Kashmiri people

Kashmiri people

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The Kashmiri people are a Dardic linguistic group living in Kashmir Valley in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n state of Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir is the northernmost state of India. It is situated mostly in the Himalayan mountains. Jammu and Kashmir shares a border with the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to the south and internationally with the People's Republic of China to the north and east and the...

 and parts of the Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

i territory of Azad Kashmir
Azad Kashmir
Azad Jammu and Kashmir or Azad Kashmir for short, is the southernmost political entity within the Pakistani-administered part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir...

 who speak the Kashmiri language
Kashmiri language
Kashmiri is a language from the Dardic sub-group and it is spoken primarily in the Kashmir Valley, in Jammu and Kashmir. There are approximately 5,554,496 speakers in Jammu and Kashmir, according to the Census of 2001. Most of the 105,000 speakers or so in Pakistan are émigrés from the Kashmir...

. Kashmiri is "a Northwestern Dardic language
Dardic languages
The Dardic languages are a sub-group of the Indo-Aryan languages spoken in northern Pakistan, eastern Afghanistan, and the Indian region of Jammu and Kashmir...

 of the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Iranian subfamily of the Indo-European language family." which is also known as Koshur.

History


Originally, the Kashmiris were mostly Hindus or Buddhist. Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 was introduced by Sufi saints from Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

, Hazrat Bulbul Shah of Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 and Hazrat Shah Hamadan of Hamadan
Hamadan
-Culture:Hamadan is home to many poets and cultural celebrities. The city is also said to be among the world's oldest continuously inhabited cities.Handicrafts: Hamadan has always been well known for handicrafts like leather, ceramic, and beautiful carpets....

, being the most prominent of them. Prince Rinchin of Ladakh
Ladakh
Ladakh is a region of Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost state of the Republic of India. It lies between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent...

, a Buddhist who was living in Jammu & Kashmir at the time came under the influence of Saint Bulbul Shah and converted to Islam. Later on, after the defeat of the Hindu ruler Suhadeva or suhadave [red giant] by Dulchu, Rinchin became King of Jammu & Kashmir and adopted the name Malik Saduruddin after converting. The Islamic influence on the Kashmiri population resulted in Islamic conversions. A majority of Kashmiri Pandits converted to Islam and became Muslims during the reign of Alamgir Aurangzeb. However, there are still communities of Hindus and Sikhs living in the Kashmir Valley, the former being known as Kashmiri Pandits.

Kashmiri Pandits


Kashmiri Pandits traditionally refers to people in the Brahmin
Brahmin
Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...

 caste
Caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

 (priests are sub-caste of the Brahmins, thus not all Brahmns are priests) of Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

. They are speculated of as being descendants of Saraswat Brahmin
Saraswat Brahmin
The Saraswats are a Brahmin caste of India.- History :According to the legend, Saraswat Brahmins are Brahmins who lived on the banks of the former Saraswati River that once flowed in northern India. Although it is said that at Prayag the three rivers meet or met.the fact is that the Saraswati never...

s, who are mentioned in ancient Hindu scriptures as inhabiting the Sarasvati River
Sarasvati River
The Sarasvati River is one of the chief Rigvedic rivers mentioned in ancient Hindu texts. The Nadistuti hymn in the Rigveda mentions the Sarasvati between the Yamuna in the east and the Sutlej in the west, and later Vedic texts like Tandya and Jaiminiya Brahmanas as well as the Mahabharata...

 valley, the geographic location of which is unknown. The actual origins of this community and the circumstances of its relocation to the areas that they now inhabit are not fully known, though it is known that they are not originally from South Asia. Saraswat Brahmins are originally from what is today Kashmir
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

, but can also be traced into Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

 and as far as Sindh
Sindh
Sindh historically referred to as Ba'ab-ul-Islam , is one of the four provinces of Pakistan and historically is home to the Sindhi people. It is also locally known as the "Mehran". Though Muslims form the largest religious group in Sindh, a good number of Christians, Zoroastrians and Hindus can...

 in southern Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

. They were usually skilled in Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 and Vedic
Vedic
Vedic may refer to:* the Vedas, the oldest preserved Indic texts** Vedic Sanskrit, the language of these texts** Vedic period, during which these texts were produced** Vedic pantheon of gods mentioned in Vedas/vedic period...

 law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

, religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

, music
Music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

 or philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

. Most Kashmiri Muslims are the descendants of these Brahmins. They have the earliest recorded history in Kashmir and have also been mentioned in the Mahabharata
Mahabharata
The Mahabharata is one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India and Nepal, the other being the Ramayana. The epic is part of itihasa....

.

