The Indian Civilization is one of the oldest civilizations, which has grown continuously without a break and has a recorded history of 5000 years. The separatist organisations including the Kashmiri separatists and a few historians have been deliberately trying to obliterate the facts of recorded history of the sub-continent and trying their level best to rewrite the annals suiting their jaundiced viewpoint.
Yasin Malik, a renowned JKLF leader had even gone to an extent of challenging the erstwhile Indian, Prime Minister Mr Narsimha Rao to prove that Kashmir was ever a part of India(AAP KI ADALAT, 1994). Such acrimonious statements have misled many poor, illiterate and gullible people. Anyone who has no idea about the evolution of Indian civilization and its glorious past would think that these separatist organizations have a point and their demands are genuine.
For the past many years now these pro-Pakistani and pro-Azadi leaders are speaking the language of Jinnah and are of the opinion that Kashmir is distant from India and closer to Pakistan. It is very unfortunate that they have not learnt anything from the mistakes of the past and from the miseries caused by the two events to the people of this sub-continent, i.e., creation of Pakistan and subsequently its breakup.
M A Jinnah had also expressed similar views in his historic speech at Lahore in 1940 when he said, ”Islam and Hinduism are two distinct social orders and they could never evolve a common nationality, The Muslims are not a minority but a nation”, little realizing that his words would cause havoc and make human beings behave like animals.
The answers to questions like, did Kashmir became a part of India only after Maharaja signed the instrument of accession, did India come into existence in 1947 and are we fighting only to prevent balkanization of India are very relevant because they will not only strengthen our resolve but will also send right signals to many such separatist organizations who are articulating similar sentiments.
In the long history of the sub-continent, there have been numerous occasions when the entire country(upto Deccan) was under the rule of only one emperor, as seen during the Mauryas, the Guptas, the Kushans and Harsha’s reign and that of the Mughals. Thus we see that whenever there was a powerful king at the center, India was united and when his power declined, it fell apart into small princely kingdoms. This has been a trend world over. For example, Germany as it exists today on the world map was also once divided into almost 350 princely kingdoms and those states probably could not be united had Bismarck not been there. America was also divided till as late as 1776 and had to undergo a civil war to achieve unity. UK too was united after a treaty in 1710 between England, Scotland, and Wales. The countries of Europe, which do not constitute even half the size of our sub-continent, have fought numerous wars amongst themselves and majority of them were in the name of religion, for instance 100 years war between France and England. Moreover, at no stage in history, except for a brief period, the countries of European continent were united under a single political power. Semblance of some order started emerging only after the treaty of Westphalia in 1648.
The civilization of the Indian sub-continent, on the other hand, has been more cohesive; firstly, we never fought religious wars, and secondly, we have always been one culturally. For instance, Shankracharya, a South Indian Tamil Brahmin in 10th century AD, had traveled all the way from Tamil Nadu to Kashmir and was welcomed by all the kings enroute. He established Mathas in all the four corners of the country, visited Srinagar and paid obeisance at the Shiva temple, believed to have been constructed around 371 BC. Since then the hill on which the temple was located has been known as Shankracharya hill and that temple as Shankracharya temple. This is one of the many evidences of India’s cultural unity.
Kalhanas Rajtarangani, the only historical document written by an Indian, is the primary source of credible and well-documented history of Kashmir. As per our epics, the first known king of Kashmir is believed to be Gonanda , who was the friend of Jarasandh , father –in –law of Lord Krishna. However, as regards recorded history, it starts from Kashmir being part of King Ashoka’s kingdom [273-232 BC] It was Ashoka who established the ancient city of Srinagari . During his reign he built many Stupas, Vihars and had also organized the first International Buddhist Conference at Srinagri.
After the Maurayas came the Kushans. Kanishka was the most powerful monarch of this dynasty who ruled over entire North West India and Central Asia. Buddhism being the state religion during Kushan’s reign, Kashmir became the hub of Buddhist activities. The missionaries from Kashmir carried the message of Buddhism to Tibet and China.After the decline of Kushan empire, Kashmir was ruled by local kings namely; Abhimanyu, Vibhishan and Indrajit. The names signify that there was a clear link of religion and culture between Kashmir and the rest of the country. Thereafter came the Golden era of Indian civilization, that of the Gupta dynasty, and Kashmir once again became part of the Indian empire.
