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Information Digest
Volume 1
Reprint Edition March 2001

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Lalla-Ded Educational and Welfare Trust

Table of Contents

Lalla-Ded Educational Trust
Project Zaan
Information Digest - Vol. 1

Har-van

Religion

Background

Kashmir has been the cradle of religious thought and belief from times  immemorial. The Nagas had their religious practices as documented in Nilamata Purana.  Whether they were snake worshippers or not is debatable, but worship and  pilgrimage to Nags (Springs) is well established and in some cases continues till this  date.The Indo-Aryans, who settled in the Valley and amalgamated with Nagas,  brought the religious practices and thought from the Indian plains. Worship of  Vaishno, Shankara (Rudra), Shakti are well documented. Rivers representing Shakti,  are worshipped. Vaishnav (Dwaita) as well as Shaivism (Adwaita, non-dualism)  have been in vogue, although it was the later in its Kashmir version, that had  larger sway.

Although Buddha is stated to have visited Kashmir to carry his doctrine there,  it was Ashoka who brought Buddhism to Kashmir. It had its sway for few  centuries - of course with an undercurrent of Shaivism, but it again gave way to  Hinduism. Kashmir refined Buddhism, gave birth to Mahayana sect of Buddhists and  carried Buddhism to Tibet and China.

Kashmir Shaivism (Trika)

To understand Shaivism, it is necessary to refer to two (of the many) thought  streams of Indian philosophy: 1. Dwaita - me and the God,  2. Adwaita - the God  in me. Shaivism (Monoism) is the name given to the later. There is one Supreme  Reality (call it Siva, Brahman or what you may). It is a speck of this Reality  which resides in all beings. The universe is an allusion (Maya). Kashmir  Shaivism slightly differs from that of the rest of the country. Kashmir Shaivism is  also called Trika Shastra because it is the philosophy of the triad:  1) Siva  2) Shakti and 3) Nara (the bounden soul) or 1) Para - the highest,  2) Parapara  - identity with difference, and  3) Apara - the difference.

While Siva or Paramsiva is the Ultimate Reality, the Shakti is its power of  manifestation. The universe is real (not an allusion) and a projection of the  Shakti aspect of Siva. Maya, here is the creative force as also a vailing element.

Kashmir Shaivism does not concern itself only in finding the nature of Siva,  Shakti and the Nara but devotes itself extensively on the means to be employed by  the man to realise its real self and thus merge with Siva.

Shaivism does not preclude worship of individual Gods or any way reduce the  importance of Bhakti (devotion) as long as they lead one to the realisation of the  Self. Worshipping Shakti in various f.mp3s is quite common.

Practices

Shiva worship, often as Shivlinga is prevalent in both ancient and modern  temples. Goddess is worshipped in various f.mp3s as Raginya (at Tullamulla), Sharika  (at Hariparbat), Jwala (at Khrew), Kali (at Khankah and Hariparbat), Badrakali,  Sharada, H.mp3ukat Ganga, Vetasta etc.

People have their own Ishta Devis, whom they feel attached. They are Raginya, Sharika, Jwala and Tripura.

Besides visiting places of worship, the Kashmiri has his own personal regimen  of worship. Each house has a special place  known as Thokur Kuth, e.mp3arked for  the purpose. Reciting Sanskrit verse in praise of Shiva and Maa Shakti is  usual.

Hawans to propitiate the Gods would be held when possible. At such Hawans, Hums  (offerings) are offered to the fire, reciting a thousand names of a  God/Goddess, say, Ganesha, Vishnu, Shiva, Mahamaya etc. Community Hawans are popular.

Observing fasts on auspicious days, particularly those connected with Lord  Shiva like Shivratri, Shravan / Magh Purnima, Somari Amavsi, Shiv Choturdashi etc.  are common. Women observe Chandan Shashti for the welfare of their husbands  (similar to Kadva Choth observed in Northern India).

It is customary to observe birthdays with religious prayer and prasad of yellow  rice. Yellow rice (Tahar) offering is done on many occassions like Hara Chodah,  Navreh, Ram Navmi etc.

Krishan Janam Ashtami (rather Saptami in case of Kashmiris) is celebrated  similar to the way elsewhere, with fasts, fruit and worship.

Kashmiri Muslims

Muslims in Kashmir, being essentially from the Hindu stock, are both from Sunni  and Shia sects. Some of their practices are influenced by their Hindu ancestary. They continue distributing yellow rice. They pay obeisance at  the graves of  saints.

Among Muslims, Sufi influence from Central Asia  is an induction. But a  different cult of local origin - the Reshi cult has been more popular. Reshis have  been closer to the Hindu philosophical thought. The more known amongst them are  Nunda Reshi (Tsrar), Baba Reshi (Tangmarg), Misha Saab (Rainawari), Batamol Saab  (Anantnaag & Srinagar) and Mukdam Saab (Hariparbat). They observe the annual  day (Urs). Also observed are the Urs of Sufi cult saints as  Dastgir Saab  (Khanyar) and Shah Hamdan (Zaina Kadal). Some Reshi saints are visited by Hindus also.

Muslims believe that a sacred hair relic of their Prophet exists at Dargah near  Naseem Bagh. Its public appearance is made on the Prophets birthday and some  other important occassions.  Muslims celebrate the two Ids and Prophets  birthday with great joy. Shias hold the annual mourning processions around Moharram.

Christians

Two missionaries Mr. Rhodes and Mr. Tyndale Biscoe left England together. One  landed in Africa and the other in Kashmir. One converted a whole country to  Christianity which was named after him as Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The other could  not convert any body in Kashmir to his faith. Christians otherwise, set up  schools, colleges and hospitals and did quite a lot of good work in Kashmir. There  are two churches in Srinagar which serve outsiders. Some people claim that  Christ came to Kashmir after crucifixion and died here and is buried at a place in  Srinagar. Christians however do not subscribe to this theory.
 
 

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