The book The Slumberland of Kashmir authored by P K Badam is an addition to the rich treasure of books on Kashmir and describes, in brief, the history of Kashmir and touches its various aspects. It is a useful guide and source material for reference purpose. It is a fruitful book for the present and future generations of the Kashmiri society. The author’s aim is to educate and enlighten the younger generations of the Kashmiri community about the history of the state.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir has gone through turbulent times in its long and chequered history. The author presents a detailed account of the various features of the history of Kashmir right from its inception to the present times. It is a reference book for it is a source material for many features of the Kashmir history. The readers can very easily read it without much mental effort. They can enrich their knowledge about Kashmir and its turbulent history. The author believes that the readers will enjoy reading the book and feel satisfied. He has dedicated the book the Kashmiri Pandit community.
The Slumberland of Kashmir is divided into 15 parts and each part contains essays on the various facets of the Kashmir history. In Evolution of Kashmiri Society the author talks about the excavations undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India at Burzahama and other places. He also talks about Dravidian and Harrapan civilizations and how they originated. He mentions the hostility between Nagas and Pischas. He writes about the influx of Aryans and the changes it brought about in the situation. The earliest migrants of the Kashmir valley were Shardians. They were more advanced than the Nagas. Kashmiri Pandits are known as Saraswat Brahmins. They are the direct descendants of the Aryan civilization.
In the chapter Historical Background of Kashmir mentions Nilmata Purana, Kalhan Pandit’s Rajtarangini, Jonaraja, Sukka and other historians. Kashyap Rishi pioneered the Brahmanical society in Kashmir. Some historians believe that Kashmir has derived its name from Kashyap Mar. He mentions Arya Bhatt, Patanjali and others. Hinduism flourished in Kashmir before the advent of Buddhism. In the chapter Hindu Rule the author talks about Mahabharta, the Kings Damodar 1 and Damodar 2, King Ashoka and all others. Kashmir remained an independent Hindu State for a long time after Jayasimha. The formidable mountains of Kashmir saved the place from the attacks of Turks. Eleven kings ruled over Kashmir. One Dalucha, a Mangol chief, plundered the valley for eight months. The other kings were weak and incompetent. Renchana fled from Ladakh with hundreds of his armed men. Shah Mir, a Muslim adventurer, arrived in Kashmir with his relatives and friends. Renchana took over as the king in 1320. He gained the goodwill of Kota Rani by appointing her brother as a Minister. Kota Rani ruled for 22 years and sowed the seeds of decay of the Hindu rule. In the chapter Kashmiri Pandits Under Hindu Rule the author writes about Jayapida, Lalitaditya, king Harsha and Avantivarman. The reign of Avantivarman was a golden period in the history of Kashmir. In the chapter Muslim Rule the author writes in detail about the Muslim kings who ruled Kashmir and converted the Hindus to Islam. He writes about Mughals, Afghans and the Pathan rule and the persecution of Hindus at their hands. Afghan rule was a reign of brutal tyranny. Ahmad Shah Abdali was known for his brutalities. Many Pandits committed suicide. With the arrival of Sayeed Ali Shah Hamdani in 1372 the seeds of disharmony between the two communities were sown although the early period of Muslim rule in Kashmir was noted for amicable relations between the two communities. The arrival of Sayeed Ali Shah Hamdani brought irreparable loss to Pandits. They were forced to convert to Islam or to die or be dumped in the Dal Lake. Zain ul Ab Din’s rule was a golden period in the history of Kashmir. Emperor Aurangzeb inflicted untold atrocities on Hindus. With the end of his rule and that of the Afghans Kashmir heaved a sigh of relief. The defeat of Afghans in 1819 laid the foundation of Sikh rule in Kashmir. The State of J and K was restored to Maharaja Gulab Singh and he became the ruler. Cow slaughter was banned and temples which had been destroyed by the Muslim rulers were repaired. With the passage of time Dogra rule was established in the state. On the whole Pandits were happy under the Sikh rule and the Dogra rule.
Maharaja Gulab Singh became the first Dogra ruler of J and K state. He restored the law and order situation in the valley and brought about an improvement in the state administrative machinery. Corrupt officials were brought to book. During the Dogra rule there was all round development and significant progress in the state. The system of State Subject Certificates to the locals was introduced which protected their rights. Labour Board was established for the benefit of the Muslim labour with the help of Kashyap Bandhu, a social reformer. The Dogra rule ended with the partition of the country on 15 August in 1947.
P. K. Badam has listed all the blunders committed by India in handling the Kashmir issue. Besides, he writes about Nehru, Sardar Patel, Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Dr. B R Ambedkar and others who handled the Kashmir issue.
Part 3 of the book gives a description of the bane of terrorism and militancy in Kashmir, Pakistan’s role in promoting it and the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits.
In Part 4 P K Badam writes about the cultural history of Kashmir and its ethos. The chapter Persecution of Kashmiri Pandits is a detailed analysis of the history of the Pandit persecution. The forced exile of Kashmiri Pandits during 1989-90 is a tragic story. It can be labeled as genocide. Thousands of Pandits were killed. Those who survived fled to other places in the country and abroad.
In the chapter Literary Heritage of Kashmir the author writes in detail about the poets who wrote poetry and contributed to literature and culture. He has listed all poets, scholars and historians and their works. He introduces Nilmata Purana, Rajatarangini and other texts to the new generation. He has written an interesting essay on Sir Aurel Stein and his contribution to literary heritage of Kashmir. In the interesting and informative chapter Origin of Kashmiri Pandit Surnames he gives the origin and meanings of the surnames of Pandits. Political Awakening in Kashmir details the rise of Muslims in the valley and their leadership. The author writes about the media in Kashmir. He has named the newspapers and journals published and the radio and TV programmes broadcast regularly.
Kashmir is known for its architectural and artistic attainments and for its contribution to philosophy, religion and literature. The valley abounds in masterpieces of art, design and workmanship. Temples, forts and other monuments are an important link between the state’s past and its present. The author has written in detail about the Kashmiri language and the poets, authors and researchers who added to it. He mentions Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit and other languages and scripts and their evolution and contribution.
In Part 9 of the book the author writes in detail about the establishment of Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, the Institute of Kashmir Studies. He also says how the Pakistani Rock Band Janoon and Zubin Mehta performed in Srinagar to delight the audience.
In Part 10 of the book P K Badam writes about Parmeshwari’s marriage, the agitation and its failure. P K Badam says that ‘from time immemorial it (Kashmir) has been a land of peace and amity and that is why it is also known as slumberland’. Actually ‘slumberland’ is an imaginary land described to children as the place they enter during sleep. This reviewer has some reservation about the title of the book. There are some typographical errors in the book which mar it. The words ‘Part 4’ have been repeated. Much space is devoted to some persons whereas less space is devoted to others. The author’s ideals are those of the Kashmiri Pandit middle class whom he represents and about whom he writes. The youths can come to know about those Pandits who have made tremendous contribution to the Kashmiri Pandit culture, architecture, philosophy and religion.