Harsha of Kashmir

Harsha Of Kashmir

Harsha of Kashmir

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Harsha (ruled AD 1089-1111) was a king of Kashmir who is frequently mentioned because of his unusual conduct. William Dalrymple in a review of The Buddha and the Sahibs by Charles Allen published in The Guardian writes:

"It was because of this persecution, several centuries before the arrival of Islam, that the philosophy of the Buddha, once a serious rival to Hinduism, virtually disappeared from India: Harsha Deva, a single Kashmiri raja, for example boasted that he had destroyed no less than 4,000 Buddhist shrines."

According to Kalhana Harsha was built like a god and was extremely handsome. Harsha's conduct has recently been a subject of discussion. Harsha started out as a capable and noble king, then ran into financial trouble because of his spending habits. For the gold, he started raiding temples and destroying statues.

From Contemporary Text: Rajatarangini

Kalhana's Rajatarangini gives an interesting account of Harsha. Note that Kalhana's father Champaka was a minister of Harsha. Kalhana wrote during the time of Jayasimha (AD 1127-59).

He destroyed both Hindu and Buddhist temples, and is credited with creating an office of "devotpaatana-nayaka", destroyer of gods. In Kalhana's time, Buddhism was flourishing in Kashmir, and was not considered a distinct religion from "Hinduism". He refers to Buddhists' idols just like Brahmnaical ones. Kalhana was very familiar with Buddhism, and mentions...
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