Kashmir Diary – The Sufi Soul, Srinagar
The unhappy land.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Situated on the southern side of the Hari Parbat hill, the Sufi dargah of Makhdoom Sahib offers the most spectacular views of the old town.
The Delhi Walla is in Srinagar, Kashmir’s capital.
The valley is considered a land of Sufis. The old Srinagar is dotted with dozens of dargahs.
In a paper for Carnegie project on “Globalization, National self-determination, and Terrorism”, development economist Deepak Lal, writes:
The Kashmir valley, which had been predominantly Hindu, was converted to Sufi Islam in the 14th century. The syncretic Hindu-Muslim culture which resulted was a mixture of mystical Hindu Vedantism and Islamic Sufism. The concept of Kashmiriyat stresses the commonality between the Hindus and Muslims of the valley, as “there was enough in common between Vedantism and Sufism – the unity of the Divine, equality, rejection of both the ego and materialism, as well as idolatory – to make this possible.” Kashmiriyat is thus a culture of synthesis, understanding and humanism. Thus whenever fundamentalists of either religion, supported by one of Kashmir’s changing rulers, have sought to enforce their habits of the heart on the people, the Kashmiris have rebelled. Also, tellingly, Kashmir was the only part of India with a mixed Hindu-Muslim population which did not see communal rioting during the 1947 partition of the subcontinent.
In the 1990s, the militancy movement with its dominant Islamic character used violence to secede from India. Many Kashmiri Hindus were forced to flee the valley. The abandoned Pandit houses in Srinagar were converted by the Indian army into barracks.
The Kashmiri Hindus continue to live in the squalid refugee camps of India.
Today, there is a new threat to Kashmir’s Kashmiriyat.
In its issue dated 31 March 2012, the Delhi-based newsweekly Tehelka reports:
Wahhabis. Deobandis. Tablighi Jamaat. Orthodox outfits have been turning the valley into a bastion of puritanical Islam. But the Sufis are fighting back to regain their moorings.
The article was headlined: The fight for Kashmir’s soul
Back in the dargah of Makhdoom Sahib, the courtyard is crowded with pigeons. The golden rays of the evening sun are piercing through dark clouds. There are few devotees.
Scenes from Makhdoom Sahib’s Dargah