Tuesday, October 21, 2014


The frequency with which one is seeing ISIS flags being displayed in Kashmir these days has lead to heated debates. From “outright condemnation” to “they have no role in Kashmir” arguments we are losing sight of the bigger picture. To be fair to the separatists’ one has to accept that even the separatists themselves would hate to see the so called “freedom struggle” being hijacked by the ISIS. The presence of ISIS would mean shrinking of Petro and Paki money that separatists are so used to. It would also mean de-legitimization of whatever little legitimacy it may have in the eyes of OIC members since the world at large has already seen through the “freedom struggle” of “indigenous Kashmiris”.

Yet we are seeing young men displaying ISIS flags at regular intervals. The question is not whether ISIS has an organizational structure in Kashmir or not, or whether those displaying the flags owe their allegiance to ISIS or not. It is also not important whether the background checks on these “idiots” as Omar Abdullah would like to call them, revealed their links to any terrorist organization or not. What is important to know is what kind of people would display the flags of a barbaric, obscurantist, medieval mindset terrorist network.

Kashmir has experienced periods of extreme religious bigotry in the past as well. The armed insurgents both locals as well as foreigners used barbaric methods of killing and torture. From axing people on saw mills to chopping their genitals, from nailing the heads of infidels to gouging the eyes of their victims the terrorists have used every inhuman way of creating fear into those who disagreed with them. So in a way one can ask, how different or more barbaric is the ISIS when compared to let us say a JKLF or a Hizbul Mujahideen.

In the last two and half decades Kashmir has been radicalized to a degree that was unknown in its history. The entire countryside is teeming with a group which calls itself “Allahwalles” or The People of God. They are ubiquitous. This is one radicalization that I must admit hasn’t come from Pakistan but from mainland India. They have sown the seeds of puritanical Islam in the vast swathes of Kashmir. The Kashmiri countryside is hugely influenced by their thought. Then there are other ideologies like Ahl-e-Hadees who indoctrinate their followers in Wahhabism a thought that stands in complete contrast to the local born Sufis of Kashmir. As a young boy living in the countryside I have seen women of my village wearing colourful pherans with Salwars and a Headgear, while now, girls as young as seven are completely draped. More men sport “Islamic” beards than ever before. The issuance of a fatwa to an all girls music band by Grand Mufti was an ominous sign. This tells us how far religion has travelled in Kashmir in the recent years. The Dargahs of the Sufi saints have seen less attendance and the numbers are falling every year. In the past one would see huge gatherings at the Dargahs of Kashmiri Poets like Ahmed Batwari or a Shamas Faqir but as time passes by, there is a question being asked by the young in Kashmir,Is it Islamic to bow there ?

It is in the light of such retrograde developments that one needs to see the “appearance” of ISIS Flags. It may be true that only a handful young men support the idea of ISIS, it may equally be true that the philosophy of ISIS may not have many takers in Kashmir but then the very fact that radicalization has reached a stage where even if a handful have empathy towards the ISIS and its methods is a matter of grave concern. It is undoubtedly a failure of the administration that people are waving these flags but what should worry us more is that the ones waving the flags today would be the gun runners of ISIS tomorrow. We would be ignoring the issue at our own peril.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Medical Camp for flood victims of Kashmir

Roots in Kashmir organised a 3 day medical Camp (28-30th Sep, 2014) at Srinagar for flood hit victims. They were provided with free medicines and vaccinated against Hepatitis, Typhoid and Tetanus.

The camps were organised at the following places:
1. Zyestha Devi Temple
2. Durganag Temple
3. Ganpatyar Temple
4. Karfalli Mohalla

Our heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Pawan Zuthsi, Dr. Anil Dhar and Dr. A P Singh, who flew from Delhi to attend to these patients.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

A case in favour of Haider

2 years ago i had read a book titled ” We wish to inform you, we will be killed with our families”, based on ethnic cleansing of one certain sect in Africa, Rwanda. The title of the book stringed by heart and i knew i had to read it. Page by page the story unfolded incidents about how minority sect was murdered by majority. I, being the naive reader of history of Africa, read faster than i could consume, to get to the underlying cause, the reason for ethnic cleansing of the minority tribe. Apparently, i could not find one logical reason why Hutu , the majority, killed 75% population of minority sect, Tutsi. The book is a memoir of the genocide. Unknown number of Hutus participated in killing and arson against minority Tutsi. The survivor interviews make it known that neighbors , friends and co workers , with whom they shared land, lanes and boundaries of homes, were part of mob that attacked and killed them.  The hate Hutus had for Tutsi, could not be attributed to any know or stated cause in the book by author. A similar hate was reserved for one particular community during time when Hitler ruled Germany. A fictional movie based during events of that time, related Jews to mouse, justifying that despite it being harmless, men have certain repulsive emotion for it. Jews, it meant, were mouse meant to be chase and killed.
Narratives are important, from both sides in fact, victim and his persecutor, for a victim cannot falsify history if his persecutor does not speak . History, alas, is often written by victor, because propaganda does become a substantial part, as it gets inked , unlike stories of victims which remain oral  and hence diluted with time. Propaganda does not end with justification, its meant to project persecutor as victim and victim as his initial oppressor. There is some romance is showing how victims rose and rebelled against his oppressor.  Same way like Jews were said to dominate the German civil society and hence all hatred was justified. But fortunately for Jews, world and their own kind, told their stories and inked their history. Also, fortunately for Jews,  they ended up being on side of victors after the war ended.
It is important to understand the context written above. 2 examples , set in different continents, different zones. Yet, the cause for hate towards the victims is unknown, rather unjustified. Kashmir set in 85-89 was the same Germany and the same Rwanda. Yes, the stats where different in terms of dead’s of victims but the soul of anarchy was the same. A minority community, less that 5% of population was targeted. What happened and who did, is truth that is told by many, far more accomplished people than me.  Haider, sets a narrative, that is different from truth and history of Kashmir. But my case is not against it, as  freedom of speech is imperative for me and my kind, who struggled 25 years to find a voice in media , to tell our story. Haider can never and will never take away the fact, nor alter it, neither defeat it. When 20 years of media propaganda of masquerading persecutor as victim couldn’t box the facts, one film , a motion movie, can not change it. Haider, is just another reason, a reminder and a provocation for victims to fight harder, speak louder to tell their stories. In fact movies like Haider define why heart aches happen to KP men and women. It ensures that strings get plucked that have been dusted in last 25 years. I have not seen Haider nor do i intent to watch it. Haider again gives me a reason to raise my voice , in fact i have been raising my voice since 25 years, but ears get concerned only when i speak against Haiders and its kind. So lets thank the makers in their attempt to trample with facts and put blanket blindness to the exodus, genocide and continuous victimization of a minority sect. For good is always in comparison to a evil.
Speaking of evil as the makers converted, one of only two , sun temples in India, into a place of devil ( Martand Sun temple ) for a song sequence  , a certain Muslim king of Kashmir, Sikander Butshikan would be happy in his grave. For he tried for one complete year to burn the temple down , yet its ruins stood the test.  Its another case and fact that maker was informed and told story of KPs by people who thought, hopefully, he is making a fact based movie and not churning another mythical oppressor is victim propaganda.  He chose to ignore it but we should make him remember it each time, every time.

