Rediscovering India

LEAF FROM HISTORY

REVISITING THE ERA WHEN INDIA ITSELF WAS A PART OF A KINGDOM CALLED KASHMIR,WRITES ER. MUHAMMAD ASHRAF FAZILI

It was in the 8th century AD during 695 to 732 AD, when King Lalitaditya of Kashmir brought almost the whole of India under his domain. The 4th Taranga of Rajtarangini describes the adventures of Lalitaditya of Kashmir. He was the 5th King of Karkota (Naga) dynasty (695-857 AD) and Lalitaditya ruled for almost 37 years from 695 to 732 AD. It is this king who is mentioned in the legend of Kerala as ‘ Parsurama’, which word might be shortened form of ‘Parihaspura’ or ‘Parihasakeshwa’.
Lalitaditya spent the later part of his reigning period trying to bring India under his control and the triumphant marched through India with all the fighting gears. He first brought the states neighboring to Kashmir under his control. He captured whole of Punjab within a few days and entered Delhi. From there he invaded Kanauj but unexpectedly Raja Bashodam, the king of Kanauj resisted the attack and there ensued a bloody battle. Raja Bashodam surrendered and appealed for truce, which was agreed to and after fixing a small tribute his kingdom was restored to him.Next he invaded Godres and trampling the whole area under his feet reached Kalka and captured the city of Kalank. From here he turned to Bihar. The king of Bihar laid down his arms and came forward for peace. Staying there for a few days next he turned his attention towards Bengal. Many bloody battles were fought and Lalitaditya always won. The king of Bengal also prayed for peace which was granted to him as a good strategy. He went to the pilgrimage to Jagan nath ji temple and distributed much wealth among the priests there. He prayed for the forgiveness of the past atrocities and plunder and began to think of further strategies. Now he turned towards Deccan. He conquered Nanak Des and some other areas and befriended the kings and restored their countries to them. Those days Queen Ratta was ruling over some areas of Deccan. When Lalitaditya reached near her territory, ha as usual began to interfere with her territories. The brave queen was enraged and at once organized her army, donned men’s wear and repulsed the invasion. She gave such a fight that the king was put to a great trouble. He forgot all his earlier conquests. The war continued for a long time. But the stars of Lalita Dut were in his favor and in spite of great struggle she could not win and in the end she too had to bow before him. Lalita Dut praised the velour of Queen Ratta and restored her to her country, made a truce and went ahead. After this confrontation no Deccan king dared the King of Kashmir, who trampled all areas on his way and reached the Kaveri. At this place Raja Lalit Dut sipped coconut water and also distributed among his soldiers. This relieved them of their fatigue. They regained strength and after taking rest for a few days invaded Karnata (karnatka), Konkan territories,comprising of the seven tracts  including  Kerala (Malabar), Goa, Konkan proper etc and also conquered  Lanka. The history of Cheranad (Malabar) gets somewhat known only from the 8th century, when Lalita Dut of Kashmir staged the procession on elephants back from Gokana to Kanyakumari. The king is featured as the ‘Parasurama’ in ‘Keralapathi’ written in 18th  or 19th century The account of Parsurama in the Kerala history is stated as under:
Parsurama threw his axe over the sea from Gokana (Goa). It reached upto the Cape and the water receded from the region exposing the land. This reclaimed land is still called Parsurama-Kshetra. Then Parsurama brought out 64 priestly Brahmin (Nambudiri) families from the North along the shores of tulunad, settled them in Kerala and founded his own religious sect.
According to the Keralopathi, Adiraja Perumal, Pandi Perumal and Cheruman Perumal had ruled Kerala (Cheranad). The Perumals were succeeded by the Kulasekhara Varma dynasty. Both the Perumals and Kulasekhara varmas ruled Kerala with the capital at Mahodayapuram from the last years of the 8th century to early 11th century AD. The extracts from the history of Kerala compared with the history of Kashmir from 8th century to 11th century AD lead us to the inference that the rulers in both these dynasties were deputed from Kashmir to govern Kerala.
