History Answer Writing Practice - Week 7 - Question 6
90 Days History Answer Writing Practice Question 2 for 19-Jan-2018
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19-Jan-2018 - Question 2
Do you consider the Rajatarangini of Kalhana to be a reliable source of the political history of Kashmir ? Why ? (150 words, 10 marks )
Rajatarangini ( "The River of Kings") is a historical chronicle of the early Kashmir. It covers the entire span of history in the Kashmir region from the earliest times to the middle of the 12th century. It was written in Sanskrit by Kashmiri historian Kalhana in the 12th century CE. The work consists of 7826 verses, which are divided into eight books called Tarangas ("waves"). With his appearance on the scene, ancient Indian historiography took a new turn.
- He utilized the works of 11 chroniclers of Kashmir who preceded him as sources of information for composing his work.
- His Father , Champaka, was a minister of King Harsa(1089-1101). He adorned the court of king Jayasimha(1127-59). So, he could get important information about the contemporary court.
- He analyzed royal charters, edicts, records of land grants, the contemporary documents, coins and inscriptions etc.
It embraces the history of Kashmir from the time of the first Hindu king Gonanda to AD 1149, the 22nd year of the reign of the last illustrious king Jayasimha. It contains the genealogies and chronology of kings of various dynasties that ruled Kashmir during this period. The achievements of all important kings and the details of all important events which took place during their times have been highlighted by the author in his work.
Of fifty-two kings who are said to have ruled Kashmir in the early phase, the list of only seventeen which includes Gonanda I and his successors and some other kings have been provided in Book I, Kalhana could not find the names of thirty-five kings as their records are lost. The same book contains the list of twenty-one kings who succeeded Gonanda III.
Book II contains the list of six princes from Pratapaditya I to Aryaraja who belonged to Aditya dynasty. From Book III it appears that there was the restoration of Gonanda dynasty and then princes of this dynasty from Meghavahana to Baladitya reigned in Kashmir.
These three books contain more or less a traditional history from the time of the great battle of Kurukshetra or beginning of the Kali-yuga to the end of the sixth century AD which is based on Itihasa-Purana tradition. Some kings are, of course, mythical but there are some kings like Asoka and his son Jaluka, Kaniska and other whose historicity is well established. Their activities are also well recorded in Kalhana s work. However, there is an anachronism in the genealogical list furnished in Book I. And the chronology of some of the kings mentioned in the said three books are not reliable.
The information provided by Kalhana in Books IV-VIII covering the period from early seventh century AD to about the middle of the twelfth century are more trustworthy than what we find in the earlier three books from both historical and chronological points of view.
Book IV contains the history of seventeen kings from Durlabhavardhana to Utpalapida who belonged to the Karkota (also called Karkotaka) dynasty. Durlabhavardhana, the descendant of Naga Karkota or Karkotaka, founded this dynasty. He appears to have ruled from AD 598 to 634. The most powerful ruler of the line was Lalitaditya (AD 724-60), the third son of Durlabhaka alias Pratapaditya. Lalitaditya has been described as an efficient administrator, valiant warrior, great conqueror and patron of arts and culture. The author of the said work has given a faithful account of his digvijaya (conquest).
The narrative of fifteen princes from Avantivarman to Suravarman to Suravarman II belonging to the Utpala or Varman dynasty has been provided in Book V.
In Book VI, the author has provided the history of ten kings in the lines of Yasaskara and Parvagupta. We are informed that after Suravarman II, Yasaskara (son of Gopalavarman s minister, Prabhakaradeva), was elected by the Brahmanas as king. During his benevolent reign of nine years (AD 939-48) a new era of peace, progress and prosperity commenced in Kashmir. His son and successor, Samgrama, was killed in AD 949 by the minister Parvagupta who usurped the throne himself. The most prominent and powerful ruler in this line was Didda, granddaughter of Bhima Shahi and daughter of Simharaja, a chief of the Lohara (in the Punch state). It is said that ''she was an ambitious and energetic woman, and for nearly half a century- first as queen-consort of king Ksemagupta (AD 950-58), then as regent, and lastly as ruler (AD 980-1003) she was the dominant personality in the politics of Kashmir.
The history of six princes from Samgramaraja to Harsa belonging to so-called the Lohara dynasty is contained in Book VII. Samgramaraja alias Ksamapati, the nephew of Didda and brother of the Lohara prince, Vigraharaja, ascended the throne in Ad 1003 and continued to rule till 1028. Samgramaraja proved to be a weak king, and during the earlier part of his reign, Tunga was virtually the ruler of the state.
The last and the Book VIII contains the history of seven kings from Ucchala (AD 1101-11) to Jayasimha (AD 1127-59), the last illustrious sovereign. The author has provided an eye-witness account of the events which took place about the middle of the twelfth century AD.
- He chose Sanskrit as the medium of verse for his writings and his writing was inclined towards ornate style.
- In the first three parts of Rajatarangini, there are few inconsistencies in chronology as Ranaditya is given a reign of 300 years by him.
- He exaggerated the military conquests of Lalitaditya Muktapida in Book IV.
- Regionalism was also apparent in his writing. He included Mauryas as rulers of Kashmir, which is clearly a mistake.
- Gender biasness is also showcased by him on occasions. His excessive criticism of Queen Didda is an example of the same.