War and Sexual Violence – the 1971 War and an Act of Genocide

War and Sexual Violence – the 1971 War and an Act of Genocide

War and Sexual Violence – the 1971 War and an Act of Genocide 

By Stories of Bengali Hindus 

Sexual violence during wars and conquests is often a footnote in history books. It is treated merely as a curiosity – an inevitable part of warfare, that affected populations, the peoples, and, consequently, the course of history. In more recent history, sexual violence during armed conflicts has been documented much better. After World War II, all sides of the war were accused of mass rapes, yet neither of the courts in Nuremberg or Tokyo, set up by the victorious Allies to prosecute suspected war crimes, recognized the crime of sexual violence. It was not until the rapes in the former Yugoslavia in 1992, that the issue of sexual violence as a tool of the genocidal campaign came to the attention of the UN Security Council. The Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) 1993 included rape as a crime against humanity, alongside other crimes such as torture and extermination, when committed in armed conflict and directed against a civilian population. In 2001, the ICTY became the first international court to find an accused person guilty of rape as a crime against humanity. Furthermore, the court expanded the definition of slavery as a crime against humanity to include sexual slavery. Previously, forced labor was the only type of slavery to be viewed as a crime against humanity.[1]

In 1994, The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) also declared rape to be a war crime and a crime against humanity. In 1998, the ICTR became the first international court to find an accused person guilty of rape as a crime used to perpetrate genocide. A significant judgment against Jean-Paul Akayesu, a politician who was found guilty for his role in inciting the Rwandan genocide, the first time in history recognized that rape and other acts of sexual violence are constitutive acts of genocide committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a group of people. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of 2002, includes sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, etc. as a crime against humanity when it is committed in a widespread and systematic way.[2]

The United Nations Genocide Convention characterized genocidal rape as “the invisible living casualties of the genocide that must live with the physical, psychological, and emotional aftermath of the sexual violence. In addition, the victims are re-victimized by society, which is hostile to rape survivors. Genocidal rape, as with all terror warfare, is not exclusively an attack on the body -it is an attack on the “body politic”. Its goal is not to maim or kill one person but to control an entire socio-political process by crippling it. It is an attack directed equally against personal identity and cultural integrity.[3]

At this point, many people around the world would wonder why it has been only two decades since sexual violence has been recognized as a tool of genocide when armed conflicts and well-documented cases of genocidal rape have occurred ever since after World War II. In 1971, when East Pakistan seceded and emerged as an independent nation, the United Nations provided aid to the refugees. In the refugee camps, the accounts of abhorrent violence have been recorded; journalist Khushwant Singh wrote an article in the New York Times [4], where he wrote in detail the fates of women who managed to escape from the Pakistani military crackdown. An excerpt from the article:Mandhari Dasi […] sobs as she tells me how the soldiers first raped her in front of her husband and then killed him. She holds up her 1‐year‐old child and asks, “Who will look after her now?” Women cover their faces when they are unable to talk of what happened to them. Some say they have been ravished by four or five men; some have had their nipples bitten off. Almost everyone has been beaten, punched, and spat upon. Those who escaped manhandling were terror stricken. When they saw what the soldiers and their Bihari collaborators had done to the others, they fled because of bhoy — fear. In the four days, I am with the refugees, I hear that one word, bhoy, a thousand times.”  

Joseph Fried, a war correspondent for the New York Daily News, wrote: “A stream of victims and eyewitnesses tell how truckloads of Pakistani soldiers and their hireling razakars swooped down on villages at night, rounding up women by force. Some were raped on the spot. Others were carried to military compounds. Some women were still there when Indian troops battled their way into Pakistani strongholds. Weeping survivors of villages razed because they were suspected of siding with the Muktibahini freedom fighters told of how wives were raped before the eyes of their husbands, who were then put to death… Pakistani officers maintain that their men were too disciplined for ‘that sort of thing’.”[5]

Another war correspondent, Aubrey Menen, wrote about a 17-year-old Hindu bride whose father described the rape committed by six soldiers. The father said: “Two went into the room that had been built for the bridal couple. The others stayed behind with the family, one of them covering them with his gun. They heard a barked order and the bridegroom’s voice protesting. Then there was silence until the bride screamed… In a few minutes one of the soldiers came out, his uniform in disarray. He grinned to his companions. Another soldier took his place in the extra room. And so on, until all six had raped the belle of the village. Then all six left, hurriedly. The father found his daughter lying on the string cot unconscious and bleeding. Her husband was crouched on the floor, kneeling over his vomit.”[6]

