Putting together an issue of the ANNUAL VITASTA and that too with a research based theme "CULTURAL HERITAGE OF INDIA - KASHMIRI PANDIT CONTRIBUTION" is by itself a daunting task for a novice like me. When I was asked to do this work by Dr. B. K. Moza, I refused outright - the only reason being my inexperience. I have been editing the monthly Vitasta for about two years now but even that has not given me the confidence levels required for executing such a task. However, refusing Dr. Moza is something I have not as yet perfected as an art and therefore I reluctantly acquiesced with prayers on my lips.

Kashmir as we all know is rich in culture and tradition. But to a native cut off from the valley as I am, it is difficult to perceive the richness and variance of this culture and tradition and its impact on the overall cultural heritage of India. While putting together this issue of the Annual Vitasta, it has been of primary concern to pick out relevant, important and authentic information which would give a correct picture of this tremendous contribution of Kashmiris to Indian culture. Here it will be relevant to add that the contribution of some non-Pandits has also been highlighted as we felt that our theme should not restrict and prevent us from throwing light on some geniuses who (though non-Pandits), have also made path breaking contributions. On the whole, an effort has been made to pick and choose from amongst the best available documented material on Kashmir, without restricting ourselves to contributed articles only. In this context, I may add that we have received a number of articles on various topics but only those pertinent to our theme, and keeping in mind constraints of space, have been published. This in no way would mean that the contributed unpublished articles are in any way inferior. In fact, I must put on record that I have been encouraged by the swift and overwhelming response to my request for articles on the current year's theme. For the purpose of comprehension I have segregated the English portion of this issue into three main sections:

1. Contribution to Language and Literature.
2. Contribution to Art, Culture and Archaeology.
3. Contribution to Religion and Philosophy.
The three sections are preceded by three articles, the first (Kashmir - A Glimpse In Time) was necessary as it gives a historical background of Kashmir. In order to be able to grasp the contribution of Kashmir to Indian culture, it is essential to have some idea about Kashmir's history which I have tried to provide in the above named article, the next titled "Descent from Kashmir" by Pt. J. L. Nehru is an extract from Jawaharlal Nehru An Autobiography and describes Pt Nehru's Kashmiri background in detail. The third article "On the importance of Cultural Heritage" by Prof. Surendra Munshi, who is by himself an authority on Sociology in the country and is well known both in India and abroad, throws light on the importance of cultural heritage in our lives. If we are examining the contribution of a section of society, (in this case Kashmiris), it is necessary to first understand the importance or relevance of this exercise and therefore the need for this piece by Prof. Munshi. The sections as they go along highlight various facets of their main topics and have been chosen carefully with an eye on detail, accuracy and authenticity. Of course it is not possible to cover all the aspects and areas of contribution and at best a reasonable effort has been made. At the end of the three sections is an overview "On the importance of Kashmiri Cultural Heritage" by Starika Munshi who is a young, hardworking and promising writer as well as tremendous potential for our Sabha.

I would like to thank Dr. B. K. Moza for asking me to take up the job and making tremendous and major contributions to this issue, without his help and support this issue may have not taken the shape it has. My thanks are also due to all the contributors of articles, to all the advertisers who continue to shower their generous patronage year after year, to our printer Shri Sengupta who shares my sense of working to schedules and to my wife and daughter for being patient with me. Of course, I have also to thank the Almighty and my parents for making me what I am today, being able to make an effort to edit this magazine.

Rajiv Sapru
March 1999

Kashmiri Overseas Association