Myths, Miracles and Legends: an interpretation of Kashmiri Myth with special reference to western viewpoint


Nakuleswar Mukherjee

Research Scholar, Department of History, University of Kalyani, Nadia, West Bengal

*Corresponding Author Email:



The paper traces the characteristics of myth, legends and miraculous facts in Kashmir history. Myth is deeply related to cultural history of Kashmir. Since the beginning of Kashmir's history, the myth (Purakatha) has a great place. The origins of Kashmir, starting from the geographical location, the presence of public life, the construction of rivers, lakes, shrines, temples, mosques, and all matters of religious and societal transformation are closely related with myth and legends. In some cases, the myths also focus on the views of the individual or ruling classes. There are many myth, legend and miraculous facts about the Rishi and Sufi saints in Kashmir. This paper examines the theoretical concept of myth, miracle and legends which is emerged in western academics in the nineteenth and twentieth century. In this paper I shall try to analyse the truthfulness of myth, miracles and legends in Kashmir history through the theoretical concepts of world scholarship.


KEYWORDS: Concept of Myth, Myth of Kashmir, Miracles in Kashmir, Legends of Kashmir, Folklore of Kashmir.




In the nineteenth century E.B. Tylor argues that, myth is explicable in terms of animism alone. Andrew Lang and Sir James Frazer took up Tylor animism but added both magic and totemic as explanatory theories (Scarborough, 2004, p.16). According to Malinowski “In some primitive cultures mythology may be defined as the body of specific charters buttressing, validating and controlling the values, laws and ethical principles on which institutions are founded” (Malinowski, 1944, p, 160). Indeed, many different types of myths are related to the most important aspects of human life, but these are particularly related to the dominion of aggression (Lubbe, 1986).


Joseph Campbell (1993) suggested that, legendary fantasies are considered primitive ideas, although they are seen from historical-ethnic perspectives, called 'racial concepts' or' popular ideas. Lluís Duch (2002) argues Legends come to be present all the time and everywhere, it must constantly be reinterpreted in terms of new variables that emerge in the way of the person's life and community. According to Hans Blumenberg (2003) Myths is a process that enables humans to overcome the trap of anxiety and uncertain fate. The concept of myth can be explained from multiple and complementary perspectives. Indeed, the primary ideas are considered from the mythical imagination of a psychological system (Jung, 2011). Saloms Sola, explains, “The existence of a series of constants that prevail and transcend any whim makes us say that myth is a structural condition in human life. Or what is the same that all human beings are mythical by nature; and they use different myths –historical articulations–in different contexts or cultures” (Morales, 2012, p.34).



In the history of ancient and medieval Kashmir, myth, legends, miracles played a vital role. Historians will never be able to keep themselves away from it; the details of Kashmir's history are filled with myths, legends and miraculous facts. The Modern historian G.M.D. Sufi (1974), M.I. Khan (1994), N. K. Singh (2000), F.M. Hassnain (2002) Md. Ashraf Wani (2004) and many modern scholars was obligated to be used widely the legendary sources of Kashmir. But there is a question about the truth. Those historians successfully originate the historical truth from legendary sources. Prof. Manzoor Fazili a Wellknown Political Scientist of Kashmir examined the theoretical framework of world mythologies. He observed, “In Our world full of fear, loneliness and alienation, myth can console us with stories of a more heroic, more chivalrous time to sustain us. We all live in the present context also, only virtue of our myths” (Fazili, 2012, p.14). M.M. Shah examines the miracles of medieval Kashmiri Saints, Sufis and Rishis. According to him, “most of these miraculous stories happen in the psychical realm and spirituality primarily concerned with the spiritual realm…historians need not be embarrassed with hagiography or stories of miracles but they should broaden their explanatory framework in order to account for them and respectfully treat them” (Maroof, 2011) The Paper examines the western thought about myth, miracle and legends and its relation to constructing Kashmir history.



