Satanic Holocaust of Kashmiri Pandits – by Dr. Satish Ganjoo
Myth and reality move together in the Saffron Valley of mystic splendor. The reclamation of land from Satisar created certain complications. The Saraswati River that flowed into the eastern Punjab, Rajasthan, Sind and other parts of Indian subcontinent suddenly got dried up. Geologists are of the opinion that all those streams, which fed Satisar and form the source of water for the Saraswati river, mostly ran underground. Once the cleft materialized at Baramulla, the water of the Satisar flowed out in an opposite direction, leaving the Saraswati basin dry. The Aryan Saraswat Brahmans, who used to live on the banks of Saraswati river, migrated to the Kashmir Valley to continue their austerities. With the passage of time these people came to be known as ‘Bhattas’ in Kashmir. The word is derivative of Brahman. Now they are called the Kashmiri Pandits or the Aryan Saraswat Brahmans of Kashmir, who believe in the mystic combination of Shaivism, Kali Bhakti, Shakta worship and Tantra.
History of the Kashmiri Pandits is the history of Kashmir since last more than 5000 years. They are associated with its society, culture, civilization, customs, traditions, myths and realities. The rise of Buddhism and reactions by Brahmans gave rise to a long struggle between the two rival ideologies. The Naga (Snake) worship was also the dominant religion in the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C. However, Buddhism flourished in the Valley during the reign of Durnadeo, Simhadeo, Sundersen, Ashoka and Kanishka. The great Buddhist council was held at Kanishpur in Kashmir during the rule of Kanishka and it was presided over by two eminent scholars — Asvaghosha and Vasumitra. About 500 monks from different parts of the subcontinent attended the same. Nagarjuna , a Bodhisattva and the greatest philosopher of Buddhism, lived in Kashmir. During the reign of Abhimanu, a number of people were converted to Buddhism. It was first struggle of the Kashmiri Brahmans for their survival. A number of Kashmiri scholars – Kumarajiva (AD 384-417), Shakyashri Badhra (AD 405), Ratnavera, Shama Bhatta (5th Cen AD) and others went to China and Tibet to preach Buddhism. However, the Brahmans regained their supremacy during the reign of Nara I . The struggle between Buddhism and Brahmanism came to an end with the emergence of modern Hinduism. A period of comparative historical validity began with the establishment of the Karkuta rule in AD 627. Avantivarman (AD 855-833) is believed to be the first Vaishnavite ruler of Kashmir. During his rule there was a tremendous cultural development in the Valley. The great Shaiva philosophers of this period were Kayyatacharya, Somananda, Muktakantha Swamin, Shiva Swamin, Ananda Vardhana and Kallata.
The struggle between the Brahmans and other castes, such as Kayasthas, began during the reign of Shankara Varman. The authority of the Brahmans was broken and the sacred character of their citadels was violated. However, the Shaivite thought and philosophy flourished. Pradyumana Bhatta, Utpalacharya, Rama Kantha, Prajnarjuna, Lachaman Gupta and Mahadeva Bhatta have made a tremendous contribution to this philosophy. During the regime of Lohara dynasty, Kashmir came into contact with the Muslim invaders who attacked India. When Mahmud Ghazni annexed the Punjab, most of the tribes on the borders of Kashmir embraced Islam. At that time, the Valley was ruled by Sangram Raja (AD 1003-1028). Even after their conversion to Islam, these people continued to visit Kashmir – as traders, wanderers and even missionaries. There are historical evidences that some of these tribals settled in the Valley and made some venture into propagating their new religion.
Harsha (AD 1089-1101), was a man of extravagant habits and a jumble of contraries. He robbed the temple treasures and melt idols of gold and silver to tide over his financial crisis. Before him two other kings, Jalauka and Kalasa, employed the same approach of plundering the temples and melting the images of gold and silver to augment their depleted treasuries. Harsha also employed Muslim generals, who are called Turushkas by Kalhana, for the first time in the history of Kashmir. Now Muslims as a class appeared in the political field and began to consolidate its roots. Bhikshachara, a descendant of Harsha, organized a cavalry force mainly consisting of the Muslims. During the reign of Gopadeva (AD 1171-1180), the Brahmans consolidated their position. But the Lavanya tribe shattered their roots once again. The Damaras, Lavanyas and other tribes never allowed the Brahmans to monopolize. In the reign of Jassaka (AD 1180-1198), two Brahmans – Kshuksa and Bhima, endeavored to capture
the throne. But it was the fear of Damaras or feudal lords that prevented them. Ramadeva (AD 1252-1273) humiliated those Brahmans who had helped him in his coronation. They conspired against him but could not succeed. A reign of terror, loot and plunder was let loose against them. Many Brahmans were killed and others crushed barbarously. This was the first direct assault against them in the history of Kashmir. To save themselves they cried ” Na Batoham” (I am not a Bhatta). The Kashmiri Pandits are even now taunted as Bhattas and Dalli Bhattas.