28 September 2007

PAKISTAN'S ILLEGAL AND UNREASONABLE OCCUPATION OF KASHMIR

Ancient Kashmir is steeped in legend. It is said that the Kashmir Valley was once the great lake Satisar (the Lake of the goddess Sati, also known as Durga), home to ferocious demons. Responding to the penances of the great sage Kashyapa, the grandson of Brahma himself, the gods destroyed the demon of the lake, with a pebble divinely caste, which today stands as the hill upon which towers the fortress built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, and known today as Hari Parbat. The water of Satisar was drained through a breach in the mountains at what is now the mouth of the Valley, beyond the northern town of Baramulla (or the Sanskrit name of Varaha Mukh, the visage of the boar). From then on the Valley has carried the name of its founder. Like that of the rest of India, the ancient history of the State lacks detailed documentation although stuff and legend have been indistinguishably mired in the work of Rajatarangini by Kalhan whose identity remains a source of conjecture. In the 3r d Century BC, the state was incorporated into the Maurya Empire under Asoka, founder of the city of Srinagar. Buddhism became the principal religion which continued into the times of the Kushanas (1st and 2nd centuries AD), the names of many of whose rulers several towns in the Valley were named and continue to be borne by several towns in the Valley, such as Kanispora after Kanishka, and Hushkora after Huvishka. It was in Kanishka’s time that the 3rd Great Buddhist Council was held in Srinagar, formalising the split between the schools of Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism. Thereafter Buddhism declined in the Valley though it retained its vibrancy and continues to thrive in Ladakh.

In the 8th century, Kashmir rose to become the centre of a great kingdom , spanning much of North India and parts of Central Asia under Lalitaditya Muktapida, who was builder of the Martand (sun) Temple, and founder of the Valley’s irrigation canal irrigation system which has survived for centuries, helping water rich harvests of the finest rice, a variety of temperate fruit and exotic crops such as saffron.

Islam came to India through traders, warriors and missionaries from the eighth to the twelfth centuries. The faith came to Kashmir through the Sufi saint Bulbul Shah in the early fourteenth century, finding wide acceptance. The ruling monarch Rinchen Shah converted to Islam and assumed the name of Sadruddin in 1327 AD. Thereafter, beginning with his former general Shahmir, a series of Muslim dynasties ruled the State with brief interludes of annexation into neighbouring States, to become a part of the Mughal Empire in the late 16th century, under its greatest ruler Akbar. The State was fully incorporated into the systems of administration and land settlement which long remained a legacy of that Empire in India, well after its own disintegration.

All through this period the religious activity of the Shaivites and Sufis continued to flourish, and fed the vibrant stream of Kashmiri culture. Lal Ded, Kashmir’s great poetesses was also among her foremost Shaivite ascetics and mentor to one of Kashmir’s greatest Sufi saints, Sheikh Nooruddin, whose school of Sufism is called ‘Rishi’ and who is revered by Hindus as Nand Rishi. The songs of Habba Khatoon, queen to the last Sultan of Kashmir before it fell to the Mughals, who retired to the life of a hermit in the hills of Gurez after her husband’s deportation, still resonate with the peasant women harvesting rice in Kashmir’s fields.

The rule of the Mughals has been coloured by romance, the modern remnants of which are to be found in the masterful architecture and layout of their world famous gardens in Kashmir: Shalimar, Nishat, Chashme Shahi, Chinar Bagh. A graphic account of the pomp and panoply of the Emperor’s cavalcade to Kashmir has been left to us by the French physician Francois Bernier who was in the court of the Emperor Aurangzeb.

The Imperial Court called on the Kashmiri Pandits, famed for their scholarship, to man courtly positions in Delhi. Thus it was that the ancestor of the Nehrus was recruited by the Emperor Farrukhsiyar in the early 18th century to serve as imperial scribe.

