Kashmir: The Background To Its Name

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Ancient ruins of Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu dated A.D 855-83 Avantisvami Temple Avantipur Jammu and Kashmir

The state of Jammu Kashmir is generally called Kashmir. The word Kashmir is used for all those areas, which were part of the united state of Kashmir until 1947 A.D covering an area of 84,471 square miles. The word ‘Kashmir’ is also specific for the Valley of Kashmir that is on the north of Pir Panjal in the Himalayas, 80 miles long and 34 miles wide.

The word ‘Kashmir’ has always been a subject of discussion for historians and researchers. Why is Kashmir called as Kashmir? Well, this question has been under discussion for centuries. The researchers have given many explanations and interpretations in this regard. The study of these explanations indicates that the word Kashmir originates from a thousand years long history culture and civilization of this paradise on earth carries deep meanings. The historians state that the word Kashmir is being used since centuries. The following examples are being presented in order to understand the background to the name of Kashmir.

A well-known Kashmiri historian, Pundit Kalhan, states in his famous book, “Rajatarangini” that in the ancient period, the Kashmir region, which lies in the lap of Himalayas, was sunk in the water. There was a wide and deep lake, which was called ‘Satsi-Sar’. A demon used to hide in this lake.His name was ‘Jalood Bhoo’. He would not only occasionally come out and scare the people, but kill them as well. He made their lives horrible. When people got tired of this killer demon, a spiritual personality named ‘Kashyap Rishi’ came there in the era of Mano Deue Soot. People approached him and complained about the demon. They requested him to get them rid of demon’s cruelties. As a result, through his spiritual power, Kashyap Rishi of Birhima Vishnu and Shiv emptied the lake and Jalood bho had to come out of the lake and was killed under a mountain. From beneath the lake, a valley appeared which was called as ‘Kashyap Mir? that meant the place emptied by Kashyap (Saint). According to this tradition, the ancient name of Kashmir was Kashyap Mir. Gradually, it became familiar as Kashmir.

According to another account, Kashmir’s old name was TatSaro Bohmio, which meant the land of sacred places. The first sacred place of Kashmir is Neel Naag spring. According to an ancient tradition, this spring is considered to be the leader of all sacred places. It is said that Neel was the son of Kashyap Rishi and the “Veri Naag” spring was his birthplace. It is located in Pergana Shahabad in the center of Banihal pass. In ancient days, the Kashmiris used to worship these springs. They were present everywhere. Because of these springs, this region was called “Tatsuro Bohmiao”.

Yet, according to another tradition, in 558 BC, two groups of Bani Israel came to Kashmir from Syria. When they enjoyed the beauty and atmosphere of this land, they uttered: “KASHEER”. In Hebrew, “KA” means “like it” or “similar to”. The word “Asheer” is also mentioned in the Holy Qur’an. It means Sham, which is Syria in English. In other words, Kashmir was described as similar to Syria. That is why; the Hebrew speaking people called it Kasheer, which gradually changed into Kashmir. But the Kashmiri speaking people call it as Kasheer.

Yet again, another tradition reveals that when the people of Bani Israel entered Kashmir, they observed that the people of Kashmir did not believe in any revealed religion. That is why they used to eat even prohibited things. The local inhabitants offered their Hebrew speaking guests what they ate, themselves latter remarked: “Aes Che Kaeshir”.which meant, “We are halal eaters”. So, in this way, Kasheer means halal eaters. The inhabitants of Kashmir liked the halal food and followed the tradition. (Ref. “Aaj Kal” Delhi Kashmir number Aug. 1955)

Another tradition suggests that Kashmir is the combination of Kass and Meer. The water of a ‘nullah’ is called ‘Kass’ and ‘Meer’ is used as a place without water. This means the region of the lake from which water has been drained out. So, as the time went by, ‘Kas’ and ‘Meer’ turned out be Kashmir.

According to yet another tradition although Kashmir is a combination of Kass and Meer but there. it means differently. Kas means canal and Meer means lofty. This means a country of lofty canals and mountains. Further, it is said that a people known as Khoosh resided in the Valley of Kashmir and its surroundings in older days. So, Khoosh Mar, which means the place of Khoosh nation, gradually became Kashmir. The last available tradition suggests that the word Kashmir is a combination of Kash and Mir. Kash was the leader of demons at the court of Hazrat Suleman, while Mir was the leader of beautiful virgin women. When Hazrat Suleman’s troops invaded Kashmir, he ordered his troops to land on a mountain on an island. Hazrat Suleman saw. water all around as far as he could see. He was delighted to see the scene. He consulted with his advisors and suggested that if the lake was emptied, a beautiful valley would emerge of it which would worthy of abode for human beings. So, the question arose hat how to take the water out of the lake? The head of the Demons who were present at the meeting offered to do the job. However, his offer was conditioned subject to marriage with Mir. Hazrat Suleman accepted his demand and ordered him to empty the lake. Therefore, Kash the head of the demons cut the mountain of Baramulla with his magic. The lake was dried. Hazrat Suleman honored his promise. Kash was married to Mir. So, this romantic union of Kash and Mir gave the name to a beautiful country now known as Kashmir. On top of a hill just behind Srinagar, there is a seat attributed to Hazrat Suleman. Syed Ali Hamdani visited Kashmir in the 14th century and called Kashmir as the GARDEN OF SULEIMAN. The above descriptions and traditions are enough to indicate the richness of Kashmir’s history, culture, and civilization.

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