Sharada Peeth

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Sharada Peeth
شاردا پیٹھ
Buddhist University - Sharda, Neelum Valley Pakistan.jpg
Ruins of Sharada Peeth
Basic information
Location Sharda, Azad Kashmir
Affiliation Hinduism
Deity Sharda, Brahma,[1] Vishnu,[2] Shiva[3]
Rite Shaivism, Shaktism, Vedism, Buddhism, Taoism
District Neelam Valley
Territory Azad Kashmir
Country Pakistan
Heritage designation Undesignated
Architectural style Kashmiri[4][5]
Specifications
Width 22 feet
Height (max) 16 feet
Site area 4 kanals (0.5 acre)[6]

Sharada Peeth (Urdu: شاردا پیٹھ‎) is an abandoned Hindu temple and ancient university along the Kishenganga in Sharda, Azad Kashmir. Between the 6th and 12th centuries AD, it was one of the foremost centres of higher learning in the Indian subcontinent,[7][8] hosting scholars such as Kalhana, Adi Shankara,[9] Vairotsana,[10] Kumarajiva,[11], and Thonmi Sambhota[12]. It is also said to be where Pāṇini and Hemachandra completed and stored their writings on Sanskrit grammar.[13]

Sharada Peeth has religious and spiritual significance for both Hindus and Buddhists. It is one of the three famous tirthas, or holy sites, of Kashmir, the other two being the Martand Sun Temple and the Amarnath Temple.[14] Kashmiri Pandits believe that Sharada in Kashmir is a tripartite embodiment of the goddess Shakti: Sharada (goddess of learning), Saraswati (goddess of knowledge), and Vagdevi (goddess of speech, which articulates power).[15]

Sharada Peeth is situated about 150 km from Muzaffarabad at an altitude of 1,981 meters above sea level,[16] in the valley of Mount Harmukh,[17] believed by Kashmiri Pandits to be the abode of Shiva.[18] Sharada Peeth is one of 18 Maha Shakti Peethas, or a "Grand Shakti Peethas" – highly revered temples throughout South Asia that commemorate the location of fallen body parts of the Hindu deity Sati.

History and etymology[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Sharada Peeth translates to "the seat of Sharada", the Kashmiri name for the Hindu goddess Saraswati.[19][20]

Early references[edit]

The earliest available references to Sharada Peeth are found in the Nilamata Purana, an ancient text that detailed sacred places, rituals and ceremonies in Kashmir.[21] In Rajatarangini, Kalhana describes its importance to Hindus.[22]

References from other regions[edit]

There is believed to be an ancient tradition among South Indian Brahmins of prostrating in the direction of Sharada Peeth before beginning their education.[23] Saraswat Brahmin communities in Karnataka are also said to move seven steps towards Kashmir and retrace their steps when conducting the Yagnopavit ceremony.[24]

The Chinese Buddhist monk, Xuanzang, visited this learning centre in 632 CE.[25] He stayed there for two years and appreciated the mental gifts of priests and students of this learning centre.[25] Kalhana wrote that during Lalitaditya's reign in the 8th century CE, some followers of a king of Gauda in Bengal came to Kashmir under the pretext of visiting the shrine,[citation needed] highlighting the significance of the temple throughout South Asia.

In the year 1030 CE, the Muslim historian Al-Biruni visited Kashmir. According to him, there was a wooden idol of Sri Sharada Devi in the temple.[26] He compared the temple to the Multan Sun Temple, Vishnu Chakraswamin temple at Thanesar and Somnath temple.[citation needed]

In a poetic work composed by Mahakavi Kalhana in the year 1148 CE, there is a mention of the temple and its geographic location. During the reign of Akbar in the 16th century, Grand Vizier Abu'l-Fazl ibn Mubarak, one of the famous Nava-Ratnas, wrote about the temple as being near the banks of river Madhumati, now known as the Neelum River, which is full of gold particles.[citation needed] Abu'l Fazl also wrote that one can experience miracles on every eighth day of the bright fortnight of the month here.[citation needed]

