New Delhi: The renowned scholar, former Union minister and scion of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir, Karan Singh, has said it will not be possible for Kashmiri Pandits to go back to their homeland.
“Many people keep asking me whether or not the Kashmiri Pandits can return to Kashmir. I think it is not possible for Kashmiri Pandits to go back to Kashmir, although successive governments have done their best to get them back,” Singh, who’s also an authority on Shaivism, said.
“Successive governments have constructed safe zones for them, but they are not able to go back to Kashmir,” Singh continued. “There are a few who go back but others are not able to do so. The government has also organised many programmes for Kashmiri Pandits, but I do not know how they can go now,” he added.
Karan Singh made these remarks while releasing the book ‘Ancient & Lost Temples of Kashmir’ authored by Avanti Sopory.
He said that whatever he had learned in life has been due to Kashmiri Pandits. “All my vidya (knowledge) comes from Kashmiri Pandits. I will remain indebted to them forever. But it pains my heart to see what this well-articulated, educated and brilliant community has to go through,” Singh said.
He said it is also a fact that Kashmir has witnessed many tragedies throughout its history and the Pandit migration in 1989-90 was the seventh such incident in the region’s history.
“Buddhism and then Hinduism was the essence of Kashmir but Afghans, Turks and the Mughals destroyed everything that Kashmir was known for across the world. Even an important Buddhist conference was held in Kashmir in the ancient past. It was only during our time that Kashmiri Pandits were able to return to Kashmir,” Karan Singh said, referring to the period when the Dogras ruled over the valley.
He said that the Kashmiri Pandits have a fighting spirit and they have never given up. “Your (Kashmiri Pandit) spirit is unshakable. Wherever you go you make a name for your community. You have never given up and also have a fighting spirit,” Singh declared.
He said there is a great Kashmiri Hindu history which fortunately has not been explored or written properly. “There were great Hindu rulers who ruled Kashmir. Great Hindu poets, architects, philosophers and a lot of Hindu history of Kashmir, which unfortunately has not been properly presented and not properly written,” Singh noted.
Likewise, he said, Kashmir has also had Dogra rulers whose history has also been distorted and not written in a manner that does justice to their contributions.
“It was because of the Dogra rulers that India’s boundaries reached up to Central Asia, China and Tibet. While we (Dogras) extended India’s boundaries, the Marathas couldn’t achieve such a feat. They fought inside the boundaries of India. But all this is not written about and presented to the people properly,” Singh said.
Pointing to the famed Boulevard Road of Kashmir as well as its other famous roads and hospitals, he pointed out: “All this was built by us.”
He said Maharaja Gulab Singh and Zorawar Singh were only foot soldiers of the Sikh Empire, but with the sheer determination and his capabilities, the maharaja was able to lay the foundation of one the worthy powers that India has seen.
Introducing her book, Sopory said that over the past 2,000 years, Kashmir has seen constructive discussions on Buddhism, Sanskrit, science and medicine, which we need to tell the people. Speaking in Kashmir, she said: “We need to do it; if we don’t do it, then who will?”
She reminded her audience of the time when notable people would come to Kashmir from China, Persia and Central Asia, and they made Kashmir the hub of scientific and literary conversations.
On Kashmiri temples, Karan Singh said that the Dharma Trust, which is run by his family, has been doing everything at its command to keep them functioning in Kashmir.
“There is a temple in the Pandraten area, for instance, which many don’t know about, and is looked after by the Army. It has been functioning normally all these years in Kashmir,” Singh said.
Sopory pointed out that there are only three ancient temples in Kashmir that are functioning properly, namely, Shankaracharya or Jyeshteshwara temple in Srinagar; Kheer Bhawani in Ganderbal; and the Parvati (Sharika) temple in Srinagar’s Hari Parbat fort.