" What Shankar Knows is worth knowing and what Shankar does not know is not worth knowing "
These were the lines written by Tyndale Biscoe , a great educationist and first Principal of CMS Mission School Srinagar in his Book 'Sunlight and Shade' This reflects the depth of Knowledge and illustrious personality of a great teacher of his times and the son of soil Pt.Shankar kaul.
Pt. Shankar Kaul was born in year 1879 near Batyar Mohalla of Aali kadal Srinagar. After completing his early education in State High School, he got admission in CMS Mission School Fateh Kadal, where his personality began to develop under the worthy guidance of Mr. Tyndale Biscoe, Principal of the School.
Shankar Kaul proved to be a brilliant student , good swimmer and a magnificent hiker. After completing his education i.e. BA. and B.T from Lahore university Shankar Kaul joined as Teacher in the same school and became famous due to his ability and knowledge .He remained attached with the school for fifty three years and rose to the position of Head Master. Pt. Sansar Chand Koul, Nandlal Bakaya, N.N. Fotedar , Shiv ji Koul and Master Zinda Koul were great teachers and his contemporaries. While teaching at the school , he also became instructor of swimming, hiking and Gymnastics. Being a devout Hindu, he was also having full knowledge of Christianity and Islam. He used to quote the sayings of every religion while proving his point or delivering lectures. He was a very good orator and his early morning lecture to gathering of students had a deep impact and a magical effect on the audience . He was also very much Intrested in social service. He along with a group of students voluntarily visited the areas effected by epidemics , fires or floods to help the people. He also raised his voice against the exploitation of animals.
He initiated an agitation against child marriage , which was very common those days . He also met Mahraja Hari Singh and persuaded him to pass the bill for Widow remarriage . Hindu widows of Kashmir got the right of remarriage in year 1928. Mr. Biscoe has well appreciated the efforts of Master ji ,in this regard, in his book Sunlight and shade . .
Being a man of diverse qualities, Master Shankar Pandit was appointed as Commissioner of city Municipality by Mahraja Hari Singh. Master ji took much Intrest in the cleanliness drive of Srinagar city . The Govt. used to consult him regarding social service schemes to be initiated by them.
Despite of being a teacher in Christan Missionary School , he was a devout Hindu and very much interested in his own religion. During leisure time,he remained busy in his spiritual pursuits and had attained greater heights in the field. He always helped poor and needy and laid much stress on the purpose of life. He used to say , to get destroyed for a purpose is better than living a purpose less life. He was a great Karmyogi pandit. He was having spiritual liaison with Bhagwan Gopi Nath ji, a great saint of Kashmir .
I would like here to quote an incident from the life of Master ji which justify his spiritual attainment.
Master ji used to visit Hari Parbat daily early in the morning to pay his obeisance at the feet of Mata Sharika ji. Once he had to stop his daily schedule because of fracture in his leg due to some accident. One day he looked in desperation towards Hari Parbat from the window of his house located on the banks of Jehlum and murmured ," Mata I am not able to visit you presently but you have also forgotten me ; can't you send me your prasad even?"
At the same movement an unknown person named Bhagat ji who was at Hari Parbat got a vision of Mata , who ordered him to take some prasad from here and deliver it to Master Shankar pandit of Ali Kadal.
Bhagat ji took some Prasad and entered the house of Master ji much hesitantly and sat just near the entrance. He could not venture to handover Prasad to Master ji. He thought Master ji will make fun of him if he revealed truth to him. But Master ji affectionately called him in and asked for the Prasad , which Bhagat ji most readily offered . Thereafter, Bhagat ji became a great desciple of Master ji.
He distributed knowledge to all the student and believed in Nishkaam Karma through out his life. Pandit Shankar Kaul left this mortal world in year 1963 .
Monday, 11 September 2017
" What Shankar Knows is worth knowing and what Shankar does not know is not worth knowing "
Friday, 18 August 2017
Pooja was just seventeen when she completed her School education and stopped studying further as there was no college in her village . She was the only child of her father, who was a rich Landlord of the village and her mother a seasoned housewife. Therefore, Pooja was a pampered child of family and brought up with much fanfare. But Pooja was very innocent by nature and totally ignorant about the facts of life as compared to other girls of her age. Now Pooja had left school, radiant, bursting with life , thirsting for happiness , ready for all the joys and all the risks which she had already anticipated in imagination. She looked like portrait of Godess , with her dark hair and fair complexion. Her eyes were blue with a dark mole on her chin. She was tall with a developed bust.
