The Other Kashmir- Guidelines on Literary Beauty from Kashmir to the Rest of India

The Other Kashmir- Guidelines on Literary Beauty from Kashmir to the Rest of India

The Other Kashmir- Guidelines on Literary Beauty from Kashmir to the Rest of India

A simple google search would verify the fact that the conversations on Kashmir are laden with feud and factionalism, murders and mayhem, and terrorism and tumult. So much so that one is often left wondering about the crown jewel claim that is often made in the context of Kashmir. What is so special about the land? How is the rest of the country intertwined with this mountainous territory? Why do we never know of Kashmir beyond Insaniyat, Jamhuriyat, and Kashmiriyat? These questions set me out on the most rewarding historical trail I have taken so far. Kashmir influenced the Indian culture so deeply that the ideas of beauty and feminine aspects of our culture have a deep Kashmiri imprint.  

Everyone knows of the famous line by Jahangir- Gar firdaus bar-rue zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin asto (if there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here). The next question that comes to mind is what did the Kashmiris do with this omnipresent unearthly beauty? They decided to teach us about every aspect of beauty. While it is difficult to retrace the manifest forms of beauty in the crumbling architecture and sculpture of the yore, the Kashmiri brilliance has left an enduring poetic trail that explains its grasp of the subject. 

The primary concern of any poetry is the real nature of man and his feelings. The workings of the human mind are best described in poetry. Not that it was impossible to compose poetry elsewhere but the surroundings of Kashmir inspired good poetry…… But as for the scientific discussion on poetry, which constitutes the science of poetics, does not appear to have been evaluated in any part of the country for a long time.[1] Such an evaluation, interestingly, was almost entirely carried on Kashmir. A cursory survey of Sanskrit Literature easily establishes the fact that the Kashmiri mind thought deeply about the problem of the beautiful. 

From debating the characteristics of poetry, काव्य लक्षण kāvya lakaa to the essence of poetic beauty, काव्यात्मा kāvyatma, the Kashmiri genius took the idea of beauty to such a height that the Upanishadic aphorism- raso vai sa rasa hyevāya labdhvānandī bhavati(रसो वै सः। रसं ह्येवायं लब्ध्वानन्दी भवति। The Lord is Rasa. Achieving Rasa is indeed the cause of delight-Taittiriya Upanishad 2.7.1) was organically displayed not only in the metaphysics but also in the lived experience simultaneously. Few places on earth have produced philosophers par excellence who also shone as rhetoricians and poet. Savants like Ānandavardhan and Abhinavagupta, as we shall see, have walked this earth very rarely.  

As is well known, Bharata’s Natyaśāstra provides the earliest outlines of the science of literary excellence (चमत्कार camatkāra). The sixteenth chapter of the work discusses four poetic figures (अलङ्कार alakāra), ten excellences (गुण guas), ten defects (दोष doas) and thirty-six characteristics (लक्षण lakaas). While the work deals primarily with dramaturgy and while there are there is an uncertifiable case that Bharata belonged to Kashmir; one cannot take away from the fact that the first extant work of Poetics proper is the Kāvyālakāra (काव्याल्ङ्कार) of Bhāmaha where we find a definite scheme of Poetics more or less elaborated and authoritatively established.  

The Alakāra School- Bhāmaha, Udbhaa and Rudraa

While Bharata argued for Rasa as the essence of poetry, Bhāmaha gives primacy to literary embellishments and figure of speech [2] (अलङ्कार alakāra), grammatical accuracy and euphony. Bhāmaha threw into prominence these poetic embellishments and the consideration of guas and doas in their connection, in conformity to a tradition from which the whole discipline appears to have received the significant designation of Alakāra Śāstra.[3]

The Alakāra school, provided for the first-time precepts relating to forms of expression, structural beauty, guas and doas, and it does not consider the speculative questions that are involved. Aesthetics for Alakāriks is dependent on the extraneous. In other words, Kavyaśarīra is the prime concern for the Alakāra School and not Kāvyatma

After Kashmir, this tradition finds its next advocate in a Tamil called Danin, and in Udbhaa, Rudraa and Vāmana [4]. Danin resonates with Bhāmaha when he says that it is indeed the figure of speech that lends beauty to poetry[5]. To the question of what constitutes Kavyaśarīra or the external frame of poetry, Rudraa responds by providing the two components śabda (word) and artha (meaning) and therefore, went on to divide the figures of speech into śabdālakāra (based on phonetics forms) and arthālakāra (based on meaning).

Vāmana and the Rīti School

Rīti is the theory of language of literature-viśisā padarachanā rīti (विशिष्टा पदरचना रीति [6])– an arrangement of marked inflected constructions is rīti (diction). Even though Danin makes a passing reference to rītis, it is Vāmana who establishes the theory in its final form. It is in Vamana that we find the first questions on the essence of poetry, kāvyatma, being asked and answered-रीतिरात्मा काव्यस्य– Rīti is the soul of poetry

Vāmana states that these dictions are based on poetic excellence i.e. the guas. Rīti is also termed as Mārga (Kuntaka) and Vitti (Bharata in Natyaśāstra[7] and Mammaa in Kāvyaprakāśa) by literary critics. Different rītis identified by various scholars are as follows: 

Danin Vaidharbhi, Gaudiya
Vāmana Vaidharbhi, Gaudiya, Pāncalī
Kuntaka Sukumāra, Vicitra, Madhyamā
Mammaa Upangarikā, Prasāda, Komala
Anandavardhana Samāsa,  Madhyamāsamasa, Dīrghasamāsa


Rīti, it is argued is more than just the science of lexical modes. It handles the psychophonetic fitness of the language. It is, therefore, a study of craftsmanship and psychology of speech.[8]

It is after the investigations of Vamana that the discourse on literary aesthetics shifts towards the exploration of the first principles- the essence of the poetry.  Bharata’s ideas on Rasa are examined. The all-encompassing Dhvani of Ānandavardhan come to the fore. 

