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Indigenous Rishis vs Sayyid-Sufis from Central Asia

Differentiations and Contradictions

By Prof. Mohan Lal Koul

"The guardians of the shrines, living easily with marvels, said the mosque had been built by Mohammad Bin Qasim who had conquered Sindh in 710 A.D. & that the tree was also from that time it would have been a tree Mohammad Bin Qasim knew. The tree might not have been as old as that; and the mosque was certainly later. But the mosque had been given the Mohammad Bin Qasim association to celebrate the conquest-the faithful no longer saw themselves as the conquered--also claim the ancient site for the new faith."

‘Islam in its origins is an Arab religion. Everyone not an Arab who is a Muslim is a convert. Islam is not simply a matter of conscience or private belief. It makes imperial demands. A convert's world-view alters. His holy places are in Arab lands, his sacred language is Arabic. His idea of history alters. He rejects his own; he becomes whether he likes it or not a part of the Arab story. The convert has to turn away from everything that is his."           

- V.S. Naipaul, a Nobel Prize Laureate from Prologue to Beyond Belief

Deeply embedded in the rural ambience of Kashmir Nund Rishi, a first generation convert of Rajput origins from Kishtwar, can be characterised as the saviour of peasant masses in the wake of their conversion to the Islamic faith through ‘Qahran va Jabran’ as history frankly told in the Baharistan-i-Shahi, a Muslim chronicle in Persian. Inspired by ‘old inheritance’ and ‘indigenous culture model’, he in a saint-like humility placed himself in the uninterrupted line of rishis thereby aligning himself with the entire repertoire of rishi tradition rooted in the vedic age. The Sayyid-sufis as fugitives from Central Asia operating under the protective shield of the Muslim state power brought about the destruction and forcible occupation of the hermitages (ashramas) radiating the light of humanitarian spirituality. As evidenced by the Neelmatpuran, such hermitages set up within the locales of secluded spots were littered over the entire picturesque landscape of the Valley of Kashmir. The present day ziarats or astans (asthapans) of rishis were the same old hermitages that were cruelly destructed and then used for installation of graves or samadhis of the rishis who in the apt and pithiful words of Abul Fazl formed a specific cult within the matrix of Hinduism. Islam in Kashmir was just sixty year old when Nund Rishi emerged on the scene to assert the native roots and ethos which were under onslaught from the Central Asian Sayyid-Sufis and Ulemas.

The whole lot of Sayyid-Sufis and other theologians were wedded to mundane politics and were fully conversant with the role and importance of political power to weed out infidelity as a pre-requisite to expand the space for Islam. As an expression of their religious culture they were extremely uncharitable in condemning the natives as ‘kafirs’ and their religious practices and customs as ‘heretical’. Shariat (Islamic law and precedent), to them, was the light-house and Persian, their native language, was the store-house of all knowledge. Having a deep streak of hubris and arrogance in their personal culture they openly spurned the natives of all shades as ‘wretched people’ given to polytheistic, animistic and other pagan practices. As they had no smattering in the local dialect they could not have close rapport or inter-action with the natives with a view to transforming their pagan behaviour for a new baptisation. Yet they created a critical situation for the natives through cynical rejection of indigenous belief systems, traditions and mythic lore without filling in the empty space thus created by an alternate culture model, which is the product of generations of value accumulation. In view of resistance from the sub-jugated natives they made lot many compromises which despite their orthodoxy could not be termed as truly Islamic in content and spirit. Prayers as per the Islamic way were not digested as spiritually elevating and the Sayyid-Sufis and Ulemas meekly gave in to allow the Hindu manner of hymn-singing (kirtan) though with a changed content of alien origins. Over-awed by the sweep and vast range of indigenous social codes and axiologies the Sayyid-Sufis in a steep climb-down introduced Hanafi brand of jurisprudence for the natives lest they should slip out of the tenuous Islamic fold to their birth religion which appeared to them more liberal than the new imposition. Stuck to orthodox religiosity they were the least spiritual and their concepts and precepts about spiritual goals and trajectories were dim, feeble and blurred. Many an eminent sociologist has termed conversions in Kashmir as anything but spiritual for the converted lot, termed as ‘statistical Muslims’ never abandoned their Buddhist-cum-Hindu practices, customs, attitudes and value systems.

As a prescient representative of native roots, ethos and milieu Nund Rishi spear-headed a rishi cult, purely spiritual in content and perception, to revive and reinforce the ramparts of the indigenous identity of natives who were completely alienated from the foreign Sayid-Sufis and Ulemas enjoying unprecedented favours and patronage from the Muslim state that had negated and rendered false the so-called e galitarian content of Islam through pursuit of paradigms that were iniquitous and crass cruel. Nund Rishi was in the theologian by culture and orientation. He called himself Nunda Sanz stands testified by his shrukhs (slokas) and also by the elegy written by Shyama, an inmate of the khanqah, in the wake of his death. Jonraj in his Rajtarangini names him as Noor-ud-Din and that testifies to his having been re-christened as Noor-ud-Din by the same oppressive forces even though he had flimsy and cosmetic Islamic bring-up. He provided substantial cultural succour and support to a large section of peasant masses through his poetical outpourings that are suffused with indigenous lore and learning, cultural moares and motifs. Given to asceticism and self-mortification he struck a note that evoked a vibrant and spontaneous response from the peasant plebians who were the recipients of ascetical and introspective mind and temperament as heritage from the Buddhists and Vedantins of yore.

What can be gleaned from historical and other literary sources is that caste barriers in Kashmir were not the same rigid and hide-bound as we find them in the Smriti-Puranic belt. As an impact of the Buddhist ideology and committed egalitarianism the caste hierarchies had loosened, weakened and nearly crumbled. The crippling conversions unleashed by the Sayyid-Sufis with an active support of the Muslim state had no social significance in the sense of regeneration and revitalisation. As a paradoxical social milieu the amorphous ranks of Muslims, better termed as ‘statistical Muslims’, got vertically divided into ‘ashraf’ and ‘ajlaf’, one comprising high-brow and high-bred foreigners from Central Asian lands and the other comprising the mass of neo-converts, dubbed as deviants, idolatrous and ‘wicked’. The Sayyids as a distinct class of glory and grandeur crowned the battered social pyramid for the affinity they claimed to the Prophet’s family. The mass of ‘cultural destitutes’, a phrase from Nirad C. Choudhary, suffered a severe trauma both psychological and social, as they had no such lineage as could get them closer to the people of foreign extraction. In utter desperation some of them invented their new genealogies which were rejected as absurd and ludicrous by the superior brand of Muslims treating them as ‘low as dust’, a phrase from Srivar. Having realised the predicament of the ‘cultural destitutes’ floating in mid-air, more Hindus, less Muslims, Nund Rishi assured them of an equalitarian status in the rishi cult with khanqah as its fulcrum. Be it said that khanqah as an institution is a variant of the Buddhist Vihara.

