Kashmiri Pandit
कॉशुर पण्डित, کٲشُر پنڈت
KashmirPundit1895BritishLibrary.jpg
Regions with significant populations
India
Jammu and KashmirNational Capital Region
Languages
Kashmiri, Hindi-Urdu
Religion
Om symbol.svg Hinduism
Related ethnic groups
Indo-Iranians, Dards, Saraswat Brahmins

The Kashmiri Pandits (Kashmiri: कॉशुर पण्डित (Devanagari), کٲشُر پنڈت (Nastaleeq)), Hindi-Urdu: कश्मीरी पण्डित (Devanagari), کشمیری پنڈت (Nastaleeq)) are a Hindu Brahmin community originating from Kashmir, a mountainous region in South Asia. The term Kashmiri refers to a person hailing from the Kashmir Valley and the term Pandit refers to a learned or wise person.[1] Almost all Kashmiri Brahmans of Kashmir were commonly known as Pandits.[2]

Religion and societyEdit

Kashmiri Pandits are cheifly followers of Shiva. Their favourite goddess is Khir Bhawani. The spring of Khir Bhawani at the mouth of Sind Valley is considered one of their most sacred places. [3] Their branch of Shiva worship is known as Kashmir Saivism.[citation needed]

HistoryEdit

Hindus of Ancient KashmirEdit

The first raja of Kashmir was Adgonand (4249 B.C.) & was succeeded by his son Danudar. Danudar was killed by the Yadhus, the tribe of Krishna.[4]

 
Photograph of the Surya Temple, The most impressive and grandest ruins in Kashmir, at Marttand-Hardy Cole's Archaeological Survey of India Report 'Illustrations of Ancient Buildings in Kashmir.' (1869)

Early HistoryEdit

The Hindu caste system of the region was influenced by the influx of Buddhism from the time of Asoka, around the third century BC, and a consequence of this was that the traditional lines of varna were blurred, with the exception of that for the Brahmins, who remained aloof from the changes.[5][6] Another notable feature of early Kashmiri society was the relative high regard in which women were held when compared to their position in other communities of the period.[7]

King Lalitaditya-Muktapida's (725-753 A.D.) reign is considered one of the best in the history of Kashmir. Historian Amit Kushari writes that he was a powerful king and built a large number of canals, temples, drainage projects & installed huge statues of Buddha & Shiva made of Copper, Silver & Gold. He reconstructed the famous Martand Sun Temple. [2]

The great Shankaracharya (788-820 A.D.) is believed to have visited Kashmir & was influenced by Kashmir Saivism. King Avantivarman (855 - 883 A.D) chose to improve his kingdom rather than conquer foreign lands. Among his major achievements were the draining of the valley by Suyya, his chief engineer, founding of Awantipora & Sopore (Suyyapur), & the revival of Sanskrit learning. [2]

A historically contested region, Northern India was subject to attack from predatory Turkic and Arab régimes from the eighth century onwards, but they generally ignored the mountain-circled Kashmir Valley in favour of easier targets elsewhere. It was not until the fourteenth century that Muslim rule was finally established in the Valley and when this happened, it did not occur primarily as a consequence of invasion so much as because of internal problems resulting from the weak rule and corruption endemic in the Hindu Lohara dynasty.[8][9] Mohibbul Hasan describes this collapse as

The Dãmaras or feudal chiefs grew powerful, defied royal authority, and by their constant revolts plunged the country into confusion. Life and property were not safe, agriculture declined, and there were periods when trade came to a standstill. Socially and morally too the court and the country had sunk to the depths of degradations.[9]

The Brahmins were particularly unhappy during the reign of the last Lohara king, for Sūhadeva chose to include them in his system of onerous taxation, whereas previously they appear to have been exempted.[10]

