Stones Told Me Stories
The stories I am narrating decades after
NOSTALGIA BY ZGM
Stones came to life! I very vividly remember during soonth- in wee hours I and my buddies almost every day in wee hours went up Koh-a-Maran, the legendary hillock barely a kilo meter from my house. Going uphill this hillock had its own romance. The massive brownish boulders that frighteningly looked about to roll down unfolded like epics telling tales of the glorious past of our land.
Then I had not heard of the legend around which our history has been weaved- I had not heard people looking for David’s star in these boulder to tell me that we were the lost tribe of Israel that had taken an arduous journey through seas, deserts and dense forests and settled down in these salubrious vales and dales of this land. I often got curious on seeing big boulders painted in yellowish and red and it never crossed my mind they were images of pantheon of gods and goddesses. I did see yellow and crimson turbaned men and women draped in colored pherens showering flower petals on these boulders and sometimes emptying jugs of milk or water on these boulders…. I loved watching these scenes- but it was not these that set my imagination wild, I remember after journey from my home I reached near the shrine of great aborigine saint Baha-ud-Din Ganj Baksh the massive stone slabs serving as retaining wall of the graveyard in its precincts came to life turned into narrator in the tradition of our Dastangoos. These huge polished stones, with engraving on some of them sharpened my imagination and recreated a whole history before me- the big mansions and palaces that might have been dominating the skyline, the galloping horses that might have raised the dust blanketing the sun from earth, the wretched humans with their bones distinctly visible from their flesh-less frail structures that might have been whipped to carry these gigantic slabs during those murky and gloomy days of human history.
These animated stones like great orators articulate very loudly the stories about the Buddhist period of our history, when scholars of Mahayana philosophy were much sought after and Buddhists monks and scholars from China and Tibet visited my land to learn from Kashmiri scholars about a religion born in Gaya. These slabs reminded me of the Hindu period- when not polytheism but monotheism as taught by Trika Shaivites had resonated in its lanes.
Every mohalla is reminiscent of the scholars that were cradled in this my birth burg. The mere mention of names of some ‘Mohallas Qutain-Din Pora, Shahampora, Peer Haji Mohammad Sahib, Mir Mohalla Malarata would remind any ordinary student of history of the great seminaries that once dominated this area and attracted scholars from Persia, Central Asia, Afghanistan, Tibet and China to learn from the great scholars.
In my childhood my birthplace was cosmopolitan in literal sense. Majority of the inhabitants of this place were aborigine but it also had its share of the ‘elites’ with their roots in Arabia, Persia and many Central Asian states. Notwithstanding Hazrat Mir Syed Ali Hamamdani having forged the aborigines and the elites into the common fold of Islam, but many remained tethered to their roots by suffixes names of places of their origin to their names.
It were not only the big slabs in the retaining of this elite graveyard but the massive tombstones carrying inscription in two great languages Sanskrit and Arabic that told me the story about syncretism of cultures. And how casteism had dissolved into the pages of history- the Bhats, the Rathers and the Dars of the Hindu period had merged into one class. Over a period of time this class of people after having embraced the new faith had by and large lost pelf, power and authority. The authority by and large vested with the aliens. However, the aborigines, who claimed to be the pure Aryan and had retained their ancestral faith continued to be key players in power politics during the period of the Sultan’s, the Moughal’s, the Afghans, the Sikhs and the Dogra’s.
In soonth the first persons to pace through the streets of my birth burg on way to Koh-a-Maran were men, women mostly old and middle aged Kashmiri Hindu. Many times as I have earlier also written it was the humming of Kashmiri hymns by them on way to parabat, as the temples on the foothill of Hariparbat fort were known that waked me up. Many times I would watch these pandits and pandatanies through latticed windows. Like us the boys and girls from this community during examinations and after examination would join their elders for at morning for praying in temples nestled the bosom of the hillock. I felt a great thrill when I would see my classmates with their eyes shut standing before big painted boulder and murmuring something- perhaps praying for good score in examination.
It always makes me feel proud when I saw them talking a hundred eighty degree round and bowing at ninety degree in obeisance at Khawaja Bazar chowk before departing to their homes. I never understood why they had chosen crossing of my mohalla for performing this ritual but it made me believe that our mohalla was sacred and it was sanctimonious.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Mar 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 Mar 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 Mar 2011 00:00:00 IST
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