The lineage of several rulers of ancient and medieval India is traced to Yadu. These include Lord Shri Krishna, as well as historical rulers such as King Porus, who fought
Alexander the Great in the Battle of the Hydaspes River. As Raghav (Raghuvanshi) of Suryavansha, The Yaduvanshi is one of the sub-divisions of Chandravanshi Rajputs.
King Porus with Alexander thr Great
Ancient Yadav Kingdoms
The rulers of the following kingdoms of ancient India traced their lineage to Yadu:
* Seuna Yadavas of Devagiri-Rulers of whole of Maharastra, Part of MP & part of Karanatka
* Surasena Kingdom
* Vidarbha Kingdom
* Dwaraka Kingdom
* Kunti Kingdom
* Saurashtra Kingdom
* Heheya Kingdom
* Nishadha Kingdom
* Gurjara Kingdom
* Karusha Kingdom
* Chedi Kingdom
* Dasarna Kingdom
* Avanti Kingdom
* Malava Kingdom
* Anarta Kingdom
* Youdheya Kingdom
* Vijaya Nagara Kingdom
Name of few Ahir Kings
Madhuriputra (mingled with rajputs)
Ishwarsena (Western Deccan)
Indranigupta (a.k.a Sudraka)
Jaya Gupta (Nepal)
Param Gupta (Nepal)
Harsha Gupta (Nepal)
Bhim Gupta (Nepal)
Vishnu Gupta (Nepal)
Jaya Gupta II (Nepal)
Yaksha Gupta (Nepal)
Vishva Gupta (Nepal)
Bhumi Gupta (Nepal)
Jishnu Gupta (Nepal, His inscription reads Kshatriya of the Lunar Dynasty, Somavansa Bhushana)
Ra Mandalika (Ruler of Somnath)
Scholars, such as Robert Sewell, believe that the rulers of Vijayanagara Empire were Kurubas (also known as Yadavas). Some early inscriptions, dated 1078 and 1090, have implied that the Hoysalas of Mysore were also the descendants of the original Yadava clan, by referring to the Yadava vansa (clan) as Hoysala vansa.
Ruins of Vijayanagar Empire-World Heritage Sites
J.N. Singh Yadav, a famous historian, gives the following account in his Yadav's Through The Ages, “The Hoysalas ruled illustriously for over three centuries and have left in the country imperishable monuments of art and culture. They were family of kings who ruled over practically the whole of the Kannada country at the height of their power. They scheduled the hill tribes known as Malepas in the Western Ghats and they assumed the title 'Maleparoleganda'. The account of their origin can be traced in some of their inscriptions. They claimed Sosevura (Sasakapura of Sanskrit writers) as their birthplace.
This place has been identified with Angadi of Mudigere Taluk in chikamanglura district. It has been mentioned as the seen of the incident between Sala and the tiger. When Sala,' an ornament of the Yaduvamsa' (Yaduvamsojvala tilakan) was worshiping the goddess Vasantike of Sasakapura, a tiger came from the forest. The holiman Sodutta, who was there, gave him his fan saying 'Poysala' (Strike, Sala). Sala killed the tiger. From that time the name of Poysala become the designation of the Yadava kings (E.C. VOL. VI, Cm. 20.). Almost the same account, though differing in certain details, is found in many of their inscriptions. According to another version, when Sala was hunting along the slopes of the Sahya mountains (or the Western
Ghats), he was astonished to see a hare (SKt. Sasa) pursuing a tiger, while he was walking alone saying to himself, 'this is heroic soil', a holy muni near by, being afraid of the tiger, called out 'Poy-Sala' and before it could proceed the length of a span Sala slew it with his sword (E.C., VOL. V, PART I B1. 171.). It is after this incident that the place came to be known as Sasakapura.
The founder of the Wodeyar dynasty, Vijaya, also claimed descent from the Yadu and took on the name Yadu-Raya. They ruled South India from Mysore. Mysore Palace is one of the beautiful landmark of the country. On the main Gate of Mysore palace, please see Lord Krishna's deity. According to S.C. Raychoudhary (author of Social, Cultural and Economic History of India), a noted historian, "The Pandya kingdom generally associated with the Pandus of the Mahabarata covered the districts of Madura and Tinnivelly as well as certain portions of south Travancore."
Dr. V. Manickam in his path-breaking work Kongu Nadu gives an expanded version of his doctoral thesis submitted to the university of Madras as follows, "It was noted that the pastoral people (Ayar) of the mullai land in Kongu formed the major component of the Vellalar community of the medieval period. It is Dr. V. Manickam thesis that the Vellalar of Kongu were nothing but the pastoral people of Kongu, of course,with some additions (p 553). However, We come across references to Idaiyar of Kiranur, alias Kolumam Konda Cholanallur (SII : 5:283), Kon from the same place (SII : 5: 265,267,269), and Yatavar in two epigraphs from Chevur (Eye Copy 94,98). Further, there are also references to Tiruvayappadi nattar, which indicate the supra-local activities of the herdsmen discussed in chapter 15. The presence of the herdsmen, with the titles as found in the macro region, may be explained as survivors of the pastoral people of the pre-chola period who were reluctant to integrate themselves in the new setup or new additions.
Trikuta Hill under Yaduvanshi king
Rawal Jaisal laid the foundation stone of Jaisalmer in 1156 A.D. He hailed from the Yaduvanshi Rajput kin group. The city has an interesting legend associated with it, according to which, Lord Krishna, the head of the Yadav Clan, foretold Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers of the Mahabharata that a remote descendent of the Yadav Clan would build his kingdom atop the Trikuta Hill. His prophecy was fulfilled in 1156 AD when Rawal Jaisal, abandoned his fort at Lodurva and founded a new capital Jaisalmer, perched on the Trikuta Hill. However, historical facts contradicts this claim, because Trikuta Hill is actually near Deccan, a range of hills bordering Nashik, where one Abhira dynasty, Traikuta, directly claiming descent from ancient Haihai Yadav King, Nala, in 5th century A.D., had built kingdom on original Trikuta Hill, and hence assumed the title Traikuta.
The name of the State of Haryana may have been derived from its ancient inhabitants: Abhirayana. The name `Abhira` may stem from a-bhira meaning fearless, i.e Yadav.
Yadav dominated areas in National Capital Region (NCR) includes Gurgaon, Manesar, Behror, Bawal, Dharuhera, Pataudi, Bhiwadi, Badshahpur, Kosli, Alwar and Rewari.
Jijabai- The mother of Shivaji blessing him
The great Maratha King Shivaji and his mother Jijabai was a Yadav.
Major cities of Famous Chandravanshi Kings
Champapura in Bhagalpur was founded by Sahasra Arjuna, of the Haihaya tribe. This was Mahishmati on the Nerbudda, still existing in Maheswar. The rivalry between the Lunar race and that of the Suryas of Ayodhya, in whose aid the priesthood armed, and expelled Sahasra Arjuna from Mahishmati, has been mentioned. A small branch of these ancient Haihayas yet exist in the line of the Nerbudda, near the very top of the valley at Sohagpur, in Baghelkhand, aware of their ancient lineage; and, though few in number, are still celebrated for their valour.
Kusasthali Dwarka, the capital of Krishna, was founded prior to Prayag, to Surpur, or Mathura. The Bhagavat purana attributes the foundation of the city to Anrita, the brother of Ikshwaku, of the Solar race, but states not how or when the Yadus became possessed thereof.
The ancient annals of the Jaisalmer family of the Yadu or Jadon stock give the priority of foundation to Prayag, next to Mathura, and last to Dwarka. All these cities are too well known to require description; especially Prayag, at the confluence of the Yamuna and Ganges. The Prasioi were the descendants of Puru's of Prayag, visited by Megasthenes, ambassador of Seleucus, and the principal city of the Yadus, ere it sent forth the four branches from Satwata. At Prayag resided the celebrated Bharat, the son of Sakuntala.
We are assured by Alexander's historians that the country and people round Mathura, when he invaded India, were termed Surasenoi. There are two princes of the name of Sursen in the immediate ancestry of Krishna ; one his grandfather, the other eight generations anterior Which of these founded the capital Surpur,1 whence the country and inhabitants had their appellation, we cannot say Mathura and Cleisobara are mentioned by the historians of Alexander as the chief cities of the Surasenoi. Though the Greeks sadly disfigure names, we cannot trace any affinity between Cleisobara and Surpur.
The city of Hastinapur was built by Hastin a name celebrated in the Lunar dynasties. The name of this city is still preserved on the Ganges, about forty miles south of Hardwar where the Ganges breaks through the Shiwalik mountains and enters the plains of India. This mighty stream, rolling its masses of waters from the glaciers of the Himalaya, and joined by many auxiliary streams, frequently carries destruction before it. In one night a column of thirty feet in perpendicular height has been known to bear away all within its sweep, and to such an occurrence the capital of Hastin is said to have owed its ruin.
Hastin sent forth three grand branches, Ajamidha, Dvimidha, and Purumidha. Of the two last we lose sight altogether ; but Ajamidha's progeny spread over all the northern parts of India, in the Panjab and across the Indus. The period, probably one thousand six hundred years before Christ.
From Ajamidha in the fourth generation, was Bajaswa, who obtained possessions towards the Indus, and whose five sons gave their name, Panchala, to the Panjab, or space watered by the five rivers. The capital founded by the younger brother, Kampila, was named Kampilnagara.*
The descendants of Ajamidha by his second wife, Kesini, founded another kingdom and dynasty, celebrated in the heroic history of Northern India. This is the Kausika dynasty.
Kusha had four sons, two of whom, Kushanabha and Kushambha, are well known to traditional history, and by the still surviving cities founded by them. Kushanabha founded the city of Mahodaya on the Ganges, afterwards changed to Kanyakubja, or Kanauj, which maintained its celebrity until the Muhammadan invasion of Shihabu-d-din (a.d. 1193), when this overgrown city was laid prostrate for ever. It was not unfrequently called Gadhipura, or the ' city of Gadhi.' Kusamba also founded a city, called after his own name - Kausambi. The other sons built two capitals, Dharmaranya and Vasumati.
Rajgriha and Hastinapur
Uru or Turvasu lineage Kingdoms
One great arm of the tree of Yayati remains unnoticed, that of Uru or Urvasu, written by others Turvasu. Uru was the father of a line of kings who founded several empires.
Kalanjar is the celebrated fortress in Bundelkhand, so well known for its antiquities, which have claimed considerable notice.
Of the second, Kerala, it is only known that in the list of the thirty-six royal races in the twelfth century, the Kerala makes one, but the capital is unknown.
The kingdom founded by Pand may be that on the coast of Malabar, the Pandu-Mandal of the Hindus, the Regia Pandiona of the geographers of the west, and of which, probably, Madurai is the modern capital.
Chaul is in the Saurashtra peninsula, and on the coast, towards Jagat Khunt,' the world's end,' and still retains its appellation
Anga.—The other shoot from Bhabru became celebrated. The thirty-fourth prince, Anga, founded the kingdom of Angadesa, of which. Champapuri was the capital, established about the same tune with Kanauj, probably fifteen hundred years before Christ. With him the patronymic was changed, and the Anga race became famous in ancient Hindu history ; and to this day Angdes still designates the Alpine regions of Tibet bordering on Chinese Tartary.
Prithvisena terminates the line of Anga; and as he survived the disasters of the Mahabharata War, his race probably multiplied in those regions, where caste appears never to have been introduced.
Nakula's military campaigning to the west
Nakula, the Pandava general, brought under subjection the mighty Gramaniya that dwelt on the shore of the sea, and the Suras and the Abhiras that dwelt on the banks of the Saraswati, and all those tribes that lived upon fisheries, and those also that dwelt on the mountains, and the whole of the country called after the five rivers, and the mountains called Amara, and the country called Uttarayotisha and the city of Divyakutta and the tribe called Dwarapala.
Markandeya's prediction of powerful Dyansty in the future
The Andhhas, the Sakas, the Pulindas, the Yavanas, the Kamvojas, the Valhikas and the Abhiras, then become (in Kali Yuga, which is future for Yudhisthira), possessed of bravery and the sovereignty of the earth.
Abhiras in the List of Kingdoms of Bharata Varsha
In Bhishama Parava, while narrating to Dhritarashtra the names of the Mountains, Rivers, Provinces etc of Bharata Varsha, Sanjaya includes the Abhiras in the list of its provinces and seems to locate them somewhere between the Mallas, Valhikas and the Aprantas (6,9).
i.e. ....the Valhikas , the Vatadhanas, the Abhiras, the Kalajoshakas; the Aparantas, the Parantas, the Pahnabhas, the Charmamandalas; the Atavisikharas, the Mahabhutas.....
In the same Parava, there is also reference to the Sura-Abhiras who are listed among the tribes of north such as the Yavanas, the Chinas, the Kambojas, the Darunas, and many Mleccha tribes, the Sukritvahas, the Kulatthas (Kulutas), the Hunas, and the Parasikas, the Ramanas, and the Dasamalikas, the Daradas, the Kasmiras, the Khasiras, the Bharadvajas, and the diverse tribes of Kiratas, the Tomaras, the Hansamargas, and the Karamanjakas etc (6.9).
Participation in the Kurukshetra War
Bhutasarman, and Kshemasarman, and the valiant Karakaksha, and the Kalingas, the Singhalas, the Easterners, the Suras, the Abhiras, the Daserakas, the Sakas, the Yavanas, the Kambojas, the Hangsapadas, the Surasenas, the Daradas, the Madras, and the Kalikeyas, with hundreds and thousands of elephants, steeds, cars, and foot-soldiers were stationed at its neck of the military formation formed by the Kaurava general Drona in Kurukshetra War.
Impact of Bhargava Rama on Abhira tribe
Dravidas and Abhiras and Pundras, together with the Savaras, became fallen to low status, though those men who had Kshatriya duties assigned to them in consequence of their birth, falling away from those duties due to fear of Bhargava Rama.
Balarama's pilgrimage along Saraswati River
Then Balarama proceeded to Vinasana where the Sarasvati River hath become invisible in consequence of her contempt for the Suras, the Abhiras. And since the Sarasvati, in consequence of such contempt, is lost at that spot, the Rishis, for that reason, always name the place as Vinasana. Having bathed in that tirtha of the Sarasvati, the mighty Bala Rama then proceeded to Subhumika, situated on the excellent bank of the same river.
Mandalika the Abhira Ruler of Somnath, was also among the confederate princes who pursued Mahmud's army. Tarikh i sorath states Mahmud could not stand his onslaught and rather fled to save his life.
"Shah Mahmud took to his heels in dismay and saved his life, but many of his followers of both sexes were captured.... Turk, Afghan and Mughal female prisoners, if they happened to be virgins, were accepted as wives by the Indian soldiers.... The bowels of the others, however, were cleansed by means of emetics and purgatives, and thereafter the captives were married to men of similar rank. Low females were joined to low men. Respectable men were compelled to shave off their beards, and were enrolled among the Shekhawat and the Wadhel tribes of Rajputs; whilst the lower kinds were allotted to the castes of Kolis, Khantas, Babrias and Mers."
History of Ahir Kingdoms
Ahir kings ruled territory of the present-day India and beyond. At the beginning of the Christian era (CE), the invading Scythians and Kushans forced most of the Ahirs to lower Rajasthan in the Arbuda (Aravali region). In Marubhumi (Marwar), Saurashtra and Maharashtra areas, they served the local rulers and established their own rule. Ahirs laid the foundation of Ahir Batak town, which was called Ahrora and was located in Central provinces, and Ahirwar in Jhansi district in 108 CE. Rudramurti Ahir became the chief of the army and later on the King. Madhuriputra, Ishwarsen and Shivdutta were well-known kings of this lineage. Ishwarsena, a great Ahir general, became master of Western Deccan in place of the famous Satavahanas. He took the title of Rajan and an era was named after him. His descendants continued to rule for nine generations. This generation of Abhira kings ruled for 167 years till last of them was ousted by their Traikutaka feudatory in AD 415. It is generally supposed that Traikutika were a different dynasty of Abhira, and hence are sometimes called Abhira-Traikutika. Indradutta, Dahrasena & Vyaghrasena were well known kings from this dynasty. Traikutikas were known for their Vaishnava faith, who claimed to be Yadav of Haiheya branch and Dahrasena performed Ashvamedha yajna too Abhira Era started by Ishwarsena in AD 249, continued with them and was called Abhira-Traikutika era. This era was later continued by Kalachuri Dynasty, calling it Kalachuri era, and later Kalachuri-Chedi era. After the rule of five traikuta kings, they retired to central provinces and assumed the name Haiyhaya (Chedi) and Kalachuri. Historians call this entire era as Abhira-Traikutika-Kalachuri-Chedi era
In a cave inscription at Nashik, references were made to an Ahir prince named Ishwersena, son of Shivdutta. Another inscription, found at Gunda and dated 181 CE, in the reign of the Kshatrapa Rudrasinha, described his general Rudrabhuti, who was called Ahir. When the kathis arrived in Gujarat, they found the greater part of the country controlled by Ahirs. The old fort Asirgarh(short of Asa Ahir Garh), in Khandesh, retains the name of its founder Asa Ahir. For centuries the Ahirs were eclipsed as a political power in Haryana until the time of the Pratihara dynasty.
Ahirs ruled the whole of Haryana under the Mogul rule and later were declared as independent kings. Vātsyāyana also noted the Abhira kingdoms in the Kama Sutra.Ahirs also ruled beyond the geographical borders of present-day India, as kings of the hilly terrain of Nepal. Eight kings of the first Ahir dynasty ruled Nepal, the first being Bhuktaman and the last Yaksha Gupta. Owing to pastoral disputes, this dynasty was replaced by another Ahir dynasty. The second Ahir dynasty had a succession of three kings: Badasimha, Jaymati Simha, and Bhuban Simha. Their rule ended when the Kirati invaders defeated Bhuban Simha.
M.S.A Rao states that the Allahabad iron pillar inscription of Samudragupta (fourth century A.D) mentions the Abhiras as one of the tribal states of west and south west India, who paid homage to the emperor (churn, 1943:81). A fourth century (A.D) inscription found in Nashik speaks of an Abhira king, and there is proof that in the middle of the fourth century the Abhiras were settled in eastern Rajputana and Malwa. Similarly, when the Kathis arrived in Gujarat in the eighth century, they found the greater part of the country in the possession of the Ahirs. The Mirzapur district of the United Provinces has a tract known as Ahraura, named after the Ahir, and near Jhansi, another piece of country was called Ahirwar. The Ahirs were also kings of Nepal at the beginning of the Christian era. Khandesh and the Tapti valley were other regions where they were kings.
Ahir Raj in Moughal Era
Ahirs ruled the whole of Haryana under the Mogul rule and later were declared as independent kings. A majority of Ahirs occupy the Rewari Thesil of Gurgaon district. When Shershah Suri fought against the Mughal chief Humayun, the Ahir ‘Khap’ helped Humayun under the leadership of Rao Rura Singh. When Humayun occupied the throne of Delhi again, he made Rao Rura Singh the Chief of a Pargana. The Head Quarters of the Pargana was named Rewari. During the reign of Mughals, the Ahir State continued as an ally, and Rao Tej Singh made a name with them. In 1803 Lord Lake reduced the power and position of the Mughals and captured the Ahir State, then ruled by Puran Singh.King Rao Tula Ram was born in 1825. He took over at age 13 after Rao Puran Singh died. Rao Tula Ram was ambitious, increasing his power and territory. Raja Mahar Singh of Balabgarh was the administrator and defender of Delhi during the mutiny of 1857. Rao Raja Tula Ram was active in the areas of Rewari and Narnaul, where he roundly defeated the British.
When the forces of Jaipur, Patiala, Jind and Kapurthala arrived to help the British, Rao Tula Ram had to leave Rewari, Kanund, and Narnaul. He made an alliance with Scindia and Tatiya Tope to continue fighting. A conference of the revolutionaries was called and Rao Raja Tula Ram was appointed to seek help from foreign countries. Rao Tula Ram reached the shore in disguise. He went to Basra by sea, where he met with the Russian envoy and Khedive, and went on to Iran. Although the government gave him a royal reception, they did not commit forces to his aid. After that, Rao Tula Ram wen to Kabul and struggled for six years. He raised a united army of Pathans and Indian revolutionaries. He died before returning to India. The Emir of Kabul sent his ashes to Rewari with two Sardars. In 1150, Vighararaja IV, a Chauhan from Rajasthan, forced the people to become his feudal vassals. In 1181 they were defeated by Prithviraj Chauhan, but only after they had put up a tough resistance.
Some scholars seek ethnic connections between the Yadav and Jews. According to Stephen Knapp, the Greeks referred to the Jews as Judeos, or Jah deos or Yadavas, meaning people of Ya or descendants of Yadu, one of the sons of Yayati. In his book The Holy Kabbalah, Arthur Edward Waite linked the mystical work with the Vedas. That Yadavas were possessors of great mystical knowledge was described in the Bhagvad Gita. It said the same knowledge was given to Manu (first man on earth), Surya and Ikshavaku (ancestor of Lord Rama) in ancient times. The Abhira were believed to be a link between eastern and western religions. There are compelling proofs of both Mauryan and Guptas being Abhirs.
The Kshatriya religion was propounded by Krishna, and no reference was found before him. We only find Rajnya as the term alternatively used for it (Bhagwad Gita is a reduced form of hidden knowledge— Gope —which has its root in Shiva). Later on, many Kshatriyas were founded on the philosophy of yadavanshis, as revealed in the Bhagavad Gita.
Ahirs of Delhi NCR
For centuries the Ahirs were eclipsed as a political power in Haryana until the time of the Pratihara dynasty. In time they became independent rulers of Southwest Haryana. Although the Ahirs and Yadavas form one group, the former are an important community of Haryana, but numerically they constitute less than 10% of the total population. Most of them live in the region around Behror, Alwar, Rewari, Narnaul, Mahendragarh and Gurgaon which is therefore known as Ahirwal or the abode of Ahirs.Ahirs synonyms are Yadav and Rao Sahab. Rao Sahab is only used in Ahirwal region consisting of territories of few villages of Delhi, Southern Haryana & Behrod area of Alwar district (Rajasthan). Ahir's of this region are mainly in armed forces. Yadav dominated areas in National Capital Region(NCR) includes Gurgaon, Noida, Manesar, Behror, Bawal, Dharuhera, Pataudi, Bhiwadi, Badshahpur, Kosli, Alwar and Rewari.
This area starts from South of Delhi to South west of Haryana and east of Rajasthan areas include Gurgaon till Alwar in Rajasthan.The modern day Gurgaon city has more than 40 Yadav villages where they are also nicknamed as Rao or Rao Sahab.Thousands of Yadav villagers from Gurgaon and Manesar are millionaires today after selling their agricultural land to private builders and HUDA and many have become property dealers. Rao Birender Singh Yadav was the second chief minister of Haryana and Chaudhary Brahm Prakash Yadav was the first chief minister of Delhi.
Some of the villages in Ahirwal with Yadav prominence are:-
In Marubhumi (Marwar), Saurashtra and Maharashtra they served the local rulers and established their own rule. Ishwarsena, a great Ahir general, became master of Western Deccan in place of the famous Satava-hanas. He took the title of Rajan and an era was named after him. His descendants continued to rule for nine generations.
Pran Sukh Yadav (1802–1888) was an extraordinary military commander of his time. He was a close friend of Hari Singh Nalwa and famous Punjab ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh.In his early career he trained Sikh Khalsa army. After the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh he fought in both the First and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars, due to his extreme hatred towards Britishers after the defeat of Sikhs he started giving military training to the farmers of Narnaul and Mahendragarh region.
King Rao Tula Ram of Rewari was born on 9 December 1825 in a Royal Rao Bhadur Nirpur Yadav family which belonged to "Rao Bhadur Ghari-Bolni" in village Rampura (Rewari). His father was Puran Singh and his mother's name was Gyan Kaur who was daughter of Great Jat ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh. In 1857, Rao Tula Ram led the rebellion in Haryana along with his brother Rao Bhadur Tula Ram of Ghari Bolni and Rao Gopal Dev of Nirpur.For centuries the Ahirs were eclipsed as a political power in Haryana until the time of the Pratihara dynasty. In time they became independent rulers of Southwest Haryana. Although the Ahirs and Yadavas form one group, the former are an important community of Haryana, but numerically they constitute less than 10% of the total population. Most of them live in the region around Rewari, Narnaul, Mahendragarh and Gurgaon which is therefore known as Ahirwal or the abode of Ahirs.
Ahirs of Gujarat
There is a great concentration of Ahirs in Kutch: of the 18 million Ahirs in India about 300,000 live in Kutch. There are four main castes of Ahirs in Kutch: Pancholi, Prantharia, Mochhaya, Boricha, and Sorathia. These communities are mainly of farmers who once sold milk and ghee but who now have diversified their businesses because of the irregularity of rain. Their mother tongue is Gujrati.
Ahir/Jhadhavs of Maharashtra
1334) was an Indian dynasty, which at its peak ruled a kingdom stretching from the Tungabhadra to the Narmada rivers, including present-day Maharashtra, north Karnataka and parts of Madhya Pradesh, from its capital at Devagiri (present-day Daulatabad in Maharashtra).
The Aharwar are a Hindu caste found in North India. They are said to be descended from Ahir tribe. The Ahars are one of the most ancient martial tribes of India, who ruled over different parts of India and Nepal since ancient times. In appearance, they proclaim their Aryan descent. They are tall and wiry, have dark eyes, long noses, black hair and their complexion varies from wheatish to dark brown.
A community of Hindu Kshatriya belong to Ahirwada (Jhansi) are known as Ahirwar / Aharwar Kshatriya. It is considered as a very progressive caste. Aharwar is also used as a surname (last name) by Rajput clan belonging to the chandravanshi kshatriya lineage.
Ahirwar/Aharwar claim to be descendants of the Chandravanshi Kshatriya Rajput.
Many Aharwar live in different regions of India including Delhi, Mathura, Ahmedabad, Murena, Agra, and Jhansi. The Aharwar was derived from Ahar. The Ahars are one of the most ancient martial tribes of India, who ruled over different parts of India and Nepal since ancient times.
Pune under Yadav Dynasty
With the downfall of the Rashtrakutas which ruled Pune from the 8th century AD to the middle of the 10th century.It went under the control of the Yadavs.The Yadavs ruled Maharashtra from 10th century AD to the end of the 13th century. Singhania, the Yadav ruler was a lover of literature and art. Sant Dnyaneshwar, a Bhakti saint lived during this period. The Yadav rule came to an end with the coming of Ala-ud-din Khilji.
Seuna Yadavas of Devagiri
The Seuna, Sevuna or Yadava dynasty (850 - 1334) was an Indian dynasty, which at its peak ruled a kingdom stretching from the Tungabhadra to the Narmada rivers, including present-day Maharashtra, north Karnataka and parts of Madhya Pradesh, from its capital at Devagiri (present-day Daulatabad in Maharashtra).
The Yadavas initially ruled as feudatories of the Western Chalukyas. Around the middle of the 12th century, they declared independence and established rule that reached its peak under Singhana II.
The Seuna dynasty claimed descent from the Yadavas and therefore, its kings are often referred to as the "Yadavas of Devgiri". The correct name of the dynasty, however, is Seuna or Sevuna. The inscriptions of this dynasty, as well as those of contemporary kingdoms, the Hoysala, Kakatiya dynasty and Western Chalukyas call them Seunas. The name is probably derived from the name of their second ruler, "Seunachandra".
The "Sevuna" (or Seuna) name was brought back into use by John Faithfull Fleet in his book The dynasties of the Kanarese districts of the Bombay Presidency from the earliest historical times to the Musalman conquest of A.D. 1318.
The Seuna dynasty claimed descent from the Chandravanshi Yadavas of north India. According to verse 21 of Vratakhand (a Sanskrit work by Hemadri), the Seunas were originally from Mathura and later moved to Dwaraka. Hemdari calls them Krishnakulotpanna (i.e., descendants of Lord Krishna). The Marathi saint Dnyaneshwar describes them as yadukulvansh tilak. Some Seuna inscriptions call them Dvaravatipuravaradhishvaras ("masters of Dvaravati or Dwaraka"). Several modern researchers, such as Dr. Kolarkar, also believe that Yadavas came from North India.[
According to scholars such as Prof. George Moraes, V. K. Rajwade, C. V. Vaidya, Dr. A.S. Altekar, Dr. D.R. Bhandarkar, and J. Duncan M. Derrett, the Seuna rulers were of Maratha descent who patronized the Marathi language. Digambar Balkrishna Mokashi noted that the Yadava dynasty was "what seems to be the first true Maratha empire". In his book Medieval India, C.V.Vaidya states that Yadavas are "definitely pure Maratha Kshatriyas".
A stone inscription found at Anjaneri, near Nasik, suggests that a minor branch of the Yadava family ruled a small district, with Anjaneri as its chief city. The inscription indicates that a ruler called Seunadeva, belonging to the Yadava family, called himself Mahasamanta and made a grant to a Jain temple. Scholars such as Dr. O. P. Varma, state that Yadavas were Marathi speakers and the period of their rule was very important for the history of the Marathi.[
There is a belief that Deoghur or Doulatabad was built in AD 1203 by a Dhangar or herdsman who, acquiring by some unusual good fortune, vast wealth was named by his brother shepherds Raja Ram and soon after assumed the rank of a Raja.
Scholars such as C M Kulkarni, Colin Masica, and Shrinivas Ritti believe that the Seuna rulers were originally Kannada-speaking people. Linguist Colin Masica believes that they originally used Kannada (along with Sanskrit) in their inscriptions, but, by the time of the Muslim conquest, they had begun to patronize Marathi, and Marathi phrases or lines began to appear in their inscriptions. Dr. Shrinivas Ritti speculates that the Seunas were originally from a Kannada-speaking region and migrated northwards owing to the political situation in the Deccan.
Many Seuna rulers had Kannada names and titles such as "Dhadiyappa", "Bhillama", "Rajugi", "Vadugi" and "Vasugi", and "Kaliya Ballala". Some kings had names like "Singhana" and "Mallugi", which were also used by the Southern Kalachuri dynasty. Records show that one of the early rulers, Seunachandra II, had a Kannada title, Sellavidega. The Seunas had very close matrimonial relationships with royal Kannada families throughout their rule. Bhillama II was married to Lachchiyavve, who was from a Rashtrakuta descendant family in Karnataka. Vaddiga was married to Vaddiyavve, daughter of Rashtrakuta chieftain Dhorappa. Wives of Vesugi and Bhillama III were Chalukya princesess.
Over five hundred inscriptions belonging to the Seuna dynasty have been found in Karnataka, the oldest being of the rule of Bhillama II. Most of these are in Kannada language and script. Others are in the Kannada language but use Devanagari script. The Seuna coins from the early part of their rule have Kannada legends. Scholars such as Dr. O. P. Varma believe that Kannada was a court language, used along with Marathi and Sanskrit.
During the rule of the Seunas, ruling chieftains who were related to the Seuna kings were from Kannada-speaking families, like the Seunas of Masavadi in present day Dharwad. Dr. A. V. Narasimha Murthy opined that during the later part of the Rashtrakuta rule from Manyakheta, Seuna chieftains were despatched from the Karnataka region to rule near Nasik.
Seunas were once the feudatories of the Rashtrakutas and then of the Western Chalukya. The founder of the Suena dynasty was Dridhaprahara, the son of Subahu. According to Vratakhanda, his capital was Shrinagara. However, an early inscription suggests that Chandradityapura (modern Chandor in the Nasik district) was the capital.
The name Seuna comes from Dridhaprahara's son, Seunachandra, who originally ruled a region called Seunadesha (present-day Khandesh). Bhillama II, a later ruler in the dynasty, assisted Tailapa III in his war with the Paramara king Munja. Seunachandra II helped Vikramaditya VI in gaining his throne.
Bhillama V (1173-1192), son of Mallugi, established the sovereign Seuna kingdom. He took over the Chalukya capital of Kalyani in 1190 and founded Devagiri (now Daulatabad) as the capital of the Yadava dynasty.
The Seunas were bordered by aggressive neighbours on all sides: Paramara Rajputs of Malwa in the north, Kakatiya dynasty in the east, Hoysalas in the south and Solanki Rajputs of Gujarat in the west. As a precaution, they built their citadel at Devagiri. The citadel was situated on a hill rising 183 meters (300 meters according to John Keay). The hill was enclosed by three lines of walls, each of which was defended by moats and turrets. The outermost wall had a circumference of 4.4 km.
Singhana II 1200-1247 C.E. is considered the greatest ruler of the Yadava dynasty. During his rule the kingdom expanded from Narmada to Tungabhadra, reaching its zenith at the expense of Hoysalas in the south, Kakatiya dynasty in the east, Paramaras and Chalukyas in the north.
He founded the town Shinghanapur (or Singhanapur). He was a great patron of learning and literature. He established the college of astronomy to study the work of celebrated astronomer Bhaskaracharya.
The Sangita Ratnakara, an authoritative Sanskrit work on Indian music was written by Sharngadeva (or Shrangadeva) during Singhana II's reign. He also patronized Changadeva, the Kannada poet Kamalabhava.
There is a belief that Deoghur or Doulatabad was built in 1203 AD by a Dhangar or herdsman who acquiring by some unusual good fortune vast wealth was named by his brother shepherds Raja Ram and soon after assumed the rank of a Raja.
Ramachandra (or Ramadevarava or Raja Ram), the grandson of Singhana II, ruled from 1271 to 1309 CE.
Hemadri (or Hemadpant) was Ramachandra's Shrikaranadhipa (Chief Minister). He compiled the encyclopedic Sanskrit work Chaturvarga Chintamani. He is said to have built many temples in a style known after him - Hemadapanti. He also invented the Modi script for writing Marathi. Hemadri wrote many books on vaidhyakshastra (medical science) and he introduced and supported Bajra cultivation.
In 1294, Ala-ud-din Khalji captured Devagiri. Khalji restored it to Ramachandra in return for his promise of payment of a high ransom and an annual tribute. However, this was not paid and the Seuna kingdom's arrears to the Khalji dynasty kept mounting. In 1307, Khalji sent an army commanded by Malik Kafur to Devagiri. Ramachandra was taken to Delhi. Khalji reinstated Ramachandra in return for a promise to help Khalji subdue the Hindu kingdoms in South India. In 1309, Malik Kafur mounted an assault on the Kakatiya dynasty from Devagiri.
Alauddin Khilji invaded Devagiri once when he was the crown prince. Alauddin Khilji once again invaded Devagiri in 1306. The invincible Malik Kafur was on the spearhead of the army. He was accompanied with Khwaja Haji. The governors of Malwa and Gujarat were ordered to help Malik Kafur. The huge army conquered Devagiri almost without a battle. Alauddin Khilji appointed Raja Ramchandra the governor of Devagiri. He was given the title "Rai Rayan" (king of kings).
Ramachandra's successor Singhana III challenged the supremacy of Khalji, who sent Malik Kafur to recapture Devagiri in 1310. Singhana III was killed in the ensuing battle and Khalji's army occupied Devagiri. Muhammad Tughluq subsequently renamed the city Daultabad. The kingdom was annexed by the Khalji Empire in 1317.
Among the Seuna Yadava rulers, Sindhan, Krishnadev, Mahadeva and Ramdev are considered as having been 'able'.
The Yadavas of Devagiri patronised Marathi which was their court language. Kannada may also have been a court language during Seunachandra's rule, but Marathi was the only court-language of Ramchandra and Mahadeva Yadavas. The Yadava capital Devagiri became a magnet for learned scholars in Marathi to showcase and find patronage for their skills. The origin and growth of Marathi literature is directly linked with rise of Yadava dynasty.[
Their reign also saw the literary development of Marathi. The origin and growth of Marathi literature is directly linked to this period.
Some historians believe that prior to the Yadava rule, both Marathi and Kannada had been used in Maharashtra; subsequently, at least partly due to their efforts, Marathi became dominant. Historian José Pereira has credited Yadavas with overthrowing the rule of Kannada-speaking dynasties in Maharashtra.
Bhillama was the founder of Yadava (Also known as Jadhav) dynasty although it was his grandson Singhana, who made it the premier kingdom of Deccan. Singhana was great patron of learning and literature. He established the college of astronomy to study the work of celebrated astronomer Bhaskaracharya. We can read about his magnanimous donations which are carved in stone (written in earliest Marathi language) slabs in the temple of Goddess at Kolhapur in Maharashtra. Composition of famous works of scholars like Hemadri (who was responsible for introducing a style of architecture also called Hemandpanthi), Bopadeva and Dhnaneshwar (a prodigy who at the age of 16 translated Bhagavat Gita from Sanskrit to Marathi, perhaps the best and sweetest poetry ever written in Marathi) were composed during reign of Yadava dynasty.
Bhillama V's son, Jaitrapal (or Jaitugi) had Mukundaraja, the author of Paramamrita and Vivekasindhu as his spiritual teacher. Paramamrita is considered the first systematic attempt to explain the Vendantic principles in Marathi. Vivekasindhu is another exposition of Vedantic principles. Mukundaraja's earliest works were completed in 1190 C.E. and Mahimabhatta wrote Lilacharita in 1238.
The famous Marathi saint-poet Dnyaneshwar wrote Dnyaneshwari, a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita in 1290, during Ramachandra's rule. He also composed devotional songs called abhangas. Dnyaneshwar gave a higher status to Marathi by translating the sacred Geeta from Sanskrit. He proudly said about Marathi:
I will speak my Marathi (language) only with pride and I will give such Marathi words to the ardent listeners which will even win bets against the nectar (amrit). Hemadri invented the Modi script during this period. Chakradhara propagated the Mahanubhava cult, using Marathi as the medium for his religious teachings. The work of his followers are counted among the first works of Marathi literature.
Many scholars believe Kannada was one of the court languages during early Seuna times, as is evident from a number of Kannada-language inscriptions (see, Origin section). Kamalabhava, patronised by Bhillama V wrote Santhishwarapurana. Achanna composed Varadhamanapurana in 1198. Amugideva, patronised by Singhana II, composed many Vachanas or devotional songs. Chaundarasa of Pandharapur wrote Dashakumara Charite.
The Sanskrit literary works created during the Seuna period include:
Devgiri/Daulatabad (meaning “City of Prosperity”), is a city in Maharashtra, India, about 16 kilometers northwest of Aurangabad. The place was once known as Deogiri, (circa the sixth century AD, when it was an important uplands city along caravan route. Yadavas had capital at Devagiri fort , perhaps the strongest fort of India. It is the best example of medieval fort building style. In spite of its strength, it fell to the first Muslim invasion of southern India. In 1294, Allauddin Khilji capured the fort defeating Yadava king Ramchandra. Khilji extracted massive amounts of gold and precious metals from Yadava king. Soon after in 1312 his general Malik Kafur again invaded Devgiri followed by masacre of members of royal family. Thus Hindu sovereignty in Maharashtra came to an end in 14th century after more than two hundred years of glorious reign of Yadavas. Thus for the first time Maharashtra was ruled by the Muslim invaders which was continued till Marathas again got united and emerged as supreme power in seventeenth century under command of Shivaji. Shown above is the nice example of a gold coin issued by Ramachandra Deva which shows `Trishul" (trident) below the legends. Lotus is shown in middle while conch is shown on top.
Deogiri was renamed as Daulatabad in 1327 by Muhammad Bin Tughluq. Starting 1327, it famously remained the capital of Tughlaq dynasty, under Muhammad bin Tughluq (r. 1325-1351), who changed its name from Deogiri to Daulatabad, and forcibly moved the entire population of Delhi here, for two years, before it was abandoned due to lack of water. The city of Daulatabad was built around the fort and it was because of the strength of the fort that Muhammad bin Tughluq shifted his capital to the Deccan.
The area of the city includes the hill-fortress of Devagiri (sometimes Latinised to Deogiri). It stands on a conical hill, about 200 meters high. Much of the lower slopes of the hill has been cut away by Yadava dynasty rulers to leave 50 meter vertical sides to improve defenses. The fort is a place of extraordinary strength. The only means of access to the summit is by a narrow bridge, with passage for not more than two people abreast, and a long gallery, excavated in the rock, which has for the most part a very gradual upward slope.
About midway along this gallery, the access gallery has steep stairs, the top of which is covered by a grating destined in time of war to form the hearth of a huge fire kept burning by the garrison above. At the summit, and at intervals on the slope, are specimens of massive old cannon facing out over the surrounding countryside. Also at the mid way, there is a cave entrance meant to confuse the Enemies.
The original widespread capital city is now mostly unoccupied and has been reduced to a village. Much of its survival depends on the tourists to the old city and the adjacent fort.
There is a tradition that Deoghur or Doulatabad was built in 1203 AD by a Dhangar or herdsman who acquiring by some unusual good fortune vast wealth was named by his brother shepherds Rajah Ram and soon after assumed the rank of a Rajah.
In 1294 the fort was captured by Ala-ud-din Khilji, and the rajas, so powerful that they were held by the Sultans of Delhi to be the rulers of all the Deccan, were reduced to pay tribute. The tribute falling into arrear, Devagiri was again occupied by the Muslims under Malik Kafur, in 1307 and 1310, and in 1318 the last raja, Harpal, was flayed alive.
Devagiri now became an important base for the operations of the Delhi Sultanate's conquering expeditions southwards. In 1327 Muhammad bin Tughluq determined to make Deogiri his capital, changed its name to Daulatabad , and tried to march the whole population of Delhi to it.
The project was interrupted by troubles which summoned him to the north; during his absence the Muslim governors of the Deccan revolted; and Daulatabad itself fell into the hands of Zafar Khan, the governor of Gulbarga. It remained in the hands of the Bahmanis till 1526, when it was taken by the Nizam Shahis. It was captured by the Mughal emperor Akbar, but in 1595 it again surrendered to Ahmad Nizam Shah of Ahmednagar, on the fall of whose dynasty in 1607 it passed into the hands of the usurper, the Nizam Shahi minister Malik Amber, originally an Abyssinian slave, who was the founder of Kharki (the present Aurangabad).
His successors held it until they were overthrown by Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor, in 1633; after which it remained in the possession of the Delhi emperors until, after the death of Aurangzeb, it fell to the first Nizam of Hyderabad. Its glory, however, had already decayed owing to the removal of the seat of government by the emperors to Aurangabad.
The Fort which according to Indian ancient texts falls under the classification of Misra durg or mixed fort as it combines the qualities of Giridurg (mountain fort), Dev durg (God's fort) and Bhumi durg (land fort). The fortification walls were built at different periods by different dynasites like the Yadavas, Khilji, Tughlaq, Bahamani, Nizam Shahi and Malik Amber bears a marked resemblance to medieval European forts in the disposition of projecting towers, covered passages and bastions. The walls consist of labyrinth like arrangements of the underground secret passage with safety arrangements, in the style of buildings which give the bastions, despite their grim appearances, a touch of beauty by insertions of carved stones and dainty architectural details at various places.
The fort has been considered as the most powerful, puissant fort that offered robust resistance to the enemies. An invincible fort, one of the best preserved in comparison to other forts in the vicinity of the same period. Its sound and sturdy quality exists due to the powerful wall about three miles in perimeter and defended by a moat and gacis that runs round the hill at its foot and between this outer curtain and the citadel, also known as Dharagir and Duwagir. These details have been extracted from Professor Dulari Qureshi's book Fort of Daulatabad. "
The outer wall, 2.75 miles (4.43 km) in circumference, once enclosed the ancient city of Deogiri (Devagiri), and between this and the base of the upper fort are three lines of defences.
Besides the fortifications Daulatabad contains several notable monuments, of which the chief are the Chand Minar and the Chini Mahal. The Chand Minar is a tower 210 ft (64 m). high and 70 ft (21 m). in circumference at the base, and was originally covered with beautiful Persian glazed tiles. The Chini Mahal, or China Palace, is the ruin of a building once of great beauty.
Daulatabad fort has many underground tunnels. Most of them have been closed or sealed. It is believedthat one such tunnel stretches from inside the fort to Rajur town where famous Ganapati temple is built. The tunnel's length is approximately 70 km. It is said[ that Daulatabad Fort's 'deep-mala' (lights tower) can be seen from Rajur temple.
Surasena Kingdom was ruled by Yaduvanshi kings as per the epic Mahabharata. It is said to be named after the King Shoorsen. The capital city of this kingdom, Mathura was founded by Shatrughna of Raghav (Raghuvanshi) Rajput clan, the brother of Raghava Rama the ruler of Kosala in Treta Yuga. He conquered this region after defeating the Asura king Madhu who dwelled in a forest named Madhu Forest named after him. In Dwapara Yuga it was ruled by Yaduvanshis who took the kingdom from the descendants of Satrughna. Capital of Surasena kingdom was Mathura (Mathura, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh).
References in Mahabharata
The 18 tribes which fled due to attacks from Jarasandha
The eighteen tribes of the Bhojas, from fear of Jarasandha, have all fled towards the west; so also have the Surasenas, the Bhadrakas, the Vodhas, the Salwas, the Patachchavas, the Susthalas, the Mukuttas, and the Kulindas, along with the Kuntis. And the king of the Salwayana tribe with their brethren and followers; and the southern Panchalas and the eastern Kosalas have all fled to the country of the Kuntis. So also the Matsyas and the Sannyastapadas, overcome with fear, leaving their dominions in the north, have fled into the southern country. And so all the Panchalas, alarmed at the power of Jarasandha, have left their own kingdom and fled in all directions.
Sahadeva's Military Campaign
Sahadeva, vanquishing completely at the outset the Surasenas, brought the king of Matsya under his sway. And the hero then, defeating Dantavakra, the mighty king of the Adhirajas and making him pay tribute, re-established him on his throne.
Arjuna's list of kingdoms close to Kuru Kingdom
Surrounding the kingdom of the Kurus, are, many countries beautiful and abounding in corn, such as Panchala, Chedi, Matsya, Surasena, Pattachchara, Dasarna, Navarashtra, Malla, Salva, Yugandhara, Saurashtra, Avanti , and the spacious Kuntirashtra.
Pandavas' journey to the Matsya Kingdom
The Pandavas leaving the Dwaita Forest, proceeded towards Yamuna river and reached its southern bank. And those mighty warriors, the Pandavas, passed through Yakrilloma and Surasena, leaving behind, on their right, the country of the Panchalas, and on their left, that of the Dasarnas. And those bowmen, looking wan and wearing beards and equipped with swords, entered Matsya’s dominions leaving the forest, giving themselves out as hunters.
Shift of alliances
Kunti (Pandavas' Mother), mentioned as native of Surasena
Bhishma's words:- There are three maidens worthy of being allied to Kuru race. One is the daughter (Kunti) of Surasena, of the Yaduvanshi race; the other is the daughter (Gandhari) of Suvala; and the third is the princess (Madri) of Madra.
Vasudeva Krishna mentioned as a native of Surasena Kingdom
Foremost among all the Surasenas, the puissant one, Krishna, residing at Dwaraka, will rule and protect the whole earth after vanquishing all her lords, conversant as he will be with the science of polity.
Sunaman, a king of Surasena, killed by Krishna
With Valadeva (Bala Rama as his second, Krishna, consumed in battle, with all his troops, the king of the Surasenas, viz., Sunaman the lord of a full Akshauhini, and the valiant second brother of Kansa, the king of the Bhojas.
Provinces in Bharata Varsha (Ancient India)
They are the Kuru-Panchalas, the Salwas, the Madreyas, the Jangalas, the Surasena, the Kalingas, the Vodhas, the Malas, the Matsyas, the Sauvalyas, the Kuntalas, the Kasi-kosalas, the Chedis, the Karushas, the Bhojas, the Sindhus....
Surasena's role in Kurukshetra War
The 12 tribes who protected Bhishma on Day 1
The Abhishahas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, and the Vasatis, the Swalyas, the Matsyas, the Amvashtas, the Trigartas, and the Kekayas, the Sauviras, the Kitavas, the dwellers of the Eastern, Western, and the Northern countries, these twelve brave races were resolved to fight reckless of the lives. And these protected the grandsire, Bhishma, with a multitudinous array of cars.
The Protection to Bhishma on Day 2
Let the Samsthanas, the Surasenas, the Venikas, the Kukkuras, the Rechakas, the Trigartas, the Madrakas, the Yavanas, with Satrunjayas, and Dussasana, and that excellent hero Vikarna, and Nanda and Upanandaka, and Chitrasena, along with the Manibhadrakas, protect Bhishma with their respective troops.
Encounter of Arjuna and Bhishma on Day 2
Kauravas make the Garuda Military-Formation on Day 3
Vinda and Anuvinda of Avanti, and the Kamvojas with the Sakas, and the Surasenas formed its tail.
Kauravas make the Crane Military-Formation on Day 6
And in its neck were Surasena, and Duryodhanasurrounded by many kings.
The Loyal defenders of Bhishma
The Sauviras, the Kitavas, the Easterners, the Westerners, the Northerners, the Malavas, the Abhishahas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, and the Vasatis, did not avoid Bhishma in battle although they were incessantly slaughtered.
Resisting Arjuna for aiding Bhishma
Many combatants also, belonging to the Nishadas, the Sauviras, the Valhikas, the Daradas, the Westerners, the Northerners, the Malavas, the Abhighatas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, the Vasatis, the Salwas, the Sakas, the Trigartas, the Amvashthas, and the Kekayas, similarly fell upon Arjuna, like flights of insects upon a fire.
Surasenas finally abandons Bhishma
The Sauviras, the Kitavas, the Easterners, the Westerners, the Northerners, the Malavas, the Abhishahas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, the Vasatis, the Salwas, the Sayas, the Trigartas, the Amvashthas, and the Kaikeyas, these and many other illustrious warriors, afflicted with arrows and pained by their wounds, abandoned Bhishma in that battle while he was fighting with the diadem-decked Arjuna.
After Bhishma's fall, fighting under Drona
The Madras, the Trigartas the Amvashthas, the Westerners, the Northerners, the Malavas, the Surasenas, the Sudras the Maladas, the Sauviras, the Kaitavas, the Easterners, and the Southerners placing Duryodhana and Karna at their head, forming the rear guard, gladdened warriors of their own army.
Drona's Garuda Military-Formation
Bhutasarman, and Kshemasarman, and the valiant Karakaksha, and the Kalingas, the Singhalas, the Easterners, the Sudras, the Abhiras, the Daserakas, the Sakas, the Yavanas, the Kamvojas, the Hangsapadas, the Surasenas, the Daradas, the Madras, and the Kalikeyas, with hundreds and thousands of elephants, steeds, cars, and foot-soldiers were stationed at its neck.
Drona encounters Arjuna
The Abhishahas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, the Vasatis, the Mavellakas, the Lilithyas, the Kaikeyas, the Madrakas, the Narayana Gopalas, and the various tribes of the Kamvojas who had before been vanquished by Karna, all of whom were regarded as very brave, placing Drona at their head, and becoming regardless of their lives, rushed towards Arjuna.
Resisting Arjuna for aiding Drona
The Abhishahas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, the Vasatis began to scatter their arrowy showers on Arjuna.
Resisting Satyaki for aiding Drona
Then the brave warriors of the Surasenas endeavoured to check Satyaki, striking him with showers of shafts, like a driver striking an infuriated elephant with the hook.
Destruction of some Surasenas along with Jayadratha
King Jayadratha hath been slain, and Somadatta’s son also of great energy, and the Abhishahas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, and the Vasatis.
Resisting Yudhisthira for aiding Drona
Yudhisthira cutting off the Abhishahas, the Surasenas, the Valhikas, and the Vasatis, he caused the earth to be miry with flesh and blood. And he also despatched within a trice, by means of many shafts the Yaudheyas, the Malavas, and large numbers of the Madrakas.
Resisting Bhima for aiding Drona
Bhima, mangling the Abhishahas, the Surasenas, and other Kshatriyas difficult to defeat in battle, made the earth miry with blood.
Destruction of Surasenas aiding Karna
The Vasatis, numbering 2,000, effectual smiters of all, as also the Surasenas endued with prowess, have all been slain in battle. The Abhishahas, clad in mail, capable of smiting effectually, and fierce in battle, also the Sivis, those foremost of car-warriors, with the Kalingas, have all been slain. Those other heroes also, the Narayana Gopas, who live and grew in Gokula, have been slain by Savyasaci (Arjuna). Many thousands of Srenis, as also the samsaptakas, approaching Arjuna, have all dead.
Surasenas on the side of the Pandavas
Aiming then, five irresistible shafts, Karna, otherwise called Vaikartana or Vrisha, slew five Pancala warriors. The five Pancalas that he slew in that battle were Bhanudeva and Citrasena and Senavindu and Tapana and Surasena. (The above passage indicates that a part of Surasena Kingdom, was under the territories of the Panchala Kingdom).
Karna rating the qualities of various tribes
The Pancalas observe the duties enjoined in the Vedas; the Kauravas observe truth; the Matsyas and the Surasenas perform sacrifices, the Easterners follow the practices of the Sudras; the Southerners are fallen; the Vahikas are thieves; the Saurashtras are bastards.
Vidarbha kingdom was one among the many kingdoms ruled by Yadava kings (Bhoja Yadavas) in the central and western India, in a region still known as Vidarbha. It was the southern most kingdom known to the kings of Gangatic Plain until they explored Southern India.
References in Mahabharata
King Bhima of Vidarbha
The southern route connecting Vidarbha and Ayodhya
Mahabharata gives clues on a route that existed in ancient times connecting Vidarbha to the northern kingdoms like Kosala.
The following conversation between Nala and Damayanti describes many ancient roads or pathways connecting kingdoms of north, south and central India of ancient times. (MBh 3:61)
These many roads lead to the southern country, passing by (the city of) Avanti and the Rikshavat mountains. This is that mighty mountain called Vindhya; yon, the river Payasvini running sea-wards, and yonder are the asylums of the ascetics, furnished with various fruit and roots. This road leadeth to the country of the Vidarbhas—and that, to the country of the Kosalas. Beyond these roads to the south is the southern country.
Rituparna,the king (of Ayodhya, Kosala), arrived at the city of the Vidarbhas. The people brought unto king Bhima (of Vidarbha) the tidings (of his arrival). And at the invitation of Bhima, the king entered the city of Kundina
The king of Kosala reflected a while and at length said, ‘I have come here to pay my respects to thee.’ And the king Bhima was struck with astonishment, and reflected upon the (probable) cause of Rituparna’s coming, having passed over a hundred yojanas. And he reflected, ‘That passing by other sovereigns, and leaving behind him innumerable countries, he should come simply to pay his respect to me is scarcely the reason of his arrival.
In the Mahabharata, Dvārakā (also known as Dvāravatī, both names meaning "the many-gated [city]" in Sanskrit; sometimes transcribed as Dwaraka and Dwaravati respectively) is the capital of the Yadus who ruled the Anarta Kingdom. The city was situated on the western point of Gujarat, and is submerged in the sea as per the volume 16 of the epic Mahabharata.
It was founded by a clan of Yadu chiefs who fled from the Surasena Kingdom out of constant attack by the envious king Jarasandha of Magadha. The territory of Dwaraka included the Dwaraka Island, many neighbouring islands like the Antar Dwipa and the mainland area neighbouring the Anarta Kingdom.
Dwaraka was a federation of many republics rather than a kingdom under a single king, the title of king of the Dwaraka-confederation being only titular. Within the Federation of Dwaraka were included the states of Andhakas, Vrishnis and Bhojas. The Yadavas ruling Dwaraka were also known as Dasarhas and Madhus.
Dwaraka and Kusasthali
Kusasthali was the older city, upon which the city of Dwaraka was built during the time of Vasudeva Krishna.
From constant attack by envious Jarasandha, the Magadha king, Yadavas had to leave Mathura and flee to the city of Dwaravati.(2,14). Due to Jarasandha, Yadavas fled towards the west. There was a delightful town towards the west called Kusasthali, adorned by the mountains of Raivata. In that city, they took up their abode. They rebuilt its fort and made it so strong that it became impregnable.
Pandava Arjuna, made a visit to Dwaraka, at the end of his 12 year pilgrimage of holy places of ancient India (Bharata Varsha). From Indraprastha (Delhi) the Pandava capital, he went to the Himalayas, then to east and reached the eastern sea. Then he travelled along the coast to the south and then reached southern ocean. From there he went north along the western shore of India, to reach the area known as Prabhasa (Southern shore of Gujarat). From there Vasudeva Krishna, his friend, accompanied him and took him to the Raivataka mountains and to Dwaraka, which was not far away.
Abduction of Subhadra by Arjuna
During Raivataka festival, Arjuna fell in love with Krishna's sister Subhadra. He took away the maiden with the secret consent of Krishna, but provoked the anger of other Yadava heroes. This passage described the preparedness of the citizens of Dwaraka for an emergency
The armed attendants of Subhadra, beholding her thus seized and taken away, all ran, crying towards the city of Dwaraka. Reaching all together the Yadava court called by the name of Sudharma, they represented everything about the prowess of Arjuna unto the chief officer of the court. The chief officer of the court blew his gold-decked trumpet calling all to arms. Stirred up by that sound, the Bhojas, the Vrishnis, and the Andhakas began to pour in from all sides. Those that were eating left their food, and those that were drinking left their drink. Those tigers among men, those great warriors of the Vrishni and the Andhaka tribes, took their seats upon their thousand thrones. The chief officer of the court, assisted by those that stood at his back, spoke of the conduct of Arjuna. The proud Vrishni heroes, of eyes red with wine rose up from their seats, unable to brook what Arjuna had done. Some amongst them said, ‘Yoke our chariots’, and some, ‘Bring our weapons’ and some said, ‘Bring our costly bows and strong coats of mail; and some loudly called upon their charioteers to harness their chariots, and some, from impatience, themselves yoked their horses decked with gold unto their chariots.
Arjuna was later called back to Dwaraka, and Subhadra was married to him. He stayed there for one year. He spent the last year of his 12-year pilgrimage at Pushkara (Pushkar in Rajasthan) and then went back to Indraprastha.
Sisupala's assault on Dvaraka and Raivataka
Sisupala came and burnt Dwaraka, while Krishna and his army was at Pragjyotisha Kingdom. While king Bhoja was sporting on the Raivataka hill, he fell upon the attendants of that king and slew and led away many of them in chains to his own city.
Salwa's attack on Dvaraka
The attack by Salwa on Dwaraka is a much-debated topic, since it undoubtedly has the signs of an aerial-warfare. Historians are of the opinion that it could be a naval attack, described in the fashion of an aerial attack. For example the flying car or combat aircraft of Salwa, named Saubha could actually be a navy ship. This explanation suits well since Dwaraka was a city in a small island, surrounded by sea.
Salwa king, burning with fierce anger, upon the death of Sisupala by Vasudeva Krishna during the Rajasuya sacrifice of Yudhisthira at Indraprastha, came to Dwaraka. Krishna was then at Indraprastha. He arrived there on a car made of precious metals and hence called the Souva (some times called Saubha, though a city also have the same name). He slew many young Vrishni heroes and destroyed many gardens of the city. He addressed all the Anarttas (clearly indicating that Anarta was the greater-country while Dwaraka was its capital), asking them to reveal where is Krishna. He rose into the sky on his car of precious metals capable of going anywhere at will. Salwa king's capital was mentioned here as Maticka. Salwa considered Sisupala as his brother. When Krishna came back to the city he saw the destroyed Dwaraka and the slain heroes. Krishna went in search of Salwa, and found him in an island in the midst of the ocean. (3,14)
The fortification of Dwaraka
Salwa, stationing his forces in array, besieged that city around and above. And
stationing himself in the upper regions, the king began his fight with the city. And that encounter commenced with a thick shower of weapons from all sides. The city at that time was well-fortified on all sides, according to the science (of fortification), with pennons, and arches, and combatants, and walls and turrets, and engines, and miners, and streets barricaded with spiked wood-works and towers and edifices with gate-ways well-filled with provisions, and engines for hurling burning brands and fires, and vessels, of deer-skins (for carrying water), and trumpets, tabors, and drums, lances and forks, and Sataghnis, and plough-shares, rockets, balls of stone and battle-axes and other weapons and shield embossed with iron, and engines for hurling balls and bullets and hot liquids! And the city was also well-defended by numerous cars. Yadava heroes (Gada, Samva, Uddhava) placing themselves on commanding posts, aided by cavalry and standard-bearers, began to defend the town.
High alert proclaimed in the city
To prevent carelessness, Ugrasena, Uddhava and others proclaimed throughout the city that nobody should drink. All the Vrishnis and the Andhakas, well-knowing that they would be slain by Salwa if they behaved carelessly, remained sober and watchful. The police soon drove out of the city all mimes and dancers and singers of the Anartta country. And all the bridges over rivers were destroyed, and boats forbidden to ply, and the trenches (around the city) were spiked with poles at the bottom. And the land around the city for full two miles was rendered uneven, and holes and pits were dug thereon, and combustibles were secreted below the surface. Dwaraka fort is naturally strong and always well-defended and filled with all kinds of weapons! And in consequence of the preparations made, the city was more prepared than ever to meet the foe.
Identity signs were made strict
At the time of Salwa’s approach,nobody could either enter or leave the town of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas without presenting the sign that had been agreed upon. And all the streets of the town and the open spaces were filled with numerous elephants and horses! The combatants were all especially gratified with allowances and wages, and rations, and weapons, and dresses! And amongst the combatants there was none who was not paid in gold, and none who was not paid at all, and none who was not somehow obliged, and none who was not of tried valour! It was thus Dwaraka, abounding in well-ordered arrangements, was defended by Ahuka (Ugrasena).
Camping of Salwa's army
Kings, Salwa, the lord of Saubha, came towards our city with an immense force consisting of infantry, cavalry and elephants! And the army headed by king Salwa, consisting of four kings of forces, occupied a level ground commanding a copious water-supply. And forsaking cemeteries and temples dedicated to the gods, and sacred trees, and grounds covered by anthills, that host occupied every other place. Divisions of the army blocked the roads (leading to the city), and the enemy’s camp also blocked all the secret entrances. Salwa's host was equipped with all kinds of arms, skilled in all weapons, consisting of a dense display of cars and elephants and cavalry abounding in banners, and well-paid and well-fed foot-soldiers possessed of great strength and bearing every mark of heroism and furnished with wonderful chariots and bows.
The Battle outside Dvaraka
Beholding the army of Salwa, the youthful princess of the Vrishni race resolved to encounter it sallying out of the city. Charudeshna, Samva, and Pradyumna sailed out, ascending on their chariots, and clad in mail, and decked with ornaments, with colours flying, resolved to encounter the mighty and countless host of Salwa. Samva caused Salwa's general Kshemavriddhi to flee. He slew Vegavat. Charudeshna slew Vivindhya. Salwa defeated Pradyumna but Pradyumna's driver bore him away. He came back after regaining strength and attacked Salwa and made him flee. When Vasudeva Krishna came back from Indraprastha there were no sounds of Vedic recitation or sacrificial offering, the excellent damsels were all destitute of ornaments, and the gardens were devoid of beauty.
Krishna's fight with Salwa
Accompanied by army consisting of the four kinds of the forces so persevering in battle, Krishna set out from Dwaraka. And crossing many countries, and mountains, crowned with trees, and pieces of water, and streams, he at last arrived at the country of Matrikavarta (alias Matika). There, Krishna got the intelligence that Salwa was coursing on his car of precious metals near the ocean. Krishna followed in his pursuit. Having reached the main force, Salwa on his car of costly metals was in the midst of the deep heaving with billows! Salwa challenged Krishna repeatedly to fight. Many arrows discharged from Krishna's bow didn't reach his car. Salwa began to shoot thousand upon thousands of arrows in torrents! He rained shafts upon soldiers. But without thinking of the shafts, Krishna continued the conflict. But as that car (or ship ?) of costly metals was in the sky (or in ocean ?), full two miles off, it could not, be seen by Krishna's troops. They could therefore only remaining on the field of battle look on like spectators in a place of amusement. Krishna shot arrows at the car, which penetrated into the bodies of the Danavas. Then arose cries in the car of precious metals from those that were dying of wounds by those sharp arrows and falling into the waters of the mighty ocean. The Danavas deprived of their arms, necks, and wearing the form of Kavandhas,--fell, sending up tremendous roars. And as they fell animals living in the waters of the ocean devoured them. Seeing his soldiers fall, Salwa the possessor of the car of precious metals, began to fight with the help of illusion. Then he began to ceaselessly hurl at Krishna, maces, and ploughshares, and winged darts and lances, and javelins, and battle-axes, and swords and arrows blazing like javelins and thunderbolts, and nooses, and broad swords, and bullets from barrels, and shafts, and axes, and rockets. He began the contest with mountain peaks (large boulders?). Then there was darkness and light alternately, and the day was now fair, and now gloomy, and now hot, and now cold. And there was a perfect shower of coals, and ashes, and weapons. Then the dome of heaven blazed as with a hundred suns, and with one hundred moons, and thousands and ten thousands of stars! And then none could ascertain whether it was day or night, or distinguish the points of the horizon. Becoming bewildered, Krishna fixed on my bowstring the weapon called Pragnastra. Having regained, light, Krishna again fought with the enemy!
Salwa gives false intelligence to Krishna
A certain person, having his home in Dwaraka quickly coming to Krishna's car, addressed him like a friend, delivering to him, a message from Ahuka! He seemed to be one of Ahuka’s followers. And sadly and in a voice choked in sorrow, he said words:- "O warrior, Ahuka, the lord of Dwaraka, hath said these words unto thee! O Krishna, hear what thy father’s friend sayeth: in thy absence today Salwa, coming to Dwaraka, hath by main force killed Vasudeva, your father! Therefore, no need of battle any more. Cease, O Krishna! Do thou defend Dwaraka."
Disregarding this false information, though temporarily stunned by it, Krishna continued the fight.
Krishna slays Salwa and destroys Saubha city
This last part of the war, seem to be fought in an island in the midst of ocean. Saubha seems to be a city in that island. Salwa's troops made a shower of boulders at Krishna and his army. Krishna managed to destroy those boulders with a weapon resembling thunderbolt. Salwa's car was away from visibility. Krishna launched his weapon named Sudarsana. That weapon cleft Salwa in twain who in that fierce conflict was at the point of hurling a heavy mace. With its energy it set the foe ablaze. After that brave warrior was slain, the disheartened Danava women fled in all directions, exclaiming Oh! and Alas! Taking his chariot in front of the town of Saubha Krishna cheerfully blew his conch and gladdened the hearts of his friends. Beholding their town, high as the peak of the Meru, with its palaces and gateways utterly destroyed, and all ablaze, the Danavas fled in fear. Having thus destroyed the town of Saubha and slain Salwa, Krishna returned to the Anarttas and delighted all friends.
Many historians argue that this foe who fought with Krishna in the sky or ocean was not the Salwa of Mritikavarta. Mritikavara was a city, also known as Matika, Martika, Mritikavati etc. It was the capital of Salwa Kingdom in Rajasthan situated to the south-west of Madra Kingdom and to the west of Matsya Kingdom ruled by king Virata. This Salwa came and attacked Dwaraka, to avenge the death of Sisupala and was vanquished by Pradyumna, the son of Vasudeva Krishna. The other enemy was probably an ally of this king Salwa. King Salwa could have prompted this foe to attack Dwaraka from the sea. Krishna might have got this intelligence when he reached Mritikavarta. Then Krishna urgently reached the ocean surrounding Dwaraka where he fought this naval war. This enemy is certainly a sea-faring Danava and an Asura probably belonging to another civilization. They might have launched this attack on Dwaraka, from their island close to the Arabian Peninsula. The name Salwa is linked with Arabia as far as Kuwait.
Pandya's enmity towards Dvaraka
Sarangadhwaja was the king of the Pandyas. Vasudeva Krishna invaded his country. All his kinsmen fled and his father was slain by Vasudeva Krishna in battle. Obtaining weapons then from Bhishma and Drona, Bhargava Rama and Kripa, king Sarangadhwaja became, in weapons, the equal of Rukmi and Karna and Arjuna and Krishna. He then desired to destroy the city of Dwaraka and subjugate the whole world. Wise friends, however, from desire of doing him good, counselled him against that course. Giving up all thoughts of revenge, he is now ruling his own dominions. He later made friendship with Krishna and allied with Pandavas in the Kurukshetra War.
Dvaraka sinks into the ocean
Dwarakadheesh temple in present Dwarka city, believed to have been originally built by Lord Krishna's grandson, Vajranabha, over the hari-griha (Lord Krishna's residential place). The account of Dvaraka's sinking into the ocean is found in book 16 of the Mahabharata (Mausala-parvan).
Day by day strong winds blew. Earthen pots showed cracks or broke from no apparent cause. Society became corrupt. The day of the new moon coincided with the thirteenth (and the fourteenth) lunation. The fourteenth lunation has been made the fifteenth by Rahu once more. Such a day had happened at the time of the great battle of Bharatas. (Kurukshetra War). It has once more appeared. After that war 36 years had passed. The messengers proclaimed at the command of Vasudeva Krishna that the Vrishnis should make a journey to the seacoast for bathing in the sacred waters of the ocean.
The Yadavas, then, with their wives, proceeded to Prabhasa and took up their residence there, each in the (temporary) habitation that was assigned to him, and all having an abundance of provisions consisting of edibles and drink. The Vrishnis, mixing with wine the food that had been cooked for high-souled Brahmanas, gave it away unto monkeys and apes. Those heroes of fierce energy then began their high revels, of which drinking formed the chief feature, at Prabhasa. Then a dispute arose between Satyaki and Kritavarman on the wrongs they did in the Kurukshetra War. This dispute turned into a great massacre, in which all the Yadava heroes were slain.
Arjuna arrived at Dwaraka and addressed the chief officers, to prepare to leave Dwaraka within 7 days, as Dwaraka is going to sink in the ocean. Krishna's grandson Vajra was chosen as their king to be ruled at Indraprastha. Arjuna then proceeded to the place where the Vrishnis were slaughtered. Searching out the bodies then of Bala Rama, Arjuna caused them to be burnt by persons skilled in that act. On the seventh day, Arjuna evacuated Dwaraka Island. After all the people had set out, the ocean flooded Dvaraka, which still teemed with wealth of every kind, with its waters. Whatever portion of the ground was passed over, ocean immediately flooded over with his waters. Beholding this wonderful sight, the inhabitants of Dvaraka walked faster and faster.
Pandavas on their last journey before death, saw Dwaraka covered by ocean.
Kunti, the mother of Pandavas and the first wife of Kuru king Pandu, was the adopted daughter of the king Kuntibhoja. Her given name was Pritha and she was a sister of Vasudeva, the father of Vasudeva Krishna. The Kunti kingdom was neighbour to the Avanti Kingdom. It was probably to the north of Avanti.
References in Mahabharata
The 18 tribes which fled due to attacks from Jarasandha
The eighteen tribes of the Bhojas, from fear of Jarasandha, have all fled towards the west; so also have the Surasenas, the Bhadrakas, the Vodhas, the Salwas, the Patachchavas, the Susthalas, the Mukuttas, and the Kulindas, along with the Kuntis. And the king of the Salwayana tribe with their brethren and followers; and the southern Panchalas and the eastern Kosalas have all fled to the country of the Kuntis. So also the Matsyas and the Sannyastapadas, overcome with fear, leaving their dominions in the north, have fled into the southern country. And so all the Panchalas, alarmed at the power of Jarasandha, have left their own kingdom and fled in all directions.
Kingdoms near Kuru Kingdom
Surrounding the kingdom of the Kurus, are, many countries beautiful and abounding in corn, such as Panchala, Chedi, Matsya, Surasena, Pattachchara, Dasarna, Navarashtra, Malla, Salva, Yugandhara, Saurashtra, Avanti, and the spacious Kunti-Rashtra (Kingdom).
List of Kingdoms in Bharata Varsha (Ancient India)
From the extract below, it seems there were two kingdoms with the name Kunti, one Kunti proper and the other Apara Kunti, which means a Kunti Kingdom farther away.
.......the Chedis, the Karushas, the Bhojas, the Sindhus, the Pulindakas, the Uttamas, the Dasharnas, the Mekalas, the Utkalas; the Panchalas, the Kausijas, the Nikarprishthas, Dhurandharas; the Sodhas, the Madrabhujingas, the Kasis, and the further-Kasis; the Jatharas, the Kukuras, the Kuntis, the Avantis, and the Apara-Kuntis; the Gomantas, the Mandakas, the Shandas, the Vidarbhas, the Rupavahikas; the Aswakas, the Pansurashtras, the Goparashtras, and the Karityas; the Adhirjayas,.....
Bhargava Rama's Annihilation of Khsatrias
The valiant son of Jamadagni, Bhargava Rama, proceeding against the Kashmiras, the Daradas, the Kuntis, the Kshudrakas, the Malavas, the Angas, the Vangas, the Kalingas, the Videhas, the Tamraliptakas, the Rakshovahas, the Vitahotras, the Trigartas, the Martikavatas, counting by thousand, slew them all by means of his whetted shafts.
The Kuntis possessed of great prowess in battle, endued with great energy and great might, have been slain in fight by Bhishma, with all their kinsmen and advisers.
Saurashtra kingdom was one among the many kingdoms ruled by Yadava kings in the central and western India. Other kingdoms in this group include Chedi Kingdom, Dasarna Kingdom, Surasena Kingdom or Vraja Kingdom, Karusha Kingdom, Kunti Kingdom, Avanti Kingdom, Malava Kingdom, Gurjara Kingdom, Anarta Kingdom, Dwaraka Kingdom, Heheya Kingdom and Vidarbha Kingdom.
The peninsular region forming the southern Gujarat is still known as Saurashtra.
References in Mahabharata
Sahadeva's Military Campaign
And next turning his forces against the Paurava kingdom, Sahadeva vanquished and reduced to subjection the monarch thereof. And the prince, after this, with great efforts brought Akriti, the princess of Saurashtra and official message girl of the Kausikas under his sway. The virtuous princess, while staying in the kingdom of Saurashtra sent an amiguously flamboyant ambassador unto king Rukmin of Bhishmaka within the territories of Bhojakata.
Karna rebuking Shalya
Karna, when angry with Shalya, rebukes him and those who have cultural similarity with his race.
The Pancalas observe the duties enjoined in the Vedas; the Kauravas observe truth; the Matsyas and the Surasenas perform sacrifices, the Easterners follow the practices of the Shudras; the Southerners are fallen; the Vahikas are thieves; the Saurashtras are bastards.
Sage Dhaumya describes the holy places in Saurashtra
I shall now, O Yudhisthira, describe the sacred spots, and asylums, and rivers and lakes belonging to the Surashtra country! O Yudhishthira, on the sea-coast is the Chamasodbheda, and also Prabhasa, that tirtha which is much regarded by the Gods. There also is the tirtha called Pindaraka, frequented by ascetics. In that region is a mighty hill named Ujjayanta which conduceth to speedy success. Regarding it the celestial Rishi Narada hath recited an ancient sloka. By performing austerities on the sacred hill of Ujjayanta in Surashtra, that abounds in birds and animals, a person becometh regarded in heaven. There also is Dwaravati, producing great merit, where dwelleth the illustrious Vasudeva Krishna.
Bhima's list of 18 bad kings
Even as, when Dharma became extinct, Kali was born in the race of Asuras flourishing with prosperity and blazing with energy, so was born Udavarta among the Haihayas. Janamejaya among the Nepas, Vahula among the Talajanghas, proud Vasu among the Krimis, Ajavindu among the Suviras, Rushardhik among the Surashtras, Arkaja among the Valihas, Dhautamulaka among the Chinas, Hayagriva among the Videhas, Varayu among the Mahaujasas, Vahu among the Sundaras, Pururavas among the Diptakshas, Sahaja among the Chedis and Matsyas, Vrishaddhaja among the Praviras, Dharana among the Chandra-batsyas, Bigahana among the Mukutas and Sama among the Nandivegas. These vile individuals spring up, at the end of each Yuga, in their respective races, for the destruction of their kinsmen.
That large force which was well protected by mighty car-warriors of the Vrishni and the Bhoja races, as also by the warriors of Surashtra well-armed and well-acquainted with the uses of weapons, and which was led by Kritavarman, proceeded towards the south of the Kaurava army.
Arjuna's Post-War Military campaign
Battle took place between the Arjuna and the Dravidas and Andhras and the fierce Mahishakas and the hillmen of Kolwa. Subjugating those tribes without having to accomplish any fierce feats, Arjuna proceeded to the country of the Surashtras, his footsteps guided by the horse. He repaired thence to Prabhasa. Next he proceeded to the beautiful city of Dwaravati protected by the heroes of the Vrishni race. When the beautiful sacrificial horse of the Kuru king reached Dwaravati, the Yadava youths, used force against that foremost of steeds. King Ugrasena, however, soon went out and forbade those youths from doing what they meditated.
Heheya kingdom (also known as Haihaya, Haiheya, Heiheya, etc.) was one of the many kingdoms ruled by Chandravanshi Kshatriya kings in the central and western India. It was the strongest of the kingdoms and had the powerful ruler Kartavirya Arjuna who even defeated Rakshasa Ravana. Its capital was Mahishmati (modern city of Maheshwar) on the banks of river Narmada in Madhya Pradesh. They conquered many other kingdoms of India. However, the enmity with the warrior-type Brahmins by the name of Bhargavas resulted in their demise. Parasurama was the Bhargava leader under whom they were exterminated. Talajangha was an allied kingdom of Heheya, probably to the east of it.
References in Mahabharata
Disputes with the Ikswaku Kings
Sagara was a king of Kosala Kingdom, ruling from Ayodhya. He was born in the lineage of Ikshwaku. Ikshwakus were a famous royal dynasty of ancient India. Sagara is mentioned as the son of Jadu. He had an army of 60,000 men, all of who he treated as his sons.
The Ikswaku king Sagara is said to have defeated the Haihayas and the Talajanghas. He brought under subjection the whole of the military caste.
The Haihayas and Talajanghas of Vatsa Kingdom
Haihayas and Talajanghas probably had their origin in Vatsa Kingdom. Haihayas in Vatsa kingdom, known collectively as Vitahavyas, under their king named Vitahavya, attacked the neignboring country called Kasi, during the reign of four successive generations of Kasi kings viz that of Haryaswa, Sudeva, Divodasa and Pratarddana. The last one among them, viz Pratarddana, defeated the Haihayas and probably expelled them from the Vatsa kingdom. Kasi kings were also born in the race of Ikshwaku. This could be the seed of Haihayas's dispute with them.
Haihayas attack of Kasi during the reign of Haryaswa
In Saryati’s lineage (Saryati and Ikshwaku were two among the many sons of Manu, two kings took their birth, viz., Haihaya and Talajangha. Both of them were sons of Vatsa. Haihaya had ten wives and a hundred sons, all of whom were highly inclined to fighting. In Kasi, also, there was a king, the grandfather of Divodasa, known by the name of Haryyaswa. The sons of king Haihaya, who was otherwise known by the name of Vitahavyas, invaded the kingdom of Kasi. Advancing into that country that lies between the rivers Ganga and Yamuna, he fought a battle with king Haryyaswa and also slew him in it. The sons of Haihaya fearlessly went back to their own delightful city in the country of the Vatsas.
Haihayas attack of Kasi during the reign of Sudeva
Meanwhile Haryyaswa’s son Sudeva was installed on the throne of Kasi as its ruler. That righteous-souled prince ruled his kingdom for sometime, when the hundred sons of Vitahavya once more invaded his dominions and defeated him in battle. Having vanquished king Sudeva thus, the victors returned to their own city.
Haihayas attack of Kasi during the reign of Divodasa
After that Divodasa, the son of Sudeva, became installed on the throne of Kasi as its ruler. Realising the prowess of those high-souled princes, viz., the sons of Vitahavya, king Divodasa, endued with great energy, rebuilt and fortified the city of Baranasi (Varanasi or Banaras) at the command of Indra. The territories of Divodasa were full of Brahmanas and Kshatriyas, and abounded with Vaisyas and Sudras. And they teemed with articles and provisions of every kind, and were adorned with shops and marts swelling with prosperity. Those territories stretched northwards from the banks of Ganga to the southern banks of Gomati, and resembled a second Amravati (the city of Indra). The Haihayas once again, attacked. King Divodasa fought the enemy for a thousand days at the end of which, having lost a number of followers and animals, he became exceedingly distressed. King Divodasa having lost his army and seeing his treasury exhausted left his capital and fled away. He sought protection of his priest, Bharadwaja the son of Vrihaspati.
Divodasa's son Pratarddana attacks the Haihays
Divodasa wished for a brave son who could revenge the Vitahavyas (the Haihayas of Vatsa Kingdom). With his priest Bharadwaja's blessings he obtained a son named Pratarddana. He became well skilled in battle. Divodasa instaled his son on the throne of Kasi and asked him to march against the sons of Vitahavya (Vitahavyas). He speedily crossed the Ganga on his car, followed by his army and proceeded against the city of the Vitahavyas. The Vitahavyas issued out of their city in their cars and poured upon Pratarddana, showers of weapons of various kind. Pratarddana slew them all in battle. The Haihaya king Vitahavya then, all his sons and kinsmen dead, sought protection of his priest Bhrigu. Bhrigu converted him a Brahmana. Sage Saunaka (The entire Mahabharata is structured as a narration of the story teller Ugrasrava Sauti to Saunaka) was born in the line of this Vitahavya.
Haihaya king Kartavirya Arjuna (also known as Sahastrabahoo Arjun or Sahastrarjun)
Endued with a thousand arms (could be a thousand attendands acting as his hands, for executing his commands) and great beauty the mighty Kartavirya, in days of yore, became the lord of all the world. He had his capital in the city of Mahishmati. Of unbaffled prowess, that chief of the Haihaya race of Kshatriyas swayed the whole earth with her belt of seas, together with all her islands and all her precious mines of gold and gems. Keeping before him the duties of the Kshatriya order, as also humility and Vedic knowledge, the king made large gifts of wealth unto the sage Dattatreya.
Other Haihaya Kings
Enmity with the Bhargavas
The Haiheya tribe's dispute with Bhargavas (a clan of Bhrahmins) is mentioned at various places in Mahabharata. The leader of the Bhargavas viz Bhargava Rama, the son of Jamadagni, is said to kill the Haiyaya king Kartavirya Arjuna. This dispute didn't end there. The Bhargavas went all over India and slew numerous Kshatriya kings, most of them, being the kinsmen of Kartavirya Arjuna.
In consequence of the unrivalled battle-axe of fiery splendour and irresistible sharpness, Bhargava Rama became unrivalled on earth. He obtained the battle-axe from Mahadeva of Gandhamadana mountains, in the Himalayas.
Meanwhile the mighty son of Kritavirya, viz., Arjuna of the Kshatriya order and ruler of the Haihayas, endued with great energy, highly virtuous in behaviour, and possessed of a thousand arms through the grace of (the great sage) Dattatreya, having subjugated in battle, by the might of his own arms, the whole earth with her mountains and seven islands, became a very powerful emperor.
The king, Arjuna by name, the mighty lord of the Haihaya tribe was killed by Rama.
Signs of a tribal war
"Even though only the leaders viz Bhargava Rama and Kartavirya Arjuna were mentioned in most places, there is evidance that many people were involeved in this dispute. It could be a dispute between two tribes, spanning generations.
Once on a time the Brahmanas, raising a standard of Kusa grass, encountered in battle the Kshatriyas of the Haihaya clan endued with immeasurable energy. The Vaisyas and the Sudras followed the Brahmanas, so that all the three orders were on one side, while the Kshatriyas were alone on the other. In the battles, however, that ensued, the three orders repeatedly broke, while the Kshatriyas, though alone, vanquished large army that was opposed to them. Then those best of Brahmanas enquired of the Kshatriyas themselves as to the cause of this. The Kshatriyas told, ‘In battle we obey the orders of one person endued with great intelligence, while ye are disunited from one another and act according to your individual understanding.’ The Brahmanas then appointed one amongst themselves as their commander, who was brave and conversant with the ways of policy. And they then succeeded in vanquishing Haihaya the Kshatriyas.
The summary of the dispute
Bhargava Rama's father was slain by the Kartavirya Arjuna's kinsmen.
Bhargava Rama's father Jamadagni, having been slain and his calf having been stolen by the Kshatriyas, he slew Kartavirya who had never been vanquished before by foes. With his bow he slew 64 times 10,000 Kshatriyas. In that slaughter were included 14,000 Brahmana-hating Kshatriyas of the Dantakura country, all of whom he slew. Of the Haihayas, he slew a 1000 with his short club, a 1000 with his sword, and a 1000 by hanging. Rama slew 10,000 Kshatriyas with his axe. He could not quietly bear the furious speeches uttered by those (foes of his). And when many foremost of Brahmans uttered exclamations, mentioning the name of Rama of Bhrigu’s race, he proceeding against the Kashmiras, the Daradas, the Kuntis, the Kshudrakas, the Malavas, the Angas, the Vangas, the Kalingas, the Videhas, the Tamraliptakas, the Rakshovahas, the Vitahotras, the Trigartas, the Martikavatas, counting by thousand, slew them all by means of his whetted shafts. Proceeding from province to province, he thus slew thousands of crores of Haihaya-Kshatriyas. Creating a deluge of blood and filling many lakes also with blood and bringing all the 18 islands under his subjection, he performed a 100 sacrifices.
Nishadha was the kingdom of the celebrated king Nala, who loved and married Damayanti the princess of Vidarbha Kingdom. This kingdom is identified with current day Gwalior district of Madhya Pradesh. Nishadha was connected to Dasarna and Kosala as well as with Vidarbha through trade routes.
References in Mahabharata
Connection with the Kuru Dynasty of kings
See Also: Kuru Kingdom
Samvarana begat upon his wife, Tapati, the daughter of Surya, a son named Kuru. He was installed on the throne by his people. It is after his name that the field called Kurujangala has become so famous in the world. Devoted to asceticism, he made that field (Kurukshetra) sacred by practising asceticism there. Kuru’s wife, Vahini, brought forth five sons, viz., Avikshit, Bhavishyanta, Chaitraratha, Muni and the celebrated Janamejaya (Janamejaya the 2nd). And Avikshit begat Parikshit (Parikshit the 1st) the powerful, Savalaswa, Adhiraja (Dantavaktra was a king of the Adhirajas), Viraja, Salmali of great physical strength, Uchaihsravas, Bhangakara and Jitari the eighth. In the race of these were born, seven mighty car-warriors with Janamejaya (Janamejaya the 3rd) at their head. And unto Parikshit (Parikshit the 1st) were born Kakshasena and Ugrasena, and Chitrasena and Indrasena and Sushena and Bhimasena. And the sons of Janamejaya (Janamejaya the 3rd) were Dhritarashtra (Dhritarashtra the 1st)who was the eldest, and Pandu (Pandu the 1st) and Valhika (Vahlika the 1st), and Nishadha and Jamvunada, and then Kundodara and Padati and then Vasati the eighth.
Among them Dhritarashtra (Dhritarashtra the 1st) became king. And Dhritarashtra (Dhritarashtra the 1st) had eight sons, viz., Kundika, Hasti, Vitarka, Kratha the fifth, Havihsravas, Indrabha, and Bhumanyu , and Dhritarashtra (Dhritarashtra the 1st) had many grandsons, of whom three only were famous. They were, O king, Pratipa, Dharmanetra, Sunetra. Among these three, Pratipa became unrivalled on earth. And, Pratipa begat three sons, viz., Devapi, Santanu, and Valhika (Vahlika the 2nd). The eldest Devapi adopted the ascetism. And the kingdom was obtained by Santanu and Valhika.
The history of King Nala of Nishadha
There was a celebrated king among the Nishadhas, named Virasena. He had a son named Nala, versed in the knowledge of virtue and wealth. It hath been heard by us that, that king was deceitfully defeated by Pushkara, and afflicted with calamity, he dwelt in the woods with his spouse Damayanti.
Nala to Damayanti, on the roads running through Nishadha Kingdom
These many roads lead to the southern country, passing by (the city of) Avanti and the Rikshavat mountains. This is that mighty mountain called Vindhya; yon, the river Payasvini running seawards, and yonder are the asylums of the ascetics, furnished with various fruit and roots. This road leadeth to the country of the Vidarbhas—and that, to the country of the Kosalas. Beyond these roads to the south is the southern country.’ Addressing Bhima’s daughter, he distressed king Nala spake those words unto Damayanti over and over again.
Giriprastha, a place in Nishadha
Indra for the purpose of overcoming his foes, dwelt in disguise in the asylum of Giriprastha, in Nishadha and thus attained his end.
A Mountain Range named Nishadha
Stretching from east to west, are these six mountains that extend from the eastern to the western ocean. They are Himavat, Hemakuta, that best of mountains called Nishadha, Nila abounding with stones of lapis lazuli, Sweta white as the moon, and the mountains called Sringavat composed of all kinds of metals.
On the south of Nila and the north of Nishadha, there is a huge Jamvu tree that is eternal.
On the south of Sweta and the north of Nishadha, is the Varsha (Region or a sub-continent), called Romanaka. The men that are born there are all of white complexion, of good parentage, and handsome features. And the men born there are also all without enemies. On the south of Nishadha is the Varsha called Hiranmaya where is the river called Hiranwati. There liveth the great Garuda. And the people there are all followers of the Yakshas, wealthy, and of handsome features. The men there are endued with great strength and have cheerful hearts.
Nishadha, in the list of Kingdoms in Bharata Varsha (Ancient India)
..........the Pundras, the Bhargas, the Kiratas, the Sudeshnas, and the Yamunas, the Sakas, the Nishadhas, the Anartas, the Nairitas, the Durgalas, the Pratimasyas, the Kuntalas, and the Kusalas; the Tiragrahas, the Ijakas, the Kanyakagunas, the Tilabharas, the Samiras, the Madhumattas,..........
Nishadhas in Kurukshetra War
In the tail of the array stood Vikartana’s son Karna, with his sons, kinsmen and friends, and surrounded by a large force raised from diverse realms, Jayadratha, and Bhimaratha, and Sampati, and the Jays, and the Bhojas, and Bhuminjaya, and Vrisha, and Kratha, and the mighty ruler of the Nishadhas, all accomplished in battle, surrounded by a large host, in the heart of that array.
Karna's Military Campaign
He had subjugated many invincible and mighty foes—the Gandharas, the Madrakas, the Matsyas, the Trigartas, the Tanganas, the Khasas, the Pancalas, the Videhas, the Kulindas, the Kasi-kosalas, the Suhmas, the Angas, the Nishadhas, the Pundras, the Kichakas, the Vatsas, the Kalingas, the Taralas, the Asmakas, and the Rishikas.
Gurjara Kingdom (also known as Go Rashtra, Gopas, Gopa Rashtra) was one among the many kingdoms ruled by Lord Krishna in the central and western India.
During the Mahabharata period, Gurjars were on their migratory phase from Mathura to Dwaraka.. In the epic Mahabharata, they were mentioned as Gopa Rashtras and as Gopas. They have participated in the Kurukshetra War, siding with Duryodhana, though they had close kinship with Vasudeva Krishna. Gurjaras or Gujjars later inhabited the eastern valley of Aravalli Range in Rajasthan. Finally some tribes migrated to Gujarat, thus giving the name Gujarasrtra or Gujarat to the Indian state Gujarat.Gurjars ruled in Gujarat from 6th to 12th century under the name of Gurjara pratihara.
References in Mahabharata
Gopa Rashra was mentioned as a kingdom in Ancient India (Bharata Varsha) along with the Pansu Rashtras, the Karityas, the Adhirjayas (Karusha king Dantavatra is often designated as the ruler of the Adhirajyas or Adhirjayas), the Kuladyas, the Mallarashtras etc.
Role in Kurukshetra War
Gopas where allied with Kauravas
The pact of Vasudeva Krishna to Arjuna and Duryodhana:- There is a large body of cowherds known as the Narayanas, all of whom are able to fight in the thick of battle. These soldiers shall be sent to one of you and I alone, resolved not to fight on the field, and laying down my weapons, will go to the other. Arjuna selected Vasudeva Krishna and Duryodhana selected Krishna's army.
Many thousands of Gopas with a large Gopayana force battled in the Kurukshetra War, at Kauravas side, against the Pandavas, along with other armies, like the Madras, the Sauviras, the Gandharas, the Trigartas and the Kalingas.
Battle against Arjuna
While Arjuna was proceeding towards Bhagadatta, the mighty Samsaptaka car-warriors ( a division of the Trigarta army), numbering 14000, consisting of 10000 Gopalas or Narayanas who used to follow Vasudeva Krishna, summoned Arjuna to battle.
The Abhishahas, the Surasenas, the Sivis, the Vasatis, the Mavellakas, the Lilithyas, the Kaikeyas, the Madrakas, the Narayana Gopalas, and the various tribes of the Kamvojas who had before been vanquished by Karna, placing Drona at their head rushed towards Arjuna. The Narayana troops and the Gopalas were placed in the Makara battle-array formed by the Kaurava generallisimo Karna.
