Posts Tagged ‘Tukht-e-Suleman’

Tukht-e-Suleman (Throne of Solomon) Inscriptions : Muzaffar Ahmad

June 1, 2021

Muzaffar Ahmad

UPLOADED BYMuzaffar Ahmad

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At this time a youth named Yuzasp has arrived from Egypt and claims sonship of  a prophet. Year fifty four [of Kashmiri Calender] 

http://www.academia.edu/12857474/A_Note_on_Two_Erased_Persian_Inscriptions_on_Takht-e-Suleiman_Hill_Srinagar

A Note on Two Erased Persian Inscriptions on Takht-e-Suleiman Hill  Srinagar  

(Muzaffar Ahmad 2015) 

Two erased inscriptions had been recorded by historians, archaeologists and travelers on  the walls flanking the flight of eighteen steps leading to the main shrine of Takht-e Suleiman in Srinagar. They were reported to be erased by Sikh or Dogra soldiers as  early as 1840.This paper is an effort to reconstruct their text from literary sources. 

 Sandhimana Parvata or Takht-e-Suleiman hill in Srinagar (Lawrence 1895:297) is one of the most important archaeological sites in Kashmir. It is a sacred place of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists (Lawrence 1895: 297-8) and probably of Central  Asian Jews in past (Vigne 1842: I-395). Local traditions hold that the Temple built  on its summit was spared from demolishment by Sultan Sikandar as he was told that Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna offered his prayers there (Hasan 1931:395-6).  There is still a small but elegant structure near the temple which is considered a  mosque by many (Fauq 1920:126). It was assumed by some that grave of  sandhimana, Samdhimati or Suleiman is on the summit of this hill. An unrecorded  excavation on the summit in 1915 brought to light a cenotaph near the mosque and  the temple (Fauq 1920: 126-7, Ahmad 2015). 

 Jyeshtheshvara (Kalhana 1900:51) or modern Śaṅkarācārya temple on the  summit of this hill is of great antiquity. Sir Alexander Cunningham recorded an inscription on the right hand flank wall of the stairs leading to the temple. It was a  slab ten inches square dated to 1069 A.H./1659 CE. He copied it in 1839 but when  he revisited Srinagar in 1841 it was reportedly erased by Dogra soldiers. He was  hardly able to re-trace the name of Takht-e-Suliman. Cunningham never published  the text of this inscription for some unknown reason and did not provide any  details why he dated it to 1069 A.H. (Cunningham 1848:10-11) Major Cole in his  Illustrations of the ancient buildings of Kashmir (Cole1869, Kak 1933:75)  mentions two erased Persian inscriptions on the flank walls of stairs leading to  octagonal platform and the temple on it. Ram Chandar Kak notes that two side 

walls of the flight of steps1leading to the shrine once bore two Persian inscriptions: 

1 Excellent details of stairs are found in Ince’s Kashmir Handbook (Calcutta 1867.p.85.) I am  grateful to Dr. Tahira Saeed for making available to me photographs of a rare copy in Colombia 

The temple is built on a high octagonal plinth approached by a long  flight of steps enclosed by two side-walls which originally bore two  Persian inscriptions. One of these was dated A.H. 1069 =A.D. 1659.  Both inscriptions disappeared sometime in the last few decades (Kak  1933:74). 

 He also mentions a date of year 1069 A.H. engraved on staircase (Kak  1933:75). Here he appears to be in some confusion about the original location of  the inscription. It looks as if he is trying to harmonize the accounts given by Cole  and Cunningham. Cunningham’s account either confirms the defacement of the  inscription of the left flank wall prior to the one on right or shows that he failed to  notice or ignored the left flank wall inscription. Whatever was the case there is no  doubt that there were inscriptions on both flank walls as writer of Wanchoo Folio,  Ghulam Hasan Khuihami, Major Cole and Kak all confirms their presence. 

Recovery of erased texts from historical sources 

1. Inscription on northern flank wall 

 Around 1880, Ghulam Hasan Khuihami, the renowned historian of Kashmir  recorded a mutilated inscription on the northern side wall of the stairs. In his Tarikh-e-Kashmir he holds Dogra soldiers and Sikhs responsible for erasing it and  provides the following text on the authority of his father Abd-ur-Rasheed Shiva who saw the inscription written in Khat-i- Thulth in his youth: 

At this time a youth named Yuzasp has arrived from Egypt and claims sonship of  a prophet 

At another place he adds “year 54 of the Kashmiri Calendar” at the end. The  wording “of the Kashmiri Calendar” was not part of the original text and it should  be taken as an interpretation of the text by Hasan. 

