translated by K. N. Pandit



Kashmir may rightfully boast of a long tradition of producing histories and historical works of considerable value. No fewer than a dozen histories are referred to by Kalhana which, besides other materials, served him as sources for his celebrated chronicle Rajatarangini written in Laukika 4225 corresponding to A.D. 1149/50. Kalhana's impact on the historians and chroniclers who followed him is evident in at least the works of four of them who endeavoured to carry on the tradition of recording the events of the rulers of their time: Jonaraja, Srivara, Prajyabhatta and Suka. While the work of Prajyabhatta is lost to us, the history of Suka takes us to the time of the second tenure of Sultan Fath Shah in A.D. 1538. The historical accounts of these four Sanskrit historians are relatively brief; they make only veiled references to events which deserved to be treated in greater detail. But they wrote under several constraints, and that perhaps explains why their perception and presentation of events did not match that of Kalhana's. It is also likely that what has survived the ravages of time is only a fragment of what they had written. Nevertheless, these accounts are valuable to us; at least we have something to fall back upon.

The tradition solidly established by Kalhana, which was marked by objectivity in approach and treatment, was followed by many later historians of Kashmir. From the time of the advent of Islam in Kashmir (placed by some historians somewhere in the last decade of the thirteenth century, though the presence of the people of Islamic faith in Kashmir had been reported by Kalhana in as early as the eighth century)[1] to the reign of Maharaja Pratap Singh the third Dogra ruler (d. A.D. 1925), many histories of Kashmir were produced in Persian. After the expansion of Islam in Iran and Central Asia, the art of recording the events and affairs of rulers and their subjects developed in a manner in conformity with the Islamic traditions. When the conversion

1. Rajatarangini, Bk. iv. St. 397.

process in Kashmir reached its culmination in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and the social and political turbulence died down, the resultant peaceful order stimulated hitherto suspended intellectual and artistic activity. For more than a century after the founding of Muslim rule in Kashmir, Sanskrit continued to be used officially alongside Persian, though it was evident that soon the latter would replace the former both as official language and the language of the elite. No wonder, therefore, that a patron of learning like Sultan Zainu'l-'Abidin worked for preserving the rich cultural heritage of Kashmir by starting a bureau of translation for translating Sanskrit works into Persian. Kalhana's Rajatarangini was translated during this very time. Unfortunately, much of the material produced during this time has been lost. Persian historiography had a rich tradition behind it. When Persian language took roots in Kashmir, the science of writing histories also abscribed the tradition which had already been established.

One cannot compute exactly the number of histories of Kashmir which have been written in Persian from early times to the present day. However, a record of extant Persian histories preserved in the Research and Publication Department of Jammu & Kashmir State, Srinagar, lists as many as seventeen works in manuscript form. The earliest among these is Tarikh-i-Kashmir written by Sayyid 'Ali b. Sayyid Muhammad in A.D. 1579, and the most recent is Tarikh-i-Kabir written by Ghulam Mohiu'd-Din in A.D. 1900. Apart from these, there are several other works in the form of diaries, travelogues, and stray writings of considerable historical importance which have not been included in the list of histories.

Of the seventeen histories of Kashmir, already known to scholars, only two have been printed so far: Waqa'at-i-Kashmir by Muhammad Azam Dedamari and the two volumes of Tarikh-i-Kashmir by Pir Ghulam Hasan Khuihami. The unedited text of Baharistan-i-Shahi was also published a few years ago by a local scholar as a supplement to a long eulogy of the author's now deceased patron and benefactor. Gulab Nama by Diwan Kripa Ram has also been translated from Persian into English, but it is more of a biography of the founder of the Dogra dynasty of the rulers of Jammu & Kashmir, than a work of history.

In the absence of competent and annotated English translations of these Persian histories of Kashmir, the non-Persian knowing scholars are severally handicapped. But the task of editing, translating and publishing these manuscripts is not an easy one; it calls for a high standard of scholarship, dedication and institutional and organizational support. That these valuable histories are languishing in dust is a sad commentary on the state of scholarly research in these areas. Unless government bodies and universities take initiative in providing the right kind of incentives to competent scholars, these manuscripts cannot reach scholars in the field. It needs to be mentioned here that high level scholarship in classical languages is becoming rare in our country.

By and large, the historians of Kashmir writing in Persian language followed the pattern-format, style, theme etc. of Iranian historians though the canvas of the former is limited. When they accepted the Persian/Tajik model of historiography, they accepted both its good and bad qualities. It appears that many Persian historians of Kashmir had perused the historical works of outstanding Iranian or Central Asian historians and they had familiarised themselves with their technical language, style and method to a considerable extent. They had also acquainted themselves with the variety of themes which the Iranian, Central Asian or Indian historians treated in the course of their recordings.

