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.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sun City

Ashraf recalls the origins of the great ancient city named Srinagar

(Mr. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili, 68, was born in Srinagar. He received his early schooling from the Government Middle School, Nowhatta, Srinagar, and from M.P. High School, Baghi Dilawar Khan in Srinagar. Mr. Fazili completed his F.Sc. from the Sri Pratap College in Srinagar, and received his Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from the Annamalai University with honours grade. He joined the J&K government service upon graduation and steadily rose up the ranks to the position of Chief Engineer at his retirement. He managed a number of important infrastructure projects during his government service, including the Model Town Chrar-i-Sharif, Lower Jhelum Hydro Electric Project, Solid Waste Disposal Scheme Srinagar City, Circular Road Project Srinagar City, etc. He has numerous publications to his credit, including Srinagar the Sun City, Our Ancestors and Saints of Kashmir, etc., which were presented in seminar and symposia. He writes for various journals and is presently working on the Jhelum Valley Civilization.)


Sri stands for the Sun and Nagar for the city hence The Sun City.

272—231 B.C.——King Asoka founded Sri Nagra at Purana Dishtina (now Pandrethan)—old capital. A Sun temple having a pyramidal roof, stone carvings are the only remains of the original old capital.

631 A.D.—— King Parvarsena ii built his town close to Kohi Maran (hillock) which lies in the centre of the present city. He named it as Parverpora. Although safe from floods, the site had a limited area.

725—753 A.D.—King Lalitaditya burnt down Parverpora and built his capital Parihaspora about 20 Kms. away from the Srinagar city centre.

9th century A.D.—Suyya –the Minister engineer of King Awantivarman undertook the drainage of Kashmir valley, which was mostly submerged, thus vast lands for cultivation and also for the settlement were made available.

1128 A.D.—Zulchu Khan invaded Kashmir and burnt the city of Lalitaditya.

14th century.—King Rinchan Shah (Sultan Sadr-ud-Din) built his city at Budhgair on the right bank of river Jhelum. Central Asian architecture was introduced by the Muslim missionaries. The tomb of the first muslim missionary Bulbul Shah Sahib still exists aloft in Budhgair. ( A recently discovered manuscript records burial of Sayid Mohammad Baqir in 655 AH in Theun village near Wusan Kangan, who had come from Iran along with 1002 Sayids—a century earlier than Bulbul Shah.)

1342-54 A.D.—Sultan Ala-ud-Din extended Rinchan’s city along right bank of river Jhelum and built a new town Ala-ud-Din pora—now covering Khankahi Mualla and Malik Angan.

1429-70 A.D.—king Zainul Abidin built his capital 3 Kms. away from the city on north side and named it Nav-Shahr (new town) and opened a navigable channel (Nalla Mar) between Dal and Anchar Lake and also built the first bridge on river Jhelum called Zaina Kadal leading to the expansion of the city on the left bank as well.

15th. Century—Muslim rulers added 5 more bridges on river Jhelum.

1566-1752 A.D.—Mughals constructed mosques, gardens, a rampart/ fortification around central hillock of Kohi Maran, where King Akbar had built a township named Nagar nagari.

1752-1829—In Afghan rule Amir Mohammad Khan (1770-76) built a fort named Shergarhi on left bank of river Jhelum and a bridge on river Jhelum called Amira Kadal.

1810 A.D.—A dominant fort was built by Atta Mohammad Khan on the top of the hillock Kohi Maran.

1819-46 A.D.—In 1835 in Sikh rule Mahan Singh constructed gurdawara Chatti Padshahi. A navigable flood spill channel—Tsunti Khul constructed from Ram Munshi Bagh to Basant Bagh.

1846-1947 A.D.—Dogra rulers selected Shergarhi as their palace but later on shifted to Lake Front and used the Shergarhi as secretariat.

2nd half of 19th century—devastating floods, fires, famines and earthquakes struck the city but restoration was made simultaneously.

1890’s—Residency established, new schools, 1st intermediate college (S.P. College) and Central Library opened and piped water supply to city started.

1921-31—A silk factory and Govt. Woollen mill, Banihal Cart Road connecting Jammu and Rawalpindi constructed. Barbar Shah Bridge constructed, Gupkar road widened, Boulevard on Dal fringe connecting city with Mughal gardens, housing colonies came up at Wazir Bagh, Ram Munshi Bagh, Karan Nagar, Amar Singh Degree College, and S.M.H.S. Hospital got established.

1947—Dogra rule ended.

1947-1999—Srinagar city recorded a faster growth, but in a most haphazard manner. Small housing colonies of Jawahir nagar, Balgarden, Nursingh ghar, Sutra Shahi, Batamaloo, Chanapora, Bemina, Lal Bazar, Buchpora etc., Construction of Kashmir University, Regional Engineering College, Medical College, New Secretariat building, a good no. of educational institutions, hospitals,3 no. stadiums, fruit mandi, industrial estates, HMT, Bemina Woollen Mills, National Highway by-pass (17) Kms. got constructed.

1947-2000 A.D.—There was a sizable increase in other physical and social infrastructure but not commensurate with the population growth in the city.

Srinagar Municipality was established in Dogra rule in 1886. In 1960 it covered an area of 28 Sq. Kms. in2000 SMC consisted of 17 wards with 952 mohallas and/ or villages and covered an area of 177 sq. Kms.

The 1st Master Plan 1971-1991 was extended till 2000 and a new Master Plan for 2000-2021 was prepared by the SDA and approved by the Govt. for implementation. It was recommended that an Apex Agency headed by a Senior Officer be appointed for ensuring periodical review of the Master Plan, its implementation and achievements of targets, monitoring of urban growth and development, failing which this Master Plan will be another plan on the shelf. We have lost 10 golden years and zonal plans are yet to come up and future progeny will curse us for the haphazard growth of the expanded city.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Victims of a Changing Society

Tahir shares stories of victims who have suffered twice over because of rapid changes in the society

(Mr. Mohammad Tahir, 26, was born in Pampore. He completed his B.A. (hons) in English Literature from the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), and his Master's degree in International Peace and Conflict Studies from the Islamic University of Science and Technology (IUST), standing first in the Class of 2010. He is currently employed by the Greater Kashmir as a feature writer, largely writing on social and cultural issues. Mr. Tahir received the Best Story award in 2007 from the Help Foundation organized by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation in the Tagore Hall. He enjoys writing poetry and small stories.)


Three years back closely witnessing an incident deeply shocked Zamrooda (name changed). It remains etched on her mind since then.

She was home, all alone; bed-ridden because of her aching neck. Suddenly heavy firing struck through summer evening. While her heart raced frenetically, she closed her eyes and prayed to God. For nearly an hour, exchange of fires between two militants who were holed up in an adjacent house and large contingent of army continued. The incident had a long lasting effect on Zamrooda. She started behaving in odd ways: getting angry frequently at slightest hint and feeling sleeplessness at night. This uneasiness with life took a heavy toll on her mind and ultimately, on one fine afternoon in October, after returning from a wedding, she consumed poison at home to kill herself. But she survived, because she was quickly rushed to SKIMS. Even now burden of a strained life is patently written on Zamrooda’s face; she does not easily smile and it has been a long time like that. She depends on tranquillizers to keep her easy.

Zamrooda’s case is not unique. The conflict of the last twenty years had a definite effect on the psychological health of Kashmir (and in certain cases saw people taking extreme steps), and a large part of Kashmiri society, gradually, become victim of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), exhibiting symptoms like: sleeping disorders, panic attacks, nightmares, flashbacks, and anger. However, suicide rate was not as high as it is today. According to a study, there is a dramatic 26-fold increase from 0.5 per 100,000 before the militancy to 13 per 100,000 now. Even though the worst phase of the conflict has receded, cases of suicide attempts are only going up owing its causes, apart from conflict-induced stress, to changing socio-economic and cultural factors.

One of the leading psychiatrists of the valley Dr. Arshad Hussain attributes the causes of rising suicides and other mental-health related problems to the break-down of the culture. “We are taking Modernization akin to Westernization and here lies the problem.” Dr. Hussain reasons, “We had joint family structures, there were neighborhoods, then there were villages and there was such a camaraderie and trust that stress had a buffer: you had a small stress at home there were twenty people who would come to help you. That was a huge social insurance”

“Yaarbal, Samanbal and Waan Peand - these were the places were people would find solutions to their daily problems.” Dr. Hussain, sporting a black sleeveless pullover and a matching cotton shirt speaks with a gentle smile, “When women would gather at Yaarbal (place of gathering at a river) to fetch water or wash clothes, they would talk about their problems with other women and relieve their stress.” He further recounts with a hint of nostalgia: “Similarly, men would escape late in the evening to Waan Peand (shop front) and take turns at hookahs with their friends and listen to community radio. This was a support system that was woven into our cultural ethos over time.”

Speaking in similar vein, eminent poet and social activist Zareef Ahmad Zareef recalls: “There was a robust cultural support system in the past, in every other mohalla there was a Maas (elderly woman) or two who acted as a counselor for women folk. A Maas would help in settling disputes between in-laws, facilitating reconciliation and dialogue between estranged parties.” Mr. Zareef Ahmad’s flowing Kashmiri verging on metaphorical rhyme evokes a strange sense of nostalgia, “These neighborhood Maases had compassionate appeal about them and they very well used their social credibility to broker peace and counsel and console any one who approached them.”

Between the psychiatrist and the poet, both of whom have keenly observed their community, there is a consensus about where lies the problem. This consensus based on experience and practice over time can be summarized like this: There is this fierce competition that people indulge in and get trapped. Castles of aspirations are built so high that when they fail to materialize it tumble down on their heads and frustrate them. They are burdened under the colossal mound of their own desires. They get desperate, because others acquired wealth and status, but they could not and it germinates poison in their minds and slowly gnaw at their patience and they take extreme steps like drugs, deliberate self harm and suicide. Another important factor that is responsible for growing tendency among people to take their lives is lack of faith in God.

To Dr. Hussain we don’t only have to rely on rational therapies and medicines that come from the West; rather we should revive our own cultural healing system. It was such a beautiful thing to watch, he fondly remembers, when a person would faint, the elder of the family or the mohalla would caringly touch the patient’s wrist, close the eyes and say few Quranic verses. And in an instant everything would be fine. All the people must come together and revisit our culture, he affirms.

“We cannot stop the flow of the time,” reasons Mr. Zareef Ahmad, “but we can preserve our cultural ideals and values”. Mr. Zareef Ahmad advocates carving ‘a middle path’ between old way of living and modernity. Dr. Arshad seconds him, calling for creating alternative spaces where people can meet, share their emotions and feel relieved.

Saving Lives or Killing Institutions?

Zeenat does a "stress test" - checking the ability of major hospitals in the valley against a major fire, followed by the similar report on the state of ventilators in various valley hospitals

(Ms. Zeenat Zeeshan Fazil, 26, was born in Srinagar, Kashmir. She did her schooling from King George (Mumbai) and later Cambridge (New Delhi), and received her Masters degree in English Literature from the University of Kashmir in 2008. Presently, she is also pursuing her second Masters degree in Mass Communications through the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). In 1998, she began her career as a freelance journalist with leading national newspapers and simultaneously joined ‘Fazil Kashmiri Publications’ as Editor and Publisher, and is also an editor of the ‘Focus’. Ms. Fazil has written a book on Mass Media and Linguistics (2006), and ‘Falcons of Paradise'(2009), a reference book contains 100 Eminent Personalities of J&K starting from 14th century till date. After working for ‘Daily Etaalat’- a Srinagar based Newspaper in 2007-2008; she joined ‘Daily Kashmir Images’ as a Senior Correspondent by the end of 2008. She is also currently associated with ‘Charkha’, a foundation that highlights the developmental concerns of marginalized section of Kashmiri society particularly in rural areas and to draw out perspectives on women through their writings. Ms. Fazil is also associated with ‘Interchurch Peace Council Netherlands’ which is intensely involved in several conflict areas such as in Kashmir. In 2009, she joined the South Asia Free Media Association (SAFMA). She has received numerous awards for her meritorious contribution in the field of literature. Her interests are reading, writing, poetry, music, travel,and gender related topics.)

