Didda comes in shape of a play

O P Sharma

Name of the book Didda (historical play in Hindi)
Author T R Magotra ‘Sagar’
Publisher The author himself

The book in Hindi entitled “Didda”, a historical play authored by well known writer T.R.Magotra ‘Sagar’, was released recently and now has hit the market. It depicts the life and time of queen Didda of Kashmir valley( 958AD to 980AD) and the play a historical with some elements of fiction but makes an exciting reading.
The author Mr Sagar, in an interview told me: ” the play is based on famous Kalhana’s “Rajatarangini”, considered as India’s oldest chronicle, and is on the controversial queen of Kashmir, known as Didda. As per historical account, Didda got the throne of Kashmir in 980 AD though she was sharing the power with her husband— KhemGupt and afterwards with minor son from 950 AD. After the death of her husband in 958 AD she became de-facto Ruler of Kashmir; the period also represents the peak of women’s power in Kashmir.
As per record, she was sometimes called “the Catherine of Kashmir”, referring to the ruthless Catherine of the Great Russia as she was considered as a very controversial queen. Many of her high officers and even Ministers orArmy Commanders fled away from Kashmir due to her fear. She was dauntless and ruthlessly to those who came in her way.
Women Empowerment
Sagar makes mention of two other queens who ruled Kashmir. But they were not so powerful and important but had due place in history speaking about women empowerment..
Didda was the daughter of Khasa King Singhraja, the ruler of Lohar (now known as village Loran of Poonch district) and from her mother’s side belonged to BhimaShahi king of ‘Udabhandapura’; the capital of Gandhara.This has also been quoted in Alberuni’s list of ‘Hindu Shahis’ of Kabul.’
Queen Didda appears to have inherited much of the political acumen and energy which enabled her to maintain herself as virtual ruler of Kashmir for more than four decades.Her tremendous political survival skill and strategy kept her apart as able administrator notwithstanding the gender bias of that time. Although Kalhana has described her as” very beautiful but physically weak” but opinion of author, TR Magotra’Sagar’ is a bit different.Sagar argues that ‘it is all jealousy of traditional writers who were against her ruthless rule” and maintains that her husband was so much under her spell that he was being called ‘Diddakhema’.Dinars (coins) were also minted on their joint name.
Interesting Play
This play is combination of fiction and history but the author has also kept high the sanctity of historical facts. Besides Hinduism, the Buddhism was also flourishing in Kashmir during that period of Kashmir history.
T R Magotra was born in Gurah Salathian and has acquired high academic qualification with MA ( History),L.LB; PG in Journalism and Mass Communications and also Shiromani degree in Dogri. He had a career in All India Radio and retired as the head of Radio Station, Poonch.
He has already six books of Dogri poetry to his credit and the present work is his 9th book which is published by the author himself. The book “Didda” was released recently at K.L Sehgal Hall, Abhinav Theatre complex, Jammu in presence of galaxy of intellectuals, writers and prominent citizens and the author was also awarded literary honour as well.
This 80-page historical play is well printed and published work pointing to the acumen of womenfolk and speak well of their empowerment during that period of our history. Mr Sagar is still actively engaged in writing pursuits and some more literary contribution is expected from him in years ahead.