The world press documented numerous atrocities, massacres and rapes committed by the Pakistani Army and the ISI and Jamaat-e-Islami trained individuals who constituted the al-Badr and al-Shams brigades who were assigned to collaborate with the Pakistani Army in finding Pakistan’s enemies, which happened to be first and foremost the Hindu minority, professors, students, scholars, intelligentsia and every other group which was deemed a threat to Pakistan.[7] Video footage of young girls telling they were raped and held as sex slaves in Army cantonments[8] show how widespread and systematic the sexual violence committed by the Pakistan Army and their collaborators was. 

The Rape Camps 

According to the reports, girls as young as eight and grandmothers of seventy-five had been sexually assaulted during the nine-month repression. Pakistani soldiers had not only violated women on the spot, they also abducted thousands of girls and held them by force in their military barracks for nightly use. The women were kept naked to prevent their escape. In some of the camps, pornographic movies were shown to the soldiers, “in an obvious attempt to work the men up”. Khadiga, a thirteen-year-old, was interviewed by a photojournalist in Dacca (Dhaka). She was walking to school with four other girls when they were kidnapped by Pakistani soldiers. All five were put in a military brothel in Mohammadpur, Dhaka, and held captive for six months until the end of the war. Khadiga was regularly abused by two men a day; others, she said, had to serve seven to ten men daily. At first, Khadiga said, the soldiers tied a gag around her mouth to keep her from screaming. As the months wore on, the captives’ spirit was broken. Kamala Begum, a wealthy widow, lived in a Dacca suburb. When the fighting started she sent her two daughters into the countryside to hide. She felt she could afford to stay behind, secure in her belief that she was “too old” to attract attention. She was assaulted by three men, two Pakistanis, and one razakar, in her home. Khadiga and Kamala Begum were interviewed by Bérengère d’Aragon, a photographer, in an abortion clinic in Dhaka.[9] The Pakistan army and its local collaborators targeted both Muslim and Hindu women, however, the Hindu women and girls were subjected to disproportionate aggression. Many rape victims were killed in captivity, some migrated to India or committed suicide after the war. What happened to the Hindu girls is a textbook definition of total or partial destruction of a group that fulfills the prima facie condition of genocide under the Genocide Convention.[10]

The War Enquiry

The Hamoodur Rahman Commission was a classified War Enquiry Commission, which was constituted to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances of the 1971 war. In its report, the commission held widespread atrocities, other abuses of power by Pakistani generals, and a complete failure in civilian and martial-law leadership responsible for the loss of East Pakistan. According to the report, statements by Lt. Col. Aziz Ahmad Khan (Witness No. 276) were highly significant. Lt. Col. Khan stated: “The troops used to say that when the Commander (Lt. Gen. Niazi) was himself a [rapist], how could they be stopped. Gen. Niazi enjoyed the same reputation at Sialkot and Lahore.”[11] 

According to the same report, and of course, countless eye-witnesses and survivors accounts, the Hindu minority especially was subjected to unprecedented targeting and brutality, a fact that has not been properly addressed, let alone acknowledged.[12] Of course, it wasn’t only the Hindu girls and women who became the targets of mass rapes; Muslim women were raped too. Ferdousi Priyabhashini, a Muslim woman from Khulna, who was one of the first women to publicly tell about the torture she went through, wrote in her autobiography ‘Nindita Nandan’, which was published in 2014 and is yet to be translated. Priyabhashini told that the soldiers raping her said to her “You are a Hindu, you are a spy” just because she wore a saree and bindi.[13] Racial, religious, and cultural nuances played a role in singling out targets for the genocidal rape campaign. In order to present the realities of the war, the sexual violence, which was committed against the Urdu-speaking Muslim women by some of the Bangladeshi guerilla fighters, should be mentioned too. People from different communities were targeted by different entities with different motivations, and atrocities were committed by multiple sides of the war.[14] 

What is noteworthy is the fact that the Hindu minority community was not the nucleus of any armed resistance, and it was dispersed throughout East Pakistan.[15] The Hindu minority community has been disenfranchised and violently attacked ever since partition by both Urdu and Bengali speaking Islamist mobs during the 1950s and 1964 riots.[16] During the 1971 war, the Hindu community was yet again targeted brutally. A particularly harrowing aspect of the 1971 war was the systematic rapes of Hindu girls and women, a textbook example of an act of genocide committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a group of people. Yet, this atrocious method of torture and destruction was formally recognized over twenty years later, even when international relief organizations were aware of what was happening to the women during the 1971 Liberation war. The main perpetrators were never prosecuted properly and the victims never got justice.          


