Jammu and Kashmir has been known for communal harmony, and even local terrorists will not be able to tarnish this reputation. If we look at the recent past, then we can say that the identity of Kashmir Kashmiriyat is protected in India. undamentally, Kashmir is the land of Rishis and Sufi saints, and their message is deep-rooted in the hearts of Kashmiris, irrespective of faiths and beliefs. Not only that, it has the capacity and scope to expand, creatively vocalise, and mature. It also has excellent prospects to spread its outcome all over the country.

The convergence of Mahayana Buddhism and Islam in some parts of Persia and Central Asia resulted in the evolution of Islamic mystics. The Sufis founded several orders by incorporating Hindu and Buddhist philosophies. The meeting of two great traditions-of Saivism, the Hindu monistic philosophy of Kashmir, and Erfan of Muslim. It gradually took place, giving rise to a unique order of ‘Rishis’ whose philosophical beliefs led to the idea of religious tolerance and shared faith in God, which Kashmiris always cherished.

Rishi-Sufism, a social, cultural and religious space where several Hindus and Muslims once practised their faiths, was one of the most prevalent expressions of Kashmiriyat in the 15th to 17th century. The Rishi-Sufis practice shaped the concept of the immanency of God, respect for all religions, beliefs in miracles, reincarnation, meditation, and asceticism from Hinduism and the spirit of ‘Eightfold Paths’ from Buddhism. It incorporated these into the concept of transcendence of God and to the spirit of the Five Pillars of Islam for launching the syncretic space for inter-religious interactions. The ethnocultural symbiotic consciousness, and Hindu-Buddhist inter-religious symbiotic spiritual consciousness, shaped the evolution of the Kashmiriyat.

“Kashmiryat is a concept of tolerance and inclusivity of all faiths and beliefs, thus respecting all religious traditions and festivals. It embodies communal harmony, literary heights, spirituality and symbiotic relationship among different communities. Kashimiriyat is imminent in all aspects of the Kashmiri people’s life, and it is the powerful shaper of its people’s religious and cultural life. The comforting wisdom expressed in the local Kashmiri language by the Rishis provided solace in difficult times. Despite the cultural invasion of Kashmir Valley, Kashmiryat has survived as a unique language due to various favourable historical reasons and other factors.”

Attack on Kashmiryat. In 1947, after the partition of British India into India and Pakistan. The erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir came under attack, which Pakistan masterminded. Maharaja Hari Singh signed a legal document of the Instrument of Accession, accepting accession to the Union of India when attackers had already reached the outskirt of Srinagar.

The terrorism that began in 1989 in the Kashmir Valley, supposedly for greater political rights, soon took a violent turn at the behest of Pakistan. Once again, ruthless killings, arson, looting and rape of non-Muslim people were carried out by the terrorists. Thus, the minority community of approximately 3,50,000 people, mainly Kashmiri Pandits, were driven out of the Kashmir Valley and continued living in exile. Ultimately, the whole erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir was engulfed in this cross-border terrorism sponsored by our adversary. In addition to other things, these radical elements want to destroy the basic fabric of Kashmir, i.e., Kashmiryat.

When the people of Jammu and Kashmir suffer, the magnificent metaphysical and mystical ethnicities augmented by Rishis and Sufi saints bring succour to them. There have been conversions, sometimes peaceful while at times by force. J&K witnessed conversations, various changes in administration and transfers of power. Nevertheless, neither the adaptation nor forced migrations could obliterate their mutual trust, love and psychological bondage amongst the various communities.

Ironically, the converted people did not change their surnames after conversions. People of Jammu and Kashmir take pride in their culture as the society is deeply inclined toward the culture of Rishi-Sufi mysticism. People chose not to lose their diverse spiritual identity, which is neither unequivocally Hindu nor Muslim. This culture and spirit of a singular identity, irrespective of individual religious beliefs, sometimes confuse people outside of J&K. However, Kashmiris with pride refer to it as ‘Kashmiriyat’, in simple words, ‘Kashmiri-ness’.

The people of Jammu and Kashmir, especially of Kashmir Valley, continued to live in harmony till 1989, when Pakistan aroused the communal sentiments of the majority population of Muslims in Kashmir and changed the course of a passive, otherwise secular in nature, into a violent ridden communal movement.
Pakistan forced an ideology of fundamentalism, which was alien to the Kashmiri society where Sufism flourished, divided the People based on religion, thereby complicating the ethnoreligious identity of the Kashmiris. For terrorists from the other side of the fence, religion was merely a tool to exploit the vulnerabilities of the masses and tear apart the socio-cultural fabric of Kashmiryat.

The young minds of the J&K are brainwashed and weapon-trained to carry out large-scale acts of terrorism. Pakistan-funded radical elements are entering the Kashmiri society, threatening the pluralistic social order, inter-faith and harmony of the people.

Young Kashmiri muslims are growing up under the umbrella of a single religion, Islam, with no memory of co-existence and compassion for other communities. At the same time, the Kashmiri Pandits continue to live in exile, scattered future generations growing up outside their homeland, being shaped in a different culture with barely any connection to their roots.

The unholy alliance of organised fundamental interpretations of religion and gun culture has led to the weeding out of remnants of the humanistic culture of Kashmir with its roots deeply embedded in the secular and glorious ancient past, perhaps marking its dent on ‘Kashmiriyat’.

Thus, the threat to the cultural ethos and values of Kashmiryat comes from radical elements and not from India or Indian Constitution. India is a pluralistic and multi-cultural society where many faiths and belief systems regulate the people of India. Kashmir’s civilisation is a splendid reflection of India’s civilisation, which promote composite culture and pluralism.

So far, Pakistan has tried to weaken the very spirit of Kashmiriyat, but Pakistan must appreciate that in a struggle between secularism and fundamentalism, the former is always the winner. The faith of the people of J&K in the socio-cultural fabric of Hindu-Muslim is indestructible. We must not see this conflict in J&K between Hindus and Muslims but as between national and anti-national forces. The Pakistani strategy during the insurgency phase was to create social and communal disorder and weaken the secular base. Pakistan was under the impression that Kashmiriyat had no psychic roots in the state, except in the plural reverence for other religions. This misapprehension encouraged Pakistan to transplant its fundamentalist ideology to combat the liberal Hindu ideal of the brotherhood of man, which comes from the Indian philosophy of Sarva dharma sambhava’.

Courtesy : Balwan Singh Nagial

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