Kashmiri Pandit

Kashmiri Pandit

Infobox caste
caste_name=Kashmiri Pandits
populated_states=Jammu and other parts of Northern India

Original "Kashmiri Pandit" (Hindi: _hi. कश्मीरी पण्डित) refers to a person who belongs to a sect of Hindu Pandits who originate from the Kashmir region. They have been living there continuously for centuries prior to the existence of Islam. The origin of the Aryan Race in India is also most likely the Valley of Kashmir. Many credible historians are of this opinion. They have a recorded history in Kashmir for thousands of years and have also been mentioned in the Mahabharata.

During the Islamic period of the Kashmir valley, hundreds of temples in Kashmir were destroyed.9 As a result, Kashmiri Pandits gradually migrated to other parts of India to escape persecution. Many Kashmiri pandits and buddhist were forcefully converted which in time resulted in Kashmir becoming predominantly Muslim. The devastation wrought by the Turkish general from Turkmenistan Zulju in 1320, during his conquest of many regions of Kashmir Valley was especially unfortunate. This could have a been a reaction to Lalitaditya's earlier conquest of Turkmenistan. Sultan Sikander (1389-1413), the seventh Muslim ruler in Kashmir, is known for his oppression of non-Muslim populations in his drive to establish Shariah-based rule, which caused many Kashmiri Pandits to leave the Kashmir valley4. Historians call him an idol-breaker (or iconoclast) and he is said to have killed several thousand Kashmiri Pandits and forced them to convert to Islam or flee5. Sultan Ali Shah and others followed suit.9 There have been few Muslim rulers who were tolerant towards the Pandits; however they were not able to ultimately alleviate the plight of the Pandits. This can be ascertained from the fact that the Pandits never rose to their pre-Islamic glory and that their population in the valley continued to decrease over time. From the 14th century due to the growth of Islam and forced conversions into Islam their numbers of in the valley began to diminish and the Muslims by spreading Islam began to outnumber them.

British historians, such as Walter Lawrence, note that persecution of Kashmiri Hindus by zealous Muslim rulers resulted in as little as eleven original Kashmiri Hindu families remaining in Kashmir at one point. Walter Lawrence mentions that:More recently (1990), hundreds of thousands of Kashmiri Pandits had to flee the Kashmir valley because of being targeted by Kashmiri and foreign militants.6 As per the statement of US Congressman Joe Wilson, beginning in 1989, mosques in Kashmir declared jihad and blared warnings from loudspeakers to the Hindus that they were infidels and had to leave Kashmir. He further says that "From 1989-1990, Islamists began a terror campaign to drive Hindus from Kashmir"7. Some people have noted that some Kashmiri Muslims were tolerant of minorities, but since partition, most Kashmiri Muslims have adopted a more conservative approach to Islam, and since 1989, a more militant and fundamentalist approach. By the turn of the last century, only 6.4% of Kashmiris were Hindus10. The US Department of State reports that, according to the Indian National Human Rights Commission, the Kashmiri Pandit population in Jammu and Kashmir dropped from 15 percent in 1941 to 0.1 percent as of 2006.11 ISBN 0691116881. page 37.]

Plight of Kashmiri Pandits today

Thousands of displaced Kashmiri Pandits live in refugee camps. A majority of the Pandit refugees live in squalid camps with spiralling health and economic problems. Approximately 2,17,000 Pandits still live in abysmal conditions in Jammu with families of five to six people often huddled into a small room. [ [http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/kpsgill/2003/chapter9.htm# | 'Refugee camp'] ] Their status has been described as "refugees in their own country,"who and they are the only internally displaced group within India in refugee tents. Indian government statistics show that there were 55,476 registered Kashmiri Pandit families living in Jammu, 34,088 in Delhi, and 19,338 in other states receiving government support. Government-managed camps housed 5,778 families in Delhi and Jammu. The government provided monthly cash relief of $70 (Rs 3,000) and basic dry rations to the 14,869 families in Jammu. In Delhi, authorities provided $75 (Rs 3,200) to 4,100 families.8

