A discussion with Dr. Subhash Kak and Shri Virendra Qazi
London, UK – Presented by the Indic Academy, the University of Traditional Knowledge and a Not for Profit organization, and hosted by writer, political commentator and columnist Ms. Sunanda Vashisht, this fascinating discussion centered around the role Kashmir played in shaping Indic civilization through its culture and spirituality. The discussion took place with internationally renowned intellectuals Professor Subhash Kak and Shri Virendra Qazi both of which are heavyweights within the world of Indian philosophy and culture.
Professor Subhash Kak is an Indian American specialist in computer science, recognized as one of the pioneers of quantum computing and having undertaken significant research within cryptography and artificial neural networks, he is the inventor of a family of instantaneously trained neural networks used in a variety of artificial intelligence applications. He has written 20 books some of which have been translated into six languages including French, German and Korean.
Virendra Qazi has an unparalleled in-depth knowledge of Kashmiri culture and spirituality, presenting classical / traditional wisdom and the practice of Kashmir Shaivism. His primary passion was mystic Shaive Yogini Lalleshwari (Lalla), and today, Virendra Qazi travels and guides seekers worldwide.
At this time in history all eyes are on the political situation in Kashmir. A subject of intense controversy and conflict throughout the centuries, Kashmir today is a battlefield, and a political minefield. There are however other aspects to this incredible place, and it was this discussion which proved that there is more to Kashmir than meets the eye.
Starting the discussion with the question of where does history begin in Kashmir, Professor Kak spoke about the different ways of looking at this question including textual and archeological contexts. When the Greeks visited India as far back as 6676 B.C. they documented that Indians began to write about history at around this time. In addition, the interaction between Kashmiri scholars and their journeys to Kotan led to Chinese script taking the form it does today, assuming features similar to Kashmiri script. It was also 1300 – 1400 years ago when through grammar, yoga sutras, music, literature, and aesthetics such as sculpture and painting, Kashmir was the primary instrument in the creation of classical Indian civilization – the pinnacle of the Philosophy of Consciousness and influencing some of the leading minds in the world today including those in computer science. Indeed, some of the most subtle questions of universal philosophy were a part of Kashmiri discussions in ancient times with both men and women taking part in these discourses. Scholars of art suggested that much of Oriental art took place in Kashmiri art and Kashmiri philosophy was the originator of Zen in Japan.
The question was then posed to Virendra Qazi of what is the school of thought and what emerged from Kashmir as a continuous stream of realization? He replied with the explanation: Lord Shiva says whenever humans are in trouble I take on the human form. When the Great Masters went into hiding Shiva wanted to enlighten the world but could not find a worthy disciple so created the Sutras. Kashmiri Shaivism focuses on teaching realization based on Divine Grace. It is universal, anyone can adopt it and it has spread worldwide including Indonesia and the Far East, and has become a significant influence on Buddhism.
The next question asked the panel how could the history of Kashmir be shared with present day Pakistan Muslims?
Professor Kak responded saying the decentralized technology of the intellect makes it possible to present true narratives to people. Every human wants to know the truth and when presented in a non-threatening way people will accept and be inspired by it. Kashmir was not always seized in darkness. Every sentient being wants beauty, so we have to keep on trying. Artificial Intelligence and the coronavirus will connect people all over the world. Sadly Kashmir became a pawn for Pakistan to destabilize India. Kashmir was the safest place but now things have changed. Outside forces have now destabilized Kashmir especially in the 1980s and 90s. Disruptive forces may yet turn the clock backwards though.
India America Today asked the question: If Kashmir is the Crown of India, what is the Jewel within that Crown?
Professor Kak replied with this eloquent response talking about the fact that the ‘Jewel’ is the aesthetic eye; the ability to balance opposites. It is not cleverness but the ability to communicate the transcendent. If a resonance is communicated and you can get the viewer to connect with that then that is when the aesthetic eye is realized.
Virendra Qazi and Sunanda Vashisht were both in agreement when they replied with one simple name: Abhinavagupta – the philosopher and mystic.
In summary of this fascinating discussion we realize that there was a time in history when there was no fighting in Kashmir. History in Kashmir does not begin in 1947 and there is more to this mystical place than AK47s, the location for old Hindi movies and the home of Pashmina shawls.
At its heart Kashmir has hidden many betrayals and secrets and it was and will always be a place of mystery and a piece of civilization that must be guarded. It is also, however, the place of sacred wisdom and may we never forget that it is the cradle of both Indian and world civilization.