Rakesh Koul, a Social Activist in Bangalore, basically a Kashmiri Pandit visited Kanchi Mutt recently along with Family friends, shared his experience here. Kanchi’s Seer Sri Vijayendra Saraswati Swamiji’s concern on issue on Kashmiri Pandits is narrated here.

Kanchi Temple in Srinagar

Shankaracharya Temple in Srinagar

Back to roots – a beautiful journey with a clear destination

We reached the temple inside and took Prashanadam in Bhojanalaya. We waited outside the hall for the Darshana of Shankaracharyaji. About 3:30PM we entered the Ashram of his Holinesses  Pujyasri Sankara Vijayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamiji. We sat around Swamiji

Minutes  Part 1:

  • We all including the Kids introduced ourselves with Names with Surnames, we were asked to loudly call out our family names, there is a significance attached to it which we realized after having an enriching session with Swami ji. He wants us to know our identity and be known by that, that’s why the significance of calling out our complete names /family names.
  • Swamiji asked us to get the list of the names Kanshmiri Pandit’s (KP)s are using for last 200-300 years.
  • There was a clear dissatisfaction about the short Names we use these days, As narrated by Swamiji KPs need to put much emphasis on the names as it carries forward one generation to next .
  • Swamiji wanted a similar book like the Indian Names by Maneka Gandhi for KPs
    • The next point Swamiji enquired about the KPs living in US & other countries  as well as in other part of country like Jammu and Delhi. The Emphasis was on the point that we should settle not too far from our Motherland .As an illustration Swamiji pointed towards — a young boy from Tamilnadu who was sitting next to us along with his mother, she had returned from US only to give the Sanskrit as well as Vedic knowledge to her son. In the same context Swamiji asked us to study the concept paper on Kusum Nagar in Himachal Pradesh. It was Swamijis wish that we KP should try to settle in Himachal Pradesh, invest as an Entrepreneur, start a school etc in the same state. Why Himachal? Very simple because of the look-alike feature. We would be able to relate to Himachal Pradesh more than any other place in India.
    •  Next point Swamiji insisted on how our kids are connected to Kashmir. He insisted that we should transfer our Sankriti to the younger generation, take them to Kashmir more frequently so that they feel the belongingness, tell the spiritual stories to young Kids, Swamji Gifted few Books to our kids ,out of which one is the Book on Shardha Lipi by Premnath Shastri ji. Swamiji was very keen that we should teach Shardha and Sanskrit to our children. Swamiji gave reference to various projects on Shardha lipi and Sanskrit which Kamakochi mutt is working on. Swamiji also pointed out how KPs recite  the Shri Bhagwat Geeta Shaloka ” Dharam Kshetrey Koro Kshetrey” .Swamiji Insisted that we should teach Bhagwat Geeta to our children in the same melody as it has its own meaning .
    • Next Swamiji told us that the Kashmiri Pandits belong to the rare Shakha called as Katha Shakha which is a branch of Krishna Yajur veda. Swamiji pointed about the efforts of the mutt where the audio CD, the rig Vedas Mantras are recorded. Swamiji acknowledged the efforts of

Sh kashinath Handoo and Sh TN Ganjoo who are helping in collecting old manuscripts and books for reprinting .

  • Swamiji pointed about the Book Laugakshi Grihya Sutra which was released recently in Oct 2011.This book was earlier published by Madhusudan Handoo by order of Maharaja HariSingh in two volumes in 1928 and 1932 respectively.
    • Swamiji wanted to stress on Kashmir Pilgrimage and help people from India and abroad with providing sufficient data and support during their visits. Swamiji spoke about his recent visit to kashmir Kheer Bhawani , Zeethyaar. Different work done by the Peetham in reviving Kashmiri temples was also discussed.
    • With other Devotees from Tamil Nadu Swamiji narrated them the Glorious past of Kashmiri Pandits and remembered how Kashmir was once left with only 11 Hindu families. Clear instructions were given to these devotees to mention about the KASHMIR in their communities through internet, social blogs.

Break for Temples Darshanam:

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Swamiji advised us to go for the temple visit around Kanchi and visit the holy places of kamakshi Devi and Ambekeshwar temple. Swamiji instructed two devotees to guide us through the temples. We left for temple darshan with a condition from Swamiji that we will not leave Kanchi without his holiness permission. We visited the Kamaskshi temple first and the Ekambareshwara Shiva temple later. We were provided the complete information and religious importance of each and every part of temple. The marvelous structure of both these temples made us so proud of the Ancient Hindu past.

