The term Jew has been derived from Judah or the follower of Judaism. The word is pronounced in various languages like this:
It may incidentally be remarked that Joo or Jeo used to be the prefix of every name in Kashmir in the past
The Children of Israel
The Israelites or the Children of Israel are known as Bani-Israel in the East. Jacob had twelve sons from his legal wives and concubines and from them are derived the twelve tribes of Israel. Two divisions marked themselves off according to descent from Leah or Rachel. As such, Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulon reckoned themselves as of the former and Joseph and Benjamin as of the latter. The inferior lineage from the concubines consisted of children of two groups; Gad and Asher of one group and Dan and Naphtali of the other group. However, they all knew themselves as children of the same father.
They fought among themselves for the holy land, with the result that Joshua partitioned them into two groups, and got them settled in the divided Palestine. Saul united them and Solomon gave them prosperity. But due to their internal strife, they got divided again, and two tribes were lost to them. Subsequently, the remaining ten tribes became slaves of various kings, with the result that they got scattered in different lands. They also got mixed up with other nationalities and lost their identity. It was only some remnants that remained in Palestine. The fate of the ten tribes has become a mystery. Hence, it became a mission of the Hebrew prophets to search out these tribes and make them settle in the holy land.
In the 6th century B.C., the Jews suffered persecution and had to run away toward Syria and Babylon. In subsequent years, most of them were arrested and made prisoners. Persecution of the Jews continued for centuries: they were either killed, made prisoners or had to run away. During the period of the Indo-Greek kings most of the Jews, who were skilled in many arts, migrated towards Afghanistan, Bactria, and hilly areas of Gilgit. During the succeeding periods, they were lost in various lands, for they had traversed long distances. They are said to have reached Gaznah and the country of the Kush where a river flows.
They also reached the outskirts of Kashmir and settled in Hazara. Definite information is available about the Hebrew tribes of Hazara who mostly occupied themselves in trade and commerce. Hazara is situated towards South-West of Kashmir. The existence of Jews in Central Asian countries bas been testified by various authors.
The story of Hebrew settlements in Egypt is very old, when they migrated to that land and worked as agriculturists. It goes to the period when the Hyksos ruled over Egypt. Moses assembled them and induced them to migrate from Egypt. It was Rameses II who util-ised them for construction works. In about 1230 B.C. they revolted against the Egyptians. During the days of David, they attained supremacy in the region now known as Israel. David established his camp at Jerusa-lem, which became a political, as well as a religious centre for them. Under Solomon, they built the capital at Jerusalem, with hamlets, markets and the famous Temple. But in later periods, they divided themselves into two major groups, with the result that Egyptians sacked Israel and destroyed the Temple at Jerusalem. During the succeeding period they suffered untold miseries and were transported to foreign lands as slaves. In about 590 B.C. Psametik of Egypt utilised them as mercenaries but they had to migrate again from that country.
Hebrews in Persia
In about 539 B.C. the Babylonians were defeated by Cyrus the Great. The Jews hailed this defeat, for they had suffered at the hands of the Babylonians, who had burnt the Temple at Jerusalem. Most of them had been carried away as slaves to Babylon and employed as agricultural labour. Cyrus the Great not only liber-ated them from slavery, but allowed them to settle down in Palestine. They were allowed to establish their state and build the Temple at Jerusalem, under the patronage of the Emperor. Having attained freedom and status, most of them settled in Persia, and established themselves as rich traders. Now, they started to move towards the east and went as far as Central Asia. However, they looked to Jerusalem as their spiritual centre. where Menahem had established a subject state of Judea. Sensing that he had become too powerful, the Persians overthrew him in about 485 B.C. Incidentally, it may be mentioned that the Jews thought of Cyrus the Great as their saviour and made him a god in their writings. However, Jews not only influenced the Zoroastrians of Persia, but also were influenced by the foreign doctrines, this resulting in a mixed ethical and religious code. It was a happy blending of Judaic and Zoroastrian thought. It was during this period that Persian art and architecture entered Palestine, and the Jews built large and luxurious villas there. But during the later period, reaction prevailed among the Jews and the priestly class under the guidance of Ezra succeeded in estab-lishing orthodoxy among them. He forbade modernism and foreign ideas and even forced the Jews to abandon Persian wives. This resulted in complete isolation of the Jews of Palestine from Israelis of other lands.
