July - September 2001
Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India
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(Review by J. L. Manwati)
History is witness to the fact that Kashmiri Pandits have had to leave their native place - Kashmir, intermittently right from the 18th century, mostly under religious persecution and at times for bettering their avocational prospects. Often, their destinations centered around the seats of power of the times, like Lucknow, Lahore, Allahabad or Delhi etc. In Lucknow they clustered at a place which later became famous as Kashmiri Mohalla.
Wherever these fleeting Kashmiri Pandits settled, they left indelible marks on the sand of the Times and brought repute to the place of their new settlement through their noble character, dedication, honesty, patriotism and hard work. These places have, over the times cradled many a savant scholars, legal luminaries, serious social reformers, astute administrators, serene spiritualists, enterprising entrepreneurs and assiduous army officers of Pandit descent.
Dr. Vaikunth Nath Sharga has in his book ' ' - The Precious Jewels of Kashmiri Pandits, has sketched lives of Twenty (20) such prominent Pandit personalities, graphed their genealogy and illustrated their achievements in their respective fields and who have thus carved an eternal place in the firmament of the Kashmiri canvas.
In the present day diaspora of our community this book would not only give our posterity an insight into our rich lineage, but also make them proud of their great ancestors.
Imagine, how many of us know
that it was Pandit Daya Shankar Kaul 'Naseem'; (in the court of Amjad Ali
Shah 1842-1847) a revered poet, known for his acuity and ready-wit, who
when quizzed by Shaikh Nasidh, an established poet of the Time, to
complete a couplet - the first line of which ran like this:
The book is a Tribute to the stupendous work of Dr. V. N. Sharga which shall make every Kashmir Pandit proud of the pedigree he belongs to. This book should find place in all the Kashmiri Pandits homes like our Almanac (Panchang). [[
2. Vitasta Annual ' No. 2001
(Review by J. L. Manwati)
Almost all Kashmiri Pandit Associations, Samitis or Sabhas in the country publish their News letters, periodicals, tabloids or magazines and all these publications have been given names which bear some semblance with the land of their origin - Kashmir. But the very name "Vitasta" - the publication of the Kashmiri Sabha - Kolkata reminds one of the sublimity of genetic flow of the sacred river which runs through our beloved motherland in whose adoration our ancestors have sung :
"You pass through the country
of Kashmir - the abode of blessings, free from all calamities.
The Annual Number of Vitasta is always eagerly looked forward to because like the flow of 'Vitasta', its contents benefits us all. The 34th Annual Number - 2001 was dedicated to those who have contributed to the development and growth of Kashmiri language and towards its preservation as mother-tongue.
The Editorial Board having decided upon the theme of mother tongue, has taken upon itself the most important issue which prospectively concerns the very identity of Kashmiri Pandits. It is sad that our Mother-Tongue is fast relapsing into oblivion from our homes. With clear perception, the Board for this purpose has divided the 'Theme' into four relevant segments viz; Origin, Advances, Threats and Thrusts.
It must have been taxing task for the Board to identify the contemporary writers who could contribute to the Annual Number; determine the works of scholars who have in their life times enriched our literary stock and finally to call out extracts from their works making it a compendium publication worthy of a place on the book shelves of every Kashmiri Pandit. Kudos to Dr. B. K. Moza and his Team.
The Annual Number has many comprehensive articles on the origin of our language; valuable articles of our celebrated writers, who are no longer with us now, and elaborate essays of the present day renowned scholars who are concerned about the preservation of our mother tongue. But, sadly, no writer has come out with concrete suggestions to preserve our language, particularly in the present day diaspora of our community.
It should have been the duty of the AIKS - the apex body of our community to realise the exigency of the problem facing the community and the Samaj should have convened meetings and seminars on All India level and devised a charter for the preservation of our mother tongue, before even the residual spoken language is snuffed out from our Homes and Hearths.
3. Let's Learn Kashmiri
(Review by P. N. Wali)
The urge in the community that our youngsters must learn Kashmiri appears to be gaining ground. While the step taken by the Lalla-Ded Educational and Welfare Trust and the Kashmiri Pandits' Association to publish a guide to learning Kashmiri the Devanagari way has been well received, there are efforts being made by many others in this direction in their own way. One of them is a book "Let's Learn Kashmiri" by Omkar Wakhlu and Bharat Wakhlu, a genuine attempt to help those youngsters to learn Kashmiri language, who find it convenient to take Roman Script as the base.
I am not sure whether it is a Primer for the beginner or support to one who has already begun. For really learning a language, more so, Kashmiri, you have to go through a lot of material to practice its speaking. Unfortunately not much published material is available particularly in the Roman script. There is comparatively more material available in the Devanagari script. If such material was available M/s Wakhlu's book could be a great help in reading and repeating such material in Kashmiri. Even then this is a good work which may be quite useful to those who are accustomed to the Roman script only, like the Kashmiri Pandits' living abroad. It could also be useful when a person is learning to speak Kashmiri from other person and reinforce such learning with material from this book.
I am sure that efforts like
that made by M/s Wakhlus will be a step towards our aim of making Kashmiri
learn their language.