Geographical reach of Sharda script from Kabul in Afghanistan upto Himachal Pradesh: Dr Shashi Shekhar Toshkhani

A one day workshop on Sharda Script was jointly conducted by Kashmir Sewak Samaj and Core Sharda Team at Sharika Bhawan, Sector 17, Faridabad. The workshop was held to educate the people on Sharda Script and its importance and relevance among the Kashmiri Hindus who used this script in all their religious ceremonies before exodus.

KSS President Dr. S K Handoo welcomed the participants and highlighted the various programmes conducted by KSS. He assured the full cooperation of KSS in spreading the learning of Sharda Script among community members in Faridabad. He further said that KSS shall conduct these workshops in future as well.

Dr. Shashi Shekhar Toshkhani, noted linguist, erudite scholar was the Chief Guest who shared the origination of Sharda and its importance. Dr. Toshkhani said that Sharda Devi is the titular Goddess of Kashmiri Hindus and goddess is also known as Vak Devi – goddess of speech. Dr Toshkhani said that Geographical reach of Sharda script extended from Kabul in Afghanistan upto north west India which included Kashmir, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. The script flourished mostly during 3rd CE upto 13th CE and most of the historical works were written in this script which are preserved in various libraries and museums across the country. An estimated 40,000 manuscripts of Sharda are preserved which are yet to be translated. In Gardez, Afghanistan Sharda engravings have been found on Lord Ganesh’s idol and another engraving of Sharda can be seen on Uma Maheshwar near Tepe Skandar north of Kabul which pre date 8th CE. Also silver coins during 7th to 10th CE issued by Shahi rulers bear the mark of Sharda script. Currently the there are two major offshoots from Sharda Script which include Gurumukhi and Takri.

The Bakhshali manuscript uses an early stage of the Sharda script. Recent carbon dating research commissioned by the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries into the ancient Indian Bakhshali manuscript, held at the Bodleian, has revealed it to be hundreds of years older than initially thought, making it the world’s oldest recorded origin of the zero symbol that we use today. ‘Determining the date of the Bakhshali manuscript is of vital importance to the history of mathematics and the study of early South Asian culture and these surprising research results testify to the subcontinent’s rich and longstanding scientific tradition.

The earlier vedic literature which include Athar Veda, Vishnu Dharmottar Puran and later period Nilmat Puran, Rajtarangani were written in Sharda script. Astrological texts like commentary on Siddhant Shromani was also written in Sharda. Besides all important Tantra texts which include both from Shaiva and Shakta traditions were written in Sharda. The Sanskrit grammar of Kayet and Kavya Prakash a master piece of literature written by Mammat are also found to be written in Sharda. Tantraloka the magnum opus of Mahameshwar Abhinavgupta the greatest Sanskrit scholar ever produced by India is also written in Sharda. Earlier Buddhist manuscripts from 7th CE to 13th CE were also written in Sharda which was due to the role of monks from Kashmir and Himachal.

The script suffered after the advent of Islam. During the rule of Zain ul Abadin who was famously known as Badshah abandoned the script and introduced Persian as the court script which proved to be fatal for the script and later it became less prevalent in the region.

Smt. Jyoti Kaul the coordinator of Core Sharda Team said presently the script is at the verge of extinction and if it is not saved from extinction then the rich cultural heritage of Indian literature documented in the script shall be lost forever. Presently whatever, knowledge is available is due to small number of Kashmir Hindu community who bore the brunt of invasions, incursions and conversions. The workshops are required to revive the usage of this ancient script and to restore it to its ancient glory. She further shared that Core Sharda Team have made 600 people Sharda literate and the teaching is done through WhatsApp and youtube on free basis. She further said that present workshop is to enable the Kashmiri Hindus to learn Sharda script and to uncover the vast wealth of knowledge which are documented in the manuscripts for future generations.

Dr. Kirti Kant Sharma – Project Director, IGNCA conducted the practical workshop and brought to the notice of the participants how to write Sharda Script. He further said that more such workshops are required to bring awareness among people about the script so that this script can be restored to its glory. Participants interacted with Dr. Kirti Kant Sharma and many learnt to write their names in Sharda script.

Col. Tej K Tikoo, President All India Kashmiri Samaj, assured the audience that they will promote Sharda Script through their monthly magazine Naad. He told the audience that Naad was the first magazine which has its name written in Sharda script. He promised all support from AIKS. The other notable speakers were Dr. Uday Kakroo, Sh. H L Wangnoo, Pt. Omkar Nath Shastri, Sh Ravinder Pandita of Save Sharda Committee.

The programme was conducted by Smt. Jyoti Razdan and was coordinated by Smt. Usha Munshi, Smt. Pooja Sapru, Smt. Kalyani Seru, Smt. Pooja Pandita, Col Ashok Kaul, Sunil Raina Rajanaka among others.

Dr. I K Kilam of KSS presented the vote of thanks.

Leave a Reply