Many great civilizations and nations have been lost to the vagaries of time purely attributed to the fact that they could not assimilate and carry the moors which connected them to their identity subsequent existence. The challenge to keep the civilizational anchors afloat and kicking has always been a daunting task. A daunting task predominantly attributed to two factors. One of the major factors stays in the assault by the fascist, fanatic and imperialist forces through acts of vandalization and usurping.
A major portion of past relics present in the form of art. literature, research which nurtured a civilization got consigned to the acts of intolerance and barbarity. The other factor lies in the daunting confrontation with modernity and urbanization leaving less or no scope of upholding and nurturing the roots of our existence.
The saga of survival becomes more onerous when the above factors get an admixture of ones physical dissociation, banishment or exile from aboriginal place. To uphold and nurture the anchors and relics of our existence is directly connected to ‘Place Consciousness’ and in absence of a solid connect with place, preserving and nurturing the roots becomes mere ritualistic. In light of these processes we lose hold of our anchors and get scattered like pack of cards to our eventual decay.
However the natural instinct of resilience in humans in certain cases defies the odds and like the Phoenix certain communities rise from the debris of their ashes. We are talking about a community which has a chronicled history of 5000 years. The community of Kashmiri Hindus is evolving as a living example of resilience and resistance against all forces inimical to knowledge and learning this community stands for with its plethora of Literae Humaniores.
Living in exile for last 30 years and having faced vagaries of perpetual exiles at the hands of fascist, fanatic and imperialist forces the community of Kashmiri Hindus is struggling to safeguard and nurture the anchors of this civilization. Anchors which not only identify this distinct religo-ethnic community and its historical continuity of last 5000 years but also as an entity which lies in the founding rocks of macro-cosmic Indian civilization
When even the physical survival in exile becomes a daunting challenge, surviving the metaphysical becomes nearly impossible. In the daunting and uphill race of survival this minuscule community scattered across the globe has been able to place its act together through sheer commitment and zeal of the concerned and selfless activists.
Over last few years scores of community activists have initiated various programs to reestablish the lost connect with the moorings and heritage of their identity. The identity based on knowledge and learning connecting to metaphysical and other muses of science, art, literature, spiritualism et all. Though many activities have shaped up in last 30 years in almost all spheres, however over last nearly five years the activity to reclaim and reproduce has received a flip when we talk about larger connect with masses. Myths which had evolved in absence of logic and reason are slowly getting busted and a renewed understanding has started gaining foothold.
The writer being an ardent follower of these activities over a period of last one decade has seen shaping of these efforts from very close quarters. It is with a fair understanding of these activities that the writer decided to list some of them them as a vindication. Though many socio cultural organizations and NGO have been working on socio cultural and religious front however there are few which deserve a special mention.
CORE SHARDA TEAM – AN EFFORT TO REVIVE SHARDA SCRIPT
Language and its script find the first mention when we talk of our anchors of identity. To begin with, Core Sharda Team finds a special mention.
Sharda script was primarily used to write Sanskrit and Kashmiri languages but it is considered to be the mother script of many north India languages. However over a period of time and advent of Nashtliq as the script to write Urdu and Persian languages in Kashmir, this script was consigned to slow and gradual death.
Core Sharda Team an initiative of community youth Rakesh Koul, Usha Munshi,Veronica Peer, Jyoti razdan, Jyoti Koul, Sunil Mahnoori, Sanjay koul, Parul Razdan, Puja Saproo, Sanjeev raina, Ramesh Kaw, Sunita Pandita who have been working tirelessly towards the revival of the ancient Sharda script which had nearly vanished from the main frame. Team has a strong belief that revival of Sharda script is important to understand the glorious past of Kashmir which is today hidden in the thousands of manuscripts lying in museums , libraries and custody of Individuals.
Core Sharda team has been working hard from last 4 years in propagating the Sharda through various sources. Today the team is successfully conducting online classes and workshops to promote the Sharda script within and outside community.
Nearly 2000 learners have been imparted the skill of writing in this script and an astonishing number of nearly 400 has gained the experise of Sharda teachers. Core Sharda team conducted a webinar teaching the lipi to 700 Sanskrit scholars, 250 of those are part of the core Sharda team and working on transcription of important manuscripts.
In a short span of 4 years the team has been able to develop Android keyboard for Sharda script, Android application for Sharda learning, upload training material on YouTube channel, publish quarterly Magazine ‘Maatrika’ exclusively written in Sharda script. Core Sharda Team has conducted workshops, seminars and webinars on the subject and is working daily on transcription of various important manuscripts.