The concept of Myth was appearing about 3000 BCE. The use of the concept of myth/mythos increased when the Greek philosopher Plato idealized it in his book The Republic. Aristotle also used the word mythos. In the nineteenth century myth was understood primarily as the text. The concept of myth as delusion appears in the publication of Karl Marx. The negative attitude towards myth and rituals developed by Sigmund Freud considered them merely props for the weak (Doty, 2004, pp.105-108). Sociologist Emile Durkheim, on the other hand stressed the manner in which societies setout models of the divine that actually just reflect what is most important to them at the time (Doty, 2004, pp.105-108). According to M. I. Finley, “myth was the great teacher of Greeks in all matters of the spirit. There they learned morality and conduct; the virtues of nobility and the golden mean or the menace of hybris; and they learned about race and culture and even politics. Myth also presented concrete facts, but this fact was completely detached: They were linked neither with what went before nor with what came after” (Finley, 1961, pp.284-285).


It can be said in the global cultural context that the myth is a very ancient story of which superhuman existence is noted. In fact, the word Meth is derived from Greek myths, which means the story. According to the views of Lewis Spencer, “A myth is an account of the deeds of a god or supernatural being, usually expressed in terms of primitive thought. It is an attempt to explain the relation of man to the universe, and it has for those who recount it a predominantly religious value; or it may have arisen to explain the existence of some social organization, a custom or the peculiarities of an environment” (Spencer, 1921, pp.11-12). “Mythistory is what we actually have–a useful instrument for piloting human group in their encounters with one another and with the Natural environment” (McNeill, 1986, p.10). Myth and history is close kin inasmuch as both explain how things got to be the way they are be telling some short of story.


“Myth is not defined by the object of its message, but by the way in which it utters this message: there are formal limits to myth; there are no 'substantial' ones” (Barthes, 1991, p. 107). Traditions also perform historical and social works and they talk about the source and evolution of all kinds of society.


Ancient Greek, Roman, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Chinese, India - Myths exist in almost every country of the world. There is a scientific doubt about myth theories. The analytic method is applicable to all myths and legendary texts. Levi Strauss stress the choice of society’s involvement which is affects local social structure.


It can not be denied in any way that mythological rituals became part of the system of religion and were collected in rituals and ceremonies, including music, dance and magic. The second function of the mythological verse is to justify an existing social system and to calculate its customs and practices. One of the constant rules of mythological stories that are believed to occur between the gods and the myths reflect the events of the world. In this way, incidents of godlike events such as social change became involved in the Puranas. According to The Minneapolis Institute of Art, “Some myths, especially those from the Greco-Roman and medieval periods, also serve to illustrate moral principles, frequently through feats of heroism performed by mortals” (The Minneapolis Institute of Art, p.1). Worldwide myths inform people about the interpretation of various topics, history related information, entertainment and many other important information which help them to analyze their own work and to understand the environment around them. But Egan argues that, myth is more engaging and seductive, but makes us provincial and unable adequately to deal with change (Egan, 2017, p.7).


According to Toynbee it is a Wordsworthian intimation of immortality, a glimpse of the ultimate reality hidden behind the veil of appearance. Freud argues that, it is the projection into the outer world of our internal desires and conflicts. According to MacIver it is, among other things, the foundation on which the State is built (Monro, 1950, p.115). Obviously we cannot say without qualification that the mythology of a culture is the sum of the charters of its several institutions. For, since the charter includes both real and mythological history, the two terms cannot have the same meaning. The mythology is only part of the charter. But obviously those who believe in the myth cannot make this distinction. “The historical character of the persons celebrated in epic poetry is not in question. But their historicity does not long resist the corrosive action of mythicization. The historical event in itself, however important, does not remain in the popular memory, nor does its recollection kindle the poetic imagination save insofar as the particular historical event closely approaches a mythical model” (Eliade, 1959, p.42).


The first stage of the development of the hero is not myth. But it is the process of saving many memories of the writings of many writers of many historical events, or for two or three centuries of real personality. It is important to find out the difficulties of maintaining popular memory, personal events and real figures. Mircha Eliade argues that, “The structures by means of which it functions are different: categories instead of events, archetypes instead of historical personages. The historical personage is assimilated to his mythical model (hero, etc.), while the event is identified with the category of mythical actions (fight with a monster, enemy brothers, etc.” (Eliade,1959, p.42).


The myths of the mythology are important in all of the myths that are the creation of the earth in the later stage of the dark and strong light, and a miraculous force working in this field. “The myth relates the disappearance of the sun, or the deity of the sun, in a cave or some other enclosure and its appearance (often as Dawn) after the intervention of a group of gods (and others), creating and restoring light and prosperity of the world” (Witzel, 2012, p.139). To search about the similarity of the world’s myths Witzel explain that, “…myth are not inherently unscientific, fantastic and hence untrue fairy tales about aspect of human life and nature, nor are they internationally invented, misleading and supposedly untrue stories about topics otherwise important to us” (Witzel, 2012, p.6).


Myth is associated with social life. And through the myths, the common man tried to grab his past culture. Anthropological, socialistic, historical analysis of the myths of various countries of the world has been going on for a long time, and there are various narratives. Viggo's metaphorical theory, the nature and star-based theory of Maximular's theory of everyday behavioral behavior, Malinsk's social guidelines, Freud's repressive theories, Jung's therapeutic theory, and biological theories of Levi Strauss (Witzel, 2012, p.8). Myth is associated with social life and through the myths, the common man tried to grab his past culture. Anthropological, socialistic, historical analysis of the myths of various countries of the world has been going on for a long time, and there are various narratives.


The article titled “The Forms of Folklore: Prose Narratives” by William Bascom, published in 1965, gives a clear idea of ​​myths. Janet Bacon in 1925 distinguished between myths, legends, and folktales, saying that “Myth has an explanatory function. It explains some natural phenomenon whose causes are not obvious, or some ritual practise whose origin has been forgotten. Legend, on the other hand, is true tradition founded on fortunes of real people or on adventures at real places” (Bacon, 2002, p.13).


According to Janet Parker and Julie Stanton, “Myth is not only ancient tales of wonder and glory, but they are all around us, in the making” (Parker & Stanton, 2003, p.13). Human beings are myth-maker by nature, always curious, always psychologically living out of the patterns of myth or being lived out by them. In psychological terms, according to this theory, we are always in one mythic patter or another, and our freedom of choice as conscious human beings is the freedom to dance rather than stumble our way through the greatest story of the world- life (Parker & Stanton, 2003).



The historical backdrop of Kashmir is rich with various tales, folklore and mythology. Nilmatapurana is the main source of the myth that Kashmir is in existence. According to Nilmatapurana's explanation, the emergence of Kashmir was possible for Kashyap Muni. Rajatarangini (The Stream of Kings) for discussing the origin of the people in the valley. About the original inhabitants of the Kashmir, it is mentioned in the known literary works; Nagas were the original settlers followed by the Pisachas and then came the Manavas (Paray, 2016, p.3903) But the Archaeological excavation of De Terra and Patterson shows the scientific fact that the man lived in the valley from Paleolithic period. The creation of Kashmir was neither a mythical way and nor the creator of the valley was Kashyap Muni, Suleiman or Moses. But Nilmatapurana draw a picture of Pisacha and Nag clan in the creation stage of Kashmir where Naga clan won their dominance. The fact is related to the viewpoint of Polis anthropologist Malinowski who interested in Trobrian islanders' references to the past (Egan, 2017, p.3).


Hilal Ah. Shah explains that, “It is more or less an established fact that in the pre-historic past, geological eruption and earth quacks caused the waters of the lake to flow out of the Baramulla George leaving the Jhelum and the lakes as left over’s and the surface of the Karewas or plateaus had formed the bottom of the erstwhile lake” (Shah, 2011).


Kalhana refers a legend about the twelfth century Kashmiri King Bhiksacara. According to Rajtarangini “He says nothing that is not refined; ten rocks he splits with his arrow; he walks a hundred Yojanas and back without getting tired. Even hoary old men with 1ong.white beards would excite the curiosity of the people by these and similar such stories, which magnified Bkiksu’s greatness” (Kalhana p.693).


