History of Jammu and Kashmir

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1000 to 1300 A.D.

Around 1014 A.D., Mahmud Ghazni plundered the Valley for the first time. He carried with him, a large number of prisoners and converted them to Islam. He returned in 1015 and made a fruitless attempt to capture the hill fort of Lohkot, modern day Loharin. He also failed to capture the same fort in 1021.

The Lohara dynasty happened around 1003 A.D. and Samgramaraja was the first king. There were a series of non consequential events - kings thereafter going up to the second Lohara dynasty which was started by Uchchala around 1105. Vantideva (1165-1172) was the last king of this dynasty.

Many kings ruled thereafter. In 1301 A.D. Suhadeva asserted his supremacy over Kashmir but had to face Dulucha, the Commander-in-chief of the King of Kandhar who took a large number of Kashmiris as slaves. At the same time, Rinchana, the son of a Western Tibetan chief, invaded it from the south. By killing Ramachandra, he became the undisputed ruler of Kashmir in 1320. An able ruler, he was killed by his enemies. Suhadeva behaved like a coward all along and died in 1320.

Rinchana’s wife Kota became the head of Kashmir. Unwilling to trust her minister Sahamera, she appointed Bhatta Bhikshana. Unhappy at being sidelined, Sahamera murdered Bhatta, imprisoned the queen and became King in 1339, under the name of Shams-ud-din. This marked the advent of Muslim rule in 1338 A.D.

Literature

Kshemendra, the 11th century poet of king Ananta of Kashmir, gives us the epitomes of two great epics in his Bharata-manjari and Ramayana-manjari. His Dasavatara-charita describes the ten incarnations of Vishnu. The Haracharitachintamnai by Jayadratha is important to the extent that it embodies some and new Saiva practices and legends, some of which are directly linked to the places of pilgrimage in Kashmir. There were a number of other learned writers and poets during this period.

There was an exodus of Buddhist missionaries from this region to Central Asia and Tibet so much so that the valley became some sort of a holy land for Northern Buddhists. In 980 A.D., two missionaries went to China to translate scriptures from Sanskrit to Chinese. There were two centers of Buddhist learning, Ratnagupta and Ratnarasmi that figure amongst the greatest centers of learning during this period.

Buddhism produced such a salutary effect on the people of the valley that even some kings insisted on the practice of Ahimsa. The Saivite schools that came up in the 9th and 10th centuries had been influenced by Buddhism. Saivism continued to flourish in Kashmir.

It is a very significant fact that the Himalayan regions of Kashmir, Nepal and Tibet came out of mountain seclusion to enter the arena of Indian history and culture, almost simultaneously, from the seventh century onwards. Kashmir maintained this intimate association till it was overrun by the Muslims while Nepal, Tibet until very recent times. The Sufi saints appeared during this period, the first of whom was Shaikh Ismail of Lahore. The greatest saint was Khvaja Muinuddin of Ajmer.

1300 to 1526 A.D.

The history of Kashmir was given in three Sanskrit chronicles i.e., from the middle of the 12th century to the time it was conquered by Akbar. The earliest one was by Jonaraja. The Muslim chronicles are based on these writings.

After a series of kings came Shihab-ud-din, who, by various conquests restored some of Kashmir’s glory. He possessed a spirit of toleration which was seldom displayed by any Muslim ruler in India.

The next important king was Sikandar, whose reign marks a turning point in the history of Kashmir from a religious and social perspective. A large number of fanatical Muslims from outside the country came, occupied offices of the state and became the king’s friends. Idols were destroyed, temples demolished, and attempts were made to kill Brahmins. His son Mir Khan continued the torture of Brahmins.

Shahi Khan became the next king in 1420. He is known to be the greatest king of Kashmir. The state became prosperous and he treated the Hindus well. He was well versed in Persian and Sanskrit and even had the Mahabharat translated into Persian. His court was a meeting place of Hindu – Muslim scholars, poets. He died in 1470 A.D. From there on till 1530, there were a number of kings with treachery and instability being the name of the game.

The bulk of the Sanskrit literature during this period came from Bengal, South and Western India. Kashmir receded into the background. The Sufi movement developed during this period. Muslim Sufis were men of deep religious feelings who believed in soul, a spiritual substance which is different from the body but akin to the universal soul (similar to Vedanta). They regarded inward light or intuitive experience of far more importance than dogmatic formalism of the orthodox type and thought love to be the only means of reaching God.

A lot is written about the compassion of Sufi preachers. Author Dimple Kaul wrote, "Through this series of posts, we intend to examine the iconoclastic activities of Shamsuddin Araqi (c.1480 CE), one of the most "peaceful" Sufi missionaries of Kashmir and his role in the destruction of Hindu and Buddhist temples of Kashmir, Ladakh and Gilgit-Baltistan. We shall be highlighting Sufi Araqi’s role in the historical religious transformation of Kashmir from a 100% Hindu to a near 100% Muslim society within a span of 100 years.

Read No Peace, only Pieces - The Sufi Mission in Kashmir

1526 to 1700 A.D.

A series of kings ruled Kashmir till 1540. It was then decided by Humayun’s generals, mainly Mirza Haidar, to invade Kashmir. He conquered it in 1540. His description of Hindu temples make delightful reading but he was also a bigoted Sunni. Unable to control the various feudatories, he fought them and died in one such war in 1551.

There were a series of kings between 1551 and 1579 till Yusuf Shah became king. Oscillating between making peace overtures and being aggressive, he submitted to Akbar’s forces in 1586. Unhappy with the treaty between his lieuftant Bhagwan Das and Yusuf, Akbar imprisoned Yusuf. His imprisonment, inspite of a promise of safe custody, is a dark blot on the character of the chivalrous Akbar. His son Yaqub continued fighting Akbar till he was defeated. After restoring the kingdom, he did not administer it well, thus compelling Akbar to have Mirza Yusuf conquer it in 1589.

The reigns of Jahangir and Shah Jahan did not see much interaction with Kashmir. During Aurangzib’s stay in Punjab in 1674-75, officials converted a large number of Hindus to Islam. In order to infuse courage in Hindus, Guru Tegh Bahadur visited East Punjab. This created confidence in the minds of people. Enthused, the Kashmiri leaders told the Guru of their plight. He advised them to inform Aurangzeb to convert the Guru first and then all of them would embrace Islam. The Guru did not convert and paid for it with his life. He was beheaded on November 11, 1675.

Literature

Not much is known about Kashmiri literature prior to the 15th century. The poetic compositions of Lalla Didi is the oldest specimen. During the reign of Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin, a number of Sanskrit, Persian and Kashmiri writers flourished but their works are not known. During the 16th century, the exquisite lyrics of Habba Khotun were very popular. The Muslim conquest of large parts of Northern India meant that places like Kashmir, once an important center of Sanskrit learning, hardly produced any noteworthy work after the end of Hindu rule.

Religion

The Qadriya school of Sufism which traces its origin to Shaikh Abdul Qadir of Gilan, who lived in Baghdad in the 8th century, was introduced during the reign of Akbar by Shaikh Abdul Haqq. One of its famous exponents was Mulla Shah of Badakshan who settled down in Kashmir. Other Sufi saints were Saiyyid Ali Hamdani and Sayyid Bilal Shah.