Learning Lessons From Kolkata Hospital Inferno


Srinagar: The tragedy at Advanced Medical Research Institute (AMRI), Kolkata, that left more than 90 people dead, most of them patients, has set alarm bells ringing all over the country, Jammu and Kashmir state being no exception.

Though the Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah reacted swiftly asking Home Department to come up with a detailed audit of all the hospitals vis-à-vis fire fighting mechanism, fact of the matter is that almost all hospitals and nursing homes in Kashmir Valley (government run as well as private) are pathetically ill-equipped to meet any challenge.

However, state’s Health Minister, agreeing that there was no proper fire fighting mechanism in place in state’s hospitals, says the issue has been taken up on war-footing basis.

A study carried out by Kashmir Images revealed that almost all the hospitals and nursing homes in the Valley lack any preparedness to meet out any AMRI type tragedy.

SMHS Hospital

One of the old as well as busiest hospitals of the Valley, SMHS has no fire fighting mechanism in place.

Though the hospital has 4-5 emergency exits but when it comes to fire fighting mechanism, it doesn’t exist at all with no sprinklers or smoke detectors in place.

The Deputy Medical Superintendent of SMHS, Dr Shabir Ahmad while talking to Kashmir Images admitted that there was no proper fire fighting mechanism present in the hospital.

“If (God forbid) something untoward happens, besides invaluable human lives we’ll get destroyed expensive equipments like CT scan machines, X Ray machines, Cath Lab’s equipments and all the machinery of OT’s (operation theaters),” he said.

The hospital administration had moved a proposal vis-à-vis fire fighting mechanism to the Principal Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar some two years back.

“However, we are yet to hear anything from that (GMC) end,” said Dr Shabir.

SKIMS, Soura

Though the this prestigious medical institute has fire fighting mechanism in place but the smoke-detection alarms, hooters and automatic water-sprinklers have outlived their utility. The hospital doctors
Incharge Fire and Security Officer SKIMS, Soura , J. B. Singh agrees that these instruments have become obsolete and says that these would be replaced soon.

“We have around 300 First Aid Fire Fighting Extinguishers of different types including Dry Chemical Powder, Soda Acid, CO2 gases filled in cylinders that have been installed at 48 different spots within the institute (both in wards and hostel buildings),” Singh told Kashmir Images, adding the institute has 122 people looking after both fire and security related issues and all fire escape doors are safe.
Singh revealed that mock drills are conducted once every three months to check whether the mechanism works or not.

“God forbid, if anything untoward happens and the fire is beyond the control of the existing apparatus, SKIMS has a High Magnitude Fire Station within its campus and a proper Disaster Management Program in place,” Singh said.

Psychiatric Diseases Hospital

The only hospital for mental health in the whole of Kashmir, Government Psychiatric Diseases Hospital (GPDH) has no smoke detectors in the entire old hospital building, however, a few rooms of the new building ‘enjoy the luxury’, the survey revealed.

And Dr Mushtaq Margoob, Head of Psychiatry Department confirmed the findings saying though a few fire extinguishers are in place newly under construction building but as far as the old building is concerned, no such system exists et all.

He, however, argues that it is not the fire fighting mechanism that can avert any unforeseen tragedies but ‘active brain behind the set up.’

Quoting an incident of 1996, when fire broke out and entire GPDH was gutted down, Margoob said: “Those days we had no fire fighting mechanism available, but it was the active brain that saved not only our patients but none of them even received a minor scratch.”

JVC, Bemina

Jehlum Valley College (a branch of SKIMS), sources said, has not followed the National Building Code of India, 1980, issued by the Indian Standards Institution that serves as an excellent references to safety management for infrastructures at the time of construction and therefore no fire fighting mechanism exists there at all, the survey revealed.

When contacted, Medical Superintendent, JVC SKIMS, Dr Nasir Ahmed told Kashmir Images that the hospital lacks emergency exits, smoke detectors, fire alarms and water sprinkler.”

“The only mechanism available with us at the moment is some Fire extinguishers,” he said.

However, he added that the new building that was coming up soon, has everything in place as it follows the National Building Code.

G.B Pant Hospital

The sole Pediatric Hospital too presents a dismaying picture as for as fire fighting mechanism is concerned as except Fire Extinguishers, the hospital lacks all other related facilities.

Medical Superintendent of G B Pant, Dr Kaiser Ahmed told Kashmir Images that the hospital lacks the water pipes connected from units to wards; smoke detectors and fire alarms.

“The only thing we have at present to fight fire related incident are Fire Extinguishers,” he said.

District Hospitals

All the hospitals (District as well as Sub District) in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district lack any kind of fire fighting mechanism. The survey revealed that district hospital Baramulla and sub district hospitals in Uri, Sopore, Tangmarg and Pattan lack even the basic fire fighting mechanisms.

Similarly Mirza Mohammad Afzal Beigh hospital in Anantnag has no mechanism available to fight fire except seven fire extinguishers.

Pertinent to mention that the hospital suffered fire incidents in 2003 and 2010 causing huge losses, however, thankfully lives were saved.

Private Hospitals/Nursing Homes

Almost all private hospitals and nursing homes, established in the Valley, lack any sort of firefighting mechanism and some even are running without seeking no objection certificate (NOC) from Fire and Emergency Services, the survey revealed.

“The mechanism doesn’t exist at all. As far as fire extinguishers are concerned they exist only for namesake,” said an expert.

Though none of the people running these private hospitals and nursing homes wanted to comment on the issue, some experts opined that most of these institutions have not followed the building construction code.
“While planning the layout, care should be taken to design the buildings in a manner that there is sufficient open space around to minimize fire spread possibilities from or to neighboring structures. Also there should be enough space for movement and parking of fire fighting vehicles, ambulances, etc. However, in case of private hospitals and nursing homes, nothing of the sort is seen on the ground,” one of the experts said.

Health Minister says

Jammu and Kashmir’s Health Minister, Sham Lal Sharma agrees that no proper fire fighting mechanism existed in most of the government run and private hospitals.

“Yes I too am aware that no proper fire fighting mechanism exists in most of the government and private run hospital,” the Minister told Kashmir Images.

However, he assured that the mechanism would be place in all such institutions within days.

“The other day I had a meeting with Director Health Services and other concerned officers regarding the matter and we have issued advisory to all the hospitals asking them to immediately take preventive measures by installing proper mechanism,” he said, adding he himself will be monitoring the installation process.

Kashmir Hospitals Gasping For Ventilators

Nazir Ganaie (Kashmir Observer)

Srinagar: At a time when the chief minister, Omar Abdullah, and his ministerial colleagues tirelessly claim turning Jammu and Kashmir into a model state, a huge question mark hangs over the critically ailing healthcare services in Kashmir valley, with less than 40 ventilators available for a population of 7 million.

Even after spending billions of rupees on upgrading the state’s healthcare infrastructure, the state government has miserably failed to ensure the availability of the bare minimum life saving machines even at its key hospitals and both in the summer capital as well as in major towns across the valley.

Apart from the prestigious S K Institute of Medical Sciences on the outskirts of the city, half a dozen tertiary hospitals associated with the Government Medical College, believed to be the oldest in the state, are short of the essential ventilators and, more often than not, find themselves hard pressed for saving a patient battling for life.

The valley’s key tertiary care facility, the SKIMS, setup almost three decades ago in 1982 with an objective to spare the patients of expensive treatment outside the state by providing the state-of-the-art healthcare at home, does not have sufficient number of ventilators for the increasing number of critical patients.

“We have 13 ventilators, 12 in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and 1 in Isolation Room. All are functional. Primarily, ours is a tertiary care hospital and it has a heavy patient influx every day. I believe we should have more ventilators installed in a proper ICU,” medical superintendent, Dr Syed Amin Tabish, told Kashmir Observer, adding there should be matching and adequately equipped ICUs available.

"Even if we install 30 ventilators, it would not suffice," the doctor said, stressing that the machine needed additional supporting equipment to make it serve its purpose.

“In Kashmir, there is a great dearth of technical staff to man the ICUs and handle the ventilators. We don’t have enough anesthesiologist, ICU nursing staff, engineers and machines, which add up to a complete ICU. I think we need to focus on these aspects more than anything else to provide quality healthcare,” he said.

During its visit to the associated city hospitals, Kashmir Observer team found the situation quite appalling which puts a huge question mark over the government’s much hyped claims of improved healthcare.

The city’s premier Sri Maharajah Hari Singh Hospital has just nine ventilators installed in a five bedded ICU (Ward No 17). Of these, only one is functional while others, more often than not, remain non-functional for one reason or the other. Nearly 1,000 patients visit its OPD while 850 patients come to Emergency Department daily.

According to doctors, 20 to 30 and sometimes more patients are admitted in each department daily putting tremendous pressures on Ward 17. With long queues outside the ICU, the clamor for ventilators has been increasing over the years. Faced with shortage of ventilators, critical patients are often referred to the SKIMS.

The valley’s only maternity hospital, the Lalla Ded, has five ventilators, mostly donated by various philanthropic non-governmental organizations, for neonates. Of them, only three are working. No ventilators are available for adult females although there has been an upward trend in gynecology-related obstructions. The hospital has to refer such patients to SMHS for being put on ventilators.

Hospital sources said around 11,000 patients visited its OPD monthly and, hundreds of them being admitted. At times, patient admission doubles the intake capacity.

Reliable hospital sources said there was no “proper” ICU and the hospital had only a makeshift room meant for ICU with only a couple of ventilators available for neonates (child patients). “There are no genuine engineers available in the hospital for restoring these ventilators and the hospital authorities have to beg for getting the engineers and still they remain non-functional,” sources said.

“There has to be a separate budget for the ICUs which the Medical Council of India guidelines also prescribe. But the claims of our administrators make it a mockery and all the pressure builds on single ICU room No 17 of SMHS. They are playing with lives of the people for keeping the life saving machines out of order and not increasing their number,” official sources pleading anonymity told Kashmir Observer.

At the premier pediatric healthcare facility, the GB Pant Hospital, half a dozen ventilators are available mostly for neonates.” Save for an occasional snag, all of them remain functional,” HoD and medical superintendent of the hospital, Dr Kaisar Ahmad, told Kashmir Observer.

While the Bone and Joints Hospital has no ventilator, the Chest Diseases Hospital has five ventilators of which only four are functional. And, according to the paramedics, the ICU of the historic healthcare facility had degenerated into a “mockery.”

“It needs to have a highly technical staff, separate ICU nurses, technicians, doctors, anesthesiologists but unfortunately in recent interviews conducted by the Public Service Commission, all the anesthesiologist were dropped and instead MBBS candidates selected, leading to a brain drain with most anesthesiologists leaving for green pastures ,” said an Anesthesiologist on conditions of anonymity.

“Once we feel there is need to put the patient on the ventilators and the machine is not available, we immediately shift him to SMHS or any other associate hospital,” said a senior gynecologist at the LD, wishing anonymity.