The temple had periodically fallen into disrepair by the 14th century. In the 14th century, the temple was attacked for the first time by Muslim invaders.[citation needed] After this attack, India started losing its contact with Krishanganga and Sharada Peeth. In the 19th century, Dogra king of Kashmir, Maharaja Gulab Singh, restored this temple.[27][28][29]

Following the brief 1947-1948 Kashmir war in the region between Pakistan and India, the site came under control of Pashtun tribesmen who invaded the region. Control was then passed to the newly formed government of Pakistan's Azad Kashmir. The site was heavily damaged in the 2005 Kashmir earthquake which struck the region, and has not been repaired since.

Sharada Peeth as a temple[edit]

Mythological associations[edit]

Kashmiri Pandits believe that a non-Brahmin rishi Muni Śāṇḍilya prayed to the goddess Sharada with great devotion, and was rewarded when she appeared to him and promised to show him her real, divine form. She advised him to look for the Śāradā forest. His journey was filled with miraculous experiences. On his way, he had a vision of the god Ganesha on the eastern side of a hill. When he reached the Kishenganga, he bathed in it and saw half his body turn golden. Eventually, goddess revealed herself to him in her triple form of Sharada, Saraswati and Vagdevi, and invited him to her abode. As he was preparing for a ritual, he drew water from the Mahāsindhu. Half of this water transformed into honey, and became a stream, now known as the Madhumatī stream.[30]

The pilgrimage[edit]

The Sharada Peeth pilgrimage parallels Muni Śāṇḍilya's mythological journey. Bathing in the confluence of the the Kishenganga River and Madhumatī stream is said to cleanse the pilgrim of their sins.[31]

Structure[edit]

The temple is currently abandoned and lies in ruin.

The length of the temple is 142 feet and width is 94.6 feet. The outer walls of the temple are 6 ft. wide and 11 ft long. And there are arches with 8 ft. height.

Significance[edit]

It has been suggested that although the Sharada script did not originate in Kashmir, it was used extensively in Kashmir, and acquired its name both through Kashmiri veneration of the goddess Sharada and through its extensive academic use in Sharada Peeth.[32] This has fed the popular belief that Sharada was developed in Kashmir.[33]

Kashmir was once centre of learning of Hindu Vedic works until the people dwelling in that region converted to Islam. Prior to this, Kashmir was sometimes called Sharada Desh because of this temple and Sharada was called Kashmira Puravasini (resident of city of Kashmir).[citation needed] The temple is so ancient that Kashmir State was earlier known as 'Sharada Peeth'.

Kashmiri Hindus remain highly devoted towards this deity, and by extension, to the Sharada Peeth temple.[34] As part of their daily worship, Kashmiri Hindus utter the phrase "Namastey Sharada Devi Kashmir Pur Vasini Tvam Ham Prartheye Nityam Vidya Danam Che De hi mey" (Salutations to you, O Sharada, O Goddess, O one who resides in Kashmir. I pray to you daily, please give me the charity of knowledge).

Location[edit]

The temple is set in a lush and verdant valley.
Sharada Peeth (Sarvajnapeetha) temple ruins, in Azad Kashmir

The temple is located in the remote village of Sharda, in Neelam Valley, at a distance of 42 miles from Baramulla and 93 miles from Muzaffarabad, and 60 miles from Srinagar. It lies 16 miles to the northwest of the Line of Control in a militarily sensitive area.[35]

According to the Prabhāvakacarita, a Jain historical work dated 1277–78, the Śvetāmbara scholar Hemacandra requested grammatical texts preserved here so he could compile his own grammar, the Siddhahema.[36] The Vaishnava saint Swami Ramanuja traveled all the way from Srirangam to refer to Bodhayana's vritti on Brahma Sutras preserved here, before commencing work on writing his commentary on the Brahma sutras, the Sri Bhasya. Near Sree Sharada Devi temple, there used to be famous Sanskrit university.

