After long we spoke to Sharada. She mentioned reading our note on lolimbarAja. She described her own little walk through medieval Hindu history in relationship to the development of medicine. She mentioned that her father had a couple of medical manuscripts, one of which was attributed to the TAkarAja madanapAla. It was called the madanavinoda. It is apparently a typical Hindu nighaNTu that contains synonyms and properties of different oShadhi-s and other medicinal substances. Sharada brought up the fascinating historical puzzle of the TAkarAja-s. They were apparently great patrons of brAhmaNa-s and Hindu learning, who by their own records ruled a small principality in kAShTA on the banks of the yamunA [to the north of Delhi]. The last verse of the madanavinoda states that it was completed on the date corresponding to Monday 8th Jan 1375 CE. Sharada was puzzled by the fact how could a patron of brAhmaNa-s and a Hindu state exist in this place at this date?

Investigations in this direction are first confounded by the puzzle of where exactly is kAShTa. Apparently some people thought it might kAShTamaNDapa (Kathmandu) in Nepal given that it was a safe Hindu haven in this period even as the turuShka-s were raging in and around Delhi. But this seems unlikely because the TAkaraja-s mention being on the bank of the yamunA and nobody has ever mentioned a yamunA near Kathmandu (to the best of my knowledge). The other candidate, the one preferred by Sharada, is modern Kathgodam. Her own family had some connections with this region in the distant past. There is also ample evidence that it was a fertile Hindu haven and the local kings were able to fend off Islamic takeover well until the Mogol period. This is supported by the survival of several Hindu temples to date in this region. One of the TAkarAja-s who composed a Sanskrit-Prakrit poem mentions that their family worshiped kedAra—this is consistent with their location in a Himalayan station like Kathgodam. This Himalayan location is also consistent with the mention of the TAka-s in connection to Kashmirian history by kalhaNa in the rAjataramgiNi. The only catch with this hypothesis is that Kathgodam is not on the yamunA. It is instead on a river called gaula that does not joint the yamunA either. Thus, while an attractive candidate we are left with the same problem as Kathmandu. This finally leaves us with two obscure villages in the vicinity of Mirat (Meerut), namely Kathauli and perhaps Kithaur –geographically more apt, but somewhat underwhelming for being the seat of the TAkarAja-s. One point of note in this regard is the fact that the record of the invasion of Timur-i-leng mentions a strong Hindu resistance in this region. This is consistent with the presence of a Hindu stronghold quite close to the heart of the Delhi Sultanate.
The literary activity in the TAkarAja court that we were able to gather:
madanapArijAta: A work on dharma based on mAnava dharma shAstra by brAhmaNa guNAkara vishveshvara bhaTTa.
Ata~NkadarpaNa: A medical work based on mAdhavanidAna by vAchaspati, father of vishveshvara.
tithinirNayasAra: A calenderical work of vishveshvara bhaTTa.
smR^iti-kaumudI: A general dharma-shAstra work by vishveshvara.
madanavinoda: The medical nighaNTu work composed by king madanapAla with assistance from vishveshvara.
vAsanArNava: A work of king madanapAla on construction of gnomons, some trigonometry, and Hindu cosmography and calender.
Yantra-prakAsha: A work by madanapAla on construction of time-keeping devices, astrolabes, and devices to measure planetary longitudes.
mahArNava: Apparently a medical treatise composed by vishveshvara jointly with mAndhAtar, the younger son of madanapAla.
shishurakShAratna: A pediatric treatise composed by pR^ithivimalla, the elder son of madanapAla.
rasaratnapradIpa: A rasAyana text composed by rAmarAja, a descendent of madanapAla.
bhAvashataka: A Sanskrit-Prakrit puzzle poem by nAgarAja, an ancestor of madanapAla.

So the obscure TAkarAja-s appear to have been rather active in upholding Hindu learning in North India right in the midst of the turuShka incubus over quite a reasonable stretch of time in medieval India. We observe that madanapAla took on the title abhinava-bhoja, just like another more famous and mighty ruler from southern India, kR^iShNa-deva-rAya of vijayanagara. Thus, the inspiration of the great bhojadeva paramAra did seem to linger on amongst great and small kings keeping alive the Hindu spark even in the declining years.

~ by mAnasa-taraMgiNI on October 5, 2008.

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