  1. https://www.un.org/en/preventgenocide/rwanda/assets/pdf/Backgrounder%20Sexual%20Violence%202014.pdf
  2. ibid.
  3. M. Rafiqul Islam, National Trials of International Crimes in Bangladesh: Transitional Justice as Reflected in Judgments
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/1971/08/01/archives/why-they-fled-pakistan-and-wont-go-back-why-they-fled-pakistan.html
  5. Nationbuilding, Gender and War Crimes in South Asia, Bina D’Costa
  6. ibid.
  7. The Wars of Afghanistan: Messianic Terrorism, Tribal Conflicts, and the Failures of Great Powers, Peter Tomsen
  8. Rape during the 1971 Bangladesh War
  9. Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will
  10. M. Rafiqul Islam, National Trials of International Crimes in Bangladesh: Transitional Justice as Reflected in Judgments
  11. http://img.dunyanews.tv/images/docss/hamoodur_rahman_commission_report.pdf
  12. The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide, Gary J. Bass
  13. Women, War, and the Making of Bangladesh: Remembering 1971, Yasmin Saikia
  14. Extremely Violent Societies: Mass Violence in the Twentieth-Century World, Christian Gerlach
  15. The Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide, Gary J. Bass
  16. Extremely Violent Societies: Mass Violence in the Twentieth-Century World, Christian Gerlach
Busting the Myths of India’s new Farmers Bill

Busting the Myths of India’s new Farmers Bill

By Amritha Ramaswamy

Fun Fact: Agriculture is the prime source for about 58% of India’s population. Gross Value Added (GVA) by agriculture, forestry, and fishing was estimated at Rs 19.48 lakh crore (US$ 276.37 billion) in FY20 (PE). Growth in GVA in agriculture and allied sectors stood at 4% in FY20. It also contributes 18% to India’s GDP. Recently the Indian parliament passed a farmer’s Bill, an initiative from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. The Bill consists of three documents. The first is “Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce Bill. Next comes, “The Essential Commodities (Amendment)” and lastly, “Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Bill).” It is widely believed that farmers are underpaid in India, and unfortunately, this results in high rates of suicides among farmers. The Indian government believes that the Bill is here to help farmers increase their income, but in opposition of the Bill, chaos erupted where certain factions of farmers in India are protesting in fear of large corporations taking over agriculture. Common misconceptions include elites buying farmland and forcing farmers to accept less income. It is vital to look at what the Bill is about and how it helps farmers that could help allay the concerns expressed by the protesting factions.

Myth: Farm Bill denies minimum support price to farmers.
Truth: The Farm Bill is not connected to the minimum support price at all; MSP is given and will continue in the future.

Myth: Mandi system will end
Truth: The Mandi (market) system is and will always be here to stay.

Myth: Farmer Bill is anti-farmer
Truth: It is pro farmer; with the new bill on board, farmers have the ability to sell their crops to anyone and will be able to pair up with big food companies. Besides, farmers also have the ability to trade so it can benefit their sales. The first document of the bill, Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce Bill state, “No market fee or cess or levy, by whatever name called, under any State APMC Act or any other State law, shall be levied on any farmer or trader or electronic trading and transaction platform for trade and commerce in scheduled farmers’ produce in a trade area” (2020, p. 4. Http:// Lok Sabha.

“No market fee or cess or levy, by whatever name called, under any State APMC Act or any other State law, shall be levied on any farmer or trader or electronic trading and transaction platform for trade and commerce in scheduled farmers’ produce in a trade area” (Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce Bill, Chapter II, point 6).

Myth: Large companies will take advantage of farmers with contracts.
Truth: Agreements can give farmers a pre-fixed price and the farmer has the ability to withdraw from the agreement without any penalty.

