Sunday, May 17, 2009

Prem Nath Shastri Saint and Scholar

Prem Nath Shastri, popularly known as Shastri Ji needs no introduction. He is known to people for services, he rendered to community. A medium statured versalite personality wearing a smile with collyrium eyes speaking volumes was a scion of Astrological clan who wrought a revolutionary change in the mindset of Kashmiri Pandits and imbibed in them cult of pragmatic approach and the rules of propriety. He had a humble beginning initially but by dint of his incessant hard work he created a niche in the glaxy of other luminaries. He has aptly been described as the doyen of Kashmiri ethos and culture. A blest seer, a profound religious preacher, a great social reformer spurning dogmas, social taboos and superstitions belonged to a dynasty whose services for Kashmiri Pandits can never be forgotten nor sunk into oblivion. Soon after the demise of his father, he exhibited his long cherished propensity to carry forward the left-over work of his clansmen and took it to a logical end for progeny to come.

He had a mind fleeter than wind and had the capability to prognosticate the things to happen. Success swayed his way when he prophecied an upheaval in the administration of Jammu and Kashmir State in 1953 that proved correct to the precision.Shastri Jee was a strong votary of Kashmiri Pandit unity and always exhorted the KP's to remain united and celebrate the respective auspicious festivals on particular specified day. Though he had a tough criticism to face on this account, but obdurate as he was, he never succumbed. Owing to his meritorious services rendered to his community he has had so many coveted awards in his name. He was conferred upon with the prestigious shardasuman award for his contribution in the field of religious genre. Shastri Jee always stressed to give sanaskar and religious knowledge to children synchronising with scholastic activities. He was a strong advocate of educating the future generation into the basic Sanatan Dharma and was outrightly against the cultural onslaught or what can appropriately be called as westernization of culture. Thus this great religious scholar always and throughout his life stressed to follow the foot-prints of Bharti-Sanaskriti, so much so that he denounced the handshake calling it a sign of slavery. He, instead emphasized the age old practice of hand-folded namaskar to all and sundry.  ( Jeewan Sahib )

Shastri Jee was a patriot par excellence which is amply manifested from his teachings and ardent supporter of upholding Kashmiri language and was vociferous upon parents talk to their children in Kashmiri and shun English nomenclature. Besides, he was a social reformer and stood for social reformation among Kashmiri-Hindu unity. He was not ostentations type of man, but always despised pomp and show in marriages. He was a good philanthropist as well and used to donate liberally for the cause of the weak, poor and the needy.

Shastri Jee was an advocate of vegetarianism and admonished people to desist from taking meat. Pandit Jee was terribly moved by the hurly-burly way of life KP's experienced due to onslaught of militancy. In order to soothe their tribulations, he used to arrange and attend the religious congregations giving sermons and religious injunctions packed with punch. Hindus in general and KP's in particular owe a great deal to him for survival of religious zeal and fervour. It is through his benevolence that one can activate his melodious casettes at ease in home and take the essence of his hard lived labour. He also authored shoals of books. His translation of Holy Geeta Jee into Urdu and Lal-Wakh are worth to mention. He has also edited and compiled Renveshvar Panchang which was long drawn demand of Jammuites.

There is no sphere of activity which this legendary giant has not deliberated upon and also reduced to writing the basics of rituals from cradle to death.

Shastri Jee had a meticulous felicity of expression. He would enthral the audience with his subtle and witty retorts. Whenever he felt that he was being eulogised disproportionate to his liking he would draw a chuckle signifying to stop.

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