Workshop on Rasa Theory in Manipal University, February 2017

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Two Sanskrit Letters of Pandit Dinanath Yacch

Thanks to Mr Chetan Pandey. Here are the two letters (one written in 1965 and another in 1971) Pandit Dinanath Yacch (1921-2004) wrote to Srī Amritvāgbhavācārya. Just note the eloquent Sanskrit written by Pandit Yacch.


Dinanath Yaksha Letters In Skt to Swamiji (dragged) 2Dinanath Yaksha Letters In Skt to Swamiji (dragged)






Dinanath Yaksha Letters In Skt to Swamiji (dragged) 1

New Release: Kashmir’s Contested Pasts by Chitralekha Zutshi

Kashmir’s Contested Pasts: Narratives, Geographies, and the Historical Imagination

This is an extended chronicle of the historical imagination in Kashmir. It explores the conversations between the ideas of Kashmir and the ideas of history taking place within Kashmir’s multilingual historical tradition. Contrary to the notion that the Indian subcontinent did not produce histories in the pre-colonial period, the book uncovers the production, circulation, and consumption of a vibrant regional tradition of historical composition in its textual, oral, and performance forms, from the late sixteenth century to the present.

History and history-writing, as the book illustrates, were defined in multiple ways—as tradition, facts, memories, stories, common sense, and spiritual practice. Analysing the deep linkages among Sanskrit, Persian, and Kashmiri narratives, this book contends that these traditions drew on and influenced each other to define Kashmir as a sacred landscape and polity. Within this interconnected narrative tradition, Kashmir was, and continues to be, imagined as far more than simply an unsettled territory or a tourist paradise.

Offering a historically grounded reflection on the memories, narrative practices, and institutional contexts that have informed imaginings of Kashmir and its past, this book depicts how Kashmir’s history and its territory seem especially embattled in its present political culture. It thus places these contemporary debates over territory, identity, and sovereignty in a much longer historical context.

Follow the links for more details.

Language Politics in South Asia: Hindi vs Urdu

We are talking about the languages in South Asia. If you are a South Asian, how do you feel when someone from a mono-linguistic culture asks you — “Do you speak Indian in India?” “Ya ya”, I usually answer. It becomes difficult to make them understand that I am a native speak of Kashmiri that I never learnt in school (now from the year 2005 the Government of Jammu & Kashmir has introduced Kashmiri into schools of the valley), but I can also speak Hindi-Urdu to communicate with people from most parts of Northern South Asia (including  Nepal and Pakistan) where they do not understand Kashmiri, and for rest of it I use English and some times if you land up in a place where only the regional language is spoken then one has to communicate with sign-language (as I usually do in Italy). Some reports say there are nearly 780 dialects spoken in India alone and some 250 dialects have died out in past 50 years. I also grew up speaking what is called Urdu in the State of Jammu and Kashmir (Urdu is the official language of the State) although I am not really good at reading the script, but when visiting Delhi or some other parts of India I was told it was Hindi. Hmmm…!!! I still recall my first day in St Stephen’s College in Delhi where I met a fellow interviewee from Bihar who spoke what I called Television language. For me it was the same language spoken by the characters of the TV Series of B.R. Chopra’s Mahabharat. Much later, I came to know that the so called pure Hindi never existed and the Hindi used by B.R. Chopra was basically artificial. There is hardly any much difference between Hindi and Urdu for me, but when I was in Delhi, in the beginning often there were problems in understanding the vocabulary of some college-mates arriving from Eastern India. This part that mostly constitutes of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is known as the Hindi Belt, and the so-called pure Hindi is mostly spoken is parts of this region.

Recently when I came across a newspaper report [read the report here] it made me think about the history of language politics in South Asia. How Hindi became Indian and Urdu became Pakistani! When I talk to young people in India today they seem to think Urdu is not spoken in India, but it is the language of Pakistan alone. If I meet younger people from Pakistan they believe Urdu is not spoken in India but it is Hindi that is. “It is different that we understand each other”, they say. The problem is the political boundaries. We are so used to looking at political maps alone. A friend one day asked me that how is the Bengali of Bangladesh different from the Bengali spoken in the Indian Bengal. I said his question was wrong. One answer is it is not at all different, but the Bengali spoken in border regions of both the countries those are in proximity would have more similarities than the diametrically opposed ends of these regions.