The phenomenon of the bullpen angry out to be a watershed in Lalla's accord with her ancestors and in her abundant added important accord with the Supreme Consciousness. She larboard her ancestors for acceptable and took to abnormality as an ascetic, a sanyasin in seek of Enlightenment. The adventure goes that she wandered about naked like a mad being that does not affliction for any academism of dress. The fable goes that her lul or abdomen protruded advanced angled itself to awning her clandestine parts. People accordingly forgot her aboriginal beginning name of Lalita (shortened to Lalla in Kashmir) and began to alarm her Lalla Ded/Lal Ded, the granny with the abdomen dangling down. This is absolutely buzz and cannot be accommodated to the actuality that she was christened Lalita. Muslims after on claimed her about face to Islam and alleged her Lalla Arifa. But the absoluteness is that all kinds of belief and legends grew up as time aggregate on and threw a cloak of obscurity on the aeon during which she lived her life (Kaul, p.1).


The fable associated with her mahasamadhi, accepting freed from the bitter braid of her physique and accepting acquiescently alloyed with that which shall endure always the Infinite Soul, Lalla's Siva. When claimed by both the Hindus and the Muslims alike, Lalla performed a following miracle. There arose a blaze of ablaze from her asleep physique and after anyone acumen what was happening, it vanished into the void (Kaul, p.1). Lal Ded believed in transmigration and rebirth of man. In her vaakh Lalla says, “seven times I saw the lake vanishing in the void (Kaul, 1971, pp.8-9).” These strange myths emphasize his Hindu belief with rebirth and his eminent yoga forces emphasize the events and events of previous life (Kaul, 1971, pp.8-9).


But Lal Ded teaches to all Kashmiris as able-bodied as all animal getting that, “The Lord pervades everywhere, There is annihilation like Hindu or Muslim; (All distinctions cook away) If thou art wise, apperceive thyself, Seek the Lord within.” (Kaul, p.1). Lal Ded is said to accept accomplished Nirvana in 1389 or so. But her metaphors which accouter her mystical conveyances in the anatomy of vaakh abide to affect mankind (Kaul, p.1) .


The activity of Lalla like abounding added saints is buried in myth, phenomenon and legend. An account depicting the amazing ability of Lal Ded is account to be recorded here. It is said that anon afterwards her meditations at the altar at Zinpura ghat abreast Pampore, she was abiding to her home with an earthen pot abounding of water. Her husband was ambuscade there to acquisition area Lalla acclimated to go aboriginal in the morning. The pot bankrupt into pieces, but label was not breach and Lalla abounding all pots in her abode with this label and again threw down but of identify alfresco the house. It was actuality that a pond sprang up. According to legendary sayings, this pond is still accepted as Lal Tang and the citizenry of Pampore conform Hindus or Muslims pay their respects at this abode even today (Akhter, 2017, p.919).


The narratives announce she remained in the region, but there is no adumbration of annihilation else. Her activity is couched in so abundant abstruseness that we cannot even say with any accurateness whether her afterlife rites were that of a Muslim or a Hindu, nor the date of her death. We accept no accurate markers of her life. There are no shrines, no temples, no gravestones, alone the articulate memories of the Kashmiris themselves (Diane, 2013, p.9).


Many miracles are associated with the Sufi saints like Bulbul shah, Said ali Hamadani, Mir Mohammad Hamadani and also Nund Rishi. Miraculas birth theory of Nund Rishi and his meeting with Lal Ded cannot attain scientific observation. But the miraculous meeting between Lal Ded and Nund Rishi cleared the idea of socio-religious syncretism in the people of Kashmir valley (Parimoo, pp.9-11).


Legends shows that Gayalbo Rinchana the first Muslim King of Kashmir and also a Buddhist of his early life once want to admit into Shiva fold of Hinduism. But refused by the Brahmins and they rejected the plea of the king to be entered the high status in the Hindu Cast system. As such, the king decided to embrace the religion of the first man, he meet next morning (Hassnain, 2013, p.1). Next day when the king went out of his palace, he saw a Dervish, Bulbul Qalander. Rinchana asked him about his religion. According to Baharistan-i-shahi he recited: “Shah Niamat Ullah is my mentor; He is the true follower of Muhammad and Ali.” Consequently, the king accepted the true teaching of Islam and attained the status of first Muslim King of Kashmir.