Histories of Kashmir in Persian language which I had the opportunity of examining during the course of my research, invariably follow the traditional pattern of Persian histories which had been produced in Iran, Transoxiana (Ma'wara-anNahr), Afghanistan and India. They begin with an elaborate doxology, followed by praises and eulogies for the Holy Prophet, the Imams, and the ruling house or the king or the patron at whose instance the work was undertaken or to whom it was dedicated. However, the Persian histories produced in Kashmir deviate in some respects from the traditional norm. In the East, particularly in Iran, a historian wrote at the behest of a ruler, a minister or a powerful courtier or a feudal lord. In a few cases the historian would himself be a minister or an influential person close to the ruling circles and the corridors of power, and wrote mainly to please his patron than out of his intellectual curiosity. Martin's perceptive comment on Timurid art explains it clearly: "All art, in the Orient is court art, or is dependent on Maecenas. It was so, in the 'Abbasid Court at Baghdad in the ninth century, it was so in Egypt and Spain; it was so everywhere. This fact must be remembered, as it explains much that would otherwise be incomprehensible". [1]

Most of the historians of Kashmir who wrote in Persian had very thin or no connection with the court or the ruling house, and never held any important official positions. This accounts for the presence of very few distortions or misrepresentations in their expositions, and gives their work a degree of objective credibility not known before. Whatever bias these may have is because of the angularities of their character or because of circumstances beyond their control. This bias is, therefore, neither pronounced nor offensive. But because they were not associated with the court or royalty, put them to a disadvantage: they had no access to original and living sources of information.

Generally mediaeval Persian historiography in or outside Iran suffered from one particular drawback. To show off his command over the language, a historian would invariably cultivate a highly ornate and turgid style. He would devote more attention to rhetorical embellishment than to objective analysis of facts and events or to drawing of logical conclusions. This probably explains why many historical works were used as textbooks of highly ornate Persian prose rather than as histories. History was not included in the curriculum of madrasah (colleges) in Iran and elsewhere as an independent subject of study. The historians did not realize they needed a different kind of style for producing histories. This lessened the

[1] The Miniature Painting and Painters of Persia, India and
Turkey, Quartich, 19l2, vol, i, pp. 35-6.

value of many of these works. The historians' tendency to use an ornate style was probably because they wrote only for a small circle of upper class intellectuals, and not for the public at large. Once arts and sciences came out of the close confines of courts and elitist circles and spread to wider sections of society, historians gradually gave up the old ornate style and wrote with a greater degree of objectivity and factual precision.

Keeping this in view, it is gratifying to note that histories produced in Persian language in Kashmir are very readable narratives composed usually in a simple and clear style. This is mostly because they were generally unconnected with courts, rulers and high-ranking personalities. Another reason was that Persian was not their mother tongue. It had been brought here from Iran and Transoxiana by Muslim missionaries for propagating the Islamic faith. When the ruling power passed on to the Muslims, Persian became the court and official language in due course of time. Anybody using it had to be clear and precise. The historians too followed the same example. Not having to do anything with the king or his court, the histories produced by Kashmiris were put in the category of non-official and popular histories. The historians did not need to vie with one another to strive for linguistic embellishments. This makes it easier to render them into readable English than the histories produced in Iran or Transoxiana in mediaeval times.

Having noted the general features of Persian histories produced in Kashmir in mediaeval and early modern times, it has to be admitted that these histories do have some limitations which they share with the histories produced in Iran and elsewhere in the Persian/Tajik speaking regions. First, there is a pronounced streak of exaggeration in them; no matter whether they are praising or censuring. Second, they lack systematic distribution of themes into separate parts or through what we now call chapterization. Besides, there are sudden shifts from one theme to another; the reader is not sufficiently prepared for a new course of events. Hence any attempt on the part of an editor or a translator at distributing the narrative into chapters and assigning them headings has to be an arbitrary one. Finally, besides frequent repetitions, their narrative continuity is often disrupted by uncalled-for interpolations.

In the choice of their subject-matter, Persian histories of Kashmir suffer from several other deficiencies. They deal with subjects like court intrigues, political and personal rivalries among nobles and chieftains, tales of extraordinary heroism, hunting expeditions and pleasure trips, harem squabbles and such other trivial matters. The treatment is generally exaggerated. Vital matters of social importance are ignored or underestimated. Common people hardly figure in their account of the affairs of the state. Even after going through long chunks of such histories one cannot frame even a hazy idea of the kind of society that existed at a given point of time. As against this, court intrigues, in-fightings, petty skirmishes, and supernatural powers of the saints receive more than due attention. When not engaged with these things, the historian writes copiously about mystics, spiritualists, mendicants, especially about their seemingly miraculous powers. He has very little or almost nothing to say about the vast agrarian and artisan sections of society; their economic and social activities; their relations with the ruling class; taxes, revenue and fiscal matters; arts and crafts; status of women, folk-lore and local traditions; interaction between various sections and classes of society engaged in productive activity, military and administrative set-up and a multitude of other related themes. He does not identify himself with the social milieu of his times.

But notwithstanding all that is said, it will be unjustified to censure these historians for the deficiencies enumerated above, because socially-oriented history is a recent development, at least in our part of the continent. Though this approach to history gained popularity in the West from the time of the Renaissance, the East lingered on for many more centuries with her ages-old tradition till the era when imperialism and its agencies received a setback in Asia and elsewhere outside Europe. In such a situation, the burden of scanning impartially the material available to them, investigating it and drawing conclusions in a manner that society and its variegated aspects are brought under focus has to fall on the present-day historians. And the task calls for extraordinary care and responsibility.