Destruction of the army of Gopas
Those heroes, the Narayana Gopas who live and grew in Gokula (Gokul is a place in Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, in those days, part of the Surasena Kingdom), who were exceedingly wrathful in battle, and who never retreated from the field have been slain by Arjuna.
Karusha Kingdom was one among the many kingdoms ruled by Yadava kings in the central and western India.
References in Mahabharata
Karusha was mentioned as a kingdom of ancient India (Bharata Varsha) along with the Kuntalas, the Kasi-kosalas, the Chedis, the Bhojas.
Alliance with Yadavas, Chedis and Magadhas
Alliance with the Yadavas
Alliance with the Chedis
Alliance with the Magadhas
Dispute with Chedi King Sisupala
Karusha region on the sea coast
Karusha was also a type of tree. Karusha region was probably the regions where these trees grew in abundance
Kiratas (hunter-gatherers) armed with cruel weapons and ever engaged in cruel deeds, eating of fruits and roots and attired in skins and living on the northern slopes of the Himavat and on the eastern mountains and in the region of Karusha on the sea-coast (possibly in the sea coast of Bangladesh) and on both sides of the Lohitya mountains (Lohit, Arunachal Pradesh. They brought tribute to Pandava king Yudhisthira.
Karushas in Kurukshetra War
The assembled kings of the Chedi and the Karusha tribes joined the Pandavas with all their resources. Karusha army was placed under the general Dhristaketu who was the king of Chedi Kingdom . The Chedis, Karushas and Kasis were placed under him.
Other armies allied with the Pandavas who fought along with the Karushas were the Matsyas, Panchalas, Srinjayas, Somakas, Prabhadrakas, some Surasenas, Suras, some Kekayas, Pandyas, Kanchis, Keralas, Cholas, Dravidas, Andharas, some Kosalas, some Magadhas and the Yadavas under Satyaki and Chekitana.
Chedi kingdom was one among the many kingdoms ruled during early periods by Paurava kings and later by Yadav kings in the central and western India. It falls roughly in the Bundelkhand division of Madhya Pradesh regions to the south of river Yamuna and along river Betwa or Vetravati. The Chedi kingdom was ruled by Sisupala, an ally of Jarasandha of Magadha and Duryodhana of Kuru. He was a rival of Vasudeva Krishna who was his uncle's son. He was killed by Vasudeva Krishna during the Rajasuya sacrifice of the Pandava king Yudhisthira. Bhima's wife was from Chedi. The city called Suktimati is mentioned as the capital of Chedi. Prominent Chedis during Kurukshetra War included Damaghosha, Shishupala, Dhrishtaketu, Suketu, Sarabha, Bhima's wife, Nakula's wife Karenumati, Dhristaketu's sons. Other famous Chedis included King Uparichara Vasu, his children, King Suvahu, King Sahaja.
References in Mahābhārata
Chedi mentioned as a Kingdom of Ancient India (Bharata Varsha)
The Kuru-Panchalas, the Salwas, the Madreyas, the Jangalas, the Surasena, the Kalingas, the Vodhas, the Malas, the Matsyas, the Sauvalyas, the Kuntalas, the Kasi-Kosalas, the Chedis, the Karushas, the Bhojas.
Chedi was one among the kingdoms chosen for spending the 13th year of exile by the Pandavas.
Surrounding the kingdom of the Kurus, are, many countries beautiful and abounding in corn, such as Panchala, Chedi, Matsya, Surasena, Pattachchara, Dasarna, Navarashtra, Malla, Salva, Yugandhara, Saurashtra, Avanti, and the spacious Kuntirashtra.
King Uparichara Vasu and the festival of bamboo pole
Uparichara Vasu was a king of Chedi belonging to the Puru Dynasty. He was known as the friend of Indra. During his reign, Chedi kingdom contained much mineral wealth. It was abundant in animals and corn. There were many towns and cities in the kingdom. He possessed a very special chariot. He introduced a festival in his kingdom in the honor of Indra. The festival involved planting of a bamboo pole every year, in honor of Indra. The king will then pray for the expansion of his cities and kingdom. After erecting the pole, people decked it with golden cloth and scents and garlands and various ornaments. From Chedi, he ruled a large territory, placing his sons as governors of various provinces. His son Vrihadratha (Maharatha) was installed in Magadha. His other sons, viz Pratyagraha, Kusamva (Manivahana), Mavella and Yadu also became governors at various places. Thus the Chedi king attained the status of an emperor and his kingdom became a vast empire. He diverted the waters of river Suktimati from the locks of the Mountain Kolahala, for irrigating his capital-city which he named Suktimati.
His wife Girika, was from the valley of Kolahala. Girika's brother was installed as the generalissimo of Vasu's army. Apart from his five royal sons, he had a son and a daughter born of a woman of fisherman community. The male child, in due course established the Matsya Kingdom and founded the royal dynasty called Matsya Dynasty. The female child lived as a member of fishermen community. Her line established as fishermen on the banks of river Yamuna, in the kingdom of Kurus. The famous Kuru king Santanu's wife Satyavati was from this fishermen community. The author of Mahābhārata, vis Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa and the Kuru kings viz Chitrangada and Vichitravirya were the sons of Satyavati. Pandavas and Kauravas where the grandsons of Vichitravirya.
King Sisupala of Chedi
Sisupala was the son of the King Damaghosha He had another name viz Sunitha. His mother was a Yadava lady by the name Srutakirti, who was the sister of Kunti, the mother of Pandavas. Both Kunti and Srutakirti were sisters of Vasudeva the father of Vasudeva Krishna. However Sisupala developed enmity with Krishna, though he was affectionate to the Pandava Bhima. During his military campaign to collect tribute for Pandava king Yudhisthira's Rajasuya sacrifice, Bhima stayed at the palace of Sisupala for a month as a guest. He also accepted Yudhisthira's sway over his kingdom and gave Bhima tribute. During the midst of Yudhisthira's Rajasuya ceremony, a dispute arose between Sisupala and Vasudeva Krishna. Pandavas tried to mediate. He also rebuked the Pandavas and Kuru grandsire Bhishma along with Krishna. Then Krishna, extremely provoked, slew Sisupala.
Sisupala's hostilities to Krishna were many. He burned the city of Dwaraka, while Krishna was in Pragjyotisha with his army. He attacked king Bhoja, sporting at Raivataka hill close to Dwaraka. He stole the horse of Krishna's father Vasudeva, during his horse-sacrifice. He insulted the wife of Akrura (Vabhru - the friend of Krishna), on her way from Dwaraka to Sauvira Kingdom. He also insulted princess of Visala, viz Bhadra, the fiancé of Karusha king.
King Dhristaketu of Chedi
Dhristaketu , the king of Chedi , was described as the son of king Sisupala. During the time of Dhristaketu also, Suktimati was the capital of Chedi. Dhristaketu was an army-general in the army of Pandavas in Kurukshetra War. He was the leader of the army of the Chedis, the Kasis, and the Karushas. He was a Maharatha (a great car-warrior) as per the rating of Bhishma . One of his sons also took part in the war. He was slain by Drona , Dhristaketu also was slain in battle by Drona.
Other Kings of Chedi
Chedis in Kurukshetra War
Chedi King Dhristaketu and his sons
Chedi army is mentioned with many other armies fighting on the side of Pandavas
Dasarna kingdom was one among the many kingdoms ruled by Yadava kings in the central and western India. It lies to the south of Chedi and Panchala kingdoms, in northern Madhya Pradesh. The Panchala prince Sikhandi married a princess from Dasarna. Sikhandin was alleged to be one of the neuter-gender. This led to a dispute between the Dasarna king and the Panchala king Drupada.
There was another Dasarna Kingdom in the western regions along with the Sivis, Trigartas, Western-Malavas and Amvasthas. In the Punjab province of Pakisthan.
References in Mahabharata
Dasarna, a kingdom in Bharata Varsha
Dasarna is listed in the list of kingdoms of Bharata Varsha (ancient India).
The Kuru-Panchalas, the Salwas, the Madreyas, the Jangalas, the Surasena, the Kalingas, the Vodhas, the Malas, the Matsyas, the Sauvalyas, the Kuntalas, the Kasi-kosalas, the Chedis, the Karushas, the Bhojas, the Sindhus, the Pulindakas, the Uttamas, the Dasarnas, the Mekalas, the Utkalas; the Panchalas, the Kausijas
Chedi was one among the kingdoms chosen for spending the 13th year of exile by the Pandavas.
Surrounding the kingdom of the Kurus, are, many countries beautiful and abounding in corn, such as Panchala, Chedi, Matsya, Surasena, Pattachchara, Dasarna, Navarashtra, Malla, Salva, Yugandhara, Saurashtra, Avanti, and the spacious Kuntirashtra.
Pandava's travel from Dwaita forest to Matsya Kingdom
Leaving Dwaita woods Pandavas moved (eastwards) towards river Yamuna, passing through many hilss and forests. Terminating their forest life they proceeded (southwards) to the southern bank of Yamuna. By killing the deer of the forest, they passed through Yakrilloma and Surasena, (they turned westwards), leaving behind them, on their right the country of the Panchalas and to their left the Dasarnas. Finally they entered the Matsya territory, leaving the forest. The city of Virata was still far away.
The passage below, describes the locations of various ancient kingdoms. This gives a vague idea that Dasarna lied west to Panchala Kingdom
Dasarna King Sudaman
Dasarna king Sudaman had two daughters. One was married to Chedi king Viravahu (Suvahu). The other one was married to Vidarbha king Bhima. The famous princess Damayanti was the daughter of this Vidarbha king Bhima.
Dasarna King Sudharman defeated by Pandava Bhima
Bhima then subjugated the Dasarnas. There in the country of the Dasarnas, the king called Sudharman with his bare arms fought a fierce battle with Bhimasena. And Bhimasena, beholding that feat of the illustrious king, appointed the mighty Sudharman as the first in command of his forces.
Western Dasarnas defeated by Pandava Nakula
In the western region, Nakula subjugated the Dasarnas, the Sivis, the Trigartas, the Amvashtas, the Malavas, the five tribes of the Karnatas, and those twice born classes that were called the Madhyamakeyas and Vattadhanas.
Dasarna king Hiranyavarman
King Hiranyavarman possessed a large army. He had a beautiful daughter. Panchala king Drupada chose this Dasarna princess as the wife of their son Sikhandi, who was born as a female, but brought up as a man. When the secret was out regarding the true sex of Sikhandi, a war broke between Dasarnas and Panchalas. Hiranyavarman ordered his army to sack Kampilya (Kampil in Uttar Pradesh), the capital city of Panchalas. King Drupada’s city was naturally well-protected. Yet at the advent of danger, O monarch, they began to protect it all the more carefully and fortify it with defensive works.
Sikhandi, wished to die, and went to the forest of a Yaksha named Sthunakarna, who will kill any intruder into that forest. Within the forest stood his mansion with high walls and a gateway, plastered over with powdered earth, and rich with smoke bearing the fragrance of fried paddy. Entering that mansion, Sikhandi fasted for many days, to die. The Yaksha, out of kindness, converted Sikhandi into a male. He returned back to his kingdom and ended the dispute between the Dasarnas and Pachalas.
Dasarnas in Kurukshetra War
On Pandava Side
On Kaurava Side
Dasarna King Chitrangada defeated by Pandava Arjuna
Arjuna reached Dasarna during his military campaign after the Kurukshetra War.
After conquering the Kasis, the Angas, the Kosalas, the Kiratas, and the Tanganas, Arjuna reached the country of the Dasarnas. The ruler of that people was Chitrangada. Between him and Arjuna occurred a battle exceedingly terrible. Bringing him under his sway Arjuna proceeded to the dominions of the Nishada king, viz., the son of Ekalavya.
The former Avanti kingdom was one among the many kingdoms ruled by the Yadava kings in the central and western India. Ujjayani (Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh) was its capital along the river Kshipra, a tributary of river Charmanuati, which itself is a tributary of river Ganga. The Ujjayani of the past is currently known as Ujjain a busy city in Madhya Pradesh. Vasudeva Krishna and Bala Rama had their education at Ujjayani, probably the most popular Yadava city and a centre of education.
Avanti was divided into north and south by river Vetravati. Initially, Mahissati (Sanskrit Mahishamati) was the capital of Southern Avanti, and Ujjaini (Sanskrit Ujjayini) was of northern Avanti, but at the times of Mahavira and Buddha, Ujjaini was the capital of integrated Avanti. The country of Avanti roughly corresponded to modern Malwa, Nimar and adjoining parts of the Madhya Pradesh.
References in Mahabharata
Avanti mentioned as a kingdom of Ancient India
Avanti kingdom is mentioned in the list of kingdoms in ancient India (Bharata Varsha) :- ...the Kuntis, the Avantis, and the further-Kuntis; the Gomantas, the Mandakas, the Shandas, the Vidarbhas, the Rupavahikas; the Aswakas, the Pansurashtras, the Gopa rashtras, and the Karityas; the Adhirjayas, the Kuladyas, the Malla rashtras, the Keralas, the Varatrasyas, the Apavahas, the Chakras, the Vakratapas, the Sakas; the Videhas, the Magadhas
Avanti a rich kingdom
Surrounding the kingdom of the Kurus, are, many countries beautiful and abounding in corn, such as Panchala, Chedi, Matsya, Surasena, Pattachchara, Dasarna, Navarashtra, Malla, Salva, Yugandhara, Saurashtra, Avanti, and the spacious Kuntirashtra.
Avanti was well connected by ancient highways
These many roads lead to the southern country, passing by (the city of) Avanti and the Rikshavat mountains. This is that mighty mountain called Vindhya ; yon, the river Payasvini running seawards, and yonder are the asylums of the ascetics, furnished with various fruit and roots. This road leadeth to the country of the Vidarbhas —and that, to the country of the Kosalas. Beyond these roads to the south is the southern country.
Allying himself with the vanquished tribes the Pandava Sahadeva then marched towards the countries that lay on the banks of the Narmada. And defeating there in battle the two heroic kings of Avanti, called Vinda and Anuvinda, supported by a mighty host, the mighty son of the twin gods exacted much wealth from them. After this the hero marched towards the town of Bhojakata. (2,30)
Then going to Sisupala's son, the son of the Suta defeated him and that highly powerful one also brought under his sway all the neighbouring rulers. And having subjugated the Avantis and concluded peace with them, and having met with the Vrishnis, he conquered the west.
Vasudeva Krishna's Conquests
The Avantis, the Southerners, the Mountaineers, the Daserakas, the Kasmirakas, the Aurasikas, the Pisachas, the Samudgalas, the Kamvojas, the Vatadhanas, the Cholas, the Pandyas, O Sanjaya, the Trigartas, the Malavas, the Daradas difficult of being vanquished, the Khasas arrived from diverse realms, as also the Sakas, and the Yavanas with followers, were all vanquished by Vasudeva Krishna
Avanti King in Yudhisthira's Rajasuya
Avanti kings allied with the Kauravas in Kurukshetra War
They were considered as the best among the Kaurava heroes as per Duryodhana's words:- Those, however, amongst us , that are our chief warriors, are Bhishma, Drona, Kripa, Drona's son, Karna, Somadatta, Vahlika, and Salya, the king of Pragjyotisha, the two kings (Vindha and Anuvinda) of Avanti, and Jayadratha; and then, O king, thy sons Dussasana, Durmukha, Dussaha, Srutayu; Chitrasena, Purumitra, Vivingsati, Sala, Bhurisravas, and Vikarna.
Rating by Bhishma:- Vinda and Anuvinda of Avanti are both regarded as excellent Rathas. These two heroes among men will consume the troops of thy foes, with maces and bearded darts, and swords and long shafts, and javelins hurled from their hands. Like a couple of (elephant) leaders sporting in the midst of their herds, these two princes longing for battle, will range the field, each like Yama himself.
Suvala's son Sakuni, and Salya, Jayadratha and the two princes of Avanti named Vinda and Anuvinda, and the Kekaya brothers, and Sudakshina the ruler of the Kamvojas and Srutayudha the ruler of the Kalingas, and king Jayatsena, and Vrihadvala the ruler of the Kosalas, and Kritavarman of Satwata's race,--these ten tigers among men, endued with great bravery and possessing arms that looked like maces stood each at the head of an Akshauhini of troops.(6,16)
Avanti Kings Vinda and Anuvinda in Kurukshetra War
References in Mahabharata
The origin of Malavas
Accordiing to the Mahabharata (Book 3, Chapter 295), the Malavas were a small unknown tribe near Madra Kingdom, who later became the powerful Malavas in Madhya Pradesh state in India, near Avanti Kingdom (having Ujjayani or Ujjain as its capital).
Vivaswat’s son, Yama, the dispenser of justice, untied his noose, and with cheerful heart said these words to Savitri, ‘Thus, O auspicious and chaste lady, is thy husband freed by me! Thou wilt be able to take him back free from disease. And he will attain to success! And along with thee, he will attain a life of four hundred years. And celebrating sacrifices with due rites, he will achieve great fame in this world. And upon thee Satyavan will also beget a century of sons. And these Kshatriyas with their sons and grandsons will all be kings, and will always be famous in connection with thy name. And thy father (Aswapati, the king of Madra Kingdom also will beget a hundred sons on thy mother Malavi. And under the name of the Malavas, thy Kshatriya brothers, will be widely known along with their sons and daughters.
Wife of a Madra King from Malava
There was a king among the Madras, named Aswapati, who was virtuous and highly pious. And then, by the grace of goddess Savitri, the embryo in the womb of the princess of Malava (wife of Aswapati) increased like the lord of stars in the heavens during the lighted fortnight. And when the time came, she brought forth a daughter furnished with lotus-like eyes. She was the famous Savitri, who became wife of the prince Satyavan of Salwa Kingdom.
Military Campaign of Nakula
Nakula subjugated the Dasarnas, the Sivis, the Trigartas, the Amvashtas, the Malavas, the five tribes of the Karnatas, and those twice born classes that were called the Madhyamakeyas and Vattadhanas.
Yudhisthira's Rajasuya Sacrifice
.........and the kings of Vanga and Kalinga; and Akastha and Kuntala and the kings of the Malavas and the Andhrakas; and the Dravidas and the Singhalas and the king of Kashmira, and king Kuntibhoja of great energy and king Gauravahana, and all the other heroic kings of Valhika; and Virata with his two sons, and Mavella endued with great might..............
Tributes received by King Yudhisthira
The Kairatas, the Daradas, the Darvas, the Suras, the Vaiamakas, the Audumvaras, the Durvibhagas, the Kumaras, the Paradas along with the Vahlikas, the Kashmiras, the Ghorakas, the Hansakayanas, the Sivis, the Trigartas, the Yauddheyas, the ruler of Madras and the Kaikeyas, the Amvashtas, the Kaukuras, the Tarkshyas, the Vastrapas along with the Palhavas, the Vashatayas, the Mauleyas along with the Kshudrakas, and the Malavas, the Paundrayas, the Kukkuras, the Sakas, the Angas, the Vangas, the Punras, the Sanavatyas, and the Gayas—these good and well-born Kshatriyas distributed into regular clans and trained to the use of arms, brought tribute unto king Yudhishthira by hundreds and thousands.
Kingdoms under Yudhisthira's sway
That prosperity which the Pandavas had acquired at Indraprastha, and which, unobtainable by other kings, was beheld by me at the Rajasuya sacrifice, at which, besides, I saw all kings, even those of the Vangas and Angas and Paundras and Odras and Cholas and Dravidas and Andhakas, and the chiefs of many islands and countries on the seaboard as also of frontier states, including the rulers of the Sinhalas, the barbarous mlecchas, the natives of Lanka, and all the kings of the West by hundreds, and all the chiefs of the sea-coast, and the kings of the Pahlavas and the Daradas and the various tribes of the Kiratas and Yavanas and Sakras and the Harahunas and Chinas and Tukharas and the Sindhavas and the Jagudas and the Ramathas and the Mundas and the inhabitants of the kingdom of women and the Tanganas and the Kekayas and the Malavas and the inhabitants of Kasmira, afraid of the prowess of your weapons, present in obedience to your invitation, performing various offices,--that prosperity, O king Yudhisthira, so unstable and waiting at present on the foe, I shall restore to thee.
Military Campaign of Karna
Having conquered the entire earth—east, west, north and south—that hero Karna, without any aid brought under subjection all the nations of the Mlechchhas, the mountaineers, the Bhadras, the Rohitakas, the Agneyas and the Malavas.
Malavas in Kurukshetra War
And those mighty bowmen, the five royal brothers of Kekaya, will put forth their strength in battle, accepting the Kekaya warriors on Duryodhana’s side as antagonists. They will also fight against the Malavas also, and the Salwakas, as also, the two famous warriors of the Trigarta host on the side of Duryodhana.
The above extract indicate that the Malavas allied with Duryodhana.
Southern Malavas as per the list of Kingdoms in Bharata Varsha (Ancient India)
'Two Kingdoms in the south mentioned:- Malavayakas and Malavas.
There are other kingdoms, in the south. They are the Dravidas, the Keralas, the Prachyas, the Mushikas, and the Vanavashikas; the Karanatakas, the Mahishakas, the Vikalpas, and also the Mushakas; the Jhillikas, the Kuntalas, the Saunridas, and the Nalakananas; the Kankutakas, the Cholas, and the Malavayakas; the Samangas, the Kanakas, the Kukkuras, the Angaras, the Marishas: the Dhwajinis, the Utsavas, the Sanketas, the Trigartas, and the Salwasena; the Vakas, the Kokarakas, the Pashtris, and the Lamavegavasas; the Vindhyachulakas, the Pulindas, and the Valkalas; the Malavas, the Vallavas, the further-Vallavas, the Kulindas.
References in Mahabharata
Draupadi's sons in Anarta country undergoes military training
When Pandavas were exiled to the woods, by the Kauravas, the five sons of Pandavas, born to Draupadi, were sent to Panchala, the kingdom ruled by their maternal grandfather Drupada. They later went to the Anarta Kingdom, ruled by the Yadavas, so that they can stay with their step brother and dear friend, Abhimanyu, and learn military science from eminent Yadava warriors.
Vasudeva Krishna's words to Princess Krishna (alias Draupadi, Panchali):- Those sons of yours, are devoted to the study of the science of arms, are well-behaved and conduct themselves on the pattern of their righteous friends. Your father and your uterine brothers proffer them a kingdom and territories; but the boys find no joy in the house of Drupada, or in that of their maternal uncles. Safely proceeding to the land of the Anartas, they take the greatest delight in the study of the science of arms. Your sons enter the town of the Vrishnis (Dwaraka) and take an immediate liking to the people there. And as you would direct them to conduct themselves, or as the respected Kunti would do, so does Subhadra (their stepmother) direct them in a watchful way. Perhaps, she is still more careful of them. As Pradyumna is the preceptor of Aniruddha, of Abhimanyu, of Sunitha, and of Bhanu; so he is the preceptor and the refuge of your sons also! And a good preceptor, would unceasingly give them lessons in the wielding of maces and swords and bucklers, in missiles and in the arts of driving cars and of riding horses, being valiant. And he, Pradyumna, the son of Rukmini, having bestowed a very good training upon them, and having taught them the art of using various weapons in a proper way, takes satisfaction at the valorous deeds of your sons, and of Abhimanyu. O daughter of Drupada! And when your son goes out, in pursuit of (out-door) sports, each one of them is followed thither by cars and horses and vehicles and elephants.’
Vasudeva Krishna, next told to the exiled Pandava king Yudhisthira, that the fighting men of Anarta, consisting of Satwata, Dasarha, Kukura, Adhaka, Bhoja, Vrishni and Madhu tribes will be kept ready to overthrow the enemies of Pandavas, viz the Kauravas headed by Duryodhana, ruling the Kuru city Hastinapura. Bala Rama, with plough as his weapon, will lead the warriors cosnisting of bowmen, horsemen, foot-soldiers, cars and elephants.
Pandava's cousines from Anarta join them at Upaplavya
After the expiry of the thirteenth year, the five Pandavas took up their abode in one of Virata’s towns called Upaplavya. Arjuna brought over Abhimanyu and Vasudeva Krishna, and also many people of the Dasarha race from the Anarta country.
Both Duryodhana and Arjuna arrive at Anarta city (Dwaraka) seeking alliance
Both Duryodhana and Arjuna arrived at the city of Anarta (Dwaraka alias Dwaravati) seeking alliance of Yadavas, to join their side in the Kurukshetra War. Some Yadava heroes allied with Kauravas while others allied with the Pandavas. Vasudeva Krishna allied with the Pandavas and promised not to take any weapons in the battle. Thus he took part in the war not as a warrior, but as a diplomat, an ambassador of peace, an adviser on war-strategy and as the guide and car-driver of Arjuna. The army owned by Vasudeva Krishna, called the Narayanas were given to Duryodhana. The Narayanas consisted of a large body of cowherds, all of whom are able to fight in the thick of battle. Another hero Bala Rama, took a neutral standpoint, though he wished to aid Duryodhana, because he cannot fight against his brother Vasudeva Krishna, who had already joined the Pandavas. Thus he will not fight for any of the parties and wished to set for a pilgrimage over Saraswati River. The Bhoja Yadava hero, Kritavarman joined Duryodhana with a body of troops numbering an Akshauhini of troops. Another Yadava hero, Satyaki joined the Pandavas, with an Akshohini of troops.
Anarta mentioned as a kingdom of Ancient India (Bharata Varsha)
the Pundras, the Bhargas, the Kiratas, the Sudeshnas, and the Yamunas, the Sakas, the Nishadhas, the Anartas, the Nairitas, the Durgalas, the Pratimasyas, the Kuntalas, and the Kusalas;
Anartas in Kurukhsetra war
Yodheya (alias Yaudheya, Yauddheya) was a kingdom that lied close to the kingdom of the Pandavas. They have taken part in the Kurukshetra War, siding with the Kauravas. Pandava king Yudhisthira had a son named Yaudheya. It is not clear if he belonged to the Yaudheya tribe. There is some speculation that the Yaudheyas were linked to the Yadava chief Yuyudhana, otherwise known as Satyaki and thus were a Yadava tribe, whereas other evidences link them to Rajputs (See Yaudheya).
References in Mahabharata
There is no mention in Mahabharata linking Yaudheyas with the Yadava chief Satyaki who was an ally of the Pandavas in the Kurukshetra War. In fact many references make them allied to the Kauravas the enemies of the Pandavas.
Tributes to king Yudhisthira
The Kairatas, the Daradas, the Darvas, the Suras, the Vaiamakas, the Audumvaras, the Durvibhagas, the Kumaras, the Paradas along with the Vahlikas, the Kashmiras, the Ghorakas, the Hansakayanas, the Sivis, the Trigartas, the Yauddheyas, the ruler of Madras and the Kaikeyas, the Amvashtas, the Kaukuras, the Tarkshyas, the Vastrapas along with the Palhavas, the Vashatayas, the Mauleyas along with the Kshudrakas, and the Malavas, the Paundrayas, the Kukkuras, the Sakas, the Angas, the Vangas, the Punras, the Sanavatyas, and the Gayas—these good and well-born Kshatriyas distributed into regular clans and trained to the use of arms, brought tribute unto Pandava king Yudhishthira by hundreds and thousands.
Yudhisthira's son Yaudheya
This is the only reference linking Yaudheyas to the Pandavas. Yudhishthira, having obtained for his wife Devika, the daughter of Govasana of the Saivya tribe, in a self-choice ceremony, begat upon her a son named Yaudheya . The verse in Mahabharata is same as in Matsya Purana but their it refers to Yaudheya, son of Prativindhya, son of Yudhisthara. Other son of Yudhisthara is called Devaka, his grandson is called Yaudheya. Nalanda Shabda kosha indicates Yaudheya as descendents of Yudhisthara. The Yaudheya kingdom coins claim descent from Dharmaraja, name for Yudhisthara. As per Altekar & Muzumdar, Yaudheyas lead the nationa;l revolt against the Kushana rulers, allied with Malavas and Arjunayanas as a federation of three with coins celebrating this fact linking it to their ancestors, the brothers Dharma, Bhima and Arjuna. The legend of overthrow of Kansa and his downfall by Krishna is a legend based in Mathura where they still celebrate the downfall and destruction of Tochari Raja's fort. The legend of later destruction of foreign foes by allied tribes of Yaudheyas, Malavas and Arjunayanas may be basis for the Pandava legends. As for Yaudheya's mother, In Adiparva, Yudhisthara is mentioned having a second wife, in Bheeshma Parva, he is mentioned with at least two more wives but in the mentions in Streeparva and later parvas, she does not show up though other wives of the brothers do.
In Kurukshtera War
Arjuna of white steeds despatched, the Yaudheyas, the Parvatas, the Madrakas, and the Malavas also, to the regions of the dead (7:158). With his shafts, Yudhishthira began to slay the Amvashthas, the Malavas , the brave Trigartas and the Sivis. And cutting off the Abhishahas, the Surasenas, the Valhikas, and the Vasatis, he caused the earth to be miry with flesh and blood. And he also despatched within a trice, by means of many shafts, to region of the dead, the Yaudheyas, the Malavas , and large numbers,of the Madrakas . The Kekeyas, the Malavas , the Madrakas the Dravidas of fierce prowess, the Yaudheyas, the Lalittyas, the Kshudrakas, the Usinaras, the Tundikeras, the Savitriputras, the Easterners, the Northerners, the Westerners, and the Southerners, have all been slain by Arjuna .
The Vijayanagara Empire Kannada: ವಿಜಯನಗರ ಸಾಮ್ರಾಜ್ಯ Vijayanagara Sāmrājya, Telugu: విజయనగర సామ్రాజ్యము Vijayanagara Sāmrājyamu, referred as the Kingdom of Bisnaga by the Portuguese, was a South Indian empire based in the Deccan Plateau. Established in 1336 by Harihara I and his brother Bukka Raya I. The empire rose to prominence as a culmination of attempts by the southern powers against Islamic invasions by the end of the 13th century. It lasted until 1646 although its power declined after a major military defeat in 1565 by the Deccan sultanates. The empire is named after its capital city of Vijayanagara, whose impressive ruins surround modern Hampi, now a World Heritage Site in modern Karnataka, India. The writings of medieval European travelers such as Domingo Paes, Fernão Nunes and Niccolò Da Conti and the literature in local vernaculars provide crucial information about its history. Archaeological excavations at Vijayanagara have revealed the empire's power and wealth.
Differing theories have been proposed regarding the Vijayanagara empire's origins. Some claim that Harihara I and Bukka Raya I, the founders of the empire, or Kuruba people first associated with the Kakatiya kingdom who took control of the northern parts of the Hoysala Empire during its decline. Other historians propose they were Kannadigas and commanders in the army of the Hoysala Empire stationed in the Tungabhadra region to ward off Muslim invasions from the Northern India. Irrespective of their origin, historians agree the founders were supported and inspired by Vidyaranya, a saint at the Sringeri monastery to fight the Muslim invasion of South India.Writings by foreign travelers during the late medieval era combined with recent excavations in the Vijayanagara principality have uncovered much-needed information about the empire's history, fortifications, scientific developments and architectural innovations.
