Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Kashmir's Sufi Heritage

Iqbal resurrects the time when Kashmir was the center of divine light

(Mr. Iqbal Ahmad, 47, was born in Parigam Chek, Kulgam. He is a graduate with Diploma in Numastics, Archaeology and Heritage. He is an archaeologist, writer, and a cultural historian. Mr. Iqbal Ahmad has published 12 reference books on Kashmir archaeology and heritage.)

Kashmiri Sufis called Rishis followed this tradition of Buddhist monks to search for divine light in the green forests of their land. Nund Reshi, the founder of Reshi movement meditated first in an underground cave at Gufbal-Qaimoh. It was a forest land during his times. Whether this cave existed earlier or was it specially made for the saint is not known.

The valley of the blue forests would become an abode for the meditating Bhikshus.

It has been already said in ancient Sanskrit records. The similar happened, Buddhist monks this silent and peaceful land suitable for meditations. These monks spread in its green forests in search for the divine-light. Archeologists have been able to found several of those tile pavement in these green forests where these monks went for meditation few experts have been identifying them as the remains of Buddhist monasteries.

I have myself also investigated such finds I could say that these have been laid in a planned manner in these green forests, by some advanced civilization, but I was unable to understand the purpose of such tile pavement. These are basically paid in a well drawn circle there are formed of large bricks called tiles of terracotta material on the faces of these terracotta’s are stamped series of motifs pertaining to living things, like human, animal and floral figures. These are geometrical designs and lotus leaves found stamped over them. Traces of some classical script identified as kharoshti numerals have also been stamped on their faces but they made no sense to me.

These pavements as interpreted by many archeologists have been recovered at dozens of places, mostly in forest areas. The first discovery of this type was made at Harwan in 1921 AD, in the lap of its hill. Later on another pavement was found at Uddro Pahalgam forests in 1979. In year 1986, one more settlement was exposed at Daradkote-Hutmur forests. Ishratnar (Gurveith) also revealed these tiles in its forests on the banks of Shaliganga. More recently one more terracotta pavement was discovered at the forests hill of Kutbal. There may be many more such meditation sites that would get revealed in future. But one thing is clear this is the first phase of architecture associated with Buddhist monks.

Kashmiri Sufis called Rishis followed this tradition of Buddhist monks to search for divine light in the green forests of their land. Nund Reshi, the founder of Reshi movement meditated first in a underground cave at Gufbal-Qaimoh. It was a forest land during his times. Whether this cave existed earlier or was it specially made for the saint is not known. Nundreshi is said was twenty when he took refuse in this cave and spent twelve years inside the cave in search of the divine light. He also planted elm tree near the cave. Theholy tree and cave is still found at the site people usually visit this site, during urs days peole from neighbouringvillages gather here and would recite the holy lyrics of the saint.

After living this cave, he searched for more silent and claim places which he could found in dense forests of pirpanchal and reached Tismur below Honhing mountain in northern range of the pirpanchal forests. He is learnt to had spent one more year here in meditation. The miniature stone mortar and pestle are seen outside the sufic shrine of Tismur. The saint used them in preparing of his diets which exclusively consisted of Vopal hak and qaslin hand ( A forest vegetation). Timer is situated on the right bank of river vishow to the nests-west of Kulgam. A common tradition says that if any body needs the saint aids in solution of worldly requirements the patron sufi has madeit clear and told his devotees to visit then timur, if your require aid for the next world, then visit charar-i-Sharief, I also visited this site severed times.

Fortunately my elder sister named Haseena Akhter lived at Ahmedabad, few kilometers below Tismer, so whenever I visited my sister I used to go this shrine to pay my respects to the shrine.
Kheejogepora is another important site associated with Nundreshi, There is a holy spring attributed to this patron saint. It is called Alamdar-Nag Alamdar, is a little for the saint which means flag holder, Nundreshi is always called by this name by local Kashmiris. It means that he is the chief of all saints of this land. Nag as earlier said stands for spring, so alamdarnag means, spring of the flag holder.

Many traditions are related with this spring, the most curians one status, that agree their grew a bunch of jasmine flowers in this holy spring sudermuji, the holy mother of the saint, smelled it. After smelling of this bunch, Nundreshi was born.

This is very interesting legend related with the birth of this great saint. This spring is also situated in District Kulgam, till late seventees, its waters were were highly respected by Kashmiries; they used to take its waters into bottles and were used as tubrukh. People also believed over its hailing powers, they used to bring their ills here and making them to bath in its holy waters. I myself remember one of the traditions associated with the waters of this spring, once in Kulgam area paddy fields got effected by some unidentified disease, Zamindars and farmers of the area held several prayer meetings, besides they brought the holy waters from this spring and made its sprays to their fields. I still remembers, the disease got controlled to a large existent. Though things have changed very much and sufic beliefs have also declined to a certain amount, in whole of this area there is a majority of people still consider it as a sacred spring and would often offer patch at this site.

Mukhtamul site is also associated with this partron saint. It is near Vacharnag in Srinagar (old city). Nundreshi is said to had spent about six months here on a stone slab for further meditations. Yavanmachi, was a Hafiza, a dancer and Tawahif. She came to put obstractions in the prayers of the saint, but she failed instead the saint’s sight made him to give off her traditional profession and was enfolded in the sufic movment. She later on become the murid of the saint, Pattan, Darigam, Huncha Pora, Sheek Kani, Akhal, and Rupwan are few fanons sufic sites associated associated with this saint. At Rupwan saint left for –heavenly abroad and was buried at Charar-i-Sharief. Many sufic shrines symbolishing the reshi order of architecture blonzed to this saint. Most of the sufic sites of this saint are found in forest areas. His dispel, Zain-ul-Din Reshi meditated at pondulin in the forests of Ashmuqam. The site is very up in the mountain. He also searched for the truth in the cave of Ashmuqam which is also located at high altitude and was once surrounded by green forests.

The shrine of Baba Reshi is also located in dense forests of tangmarg area, about 8 km from the main Tangmarg. If you go to visit the shrine of Sat Reshi in Akangam forests, in South Kashmir you would find the way to the shine passing through Zig Zag paths forests, the shine is located inside the forests of Akingam. There are such dozens of sufic shrines and of Kashmir which you would found still exist in forest areas. Although, at many sites deforestation has resulted in clearance of trees at these sites.

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