Ancient India

Regional States of India

Regional States of Ancient India

He was the first Rashtrakuta ruler to intervene in the tripartite struggle being wagged for the supremacy of north India. He defeated both the Pratihara ruler Vatsaraja after occupying Malwa and Dharmpala the Pala ruler.Dhruva was succeeded by Govinda III and he continued to rule till 814 AD. He was succeeded by his son Amoghavarsha.He took up the title of Nripatunga.He ruled for 64 years with a few revolts here and there. He authored a book on ethics, titled Kavirajmarga.He was a great builder and is said to have made the famous city Manyakheta. The Rashtrakuta rulers made extensive conquests. They not only brought the entire south under their control but also penetrated deep into the territories of the north.

The Pallavas

The origin of the Pallavas has been much debated but unfortunately no unanimity of opinion has been arrived at. A critical study of the ancient Tamil literature shows that the Pallavas were originally connected with Ceylon. The term Pallava means creeper and is a Sanskrit version of the Tamil word Tondai which also carries the same meaning. The Pallavas were possibly a local tribe who established their authority in the Tondainadu. The Satvahanas conquered Tondamandalam and Pallavas became a feudatory to the Satvahanas. After the collapse of Satvahana Empire in about 122 AD the Pallavas became independent. The Pallavas rose to prominence about AD 325 on the east coast in the country between the mouth of the Krishna and Godavari Rivers. About 350 AD the Pallavas established themselves on the east coast and occupied the famous city of Kanchi. There was lot of literary activity during the period. Sanskrit was the official languages of the Pallavas.

Most of the inscriptions of the Pallavas were written in Sanskrit and Kanchi was the seat of Sanskrit learning in the south.Dandi was the court poet of Narshimha Varman II.During the Pallava rule the Jain and Buddhist teachers lost their importance.Shaivism and Vaishnavism gained importance. Most of the Pallava kings were devotees of Shiva, the exception being Simhavishnu and Nandivarman who were worshippers of Vishnu. The art and architecture of the Pallava dynasty constitutes a most brilliant chapter in the history of the South Indian Art. The rock-cut temples were unique specimen of the time. The Kailashnath temple bears eloquent testimony of the unprecedented progress of art and architecture. Paintings also developed considerably during the Pallava period.

The Palas

The Palas controlled most of Bengal and Bihar. Little is known of the early Palas until the reign of Gopala in the 8th century.Gopala attained renown from the fact that he was not the hereditary king but was elected.Gopala established the Pala dynasty but it was his son Dharmpala who made it a force in north Indian politics. He ruled for 40 years and assumed imperial titles like Paramesvara-Paramabhataraka-Maharadhiraja and the Buddhist title Parama Saugata.He led a successful campaign against Kanauj. He was also a patron of learning and culture. As a Buddhist he founded the famous monastery of Vikramsila on the River Ganges near Bhagalpur.He was succeeded by his second son Devapala who is regarded as the most powerful Pala ruler. He not only maintained the territories inherited by him from his father but also added to them. Epigraphic records credit him with extensive conquests.

The Badal Pillar inscription states that he humbled the pride of Gurjara king the Rashtrakutas of the Deccan, the Huns and also the region of Utkala.Devpala was a great patron of Buddhism. He was succeeded by the weak rulers. It was under Mahapala that the Pala power was once again revived. Mahipala had domination which included Gaya,Patna and Muzzaffarpur.After his death the Pala power declined under his successors on account of internal dissentions and external invasions. The feudatory chiefs began to assert their independence. The authority of Palas was confined to only a portion of Bihar. The Palas were great patrons of art and literature. The Palas had close trade contacts and cultural links with South-East Asia which added greatly to the prosperity of the Pala Empire.

The Pratiharas

The Pratiharas were a section of the large tribe called Gurjara who immigrated into India. Probably they are also called Gurjara-Prathiharas.The earliest well-known king of this dynasty was Nagabhatta I who was responsible for saving western India from the Arabs. He was succeeded by his son Vatsaraja in about 778AD .He included Jodhpur in his kingdom. His empire comprised Malwa and eastern Rajputana.Inscriptions tell us that he ruled over Central Rajputana also and gradually extended his domination over north. He suffered defeat at the hands of Rashtrakuta king Dhruva.He was succeeded by his son Nagabhatta II .

He was defeated by Govinda III of Rashtrakuta. The Pratihara glory reached its zenith under Mihir Bhoja or Bhoja.He consolidated his power. But he was defeated by the Pala ruler Devapala. He then turned towards Central India and the Deccan and Gujarat. The Pratihara Empire was the last empire in North India before the Muslim conquest. It brought political unity in Northern India. They were later represented by local kings in different areas.

