Ancient “Hindu Kashmir” is alive in most of the countries

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Believe it or not but it is true. Ancient “Hindu Kashmir” lies in most of the countries in this world even in present digital era.

Converted forcibly since 1339 (Shah Mir-Bulbul Shah period), 680 years ago, prehistoric and ancient Kashmir can be seen physically existing in most of museums of the world. The life size metal and stone sculptures of Gods, Godesses, manuscripts and other material of prehistoric and ancient Kasmira can be seen in museums from Kashmir to New York (United States). The marutis of Sun God, Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva, Mata Lakshmi, Mata Sharda, Bharvas, Bhrama, Lingas etc, which were prayed for centuries by our ancestors in ancient Martand Sun Temple, the Awantipora temples, the Sankara-Gauresvara temple, temple of Sugandhesa at Patan, the Pandrethan temples, the Shiva Bhutesa and Siva Jeyshthesa temples at Narannag, the Parihasakesva, Sharda temple, Muktakesva, Mahavarha and Goverdhanadhara temples in Parihasapura, and the famous Mameswara Siva temple at Mamalaka, were damaged and broken after these temples were destroyed by Sultan Sikander Shah Miri (Butshiken) under direction of Sufi saint Mir Mohammad Hamadani and Ali Shah followed by others including Shia preacher Shamsdin Iraqi. They uprooted Murtis from these temples and damaged and destroyed them.

It was these remaining holy sculptures of Gods and Goddesses besides manuscripts that now showcase the prehistoric and ancient Hindu Kashmir in most of museums across the world. The biggest canvas of religion, art and culture of ancient Kashmir can be seen in British Museum and followed by others including New York Museum.

The Kashmir sections of these foreign museums were setup up on the looted religious deities and manuscripts from Kashmir by foreigners during British rule.

Even during the first phase of militancy in Kashmir 1990s, terrorists groups particularly Hizbul Mujahideen and Al-badr looted murtis of temples and sold it in international market as showpieces worth crores of rupees. Security forces have seized and recovered dozens of such murtis during anti terrorist operations at terror hideouts in Kashmir.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York is one of the world’s largest and finest art museums. Its collection includes more than two million works of art and collections represents more than 5000 years of art from across the globe—from the first cities of the ancient world to works being created.

It has a special and large section of Kashmir on its prehistoric and ancient history, Gods and Godesses, manuscripts depicting Hindu Kashmir. Idols of Lord Bhudha are also shown. There are over 50 metal and stone sculptures of Gods and Godesses of ancient Kashmir at MMA, New York.

Vishvarupa Vishnu,6th century

India (Jammu and Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir)

In this manifestation, Vishnu appears as the supreme Lord with ten arms and three faces. He is attended by his lion and boar avatars, Narasimha and Varaha, along with multiple other forms.

 

Standing Surya (The God of the Sun),ca. 6th century

India (Jammu & Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir)

 

Four-Armed Goddess, possibly Sarada,late 9th century

India (Jammu and Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir)

This crowned goddess, wearing a distinctive Kashmiri-style kurta-mode of dress, holds an upright sword in one hand. She represents Sarada (autumn), the Kashmiri synonym for Saravati, the goddess of learning. Her two lower hands rest on two diminutive male figures, each holding a manuscript, who presumably embody the complementary elements of knowledge (vidya) and wisdom (jnana) and consciously mimic Vishnu’s personified weapons, the purusas. The Sarada Mahatmya speaks of offering meat to Sarada, a reminder of her Durga-like origins, alongside her role as the embodiment of knowledge texts.

Shiva and Parvati with their Sons Karttikeya and Ganesha and the Calf Bull,9th century

India (Jammu and Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir)

A devotee used this charming rendering of the Shiva family assembled on a single pedestal for worship, likely in a private chapel. Shiva holds a rosary (aksamala) and flask; his wife, Parvati, a mirror. Both are crowned and jeweled as if Kashmiri monarchs. Shiva’s calf bull Vrsabha nuzzles close to his lord, and the couple’s two children flank the ensemble.

Gaja Lakshmi, Goddess of Fortune,6th century

India (Jammu and Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir)

The enthroned goddess holds a lotus in her left hand and a lotus cornucopia in her right, while two elephants bathe her with life-giving water. Two female attendants hold flywhisks at either side, and two lions flank her feet. A pair of donor figures holds upturned vessels, pouring riches bestowed by Lakshmi, evoking the river of fortune that flows from the goddess. Gaja Lakshmi first appears in this form in the first century B.C., making her one of the earliest recognizable goddess in southern Asia.

Seated Narasimha,7th–9th century

India (Jammu & Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir)

The Brahmanical Triad: Brahma, Shiva, Vishnu,8th–9th century

India (Jammu and Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir)

In a uniquely Kashmiri visualization, all three deities are represented in three-faced form: Brahma with three heads manifest and a fourth assumed; Shiva with his wrathful and feminine aspects projecting left and right; and Vishnu with his lion and boar avatars. Brahma is attended by a goose (hamsa), Shiva by his calf bull Vrsabha, and Vishnu by his purusas, the personifications of his weapons.

Surya (The God of the Sun) with Attendants,7th century(?)

India (Jammu & Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir)

Vishnu and Lakshmi Supported by Garuda,11th century

India (Jammu & Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir)

Mask of Bhairava,late 6th–7th century

India (Jammu and Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir)

This object is from a rare group of early Brahmanical masks. The small fangs seen rising from the corners of the open mouth and the exposed upper teeth identify this deity as Bhairava, a wrathful form of Shiva. Such masks were employed as temporary fixtures during worship and used to enliven processional icons in the Brahmanical cultures of northwestern India and the territories of Gandhara in Pakistan.

Shiva and Parvati with their Sons Karttikeya and Ganesha and the Calf Bull,9th century

India (Jammu and Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir)

A devotee used this charming rendering of the Shiva family assembled on a single pedestal for worship, likely in a private chapel. Shiva holds a rosary (aksamala) and flask; his wife, Parvati, a mirror. Both are crowned and jeweled as if Kashmiri monarchs. Shiva’s calf bull Vrsabha nuzzles close to his lord, and the couple’s two children flank the ensemble.

Karttikeya, the God of War,8th century

India (Jammu and Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir)

Here, the god of war sits regally on his vehicle, a peacock, as if enthroned. He displays the rosary (aksamala) favored by his father, Shiva, and, instead of his usual javelin, holds a disk standard seemingly with solar symbolism. This iconography is unprecedented.

Vishnu,ca. second half of the 7th century

India (Jammu and Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir)

The rendering of musculature and handling of complex drapery make this a superb example of the sculptural sophistication of seventh-century Kashmiri art. The jewelry and crown styles are a response to Gupta-period conventions of sixth-century northern India.

Chakrapurusha (The Personification of Vishnu’s War Discus),8th century

India (Jammu & Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir)

Linga with Face of Shiva (Ekamukhalinga),8th–9th century

India (Jammu and Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir)

This rare metal linga is addorsed with the figure of Shiva, who displays a rosary (aksamala) and citron fruit (vijapuraka), representing the seed of the universe. Shiva is routinely described as the “seedgiver,” the supreme progenitor. Stylistically, this sculpture is closely related to the Karttikeya (L.1994.21.3).

Section of a Diptych in Linga Form, Interior Depicting the Face of Shiva,6th–7th century

India (Jammu and Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir)

Vishnu Rescuing Gajendra, the Lord of the Elephants,8th–9th century

India (Jammu and Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir)

Mask of Vaikuntha Vishnu,late 5th century

India (Jammu and Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir)

This early representation of Vishnu expresses the deity’s supreme manifestation, in which his two premier avatars, the boar Varaha and the man-lion Narasimha, are given expression in one form, the three-headed Para Vasudeva or Vaikuntha. Here, only the boar survives intact, framing the moustached and crowned Vishnu, who embodies an Indian vision of kingship. This remarkable bronze mask would have been secured to a wood frame, richly clothed, and garlanded to evoke the presence of Vishnu during temple festival parades, as is still seen today in the remoter regions of Himachal Pradesh in northern India.

 

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Anil Bhat