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Kashmir, Home of "The Great Temple of Learning": Sharada Peeth

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Kashmir

Kashmir is widely regarded as the place where Vedas were first written down. Kashmir, the incubator of intellectuals and thinkers in the realm of philosophy, art, poetry, mathematics, astronomy, architecture and a pivotal centre of Sanskrit learning.

If there is a paradise on earth, it is definitely here and only here----The Kashmir Valley! Mughal Emperor Jehangir

At an opportune time Kashmir will awaken the East---
Let me put this prophecy in the ears of Kashmiris. Peerzada Ghulam Ahmed Mahjoor

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Kashmir (Balti, Gojri, Poonchi/Chibhali, Shina: کشمیر; Dogri: कश्मीर; Kashmiri: कॅशीर, کٔشِیر; Ladakhi: ཀཤམིར; Uyghur: كەشمىر) is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent.

Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range.

Today Kashmir denotes a larger area that includes the

  • Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir (the Kashmir valley, Jammu and Ladakh),
  • Pakistani-administered Gilgit-Baltistan and the Azad Kashmir provinces,
  • Chinese-administered regions of Aksai Chin and Trans-Karakoram Tract

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"Sharada Peeth, The Great Temple of Learning"

An ancient volume “Shakti Sangam Tantra” has a stray reference to “Sharda complex”. The volume describes Kashmir as a Land from Sharda Complex to “Saffron mountain ” Keshara Parbat extending upto 50 yojana.

Gotheng Brahmins are the traditional priests of Sharda Peeth. It was a centre of Hinduism and eminent Sanskrit scholars of India. The Sharada Peetha had four doors facing four direction.

The tradition of enlightenment continues to be the highest aim of the Saivists, Vedists, Buddhists and Taoists, that is to become aware of the unity and mutual inter-relation of things, to transcend the notion of all isolated individual self and to identify themselves with the ultimate reality.

------------------------------------

Kashmiri People

Kings and Royals

  • Kota Rani Last Hindu ruler
  • Shams-ud-Din Shah Mir (r.1339-42) was a ruler of Kashmir and the founder of the Shah Miri dynasty
  • ▪ Raja Sukh Jivan, king of Kashmir (1754–1762)
  • ▪ Lalitaditya Muktapida, emperor of Kashmir (724-760)
  • ▪ Maharaja Hari Singh (1895–1961), the last ruling Maharaja of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir
  • ▪ Karan Singh (1931- ), son of Maharaja Hari Singh, diplomat, and politician
  • ▪ Bakshay raina(2010-), Raina Dynasty

Saints

  • ▪ Hamza Makhdum (d.1563), poet, Sufi saint and social reformer
  • ▪ Hazrat Baba Dawood Khaki (1377–1440), poet, Islamic scholar and social reformer
  • ▪ Mian Muhammad Bakhsh (1830-1907), Sufi saint, and poet
  • ▪ Qazi Nisar Ahmad (1930–1990), poet, religious leader and social reformer
  • ▪ Swami Lakshman Joo (1907-1991), mystic and scholar of Kashmir Shaivism
  • ▪ Sheikh Noor-ud-din Wali (1377–1440), poet and social reformer

Authors and Poets

  • ▪ Ghulam Ahmad (1885–1952), poet, better known by the pen name Mahjoor
  • ▪ Agha Shahid Ali (1949–2001), poet
  • ▪ Pamposh Bhat, (1958- ), author and environmentalist
  • ▪ Chandrakanta (1938- ), novelist and short story writer
  • ▪ Mohammad Sharif Chattar (1935–2007), botanist, author, poet
  • ▪ Mahmud Gami (1765–1855), composed a version of the story of Yusuf and Zulaikha
  • ▪ Krishna Hutheesing (1907–1967), author, and sister of Jawaharlal Nehru
  • ▪ Manju Kak, short story writer
  • ▪ Zinda Kaul (1884–1965), poet, also known as masterji
  • ▪ Moti Lal Kemmu (1933- ), playwright
  • ▪ Maqbool Shah Kralawari (1820–1876), lyricist
  • ▪ Hari Kunzru (1969- ), British novelist of Kashmiri descent
  • ▪ Saadat Hasan Manto (1912–1955), short story writer
  • ▪ Basharat Peer (1977- ), author
  • ▪ Javaid Rahi (1970- ), poet, and expert on Gujjar affairs
  • ▪ Santha Rama Rau (1923- ), travel writer
  • Salman Rushdie (1947- ), novelist and essayist
  • ▪ Gita Sahgal, (1956- ) writer, journalist, film director, human rights activist.
  • ▪ Nayantara Sahgal (1927- ), Indo-Anglian writer, novelist
  • ▪ Jaspreet Singh, novelist and playwright
  • ▪ Moti Lal Saqi (1936–1999), poet, writer, folklorist and researcher