Myth: Farmer’s land will be handed over to capitalists
Truth: The agreement is based on crops and not on land; the bill states the sale, lease, and land are safe and prohibited for sale.

Myth: The farmer’s bill only benefits corporates and not farmers.
Truth: Farmers who collaborate with corporations successfully produce crops and will also learn the new technology equipment that helps crop production. In Farmers’ (Empowerment and Protection Bill), states, “farming agreement” means a written agreement entered into between a farmer and a Sponsor, or a farmer, a Sponsor and any third party, prior to the production or rearing of any farming produce of a predetermined quality, in which the Sponsor agrees to purchase such farming produce from the farmer and to provide farm services” (2020, p. 2. Http:// Lok Sabha.

“”farming agreement” means a written agreement entered into between a farmer and a Sponsor, or a farmer, a Sponsor and any third party, prior to the production or rearing of any farming produce of a predetermined quality, in which the Sponsor agrees to purchase such farming produce from the farmer and to provide farm services” (Chapter 1, Point 2, line 20).

Re-examining the Bill:

The Bill aims to help farmers increase their income and is committed to the well-being of farmers. Unfortunately, the Bill’s misconceptions and rumors are being passed around, misleading and misguiding those who are learning about the current Bill. When a new law is passed, it is essential to read through and decide how it affects you as an individual. In today’s society, most laws passed to help citizens are politicized, because of the current political atmosphere present nationally and globally. Anti-national slogans and biased information have increased because of the propaganda created by those who did not look into the Bill first. Certain opposition parties carrying vested interests, biased media houses and certain ill informed foreign governments are needlessly adding fuel to the fire. In order to avoid this, proper education regarding the Bill needs to be implemented and to fix a conflict; people need to join hands together and work towards one common goal, not aim to divide a nation.


  1. Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce bill, 2020.
  2. The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020
  3. Farmers (Empowerment and protection) bill, 2020.
  4. https://www.ibef.org/industry/agriculture-india.aspx
  5. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/msp-is-here-to-stay-says-kishan-reddy/article32775084.ece
Let’s Learn About Mahaperiyava

Let’s Learn About Mahaperiyava

By Amrita Ramaswamy

apara karuna sindhum jnadam shantharupinam

shrI candrashekhara gurum pranamami mudannvaham


I am meditating day and night on Guru Chandra shekara, Who is the limitless ocean of peace, one who grants wisdom and has a peaceful form.

Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Chandrashekarendra Saraswati Swamigal was an Indian Saint. He went by many names: Mahaperiyava, Paramacharya, or the Sage of Kanchi. According to the Hindu calendar, he was born on 20th May, 1894, under the Anuradha star (Anusham). He was born into a Kannadiga Smartha Hoysala Brahmin family at Viluppuram, Tamil Nadu. He was the second child of six children; Their father’s name was Shri Subramaniya Sastrigal, a District Education Officer.

Jagadguru was initially named Swaminathan, after the Lord Swaminatha of Swamimalai, one of the six abodes, near Kumbakonam. As a young boy, Swaminathan was very sharp and studious with an immaculate sense of grasping power for education. His thirst for knowledge was affirmed by his family astrologer. By looking at Swaminathan’s feet, the family astrologer predicted that Swaminathan would be revered as a great saint and teacher in the coming years.

In 1906, the 66th Acharya of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham performed the annual Chaturmasyam in a village near Tindivanam in Tamil Nadu. Swaminathan accompanied his father whenever he visited the Mutt; The Acharya was deeply impressed by the young boy. As days passed, the 66th Acharya attained Siddhi (left the earthly world) at Kalavai. Swaminathan’s maternal cousin was shortly later inagurated as the 67th Acharya. Unfortunately, the 67th Acharya very soon attained siddhi. As per the wishes of the 66th Acharya, Swaminathan was inaugurated. When he was 15 years, the young Acharya underwent tutelage with erudite scholars in Kumbakonam Mutt to be trained in Vedas, Puranas (epic), various Sanskrit scripts, and ancient Indian literature.

Swaminathan studied in Mahendramangalam, a tiny village on the Cauvery river’s Northern bank, between 1911 to 1914. He evinced a keen interest in subjects such as photography, mathematics, and astronomy. He returned to Kumbakonam in 1914.

