Prof Gulshan Majid: REWRITING HISTORY

He initiated works to identify the routes that led from Kashmir to Central Asia, also collecting ancient works or copies of them. In 2001 he also wrote a feature series on History of Kashmir for the Radio Kashmir which became very popular.
Prof Gulshan Majid: REWRITING  HISTORY
GK Photo

Ever since the history of Kashmir was brought to fore, Nagas have been termed as the original inhabitants of the land. They were termed as the ones who used to live in Kashmir even when the valley was supposedly a large lake known as Satisar. According to historians their reign came to an end after the influx of Aryans. The primitive Nagas were no match to superior and technologically advanced Aryans and the former ended up being assimilated in them.

However, off late, the local historians have been casting doubt on the very existence of Nagas. Prof Gulshan Majeed, historian and author, has been on the forefront of the theory that negate the existence of any such race. 

Prof. Gulshan Majeed (Srinagar) in his well researched paper "Nagas In Kashmir: A Myth Or Reality" rejected the presence of the Nagas in the valley of Kashmir on account of non-availability of inscriptions, manuscripts or any supportive evidence which physically could have proved the presence of Nagas in ancient Kashmir. With ample evidence that also raised stakes with the other historians, he attempted to establish that Nagas presence in ancient Kashmir was a myth.

The story of the origin on Kashmir, and its people, is given in the same Nilamata Purana and rests on the existence of the Nagas. But as per Prof. Gulshan Majeed,  there is no evidence of their presence in Kashmir. Nilamata Purana is the only literary source to suggest their existence in Kashmir. No other Purana, Mahatma or any other brahmanic writing says the same.

The abridged version of the history altering paper was also published as "No Naga Presence in Ancient Kashmir The Past Never Is", in Approaches to Kashmir Studies, eds G.M. Khawaja, Gulshan Majeed, 2011. 

"There is huge evidence that the entire Nagas being original Kashmiris is a myth. If we research into it, there seems to be a colonial mindset behind it. Whenever a foreign powers comes to occupy a nation, they label them as savages and sub-humans. The colonial powers then proclaim that we are superiors and we here to civilise them. It becomes sort of justification for occupation," said Prof Gulshan. "In case of Nagas, the same logic also seems to have played a part."

The paper received acclaim in the academic circles, although some historians were not pleased with it. Gulshan has read the paper in a number of conferences including at JNU and Cambodia.

Gulshan was born on 23 October 1947 in Qazi Mohalla, Anantnag. The literary environment came with birth as his father Lassa Khan Fida, the author of famous Gul Bakawli was an established poet at that time. The legends like  Shamas Fakir, Samad Mir, Nyaem Saheb, Rahman Dar etc would frequent his home and engage in literary discussions.

The schooling at Central School Islamabad was equally suitable as the educational institute promoted art and literature. At school Gulshan even tried his hand at Urdu poetry. It was his progressive thinking that made his different from others and perhaps not suitable for the dice desirable climate. 

The era was of political witch hunting and his family also came in the cross fire. It was raided and every written material including Guslhan's schools books, seized. This left a heavy impact on his mind. The reason was hatching conspiracy against State. The tryst with government forces continued. He was arrested for the first time when he was in class 10th. The allegation again being hatching conspiracy against the State. Inside the jail, he wondered what conspiracy did he hatch while carrying his school bag. He was released after two days and he found himself pushed towards modern progressive literature of Sardar Jaffrey, Srishan Chand and Munshi Prem Chand. 

At college levels, Gulshan became friends with fellow students Chaman Lal Kantroo and Bhushan Lal Koul, both of whom were influenced by Marxist movement and would often quote Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Sajjad Zaheer, Sardar Jaffrey and other leftists leaning writers. Shafi Shouq and Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami too joined the informal group. 

Together with Shouq, Gulshan published a Kashmiri magazine Aash in late 60's at Degree College Anantnag. It was an attempt to reclaim the literary space by the writers and poets of South Kashmir as most of them would feel to have been sidelined by their urban counterparts. The magazine did well to accomplish its mission, but the financial constraints became its roadblock and ultimately led to its demise in 1975.

It was the era of dozens of underground organisations. In 1964, Revolutionary Youth Group, inspired by Marxist ideology, was formed by M.Y Tarogami with Chaman Lal Katroo, Shafi Shoq, Gulshan Majeed as members. The group was formed for fighting for the right to self-determination. 

