Monday, July 17, 2017






Apart from Buddhism and Shaivism , Vaishnavism is abundantly visible in stone sculptures relating to ancient and medieval Kashmir. Attributes of Vishnu are starkly visible in so many sculptures in Kashmir . Some of these sculptures are still facing the fury of weather in the temple Ruins of Awantipora . And Awantipora temples were dedicated to both Shiva and Vishnu .

 Evidence suggests that the  ancient Shiva Temple at Buniyaar was originally dedicated to Vishnu . The  craftsmanship of this temple depicts  early Kashmiri Temple  Architecture. Due to age and neglect, the  temple is in total   dilapidated condition at the moment .

Images of Vishnu can be distinctly seen on the outer wall of the sanctum sanctorum of Martand sun Temple  . Though dedicated to sun God , the Temple has some stone  carved  images of Vishnu that are  still visible to naked eye .

Both Kalhana and Jonaraja in their Rajtarangini inform us  existence of a highly venerated  Vishnu Temple known as  “VISNU RANASVAMIN”   . Many Historian have identified the location of the temple  somewhere near Present day Graveyard known as Malla-khaah ( Srinagar city ) .

So many Vaishnava sculptures were preserved in SPS Musueum lal Mandi Srinagar . It appears that Vaisnavism had swept Kashmir valley and many traditions carried over till date have been due to its abiding influence.

So many incarnations of Vishnu have been sculpted in ancient or Medieval Kashmir . you can see Visnu as Vaikuntha Chaturmurti , Lakshmi Narayana, Hari -hara, Hari-Hara Pitamaha, Vasudeva – Lakshmi, Varaha, Narsimha , Kapila etc. etc. Vaikuntha Chaturmurti or Vaikuntha Vishnu or four-headed Vishnu image is typical to kashmir and found abundantly in ancient and Medieval sculptures of Kashmir.

According to Prof M L Kaul Noted scholar and writer ;

" The Vaishnavite thought equally co-existed with the Buddhist and Shaivite thought-ways. The appellation of Kashmir as 'Sharda-desh' (land of Sharda) establishes the Vaishnavite faith having come to Kashmir to leave its impression not only on the thinking elite, but on the general mass of people at grass-root level. Nilamat Puran as a Vaishnavite work declares Kashmir as the seat of Cakrin (Vishnu). Kashmir had its own share of Panchratra followers, who propagated and shaped the specifics of the creed only to mould the thought-structure of other religions. The interpenetration of Buddhism, Shaivism and Vaishnavism has been the product of the most tolerant cultural ethos obtaining in Kashmir. There existed mutual commerce of ideas and beliefs among the three religions, each borrowing the concepts from the other and investing them with new nuances as necessitated by its conceptual frame. The triad of Brahma as creator, Vishnu as preserver and Shiva as destroyer were not conceptually jealous of one another. They were transcendental, but also immanent involved in the weal and welfare of mankind at large. The syncretic images of the Triad explored from various sites in Kashmir sufficiently pinpoint and highlight the tolerant ethos of the Kashrnirian Hindus, who at no point of time in their history engaged themselves in sectarian battles generating and unleashing the forces of hatred, ill-will and religious bigotry"

 Kalhana’s Rajatarangini  informs us about Temples of  of Vishnu Jayaswamin and Vishnu Ranaswamin  Built by King Pravarsena II and King Ranaditya  respectively.. Jonaraja also makes mention of  Vishnu Ranaswamin  In his Rajatarangini . For Karakota kings , who occupied Kashmir’s throne in  7th Century , Vishnu  remained a Family deity .Kalhana mentions Vishnu Malhaswamin ,Vishnu Durlabhswamin, Vishnu Tribhuvanaswamin and Vishnu Gambhiraswamin   as shrines of that period dedicated to Vishnu.

According to Kalhana’s Rajtaringini,  The illustrious King  Laitaditya Built the Temple of Vishnu  Parihaskeshwa At Parihaaspora  in shining silver and gold with a Garuda ( an emblem of Vishnu ) at the top of the Temple complex. complex .  Verses 201 and 202 of fourth Taranga of Kalhana’s Rajtaringini explicitly mention that 84000 tolas of gold were used for the statue of Mukta Keshwa. And an equal silver by weight was used for the statue of ParihasKeshwa.  Presently also , Once you enter the ParihaasPora ruins site , the first structure  in ruins on the left side is the temple complex of parihaskeshva.

Busts and heads  of Vishnu have also been recovered from Vijeyshwara ( vejbror ) Temple ruins .Bhima , the illustrious King of sahi Dynasty built the Shrine of Bhimakeshva. Queen Sugandha ( 904-906 AD ) also built a Temple Dedicated to Vishnu that came to be known as Vishnu Gopala Keshava . Queen Didda also Founded some Vishnu shrines  prominent being  Vishnu Simhaswamin , Vishnu Abhimanyuswamin  and Vishnu Diddaswamin.

Kashmiris  worshipped Vishnu from the Trinity of Brahma ( Creator) , Vishnu ( preservor) And Mahesha ( destroyer) during  ancient and Medieval periods. The Vaishnava trait of preservation of creation formed a dominant trait of Kashmiri society during ancient and Medieval periods. These traits could be feeding birds, planting trees, feeding animals and not killing a snakes .

Kashmir’s Vaishnavism was  distinct and unique . The names of some Lakes , Places and Peaks in kashmir establish the overriding presence of vaisnavism in ancient and medieval Kashmir .And let me add that the source of River Veshav that falls through Aharbal fall and finally joins Vitasta or Jhelum near Sangam Bridge in Bijbihara was known as Vishnu Padh . Vishensar lake in Sonamarg area was known as Vishnu - Sar.

 Like Buddhism and Shaivism , Vaishnavism also received full support from
kashmirian society of that period.

( Autar Mota )

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CHINAR SHADE by Autarmota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.
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