The foreign Sayyid-Sufis were a breed entirely different from the native stock of rishis. They were vituperative hard-liners sticking to shariat and at one stroke they polarised the broad waters of Kashmiri society into lagoons of Hindus and Muslims. Sufism by and large has supposedly been associated at least in theory with love, humility, philanthropy and more than most belief in brotherhood of man. But the Central Asian sufis who poured into Kashmir as persecuted people sowed the seeds of hate and incoclasm and invoked ‘divine sanctions’ and ‘quranic tenets’ for eradication of infidelity and infidels. They as it appears can be featured as the direct recipients of the spirit of old Israel. They preached and practised blatant discrimination and hatred on grounds of race, religion, and creed and harnessed the Muslim state power for forcible conversions and destruction of indigenous roots. The author of the Zakhiratual-Muluk, a Kubrawi Sayyid-Sufi, has drawn a catalogue of twenty conditions for application to non-Muslims and prescribed without any qualms loot and murder of hard nuts daring to flout them. The Tohfatul-Ahbab, a Muslim work in Persian, has delineated the Sayyid-Sufis battened on beef and enormous quantities of food waging war on the natives who thwarted and resisted their iconoclastic activities.

Islam, to the Sayyid-Sufis, was imposition, infact, imposition at pain of death. It had no humanistic facets which have been the essence of Hindu faith facing extermination at their hands. They conceived of nothing but conversions and beyond that they harboured no visions to re-orientate and rejuvenate the society as a whole on the sound foundation of equity, humanism and justice. They were so narrow-minded that they could not see all shades of humans emanating from the same Divine Essence. The Central Asian Sayyid-Sufis including the Khurasanian brand, no doubt, carried the imprint of Buddhistic and Vedantic influences. But, despite that, their views on ‘kufra’, ‘religious conversions’ and ‘treatment to be meted out to men of other faiths’ were the same hide-bound and fanatical. They were not only an integral part of the unjust system established by Muslims but also perpetuated it through their scholastic tradition.

The native rishis as models of ascelicism and quietism with no interest in affairs mundane walked not in harmony but in total discord with the foreign Sayyid-Sufis out to spill blood in the name of Islam. They were holymen of peace, harmony, piety, non-violence and non-injury. The assiduous cultivation of noble qualities as already mentioned was a ‘value’ with them. They were so much humanised that they saw life and its vital pulsations in all manifestations of natural life. Any injury inflicted on any form of Divine manifestation was detested as sinful and ignoble. Generation of debilitating conflict, discord and disharmony was never their mission. ‘Peace with all’ as a Buddhist value was their hall-mark. The message of rishis was to endeavour to tear away from meshes of the world for attainment of a new uplifted incarnation through emergence into and identity with God. They shunned and detested the company of greats like kings, nobles and glamarous people in the corridors of power. They were humble, calm and spiritually on higher perches with contempt for material goods and material well-being.

The Sayyid -Sufis and Ulemas under the motivations of their religio-political culture totally rejected the spiritual goals  of rishies  and also the methodologies that they adhered to for attainment of the objective of their quest. The native concepts of spirituality were beyond their ken and experience. Deficient in sense and spirit of enquiry they had no faculties to know and learn about them even from theoretical perspective. Cynical rejection was all that they could conceive of. They spurned the rishis as a class of recluses having no credibility as per the Islamic tenets. The practice of visiting the graves or samadhis of rishis to implore for their intercession had no sanction from Islamic authorities. So the Sayyid-Sufis detested them as shirk, a deviation from the real Islam. Rishis detested meat-eating and lived on locally grown specific greens. Many of them had given up even the greens and lived just on water. To induce them to meat-eating of all types termed as ‘halal’ hagiographers mostly of foreign origins have figmented spiritual conferences to impress its obligation under ‘Suna’ and ‘Shariat’. Hari Rishi was denounced for breaking his rigorous fasts with pebbles and stones. To the Sayyid-Sufis Nund Rishi was illiterate and ignorant having no knowledge of Islamic scriptures. His going into lent (Chillas) was a practice that was denounced totally as un-Islamic. The rishis as a class had gained popularity with the mass of devotees not for their strict adherence to Hadith and Sharia but for their asceticism, meditation and hard living like the native ‘hatha-yogis’.

The Sayyid-sufis of various orders (silsilas) failed to present a cogently structured teleological view of spirituality. Being poetical in their approach and premise the exponents of such orders (silsilas) stipulated varied positions in regard to the essential issue of ultimate destination of a seeker. The pull of concordance and conformity with the fundamental concerns of Islamic theology had the concomitant outcome of stunting the sovereign growth of the Sufi orders (silsilas) as thought-models based on theoretical constructs buttressed by lived praxes.

It is apt to state that Sufism holistically could not achieve recognition as a well-defined thought-system in keeping with its original nuances and motivations of heralding a thought-force in conflict with the rigidities of Islamic law and doctrine. Like the Kharigies (externalists), the outbursts of numerous sufis under the impact of neo-platonists and Buddhists and Vedantins were ruthlessly suppressed by denouncing them as rebellious and heretical, thus stilling the voice of dissent and difference.

The rebellious expression of Bayazid that his banner was greater than that of Mohammad and the stunning cry of Mansur that he was God/Truth rendered all hues of sufis suspect in the eyes of the dogma-ridden Muslim world. They were sternly censured and severely condemned. To the utter shock of religious liberals Mansur was physically eliminated after torture. The idea of 'fana' as the telos of spiritual journey stunned the hide-bound Muslim dogmatists as it devalued and belittled the observance of ritual obligations. Ibn-i-Arabi, was condemned as a heretic for his 'Wahadatul Wujud' formulation which not only contradicted but also negated the Quranic doctrine of 'tawhid' by confounding God with world. Zikr (remembrance of God), borrowed from the Hindus, was permitted as a tool for spiritual orientation. But 'sama' (dance and singing), equally popular with the Hindus, was denounced as 'heretical'. The Sayyid-Sufis, who came over to Kashmir carried with them the legacy of a perennial conflict between mysticism and theology and its rigours. Steeped in orthodoxy, they, donning the robes of sufis, made a cocktail of mysticism and theology and presented it as an intolerant and proselytizing faith and posited it against the native religious-cum-spiritual expressions, not only highly tolerant but also assimilative of dissent and difference.

It is well-known that love is the key motif of Sufism. In the domain of Persian poetry love has found artistic expressions and has been typified as a symbol to intensify mystical love. Theoretically love has not matured into an effective symbolism as to resolve the perennial conflict between mysticism and strait-Jacket of theology. The sufis for fear of persecution weakly accepted the Quranic dicta defining love and its parameters. They showed no intellectual boldness and spiritual independence which could have set them apart from the theological rigours thereby setting ablaze a trail of new development in the domain of sufism as a mode of thought. They could not establish a love-nexus with God for mystical heights. The Quranic injunction that God as the creator of man cannot have any love-bond with the created clipped the wings of their thought and spiritual conceptualisations. They could not  conceive of any meaning of love other than that of obedience or submission.

In sharp contrast to the semitic colour of love symbolism, the native visualisation about love is spiritually elevating and exhilirating. As a highly emotive state of human psyche it exponentially upswings a seeker to the condition of synthesisation as one with God. Music, dance and hymn-singing in ecstasy are recognised as pious accoutrements to heighten love and its allied states with the clear objective of attaining synergy with love i.e. God.

