A seminar on the “Revival of Shard Lippi” was held on Sunday, 11 November in KL Saigal Hall, Abhinav Theater, Jammu, to highlight the extinction of Sharda Script and work being done at various levels to revive the script. Sharda Script is the script used to write Kashmiri Language and was in vogue in Kashmir before Nashtaliq, the script of Urdu Language was introduced to write Kashmiri.
The seminar was jointly organized by Brahman Maha Mandal a century old socio-religious organization of Kashmiri Brahmans. in coordination with Sharda Core Team an organization working towards drawing attention and revival of Sharda Temple situated on the banks of Kishanganga river in Neelum Valley, currently in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir region. The seminar was attended by a galaxy of subject matter experts and common masses from all walks of life. Ravinder Pandit, Founder & Head of Save Sharda Group presented a documentary on the history of Sharda Temple and acquainted jam –packed hall with the present deteriorated condition of the temple which bore the brunt of attack by invaders in historical past and also of the recent earthquake. Despite the reverence of local villagers towards the sacred temple, the government authorities in PoK have not undertaken any action to conserve and preserve the temple. Ravinder Pandit also apprised the audience through the documentary the efforts being made by his Group in collaboration with local villagers to maintain the sanctum sanctorum of the temple which is already in ruins. Ravinder Pandita have also approached the state and central government in this regard.
Sh. Rakesh Koul, Coordinator, Sharda Core Group appraised the house about the initiatives taken by the Group in developing software on Sharda script which under finalization and shall shortly be available to public. He also informed the house about short training programme offered on reading and writing of Sharda script by the Group and about one hundred entrepreneurs have already been trained in writing and reading the Sharda Lippi.
Prof. Sushma Jatoo, Project Director and senior faculty at Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, New Delhi a renowned scholar of Sharda script informed the house about geographical extent of the Lippi in historical past saying Sharda script was prominent throughout the Gandhar region spreading almost from Afghanistan to the plains of Punjab in historical past. She gave an elaborate on the origin and antiquity of Sharda with the help of noticeable archaeological evidences.
Prof. K.N. Pandita, Padma Shree opined that Sharda script is the heritage of Kashmiri Pandits and the pristine purity of the language should be maintained. He emphasized that public, at large, should be made aware of the rich language through public meetings/seminars and more people should involve themselves in learning the language to revive the Sharda script. The decline in the usage of Sharda script in the valley over the historical time was one of the ways of ethnic cleansing, opined Prof. Pandita.
The dignitaries and invited guests also released the book titled “ Vitasta ki Thirakti Urmia” written by Late Dr. Badri Nath Kalla, President Medal awardee , a noted scholar of recent times on Sanskrit and Sharda. Prof. Pyare Lal Hatash, a well known Sanskrit scholar paid rich tribute the Late Dr. Kalla and also read out voluminous contribution made by Dr. Kalla in the field of Sharda and Sanskrit during his lifetime.
Sh. Ramesh Arora, MLC and Co-founder of Save Sharda Group was the Guest of Honour on the function. He appreciated the efforts of both Brahman Maha Mandal and Save Sharda Group in reviving the Sharda Lippi through public awareness programmes. He narrated the efforts made along with Sh. Ravinder in emphasizing the state and central government with regard to the significance of revered Sharda Temple to Kashmiri Pandits and consider to declare the temple as pilgrimage for Kashmiri Pandits.
The assembly of intellectuals and scholars dedicated to retain the past glory of the sacred temple resolved:
- Appealed UNESCO to declare the Holy Sharda Temple situated on the banks of Kishanganga, Neelum Valley, PoK as World Heritage Site;
- To inscribe Sharda script in the “Memory of World Register” at UNESCO;
- To approach Archaeological Survey of India and its counterpart in Pakistan to undertake conservation and preservation, immediately, of the said temple and site; and
- To declare holy Sharda Temple as a pilgrimage site for Kashmiri Pandits and permit them to visit the temple to pay obescience at sanctum sanctorum, at least, once in a year.