Monday, September 17, 2012

How Maharaja Met Krishna Joo Razdan

The two were poles apart. Maharaja Pratap Singh was the king of the state of Jammu & Kashmir hailing from the famous Jamwal Rajput clan. Krishna Joo Razdan was a small landlord in a small village of Kashmir, born and brought up in a Kashmiri Pandit family. The only commonality about them was that both were born in the year 1850, the former at Reasi and the latter at Vanpoh. The other related commonality was that in both the cases, some regard 1948 as the real year of birth. One was a wise ruler with great concern for the people and a keen interest in the development of the state. The other was a village head that had blossomed into a poetic genius and was also prone to saintliness. How the two met and became instant admirers of each other is obviously a matter of chance. 

Krishna Joo Razdan, the renowned saint-poet of Kashmir, was married into the well-known Kaul family of Vessu, a small village off the National Highway leading to Srinagar, roughly midway between Quazigund and Khannabal, two tiny townships again on the National Highway leading to Srinagar. The well-known Kauls had traditional access to the durbar of Maharaja Pratap Singh. Kauls were prone to flaunt the poetic genius and the astrological prowess of their son-in-law, among the king's courtiers in the durbar.

Once it so happened that a cousin of Maharaja Pratap Singh, himself a ruler of Poonch, fell seriously ill. The Maharaja was, naturally, very worried. A pall of gloom fell upon the durbar in Srinagar. Kauls were summoned from Vessu and dispatched to Krishna Joo Razdan (KJR for short) to give his astrological advice. KJR thought for a while after making some calculations and advised that the king be advised to do "anna daan", (offering of food) indicating that his days were numbered. By the time this message was carried to the Maharaja, he had received a telegram stating that the health of his cousin King had shown signs of improvement. The Kauls went back to KJR for consultation. KJR reiterated his earlier advice of "anna daan" and when they reached Srinagar again, the Maharaja had received another telegram stating that his cousin and King of Poonch was no more.

When this story reached the ears of Maharaja some weeks later, he expressed his desire to see KJR, who, as stated earlier, was also a landlord and doubled up as the village head of Khirmani-Ganesh Raina, the landed jaagir named after his father, Ganesh Raina, in the state revenue records. Since the annual festival of Mata Khir Bhawani was round the corner and KJR was an ardent devotee of Maej Raagnya Bhagwati, as Kashmiri Pandits would call her, a meeting was arranged on the sidelines between His Excellency, Maharaja Pratap Singh and Krishna Joo Razdan. Formalities over, the first question that the Maharaja is said to have asked of KJR was as to whose pooja would the king perform as a morning ritual. Pat came the reply, "Shiver" - a bird whose worship is believed to bring good luck to the rulers. Surprised though, but without looking so, the shrewd Maharaja told KJR that he would accept him as a saint if the colour of the water of the spring holding the statue of Mata Khir Bhawani would change there and then. It is said that KJR instantly won the respect of the Maharaja; because the water changed its colours as His Excellency, the Maharaja had wished.

Having put to test the spiritual prowess of KJR, the Maharaja told him that the former had been writing bhakti poetry in Kashmiri and that he would accept his poetic genius if he would compose a a bhakti bhajan in Dogri, again, there and then. KJR had passed such trials by fire even before his Guru when other disciples had alleged that KJR only fiddled with the poetry written by others and that he could not write on his own. To silence his detractors, there and then, the Guru had asked him in the very presence of his disciples to sing a bhajan on dal lake because the entourage was enjoying the scenic beauty of the lake in a boat. And thus was born the famous Kashmiri bhajan that reads thus:

"Sara kor samsaar nadurui draav,
Dal ma hasha tseta kiya pamposh chhaaw"

This bhajan described the entire Kashmiri advait shaivite philosophy while drawing parallels between the spiritual terminology and the names of the things that abounded in and around the dal lake. The instant use of the sweet metaphors, similes, alliterations and assonances in the musical quatrains devised on the spot had gone a long way in establishing not only his spiritual authority but also in regarding him as a "poet of poets" for the simplicity of language that demystified the Kashmiri shaivism and his style started being copied by his contemporaries and his juniors.

