By Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan
Having gotten into the heritage connect with Hinduism and Kashmir, we might as well touch upon Ramanujar also. He was not an ‘also ran’ among the Saints. Surely not. He deserved notice on his own credentiaks. What a nugget it would be, as you may see.
Saint Ramanujacharya was a 11th-century Indian philosopher and theologian who is considered one of the most important figures in the development of Vaishnavism. He was born in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, but he spent a significant amount of time in Kashmir and Melkote.
Ramanuja’s connection with Kashmir began in his youth. He was a student of Yadava Prakasa, a scholar who had traveled to Kashmir to study with Abhinavagupta, one of the most influential philosophers of Kashmir Shaivism. Ramanuja was deeply influenced by Abhinavagupta’s teachings, and he incorporated many of them into his own philosophy.
In 1076 CE, Ramanuja traveled to Kashmir himself to meet with Abhinavagupta. He stayed in Kashmir for several years, studying with Abhinavagupta and other scholars. During this time, he also wrote his magnum opus, the Sri Bhasya, a commentary on the Brahma Sutras.
One of the most famous stories about Ramanuja is the story of how he retrieved the Sampathkumar deity from the princess of Kashmir. The Sampathkumar deity is a murti, or image, of Vishnu as a child. It is said to be one of the most powerful images of Vishnu in the world.
The story goes that the princess of Kashmir was a devotee of Shiva. She had a beautiful garden in her palace, and in the garden she had a temple dedicated to Shiva. One day, a group of Vaishnavas came to the princess’s palace. They were led by Ramanuja.
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The Vaishnavas asked the princess if they could worship in her temple. The princess refused. She said that her temple was dedicated to Shiva, and she would not allow anyone else to worship there.
Ramanuja was disappointed, but he did not give up. He went to the garden and sat down under a tree. He began to meditate on Vishnu.After a while, Ramanuja had a vision. Vishnu appeared to him and told him that he would help him to retrieve the Sampathkumar deity.
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The next day, Ramanuja went back to the princess’s palace. He told her that he had had a vision from Vishnu. Vishnu had told him that the princess should give him the Sampathkumar deity. The princess was reluctant at first, but she eventually agreed to give the deity to Ramanuja. She said that she knew that Vishnu would be better served by Ramanuja than by her. And there are many more versions too, but that Ramanujar brought Sampathkumar to Melkote in not in dispute, as a historical fact.
What has these facts got to do with Art.370 proceedings before Supreme Court? Everything, as we could say. Kashmir may be a Muslim majority state or now union territory now. As Sheikh Abdullah once admitted willingly or otherwise, “Kashmiris cannot forget their Hindu heritage”.
A few more quotes from our leaders of prime actors vis a vis Art.370 may be par for our prime course : Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, one of the most powerful leaders in the Constituent Assembly, argued that Kashmir and India were “kissing cousins” who should be united. He said that Article 370 was necessary to protect the unique culture and identity of Kashmir, but that it should not be used to keep Kashmir separate from India.
Nehru, the prime minister of India, said that Article 370 was a “temporary measure” that would be reviewed after a few years. He argued that it was important to give Kashmir some autonomy in order to win over the hearts and minds of the Kashmiri people.
Mahatma Gandhi is reported to have warned that Article 370 could become a “sword of Damocles” hanging over India’s head. He said that it could lead to separatism and violence in Kashmir. True?
That sword is now being sought to be unsheathed in the Art.370 challenge?
(Author of Constitution & its Making/Working is practicing advocate in the Madras High Court)