The Lokaprakasa of Ksemendra was first published by the Research Department of Jammu and Kashmir Government as Volume No. 75 in the Kashmir series of Texts and studies. It was edited by Jagaddhar Zadoo Shastri, with the help of the Board of Editors, which included Dr. S.N. Sharma Shastri and Sri Kanth Shastri.
A. Weber on the Lokaprakasa in 1898. 1. Bloch in 1914 translated it as a work of the 17th century referring to it as attributed to Ks emendra.
Zadoo had observed the need for future studies on the text. He himself wanted to undertake a critical study of it to be published separately as a Volume in the Kashmir Series of Texts and Studies. But, there have been no detailed and critical study of the text, except one by Dr. V.K. Singh in 1979. The research publication planned by Zadoo could not be completed.
The text has not received its due importance from scholars. The evidence of the text is not much referred to. In preparing the account of the social, economic and legal system of the seventeenth century the text has never been used. Even for the early medieval period it has suffered from neglect; the references to the text are casual and sporadic.
The reason for the disuse of the text lies mostly in the na.ure of the available text. The references to Muslim rulers of a later period and the occurrence of Persian and Kashmiri terms, coupled with ungramatical form, poor language and unintelligible terms and passages in a text, attributed to the erudite scholar Ksemendra of the eleventh century, are highly confusing, rendering the text of suspect value. The absence of a translation of the text, with introductory observations and explanatory notes about terms and expressions in it and its contents is not conducive to a proper use of the text.
The need has been strongly felt for a critical editing of the text, in which the readings are properly checked. In the available text there are large paragraphs, in which diverse topics are indiscriminately lumped together. A proper paragraphing on the basis of terms forming a group will help the reader.
M. Kaul, writing in 1929, did not refer to the Lokaprakasa in his chronological classification of the works of Ksemendra. Suryakant later (1954), and, following him, V.K. Singh (1979) mention it along with his Nrpavali in the fourth of the five phases of his compositions, implying thereby that it was the product of his mature scholarship.
Zadoo evidently following Bloch, holds that the present text was composed in the seventeenth century during the Mohammadan rule in Kashmir, as it refers to the Mughal emperor Shahjahan and the famous ruler Zainu-l-abidin of Kashmir. According to him, the text contains ‘ample useful material for the history, ethnography and the language of Kashmir of the times of Shah Jahan and Zainu-l-abidin’. He describes the text as ‘a guide book for every day transactions for people during the Mohammedan period in Kashmir in the 17th Century A.D.
The claim made in the text that it was composed by Ksemendra is not accepted by Zadoo. In his Foreword he refers to it as ‘ascribed to Ksemendra,. He explains the association of the name of Ksemendra with the text in two different ways. His first suggestion is that it was written by some one of the name of Ksemendra, who lived in Kashmir, when it was under the suzerainty of Shah Jahan or under the prosperous rule of Zainu-1-’abidin. Thus, Zadoo disassociates the text from the well known writer and author Ksemendra, who belonged to the eleventh century.
Secondly, Zadoo points our that, in contrast to the defective style and grammatically incorrect language characterising the nine-tenth of the Lokaprakasa, there are some beautiful Slokas and prose passages in it. He explains the latter as probably borrowed from the writings of Ksemendra, He further notes the fact that a good number of verses found in the Desopedese and Narmamala of Ksemendra, exaggerating the excesses of the scribes (kayasthas) during his time, are also met with in the present text. Zadoo hazards the guess that there was a hand book of legal documents in Sanskrit written by Ksemendra, which some shrewd petition writer of the seventeenth century 'strung together for the convenience of the document writers, facilitating their work by changing the language of high standard into one that was, though defective, ungrammatical and admixture of Kashmiri and Persian, in use in the offices and Law Courts of the then rulers'.
The explanations offered are not convincing. To imagine, without any suggestive indications, an anonymous Ksemendra in the seventeenth century is not a reasonable hazard. The occurrence of some of the known verses of Ksemendra, the celebrated author, in the present text, along with passages of a high literary merit will favour the attribution of the text to Ksemendra of the eleventh century.
The literary merit of many verses as also prose passages, found alike in the four prakasas, along with the criticism of kayasthas, vaidyas and fake religious teachers argue in favour of the authorship of Ksemendra. An analysis of the terms, including official designations, will provide indications that the text was composed in Kashmir in the eleventh century. To illustrate, we may refer to the term divira. It has been traced first in the Khoh Copper Plate Inscription (A.D. 496) of King Jayanatha of the Uccakalpa dynasty. Kalhana refers to divira. Ksemendra attacks the mean conduct of diviras and their many categories in his Narmamala and Desopedess. The diviras do not find such wide treatment in other works.
The text cannot be described as a mere collection of legal documents. Buhler referred to it as a lexicon. It has a definite scope, purpose and structure. It has a wider scope. Some parts of it are in the form of a lexicon, in which the terms are recorded in a number of ways. In connection with terms relating to State and officers, those for a scribe and has profession, including various types of documents, are listed. The specimens of documents are found only in Prakasas II and IV. There arc: many other topics in the text, such as cosmography, world geography, divisions of Kashmir, and riddles (anyoktis). The text partakes of the nature of an encyclopedia. For our purposes we may refer to it as a compendium ofterminology and documents, with passages dealing with cosmography, geography of Kashmir, the profession of a scribe, and witnesses.
In any case it is difficult to demonstrate, with the help of independent evidence, that the legal documents in the text had any practical utility. After the establishment of Muslim rule Persian language and definite forms of documents came into vogue. We have to offer an explanation for the presence of features associated with the seventeenth century.
The difficulty is created by the ungrammatical forms and poor literary expression at many places. This is accompanied by the presence of Muslim names, Persian terms, and Kashmiri words. But, this does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that the whole text was a composition of the seventeenth century.