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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2963

Kashmir’s vedic past preserved in hariparbat rocks

By J N Raina - Syndicate Features

"Men do not make their history in isolation from the past. The memories of dead generations hang like a millstone around the necks of present generations", said Karl Marx long years ago. This is true of Srinagar. Founded originally by Emperor Ashok in the third century B C, the city might have lost much of its resplendence, because of militancy, but a lot of its pre-historic grandeur, hovering around Vedic period, remains preserved in Hariparbat, a hillock in the heart of the old city.

The abode of Goddess Durga, Hariparbat, over which a fort was built by Emperor Akbar in 1592, is a saga of the ancient history, which finds mention in Kalhana’s Rajtarangani (chronicle of kings) and the Mahabharata.

The 12th century historian, Kalhana, in his Sanskrit chronicle, has described Hariparbat as "the epicentre of spiritualism in Kashmir". Mahabharata and other religious scriptures refer to Hariparbat as the ‘principal’ seat (Pradhumna Peeetha) of the Goddess, worshipped locally as ‘Sharika’.

Till militancy made its presence felt, circumambulation of the hillock was a ritual for devout Hindus. It is believed that Hariparbat represents the abode of nine crore (90 million) manifestations of the Goddess.

Each and every rock is regarded very sacred by the local Hindu community, or Kashmiri Pandits, who have been exiled by the Pakistan-backed terrorists. The Pandits, now scattered all over the country, are the original aborigines of Kashmir. They pine to see Hariparbat, which used to be the centre of cultural and religious activities.

Although very few authentic documents have survived various invasions of Kashmir, much of the 5000-year-old Vedic period has been preserved in the hillock. Sadly enough, the hillock has been neglected and it is facing extinction. People who live in its vicinity have been damaging the image-bearing rocks, because of ignorance. They have been using stones for house construction and other purposes.

According to Kashmiri litterateur and Sanskrit scholar, "Ghulam Rasool Santosh, there exists no less than 30 million of ‘Trikuti’ Gods on Hariparbat". He extensively studied Hariparbat rocks till his death in the mid-nineties. Santosh was among the early targets of militants for his scholastic qualities and deep knowledge of Vedic philosophy.

Said Santosh at a well attended lecture, "So far my findings and observations go I have been able to locate all the rocks and stones on the hill. They are chiselled and shaped as if by human hands; and carved images are produced there from. This fully supports the ancient tradition".

About the parikrima (going around) of the hill, he used to say, it leads "one to truth". Why? Because all ‘mantras’ are alive and vibrant in the hillock. However, in his view, ‘mantras’ are not written or carved on any rock. The very visual images on the hillock represent the sound images as produced by the mantras, according to him.

Santosh claimed to have decoded the images and "derived thereof both ‘mantras’ and ‘yantras’. Every mantra as a pure sound must correspondingly have a pure image," he believed. Geometry is a pure image, which is a ‘yantra’ and ‘Mantra’ as a composite sound must have a correspondingly composite image. All the carved images on the hill are of a composite nature, he contended.

Kashmir has been the seat of ancient learning, which is attested by an account left by the fifth century Chinese traveller Fa-Yong. Kashmir, known as ‘Rishivar’, was the abode of Rishis (sages). The Rishi lineage goes upto Maharishi Kashayapa. Goddess Sharika had appeared before him in the form of ‘Haer’ (bird) Sarika.

The Kashmiri proverb "satan sendran tal (hidden under seven sindoors (vermilion)", denotes the vow to preserve ‘the secret’. "Literally, it refers to the seven sindoor-smeared rocks enshrining the ancient secrets of the Rishis, discernible only through their visual and sound-bearing images", Santosh said in an article, which appeared in ‘Shiraz’, a journal published by the Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages in 1987.
These smeared rocks represent: Mahaganesh, Zala (the Goddess of the volcano), Sapth Rishi, Mahakali, Chakreshwari, Sheetla and Haer, known as Sedda, All of these are located to the north-east of the hillock. "The primeval ‘roopa’ (manifestation) of Mother Sarika---‘Haer’--- crowns the hillock right up to the fort", said Santosh in the article.

Geologists believe that the land reclaimed as ‘Kashmir’, is between three lakh years to four lakh years old. It is a legend that water of the vast mountain lake called ‘Satisara’ got drained out due to the penance of Maharishi Kashyap, who had got this boon from Lord Shiva.

There is a reference to it in the Neelmatpurana (this is an additional Purana for Kashmir) that when Sati (consort of Lord Shiva) burnt herself in the ‘yagnya’ performed by her father Dakshiprajapata (father-in-law of Lord Shiva), Shiva brought the burnt corpse of Sati and immersed it in the Satisar. The existing remnants of this dead-water lake are the water bodies of Wular lake, Dal lake, Anchar lake, Hokarsar and many other lakes in the Kashmir Himalayas.

Kashyap Rishi had devoted his entire spiritual life in fighting the water demon Jaladabhava, because he had obstructed the flow of the lake water down the gorge, near the north-western end of the lake. The demon was finally killed by the Goddess Sharika, who had appeared in the form of the bird ‘Haer’.

The death of the demon later led to the speedy flow of the water and the lake turned into a heaven-like vale, which late came to be called as Cashmere or Kashmir.

- Syndicate Features -

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