“If a ventilator is not available even there, the patient has either to suffer and wait or has to die. This is a genuine need. There has to be sufficient availability of ventilators in the valley hospitals. There has to be specialized ICUs installed with all these machines and manned by required staff, then alone we can provide better patient care,” she said.

“When a huge amount of the budget can be spent on organizing seminars and conferences and furnishing and decorating administrative rooms, why can’t they afford an adequate number of life-saving ventilators,” doctors at the SMHS Hospital asked.

“Go and check the new administrative buildings, you will understand how much money has been spent on their cosmetics. Why can’t they install ventilators in all these hospitals and why can’t they create the required infrastructure for that. All eyes are on Ward 17 of SMHS, which too is in shambles,” they lamented.

The doctors said there was a glaring mismatch even between the hospital beds and ICU beds in most city hospitals, which creates problems for people. “For instance, if a hospital has 100 beds, it necessarily should have two fully equipped and adequately manned ICUs,” they said.

The paramedical staff is no less critical over the inadequacy of infrastructure. “Every day I come to the hospital, I see people struggling for the want of ventilators and I see them dying, when they can’t get it,” said a paramedic wishing anonymity.

“This is very true, sometimes some influential person gets the facility after a single phone call from some high-up, for which I think our hospital administration and government is responsible,” added a senior paramedic in Ward 17 at the SMHS.

Even as the Government Medical College authorities have issued a circular to the heads of all associated hospitals not to brief the press on any matter, the medical superintendent and acting principal, Dr Rafiq Ahmad, said that for installing ventilators, the hospitals needed highly trained technical staff besides other infrastructure.

“This isn’t the question of installing ventilators only, you need a specialized trained staff and it needs a better infrastructure, proper location where it will be installed. We have to develop the ground for installing ventilators. The ventilator does not cost more than Rs 10 lakh but then you have other requirements to match it,” Dr Ahmad said, admitting that the associated hospitals were facing an acute shortage of ventilators.

“Definitely, we have a dearth of ventilators in city hospitals but we have already taken up the issue with the authorities and may get them soon.” he said.

Interestingly, the director of Health Services, Dr Saleem, who controls all the district, sub district hospitals and Primary Health Centers and dispensaries across the valley, said he thought it was “mandatory” to install ventilators with proper ICUs in peripheral hospitals, which could cut down the patient influx to city hospitals. “We are discussing the matter with the government to install ventilators in our hospitals,” the director said.

When contacted, the minister for Heath and Medical Education, RS Chib, said, “We are going to increase the stock of ventilators, the emergency has increased and this has put pressures on already available ventilators.”
“We need to go for more ICUs; the concerned authorities have already informed us about the insufficient availability of ventilators,”.he told Kashmir Observer.

Asked why a large number of the existing ventilators in the associated hospitals were lying defunct, Chib said, “I will find out why these ventilators haven’t been restored so far. I will discuss with the GMC principal and also order an inquiry into it”.

“A new block of super specialty hospital is coming up and we will try to provide space for more ventilators,” Chib said, adding the government would soon approve more ventilators for the city hospitals.

The Widening Divide

Nayeema feels political uncertainty leads to class distinctions where one set suffers and the other enjoys the privilege

(Ms. Nayeema Ahmad Mahjoor, 53, was born in Srinagar, Kashmir. She completed her B.Sc, B.Ed, LL.B (Hons) and Diploma in Journalism, and Masters in Education and Urdu from the University of Kashmir. Ms. Mahjoor has also completed a Masters degree in government and politics of South Asian Governments from the University of London. She is presently the Desk Editor, BBC World service (Urdu) based in London (UK). Among various awards, she has been a recipient of the Best Journalist of the year 2005 by ECO India, Best women Journalist by American Biographer and Best Journalist for highlighting environmental issues by Peshawar Environmental organisation.)

Uncertainty Leads to Anarchy

Two types of generations crop out of turmoil and uncertainty. There are those who create confusion in order to grab every opportunity to earn as much as they can to safeguard their future (by fair and unfair means). They get support and services of the vested interest groups and make them powerful to rule the roost.

And, another crop belongs to those who become fragile to volatile situations and are incapable to handle their day to day life. So they prefer to take refuge in silence and become mute spectators of the moral and social degradation. Most of them turn into mental wrecks and hardly care about their fate or future. The end factor means the degeneration of the community and loss of trust among each other, so beyond any reformation.

If we look around us, can you not agree with me that the Valley has intentionally or unintentionally got split up into these two categories of people which have started to eat into the vitals of our society? Most of the ailing population is only witnessing the despair and destruction around whereas the other group of corrupt, opportunist and powerful is busy in looting, plundering and polluting what is left of the Valley.

Kashmir has more than eighty percent ailing population at the moment, courtesy of the armed movement (most of the initiators of the movement are now playing the Indian card) and the enormous number of security forces. No matter if people are mentally sick or physically dying with newly diagnosed diseases, one section of the society has grabbed a “golden chance” to manipulate the vulnerability of the sick by selling cheap and substandard drugs that are hardly used in any state of India. Do not blame just the Indian companies for this menace; locals are hand in glove with them and provide every opportunity to market their products in the Valley. Most of the patients are being treated as guinea pigs by the Indian and local pharmaceutical companies for their trials. Not to talk of laboratories and medical centres those are being established on great demand on every nook and cranny of the Valley. The big health centres of the Indian metropolises have set up their offices in most of the district Headquarters. Not a single soul seems to be against their business set-ups, but most are against the trading of cheap drugs and making money out of the vulnerability of the mentally sick people.

Political uncertainty, wherever it is, creates confusion and chaos in a volatile situation and becomes a big hurdle in the development and mental growth of that region. Kashmir is no exception to that but the unpredictable circumstances have left no chance for Kashmiris to look into their lives, society and community or to enjoy a moment of freedom since the two nations gained freedom at the time of partition of the Sub-continent. The Kashmiri minds and bodies have become hostage to the hostility and warmongering atmosphere of both countries. Consequently, Kashmiri society has become crippled and its youth is always a focus of political persecution, mental intimidation and physical torture. Every time there is hostility between two nations or strained relations or threats of invasion or Kargil infiltration, Kashmiri vulnerable youth become a target of institutional torture, physically and emotionally. Not to talk of thousands of women and children who have become half widows, destitute and orphans at every phase of the confrontation. The constant threat of persecution, torture and the scanning of the intelligence agencies has sickened the society to the extent that the Valley comprises only patients who can be encountered everywhere in hospitals, laboratories, health centre or homes. Instead of greetings, people now share knowledge of diseases, the experts and their treatment inside and outside the Valley.

According to a recent survey, more than eighty percent population in the Valley is reeling with mental ailments. Ironically, these ailments are hardly accepted as diseases by the remaining healthy population. In medical terminology the mental ailment can be as fatal as cancer or cardiac arrest though the concept is yet under-developed in the Valley due to which patients suffering from depression, schizophrenia etc are looked down and again, ironically, do not get proper treatment in psychiatric hospitals. Many organisations have commented or research based reports have been published regarding the alarming situation of mental ailments. Unfortunately local and central government have not yet realized its impact and serious repercussions on the health and mental development of the coming generations.

Regarding another category of people, they are clever, selfish and conniving and have learnt the art of looting, plundering or pillaging the most vulnerable section of the society. Political uncertainty has a tendency to develop an element of hoarding, grabbing and grafting in order to secure the future of those doing it but not to the extent as it has done in the Valley where cruelty has become institutionalized. It is only a tiny minority of the population who have no fear of God (though they are always found praying in the mosques) and they exploit the fragility of the vulnerable class. They run the vital power centres and if any conscientious soul raises their voice, he is branded as anti-national or anti-social and even blamed for working against the national interests.

Kashmir has now become an epitome of this terrible quagmire when it, once used to be a ray of hope for the whole sub-continent.

When people are put behind bars or charged with harsh laws for demanding their basic right of life or facilities, they either become sick or callous which only leads to anarchy. That is what we all are silently witnessing in the Valley.

Helping the Agrarian Sector

Maroof calls for "equal rights" for those looking after the predominant agricultural economy of Kashmir, which incidentally has the highest job potential in Kashmir

(Dr. Muhammad Maroof Shah, 33, was born in Kunan, Bandipore. He has pursued a career in veterinary medicine and animal husbandry, completing Bachelors's degree in veterinary sciences (BVSc) at the Faculty of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry (FVSc & AH), Shuhama campus of the Sher-i-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Kashmir (SKUAST-K), and MA English through the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). He is presently posted as a Veterinary Assistant Surgeon (VAS) at the Government Sheep Breeding Farm in Dachigam. Dr. Shah is the author of two books, and has lectured as a visiting fellow at the Jaipur University on Western Philosophy. In his leisure time he pursues studies in comparative religion, philosophy and literature.)

Let's have quality veterinary universities, one at Jammu and one at Srinagar

I wonder why there is much debate on almost non-issues and little serious debate on such serious issues as why there is no veterinary university. Veterinary university is more important for educating us in multiple ways and is better linked with vocation and employment of masses than academic university. I analyze briefly a few important points of comparison between academic university and veterinary university.

We are currently producing hundreds of postgraduates and thousands of graduates in physics and chemistry and teaching them at college and university level. This creates a few teachers who teach others these subjects in turn and the world goes on without significantly impacting on job creation or strengthening economy. We can’t produce Nobel Laureates nor do quality research in key areas like high energy physics or on cognitive science in our State in given conditions and be a knowledge based economy, at least for near future. We can’t even be great copyists of developed knowledge economies for decades for various reasons that I need not discuss. We are not the developed world and can’t go for heavy industrialization and modernization to achieve that status.

More achievable goal is developing an indigenous agricultural or more precisely livestock based economy and evolving educational structure suitable for it. For climatic and geopolitical reasons we are best advised to develop the resources we have, to develop those industries for which both raw materials and markets are locally available and to achieve at least self sufficiency in many important food items. Fully exploited potential of livestock sector will supply much of our fertilizers and gas for domestic cooking but also complement transport and other energy requirements. We need to be educated regarding poisoning and suicidal fallout of path of imported model of development that Truman in 1949 proposed (rather imposed) for the third world to serve imperialist agenda. We need to apply reverse gear on many important sectors including miseducation or undirected unplanned education to reverse the damage already done. Thank heavens that we have many key resources ensuring our dignified living for all and sundry. Falling into the trap of development, aid, loans and market orientation of economy is a disaster that has ruined many countries, African, Latin American and closer home.

We still don’t know what for do we teach many subjects in higher education when the educated students then become burden on themselves and the earth as they feel incapable of doing anything. Asking them to for entrepreneurship in private sector makes sense for even matriculates but why were years spent on mastering skill and knowledge which is not needed anywhere here. Do we intend them to leave the State and seek jobs in some MNCc, in national army or police force or insurance companies? Why educate in the first instance? The education they receive has little to do with character formation either. I find in stock assistants training class PhDS and PGS of a host of departments from Kashmir University. It means years of investment in learning those subjects shall go waste. Here job alienation is almost universal. Sons of the fathers who sermonize on Friday congregations are competing for posts for Bank clerks though it is their belief that it is unlawful to work for interest based institutions. We are every year adding to the already huge army of frustrated youth who have no employment opportunities. And we pay teachers to prepare such an army! It means our education system is tailored to producing neither character nor necessary skill for jobs available or could be created here. Students take admission for getting absorbed but the system can’t absorb even 10% of them. Our courts are overpopulated by clients or cases indicating diseased system. Drug addiction and violence It means we are breeding frustration and wasting public money. We can’t by the very logic of the system, produce very great or original minds in cloistered intellectual atmosphere. We must plan for future which shows unprecedented crisis of water resources and food insecurity. We have enough if we take heed and plan for our real needs.

