Thursday, December 29, 2011

Panoramic view of Srinagar, 1862

Came across this stunning painting in 'Travels in Ladâk, Tartary, and Kashmir' (1862) by Henry D'Oyley Torrens. The places marked in the painting (starting from left and going in clockwise direction):
1. Shankaracharya
2. The Capital city
3. Hari Parbat
4. Naseem Bagh
5. Island of Son Lank (Golden Island)
6. Island of Rop Lank (Silver Island) or Island of Chinars or Char Chinari of nowadays
7. Shalimar Bagh
8. Nishat Bagh


Gul Gulshan Gulfam

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Kashmir, 1944

From Louise Morgan's Flickr Collection [check out the complete collection] having photos of India taken by one Major E Brookman in 1943/4. Louise bought the collection in 1980s from an antique shop in Seven Dials, Brighton, UK for around a dollar. She now plans to visit some of these places.

'The Greengrocer'

Third Bridge - Fateh Kadal, Srinagar July 1944

Gulmarg 1944
Gulmarg, Summer 2008

(I am really intrigued to see that the garden used to be referred as Shalamar, a name that Kashmiris still use even though now Shalimar is in more currency)
Entrance of Shalimar Garden. Summer 2008.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Monochrome Kashmir Canvas, 40s-50s

Painting by an unnamed member of the Kashmir Progressive Artists’ Association, late 40s or early 1950s

PINK AND GREEN by Trilok Kaul, 1950

Kashmir Yesterday, India Today 1990

Photographs from the 'Kashmir' section of 15th Anniversary issue of India Today published in 1990. If there is a Kashmir 'special' issue today in any Magazine, you will probably see similar form of story telling through pictures. Photographers who first figured out the Kashmir template include Raghu Rai, Prashant Panjair and Pramod Pushkarna.

Pandit Joseph, 1965

Southern Asia Tiding, August 1965

Srinagar, 1928

'The Oriental Watchman and Herald of Health: A Magazine for Health Home and Happiness' January 1928.
Came across it in Adventist Archives.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Khetchi Mawas, foodies' peace treaty with Yakshas

After fifteenth day of the dark half of the month of 'Paush', Yakshas come down from mountains and roam free in the valley of Kashmir. On this day an old treaty is honored. Rice is cooked with lentils and served to the guardians spirits of Kubera on a plate with cooked radish and some pickle.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Kyoho Arwell Chukh Chakaan

" The energy that actually shapes the world springs from emotions — racial pride, leader-worship, religious belief, love of war — which liberal intellectuals mechanically write off as anachronisms, and which they have usually destroyed so completely in themselves as to have lost all power of action."- Wells, Hitler and the World State, Orwell.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

'Mata Hari of Kashmir': Miss Edna Bellefontaine

England born Miss Edna Bellefontaine called Kashmir her home. She lived in houseboats, hiked through Himalayas (once even spent a night in a sacred high cave, which one we don't know, she even claimed to be the first white woman to ever enter the Kingdom of Nepal). Miss Edna painted all that she saw. And on some days she would put on a black wig and some native dress to do some exotic twist for the soon to depart royalty. For all that she earned a title: 'Mata Hari of Kashmir'. But with a name like that, there could be no happy ending. Or did that name come up only later, as a minor footnote to an event in history. In 1953, after a meeting with General Ayub Khan of Pakistan, she was banished from the land of Kashmir. At gun point Mata Hari was ousted from her houseboat and sent packing to Delhi with her six trunks and two dogs where for some years she was charged with planning Kashmir's sedition from India. For years she petitioned India and Pakistan to let her go back to her paradise. A similar fate was met with by a man who too had met the Gereral that day. Sheikh Abdullah. But Edna was to never return. In exile she became Mrs. Edna Bailey and wrote a book called 'Externed from Paradise'. Hoping to teach Indian dancing in some college or university, in Trenton New Jersey, Mata Hari of Kashmir did the native dances for soldiers, the wealthy and women's group.

