Many historians and locals believe that Jammu was founded by Raja Jamboolochan in 14th century BCE. During one of his hunting campaigns he reached the Tawi River where he saw a goat and a lion drinking water at the same place. The king was impressed and decided to set up a town after his name, Jamboo. With the passage of time, the name was corrupted and became "Jammu". According to one "folk etymology", the name "Kashmir" means "desiccated land" (from the Sanskrit: Ka = water and shimeera = desiccate). According to another folk etymology, following Hindu mythology, the sage Kashyapa drained a lake to produce the land now known as Kashmir. With a fertile soil and temperate climate, the valley is rich in rice, vegetables and fruits of all kinds, and famous for the quality of its wool. Kashmir has been inhabited since prehistoric times, sometimes independent but at times subjugated by invaders from Bactria, Tartary, Tibet and other mountainous regions to the North, and from the Indus valley and the Ganges valley to the South. At different times the dominant religion has been Animist, Buddhist, Hindu and (after the period of the history) Muslim.
The Rajatarangini is the first of a series of four histories that record the annals of Kashmir. Commencing with a rendition of traditional 'history' of very early times (3102 BCE), the Rajatarangini comes down to the reign of Sangrama Deva, (c.1006 AD) and Kalhana. The second work, by Jonaraja, continues the history from where Kalhana left off, and, entering the Muslim period, gives an account of the reigns down to that of Zain-ul-ab-ad-din, 1412. P. Srivara carried on the record to the accession of Fah Shah in 1486. The fourth work, called Rajavalipataka, by Prajnia Bhatta, completes the history to the time of the incorporation of Kashmir in the dominions of the Mogul emperor Akbar, 1588.
Jonaraja (c. 15th century) was a Kashmiri historian and Sanskrit poet. His Dvitīyā Rājataraṅginī is a continuation of Kalhana's Rājataranginī and brings the chronicle of the kings of Kashmir down to the time of the author's patron Zain-ul-Abidin (r. 1423-74). Jonaraja, however, could not complete the history of the patron as he died in the 35th regnal year of him. His pupil, Śrīvara continued the history and his work, the Tritīyā Rājataraṅginī covers the period 1459-86.
In his Dvitīyā Rājataranginī, Jonaraja has vividly described the decline of the Hindu ruling dynasty and the rise of the Muslim ruling dynasty in Kashmir.
The Rājataranginī (The River of Kings) is a metrical chronicle of the kings of Kashmir from earliest time written in Sanskrit by Kalhana. It is believed that the book was written sometime during 1147-1149 CE. The work generally records the heritage of Kashmir, but 120 verses of Rājatarangiṇī describe the misrule prevailing in Kashmir during the reign of King Kalash, son of King Ananta Deva of Kashmir. Although the earlier books are far from accurate in their chronology, they still provide an invaluable source of information about early Kashmir and its neighbors, and are widely referenced by later historians and ethnographers.
In the Rajatarangini, a history of Kashmir written by Kalhana in mid-12th century, it is stated that the valley of Kashmir was formerly a lake. This was drained by the great rishi or sage, Kashyapa, son of Marichi, son of Brahma, by cutting the gap in the hills at Baramulla (Varaha-mula). When Kashmir had been drained, Kashyapa asked Brahmans to settle there. This is still the local tradition, and in the existing physical condition of the country, we may see some ground for the story which has taken this form. The name of Kashyapa is by history and tradition connected with the draining of the lake, and the chief town or collection of dwellings in the valley was called Kashyapa-pura name which has been identified with the Kao-1r6.nupos of Hecataeus (apud Stephen of Byzantium) and Kaspatyros of Herodotus (3.102, 4.44). Kashmir is the country meant also by Ptolemy's Kao-ir,~pta.
Kalhana (c. 12th century CE) a Kashmiri Brahmin was the author of Rajatarangini, and is regarded as Kashmir's first historian. In fact, his translator Aurel Stein expressed the view that his was the only true Sanskrit history. Little is known about him except from what he tells us about himself in the opening verses of his book. His father Champaka was the minister in Harsha of Kashmir's court.
Kalhana in his opening Taranga of Rajatarangini presents his views on how history ought to be written. From Stein's translation:
Verse 7. Fairness: That noble-minded author is alone worthy of praise whose word, like that of a judge, keeps free from love or hatred in relating the facts of the past.
Verse 11. Cite earlier authors: The oldest extensive works containing the royal chronicles [of Kashmir] have become fragmentary in consequence of [the appearance of] Suvrata's composition, who condensed them in order that (their substance) might be easily remembered.
Verse 12. Suvrata's poem, though it has obtained celebrity, does not show dexterity in the exposition of the subject-matter, as it is rendered troublesome [reading] by misplaced learning.
Verse 13. Owing to a certain want of care, there is not a single part in Ksemendra's "List of Kings" (Nrpavali) free from mistakes, though it is the work of a poet.
Verse 14. Eleven works of former scholars containing the chronicles of the kings, I have inspected, as well as the [Purana containing the] opinions of the sage Nila.
Verse 15. By looking at the inscriptions recording the consecretations of temples and grants by former kings, at laudatory inscriptions and at written works, the trouble arising from many errors has been overcome.
Despite these stated principles, and despite the value that historians have placed on Kalhana's work, it must be accepted that his history was far from accurate. Kalhana lived in a time of political turmoil in Kashmir, at that time a brilliant center of civilization in a sea of barbarism. Kalhana was an educated and sophisticated Brahmin, well-connected in the highest political circles. His writing is full of literary devices and allusions, concealed by his unique and elegant style. Kalhana was a poet.
Kalhana borrowed from authors such as Ksemendra, Padmamiriha and Chavillakara, and tells us that he used many other sources to confirm his information including engravings, literary manuscripts, other histories and local verbal traditions. Certainly, some of his descriptions show evidence of such research. However, he clearly used his imagination to fill in the gaps. The Gonandiya dynasty, taking its name from the legendary first king of Kashmir, is revived twice in the Rājatarangiṇī, but with little historical evidence. Perhaps Kalhana used it as a literary device, where the ancient and legitimate dynasty was periodically displaced by invaders and usurpers, but always re-emerged.
Kalhana's chronology, particularly in the first three books, is highly inaccurate. For a man of his time, exact dates may have been more a way to add realism and emphasis to the account. What mattered was the story.
The Rajtarangini Kalhanas chronicle
The author of the Rajatarangini history chronicles the rulers of the valley from earliest times, from the epic period of the Mahābhārata to the the reign of Sangrama Deva (c.1006 CE), before the Muslim era. The list of kings goes back to the 19th century BCE. Some of the kings and dynasties can be identified with inscriptions and the histories of the empires that periodically included the Kashmir valley, but for long periods the Rajatarangini is the only source.
This work consists of 7826 verses, which are divided into eight books called Tarangas (waves).
Kalhaṇa’s account of Kashmir begins with the legendary reign of Gonarda, who was contemporary to Yudhisthira of the Mahābhārata, but the recorded history of Kashmir, as retold by Kalhaṇa begins from the period of the Mauryas. Kalhaṇa’s account also states that the city of Srinagar was founded by the Mauryan emperor, Ashoka, and that Buddhism reached the Kashmir valley during this period. From there, Buddhism spread to several other adjoining regions including Central Asia, Tibet and China.
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