Rajtarangini states that Lalita Dut the ‘king of Kashmir and monarch of India’ had returned after his triumphant march through the 7 tracts of Konkan and sent gate-keepers (dwarapalakars) to put up a temple at Mahodayapura, in the same architectural beauty as that of the Martanda temple in Kashmir built by him. The chief of the dwrapalakars installed Lord Mahodaya (Subhramani) there. This is clear from the history of Avantivarman of Kashmir as given in Rajtarangini (5th Taranga verses 28-29, that Avantivarman had sent Ramata as a preacher to Mahodaya (locally known as Mahodyapuram) because the capital of Chera (Sura) Nad in the days of Cheruman Perumals, elected by the 64 royal gate keepers (dwarapalakas) sent from Kashmir and continued to be the capital of Cheranad after the formation of the 2nd Chera empire by Kulasekhara varmans in the 9th century till it was destroyed by the Chola invasion in the 11th century.
The no. 64 has great significance in the history of Kerala. They- the royal gate keepers represented the 64 temples that existed in Kashmir (confirmed in verse 169 of the 5th Taranga).  Lalita Dut would have sent 64 royal gate-keepers, representing the 64 temples in kashmir, to Mahodaya in Cheranad. The statues of the 64 dwarakapalakas can still be seen arranged in the Subramani Swami temple at Trichendur, in Trinnelveli district of Tamil Nadu. Formerly this place was a part of Cheranad (Kerala). The place name was changed from Mahadayapuram to Tiruchendur by the Cholas after destroying the Cheranad capital in the 11th century. (The author has been to the historic site in 1963 while on a survey camp during his study of degree engineering in Annamalai University South India)
The chief of these dwarapalakas was elected as the first Perumal who ruled Cheranad for 12 years. He too was the head of the dwarapalakas, who installed the Mahodaya Swamin in Mahodaya temple. The successor either appointed or elected was Pandi Perumal. He must have been the chief royal guard of Martand temple in Kashmir too. Because Kashmiris call the Martanda temple ‘Pandavlari’ (temple built by Pandavas). There is a tribe in Kashmir known as ‘Kishtwaris’ predominantly agriculturists. They were considered as Dravidians migrated from South India/ Kathiaward. Were they the people deported from Pandiyanad by Lalita Dut for the construction of Martand temple in Kashmir? A statue of ‘Kannaki’ in a remote village in Jammu was venerated by the dravidians as the symbol of charity in Chera, Chola and Pandiya Nada of South India. The chief priest of the remote temple was Nambudiri from Kerala, a descendant of the gate-keepers sent from Kashmir by Lalita Dut the king of Kashmir and the Nambudiris from Kerala were generally appointed as head priests in the majority  of the temples in Jammu region by the Dogra dynasty.
After the rule of Pandi Perumal and other Perumals the famous CHERUMAN PERUMAL ruled Cheranad for 36 years. Afterwards he divided the Cheranad into 63 smaller units, entrusted them to the remaining royal gate-keepers and himself went to Makkah , Where he along with his companions embraced Islam on the august hands of the Prophet Muhammad (PBH).( It is said that he had been witness to the miracle of the prophet seeing moon getting cut in to two parts and then rejoining) ,On his return journey to Cheranad he died at Zaffala ( on the shore of Oman Gulf) in 832 AD. This shows that a little more than 100 years, the Perumals ruled the Cheranad with their pagoda in the city of Mahadayapuram, the capital. After the  cheruman perumal’s rule, the Kulasekhara Varmas succeeded them. At this period Avantivarman of Utpala dynasty was the king of Kashmir, who ruled from 867 to 884 AD. Dinnaras currency prevalent in Kashmir then was used in Kerala (Cheranad) also at that time. The oldes coins of Kerala known as Parasurama Rassi is the Kashmir Dinnaras. It is seen recorded in the earliest discovered copper edict, the Vazhapally Chart granted by the first king Rajasekhara varma of Kulasekhara dynasty.

