Vol. I, No. 3
ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF KASHMIRI CULTURE:
Project to be launched soon by NSKRI
Yet another pioneering work of great
importance is being undertaken by N. S. Kashmir Research Institute shortly in
the shape of preparation of an encyclopaedia of Kashmir culture. A major project
of the Institute, the enclyclopaedia will cover the whole gamut of Kashmir's
cultural, artistic, philosophical religious and literary traditions. This will
include architecture, sculpture, folk art, festivals, rituals as well as
performing arts like music, dance, folk and classical theatre, in fact
everything that constitutes the basic weave of the Kashmir's thousands of years
old rich cultural heritage.
Top ranking scholars in various fields of
Kashmir studies will be approached and involved in this ambitious project and
entrusted with preparation of material of different subjects.
A committee of these scholars will be
formed and requested to go into all aspects of the project and prepare an
exhaustive outline of the contents. It is only after receiving the report of the
committee that experts will commence work on the compilation of the
encyclopaedia. A meeting of the scholars' committee will be soon called to
discuss how best the project can be started.
Though no time-frame has been fixed for
the completion of the stupendous work, it is hoped that the first volume of the
proposed encyclopaedia will come out in about three or four years. When
completed the encyclopaedia is expected to be of great help to all scholars and
researchers interested in exploring and studying various aspects of five
thousand years of Kashmir's cultural past.
[In their every day prayers to Sarasvati,
Hindus in South India respectfully refer to Kashmir as the abode of the Goddess
of Learning Recited by millions in the country, the Sharda Stotram or the Hymn
to Goddess Sharda begins with the famous line. "Namaste Sharda Devi Kashmir
Puravasini" reflecting the reverence in which Kashmir is held even today
for its contribution to learning and literature. We are extremely thankful to
Shri C. V. Gopinath, an eminent scholar, for giving us beautiful verse to verse
translation of the Stotram together with its full text in both Devanagri and the
Roman scripts, which we are reproducing below. Shri Gopinath is also Deputy
Director General, Telecom Commission.]
namaste sarade devi Kashmir -
tvamaham prarthayer nityam vidyadanam ca dehi me (1)
namah - salutation; te - to you; sarade- O
Sarasvati: devi -O Devi Kasmira- puravasini - one who resides in the city of
Kasmira; tvam - you; aham - I; prarthayer-pray to; nityam - always;
vidya-danam-gift of knowledge; ca - and; dehi- give; me - to me
O Goddess Sarasvati in the shrine of
Sarada Pitha in Kashmira, I offer my salutation to you. I pray always to you to
give me the gift of knowledge.
yasraddha dhyarana medha vagdevi
bhaktajihva grasadana samadigunadayini (2)
ya- which; sraddha- faith; dharana- the
power of retention; medha - the power of memory; vagdevi- goddess of speech;
vidhi- vallabha-the consort of Lord Brahma; bhakta-jihvagra-sadana- the one who
dwells at the tip of the tongue of devotees; samadi-guna-dayini- one who grants
qualities like mastery over the mind.
You are the faith, the power of retention
[of what is learned] and the power of memory. You are the goddess of speech. You
are the consort of Lord Brahma. You dwell at the tip of the tongue of devotees.
You are the one who grants qualities like mastery over the mind (to your
namami yaminim nathalekhalankrta
bhavanim bhavasantapanirvapanasudhanadim (3)
namami-I salute; yaminim-the one who has
mastery of everything; natha- lekhalnkrta-kuntalam- one whose hair is done to
the liking of Lord Brahma; bhavanim-Parvati; bhava-santa-
panirvapana-sudha-nadim-one who is the river Ganga that extinguishes the fire of
the afflictions of samsara.
