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Purushyar Massacre - A tale from Pathan Raj

By Dr. Ramesh Kumar

Buland Khan Bamzai ruled Kashmir in 1763 as Governor of the Kabul government. According to Prof. RK Parimu, the noted historian, he was a man of attractive address. The governor used to take greater interest to serve himself rather than his subjects. One evening, while enjoying a boat-ride in Jehlum, his eyes fell on Mugli. She was the daughter of a milk-man and had irresistible  beauty. The governor desired to make her his wife, soon the nikah was solemnized.

The milkman's neighbour in the Purushyar locality was the family of Atma Ram Pandit. This well-to-do Pandit family dealt in Pashmina wool and arms manufacturing. Atma Ram was grandson of Krishan Pandit and had two uncles--Zai Ram and Nilakanth. Zai Ram led an ascetic life. Nilakanth was blind since birth. His wife, Umrawati (Shoba) committed Sati, when her husband died.

As per Kashmiri custom, a close acquaintance accompanies the bridge to her in-law's house as 'boya' (brother). Atma Ram accompanied Mughli as 'boya'. Soon, he gained entry in Governor's administration.

In those times Pt. Jeevan Sab, a saint of great merit, lived at Rainawari. Pandit Dila Ram Quli and some Ganjoo, both natives of Rainawari, were his disciples. One day, the saint asked them to desire for something. Ganjoo said he should have enough food for seven generations. The family was to acquire big Jagirs subsequently. Dila Ram aspired for 'Hakumat' i.e. an administrative post.

Soon, thereafter, Dila Ram gained entry in Buland Khan's administration. Atma Ram was quite junior to him in the administrative hierarchy. There was serious shortage of cloth. The Governor invited suggestions for settling terms with weavers of Tral. He accepted the suggestion of Atma Ram. Sulking Dila Ram taunted Atma Ram, telling him the Governor was bound to accept his suggestion, because he was 'brother' of Mugli.

Mir Muqim Kanth, a notable, had been killed in a palace intrigue. His family suspected Kailash Dhar of playing foul. During the rule of Amir Khan Jawansher (1770), Muqim's son Mir Fazil Kanth became Chief Secretary. He hatched a conspiracy and succeeded in killing Kailash Dar. Mir Fazil Kanth extended his vengeance to the entire Pandit community. Prof. RK Parimu and Hassan Khuihami have recorded his atrocities at length. Dila Ram Quli had also receded into the background

Dila Ram Quli becomes powerful:

Haji Karim Dad Khan, soon after taking over, eliminated the Kanth family and appointed Dila Ram Quli as Chief Secretary. Karim Dad ruled like a reckless, merciless tyrant. His repressive and oppressive policies alienated the entire populace. When Karimdad fell ill, he asked his son, Azad Khan to take over the reins, without informing Kabul. He was just eighteen.

George Forester, a European Traveller, who visited Kashmir in Azad Khan's reign, describes him as awful, ferocious, bad-tempered. In his cruelties he surpassed even his father. Everyday he would order one or two persons to be killed for no fault.

Dila Ram succeeded, where even Azad Khan's mother and wife had failed. Azad made him Madarul-Miham, the Prime Minister. Dila Ram wielded tremendous influence over Azad Khan and came to be called Dila Ram Quli Khan. Azad Khan's temperamental fits even alienated his faithful servants. Two of his trusted aides--Pahalwan Khan and Maluk Khan hatched up a conspiracy to murder Azad Khan. They won over Izmat Khan, the body guard of Azad Khan. One night, Izmat, fired a shot at Azad Khan but missed the aim. The Governor jumped into Jehlum and escaped to Dila Ram Quli's house at Rainawari.

The conspirators pursued Azad Khan. Their attempts to enter Dila Ram's house failed. Dila Ram suffered minor injuries. The whole night, people of Rainawari witnessed skirmishes between the partisans of Izmat Khan and Azad Khan.

The following morning Azad Khan reached Maisuma. Pahalwan Khan, who failed to counter the state forces, took shelter behind the walls of Sher Garhi. The state forces laid siege to the fort. This continued for a week. Pahalwan Khan was killed and the rebellion crushed.