The Kashmir Scenario:
Al-Beruni writes that Hinduism was not strong in Kashmir in the 11th century. But the existence of ‘Shardapeth’ confirms the existence of Saivites there before that. Also because Rajtarangni of Kalhana opens with the praise: ‘Aum-Hail to Sri Ganesa’ (salutation to the Guru of Manichaens) and then praises Siva, it has to be inferred that the people of Kashmir had recognized Saivism also.
Manichaeism became powerful in Kashmir during the reign of Durlabhavardhana (632-682). It was Lalita Dut who with conditions favorable for the growth of Saivism in kashmir,raised a temple for the Sun god- the famous Martanda temple in Kashmir. The custodians of the temple were the white Huns (naphalites-one of the lost tribes of Israel) who migrated to kerala as Nambudiris.
Just as Manichaeism and Saivism prevailed and separated into two distinct religions in Kashmir, there were divisions in Kerala among the dwarapalakas. Before the last Cheruman Perumal went to Makkah , he subdivides the Cherand into 63 villages or units and gave them out to the other dwarapalakas or his subordinates. Of those units , 32 settled to the north of Alwaye river (in Ernakulam district of Kerala state) where the Nabudiris followed saivism (generally called as belonging to ‘Surya Vansa’ or worshippers of the Sun god). They elected the ruler of Kolathiri (Kavilathikari) as their chief. Ibni-Batuta mentions in the travelogue about Kilatniri as ‘Kawlan’ (as shortened form of \Kavalgam’ (Pagoda) of the ruling king), with the capital city of Manjuran (Manjeswaram). He says : ‘The king in this place is the greatest of the kings in Malabar, and in it are about 4000 Muslim merchants from Persia,Yemen,Arabia etc.
The 31 units of dwarapalakas who settled to the south of the river Alwaye, retained Manichaean belief and they belong to the group of ‘Soma vamsa’ or worshippers of the Moon god. They maintained their headquarters at Mahodayapura till the 100 years Chera-Chola war of the 20th century. With the Chola invasion in 1012 AD, their dispensation in Cheranad floundered.In this set up Hiduism came to prominence in Kerala. Cheranad got broken up in to bits controlled by local chieftains.

Shree Sankara of Shardapeeth:
It is believed that Sree Sankara the profound preacher of Monism (Saivism) belonged to Kashmir. He was the person who expounded the simple monistic thery to counter the dualistic theory of Manichaetsm. His proficiency in Sanskrit supports the theory of his training in Kashmir at ‘Shardapeeth’ in his younger days. There is no reason to believe that such a versatile Sanskrit scolar of the 9th century was brought up in Kerala. May be Sree Sankara was the father of Malayalam language- its creator. The folk language of Kashmir ‘Sharda’ would have travelled down to Kerala with Sree Sankara. Kashmiri and later combining with Tamil might have produced Malayalam Language.
All the higher castes in Kerala, we see now are the progeny of settlers from different parts of Asia, especially from Kashmir and West Asia. Nambudris and Nairs from Kashmir, St Thomas Christians from Persia and Arabian gulf shores, so also jews, merchants from Armenia (originally of Manichaean community) and Wzhavas from Sri Lanka (Lavanganad), all migrated in the 9th century AD and after Islam came to prominence in Malabar only after the invasion by Hyder Ali and his reputed son Tipu Sultan of Mysore at the end of 18th century.
Before the Dogra dynasty came to power in Kashmir, there were numerous independent villages in Kashmir valley. One very curious feature of these tiny villages was that the form of government was republican and that the principle of ‘Home- Rule’ has been carried to the extreme limit in these villages. A village parliament managed all the internal affairs of the village. But questions of general policy were settled by the State parliament to which each village sent its representative.
The same form of ‘Home-Rule’ was prevalent on Cheranad (Kerala) during the reign of Perumals and Varmas- sent from Kashmir. These village parliaments were known as ‘Sangams’ (Nattukoottams) on the basis of Charts given to these West Asian emigrants, such as ‘Anjuvannam’ of the jews; ‘Manigramam’ of the Armenian merchants and ‘Taripalli’ of the St. Thomas Christians. These three important Sangams were formed on the basis of Charts issued and privileges granted by the kings of Kalasekhara Varma dynasty of 9th century AD.
It is quite likely that Lalita Dut would have sent some Nayanars (Nairs) along with the 64 Nambudiri families. The artisans of the Nair group were experts in carpentery, rock-cutting and metal smelting. It is they Who constructed the Tiruchendur  Mahodayapura swamin temple in Cheranad. The temples at Martanda and Mahadayapura could have been built only by expert artisans with the help of cheap Dravidian labourers. This might have led the interchange of settling Kashmir Nairs in Kerala and Dravidians from South India in Kashmir.
The Nairs in Kerala are ‘Naga’ worshippers. The worship of ‘Nagas’ (serpents) is a festival still observed in some parts of Kashmir valley, especially in Bhadarwah anf Kishtwar regions in the month of Chaitra. Sankrant of the beginning of a month (in Bikrami era) is regarded sacred day of Kashmiri Hindus. In Kerala too  the above two festivals are observed with enthusiasm by the Nair community. The springs in Kashmir are called ‘Nags’ like Anant Nag, Veri Nag,Shesh Nag, Nara Nag, Neel Nag etc. and temples were erected near many springs, believing that Nag Devtas were custodians of these springs. Many stories are weaved around these Nag Devtas living underground beneath the beds of these springs.
The matriarchal lineage and polyandry systems adopted by Nairs in Kerala had its origin from   Kashmir. Devdasi systems prevalent  in the Kashmir temples from Asoka’s time was practiced in the temples of Kerala, till it was abolished  during the British period  (1785-1947 AD)
A more important finding of these studies is that the cultural bond and affinity of Kerala with Kashmir are very much more thanwith the adjoining Tamilnadu and Karnatka State in South India. Drawing up a skeleton of the cultural bond and affinity between Kashmir and Kerala attempted here, it is possible that a close study of the ancient contact and relations between the two states will bring to light much additional material of great historic value.
With the advent of Islam, its introduction to both these states has been very much during the time of the Prophet Mohammad (PBH). Two emissaries (Sahaba-companions of the Prohet PBH) are reported to have come to Kashmir and the Raja Vana Dutta was deeply moved, whereupon he lead a very simple life and even distributed one tenth of his agricultural produce amongst the poor and needy as ‘ushur’- (Islam in Kashmir by prof. Mohi-ud-din; Murasala Kashmir Panidtan Lucknow, 1872 AD)
It is during the Prophets time that Cheruman Perumal while observing sky saw the miracle of moon splitting and rejoining. On which he came to know through Arab traders that their Prophet (PBH) in Makkah had performed this miracle. As recorded in the history, the king Cheruman Perumal met the Prophet  (PBH) on 27th Shawal at 9 AM. The king fell at the feet of the Holy Prophet (PBH). The Prophet (PBH) lifted him up, he embraced Islam, took the king to his home and entertained him well. The Holy Prophet himself converted the king and his companions to Islam. Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq (RA) who was present on the occasion, enquired about the guest. The Holy Prophet (PBH) said that he is the king of the place from where ginger and pepper came. ‘Firdaysal Hikmat’ by Thabur mentions that Cheruman Perumal lived with the Prophet (PBH) for 17 days. Hakim in Mustadriq (4:30) states that an Indian king presented a jar of ginger (Morabba) to the Holy Prophet (PBH) who distributed it among his disciples. A rare manuscript from the Arrakal Palace in Kerala states: ‘ I will keep the word (of kingship) till my uncle, who has gone to Makkah , returns’
In the Hindu religious festival (Theyyam) also this story is narrated, ‘Cheruman Perumal sailed fromKodangallur secretly and on reaching Dharampatanam, the next day he entrusted the Kavilakam (Royal Palace) to zamurin. His followers also sailed from Kodangallur. The Prophet Muhammad (PBH) was staying in Jadda. He went there and converted to Islam, took the new name as ‘Tajuddin’ with the seal of Perumal eleven Thangals (Sayids) came to Kadangullar and with the permission of the king, Medal Mosque, Abduk-Rahman Mosque, Muttath Mosque, Panthalamani Mosque, Shahab-ud-din m-Mosque- in all eleven Mosques were constructed.
In his book ‘Karthikodayam’, C.V. Kunjiraman writes: He (Cheruman Perumal) accepted Islam and went to Makkah . Before going to Makkah  on Karakadskan (June-July)23rd at Kodiyathur Inuvanchikulam Siva temple, he divided Keralam into different parts which he distributed to his nephews and dependents. This happened 1400 years ago. It is after this Panthalam, Kotharakara, Quilon, Cochin royalties came into existence. Cheruman Perumal became sick just before he was about to return to India. So he requested ‘Malik Bin Dinar’ to come to Kerala and spread Islam. He wrote letters to different kings of Kerala and entrusted them to malik bin dinar and his group. According to C.N.Ahmed Moulavi, Perumal died in Shehr Mukhalla and was buried there. Malik bi dinar, Sharaf bin Malik,Malik bin habib bin Malik,wife Kumeria,and others – a total of 44 persons reached Kerala, 20 of them knew Holy quran by heart. Malik bin Dinar was allowed to construct mosque at Kodangullar. This was the first mosque constructed anywhere in India. They gave the letters to different kings in Kerala and constructed mosques at Quilon, Kazargode, Mangalore and Pakkanore. The name of the first Qazi of the 18 mosques in India are mentioned in ‘Rahatul Maluk’ by Suhrawardi.
Islam grew peacefully and steadily. The first eight centuries of Mupilla growth following the establishment of Islam in Kerala were marked by a calm forward movement. The peaceful contact and development stands in shear contrast to the progress of Islam in North India 9with Kashmir being an exception)
Mutual economic interest and religious tolerance contributed to the growth. The increase in the population was due to immigration, inter-marriages and direct conversion. This process continued till the Portuguese arrived in the Malabar Coast and European interference started in India in the 12th century AD. with the suppression of Muslims till 18th century AD.
Turning back to the conquests of Lalita Dut in the South India and after conquering Sangaldweep (Sarandeep)  islands (Sri Lanka), Lalita Dut turned towards the west. He plundered Bombay and collected huge wealth and conquered Kangan Des. From there he subjugated Malwa. God’s grace was with him and wherever he went success greeted him. He trampled the whole country and yet he escaped unhurt. When God graces some one He creates qualities in him which become reasons for his success. He respected learned men, statesmen, and artists and would keep their company. Where ever he went he searched for statesmen and learned people and appointed them on responsible posts. In his previous he had gathered many artisans and statesmen all of whom were unique in their respective fields. He found a man Jankan by name. who was proficient in Arabic and Persian and was considered the crown of them all. He was originally from Bukhara and had mastery over alchemy. When Lalita Dut saw his unique qualities he appointed him minister and included him among his special adsvisors. Next he captured Ujjain and Dwarika. From there he invaded Gujrat and subjugated the king and went to Bhakar.But here he met a tough resistance. The cool atmosphere of Kabul after crossing Attak attracted him and since the conquests of Lalita Dut had been known all over the world, the king of Afghanistan submitted as soon as the former entered his country. Thereafter he turned his attention to Bukhara,, where Momin the ruler put a tough resistance but had to surrender in the long run. The unique swordsmanship of Lalita Dut became talk of the town in Central Asia also. All the kings and rulers were terrorized. The brave king conquered Samarqand, Tashkand, Khokand, Kashghar, Khatan, Khata and Khurasan in battles and by strategy and brought innumerable wealth and returned to Kashmir via Tibet in 729 AD after 12 years. On reaching Kashmir he offered eleven crore dinars to Mahadev Swami Temple. In this expedition he had restored all the countries to their respective rulers but retained Lahore and Jalandhar. He sent officers from this place to administer these places. After a few days he held a public function and rewarded his companions and ministers who had stood by him throughout the conquests. He gave them estates and gifts in compensation of their services. Al-Beruni says that the victory of Lalita Dut was celebrated in Kashmir every year as an annual festival.
