Great men and women of letters, religion and morality born and bred here have found inspiration from natures bequests and scaled great heights in their spiritual journeys, leaving behind timeless lessons for humanity on how to forge its relationship with the world. In a way, this intellectual debt has been acknowledged time and again in poetry and prose, with some going to the extent of attributing the noblest verses sung here to the portraiture of nature. Ancient sites excavated during the twentieth century, too, also an indication of the strong affinity people of Kashmir had with their land. This is also reflected in literature, whatever the language in vogue in different periods of the regions history.
Hafeez Jalandhari compared portraying Kashmir to drawing streams of milk from the rocks of Mount Bistun. The warp and woof of Ghani Kashmirs poetry is nothing but the beauty of Kashmir. Even poets like Thomas Moore and Mirza Ghalib, who have never visited Kashmir but read of it in books, or heard of it from others, have produced masterpieces in glowing tributes to this land. Thomas Moore introduced Kashmir to the world thus: Who has not heard of the Vale of Cashmere/ With its roses the brightest that earth ever gave. Mirza Ghalib put it thus: Mirs poetry is beyond description; it is no less than the garden of Kashmir. Pandit Narayan Chakbast said: Every speck of my Kashmir is exceedingly hospitable; even the wayside stones offered me water to drink. European travellers who visited Kashmir have praised this land in most beautiful prose.
Love for nature and its preservations were deeply ingrained in the local psyche. Much before the Vedic period, people here were nature worshippers. They saw gods and goddesses in different manifestations of nature and held them in high esteem. For them, preserving nature was the greatest religious duty. And this is said to have been so far thousands of years.
Assuming that Kashmir today has even average awareness of how highly such elements figure in its lore, both recorded and transmitted by word of mouth, is there even a tinge of a sense of loss at what has been wrought? What would the verdict be today if some outsider arrived for inspiration for his creativity? Would anyone find a resonance, or even a fleeting resemblance, with what had been described so graphically barely a hundred years ago? Given their aspirations in life, and how they translate into the physical world, would present-day Kashmiris be remembered as lovers of nature? No one should be surprised if the undeniably talented artists and writers of today sing no odes.
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