Help The Kashmir Monitor sustain so that we continue to be editorially independent. Remember, your contributions, however small they may be, matter to us.

“Kashiri Kahai Gare”

Kashmir A view of snow covered Houseboats and residential houses after seasons first snowfall in Srinagar Umar Ganie 2 scaled
File photo (KM/Umar Ganie)

By M J Aslam –

Literally, only eleven houses remained unharmed in Kashmir.

Note the word “eleven” in this Kashmiri proverb. There are several other Kashmiri idioms & proverbs associated with the number “eleven” in Kashmirian spoken & written folktales. But I will not refer to them here to for wasting the space only.


“Eleven” was a bad number considered in olden days of Kashmir. Why? Hare is the reason along with actual background of this proverb which is traced to 1320 AD when Raja Suhadeva/Sehdev was the last Brahman king of Kashmir. In the spring of that year, a Turk Mongalian warlord Zulqadar Khan, commonly known in Kashmiri chronicles as “Zulchu”, who was grandson of Halaku Kan son of Changez/Ghengis Khan , descended as Qiyamat /Utter Destruction, on the valley of Kashmir after having already destroyed Afghanistan, many parts of present day Khyber Pukhtun Khan, Baluchistan. He came from the Jehlum valley road and whatever came in his way he destroyed. For several months , that barbarian massacred the inhabitants of the valley, destroyed crops , houses, trees & whatever came his way. He looted & plundered the country. Raja Suhadeva , before arrival of Zulchu, had heard about Zilch, out of fear he fled the valley with his family & lived with his father in law at Kishtawar. That coward Brahman Raja did not face Zulchu. He remained comfortably at his in-laws home at Kishtaward,. Here in the valley, Zulchu was busy in bloodbaths of the inhabitants wherever he found them . Zulchu’s orgy of death and destruction continues till the start of winter he decamped via Dev Sar Range of mountains of Pir Panchal. The subjects who were then all non-Muslims , Hindus, were left by the Brahman King Suhadeva at the Mercy of God . Suhadeva’s PM/Military commander, Ram chander , too had gone in hiding . So were Rinchana & Shah Mir who were granted positions in Suhadeva court already. They too till Zulchu departed were in hiding due to the fear of ZULCHU. When Zulchu marched out of the valley through the mountains of Dev Sar alongwith 5000 captives of women & children, he faced wrath of God as great snowstorms came and killed most of them along with captives.

The inhabitants who had gone in hiding in caves in jungles & other distant places for safety during ZULCHU’s stay in Kashmir , started coming out of their hidden places, like rats and ants coming out of their holes after fear and bad weather is fine, & when they visited their homes , there was nothing left . It was devastation eveywhere. They looked for their near & dear ones but none was there left alive. Devasted by ZULCHU’s SAVAGERY , the inhabitants found hardly “one or two alive out of hundred” & all houses burnt down to ashes , no livestock, no crop , no homes. Their eyes were shedding tears of blood. It is recorded that “only eleven people could manage to rebuild their houses in the city” or only eleven houses/homes were spared in the valley. Later history of Rinchana and Shah Mir is not relevant in this context .

But , it was from this time that the captioned proverb came in use. “Kashir Ruuid Kahi Gareh”. However, you will be bit surprised to know that Kashmiri Brahman/KPs/ Bataas have used this phrase /proverb for their sectarian motives and propaganda against Muslim Rulers of Kashmir with a sinister design to save Suhadeva for his cowardice and failure to protect his subjects. The population was completely unhappy with Suhadeva and his predecessor Brahman Rajas whose feuds, Civil Wars and immorality had degraded Kashmirian society to terribly low ebb.

The proverb has been used first against reign of Sultan Sikandar with the allegation that his forced conversions and iconoclast activities had left only eleven Bata or Brahman families who remained ion their original Brahman creed. Rest had converted to Islam.

Then one more funny story is related to the son of Zainul Abidin to find origin of the proverb. I don’t feel compelled to narrate that mythical tale here.

Then, the origin of the proverb has been linked to the Pathan Rulers of Kashmir. No doubt , some Pathan Governors, like Azad Khan, were hard masters but not like ZULCHU khan who was not ruler but a insane wondering tyrant. Pathan Governors had made it compulsory for Brahmans /Bataas to learn Persian, to carry Qalam Dawaat in a girdle around their waiste and to eat overnight food and food prepared by Muslims. Bataas thought it against their Dharm. They thought practice of learning Persian n eating Muslim food had pollutted their creed. Sometimes some Pathans forbade them drawing Tika on forehead. They were very funny people indeed. Was it in anyway comparable to Zulchu Barbarity? Not at all.

Under a well thought of plan, of demonizing Muslim Rulers of Kashmir, 500’ years Muslim Rule of India, Muslims who constituted 85% of the population of J&K State in 1947 as per census records of that time before Jammu-Muslim-Genocide, this folklore with a number of other tales/idioms with number “eleven” used therein has been, therefore, created in the past to impress upon the Kashmiri minds that Eleven has something terrible in the past history of Kashmir for KPs, ignoring actual genesis of the proverb. Most of the proverbs of Kashmiri language have been mischievously distorted & portrayed far from the reality. A section of Muslim population of J&K , mostly educated , for “vested interests”, have lent their credence in many distorted proverbs without digging deep into the annals of Kashmir history.