Aurel Stein
  The Sanskritist
  Manuscript Treasures
  Kashmiri Scholarship
  Interface of Scholarship
  The Adopted Home
  Unfinished Tasks
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Supported by:
  Heritage Lottery Fund, Cambridge.
  Bodelian Library, Oxford.
  Nityanand Shastri Library Collection, Delhi.
  Kashmir Bhavan Centre, Luton.
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The Motif of Rajatarangini
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The motif of Rajatarangini had three movements in the hands of Stein. The first was Sanskrit edition edited with Pandit Govind Kaul in 1892, second the Memoir of Ancient Geography of Kashmir in 1899 and, third was, the masterly two volume, Rajatarangini translated into English with introduction, commentary and appendices published in 1900. Aurel Stein dedicated it to the memory of his illustrious teacher Georg Buhler.

The Codex Archetypus or the original manuscript of the Rajatarangini contained all eight cantos of Kalhana’s poem. However no date was indicated in colophon of the manuscript but fortunately the writer of codex Pandit Ratnakantharajanaka had recorded his name.

Of this legendary scholar, Stein wrote, “The memory of Rajanakaratnakantha still lives in Kashmiri Pandit tradition as that of a great scholar and a fast writer. The latter fact accounts for the considerable number of manuscripts written by him which are still extant in Kashmirian libraries, both in and outside valley. His hand writing as it appears there with it its very cursive and peculiar characters presents unusual difficulties even to the practiced reader of Sharada writing. It seems to me very probable that Ratnakantha wrote his copy of the Rajatarangini at a comparatively advanced age and like the majority of his manuscripts chiefly for his own use”. Informed by his Pandit friends in illustration of the above tradition, Stein further wrote, “When Ratnakantha was a youth and still at school he used to write out the whole text which his teacher had expounded during a fortnight on the single day closing the Paksha which is a regular holiday of the orthodox Brahman instruction. He is credited with having been able habitually to write six hundered slokas per day. On one occasion, he is supposed to have accomplished even a greater feat. Resting during the middle of the day at Gambhirasamgama on a journey from Srinagar to Vijabror, Ratnakantha is believed to have presented to his companion with a copy of Bhagvad Gita which he had written while the latter had busied himself with a meal. Ratnakantha’s name in its Kashmiri form Ratha Razdan (Rajanaka) still lives in proverbial saying often heard among the Pandits, yim gai Ratha Razdani achhar(these are Ratha Razdan’s letters). It is used of hurried writing, difficult to read”.

Stein with the help of Kashmiri scholars made a diligent search in 1888-1889 with a view of discovering, if possible, an older manuscript of Rajatarangini which might prove independent of Ratnakantha’s codex but the endeavours produced no better results than Buhler’s effort in 1875. Thus all Kashmir manuscripts of Rajatarangini previewed by Stein were known to be recent transcripts from Ratnakantha’s codex. Among these copies were also those belonging to Pandit Balbhadra Razdan and Pandit Govind Kaul. Stein consulted these two manuscripts for reference on account of defective state of codex. The manuscript of Pandit Balbhadra Razdan contained 353 folios carefully written on modern paper. The other manuscript copied from the archetypus and which was in possession of Pandit Govind Kaul resembled in its appearance to Balbhadra Pandit’s manuscript.

Having completed the collation and authoritative version of Codex Archetypus with the help of Kashmiri scholars, Stein made a visit to Europe in the summer of 1890 and submitted the materials he had collected to his mentor, Professor Georg Buhler.

Buhler granted his valuable advice in all questions to the proposed edition of Rajatarangini. Equipped with best from Buhler’s advice and guidance, Stein returned to India in autumn of 1890 to proceed with the edition. But Stein conceded that correct comprehension of Kalhana’s text was unattainable without correct interpretations of Kashmiri topics and without the help of local Pandits.

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