Annual Publication of Kashmir Sabha, Kolkata, India 

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From the President's Desk

It is an occasion of pride and pleasure to present this 35th Annual Number of the `vitasta', '2002 _ the official organ of our Kashmir Sabha Kolkata. For all these years it has appeared in the best form and charm, at regular intervals; soothing and refreshing us all, through its lofty thoughts, useful suggestions and ideas. This prestigious annual publication of ours is very much loved and cherished by our Kashmiri fraternity all over. All the scholarly and intellectual members of our community look forward to the `Vitasta' Annuals with great expectations, because of its rich contents, knowledge, indepth studies and extensive research work. Supported by authentic records and references, well written articles by authors of eminence and literary excellence, highlighting hard facts of life pertaining to overall aspects of our community, Vitasta Annuals have endeared themselves to the members of our Biradari; rightly being considered as "collectors' items". Thanks to our Dr. B. K. Moza, the Editor-in-chief of this publication, who leaves no stone un-turned in ensuring that his pains taking and honest efforts do bring us credit in achieving the objectives that are set for this publication.

As per the established practice, every volume of this publication bears a particular theme which is very much pertinent and vital to our community's cause and interest. The theme of this particular issue, as proposed by Dr. B. K. Moza, and appreciated by us all, is : "Home land Pilgrim Centres (Asthapans) of Kashmiri Pandits A Perspective for their Preservation". As all of us are aware that our shrines are places of worship, hallowed by sacred memories and sentiments. These sanctuaries of faith do offer us unique opportunities to come out from the depths of darkness and ignorance to the heights of zenith pervaded by divine radiance and enlightenment; knowledge and bliss.

As it is, the world of today has come to its extremes, mankind in general continues to suffer tremendously and that too at random and end lessly. Over centuries various political, economical, industrial and scientific revolutions have taken place. Regardless of how external factors are ever changing our day to day existence, the world has come to realise and recognise the ultimate fact that society will not improve fundamentally as long as the people themselves fail to transform the negative and destructive tendencies inherent in them. Therefore, the inner change for the better in a person is the first essential step in the process of making the Human race wiser, more reasonable and rational. Hence human (inner) revolution is the most basic of all revolutions and is the prime need of the hour. In recent past all renowned world bodies have started to come together to contemplate seriously on this basic topic.

India has always remained in the fore front, in advocating this noble cause strongly from the time immemorial. Indians inherit spiritual wisdom from Vedas and Upnishads and are exposed to this spiritually charged unique atmosphere from their very birth. The entire intelligentia of west are very much keen to know the Eastern spiritualism and its uniqueness to unravel the ultimate Truth and Reality. How old is the universe? where have we come from? where are we going to? All these questions have baffled all the leading thinkers across the world. "Every technological leap into space brings to us a greater understanding of the cosmos of space that stretches into eternal infinity." The more we tune our vision and probe deeper into eternal questions the more our limitations in relation to the vastness and mysteries of space, become apparent. Hindu faith, however, believes that even the cosmos is not exempt from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. This external mystery of cosmos is brought out in a verse from Rigveda : "who truly knows and who can declare whence it cometh and wither it vanishth?" All these mysterious questions and queries lead us to believe firmly that there is some super-natural force with infinite Power and energy which kindles and controls the vast universe to maintain the overall balance of the entire existence lest it degenerates to such an extent that its very sanctity is at stake. From times immemorial we have been tackling all problems confronting our community with a touch of spiritual awareness. We have survived all through not on our material strength and wealth but on our spiritual strength that has energised us all through. It is very much unfortunate that now-a-days saintly atmosphere is getting polluted all over. This being so, it is wise to take to spirituelity which alone can come to the rescue of Humanity. Revival of the spirituality is the prime need of the hour, since spirituality is man's realisation of the spirit. According to the philosophy of Vedanta the spirit, which is also called the Brahman, created this entire universe through matter and energy. All objects are the outcome of one primal matter. All natural forces like gravitatian and thoughts and feelings at the consciousness level are the outcome of a primal energy, called "prana". The universe is a manifested or projected form of God; the Brahman created through the combination of absolute reality of all creations' is the same, Brahman. He is the `Real Me' and the `Real You', dissolving all differences between us. Out of the three elements of a being, the Atma, the Mind and the Body, the Atma is pure Brahman. However a person's mind is made up of negative and positive traits. Based on the development of these traits under the interactive influence of a particular social environment a person imbibes a way of living that is his sanskaras. These sanskaras guide all his mental processes and physical activites in life, co-existence of both negative and positive elements in the mind causes intellectual and emotional contradictions, creating conflicts within us making us experience fear, insecurity, hurt, hatred and jealousy, driving us to inflict pain on one another and develop prejudiced vision. This distortion of vision causes illusions/ignorance. The world of pain and pleasure created by the human mind appears as the ultimate reality. To become one with the real core of our existance, the pure Brahman, we have to see through this illusion, by climbing the ladder of spiritual awareness, step-by-step; we can minimise and eventually eradicate pain and conflicting tendencies from our being and experience lasting peace and happiness. Let us constantly strive to find our centre of equilibrium to be able to fill ourselves and this world with a sense of oneness, boundless love and compassion for all.

