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Sun Worship in Kashmir

by Prof. M.L. Koul

The sun-god is in essence is a Vedic god and its reverential worship has been widely prevalent throughout including Kashmir. In the Rig-veda we find a web of mythology woven around the sun-god known as Aditi. During the upanishadic era the sun-worship had assumed tremendous significance and the Chamdogya upanishad is replete with references to the sun-worship as it created life and also nourished it. In the Mahabharata the sun-god attained a sweeping sovereign status and in some respects was deemed more significant than most other gods in the Hindu pantheon. The sun-worship was so pervasive that massive temples were built in honour of the sun-god. The magnificent Konark temple, built in the eleventh century A.D. testifies to the importance and prevalence of the sun-god worship.

The sun-worship touched a new height during the reign of King Harsha. In his court, an eminent writer Banabhata, has made a specific reference to Harsha's father, who was an ardent devotee of sun-god and offered its worship as a matter of regular practice. Kalhana's Rajatarangini equally establishes that the sun-worship was prevalent in Kashmir too. As Kashmir had been a crucible of numerous cultural traditions and trends, the sun-god was worshipped alongwith a litany of religious gods and icons connected with Buddhism, Shaivism and Vaishnavism. As per Kalhana, a ruler named Ranaditya as a devotee had built a sun-temple at a place known as 'Simharotsika'. The temple was said to be grand, massive and exemplary in terms of art. He has made a mention of another sun-temple, known world over as Martand. This temple is built on an elevated plateau in natural ambience in the vicinity of Mattan in Anantnag.

The temple was made to perfection by Lalitaditya, who besides being a conqueror was a great builder. Martand as a temple has been evaluated as the 'germ of Indian architecture', which set a trend in the contemporary temple architecture. The temple caused amazing wonder to medieval fanatic Zealot Sultan Sikander, who set up a government department to destroy it by the use of gun-powder. The hamlet of Mattan which has been of great religious importance to the Hindus all over India has been traditionally known as the 'Surya tirth', a place of sun-pilgrimage. After Mattan, second in importance was Kwalkhetra, not far away from Srinagar. Here Pandits would go on pilgrimage for sun-worship and for a purificatory bath to wash off worldly sins. As per Nilmatpurana, there were eight places exclusively meant for sun-worship in Kashmir. The temples built at the places were known as Aryaman Arka, Divakar, Surya , Savitra, Martand etc, all these words are synonyms of the word sun. Kashmiri Pandits still stick to a number of rituals, which are directly related to sun-workshipr

KASHMIRI LANGUAGE

The Kashmiri Pandit scholars who were intimately connected with Dr George Grierson were not at all in agreement with his formulations about the origins of Kashmiri language. There were many other European scholars like Ralph Turner, Joules Block, Stenkonow and George Morgenhtierna, who openly flouted the observations made by Grierson. The fundamental word-hoard of Kashmiri language, its syntax, its noun and verb forms and more than most words related to agricultural processes and names of implements used during such operations owe their origin to Sanskritic word-hoard. Dr Grierson has placed Kashmiri in the Dardic group of dialects and subdialects. These, as per him, are intermediate to the Indo-Aryan and Iranian groups of languages. Stenkonow and Joule Block have placed the Dardic languages or dialects within the Indo-Aryan group of languages and not in the Iranian cluster of languages. Even the very word 'Dard' is itself a Sanskritic word and as a language is a metamorphosed form of old Vedic Sanskrit Languages Chitrali, Kafri, Shina, Kashmiri and Kohistani are the Dardic group of languages,which in terms of linguistics are directly related to Paischachi, which is a recognised prakrit, having a sufficient quanta of litterature.

According to Hornley, Pashachi is a Dravidian prakrit, but Purshotamdeva and Dr Gune as experts consider it a metamorphosed form of Sanskrit and Shaursemi prakrit. It is pertinent to put that Dr TN Ganjoo under the able guidance of Dr RK Sharma, former HoD of Hindi, Kashmir University, has thoroughly researched the subject and established the origin of Kashmiri language to the Vedic Sanskrit. Dr Grierson had colonialist imperatives in distorting the origins of Kashmiri language in a region, which was being eyed by British Imperial government for imperialist designs. Dr Grierson, whose presumptions were accepted uncritically, was equally unaware of the fact that the literature of Kashmiri language pre-dated fourteenth century and references in this behalf, which are of extreme relevance are available from the works of Abhinavagupta, Bilhana, Kalhana.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

  

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