Before the early 14th century rise of the Vijayanagara empire, the Hindu kingdoms of the Deccan, the Seuna Yadavas of Devagiri, the Kakatiya dynasty of Warangal, the Pandyan Empire of Madurai, and the tiny kingdom of Kampili had been repeatedly invaded by Muslims from the north, and by 1336 they had all been defeated by Alla-ud-din Khilji and Muhammad bin Tughluq, the Sultans of Delhi. The Hoysala Empire was the sole remaining Hindu kingdom in the path of the Muslim invasion. After the death of Hoysala Veera Ballala III during a battle against the Sultan of Madurai in 1343, the Hoysala empire merged with the growing Vijayanagara empire.
In the first two decades after the founding of the empire, Harihara I gained control over most of the area south of the Tungabhadra river and earned the title of Purvapaschima Samudradhishavara ("master of the eastern and western seas"). By 1374 Bukka Raya I, successor to Harihara I, had defeated the chiefdom of Arcot, the Reddy dynasty of Kondavidu, the Sultan of Madurai and gained control over Goa in the west and the Tungabhadra-Krishna River doab in the north. The original capital was in the principality of Anegondi on the northern banks of the Tungabhadra River in today's Karnataka. It was later moved to nearby Vijayanagara on the river's southern banks during the reign of Bukka Raya I.
With the Vijayanagara Kingdom now imperial in stature, Harihara II, the second son of Bukka Raya I, further consolidated the kingdom beyond the Krishna River and brought the whole of South India under the Vijayanagara umbrella. The next ruler, Deva Raya I, emerged successful against the Gajapatis of Orissa and undertook important works of fortification and irrigation. Deva Raya II (called Gajabetekara) succeeded to the throne in 1424 and was possibly the most capable of the Sangama dynasty rulers. He quelled rebelling feudal lords as well as the Zamorin of Calicut and Quilon in the south. He invaded the island of Lanka and became overlord of the kings of Burma at Pegu and Tanasserim. The empire declined in the late 15th century until the serious attempts by commander Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya in 1485 and by general Tuluva Narasa Nayaka in 1491 to reconsolidate the empire. After nearly two decades of conflict with rebellious chieftains, the empire eventually came under the rule of Krishnadevaraya, the son of Tuluva Narasa Nayaka.
In the following decades the Vijayanagara empire dominated all of Southern India and fought off invasions from the five established Deccan Sultanates. The empire reached its peak during the rule of Krishnadevaraya when Vijayanagara armies were consistently victorious. The empire annexed areas formerly under the Sultanates in the northern Deccan and the territories in the eastern Deccan, including Kalinga, while simultaneously maintaining control over all its subordinates in the south. Many important monuments were either completed or commissioned during the time of Krishnadevaraya.
Krishnadevaraya was followed by Achyuta Raya in 1530 and in 1542 by Sadashiva Raya while the real power lay with Aliya Rama Raya, the son-in-law of Krishnadevaraya, whose relationship with the Deccan Sultans who allied against him has been debated.
The sudden capture and killing of Aliya Rama Raya in 1565 at the Battle of Talikota, against an alliance of the Deccan sultanates, after a seemingly easy victory for the Vijayanagara armies, created havoc and confusion in the Vijayanagara ranks, which were then completely routed. The Sultanates' army later plundered Hampi and reduced it to the ruinous state in which it remains; it was never re-occupied. Tirumala Raya, the sole surviving commander, left Vijayanagara for Penukonda with vast amounts of treasure on the back of 550 elephants.
The empire went into a slow decline regionally, although trade with the Portuguese continued, and the British were given a land grant for the establishment of Madras. Tirumala Deva Raya was succeeded by his son Sriranga I later followed by Venkata II who made Chandragiri his capital, repulsed the invasion of the Bahmani Sultanate and saved Penukonda from being captured. His successor, Ramadeva, took power and ruled till 1632 after whose death, Venkata III became king and ruled for about ten years after which Vellore was made the capital. The empire was finally conquered by the Sultanates of Bijapur and Golkonda. The largest feudatories of the Vijayanagar empire — the Mysore Kingdom, Keladi Nayaka, Nayaks of Madurai, Nayaks of Tanjore, Nayakas of Chitradurga and Nayak Kingdom of Gingee — declared independence and went on to have a significant impact on the history of South India in the coming centuries. These Nayaka kingdoms lasted into the 18th century while the Mysore Kingdom remained a princely state until Indian Independence in 1947 although they came under the British Raj in 1799 after the death of Tipu Sultan.
The rulers of the Vijayanagara empire maintained the well-functioning administrative methods developed by their predecessors, the Hoysala, Kakatiya and Pandya kingdoms, to govern their territories and made changes only where necessary. The King was the ultimate authority, assisted by a cabinet of ministers (Pradhana) headed by the prime minister (Mahapradhana). Other important titles recorded in inscriptions were the chief secretary (Karyakartha or Rayaswami) and the imperial officers (Adhikari). All high ranking ministers and officers were required to have military training. A secretariat near the king's palace employed scribes and officers to maintain records made official by using a wax seal imprinted with the ring of the king. At the lower administrative levels, wealthy feudal landlords (Goudas) supervised accountants (Karanikas or Karnam) and guards (Kavalu). The palace administration was divided into 72 departments (Niyogas), each having several female attendants chosen for their youth and beauty (some imported or captured in victorious battles) who were trained to handle minor administrative matters and to serve men of nobility as courtesans or concubines.
The empire was divided into five main provinces (Rajya), each under a commander (Dandanayaka or Dandanatha) and headed by a governor, often from the royal family, who used the native language for administrative purposes. A Rajya was divided into regions (Vishaya Vente or Kottam), and further divided into counties (Sime or Nadu) themselves subdivided into municipalities (Kampana or Sthala). Hereditary families ruled their respective territories and paid tribute to the empire while some areas, such as Keladi and Madurai, came under the direct supervision of a commander.
On the battlefields, the king's commanders led the troops. The empire's war strategy rarely involved massive invasions; more often it employed small scale methods such as attacking and destroying individual forts. The empire was among the first in India to use long range artillery commonly manned by foreign gunners. (Gunners from present day Turkmenistan were considered the best). Army troops were of two types: The king's personal army directly recruited by the empire and the feudal army under each feudatory. King Krishnadevaraya's personal army consisted of 100,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalrymen and over 900 elephants. This number was only a part of the army numbering over 1.1 million soldiers, a figure that varied as an army of two million has also been recorded along with the existence of a navy as evidenced by the use of the term Navigadaprabhu (commander of the navy). The army recruited from all classes of society (supported by the collection of additional feudal tributes from feudatory rulers), and consisted of archers and musketeers wearing quilted tunics, shieldmen with swords and poignards in their girdles, and soldiers carrying shields so larges that no armour was necessary. The horses and elephants were fully armoured and the elephants had knives fastened to their tusks to do maximum damage in battle.
The empire's economy was largely dependent on agriculture. Corn (jowar), cotton and pulse legumes grew in semi arid regions, while sugarcane, rice and wheat thrived in rainy areas. Betel leaves, areca (for chewing), and coconut were the principal cash crops, and large scale cotton production supplied the weaving centers of the empire's vibrant textile industry. Spices such as turmeric, pepper, cardamom and ginger grew in the remote Malnad hill region and were transported to the city for trade. The empire's capital city was a thriving business centre that included a burgeoning market in large quantities of precious gems and gold. Prolific temple-building provided employment to thousands of masons, sculptors, and other skilled artisans.
Land ownership was important. Most of the growers were tenant farmers and were given the right of part ownership of the land over time. Tax policies encouraging needed produce made distinctions between land use to determine tax levies. For example, the daily market availability of rose petals was important for perfumers, so cultivation of roses received a lower tax assessment. Salt production and the manufacture of salt pans were controlled by similar means. The making of ghee (clarified butter), which was sold as an oil for human consumption and as a fuel for lighting lamps, was profitable. Exports to China intensified and included cotton, spices, jewels, semi-precious stones, ivory, rhino horn, ebony, amber, coral, and aromatic products such as perfumes. Large vessels from China made frequent visits, some captained by the Chinese Admiral Cheng Ho, and brought Chinese products to the empire's 300 ports, large and small, on the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. The ports of Mangalore, Honavar, Bhatkal, Barkur, Cochin, Cannanore, Machilipatnam and Dharmadam were the most important.
When merchant ships docked, the merchandise was taken into official custody and taxes levied on all items sold. The security of the merchandise was guaranteed by the administration officials. Traders of many nationalities (Arabs, Persians, Guzerates, Khorassanians) settled in Calicut, drawn by the thriving trade business. Ship building prospered and keeled ships of 1000–1200 bahares (burden) were built without decks by sewing the entire hull with ropes rather than fastening them with nails. Ships sailed to the Red Sea ports of Aden and Mecca with Vijayanagara goods sold as far away as Venice. The empire's principal exports were pepper, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, myrobalan, tamarind timber, anafistula, precious and semi-precious stones, pearls, musk, ambergris, rhubarb, aloe, cotton cloth and porcelain. Cotton yarn was shipped to Burma and indigo to Persia. Chief imports from Palestine were copper, quicksilver (mercury), vermilion, coral, saffron, coloured velvets, rose water, knives, coloured camlets, gold and silver. Persian horses were imported to Cannanore before a two week land trip to the capital. Silk arrived from China and sugar from Bengal.
East coast trade hummed, with goods arriving from Golkonda where rice, millet, pulse and tobacco were grown on a large scale. Dye crops of indigo and chay root were produced for the weaving industry. A mineral rich region, Machilipatnam was the gateway for high quality iron and steel exports. Diamond mining was active in the Kollur region. The cotton weaving industry produced two types of cottons, plain calico and muslin (brown, bleached or dyed). Cloth printed with coloured patterns crafted by native techniques were exported to Java and the Far East. Golkonda specialised in plain cotton and Pulicat in printed. The main imports on the east coast were non-ferrous metals, camphor, porcelain, silk and luxury goods.
Most information on the social life in Vijayanagara empire comes from the writings of foreign visitors and evidence that research teams in the Vijayanagara area have uncovered. The Hindu caste system was prevalent and rigidly followed, with each caste represented by a local body of elders who represented the community. These elders set the rules and regulations that were implemented with the help of royal decrees. Untouchability was part of the caste system and these communities were represented by leaders (Kaivadadavaru). The Muslim communities were represented by their own group in coastal Karnataka. The caste system did not, however, prevent distinguished persons from all castes from being promoted to high ranking cadre in the army and administration. In civil life, by virtue of the caste system, Brahmins enjoyed a high level of respect. With the exception of a few who took to military careers, most Brahmins concentrated on religious and literary matters. Their separation from material wealth and power made them ideal arbiters in local judicial matters, and their presence in every town and village was a calculated investment made by the nobility and aristocracy to maintain order. However, the popularity of low-caste scholars (such as Molla and Kanakadasa) and their works (including those of Vemana and Sarvajna) is an indication of the degree of social fluidity in the society.
The practice of Sati was common, though voluntary, and mostly practiced among the upper classes. Over fifty inscriptions attesting to this have been discovered in the Vijayanagara principality alone. These inscriptions are called Satikal (Sati stone) or Sati-virakal (Sati hero stone). Satikals commemorated the death of a woman by entering into fire after the death of her husband while Sati-virakals were made for a woman who performed Sati after her husband's heroic death. Either way, the woman was raised to the level of a demi-goddess and proclaimed by the sculpture of a Sun and crescent moon on the stone.
The socio-religious movements of the previous centuries, such as Lingayatism, provided momentum for flexible social norms to which women were expected to abide. By this time South Indian women had crossed most barriers and were actively involved in matters hitherto considered the monopoly of men, such as administration, business and trade, and involvement in the fine arts. Tirumalamba Devi who wrote Varadambika Parinayam and Gangadevi who wrote Madhuravijayam were among the notable women poets of the era. Early Telugu women poets like Tallapaka Timmakka and Atukuri Molla became popular during this period. The court of the Nayaks of Tanjore is known to have patronised several women poets. The Devadasi system existed, as well as legalised prostitution relegated to a few streets in each city. The popularity of harems amongst men of the royalty is well known from records.
Well-to-do men wore the Pethaor Kulavi, a tall turban made of silk and decorated with gold. As in most Indian societies, jewellery was used by men and women and records describe the use of anklets, bracelets, finger-rings, necklaces and ear rings of various types. During celebrations, men and women adorned themselves with flower garlands and used perfumes made of rose water, civet, musk or sandalwood. In stark contrast to the commoners whose lives were modest, the lives of the empire's kings and queens were full of ceremonial pomp in the court. Queens and princesses had numerous attendants who were lavishly dressed and adorned with fine jewellery, their daily duties being light.
Physical exercises were popular with men and wrestling was an important male preoccupation for sport and entertainment. Even women wrestlers are mentioned in records. Gymnasiums have been discovered inside royal quarters and records speak of regular physical training for commanders and their armies during peace time. Royal palaces and market places had special arenas where royalty and common people alike amused themselves by watching matches such as cock fights, ram fights and wrestling between women. Excavations within the Vijayanagara city limits have revealed the existence of various types of community-based activities in the form of engravings on boulders, rock platforms and temple floors, implying these were places of casual social interaction. Some of these games are in use today and others are yet to be identified.
The Vijayanagara kings were tolerant of all religions and sects as writings by foreign visitors show. The kings used titles such as Gobrahamana Pratipalanacharya ("protector of cows") and Hindurayasuratrana ("upholder of Hindu faith") that testified to their intention of protecting Hinduism and yet were at the same time staunchly Islamicate in their court ceremonials and dress as Philip Wagoner points out in his 1996 article 'Sultan Among Hindu Kings' published in the Journal of Asian Studies. The Empire's founders Harihara I and Bukka Raya I were devout Shaivas (worshippers of Shiva), but made grants to the Vaishnava order of Sringeri with Vidyaranya as their patron saint, and designated Varaha (the boar, an avatar of Vishnu) as their emblem. It is also important to note here that over one-fourth of the archaeological dig found a "Islamic Quarter" not far from the "Royal Quarter." Nobles from Central Asia's Timurid kingdoms also came down to Vijayanagara. The later Saluva and Tuluva kings were Vaishnava by faith, but worshipped at the feet of Lord Virupaksha (Shiva) at Hampi as well as Lord Venkateshwara (Vishnu) at Tirupati. A Sanskrit work, Jambavati Kalyanam by King Krishnadevaraya, called Lord Virupaksha Karnata Rajya Raksha Mani ("protective jewel of Karnata Empire"). The kings patronised the saints of the dvaita order (philosophy of dualism) of Madhvacharya at Udupi.The Bhakti (devotional) movement was active during this time, and involved well known Haridasas (devotee saints) of that time. Like the Virashaiva movement of the 12th century, this movement presented another strong current of devotion, pervading the lives of millions. The haridasas represented two groups, the Vyasakuta and Dasakuta, the former being required to be proficient in the Vedas, Upanishads and other Darshanas, while the Dasakuta merely conveyed the message of Madhvacharya through the Kannada language to the people in the form of devotional songs (Devaranamas and Kirthanas). The philosophy of Madhvacharya was spread by eminent disciples such as Naraharitirtha, Jayatirtha, Vyasatirtha, Sripadaraya, Vadirajatirtha and others. Vyasatirtha, the guru (teacher) of Vadirajatirtha, Purandaradasa (Father of Carnatic music) and Kanakadasa earned the devotion of King Krishnadevaraya. The king considered the saint his Kuladevata (family deity) and honoured him in his writings. During this time, another great composer of early carnatic music, Annamacharya composed hundreds of Kirthanas in Telugu at Tirupati in present day Andhra Pradesh.
The defeat of the Jain Western Ganga Dynasty by the Cholas in early 11th century and the rising numbers of followers of Vaishnava Hinduism and Virashaivism in the 12th century was mirrored by a decreased interest in Jainism. Two notable locations of Jain worship in the Vijayanagara territory were Shravanabelagola and Kambadahalli.
Islamic contact with South India began as early as the 7th century, a result of trade between the Southern kingdoms and Arab lands. Jumma Masjids existed in the Rashtrakuta empire by the 10th century and many mosques flourished on the Malabar coast by the early 14th century. Muslim settlers married local women; their children were known as Mappillas (Moplahs) and were actively involved in horse trading and manning shipping fleets. The interactions between the Vijayanagara empire and the Bahamani Sultanates to the north increased the presence of Muslims in the south. The introduction of Christianity began as early as the 8th century as shown by the finding of copper plates inscribed with land grants to Malabar Christians. Christian travelers wrote of the scarcity of Christians in South India in the Middle Ages, promoting its attractiveness to missionaries. The arrival of the Portuguese in the 15th century and their connections through trade with the empire, the propagation of the faith by Saint Xavier (1545) and later the presence of Dutch settlements fostered the growth of Christianity in the south.
During the rule of the Vijayanagar Empire, poets, scholars and philosophers wrote in Sanskrit and the regional languages, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil and covered such subjects as religion, biography, Prabhanda (fiction), music, grammar, poetry and medicine. The Telugu language became a popular literary medium, reaching its peak under the patronage of Krishnadevaraya.
Most Sanskrit works were commentaries either on the Vedas or on the Ramayana and Mahabharata epics, written by well known figures such as Sayana and Vidyaranya that extolled the superiority of the Advaita philosophy over other rival Hindu philosophies. Other writers were famous Dvaita saints of the Udupi order such as Jayatirtha (earning the title Tikacharya for his polemicial writings), Vyasatirtha who wrote rebuttals to the Advaita philosophy and of the conclusions of earlier logicians, and Vadirajatirtha and Sripadaraya both of whom criticised the beliefs of Adi Sankara. Apart from these saints, noted Sanskrit scholars adorned the courts of the Vijayanagara kings and their feudatory chiefdoms. Many kings of the dynasty were themselves litterateurs and authored classics such as King Krishnadevaraya's Jambavati Kalyana, a poetic and dramatically skillful work.
The Kannada poets and scholars of the empire produced important writings supporting the Vaishnava Bhakti movement heralded by the Haridasas (devotees of Vishnu), Brahminical and Virashaiva (Lingayatism) literature. The Haridasa poets celebrated their devotion through songs called Devaranama (lyrical poems) in the ragale metre. Their inspirations were the teachings of Madhvacharya and Vyasatirtha. Purandaradasa and Kanakadasa are considered the foremost among many Dasas (devotees) by virtue of their immense contribution. Kumara Vyasa, the most notable of Brahmin scholars wrote Gadugina Bharata, a translation of the epic Mahabharata. This work marks a transition of Kannada literature from old Kannada to modern Kannada. Chamarasa was a famous Virashaiva scholar and poet who had many debates with Vaishnava scholars in the court of Devaraya II. His Prabhulinga Lile, later translated into Telugu and Tamil, was a eulogy of Saint Allama Prabhu (the saint was considered an incarnation of Lord Ganapathi while Parvati took the form of a princess of Banavasi).
At this peak of Telugu literature, the most famous writing in the Prabhanda style was Manucharitamu. King Krishnadevaraya was an accomplished Telugu scholar and wrote the celebrated Amuktamalyada. In his court were the eight famous scholars regarded as the pillars (Ashtadiggajas) of the literary assembly, the most famous being Allasani Peddana honoured with the title Andhrakavitapitamaha (father of Telugu poetry) and Tenali Ramakrishna, Krishnadevaraya's court jester who authored several acclaimed works. This was the age of Srinatha, the greatest of all Telugu poets in legend, who wrote books like Marutratcharitamu and Salivahana-sapta-sati. He was patronised by King Devaraya II and his stature was equal to the most important ministers in the court.
Though much of the Tamil literature from this period came from Tamil speaking regions ruled by the feudatory Pandya who gave particular attention on the cultivation of Tamil literature, some poets were patronised by the Vijayanagara kings. Svarupananda Desikar wrote an anthology of 2824 verses, Sivaprakasap-perundirattu, on the Advaita philosophy. His pupil the ascetic, Tattuvarayar, wrote a shorter anthology, Kurundirattu, that contained about half the number of verses. Krishnadevaraya patronised the Tamil Vaishnava poet Haridasa whose Irusamaya Vilakkam was an exposition of the two Hindu systems, Vaishnava and Shaiva, with a preference for the former. Notable among secular writings on music and medicine were Vidyaranya's Sangitsara, Praudha Raya's Ratiratnapradipika, Sayana's Ayurveda Sudhanidhi and Lakshmana Pandita's Vaidyarajavallabham.
Vijayanagara architecture is a vibrant combination of the Chalukya, Hoysala, Pandya and Chola styles, idioms that prospered in previous centuries. Its legacy of sculpture, architecture and painting influenced the development of the arts long after the empire came to an end. Its stylistic hallmark is the ornate pillared Kalyanamantapa (marriage hall), Vasanthamantapa (open pillared halls) and the Rayagopura (tower). Artisans used the locally available hard granite because of its durability since the kingdom was under constant threat of invasion. While the empire's monuments are spread over the whole of Southern India, nothing surpasses the vast open air theatre of monuments at its capital at Vijayanagara, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In the 14th century the kings continued to build Vesara or Deccan style monuments but later incorporated dravida-style gopurams to meet their ritualistic needs. The Prasanna Virupaksha temple (underground temple) of Bukka Raya I and the Hazare Rama temple of Deva Raya I are examples of Deccan architecture. The varied and intricate ornamentation of the pillars is a mark of their work. At Hampi, though the Vitthala temple is the best example of their pillared Kalyanamantapa style, the Hazara Ramaswamy temple is a modest but perfectly finished example. A visible aspect of their style is their return to the simplistic and serene art developed by the Chalukya dynasty. A grand specimen of Vijayanagara art, the Vitthala temple, took several decades to complete during the reign of the Tuluva kings.
Another element of the Vijayanagara style is the carving of large monoliths such as the Sasivekalu (mustard) Ganesha and Kadalekalu (Ground nut) Ganesha at Hampi, the Gomateshwara statues in Karkala and Venur, and the Nandi bull in Lepakshi. The Vijayanagara temples of Bhatkal, Kanakagiri, Sringeri and other towns of coastal Karnataka, as well as Tadpatri, Lepakshi, Ahobilam, Tirupati and Srikalahasti in Andhra Pradesh, and Vellore, Kumbakonam, Kanchi and Srirangam in Tamil Nadu are examples of this style. Vijayanagara art includes wall-paintings such as Dasavathara (ten avatars of Vishnu) and Girijakalyana (marriage of Goddess Parvati) in the Virupaksha temple at Hampi, the Shivapurana paintings (tales of Shiva) at the Virabhadra temple at Lepakshi, and those at the Jain basadi (temple) and the Kamaskshi and Varadaraja temple at Kanchi. This mingling of the South Indian styles resulted in a richness not seen in earlier centuries, a focus on reliefs in addition to sculpture that surpasses that previously in India.
An aspect of Vijayanagara architecture that shows the cosmopolitanism of the great city is the presence of many secular structures bearing Islamic features. While political history concentrates on the ongoing conflict between the Vijayanagara Empire and the Deccan Sultanates, the architectural record reflects a more creative interaction. There are many arches, domes and vaults that show these influences. The concentration of structures like pavilions, stables and towers suggests they were for use by royalty. The decorative details of these structures may have been absorbed into Vijayanagara architecture during the early 15th century, coinciding with the rule of Deva Raya I and Deva Raya II. These kings are known to have employed many Muslims in their army and court, some of whom may have been Muslim architects. This harmonious exchange of architectural ideas must have happened during rare periods of peace between the Hindu and Muslim kingdoms. The "Great Platform" (Mahanavami dibba) has relief carvings in which the figures seem to have the facial features of central Asian Turks who were known to have been employed as royal attendants.
Kannada, Telugu and Tamil were used in their respective regions of the empire. Over 7000 inscriptions (Shasana) including 300 copper plate inscriptions (Tamarashasana) have been recovered, almost half of which are in Kannada, the remaining in Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit. Bilingual inscriptions had lost favour by the 14th century. The empire minted coins at Hampi, Penugonda and Tirupati with Nagari, Kannada and Telugu legends usually carrying the name of the ruler. Gold, silver and copper were used to issue coins called Gadyana, Varaha, Pon, Pagoda, Pratapa, Pana, Kasu and Jital. The coins contained the images of various Gods including Balakrishna (infant Krishna), Venkateshwara (the presiding deity of the temple at Tirupati), Goddesses such as Bhudevi and Sridevi, divine couples, animals such as bulls and elephants and birds. The earliest coins feature Hanuman and the Garuda (divine eagle), the vehicle of Lord Vishnu. Kannada and Telugu inscriptions have been deciphered and recorded by historians of the Archaeological Survey of India.
Kingdom of Mysore
The Kingdom of Mysore (Kannada maisūru saṃsthāna) (1399–1947 AD) was a kingdom of southern India, traditionally believed to have been founded in 1399 in the vicinity of the modern city of Mysore. The kingdom, which was ruled by the Wodeyar family (Yadav Dynasty), initially served as a vassal state of the Vijayanagara Empire. With the decline of the Vijayanagara Empire (circa 1565), the kingdom became independent. The 17th century saw a steady expansion of its territory and, under Narasaraja Wodeyar I and Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar, the kingdom annexed large expanses of what is now southern Karnataka and parts of Tamil Nadu to become a powerful state in the southern Deccan.
The kingdom reached the height of its military power and dominion in the latter half of the 18th century under Haider Ali and his son Tipu Sultan, who deposed the Wodeyars to take control of the kingdom. During this time, it came into conflict with the Marathas, the British and the Nizam of Golconda which culminated in the four Anglo-Mysore wars. Success in the first two Anglo-Mysore wars was followed by defeat in the third and fourth. Following Tipu's death in the fourth war of 1799, large parts of the kingdom were annexed by British which signaled the end of a period of Mysorean hegemony over southern Deccan. The British, however, restored the Wodeyars to the throne by way of a subsidiary alliance and a diminished Mysore was now transformed into a Princely state. The Wodeyars continued to rule the state until Indian independence in 1947, when Mysore acceded to the Union of India.
Even as a princely state, Mysore came to be counted among the more modern and urbanized regions of India. This period (1799–1947) also saw Mysore emerge as one of the important centers of art and culture in India. The Mysore kings were not only accomplished exponents of the fine arts and men of letters, they were enthusiastic patrons as well and their legacies continue to influence music and art even today.
Kingdom of Mysore (1704) during the rule of King Chikka Devaraja Wodeyar
Sources for the history of the kingdom include numerous extant lithic and copper plate inscriptions, records from the Mysore palace and contemporary literary sources in Kannada, Persian and other languages. According to traditional accounts, the kingdom originated as a small state based in the modern city of Mysore and was founded by two brothers, Yaduraya (Bothh were Yadavs of Gujarat) (also known as Vijaya) and Krishnaraya. Their origins are mired in legend and are still a matter of debate; while some historians posit a northern origin at Dwaraka, others locate it in Karnataka. Yaduraya is said to have married Chikkadevarasi, the local princess and assumed the feudal title "Wodeyar" (lit, "Lord"), which the ensuing dynasty retained. The first unambiguous mention of the Wodeyar family is in 16th century Kannada literature from the reign of the Vijayanagara king Achyuta Deva Raya (1529–1542); the earliest available inscription, issued by the Wodeyars themselves, dates to the rule of the petty chief Timmaraja II in 1551.
Autonomy: advances and reversals
The kings who followed ruled as vassals of the Vijayanagara empire until the decline of the latter in 1565. By this time, the kingdom had expanded to thirty-three villages protected by a force of 300 soldiers. King Timmaraja II conquered some surrounding chiefdoms, and King Bola Chamaraja IV (lit, "Bald"), the first ruler of any political significance among them, withheld tribute to the nominal Vijayanagara monarch Aravidu Ramaraya. After the death of Aravidu Ramaraya, the Wodeyars began to assert themselves further and King Raja Wodeyar I wrested control of Srirangapatna from the Vijayanagara governor (Mahamandaleshvara) Aravidu Tirumalla – a development which elicited, if only ex post facto, the tacit approval of Venkatapati Raya, the incumbent king of the diminished Vijayanagar empire ruled from Chandragiri. Raja Wodeyar I's reign also saw territorial expansion with the annexation of Channapatna to the north from Jaggadeva Raya– a development which made Mysore a regional political factor to reckon with.
Consequently, by 1612–13, the Wodeyars exercised a great deal of autonomy and even though they acknowledged the nominal overlordship of the Aravidus, tributes and transfers of revenue to Chandragiri stopped. This was in marked contrast to the major chiefs (Nayakas) of Tamil country who continued to pay off Chandragiri well into the 1630s. Chamaraja V and Kanthirava Narasaraja I attempted to expand further northward but were thwarted by the Bijapur Sultanate and its Maratha subordinates, though the Bijapur armies under Ranadullah Khan were effectively repelled in their 1638 siege of Srirangapatna. Expansionist ambitions then turned southward into Tamil country where Narasaraja Wodeyar acquired Satyamangalam (in modern northern Coimbatore district) while his successor Dodda Devaraja Wodeyar expanded further to capture western Tamil regions of Erode and Dharmapuri, after successfully repulsing the chiefs of Madurai. The invasion of the Keladi Nayakas of Malnad was also dealt with successfully. This period was followed by one of complex geo-political changes, when in the 1670s, the Marathas and the Mughals pressed into the Deccan.
Chikka Devaraja (r. 1672–1704), the most notable of Mysore's early kings, who ruled during much of this period, managed to not only survive the exigencies but further expanded territory. He achieved this by forging strategic alliances with the Marathas and the Mughals. The kingdom soon grew to include Salem and Bangalore to the east, Hassan to the west, Chikkamagaluru and Tumkur to the north and the rest of Coimbatore to the south. Despite this expansion, the kingdom, which now accounted for a fair share of land in the southern Indian heartland, extending from the Western Ghats to the western boundaries of the Coromandel plain, remained landlocked without direct coastal access. Chikka Devaraja's attempts to remedy this brought Mysore into conflict with the Nayaka chiefs of Ikkeri and the kings (Rajas) of Kodagu (modern Coorg); who between them controlled the Kanara coast (coastal areas of modern Karnataka) and the intervening hill region respectively. The conflict brought mixed results with Mysore annexing Periyapatna but suffering a reversal at Palupare.
Nevertheless, from around 1704, when the kingdom passed on to "Muteking" (Mukarasu) Kanthirava Narasaraja II, the survival and expansion of the kingdom was achieved by playing a delicate game of alliance, negotiation, subordination on occasion, and annexation of territory in all directions. According to historians Sanjay Subrahmanyam and Sethu Madhava Rao, Mysore was now formally a tributary of the Mughal empire. Mughul records claim a regular tribute (peshkash) was paid by Mysore. However, historian Suryanath Kamath feels the Mughals may have considered Mysore an ally, a situation brought about by Mughal–Maratha competition for supremacy in southern India. By the 1720s, with the Mughal empire in decline, further complications arose with the Mughal residents at both Arcot and Sira claiming tribute. The years that followed saw Krishnaraja Wodeyar I tread cautiously on the matter while keeping the Kodagu chiefs and the Marathas at bay. He was followed by Chamaraja Wodeyar VI during whose reign power fell into the hands of prime minister (Dalwai or Dalavoy) Nanjarajiah (or Nanjaraja) and chief minister (Sarvadhikari) Devarajiah (or Devaraja), the influential brothers from Kalale town near Nanjangud who would rule for the next three decades with the Wodeyars relegated to being the titular heads. The latter part of the rule of Krishnaraja II saw the Deccan Sultanates being eclipsed by the Mughals and in the confusion that ensued, Haider Ali, a captain in the army, rose to prominence. His victory against the Marathas at Bangalore in 1758, resulting in the annexation of their territory, made him an iconic figure. In honour of his achievements, the king gave him the title "Nawab Haider Ali Khan Bahadur".
