meaning and its study was even recommended to the king.
Literally meaning “River of Kings”, it is a historical chronicle of early
India written in 1148. It is justifiably considered to be the best and most
authentic work of its kind. It covers the entire history of Kashmir from the
earliest times to the date of its composition.
Kalhana’s access to minute details of contemporary court intrigues
was almost direct: his father and uncle were both in the court. Regarding
the events of the past, Kalhana’s search for material was truly fastidious.
He was inspired by model works as the Harshacharita and the Brihat-
samhita and also used the local rajakathas (royal chronicles). He referred
to a variety of epigraphic sources relating to royal eulogies, construction
of temples, and land grants; he studied coins, monumental remains, family
records, and local traditions. But his traditional conceptual framework,
using uncritical assumptions and a belief in the role of the poet as an
exponent of moral maxims, makes the idealizing content in his narrative
particularly rather dominant.
Consisting of 7,826 verses, it is divided into eight books. Book I
attempts to weave imaginary tales of Kashmir kings into epic legends.
Gonanda was the first king and a contemporary of Lord Krishna. Traces of
genuine history are also found, however, in references to the Emperors
Asoka and Kanishka. Book II introduces a new line of kings not
mentioned in any other authentic source, starting with Pratapaditya I and
ending with Aryaraja. Book III starts with an account of the reign of
Meghavahana of the restored line of Gonanda and refers to the brief reign
of Matrigupta, a supposed contemporary of Vikramaditya of Malwa. The
book closes with the establishment of the Karkota Naga dynasty by
Durlabhaka Pratapaditya II.
It is from Book IV on that Rajatarangini takes on the character of a
dependable historical narrative. The Karkota line came to a close with the
usurpation of the throne by Avantivarman, who started the Utpala dynasty
in 855. In Books V and VI the history of the dynasty continues to 1003,
when the kingdom of Kashmir passed on to a new dynasty, the Lohara.