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Information Digest
Volume 2
January 2001

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Lalla-Ded Educational and Welfare Trust

Table of Contents

Lalla-Ded Educational Trust
Project Zaan
Information Digest - Vol. 2

Har-van

History

(In the History chapter of Information Digest Vol: 1, brief sketch of some of the famous rulers have been given. We continue to give brief Information about other famous rulers in  this issue and the subsequent issues.)

Ashoka (273-232 B.C.)

Kalhana mentions the name of Ashoka as a King of Kashmir. Inspite of some discrepancy in his chronology, all historians including Stein, are unanimous that the Ashoka of Kashmir History is the emperor of Maghda, whose dominion extended eastwards to Bengal and westwards to Hindukush.

When Buddhism became the state religion under Ashoka, Kashmir was one of the first regions to receive his attention for introduction of Buddhism. It could be because Gautama Buddha is reported to have said that Kashmir is the best place for meditation and leading a religious life. So soon after the Buddhist council at Patliputra, Ashoka introduced Buddhism in Kashmir.

Both Heun-Tsang and Ou-Kong conf.mp3 that Ashoka took with him 5000 monks to Kashmir. He built numerous viharas for them and when he finally returned to his capital, he made a gift of the whole Valley to the Sangha, considering it the fittest place for the study and propagation of the Doctrine.

The learned Pandits of Kashmir imbued with a spirit of tolerance, received the canon with due respects and after studying it, gave it a new interpretation suiting the times and aspirations of the people.

Kalhana says:  a) Ashoka founded his capital Shri Nagri, stretching from Harwan to Pandrethan, about 5 kms. to the South of the present city. He is said to have built 96000 dwelling houses. b) Ashoka built Viharas and Stupas particularly in the vicinity of Suskletra (Hukh Litr) and Vitastra (Vethavatru). The Stupa at the latter place was so high that the eye could not see the extent of its height. c) Ashoka was the benefactor of the ancient shrine of Vijayeshwara at Bijbehara. He built a stone wall around the temple after dismantlling the stucco enclosure. He also built two Shiva temples known as Ashkeshwara within this enclosure. He is said to have worshipped Shiva Bhutasea at the shrine of H.mp3ukhganga. These facts amply show that he also respected religions other than Buddhism.

Ashoka died in about 232 B.C. after 40 years of rule. His son, Jalauka appears to have become independent in Kashmir after his father’s death. He was an ardent devotee of Shiva, but friendly to the Buddhists.

Ashoka is said to have improved the administrative structure of Kashmir. He increased the number of officers and entrusted them with specific responsibilities.

Kanishka (Around 100 A.D.)

Kalhana mentions names of three Turuska rulers, Huska, Juska and Kanishka. He says that they ruled Kashmir simultaneously. Kaniskapur (Kanispur, Baramulla), Huskapur (Ushkur, Baramulla) and Juskapur were founded by Kanishka, Hushka and Juska respectively. The identity of Kanishka with the great Kushan or Indo-Scythian ruler of North Western India is well established.

Huska built a Vihara and a Stupa at Huskapur. Heun-Tsang is said to have spent his first night after arrival in the Valley, in this Vihara.

Kanishka was the most famous of the Kushans. He ruled over the north-west of India and central Asia. His authority had its nucleus in Kashmir, but it extended to both sides of the Himalayas from Yarkand and Khotan to Agra and Sindh. At the beginning of his reign, he was not a Buddhist. He adopted the creed ‘perhaps due to the influence of Kashmirian monks.’

Kanishka held the third Buddhist Conference in Kashmir. For this purpose, he built residential monastries for the brethren to reside. The Council met in Srinagar, believed to have been held at Kundalvan. (Bamzai suggests it could be at Kuntilum on the spur of Zabarwan hill.)

Heun-Tsang found and studied the records of its proceedings maintained in different libraries. He states that the Council was attended by nearly 500 selected ‘deserving monk scholars’ from outside Kashmir, besides a large number of Kashmiri scholars. Prominent scholars included Vasmitra, the President of the Council, Asvagasha and Nagarjuna.

Kanishka’s Council sat for six months and composed voluminous and elaborate commentaries in 1,00,000 Sanskrit stanzas. The proceedings were engraved on copper plates. They were enclosed in stone boxes and buried for the posterity. They are still to be found.