Untapped mineral wealth suffices for earning enough foreign exchange. The big question that questions wisdom in the present educational system teaching conventional academic subjects at higher level is why we have produced few good physicist or chemists and hardly anyone who applies his knowledge or skill to create jobs or develop our industrial sector. (I grant few exceptions.) The same applies to teaching of biology. Regarding teaching (rather manufacturing graduates or postgraduates) of education, psychology, literature, economics etc. less said the better. One can be content with noting only one point. Most of these students fail to make any use of what they are being taught and society loses much more (by way of public financing of such educational institutions and wasting time and energy of most of students and teachers) than it gains by such huge investment in such education.

Humanities subjects are largely cut off from our traditional ethos and cultivated with imported conceptual background leading ultimately to crisis in values and disjunction between our needs and imposed educational agenda. The most brilliant go outside and strengthen the economy of those nations. We can’t be pioneers in IT or heavy industry or much of that for which our educational policy spends resources at college and university level. Thus our educational policy and university system is not tailored to local needs of society and economy. My point is education must be, at higher level, linked to local economy and job creation and we have so far largely failed to identify our real needs and create wealth through educated human resource. We have not appreciated importance of professional education and especially veterinary education for uplifting local economy. Denmark is largely a milk economy as New Zealand and Australia are livestock economies. We too can be a significant livestock economy as other options are limited. Even if we don’t export anything related to livestock products but only save all imports of the same we would have saved few thousand rupees for every family every month which could go to boost other sectors.

We need a major shift in economy to move towards some sort of self reliance. We need more investment in livestock sector by way of quality institutions for achieving good public health (leading to drastic decrease in need to invest in health sector), organicization of agriculture, drastically reduce imports (our major imports are in food – meat, milk products, leather, woolen garments, feed sector), create jobs (we need MBAs and entrepreneurship development with major focus on livestock industry – currently we are primarily serving MNCs through business schools and science centric higher education etc.) and livestock education.

Establishing a veterinary university is a serious human rights issue if we go to the depth of the logic that fashions conditions for rights discourse. Right to safe, hygienic food and right to livelihood are connected to these seemingly distantly related issues as providing quality infrastructure for developing conditions that guarantee achievement of these goals.

I wish there were more academic universities than we have (of course we need to redesign them as per our socio-economic needs and value systems) but I can’t imagine any excuse for not having established a veterinary university long back. The fact that we still need to debate its requirement and plead for it speaks volumes about our desensitized civil society and policy makers. Within our given resources we can increase milk production three fold and reduce meat imports to zero and develop an array of livestock byproduct and processing industries that can generate enough jobs for majority of unemployed youth and all this is impossible without a quality veterinary universities, one at Jammu and one at Srinagar.

Kashmir's Glorious Past

Ashraf highlights the unique and independent history of the Kashmir region, relying on some old and some recent manuscripts

(Mr. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili, 68, was born in Srinagar. He received his early schooling from the Government Middle School, Nowhatta, Srinagar, and from M.P. High School, Baghi Dilawar Khan in Srinagar. Mr. Fazili completed his F.Sc. from the Sri Pratap College in Srinagar, and received his Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from the Annamalai University with honours grade. He joined the J&K government service upon graduation and steadily rose up the ranks to the position of Chief Engineer at his retirement. He managed a number of important infrastructure projects during his government service, including the Model Town Chrar-i-Sharif, Lower Jhelum Hydro Electric Project, Solid Waste Disposal Scheme Srinagar City, Circular Road Project Srinagar City, etc. He has numerous publications to his credit, including Srinagar the Sun City, Our Ancestors and Saints of Kashmir, etc., which were presented in seminar and symposia. He writes for various journals and is presently working on the Jhelum Valley Civilization.)

A Unique Record of History

Ours is the only place in the world that has a recorded history of 5188 years before us as reliable books, which are credible and hence believable. In this direction a compilation of manuscripts by Munshi Muhammad Din Fouq in 1910 has been a great contribution.

An independent region

The valley of Kashmir has always been independent of the history of India from the begining of governance. Before advent of Muslim rule in Kashmir, the country was governed by Brahmans, non-Brahmans and Buddhists etc. Sir Mark Aurel Stein in his English translation of The Rajtarangini has recorded a detailed account of this period. However a brief sketch is being presented here.

The habitation

The available histories tell us that there was no population in Kashmir at first. On the other hand it was a lake surrounded by mountains and full of water called Satisar. The Sati lake was special and favorite resort of Mahadevji. The basis of nomenclature is also the name of Satiji, who enamoured of the lake stayed here for a very long time. From the signs found at some mountains it is proved that boats were used to enjoy the scenery of the lake. Holes were bored in to big boulders for tying the boats, which to this day are called boat-holders. Such a boat-holder is at a place near Shopian called Nobugnai. This place is sacred to Hindus. At many other places there are such holes which tell us that sometimes the boats might have reached the tops of these mountains. This could be possible only if this beautiful land was under water.

The legend and the nomenclature

The legend says that a cannibal giant Jaladhbhava lived in the lake who would come out and kill people in adjoining areas and torment them with loot and plunder. It is said that the cursed fellow had the blessings of the Brahma that, till he remained under water no one could kill him. Therefore he continued his tyranny in Satisar area. No enemy however big would be able to harm him. And then in Dwapur-Yug the grand-son of Brahma, Kashyapa Rishi, came to visit the temples of India and reached this place also. When he reached Lotir village near Rajouri (according to Khwaja Azam Dedamari- historian), he stayed at Koh Shir.The same mountain is named Hamar in Gulzar-i-Kashmir, where the people saw his grandeur and spiritual prowess, the oppressed people gathered near him and told him the blood-soaked story of the tyrannies of the giant. On this his sense of honor was aroused and he consoled them and sent them away. He himself went to Birhapur and resolved to end the tyranny of the tyrant. He sat at a safe place near the boat-holder. He engaged himself in worship for the elimination of Jaladbhav. It is said that after several years Lord Shiva felt compassion for him, his devotion and sincerity and asked Bishan and Brahma to punish Jaladbhava but arresting him was not an easy task. A bloody battle ensued for many years yet nothing could be achieved. The defence of Jaladhbhav was very strong and Bishan and Brahma could not succeed. He would hide in the lake at the time of trouble. In the end they decided to dry the Satisar before killing him. Bishan cut the piece of mountain that had fallen in to water and stopped the flow of water near Baramulla, with a ploughshare. This drained the water and the dry land appeared. The land that appeared first is called Udoor and reminds us of the incident to this day. Even this did not make Bishan completely successful because some deep pits still held water and Jaladbhav hid himself in these. But the water was not so deep that it would hinder Bishan and Brhama. Bishan brought a piece of Sameer mountain and placed it on the top of the pit in which Jaladbhav was hiding. This crushed Jaladbhav to death. This is the place where Kohi Maran (Heri Parbhat) is situated now. According to the legend the mountain is piece of Samir mountain, which reminds us of the wickedness of Jaladbhav. After this event the Satisar had to abondon its ocean-like shape and become a dry land for ever. After a long time the place became a charming land and Kashyap Rishi thought of populating it. From the countries far and near some saintly people (Brahmins) who resembled Kashyap Rishi in worship and spirituality, were brought by him and settled here. Some believe that these were Katyacharya, Mantacharya and Atbacharya- the three brothers who founded this charming region. From these times this colony was named after its founder as Kashyapsar or Kashmir.(Mir meaning house , that is the house of Kashyap. It is also believed that the name of the wife of Kashyap Rishi was 'Mir', therefore the place was called after both of them as Kashyap Mir. With changes in the pronunciation it became Kashmir.)
Some experts relate the name Kashmir and Kashap Reshi to Kashghar, Kashan, Kash tribe and Ka-Syria ( like Syria) etc.

Some literary experts say that the basis of the nomenclature are the Sanskrit words; 'Ka' means water and 'Shemar' means draining. Since the water of Satisar was drained, it was called Kashmir. It is an established fact that the land was populated for more than 5000 years. The other reality is that 2042 years ago before Christ, the city of Sandimatnagar was submerged by the wrath of God during the reign of Sunder Sen. (The city was situated at the place where the Wular lake exists these days). In this deluge a large part of Kamraj had come under water. about half the valley of Kashmir remained under water for 760 years. 1282 years BC, during the rule of King Narendra, when Hazrat Sulaiman came to this region and stayed here. the king and his subjects both seeing the splendour, asked him to do something for water. He got the area drained and again colonized it. Due to non availability of history of Ratnagir, most of the historians are ignorant of this fact. since they have heard of the draining of the water by Hazrat Sulaiman, they make him the source of draining the Satisar also, which is quite contrary to facts. Some historians have named the area as Bagh-i-Sulaiman and Takht-i-Sulaiman is believed to have landed on the top of Zabarwan hills also called Koh-i-Sulaiman (later named as Shankaracharya hill).

Before Kashyap Reshi reached here, there is evidence of population existing here, who brought the tyranny of Jaladbhav to the notice of Kashyap Rishi. The traces of habitation before lake-like conditions are also available. In ancient times there was no permanent habitation here and there were no villages and cities because due to heavy snowfall, it was extremely impossible to live here during winter. More so when the necessary arrangements for protection during the winters were absent. History is witness that Kashmir was a resort for people during summer.

There has been habitation before the Brahmins were brought by Kashyap Reshi. They are mentioned as Chiefs and Kings in Brahat Katha as Bhanandan Dasehnandan; Suraj Verma in the Gita; Darya Dev in Nilmat Puran and Visho Maksh, Partap Bhalu etc. in other Puranas being rulers of this period. The historical details of these kings are not available. Only it is known that during the reign of Darya Dev there was a permanent habitation here. From some histories and archaelogical finds it is known that King Ramchandarji also had arrived in Kashmir.

There are many other ancient places, that prove clearly that there was a good population in Kashmir even before it became the Satisar. from the very beginning Kashmir was not like a pond but was a vast plain where there were springs and rivers at various places. The present river Veth (Vitasta) which is called the Jhelum in Punjab irrigated Punjab with water from Kashmir and Kaghan. Baramulla onwards the flow of Jhelum shows that this river passed through mountains and natural passes in ancient times also and entered Punjab. From the Vedas it is clear that its water benefited the people of this area before the Aryans arrived in Punjab. The Aryans also benefited from this river. It is not known what was the name of this country at the beginning, but it has been found that this region served as a pasture. at the beginning of the spring season; the inhabitants of adjacent area and shepherds, would come here along with their cattle and sheep. They would enjoy and avail themselves of its greenery, meadows and fertile lush land and return to their countries before the advent of winter. There are many clans of gujjars even now, who according to ancient practice, go to hilly areas of Kashmir in summer along with their families and cattle and return in winter to their countries. there is a unanimous opinion about this period that for ages it was the fashion of the times that people would go there during summer and return in winter.

