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   First Exodus
   Second Exodus
   Third Exodus
   Fourth Exodus
   Fifth Exodus
   Sixth Exodus
   Seventh Exodus
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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

Panun Kashmir


Symbol of Unity



So much has been sung of the marvellous and magnificent beauty of the physiography of Kashmir, 'Paradise on Earth' by saints and sages, philosophers and poets, mystics and bards, divines and emperors, historians and travelers from far and near, that I wish I could describe one hundredth of what they have sung. One must possess a born poets, powerful and refined sensibility, imagination and vision together with the boldness of his pen to be able to make attempt to sing of her charms with full-throated ease. The Valley of Kashmir lures all irresistibly. Those who have tramped across the globe have no hesitation in asserting that Kashmir is a land of peerless beauty on this planet. It excels the beauty of Switzerland. Bowl shaped with lofty mountains standing guard all around, cradled in the Himalayas, Kashmir has everything to gratify all the senses with thrilling experiences and to seekers of peace it gives a satisfaction that is much more solid and enduring than a thrill.

With its salubrious climate that infuses health and heartiness into a sick-man, its bewitching, quite idyllic scenery, its arresting landscape, its snowcapped peaks from which flow perennially murmuring streams rivulets and sinuous rills and cataracts guttering, like glass, fit for angels to repose by its mists and clouds that rise sky wards like swirling smoke of incense, its remarkably exquisite dawns and day breaks and equally enjoyable dusky evenings, its ancient and mysterious all encompassing woods and evergreen forests that are home to a treasure of fauna and flora, its gorgeously colourful meadows, its warbling birds, its tranquil and placid blue lakes, bubbling springs, its sprawling orchards laden with tempting juicy sweet and delicious fruit, its pleasure gardens and grottos, its breezes that kiss gently and tenderly and a variety of other gifts of nature that beggar description, this happy and has been the chosen land of Gods and to which nature has been lavish in her bounty. A new comer here falls in love with it at first sight and cannot help being swept away by a feeling of rapture and unearthly joy. He stands and stares around in wonder. The magnetic beauty of the land draws him closer and closer and spell bound he saunters about and deeper the wonder grows and the more unwilling he becomes to part from it.

The germ of his attitude and response to the surroundings is essentially the environment of unearthly peace, tranquility, calm and security. Here peace rains imperceptibly from heaven and settles in every nook and corner. Here peace descends from mountain tops and cliffs, emanates from deep woods and forests, exudes from gardens and orchards and finds retreats in every house and habitation and inhabitation. It gives a feeling of the uplift of the spirit where by a person merges and mingles with every thing around him and every thing becomes part of his being. No one escapes this spiritual feeling which is not a simple pleasure. No wonder, then, that this spirituality forms the woof and web of more than five thousand years old culture of Kashmir. This abode of peace and, the seat of Goddess of learning.

Shahjahan exclaimed, "If there is paradise on the earth it is here, it is here." Pandit Brij Narain Chakbast sang, particles of my motherland, Kashmir are known for their hospitality. Not to speak of its lakes and cascades, even the way side pebbles quenched my thirst whenever the need arose." It is but natural that such physiography of Kashmir should get reflected in the character of its ancient inhabitants who are nice, good, gentle and harmony gave birth to myriad saints and sages who attained highest goals of life by meditation. The mother of the three worlds and consort of Lord Shiva Parvati, chose to take her birth in this hallowed land the Maharagniya came flying from the deep south to make it her home Lord Shiva himself made it his abode. It is Sharda Peetha lovable, devoid of malice and crookedness. Kashmir has been a sangam, a meeting place of various communities and sects professing different faiths, beliefs and creeds and all co-existing in prefect harmony and tolerance. Practicing respect for others beliefs they had a world outlook and knew no conflicts arise out of racial and religious differences.

The aboriginal inhabitants of Kashmir, the Kashmiri Hindus, in common parlance known as Kashmiri Pandits (KPS) constitute a distinct class of their own are considered to be a purest specimen of the ancient Aryan settlements on the banks of the river Saraswati and who migrated to Kashmir Valley in wake of the changing course of the river and eventually becoming invisible, having been dried up. The offsprings of rishis and seers and sages and belonging to the highest order of Brahmins, this small community of the Samswats have been and still are by and large, sober, peace loving and docile. They are among the few ancient surviving races whose traditions come down from the Gods. They are chataeterized by their being highly educated and learned. Vidyadhars, with more than 95% literacy, they have produced a galaxy of brilliant sages, saints, poets and statesmen, administrators and ambassadors, who made a lasting contribution to the development of the Indian composite heritage and culture.

When Islam came to Kashmir, it brought conflict as it brought wherever its followers went. The KPs withstood and despite centuries upon centuries of humiliation, persecution, repression and torture at the hands of foreign rulers they survived. They passed through numerous periods of shame and indignity and physical vicissitudes, yet century after century they have recovered their glory by their own power of self-preservation. They have succeeded against fierce odds in preserving their rich cultural heritage bequeathed to them by their forebears who were man and women as great saints, free thinkers, intellectuals and literary giants showing matchless maturity and tolerance. Kashmin Pandit is the product of that vibrant, vigorous and unfettered, broad, exciting and tolerant culture and civilization that has never shown apathy and aversion to new and alien influences, thoughts and faiths whenever they came into contact with them. And to this day he is known for his dignity of soul, true valour, tolerance, piety, hospitality and forbearance. There are evidences of synthesis of KP culture with ancient Greek, Roman and pre-Islamic Persian culture. Tolerance has been and continues to be the hallmark of KP culture, despite severe pressure to make it contrary.

