and our Identity
by Dr. B. N. Sharga
At the outset, I would like to frankly
admit that I am not competent enough to write with an authority on this
highly emotional and sensitive issue, so under these circumstances I will
only try to express my views on this subject on the basis of the information
which I have collected from different sources over the years in connection
with my exhaustive research work on Kashmiriology vis-a-vis the Kashmiri Pandits.
As we all know that the language
is basically a medium of expression to communicate between one another.
Its growth and development naturally depends upon the availability of its
literature for which the existence of a proper script is a must to write
down your feelings and thoughts for future generations. But the most unfortunate
part of this whole story is that the Kashmiri language is only a spoken
language and uptill now has no standard and well recognised script of its
own, with the result that this language has not been able to acquire that
status and position which the other regional languages generally enjoy
in our country although some sincere efforts have been made by the lovers
of this language from time to time to give this language its due status
by promoting it at different levels.
It is really most unfortunate
that there is no authentic record about the origin and evolution of the
Kashmiri language in the Kashmir Valley which still requires an exhaustive
research work by the competent scholars on this subject as there are divergent
views on the evolution of this language in the Valley.
It is generally believed
that during the Hindu period in Kashmir which lasted upto 1337 A.D. Sanskrit
used to be the language of Kashmir which was gradually and subsequently
replaced by the Persian language during the Muslim rule in Kashmir. But
some research scholars consider the birch manuscript of 'Manimata Manimala'
to be the most ancient script of Kashmir whereas others consider the Sharada
script of Bakshali, which was first of all discovered in the Bakshali village
in North Western Frontier Province now in Pakistan, to be the oldest known
script of Kashmir.
Now according to Professor
Ahmad Hasan Dani, a noted epigraphist and archeologist of Pakistan, who
read his research paper recently in the 61st session of the Indian History
Congress held in Kolkata, a stone was discovered in Afghanistan near Mazare
Sharif bearing a clear cut inscription in Sharada script describing the
construction of a Shiva Temple in that region during the rule of Hindu
Shahi King Vaku in the 10th century. But with the passage of time, Sharada,
Pali and Brahmi scripts of Kashmir became extinct.
In our country, every region
has its own language which is taught in schools and colleges and is the
medium of instruction in those states like Bengali in West Bengal, Gujrati
in Gujrat, Marathi in Maharashtra, Tamil in Tamil Nadu, Telgu in Andhra
Pradesh and so on and so forth, but the only exception is the Kashmiri
language which is neither taught nor is the medium of instruction in the
schools and colleges in the Jammu & Kashmir state. In its place, the
medium of instruction in Jammu & Kashmir in schools and colleges is
Urdu, which really sounds something very strange. The state government
has done practically nothing uptill now to promote this language there,
although the Chief Minister Dr. Farooq Abdullah has promised recently that
he would do some thing worthwhile in this regard soon.
No sincere effort has so
far been made by anybody at any level to evolve a standard script to write
the Kashmiri language properly, which is necessary for its rapid growth
and development. The Kashmiri language used to be written in the 'Nastalikh'
script in Kashmir in the past. Now Kashmiri Hindus have adopted the 'Devnagri'
script to express themselves, but still there are many shortcomings in
the script as a slight change in the pronounciation of a particular word
changes its meaning altogether. There is no primer to teach this language
to a learner who is interested to learn the language.
About two years back, Dr.
B. K. Moza of Kolkata took some initiative to evolve a standard script
acceptable to all for writing the Kashmiri language but in spite of his
best efforts, the response from the community members was not very encouraging
with the result that he was left with no other option but to shelve his
plans to promote this language for want of proper support.
In Lucknow, on the initiative of Pt. Maharaj Krishan Kaw, the education
secretary of the government of India, the classes for teaching the Kashmiri
language were started last year under the able supervision of Mrs. Lata
Kak in Bappa Srinarain Vocational Post Graduate College, but due to non-availability
of proper books to teach this language methodically, the whole scheme had
to be shelved with a heavy heart. It has been learnt from very reliable
sources quite recently that Dr. O. N. wakhlu and his son Mr. Bharat Wakhlu,
after doing a lot of research work have developed a Roman script for writing
the Kashmiri language and have also published some primary books for learning
this language quickly without any difficulty. It is a good beginning and
it is hoped that the efforts of these people would bear fruit in the near
Then there are people who
corelate the language with culture without knowing the fact that culture
always changes with the times. Though my grand father was a judge in the
British period and his elder brother went to England to study Law there
at the Lincon's Inn, but he used to sit on a 'Takht' with a 'Masnad' and
a 'Gaotakia' and he used to take the meals cooked by a Kashmiri Pandit
cook and that too sitting on a wooden plank in the kitchen wearing a 'Dhoti'.
Now under the present set up, how many Kashmiri Pandits will be ready to
do the same thing. Is the culture of England the same today what it was
during the Victorian era? The answer is a big no, simply because change
is the law of nature.
The Kashmiri Pandits who
came out from the Kashmir Valley in the late 18th century and in the beginning
of the 19th century and settled down in different regions of north India
lost track of their mother tongue and subsequently became well versed in
the languages of those regions simply for their growth and development
under those special circumstances in which they were forced to live for
their survival. They achieved very high positions in the society because
of their merit and integrity but all through these 300 years, they tried
their level best to preserve their distinct cultural identity by religiously
sticking to certain values and by maintaining the purity of their Aryan
blood. The concept of an intercast marriage was beyond the imagination
of any member of the community at that time. A Kashmiri Pandit used to
be identified by his features and complexion in the crowd even without
uttering a single word. What is the position today? Many Kashmiri Pandits
due to intercast marriages and intermixing of different bloods do not look
like Kashmiri Pandits at all and have no traits which the Kashmiri Pandit
By giving emphasis to the
Kashmiri language alone will not solve our purpose to maintain our distinct
cultural identity unless sincere and effective steps are not taken to curb
the alarming rise in the number of intercast marriages in our community
which is actually responsible to a great extent for the fast disintegration
of our microscopic community. If this trend is not checked in time, then
nobody will be able to stop our community from becoming extinct in the
The modern scientific researches
in the field of genetic engineering have proved conclusively that genes
play a vital role in determining the basic characteristics of a human being.
So for maintaining our basic characteristics intact, it is necessary that
we should give due importance to preserve the purity of our Aryan blood
and avoid mixing of the genes of other races and communities into our veins.
Actually these are the basics which really matter in preserving our identity
and not the environment and other things. If our boys and girls continue
to marry in other communities at a fast rate in the name of projecting
themselves as most ultra modern, then the very purpose of this exercise
will have no meaning. It will be like crying all alone in wilderness. Then
we will naturally become a laughing stock for others. A well chalked out
action plan is the need of the hour. The following lines composed by the
well known Urdu poet of Lucknow, Pt. Brij Narain Chakbast long time back,
are still relevant today in this respect and convey the same underlying
message to the community members: