The backdrop of the Srikanthacarita and the Mankhakosa

by Dhrubajit Sarma | 2015 | 94,519 words

This page relates “Appendix: 12th century Kashmir (extracted from Rajatarangini introduction)” as it appears in the case study regarding the Srikanthacarita and the Mankhakosa. The Shrikanthacarita was composed by Mankhaka, sometimes during A.D. 1136-1142. The Mankhakosa or the Anekarthakosa is a kosa text of homonymous words, composed by the same author.

Appendix: 12th century Kashmir (extracted from Rajatarangini introduction)

Note: This footnote was originally found at the section called “Administration and warfare”.

‘The commencement of the twelfth century is marked in the history of Kāśmīr by the important dynastic revolution which brought about material changes in the political state of the country. King Harṣa whose rule (A.D. 1089-1101) seems at first to have secured to Kāśmīr a period of consolidation and of prosperous peace, had subsequently fallen a victim to his own Nero-like propensities. Heavy fiscal exactions necessitated by a luxurious court, and a cruel persecution of the Ḍāmaras who formed the landed aristocracy, had led to a rebellion under the leadership of the brothers Uccala and Sussala, two relatives of Harṣa from a side branch of the Lohara dynasty. Harṣa had succumbed in the struggle and had found a tragic death by murder.

The real princes, who in their success had threatened to become rivals, avoided a conflict for the crown by a partition of Harṣa’s territories. Kāśmīr was to be ruled by Uccala, the elder brother, while the adjoining hill-state of Lohara, the original home of the family, fell to Sussala….His (Uccala’s) reign (A.D. 1101-11) was threatened frequently by the rise of pretenders, and invasions on the part of his own brother Sussala. Ultimately he was murdered by a conspiracy among his trusted officials….Ultimately Sussala allied himself with Gargacandra and secured through his help the long coveted throne. In contrast to his elder brother he seems to have been personally brave, but rush, cruel and inconsiderate. His rule, A.D. 1112-28, was practically one long and disastrous struggle with the irrepressible Ḍāmaras and with dangerous pretenders. When Sussala, after much fighting and treachery had at last succeeded in destroying Gargacandra, the discontent of the Ḍāmaras broke out, in a great general rebellion. In Bhikṣācara, a grandson of Harṣa,who had been brought up abroad, they find the desired pretender. Sussala’s oppression and senseless cruelties increased their ranks, until they were strong enough to besiege the king in his capital. After a protracted defence during which the capital suffered severely, Sussala was obliged to flee to Lohara. Bhikṣācara was crowned in the capital and held nominal rule over Kāśmīr for a little over six months (A.D. 1120-21)….The eyes of the populace turned once more towards Sussala. After successfully repulsing a Kāśmīrian force which had been sent against Lohara, Sussala came back to Kāśmīr, and owing to the Ḍāmaras disunion, recovered the throne (A.D. 1121).

During the following seven years civil war continued almost without interruption……Finally, in 1128, Sussala, fell a victim to a murderous plot which he had himself started for the destruction of his rival. His son Jayasiṃha who succeeded him, found the Ḍāmaras as strong as ever and Bhikṣācara ready to march into Śrīnagar.The means by which he gradually secured a footing and restored at least a semblance of royal authority, were not the reckless valour of his father, but comprise with feudal grandees and Macchiavellian cunning. For two years after his accession the danger from Bhikṣācara continued until the brave pretender was treacherously entrapped and killed in a frontier castle. Scarcely had this enemy been put out of the way, when a successful conspiracy placed the ancestral castle and territory of Lohara in the hands of a new pretender, Loṭhana, a brother of Salhaṇa…..Though Lohara was ultimately retaken through treachery, Loṭhana and Mallārjuna, another pretender, continued to harass Kāśmīr for years…. When at last Mallārjuna had been captured (A.D. 1135), the exhausted country seems to have obtained a respite from its troubles and sufferings. This was not to last long. In the year 1143 we find Jayasiṃha confronted again by dangerous rivals. Bhoja, the new pretender, a son of Salhaṇa, obtained powerful allies in the Darads, the northern neighbours of Kāśmīr…… Ultimately Jayasiṃha’s diplomacy scored a success by a peaceful pact with Bhoja (A.D. 1145). But Kalhaṇa’s narrative shows plainly that the forces of internal strife and disruption which had crippled the unfortunate country ever since the time of Harṣa were by no means spent when he wrote his chronicle.’

Stein, M.A., Rājataraṅgiṇī, vol. I, Introduction, pages 15-17

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