To be clear, there flourished a series of aestheticians who pondered over the principle of rasa after Bharata but their discourse was more or less limited to the field of dramaturgy and was not applied to Poetics proper. Also, the Alakāra doyens Bhāmaha and Danin did acknowledge rasa[9] but they only allowed for it to play an insignificant role in their scheme of things. 

Rasa- Bharata, Bhaṭṭa Lollaa, Śankuka, Bhaṭṭanāyaka and Abhinavagupta 

Bharata’s Natyaśastra lays the foundation for the psychology of aesthetic experience. Bharata conceived Natyakalā as an amalgamation of various art forms and crafts, music and dance; and even architecture[10]. Bharata thus propounded his famous sutra(aphorism) on rasa(the aesthetic effect) –vibhāvānubhava-vyabhicārībhāva-sanyogāt rasnipatti विभावानुभाव-व्यभिचारीभाव-संयोगाद् रसनिष्पत्तिः – that explains the aesthetic experience in terms of the prime stimuli or the leading characters in a dramatic presentation; their behavioural features and the transient, but ancillary, emotional reactions they evoke. 

It is interesting to note that vibhāva, anubhāva and vyabhicārībhāva are all derivatives of bhāva. Therefore, it serves us well to understand bhāva first. Most of us familiar with India could easily mistake it for “emotion”. Bhāva[11] derives itself from the √bhu[12]that means to be. Thus, it is also a philosophical category that stands for Being or the ultimate truth. 

Knowledge, therefore, in literary context is understanding of bhāvas and the later, the experience of rasa[13]( sanyogāt rasnipatti). Experience, in the context of literature,  is the rasa-bhāva structure. The structure of states of being

Dr.Kapoor explains the mechanics of bhāvas as follows: The bhāvas spring from an interaction of persons and events that constitute experience. Experience filters into ourselves as various forms of vritti (movement or action) through cognitive mechanisms of mana, buddhi, citta, ahaakāra. The samskāras, the traces of experience, constitute and shape our being which both determines and is further shaped by our responses to bhāvas (rasas), resulting in a continuous tension between experience and being. 

Bharata enumerated forty-nine bhāvas. Eight (or Nine) of them are sthāyī –stable. These are omnipresent, more powerful, more frequent and more fundamental. Rati (love), Hāsa (laughter), Śoka (sorrow), Krodha (anger), Utsāha (enthusiasm), Bhaya (fear), Jugupsā (disgust), Vismaya (astonishment) and Nirveda (renunciation or indifference). They correspond to nine rasas or intensified emotional states. These are the Erotic (śringāra), the Comic (hāsya), the Pathetic (karuā), the Furious (raudra), the Heroic (vīra), the Terrible (bhayānaka), the Odious (vibhatsa), and the Marvellous (adbhuta). 

These states manifest in someone (aśhrayālamba) due to some stimuli (viśayālamba) and by the environment in which the stimulus the present (uddīpana). The efficient cause of the said stimulus (often the actor in a Nātya) can be termed as vibhāva. The manifestation of overt behaviour of the vibhāva produces resultant bhāvas or anubhāva (prefix anu means that which follows). But Bharat is acutely aware that human emotional condition is a complex tapestry and therefore describes it as the presence of a dominant bhāva amidst several ancillary emotional states i.e. sañcārī bhāva or vyabhicārī bhāva. 

The ambiguity of the Rasa Sutra taxed the ingenuity of several thinkers of the school. The ambiguities could be classified as follows: 

  1. The challenge of the sayogāt संयोगात् – what is the relationship between vibhāva (the emotive situation), anubhāva (the physical changes consequent upon the rise of an emotion), vyabhicari bhāva (the transient emotions)
  2. The challenge of the rasnipatti रसनिष्पत्तिः – what is the correct mode of derivation or attainment of Rasa
  3. The challenge of the substratum Rasa experience (rasāśhray) — where does Rasa reside?  Is the aesthetic experience subjective or objective?

The matter was investigated by Bhaṭṭa Lollaa, a Mimasāka; Śankuka, a Naiyāyika; Bhaṭṭa Nayaka, a Sakhya philosopher; and finally, the most authoritative response to these questions came from Abhinavagupta, the polymath. 

Lollaa, given his philosophical moorings, takes a more grammatical approach. Lolatta took only the denotational sense of the word nipatti into consideration and interpreted it as causal origination. Rasa, he said, is an effect of which the vibhāva or the aesthetic object is the direct cause. It resides in the original historical character (anukārya e.g. Rama etc.) represented on the stage, as well as the impersonating actor (anukartā). (Rasa-jñāna, in this case, is of the form, “This Rama (the actor) imbued with rati related to Sita”). Knowledge here is pratyaka. The relation (sayoga) is that of anukartā—anukrāya. Abhinavagupta quickly rejects this view-point which seeks to turn the sentiment, or sthāyī bhava, into an object of perception. Krishna Chaitanya ably points, Abhinavagupta’s brilliant mind noticed once that the literalism of the Mimasākas would annex aesthetics to grammar and bring about as complete an impoverishment in aesthetics as it had brought in philosophy. He saw that Lollaa was confusing aesthetic communication with intellectual discourse, the emotive symbol with the denotative sign. Noting that the sthāyī bhava, which abides as a potential reality and is raised to the relishable state only through the configuration of stimuli etc. (vibhavādi), Abhinava argues that it cannot be staticised as an object of perception “existing at only one specific conjunction of space and time. 