Medieval HistoryEdit

During the reign of King Rajadev (1213-1236 A.D.) the oppression and plunder of the brahmins was extreme. Things became worse with the misrule of borthers Simhadev (1286-1300 A.D.) & Sehedev (1301-1320 A.D.). Finding this time ripe, forces of neighboring king Karmasen, led by his general Zulju (Dulcha), entered kashmir through the dZojiLa pass. [2]Zulju, who was probably a Mongol from Turkistan, wreaked devastation in 1320, when he commanded a force that conquered many regions of the Kashmir Valley. However, Zulju was probably not a Muslim.[11] The actions of Sultan Sikandar Butshikan (1389–1413), the seventh Muslim ruler in Kashmir were also significant to the area. The Sultan has been referred to as an iconoclast because of his destruction of many non-Muslim religious symbols and the manner in which he forced the population to convert or flee. Many followers of the traditional religions who did not convert to Islam instead migrated to other parts of India. The migrants included some Pandits, although it is possible that some of this community relocated for economic reasons as much as to escape the new rulers. Brahmins were at that time generally being offered grants of land in other areas by rulers seeking to utilise the traditionally high literacy and general education of the community, as well as the legitimacy conferred upon them by association. Moving away from areas where they were under threat of forced religious conversion, the Brahmins were in turn imposing their own religion on their new locales. The outcome of this shift both in population and in religion was that the Kashmir Valley became a predominantly Muslim region.[12][13]

Butshikan's heir, the devout Muslim Zain-ul-Abidin, was tolerant of Hindus to the extent of sanctioning a return to Hinduism of those who had been forcibly converted to the Muslim faith, as well as becoming involved in the restoration of mandirs and of Hindu rituals such as sati, which his father had banned. He respected the learning of the Pandits, to whom he gave land as well as encouraging those who had left to return. He operated a meritocracy and both Brahmins and Buddhists were among his closest advisors.[14]Upto his time the Hindus used to write their scriptures on birch-barks.[4]

Akbar conquered Kashmir in 1587 A.D. During his mughal rule the hindus enjoyed security of person & property & were alloted high goverment posts. It was he, who pleased with their intelligence, gave them the surname Pandit.[4]

Recent History and EventsEdit

 
Three Hindu priests writing religious texts. 1890s, Jammu and Kashmir.

Ethnic cleansing and exodus from Kashmir (1985–1995)Edit

According to figures from the CIA for 2007, at that time about 300,000 Pandits living in India were "internally displaced people" from Kashmir and Jammu.[15] The US government has reported on the terrorist threat to Pandits still living in the Kashmir region.[16]

The socio-political situation in Kashmir continues to be volatile, with the displaced Kashmiri Pandits beginning to lose their cultural identity. The US Department of State reports that, according to the National Human Rights Commission of India, the Kashmiri Pandit population in Jammu and Kashmir dropped from 15 percent in 1941 to 0.1 percent as of 2001.[17] In 2009 Oregon Legislative Assembly passed a resolution to recognise 14 September 2007, as Martyrs Day to acknowledge ethnic cleansing and campaigns of terror inflicted on non-Muslim minorities of Jammu and Kashmir by terrorists seeking to establish an Islamic state.[18]

PRC and the JKMIP ActsEdit

There are zones set up with offices for relief.[19] Many Orders, Circulars and recommendations have been issued for relief of Kashmiri Pandits.[20][21][22]

The Jammu and Kashmir Migrant Immovable Property (Preservation, Protection And Restraint On Distress Sales) Act, 1997, provides that "Any person who is an unauthorised occupant or recipient of any usufruct of any immovable property of the migrant shall pay to the migrant such compensation for the period of unauthorised occupation and in such a manner as may be determined by the District Magistrate."[23]

Panun KashmirEdit

The community had hoped to return after the situation improved, but have not been able to do so for 20 years because normalcy has yet to return to the valley and they fear a risk to their lives.[24]

In February 2011 Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti President Sanjay Tikkoo said that "We strongly believe that the State and central governments treat Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley as second class citizens."[25]

In March 2012, In a global meet of Pandits, led by Moti Kaul, President All India Kashmiri Samaj (AIKS), the Kashmiri Pandit community have backed the proposal of a wholesome Satellite City for the return and rehabilitation of the community in the Valley. [26]