Philosophers and Historians

  • ▪ Abhinavagupta, (ca. 950-1020), philosopher, mystic and aesthetician
  • ▪ Anandavardhana (820-890), philosopher and author of the Dhvanyaloka
  • ▪ Bhaskara
  • ▪ Prajna Bhatta (16th century), historian
  • ▪ Jonaraja (15th century), historian
  • ▪ Subhash Kak (1947- ), writer, philosopher, and computer scientist
  • ▪ Kalhana (12th century), historian and author of Rajatarangini
  • ▪ Bhatta Kallata, a notable Shaivite thinker
  • ▪ Gopi Krishna (1903–1980), writer and mystic
  • ▪ Kshemaraja (10th century), philosopher
  • ▪ Lalleshwari (1320–1392), saint-poetess
  • ▪ Shrivara (15th century), historian
  • ▪ Somananda (875-925) a teacher of Kashmir Shaivism
  • ▪ Utpaladeva, a teacher of Kashmir Shaivism
  • ▪ Vasugupta (860-925), author of the Shiva Sutras of Vasugupta

Scholars and Educationists

  • ▪ Braj Kachru (1932- ), researcher in English linguistics
  • ▪ Omkar N. Koul (1941- ), researcher in linguistics, language education, communication, and comparative literature
  • ▪ Ravinder Kumar (1933–2001), historian
  • ▪ Jaishree Odin, post-modern literary theorist, professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Hawaii
  • ▪ Giridhari Lal Pandit, historian of science, professor of philosophy
  • ▪ Lalita Pandit, poet, professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse
  • ▪ Balajinnatha Pandita (1916–2007), Sanskrit scholar, expert on Kashmir Shaivism
  • ▪ Dr. H.N. Parimoo , Education - professor of education Kashmir University, A philosopher, a visionary and a Great Teacher. critical study of the educational conditions prevalent in India from A.D. 1526 to A.D. 1707, Ph.D. Edu., All. 1963-1.

Artists

  • ▪ Manohar Kaul (1925- ), painter
  • ▪ Ratan Parimoo (1936- ), art historian, and painter
  • ▪ Ghulam Rasool Santosh (1929–1997), painter
  • ▪ akshay raina2000-2011],painter

Performing Artists

  • ▪ Omkar Nath Dhar (Jeevan), actor
  • ▪ Maanvi Gagroo (1985- ), actor
  • ▪ Muzamil Ibrahim (1984- ), model, actor
  • ▪ Katrina Kaif (1984- ) model, actress
  • ▪ Kiran Kumar, actor
  • ▪ Roshan Koul Kothidar, Actor , Director and Theatre Artist
  • ▪ Mushtaq Kak (1961- ), theater director
  • ▪ Bansi Kaul (1949 - ), theater director
  • ▪ Hina Khan (1986- ), actress
  • ▪ Mohammad Iqbal Khan (1980- ), model, actor
  • ▪ Anupam Kher (1954- ), actor
  • ▪ M.K. Raina (1970- ), actor, director, theater artist
  • ▪ Karan Razdan (1962- ), actor, writer and director
  • ▪ Soni Razdan (1962- ), actress, director
  • ▪ Jawahar Wattal, director, producer, musician

Singers and Musicians

  • ▪ * Raj Begum, singer, awarded the Padma Shri in 2002
  • ▪ Malika Pukhraj (1912-2004), singer
  • ▪ Ghulam Mohammad Saznawaz, proponent of Kashmiri Sufi music
  • ▪ Ghulam Nabi Sheikh, singer and composer
  • ▪ Bhajan Sopori, santoor player, awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1993 and the Padma Shri in 2004
  • ▪ Qazi Touqeer (1985- ), singer in Kashmiri and Hindi languages; Fame Gurukul finalist

Prominent Administrators Diplomats Bankers Jurists

  • ▪ R K Wattal First Kashmiri pandit agent of State Bank of India at Srinagar[citation needed]
  • ▪ Munir Butt (1940- ), former British diplomat
  • ▪ Birbal Dhar (early 19th century), invited Maharaja Ranjit Singh to Kashmir
  • ▪ Durga Prasad Dhar (1918–1975), ambassador of India to the Soviet Union, and politician
  • ▪ Mirza Pandit Dhar, prominent Kashmiri during the rule of Azim Khan
  • ▪ Mufti Baha-ud-Din Farooqi (1923- ), the twelfth Chief Justice of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir
  • ▪ Purushottam Narayan Haksar (1913–1998), political strategist
  • ▪ Rameshwar Nath Kao (1918–2002), first chief of the Research and Analysis Wing, India's intelligence agency (from 1969–1977)
  • ▪ Neel Kashkari (1973- ), Interim Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Stability in the United States Department of the Treasury
  • Farooq Kathwari (1944- ), Chief Executive, Ethan Allen Inc, USA
  • ▪ A Rashid Mir (1950- ), Chief Executive, CIE Group Worldwide
  • ▪ Mohan Kaul (1953- ), Director General, Commonwealth Business Council, London
  • ▪ P. K. Kaul, ambassador of India to the United States (1986–1989)
  • ▪ Triloki Nath Khoshoo (1927–2002), secretary of the Department of Environment in the Indira Gandhi Government, and environmentalist
  • ▪ Mohan Lal (1812–1877), diplomat in the First Anglo-Afghan War, and writer
  • ▪ Mehraj Mattoo (1961- ), Global Head, Commerzbank AG, London
  • ▪ Amitabh Mattoo (1962- ), Vice Chancellor, Jammu University
  • ▪ Braj Kumar Nehru (1909–2001), ambassador of India to the United States (1961–1968) and Governor of Assam (1968–1973)
  • ▪ Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit (1900–1990), ambassador of India to the United States (1949–1952), President of the United Nations General Assembly (1953), politician, sister of Jawaharlal Nehru
  • ▪ Farah Pandith (1969- ), U.S. State Department Special Representative
  • ▪ Tej Bahadur Sapru (1875–1949), lawyer, political and social leader during the British Raj

Prominent Politicians

  • ▪ Farooq Abdullah (1936- ), Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir (1982–1984, 1986–1990, 1996–2002), son of Sheikh Abdullah
  • ▪ Omar Abdullah (1970- ),Current Chief Minister Jammu And Kashmir member of the 14th Lok Sabha, son of Farooq Abdullah, grandson of Sheikh Abdullah
  • ▪ Sheikh Abdullah (1905–1982), Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir (1948–1953), Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir (1975–1977, 1977–1982)
  • ▪ Nazir Ahmed (1958- ), member of the House of Lords of the United Kingdom
  • ▪ Sadiq Ali (1952- ), politician, poet, writer, and environmentalist
  • ▪ Ghulam Ahmad Ashai, educator, reformer, a founder of the University of Kashmir
  • ▪ Ghulam Nabi Azad (1949- ), former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir
  • ▪ Muzaffar Baig (1946- ), Deputy Chief Minister, Finance Minister, Law Minister, Tourism Minister of Jammu & Kashmir (2002-2008)
  • ▪ Maqbool Butt (1938–1984), co-founder of the JKLF Party
  • ▪ Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq (d. 1990), chairman of the Aawami Action Committee
  • Indira Gandhi (1917–1984), Prime Minister of India, daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Rajiv Gandhi (1944–1991), Prime Minister of India, son of Indira Gandhi, grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru
  • ▪ Syed Ali Shah Geelani (1929- ),Most prominent figure in Jammu & Kashmir, Member of Jamait e Islami, Founder and Chairman of Tehreek e Hurriyat J&K, Chairman of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (G)
  • ▪ Ram Chandra Kak (1893–1983), archaeologist and politician
  • ▪ Kailash Nath Katju (1887–1968), freedom fighter, a prominent lawyer who participated in the INA trials, former governor and chief minister of several Indian states, cabinet minister under Jawaharlal Nehru
  • ▪ Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan (1915-2003), founder and first President of Azad Kashmir
  • ▪ Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan (1934- ), politician, former prime minister and former president of Azad Jammu and Kashmir
  • ▪ Sardar Sayab Khalid (1940- ), former Speaker of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly
  • ▪ Saifuddin Kitchlew (1888–1963), freedom fighter and politician
  • ▪ Abdul Ghani Lone (1932–2002), lawyer, politician and founder of the People's Conference
  • ▪ Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad (1907–1972), Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir (1953–1963)
  • ▪ Bilal Nazki (1947- ), Chief Justice in India
  • ▪ Mehbooba Mufti (1959- ), female politician, member of the 14th Lok Sabha
  • ▪ Jawaharlal Nehru (1889–1964), first Prime Minister of independent India
  • ▪ Motilal Nehru (1861–1931), Indian independence activist, president of the Indian National Congress
  • ▪ Syed Mir Qasim, Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir (1971–1975)
  • ▪ Hashim Qureshi, (1953-), Chairman Jammu & Kashmir Democratic Liberation Party
  • ▪ Mohammad Shafi Qureshi, (1929- ), former governor of Bihar and of Madhya Pradesh, State Railway Minister
  • ▪ Raja Mummtaz Hussain Rathore (d. 1999), former Prime Minister and Speaker of Azad Kashmir
  • ▪ Muhammad Farooq Rehmani (1938-), Chairman of the Peoples Freedom League, former Convener of the Hurriyat Conference
  • ▪ Ghulam Muhammad Sadiq, Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir (1964–1965), Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir (1965–1971)
  • ▪ Mufti Muhammad Sayeed (1936- ), Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir (2002–2005)
  • ▪ Ghulam Mohammad Shah (1920–2009)), Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir (1984–1986)
  • ▪ Shabir Shah (1953- ), Founder of the Jammu & Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party. Known as Nelson Mandela of India
  • ▪ Khwaja Shams-ud-Din (1922–1999), Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir (1963–1964)
  • ▪ Nawaz Sharif (1949- ), former Prime Minister of Pakistan
  • ▪ Saif-ud-din Soz (1937- ), long-time member of the Parliament of India, former Union Minister of Environment & Forests, former Minister of Water Resources,President JKPCC