Buddhism, acclaimed the most tolerant religion/way of life known to the world, came to Kashmir much earlier than Is­lam, neither in the form of political nor religious conquest, as the later did. It only stimulated a new culture and religious resurgence without producing a charm or conflict with the Samatna Dharma. Thus KPs joyfully loaned the ranks of the Buddhist Church and endowed it with new directions, open­ing new Vistas and leading to a new enrichment.

History bears witness that no fewer than 700 KP Brahamin monks crossed the inaccessible mountains and carried the message of Buddha to Tibet, China and Central Asia. As a mature and tolerant race the KPs always upheld freedom of thought and free inquiry and in this background forcible conversion was unknown to KP ethos. The interpenetration and intermingling of Buddhism, Shaivism and Vaishnavism into a reformed form of Hinduism with its fundamentals remaining unchanged has been the sequel of the most tolerant cultural ethos obtaining in Kashmir prior to the coming of Islam. During the Hindu rule there was absolute harmony socio-political plane and the idea of conversion was something unknown and non-existent in the Kashmiiri culture. Hindu places of worship and prayer have never been misused as centers of preaching and propagating intolerance and religious bigotry and hatred to other faiths and creeds nor for inciting and abetting sedition nor as repositories of arms and ammunition, nor for providing secure shelter to sinners and criminals. The scope of their use has ever been confined to purely religious, moral philosophical and literary pursuits. The KP ethos echoes the basic Hindu ethos of equality and co-existence of all religions (Sarve Dharma Sambhavah), of the entire mankind being of but one family, (Vasudaiva Kuthumbakam), of praying for the well being of entire mankind (Sarve Bhadrani Pashyantu), not only for a particular group or community of co-religionists. It has always been a vehicle for transmitting the message of peace, brotherhood and co-existence of all faiths, never contaminated religion by an immoral union with politics. Such an unholy alliance had no place in  the scheme of things as conceptualized by the KPs right from the beginning of their history in the hoary past. And this heritage and outlook they posses even today. With their high profile thinking beyond banal mundane themes they turned Kashmir into a seat of invigorating, illuminating and emancipating intellectual occupation that attracted all in quest of higher values and spiritual exaltation.

The entire socio-political and religious structure of KP society in Kashmir suffered a subversion in the beginning of thirteenth century with the appearance on the scene of severel Muslim ambitious adventurists and upstarts from far off alien lands. Harassed and faced with physical liquidation at the hands of their arch rivals and enemies in their respective countries they fled from there and found of haven of refuge and safety and security in spiritually stable though politically unstable Kashmir. Rinchen a fugitive refugee from Ladakh, Shah Mir forced to flee from Swat for his life and Bulbul Shah from Turkistan were given shelter in Kashmir, abiding by the glorious heritage of extending consideration, compassion and kindness and hospitality to those seeking refuge, irrespective of their beliefs and faith. And in true Kashmiri Pandit tradition they were permitted to practice their faith with full freedom without anybody raising any objection. They found the natives peace loving and unorthodox to fault and a country a propitious ground for their ulterior motives; therefore, they stayed on and enjoyed the generosity and hospitality of the Hindus rulers as well as the common people.

Before long they started preparation for grinding their axe, and began to behave like the proverbial Arabian camel who cunningly occupied the tent by steadily nudging its owner out.

These refugees, feeding fat at the hospitality of the people and building up pockets of influence became ambitious of seizing power and grabbing the throne with a particular design up their sleeves, transforming the entire religious and demographic profile of Kashmir. History bears witness to the glaring fact that they were responsible for creating and shaping condition in Kashmir, which caused intolerable affliction, miseries, torture, persecution, cruelty and pain to the KPs in the name of Allah. The reader experiences convulsions at the cruelties and indignities heaped on the helpless KPs for the holly cause of spread of Islam. This is how they repaid the munificence and benevolence of the Hindu rulers.

Zul Qadir Khan, a Turkish Tartar, leading his savage hordes in tens of thousands looted and plundered and massacred the Hindus and razed the standing crops to ashes, thus spreading death, dissolution and ruination throughout the land for full eight months. The approach of winter, forced him to return. He took with him 50,000 Kashmiri men and women and children as slaves to be sold in Turkishtan. As fate would have it, the barbaric heartless Khan was caugt in a blizzard while traversing the mountainous path 'Devsar Pass' and the entire mass of people perished in cold snow. This place is called as 'BATA SAGAN' (Brahamans death oven).

Jonraj a Kashmiri historian of the time paints a harrowing picture of the havoc and horror struck by Zul Qadir Khan in his spree of massacres that decimated the Kashmir Hindus. The land having been marauded, mangled, thousands died of poverty and starvation as if doom "pralaya" had overwhelmed the country. The carnage turned rivers and brook scarlet and gory with human blood.

Rinchen thought to be Buddhist by faith, received shelter and sustenance and safety under the wings of Ram Chander a KP Commander-in-Chief, whom he betrayed and got killed with a view to pounce upon the throne of Kashmir. Since he was an alien he sought to identify himself with a set of people with a vested interest. Bul Bul Shah, one of them trickily converted Rinchen to Islam under the name of Sader-ud Din. And as the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir and with his converts missionary zeal Rinchen started his campaign for the mass conversion of KPs to Islam with all the brutal vigor and force at his disposal. It was Bul Bul Shah who incited, aided and abetted Rinchen to persecute and tyrannize the resistant Hindus and used all sorts of unfairways and means like compulsion, taxation, unjust law, use of the sword and forcible inter-marriages. Guided by him Rinchen pioneered the path for the later Muslim rulers to depopulate, dominate, degrade and drive KPs out of their ancestral land.

Paradise Lost



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Kashmiri Pandits in Distress

A collection of clips of peace-loving Kashmiri Pandits who were either brutally killed or ethnically cleansed out from their beloved land by the Islamists.

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