Tonawanda News .  February 26, 1970
Two paintings by Miss Edna Bellefontaine

Pounding Rice, 1949
Srinagar Club under Snow
Found these paintings at: Indian Government's Online Photo Division
Update: Jan 9, 2014

Edna Bellefontaine
'Beached Boats By Town'
 Oil on masonite Dated '64
Shared by David Zrihen from his collection.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bhairav of Bagh-i-Sundar Balla Chattabal

'So, the temple! Is it going to fall to the left or to the right?'

We wondered. My grandfather couldn't remember the way to his house. He didn't recognize the chowk, the tang adda nor the left turn that led to the house that was once his. When we reached the house, he asked, 'Is this the place?'
His memory had probably started to disintegrate the previous summer. Memories flowing in his blood were forming a clot in his cranium. In a condition like that, pulling the directions to a neighbourhood temple from memory was perhaps too much to expect. Yet, we engaged in a play. Many a games like these we had played together. The pace at which the bus was moving, everyone had to pick a side or miss having the darshan. Everyone in the bus looked left and then right and then left. I chose right. I knew the temple was to the right. It had to be.

One the the earliest memories of Kashmir I have is of a day, not a particular day, rather sum of many such days, one of those days when my grandfather would take me to the ghat to get monthly ration. On way to the river bank he would tell me about the weir. The weir on Jhelum was built around 1906, an engineering feat performed using British help, to maintain the water level of the river, to keep the river navigational and to keep an old river going. Back then I didn't know all this. I didn't realize rivers could die. But the sound of 'Veer' excited me. Veer had been part of Kashmiri language for decades now but when I heard the word 'Veer, I asked him to explain what this Veer thing looked like. What is a Veer?

'It's a big wooden structure built across a river...'

One could simply say it's a small dam like structure but as I heard and misheard and missed my grandfather's explanation, the picture that my mind chose to draw was no simple dam. My mind took: from the pair of snakes in Medical insignia of Soura hospital, one snake and comity; from the cranky old wooden electric pole in our yard, it took a slippery and wet wooden pole and an uncertainty; from the rows of those giant taps that someone put alongside a railing of an old bridge on Jhelum and then left them all open as if by mistake, a fountainn-tap to pump oxygen (not water) into a thirsty river, it took sound and breath; and from the dying moments of a black and white television screen, it took its last slow murmur of life, a single beautiful dot of blinding whiteness in the center of a finite darkness. A picture emerged, my eyes could now see the Veer: it was an unreadable god, in the middle of a deep river a huge pole reaching for an overcast grey sky, wound around it, a giant dark serpent with inviting diamond twinkle for eyes. Can it call out to people? Can its voice be heard? Why it looked like Skeletor's 'Snake Mountain'!

'That's way to the Veer,' he pointed in a direction, '...will take you someday.' I couldn't  see anything. The vision faded. Or did it appear only later in a nightmare I had on a Sunday. This day must have been a Sunday.

'Aren't we going to go?'
'Maybe later. First we will go get ration. Don't you want to see the houseboats.'

I wanted to see it all. I wanted to run to the shore as soon as the whiff of the river reached me. But before going to the houseboat-shops, grandfather stopped. He stopped in front of a structure that looked like a storeroom. A storeroom with a locked door.

'Is the shop closed? Will we have to agin come back tomorrow? What do they sell here?'

'This is our Bhairav Mandar,' my grandfather answered even as he offered a head-bent namaskar to the iron lock.

'What's inside?'


'Why is it locked? Can we look inside?'

As he proceeded to circumvent the structure, I followed him, holding on to a corner of his kurta and on with my questions.

'Which one?'
'Which God?'
Is Bhairav also Shankar?

He then started talking something about chappals.

In the bus, he repeated the old story: 'They threw chappals into the hawan kund. The government put a lock on the temple and we were barred from praying there. Just like that. The matter went to the court. We agitated. I too fought the police. I think the matter is still in the court.'

