صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

Abu-l-Fazl's account

of Tirthas.

32. It is a curious fact that among our authorities for the Topographia sacra of Kaśmir we must allow a conspicuous place to a Muhammadan writer. It is ABU-L-FAZL, the minister of Akbar, who in the chapter of his Ain-i Akbari dealing with the 'Sarkar of Kashmir' has left us a very accurate account of many of the holy places in the Valley. Abu-l-Fazl's detailed description of Kasmir is valuable in many respects to the historical student. But it is particularly in connection with our topographical search that we must feel grateful to the author for having like his great master "caught some of the enthusiasm of the Valley" (Rennell).

Abu-1-Fazl tells us that "the whole country is regarded as holy ground by the Hindu sages." He also refers in general terms to the numerous shrines dedicated to the various deities and to the popular worship of snakes,' i.e., the Nāgas, "of whom wonderful stories are told." He then proceeds to describe in detail the most notable sites, giving among these particular prominence to what Dr. Bernier aptly called 'les merveilles' of the country.

This account of Abu-l-Fazl represents for us an authentic survey of all the Kasmirian Tirthas that were well-known and popular at the end of the 16th century. It serves as a most useful link between our older texts dealing with these pilgrimage places and the modern tradition. It helps us to check the data of the Mahatmyas in many particulars of topographical interest. Abu-l-Fazl's notes have enabled me to trace in more than one instance the position of ancient Tirthas or particular features regarding them which have since his time been wholly forgotten. It cannot be doubted that Abu-l-Fazl's list of sacred sites to which we have to refer so frequently in our subsequent notes, was supplied by competent Brahman informants just as his abstract of the Sanskrit Chronicles.

1 Vol. i. pp. 564-570 in Prof. Blochmann's edition of the Ain-i Akbarī; vol. ii. pp. 354-366 in the Bibliotheca Indica translation of the work (Col. H. S. Jarrett). Abi-1-Fazl's account of Kasmir would well deserve a fuller commentary than the one which the translator, in the absence of special local studies, was able to give. The account of Mirza Haidar (in the Tarikh-i Rāshidi) and Bernier's notes could conveniently be discussed on the same occasion.

2 Compare my notes on Bhedagiri (i. 35), the Sāradātīrtha (i. 37), the Takṣakanāga (i, 220); also supplementary note to i. 107.

Local tradition of the learned.


33. It now remains for us only to indicate briefly what help surviving tradition offers for the study of the ancient topography of Kaśmir. The tradition with which we are here concerned, presents itself in two forms. One is the tradition of the 'learned,' regarding the ancient sites of the country in general, kept up more or less in connection with written records. The other is that genuine local tradition which is strictly confined in its limits but is kept up equally among literate and illiterate of particular places.

Among those who represent in Kasmir learned tradition of the former type there must again be distinguished the few Pandit families of Srinagar in which the serious study of Sanskrit Sastras has been maintained, and the great host of Bachbaṭṭas.' With the latter class we have already become partially acquainted in the course of our examination of the Mahatmyas. We have had occasion to note the conspicuous absence of genuine knowledge as regards the ancient topography of the country in those texts which form the characteristic products of this class' literary activity.

The Purohitas' knowledge of Sanskrit is ordinarily of the scantiest kind, and their reading' confined to Mahatmyas and devotional texts learned by heart without proper comprehension. We can hence scarcely expect them to have preserved genuine traditions regarding those historically interesting localities which are mentioned only in the Chronicles. It is only in the matter of those sacred sites, pilgrimage routes and the like which form as it were, their own particular professional domains, that their testimony can claim special attention. Yet even in this limited field the Purohitas' traditions are, as we have seen, often of a very modern growth. Their statements, therefore, require under all circumstances to be tested with critical caution.


Learned' tradition as represented by the Srinagar Pandits of modern times, is best guaged by an examination of what the late Paṇḍit SAHIBRĀM († 1872) has specially recorded on the sub

Sahibram's Tīrtha. samgraha.

ject of ancient sites.

P. Sāhibrām who was undoubtedly the foremost among Kaśmirian Sanskrit scholars of the last few generations, had been commissioned by the late Mahārāja Raṇbir Singh to prepare a descriptive survey of all ancient Tirthas of Kaśmir. For this purpose a staff of Pandits was placed at his disposal whose business it was to collect the necessary

materials in the various parts of the country. The large work which was to be prepared on the basis of these materials, was never completed, and of the latter themselves I was able to recover only small portions.1 But some time before his death Pandit Sāhibrām had drawn up abstracts of the information he had collected under the title of Kāśmiratirthasaṁgraha, and of these I have been also able to obtain copies. The most detailed and apparently latest recension of this Tirthasaṁgraha is the one contained in No. 61 of Prof. Bühler's collection of MSS. now at Poona.

This little work gives a list of numerous Tirthas with brief indications of their special features and position, arranged in the topographi cal order of Parganas. It is useful enough as a comprehensive synopsis of such sacred sites as were known at the time to local worship. The references to many obscure little shrines, Nāgas, etc., show that the enquiries of Paṇḍit Sahibrām's assistants had been extensive. But the work proves at the same time how little help traditional learning in Kaśmir could offer in our days for the serious study of the old topography of the Valley.

Paṇḍit Sahibram's plan is to indicate each Tirtha's position by mentioning the territorial division in which it is situated, as well as the nearest village or other well-known locality. It was undoubtedly the learned author's desire to give all local names in their old Sanskrit forms as far as they were known to him. Accordingly we find a number of localities correctly mentioned by their genuine old designations. But unfortunately the number of the latter is truly insignificant when compared with those local names which are plainly recognizable as new fabrications, as worthless as those already mentioned in connections. with the topography of the modern Mahatmyas.

