My Tryst with Sharda - A perspective

My Tryst with Sharda – A perspective
Ravinder Pandita

It was on 5t. September that I alongwith Sh. Mohan Krishan Mongha, an ardent devotee of Anand Dham Hushru in Kashmir visited Kashmir Bhawan in NAL Layout, Bangalore carrying a part of pious soil and a few flowers received by Post from Civil Society of POK in Sharda, Pakistan. Sharda is the basic seat of learning for every Kashmiri Pandit or for that matter all hindus in the country. It has a special flair for Shankracharya followers, as it was Shankaracharya who was instrumental in bringing back sanatan dharma to its pristine glory as Budhism had spread vast tentacles in Central Asia. History of Sharda civilisation is a vast subject and lot remains unexplored, till date.

With the formation of ‘Save Sharda Committee Kashmir (Regd.)', a pressure group for the re-opening of the pilgrimage, has come into force. Not going deep into history, the last pilgrimage undertaken was by Swami Nand Lal Ji, a great saint of North Kashmir. It is said that Swami Ji was having a great following in the village of Sharda including the numberdar of the village called Zaman Khan. During the partition and violent trouble caused by tribal raiders, Swami Ji had to come to Tikker alongwith his followers that included greats like Shamboo Nath Thusu, J L Kilam, SK Raina, J L Peshin and others.
Though several KP organisations have pressed for Re-opening of Sharda pilgrimage in the past, but prominent among these has been APMCC (All Parties Migrants Co-ordination Committee), whose chairman Sh. Vinod Pandit sat twice on indefinite fast one in Jammu and the other in Porbander Gujarat, demanding the pilgrimage as well as setting up of Sharda University in J&K. After the Musharaf- Vajpayee sumit, things became rosy once LoC permit came into vogue that envisages J&K residents to travel across LoC on a permit to meet their relatives. The application has to be made to RPO Jammu or RPO Srinagar, but the impugned permit is clearly meant for meeting relatives living across the LoC, meaning thereby Kashmiri pundits cannot avail of this facility despite being domiciles of J&K. Save Sharda Committee Kashmir (Regd.) developed contacts with prominent citizens of Sharda in PoK last year thus paving a way for some confidence building and a way forward to the pilgrimage. It demanded and got amn admission from last High Commissioner of Pakistan Sh. Abdul Basit also in a TV conclave in New Delhi. Abdul Basit madeadmission for allowing the pilgrimage. The committee got a boost in arm when its members approached Home Minister and Prime Minister in writing and has held several meetings in this regard with many ministries at the centre, Save Sharda Committee Kashmir (Regd.) has primarily being demanding amendment to LoC permit rules to the extent that Sharda pilgrimage be also included besides meeting relatives, on the lines of Nankana Sahib yatra being held every year at Lohore by Sikhs of India. The committee has also demanded that the “meeting their relatives’ is a discriminatory instruction as it applies to a particular community alone. The ministries and officials including top brass of BJP has got convinced, but the technicalities mar the matter.
Save Sharda Committee Kashmir Regd. Got flowers laid at the sanctum temple in Sharda in November last year and the same was sent by the civil society members to Sh. Ravinder Pandita, founder member of the committee at his address in New Delhi. Therafter the pious soil was taken to Jammu in January and tilak of the soil applied on the foreheads at a big function organised at Abhinav Theatre organised by APMCC. Prominent personalities in the event included Cabinet ministers Sh. Chander Prakash Ganga, Ms. Priya Sethi, MLCs Ramesh Arora and Surinder Ambardar, Lt. Gen. Retd. Ata Hasnain, Bollywood actress Priti Sapru, Swami Kumar Ji, Vinod Pandit (APMCC) and Ravinder Pandita ( SSCK). Thereafter in March this year Save Sharda Committee Kashmir Regd. Sent a photo of Maa Sharda and got the same installed in the Sharda temple in POK, Pakistan. The Civil society in Sharda have been quite co-operative and want the yatra should be resumed. The founder member of the Save Sharda committee, being a follower of Swami Nand Lal Ashram feels it to be his duty to pay obeisance at the revered shrine again, and get the pilgrimage restored that has not taken place again since 1947. APMCC has been instrumental in successfully organising Gangbal Yatra in Kashmir since 2008 and Daneshwar yatra in Bandipora. Though Kaunsarnag yatra was aborted in 2014 due to pressure from separatists in the valley, despite permission.
The Civil society in POK has eminent members in researchers like Ms. Rukhsana Kahan, Tanveer Ahmed, Rayees Mohd. ( a forestor), Bashir Khan (Sarpanch), Maqbool Haidiri, Haji Shafi Mohd, Haji Shabir, Sabir Abbasi, Dost Khan, Arif Mir to mention a few. But the travel documentation and its technicalities have created hurdles. Now the ball has been set in motion, it seems that the yatra to our basic seat of learning is not a distant dream. Save Sharda Committee Kashmir ( Regd. ) in its endeavour desires that the pious soil reaches all Shankaracharya mutts in India, besides prominent ashrams and community centres across the country. It was in this attempt that SSCK presented this pious soil recently to Kashmir Bhawan in Bangalore, where tilak of the soil was applied to all biradari members. Later a tree was planted in the campus with this soil named ‘Sharda Tree’. SSCK also visited Gokarna Mutt head of Shankracharya following and presented the same to the mutt too. Later a seminar was organised in the bhawan of Preservation of Sharda Language, for which many KP organisations are trying their wee bit so that the language is preserved amongst the The need of the hour is to generate awareness about our isht devi and the basic seat of learning i.e. SHARDA ! It should be everybodys endeavour at all forums to highlight Sharda that connects us to the basic roots. The Govt. of India should be approached by all like minded people for the re-opening of the pilgrimage on the lines of Nankana Sahib pilgrimage by Sikhs in Lahore, every year.

Jai Sharda !!

(The author is the Founder member of Save Sharda Committee Kahmir Regd, and Delhi-NCR head of APMCC. A follower of Swami Nand Lal ashram)