Sharda Peeth — its origin, status as a learning centre or temple or both, and philosophical orientation as Hinduistic or Bhudistic may be contestable in its mythological discourse. But what is NOT contestable is the significance of this space in the Hindutva imagination of the subcontinent.
Sharda Peeth is central to the ‘Akhand Bharat’ notion in Hindutva Racial Narrative.
Its centrality to Hindutva civilisational war cry can be gauged from the fact that in the sheelanyaas( laying of foundation stone) of Ram Mandhir after the martyrdom of Babri Masjid on Aug 05, 2020 ( which shrewdly coincides with the abrogation of article 370 anniversary — the soil for this occasion was brought from Shardha Peeth, Azad Kashmir. It’s pertinent to ask who, how and when this soil was provided from AJK to Hindutva wadis for a project that has an immense symbolic significance for Hindutva civilisational narrative.
Rajanath Singh on so-called Kargil Vijay Devas gave a tactical message to Islamabad about its significance to Hindu India: “How is it possible Baba Amaranth will remain here and Maa Sharda will remain there ( Azad Kashmir).”
This war-mongering statement invited reaction from ISPR days after it was articulated reflecting Pakistan establishments abysmal priorities and exhaustive consumption in the internal game of thrones of the state.
For Pakistani State opening of the Kartarpur Corridor may have strategic significance in the long term but the opening of the Sharda Peeth Corridor is nothing short of a grand victory offered to Hindutva wadis on a platter about their racial imagination and violent integration of the subcontinent. They will see Takshila as the next stop in their marathon of Akhand Bharat. This in itself betrays the philosophy of the ‘Idea of Pakistan’ than was based on the negation of Brahmanical infidelity. From the abrogation of 370 to the opening of Sharda
Peeth its worth to ask who in the Pakistani corridors of power ( from civil to military establishment) wants to betray the ‘idea of Pakistan.’
From the settler colonial project point of view — with Amarnath leg in the South, Shankar Achariya in the Central, Wagnath in NE Srinagar and Shardapeeth Teethwal (Karnah)/ AJK in the North, it completes an important arc of Hindutva encirclements political pilgrimage of Kashmir. All the temple/shrine renovations in this regard are carried out to fulfil the Hindutva agenda of a Hindu cradle — neo-Shavite Kashmir. These mythological sites act as a strong connecting buffer to Hindus of India who have huge appeal for these sites. This will only fossilise Hindutva’s urge to Hinduise Kashmir again. Sharda Peeth opening will also come up with an ecological catastrophe to virgin valleys of Neelam as we witnessed in the uncontrolled pilgrimage in Amarnath caves to trample sensitive ice caps of South Kashmir.
No doubt Shardapeeth holds great significance to K-Brahmins but its politics of reopening corroborates with Hindutva imagination of Sharda. This is why the advocacy groups of K pandits for the opening of Sharda are bedfellows with RSS.
Kashmirs pro-India politicians have also been calling for the opening of Sharda Peeth for Hindu pilgrimage. This is an attempt to gain vote bank in the Hindu constituency of Jammu & Kashmir.
The opening of Sharda Peeth in the extreme north of Kashmir will flood the the Valley with Hindu pilgrims, thereby putting the Muslim demography and locality at a great risk of settler colonialism. The huge traffic of Hindus from South to North brings a great level of anxiety to Muslims of Kashmir, who are already living under the fear of one million Hindu troops stationed in Indian occupied Kashmir.
Will Pakistan betray its ideology & throw Kashmiri Muslims under the bus who remain central to this nation’s imagination?
Or emerge as a dignified nation & fight for its ideological foundations?
Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the editor of the Kashmir Discourse.
Zarrar Khalid is from Srinagar Kashmir, he has completed MSc in Mathematics from Kashmir University, Srinagar.