Kanishka’s Council marks the beginning of a new epoch in the history of Buddhism. Mahayana Doctrine (of Buddhism) was born as a result of the deliberations at this Council. Mahayanist doctrine was given a superior status. This doctrine may rightly be said to be a gift from the Kashmiri Brahmins to Buddhism.

As a result of this Council, there burst forth enthusiastic missionary spirit among Kashmiris who carried the religion to China and the intervening tracts of central Asia. Kashmiri scholars of Buddhism are credited to have carried the Doctrine to the north and east (Tibet, Korea, Japan, Java etc.) at different points of time.

Kanishka’s successors :  It is possible that Kanishka’s sons Vaiska and Huviska acted as viceroys in succession, but it appears that Vaiska pre-deceased his father who was succeeded by Huviska, who died in 140 A.D. His son Vasudeva, also known as Jasuka succeeded him. With his death in 178 A.D., Kushan rule in Kashmir came to an end. The dynasty continued to rule Kabul and the Punjab till Huns defeated them in the 15th century.

Lalitaditya (724-761 A.D.)

Lalitaditya, the third son of the Karakota king Partapaditya II, succeeded his brother Tarapida in 724 A.D. His mother was the mistress of a rich merchant. Attracted by her beauty , Partapaditya married her. (Kalhana says the marriage was a result of their mutual consent and the agreement of the merchant.) Being the third son of an able ruler, he is expected to have undergone a thorough schooling in the art of statecraft. Known as a tireless warrior, he desired to conquer the whole world. Undoubtedly, he asserted his power far beyond Kashmir and the adjoining territories.

Lalitaditya’s conquests:
He had an efficient, brave, dedicated and faithful .mp3y, mostly recruited from the north. His Commander-in-Chief  Cankunya, was born and trained in the north. According to Kalhana, he was from Tukhara. His campaigns were:
  With Punjab and Kangra already under his control, he marched against Kanauj, which was ruled by Yesov.mp3an. He marched across the plains without any resistance and brought Kanauj under his direct control after dethroning Yesov.mp3an. From Kanauj, he marched eastwards and reduced Jivatagupta, the ruler of Bihar and Bengal, to his vassalage. Continuing his march, he reached the coast of Orrisa. With the assistance of a local princess, he crossed into the Deccan, befriended Chalukas and overran Rashtrakuta territory. On his way back, he passed through Gujrat, Kathiawar, Malwa and Mewar, without the slightest resistance. After subduing the kings of India, he led his .mp3y through Dard Desha (Dardistan) to Tukara (Tukharistan) country. He led an expedition against Tibet and atleast subdued Ladakh and the western provinces of Tibet. Lalitaditya returned home after 12 years campaign by way of Tibet.
 

Lalitaditya as Builder:
Lalitaditya must be regarded as the founder of not only a short lived empire but also of six centuries of Kashmir art. He along with his queens, ministers including his commander-in chief, Cankunya and high state officials built numerous villages and towns to commemorate his many victories. Most of them are not traceable now. He is credited to have built Parantosa (modern Poonch), Phalapora, a village near Shadipora, Lalitapora (Latapora), Lokpuna (Lokbhawan on Anantnaag-Verinaag road) and Parihaaspora near Shadipur. Parihaspora was his capital.

Lalitaditya built Martand temple (Sun temple), the most important and the finest work of ancient Kashmir architecture, and Parihaaspora temples. He built four Vishnu temples and a Buddha Stupa / Vihara. Kalhana gives their names as Parihaskeshava, Muktakeshava, Mahavaraha, Govardhanadara and Rajavihara. He installed silver images in the first and fourth, a golden image in the second and an image clad in golden .mp3our, in the third. He installed a copper statue of Buddha in the fifth.

In Parihaspora, Lalitaditya erected a stone pillar 54 hands tall and put a representation of Garuda on its top. He built Vishnu temples at Lalitapur (Latapur) and Hushkapur (Ushkur). At Hushkapur, he also built a Buddhist Vihara and a Stupa. The Chinese traveller Ou-Kong stayed in this Vihara.

Lalitaditya was a benevolent king and did not neglect works of public good. The following are worth mention:- As a fore-runner of Avantiv.mp3an, Lalitaditya got rocks and silt removed from the river bed at Baramulla, to increase the flow of river as an anti-flood measure. He reclaimed vast swamps, raised bunds round the low lying land, to bring more land under cultivation. He made five irrigation canals. He erected water wheels for lifting water to Chakardara and other plateaus. He is said to have builts a huge cauldron from which 1,00,000 people could be fed daily. He established charitable institutions.
Lalitaditya’s greatness is depicted by the following:-

He showed extreme sense of toleration to the religious beliefs of his subjects. He had profound respect for both Hinduism and Buddhism. He patronised both. He patronised scholars and men of learning. He brought two famous poets Bhavabhuti and Vitapatiraja from Kanauj after Yesov.mp3an’s defeat and gave them seats of respect in his court. He accorded human treatment to the vanquished people.

Lalitaditya yearned for some more conquests and left for central Asia. Kashmirians besought him to return. He refused to come back, but sent them maxims of policy for the guidance of his successors.

Kalhana mentions two legends about Lalitaditya’s death. One, he died in excessive snow in Aryanaka (modern Afganistan) and second that he committed suicide to escape being caught.

Avantiv.mp3an (855-883 A.D.)

Avantiv.mp3an was the first king of the Utpala dynasty. He was crowned in 855 A.D. The kingdom at that time was in chaos and economic distress as a result of misrule and internal troubles during the preceding reigns. He therefore did not indulge in vain glorious expeditions outside the Valley. He adopted and followed a policy of peace and development. It ushered in a period of consolidation and prosperity, which in turn ensured rise of Kashmir in the realms of philosophy, art and letters. He was guided by his able and wise prime minister Sura. Some of his contributions / achievements are :-
  He founded and built Avantipur on the right bank of Vitasta, 27 kms. from Srinagar, where ruins of his two temples (A Shiva temple and a Vishnu temple) still exist. His minister Sura built a temple at Surasvariksetra at Ishber, on the eastern bank of the Dal Lake. Sura built a town near Shopian and his wife and sons also followed his example. It shows economic prosperity of the times. Avantiv.mp3an liberally patronised scholars and poets. Bhatta Kallata, Ravi Ratnakara and Anandavardhana are some of the famous names. Their work in Sanskrit, on philosophy, religion, poetic aesthetics etc. are still existing. His reign was the glorious period of Kashmirian art and culture. He willingly encouraged and generously financed Suyya to:

a) Regulate course of the Vitasta
b) Accelrate flow of the river
c) Drain the Valley
d) Reclaim submerged land after draining the marshes
e) Raise embankments wherever needed
f) Construct a network of irrigation canals
As a result of this, cultivation was increased and recurring floods were controlled. The price of rice is said to have fallen from Dinnars 200 to Dinnars 36 per Khirwar.
  • Kalahana praises Avantiv.mp3an for his constant concern for his subjects, whom he helped learn various arts and crafts. He is reputed to be caring for human rights. During his reign, Kashmir enjoyed respite from natural and man-made calamities. Listening to the end, the recitation of the Bhagvadgita, Avantiv.mp3an passed away in June 883 A.D.

An anecdote: Avantiv.mp3an was highly sensitive and endowed with sharp common sense. He was a cultured human being and a just ruler. Here is a story about his way of working. Avantiv.mp3an had good relations with his minister Sura, who knew his mind and was very faithful to him. Sura had a friend, a Damra, Dhanava by name. The latter, exploiting his friendship with Sura, had forcibly taken over the control of villages attached to the temple at Bhutesa, reducing the priests to utter poverty. Once Avantiv.mp3an went to worship at Bhutesa. Here, he noticed some wild utpalashaka (Upalhak) at the base of the god’s image. He was shocked at the humble offering. When he learnt about the reasons of the poverty and helplessness of the priests, he left the worship, feigning indisposition, but without telling anything to Sura. However, Sura smelt it, enquired into the matter, summoned Dhanava, beheaded him and restored the villages to the Shrine. He went to enquire about the health of the king. Avantiv.mp3an said that he was well and resumed his worship. He did not make any complaint to his minister. A magnanimous act!
 

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