Saturday, February 5, 2022



                                                         ( Fruit Market in Istanbul )
                                               ( Turkish girls performing a traditional  dance )
                                          ( Erik or sour plum or Gordol in Kashmiri )

  ( Turkish * Baba Ghanoush dish  is like Buza Wangun of Kashmiri Pandits. Roasted Eggplant with spices and lemon or curd)


The central Asian nomads built their Turkic Khanate, a steppe empire spread over a territory extending from the Great Wall to the Black Sea. The ancient Turkic peoples were followers of Tengrism,or worshippers of the sky god Tengri. The Khanate received missionaries from the Buddhist religion, which they absorbed in their Tengrism and they became followers of Buddha. Genghis Khan, the founder and Great Khan (emperor) of the Mongol Empire, and his followers, were believers of Tengrism. However ,most of the Turkic khanates were converted to Islam in the 10th century . The Arab invasions in Central Asia had started in eighth century. 
In Indian Sanskrit Texts , Turushka is a word used to refer to a person of Central Asian/ Turkish origin. It was also used for people of Turkistan. Romila Thapar in her book ‘The Early India ‘ writes this :-
“ Kashmir had come into prominence with King Lalitaditya of Karkota Dynasty in the 8th century AD, and through gradual expansion and conquest, It had come to control a part of North western India and the Punjab……… It continued to have close relations with Gandhara .The Shahya ( Sahi ) dynasty ruled in the north west , acting as a bridge to Central Asia and to the Turks ( Known as Turushkas in Indian texts ). Familiarity with Turks goes back to earlier times when Turkish mercenaries found employment in the armies of Kashmir ……… The Arabs were referred to in Sanskrit inscriptions as Tajiks and differentiated from the Turks who were called Turushka, a term used for people from Central Asia. Yavana, the term originally applied to the Greeks, was extended to mean those coming from the West and was used in this sense until recent times.”
I hold a belief that present day Tantrays ( Tantrins in Rajataringani ) and Magrays ( Margpatis in Rajataringini ) of Kashmir could be people of Turushka or Turkish origin. These people were employed as soldiers by Kashmirian Hindu Kings . Some historians have referred to them as men of hilly Rajput tribes . Somewhat Similar is my belief with regard to Lones ( surname Lone ) of Kashmir. Kalhana makes frequent mention of Lavanyas as a tribe in Kashmir who were mostly used as infantry soldiers . Some Kashmirian Kings used them in their fights against the Darads . The Lavanyas were settled by Kashmirian Kings in areas close to land of Darads . That is why we find people with Lone as their surname mostly residing in Kupwara , Handwara and Baramula districts of Kashmir . I quote Kalhana:-
“ Having discovered a loophole amongst Darads , he incited the king to take possession of the fort called Dughdaghata with the support of Lavanyas of Lohara. ”
(Taranga 7 Verse 1171 Kalhana’s Rajatarangini Translated by R S Pandit .)
Kalhana makes unambiguous mention of Cankuna as a minister of King Lalitaditya . And Cankuna was a Turushka ( Turk ) from Central Asia . 
Subrashis Adhikari in his Book “ The Journey of Survivors” writes this :-
“Laitaditya defeated the dwellers of upper Oxus and the powerful Turks and became the last Indian King to control the Central Asia . The day of his victory against Turks was celebrated annually in Kashmir . Lalitaditya refrained from forcing his faith or culture upon people he conquered . He made a wise Turk named Cankuna as his minister . From many Chinese books , we come to know that the King of Kashmir shared healthy relations with Turks despite his victory .”
Jonaraja in his Rajtarangini writes this :-
“ Of the tree of misgovernment ( which was now planted ) *Harshdeva the Turushka was the seedling , sinful was the root and terrible devastations caused by the Lavanyas were the branches .”
(* Harsha, also Harshadeva( 1089-1111 AD) was a King of Kashmir.)
