Rajput Kingdoms – Salient Features History Study Materials

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   Rajput Kingdoms – Salient Features History Study Materials

After Harshavardhana. the Rajputs emerged as a powerful force in western and central India and dominated the Indian political scene fo nearly 500 years from the seventh century. They emerged from the political chaos that surfaced after the death of Harshavardhana. Out of the political disarray prevalent in North India, the Rajputs chalked out the small kingdoms of Gujarat and Malwa. From the eighth to twelfth century they struggled to keep themselves independent. But as they grew bigger the infighting made them brittle, theyfell prey to the rising domination of the Muslim invaders. Among them the Gujara of Pratihara, the Gahadwals of Kanauj, the Kalachuris of Chedi, the Chauhans of Ajmer, the Solankis of Gujarat and the Guhtlotas of Mewar are important.

            The first Gujara-Pratihara ruler was Nagabhatta I. He was the ruler of Awanti in ad 650. The kings who succeeded him were Vasturaja (AD 775-860); Mihira Bhoja (AD 836- 885); Mahindrapala I (AD 886-910); Mahipaia (ad 912-944); Rajyapala (AD 944-948). The later kings became weak and the kingdom began to deteriorate.

            After the Pratiharas. the Gahadvala of Kanauj surfaced during ad 1085 under King Chandradeva. He died in ad 1100 and his son Madanpal came to power. Madanapala was repeatedly harassed by Masaud III (King of Ghazni), but it was his son, Govindachandra. who drove Masaud III out of India. Lakshmi Dhara, a scholar (author of Kritya Kalpataru), was a minister in his court. In AD 1154 Govindrachandra made his son Vijaychandra the king. King Jayachandra was the son of Vijaychandra. Kanauj was later destroyed by Mohammad Ghori in AD 1192.

Chandeta kingdom was founded by Yashovarma of Chandel in the region of Bhajeka Bhutika (later came to beknown as Bundelkhan). Their capital was Mahoba. Their Prominent kings were Dhanga  and  Kirthiverma. The last ruler from the dynasty merged with Prithviraj Chauhan  in AD 1182.

            Kirthiverma the Chandela ruler defeated the Chedi ruler in the eleventh century. Later, Lakshamanaraja emerged as a powerful Chedi Rajput ruler. His kingdom was located between the Godavari and the Narmada and his capital was Tripura (near Jabalpur).

            Like Kanauj, Malwa was the symbol of the Rajputana power. Krishnaraja (also called King Upendra) founded this kingdom. Their capital was Dhar (Madhya Pradesh). The prominent kings from this dynasty were Vakpatiraju- Munjana II. Bhoja I, Bhoja II. In Malwa, the Parmars ruled and the most famous of them was King Bhoja.

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            The Chauhans were an important clan of the Rajputs. They ruled in Ajmer and Sambar. The Ajmer Rajputs left a significant mark on Indian history. Among the Ajmer Chauhans Vigraharaja IV and Prithviraj were the most prominent. Vigraharaja is remembered for conquering Delhi and defeating Toramana. Prithviraj Chauhan ruled over Delhi and Agra and fought two important battles, the First Battle of Tarain, fought in AD 1191 between the forces of Prithviraj Chauhan and Muhammad Ghori, in which the latter was defeated and the Second Battle  of Tarain, fought in AD 1192 when Muhammad Ghori again invaded India, in which Prithviraj Chauhan was defeated, captured and later on Slained. The kingdom of Delhi fell to Muhammad Ghori. The Battles of Tarain had great significance in the Indian political scene as they led to the establishment of Muslim rule over North India and subsequently in the south for several centuries. Jai Chand Rathor was the last Rajput king who whs also defeated and killed by Ghori in AD 1194.

            The Mewar Rajput Dynasty was founded by Sri Guhadattan. Its capital was Chitoor. Shaktamara was their most powerful ruler. The contribution of his successor Chaitrasimha is also considerable as he is remembered as the only Rajput who gave a death blow to the Muslim invasions. His son Ratnasimha succeeded him as the king of Mewar, whose queen. Rani Padmini, was a woman of awesome beauty. The Muslim ruler, Ala-ud-din Khalji was besotted by her beauty and in an attempt to capture her, he besieged Mewar. Other notable rulers from this clan are Rana Sangram, Rana Pratap Singh and Rana Raja Singh. But all of them were dominated by the Moghul rulers who had set their feet firmly in the Indian soil by that time.

            Malwa was the most important Rajput kingdom. RanaKumbha was the famous ruler of this state. He defeated Mohammed Khalji and erected the Tower of Victory in Chittoor.

            The Pala kings ruled in Bihar and Sena kings ruled in Bengal.

The Ceylon Kings: I

On the Island of Lanka (Ceylon), the 58th and the lastking listed in the Mahavansa was Mahasena [roled 334-362]. The first of the 125 kings listed up to 1815 in the Culavamsa,Srimeghavarna, repaired the monasteries destroyed by Mahasena Mohanoman (ruled409-431) married the queen after she murdered his brother, Upuatishya,Buddhaghoshawas converted to Buddhism and went to tanka during theregin of Mahanaman. There he translated and wrote commentaries numerous Buadhist texts. His Visuddhimagga explains ways to attain purily by presenting the teachings of Buddha in three parts on conduct, concentration and wisdom. Buddhaghosha also collected parables and stories illustrating Buddhist ethics by showing how karma brings the consequences of actions back to one, sometimes in another life One story showed how a grudge could cause alternating injuries between two individuals, from life to life Yet if no grudge is held the enmity subsides In addition to the usual viewy of killing, stealing, adultery and a judge taking cubes, occupations that could lead to hell include making wepons, selling poison being a general collecting taxes living off tolls, hunting, fishing and even gathering honey. The Buddhist path is encouraged with tales of miracles and by showing the benefits of good conduct and meditation.

The Ceylon Kings: ll

The clan chief Dhatusena(ruled 460-478) became the king of Lanka and expelled foreigners from the island, but his eldest son Kashyapa (ruled 478-496) took him prisoner ana usurped the throne, but last it with his life to his brother. Maudgalyayana [ruled 496-513) who had the coast guarded to prevent foreign attacks and gave his umbrela to the Buddhist community as a taken of submission. His son.Kumaradasa (ruled 513-522), was succeeded by his son who was quickly deposed bv a usurping uncle, who was soon killed by Upatishya (ruled 522-524), who was succeeded by his son. Shilakala (ruled 524-537). Maudgalyayana II (ruled 537-556) had to fight for the throne, but he was a poet and was considered a pious ruler who was loved by the people. Two rulers were killed before Agrabodhi I(ruled 559-592) and Agrabodhi II (ruled 592-602) built monasteries and dug water tanks for irrigation A revolt by the general Maudgalyayana III (ruled 602-608) led to a series of civil wars and succession batties suffered by the Lankan people that continued until Manavarman managed to rule lanka for 35 years (ruled 668-703).

SALIENT FEATURES OF THE RAJPUT KINGDOMS

            The country remained free of invasions but lost foreign contact. The caste system was rigid. The Rajputs were proud, warlike people but hospitable. Culturally, many great fortresses and temples were built by them such us Khajurahoin Madhyu Pradesh, Bhubaneswar in Orissa, Sun temple at Konark, the Jagnnath temple at Puri and the Dilwara temple at Mt Abu. Jayadeva was the great court poct of this era.

            Lack of unity and foresight, caste system and defective military organization were some of the causes for the downfall of the Rajputs.

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