Lal Ded and Kashmiri Chroniclers
by P.N. Kachru
The Indian tradition in chronicle writing would have suffered from a
great vacuum but for the genius of the lone ranger named Kalhan Pandit of
the mid-twelfth century Kashmir. While honouring his lone leadership in the
tradition of Indian historiography, Kalhana too has not been able to prove
himself to be a dispassionate surveyor as behoven of an ideal chronicler and
historiographer. Although he has thrown light on an assortment of clans and
groups who wielded power, intrigued and conspired, but at the same time he
has remained aloof and unobservant of the mainstream evolution of the
society and its development of socio-intellectual thought. The luminaries
and philosophers who founded, propagated, built and broadened the
socio-cultural vision of the society, have remained obliterated from
Kalhana's chronicleship. No doubt stray references to Kshemendra's Nripavali
and mere passing mention of Anandavardhana and Ratnakara, it leaves an ocean
of history in oblivion. The emergence of mighty movement of Kashmiri
philosopher and thinkers who, not only founded the values of Sarvastivaad
and Madhyamika movement, but also laid its foundations in Central
Asian, Tibetan and West Chinese regions. As many as eighty philosophers and
scholars have been identified who have founded the movements in these
regions, while hundreds of them have revolutionized the Kashmirian society.
Not to speak of only such scholars who enriched the Buddhist thought, but
also those who led a thousand BC old Paashupata and Kaalamukha
thought to the highest pinnacles of Shaivic philosophy. The great geniuses
and seers like Vasugupta, and Utplacharya and the founder of Shaivic
philosophy, Somanandanatha, have not found any place in Kalhana's chronicle.
Even the world genius like Abhinauguptapaada, who created history in the
neighbourhood times of the chronicler, does not find any place in
Rajatarangini.However. Kalhana's to a greater extent his impartial approach
towards the events of history is the chief ornament, which his followers
have brazenfacedly done with and, instead have become the committed
chroniclers of court intrigues, partisans and prejudicial commentators on
Jona Raj (1459 AD), the neighbour-historian of Lal Ded, while surveying
through the leaves of his Dvitiya Rajatarangini, does not even mention her
name who had left her mortal frame only a few years before. On the other
hand, for his obvious commitments, could spare his page to Nundarishi who
was a mere toddler during the concluding years of Lal Ded's life. Jona Raj
states 'Malls Noordeen yawanaanaam paramagurum'-the chiefest guru of
Muslims, on whom imprisonment was imposed by the King Sultan Ali Shah
during 1413-16 AD. Shrivara, in his Zaina Rajatarangini (1459 - 86 AD),
Prajyabhat in his Rajavalipataka (1486 - 1513 AD) and his pupil Shuka in his
Rajatarangini, all of them have remained discriminatingly unobservant of
this genius of the times. These historians cannot be left uncensored for
their negligence towards the culture of the land.
The Persian chronicles like Tarikh-i-Rashidi (1546 AD) of Mirza Duglat,
Baharistan-i-Shahi (1614 AD), Tarikh-i-Kashmir (1617-18 AD) of Haider Malik
of Chadura, all these have followed the foot steps of their Sanskrit
historians who preceded them by remaining discretely silent over the life of
Lal Ded. Her personality became a direct victim of the mutilation through a
prejudicial interpretation that originated from a factual incident quoted by
Jona Raj in his Rajatarangini. He writes that dining a hunting programme in
the forests, Prince Shihab-ud-Din was confronted by a group of three
yoginis. The chief of them (nayika) came forward and offered the
prince a cupful of wine. Almost all the subsequent chroniclers carry on with
the tale through the pages of their histories, wherein a leading yogini
offers a cupful to the Sultan; but these authors change the contents of the
cup either into juice or milk, thus hiding the fact and saving the Sultan
from the exposure of having committed an un-Islamic act. Mirza Duglat in his
Tarikh-i-Rashidi (1546 AD), remains discretely silent on the issue while
Baharistan-i-Shahi (1614 AD) turns the cup of wine into a cup of juice.
Later on another historian, Hyder Malik of Chadura, in his Tarikh-i-Kashmir
(1617-18 AD) changes the cup of juice into a cup of milk. Furthermore, these
expressions of theirs exhibit their ignorance and blindness to the
knowledge, not knowing that the wine being one of the prime accessories for
consecration in the shakta practice and worship. It becomes glaringly
obvious that these historians, while interfering with the history, projected
their prejudices and fundamentalist feelings in belying, misshaping and
mutilating the events.
This process of mishandling and mutilation proceeded further ravageously.