Kashmir has produced numerous philosophers , intellectuals and poets who in their own age were considered the great literary figures. These include--:

  • Gani Kashmiri,

  • Shaikh Nooruddin Wali,
  • Shah-e - Hamdan,
  • Habba Khatoon,
  • Rasul Mir,
  • Wahab Khar,
  • Mehjoor,
  • Abdul Ahad Azad,
  • Agha Hashar Kashmiri,
  • Dr. Muhammad Iqbalk,
  • Agha Shoorish Kashmiri.

---------------------------------------------

Sir Mohammad Iqbal :

Among the Kashmiris of International repute, Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, the greatest poet and philosopher of the continent, tops the list. Iqbal's ancestors were the Kasmiri Pandits of the Saproo family who, after embracing Islam, came be known as the Sheikhs.

His grandfather migrated to Sialkot in order to explore the better avenues of livelihood and then settled there permanently. Iqbal always boasted of being a Kashmiri and used to introduce himself in these words: The seeds of this flower are from the flower-gardens of Kashmir" .

The plight of Kashmiris always dominated Iqbal's thinking which prompted him to take' active part in the freedom struggle of Kashmir. He loved his ancestral land immensely and did his utmost to make its inhabitants realize the true value of freedom and the dignity in struggling for it.

For higher education Dr. Iqbal had to go Lahore where he settled permanently. His tomb is situated adjacent to the famous Shahi Masjid in Lahore (Pakistan). All foreign delegates and dignitaries visiting Lahore visit his tomb and pay homage to this world famous philosopher-poet.
 

Shah-e-Hamdan:

Many saints came to the valley of Kashmir to preach and to propagate Islam, to name a few were: Bulbul Shah, Syed Jalal Uddin Bukhari, Syed Taj Uddin, Syed Hussain Samnani, and Yousuf.

But the one who lit the torch of monotheism, in reality was Hazrat Amir-e-Kabir Sahah-e-Hamdan.

 His name was Ali, and titles were Amir-e-Kabir, Ali Sa'ani, and Mir. Besides them, the Chroniclers had mentioned several other titles: Qutub-e-Zaman, Sheikh-e-Salikan-e-Jehan, Qutub-Ul-Aktab, Moih-Ul-Ambiya-o-Ul-Mursaleen, Afzal-Ul-Muhaq-e-qeen-o-Akmal-Ul-Mudaq-e-qeen, Al-Sheiyookh-Ul-Kamil, Akmal-Ul-Muhaqqiq-Ul-Hamadani etc.



He traced his patrimony through his father, Syed Shahab Uddin, to Imam Zain-ul-Abedein and finally to Hazrat Ali.

His mother, Syeda Fatimah, with seventeen links, reached the Prophet.

 Syed Hamdani came from an educated family.

He was intelligent and quick of mind, and read the holy Qu'ran, under the care of his maternal uncle, Hazrat Ala-Uddin and from him too he took his lessons on subjects outer and intrinsic for a period of thirteen years. 

He fought with Amir-e-Temur and so moved to Kashmir with seven hundred Syeds and his followers, during the reign of King Shahab-Uddin.

He had already sent two of his followers: Syed Taj Uddin Samnani and Mir Syed Hasan Samnani to take stock of the situation. The ruler of Kashmir became the follower of Mir Syed Hasan Samnani and because of the Kings concurrence he entered Kashmir with a large following. The King and heir apparent, Qutub Uddin, received him warmly.

At that time the Kashmir ruler was on war with Firoz Tughlaq and because of his efforts the parties came to terms.

Shah Hamdan started the propagation movement of the Islam in Kashmir in an organized manner.

The Kashmiri Muslims were unaware of the Deeni spirit before his arrival there. The reason being, the people, who had initiated the Movement, were saintly by nature and carried a deep influence of the Hinduism and the Buddhism. In-spite of having been turned Muslims they still observed many local rites and practices.

Shah Hamdan did not stay in the valley permanently but visited on various occasions. First during the reign of Sultan Shahab Uddin in 774 Hijri he came, stayed for six months and left it.

Second, he visited in 781 Hijri when Qutub Uddin was the ruler, stayed for a year and tried to extend the Movement to every nook and corner of Kashmir, returned to Turkistan via Ladakh in 783 Hijri.

Third, he visited in 785, with the intention to stay for a longer period but had to return earlier owing to illness.



Shah Hamadan was a Multi-dimensional personality. He was a social reformer besides being a preacher. Among the seven hundred followers, who accompanied him to Kashmir, were men of arts and crafts who flourished here? They popularized Shawl-making, cloth-weaving, pottery and calligraphy. Allama Iqbal admits that because of Shah Hamadan the wonderful arts and crafts turned Kashmir into a mini Iran and brought about a revolution in the thinking process of the people.



Shah Hamadan's greatest contribution was the character building of the people to liberate them from the fear of the new system and their love for the older one.

He imbibed true awakening and taught the Shairah. The Kashmiri people still had some of the Hindu beliefs; visited the temples and revered the Brahmins.

The rulers wore Hindu dresses, and observed practices Un-Islamic in nature. On his instructions the rulers abandoned Un-Islamic dress and took to long cloaks similar to the ones wore by the Turkish rulers. Orders of the Shairah were made popular and people were inspired to learn more about Islam.

For purpose of building the character of the Muslims he practiced truthfulness and fearlessness. He even scolded the contemporary rulers on their Un-Islamic activities. Sultan Qutub Uddin had two real sisters as wives. He reprimanded him and asked to divorce one of them. He obeyed.

He made Islamic teachings known to the people in Kashmir, improved their beliefs, made efforts for the building of their character and laid down a fool-proof system for the propagation of the Islam.



Shah Hamadan, besides being a mystic saint and an effective preacher, was a man of letters and wrote about a hundred pamphlets in Arabic and Persian: Zakhira-Tul-Malik, a famous book, has been translated in many languages. It is impossible to mention all the titles of his books here, how ever, a few of them are: Sharah Nasoos-Ul-Hukm Farisi, Asrar-Ul-Nuqt, Risala Nooriya, Risia Islahat-e-Ilam-Ul-Qafia-o-Qaeda, Moudat-Ul-Qurabi, Rouzat-Ul-Firdous, Firdous-Ul-Akhbar, Manazil-Ul-Salikeen, Khulasit-Ul-Manaqib, Chehl Asrar, and etc.

 

Gani Kashmiri

Due to his superb Persian poetry, Gani Kashmiri became famous in Iran also. His philosophical Persian poetry prompted Saib, a famous Persian poet, to travel all the way from Iran to Kashmir in order to see Gani and have a deeper insight into his philosophy. On his arrival the Persian poet went to meet Gani a number of times but was disappointed to find the doors of his house locked.

Still he didn't give up his mission and at one occasion found the doors open. With great enthusiasm he went inside the house but found Gani missing and the house without any human being inside it. Ultimately when through some local contact Saib succeeded in meeting Gani Kashmiri, he inquired about the philosophy of locking the door while Gani himself was inside and keeping it open when he was not in the house. At this Gani is believed to have said, "I am the only treasure in this house. In order to protect this treasure the doors have to be locked. Once the treasure is not in the house there is no need to lock its doors". The Iranian poet was deeply impressed and eulogized Gani Kashmiri for his wit and intelligence.
 Gani Kashmiri wrote Persian poetry because during his times Persian was the official language and Persian literature was at its zenith. His poetry, because of its artistic merits, has a distinct place in the entire Persian literature.



Among other Kashmiri poets Rasul Mir enjoys a distinguished position due to his poetic thought and excellent craftsmanship. Even Wahab Khar, a great mystic poet, surpassed in artistic merits to the poets of his time. Peerzada Ghulam Ahmed Mahjoor, a great modem Kashmiri poet following the footsteps of Dr. Iqbal, has very aptly said: 



"At an opportune time Kashmir will awaken the East---
Let me put this prophecy in the ears of Kashmiris"
 

Shaikh Nooruddin Wali

Shaikh Nooruddin is an unparalleled saint and Sufi poet whose poetry has been infusing vibrance is thousands of inanimate souls. Born in a newly converted Muslim family of Kaimuh
(Kulgam), in the north west of Kashmir Shaikh Nooruddin struggled hard to bring about, through his excellent poetry, the religious, political, social and cultural transformation in Kashmiri people. As a result of it, he is popularly called "Alamdar-i-Kashmir" (the upholder of the banner of Kashmir) and "Shaikh-ul-Alam" (the leader of the world).