I salute you, who has mastery of
everything, whose hair is done to the liking of Lord Brahma, who is Parvati and
who is the jnana-ganga that extinguishes the fire of the afflictions of samsara.
bhadrakalyani namo nityam
sarasvatyani namo namah
vedavedangavedantavidyasthanebhya eva ca (4)
bhadrakalyai-to Goddess Durga; namah
-salutation; nityam-always; sarasvatyani- to Goddess Sarasvati; namo namah-
repeated salutations veda-vedanga - vedanta- vidyasthanebhyah- to the abode of
knowledge such as Vedas, Vedangas and Vedanta; eva ca-also
My salutation to Goddess Durga always My
repeated salutations to goddess Sarasvati who is the abode of knowledge such as
Vedas, Vedangas and Upanisads.
brahmasvarupa parama jyotirupa
sarvaidyadhidevi ya tasyai vanyai namo namah (5)
brahmasvarupa - whose nature is Brahman;
parama- who is supreme; jyotirupa - whose form is the light of knowledge;
sanatani- eternal; sarva- vidya-adhidevi-the presiding deity of all knowledge;
ya- who; tasyani- to her; vanyai - to Sarasvati; namo namah repeated
My repeated salutations to Sarasvati whose
nature is Brahman, who is supreme, whose form is the light of knowledge, who is
the presiding deity of all knowledge and who is eternal.
yaya vina jagtsravam sasvaj
inanadhidevi ya tasyai sarasvatyainamo namah (6)
yaya-vina- without whom; jagat-savam - the
entire world; sasval - for ever; jivan - living; mrtanl - dead; bhavet - would
become; jnanadhidevi - who is the presiding deity of knowledge; ya - who; tasyai-
to her; sarasvatyai- to sarasvati, namo namah - my repeated salutations.
My repeated salutations to goddess
Sarasvati, who is the presiding deity of knowledge and without whom the entire
world of living beings would become like dead for ever.
yaya vina jagatsarvam mukamun -
ya devi vagdhisthatri tasyai vanyai namo namah (7)
yaya vina - without whom; jagat - sarvam -
the entire world; mukam - dumb; unmattavat- like mad; sada- always; ya - who;
devi - goddess; vak-adhisthatri - the presiding deity of speech; tasyai - to
her; vanyai- to Sarasvati; namo namah- My repeated salutations
My repeated salutations to Sarasvati who
is the presiding deity of speech, without whom the entire world would be like
mute and mad for ever.
Pandit Ishwar Kaul
"Panini of Kashmir"
[ Pandit Ishwar Kaul assured for
himself an esteemed place in the galaxy of Kashmiri scholars by giving Kashmiri
its first grammar - the 'Kashmir Shabdamrita'. Written in Sanskrit after the
manner of the great Sanskrit grammarian Panini, Ishwar Kaul's treatise on
Kashmiri grammatical forms bears testimony to his profound study of the
language. He also pioneered lexico- graphical work on Kashmiri, though death
prevented him from completing his 'Kashmiri and Sanskrit Kosha'. While
presenting here a profile of the great scholar, we regret we have not been able
to procure his photograph despite our best efforts. We have, however, tried to
compensate for it by publishing a photograph of the front cover of his
monumental work the 'Kashmir Shabdamrita.' ]
The 19th century saw the Kashmiri Pandit
community throw up giants in the field of learning and letters. Contacts with
the West set into motion processes that led to an intellectual ferment in
Kashmir, inspiring the Pandits to rediscover and reinterpret their past and
undertake new and challenging scholastic ventures mostly in collaboration with
Western scholars, but also independently. Among the titans of the age who
chartered an independent course ror themselves was Pandit Ishwar Kaul (IK) of
Born on 4th July, 1833 in a family deeply
steeped in Sanskrit lore, IK lost his father, Pandit Ganesh Kaul, when he was
just three years old. He first studied under Pandit Tikkaram Razdan, who was one
of the most renowned Sanskrit Pandits of that time. Later IK learned from Pandit
Daya Krishna Jyotishi of Benares who had come to Jammu in the service ol
Maharaja Ranbir Singh of Jammu and Kashmir. Equally proficient in Sanskrit and
Persian, IK was also fairly conversant with Arabic. These credentials were
enough for the Maharaja to offer him the assignment in 1861 of translating
Persian and Arabic works in his library into Sanskrit and 'Bhasha' (Hindi). Ten
years later, in 1871, IK was appointed the Head Teacher at the Sanskrit
Pathshala opened by Maharaja Ranbir Singh in Srinagar.
