The Forgotten Roots

The journey of religious and pious relics has been full of sacrifices and never without purpose.
The Forgotten Roots

The sight of the holy relic at the Hazratbal in Srinagar is a much revered and desired wish of the entire community. The holy relic, the Sufis, the saints, the pious noble men and women of Kashmir have a unique and distinct story of their own. The routes of their origin and the destination of their travel reflect the intent of the journey and the divine purpose at play, only if one ponders. They were global citizens not chained by the love of their region or land. The seeds of globalisation were first sown when these holy men moved to and fro, to bring home the religion of a far land. Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism or name any faith spread not by swords or arms but with the wholehearted acceptance of the natives of the land. The Europeans set out to conquer lands and colonize the world with their trading posts. The middle East had already conquered the hearts of people in unknown foreign lands a thousand years earlier. The British rule ended and the colonial masters vanished from the sub-continent. But the Sufis who had ventured to conquer the world with love and humanity still rule the hearts of people all over the world. After all Kingdoms are born in the hearts of people.

Alongwith the different sects came their respective holy books, relics, symbols. Theholy relic of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is the object of remembrance. The worldacknowledges the existence of the most powerful, influential and piouspersonality of the Middle East. But this relic was brought to Kashmir froma place called Bijapur in Karnataka. One story as narrated by the south Indiansbeing that a Kashmiri businessman bought it to the valley from a descendent ofthe Prophet from Medina. But he was stopped by the Mughal king Aurangzeb inDelhi on the way to Kashmir. By the time Aurangzeb realised that the holy relicwas destined to reach where it is today, the Kashmiri businessman had passedaway. Aurangzeb had then very respectfully sent the holy relic to its divinelydestined place of the valley. The family of the businessman took over thecharge of its inheritance and have been its caretakers since then. The journeyof religious and pious relics has been full of sacrifices and never withoutpurpose. The great Sufi Shah Hamdan Ali gave Kashmir the powerful prayer or Duaof aurad-e- fatiha. When one reads the prayer with purity of heart and mind, heor she is left with tears. The journey from Hamdan to Srinagar must have notbeen without obstacles nor a bed of roses. But the grace of Sufism is felt evento this day. The enlightenment and spiritual fragrance of the Sufi era isstill fresh because of the influence of the great auras of the revered menand women of the valley. Even though in short intervals of material modernLife, the thoughts of righteousness and values come as a flash from thesubconscious. This is when the long journeys undertaken by all those Noblesouls centuries ago stand accomplished in intent and purpose. The ideas ofSelf-purification, love and service to humanity needed no label of anyparticular religion. Call them Sufis, Bakti saints, Auliyah, Rishis or Gurus.They believed in universal human rights long before the term was coined. Theywere far ahead of times and possessed knowledge much beyond science of today.The heart, mind and soul yearns only for peace. Pleasantness of all three makesthe physical and the intellect of man truly happy and healthy. Be it LallaDed or Habba Khatun, everyone is familiar with their deep faith and spiritualrichness. But a very few know about saint Renuka Devi of Kashmir who travelleddown south to Karnataka. She was a wandering saint and reached the banks ofriver Mallaprabha tributary of river Krishna. Later Renuka Devi married thegreat sage Jamadagni Rishi and gave birth to the greatest sage of the timesRishi Parashuram. This was ancient India even before the age of the great kingRam. This Kashmir connection with the south India since the ancient times is anunknown fact. Also the shifting of the holy relic in the medieval period is notknown by many. The journeys were long, and well-intended for apurpose. The purpose being human love, tolerance, acceptance,righteousness and piety. Kashmir culture was borne out of these principles.These virtues graced everyday life of people. It became a cradle ofcivilisations as different faiths flourished on its soil. The soul of Kashmirisociety was pure, the social fabric was interwoven with diversity and theheterogeneity of races and castes was the order of the day. The power to graspthe essence of different faiths came from the inherent ability of the Kashmirisociety to enquire, reason and accept the truth.  The deep intellectualcapacity of the thriving civilisation enabled them to absorb and assimilate thepious Sufi way of life. What an individual practiced silently was spiritualismand what he practiced collectively was religion. It was graceful acceptance ofthe essence of the Divine cosmos. Then came the Rulers with benevolence,farsightedness and prosperity. There were periods of brutal dominance ofmonarchs who considered the valley to be their source of entertainment andmaterial gain

Thegenerations that followed suffered at the hands of ruling or political masters.And the values of Sufism vanished in the mist of the valley. I see the commonman tired of the decades old conflict often honks louder at the trafficespecially when stuck in the jam. There is a certain agitation, irritation andgrowing intolerance in the public at large. This general apathy is unseen inother states. There is a general mistrust growing in the society. The agencies,external forces and subscribers to different ideologues have divided thesociety. Moreover, the constantly guarding army has sapped the feeling of beingfree in the free country. This erodes confidence andenthusiasm in life. When the society's social integrity is disturbed, it iseasy to manipulate the masses especially the youth according to the interestsof the stakeholders.  The land of Sufis has been dragged in the undesiredwar. The effects of the disturbed life are visible in the common lot. Thisharsh winter of life in Kashmir seems unending. Loss of peace has torn thevalley into pieces. The society is internally fragmented and external enemies aremany. 

Istrongly believe that the values of Sufism can revive the mutual acceptance andlove. This mean spirited intolerance, class bias and political divisions needto be rooted out. Let's take a single virtue of Sufi philosophy of accepting.Accepting the situation, accepting the differences of opinion or accepting thatthe fight for self-purification is far higher than for land or territory. Theacceptance of lack of integrity in the political and social life in the valley.All those leaders who stand up to lead the masses must not essentially forgetthat mutual hatred, disrespect and lack of diplomacy is doing more harm to theinternal socio cultural fabric of the society. Collaboration is another way toget out of this mess. Collaboration with traders' guild, business houses,corporations, educational institutions, private players and global partners canbe a possible solution to break the deadlock of chaos. For this the societyneeds to cooperate, extend its hand for association, trust and grow beyond regionalaffinity. Also the outside collaborators must not hesitate to reciprocate interms of cooperation and reap the benefits of engaging from an untappedresourceful region. The great philanthropists of today must have learnt the artof caring and sharing long before in life. The basics of team effort,entrepreneurship and success are rooted in simple virtues of life. These smallvirtues of caring, sharing, righteousness that emanate from a strong characterare nurtured since childhood. We know times are not in favour of the common lotbut in the meantime the society needs to build on its lost integrity and henceneeds to strengthen its capabilities. To be truly credible and resourceful theprocess of thinking needs change. The society needs to revive the values of therich spiritual heritage in practice.

Theauthor is Karnataka origin settled in Kashmir.

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