Updated: Apr 24, 2021
A soldier serving in Kashmir valley is enthralled by his experience of rich heritage of Kashmiriyat. He is mesmerized when he discovers that its Kashmir that taught the world how people of distinct religion and beliefs can coexist with such profound mutual love and respect. No wonder, Pakistan is not comfortable with such idea of peaceful Sufi Kashmir and thereby forcing Wahhabism.
Can I have some boiled eggs please? I asked my langar cook. No came a firm reply. The answer opened up a new window for me to gaze through.
"It is Thursday" said the jawan firmly, "Being Peer Baba day and you can’t have non veg today".
Our paltan was posted recently into the North Kashmir and this was the first time I came to North. Since troops in our unit are from Northern regions so our Sarv Dharam Sthal had never had a green flag but another day I spotted a green flag over our Sarv Dhram Sthal along with a saffron flag (Sikh) and a red flag (Hindu) at our company's Sarv Dhram Sthal. It seemed to me like an interesting topic and I started researching about this.
After talking here and there I found out that in our coy handing taking over with the releiving unit Peer Baba was too handed over to us. Call it luck, we had two Peer Baba shrines in our company area. The clear instructions which were passed to my company Subedar were No non-veg were allowed on Thursday which was believed to be Peer Baba’s day. Parshad in form of halwa was to be offered and distributed to everyone.
A special feast for the villagers was also to be arranged every year to celebrate an occasion at the shrine once a year. To my astonishment I saw all these instructions followed like the SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) we lay in our unit for operational purposes till today without fail. Out of curiosity, I thought of finding out the genesis of the religion and the traditions of Sufism.
History of Sufism
King Ashoka, of Maurya dynasty conquered Kashmir in about 250 BC and founded pre historic city of Srinagri (now Srinagar) and introduced Buddhism in Kashmir. During era of Muslim rulers massive war of terror was unleashed against Kashmiri Pandits, breaking temples and massacring Kashmir Pandits which continued for five centuries.
The brahmanical social domination coupled with unsteady economic order in Kashmir Valley created room for Sufism. One of the earliest Sufis in Kashmir is said to have been from Turkistan belonging to Suharwadi order in the 13 th century. The next Sufi to enter Kashmir in 14th Century with his 700 disciples was Iranian saint, Mir Sayyed Ali Hamadani whose disciples settled in various parts of Kashmir and spread Kubrawi Sufi Order. He was a scholar who was credited with the convertion of 37,000 people to Islam with his charisma under the rule of Sultan Qutub-Ud-Din Unlike the saints of mainland India, instead of criticizing Hinduism he affirmed his relations with both, promoting universal language of love and peaceful co- existence.
Sufism is a mystic sect of Islam. Sufism is a path of spiritual advancements and expansion of consciousness leading to awareness of self and universe. Substance of Sufism is selfless experiencing and actualization of truth. Some Sufis preach on renouncing the world and some on worldly involvement. Sufism stressed upon universal values of peace, harmony, love and fraternity between all creatures of God, irrespective of a particular religion.
Effect of Sufism on Kashmiriyat
Kashmiris used the Hindu epithets Rishi or Baba to describe these Sufi saints. People of Kashmir initially started to convert to Islam under influence of peaceful Sufis before forceful means. Kashmiri Pandits and Muslims were indubitably aware of their religious differences where Sufism served to promote a common path of understanding the world. Owing to these, their shines grew into popular places of pilgrimage for both Muslims and Pandits, bringing them together in common participation at shine rituals as well as in helping to build bridge between people of difference castes and faith contributing to communal harmony .The humanistic philosophy of Kashmir Sufis and Rishis has played a prominent role in building the Kashmir ethnic identity. In many areas Muslim Asthans and Hindu shrines stood facing each other and people together made pilgrimages to these places until 1989, the year which marked the beginning of a political movement for rectification of pol grievances which took a violent turn later which we are all aware.
Aftermath of Terrorism
While administration changed many hands and each time minorities suffered but Pandits and Muslims continued to live in harmony till 1989, when Pakistan aroused the communal sentiments and changed the secular course into a religious movement. Pakistan employed dreadful yet systematic attempts to introduce ideology of fundamental Islam that was alien to the Kashmir society since olden times. The Kashmiri youth was brainwashed and weapon trained to indulge in large scale subversive activities like bomb blasts and shoot outs which created an atmosphere of terror in Kashmir. The unholy alliance of organised fundamental interpretations of religion and gun culture led to weeding out of remnants of the humanistic culture of Kashmir. Kashmir is bleeding today owing to the separatists. The irony is that the people who have their hands drenched in the blood of innocent people in name of religion actually unaware of the genesis of this beautiful religion. May the fresh air of some dawn bring back the memories of Sufism and Kashmiriyat in Kashmir and bring back peace and harmony to the heaven on earth.