Dila Ram Quli consolidated his position further. His used this, to settle old scores with Atma Ram Pandit. Dila Ram's wit had outwitted even Timur Shah Durani at Kabul Durbar. He poisoned the ears of Azad Khan and falsely  implicated Atma Ram in the conspiracy to murder Azad Khan.

The tyrant Governor ordered the elimination of the entire clan of Pandit Atma Ram. Azad Khan declared that he would visit the area personally in the afternoon to see if his orders were duly carried out.

Purushyar Massacre:

As Azad Khan's forces arrived, Atma Ram, with son Sudarshan in his lap, was watching from the window of his house. A sympathetic officer signalled him to escape. He, alongwith his son, jumped into the river and took shelter in the house of a milk-man. The state forces butchered the entire clan of Atma Ram, which as per family story, comprised 37 members. When the identification of the dead was carried out, the troops failed to find the body of Atma Ram. This was conveyed to the Governor, who issued orders for burning down the entire locality. This was duly carried out., with dead bodies also perishing in the fire. The Governor asked his staff to make a public announcement that any person who brought Atma Ram dead or alive would be suitably rewarded. The sympathetic milk-man had hid Atma Ram and Sudarshan in his cow-shed.

Atma Ram's close relation, Pandit Manas Razdan, the famous saint of his times, lived across the river in Banamohalla. Their mothers were sisters. Manas Razdan belonged to the family of Bhaskar Razdan, who has  written a commentary on 60 sayings of Lalleswari to Sanskrit verse. Grandson of this great literateur, Manas Razdan was popularly called Razdan Sab. The street, presently called Razdan Kocha is named after him. Subsequently, Manas Razdan migrated to Qiladar, Gujrat (eastern Punjab). The saint owned huge Jagirs across Baramulla and was a 'Darbari' in Azad Khan's reign. Having come to know that Azad Khan had let loose his soldiers to catch his cousin, Atma Ram, Razdan Sab asked his cook to trace whereabouts of Atma Ram. After sometime the cook brought the news that Atma Ram was safe alongwith his son. The latter was kept in hiding by a milkman in his cowshed. He survived milk only.

Six months later Atma Ram passed away. The milkman brought the news to Razdan Sab. The former was scared that if Azad Khan came to know the real story his family would be in serious trouble. Loyal milkman brought Sudarshan to Razdan Sab's house.

A strategy was worked out to dispose off the dead body of Atma Ram. Razdan Sab's house was more like an ashram, where Sadhus from different parts of India came and stayed. Razdan Sab asked one of the sadhus to run away during the night. The body of Atma Ram was stealthily brought to Razdan Sab's ashram. The following morning it was announced that a sadhu had died. Due care was taken to perform the funeral rites as per religious rituals. The subsequent, Kriya Karam (post-cremation rituals) were performed, as per family account, at Budgam, away from the watchful eyes of the tyrant Governor.

Sudarshan was brought up under the care of Razdan Sab and received good education. After few years Juma Khan Alkozai was appointed Governor of Kashmir in 1788. For his just rule and benevolence, Jumma Khan earned lot of popularity. The new Governor was son of the sister of Buland Khan Bamzai, the former Governor.

Upon his nomination as Governor, Juma Khan was asked by Mugli, wife of Buland Khan Bamzai, to trace the whereabouts of her foster brother, Atma Ram Pandit. Dila Ram Quli had functioned as Dewan during the Governorship of Mirdad Khan (1786088). He continued to be top aide to Juma Khan also. As long as Dila Ram remained in command, Sudarshan had every reason to be afraid of the administration. One day, Juma Khan had called a meeting of a prominent citizens (Durbaris). Razdan sab too had been invited. He took Sudarshan along with him. Atma Ram's son disclosed his identity to the Governor and prayed for clemency. On learning that he had been able to fulfill the wish of his maternal aunt by tracing Atma Ram's family,  Governor turned emotional and told Sudarshan that he was nephew of Buland Khan. The Governor informed Sudarshan that his aunt had asked him to help the family of Atma Ram in every way possible. For three years Juma Khan had been trying to locate the family of Atma Ram without any result. Dila Ram had been the villain in frustrating his efforts. Despite the fact the new Governor was popular for his benevolence, Sudarshan was reluctant to present himself before the Governor, presuming that Dila Ram may have poisoned the ears of the new Governor as well.

