Part 30 THE RASHTRAKUTA DYNASTY

Section I

THE DECCAN RASHTRAKUTAS 

Canberra, 11 June 2014

The Rashtrakuta dynasty played an important role in the medieval history of India, from mid-6th century till their decline into irrelevance around the middle of the 13th century. The information available about this dynasty is in terms of inscriptions, copper plates and grants and coins that have been found across the entire region of their erstwhile kingdom. There is also some limited information available from chronicle written both in Sanskrit and Arabic. However, in a number of instances the chronology is difficult to reconcile which leads to a less than optimum narrative. By all accounts the Rashtrakutas were a powerful dynasty, considered as having been generous and fair rulers, patrons of art, and with many of the kings themselves being scholars of merit. The Gahadavala dynasty that ruled Kanauj is considered by most historians to be an off-shoot and one of the more famous branch of the Rashtrakutas, although there are dissenting views regarding this claim.

The Confused Origins

The origin of the dynasty is still not clearly agreed upon and therefore there is considerable confusion in the early history of the Rashtrakutas. The earliest reference to the Rashtrakutas is found in four of Asoka Maurya’s edicts—two in the North-West Frontier Province in Mansera and Shahbazgarh; and one each in Girnar in Saurashtra and Dhavali in Kalinga—where the term Rashtrika and Rathika have been used to refer to a tribe at that time resident in the North-Western regions. It has been opined that Rashtrika refers to the same tribe as the Arattas of Punjab. The Arattas are mentioned in the Mahabharata and also in the account of Alexander’s invasion of Gandhara. In the Asokan edict they are mentioned immediately after the Kambojas and Gandharas, giving credence to the belief that they were resident in the Punjab. The prominent historian C.V. Vaidya is of the opinion that the Rashtrakutas were initially settlers of Punjab who migrated south and carved out a kingdom in the Deccan, gradually becoming the Kshatriyas of Maharashtra.

Another opinion is that Rashtrakuta was a title given to governors of provinces by the Chalukya kings and meant ‘head of the region’. Since it was such governor who established an independent kingdom, the dynasty itself came to be called the Rashtrakutas. On becoming more powerful, they also assumed the title of Prithvi Vallabha with the ‘Vallabha’ getting transliterated into ‘Balharas’ in the Arab chronicles of the time. Irrespective of the vagueness regarding the origins of the dynasty, their rise was rapid and relatively painless by the standards of the day.

The archives of ancient Arab geographers indicate that the kingdom of Kanauj shared a common border with Sind and that Gujarat was under the control of the king of Kanauj during the 6th and 7th centuries. There is an intimate connection between the Rashtrakuta and the Chalukya (also referred to as Solankis) dynasties. It was at the demise of the first Chalukya reign that the Rashtrakutas came to power and the fall of the Rashtrakutas was orchestrated by a later Chalukya king. A copper plate dated to 1051 issued by the Chalukya Trilochanapala declares that in an earlier time, the prime ancestor of the Chalukya dynasty was married to the daughter of the Rashtrakuta king of Kanauj.

A copper grant of the Chalukya king Raajaraja of Deccan, considered to have been issued in the 32nd regnal year, found at Yevur and dated to 1053 provides a somewhat understandable genealogy of his dynasty. It states that after king Udayana who was the 47th king of the line that originated with Brahma, 59 more kings of the same dynasty ruled Ayodhya. The last king of the line was Vijayaditya who founded the Chalukya dynasty. After 16 more Chalukyas ruled the kingdom, it passed to the Rashtrakutas. Although this is an understandable timeline, its veracity cannot be confirmed. One of the early references to a Rashtrakuta king is found in a copper grant dated to the beginning of the 7th century which states, ‘King Mananka, the greatest of the Rashtrakuta race, was adorned with virtue and fame’.

There is yet another issue that has been troubling historians—the question whether or not the Rashtrakutas belonged to the Yadava clan, especially considering their predominance in the Gujarat and Deccan region. Of the 75 inscriptions and copper grants of the Rashtrakutas of Deccan and Gujarat that have so far been discovered, only eight mention any connection between the Rashtrakutas and the Yadavas. The earliest one that connects the two dynasties is dated to 860, with all the earlier ones being completely silent on the issue. Further the earlier ones do not even mention whether the Rashtrakutas were Suryavanshis or Chandrvanshis (the Solar or Lunar lineage of hereditary Indian royalty). However, a copper grant dated to 914 states, ‘Rashtrakuta Dantidurga was born in the line of Yadava Satyaki’. The book Kavirahasya by Halayudha also mentions the Rashtrakutas as being the descendants of Yadava Satyaki.

