Samsar Chand Koul
in the olden times was known as Reshi Bhumi or the land of saints. Cut off as it
was from the outside world by its mountain ramparts, its means of communication
were difficult. The people had developed their own script called, "Sharda"
and their own literature and philosophy. They cultivated various branches of
knowledge, and worked for humanity preferring action to theory.
Surrounded as the country is by the snow-clad
high mountains, water absorbed in the soil gives birth to numerous springs
scattered all over the country. Those springs are known as Nags (serpents). They
are dedicated to different gods or goddesses, hence some of the towns are named
after them, such as Anant Nag, Vetsar Nag, Tsandi Gam (after Tsandi Nag in the
Lolab Valley) and Ver Nag in Anantnag district. Special days are set apart in
the calendar to commemorate the story of those springs and fairs are held and
public worship takes place on such occasions.
One of these mysterious springs is situated near
village of Tulamulla. The whole place round Tulamulla is swampy and for miles
around there are rice fields. By the side of acqueducts grow a large variety of
wild flowers, the most common being Mentha sylvestris (Vena) which is
used in worship and the sale of which brings money to the peasant population.
It appears that Tulamulla is a sort of floating
garden, as the natives say that if they dig a whole in the ground, they find
fish coming from the tributary of the Sindh which drains the place. The village
is girt round by the tributaries of the Sindh which carry water from the Amar
Nath and Gangabal glaciers. There is also a stream of pyre water which rises
from the springs round the eastern side of the village and passing under a
bridge enters into the Sindh canal (also called Gangkhai).
The numerous islets are covered with willows and
poplars while the main island on which the spring stands is shaded with chinars,
mulberry and elm trees. Lately, the place is paved with dressed sandstones, but
there is much scope for the improvement and tidiness of the spot. Water and
vegetation being very abundant, mosquitoes are ubiquitous in July and August. In
summer, the birds nestling on trees produce melodious music at dawn. The golden
oriole, the thrush, the ringdove, the paradise flycatcher, the bulbul are
conspicuous by their song and plumage. In winter the wild fowl, the shoveller,
the mallard, the gadwall, the widgeon, the teal, the paddy bird, the coot and
such other birds are found in the Anchar Lake and round about the swamps.
Mention of this place is made in the last
chapter of the Ragyna Pradurbhava which is a section of the Bringish Samhita. It
is stated there that during the early period of the Epic Age, King Ravana ruled
Lanka, an island to the south of India. It was then a flourishing country having
sixteen hundred towns. This island is beautifully described in the Ramayana.
King Ravana in order to gain temporal power and glory worshipped goddess Parvati
(Shama) who manifested herself to him in all her nine aspects. For sometime he
remained sober-minded and worshipped the goddess with all devotion.
When Shri Rama King of Ajoydiya invaded Lanka
and the generals of his army Sugrev and Hanuman killed King Rhvana's brother
Kumbakaruna and his son Megnad, his wife Mandudhari entreated him to make peace
with Shri Rama. He was kindled with rage and tried to invoke the blessing of the
goddess by offering her various kinds of sacrifices. Thereupon the goddess,
wrathful at Ravana's misdeeds, cursed him and ordered Hanuman to take her to
Sati Sar (Kashmir) on her vehicle along with 360 Nags. Hanuman selected a spot
in the northern side of the valley within the space surrounded by the villages
of Borus (Bhawanish), Ahatung (Tungish), Ladwun (Labdawan), Wokur (Bhageh). Here
he installed the goddess with all her satellites. She was called Khirbhawani or
Raji Ragyni, exclusively preferring milk, sugar, rice and all vegetarian forms
of offerings. To quote from Stein's translation of Kalhana's Rajatarangini :
"When he (Jayapida) was appropriating (the land of) Tulamulya, he heard,
while on the bank of the Candrabhaga, that a hundred Brahmans less one had
sought death in the water of that (stream."......
