(Salutations to you, O Sharada, O Goddess, O one who resides in Kashmir. I pray to you daily, please give me the charity of knowledge).
This is a prayer that Kashmiri Pandits say as a part of their daily worship to pay obeisance to Goddess Sharada, commonly known as Saraswati – the goddess of knowledge. However, the revered shrine of their kuldevi (principal deity) – Sharada Peeth – now lies abandoned in the valleys of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Sharada Peeth was one of the three principal shrines of the then Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), along with the Martand Sun Temple and the Amarnath Temple, before the Partition of India and Pakistan. After the 1947-48 war between the two countries over J&K, the shrine was abandoned as it fell into PoK.
The shrine, religiously and politically significant, lies close to the LoC in Sharda village atop Mount Harmukh.
While demands from Indian pilgrims to allow visits to the shrine have been made in the past, the echoes have become louder after the two bitter neighbours decided to pave way for the Kartarpur corridor leading to Gurudwara Darbaar Sahib Kartarpur in November. Former J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, too, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to consider the demands of the Kashmiri Pandits to visit Sharada Peeth.
Here are a few aspects that make the religiously significant shrine politically relevant:
1. Kashmira Puravasini: Religious and Spiritual significance
Sharada Peeth literally translates to “the seat of goddess Sharada/Saraswati.”
Considered to be religiously and spiritually significant by Hindus and Buddhists, Goddess Sharada is considered by Kashmiri Pandits as their kuldevi (principal deity). She is also referred to by many as Kashmira Puravasini (resident of Kashmir).
Scholar Ayaz Rasool Nazki, Nazki told India Today that Goddess Sharada hid the container of knowledge here during the fight between good and evil.