Wednesday, May 26, 2021



       ( Shriya Bhatt painted by artist Gokul Dembi)  

Shriya Bhatt of Kashmir.

Shriya Bhatt belonged to a family of Vaids or practitioners of Ayurvedic system of medicine  who earned love and affection of all sections of the then Kashmiri society .
Shriya Bhatt's family  was  witness to the death and  destruction brought upon   in Kashmir during the rule of Sultans especially Sultan Sikander Butshikan. However ,  Sultan Zain ul Abdin(  rule period 1420-1470), son of Sultan Sikander Butshikan  proved to be the most tolerant and benevolent ruler that Kashmir ever had. He completely reversed the policies of his father towards the Hindus of Kashmir. He removed the Jaziya and allowed them to pray in their temples and shrines. Historian Srivara writes this:

"Zain ul Abdin's rule  was ike the cooling sandal paste after the heat of a summer in a desert had departed.’"

Jonaraja writes this :

"As flowers are not obtainable in the month of Magha on account of the mischief by snow, even so physicians who knew about poisons could not at that time be found in the country owing to governmental oppressions. The servants of the king at last found out Shriya  Bhatt, who knew the antidotes of poisons and was well versed in the art of healing, but out of fear, he for a long time delayed to come. When he arrived, the king gave him encouragement and he completely cured the king of the poisonous boil. The king wanted to make munificent gifts to Shriya Bhatt. But the latter refused to accept any. But when pressed hard, he made a request which was to the effect that the Jaziya on the Brahmans be remitted and opportunities be assured to them to develop their mental and moral resources without any let or hindrance.”

During the rule of Sikander Butshikan, the family of Shriya Bhatt maintained a low profile yet  tried to help every Kashmiri in every possible way.

It so happened that Sultan Zain ul Abdin fell sick and suddenly turned critical. He had a poisonous boil on his body. His own Hakeems tried every medicine but his condition went from bad to worst. Someone in his court suggested the name of Vaidhyaraj Shriya Bhatt  to the Sultan. With Shriya Bhatt's treatment , the Sultan not only recovered completely but also turned hale and hearty .

  Upon resuming his Darbaar, Zain ul Abdin wanted to make some valuable gift to Vaidhyaraj Shriya Bhatt. However, Shriya Bhatt refused to take it.  In the alternative Shriya Bhatt is reported to have said this:-

“The only gift I will receive, is the removal of all restrictions on the Pandits imposed by  your father Sultan Sikandar including the Jaziya tax. How good it shall be to bring them back to Kashmir from the heat and dust of plains or from hills and jungles where they are living in fear. ”

It is said that the  Sultan readily agreed to these requests and reversed all the policies of his father towards Hindus of Kashmir. The Sultan also sent his emissaries to the plains to bring back all the Hindus who had left their homes and hearths due to the  atrocities and persecution during the rule of Sultan Sikander  Butshikan. The Sultan inducted Shriya Bhatt to his Darbaar and granted him the status of a Vazir . The Sultan  also inducted Karpura Bhatt , another Ayurveda practitioner into his court .

Many  historians are of the view that Shriya Bhatt played a pivotal role that resulted in return of Kashmiri Hindus to their homes and hearths apart from creating conducive environment for their peaceful  living . Shriya Bhayt’s selflessness and the acceptance of his request by the Sultan proved a land-mark in the history of Kashmir. At the critical juncture of history,  Shriya Bhatt  proved a catalytic agent for the  peaceful resettlement  of persecuted Hindus of Kashmir .

Kashmiri Pandits have established a charitable  hospital in Jammu in the memory of Vaidhyaraj Shriya Bhatt .Artist Ravi Dhar and Gokul Dembi from Kashmir have drawn impressive portraits of  Vaidhyaraj Shriya Bhatt.

The  Sanjeevani Sharda Kendra of Jammu  organised Navreh celebrations on April  12th  , 2021 and  named it as" Tyaag Divas"  to commemorate  Vaidhyaraj  Shriya Bhatt. More than one hundred organisations of Kashmiri Hindus the world over joined this celebration.

In Hawal locality of Srinagar city, close to  the Ziyarat of Ahmed Sahib Machama ,a lane known as 'Shribhat Kocha'  still carries the name of  Shriya Bhat . It is believed by the local people that Vaidhyaraj Shriya Bhat lived in this locality.

( Avtar Mota)

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