Mira as a seeker of love-nexus with Krishna, her destination of love, ascends to the state of total absorbtion into her love i.e. Krishna. In native parlance, love and God are interchangeable. Love is God and God is love. Unimpeded union with love is bliss and separation from love is pains. Love has spiritual contours and is suffused with spiritual content. To be exact, love is defined as spirituality incarnate. More than most, love is pregnant with humanistic content and has served as a source to renaissance stagnant societies to achieve new dynamism and flowering.

As models of ossified orthodoxy, the Central Asian Sayyid-sufis were stunned to find the natives harbouring a maze of beliefs strung together by love as an elevating elixir potent enough to push a seeker to the state of unity with God. Such a belief, to them, was sheer heresy controverting the Quranic position. That there is a yawning chasm between man and God and God leaves the world to its own fate after He creates it was what chilled their philosophical and mystical insight.

The Sayyid-sufis when in Kashmir were completely dazed to find the natives sticking to the concept of God as transcendental and immanent too. Even after crippling conversions the natives continued with the cultural inheritance of Shiva as the creator of cosmos. In manifestation mode He was Shakti which at mass level was known as 'She', an abbreviated form of Shakti. To dis-inherit them from their cultural treasure as a precious legacy the Sayyid-sufis devised a plethora of measures to re-baptize them after coercive conversions through Jazia (poll-tax) and levers of state power including army.

Absolutely deficient in arduous cultivation as inquisitive and enquiring minds the Sayyid-sufis made not even meagre efforts to have a casual peep into the native mind and its creative expressions in varied segments of human knowledge including aesthetics. As representatives of a civilisation that had long back frozen in time and place, they as hard-core missionaries embarked upon an insidious mission of ravaging, looting and arsoning the architectural heritage of the natives which they derisively called idol-houses, where devotees (bakhtas) prayed and sang in accompaniment with indigenous musical instruments for value enrichment and spiritual enhancement. Having inherited  legacy of boorish contempt for music, dance and hymn-singing as spiritual components, they as votaries of Shariat and Sunna carried the burden of responsibility for the imposition of barbaric ban on music, dance and hymn-singing that the natives were wedded to. At the prodding of a Sayyid-sufi of Kubrawi variety, Sultan Sikandar, launched a genocidal onslaught on the religious leitmotifs of the natives with a view to stamping them out. Temples of aesthetic and cultural import were brutally levelled. It is shocking to recall that Sultan Sikandar made use of gun-powder known as hard-ware of war to shatter the Martand Temple acclaimed as 'epitome of architecture', 'music in stone' and 'gem of Indian architecture'. Prior to the destruction of the temple he deployed a team of sadists who cruelly hammered its sculptural wealth of high artistic value and merit to smithereens. Mir Ali Hamadani, a Kubrawi sufi, said to be a Shia-Muslim by faith, was the first to write the iconoclastic chapter of Kashmir history. Baharistan-i-Shahi, a Muslim chronicle in Persian, applauds him for demolition of the Kali-shree temple, an icon of native faith and religion, to raise a Muslim prayer-place at the site. Mir Shams-ud-Din Araki, again a Sayyid-sufi of Shia faith was a highly motivated Vandal who fanatically destroyed numerous temples throughout the Valley.

As evidenced by Jonraj, the author of second Rajtarangini, Sultan Sikandar spared no effort worth the name to erase all traces of indigenous knowledge and learning as enshrined in books with the sole purpose of cleansing the land of infidelity. As a psychopath he added new chapters to the Muslim history of burning books. The Hindu houses were ransacked and looted and the treasure-trove thus got was pitilessly burnt or consigned to rivers, lakes and wells or buried down the earth. Records Srivar -

'Sikandar burnt the books the same way as fire burns hay. verse - 75

'All the scintillating works faced destruction in the same manner that lotus flowers face with the onset of frosty winter'. verse - 77

'The erudites of that period witnessing the enmass destruction of books by Muslims fled their land with some books through mountain routes'.  - verse-76

With a view to eradicating the well-entrenched spiritual foundation of the natives the Sayyid-sufis drawing tremendous support from the ruling Muslim dispensation removed their sacred threads as a mark of their initiation, forced them to recite kalima, got them circumcised and thrust lumps of beef into their mouths. As most of their religious literature especially 'Yogavashisht' and 'Bhagvat Puranum' was destroyed, they were anguished to have hand-written copies of the Quran which they could not read or recite nor were there local pirs or mullahs who could have provided them the initial lessons. The natives placed under siege to an alien religion were huddled in groups to say prayers in the Islamic mode, but soon after dispersal they visited their destructed temples to bow to their gods of ancestors. After strictness was enforced the natives hid shiva-lingas under their sleeves before they were herded for prayers which they never considered of any spiritual essence. When the practice was detected, they were forced to raise and down their arms before they settled for prayers. Though converted to Islam, the natives were suspected of pursuing their instinctive practices and when most of them were decreed to say prayers in their homes in presence of Sayyid-sufis acting as moral and religious police, they placed their haunches on the sacred text and recited their old hymns and litanies. Shell-shocked by such defiance, they were stigmatized as apostates and put to the sharp blades of a sword on days sacred to Muslims. For such horrible details Baharistan-i-Shahi and Tohfatul Ahbab as the Muslim chronicles in Persian can be consulted for corroboration and gruesome details.

When in the highly fertile soil of Kashmir blessed with salubrious climate, the Sayyid-sufis  settled in the land of natives, practically as aliens, in fact, bewitched by its beauties taking it as the land of paradisal legend as they had read in the Quranic accounts, most of them married the native converts and acquired Jagirs through favours from the Muslim state. Their missionary zeal over the years evaporated as a result of better prospect of life which they could not have dreamt of in their native places. Mir Shams-ud-Din Araki as a purist of classical variety castigated the mullahs for following the ways of the kafirs (infidels) while giving send-off to their daughters at the time of their marriages. Over-lording the bands of new-found followers begging for ordinary doles the Sayyid-sufis drafted them on missions of demolishing temples housing the venerated gods and goddesses of the natives and temples of learning. As there were ethnic and cultural affinities between the neo-converts and the resilient natives the Sayyid-sufis drilled their de-humanised followers into the lessons of hate and contempt for the resilients for being 'kafirs' (infidels) and idolatrous. A handful of Sayyid-sufis continued with the mission of conversions by establishing langars (eating places) as a source of allurement for the new entrants to Islam and as a weapon to keep the converted to Islam. Such public-kitchens were financed by the government agencies through grant of Jagirs to the zealots donning the robes of sufis. The public-kitchen of Bulbulshah was financed by Rinchen, a Ladakhi born converted it Islam. Mir Mohammad Hamadani was heavily financed by Sultan Sikander for all his missionary enterprises including setting up of a public-kitchen for the converts. Mir Shams-ud-Din Araki was given gold, silver and jewels by Musa Raina, the Prime Minister of Sultan Mohammad Shah, for purposes of building worshipping places for his Shia followers at the sites where he had destructed Hindu temples and shrines. The Sayyid-sufis utilised the revenues accruing from the Jagirs granted to them by the Muslim rulers of all hues for subversion of the land in terms of politics and religion. The strong contradictions between the local converts and the alien Sayyid-sufis led to battles resulting in the expulsion of the Sayyid-sufis from Kashmir. The native converts coined 'Saad makar' or cunning Sayyids as a derogatory nomenclature for them when they practically took control of government machinery and turned it into an instrument of coercion and oppression.

