The recent Hindi film titled The Kashmir Files has become the most talked about topic not only in India but also globally. The movie narrates the story of a brutal genocide on Hindus that was perpetrated by Islamists in 1990s across the Valley. However, genocide in Kashmir dates back to medieval India. It is horrifying to see how ancient Kashmir, which had deep roots in Hinduism, has become a Muslim-majority State in modern India.
Kashmir, deemed as the most beautiful place on earth (and quite rightly so, is actually heaven on earth), finds mention in several Puranas. According to Nilamata Purana, the land of Kashmir was occupied by a vast lake called Satisara. On the basis of this fact, the word Kashmir is derived from the Sanskrit “Kashyapa + Mira”, which means sea lake or the mountain of sage Kashyapa. Kashyapa is said to be the originator of Kashmir. Ancient Kashmir was really rich in holy places, and the objects of pilgrimages were planted throughout the Valley. Not only Kashyap, but other great minds such as Utpaladeva, the author of Shiva-Stotravali, Bharat Muni, the author of Natya Shastra, Patanjali, Panini, and others were associated with ancient Kashmir and contributed to making it a living heaven by sharing their knowledge.
According to Rajtarangini (a history book of ancient Kashmir), it was a country in which there was no space even as large as a grain of sesame without a pilgrimage. It is said that there was a time when mornings in Kashmir Valley used to start with the recitation of ॐ(OM) and ringing bells in the temples.
Islamisation reached its peak during the era of Sikandar Shah Miri (1389), who gained the title of Butshikan, meaning the idol breaker. During this period, Hindu people had to convert to Islam and, thus, gradually, most of the people of Kashmir became Muslims, including parts of Jammu
According to modern historians, Kashmir Islamists ruled by 136 Hindu and Buddhist kings, with Gonanda I, 3238–3188 BCE, claiming to be the first known king of Kashmir. The Valley was ruled by approximately 84 kings after Gonanda I until 3rd Century BCE. However, none of these facts are mentioned in our school history textbooks.
It is well established that Emperor Ashoka propagated Buddhism in Kashmir in 3rd Century BCE. What is to be accentuated here is that Buddhism was widely spread in Kashmir even before Emperor Ashoka, having the patronage of both Buddhist and Hindu monarchs. It spread from Kashmir to Ladakh, Tibet, and China. The Rajatarangini and three Chinese travellers to Kashmir between 630 and 760 AD both mention about propagation of Buddhism by the monarchs of Kashmir.
Names of Hindu Kings Missing
Later, during Kanishka’s reign, the fourth Buddhist Mahasangiti (Buddhist Council) of the Sarvastivada tradition was organised at Kundal Van Vihar in Srinagar under the presidency of Katyayani Putra. In the beginning of the 6th Century, the Huns were in control of Kashmir. The Kashmir Valley remained an independent State until 530 AD. After this, kings of the Ujjain Empire ruled it. There was a time when Ujjain used to be the capital of united Bharat. After the fall of the Vikramaditya dynasty (Ujjain), local rulers started ruling Kashmir. A mixed form of Hindu and Buddhist culture developed there. Shaivism was developed in Kashmir in the 6th Century. Spandakarika, a compilation of Vasugupta’s books, is considered to be the first authentic book of that era. The first and foremost name of Shaiva kings is that of Mihirkul, who belonged to the Hun dynasty. The Hun dynasty was followed by Gonanda II and the Karkota Naga dynasty, whose king, Lalitaditya Muktipeed is included in the list of the greatest kings of Kashmir. Among the Hindu kings of Kashmir, Lalitaditya (697 CE–738) became the most famous king whose kingdom extended from Bengal in the East and the Konkan in the South to Turkistan in the North-West and Tibet in the North-East. Surprisingly, Lalitaditya is also missing from our history textbooks. Avantivarman of the Utpal dynasty, who came to power in 855 AD and whose reign was a period of happiness and prosperity in Kashmir, is the next name in this sequence.
There was a time when mornings in Kashmir Valley used to start with recitation of ॐ(OM) and ringing bells in the temples. According to modern historians, Kashmir was ruled by 136 Hindu and Buddhist kings, with Gonanda I, 3238–3188 BCE, claiming to be the first known king of Kashmir. The Valley was ruled by approximately 84 kings after Gonanda I until 3rd Century BCE. However, none of these facts are mentioned in our school history textbooks
There is also a long tradition of litterateurs and Sanskrit masters from Kashmir. The famous grammarian Rammat, Muktakan, Sivasvamin, and poets Anandavardhana and Ratnakar were members of the Rajya Sabha of Avantivarman. Sanskrit scholar poets-commentators such as Bhima Bhatt, Damodar Gupta in 7th century, Ksheer Swami, Ratnakar, and Vallabh Dev in 8th century, Mammatt, Kshemendra, and Somdev in 9th century, Jayadratha, and 11th century Kalhan. After Avantivarman’s death, the period of decline of Hindu kings began. During the time of the then king, Sahadeva, Mongol invader Dulcha attacked. Taking advantage of this opportunity, a Buddhist wrench named Rinchen, who came from Tibet, accepted Islam and took over the throne of Kashmir. Rinchen became Sultan Sadrudin and thus he became the first Muslim ruler of the Kashmir and from here onwards Islamisation started. Islamisation reached its peak during the era of Sikandar Shah Miri (1389), who gained the title of Butshikan, meaning idol breaker. During this period, Hindu people had to convert to Islam and, thus, gradually, most of the people of Kashmir became Muslims, including parts of Jammu.
Afghans Commit Atrocities
On October 16, 1586, the Mughal warlord Qasim Khan Mir defeated the Chak ruler Yakub Khan and established the Mughal Sultanate over Kashmir. After this, the Valley was ruled by non-Kashmiris for the next 361 years. Between this era and the next, Aurangzeb and subsequent rulers imposed a repressive policy on Hindus and Shia Muslims in the region, resulting in thousands of casualties and forced conversions.This bloodshed continued even after the fall of the Mughal dynasty.
After the fall of the Mughal dynasty, the Afghans, led by Ahmed Shah Abdali, occupied Kashmir (not Jammu and Ladakh) in 1752–53. Afghan Muslims committed terrible atrocities on the people of Kashmir (Muslims, Hindus, etc.). As is the case throughout the history of Islamic invasions, they plundered and ravaged the local architecture and temples, and raped the women. This plunder was continued under the rule of five different Pathan governors as well. The Pathans ruled the Kashmir Valley for the next 67 years. Fed up with their atrocities, Birbal Dhar, a Kashmiri Pandit, finally approached the Sikh King, Ranjit Singh, for help. Ranjit Singh sent an army of 30,000 with his most capable chieftains, including Hari Singh Nalwa, under the leadership of his successor, Kharak Singh. Finally, on June 15, 1819, Sikh rule was finally established in Kashmir.
However, with Ranjit Singh’s death in 1839, the Sikh Empire of Lahore began to disintegrate. For the British, it was an opportunity to control the dangerous border with Afghanistan, and for Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu, it was an opportunity to declare Kashmir as an independent State. After that, we all know what happened. It’s very disturbing to see how a place that was once a symbol of love, peace, and spirituality has changed into one of fear, pain, and bloodshed. Our ancestors, who made Kashmir their dream land, must be in deep anguish and rue whenever they hear the slogan “free Kashmir from Kafirs.”