Let us have a glimpse of the languages of Northern South Asia:

Which is the fourth most spoken language in the world ? They say it is Hindi. Which is the nineteenth most spoken language in the world ? They say it is Urdu. What is the language spoken in India? They say it is Hindi. What is the language spoken in Pakistan? They say it is Urdu. Yet there are only 39-41% native speakers of Hindi in India and 8% people regard Urdu as their native tongue in Pakistan where 54-60% population speaks Punjabi. This makes us think that it is not only about language politics, but it also involves script politics. [Rahman, Tariq (2011) From Hindi to Urdu: A Social and Political History, Karachi: Oxford University Press]. Read, for instance, this abstract of Robert D. King’s paper titled “The Poisonous Potency of Script: Hindi and Urdu” [International Journal of Sociology of Language. 150 (2001), pp. 43-59].

Hindi and Urdu are variants of the same language characterized by extreme digraphia: Hindi is written in the Devanagari script from left to right, Urdu in a script derived from a Persian modification of Arabic script written from right to left. High variants of Hindi look to Sanskrit for inspiration and linguistic enrichment, high variants of Urdu to Persian and Arabic. Hindi and Urdu diverge from each other cumulatively, mostly in vocabulary, as one moves from the bazaar to the higher realms, and in their highest – and therefore most artificial – forms the two languages are mutually incomprehensible. The battle between Hindi and Urdu, the graphemic conflict in particular, was a major flash point of Hindu/Muslim animosity before the partition of British India into India and Pakistan in 1947.

We know very well that basically Hindi and Urdu are the same language, but it is the nationalistic absolutism of the two countries that has lead them believe that languages belong to religions and religions belong to nations. The ephemerality of this notion also became clear when the federal government of India had to face a deep dismay from it’s southern States first during 1937-40, and then again in 1946-50, 1965, 1968 and 1986 for imposing Hindi on the non-Hindi speaking people of India. Thanks to these movements that India has no national language. And in case of Pakistan, the West Pakistan had to face the revolts of Bengali speaking people from the East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and one of the major reasons of this revolt was the imposition of Urdu (the so called national language, even though before 1971 Bengali was also officially recognized by Pakistan) on Bengali people. This lead to what came to be known as Bengali Language Movement. This was one more proof of the fact that language and religion should be understood as two different segments under a single canopy of ‘Culture’, but the linguistic identity should not be confused with religious identity or vice versa.. In case of India, the Nagari Pracharini Sabha was implementing all the Urdu works to be transcribed into Devanāgarī. I mean, come on, if you cannot de-Persianize (which had become the policy of the Government of India after 1947) ‘the Hindi language’, at least it is worth trying to de-Nastalique it.

The Directive for development of the Hindi language of the Constitution of India (Part XVII.—Official Language—Arts. 349—351. Chapter IV—Special Directives) in its directive No. 351 says:

It shall be the duty of the Union to promote the spread of the Hindi language, to develop it so that it may serve as a medium of expression for all the elements of the composite culture of India and to secure its enrichment by assimilating without interfering with its genius, the forms, style and expressions used in Hindustani and in the other languages of India specified in the Eighth Schedule, and by drawing, wherever necessary or desirable, for its vocabulary, primarily on Sanskrit and secondarily on other languages.

Urdu, the language of the cultured in Awadh, was subjected to hatred and dismay in its land of birth. On the other hand it was obviously impossible to imagine that Hindi and Sanskrit would continue to be studied in Pakistan after it officially became the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The 1973 version of the Constitution of Pakistan says this about its language policy:

The rationale for this privileging of Urdu, as given by the government of Pakistan, is that Urdu is so widely spread that it is almost like the first language of all Pakistanis. Moreover, since most jobs are available through Urdu, it is only just that all children should be given access to it. Above all, it is a symbol of unity and helps in creating a unified “Pakistani” identity. In this symbolic role, it serves the political purpose of resisting ethnicity, which otherwise would break the federation. As for the provision that other Pakistani languages may be used, it is explained that the state, being democratic and sensitive to the rights of the federating units, allows the use of provincial languages if desired.

