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Goddess for Hindus and Mai for Muslims… Who are these protectors of Adi Shankaracharya’s throne in PoK

Islamabad: Legend has it that the Digvijaya or Darshan Yatra of Adi Guru Shankaracharya culminated in ancient Kashmir. A temple and university by the name of Sharda Peeth were established at that place. Today the remains of this Peeth are present in the Neelum Valley of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. This place is hardly 20 km from Keran village of Kupwara on the Indian side of the Line of Control. Presently only a snow-covered entrance and a grand arch remain of this Peeth. But the multi-faceted legacy of this Peeth continues to flourish even today. The Muslim community of Sharda village has taken initiative for its conservation and restoration. He believes away from politics and religion that these ruins should be protected and well taken care of.

Sharda is Goddess for Hindus and Mai for Muslims
Khwaja Abdul Ghani, a local author and school headmaster from the village who wrote a book on Sharda, said that for Hindus, it is Sharda Devi and for Muslims, Sharda Mai. In this area we treat the temple with utmost reverence and purity. Historical records show that Sharada Peeth was an Indian pilgrimage site and a major center of learning in the 8th century. It is believed to be the place where Adi Shankaracharya established the Sarvajna Peeth after intense debate with Buddhist and Jain monks. Eminent scholars and experts have also confirmed the antiquity and superiority of this Peeth. He has also supported the demand to give protected status to this bench.

Detailed mention of Sharda Peeth in old texts
Talking to our partner publication The Times of India, Sonalika Kaul, Associate Professor of the Center for Historical Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, said that the centrality of this Chair as a place of learning is part of the larger story of the deeply intertwined history of Kashmir and the rest of India. Is part of. He told that the mention of this Peeth is found in the 7th century text Nilainata Purana. It is also mentioned in the 12th century Rajatarangini of Kalhana, which is considered to be the first chronicle of Kashmir. It states that this Peeth was a Hindu pilgrimage site of the subcontinent till the 8th century.

This Peeth is also described in the biography of Shadi Shankaracharya.
Sonalika Kaul, author of The Making of Early Kashmir: Landscape and Identity in Rajatarangini, has described this bench as the last frontier of education and scholarship. He said that the famous visit of Adi Shankaracharya to Kashmir in the 8th century and his establishment of the Sarvajna Peeth are prime examples and a 13th century text Madhviya Shankara Digvijayam also mentions this peeth.

PoK expert said – this is the confluence of all religions
Rukhsana Khan of Muzaffarabad University in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir says that this bench is more than a Hindu temple. It was a crossroads of civilizations, which attracted scholars of different religions, pilgrims and monks. It left its mark in the form of inscriptions in the Neelam valley or the valley of Kishanganga. Rukhsana Khan is the head of the Sharda Center of Learning, Orcology and Cultural Heritage Department at Muzaffarabad University. He said that the evidence of this civilization is the Sharada temple, which is similar to the Martanda temple (near Anant Nag on the Indian side) built by Lali Taditya in the 7th century.

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