HIRA LAL KAK
An Interesting tradition is passed down among the Kashmir people regarding their ancestry from the Lost Tribes of Israel.lost tribe took refuge in Kashmir This tradition is supported by extensive literature written by both the people of Kashmir and other scholars. In Kashmir, various places are called with Israeli names, like Har Nevo, Beit Peor, Pisga, Heshubon. These are all the names in the land of the Ten Tribes of Israel. The same thing is true in the names of people, male names, female names, and names of village. The people in Kashmir perform a feast called Pasca in Spring, when they adjust the difference of days between the lunar calendar and solar calendar and the way of this adjustment is the same as Jewish. Several books are published on this. The Urdu language which is used in Kashmir includes many words of Hebrew. The history of the Kashmiris is shrouded in mystery as is the history of other people in that region. Most Kashmir researchers are of the opinion that many inhabitants of Kashmir are descendants of the Lost Tribes who were exiled in 722 BCE. They wandered along the Silk Road into the countries of the East, Persia and Afghanistan until they reached the Kashmir valley and settled there. Others say the wanderings began approximately 300 years later. The wanderers settled in Kashmir, kept their traditions until they were forced to convert to Islam when the spread of Islam reached the valley. The priest Kitro in his book, the General History of the Mughal Empire, said that the Kashmir people are the descendants of the Israelites. The traveling Arab historian El Bironi in the 12th century wrote, “In the past, permission to enter Kashmir was given only to Jews.” The priest Monstrat said that in the time of Vasco da Gama in the 15th century, “all the inhabitants of this area who have been living here since ancient times can trace their ancestry, according to their race and customs, to the ancient Israelites. Their features, their general physical appearance, their clothing, their ways of conducting business, all show that they are similar to the ancient Israelites.” Names like Israelites in Kashmir Recently Mr. Ikbal Chapri, the owner of a houseboat called Haifa (the same name as a big city in Israel) in Srinagar, Kashmir, has written about this topic in the local newspapers. His article was about the names of the tribes and places of Kashmir which are exactly Hebrew. I have a copy of two pages of the list. For example, one of the tribes of Kashmir is called Asheriya which is Asher, the tribe of Dand is Dan, Gadha is Gad, Lavi is Levi. The Tribe of Shaul is the Hebrew name of King Saul. Musa is Moses, Suliamanish is Solomon. And you also have the tribe of Israel, the tribe of Abri which is the tribe of Hebrew, and the tribe of Kahana which is the word for Jewish priest. There are also 50-75 names of places in Kashmir which are in fact the Hebrew names that ancient Israelites were very familiar with. There is a place called Samaryah which is Samaria. Mamre is Mamre, Pishgah is Pisgah, Nabudaal is Mt. Nevo, Bushan is Bashan, Gilgit is Gilgal, Heshba is Heshbon, Amunah is Amon, Gochan is Goshen, Median-pura is Midian, and Guzana is Gozan which is a place name in Assyria and the very place where the Ten Tribes of Israel were deported. The name Israel is very common among them as it is among the Pathans, and this name is never used among the Muslims. They also light a candle for the Sabbath, have sidelocks, beards, and emblem or design of the Shield of David. In an area which is on the border of Pakistan, called Yusmarg (Handwara), there lives a group which to this very day calls itself B’nei Israel meaning children of Israel. Many of the inhabitants of Kashmir say that this is the ancient name of all the people of Kashmir. In Kashmir there is a strange tradition of a small community next to the Wallar Link who point out the grave of Moses. There is yet another tradition in connection with King Solomon according to which even King Solomon reached the Kashmir Valley and through his wisdom aided the people of Kashmir by successfully regulating the Jalum river. This tradition is also connected to a place called Solomon’s throne which is situated above the capital of Kashmir, Srinagar. Isn’t it strange and fascinating that there are historical and even folkloristic tales of ancient Israeli heroes in these strange and exotic places? These also resemble legends in Japan. There