And the Hindu Sahi / Shahya Kings of Gandhara are referred to as men of Turkish origin in many Arab conquest literature . Since these Sahis claimed Kushana ancestry , they could be seen as representing a certain historical continuity linked to central Asia. In Rājataraṃgiṇī, Kalhana makes mention of three Kushan kings named Hushka, Jushka and Kanishka as with Turkic Turushka ancestry . I quote Verse 170 Taranga 1 from Kalhana’s Rajataringani :-
“ These three Kings ( Hushka , Jushka and Kanishka ) , Albeit belonging to Turushka race , found refuge in acts of piety . They constructed in Suskletra and other places monasteries and Chaityas and similar edifices. ”
The Turkish Sāahi / Shahya dynasty continued up to the late 9th century, when it was replaced by Brahman dynasty of the same title that ruled till early years of 11th century . Names of apparent Turkish origin, such as Toramāna, survived even among these Hindu 'Shāhi' Kings. Some historians claim that Hunas were from a different Turkic branch. Their leader Mihirkula established his base in Kashmir and majority of the Kashmiris are of Hepthalite origin. Some Historians inform us that Rajputs, Gujjars of India are of Turkish origin. And Dr. Javed Rahi , a scholar of Gojri language has also written a book linking Gujjars to ancient Tukish tribes. Turushka features are represented in terracotta tiles recovered in Kashmir ( reference Ancient Monuments of Kashmir R .C. Kak ).
Presence of Turkish people in Kashmir is also corroborated by many other texts. We also have historical evidence with regard to the Turkish presence close to Kashmir . Karlugh Turks from Central Asia ruled Hazara and also settled in many places in what is now known as POK. These Turks continued their rule in the areas between Sherwan and Mangal till the arrival of the Sikhs in 1817–18. 
There is some commonality of Turkish and Kashmiri cuisine and so are the spices . Paprika (Red Chillies powder ) , Pudeena ( Mint ), Yeni –Bahaar ( Something like Kashmiri Vaer or Masala Tikki or all spice powder ), Daalcheeni ( Cinnamon ), Zeera ( Cumin seeds ) , Aniseed ( Saunf )and many other spices are common to Kashmiri and Turkish cuisine. I found sheep stomach and turnip ( Gogji ta Daemini in kashmiri ) a common dish of Turks and Kashmiris . In 2019, I relished something like Kashmiri Buzawaangun (roasted brinjal with spices and yogurt ) in a Turkish restaurant located at upper Manhattan in New York. I found Turks relishing Erik or sour plum known as Gordoul in Kashmiri. Like Kashmiris, they make a tasty dish of Erik. In Turkish language, the soft bread is known as Lavaash while Kashmiris call it Lavaas. Like Kashmiris , Turkish people are also great consumers of Yogurt. The word Yogurt is of Turkish origin.
Turkish people and Kashmiris have almost common colour of skin and facial features especially nose and colour of eyes . Hamam widely used in Kashmir has Turkish origin. In music, some common instruments are Tambourine ( Tumbaknaar in Kashmiri ), Ney ( Swar Naai in Kashmiri), Santur ( Santoor in Kashmiri ), Kamancheh , Nagada ,and Bendir ( A version of Dafli ). And some Turkish and Kashmiri musical instruments are common to Buddhist Prayer / general musical instruments .
Turks use Samovar ( tea kettle ) to brew black tea that they usually consume. And Samovar retains its popularity as Kasjmiri tea kettle.
Apricots , grapes , pomegranates, apples , pears , green plums ( Gordoal in Kashmiri and Erik in Turkish ), water melons and cherries are popular with Kashmiris and Turks .And remember to relish the Turkish delight known as Lokum. It is like our Karachi Halwa with crushed dry fruits.
Baarhaa haan baarha maine dumm e fiqr e sukhan
Chhu liyaa hai oss sukoon ko jo hai jaan e izteraab
Hum samandhar mathh ke laaye gauhar e raaz e dawaam
Dastaan e Milaton ki hain jahaan naqshe bar-aab.
( Firaq Gorakhuri from Gul e Nagma )
So Long so much 
( Avtar Mota )


* Baba Ganoush. It is something between Baingan ka Burtha of Punjab and Buzza Waangun of Kashmiri Pandits . Baba Ganoush is roasted eggplant pureed with tahini, lemon juice and garlic.It is Vegetarian dish from Turkey and relished with rice or hot Naan pieces,fruits and wine.


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