Once sitting near the window of her bed room she began to dream of love. For sometime her thoughts have been filling up with anxious anticipations of its advent. She had only to meet him . What would he be like? She did not really know . She only knew that she would worship him with all her heart and soul. They would go on long walks , they would hold hands , pressing close to each other , hearing their heartbeats suddenly she seemed to feel him close by her side and a shiver of sensual longing ran over her whole body.
After some time village priest brought the proposal of a boy namely Ashok who was a graduate and living in a near by village. But the parents of Ashok had already expired . Pooja's father asked the priest to bring the boy someday to their house so that they know each other better. Ashok was a very smart boy of average height with a very good sense of humour. Every body in the house began to like him gradually as he started to visit their house.
One day Ashok proposed Puja when her parents were not at home. Ashok seizing the hand of Pooja whispered to her, " tell me Pooja dear, will you be my wife?" She bent her head and when he again whispered , " Do give me an answer, I love you". She raised her eyes gently to his and he read her answer in her glance.
She was blushing ,panting and strangulated with emotion when her father one day added with a smile , " we can not do anything without discussing it with you. Your mother and I have no objection with this marriage , but we do not wish to put any pressure on you. You are much better off than he is, but when it is a question of lifelong happiness , the consideration of money ought not to come in . He has no near relative living , so if you do marry him , he will come into our family as a son , whereas with someone else it will be a case of our daughter going among strangers. We like the boy .We seek your opinion. Pooja stammered in affirmation and marriage was fixed.
On the night of marriage Ashok pressed the ears of Pooja with his lips, saying ," Today you will be my little wife". Although she had learnt the facts of life from her school friends, she still only thought of the romantic aspect of love and was surprised .His wife? Was not that she already ?" Then he clasped her in arms and she surrendered because she remembered the words of her mother that from now on you are all his. Finally with some inquisitiveness some pain and some excitement marriage was consummated.
Excitement of marriage lasted for some months when Pooja noticed some indifference in the attitude of Ashok towards her. Ashok had taken full charge of the farms of his father in law. Pooja first thought it is because of work load of Ashok that he can not afford to give her much time. But soon it transpired that Ashok had developed illicit relations with some farm girl , who had become pregnant by now. This ill action of Ashok gave a shock to the whole family in general and particularly to Pooja. She wanted to severe all relations with Ashok. But father of Pooja, who was a seasoned landlord and a business man , gave serious thought to the problem and paid considerable amount of money to father of farm girl and advised him to arrange the marriage of his daughter , which he did later on.
But it was difficult for Pooja to compromise with the situation. She dared not face the people she met, convinced that they would whisper behind her back. She felt a grudge against Ashok in her heart for not understanding her and having no refined modesty and delicacy. She felt as if it were a veil , a barrier between herself and him, realising for the first time that two people can never understand each other's deepest feelings and thoughts. They may walk side by side and sometimes embrace , but they remain apart and moral being of each one is eternally isolated all through life. Pooja could realise that facts of life are not always sweet but sometimes bitter also.
Tuesday, 8 August 2017
Anita was living along with her two kids Anshoo and Amit at Jammu. Her husband Major Anil was in Kashmir on frontier duty somewhere near Kupwara . It was monsoon season in Jammu and raining heavily through out that night . Anita after rising from bed and finishing her daily early chores went over to the window, but the rain showed no sign of stopping . The downpour had rattled all night against the panes and the roof . The lowering sky , full of water ,seemed to have burst , drenching the earth and reducing it to a muddy paste like melted sugar . Furious gusts of wind were blowing , laden with stuffy heat , and the roar of flooded gutters filled the empty streets , where the houses like sponges sucked up the damp , which found its way inside and made the walls sweat from cellar to attic.
