on the 34th Vitasta Annual Number, 2000-2001
Last year Kashmir Sabha, Kolkata brought
out the 34th annual Number of its official publication, the Vitasta, on the
theme : "Mother Tongue of Kashmiri Pandits in Exile — Origin, Advances,
Threats and Thrusts".
It is gratifying to note that the response
to this publication has been overwhelming. It is revealed by the very large
number of letters that we have received in appreciation of this publication from
members of our community within our country and from abroad and from the experts
of Kashmir Language. We take this opportunity to thank admirers of our this
publication for their profuse appreciation and useful criticism, kind words and
encouragement. It is not possible to reproduce these individual letters for
obvious reasons. It suffices to record that we treasure these valuable mementoes
with love, respect and gratefulness. However, we are reproducing the reviews
that have appeared in our community journals, as detailed below, which do by and
large represent the views that we have received from individuals separately. The
purpose is to : i) acknowledge our gratitude to individuals and our community
publications for their interest and confirm our continuing involvement,
contribution and commitment to this community cause, ii) review salient
achievements of this publication and the action areas it has opened and iii)
remind ourselves, our experts and litterateurs of Kashmiri language that we have
still to walk miles in preserving our mother tongue in exile, and implement the
suggestions and aspirations that have emerged out of this publication. The
pertinent reviews, as appeared in our community journals, written by their
expert commentators are reproduced below : Editor-in-Chief.
The Kashur Gazette, New Delhi, 28th July —
3rd August, 2001; review by Shri Kamlaish Vakil : "The
journal under review is the official organ of Kashmir Sabha, Kolkata which was
founded as far back as in 1956. Previously in the News Letter form, it took the
present form in 1961. It was named the Vitasta after the river "Veth"
which is symbolic of Pandit's hoary culture and also its deep connection with
ups and downs in the history of India's highly talented Pandit community. So the
title of the journal is appropriate and in tune with the changing times. The
Journal is the 34th Annual Number of the Vitasta which, I suppose, is a very
good attempt at awakening the dormant sensibilities in the realm of our
"Linguistic Culture". It is not a hapazard attempt which is
characterstic of the "magazines and glitzy Annual Numbers" published
by plethora of Sabhas and Samitees from time to time. The journal under
review is thematic in subject-matter and the treatment is purely intellectual.
On these grounds, the articles inserted in the magazine lend it the hues and
contours of A-grade Research Journal dealing with a topic of Seminal importance.
The running theme of the journal is : "Mother Tongue of Kashmiri
Pandits in Exile _ Origin advances, threats and thrusts". Broadly speaking
it is dilvided into VIII sections. They deal with the origin (of Kashmiri
language), development, emerging threats & emergent thrusts respectively.
Section V, in Hindi Script, is devoted to the subject Hindi and Kashmiri.
In section I erudite scholars and historians
like late Prof. S. K. Toshakhani, P. N. K. Bamzai, Prof. Braj B. Kachru, Prof.
B. K. Koul Dembi and Dr. B. K. Moza have contributed their write-ups (research
papers). As regards the Development of Kashmiri language, articles contributed
by late Prof. Sunit Kumar Chatterjee and late Prof. P. N. Pushp touch new facets
of the subject. Prof. Jia Lal Kaul's and Prof. Hajni's write-ups open up new
vistas of thought with regard to the origin and development of the language.
