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38. The general configuration of the country here indicated in its broadest outlines may be held to account Legend of Satīsaras. for the ancient legend which represents Kasmir to have been originally a lake. This legend is mentioned by Kalhana in the Introduction of his Chronicle and is related at great length in the Nilamata.1
According to this earliest traditional account the lake called Satisaras, the lake of Sati (Durgā),' occupied the place of Kasmir from the beginning of the Kalpa. In the period of the seventh Manu the demon Jalodbhava (' water-born ') who resided in this lake, caused great distress to all neighbouring countries by his devastations. The Muni Kasyapa, the father of all Nagas, while engaged in a pilgrimage to the Tirthas in the north of India, heard of the cause of this distress from his son Nila, the king of the Kasmir Nāgas. The sage thereupon promised to punish the evil-doer and proceeded to the seat of Brahman to implore his and the other gods' help for the purpose. His prayer was granted. The whole host of gods by Brahman's command started for Satisaras and took up their position on the lofty peaks of the Naubandhana Tirtha above the lake Kramasaras (Kōnsar Nag). The demon who was invincible in his own element, refused to come forth from the lake. Visnu thereupon called upon his brother Balabhadra to drain the lake. This he effected by piercing the mountains with his weapon, the ploughshare. When the lake had become dry, Jalodbhava was attacked by Visnu and after a fierce combat slain with the god's war-disc.
Kasyapa then settled the land of Kaśmir which had thus been produced. The gods took up their abodes in it as well as the Nāgas, while the various goddesses adorned the land in the shape of rivers. At first men dwelt in it for six months only in the year. This was owing to a curse of Kasyapa, who angered by the Nagas had condemned them to dwell for the other six months together with the Pisacas. Accordingly men left Kasmir for the six months of winter and returned annually in Caitra when the Pisacas withdrew. Ultimately after four Yugas had passed, the Brahman Candradeva through the Nilanaga's favour acquired a number of rites which freed the country from the Pisacas and excessive cold. Henceforth Kasmir became inhabitable throughout the year. The legend of the desiccation of the lake is alluded to also by Hiuen Tsiang, though in another, Buddhistic form. Its main features
as related in the Nilamata, live to this day in popular tradition. They
1 See Rājat. i. 25–27; Nilamata, vv. 26-237. A detailed extract of the Nilamata's story has been given by Prof. BÜHLER, Report, p. 39,
2 See Si-yu-ki, transl. Beal, i. p. 149.
J. 1. 9
are also reproduced in all Muhammadan abstracts of the Chronicle.1 From Haidar Malik's Tārikh the legend became known to Dr. Bernier who prefaces with it his description of the 'Paradis terrestre des Indes.'2 It has since found its way into almost every European account of Kaśmir.
Lacustrine features of Valley.
It is probable that this legend had much to do with drawing from the first the attention of European travellers to certain physical facts apparently supporting the belief that Kaśmir was in comparatively late geological times wholly or in great part occupied by a vast lake. But few seem to have recognized so clearly as the late MR. DREW, the true relation between the legend and the above facts. I cannot put his view which from a critical point of view appears to be self-evident, more clearly than by quoting his words: "The traditions of the nativestraditions that can be historically traced as having existed for ages-tend in the same direction, [viz., of the Vale having been occupied by a lake,] and these have usually been considered to corroborate the conclusions drawn from the observed phenomena. Agreeing, as I do, with the conclusion, I cannot count the traditions as perceptibly strengthening it; I have little doubt that they themselves originated in the same physical evidence that later travellers have examined."3
The geological observations upon which modern scientific enquirers like Mr. Drew and Colonel Godwin Austin, have based their belief as to the former existence of a great lake, are mainly concerned with the undoubted lacustrine deposits' found in the so-called Uḍars or Karēwa plateaus to be noticed below. But it seems to me very doubtful whether we can reasonably credit the early Kaśmirians with a correct scientific interpretation of such geological records. It appears far more probable that the legend was suggested by an observation of the general form of the valley and by a kind of natural inference from the historical changes in the country's hydrography.
We shall see below that great drainage operations took place at various periods of the country's history which extended the cultivated ground and reduced the area covered by lakes and marshes. To any one, however ignorant of geology, but acquainted with the latter fact, the picture of a vast lake originally covering the whole Valley might naturally suggest itself. It would be enough for him to stand on a hill-side somewhere near the Volur, to look down on the great lake and the adjoining marshes, and to glance then beyond towards that narrow gorge
1 Compare, e.g., Ãïn-i Akb., ii. p. 380; WILSON, Essay, p. 93.
2 See BERNIER, Travels in the Mogul Empire, ed. Constable, p. 393.
3 See Jummoo, p. 207.
of Bārāmūla where the mountains scarcely seem to leave an opening. It is necessary to bear in mind here the singular flights of Hindu imagination as displayed in the Purāņas, Māhātmyas and similar texts. Those acquainted with them, will, I think, be ready to allow that the fact of that remarkable gorge being the single exit for the drainage of the country, might alone have sufficed as a starting-point for the legend.
In respect of the geological theory above referred to it may yet be mentioned that in the opinion of a recent authority "even the presence of true lacustrine deposits does not prove that the whole of the Kasmir lake basin was ever occupied by a lake.” 1 At the present day true lacustrine deposits are still being formed in the hollows of the rock basin represented by the lakes of the north-west portion of the Valley. It is held probable "that the conditions have been much the same as at present, throughout the geological history of the Kasmir Valley," only a minor area of the latter having at various periods been occupied by lakes.