Division Among Bani-Israel
Bani-Israel and its downfall began with the death of Solomon. After having ruled for forty years, Rehoboam, his son, sat on the throne. Various tribes of the Bani-Israel joined to present their demands before the new king, who rejected them with contempt.
Out of these tribes, the ten tribes became angry and declared Jeroboam as their ruler and named their state Israel, while only two tribes who had remained faithful to Rehoboam called their kingdom Judea. From this period, the division started among the Children of Israel. Both the kingdoms fought many battles and destroyed each other. The kingdom of Judea was destroyed in 597 B.C. by Babylon, while the kingdom of Israel was destroyed in 721 B.C. by the Ashureans. It was after this destruction that the remaining ten tribes were made captives and settled in Khurasan, Iran and Sind.
Jews in Greece
It was in about 600 B.C. that the Jewish tribes came into contact with the Greeks. Accordingly, they adopted the Greek architecture and arts. During this period, the Jews quarreled among themselves and were divided into many sects. In 323 B.C. Alexander the Great conquered Egypt and the Egyptian Jews rendered all assistance to him, for which they received many privileges. They considered him as their liberator and joined his army as mercenaries. When Alexander passed through Palestine and Syria, the Jews came forward to welcome him. Alexander marched towards Persia and subdued it very easily. He then followed up his victories with an invasion of what had been the Persian territory in India. He reached on the Beas river when his troops refused to go further. He therefore kept some garrisons under the Greek commanders to guard his eastern dominion. In this way, his Jewish mercenaries not only settled in the northwest of India but in other regions also.
It was in about 260 B.C. that the Torah was translated into Greek. It was due to their contact with the Greeks that they spread towards the northern shores of the Mediterranean sea.
Israelis in Afghanistan
The Bactrians and the Scythians are early tribes that settled in the region now known as Afghanistan. The Sumerians, the Persians, Armenians and the Af-ghans belong to the same race of the Caucasoids of the Mediterranean stock. However, the Armenoids are predominant among the Afghans. It is a historical fact that Afghanistan was an important country, through which the routes to the Persian region, Asia Minor, Kashmir and central Asia have passed since ancient times, In fact, the word Afghan comes from the Armenian word,Aghvan, meaning the mountaineers. This establishes a historical connection between the Afghans and the Syrian captives of Armenia.
Some of the Afghan tribes trace their genealogies to the Hebrew prophets and some claim a descent from the Israeli tribe of Kish. This would show that the Afghans are the remnant of the ten lost tribes of Israel. Both Assyria and Persia established their colonies in Afghanistan, with captives from Syria, who were Jews. It is for this reason that some tribes in Afghanistan, still call themselves Bani-Israel, the Children of Israel. It was during the Arab occupation that they were converted to Islam.
Among the tribes of Afghanistan we find names which indicate their connection with the Greeks from prehistoric times. But it was during the invasion of Alexander that the Greeks not only settled in various parts of Afghanistan but also established their kingdoms in the region. It is interesting to know that about seventy Israeli priests settled in Herat, Afghanistan. Some Israeli prophets are buried at Balkh, and Ibn-i-Betuta, the famous world traveller, makes special mention about the tomb of Ezekiel there. Another prophet of the Jews, Samuel, is buried on the side of the road leading to Khurasan from Hamadan. Another Israeli prophet is buried at Rang-barang near Bajoor in Afghanistan.