According to Gouri Bazaz, “Legend has it that Nund Rishi was one day invited the royal banquet. Being attired in a Pheran of coarse wool, he was stopped at the palace gate. He returned dressed elegantly in Kimkhab and Jamawar. When the feast was served he dipped his sleeves into the gravy of the delicious Wazavaan dishes. When asked, he replied “the feast is not for Noor-ud-Din, it is for the costly clothes” (Malik, 2000, p.252).



There are many wedding songs in Kashmir which can create a common symphony and share stories of different religions. “Folk songs in Kashmir, as elsewhere, show and to some extent, preserve the myths, customs, traditions, and way of life of bygone days.….The beliefs and manners of Kashmiris are worthily embalmed in their folk songs, which also mirror the chequered national history of the valley; folk verse also perpetuates the memory of calamities like floods and famines, foreign invasions, tyranny of rulers etc.” (Parish, 2004, p.300).


In the context of historical changes and religious evolution in the valley, there is a continuity of myths or myths in order to maintain coordination in the social environment. Akanandun legend is a principle in the Kashmiri society, where the Kashmiri people have been educated for separateness and selflessness. (Sharma & Bakshi, 1995, pp.253-260). In the history of Kashmir, Buddhist religion, Hindu religion and many mythological stories found in the Muslim age have kept the inspirational mindset of the Kashmiris alive.


Likewise, the stories of Hemal and Nagar were generally a Hindu religious social story, which was very strongly associated with Hindu philosophy. The story of this Hemal and Nagar should have been popular only to the Hindu people, but this story is equally popular with Kashmiri Muslims. Its explanation is possible only through the theory of cultural coordination (Knowles, 1893, pp. 491-504).


Kashmiri myths have taken the utmost importance to respond to the non-social implementation. In this way, due to socio-cultural co-ordination, false characters do not change their role even if they change their character. Many actual anecdotes accept become allotment of the Kashmiri fabulous lore, admitting their actual veracity. Though the characters change their names, their role charcoals the same. These beliefs affect the area of Kashmiri literature, adorning it significantly. Some abstract is alloyed about assertive allegorical characters alone. Kashmiri balladry is, for example, abundantly abreast by allegory and folklore. Likewise, many authors used Kashmiri fairy tales in their writings and added many metaphors to the time and the characters in it.


It is clear that they are answerable in the question and they can answer these questions in the courts. The ancient and medieval rulers used to use math as a source to the Nazis, and they claimed that Nijidas were male descendants of God. As a result of this, the tendency of the people to be respected in terms of devotion to the ruler in one place and other than the other in his own mind. In Kashmir, Zainul-Abdin said that he would be able to show his credentials to the public as he is representing him as a part of God or God. After his death his body became a corpse and he became a Shiva.


Jonoraja wrote in the book titled Rajtarangini, “Brahma displays his mercy by bidding the sun rise when the world is merged in darkness, by causing the advent of the spring when the joys of the earth are destroyed by the cold wind of winter, and by sending a perfect and blameless king when the world is disturbed with fear by a wicked king. The sinless Shri Jainollabhadina flushed with success, entered Kashmira like propitious fate” (Jonaraja, 1993, p. 63).


The combination of mysterious and compulsory subjects people have subscribed to the appropriate measure to determine the morality of life. Kashmiris know about and have narrated the story of many legendary Kings. There are some myths that are explanatory and they can answer the questions of the philosophers. The ancient and medieval rulers used myths for their own sake. They used to claim to be God's own sons. As a result, the tendency of the ruler to accept God-centred devotion and on the other, his absolute supremacy could have been observed. In the case of Kashmir, Zain-ul- Abidin could show his credit to the people in the book titled 'Zainrajtarangini' or 'Zain Shahi' by the contemporary Kashmiri writer Srivara, as part of God or God. Srivara miricularise the death of Sultan Zain-Ul–Abidin and told that, “After his death his body became a corpse and he became a Shiva (Srivara, 1993, p.148).