The legend has it that once a man named Chandra Dev could not return due to his old age and resultant weakness of his body. (The author of Rajtarangni describes this thus: When the decrepit old man was left alone by his dependents, he stayed in a cave. When the winter rains started and the roads were blocked, the ogres and geniis flocked to this country and started plundering all over. They were surprised seeing a human being in the city deserts. One of the ogres stood in Kamraj area and another in Maraj, twety leagues away and brought this poor soul out of the cave and tossed him like a ball. In one of the attempts he fell in to the Neel Nag spring. He saw that there was a door at the bottom of the spring. When he opened the door and went ahead he saw a vast piece of ground and quite a new world was living in it. There was a magnificient city in this world. Chandra Dev marched towards the population, when he reached there he was unnerved on seeing the frightful visages of the people living there. He took them for dieties, Soon he saw a royal court and somehow reached there. He saw that King Neel Nag was holding court with great pomp and show and petitioners had come to complain against the tyranny of the giants. He said that he was a human being, who lived in Kashmir during summer and went to warmer places in winter. The things they left there such as food, grains, etc., the giants plundered in winter. In addition to this he told the king of his own plight. The king felt mercy on him and gave him the book Neelmat Puran, authored by him and directed him, his people should act according to the instructions given in that book and to place a sumptuous feast every month for the giants at a separate place as gift. The giants would not harm them then. 12 such feasts for the year called 'shrad', the followers of Neelmat Puran offered for a long time. He issued another order for giants, which he handed over to Chandra Dev and accompanied by his own men to his abode. After this was done and by following the instructions of the Neelmat Puran, the severity in snowfall also reduced and the people were saved from the tyranny of the giants. The king was called Raja Neel Nag. The Kashmiris were of the opinion that the kings live in natural springs, who seemingly resemble snakes. They believed that if this king is arrested, the spring dries up. The same story is told about drying up of Neel Nag spring. It is told that in modern times that a magician from Bengal arrested Neel Nag king by using opium and took him to Rajputana. By this action the spring dried up and another spring appeared in Rajputana.

It is also stated that after Chandra Dev passed his winter in the cave on his release from Neel Nag episode, when his dependents and fellow country men came to Kashmir they were surprised and happy to see the old man alive and safe. Chandra Dev narrated his story and gave the Neelmat Puran to the Chief of nation Daya Dev and persuaded them to have faith in it as ordained by the king Neelnag. Although Chandra Dev being alive had convinced them all of the facts still as a precaution he left a few people behind the next year also and returned himself along with others.. When the next year he found all the people alive, safe and secure, Daya Dev also believed in Neelmat Puran and stayed along with his companions in Kashmir.

The unknown period

These people lived for a long time but no information about their culture and style of living could be found by historians. Only this much is known that these people had learnt to obey their tribe and its Chief. The names of some of these Chiefs who ruled like Daya Dev have been recorded. They resembled the present day Central African people. After some time and 3899 years BC, the Noah.s deluge took place, which annihalated the tribe of Daya Dev and transformed Kashmir into a lake later called Satisar. If the mountain that had fallen in to it near Baramulla and blocked water were not broken by the efforts of Kashyapa Reshi, the charming heaven-like piece of land would have remained as a lake for ever. The world would have missed all the soothing climate of the place for ever.

The recorded period

The The authentic histories show that when after Daya Dev, Kashmir of Kashyap Reshi was colonised, there was a system of democratic rule after which the governing body brought Daya Karan the son of King Puran Karan of Jammu for running the government. According to Kalhana Pandit the reign of king Govanand the third, a total of 52 kings ruled the country. Before this three kings of Jammu dynasty ruled this land. After king Somdut was killed in the war of Kurukshetra, king Okanand of another dynasty sat on the throne. King Okanand was the king of Kashmir 20 years before Kalyug and 3121 years before Christ. Thus we have found the events of 5888 years. The government of Kashmir starts from Jammu dynasty and from 3180 BC to 1324 AD viz. 4504 years Hindu kings ruled this country with pomp and show. Some of these kings were so renowned that their conquests commanded respect in India, Turkey and Afghanistan. The dynasties that ruled were The Gonanda, The Pandu, The Maurya, the Kushana, The White Huns, The Karkota, The Lohara etc. During this period Kashmir remained safe from outer invasions. (In1700 BC king Bhikam of Ujjain invaded Kashmir during the reign of king Baldev but was defeated). Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi also could not succeed in 1120 AD, but after 300 years of this incident Zulchu invaded Kashmir in 1323 AD and disturbed peace of thousands of years. Then the government of the country went out of the hands of Hindus in the next year and fell into the hands of Muslims. The world came to know that Kashmir was not impregnable as it was presumed to be, thereafter foreign invasions continued. the invasions of Mirza Haidar and Mirza Kamran and others made the country so weak that it opened the doors for Jalal-ud-din Mohammad Akbar, the Emperor of India. There-after the Chughtai dynasty Ahmad Shah Abdali conquered the country. Thus Muslims ruled here for 494 years i.e. from 1325 to 1819 AD. In 1819 AD Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Lion of Punjab conquered it and included it in Khalsa government. at last the English gave the charming region to Maharaja Gulab Singh, king of Jammu, for 75 lakh Rupees under the treaty of Amritsar March 1846. The same dynasty of the kings ruled Kashmir till 1947, when democratic rule began.

The earliest source of Kashmir history reffered by Kalhana in his Rajtarangini written in 1148-49 AD, is Neelmat Puran written in 6th century AD. The Nilamata or teachings of 'Sage Nila', the chief of Nagas is the oldest extant record which deals with the legends regarding the origin of Kashmir and the sacred places of Pandits. Kalhana also refers to it also as the book of rites and festivals prsented by Nila for Kashmirians. (Nilmata, or the teachings of Nila, Sanskrit text with original notes, edited by Dr. K. De Vrees- was published at Leiden -Holland by E.J.Brill in 1936).

The Historians

It has been noted that Kashmiris possesed from earliest times a sense of recording their chronicles in contrast to writing sacred tails interwoven with historical events like rest of the Indians. Though Rajtarangini is also not free from unbelievable fables, myths and fantastic occurances, yet Kalhana says in the introduction that historian alone can be reliable and deserves respect who, like a judge, stands above personal predilections and states facts in a detailed manner. Kalhana was followed by other historians in the time of king Zain-ul-abidin Budshah (1422-72 AD) Jonaraja and Srivara brought down the narrative to their own days in their works known respectively as Rajavali and Zain-Rajtarangini. The task was taken up again by Prajyabhatta, who wrote Rajavalipataka in 1512 AD and by Shuka in 1506 AD. With these ended the writing of Kashmir history in Sanskrit verse. Among the chroniclers who wrote in Persian the distinguished ones are Mulla Nadiri, Mulla Ahmad Kashmiri (both in Badsha's time), Qazi Ibrahim (1514 AD), Sayyid Ali (1537 AD), Mirza Haidar Dughlat (1545 AD), Mulla Hasan Qari (1580 AD), Hasan bin Muhammad alKhaki Shirazi (1610 AD), Baba Daud Mishkwati (1658 AD), Haidar Malik (1659 AD), Narain Koul (1710 AD), KH. Mohammad Azam Dedamari (1747 AD),Mir Sadullah Shahabadi (1780 AD),Nizam-ud-din Mufti (1824 AD), Baha-ud-din Khanyari (1827 AD), Mohammad Haidar (1840 AD), Birbal Kachru (1850 AD), Mirza Saif-ud-din Beg (1857 AD), Muhtashim Mirza, Muhammad Zaman Nafi, Sohan Lal (1831 AD). The Kashmir history has been completed filling the missing links and brought uptodate by authors notable among them being Pirzada Hasan Khoihami (Fazili) (1898 AD) who flourished by the end of nineteenth century, besides Mohi-ud-din Miskeen Kubravi (Saraibali), Prakash Ram, Hargopal Kaul, Munshi Mohammad Din Fouq (1910 AD), Pandit Prem Nath Bazaz (1941 AD), G.M.D. Sofi (1949 AD) and P.N. Kaul Bamzai etc.
Thus it is seen that the Kashmiris have surpassed many Indians in maintaining unbroken record of their past events, achievements, failures. myths and prejudices. Some outsiders also have published books on one or other aspect of Kashmir's past but their sources mostly have been the
Kashmir chroniclers.

There is sufficient evidence that Kashmiris in ancient and early medieval times had achieved the pinnacle of glory in different walks of life. In historical times, Kashmir has not only been a great seat of learning but its gifted sons have carried the torch of culture far and wide in the known world.

Kashmir scholars have excelled in all the three periods of Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim rulers. Kashmir should be proud of a galaxy of great men and women who lived in the past as well as are living in the present
The Scholars of the Pre Islamic Period:

Rishi Kashyapa - the patron saint of Kashmir, who drained off the waters of the lake called Satisar through prayers and penances; Nagarjuna -the great Boddhistava, Kalidasa the renowned dramatist, Srivasarma,Ratnakara, Anandavardhana, Kallata pupil of Vasgupta, Sivasvarmin, Datatarya, Gunaditya, Mankha, Bilhana, Shambhu, Jalhana, Kumarajiva, Dida - the ancient queen; Suvya the ancient engineer; Badshah the noble king; Kalhana, Jonraja, Srivara, Prajayata (the ancient historian), Vasu Gupta and Utpala Deva, Abhinovogupta and Som Deva- the Shaiva philosophers; Ksemendra and Prakash Bhat- the ancient poets.

Datatarya Munishwara (Koul)- the embodiment of Hindu Trinity- Brhama the creator, Vishnu the protector and Shiva the destroyer-- all the three in one. His birthday falls on 10th Maghar (His name means given to Gods). He has been the teacher of Ram and on his name there is a temple in Allahabad and his progeny the Datataryas are spread all over India.

Prince Gunavarman, a painter-missionary from Kashmir, was probably a pioneer in the Southern Asiatic route to China, Korea and Japan. The Kashmir of his age (400 BC) was also the seat of the University of the Buddhist Kumarajiva, who came all the way from Tukharistan of Kucha (near Khotan)- which corresponds roughly to the present Badakhshan-to Kashmir to learn Sanskrit and various Indian sciences which he later took over to China.

Nagarjuna -the great Bodhisatva lived in Harvan in the time of Kanishka (AD 78) who extended his empire as far on South as Vindhyas and upper Sind. He annexed Kashmir and was a Buddhist by faith and had his capital at Peshawar. He errected numerous monuments in Kashmir and built the town of Kanishkapora ( modern village of Kanispor about 10 kms. from Baramulla). Under his patronage the 3rd Council of the Buddhist Church was held , which carried on its deliberations in Khandalvan Vihar, near Harvan Kashmir in about 100 AD under the presidency of Nagarjuna and drew up the Northern Concern on " Great Vehicle of the Law". Nagarjuna flourished in the 1st century AD. He was a great Buddhist Alchemist and celebrated teacher elevated to Buddhisattvaship and is the founder of the Mahayana system, which is said to have been introduced in to Tibet. He is represented as at once a philosopher, a physician and an author of great ability. Perhaps fifferent Nagarjunas have been mixed in one.

In popularising the revolutionary ideas of Gautama Buddha in India and beyond its borders Kashmiri scholars have played a significant role . With the torch of enlightenment they travelled in different places in the east, the west and the north. Everywhere they served as harbingers of a new age of emancipation. Kamurajiva spread the message of Mahayana Buddhism in China for which the Chinese Emperor conferred the title of Tugsheo (though young in years but ripe in wisdom) on him. An artist Gunavardana followed him to paint jatka stories in public halls in china. Gunavardana was also sent to Sumatra, where he converted the royal family to Buddhism, which prompted the entire population of the island also to adopt the new faith. Another missionary, Virochana converted the people of Khotan and parts of Gandhara (now NWFP and east Afghanistan) to Buddhism.

When neo- Brahmanism raised its head in the 4th century AD, the talented Kashmiris instead of surrendering to reaction evolved a new philosophy-- Shaivism-- which is the product of the fusion of Vedic and Buddhist philosophies. Its first great teacher was Vasugupta born in 9th century AD., who wrote Shiv Satra Vimarshini. He was followed by Kalatabhata author of Spandra Viritti. Then came stalwarts in succession like Somananda- originator of Pritibhinya school, Utpaldeva who wrote Strotsavali and the last but the greatest of them all Abhinavagupta, who composed among others the dazzling treatise Parmathesara.