Hieun Tsang the famous Chinese traveler who visited India in seventh century spent two years in Srinagri in 631-632 AD. In his account, he has mentioned that Emperor Harshavardhan exercised a form of suzerainty over Kashmir and a Hindu King of Karakota dynasty held sway over Rajouri, Poonch and Taxila. He also mentioned that the people of Kashmir were fond of learning and followed both Hinduism and Buddhism. The most outstanding king of the Karakota dynasty was Lalita Ditya [724-761 AD] whose empire was believed to have extended beyond the present boundaries of the state. He got a magnificent Sun Temple constructed at a place called Matan, the ruins of which are still one of the most outstanding remains of ancient architecture of Kashmir.
Surya, a renowned minister of King Awantiwarman had constructed many irrigation projects and he had become so popular that the modern day town Sopore, once called Suryapur, was established in his memory. King Awantiwarman also got many temples built at Awantipur which was named after him.
Mahmud Ghazni invaded Kashmir in 1015 and 1021, but he met with stiff opposition and thus had to desist from his nefarious designs. It was in 1325 AD that a Tibetan named Rin Chin, through a conspiracy, got the local king Ram Chand killed and occupied the throne. He adopted Islam under the influence of a sufi saint and assumed the title of Sadr-ud-din. His accession to the throne herealded a new beginning in the history of Kashmir. Shahmir, Qutb-ud-din, Sultan Sikandar and Zain-ul-Abidin thereafter ruled Kashmir for nearly 250 years. Sultan Sikandar is known as Butshikan (Idol destroyer) of Kashmir for he destroyed large number of temples and idols and it was during his reign that Muslims became predominant in Kashmir. The famous sufi saint Sayyid Ali Hamdani, popularly known as Bain e Islami, played an important role in the Islamisation of Kashmir. Akbar brought Kashmir under his rule in 1589. Kashmir at that time was governed by representative of the Emperor called Subedar. However, over hundred years of peaceful and just rule of Mughals was undid by Aurangzeb, for he was known for his fanaticism.
Thereafter from 1753 to 1819 AD, Kashmir suffered at the hands of Afghans. In 1753, when Ahmed Shah Abdali was returning after ravishing Delhi he subjugated Kashmir and subjected it to a tyrannical rule of almost 67 years. Fed up of Afghans, Pandit Birbal Dar approached Maharaja Ranjit Singh to invade Kashmir in 1819. After the Anglo- Sikh war of 1846 and treaty signed thereafter, Ghulab Singh became the ruler of Kashmir. The Dogra rule continued till Maharaja Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession to join the Indian Union in Oct 1947.
For over more than thousand years, till the advent of Muslims in 14th century, the Valley was regarded as a great seat of learning. Philosophers like Abhinavgupta and Vasugupta founded a new system of thought called Shaivism or Trika. Sanskrit scholars like Panini and Patanjali are believed to have been born here. It attracted hundreds of students from all parts of the country as well as from distant lands like Afghanistan and Central Asia for the study of mathematics, astronomy and philosophy.
In fourteenth and fifteenth century the Sufis/Rishis of Kashmir embedded noble traditions of love, harmony and compassion. The Sufis were mainly from Persia and Central Asia whereas the Rishis were from the Valley. The most renowned of these saints who made a tremendous impact on the social and the cultural life of Kashmir, were Lal Ded and Sheikh Nuruddin.
Mr Jag Mohan, the former governor of J and K, in his book ‘My Frozen Turbulence’ says. “ The virtues of Kashmiri Islam, ascetism, simplicity, co-existence and non-violence are common to the virtues admired in the best of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism and more in tune with the Indian pluralistic society”.
Unfortunately, the separatist leaders in any part of the country have failed to look underneath the surface and grasp the uniqueness of their cultural heritage. One of the western scholars commenting on Mahabharata said that, “A foreign reader is at once struck by two features; in the first place, its unity in complexity and in the second, its constant efforts to impress on its readers the idea of a single centralized India, with a heroic tradition of her own as a formative and uniting impulse. (Discovery of India). The unity in India has come naturally and has not been either forced upon or artificially nurtured or been given to us by the British.