Anita was very happy today as her husband Anil was coming soon to home for a long leave as she was now ready to grasp all the joys of life of which she had long dreamt. She wanted to visit Malls , shopping complexes and cinemas along with Anil and children. She was only anxious about the weather so that it may hinder the home coming of Anil. She wanted the weather cleared and for many times she scanned the horizon anxiously that morning . Suddenly she noticed that she had forgotten to awoke her children from bed as their school time was approaching fast .No sooner children arose from bed , she promptly prepared them and went to kitchen for preparing their breakfast. After serving them breakfast, she accompanied the children to nearby street to board them in the school bus . The downpour continued and Anita took the children under umbrella towards main Street. The howling wind drove the rattling rain against the umbrella and flooded the roadway making pools and puddles of muddy rain water. Soon the children boarded the school bus and the Bus drove on splashing muddy water of the pools through its wheels. While returning to home Anita could observe the violence of storm abating gradually . Soon it was only a kind of drizzle , a fine mist of flying raindrops. The cloud ceiling began to rise and clear , and suddenly through an invisible opening a long slanting gleam of sunlight shone down. Now on reaching home she was happy to see a blue and clear expanse of sky spread over the whole earth . A gentle fresh breeze passed like a sigh of relief from the window. But it is often said that there is a lull before a greater storm. Soon the telephone bell rang and Anita was informed by an unknown Voice from the unit of her husband that Anil was martyred last night while fighting with the terrorists. Anita could not beleive the words . The whole world appeared topsy turvey before her eyes. She could not bear the gravity of message and collapsed in comma on the floor near by dropping the receiver unawares.
When she recovered from comma, she could see her apartment filled with unknown people . The dead body of Anil had also arrived in tricolour with full military honours. Anil had shown much valour while fighting the intruders and killed three of them single handedly. All the five Pakistani intruders had been neutralised against the death of one Indian Major Anil, who had proved himself to be a real warrior. The name of Major Anil had also been recommended for Kiriti chakra award .
But Anita appeared indifferent to all this , even she was not attending to her wailing children sitting besides her. She had turned into a stone. Her sunken and vacant eyes were dry. She was like a corpse. Every body was worried about her mental state and wanted she should cry.
At last after much persuasion of the womenfolk around her she cried while embracing her children. It was with a wild shreik , tears began to flow from her eyes. She wept bitterly shedding torrents of tears. She wailed bitterly. All the woman and even menfolk around there could not hold tears. The storm in the life of a person is sometimes much more stronger than the storm of nature . But the people around heaved a sigh of relief on shedding of tears by the Anita , because this sudden shock could have affected her balance of mind.
Saturday, 15 July 2017
I have been often misunderstood for being an atheist because of my rational outlook on matters of religion and for my habit of pleading against superstitions. As per my convictions there is possibly no relation between rationality and atheism. I would hereby like to narrate an incident of my life ,which happened a very long ago, when I was a young man and had recently joined my first job in Meteorological Deptt. I along with my brother and his family decided to go on Amar nath yatra . The seats were booked in a chartered Bus which was going directly to Baltal en-route Sona Marg. Actually Bus was arranged by a group of Punjabi business men for their families and we could manage few seats in it. The main purpose of booking our seats in this Bus was that it could wait for us at Baltal and bring us back next day to Srinagar immediately, once all of us assembled in the bus.
We boarded the bus at Srinagar around 2 P.M. and reached Baltal at 7 P.M. As we arranged for a small hut for night halt and slept in there after taking some light dinner ,which we had brought from Srinagar
Next day before dawn we arose from our beds and quietly started our journey towards Amarnath shrine. It was really wonderful experience to ascend high mountain peaks and cross the slippery glaciers of ice, where we had to walk on man made paths enough to hold single foot of a person at a time and beyond which were slippery deep ravines and slopes of glaciers. A wrong step of a person could cost his life and it would have been impossible to locate for the dead bodies even because the slopes of mountains were thousands of feet deep and fully laden with ice of glaciers.