First we took the Ashirwad of Pujyashri Jayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamiji. We were introduced as team from KASHMIR and were blessed by his Aashirwaad. After that we went to meet again Pujyasri Sankara Vijayendra Saraswathi Shankaracharya Swamiji. While waiting outside for the Blessing of Shri Vijendra Swarawati we were asked if we want to stay for night so that the arrangements can be made.

Minutes Part 2:

We once again as a team were around Swamiji to listen the final message for us.

  • Swamiji pointed about the Saraswat Brahmins which is a powerful community in Konkan area in southern belt and their migration from Kashmir about 450 years back. Swamiji explained how the community has flourished despite a  lot of conversions and barbarism in the past. Swamiji described about the Mangeshkar Temple in Goa which has maintained its sanity from last 300 years.
  • When we asked about how we connect, Swamiji wanted us to focus more on strengthen our own community first. He pointed out that we as a community should come forward and strengthen our culture
    • Swamiji pointed out an interest in setting up a Shardha and Sanskrit university around katra and insisted that we as a community also should help in setting up such institutions.
    • Swamiji instruction to community is to be connected and share the knowledge about the culture, religion through whatever means of communication.
    • Swami ji advised those who are settled in other parts of India & outside India shall help the community brethren staying in Jammu in jobs & education at Jammu, provide opportunities to them to work from home.
    • Swami ji Insisted that we should interact with community brethren across world through internet, create websites & keep sharing the information & updates on all aspects of Kashmiri culture / religion / literature
    • Swami Ji also mentioned that SVBC (Sri Venkateswara Bhati Channel run by the TTD) has a regular program on Kashmir as Kashmir Parikrama. This is weekly program Broadcasted on Sunday 8:30pm and repeat Monday 9:00pm

At the end it was a really a touching moment when each one of us was given a shawl as a blessing. We felt really blessed with the Holy Darshan of the spiritual land of Kanchi and the instructions from Pujyashri Swamiji.

The visit was not only educational but inspirational as well. We are sure it is some good karma of ours that we were blessed to experience this special day. The memories of this would be deep set in heart and mind and would always remind us of our responsibility towards the religion and our culture.

May God give us pave us a way to bring together our community and preserve our culture. We look forward to our next visit to Kanchi to share our progress towards the goal we have chosen for ourselves i;e to be of service to our community and do whatever in our capacity we could do to bring our community together .

नमस्ते शारदे देवि काश्मीरपुरवासिनि।
त्वामहं प्रार्थये नित्यं विद्यादानं च देहि मे॥

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About Kanchi Mutt:

Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham is a Hindu monastic institution located in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, one of the fivepancha-bhUta-sthalas (Temples denoting the ‘5 Elements’). It is known formally as Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, and was founded by the Adi Sankara The head of the mutta is referred to as a “Sankaracharya”, a title that is also applied to the heads of the four Adi Sankara mathas.

The matha’s official history states that it was founded by Adi Sankara and that His Holiness Jayendra Saraswati Swami is the current pontiff – The 69th head in succession, tracing its history back to the fifth century BC. The Kamakoti Peetam however, traditionally refers to Kamakshi referred popularly as Kamakodi. ‘Kamakodi’ is of Tamil origin, referring to Goddess Durga. ‘Kodi’ refers to Durga in the ancient Tamil Sangam literature. Kanchipuram is referred to as Kanchi.

Kanchipuram and Kashmir

The great Saint Adi Shankaracharya, who hailed from the southern part of the country had travelled to Kashmir, more than two millenniums ago and spread the message of truth, oneness & harmony. The Shankaracharya Hill on which the temple is situated in the heart of Srinagar is a place of great significance to the people of Kashmir and is one of the most important places of pilgrimage for those visiting Kashmir.  The Kashmiri Pandits till date chant in their homes a hymn known as Gauri Dashakam composed by Adi Shankaracharya. History shows age old connection existed between Scholars of Kashmir and Kanchipuram based on available works on Kashmiri Sharada Script. Sarvajna Peetam exists in both the places