The Temple as a "Shakti Peeth"[edit]

Shakti Peethas are shrines or divine places of Shakti formed due to the falling of body parts of the corpse of Sati Devi, when Shiva carried it and wandered throughout Aryavartha in sorrow. There are 51 Shakti Peeth linking to the 51 alphabets in Sanskrit. Each temple has shrines for Shakti and Kalabhairava.

Sharada Peeth is one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peetha. Devi's Right hand is said to have fallen here. The Shakti worshiped here is the goddess of knowledge and education, Saraswathi otherwise known as Sarada. The mythology of Daksha yaga and Sati's self immolation had immense significance in shaping the ancient Sanskrit literature and even had cultural impact in India during olden times. It led to the development of the concept of Shakti Peethas and there by strengthening Shaktism.

Enormous mythological stories in puranas took the Daksha yaga as the reason for its origin. It is an important incident in Shaivism and Shaktism.[37]

Music[edit]

This temple is referred to in the Carnatic music song "kalAvathi kamalAsana yuvathi" by the famous composer Sri. Mutthuswami Dikshithar. The song set in the rAga yAgapriyA, in praise of Saraswathi, describes her as "kashmira vihara, vara sharadha" i.e. "one who resides in kashmir, sharadha".

Adi Shankara[edit]

Adi Shankara who opened southern door of Sharada Peeth or Sarvajna peeth

It is at this temple that Sankaracharya received the right to sit on the Sarvanjnanapeetham or Sarvajna peetha(Throne of Wisdom). The first verse of 'Prapanchsar' composed by Adi Shankaracharya is devoted to the praise of the temple's goddess, Sri Śāradā Devi. The Śāradā image at Shringeri Sharadamba temple in South India was once said to have been made of sandalwood, which is supposed to have been taken by Sankaracharya from here.[citation needed]

Legends[edit]

Near the temple is the Amarkund lake – where it is believed that Hindu Sage Shandilya used to meditate, and is further believed to have encountered the temple's deity.

Conservation[edit]

In 2007, a group of Kashmiri Pandits who were permitted to visit Azad Kashmir were denied permission visit the temple.[34]

There is a demand from certain section of Indian politicians that Pakistan should renovate this temple, in the same manner that it renovated the Katasraj Temple in Punjab.[38]

Pakistani Hindus rarely visit the temple, preferring to visit sites farther south in Sindh, Balochistan, and Punjab provinces. As such, restoration of the temple is not considered a priority in the manner that Katasraj Temple was regarded by the Pakistani government.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Raina, Dina Nath (1994). Kashmir - distortions and reality. Michigan: Reliance Publishing House, University of Michigan. p. 37. ISBN 8185972524. Apart from performing rites and rituals, as prescribed by the Shastras, the householders worshipped the Hindu Triad, namely Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. 
  2. ^ Raina, Dina Nath (1994). Kashmir - distortions and reality. Michigan: Reliance Publishing House, University of Michigan. p. 37. ISBN 8185972524. Apart from performing rites and rituals, as prescribed by the Shastras, the householders worshipped the Hindu Triad, namely Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. 
  3. ^ Raina, Dina Nath (1994). Kashmir - distortions and reality. Michigan: Reliance Publishing House, University of Michigan. p. 37. ISBN 8185972524. Apart from performing rites and rituals, as prescribed by the Shastras, the householders worshipped the Hindu Triad, namely Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. 
  4. ^ Singh, Rajesh. "The Unexplored Medieval Stone Temples of Kashmir". Heritage India Magazine. Archived from the original on 25 September 2018. Retrieved 25 September 2018. However, a few still stand in different states of preservation at places like Martand, Avantipur, Pattan, Buniar, Pandrethan and Payar, reflecting not only the remarkable temple construction activity that once existed in Kashmir but also showcasing a distinct architectural style. This style, while being inspired by foreign elements (as Kashmir is strategically located on one of the arteries of the ancient Silk-Route), also assimilated the essential features of indigenous temple architectural styles. 
  5. ^ Bangroo, Virender (July–September 2008). "Temple Architecture of Kashmir". Dialogue. 10 – via Astha Bharati. 
  6. ^ Kumar, Ramesh (16 December 1998 – 15 January 1999). "Sarada Pilgrimage - its Socio-Historicity - I" (PDF). Kashmir Sentinel. 5: 16. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 September 2018 – via 25 September 2018. 
  7. ^ Raina, Mohini Qasba (2013). Kashur: The Kashmiri Speaking People. Trafford Publishing. p. 191. ISBN 1490701656. The main centre of excellence was at Sharda Peeth - an ancient seat of learning on the banks of the river Kishenganga in the valley of Mount Harmukh. 
  8. ^ Raina, Dina Nath (1994). Kashmir - distortions and reality. Michigan: Reliance Publishing House, University of Michigan. p. 37. ISBN 8185972524. during which Kashmir emerged as the "Sharda Peeth", a hallowed place for ancient learning. 
  9. ^ Raina, Mohini Qasba (2013). Kashur: The Kashmiri Speaking People. Trafford Publishing. p. 191. ISBN 1490701656. 
  10. ^ Raina, Mohini Qasba (2013). Kashur: The Kashmiri Speaking People. Trafford Publishing. p. 191. ISBN 1490701656. 
  11. ^ Raina, Mohini Qasba (2013). Kashur: The Kashmiri Speaking People. Trafford Publishing. p. 191. ISBN 1490701656. 
  12. ^ Raina, Mohini Qasba (2013). Kashur: The Kashmiri Speaking People. Trafford Publishing. p. 191. ISBN 1490701656. 
  13. ^ Pollock, Sheldon (2006). The Language of the Gods in the World of Men. Los Angeles: University of California Press. p. 182. ISBN 0520245008. ...accordingly, being stored in its most perfect form in the temple of the Goddess of Speech in the far-off land of Kashmir, from where Hemacandra acquired his supremely authoritative exemplars, grammar was at the same time clearly a precious cultural good, one that could be imported and whose very possession secured high prestige for its possessor. 
  14. ^ Kumar, Ramesh (16 December 1998 – 15 January 1999). "Sarada Pilgrimage - its Socio-Historicity - I" (PDF). Kashmir Sentinel. 5: 16. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 September 2018 – via 25 September 2018. 
  15. ^ Kumar, Ramesh (16 December 1998 – 15 January 1999). "Sarada Pilgrimage - its Socio-Historicity - I" (PDF). Kashmir Sentinel. 5: 16. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 September 2018 – via 25 September 2018. 
  16. ^ YUSUF JAMEEL (16 July 2017). "Kashmiri Pandits want reopening of Sharda Peeth in PoK, plan to approach PM". Deccan Chronicle. 
  17. ^ Raina, Mohini Qasba (2013). Kashur: The Kashmiri Speaking People. Trafford Publishing. p. 191. ISBN 1490701656. The main centre of excellence was at Sharda Peeth - an ancient seat of learning on the banks of the river Kishenganga in the valley of Mount Harmukh. 
