Monday, November 16, 2009

Kalhana and his Rajatarangini

Champakapura was a small State in Kashmir. The king of this state was paying tribute to the monarchs of Kashmir.

The king of Champakapura was the prime-minister of the Sovereign of Kashmir. His son Pundit 'Kalhana' was the author of " Rajatarangini ", the History of Kashmir. Kalhana was a great Sanskrit Scholar. His work “ Rajatarangini ", being printed, the whole book is available now, for our perusal. It is printed in Deva Nagari script, in two volumes, consisting of eight Tarangas. The author himself expressed that he wrote a critical systematic history of the Kings in 1148 A D., after a scrutiny of twelve ancient histories, inscriptions, the eulogies of the hierarchy of the past generation of the kings by the heralds and officers of the State and that he cleared all his doubts, in the light of his researches.

Kalhana, the author speaks about the sources and the purpose of his writing Rajatarangini as follows: When I say that I am writing the history written by my ancients, the readers should not disregard my work, without comprehending my motive expressed herein (R.T. 1-8)
The Pandits living in those times, wrote the lives of their contemporary monarchs, on the basis of first-hand knowledge, having practically seen and personally known, they wrote them in seperate Volumes and made their exit from this world. But later chroniclers compiled them and in doing so added some information which they gathered from heresy and informal talks. (R.T. 1-9)

In doing so there is neither dexterity not intellect. Therefore, in writing this ancient history, my main purpose is to remedy such errors and correct those contradictions, with the help of old records, gift-deeds and inscriptions that are at my disposal (R.T. 1-10)

So the purpose of ‘Kalhana’ was, with the aid of old histories and inscriptions, to purge the later compilation of its mistakes and to expunge the fictitious incidents. But this important and valuable information was left untouched by the Western critics.

So we must realize that the motive of Kalhana was to present to his readers a correct chronological history of the kings of kashmir; but not to reject one king and replace another; not to change the places and periods of this or that monarch, as the Western historians now did in modern editions of the same history.

Further Kalhana mentions:
Suvrata abridged and condenced the detailed ancient histories for easy reference and wrote a history, namely " Raja Katha ". The language being concise and difficult, this book was not within the comprehension of the readers. Another scholar, Kshemendra wrote a history, " Nripavali "; though this is free from language faults, it does not give us correct old histories and as such it cannot be accepted as accurate history.

The author, Kalhana, says that he rewrites the history written by his predecessors. So the events mentioned in Rajatarangini have an authenticity, based upon the records of the ancients who were alive at the time of the respective monarchs and they are not the outcome of the idle fancy of ‘Kalhana'. As such in this book are not visible, the safe shelter of the modern writers of history, namely, the stock phrases like, ‘It is possible, it is probable, it may be taken as granted, or we may guess, conjecture or surmise’ and so on. He did not transgress the limits of information found in the writings of his predeccssors, nor did he reject those incidents, on the score of myth or fiction. In case there were any doubts he took great pains to verify and clear them with the information from other sources, like the records of the eleven ancient chroniclers, and one of Nilarmuni and the grants and inscriptions of the old kings. In this way, Kalhana sifted the evidence available at his disposal with great care, caution and patience and arrived at correct accurate historical meterial for his Rajatarangini.

Prof. P. Gwasha Lal B. A. writes:- "The histories of Kashmir of the following historians are said to be standard works: Kalhana Pundit, Jonaraja Pundit, Srinara. Prajyabhatta, Haider Malik, Mohamud Azim, Narayana Kaul, Birbal Kachooroo, Divan Kirparam. Of these Kalhana‘s Rajatarangini is almost a revelation. Among the master-pieces of the world, his history (Kalhana's) is also one."
‘Such a book as Rajatarangini is unique in the literature of the world.'(P. 8. of ‘A Short History of Kashmir By P Gwashalal B. A. )

Mr, V.A. Smith has the following to say on Kalhana’s work "The Sanskrit book which comes nearest to the European notion of a regular history is the Rnjatqrqngini of Kalhana a metrical chronical of Kashmir, written in the twelfth century by the son of a minister of the Raja." (page 54 Oxford Student's His. of India, Ed. 1915 By V. A. Smith.)

Moreover Kalhana expresses as follows:
My doubts and suspicions were set at rest, when I perused the records of Eleven Chroniclers and the Purana ( or history ) of Nilamuni; the edicts and inscriptions of the ancient monarchs together with their recorded praises and eulogies and other Sastras (Sciences) helped a great deal in clearing all my doubts. (R.T. 1-14,15)

Then he proceeds:
No mention of fifty-two kings was made, as they led a life contrary to the Holy Hindu Scriptures. Of these Nilamuni wrote about four monarchs, Gonanda etc. A great sacred Brahmin scholar by name " Helaraja " wrote a history by name " Parthivavali " or ' Kings Assembly ' consisting of twelve thousand slokas and verses. Then, 'Padma Mihira',on the lines of Helaraja, wrote the lives of eight rulers, Lava and others, the predecessors of Asoka. The history of Asoka and others, five sovereigns, were written by a chronicler Sri-Chchavillakara. Of the history of the 52 monarchs, commencing from Gonanda, the contemporaries of Kuru Pandavas in the beginning of Kali Era, the history of 17 kings were added but the history of 35 monarchs were lost in oblivion , as they discarded Vedic-Rites. (R.T. 1-16-19)

Kalhana says that the books wherein ancient events are narrated give pleasure to good people. So he asserts that the duty of an impartial historian is to record, without bias the lives of the kings, though they enhance or belittle the prestige of the Mother-land.

The beginning of Gonanda III’s rule goes back to 2330 years, of his own time (the time of the author Kalhana) and he was writing the history of the Kashmir Rulers from that time and Kalhana said that the period of his writing the "Rajatarangini" was Loukikabda 24 (i.e., 4224) or (Salivahana) Saka 1070(i.e, 78+1070 A.D.) or 1148 A.D. Prior to Gonanda III, 52 kings who discarded the Vedic Dharma ruled for 2268 years according to popular tradition. Kalhana affirmed that he wrote the past history after a close study of 11 Chroniclers and the Purana of Nilamuni who existed before his time .


  1. Hello GDPrasad garu,
    Can you pl. post in your blog if/how one can purchase the books of Sri Kota Venkatachalam garu? Your work in creating and keeping alive this blog should be greatly appreciated.


    1. which books u required to see of Sri.KOTA VENKATACHALAM GAARU,, I HAVE SOME BOOKS WITH ME...

  2. Glad to see your interest and appreciation.
    Unfortunately, only one or a few copies of his books are available, as they are out of print. That is why I have thought of this blog to propagate his views.
    However, some of his books can be downloaded from the internet by searching on his name. In case you have difficulty in downloading, I will send you some if you give your email address