History Optional Paper-1 Solution – 2012: Q.5 (a)
Q.5 (a) Write a short note on: “Evaluate Rajtarangini as a source of history.”
Kalhan wrote “Rajatarangini” in Sanskrit which is a historical chronicle of early Kashmir. This historical account is considered to be the best and most authentic work of its kind. It covers the entire span of history in the Kashmir region from the earliest times to the date of its composition in 12th century. It is divided in eight Tarangas (book).
Kalhan’s modern sense of historiography which is reflected in Rajatarangini. The importance of Rajatangani as a source of history can se shown by Kalhan’ view on historiography and his way of writing Rajatangini as a historical account:
(1) Kalhana says that a good history has power to take the person into past and explore in a way like eye witness. He tried to do that in Rajatarangini.
(2) He says that historian should be appreciated who honestly judges the past incidents; unaffected by his personal likes & dislikes. In Rajatarangini, his minute details of contemporary court intrigues is considered authentic due to his access to the court because his father was in the Kashmir court of King Harsha of Lahore Dynasty. Though he was under several kings, he didn’t get any patronage from them. So, Rajatarangini was devoid of rhetorical and clear of praises, evident in other writers under the patronage of the kings.
(3) According to Kalhan, history should be written only aftet comprehensive study. In writing Rajataramgini, he displayed surprisingly advanced technical expertise for his period. He had given the sources of his writing. For example: for writing history, he gave importance to viewing the inscriptions, recording construction of temples and other architectures, inspecting several kinds of grant plates given by ancient kings, looking up epigraphic sources relating to royal eulogies, studying coins, monumental remains & family records and studying several other texts like Harsacharita, Brihat-samhita and some previous works on Kashmir like Nripavali by Kshemendra.
Hence Rajatarangini contained reason based sources of history.
(4) In Rajatarangini, not only had he described the events but he had also tried to understand and explain the conditions of that time. He wished that people should learn lesson from the mistakes of their past.
In Rajatarangini, Kalham chose the medium of verse for his writings and his writing was inclined towards ornate style in which he has mingled some fiction with the historical truth.
There are few inconsistencies in the earlier chapters of his book, especially the first three parts of Rajatanrangini.
He was not clear about the dates. Besides this regionalism was apparent in Rajatanrangini. He had included all the famous kings (i.e. Maurya kings) as the rulers of Kashmir which was clearly a mistake.
Despite some inconsistencies, Rajatarangini was much more important and of much more historical importance than that of the others during the same period. In fact, it is the only authentic source of the history of early Kashmir. Rajatarangini provides an invaluable source of information about early Kashmir and its neighbors and are widely referenced by later historians.