Kashmiri language-the mother tongue of Kashmiri Pandits diaspora-is basically
one of the Aryan languages. As a language it is the offshoot of the Dardic
language which is discounted by Prof. S. K. Toshkhani. Historian P. N. K. Bamzai
says that all the languages spoken all over the mountainous tract between the
Hindukush and the northern frontier of India are called Dardic. They include
"Kafir, Chitrali, Shina, Kashmiri and Kohistani (page 9). Kashmiri language
has been greatly influenced by Sanskrit language. The history of Kashmiri
language is divided into three periods : Old Kashmiri from 1200 to 1500 A.D.,
Middle Kashmiri from 1500 to 1800 A.D., New or Modern Kashmiri, after 1800 A.D.,
(Prof. S. K. Chatterjee). Mahayana Prakasa by Sitikantha Acharya is the earliest
composition in Kashmiri. The language was greatly influenced by Persian
language, because it had become the court-language during the reign of Muslim
Kings. There is a controversy about the script of the language. Sharda script is
said to be the original script of Kashmiri language. Says Prof. B. K. Koul
Deambi, `Sharda remained an alphabet par excellence of Kashmiri till the present
century and owed its name to the valley which from ancient times bore the
alternative name of "Sharada-desha" owing to its tutelary deity Sharda,
the Goddess of Learning. (Page 26) Professor Suniti Kumar Chatterjee regards the
Sharda script "an archaic tradition in its orthography which could not be
adopted to modern times in spite of scientific endeavours of modern scholars
like George Grierson". (Page 35) Under political pressure Persian-script,
with a little modification has been chosen "as an appropriate script"
for this language. Because of some inherent phonetic drawbacks within its fold,
Persian-script fails to meet the requirements of Kashmiri language which abounds
in a plethora of vowel sounds. On all counts Devnagri script is the most
suitable script for the language. Kashmiri language, like any other
language, is endowed with rich, racy and juicy literature which can be divided
into two water tight compartments : Spiritual literature and non-spiritual
(mundane) literature. The mystic poetry of Lal Ded and Nund-Rishi "has an
indiscribable charm of its own, which gives a wonderful feeling of joy and
almost exhilaration to reader."
The poetic compositions (Shruk) of Nund-Rishi
break new grounds elevating reader's mind to a higher realm of spiritualism. The
Vaks of Lal Ded and Rupa Bhawani reveal intricate `Kashmiri Shiva philosophy. In
fact Kashmiri poetry starts systematically with these two mystic poets. The
under-current of Buddhist thought and themes also influenced the mystic-poetry
of some of Kashmiri poets. Kashmiri mystic poetry will be incomplete without
making any reference to the works of Whab Khar, Shah Gafoor, Shamas Faqir, Nyam
Saab, Shah Qalander Pt. Krishan Joo Razdan, Pt. Permanand and Master Zinda Koul.
Late Moti Lal Saqi's article captioned "Buddhist themes in Kashmiri
literature" deals with this subject in a comprehensive manner. Kashmiri
romantic poetry forms warp and woof of Kashmiri literature. Habba Khatoon,
Aranimal and Russul Mir brought about what he called the romantic movement in
Kashmiri literature. Commenting upon the works of some of these poets, Prof.
Suniti Kumar Chatterjee says, "In Kashmiri literature, there are three
eminent poetesses who are the glory not only of Kashmiri literature, but of
Indian literature as well : they are Lal Ded of the 14th Century, Habba Khatoon
of the 16th Century and finally Arnimal of the second half of the 18th
Century" (page 33)
Whereas late Dina Nath Nadim's write-up traces
the growth of opera in Kashmiri with special reference to Banda Jeshan,
Prof. Mohiud Din Hajini's highly illuminating and informative article gives a
critical analysis and development of Kashmiri Lyric, Folk-lore,
Devotional-Poetry, Novel, Drama etc. This write-up is highly valuable from the
research point of view.
Apart from the scholastic view-point, the
articles given in the Annual Number of Vitasta, are eye-opener for the Kashmiri
Pandit community which is losing fast its cultural identity. Kashmiri
language alone can prove helpful in retaining our identity. Kashmiri language is
our mother-tongue. It is said that "to forget one's mother-tongue is to
lose one's individuality." Language is interlinked with culture which gives
"a distinct character" to the community. It serve as bonds of
fraternity. We can take cue from the Jews who after hundreds of years of their
displacement and migration resettled in their homeland. It was due to the fact
that they never compromised or gave up their Hebrew language. Language is
basically a medium of communicating our thoughts. Our culture flows through
language. It is, so to say, "lone carrier of our cultural heritage".
How can Kashmiri Pandit community part with this rich cultural heritage? It will
be the tragedy of the worst magnitude if the community sheds off its distinct
cultural identity. Dr. B. K. Moza, the editor of the magazine, has done a
commendable job. His message is loud and clear : "Cultural identity,
however, remains incomplete if the younger generations of our Diaspara cannot
preserve their mother-tongue".
We need to dismantle taboos of "puerile
class-formation and revive our heritage" through our mother-tongue-Kashur
Basha. The Magazine is a trend-setter for those who wish to rejuvenate
the dormant community through print-media."
