F M Hassnain: A Great Chronicler

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Prof Fida Muhammad Khan Hassnain an archaeologist and a historian who later turned into a mystic passed away on July 9, 2016 Saturday in Srinagar.

He was born in 1924 in Srinagar, the child of schoolteachers. His father fought with the British Indian forces in the Boer War in South Africa in 1902. 

Fida Hassnain graduated from the University of Punjab and the Aligarh Muslim University, and became a barrister, but the events surrounding the partition of colonial British India made him lose faith in the law, and after a short period of social work he became a lecturer in 1947 at the Sri Patrap (SP) College in Srinagar. 

In 1954, he became Director of the Kashmir State Archives, retiring in 1983.His study tours resulted in the salvaging of several hundred manuscripts in Arabic, Sanskrit and Persian, which were housed in the Archives and Oriental Research Libraries. 

As an archaeologist, he has conducted several excavations.He has written several books on the subject of Lost years of Jesus and Kashmir, which have been translated into Spanish, Italian, Polish, and Japanese. 

Prof Hassnain remained associated with the Kashmir Observer from its inception contributing hundreds of columns on heritage, Sufi’sm and culture.As a humble tribute to the departed soul we reproduce two of his select writings here.

SEE GOD WITH THE EYES OF YOUR HEART

Your consciousness is your inner voice and it is the voice of God. Surrender yourself to the will of God. Live in love and harmony. Love God and love his creation. This body of yours is a temple of God, use it for his glorification. To know something is not the same thing as to see it, or to live with it. Search God and you will find something at his gate of love.

Remember him with every breath of your life. He will remember you when you remember him. He will take you to the centre of love when you call him. Call him by any name with closed eyes and relax in solitude. If you feel any difficulty, come to your Murshid (master) and be consoled.

Remember the words of Quran: “Believe in that which has been revealed to thee and that which was revealed before thee and every nation had a messenger.” And Mahabharata said: “This is the sum of duty: Do not do unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.” An edict of Asoka read:

Promote what constitutes the essence of all religions. Don’t criticise others. Come together in religious gatherings. Master scriptures of other religions.

To a Sufi, love is the foundation of his philosophy and action. Purify yourself by constantly keeping the vision of God before you. If you have not seen God, then think of your father or mother. Love humanity and human beings. Be a Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh, Hebrew, Buddhist all at the same time.

Your religion, your creed is love. Remember that if you are a true believer, you not only believe what you know but what others know and believe. For you, none is pagan or infidel. All the children of God believe in their Father and know him as such.

In my opinion, if you do not love human beings, you do not love God. If you do not recognise his creatures, you do not recognise God. See God with the eyes of your heart!

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Hail! Shah-e-Hamadan!

Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani (1314-1385) is renowned in Kashmir as Bani Musalmani or the Crescentader who brought them en-masse within the fold of Islam. In fact, it was his Sufi massage of love, harmony, and brotherhood which made Islam popular among the Kashmiris. 

While giving the spiritual message, he did not ignore the material needs of his disciples. He imported about seven hundred craftsmen from Central Asia for introducing several handicrafts which were not know to the people. 

Kar-i-Qalam-dani or Paper-Machie; Khatum-band or Ornamental wooden ceiling; Calligraphy; Shawls, Paper making: Namdas or felt carpets, and some metal and leather crafts came from Samarkand, Kashgar, Yarkand, Khotan, Hamadan, and Mashad. Kashmir had its own tradition of embroidery and needle work, carpet weaving, tile making, metal work, wood work but the arri-val of mas-ter craftsm-en resulted in introducing new forms, technique and orientation. 

After having absorbed creative influences, the Kashmiri artisans reached the highest pinnacles of glory. The credit for making Kashmir handicrafts renowned in the world goes primarily to Mr. Sayyid Ali Hamadani and afterwards to Sultan Zain-al-abidin Budshah (1420-1470) of Kashmir. However, Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani is considered nation – builder of the Kashmiris. Allama Iqbal Lahori lauds the achievements of Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani in these verses: “This great Master from Iran, who was a direct descendent of the Holy Prophet, worked like a mason to build the fate of Kashmiri nation. Great and magnanimous as he was, he gave them education, wisdom, culture and religion. 

He was a dignified mentor of this beautiful Valley – a dervish for the poor and an advisor to the Sultans. The people of this “Little Iran” learnt arts and crafts through his guidance, thus obtaining fame in the world.” Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani deputed his chief disciples to various parts of the Valley, for establishment of the Sufi communes, known as Khanqahas. These became the centres of the economic, social, cultural and spiritual activities of the Akhis or the Sufi brotherhood. At these centres, the Akhis would carry on producing works of arts and crafts and engage themselves in economic activities. They would conduct the Sufi practices for their personal spiritual elevation and for the benefit of others. 

These spiritual exercises included Ashgal or Sufi therapy exercises, Zikr or incantation are recitation, Muragabah or meditation and same or whirling.

Common cultural links between Kashmir and Central Asia

It is a historical fact that Kashmir was occupied by Kushanas, Huns, Mongols, Greeks and Turks, during various periods of its history. In this connection mention may be made of Mihrakula, Havishka, Jushka, Kanishka, Zolchoo, and Haider Duglat, who ruled over Kashmir. In the first century we expanded our culture in the Central Asian region, which came to be known as the Mahayana Buddhism. Variochana was the first Kashmiri Buddhist missionary, who built the first Buddhist Vihara, at Khotan in Central Asia. Another world famous Kashmir Buddhist sayant, who propagated and popularised Buddhism in China, had first established himself at Kucha in Central Asia. His name was Kamarajiva, who was born at Chandigam, Lolab, Kashmir in about 34 A.D. It is evident that our cultural expansion into Central Asia began in the Ist. century and continued even upto the 4th century A.D.