The Rashtrakutas

The origin of the Rashtrakutas is not clear. The scholars hold divergent opinion and advance various theories in support of their claims. According to one scholar Rashtrakutas belonged to the dynasty of the Rathors while the other says that they were the ancestors of the Marathas. Dantidurga was the founder of the Rashtrakutas kingdom. He annexed Gujarat and many districts of the Central and Northern Madhya Pradesh. He was succeeded by his uncle Krishna. He completed the overthrow of the Chalukya power and expanded the limit of the empire by conquest. He constructed the Siva temple of Ellora.He was succeeded by his eldest son Govinda II.He took up the title of Prabhutavarsha Vikramavaloka.He was dethroned by his younger brother Druva.

He was the first Rashtrakuta ruler to intervene in the tripartite struggle being wagged for the supremacy of north India. He defeated both the Pratihara ruler Vatsaraja after occupying Malwa and Dharmpala the Pala ruler.Dhruva was succeeded by Govinda III and he continued to rule till 814 AD. He was succeeded by his son Amoghavarsha.He took up the title of Nripatunga.He ruled for 64 years with a few revolts here and there. He authored a book on ethics, titled Kavirajmarga.He was a great builder and is said to have made the famous city Manyakheta. The Rashtrakuta rulers made extensive conquests. They not only brought the entire south under their control but also penetrated deep into the territories of the north.

The Tripartite Struggle

After the disappearance of the centralized politics in northern India, a large number of states came into existence and there was a struggle for supremacy among them. The object for political ambition during the period between 8-12 century was to conquer and hold the city of Kannuaj which had become symbol of imperial power.Kannuaj became a bone of contention between three powers the Rashtakutas, the Pratiharas and the Palas and much of the military activity of these powers was directed towards its conquest. For some time the Pratiharas of Kanary became more powerful. Later on their place was taken by the Pala kings. The Rashtrakutas held sway towards the west and south of the Deccan.While these powers were busy fighting each other, their feudatories established small regional kingdoms all over the northern India.

The Hoysalas

The Hoyalas of Mysore were descended from a general of the Chalukya king, Vikramaditya.The founder of the dynasty were Biltga better known as Vishnu Vardhana. He reigned for more than 30 years in subordination to the Chalukya king and died in 1141 AD. To begin with he was a Jain but was converted to Vaishnavism by saint Ramanuja. He patronized architecture and sculpture. He extended his domination against Cheras, Cholas and Pandhyas.He finally drove out the Cholas from the Mysore Plateau. His grandson Vira Ballala extended the dominion to Devagiri. He formally declared his independence of Chalukyas in about 1190 AD. He made Hoysalas the supreme power in the Deccan towards the close of the 12th century.

The power of the dynasty was overthrown by Alauddin’s general Malik Kafur who sacked the Hoysala capital Dwarasamudra in 1310 AD. The Hoysalas developed a new style of architecture different from that of the Chalukyas. The temples were polygonal star-shaped in plan having rich carved plinths. The towers of the temples were pyramidal in shape and were often attached together. The Hoysala buildings were generally ornamented with an enormous mass of sculpture and statues of very good quality.

The Cheras

The Cheras of Kerala was also an ancient state of the southern India. It comprised the territories of modern Travancore state,Cochin and some portions of Malabar.Perunar,Adon II and Senaguttavam were great rulers of the line. In the beginning of the Christian era there rules were significant. They successfully fought against the Cholas and the Pandyas.They came into prominence in 10th century. In fact they remained under the supremacy of the Cholas.

They also had to submit to the Pandyas.However the last powerful Chera ruler was Ravivardhan Kulasekra who ascended the throne in about 1297 AD and tried to salvage the waning glory of the dynasty.

The Paramaras

The Paramaras began their political domination as the feudatory chiefs of the Rashtrakutas.But they revolted against their overlords at the end of the 10th century. The Paramaras established under their control in Malwa with their capital at Dhar near Indore. The founder was Upendra- Krishnaraja who ruled near Mt Abu extended his territory by conquests. He founded this dynasty in about 820 AD .Munja the 7th king was the first great Paramara king.He was a great patron of learning.King Bhoja was the most important Paramara ruler.He ruled for 55 years from 1010-1065 AD.

An Udaipur inscription mentions his conquests extending from the Himalaya to Malabar including the Chedi, Gurjara,Lata,Karnatas.During his reign the Paramaras reached their zenith.

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