The Kashmiri people are a Dardic ethnic group living in the region of Kashmir who speak the Kashmiri language. Kashmiri is "a Northwestern Dardic language of the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-Iranian subfamily of the Indo-European language family. which is also known as Koshur and hence are classified as a Dardic people.
History & Origins
Originally, the Kashmiris were mostly Buddhist, Hindu, and Pagan. Islam was introduced by Sufi saints from Central Asia, Hazrat Bulbul Shah of Anatolia being the most prominent of them. Prince Rinchin of Ladakh, a Buddhist who was living in Jammu & Kashmir at the time came under the influence of Saint Bulbul Shah and converted to Islam. Later on after the defeat of the Hindu ruler Suhadeva by Dulchu, Suhadeva fled Kashmir, and Rinchin became King of Jammu & Kashmir and adopted the name Malik Saduruddin. Eventually the majority of Kashmiris adopted Islam and became Muslim, although there are still small communities of Hindus and Sikhs living in the Kashmir Valley, the former being known as Kashmiri Pandits. Due to the large Kashmiri diaspora during The 1947 War, atleast 6% of Pakistanis claim Kashmiri ancestry.
The Kashmir region enjoys significant ethnic, cultural and religious diversity. The region has historically been an important centre for Hinduism and Buddhism. Islam was introduced in the medieval centuries, and Sikhism also spread to the region under the rule of the Sikh Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries. Kashmir has a significant place in the mythology and history of all four religions. The region derives its name from the Hindu sage Rishi Kashyapa and is believed to have been the abode of the celestial Nagas. The region is home to many legendary Hindu and Buddhist monuments and institutions. The Hazratbal shrine houses a relic that is believed to be the hair of Muhammad (PBUH), the prophet of Islam. In his journeys seeking religious enlightenment, Guru Nanak travelled to Kashmir.
Kashmiriyat is believed to have developed under the rule of Muslim governor Zain ul Abedin and the Mughal emperor Akbar, both of whom gave equal protection, importance and patronage to Kashmir's different religious communities.
Kashmir's existence is characterised by its insular Himalayan geography, harsh winter climate and isolation in economic and political terms. The region has also seen political turmoil and foreign invasions. Kashmiriyat is believed to be an expression of solidarity, resilience and patriotism. It is believed to embody an ethos of harmony and a determination of survival of the people and their heritage. To many Kashmiris, Kashmiriyat demanded religious and social harmony and brotherhood. It has been strongly influenced by Shaivism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Sufism, carrying a long-standing conviction that any and every religion will lead to the same divine goal.
Kashmir was also influenced by the Mughal emperor Akbar's genesis of a syncretic philosophy of `Din-i-Illahi, which emphasized the blending of Hindu and Muslim ideals and values. Works in the Kashmiri language, art, culture and literature strongly expound and emphasize Kashmiriyat as a way of life. However, the impact and importance of Kashmiriyat has been concentrated mainly in the Vale of Kashmir and Jammu. The farther regions of Gilgit, Baltistan and Ladakh have been influenced by the philosophy to a lesser extent.
Kashmiri is a language from the Dardic sub-group of the Indo-Aryan group of languages and it is spoken primarily in the Kashmir Valley, in the Indian Administered part of Jammu and Kashmir. There are approximately 5,554,496 speakers in India, according to the Census of 2001. Most of the 105,000 speakers or so in Pakistan are Ã©migrÃ©s from the Kashmir Valley after the partition of India.They include only a few speakers residing in border villages in Neelum District as well as individuals who settled in the towns in the plains of West Punjab after the partition.
The Kashmiri language is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India, and is a part of the Sixth Schedule in the constitution of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Along with other regional languages mentioned in the Sixth Schedule, as well as Hindi and Urdu, the Kashmiri language is to be developed in the state. Some Kashmiri speakers frequently use Hindi or English as a second language. Since November 2008, the Kashmiri language has been made a compulsory subject in all schools in the Valley up to the secondary level.
In 1919 George Abraham Grierson wrote that â€œKashmiri is the only one of the Dardic languages that has a literatureâ€. Kashmiri literature dates back to over 750 years, this is, more-or-less, the age of many a modern literature including modern English.
There are three orthographical systems used to write the Kashmiri languageâ€”these are the Perso-Arabic script, the Devanagari script, and the Sharada script; additionally, due to internet technology, the Roman script is sometimes used to write Kashmiri, especially online. The Kashmiri language was traditionally written in the Sharada script after the 8th Century A.D. This script however, is not in common use today, except for religious ceremonies of the Kashmiri Pandits. However, today, it is written in the Perso-Arabic (with some modifications) and Devanagari scripts. Among languages written in the Perso-Arabic script, Kashmiri is one of the very few which regularly indicates all vowel sounds. This script has been in vogue since the Muslim conquest in India and has been used by both Muslims and Hindus for centuries, in the Kashmir Valley. However, today, the Kashmiri Perso-Arabic script has come to be associated with Kashmiri Muslims, while the Kashmiri Devanagari script, has come to be associated with the Kashmiri Hindu community, who employ the latter script.
Kashmiri, like German and Old English and unlike other Indo-Aryan languages, has V2 word order.
There are four cases in Kashmiri: nominative, genitive, and two oblique cases: the ergative and the dative case.
Kashmiri is rich in Persian words, much as is the case with Urdu. In reference, Shashishekhar Toshkhani, a scholar on Kashmir's heritage, provides a detailed analysis where he shows extensive linguistic relationship between the Sanskrit language and the Kashmiri language, and presents detailed arguments contesting George Grierson's classification of the Kashmiri language as a member of the Dardic sub-group (of the Indo-Aryan group of languages.)