If they are called terrible actors veering between belligerence and prietism it might not shock many.

The so-called researchers in the Shah-i-Hamadan Institute set up under the aegis of the University of Kashmir, Srinagar seem to be motivated by sectarian prejudices when they extol and trumpet the role of Sayyids and Sayyid-Sufis in Kashmir in blatant violation and transgression of historical facts and other relevant materials. The fact remains that the Sayyid  foreigners are responsible for erosion and destruction of indigenous ethos that had formed as a result of historical, cultural and civilisational processes. The version of Sayyid influx which they present is the privileged part of Islamic history in Kashmir.

As is well known Kashmir as part of a vast cultural and civilisational mosaic had existed and emerged as a distinct identity much before the advent of these foreigners and had made amazing contributions to all segments of human knowledge and development. And no serious researcher can easily ignore it or berate it. That the Sayyids were responsible for transmuting the religious complexion of Kashmir and sowing the bacilli of iconoclasm in Kashmir is being glorified through re-inventions, distortions and farrago of unfounded constructions. No attempt can be evaluated as laudable if Kashmir is presented as the creation of some foreigners in terms of its origins, its store-house of myths and traditions, its literary treasures and aesthetic theories and finally its history of evolution and flowering. The researchers appear to be 'turning away' from Kashmir and trying hard to justify the scars inflicted on the essence of Kashmir, its soul, by the foreign zealots and proselytizers.

The Sayyids and Sayyid- Sufis, perhaps two sides of the same coin, poured into Kashmir in the wake of entrenchment of Muslim rule in Kashmir. The majority of them came from Persia and Central Asia where they had suffered severe persecution at the hands of Muslim rulers abhorrent of their political activities and religious predilections. Sayyid Sharf-ud-Din under persecution in his native land fled to Kashmir where a Hindu ruler, Suhadeva, granted him refuge and permission to practice and preach his religion. Mir Ali Hamadani alongwith seven hundred Sayyids was forced to abandon his native land by Timur who detested all Sayyids including Kubrawi Sufis. Mir Mohammad Hamadani, son of Mir Ali Hamadani, accompanied by three hundred Sayyids, poured into Kashmir in the times of Sultan Sikandar who at his prodding and motivation unleashed a genocidal war on the native population of Hindus. Ultimately a trickle changed into a torrent and thousands of Sayyids flooded the territory of Kashmir. They had hide-bound views on religion which motivated them to extirpate infidelity from Kashmir and with few exceptions had personal ambitions of gaining positions of power and panopoly.

Every student of Kashmir history is aware that Zain-ul-Abidin after his demise was followed by a crop of worthless and incompetent rulers. There was total chaos and anarchy prevailing in the territory of Kashmir. The Sayyids proved deft enough to utilise the chaotic and turbulent conditions to their advantage and missed no opportunity to entrench themselves in various layers of power structure. They emerged strong and formidable and gained absolute sway over the entire political scene. They cornered high positions and lucrative offices for themselves and their kinsmen. Rich and affluent they married in royal and prestigious families. Dazzled and baffled by the enormity of their wealth and assets the native converts seethed with anger and burning in their hearts as they were treated as low as dust, an expression from Srivar, a noted historican of Kashmir. The Sayyids as known to them all had come to Kashmir as punies, but through the lavish patronage of Muslim rulers of all hues they rose to the positions of power and pelf. As both power and riches have a corrupting impact the Sayyids grew haughty and arrogant too and maligned and hated the neo-converts as brahman-zadas (sons of brahmans), half Muslims, deviants, and idolators. Capitalising on their title of Sayyids they missed no opportunity to brighten their personal prospects, amass as much of wealth as they could and worm their way into money-spinning positions.

Records Srivar, "these foreigners had become rich after coming to this country and had forgotten their previous history, even as men forget their previous life on coming out of the womb. They oppressed the people".

The Sayyids in corridors of power manning the state machine were so much self-engrossed that they did next to nothing to ameliorate the lot of converts who were left high and dry after their forcible conversion. They, in fact, chopped off every twig from the tree of mercy. They were ruthless in fleecing people, oppressing them and though expected to be models for emulation they flouted all norms of decent moral conduct. They were highly corrupt and venal. They exerted maximum to extract as much of booty as they could. They were the worst exloiters that the Kashmiris of all shades had ever seen and known.

Writes Srivar, "Accepting bribes by them was virtuous, oppressing people was wise and indulging in drinking and sex was happiness".

Sayyids had a deep streak of bigotry in their mental structure. They opposed tooth and nail the policy projections of Zain-ul-Abidin regarding rehabilitation of the Hindus who had fled their land in the wake of genocidal war waged on them. The tryst of Hindus with peace and respite proved short-lived when Sayyids launched a furious campaign of calummy and hatred against them forcing them to quit their native place or else get converted. In the fag end of Hassan Shah's reign the Sayyids got the Hindu places of worship looted, ransacked and burnt. They were cruel to Hindus, terrorised them and reduced them to the position of dust in their own land which they had nurtured through ages. Sayyids having come from distant lands for refuge and shelter devastated Kashmir and reduced it to a jungle where wild and ferocious animals had a free play.

Under the hegemony of Sayyids the Hindus could not even lodge a complaint if their properties were looted or trespassed. A respectable Hindu lodged a mild complaint against the trespass of his land to a Sayyid officer who out of religious hatred fiated the destruction of his entire property and also the devastation of properties belonging to all Hindus living in that locality. This incident can typify the treatment meted out to the natives not bearing the Islamic tag. They were the same brand of Sayyids that had actually fled their lands due to persecution and found shelter in Kashmir already under Muslim hegemony.

To detail it out further the Sayyids were wild crusaders against the native Hindus whose position had already reduced to a wafer-thin minority. They always kept them on tenter-hooks, denied them safety of life and limb and incessantly harassed them. Under the instructions from Sayyids the squads of Muslims entered the 'private houses of Hindus, ate from their pots, disrupted their usual modes of worship and indulged in bouts of drinking and carousing'. They were looters who robbed the converts and Hindus alike of their 'domestic animals, rice and other necessities of life and the most avaricious among them went to the extreme of killing them in their own houses'. The lands belonging to Hindus were confiscated, thus depriving then of sustenance. A well-known physician, Buvaneshwar by name, was barbarically killed and his decapitated head thrown on road to instil terror among people dead-set against their oppression.

A vaishnavite Brahman, Muni, rose in open revolt against the Sayyid oppressors who were out to decimate the whole race of Hindus in Kashmir. The homes and hearths of Muni were ruthlessly ravaged and destroyed. His supporters met the same fate. Women-folk were lifted and sold to zealots for a price.