Tulamulya is undoubtedly the present village, of
Tulamul, situated 74 deg 48' long. 34 deg 13' lat. among the marshes through
which the Sind River passes before joining the Vitasta. The large spring of
Tulmul is sacred as the habitation of Maharajni, a form of Durga extensively
worshipped among the Brahman population of Kashmir, and is accordingly to this
day the object of frequent and popular pilgrimages. The name is written as
Tulamulaka in Fourth Chron. 527, 531 and in Rajnipradurbhavamah.
In the midst of the wide water-logged tract of
the Sind Delta we find the ancient Tirtha of Tu-lamulya at the village now know
as Tulmul. The Purohita corporation of Tulamulya is represented as a well-to-do
and influential body already under King Jaydpida. (A.D. 850 and 88) The large
spring of Tulamulya is sacred to Maharajni, a form of Durga, and is still held
in great veneration by the Brahman population of Srinagar. It is supposed to
exhibit from time to time miraculous changes in the colour of its water, which
are ascribed to the manifestation of the goddess. Owing to its convenient
position the Tirtha attracts large numbers of pilgrims from the capital. Abu-ul-Fazal
notices the place and its marshy surroundings. About two and a half miles to the
east of Tulamul lies the village of Dudrhom on the main branch of the Sind which
have become first navigable. It is repeatedly referred to by Srivara under its
old name of Dugdhasrama.
"The worship of the `Mothers', which is
identical with that of the Saktis, plays a great part in the Tantra ritual
flourishing in Kashmir from ancient times.
It is said that Ravana's father Pulasti Reshi
lived in Kashmir.
The land was all swampy, made as it were of
floating gardens, it was light and bumpy, hence it was called Toola Mulla, from
two Sanskrit words. `Tool' meaning `cotton' and `Mulla' meaning `value',
A person aged about 90 (in 1948) told me that he
knew the time when reeds were placed along the swampy foot-path from Hur Mengin
Wor to enable the pilgrims to walk to the island. (Hur Mengan was a Spirit who
sometimes possessed the bodies of the persons travelling during the night and he
was a dread to the inhabitants of the neighbourhood.)
After some time a road was constructed by Mahant
Dharm Dass. Shah Radha Krishen, a merchant, paved the edge of the spring with
Baramulla stones and Dewan Narsingh Dayal built the big dharmshala on the north
of the spring during the reign of Maharaja Ranbir Singh. Later on, during recent
times the road was metalled (macadamised) and made fit for wheeled traffic. The
old dharmshala has been dismantled, new ones erected and the place made more
There is a legend that a long time ago the
goddess appeared to Pandit Govind Joo Gadru who arranged to go in a boat from
Sowura Ghat to the swampy side of the Anchar Lake. He took with him a number of
earthen vessels full of milk and when he found the sring, he poured milk into
it. The following is another version of the process which is said to have
brought the spring to light.
A pious Brahman Krishna Pandit saw a vision in
which he was informed by a Deva (an angel) that the spring of Khir Bhawani lay
among the swamps of Tulamulla. `How shall I be able to find out the spring?' He
asked. `Engage a boat as far as Shadipor, and from there a serpent will guide
you. When you will reach near the spring, the serpent will jump into it. That is
the spring', was the reply. He did as he was told, engaged a boat and came as
far as Shadipor.
A snake was seen swimming over the water of the
swamps. The boat followed the snake, which halted at a particular place where
Shri Krishna Pandit fixed a long stick to indicate the position of the holy
spot. After the snake moved in an oddly rectangular direction, the space thus
covered by it was demarcated with the fixation of sticks over the marshy area.
Thus was the divine spring discovered.
The swampy area around the spring was laid up
with dry earth carried in boats for this purpose. Shri Krishna Pandit along with
other persons and devotees from Srinagar started the worship of the goddess. At
the conclusion of the puja, it is said that a piece of birch bark was seen
floating over the water of the spring. Shri Krishna Pandit took it up and found
the sloka written on it. The verse described the divine form of the goddess
Ragni. This verse, in translation, read, "I make obeisance to that
one goddess who, having taken the position of the Supreme God is the Queen in
reality, whose form is made of light and is adorned by (the lustre of) twelve
suns, who cannot be observed through senses, who is seated on a throne and is
wrapped with serpents".
He composed a poem of as many stanzas as there
were letters in the sloka and this poem is still extant. He would pay a visit to
the spring on every 8th day of the bright fortnight as long as he lived.
Gradually, this place became known all over Kashmir and people began to gather
there to worship, while the people round the place sold milk, flowers and fuel
to the pilgrims which gives them a good business.
Before we enter on the main island, we see two
important places, one is the Ziarat of Mir Baba Haider, a Muslim saint and the
other is the Samad of Lobu Shah who had miraculous powers and lived some 150
Mention has been made in the Rajatarangani of
Raja Jayapida (A. D. 850-88) confiscating the lands of the Brahmans of Tulamulla.
The Brahmins troubled by the misdeeds of the Raja went in a body to see him.
They were detained by the courtiers. Thereupon, they raised a hue and cry and
were called by the Raja. They attacked him vehemently and one of them cursed him
with the result that there and then a golden rod from the royal canopy fell on
the Raja, causing him a wound which proved incurable and brought about his
The spring is situated in the centre of the
island round which the Gangkhai a canal from Sind makes a circuit. It is said
that this spring is surrounded by 360 springs. Most of these have fallen into
oblivion and are covered with bushes and silted up.
Before the main spring came to be known the
goddess was worshipped at Solur where under a Chinar tree a spring
still exists. This spot is called Devot Wol Buin. One mile north-east of
this island near Lodwan village is Ganesh Bal or Vodjen where Ganesh is
worshipped. The other springs which are still known are : Ashta Rudhar to the
south, Tsandar Nag to the south-east. Machi Nag, Naga Rad, Gokhin Nag are to the
The main spring dedicated to Goddess Khir
Bhawani or Ragyni has an irregular septagonal shape with apex called PAD (feet)
to the east. The northern and southern sides are longer than western side which
is called SHER (head). In the centre is an islet on which a temple had existed
once. There also grew a mulberry tree here. Now there is a small marble temple
which was built by His late Highness the Maharaja Partap Singh. The small flags
and miniature silver umbrellas presented to the goddess by the votaries are
placed in the temple.
Here is reproduced an extract from "Talks
with Swami Vivekananda" about the Holy Spring. "Then Swamiji said, on
the way back, he returned to Srinagar by the common route by which the pilgrims
return. A few days after returning to Srinagar he went to visit Kshir Bhavani
Devi and staying there for seven day worshipped the Devi and made Homa to Her
with offerings of Kshir (condensed milk). Every day he used to worship the Devi
with a maund of Khir as offering. One day, while worshipping, the thought arose
in Swamiji's mind:" Mother Bhavani has been manifesting Her Presence here
for untold years. The Mohammedans came and destroyed Her temple, yet the people
of the place did nothing to protect Her. Alas, if I were then living, I could
never have borne it silently". When, thinking in this strain, his mind was
much oppressed with sorrow and anguish, he distinctly heard the voice of the
Mother saying : "It was according to desire that the Mohammedans destroyed
the temple. It is my desire that I should live in dilapidated temple, otherwise,
can I not immediately erect a seven-storied temple of gold here if I like? What
can you do? Shall I protect you or shall you protect me!" Swamiji said :
"Since hearing that Divine Voice, I cherish no more plans. The idea of
building Maths etc. I have given up; as Mother wills, so it will be"
disciple speechless with wonder began to think "Did he not one day tell me
that whatever I saw and heard was but the echo of the Atma within me, that there
was nothing outside?" and fearlessly spoke it out also - "Sir, you
used to say that Divine Voices are the echo of our inward thoughts and
feelings". Swamiji gravely said : "Whether it be internal or external,
if you actually hear with your ears such a disembodied voice, as I have done,
can you deny it and call it false? Divine Voices are actually heard, just as you
and I are talking." The disciple without controverting accepted Swamiji's
words, for his words always carried conviction.