Śankuka, another Kashmiri and a younger contemporary of Lollaa, approaches the problem of how the spectator relishes rasa or the aesthetic experience from the point of view of a logician. For Śankuka, rasa could be logically arrived at by the process of inference. His approach is pshycho-epistemic. Invoking the imagery of citraturaga nyāya (the analogy of the painted horse), he posits that the successful imitation by the actor of the characters and their experiences is no doubt artificial and unreal or illusory.   This is not realized to be so by the spectators who forget the difference between the actors and the characters and inferentially experience the mental state of the characters themselves[14]. Using the painted horse as an example, Śankuka points to the beauty in imitation (anukaraa) holds that aesthetic experience is inferred (anumāna). In conclusion, Rasa exists in the anukrāya and the relish in the sāmājika (the audience) is brought by the process of anumiti (inference). The Rasa-jñāna here is of the form: “ This is Rama” (on seeing the actor). 

Bhaṭṭanāyaka is very original and greatly insightful with regard to the rasa question. Not only does the rasa question reach great philosophical heights under him, but some of his insights on the mechanism of rasa rasnipatti help Abhinavagupta build his own ideas of rasa. Bhaṭṭanāyaka extends the Sakhya ideas of Bhoga (relish) to the aesthetic experience. Rasa, for Bhaṭṭanāyaka, is neither ātmagata nor parāgata nor tastha vedya (neither in located in the sāmājika, the aesthetically sensible spectator nor the vibhāva, the actor).  We do not feel the afflictions and anguish or jubilations and joy in our person [15].

Then, how does one “enjoy” poetry? For Bhaṭṭanāyaka, the interaction between the two described as that of the consumer and the consumed; bhojaka bhogya sambandha. To explain this, Bhaṭṭanāyaka propounds the first function of language. Bhāvakatva, or the power of generalization. Bhavana vyāpar or the imaginative capacity, as per him, is a central aspect of the aesthetic experience. The love or valour or anger particular to the character transforms into general love or valour or anger. Ram’s love for Sitā (the particular) becomes universal love for aesthetic consumption. It is for this very reason, as per Bhaṭṭanāyaka,  that even emotions like pangs of separation, the sorrow of death, the violence of war can also be “enjoyed” as objects of aesthetic consumption.  

This phenomenon of universalization of the objects of aesthetic consumption created by Bhāvakatva was termed sadharaṇīkaand is one of the most significant contributions of Bhaṭṭanāyaka to the field of literary criticism. 

To further elaborate on the contrast between the consumer and the consumed, he elaborates on another power of language; Bhojakatva or enjoyment. Falling once again on the Sakhya framework, Bhaṭṭanāyaka explains that Bhojakatava allows us the sāmājika to enjoy a literary object, not at a practical level but from an aesthetic distance. In the process of literary relish, all practical considerations fade and sattva, the internal poise, takes over. Raja (physical dynamism) and Tama (apathy or inertia) take a backseat. Thus, for Bhaṭṭanāyaka, the aesthetic consumption is similar, if not the same as, to the blissful experience of the divine[16]. Thus, the second greatest contribution of Bhaṭṭanāyaka is that he raised the aesthetic experience to the level of contemplative and experiential mysticism.  The idea of beauty had traversed a long way from the cosmeticism of Bhāmaha. 

A final and the most widely accepted mechanism of rasa is provided by Abhinavagupta. Abhinavagupta does not seem to make a complete break from Bhaṭṭanāyaka. He rather builds on his predecessor’s ideas of aesthetic experience to arrive at his idea of rasa. According to K Krishnamurthy, Abhinavagupta “takes over where Bhaṭṭanāyaka leaves”. 

As is the case in Bhaṭṭanāyaka, rasa resides in the sāmājika for Abhinavagupta too. 

The stable psychological states, sthāyībhāva, called as cittavtti by Abhinavagupta are inherent in the audience in the form of predisposition (vāsanā or saskāra). These cittavttis become manifest when they come in contact with pertinent experience created by a literary representation. 

When we cognise the bhāvas by means of enlightened bliss in the self (prakāśamaya ātmānanda), the very same bhāvas manifest as rasa.   Enlightened because the citta is self-aware. This auto-cognizant state produces intensified emotional state as this experience of bliss or ānanda is an enrichment of our being as in that moment we are granted the ability to experience the emotions without-the joy, the sorrow, the ecstasy, the pain-within; as our own. It is also in this process that one’s ignorance about oneself is somewhat removed and one come to closer to one’s antakaraa or soul.  

The impressions of Abhinavagupta’s Saiva (Vedantic) moorings are visible here.  

Dhvani and Ānandavardhana 

From internal evidence as well from testimony, which admits of little doubt, of some of the ancient authorities on Poetics, it is clear that the theoretical background of the discipline was, to some extent, founded on the philosophical speculation on linguistics, so that Grammar, one of the oldest and the soundest sciences of India, was its god-father and helped it towards its ready acceptance. Ānandavardhana speaks of his own system as being based on the authority of the grammarians, to whom he pays elegant tribute as the first and foremost thinkers.[17] 

Ānandavardhana borrows two linguistic functions viz. abidhā(denotation) and lakanā (indication) from the grammato-philosophical discourses of his predecessors and adds another function vyañjanā (suggestive meaning) and claimed that suggestion is the essence of poetry[18] (Bhaṭṭanāyaka in response talked about abidhā (which contained lakanā or inferential functions in it), Bhāvakatva or Bhojakatava). 

Several expressed parts of poetry, he explained, carry an unexpressed deeper sense which is unique and different from the denotative and indicative sense which was vyañjanā or dhvani (sound, echo etc). Elaborating the grammatical origin of dhvani he explains that the word gets used by grammarians for the letter or words that reveal meaning[19].  But he takes the word a step further in the case of literary expression and uses dhvani as nucleus that contains within it not only the expressed meaning but also the suggestive meaning that supersedes the directly expressed meaning. That vyañjanā is not something new that got said but is a novel manifestation of something that already exists is not an unfamiliar idea in the speculative Indian mind.[20] 

In Dhvanyāloka, his hermeneutical brilliance is in full display as he sets out to explain that if indirect meanings emerge systematically from a text, we can then claim that all potential meanings are inherent in the text itself and all that the reader does is to exploit this system of verbal symbolism to construct a particular meaning. Dhvani, Ānandavardhana explains, is a three-tier system: 

  • that denotes the sound structure of words or śabda 
  • that denotes semantic aspects of the words of śabda, the suggesters or vyañjakas
  • that denotes the revealed or suggested meaning and the process of suggestion involved. 

Using this idea he ably argues that while text constitutes itself in each instance of reading, the said constitution is based on a principle that is finite. Thus, he conceptualised Dhvani as an all-embracing principle that explained the function and structure of the other major elements of literature- rasa, alakāra, rīti, gua and doa (excellence and defect). He analyses different kinds of suggestion and defines them based on the nature of the suggestion[21]

Rasa and Dhvani ended up being the most dominant and most widely accepted ideas in the field of literary criticism although later schools like Vakrokti ( propounded by Vāmana) and Aucitya (by Kemendra) did pose a challenge. 

Although the scope this article is limited, it should suffice one to say that it was the land of Kashmir (except for a few notable exceptions like Danḍin, Rājaśekhara, Bhojarāja, Viśwanātha, Pt. Jagannātha etc.)  that taught India the science of the beautiful. It was Kashmir that gave India the standards to measure literary brilliance against. It was Kashmir that showed the flaws and pitfalls the poet ought to avoid. 

If you ever experience the rapturous joy contained in Saṃskrit literary works, do thank Kashmir for having some part in it. 

PS: If you do not want to take the claim on the face value, here is a short list of Kashmiri astheticians: Bharata (probably), Bhāmaha, Udbhaṭa, Vāmana, Rudraṭa, Rudrabhaṭṭa, Bhaṭṭa Lollaṭa, Śankuka, Ānandavardhan, Bhaaṭṭa Nāyak, , Abhinavagupta, Kuntaka, Kṣemendra, Mukula Bhaṭṭa, Mahimabhaṭṭa, Mammaṭa, Allaṭa, Ruyyaka, Jayanta Bhaṭṭa, Kamalākara Bhaṭṭa, Alaṭa, Vagbhaṭa etc.


  1. Contribution of Kashmir to Sanskrit Literature, Naagarajan K. S., Page. 13
  2. काव्यं काव्येतराद्भिन्नं गुणालङ्कारादिमत्वात्।
  3.  Studies in the History of Sanskrit Poetics, Vol II, Sushil Kumar De, Page 57
  4. Except for Danin, everyone is from Kashmir.
  5. काव्यशोभाकरान् अलङ्करान् प्रचक्षते।
  6. Kavyālaṅkarasutravṛitti काव्याल्ङ्कारसूत्रवृत्ति
  7. विशेषो गुणात्मा
  8. Litearay Theory-Indian Conceptual Framework, Kapil Kapoor
  9. रसवत् दर्शित स्पष्ट श्रृङ्गारादि रसम्
  10. न तज्ज्ञानं न तच्छिल्पं न सा विद्या न सा कला । नासौ योगो न तत्कर्मंनाट्येऽस्मिन् यन्न दृश्यते ।।
  11. भू+णिच्+पचाद्यच्  – भावयति चिन्तयति पदार्थनिति
  12. भू सत्तायाम्  (to exist, to become, to be, to happen)-Dhatupāṭha 1.0001
  13. न हि रसादृते कश्चिदर्थः प्रवर्तते-without rasa, no meaning gets established
  14. Indian Aesthetics, K C Pandey
  15. न ताटस्थ्येन नात्मगतत्वेन रसः प्रतीयते नोत्पद्यते नाभिव्यज्यते
  16. Ācārya Viśvanāth later called it Brahmānanda Sahodara– वेद्यान्तस्पर्षशून्यो ब्रह्मस्वाद सहोदरः
  17. Studies in the History of Sanskrit Poetics, Vol I, Sushil Kumar De, Page 31
  18. काव्यस्यात्मा ध्वनिः
  19. Mammaṭa in his commentary explains that grammarians use dhvani as a word that reveals the all-important sphota in as much as it reveals knowledge.
  20. ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात् पूर्णमुदच्यते। पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते॥
  21. For example, rasa would be integrated into his dhvani theory thus: Dhvani (suggestion) is the method used and rasa is the desired effect of this suggestion.
Pakistani Army Killed Palestinian

Pakistani Army Killed Palestinian

“My conscience will never allow me to accept Israel, which is responsible for so many atrocities against the Palestinian people”, states the Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan in an interview. His statement comes as a response to the UAE entering into the Abraham Accords peace agreement with Israel this August, thereby agreeing to normalize relations.

If you are currently a Pakistani citizen, your passport bears an inscription preventing you from travelling to Israel. Additionally, Pakistan has stated that it won’t recognize Israel as a country, and all Israeli passports are also seen as invalid until a resolution has been reached on the Israel-Palestine conflict that provides a just settlement to the Palestinian people.

“Our stance is obvious. It’s something which (Pakistan’s founder) Quaid-e-Azam (Muhammad Ali Jinnah) made clear in 1948 – that we can not accept Israel until Palestinians get their rights as per the two-state solution,” Khan states. He believes that “if [Pakistan accepts] normalization of ties with Israel then [they] would have to give up the Kashmir cause.”

What Khan forgets to mention is that Israel is not the only country responsible for atrocities against the Palestinian people. Khan’s words on Israel, support for Palestine, and criticism of any relationship between Pakistan and Israel are quite hypocritical considering the two countries have worked extensively together previously on a military level and were involved in leading the killing of thousands of Palestinians.

After the creation of Israel in 1948, there was a notable number of Palestinians who had settled down in Jordan. Within the next twenty years they had formed a strong minority and raised the question of an independent Palestine. At the time, the King of Israel, Hussein, feared this group of Palestinians would be a threat to his kingdom and promptly asked for action to be taken against their camps.

Hussein’s order would lead to what is known infamously as “Black September,” where according to Israeli general Moshe Dayan;

“Hussein killed more Palestinians in eleven days than Israel could kill in twenty years.”

So how is Pakistan involved?

It was a Pakistani Brigadier General who led the operation.

Ziaul Haq was a Pakistani general who was placed in Jordan for three years from 1967-1970. He trained Jordanian soldiers and eventually led the systematic killings of 25,000 Palestinians. After leading the operation as commander of the 2nd division, Zia became a trusted figure in Israel. He “was also awarded Jordan’s highest honour for the services rendered.”

Ziaul Haq “also spearheaded the ISI’s intelligence collaboration with Mossad [Israel’s national intelligence agency] and since then Pakistan has continued to work with Israel in terms of “military and intelligence…despite the refusal to formalize relations.” Both countries worked together during the Afghan war and “Israel was one of the most important countries that assisted Pakistan in weapons and training to the Afghan Mujahideen.” Israel also supplied Russian weapons taken from PLO to Pakistan, exported British military technology to Pakistan, and both sides have continued to share intelligence with each other on the Gulf states and India within the past decade. Benazir Bhutto (former Pakistan PM) and Pervez Musharraf (former President of Pakistan) have both previously met with the Israeli emissary, and Musharraf himself has encouraged a formalization of ties between the two countries.

There is a clear alliance between both countries and although never officially declared, both Israel and Pakistan have been working together when it suits them. Imran Khan’s moral conscience and statements against recognizing Israel does not disprove it.


What does International Law say about Kashmir?

What does International Law say about Kashmir?

What Does International Law Say About Kashmir?


Present-day Kashmir, once home to flourishing Dharmic communities and thought, is now three separate territories – Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, China controlled Kashmir, which China obtained through a boundary settlement with Pakistan and occupation of land during the 1962 Indo-China War, and finally, the Indian-administered state of Jammu & Kashmir, or J&K as it is popularly called. J&K is further divided into Jammu, the Kashmir Valley, and Ladakh.

As a result of the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution on August 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir are now bifurcated into two (2) separate Union Territories – Union Territory of J&K and Union Territory of Ladakh. The constitution of J&K is now void and the region is governed under the Constitution of India.

Although the region of Kashmir is considered disputed territory between Pakistan and India, International Law strongly supports the argument that Kashmir was, and is, an integral and legal part of India. 

To understand why we look at (2) crucial legal instruments that establish a contextual framework for confirming Kashmir’s union with India. 

  1. The Instrument of Accession of the State of Jammu and Kashmir to India, signed on October 26, 1947. 
  2. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 47, adopted April 21, 1948.

The Instrument of Accession

In 1947, when the British sought to divide India into two separate countries, the British Viceroy offered individual kings of princely states the right to accede either to India or Pakistan by executing an Instrument of Accession signed by the ruler and accepted by the Governor-General of the Dominion of India. The decision to accede to either nation was an exclusive right of the ruler of that state.

Maharaja Hari Singh was the ruler of Jammu and Kashmir at this time.

As the Maharaja was debating whether or not to join India, Pakistan invaded Kashmir on October 22, 1947, sending hordes of its armed forces and armed tribesmen to attack Kashmir. Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, or PoK, is that part of Jammu and Kashmir which was invaded by Pakistan in 1947. This invasion has been condemned as a violation of international law by various scholars and experts. 

The panic-stricken Maharaja made a plea for help from the Government of India for military aid to counter this attack. India could provide military aid only if Kashmir was validly within India’s territorial jurisdiction. Thus, on October 26, 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh legally and effectively acceded the region of Jammu and Kashmir to India. India subsequently sent in its military forces to counter the attacks from Pakistan. 

This Instrument of Accession was legal under the Government of India Act of 1935, which provided that an Indian State may accede to India by an Instrument of Accession executed by the ruler of such state. In the Instrument, Hari Singh gave the Indian government authority to “exercise in relation to the State of Jammu and Kashmir such functions as may be vested in [the Indian government] by or under the Government of India Act, 1935 as in force on the 15th Day of August, 1947 [India’s Independence Day].”

The Instrument of Accession confers authority to the Government of India to pass and enforce laws for J&K in all matters concerning:

  • Defense.
  • External Affairs 🡪 includes the implementation of treaties and agreements with other countries, extradition, naturalization, and immigration. 
  • Communications 🡪 which includes wireless connectivity, broadcasting, regulation over railways, maritime shipping and navigation, admiralty jurisdiction, and air navigation.

On October 17, 1949, the Indian Parliament inserted Article 370 into the Constitution of India to further operationalize the Instrument of Accession. Article 370 was a temporary provision that conferred special powers and status to the state of J&K, legally authorizing the state to implement its own constitution. 

