Kashmir - Exposing the Myth behind the Narrative

Kashmir: Exposing the Myth behind the Narrative attempts to blow away the fog over the realities of Kashmir and questions the ‘facts’ that have traditionally populated the mythology of the existing narrative. It analyses the Kashmiri Pandit community narrative in the light of historical material and digs out many fallacies by cross-referencing, as is done in widely accepted practices of historiography. The research for the book pits opposite interpretations of same events which have been twisted out of context against what they actually were about. It dissects the stereotype created by historians and others, who have hammered in ahistorical perceptions over a long period of time, by providing suitable representations of some facts and myths through a dispassionate contextual reading of them. Due care has been taken to glean facts from authentic sources and sufficiently reference the arguments. This work is supported by over one thousand references. The objective is to tell fact from fiction and look at events as they occurred, rather than as they have been told. The historical facts discussed here have been overlooked or kept under wraps for a very long

From the book
Why I picked this book?

Kashmir has always intrigued me, and I always wanted to know and understand more about Kashmir and the ongoing conflict. And to do that I try to read as much as I can about Kashmir from various sources. This book is also an attempt to know more and understand the myths surrounding Kashmir and to understand the reasons why and how the “myths” came into being.

the book

Kashmir – Exposing the Myth Behind the Narrativeit takes the readers into a journey of how Kashmir came into being. The author starts with the mythology and history of Kashmir starting from the Nilamata Purana, an anonymous text in verse dealing with tirthas, rituals and ceremonies of Kashmir which was written somewhere between 6th to 8th century. And then moving on Rajatarangini by Kalhan, written in 12th century by Kalhan. He talks about the various rulers that have ruled Kashmir over the years before Britishers came to India, the Sikh Rule, Dogra Rule, India’s independence, post-independence issues in Kashmir, the unrest in the 90s, the migration of Pandits and the tole of media in all this.

The author, Khalid Basheer starts from the beginning giving the readers a perspective of the common mythological view of the existence of Kashmir. He talks about Kalhan, and especially his writing prowess but at the same time tells us that Rajatarangani is a combination of history and the imagination of Kalhan, who wrote it and can’t be considered a purely historical document as some tend to believe. The author considers Kalhan more of a literary great than a historian and he substantiate it by providing logical arguments.

Khalid argues that the historians after Kalhan provided a skewed view and completely miss the development like rise of Islam and downfall of elite Brahmins. The general narrative that we get to know is that Islamic rule was barbaric, and the Islamic rulers killed and converted many Kashmiri Pandits, Khalid breaks this myth and asserts that the conversion to Islam was a gradual process as opposed to mass conversion or killing of Kashmiri Pandits. There are many insights that one would get to know about the last thousand years.

The common narrative that we get to hear is that Kashmiri Pandits were the victims of Islamic rule and have gone through a lot. The author on the contrary says that Kashmiri Pandits were always the elite, and they were always close to the power, be it Sikhs or Muslims or Dogras. They always held the top positions in the courts and always considered them different from the Hindus from the rest of the Indian subcontinent. There is complete chapter named “power” in the book which tells us how irrespective of the ruler the pandits held top positions in the court and government by virtue of their education.

Khalid takes down point by point the myths prevailing regarding Kashmir and breaks them with his logical arguments and documentary evidence. From history to the present times, he says that there is inherent bias in writing about the history and people of Kashmir. He gives a detailed account of various such instances and events. This is more so in the current times where it is to the advantage of the right wing to create a discord among the Hindus and Muslims and Kashmir and Kashmiri Pandits are used to fan the anger and hatred.

A very well researched and written book to give the readers an understanding of Kashmir and people living in Kashmir Valley. Taking the readers back to the times when as per legends and mythology Kashmir came into being to the present times and in between, the author talks about the prevalent narrative about Kashmir tells us why it is problematic.

About The Author

Khalid Bashir Ahmad is an author, poet and a former Kashmir Administrative Services (KAS) officer. He has served the State Administration as Director Information and Public Relations and Secretary, J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, besides heading the departments of Libraries and Research, and Archives, Archaeology and Museums. His book Jhelum: The River Through My Backyard has added the Jhelum Factor to the history of Kashmir. His two works in Urdu poetry and prose have won the highest State literary award in 1984 and 2010.

Our Verdict

Kashmir – Exposing the Myth Behind the Narrative is a must-read for anyone who is interested to know more about Kashmir and its history. Anyone who is interested in the socio political environment of Kashmir will surely find this book insightful and informative.

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