The most crucial period of the mediaeval history of Kashmir is from the time of the downfall of the Hindu rule upto the beginning of Shahmiri rule. Surprisingly, Persian historians have virtually neglected this period of far-reaching consequences. It has led to the exacerbation of controversies based on wild speculations. They have become so firmly entrenched that it seems difficult to rectify them. The process of early Islamization of Kashmir is a complex one because, unlike Iran or Transoxiana, there was no outright invasion of Kashmir by Islamic warriors; no Arab legions marched into Kashmir with their swift horses and slender swords. It was a curious process interspersed with many ugly happenings which are mentioned in the pages of this work. But the initial non-violent character of the event makes it into quite a fascinating development. The story of conversion of hundreds of thousands of people to Islam over a long stretch of time has not been told in a manner in which it should have been. No historian, for example, has tried to go deep into the socioeconomic and socio-political causes of the phenomenon. This lacuna in the mediaeval histories of Kashmir is difficult to explain.


Historians have mentioned some historical works which were produced in Kashmir before Baharistan-i-Shahi was written, but these are lost. Three histories are invariably mentioned in this connection: those of Mulla Naderi, Qazi Ibrahim and Mulla Hasan Qari. In their absence, Baharistan-i-Shahi enjoys the status of being the first fully detailed history of Kashmir written anonymously in A.D. 1614. (The forty-eight folio MS history written by Sayyid 'Ali is mainly an account of the saints, particularly of Sayyid 'Ali Hamadani).

Of the two extant manuscript copies of Baharistan-iShahi, one is in the British Museum (Add. 16, 706) and the other is in the India Office (I.O. 509). An abridged MS copy is in Bankipore Library.

When compared with the India Office copy, the one preserved in the British Museum has some omissions, erasions and over-writings. Many place-names are illegible or carelessly written. In a few instances, the corresponding dates in Laukika calendar are missing. On these counts, the India Office copy, has been considered more dependable, though, in both the cases, the date of transcription or the name of the copyist has not been recorded. Not ignoring the importance of the manuscript copy in the British Museum, a genuine text was established after careful collation of the two MSS, and the translation is of the collated version. In doing so many ambiguities have been removed and omissions reconstructed. However, a few though minor discrepancies could not be resolved and these have been indicated in the English version.

The India Office manuscript copy carries the date of compilation of the chronicle in its colophon in the shape of a chronogram, viz. Nameh-e-Shahan-i-Kashmir: it is A.H. 1023 corresponding to A.D. 1614. The chronogram is actually the concluding verse of a short mathnavi (a long poem) appended to the text. This is somewhat curious because such appendages are generally found in collections (jung) and not in exclusive works of history. Moreover, the mathnavi in question is of a different theme-being didactic in nature- bearing no relation whatsoever to the theme of the chronicle. The MS does not bear either the date of its transcription or the name of its author scribe and the place of writing. It cannot be decisively established as to when the author began writing the name of its author and the place of writing. It cannot be decisively established as to when the author began writing the chronicle; one or two clues however do suggest that the entire work was completed in not less than two decades. It seems that there are big time-gaps in the course of writing the chronicle, for the author refers to Kashmir sometimes as 'this country' and at other times as 'that country'. This also proves that while writing it the author was sometimes in Kashmir and sometimes outside Kashmir.

The clues suggesting more than two decades as the period over which the chronicle was written are: On folio 12b of the MS, the author writes that 270 years have elapsed since the ravages of Zulchu took place. The incursion of Zulchu, as per the author's statement (fol. 11a/p. 17) took place in A.H. 727/A.D. 1323. As such he had been writing about this particular event in A.H. 997 corresponding to A.D. 1593. This was the time when Kashmir had passed under the control of the Mughals for over six years. The chronicle was brought to its completion twenty-one years later. In other words, we can say that it took the author no fewer than twenty-one years to complete it, presuming that he had begun it in A.H. 997/A.D. 1593. The presumption is based on the fact that Zulchu's incursion into Kashmir being an event of early history of Kashmir, the chronicler had to write twelve folios to arrive at the description of this event.

The MS fills 212 folios of 8(5)/l8"x5" size written in fairly legible nasta'liq hand. A few omissions, errors and erasions which have crept into the text, advertantly or inadvertantly, have been set right as far as possible after collating with the Br. Museum copy. Whatever discrepancies are left do not seriously obstruct the continuity of the text or impair its readability. Some orthographic peculiarities of the MS are:

(Editor's note: inability to write Arabic characters with a text editor)

(a) letter 'Seen' is invariably accompanied by three dots at its bottom.

(b) letter 'Gaaf' invariably carries only one horizontal stroke instead of two.

(c) letter 'long ya-e' has not been used which contrasts with the Practice followed in many Persian histories produced in India.

(d) letter 'short ya-e' is invariably accompanied by two dots at its bottom.

(e) 'hamza' is generally represented by two dots at the bottom of 'ya'.

(f) when a word ending with letter 'alif' is required to be compounded with the following word, its sign of 'hamza' is replaced by 'ya'.