J&K democratically adopted its own constitution on January 26, 1957, in pursuance of the Instrument of Accession to India to “further define the existing relationship of [J&K] with the Union of India as an integral part thereof.” 

Among other things, this constitution:

  • affirmed the State of Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of the Union of India (Part II, Article 3); and
  • recognized that the Indian Parliament has executive and legislative power under the Constitution of India for certain matters in Jammu and Kashmir (Part II, Article 5). These matters include Defense, Foreign Affairs, Finance and Communications

UN Security Council Resolution 47

United Nations Security Council Resolution 47, passed on April 21, 1948, clarifies precisely why the much talked about the plebiscite, or voter referendum has not materialized for the people of Kashmir. In sum, this is due to Pakistan’s failure to fulfill the first condition of Resolution 47 required before a plebiscite can occur. 

Resolution 47 calls for a “democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite” by the people of Jammu and Kashmir to self-determine their status. 

Resolution 47 confirmed that before any plebiscite could occur, the following chronological conditions had to be fulfilled so a true plebiscite could occur with peace and order and through the joint cooperation of the Indian and Pakistani governments:

  1. To restore peace and order, Pakistan had to first withdraw its military, armed tribesmen and armed Pakistani nationals who entered the state for the purpose of fighting. Pakistan had to prevent any intrusion into the state of such elements and any furnishing of material aid to those fighting in the state. 
  2. Once it was established to the “satisfaction of the Commission set up in accordance with the Council’s resolution 39 (1948)” that the Pakistani military and armed fighters were withdrawing, India was required to incrementally withdraw its own forces from J&K, but only to the “minimum strength required for the support of the civil power in the maintenance of law and order” in the region. 
  3. Only after #2 was in operation, local personnel were then to be recruited in each district to help establish law and order “with due regard to the protection of minorities.” 

After this point, Resolution 47 set forth guidance on how to practically administer the plebiscite on the ground.

The first condition named in Resolution 47, necessary for restoring peace and order in the region and ensuring a fair and democratic plebiscite, remains unfulfilled by Pakistan to this day. Subsequent UN Resolutions on this matter repeatedly call for a withdrawal of Pakistani armed presence and military from the region. 

Over time, Pakistan has increased its military presence and utilized and funded terrorist elements to create unrest and instability in the region, further violating Resolution 47. 

As a result, no plebiscite has occured for the Kashmiri people, and the Instrument of Accession remains an unconditional, legally binding instrument to this day, empowered by the Government of India Act of 1935 and the Indian Independence Act of 1947. 



Atrocities by the Army: An objective view

Atrocities by the Army: An objective view

Citizens depend on their country to provide them protection from dangerous outside forces. A gargantuan task, managed through the government’s military. To tackle such a task, armies are given a position of power, and therefore must display trust and responsibility. These attributes are tested occasionally, and unfortunately, the abuse of power is not uncommon. This misuse of power can be clearly seen in Kashmir. The public often takes a side in such an issue, but reported facts do not lie, and abuse happens at the hands of both the Indian and Pakistani armies. 

The geopolitical environment of Kashmir leads to the fairly intuitive conclusion that there is an uprising in the population. It is important to abate these situations carefully, which the Indian Armed Forces unfortunately did not do. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) found that Indian security forces often used excessive force to respond to these violent protests. They continued the use of pellet-firing shotguns as a crowd-control weapon despite the large number of civilian deaths and injuries. To repent for these crimes, those responsible should be taken to court. However, India’s Armed Forces’s Special Powers Act (AFSPA) ​provides effective immunity for serious human rights violations such as these. Ever since this law came into force in 1958, the government of India has not granted permission to prosecute any security force personnel. 

The Indian Army, while prideful in nature, has committed acts that have largely gone ignored. In the early 1990s, the Indian Army took part in atrocities against civilians in massacres, where they targeted people by the masses. Areas such as Gaw Kadal, Sopore, Handrawa, and Hawal were hit by paramilitary forces, and their houses were burnt (3,4). Instances such as the Kunan Poshpora incident are recorded, where the Indian Army raped 23 women in retaliation towards militants who shot soldiers (8). In such cases, the Indian Army remained immune and the soldiers involved in these events essentially walked scot-free. Due to the AFSPA, the Indian Army was able to conduct those attacks, as well as coordinate disappearances of individuals. The AFSPA has its original basis in counter terrorism, as the main threat to Kashmir today is the rise in Islamist Terrorism; however, in cases such as Gaw Kadal, the purpose tends to sway away (5). 

While the Indian Army has immunity in quite a bit of cases, they have owned up a majority of their attacks on civilians. They have admitted to the Human Rights Watch in regards to their disappearances of Kashmiris, and those individuals in the army have received sanctions accordingly (6). Interestingly, the amount of civilian deaths now are far lower than the amount of deaths that the Indian Army and terrorists face; there has been a 40% drop in terrorist groups in Kashmir, as more terror groups are being gunned down by the Indian Army (7). The amount of civilian deaths reported were 22, while the amount of the militants and army officials  killed were both approximately 136 (7).

