Monday, February 28, 2022




Avtar Mota feels this:-

The day I came to know about Shiva and his universal presence , I have not lived a day when I haven't felt him around, within and at every place that I visited . For me he is in the breeze as I go out for my morning walk.He is in the chirping of the birds and also in the dew laden flowers that i see every morning. He in the heart wrenching exasperation of my brothers from any group or society who are striving for dignity, equality ,justice and sympathy . He is in the benevolance and smiles of many kind hearted people who are genuinely busy in serving the suffering humanity.

He is there in the locomotion of every human being or in the contrived tools that create energy and inertia. I see him as a Universal force present in the roar of the aircrafts and jet planes that speed past over my head up above in the sky. He is there in the glaciers ever busy in melting the snow so that our rivers bring us drinking water. He is there in the music I hear.In every Raaga that I listen ,  I feel his presence. Reminding me of his companion Shakti, he is in every musical Jugalbandhi that creates beats. As Aradhnarishwara , he guides me into Advaita. He is there in Rasa ,Dhwani and Bhasha that has no script.His Tandava , I see in the dance of the winds, sea waves and trees trapped in a windstorm.The clouds that appear ,disappear and reappear in the sky remind me of his role as creator, sustainer and destroyer. In the smiles of children, in the undemanding love of our mothers , in the faithfulness of a life partner,in the warmth and sympathy of my well wishers and in every act of thankfulness.

 In the hospitals where children are born, in the schools where knowledge is imparted and at the crematorium where we face the ultimate reality, I see Shiva. I see him when the seeds are sown. I see him when tender shoots appear. I see him when the crops are harvested.

Can I deny his presence ? My Shiva is everywhere.....



( Avtar Mota)

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Sunday, February 13, 2022




                                             ( Jayanta Bhatta painted by artist Ravi Dhar)    



( Photo ..Dazu Rock carvings in China depict the six heretical teachers or philosophers from ancient India)

Prof. Meem Hai Zaffar spoke to me about 'Nyayaranjani’ that he has been reading currently. He shared some details about 'Nyayaranjani'of Jayanta Bhatta , the author who happened to be a Kashmiri of profound learning and scholarship.

Jayanta Bhatta was a poet , logician, philosopher, playwright and critic from Kashmir who lived during the rule of King Shankeravarman ( 883-902 AD ) of the Utpala dynasty. Jayanta was also a scholar who had mastered Shastra and Agma . His great grandfather, Shaktiswamin Bhatta was a minister of King Lalitaditya Muktapida. Jayanta was a prolific writer whose maximum work has been lost . Jayanta rose to prominence in his advanced age in .Some manuscripts that stand , located indicate the level of his scholarship . Many western scholars consider Jayanta as a master-scholar of Indian logic. The well known scholar , R D Hegde writes this :-

“ Jayanta Bhatta’s contribution to Indian philosophy is no less . He composed two Nyaya works ; Nyayakalika and Nyayamanjari . He also composed an allegorical drama Agamadambara apart from a commentary on Paninian Grammar . Except the Panini’s grammar , all other works have been located, edited and translated into English. "

The Oxford Reference writes this :+

"Jayanta Bhatta was a  Brahmin logician who was the author of the well-known work, Nyāyamañjarī (‘Blooms of Nyāya’), dealing with Nyāya vis à vis Buddhism and the Mīmāṃsaka darśana. He also wrote a witty and satirical, but ultimately tolerant play (Āgamaḍambara—‘Much Ado About Religion’) about religious life in Kashmir during the reign of Śaṅkaravarman (883–902)."

Although not much is known about his prolific work , yet some manuscripts of Jayanta Bhatta are preserved in Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute , Pune. The drama Agamadambara written by Jayanta has been translated into English as ‘Much Ado About Religion’ and published jointly by New York University Press and the JJC Foundation.. Exclusive in Sanskrit literature, this four act play, is a blend of fiction and history, of scathing satire and intriguing philosophical argumentation. The play satirizes various religions in Kashmir and their place in the politics of King Shánkeravarman (883-902 CE). The leading character, Sankárshana, is a young and dynamic orthodox graduate of Vedic studies, whose career starts as a glorious campaign against the heretic, Buddhists, Jains and other sects. The hero of this quasi-philosophical drama wants to defeat all opponents of Vedas through reasoning. 

This is what Dr David Slakter  from University of Liverpool writes about Āgamaḍambara( Much Ado About Religion):-

“In the Āgamaḍambara (‘Much Ado About Religion’), Bhaṭṭa Jayanta presents an argument for an inclusivist approach to the problem of religious diversity, building upon some of the arguments given in his Nyāyamañjarī. Although his arguments are restricted to consideration of a form of Hinduism particular in time and place, I argue that Jayanta’s solution to the problem of religious diversity has wide-ranging relevance and some applicability to contemporary debates in the philosophy of religion. I consider possible pluralist objections to inclusivism, such as those given by John Hick in An Interpretation of Religion and elsewhere. In response to these objections, I argue that an inclusivism like Jayanta’s addresses all the reasons someone might have for adopting a pluralist position and in fact does so better than the pluralists by remaining within a live religious tradition.”


It is pertinent to mention that Kashmir had various sects and religious groups during the rule of Karkota and Utpala Kings . The six Heretic teachers or philosophers of India namely Purana Kassapa ,Makkhali Gossala , Ajita Kesakambala, Pakudha Kaccāyana, Nigaṇṭha Nāṭaputta and Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta had their followers in Kashmir as well. The presence of Ajivika sect of Makkhali Gossala is evidenced by the images of Harwan terracotta tiles . The Ajivikas believed in Niyativada or fatalism. They held a belief that human beings are powerless and their suffering is pre-destined. Similarly the followers of Purana Kassapa believed in Amoralism.They believed that there is no reward or punishment for either good or bad deeds. The followers of Kesakambala believed in Lokayata or materialism . This group believed in living a happy life as everything finished with the death. They didn’t believe in anything beyond death. The followers of Pakudha Kaccāyana believed in Sassatavada or eternalism while followers of Nataputta and Belaṭṭhaputta believed in Jainism ( restraint ) and Ajnana (Agnosticism ) respectively.

Jayanta Bhatta was imprisoned in a cave by King Shankeravarman of Kashmir. He utilised his dreary days and completed Nyaya-manjari in imprisonment . During the period of confinement the King Sarmkaravarman most probably put a ban on the Nilambara sect and their customs. This sect of people would wear blue clothes and indulge in irreligious and immoral Tantric acts . Jayanta defends the action of the king although he faced imprisonment .
English translation of Nyayamanjari by Janaki Vallabh Battacharya has been published by an Indian publishing house . In his preface to Nyayamanjari , Jayanta writes this :-

“ I have culled this essential herb from the wild garden of herbs of logic and have churned this lump of butter from the milk of logic of Aksapada .Let the discerning wise people take their bath in this great flowing river of Sarsawati which ardently flows into the ocean of Aksapada ‘s logic . We claim no originality of thinking to discover new truth but have fascinating style to express the old ones in an attractive form. Let the critics examine it for themselves . ”
Nyayamanjari is an information bank of logic, metaphysics, moral principles and religious studies and represents the history of Indian Philosophy of a particular period. Even the existence of god has been brought to a logical scrutiny by Jayanta in Nyayamanjari. This is a work full of arguments and counter-arguments that has no parallel in Indian history. Both in the selection of the subject matter and the method of its treatment, the author has displayed his wide learning and scholarship.

Nyakalika is another text that has been located , edited and translated . It deals with the sixteen topics of logic mentioned in Gautama's Nyayasutras. The manuscript of this text is also held at Raghunath Temple Sanskrit Manuscript Library , Jammu . Credit for preservation of these vital manuscripts should go to Maharaja Ranbir Singh , George Buhler, Marc Aurel Stein, George Grierson. Prof. Nityananda Sastri, Pt. Govind Kaul, Pt. Damodar, Pt. Sahib Ram, Pt. Mukund Ram Sastri, Pt. Ananda Kaul, Pt. Ishwar Kaul, Pt. Sahaz Bhat and Prof. Jagdhar Zadoo .

Reading Nyayamanjari from the free download available on the internet. Shall be ordering a hard copy for a complete reading.

( Avtar Mota )
Recently , Dr.Seshagiri Rao's book "Jayantha Bhatta on Sabda Pramana" has come as  an important work in the field of Indian Philosophy.  Accordintg to the author ,Jayanata believed that  ,Sabda as Pramana is unique as the understanding of linguistic utterances gives us more knowledge about the world than Pratyaksa (perception) and Anumana (inference). 

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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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