Following Tipu's fall, a part of the kingdom of Mysore was annexed and divided between the Madras Presidency and the Nizam. The remaining territory was transformed into a Princely State; the five-year-old scion of the Wodeyar family, Krishnaraja III, was installed on the throne with chief minister (Diwan) Purniah, who had earlier served under Tipu, handling the reins as regent and Lt. Col. Barry Close taking charge as the British Resident. The British now took control of Mysore's foreign policy and also exacted an annual tribute and a subsidy for maintaining a standing British army at Mysore. As Diwan, Purniah distinguished himself with his progressive and innovative administration until he retired from service in 1811 (and died shortly thereafter) following the 16th birthday of the boy king.
The years that followed witnessed cordial relations between Mysore and the British until things began to sour in the 1820s. Even though the Governor of Madras, Thomas Munro determined after a personal investigation in 1825 that there was no substance to the allegations of financial impropriety made by A. H. Cole, the incumbent Resident of Mysore, the civil insurrection which broke out towards the end of the decade changed things considerably. In 1831, close on the heels of the insurrection and citing mal-administration, the British took direct control of the princely state. For the next fifty years, Mysore passed under the rule of successive British Commissioners; Sir Mark Cubbon, renowned for his statesmanship, served from 1834 until 1861 and put into place an efficient and successful administrative system which left Mysore a well developed state. In 1876–77, however, towards the end of the direct British rule, Mysore was struck by a devastating famine with estimated mortality figures which ranged between 700,000 and 1,100,000, or nearly a fifth of the population. Shortly thereafter, Maharaja Chamaraja IX, educated in the British system, took over the rule of Mysore in 1881, following the success of a lobby set up by the Wodeyar dynasty that was in favour of rendition. Accordingly, a resident British officer was appointed at the Mysore court and a Diwan was to handle the administration. From then onwards, until Indian independence in 1947, Mysore remained a Princely State under the British Raj with the Wodeyars continuing their rule.
After the demise of Maharaja Chamaraja IX, Krishnaraja IV, still a boy of eleven ascended the throne in 1895. His mother Maharani Kemparajammanniyavaru ruled as regent until Krishnaraja took over the reins on 8 February 1902. Under his rule, with Sir M. Vishweshwariah as his Diwan, the Maharaja set about transforming Mysore into a progressive and modern state, particularly in industry, education, agriculture and art. Such were the strides that Mysore made that Mahatma Gandhi called the Maharaja a "saintly king" (Rajarishi). Paul Brunton, the British philosopher and orientalist, John Gunther, the American author, and British statesman Lord Samuel praised the ruler's efforts. Much of the pioneering work in educational infrastructure that took place during this period would serve Karnataka invaluably in the coming decades. The Maharaja was an accomplished musician, and like his predecessors, avidly patronised the development of the fine arts. He was followed by his nephew Jayachamaraja whose rule came to an end when he signed the instrument of accession and Mysore joined the Indian Union on 9 August 1947.
There are no records relating to the administration of the Mysore territory during the Vijayanagara Empire's reign (1399–1565). Signs of a well organised and independent administration appear from the time of Raja Wodeyar I who is believed to have been sympathetic towards peasants (raiyats) who were exempted from any increases in taxation during his time. The first sign that the kingdom had established itself in the area was the issuing of gold coins (Kanthirayi phanam) resembling those of the erstwhile Vijayanagara Empire during Narasaraja Wodeyar's rule.
The rule of Chikka Devaraja saw several reforms were effected. Internal administration was remodeled to suit the kingdom's growing needs and became more efficient. A postal system came into being. Far reaching financial reforms were also introduced. A number of petty taxes were imposed in place of direct taxes, as a result of which the peasants were compelled to pay more by way of land tax.] The king is said to have taken a personal interest in the regular collection of revenues the treasury burgeoned to 90,000,000 Pagoda (a unit of currency) – earning him the epithet "Nine crore Narayana" (Navakoti Narayana). In 1700, he sent an embassy to Aurangazeb's court who bestowed upon him the title Jug Deo Raja and awarded permission to sit on the ivory throne. Following this, he founded the district offices (Attara Kacheri), the central secretariat comprising eighteen departments, and his administration was modeled on Mughal lines.
During Haider Ali's rule, the kingdom was divided into five provinces (Asofis) of unequal size, comprising 171 taluks (Paraganas) in total. When Tipu Sultan became the de facto ruler, the kingdom, which encompassed 160,000 km2 (61,776 sq mi) (62,000 mi²), was divided into 37 provinces and a total of 124 taluks (Amil). Each province had a governor (Asof), and one deputy governor. Each taluk had a headman called Amildar and a group of villages were in charge of a Patel. The central administration comprised six departments headed by ministers, each aided by an advisory council of up to four members.
When the princely state came under direct British rule in 1831, early commissioners Lushington, Briggs and Morrison were followed by Mark Cubbon, who took charge in 1834. He made Bangalore the capital and divided the princely state into four divisions, each under a British superintendent. The state was further divided into 120 taluks with 85 taluk courts, with all lower level administration in the Kannada language. The office of the commissioner had eight departments; revenue, post, police, cavalry, public works, medical, animal husbandry, judiciary and education. The judiciary was hierarchical with the commissioners' court at the apex, followed by the Huzur Adalat, four superintending courts and eight Sadar Munsiff courts at the lowest level. Lewin Bowring became the chief commissioner in 1862 and held the position until 1870. During his tenure, the property "Registration Act", the "Indian Penal code" and "Code of Criminal Procedure" came into effect and the judiciary was separated from the executive branch of the administration.
After rendition, Rangacharlu, a native of Chennai, was made the Diwan. Under him, the first Representative Assembly of British India, with 144 members, was formed in 1881. He was followed by Sheshadri Iyer in 1883 during whose tenure gold mining at the Kolar Gold Fields began, the Shivanasamudra hydroelectric project was initiated in 1899 (the first such major attempt in India) and electricity and drinking water (the latter through pipes) was supplied to Bangalore. Sheshadri Iyer was followed by P.N. Krishna Murthy, who founded The Secretariat Manual to maintain records and the Co-operative Department in 1905, V.P. Madhava Rao who focussed on conservation of forests and T. Ananda Rao, who finalised the Kannambadi Dam project.
Sir M. Visveshwarayya, popularly known as the "Maker of Modern Mysore", holds a key place in the history of Karnataka. An engineer by education, he became the Diwan in 1909. Under his tenure, membership of the Mysore Legislative Assembly was increased from 18 to 24, and it was given the power to discuss the state budget. The Mysore Economic Conference was expanded into three committees; industry and commerce, education, and agriculture, with publications in English and Kannada. Important projects commissioned during his time included the construction of the Kannambadi Dam, the founding of the Mysore Iron Works at Bhadravathi, founding of the Mysore University in 1916, the University Visvesvaraya College of Engineering in Bangalore, establishment of the Mysore state railway department and numerous industries in Mysore. In 1955, he was awarded the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honor.
Sir Mirza Ismail took office as Diwan in 1926 and built on the foundation laid by his predecessor. Amongst his contributions were the expansion of the Bhadravathi Iron Works, the founding of a cement and paper factory in Bhadravathi and the launch of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. A man with a penchant for gardens, he founded the Brindavan Gardens (Krishnaraja Sagar) and built the Kaveri River high-level canal to irrigate 120,000 acres (490 km2) in modern Mandya district.
The vast majority of the people lived in villages and agriculture was their main occupation. The economy of the kingdom was based on agriculture. Grains, pulses, vegetables and flowers were cultivated. Commercial crops included sugarcane and cotton. The agrarian population consisted of landlords (gavunda, zamindar, heggadde) who tilled the land by employing a number of landless labourers, usually paying them in grain. Minor cultivators were also willing to hire themselves out as labourers if the need arose. It was due to the availability of these landless labourers that kings and landlords were able to execute major projects such as palaces, temples, mosques, anicuts (dams) and tanks. Because land was abundant and the population relatively sparse, no rent was charged on land ownership. Instead, landowners paid tax for cultivation, which amounted to up to one-half of all harvested produce.
Tipu Sultan is credited to have founded state trading depots in various locations of his kingdom. In addition, he founded depots in foreign locations such as Karachi, Jeddah and Muscat, where Mysore products were sold. During Tipu's rule French technology was used for the first time in carpentry and smithy, Chinese technology was used for sugar production, and technology from Bengal helped improve the sericulture industry. State factories were established in Kanakapura and Taramandelpeth for producing cannons and gunpowder respectively. The state held the monopoly in the production of essentials such as sugar, salt, iron, pepper, cardamom, betel nut, tobacco and sandalwood, as well as the extraction of incense oil from sandalwood and the mining of silver, gold and precious stones. Sandalwood was exported to China and the Persian Gulf countries and sericulture was developed in twenty-one centres within the kingdom.
This system changed under the British, when tax payments were made in cash, and were used for the maintenance of the army, police and other civil and public establishments. A portion of the tax was transferred to England as the "Indian tribute". Unhappy with the loss of their traditional revenue system and the problems they faced, peasants rose in rebellion in many parts of south India. After 1800, the Cornwallis land reforms came into effect. Reade, Munro, Graham and Thackeray were some administrators who improved the economic conditions of the masses. However, the homespun textile industry suffered during British rule, with the exception of the producers of the finest cloth and the coarse cloth which was popular with the rural masses. This was due to the manufacturing mills of Manchester, Liverpool and Scotland being more than a match for the traditional handweaving industry, especially in spinning and weaving.
The economic revolution in England and the tariff policies of the British also caused massive de-industrialization in other sectors throughout India and Mysore. For example, the gunny bag weaving business had been a monopoly of the Goniga people, which they lost when the British began ruling the area. The import of a chemical substitute for saltpetre (potassium nitrate) affected the Uppar community, the traditional makers of saltpetre for use in gunpowder. The import of kerosene affected the Ganiga community which supplied oils. Foreign enamel and crockery industries had an impact on the native pottery business and mill-made blankets replaced the country-made blankets called kambli. This economic fallout led to the formation of community-based social welfare organisations to help those within the community to cope better with their new economic situation, including youth hostels for students seeking education and shelter. However, the British economic policies created a class structure consisting of a newly established middle class comprising various blue and white-collared occupational groups, including agents, brokers, lawyers, teachers, civil servants and physicians. Due to a more flexible caste hierarchy, the middle class contained a heterogeneous mix of people from different castes.
The early kings of the Wodeyar dynasty worshipped the Hindu god Shiva. The later kings, starting from the 17th century, took to Vaishnavism, the worship of the Hindu god Vishnu. According to musicologist Meera Rajaram Pranesh, King Raja Wodeyar I was a devotee of the god Vishnu, King Dodda Devaraja was honoured with the title "Protector of Brahmins" (Deva Brahmana Paripalaka) for his support to Brahmins, and Maharaja Krishnaraja III was devoted to the goddess Chamundeshwari (a form of Hindu goddess Durga). Wilks ("History of Mysore", 1800) wrote about a Jangama (Veerashaiva saint-devotee of Shiva) uprising, related to excessive taxation, which was put down firmly by Chikka Devaraja. Historian D.R. Nagaraj claims that four hundred Jangamas were murdered in the process but clarifies that Veerashiava literature itself is silent about the issue. Historian Suryanath Kamath claims King Chikka Devaraja was a Srivaishnava (follower of Sri Vaishnavism, a sect of Vaishnavism) but was not anti-Veerashaiva. Historian Aiyangar concurs that some of the kings including the celebrated Narasaraja I and Chikka Devaraja were Vaishnavas, but suggests this may not have been the case with all Wodeyar rulers. The rise of the modern day Mysore city as a centre of south Indian culture has been traced from the period of their sovereignty. Raja Wodeyar I initiated the celebration of the Dasara festival in Mysore, a proud tradition of the erstwhile Vijayanagara royal family.
Jainism, though in decline during the late medieval period, also enjoyed the patronage of the Mysore kings, who made munificent endowments to the Jain monastic order at the town of Shravanabelagola. Records indicate that some Wodeyar kings not only presided over the Mahamastakabhisheka ceremony, an important Jain religious event at Shravanabelagola, but also personally offered prayers (puja) during the years 1659, 1677, 1800, 1825, 1910, 1925, 1940, and 1953.
The contact between South India and Islam goes back to the 7th century, when trade between Hindu kingdoms and Islamic caliphates thrived. These Muslim traders settled on the Malabar coast and married local Hindu women, and their descendants came to be known as Mappillas. By the 14th century, Muslims had become a significant minority in the south, though the advent of Portuguese missionaries checked their growth. Haider Ali, though a devout Muslim, did not allow his faith to interfere with the administration of the predominantly Hindu kingdom. Historians are, however, divided on the intentions of Haider Ali's son, Tipu Sultan. It has been claimed that Tipu raised Hindus to prominent positions in his administration, made generous grants to Hindu temples and brahmins, and generally respected other faiths, and that any religious conversions that Tipu undertook were as punishment to those who rebelled against his authority. However, this has been countered by other historians who claim that Tipu Sultan treated the non-Muslims of Mysore far better than those of the Malabar, Raichur and Kodagu regions. They opine that Tipu was responsible for mass conversions of Christians and Hindus in these regions, either by force or by offering them tax incentives and revenue benefits to convert.
Prior to the 18th century, the society of the kingdom followed age-old and deeply established norms of social interaction between people. Accounts by contemporaneous travellers indicate the widespread practice of the Hindu caste system and of animal sacrifices during the nine day celebrations (called Mahanavami). Later, fundamental changes occurred due to the struggle between native and foreign powers. Though wars between the Hindu kingdoms and the Sultanates continued, the battles between native rulers (including Muslims) and the newly arrived British took centre stage. The spread of English education, the introduction of the printing press and the criticism of the prevailing social system by Christian missionaries helped make the society more open and flexible. The rise of modern nationalism throughout India also had its impact on Mysore.
With the advent of British power, English education gained prominence in addition to traditional education in local languages. These changes were orchestrated by Lord Elphinstone, the governor of the Madras Presidency. His plan became the constitution of the central collegiate institution or University Board in 1841. Accordingly, a high school department of the university was established. For imparting education in the interior regions, schools were raised in principal towns which eventually were elevated to college level, with each college becoming central to many local schools (zilla schools).The earliest English-medium schools appeared in 1833 in Mysore and spread across the region. In 1858, the department of education was founded in Mysore and by 1881, there were an estimated 2,087 English-medium schools in the state of Mysore. Higher education became available with the formation of Bangalore Central College in Bangalore (1870), Maharaja's college (1879), Maharani's college (1901) and the Mysore University (1916) in Mysore and the St. Agnes college in Mangalore (1921).
Social reforms aimed at removing practices such as sati and social discrimination based upon untouchability, as well as demands for the emancipation of the lower classes, swept across India and influenced Mysore territory.In 1894, the kingdom passed laws to abolish the marriage of girls below the age of eight. Remarriage of widowed women and marriage of destitute women was encouraged, and in 1923, women were granted the permission to exercise their franchise in elections. There were, however, uprisings against British authority in the Mysore territory, notably the Kodagu uprising in 1835 (after the British dethroned the local ruler Chikkaviraraja) and the Kanara uprising of 1837. The era of printing heralded by Christian missionaries resulted in the founding of printing presses across the kingdom. The publication of ancient and contemporary Kannada books (such as the Pampa Bharata and the Jaimini Bharata), a Kannada-language Bible, a bilingual dictionary and a Kannada newspaper called Kannada Samachara began in the early 19th century. Aluru Venkata Rao published a consolidated Kannada history glorifying the achievements of Kannadigas in his book Karnataka Gatha Vaibhava.
Classical English and Sanskrit plays, and native Yakshagana plays influenced the Kannada stage and produced famous dramatists like Gubbi Veeranna.The public began to enjoy Carnatic music through its broadcast via public address systems set up on the palace grounds. Mysore paintings, which were inspired by the Bengal Renaissance, were created by artists such as Sundarayya, Ala Singarayya, and B. Venkatappa.
The era of the Kingdom of Mysore is considered an important age in the development of Kannada literature. Not only was the Mysore court adorned by famous Brahmin and Veerashaiva writers and composers, the kings themselves were accomplished in the fine arts. While conventional literature in philosophy and religion remained popular, writings in new genres such as chronicle, biography, history, encyclopedia, novel, drama, and musical treatise became popular. A native form of folk literature with dramatic representation called Yakshagana gained popularity. A remarkable development of the later period was the influence of English literature and classical Sanskrit literature on Kannada.
Govinda Vaidya, a native of Srirangapatna, wrote Kanthirava Narasaraja Vijaya, a eulogy of his patron King Narasaraja I. Written in sangatya metre (a composition meant to be rendered to the accompaniment of a musical instrument), the book describes the king's court, popular music and the types of musical compositions of the age in twenty-six chapters. King Chikka Devaraja was the earliest composer of the dynasty. To him is ascribed the famous treatise on music called Geetha Gopala. Though inspired by Jayadeva's Sanskrit writing Geetha Govinda, it had an originality of its own and was written in saptapadi metre. Contemporary poets who left their mark on the entire Kannada-speaking region include the brahmin poet Lakshmisa and the itinerant Veerashaiva poet Sarvajna. Female poets also played a role in literary developments, with Cheluvambe (the queen of Krishnaraja Wodeyar I), Helavanakatte Giriyamma, Sri Rangamma (1685) and Sanchi Honnamma (Hadibadeya Dharma, late 17th century) writing notable works.
A polyglot, King Narasaraja II authored fourteen Yakshaganas in various languages, though all are written in Kannada script. Maharaja Krishnaraja III was a prolific writer in Kannada for which he earned the honorific Abhinava Bhoja (a comparison to the medieval King Bhoja). Over forty writings are attributed to him, of which the musical treatise Sri Tatwanidhi and a poetical romance called Saugandika Parinaya written in two versions, a sangatya and a drama, are most well-known. Under the patronage of the Maharaja, Kannada literature began its slow and gradual change towards modernity. Kempu Narayana's Mudramanjusha ("The Seal Casket", 1823) is the earliest work that has touches of modern prose. However, the turning point came with the historically important Adbhuta Ramayana (1895) and Ramaswamedham (1898) by Muddanna, whom the Kannada scholar Narasimha Murthy considers "a Janus like figure" of modern Kannada literature. Muddanna has deftly handled an ancient epic from an entirely modern viewpoint.
Basavappa Shastry, a native of Mysore and a luminary in the court of Maharaja Krishnaraja III and Maharaja Chamaraja IX, is known as the "Father of Kannada theatre" (Kannada Nataka Pitamaha). He authored dramas in Kannada and translated William Shakespeare's "Othello" to Shurasena Charite. His well-known translations from Sanskrit to Kannada are many and include Kalidasa, Abhignyana Shakuntala.
Under Maharaja Krishnaraja III and his successors – Chamaraja IX, Krishnaraja IV and the last ruler, Jayachamaraja, the Mysore court came to be the largest and most renowned patron of music. While the Tanjore and Travancore courts also extended great patronage and emphasised preservation of the art, the unique combination of royal patronage of individual musicians, founding of music schools to kindle public interest and a patronage of European music publishers and producers set Mysore apart. Maharaja Krishnaraja III, himself a musician and musicologist of merit, composed a number of javalis (light lyrics) and devotional songs in Kannada under the title Anubhava pancharatna. His compositions bear the nom de plume (mudra) "Chamundi'" or '"Chamundeshwari'", in honour of the Wodeyar family deity. His successor Chamaraja IX founded the Oriental Library in 1891 to house music books and also commissioned phonograph recordings of several musicians for the palace library.
Under Krishnaraja IV, art received further patronage. A distinct school of music which gave importance to raga and bhava evolved. The Royal School of Music founded at the palace helped institutionalise teaching of the art. Carnatic compositions were printed and the European staff notation came to be employed by royal musicians. Western music was also encouraged – Margaret Cousins' piano concerto with the Palace Orchestra marked the celebrations of Beethoven's centenary in Bangalore. Maharaja Jayachamaraja, also a renowned composer of Carnatic kritis (a musical composition), sponsored a series of recordings of Russian composer Nikolas Medtner and others.The court ensured that Carnatic music also kept up with the times. Gramophone recordings of the palace band were made and sold commercially. Attention was paid to "technology of the concert". Lavish sums were spent on acquiring various instruments including the unconventional horn violin, theremin and calliaphone, a mechanical music player.
The Mysore court was home to several renowned experts (vidwan) of the time. Veena Sheshanna, a court musician during the rule of Maharaja Chamaraja IX, is considered one of the greatest exponents of the veena. His achievements in classical music won Mysore a premier place in the art of instrumental Carnatic music and he was given the honorific Vainika Shikhamani by Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV. Mysore Vasudevacharya was a noted musician and composer in Sanskrit and Telugu from Mysore. He holds the unique distinction of being patronised by four generations of Mysore kings and rulers and for being court musician to three of them. H.L. Muthiah Bhagavatar was another musician-composer who adorned the Mysore court. Considered one of the most important composers of the post-Tyagaraja period, he is credited with about 400 compositions in Sanskrit, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil under the pen name "Harikesha". Among violinists, T. Chowdiah emerged as one of the most accomplished exponents of the time. He is known to have mastered the seven-stringed violin. Chowdiah was appointed court musician by Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV in 1939 and received such titles as "Sangeeta Ratna" and "Sangeeta Kalanidhi". He is credited with compositions in Kannada, Telugu and Sanskrit under the pen name "Trimakuta".
The architectural style of courtly and royal structures in the kingdom underwent profound changes during British rule – a mingling of European traditions with native elements. The Hindu temples in the kingdom were built in typical South Indian Dravidian style – a modest version of the Vijayanagara building idiom. When in power, Tipu Sultan constructed a palace and a mosque in Srirangapatna, his capital. However, it is the city of Mysore that is best known for its royal palaces, earning it the nickname "City of Palaces". The city's main palace, the Mysore Palace, is also known as the Amba Vilas Palace. The original complex was destroyed by fire and a new palace was commissioned by the Queen-Regent and designed by the English architect Henry Irwin in 1897. The overall design is a combination of Hindu, Islamic, Indo-Saracenic and Moorish styles, which for the first time in India, used cast iron columns and roof frames. The striking feature of the exterior is the granite columns that support cusped arches on the portico, a tall tower whose finial is a gilded dome with an umbrella (chattri) on it, and groups of other domes around it.The interior is richly decorated with marbled walls and a teakwood ceiling on which are sculptures of Hindu deities. The Durbar hall leads to an inner private hall through silver doors. This opulent room has floor planels that are inlaid with semi-precious stones, and a stained glass roof supported centrally by columns and arches. The marriage hall (Kalyana mantapa) in the palace complex is noted for its stained glass octogonal dome with peacock motifs.[
The Lalitha Mahal Palace was built in 1921 by E.W. Fritchley under the commission of Maharaja Krishnaraja IV. The architectural style is called "Renaissance" and exhibits concepts from English manor houses and Italian palazzos.The central dome is believed to be modelled on St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Other important features are the Italian marble staircase, the polished wooden flooring in the banquet and dance halls, and the Belgian cut glass lamps. The Jaganmohan Palace was commissioned in 1861 and was completed in 1910. The three storeyed building with attractive domes, finials and cupolas was the venue of many a royal celebration. It is now called the Chamarajendra Art Gallery and houses a rich collection of artifacts.
The Mysore University campus, also called "Manasa Gangotri", is home to several architecturally interesting buildings. Some of them are in European style and were completed in late 19th century. They include the Jayalakshmi Vilas mansion, the Crawford Hall, the Oriental Research Institute (built between 1887 and 1891) with its Ionic and Corinthian columns, and the district offices (Athara Kutchery, 1887). The Athara Kutchery, which initially served as the office of the British commissioner, has an octagonal dome and a finial that adds to its beauty. The maharaja's summer palace, built in 1880, is called the Lokaranjan Mahal, and initially served as a school for royalty. The Rajendra Vilas Palace, built in the Indo-British style atop the Chamundi Hill, was commissioned in 1922 and completed in 1938 by Maharaja Krishnaraja IV. Other royal mansions built by the Mysore rulers were the Chittaranjan Mahal in Mysore and the Bangalore Palace in Bangalore, a structure built on the lines of England's Windsor Castle. The Central Food Technical Research Institute (Cheluvamba Mansion), built in baroque European renaissance style, was once the residence of princess Cheluvambaamani Avaru, a sister of Maharaja Krishnaraja IV. Its extensive pilaster work and mosaic flooring are noteworthy.
Most famous among the many temples built by the Wodeyars is the Chamundeshwari Temple atop the Chamundi Hill. The earliest structure here was consecrated in the 12th century and was later patronised by the Mysore rulers. Maharaja Krishnaraja III added a Dravidian-style gopuram in 1827. The temple has silver-plated doors with images of deities. Other images include those of the Hindu god Ganesha and of Maharaja Krishnaraja III with his three queens. Surrounding the main palace in Mysore and inside the fort are five temples, built in various periods. The Prasanna Krishnaswamy Temple (1829), the Lakshmiramana Swamy Temple whose earliest structures date to 1499, the Trinesvara Swamy Temple (late 16th century), the Shweta Varaha Swamy Temple built by Purniah with a touch of Hoysala style of architecture, the Prasanna Venkataramana Swami Temple (1836) notable for 12 murals of the Wodeyar rulers. Well-known temples outside Mysore city are the yali ("mythical beast") pillared Venkataramana Temple built in the late 17th century in the Bangalore fort, and the Ranganatha temple in Srirangapatna.
Tipu Sultan built a wooden colonnaded palace called the Dariya Daulat Palace (lit, "garden of the wealth of the sea") in Srirangapatna in 1784. Built in the Indo-Saracenic style, the palace is known for its intricate woodwork consisting of ornamental arches, striped columns and floral designs, and paintings. The west wall of the palace is covered with murals depicting Tipu Sultan's victory over Colonel Baillie's army at Pollilur, near Kanchipuram in 1780. One mural shows Tipu enjoying the fragrance of a bouquet of flowers while the battle is in progress. In that painting, the French soldiers' moustaches distinguish them from the cleanshaven British soldiers. Also in Srirangapatna is the Gumbaz mausoleum, built by Tipu Sultan in 1784. It houses the graves of Tipu and Haider Ali. The granite base is capped with a dome built of brick and pilaster.
Chandragupta Maurya (Sanskrit: चन्द्रगुप्त मौर्य), (born c. 340BCE, ruled c. 320, – 298 BCEdied about 298 BCE) was the founder of the Maurya Empire. Chandragupta succeeded in conquering most of the Indian subcontinent. Chandragupta, the first Mauryan king, claimed descent from Shakya clan of the Kshatriya varna. Having defeated the Greek satrap in the Khyber mountains around 303 BC, Chandragupta was crowned King at Taxila. As a result, Chandragupta is considered the first unifier of India and its first genuine emperor. In foreign Greek and Latin accounts, Chandragupta is known as Sandrokyptos (Σανδρόκυπτος), Sandrokottos (Σανδρόκοττος) or Androcottus.
Prior to Chandragupta's consolidation of power, small regional kingdoms dominated the northwestern subcontinent, while the Nanda Dynasty dominated the middle and lower basin of the Ganges. After Chandragupta's conquests, the Maurya Empire extended from Bengal and Assam in the east, to Afghanistan and Balochistan in the west, to Kashmir and Nepal in the north, and to the Deccan Plateau in the south.
According to Col. James Tod Chandragupta was a descendant of Puru dynasty:
Sandrocottus is mentioned by Arrian to be of this line ; and we can have no hesitation, therefore, in giving him a place in the dynasty of Puru, the second son of Yayati, whence the patronymic used by the race now extinct, as was Yadu, the elder brother of Puru.,
—, Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan, By James Tod , pp 37
Another popular legend among the common folks of India is that Chandragupta was a shepherd(Kuruba/Dhangar) boy who with the help of the Brahmin Chanakya revolted against the atrocities of the Nanda kings and established the Mauryan Empire.
But according to Bhagavat Puran Chandragupta Maurya was a Yadav King.
Very little is known about Chandragupta's youth. Much of what is known about his youth is gathered from later classical Sanskrit literature, as well as classical Greek and Latin sources which refer to Chandragupta by the names "Sandracottos" or "Andracottus". He was paragon for later rulers.
According to traditional accounts, Chanakya, a teacher at Takshasila University at the time of Alexander's invasion, found the boy Chandragupta from the Magadha kingdom in eastern India. As the story goes, Chandragupta was playing as a king with his friends and was giving justice to another boy playing criminal. He also saw the kindness inside him to help others. Chanakya saw this and was impressed with Chandragupta's sense of justice. Chanakya asked his mother about him. His mother told him that his father used to work as a servant of the Nanda king who ruled over the kingdom of Maghada and due to some fault he was sent into the prison. Chanakya told her to take him to the king and ask him to give some education to Chandragupta. Then she went to his court. There Chandragupta solved a problem for the king. The king was impressed and told his minister to join him in the best university at that time, The Vishvavidhyalay of Takshasila[often known as the Takshasila University]
"Androcottus, when he was a stripling, saw Alexander himself, and we are told that he often said in later times that Alexander narrowly missed making himself master of the country, since its king was hated and despised on account of his baseness and low birth."
This view is not accepted by most Indian historians.
According to this tradition, the encounter would have happened around 326 BCE, suggesting a birth date for Chandragupta around 340 BC.
Junianus Justinus (Justin) describes the humble origins of Chandragupta, and explains how he later led a popular uprising against the Nanda king:he was known as king of the time.
"He was of humble origin, but was pushing to acquiring the throne by the superior power of the mind. When after having offended the king of Nanda by his insolence, he was condemned to death by the king, he was saved by the speed of his own feet... He gathered bandits and invited Indians to a change of rule."
Foundation of the Maurya Empire
Chandragupta Maurya with the help of Chanakya defeated the Magadha kings and the bulk army of Chandravanshi clan and defeated generals of Alexander settled in Gandhara (Kamboja kingdom of Aryan Mahajanpad) which is called as Afghanistan now. At the time of Alexander's invasion, Chanakya was a teacher at Takshasila University. The king of Takshasila and Gandhara, Ambhi (also known as Taxiles), made a treaty with Alexander and did not fight against him. Chanakya saw the foreign invasion against the Indian culture and sought help from other kings to unite and fight Alexander. Porus (Parvateshwar), a king of Punjab, was the only local king who was able to challenge Alexander at the Battle of the Hydaspes River, but was defeated.