Tazi Bhatt, a local neo-convert, though a fluke, raised a banner of revolt against the Sayyids when they rebelled against Hassan Shah, the Muslim ruler of Kashmir. He represented the wide-spread sentiment against the Sayyids as oppressors when he crusaded for their expulsion from Kashmir and confiscation of their incalculable assets which they had amassed in Kashmir. Hassan Shah sensed the trend of events and to ward off a popular uprising he ordered the externment of a large number of Sayyids from Kashmir. There was a lot of jubilation over the development and people heaved a sight of relief as they had plucked out a painful 'thorn' from their body politic. Tazi Bhat was hailed and cheered as a national hero and his graph of popularity notched upto an unprecedented mark.

Says Srivar, "when the country was rid of these 'thorns', people were happy under the good administration and they occupied themselves in marriages and festivities in building good houses in dancing and processions and they thought of nothing else".

The extreme popularity and political strength of Tazi Bhatt was not savoured well by Malik Ahmad who was the Prime Minister. With a view to undermining Tazi Bhat's position he as a strategm opened channels of contact with the expelled Sayyids who had not gone to their native places but had taken shelter either with their kinsmen in Delhi or some tribal chiefs of mountainous borders of Kashmir. Malik Ahmad was encouraged and assisted in recalling the Sayyids by the queen, who happened to be the daughter of a Sayyid. The Sayyids returned to the Valley to regain and re-consolidate their old lost positions and enormous possessions. But the people got enraged and severely opposed the PM's act of recalling the Sayyids who had oppressed and virtually looted them. They termed the act of the PM as foolish and extremely unpatriotic. A prominent Muslim damar dilated on the evil consequences ensuing from the return of the hated Sayyids. Malik Ahmad had his own calculations and expected the Sayyids when back in Kashmir to act as his surrogates and flatterers.

But the Sayyids proved defter than Malik Ahmad. The moment they recovered their possessions and had them in full hold they pounced on people and their leaders to avenge their disgraceful externment. Tazi Bhatt was their main target and they had plans to imprison him and abduct his wife. But to the good luck of Tazi Bhat he was informed of the designs of Sayyids by his supporters and took shelter with the Prime Minister who happened to be his adopted father. The Muslim ruler sensed it as the formation of a new grand alliance against him and sent forces to arrest Tazi Bhatt. But the people revolted against this act of the ruler, who stopped in his tracks from arresting Tazi Bhatt, thus saving his crown and sceptre.

Though recalled to Kashmir by Malik Ahmad the revengeful Sayyids always took him as their sworn enemy. The Muslim ruler instigated by Sayyids imprisoned him and confiscated his whole lot of enormous wealth. The Sayyids without any visible rival in the field exercised full powers without check or restraint .

Records Srivar, "they became unruly after this triumph, they placed the king under their control and regarded the people of Kashmir hardly even as grass".

The Sayyids reduced the Muslim ruler to a mere puny puppet. They made him to dance to their tunes. He was just there on the throne, not even a figure head. The country was seething with discontent and indignation at the phenomenal rise of the foreigners, who had insatiable lust for power and had risen from rags to riches at the expense of the Kashmiris.

Writes Srivar, "He (King) lost all interest in the administration of the country and remained indifferent to the doings of his servants. His mind was influenced by his wife and the Sayyids..."

There was an open revolt against the Muslim ruler and his Sayyid advisers and henchmen. Winter was chosen as the timing for unleashment of revolt when it would be near impossible for the army to move about freely. The revolt was mercilessly suppressed by the army headed by the Sayyids. Conveys Srivar:-

"The army headed by the Sayyids scattered itself throughout the length and breadth of the Valley and inflicted untold atrocities on the people. The inhabitants were robbed of their domestic animals and rice and wine and other things...."

The Sayyids consolidated their power after the death of the ruler, Hassan Shah. To fill the vaccuum Sayyid Hassan installed seven year old son of his own daughter on the throne of Kashmir. The people were mortified by the absolute power that the Sayyids wielded. They were rejected as non-entities and treated with absolute disdain. Writes Srivar:-

"Haughty in their conduct and cruel in behaviour those arrogant men, urged by excessive cupidity, oppressed the people even like the messengers of death".

The Kashmiris reviled and treated as dust finally geared and girded up their loins to wage a final battle against the tyrannical and treacherous rule of the Sayyids. Saifu-ud-Din Dar, a local noble, led the uprising. A plot was organised to kill all Sayyid leaders who manned the levers of power. The fort at Naushahr was seized and Sayyid Hassan alongwith his relatives was murdered. Despite Sayyid retaliation the people's morale never got downed or dipped. The popular army captured the whole of Valley. The Sayyids with politics in their blood opened up negotiations but the leaders of the uprising rejected all such offers. They sought military aid from Sayyids in the Punjab and Delhi. The indigenous battle against the Sayyids met its waterloo because of many factors, the main factor being treachery.

Intoxicated by the victory the Sayyids indulged in extreme revelries and massive plunder of the local population, both Hindus and Muslims. Innocent and unarmed citizens  were murdered in cold blood. Learned men among the Hindus were put to the sword. Writes Srivar:-

"They fixed several heads on poles in order to strike terror into the people they placed them like rows of lamps on a piece of wood on the banks of the vitasta".

But ultimately the battle against the Sayyids fructified into a dazzling success when Jehangir Magrey took the lead of the popular army. The Sayyids were chased in the streets of the city. They were given the appellation of 'Saad makar'--the cunning Sayyids. Their properties were either confiscated or totally destroyed. The converts and their popular army showed them no mercy. Most of them were expelled from the land.

Sayyid Sufis - Muslim Theologians

To be in the company of God’ or ‘Shine in God’s light’ or to live in the presence of God’ are semitic expressions which the native rishis were not aware of. Even the efficacy of prayer was unknown to them. They had no worldly attachments, lived poor and never chased material goods. Though denounced as ascetics by all brands of Sayyid-sufis, they lived as ascetics and recluses much after the manner of the native Buddhist and Vedantinst and never bothered for conformity to the theological requirements as enunciated in the religion of the colonisers.

The way the rishis lived, the manner of their thought and nuances, the spiritual path that they trod  upon leave no doubt about their Hindu or Buddhist credentials. The pontifs of the colonising religion had no qualms to conceal their abhorrence for them and their anti-Islamic positions. They rejected them as illiterate and ignorant. The prophetic mysticism as  espoused by them remained circumscribed to the circle of their followers and failed to percolate down to the broad sections of converted masses addicted to the practice of native spirituality and its allied axiologies based on high moral ground of humanism and liberalism.

The followers of diverse ‘Sufi Silsilas’ in central Asian lands had not the same spiritually tempered minds as we find in the native rishis. They were ordinary mortals swayed by emotions of hate, malice and greed. They bitterly opposed their rivals and enemies within their silsilas or outside them. Most of them were involved in personal feuds either with the Muslim rulers or Sufis of rival factions. Even a surface analysis of their social behaviour establishes them as men indulging in petty jealousies and chasing pursuits that had under pinnings of greed and avarice. If a sayyid-sufi wormed his way to the seat of power, many others hatched intrigues to distance him away from the ruler only to usurp his place. Mir Mohammad Hamadani had his enemies in his native land who forced him out and even in Kashmir he had his principal enemy in Sayyid Hissari who castigated Sultan Sikander for having been trapped by the Kubrawi sufi.