PS : Have you ever thought where exilees and refugee’s kids go on summer breaks?
Author: Akshay Ambardar. Twitter: @AkshayAmbardar

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Can this flood wash away a painful past?

Can this flood wash away a painful past? http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/can-this-flood-wash-away-a-painful-past/article6438991.ece

A natural disaster in Kashmir has brought Hindus and Muslims closer. But the wounds run very deep
Jammu and Kashmir is currently facing a severe flood crisis. In Kashmir Valley, the ferocity of the waters has led to several deaths and large-scale destruction of property. While many groups and individuals are involved in rescue and relief operations, the Indian Army has so far been the biggest saviour.
Many are now hoping that this leads to the Kashmiris looking at the Indian military personnel in a different light. Given Kashmir and its embittered history of the last 25 years, that will take much more than a rescue operation.
But the flood has seemingly achieved something else. It has brought the Kashmiri Muslims and their erstwhile neighbours, the exiled Hindu community, closer. In 1990, Islamist extremism forced Kashmiri Pandits out of a land where their ancestors had lived for thousands of years.
The Pandits, constituting less than 5 per cent of the Valley’s population in 1990, were driven out in a violent ethnic cleansing. More than 700 of them were brutally done to death.
Ignored by the state
Today, out of more than 3,50,000 Pandits, only around 3,000 remain in Kashmir Valley. The Indian state has displayed lack of strength or even unwillingness to intervene in pogroms or other forms of violence perpetrated against its various communities. This arc of injustice includes the 1984 anti-Sikh pogrom, and the 1993 and 2002 communal riots in Mumbai and Gujarat. Similarly, the state has repeatedly ignored the plight of its tribal communities in both central India and the Northeast, and has remained almost indifferent to injustices meted out to the Dalit community.
In post-flood Kashmir, at least, moderate voices are hoping that the “shared fate” (of losing home) will now result in an empathetic view of “each other” and that the Pandits and Muslims will come to some sort of understanding on how to normalise relations. Is there a possibility of justice and reconciliation in Kashmir on the lines of South Africa or Rwanda? Can the Kashmiri Pandits return to their homes, especially given that the new government at the Centre has listed it as a priority?
While most of the houses in the Valley belonging to the Pandits have been sold for a pittance under extreme duress, the return under such circumstances also involves re-establishing the neighbourly trust.
However, as Ivana Macek writes about Sarajevo, such a process is a painstaking emotional and social endeavour, something that cannot be regulated from “the above” by political agreements or well-meaning but often poorly informed outsiders.
Even if the Kashmiri Pandits were to be housed in a separate settlement, the scars of 1990 will not go. It will be difficult to forget how, in several cases, their former neighbours, friends or colleagues were directly or indirectly involved in the murder of their loved ones (and in other brutalities such as rape).
The phenomenon of personalised violence, according to the scholar Cornelia Sorabji, acquires a particular importance since “brutality is aimed at humiliating, terrorising, and killing the ‘enemy’ population in order to remove it from the territory, but also at transforming the assumptions held by both victims and perpetrators about the very nature of identity groups and boundaries in order to prevent any future return of the exiled population”.
Absolute denial
So, how can the Pandits be expected to return without getting justice? And justice, as Victoria M Esses and Richard A Venon argue, does not only mean a formal legal system but also “people’s beliefs about the fairness of a particular situation”. The unfairness of the Pandit exile is a permanent denial by their erstwhile neighbours of being responsible for or complicit in crimes committed against them, or even an acknowledgement that the exile was forced upon them. There is absolute denial, forget public remorse or asking for forgiveness.
Various Pandit narratives have also recorded passiveschadenfreude by their neighbours and friends, like compelling many exiled Pandits to sell their houses during the peak of the conflict for a pittance and at a time when they were under extreme financial stress.
The process of reconciliation and justice can only begin once the two communities try and understand each other’s pain. The counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir have been deeply unpleasant. Around 17,000 civilians have died, roughly one-fourth of them at the hands of the Indian security forces. More than 8,000 persons have disappeared, and many of them are believed to have been killed by security forces as well. For many years, Kashmiris in the Valley had to suffer the humiliation of crackdowns and identification parades.
Justice denied
Over the last 25 years, instead of accepting the brutalisation of 1990, a majority of Muslims created the myth of Jagmohan, the then Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, who they claim encouraged the Pandits to leave. Myths, as Pal Kolsto, reminds us, “do not function or ‘act’ in one way or another of and by themselves: it is people who employ myths, in more or less harmful ways”.
That is why in the midst of this injustice, the Pandits’ call for justice corresponds to (as argued by Isabella Delpla): (a) a staunch denunciation of impunity; (b) a personal attempt to forgive (or both, since, according to Delpla, the two stances can be compatible); and (c) a personal refusal to use violence (but saying things like “God will take care of them” or “God has taken revenge through the flood”).
For 25 years, the Indian state has hardly shown any interest in providing justice to Kashmiri Pandits while a majority of India’s intellectuals have denied them agency. This long apathy has ensured that most of the documentary evidence of the crimes committed against them is lost. But like Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem, eye-witness testimony can lead to what the French historian Annette Wieviorka calls the “social recognition” of their suffering.
This commemoration from below (where the focus is on the subjective and psychological needs of victims) has to be the first step in bridging the gorge between the two communities. And then justice, in a legal sense, can follow. As Kavitha Kalvakuntla, the MP from Telangana, recently demanded in the Lok Sabha, this must include putting on trial terrorists such as Farooq Ahmed Dar aka Bitta Karate, who is responsible for killing at least 20 people, most of them Pandits.
Only then can the gorge of 1990 be bridged.
The writer is senior editor of The Hindu and author of Our Moon Has Blood Clots. He is a CASI visiting fellow. This article is by special arrangement with the Center for the Advanced Study of India, University of Pennsylvania
(This article was published on September 23, 2014)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Jalodbhava of 21st Century