I think the notion of Indian Government of having one language for India is unrealistic. Have you observed that often when we visit websites there is an option on the top corner highlighting some flags for languages. For instance if we want to read that website in French, we click on the French flag and the website would be shown in French language and so on and so forth. Now the idea India has is exactly this that it also wants to have that little flag there for Hindi (in fact, on many websites you do have such option) which does not make sense at all. There is Orientalism in play and countries like India and Pakistan, instead of recognizing their own diversity of cultures and languages, are becoming the victims of their ‘intimate enemy’.

Coming back to the news paper report that I mentioned above, it makes one think – is the Sanskritization of Hindi  and Persinization of Urdu still continuing. And where do you make this distinction of what is Hindi and what is Urdu, and who will make that. Yes, both India and Pakistan are trying very hard to make Hindi ‘Hindi’ and Urdu ‘Urdu’ respectively, but can they change the language of Bollywood–I mean the language of the common people. Did you read this recent article, by the way –

While I think Bollywood is still that speaks the language of the masses (because it is not controlled by the government, but keeps in mind what common people would understand), but if you listen to the official news or official TV channels both in India and Pakistan, you will observe the gradual development Hindi and Urdu have undergone in all these past decades. And now it is that that most of the Northern Indian and Pakistanis can talk to each other, but they cannot read each other’s writings unless that re written either in English or in Roman transliteration of Hindi-Urdu. Thanks to the British legacy that there is English.

Suggested Readings:

1. One Language, Two Scripts: The Hindi Movement in Nineteenth Century North India, by Christopher R. King, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1994.

2. The Politics of Language – Urdu/Hindi: An Artificial Divide, Abdul Jamil Khan.

3. From Hindi to Urdu – A Social and Political History by Tariq Rahman, Oxford University Press.

4. Hindi Nationalism by Alok Rai, Sangam Books.

5. Hindu Nationalism and the Language of Politics in Late Colonial India by William Gould, Cambridge University Press.

‘Pleasure and the Emotions in Tantric Soteriology Śaiva’ by Prof Alexis Sanderson

New Publication Announcement [Obrock, Luther (ed.) Marc Aurel Stein – Illustrated Rajatarangini]


The edition (1893) and translation (1900) of Kalhana’s Rajatarangini REMAIN Marc Aurel Stein’s most lasting Contributions to the study of Sanskrit and premodern Indian history. While this work remains unsurpassed in modern scholarship, references in Stein’s private letters pointed to the existence of an updated and expanded version of the Rajatarangini, illustrated by photographs of various locales Mentioned in Kalhana’s history. These revisions and additions, Which stone called the Rajatarangini Illustrated in correspondence, were long lost Considered, HOWEVER this volume presents Marc Aurel Stein’s Illustrated Rajatarangini, edited from manuscripts kept in Oxford’s Bodleian Library. Appearing in print for the first time, the Rajatarangini Illustrated collects stone’s additions and corrections to his text and translation of Kalhana’s Rajatarangini. These notes are illustrated photographs of important sites in the Kashmir Valley taken by stone load on his tour of the Valley in 1940. This collection of photographs has been reassembled from collections in Oxford and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest. The volume is completed with four reprints of important papers on the Sanskrit text Rajatarangini by Eugene Hultzsch. These papers served as catalysts for stone to rethink important textual variants in the Rajatarangini.

Author  Obrock, Luther (ed.)
ISBN 978-3-86977-077-2
Pages 248 pages with 82 photographs and 2 folding maps
Edition 1 – 2013 Edition

Dust consumes Kashmir’s precious documents : Maharaja Hari Singh’s Confidential Records, Glancy Commission Report In Mess



Srinagar, Mar 4: The Archives Department in Kashmir houses some of the vital documents about Kashmir’s history, culture and heritage. But for the Jammu and Kashmir Government, they seem to be worth nothing, not even preservation. A cursory look at Kashmir Repository, located inside the dilapidated building of the Archives Department in Old Secretariat here, is enough to reveal how bird droppings and dust have together taken sheen off Kashmir’s rich archival material, which observers believe includes “important, unique, and rare” documents and manuscripts.

Since March 2008, when this newspaper reported how bird droppings were consuming the rich documents, the Archives Department has just plugged the ceiling of the building in a bid to prevent entry of birds. But that is where it has ended, though observers had then strongly pleaded that the documents should be preserved, categorized and probably displayed for exhibition to let the people know about their past. But, according to insiders in the Archives Department, nothing was done in this regard, except for making promises that something would be done. No cataloging and indexing has been taken up so far.