There were really thrilling and heart wrenching experiences which prompted us to go ahead carrying our fatigued bodies and numb nerves. I can not still forget the taste of lemon shake which we made with ice water. It was really like a life elixir which refreshed our bodies to the hilt. It was only after crossing mountain peaks, glaciers, ravines , slopes and canyons for hours together, we could locate the great Amarnath cave welcoming us with its Majestic grandeur . While reaching near the holy cave , I could not control my nerves on witnessing the enchanting atmosphere around. It was really a new experience. The place appeared untrodden by human species , animals or birds. The ice cold water of river Amravati flowing fast and making a white foam like substance over it. The White snow mountain peaks, white clouds hovering over the sky and white stones all around added to the grandeur of the place. The scene was mesmerising , bewitching and beyond any description by human words . The spectacle of nature was at its peak mingling slowly with the divinity in conspicous mode. No body could afford to be an atheist in such a serene atmosphere and among the chanting of Shiva shankara echoing around . A dip in ice cold water of Amravati was enough to refresh the body and soul of any pilgrim .
After paying our obeisance at the captivating piligrimage and taking some food , we started our return journey. Our return journey was not so tiresome but it was risky as we had mostly to descend slopes . But heavy rains made our return journey more risky as it made our paths very slippery . Anyhow we reached our base camp Baltal drenched and shivering with cold rain water despite of our rain coats and umbrellas.
After reaching Baltal we boarded the bus waiting for us. When all the passengers assembled ,driver drove the Bus with out any hassle. But only after driving few kms., Driver abruptly stopped the bus near a slope and left it along with conductor with a promise to return soon. We were waiting in the bus for Driver to return for an hour, but he did not turn up. Some pilgrims guessed that he might have gone for dinner in a near by village. All the yatris were drenched with cold rain water and were weary to the hilt. Most of us were dozing and waiting anxiously for driver to return.
In the mean time a boy sitting somewhere in back seat stood up abruptly and started chanting 'Jai Mata di' and all the yatris responded him loudly in the same manner. The yatris thought that he was possessed by 'Mata' and no body dared to stop him when he hurled abuses on Driver and seated himself on Drivers seat and tried to start vehicle. He declared something unrighteous has happened during the pilgrimage and Mata wanted to punish all. Few yatris alighted out of the bus to save themselves but most of yatris remained in the bus with closed eyes chanting Jai Mata di. I was also one among the yatris who came out of bus . We looked at each other in much bewilderment and mustered enough courage to take hold of the boy sitting on drivers seat and pulled him out of the bus after thrashing him a little. He rolled his body on the road and started weeping . He admitted that he was hungry and tired so much that he lost his balance of mind. Then some food was provided to him and he was again bundled in to the bus. In the meantime Driver appeared with much apologetic disposition and drove away the bus. We reached Srinagar at mid of night.
Later on it transpired that the small Boy in question was a domestic help of some family travelling in the Bus , who was neglected and not given any food to eat through out the journey .
Tuesday, 23 May 2017
Anita after completing all the household chores and preparing herself in her formal dress was ready to leave for office. She was however, depressed to see her husband Arvind still in undergarments near verandah cleaning and oiling his old scooter , which she despised so much. Many times she had told him to dispose off his old scooter and purchase a new car which would have eased their life so much. But today she did not utter a word as she was not in talking terms with her husband for the last few days. Actually she was married to Arvind for the last twenty years after courting him for two and half years. The scooter was purchased by Arvind within the first year of their marriage. Therefore , it was witness to all the randevous and romance in their life which existed between the two for several years. But with the passage of time vagaries of life and circumstances had stolen all the charm and romance of the relation. They were living like strangers under the same roof with the common Intrest in their only son , who was studying at Pune. The cracks in the relation began to appear when they became so critical of each other and reached to culmination after their being indifferent to themselves.
After reaching his office Anita was shocked to learn that it was a public holiday thatday. Now she could guess that why her husband was leisurely looking after his scooter. She was furious with anger towards her Husband who did not confide her about the holiday. She decided to visit a cinema instead of going to her home so early. As she reached near cinema hall, she witnessed a huge rush as it happened to be a very first day of some popular cinema being displayed there. In the meantime she saw her Boss in his long chauffer driven car along with his wife. She was astonished to see the beauty of his wife. She was looking like a model of some advertising agency selling woman accessories . As her Boss alighted from his car , she greeted him with folded hands. He requested her to purchase two tickets from woman's queue as his wife was not used to stand in queues. Anita proceeded towards ticket windows to obey the instructions of her boss with out a question. She was jostled and muffled in the huge crowd. She could reminsce her earlier visits to the cinema hall with her husband , who would give cover to her in his strong arms and take her out smoothly in such huge crowd. He would never have let her perish like this. She only purchased two tickets with much difficulty and handed over the same to her boss and left the cinema hall on some pretext. Now Anita wanted to reach her home immediately.