It is interesting to note that the Afghans carry their tribal names even at present and use them as cognomens. Prominent among these tribes are the clans of Amma-zye, Davood-zye, Abrahim-zye, Shemoo-zye, Yusuf-zye, Ayub-khel, Haroon-khel, Issa-khel, Ishaq-khel, Mysa-khel, Sulaiman-khel Yayah-khel, Yaqoob-khel, Yunus-khel and Zakaria-khel. All these clans possess ancestral pedigrees which carry their ancestral line right back to Jacob. These Records of Rights are also preserved in the Revenue Archives of each region of Afghanistan, Chitral and Peshawar.
The Afghans call themselves Bani Israel or the Children of Israel. They say that they migrated to Ghore and Bamean during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. They were converted to Islam due to the efforts of Khalid ibn al-Walid in about 633 A.D. For their services to him in the wars against the infidels, they were honoured with the title of Butan which has changed to Pathan now. Some Afghans claim their descent from Cush and Ham and call themselves Bani Israel. They have mixed the Mosaic Law into their moral code.
Jews in India
There is a theory that like the Aryans, the Semites also originated from India, and migrated towards the west. It is further observed that the extraordinary persistence of the Jewish community has its origin in the caste system of the Hindus, where the Brahmins would never mix with other people nor allow any one to join their caste. However, it cannot be denied that there had been much traffic between the northwest India and the middle east during ancient times. Even at present, there are Hebrew settlements on the western coast of India, at Bombay, Cochin, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. In Kerala, the Jews are divided into the white Jews and the black Jews. Both groups do not mix, but rather, look down upon each other, each claiming to belong to the original followers of Judaism. They came to Kerala 2000 years ago and the king granted lands in their favour. One of their chiefs, Joseph Rabban, was granted the title of Srinadon Moplah.
Recent researches have revealed the existence of the remnants of Bani Israel in Burma, Nagaland and Kashmir. The Pashtoon community living in Gutli Bagh, Ganderbal, in Kashmir have claimed that they are from the Children of Israel. They say that have migrated from Afghanistan, where live the other tribes of Bani-Israel. They were once followers of Moses and later converted to Islam.
We are informed that the first two tribes which were deported to Afghanistan were that of Gad and Reuben. This happened when Ashurnazirpal ruled over Assyria. Maybe this migration took place during the last decade of the 8th century B.C. Out of the two tribes mentioned above, the Reubenites proceeded further towards Hazara and Kashmir while the Gaddites permanently settled in Afghanistan. The descendants of the Gaddites are known as Gadd-rani during present times. According to another source, this deportation of Jews to Afghanistan continued in an organised manner up to the reign of Nebuchadrezzer (539 B.C.). It will be of interest to know that Nebuchadrezzer is known in Kashmir as Bakhatnasser and there are many stories woven around his name: among the Kashmiris, a person who is a dandy and a rogue is nicknamed as Bakhatnasser.
The Israeli tribes who had suffered persecutions got themselves settled in the hilly areas and valleys of Kashmir, Hazara, Gilgit, and Chitral. A majority among them changed their religion from time to time and became Buddhists, Shaivites and Muslims. It has been observed by many writers that their faces, conduct and behaviour shows that they are the descendents of the ancient race of Israel.
It has been testified by Christian missionaries that the Kashmiris are the descendants of the Hebrews. Evidence regarding the existence of Jewish literature has been also found. It is related that an old manuscript of the Torah in Hebrew was procured from Kashmir by a Christian missionary.
Another writer, who conducted the land settlement of the Kashmir valley during the 19th century, states that the majority of the Kashmiri people belong to the Semitic race. The facial features of their women are generally like those of their Jewish counterparts. It appears that the Kashmiris are no more than the lost tribes of Israeli.
The valley of Kashmir is known by its inhabitants as Kasheer because it was a settlement of a race known as Kash or Cush who were of Semitic origin. These people found the towns of Kash, Kashan and Kashgar. Kash is a town in Bukhara, Kashan exists in Iran and Kashgar lies in the Chinese Turkistan.
