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Deconstructing grand myth of Kashmiriyat:

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By M J Aslam

Dividing Islam between Liberal & Orthodox:


No book of history or literature of any credence on Kashmirhas anywhere used the term “Kashmiriyat” in its references to socio-cultural values of its inhabitants: Kashmiris. (I). However, the term “did not emerge ex-nihilo from the soil of Kashmir. (II). It has a clear background more political than pretended or projected socio-religious that gave birth to it.In a desperate attempt to historicize this myth [“Kashmiriyat”], number of theses & theories have been written & advanced during the past two to three decades by linking its genesis in what is described as “liberal Islam”, (III) differentiated from “orthodox Islam”, (IV)that despite its predominance in the valley, it is claimed, was accommodative of several Brahman & Buddhist practices into its fold that produced a confluence of [Kashmiri] Shaivite traditions & mystic Sufi practices, or a blend of religious belief systems of Islam, Buddhism & Hinduism. (V)This uniquecommixture of mutually conflicting core factual realities or “inherent contradictions”,(VI)hastaught Kashmiris “communal harmony, mutual respect & peaceful co-existence”. (VII)

The protagonists further state that “Kashmiriyat” which wedded Kashmiris to the shrines of Sufis &Rishis, (VIII)is exposed to grave danger by Islamic radicalization. (IX)The protagonists ofthe fancied idea of “Kashmiriyat” try to trace it to the times of [Brahman] Lalleshwari or Lal Ded (X)and [Muslim] Sheikh Noor ud Din Noorani or Nund Reshi (XI), both somewhat contemporary patron saints, respectively, of mystic orders of Rishism & Sufism of the Kashmir valley.

Missing reference to religious transformation of Medieval Kashmir:

But the votaries of “Kashmiriyat” who view them as pioneers of “Kashmiriyat” forget to make reference to the times they preached the values of mutual tolerance, harmony & respect among religious communities of Kashmir. (XII)It wasMedieval Times of Kashmir when society was in transition, where social, political and religious affiliations were in a process of fast re-definition,when these mystic poets captured this fluidity more evocatively. (XIII)It was the time when Kashmiri society as a whole was showing substantial signs of religious transformation from Brahmanism to Islam. They represented a tradition that shows contextualizing of change rather than a transcendental movement of tolerance and porous boundaries. (XIV)Both of them expounded their mystic philosophy through their poems, Vakh & Shrukh, by using neither Sanskrit nor Persian, but popular Kashmiri language, (XV)and this whole period is designated as Vakh-Shrukh period expressing high moral lessons for the society, (XVI) but, without any political or nationalistic overtones.

It pre-dates emergence of nationalism:

Even if “Kashmiriyat” is presumably attributed to that time, it “far pre-dates the emergence of nationalism” (XVII) and the fluidity of this idea has in turn led to the disorientation of different assumptions about it & provided rich ammunition for Kashmiri nationalists for the propagation of “Kashmiriyat”. (XVIII)Reference to Kashmiri nationalists here has to be understood with respect to thetime this idea was launched & by whom? The point is elaborated in undergoing discussion.

The idea that “Kashmiriyat” is secularistic & nationalistic in character is a mere hogwash & figment of imagination for obvious reasons. If “Kashmiriyat” is equivalent to Kashmiri nationalism, then, why it has no takers among non-Muslims including K-Pandits. The reason is simple that for them Hindutva is only reality or raison d’etre of their socio-political life & Kashmiri nationalism, if at all one may call it so, has, as such, no relevance for them. If it were not so, then, they would not have severed their connection with Kashmiri-ethnicity, their roots & culture, and connected themselves completely with an “outside ideology of Hindutva” having least nexus with socio-cultural mores of their homeland–Kashmir. Ever since they under a well-orchestrated plan of the then State apparatus of 1990 choose to migrate to Jammu & other parts of India, K-Pandits have been pontificating about more and more strength not for themselves or their community or JK but for the Hindutva in which they have chosen to sink their individual identity of “Kashmiriyat”. For them, Kashmiriyat is not even “sub-nationalism” of Indian nationalism. (XIX)Nor could it be so, since historically & socially Kashmir till 1947 had no nexus at all with India. It has no takers in PAK, Gilgit, Baltistan & Chenab-Peer Panchal areas, even.

According to some Kashmiri “academicians”, “Kashmiriyat” which is equated with “composite culture” or “cultural identity” of both Kashmiri Muslims & Kashmiri Hindus, received three blows by (1) “Pandit exodus” from valley in 1990, (XX), (2) onslaught of Islamic militancy against Indian rule in valley in 1989, XXI & (3) dismissal of Sheikh M Abdullah on 9th August, 1953.(XXII)

Abstract ideas:

The introduction of “Kashmiriyat” inside Kashmir is like a metaphysical abstraction unmoored from actual politics of brutalization, secured by brute force & mutated in many ways with unclear meaning. (XXIII)Delhi is keen to project trilogy of “Kashmiriyat”, “Jhoomoriyat” & “Insaniyat” as the new exit window from the ongoing crisis, writes well known columnist, Masood Hussain, (XXIV)but Manish Tiwari, Congress Spokesman, seemed amazed by this trilogy when he told ANI on 26-08-2016 that the Indian leaders themselves do not understand the meaning of the words “Kashmiriyat”, “Jhoomoriyat” & “Insaniyat”. Noted human rights lawyer, Nandita Haskar in her book, “the many faces of Kashmiri Nationalism, from the cold war to the present day”, writes: “the term “Kashmiriyat” is a State-sponsored term which is aimed at promoting official national (Indian) integration, and this is totally an artificial concept. (XXV) From its definitional angle, it is vague & amorphous word, (XXVI) lacking a precise meaning for its intra-conflict of political overtones which has rendered it a gobbledygook or a discredited idea, as it has no buyers in JK. XXVII It may be compared to Emperor Akbar’s failed Deen e Illahi. (XXVIII)Some sayit is a prototype for Hindustaniyat. (XXIX)

(Author is an academician, story teller, essayist & freelance columnist. Presently AVP, J&K Bank. Opinions expressed by him personal & not of the organisation he works for.)


I:-.Daily Excelsior dated 28-09-2018[Kashmiriyat & Composite Culture];

II:-Chitralekha Zutshi, Language of Belonging: Islam, Regional Identity, & the Making of Kashmir (Permanent Black, D-28 Oxford Apartments, 11, I.P. Extension, Delhi, 2003) page 257’;

III:-Read Komal Sharma’s article “Reclaiming Kashmiriyat” published in Livemint dated 29-04-2011 […the liberal way of life that transcended religion, where Sufism and Shaivism coexisted, and evenings gave way to Sufiana mausiqi, or gatherings by the riverside…….];

IV:-Irfan Ahmed, & D. P. Saklani, “Evolution of Kashmiriyat, a Case of Socio-Cultural Assimilation During 14th& 15th Century”, Remarking an Analisation (India), 2016, Vol 1, Note 8, pages 73-75;

V:-T. N. Madan, “Kashmir, Kashmiris, Kashmiriyat: An Introductory Essay,” in Aparna Rao (ed.), The valley of Kashmir, (Manohar Publishers, New Delhi , 2008) page 8; another view holds that it was used by Muslim mystics for peaceful conversions to Islam , see Parvez Dewan, A History of Kashmir, (New Delhi: Manas Publication, 2008) page 3;

VI:-Op cit Chitralekha Zutshi page 258;

VII:-Nyla Ali Khan’s article “The Land of Lalla-Ded: Polarization of Kashmir & Construction of the Kashmiri Women”, Journal of International Women’s Studies, September- 2007, volume 9, Issue 1, Article 2, page 25. To buttress her point, Dr Nyla Ali Khan quotes, inter alia, Salman Rushdie “describes the sentiment of “Kashmiriyat” succinctly in his fictionalized account of the history of Jammu and Kashmir: “The words Hindu and Muslim had no place in their story . . . . In the valley these words were merely descriptions, not divisions…..”; see also Andrea Remes, Kashmiriyat: Culture, Identity & Politics (Universitiet, Leiden, 2016);

VIII. Read Sir Walter Roper Lawrence, The Valley of Kashmir (1895- printed/published in 2014 by Ali Mohammad Sons, Srinagar) page, page 286[Hindus at heart];

IX. Prof T N Madan quoting Late Prof M Isaaq Khan at length , cited in Shodganga (a portal hosted by Information & Library Network, an autonomous body promoted by the UGC with which 100+ universities of India are affiliated ; it is an Indian national repository of electronic thesis & dissertations), Chapter II, Understanding Kashmiriyat , pages 43-55; Riyaz Punjabi, K.Warikoo & other “academicians” of Kashmir hold similar views, see Identity & Conflict: Perspectives from Kashmir valley by Arpita Anant ,Strategic Analysis, volume 33, no 5, September 2009, page 761; Kashmiriyat rejected two nation theory & present Kashmiri “insurgency” which is threat to it aims at establishing Islamic world order, writes a vehement protagonist ,Meena Arora Nayak, in her essay, Kashmiriyat: An embracing spirit languishes like the dying chinar tree, World View Magazine , 2003, volume 16,number 1;

X. 1320-1392: See Wikipedia for further details;

XI. 1377-1440: See Wikipedia for further details,

XII. Research article titled “Political Awakening and the Religious Fissures in Kashmir Prior to 1947: by Rayees Ahmad Bhat published in Arts & Social Sciences Journal on 11-04-2017, Volume 8, Issue 2, page 5;

XIII. Op Cit Chitralekha Zutshi page 28;

XIV. Op cit Research article titled “Political Awakening and the Religious Fissures in Kashmir Prior to 1947: by Rayees Ahmad Bhat (emphasis added);

XV. PNK Bamzai, Culture & Political History of Kashmir (M D Publications, New Delhi 1994) Volume Two, page 220; P N Bazaz, the history of freedom in Kashmir , Cultural & Political ( first edition, 1954) page 278;

XVI. Omkar N Koul, Kashmiri Language Linguistics & Culture (Central Institute of Indian Languages, Manasagangotri, Mysore, 2000);

XVII. Op Cit Chitralekha Zutshi page 3;

XVIII. Ibid, page 28;

XIX. (expression “sub-nationalism” was used by an ex-PDP Minister, Haseeb Drabu, in a NDTV talk show “We the People” that was held at Srinagar by its anchorperson Barkha Dut in 2016 summer when Kashmir was at boil);

(To be concluded)