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have passed over the land. Kaśmir, fortunately for antiquarian research, throughout its known history has escaped such great convulsions and the breaks of tradition usually connected with them.

The influence of the geographical position of Kaśmir can be traced here also in another direction. Mountainous surroundings and consequent isolation tend everywhere in alpine countries to develop and foster conservative habits of life and thought. We find these habits most strongly marked in the population of the valley, and may safely ascribe to them a great share in the preservation of local traditions.




36. Nature itself when creating the great Valley of Kasmir and its enclosing wall of mountains, seems to have The name Kaśmīra. assured to this territory not only a distinct geographical character but also a historical existence of marked individuality. We see both these facts illustrated by the clearly defined and constant use of the name which the territory has borne from the earliest accessible period.

This name, KAŚMIRA in its original Sanskrit form, has been used as the sole designation of the country throughout its known history. It has uniformly been applied both by the inhabitants and by foreigners. We can trace back its continued use through an unbroken chain of documents for more than twenty-three centuries, while the name itself undoubtedly is far more ancient. Yet notwithstanding this long history the current form of the name down to the present day has changed but slightly in the country itself and scarcely at all outside it.

The Sanskrit Kaśmīra still lives as Kaśmīr (in Persian spelling Kashmir) all through India and wherever to the West the fame of the Valley has spread. In the language of the inhabitants themselves the name is now pronounced as Kasir. This form is the direct phonetic derivative of Kaśmir, with regular loss of the final vowel and assimila

1 The adjective Ka'sur Kaśmirian' corresponds to Skr. Kāśmira. The u of the last syllable is probably due to the v of an intermediate form * Kāśvīra; see below.


tion of m to the preceding sibilant. With reference to a phonetic rule, prevalent through all Indo-Aryan Vernaculars, which favours the change of medial Skr. m into v, we are led to assume an intermediate Prakrit form Kasvir[a]. In support of this we may point to the striking analogy of the Kaśmir local name Sangas which, as shown in my note on Rajat. i. 100, goes back through an older recorded form Svāngas to * Smāngāsā, the Samāngāsā of the Chronicle. It has already been. shown above that we have to recognize in this *Kasvira the original Prakrit form which Ptolemy's Káσneiрa, Kaσrepía (pronounced Kaspira, Kaspiria) are intended to transcribe.2

Etymologies of


Linguistic science can furnish no clue to the origin of the name Kaśmira, nor even analyze its formation.3 This fact, however, has not saved the name from being subjected to various etymological guesses which for curiosity's sake may receive here a passing notice. It must be held to the credit of Kaśmirian Sanskrit authors that their extant writings are wholly innocent of this display of etymological fancy.

No less illustrious a person than the Emperor Bābar opens the list. His suggestion was that the name may be derived from the hill-tribe 'Kās' living in the neighbourhood of Kaśmír. We easily recognize here the reference to the Khasas of the lower hills. Their name, however, in its true form has, of course, no connection with Kaśmir. Another etymology, first traceable in the Haidar Malik's Chronicle and hence reproduced by other Muhammadan writers, derives the first part of the name from 'Kashap,' i.e., Kasyapa, and the second either from

1 Compare DR. GRIERSON's remarks, Z. D. M. G., 1. p. 16. 2 See above, § 5.

8 If the Uṇadisūtra, 472, Kaser mut ca is to be applied to the word Kasmira, the latter would have to be dissolved into kas-m-ira according to the traditional grammatical system.

4 See Memoirs of Baber, transl. by Leyden and Erskine, p. 313. A Persian MS.: of the text adds that mir signifies mountain. ERSKINE, Introduction, p. xxvii., improves upon this etymology by extending it to Kashgar, the Casia regio and Casii Montes of Ptolemy. RITTER, Erdkunde, ii. p. 1127, from whom I take this reference, not unjustly queries why the learned editor should have stopped short of the Caspium mare and other equally manifest affinities.

Babar's conjecture figures still seriously in a note of the latest translation of the Ain-i Akbarī, ii. p. 381.

Regarding the name and habitation of the Khasas, compare Rājat. i. 317 note. b It was first introduced to the European reader by TIEFFENTHALER'S extract from Haidar Malik's Chronicle compare Description historique et géographique de l'Inde, ed. Bernouilli (1786), i. p 79 (also p. 89 as to source). Compare also WILSON, Essay, p. 94, for a similar note from the Waqi'āt-i Kashmir of Muḥammad 'Azim; here

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Kś. mar, ie., Skr. matha 'habitation,' or a word mir, supposed to mean 'mountain.' l

It was, perhaps, a belief that this whimsical etymology represented some local tradition, which induced even so great a scholar as Burnouf to risk the conjectural explanation of Kasmira as * Kasyapamira, i.e., 'the sea of Kasyapa.' There is neither linguistic nor any other evidence to support this conjecture. It would hence scarcely have been necessary to refer to it had it not on the authority of a great name found its way also into numerous works of a more general character.3 37. Just as the name Kaśmir has practically remained unchanged through the course of so many centuries, so also has the territorial extent of the country which it designated. This has always been confined to the great valley drained by the headwaters of the Vitastā and to the inner slopes of the ring of mountains that surround it.

