Saints And Sages of Kashmir

Their Role In Modern World And For Kashmiri Pandits

- Prof. S. Bhatt

Koshur Samachar

FROM time to time Kashmiri Samiti brings out a special issue of Koshur Samachar in honour of our saints and sages. One does understand the urge to bring out such publications for the benefit of our society and world society. Indeed because of globalisation of knowledge and culture, and in view of the fact that these heroes are a good source of harmony for our civilization, there is growing awareness to write about their role in modern world. We serve the cause of international brotherhood of mankind when we put before the world the message and the philosophy of our saints.

The saints of Kashmir are to Kashmiri Pandits their ancestors and they represent their heritage. Each Pandit has a 'gotra', a link to his clan, established by a Reshi, a saint long ago. There are over a hundred gotras. Thus Kashmir is also called Reshwar, meaning a habitat of reshis. In fact in the genetic and social sense, it is true to say that all Kashmiri Pandits of past and present are sages or their descendants. Some readers may question this observation which is based on scientific knowledge of genetics. Thus we find in the historical and the recent study of Kashmir, Kashmiri Pandits playing a saintly role in world affairs. One such Pandit was Jawaharlal Nehru who had a global vision of peace and harmony. He enunciated non-alignment and international cooperation in an age of global conflict. He promoted secularism in India in order to produce peace among various religious groups. The accession of Kashmir to India in 1947 was based on secularism and pluralism being the gospels of life-style in India. A great Indian scholar, Prof. Rashiduddin Khan, formerly of Jawaharlal Nehru University and Hamdard University has called attention of all people in India to live by the "Heritage of Jawaharlal Nehru". Here was a sage of modern era who combined science and secularism in making a dynamic and progressive India. Generation in the 21st century will recall his ever-lasting contribution in synthesizing the cultures and ideas of various religions and communities into a cosmopolitan scientific society in India. Secularism means equal respect for all religions, he said. It seems secularism is a new religion for the 21st century. Jawaharlal Nehru belonged to a Kaul dynasty of Kashmir, established by some reshi. Kashmiri Pandits and their organizations have a role to foster the development of global harmony. Indeed promoting global harmony by us is not a useless undertaking. There can be no better vocation than to let mankind live in peace. A harmony movement based on the noble ideas of Kashmiri saints is worth our efforts. By this process, we shall enrich our heritage at a time when our heritage is threatened by fundamental forces in Kashmir and in other parts of India and the world.

Global Fundamentalism Vs Secularism

During past few years the world is experiencing a conflict between fundamental forces of religion and the secular forces based on equal respect for all religions. At many places we have seen acute conk ict and bloodshed in former Yogoslavia, in parts of Asia and Africa and in Kashmir itself. A prominent scholar, Prof. Samual Huntington, Professor at Harvard University has written in 1996 a book widely publicised with the title. "The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order". The book deals with the subject of fundamentalism which according to the author may lead to a clash between various civilizations of America, Europe, China, Russia, India and the Muslim countries. He referred to the Kashmir problem, while on a visit to India, being caused by the fundamental forces operated from outside Kashmir. A solution to the clash of civilizations, according to the author, should be sought in accommodating them into one common civilization of mankind.

Kashmiri saints and sages have throughout history suggested a philosophy of resolving conflicts due to fundamentalism. Thus Shaivism, Sufism and the Kashmiriat which represent the way of life of all Kashmiri Hindus and Muslims are worthy philosophies which need to be recalled in our age and re-interpreted to counter the forces of fundamentalism.

Meditative Insights of Sages

I do not wish to list all the prominent sages of Kashmir in this short article who have produced harmony for mankind. Suffice to recall here that Lal Ded, Nund Rishi, Bhagwan Gopinath, are a few examples of our seers who have produced a profound impact on our society. In a world where communications are expanding fast, and knowledge about Kashmiriat and its spiritual and social philosophy is being carried to far corners of the world, it is time to think and do further research on the role of these saints for our society and for world society. The foremost service these saints did to mankind was to install a sense of unity among various religions. I think this major contribution needs to be highlighted again to counter global fundamentalism. Saints have shown new insights and new methods to produce harmony of religions. The knowledge about the universe is also a subject that modern science is pursuing. Thus the meditative insights of the sages is identical to the modern philosophy of science is which attempt is made to integrate scientific knowledge. Prof. Ilya Prigogine who was awarded a Nobel prize in physics in 1977 has called our attention to seek the unity of scientific insights with the vision of saints.

I have attempted to write on the contribution of Bhagwan Gopinath to the world order of the 21st century.' in recent times, Bhagwanji was loved by all Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir. He had seen the vision of God. He helped perform many acts based on his extraordinary spiritual insights. Above all, he produced harmony in Kashmir. An International Foundation is being established at Pamposh Enclave to propagate his ideas the world over. Many global centres of Bhagwanji have already been established outside India in USA, Australia etc. He represents the essense of Kashmiri Pandit heritage. Globally speaking, the younger generation in particular may read about this great saint of Kashmir of recent times who passed away in 1968 in Srinagar. He was a mystic of the highest order. And mysticism has finally caught up in the global curriculum, because in a modern scientific would mysticism has come to be associated with the scientific insight. Albert Einstein has said of mysticism: "The fairest thing is the mysterious; it is the cradle of true art and true science". In the global environment movement of our times when man is striving to understand nature and know about its mysteries, mysticism practiced by seers like Bhagwan Gopinath is of great value. Mysticism provides a new perception on the nature and science in general.

Concluding Remarks

I conclude my observations on our saints and sages with the plea that we ought to adopt and promote their philosophy in our daily life. There is need to study their lives and times, their aspiration for a better world, and their efforts for promoting Kashmiriat and global harmony. After all each one of us has a genetic and family link with these sages. We need to interpret their ideas and philosophy in the context of present problems of society. A small comunity such as the Kashmiri Pandits has produced a galaxy of outstanding saints and sages whose importance to world community cannot be ignored. They are torch bearers for a new world of 21st century. They have impact on our future shape of things to come. Some aspects of the creative unity of mankind based on the role of our saints is examined elsewhere by us in a recent academic treatise.
 

1. See S. Bhat, Patrika, Vol VIII, July 1997.

2. See Prof S. shaft and Prof. V.S. Mani, India on the Threshold of the 21st century: shape of things to come, a product of Jawaharlal Nehru university, New Delhi, 1999, pages 413, Lancers Books, New Delhi.

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