Saturday, November 28, 2009
Kashmir : Part 1
Kashmir: Part 1
Jehangir (Emperor Jahangir strengthened the Mughal Empire in India after his father Akbar. Jahangir was born on 31st August, 1569 and was named Nuruddin Salim Jahangir. Nuruddin has been derived from Arabic which means "light of faith". Jahangir is a Persian word which means "world conqueror". Jahangir was an able administrator who had a penchant for the finer things in life. He was not a brutal warrior but a learned politician) described Kashmir as a paradise on earth. The beauty of the land is breathtaking.
According to legend, Jammu was founded by Raja Jamboolochan in the 14th century BCE. During one of his hunting campaigns he reached the Tawi River where he saw a goat and a lion drinking water at the same place. The king was impressed and decided to set up a town after his name, Jamboo. With the passage of time, the name was corrupted and became "Jammu".
According to folk etymology, the name "Kashmir" means "desiccated land" (from the Sanskrit: Ka = water and shimeera = desiccate). In the Rajatarangini, a history of Kashmir written by Kalhana in mid-12th century, it is stated that the valley of Kashmir was formerly a lake. According to Hindu mythology, the lake was drained by the great rishi or sage, Kashyapa, son of Marichi, son of Brahma, by cutting the gap in the hills at Baramulla (Varaha-mula). When Kashmir had been drained, Kashyapa asked Brahmans to settle there. This is still the local tradition, and in the existing physical condition of the country, we may see some ground for the story which has taken this form. The name of Kashyapa is by history and tradition connected with the draining of the lake, and the chief town or collection of dwellings in the valley was called Kashyapa-pura, which has been identified with Kao-1r6.nupos of Hecataeus (apud Stephen of Byzantium) and Kaspatyros of Herodotus (3.102, 4.44). Kashmir is also the country meant by Ptolemy's Kao-ir,~pta.
Cashmere is an archaic spelling of Kashmir, and in some countries it is still spelled this way.
Kashmir was one of the major centre of Sanskrit scholars. According to the Mahabharata,  the Kambojas ruled Kashmir during the epic period with a Republican system of government  from the capital city of Karna-Rajapuram-gatva-Kambojah-nirjitastava., shortened to Rajapura, which has been identified with modern Rajauri. Later, the Panchalas are stated to have established their sway. The name Peer Panjal, which is a part of modern Kashmir, is a witness to this fact. Panjal is simply a distorted form of the Sanskritic tribal term Panchala. The Muslims prefixed the word peer to it in memory of Siddha Faqir and the name thereafter is said to have changed into Peer Panjal. The Mauryan emperor Ashoka is often credited with having founded the city of Srinagar.
Kashmir was once a Buddhist seat of learning, perhaps with the Sarvāstivādan school dominating. East and Central Asian Buddhist monks are recorded as having visited the kingdom. In the late 4th century AD, the famous Kuchanese monk Kumārajīva, born to an Indian noble family, studied Dīrghāgama and Madhyāgama in Kashmir under Bandhudatta. He later becoming a prolific translator who helped take Buddhism to China. His mother Jīva is thought to have retired to Kashmir. Vimalākṣa, a Sarvāstivādan Buddhist monk, travelled from Kashmir to Kucha and there instructed Kumārajīva in the Vinayapiṭaka.
Shah Mir Swati (Reigned 1339-42)
Shams-ud-Din Shah Mir was a ruler of Kashmir and the founder of the Shah Miri dynasty named after him. Jonaraja, in his Rajatarangini mentioned him as Sahamera. He came from Swat (Tribal) territory on the borders of Afganistan, Rinchana from Ladakh, and Lankar Chak from Dard territory near Gilgit came to Kashmir, and played a notable role in subsequentive political history of the valley. All the three men were granted Jagirs by the King Rinchan for 3 years became the ruler of Kashmir, Shah Mir was the first rular of Swati dynasty, which had established in 1339.
Shah Mir was succeeded by his eldest son Jamshid, but he was deposed by his brother Ali Sher probably within few months, who ascended the throne under the name of Alauddin.
In the 14th century, Islam gradually became the dominant religion in Kashmir, starting with the conversion in 1323 of Rincana, the first king of the Sayyid Dynasty from Ladakh. The Muslims and Hindus of Kashmir lived in relative harmony, since the Sufi-Islamic way of life that ordinary Muslims followed in Kashmir complemented the Rishi tradition of Kashmiri Pandits. This led to a syncretic culture where Hindus and Muslims revered the same local saints and prayed at the same shrines. The famous sufi saint Bulbul Shah was able to persuade the king of the time Rinchan Shah from Ladakh to adopt the Islamic way of life, and the foundation of Sufiana composite culture was laid when Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists were co-existing.
Several Kashmiri rulers, such as Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin, were tolerant of all religions in a manner comparable to Akbar. However, several Muslim rulers of Kashmir were intolerant to other religions. Sultãn Sikandar Butshikan of Kashmir (AD 1389-1413) and his (former Brahmin) minister Saif ud-Din are often considered the worst of these. Historians have recorded many of his atrocities. The Tarikh-i-Firishta records that Sikandar persecuted the Hindus and issued orders proscribing the residence of any other than Muslims in Kashmir.
The metrical chronicle of the kings of Kashmir, called Rajatarangini, has (erroneousy) been pronounced by Professor H.I. Wilson to be the only Sanskrit composition yet discovered to which the appellation "history" can with any propriety be applied. It first became known to the Muslims when, on Akbar's invasion of Kashmir in 1588, an amalgamated version was presented to the emperor. A translation into Persian was made at his order. A summary of its contents, taken from this Persian translation, is given by Abul Fazl in the Ain-i-Akbari. The Rajatarangini was written by Kalhana in the middle of the 12th century. His work, in eight books, makes use of earlier writings that are now lost.