From earliest times, Kashmir is known as a paradise on earth. It has been claimed that many patients who suffered from fever and stomach trouble recovered by drinking water from its springs. Occasionally, sterile women got pregnant here. God almighty has given many blessings to this land, and for this reason, Kashmir is called the blessed land. Holy scriptures of the east have acclaimed it as the land of bliss. It is a!so a historical fact that many prophets and saints of the world have visited Kashmir during their lifetimes.
Kashur means the abode of the Kashur people and Kashur means those who eat meat. The Hindus believe that as their religious shrines are situated in the valley. Kashmir is also known as the Garden of Solomon, said to have been populated by Solomon in 100 B.C.
In order to save themselves during the invasion of Alexander, some of the Jewish tribes spread into the mountain valleys of the Himalayas. They also reached Kashmir and Tibet via Afghanistan. These people brought their religious relics with them. Claudius found an ancient copy of the Torah in Kashmir which was written on leather and 48 feet in length.
The Kush Tribe
Kush or Cush was the son of Ham and a grandson Noah. He was the founder of the Kash or Cush tribe, which settled in the east. This tribe founded Kash, a village near Bagdad. These people named rivers, mountains, cities and countries after the name of their ancestor Kash or Cush. In Mesopotamia, they founded a kingdom, and the Kashan river in that country is a testimony of this fact. Kashmar, a village near Nishapur in Iran, was also founded by them. This tribe also proceeded towards Central Asia and founded many settlements. Kashmohra, a village in Merv; Kash, a village in Bokhara; Kashband and Kashania, villages in Samarkand, were their settlements in central Asia. In Mesopotamia, the tribe founded the towns of Kashan, Kashaf and Kashi. They also moved towards Afghanistan and founded settlements at Kashkar, Kashhil, Kashek and Kashu. While the Hindu-Kush mountains are named after them, they also founded a settlement south of this mountain range known as Kashmor.
It was Babar the founder of the Moghul dynasty in India who pointed out in his memoirs that the etymology of the word Kashmir is derived from the Kash or Cush tribe which inhabited the valley. This tribe settled in the region now known as Kashtawar, in the Doda District of Kashmir. Crossing the Pir-Panjal range, these people spread in the valley of Kashmir. Kush-tawar, in the Pulwama District, Kashnag, a spring in the Anantnag District, and Isae-Kush village bear the name of this tribe. These people were led by their leader. Kashyapa into the valley and, according to an old tradition, the name Kashmir is derived from him. However. there is no linguistic evidence to support this idea, because the whole fable of Kashyapa and his progeny is astronomical. Had Kashyapa drained the valley of its waters or found his progeny in any part of the valley, its capital would have been termed as Kash-yapa-nagar or Kash-yapa-pur, as is the way with the etymologies of that period. According to the latest geological researches, it has been established that the valley of Kashmir was a lake millions of years back and its water found its outlet by the volcanic agency through a narrow gorge at Baramulla.
However, it can not be denied that the Kush or Cush tribe established their kingdom in the valley, and history records some kings of this tribe, namely, Utpa-la-Kusha and Hirneya-Kusha. The latter has also been mentioned as the hero of a fairy tale in the Katha-sarit-sagara, an ancient Sanskrit work of Kashmir. It also records Kanaka-Kusha, his father, as one of the kings of Kashmir. It is not only that one of the Semitic tribes, namely the Kash or Cush, settled in the valley, then, but there is historical evidence regarding dispersement of the other Israeli tribes around the valley of Kashmlr. The tribes mentioned in the Old Testament and those who retained their names in Kashmir are mentioned in other works. The Book of Esther gives an account of a king who reigned from India to Ethiopia and whose kingdom consisted of 127 provinces. lt states:
The above account establishes very ancient contacts between India and the middle east. It was during his reign that the Jews established themselves throughout the empire, with the result that Haman, the new minister at court, complained that these people had scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of the kingdom.