The meeting of a yogini with the Sultan is turned, as late as in
mid-seventeenth century, into the meeting in the forest with Lal Ded
herself. Baba Dawood Mishakati in his Asrar-ul-abraar (1654 AD), narrates
that Sultan Alla-ud-Din's elder son, Shihab-ud-Din, during his hunting tour
into the forest, met with Lal Ded who, on occasions, would roam into the
forest. She asked Shihab-ud-Din and his three colleagues to rest a while,
and offering him (the Sultan) a cupful of juice, which she got through
nowhere. Further down the years another historian, Narayan Kaul Ajiz in his
Muntakhib-ul-Tawareekh (1710 AD) remains discretely silent on this event.
Rafi-ud-Din Gafil, in his Navadir-e-Akhbar (1723 AD), repeats the episodes
of the forest but instead that of Lal Ded mentions the appearance of a
saintly woman from nowhere.
This craft of manipulative chronicleship continued to slip down the mire
and groped through the darkness for the stories like the meeting between Lal
Ded and Mir Sayyed Ali Hamadani. No doubt, Khwaja Azam Dedmari in his
Waqiyat-e-Kashmir (1735-36) has referred to the story, but thanks to him and
his investigative method, the Khwaja declared that after inquiry and
investigation, the story could not be proved out to be correct.
Despite this authenticative declaration of Azam Dedmari in mid-18th
century, it was as late as in mid-19th century that Birbal Kachroo in his
Majmua-al-Tawaiikh described the meeting of Lal Ded and Mir Sayyed Ali
Hamadani in a bazaar, and also stated the former's plunge into the flaming
oven of a nearby baker.
Although the statements of Birbal Kachroo are flimsy enough to stand the
tests of inquiry established by his predecessor Azam Dedmari only hundred
years before him, it becomes necessary on our part to put Kachroo's
statements to proper analysis and to a thorough dissection in order to
straighten the events. The historian's statement creates an additional alarm
and curiosity, as it was for the first time after more than four hundred and
fifty years that the event was revealed to the author, though bereft of any
proof of historic investigation.
Firstly, almost all the earlier chronicles starting from Jona
Rajatarangini down to mid-17th century, have remained
silent about Lal Ded, it was first of all in Asrar-ul Abrar in 1654 AD
that Baba Dawood Mishkati replaces the name of the nayika of the
forest with the name of Lal Ded. Again, later on, Narain Kaul Ajiz (1710
AD), Azam Dedmari (1736.AD) and Mohammad. Aslam, till late 18th century have
remained silent on the issue of the meeting with Mir Sayyed Ali
Hamadani. Therefore Birbal Kachroo’s statement stands unrelated and
Secondly, the dating of contemporaneity also does not indicate any
synchronization. Excepting the statement of Azam Dedmari, all the
chroniclers have relied either o approximations or their surmises; and,
therefore, cannot be relied upon. The only categoric and precise statement
of her death is from Dedmari stating that Lal Ded passed away during the
rule of Sultan Shihab-ud-Din that lasted from 1355 to 1373 AD. Even taking
the concluding year of Sultan's rule as the year of Lal Ded's year of death,
and corresponding to this very year (1373 AD) Mir Sayyed Ali Hamadani was in
the process of movement, along with his seven hundred associates, to enter
Kashmir valley for taking refuge from Taimur's tyrannical tests of riding
the blazing metal horse. So there could not be any possibility of his
meeting with Lal Ded, she just then having left her mortal frame. This
analysis of dating further lends strength to Dedmari's investigative
Thirdly, probing further into the datings, the stay of Mir Sayyed Ali
Hamadani, as documented by late Professor Jaya Lal Kaul, was from 1380 to
1386 AD. This statement of Professor Kaul further widens the gap of time
between Lal Ded and Mir Sayyed Ali Hamadani.
My reliability on the two sources-Dedmari's Tarikh-I-Kashmir and late
Professor Jaya Lal Kaul's book on Lal Ded-is based, in the first case, on
author's decisive and categoric statement about precise period and, in
second case, for late Professor's dispassionate observance and study of
documents as an observer and an outsider to the happenings of history and
its documentations. Not only this, the late Professor stands out, till
today, the lone ranger who has stood firm to set right the record of
fictitious chronicleship, of which Lal Ded became a direct victim.
Rajatarangini shloka 348.
use the Persian word afifah, which means a spiritual lady.
calls it kasir-e-sharbati.
it as kasir-e-shir.
6. And not
as originally stated by Jonaraja.
author's actual statement runs thus: "…………Dar aan zamaan Saltanti opisari
mehtar ki Shahaab-ud-din bood dar jangle azmurh daur-e- shikaar me
raft, dar aan zamaan Lalla Arifa gah gah dar dashto bayaabaan megushata
roz-e-dar aan shikaar gaah ba-Shahaab-ud-din mulaaqat shod ……."
az alam namudaar shud"
arbaabi tehqiq saabit na shud"
Ded", by Prof. Jaya Lal Kaul, Sahitya Akademi publication.