Kashmiri Pandit
Overview
 
The Kashmiri Pandits are a Hindu Brahmin
Brahmin
Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

 community originating from Kashmir
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

, a mountainous region in South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

.
The Hindu caste system of the region was influenced by the influx of Buddhism from the time of Asoka, around the third century BCE, and a consequence of this was that the traditional lines of varna were blurred, with the exception of that for the Brahmins, who remained aloof from the changes.
Encyclopedia
The Kashmiri Pandits are a Hindu Brahmin
Brahmin
Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

 community originating from Kashmir
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

, a mountainous region in South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

.

Background

The Hindu caste system of the region was influenced by the influx of Buddhism from the time of Asoka, around the third century BCE, and a consequence of this was that the traditional lines of varna were blurred, with the exception of that for the Brahmins, who remained aloof from the changes. Another notable feature of early Kashmiri society was the relative high regard in which women were held when compared to their position in other communities of the period.

A historically contested region, Northern India was subject to attack from predatory Turkic
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

 and Arab regimes from the eighth century onwards, but they generally ignored the mountain-circled Kashmir Valley in favour of easier pickings elsewhere. It was not until the fourteenth century that Muslim rule was finally established in the Valley and when this happened it did not occur primarily as a consequence of invasion so much as because of internal problems resulting from the weak rule and corruption endemic in the Hindu Lohara dynasty
Lohara dynasty
The Lohara dynasty were Hindu rulers of Kashmir between 1003 and approximately 1320. The weak rule, internecine fighting and corruption endemic during this period, with only brief years of respite, gave rise to the growth of Islamic supremacy in the region...

. Mohibbul Hasan describes this collapse as

The Brahmins had something to be particularly unhappy about during the reign of the last Lohara king, for Sūhadeva chose to include them in his system of onerous taxation, whereas previously they appear to have been exempted.

Zulju, who was probably a Mongol from Turkistan
Türkistan
*Türkistan is the local name for Turkestan, a region of Central Asia.*Türkistan, Kazakhstan is a historic city and place of pilgrimage in southern Kazakhstan...

, wreaked devastation in 1320, when he commanded a force that conquered many regions of the Kashmir Valley. However, Zulju was probably not a Muslim. The actions of Sultan Sikandar Butshikan
Sikandar Butshikan
Sikandar Butshikan also known as "Alexander the Iconoclast" in Indian History was the second Sultan of the Gabari Tajik Dynasty of Kashmir 1389-1413 CE...

 (1389–1413), the seventh Muslim ruler in Kashmir were also significant to the area. The Sultan has been referred to as an iconoclast
Iconoclast
An iconoclast is someone who engages in iconoclasm—destruction of religious symbols or, by extension, established dogma or conventions.Iconoclast may also refer to:...

 because of his destruction of many non-Muslim religious symbols and the manner in which he forced the population to convert or flee. Many followers of the traditional religions who did not convert to Islam instead migrated to other parts of India. The migrants included some Pandits, although it is possible that some of this community relocated for economic reasons as much as to escape the new rulers. Brahmins were at that time generally being offered grants of land in other areas by rulers seeking to utilise the traditionally high literacy and general education of the community, as well as the legitimacy conferred upon them by association, Moving away from areas where they were under threat of forced religious conversion, the Brahmins were in turn imposing their own religion on their new locales. The outcome of this shift both in population and in religion was that the Kashmir Valley became a predominantly Muslim region.

Butshikan's heir, the devout Muslim Zain-ul-Abidin
Zain-ul-Abidin
Sultan Ghiyas-ud-Din Zain-ul-Abidin was a sultan of Kashmir in the present day Jammu and Kashmir state of India. Mohibbul Hasan has said that "Of all the Sultans who sat on the throne of Kashmir, Zain-ul-Abidin was undoubtedly the greatest .....

, was tolerant of Hindus to the extent of sanctioning a return to Hinduism of those who had been forcibly converted to the Muslim faith, as well as becoming involved in the restoration of temples and of Hindu rituals such as sati
Sati (practice)
For other uses, see Sati .Satī was a religious funeral practice among some Indian communities in which a recently widowed woman either voluntarily or by use of force and coercion would have immolated herself on her husband’s funeral pyre...

, which his father had banned. He respected the learning of the Pandits, to whom he gave land as well as encouraging those who had left to return. He operated a meritocracy and both Brahmins and Buddhists were among his closest advisors.

Ethnic cleansing and exodus from Kashmir (1985-1995)

According to figures from the CIA for 2007, at that time about 300,000 Pandits living in India were "internally displaced people
Internally displaced person
An internally displaced person is someone who is forced to flee his or her home but who remains within his or her country's borders. They are often referred to as refugees, although they do not fall within the current legal definition of a refugee. At the end of 2006 it was estimated there were...

" from Kashmir and Jammu. The US government has reported on the terrorist threat to Pandits still living in the Kashmir region.