Kalidasa-(500-600 AD) It was during the troubled times of the Huns, that Kalidasa, one of the greatest poets of India was born in Kashmir. The white Hun Mihirakula seized the throne of Toramana, the Hun empire had established in the latter half of the 5th century in Afghanistan and western India. Mihirakula succeeded in 510 AD, his capital being Sakala in Punjab which may be identified with Sialkote according to Fleet or with Sangala hill in the Sheikhpora district or according to Anspach Jandiala in Amritsar district of the Punjab. He was a man of violant acts and resembling death, whose approach the people knew 'by noticing vultures, crows and other birds which were flying aheasd eager to feed on those who were to be slain. His revolting acts of cruelty became so abhorrent that the native princes formed a confederacy and under the leadership of Baladitya of Magadha and Yasovarman of Central India inflicted a decisive defeat on him. Mihirakula fled to Kashmir, where he was recieved kindly by the king and placed incharge of a small territory. He repaid the king's kindness by seizing his throne and putting him to death. Then issuing from Kashmir, Mihirakula attacked and conquered Gandhara and drowned multitudes of people in the Indus. Kalhana depicts him in the blackesr colours of cruelty as being surrounded day and night by thousands of murdered human beings. Mihirakula delighted in activities of cruelty and people still point to a ridge (Hastivan--from hasti, elephant and vanj, to go--the passage for elephants on the Pir Panjal range near ' Ali Abad Sarai', where the king to amuse himself, drove 100 elephants over the precipices, enjoying their cries of agony. He favoured Brahmans and hated Buddhism. He commited suicde, overpowered probably by the sense of his own misdeeds.

In these very troublous times Kalidasa flourished during the latter half of the 5th century or 1st half of the 6th century. He has reffered to thew Huns in Kashmir in Raghuvamsha. Kalidasa left his home during the unsettled days of its occupation by the Huns, and travelled throughout the length and breadth of the country halting perhaps much longer at Ujjain than at other places. The personal religion of Kalidasa was Kashmiri Saivism based on the doctrine of the Pratyabhijna philosophy, unknown outside Kashmir. In a remarkable discovery, it is pointed out that the drama of 'Shakuntula' is an allegory of the tenets of Pratyabhijna philosophy of Kashmir.

The Chinese scholar traveller Hieun Tsang and Oukang visited Kashmir (in 631-633 AD) to study the Sanskrit texts.The 6th century king of Kashmir, Matrigupta was himself a poet and patron of learning. Among the best literary crfitics of ancient India, Bhamaha, who lived in the begining of the 8th century AD, wrote Alamkara- the earliest work of poetics; Udbhatta- the court poet of Jayaprida defined 41 ntypes of speech in his Alankarsamgraha. Vamana another writer of poetics also adored the court of Jayapida. The fame of Anandavardhana, who lived during the rule of Avantivarman, rest principally on his treatise on the science of poetics.

Tradition has it that the great Sankaracharya (788-820 AD) visited Kashmir early in the ninth century AD after his blows to Buddhism in the rest of India and that he was forced to accept the superiority of Kashmir Saivism over his vedantic thought although there exists no internal evidence in any way of his main works to this effect. Probably it was some one else, his namesake.

Shankara, who -there are reasons to hold-was influenced by contact with early preachers of Islam in the South, gives definite indication of such influence in his emphasis on monoism, his insistance on action rather than mere devotion, on purity of purpose rather than mere rituals. It may be that each element in Shankara's thought was separately derived from Upanishadic sources but the peculiar composition of these elements and the shifts in emphasis of thought and action can be most easily explained by these new contacts with Islamic preachers down South where in Khaladi or Kelati in Kerala the birth place of Shankara, the ruler had embraced Islam.

The remarkable revival of Sanskrit learning was witnessed in the reign of Avantivarman (855-883 AD). Sivrsvarma was one of the genious of Avantivarman court. Some of the others were (1)Ratnakara- who wrote the Hranjaya in 50 cantos and lived under two kings viz, Jayapida (751-782 AD) and Avantivarman (885-883 AD); (2) Anandavardhana, the author of Dhanyaloka (3) Kallata- the great pupil of Vasagupta- the originator of the Sandasastra division of Kashmir. Sivasvarmin is credited with the authorship of seven Mahakavyas- several dramas, prose works and other writings. But the Kaphinabhyudaya and a few stray verses make up all that is left to the student to read and admire. Swamivarmin's work assumes an importance in the history of Sanskrit literature in general and the literary history of Kashmir in Particular in as much as it helps to show the development of Kavya in Kashmir and the influence of Ratnakara on his contemporaries. Its theme is niether Puranic nor epic, nor historical, but it deals with the Buddhist legend of King Kapphina, one of the great disciples of the Buddha. The Kapphina bhyudaya, which remained in obscurity for the last millenium or so has been made available by the University of Punjab (Lahore). It has been for the first time, critically edited by Pandit Gauri Shankar (Lecturer Govt. College Lahore 1937)
Kashmir became the land par excellence of the Saiva faith-based on the principles of idealistic moism (advaita) which was founded by Vasugupta towards the end of 9th centuryAD. The teachings are now lost, but Somananda, Abhinavgupta, Utpala and others wrote works and learned commentaries of Saivism, explaining its doctrine and dogma and on the Gita. The philosophy of Tryambaka school popularly known as Trika Shastra -the threefold science= is peculiar to Kashmir. Abhinavgupta's Tantra Laka and Pratyabinja-Virmarsini though acclaimed to be mere expositions of Pratyabinja- Sutra by Utpala are original works of high merit., says P.N.K.Bamzai. According to Dr. B.N.Pandit, 'Kashmir Saivism is the only philosophy which can inspire for both material and spiritual progress.' Abhinavgupta (933-1015 AD) was a profilic writer and a versatile genius-poet, critic, philosopher and saint-who wrote more than 40 books, some of which exist. As a literate a grammarian he paved for himself a unique place of honour in Indian aesthetics extended over a quarter of century.

Abhinavgupta-the Kashmir Saiva philosopher and literary critic was born between 950 and 960 AD in a Brahmin family that had migrated from Qannauj to Kashmir during the reign of King Lalitaditya. Abhinavgupta was a voluminous writer on several subjects- dramaturgy, rhetoric, philosophy and the philosophy of the poetry. His contribution to the Saiva philosophy is very great in volume and importance. According to a tradition he walked with 1200 disciples in to the Bhiram cave about 8 kms from Magam, midway between Srinagar and Gulmarg and was never seen again.

Kshmendra-- The ornament of Sanskrit poets of Kashmir, was born in the days of Ananda, on the Dal in the locality where the Nishat Bagh stands now. Kshemendra's father was Parkasendra, a rich , charitably disposed and learned Brahmin. the literary career of Kshemendra runs from 1037 to 1066 AD. He was one of the 3 sons of his father. He stdied under several teachers, but the most noted was Gangaka. Kshemendra's studies wererwide extending to Hindu Law, Sanskrit grammer, Aurveda, politics, music and painting. He underwent a course of manual training too and knew carpentery and smithy as well by the time he was 25 years of age. Then Kshmendra married and had a son called Somendra, Ananda engaged him to teach his sdon Kalasa.

Kshmendra was noted for his learning and wealth, his sagacity and generosity in maintaining boarding schools and for his humility. He enjoyed life too. His book Darpadalama (Pride has a fall), Desha Upadesko (Advice about thge country for foreign students) are well known. He is reputed to be the author of many books, of which 34 believed to be obtainable have mostly been printed at Nirmayasagara Press Bombay. Kalhana has crtisized his Napavali for the classical error. He also charges him with 'consistent carelessness'. Keith has discussed Kshmendra's Bratkathamanjri and other works at length.

The course of studies of Kashmendra, a pupil of Abhinavgupta embraced all arts and sciences then known in India. A many-sided scholar like Abhinavgupta, Kashmendra wrote poems, navaratina, didactic and satiric sketches and treatises on rhetoric and prosidy. He made a notable contribution to fable literature with his Brithat Kathamanjari in which he preserved for posterity the lost classical work of Gunaditya, credited to be the earliest story narrator of the world. In Samayamlatyoka (the ocean receiving rivers of stories from different sources) by the contemporary, somadeva, is a collection of stories based on the Kashmiri version of Guvalitya's Brihatkathamanjari and an important landmark of world folklore, in so far as it contains most of the stories of 'Panchatantra'.

Manka: Manka was another poet of this age. He was the fourth son of his father Vishovrata, the son of Pandit Mammata. Mankha was a pupil of Ruyyaka, the celebrated author of Alankara-Sarvasva. Mankha rose to the post of Director of Dharmartha and foreign Minister. Raja Sussala looked upon him as a philosopher. Mankha wrote his first book 'Srikanthacharita' when 25 years of age, probably in 1039 AD. It consists of 14 chapters and has 2500 couplets. In Jayasimha's Time Mankha was the head of a college. Like Mulla Tahir Ghani he hated flattering others and had quite an independent mind.

Bilhana: Bilhana, a great poet, senior to Kalhana in age was born in Khunmoh 11 kms. from Srinagar. His father was Jyeshtha. On completing his education and finding no scope for his talents, on account of the oppressive rule of Kalasa, Bilhana at the age of 16, is stated to have left Kashmir by way of Punch, and entered the Punjab, visited Lahore and Jullundur. Then he moved to Mathura, qannauj and halted at Kashi, where his fame as a grammarian attracted notice. He also appears to have been to Chhatrakota, Prayag, Anhilvad and Nasik. At Kalyana, in the Deccan, there seems to have been a little romance with the Raja's daughter whom Bilhana had been engaged to teach. A Kashmiri Pandith, as such no doubt, a handsome youth, accomplished, scholarly, he could not fail to win the heart of the princess and the assent of Raja and the Bilhana's marriage took place. Ultimately Bilhana succeeded to the gaddi. But Keith is silent on this romance.

Bilhana is the author of (1) VIKRAMANKADEVACHARITA , (2) KARNA- SUNDARI MALA &(3) CHAURAPANCHASIKA. General Cunningham traced the first And Dr. Buhler the vsecond of these works. When Bilhana revived his desire to return to Kashmir, Harsha deposed Kalasa. Tradition has it That he returned to his village Khunmoh and died there at the age of 80. But there is no effective evidence to substantiate this claim.

Bilhana is not much good at history. He is a poet whose language is simple and clear. He gives a beautiful glimpse of the Srinagar of his days in the slokas of the 8th chapter of his Vikramanka-devacharita on the adventures of Vikrama.

Kalhana: Kalhana Pandit, the author of the celeberated saga of Kashmir called the Rajtarangini was the contemporary of Raja Jaysimha. This was the time when in England Matelda was a fugitive and the barons were at war with one another. Kalhana's metrical history of the Raja's of Kashmir, written in Saka 1070 or 1148-49 AD or 543-44 AH is a well known work in the Sanskrit language. Kalhana was the son of Champaka, the minister of King Harsha of Kashmir (1079-1101 AD). Kalhana claimed to be a poet and historian and was no doubt skilled in both capacities. He attempted to give his readers a complete history of Kashmir and though like most of the medieval historians he combined fact with fiction, his , he 'sincerely endeavoured to consult the various sources of history'.He was well versed in the literary and historical traditions of ancient India and was likewise an erudite scholar. Kalhana's earlier chapters are 'a melody of confused traditions and fanciful imaginations', but he exercised 'independence of judgement combined with strict impartiality and unsparing criticism in regard to conteporary events and persons including kings, officials and priests'.