Whatever view may ultimately recommend itself to geologists, it is certain that the lacustrine deposits of Kasmir, though of no remote date, speaking by a geological standard, are far older than any monuments of man that have yet been discovered. Mr. Drew was undoubtedly right in denying the existence of lacustrine deposits round any known ancient buildings or other works of man in the Valley.
39. None of the natural features of Kasmir geography have had a more direct bearing on the history of the country than the great mountain-barriers that surround it. They may hence rightly
Kasmir defended by its mountains.
claim our first consideration.
The importance of the mountains as the country's great protecting wall has at all times been duly recognized both by the inhabitants and foreign observers. Since an early time Kaśmirians have been wont to pride themselves on their country's immunity from foreign invasion, a feeling justified only by the strength of these natural defences. We find it alluded to by Kalhana who speaks of Kasmir as unconquerable by the force of soldiers and of the protection afforded by its mountain walls. The feeling is very clearly reflected in all foreign records. We have already seen what special notice is taken by Hiuen Tsiang and Ou-k'ong of the mountains enclosing the kingdom and of the difficulty of the passes leading through them. The statements of the early Arab
I See OLDHAM's Manual of Indian Geology (1893), quoted by Mr. LAWRENCE, Valley, p. 50.
2 See DREW, Jummoo, pp. 207 sq.
8 See Rajat. i. 31, 39.
Compare above, §§ 9, 11.
geographers brief as they are, lay due stress on the inaccessible character of the mountains. Albērūni does the same and shows us besides the anxious care taken in old days to maintain this natural strength of the country by keeping strict watch over the passes.
Even when Kasmir had suffered a partial conquest from the north and had become Muhammadanized, the belief in the invincibility of its bulwarks continued as strong as before. Thus Sharifu-d-din, the historian of Timur, writing apparently from materials collected during the great conqueror's passage through the Panjāb Kōhistān (circ. A.D. 1397), says of Kaśmir: "This country is protected naturally by its mountains on every side, so that the inhabitants, without the trouble of fortifying themselves, are safe from the attacks of enemies." The subsequent account of the routes into Kaśmir and other exact details suggest that the author of the Zafarnāma had access to genuine Kāśmirian information.
Watch-stations on mountain routes.
40. It is this defensive character of the mountain ranges to which we owe most of our detailed information regarding their ancient topography. We have already in connection with the accounts of Albērūni and the Chinese pilgrims had occasion to note the system of frontier watch-stations by which a careful guard was kept on the passes leading through the mountains. These fortified posts and the passes they guarded, play an important part in the narrative of Kalhana and his successors. As most of the Chronicle's references to Kasmir orography are directly connected with these watch-stations it will be useful to premise here a few general remarks regarding their character and purpose.8
The small forts which since ancient times closed all regularly used passes leading into the Valley, are designated in the Chronicles by the word dvāra 'gate' or by the more specific terms dranga or ḍhakka. Numerous passages show that they served at the same time the purposes of defence, customs and police administration. They were garrisoned by troops under special commanders, designated as drangeśa or drangadhipa. The control over all these frontier stations and the command of the 'Marches' generally was vested in Hindu times in one high state officer, known by the title of drarapati, lord of the Gate,' or equivalent terms.
I See above, § § 12, 14.
2 See the extract from Sharifu-d-dīn's Zafarnāma in Tarikh-i-Rashidi, transl. by N. ELIAS and E. D. Ross, p. 432; compare also RITTER, Asien, ii. pp. 1122, sq.
8 For detailed references regarding these stations see my notes, J. A. S. B., 1895, pp. 382 sqq.; Rājat. i. 122; iii. 227 (D).
Compare Rājat, note v. 214.
The organization of the system was somewhat changed in Muhammadan times when the guarding of the several routes through the mountains was entrusted to feudal chiefs known as Maliks (Skr. mārgeśa).1 These held hereditary charge of specific passes and enjoyed certain privileges in return for this duty. In other respects the system underwent scarcely any change. The fortified posts with their small garrisons survived on all important routes almost to our own days being known as rāhdārī in the official Persian.2
It may be noted that apart from their character as military defences against foreign inroads the Drangas were also in another respect true 'gates' to the country. Nobody was allowed to pass outside them coming from the Valley without a special permit or pass. The system thus provided an important check on unauthorized emigration which was withdrawn only after the last Kasmir famine (1878).3
In order to appreciate fully the importance of these frontier watchstations it should be remembered that the mountain regions immediately outside Kaśmir were almost in every direction held by turbulent hilltribes. To the hardy Dards (Darod) in the north and the restless Khakhas (Khasa) in the south and west the rich Kasmir with its weak population has always appeared as a tempting prey. The last inroad of plundering Khakhas occurred not more than half a century ago and will not soon be forgotten. At the same time it is certain that the valour of these hardy mountain clans on the confines of Kasmir has at all times contributed greatly to the natural strength of the mountain defences. Without this protective belt the latter themselves would scarcely have remained so long proof against foreign invasion.
1 A detailed and interesting account of the Maliks and the routes held by them is given by Baron HÜGEL, Kaschmir, ii., pp, 167 sqq.; i., p. 347.
See J. A. 8. B, 1895, p. 385; also below, § 49, 52.
3 For an early reference to this system of passports at the Dvaras, see Jonar. 654. For a description of the cruel exactions often connected with 'Rāhdāri,' compare LAWRENCE, Valley, p. 215. I have never been able to visit the sites of the old watch-stations at the several passes without thinking of the scenes of human suffering they must have witnessed for centuries.
• Compare Rajat. i. 317 note.