MANIGAAM, the silent sleepy village in the north of Kashmir, about 25 kilometres from Srinagar, which had been hallowed in the late 17th century by Mata Rupa Bhawani during the days of her early penance, produced in the early part of this century a gem of a Faqir, a Mastana, who led a normal life of a Grahasta, and, earned his bread by tilling whatever little land he possessed till the end of his life.
As one crossed VAYIL bridge on the outskirts of the tiny village, one came across a well-built, thinly dressed peasant engaged in ploughing the field. This was the divine figure of the mystic-saint popularly known as Kashkak. A mere darshan brought comfort and solace to one and all who have had the good fortune of visiting him. Small wonder, then, that those who thronged Manigaam day in and day out for Kashkak's darshan included not only the common men, women and children, the rich businessmen, and top government officials, seeking divine favours, but also contemporary saints and sages of Kashmir and the rest of the country. Meher Baba, that silent sage from Poona who was declared an Avatar by his followers, visited Kashkak and accepted Prasad from him. Recording the reminiscences of his meeting with the Manigaam seer, Meher Baba says in his famous work on Saints, "The Wayfarers", that he found Kashkak ever engrossed in Higher self in the 7th plane of Consciousness.
I know of two other contemporary saints - Swami Nandlal Ji and Swami Lakshman Joo, who had darshan of the sage of Manigaam.
Initiated into the Yogic Sadhana by his Guru, Narain Bhan, Kashkak attained Siddhi sooner than expected. Once in a trance, he is said to have climbed a tree wearing Khadaoon, (wooden slippers). Known for his uncanny prophesies, he did appear to have used spiritual powers in the service of God's creatures. It was said of him that he never disappointed anyone and fulfilled everyone's wishes. Once, I vividly remember, a Gujar with his right arm fractured came to Kashkak and implored, "Bab (father), this is the harvesting season, and down and out as I am, my family will die of starvation if I am not alright. Be kind and heal my arm". The sage touched the fractured arm and it was restored to normal health. The Gujar sped away in joy, but an elderly Muslim, sitting alongwith others, including myself, was not happy. Turning to Kashkak, he asked, "why on earth Bab, should you have been so kind to a person who is known for his cunning?" "We are here to serve and do good, simplify matters rather than complicate them. If his arm was not cured, his family would have suffered for no fault of theirs. If, indeed, the Gujar is a bad man, he will have to go through the hell again after the harvesting season", the sage replied. As I learnt later, the Gujar had to go through normal medical process long after the harvesting seasson.
Kashkak's predictions were often shrouded in ambiguity, made more so by his reciting persian couplets. To a querry as to when a particular gentleman who had accompanied me, my father and mother to the saint in the summer of 1942, would get married, Kashkak replied," Yora Gachhith ta Tora Yith", meaning" let him die first and then be reborn". The said gendeman from Ali Kadal, now in his 81st year, remains unmarried to this day.
A poor farmer that he was, Kashkak displayed utmost hospitality and those coming from far-off places for his darshan were allowed to stay at night and were served simple meal of rice, curd, dal and vegetables. He treated the rich and poor alike, never discriminated between a Hindu and a Muslim. He always refused offerings in kind or cash. Whatever was offered used to be thrown by him in the Sindh river that flowed nearby.
Kashkak attained Mahasamadhi on 17th of August, 1961.