The story of creation of Kashmir goes back to around 5000 years, when a demon by the name Jalodbhava, who although raised by Nagas, became a trouble for them. The nagas with the help of Sage Kashyap, requested Lord Vishnu to help them get rid of the demon. Vishnu drained the valley of its water and killed the demon. It was on the request of Sage Kashyap, the Nagas welcomed the humans to the valley of Kashmir. This was the beginning of human habitation in Kashmir. As a mark of gratitude, the Kashmiri Pandits (Hindus) still revere Nagas, through the springs of Kashmir (Spring is called Nag in Kashmiri). Almost every temple in Kashmir has a spring considered to be a residing place of nagas of Kashmir and hence sacred
The tradition continued till 1990, when almost in one single night, the entire Kashmiri Hindu population was forced to leave their home of 5000 years. The pro-Pakistani elements and the Jihadis ensured that the valley is bereft of its aborigines and its only minority. On the night of 19th January, 1990, almost 5,00,000 people were forced to flee by force, coercion, threat, killing, rape or any other threat a savage could use.
In the last few years, Pandits yearning for their roots, decided to visit their holy sites. One such visit was planned this year by a group of 40 Kashmiri Pandits, to the holy spring of Kaunsar Nag also known as VishnuPad (feet of Lord Vishnu).
Kaunsar Nag is a spring in the mountain range of Pir Panchal in south Kashmir. The spring has numerous mentions in the religious texts of Kashmiri Pandits and even in the historical texts like Rajtarangani. Konsarnag – Myth, Legend and History
While not required by any law, they pilgrims considering the ground situation in Kashmir, decided to inform the concerned authorities about this trip. The idea was also not to provide an alibi to the authorities in case of an unfortunate event. The approval was duly given by the Deputy Commissioner of the area.
  Kausarnag Yatra DC approval
This did not go well with the Jalodbhava of the current era. The three elements of previous Jalodbhava were present in even now. There was Nag (spring), the descendents of Kashyap and water. The jalodbhava, now known as Syed Ali Shah Geelani, raised the voice of protest against the pilgrimage. He initially chose the camouflage of environment, forgetting that the spring and its surrounding were being promoted as a tourist destination by Tourism Department and thousand of tourist visit the spring every year.
On being rebutted with facts and low numbers of the pilgrims, Jalodbhava was left with no option but to show his true colours (Terminate Kaunsar Nag Yatra). The protest was against Hindus doing pilgrimage in Kashmir as his followers’ believe that Kashmir is only for Muslims.
 Posters against Kaunsar Nag Yatra
The Jalodbhava created communal tension, instigated violence against the pilgrimage and even threatened the pilgrims. As usual, the weak state government succumbed to the pressure of this demon and prohibited the pilgrims from taking the pilgrimage. (Separatists force govt. to withdraw permission for Kaunsar Nag yatra)
While the mythological Jalodbhava used his physical power to kill people, the reborn jallodbhava uses the gift of gab and religious ignorance to kill people.  The Jalodbhava of 21st century has been playing with the lives of many for over the years. While his children live a life of comfort, he has been brainwashing the youth of Kashmir against a plural society and respect for other religions. He has been indirectly responsible for many deaths. In 2010, the Jalodbhava through his rabid communal speeches instigated young impressionable minds to stone pelting and arson, resulting in death of around 120 people.
Post exodus of Kashmiri Pandits, the separatist like Geelani, had been shredding crocodile tears for their Pandit brothers. Knowing fully that Kashmiri Pandits return is difficult, (some even said impossible); they saw no harm in lying blatantly. Kashmiri Pandits were assured of protection, full religious freedom and brotherly treatment. Then something unexpected happen, the 2014 elections of India, threw up a Prime Minister, who for the first time in 25 years, confidently talked about the return of Kashmiri Pandits. This in conjunction with increasing number of Kashmiri Pandits returning to valley for pilgrimage created panic in the minds of Jalodbhava and his cronies. They today feel that Kashmiri Pandits can come back, hence, the mask of Kashmiryat (an imaginary word for ‘Hindus being treated well in Kashmir’) had to be thrown aside to block the return of Kashmiri Pandits.
The modern Jalodbhava sees the return of Kashyap descendents as a threat to his existence, and hence the opposition. Interestingly, the mythological Jalobhava was killed by Lord Vishnu from the very same spot, what is today knows as Kaunsar Nag

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


Kausarnag is an ancient pilgrimage like Amarnath. Before the forced exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in 1989 Kashmiri Hindus would undertake this Yatra every year. The river Vishoka Veshav in Kashmiri) as per belief is considered the incarnation of Lakshmi in Kashmir and since time immemorial this Yatra is being taken. The name Kausar Nag comes from Karm Sarovar Nag.
After a gap of 25 years Kashmiri Pandits decided to re-start this Yatra once again. The permission was sought from Government of J&K through formally submitting a request to the Deputy Commissioner of Kulgam District and the permission was duly given by him on 2nd July,2014. Accordingly arrangements were made for the Yatra.
The separatists started protesting against the Yatra saying it was a plan to change demography of Kashmir. They circulated posters against India, Kashmiri Pandits and the Yatra. In these posters they called Kashmir a Muslim Land.The posters read that India plans to change the demography of Kashmir on the lines that Israel has done.The posters were pasted all over South Kashmir. The separatists also started a campaign saying that the Yatra will destroy fragile environment. Nothing can far from truth than this.The Ahrbal Development Authority is inviting tourists to this lake. How can 50 Pandit pilgrims destroy the environment when thousands of house boat hotels in Dal are not doing it?
The separatists also started protests by means of stone pelting, burning of tyres, blocking of roads so as to threaten the Yatris.On 30th evening the Deputy Commissioner of Kulgam told a news correspondent that they have cancelled the permission although we have not been formally given any communication so far.The Deputy Commissioner obviously under pressure from CM Omar Abdullah cancelled the permission saying that the Yatra should be taken via Reasi saying that ,that is the traditional route for the Yatra. The Yatra route always has been Shopian-Kongwatan-Kausarnag.
This was an abject surrender by the State government in the face of protests by the anti nationals. The Yatris who had come from Delhi, Pune and Jammu were left with no option but to go back .
We request the Hon’ble Minister to
1.      Intervene and ask the State Government to re-issue the permission for the Yatra which was cancelled at the behest of the separatists.
2.      To be kind to Ensure Security for the Yatra via its traditional Route ie.Shopian and not Reasi ,this is not the Yatra Route.
Submitted by
Kashmiri Pandits  on 1st Aug,2014

Monday, June 30, 2014

Round Table Meet

The Kashmiri Pandit exodus is now into its 25th year. For the first time Kashmiri Pandits see a ray of hope in a national leader. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s robust espousal of the national interest, a no non-sense approach to security related challenges and an unqualified commitment to national integrity are particularly a matter of assurance for us, the Hindus of Kashmir in exile.

Along with this hope have risen some apprehensions too. Whether those in the government vested with the task, are sufficiently aware of the issues and the challenges involved? Are they reaching out to the community for wider consultations?

