Ashish Kaul opened up a brilliant conversation on the feminist political history in 10th century Kashmir that forms the background of the contemporary landscape today, and has illuminated upon Daddi, the warrior queen that managed to stabilize and strengthen her empire at a time when the rest of the subcontinent was on the verge of disintegration. Mr. Kaul, a business leader and author of “Refugee Camp”, first heard about queen from his grandmother, who told him tales of her valour.
Chaired by Ashok Darr, the session provided insight into Mr. Kaul’s compassionate understanding of a homeland he says is where his heart is really at, irrespective of where life takes him. Inspired by his young daughter, the book is also meant to be an inspiration to her. The longest serving queen of Kashmir, Didda’s image as a fearless warrior and unparalleled military command led her to victory in impossible battles. The author details his fascination with the historical character at length. Abandoned by her father at young age, she was also a disabled athlete who was almost forced into Sati by her trusted Prime Minister, but emerged not just unscathed but also managed to eliminate her enemies.
Kashmir has long been the place for female rebellion, and a character study of Didda is a testimony to the strength ever present in the lines of this wonderful piece of history, compiled with precision over six years of long hours spent on research and travels to Iranian libraries.
The political methods and military strategies adopted by Didda were replicated in various other political spheres later on, and Mr. Kaul acquaints us with the surprisingly spiritual philosophy that the indomitable queen falls back on, when asked three important, revealing questions.
The session aroused the interest of history enthusiasts and general audiences alike to pick up the book, and give it a long, hard read, to combat the various versions of discourses on Kashmir that are present today.
-Yusra Khan, St.Stephens, New Delhi