Sharda script is the oldest script which was used for learning and writing kashmiri language in ancient times, and its growth was at its peak till the end of 11th century A.D.
Kashmir in ancient times was called Sharda Desha as it was the ancient seat of learning and people from the far of places visited the place for higher studies and for learning the philosophy of Kashmiri Shaiv Darshan.
Sharda script was followed by Sanskrit script and the Kashmiri Brahmrins, learned both the scripts, but primarily varied religious manuscripts and historical manuscripts were written in Sharda script.
Almost all the manuscripts of the ancient days collected and preserved by historians are in Sharda.
Sharda script is known to have been derived from older Sidha-Matrika and Siddham script. This script itself is derived from one of the branches of Brahmi script and hence is the oldest script of Indian Sub-continent.
After the advent of Muslim rule in Kashmir valley, the Sharda script slowly lost its glory and then there Muslim rulers tried to destroy the old cultural heritage of Kashmir and this also influenced the use of persian language.
After the Independence of India, no steps were taken to preserve the Sharda manuscripts and it is a fact that these manuscripts are almost destroyed. The last nail in the coffin was when Nastaliq or Persio Arabic script was imposed on Kashmiri language by the government of the state.
So, the Sharda Script today is at the brink of 'extinction' and there is no government and cultural patronage to revive this script, otherwise it is considered to be the best script for learning and writing Kashmiri language.
The following glimpse will show the basic alphabets written in Sharda Script:
-by Mr. Suniel Kumar Dhar
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