The defeat of the Empire at the hands of the Afghan brigand Ahmed Shah Abdali forced the ceding of Kashmir to the Afghans in 1753 AD, leading to a period of unmitigated brutality and widespread distress, which remained cruelly etched on the public memory, reinforced by the happenings of 1947. The greatest of the Sikh rulers Maharaja Ranjit Singh won Kashmir in 1815. On the defeat of the Sikhs by the British, the latter annexed and then sold Kashmir to the local feudatory Gulab Singh, who then assumed the title of Maharaja. His dynasty continued to rule the State under British paramountcy till the events described hereafter

GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY

The terms "Kashmir" and "Muslim" are often loosely, and erroneously, used when referring to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan has deliberately fostered this misrepresentation to stake its claim to what it terms a "Muslim State".

Indeed, the State of Jammu and Kashmir has a Muslim majority but is by no means a homogenous religious or ethnic entity. Like the rest of India, it represents a mosaic of different religions, different ethnic groups and cultures as do many other States of India. In its entirety, the State consists of Jammu to the south, Ladakh in the northeast and geographically the smallest segment Kashmir, comprised mainly of a river valley, surrounded by lofty mountains. All three segments are distinguished by their diversity. Jammu has a majority Hindu population(60%), but with substantial Muslim and Sikh minorities. Poonch, Rajouri and Doda, three of its six districts have Muslim majorities. Variations of Punjabi like Dogri and Pahari, are the languages most widely spoken , together with a smattering of Kashmiri. Ladakh has two districts; one, Leh, overwhelmingly Buddhist and the other, Kargil, overwhelmingly (73%) Shia Muslim. The languages there are Ladakhi and Balti. Kashmiri is not i ndigenous to this geographically largest constituent of the State. The Kashmir Valley itself is predominantly Muslim, with small components of Hindus and Sikhs. Kashmiri is the predominant language, but with entire regions speaking Shina and Pahari.

The constituent units of the State of Jammu and Kashmir still retain many of their distinctive religious, ethnic and linguistic features. This heterogeneity was not lost even when they were incorporated in one or the other empire - Maurya, Kushan, Mughal, Sikh or British, and today it reflects the ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious diversity of India. © Govt. of India

The land of Kashmir is called ‘Heaven of the world’. In the Pakistan- Occupied Kashmir â€"no outsider is allowed to visit the wonderful scenic beauty of the valley. Some photos were sent to me by a friend are posted here.

Ancient Kashmir is steeped in legend. It is said that the Kashmir Valley was once the great lake Satisar (the Lake of the goddess Sati, also known as Durga), home to ferocious demons. Responding to the penances of the great sage Kashyapa, the grandson of Brahma himself, the gods destroyed the demon of the lake, with a pebble divinely caste, which today stands as the hill upon which towers the fortress built by the Mughal Emperor Akbar, and known today as Hari Parbat. The water of Satisar was drained through a breach in the mountains at what is now the mouth of the Valley, beyond the northern town of Baramulla (or the Sanskrit name of Varaha Mukh, the visage of the boar). From then on the Valley has carried the name of its founder. Like that of the rest of India, the ancient history of the State lacks detailed documentation although stuff and legend have been indistinguishably mired in the work of Rajatarangini by Kalhan whose identity remains a source of conjecture. In the 3r d Century BC, the state was incorporated into the Maurya Empire under Asoka, founder of the city of Srinagar. Buddhism became the principal religion which continued into the times of the Kushanas (1st and 2nd centuries AD), the names of many of whose rulers several towns in the Valley were named and continue to be borne by several towns in the Valley, such as Kanispora after Kanishka, and Hushkora after Huvishka. It was in Kanishka’s time that the 3rd Great Buddhist Council was held in Srinagar, formalising the split between the schools of Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism. Thereafter Buddhism declined in the Valley though it retained its vibrancy and continues to thrive in Ladakh.

In the 8th century, Kashmir rose to become the centre of a great kingdom , spanning much of North India and parts of Central Asia under Lalitaditya Muktapida, who was builder of the Martand (sun) Temple, and founder of the Valley’s irrigation canal irrigation system which has survived for centuries, helping water rich harvests of the finest rice, a variety of temperate fruit and exotic crops such as saffron.