And now it was the Maharaja's turn, in a way, to baptize KJR by the same fire! His honour and prestige were at stake. How could KJR not dispose when the King himself had proposed? And after a brief moment of contemplation, KJR composed the following Dogri bhajan, there and then, to the delight of the Maharaja:
Shiv Shiv kariyo jeeta mariyo
Man mein phiriyo Shiv simran
Shiv Shiv kar ke din raat bhariyo
Man mein phiriyo Shiv simran
Man ke Shiv shivalay mein jayiyo
Us mein paayiyo Shiv Keshav
Us Shivji ko kariyo pratikshan
Man mein phiriyo Shiv simran

It is said that KJR never visited the Maharaja in his durbar. Nor did he ever ask for any favour from the King. This was apparently because KJR was a firm believer in "Prarabdha" or what we, in common parlance, call destiny, about which he has written eloquently in so many of his beautiful poems. Only when the Maharaja would travel from Jammu to Srinagar or vice-versa, would he either visit KJR at his home at Vanpoh, KJR's native village on way to Srinagar; or simply send for him a "Nazrana" as a token of respect, that, as they say, was usually an amount of Rs.11/- accompanying a basket of the seasonal fresh fruit or almonds and cardamom.

By B L Razdan

River Devika

A Cultural symbol of Duggar

The river Devika is considered to be one of the most sacred rivers in our scriptures. In other words this river is called as Ganga of Duggar. Inspite of the fact that this river flows down in Jammu region of J&K state some scholars express their divergent and controversial opinions regarding its identity and actual location.

According to Dr. Vasudeva Sharan Agrawal, this is a sacred river of Madra Desha (an old name of the land of Dogras) which starts its course from the hills of Jammu region which is called as "Sahasra- dhara" near Suddha Mahadev temple and flows down towards western Punjab (now in Pakistan) where it merges with the river Ravi in Pakistan.

It is said that during rainy season it irrigates a major part of its vicinity in Pakistan before it merges with Ravi due to which that part of the land has become much fertile for the paddy crop of the best quality called "Vasamati".

This is the peculiarity of this river that except in rainy season it mostly flows underground only.
Dr. P. V. Kane (Bharat Ratna award winner) differing with Dr. Agrawal opines that this river can be identified with Wullar lake in Kashmir valley. But this is not a correct statement of Dr. Kane, as in Wullar lake only the river Jhelum falls which gets out of it from its westernside.

Nandu Lal Day identifies this river in his treatise- 'The geographical dictionary of ancient and medieval India', with river Saryu. But Vana and Anushasana parava of the Mahabharata confirm that Devika and Saryu are two different rivers flowing at different places.

The Vamana Purana refers to it at two places. Confirming it as Devika Tirtha. In Varah Purana this river has been referred to some what more expressively - "Devika nam devanam Prabhate tapasyat niyamartham samudbhava Gandakya militashubha." The river known as Devika has emerged for the sake of Gods who perform their penance earlier in the morning and ultimately merges with river Gandaki. This reference creates a complicated problem as far as its actual identity is concerned. According to the majority of opinions, it is clear that Devika merges with Ravi and not with so called Gandaki.

In his translation of the Martanda Purana. Mr. Pargiter identifies Devika with one small river Degh. Mr Jagannath also supports this view which subsequently has also been supported by Dr. Kane even. 'Prabhasa mahatmya' also has given an information of one Devika river which flows near Mulasthan (modern Multan in Pakistan) which definitely refers to a different river.

The Nilamata purana however, gives a detailed description of this river which according to the same is one of the sacred rivers in Madradesha. This purana says that Uma (the consort of God Shiva) herself had adopted the shape of a river which had become popular as 'Devika' and made its course between the river Chandrabhaga (modem chi nab) and the riverIravati (modem Ravi).

Visnu - Dharmottara purana though gives only passing reference, the vamana purana gives a clear-a statement “Umadeviti Madreshu Devika ya Saridvara.” Uma/paravati had converted herself into a river called Devika in Madradesha. (Now Duggar)
Both Panini and Patanjali (the great sanskrit grammarians of ancient times) refer to this river in Ashtadhyayi and Mahabhasya respectively. (Devika Kulodbhavah shalayah). The paddis growing at the bank of Devika are ofthe good quality.
Visnu Dharma Sutra says that the vratya people will rule over the areas situated at the banks of the rivers namely sindhu, Devika, Chandrabhaga and Vitasta (Jhelum)

In addition to the above, this river has also been referred to in Brahmanda purana, Vayu purana, Narada purana, Visnu purana, Skanda purana, Padma purana, Brihadaranyakopanisad’ and Kathopanised.
In view of the above, it is clear that the river Devika is one of the most pious rivers in our country and only that is the real Devika river which flows down in Jammu region of J & K state known as Duggar (madra desha in ancient time). Therefore, Panini, Patanjali, Visnu Dharmottara purana and Nilamata purana correctly record their references regarding this river. Therefore, the conjectures of other scholars are automatically nullified.
This sacred river starts from the hilly area in the vicinity of Suddha Mahadeva (called Sahasra-dhara) and flows down towards Pakistan covering a distance of about fifty miles. God Shiva himself explains as how Devika emerges from Sahasra dhara.
yatra devi mahagouri Pradurbhuta sahasradha.
yasmat girivarat jata, devika jyoti rupini.
Where Devi Mahagauri (Parvati) emerges in the shape of thousand flor. My consort Devi Parvati who is my energy takes a shape of river Devika for the well being of people. She is energy always flowing in my body. That is why she is called as my Ardhangini (half partner)
ya shaktirmama sharirastha dehardhmashrita..
madagaya madra prithivim sapta sagar mekhalam.

She being my half partner and also as my energy always staying in my body, therefore following my advice she adopted the shape river 'Devika' for the welfare of great Madra country.

The significance of this river is that right from its origin up to Purmandal a pilgrimage at its banks about 27 k.m. north-east of Jammu city, it is visible only at a few places. At Purmandala, however, it takes the shape of a small river but except rainy season there too its water mostly flows under-ground. Whenever people want to take bath they have to dig pits by which water comes out. Probably of this very reason the great commentator of Paninian grammar (Ashtadhyayi) vamana and Javaditya define “Devi-kayam Bhavamudakam Devikamudakam” water which comes out in Devika is called Devika water. In case of other rivers we seldome find such peculiar statement or interpretation as in rivers water only flows and not comes out from their bottom. Thus only Devika possesses this peculiar characteristic. Whenever any body goes to this river, he apparantly sees only the wet sand bed everywhere and to his astonishment water comes when he digs a pit there.

On account of Devika's sacredness, it is respected like sacred Ganga. The people therefore, do not collect ashes of the cremated dead bodies at its banks. Since this river turns its course facing northward at a particular place, it has been named as Uttara vahini by which that village also has become popular as Uttar Vahini. Right from Udhampur to Vijaypur, we find several old temples or pilgrimages at its bank which establish its sacredness and popularity as a pious river. Really, it is a symbol of our culture, especially that of Duggara's culture. We, the Dogra people are proud of this Ganga of our land.

Late Maharaja Ranbir Singh, a protagonist of Indian culture had planned to make a second Kashi in the area stretched from Purmandal to Uttar Vahini by erecting several temples and running a Sanskrit Pathashala at the bank of Devika. But his untimely death deprived the people of Jammu region of his so sacred plan. Had late Maharaja Ranbir Singh's that missionary programme been continued further by his successors even till completion, the entire area from Purmandal to Utter Vahini would really have become a second kashi as dreamt of by that great king of this state.

By Dr. S.P. Shrivatsa