Development of Kartarpur corridor in Punjab in Pakistan, in deference to Sikh community’s long pending religious demand, is apparently a welcome news from that country. In fact, any step that helps bind communities, neighbors and Nations together in an eternal embrace of love, friendship and mutual respect should be a matter of great joy for all peace-loving people.
Subsequently, the clamor for opening of passage to the sacred precincts of ruins of Sharada Temple in Pak occupied area of Jammu & Kashmir state is gaining momentum from various quarters. It is a happy omen for all those who believe in the age old dictum – “knowledge is power”.
It is believed, “During the churning of oceans, a Kalash of nectar was found and the nectar was distributed among the Devas by Lord Vishnu. It is said that the very “Kalash” of nectar was handed over to Sharada (The goddess giving nectar) who preserved the nectar in a Kund now known as Sharada Thirith in Pak occupied Kashmir”.
In view of many statements / write-ups appearing on the issue, following facts need to be taken into perspective so as to put the record straight; and, let politics of one-upmanship not undermine the genuine urge of the faithful.
- Till now, 6/7th century Sanskrit text Nilamata Purana is the earliest known available record that throws ample light on the life in / of Kashmir. In fact the famous text that predates Kalhan’s Rajatarangini (1148 AD), records in some detail the emergence of Kashyap Reshi’s valley from its origin – the Satisar.
- The public demand for opening of annual pilgrimage to Sharada is many decades older than emergence of Save Sharada Committee in recent times. At the same time, efforts of the committee in carrying forward the momentum need to be appreciated. However, suggesting a “joint development” of ‘Sharada’ appears to be misplaced. Doesn’t such a misconceived notion amount to weaken India’s stated legal and just claim about PoJK being an integral part of (undivided) Jammu & Kashmir ?
Following their forced exodus in early 1990, the demand was vociferously raised by the Internally Displaced Pandit community during first ‘World Kashmiri Pandit Conference’ (WKPC) held in New Delhi way back in 1993 (Siri Fort Auditorium, 27/28 December).
Besides, being an active part of that historical world conference, this writer has also been part of many a public delegations, including to two former Presidents and one Prime Minister of India (K.R.Narayanan, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and A.B.Vajpayee – during their respective tenures) that has sought among other things, facilitation of annual pilgrimage to Sharada Temple in PoJK- the symbol of highest learning – till the illegally occupied part is retrieved from Pakistan.
On these occasions, a framed painting of goddess Sharada, attired in ethnic Kashmiri Pandit dress, was also presented to the country’s highest dignitaries. It may be noted, the painting of the goddess (painted by Pt. Bushan Kaul, an eminent artist from J&K state) was released at the inaugural session of second ‘World Kashmiri Pandit Conference’ held in New Delhi in 1998 ( Siri Fort Auditorium, 30 /31 January).
This writer has also had the opportunity of meeting and raising / discussing the issue with His Holiness (Late) Jayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakotipeetham in presence of (now his successor) His Holiness Shankara Vijaynedra Saraswathi a number of times in last two decades. It may be worthwhile here to mention that H.H visited Kashmir valley again following repeated suggestions from this writer during those meetings.
Back then in the valley, before being subjected to genocide and ethnic cleansing, following the harrowing events of 1986 (Anantnag riots) and subsequent gruesome Pandit killings that lead to the seventh forced exodus of Hindus in 1989-’90, the Kashmiri Pandit community had been raising the issue of facilitation of annual passage to Sharada teerth from time to time.
Dr. Agnishekar, a well known Hindi poet and community leader recalls the demand of facilitation of a visit to Sharada in PoJK was also discussed and raised at a two-day public event organised by Kashmiri Pandit community in 1976, under the leadership of much respected community stalwart of the time Pt. Amar Nath Ganjoo, at the premises of famous ‘Ram’a-tschandrun’ (Ram Chander Ji’s temple) at Sathoo-Barbarshah in Srinagar, Kashmir.
It is also noteworthy to mention the contributions, in exile, of many others including NSKRI, MIEF and two Jammu based groups like Satisar Foundation (through art & literature) and APMC (through public activism).
Pakistan may continue to believe that they have thrown a “googly” to outsmart India in Kartapur. But, let Pakistan not harbor any illusions about India’s determination, expressed explicitly and repeatedly, including in her Parliament of India resolution of 22 February 1994 that PoK is an inalienable part of India – that is Bharat !
The struggle to reclaim the holy kund of “nectar”- the great heritage and legacy of art, music, philosophy and literature – is not only symbolic but a concerted effort to restore goddess Sharada’s desh to its ancient glory that attracted men of letters from far and wide from times immemorial. The forces of obscurantism need to be made realise their “stupidity”*. Yes, We Can !
ॐ असतो मा सद्गमय ।
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय ।।
This write-up is dedicated to the sacred memory of my revered father, Papa Ji (Pt.T.N.Manvati), who left his mortal frame exactly three years earlier on this day as per Hindu calendar – Marg Shukla-paksh Ashtami – Monji’hore, Zoona patsch Ae’ttham (English :18 December 2015). Ref Feb 2016 issue of ‘Spade A Spade’.
Pt. T.N. Manvati was part of the prominent group of Kashmiri Pandits who participated in the pooza performed under the guidance of well-known religious scholar of J&K Sate – (Late) Pt. Prem Nath Shastri Ji- before the formal release of the painting of goddess Sharada in ethnic Kashmiri dress in New Delhi during the inaugural session of the opening day of second WKPC – 30 January 1998.
( * Members who participated in the pooza and can be seen in the photograph (L-R) : Smt. Rama Shah, Pt. B.L.Hak, Pt.T.N.Manvati, Prof. M.L.Raina, Pt. Prem Nath Shastri, Pt. ………., Pt. …Bhat, Pt……….Kaul. Pt. M.L.Kaul, Pt. ………Bhan. Ashok Pandit can also be seen just behind Shastri JI. )