July - September 2001
Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India
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Kyazi Ravihey Kahan Gaav
by Makhan Lal Kaul,
Many Seers, Sages and Spiritual Gurus, having any faith, were once born in the holy land of Kashmir, from time to time. We have heard of many such personalities of the past and you can find many of them there in the present times too. All the people of Kashmir, to whatsoever faith or religion they belong to, had great reverence for such noble souls alike.
Many years ago, such a great soul, in the garb of Mata Lalleshwari was born, who was and is being revered by all the people of Kashmir in general and Pandits in particular. She had Trikal Drishti and could foresee the things. To forewarn the people of that time, she might have spoken the words Sariy Samahav Akisay Razi Lamahav Teli Kyazi Ravihey Kahan Gaav advising in her humble way, the people to unite and have faith in the leadership of one person. May be during her life time also, the people of her community were disintegrated. This must have caused the invasion of Pathans into the holy land of Kashmir and was ruled over by them for centuries. They strengthened their foothold in Kashmir through their might. Before the invasion of Pathans, whole of Kashmir was inhabited by the learned Hindus, known as Rishis, that is why it was nicknamed as Reshiwar. We are ourselves to be blamed to encourage the spread of Islam in this Reshiwar due to our own lapses of which history speaks volumes. The Muslim rulers starting converting the Kashmiri Brahmins to Islam. It was forcible conversion. Brahmins had only three options left open to them viz Ralun, Galun or Tsalun (get converted or be prepared to meet the icy death or leave your homes and hearths). It is said that during the course of time, only eleven families of Pandits were left in the whole Valley. Even now, you hear people say "Kyasa, Kasheeri Roodi Kahay Garah ?".
History speaks that with the help of Sikh rulers of Punjab, Kashmir was recaptured by them. The Kashmiri Pandits, who have migrated, returned to their homes and the people who were forcibly converted to Islam wished to get themselves reconverted. Here again out Netas (Pandits) were disintegrated and they did not allow them to get reconverted. Present suffering of our community is all due to their vengeance, which is clear from the fact that many of our surnames are common.
Well, this theory of Ralun, Galun and Tsalun was repeated in the year 1989-90 and there was a mass exodus of our community members from Kashmir, mostly to Jammu and other parts of the country. The people of other community knew that we have no leader of name and fame, having any force to lead us. They were aware that whole of our community was disintegrated. They took the advantage of infighting of our Netas, who were pulling the legs of one another.
During my younger days, the name of some of the social reformers cum leaders like Swargwasis Pandit Surajkak Mattoo, Pandit Jialal Kilam, Pandit Kashyap Bandhu, Pandit Shivnarayan Fotedar, Pandit Gopi Krishen etc were heard of. All of them in my opinion, were honest to serve and remove the evils prevailing in our community. They tried to collect the people on one platform. The leaders of other communities started misleading us and we started disintegrating. Members of one group started accusing the leadership of the other one. People in general, having no affinity with any group, were heard of commenting "Hey Batta hasa gav dai Congressi, tamis chha kansi peth pachh". This gave rise to a new leadership of younger generation which in the earlier stages did work.
I think, we were united only once during the agitation of " Parmeshwari Handoo" episode. I did not witness this as I migrated to Mumbai (then Bombay) in early 1948. As it was narrated to me, I could not but appreciate the way agitation was launched. How in a fraction of an hour, meetings were arranged and the big gathering of members of our community, both young and old, in particular ladies were found attending the same in big numbers. We in Mumbai collected over a lac of rupees in a single day from our Biradari as a humble contribution for the great cause. I was told that the Late Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah had remarked that had he the backing of such a band of workers behind him, he would have achieved his goal long ago. May be, this statement of his might have been taken seriously by his people, which generated a feeling amongst the other community and gave rise to present day militancy in the state, of which our community has become a prey. As usual, this uprising in our community did not last long because of some selfish and interested so called Netas, of our community, having say in the government circles, both in the State and the Centre. The bloodshed and the sacrifice of many young lives did not bring the desired fruit. Why? For want of leadership, for which we are suffering even now.