is the grave of Moses in Mt. Houdatsu, Ishikawa prefecture, and a legend says that many secret treasures of Solomon are kept in Mt. Tsurugi in Shikoku, Japan. The two primary historians of Kashmir, Mulla Nadiri, who wrote The History of Kashmir and Mulla Ahmad who wrote Events of Kashmir have established without a trace of doubt that the origins of the Kashmiri people are to be found in the people of Israel. Source:http://www.moshiach.com/tribes/ns/4.html Kashmir, a valley surrounded by high mountains and rich of awesome sightseeing, is considered one of the most beautiful places in the world. This country is inhabited by different ethnic groups: Kashmiris, Gujjars, Bakarwals, Dards, Ladakhis, Dogras, Hanjis, etc. The Kashmiris are known to be immigrated in the valley from the west in different periods, showing evidence of having been in contact also with the Greek culture. In general, they are different from the other peoples of India, having clearer complexions and remarkable intellectual qualities, as well as efficiency in business. Kashmiris traditionally trace their ancestry from the so-called “Lost Tribes” of Israel. This tradition is supported by extensive literature written by both the people of Kashmir and other scholars. The main elements that support the hypothesis that Kashmiris are descendants of Israelites are: 1) cultural features and traditions; 2) geographical names; 3) historical records. 1) Cultural features and traditions: Even though most Kashmiris are Muslims, they feel a particular attraction and sympathy towards Jews and the Israeli nation, of whom they claim to be descendants. Indeed, the name Israel – never used by Muslims – is very common among them. They have the “Magen David” as their emblem, and men usually have Jewish-style beard and side-locks. Kashmiris light a candle for the Shabbath, and celebrate in Spring a festival that they call Paskha; in this period they adjust their lunar calendar with the solar year, and the way they do it is similar to the Jewish system. Even their language has many Hebrew words. Kashmiris’ character, style of clothing, traditions and habits resemble those of Israelis. They do not use animal fat but vegetable oil in their food. The head cover of the old Kashmiri women is quite like the one for Israeli women. Kashmiri girls dance in formations in a similar fashion like the Israeli girls. The Kashmiri women, following the delivery of a child are considered impure for forty days, like the Israeli women (the same applies to Roma/Gypsy women). The majority of the old graves in Kashmir are aligned in east-west direction like the Jewish graves, whereas the Moslem graves are in the north-south direction. There is a group of Kashmiri people that still today call themselves “B’ney Yisrael”, meaning “Children of Israel” (different from the B’ney Yisrael of India, now fully recognized by the State of Israel as Jewish). They assert that this is the original name of all the people of Kashmir in ancient times. Indeed, the names of the Kashmiri tribes are amazingly very similar to the Tribes of Israel, and according to these names it is likely that they reached the Valley of Kashmir in different periods: one is called the Tribe of Israel, another is Abri [meaning “Hebrew”], and the tribe of Kahana [like the Hebrew word for priest], as well as the Tribes of Musa (Mosheh), Shaul, and Shulaymanish (Shlomoh) seem to indicate a migration before the Kingdom was divided. Other names correspond to single Israelite Tribes, like Gadha as Gad, Asheriya as Asher, Dand as Dan, and even Lavi as Levi. There are legends and tales that link the Kashmir Valley to different events actually happened in the Land of Israel, or about Jewish historical people. For instance, a legendary site allegedly being the grave of Mosheh, and another claimed to be Yeshua’s grave, that they say, reached Kashmir in his search for the “Lost Tribes of Israel” – it is very probable that one of his followers, perhaps Toma, who is known to have reached India, has been the one who actually did so. Another tradition says that King Shlomoh visited Kashmir and after his wise counsel the people achieved in successfully regulating the Jalum river. There is a place called Solomon’s Throne situated above Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir. Even though his personal visit to the country should be considered a myth, it is quite likely that King Shlomoh had any contact with the people of Kashmir, since he had a fluent commercial activity in India. 