Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India

Milchar

Lalla-Ded Educational and Welfare Trust

  Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India

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Milchar
October-December 2002 issue

House Boats on Dal Lake in Srinagar

House Boats on Dal Lake in Srinagar. Credit for introducing House Boats in Kashmir goes to Pt. Narain Das, father of Swami Laxman ji.

Table of Contents

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

  From the Pages of History
Fanaticism Not Hereditary
... J.N.Kachroo

J.N.KachrooHindu rule in Kashmir came to an end when Shah Mir captured the throne in 1339. He assumed the name of Sultan Shamas-ud-Din and founded the Sultan Dynasty, which ruled the Valley for 222 years.

Sultan Sikander (1389-1413) was the most infamous of the Sultans. He was the most intolerant, biggoted and a religious fanatic. Because of his policy of religious persecution, there was a large scale migration of Hindus, besides conversion. He earned the nickname of Butshikan, the iconoclast, for resorting to the destruction of temples and images (idols) of Hindu gods. Ironically, both his father Qutub-ud-Din (1373-1389) and his son, the illustrious Zain-ul-Abdin (1420-1470) were not only free from religious fanaticism but visibly liberal and just.

Liberalism of Qutub-ud-Din:
Famines were, unfortunately, of regular occurence in Kashmir during the reign of Qutb-ud-Din. Often the severity of the scarcity of food grains was, as always, felt in the months of June and July. The King resorted to a novel practice of not only helping his depressed subjects divert their attention from a constant anxiety of want but also providing them with opportunities of sharing the stocks of grains stored by the more fortunate. During these months of scarcity, the King, his ministers, nobles and the affluent used to perform 'Yagnyas' and distribute cooked food amongst the starving population irrespective of their faith.

Qutub-ud-Din allowed continuance of Hindu dress, manners, customs among the converts to Islam. His participation in and encouragement to the performance of Yagnyas, though for a humanistic objective only, shows his religious tolerance and a deep sense of humanism.

The Sultan and his Muslim subjects used to visit a temple in Alau-ud-Din Pura every morning. Qutub-ud-Din had two wives who were sisters. This is not permissible under Muslim law. These non-orthodox practices did not appeal to Sayyid Ali Hamdani, who exhorted the King to divorce one of them and remarry the other according to the tenets of Islam. He advised him to change his dress. Inspite of the fact that the King held the saint in high esteem, he did not accept his advice.

Zain-ul-Abdin's Justice
Zain-ul-Abdin firmly believed that the primary responsibility of the state was justice, equality and economic prosperity. He was not only just but believed in being seen as just. He possessed an uncanny sense of solving crimes. Zain ul Abdin was visibly impartial particularly in sensitive matters of Hindu-Muslim relations. The following episodes (cases) illustrate these claims:-

Instinctive Justice
Zain-ul-Abdin (1420-1470) was not only a far-sighted, impartial, able administrator and a reformer, but he exhibited tremendous religious tolerance and possessed a keen sense of justice, often not guided by any recorded book of law. Here is an example of how he administered justice even when there was no evidence:

There lived a Brahmin in Kamraj, the lake district. Once he lost a cow which he could not find for a long time, despite sustained efforts. He lost all hopes. After four years, one day he accidently found it with a resident of Maraj (dry district). The Brahmin claimed the cow but the other man would not agree.

The Brahmin sought justice from various officials, but failed to establish his claim. Ultimately, he approached the King and petitioned for justice. The King did not dismiss the plea of the Brahmin.

Zain-ul-Abdin summoned the alleged thief to his presence and asked him to answer the Brahmin's charge. The man denied the charge and said that the cow belonged to him and was with him ever since its birth. But the Brahmin insisted. In order to test the veracity of the accusation, the King threw some green waternuts before the cow and its calf. The cow ate all of them with relish while the calf after some snifs turned its head from them. This clearly proved that the cow while with the Brahmin was accustomed to eating waternuts, a product of the Wular Lake whereas the calf which had been brought up in Maraj district, was totally unaccustomed to this sort of food. The King gave his verdict after the thief had confessed his crime. The cow along with the calf was restored to the rightful owner and the thief was suitably punished.

Uncommon Judgement
A holy ascetic from Mecca - a Saiyyid, became jealous of a Hindu sadhu because of the latter's proximity to Sultan Zain-ul-Abdin and consequent royal patronage he would receive. In a fit of jealousy, the Saiyyid killed the sadhu. The matter was naturally taken to the Sultan, the fountainhead of justice. He consulted prominent moulvis and pundits. They all agreed that the only legitimate retribution was death. The Saiyyid commanded respect for being from the Prophet's family. Sultan's decision could have political fallout. Yet Sultan would not let go the Saiyyid unpunished. Instead of killing the man, he decided to kill his reputation.

He ordered that the Saiyyid be seated on a donkey, facing the tail, his head shaved and long beard soaked in dirt, and paraded through the streets.

It is claimed that the Saiyyid was never seen in that kingdom thereafter. Any lessons for the present!!
 
 

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