Ours has been the land of Holy persons and Holy places. It can be well visualised by the very writing, Lawrence put in the year 1899 which says "The valley of Kashmir is the holy land of the Hindus. I have rarely been in any village which can not show some relic of antiquity, curious stone miniatures of old Kashmir temples, huge stone seat of Mahadeo (Badrapith) inverted by `pious' Musalmans, lingams innumerable and carved images heaped in grotesque confusion by some in clear spring have met me at every turn." These have been the sacred places where people and persons of genuine nature and normal frame of mind have derived and drawn spiritual solace and strength from time to time and conveyed it down the line from generation to generation for the general good and benefit of mankind. So to retain and preserve these Asthapans in their proper shape and form becomes all the more important in order to bring in spiritual awareness and awakening.

Being situated at secluded places away from the maddening crowds, enjoying seclusion, calm and quiet and serene and sober environment all around, these areas act as ideal and beautiful spots and places for offering Prayers with full faith and devotion to God Almighty, the ommipotent and omnipresent, the Lord of Lords, the Supreme. Prayer benefits us in many ways. It puts us in a positive and peaceful frame of mind. It fortifies our self confidence and generates new energy and in the process equips us mentally and emotionally to face the daily ordeals of life. It fills our mind with soothing, moral and spiritual thoughts, which in turn make us self purifying and self-improving.

Dr. Alexisearrel writes "whenever we address God in fervent prayer we change both soul and body for better". Prayer puts us in a positive frame of mind, revives hope and saves us from slipping into depression. It gives us courage and develops in us the ability and the right temperament to face the vicissitudes of life. Prayer has immense therapeutic value. People who have faith and who pray are less prone to stress. Prayer does not affect the entire moral environment in our lives. The thoughts of peace, good-will and contentment emanating from the mind send out waves of positive vibrations all around and purify the environs. Our Devasthans have been the earthly abodes of God and Godesses, frequently haunted by our Saints and Sages of all times, to draw inspiration from the divine presence pervading, doing all the needful required for the overall benefit and general good and wellbeing of our society and mankind. Hence to make sure that all the heavenly choicest blessings do keep on showering, we are required to up keep these pious monuments which remain largely neglected owing to lack of proper attention and due care these deserve; particularly now-a-days after community's Mass Exodus from the valey. We were bestowed with a large number of such Holy-Huts and Sacred Shrines with a brilliant record of rich heritage and history of pious past; we all should feel very much proud of these.

For regular maintenance and up-keep of these Holy Pilgrim centres of our Homeland both cultivable and non cultivable lands and other immovable property were attached to these just to ensure regular flow of funds required for the development works and other preventive measurs necessary from time to time. These places were largely under the control of Dharmarth Trust. These having huge offerings all the year round. Now recently some new other cheritable Trusts are operating to oversee all its management affairs etc. This being a potential source of income some sort of central administrative arrangements and services are required which would ensure proper representation from all quarters, transparency and accountability at all levels. I hope some light will be thrown on this aspect in this Number and ways and means suggested to improve upon the existing sad situation.

The year 2001-2002 has passed by. For our Sabha it was an year of brisk activities, almost on all fronts. I am very much thankful to the present Executive Committee members and the Biradari members for their active participation, valuable Co-operation and full support all through. On the AGM day all the activities and performances of the Sabha under review, were appreciated and the existing office bearers were re-elected for the second term unanimously. Holding of monthly executive meetings as per schedule was strictly adhered to and decisions taken there-in were promptly carried out. The `Vitasta' News and Views, continued to be issued as Bimoulhly only covering the various activities of the Sabha. The attempt at culturing and promoting our own Mother-Tongue in our younger generation was continued also by way of introducing children cross-word puzzle in Kashmiri language. The credit goes to Shrimati Anjali Razdan for this novel idea.

Apart from Annual Hawan and Picnic the number of cultural get togethers and festivities has risen to an all time high. The response was over-whelming and enthusiastic. This was done with the objective of creating awareness of being at Home, away from our unique Home in our native land, Kashmir. Apart from one-to-one contact and close intimacy, it helps in bringing members socially and culturally together and keeps our rich tradition and religious sentiment all alive. The finance resource generation was given due attention to improve Sabha's financial base. As has been the practice, we have extended our solidarity to frontal organisations and financial help to the needy and displaced persons of our community related to medical relief and rehabilitation etc. from time to time. I am highly grateful to Shrimati Prabha Tankha, our Secretary and Shrimati Anjali Razdan (Editor, Vitasta Bimonthly News Letter) Shrimati Bharati Kaul (Jt. Secretory) Shri L. N. Koul (Vice President) and Shri Rakesh Koul (Treasurer) for discharging their responsibilities pretty well. Financial wing has been managed by Shree Mohan Kishen Ogra and Shri Pyaray Lal Sapru for raising necessary funds enabling Sabha to bring forth this 35th Anual Number. I also Express my deep gratitute to Dr. Brij Krishen Moza (Editor-in-Chief, Vitasta Annual) and Shrimati Niva Rani Koul (Editor Hindi and Kashmiri Sec.) for bringing out the Vitasta Annual Number. It is a little belated on account of sad and unforesen circumstances that our Dr. B. K. Moza has faced during its preparation and due to unforeseen reasons. However, we undoubtedly feel proud of Dr. Moza for his unparalleled dedication and selfless service for attending to this noble cause, despite his constraints.

For last two years we have been bringing out the yearly calender_a new idea_carrying the broad view of our Mata Dashbuja Sharika Bawani's picture in Kashmiri dress (original Batani dress; Phiran, Taranga, Longa etc. in the year 2001) and that of our Mata Khir Bhawani's picture (year 2002) at the top and important list of the auspicious days and festivities in the body. This was done with the objective of inculcating in our younger generation the sense of blongingness to our great tradition and rich cultural heritage. May the flag of our community keep on flying high for all ages to come.

Finally I would conclude with an appeal, that nothing is impossible; even the word impossible conveys "I M POSSIBLE". So by courage, conviction and action we can achieve our objectives of preserving our identity. So what is required is to be united and, let us work together with vigour and courage, and not confront each other.

As per Bhagavad Gita Lord Krishna has said that, "One who is not envious but who is a kind friend to all living entities, who does not think himself a proprietor, who is free from false ego and is same both in happiness and distress, who is always satisfied and engaged in devotional services, with determination and whose mind and intelligence are in agreement with me, he is very dear to Me".

Therefore without being attached to its fruits and credits, let us act as a matter of duty to attain the supreme.

With best wishes, and greetings
B. M. Misri
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Views expressed by authors in Vitasta Annual Number are not necessarily of Kashmir Sabha, Kolkata.


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