Next he turned towards the welfare of the public. He founded many villages, temples, hospitals, inns, for his people. He did his best for the welfare of the cultivators and devised ways and means for their benefit, which hold good to this day. He founded Lalitapur now known as Letapura after his name. There he built a novel sun temple and earmarked the whole revenue from  Kanauj for its maintenance. In the same manner he built Parihas Keshaw temple at Parihaspur. He set up a pillar of stone fifty yards long in its courtyard. He also built a unique temple of Mukta Keshaw at village Divar. The temple surpasses  all the temples built by Lalita Dut. Eighty four thousand tollas of gold were used on its dome. Eighty four thousand tolas of gold and silver of the Buddha were placed in these twin temples for worship. In addition to these Raja Lalita Dut spent much money on the repairs of old temples also. He built the temple of Zishtishwar situated at Shankaracharya Hill (Sulaiman). He repaired the Martandishwar Temple at Mattan. A strong fore wall was constructed around it for its safety. During his reign a temple was found from under the earth at village Sher Daron. The inscription on its door said that it was built by Sri Ram Chander and Lachman Ji. Raja Lalita Dut spent much money on the restoration of this ancient monument also. During his conquests he had built a grand temple of Narsing Avtar at Turkistan also. Rani Chakravarti , the queen of Lalita Dut also found a village Chakrapora after herself.. The village is now called Chakar Baster Pora. From constructions he turned his attention to irrigation. He restored old canals and affected a code of distribution of water and made the country fertile. He had made a free kitchen for the people, where a  cauldron was so big that food for one thousand people could be cooked in it. One lakh people ate food from the kitchen every day. In short whatever money he gathered from places, he spent all on such charitable work. Maharaja Lalita Dut was a just courageous, brave, caring for his subjects, sincere and a first rate person. But as is said that man is a combination of faults and forget fulness. He too had two failings that brought bad name to him. He suffered for these as well. First he issued silly orders in intoxication and he would not keep his word. He had brought Guru the king of Bengal with him to Kashmir with great promises. Here he recalled the bloody battles and got him murdered for these. He did the same with Raja of Gord Des. Their well-wishers always sought opportunities to avenge them. Finding an opportunity they came to Kashmir and murdered many a dignitary here. They plundered the temples at Parihaspur and malta Keshaw and set Rammchandr’s old temple on fire. They had escaped after great plunder and loot, when the king came to know of it.
After setting the administration right Raja Lalita Dut raised an army and marched towards India once again. He promulgated new settlement rules in this country also and then set out for Turkestan. He had removed all impediments earlier and this time he trampled the whole of Central Asia (Istri Raj) and reached Siberia (Russia). He liked the climate of this place so much that he forgot to return. After waiting for a long time the dignitaries of the country sent a petition to the king saying that he had spent much time in conquests and that it would be befitting his royal dignity to grace them with his presence once again. In response Lalita Dut wrote back that the northern countries were very attractive and alluring. Whatever he had conquered so far had not satisfied his inner urge, he wrote.He said that he did not want to waste time in Kashmir. He further said that he had two sons , Kolia Pid, Wazra Dut, whichever they thought fit should be made king in his plce. He further enjoined upon them to tell his grand-son Jia Pid to try to match him. For his successors he gave some suggestions and asked them to understand these very keenly. After this nothing is recorded  in the history of Kashmir about this king because he spent rest of his life in the North. After some time the king returned through Tibet but at Arbamuck Mountains called Deva Sui now, he got buried under snow along with his army and men and thus was he obliterated from this world.

(Feedback at ‪<shahishaharyar@gmail.com)
(Er
. Muhammad Ashraf Fazili (FIE) is Retd. Chief Engineer PWD J&K State)

Lastupdate on : Fri, 29 Jul 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 29 Jul 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 30 Jul 2011 00:00:00 IST




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