Monday, September 23, 2019
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Passage To The Sharda Peeth – A welcome Development

B L Saraf

In the highly surcharged atmosphere that marks current Indo - Pak relations - where a single spark has potential to ignite explosion of colossal proportions , a pleasant news has come from across the border . India , in turn , has added to the pleasantness .
Pakistan government has , reportedly , approved a proposal to establish a corridor that will allow Hindu pilgrims from India to visit Sharda Peeth , an ancient Hindu temple and cultural site in Pakistan occupied Kashmir . After coming to know that Pakistanis amenable to the proposal , India has responded positively and sought to delink plans for a corridor to Sharda Peeth from the general freeze in bilateral ties .
What Sharda Peeth means to the ancient civilization of the sub-continent in general and that of J & K in particular, is well known . Its spiritual and educational flavor transcends times and travels far and beyond . Voluminous work has been done on various aspects of this Shrine by Indian and foreign Researchers and Scholars . However ,it is a heartwarming revelation that very eminent Muslim scholars in POK and Pakistan have been refreshingly candid in highlighting Spiritual , Civilizational and Environmental significance of the Sharda Shrine . So much so , any discussion on Sharda Peeth will sound shallow and be incomplete until we make reference to the work done on the subject by Kh Abdul Gani –a teacher , Dr Mohsin Shakeel , Urologist Muzzafarabad Medical Institute , Dr Khuram Qadir , Prof E M Ahmad Hussia Wani – Director Texla Institute of Asian Civilizations Qaid e Aazam University Islamabad and Dr Ruxana Khan of Islamabad University . After going through their works many prejudices , stereotypes and sectarian consideration , woven around the Shrine by persons with vested interest , vanish in thin air . These eminent persons have reinvented the historical , spiritual and architectural importance of the Shrine and brought it to the fore for the world to take due notice .
It is no exaggeration , that Pak government’s proposed initiative to open the Sharda Peeth is ,largely ,the result of untiring efforts made by these persons in Pakistan .
These eminent persons have taken great interest in architectural restoration of the Shrine . Khawaja Abdul Gani - a teacher resident of Village Khawaja Seri Tehsil Sharda District Neelam Muzzafarabad has spent lot of his time and energy to bring out historical and civilizarional importance of Sharda Tirth in his deeply researched Book , Sharda - Tarikh Kay Irtiqai Marahill

The author has referred to a tribute paid to the spiritual prowess of Sharda Shrine by the noted historian Al-bueorni in 1031 AD and observed that same was reiterated by Major Bates – 760 later - in 1860 , that “ Whoever – whether a Muslim or Hindu – pays obeisance to Sharda Devi or Mai from the core of his heart will have his wishes come true .”

Ab Gani has with the help of historical record observed that Sharda Tirth is revered equally by all Kashmiris . Dr Mohsin Shakeel calls Sharda Peeth as heart of the Neelam Valley . Prof E M Ahmad writes is his forward to Ab Gani’s book , about Sharda civilization ( Translated from Urdu )
“ This civilization gave world a scientific educational system through the medium of Sharda script .”

On the religious significance of the Shrine , in his book Ab Gani quotes Mc –even – an English Researcher and Environmental Scientist , as having said :
Translated from Urdu

“ If the world is seen cast in spiritual die , a pleasant triangle would emerge before us – that is Sharda –Hindus’ spiritual place , Jerusalem of Jews and Mecca Mukaram of Muslims .” P 32
The telling effect of the work done by Pakistani scholars is that it has shown a place to the overnight’ historian ‘of Kashmir who ,through their half baked writings , have completely distorted ancient history of the state . Their only endeavor has been to change the original names of Kashmir’s ancient historical sign posts . Shakarachaya Hillock becomes koh Suleiman and Hari Parbat changes to koh-I marran.

It is the tragedy of times that we tend to see everything from the prism of conspiracies , ulterior motives etc . Some of us see a Pak design to destabilize Indian Punjab again by encouraging Kartarpur pilgrimage . Similarly , in opening the Shrada Tirth for pilgrimage of Hindus in Kashmir, some of us see , a Pakistan’s attempt to gain access to vantage points in Kashmir on the principle of reciprocity . Maa Sharda , pity those who live in this side of the LOC and claim to have been in forefront to demand a regular yatra to You are, now , advising against it when ‘ their ‘ demand is about to be met .

We hear unnecessary murmurs that seek to pitch Sharda Peeth pilgrimage against the ‘ Homeland concept ‘. There is not even a remotest connection between the two . They are not mutually exclusive . In fact together ,both of them will lead to the glorification of now forgotten ancient civilization that is the hall mark of Kashmir as it stood prior to October , 1947 .

It could not be ruled out that some elements in Pakistan may be tempted to create mischief through these measures . Nonetheless that can’t detract from the larger spiritual interests of Sikhs and Kashmiri Hindus that will be served in opening these highly revered spiritual places for their pilgrimage

We have been clamoring for it . Therefore , a passage to Sharda Shrine is indeed walk to the our glorious past which should make everyone in the country proud, as emphasized by our friends in Muzzafarbad .

We trust that our rulers will learn something from their counter parts in Pakistan and initiate , without any further delay , measures for care and protection of sigh post of common heritage, in the Valley, and make law for democratic management and preservation of the Temples and Shrines in Kashmir.

(The author is a Former Principal District & Sessions Judge. Feedback- [email protected] )

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