This time around, the documents have been bundled in dirty strips of scarf-like material, exactly like a dry cleaner bundles the unwashed clothes. What is interesting to observe is that nobody, not even the officials in the Department, are sure about the overall stuff that the Repository houses. But they are certain that it is housing the key documents like Maharaja Hari Singh’s Confidential Records, State Department Records, Military Records, Ex-Governor Records, and the famous Glancy Commission Report.

None of the officials in the department is sure about the exact location of these documents. All they say is that the documents “exist somewhere.” Reason: none of these documents have been cataloged so far, and not a single document has been preserved the way it should have been. Insiders say that many pages of the Glancy Commission Report have already faded away while the documents in various shelves in the hall are moth-eaten. There is a total mess in their organization. The documents of Home Department can be seen in the Revenue section while as those of Revenue section can be seen in the Finance section.


The condition of the Repository has so far irked a number of visitors, especially in the backdrop of the applicability of the Right to Information Act which makes the availability of information for the aspirants mandatory. Two years back, a US-based Kashmiri researcher wrote about the Kashmir Repository: “I came to know that the J&K State Archives Department consists of three repositories one each in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. These repositories contain important documents related to Kashmir.  I got a chance to visit Kashmir and Jammu repositories which hold documents like His Highness’ Confidential Records, State Department Records, Military Records and Ex-Governor Records.  I started my research by visiting Kashmir Repository which is housed in a mysterious primitive building at Srinagar (Old Secretariat).  On the first day of my research something much unexpected happened.  While I was climbing up the creepy dark stairs onto the first floor, I caught my sandal heel into one of the many stair holes which went unnoticed in the dark.  I pulled my foot hard to let go my sandal and found myself limping all day.  It sounds quite hilarious now but it was quite embracing then!” wrote Fozia Lone, then Doctoral Student at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.

She added: “Finally, one afternoon the door to the mysterious ‘hall’ was opened and it left me flabbergasted and the first thing I said was wow! To me it appeared as if a bomb had exploded and left the place as rubble.  As a researcher I was utterly disheartened to witness the treasure of the Kashmiri history in ruins.  This was a contrast for me having worked in the British Library and the National Archives in London.  I was not expecting the standard of London but the disorder in the hall literally horrified me.”
According to employees in the Archives Department, the Department has been neglected for unknown reasons. “The situation in the department is matching the old saying of carpenter’s hands for mason’s work. There are professional people in the department who are not given a chance to prove their mettle. Instead things are being outsourced for unknown reasons. And despite doing that, work is not done in time,” the employees, wishing anonymity, told Greater Kashmir. “Given a chance, the employees can easily do the cataloguing of the documents. Ideally speaking, this Repository could have been a frequently visited place for academics, students and researchers from all over the world. But because of its messy condition, there is hardly a researcher who visits here.”


Political analysts believe that no society or government can deny the importance of the archival material vis-à-vis writing about and knowing about the past. “In case of Kashmir, where we claim to have a 5000 year old recorded history, there should naturally have been more consciousness as far as preservation of historical material is concerned,” said Prof Gul Muhammad Wani, who teaches Political Science at the University of Kashmir. “Further it is equally important that in case of Kashmir, the past is very often invoked by all types of theorists, sociologists, historians to interpret the present and also suggest ways for constructing the future. So naturally, the importance of archival material is always there.”

Prof Wani believes that Kashmiris, whether educated, middle class, intelligentsia or the political class, are suffering from a syndrome of one dimensional thinking wherein every thing has got bogged down to conflict only. “There are issues like archives, like culture, environment, and quality of education or healthcare. No society in any part of the society can afford to ignore these especially in restless times or in times of uncertainty. Second issue is that intelligentsia is considered to be people who generally should be more concerned about issues like archival material or heritage as compared to other sections of the society. But Kashmir intelligentsia has certain handicaps. That they are good at home building but miserable at the institution building. Further they are socially callous, intellectually suffocating and historically ignorant,” he said. “There is need for a very powerful all inclusive movement to generate consciousness about issues like archival material, art and heritage. All these things are otherwise on decline. The state government also needs to rise to the occasion.”


When contacted, Minister for Culture Nawang Rigzin Jora said he would look into the issue. “I will have the matter looked into,” he told Greater Kashmir.