In spite of all this, says Aurel Stein, Kalhana must be treated with critical caution, as 'his chronology is unavailable, his sources of information discrepant, and his frame of mind didactic'. To sum up, though the

Rajtarangani avowdly belongs both in form to substance to the literature of artificial poetry, its merits as an historical composition are many and undoubted, says Dr, Goshal. Kalhana was a Brahman by caste. He was a worshipper of Siva and an admirer of Budha. The name Kalhana is derived through Prakrit Kalhana from Sanskrit Kalyana, meaning 'happiness', 'blessedness'.

The Rajtarangini: (River of Kings)

The Rajtarangini was begun by Pandit Kalhana in 1148-49 AD and completed sometime in the following year. As R.S. Pandit says,it was written about half a century before the dereat of Prithvi Raj Chauhan and nearly two centuries before the advent of Shah Miris. It comprises eight cantos. Each canto is called a Taranga or Wave. The number of verses in each canto or Taranga is (i) 373, (ii) 171, (iii) 530, (iv) 720, (v) 483, (vi) 368, (vii) 1732, (viii) 3449.

Many translations have been made of the book, first by King Zain-ul-Abidin in to Persian second 'Bahr-ul-asmar by Mulla Abdul Qadir Badauni ordered by Akbar,third by Haidar Malik Chadura-Jehangir's period, fourth in 1835 AD by Asiatic Royal Society of Bengal Calcutta, fifth in 1852 in French by Societe Asiatique Paris, Sixth in 1892- a critical edition by Sir Aurel Stein- published 1924 AD, Seventh in 1935 by Ranjit Pandit-(complete translation poetry in prose)

Mammata poet (of 12th century AD): Mammata and his two brothers occupy a high position in the literary firmament of Kashmir during the begining of 12th century AD. Mammata, the second son of the scholar Jaiyata bhatta hails from Galandar, near Pampurnoted for saffron. Jaiyata is the elder and Uwata the younger brother of Mammata. Although all the three were noted litterateurs, Mammata was the most distinguished of all. His book 'Kuvya-Prakasa' on posody set for the higher examinations of the Sanskrit language. eighty seven commentaries are known to have been written on the 'Kavya-Prakasa' of which twety five are available. Mammata is supposed to be the maternal uncle of Harsha, the great poet king of Qannauj. THe 'Subda-Vyapara-Vichara' in which the usage of words has been discussed in another well-known book of Mammata. Mammaladevi was the mother of Harsha. Thus Harsha naturally visited Kashmir for contact with Sanskrit Scholars of Srinagar.

Sage Nila is the king and author of Nilmat Puran- the earliest source of history reffered by Kalhana in his Rajtarangini.

Kashmir has been a seat of learning from ancient times. For more than 2000 years, Kashmir has been the home of Sanskrit learning and from this small valley have issued masterpieces of history, poetry, romance, fables and philosophy. Mentioning that Kashmiris have reason to be ' justly proud of the literary glories of their land'. Sir George added that 'Kashmir was for centuries the home of the greatest Sanskrit scholars and at least one great Indian religion Saivism'

Mankha wrote his famous poem Srikanthacharita- narrating a Puranic legend of Siva- between the years AD 1135 and 1145. A dictionary called Manklakasha is current in Kashmir.Other celebrated writers in Sanskrit are: Bilhana, Shambhu, Jalhana and Kalhana. Of these Kalhana and Jalhana were the prized luminaries at the court of second Lohara dynasty. Kalhana is famous for Rajtarangini- the celebrated chronicle of the kings of kashmir which he composed between the years AD 1148-50.' A literary production of high merit'. A contemporary of Kalhana, Ruyyaka authored Alankarasarvara- a standard work on figures of speech.

Brahman's Cultural Contribution Summarised:

Kashmir's Brahmans acquired great proficiency in Persian under Muslim rule and distinguished themselves as great poets and prose writers. Such people did great service to Sanskrit literature and Kashmir was one of the most notable seats of learning in ancient India. Scholars came from far and wide to complete their studies. The great names of Nagarjuna, Kalidasa, Kshemendra, Bilhana, Mammata and his brothers, Manika and Kalhana. The philosophy of poetry has in fact originated in Kashmir. As a matter of fact, Bilhana asserts that saffron is the seed of poetry and as no other province in India produced saffron, Kashmir alone is the true home of poetry. Apart from Sanskrit poetry and prose, the branches of learning that recieved most valuable contributions from the early forefathers of the Kashmiris were prosody, grammer, Saiva philosophy, Buddhist philosophy, history, fairy tales, biographies, tantras or scriptures of Saivism, AZyurveda or medical science and commentaries.

Out of the sixteen most famous rhetoricians of India, Kashmir has produced fourteen and rest of India only two. Vamana (700-800 AD) the founder of the Riti School, Udhhata (774-813 AD) the teacher of the theory of the three Vrittis, Abhinavagupta the great expounder of the theory of Rasadhvani and Mammata (1100 AD) the upholder of the Rasa theory were all Kashmirians.

In fact Bhatta in modern Kashmiri is Bata- a Brahman or a Kashmiri Pandit. Bhatta is derived from the Sanskrit word 'Bhartar', which in Prakrit form gave Bhatta, which has been retained by Sanskritists ans appended to proper names at the beginning or at the end. It was used in the sense of learned and signifies a learned Brahman or a great teacher.

Kashmir Shaivism:

Kashmir Shaivism known as Trika-Shasana, Trika-Shastra or simply Trika, is a type of idealistic monoism (adavita). 'It made its first appearance in Kashmir at the beginning of the ninth or perhaps towards the end of the eighth century AD', says Mr. Jagdesh Chandra Chatterji in his 'Kashmir Shaivism'.

Kashmir Shaivism has two branches (i) the Spandasastra and (ii) the Partyabhijnasastra. The authorship of the first says Sir Ramakrishna G. Bhandarkar is attributed to Vasgupta and his pupil Kalka who lived in the reign of Avantivarman (855-883 AD). The two principal works of the system are Shivasitram or Shivasutrani and Spandarikas which are 51 verses only. The founder of the Pratyabhijna school of Kashmir Shaivism was Sumananda who also wrote the work called Shivadrsti. But the principal treatise of the school was composed by his pupil Vdyakara and contains verses which are called Sutras. The pupil of the pupil of Samananda was the well known Abhinavgupta. The followers of the Spandasastra branch deny the necessity of God's having attempted prompting cause or a material cause for the creation of the world. Neither do they admit that He is Himself the material cause, nor do they think some principle of allusion generates appearances which are false. God is according to them independent and creates merely by the force of His will all that comes in to existance. He makes the world appear in Himself, as if it were distinct from Himself, though not so really, as houses or even towns appear in a mirror and is as unaffected in it as the mirror is by the images reflected in it. Nor does He exist only as realized in the world which is the conclusion that follows from the doctrine that He is the material cause.

The Pratyabhijna school of Kashmir Shaivism accepts the doctrines of the creation of the world and of the relations between the individual and the supreme soul, as set fourth by the Spandasastra School. But the way of perception of the identity is recognition according to this Pratyabhijna system. The Spanda School mentions the drawing of the form of vision of God on the mind in the course of the meditation and thereby the clearing away of the impurities as the way to realization of the identity with God. The Pratyabhijna school mentions that recognition of oneself as God is the way.

These two systems do not enjoin restraint of the breath, concentration and in the words of Sir Ramakrishnna Bhandarkar, all that 'course of fantastic external and internal conduct or discipline', which the School of Shaivism in India 'prescribe as essential'. In this respect Kashmir Shaivism is very near to Islam as Islam condemns self-mortification as a way to realization. The Islamic way to realization is simple, virtuous living, communion with God and service to humanity by sacrifice of one's self for others, if need be by shedding his blood.

Kashmir Shaivism has another similarity. As an instance, the case of celebrated Muslim mystic Abu'l Mughith al Husain Mansur-al-Hallaj (244-309 AH i.e. 853-922 AD) may be cited. He said Anal Haq, 'I am Creative Truth'. Sir Mohammad Iqbal also has repeatedly emphasized understanding the secrets of the self for realization.

The Islamic Period

The first evidence of Muslim introduction is borne by the presrved chronicle in Sharda script in State Archives Deptartment, which records the visit of two Arab companions of Prophet Mohammad (PBH), who met the king of Kashmir and impressed him to such an extant that he adopted simplicity by selling his crown and fixed (ushur) one tenth of the crops as revenue for the poor. The two 'sahabis' are reported to have proceded from here to China as missionary sent by Prophet Mohammad (PBH).
Muktappidya (725-753 AD/ 107-136 AH) also applied to the Chinese emperor for aid against the Arabs who were advancing from their base in Sind and Multan of whom we hear for the first time in connexion with the history of Kashmir (733 AD/115 AH). We may in passing note that Arabs won a victory over Chinese in 751 AD/ 134 AH and acquired Gilgit and other possessions. The history of Kashmir mentions Muslims, a second time when Kalhana represents the younger son and the second successor of Lalitaditya-Muktapida,viz, Vajraditya as selling many men to the Mlechas or Muslims and introducing into the country practices which befitted Mlechas or Muslims. Again from Kalhana's account it appears that Harsha (1089-1101 AD) supported Turushka (Muslim) captains of hundreds with money, or in the words of Sir Aurel Stein, Harsha had "Muhammadan troop leaders" in his service. Harsha's rule lasted from 482 to 495 AH/ 1089 to 1101 AD. Morco Polo. the Venetian traveller . also refers to the presence of Muslims in Kashmir about 676 AH/ 1277 AD. Here I would like to add to the historical records of Kashmir that I am in possession of a hand writtem manuscripts from my ancestoral library, which describes the chronogram of One Sayid Baqir, who migrated to Kashmir from Iran along with 1200 Sayids and passed away here and was buried in Thune village near Wusan (Kangan) in the year 655 AH. That means his arrival here has been many years earlier. Another manuscript dates 691 AH written by Sadr-ud-Din Husaini which is Arabic commentary of Sura Fatah and Arabic pamphlet prohibitting smoking. One more old manuscript is Awrad of Hazrat Baha ud Din Zakaria (d 666 AH). All these indicate presence of Muslims in Kashmir earlier than arrival of Hazrat Bul-bul Shah and conversion of king Rinchan Shah to Islam on his hands during 720-724 AH/ 1320-1323 AD. Still two centuries earlier than this event in the 12th century AD the conversion of Dard tribes on the Indus from Buddhism to Islam took place as stated by Stein.
After the defeat of Raja Dahir of Sind by Mohammad bin Qasim in 93 AH/ 712 AD, Dahir's son Jaisiya went to wait on the Rai of Kashmir. A person bearing the name Hamim, the son of Sama, a Syrian, accompanied Jaisiya to Kashmir. The Rai of Kashmir ordered that , from among the dependencies of Kashmir, a place called Shakalha should be assigned to Jaisiya. Jaisiya died in Shakalha and was succeeded by Hamim son of Sama. Hamim founded masjids there, and obtained great honour and regard. He was much respected by the king of Kashmir. This Hamim . is ostensibly the first Muslim to settle in Kashmir.

