History writing was a rare verification in ancient India and there is one old Text, Rajatarangamin, a history of Kashmir in verse from written in the twelfth century AD, which can be actually be considered a work of history. This monumental work in Sanskriti by Poet Kalhana is of great importance to scholars of Indian history and culture. Rajatarangini means river of kings’, yet this fascinating book is more than account of many rulers, Indeed it provides a mine of valuable information on the political, social and economic life of Kashmir during the regins of its various kings and dynasties from the remotest past to Kalhana’s own times.
The present publication is a doctoral work on “ Rajatarangini-a Study of Socio-Economic and Political Conditions “by K. Venkateswarlu, who did his Ph.D. from the Department of Sanskrit, Osmania University, Hyderabad. He has done valuable research in this area and I hope the book will welcomed by all those interested in ancient Indian History, especially in the history of Kashmir.
The Culture and Heritage of any country is known only through the history. Though India has a great glorious past yet no chronicles are maintained about it by Indian writers which has been given the scope of foreigner to fix the date of our epics and purnamas as they liked. The credit of maintaining such record goes first to Bana who has recorded the history of Harshavardhana and next to Kalhana for his Rajatarangini. Although Bana’s Harshacharita deals with historical plot, it does not contain any chronological information whereas Rajatarangini maintains a systematic chronology.
The texts are known as the chronicles of Kashmiri Kings. Kalhana being the son of a minister had good acquaintics with the intricaties of Royal families. He was well versed in all legendary lore. He has composed Rajatarangini not just to record the political not just to record the political events but also to focus on the vicissitudes of pompus Royality. Before writing great historical poem which runs into eight tarangas (chapters) he has read the epics and Kavyas available to him. At the same time he was faithful chronicler who had recorded the information what was available to him. He was not mere chronicler but good poet. His scholarly and beautiful poem brought him laurels and spread his fame through out the world.
The more striking point in him is that he was not a poet who simply wrote the eulogies about the kings. He is like Kautilya who strongly puts forth the merits and demerits of the rulers. At times, he uses harsh words which express his hatered towards the indecent behaviour of Passionate kings. The socio-Economic and Political conditions in Kashmirs and its allied kingdoms are described in Rajatarangini. The study of this work opens a new windows to the readers and researchers.
Dr.K. Venkateshwarlu has chosen this work for his research in Sanskrit. It may be started that he had done justice to the topic by focusing on very important issues concerning Socio and political conditions. There is no doubt that this work will be reference to further researches not only in field of Sanskrit but also in other fields like History, Poltical Science, Economics and Indian Heritages and Culture etc. My hearty congratulation to Dr. K. Venkateswarlu and best wishes to him for a bright future.
India is one of the most ancient contries in the world. Being very old in history, India holds a great past of it. The history of this country is reflected in its literature.
Sanskrit being the official language and language of scholar in the earlier days, the history of this great nation was written in Sanskrit. History was never considered a separate stream of literature in this country. Writing chronicles was never considered part of literature.
Puarns, Itihas, Kavyas depicted the history of this country. Kalhana of Kashmir, the ancient land of learning, wrote chronicle of Kashmir with the title Rajatarangiri or the River of Kings. Rajatrangini being in the form of a kavya provides much information about Kashmir. Kalhana starting from the Mahabharata war narrated the History of his land upto his time.
The authencity of Indian literature is always questioned due to the lack of proper chronology at times, the great epics like Ramayana too are considered myths by the Western Scholar. This defict is filled by Kalhana who provided a systematic chronology for the first time in Indian literature.
He has reminded the Indian scholars the necessity of such chronicles. Hence it may be stated that his contribution is unique to the literary world.
The present study is to bring out the social, economic and political conditions that were depicted in Rajatarangini. In this present study in chapter-1 titled “Sources of Indian History”, the difficulties about the study of Ancient Indian History, “ Sources of information on Indian history are discusses long with the History of Kashmir.
In the second chapter titled “ Kalhana and Rajatarangini” Kalhana’s lineage his religious life, Kalhana and his references to other scholars and poets, his style, critical estimate of Kalhana and Bana, rare words and proverbs used by him in Rajatarangini are discussed along with the scope of Rajataranigni and the date of Mahabharta War and the history of Kashmir.
In the third chapter titled “Social Conditions” social conditions of Kashmir were described in Kalhana’s Rajatarangini like Varna vyastha, religion, temples and viharas, Charitable trusts, education, weapons, book keeping, dress and costume, tantric rituals of Kashmirs, Killing of animals, witch-craft, festivals and ceremonies of Kashmir, religions of Kashmir were discussed, Food, disease prayopavesa, futuerology, oath, forced labour, amnities, bridges, sale of slaves suicide , water-wheel, wooden Houses, sand oceans, women are the other topics discussed in this third chapter.
In the fourth chapter titled “Economic Conditions” the monetary system of Kashmir, Land Revenue System Taxes, agriculture, irrigation and other economic conditions are discussed.
In the fifth chapter titled “Political Conditions” topics like administration, Revenue Administration, municipal administration, court scandels, military affairs, milliatary usurpations of power, feudal anarchy are discussed.
Rajatarangini is an ocean of information. As we go deep to in this many points will come out to lime-light about the past history of Kashmir.
Through history is mentioned in Purans and itihasas, Kalhana paved way for writing chronicles in India. After Rajatarangini, many chroniclers took to writeing chronicles. Thus writing history became a part of literature.
I hope that my work throws some light on Kalhana’s magnum opus Rajatarangini.
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