University library. Information provided by D.F. Newall in JASB 35(1).1867.pp.120-21 is also  very useful.

At this time a youth named Yuzasp has arrived from Egypt and claims sonship of  a prophet. Year fifty four [of Kashmiri Calender] 

The worn out Wanchoo Folio from an unknown history of Kashmir which survived  only in a published photograph seems to be the oldest source of the text of these two inscriptions (Khwaja 1952). The one on northern wall is: 

[…………] fifty four 

Yuz Asaf proclaimed Prophethood.  

2. Inscription on southern flank wall 

 There is only a single evidence of the text of the inscription on the southern  flank wall and it comes from Wanchoo Folio: 

He is Yasu the prophet of Bani Israel 

Below is a comparison of the texts from both sources.

Discussion 

 There is little doubt that the text of these inscriptions as quoted in Wanchoo  Folio and in an altered form in Tarikh-e-Kashmir by Hasan was well known before  18th century in Kashmir. Kalhana in his 12th century Rajatarangini depending on  Chavillkara’s history narrates that Gopadityia I repaired the temple of  Jeysthesvara on Gopadari, the ancient name of Takh-e-Suleiman hill (Kalhana 1900:50-51). Kalhana presents Samdhimati (Suleiman) and his guru Isa or Isana  Rena (Isa or Isana the Helper) as contemporaries of Gopadytia II (Kalhana 

1900:66-69, Shahabadi 1984:71-2), the Gopananda of local Kashmiri traditions  and Persian historical sources. This shows his confusion about the reigns of great  grandfather and the great grandson. The still extant document of a 1766 CE decree  by Mufti Muhammad Fazil Qazi of Srinagar affirms the common knowledge of  people of Srinagar that Yuzasaf was a prophet in the time of Raja Gopanand (Gopadytia) who built the temple on Takht (Mufti 1936: 56-58, 77).2 H.H. Wilson  quotes from Gohar-e- Alam Tuhfa-e-Shahi (a history of Kashmir written by Badie 

ul-Zaman before 1786 CE) that Suleiman was a Christian apostle (Wilson 1825:  30). The original wording in the Calcutta Manuscript of the History of Badie-ul Zaman is: 

The assertion of the people of knowledge is that one of the disciples  [of Jesus] (حواریون از یکے (is buried there. From whose tomb emanates  divine grace and blessing.3 

At the present state of research we can only reconstruct the text of these two erased inscriptions reported by well-known archaeologists of 19th and 20th century from  two textual sources of the history of Kashmir. Texts provided by Wanchoo Folio  are more reliable in comparison with Tarikh-e-Hasan as the document is of considerable antiquity but we have to wait for the discovery of the lost manuscript 

2Two other sources are added by Dr. Fida Husnain. One is a so-called Muhammadi press edition  of Haidar Malik’s Tarihkh-i-Kashmir which contains the same wording as in Wanchoo folio.  This I cannot confirm. The second is Wajeez-u-Tawarikh by Ghulam Nabi Khaniyari. It has the  sentence: Yuz Asaf proclaimed prophethood. Year 54. Khwaja Nazir writes that a manuscript of  the history of Haidar Malik mentions all four inscriptions without quoting them on folios 11 and  12 while Khwaja Hasan Malik mentioned the first and the last sentence in his history. Again I  cannot confirm it. 

3 Ms.189.Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal. Folio 75b.

to say something with surety. An on spot examination of the present state of slabs  (if they are not removed) could be helpful to recommend or not the use of X-ray  fluorescence (XRF) imaging technique. 

 To judge the text of these inscriptions in historical or religious context is beyond the scope of this paper. However two points are important to note. 

1. The script of inscriptions on a pillar in sanctum (Picture 1) combined with some  others (Pictures 2 and 3) makes it clear that the erased inscriptions on the flank  walls were most probably depicted in a peculiar style of calligraphy common in  Shahmiri period before the introduction of Nastaleeq by Mughals. These  inscriptions were most probably Persian translations from original Sanskrit  inscriptions and were made when the temple was repaired in Early Shahmiri  period. Bilingual Sanskrit-Persian inscriptions of Shahmiri period are still found  in Kashmir (Picture3). 

2. There is some evidence that the two inscriptions on the flank walls were erased somewhere between 1833 and 1841 CE. by Sikhs on the incitement of a fanatic  Christian preacher Joseph wolff (1795-1862). He was on his way to India when  he informed Mohan Lal on 8th of May 1832 in Kabul that when he was in  Bukhara he talked to Jesus in a vision in which Jesus told him that Srinagar will  be the future Jerusalem of the world (Mohan Lal 1846:72-73). He informed Sir  Alexander Burnes (1805 -1841) of this vision and started talking about it in  public in Kabul. On 16th of May 1832 he met Mullah Abdul Qadir from 

Kashmir who told him that “In the time of Jesus, the city was destroyed, and  Parwarzeen (Pravrasena) built the present Cashmere (Srinagar)” (Wolff  1832:336). In 1833 he wrote to the editor of a newspaper in Calcutta that he  will stay in Kashmir for 12 days and will enquire from Muslim Mullahs about  Jesus (Wolff 1833:15). He reached Kashmir when Ranjit Singh’s son Sher  Singh was the governor. He met him and talked with him about his vision.  During his stay in Srinagar he made investigations about Jesus from Muslims and Buddhists4(Wolff 1861:120-21). A conversation between Vigne and Wolff  provides a proof that Wolff was informed by local people about some graves of  his interest on Takht-e-Suleiman (Vigne 1842: I-395). There is some probability  

4 Bottas or Ladakhi Buddhists were living in a colony near Hari Parbat in Srinagar and they held  Pus-Pahari (Takht-e-Suleiman) in great esteem (Lawrence 1895: 297-8).

that once he found out that the text of these inscriptions was contrary to his  beliefs, he erased the inscriptions himself or used Sikh government to achieve  this task. This could be the interpretation of Hasan’s words that in Sikh period  the opponents deleted these inscriptions. 

1. The inscription on a pillar in sanctum in ancient Kashmiri calligraphic style (after Cole)

2. Oldest Quran from Kashmir written in 1237 CE with a similar calligraphic style

3. The bilingual inscription of a Shahmiri Royal grave with same calligraphic style

4. Wanchoo Folio (After Khwaja)

5. Flank walls are visible above the door leading to the shrine of Śaṅkarācārya 5 

5Courtesy: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Ancient_Shankaracharya_Temple_(Srinagar,_Jammu_and_Kashmir).jpg

6. The flank walls 6 

6Courtesy: http://ashokparimoo.blogspot.com/2014_01_01_archive.html

Bibliography

Ahmad, Muzaffar. An Unrecorded Excavation on Takht-i-Suleiman Srinagar https://www.academia.edu/12742929/An_Unrecorded_Excavation_on_Takht-i Suleiman_Srinagar.2015
Cunningham, Alexander. An Essay on the Arian Order of Architecture, as  Exhibited in the Temples of Kashmir. Calcutta. 1848.
Hasan, Pirzada Ghulam. Tarikh-i-Kashmir vol.1. Geography of Kashmir. Srinagar. 1305 A.H. 
—————————– Tarikh-i-Kashmir. MSS. (Research Library, Srinagar).
Kak, R. C. Ancient Monuments of Kashmir. London, 1933.
Khwaja, Nazir Ahmad. Jesus in Heaven on Earth. Woking.1952.
Lawrence, Walter R. a y a r . 1895.
Mohan Lal .Travels in Panjab, Afghanistan and Turkistan. London. 1846.
Mufti, Muhammad Sadiq.Tahqeeq-e-Jadid.1936.
Stein, M.A. and Kalhana. Kalhana’s rajatarangini.Westminister.1900.
The Calcutta Christian Observer. 1(7).1832.
The Calcutta Christian Observer.2. 1833. 
The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Regiter. 11. 1833
Vigne, Godfrey Thomas. Travels in Kashmir, Ladak, Iskardo, the Countries  Adjoining the Mountain-course of the Indus, and the Himalaya, North of the  Panjab : With Map Engraved by Direction of the Hon. East India Company, and  Other Illustrations. London. 1842.
Wolff, Joseph. Journals of Rev. Joseph Wolff Vol.2. London 1861,
—————– Adventures of Rev. Joseph Wolff vol. ii, p. London. 1861.

Muzaffar Ahmad

UPLOADED BYMuzaffar Ahmad

http://www.academia.edu/12857474/A_Note_on_Two_Erased_Persian_Inscriptions_on_Takht-e-Suleiman_Hill_Srinagar


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