Sudarshan in his litany told Juma Khan that it was a torturing experience for him to stay in the same city, where his entire clan had been annihilated. Juma Khan appointed Sudarshan as Kardar of Breng Pargana.

Dila Ram beheaded:

Mir Hazar Khan replaced Juma Khan as Governor in 1793. To live under Hazar Khan was a nightmarish experience for Kashmiri Pandits. It was during his reign that Pandits were put in sacks and drowned in Dal Lake (Bata Mazar). Dila Ram Quli, the most powerful and influential Pandit, also met his nemesis. He was publicly beheaded in Khanyar Chowk. His death did not solve problems for Sudarshan. The latter had some problem in settling the accounts of Paddy. So Sudarshan decided to leave alongwith his wife and two sons and sought employment in Raja of Chenani's Durbar.

Soon, Sudarshan emerged as a confidante of the Raja and invited jealousy of his vizier, who was a local. The latter got Sudarshan poisoned to death through a conspiracy. Raja was unaware about the conspiracy and called on Parvati, Sudarshan's wife to express his concern over her plight. She told the Raja, "King's gift is heavy. I cannot take it."

She, alongwith her sons-Shiv Ram and Narayan, however, continued to stay in Chenani.

Parvati belonged to Rawal family of Bidder in Breng region. This family too had to flee its native village during Pathan rule. Some Pathan troops were on patrol duty in Bidder area. A soldier had tried to make advances towards a lady of Rawal family. Like a brave lady, the examples of which are too few, she not only rebuffed the soldier but humiliated him by showing her foot. This was too much for Pathans to stomach. The entire Rawal locality was burnt down. With great difficulty members of Rawal clan managed to save their lives. Since they had nothing to eat, they shifted to Brariangan, the abode of Godess Uma, where ashram langar provided food to the needy round the clock.

Naqashbandi family of Takiya Peer in Breng had lot of murids in present Himachal Pradesh, Utter Pradesh and Jammu region, including Chenani. The Pirs of this family used to visit Chenani every year. Pathan rule was drawing to a close. Parvati decided to return to Kashmir. Through Pirs she contacted Ganesh Das, her brother. The Pir family was to produce two powerful politicians - Nizamuddin Khan, Member of Parliament and Abdul Rashid Vakil, Minister for Power Development.

Gandesh Das Rawal reached Chenani to take his sister and her sons back home. While returning to Kashmir they halted for night at Banihal. Two Pathan soldiers, who were on the run, met them there. Pathan soldiers liked the brown hair of Narayan and asked Parvati, "Iee Shalgam royeahs", telling her to gift her son to them. Parvati decided to play ball with them. She told them since she had to part with her dear son, she would hold him in embrace for the night and then decide in the morning what to do. During the night there was some unusual noise. Pathans thought that the Sikh soldiers had reached Banihal. So they left. Parvati went on to stay with Rawal family at Brariangan. Then begins the second part of the story of the family of Atma Ram Pandit.

Descendants of Atma Ram Pandit

Parvati and her children stayed with Rawal family at Brari Angan. Her brother's wife did not like Parvati's continued stay at her house. Soon she was forced to move out. Parvati got renovated a small dilapidated Paddy hut (Kuth) and shifted her family to it. Her family survived on food prepared in Ashram langar.

Brari Angan, alongwith Gosaingund, Gautam Nag (in Anantnag district) and Gosainteng (Baramulla town), was among the places, where sadhus, on pilgrimage to the holy cave of Lord Amarnath, used to halt for many days. The natural and spiritual ambience of these places appealed to the sadhus.