People from all walks of life and all shades of opinion held him in high esteem and get inspiration and
guidance from his poetry, which has become the most important part of Kashmiri folk literature.

According to a legend, Hazrat Zainuddin Wali, a disciple of Sheikh Nooruddin Wali known as Alamdar-e-Kashmir or flag-bearer of Kashmir, he was born in Banderkot, Kishtwar in Doda district. It is said that once he took very ill and his mother was weeping bitterly. 

All of a sudden, a person with a radiant face appeared before her and on the promise that she would bring the child to him in Kashmir after he regained health, he cured him through his spiritual power.

Over a period of time, the mother forgot the promise and her child was again taken ill. This time, however, she knew the reason and proceeded to Kashmir along with her son.

The person who had appeared before the lady was Sheikh Nooruddin Wali. She recognised him at the first sight as the one who had visited her at Kishtwar and embraced Islam.

The Sheikh named the child as Sheikh Zainuddin who later became his favourite disciple.

It is said that when, on the command of Sheikh Nooruddin, Zainuddin Wali arrived at Aishmuqam, the cave on the hillock was infested with poisonous snakes. The reptiles vacated the place for him to meditate.

Legend has it that the disciples of Zainuddin carried the snakes in baskets to a nearby place that later came to be known as “Puhir Paejin” or a basket of snakes.

The saint passed away in 1448 AD. When his disciples brought the coffin for burial of the body, they were astounded to see it empty. In desperation they left the place and during the night, one of the disciples saw Zainuddin in his dream asking him to raise a mausoleum at the same place where the coffin was placed. Besides Hazrat Zainuddin Wali, 18 of his disciples are also buried in the premises of the shrine.

The shrine is visited by people throughout the year.

The relics at the shrine include a holy staff gifted to Sheikh Nooruddin Reshi by Mir Sayed Ali Hamadani, the 14th century preacher who influenced en masse conversion of Kashmiris to Islam. The 8-feet long rod covered in green cloth is originally believed to be of Hazrat Owais Qarni, the exalted Muslim who had the distinction of being a companion of Prophet Mohammad without having met him during his lifetime.

At the time of a natural calamity like an epidemic, the blessings of the rod are invoked by taking it out and offering mass prayers.

Habba Khatoon

Habiba, alias Habba Khatoon, was a great poetess of the late sixteenth century. Born in Chandhar (Pampore), fifteen kilometers from Srinagar, her parents used to call her Zoon (Moon) due to her extreme beauty. They educated her but did not appreciate her innate poetic talent. They married her to an illiterate peasant, a total mismatch to her poetic bent of mind, but the marriage ended in a divorce as she could not reconcile with her illiterate husband.


It is said that one day she along with her friends was heard singing love lores, in the saffron fields, by Sultan Yousuf Shah Chak. The Sultan was so much intoxicated with her melodious voice and poetry that he fell in love with her at first sight and proposed marriage which her parents willingly consented. In this way Habba Khatoon the poetess became the queen of Kashmir and a very wise adviser to the King.' Her poetry scaled new heights of imagination and her poems became an important part of Kashmiri' s folk literature.
 

Maulana Anwar Shah Kashmiri

The valley of Kashmir has also produced the world famous Theologians and accomplished religious scholars. Among these Maulana Anwar Shah who was born in 1875 in Lolab area of the south-west Kashmir, merits special consideration. His father's name was Peer Muhammad Muazam Shah and his mother was called Maalded.


Maulana Anwar went outside Kashmir for higher studies and came back after receiving education and then started delivering sermons on various aspects of religion and theology.
During his pilgrimage to Mecca also he got great recognition for his erudition and knowledge of Islamic theology.

He also went to AI-Azhar University in Egypt which has a great distinction among the Islamic Institutions of the world. On his way to Malta from Cairo he was detained for his radical thoughts on Islam and was imprisoned for two years. He returned India in 1920 and settled in Deoband (UP) where he was buried after his death, in accordance with his own will. .

Khwaja Abdul Karim Kashmiri

'Kashmiris have always been at their intellectual Zenith', writes the famous historian, G.M.D. Sufi, 'and among those great Kashmiris who achieved international recognition, Khwaja Abdul
Karim was the one who spent most of his time outside Kashmir.

