Tuesday, Aug 09, 2022

A Pandit Must Know His Meat

The Kashmiri Pandit will eat his rogan josh as if his life depended on it

Photographs: Getty Images

Nilmat Purana is an extensive document believed to have been written between the 6th and 8th centuries C.E. It is also widely called the Kasmira Mahatmya, and describes the socio-religious, cultural lives of people in that century. Kalhana, who wrote Rajtarangini, has quoted Nilmat Purana to be his earliest source while writing the legendary script. Nilmat Purana is particularly significant to Kashmiri Pandits as it is one of the earliest documents that mentions the regular meat-eating ways of Pandits in that era. Kashmiri Pandits have largely been Shaivites following the Trika philosophy, which in essence is a non-dualistic practice of Shiv-Shakti tantra—a belief that makes Shiva the entirety of the universe. Kashmiri Shaivism or Trika philosophy is markedly contrarian to Shaiva Siddhanta or Tantric Shaivism, which is considered normative Shaivite practice across the length and breadth of India. Kashmiri Pandits have often explained their love for meat originating in this unique practice of Shaivism which existed in Kashmir for centuries. In my family, no one had read the Nilmat Purana or knew much about the Trika philosophy but almost everyone knew their meat.

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