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Friday, July 23, 2010

Kashmir-Krama by S. D. Dhar

The advent of Islam in Kashmir wiped off the Hindus leaving only 11 families, some say 9. It is a tribute to their amazing tenacity that the few who remained blossomed again. 

They had occasional periods of respite particularly in the reign of Zainul-Ab-din and in phases after the Moghul conquest of Kashmir. 

Their plight worsened again during the Pathan rule and then improved again during the Sikh and Dogra regimes. Now again they are in low waters. Their economic condition is bad and they are facing unemployment. The younger generation, though highly educated has lost its religious moorings and has become rudderless.

Kashmir is no longer the famous seat of Sanskrit learning as it was in former days. There is no Sanskrit Department in the Kashmir University. Members of our priestly class who are our traditional teachers and custodian of our religious and cultural heritage are leaving their vocations and their children are taking to other professions. 

The perennial source of ancient Kashmir-Krama seem to have dried up. This has caused grave concern to shaktas all over India. The weakening of the Kashmir Krama is creating a great imbalance in Shakta worship. Sometimes back the matter was considered by the executive committee of the All-India Shakta sammelan and it expressed its serious anxiety over the prevailing conditions in Kashmir, and I as the president of the Sammelan was asked to go to Kashmir and assess the situation. 

I have been to Kashmir several times during the last five years and even though what I have seen has pained me but I have not lost hope. Things could not be worse than what they were when we were only 9 or 11 families left. Then we rose as if from ashes. I have not met initiates in our Kaul Sadhana besides a very few. But there are quite a number of eminent Sanskrit scholars. 

It is indeed a matter of regret that nearly 4000 Sanskrit manuscripts pertaining or Shakta worship and Shaiva Darshan were lying uncatalogued in some almirahs of the Research Department and Archives in Srinagar. I wrote about them to the Government of Jammu & Kashmir as also to the Union Government. Now they have been removed and handed over to the Kashmir University, which does not have a Sanskrit department. I do not know how the Kashmir University proposes to deal with them.

S. D. Dhar
Retired Conservator of Forests.




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