The situation became further confused with the discovery, in the early 1900s, of 1800 silver coins of the Rashtrakuta king Krishnaraja I (ruling in 772) in Dhamori. These coins very clearly establish Krishnaraja I as a staunch follower of Shiva and a Suryavanshi. There is another copper grant, that has been found in Radhanpur and considered to be issued by Rashtrakuta Govindaraja III in 808 that states, ‘…by the birth of this virtuous king the Rashtrakuta dynasty became as invincible as the Yadava dynasty [became] by the birth of Sri Krishna’. Obviously in 808, the Rashtrakutas were in no way connected to the Yadava clan. A later copper grant of Amoghvarsha I dated to 950 mentions the Rashtrakutas as Yadavas. The possible explanation for this confusing claims and counterclaims is that the grants were normally copied from earlier ones of similar nature and a mistake made in one of the earlier plates was automatically carried forward. Mistakes were common in earlier grants and since successor kings were almost always reluctant to change what had been written earlier for fear of upsetting the spirits of long dead ancestors, the mistakes were carried forward. The Yadavas were Chandravanshis and there is ample evidence, starting from the earliest copper plates of the Rashtrakutas that have the seal of the Sun God on them, that the Rashtrakutas were Suryavanshis. Both the dynasties were distinctly different and the confusion that exists even today is perhaps unnecessary fuss created through nuanced and aspirational research on some peripheral information.

THE RASHTRAKUTAS OF THE DECCAN – THE PRIMARY BRANCH

The Rashtrakutas ruled the Deccan from early 7th century. An inscription found in Yevur, which has not been successfully dated till now, mentions the defeat of the Rashtrakuta king Indra son of Krishna, by the Chalukya Jayasimha. However, this defeat does not seem to have eliminated the Rashtrakutas but only eroded their power to a certain extent. Dantivarman (also called Dantidurga I), a descendant of Indra of this Yevur inscription is the first confirmed king of the Deccan Rashtrakuta branch. In an inscription in the Dasavatara Temple in the Ellors caves, he is described as the ‘protector of the Varnasrama Dharma’ (the laws of castes and stages of life). He ruled around 593 and by all accounts was a just and merciful ruler. He was followed on the throne by his son Indraraja I who was a brave king and performed many yagnas (sacrifices), which indicates that he was obviously a devout Hindu. Indraraja’s son Govindaraja I ruled around 634 and attempted to recapture lost territory from the Chalukyas, taking advantage of the confusion that prevailed in the Chalukya kingdom during the succession struggle before Pulakesin II came to power. However, this attempt was largely unsuccessful. Govindaraja I was followed by Karakraja who was a staunch follower of Vedic Hinduism and facilitated the performance of several sacrifices by learned Brahmin priests. He was also known as a patron of learning. He left three sons to rule the kingdom, with the elder son Indraraja II succeeding him. He was married to a Chalukya princess and managed to maintain friendly relations with them.

Dantidurga II. Indraraja was followed on the throne by his son Dantidurga II who is credited with re-establishing the Rashtrakuta rule over most of Deccan, which his descendants thereafter sustained for the next 225 years. He recaptured territory lost to the Chalukyas earlier by defeating the Chalukya king Kirtivarman II sometime between 747 and 753. It is noteworthy here that the army that was defeated by the Rashtrakutas was the same one that had stopped the conquering march of Harsha-Vardhana and subsequently defeated him. [There may just be something to say about effective leadership in determining the performance of an army.] Inscriptions, copper grants and Sanskrit texts independently confirm Dantidurga’s victory as a fact. There are two copper grants of later Rashtrakuta kings dated 807 and 812, that clearly mention Dantidurga II’s defeat of the Chalukya king Kirtivarman II and the annexation of almost the entire Chalukya kingdom into the Rashtrakuta fold. He went on to conquer Shri Saila (Kurnool district in Andhra), Kalinga, South Koshala (territories south of Oudh), Malwa, Tanka and Lata. After the initial victory over the Chalukyas, he assumed the title of Rajadhiraja (King of Kings) and Parameswara (Supreme Lord). At the end of his conquests the Rashtrakuta kingdom controlled Gujarat and Malwa in the north and included Rameswaram in the south, while it stretched across the Peninsula to touch both the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. There is also an inscription that mentions that he put down a revolt in Kanchi, confirming the spread of his kingdom. His look is said to have had the effect of a sword on his enemies, obviously a metaphorical expression to indicate his ferocity and valour. He assumed the title of Khadagavaloka (the one wielding the Khadaga) and towards the end of his reign he was also called Maharajadhiraja (The Greatest King of Kings).

