Saturday, September 2, 2017

A Jataka tale from Kashmir, 1839

Latukika Jataka
now supposed to be in Allahabad museum
In around 1874, Alexander Cunningham started excavating the Buddhist site at village Bharhut in Madhaya Pradesh. Among the many discoveries he made were wall sculptures depicting the Jataka tales, or the tales of Buddha's previous births. Among these sculptures he found a tale that he had heard from a Kashmiri Muslim in 1839 when he was first visiting Kashmir as the ADC to Lord Auckland, the Governor-General of India.

We can't say if the story survived because Jataka tales travelled to Persia and Persian language or if it was a remnants of Buddhist culture of Kashmir, what we can do is marvel at the fact that a Kashmiri recalled this story, albeit in a different form which shows the impact Buddhism had on the people far and away.

In the notes to the sculpture, he narrates the Latukika/Quail Tale from Cylon and the Thrush tale from Kashmir.

[The Stûpa of Bharhut, Cunningham, 1879]

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Love, what is your own address?

Feb, 2016.
Kalaam: "Chan" Rasul Mir
Singer: Rashid Hafiz
Recorded in Srinagar.  At place named after a Pakistani Commando who crossed over for Jihad in 1965.

Khaane Kam Kam tchai karith vaeranai
Paane ashqo chui katyo dhikaano

Houses many have you destroyed
Love, what is your own address?

video link


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Review: "Kashmir: Exposing the Myth behind the narrative"

The book  "Kashmir: Exposing the Myth behind the narrative" (2017) is written by Khalid Bashir Ahmad, a former Kashmir Administrative Services person who served the State Administration in powerful positions as Director Information and Public Relations and Secretary, J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, besides heading the departments of Libraries and Research, and Archives, Archaeology and Museums. The book, the latest fat brick targeted at Pandits, aims to prove that the whole Kashmiri Pandit narrative, ever since the beginning of history, is a bunch of lies, a "myth" and it goes about the task by masking anti-pandit propaganda as scholarship. In his zeal to write an all encompassing exposé, the author has unintentionally produced the finest document on what drives the anti-pandit sentiment in Kashmir valley and which class produces it for the gullible masses.

The book tries to settle the 1990 debate by trying to prove that Kashmiri Pandits have been a lying race since 6th century A.D., around the time Nilmata was written that too after annihilation of the Buddhist religion by "militant" Hindus. It's does not try to debunk parts, it tries to do so the whole.

Khist-i-awwal chu nehad memaar kaj, Taa surayya mee rawad dewar kay

If mason puts the first brick at an angle, the wall, even if raised upto the Pleiad, is bound to come up oblique

Pandits claim to be "aborigines". So, the first chapter is titled "Aborigines" dedicated to basically proving that Nagas did not exist. According to the writer if "Nagas" are disapproved, it can be proven the Pandits are lying. In trying to do so, it claims the no evidence of "Nagas" is found in neolithic sites like Burzahom. The thought that the snake worship cult evolved much later just does not occur to the writer.  It claims that besides Nilmata and Rajatarangini, there is no mention of Nagas in context of Kashmir. The author ignores the fact that origin of Buddhism in Kashmir also is based on the story of Nagas getting converted at the hands of buddhist monks. All buddhist sources on Kashmir mention the Nagas. The writer claims there is no archeological evidence of Naga worship when the fact is Pandits still worship the fresh water springs of Kashmir as Nagas and remember their deities. Ain-i-Akbari testifies to the fact that in Mughal times the snake cult was strong. The author does not mention the fact the snake deities are still worshiped a few miles away from Srinagar in Kishtwar valley. Instead it is hinted that the snake tales might have come from central India. The author doesn't mention that Lalitaditya claimed descent from Naga dynasty of Karkota Naga. Even Chaks are said to have come from snake dynasty. Instead the reader is reminded that Buddhists were finished off by Brahmins. Here Kalhana's account of Buddhist viharas is considered useful but in later chapter Kalhana is denounced as an unreliable source. The conflict between Hindu rulers and Buddhist rulers and subsequent destruction of viharas is read as a religious confrontation while the conflict between Muslim rulers and Hindu subjects and subsequent destruction of temples is never read a conflict between religions. The fact the in Nilmata, Buddha is celebrated is denounced by author as a sign of cultural aggression by Brahmins and not as a sign of cultural assimilation. That this assimilation meant that Buddhism survived in Kashmir valley even till 12th century is ignored. The valley based readers of the book at are no point reminded at a lot of Masjids and Ziyarats in Srinagar as built upon Buddhist sites. No cursory mention of the fact that Jama Masjid of Srinagar used to be holy to Buddhist pilgrims even till 1950s. None of this is mentioned. Instead, the author writes:

"It is interesting to note that while many later Puranas and works such as those of Ksemendra, Jayaratha and Kalhana identify Buddha with Vishnu, all of them denounce Buddhism indirectly by assigning Buddha the task of deluding the people. The departure by the Nilmata in mentioning Buddha in a spirit of catholicity looks calculated. "

Here the author exposes his lack of knowledge of history he has embarked upon exploring. He forgets that Ksemendra himself was a Buddhist. In his works he presents most religious men as charlatans, even Buddhists but particularly the Brahmins.  In Kashmir back them, men were still free to speak their mind against hypocrisy and dogma of religious men. Instead, the author is too focused on proving that writers of Nilmata were "calculating" brahmins. This "Eternal Pandit", mean, calculating, power hungry, back stabbing, money grabbing is the running theme of the book. 

In the next chapter titled "Mind's eye" the author tries to prove that Kalhana was again a lying brahmin. According to the author, Kalhana in his own words used "Mind's eye" to write the history of Kashmir, the author writes the entire chapter under the impression that "Mind's eye" means some sort of divine intuition to write about past that Kalahan had no access to.

The author's understanding of theory of history is so rudimentary, his approach so flavoured with politics of present times that he does not even realize the utter nonsense he has presented through partial quotes cooked in furnace of deliberate malice . No, Kalhana did not use "Mind's eye" to write about prehistoric Kashmir. Kalhana mentions "mind's eye" in context of definition of purpose of a poet. The "mind's eye" is the plane of the brain that gets triggered when one reads something that stimulates one's imagination.

Kalhana describing the purpose of a poet writing about histroy

 Kalhana mentions that it is the job of a poet writing history to bring alive history. That it should be written in such a way that the the story plays in the mind of the reader and this is not possible unless it runs alive in the "mind's eye" of the poet first. He mentions that a poet of history should not just state facts but tell a story, an unbiased story. Rajataragnini is deliberately written by him in "Santa Rasa". Of course, the author had no clue or no inclination to inform his readers all this. Rajatarangini is written based on theory of Sanskrit literature. "Santa Rasa" or the Rasa of peace is used to offer solace to the world weary mind of the powerful people who read it. The whole Rajatarangini is written with a sense of resignation, that all good things as well as bad things pass. It was for this reason that the leaders like Budshah, Akbar and even Nehru studied and found solace his work. It presents to "mind's eye" the story in which the power is shown to be ever transitory.  But some people have their "mind's eye" so blind shut, they can't see all this. The fact that he have an entire chapter on Kalhana titled "Mind's eye" makes the author's ignorance about the meaning of the term all the more hilarious. The reader is not told the Kalhana told the story based on still older texts, even a text of history written by Kshmendra. The reader is not told that history of Kashmir was already known to Mughal world based on Persian translations of Rajatarangini and various other works. The discovery of Rajatarangini manuscript in Kashmir was celebrated because now people had direct access to the source. If there was no Rajatarangini, if the Pandits had not kept it safe, how else would we have known how about the past of Kashmir? 

Instead, in this book Kalhana's mind is targeted as if it it was mind of a delusional brahmin who knew in future Muslims of Kashmir would be bothered by his writings. 

"Kalhan was not a man with a closed mind, and this after all, is an essential qualification for a good historian." ...and that's a quote on Kalhana's mind from Romila Thapar. 

In the next chapter titled "Malice", the reader is basically told that Jonaraja was again a malicious Brahmin. According to the author,  Jonaraja was a man who hated Musalmaans, why else would he not use the word "musalmaan" even though the word existed as proven by famous Lal Ded saying "na booz Hyund ti Musalmaan". Genius! The thought that the saying is of obvious later origin just doesn't occur to the director sahib of historics even though he does quote Chitralekha Zutsi. The reader is not told that the word "mausala" does infact figure in Rajatarangini post Kalhana, instead the reader is confused with words like "Yavanna" and "Mleecha", not told that even word "Yavanna" is used with beauty by Jonaraja when he describes Muslim/Yavana worshipers as "…crowds of worshippers used to fall down and rise at prayers, imitating the high waves..."

Walter Slaje, the Austrian expert on medieval history of Kashmir and Rajatarangi explains the usage of these terms like this:

Slaje, Medieval Kashmir and the Science of History (2004)

So, the reader thinks Jonaraja, he too was a lying Brahman who told lies about Sikandar just because Jonaraja couldn't reconcile to the fact that the Hindu era of Kashmir was over. Some one teach director sahib about how not to read the past through the lens of present, lest someone claim that director Sahib is making the claim cause he can't reconcile to the fact that Kashmir is right now partly ruled by Hindu BJP. It's like saying that historians-artists of Kashmir will start to invent myths at the first sign of majority religion losing hold of business of running State. Err...isn't that happening in Kashmir. [the usual reply from Kashmir: a muslim would never do that, only pandits can]. It would also mean that any Pandit rejecting the claims of the book about Jonaraja or Kalhana is obviously doing so because of what happened to him in 1990, and hence is lying. What buffoonery passes for history in case of Kashmir! 

The author claims Kalhana was a essentially a poet and a believer of fairytales and hence can't be trusted, Jonaraja hated Muslims, hence can't be trusted. But, in this chapter while mentioning the faults of Jonaraja, author asks why Jonaraja didn't mention Hallaj's visit to Kashmir. There is a widely and newly found belief in Kashmir that Mansur al-Hallaj (857-922) visited Kashmir in 896 AD. The source of the claim comes from "The Passion of Al-Hallaj: Mystic and Martyr of Islam by Louis Massignon" translated and edited by Herbert Mason (1982/94). Massignon's work was translation of 13th century manuscripts of "Tadhkirat-ul-Awliyā" (Biographies of Saints) by Attar of Nishapur (1145). Attar was essentially a poet, here the Kashmiri author would like to trust the words of a poet who wrote about miracles performed by Sufis. Interestingly, in the same work of Attar, we read about Kashmiri slaves serving missionaries in Persia. Author ignores all this. [Read: Hallaj in Kashmir]

The next chapter is titled "Power" and the reader is reminded that Pandits were part of the Power circle during Afghan rule. That Pandits invented the stories of persecution. 

This chapter on Afghan period in Kashmir ends with reader being told that a pandit was responsible for Shia-Sunni riots and probably was the cause of debauchery of the ruler. Then the reader is told that pandit masses suffered no brutality under Afghans....after all pandit were working for Afghans on high posts. The pandit were again lying. It was pandits who convinced Walter Lawrence to write those horrible things about Afghans. Hence proved: Pandits the perpetual liars and power hungry fiends . He then goes on to quote a pandit...Birbal Kachru's work to prove that only Muslims (Bombas...readers are not told that Bombas were Shia) suffered under Afghans. Rest is all figment of imagination - "mind's eye" - of later Kashmiri pandit writers.

In all this the facts reader in Kashmir is not told:

Lawrence based his writing on Peer Hassan (1832-1898) and not some pandit. It is not as if Pandits poisoned Lawrence's ears against Muslims. Hassan has written at length about it in his "Tarikhi-Kashmir". Interestingly, the "historian" makes no reference to Hassan in this section.

Reader is not told that GMD Sufi, again a Muslim, in 1949 in his "Kashir A History Of Kashmir" wrote at length about the tyrannical Afghan period and mentions persecution of Hindus as well as Shias. Sufi does not use Kachru as source for Afghan period but uses him for Sikh period during which he lived. For Afghan period he uses Muslim sources, works of afghan era, all of which mention persecution.
Sources used by GMD Sufi. 

And finally if someone working for Afghans at high post means it was all peaceful back then for the rest of the community, surely the author of this tome himself working as a government employee for Government of India in 1990s should be read as benevolent nature of the government and a general sign of how peaceful the 90s were.

In between, innumerable inanities, the book also reminds the reader of valley that Kashmiri Pandits are different than rest of Hindus. Proof: Krishna cult had no presence in Kashmir. There are no Krishna statues or temples in Kashmir. The reader is here not told that Kalhana starts his Rajatarangini with mention of Krishna in relation with King Gonanada. The reader is not told that exclusive elaborate Krishna sculptures across India are a recent phenomena. Before that there was more elaborate Vaishnav cult theories centered on various avatars of which many are now considered minor. The reader is not told of the "flute player" on the walls of Martand.*

Why does author bring it up? Because in 1980s, Kashmiri Pandits publicly started celebrating Krishna Janamashtami and the Kashmiri fundamentalists cum conspiracy theorists saw in it the attempt of Kashmiri Pandits aligning with alien "Indian culture". In such attempts these fraud "intellectuals" try to dictate who is a good native Kashmiri Pandits true to Kashmir and who is bringing in Indian Culture. Back in 80s, all such Indian Kashmiri Pandits were branded Sanghi Pandits.