The KSHIR BHAWANI TIMES, Jammu, August, 2001
review by Shri Arjan Dev Majboor : Kashmir
Sabha, Kolkata has done a great service to Kashmiri Pandit community in exile,
by publishing a special number on : Mother Tongue of Kashmir Pandits in Exile
— Origin, Advances, Threats and Thrusts. This 168-page special number has been
well thought of and contains very important articles on the origin and problems
of Kashmiri Language. Kashmiri is a National Language as it is included in the
8th schedule of our constitution, but it is neglected at home. This Language
aught to have been the Medium of Instruction in the Schools of Kashmir valley.
The tragedy is that the inheritors of this language have not given it the
importance it deserves. The Government of JK is introducing this language from
Kashmiri is a language older than Urdu and
Hindi. Its literature is rich and after Independence, it has shown remarkable
progress in all genres of literature. But its readership is not increasing.
After the migration, when about three lac Kashmiri Pandits left the valley, the
language got a big jolt. The children of the community had to take up other
languages for their expression, these include Hindi, English, Dogri etc. The
language is the main source of retaining a culture. Kashmiri culture being very
old has come to us through this language.
Kashmir has remained a cradle of religions,
thoughts, movements, cultures and languages. Sanskrit, Persian, Urdu and English
flourished in the valley and produced works in History, Philosophy, poetry,
Drama, Poetics, Astronomy and Scriptures.
But Kashmiri remained the language of the common
Kashmiri. After migration, a great threat to Kashmiri culture and language is
being faced by all Kashmiris. What are these threats and how these are to be
faced has been discussed through the articles of various eminent writers,
thinkers and linguists in this Number.
The Number contains Five sections —
1. The Origin. 2. Development and Advances. 3.
Emerging threats. 4. Emergent thrusts and the section. 5. deals with these
problems in Hindi language.
The eminent writers who have contributed to this
issue include Prof. S. K. Toshkhani, Prof. T. N. Ganju (still living in
Kashmir), Eminent Historian P. N. K. Bamzai, Prof. B. B. Karchru, Prof. Omkar N.
Koul (Linguist of International repute) famous historian — Suniti Kr.
Chatterji, Prof. V. N. Draboo, Prof. Muhiddin Hajni, Dina Nath Nadim, Moti Lal
Saqi and Dr. K. L. Choudhary. The galaxy of writers has worked very hard to put
up their viewpoint about the subject they have taken to elucidate.
Dr. B. K. Moza Editor-in-Chief, though not
keeping good health for some last months has worked laboriously to bring out
this special number with a fine get up. He and his team of co-editors deserve
praise and thanks as well, for working selflessly on this document since
December, 2000. In this way this issue is a gift to Kashmiri speaking people
for the new (millennium).
The articles of late personalities have been
collected by Dr. Moza from the National Library of Kolkata and this too is not
an easy job. The personalities like Suniti Kumar Chattarji, Prof. Pushp, Prof.
J. L. Koul, Prof. Hajni and D. N. Nadim figure on very important issues of our
beloved mother tongue. The issue of origin has been fully discussed by Prof.
Braj B. Kachroo. He says that the new research on the language shows that Dardic
can not be taken as a separate group as proposed by George Grierson. He
according to scholars like Jules Block, George Morgenstierne & Relph L.
Turner maintained that Kashmiri has originated from Indo_Aryan or Sanskrit
language. Prof. Kachru has also said that about three thousand languages out of
six thousand of the languages of the whole world are dying or going towards
decay. These included about 318 languages of our country i.e. India and Kashmiri
is one of these languages. This should be a matter of challenge for all the
Kashmiri speaking people. If they want to keep this language alive they should
struggle for the following :
1. Making its script very easy to be read by its
2. Making Hindi script (optional) for those who
know Hindi only.
3. Enhancing its readership by making it a medium
of Instruction in the valley of Kashmir.
4. By making it an earning language and introducing
it in offices, courts, business.
5. Speaking in and introducing this language to
This special number deals with the problems of
script also. Mr. S. N. Bhat Haleem, Dr. Agni Shaikhar, Professor R. L. Shant,
Mr. M. L. Kimu and other writers give a detailed study of their practical
experience in this field.
There are some poems in English and Hindi also.
The price has not been given. The number is worth reading and preserving. This
special number has come up on the Internet as indicated by Mr. Sunil Fotedar
(computer Engineer). I would request all writers who are affiliated to this
language in any way to purchase this valuable number from Kashmir Bhavan Kolkata,
CK-35, Karunamoyee, Salt lake, Kolkata-700 091.