The recent spate of meetings the senior government officials and some ministers have had with the usual suspects from within the community is a matter of concern. Also, linking the return of the exiled community to the valley with only money, jobs and land is even bigger reason for alarm. This is a renewed attempt to sell the same non-solutions that the old congress governments have been attempting in the past. Such attempts tend to reduce our exodus from the valley to some kind of a natural calamity like famine flood or earth quake.       

Roots in Kashmir, the frontline organization of the exiled Kashmiri Pandits, organized a ‘Round Table Conference” in Delhi, where the leading Kashmiri Pandit organizations and credible individual activists were invited. The agenda was to discuss the critical prerequisites for a viable and sustainable rehabilitation of Kashmiri Hindus in the valley.

The round Table was attended by Dr. Agnishekar, Convenor Panun Kashmir and Dr. Ajay Chungroo,  Chairman Panun Kashmir, Sh.Rakesh Razdan, Vice President, Kashmiri Samiti Delhi, Sh.Amit Raina, Coordinator, APMCC, Sh.Kundan Kashmiri, President, Kashmiri Pandit Conference, Sh.Veerji Wangoo, President, Youth for Panun Kashmir, Sh. Sunil Shakdar, Chairman S K Foundation, Sh.Pavitra Handoo, Former President Kashmir Overseas Association, Sh.Ashish Zutshi, Roots in Kashmir, Sh. R.K Mattoo, Former Editor, The New Indian Express,  Dr. S S Toshkhani, well known Poet, Linguist, writer & scholar, Sh.P.L.Razdan and Ashok Zalpuri, known community activists  amongst others.

A unanimous resolution was passed by the participants representing the community, clearly identifying the 4 non-negotiables for the return of the Kashmiri Pandits:

1.    Acceptance of the problem as religious cleansing and genocide - It was resolved that the issue of return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Hindus to Kashmir valley cannot be addressed without recognizing the fact that they were subjected to religious cleansing  and genocide which eventually lead to their displacement. Addressing the issue of return and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Hindus in any other concocted context only compounds the problem and is tantamount to denial of genocide.

2.    Forming a Tribunal of Justice - It was resolved that the government of India should recognize the problem of uprootment of Kashmiri Hindus as genocide and invoke the covenants of prevention of genocide. It was further resolved the government of India should create a tribunal on the pattern of Nuremberg trials to bring the perpetrators of genocide of Kashmiri Hindus to justice.

3.    Centrally Administrative Place, One Territory - It was resolved that Kashmiri Hindus be rehabilitated at one centrally administered territory in Kashmir valley with free flow of Indian Constitution. A sustainable and permanent return of Kashmiri Hindus will be possible only in such a dispensation.

4.    Accession of Kashmir is non-negotiable - It was resolved that accession of Jammu and Kashmir to India is final and irrevocable.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Kashmiri Pandits protest Omar Abdullah's remark on their exodus

Sunday, 4 May 2014 - 10:40pm IST Updated: Sunday, 4 May 2014 - 10:45pm IST | Place: Srinagar | Agency: PTI            
A group of Kashmiri Pandits today held a protest over recent remarks by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah that the exodus of the community from the Valley took place in 1990 when Jagmohan was the Governor.
Holding placards, the Pandits raised slogans at Jantar Mantar against Omar and said his remarks of blaming BJP for the exodus was akin to "not acknowledging the real reason and the people" responsible for it.
The protests held by Jammu-based organistaion Youth 4 Panun Kashmir (Y4PK) and joined by Roots In Kashmir (RIK), condemned Omar's statements on the issue.
"We are tired of listening to rhetoric and being refugees in our own country," Amit Raina of Roots In Kashmir said.
Omar recently in a rebuttal to BJP leader Narendra Modi's attack on him and NC chief Farooq Abdullah that their family "communalised" the state had said, "When Kashmiri Pandits left the Valley, Jagmohan, who has not parted ways with BJP yet, as far as I know, was ruling the state (as Governor). Farooq Sahib was not in power."
"Jagmohan was appointed by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed (now PDP patron), who was the Home Minister in VP Singh cabinet. VP Singh was heading the government with BJP support...I hope they (BJP leaders) remember this," Omar said.
The protesters demanded that an inquiry commission be set up to look into the "incidents and violence" that led to their community's exodus from Kashmir on Jaunary 19, 1990.
"And, Omar said we had 'left' Kashmir. Playing politics, he put the blame on BJP. Don't we know who did it? We condemn his statement," Panun Kashmir member and a protester, Lalit Ambardar said.
Panun Kashmir Delhi Co-ordinator Vithal Chowdhary, who fled J&K when he was just seven years old, said, their demands were very simple and their protests always have been "against the Indian state and not the Indian nation".
The protesters also alleged that Farooq's recent remarks that "those who vote for Modi should drown in the sea" was a way for the father-son duo to "absolve" themselves of their responsibilities.
"Among our other demands is a piece of land back in our homeland Kashmir where we can live and be governed by a free flow of the Constitution, without the shadow of Article 370 over our head. We don't want to be treated as minorities but as any other Indian," he said.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Omar Abdullah Blog - May 2008

It's so easy to say that we will lay down our lives to bring Kashmiri Pandits back to the Valley and I appreciate the sentiment as I am sure the Kashmiri Pandits reading it will. Pity that sentiment was missing when our mosques were being used to drive these people out, None of us was willing to stand up and be counted when it mattered. None of us grabbed the mikes (microphones) in the mosques and said 'this is wrong and the Kashmiri Pandits had every right to continue living in the valley.

Our educated, well-to-do relatives and neighbours were spewing venom 24 hours a day and we were mute spectators either mute in agreement or mute in abject fear but mute none the less.
And talking about mosques -- what a great symbol of mass uprising they proved to be. While I can't claim to have lived through it I have enough friends who did and they tell me about the early 90's where attendance was taken in mosques to force people to pray.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Kashmiris sway to Reh

Kashmiris sway to Reh

NEW DELHI: It's spring in Kashmir, and Navreh (Kashmiri Pandits' New Year) is round the corner. Soon the frost will give way to pleasant weather, drawing people out of their homes and onto the streets. But, for the pandits scattered outside the Valley, the celebrations can lose some of their flavour.

The community, however, has been striving to keep the spirit alive, as evidenced by the annual 'Reh' youth festival, which was held at Pamposh Enclave in the capital on Saturday. The event, which was started in 2007, brings together the successive generations for a celebration of their culture. Navreh is loosely translated as the new fire or light, with 'Reh' standing for a celebration of light.

"We started this event to bind young Kashmiri Pandits together and involve them in our culture. For a start, we played Kashmiri folk songs for the audience but that didn't muster enough enthusiasm. To quicken people's interest, we sprinkled it with some rock, creating a fusion of new-age rock with old-style Kashmiri folk, which held the audience in thrall. It's been a pleasure being a part of this celebration," said Rashneek Kher, founder of Roots in Kashmir (RIK).