Such a mysterious spring is found nowhere in
India. The water of the spring changes its colour from time to time. I have
observed and found it rosy red, faint rosy, light green, lemon yellow, milky
white and grey white on various occasions. There is no special time or definite
period for this change of colour. Any shade of black colour is supposed to be
I have seen bubbles rising out of the water of
the spring and, forming three lines round the islet not regularly complete, but
a part here and a part there though in perfect order. These lines are said to be
the Dwara of the Chakra.
Chakra or Yantra of Rajni Devi (Tulamulla)
What is a Chakra? It is a mystic symbol. Every
goddess has her own Chakra. The Chakra of Kshir Bhavani consists of seven parts
enclosed one within the other. The Chakra popularly known as Yantra embodies
Mother Goddess with Her Shakties.
The people well-versed in various forms of
Tantric cult take mystic symbol to represent the inward psychic centres of the
body and concentrating on it under proper guidance are supposed to acquire
various superphysical powers. Tantrikism is the content of the Vedas and Agamas
and differs from one place to another challenging many syntheses. This is found
amply in Agamas in different systems as invocations of female deities identical
with Shakties. A special Power of goddess representing it is the time-honoured-form
of worship. The worship offers a mystic blend of Brahmanical and Buddhi
The Tantrikism has much influenced countries,
all ages, all places and all systems of philosophic thoughts and all ritualistic
practices. Innumerable are the systems of Tantric worship called by different
names, forms and systems. It has its own mine of literature with its celebrated
authors. A few of them are enumerated below :
Agama Tantrikism, Yamala Tantrikism,
Samyachara Tantrikism, Vajrayana Tantrikism, Kapalika Tantrikism, Saiva
Tantrikism, Siddha Tantrikism
Like all other metaphysical reorientations
Tantrikism is a way of worship. Tantrik symbolism and rituals elevate a man to a
state of bliss leading to salvation. The Tantrik psycho-physical discipline
formulates the diagram known Chakra, Yantra and Yoga. Rajni Devi (Kshir Bhavani
Devi) has Her prescribed diagram for worship in Tantra Shastra which is
reproduced here. It embodies the system as right-handed Tantrikism. The
following is the system of Rajni Devi's diagram (Chakra) with her Shaktis as
borne by the descriptions in the relative manuscripts and available literature
on the subject.
Puja of the Devi or Worship of Goddess
Dwara (Gate) (Outer line) (Siddhis)
1. Animah Siddhi Namah
2. Mahima Siddhi Namah
3. Lagima Siddhi Namah
4. Eshata Siddhi Namah
Middle Line (Mudra)
1. Sarva Sankhobini Mudrayay Namah,
2. Sarva Vidrawani Mudrayay Namah
3. Sarva Karshani Mudrayay Namah
4. Sarva Vashankari Mudrayay Namah
Innermost line (Shaktis)
1. Brahmi Shakty Namah
2. Maheshwari Shakty Namah
3. Kumari Shakty Namah
4. Vaishnavi Shakty Namah
Ashta Dal (Adhishtratri Devis)
1. Brahmey Namah
2. Maheshwaryay Namah
3. Kumarey Namah
4. Vaishnavey Namah
5. Varahey Namah
6. Narsimhey Namah
7. Indriyay Namah
8. Chamundey Namah
1. Saraswatyay Namah
2. Lakshmeyay Namah
3. Ashta Dash-Bojayay Namah
4. Ashta Bojayay Namah
5. Dashannayay Namah
6. Gowriyay Namah
1. Maha Kaliyay Namah
2. Maha Saraswatyay Namah
3. Maha Lakshmeyay Namah
Bindu (The Point)
Shree Mah Rajniyay Namah
We meditate upon Shri Maha Rajni
"The Great Empress"
Who is the embodiment of peace and
Who is the giver of wealth that is sought
The people living round the island whether
Hindus or Mohammedans have a great veneration for the goddess. They never eat
meat when they have to go over there. They go there with their bodies and
1. Bindu A point.
2. Trikon A triangle with its apex (3 angled)
3. Shatkon Two triangles inverted. (6 angled) The
vertices of the one resting on the side of the other.