Narayan Pandit :

One day, an eccentric sadhu created a scene. He had demanded Dal (Cooked Pulses) at the langar but was instead served milk. This infuriated him. He lost his cool and thrashed the langar people with a trident. Since Narayan Pandit, the son of Parvati, knew Hindi well, he was requested by ashram-management to serve as interpreter for the visiting sadhus. This enhanced the prestige of Narayan Pandit. He was soon to catch the attention of one of the great saints Bhol Nath who had attained the power of 'Parkaya Pravaresh’. As the tradition says the people with such powers could turn themselves into lion etc.

This spiritually elevated sadhu used to do his tapasya (offering prayers) at the nearby Sochalmaidan. Narayan Pandit would take milk to him. The saint, impressed by Narayan, asked him to accompany him to Amarnath. It snowed quite heavily during the yatra. The saint offered his Lion-skin to the young Narayan to keep him away from cold injury. Narayan became his disciple and received 'Guru Upadesh'.  Some years later, Kanwar Sher Singh, son of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, was appointed Governor of Kashmir. The previous governor Bahama Singh Ardali, who had taken over Governorship on 5 May, 1831, failed to govern. There was a Shia-Sunni riot, this affected shawl industry. Maharaja Ranjit Singh indicted Bahama Singh for not taking preemptive measures. A leading Kashmiri merchant Mian Samad Joo personally went to the Maharaja to narrate Bahma Singh's callous attitude and indifference during the riots.

Maharaja decided to send his son, Kanwar Sher Singh, who had distinguished himself in the Balakot battle against Syed Ahmad Barelvi, the leader of the Muslim revivalist movement (Wahabi) on 23 May 1831. Sher Singh, the son of Rani Mahtab Kaur, was a cheerful, intelligent, well-bred soldier and popular with the army. The new Governor Kanwar Sher Singh entered Kashmir via Baramulla route in January 1832. He did not have a smooth time initially. During the first winter of his tenure, Kashmir reeled under severe cold. All rivers and lakes were frozen. Many domestic animals and cattle perished. The population suffered due to scarcity of water and fuel. The governor too had his share of suffering. His official residence in Shergarhi fort, Srinagar, caught fire twice. The entire shopping complex in the neighbourhood was engulfed in the flames. Then fire took its toll of Ahlamar locality (Badiyar bala), adjacent to Habbakadal. It destroyed many dwellings and caused immense hardships to their residents. A new diversion-Nav Sarak (Nai Sarak) was created for pedestrians. These incidents have been docum-ented at length by Pandit Birbal Kachru in his chronicle.

Majma-at-Tawarikh:

Auckland papers describe Prince Sher Singh as 'clever and bold', but 'wild and unprincipled'. Traveller GT Vigne speaks of him, as needy  and spend-thrift' and 'cruel and rapacious', while McGregore says the Prince was addicted to "wine and women to an excessive degree" and "a complete drunkard and debauchee". Dewan Wasakha Singh fed this appetite of the prince to remain free to rule independently.

Prince Sher Singh was fond of hunting. The family Guru, a well-learned Pandit and Sh. Ganesh Dhar, a revenue administrator used to accompany him on these hunting jaunts. On one occasion Prince Sher Singh was on a hunting expedition in Kuthar area and camped at Uma Nagri. He did not pay any regard to Mahant Ramanand of Uma Nagri ashram. For some days hunting yielded no dividends. He also had syncope once. After recovering fromt it the  Prince was asked to meet the Mahant. The latter told him he should refrain from hunting in Uma Nagri which was Devi's area, where even the  birds and animals paid obeisance to the Devi. Mahant signalled the Governor to go for hunting in the nearby Shergund area. This proved to be sound advice. The Prince shot down nine shikars one after the other in a single day.

