Maha Kali temple co-exists with Khanqah

Published at November 19, 2017 12:41 AM 0Comment(s)7010views

Latter-day Kashmiri Pandit propaganda not endorsed by prominent Hindu historians


Faisul Yaseen

Srinagar, Nov 18:

The latter-day Kashmiri Pandits have started a vicious propaganda that the shrine of 14th century Muslim saint, Mir Syed Ali Hamadani had been built after demolishing the Kali Shri temple when in reality the two co-exist even to this day.
The barrage of misleading information by rightwing Kashmiri Pandits on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter started soon after a blaze damaged the dome of the shrine of the prominent Muslim scholar and poet at Khanqah in Srinagar downtown.
Popular among Kashmiris as Shah-e-Hamadan (King of Hamadan) and Amir-e-Kabir (The Great Commander), Hamadani played a major role in spreading Islam in Kashmir and influenced Kashmiri art, culture and heritage in the 14th century.
A Kashmiri Pandit, Bushan Lal Bhat tweeted, “khankah moulla at Srinagar was built by destroying a Kali temple by Muslim preacher Hamdani (sic).”
Kashmiri Hindus Krishna Kumar Surana and Dilip tweeted, “Khankah Maula in Srinagar is originally Maha Kali Temple, is 1 of numerous temples converted to mosques in Kashmir #reclaimtemples (sic).”
Yet another netizen, Romesh Nadir tweeted, “How some amongst us pretend to be ignorant about d occupation of a Kali Hindu Temple & conversion of it into a Khankah "Sufi by Islamists (sic).”
Talking to Rising Kashmir, Convenor Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) J&K Chapter, Saleem Beg said the religious place of Hindus and the Khanqah had co-existed side-by-side.
When the Rising Kashmir team visited the place, it could find both the temple and the Khanqah stood side-by-side.
Toward the River Jhelum, there is a wall marked with Sindoor (or Sindooram, a traditional vermilion red or orange-red colored cosmetic powder from India, usually worn by married women along the parting of their hair) but not a temple and water oozes at a place, which Kashmiri Hindus say is dedicated to goddess Kali.
Police has restricted the entry to the place with a barbed wire.
Beg said the religious place of Kashmiri Hindus was functional and nobody had taken it or encroached upon it.
“Till 1990, Kashmiri Pandits used to perform Shradh every year at this place and there was never a conflict between Kali temple and Khanqah,” said Beg, who hails from this area and during his childhood participated in celebrations of both the annual Hindu Shradh and the annual Urs at Khanqah.
“Muslims never objected to the annual Hindu Shradh and until 1990, Kashmiri Pandits too never objected to,” he said. “This conflict is off campus, created by non-practitioner Hindus who are creating it now although they never had any conflict with Kashmiri Muslims when they lived in Kashmir.”
Kashmiri Pandits believe that Sikandar Shah Miri, the sixth sultan of the Shah Miri dynasty of Kashmir who ruled the kingdom from 1389 to 1413, converted Hindus of Kashmir to Islam forcefully and carried destruction of numerous temples.
However, Khalid Bashir in his recently published book, ‘Kashmir: Exposing the Myth Behind the Narrative’ writes that none of the important Hindu chroniclers, whether proceeding contemporary or subsequent to Sikandar, including Kalhana, Jonaraja Srivara, Prajaya Bhatt, and Shuk Bhatt have made any reference to the existence of any temple by this name at its supposed location or its destruction by Sikander.
Noted Kashmiri writer and poet, Zareef Ahmad Zareef quoted Hasan Shah in ‘Encyclopedia of Kashmir’ as saying that when Mir Syed Ali Hamadani visited Kashmir, the priest of Kali temple, Purohit Shapoor along with thousands of others was influenced with the Muslim saint and accepted Islam and took the name Shah Muhammad.
He said the historian Hasan Shah mentions that at that time, the religious place of Hindus existed in the vicinity of Khanqah between Zaina Kadal and Fateh Kadal.
“According to the historian, the Brahmins who did not accept Islam were given this place to pray to their goddess Kali,” Zareef mentioned about the existing religious place Kashmiri Pandits. “And Kashmiri Pandits continued to pray there and mark their foreheads with Sindoor at this place until 1990.”
The documents of Mir Syed Ali Hamadani can to this day be seen at the Khankaq library.
Mridu Rai in her book Hindu Rulers, Muslims Subjects: Islam, Rights and the History of Kashmir quotes Pandit Anand Koul’s Archaeological Remains of Kashmir as mentioning that the Khanqah-e-Moula and the adjacent Maha Kali shrine had involved the two communities in repeated altercations. Whereas in the past while Pandits had been content to continue to worship at the site of the shrine …, by 1942 they were demanding the right to erect a covering over the shrine
Like Koul, this is a consistent narrative of all later-day Kashmiri Pandits.
In ‘Eminent Personalities of Kashmir’, a book edited by a Kashmiri Pandit, Krishan Lal Kalla, and mentions that according to Hindu belief, Khanqah was first the Kali temple. The book claims: “When Hazrat Ameer Kabir returned from Makkah, he went into the temple and offered his prayers. After he left the place, it was found that he had left footprints on that stone plate where he had bowed before the God. That temple was converted at once into Khanqah-e-Moula.
Similarly, Shiri Ram Bakshi in his book, ‘Kashmir Valley and its Culture’ writes that the shrine of Kalisari had been converted into Khanqah of Mir Syed Ali Hamadani or the Shah-e-Hamadan Masjid.
He writes that to this day, its custodians are exceptionally punctilious in cleaning and sweeping the floors of the spring situated within the Khanqah. The Pandits, who were allotted a place outside the Khanqah premises, continue to offer their worship to the goddess Kali to whom the spring was originally dedicated.
Ashiq Hussain Bhat, who writes on Kashmir history, sees the issue in a different perspective.
The author of ‘India Kashmir Constitutional Relationship’, Bhat said, “If Muslims decide to become Christians, would they not convert their Masjid into a Church.”
Noted Kashmiri historian and former Secretary of Jammu Kashmir Academy for Art, Culture and Languages, Muhammad Yousuf Taing in an interview to Tariq Ali Mir, a journalist known for covering Kashmiri heritage, said when Shah-e-Hamdan came to Kashmir he purchased the land from Sultan Sikandar.
In the interview, Taing says most temples had been destroyed in Kashmir in year 1089, during the rule of Raja Harsh Dev.
Taing quoted Raj Tarangni as mentioning that sectarian violence during the regime of Raja Harsh Dev was so intense that he forged coins out of idols, which are on display at the SPS Museum.
faisul@risingkashmir.com

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