 In some mythological words, the greatest gesture towards the overall of words in the mythology, such as amusement, drumming, and body decoration and dancing is a mythological story. In Kashmir, a kind of organized dance and dancing together of all the villagers is an example of this. This kind of dance fits the feeling of falsehood in terms of time and place.


Kashmiri myths have been most persuaded to respond to socialist implementation. So many pre-medieval periods have been found in Kashmir's history, which, in spite of being suppressed, carries the indications of hopes and hopes of Kashmiris towards the contemporary rulers. But it is true according to Robert Bringhurst that, “the boundary between the historical and the mythical, the domestic and the wild, is a flexible and permeable boundary, risky but not difficult to cross, and that the wild, because it is not under human control, is not only a dangerous realm but also a source of rebirth: a place to renew and increase one's share of knowledge and power( Bringhurst, 2000, p. 25). “It was customary for almost all to visit a particular shrine on different occasions of historical importance for the fulfillment of wishes and cherished goals” (Lawrence, 1895, pp.285-286).


In Kashmir a curious legend which is current amongst the followers of the heretical Qadiani sect “allege that an ancient grave, not far from the Dast Gir Mosque, which the Kashmiris say is the tomb of Yuz-asaf, a Moslem saint who died in the fifteenth century, is really the sepulcher of Christ. They assert that He did not die on the cross but escaped from the Holy Land to Kashmir” (Nave, 1931,p.47). In many places in Kashmir with lots of spring, some honest people are considered to be the result of miraculous work, and such springs are related to the deteriorating morale and joint collapse of people's attitude here. Even the weather changes seen in Kashmir are also related to the moral standards of consciousness, so that the Kashmiri people traditionally judge the human nature-God relationship with justice (Shah, 2012, p.47).


Many animal species are protected by folk beliefs. Snakes are generally considered to be genes, so they do not kill. Cat are hardly ever touched due to the perception that Abu Hurrarah cut off his piece of clothing on which the cat was drowsing but did no longer stricken to disturb it. Many plant lives are considered as sacred in Hinduism like Tulsi, Neem and so on. In Islam sure plant life and end result are believed to be from Paradise (Shah, 2012, p.47). “In fact strictly speaking every species is sacred because their archetypes are contained in God and are therefore reflections of the earth archetypal counterparts in the paradoxical world. There are some plants which are specially used in food for cold resistance; e.g. Raphanus sativus (mooli) grown almost thoughts about Kashmir as a vegetable” (Shah, 2012, p.47).


Many legends associated with Adi Sankaracharya temple, Khir Bhawani temple, Hari Parbat, Jwalamukhi, and also Amaranth Cave. “According to one popular legend Lord Shiva taught the secret of creation to Parvati at this place.” (Pandit, 2008, p.74) It is true that, “every rock, mountain, spring, cave, stream, rivers, ravines and grooves possess their own legends, stories and fantasies and are alive till date in one or the other form” (Fazili, 2012, p.12-13). These stories always make people interested in the combination of culture. The audience is deeply involved with folktale, folk songs and superstitious events because of the ancient place, the time and the time that has happened and what has happened is now in the society, and not only in Kashmir but all over the world.


There are many differences between myth and history. Comparison involves a kind of interpretation of the current social situation and the basis of rationality. Instead of social change, the relationships between establishing psychological security, the use of stories, and reactionary responses to readers and audiences, and their established relationship between the past and the present. The difference between history and the Mythostory is that the expression of relativity from "from the beginning", the history of the people with the reasonable methods of authenticating its claims and supporting the truth of its demands, the history of mythological concern with the current situation, its history, the aggression of the present situation and their inevitability of myths, the history of the past secularising history, myth and legends made it sacralised. The mythological story indicates a real and specific position at a mythical time. This type of myth is found in plenty in the Kashmir valley of space and time. All disciplines in Kashmir are associated with self-denial and good deeds legends.



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Received on 01.03.2019         Modified on 29.03.2019

Accepted on 19.04.2019      ©AandV Publications All right reserved

Res.  J. Humanities and Social Sciences. 2019; 10(2):616-622.  

DOI: 10.5958/2321-5828.2019.00100.1