The main aim before all the leaders, if at all they are sincere, is to serve the people and sail the broken ship of community ashore, from the troubled waters. Agreed, the approach may differ from person to person, but sincerity of the cause should be observed. We should not get lost or diluted and become prey of black sheep, of which there is no dearth in our community, for their selfish interests. Though we have lost much because of our disintegration, but there is still time for all of us to think with a cool head and rise to the occasion, unite and meet on one Platform, under one Banner and Leadership. "United we stand and win and divided we lose and fall". Team work always pays, may it be a playground, a battlefield, common cause of the community or to run a household.
I am reminded of a story that our father used to narrate to us when we were young and the same is reproduced as under, (to the extent I remember):
Once upon a time there was
grave famine in a village and the people had nothing left, that they could
fall back upon. Many people started migrating to other places for their
survival. Amongst them was also a family consisting of four sons and the
parents. They reached a place in the evening and camped under a tree. A
pair of parrots were perched on one of the branches of the same tree, who
were watching the movements of the members of the family, under the direction
of the parents.
On seeing this the two birds (parrots laughed and talked to themselves, in their own language known as Shathbool in Kashmiri, which the head of the family could understand) that "they have made all arrangements for cooking but what are they going to cook, they have no stock of cereals with them". The father heard this and replied, "It is true that we have no cereals with us, but I plan to kill you both, cook and eat you to subside our hunger to some extent". On hearing this the two birds were afraid. They thought to themselves that because of the cooperation of the brothers and faith in the leadership of their father it would not be difficult for them (the members of the family) to kill them (the two birds). They told the father of the family, if they (birds) gave him (father) some clue to unearth a huge treasure, would he (father) still kill them (the birds). The father replied in negative and the birds gave him the necessary clue. They unearthed the treasure and went back to their home with all the riches and lived happily in the village thereafter.
On their return, the news spread like wild fire and the cousins of the family also heard about the whole story. They also decided to move out of the village and go under the same tree where the same pair of parrots were perched on one of the branches. The head of the family told the eldest son to make choola to which he argued that he was tired, moreover what was the use of making a choola when they had nothing to cook. In short all the sons of the family started arguing with their father, disrespected him and indirectly expressed that their father was a fool to give them such directions. Anyhow after long persuasion by their father, the sons grudgingly did what they were told. The birds again talked amongst themselves as to what they were going to cook. To this the father told them that he was going to kill them for their meals. The birds (who were none other than Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati) laughed ironically and told the father that it was only within the powers of the previous family to kill them because of their cooperation, respect for their father and faith in his leadership, which was lacking in this family. With these words the birds flew away.
With these humble words of mine, I wish to bring home to the members of our community and remind our leaders of the time, that it is the teamwork and unity alone which has strength. We should unite and meet on one platform and struggle against injustice and disparity shown to our community. History is witness to it that infighting alone has brought down many kingdoms and also made us slaves for centuries and we were able to free ourselves only with united struggle and unity amongst Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. We were taught then that Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isaai, Hai aapas mein Bhai Bhai". With this feeling in our minds we achieved our goal of "freedom". Here again the British were so cunning that while leaving India they divided us on the basis of religion, which our neighbouring country doesn't understand.
Ours is a microscopic community. We should stop infighting. Meet on one platform, without any ego, under one leadership and keeping in mind the words of our Mata Lalla-Ded
"Sariy Samahav Akisay Razi Lamahav
Sense of the verse :
Had we all collected,
All of us recite these words with devotion but the main point is, how many of us put this to practice. It is said "Kathani se karni Bhali". I close this with the request that all my brethren will give my views a cool thought and share their views with me. It is rightly said, "Let the dead past, bury it, it is dead. Act in the living present, heart within and God overhead".
"Aasto maa sadgamaya,
Let us all pray to Him to
lead us on the right path of spirituality and truth in their right sense.
Lead us to light from Darkness and unite with HIM after death.