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Valley of question - The Statesman

Jagmohan ()
August 4, 1998

Title: Valley of question
Author: Jagmohan
Publication: The Statesman
Date: August 4, 1998

History says Kashmir belongs to India

After the nuclear tests by India on 11 and 13 May 1998, a few
editorials and articles have appeared in The Statesman and some
other national dailies which tend to build a proposition m favour
of holding a plebiscite to settle the Kashmir issue. This
proposition is basically flawed. It emanates from a mindset that
thinks in terms of political idiom evolved by the British regime
in India. It refuses to face the fundamental question: What is
India?

Is India a mere collection of states and territories or something
more than that? Is it a new political reality only or also an
expression of a common heritage and history, a common culture, a
common set of values that have nursed and nurtured the same way
of life for ages in diverse circumstances and in different
regions.

The answer o these questions is clear. The new Republic is a new
constitutional entity. But it is not merely that. It is also a
historical and cultural continuity - a continuity that is unique,
a continuity that mocks at the ravages of time and has remained
unperturbed by the scars and stains left by the upheaval and
uproads of history. An all parts of the country, including
Kashmir, are a part of this continuity.

Rooted

Few in our country - practically none among the power-elites who
have dominated the political scene in the post-Independence
period - realise 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 of India; it is rooted in
far more potent and enduring forces whom neither the turbulence
and tornadoes of the past nor the negativism and nihilism of the
present day politics can really troy. It is a relationship of
mind and soul that has existed from the immemorial. To understand
in depth Kashmir's relationship with the rest of India, it is
necessary to address ourselves to a few basic questions.

What were the forces that brought into existence, about 4,000
years ago, a quiet little temple on what is now known as the
Sankaracharya Hill? What made the great Kashmiri King Lalitaditya
(721-761) to build the glorious temple in honour of Surya, the
Sun God, at Martanda and Avanti Verman (855-883) to construct
equally splendid temples at Avantipura? What inner urges did
these constructions symbolise? What philosophy, what temper of
mind, did they represent? Were these inner urges, these tempers
of mind, 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, on getting up from bed, folded their
Viands, looked northward and prayed: Namaste; Saradadevi;
Kashmira Mandala Vasini (I salute the Goddess of Sarada who
resides in Kashmir). Why is it that even now parents tell their
children to seek the blessings of this Goddess of Learning who
has her abode in North Kashmir in the Valley of Kishanganga?

What made Sankara, when he wanted to rejuvenate the spirit of
India, to travel from a small hut of Kaladi in Kerala all the way
to the distant hills in Kashmir? And what made him stay there
for quite some time and compose his famous poem, Soundarya
Lahari, propounding his philosophy of Shakti and Shiva? Why is it
that Abidaya Gupta, the great savant of Kashmir Shaivism, is also
called "Sankaracharya of Kashmir- and how is it that he draws his
philosophic thought from the same cultural spring as that of
Sankara?

What were the forces that attracted Swami Vivekananda from
Calcutta to Kanyakumari and then to Kashmir? What made him,
standing before the holy cave of Amarnath, experience one of the
highest stages of spiritual ecstasy? Why was he so captivated by
the sight in the Cave that for days, to use the words of Sister
Nivedita, he could speak of nothing else but the image of Shiva
and proclaim that he had never been so greatly inspired as then?

What do the great landmarks on the route from Pahalgam to the
Cave of Amarnath-Chandanwari, Pishu-Ghati, Panchtarni-stand for?
Are they not some of the most important symbols of Indian culture
and beliefs?

How is that Kashmir had always an innate attraction for Indian
saints and sages, poets and philosopher provided them with
perennial inspiration? What, in moments of poetic intensity, made
Kalidasa see the aughter of Shiva in the Himalaya and
Subramania Bharati think of Kashmir as the Crown of Mother India?

Inseparable

The answer to all these questions is one and only one. Kashmir,
for thousands of years, has been a part of the Indian vision - a
silent and serene, an integral and inseparable part.

Even when Islam came to Kashmir, it did not alter the ethos of
the common folk. Most of the Islamic teachings were just grafted
on Vedantic beliefs and thoughts. The central message of
Kashmir's patron saint and under of the Rishi Order, Sheik
Nuruddin Noorani was: There is one God,/ But with a hundred
names./ There is not a single blade of grass,/ Which does not
worship Him.

Sheikh Nooruddin himself was deeply influenced by Lal Ded who
"saw Shiva and Shakti sealed in one and whose outlook was
permeated with some of the finest components of Indian thoughts
and tradition.

Both Sheikh Nooruddin and Lal Ded were endowed ith vision which
increases the power of speech and also with inspired speech that
makes vision penetrating=94. It was their inspired speech and
penetrating vision, coupled with earthy sense and rub of life,
that kept the Kashmiri ethos within the overall cultural
mainstream of India even after a very large part of the Valley's
population had been brought under the fold of Islam. The
followers of the Rishi Order abhorred killing. Like the Jains,
they were careful not to cause harm even to insects. Sheikh
Nooruddin went to the extent of refusing to walk on grass lest it
should be damaged. Poet Mohammad Iqbal, who was a Kashmiri by
descent, also noted in one of his Persian couplets, the habit of
Kashmiri Muslims to carve out oortis even from the stones of
graves.

The list of the living symbols and signposts of Kashmir's
relationship with the rest of India is lost and virtually
unending. But all these have so far been ignored. Such powerful
has been the hold of the British political idiom on the Indian
mind that even the top political leadership has not been able to
extricate itself from its web and formula a true and elevating
vision of India. Unless such a vision is attained, separatist and
self-destructive ideas would continue to be floated not only in
relation to Jammu and Kashmir but also in relation to many other
territories and regions of the Union. And, then, Balkanisation of
India would only be a matter of time.

Mistake

If Nehru made the mistake of offering plebiscite, there is no
reason why subsequent generation should perpetuate it,
particularly when Pakistan's violation of the U N Resolution of
13 August 1948, and its two blatant attempts to take Jammu and
Kashmir by force in 1965 and 1971 had absolved India of moral or
legal obligation that she might have acquired on account of
ehru's promise=94.

Modern history has clearly shown that principle of self-
determination, when translated in practice, is nothing but an
instrument of self-destruction. The recent experience of
Yugoslavia should leave no one in doubt about the dreadful
consequences of this principle. Well-meaning and peaceful
communities have been savagely destroyed and new term - thnic-
cleaning - added to the vocabulary of political horror.

The principle of self-determination, moreover, creates many
practical problems. A U N study has concluded that if formation
of new states on grounds of ethnicity and religion or principle
of self-determination is accepted, there would be about 5,000
sovereign states, rendering the international system unworkable.

The true and lasting solution of Kashmir and many other problems
that the country faces today is for India to acquire a new vision
based on the centuries-old commonality of mindscape of its people
and to make effective that vision with the zeal of a missionary.
This is the only way of construction without destruction, of
democratisation without fragmentation, of humanisation without
the blood-stains of spurious slogans. The challenge before us is
to mingle and melt all the subsidiary strands into a great
tradition of Indian culture and create a new alloy - an alloy
that is a reflex of our historical reality of unity in diversity
and of our cultural ideology of ne in all and all in one=94.


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