What picture do you get currently when you think or hear about Kashmir?
A conflicted zone, where security forces keep fighting terrorists! A place like heaven turned down to hell with bloody wars and political dramas.
Well before all this started, you will be startled to know that it was a place filled with tranquillity, before the region was overwhelmed by the Islamic invasions from the Hindu Kush region.
In the first half of the 1st millennium, the Kashmir region was an important centre of Hinduism and later of Buddhism. Islamization in Kashmir took place during 13th to 15th century and led to the eventual decline of the Kashmir Shaivism in Kashmir. However, the achievements of the previous civilizations were not lost, but were to a great extent absorbed by the new Islamic polity and culture which gave rise to Kashmiri Sufi mysticism. The Kashmir Shaivism traditions became nearly extinct except for their preservation by Kashmiri Pandits.
Even the names of the cities and regions in the valley are derived from Sanskrit and have Hinduism connect.
Before the Afghan rulers (1750s–1819), Mughals (1580s–1750s) and Kashmir Sultanate (1346–1580s), the Srinagar was built during the reign of Ashoka (304–232 BCE) and it was called Srinagari then!
KASHMIR: ( KASHYAPA-PURA )
According to folk etymology, the name “Kashmir” means “desiccated land” (from the Sanskrit: Ka = water and shimeera = desiccate). In the Rajatarangini, a history of Kashmir written by Kalhana in the mid-12th century, it is stated that the valley of Kashmir was formerly a lake. According to Hindu mythology, the lake was drained by the great rishi or sage, Kashyapa, son of Marichi, son of Brahma, by cutting the gap in the hills at Baramulla (Varaha-mula). When Kashmir had been drained, Kashyapa asked Brahmins to settle there. This is still the local tradition, and in the existing physical condition of the country, we may see some ground for the story which has taken this form. The name of Kashyapa is by history and tradition connected with the draining of the lake, and the chief town or collection of dwellings in the valley was called Kashyapa-pura, which has been identified with Kaspapyros of Hecataeus (apud Stephanus of Byzantium) and Kaspatyros of Herodotus. Kashmir is also believed to be the country meant by Ptolemy’s Kaspeiria. Cashmere is an archaic spelling of Kashmir, and in some countries it is still spelled this way.
According to the Mahabharata, the Kambojas ruled Kashmir during the epic period with a Republican system of government from the capital city of Karna-Rajapuram-gatva-Kambojah-nirjitastava, shortened to Rajapura, which has been identified with modern Rajauri.
PEER PANJAL: (PANCHALA)
Panjal is simply a distorted form of the Sanskritic tribal term Panchala. The Muslims prefixed the word peer to it in memory of Siddha Faqir and the name thereafter is said to have changed into Peer Panjal.
According to legend, Jammu was founded by Hindu King Raja Jambu Lochan in the 14th century BC. During one of his hunting campaigns he reached the Tawi River where he saw a goat and a lion drinking water at the same place. The king was impressed and decided to set up a town after his name, Jamboo. With the passage of time, the name was corrupted and became “Jammu”.
Now coming back to Kashmiri Shaivism, it is a group of nondualist Tantric Shaiva exegetical traditions from Kashmir that originated after 850 CE. This tradition is also termed the Trika school and was actually pan-India.
Kashmir Shaivism claimed to supersede Shaiva Siddhanta, a dualistic tradition which scholars consider normative tantric Shaivism. The Shaiva Siddhanta goal of becoming an ontologically distinct Shiva (through Shiva’s grace) was replaced by recognizing oneself as Shiva who, in Kashmir Shaivism’s monism, is the entirety of the universe.
Shiva, the adiyogi and his “Hath Yoga” is also believed to be originated from the same valley!
And it’s startling to know that its philosophy resembles and reveals what quantum physicists and meta physicists currently seem to be discovering: Read it to believe it:
According to Tantric scholar-practitioner Christopher Wallis outlines the philosophical view of non-dual Shaiva Tantra thus:
“All that exists, throughout all time and beyond, is one infinite divine Consciousness, free and blissful, which projects within the field of its awareness a vast multiplicity of apparently differentiated subjects and objects: each object an actualization of a timeless potentiality inherent in the Light of Consciousness, and each subject the same plus a contracted locus of self-awareness. This creation, a divine play, is the result of the natural impulse within Consciousness to express the totality of its self-knowledge in action, an impulse arising from love. The unbounded Light of Consciousness contracts into finite embodied loci of awareness out of its own free will. When those finite subjects then identify with the limited and circumscribed cognitions and circumstances that make up this phase of their existence, instead of identifying with the transindividual overarching pulsation of pure Awareness that is their true nature, they experience what they call “suffering.” To rectify this, some feel an inner urge to take up the path of spiritual gnosis and yogic practice, the purpose of which is to undermine their misidentification and directly reveal within the immediacy of awareness the fact that the divine powers of Consciousness, Bliss, Willing, Knowing, and Acting comprise the totality of individual experience as well—thereby triggering a recognition that one’s real identity is that of the highest Divinity, the Whole in every part. This experiential gnosis is repeated and reinforced through various means until it becomes the nonconceptual ground of every moment of experience, and one’s contracted sense of self and separation from the Whole is finally annihilated in the incandescent radiance of the complete expansion into perfect wholeness. Then one’s perception fully encompasses the reality of a universe dancing ecstatically in the animation of its completely perfect divinity.”
Shaivism writings have mainly a metaphysical content. Due to their extremely high spiritual and intellectual level, this part of the written tradition of Shaivism is the least accessible for the uninitiated. Such is the glory and richness of Shaivism.
This is just a beginner outline; a tip of iceberg, of the rich Kashya pura (Kashmir) history and it shouldn’t be ignored and forgotten.
CC BY-SA 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12590254
By toyin adepoju – the_birth_of_ten_mahavidyas_with_shiva_parvati_dk47.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16543786
By Vidaikodiselvar S.Danabala – Department of Hindu Religious and Cultural affairs, Sri Lanka, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56694252