Iqbal Ahmad

Preserving the cultural identity

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Kashmiris are a peace loving nation which has got a documented   history of about 6000 years. Archeologists and historians who carry out the study of Kashmir history and culture claim that people of Kashmir is an old nation which, according to them, has a well documented history of 6,000 years.

In ancient times   it was known   as ‘Kapin’ or ‘Kash’.  The valley with the passage of time came to be pronounced as Kasheer. This civilization flourished on the banks of its ancient river called Hydaspes  by Greeks, while in its ancient indigenous records it is called Vitasta and, or, Vyeth   by its inhabitants.  Although nowadays the river is popularly known as Jhelum but locals still pronounce it by its classical name i.e Vyeth.

Verinag the famous spring of south Kashmir is its main source which lies to the extreme of south Kashmir below the feet of Pir Panchal range. One of the characteristic features   of Veyeth is that it is always calm, mostly from  Khanbal to Khadinyar. It looks like it is sleeping, but at the two extremes- from where it begins and from where it leaves the boundary of Kashmir valley- Veyet roars

This land holds the remains of oldest civilizations which were found by archeologists on the plateaus of Burzhama, Harwan, Kutbal and Semithan. It has got the oldest literary evidences of Nilmatpura and Rajtarangini and these two documents not only tell the story of this land but also the important historical events of our neighboring nations also stand well documented.

This is the nation which, besides having its own indigenous history, has its own records and well developed scripts and traditions which cannot be downgraded. No doubt politics played a great role in ruining the centuries old identity of this nation during the middle of the 20th century, but it could not destroy its recorded history and neither could it omit its legends from its annals which are filled with the records of political and cultural achievements of king Ashoka, Konshika, Lalitadatiya, Awantivarman, Kalsa, Richna, Budshah, Shahab-ud-din, Yousuf Shah, Akbar, Jahangir and Shahijahan.

The institutions here not only provided education to its own people but to people of neighboring city-states as well. Throughout its history Kashmir has produced great scholars, who during their respective times, were accounted for international repute. Sheikh Yaqub Sarfi and Baba Dawood Khaki’s contributions towards Islamic and Sufi literatures are still considered as outstanding. Besides, the valley of Kashmir has also served as a cultural institution for Sharda, Sanskrit Persian and Arabic scripts and literatures and produced great poets and writers.

This land has been tremendously fertile were wisdom of its people solved many a big issues of international level. Buddhists not only found this land as best for meditation but they could also solve the internal differences of their thought. It was the result of international Buddhist conference held in the time of Kanishka in 1st century AD that Buddhist thought was revived and restored in a new order called ‘Northern Buddhism’ which later flourished in the lands of Tibet  and China.

During the 14th century AD, the Muslim missionaries also found this land peaceful and they arrived along with their families and cultivated the message of oneness of God (Tawheed).

This land which is millions of year’s old and favored by nature with glorious climate and fine environment has been feeding its people called since 4,000 B.C.

To quote Azad, the famous Kashmiri poet, he says

Kalhan Gani Te Sarfi, Sarab Ker Yem Aben

Sui Abb Sani Baphat Zahray Hilal Asey

(This land has nourished Kalhan, Gani and sarfi like legendary intellectuals, how can the waters turn poison for us)

This land was consolidated in 1846 and given the name of the state of ‘Jammu and Kashmir’, with its composite and distinctive cultural identity.   It has got its own constitution, which needs to be preserved and restored in its original form, tempering with its constitutional identity means altering its cultural identity also.


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