Krishnaraja II. Around 760 Krishnaraja II, the uncle of Dantidurga came to power. There is one opinion that he usurped the throne by deposing Dantidurga because the king had become unpopular. Considering his achievements, this theory is difficult to believe. In fact it can be considered patently incorrect since there is an inscription that states very clearly that Krishnaraja II came to power on the ‘demise of the great king Dantidurga’. Three stone inscriptions, one copper grant and 1800 silver coins of Krishnaraja’s reign have been found and identified. The first inscription in Hattimattur is not dated; the second at Telegaon is dated to 768; and the third at Alas is dated to 770 with the copper grant being dated 772. Krishnaraja also had the famous ‘Kailas Bhavana’ Shiva temple at the Ellora caves constructed by cutting into the rock, which can still be visited today. He also built another 18 Shiva temples, which confirms him as a Shiva worshipper. He was a great patron of learning and founded a ‘college’ called Kanneshawara where a large number of scholars lived and worked. The famous Jain author Akalanka Bhatta, the author of the tome Rajavartika lived in the college during the time of Krishnaraja. An inscription mentions his defeat of king Rahappa, who could have been Karakraja II of Gujarat, which spelt the end of the Rashtrakutas of Gujarat. Some sources attach another story to this conquest. They indicate an uprising in the Gujarat region that Krishnaraja subdued and attribute the revolt to the son of Dantidurga II who may have been a minor when Krishnaraja assumed power. Krishnaraja had two sons—Govindaraja and Dhruvaraja.

Govindaraja II. The elder son, Govindaraja succeeded Krishnaraja to the throne. As a prince, he had conquered Vengi, the eastern coastal district that lie between the Rivers Krishna and Godavari, annexing it to the spreading Rashtrakuta kingdom. Although two copper plates of the time of his reign has been found (one dated 775 and the other 779), they do not mention the king by name, but only that of his brother Dhruvaraja as well as that of his son Karakaraja. The copper grant found in Wardha reports that Govindaraja was excessively found of the good life and of women and entrusted the governance of the kingdom to his younger brother Nirupama, one of the titles of Dhruvaraja. Dhruvaraja subsequently deposed him from the throne. Govindaraja unsuccessfully tried to regain the throne with the assistance of the kings of Malwa and Kanchi, during which the combined armies were defeated by Dhruvaraja.

Confirmation of Rashtrakuta Rule

The Jain author Jinasena, of the Digambara sect, confirms towards the end of his monumental work Harivamsha Purana that, ‘in Shaka S. 705 (783 A.D.), king Indrayudha reigned in the north; Krishna’s son Shrivallabha in the south; Vatsaraja of ‘Avanti’ in the east; and Varaha in the west’. Here Indryudha is doubtless the Rashtrakuta king of Kanauj and Krishna’s son could either be Govindaraja or Dhruvaraja, since the Rashtrakuta kings of the Deccan were also titled ‘Vallabha’. Subsequently the son of Vatsaraja, Pratihara Nagabhatta II seized the kingdom of Kanauj, defeating Indrayudha’s sons and successor, Chakrayudha.

 

Dhruvaraja. The second son of Krishnaraja dethroned his brother, with the actual date of his accession being confirmed as 780, although he had been the virtual ruler for some years before that. There is an opinion, probably correct, that he took over the kingdom only to save it from its covetous neighbours who were planning to take advantage of the weak rule of Govindaraja II. Dhruvaraja was a brave and wise king and defeated both the Pallavas of Kanchi and the Chera king further south. He also attacked and routed Pratihara Vatsaraja, who had already conquered Gauda, and drove him towards Marwar. This particular event is mentioned in the Harivamsha Purana. He is said to have captured the canopies of the defeated kings, obviously a custom of the day that denoted complete subjugation of the defeated forces. It is possible that his kingdom ranged from Ayodhya in the north to Rameshawaram in the south. Three inscriptions in Canarese found at Pattadakal, Naregal and Lakshmeshvar, made during his reign corroborate the information from other sources. During his lifetime itself he appointed his son Govindaraja III as the ruler of a kingdom that by then extended from Kanthika (Konkan) in the south to Khambat (Cambay). There is some indication that he was fatally wounded while trying to put down a rebellion in Gujarat, although this cannot be conclusively proved. However, it is certain that Dhruvaraja was found of waging aggressive wars, so dear to the heart of typical Indian rajas or kings.