The socio-political situation in Kashmir continues to be volatile, with the displaced Kashmiri Pandits beginning to lose their cultural identity. The US Department of State reports that, according to the Indian National Human Rights Commission, the Kashmiri Pandit population in Jammu and Kashmir dropped from 55 percent in 1941 to 0.1 percent as of 2001. In 2009 Oregon Legislative Assembly
Oregon Legislative Assembly
The Oregon Legislative Assembly is the state legislature for the U.S. state of Oregon. The Legislative Assembly is bicameral, consisting of an upper and lower house: the Senate, whose 30 members are elected to serve four-year terms; and the House of Representatives, with 60 members elected to...

 passed a resolution to recognize 14 September 2007, as Martyrs Day to acknowledge ethnic cleansing and campaigns of terror inflicted on non-Muslim minorities of Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir is the northernmost state of India. It is situated mostly in the Himalayan mountains. Jammu and Kashmir shares a border with the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to the south and internationally with the People's Republic of China to the north and east and the...

 by terrorists seeking to establish an Islamic state
Islamic State
An Islamic state is a type of government, in which the primary basis for government is Islamic religious law...

.

PRC and the JKMIP Acts

There are zones set up with offices for relief. Many Orders, Circulars and recommendations have been issued for relief of Kashmiri Pandits.

The Jammu And Kashmir Migrant Immovable Property (Preservation, Protection And Restraint On Distress Sales) Act, 1997, provides that "Any person who is an unauthorized occupant or recipient of any usufruct of any immovable property of the migrant shall pay to the migrant such compensation for the period of unauthorized occupation and in such a manner as may be determined by the District Magistrate."

Panun Kashmir

The community had hoped to return after the situation improved, but have not been able to do so for 20 years because normalcy has yet to return to the valley and they fear a risk to their lives.

In February 2011 Kashmiri Pandit Sangharsh Samiti President Sanjay Tikkoo said that "We strongly believe that the State and central governments treat Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley as second class citizens."

Culture

Dress

Early records and archaeological evidence such as terracotta sculptures do not record the present-day dress, which comprises items such as the turban, taranga, and pheran. Instead, records indicate that attire was varied and included leather doublets, woollen cloaks, and clothes made from hemp, cotton, linen and different types of silk. Many items of clothing reflected the cold winter climate of the area.

Kshemendra's detailed records from the eleventh century describe many items of which the precise nature is unknown. It is clear that tunics known as kanchuka were worn long-sleeved by men and in both long- and half-sleeved versions by women. Caps were worn, as well as a type of turban referred to as a shirahshata, while footwear consisted of leather shoes and boots, worn with socks. Some items were elaborate, such as the peacock shoes - known as mayuropanah - worn by followers of fashion, and steel-soled shoes adorned with floral designs, lubricated internally with beeswax
Beeswax
Beeswax is a natural wax produced in the bee hive of honey bees of the genus Apis. It is mainly esters of fatty acids and various long chain alcohols...

.

There are many references to the wearing of jewellery by both sexes, but a significant omission from them is any record of the dejihor worn on the ear by women today as a symbol of their being married. Kaw has speculated that this item of jewellery may not have existed at the time. The texts also refer to both sexes using cosmetics, and to the women adopting elaborate hairstyles. Men, too, might adopt stylish arrangements and wear flowers in their hair, if they had the financial means to do so.

Pilgrimage sites

Harmukh
Harmukh
Harmukh is a mountain in Jammu and Kashmir in the Himalayas. It has a height of more than 5300 m above sea level.It is known as Harmukh meaning thereby that the peak appears same from all sides.- Location :Harmukh peak dominates the lower Kashmir Valley...

 is traditionally revered by Kashmiri Pandits and in 2009 there was an attempt by them to revive pilgrimages to the site.

Festivals

The religious festivals of the Hindus of Kashmir have Vedic
Vedic
Vedic may refer to:* the Vedas, the oldest preserved Indic texts** Vedic Sanskrit, the language of these texts** Vedic period, during which these texts were produced** Vedic pantheon of gods mentioned in Vedas/vedic period...

 roots. The Kashmiri Pandits share most of their festivals with other Hindu communities.

See also

  • List of Kashmiri Pandits
  • Kashmir Shaivism
    Kashmir Shaivism
    Among the various Hindu philosophies, Kashmir Shaivism is a school of Śaivism consisting of Trika and its philosophical articulation Pratyabhijña...

     philosophy
  • Bhatt
    Bhatt
    Bhatt, meaning a priest or scribe in Sanskrit, is a surname common in most parts of India. A predominantly Hindu last name, it is found most commonly in the states of Jammu & Kashmir, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Kumaon and Garhwal in Uttarakhand, Doti, Karnataka, Kerala,...

  • Bhat
    Bhat (tribe)
    Butt is an English surname whose origins lie in the South West Peninsula region of England.- Etymology :The surname Butt or Butts is said to be derived from the Old French word "but" which is a verb meaning "aim" or "target". The English name is derived from the Middle English word "but", a noun...

  • Butt
    Butt (name)
    Butt is an English surname whose origins lie in the South West Peninsula region of England.- Etymology :The surname Butt or Butts is said to be derived from the Old French word "but" which is a verb meaning "aim" or "target". The English name is derived from the Middle English word "but", a noun...

  • Dar (tribe)
  • Dardic people
  • Hari Parbat
    Hari Parbat
    Hari Parbat is a hill overlooking Srinagar, the largest city and summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is the site of a Durrani fort, built in 1808. It has the famous Shakti Temple on the western Slope and Muslim shrines of Khwaja Makhdoom Sahib and Akhund Mullah Shah on the southern slope...

  • Kaul
  • Khrew
    Khrew
    Khrew or Khreuh is a town and a notified area committee in Pulwama district in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.-Geography:Khrew is located at . It has an average elevation of 1,607 metres ....

  • Tulmul
  • List of Jammu and Kashmir related articles

External links

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