Born in Iddgah locality of Srinagar city, Abdul Karim very soon became a great intellectual and scholar of his time. During the reign of Nadir Shah Durani he decided to go for Hajj and had to stay in Delhi in order to get visa from the royal court which in those days was mandatory for every Hajj pilgrim.

Following the procedure, this Kashmiri intellectual presented himself in the royal court and made a request for visa. During his brief encounter with Nadir Shah he impressed the King
with his extraordinary" intelligence to such an extent that Nadir Shah decided to take him to Iran and appoint him on an important position in the royal court itself. Khwaja Abdul Karim accepted the offer on the condition that he would be allowed to perform Hajj which Nadir Shah gladly accepted.

Once appointed, this great son of Kashmir left an indelible impression of his capability and intelligence upon the Iranian King and his courtiers. He attained the position of Foreign Minister of Iran and was deputed to Turkey as an envoy of the King for resolving certain disputes between Iran and Turkey. After his diplomatic triumph in Turkey, Nadir Shah
deputed him to Baghdad and Damascus in order to resolve some important issues between these countries. After completing these important diplomatic assignments successfully Nadir Shah sent him to perform Hajj in the company of a learned religious scholar, Muhammad Hashim.

After performing Hajj Khwaja abdul Karim came to India from Jedah and spent sometime in Delhi with some European tourists. Subsequently, he returned to Kashmir and recorded his experiences of Iran and Arabia in a lucid and vibrant prose which is considered one of the most precious treatises in Persian literature.

He has recorded his experiences in such a manner that the reader feels completely involved in the happenings at Nadir Shah's court and at the same time visualizes some important places and monuments of Damascus.

He presents in just four pages a vivid picture of Nadir Shah's court and administration which seems to be a precise of a long epic. Khwaja Abdul Karim has recorded that Takht-i-Tawoos (the peacock throne) which Nadir Shah along with the thrones of other captured kingdoms, had carried with him had decorated the royal court of Iran. Keeping in view the importance of these historical reminiscences of Khwaja Abdul

Karim, an English writer Gladson translated them into English in 1793. In these reminiscences the documents pertaining to the period between 1739 to 1749 are considered very important because here Khwaja Karim has recorded some important development that took place in Iran and India during these ten years.
 

Lalla Arifa, Lal Ded

Lalla Arifa is seen as a blend of Hindu-Muslim amalgamation. The Hindus regard her the reincarnate whereas the Muslims, a perfect mystic saint. The Hindus say that her name was Lal Ishwari born of the Hindu parents and remained absorbed in meditation and praise of God.

The Muslims hold that she was averse to the Hindu religion, embraced the Islam at the behest of Syed Hussain Samnani, disliked the Pundits and the Brahmins.

She is called by several names in Kashmir: Lal Vaid, Lalla-Ji, Lalla Ded or Lalla-Ishwari. In fact she was the lamp of Kashmir who benefited all the communities, Hindus as well as Muslims. Both love and respect her.



Lalla Arifa was lost in spiritual wonderment; walked about naked; fought against her self; and renounced the world. Her teachings gave new lease of life to thousands of people. She was a blessed soul and could move the hardhearted man.

Lalla Arifa was a poetess and sang of spiritual and divine bliss.

Lalla Arifa was born in 1335 AD. To Shri Zaida Pundit or Zindia Bat, the landlord at a village Pander - then, three miles from away form Srinagar. He was God fearing gentleman.



From the very beginning Lal Arifa was inclined to the matters spiritual in nature and engrossed in deep thoughts and was not interested in worldly matters. Pundit Shri Kanth, a mystic and Yogi of High order and the family teacher, realized the spiritual virtues in her and took over the responsibility to educate her in the matter.



She was married at an early age to the illiterate son of the landlord of Pampore village. Apparently she performed her household duties, but inwardly she was given to meditation and knowledge. This resulted in the neglect of the house, which caused her mother-in-law, and husband complains. The mother-in-law treated her badly; put pebbles in a plate and placed some cooked rice around them. Lalla Arifa ate the few grains of rice and made no complaints. One day her Father-in-law came to know of it and he rebuked his wife. This angered her further, said untrue things about her to her husband, and turned him against her. He too treated her cruelly.



One day Lalla Arifa carried a pitcher full of water on her head. Her Husband arrived, and struck the pitcher with his stick in anger. The pitcher broke but water remained in body. She came to the house, filled in all the empty pots with water, and the remaining she threw outside into a forest from where ran a spring of water.

The episode made her famous and people came to see her in large numbers and disturbed her. She then renounced her house and married life and engaged herself whole heartedly in prayers and meditation. At all times she recited verses, in Kashmiri language, in low tones in praise of God.



