Who was Aramudi?

Was Aramudi a Magar? Need for Scholarly Researches through Magars’ Lens
SB Pun, Magar Studies Center, Journal Shodhmala, Volume 8, No. 9
January 2015, (Magh, 2071)


Aramudi in Kalhan’s Rajatarangini:

The Kashmiri historian, Kalhan, lived in the middle of the 12th century AD when the once powerful Kashmir Kings were very much on the wane. He was, in fact, a contemporary of the last Kashmir king. Kalhan’s celebrated Rajatarangini, A Chronicle of the Kings of Kasmir, is a five hundred years’ historical record of the Kashmir Kings from the 7th/8th century AD. According to MA Stein , the British scholar who in the late 19th century translated Kalhan’s Rajatarangini, King Jayapida ruled Kashmir in the ‘years AD 751 – 782 but in all probability fell much closer to the end of the eighth century, few authentic details seem to have been recorded.’ King Jayapida expanded his empire conquering large parts of northern and central India. During his territorial expansion, King Jayapida was, however, defeated and even captured by Aramudi in a battle on the bank of the river ‘Kala Gandak’. Dr. Dilli Raman Regmi quotes Kalhan’s following Rajatarangini verses, as translated by RS Pandit, to provide a vivid and enlightening description of the Jayapida versus Aramudi battle fought over 1200 years ago:

The Raja named Aramudi, skilled in magic, protector of Nepal, endowed with the arts of peace and war planned to over-reach him(531).
When Jayapida entered his principality he did not make his submission but retired from before him to a great distance with his army(532).
Thus, it was that he, who was ambitious to conquer, inflicted, while in pursuit of Aramudi, defeats on the various ruling princes which would have necessitated special efforts to achieve (533).
He was occasionally visible just like to the hawk the pigeon in the thicket (534).

At this time on the further bank of the river on the right of the king was found posted Aramudi displaying his army with the emblem of his own parasol (537).
Seeing his powerful army which resounded with the rattle of massed kettle drums, Jayapida flared up like fire which was absorbed melted butter (538).
He, on seeing that the river water, which was knee deep, was no impediment, in his anger, plunged in to cross, unacquainted with the terrain as he was from never having been before (539).
When the king had reached the middle, the river was filled by the rising tide and unexpectedly became unfathomably deep with the waters (540).
The king’s army teeming with men, elephants and horses sinking in the river, which was rising in the manner, in a trice came to an end (541).
The king, whose ornaments and clothes were torn off in the rushing waves, penetrated the waves with his arms and carried off far by the flood waters (542).
With the pitiful shrieks of the one army, the triumphant shouts of the other and with the roar of the waves of the river, the direction became full of tumult (543).
The enemy made haste and with armed men on inflated skins, he drew out Jayapida from the midst of the river and took him prisoner and held a feast (544)
his confidence (546).
Thus the Kashmiri king was once more submerged in adversity and, puzzled as to what should be done, was consumed by concealed sorrow (547).

Together with fortune of Jayapida, I shall deliver to you the throne of the king of Kashmir, thus through the emissaries, Aramudi heard the message (553)
When upon the arrival of the emissaries of the opposite side, the agreement was complete (554).

Who was Aramudi?

This, then, is the fascinating account by a Kashmiri historian about how his own powerful King Jayapida suffered an ignominious defeat on the bank of Kala Gandak at the hands of an obscure Aramudi. Now who was this Aramudi? According to Dr. KP Jayaswal, Aramudi in Kashmiri means a monk and hence identified him as Varadeva of Bendall’s chronicle. This chronicle relates a story about Varadeva’s life of renunciation as a monk and Jayaswal conveniently concluded that the above fight was between Varadeva and Jayapida. On the other hand, Professor Sylvian Levi, along with MA Stein, believed Aramudi was a Tibetan King as Aramudi is a Tibetan word. This was vehemently refuted by Dr. DR Regmi who believed that Professor Levi suffered from that ‘innate prejudice to give credence to anything glorifying Tibet.’ Both Regmi and Stein state that the name Aramudi does not appear in the traditional lists of Nepal Rajahs. In fact, Regmi finds this very strange – a name so eloquently appearing in Rajatarangini and yet traced nowhere in Nepal’s history.

Regmi believed that ‘Aramudi in all possibility was a king of the Gandak region. He might act as well as a ruler of a native dynasty of Magars. The Magar vocabulary might provide a clue to the meaning of the word Aramudi in its historical setting. But scholars with a competent knowledge of linguistics and Indo-Mongloid dialects are needed for the task.’ There is, thus, the task for the Magars to delve into this Aramudi issue in an impartial and scholarly manner. Aramudi now needs to be researched through the Magars’ lens. We have seen above how Jayaswal and Levi through their lens interpret Aramudi as a Kashmiri and Tibetan respectively. Regmi, however, has thrown the gauntlet to the Magars that as the battle was fought on the bank of Kala Gandak, Magarat, the land of Magars, Aramudi could very well be a Magar!
Aramudi Need to be Researched through Magars’ Lens:

The call for Aramudi to be studied through the Magars’ lens is eloquently illustrated by the following translations of the same Rajatarangini verses by RS Pandit and MA Stein:

(531) The Raja named Aramudi, skilled in magic, protector of Nepal, endowed with the arts of peace and war planned to over-reach him. RS Pandit

531. King Aramudi, who ruled Nepal, and who was possessed of wisdom and prowess, wished to prevail over him by cunning. MA Stein

(541) The king’s army teeming with men, elephants and horses sinking in the river, which was rising in the manner, in a trice came to an end. RS Pandit

541. Then the king’s army, with its mass of men, elephants and horses, was washed away by the swollen river, and destroyed in a moment. MA Stein

(554) When upon the arrival of the emissaries of the opposite side, the agreement was complete. RS Pandit

554. When an agreement had been arrived at, on the arrival of the envoys sent in return [by Aramudi], the minister, accompanied by an army, proceeded to the land of Nepal. MA Stein
It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One can see that the above three same verses of Rajatarangini are translated differently by Pandit and Stein. Whereas Pandit viewed Aramudi as the protector of Nepal, Stein saw him as the ruler of Nepal. One can draw a fine line between the protector and ruler of Nepal. Pandit’s translation of ‘men, elephant and horses sinking in the river which was rising’ is not as easy to understand as Stein’s ‘mass of men, elephants and horses was washed away by the swollen river’. Similarly, while Pandit translated ‘[Aramudi] was occasionally visible just like to the hawk the pigeon in the thicket’, Stein translated that same verse in a more difficult manner as ‘sometimes kept in hiding and sometimes showed himself, in pursuit from land to land, as the eagle [pursues] the dove in the thicket.’ Pandit’s hawk and pigeon get transformed into eagle and dove in Stein. These examples are illustrated merely to stress the need for Aramudi to be researched through the Magars’ lens. JC Dutt, who translated Rajatarangini into English, commented in March 1887 that Kalhan’s love for alliteration and artistic styles clouded many of his passages, making them difficult to translate. Dutt, however, was of the opinion that though the materials were meager and incomplete, Kalhan’s historical records are generally correct.

Aramudi’s Ignominious End:

563. When the clever [minister] had obtained the consent of the duped [Aramudi], he went to the imprisoned King Jayapida. MA Stein

579. As soon as he had reached his army, he at once invaded the kingdom of Nepal and destroyed it completely, together with its ruler. MA Stein

The clever minister, who came from Kashmir to rescue his King Jayapida and skillfully duped Aramudi, was Devasarman. The faithful Devasarman killed himself so that the imprisoned Jayapida could jump from his stone building imprisonment into Kala Gandak and across the river floating on the dead minister’s body. Once free, a thoroughly bitter and angry Jayapida then invaded Nepal and destroyed it completely together with Aramudi. This massive destruction of Nepal and the fleeting victory of Aramudi, so faithfully documented by Rajatarangini, failed to be registered in Nepal’s chronicle.

The End

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