He ended that sentence with a snort. For a moment all his memories seemed lucid again. The dispute over the Bhokhatiashwar Bhairov Nath Mandir of Chattabal arose in 1950s and peaked around 1973 when a mob attacked the temple premise which had been a center of cultural and religious activities for Pandits of Chattabal. Food Control department of the State government laid claim over the temple's ghat. Pandit fought back the claim with a surprising resolve. They were out on streets facing police lathicharge. The matter reached the court which locked down the temple structure till a verdict was reached. But the verdict never arrived. In 1990, the families of people who took part in temple agitation were doubly afraid for their lives. There were old scores to be settled. As their temple was already locked, temporarily, they locked their houses too. The locks remained until 1992 when, in the aftermath of Babri Masjid Demolition, Bhairav temple, like many a Pandit houses, lost its lock, lost its door, windows, roof, the walls and the stones and anything valuable or un-valuable or invaluable inside. Does it make sense? Any of it. Talking about a temple in Chattabal and a temple in Ayodhya. Love may not tie humanity, but the violence already does. Does violence offer greater intimacy? Is Chappal a God too?

My grandfather didn't take me to the weir that day. I never saw it. But I did try to find it, on my own many time. I was just starting to discover the place where I was born. I had started to walk out of the house alone, tracing the by-lanes, just to see where they led, to a bridge or a river, or a dead-end or a grocery, or a butcher's shop. Out for running home errands, buying eggs, butter, milk or zamdod, followed by crows and eagles, cats and dogs, horses and tongas, I would sometimes take a new route, take a wrong turn, just to see how far I could go before that 'lost' feeling churns in stomach. On these walks, one of the boundaries of my daring adventures, Lachman Rekha of my kingdom, my point of 'better-return-back-home', was a bridge from which I could see the houseboats on the ghat. Somewhere near this bridge, to the left, was a shop that sold mint candies that looked like Digene pills, only, white and not pink. White like those white pebbles used to emboss Gurmukhi Omkar above the door of that Sardarji in Chanpore near Massi's house.  Didn't I always want to pluck those white dots out from that wall, just to confirm they were in fact not edible? Is Chappal a God too? Did I really ask Daddy that question? How after long walks with Nani on the dry river bed of Tawi in Jammu, on a river bed baked red in summer sun, I used to bring back to her those beautiful stones. She would ask us kids to look for a Kajwot, a perfect grinding stone, and we would run back to her carrying a stone with white stripes around it, a mark like a Brahmin's yoni, a janau. 'Ye ti Shivji', she would exclaim and send a little prayer. We would pocket the god. Few minutes later we would again run back to her to confirm if we had again found another god. The river bank only had too many gods and too few Kajwots to offer.  She would again say a prayer. Our pockets were too small and the world had too many stones. We would throw the stones in the river. While we looked for a perfect Kajwot, she would often talk about Doodhganga. We used to have these walks in Kashmir too, in Chanpore, on the dry bed of a river called 'Milk Ganga'. They say in the old days a single stream of milky whiteness used to flow in the center of that muddy river. Hence the name.

'Where could that shop selling white mint candies be? That was to the left of the bridge.' I wondered and turned my head left to look for the shop.

'There. To the right. There somewhere should be the temple. Yes, there it is. The ruins. All burnt.'

'Where? Where?'

I had missed it. In the mad dash, I couldn't see a thing. Facing right, staring as a fast passing train of trees, shacks, a muddy river, a dry river bed, a rolling polythene bag, empty crushed plastic bottles, metal of electric poles and wires, I could see. I couldn't see the temple. I kept shooting the camera blindly, hoping to capture something, anything. The moment passed just as it came. Did I miss it? I believed I did. I wanted to see the place where my father used to accompany his father to buy cheap American IR-8 rice in 1906s. I wanted to see the temple. The boats. I wanted to see the veer.

'I think it is settled.'

Grandfather exclaimed solemnly. After a brief pause he added, 'This is how things are settled...conflicts resolved.'

A sad laughter escaped deep from his throat and turning away from the car window, he went back to reading a local Urdu newspaper from Kashmir.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

We want Divorce, 1937

North Tonawanda NY Evening News.  June 19, 1937

"Indian Community Asks Divorce Law
Srnagar, India, June 18 (U.P.) - The Kashmiri Pandit community is up in arms for a divorce act, the first Hindu community to declare in favor of divorce. It took an act of savagery to bring this about.
A resident of the community, graduate of an Indian university became so enraged at his wife when she refused him money that he destroyed her eyes. The act so enraged the populace that a demonstration of more than 4,000 persons was organized in protest and to urge a divorce act."


Monday, December 5, 2011

Another Winter

Cousin climbing up a Pheran. ~1988

Jhavvi Latchujj

Cleaning of Daan (Stove) marks the beginning of marriage preparation among Kashmiri Pandits. Daan is swept (Latchujj, like Kashmiri word Latchul for broom) using a dried-out plant locally known as Jhavvi. Months before the actual marriage, this ceremony known simply as Jhavvi Latchujj is always performed by the eldest sister of the father of the groom or the bride.  
Badi Bua doing the honor for my sister's wedding
Jhavvi Latchujj
My folks back at Jammu have found an interesting way of getting through to me: they tell me something that interests me. These photographs were sent by my father via email.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Snake ∞

"There is one God ; but he has many names. The whole earth stands upon the serpent Sheshnag ; she has 1000 teeth and 2000 tongues; with every tongue she pronounces every day a new name of God ; and this she has done for centuries on centuries, never repeating a name once pronounced."

Pandit Shivram of Srinagar to Rev. Joseph Wolff. Found in 'Narrative of a mission to Bokhara, in the years 1843-1845'.


Image: A screen-cap from a Hindi film Sheshnaag (1990) taken from a Pakistani print available on Youtube.


First to be created was the Word.
Word is the road to the Truth.
Listen to the word, then act.
~ Mahmud Gami (1750- 1855)


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kashmiriyat in Codex

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.


Aassi aiys ta asi aasav
  Aassi dur kur patu-vath
Shivas sari na zyon ta marun
  Ravus sori na atu-gath!

We did live in the past and we will be in future also:
From ancient times to the present, we have activated
          this world.
Just as the sun rises and sets, as a matter of routine,
The immanent Shiva will never be relieved of birth and

~ Lal Ded

That Lalla of Padmanpore,
who had drunk the fill of divine nectar;
She was undoubtedly an avatar of ours.
O God! grant me the same spritual power.

~ Nund Reshi

Mohammad-radiates light all around
Pujari lost his wits,
While offering flowers,
Iswara showered rain,
Come, let us blow the Shankh
around Sankara.
Mohammad-radiates light all around.

~ Ahad Zarger

What do we accomplish?
by coming and going,
From one Janama (birth) to another?
I think nothing.
the way out is
'So-ham-Soo' (I am thou).
Explore, Brahma, Vishnu, Maheshwara,
They are all-pervading, the manifest.
Shall thou bear the reality?
When it dawns upon thou?

~Shah Ghafoor

Shastras, I have explored,
I- the Rahim Sahib, am wearing around,
A Shastra myself,
For Shastra is the crown of believers.

~ Rahim Sahib

Dew radiates brightness all around,
Atma (Soul) cannot get out of transmigration,
Siva, O Shah Qalandar, resembles none.

~ Shah Qalandar

Like a yogi I postured myself
In the solitude of vana (jungle),
And reduced my sharer (body) to ashes,
In the process of Prana-Abhyas

~ Asad Parray

Rig Veda, Yajer Veda, Sam Veda, Athar Veda
My revered guru (teacher) endowed me
With these four Vedas,
And gave upto me,
Apparels of a yogi and gyana

~ Shamas Faqir

Kur Batus Peth Zoo Fida Qudoos Gojwari,
Az Timai Kathe Yaad Paeyu Waen;
Reach Sirij Kakan Mussalman Gobrae Greinz,
Dil Tithai Paet Mila naeyu Pana Waen

"It is for a Bata (Kashmiri Pandit) that Abdul Qudoos Gojwari laid his life; today you (Hindus and Muslims) should remember these events for togetherness. And it was Rajkak (birbal Dhar's son) who treated Muslims as his own children; today, you should seek union of hearts as you had done then."

~ Mahjoor

Kiyaah kara paanchan dahan ta kahan
Yim yath leji wokshun kareth gai
Yikiwoti samahan akisey rai lamahan
Kovi maali ravihey khan gaav

(What can I do with these fives, tens and elevens?
Who spoiled the broth?
I wish they would unite
And would not be lost in wilderness)

~Shiekh Nooruddin Noorani

Gani kar paanis awlaadas
Hani hani maaz traav deryaavas
Patciye man panun kerzzen nihaar
Kaafar sapdith korum Iqraar

Cut into pieces your own child;
And throw his flesh in the river
If you like it, have it as breakfast.
I became an infidel to mould myself to become a 
faithful of God

~ Abdul Ahad Zargar

Thatha chha ashqini tsanji tehrunuey
ratci ratci matci maaz khuon ye lo
Pannuy khoon gatchi tresi kani chonuyey
Suy gatci tcaangi zaalunyey lo
Pannuy khoon gatci tresi kani chonuyey
Suy gatci tcaagni zaalunyey lo
tami key gaashi gatci yaar praznunyey
Ratci ratci matci maaz khuonye lo

(It is not easy to face a onslaught of love,
You shall have to eat your own flesh,
And drink your blood to quench your thirst,
And burn it to light a lamp;
You can then recognize you're beloved
under the shine of that light,
First, eat up flesh from your wrist)

~ Momin Sahib

Kaafer-e-Ishqam musalamaani maraa darkaar neist
Har rag-e-jaan taar gashta haajab-e-zunnaar neist

(I am infidel of love; I don't need to be a Muslim,
Each vein of my body has turned into a sacred thread- (of Hindus))

~ Amir Khusro

Soch Kraal karaan tas paiwandi
Yes assi dilas safaai
Chalith paanas dium diun gatsi randa
Khudawanda illahi

(Soch kral is a friend of pure ones
Who have a crystal clear heart?
Sharpen your self and make it shine;
The Almighty God is there to watch.)

~ Sochh Kraal

Akh tsi ta bey ba ganzar mabaa
Habaa yi chuy gumaanay
Yath faani saraayi diun chhuy shabaa
Ath manz mo dim dukhaanay
Pato ho marun az yaa sabaa
Habaa yi chuy gumaanay

(Don't count yourself and myself
All this is a dream and nothing else.
In this mortal world, do spend one night
But don't set up a shop in it
You shall have to die today or tomorrow
All this is nothing but a dream)

~ Sochh Kraal

Maal-odaulath chhuna rozaanay
Donway bewafa goy gumaan
Waataan koni chukh be zaanay
Wolo yuri yaari janaanay

(Wealth and affluence do not last longer,
Both are unfaithful, mind it.
Why don't you delve deep into this point?
Come to me, O my beloved! )

~ Rahman Dar

Seerat traavith sooratas mozum
Doulatas sapdaan daas
Thazray thazray oosus
Azlan diutnam wodoluyey

(I gave up nobility and embraced beauty
I became a slave of wealth.
I was like a kind on top,
but my fate pulled me down)

~ Shamas Fakir

Anem soi, wawum soi
Lajem soi pane saai 

~ Kashmiri saying

Panun raeth pansei math

~ Kashmiri saying

Bulbul Na yeh, Wasiyat Ahbab Bool Jayen
Ganga ke Badle Mere Jehlum Mein Mein Phool; Hayen

~ Kashyap Bandhu

"May be it is the bone and blood of the very ancient Dravid (whatever goes with it) civilization which has survived as the ethinic/culture core and around which the present edifice has been built in collaboration with the Aryans, the Ionian Greek, the Konkan Brahmans, the gypsies and the Central Asians"

~ Akhter Mohi-ud-Din 

"You are for Kashmir, that you live for Kashmir, do well for Kashmir, and love everything of Kashmir".

~ Mirza Arif

'Speak of! people of Kashmir speak
O, kashmir thou art a thing of beauty
And a thing of beauty is a joy for ever
keats cheats himself when he believes and says so
Arif tells him to listen to a beloved's woe 
tyranny for you, O! Dishonored land
You are  a charm for the one that has the upper hand'

~ Mirza Arif

"O Nila, the words of the sage will be effective for one Caturyuga. After that you will live in the company of men only. Here the Pisacas will always become weak...Prajapati is called Ka, and Kasyapa is also Prajapati. Built by him this country will be called Kashmira"

~ Nilmat Purana

The first Rishi was the prophet Muhammad;
The second in order was Hazrat Uways;
The third Rishi was Zulka Rishi
The fourth in order was Hazrat Pilas;
The fifth was Rum Rishi
The sixth in order was Hazrat Miran
The seventh (me) is miscalled a Rishi
Do I deserve to be called a Rishi? What is my name?

~ Nund Reshi

Shiv Chaai thali thali wochaan
Mau Zaan Huind tu Musalmaan
Toruk Hai Chookh Paan praznan
Soi Chaai Shiv seet Zaan

(Siva abides in all that is, everywhere
Then do not discriminate between a Hindu and a Musalman
If thou art wise, know thyself
That is true knowledge of the Lord)

I renounced fraud, untruth, deceit,
I taught my mind to see the one in all my fellow-men,
How could I then discriminate between man and man?
And not accept the food offered by brother.

The idol is but stone,
The temple is but stone,
From top to bottom all is stone.

He does not need the kusa grass, nor sesame seed,
Flowers and water He does not need,
He who, in honest faith, accept his Guru's word,
On Siva meditates constantly,
He, full of joy, from action freed, will not be born again.

It covers your shame,
Saves you from cold,
Its food and drink,
Mere water and grass,
Who counselled you, O Brahmin?
To slaughter a living sheep as a sacrifice,
Unto a lifeless stone

The thoughtless read the holy books
As parrots, in their cage, recite Ram, Ram,
Their reading is like churning water,
Fruitless effort, ridiculous conceit

When can I beak the bonds of Shame?
When I am indifferent to jibes and jeers
When can I discard the robs of dignity?
When desires cease to nag my mind

The Guru (Sayyid Husain Simnani, or so we are told, not a mention of Sidha Mol)
gave me only one word;
Enter into thyself from the outer world;
the guru's precept came to me as God's word;
That's why i started dancing nude.

In life I sought neither wealth nor power;
Nor ran after pleasures of sense;
Moderate in food and drink, i lived a controlled life;
And love my God.

Whether they killed a large sheep or a small one,
Lalla had her round stone (as her usual fare.)

Whatever I uttered with my tongue became a Mantra

I burnt the foulness of my soul;
I slew my heart, its passions all;
I spread my garments, hem and sat;
Just there, on a bended knees,
In utter surrender unto Him;
My fame as Lalla spread afar.

~ Lal Ded 

Passion for God set fire to all she had,
and from her heart raised clouds of smoke,
Having had a draught of adh-e-alat,
Intoxicated and drunk with joy was she,
One cup of this God-intoxicating drink,
Shatters reason into bits,
A little drowsiness from from it is heavier than
Intoxication from a hundred jars of wine.

~ Nund Rishi quoted by Suhrawardiyya Sufi Baba Dawud Mishkati*

Adam is the progenitor of the human race,
The Mother Eve has the same primordiality,
(So) from where have the 'low-castes' descended?
How can a 'high born' deride his own ancestry?

One who harps proudly upon one's caste?
Is bereft of reason and wisdom,
Here the good alone can claim noble descent;
In the Hereafter 'caste' will be extinct,
Were you to imbibe the essence of Islam?
Then no one would be purer than you.

(By) displaying the caste in the world,
What will thou gain?
Into dust will turn the bones,
When the earth envelopes the body:
To utter disgrace will he come?
Who, forgetting himself, jeers at others

Among the brothers of the same parents
Why did you create a barrier?
Muslims and Hindus are one
When will God be kind to His servants?

~ Sheikh Noor-ud-Din

The three alphabets -Sha-Ra-Ka, are in fact the etymological representation of the three alphhabets - Ka-Sha-Ra or Kasheer

~ Professor Fida Hassnain

O, King! I hail from the land far away;
Where there is no truth and evil knows no limit.
I appeared in the Maleecha country, and I suffered at
 their hands.
I am known as Ishvara Putram (the Son of God)
Born of Kanya-Garban, the virgin
I teach love, truth and purity of heart,
I ask human beings to serve the lord.
The lord God is in the centre of the Sun, and the elements.
And God and the Sun are forever,
Bliss giving Lord being always in my heart,
My name has been established Isha-Mase

~ Bhavishya-Maha-Purana, 115 A.D.

'During this period, Hazrat Yuzu Asaph, having come from the Holy Land to the Holy Valley, proclaimed his ministery. He devoted his days and nights in prayers, and having attained the highest status in spiritual hierarchy, declared himself as the Prophet sent to Kashmiris. I have seen in a work of Hindus that this Prophet was really Hazrat Isa, the Spirit of God, who had assumed the name of Yuzu-Asaph in Kashmir.'

~ Kashmiri historian, Mullah Nadri

'I would like to see whole colonies of English artist, men of science and literature and divines, proceeding to Cashmer'

~ Joseph Wolff in Mission to Bokhara (1832)

When Kashmiris are prosperous, traitors are devastated
When Dhars are prosperous, Kashmiris get devastated

~a Kashmiri proverb

"There is one God
But with hundred names!"

"We belong to the same parents:
Then why this difference

Let Hindus and Muslims (together)
Worship God alone

~Nund Reshi

The mess we inherited. There are some select snippets from a collection of essays titled 'Kashmiriyat through the ages', edited and compiled by Professor Fida Mohammad Hassanain (who it seems spent an inordinate duration of his life trying to prove Jesus was in Kashmir and even talked to the famous charioteer of UFO gods, Erich von Däniken ) from various articles published over last decade or so by various people for various platforms. It arrived as  a gift to me from its Srinagar based publishers Gulshan Books.

An elder cousin caught me reading this book and paused at the name of the editor. 

'He used to be our neighbour in Chanapora. We didn't know he was a writer till the day his daughter-in-law got kidnapped.'

In 1991 Nahida Imtiaz, daughter of Saifuddin Soz was kidnapped by militants. Her release was secured in exchange for some other militants. My cousins tells me Nahida was Fida Mohammad Hassanain's daughter-in-law.

None of it makes sense. Not at this late-hour. Not in this place. To call everything by its true name and the trouble to be reminded that everything is double.

"We must treat our lives as we treat our writings, put them in accord, give harmony to the middle, the end, and the beginning. In order to do this, we must make many erasures."

Joseph Joubert, the French writer who spent all his life preparing to write a book but never published anything while alive. 


*Baba Dawud Mishkati and Abdul'l-Wahhab say that while the Shaikh and his brothers were once trying to break into a house. Lalla, who happened to be there, cried to Nurru'd-Din: "What will you get from this house? Go to a big house (i.e. God). you will get something there." On hearing this Nuru'd-Din, who was thirty years old at the time, immediatley left his brothers and dug out a cave at the village of Kaimuh. Here for many years he performed his austere penances, withdrawing entirely from the life that surrounded him.

~Biographical encyclopedia of Sufis By N. Hanif

Baba Dawud Mishkati was a follower of Suhrawardiyya Baba Nasibuddin Ghazi of Bijbehara. In his 'Asrar-ul-Abrar', written around 1654 AD, and acknowledged as the first work to mention Lal Ded, Baba Dawud Mishkati mentions that word Rishi is derived from the Persian word raish or rish meaning the feathers or wings of a bird. 


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