The Splendor of Recognition

Avtar Mota
Now that so many scholars across the world are showing keen Interest in Kashmir’s Shaiv Darshana, it looks embarrassing to know that the younger generation and a vast section of Kashmiris in general are still ignorant about this glorious heritage of Kashmir. For a layman, Kashmir Shaiv Darshana appears too difficult to comprehend. Many people tend to believe so. Prof Meem Hai Zaffar disagrees and says, “No, it is easy to comprehend. I believe, because it has not been taught to us in our native language or mother tongue, that’s why it seems difficult. Everybody feels proud of this heritage but a few know what this really is all about. For me, Kashmir’s Shaiv Darshana is a great civilizational link to our past. It has a great promise for our future. Every individual and every society needs to know its roots. It gives a sense of historical continuity. Not only Shaivism but ancient intellectual and spiritual traditions are ingrained in the DNA of every Kashmiri. It is in his conduct, logic, art, poetry, behavior and thought process. How can he opt to remain ignorant about it? ”
We know about well known Italian Scholar Dr. Raffaele Torella in so far as Kashmir’s Shaiv Darshana, as propounded by Acharya Abhinavgupta, is concerned. There are others also known for their grand contribution in this field including scholars like Dr Jaffery S. Lidke, Dr Oscar Pujol, Bettina Sharada Bäumer, Mark Dykowski, Prof. Navjivan Rastogi, Dr Radha Vallabh Tripathi, A N D Haksar, and our own Dr Shashi Shekhar Toshkhani, Dr Mira Rastogi, Dr Rajnish Kumar Mishra, Prof. Kapil Kapoor and many more. A new individual entering this eminent group happens to be Prof. Meem Hai Zaffar who has recently translated Acharya Kshemraja’s Sutras titled ‘Pratibhigyan-Hridayam’ into Kashmiri Language as ‘Prazneth Hund Gaaash’ or ‘Splendor of Recognition’. This is Prof Meem Hai Zaffar’s second published work dealing with Kashmir’s Shaiv Darshana. Laudable are his previous efforts to translate Rishi Vasu Gupta’s Shiv Sutras into Kashmiri.
Before coming to the book, it is quite pertinent to say something about the author whom I happened to meet very recently. Prof. Meem Hai Zaffar (Ghulam Mustafa Khwaja) has been a student of Philosophy and has done his graduation, post graduation, followed by doctorate in Philosophy from Jaipur University. For his Doctorate thesis, well-known philosopher and eminent scholar Prof. Daya Krishna of Jaipur University has been his teacher and guide. Prof. Daya Krishna (1924-2007), who taught at USA and later Jaipur University, was a widely respected author of some monumental books on Indian philosophy, western philosophy and aesthetics.
“It was Daya Krishna who introduced me to Shiv-Sutras of Rishi Vasugupta. When I read these sutras, I changed my priorities. I studied Hindi and Sanskrit,” informs Prof. Zaffar who has recently completed his tenure as Professor at Jammu Central University’s ‘Centre for Comparative Religion and Civilization’. To my query about Swami Lakshman Joo, the renowned Shaiva Scholar from Kashmir, Prof. Zaffar said, “Yes I have met Swami Ji. I took one delegation to his Ashram possibly in 1985 or 1986. Now I regret why I didn’t meet Swami Ji earlier. He was a great sage and scholar, unusual combination. A torch bearer of Kashmir’s ancient wisdom.”
The present Book Titled ‘Prazneth Hund Gaaash’ or ‘Splendor of Recognition’ has been published by Centre for Comparative Religion and Civilization, Central University Jammu. This book comprises of twenty Sutras which have been translated into Kashmiri that comes in Devnagri and Nastalik scripts simultaneously .This double script is a great attempt to reach the constituency of expected readers. It is also intended to give the book a broad based readership.
In this book, 108 pages have been devoted exclusively to Devnagari segment while an equal number of pages are assigned to Nastaliq segment of the book. The book is dedicated to Nund Ryuosh (Sheikh Noor Ud Din Wali), the tallest Saint of Rishi order of Kashmir. All the Sutras are with detailed commentary in Kashmiri that simplifies them for a layman who is not well versed with Kashmir’s Shaiv Darshana.
In his commentaries and explanations against each Sutra, Prof Zaffar makes liberal use of Vaakhs of Lal Ded and Shruks of Nund Ryosh. He also refers to so many poetic couplets of Shamas Faquir, Sochha Kraal, Rahim Saeb of Sopore and many more Sufi poets of Kashmir. About these Sufi Poets of Kashmir, Prof Zaffar says, “We have not owned Sufi poets of Kashmir. If you study their background, you find most of them illiterate; a carpenter, a blacksmith, a labourer, a band-saw help, yet profoundly humanistic in approach. They jumped over their tight fences and not only peeped into other arenas but went far ahead. They owned and propagated our glorious Shaiv-Darshna, Bhakti -Vaad, blending it with Islamic Tassavuf, thereby strengthening the concept of ‘Sarve Bhavantu Sukhina’. The Shunyata or Nothingness that they talk about in their compositions is Rig Vedic in its origin, thought and content. You feel surprised to know that Samad Mir writes about Turiya (Pure consciousness of fourth state) in his poetry.”
The Sutras of the book under review have been translated into easily understandable Kashmiri language with simpler commentaries. For instance Sutra 6 ‘TANMAYO MAAYA PRAMAATA’ – A shrunken Chita or Mind takes birth in Maayajaal or illusions created by visible phenomenon. Prof. Zaffar clarifies that the source and summary of our mind is Shiva himself who happens to be vast and boundless by nature. To bring it to a shrunken state is to get it attached to Maayajaal. It is also a fact that our mind is the creator of Maayajaal or webs of illusions.
And then Maaya is also an energy that creates seen objects in this universe and also makes them visible. And it is mind alone that feels this Maaya and experiences it. But should the mind be made to run after the visible? Can a human being recognise himself by looking only at the visible? Can a human being experience the real and unending happiness unless he knows who he is? Doesn’t he need to experience the unseen or the invisible? These are some questions that get linked to this Sutra.
Prof. Zaffar’s beautiful explanation to Sutra 18 in the light of Acharya Utpaldeva’s ‘Pratibhigyan Kaarikaayi’, Acharya Abhinavgupta’s ‘Tantrloka’ and ‘Atharvaveda’ is convincing and illuminating. For this Sutra, he also uses poetic lines of Sufi poet Shamas Faquir (Joi Manz Basith Chhu Dariyaav or The river hides in a small stream) and Saint Poetess Lala Ded (Adha Lal Ba Vaatches Prakaash Dhaam or Then I Lala arrived at the place of Illumination).
A careful study of this translation clarifies some basic concepts of Shaiv Darshana, Trika Mat of Lal Ded, unity of mankind as propounded by Nund Ryosh and humanism of Kashmiri Sufi poets. The book is a peep into Kashmir’s glorious past that holds a great promise for the future.