Kashmiri Pandits are known to have have a
penchant for producing works of grammar, as is proved by the several grammatical
treatise they authored on Sanskrit. The earliest grammar of Tibetan was composed
by a Kashmiri Pandit, and so was the first Gujrati grammar. IK continued the
tradition by writing the first grammar of the Kashmiri language, a brilliant
work about which George Grierson wrote: "It is an excellent work and might
have been composed by the Hemachandra himself." Modeled on the great
Panini's 'Ashtadhyayi' and written in Sanskrit, IK's 'Kashmir Shabdamrita'
reveals his perfect knowledge of the linguistic structure of Kashmiri. Edited by
Grierson with "additions and notes", the work was published by the
Asiatic Society in 1897. IK, however, is said to have composed it in 1875, or,
perhaps in 1874, as his son Anand Kaul believed, and revised and improved in
IK was also a pioneer lexicographer in
Kashmiri, even though his Kashmiri- Sanskrit Kosha remained half-complete due to
his death. Grierson compiled his four volume dictionary of the Kashmiri language
from the materials from IK's fragmentary Kosha, compiling it with the assistance
of Pandit Mukundram Shastri and Prof. Nityanand Shastri and publishing it in
1932. Ishwar Kaul "never lived to complete, much less revise, his Kosha",
writes Grierson in the preface to his dictionary.
It goes to the credit of IK that he was
the first to use the Devanagri script for transcribing Kashmiri words both in
his grammar and his dictionary. He expressed typical Kashmiri vowel sounds by
using diacritic marks, mainly the horizontal bar and the 'halanta'. Grierson,
and later Master Zinda Kaul and Prof. S. K. Toshkhani used the Devanagari
characters for Kashmiri with a more elaborate system of diacritical notation.
In the year 1881, IK was made Director of
Translation Department of the Jammu and Kashmir state. The department, set by
Ranbir Singh, was wound up in 1884 after the Maharaja died. His successor,
Maharaja Pratap Singh appointed IK as Head Jyotishi or Chief Astrologer at his
court, a post that he held until his death on 28th August, 1893.
IK's genius was best summed up by Sir
Aurel Stein when he described him as the "Panini of Kashmir".
Birth Centenary Celebrations:
"Shaiva is unlimited
Prof. M.L. Kukiloo explains essentials of
Kashmir Shaiva philosophy.
New Delhi: Eminent Kashmiri scholar, Prof.
M.L. Kukiloo explained the essence of Kashmir Shaivistic philosophy to an
appreciating audience at Bhagawaan Gopinathji Ashram, Pamposh Enclave, on 16th
Nov.1997. He was delivering the first Bhagawaan Gopinathji lecture organised by
Bhagawaan Gopinathji Trust as part of the great saint's centenary celebrations.
In his illuminating lecture, Prof. Kukiloo
elucidated some of the basic concepts of Kashmir Shaivism which, he said, does
not believe in accepting or giving up any thing, least of all the world, which
it holds to be not different from Shiva Himself.This universe, he clarified, is
created by Shiva in his own image, for He is unlimited consciousness, and
consciousness alone exists. Dwelling on the concept of 'Swatantrya' or absolute
independence in Shaiva philosophy, Prof. Kukiloo said that it is the sovereignty
of will that makes Shiva both immanent and transcendent. Form and space do not
limit Him. Prof. Kukiloo said that according to Kashmir Shaivism, man, nature
and God or the ultimate reality, the experience and the experienced are but one.
Every individual, the Shaiva philosophy says, is endowed with three inherent
faculties of will, cognition and action or Ichcha, Jnana and Kriya, which when
in perfect harmony lead one to a state of eternal bliss.
Explaining how Kashmir Shaiva philosophy
is different from the traditional religious doctrines, Prof. Kukiloo spoke about
its rationalistic approach to man's spiritual evolution. In his lecture, the
learned professor also discussed briefly the three Upayas or practical ways -
the Anavopaya, Shaktopaya and shambhavopaya - for self realization that Kashmir
Shaivism suggests for men of different dispositions.
