Table of Contents
   Index
   About the Author
   Preface
   Foreword
 KASHMIR: PAST
   Kashmiri Hindus: Origin ...
   Sultan Zain-ul-abidin
   The Sayyids as Oppressors
   Chak Fanatics
   The Mughals
   The Afghans
   Sikh Rule
   Dogra Rule
 KASHMIR: PRESENT
   Post-1947 Scenario
   Jammu and Ladakh ...
   Bakhshi Ghulam Mohammad
   Ghulam Mohammad Sadiq
   Sayyed Mir Qasim
   Sheikh Abdullah Sows Seeds ...
   Farooq Abdullah ...
   Ghulam Mohammad Shah ...
   Rajiv-Farooq Accord
   Proxy War Declared
   Muslim Fundamentalism
   Terrible Plight of Minorities 
   13th November, 1991
   Epilogue
   Appendix
   Download Book 

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

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CHAPTER TWO

Sultan Zain-ul-abidin

(1420-70 A.D.)

Worst kind of fanaticism and religious bigotry brought about an end to a well founded culture and civilisation and the region of Kashmir fell to its hands. The paradise (that Kashmir was) was profoundly wounded, nay decimated, not by the Arab legions led by Bin Qasim but by the legions of Sultan Sikander and Sultan Ali Shah. What Bin Qasim was to Sindh, Sikander and Ali Shah were to Kashmir.

It is a recognised fact of history that Zain-ul-abidin was the author of a new chapter of tolerance, mutual good-will and co- existence in the history of Kashmir. He failed his father by not adhering to the atrocious precedent of religious persecution leading to a blood-soaked catastrophe. Nor was he myopic, narrow minded and fired with religious sectarianism. Be it said, "His reign shines out as a sparkling gem amidst the narrow-minded and short sighted rulers of his time''.l Anand Koul Bamzai records, "In the world around him he could have found little to help him. He was a potentate encouraged to be tyrannical and selfish by tradition and especially by the example of his father, Sikander. Zain-ul-abidin was deservedly surnamed Bud Shah or Great King."2

Zain-ul-abidin allowed the Kashmirian Hindus, who had stood the hurricane of the Islamic zealots, to breathe and live without subjecting them to terror and tyranny. He was gracious enough to send messengers to various corners of India inviting the Kashmirian Hindus, who had fled their land of genesis, to return to Kashmir. He allowed the Hindus to burn their dead on payment of a nominal tax, which also was withdrawn and abolished at the behest of 'Srivar, Bud Shah's court historian and musician, who had to pay it at the time of the cremation of his close relative3.' At the behest of Shirya Bhat, who happened to cure the Sultan of a fatal boil, the Hindus were allowed to take to education and join the services for earning livelihood without discriminating them. He allowed them to celebrate their festivals and religious ceremonies without any let or hindrance. 'Srivar records that the Sultan erected two temples for the Hindus and also renovated the ones that were plundered and damaged by the religious vandals4. He proved large-hearted to settle the cases of the Hindus in consonance with their laws and customs. He revoked the ban on dance, drama, music, painting and other artistic and aesthetic pursuits of the Hindus.

Following the suggestion of Shirya Bhat, the Sultan revived the tradition of historiography, which had suffered a hiatus from the date Kalhan had left it. Jonraj and Shrivar, his courtiers, read out the Hindu scriptures especially the Yoga-vashista to their munificent patron, thus awakening him to spiritual yearnings.6 Highly impressed by the Hindu view on God, man and the world, the Sultan got some Hindu scriptures, which had escaped the wrath of his father, translated into Persian.7 He repealed the Jazia (poll-tax), which the Hindus had to pay in a state ruled by the Muslims.

The policy of tolerance, good-will and co-existence pursued by Bud Shah as the policy of the state was outrageously denounced and hated by the Muslim fanatics, who were not stamped out but enjoyed patronage from the Muslim institutions. He was condemned as one who had revived idolatory in Kashmir.8 He was denounced as be-din9 (infidel) for having allowed the Hindus to pursue their modes of worship. He was accused of lending a new lease of life to the Hindu infidelity (kufur) by having called them back to their ancestral land. The Muslims accused him of patronising 'crowds of infidels and tribes of polytheists'.l0 There was a sudden dip in his popularity graph when he protected the gold image of Buddha from destruction at the hands of Muslim vandals. A lot of resentment got generated against him when he got Sayyid Ali (Saidal) paraded through the streets of his capital for his atrocious crime of killing an innocent yogi dressed in saffron robes. He having repaired some Hindu temples vandalised by his father had to encounter stiff opposition from the Muslim zealots, who rued the day when he as the son of a vadaliser came to the throne only to undo the things his father had already accomplished with real Islamic zeal and zest.

