Rajatarangini - Source of history of Kashmir

Rajatarangini - Source of history of Kashmir

Question:- Kalhana's Rajatarangini throws a considerable amount of light on the history of Kashmir. Evaluate.

Rajatarangini, work of Kalhana, a 12th century CE poet, is a work of great importance in knowing the history of Kashmir. It is an unbiased work of the past that possesses great historical insight. It is a Sanskrit account of the various advent of Islam.

Sources used to write Rajatarangini:

- The first three chapters of the book have been written with the help of the written and oral tradition along with chronicles which were based on these traditions.

- The sources for last two chapters of this book were his contemporaries, fellow-countrymen and his own memory and from his father.

- Thus most of the incidents were witnessed by him and the events from the previous two generations were got narrated by his father who held key position in the politics of their times.

Content of Rajatarangini:

- Books I-III throw light on the time period from earliest times to the beginning of Karakota Dynasty.

- Book I writes about various imaginary tales of Kashmir kings weaving them with epic legends. It is said that Gonanda was the first king and who was a contemporary and an enemy of the Hindu deity Krishna. It also mentions references to Mauryan emperors Ashoka and Jalauka, Kushan kings Huviska, and Kanishka along with a Huna king, Mihirakula.

- A new lineage of kings is seen in Book II starting with Pratapaditya I to Aryaraja. Book III refers to the reign of Meghavahana of Gonanda and mentions the brief reign of Matrigupta, a likely contemporary of Vikramaditya Harsha of Malwa and as mentioned, the book ends with the establishment of the Karkota dynasty by Durlabhaka Pratapaditya II.

- It is the Book IV in which Rajatarangini adopts the role of a historical narrative. The Karkota line came to an end with the usurpation of the throne by Avantivarman which gave way to the Utpala dynasty in 855.

- History of these dynasties continues in books V and VI until 1003 when a new dynasty, Lohara took over. Book VII narrates the period of the death of King Harsha in 1101

- Book VIII talks about the events that happened between the death of Harsha and stabilization of power under Jayasimha, Kalhana's contemporary.

Rajatarangini speaks about how a powerful king can save Kashmir and how fate plays a role in the destiny of man. According to Kalhana, a king who has a firm control over his kingdom and his benevolent towards the people and their wishes, is an ideal king. He has expressed his disapproval of the feudal chiefs and feudalism, who happened to be the cause of anarchy and chaos in Kashmir.

Perhaps one of the intentions behind writing the Rajatarangini was to remind and inspire the king with the ancient glory of the land and to put an end to disorder.
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