Conversion to Islam


Islam had swayed over vast territories around Kashmir, and the new faith had made its entry gradually into Kashmir. By the 14th century, Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 gradually became the dominant religion in Kashmir Valley, starting with the conversion in 1323 of Rincana, the first king of a new dynasty from Ladakh, at the hands of the famous saint, Bulbul Shah. After conversion to Islam He named Himself as MALIK SADUR-UD-DIN .The First ever Muslim Ruler of Kashmir. He was subsequently liquidated by the Kashmiris. The majority of the Brahmins of Kashmir (Pandits) converted into Islam and a few from Afghanistan and Iran also settled in Kashmir and vice-versa. Many of these people retain their identity. The Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s and Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

s of Kashmir lived in relative harmony as under the Sufi (Islam) and Reshi (Hindu) tradition of Kashmir. Other Kashmiri rulers such as Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin
Zain-ul-Abidin
Sultan Ghiyas-ud-Din Zain-ul-Abidin was a sultan of Kashmir in the present day Jammu and Kashmir state of India. Mohibbul Hasan has said that "Of all the Sultans who sat on the throne of Kashmir, Zain-ul-Abidin was undoubtedly the greatest .....

, were tolerant of all religions in a manner comparable to Akbar. In the late 18th century during the reign of Emperor Alamgir
Alamgir
Alamgir may refer to:*Alamgir I, also known as Aurangzeb, ruler of the Mughal Empire 1658–1707*Alamgir II, ruler of the Mughal Empire 1754–1759*Alamgir Hashmi, English avant-garde poet*Alamgir , a pioneer of pop music in Pakistan...

, many converted to Islam. Today, many people are Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s, although some (Kashmiri Pandits) still practice Hinduism
Hinduism
Hinduism is the predominant and indigenous religious tradition of the Indian Subcontinent. Hinduism is known to its followers as , amongst many other expressions...

.

Drought of 1800


During 1800, a massive drought swept across Kashmir
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

, which caused many in the region to migrate out of the Kashmir Valley, and south of the Jehlum River into what the Punjab region
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

. Those who migrated entered mainly into agriculture
Agriculture
Agriculture is the cultivation of animals, plants, fungi and other life forms for food, fiber, and other products used to sustain life. Agriculture was the key implement in the rise of sedentary human civilization, whereby farming of domesticated species created food surpluses that nurtured the...

, and by the 1820s, after the drought passed, many of the Kashmiri immigrants returned to the Kashmir Valley. Some, however, remained in Punjab as they had settled comfortably. Some chose to continue migrating southwards, eventually settling in the old city of Lahore
Lahore
Lahore is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the second largest city in the country. With a rich and fabulous history dating back to over a thousand years ago, Lahore is no doubt Pakistan's cultural capital. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Lahore remains a...

 mainly at Delhi gate
Delhi Gate
The Delhi Gate is located within Walled City of Lahore in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. Delhi Gate was built during the Mughal period and is one of thirteen gates of the Inner City. The area near the gate is a historical place, in which a number of old buildings, havelis and markets are located...

 and Bhatti gate.

Culture


The social structure is based on the extended family
Extended family
The term extended family has several distinct meanings. In modern Western cultures dominated by nuclear family constructs, it has come to be used generically to refer to grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins, whether they live together within the same household or not. However, it may also refer...

. However the wider kinship
Kinship
Kinship is a relationship between any entities that share a genealogical origin, through either biological, cultural, or historical descent. And descent groups, lineages, etc. are treated in their own subsections....

 network of biraderi and how it impacts on relations and mobilization is equally important. The extended family is of fundamental importance as a unit of decision making and with respect to the relations of its members with wider society. The institution of biraderi*mdash;which loosely means brotherhood—provides a useful collective framework for promoting mutual well-being. This is achieved through help and co-operation in social
Social
The term social refers to a characteristic of living organisms...

, economic and political spheres and it reinforces a sense of belonging and collective self-assurance.

Languages


Those who reside in the Kashmir Valley speak Koshur which is classified as part of the Dardic sub-group of the Indo-Aryan languages. These people include the Muslims of the Valley.

Ethnic variation as shown by linguistics




The population living in the Kashmir Valley is Dardic speaking
Dardic languages
The Dardic languages are a sub-group of the Indo-Aryan languages spoken in northern Pakistan, eastern Afghanistan, and the Indian region of Jammu and Kashmir...

. They are different in culture, language and ethnic origin from the peoples of Azad Kashmir
Azad Kashmir
Azad Jammu and Kashmir or Azad Kashmir for short, is the southernmost political entity within the Pakistani-administered part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir...

. The people living in Ladakh are primarily Buddhist and of Tibetan origins.

Genetics


Although, the Kashmiri people are classified as a Dardic ethno-linguistic group, they share genetic markers with neighboring populations. The primary groups are the Pashtuns to the north-west and west and Punjabis to the south and southwest.

Further reading

  • Kashmir Return of Democracy By Yodhishter Kahul, Yudhistar ed Kahol
  • The Crisis in Kashmir: Portents of War, Hopes of Peace By Šumit Ganguly

See also


  • Kashmiri Pandit
    Kashmiri Pandit
    The Kashmiri Pandits are a Hindu Brahmin community originating from Kashmir, a mountainous region in South Asia.-Background:The Hindu caste system of the region was influenced by the influx of Buddhism from the time of Asoka, around the third century BCE, and a consequence of this was that the...

    s
  • List of Kashmiris