As against this, the native rishis, poor and recluce, had no culture of indulgence in hate, greed, avarice, jealousy and such other base emotions. As a spiritual requirement they had absolutely abandoned them and gained self-control to reach the blissful summit of union with  the God. They loved all and hated none. They had no greed and had abandoned and suppressed all worldly desire and yearnings. The thousands of Kubrawi Sayyids who had entered Kashmir carried with them the legacy of feud and factionalism and as a result of their political orientation they grabbed the state apparatus and turned it into a repressive machine. Some of them are looked upon as saints and  the  converts with Hindu instincts seek their intercession, which as a practice is detested as un-Islamic. That the Sayyid-Suffis strengthened and reinforced Tauheedic consciousness among the converts is an illusion fostered by those who have replaced history by hagiology and sociology by blind faith with the sole purpose of concealing the political and religious role of the colonisers.

The essential question about the Sayyid -Sufis from central Asian lands is what form and vintage of Islam and what type of thought content allied with it they brought with them. They were expelled from their native places at a time when the verve of the Islamic civilisation was no longer there and its unity and moral force had quagmired. The Muslim empire had fallen. The decay had set in when the Arabs reduced the Persian civilisation assiduously built by Cyrus and Darius. The Persians though reduced and subjugate took their revenge by rupturing the seat of Caliphate. The unity of God head though in no way unique for Indians suffered a shocking jot when Bayazid decried Tauheed and Mansur yelled that he was God.

With the death of Mansur the liberalist trend was decapitated. The Sayyid -Sufis as inheritors to the Islamic dogmas unleashed no revolution in the thought ways of the natives of Kashmir. They through the use of force, and tampering with the stories about yogi's suppressed the natives to convert them and after conversion left them languishing and reeling under the repressive state machine which they had propped up.

As the prisoners to dogma when in Kashmir the Sayyid-sufis could not think of drinking deep at its fountain head of knowledge and learning. They urged and instigated the Muslim ruler through quotes from scriptures to change the religious complexion of Kashmir and destroy the native traditions, culture forms and usages as products of generations of cumulative experiences. Admired in literalist tradition of Islam they acted as Muslims who were ordered in literalist tradition of Islam. They acted as Muslims who were ordered to punish the natives who refused to accept Islam. The Quranic verses expressing deep hatred for non-Muslims had literally gripped them. The verses ordaining Muslims to use corcion and violence against the non-Muslims had shaped their over all demeanour unto the natives of Kashmir. The motivations from the text had made them believe that conversion to Islam of those outside its orbit was a goal of super religious  value and weapon of force used for getting converts was justified as ordained by religion. Islam as the Arab religion could move out of the desert tracts only through military action and in its expansion in the Indian sub-continent the Muslim missionaries in the guise of sufi-sayyids played their role in tandem with Muslim state power established through ravaging raids and assaults.

As is well-known in scholarly circles that the conceptions about ‘Sharia’ were put in the form of formulations in Medina, Egypt and Iraq. After Arab conquests of many regions the Muslim theologians controlling the brain-boxes of the rulers deemed the conquests as incomplete without imposition of ‘Sharia’. Serious conflicts arose between the imperial conquerors imposing ‘shlaria’ on the natives the subjugated people defending their own traditional laws and precedents against the onslaught. The Sayyid-Sufis as stickers to Sharia used it as a weapon to create discord, disharmony and religious strife in the land they wanted to subvert. As a matter of strategy everything belonging to the native roots as a manifestation of civilisational growth and creativity was to be stamped out. Sharia when imposed did away with most of the native practices and by labelled them as irreligious conventions.

Mir Ali Hamadani was well versed in its political significance and efficacy. That is why he urged the Muslim ruler to introduce sharia in his Hindu dominated state. His sole aim was to create a crisis between the ruler and his Hindu subjects and between the majority of Hindus and a small colony of Muslims. His well calculated attempt was to precipitate matters where the Muslim state would get involved in extirpation of infidelity. In his subsequent two visits he succeeded in involving the state power and that is how he got some substantial conversions to Islam. Mir Mohammad Hamadani translated the sharia formulations blatantly for conversions and instigated and harnessed sultan Sikander to use his army and punity jazia for conversions thereby forcing the natives either to flee their land or get converted or get killed . ‘Sharia’ was used as an instrument to polarise, divide and disharmonise a society predominantly Hindu.

The rishis were strict vegetarians and never touched meat of any animal. It being not in tune with Sharia and Sunna the Sayyid -Sufis abhorred them and avoided to touch them even with a bargepole.

The Sayyid-Sufis and their followers with political orientation were responsible for distortion of the role and context of native rishis in view of their acceptance and popularity. They in their beliefs and practices were taken as signorant of Sharia and Sunna. Yet for purpose of roping them in within their fold they wove yarns and fictitious stories about their acceptance of Sayyid-Sufis, especially the Kubrawis.

 The followers of the Kubrawi Sayyid-Sufis painted the local rishis as reformers. If the native rishis were reformers, that surely implies that they either as a group or as  individuals failed to share the sense of victory that outsiders had scored in Kashmir. Reform is sought, not by the victor, but by the vanquished. If rishis shared the victory of Muslims in Kashmir, they in no uncertain terms were on ascendancy and hence had no reason to reform their society which was up-beat with political and religious victories. Rishis as reformers throw up a vital information about Islam in Kashmir which as an imposed cementing force had failed to re-vitalise the socio-religious fabric of the neo-converts cut as under from their native moorings and roots and thus were sunk in psychological and moral morass and needed a reform for a renewal and revival. Again, if the rishis were reformers their spirituality is jeopardised. The neo-converts mainly the peasants of Kashmir, love them not as reformers, but as intercessors for final  redemption. If rishis as a distinctive native tribe of tradition perpetuators had taken to reform, that is proof enough that they had deflected away from their native goals of supreme spirituality and were semitised to play the role of reformers. The life-style and thought ways of rishis even after tremendous distortion of their poetical expressions do not seem to support it.

The published poetical materials of Nund Rishi, never authentic in any way, contain many shrukhs (slokas) which are highly critical of the mullahs. The accusations against them are that they undertake evil and vicious practices which are not morally and religiously sound as per his axiology. If after conversions Muslim society which was a flush with new victories and new value systems rejecting the Brahmanical tyranny, how come that a handful of Mullahs had caused its corruption just within a short span of sixty years. The diatribe against the Mullahs pinpoints the decadence that had set in Muslim society soon after it was born from religious turmoil. In objective terms Mullahs if they were conversant with the Islamic lore and learning played  a great part in mediating Islam through indigenous culture forms. They could be accused of diluting Islam with the native religious expressions thereby syncretizing it. But the question that crops up is about the very knowledge of Nund Rishi about Islamic theology. All sources are unanimous that he was no theologian and had no knowledge of Islam and its essential positions. If he opposed the Mullahs for their syncretic dilution, he could not determine the dilution for want of requisite knowledge and he could not have opposed the dilution for he himself was the product of co-mingling of many native strands of thought and trends at mass level. Hence it is averred that the shrukhs epitomising diatribes against the native Mullahs are later day distortions either by the authors of Noor-namas or other minds aware of Nund Rishi’s thought content shaped by the surrounding spiritual ambience.