2) Geographical names: more than three-hundred places in Kashmir have names that sound very familiar to ancient Israelites, mainly to the inhabitants of the Northern Kingdom. Some of these places are Mamre, Gilgit (Gilgal), Nabudaal (Nevo), Pishgah (Pisgah), Heshba (Heshbon), Bushan (Bashan), Medianpura (Midyan), Amunah (Amon), Goshan (Goshen, the region in Egypt where Israelites sojourned), Guzana (Gozan, that in Assyrian language is Guzana, one of the places where the Northern Tribes were sent in exile), and there is even Samaryah. Besides toponyms, also many names of people, male and female, are typically Hebrew. 3) Historical records: The history of the Kashmiris is shrouded in mystery. After accurate research, most scholars support the hypothesis that a consistent part of the Kashmiris are descendants of the Israelite Tribes that were exiled in Assyria in 3039 (722 b.c.e.). According to an Apocryphon ascribed to Ezra and other ancient records, many of these Israelites decided to emigrate into a distant country in the east. Along their route, many of them reached the Kashmir Valley and settled there. Other historians’ records: Kitro, in his book “General History of the Mughal Empire”, said that the Kashmir people are the descendants of the Israelites. The travelling Arab historian El Bironi (12th century c.e.) wrote, “In the past, permission to enter Kashmir was given only to Jews”. Another witness of the 15th century c.e. wrote, “all the inhabitants of this area who have been living here since ancient times can trace their ancestry, according to their race and customs, to the ancient Israelites. Their features, their general physical appearance, their clothing, their ways of conducting business, all show that they are similar to the ancient Israelites”. The two outstanding historians of Kashmir, Mullah Nadiri, who wrote “The History of Kashmir”, and Mullah Ahmad, who wrote “Events of Kashmir”, have established without a trace of doubt that the origins of the Kashmiri people are to be found in the Israelites. Conclusion: According to the above mentioned evidences, it is reasonable to credit the hypothesis that the Kashmiris are among the descendants of the ancient Israelites, though it is not possible to establish with certainty when did they reach the Kashmir Valley and settled there. The Greek influence that appears evident in some aspects suggest that they have migrated with Alexander’s army in his campaign to the conquest of India and remained there. Among the peoples settled in Kashmir there are also the Gujjars. Even though they may not be directly related to the ancient Israelites, their ethnicity is interesting and connects them with the peoples that have indeed been closely linked to the Jews. The early history of Gujjars is obscure, and it was suggested that they may have reached India from Georgia in Caucasus (Gurjistan, in Persian). Place names like Gujar, Juzrs (Gurjara), Gujrabad, Gujru, Gujristan, Gujrabas, Gujdar-Kotta, Gujar-Garh, Gujarkhan, Gujranwala, etc. and other evidences show that they indeed travelled through Central Asia, likely from Mesopotamia, crossed the Khyber Pass reaching Rajasthan, and settled in Gujrat. In a later period, a consistent group of them moved northwards through Pundjab and settled in the Kashmir Valley. The arrival of Gujjars in Jammu and Kashmir is attributed to the outbreak of devastating droughts in Rajputana, Gujarat and Kathiawar, and there are archaeological evidences to prove this hypothesis. The Gujri language is now recognized to be of Rajasthani origin, and as it is not written, they have not recorded history but oral traditions. Some scholars are of the opinion that the Gujjars are the descendants of Kushan (Yue-zhi) tribes; the most reliable sources consider them to be a branch of the Khazars that migrated to India. According to linguistic rules, the Indo-Aryan terms “Gujjar” and “Kushan” are derived from the original name “Khazar” through the standard rules of phonetic change: Indo-Aryan languages, lacking the “kh” and the “z” phonemes, transcribe them respectively as “g” and “j”. Therefore, their alleged “Georgian” origin is in some way true, since the Khazars’ early homeland was in the Caucasus. Thus, it is interesting the fact that a people of likely Israelite origin, the Kashmiris, is sharing the same land with a Khazar tribe. Joi Ram Joo and Madav Joo.