The Prince's Guru and Pt. Ganesh Dhar, Chief of Revenue Administration used to pray regularly at Devibal. It was a daily routine for  Narayan Pandit to go to Devibal to offer prayers to the goddess. Guru on hearing the prayer of Narayan Pandit felt a little amazed. He made enquiries about the identity of Narayan. Parvati, whose family had suffered much political persecution, felt scared. She kept her son in hiding. Finally, she was prevailed upon to produce her son before the Prince's guru. The latter asked him if he was the same person who recited a particular prayer at Devibal in his presence. When Narayan repeated the recitation, the Guru held him in tight embrace, telling him," your and mine guru are the same person (Bhol Nath), so you are my Guru-brother”. The Guru asked Pt. Ganesh Dhar to pay his regards to  Naryan Pandit as he was a great religious scholar. The two asked Narayan about family's economic position. Narayan replied that his family members had come as fugitives from Chenani and made their living on ashram food. This moved the Guru and Pt. Ganesh Dhar. Narayan was introduced to Prince Sher Singh at Uma Nagri. The former was granted huge Jagirs (totalling 240 acres) at Uma Nagri (adjacent to the mahant's land), Halqa Uttarssu, Kreri, Ranipora, Halan, Sherpora, Opassan, Krad, Cheikhgund, Ondo, Trahop, Sonsun, Shangas-Nowgam etc. The rent was exempted, Narayan's family was also kept outside the 'Karbegar' labour. He was asked to collect the patta from Srinagar. Even after the land settlement, carried out by Sir Walter Larence, Narayan Pandit's family continued to be in possession of 100 Khirwars of land. Some of the Jagirs were confiscated by later rulers but later restored.

Narayan Pandit had decided not to marry. His brother Shiv Ram too was a bachelor. It was on the prodding of Mirza Kak, the great Kashmiri saint of Hangalgund that Narayan relented. He married Pt. Sat Ram Pandit's (of Hangalgund) daughter.

Mirza Kak had told Narayan that he will give birth to children who will, be like Gul and Phul (genius and handsome) but Taet Tah Maet (short-tempered and eccentric). Till 31 years of age, Narayan remained issueless. He decided to take his cousin's son Nidhan Rawal in adoption. Subsequently, Narayan's wife gave birth to three sons--Amarchand, Lakshman and Vasudev; Lakshman was taken in adoption by Shiv Ram, Narayan's brother.

Prof. TN Madan's field work:

The village of Brari Angan was to catch attention of the renowned anthropologist, Prof. TN Madan in 1950s. He decided to study the twin villages of Umanagri-Uttersoo for his field work. This anthropologist was so fascinated by these villages and the cooperation extended to him by the local Kashmiri Pandits that he asked one of his students, Urvashi Misri to do a field study on Pandit children and women in the same villages three decades later. Kashmiri Pandits of Brari Angan remember well the two scholars. This landmark study made Prof Madan a great name in Indian Anthropology. This work was later published in 1965 under the title 'Family and Kinship - A Study of the Pandits of Rural Kashmir'. Two more editions of this book came out subsequently. Prof. Madan did his field work in these twin villages between January 1957 and January 1958. References to Prof. Madan and his book are being made in this write-up because the book throws some light on some Pandits, who hail from Atma Ram Pandit's clan.

About this clan, Prof. TN Madan says, "There is one Uma Nagri family which boasts of many Sanskrit scholars (Pandit) and astrologers (Jyotishi) including Narayan Pandit among its ancestors, but today only two of its male members can lay any claim to traditional scholarship". The great Anthropologist calls this clan 'as one of the most respected and rich families of the village'. Pandits of Atma Ram's clan are Banamasis, their Ishta Devi is Jwaladevi of Khrew, while the gotra is Dev Vatse Upamanyu Laugakshi. Their Kulprohit used to be Pt. Jagar Nath Handoo of Srinagar.

Some of the prominent descendants of late Atma Ram Pandit, who achieved excellence in religious and Sanskrit scholarship are:

Lakshman Pandit: Richest person of his time in his area-he was a great philanthropist.

Vasudev Pandit: Son of Narayan Pandit, Vasudev Pandit was well known in Kashmir and in the rest of India for his erudite scholarship in religious studies and social history. He was known better by alias Vasudev Kuthari and was employed by Dogra Durbar as a religious scholar. He was paid hefty sum of Rs 500 per year. He was trained by Pt. Sahib Ram Pandit, the author of Tiratha Samgraha. Another well-known descendant of Pt. Sahib Ram has been Pt. Mahanand pandit, a famed Astrologer and a former President of Priests' Association. Sahib Ram belonged to Pandit clan, known for high scholarship. This group reely intermarried with Karkun class. Sahib Ram's family also trained besides Vasudev, Shankar Pandit and possibly Amarchand also.

