Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Bhairava cult in Kashmir-Shashi Shekhar. Toshkhani

Like many other parts of the country, the Bhairava cult has been popular in Kashmir since early medieval times. Rooted in esoteric as well as folk-religious culture of Tantric Shaivism, Bhairava is conventionally conceptualized as a fearsome and wrathful form of Shiva, personifying an “irate and infuriated state of mind”. The term also applies to emanations, manifestations and attendants of Shiva as well as consorts of Bhairavis.
Etymologically, the word Bhairava is derived from Sanskrit “bhaya” + “rava” (= Bhairava), with “bhaya”meaning fear or panic and “rava” meaning tumultuous sound. Thus in its elemental form the term “Bhairava” denotes “cosmic resonance of a frightful utterance”.
In non-dual Kashmir Shaivism, the word “Bhairava’ has a somewhat different connotation. The great Shaiva philosopher Abhinavagupta has given six interpretations of the word. Carrying the conceptual meaning of Bhairava as personification of a horrifying reverberation a little further, he says that Bhairava is one who frees us from the fear of the cycle of births and rebirths. According to him, Bhairava is one who constantly maintains, sustains and creates the world (“bharana, ramana , vamana”) and sounds the mantra of Self-consciousness. Thus in Kashmir Shaivism the term “Bhairava” implies the Highest Reality or “Supreme Being”.
In his anthropomorphic form, Bhairava is an awe-inspiring deity with ferocious demeanour. He is depicted with his hair disheveled, and with serpents as his ornaments, wearing a garland human skulls. In his hands he carries frightful weapons.
Conventionally, Bhairava is also worshipped as a protective and guardian deity who is custodian of domains and defender of territories. Great curative powers are attributed to him and it is believed that he can cure chronic diseases and can fulfill mundane wishes in no time. He also relieves his devotees from miseries instantly. On the spiritual plane, meditating on him can help in God-realization and achieving knowledge and liberation.
As a protective deity, the dog is Bhairava’s mount or pet animal because of its natural instinct for watching and guarding.
Kashmir has a number of sanctified shrines dedicated to Bhairavas in their role as custodians of the land and guardians of the quarters. In the early town planning of Srinagar (then Pravarpur or Pravarsenpur) by Pravarsena II (112 CE to 172 CE), the city was divided into eight wards sheltered by a group of eight Bhairavas whose shrines were located in different parts of the city. The Rainawari and Dal Lake areas were under the tutelage of Vetalraja Bhairava (which was in news recently for an attempt at appropriating its land). Sathu Barbar Shah, Amira Kadal and Ganpatyar areas were had Anandeshwara Bhairava as their patron deity, his temple still standing at Maisuma near Dashnami Akhara. The left bank of the River Vitasta, Habba Kadal and Doodh Ganga areas formed another circuit which was looked after by Tushkaraja (or Turushkaraja) Bhairava (the area was appropriated by local Muslims with a big mosque having been built on its premises). At the confluence of Doodh Ganga (now a dirty drain) and River Vitasta there is another sacred spot dedicated to the worship of Bahukhatakeshwara Bhairava. This Bhairava spiritually guarded Safa Kadal (left bank) and Chhattabal areas (the shrine was openly grabbed by local Muslims during a function several years back, with the Pandits’ complaint to Sheikh Abdullah being of no avail). On the right bank of the River, the areas comprising Ali Kadal and safa Kadal and Hari Parbat was sanctified by Purnaraja Bhairava. The areas of Fateh Kadal and Zaian Kadal on the right bank and the whole of what was known as Bohri Kadal was guarded by Mangalraja Bhairava whose shrine is situated on an island opposite Dilawar Khan’s Bagh and is marked by a large mulberry tree. The Zaina Kadal area on the left bank of the River was presided over by Jayaksena Bhairava and the area beyond it by Vishvaksena Bhairava.
Annual and bi-annual firs were held at all these sacred shrines, which were an integral part of Kashmiri Pandit religious life before the exodus. An interesting aspect of the these shrines was worship of non-iconic animistic features like the mulberry tree which was dabbed by vermilion and marked with sacred signs. another aspect of Bhairava worship in Kashmir, as in other parts of the country, was the offering of animal sacrifice (usually a ram) to appease the deity.
Many more Bhairava deities were also worshipped throughout Kashmir with their shrines dotting different parts of the Valley. These include Nandikeshwara Bhairava whose famous shrine is located at Sumbal

Friday, September 9, 2016

Brave Girl Shabroza

Roots in Kashmir salutes the brave girl Shabroza from Badgam for the immense courage displayed by her by raising the Indian flag at her house roof top in Badgam district, in the process defying the writ of separatists and their masters based out of Pakistan and showing way to many Kashmiris who are patriotic and Indian but don't have the courage to express it due to the threat of violence and terrorism.

Addressing a gathering of Roots in Kashmir members, Ashish Zutshi, senior member, Roots in Kashmir said "No one understands the price one has to pay to be nationalistic in Kashmir better than Kashmiri Pandits and hence the Roots in Kashmir is worried about the safety and security of this young Kashmiri girl."