Such orthographic peculiarities are generally found in Persian-Tajik manuscripts of Transoxiana produced during the mediaeval period. For example, a manuscript history entitled Mehman Nameh-e-Bukhara, of Fadlu'llah Rozbehan Khunji completed in A.D. 1509 in Herat bears a marked resemblance to the work in question in its orthographic peculiarities. It suggests that the style of writing, calligraphy and also the general pattern of Persian works of history in those days were largely influenced by the Turanian style, rather than the Indian.

In one particular formal aspect, the India Office MS is different from general Persian historical writings. A common pattern of Persian-Tajik and Arabic works is that the author begins with the opening sentence of the Islamic prayer, viz, 'bismillah ar-rahman ar-rahim', followed by one or two paragraphs in doxology, praises to the Holy Prophet, the Imams, and lastly to the ruler or the patron as the case may be. But in the case of Baharistan-i-Shahi, except for the opening sentence of the Islamic prayer, all other doxological features are conspicuously absent. The book begins directly with the mythical story of the beginning of Kashmir. If we presume that its author was of the Shia' faith and that he wrote at a time when factional feuds were recurrent, we can understand his doing away with the recognised practice of writing prefatory material to works of history.

The MS is frequently interspersed with verses which occasionally fill a folio or two. Their theme is generally related to the context. However, it is difficult to ascertain whether these verses have been borrowed from some versified history of Kashmir or not, although there are a few positive clues to suggest such a possibility. If the author really made use of one, it could either be the now lost work of Mulla Naderi, which is mentioned in several Persian histories of Kashmir, or that of Sayyid Qasim, which is mentioned cursorily on folio 42b/p.60 of the text, presuming that the reference is not to Abu'l-Qasim b. Hindushah Firishta. The rhyme and meter of these verses correspond to the one we find in the Shahnama of Ferdowsi. It is important to bear in mind that the Shahnama had set the trend for future poet-historians in the choice of meter for recording popular events and legends of heroism and valour. Shahnama, the great epic, had been popular with the men of letters in Kashmir as early as the fifteenth century. Jonaraja tells us that "Bhattavtara, who had perused Shahnama composed a work named Jainavilass as the counterpart of the king's (Zainu'l-'Abidin) instructions".[1]

While rendering Baharistan-i-Shahi into English, the Persian verses which frequently figure in the text have been left out. This is not because the verses do not deserve to be translated, but because it would have proved a source of distraction to the reader.


There is no specific mention in the text of the chronicle about the sources from which the author drew material for his work. Nevertheless, keeping in view the importance of the subject, an attempt will be made to trace sources that have a direct or indirect bearing on the text.

For the Hindu period of his chronicle, the author probably drew on some Sanskrit work or works, for he has referred to some such source by a phrase 'ba qalam-i-Kashmiri', although the word Sanskrit has not been used anywhere in the text. Repeated allusions to such histories suggest that Persian translations of some known Sanskrit histories were within the reach of the author. These could have been the chronicles written by Kalhana, Jonaraja, Srivara or Suka. We know for certain that by that time Kalhana's Rajatarangini and the chronicle of Jonaraja had been rendered into Persian either in full or in part. Jonaraja tells us that Sultan

[1] The Rajatarangini of Jonaraja, (tr.) Dutt. J.C., Delhi, 1986, p. 13.

Zainu'1-'Abidin was instrumental in getting Rajatarangini translated into Persian.[1] We also know that 'Abdu'l-Qadir Badauni had, under Akbar's instructions, prepared an abridged version of the history of Kashmir; this is stated by him in the 'muqaddima' to his work 'Muntakhabu't-Tawarikh.[2]

The four Sanskrit historians who followed Kalhana were a witness to events for the periods detailed below:

Jonaraja  A.D. 1398-1459  61 years
Srivara  1459-1486  27 years
Prajyabhatta  1486-1513  27 years
Suka  1613-1638  25 years
Since Baharistan-i-Shahi was written in A.D. 1614, Suka's history falls outside its time-span. Srivara's account is much more detailed than those of others. This is clear from the following table:
Kalhana  3698 years in 7830 slokas (verses)
Jonaraja  300 years in 976 slokas
Srivara  27 years in 2241 slokas
Suka  25 years in 398 slokas
The last time when the author of the work refers to a Sanskrit history (ba qalam-i-Kashmiri) is in connection with the defeat of Kaji Chak at the hands of Mirza Haidar Dughlat; the year recorded is 16 which corresponds to A.H. 947/ A.D. 1540.

Apart from the translations of the chronicles of Jonaraja, Srivara and others, and presuming that these works had been translated into Persian, some more histories in Persian verse or prose had been produced by the time the author of

[1] The Rajatarangini of Jonaraja, (tr.) Dutt. J.C., Delhi,1986,
p. 146. Also see Zaina Rajtarangini of Srivara., ed. Rughnath Singh,
Varanasi, 1977, Pt. I, Stt. 1:5:85.
[2] (Tr.) Sir Wolseley Haig, Patna, 1973, vol. iii, p. 536. See
text vol. ii. p. 374.