In consideration of the fact that P. Sahibrām deserves to be looked upon as the best representative of modern Kaśmirian scholarship, it is only just to illustrate the above remarks by a few examples. I take them only from among those local names the genuine forms of which can be easily ascertained from the Rājatarangiņi. The lake of the Nāga Suśravas, the present Suśram Nag, is named Suśramanāga in one

The papers acquired by me refer to some of the north-eastern Parganas and contain descriptions (in Sanskrit) of the various Nagas, Lingas, etc., the miraculous stories relating to them, together with the devotional texts which are supposed to be used at their worship. Quaint illustrations and maps accompany the text. The whole forms a large-sized folio. The critical value of these records is very slight.

2 See Prof. BÜHLER'S Report, pp. 4, 38.

3 See Rajat. i. 267 note, and below, § 59.

J. I. 8

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recension and Suṣumṇanāga (!) in the other. The old Parganas of Holaḍā, Laulaha, Khūyāśrama are turned on account of their modern names Vular, Lōlau, Khuyahōm, into the Rastras' of Volara, Lalava, Khoyahāma. Bānahāl, the old Bāṇaśālā,1 figures as Bhānuśālā; Khruv, the ancient Khaḍūvi, known correctly even to so late a text as the Lokaprakāśa, as Khrava. The well-known Khonamusa (Khun moh) appears as Ksuṣṇamoṣagrāma (!) The name of the ancient village Jayavana3 which fares badly too, as we have seen, in the Māhātmyas, is metamorphosed into Jivana; Ranyil, the old Hiranyapura, is with a flight of historical fancy turned into a foundation of king Raṇāditya (!). Even the sacred Tirtha of Tulamulya (Tul mul) does not escape a renaming as Sthulamula, though in this case the local Māhātmya, with its Tulamula, keeps close enough to the old name. After this, village names like Uşkara, Rāmāśrama, Kicakāśrama, as designations of the old Huskapura, Rāmuṣa, Krtyaśrama can scarcely surprise us. The number of districts, towns, villages, streams, lakes and other topographical features (exclusive of Tirthas) mentioned by Pandit Sāhibrām amounts to nearly three hundred. But scarcely two dozens of the names given for them are in accord with our old authorities.

Paṇḍit Sahibram was one of the few modern Kaśmirian scholars who have seriously occupied themselves with the Rājatarangiņi and the later Chronicles. This is shown by the elaborate abstracts he had prepared of these works. Hence the indifferent knowledge of ancient topography as displayed in his Tirthasaṁgraha, must appear all the more striking. Yet in reality it is easily enough accounted for.

What knowledge learned tradition in Kaśmir has retained of ancient sites as distinct from Tirthas and the like, is confined to a few prominent localities which, for one reason or the other, were of special interest to the Pandits. Thus the capital Pravarapura-Srinagara with several of its quarters, Vijayeśvara, Suyyapura, Varāhamula, Padmapura, and some other places of importance in the Valley have continued to be known by their ancient names. This was probably because these names never ceased to be employed in colophons of Sanskrit manuscripts, in horoscopes, and similar records. In the case of a

1 See note viii. 1665, and below, § 41.

2 See note viii. 733; also § 105 below.

8 Compare note vii. 607, and § 105 below.

4 See note i. 287, and § 104 below.

5 Compare note iv. 638.

6 See notes i. 168; ii. 55; i. 147.

7 These abstracts, called Rajatarangiṇīsaṁgraha, were acquired by Prof. BÖHLER; see Nos. 176-8 of the Poona collection. It deserves to be noted that in them no attempt whatever is made to explain points of topographical interest.

few other localities again like Jayapura, Dāmodara's Uḍar, Cakradhara, there were well-known popular legends which plainly indicated their identity with sites mentioned in the Rājatarangini. But for the great mass of ancient places there were no special reasons of this kind to assure a recollection of their old names. It is hence only natural that all genuine knowledge of their identity and earlier history has gradually disappeared from the Pandits' tradition.

Nothing but systematic enquiry on the lines of modern historical research could help towards a recovery of the knowledge thus lost. But such an enquiry could not be expected either from P. Sāhibrām or any other indigenous scholar uninfluenced by Western critical methods.

Popular local tradi


35. Popular local tradition has fortunately in Kasmir proved far more tenacious than the tradition of the learned. I have often derived from it valuable aid in my local search for particular sites. My antiquarian tours have given me ample opportunity to convince myself that when collected with caution and critically sifted, such local traditions can safely be accepted as supplements to the topographical information of our written records. In illustration of this statement I may refer to the evidence gathered from local tradition in reference to the sites of Lohara, Hastivañja, Kramavarta, Jayapura, Skandabhavana,5


In more than one instance it can be shown that local legends which Kalhana heard, still cling unchanged to the same sites. As striking examples may be mentioned here the legends concerning Damodara's Udar, the burned city of King Nara, the temple of Pravaresa.8

It cannot be doubted that this tenacity of local tradition in Kaśmir is due largely to the isolation secured for the country by its alpine position. Nothing is more instructive in this respect than a comparison with the territories of ancient Gandhara and Udyāna, or with the Panjab plains. These regions so rich in ancient Hindu sites are particularly devoid of local traditions connected with them. This fact is easily understood if we think of the many and great ethnic changes which

1 See Rajat. Note E (iv. 177), § 15.

2 See Rajat. note i. 302, and J. A. S. B., 1895, pp. 379 sq.

8 Compare Note D (iii. 227); J. A. S. B., 1895, pp. 384 sq; also below, § 43.

4 See note iv. 506 sqq., and below, § 122.

6 See Note K (vi. 137).

6 See note i. 156; below, § 119.

7 See note i. 202; below, § 108.

8 See note iii. 350; below, § 96.

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