Kashmiri Pandit culture

Kashmiri Pandits have made significant contributions to Indian thought and science. Abhinavagupta, Kalhana have been stalwarts in the fields of, philosophy and history respectively. Kashmir figures prominently in Sanskrit poet Kalidasa's compositions but it is not known conclusively whether he hailed from that ethnicity or region. The birth place of Charaka one of the founders of ayurveda and Indian medice in general is also considered to be in Kashmir .Many Sanskritic scholars and poets(i.e. Bilhana, Mahimbhatta, Ksemraja, Vasugupta, Anandvardhana, Ksemendra) were Kashmiris. Women pandits were normally called "Panditain."


Kashmir's association with Hinduism is very old. The very name "Kashmir" is said to be derived from Kashyapa, one of the seven Saptarishis in Hindu mythology. Most Kashmiri Pandits are devout Shaivites, however many Kashmiri Pandit families who had migrated into other Indian territories have been ardent vaishnavites as well. Kashmir is home to some of the holiest shrines in Hinduism like Amarnath, Kheer bhawani, Shrine of Sharda, Shankaracharya Mandir, Hari Parbat, Zeethyar etc. A lot of these shrines were destroyed during and after the mass exodus of the pandits.Fact|date=April 2008 others however are vaishnavites

Kashmiri Pandit family names

The most common family names among Kashmiri Pandits include:Aga, Ambardar, Atal, Bandhu, Bhan, Bagati, Bahadur,Butt, Bambroo, Bindroo, Budki (Burki), Channa, Chowdhary, Chakoo (Chaku), Dhar (Dar), Dass (Das), Dassi, Dembi, Dulloo, Fotedar, Gadroo, Ganju (Ganjoo), Ganhar, Garyali, Gigoo, Kaw, Gurtu, Hak, Haksar, Handoo, Hangal, Hangoo, Hoon, Hukku, Jad, Jaju, Jalali, Jotshi, Kachru (Kachroo), Kak, Kakapuri, Kar, Kappu, Katju, Kaul (Koul), Kaw, Kemmu, Khar/Kher, Karwani, Kasid, Khashu, Khandhar/Khandhari, Khazanchi, kharoo, Khosa, Kitchlu (Kitchlew), Kokru, Kotha, Kukiloo, Kunzru, Langar, Lakhi, Langoo, Malla, Markande,Mawa,Mattas Mantoo, Mehrishi, Munshi, Muthoo, Misri, Muttoo, Pattu, Pattu, Mattoo, Mattu, Mujoo, Mukoo, Nagu, Nath, Natu, Nehru, Ogra, Pandit, Pandita, Panjabi, Parimoo, Pattu, Potins, Qasba, Raina, Rawal, Ruggu, Rayu, Razdan, Reu, Saul, Sadhoo/Sadhu, Sahib, Sapru/Saproo, Seru, Shah, Sharga, shishoo, Shivpuri, Shrunglu, Shunglu, Sopori, Soral, Sukhia, Suri, Tufchi, Tangnu, Trisal, Thusoo, Thotha, Tankha, Tiku/Tickoo/Tikku/Tikoo, Toshkhani/Toshakhani, Turki, Vuthoo, Wakhlu, Walli, Wanchoo/Wanchu, Wantoo/Wantu, Warikoo, Wattal, Wattoo, Yaksh, Zalpuri, Zarabi, Zaroo and Zutshi. Some Kashmiri Pandits use last names which are actually titles conferred upon them by kings such as Bahadur. There are also instances of several Kashmiri Pandit families changing their names to avoid being identified and persecuted. Most of these surnames of Kashmiri Pandits relate to the place, occupation or title. For example a person belonging to Sopore became Sopori or Khazanchi (Arabic for treasurer), or Sharga (Arabic related to law), etc. however the only accurate representation of the Kashmiri Brahmins can be from their origin from Rishis. The Kashmiri Brahmins are divided into 199 exogamous sections (gotras) the members of which profess to be descended from the Rishi or inspired saint whose name the gotra bears.

Prominent Kashmiri Pandits

Grandson of Pt. Bhawani Prasad Razdan. Pt. Narain Dass Raina, Inventor, Kashmir Houseboat, father of Swami Lakshman Joo (Kashmir Shaivism), grandfather of Dr. Maharaj Krishan Raina (Indian Paper Manufacturing guru), also ancestor of Diwan Anand Kumar (Vice Chancellor of Undivided Punjab University) and Tapishwar Narain Raina (Chief of Indian Army staff and Diplomat.S.N Channa was an established and well known entrepreneur.

ee also

* Panun Kashmir
* Brahmins
* Tulmul
* Khrew
* Bhat
* Bhatt
* Hari Parbat
* Sharada Peeth
* List of topics on the land and the people of “Jammu and Kashmir”


3 A. http://www.ikashmir.net/crown/culture.html3 B. IAST|Kalhaṇa, "IAST|Râjatarañgiṇî", Eng. trans. M.A. Stein. 2 vols. London, 1900. 4. Ronald M. Davidson, "Indian Esoteric Buddhism: A Social History of the Tantric Movement" (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), 70.
*"Our records indicate that Brahmans crisscrossed northern India during most of the period in question, emigrating from Madhyadesa, Bengal, Magadha, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Kashmir, and other locales at various times to seek employment in regions such as Madhya Pradesh, the Deccan, and preeminently, Orissa."5. Mohibbul Hasan, "Kashmir Under the Sultans" (Srinagar: Ali Mohammad & Sons, 1974), 28-95.
*In case a Muslim bias is suspected, Mohibbul Hasan was a Professor and Head of the Department of History, Kashmir University, Srinagar.6. [http://www.kashmir-information.com/Kilam/chapter3.html/ Spread of Islam in Kashmir] , [http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/MONITOR/ISSUE6-4/chrungoo.html/ Kashmir Pandits: Problem Prospects And Future by Dr. Ajay Chungroo] , [http://vitasta.org/2000/3.10.html/ Gairoo Kaa Akeyla Shiv Dr. Rajiv Kumar] 7. http://www.house.gov/list/press/nj06_pallone/pr_aug24_india_letter.html 8. [http://www.usindiafriendship.net/congress1/wilson/wilson10.htm/ Statement by US Congressman Joe Wilson] 9. [http://www.jammu-kashmir.com/archives/archives2006/kashmir20060318d.html/ Kashmiri Pandits still in camps after 15 years] 10. Muhammad Qãsim : Tãrîkh-i-Firishta 11. [http://www.vitasta.org/1999/1c.html] 12. [http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2006/78871.htm US Department of State Country Report: India (2006)]

External links

* [http://www.kashmirherald.com/ Kashmir Herald - A Web Opinion/News Journal on Kashmir]
* [http://shehjar.kashmirgroup.com/ Shehjar e-journal of Kashmiri Pandits]
* [http://www.kashmirforum.org/ A personal Journey and a Political Memoir, USA
* [http://www.koausa.org/ Kashmiri Overseas Association, Inc. (KOA), USA]
* [http://kashmirgroup.com/ Kashmir Group]
* [http://www.kashmiri-pandit.org/ Kashmiri-Pandit.org]
* [http://www.kashmir-information.com Kashmir-information.com]
* [http://www.iakf.org Indo-American Kashmir Forum -- A U.S. based political advocacy group for the Kashmiri Pandits]
* [http://www.ikashmir.org Kashmir News Network]
* [http://www.panunkashmir.org/ Panun Kashmir: A Homeland for Kashmiri Pandits]
* [http://songplay.kashmirgroup.com Music from Kashmir, India]
* [http://www.koacanada.org Kashmir Overseas Association of Canada]
* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=842219646390515565&q=kashmir+pandit Video Documentary detailing the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits by Ashok Pandit]
* [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4420834647958258181=kashmir+pandit Video Documentary on RefugeeCamps of Kashmiri Hindus by Deepak Ganju]

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