GLOBAL CELEBRATION OF ACHARYA ABHINAVGUPTA BIRTH ANNIVERSARY
With the revival of Sharda Script the moment of further glory came through pan global celebration of birth anniversary of Acharya Abhinavgupta – The most profound and majestic philosopher the world has ever seen. A set of selfless and focused activists Upender Ambardar, Sanjay Raina, Sunil Raina Rajanak, Rakesh Koul, Sandeep Raj Koul, Dr Mahesh Koul, Veerji Wangoo, Vishal Sharma supported Swami Ram Trika Ashram and Ishwar Ashram Trust in making these celebrations a magnificent global activity. Celebrations in the form of intellectual and scholarly discourse by renowned scholars from across the globe marked a week long festivity. Acharya Abhinavgupta who till date was only present in the intellectual debates became a house hold name through the efforts of these activists. Intriguingly, Acharya Abhinavgupta who is credited with the theory of Rasa (aesthetic savour), was lost to the vagaries of time but the effort and passion of these activists have added the Rasa back to its originator.
Almost the same set of activists with addition of Veronica Peer, Jyoti Razdan, Sara Louise with their never say die attitude came up with this visionary idea of celebrating the birth anniversary of Lalleshwari – A Shaivite yogini who is considered as the patron saint of Kashmir. Acharya Abhinavgupta propounded the philosophy of Trika or Kashmir Shavism, but it is Lalleshwari who demystified the philosophy through her Vakhs or sayings in simple Kashmiri language. ( Image : Abhinavagupta Pen Picture [ Painting by Claudia Dose )]
Ironically Lalleshwari and her Vakhs have suffered usurping and blatant concoctions at the hands of fascist and fanatic forces. Through a week long online lecture session from learned and acclaimed scholars these activists ensured that many concoctions and corruption of her Vakhs stands corrected. The week long session from August 19 – 26 culminated on the enlightening discourse of contemporary legend Dr Shashi Shekhar Toshkhani who elucidated not only Lalleeshwari Vakhs but her entire spiritual journey.
I am sure the team is gearing up on other projects in very near future.
KASHMIR AS IT IS – AN ONLINE PORTAL OF REPOSITORY
In an earnest endeavor to keep the exiled Kashmiri Pandit community connected with their founding land and culture, KASHMIR AS IT IS (K A I I ) is a small but well driven attempt towards realization of this goal.
KAII is a brainchild of a Kashmiri Pandit named Shivani Bhan Dhar, a post graduate in software systems from BITS Pilani, native of Kashmir valley currenly living in exile in Singapore. She is trying to make KASHMIRASITIS as one of the prominent voices & repository of Kashimiri culture and inheritance in recent times. KAIL is a step towards consolidation of repository in a well planned and executed formatted library that holds all the information related to culture, heritage, rituals and practices prevalent in the aboriginal Hindu community of Kashmir since times immemorial.
The objective behind this consolidation is make this waning repository of immense importance available to the community and the world at the click of a mouse. The web portal is available at
VISTHAPIT KAB TAAK – An online engagement to record Genocide victim testimonies
Upholding the martyrdom in any community and nation goes a long way in its survival with dignity and grace. Remembrance and anecdotes from the kiths and kins of martyr families establishes a sense of security and reassurance upholding the belief of a robust existence. Vishthapit Kab Taak is an attempt by Manish Zijoo, Vinod Koul, Sandeepraj Koul, Vishal Sharma, Vikas Raina and many selfless activists in that direction.
These selfless activists are religiously working to document the tales of martyrs through their close kiths and kin on social media platform Facebook. The repository of these tales and anecdotes has made the martyrs a household name in Kashmiri Pandit community. The gore of victims of Genocide is slowly but firmly reestablishing the exile consciousness in exiled Hindu community of Kashmir valley. The efforts of these activists have brought masses closer to hitherto unknown victims of Genocide. Vistaphit Kab Tak is a step in the direction of connecting the Kashmiri Hindu youth born after 1990 to the suffering and pain suffered by the community at the hands of fascist and fanatic forces in valley. The first hand account of victims of Genocide broadcast-ed live on Facebook is fast setting up the narrative of Genocide internationally as well. It might appear trivial to many but the efforts of Vistaphit Kab Tak is a genuinely making difference in discourse and narrative of the exiled Hindiu community of Kashmir.
Today at the cross roads of three long decades of forced exile and disappearing place consciousness the community of Kashmiri Hindus is striving hard to connect its dots with the civilizational connect. The odds are heavily loaded against this community, but the the resolve is equally firm. The naysayers who had written off revival and predicted doom for the community will surely be eating a humble pie.