The same Sayyid-sufis especially their few followers have posed the rishis, mainly Nund Rishi, as proselytizers. Sayyid Ali, a follower of Kubrawis, has drawn a ridiculous portrait of Nund Rishi entering into a cave-temple of Buma rishi only to exhort him to get converted to Islam. A rishi of native variety steeped in this native lore and learning with a bias against practices legitimised under Sharia and Sunnah is drawn as the worst brand of proselytiser wearing the blood dripping hide of a cow. The word portrait of the Rishi drawn in such an offensive form is to offend his indigenous sensitivities two hundred years after his deather. All Kashmiris know it fully well that Nund Rishi was a strict vegetarian and had abhorrance for all type of meat. The fanatic follower of the Kubrawis protrayed him thus to castigate him for a conduct not in conformity with Sharia and Sunna. Hardi Rishi was also a vegetarian and hagiographers of the same fanatic variety have figmented a spiritual conference to rub home to him the importance and efficacy of beef-eating only to live up to the ideals of Sharia and Sunna. The Sayyid sufis of the Kubrawi brand have deliberately and mischievously heaped violence on the native rishis who had allegiance more to their native roots than the foreign impositions.

The Sayyid-sufis and some native converts who fail to see themselves as converts have woven stories and myths about the involvement of rishis in processes of proselyisation. It is directed to the end of establishing that the combine of the Kubrawi Sayyid-sufis, Sultan Sikander and other Muslim rulers had no role to play in conversions and conversions were voluntary or induced by the rishis through their asceticism and simple style of life.

After a careful analysis of the politico religious conditions of the times, Nund Rishi came to over-lord as an indigenous saint, one is led to conclude that large scale conversions had already taken place especially of the peasant masses through imposition of Jazia and use of armed forces. The temple and shrines as icon of Hindu faith were smashed and those who lived there as their keepers or as practitioners of native faith could not have withstood the sweeping hurricane of bigotry. The role of rishis was only to fill in the vacuum that was created by shifting of religious loyalties to a foreign faith which for a long time was more a force than a reality.

Militant Sayyids

The so-called researchers in the Shah-i-Hamadan Institute set up under the aegis of the University of Kashmir, Srinagar seem to be motivated by sectarian prejudices when they extol and trumpet the role of Sayyids and Sayyid-Sufis in Kashmir in blatant violation and transgression of historical facts and other relevant materials. The fact remains that the Sayyid  foreigners are responsible for erosion and destruction of indigenous ethos that had formed as a result of historical, cultural and civilisational processes. The version of Sayyid influx which they present is the privileged part of Islamic history in Kashmir.

As is well known Kashmir as part of a vast cultural and civilisational mosaic had existed and emerged as a distinct identity much before the advent of these foreigners and had made amazing contributions to all segments of human knowledge and development. And no serious researcher can easily ignore it or berate it. That the Sayyids were responsible for transmuting the religious complexion of Kashmir and sowing the bacilli of iconoclasm in Kashmir is being glorified through re-inventions, distortions and farrago of unfounded constructions. No attempt can be evaluated as laudable if Kashmir is presented as the creation of some foreigners in terms of its origins, its store-house of myths and traditions, its literary treasures and aesthetic theories and finally its history of evolution and flowering. The researchers appear to be 'turning away' from Kashmir and trying hard to justify the scars inflicted on the essence of Kashmir, its soul, by the foreign zealots and proselytizers.

The Sayyids and Sayyid- Sufis, perhaps two sides of the same coin, poured into Kashmir in the wake of entrenchment of Muslim rule in Kashmir. The majority of them came from Persia and Central Asia where they had suffered severe persecution at the hands of Muslim rulers abhorrent of their political activities and religious predilections. Sayyid Sharf-ud-Din under persecution in his native land fled to Kashmir where a Hindu ruler, Suhadeva, granted him refuge and permission to practice and preach his religion. Mir Ali Hamadani alongwith seven hundred Sayyids was forced to abandon his native land by Timur who detested all Sayyids including Kubrawi Sufis. Mir Mohammad Hamadani, son of Mir Ali Hamadani, accompanied by three hundred Sayyids, poured into Kashmir in the times of Sultan Sikandar who at his prodding and motivation unleashed a genocidal war on the native population of Hindus. Ultimately a trickle changed into a torrent and thousands of Sayyids flooded the territory of Kashmir. They had hide-bound views on religion which motivated them to extirpate infidelity from Kashmir and with few exceptions had personal ambitions of gaining positions of power and panopoly.

Every student of Kashmir history is aware that Zain-ul-Abidin after his demise was followed by a crop of worthless and incompetent rulers. There was total chaos and anarchy prevailing in the territory of Kashmir. The Sayyids proved deft enough to utilise the chaotic and turbulent conditions to their advantage and missed no opportunity to entrench themselves in various layers of power structure. They emerged strong and formidable and gained absolute sway over the entire political scene. They cornered high positions and lucrative offices for themselves and their kinsmen. Rich and affluent they married in royal and prestigious families. Dazzled and baffled by the enormity of their wealth and assets the native converts seethed with anger and burning in their hearts as they were treated as low as dust, an expression from Srivar, a noted historican of Kashmir. The Sayyids as known to them all had come to Kashmir as punies, but through the lavish patronage of Muslim rulers of all hues they rose to the positions of power and pelf. As both power and riches have a corrupting impact the Sayyids grew haughty and arrogant too and maligned and hated the neo-converts as brahman-zadas (sons of brahmans), half Muslims, deviants, and idolators. Capitalising on their title of Sayyids they missed no opportunity to brighten their personal prospects, amass as much of wealth as they could and worm their way into money-spinning positions.

Records Srivar, "these foreigners had become rich after coming to this country and had forgotten their previous history, even as men forget their previous life on coming out of the womb. They oppressed the people".

The Sayyids in corridors of power manning the state machine were so much self-engrossed that they did next to nothing to ameliorate the lot of converts who were left high and dry after their forcible conversion. They, in fact, chopped off every twig from the tree of mercy. They were ruthless in fleecing people, oppressing them and though expected to be models for emulation they flouted all norms of decent moral conduct. They were highly corrupt and venal. They exerted maximum to extract as much of booty as they could. They were the worst exloiters that the Kashmiris of all shades had ever seen and known.

Writes Srivar, "Accepting bribes by them was virtuous, oppressing people was wise and indulging in drinking and sex was happiness".

Sayyids had a deep streak of bigotry in their mental structure. They opposed tooth and nail the policy projections of Zain-ul-Abidin regarding rehabilitation of the Hindus who had fled their land in the wake of genocidal war waged on them. The tryst of Hindus with peace and respite proved short-lived when Sayyids launched a furious campaign of calummy and hatred against them forcing them to quit their native place or else get converted. In the fag end of Hassan Shah's reign the Sayyids got the Hindu places of worship looted, ransacked and burnt. They were cruel to Hindus, terrorised them and reduced them to the position of dust in their own land which they had nurtured through ages. Sayyids having come from distant lands for refuge and shelter devastated Kashmir and reduced it to a jungle where wild and ferocious animals had a free play.