The Rajatarangini is the first of a series of four histories that record the annals of Kashmir. Commencing with a rendition of traditional 'history' of very early times (3102 BCE), the Rajatarangini comes down to the reign of Sangrama Deva, (c.1006 AD) and Kalhana. The second work, by Jonaraja, continues the history from where Kalhana left off, and, entering the Muslim period, gives an account of the reigns down to that of Zain-ul-ab-ad-din, 1412. P. Srivara carried on the record to the accession of Fah Shah in 1486. The fourth work, called Rajavalipataka, by Prajnia Bhatta, completes the history to the time of the incorporation of Kashmir in the dominions of the Mogul emperor Akbar, 1588.
Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu
By the early 19th century, the Kashmir valley had passed from the control of the Durrani Empire of Afghanistan, and four centuries of Muslim rule under the Mughals and the Afghans, to the conquering Sikh armies. Earlier, in 1780, after the death of Ranjit Deo, the Raja of Jammu, the kingdom of Jammu (to the south of the Kashmir valley) was captured by the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh of Lahore and afterwards, until 1846, became a tributary to the Sikh power. Ranjit Deo's grandnephew, Gulab Singh, subsequently sought service at the court of Ranjit Singh, distinguished himself in later campaigns, especially the annexation of the Kashmir valley by the Sikhs army in 1819, and, for his services, was created Raja of Jammu in 1820. With the help of his officer, Zorawar Singh, Gulab Singh soon captured Ladakh and Baltistan, regions to the east and north-east of Jammu.
In 1845, the First Anglo-Sikh War broke out, and Gulab Singh "contrived to hold himself aloof till the battle of Sobraon (1846), when he appeared as a useful mediator and the trusted advisor of Sir Henry Lawrence. Two treaties were concluded. By the first the State of Lahore (i.e. West Punjab) handed over to the British, as equivalent for (rupees) one crore of indemnity, the hill countries between Beas and Indus; by the second the British made over to Gulab Singh for (Rupees) 75 lakhs all the hilly or mountainous country situated to the east of Indus and west of Ravi" (i.e. the Vale of Kashmir). Soon after Gulab Singh's death in 1857, his son, Ranbir Singh, added the emirates of Hunza, Gilgit and Nagar to the kingdom.
Portrait of Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1847, a year after signing the Treaty of Amritsar, when he became Maharaja by purchasing the territories of Kashmir "to the eastward of the river Indus and westward of the river Ravi" for 75 lakhs rupees from the British (Artist: James Duffield Harding).The Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu (as it was then called) was constituted between 1820 and 1858 and was "somewhat artificial in composition and it did not develop a fully coherent identity, partly as a result of its disparate origins and partly as a result of the autocratic rule which it experienced on the fringes of Empire." It combined disparate regions, religions, and ethnicities: to the east, Ladakh was ethnically and culturally Tibetan and its inhabitants practised Buddhism; to the south, Jammu had a mixed population of Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs; in the heavily populated central Kashmir valley, the population was overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, however, there was also a small but influential Hindu minority, the Kashmiri brahmins or pandits; to the northeast, sparsely populated Baltistan had a population ethnically related to Ladakh, but which practised Shi'a Islam; to the north, also sparsely populated, Gilgit Agency, was an area of diverse, mostly Shi'a groups; and, to the west, Punch was Muslim, but of different ethnicity than the Kashmir valley. After the Indian Rebellion of 1857, in which Kashmir sided with the British, and the subsequent assumption of direct rule by Great Britain, the princely state of Kashmir came under the paramountcy of the British Crown.
Ranbir Singh's grandson Hari Singh ascended the throne of Kashmir in 1925. The Maharajah Hari Singh never represented the will of his subjects, creating tension between the Hindu rulers and the Muslim population of Kashmir. Muslims in Kashmir detested him, as they were heavily taxed and had grown tired of his insensitivity to their religious concerns. The Dogra rule (the name of the municipal governments) had excluded Muslims from the civil service and the armed services. Islamic religious ceremonies were taxed. Historically, Muslims were banned from organizing politically, which would only be tolerated beginning in the 1930s. In 1931, in response to a sermon that had tones of opposition to the government, the villages of Jandial, Makila, and Dana were ransacked and destroyed by the Dogra army, with their inhabitants burned alive. A legislative assembly, with no real power, was created in January, 1947. It issued one statement that represented the will of the Muslim people: "After carefully considering the position, the conference has arrived at the conclusion that accession of the State to Pakistan is absolutely necessary in view of the geographic, economic, linguistic, cultural and religious conditions…It is therefore necessary that the State should accede to Pakistan".
This is one of the rare instances that an elected block of the people of Kashmir had been given the chance to speak. Representing the subjects who elected them, they sought accession with Muslim Pakistan. Prem Nath Bazaz, founder of the Kashmir Socialist Party in 1943, a reliable primary source of history, reiterated that a majority of Kashmiris were against the decision of the Maharajah in his book, The History of The Struggle of Freedom In Kashmir. He writes, "The large majority of the population of the State, almost the entire Muslim community and an appreciable number of non Muslims was totally against the Maharjah declaring accession to India." This statement, and the decision reached by the legislative assembly are important because they dispel any belief that the Kashmiris' religious ties with Pakistan did not necessarily indicate a will to unite. Indeed, the ethnic bond between Kashmir and Pakistan influenced a majority of the people to seek accession with Pakistan. The Hindu Maharajah would not listen, and continued to delay his decision about which nation to join.