Prof. Kukiloo, it may be mentioned, is a
founder member of the Delhi chapter of Ishwar Ashram of Swami Lakshman Joo and
is also among the scholars associated with NSKRI.
"LETTERS FROM INDIA":
NSKRI invites researchers' attention to a treasure haul
It reads and sounds like the title of a
book. And sure it is one. But what makes it important from NSKRI point of view
is that this book contains a rich scholarly exchange of letters concerning
Sanskrit and studies of antiquities of Kashmir. Brought out as a memorial
volume, these letters were exchanged between a Canadian scholar Dr. Straton
Booth and a Kashmiri Sanskrit scholar Prof. Nityanand Shastri in the early years
of the present century - from 1902 to 1905 to be precise. Interestingly, it also
contains references to letters of some of the contemporary Kashmiri scholars who
were in communication with the Canadian scholar, the great Shaivite thinker,
Harbhatta Shastri and Mukund Ram Shastri being among them. Published in London
in the year 1908, the volume widely acclaimed both in Europe and America,
unfortunately, appears to be lost. Referential evidences of the book are,
however, being pieced together by Mr. S.N Pandita of the NSKRI core group, who
feels that the letters could well provide a wealth of material on Kashmir's
cultural and literary traditions, and so it would be worthwhile to launch an
operation discovery to trace out a copy of the book. Following this, further
studies on its contents could be undertaken.
As endeavour to procure and retrieve
materials relating to heritage and culture of Kashmir forms an important part of
its agenda, the NSKRI would like to solicit help from other interested scholars
and researchers who might be aware of the existence of the book "Letters
from India" in locating the book. The search forthe book, lying as it might
be in an obscure corner on a dusty shelf in a library or in a home, in India or
elsewhere, may be in London itself, could surely prove to be quite a rewarding
Holy soil from Amarnath and Amriteshwar
Bhairva Temple spread on Switzerland hill
Sacred soil of Amarnath and Amriteshwar
Bhairva Temple, Kashmir, besides holy soil of Rishikesh, was brought to
Switzerland and spread on a hill-top there to mark the conclusion of
International Earth Festival. Organised by Foundation 'Friends of People', of
Mantreu for peace and prosperity of the world, the Festival was held at
Waldenburg, Switzerland from 25th of September to 28th of September, 1997. Three
hundred and twenty five delegates from Japan, Canada, U.S.A., Bali (Indonesia),
Australia, Newzealand and India, besides thirty European countries,
participated, delivering lectures and reciting Mantras throughout the festival.
Shiva Yogi Shiva Svambhu Gideon Fontalba, Director of the Festival supervised
As part of the concluding day function,
according to a press release issued by Foundation 'Friends of People', Fire was
enkindled at a hill-top nearby the festival site which lasted for nearby four
hours. The festival came to an end with spreading of holy soils of all the
participating countries on the fire site. These included India from where soils
of Rishikesh, Amarnath and Amriteshwar Bhairva Temple of Nishat, Srinagar, were
brought for the ceremony.
It may be mentioned here that Kashmir's
great Shaiva saint, Swami Laxman Joo used to worship Bhairva at the Amriteshwar
Bhairava temple and "receive direct vibrations for the welfare of
International Earth Festival,
Kashmiri Scholar delivers lectures on
Prof. Makhanlal Kukiloo, a leading Shaiva
scholar of Kashmir and a disciple of Swami Lakshman Joo, delivered three
lectures on three different topics of Kashmir Shaivism at the Earth Festival
held at Waldenburg Wasserfallen, Switzerland, at the end of September, '97.
Prof. Kukiloo was specially invited to
attend the festival. According to a press release issued by Foundation 'Friends
of the People', Montreux, Switzerland, organisers of the Earth Festival, all the
participants from the various countries attending the festival were very much
impressed by the contents of these lectures, hoping to be benefitted by the
learned professor's experience in Shaiva meditation in future also.