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

REH - The Kashmiri Rock Fest

The Spring is knocking at our doors. The valley is in full bloom. Almond flowers present the picture of a valley that wants to celebrate.

We announce the arrival of REH 2014, a Kashmiri Rock Festival.

A Festival to mark the arrival of New Year in Kashmir called Navreh (The New Fire or Light whichever way you wish). We reignite the fire and light within us as thousands of young Kashmiri Pandits groove to the beats of Kashmiri Traditional Music mixed with new jazzy Rock.

It is a gathering like no other. It has young, restless, aspiring blood in a blend with its own past, its legacy, its history albeit in a new fashion, a new trend.

The last Reh festival rocked the town. More than a thousand people danced to the Arjun Kaul’s rock band Prithvi as hundreds were mesmerized by Panchatrani singing Kashmiri songs to a Rock Beat.
Time & Date: 3.30 pm onwards, 29th March
Venue: KECSS, Pamposh Enclave, GK - 1

Contact for passes - 95820 22550, 98999 72462, 97160 00792


PRESS RELEASE: Shankarachrya Hill Name Change Issue

Roots in Kashmir the frontline organization of the exiled Kashmiri Pandits, wants to bring to the notice of the media that the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Mr.Omar Abdullah is clearly misleading not only the media but the general populace of this country when he says that there is no plan to change the name of Shankarachya Hill to Takhte-Sulaiman. With reference to the press reports quoting the Hon’ble CM that NO name change has happened, Either Mr.Abdullah does not know the facts or is making deliberate attempt to hide them. The websites of J&K Tourism Development Corporation (http://jktdc.in/component/content/article/43-srinagar/99-shankaracharya-temple.html) as well as the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (http://smcsite.org/index.php?link=ShankracharyaTemple) clearly state the Shankarachrya Temple is on the hill called Takhte-Sulaiman.If indeed there is no plan to change the name how come the websites do not mention that name as Shankaracharya Hill is something we want to ask the Hon’ble CM.

It isn’t just about the Shankaracharya Hill.The changing of names of Hindu symbols of faith has been a gradual and systematic process in Kashmir. Attempts are being made to change name of Hari Parvat(the seat of Goddess Sharika) to Kohi Maran(meaning the mountain of snakes) officially. The recent example of this is the cable car service run started by Govt of Jammu and Kashmir. The Cable Car service itself is called the Kohi-Maran Cable Car Corp. If this isn’t a deliberate attempt by the government to efface the symbols of Hindus then one wonders what is?

Hundreds of temples have been desecrated, completely destroyed or partially damaged by unruly miscreants, while government has stood mute. Many of the properties of these temples have been encroached upon and houses have been built on them. The deliberate blindness that the Govt of J&K has exhibited when it comes to restoring the temples says a lot not just about the inaptness but also the intentions of letting the Hindu symbols of faith perish.

If the Hon’ble CM wants the Pandits to come back to their homes the least that we expect his government to do is not to use government machinery to wipe out the memory of Pandits from Kashmir. We expect the government to restore the original names of our revered shrines and the symbols connected with them. The first step would be to make corrections in the websites run by the Government.

Issued on 18th March,2014


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Adi Shankara & Kashmir-The Philosophical Osmosis

The period between 8th and 12th Century was a period of cultural renaissance in Kashmir.In a period spanning four hundred years Kashmir produced some of the greatest scholars, who were instrumental in shaping Indian thought and Philosophy. It was in this time that we see the resurgence of Agama and Tantra in Kashmir. The revelation of Siva Sutras could be termed as a milestone in the re-establishment of the Shaivate philosophy. K.C.Pandey[1] writes ”We shall, therefore not be wrong if we say that Vasugupta gave a systematic form to the philosophical ideas of the monistic Tantras in his Siva Sutras in the next decade after Shankaracharya’s visit to Kashmir towards the end of the second decade of the 9th century A.D.” On the basis of this statement one could infer that Shankaracharya did visit Kashmir but then there are scholars who claim otherwise. Shankaracharya’s visit to Kashmir has always been a matter of debate and no conclusive evidence has ever been presented to prove to prove it.

In the context of the above I would like to go into various extant and oral sources to understand whether Shankaracharya visited Kashmir at all and if he did was he in any way influenced by the existing tantric lore of Kashmir.I shall also try and see how Shankaracharya’s writings (post his visit to Kashmir) reflected the impact of Shaivagamic and Shakta aspects of Kashmiri philosophical systems. I will also look at various historical and empirical evidences which seem to suggest that Shankaracharya did indeed visit Kashmir.


Sources for the History of Shankaracharya


Before we begin to analyze the various sources available to us for understanding Shankaracharya’s life and times we need to keep reminding ourselves that a historical biography in the modern sense did not exist in ancient India. Exasperating as it may be, we will essentially be dealing with hagiographical accounts of Shankaracharya’s life and philosophy. The extant legendary biographies of Shankaracharya date from the 14th to the 18th centuries, i.e. they are posterior to the Acharya by at least half a millennium to a millennium. Although they have certain broad similarities, they have numerous contradictions in detail, and they are full of miracles and exaggerations.

The sources for the historical reconstruction of Shankaracharya’s life and work can be primarily divided into three sections.

1.Traditional Biographic Literature

a).Lost Biographies

b).Biographical accounts or references in “Puranic or semi-Puranic Literature”.

c).Extant Biographies.

2.Monastic Traditions or Records

3.Miscellaneous Literary Sources.


All the above sources tell us a lot about the times in which Shankaracharya lived but a biography in the ordinary sense eludes us. In what may termed as philosophical despair, Prof Belvalkar[2] was thus led to declare that “It is the works of Shankara which constitute his best biography.” Notwithstanding the hagiographical or fictional nature of the above works especially the biographical and Puranic literature, we have no option but to dive deep into them to churn out history out of hagiography.


The Date and Times of Shankaracharya

The controversy surrounding the date of Shankaracharya has led to the appearance of more than forty articles and books on the subject. What is worth noting is that the traditional date or dates upheld by most of the Shankara monastries even today widely diverge from the critical scholarly opinions which are also not unanimous. While the traditional view maintains that Shankaracharya lived somewhere between 5th to 2nd century BC, most historians and modern Orientalists are of the opinion that the Acharya lived in 8th or 9th century AD. Most historians however seem to agree that Shankara lived from AD 788 to 820.

Shnakaracharya’s period is the period which followed the death of the great Harshavardhana of Kannauj in the north and Pulakesin II in the Deccan.The fall of Guptas and the Vakatakas led to the collapse of the great and stable empires.Thus this age witnessed a struggle for power which eventually led to the emergence of small feudal states.The emergence of small feudal states led to political anarchy and thus paving a way for growing disorder in traditional social systems.This can be easily testified by the following comment that Shankaracharya makes on Brahmasutram:”Idanim iva kalantare pyavyavasthitaprayan varnasramadharman pratijanita” ‘One might suppose that varnashramadharma was in disorder earlier also just as it is now’.