Mahaperiyava has contributed his life immensely to Dharma and emphasized certain practices pertained to uphold Sanatana Dharma, such as Sandhyavandhanam, Kamakshi Pooja, and Vedas’s recital. He dedicated his life to Vedas’ uplift and consecration of many dilapidated temples, such as the Shri Kamakshi Amman Temple, where the Goddess herself came there for her devotion to Lord Shiva. Devotees view Periyava as Lord Parameswara, Lord Vishnu, and Goddess Kamakshi and believe that he was Dvitheeya Bhagavadpaadha: the second incarnation of Adi Shankara himself. This is ascertained by the fact that Mahaswami’s pontification was done by himself as “Svayambu” (self-formed); His Guru attained Siddhi before appointing his successor. This uniqueness was applicable to Adi Shankara Bhagavadpaadha, who initiated himself to create the Peetam. To emulate the feat of Sri Shankara, Mahaperiyava traveled across India to teach lessons based on Dharma and the values of Sanathana. The lessons he delivered decades ago in Tamil & other multiple languages were compiled by RA Ganapathi and published in English and Tamil as “Deivathin Kural” (The Voice of God). It has been translated into other Indian languages as well.

The Paramacharya focused on reviving Hindu traditions, where he emphasized on spirituality. For his Kashi Yatra, he traveled through Srisailam, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Jabalpur, and Allahabad. An incident took place there that taught many people a lesson: Madak-kulatthur BrahmaShri Chinnasamy Sastrigal delivered a discourse about “vidhi rasayanam”. Notables from the city were present, along with a vast number of erudite Sanskrit scholars. Swamigal was asked the quintessential meaning of Jagadguru, whether he was personified as one.

Pat came to the reply politely from the Paramacharya, “Jagatam guru na (I am not saying it in the meaning ‘a guru for the Jagat’). Jagati padyamanah sarve mama gurave” (All the creatures in the world are my gurus–in that meaning I am Jagadguru).” Nonplussed by the humble response of the Paramacharya, the scholars prostrated at his feet.

Paramacharya was also very influential during the struggle for Independence. Not involving himself directly in politics, he preached Dharma to reform the political system and protect Hindus from religious conversions at that time. It was notable that Indian National Congress Leader F.G. Natesan Iyer came back to Hinduism. He was inspired by Mahaswami; Iyer had earlier embraced Christianity because of his association with English men. Furthermore, Mahaperiyava also gave a speech on Independence day (15 August 1947):

On this happy occasion when our country Bharat has attained Independence, the people of this ancient country must pray wholeheartedly and with one mind to Sri Bhagavan. Let us all pray to God to vouch for safety in us, the strength of mind and energy to engage ourselves more and more in attaining spiritual knowledge. It is only by the grace of Almighty that we can safeguard the freedom that we have achieved and also help all the living beings on earth to lead a happy life.

Mahaperiyava was the head of the Kanchi Mutt for 87 years and focused on the restoration of Vedas, the Dharma Sastras, and the age-old tradition. Each ritual, tradition, and cultural practice had suffered a decline. Through the Veda Patasalas (schools teaching Vedic lore) he founded, and by honoring Vedic scholars, he brought back Vedic studies’ focus in India.

He organized regular sadas (conferences), which included discussions on arts and culture. His long tenure as Peetadhipathi (head of the Mutt) is considered by many to have been the Golden Era of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. Mahaperiyava is the living embodiment of truth and compassion because of his humility and rational (yathartham) approach towards anything. In his eyes, Hinduism is a broad-based religion. Mahaperiyava remains an inspiration because of his dedication towards Sanatana Dharma and his real presence as a sage.

He attained samadhi on 8th January 1994 and was succeeded by H.H.Sri Jayendra Saraswati. As long as the Sun and Moon shine on earth, Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swamigal will always remain a prestigious sage who was a star in Dharma, philosophy, and literature. In his Sukshma swaroopam (subtle body) form, Mahaperiyava still performs numerous miracles to date because of his grace and compassion towards humanity. Mahaswamigal is an Avataara Purusha (like Lord Rama), with the embodiment of Kalyana Gunas, setting a perfect example for the followers of Sanatana Dharma.







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.
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. 



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