Kashmiri Pandit NamesEdit

The Brahmans of Kashmir, or Kashmiri Pandits as they are commonly known, are the original inhabitants of Kashmir.[27][2]

Family NamesEdit

The Pandits are known by their Kram or family appellation. The Kashmiri Pandits are broken into numerous Gotras or sub-divisions and in one Gotra there may be many Krams. The Kram is often the relic of a nickname applied to the ancestor of the sub-division. [28] Many Kashmiri Pandit surnames or family names have also been derived from Central Asian or Persian names, such as Bakshi, Razdan, Safaya etc. Pandits also took up names associated with Islamic religion such as Qazi (Islamic Judge) and Mulla (Islamic Priest) [29]

Culture, Customs and TraditionsEdit

 
A Kashmiri pandit lady, photograph by Fred Bremner, circa ~1900

DressEdit

Early records and archaeological evidence such as terracotta sculptures do not record the present-day dress, which comprises items such as the turban, taranga, and pheran. Instead, records indicate that attire was varied and included leather doublets, woollen cloaks, and clothes made from hemp, cotton, linen and different types of silk. Many items of clothing reflected the cold winter climate of the area.

Kshemendra's detailed records from the eleventh century describe many items of which the precise nature is unknown. It is clear that tunics known as kanchuka were worn long-sleeved by men and in both long- and half-sleeved versions by women. Caps were worn, as well as a type of turban referred to as a shirahshata, while footwear consisted of leather shoes and boots, worn with socks. Some items were elaborate, such as the peacock shoes – known as mayuropanah – worn by followers of fashion, and steel-soled shoes adorned with floral designs, lubricated internally with beeswax.[30]

There are many references to the wearing of jewellery by both sexes, but a significant omission from them is any record of the dejihor worn on the ear by women today as a symbol of their being married. Kaw has speculated that this item of jewellery may not have existed at the time. The texts also refer to both sexes using cosmetics, and to the women adopting elaborate hairstyles. Men, too, might adopt stylish arrangements and wear flowers in their hair, if they had the financial means to do so.[31]

Pilgrimage sitesEdit

 
Mount Harmukh

Harmukh is traditionally revered by Kashmiri Pandits and in 2009 there was an attempt by them to revive pilgrimages to the site.[32]