Chanakya then went to Magadha further east to seek the help of Dhana Nanda, who ruled a vast Nanda Empire which extended from Bihar and Bengal in the east to eastern Punjab in the west, but he denied any such help. After this incident, Chanakya began sowing the seeds of building an empire that could protect Indian territories from foreign invasion into his disciple Chandragupta.
Chandragupta later adopted Jainism. It is said he died fasting which was according to Jainism a holy way of sacrificing mortal life.
Kautilya's role in the formation of the Mauryan Empire is the essence of a historical/spiritual novel The Courtesan and the Sadhu by Dr. Mysore N. Prakash.
Chandragupta's adviser or prime ministerChanakya, who is also known as Kautilya and was the author of the Arthashastra, is regarded as the architect of Chandragupta's early rise to power. Chandragupta Maurya, with the help of Chanakya, began laying the foundation of the Maurya Empire. In all forms of the Chanakya legend, he is thrown out of the Nanda court by the king, whereupon he swears revenge. While in Magadha, Chanakya by chance met Chandragupta in whom he spotted great military and executive abilities. Chanakya was impressed by the prince's personality and intelligence, and immediately took the young boy under his wing to fulfill his silent vow.
Depending upon the interpretation of Justin's accounts, the second version of the above story is that Chandragupta had also accompanied Chanakya to Pataliputra and himself was insulted by Dhana Nanda (Nandrum of Justin). If this version of Justin's accounts is accepted, then the view that Chanakya had purchased Chandragupta from Bihar, on his way back to Taxila, becomes irrelevant. The shrewd Chanakya had trained Chandragupta under his expert guidance and together they planned the conquest of the Nanda Empire.
According to Plutarch, at the time of Alexander's Battle of the Hydaspes River, the size of the Nanda Empire's army further east numbered 200,000 infantry, 80,000 cavalry, 8,000 chariots, and 6,000 war elephants, which was discouraging for Alexander's men and stayed their further progress into India:
"As for the Macedonians, however, their struggle with Porus blunted their courage and stayed their further advance into India. For having had all they could do to repulse an enemy who mustered only twenty thousand infantry and two thousand horse, they violently opposed Alexander when he insisted on crossing the river Ganges also, the width of which, as they learned, was •thirty-two furlongs, its depth •a hundred fathoms, while its banks on the further side were covered with multitudes of men-at‑arms and horsemen and elephants. For they were told that the kings of the Ganderites and Praesii were awaiting them with eighty thousand horsemen, two hundred thousand footmen, eight thousand chariots, and six thousand fighting elephants. And there was no boasting in these reports. For Androcottus, who reigned there not long afterwards, made a present to Seleucus of five hundred elephants, and with an army of six hundred thousand men overran and subdued all India."
In order to defeat the powerful Nanda army, Chandragupta needed to raise a formidable army of his own.
Conquest of Macedonian territories in India
After Alexander's death in 323 BC, Chandragupta, turned his attention to Northwestern India (modern Pakistan), where he defeated the satrapies (described as "prefects" in classical Western sources) left in place by Alexander (according to Justin), and may have assassinated two of his governors, Nicanor and Philip.The satrapies he fought may have included Eudemus, ruler in western Punjab until his departure in 317 BC; and Peithon, son of Agenor, ruler of the Greek colonies along the Indus until his departure for Babylon in 316 BC. The Roman historian Justin described how Sandrocottus (Greek version of Chandragupta's name) conquered the northwest:
"Some time after, as he was going to war with the generals of Alexander, a wild elephant of great bulk presented itself before him of its own accord, and, as if tamed down to gentleness, took him on its back, and became his guide in the war, and conspicuous in fields of battle. Sandrocottus, having thus acquired a throne, was in possession of India, when Seleucus was laying the foundations of his future greatness; who, after making a league with him, and settling his affairs in the east, proceeded to join in the war against Antigonus. As soon as the forces, therefore, of all the confederates were united, a battle was fought, in which Antigonus was slain, and his son Demetrius put to flight. "
Having consolidated power in the northwest, Chandragupta pushed east towards the Nanda Empire.
Conquest of the Nanda Empire
Chanakya had trained Chandragupta under his guidance and together they planned the destruction of Dhana Nanda. The Mudrarakshasa of Visakhadutta as well as the Jaina work Parisishtaparvan talk of Chandragupta's alliance with the Himalayan king Parvatka, sometimes identified with Porus.
It is noted in the Chandraguptakatha that the protagonist and Chanakya were initially rebuffed by the Nanda forces. Regardless, in the ensuing war, Chandragupta faced off against Bhadrasala – commander of Dhana Nanda's armies. He was eventually able to defeat Bhadrasala and Dhana Nanda in a series of battles, ending with the siege of the capital city Kusumapura and the conquest of the Nanda Empire around 321 BC, thus founding the powerful Maurya Empire in Northern India by the time he was about 20 years old.
By the time he was only about 20 years old, Chandragupta, who had succeeded in defeating the Macedonian satrapies in India and conquering the Nanda Empire, had founded a vast empire that extended from the Bay of Bengal in the east, to the Indus River in the west, which he would further expand in later years.
Conquest of Seleucus' eastern territories
Seleucus I Nicator, a Macedonian satrap of Alexander, reconquered most of Alexander's former empire and put under his own authority eastern territories as far as Bactria and the Indus (Appian, History of Rome, The Syrian Wars 55), until in 305 BC he entered in a confrontation with Chandragupta:
"Always lying in wait for the neighboring nations, strong in arms and persuasive in council, he acquired Mesopotamia, Armenia, 'Seleucid' Cappadocia, Persis, Parthia, Bactria, Arabia, Tapouria, Sogdia, Arachosia, Hyrcania, and other adjacent peoples that had been subdued by Alexander, as far as the river Indus, so that the boundaries of his empire were the most extensive in Asia after that of Alexander. The whole region from Phrygia to the Indus was subject to Seleucus. He crossed the Indus and waged war with Sandrocottus [Maurya], king of the Indians, who dwelt on the banks of that stream, until they came to an understanding with each other and contracted a marriage relationship. Some of these exploits were performed before the death of Antigonus and some afterward."
—Appian, History of Rome, The Syrian Wars
The exact details of engagement are not known. As noted by scholars such as R. C. Majumdarand D. D. Kosambi, Seleucus appears to have fared poorly, having ceded large territories west of the Indus to Chandragupta. Due to his defeat, Seleucus surrendered Arachosia, Gedrosia, Paropamisadae, and Aria.
Mainstream scholarship asserts that Chandragupta received vast territory west of the Indus, including the Hindu Kush, modern day Afghanistan, and the Balochistan province of Pakistan. Archaeologically, concrete indications of Mauryan rule, such as the inscriptions of the Edicts of Ashoka, are known as far as Kandhahar in southern Afghanistan.
"After having made a treaty with him (Sandrakotos) and put in order the Orient situation, Seleucos went to war against Antigonus."
It is generally thought that Chandragupta married Seleucus's daughter, or a Greek Macedonian princess, a gift from Seleucus to formalize an alliance. In a return gesture, Chandragupta sent 500 war-elephants, a military asset which would play a decisive role at the Battle of Ipsus in 302 BC. In addition to this treaty, Seleucus dispatched an ambassador, Megasthenes, to Chandragupta, and later Deimakos to his son Bindusara, at the Mauryan court at Pataliputra (modern Patna in Bihar state). Later Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt and contemporary of Ashoka the Great, is also recorded by Pliny the Elder as having sent an ambassador named Dionysius to the Mauryan court.
Classical sources have also recorded that following their treaty, Chandragupta and Seleucus exchanged presents, such as when Chandragupta sent various aphrodisiacs to Seleucus:
"And Theophrastus says that some contrivances are of wondrous efficacy in such matters [as to make people more amorous]. And Phylarchus confirms him, by reference to some of the presents which Sandrakottus, the king of the Indians, sent to Seleucus; which were to act like charms in producing a wonderful degree of affection, while some, on the contrary, were to banish love."
After annexing Seleucus' eastern Persian provinces, Chandragupta had a vast empire extending across the northern parts of Indian Sub-continent, from the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea. Chandragupta then began expanding his empire further south beyond the barrier of the Vindhya Range and into the Deccan Plateau. By the time his conquests were complete, Chandragupta succeeded in unifying most of Southern Asia. Megasthenes later recorded the size of Chandragupta's acquired army as 400,000 soldiers, according to Strabo:
"Megasthenes was in the camp of Sandrocottus, which consisted of 400,000 men"
On the other hand, Pliny, who also drew from Megasthenes' work, gives even larger numbers of 600,000 infantry, 30,000 cavalry, and 9,000 war elephants:
"But the Prasii surpass in power and glory every other people, not only in this quarter, but one may say in all India, their capital Palibothra, a very large and wealthy city, after which some call the people itself the Palibothri,--nay even the whole tract along the Ganges. Their king has in his pay a standing army of 600,000-foot-soldiers, 30,000 cavalry, and 9,000 elephants: whence may be formed some conjecture as to the vastness of his resources."
Chandragupta gave up his throne towards the end of his life and became an ascetic under the Jain saint Bhadrabahu, migrating south with them and ending his days in sallekhana at Shravanabelagola, in present day Karnataka; though fifth-century inscriptions in the area support the concept of a larger southern migration around that time. A small temple marks the cave (Bhadrabahu Cave) where he is said to have died by fasting.
Chandragupta Maurya renounced his throne to his son, Bindusara, who became the new Mauryan Emperor. Bindusara later became the father of Ashoka the Great, who was one of the most influential kings in history due to his important role in the history of Buddhism.
Establishment of the dynasty
Mahapadma Nanda has been described as the destroyer of all the Kshatriyas. He defeated the Panchalas, Kasis, Haihayas, Kalingas, Asmakas, Kurus, Maithilas, Surasenas, Vitihotras, etc. He expanded his territory south of Deccan. Mahapadma Nanda died at the age of 88 and, therefore, he ruled the bulk of the period of this dynasty, which lasted 100 years. The Nandas who usurped the throne of the Shishunaga dynasty were of low origin. Some sources state that the founder, Mahapadma, was the son of a Shudra mother, others that he was born of a union of a barber with a courtesan.
The Nandas are sometimes described as the first empire builders in the recorded history of India. They inherited the large kingdom of Magadha and wished to extend it to yet more distant frontiers. To this purpose they built up a vast army consisting of 200,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalry, 2,000 war chariots and 3,000 war elephants (at the lowest estimates). According to Plutarch however, the size of the Nanda army was even larger, numbering 200,000 infantry, 80,000 cavalry, 8,000 war chariots, and 6,000 war elephants. However, the Nandas never had the opportunity to see their army up against Alexander, who invaded India at the time of Dhana Nanda, since Alexander had to confine his campaign to the plains of Punjab, for his forces, frightened by the prospect of facing a formidable foe, mutinied at the Hyphasis River (the modern Beas River) refusing to march any further. This river thus marks the eastern-most extent of Alexander's conquests:
"As for the Macedonians, however, their struggle with Porus blunted their courage and stayed their further advance into India. For having had all they could do to repulse an enemy who mustered only twenty thousand infantry and two thousand horse, they violently opposed Alexander when he insisted on crossing the river Ganges also, the width of which, as they learned, was thirty-two furlongs, its depth a hundred fathoms, while its banks on the further side were covered with multitudes of men-at-arms and horsemen and elephants. For they were told that the kings of the Ganderites and Praesii were awaiting them with eighty thousand horsemen, two hundred thousand footmen, eight thousand chariots, and six thousand fighting elephants.".
The Nandas made the methodical collection of taxes by regularly appointed officials a part of their administrative system. The treasury was continually replenished, the wealth of the Nandas being well-known. The Nandas also built canals and carried out irrigation projects. The possibility of an imperial structure based on an essentially agrarian economy began to germinate in the Indian mind.
The last of the Nandas was Dhana Nanda (called Xandrames or Aggrammes in ancient Greek and Latin sources). Dhana Nanda was dethroned after he was defeated by Chandragupta Maurya, a young adventurer born of a Nanda prince and a maid named "Mura". He had a great potential to rule. Dhana Nanda was murdered which finally signaled the advent of the Maurya Empire in 321 BC.
Plutarch records that Chandragupta Maurya had stated that he was able to overthrow Dhana Nanda since he was hated and despised by his subjects on account of the wickedness of his disposition:
List of Nanda rulers
The Gupta Empire under Chandragupta II (ruled 375-415)
The Gupta dynasty ruled from around 240 to 550 AD. The Gupta Empire was one of the largest political and military empires in ancient India. The Gupta age is referred to as the Classical age of India by most historians. The time of the Gupta Empire was an Indian "Golden Age" in science, mathematics, astronomy, religion and philosophy. They had their capital at Pataliputra. The difference between Gupta and Mauryan administration was that the in the Mauryan administration power was centralised but in the Gupta administration power was more decentralised. The king occupied a powerful and important position and often took titles to assert his supremacy. A council of ministers and some officials helped him. The empire was divided into provinces and provinces were further divided into districts. Villages were the smallest units. The kingdom covered Gujarat, North-east India, south-eastern Pakistan, Orissa, northern Madhya Pradesh and eastern India. Art and architecture flourished during the Gupta age. People were mostly Vaishnavas. Temples devoted to Shiva and Vishnu were built during this period. Early temples had a large room where the idol of god was kept. Today these can be found in Deogarh in Jhansi. Temples were mostly made of brick or stone. The doorways were very decorative. Wall murals flourished during this age.These can be seen in Ajanta caves which are about 100 km from Aurangabad. These murals depict the life of Buddha.Yajnas were performed by Brahmins. All forms of worship were carried out in Sanskrit. Astronomy made rapid strides. Aryabhatta and Varahamihira were two great Astronomers and Mathematicians. Varahamihira stated that the earth moved round the sun and rotated on its own Axis. Metallurgy too made rapid strides. Proof is the Iron Pillar near Mehrauli on the outskirts of Delhi. Ayurveda was known to the people of Gupta age. People led happy and prosperous lives. Most people lived in villages and led a simple life. Rest houses and hospitals were set up. Laws were simple and punishments were not very harsh. However there was a serious flaw. The bad, inhuman treatment of the Chandalas or Untouchables. They were made to live outside the city and even their shadows were considered capable of polluting. The material sources of this age were Kalidasa's works i.e. Raghuvamsa, Meghdoot, Malavikagnimitram and Abhinjnana Shakuntalam, works of Fa-hein, the Chinese buddhist scholar, Allahabad pillar inscription called Prayag Prashsti, Books by Harisena and others.
Ashoka (Devanāgarī:, IAST: Aśoka, IPA: [aˈɕoːkə], 304–232 BC), popularly known as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty (Yadavs) who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from 269 BC to 232 BC. One of India's greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over most of present-day India after a number of military conquests. His empire stretched from present-day Pakistan, Afghanistan in the west, to the present-day Bangladesh and the Indian state of Assam in the east, and as far south as northern Kerala and Andhra. He conquered the kingdom named Kalinga, which no one in his dynasty had conquered starting from Chandragupta Maurya. His reign was headquartered in Magadha (present-day Bihar, India). He embraced Buddhism from the prevalent Vedic tradition after witnessing the mass deaths of the war of Kalinga, which he himself had waged out of a desire for conquest. He was later dedicated to the propagation of Buddhism across Asia and established monuments marking several significant sites in the life of Gautama Buddha. Ashoka was a devotee of ahimsa (nonviolence), love, truth, tolerance and vegetarianism. Ashoka is remembered in history as a philanthropic administrator. In the history of India Ashoka is referred to as Samraat Chakravartin Ashoka- the Emperor of Emperors Ashoka.
His name "aśoka" means "without sorrow" in Sanskrit .
In the history of the world there have been thousands of kings and emperors who called themselves 'their highnesses,' 'their majesties,' and 'their exalted majesties' and so on. They shone for a brief moment, and as quickly disappeared. But Ashoka shines and shines brightly like a bright star, even unto this day.
Ashoka was born to the Mauryan emperor Bindusara and his Queen 'Dharma' (although she was a Brahmin or Shubhadrangi, she was undervalued as she wasn't of royal blood). Ashoka had several elder siblings (all half-brothers from other wives of Bindusara). He had just one younger sibling, Vitthashoka (a much loved brother from the same mother). Because of his exemplary intellect and warrior skills, he was said to have been the favorite of his grandfather Chandragupta Maurya. As the legend goes, when Chandragupta Maurya left his empire for a Jain living, he threw his sword away. Ashoka found the sword and kept it, in spite of his grandfather's warning. Ashoka, in his adolescence, was rude and naughty. He was a fearsome hunter. He was a kshatriya and was given all royal military trainings and other Vedic knowledge. According to a legend, he killed a Lion with just a wooden rod. Ashoka was very well known for his sword fighting. He was very adventurous and this made him a terrific fighter. Ashoka was a frightening warrior and a heartless general. Because of this quality he was sent to destroy the riot of Avanti.
Rise to Power
Developing into an impeccable warrior general and a shrewd statesman, Ashoka went on to command several regiments of the Mauryan army. His growing popularity across the empire made his elder brothers wary of his chances of being favored by Bindusara to become the next emperor. The eldest of them, Susima, the traditional heir to the throne, persuaded Bindusara to send Ashoka to quell an uprising in Taxshila, a city in the north-west District of Pakistani Punjab region, for which Prince Susima was the Governor. Taxshila was a highly volatile place because of the war-like Indo-Greek population and mismanagement by Susima himself. This had led to the formation of different militias causing unrest. Ashoka complied and left for the troubled area. As news of Ashoka's visit with his army trickled in, he was welcomed by the revolting militias and the uprising ended without a conflict. (The province revolted once more during the rule of Ashoka, but this time the uprising was crushed with an iron fist)
Ashoka's success made his stepbrothers more wary of his intentions of becoming the emperor and more incitements from Susima led Bindusara to send Ashoka into exile. He went into Kalinga and stayed there incognito. There he met a fisher woman named Kaurwaki, with whom he fell in love. Recently found inscriptions indicate that she would later become either his second or third queen.
Meanwhile, there was again a violent uprising in Ujjain. Emperor Bindusara summoned Ashoka out of exile after two years. Ashoka went into Ujjain and in the ensuing battle was injured, but his generals quelled the uprising. Ashoka was treated in hiding so that loyalists of the Susima group could not harm him. He was treated by Buddhist monks and nuns. This is where he first learned the teachings of the Buddha, and it is also where he met Devi, who was his personal nurse and the daughter of a merchant from adjacent Vidisha. After recovering, he married her. It was quite unacceptable to Bindusara that one of his sons should marry a Buddhist, so he did not allow Ashoka to stay in Pataliputra but instead sent him back to Ujjain and made him the governor of Ujjain.
The following year passed quite peacefully for him, and Devi was about to deliver his first child. In the meanwhile, Emperor Bindusara died. As the news of the unborn heir to the throne spread, Prince Susima planned the execution of the unborn child; however, the assassin who came to kill Devi and her child killed his mother instead. Ashoka beheads his elder brother to ascend the throne. In this phase of his life, Ashoka was known for his unquenched thirst for wars and campaigns launched to conquer the lands of other rulers and became known as Chandashok (terrible Ashoka), the Sanskrit word chanda meaning cruel, fierce, or rude, Chandi-devi being associated with Kali.
Ascending the throne, Ashoka expanded his empire over the next eight years, from the present-day boundaries and regions of Burma–Bangladesh and the state of Assam in India in the east to the territory of present-day Iran / Persia and Afghanistan in the west; from the Pamir Knots in the north almost to the peninsular of southern India (i.e. Tamilnadu / Andhra pradesh).
Conquest of Kalinga
While the early part of Ashoka's reign was apparently quite bloodthirsty, he became a follower of the Buddha's teaching after his conquest of Kalinga on the east coast of India in the present-day state of Orissa. Kalinga was a state that prided itself on its sovereignty and democracy. With its monarchical parliamentary democracy it was quite an exception in ancient Bharata where there existed the concept of Rajdharma. Rajdharma means the duty of the rulers, which was intrinsically entwined with the concept of bravery and Kshatriya dharma.
The pretext for the start of the Kalinga War (265 BC or 263 BC) is uncertain. One of Susima's brothers might have fled to Kalinga and found official refuge there. This enraged Ashoka immensely. He was advised by his ministers to attack Kalinga for this act of treachery. Ashoka then asked Kalinga's royalty to submit before his supremacy. When they defied this diktat, Ashoka sent one of his generals to Kalinga to make them submit.
The general and his forces were, however, completely routed through the skilled tact of Kalinga's commander-in-chief. Ashoka, baffled at this defeat, attacked with the greatest invasion ever recorded in Indian history until then. Kalinga put up a stiff resistance, but they were no match for Ashoka's brutal strength. The whole of Kalinga was plundered and destroyed. Ashoka's later edicts state that about 100,000 people were killed on the Kalinga side and 10,000o from Ashoka's army. Thousands of men and women were deported.
A similar four "Indian lion" Lion Capital of Ashoka atop an intact Ashoka Pillar at Wat U Mong near Chiang Mai, Thailand showing another larger Dharma Chakra / Ashoka Chakra atop the four lions thought to be missing in the Lion Capital of Ashoka at Sarnath Museum which has been adopted as the National Emblem of India.
As the legend goes, one day after the war was over, Ashoka ventured out to roam the city and all he could see were burnt houses and scattered corpses. This sight made him sick and he cried the famous monologue:
What have I done? If this is a victory, what's a defeat then? Is this a victory or a defeat? Is this justice or injustice? Is it gallantry or a rout? Is it valor to kill innocent children and women? Do I do it to widen the empire and for prosperity or to destroy the other's kingdom and splendor? One has lost her husband, someone else a father, someone a child, someone an unborn infant.... What's this debris of the corpses? Are these marks of victory or defeat? Are these vultures, crows, eagles the messengers of death or evil?
The brutality of the conquest led him to adopt Buddhism and he used his position to propagate the relatively new religion to new heights, as far as ancient Rome and Egypt. He made Buddhism his state religion around 260 BC, and propagated it and preached it within his domain and worldwide from about 250 BC. Emperor Ashoka undoubtedly has to be credited with the first serious attempt to develop a Buddhistic policy.
Prominent in this cause were his son Venerable Mahindra and daughter Sanghamitra (whose name means "friend of the Sangha"), who established Budhism in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). He built thousands of Stupas and Viharas for Buddhist followers. The Stupas of Sanchi are world famous and the stupa named Sanchi Stupa was built by Emperor Ashoka. During the remaining portion of Ashoka's reign, he pursued an official policy of nonviolence (ahimsa). Even the unnecessary slaughter or mutilation of people was immediately abolished. Everyone became protected by the king's law against sport hunting and branding. Limited hunting was permitted for consumption reasons but Ashoka also promoted the concept of vegetarianism. Ashoka also showed mercy to those imprisoned, allowing them leave for the outside a day of the year. He attempted to raise the professional ambition of the common man by building universities for study, and water transit and irrigation systems for trade and agriculture. He treated his subjects as equals regardless of their religion, politics and caste. The kingdoms surrounding his, so easily overthrown, were instead made to be well-respected allies.
He is acclaimed for constructing hospitals for animals and renovating major roads throughout India. After this transformation, Ashoka came to be known as Dhammashoka (Sanskrit), meaning Ashoka, the follower of Dharma. Ashoka defined the main principles of dharma (dhamma) as nonviolence, tolerance of all sects and opinions, obedience to parents, respect for the Brahmans and other religious teachers and priests, liberality towards friends, humane treatment of servants, and generosity towards all. These principles suggest a general ethic of behaviour to which no religious or social group could object.
Some critics say that Ashoka was afraid of more wars, but among his neighbors, including the Seleucid Empire and the Greco-Bactrian kingdom established by Diodotus I, none could match his strength. He was a contemporary of both Antiochus I Soter and his successor Antiochus II Theos of the Seleucid dynasty as well as Diodotus I and his son Diodotus II of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom. If his inscriptions and edicts are well studied one finds that he was familiar with the Hellenic world but never in awe of it. His edicts, which talk of friendly relations, give the names of both Antiochus of the Seleucid empire and Ptolemy III of Egypt. The fame of the Mauryan empire was widespread from the time that Ashoka's grandfather Chandragupta Maurya defeated Seleucus Nicator, the founder of the Seleucid Dynasty.
The source of much of our knowledge of Ashoka is the many inscriptions he had carved on pillars and rocks throughout the empire. Emperor Ashoka is known as Piyadasi (in Pali) or Priyadarshi (in Sanskrit) meaning "good looking" or "favored by the gods with good blessing". All his inscriptions have the imperial touch and show compassionate loving. He addressed his people as his "children". These inscriptions promoted Buddhist morality and encouraged nonviolence and adherence to Dharma (duty or proper behavior), and they talk of his fame and conquered lands as well as the neighboring kingdoms holding up his might. One also gets some primary information about the Kalinga War and Ashoka's allies plus some useful knowledge on the civil administration. The Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath is the most popular of the relics left by Ashoka. Made of sandstone, this pillar records the visit of the emperor to Sarnath, in the 3rd century BC. It has a four-lion capital (four lions standing back to back) which was adopted as the emblem of the modern Indian republic. The lion symbolizes both Ashoka's imperial rule and the kingship of the Buddha. In translating these monuments, historians learn the bulk of what is assumed to have been true fact of the Mauryan Empire. It is difficult to determine whether or not some actual events ever happened, but the stone etchings clearly depict how Ashoka wanted to be thought of and remembered.
Ashoka's own words as known from his Edicts are: "All men are my children. I am like a father to them. As every father desires the good and the happiness of his children, I wish that all men should be happy always." Edward D'Cruz interprets the Ashokan dharma as a "religion to be used as a symbol of a new imperial unity and a cementing force to weld the diverse and heterogeneous elements of the empire".
Also, in the Edicts, Ashoka mentions Hellenistic kings of the period as converts to Buddhism, although no Hellenic historical record of this event remain:
The conquest by Dharma has been won here, on the borders, and even six hundred yojanas (5,400–9,600 km) away, where the Greek king Antiochos rules, beyond there where the four kings named Ptolemy, Antigonos, Magas and Alexander rule, likewise in the south among the Cholas, the Pandyas, and as far as Tamraparni (Sri Lanka).
Ashoka also claims that he encouraged the development of herbal medicine, for human and nonhuman animals, in their territories:
Everywhere within Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi's [Ashoka's] domain, and among the people beyond the borders, the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Satiyaputras, the Keralaputras, as far as Tamraparni and where the Greek king Antiochos rules, and among the kings who are neighbors of Antiochos, everywhere has Beloved-of-the-Gods, King Piyadasi, made provision for two types of medical treatment: medical treatment for humans and medical treatment for animals. Wherever medical herbs suitable for humans or animals are not available, I have had them imported and grown. Wherever medical roots or fruits are not available I have had them imported and grown. Along roads I have had wells dug and trees planted for the benefit of humans and animals.
The Greeks in India even seem to have played an active role in the propagation of Buddhism, as some of the emissaries of Ashoka, such as Dharmaraksita, are described in Pali sources as leading Greek (Yona) Buddhist monks, active in spreading Buddhism (the Mahavamsa, XII).
Death and legacy
Ashoka ruled for an estimated forty years. After his death, the Mauryan dynasty lasted just fifty more years. Ashoka had many wives and children, but many of their names are lost to time. Mahindra and Sanghamitra were twins born by his first wife, Devi, in the city of Ujjain. He had entrusted to them the job of making his state religion, Buddhism, more popular across the known and the unknown world. Mahindra and Sanghamitra went into Sri Lanka and converted the King, the Queen and their people to Buddhism. They were naturally not handling state affairs after him.
In his old age, he seems to have come under the spell of his youngest wife Tishyaraksha. It is said that she had got his son Kunala, the regent in Takshashila, blinded by a wily stratagem. The official executioners spared Kunala and he became a wandering singer accompanied by his favourite wife Kanchanmala. In Pataliputra, Ashoka hears Kunala's song, and realizes that Kunala's misfortune may have been a punishment for some past sin of the emperor himself and condemns Tishyaraksha to death, restoring Kunala to the court. Kunala was succeeded by his son, Samprati, but his rule did not last long after Ashoka's death.
The reign of Ashoka Maurya could easily have disappeared into history as the ages passed by, and would have had he not left behind a record of his trials. The testimony of this wise king was discovered in the form of magnificently sculpted pillars and boulders with a variety of actions and teachings he wished to be published etched into the stone. What Ashoka left behind was the first written language in India since the ancient city of Harappa. The language used for inscription was the then current spoken form called Prakrit.
In the year 185 BC, about fifty years after Ashoka's death, the last Maurya ruler, Brhadrata, was assassinated by the commander-in-chief of the Mauryan armed forces, Pusyamitra Sunga, while he was taking the Guard of Honor of his forces. Pusyamitra Sunga founded the Sunga dynasty (185 BC-78 BC) and ruled just a fragmented part of the Mauryan Empire. Many of the northwestern territories of the Mauryan Empire (modern-day Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan) became the Indo-Greek Kingdom.
When India gained independence from the British Empire it adopted Ashoka's emblem for its own, placing the Dharmachakra (The Wheel of Righteous Duty) that crowned his many columns on the flag of the newly independent state. In 1992, Ashoka was ranked #53 on Michael H. Hart's list of the most influential figures in history. In 2001, a semi-fictionalized portrayal of Ashoka's life was produced as a motion picture under the title Asoka. King Ashoka, the third monarch of the Indian Mauryan dynasty, has come to be regarded as one of the most exemplary rulers in world history. The British historian H.G. Wells has written: "Amidst the tens of thousands of names of monarchs that crowd the columns of history ... the name of Asoka shines, and shines almost alone, a star."
One of the more enduring legacies of Ashoka Maurya was the model that he provided for the relationship between Buddhism and the state. Throughout Theravada Southeastern Asia, the model of ruler ship embodied by Ashoka replaced the notion of divine kingship that had previously dominated (in the Angkor kingdom, for instance). Under this model of 'Buddhist kingship', the king sought to legitimize his rule not through descent from a divine source, but by supporting and earning the approval of the Buddhist sangha. Following Ashoka's example, kings established monasteries, funded the construction of stupas, and supported the ordination of monks in their kingdom. Many rulers also took an active role in resolving disputes over the status and regulation of the sangha, as Ashoka had in calling a conclave to settle a number of contentious issues during his reign. This development ultimately lead to a close association in many Southeast Asian countries between the monarchy and the religious hierarchy, an association that can still be seen today in the state-supported Buddhism of Thailand and the traditional role of the Thai king as both a religious and secular leader. Ashoka also said that all his courtiers were true to their self and governed the people in a moral manner.
Western sources – Ashoka was almost forgotten by the historians of the early British India but James Prinsep contributed in the revelation of historical sources. Other important historian was British archaeologist Sir John Hubert Marshall who was director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India. His main interests were Sanchi and Sarnath besides Harappa and Mohenjodaro. Sir Alexander Cunningham, a British archaeologist and army engineer and often known as the father of the Archaeological Survey of India, unveiled heritage sites like the Bharhut Stupa, Sarnath, Sanchi, and the Mahabodhi Temple; thus, his contribution is recognizable in realms of historical sources. Sir Mortimer Wheeler who was a British archaeologist also exposed Ashokan historical sources, especially the Taxila.
Eastern sources - Information about the life and reign of Ashoka primarily comes from a relatively small number of Buddhist sources. In particular, the Sanskrit Ashokavadana ('Story of Ashoka'), written in the 2nd century, and the two Pāli chronicles of Sri Lanka (the Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa) provide most of the currently known information about Ashoka. Additional information is contributed by the Edicts of Asoka, whose authorship was finally attributed to the Ashoka of Buddhist legend after the discovery of dynastic lists that gave the name used in the edicts (Priyadarsi – 'favored by the Gods') as a title or additional name of Ashoka Mauriya. Architectural remains of his period have been found at Kumhrar, Patna, which include an 80-pillar hypostyle hall.
Edicts of Ashoka -The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of 33 inscriptions on the Pillars of Ashoka, as well as boulders and cave walls, made by the Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty during his reign from 272 to 231 BC. These inscriptions are dispersed throughout the areas of modern-day Pakistan and India, and represent the first tangible evidence of Buddhism. The edicts describe in detail the first wide expansion of Buddhism through the sponsorship of one of the most powerful kings of Indian history.It give more information about Ashoka's proselytism, Moral precepts, Religious precepts, Social and animal welfare .
Mahavamsa -The Mahavamsa ("Great Chronicle") is a historical poem written in the Pali language, of the kings of Sri Lanka. It covers the period from the coming of King Vijaya of Kalinga (ancient Orissa) in 543 BC to the reign of King Mahasena (334–361).As it often refers to the royal dynasties of India, the Mahavamsa is also valuable for historians who wish to date and relate contemporary royal dynasties in the Indian subcontinent. It is very important in dating the consecration of the Maurya emperor Ashoka.
Dipavamsa -The Dipavamsa, or "Deepavamsa", (i.e., Chronicle of the Island, in Pali) is the oldest historical record of Sri Lanka. The chronicle is believe to be compiled from Atthakatha and other sources around the 3–4th century, King Dhatusena (4th century CE) had orderd that the Dipavamsa be recited at the Mahinda (son to Ashoka )festival held annually in Anuradhapura.
The use of Buddhist sources in reconstructing the life of Ashoka has had a strong influence on perceptions of Ashoka, as well as the interpretations of his edicts. Building on traditional accounts, early scholars regarded Ashoka as a primarily Buddhist monarch who underwent a conversion to Buddhism and was actively engaged in sponsoring and supporting the Buddhist monastic institution. Some scholars have tended to question this assessment. The only source of information not attributable to Buddhist sources are the Ashokan edicts, and these do not explicitly state that Ashoka was a Buddhist. In his edicts, Ashoka expresses support for all the major religions of his time: Buddhism, Brahmanism, Jainism, and Ajivikaism, and his edicts addressed to the population at large (there are some addressed specifically to Buddhists; this is not the case for the other religions) generally focus on moral themes members of all the religions would accept.
However, there is strong evidence in the edicts alone that he was a Buddhist. In one edict he belittles rituals, and he banned Vedic animal sacrifices; these strongly suggest that he at least did not look to the Vedic tradition for guidance. Furthermore, there are many edicts expressed to Buddhists alone; in one, Ashoka declares himself to be an "upasaka", and in another he demonstrates a close familiarity with Buddhist texts. He erected rock pillars at Buddhist holy sites, but did not so for the sites of other religions. He also used the word "dhamma" to refer to qualities of the heart that underlie moral action; this was an exclusively Buddhist use of the word. Finally, the ideals he promotes correspond to the first three steps of the Buddha's graduated discourse.
Important years in the life of Ashoka
Birth – 304 BC
Marriage with Maharani devi – 286 BC
Mahindra's birth – 284 BC
Sanghamitta's birth – 281 BC
Reign – 272/273 BC to his Nirvana / Death (232 BC)
Rajyabhisheka – 270 BC
Tending to Buddhism – 266 BC
Building Chaityas – 266/263 BC
Mahindra and Sanghamitta Become Buddhist – 264 BC
Kalinga Vijaya – 262/263 BC
Converted to buddhism – 263 BC
Dharmayatra – 263–250 BC
Third Buddhist council – 250–253 BC
Mahindra's Sri Lanka Yatra – 252 BC
Buddhist Proselytism – 250 to his Death / Nirvana
Edicts – 243/242 BC
Death / Nirvana of Sanghamitta – 240 BC
Rani Tishyaraksha becomes Pattarani – 236 BC
Prince Kunal becomes Upraja – 233 bc
Ashoka's Death / Nirvana – 232 BC
(Note – There are some historians according to whom Ashoka embraced Buddhism in 266 BC but became a true follower of Buddhism after the Conquest of Kalinga 262 BC or 263 BC)
Global Spread of Buddhism
Ashoka, now a Buddhist emperor, believed that Buddhism is beneficial for all human beings as well as animals and plants, so he built 84,000 stupas, Sangharama, viharas, Chaitya, and residences for Buddhist monks all over South Asia and Central Asia. He gave donations to viharas and mathas. He sent his only daughter Sanghamitta and son Mahindra to spread Buddhism in Sri Lanka (ancient name Tamraparni). Ashoka also sent many prominent Buddhist monks (bhikshus) Sthaviras like Madhyamik Sthavira to modern Kashmir and Afganistan; Maharaskshit sthavira to Syria, Persia / Iran, Egypt, Greece, Italy and Turkey; Massim Sthavira to Nepal, Bhutan, China and Mongolia; Sohn Uttar Sthavira to modern Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (old name Suvarnabhumi for Burma and Thailand), Thailand and Vietnam; Mahadhhamarakhhita stahvira to Maharashtra (old name Maharatthha); Maharakhhit Sthavira and Yavandhammarakhhita Sthavira to South India. Ashoka also invited Buddhists and non-Buddhists for religious conferences. Ashoka inspired the Buddhist monks to compose the sacred religious texts, and also gave all types of help to that end. Ashoka also helped to develop viharas (intellectual hubs) such as Nalanda and Taxila. Ashoka helped to construct Sanchi and Mahabodhi Temple. Ashoka never tried to harm or to destroy non-Buddhist religions, and indeed gave donations to non-Buddhists. As his reign continued his even-handedness was replaced with special inclination towards Buddhism. Ashoka helped and respected both Sramans (Buddhists monks) and Brahmins (Vedic monks). Ashoka also helped to organize the Third Buddhist council (c. 250 BC) at Pataliputra (today's Patna). It was conducted by the monk Moggaliputta-Tissa who was the spiritual teacher of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka.
As an Administrator
Ashoka's military power was so strong that he was able to crush those empires that went to war against him still, he was on friendly terms with kingdoms in the South like Cholas, Pandya, Keralputra, the post Alexandrian empire, Tamraparni, and Suvarnabhumi who were strong enough to remain outside his empire and continued to profess Hinduism. According to his edicts we know that he provided humanitarian help including doctors, hospitals, inns, wells, medical herbs and engineers to his neighboring countries. In his neighboring countries Ashoka helped humans as well as animals. Ashoka also planted trees in his empire and his neighboring countries. Ashoka was perhaps the first emperor in human history to ban slavery, hunting, fishing and deforestation. Ashoka also banned the death sentence and asked the same for the neighboring countries. Ashoka commanded his people to serve the orders of their elders parents) and religious monks (shramana and Brahmin). Ashoka also recommended his people study all religions and respect all religions. According to Ashoka, to harm another's religion is a harm to someone's owns religion. Ashoka asserted his people to live with Dharmmacharana. Ashoka asked people to live with harmony, peace, love and tolerance. Ashoka called his people as his children, and they could call him when they need him. He also asked people to save money and not to spend for immoral causes. Ashoka also believed in dharmacharana (dhammacharana) and dharmavijaya (dhammavijaya). According to many European and Asian historians the age of Ashoka was the age of light and delightment. He was the first emperor in human history who has taught the lesson of unity, peace, equality and love. Ashoka's aim was not to expand the territories but the welfare of all of his subjects (sarvajansukhay). In his vast empire there was no evidence of recognizable mutiny or civil war. Ashoka was the true devotee of nonviolence, peace and love. This made him different from other emperors. Ashoka also helped Buddhism as well as religions like Jainism, Hinduism, Hellenic polytheism and Ajivikas. Ashoka was against any discrimination among humans. He helped students, the poor, orphans and the elderly with social, political and economic help. According to Ashoka, hatred gives birth to hatred and a feeling of love gives birth to love and mercy. According to him the happiness of people is the happiness of the ruler. His opinion was that the sword is not as powerful as love. Ashoka was also Kind to prisoners, and respected animal life and tree life. Ashoka allowed females to be educated. He also permitted females to enter religious institutions. He allowed female Buddhist monastic such as Bhikkhuni. He combined in himself the complexity a king and a simplicity of a buddhist monk. Because of these reasons he is known as the emperor of all ages and thus became a milestone in the History of the world.
The Ashoka Chakra (the wheel of Ashoka) is a depiction of the Dharmachakra or Dhammachakka in Pali, the Wheel of Dharma (Sanskrit: Chakra means wheel). The wheel has 24 spokes. The Ashoka Chakra has been widely inscribed on many relics of the Mauryan Emperor, most prominent among which is the Lion Capital of Sarnath and The Ashoka Pillar. The most visible use of the Ashoka Chakra today is at the centre of the National flag of the Republic of India (adopted on 22 July 1947), where it is rendered in a Navy-blue color on a White background, by replacing the symbol of Charkha (Spinning wheel) of the pre-independence versions of the flag. Ashoka Chakra can also been seen on the base of Lion Capital of Ashoka which has been adopted as the National Emblem of India.
The Ashoka chakra was built by Ashoka during his reign. Chakra is a Sanskrit word which also means cycle or self repeating process. The process it signifies is the cycle of time as how the world changes with time. The horse means accuracy and speed while the bull means hardwork.
A few days before India became independent on August 1947, the specially constituted Constituent Assembly decided that the flag of India must be acceptable to all parties and communities. A flag with three colours, Saffron, White and Green with the Ashoka Chakra was selected. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who later became India's first Vice President, clarified the adopted flag and described its significance as follows:
Bhagwa or the saffron color denotes renunciation or disinterestedness. Our leaders must be indifferent to material gains and dedicate themselves to their work. The white in the center is light, the path of truth to guide our conduct. The green shows our relation to (the) soil, our relation to the plant life here, on which all other life depends. The "Ashoka Chakra" in the center of the white is the wheel of the law of dharma. Truth or satya, dharma or virtue ought to be the controlling principle of those who work under this flag. Again, the wheel denotes motion. There is death in stagnation. There is life in movement. India should no more resist change, it must move and go forward. The wheel represents the dynamism of a peaceful change. It also represents 24 hours in a day.
A widely held unofficial interpretation is that the saffron stands for purity and spirituality, white for peace and truth, green for fertility and prosperity and the wheel for justice/righteousness.
Pillars of Ashoka (Ashokstambha)
The pillars of Ashoka are a series of columns dispersed throughout the northern Indian subcontinent, and erected by Ashoka during his reign in the 3rd century BC. Originally, there must have been many pillars of Ashoka although only ten with inscriptions still survive. Averaging between forty and fifty feet in height, and weighing up to fifty tons each, all the pillars were quarried at Chunar, just south of Varanasi and dragged, sometimes hundreds of miles, to where they were erected. The first Pillar of Ashoka was found in the 16th century by Thomas Coryat in the ruins of ancient Delhi. The wheel represents the sun time and Buddhist law, while the swastika stands for the cosmic dance around a fixed center and guards against evil. There is no evidence of a swastika, or manji, on the pillars.
Lion Capital of Asoka (Ashokmudra)
The Lion capital of Ashoka is a sculpture of four "Indian lions" standing back to back. It was originally placed atop the Aśoka pillar at Sarnath, now in the state of Uttar Pradesh, India. The pillar, sometimes called the Aśoka Column is still in its original location, but the Lion Capital is now in the Sarnath Museum. This Lion Capital of Ashoka from Sarnath has been adopted as the National Emblem of India and the wheel "Ashoka Chakra" from its base was placed onto the center of the National Flag of India.
The capital contains four lions (Indian / Asiatic Lions), standing back to back, mounted on an abacus, with a frieze carrying sculptures in high relief of an elephant, a galloping horse, a bull, and a lion, separated by intervening spoked chariot-wheels over a bell-shaped lotus. Carved out of a single block of polished sandstone, the capital was believed to be crowned by a 'Wheel of Dharma' (Dharmachakra popularly known in India as the "Ashoka Chakra").
The Ashoka Lion capital or the Sarnath lion capital is also known as the national symbol of India. The Sarnath pillar bears one of the Edicts of Ashoka, an inscription against division within the Buddhist community, which reads, "No one shall cause division in the order of monks". The Sarnath pillar is a column surmounted by a capital, which consists of a canopy representing an inverted bell-shaped lotus flower, a short cylindrical abacus with four 24-spoked Dharma wheels with four animals (an elephant, a bull, a horse, a lion).
The four animals in the Sarnath capital are believed to symbolize different steps of Lord Buddha's life.
Besides the religious interpretations, there are some non-religious interpretations also about the symbolism of the Ashoka capital pillar at Sarnath. According to them, the four lions symbolize Ashoka's rule over the four directions, the wheels as symbols of his enlightened rule (Chakravartin) and the four animals as symbols of four adjoining territories of India.
Constructions credited to Ashoka
Attributed to Ashoka
Truly, it is easy to do evil.
The Gupta Empire (Sanskrit: गुप्त राजवंश, Gupta Rājavaṃśa) was an Ancient Indian empire which existed approximately from 320 to 550 CE and covered much of the Indian Subcontinent. Founded by Maharaja Sri-Gupta, the dynasty was the model of a classical civilization. The peace and prosperity created under leadership of Guptas enabled the pursuit of scientific and artistic endeavors. This period is called the Golden Age of India and was marked by extensive inventions and discoveries in science, technology, engineering, art, dialectic, literature, logic, mathematics, astronomy, religion and philosophy that crystallized the elements of what is generally known as Hindu culture. Chandragupta I, Samudragupta, and Chandragupta II were the most notable rulers of the Gupta dynasty.
The high points of this cultural creativity are magnificent architectures, sculptures and paintings. The Gupta period produced scholars such as Kalidasa, Aryabhata, Varahamihira, Vishnu Sharma, Vatsyayana and Prashastapada who made great advancements in many academic fields. Science and political administration reached new heights during the Gupta era. Strong trade ties also made the region an important cultural center and set the region up as a base that would influence nearby kingdoms and regions in Burma, Sri Lanka, Malay Archipelago and Indochina.
Origin of the Guptas
Recent excavations in Nepal and Deccan has revealed that Gupta suffix was common among Abhira kings, and Historian D. R. Regmi, links Imperial Guptas with Abhira-Guptas of Nepal.
Fa Xian was the first of the Chinese pilgrims who visited India during the reign of Chandra Gupta II. He started his journey from China in 399 CE and reached India in 405 CE. During his stay in India up to 411 CE, he went on a pilgrimage to Mathura, Kanauj, Kapilavastu, Kushinagar, Vaishali, Pataliputra, Kashi and Rajgriha and made careful observations about the empire's conditions. Fa Xian was pleased with the mildness of administration. The Penal Code was mild and offences were punished by fines only. From his accounts, the Gupta Empire was a prosperous period.
The Chinese traveler Yijing (see also Xuanzang) provides more knowledge of the Gupta kingdom in Magadha. He came to north India in 672 CE and heard of Maharaja Sri-Gupta, who built a temple for Chinese pilgrims near Mi-li-kia-si-kia-po-no (Mrigasikhavana). According to Yijing, this temple was "about 40 yojanas to the east of Nalanda, following the course of the Ganga".
Srigupta and Ghatotkacha
The most likely time for the reign of Sri Gupta is c. 240-280 CE. A number of modern historians, which include Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay and K.P.Jayaswal think he and his son were possibly feudatories of the Kushans. His son and successor Ghatotkacha ruled probably from c. 280-319 CE. In contrast to their successor, Chandragupta I, who is mentioned as Maharajadhiraja, he and his son Ghatotkacha are referred to in inscriptions as Maharaja. At the beginning of the 5th century the Guptas established and ruled a few small Hindu kingdoms in Magadha and around modern-day Bihar.
Chandra Gupta I
Main article: Chandragupta I
Ghatotkacha (c. 280–319 CE), had a son named Chandra Gupta. (Not to be confused with Chandragupta Maurya (340-293 BCE), founder of the Mauryan Empire.) In a breakthrough deal, Chandra Gupta was married to Kumaradevi, a Lichchhavi princess—the main power in Magadha. With a dowry of the kingdom of Magadha (capital Pataliputra) and an alliance with the Lichchhavis, Chandra Gupta set about expanding his power, conquering much of Magadha, Prayaga and Saketa. He established a realm stretching from the Ganga River (Ganges River) to Prayaga (modern-day Allahabad) by 321 CE. He assumed the imperial title of Maharajadhiraja.
Main article: Samudragupta
Samudragupta, Parakramanka succeeded his father in 335 CE, and ruled for about 45 years, till his death in 380 CE. He took the kingdoms of Ahichchhatra and Padmavati early in his reign. He then attacked the Malwas, the Yaudheyas, the Arjunayanas, the Maduras and the Abhiras, all of which were tribes in the area. By his death in 380, he had incorporated over twenty kingdoms into his realm and his rule extended from the Himalayas to the river Narmada and from the Brahmaputra to the Yamuna. He gave himself the titles King of Kings and World Monarch. Historian Vincent Smith described him as the "Indian Napoleon". He performed Ashwamedha yajna (horse sacrifice) to underline the importance of his conquest. The stone replica of the sacrificial horse, then prepared, is in the Lucknow Museum. The Samudragupta Prashasti inscribed on the Ashokan Pillar, now in Akbar’s Fort at Allahabad, is an authentic record of his exploits and his sway over most of the continent.
Samudragupta was not only a talented military leader but also a great patron of art and literature. The important scholars present in his court were Harishena, Vasubandhu and Asanga. He was a poet and musician himself. He was a firm believer in Hinduism and is known to have worshipped Lord Vishnu. He was considerate of other religions and allowed Sri Lanka's Buddhist king Sirimeghvanna to build a monastery at Bodh Gaya. That monastery was called by Xuanzang as the Mahabodhi Sangharama. He provided a gold railing around the Bodhi Tree.
Succession of Samudragupta
According to A.S. Altekar, a king named Ramagupta intervened between Samudragupta and Chandragupta II. His theory is based on a tradition that, Samudragupta's eldest son Ramagupta, who succeeded him, was a weak ruler. After suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Sakas, he agreed to surrender his wife Dhruvadevi or Dhurvasvamini to the Saka Chief (who, Altekar believes is Rudrasena II). But, Rama Gupta’s younger brother Chandra Gupta II, protested against this dishonour and went to the Saka camp disguised as the queen and assassinated the Saka Chief. After this he killed his brother Rama Gupta, married Dhruvadevi and ascended to the throne. But this theory is not supported by any contemporary epigraphic evidence. The earliest version of this narrative is found in the Harshacharita of Bana. The later versions are found in a number of texts, which include the extracts of the Devichandragupta, a historical drama of Vishakhadatta found in the Natyadarpana of Ramachandra and Gunachandra and also in the Shringaraprakasha of Bhoja I. The version of this narrative given by Bana in his Harshacharita differs significantly from all the later versions, even the narrative known to the author of the Kavyamimamsa (c.900). The Harshacharita only mentions that Chandragupta II, disguised as a female, destroyed a Saka king, who coveted the wife of another, in the very city of the enemy. It does not mention anything about Ramagupta.
Although, the narrative of the Devichandragupta is not supported by any contemporary epigraphical evidence, the historicity of Ramagupta is proved by his Durjanpur inscriptions on three Jaina images, where he is mentioned as the Maharajadhiraja. A large number of his copper coins also have been found from the Eran-Vidisha region and classified in five distinct types, which include the Garuda, Garudadhvaja, lion and border legend types. The Brahmi legends on these coins are written in the early Gupta style.
According to the Gupta records, amongst his many sons,Samudragupta nominated prince Chandra Gupta II, born of queen Dattadevi, as his successor.
Chandra Gupta II, Vikramaditya (the Sun of Power), ruled from 380 until 413. Chandra Gupta II also married to a Kadamba princess of Kuntala region and a princess of Naga lineage (Nāgakulotpannnā), Kuberanaga. His daughter Prabhavatigupta from this Naga queen was married to Rudrasena II, the Vakataka ruler of Deccan. His son Kumaragupta I was married to Kadamba princess of karnatka region . Emperor Chandra Gupta II expanded his realm westwards, defeating the Saka Western Kshatrapas of Malwa, Gujarat and Saurashtra in a campaign lasting until 409, but with his main opponent Rudrasimha III defeated by 395, and crushing the Bengal (Vanga) chiefdoms. This extended his control from coast-to-coast, estabilshed a second capital at Ujjain and was the high point of the empire.
Despite the creation of the empire through war, the reign is remembered for its very influential style of Hindu art, literature, culture and science, especially during the reign of Chandra Gupta II. Some excellent works of Hindu art such as the panels at the Dashavatara Temple in Deogarh serve to illustrate the magnificence of Gupta art. Above all it was the synthesis of elements that gave Gupta art its distinctive flavour. During this period, the Guptas were supportive of thriving Buddhist and Jain cultures as well, and for this reason there is also a long history of non-Hindu Gupta period art. In particular, Gupta period Buddhist art was to be influential in most of East and Southeast Asia. Much of advances was recorded by the Chinese scholar and traveller Faxian (Fa-hien) in his diary and published afterwards.
The court of Chandragupta was made even more illustrious by the fact that it was graced by the Navaratna (Nine Jewels), a group of nine who excelled in the literary arts. Amongst these men was the immortal Kalidasa whose works dwarfed the works of many other literary geniuses, not only in his own age but in the ages to come. Kalidasa was particularly known for his fine exploitation of the shringara (erotic) element in his verse.
Chandra Gupta II's campaigns against Foreign Tribes
The Brihatkathamanjari of the Kashmiri writer Kshmendra states, king Vikramaditya (Chandra Gupta II) had "unburdened the sacred earth of the Barbarians like the Sakas, Mlecchas, Kambojas, Yavanas, Tusharas, Parasikas, Hunas, etc. by annihilating these sinful Mlecchas completely" .
Chandragupta II was succeeded by his second son Kumaragupta I, born of Mahadevi Dhruvasvamini. Kumaragupta I assumed the title, Mahendraditya. He ruled until 455. Towards the end of his reign a tribe in the Narmada valley, the Pushyamitras, rose in power to threaten the empire.
Skandagupta, son and successor of Kumaragupta I is generally considered to be the last of the great rulers. He assumed the titles of Vikramaditya and Kramaditya. He defeated the Pushyamitra threat, but then was faced with invading Hephthalites or "White Huns", known in India as the Huna, from the northwest. He repulsed a Huna attack c. 455, But the expense of the wars drained the empire's resources and contributed to its decline. Skandagupta died in 467 and was succeeded by his agnate brother Purugupta.
Huna invasions and the end of empire
Skandagupta was followed by weak rulers Purugupta (467-473), Kumaragupta II (473-476), Budhagupta (476-495?), Narasimhagupta, Kumaragupta III, Vishnugupta, Vainyagupta and Bhanugupta. In the 480's the Hephthalite King Oprah broke through the Gupta defenses in the northwest, and much of the empire was overrun by the Huna by 500. The empire disintegrated under the attacks of Toramana and his successor Mihirakula. The Hunas conquered several provinces of the empire, including Malwa, Gujarat and Thanesar and broke away under the rule of local dynasties. It appears from inscriptions that the Guptas, although their power was much diminished, continued to resist the Hunas. Narasimhagupta formed an alliance with the independent kingdoms to drive the Huna from most of northern India by the 530's. The succession of the sixth-century Guptas is not entirely clear, but the tail end recognized ruler of the dynasty's main line was king Vishnugupta, reigning from 540 to 550.
The Imperial Guptas could have achieved their successes through force of arms with an efficient martial system. Historically, the best accounts of this comes not from the Hindus themselves but from Chinese and Western observers. However, a contemporary Indian document, regarded as a military classic of the time, the Siva-Dhanur-veda, offers some insight into the military system of the Guptas. The Guptas seem to have relied heavily on infantry archers, and the bow was one of the dominant weapons of their army. The Hindu version of the longbow was composed of metal, or more typically bamboo, and fired a long bamboo cane arrow with a metal head. Unlike the composite bows of Western and Central Asian foes, bows of this design would be less prone to warping in the damp and moist conditions often prevalent to the region. The Indian longbow was reputedly a powerful weapon capable of great range and penetration and provided an effective counter to invading horse archers. Iron shafts were used against armored elephants and hippos, and fire arrows were also part of the bowmen's arsenal. India historically has had a prominent reputation for its steel weapons. One of these was the steel bow. Due to its high tensility, the steel bow was capable of long range and penetration of exceptionally thick armor. These were less common weapons than the bamboo design and found in the hands of noblemen rather than in the ranks. Archers were frequently protected by infantry equipped with shields, javelins, and longswords.
The Guptas also had knowledge of siegecraft, catapults, and other sophisticated war machines.
The Guptas apparently showed little predilection for using horse archers, despite the fact these warriors were a main component in the ranks of their Scythian, Parthian, and Hepthalite (Huna) enemies. However, the Gupta armies were probably better disciplined. Able commanders like Samudragupta and Chandragupta II would have likely understood the need for combined armed tactics and proper logistical organization. Gupta military success likely stemmed from the concerted use of elephants, armored cavalry, and foot archers in tandem against both Hindu kingdoms and foreign armies invading from the Northwest. The Guptas also maintained a navy, allowing them to control regional waters.
The collapse of the Gupta Empire in the face of the Huna onslaught was due not directly to the inherent defects of the Gupta army, which after all had initially defeated these people under Skandagupta. More likely, internal dissolution sapped the ability of the Guptas to resist foreign invasion, as was simultaneously occurring in Western Europe and China.
A study of the epigraphical records of the Gupta empire shows that there was a hierarchy of administrative divisions from top to bottom. The empire was called by various names such as Rajya, Rashtra, Desha, Mandala, Prithvi and Avani. It was divided in to 26 provinces, which were styled as Bhukti, Pradesha and Bhoga. Provinces were also divided into Vishayas and put under the control of the Vishayapatis. A Vishayapati administered the Vishaya with the help of the Adhikarana (council of representatives), which comprised four representatives: Nagarasreshesthi, Sarthavaha, Prathamakulika and Prathama Kayastha. A part of the Vishaya was called Vithi.
Legacy of the Gupta Empire
Scholars of this period include Aryabhata, who is believed to be the first to come up with the concept of zero, postulated the theory that the Earth moves round the Sun, and studied solar and lunar eclipses. Kalidasa, who was a great playwright, who wrote plays such as Shakuntala, which is said to have inspired Goethe, and marked the highest point of Sanskrit literature is also said to have belonged to this period.
The flow of invasions from the Huns from central Asia aided in accelerating the demise of the glorious Gupta dynasty rule in India, although the effects of its fall was far less devastating than that of the Han or Roman at the same time. According to historian's work,
The Gupta Empire is considered by many scholars to be the "classical age" of Hindu and Buddhist art and literature. The Rulers of the Gupta Empire were strong supporters of developments in the arts, architecture, science, and literature. The Gupta Empire circulated a large number of gold coins, called dinars, and supported the Universities of Nalanda and Vikramasila.
Chess is said to have originated in this period, where its early form in the 6th century was known as caturaṅga, which translates as "four divisions [of the military]" – infantry, cavalry, elephants, and chariotry - represented by the pieces that would evolve into the modern pawn, knight, bishop, and rook, respectively. Doctors also invented several medical instruments, and even performed operations. The Indian numerals which were the first positional base 10 numeral systems in the world originated from Gupta India. The ancient Gupta text Kama Sutra is widely considered to be the standard work on human sexual behavior in Sanskrit literature written by the Indian scholar Vatsyayana. Aryabhata, a noted mathematician-astronomer of the Gupta period proposed that the earth is not flat, but is instead round and rotates about its own axis. He also discovered that the Moon and planets shine by reflected sunlight. Instead of the prevailing cosmogony in which eclipses were caused by pseudo-planetary nodes Rahu and Ketu, he explained eclipses in terms of shadows cast by and falling on Earth. These and the other scientific discoveries made by Indians during this period about gravity and the planets of the solar system spread throughout the world through trade.
Gupta dynasty rulers
The main branch of the Gupta dynasty ruled the Gupta Empire in India, from around 320 to 550. This dynasty was founded by Srigupta. The rulers are:
Samudragupta the Great, ruler of the Gupta Empire (c.AD 335 – 375), and successor to Chandragupta I, is considered to be one of the greatest military geniuses in Indian history according to Historian V.A Smith. His name is taken to be a title acquired by his conquests (Samudra referring to the 'oceans'). Samudragupta the Great is believed to have been his father's chosen successor even though he had several older brothers. Therefore, some believe that after the death of Chandragupta I, there was a struggle for succession in which Samudragupta prevailed.
The main source of Samudragupta the Great's history is an inscription engraved on one of the rocks set up by Ashoka in Kausambi ( present day Allahabad). In this inscription Samudragupta details his conquests. This inscription is also important because of the political geography of India that it indicates by naming the different kings and peoples who populated India in the first half of the fourth century AD. The inscription to Samundraupta's martial exploits states that its author is Harishena, who was an important poet of Samudragupta's court.
The beginning of Samudragupta the Great's reign was marked by the defeat of his immediate neighbours, Achyuta, ruler of Ahichchhatra, and Nagasena. Following this Samudragupta the Great began a campaign against the kingdoms to the south. This southern campaign took him south along the Bay of Bengal. He passed through the forest tracts of Madhya Pradesh, crossed the Orissa coast, marched through Ganjam, Vishakapatnam, Godavari, Krishna and Nellore districts and may have reached as far as Kancheepuram. Here however he did not attempt to maintain direct control. After capturing his enemies he reinstated them as tributary kings. This act prevented the Gupta Empire from attaining the almost immediate demise of the Maurya Empire of Ashoka and is a testament to his abilities as a statesman. The details of Samudragupta the Great's campaigns are too numerous to recount here. These can be found in the first reference below. However it is clear that he possessed a powerful navy in addition to his army. In addition to tributary kingdoms, many other rulers of foreign states like the Saka and Kushan kings accepted the suzerainty of Samudragupta and offered him their services.
Much is known about Samudragupta the Great through coins issued by him. These were of eight different types and all made of pure gold. His conquests brought him the gold and also the coin-making expertise from his acquaintance with the Kushana. Samudragupta is also known to have been a man of culture. He was a patron of learning, a celebrated poet and a musician. Several coins depict him playing on the Indian lyre or Veena. He gathered a galaxy of poets and scholars and took effective actions to foster and propagate religious, artistic and literary aspects of Indian culture. Though he favoured the Hindu religion like the other Gupta kings, he was reputed to possess a tolerant spirit vis-a-vis other religions. A clear illustration of this is the permission granted by him to the king of Ceylon to build a monastery for Buddhist pilgrims in Bodh Gaya.