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Vol. I, No. 1 
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Vol. II, No. 16-17

November 1997
Vol. I, No. 3

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.

Sharada Stotram

[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 - puravasini
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 vidhivallabha
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 devotees).

namami yaminim nathalekhalankrta kuntalam
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 sanatani
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 Salutations.

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 jivanmrtam bhavet
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 - mattavat sada
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 Srinagar.

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 1879.

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".

Bhagawaan Gopinathji:
Birth Centenary Celebrations:

"Shaiva is unlimited consciousness":

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.

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 effort.

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 the deliberations.

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 mankind."

International Earth Festival, Switzerland

Kashmiri Scholar delivers lectures on Kashmir Shavism

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.

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