The Nila-mata-Purana is an ancient Sanskrit work dealing with the legends concerning the origin of Kashmir, its inhabitants, sacred places and rituals. It makes mention of the following tribes which settled in the valley of Kashmir, when it emerged out of the lake:
Out of the list, the Darvas, the Abhesuerus and the Khashas are primarily the Jewish tribes. As regards the Abhesuerus, the tribe after the name of the emperor Ahasuerus deserves special mention. They were the famous people who helped the Assakenoi In offering resistance to the Greeks. Alexander the Great confirmed their ruler under the title of Satrap. It is evident that, like the Cush tribe, the Abhesuerus had attained prominence in Kashmir.
Advent of Buddha
According to the Buddhist chronicles preserved in the Hemis monastery in Ladakh, there have existed many previous Buddhas before the time when Sakyamuni Buddha made his advent into this world. He is mentioned as the king over the three thousand worlds of suffering beings. According to these chron-icles, there are even Buddhas who are supreme and who have power over transmigration. The rulers of the world divided into the two categories: the Buddha rulers and the non-Buddha rulers. The former came to this world to do good to humanity and save them from sufferings. Sakyamuni Buddha was the Son of God and his mother was the best and purest of the daughters of men. She was a virgin when she gave birth to Buddha. He was tempted several times by the Devil but did not succumb to these temptations. During the period of temptation he was on a fast for forty days. He performed many miracles and gave impressive sermons to the multitude. He talked in parables and explained spiritual matters by means of physical analogies. He showed the way to obtain perfection of virtues, so as to attain nirvana or eternal bliss.
Soon after his demise, the leadership of the community came into the hands of Sriputra, who did the same thing as Paul did to the original teachings of Christ. He gave emphasis to orthodox views with the result that a division crept into the Buddhist Sangha. The first Buddhist Council to settle the differences was held at Rajagarha. The second Council was held about a hundred years later at Vashali but without much success. The Buddhists split into two major sects known as Thera-vadins and Sarvasti-vadins.
The third Buddhist Councll was held at Pataliputra in the 3rd century B.C. It was called by Ashoka the Great for settlement of differences among the orthodox and the progressive schools. Ashoka did invaluable service to Buddhism by deputing missionaries towards the eastern and the western regions bordering India. During his reign, Buddhism got a foothold not only in India but outside in central Tibet, Burma, Thailand, Afghanistan, Persia and Kashmir. We find a Buddhist mission from the river Ganges in India reached the court of Philadelphus (285-246 B.C.) at Alexandria. The king was a patron of culture and had obtained the Hebrew sacred books for translation purposes. The Buddhist mission from India not only found a welcome at his court but patronage also, for he was very much interested in ancient laws and scriptures.
The Jewish population of Alexandria resided in a compact quarter in the north of the city. It is probable the Buddhist mission from India got settled adjacent to the Jewish community. The Theravadins influenced the Essene Order to such an extent that they came to be known as "Therapeuts." Philo speaks of the Therapeuts as those Essenes who of their own free will retired into solitude and who from love of godliness and heavenly things passed their time in studying religion and nature. "They live in several places in Palestine and Egypt, and in this last country their greatest congregation was in the vicinity of the city of Alexandria. lt is certain that links between the Indian Buddhists and the commun-ities living in Egypt and Palestine date back to the 3rd century B.C.