After reaching her home she scolded her husband gently,
" you did not stop me when I left for office as I was not aware of Holiday."
" Oh! I thought you are aware of it and you are going to cinema with your colleague or Boss". retorted back her husband.
" Have I ever visited to cinema or Mall with out you", said Anita displaying affection in her eyes.
"You are absolutely right, dear", "when you left I was very angry. Then I felt guilty and also your absence very much. I thought that I am overlooking your contribution to the family. You have been working relentlessly towards the welfare of family in all fronts including domestic as well as financial. Please forgive me for my ego which stopped me from recognising your contribution and offending you for a quite a long time".
A stream of tears overflowed from the eyes of Anita voluntarily while stopping her husband from touching her knees. Arvind also promised Anita that tomarrow he will apply for a car loan which added a gleam in the eyes of later.
Wednesday, 5 April 2017
My maternal Grandfather Pt. Sham Lal Kak was born at the end of nineteenth century and year was eighteen hundred ninety two in a joint family at Habba kadal Srinagar. He was the eldest child of his parents having three other siblings comprising of two brothers and a sister. He was a brilliant student of Mission school , Fateh Kadal , the motto of which was 'In all things be men'. He was good in studies as well as other extra curricular activities of school like boating, swimming and hiking etc. But unfortunately he was married at very young age, when he was only a student of 6th class as early marriage of children was most common in Kashmiri Pandit families those days. In order to discourage child marriage Mr Tyndale Biscoe , Principal of Mission school had levied extra fee for those students who were married earlier. Therefore, my Grandfather had also to bear the brunt and to remit the extra fee. But such schools helped in changing the outlook of young students coming mostly from much orthodax families of Kashmir who could shun to play volleyball with their naked hands as it was made of leather. They mostly covered their hands by lifting the long sleeves of their' firan' and then only touch the leather ball. It was due to some progressive ideas inculcated in the young mind at school level and brilliant scholarship somewhere inherent in his genes that my Grandfather completed Graduation with top grades, which was a rare achievement those days. In the the meantime his father died and he was left with no other alternative but to look out for a job to support his large family. He first joined state excise Deptt. and later on Accountant Generals office. His wife Rajrani belonged to Natipora area, who was very sagacious lady and gave birth to three sons and one daughter. My Grandfather was interested in reading world class literature particularly English , American and Russian right from his early youth. He was also interested in Art and drama. Chekhov and Pushkin were his favourite playwrights . Theatre was his dream. He wanted to start Drama theatre in Kashmir, when it was still in inception level at big cities like Delhi, Calcutta and Baroda. Only village level theatre like Band pather in Kashmir was known. He was influenced by the Modern Indian theatre , the pioneer of which was Rabindra Nath Tagore, who himself wrote plays in Bengali noted for their exploration and questioning of nationalism , identity, spiritualism and material greed . His plays included Chitragada 1892, The King of Dark Chamber Raja 1910 , The Post office Dhakghar 1913 and Red oleander Raktakabri 1924. My Grand father wanted to bring modern theatre to Kashmir also. But it was an uphill task and required a huge financial investment. He along with his close friends contributed few thousand rupees towards the venture. Thousand rupees was a huge amount those days. He had to apply for withdrawing his Provident fund to arrange his contribution. His father in law, a patwari of Natipora advised him to invest the amount in question in purchasing land at Natipora which will make him a big landlord of Natipora. But his passion for theatre was much beyond the materialistic gains as he was influenced by the revolutionary ideas and artistic flavour.
