The Ten Tribes of Israel
Who Came to Kashmir


Leaving Afghanistan and Pakistan where the Pathans live, when one goes east, it is the State of Kashmir in northern part of India which is west of Nepal. Kashmir consists of a very wide and beautiful valley, surrounded by tall mountains and I think it is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

There are 5 to 7 million people there. Generally speaking, they have clearer complexions and are different from the other citizens of India. An Interesting tradition is passed down among the Kashmir people regarding their ancestry from the Lost Tribes of Israel. This tradition is supported by extensive literature written by both the people of Kashmir and other scholars.

In Kashmir, various places are called with Israeli names, like Har Nevo, Beit Peor, Pisga, Heshubon. These are all the names in the land of the Ten Tribes of Israel. The same thing is true in the names of people, male names, female names, and names of village.

The people in Kashmir perform a feast called Pasca in Spring, when they adjust the difference of days between the lunar calendar and solar calendar and the way of this adjustment is the same as Jewish. Several books are published on this. The Udu language which is used in Kashmir includes many words of Hebrew.

Most of the people of Kashmir are Muslims. In spite of it, they are sympathetic towards Jews and Israel. It is evident that their origin has also led to their interest in the people of Israel.

The history of the Kashmiris is shrouded in mystery as is the history of other people in that region. Most Kashmir researchers are of the opinion that many inhabitants of Kashmir are descendants of the Lost Tribes who were exiled in 722 BCE. They wandered along the Silk Road into the countries of the East, Persia and Afghanistan until they reached the Kashmir valley and settled there.
Others say the wanderings began approximately 300 years later. The wanderers settled in Kashmir, kept their traditions until they were forced to convert to Islam when the spread of Islam reached the valley. The priest Kitro in his book, the General History of the Mughal Empire, said that the Kashmir people are the descendants of the Israelites.

The traveling Arab historian El Bironi in the 12th century wrote, "In the past, permission to enter Kashmir was given only to Jews."

The priest Monstrat said that in the time of Vasco da Gama in the 15th century, "all the inhabitants of this area who have been living here since ancient times can trace their ancestry, according to their race and customs, to the ancient Israelites. Their features, their general physical appearance, their clothing, their ways of conducting business, all show that they are similar to the ancient Israelites."

Names like Israelites in Kashmir

Recently Mr. Ikbal Chapri, the owner of a houseboat called Haifa (the same name as a big city in Israel) in Srinagar, Kashmir, has written about this topic in the local newspapers.

His article was about the names of the tribes and places of Kashmir which are exactly Hebrew. I have a copy of two pages of the list. For example, one of the tribes of Kashmir is called Asheriya which is Asher, the tribe of Dand is Dan, Gadha is Gad, Lavi is Levi. The Tribe of Shaul is the Hebrew name of King Saul. Musa is Moses, Suliamanish is Solomon. And you also have the tribe of Israel, the tribe of Abri which is the tribe of Hebrew, and the tribe of Kahana which is the word for Jewish priest.
There are also 50-75 names of places in Kashmir which are in fact the Hebrew names that ancient Israelites were very familiar with. There is a place called Samaryah which is Samaria. Mamre is Mamre, Pishgah is Pisgah, Nabudaal is Mt. Nevo, Bushan is Bashan, Gilgit is Gilgal, Heshba is Heshbon, Amunah is Amon, Gochan is Goshen, Median-pura is Midian, and Guzana is Gozan which is a place name in Assyria and the very place where the Ten Tribes of Israel were deported.

The name Israel is very common among them as it is among the Pathans, and this name is never used among the Muslims. They also light a candle for the Sabbath, have sidelocks, beards, and emblem or design of the Shield of David.

In an area which is on the border of Pakistan, called Yusmarg (Handwara), there lives a group which to this very day calls itself B'nei Israel meaning children of Israel. Many of the inhabitants of Kashmir say that this is the ancient name of all the people of Kashmir.

In Kashmir there is a strange legend which says that Jesus did not die on the cross but in his search for the Ten Tribes reached the Kashmir valley and lived there until his death. They even point to his grave in Kashmir.
This is very much like a legend I have heard somewhere in Japan before. Yes, Herai village (the present name is Shingou village) in Aomori prefecture, where there is also the legend that Jesus came to Japan and died there. They even point to his grave in Herai. It seems that sometimes the legend of coming of Jesus and his tomb is born where the Ten Tribes are said to come.

There is another strange tradition of a small community next to the Wallar Link who point out the grave of Moses. There is yet another tradition in connection with King Solomon according to which even King Solomon reached the Kashmir Valley and through his wisdom aided the people of Kashmir by successfully regulating the Jalum river. This tradition is also connected to a place called Solomon's throne which is situated above the capital of Kashmir, Srinagar. Isn't it strange and fascinating that there are historical and even folkloristic tales of ancient Israeli heroes in these strange and exotic places?

These also resemble legends in Japan. There is the grave of Moses in Mt. Houdatsu, Ishikawa prefecture, and a legend says that many secret treasures of Solomon are kept in Mt. Tsurugi in Shikoku, Japan.

The two primary historians of Kashmir, Mulla Nadiri, who wrote The History of Kashmir and Mulla Ahmad who wrote Events of Kashmir have established without a trace of doubt that the origins of the Kashmiri people are to be found in the people of Israel.

 
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