Vasudev was very influential. People were scared of him because of his eccentric behaviour. Janki Prasad, a non-Kashmiri was a senior revenue official. A widow asked Vasudev to get a job for her son. Vasudev ignored the normal protocol and just shouted from Prasad's main gate, "Appoint this widow's son as a Tehsildar". The Revenue official  complied with Vasudev's "orders". Such was the writ of Vasudev.

Whenever religious scholars came from outside, Kashmiri scholars would request Vasudev to be their spokesperson in religious discussions. It is said that Vasudev could recite over 60,000 verses from his memory without any fault. Vasudev stayed at the house of Keshav Nath alias Keshav Pulsi in Srinagar. After his demise, Keshav Nath's family asked Vasudev's family to collect many bagloads of manuscripts and books left behind by Vasudev from his Srinagar residence. Unfortunately, the family did not realise the importance of this treasure.

Vasudev was married to sister of Pt. Shiv Nath Soma, who as per one account, was Chief Conservator of Forests of entire J&K. Pt. Shiv Nath, a resident of Rainawari, who later settled in Jammu, became a legend for his outstanding qualities. Vasudev left behind a daughter married in Kissu family and a son Maheshwar  Nath. Pt. Shiv Nath Soma wanted his nephew to be a contractor but Maheshwar Nath was a man of simple disposition. He was just a matriculate but knew English very well. Through his maternal uncle he was employed as a forester and reached to the rank of  Ranger. In his times he was one of the few persons who used to read national English dailies. Pt. Maheshwar Nath after his marriage shifted to his in-law's village, Levdora, Qazigund. Maheshwar Nath's wife, the only daughter of her parents was an intelligent lady. Maheshwar Nath's exemplary honesty and truthfulness in discharging his official duties made him renowned. Some of the incidents are being recalled here. Once, he imposed fine of Rs 5/- on his wife for bringing a wooden mortar (Muhul) illegally from the forest. On another occasion he attended a dinner at the nearby village of Nowgam. After the dinner was over, Pt. Maheshwar Nath asked his hosts, "where from did you get the wood of the ceiling roof? You would have to pay fine for it". Once during a drought he had some dispute with his tenants, Pt. Maheshwar Nath had inherited share of 350 kanals of land. Due to Kargili traders, price of Maize had shot up to Rs 50-60 per Khirwar. Tenants expressed their inability to pay this price. Finally, Prem Nath Pandit, Sarpanch of the village and a kin of Pt. Maheshwar Nath, intervened in the dispute to settle mutually acceptable terms. He settled Rs. 35 per Khirwar to be paid to Pt. Maheshwar Nath. This was accepted by the tenants. But Pt. Moshar Nath told the tenants that he would not accept a penny more than the officially fixed price of Rs 8 per Khirwar. This put Sarpanch in quandry, tenants felt that the former had played fraud on them. Maheshwar Nath also confiscated a charcoal-laden boat, meant for his superior, a DFO.

Maheshwar Nath had three sons - Niranjan Nath, Kedar Nath, Mohan Lal besides a daughter. Niranjan Nath and Kedar Nath achieved eminence in the field of journalism and were associated with Times of India and Indian Express respectively. Kedar Nath was a poet too. Niranjan Nath was the first BA from Atma Ram's clan. Late Kedar Nath's son, Pawan too is a journalist with Hindustan Times in New Delhi. A few years back he was staff correspondent of Indian Express in Jammu.

Vishn Pandit: He was the eldest son of Lakshman Pandit. He was a high level forest official. He used to read national English and vernacular dailies regularly. As per family sources, Vishn Pandit had authored seven manuscripts which remained unpublished.

Shankar Pandit : He was the son of Nidhan Pandit (originally Rawal). Shankar was a Vedanti scholar, who trained many Kashmiris in Vedic scholarship. He often engaged in religious discussions with learned Pandits of Benaras and excelled over them. It was his wish to pass his last days at Haridwar and passed away there.

