Kashmir. He was accompained by a Syrian Muslim named Hamim who is said to be the first Muslim who set his feet on the soil of Kashmir. King Vajraditya (754-761 AD) gave Hamim and his co-religionists a colony to settle in. This was called Malchamar. To this day, this colony in the Alikadal area of Srinagar in known by the same name.
Bulbulshah from Turkistan was the first Sufi to enter Kashmir during the reign of Suhadeva (1301-1320). The most important convert made by Bulbulshah was Kind Rinchan who was Bddhist at the time of his accession to the throne in 1320. The royal patronage which Islam secured through Rinchan’s conversion, as many as 10,000 non-muslims embraced the cred of Bulbulshah without any demur. Kashmir thus witnessed a revolution, albeit peaceful and imperceptible, which was further augumented by the arrival of a host of sufis in the reign of Shahmir dynasty.
Rinchan was the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir (1320-1323) under the name of Sadr-ud-Din

.......... and the rulers kept on changing...........

No comments: