Sharada, an offshoot of Brahmi, has traditionally been the script employed for writing Kashmiri. The extant manuscripts in Kashmiri date back to the 14th century A.D. when sharada was in vogue. With the advent of Islam and subsequent replacement of Sanskrit with Persian as the court language, Perso-Arabic script gained currency and respectability and with nearly complete Islamization of the valley, Perso-Arabic script attained a religious significance as well . Consequently, Kashmiri too began to be written in Perso-Arabic script with a large number of diacritics to accommodate the complex phoneme inventory of Kashmiri. However, Sharada continues to live with the Hindu clergy who cast horoscopes in this script. During the colonial period, attempts were made to write Kashmiri in Roman but it could not attract many recipients.

After independence, the Government of Jammu & Kashmir state gave recognition to Perso-Arabic script for writing Kashmiri. The presence of a sizable number of diacritic marks has hampered the growth and expansion of readers in Kashmiri.

After 1990, when most of the Hindus moved out of the valley due to political disturbances, the displaced Kashmiri Hindu community realized that their language and culture were under threat. They decided to employ Devanagari with requisite modifications for writing Kashmiri. Several meetings were held to evolve a uniform code for writing Kashmiri in Devnagari. As a result, the displaced Kashmiris now have a comprehensive script at hand which is being employed by three journals Koshur Samachar, Kshirbhawani times and vitasta.

Thus Sharada, Perso-Arabic and Devanagari are the three scripts that are being used to write Kashmiri.


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