As he was firmly saddled in power, no coup could be organised against him. In his death, the Hindus lost an incarnation of Vi'snu (Naranarayan), 11 who had granted them peace without much of torture and the Muslims lost 'Bhatta Shah', the King of the Kashmirian Hindus. Be it said that the Muslims out of sheer dis-approval of his policy stances unto the Kashmirian Hindus maligned him by surnaming him as 'Bhatta Shah'.

Sultan Haider Shah (1470-72)

The trail of 'justice and generosity', 'peace and tolerance' and 'goodwill and co-existence' as blazed by Sultan Zain-ul-abidin did not prove of much import and significance to the Hindu- baiters, who were instinctively bent upon extirpating infidelity from Kashmir. The fanatical elements lying low in the heyday of Bud Shah could not achieve notable successes in preventing him from putting his state on the pedestal of justice and tolerance. But his demise suddenly led to chaos and confusion in the land of Kashmir. Sayyids responsible for playing havoc with the Hindus and wounding the Kashmirian Hindu polity continued to be in corridors of power, but could not carry on with their policy of fire and sword because of Bud-Shah's full hold and command over the state machine. The rulers succeeding Bud-Shah were by and large weak, usually prone to be misled into undesirable channels by their unscrupulous councillors and ministers. Sultan Haider Shah was one such ruler, who was advised by his barber to put to death the same noble, who had managed the throne for him.

Haider Shah given to bouts of drinking and spending much of his time in the company of beautiful damsels proved ferocious for the Kashmirian Hindus. On the advice of his barber, he committed atrocities on the Kashmirian Hindus. Accused of re-importing practices of infidels, Haider Shah only to disprove the content of accusations took to harassing, torturing and killing of the Hindus with impunity. Having lost their patience, the Kashmirian Hindus got collected in good numbers and set fire to some mosques, which were built on temple plinths or erected with temple materials.l2 The uprising was suppressed by looting, killing and drowning the Kashmirian Hindus. The Sultan given to drinking carouses could not bear with the fact of the Hindu rebels damaging the Mosque of Mir Ali Hamadani, which was built on the plinth of the Kalishree Temple. He issued an atrocious government decree to chop off the noses and ears of all Kashmirian Hindus wherever they be and whatever their station in life was.

As a matter of consequence, the Hindus everywhere were forcibly caught and their noses, ears and arms brutally chopped off. The Hindus working in the court of Haider Shah were not spared either. They were subjected to the same brutal treatment.l3 There were thousands of brave Hindus, who braved this savagery and brutality. But there were many others, who cried in pain and agony "Na Bhatto aham - I am not a Kashmiri Hindu."14 The brutal onslaught on the Hindus was accompanied by loot, rape and arson.

Records Shrivara, "Nona Deva, Jaya and Bhima and others were maimed.... They struggled and finally jumped into the Vitasta river.... the arms, noses and ears were cut off even of those Hindus who were working in the court and were King's servants''.l5

Notes and References

1. PNK Bamzai, History of Kashmir, P 330.  2. PNK Bamzai, History of Kashmir.  3. 'Srivara, Rajtarangini.  4. Ibid.  5. Ibid.  6. "Introducing Jonraj," Prof. M.L. Kaul. published in Daily Martand, Srinagar.  7. Ibid.  8. Baharistan-i-Shahi, MS F23a.  9. Tuhfat-ul-Ahbad, MSF 106a.  10. Baharistan-i-Shahi; quoted from Prof. S.K. Koul's Introduction to Jonraj.  11. Jonraj, Rajtarangini.  12. Hasan, Tarikh-i-Kashmir.  13. Shrivara, Zaina Rajtarangini.  14. Koul, S.K. Prof., Introduction to Jonraj.  15. Shrivara, Zaina Rajtarangini.

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