Thursday, May 7, 2020

Animus for Kritiya


Harwan Tile
Harwan Tile. 1950s when tiles were still openly displayed at the site
 
After about fifty years post death of Buddha (around 450 BC), monk Madhyantika arrives in Kashmir to bring it into the domain of Dharma. He brings along with him Manushakritya, "householder" slaves to inhibit and serve the place. They become the rulers of Kashmir after the death of Madhyantika. Overtime, native Naga worship mixed with Brahmanism and Buddhism. A mix looked down upon as corruption of Dharma.  

These people introduced to Kashmir by Madhyantika are referred as Kritiyas in travelogues of Chinese Buddhist pilgrim texts. Kritiyas, at the time was used contemptuously to mean unclear/lowborn/pigs/demons who dig out corpses/"serfs"-slaves bought. In the story of these people we find for first time hatred for a group of people in Kashmir, for their mixed native beliefs and for their rise to power. 

About four hundred years after the death of Buddha, Kanishka of Gandhara (Kushan dynasty (c. 127–150 CE) arrived in Kashmir to get rid of the Kritya Kings who had abandoned Buddhism and fallen back to older traditions. After he leaves, Kritiyas again gained power.  Kalhana calls Kanishka of turushka race [used in Rajatarangi for Turkic ]. The Chinese histories identify Kushans as Yuezhi, who originally lived in the very western part of Gansu in Northwest China until they were forced to emigrate by the Xiongnu, a confederation comprising other nomadic tribes of the region in around 177 BCE. Among this defeated mass, rose a branch of tribe which defeated Greeks in Bactria and came to be known as Kushanas. In later Persian history produced in Kashmir, the writers, rewriting older myths, were to claim that Kanishka (Kushanas) was deputed by Prophet Solomon or Sulaiman to rule Kashmir. The same Sulaiman who had flown to Baramulla and cleared the gorge to create the valley.   

Kalhana mentions Abhimanyu I as the ruler of Kashmir after Kanishka. Under Abhimanyu  I, the native cult as represented in Nilamata-purana is restored. However, Buddha mentioned as an avatar of Vishnu in Nilamata and celebrated. People practice Naga+Brahminical+Buddhist practices. In this era, Patanjali's Mahabhasya was [re-]introduced in Kashmir by Chanda. 

Far way from Kashmir, but around same time, in East India, under Pushyamitra Shunga (c. 185 – c. 149 BCE), a something similar Brahmin revival is happening. Buddhist texts mentions persecution. Mahabhasya becomes central. 


Hiuen Tsiang ( 602 – 664 A.D.) mentions that in around 280 A.D (six hundred years after the death of Buddha) Kritiyas were again thrown out of power in Kashmir by a warrior tribe. This time a Shakya clan king arrived from Himatala [sue-shan-hai/under the snowy mountain] of Tukhara [Central Asia, central Bactria] to re-establish Dharma in Kashmir.  Shakya/Sakas, originally Scythians from Central Asia, was the same tribe to which belonged Buddha. This clan of Shakya was earlier driven out of Shakya territory and into Bactria during Buddha's time by King Virudhaka of Kosala. Virudhaka's mother was daughter of a Shakya man and a slave women. Virudhaka claimed the Kosala empire by overthrowing his father and then proceeding to annihilate the Shakya clan as a punishment for defrauding him of his legitimacy, for they sent a slave born to marry a Kosala royalty.   

This King of Himatala and his warriors came in disguise of traders to Kashmir. After beheading the king in court, he handed over the country to monks and left. Krityas come to hate the Dharma all the more as more than once they had been defeated. 

Hiuen Tsiang mentions that neighbouring kings held the Kashmiri Nagas in scorn, they refused alliance with them. He adds that they called them, Ki-li-to, translated as Kritya. He says that Kashmir at the time was again in control run of Kritiyas and thus Dharma (Buddhism), flourishing but was in decline. 

Hiuen Tsiang was hosted in Kashmir by King Dwilabhavardhan (600- 636 A.D.) founder of Karkota dynasty. Karkota name coming from name of a mythical Naga serpent deity (a name one among many mentioned in Nilamata). Durlabhavardhana is said to have been the son of Naga. Thus this is considered to be the start of the rule of Naga Karkota dynasty. Coins show him as "Durlabhadeva". We have also possibly a reference to Dwilabhavardhana in a notice of the Chinese annals, which mention Tu-lo-pa as a king of India who controlled the route from China to Ki-pin i.e. the Kabul valley somewhere between 629-647.  Hiuen Tsiang distinctly records that Taksasila (Taxila, now in Rawalpindi district Punjab of Pakistan) was already in ruins in by this time. He writes that Ursaor/Hazara, Simhapura or the Salt range with smaller hill-states of Rajapuri and Parnotsa (modern Punch), had no independent rulers, but were tributary to Kashmir. Interestingly, Rajatarangini tells us that at this time Vaisnavism had a considerable presence in Kashmir among royals. Under Karkota one temple of Shiva was built or renovated. Mahabhasya was once again revived under Jayapida (751-782 A.D.) of Karkota dynasty. 


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