4. Valai A circle.
5. Ashta Eight lotus leaves resting Dal on the
6. Tri Valai Three circles.
7. Dwar Three lines with half (gate) triangles in
the middle, enclosing all other parts and completing the Chakra.
According to a Sanskrit stanza by an unknown
author, the discovery of the spring was made on Ashara Sapthami*, seventh day of
bright fortnight in June-July, but pilgrims from all parts of Kashmir come here
on every eighth day (Ashtami) of the bright fortnight of every lunar month,
while the chief festival is held on Zetha Ashtami (about May). They light
candles made from ghee (clarified butter), and bum dhup (incense), to the
accompaniment of the music of ringing of bells played by the priest. The
offering is Khir (preparation of rice in milk and sugar), with sometimes
admixture of ghee, raisins, dates, coconuts, and pieces of sugar candy in odd
numbers. The recitation of Sanskrit hymns from scriptures along with offerings
of flowers and rice in spring completes a form of worship. A portion of these
offerings is distributed among relatives and friends.
At dusk, hundreds of people assemble round the
spring with candles waving. The head priest also waves a candle, while the other
priests blow conch shells and horns, beat timbrels, ring bells, and wave "morechells"
(peacock's tail feathers). All pilgrims recite hymns, producing a singular
mixture of sounds, and creating a religious atmosphere diffusing spiritual
vibrations everywhere. The whole congregation standing in a devotional mood
concentrates on the image of the goddess and seeks to merge itself in the
Primordial Energy pervading the universe. I think, this united form of worship
is more impressive if some set verses were selected and recited together than
individual for sometime. After this had been done every person could follow his
own way according to his own peculiar bent of mind.
Every Kashmiris' Hindu has his own Presiding
Deity. When a child is born to him or when his son is married he has to take him
to his Presiding Goddess for thanks offering. Khir Bhawani is the Presiding
Deity of the majority of the Kashmiri Brahmans.
The spring has been cleansed twice within living
memory and some of the idols (murties) taken out of it, have been placed in the
temple. Once again the Khirbhawini Spring was cleansed. The operation which
began on the 30th of January 1970 lasted till July 10, 1970. An electric pump
conducted these operations round the clock. The mire and sediment which lay at
the bottom were removed. A large quantity of water flowed out making the spring
fresh and sparkling. As a result of this operation, the spring bubbled out in
several directions. In the middle of the spring, milky water flowed out. While
the mud and mire were being removed several golden ornaments and silver pieces
offered by the devotees from time to time were collected, from the bottom of the
spring. The spring was thus cleansed for the fourth time.
(* On this day the Brahmans of the Valley draw
figures of the sun in all seven colours on the floors, kitchens, compounds of
their houses. This is probably done to show that the sun occupies its highest
position in the heavens on this day.)
The author of this article (late) Pt. Samsar
Chand Kaul (1883-1977) has been a renowned educationist, ornithologist and
environmentalist of that time. He has studied Jammu and Kashmir State in depth
and has written the book, "Beautiful Valley of Kashmir", which has a
remarkable foreword from the legendary C. E. Tyndale Biscoe, which is a tribute
to the multifaceted personality of Pt. Samsar Chand Kaul. Besides, he was also a
great scholar in Kashmiri Shaivism.
Excerpt from, "Srinagar & its
Ervirous by Samsar Chand Koul.
News Network (KNN)
The much that has gone by,
In years of honest endeavor,
Tension, strife, abiding relationships,
Success of jobs well done,
And many tasks waiting.
And now the little left,
Of years to come,
In content richer and fulfilling,
Fruition at last,
After long years of of travail and trails.
Clouds seem to lift now,
Over the mountain tops,
And the Sun is peeping through,
Giving message of joy,
Peace, love and compassion.
And with my hands stretched,
I stand at my doorstep, waiting,
For guests in need to bless me,
With their acceptance,
Of my offering.
[Excerpt from Life, Love & Joy, a
collection of Poems by Manmohan Dhar]