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Kashmiriyat is the ethno-national and social consciousness and cultural values of the Kashmiri people. The term Kashmiriat has come to signify a centuries-old indigenous secularism of Kashmir.[1] Emerging around the 16th century, it is characterised by religious and cultural harmony, patriotism and pride for their mountainous homeland of Kashmir.[citation needed] In recent 2007 poll conducted by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi, 84 percent of people in Srinagar want to see the return of Kashmiri Pandits.[2] A MORI survey of popular opinion in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, including the Kashmir Valley, found 92% respondents opposed to the state being divided on the basis of religion or ethnicity.[3][4] However, scholar Christopher Snedden states that the concept of Kashmiriyat has been 'romanticised' and Kashmiriyat could not prevent antipathy and rivalry between the Kashmiri Pandits and the Kashmiri Muslims.[5]


The Kashmir region enjoys significant ethnic, cultural and religious diversity. The region has historically been an important centre for Hinduism and Buddhism. Islam was introduced in the medieval centuries, and Sikhism also spread to the region under the rule of the Sikh Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries. Kashmir has a significant place in the mythology and history of all four religions. The region derives its name from the Kashmiri Pandit ancestor, named Rishi Kashyapa and is believed to have been the abode of the celestial beings.[6] The region is home to many legendary Hindu and Buddhist monuments and institutions. The Hazratbal shrine houses a relic that is believed to be the hair of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. In his journeys seeking religious enlightenment, Guru Nanak travelled to Kashmir. Kashmiris believe that the ideas of Kashmiriyat the rule of Sultan Zain ul Abedin, who gave equal protection, importance and patronage to Kashmir's different religious communities.[6]


Kashmir's existence is characterised by its insular Himalayan geography, harsh winter climate and isolation in economic and political terms. The region has also seen political turmoil and foreign invasions. Kashmiriat is believed to be an expression of solidarity, resilience and patriotism regardless of religious differences.[6] It is believed to embody an ethos of harmony and a determination of survival of the people and their heritage. To many Kashmiris, Kashmiriat demanded religious and social harmony and brotherhood. It has been strongly influenced by Kashmir Shaivism, Buddhism and Sufism, carrying a long-standing conviction that any and every religion will lead to the same divine goal.[6]

Kashmir was also influenced by the Mughal emperor Akbar's genesis of a syncretic philosophy of Din-i-Illahi, which emphasized the blending of Hindu and Muslim ideals and values. Works in the Kashmiri language, art, culture and literature strongly expound and emphasize Kashmiriat as a way of life.[7] However, the impact and importance of Kashmiriat has been concentrated in the Kashmir Valley only, which is the real historical Kashmir. The farther regions of Gilgit, Baltistan, Jammu and Ladakh have not been influenced by this philosophy, as these regions are not Kashmiri in terms of culture, language or ethnicity.

Modern challenges[edit]

The culture and ethos of Kashmiriat was greatly eroded at the onset of the Kashmir conflict, when the region was claimed by Pakistan and India and its territory divided during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947. In the political debate on sovereignty over Kashmir, many interpret Kashmiriat as nationalism and an expression for political independence from both Pakistan and India. The onset of militancy in Kashmir from 1989 has led to the exodus of almost all Hindus from Kashmir and violent attacks against the remaining communities of Hindus and Sikhs, further eroding the fabric of Kashmiriat.[6] Amidst the wider dispute between India and Pakistan. Conscious efforts to revive Kashmiriat have been made by various communities of Muslims and Hindus through united opposition to violence in the state.[8] Efforts to promote Kashmiriat through cultural activities, social programmes and literature have increased throughout Jammu and Kashmir and amongst expatriate Kashmiri communities.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Term Kashmiriat". Economic & Political Weekly. 20 April 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  2. ^ 87 pct in Kashmir Valley want independence - poll, Reuters, 13 August 2007
  3. ^ Kashmiris reject war in favour of democracy, Frontline, 8 June 2002.
  4. ^ MORI Survey in Jammu and Kashmir, South Asia Terrorism Portal, 2001.
  5. ^ Snedden, Christopher (2015). Understanding Kashmir and Kashmiris. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9781849046220.
  6. ^ a b c d e Nayak, Meena Arora (22 September 2006). "Kashmiriyat: An embracing spirit languishes like the dying chinar tree". World View Magazine. Archived from the original on 18 November 2004.
  7. ^ Razdan, P. N. (22 September 2006). "Kashmiriat and literature". Retrieved 22 September 2006.
  8. ^ "Spirit of Kashmiriat". Deccan Herald. 21 July 2005. Archived from the original on 12 March 2007. Retrieved 22 September 2006.

Further reading[edit]

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