It is also worth noting that Muhammad bin Qasim, after the conquest of Sind, came to Multan in 92-94 AH/ 711-713 AD. Here he erected a Jami Masjid and minarets. He appointed Amir Daud Nasr, son of Walid Ummani, its Governor. Then Muhammad bin Qaim proceeded to the boundry of Kashmir called the Panj Mahiyat, at the upper course of Jhelum, just after it debouches into the plains. This is about the time of the caliphate of Walid-I (86-96 AH/ 705-715 AD). It was because of this expected attack of Arabs that Raja Chandra-Ped of Kashmir sought help from Chinese ruler, which he could not obtain. During this period Sulaiman bin Abdul Malik was enthroned, who called Muhammad bin Qasim back to Damuscus and with that the attack on Kashmir got avoided. After Muhammad bin Qasim Kashmir was once again attacked in the period of Hisham bin Abdul Malik (105-125 AH). This time Laltaditya was the ruler of Kashmir, who was the strongest ruler of the Hindu period. He had extended his regime to distant places like Bengal, South India, Sri Lanka and even up to north side Central Asia even upto Siberia.During the Khalifa Hisham the governor of Sind Junaid bin Abdur Rahman (107-111 AH) attacked Kashmir with a heavy hand, but Lalitaditya resisted it strongly. inspite of this the Arabs tried once again and in order to resist it, Lalitaditya was forced to seek help from China. Thouh he could not get this help, he however did not allow Arabs to proceed further. In Abbasi period under the Caliphte of Mansoor, the governor of Sind who was supposed to be the ruler of the Indian subcontinent, Hisham bin Umro al-Taglabi tried his luck upto the foothills of Himalayas and a part of Kashmir came under the rule of islamic rule. Even after the Khalifa Mansoor the Arabs continued to annex Kashmir into the vast Islamic rule but all such efforts did not succeed completely. They however hoisted their flags in the lower areas of Kashmir but the valley escaped from this. Kashmiri rulers were always worried about Arab invasion and that is why they used to be alert on their borders erecting barriers and also asking help from neighbouring countries. However in spite of all these safety measures the valley could not escape from the influence of Islam which was spreading all around. For the Sufis and preachers accompanying the Islamic army, these types of barriers mattered little.

After the end of Arab Caliphate, it was the turn of non-Arab Kings and Kashmir was once again the target of Islamic conquerors and the valley was shaken many a time by the shaking. The process of Arab attacks closed in 142 AH.

Many renowned historians and geographists have mentione about Kashmir in their books like Alyanboei (d 331 AH/940 AD), who reached Kashmir after crossing Zojila pass and has described the scenic beauty of Kashmir and that of its inhabitants in detail. Thereafter other tourist travellers like Abul Hasan Ali Masoodi (d. 346 AH) and Abul Raihan Albiruni who visited Kashmir are worth mentioning. Similarly Mazhar bin Tahir-ul-Muqaddasi an Arab renowned philosopher cum historian describes about the fruits of Kashmir. Again Khirdazbah (d. 300 AH) has described Kashmir as one of the four most noteworthy regions of the sub-continent the other three being Saamil, Hooreen and Gandhara. This proves that Muslim travellers from Islamic countries have been visiting this place in earlier times and that is why, when Sultan Mahmood Gaznavi attacked Kashmir in 424 AH, there were Muslims too among those people who were fortified. Morco Polo the Venetian traveller , also refers to the presence of Muslims in Kashmir about 676 AH/ 1277 AD. The defeat of Lakshman Deva on the hands of Trushka (the Turkish Muslims) in 567 AH/ 1168 AD represents a turning point in the History of Kashmir. After the defeat of this Raja many Muslim Sufi saints got ready to shift to Kashmir.Their simplicity and pure living influenced the people of this region and they received a message of hope from the principles of Islam, of which these Sufis used to preach. Thus Kashmir was not annexed by the armies but the hearts of people were won over by the influence exercised by Muslim scholars and Sufi saints. It is unfortunate that due to unfavourable circumstances, language barrier and unfamiliar culture, the names and efforts of those ancient elders could not be saved in the records of our history who enterd here at the time of the rise of Islam. It was with their efforts that before the entry of Hazrat Sayid Sharf-ud-Din Abdur-Rahman (Bul bul Shah Sahib) the ground was prepared for the spread of Islam.

While I was turning pages of my ancestoral manuscript library, I came across on hand-written chronogram regarding one such sofi saint named Sayid Baqir, who is mentioned to have come from Iran along with 1200 Sayids and was buried in 655 AH in the village Thune near Wusan and his mausoleum is described to be blessed with showers of mercy from Almighty Allah. This means Sayid Baqir had reached Kashmir about 100 years earlier to Hazrat Bulbul Shah. Another manuscript is dated 691 AH by Sadruddin Husaini-a commentary on Sura Fatah of Holy Quran in Arabic and an arabic pamphlet describing prohibition of smoking according to Quran and Hadith. One more manuscript is 'Awrad' of Hazrat Baha-ud-Din Zakaria of Multan (D. 666 AH). These pertain to the period much before the conversion of Rinchan Shah to Islam.

The first Muslim King of Kashmir:

Sultan Sadr-ud-Din, Rinchan, the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir, a contemporary of Edward III of England, was originally a Ladakhi, also called Tibetan, from western Tibet. He was well disposed towards Islam on account of his contact with Shah Mir, then in the Kashmir service. Rinchan is believed to have actually owed his conversion to Sayid Bilal (Bulbul Shah) in the beginning of 14th Century AD. Bulbul Shah is believed to have visited Kashmir first in the time of Raja Suhadeva, the predecessor of Rinchan. Sayid Bulbul Shah was a widely travelled Musavi Sayid from Turkistan having enjoyed a long stay at Baghdad. He was the spiritual disciple of Shah Nimatullah Wali Farsi, a Khalifa of Suhrawardi tariq or school of Sufis founded by Shaikh-ush-Shuyukh Shaikh Shihab-ud-Din Suhrawardi. The simplicity of Bulbul Shah's faith coupled with his own dissatisfaction with what was then professed by the people around him. Rinchan embraced Islam at the hands of Bulbul Shah and assumed the name Sultan Sadr-ud-Din and became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir.
The rule of Muslim kings begins with Rinchan shah. Although he ruled for two and a half years, he laid the foundation of Islam so strongly that the whole country converted to it. On his death his son was very young, therefore his queen Kota Rani married Odian Dev the brother of Sehdev and entrusted the governance to him. The era following Renchan Shah is also considered an unstable period. In fact Islam established after Kota Rani's rule. The foundation of it was laid by the famous Shah Mir. These Muslim kings ruled the country with great pomp and show for about 500 years from 1326 AD to 1819 AD. During the rule of Muhammad Shah Durrani, Pandit Birbal rebelled against the subedhar of Kashmir, Mohammad Azim khan and conspired with Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the Lion of Punjab. The Pandit met Ranjit Singh, in person and compelled him to invade Kashmir. he defeated the Muslims in 1819 AD and established the Sikh rule. Thus the susequent rules can be classified as under:
1) 1325 to 1343 AD/ 725 to 744 AH -- 18 years- era of instability.
2) 1343 to 1554 AD/ 744 to 961 AH-- 211 years-The Sultan Dynasty.
3) 1554 to 1586 AD/ 961 to 994 AH-- 32 years-The Chak Dynasty.
4) 1586 to 1752 AD/ 994 to 1166 AH--166 years- THE Mughal Kings.
5) 1754 to 1819 AD/ 1166 to 1234 AH-- 66 years- The Afghan Dynasty.
6) 1819 to 1846 AD/ 1234 to 1262 AH-- 27 years - The Sikh Dynasty.
7) 1846 to 1947 AD/ 1262 AH to 1366 AH--101 years. The Dogra Dynasty.

The Muslim period also witnessed scholars, saints and poets of great repute, which maintained the fame of the region as a great seat of learning. After the conversion of Rinchan, his brother-in-law and commander-in-chief and several others- according to one tradition 10,000 embraced the creed of Bulbul Shah. A place of gathering for the new converts was set up on the banks of the Vitasta and is known as Bulbul Lankar-(Lankar is a corruption of Langar meaning a hospice) and also the first mosque in Kashmir- reconstructed recently. Bulbul Shah died in 727 AH/ 1327 AD.

A host of Sayids arrived thereafter, prominent among these being : (1) Sayid Jalal-ud-Din of Bukhara known as Makhdum Jahanyan Jahangasht-the disciple of Sheikh Rukn-ud-Din Alam (son of Hazrat Baha-ud-Din zakarya Multani) and arrived in 748 AH and left Kashmir after a short stay. (2) Sayid Taj-ud-Din ( the cousin of Mir Sayid Ali Hamdani or Shah Hamadan ), who arrived in 760 AH, in the rign of Sutan Shihab-ud-Din and was accompanied by Sayid Masud and Sayid Yousuf, his disciples, who lie buried near his tomb in Mohalla Shihampur, a quarter of Srinagar. (3) Sayid Husain Simnani, who was the younger brother of Sayid Taj-ud-Din, a disciple of Sheikh Rukn-ud-Din Alam and came in 773 AH. Sayid Husain lies buried in a beautiful shrine in Kulgam. The other brother is buried close to the National- Highway to Islamabad near Awantipur.

Mir Sayid Ali Hamadani

Born in 714 AH/ 1314 AD at Hamadan Iran, with his geneology traced to Hazrat Ali through Imam Husain, he being the 16th in direct decent from Ali b. Abi Talib. He studied Islamic theology, acquired knowledge and learnt tasawwuf under Sayid Alaud Din Simnani, his maternal uncle. He became the disciple of Sheikh Abul Barakat Taqi-ud-Din Ali Dosti, thereafter Sheikh Sharaf-ud-Din Mahmud Muzdaqani in Ray. Shah Hamadan visited several countries, journeyed for about 21 years and thus came in contact with several sufis (mystics)and ulama (divines) of the age and profitted by association with them. Shah hamadan trvelled three times round the world and met 1400 saints. after retuning to his native place, Shah Hamadan left for Kashmir along with 700 sayids in the reign of Sultan Shihab-ud-Din in 774 AH/ 1732 AD. Sultan Shihab-ud-Din had gone on an expedition against the ruler of Ohund. After 4 months stay, Shah Hamadan left for the scene of the battle and persuaded both sides to come to peace. Shah Hamadan then proceeded to Mecca and came back to the valley in 781 AH/ 1379 AD. in the time of Sultan Qutb-ud-Din. After a stay of two and a half years, he went to Ladakh in 783 AH en route for Turkistan. The third visit of Shah Hamadan took place in 785 AH/ 1383 AD. But he had to leave Kashmir on account of ill-health and stayed at Pakhli for ten days at the request of the ruler of that place whose name was Sultan Muhammad. From Pakhli Shah Hamadan reached in the vicinity of Kunar, where after a short stay, he had a relapse on 1st Zilhajja 786 AH/ 1384 AD and ate nothing for five days. On the 5th Zilhajja ,he drank water several times, and on the same night of the same day , he breathed his last at the age of 72. On the death-bed Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir=Rahim was on his lips, and this, strangely enough , gives the date of his demise. He was buried at Khatlan two miles away from Kunar according to the wishes of his disciples. THE moghul KING babar visited the shrine of SHAH hamadan in 920 AHl 1514 AD, after capturing the Chaghan-Sarai.

Shah Hamadan belonged to the kubravi order of Sufis founded by Shaikh Najm-ud-Din Kubra of Khwarizm who died in 618 AH/ 1221 AD. The Kubravis are a branch of Suhrawardi Sufis. That the conversion of the valley to Islam was furthered by the presence of Shah Hamadan is beyond doubt. His promonent co-workers were : Mir Sayid Haidar, 2. Sayid Jamal-ud-Din, 3.Sayid Kamal-i-Sani, 4. Sayid Jamal-ud-Din Alai, 5. Sayid Rukn-ud-Din, 6. Sayid Muhammad, 7. Sayid Azizullah.