Baharistan-i-Shahi appeared on the scene. These could also have carried the accounts or Hindu rulers of Kashmir used by the author. But the loss of Persian translation of Sanskrit histories of Kashmir from Kalhana to Suka (presuming the translations had been made) has made any verdict on the sources of the history of Hindu period in Baharistan-i-Shahi a matter of conjecture. For writing his account, the author seems to have used some distorted and frightfully defective Persian rendering of Rajatarangini. His casual attitude towards this period is indicated by the fact that only eleven out of a total of 212 folios of the MS are devoted to it. It seems that the author wrote about it as a routine formality.

As far as the account of the Sultans of Kashmir is concerned, the following Persian histories produced until the writing of Baharistan-i-Shahi in A.D. 1614, come to our notice:

1. Tarikh-i-Kashmir, Sayyid 'Ali, A.D. 1579.

2. Tarikh-i-Kashmir, Mulla Husain Naderi, A.D. 1580.

3. Tadkiratu'l-Arifin, Mulla 'Ali Raina, A.D. 1587.

4. Tarikh-i-Kashmir, being the translation of Jonaraja's history. A.D. 1590, Munich MS. Its author is unknown and the work covers 131 years of history given by Jonaraja.

5. Tabaqat-i-Akbari, Nizamu'd-Din Tarawi, A.D. 159

6. Tarikh-i-Rashidi, Mirza Haidar Dughlat.

7. Babur Nama, Zahiru'd-Din Babur.

8. Tarikh-i-Firishta.

No doubt these historical works were produced either before Baharistan-i-Shahi was written or were produced simultaneously, but it is difficult to say which of these histories the author used as his sources; he does not make any specific reference to any work or works.

From the concluding portions of the chronicle, one gathers the impression that the author had been an eye-witness to some happenings of those times. It could also be said that he had access to important personalities. That is why he gives some minute details of events in this part of the work. However, in the absence of an authentic biography of the author, who is not even identified, it would not be safe to link him with either the court of the Chaks or the powerful house of the Sayyids of Baihaq, whom he praises in extravagant terms for their bravery and statecraft. That the author preferred to remain anonymous is also significant. Some scholars have tried to lift the veil of anonymity from his name, but such efforts could be only conjectural and had better be ignored.

We may now try to analyse the clues available in the chronicle to the possible sources used by the author. This will help in evaluating the authenticity of the work in its totality, and also serve as an incentive to further research in the field.

1. Commenting on the ravages of Zulchu (c. A.p. 1323), the author writes (fol. 11a/p. 17) that the chroniclers of the events of Kashmir have not recorded an event more disastrous and catastrophic than that of Zulchu's incursion into Kashmir. This is a very faithful reproduction of Jonaraja's comment on the event.[1] This confirms that the Persian version of Jonaraja's Rajatarangini was used by the author.

2. Describing the military exploits of Sultan Shihabu'd-Din, (fol. 21a/p. 32), the author writes that details pertaining to the Sultan's military adventures have been elaborately recorded in the history of..(blank) written in Kashmiri. The author also writes that if the stories and anecdotes of Sultan Shihabu'd-Din's remarkable bravery are fully described (as had been available to him), people would think them a result of his poetical exaggeration and as such would be taken as false .... This is exactly what Jonaraja has said about the Sultan.[1] Furthermore, the expression "chronicles of mighty

[1]. Jonaraja, ed. Srikanth Koul, Hoshiarpur, 1967, p. 165.
[1]. See the Rajatarangani of Jonaraja, (tr.) Dutt, J.C. New
Delhi, 1986, p. 40.

monarchs and events of kings of Kashmir" with which the text of Baharistan-i-Shahi begins is perhaps the expanded Persian rendering of the Sanskrit term 'Rajatarangini.' Not mentioning the name of the author or the title of the 'Kashmiri history' (ba qalam-i-Kaskmiri) in the text (fol. 20b/p. 31) appears to be a deliberate act, and not an inadvertent omission. Perhaps the author did not want to acknowledge the debt he owed to Jonaraja.

3. On fol. 29a/p.40, the author refers to a panegyric composed by Sayyid Mahmud Baihaqi in praise of Sultan Ghiathu'd-Din of Delhi and says that "for fear of its length, historians have recorded only the following verses". Then follow the verses. This indicates that the author knew some Persian historical works of India which dealt with the period he was writing about.

4. On fol. 42b/p.60, the author quotes one Sayyid Qasim describing the numerical strength of Mir Sayyid Naqir Baihaqi's troops in readiness against the troops of the Raja of Jasrot (or Raja Jasrath). The event pertains to the days of Sultan Zainu'l-'Abidin's accession to the throne in A.D. 1422. Who this Sayyid Qasim was and what exactly he wrote is not known. One possible guess could be that he is Qasim b. Hindushah, commonly known as Firishta.

5. On fol. 62b/p.78, the author describes the conspiracy hatched by Kashmiri dissidents to assassinate Sayyid Hasan Baihaqi and writes, "It has been written in Kashmiri ...." This indicates that a history of Kashmir of that period written in Sanskrit did exist and was made use of by the author either in its Persian translation or through the assistance of an interpreter. If we accept that the Persian version of a Sanskrit history did exist at this point of time, then it has to be that by Srivara. His chronicle mentions clearly the dream of Mir Sayyid Hasan regarding his impending killing next morning. The dream is described in its entirety by our chronicler on folio 62b/p.78.

