Friday, May 23, 2014






“ Where there is form, there is emptiness. And where there is emptiness, there is form ”


So said the Kashmiri Buddhist scholar Kumarjiva ( 334 -413 AD )who crossed over to China to spread Buddhism.


Spreading knowledge, logic, Dharna and philosophy has been the principal occupation of Kashmiri Pandits during ancient and mediaeval periods. When their land was won over by Buddhism, they dived deep into its philosophy and carried forward its message to far-off lands undertaking an arduous journey that meant crossing lofty mountain passes. Once Shaivism arrived, these very people carried its message in a philosophical form giving birth to a distinct school of thought that came to be known as Kashmir Shaiv Darshana.


Many present-day Buddhist scholars feel indebted to Kashmiri scholars like VAIRCONA, BUDDHYASAS, BUDDHAJIVA, GUNVARMAN, SHAKYA SHRIBADRA, RATNAVAJRA, DHARMMITRA, TYAGHBADRA, and the great KUMARJIVA for spreading Buddhism in Asia. KUMARJIVA is responsible for revolutionising Chinese Buddhist thought and shaping it in tune with the Mahayana Philosophy. He was an erudite scholar who translated various Buddhist texts into the Chinese language.KumarJiva is responsible for the spread of Mahayana Buddhism not only in China but in Central Asia as well. History tells us that a large number of Kashmiri Savants crossed the Himalayas and the Pamirs and moved to Central Asia, China, Mongolia, Japan, Philippines and present-day Korea to spread knowledge and Dharma. All of them are held in high esteem by present-day Buddhist scholars the world over. This author vividly remembers His holiness Dalai Lama saying ( after he inaugurated the photo exhibition on ancient Buddhist historical places at Kala Kendra, Jammu in November 2011 ) this:-


“Kashmir held a significant place in Buddhism as the religion was spread in China and Korea by monks who used the ancient “Silk Route” passing through the region, to carry the Dharma to faraway places."


In the first half of the last century, Pandit Shridhar Joo Koul Dulloo ( 1892-1967 ) also repeated what some glorious persons from Kashmir had done to spread Knowledge and light amongst the ignorant and unaware. When Maharaja Hari Singh took over the reins of the state, he focused on education, more specifically for women, as a high-priority area. For this, he appointed a highly educated English lady named Miss E Channer( Chaunner ) as in charge of women's education in Kashmir. It was in 1927 that Miss Channer ( Chaunner ) agreed to the idea of a Kashmiri theosophist namely Srikantha Toshkhani about the creation of a Women’s Welfare Trust. Many more theosophists like Miss Margaret E Cousins, Mrs L D Van Gheel, Shridhar Joo Koul Dulloo and Aftab Koul Nizamat joined this trust as its members. This group led by Srikantha Toshakhani worked tirelessly for the spread of education amongst Kashmiri women irrespective of caste or religion. Both Pandits and Muslims were reluctant to send girls to schools initially. This group started with five primary schools for girls in Kashmir and prevailed upon Miss Channer( Chaunner ) to start a separate school for Muslim Girls from poor families who needed more time and attention on account of their backwardness and total illiteracy back home. The number of exclusive schools for Muslim girls rose to three in 1929. Molvis and Purohits were also brought inside these schools to impart religious education. As time passed, a large number of educated persons entered this arena and followed in the footsteps of this dedicated team. And by 1932, there were about 70 schools exclusively for girls in the Kashmir valley.


In every meeting held by WOMEN WELFARE TRUST, Shridhar Joo Koul Dulloo would always say that they had kept one area of the state in total darkness. By this area he meant Ladakh. Though many students would cross the Zojilla pass and visit his Rainawari residence in the summer season for guidance and studies, he had a burning desire to move to Ladakh and do what his team had done in the Kashmir valley. A chance came his way in 1939 when Maharaja transferred him to Ladakh as Education Officer with clear directions to start the basic education module over there and pull it out of the dark jungle of illiteracy. He did this job with utmost dedication and devotion till 1948. He is responsible for sending the Ladakhis to schools and bringing them out from the morass of darkness. For this, Anybody who is somebody in Ladakh feels grateful to Shridhar Joo Koul Dulloo.


During the visit to Leh in 2009, this author found every senior Ladakhi grateful to him. President All Ladakh Gompa Association informed told this author that Ladakhis had sent a memorandum to Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad in 1953 to appoint Shridhar Dulloo as ‘Special Secretary For Ladakh Affairs’ when Kushok Bakula was appointed as Deputy Minister of Ladakh Affairs. Kushok Bakula had personally intervened in this but some influential members within the ruling party had opposed this move then.


The owner of ‘Lehling Book Store’ in Leh Bazar also informed this author that Shridhar Joo Dulloo’s book on Ladakh remains a much sought-after item by foreigners who visit the shop. Some elderly relatives of S C Phunsog ( IAS ) former Chief Secretary, J&K, whom this author met in Leh, also spoke very highly about the pioneering contribution of Shridhar Joo Dulloo in spreading education amongst Ladakhis. This selfless service in Ladakh brought him very close to the Buddhist culture and the message of Buddha that he eventually became a Buddhist. He also gained enormous knowledge about the history and culture of Ladakh which is ably recorded in his Book ‘Ladakh Trough Ages’. In an article, Late Kushok Bakula ( a prominent leader from Ladakh and India's ambassador to Mongolia ) has written this


“Generations of Ladakhis shall remain indebted to Pandit Shridhar Kaul Dullo for his remarkable contribution, pioneering work and legendary services to this region. He crossed the Zojilla to spread light and dispel darkness, awakening Ladakhis from their deep slumber. My gratitude shall always remain to this selfless crusader of modern education .”


In Motiyar Rainawari, Shridhar Joo Dullo’s house was virtually a Ladakh Sarai. Groups of boys would come from Leh and stay with him. He even adopted a girl named Dolma as his daughter. Dolma was educated and finally married off by Shridhar Joo. Due to his Buddhist beliefs, he named his two sons Budhadev and Siddhartha. He had fairly good knowledge of the Bodhi language. Many close members of his family say that he would always be seen with a Book in his hand. Reading and transferring knowledge to a large number of his pupils. And in 1967, Shridhar Joo Koul Dulloo left for his heavenly abode in peace at his Motiyar Rainawari residence.



“Har ghadi aflak par rehti hai teri guftugoo 

 Kya nahin mumkim ke tera chaak-e daaman ho rafu? ”....Allama Iqbal


(Well, in every part of the heavens, your mention is made.

 Can’t your torn cloth be sewn back together? )


( Avtar Mota )

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  1. Thank you for sharing about this scholar and selfless change agent.

  2. Thank you for this information I was looking for a person who would tell me about him. Recently, I got to know about this book. Will definitely go through this book. Heard about his contribution towards Ladakh and I am searching for information related to him.

    1. You will find a lot of mention of this guy in van beek's account! How the neo-Buddhists politicised ladakh. For me Ladakh was never ignorant, it was just peaceful and in the light of true Buddhist spirit. Further also don't forget to read how they opposed the reservation of seats for Ladakh by Ladakhi people and what they thought of Ladakhi people.


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