While the Indian Army has committed such acts against the Kashmiri population, it is nothing compared to what the Pakistani government and army has done to this in their own administered Kashmir. There have also been numerous human rights violations by the Pakistan military. Most of these violations occurred in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. There have been reported cases of violent restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and association. Their institutional discrimination against minority groups have also led to fatal injuries and deaths at the hands of Pakistani soldiers. Anti-terrorism laws have been twisted for political benefit and to target activists. Enforced disappearance victim groups alleged Pakistani intelligence agencies to be responsible. Pakistan has been called upon to address it’s “strategic deficiencies” by the FATF, or Financial Action Task Force, which is an intergovernmental organization that monitors money laundering and terrorist financing. Aside from civilian offences, military offences have also occurred. One such instance is the murder of Indian Army Soldier Ummar Fayaz. Lieutenant Fayaz was an inspirational figure in his community. His actions prompted many around him to fight for their country, and his death comes as a severe blow to them. He was abducted (from India) amongst family and friends, and his body was found by them the very next morning. He was shot twice and beaten down, left to die (16). A direct violation of the Geneva Convention, where a soldier was mistreated in captivity. The message behind the murder was clear: intimidation. The community did not succumb to the threats, and instead banded together to show the opposing army that they remain undeterred in their fight for a better life. 

Furthermore, the Pakistani government has locked the Azad Kashmir (part of Pakistan’s Occupied Kashmir) government into a position of permission, they essentially cannot do anything for their own people until approval is given. Individuals in Azad Kashmir lack basic free speech, one cannot speak out against the Pakistani government without being killed or jailed (9). There really is not a moral equivalence between India’s and Pakistan’s treatment in Kashmir. Pakistan has fueled traumatic pain on these citizens; there are quite a bit of forced disappearances in the area, while numbers are completely undetermined, the area of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan are determined as “not-free” and are considered as oppressed, this is not the case in Jammu and Kashmir of India, which is seen as any other state of India (10,17). The area itself is not “Azad” as the name suggests, as there are restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, and there is a large impact of terrorism on human rights; Muslims cannot speak up for themselves, and Hindus/Sikhs are still killed for attempting to conduct their pilgrimage in Azad Kashmir (11). Sharda Peeth was not what it is today, it has been broken down and only a fragment remains. What used to be the oldest university in the world is now seen as a broken remnant; while temples are being broken down, not a single mosque has been destroyed in Jammu and Kashmir. Furthermore, Pakistan has committed its own attacks on Kashmiris in Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir; so much that now only less than 10 percent of both areas are ethnically Kashmiri, and those trying to live there are forced to leave or are killed (12).

In terms of retaliation, what the Indian Army and Pakistan army/militant groups have done is pale in comparison to what the militant groups have done to the Kashmiris. In Jammu and Kashmir, militants (like the TRF, Lashkar-E-Taiba, and Dukhtaran-E-Millat) have killed a total of 12,485 Kashmiris and army officials together, a total of 16,208 rapes on women have occurred, and a total of 664 missing persons due to militants have been recorded (13). These numbers by far supersede the exaggerated brutalities by the Indian Army. Furthermore, there are no reported cases of the Indian Army brutally torturing Pakistani soldiers, while the amount of reported cases of Pakistani soldiers harming the Indian soldiers is higher; there have been reported beheadings and mutilations of Indian soldiers, such as Bhausaheb Maruti Talekar, whose head was seen tossed around like a football (14). The president of Pakistan (Pervez Musharraf) honored the group (led by Illyas Kashmiri) that beheaded the Indian Army officer, millions of rupees were given in reward, papers printed the picture of the beheading, and the group lived peacefully (15). A country that supposedly does not condone terrorism has funded terrorist groups in silence; They even mourned the death of Ilyas Kashmiri after he was killed by a US drone strike.

Attacks in Kashmir have resulted in more than 50,000 deaths since 1989. This means more than 50,000 family members, more than 50,000 friends. Military personnel do not have the right to abuse their power. With something as simple as a uniform, soldiers of either nation, have the ability to ruin lives. At the end of the day, the victims of all these violations deserve justice, no matter the assailant, and the first step to that is keeping oneself aware of what is going on in places such as Kashmir. Media should not be the telltale of the truth: Listen to the facts, not the bias. 


  10. Human Rights Watch World Report 2007. Seven Stories Press. 2007. p. 306. ISBN 978-1-58322-740-4.
Dharmic Management of Temples

Dharmic Management of Temples

Credit: Swarajya Magazine

Most non-Hindus and even many Hindus have a limited understanding of Hindu temples and their role in society.

Hindu temples are not just ‘houses of worship’ as they are known in Abrahamic religions. They are in their basic element embodiment of divine spirit, the structure and the deities consecrated respectively by Kumbabishekam and Prana Prathista.

But besides this, they also played a critical role in the South Asian cultures – as hubs that sustained and propagated Sanatana Dharma and Dharmic Living in those communities, maintained the heritage of those cultures and passed them on to future generations. Today these same temples are under attack from two key sources:

  1. Left and Abrahamic religions, and
  2. Secular governments that have come to depend on the financial resources of the company

If we go back many centuries, most kingdoms in South Asia supported erecting local temples and endowing them with resources and land to sustain a Dharmic life in their respective kingdoms. The kings gave large grants of lands to these temples as indicated by some examples below:

Sundaravarda Temple in Uttiramerur in Kanchipuram

Sundaravarda Temple in Uttiramerur in Kanchipuram has inscriptions about the administration of local assembly and governance of local school and bodies of higher education.

‘The Beautiful Tree’ by Dharmapal addresses Pre-British education system in India in details about how temples had schools attached to it and provided universal education. This role must be restored to the local temples.

11th Century Choza temples:

The Educational Heritage of Ancient India‘ by Sahana Singh states inscriptions in temples during 11th century Choza period that lay out endowments given for the boarding and tuition of 340 students studying at a Vedic college. The college was given 45 Velis (300 acres) of land to support this college. In fact, the inscriptions even state how much allowance the students were given based on the level of study with students studying Vedanta, Mimamsa, and Vyakarana getting 66% more.

