Saturday, October 12, 2013

Monkey business on the Hill


In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was Kashmir. This was beginning with God and the duty of every faithful monk would be to repeat every day with chanting humility the one never-changing event whose incontrovertible truth can be asserted. But we see now through a glass darkly, and the truth, before it is revealed to all, face to face, we see in fragments (alas, how illegible) in the error of the world, so we must spell out its faithful signals even when they seem obscure to us and as if amalgamated with a will wholly bent on evil.



Hari Parbat is in Faridabad. Koh-e-Maran is in Balochistan and in Kashmir. Takht-e-Suleman is in Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Balochistan and now officially in Kashmir.  And Adi Shankaracharya broke and re-built a temple in Srinagar of Gharwal, where they tell stories of a demon who died of head injury after getting hit by a divine rock.

To call everything by its true name and the trouble to be reminded that everything is a double.


Shankracharya and Takhht-e-Suleimani have both been used for a long time. But both names are essentially just names which people have given to it relatively recently. Name Shankracharya became a currency during Sikh/Dogra time. A name which Pandits, having recently regained ground, happily adopted. Thanks to work of Sir Stein, all kind of ancient places were getting reclaimed during this era. Takhht-e-Suleimani became a currency during Mughal/Afghan time. During Dogra time a inscription declaring the temple as 'Takhht-e-Suleimani' was destroyed by the soldiers. The inscription had come up during Mughal times probably when Noorjahan got the ancient stone stair case leading to the temple destroyed and had the stone used for her Pathar Masjid (which in turn provided stones for building Sher-Grahi palace by Afghans). By the time British arrived, re-naming war was already on, for the hill, both name were in currency. Based on which religious group you asked, a convenient name was provided.  That's how the dual name system gained currency. What about the one true name? The temple it is believed was originally known as Jyeshteswara and was first built by Jaloka, son of Asoka around 220 B.C. One of the old name of the hill was Sandhimana-paravata named after Sandhimana, minister of Jayendra (ruling from A.D. 341 to 360). In between, it is believed, Gopaditya (A.D. 238 to 253) repaired the old temple on the hill…giving the name 'Gopadri' to hill. Then there is a theory ( by James Ferguson countering the previous theory of A. Cunningham) that the temple we see now was commenced by a nameless Hindu during Jahangir's time but remained incomplete when Aurangzeb arrived on the scene. This unfinished state gave it the ancient and misleading look. This assumption came from some Persian inscription on its staircase. But then there were other writing on the staircase too which read, other claims likes "the idol was made by Haji Hushti, a Sahukar, in the year 54 of the Samvat era", while at the foot of the same pillar there was another scribble stating that "he who raised this temple was Khwaja Rukn, son of Mir Jan in the year___."

Then there is theory that the spot was actually Buddhists and is still revered by them and called as 'Pas-Pahar'. So it goes on...

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