Under the hegemony of Sayyids the Hindus could not even lodge a complaint if their properties were looted or trespassed. A respectable Hindu lodged a mild complaint against the trespass of his land to a Sayyid officer who out of religious hatred fiated the destruction of his entire property and also the devastation of properties belonging to all Hindus living in that locality. This incident can typify the treatment meted out to the natives not bearing the Islamic tag. They were the same brand of Sayyids that had actually fled their lands due to persecution and found shelter in Kashmir already under Muslim hegemony.

To detail it out further the Sayyids were wild crusaders against the native Hindus whose position had already reduced to a wafer-thin minority. They always kept them on tenter-hooks, denied them safety of life and limb and incessantly harassed them. Under the instructions from Sayyids the squads of Muslims entered the 'private houses of Hindus, ate from their pots, disrupted their usual modes of worship and indulged in bouts of drinking and carousing'. They were looters who robbed the converts and Hindus alike of their 'domestic animals, rice and other necessities of life and the most avaricious among them went to the extreme of killing them in their own houses'. The lands belonging to Hindus were confiscated, thus depriving then of sustenance. A well-known physician, Buvaneshwar by name, was barbarically killed and his decapitated head thrown on road to instil terror among people dead-set against their oppression.

A vaishnavite Brahman, Muni, rose in open revolt against the Sayyid oppressors who were out to decimate the whole race of Hindus in Kashmir. The homes and hearths of Muni were ruthlessly ravaged and destroyed. His supporters met the same fate. Women-folk were lifted and sold to zealots for a price.

Tazi Bhatt, a local neo-convert, though a fluke, raised a banner of revolt against the Sayyids when they rebelled against Hassan Shah, the Muslim ruler of Kashmir. He represented the wide-spread sentiment against the Sayyids as oppressors when he crusaded for their expulsion from Kashmir and confiscation of their incalculable assets which they had amassed in Kashmir. Hassan Shah sensed the trend of events and to ward off a popular uprising he ordered the externment of a large number of Sayyids from Kashmir. There was a lot of jubilation over the development and people heaved a sight of relief as they had plucked out a painful 'thorn' from their body politic. Tazi Bhat was hailed and cheered as a national hero and his graph of popularity notched upto an unprecedented mark.

Says Srivar, "when the country was rid of these 'thorns', people were happy under the good administration and they occupied themselves in marriages and festivities in building good houses in dancing and processions and they thought of nothing else".

The extreme popularity and political strength of Tazi Bhatt was not savoured well by Malik Ahmad who was the Prime Minister. With a view to undermining Tazi Bhat's position he as a strategm opened channels of contact with the expelled Sayyids who had not gone to their native places but had taken shelter either with their kinsmen in Delhi or some tribal chiefs of mountainous borders of Kashmir. Malik Ahmad was encouraged and assisted in recalling the Sayyids by the queen, who happened to be the daughter of a Sayyid. The Sayyids returned to the Valley to regain and re-consolidate their old lost positions and enormous possessions. But the people got enraged and severely opposed the PM's act of recalling the Sayyids who had oppressed and virtually looted them. They termed the act of the PM as foolish and extremely unpatriotic. A prominent Muslim damar dilated on the evil consequences ensuing from the return of the hated Sayyids. Malik Ahmad had his own calculations and expected the Sayyids when back in Kashmir to act as his surrogates and flatterers.

But the Sayyids proved defter than Malik Ahmad. The moment they recovered their possessions and had them in full hold they pounced on people and their leaders to avenge their disgraceful externment. Tazi Bhatt was their main target and they had plans to imprison him and abduct his wife. But to the good luck of Tazi Bhat he was informed of the designs of Sayyids by his supporters and took shelter with the Prime Minister who happened to be his adopted father. The Muslim ruler sensed it as the formation of a new grand alliance against him and sent forces to arrest Tazi Bhatt. But the people revolted against this act of the ruler, who stopped in his tracks from arresting Tazi Bhatt, thus saving his crown and sceptre.

Though recalled to Kashmir by Malik Ahmad the revengeful Sayyids always took him as their sworn enemy. The Muslim ruler instigated by Sayyids imprisoned him and confiscated his whole lot of enormous wealth. The Sayyids without any visible rival in the field exercised full powers without check or restraint .

Records Srivar, "they became unruly after this triumph, they placed the king under their control and regarded the people of Kashmir hardly even as grass".

The Sayyids reduced the Muslim ruler to a mere puny puppet. They made him to dance to their tunes. He was just there on the throne, not even a figure head. The country was seething with discontent and indignation at the phenomenal rise of the foreigners, who had insatiable lust for power and had risen from rags to riches at the expense of the Kashmiris.

Writes Srivar, "He (King) lost all interest in the administration of the country and remained indifferent to the doings of his servants. His mind was influenced by his wife and the Sayyids..."

There was an open revolt against the Muslim ruler and his Sayyid advisers and henchmen. Winter was chosen as the timing for unleashment of revolt when it would be near impossible for the army to move about freely. The revolt was mercilessly suppressed by the army headed by the Sayyids. Conveys Srivar:-

"The army headed by the Sayyids scattered itself throughout the length and breadth of the Valley and inflicted untold atrocities on the people. The inhabitants were robbed of their domestic animals and rice and wine and other things...."

The Sayyids consolidated their power after the death of the ruler, Hassan Shah. To fill the vaccuum Sayyid Hassan installed seven year old son of his own daughter on the throne of Kashmir. The people were mortified by the absolute power that the Sayyids wielded. They were rejected as non-entities and treated with absolute disdain. Writes Srivar:-

"Haughty in their conduct and cruel in behaviour those arrogant men, urged by excessive cupidity, oppressed the people even like the messengers of death".

The Kashmiris reviled and treated as dust finally geared and girded up their loins to wage a final battle against the tyrannical and treacherous rule of the Sayyids. Saifu-ud-Din Dar, a local noble, led the uprising. A plot was organised to kill all Sayyid leaders who manned the levers of power. The fort at Naushahr was seized and Sayyid Hassan alongwith his relatives was murdered. Despite Sayyid retaliation the people's morale never got downed or dipped. The popular army captured the whole of Valley. The Sayyids with politics in their blood opened up negotiations but the leaders of the uprising rejected all such offers. They sought military aid from Sayyids in the Punjab and Delhi. The indigenous battle against the Sayyids met its waterloo because of many factors, the main factor being treachery.

Intoxicated by the victory the Sayyids indulged in extreme revelries and massive plunder of the local population, both Hindus and Muslims. Innocent and unarmed citizens  were murdered in cold blood. Learned men among the Hindus were put to the sword. Writes Srivar:-

"They fixed several heads on poles in order to strike terror into the people they placed them like rows of lamps on a piece of wood on the banks of the vitasta".

But ultimately the battle against the Sayyids fructified into a dazzling success when Jehangir Magrey took the lead of the popular army. The Sayyids were chased in the streets of the city. They were given the appellation of 'Saad makar'--the cunning Sayyids. Their properties were either confiscated or totally destroyed. The converts and their popular army showed them no mercy. Most of them were expelled from the land.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

  

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