The Koshur Samachar, New Delhi, September,
2001 review by Prof. S. N. Bhat : The
Vitasta Annual Number for 2000-2001 has the theme of "Mother-Tongue of
Kashmiri Pandits in Exile-Origin, Advances, Threats and Thrusts". The
Editor of the English section is Dr. B. K. Moza who is mainly responsible for
this well-researched number. The Hindi/Kashmiri section is edited by Mrs. Niva
Kaul. The English section has four sections, namely, the origin development and
advances, emerging threats, emergent thrusts. The Hindi/Kashmiri section is
contained in Section 5. The executive committee of the Kashmiri Sabha. Kolkata,
that has shared the overall responsibility for the annual number include Mr.
Udainath Kaul (former President), Mr. P. L. Sapru, Mrs. Indu Kaul, Mr. L. N.
Kaul, Dr. B. K. Moza, Mr. B. L. Tickoo, Mr. A. K. Dhar and Mr. M. K. Ogra.
In Section I prominent scholars whose articles
on the origin of Kashmiri language find place include late Prof. S. K. Toshkhani,
P. N. K. Bamezai, Prof. O. N. Kaul, Arjun Dev Majboor and Dr. B. K. Moza. Dr.
Moza has referred to the present-day research on the origin of the language
which he says leaves no doubt about its Indo-Aryan origin and its roots being in
Vedic Sanskrit. This view has been convincingly proved by the researches of
Prof. S. K. Toshkhani, the legendary scholar from Kashmir. He feels that
Kashmiri language has its first home in Sanskrit and second in Persian. He had
gone to Gilgit in 1940 only to investigate and refute Grierson's conclusion
about relationship of Kashmiri to Shina or Dardic. Prof. O.N. Kaul also says
that Grierson must have been wrong when he separated Kashmiri from the
Indo-Aryan language stock. Section II has some illuminating articles on the
Kashmiri literature by some most gifted scholars of the community. These include
late Prof. P. N. Pushp, T. N. Dhar `Kundan', late Dina Nath Nadim, Moti Lal Saqi
and late Prof. J. L. Kaul. Prof. Pushp writes on Kashmirology as an important
part of Indian literature, which includes such well-known contributions as
Shaivism and Sufism. He refers to the folklore of Kashmir and the classics like
Rajatarangini and classic books by Jonaraja, Srivara and Suka. He points out the
need to bring out a biographical dictionary of distinguished Kashmiri scholars,
writers and thinkers. The KECSS, with Mr. M. K. Kaw as President, is currently
engaged in such an academic exercise.
In Section III, we find contributions of writers
who are concerned about the preservation of Kashmiri language and culture. They
also discuss how to meet the threat of extinction of Kashmiri and its cultural
heritage. They include Mr. A. N. Kaul Sahib, Dr. R. L. Shant, Mr. V. N. Drabu,
Dr. Roop Krishan Bhat, Mrs. Kiran Dhar, Dr. K. L. Chowdhury, Dr. B. N. Sharga, et.
al. Dr. Bhat, Principal of Languages School at Patiala, writes on the
imperative of language and culture for the survival of the community.
In Section IV, on emergent thrusts, there are
several writers projecting the efforts of Kashmiri Pandits the world over for
the preservation of Kashmiri language and culture. Dr. S. N. Ganjoo, a
distinguished scholar and head of Kashmiri Overseas Association based in London,
has donated a Cultural Centre (Bhawan) in London where an attempt is made to
hold seminars on Kashmiri Pandit heritage. He has been coordinating his efforts
to hold classes in London and the USA on this language. In Kolkata too, the
Kashmiri Sabha holds classes on the language to preserve our identity. In this
section, writers like Mr. Manmohan Dhar,
Mr. P. L. Zutshi and J. L. Manwati have written on
Kashmiri language as part of our motherland. Prof. S. Bhatt has refered to the
contribution of Kashmiri Pandit heritage to the intellectual and social harmony
of our global civilization.
The efforts made by AIKS to develop the language
and culture has been brought out by Dr. Moza who needs to be congratulated for
this very successful volume on Kashmiri language and K. P. cultural heritage. By
including the opinions of writers from the past history like Dina Nath Nadim,
Prof. J. L. Kaul, Prof. Toshkhani and Prof. Pushp, he has set a new trend, very
much required, to revive the essence and excellence of this heritage. Research
is after all an exercise in reinterpretation of the past facts in the light of
present circumstances. Combining old and new literature and knowledge should be
a very illuminating and creative work therefore. It provides a fresh breeze to
our cultural life. I am sure KP scholars world over will give some thought to
this process of resurgence of our cultural and intellectual heritage, useful for
KP society and for the global society as well. In a new world where knowledge is
growing fast, KP heritage has much to offer for human enlightenment.