Govindaraja III

Dhruvaraja had wanted to give him the title of king even before his own death, but Govindaraja III demurred and continued as Prince Regent, not wanting to be called king while his father was still alive. It is significant that he was not the eldest son but was still anointed as successor. Nine copper grants that date between 794 and 813 provide a great deal of information regarding the rule of this powerful king.

The records show that there was some sort of a succession struggle, which is not surprising considering that Govindaraja was not the eldest son of his father and that primogeniture was the confirmed tradition of the time. His brother named as Stambha in one of the plates, possibly Shauchkhamba who is mentioned in other sources, assembled an army supported by 12 other kings and attacked Govindaraja. However Govindaraja defeated them and established himself as the sovereign ruler. It is recorded that Govindaraja III’s queen’s name was Gamundabbe; and that he defeated king Dantiga of Kanchi. This Dantiga could have been the Pallava king Dantivarman, whose son Nandivarman subsequently married princess Shankha, Govindaraja’s granddaughter.

Govindaraja was magnanimous enough to liberate the Chera king Ganga who had been imprisoned for life by his father, but was also pragmatic enough to put him back in prison when Ganga rebelled after being free for some time. Govindaraja subsequently invaded and conquered Malwa. Further, the king of Vengi, probably Vijayaditya II of the Eastern Chalukyas, is reported to have accepted Govindaraja’s supremacy and attended his court to pay obeisance. The most important development that took place during the reign of this illustrious king was that he conquered Lata (central and southern Gujarat) and made his younger brother Indraraja the ruler of the region. Indraraja went on to found the second branch of the Rashtrakuta line who became the kings of Gujarat. The kings of Bengal and Magadha also yielded to the power of Govindaraja, probably without going to war. An inscription in Nilgund dated to 866 claims that he also conquered Kerala and Chitrakuta (Chittor). However, lack of any other corroborative evidence makes this claim a bit tenuous and hard to believe.

While the core Rashtrakuta kingdom ruled by Govindaraja directly was the territory between the Narmada and the Tungabhadra Rives, kings of territories ranging from Vindhya and Malwa in the north and Kanchi in the south were under his sway and could be considered autonomous feudatories of the Rashtrakutas. It is also possible that some of the achievements attributed to Govindaraja III could have been that of his father Dhruvaraja who was himself a dynamic and successful king. This confusion arises because of the fact that contemporary writings of the time are at times unclear regarding their dating and therefore open to differing interpretations. In either case, Govindaraja III was one of the more successful Rashtrakuta kings, a dynasty that produced a number of very capable rulers.

Amoghavarsha I

The son and successor of Govindaraja III who came to power in 810 is called Amoghavarsha, although this is only considered a title. His real name remains a mystery even today. However, in later years the title lapsed into being considered a name that succeeding kings of the dynasty adopted. There are indications that even this succession was preceded by a struggle although it was subdued by Amoghavarsha with the help of his cousin Karkaraja, probably from the Lata Rashtrakuta branch. He then went on to amass real power. He is reported to have possessed a number of royal emblems that included the three canopies captured earlier by his ancestor Govindaraja II. [These were obviously considered family heirlooms and prized objects, since it signified the defeat of powerful adversaries.] The copper grants  found in Baroda and Kavi in Broach (dated between 817 and 835) that deal with Amoghavarsha’s rule, mention the charitable generosity of the king and indicate that he put down another rebellion in Gujarat by a Rashtrakuta king. [This would have been the first attempt of the relatively newly established Rashtrakuta branch of Lata (Gujarat) to become completely independent of the parent branch.]

Five inscriptions, dating from 843 onwards (843 in a cave in Kanheri in Thane district, 851 and 860 at Konur, 866 at Shirur, and 871 in the 61st year of his reign), provide a great deal of information regarding Amoghavarsha’s reign. It is known that Pulla Shakti of the Shilahara dynasty and the governor of Konkan was his chief feudatory; that Pulla Shakti was a Buddhist and succeeded by Kapardi II to the governorship; and that Amoghavarsha was a benevolent king. In one inscription it is mentioned that the Rashtrakutas were an off-shoot of the Yadavas and that they adopted a new title of Vira Narayana. An important piece of information that comes out is of the grant of 30 villages by the king to a Jain temple that had been built by Bankeya.

Bankeya’s Temple

Bankeya belonged to the Mukua clan and was the Governor of 30,000 villages under Amoghavarsha. On the king’s orders Bankeya invaded Vatatavi of Gangavadi, and although he did not get any assistance from any of the other feudatories, captured the fort of Kedal (north-west of Kadar) on his own. He proceeded further and defeated the ruler of Talavan/Talakad on the north bank of the River Kaveri. Thereafter he crossed the river and invaded the province of Saptapada. At this stage there was a rebellion against Amoghavarsha in the Deccan and Bankeya returned to put down the rebellion against his king. (There is a story that the rebellion was led by Amoghavarsha’s son leading a confederation of feudatories, which is probably incorrect.) For the services he rendered to his King, Amoghavarsha granted 30 villages for the upkeep of the Jain temple that Bankeya was having built at that time.

The inscriptions also show the figure of the Garuda in Amoghavarsha’s coat of arms and mention that the kings of Anga, Banga, Magadha and Malwa continued to accept Rashtrakuta superiority over themselves. According to the last inscription, in his 61st regnal year he attempted to overthrow the ‘Dravidian’ kings ruling Kerala, Chola, Pandya and Kalinga territories. The result of this obviously military effort is not mentioned and it can be presumed that this attempt did not meet the level of success required for it to be recorded for posterity as yet another achievement of a great king. However, it is confirmed that he put down an insurrection of some courtierswho had revolted under the instigation of the Gangavamshi ruler of the time, who was captured and imprisoned for life. The courtiers who sided with him paid a higher prize—they were all executed.

Amoghavarsha also shifted the capital of the Deccan Rashtrakutas from Nasik to Manykhela mentioned as Mankir in the Arab chronicles (today’s Malkhed, about 140 kilometres south-east of Sholapur). Throughout his reign he was at odds with the Western Chalukyas over control of fertile lands, both the kingdoms regularly resorting to conflict. His daughter Abbalabba was married to Gunadattaranga Bhutuga, the king of the Ganga dynasty. This alliance was to stand the Rashtrakutas in good stead in later years.

While there is no doubt that he was a great patron of Jainism, it is also possible that Amoghavarsha was himself a practitioner of the religion. It is likely that he followed the ‘Digambara’ sect of Jainism, which can be confirmed if circumstantial evidences can be accepted. A Jain writer, Jinasena (not to be confused with the Jinasena who has been mentioned earlier and who belonged to a different Sangha or sect altogether) mentions in one of his works that the king Amoghavarsha was an ardent follower of the Jain religion. This Jinasena also compiled the Adipurana, the first half of what was to later become the Mahapurana, which mentions the king’s religious affiliation. Jaydhavala, the book of Digambara principles, probably dated 837, was also written during Amoghavarsha’s reign. It is claimed that the king himself was an author of repute, but there is no evidence to prove this. The incontrovertible proof of Amoghavarsha being a follower of the Jain religion comes at the end of his life, when after having handed over the governance of the kingdom to his son after 65 years of tumultuous but glorious rule, he opted to spend the rest of his life in religious meditation, while gradually starving himself to death—the epitome of Jain belief. The excessive patronage that the Digambara sect of Jainism enjoyed during his long reign is often mentioned as one of the primary reasons for the decay of Buddhism in the Indian sub-continent. By the 12th century, Buddhism had completely vanished from the Deccan Plateau.

Krishnaraja II

Krishnaraja II was the son of Amoghavarsha and ascended the throne around 875while his father was still alive. Information regarding his rule comes from four inscriptions and two copper grants that have so far been discovered. The first three inscriptions, dated between 900 and 903 were found in Bijapur, Ardeshhalli and Mulgund in Dharwar district while the fourth is dated to 912 and found at Aihole near Bijapur. Unfortunately the first copper plate has not been clearly authenticated and therefore the information from it is considered untrustworthy with most historians discounting it. The second copper plate provide the genealogy of the Rashtrakutas from Krishnaraja I to Krishnaraja II. In some places the king has been referred to as ‘Krishnavallabha’, confirming that the term Vallabha was a title used by Rashtrakuta kings to indicate status and power.

Krishnaraja II was married to Mahadevi, princess of Chedi and the daughter of king Kokkala of  the Kalachuri, also called Haihaya, dynasty. She was also the daughter of Krishnaraja’s maternal uncle. This system of marrying the maternal uncle’s daughter was common in the Rashtrakuta dynasty and is a custom that is still prevalent in some South Indian communities. During Krishnaraja’s reign the conflict with the Western Chalukyas continued with sporadic increases in the intensity of the battles and skirmishes taking place. He is also reported as having overthrown the Rashtrakuta king of the off-shoot dynasty in Lata and annexing the area to the primary Deccan kingdom. However, the annexation could have been a temporary measure and the Lata Rashtrakutas continued their independent rule even after this disruption. Folklore has it that his son Jagattunga won many battles on behalf of his father and extended the territorial holding of the kingdom. There is a lack of firm evidence to confirm this, especially since Jagattunga predeceased his father and did not succeed him as king. The kingdom under Krishnaraja II is supposed to have touched the River Ganges in the north and encompassed Cape Comorin (Kanyakumari) in the south. This claim may be a bit of an exaggeration, the scribe taking poetic licence in writing the copper plates and inscriptions. However, there is no doubt that the Rashtrakuta kingdom held a position of predominant power in the sub-continent during these times. Krishnaraja II died around 911 and was followed on the throne by his grandson Indraraja III.

Indraraja III. Indraraja was the son of Jagattunga and Lakshmi the princess of the Kalachuri dynasty and was married to Vijamba his mother’s niece. His coronation was held at the village of Kurundaka, located at the confluence of the Rivers Krishna and Panchganga, and not in the kingdom’s capital. It has not been possible to ascertain any reason for this break from tradition, which remains an enigma. A copper plate of his reign mentions that the Rashtrakutas were descendants of Satyaki Yadava, a connection that continually comes up in their history, but is impossible to ascertain as being correct. According to a copper plate, Indraraja III laid waste Meru, ruled by Pratihara Mahipala. This could be a reference to Mahodaya which was another name for Kanauj. It was also during his reign that the author Trivikrama Bhatta wrote the books Damayanti Katha and Madalasa Champu. Indraraja III died in 916 having ruled for only about six years. He had two sons and was succeeded by his elder son Amoghavarsha II who died within a year of accession. There is some speculation that he actually did not come to the throne. However, this is incorrect since there is irrefutable proof of his having been crowned.

Trivikrama Bhatta and His Descendants

Trivikrama Bhatta was the son of Nemaditya and is considered to be the author of the copper grant that has been dated to 914. His son Bhaskara Bhatta was also an author and a contemporary of the Paramara king Bhoja of Malwa. The famous astronomer Bhaskaracharya, who was the author of the treatise Siddhanta Shiromani, was the fifth in descent from Bhaskara Bhatta.

Govindaraja IV. Govindaraja was the younger brother of Amoghavarsha and took over the reins of power on the untimely death of his brother. There is some speculation of foul play in Amoghavarsha’s untimely death and Govindaraja’s complicity in it although there is no evidence to prove it. [It is not beyond comprehension that Govindaraja was complicit in the removal of his elder brother form the throne, especially if either of the two brothers were considered weak in character and susceptible to manipulation by ambitious courtiers.] The Prakrit name of Govindaraja was Gojjiga. [From this the more colloquial character of Prakrit, as compared to the more classic Sanskrit is apparent, is apparent.] Conflict with the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi broke out at this stage, although Govindaraja’s attempt at attacking Chalukya territory did not meet with any notable success. He is also mentioned in copper grant as a ‘Yaduvanshi’ of the Lunar lineage. Govindaraja also did not rule for long, dying of ‘sexual excesses’ at an early age.