Philosophically it was however a golden era, characterized by the proliferation of different schools of thought.Almost all schools of philosophy had their close ties with one religious sect or another.There was however a dichotomy in the way the schools accepted the authority of the Vedas.While Mimamsakas and Nyaya-Vaisesika accepted the authority of Vedas the Buddhists and Jainas simply rejected them. It needs no mention that cultural changes in India before the advent of Islam were gradual and never radical or violent. Heterodoxy also seemed to prosper in this era. The popularity of Kapalikas,Pashupats,Tantarikas,Kalamukhas,Kaulas,Ajivikas and Pachrataras was also on the upswing. The relaxation of rigid social rules in the Tantric,Yogic and other ascetic communities were probably a source of their popularity. The writings of Bana, Bhavabhuti and the Bhratkatha-sloka-samagraha are eloquent testimony of these tendencies.In my opinion Shankaracharya lived in the transitional phase between the classical and post-classical era. This era represented a meeting point between the orthodoxy and heterodoxy, Brahmanical and Sramanic, Karma and Jnana.


Shankaracharya’s Philosophy

When I started reading about Shankaracharya’s philosophy it seemed it was all Maya.I could hardly get a hang of what Shankara exactly stood for. On one hand he did not loathe polytheism while on the other he did not approve of the ways of Buddhists and Jainas or the Sankhyas for that matter.I almost seemed to have reached a dead end until I read “The System of Shankara” by Will Durant.I will try and reproduce in my own words on what dawned on me after reading this article. It was as if Bhartrihari had just proved his theory of sphota to me.

Basing his approach on Badarayana’s Brahmasutras, Shankaracharya composed commentaries on Vedanta. Shankara laid emphasis not on logic but on insight. In Shankaracharya’s own words,” It is not logic that we need, it is insight, the faculty (akin to art) of grasping at once the essential out of the irrelevant, the eternal out of the temporal, the whole out of the part”.Immanuel Kant in his  ”Critique of Pure Reason” asks ,How is knowledge possible? Whatever we know or learn is never free form the boundaries of time, space and causation. Thus what we seem to know is not real but is our perception of the real. The world exists, but it is maya not in the sense of delusion, but as phenomenon, an appearance created partly by our own thought. Behind the veil of maya or the principle of change, to be reached not by knowledge and intellect but only by insight and intuition, is the one universal reality, Brahman. Only when we forget the limits of time, cause and space does our Atman become identical with Brahman or God. Brahman is the cause and effect, the timeless and secret essence of the world. The aim of the philosophy is to find that secret.

Finally Kashmir…..

That brings us to the moot question of whether Shankaracharya visited Kashmir or not. There is a strong oral tradition among Pandits of Kashmir that Shankaracharya did visit Kashmir.Call it folklore/belief/myth or whatever you like, I will begin with what I have heard as a part of my bedtime story.This is how it goes.

There is a place called Vichar Nag in Kashmir which Shankaracharya is believed to have visited.As the name would suggest it was a place for congregation of great minds or great thoughts. Shankaracharya in the course of the discussion suggests that the idol is but a representation of God and nothing more, while the Kashmiri scholars stick to their point of view that the idol of the deity is a manifestation of the deity.In the process of proving his point he slaps the idol of Shakti to show that it is bereft of any life but to his utter surprise blood starts oozing out of the forehead of the deity. It is then that Shankarachrya tears out a piece of cloth and ties it on to the forehead of the Shakti. It is believed that the process of wearing a taranga (a headgear that Pandit women wear) has started from this day.

Another belief that survives till this day is that Shankaracharya along with his disciples was camping on the outskirts of the Srinagar city.It is believed that their hosts provided them with all the ingredients for preparation of food. What they however forgot to give them was a device to light fire. When the lady of the house wakes up next morning she is surprised to see that uncooked food and unused wood is lying as it was given to the Shankaracharya. On enquiring from them as to why they did not cook she receives this answer that they had nothing to lit the fire. She exclaims “Oh learned ones, is that what kept you hungry?” and she throws a few drops of water on the wood and it catches fire. There are other variants of this story wherein it is believed that a virgin girl replaces the lady of the house. In my opinion the lady of the house seems more plausible and appropriate, taking into account various hymns that Shankaracharya wrote to the glory of the mother goddess. The use of Tatanka to describe the iconography of the mother goddess lends credence to the view that Shakti in Shankaracharya’s hymns was not a virgin but a Sumangali(a women whose husband was alive).

That takes us to a different set of observations, mostly empirical but nonetheless important. Wearing of Tatanka or the ear-rings is common to most feminine deities.In some images of Ardhnarishwara Shiva is seen to be wearing a Tatanka on the naree half thereby signifying the importance of the ornament. Tatanka is understood by some as the Mangalsutra which is the privilege of the Sumangalis(women who have their husbands alive).It is believed that they are the outward symbols of married women who are enjoined not to forsake their Tatanka-s by any means, as their doing so would amount to assuming their husbands are not alive.

Sumangalis wearing outward symbols of their marriage (like Mangala-sutra) is a pan-Indian phenomenon but women wearing Tatanka(as outward symbol of their marriage) survives till date, in its true form only among the Pandit women of Kashmir. One can conclusively say that wearing of Tatankas (or Dejhour as they are popularly called in Kashmir) was in vogue even in the times of Shankaracharya. This can be easily testified by the way Shankaracharya describes Goddess Sharda in “Sharda Bhujanga PraytAshtaka” Ref Sloka 8

bhavAmbhOjnetraAjasam-poojayamAnam,lasanmandahAsa prabhAvaktraciham;

calaccancalAcAru tATanka-karNam,bhaje SaradAmbAmajasram madAmbAm

I always pray to Sharadamaba, my mother, who is being worshipped by Lord Shiva,Vishnu and Brahma.She bears the mark of gentle beautiful smile on her face,her eyes beautified by the swinging of charming ear ornaments.

Everytime I read this Sloka the image of  married Kashmiri Pandit woman flashes infront of my eyes.The catch here is the swinging ear rings.The ear rings worn by Kashmiri Pandit women are longer and hence tend to swing unlike ear rings worn by Hindu women(which are far shorter) outside Kashmir.

We will now read this very important verse from Saundarya Lahiri which many believe was composed in Kashmir by Shankaracharya.Refer,Verse 28.

