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'Sancha'-Ancient Treatise of Himachal Pradesh

- A Glorious Gift from Kashmir

By Upender Ambardar

In the times bygone Kashmir excelled in many spheres of art, literature and culture, in which it achieved great heights.

The cross Cultural-religious strands that stretched between Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh successfully withstood the centuries old time-wrap and refused to fade-away into oblivion. Apart from the natural brilliance of the landscapes, both states share the deep rooted faith of the people in the time tested traditions, belief systems and ancient wisdom, which are enshrined in the holy scriptures. They form an integral part of our common heritage.

The ancient Sancha scripture of Himachal Pradesh is an illustrious example of the same. It is a combination of Jyotish and tantric knowledge. Even today, in the present scientific age, this ancient priceless knowledge is quite popular in Shimla, Sirmour and Solan areas of Himachal Pradesh. The 'Sancha Granth' is believed to have travelled to Himachal Pradesh from Kashmir hundreds of years back. The present day custodians of this ancient legacy, who are natives of Himachal Pradesh are believed to be the descendants of Kashmiri Brahmans. The 'Sancha' treatise is a unique combination of 'Mantra (sacred incantations), 'Yantra' (hallowed implements) and 'Tantra' (mystical hymns or invocations). The scripts of Sancha treatise are known by the names of 'Bhatakshri' or 'Pabuchi', which are Himachali variations of 'Shardha', the ancient language of Kashmir. In earlier times, the said script was also known as 'Takri'.

In Himachal Pradesh, in addition to 'Bhatakshri' and 'Pabuchi', the ancient 'Takri' dialect has survived in many resembling forms like 'Chambyali', 'Kalluvi' Mandyali' and 'Sirmouri' etc., which are the present day spoken dialects of Chamba, Kallu Mandi and Sirmour areas of Himachal Pradesh. In earlier times, the scholarly and learned Himachali Brahmans were known as 'Pabuch' due to their demonstrative grip and hold over the ancient 'Sancha' knowledge.

The 'Sancha' growth deals with a wide range of topics ranging from necromancy, black magic fall-out from the witchcraft, occult effects and negative influences of evil spirits besides demonology. The 'Sancha' text offers solutions and remedies to the persons who are troubled by the negative influences of the above. In addition to it, all those persons, who are saddled by anxieties and worries arising out of afflictions by various ailments can find health assuring remedies by consulting 'Sancha' system.

The 'Sancha' treatise also guarantees a triumph over one's 'hidden' enemies by recitation of certain 'mantras' i.e. secret incantations.

Its help is also sought in adopting a religious recourse to the matters connected with almost all the Hindu Sanskars right from birth to death. In addition to it, 'Sancha' knowledge also aids in the recovery of stolen items by giving clues and hints about the identity of the thief, the time of the occurrence of the theft and number of persons involved in the act. An accurate and exact knowledge of the auspicious timing or 'Hora' is also possible by consulting 'Sancha' text.

The word 'Sancha' owes it's origin to the Sanskrit word 'Sanch' or 'Sanchai', which means a repository or a compilation.

The Brahmans well-versed with the 'Sancha' knowledge are called 'Pabuch' or 'Baat'. In addition to 'Pabuchi' or 'Bhatakshri' dialects, the 'Sancha' texts are also found in 'Chandvani', 'Pandvani' and 'Butakhshri' dialects.

The script employed by the Brahmans of the 'Panda' sect is called 'Pandvani', while as the inscription used by the Brahmans of the 'Bhat' sect is known by the name of 'Bhatakshri'. According to a legend, an ancient ruler of the erstwhile Sirmour Kingdom came under the spell of a curse by a female dancer.

As a consequence, the capital of the ancient kingdom of Sirmour was completely submerged under water and the royalty became kingless.

Depressed by the loss of entire royal clan and to ensure a new heir to the Sirmour throne, two ministers of the Kingdom namely Roymoan and Roy Gopal are said to have travelled all the way from Sirmour to Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir in the eleventh century A.D.

The two Sirmour ministers are believed to have requested the then Kashmir King to send a Kashmiri Prince, who can take charge of the Sirmour Kingdom.