The next important event in the history of Buddhism is the conversion of Menandera, a king of a Bactrian dynasty of Greek origin, to Buddhism. The king was defeated by the famous Buddhist philosopher of Kashmir, Nagasena, in a discussion held at a place in the vicinity of Kashmir. Henceforth, the Indo-Greeks appear to have accepted the doctrines of Buddhism. In the first century, the Kushans emerged as the foremost ruling dynasty in the north of India including Afghanistan. It was Kanishka who convened the fourth Buddhist Council in Kashmir. Henceforth the Mahayana or the progressive Buddhism penetrated into Central Asia from Kashmir and then spread out in China and Korea and thence to Japan. It is during this very period that we find a saintly person in Kashmir to have come from a far-off land claiming that he is known as Ishvera-putra or the Son of God and Kanyagarbha or born of a girl. We will take up this issue in subsequent pages.
Many scholars have pointed out that the Kashmiris prepare their graves on the model of the Jewish tombs. Such graves are called Mosai graves and are oriented east and west. The Gujjars in Kashmir, who are Muslims, term themselves as the descendants of Israel. Their dress, as well as the fashion of their hair, is peculiar to the Jewish style. The paddle used by the Kashmiri boatmen is on the model of a heart and is in vogue even at present. Such paddles are never used in any country of the world except Palestine and Kashmir. The Kashmiri boatmen call themselves the descendents of the prophet Noab. Old architecture in Kashmir reveals that the stairs leading to it are always from West. This is not the case with the ancient Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist architecture.
At Aish Muqam, we have the rod of Moses, which is called Asai-Sharif or the esteemed staff.
Tomb of Moses
The circumstances under which Moses died are shrouded in mystery. Nothing is known about the tomb of Moses, except that he was buried in the valley of Moab near Bethpeor, situated in a far-off land in the east. It is believed that Moses was buried on the hill of Nabu overlooking the valley of Lolab and Bandipur in Kashmir. Some historical material is available to show that Moses came to Kashmir. Some of the towns and hills are still named after him. It is also stated that Moses came to Kashmir in his last days. He was buried on the hill of Nabu in the Bandipur. His tomb is visited by many a Kashmiri devotee. According to some, Moses came to Kashmir to preach them the word of God. The Jews believe that Moses disappeared and went to the Land of Promise, in a far-off land in the east.
It is surprising that the five places mentioned regarding the Land of Promise - Bethpeor, Hesbun, Pisgah, Mount Nabu and the valley of Moab - do exist in Kashmir even at present. According to the western scholars all these places have remained unidentified. But the Survey of India map would reveal that all these places can be located in the Bandipur area. Bethpeor was known earlier as Behatpur in Kashmir and now is known as Bandipur. Hashbon is now known as Hashba, Pisgah is known as Pish, Moab is known as Mowu and Nabu is known as Nabo or Nil-toop. All the above-mentioned places do exist in the area in which the tomb of Moses is situated.
Moses was a prophet and was ordered by God to refrain from entering Palestine and to die on the hill of Nabo.
"Go thee, unto Mount Nabo and die, but thou shalt not go unto the land which I give to the children of Israel."
He had to obey the commands, and went to Kashmir. People believed in him and his tomb is known as the shrine of the "Prophet of the Book".
The Jews, after having settled in Kashmir, founded many villages and towns, some of which exist even at present. The immigration of Jewish groups into Kashmir continued for many centuries and they continued also to adopt local religions. A stage came when the Kashmiri stopped such infiltration, however, and would allow only one or two Jews to enter the val-ley every year.
Thus, it is not strange that many place names which have given in the Torah and the Bible also exist in Kashmir. Reference is invited to the following table, which shows still existing settlements:
The Jews uphold such things as daily worship, regular prayers, intensive study and dietary laws known as Kashrut. They insist on the separation of men and women in the synagogue. They also do not permit music during religious ceremonies. The same is the case with the Kashmiris, who arc very particular about intensive studies, regular prayers, dietary laws and the separation of men and women during prayers. No instrumental music is played at the time of religious congregations.
Impact of Jewish Immigrations
The Jewish immigration resulted in much influ-ence on the language, custom and behaviour of the Kashmiris. It is not the scope of this book to give a detailed account of the similarities between the Israel-ites and the Kashmiris, but a general review of the impact of Jewish influence can be summarised in the foregoing paragraphs.
