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Of ignoramus eager beavers - The Indian Express

Jagmohan ()
21 February 1997

Title : Of ignoramus eager beavers
Author : Jagmohan
Publication : The Indian Express
Date : February 21, 1997

It speaks volumes about Indian 'intellectuals' of the genre who
gathered in Calcutta recently for a meeting with their Pakistani
counterparts that they spoke of the 'people of Kashmir' as if they
were a different entity to the people of India. As reported by a
national daily, "Not a single Indian, senior politician or
intellectual raised objection to the resolution on Kashmir which
reads like a document that could have been drafted in Islamabad or
Washington ... The resolution passed puts Kashmir in the category
of a third country."

India is bursting at the seams with 'intellectuals' and busybodies
who damage the country with their fake notions and motivation.
What is the depth of study and standing of the 'intellectuals' who
gathered at the Calcutta Forum for Peace and Democracy? Do they
know, or care to know, that Kashmir's relationship with the rest of
India is based not merely on the Instrument of Accession and
Articles 1 and 370 of the Constitution; it is rooted in more potent
and enduring forces which neither past turbulence nor present-day
nihilism can destroy? It is a relationship of mind and soul that
has existed from time immemorial, and led Kalhana to say in the
Rajtarangni : "There is hardly any place in Kashmir that is not a
tirtha" or prompted Vincent Smith to observe that ancient India had
nothing more worthy of its early civilisation than the grand ruins
of Kashmir.

Have these 'intellectuals' cared to ponder the Indian vision and
Kashmir's place in it? Is India a mere collection of states and
territories? Is it a new political reality only or also an
expression of a common heritage and culture that have nurtured the
same way of life in diverse circumstances and in different regions?

What forces brought into existence, about 4,000 years ago, a quiet
little temple on what is now known as the Shankaracharya Hill?
What made the great Kashmir King Lalitaditya (721-761) build the
glorious temple in honour of Surya at Martand, and Avanti Verman
(855-883) construct equally splendid temples at Avantipura? What
inner urges did these constructions symbolise? What philosophy,
what temper of mind did they represent? Were they not products of
the same cultural forces that prevailed in other parts of India?

How is it that for thousands of years, the learned Brahmins of
South India have been known, on rising, for folding their hands,
looking northward and praying: Namaste; Saradadevi; Kashmira
Mandala Vasini (I salute the Goddess Sarada who resides in
Kashmir)? Why do parents tell their children to seek the blessings
of this goddess of learning?

What made Adi Shankara, when he wanted to rejuvenate the spirit of
India, travel from the small hut of Kaladi in Kerala to the distant
hills of Kashmir and compose his famous poem, Soundarya Lahari,
propounding his philosophy of Shakti and Shiva? Why is Abhinava
Gupta, the great savant of Kashmir Shaivism, also called
"Shankaracharya of Kashmir", and how does he draw his thought from
the same cultural spring as Adi Shankara?

What attracted Swami Vivekananda from Calcutta to Kanyakumari and
then to Kashmir? What made him, standing before the Holy Cave of
Amarnath, experience such ecstasy that for days he could speak of
nothing but the image of Shiva and proclaim that he had never been
so greatly inspired?

What do the various landmarks on the route from Pahalgam to
Amarnath Chandanwari, Pishu Ghati, Sheshnag, Panchtarni - stand
for? Are they not some of the most important symbols of Indian
culture and beliefs? Why has Kashmir always held an innate
attraction for Indian saints and sages, poets and philosophers, and
provided them with inspiration? What, in moments of poetic
intensity, made Kalidasa see the 'laughter of Shiva' in the
Himalayas and Subramania Bharati think of Kashmir as the Crown of
Mother India?

Kashmir, for thousands of years, had been a part of the Indian
vision - a silent and serene, yet a solid and strong part; an
integral and inseparable part. Any proposition that puts the
people of Kashmir and of India in different compartments does
violence to history and true intellectualism.

It is both amusing and tragic to note that the Calcutta
conventionists dwelt upon "the need to educate the people about the
facts and real issues about Kashmir". Should not they educate
themselves first?

Equally important is whether the Calcutta-type gathering is pushed
by its own superficiality or driven to play someone else's game.
There is a good deal of evidence to indicate that the United States
is inclined to have an independent or semi-independent Kashmir with
a view to attaining its long-term goals in South and Central Asia.

In January of 1993 and 1994, the US Institute of Peace, Washington,
a 'think tank' funded by the US Congress, held two seminars.
Non-officials from India, Pakistan and "both parts of Kashmir",
thought by the Institute to exercise influence over public opinion
- especially through the media - were invited. The 'framework'
papers and pattern of discussions seemed to suggest that the
'position of Kashmiris as central actors' needed to be given a 'top

The intention was clearly to prepare a background for a change in
the thinking of both India and Pakistan. One of the Indian
participants, in a newspaper article, written after the Washington
meeting, argued: "How long can India be indifferent to the status
damage it suffers as a result of the continuing bloodletting in

The United States sees new opportunities in the troubled waters of
Kashmir and it is moving, albeit unobtrusively, to seize them. An
independent or semi-independent Kashmir could serve as an effective
instrument for putting pressure on China. It could also help the
US acquire a stronger foothold in the five Central Asian Republics
and manipulating events in Russia to prevent an unfriendly power
structure from re-emerging there. Pakistan could become a client
state to a greater degree and India's arm twisted more forcefully.

In this background, would it be wrong to assume that attempts are
again afoot to float separatist ideas and to create a climate in
which these ideas could germinate, strike roots and fructify? If
the Indian 'intellectuals' do not have the scholarship and stamina
to go deep into Kashmir's relationship with the rest of India, the
least they can do is to be more cautious in joining the conventions
and seminars the stated aim of which may be different from the
unstated one.

The writer is an MP and a former Governor of Jammu and Kashmir

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