  18. ^ Ashraf, Mohammad (9 May 2007). "Haramukh and Gangabal, a historical perspective". Kashmir First. Archived from the original on 25 September 2018. Retrieved 25 September 2018. There used to be seventeen temples of various ages and dimensions here which had been built by different Kings of ancient Kashmir from time to time in honour of S’iva who according to legend, had taken residence here as Bhutesa. 
  19. ^ Raina, Mohini Qasba (2013). Kashur: The Kashmiri Speaking People. Trafford Publishing. p. 191. ISBN 1490701656. It is known as Sharda Peeth (the seat of Goddess Saraswati). 
  20. ^ Raina, Dina Nath (1994). Kashmir - distortions and reality. Michigan: Reliance Publishing House, University of Michigan. p. 38. ISBN 8185972524. No wonder that from remote ages, Kashmir became the seat of learning and earned for itself the appropriate name of Sharda Peeth or the seat of Sharda, the Goddess of Learning and Fine Arts. 
  21. ^ Raina, Dina Nath (1994). Kashmir - distortions and reality. Michigan: Reliance Publishing House, University of Michigan. p. 38. ISBN 8185972524. Earliest reference of this site can be found in the Purānas. The famous Nīlamata Purāna ofKashmir is an ancient Sanskrit work dealing with the Tīrathas (sacred places, peeth is also an alternative Hindi word), rituals and ceremonials of Kashmir (Kumari 1988: ii). 
  22. ^ Raina, Dina Nath (1994). Kashmir - distortions and reality. Michigan: Reliance Publishing House, University of Michigan. p. 38. ISBN 8185972524. Kalhaṇa also referred this place as the seat of great veneration to Hindus. 
  23. ^ Raina, Mohini Qasba (2013). Kashur: The Kashmiri Speaking People. Trafford Publishing. p. 191. ISBN 1490701656. Custom among South Indian Brahmans of prostrating in the direction of Sharda Peeth, in Kashmir, prior to initiation to formal education is still prevalent. 
  24. ^ Kumar, Ramesh (16 December 1998 – 15 January 1999). "Sarada Pilgrimage - its Socio-Historicity - I" (PDF). Kashmir Sentinel. 5: 16. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 September 2018 – via 25 September 2018. 
  25. ^ a b Chitkara (2002), p. 273.
  26. ^ Rashid, Salman (1 April 2018). "HERITAGE: GODDESS OF THE MOUNTAINS". DAWN. Retrieved 3 April 2018. 
  27. ^ [1] Archived 11 August 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  28. ^ "Sharda Temple Photo Gallery by Gharib Hanif at". Pbase.com. Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  29. ^ "National : Kashmiri Pandits want to visit Sharda Peeth in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir". The Hindu. 2005-02-27. Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  30. ^ Kalhana (1900). Kalhaṇa's Rājataraṅginī: A Chronicle of the Kings of Kaśmīr. Translated by Stein, Marc Aurel. Westminster: Archibald Constable and Company, Ltd. ISBN 9788120803718. 
  31. ^ Kalhana (1900). Kalhaṇa's Rājataraṅginī: A Chronicle of the Kings of Kaśmīr. Translated by Stein, Marc Aurel. Westminster: Archibald Constable and Company, Ltd. ISBN 9788120803718. 
  32. ^ Qazi, Junaid Ahmad; Samad, Abdul (January 2015). -, Shakirullah; Young, Ruth, eds. "Śarda Temple and the Stone Temples of Kashmir in Perspective: A Review Note". Pakistan Heritage. Hazara University Mansehra-Pakistan. 7: 111–120 – via Research Gate. One, on the account of many terms in some ancient works, associating Śāradā to Kashmir, it seems that it was not the name of script. However, it was given to primary script of Kashmir for being in the peak time for the veneration of the goddess of learning and words. 
  33. ^ Qazi, Junaid Ahmad; Samad, Abdul (January 2015). -, Shakirullah; Young, Ruth, eds. "Śarda Temple and the Stone Temples of Kashmir in Perspective: A Review Note". Pakistan Heritage. Hazara University Mansehra-Pakistan. 7: 111–120 – via Research Gate. One, on the account of many terms in some ancient works, associating Śāradā to Kashmir, it seems that it was not the name of script. However, it was given to primary script of Kashmir for being in the peak time for the veneration of the goddess of learning and words. 
  34. ^ a b "Pandits denied entry into temple in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir". The Hindu. 3 October 2007. Retrieved 2014-02-12. 
  35. ^ Bansi Pandit (2008), p. 75.
  36. ^ Pollock 2006, pp. 588–89
  37. ^ "Kottiyoor Devaswam Temple Administration Portal". Kottiyoordevaswom.com/. Retrieved 20 July 2013. 
  38. ^ Zee, News (2 May 2007). "Pak should renovate Sharada Temple in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir: Advani". Zee News.com. Retrieved 13 August 2012. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]