Abstract: This paper explores the different constitutive elements of nationalist ideology in the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir in the twentieth century by placing it in the social and political context. Here, I analyze two strands of nationalist discourse in the region in the time of its emergence – first, a response to the trends that reinforced centralized urban empowerment as evident in the writings of Prem Nath Bazaz and the second, articulation of nationalist ideology built around Kashmiri language aiming at empowering the non-urban, marginal social groups by Abdul Ahad Azad. Bazaz deployed print newspaper in the Urdu language as a significant means to create a nationalist consciousness and suggest electoral politics as a characteristic feature of a democratic state. Whereas, Abdul Ahad Azad saw in writing a history of Kashmiri language- the mother-tongue- and promotion of linguistic nationalism as a potential means to bring socio-economic and political change through revolution.
In experimental prose, Gowhar Yaqoob invokes an indiscernible narrative voice reminiscent of the narrative style found in the earliest texts that reflect on the genesis of consciousness and language. The narration progresses from myths of origin and philosophical reflections about ‘being’ and ‘world’ found in originary Shaiva, Buddhist and Islamicate narratives to meditations on the current state of affairs in the context of the Valley. Yaqoob’s text produces a mode of reading into ‘being’ in Kashmir and of Kashmir detached from concrete and defined sociopolitical, ideological and religious contexts. As such, the narration maintains a balance between abstraction and unfamiliarity while employing a voice that can traverse various histories and times when reflecting on what it means to have existed in the Valley through the ages.