Islam came to India through traders, warriors and missionaries from the eighth to the twelfth centuries. The faith came to Kashmir through the Sufi saint Bulbul Shah in the early fourteenth century, finding wide acceptance. The ruling monarch Rinchen Shah converted to Islam and assumed the name of Sadruddin in 1327 AD. Thereafter, beginning with his former general Shahmir, a series of Muslim dynasties ruled the State with brief interludes of annexation into neighbouring States, to become a part of the Mughal Empire in the late 16th century, under its greatest ruler Akbar. The State was fully incorporated into the systems of administration and land settlement which long remained a legacy of that Empire in India, well after its own disintegration.

All through this period the religious activity of the Shaivites and Sufis continued to flourish, and fed the vibrant stream of Kashmiri culture. Lal Ded, Kashmir’s great poetesses was also among her foremost Shaivite ascetics and mentor to one of Kashmir’s greatest Sufi saints, Sheikh Nooruddin, whose school of Sufism is called ‘Rishi’ and who is revered by Hindus as Nand Rishi. The songs of Habba Khatoon, queen to the last Sultan of Kashmir before it fell to the Mughals, who retired to the life of a hermit in the hills of Gurez after her husband’s deportation, still resonate with the peasant women harvesting rice in Kashmir’s fields.

The rule of the Mughals has been coloured by romance, the modern remnants of which are to be found in the masterful architecture and layout of their world famous gardens in Kashmir: Shalimar, Nishat, Chashme Shahi, Chinar Bagh. A graphic account of the pomp and panoply of the Emperor’s cavalcade to Kashmir has been left to us by the French physician Francois Bernier who was in the court of the Emperor Aurangzeb.

The Imperial Court called on the Kashmiri Pandits, famed for their scholarship, to man courtly positions in Delhi. Thus it was that the ancestor of the Nehrus was recruited by the Emperor Farrukhsiyar in the early 18th century to serve as imperial scribe.

The defeat of the Empire at the hands of the Afghan brigand Ahmed Shah Abdali forced the ceding of Kashmir to the Afghans in 1753 AD, leading to a period of unmitigated brutality and widespread distress, which remained cruelly etched on the public memory, reinforced by the happenings of 1947. The greatest of the Sikh rulers Maharaja Ranjit Singh won Kashmir in 1815. On the defeat of the Sikhs by the British, the latter annexed and then sold Kashmir to the local feudatory Gulab Singh, who then assumed the title of Maharaja. His dynasty continued to rule the State under British paramountcy till the events described hereafter

GEOGRAPHY AND HISTORY

The terms "Kashmir" and "Muslim" are often loosely, and erroneously, used when referring to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan has deliberately fostered this misrepresentation to stake its claim to what it terms a "Muslim State".

Indeed, the State of Jammu and Kashmir has a Muslim majority but is by no means a homogenous religious or ethnic entity. Like the rest of India, it represents a mosaic of different religions, different ethnic groups and cultures as do many other States of India. In its entirety, the State consists of Jammu to the south, Ladakh in the northeast and geographically the smallest segment Kashmir, comprised mainly of a river valley, surrounded by lofty mountains. All three segments are distinguished by their diversity. Jammu has a majority Hindu population(60%), but with substantial Muslim and Sikh minorities. Poonch, Rajouri and Doda, three of its six districts have Muslim majorities. Variations of Punjabi like Dogri and Pahari, are the languages most widely spoken , together with a smattering of Kashmiri. Ladakh has two districts; one, Leh, overwhelmingly Buddhist and the other, Kargil, overwhelmingly (73%) Shia Muslim. The languages there are Ladakhi and Balti. Kashmiri is not i ndigenous to this geographically largest constituent of the State. The Kashmir Valley itself is predominantly Muslim, with small components of Hindus and Sikhs. Kashmiri is the predominant language, but with entire regions speaking Shina and Pahari.

The constituent units of the State of Jammu and Kashmir still retain many of their distinctive religious, ethnic and linguistic features. This heterogeneity was not lost even when they were incorporated in one or the other empire - Maurya, Kushan, Mughal, Sikh or British, and today it reflects the ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious diversity of India. © Govt. of India

The land of Kashmir is called ‘Heaven of the world’. In the Pakistan- Occupied Kashmir â€"no outsider is allowed to visit the wonderful scenic beauty of the valley. Some photos were sent to me by a friend are posted here.

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