There are many Hebrew words in the present day Kashmiri language. The ratio has been fixed at 9 per cent - and such Hebrew words are still in vogue. Hebrew has influenced the Kashmiri language for nearly two thousand years. The early Jewish tribes who came to Kashmir from central Asia spoke the Aramaic language, and this language gradually became the Kashmiri language.
The Kashmiri Language
The aboriginal tribes which settled in the valley of Kashmir after its emergence from water evolved their own language, which may be termed as original Kashmiri. But with the advent of other tribes, such as the Khasite Aryans, their language underwent a change. However, research reveals that the original Kashmiri words, idioms and proverbs are a mixture of many languages such as Aramaic, Hebrew, Sanskrit and Persian. The Kassites were a sub-stock of the Aryans whose exploits are shrouded in mystery. We hear of them as Kish in the Old Testament. They established themselves as rulers of Babylonia in about 1780 B.C. and named their capital Kish. They established a settlement in Persia with the name of Kashan. After having crossed the Hindo-Kush, they found Kashgar in Central Asia. Having crossed the Indus, they settled in Kishtawar and Kashmir. These Kassite tribes have also been termed as Semites who migrated towards the northwest of India and settled in the region. We find traces of the Brahmi and Kharosti in Kashmir in the shape of inscriptions, tiles and numeral. It is a fact that both these alphabets are derived from the Aramaic alphabet, which was prevalent in Mesopotamia in the 5th century B.C. It is for this reason that the present day Kashmiri language contains 30% Persian, 25% Arabic and 45% words from Sanskrit and other languages including Hebrew.
Similarly, many ceremonies, like that of birth, marriage, and death are same in Kashmir as are prevalent in Palestine. The period of purification for women is above one month among both the national-ities. Levirate marriages are a common feature among the Jews as well as the Kashmiris. Mourning for the dead is fixed at forty days among both the people. Even the coffins to carry tho dead are of tho same design. The Jews always orient their graves from east to west, and such graves have been found in Kashmir with Hebrew inscriptions.
The Jews and the Kashmiris have some similar food habits, such as the eating of smoked fish and the using of oil only for cooking purposes.
Lingam: The Holy Stone
Among the Kashmiri Pandits the worship of the Lingam, the holy stone, is a daily routine. In every shrine, we find a stone on which they pour flowers, incense, water and oil every day. To them it is the phallus of Shiva and a symbol of creation. Every Pandit has great reverence for certain rocks and stones which are raised at sacred places. In the Old Testament this stone is given many names, such as Jegar, Galeed and Mizpah.
Anointing of the sacred stones has been mentioned in the Old Testament at many places, such as the following passage:
In ancient Canaan, the religion of the people was the same type of polytheism as practised among the Shivites of Kashmir. Like Canaan, each spring, lake, hill or city has its divine or devil possessor. These possessors are both male and female in both countries. In Canaan they are known as Baal or Baalah while in Kashmir they are known as Deva or Devi. For demonic possessors the Kashmiris use the name Beru. The worship of the sun and the moon was common both in ancient Canaan and Kashmir.
The temples in both the country had carved images and statues. It is also significant that in every temple there used to be a stone pillar which was known as Mizpah in Canaan and Lingam in Kashmir. The Pandits of Kashmir continue to worship this stone pillar even today. It may be noted that in ancient Canaan the sexual manifestations of life were under the patronage of the goddess Astarte. On festive occasions there used to be music and dancing before her altar and men and women gave themselves to orgies. In India the goddess Astarte is still worshipped as Kumari or Durga. The Hindus think of Shiva and Durga as the promoters of creation, and for this reason they are represented by the two symbols of the Lingam (phallus) and the Yoni (vagina). Among the Kaulas and the Shaktas, the wor-ship of Shiva and Durga is practised by eating flesh, drinking wine and giving themselves to orgies. Magic and sorcery were rife both in Canaan and India. With the advent of the followers of Judaism, many such practices came to an end. But one point is significant and that is that there exist parallels between Kashmir and Canaan of bygone times.
