By Prof. M.L. Koul
Mahmud Ghaznavi, tried twice to ravage and conquer Kashmir but failed to succeed because of the stiff resistance from the natives. The impelling factor for him to conquer Kashmir was to top-notch his record as an iconoclast and level all temple edifices of amazing architectural and aesthetic value. What made Kashmir to fend off the invading hordes from the vulnerable approaches to the kingdom was the massive military buildup at such points as part of an over-all defence strategy. As the immediate neighbourhoods had grown turbulent the native rulers sensitive to the developments raised their guard through enhancing the fortification of the routes that the enemies were wont to use for incursions and surprise raids. The vigilant rulers guarded the security of the region by disallowing men of doubtful credentials to enter the borders of the state. About the defence strategy of Kashmir rulers Alberuni, records.
They (Hindus) are particularly anxious about the natural strength of their country and therefore take much care to keep a strong hold upon the entrances and roads leading to it. In consequence, it is very difficult to have any commerce with them. In former times they used to allow one or two foreigners to enter their country, particularly jews, but at present do not allow any Hindu whom they do not know personally to enter, much less, other people’.
This was how Kashmir, accidentally went the Islamic way after six hundred years of advent of Islam in India. The moment guards were lowered and defensive measures ignored and skirted away, Kashmir which was already on the target list of Muslim rulers of India became critically vulnerable to all shades of sabotage, subversion and chaos. Two Kashmir kings, Harsa and Suha Dev, could be held as culprits who thoughtlessly permitted persons of doubtful antecedents to enter and stay in Kashmir. Harsa recruited alien Turks in his state army. Suhadev granted munificent patronage to an adventurer, Shah Mir, coming all the way from Swat. His Commander-in-chief, Ram Chander, gave refuge to a Ladakhi prince who otherwise would have been cruelly butchered by the enemies of his clan
The syndrome of over-confidence buttressed by high-scale strides and achievements that Kashmiris had registered in all spheres of human knowledge including abstract thought had made Kashmir rulers lax in matters of defence especially in giving entry to persons of unknown credentials. Having frustrated designs of the invading hordes led by Mahmud Gaznavi must have certainly bolstered up confidences graph of the rulers by many nautches. Not cognising the changes in the religious complexion of the immediate neighborhoods as effected by Mahmud Gaznavi Hindu rulers stuck to a high moral ground of granting generosity and compassion to fleeing men in pain and distress.
As they breathed an ethos of liberalism, tolerance and mutual accommodation the idea of putting crippling curbs on the foreigners of any variety never crossed their mind. Shah Mir, though an alien Muslim, was allowed unrestricted to come to the top perch of the administrative, apparatus of the land. Rinchen, despite a feuding background had free access to the garrisoned quarters of the army chief of the kingdom. He was granted even a Jagir for sustenance.
Sharf-ud-Din, a Musavi Sayyid, an Islamist missionary was a Suharwardian in matters of allegiance and practice. The sect was known as Suharwardy as it was founded by Sheikh Zia-ud-Din Abul Suharwardy. One of his prominent disciples Niamat Ullah Farsi had initiated Sharf-ud-Din in the rudimentary formalities and ritualistic modes of the sect. After being forced out of his birth-land he is credited with having founded the sect in Kashmir after being granted asylum by Suha Dev. Many other Sayyid-Sufis of the same sect had arrived in Kashmir much before him but they had to move out for want of patronage. As an Integral part of the whole canvas of Indian civilisation Kashmir had achieved a remarkable name in the domain of religion and science (Alberuni) and as such had riveted the glaring attention of religious leaders. The Brahman monks from Kashmir had Sanskritised the borders deep down to the vast swathes of central Asia, Tibet, China and Mongol lands.