Sudham apy asvadya pratibhaya-jara-mrytu-harinum,Vipadyante visve vidhi-satamakhadya divisadah;

Karalam yat ksvelam kabalitavatah kala-kalana na sambohos tan-mulam tava janani tattanka-mahima

O Mother!all the denizens of the celestial regions, such as Vidhi, Satamakha and other, perish even after drinking nectar, which is known to confer immunity from the terrible old age and death.If the period of life of Sambhu, who has swallowed virulent poison, is beyond computation, it is all due to the peculiar virtue of Thy Tatankas(ear-ornaments).

Was Shankaracharya so enamoured by the aesthetic beauty of the taTanka and so mesmerized by its philosophy & power that he established the concept outside Kashmir or is it he who brought this ornament to Kashmir are questions to be pondered over. Is it a mere coincidence that the deity in Lalita Sahasranama (composed by Shankaracharya) also wears Tatanka much like the mother goddess of Bhavani Sahasranama (which is Kashmiri equivalent of the Lalita Sahasranama). Could he have been inspired by Bhavani Sahasranama to write Lalita Sahasranama?Could it be that Shankaracharya adorned non-Kashmiri Goddesses with a Kashmiri ear-ornament?  Incidentally during varahalakShmI vratam and other functions like sumangali prArthana (in Andhra Pradesh) - the sumangalis are presented with 'ear-leaf' even today. It is another question that they don’t know what to do of it.

Sharda…the connecting Link

I always harboured this desire to travel to Sringeri Sharda Peeth.In a way I was searching for my roots in a place as far as some remote corner of Karnataka.The travel through the scenic wild life sanctuary of Tungbhadra took me to the picturesque location where the temple of Sharda is located.My first observation upon reaching the temple was that the location of the temple bore striking similarity to the original abode of Sharda at Shardi.Both stood at the confluence of two rivers and both are almost on a mound or a hill.I bowed to the goddess, Shardambal as she is called there. Soon I started looking for the original sandalwood idol which Shankaracharya is believed to have brought from Kashmir and installed at Sringeri.I asked priests and guides about the idol and the Sri-chakra, the Sri-chakra Shankarachrya is believed (according to the Sringeri Math records) to have carved before installing the idol of Sharda on it.One more similarity I thought,even at the temple of Sharda at Shardi the goddess was installed on top of the Sri-chakra.What was however to surprise me more was the close resemblance of the ear-rings(taTanka) of the sandalwood idol with that of a Dej-hour.

Madhava’s Shankara Digvijaya[3] tells us that it was Mandana’s wife Ubhaya-Bharati who Shankaracharya requests to manifest in temples at Risyasringa(Sringeri) after he accepts her as an incarnation of Saraswati.The Shankara-Vijaya-Vilasa of Cidvilasamuni[4] states that Shankara met Mandana in Kashmir.G.C.Pande mentions that “It may,however be recalled that according to one tradition Suresvara was originally Mandana Misra who hailed from Kashmir”

The Guru-Vyasa-Kavya of Kasi Lakshmana Sastri totally omits the debate between Shankarachraya and Ubhaya Bharati.In fact it goes on to say that this debate takes place between Sharda and Shankaracharya.The goddess Sharda is pleased with Shanakaracharya and accepts his request to accompany him to the banks of Tungbhadara[5].

This observation by G.C.Pande is worth noting in the context of the debate that Shankaracharya is believed to have entered with Sharda or Bharati.“Perhaps Kashmir would be the most likely place since it would reconcile the confusion of debating in front of Sarada in Kashmir with that of debating with the wife of Mandana identified with Bharati” [6]. Needless to say, whether it was goddess Sharda or Ubhaya Bharati,there is no doubt that it is a Kashmiri feminine figure that adorns the seat at the temple of Sharda Peeth at Sringeri.

Shankaracharya’s accession to the Sarvajnapitha(throne of Omniscience) at the temple of Sharda has been a matter of some debate.There are differing sources some of whom claim that Shankaracharya ascended the Sarvajnapitha at Kanchi and not Kashmir.

Madhava’s Shankara Digvijaya tells us very clearly that Shankaracharya ascended the throne of Omniscience at the Temple of Sharda at Kashmir[7].He details how Shankaracharya defeats various scholars of different schools.

Jagad-guru-ratna-mala-stava, of Parama Sivendram, mentions Shankarachrya’s Sarvajina-pitha-rohana at Kanchi[8].

Govindanatha’s Shankaracharya-Carita mentions in its 9th chapter,the accession of Shankaracharya to the Saravjinapitha [9].

The Shankara-Vijaya-Vilasa of Cidavilasamuni mentions that the Shankaracharya ascended the Sarvajinapitha at Kanch[10].

The Guru-Vamsa-Kavya of Kasi Lakshmana Sastri in its third canto mentions Shankaracharya ascending the Sarvajinapitha at Kashmir[11].

Nilakantha’s Sankarabhyudaya,in its sixth canto,talks of Shankara visiting Kashmir to the Sarvajinapitha. [12].

So clearly the biographers are divided over the question of Shankaracharya visiting Kashmir or ascending the Sarvajinapitha at Kashmir.Based on my understanding of the texts mentioned above it seems biographers who believe that Shankara established the Kanchi Mutt are the ones who claim that though Shankaracharya did ascend the Sarvajinapitha but it was Kanchi and not Kashmir where this honour was bestowed on him.

Shankaracharya and Kashmir-The philosophical osmosis

By the arrival of the 8th century Buddhism was clearly a waning philosophy on the horizon of Kashmir.The local faith which had hitherto been greatly influenced by Buddhist thought and philosophy, was fast returning to its Tantric, Shaivite and Agamic roots. Such was the time when Shankaracharya is believed to have set foot on the pious land of Sharda.

In the pursuit of demystifying Shankaracharya reanimating the corpse of the dead king [13]. G.C.Pande makes the following observation” Presumably the legend arose from a misunderstanding. Kama-kala did not merely mean erotics, but had a technical significance in Tantra-sastra for which Kashmir was famous.This sense may be seen in Kama-kala-vilasa.Shankara could have acquired a knowledge of the strongly Advaiatic Tantra-sastras in Kashmir,which would fit in with the tradition that ascribes the Saundaraya-Lahiri and the Prapanchsara to him as also the fact of the currency of Srividya among his followers.A commentary of the Prapanchsara records that the work was compiled by Shankara in Kashmir” [14].

Prapanchsara Tantra is in a way an endorsement of Tantricism.The vivarna written by the Padampada records that it is a summary of the Prapanchagama,which was a vaster and older compendium of Tantra existing in Kashmir. The author of the sub-commentary Prayoga-kama-dipika states that the work was compiled by Shankaracharya while residing in Kashmir.He explains this by the fact that Shankaracharya pays obeisance to Goddess Sharda at the very beginning of the work.