6. On fol. 75b/p.90. there is a description of the fierce fighting which broke out between the troops of Fath Shah and Muhammad Shah and the mishap of Mir Sayyid Muhammad's horse falling into a ditch on the battlefield. The chronicler says that the event is well known in Kashmiri history. This too confirms that Srivara's history served as a source for this portion of the chronicle.

7. On fol. 145a/p.193, while describing a confrontation between Yusuf Shah Chak and Sayyid Mubarak Khan, the author notes, ". . . historians have given an account of this battle in prose as well as in verse". This suggests the existence of some history or histories in Persian/Sanskrit written both in verse and in prose. The statement is followed by verses filling one whole folio of the MS. It is likely that these verses have been borrowed directly from some versified history in Persian/Sanskrit.

8. The first mention of the Islamic calendar in the chronicle has been made to record the year of Laxman Dev's death, viz. A.H. 531/A.D. 1136 (fol. 8b/p 8). Thereafter, the Muslim calendar has been used along with the Laukika calendar of the Kashmiris which has been introduced for the first time to denote the year A.H. 878/A.D. 1473 (Laukika 46 Vivat 12). This too suggests the existence of Sanskrit/ Persian histories of Kashmir during the period under our consideration.

9. On fol. lOb/p.16, the author writes that he confirmed the name (of Zulchu) as Zulaji from Mirza Haidar. This indicates that Mirza Haidar Dughlat's history Tarikh-i-Rashidi also served him as a source for his chronicle.


Baharistan-i-Shahi is essentially an account of the political events of Kashmir in mediaeval times, especially from the time of the incursion of Zulchu into Kashmir in A.H. 727/A.D. 1323 to A.H. 1023/A.D. 1614, the year when Sayyid Abu'l-Ma'ali, the second son of Sayyid Mubarak, and the last of Yusuf Shah Chak's closest associates, proceeded to Thatta in Sindh to assume charge of his jagir, conferred upon him by Jahangir Padishah. The Hindu period with which the chronicle begins is casually treated in the first eleven folios. While dealing with the later period, the narrative acquires breadth and depth, especially from the death of 'Ali Shah in A.H. 986/A.D. 1578. Some portions of the history, mostly the latter ones, were probably written by the author at a place outside Kashmir because, while referring to Kashmir, he says 'that country' whereas in the earlier portions he calls it 'this country'.

The narrative does not deal only with the rulers of Shahmiri and Chak dynasties, but also treats of the story of the Baihaqi Sayyids whose ancestor, Mir Sayyid Mahmud, had been defeated by Timur and had fled to Delhi along with his followers during the reign of Sultan Ghiathu'd-Din. The Sultan of Delhi had granted him a jagir in Jaricha near Delhi. During the reign of Sultan Sikandar of Shahmiri dynasty (A.D. 1393 - 1416), Sayyid Mahmud came to Kashmir for the first time along with a band of his soldiers and associates. Thereafter the Baihaqi Sayyids gradually rose in power and position and played an active, and often a decisive, role in the affairs of Kashmir. One of their clan, named Sayyid Mubarak, ruled over Kashmir for a short period of two months in A.D. 1578. The account of the Sayyids of Baihaq is treated at such length in the chronicle that some scholars have said that it is a history of the Sayyids than that of the Sultans of Kashmir. His lavish praise of the Sayyids makes us presume that he was very close to them, perhaps a beneficiary of that house. He does not hesitate to lay bare the contempt which the Sayyids had for the local Kashmiri population. This became the cause of constant friction and acrimony between them and the local chiefs. From contemporary sources we learn that the Sayyids had to make strenuous efforts to become acceptable to the Kashmiris. Srivara writes that although they claimed their descent from the house of the Prophet, they did not receive adequate veneration from the Kashmiri Hindus who had been converted to Islam. Therefore, in order to make the converted Hindus understand their high status, the Sayyids told them that they were 'Musalman Brahmans' as against 'Hindu Brahmans'.[1]

[1]. Srivara calls them chhij, and the rest of the Hindus converted to
Islam as mlechhas. See Zaina Rajatarangini, ed.
Raghunath Singh, Varanasi, 1977, Pt. I, Stt. 4: 77.

As a work of history, Baharistan-i-Shahi has its weak spots as well. The author often makes sudden shifts from one event to another. For example, while describing Sultan Zainu'l-'Abidin's works of public utility and of architecture (p. 68), the author brings in the story of the Sultan's action against the recalcitrant Pandav Chak of Kupwara. Such interpolations figure with greater frequency during a period of about a hundred years of political turmoil and administrative chaos following the death of Sultan Zainu'l-'Abidin in A.D. 1473. This causes confusion in determining the sequence of events in their chronological order.