They rented a big hall along with few rooms in the periphery of Srinagar city, The drama artists were called from Delhi and Calcutta on salary basis and the great venture was started. Many dramas were played on the stage including 'Bilwa Mangal' Raja Harish Chandra etc. on ticket basis. Late Sh. Jagar Nath Saqi , who became a veteran artist of Radio Kashmir later on, was just working as apprentice there. The venture was successful for sometime but proved to be a great financial disaster later on. The reasons thereof were that audaince was ignorant about modern theatre and poverty viz a viz hand to mouth living was rampant throughout . Drama and theatre was considered luxury and few condemned it for immorality . The founders of this venture had perhaps overlooked these factors. The venture started incurring losses and how far the promotors could sustain losses. The venture was closed and promoters incurred huge losses. These happenings made my grand father much desperate and distraught. It was only after few years after this incident , he died very young at the age of thirty nine only in year nineteen thirty two.
To those who tried failed and died, I give my great honour , glory and tears.
Sunday, 26 March 2017
My father while serving as a country Doctor had various experiences in remote areas of Kashmir and that too a very long ago when specialisation in the field was unknown in city Hospitals also. Doctor with whatever little knowledge had to be ready to deal with any exigency which ever may arise in the area. Those days pathological and diagnostic tests were not available and even if available in a rudimentary form and were sparsely in vouge even in city Hospitals . The disease had to be diagnosed on its symptoms only . The Doctor had to rack his brains and use his intelligence in order to track the disease . This exercise however used to sharpen the faculties of Doctor towards better diagnosis. The only silver lining in this occupation was that it was purely professional and was not commercial like these days. The Doctor would get satisfaction from his profession by correct diagnosis and treatment of the patient rather than deriving pecuniary benefits out of it. Moreover, Doctor had to be all-rounder those days. He had to be a physician, surgeon, Gynocologist, child specialist and bone specialist all in one as he had to deal any type of patient any time.
Once a gujjar woman bleeding profusely from her head was brought in to the Hospital by few persons. When my father with the help of his attendant looked into the wound, the case appeared prima facie hopeless. The sclap and skull bone were broken into two pieces and brain was protruding out of it . The two hair plaits of woman had spread apart making a way for internal mass . It later on transpired that woman in question had gone for collecting fuel wood from Jungle and some male gujjar had caught hold of her to satisfy his biological need. The woman had managed to frisk away from his grip and ran away. But the Gujjar had chased her frantically and in a fit of rage hurled his axe on her sclap and left her wounded and bleeding. Then few good persons after hearing her frantic calls had brought her to hospital.
My father and whatever little staff available with him had no other option but to attend the exigency. They simply tried to stuff the portion of brain hanging outside back into her head after cutting some mass of flesh. Then they manually arranged to join the two pieces of her skull bone, which were spread apart. After few stitches on his sclap she was discharged as there was no indoor facility available in the Hospital. After few days she recovered to the surprise of one and all. Mostly villagers bitten by bears or leapords in the jungle were usual cases attended by my father in the Hospital. Whole of the village would assemble outside the Hospital gates , whenever there was such type of operation going on inside.
After duty hours at the Hospital , my father would attend patients who were bed ridden in far flung areas on horseback or Tonga as per schedule. This was also a part of the duty of my father as no other Doctor was available in the whole area. My father never charged anyone for extra services provided by him as the patients were mostly poor peasants living around. The medicine was also available to them free of cost from Govt. Hospital.
One day my father received a call to attend an emergency case in another village about 5 Kms away from the village where Hospital was located. In the mean time a person was stabbed by another in the abdomen and victim was brought to Hospital for treatment. As my father had already left for another village, assistant present in the Hospital attended to the patient and after stitching his wound discharged him. But patient died in the way while going to his home.
Then after apprehending the culprit by police a murder case was lodged against him in the District court. After many hearings which were attended by my father and his colleagues also, the judge gave decision in favour of culprit by giving benefit of doubt to him. The Judge opined that victim was treated at the Hospital by an attendant only as House Doctor was absent from duty. Had the victim been attended by a qualified Doctor, he might have survived and therefore culprit can not be punished for murder charges. The culprit was however, charged for attempt to murder only, which subsequently lessened the punishment of culprit substantially. Moreover, Doctor was held responsible for neglect of duty despite of his pleadings that he was liable to attend the patients of surrounding area also. Taking cognizance of the circumstances on account of exigency of service which kept my father out of Hospital at the material time and viewing the case leniently, increment of my father was stopped for two years only.