Temples in Ennayiram:

Azhagiya Narasimha Perumal temple in Ennayiram, especially has inscriptions that has some valuable inscriptions that throw light on the administrative arrangements that existed then; and there is one record that gives us valuable details about a Vedic College and a hostel run in the campus of the temple.

The precious resources bequeathed to future generations by the Dharmic rulers were taken over by the corrupt British administration and made worse by The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Act of 1951 (See here). Encroachment of the secular governments to usurp those resources have reduced Hindu temples today as mere places of worship, some barely able to keep the lamps burning and do barely one puja a day, let alone 6-times a day as they used to be.

Often secular governments, leftists and more alarmingly Abrahamics bring up prevention of corruption in temple management as an excuse to maintain government control of temples. Some naïve Hindus even buy that argument and support continued government control over temples. Addressing this hypocrisy is whole another matter – considering that churches and mosques have no transparency and government hardly bothers with what happens there. We will reserve it for another day.

If Hindus are going to move forward in this struggle to free Hindu temples from government control, it is up to us to propose a framework that will serve as an alternative to government control. We will present a broad outline of something like that here.

Any proposal for management of temples should ensure:

  1. The structure will cater to Hindus worldwide with strong base in India
  2. Transparent processes that ensure Dharmic management of the temples
  3. Management with representatives from Dharmic Hindus irrespective of language, regional and other identifications
  4. Focus on primary goal of serving the society by sustaining Sanatana Dharma and Hindu cultural heritage including arts
  5. Rediscovery of Indic systems of science, math, medicine, economics, and management and ensure it is passed on to future generations

Sanatana Dharma is not a monotheistic entity and neither it supports a single religious authority like Vatican. So, the proposed structure should be federal to ensure consistency in pursuit of basic goals while providing autonomy to regional entities to cater to various regional priorities.

What a multi-level structure could look like:

  1. Local bodies: Manages temples that cater to a local community
  2. Hubs temples: Every large temple will serve as a ‘Hub’ to various local communities and temples in those communities
  3. Regional committees: Composed of hubs formed by large temples in the region
  4. National body: Formed from representatives from regional bodies and partner with Sanatana Dharmic organizations around the world

Local bodies:

Function: These are the most critical elements of this structure. They must cater to the needs of the community and be relevant to achieve the broader goals. At a very basic level this will involve:

  • Maintenance of temples, Kumbabhishekams and similar activities
  • Imparting Dharmic education
  • Running Goshalas
  • Patronage for local arts, music
  • Celebrate locally relevant festivals

Temples in this model will once again support schools and colleges. That will impart everything from primary education in Mother Tongue based on the Indic framework to multi-discipline higher education centers including specializations.

The temples will be renovated not by philistines but those well educated in traditional temple architecture, agama rules and Dharmic concepts. We have been bequeathed treasures by our ancestors and least we can do is maintain them.

Management: The local bodies must be managed by two groups: full time operational employees composed of Dharmic Hindus and a volunteer management committee with supervisory and guidance role. This committee formed from the local communities with representation across the community irrespective of caste or economic strata.

However only Dharmic Hindus who actively participate in data to day activities in the temple and the community should have the opportunity to be involved in management to avoid situations where people look at the roles as status symbols. These management committee will have to be chosen through a form of election inside the temple where only dharmic Hindus participate and choose their management representatives. Term limits will prevent the role from becoming power centers within the community.

Once a month in a gathering at the temple the committee must share with the devotees updates on Financials and Dharmic activities the local body undertook. For example, the number of students educated in the Ved patshala, renovations done to the temple. It will also give the community a chance to present their points of view and address needs of the community not yet met by the activities of the local body.

Hub Temples:

Function: Larger temples will cater to the needs of local bodies from surrounding areas. The large temples will devote a portion of the resources to meet the needs of the local bodies not met from local temple resources. The committee that manages this body will also be elected and composed of representatives from surrounding communities. These bodies will also ensure transparency by sharing operational updates, temple income and expenditure in pursuit of dharmic activities in the form of bi-monthly meetings from any one from surrounding communities can participate.

For example, Brihadeshwara temple will serve as the hub for temples in Thanjavur district.

Regional bodies:

Function: The regional bodies will represent various temples in the region of the country with commonalities such as geographical attributes, cultural affinity etc. These regional bodies will set broad priorities for the region in consultation with both the national body and local bodies. Like local bodies operational updates, financial updates and report of dharmic activities undertaken will be presented on quarterly basis.

The regional bodies will also oversee audit of the local bodies by using randomly assigned audit teams from a pool of dharmic Hindus well qualified to do the same. And the same team won’t be assigned in consecutive years.

National Body:

The national body will serve as the entity that will set broad priorities for the Dharmic society in consultation with regional bodies and using input from local communities. The national body will also correspond with Hindu temples across the world to ensure that global Dharmic priorities are maximized and Hindu Temples across the world have a connection with the Spiritual Home – Bharat.

More power under local bodies to administer to the needs of the local dharmic communities with regional and national bodies only involved in broad goal setting, auditing and ensuring consistency will ensure balkanization of the Dharmic bodies.


First, we need to limit further damage to the temples and Dharmic society. The government bodies that are managing temples must provide to the community an account of temple resources and how they are managed. Non-Hindus able to either guide activities or have operational impact on temples must be replaced with Dharmic Hindus.

Second, a Hindu Mahasabha must be called that will include selected Dharmic representatives to meet for extended time, debate the ideas and formulate the Charter for Dharmic Temple Management. This charter must be ratified to be effective and this charter alone must guide all aspects of temple management.

Finally, before the Dharmic body takes over, the government must hand over all resources including temple lands and resources illegally occupied by others. With a clean slate the Dharmic body can start administering.

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