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VITASTA ANNUAL NUMBER: Volume XXXV (2001-2002)

Reviews 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 next session.

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 readers.
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 youngesters.

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.

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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 :

<verses>

"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 Hearths."

kpandit@yahoogroups.com 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
Thanks, 
Sunil Fotedar."



 
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)
 
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Views expressed by authors in Vitasta Annual Number are not necessarily of Kashmir Sabha, Kolkata.

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