According to the legend, out of the two queens of the then Kashmiri King, one had an adopted son, whileas the second one named Sumitra was in a family way at that time. In pursuance of the then prevalent bestowal of alms custom, the King of Kashmir agreed to send his pregnant queen in the form of 'Shaya Daan' to the princely state of Sirmour. In furtherance of it and to facilitate the subsequent coronation of the Kashmiri Prince as a King of Sirmour, the queen Sumitra of Kashmir went to Sirmour. She was accompanied by a host of Rishis, saints, learned Brahmans, bards, artists and ministrels, in addition to numerous footmen and domestics. The accompanying Kashmiri Brahmans are said to have carried with them their prized possession the 'Sancha' knowledge system. In the historical documents of Himachal, this notable event is recorded in the following lines "Loia Aana Mangtoo, Purohit Sath Loia Aana Raoy Baat Loia Aana Vikram Samvat Saat thi todi 1152 Mahina Magh." It fully affirms and supports the historical fact that the carriers of the 'Sancha' treatise or knowledge to Himachal Pradesh were none other than the Kashmiri Pandits. Corresponding to the above Vikram Samvat, the exact year of the said event can be said to be 1095 AD.

The Kashmiri origin of the 'Sancha' treatise is further collaborated by the fact that even today before consulting the 'Sancha' text, Himachali Brahmans pay obeisance to Kashmir in the following lines, "Vidhya Suri Kashmiri Lagan dekh Shodan Vichar".

The Sancha Granth has a detailed information about astrology, planetary placements, interpretation of Zodiac and planetary movements. Based on the intricate knowledge of 'Sancha Granth', the 'Pabuchi' scholars prepare a local variation of almanac (Jantri) called 'Chri'. The three important components of 'Chri' are 'Var' i.e. day of the week or an occasion, 'Tithi' i.e. a lunar day or date and the planetary movements and their positions.

The 'Chiri' is based on the solar planetary system, which regards Baisakhi as the first day of the New Year. To get solutions, answers and remedies for the different paradoxes that rock the day to day life, the 'Sancha' text is always consulted for the required help. Resembling a gambling dice, the 'pasha' or 'pasa' is employed in deciphering the required information from the 'Sancha' text. The 'pasha' or 'pasa' has an inscription of four numerical digits marked as 0,00,000 and 0000, which have the corresponding numerical strength of 1,2,3 and 4 respectively.

These numerical digits are marked on the individual pages separately. Each numerical digit with an individual value of sixteen 'Horas' make a sum total of sixty four 'Horas', with one 'Hora' being equal to one twenty fourth part of a day.

The 'Pashas' or 'Pasa' are specially prepared only on auspicious days and involve elaborate religious rituals. The different 'Horas' that are in-vogue in the 'Sancha Granth' are known as 'Kaalgaymi Hora', 'Bhoot Prashan Hora', 'Lagan Ki Hora' and 'Tithi Ki Hora' etc. The square shaped 'pasha' or 'pasa' is usually made up of an elephant tooth, being 1 to 2 inches in length and with a width of a finger.

According to a belief in Sirmour area, the 'Yantra' and 'Lagans' made from the soil brought from the village Chanan, give better results while consulting Sancha' text. The Brahmans engaged in the 'Sancha' profession take every care to maintain the knowledge secrecy and imparting of it's knowledge is confined only within the family.

The Kashmiri origin of the 'Sancha' text has also been acknowledged by Sh. Sudershan Vashisht, who is a well known author and researcher of Himachal Pradesh and has done note-worthy research work in this direction.

The ancient and precious Sancha texts are also found in tehsil Chopal, tehsil Shilayi and Chakrota area of Uttar Pradesh.

Pandit Om Prakash and Pandit Devi Ram, the native Brahmans of the village Khadanka in Sirmour are experts in Sancha knowledge and it's system.

Another Brahman named Pandit Shivanand, a resident of the village Janloag in Sirmour has also thorough knowledge of 'Sancha' texts. He makes accurate predictions based on it's knowledge. Pt. Mohan Lal, a native of the village Dehar in Sirmour is a well-known name due to his thorough and intimate Sancha knowledge.

Undoubted, 'Sancha' is an ancient and sacred 'knowledge of Kashmiri origin, which is a historical cultural heritage. It is a glorious part of our rich past and a proud contribution of Kashmiri Brahmans, who have left an indelible mark on the pages of history.

Source: Kashmir Sentinel

 
 

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