Prem Nath Pandit: He was son of Lakshman Pandit. He was classmate of leading political personalities - Mirza Afzal Beg, Pt. Shiv Naraina Fotedhar and Pt. Kashyap Bandhu, Saifuddin Ghani (DIG Police). He was a first division holder in Matric. Better known as Prem Nath Kuthari, he along with his brother Sham Sunder remained Yuvak Sabha Presidents, Kuthar area for a long-time.

Sarvanand Pandit: He was son of Prasad Pandit and grandson of Lakhyman Pandit. He was born in 1906. He was one of the five members of 'convoy' of Prof. TN Madan. Because of dedication of these five people, the Mahant of Uma Nagri with his sense of repartee used to say: "They gave up their homes and wives and lost their night's sleep for his (Madan's) sake'. He also nicknamed them as 'convoy' because they used to move about in the village together with Prof. Madan.

Sarvanand died as a bachelor. He lived off his land. He had his education at the local school and was for some time at the Technical (art) school in Srinagar. Sarwanand was a shy person and never wore turban or a pheran- in his life.

Prof. Madan in a rare tribute describes Sarwanand as a "my" and said, "I think I met rara avis in him." He sums up many traits of Sarwanand as 'man of orthodox views and well-informed about the Sanskritic tradition', 'most unorthodox in his appearance', 'intelligent with natural gift of an amazingly prodigious memory', 'a shy lonely person who had a raw deal in his life', 'has an irrepressible but healthy curiosity about, social happenings in the village and great sense of humour. He once in Prof. Madan's presence surprised a fellow villager by showing greater knowledge of the latter's genealogy than the latter himself possessed.

Sarwanand was a walking encyclopedia, who could recall at a minute's notice the 200-year old history of Uma Nagri and the origins of the different Pandit clans of the village. As per Prof. Madan, he had even kept a written record of some particularly notable events in the village during his lifetime.

For Prof Madan's fieldwork, Pt. Sarwanand remained a key informant. He admits that his book has quoted more often from Pt. Sarwanand's statements than from anybody else's, with the possible exception of Bishamber Nath Koul. In Prof. Madan's work Pt. Sarwanand found an outlet for his passion for ethnography. He acknowledges his contribution by recording, "I had found in him the key informant that the ethnographer invariably seeks and cultivates. The opposition between the public and the private, the general and the particular, got resolved in his person. He was a source of information about the private and appreciated the legitimacy of making it public".

About Pt. Sarwanand's interest, bordering on obssession, into prying into other people's domestic affairs, Prof. Madan has an explanation: 'Denied the opportunity of involvement in intimate relationships and events, he had developed an interest in them generally."

Srikanth Pandit: He was the youngest member of Prof. Madan's 'convoy'. Srikanth is son of Pt. Raghav Ram and grandson of Pt. Amarchand. Like his father, Srikanth too practised astrology. He retired as village Post-Master . A religious minded person, Srikanth had learnt Sanskritic tradition from his father. Prof. Madan praises his traits - being affectionate and informal. Pt. Srikanth lives as a refugee in Swarn Vihar locality of Jammu.

Ram Nath Pandit: He is son of Pt. Tarachand and grandson of Lakshman Pandit. He dropped out in F. Sc but retains good knowledge of languages including English. He  depended for living on his land. Like his cousin Pt. Sarwanand, Pt. Ram Nath too is well versed in religious scriptures and social history of Kashmiri Pandits. The way he reels out the information about the social history of the Pandit community is truly amazing. He has his own classification of Kauls, Razdans, and the Priestly class. It is through him we can visualise what sort of great scholar Sarwanand might have been. He has diligently preserved the history and the genealogy of his clan.  This author was even provided the name of Mugli's father-Musa Moghlu (which was inadvertently omitted in the first portion of this essay). However, in my opinion Moghlu might have been a boatman, rather than a Goor (milkman). Shri Ram Nath's equally illustrious son and the author's friend, Sh. Satish Mohan Pandit holds Masters degree  in English literature, besides the degrees in education and journalism. It was through Satish's efforts that the author was able to harvest the friendship for procuring the clan story to preserve it for posterity.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

Kashmir History and Politics

Massacres

 

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