FestivalsEdit

The religious festivals of the Hindus of Kashmir have Vedic roots. The Kashmiri Pandits share most of their festivals with other Hindu communities.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Merriam Webster, Dictionary (25 Mar 2012). "Definition of Pandit".
  2. ^ a b c d e Parvez Dewan (30-Jan-1996). Jammu Kashmir Ladakh. Manohar Publishers. p. 367. ISBN 978-8170490999. Check date values in: |year= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help) Cite error: The named reference "Pervez Dewan" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference "Pervez Dewan" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference "Pervez Dewan" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference "Pervez Dewan" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  3. ^ Lawrence R Walter (1895). Valley of Kashmir. Oxford Press, Asia Educational Services. p. 296. ISBN 9788120616301. Retrieved 18 Mar 2012.
  4. ^ a b c Bakshi, S.R. (1997). Kashmir:History & People. ISBN 8185431965. Retrieved 08 July 2012. Unknown parameter |Page= ignored (|page= suggested) (help); Unknown parameter |Publisher= ignored (|publisher= suggested) (help); Check date values in: |accessdate= (help) Cite error: The named reference "bakshi" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: The named reference "bakshi" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  5. ^ Bamzai, Prithivi Nath Kaul (1994). Culture and political history of Kashmir, Volume 1. M.D. Publications Pvt. Ltd. pp. 191–192. ISBN 9788185880310.
  6. ^ Kaw, M. K. (2004). Kashmir and it's people: studies in the evolution of Kashmiri society. Volume 4 of KECSS research series: Culture and heritage of Kashmir. APH Publishing. p. 90. ISBN 9788176485371.
  7. ^ *Kaw, M. K. (2004). Kashmir and it's people: studies in the evolution of Kashmiri society. APH Publishing. p. 91. ISBN 9788176485371. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
  8. ^ Stein, Mark Aurel (1989) [1900]. Kalhana's Rajatarangini: a chronicle of the kings of Kasmir, Volume 1 (Reprinted ed.). Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 106–108. ISBN 9788120803695. Retrieved 18 July 2011.
  9. ^ a b Hasan, Mohibbul (2005) [1959]. Kashmir Under the Sultans (Reprinted ed.). Delhi: Aakar Books. pp. 29–32. ISBN 9788187879497. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
  10. ^ Hasan, Mohibbul (2005) [1959]. Kashmir Under the Sultans (Reprinted ed.). Delhi: Aakar Books. p. 34. ISBN 9788187879497. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
  11. ^ Hasan, Mohibbul (2005) [1959]. Kashmir Under the Sultans (Reprinted ed.). Delhi: Aakar Books. p. 35. ISBN 9788187879497. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
  12. ^ Davidson, Ronald M. (2004) [2002]. Indian Esoteric Buddhism: A Social History of the Tantric Movement (Reprinted (for SE Asia sale only) ed.). New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 70–71. ISBN 9788120819917. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
  13. ^ Hasan, Mohibbul (2005) [1959]. Kashmir Under the Sultans (Reprinted ed.). Delhi: Aakar Books. pp. 28–95. ISBN 9788187879497. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
  14. ^ Hasan, Mohibbul (2005) [1959]. Kashmir Under the Sultans (Reprinted ed.). Delhi: Aakar Books. pp. 87, 91–93. ISBN 9788187879497. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
  15. ^ "CIA – The World Factbook". Cia.gov. Retrieved 21 May 2011.
  16. ^ "India". Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, US Department of State. 6 March 2007. Retrieved 8 July 2011. Check date values in: |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  17. ^ India - Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, United States Department of State, published on 6 March 2007, accessed on 6 February 2012
  18. ^ "Senate Joint Resolution 23" (PDF). State Legislative Assembly. Retrieved 21 May 2011. Unknown parameter |First= ignored (|first= suggested) (help); Unknown parameter |Last= ignored (|last= suggested) (help)
  19. ^ "Relief Offices for Migrants". Retrieved 21 May 2011.
  20. ^ National Informatics Center, Govt of India. "J&K Migrant Relief". Unknown parameter |Accessdate= ignored (|accessdate= suggested) (help)
  21. ^ "Recommendations of Koul Committee" (PDF). Retrieved 21 May 2011.
  22. ^ India of, Govt. "The Jammu Jammu And Kashmir Gazette" (PDF). nic.in. Retrieved 21 May 2011.
  23. ^ India of, Govt. "The Jammu Jammu And Kashmir Gazette" (PDF). nic.in. Retrieved 21 May 2011.
  24. ^ Masih, Archana (29 April 2011). "The tragedy of Kashmiri Pandits (Part IV)". Rediff.com. Retrieved 7 July 2011.
  25. ^ "Kashmiri Pandits celebrate Basant Panchami in Valley". Indian Express. 8 February 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2011.
  26. ^ "Kashmiri Pandits back proposal of Satellite City". Money Control. 23 March 2011. Retrieved 25 May 2011.
  27. ^ {{cite web|url=http://www.the-south-asian.com/Jan-March2011/Kashmiri_Pandits.htm |title=Kashmiri Pandits: 5000 Year heritage of the valley |publisher=South Asian Life & Time (SALT) |date=January - March 2011 |accessdate=21 July 2012}
  28. ^ Sir Walter R Lawrence (1895). Valley of Kashmir. Henry Frowde, Oxford University Press. pp. 304, 306. ISBN 9788120616301. Retrieved 24 Mar 2012.
  29. ^ Parvez Dewan (30-Jan-1996). Jammu Kashmir Ladakh. Manohar Publishers. p. 367. ISBN 978-8170490999. Check date values in: |year= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  30. ^ Kaw, pp. 94–95.
  31. ^ Kaw, pp. 95–97.
  32. ^ "Gangbal yatra to commence after 100 yrs in Kashmir". Zeenews. 31 May 2009. Retrieved 8 July 2011.

External linksEdit