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Kalhan Pandit and Rajatarangini

Sir,
This refers to the write-up ‘Faulty Perspectives on Rajatarangini’ by Ramesh Tamiri (DE March 4). Of late there is a trend among sections of intelligentsia of revaluating Kalhan Pandit and his celebrated work Rajatarangini only subjectively, and suggest specific paradigms he should have adhered to. A historian is not evaluated by what he should have written but by what he has written. Primary fault with this mode of evaluation lies in inability of encompassing geo-political entity called ancient Hindu Kingdom of Kashmir. Rajatarangini as kaviya  meets almost all conditions of a recognized epic like Shahnameh (of Firdowsi) or Mahabharata where besides the component of history and legend, those of geography, culture, society, philosophy, life style and many more aspects come under focus. The fact is that Stein has very ably tried to highlight these aspects either by way of annotations to the text or by exhaustive commentary besides a new chapter under the heading Geography of Ancient Kashmir based on the text and appended to the translation. For understanding the construction, influence and cultural depth of the Hindu Kingdom of Kashmir before its demise, Stein has painstakingly laid the path.
Mr. Ramesh Tamiri has tried to put the record straight by emphasizing that Sanskrit language has been the apt transmission vehicle and the expanse of the kingdom in its physical and civilizational outreach has been done full justice.  The use of Kashmiri calendar (Shak Samvat) needs to be taken due note of.  Although four historians (Jonaraja, Shrivara, Shuka and Prajyabhatta) following the footsteps of Kalhan Pandit continued the historical narrative albeit with far less perceptive mind yet we see that they wrote under certain constraints not existing for Kalhan. Once the idiom of narration changed on account of the march of time, the tradition laid down by Kalhan Pandit and his successors came to an end.  I appreciate the insightful exposition of Mr. Tamiri as it has opened an important subject for scholarly debate.
Yours etc….
K.N. Pandita
Jammu

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