We offer our warm appreciation to Mrs. Niva Kaul
for her superb handling of the Hindi/Kashmiri section as Editor which includes
articles from eminent scholars like Mr. S. N. Bhat Haleem, Mr. Arjan Dev Majboor,
Dr. Agnishekhar, Mr. R. L. Shant, Ms. Shyama Kaul, Mr. K. Santoshi, Mr. P. N.
Dhar and Dr. B. K. Moza.
The Milchar, Mumbai, July _ September 2001
review by Shri J. L. Manwati : "Almost
all Kashmiri Pandit Associations, Samitis or Sabhas in the country publish their
News letters, periodicals, tabloids or magazines and all these publications have
been given names which bear some semblance with the land of their origin —
Kashmir. But the very name "Vitasta" — the publication of the
Kashmiri Sabha — Kolkata reminds one of the sublimity of genetic flow of the
sacred river which runs through our beloved motherland in whose adoration our
ancestors have sung :
"You pass through the country of Kashmir
— the abode of blessings, free from all calamities.
Through this country of Kashmir Thou, O! Vitasta,
flowest befitting the people, and, I offer unto you my salutations."
The Annual Number of Vitasta is always
eagerly looked forward to because like the flow of `Vitasta', its contents
benefit us all. The 34th Annual Number
— 2001 was dedicated to those who have contributed to the development and
growth of Kashmiri language and towards its preservation as mother-tongue.
The Editorial Board having decided upon the
theme of mother tongue, has taken upon itself the most important issue which
prospectively concerns the very identity of Kashmiri Pandits. It is sad that our
Mother-Tongue is fast relapsing into oblivion from our homes. With clear
perception, the Board for this purpose has divided the `Theme' into four
relevant segments viz; Origin, Advances, Threats and Thrusts.
It must have been taxing task for the Board to
identify the contemporary writers who could contribute to the Annual Number;
determine the works of scholars who have in their life times enriched our
literary stock and finally to call out extracts from their works making it a
compendium publication worthy of a place on the book shelves of every Kashmiri
Pandit. Kudos to Dr. B. K. Moza and his Team.
The Annual Number has many comprehensive
articles on the origin of our language; valuable articles of our celebrated
writers, who are no longer with us now, and elaborate essays of the present day
renowned scholars who are concerned about the preservation of our mother tongue.
But, sadly, no writer has come out with concrete suggestions to preserve our
language, particularly in the present day diaspora of our community.
It should have been the duty of the AIKS —
the apex body of our community to realise the exigency of the problem facing the
community and the Samaj should have convened meetings and seminars on All India
level and devised a charter for the preservation of our mother tongue, before
even the residual spoken language is snuffed out from our Homes and
of 30th August, 2002 Shri Sunil Fotedar (Texas, U.S.A.) informs, "I have
kept the past 3 issues of VITASTA ANNUAL NUMBER — a publication of Kashmir
Sabha, Kolkata in pdf format that may be downloaded at : http://ikashmir.net/pdf/index.html
under, "the Kashmir Series" section. You need Acrobat reader to
view these documents. It can be down loaded free of charge.
FYI, the HTML version at : http://vitasta.org
|Aami pana sodras naavi chhas lamaan,
Kati bozi myon dai meti diya taar.
Aamaen taakaen pony zan shamaan,
Zuv chhum bramaan ghare gatsahaa.
With a rope of loose-spun thread
I am towing my boat upon the sea.
Would that God heard my prayer
and brought me safely across!
Like water in cups of unbaked clay
I run to waste.
Would God I were to reach my home!
|Kyaah kara paantsan dahan ta kaahan,
Wokhshu 'n yeth legi karith yim gayi;
Saeri samahan yeth ra 'zi lamahan,
Ada kyaazi raavihey kaahan gaav.
Ah me! The Five (bhuta-s), the Ten (indriya-s),
and the Eleventh, their Lord the mind,
scraped this pot* and went away.
Had all together pulled on the rope,
Why should the Eleven have lost the cow?
(Why should the soul have gone astray?)
* The living body.
(Lal Vakya translated into Kashmiri by Prof.
J. L. Kaul)