It is recorded in the Hebrew history that when Moses was away, the Children of Israel began worshipping a calf. Among the Hindus, the tradition of revering a cow continues even up to this day. After their occupation of Canaan, the Jews could not help adopting some of the old religious practices. They adopted some form of idolatry and created images for worship in the form of a bull or a serpent. Among the Hindus of India in general and among the Kashmiri Pandits, the worship of Shiva's bull and serpents is a common practice. While the followers of Hinduism feel a special fascination for the Shank, the followers of Judaism have attached great importance to the Shofar. On all festive occasions and religious ceremonies, the Hindus blow the Shank, a horn created out of a sea shell. The Jews, on the other hand, blow the Shofar, which is a ram's horn. It is a common practice to blow the Shofar in the synagogue each morning at the time of prayers. In the same way the Shank is blown each morning in the Hindu temples of Kashmir at the time of recitation of the Bhajan or prayers. Both the Jews and the Hindus blow these horns at the climax of their prayers. It is a strange coincidence that both the communities have a special prayer for rain because it is a blessing upon the face of the earth.
Among the Hindus,Dewali is the festival of lights, while the Jews have a similar festival known as Chanu-kah, during which oil lamps are kindled. Both the festivals commemorate victories.
In the month of Visakh, the Kashmiri Pandits observe the festival of Visakh. This day is considered auspicious for drinking and eating special foods. It occurs in the first fortnight of April and is similar to the Jewish festival of Pesakh, which is celebrated in early spring. On the occasion of Pesakh, the Jews eat a special kind of bread.
Another festival of the Kashmiri Pandits deserves consideration. It is known as Til-Ashtami, which is observed on the lunar eighth day of the eleventh month of the year. While lamps are lit and rice is dropped on them, the chief priest pours oil on the sacred stone which is called the lingam. This ceremony is similar to a ceremony of the Jews in which they anoint the tabernacle with oil.
Jesus in Kashmir
In subsequent pages we will be dealing with information about the life of Jesus Christ which will show that he came to Kashmir in search of the lost tribes of Israel. Not only is it believed in Kashmir that Jesus Christ graced this valley after he left Jerusalem, but all over central Asia, as well as in Ladakh and Tibet, there is a strong belief that Jesus Christ travelled in these countries.
Thus it is not a strange coincidence that there exist a dozen towns and villages in these countries associated with his name or named after him. It may be mentioned at the outset that Jesus is known as Jusu or Yusu or Issa in Kashmir. Some of the place associated with his name are mentioned below:
All the above sites are visited by the locals as well as tourists in Kashmir. It may be mentioned that Jesus is called Yusu in Hebrew.
Ancient chronicles of Kashmir tell us that nearly 2000 years ago the famous saint Isana used to live here who would resurrect the dead to life. Isa means Christ, because he is known as such in the east. Now this saint Isana saved the prince of the Aryas from the cross and gave him life. This is the same Bible story of the crucifixion as recorded in the ancient history of Kashmir.
It is a strange coincidence that Christ met the Kashmiri King some time before 78 A.D. Their conversation is reproduced in a manuscript written in 115 A.D.
It may seem strange to Christians to learn that Jesus Christ proclaimed his prophethood in Kashmir and died here. Yet also his tomb with a stone engraved with an impression of his feet exists at Khanyar, in Srinagar, Kashmir.
All these issues will be dealt with in subsequent pages. It is sufficient to say here that research conducted so far on the subject has established two visits of Jesus Christ to India; one at the age of thirteen and the other as a person in his forties. A translation of a poem in Kashmiri about the tomb of Jesus Christ is reproduced below: