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Baharistan-i-Shahi

Baharistan-i-Shahi

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Published by seadog4227
A medieval history of Kashmir of obscure Persian origin culled from Govt. of India and British archives
A medieval history of Kashmir of obscure Persian origin culled from Govt. of India and British archives

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Published by: seadog4227 on Nov 20, 2007
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05/08/2014

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Baharistan-i-Shahi - Chapter 1Written on August 1st, 2005 in PastBaharistan-i-Shahi - A Chronicle of Medieval Kashmir by,Published with the courtesy of Kashmir news network, translated by Kashi NathPandita, Professor of Central Asian History.Baharistan-i-Shahi, a Persian Manuscript history of Kashmir by anonymous authorand brought down to A.D. 1614, has served as an important reference work forhistorians from the 17th century to the present day. But it has been inaccessibleto the non-Persian knowing scholars and historians. Its first English translationis made from a collated text of the two extant manuscripts preserved in the IndiaOffice Library and the British Museum. Exhaustive footnotes have been added to itto make it readable and useful.The chronicle begins with a legendary account of the creation of Kashmir and asummary treatment of the Hindu period. It is followed by a detailed account of theShahmiri and Chak Sultans of Kashmir taking the narrative to the year A.D. 1614.The historical work gives considerable attention to Baihaqi Sayyids, a group ofSayyids of Iranian origin who played a significant role in the affairs of thekingdom. Baharistan-i-Shahi is essentially a political history of mediaevalKashmir, though a few aspects of Kashmiri society, such as its feudalisticcharacter, group and factional alignments, communal tensions and recurrentinternal power struggles can also be gleaned from it. The concluding portion ofthe book throws considerable light on relations between the ruling Chak Sultans ofKashmir and the Mughals, and the final annexation of Kashmir by Akbar in A.D. 1587in somewhat confusing circumstances. The chronicle is also rich in topographicaldetail.Baharistan-i-Shahi - Chapter 1 - HINDU PERIODChroniclers [1] of the rulers of the domain of Kashmir, while recording inKashmiri language [2] the events connected with their rule and also the affairs ofpeople high and low, have written that in distant past the land we call Kashmirhad remained submerged in water for two thousand years.[3] In those days, it wascalled Kashyap Sar. In its neighbourhood there dwelt a married hermit from India[4] named Kashyap. He made supplication to God Almighty for dry land where hecould pray. Then God Almighty sent three angels [5] commanding them to drain offthe water to make dry as much of land as was required by him. The land which theydried was named by them Kashshile [sic], which means a ‘chiselled stone.’ It issaid that subsequently [a person ?] Bekdarat [sic] by name sowed many kinds ofseeds in the muddy soil and raised crops, and developed the place extensively. Alarge number of people came from India to settle on this land. Their king, theexalted Raja, is Turkshil (sic); Turkshil [sic] means ‘unmatched in fortune anddignity.’This land has been called Kashmir. The source of the Ganges also lies here, [6][though] it is not accessible [to people]. Kashmir is protected by mountains. Attheir feet lie vast, clear and attractive lands; these are called tavar. All theselands comprise seventy-two sectors and are spread over one hundred and eight kuroh. [7] Amidst these lands is situated the city of Kashmir,[8] from which emergedpeople of sixty-four classes. Brahmans are one among them, all of whom arelearned, and elderly theologians. After them is the class of Khatrish [sic]. Thencome Vaish; they are artisans and peasants. Then follow Chandals, the lowest amongthe masses; they resemble gipsies.The ruler who first founded the city of Kashmir was called Pravarasen.[9] Itwidened under his stewardship. After his death, his sepulchre cracked and he roseto heaven near Maheshwar.[10] He was succeeded to the throne by his sonRatnaditya,[11] who reigned for sixty years. After him, his son Onta Dev reignedfor forty years.[12] Lalitaditya[l3] who descended from him ruled for eightyyears. The people of Kashmir call him zu’l-Qarnain. It is also said that hebrought under his sway the entire world from the borders of China to the farthestwest. Many of the idol-houses in Kashmir have been built by him. He also built acity named Parihaspora, [14] which means a ‘peerless city’.[15] In it he built
 
idolhouses, in which he installed huge idols. Each of these measured sixty yardsin height.[l6] It is said that in those days it was the usual height of humanbeings, and a man’s shoulders were as broad as he was tall. WhateverZu’lQarnain[17] asked of the idol, it was granted to him. The idol was worshippedardently in his days.[18]In those days there lived a man who possessed two jewels. The property of one ofthese was that if cast into an ocean it could dry up all its water, making itpossible for anybody to walk across the dried-up path. The property of the otherjewel was that when held in front of an ocean, the first one would be drawn to itand water would recede to its original level. Zu’l-Qarnain wanted to buy these twojewels, but the owner declined to part with them, saying that none but Shakyamuniwas capable of taking them away from him. Shakyamuni means one who can transferhis soul into another body. [The owner of the jewels] said that he had been freedfrom all privations and hardships by means of these two jewels.[19]After the sixth year,[20] he (Zu’l-Qarnain) returned to Kashmir and entrusted thecity of Kashmir to his grandson named Ratnatir.[21] Then he proceeded to conquerforeign lands; he did not return nor did anyone bring the news of how he died.[22]His grandson Vinayaditya proceeded to conquer foreign lands and captured manycities. At last he came to a city in the East. Its king was made to fearVinayaditya; he consulted his ministers and nobles to seek their opinion in thismatter. His senior ministers submitted to him that Ratnatir was a mighty king andthey could not stand against him in battle. His chief minister said to him that itwas difficult to repel his attack. But now that the king had asked for hiscounsel, he would advise him to surrender to Vinayaditya. This would enrage himand he would order that his nose be chopped off which would be followed by hisexpulsion from the city. After his nose would be chopped off and following hisexpulsion [from the city], he would join the enemy and devise some plan ofdestroying him.When the enemy came to know of the minister’s affairs and the news reachedVinayaditya, he made him his associate in conquering the neighbouring lands. Thecrafty minister, full of deceit and guile as he was, led Vinayaditya to take aroute where no water was available for ten to twelve days [of their journey], anda fairly large number of his men and beasts perished. Seeing through the deceitand craftiness of the minister, Vinayaditya asked him what his objective was in[doing this]. The minister told him that he wanted to get rid of him so that thecountry of his king was spared the scourge that he was. When Vinayaditya heardthis, he gave him a robe of honour and other rewards and also extended favour tohis king.From there Vinayaditya went to the countries of Kesh and Bahrain where he met witha disastrous defeat resulting in heavy loss of men and material. Along with ahandful of his followers, the king fell into the hands of the king of Bahrain whoplaced them all in the custody of his mother, so that she could keep an eye onthem. One day Vinayaditya threatened her with dire consequences for her son.Completely bewildered, she asked him how his capacity for retaliation had grownduring his captivity.Meanwhile, there blew a strong gale and he, as well as the mother of the king,embarked for Mabar.[23] In that place there was a man-eater and the king foundhimself unable to kill it. Vinayaditya put his left hand into the jaw of the lionand with his right hand rent it asunder, which surprised the king of Mabar. Hesummoned him to his presence and bestowed upon him robes of honour and otherrewards and gave him his daughter in marriage.[24] A large contingent of troopswas despatched under his command to conquer the country of Pars.[25] He broughtthose lands under his sway and totally subjugated their people. Then he went backto Kashmir to continue with his rule over that land.Once, while he was riding a horse, his whip slipped out of his hand. Thereupon hebade one of his attendants present there to reach him the whip. The attendantdeclined to oblige [him] saying that it was not his job. He was a courier called
 
Potkan in Kashmiri. Enraged by his audacity, the king ordered that he be given aproper assignment forthwith. Then he wrote down a message, handed over thedocument to him, and directed [him] to carry it to the ruler of Lank, which is abig and famous city of India. The name of the ruler of this city was Dados[sic].[26] The message was that the king of Gang[?] despatch one thousand and fiveboats forthwith to him for the purpose of building a fort. Hardly had themessenger embarked when an enormous fish gulped down the boat along with all thepassengers. The messenger had a sword with which he pierced the belly of the fishwhich caused its death.[27] The carcass was cast ashore near the city of Kajendan.The messenger emerged from the belly of the fish which amazed the people ofKajendan. They enquired of him about this happening. As a proof of what he hadtold them, they found the letters of command from [the king of Kashmir] on hisperson, and carried these to the king of Gang. On knowing all that had happened,the king of Gang despatched along with the Potkan a convoy of one thousand andfive boats. When he reached the outskirts of the city of Kashmir he informed theking about the coming of the demons of the ruler of Gang. The ruler of Kashmirsent pulses and many thorny fruits for them. The daily quota of ration for thedemons, consisting of pulses and cereals was sent to them till the fort wascompleted at Andarkol.[28] Here the king reigned for seventy years. Then he handedover the reins of government to his son named Bardanatant[29] [sic] . The kingshipthen passed on to Kashshil [sic], and then to Rama Chand, and after his death toOnta Dev. He was miserly and so greedy for wealth that he ordered his daughters totake to prostitution in the streets to extract money from people.There was a man, Brahman by name, who was notorious for his licentiousness. Afterhis death he was survived by his wife and son, who fell in love with the daughtercf the king. On learning of her son’s passionate love for the princess, his motheradmonishingly told him that he had hardly inherited anything from his father whichcould help him in realizing his objective. All that his father had left behind wasa dinar.[30] which had been put in his mouth at the time of his cremation. Onknowing this, he visited the spot where his father’s dead body had been cremated.There he was able to find the coin which he, later on, presented to the princessand succeeded in fulfilling his desire. Next day, along with other girls, she wentto see the king. He was delighted to see the standard coin, and bade his nobles tosummon its owner. The Brahman’s son presented himself [before the king]. He askedhim how he had procured the dinar and asked him questions about his passionatelove [for the princess]. After knowing the whole story, he sought from hissagacious minister an answer to the question whether a person carried with him anyworldly possessions after his death. The minister told him that a dead man carriedwith him nothing but memories of his good deeds, his evenhanded justice to hissubjects and of his acts of enduring benevolence. On hearing these words, the kingrepented over his deeds. He then ordered the building of schools, laying of thefoundations of prayer-houses and construction of bridges and roads. He distributedall his worldly possessions among the destitute and the mendicants. He thenrestored to his subjects their due rights. Of his line there were nine [persons],who ruled one after another over a period of three hundred and sixty years. Duringtheir reign they amassed three hundred and sixty treasures, which were ordered tobe sealed.In those days. there lived a distraught person, who held a stone under his arm andwent to the king exhorting him to bury his traesure (the stone) along with histreasure. The king said to him, “O you mad person ! What you have is a stone andnot a treasure.” He replied that a profitless treasure, a remorseless [sic] heart,and untimely anger were of a lesser value than that stone. The king uttered a cry,beat his head, and told him that he was right. He added that one should payattention to words and not to the person who utters them. He opened his treasuresand distributed their wealth among soldiers, destitutes and the poor. Soon after,the king breathed his last.During his days, there lived a hermit who, on hearing the news of the king’sdeath, expressed sorrow for the loss of his charitable acts. He transferred his

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I wonder how Hindus of Kashmir survived all throgh this barbarism. vinod razdan
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