In his short lived political career, Gulshan became involved in an organisation which in later period went on to propagate naxalism. It was the time when certain organisations started their own separatist struggle in Kashmir. The result was that Gulshan joined the league of Kantroo, Tarigami, Ghulam Mohammed Wakil, Abdul Kabir Wani, Maharaj Das and others, who were subsequently arrested and jailed.

They were sent to Central Jail, which at that time was known as a notorious place. Drugs, torture, corruption and all kinds of illegal activities were rampant. Gulshan along like minded inmates convinced the Jailer to start educating the other jailed persons. The classes started and in-between they also gave low doses of political education to the students too. Inside the jail there were also people known as Anand Margis, who were arrested for kidnapping Kashmiri children and indoctrinating them in their philosophy. Gulshan and his friends used to have heated arguments with them.

In 1970, two more person joined them in Jail. One among them was Altaf Ahmad Khan who later became popular as Azam Inqilabi in the 90s armed insurgency. Besides reading limited number of books and discussions Gulshan also spent his time by playing chess with Mohammed Salim Beg, who later retired as DG Tourism.

On 11 January 1971, there were massive arrests in Kashmir and thousands of members of Plebiscite Front were jailed. As there was no space in jails, it led to huge commotion and heavy handedness in jail. Gulshan and his friends started hunger strike which stretched for two days. Ultimately all of them were shifted to Kathua jail.  

Most of the prisoners were released slowly, when Mir Qasim became Chief Minister after the death of G M Sadiq. After his release, Gulshan found Kashmir a little different though the political thoughts were same. "People were still struggling against the State, but they had somewhat lost hope," said Gulshan. 

For sometime Gulshan opened a kiryana shop, but his brother advised him to study further instead. Gulshan headed to Aligarh and studied Philosophy. At Aligarh there was no oppression on thoughts and this groomed Gulshan to an altogether new level. Back home he started a small journal with Late Qazi Nisar herein he covered many facets and icons of Kashmir history and society.

In the meantime he started giving classes at Kashmiri department of Kashmir University and worked besides the legendary Rahman Rahi. Later he joined as full fledged faculty at Central Asian Studies KU.

The department gave Gulshan wings to undertake vast research, connecting Kashmir with Central Asia. He went on write dozens of papers and number of books on the subject. His books include From Kashmir to Central Asia (Roads and Events), Emergence of Central Asia, Approaches to Kashmir History etc.

He initiated works to identify the routes that led from Kashmir to Central Asia, also collecting ancient works or copies of them. In 2001 he also wrote a feature series on History of Kashmir for the Radio Kashmir which became very popular. 

Gulshan even taught archeology at University and headed the research activities. He has the distinguish of being guide to four international students, two being rom Pakistan and one each from Nepal and Sri Lanka, who completed their PhDs in Kashmir University. From Kashmir the PhD and MPhil scholars having benefited from Gulshan are in dozens  and spread across disciplines as varied as medicine and political science.

Gulshan is a versatile scholar, whose interests go beyond history. He is termed as one of the most prolific short story writers. Columnist Mohammed Maroof Shah writes about him, "there are to stories of Gulshan Majeed, one of our most gifted writers who has of late chosen silence. One is "Short Story" that tells story of a lost shoe in such a hilarious manner that one can hardly enjoy it in translation. Gulshan has argued in his well crafted and insightful critical essays regarding the key importance of form or attention to language and he himself uses it so dexterously to create magic. Another story "He" portrays, in his characteristic manner, a a character that is specifically Kashmiri and now missing. Majeed is a philosopher of the ordinary and the last thing he would allow is judging character in terms of this or that ideology."

From short stories to translations to criticisms, to history, culture, Gulshan has written dozens of books. Some are in print. His famous collection of short stories Tang Dolmut Bar (Unhinged door) is again being published in coming months. 

Gulshan remained Director Centre for Central Asian Studies (CCAS) Kashmir University from 2001 to 2004. Ancient Iranian Society Through Zoroastrian Literature, Aspects of Folklore with Special Reference to Kashmir, The history of Medieval Kashmir Jonaraja and Shrivara and others open new avenues of research. Surrounded by hundreds of books at his home, Gulshan has never stopped working and will continue to produce path breaking research and books in the years to come.

"There is a lot of misconception in our knowledge. Even Islam came to us to clear misconceptions and superstitions, but we still are yet to come out of them. I have been trying to clear these misconceptions and bring the clear picture," said Majeed.

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