Our Heritage Part 2
Even Kalhana in his Rajatarangni emphazies the importance that people attached to learning. According to him, learning was one of the five things for which the Vally was reputed – he says, “learning, lofty homes, safron, icewater and grapes; things that in Heaven are difficult to find are common here” (Raj, Book I, Verse 42). Hieun Tsang, the Chinese pilgrim to India who visited Kashmir observed that Kashmiris liked learning and are well cultured. Since centuries, learning has been held in great respect in Kashmir.” (Life of Hieun Tsang, translated by BEAL). In the 11th Century, Alburini, the great Arabic scholar who followed Mahud Ghaznavi to India said about Kashmiris that their land ‘is a high school of Hindu sciences” (India – Translaed by Saudha).
The knowledge of Sanskrit seems to have reached high peaks. The scholars developed their own alphabet, called the “Sarada”.
All the Sarada charactrs for the writing of Sanskrit books are entirely different from the Devnagri Script. Before the introduction of paper in Kashmir, people used birch bark for literary writing and government correspondence. Sanskrit continued to hold ground for sometime even during the early Muslim rule, “Brahman class is very numberous. Although Kashmir has a dialect of its own, their learned books are in Sanaskrit language. They have a separate character which they use for manuscript work and they write on ‘Taz’ which is the bark of tree (Ain-i-Akbari, translated by Jerret.)
From early time, scholars and students from India trekked all along to Kashmir to complete their Sanskrit studies. Probably they received Patras or Certificates by the then Sanskrit University of Kashmir. The great seats of Sanskrit learning in Anciet Kashmir were at Sarda, now in Pakistan and at Vijeshwara, the present day Bijbehara. There used to be a great influx, and according to Kalhana, hostels and Viharas were erected, for the residence of scholars from different part of India by the ruling famalies. Queen Amrita Prabha ‘ caused a lofty Vihara called Amritabhavana to be constructed for the benefit of foregn students. (Raj, Book III, Verse 9). King Yasakara (936-48 A.D.) fond of endowments built on a piece of land a Matha for students from Arya Desha, who were devoting themselves to knowledge.” (Raj, Booj VI, Verse 87). Again Queen Dida (981-1003 A.D.) found a convent for people of Madyyadesha”. In addition, she built a Vihara for the people of plains. She built another convent for the residence of scholars from the plains.” (Raj, Book VI, Verse 300,301,302)
About the editor
Professor Dr. Krishan Lal Kalla (Pandit) has to his credit several books such as “Lalla Rookh, Glorious Heritage”, “Eminent Personalities of Kashmir” among his other works. A Gold Medalist Professor Kalla was associated with University of Jammu & Kashmir and Higher Education Department of vaious Colleges of the Jammu & Kashmir State. He also did research on Indo-logical topics at Sharada Peeth Reseach Institution, Karan Nagar, Srinagar under Dr. R.K. Kaw.
Information Courtesy: Gulshan Books. From the pages of “Kashmir Heritage”