At the meeting it was unanimously agreed by all members present that the group will provide all possible support to Shabroza including the completion of her education outside the valley in case she feels threatened or finds it difficult to pursue her studies in the valley.

Aroop Rayu of Roots in Kashmir said "as a fellow Kashmiri girl, I assure Shabroza that all the girls and all the members of Roots in Kashmir are with her"

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Human rights not an exclusive right of separatists, dear liberal media

Lot has been said in past few days over the situation in the valley. Liberal, leftist,

Socialites like Shobha De and media personalities like Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai have directly or indirectly supported anti-India or pro-Pakistan lobby of the valley, while most of the Indians have extended full support to armed forces and their action.

Shoba De, while advocating for the right to plebiscite of Kashmiri Muslims (I avoid using word only Kashmiris because 99.999% Kashmiri Hindus don't want any plebiscite) does not like to extend the same privileges to Raj Thackeray and his team, who have also been advocating for sons of soil in Mumbai and have indulged in insignificant violence when compared to the attrocities committed on the minority community in Kashmir.

Barkha Dutt on other hand has always been perceived as pro-separatist, pro-Islamabad journalist. What can be said about a journalist, who has tried to rationalise the Exodus of Kashmiri Pandits by cooking up false social inequality issues. Her statements were almost as similar as Nazis had a about Jews. https://youtu.be/uPZFmO2xL30

And many like Rajdeep Sardesai are demonizing our forces, just to be in the goods books of their liberal leftist club.

The situation is Valley is precarious, and both government and forces are stretched to their limits. But admirably they have held their nerves together. Unlike the riots in rest of India, where it is a clash of two groups, in Valley it had been the miniscule Kashmiri  Pandits earlier and now the security forces who are the target of the attack.

Having myself witness to few such incidents in Kashmir, I know that forces show utmost restraint even at the cost of serious injuries to themselves. There has been a lot of noise about of the use of pellet guns and injuries it causes. The situation is so volatile in Valley today that had the same level of violence happened somewhere else in India, the death toll would have been in Hundreds. As per Gaurav Savant of India Today, "Nothing innocent/peaceful about stone Pelters. Pump action pellet gun deters them. Effective Non lethal crowd dispersal when CURFEW violated."  While I am not sure if pellet guns are the best option, but they surely are better than bullets. And I would prefer few scars than epitaph.

People like Shoba De and Barkha Dutt don't hesitate to remind us about the human rights of rioters, but conveniently forget that even forces have the same rights. Even our jawans are sons, brothers and husband's. And unlike the jehadis of Valley, who die killing innocents, these jawans lay their life to save innocents.

Author - Amit Raina

Friday, July 15, 2016

Temple Heritage Series - Naranag

Naranag is situated in district Ganderbal near a village called Wangat. The temple town, was an important religious and trading Center during the Hindu rulers time. The temples believed to be in hundreds and now limited to 7, are situated on the banks of river kanakvahini. In Sanskrit Kanak means gold and vahini means carrier. It is said that the river carried gold pieces and that is how it derived it's name. It is believed that it was also a place for many alchemists to experiment here.

The temples were built primarily by Lalitaditya and has subsequent additions by many kings, prominent one being Avantivarman. The temples are located on the foot hills of Buteshwar range, now called as Butsher by local gujjars. While many people believe that Buteshwar means the God of bhoots (ghosts), the real meaning is the God of timeless time. The entire area is sacred to Hindus of Kashmir, as it on the foothills of the holy harmukh peak. The peak is seen as the manifestation of lord Shiva and has the holy lake gGngabal, the Ganges of Kashmir. The source of kanak vahini. The traditional route for Harmukh pilgrimage started either from Prung via chathargul or bandipora and the end was at Naranag. Due to security concerns, the Yatra now starts and ends at Naranag. The Sodaratirtha referred in the Nilamata Purana is among the scared tiratha in Kashmir Valley presently known as Nara Nag.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Kashmiri Pandits observe 'black day' against 1931 riots

Jammu, Jul 13 (PTI) A group of displaced Kashmiri Pandits today observed 'black day' to commemorate the July 13, 1931 riots against the community in the Valley and demanded better security, especially in the wake of violence following the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani.

"The situation has not changed from 1931 till today.

Kashmiri Pandits were attacked then and even today in 2016 they are attacked," Ravinder Raina, President, All State Kashmiri Pandit Conference (ASKPC) said.

He demanded better security to the community in Jammu and Kashmir after he alleged that stones were pelted at the houses of Kashmiri Pandits following the death of the Hizbul commander.

Anoop Bhat, Coordinator, Roots in Kashmir (RIK), said "whenever the majority population of the Valley has any issue with the ruling dispensation, the minority community faces the brunt." 

"The July 13, 1931 riots, 1986 South Kashmir riots or the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits are the prime examples of how the Kashmiri Pandit community has constantly lived in fear of life and honour," he said.

RIK spokesperson Aroop Rayu said the Kashmiri Pandits currently living in the state are in dire need of a "full proof security" and that the Centre should rethink its composite township model.