To mention here the practice of Lalla shall not be out of place that in a state of extreme ecstasy and wonderment that she roamed about the forest and human habitations naked. Once she was going through a bazaar, she saw a saint, was terrified and exclaimed, "Here is a man, should cover myself." She ran to a baker's shop and jumped into the blazing oven. People raised a hue and cry that Lalla had been burnt. The saint also came and asked her to come out. Lalla Arifa came out, dressed in, a long shirt with a beautiful, coloured shawl on her shoulder.



It is also said that during the condition Hazrat Makhdoom Jalal-Uddin Jehanian Jehan Gard met her, pacified her, and told her the good news that soon her teacher and guide, Hazrat Husain Samnani, would arrive and relieve her of her restlessness and sufferings.

Eventually came Hazrat Samnani and Lalla Arifa, under his benign guidance, attained peace.

Lalla Arifa said verses in the Kashmiri language on subjects of spiritualism and mysticism reaching the common people with the message that color; castes, envy, prejudice, narrow-mindedness, and greed are worthless. Real thing is search for the Truth. In brief, Lalla Arifa gave people of Kashmir the message of fraternity and equality and served them irrespective of caste and creed.
 

Bulbul Shah :  

People called him with the epithet of the nightingale of Kashmir, Bulbul Shah's Real name was Syed Sheriff Uddin Abdul Rehman and title Syed Bilal that owing to frequent use changed into Bulbul. Hence he came to be known as Bulbul Shah or the Bulbul-e-Kashmir.

Bulbul Shah sought allegiance to the renowned saint, Shah Nemat-Ullah Farisi Shirazi, of the Suharawardy Order who, in turn, looked to Zia Uddin-Ul-Najeeb Abdul Qahiri.

Bulbul Shah's native town is a matter of controversy among the writers. Dr. S. N Naz thinks, he was from the region of Tamkastan of the ancient Iran, some relates him to Baghdad; still others trace him from Turkistan.

He reached Kashmir with his friend Mullah Ahmad. Some hold, he came to Kashmir with one thousand refugees out of the fear of the Mangols. Others believe, he entered the valley in 1324 AD. during the reign of Ranchan Shah.

We think his arrival during the reign of Ranchan Shah, a Bodh ruler, is more probable. Rancher Shah was a seeker of Truth. Hinduism could not satisfy him and found the answer with Bulbul Shah.

His meeting with Bulbul left a deep mark on him and he learnt the teaching of Islam from his precepts and actions. He embraced Islam under the assumed name Sadar Uddin, and along with him thousands became Muslims.



Ranchan Shah shared a greater responsibility in the propagation of Islam. He ordered for the construction of a monastery for Bulbul Shah, came to be known as the Khanqah-e-Bulbul Shah which formerly stood in the Mohalla Bulbullinko. In addition to it, he raised a mosque and several other buildings which don't exist now and of which we read in books only.



The nobles who turned to Islam included the commander of the Kashmir forces, Ravan Chandra. He adopted Bibi Lalla, the saint, as his daughter and foretold that she would be a great saint. This proved true.

Hazrat Syed Bulbul Shah was a great scholar, a man of letters, and a theologian. Besides, he had reached the lovely end in intrinsic and spiritual learning. He illuminated the darkness of the hearts with the torch of the faith.



Once it grew very cold in Kashmir. The water in the river Jhelum froze hard. People suffered for want of water. Bulbul Shah himself went in search of water but the Jhelum water was so hard that it refused to break. He saw towards the sky and said, "Where is the sun to melt the snow from its heat?" It is said, the sun rose and frozen snow melted.



Bulbul Shah was a wonderful and impressive man. Whatever he said did it built a place of peace and quiet in the form of a monastery from where ran the stream of benedictions and Faith that lit the entire valley.

He died on 7, Rajab 722 Hijri (1326 AD) 
   

Gulam Ahmad Mehjoor :

The revolutionary poet Mehjoor, . Ghulam Ahmad Mehjoor popularly known as Shair-e-Kashmir (the poet of Kashmir) was born at Mitrigam, Pulwama on Ist August, 1887.

He is considered herald of didactic poetry in Kashmiri language. He was the first poet of Kashmiri language to incorporate themes closer to life and times of his age. Yet his lyrics have the magical appeal as those of “Habba Khatoon”. His poetry for the first time in Kashmir seemed to be concerned about national resurgence.

He stands as a towering figure of transitional Kashmiri poetry from old to new.

“ Mehjoor” is the first and the only poet till now on whom a full-length movie was made. Thus he happens to be the only poet of Kashmir to have risen to the heights of legend in his life time