Baddiga. The death of Govindaraja brought on greater confusion in an already turbulent kingdom that was suffering from a deficit of governance. The feudatories of the Rashtrakutas, needing to stabilise the core kingdom, brought Amoghavarsha III commonly called Baddiga, to the throne around 935. He was the son of Jagattunga through another queen and therefore a stepbrother of Indraraja III. He proved to be an effective and wise king and managed to salvage the kingdom from any further decline. He was married to Kundakadevi, the daughter of Yuvaraja I of the Kalachuri dynasty and his daughter was married to Satyavakya Bhutuga II of the Ganga dynasty. It is certain that the Rashtrakuta kings traditionally took Kalachuri brides and their daughters were normally married into the Ganga dynasty. Baddiga returned to these traditional alliances to re-establish relationships and to ensure stability. His rule too was short, may be since he himself had come to power at a late age. He had four sons who came to the throne after him sequentially.

Krishnaraja III

Krishnaraja was the eldest son of Baddiga (Prakrit name Kannara) and came to power around 939. [From the availability of the Prakrit names of these kings, it is apparent that by the 10th century Prakrit was a recognised language even in the royal courts.] Even as a Crown Prince he exercised a powerful influence in ruling the kingdom during his father’s short reign. On ascending the throne he went on to become an effective ruler. He successfully battled the Chola dynasty in 949-50 at a place called Takkola. An inscription to commemorate the victory mentions that during the battle Krishnaraja killed the Chola king Rajaditya. In actual fact this is wrong. Rajaditya was indeed killed, but through treacherous means by Stayavakya Bhutuga II, the husband of Krishnaraja’s elder sister Revakanimmadi.

Information regarding Krishnaraja’s rule is available from 16 inscriptions and two copper grants. There is some confusion regarding the dates of events mentioned since only seven of the inscriptions provide actual Shaka Era dates, the other eight only mention the king’s regnal year. Since the exact date of his ascending the throne is still vague, the calculations can vary by as much as a decade at times. The collated information gives a picture of a successful and conquering king who was renowned for his personal bravery and at the same time was a patron of learning, art and literature.

His military exploits, which seem to have lasted throughout his reign, can be summarised as: defeat of the Gurjara king with the help of some Rashtrakuta feudatories; a concerted invasion of South India in which king Dantiga of Kanchi and Vappuga was defeated and killed, while his kingdom was conquered and destroyed, the Pandya territory was conquered, and the king of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) was subjugated; defeat of king Antiga of the Pallava dynasty; and protection of the Kalachuris from invasion of the Gurjaras. The inscriptions also describe him as the conqueror of Kanchi and Tanjore as well as the incarnation of death to Chola kings. It is written that he assumed the title of Chakravarti around 949 and that he had feudatories from the Himalayas to Ceylon and also touching both the oceans—a claim that was probably true. He was also not averse to conquering territories held by allies and relatives. He dethroned Rachmala I of the Ganga dynasty and installed his brother-in-law Bhutuga II on the throne, who subsequently had Rachmala assassinated. Krishnaraja also defeated Shasrarjuna the Kalachuri king of Chedi, although whether the kingdom was annexed or not is unclear.

In Deoli he granted lands in memory of his younger brother Jagattunga who had died earlier and in 945 supported the school that was opened by his Minister Narayana where students from all over the kingdom and the feudatories came to be taught by renowned masters. The king was also a Shiva worshipper, confirmed by his adoption of the title Parama Maheswara. He was renowned patron of literature and supported a number of authors and poets in his court. Somadeva was an author and scholar who wrote Yashastilaka Champu in 959, which describes Krishnaraja’s conquest of Chera, Chola, Pandya, and Simhala lands. His other work Nitivakyamrita is mentioned in the later date Jain Sahitya Samshodhaka. The poet Ponna, a Jain, wrote Shanti Purana in Canarese and was bestowed the title ‘Ubhayabhasa Chakravarti’ by the king. Of particular importance is the work of the Poet Laureate Pushpadanta since it provides the first confirmed indication of the decline and subsequent fall of this illustrious dynasty. Pushpadanta was resident in the capital Manykheta and started to compile the Jain Mahapurana in Apabramsha language, although it was completed only during Krishnaraja’s successor’s rule. It is certain that Krishnaraja III ruled at least till 966, or a minimum of 27 years if not more.

The Paramaras

The Paramaras were a feudatory of the Rashtrakutas in Gujarat and the first king of the dynasty is considered to have been Upendra who established his capital at Dhara (modern Dhar in Madhta Pradesh). However, recognisable Paramara history only begins with their king Siyaka II who defied Rashtrakuta overlordship and went on to defeat the reigning Rashtrakuta king (Khottiga) and plunder his capital. After this the Paramaras became an independent dynasty and ruled their own kingdom. Siyaka’s son and successor Munja, also called Vakpati, was a great warrior who extended the territorial holdings of the dynasty. He defeated the Kalachuri king Yuvaraja II and also the rulers of Mewar, Lata, and Chedi. Munja was killed in battle by the Chalukya king Tailapa II. The greatest Paramara king was Bhoja, who ruled from 1010-55. Although he undertook ceaseless wars with the Chalukyas, he was unable to make any noticeable headway against them. However, he defeated the Silaharas and conquered the Konkan. Bhoja also fell on the battlefield when a joint force of the Chalukyas and the Kalachuris attacked and sacked his capital. Bhoja was a great patron of learning and himself the author of more than 23 books on varied subjects. After Bhoja’s death, the Paramaras went into decline and became a minor dynasty of little importance. The Paramaras are known in the broader sweep of Indian history only for initiating the fall of the powerful Rashtrakuta dynasty.

Khottiga. Krishnaraja’s immediate younger brother Jagattunga having predeceased him, the next brother Khottiga inherited the throne. In 972, the powerful king of Malwa, Siyaka II of the Paramara dynasty, attacked and defeated Khottiga, going on to plunder the capital Manyakheta. In this battle, Khottiga was killed, a fact confirmed in Pushpadanta’s book. This was the beginning of the end of the Deccan Rashtrakutas and they never recovered from this defeat. From this point it did not take long for the dynasty to collapse and rapidly go into oblivion. Khottiga died without any male heirs, leaving the succession path clear for the son of his younger brother Nirupama to ascend to the throne.

‘An inscription of the time of Paramara king Udayaditya, found at Udaipur (Gwalior), contains the following lines: i.e. Shri Harsha (Siyaka II of the Paramara dynasty of Malwa) had seized the kingdom from Khottigadeva.’

Pandit Bisheshwar Nath Reu,

History of the Rashtrakutas,

The Archaeological Department, Jodhpur, 1933, p.88

Karakaraja II. Karakaraja came to the throne almost by default around 972 at the death of his uncle Khottiga at the hands of the invading Malwa king. This is indicative of the fact that the kingdom was not annexed, but only plundered and destroyed to a certain extent. The Malwa invasion weakened the Rashtrakutas considerably and the Chalukya king Tailapa II took the opportunity to mount an assault in 973, finishing the destruction that had been started by Siyaka II of Malwa. The Chalukyas regained lost power through this act and became the predominant dynasty of the Deccan with their capital at Kalyani. 973 can be considered the end of the primary Deccan branch of the Rashtrakuta dynasty. An inscription of Vijjaya of the Kalachuri dynasty and the primary feudatory of the Rashtrakutas for two centuries confirms that Karakraja II was killed by Tailapa during the Chalukya invasion. The complete defeat of the Rashtrakutas is corroborated by two copper plates dated to 997 and 1008 of Aparajita of the Shilara dynasty, which was a confirmed feudatory, indicating that he was now independent of the Rashtrakutas.

Immediately after this defeat, Peramanadi Marasimha of the Ganga dynasty, allied through matrimony to the Rashtrakutas for several generations, attempted to recoup the Rashtrakuta strength and place Indraraja IV, the grandson of Krishnaraja III and his own cousin, on the throne. The attempt failed and with it the powerful dynasty of the Deccan Rashtrakutas came to an inglorious end. The capricious march of Indian history continued, the fall of a once glorious dynasty was but the beginning of another that would scale the same heights of power and again come to an end at the hands, at times, of lesser mortals. The underlying commonality in the theme of history does not change.

 

© [Sanu Kainikara] [2014]
All Rights Reserved
No part of this website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of the author. You may quote extracts from the website or forward the link to the website with attribution to http://www.sanukay.com/. For any other mode of sharing, please contact the author @ (sanukay@hotmail.com)

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About Sanu kainikara

Sainik School Kazhakuttam (Kerala), National Defence Academy 39/A, 108 Pilot's Course IAF, fighter pilot, QFI, FCL, psc, HACC, Voluntary Retirement as Wing Commander. Canberra-based Defence Analyst specialising in air power and national security. PhD in International Politics from University of Adelaide Adjunct Professor, University of New South Wales, Distinguished Fellow Institute For Regional Security (IFRS) Distinguished Fellow Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS)

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