Kashmir, or the ‘paradise on earth’ is surrounded by beautiful mountains. The mountains are the protectors of the people of Kashmir. It was through these mountains, different religions and cultures came into the valleys of Kashmir. The history of Kashmir was always a diverse one as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam had an important impact on its people. The history of Kashmir also reveals the co-existence of Sufiism and Rishism suggesting the valley was tolerant and peaceful.
Influence of Hinduism in the History of Kashmir
According to Kalhana’s Rajatrangini and Nilamatpurana, the valley Kashmir was a big lake of Sati (the Hindu Goddess Durga) and was known as Satisar. Jalodbhava, a ferocious demon, misused his powers to terrorize the people in his surroundings. The great sage Kashyapa practiced penance for a long time to get rid of this demon. Feeling passionate towards Kashayapa, the Hindu trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh drained the water from the lake and Goddess Sharika dropped a pebble on the demon, which became a hillock crushing the evil creature. Thus, the land emerged from the lake. It was then known to be Kashyap Mar, later as Kashmira and now as Kashmir.
According to Hindu mythology, the Hindu rulers and the Hindu culture had a great impact on the history of Kashmir. Hindu Civilisation and Shaivaite Culture dominated Kashmir from the fifth to the twelfth century. Ashoka conquered Kashmir in 250 BCE and established Kashmir. Some of the Brahmins in Kashmir became the missionaries of Buddhism and started preaching the religion. Buddhism stayed in Kashmir for nine centuries. Art, culture, and knowledge flourished under Shaivism and Buddhism in Kashmir.
Impact of Islam on the History of Kashmir.
Islam became a dominant religion in Kashmir in the 13th century. Renchen Shah adopted Islam in Kashmir. Initially, Shah was from Laddakh, but unfavorable political conditions drove him to Kashmir. Bulbul Shah, who was a Sayed from Turkistan influenced Renchen Shah to convert to Islam. Renchen Shah built Bulbul Lanker (Bulbul Shah’s residence) and the first mosque in Kashmir. Conversion to Islam gained pace with the emergence of Sufis and Sayeds in Kashmir. Mir Sayyid Ali Hamdani, who came from Hamdan in Persia was one of the most prominent Sayed. He played a vital role in the mass conversion of the people of Kashmir to Islam. Shad-i-Hamdani brought with himself economic resources as around seven hundred Sayeds came with him. These Sayeds were great craftsmen and artisans and were experts in carpet weaving and paper mashie.
Sheikh Nur-ud-din or Nund Rishi was a significant figure in the history of Kashmir. He wrote the Kashmiri Quran. He brought the indigenous mystic order of Muslim Rishis. The Kashmiri Pandits and Kashmiri Muslims admired this idea. Thus, he introduced Kashmiriyat (Kashmir secular identity). Nur-ud-din also contributed to the synthesis of Hindu and Islamic religions, which accelerated the conversion to Islam. However, the spread of Islam was not always peaceful. For example, Sultan Sikander also known as Bhushikan (the one who broke idols), was against idol worship. He wanted to eliminate the Hindu religion from the valley. This led many Hindus to leave the valley and many lost their lives.
Chaks and Moguls ruled Kashmir for a long period. Akbar, the famous Mughal Emperor, built many monuments in Kashmir including Hari Prabhat Fort. The Moguls were aesthetic in their nature and constructed many beautiful gardens in Kashmir. After the Mughals, Afghans ruled Kashmir and were oppressive in their nature. Not able to bear the oppression, the Pandits of Kashmir sought help from the Sikhs. Sikhs subsequently ruled Kashmir and then the British sold it to the Dogras. It was under the Dogra rule; that the state of Jammu and Kashmir came into existence.