Rajatarangini means ('River of Kings') the stories were written by Kalhana, a famous eleventh-century historian-poet. These bring to light the economic, political and social conditions of his time, and give interesting glimpses of life, including intrigues, in the royal court. Characters of the epics, such as Sri Krishna, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and many others find a place in the events. Handed down from generation to generation, these stories cover Kashmir's rich culture, traditions and beliefs. The selections from the classic work make a scintillating reading.
From the Book:
The beautiful land of Kashmir (a), encircled by the snow-clad Himalayas, watered by numerous sparkling springs and lakes, and lush with green vegetation, was born out of a lake.
Long, long ago, this Lake of Sati, as it was known, was charming with its clear water and bright lotuses. The gods often descended from the heaven to sit on its banks.
One day, the nagas (serpent deities of the lake) heard the cry of a newborn child. Rising from the depths of the water, they saw a baby floating on a lotus leaf in the middle of the lake. They gathered around it full of compassion.
"Let us rear this child," said one. "As he was born in the water, we will call him Jalodbhava (water-born)."
As years passed, the infant grew into a young man. "I am not satisfied with my life here," he told the nagas. "I will propitiate Lord Brahma and obtain a boon from him."
The nagas, who had nurtured him with loving care, were perturbed by his ambition. "Why are you discontented?" they asked. "Have we not given you everything you need?"
Jalodbhava was adamant. He left the lake and began a severe penance to please Brahma.
At long last, Brahma appeared before him. "I am pleased with you, Jalodbhava," he said. "What do you desire?"
Jalodbhava bowed before him. "Grant me three boons, O, Lord. I want immortality in the water, magical powers, and also unparalleled prowess."
"So be it," answered Brahma and vanished.
Jalodbhava returned home triumphantly.
Then followed a period of terror for the human beings who lived near the lake. Jalodbhava used magical and other means to trap and devour them. They were forced to flee in fear while he roamed fearlessly in the now-desolate land.
Jalodbhava harassed the nagas too till they left the lake and sought refuge with their king, Nila.
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