It is important to note here that Islam made its advent headway into Kashmir, not from the land of its origin but from Central Asia. It was Brahamraja, who invited the seven Turk princes for an attack on Kashmir. Subsequently, Harsha (1101) the famous king of Kashmir, came under the influence of the Islamic culture. It were the Muslim saints from Central Asia, who popularised Islam in Kashmir. In this connection mention may be made of the famous savants, like Mir Syed Ali Hamdani and Mir Sayed Mohammad Hamdani, both from Iran in Central Asia, who introduced Islamic culture and thought in the valley of Kashmir. We had given Buddhist culture and thought to Central Asia in the first century, and it came back to us in the shape of Islam. However it was Islam which completed the process of blending of cultures in the valley. Our composite culture is Buddhist, Shaivist and Islamic at the same time and it is central Asia, which has helped us in creating such a blended culture.

Two of our greatest rulers, Lalitaditya (761) and Shihab-ud-din extended their away over certain parts of Central Asia. It was Zain-ul-Abidin (-1471), who imported Central Asian arts and crafts into the valley for which Kashmir has become famous throughout the world. Arts and crafts like, paper making, paper machie, carpet weaving, wood carving, named making and other crafts were imported into Kashmir from Central Asia. We even borrowed their music and instruments. Sufi thought penetrated into Kashmir from Central Asia. Thus it is evident that Central Asia has not only influenced Kashmir in religious thought but has expanded its arts and crafts into Kashmir Archeological excavations in Central Asia and Kashmir reveal our close historical and cultural links.

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Prophet Ezekiel’s visit to Kashmir

The Kashmiris excelled in architecture during the period ending the 12th century A.D. The archaeological remains at Awantipur, Martand, Taper, Mattan and Parihaspur are the most remarkable existing monuments in India. 

The Kashmiris re-arranged the motifs they had ready at hand into a new artistic combination which was so beautiful and at the same time so dignified that it fixed for all succeeding centuries the ideal of what a temple for the God should be. This splendid architecture of Kashmir is our most treasured heritage.

The book of the Prophet Ezekiel inform us about his air travel in a space-craft and visiting several places, prominent among them is his visit to the Temple, Eric Von Daniken has come out with a a book on the subject. It is for our young researchers to see the description of the Temple in the old testament and then make their own conclusions. 

I can only testify that I and Daniken did find twinkling of ultra-violet rays, right from the Sancho-Sanctum to the gate, which hints to the use of atomic fuel by Ezekiel. It is for our scientists to check this radiation in the Martand Temple (See Eric Von Daniken. 

According to the evidence, Corgi Books, London, 1978, Blumrich: The Spaceship of Ezekiel, Corgi Books, 1974)

The Greeks of Kashmir

Te Nila-mata-Purana, a 6th century work speaks about the emergence of valley out of a lake and the settlement by the 14 tribes. One of the tribes among these is that of the Yavanas, who came along with the Khashas or the Kassites of Mesopotamia, the Pahlavas or the Prthians. Now, these Yavanas or no other than the Unanis or the Greeks, who introduced Yunani system of medicine. It is evident that we Kashmiris have in us Greek blood also.

The Greek period in the history of Kashmir is completely shrouded in mystery. However, it has been, now established through the evidence we found both archeological and numismatic that at the time of Alexandar’s invasion, Kashmir formed a part of Gandhara. This country came under the influence of the Achaemenid and the Greek Kings. It may be stated that in the latter half of the 6th century B.C Achaeminian monarchy rose to power in Persia under the leadership of Cyrus. He is believed to have subjugated Gand-hara. In Kashmir are found the Kactrian, the Seythian and the Parathion coins.

During the 6th century B.C; the Achaemenian monarchy rose to power in Persia, Afghanistan and other regions of the northern India under the leadership of Cyrus the Great. The valley of Kashmir, which formed a part of Gandhara, came under the influence of the Bactrains, the Scythians and the Parthians. Alexander the great marched his armies into India in the beginning of 326 B.C. After his departure, many small Greak over-loverlords, who established their small kingdoms in Kashmir, owed their allegiance to their masters in the beginning but after laps of some time and, when the central rule had weekend, they assumed independent posture. It was during their rule that the cultural traditions and art of Rome Byzantium, Syria and Persia travelled to Kashmir. The Sun Temple of Kashmir has its crossest links with the Temple of the Sun at Baalbeck in Lebanon. Similar foreign influences can be traced in the constructional style of Takht-e-Sulaiman, and Buddhist Terra-Cottas of Harwan, Ushkar and Akhnur. The Kharoshti inscriptions and statues found by the author in the Lolab valley and numerous Greek coins preserved in the Srinagar Museum, all point out to the factual existence of the Greeks in Kashmir. It was during the rule of the Greeks that Buddhism was introduced in Kashmir.

The following are the Greek kings, whose coins have been located in Kashmir.

1. Euthudemos. 220. B.C.

2. Eukratidos. 175 B.C.

3. Apollodotos. 

4. Menandrou.

5. Nikephoro-antimakhos.

6. Soteros.

7. Megalou-Azou.

8. Basileos Basileon Megalon Azon.

9. Megalou Azilison.

10. Spali-risou.

11. Abada-gasou.

The Greeks made donations to the Buddhist Sangha, erected stupas over the sacred relics, constructed virharas and installed images in them.

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