In the meantime Kashmir was plunged into a messy chaos, when Zulju invaded Kashmir with an army of 60,000 soldiers, mostly turks and mongols and reduced it through unprecedented loot, plunder and detestable slaughter. In the words of Jonraj, ‘Kashmir presented a pitiful spectacle. Further pitilessly wailed and moaned when father fought his son. Brother separating from his brother lost him for ever...Depopulated, uncultivated, grainless and gramineous, the country of Kashmir offered, as it were, the scenario of primal chaos’.
Zulju, cruel and heartless, massacred thousands of Kashmiri Hindus and put them to horrendous cruelties and atrocities. Having looted and destroyed the last bit of grains Hindus, painfully died from starvation and poverty. There was so much of horrifying bloodshed that rivers and rivulets all went gory with the blood of Hindus. Corpses could be seen littering over large spaces of Kashmir. He was so pitiless and tyrannical that he got even wild grass burnt down as it might sustain the blighted Hindus. Fifty thousand Hindus, men, women and children, got perished in a blizzard at the foot-hills of Banihal when Zulju was lashing them along for their sale in the slave market of Turkestan.
In the wake of devastating havoc wrought by the devilish Zulju and his huge army, Ram Chander played a commendable role in repulsing the raid launched by the Gaddies of Kishtwar. Taking advantage of chaos and political instability Rinchen, who had enjoyed full shelter and succour, resorted to a sordid strategy of getting Ram Chander, the army chief of Kashmir, murdered through his accomplices from his native place and captured the throne. Thus Kashmir fell into the hands of one who had sought refuge in Kashmir and enjoyed large hearted magnanimity of Kashmiris.
Capturing the throne through deceit and murder, Rinchen, a moral wreck, though diffident and unsteady on his feet yet keen to consolidate his position begged of Deva Swami, a Shavite saint and scholar to allow him prompt admittance into the Hindu fold. As Hindus detest conversions and have no history of conversions he was flatly refused admittance in the faith. But, keenly desirous of indentifying himself with a cluster of people, no matter howsoever small the group, he was led to Sharf-ud-Din, historians say by another outsider Shah Mir for conversions to the faith that he harboured granted him admittance into Islam without any formal baptisation. It was at a later date that Persian chroniclers assigned him the name of Sadrud-din, thus lending him legitimacy as a Muslim. But, to Jonraj, a native historian, he was Rinchen who was obstinately refused entrance into Hindu fold.
Rinchen joined the ranks Muslims only to win support for his deceitful capture of throne from a group of people as insecure as he himself was. In psychological terms his condition could be diagnosed as that of a paranoid who felt highly insecure and nervous when he found himself surrounded by the same vast numbers of people who had pitied his distressed state as a fugitive from Ladakh and granted him refuge. He failed to remain in power as indigenous people through a revolt inflicted a wound on his head thus killing him.
The Persian chroniclers have deliberately woven a myth that Rinchen had spiritual restlessness which he yearned to be calmed down through expert spiritual guidance at the hands of a preceptor. It is also recorded that Deva Swami, a Shaivite saint and scholar, failed to satisfy his spiritual yearnings and urges. The bitter fact is that Rinchen had no spiritual cultivation and had no spiritual aspirations and yearnings. Showing external allegiance to Islam was his political chicanery. As evidenced by Jonraj, he was savagely brutal as he ripped open the soft bellies of pregnant women of Ladakhis who were his sworn enemies. There can be much of pith in the statement if it be said that proselytisation campaign in Kashmir was in dire need of one like Rinchen who would serve its ends through Qahran and Jabran (Baharistan). On Sharif-ud-Din’s persistent proddings Rinchen constructed the first-ever mosque in Kashmir.
For Sharf-ud-Din a hospice was built and for its up-keep revenues of a number of villages were assigned to it. A langar-Khanna was established for the poor.
Prior to Rinchen's conversion, he could not build a mosque nor a hospice, nor could be establish a langar-Khanna. It is pertinent to put that Muslim expressions came to be set up only after Islam was adopted a state religion.
Source: Kashmir Sentinel