Extent and position of Kasmir.

The natural limits of the territory here indicated are so sharply marked that we have no difficulty in tracing them through all our historical records, whether indigenous or foreign. Hiuen Tsiang,

Ou-k'ong and Albērūni's accounts, as we have seen, show them clearly enough. Kalhana's and his successors' Chronicles prove still more in detail that the Kasmir of Kasmirian tradition never extended materially beyond the summit-ridges of those great ranges which encircle and protect the Valley.

A detailed description of the geographical position of Kaśmir does not come within the scope of this paper. Nor is it needed since there is an abundant modern literature dealing with the various aspects of the geography of the country. For an accurate and comprehensive account I may refer to the corresponding portion of MR. DREW's work and to the graphic chapter which MR. LAWRENCE devotes to the description of the Valley. It will, however, be useful to allude here briefly to some of the characteristic features in the configuration of the country which have an important bearing on its ancient topography.

Kasmir owes its historical unity and isolation to the same facts which give to its geographical position a distinct and in some respects

1 The Ks. word mar < Skr. matha, is in common use in the country as the designation of Sarais, shelter-huts on passes, etc. Mir might have been connected by Haidar Malik's Pandit informants with the name of Mount Meru or with mira, meaning according to a Kosa parvataikadeśa, see B. R., s. v.

2 Compare his note in HUMBOLDT, L'Asie centrale, i. p. 92.

3 See, e.g., LASSEN, Ind. Alt., i. p. 54 note; MCCRINDLE, Ancient India as described by Ptolemy, p. 108; V. DE ST. MARTIN, Mém. de l'Acad. des Inscript., Sav. Eʼtrang., v., ii. p. 83; Kiepert, Alte Geographie, 1878, p. 36.

4 See F. DREW, The Jummoo and Kashmir Territories, 1875, Chapters viii.-x.; W. LAWRENCE, The Valley of Kasmir, 1895, pp. 12–39.

almost unique character. We have here a fertile plain embedded among high mountain ranges, a single valley large enough to form a kingdom for itself and capable of supporting a highly developed civilization. Its height above the sea, nowhere less than 5000 feet, and its peculiar position assure to it a climate equally free from the heat of India and the rigours of cold, peculiar to the higher mountain regions in the north and east.

The form of the country has been justly likened to a great irregular oval, consisting of a similarly shaped level vale in the centre and a ring of mountains around it. The low and more or less flat part of the country measures about 84 miles in length, from south-east to north-west, while its width varies from 20 to 25 miles. The area comprised in this part has been estimated at 1800 or 1900 square miles.1 Around this great plain rise mountain ranges which enclose it in an almost unbroken ring. Their summit lines are everywhere but for a short distance at the southernmost point of the oval, more than 10,000 feet above the sea. For the greatest part they rise above 13,000 feet, while the peaks crowning them tower up to altitudes close on 18,000 feet. Reckoned from the summit lines of these ranges, the length of the irregular oval enclosed by them is about 116 miles, with a varying width from 40 to 75 miles. The whole area within these mountain boundaries may be estimated at about 3,900 square miles.

The slopes of the mountains descending towards the central plain are drained by numerous rivers and streams all of which join the Vitastā within the Kaśmir plain. The side-valleys in which these tributaries flow, add much ground to the cultivated area of the country several of them being of considerable length and width. But even the higher zones of the mountain-slopes where cultivation ceases, add their share to the economical wealth of the country. They are clothed with a belt of magnificent forests, and above this extend rich alpine pastures, close up to the line of perpetual snow.


In the great mountain-chain which encircles the country, there is but one narrow gap left, near to the north-west end of the Valley. There the Vitasta after uniting the whole drainage of Kasmir flows out by the gorge of Bārāmūla (Varāhamūla) on its course towards the For a distance of nearly 200 miles further this course lies through a very contracted valley which forms a sort of natural gate to Kaśmir, It is here that we find the old political frontier of Kasmir extending beyond the mountain-barriers already described. For about 50 miles below the Varahamūla gorge the narrow valley of the Vitastā was held in Hindu times as an outlying frontier tract of Kaśmir.

1 Compare DREW, Jummoo, p. 162, for this and subsequent statements. 2 See below § 53.

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