In the beginning of the same chapter, we are gratuitously told of poet Sir Muhammad Iqbal's thoughts on pandits of valley:

A'an Brahman zaadgana-e-zindah dil
Laleh-e-ahmar zi rooye sha'n khajil
Tez been=o pukhta kaar-o-sakhy kosh
Az nigah-e-sha'n farang andar kharosh
Asl-e-sha'n az khaake-e-daamangeer ma'st
Matla-e-ein akhtara'n Kashmnir mas't

These scions of Brahmins with vibrant hearts, their glowing
cheeks out the red tulip to shame. Keen of eye, mature
and strenuous in action, their very glance puts Europe into commotion. Their origin is from this protesting soil of ours, the rising place of these stars is out Kashmir.

It appears that Iqbal loved Pandits and his took pride in his pandit origins. Later as the author unleashes his propaganda against Pandits, the reader has no option but to think of Pandits as ungrateful people.

What the reader is not told is the following lines of Iqbal:

Hai jo peshani pe Islam ka teeka Iqbal /
Koi Pandit mujhey kaihta hai to sharm aati hai.

The mark of Islam is on my forehead
I am ashamed if someone calls me a Pandit 

The reader is not told that Iqbal of later age, lauded a murderer like Ilam Din and laid the ideological foundation of religious state called Pakistan. If poet Kalhana's poetic genius should not cloud our opinion about his ability to be neutral, or just his politics, why should any other parameter be set for Iqbal? Why expect pandits to celebrate Iqbal? (another pet peeve of the author of this book)

In the next chapter titled "Blood", we move to Dogra times. Somewhere, the story of Pandits refusing Muslim "gharwapsi", a initiative of Dayanand Saraswat is repeated by the author. The author repeats the claim just as it is made by Hindutva people, particularly Balraj Madhok.

Using such spins, the pandit are mocked by Sanghis as well as Islamists for being too "proud". The eternal "proud" pandit.

In this chapter, the reader is reminded that Pandits have muslim blood on their hands and they no Pandit was harmed in 1931. That there were no riots against Hindus. That muslims hands were always clean of any blood. 

To that I can offer some personal history:

I called my grandmother this morning to ask her again the story.
I call to ask her the name of the man who died in 1931. Morning of July 13th in Kashmir.
She asks me not to waste my time.
I insist.
He was a brother of her mother.
She doesn't remember the name. She doesn't remember the year. What did he do for a living? She doesn't know.
All she knows:
'It was the year of first "gadbad".'
I remember hearing bits: He had gone out to get bread from the local bakery. Someone put an axe to his head.
She doesn't remember all this.
She asks me not to waste my time with this nonsense.
She asks if I had my breakfast.

The next chapter "Agitation" deals with Parmeshwari Handoo case and is interesting as it quotes old local newspaper reports and rightly links the case to rise of Jan Sangh in Kashmir. In this chapter too you will read a Pandit saying some nice things about Jamaat-i-Islami and bad things about Jan Sangh. The book practically is based on the now established textual norm of quoting Pandits to prove Pandit are lying hence tahreekis are telling the only truth. One truth. Readers are reminded by author that inter-religion marriages had previously taken place in Kashmir but there were no communal disturbances. In horde to provide examples of communal harmony, we are told artist Ghulam Rasool married a Pandit girl Santosh Mehra. Fact: Santosh was not a Kashmiri Pandit and Ghulam Rasool was hardly the "ideal" muslim. Why only in Parmeshwaru Handoo case did Pandits came down on streets? Long quotes are provided linking Pandit community en-mass to Jan Sangh. Pandits planning acid attacks, arson attacks and desecrating muslim mosques. Authors uses official police records here.

The reader has no option now but to see Pandit as the perfect enemy.   

Fact: Such communal polarizations and crimes are more often than not two sided affairs. How is this act of compilation different from a Hindu organization compiling a list of FIRs naming just Muslims during a riot? To what purpose are such listings used. But, people in Kashmir as so used to their majority status, such questions just do not bother the author. 
The real tragedy of Kashmiri Pandits is that this is probably the first book that actually has the exact FIRs of their dead and their raped, and some new names . It is another matter that that are used to forward the usual: 1. Not enough died. 2. Pandits [like their ancestor Kalhana] exaggerated the description of scene [no, no, not like people that did it in case of Asiya-Neelofar in 2009, ignoring the FIRs when needed. Is the official police report of Kunan Poshpora acceptable to the author?

Guess being Director of something in government has its perks. The modern brahmins...those that control the texts...control history. But, I guess most Pandits would thank this book for giving out those FIR details.

In case of Bhan family, using an RTI, the writer finds that the killing did happen and then claims the gruesome details of the killing, flinging from the top floor, were figment of KP minds as the police report don't offer any detail. Earlier he has already tried hard to prove that either KP killings were carried out by State or for being "informers". Why now he feels the need to prove that killings were not "gruesome"? Guilt. All proof need to be erased. All blood stains wiped clean.

He then proceeds to expose "Pandit" propaganda using a quote from a Hindutva site to prove that KPs have never ever, never ever, never ever since 14th century, fed the cows.

Most of the killings of minorities in Jammu and Kashmir have been "adopted" online by Hindutva sites. No, you won't find any neutral site easily with clear data and facts. On hindutva sites written by non-Kashmiris, regurgitation of data has high amount of mutation. Which leads us to this comedy of fools: The professional KM "historian" reads a "fact" and then in his expert 14th opinion decides to cook pandits in a medieval oven of fresh "facts".

He writes that the hindu propaganda site claims:

"15 [Kashmiri] Pandits who had gone to graze their livestock were murdered "

He then informs the readers that the elite Kashmiri Pandits never have taken cattle for grazing, ever! That's all he could come up with to cast the spell of doubt on the killing! So Kashmiri Pandits didn't die because Pandit wouldn't touch the job. The discussion ends up about "status" of pandits in ancient Kashmir.

The fact:

The hindutva site mentions: "15 Pandits who had gone to graze their livestock were murdered "

The "historian" added the word "Kashmiri" to it and started discussing cattle grazing habits of Kashmiri pandits.

The fact: The killing did happen. It was not Kashmiri Pandits. But 15 Hindus of Chirjee near Kishtawar in Doda who were killed by terrorist. The entry for it in not found on any Indian government site online but in US congress report on Human rights.

It didn't occur to the "historian" (and wouldn't probably to his readers in Kashmir) that in villages, Pandits used to have cows at home, and like any other villager, this pandit too used to take his cows from grazing. we are talking cow. Isn't that how most discussions end up these days? Utter ludicrous diversions that don't allow you to get to the facts.

In dealing with exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 1990, reader is told using account of Muslims that Pandits left Kashmir in aeroplanes. The usual Jagmohan Conspiracy is forwarded as the culmination of centuries old cruel games that pandits like to play. 

 Why was this book written the way it was: rejecting Nilmata, Rajatarangini, Afghans brutalities, 1947, 1967, 1986, 1990?