The tone of the narrative gives the impression that the author had been writing under some constraints of conscience. Except for the fact that Mulla Hasamu'd-Din was his great grandfather (fol. 33b,1p, 44), we know nothing about his life. That he was an adherent of Shia' faith becomes clear from the loud manner in which he extols the propagation of religion by Shamsu'd-Din 'Iraqi, Musa Raina, and Kaji Chak, all staunch Shias, and the account of their destruction of Hindu temples and forcible conversion of Hindus to the Islamic faith, or the pogroms unleashed against that community. He severely criticises Mirza Haidar Dughlat for his hypocritical visit to the shrine of the Shias at Zadibal in Srinagar. But his treatment of the factional feuds between the Shia' and Sunni people of Kashmir and the weakening of the former with the beginning of the Mughal imperialistic designs in Kashmir is very subdued. At crucial moments, he conceals more than what he reveals; at other places, he side-tracks the main issue. For example, he does not tell us the exact reason of Sayyid 'Ali Hamadani's dissatisfaction with Sultan Qutbu'd-Din (fol. 34b/p. 36), although the latter gave the Sultan full respect, implemented his instructions in matters of religion and faith, and even attended congregational prayers at the hospice which the Sayyid had built on the ruins of a demolished temple in 'Alau'd-Din Pora (p. 36). Another example of ambiguity is about the exit of Sayyid Muhammad Hamadani from Kashmir in the reign of Sultan Sikandar, A.D. 1393 (p. 47). The author makes no mention of who Sayyid Hisari was and why he was hostile towards the Sayyid. The matter becomes more intriguing when we are told that Sayyid Muhammad received patronage and protection from the Sultan and also the support from his newly-converted general Suh Bhat (renamed Saifu'd-Din; meaning, 'Sword of Faith'). This Suh Bhat had also given his daughter in marriage to the Sayyid and, as such, he could not be sent away easily. Likewise, the author writes nothing about the differences which arose between Mir Shams 'Iraqi and Mir Sayyid Muhammad Baihaqi (fol. 72a/p. 86) which forced the former to proceed on his self-imposed travels or exile to Tibet. The closing part of the chronicle which deals with the dramatic circumstances in which Yusuf Chak first conducted negotiations with the Mughals and then ended up as their prisoner is also somewhat intriguing. Similarly, the author's exposition of Mughal imperialistic designs in Kashmir is also full of inconsistencies and ambiguities.

The author throws a veil of ambiguity over some sensitive matters by referring to the supervening of the Divine Will in human affairs. He gives the impression that he believed that God's Will shapes the destinies of human beings, but when we look carefully at the facts described by him, it seems that the divine interference in human affairs is only a facade to conceal the machinations of persons who wielded power in the name of religion. Thus Shams 'Iraqi predicts that the Omnipotent would give to Kaji Chak the command of the government of Kashmir, and elicited from the latter a firm promise of strictly abiding by his dictates to propagate his creed (fol. 81a/p. 107). It was only after receiving the approval of The Omnipotent that Kaji Chak resorted to the large-scale massacre of Hindus. When the eyes of 'Ali Khan were gouged out by the orders of Yusuf Shah, the author calls it a "matter of divine ordination (fol. 89a/p 116). By attributing crucial happenings to powers beyond human control and not subjecting them to the law of cause and effect, the author faithfully follows the tradition of most of the Oriental historians of mediaeval history. There is hardly any attempt in the narrative to logically analyse the events or to see time in a precise and natural frame.

The chronicle deals mostly with rulers, their powerful nobles, ministers and the domineering groups and factions of feudal chiefs. Common folk do not figure in it. We hardly get to know anything about the Kashmiri society of that time. The author does not record the participation of common masses in happenings crucial to their interests and lives. We also do not learn anything about class interests, agriculture, economy, taxes, revenue system, trade and commerce, and a host of other social matters.

In spite of these drawbacks, the chronicle is important as a record of the political history of Kashmir under the Shahmiris and the Chaks. It is the first comprehensive history of Kashmir written in Persian. On the political affairs of the period, it is indeed a mine of information, especially on some of the most controversial matters, like the obstructions to Shamsu'd-Din 'Iraqi's mission and the elimination of Nurbakhshiyya sect, Haidar Dughlat's religious policy, emergence of Baihaqi Sayyid's as a political force, and Mughal imperialistic designs in Kashmir.

The work amply reflects the feudalistic character of Kashmiri society during the rule of the Sultans. The system was more or less a continuation of the system which existed under the Hindu rulers. Feudal lords were the props of the kingdom, enjoying power and influence. The landed aristocrats were called zamindars; notable among them were the zamindars of Bring, Chatr, Barthal, Nagam, Kother, and Kamaraj. The waqf (endowment) institution under the Sultans may be compared to agrahara under the Hindu rules. Alongside the feudal chiefs, other classes of landed aristocracy gained prominence during the rule of the Sultans: Ulema, Sayyids, Qadis and men versed in religious learning. Sultan Sikandar created the post of Shaykhu'l-Islam and villages from each pargana were set apart for the perpetuation of the institution. The system continued down to the times of the author.[1] In special cases, the entire pargana was given as endowment; the pargana of Mattan was endowed to Sayyid Muhammad Hamadani. The relations between the landlords

[1]. P. 45 Infra

and the peasants could not be anything different from what they had been in traditional oriental feudalist society. The growth of religious institutions and increase in the number of religious intermediaries led to the disruption of the smooth functioning of the administrative machinery. The feudal lords who were converted to the new religion in the early period of Shahmiri rule became powerful and domineering because along with their political manoeuverings, they also began to exploit religious feelings by showing obeisance to religious men and the divines. [1]