In most of his commentaries Shankaracharya makes no mention of Siva and wherever he does it is mainly to criticize the dualistic theism of prevailing Saiva system at South India.However there is a marked shift in his stand which can be observed in the Daksinamurti-strota which finds close echoes to non-dual Saiva philosophy of Kashmir.It cannot be denied that the remarkable development of Kashmir Saivism dates from the time Shankaracharya is believed to have visited Kashmir[15].K.C.Pandey observes”If we compare the philosophical ideas of Shankara,as contained in his Daksina Murti Strota and explained by his pupil Survesvaracharya in his commentary on the above Strota,we find that Sankara’s conception of the ultimate reality is the same as that of the Pratyabhijna.In fact he uses all the important technical expressions in the same sense in which they are used in the Pratybhijna.”

In the course of his travel to Kashmir and Himalyas it is most likely that he came in contact with varieties of theistic monism which were prevalent there.While the basic philosophy of Shankaracharya might have stayed the same it is very much possible that his acquaintance with diverse modes of worship may have led to his acceptance of their theistic beliefs. This is reflected in the strotas devoted to the Devi in Saundaraya-lahiri.For once his devotional fervour overcomes his epistemological caution as he sings to the majesty and glory of the mother goddess.It clearly emanates as a text wherein the “freedom or dynamism” of the consciousness (as in Shakta Advaita) overtakes the “passive and actionless” attribute of consciousness (as in Shakara’s Advaita).This verse from Saundaraya-Lahiri,”Catuhsasthya tantraih saklam abhisandhaya bhuvanam”clearly establishes his inclination towards the Tantric practices of Kashmir.The epithet”sarvatantras-vatantara” in his virudavali indicates that the Tantras,the authority of which he accepts were sixty-four in number.The Tanttraraja which is a later Tantra in the Kaula system of Kashmir Saivism,according to some authorities is recognized by Shankaracharya as the 65th Tantra in his Saundarya Lahiri verse 31 which runs as follows;[16]

Catuh-sastya tantraih saklam atisamdhaya bhuvanam

Sthitas tat-tat-siddhi-pravasa-para-tantraih pasupatih;

Punas tvan-nirbandhad akhila-purusarth’aika ghatana

Svatantram te tantram ksiti-talam avatitarad idam.

Pasupati(Siva) at first remained satisfied after ‘deluding’(atisandhaya) the world,by giving out the sixty-four tantaras,which expound practices conferring only one or another of the various psychic powers and the wordly fulfillments.Afterwards,on Thy special insistence,He revealed this Thy own Tantra to the world,independent of all the others and capable of conferring all the Purusarthas-Dharma,Artha,Kama and Moksha-on the votaries,by itself.

The unanimity with which both the traditions (Kanchi and Sringeri) admit to the fact that Sankaracharya set up the Sricakra-yantra for worship lends credence to the fact that Shankara had clearly imbibed the Shakta advaita which keeping his own intact.

Shankaracharya’s visit to Kashmir is corroborated by local legends as well as most of the biographies written on this great master. Although Kalhana makes no mention of his visit to Kashmir but then considering the nature of Rajatarangni as a chronicle it shouldn’t surprise us.Kalhana makes no mention of Abhinavagupt either so one can reconcile with Shankaracharya not finding a mention in Rajatarangni.Besides we have to bear in mind the fact that Shankarachrya’s visit did not invite any royal attention and thus could have gone un-noticed by chroniclers of kings.

All that we have discussed so far in this paper would seem incomplete without the mandatory reference to the temple of Shankaracharya in the centre of Srinagar city.This is to my mind is a living example of the impact of Shankara on Kashmir.The reference to the temple is by Kalhana in the verse 341 of 1st Taranga of Rajatarangni wherein he mentions that Gopaditya (369-309 BC) consecrated the shrine of Jyesthesvara on the Gopa-hill(Gopadari). The hillock, according to Tarikh-i-Hassan[17], and (Waquiai Kashmir of Mulla Ahmed) was known originally as Anjana and later as Jeth Ludrak and the temple was built by King Sandhiman of the Gonanda dynasty of Kashmir (471-536 Laukek Era), corresponding to 2605-2540 B.C. He gave the name Jeshteshwara to the temple and the hillock came to be known as Sandhiman Parbat after the name of the King. This name Jeshteshwara for the temple prevailed till the arrival of Adi Shankaracharya, who is believed to have visited Kashmir and stayed at the temple complex. This is confirmed by Tarikh-i-Hassan[18]


[1] Page No.154.Abhnivagupta by K.C.Pandey published by Chaukhamba Amarbharti Prakashan,Varanasi,2002,Third Edition
[2] Page No.4,Life and Thought of Shankaracharya by G.C.Pande,published by MLBD,2004,2nd Edition
[3] Verse 61-72,Madhava’s Shankara-Digvijiya by Madhava Vidyarana(Trs by Swami Tapasyananda) published by Ramakrishna Matha,2003.
[4] Page No.125, Life and Thought of Shankaracharya by G.C.Pande published by MLBD,2004,2nd Edition
[5] Page No.28, Life and Thought of Shankaracharya by G.C.Pande published by MLBD,2004,2nd Edition
[6] Page No.349, Life and Thought of Shankaracharya by G.C.Pande published by MLBD,2004,2nd Edition
[7] Verse 54-92, Madhava’s Shankara-Digvijiya, by Madhava Vidyarana(Trs by Swami Tapasyananda) published by Ramakrishna Matha,2003.
[8] Page 21, Life and Thought of Shankaracharya by G.C.Pande published by MLBD,2004,2nd Edition
[9] Page 22, Life and Thought of Shankaracharya by G.C.Pande published by MLBD,2004,2nd Edition
[10] Page 23, Life and Thought of Shankaracharya by G.C.Pande published by MLBD,2004,2nd Edition
[11] Page 27,page 341, Life and Thought of Shankaracharya by G.C.Pande published by MLBD,2004,2nd Edition
[12] Page 29,page 345. Life and Thought of Shankaracharya by G.C.Pande published by MLBD,2004,2nd Edition
[13] Verse 73-109, Madhava’s Shankara Digvijiya, by Madhava Vidyarana(Trs by Swami Tapasyananda) published by Ramakrishna Matha,2003.
[14] Page 348, Life and Thought of Shankaracharya by G.C.Pande published by MLBD,2004,2nd Edition
[15] Page 151, Abhnivagupta by K.C.Pandey published by Chaukhamba Amarbharti Prakashan,Varanasi,2002,Third Edition
[16] Page 575,Abhinavagupta by K.C.P,K.C.Pandey makes erroneous reference to Anand Lahiri,pp 79-82 Saundaraya Lahiri translated by Tapasayaanada published by Rama Krishna Matha.
[17] Page 394-396,Vol-II Tarikh-i-Hassan.by Hassan Khuihami Published by Oriental Research Department,Srinagar,1954
[18] Page 80-82,Vol-I Tarikh-i-Hassan. by Hassan Khuihami Published by Oriental Research Department,Srinagar,1954