It was done so because Kashmiri Pandit tell their story in that sequence. Pandits claim to be "aborigines", claim Rajatarangini as "their" history, claim they suffered under Muslim rule, suffered losses in 1947 partitions, were beaten to ground politically in 1967 agitation over "Parmeshwari Handoo case", suffered rioting in 1986 in Anantnag and were finally forced to flee in 1990. 

It's an infantile game the two sides are playing. Pandit brains wanting to explain 1990 by explaining Sikander. Muslim brains wanting to negate 1990 by negating Sikander. In between always quoting Lal Ded as some symbol of peace. One side claims C is true, then B is true so A is also true. Other side counter claims as A is a lie, so B is a lie and then C obviously is a lie too. No side ready to accept that lies are being peddled left, right and center. And yes, don't forget pandits are greater liars because in Muslim books you will always find pandit forwarding the "Jagmohan theory". This book even quotes actor Rahul Bhat saying something like "I accept KMs suffered more than KPs." Basically, the fact that a KP would empathize with KM is also used as a handy tool when needed. Don't be surprised if you see less KPs making such claims in future. Don't be surprised if the chasm between the two communities increases. And don't be surprised to see which class politically befits from it in India and in Kashmir valley.  


*The Flute players. It is wrong to thing of this image as Krishna. If you are Hindu, if you accept rest of my arguments, if you don't understand the or know the subject enough, there is a good chance you will accept this as evidence. This is confirmation bias. The bias with which this whole book is written. A muslim reader of the book would have tough time acknowledging it.

The image of Krishna dated 1/2 nd century  A.D is infact found on a boulder in Chilas (POK) along with that of Baldev and even Buddha. A Pakistani expert of Kashmiri origin, A. H. Dani mentions it in his "Chilas: the city of Nanga Parbat" (1983). 


Some more lies from the author:

According to Bashir, cunning Brahmins modified (disfigured) Buddhist statues to give them Hindu look. He calls it Buddhist statue...not Gandhara statues. Bashir calls it "5th century Buddhist statue."If one reads what he has written...there is only one conclusion that a lay reader in Kashmir with no real access to Hindu culture or original sources would assume: Brahmins mutilated Buddhist statues to make them Hindu. He bases his claim based on writing of Aijaz Bandey about an Ekamukha Shivling in a temple in Baramulla.  Something he reveals (rather hides) in bibliography. And if one actually reads Bandey about that Shiv ling...we read something else completely. We read about how Gandhara art influenced Hindu art in Kashmir. Bandey does not make it sound like Hindus disfigured Buddhist statues to make Hindu gods out of them. Bandey writes about art assimilation. He even accepts there were already such Hindu images in Gandhara. Khalid Bashir Ahmad's skewed logic if one extends to Muslim art in Kashmir, all Kashmiri traditional Muslim Ziyarats are Buddhist and not just influenced by Buddhist art.

Also, if one knows the basic history of would know that Mihirkula brought in priests from Gandhara in Kashmir...something that local priests resented. How are these foreign priests supposed to have created a highly localized document like Nilamata?

Example of how the text from Bashir's book is getting used for propaganda online. The section on left occurs in Bashir's book.

Propaganda: Stein thought Kalhana's text was corrupted.

Fact: On page 377 of "Rajatarangini: a chronicle of the kings of Kasmir, Volume 2" Stein is infact talking about the condition of a manuscript of Nilmatapurana found by Georg Bühler. More particularly, Vitastamahatmya. Not Rajatarangini.

Fact: Stein spent his life proving the merit of Kalhana's Rajatarangini in historical sense by mapping its text to real places, real people as mentioned on coins and inscriptions on sculptures/temples.

Fact: Had manuscripts of Rajatarangini and Nilmatapurana perished like rest of ancient manuscripts of Kashmir, had some families not preserved, our knowledge of old Kashmir would have been next to nothing. Your ultra-nationalistic pride of having thousands of year old history would have been just hot air.

Another use of the quotes from Bashir's book used for online propaganda. Here again, Bashir's ability to lie would amaze anyone who has actually read the sources.

Anand Kaul wrote 'The Kashmiri Pandit' in 1924. Lawrence used the term "death, conversion or exile" already in 1895. But, of course, the propagandists know most people in Kashmir would easily accept that a Pandit lied being "Brahman Qaum".

Fact: "Butshikan" term for King Sikandar was used by Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah for his Tarikh-i Firishta (1612). And he mentions the persecution of Hindus. It was not Kashmiri Pandits who invented the term. It was British to first latched on to the term. Anand Kaul only followed their lead. Unlike Bashir he had no access to Google, to know better. Postcolonialism hadn't yet arrived.
"History Of The Rise Of The Mahomedan Power In India Volume 4. Enlish translation by John Briggs 1831.

Fact: Jonaraja does mention that Sikandar did towards the end of his life change his ways. Jaziya was stopped.

Fact: Toward the end of Sikandar era we do find an old sculpture of Brahma that in Sharda has an inscription with name of King Sikandar on it, having being commissioned by a Hindu/Buddhist  officer of the king.


Another example of these half-educated charlatans befool the people. Clearly, the author has no actually understanding of the history of Shaivism in Kashmir. He is out of depth here, and yet he does not shy away from making a fool of himself. Here again, the reader is reminded that even Shaivism was a relatively recent import from mainland India by clever, deceitful, exploitative Brahmins. In his frenzy, the author ignores the actual facts and instead invents another lie: Tryambakaditya settled in Kashmir in 800 A.D.

Fact: Sangamaditya, the 16th descendant in the line of Tryambaka settled in Kashmir in 8th century. His father Tryambaka XV married a brahmin woman in Kashmir. In that he broke the the celibacy tradition of the "Siddhas" all of whom were given the title "Tryambaka". The matrilineal society of Kashmir demanded that Tryambaka XV's son settle in Kashmir. So, Sangamaditya the 16th descendant in the line of the mythical original Tryambaka settled in Kashmir.

 Somananda, 4th descendant of Sangamaditya produced Shaiva literature (Sivadrsti) in 9th century.

[ref: Śaivāgamas: A Study in the Socio-economic Ideas and Institutions of Kashmir by V. N. Drabu]

Fact: This is how most famous Kashmiri Shaivite Abhinavagupta (c. 950 – 1016 AD) in his Gītārthasaṅgraha was re-interpreting "divine word of god" Gita to make the text more inclusive. This is how the ideas of Shaivite in Kashmir, were setting ideological base for coming of Lal Ded and Nund Rishi who would see all humanity as one. It was in a way Shaivite and their monotheism that made Islam not a completely alien thought for the masses in Kashmir.

Anyone who has actually read Trika system would know that Saiva system looked down upon temple worship, daily rituals of brahmins and even the Vedas were treated as inferior knowledge.

Yes, Kalhana and Kshemendra mock the priests and pretenders. That tells us even back then, just like now, there were charlatans. Even, Noor ud-Din Noorani in his time mocks the Mullas and their exploitative ways. This also tells us that back then Kashmiris had a culture of criticism. A culture that is missing in missionaries that arrived in Kashmir later.

The Mullas flourish on money 
These Sheikhs like honey
stick to wealth
The sufis half-naked
do no work
yet, enjoy
many scrumptious meals

None pursue knowledge,
It’s all just another game
these selves

Seen them lately?
Catch them live
Try this old trick:
Announce a grand feast,
from pulpit
now watch
This Mulla run to the Masjid
"Run sick Mulla! Run!
Run to your Masjid."

These are the words of the saint of Kashmir, after whom the Srinagar airport is named ( built on a Karewa named after a Naga, Damodara).


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Ananda meets Madhyantika - Buddhism in Kashmir - 1

I have almost reached the end of studying Buddhist history of Kashmir. Before, I start giving out the finding, in this post I am sharing something from the beginning of the beginning.


The story of Buddhism in Kashmir starts with Ananda, a cousin of Buddha, and perhaps his last attendant. After the death of Buddha, the first Buddhist council was held to formalize the teachings of Buddha. This council was headed by Mahakashyapa, the oldest and most senior follower of Buddha. Ananda, being the youngest and closest to Buddha, was asked to recall all the sayings of the monk who himself just wanted each man to fend for himself and strive for his own Nirvana.

Ananda was the man who sent Madhyantika to Kashmir and Gandhara for spreading the message of Buddha. Ananda had been foretold about coming of Madhyantika by Buddha.

It was Madhyantika who converted Nagas and introduced Saffron cultivation to Kashmir. It was also Madhyantika who introduced "householders" from outside to Kashmir.

This much and more we know from various to Buddhist sources.

The Images

In 1851, the British archaeologist Sir Alexander Cunningham, who previously in 1848 had already dug up much history in Kashmir,  went excavating at the 3rd century BCE Asokan Buddhist complex in Sanchi - the place now known simply as Sanchi Stupa. He published his finding in 1854 as "The Bhilsa topes; or, Buddhist monuments of central India" [here] For the first time, using archaeological evidence of inscriptions, the Buddhist texts were vindicated. There were inscriptions naming Mahakashyapa, Ananda, Madhyantika and many more. The inscriptions of Sanchi had earlier helped decipher the Brahmi script in 1837 by James Princep. The still biggest surprise from Sanchi proved to be the discovery of urns containing the bones of these men. He found the bones of the man who introduced Buddha to Kashmir, and to the rest of the world.*

Cunningham also gave a brief description of carvings on the gates to the Stupa.

On South Gate, he found something interesting in a scene depicting a king venerating a relic casket:

"In the back ground two male figures and one female figure with a round cap similar to those worn by the Kashmiri women of the present day."

We can't say anything definitive about Cunningham's observation here except for that his time in Kashmir must have made him notice Kashmir in this image. Albeit. the ear-rings on the woman with the round cap do look even more Kashmirian.

However, there is another image which I believe he completely misread and consequently has been overlooked by experts[1].

On the left pillar of Easter gate he noticed what he called the "Boat Scene".

He interpreted the scene as:

"Sakya's Nirvana. — A boat is represented on the ocean ; containing- three persons ; one rower, one steersman, and one passenger, all of whom are clad in the costume of the higher ranks of Buddhist ascetics. In the right and left upper corners there are trees ; and scattered about in the waters there are lotus flowers, alligators, ducks, and shells. On the shore below are represented four figures also in a religious garb ; one with dishevelled hair and uplifted arms; and the others, who wear caps, with hands clasped together in attitudes of devotion. In the right hand corner below is a tree with an altar. This scene I have already described in my account of Sakya's death. The passenger is, I think, Sakya Muni, who is represented, after the attainment of Nirvana, or freedom from transmigration, as being- wafted over the waters which are said to surround this transitory world. The figures on the shore are a Bhikshu of the lower grade, bewailing- the departure of Sakya with dishevelled hair and uplifted arms, which, from the accounts given in the Pali  annals would seem to have been the customary manner of expressing- grief at that period. The other figures are Bhikshus who had attained the higher grade of Arahat, and who comforted themselves with the reflection that "all transitory things are perishable." The difference of rank is known by the bare head of the mourner, and the capped heads of the others; a distinction which still prevails in Tibet, where the lower grades Ge-thsul and Chhos-pa invariably go bare-headed, whilst all the Lamas (or higher grades), including the Grand Lama himself, have their heads covered."
I believe he got the description all right but interpreted it all wrong. I believe the figure is not Sakyamuni. It's not ocean, but a river, not any river, but the Ganga with lotus and alligators (animal always associated with Ganga). That's the key to the scene, that and the piece of "land" floating in the river, in between the boatmen and the men on the shore. This is the exact scene narrated in various Buddhist texts dealing with the meeting of Ananda with Madhyantika.

It is said that when his end was near Ananda got on a boat in Ganges river, ready to leave his body. He got in a boat because he was worried that once he dies, people would fight over his remains. King Ajatashatru wanted the remains and so did his rivals Lichchhavis, the clan of Vaishali. Just as he was about to leave the body, a Rishi arrived at shore along with his 500 followers and asked to be ordained. Ananda had been foretold about this event by Buddha. Ananda accepted and through his spiritual power materialized a patch of land in middle of the river**. The Rishi and his followers were thus brought into the Sangh and came to be known as Madhyantika, which literally translates to "mid-day~mid-river".  Then Ananda told their leader about Buddha's prophecy  about Kashmir. Anand dies and his ash remains are peacefully divided. Madhyantika heads for the Kashmir with his follower and comes to be known as the preacher of Sarvastivada "the theory of all exists" Buddhism.**


1. French scholar Alfred Foucher assumed it depicted conversion of Kashypa Brothers. 

Even though believed to have been lost, sunk at sea, the remains were later traced down to V&A Museum in Britain. Some were brought back to India by Nehru in 1950s [Mahāmaudgalyāyana's remains are in Sanchi ]. But, the remains of Madhyantika remain in Britain.

** Possibly Mount Ahogariga of Buddhist legends, somewhere in Upper Ganga, possibly Mathura.

***A parallel story coming from other Buddhist sources, repeated by Hiuen Tsang tells us about a sect of presumably Sarvastivada saints of Mathura who were going to be drowned in Ganga by Ashoka for teaching a deviant theory of Buddhism. The monks magically fly away to Kashmir before they are killed. The King is repentant, wants them to come back. They refuse. The King then supports their missionary activities in Kashmir.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Keys to a house not There

Guest post by Pratush Koul, one of the younger reader who is sharing his bits and pieces. This one for "things that crossed over" series.

 Grandfather's Matriculation certificate from Panjab University, Lahore.

At the time the results were announced, partition had taken place and the students in India were later given these certificate from Solan. The result had been announced in 1947 but due to the migration and teachers moving across the border... the issuance of certificates was delayed. 

Just prior to the violence of 1947, my Grandfather Dwarka Nath Koul had a job offer that would have taken him to Muzzafarabad. Somehow he didn't take the offer, which later turned out to be a blessing. His mother's brother, Mama Ji, Jiya Lal Pandita was a renowned priest in Sharda village and  died in the violence of that year.

This was not the only 1947 tragedy in the family. My father tells me:

In 1947, when the Kaabali raid was going on his Nanaji, Niranjan Nath Raina (called taetha) and family were living in Pattan near Baramulla and when the Kabaalis reached their village, the whole of the area was reduced to ashes. Nanaji's father was hiding somewhere in drygrass and he was burnt alive. Nanaji then shifted to Srinagar. My dad's Nanaji had a lot of land back then but due to the "land to tiller" law, they lost most of the land in 50s. 

As per my elementary urdu (taught by grandfather) - the name on cover is "aman Umeed ki rah". 

My grandfather once found this inside his trunk in Jammu and told me that he got it from some Christian missionaries back in Srinagar, back when they used to give these away for free in Buses and Matadors. Around late 1970s-80s.

My father was born in Amira Kadal. We lived there till 70s. Then, brick by brick,  he built a small new house in Habba Kadal. He lived in that house for only seven years.
The violence of late 80s seems "normal" to them, Kashmir had lately seen lot of such violence. But, the killing of Tikka Lal Taploo brought the violence too close to home. Then there were other signs. My mother was working in Social welfare department at the time and was posted in Baramulla. It was in Baramulla, she was one day advised by a Muslim office clerk to leave early as there was going to be trouble in the town. She travelled from Baramulla to Srinagar in an "azaadi procession" bus. She hid her ears rings and took off her bindi. Identifiers of her religion and boarded the bus screaming, "Azaadi". Soon after these event, mother and my grandparents shifted to Jammu. My father later joined them, leaving Kashmir on a Chetak scooter. 
The house he built was burnt down somewhere in 90s.

I visited the house in Habba Kadal in 2014 with my father. I was 15 years old at the time and traveling to the place where my house once stood. The house was sold under distress.

I have among my possessions a very special thing which is responsible for keeping the "Kashmir" alive in is the most valuable thing which is dearest to my heart and cannot be compared with any other thing.

I didn't have the chance to see personally my Kashmir house as it was reduced to rubble like many other pandit houses... My dad found these keys inside an old box while we were painting our house in Jammu... I could see the attachment of Kashmir in his eyes when they held these keys... I asked my parents about it, they then sat me down and told me about each key and which door and lock they unlocked. They also became quite sad to realize that these keys couldn't serve their function anymore. It was then given to me.


[Update December 2018: This piece is now part of anthology "Once we had everything - Literature in Exile (2018). Ed. Arvind Gigoo, Siddhartha Gigoo, Adarsh Ajit. ]

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Mansur al-Hallaj in Kashmir?

Burning of Mansur al-Hallaj.
A leaf from an illustrated manuscript on poetry
Kashmir, 19th century.
via: christies

"Mansur hangs because pen is in the hand of tyrant"
~ Rumi

There is a widely and newly found belief in Kashmir that Mansur al-Hallaj (857-922) visited Kashmir in 896 AD.[1]

The source of the claim comes from "The Passion of Al-Hallaj: Mystic and Martyr of Islam by Louis Massignon" translated and edited by Herbert Mason (1982/94).

In the section "Other Regions travelled" under the section of India it read:

"The capital of Qashmir [Kashmir] is the only sure point on Hallaj's itinert, around 283, in the northwest of India, which we know he reached by the way of the sea, either via Daybul (near present-day Karachi), or via the balad al-shirk, to the east of Gujrat, between Bihruj and Qanbaya. Via Daybul, he went directly up the valley of the India via Mansura-Multan, Muslim towns."

It is an interesting claim because just over a hundred years later, Al-Biruni, the scribe of Mahmud Ghazni during his visit to India in 1017 A.D. writes: " former times, they used to allow one or two foreigners to enter their country, particularly Jews, but at present do not allow any Hindu whom they do not know personally to enter, much less other people."

What Al-Biruni testifies here is that Kashmiris had closed their gates to foreigners in 11th century just as Islam was making inroads all around them. Biruni does mention that previously a few foreigners could find their way into Kashmir, however, the question is was Hallaj one of them?

Boston University scholar of Islamic studies Herbert Mason (1932- 2017) was the first one to make the claim based on his abridged translation of French pioneering scholar of Islam Louis Massignon's  "La passion d'al-Hosayn-ibn-Mansour al-Hallaj : martyr mystique de l'Islam, exécuté à Bagdad le 26 mars 922" (1920).

Louis Massignon, a Catholic, is widely credited for getting Islam accepted as an Abrahamic Faith. It was his work on Islam that ensured that Catholics and the wider world got a version of Islam in which it was seen in a more positive light. Prior to his work, Islam was seen as a "forged "version of Abrahamic religions. He made peace with Islam. It is no surprise that he was a great admirer of Mahatma Gandhi and in 1930s set up Amis de Gandhi [Friends of Gandhi] association in France.

It was Massignon that brought Hallaj out of obscurity and into public consciousness as prominent figure of Islamic history. So, what does the original 1920 book by Massignon say about Hallaj's visit to Kashmir. Here's in French the section Le passage en Qashmîr:
"il est probable qu'ai Hallâj passa directement de l'Inde en Khorâsân, en remontant vers le nord, d'abord par la vallée de l'Indus, ensuite parle Cachemire, alors païen. C'est du moins ce qu'on peut inférer de l'apologue suivant:"

The operations word he uses is "il est probable", "c'est du" and "l'apologue"

The translation:

It is probable that Hallaj passed directly from India to Khorâsân, going up north, first by the valley of the Indus, and then Kashmir, which was then pagan. It is at least what can be inferred from the following apologue.

Massignon unlike Herbert Mason is more cautious about the claim. Mason in his edition casually translates "probable" as "only sure". Since a reader is least likely to get his hand on original French edition, most people like Kashmiri writer Mohammad Ishaq Khan have gone ahead assumed that Massignon is saying it with surety. There are many reasons why Massignon is cautious as the theory is based on an l'apologue or a fable found in a 13th century work "Tadhkirat-ul-Awliyā" (Biographies of Saints) by Attar of Nishapur (1145). In this book Attar had given biographies of various Sufis and ends with the death of Hallaj. Attar of Nishapur died a violent death in 1221 at the hands of Mongols who were out to seek revenge on the city after Genghis Khan's son-in-law died in the city. Tadhkirat-ul-Awliyā is the only prose work by Attar that survived and proved to the source of most of the tales of Hallaj that we now know. 

Tadhkirat-ul-Awliyā was the primary source for the biography of Hallaj drawn by Massignon. Massignon used multiple sources (including a late work Hallaj Nama published in Lucknow and its source Abel Pavet de Courteille's Tezkereh-i-Evliâ. Le Mémorial des Saints (1890) based on a Uighur manuscript) for piecing together the story of Hallaj but the primary source (including for the section on Kashmir) was manuscript published and edited by English orientalist R. A. Nicholson in 1905. 

According to Attar's account of Hallaj as translated by Massignon to French, this is how Kashmir figures in the story: 
Un jour, le shaykh 'Abdallah al Toroûghabdhî ,de la ville de Tous, avait étendu la nappe, et rompait le pain avec ses disciples, quand Mansoûr Hallâj arria de la villede Kashmîr, vêtu d'une qabà noire, tenant en laisse deux chiens noirs.
[Using Google Translate]

"One day, the Shaykh 'Abdallah al Torughabdhi, of the city of Tous, had spread the tablecloth, and was about to break bread with his disciples, when Mansour Hallaj arrived from the city Of Kashmir, dressed in a black qabà [robe], holding on leash two Black dogs."

From here comes the famous story about dogs and Hallaj. Disciples of Torughabdhi are shocked that he gave his seat at the table to someone who eats and walks with dogs (something that would still not taken kindly in Islamic societies, including in Kashmir). And then comes the famous reply, "these dogs were his nafs, they remained outside him, and walked after him; while our dogs remain within ourselves, and we follow them ... His dogs are Outside and you can see them; Yours are hidden. "

The entire theory of Hallaj visiting Kashmir is based in this line - "quand Mansoûr Hallâj arria de la villede Kashmîr/ when Mansour Hallaj arrived from the city Of Kashmir" to Toos.

Tadhkirat-ul-Awliyā also informs us that Indians wrote to Hallaj addressing him as"Abu Moghith" [succorer/helper].

In Attar's 13th century work Tadhkirat-ul-Awliyā, Hallaj is said to have travelled to India to learn magic tricks so that he could bring in more people into Islamic fold. Marco Polo (1254 – 1324) writing in 13th century about his travels with Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan mentions that the Khan had Kashmiri conjurers in his court [probably Buddhist Bakshis, which appear in 13th century Ilkhanid mongol empire of Iran as mongols turn to Islam from Buddhism] . According to him Kashmiris could "make statues speak, change the weather, and bring darkness."

In Tadhkirat-ul-Awliyā, Hallaj is seen to be performing many miracles and it is said that people in Mecca accused him of dealing with Jinns. In western terms, Hallaj is the most famous "witch-burning" case from Islamic world.  It seems Nishpur at the time was under control of Hanafite adversaries of Hallaj so he was visiting Toos

In his footnote to the section, Massignon does mention the curious claim by Al Beruni about restrictions on visiting Kashmir. Massignon understood that tales of Sufis are often exaggerated and was cautious while presenting the story. 

We can't be sure if Hallaj visited Kashmir, can't be sure if people believed it in 13th century when Attar wrote his biography because it is equally possible that Kashmir appeared in a later manuscript.  We can be sure that some Kashmiris would like to believe it to be true, at least since 1994.

In all this long tale of Hallaj in Kashmir what is really worth noting is that in the same 13th century Tadhkirat-ul-Awliyā of Attar, a Kashmiri also makes an appearance. But, no one seems to have noticed it. Or found it worth mentioning. Perhaps because Kashmiri appears as a salve. In the biography of Abu Uthman al-Hiri of Nishpur, a contemporary of Hallaj, in a story, we are casually hold he had four slaves: a Greek, an Ethiopian, a Turk and a Kashmiri.

The question: What were Kashmiri slaves doing in 10th century Iran? Or, what were Kashmiri slaves doing in stories told of Sufis in 13th century Iran? 

Isn't this first mention of a Kashmiri in a Sufi tale?


1. Kashmir's Transition to Islam: The Role of Muslim Rishis, Fifteenth to Eighteenth Century (1994) Mohammad Ishaq Khan



La passion d'al-Hosayn-ibn-Mansour al-Hallaj

Friday, July 14, 2017

Timeless worshipper of idols am I, Dina Nath Walli 'Almast

pit temple, Bijbihara

Aasytan aabad khwaaban hanz yi mahfil aasytan
Aasytan beyi zindagiyi han'dy mod mushkil aasytan.

Life's vicissitudes may be forbidding, I care not;
Only let my dream-land flourish and prosper.

Naavi myaane aavalanisay manz chhu vwony naachuk saroor
Aasytan vwony door yaa nazdeek saahil assytan

Caught in the whirlpool, my boat experiences the exaltations of a dance;
Let the shores be near or far, now I care not.
Intihaaye shok akh kaafee chhu saamaane safar
Husnasay taany ashkasay sath sadar haayil aasytan.

Let the time be in a still greater haste, tell it,
My zeal shall pause only when I reach my goal.

Shokasay myaanis chhu dam hyon manzilas pyeth waatihay
Vaktasy vanytav tamis ami khota ti taajil aasytan

Sufficient for the aspirant is only his intensity of urge,
Seven seas may stand between beauty and love, it matters not.

Kaarvaanav gamakyavay kar myaany tanhaayi khatam
Aasytan beyi krooth ami khwota zyooth manzil aasytan

The caravan of my sorrows, have put an end to my solitude,
The goal may be far and the path beset with difficulties, I mind not.

Dubrahaaray myaani dilachiy chham mye shoknk zerubam
Manzilas taany poshnuk ath fakhar haasil aasytan

My heart-beats are the rhythm and harmony of the music of my urge,
Let these have the glory to last till the goal is reached by me.

Kaarvane shok sapduy kahkashaanas kun ravaan
kyah karee asi asytan dunyah tangdil aasytan

The caravan of my zealous urge has started towards the galaxies,
Let the world be narrow-minded, I care not.

Kyaah chha kath veglaav niy kany chhus bo azalay butparast
Gam ma bar Almasta ami khwota yaar sangdil aasytan

Timeless worshipper of idols am I, smelting of stones is no problem, for me;
Worry not Almast, let the beloved be stone-hearted.

~ Dina Nath Walli 'Almast' (1908- 2006) who was more known for his paintings.

Written in October 1962.

Complete work "Sahraavuky Posh/ Desert Flowers" (1978) 


Sunday, July 9, 2017

House of Kaws, Maharajgunj

In this guest post, Avinash Kachroo shares the story of a house in Srinagar

Pt. Swaroop Nath Kaw from Vicharnaag, was the eldest son of Pt. Sahajram Kaw. He was employed as a teacher in a village further away and had to travel a fair distance everyday. He would make a pit stop along the way - which must have been a popular one with people from all walks of life, wool sellers, weavers, embroidery craftsmen etc also crossing roads. Over some time he learnt that the popular shawl/carpet trade was not integrated and artisans only did specific tasks making money at each step. Contrary to his father's wishes he invested some money in trading and made a neat sum, sufficient to convince his father to accept his decision of diving into the business fully and thus giving up his "cushy" teaching job.

Pt. Swaroopnath made a good fortune and decided to move to Maharajgunj in Srinagar - a hot bed of trade those days. He built a house which comprised of four buildings right on Jhelum, a few homes down from Khanqah. While the first building had his dewankhana where he met visitors, the second comprised family quarters and subsequent ones even had a carpet factory. There is neighborhood folklore of how some subsisted on the pashmina wool waste that was disposed off from the factory. Pt. Swaroopnath had his brother Pt. Madhusudan Kaw help him with managing the accounts while he sent off his youngest brother Mukund Lal Kaw to Lahore [Indore, according to his grand-daughter Sangeeta Kaul ] to gain a degree in medicine. Dr Mukund Kaw came into being one of the earliest medical practitioners of the valley and eventually stayed in the first building of the house. 

Here is a photo of the Kaw family with Pt. Sahajram in the lower row center, his left being Pt Swaroopnath, his right Pt Madhusudhan and top right Dr Mukundlal. The young boy seated in the lower row is Pt Harikishen Kaw, Pt. Swaroopnath's son along with Pt Madhusudan's daughter Batni.

My maternal grandfather Hari Krishen was born in 1920, he looks about 5-6 years old here. So this photograph should date around 1925.

[...]this is very much our house and my father Pt. Hari Krishen Kaw standing at the entrance door after he returned from California in 1988. He is holding a cane and right leg slighted due to his surgery here in San Jose after an accident. In 1990 I met a Cal Berkeley Professor Randolph Langenbach (Also my facebook friend now) in Late Kulbhushan Gupta,s house in Oakland on a Christmas Party. After introduction and pleasantries, he inquired where I originally hailed from. Upon hearing Srinagar, he informed me about his spending two years there as Consultant on environment to Jammu and Kashmir Government and that his speciality was earthquake proof housing. He thought Kasmirian and El-Salvadorian housing were the best earthquake proof housings in the world. He explained something to do with Daji-Deewari, Viram (The long staff) and ductility etc. Upon parting he asked for my address so he would send me his research paper on the subject, he published.Three days later, a tight vanilla envelope arrived by mail and upon pulling the journal slowly from the envelope, the first thing what appeared on the glossy cover of the journal was "American preservation technology journal", further thrust pulling the magazine out revealed the whole glossy cover page with journal name and this particular picture on the front page. [...]

And BTW the house in question has been demolished by people who bought from us and a brand new structure erected taller than 4 stories house we lived in, informs my nephew Avinash Kachroo.

Avinash Kachroo:

The particular building of the group which formed the original household and works of Pt. Sahajram Kaw's sons pictured here ceased to stand when I visited the very spot from where the picture was taken, in 2014 - effecting whatever little closure I needed on Kashmir (having born and raised out of Kashmir). The front building long dispossessed still stood, though extremely dilapidated.
The flight of stone steps had gone and kids stared with a mix of intrigue and curiosity at my intrusive presence

The original river facing building of the household still stood on the very banks which used to be once full of life

My family comes from the Raghunath Temple area of Fateh Kadal. Interestingly, I never visited the temple when we would visit Srinagar during summer each year until my extended joint family sold off that property and we moved out to a new house in Chhanapora. However in 2014 when I visited Srinagar after 25 years, I wanted to visit the temple after the customary visit to the ancestral neighbourhood. We took the kocha to the side door that was closer to our house and was the one my father would take as a kid. However we found that entry had been walled off. We asked some onlooker muslim women who were monitoring the unusual activity and they said the main door from the front was also shut. So we scaled the temple compound wall and found the iconic temple compound and temple building deserted and in absolute mess. The garbha gruha (sanctum sanctorum) doors were missing and so was any trace of the statues. What shocked me was that there was no news of what happened to the temple and why was it in this state. Disappointed, we left the neighbourhood with lots of questions. Any picture of the down town Srinagar is incomplete without Parbat, Khanqah and Raghunath temple - yet this was to befall the landmark.


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Hakhoo of Hockey Stadium

Krishan Kumar Hakhu (extreme left), 1948. The man after whom is named the KK Hakhoo Astro Turf Stadium of Jammu. He was the founder and organiser of "Kashmir Wanderers", a formidable hockey club of Kashmir for years.
Hakhu was originally from Sathu Barbarshah, Srinagar and later settled down at Exchange Road, Jammu. He was nicknamed "Vuzmal"...lightening...for the way he played.
[from personal collection of Sohail Iqbal]

His progenies are now in Jammu and Australia.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

With Propaganda Site of Proxy War

I see a lot of people posting/sharing stuff from "WithKashmir"...all good but understand what is happening when you do it.

Yesterday, someone on twitter claimed that withkashmir. com is a site that was IP owned by someone sitting in Rawalpindi. The owner of withkashmir. org claimed that his site is ".org" and not ".com" and .org is hosted in Kashmir. So it was a smear campaign against the site.

If one checks is indeed true ".org" is registered in Kashmir. And ".com" is banned in India.

The person who runs "withkashmir. org" [again having a twitter verified account ] claimed that ".org' and ".com" are different.

So, it seems like a smear campaign.
But, chor ki dadi may tinka.

If one now looks up the whois info...even ".com" is now showing that it was registered in Kashmir.

So what is happening?

Internet Proxy wars.

Some old pages on the ".org" website still asks readers to write to them on "write@withkashmir. com"
A bit of extra search on crawler sites (which do not update as fast as most other whois site) shows that around 7 months ago withkashmir. com started in Rawalpindi n Pakistan.

And six months ago it switched to "withkashmir. org" was Kashmir address. A handover will all tracks covered.
But, crime always leads a trail.

A simple search shows that withkashmir. org used to be withkashmir. com and it did indeed start in Rawalpindi.

The claim from owner that the site has nothing to do with Rawalpindi

The owner showing the .com is having Indian Address 

the old new sight still linking to ".com" site. 
The Wayback Marchine showing the content of .com site and .org site is same. 

.org stated 6 months ago

after the expose...the "updated" address of .com site also showing Kashmir address
The crawler sites...that didn't catch up with the new address change still showing Rawalpindi Address.
The Linkedin profile of owner showing that he ran .com site
 The details of the site from the crawler sites:

Update Late 2018: The FB page of the website deleted once FB began showing the Admin/Owner country of FB pages as public info. For obvious reasons.

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