Baharistan-i-Shahi reveals that, apart from regular troops, private soldiers and mercenaries were also hired to take part in military operations. Most of the zamindars raised private contingents of troops and provided them with provisions. No specific rules or practices of warfare were set forth; a victory over the enemy was usually followed by general loot and plunder of the properties of the defeated side. Twice did Zainu'l-'Abidin order destruction by fire of the residential complex of the defiant Pandav Chak in Trehgam.[2] Kashmiri soldiers were adepts in mountain warfare and made good use of natural defensive positions offered by mountain recesses and gorges. Each contingent was placed under a commander who acted and moved in unison with his soldiers. But a difference of opinion or interest with other commanders would not prevent him from taking his own decision and moving in a different direction. He could even make over to the enemy's side if it suited his own interests without having any qualms of conscience.

The work is also important because of its frequent references to the geography and topography of Kashmir. It mentions parganas, villages, towns, rivers, lakes, springs, routes, passes, mountain ranges, narrow gorges and extensive fields which tell us a great deal about Kashmir's topography, her

l. P. 45 Infra. On this Subject also see Kashmir Polity (600 - 1200
A.D.) Drabu, V. N., New Delhi, 1986, p: 199 passim.
2. P. 69 Infra.

boundaries and frontier military posts. The history clarifies how the territories beyond the northern and southern mountain ranges of the Valley shaped political events in Kashmir. In particular we see how regions of Tibet, Karnah, Drav (Baltistan and Darad lands) and those of Kishtwar, Rajouri, Poonch and Ghakkar lands were intimately linked with the history of Kashmir from early times. It also shows Kashmir's close relations with the northern plains of India, particularly with Delhi as the centre of the empire.

It should not go unnoticed that the chronicle paints a gloomy and dismal picture of Kashmir after the death of Sultan Zainu'l 'Abidin. His passing away let loose chaos and confusion in the land; each powerful chief or group tried to seize power in the kingdom, reducing the Sultan to the position of a nominal head. The chronicle also shows how the conditions prevailing in the vast country of Hindustan affected political developments in Kashmir, particularly from the beginning of the sixteenth century. The hostilities between various groups of Kashmiri chieftains led them to establish contacts with Babur, Humayun, Sher Shah and Akbar. Several other groups tried to get in touch with the powerful courtiers of the Mughals or their trusted generals. Kashmir gradually came under the Mughals; Shaykh Ya'qub Sarfi's mission to Akbar's court clinched the process.


The local Hindu calendar called Loukika was in use in Kashmir during the Hindu period. It continues to be used in Baharistan-i-Shahi alongside the Muslim calendar. The first time when the Muslim calendar is used is on fol. 8b /p. 8, in connection with the death of Laxman Dev; it is A.H. 531 corresponding to A.D. 1136. The Loukika calendar has been used in the chronicle for the first time on fol. 58b/p.74, giving 46 Vivat 12 as the year of Sultan Zainu'l'Abidin's death. It corresponds to A.H. 879/A.D. 1473. Thereafter the Loukika calendar occurs intermittently and the last time when it is mentioned is 49 corresponding to A.H. 950 which is A.D. 1543.

It should be recalled that the Loukika calendar was used by all Sanskrit historians of Kashmir beginning with Kalhana. The partial use of this calendar by the author of Baharistan-i-Shahi suggests that he had made use of a Sanskrit historical source at least for the portion of his work where Loukika calendar figures. Ordinarily, mediaeval Persian histories give dates only according to the Muslim calendar.

The following table gives the Loukika years (and their corresponding Christian dates) in the works of Jonaraja, Srivara, Prajyabhatta and Suka:

Name of the king Loukika A.D


Rinchana  XXXVIII. 96  1320 
Shamsu'd-Din  XXXIX. 15  1339 
Jamsheed  XXXIX. 18  1342 
'Alau'd-Din  XXXIX 19  1343 
Qutbu'd-Din  XXXIX. 30  1354 
Shihabu'd-Din  XXXIX. 49  1373 
Sikandar  XXXIX. 65  1389 
'Ali Shah  XXXIX. 89  1413


Zainu'l-Abidin  XXXIX. 96  1420
Haidar Shah  XL. 96  1470
Hasan Shah  XL. 48  1472
Muhammad Shah  XL. 60,90,92  1484, 1514
Muhammad Shah  XLI 6  1516, 1530

Prajyabhatta and Suka:

Fath Shah  XL. 62, 91  1486, 151
Ibrahim Shah  XLI. 4  1528
Nazuk Shah  XLI. 5  1529
Shams Shah  XLI. 13  1537
Habib Shah  XLI. 36  1560
Ghazi Shah  XLI. 36  1560
Husain Shah  XLI. 38  1562
'Ali Shah  XLI. 45  1569
Yusuf Shah  XLI. 54  1578
Lohar Chak  XLI. 54  1578
Yusuf Chak (2nd time)  XLI. 55  1579
Ya'qub Shah  XLI. 63  1487
<<< Foreword
Index Page
Next Chapter >>>

© 2001 Kashmir Information Network. All Rights Reserved.