The karnATa-s in Tirabhukti and Nepal

Sometimes an exploration of the evolution of the mantra-shAstra leads to a historical digression. So it was when we were trying to trace the history of the navadurgA class of texts in north-eastern India. We were urged to record a note in regard to the activities of the chAlukya revival that spread out of Kalyani. After the fall of the original chAlukya empire, which had carved a place for itself in history with the activities of pulakeshin-II, it was revived again under taila-II. From then on, till the beginning of their decline due to the crushing defeats at the hands of the kAkatIya chiefs of the Telugu country, the chAlukya-s where one of the greatest powers of India. Sadly, due to geography and possibly confused thinking of Hindu rulers the might of the chAlukya-s was rarely directed against Moslem threat that was beginning to make its presence felt. Rather, the chAlukya-s waged spectacular wars against other powerful Hindu rulers and advanced their might. Right from their revival the chAlukya-s started expanding in both north and south. taila-II beginning around 975 CE invade the seized territories from the choLa uttama in the Tamil country, in the West took the Konkans from the shilahara-s and in the north invaded Gujarat, Malwa and Chedi seizing territories from them, and killed the paramAra king mu~nja. His successor satyAshraya defeated the great rAjarAja of the Tamil country in the battles of Kurnool and Guntur. His son jayasiMha-II defeated the combined attack of two of the greatest Indian kings, rAja bhojadeva paramAra and rAjendra choLa, from North and South. His elder sister akkadevI was one of the few female warriors who actually led the chAlukya armies in battle on the southern front. Then came the great chAlukya-choLa struggle in which the choLa brothers rAjAdhirAja and rAjendradeva ground the chAlukya-s to dust (though the former was killed on the field). rAjendradeva’s son vIrarAjendra also smashed the chAlukya-s repeatedly and almost destroyed their kingdom when he ironically gave them a second life. He married his daughter to vikramAditya-VI, one of the young sons of his chAlukya enemy someshvara-deva-I. vikramAditya-VI with his father-in-law’s help took over the chAlukya throne after defeating his elder brother who occupied the throne (1076-1126 CE). There he ruled for 50 years studded with numerous campaigns in an attempt to unify the whole of India under the karnATa empire. He sent his armies to invade Gujarat, Rajasthan, Sindh, the Moslem occupied territories of the Punjab, Vidarbha, Bihar, Bengal and Nepal. He also sent a navy to invade Shrilanka. Several of inscriptions describe him as conquering these regions, and ever since till the end of these chAlukya-s we notice the kings mentioning such a list. However, modern historians have doubted these as bombastic claims.

Nevertheless, I realized that the solitary but long reign of chAlukya vikramAditya-VI was indeed the last attempt at the unification of the whole of greater India by a Hindu ruler before the Islamic interlude (his son was someshvara-deva-III of mAnasollAsa fame). There are several points in support of this contention:
1) bilhaNa, the Kashmirian poet joined the court of vikrama, and describes him as the foremost Hindu ruler of the era. His coming from Kashmir to the South Indian court at this time was largely due to the opportunities being available rather than invasions of the Mohammedans as in later times. He composed the biographical vikramA~nka-charita on vikrama.
2) We see an interlude in the eloquence of the historians of the Islamic jihad and a surprising loss of the Islamic foothold in certain regions of the Southwestern Punjab. We posit that this and the delay in any further Islamic incursions into India corresponds to the chAlukyan offensive on the turuShka-s recorded in their inscriptions and the narrative of bilhaNa.
3) The sena dynasty in Bengal and the karnATa dynasty in Tirabhukti and Nepal were founded by kShatriya commanders from Karnataka.
4) There is a coeval rise of navadurga worship in the karnATa and Nepal regions in this period and a sudden influence of chAlukyan Hindu iconography in Mithila, Nepal and Bengal.
5) The widespread popularity of mitAkShara as a system of Hindu law – it was composed by vij~nAneshvara in vikrama’s court.

In the early 1090s chAlukya vikramAditya-VI appears to have dispatched a large army under his young general nAnyadeva to invade the North East. Upon reaching Bihar the brilliant karnATa general conquered Tirabhukti and made it is his administrative and military outpost. From there he launched a remarkable campaign in Nepal, first taking Patan, then Katmandu and Bhatgaon and unified the whole of Nepal under his control in 1094 CE. With the conquest of Nepal, nAnyadeva expunged once and for all any kind political control that Tibet attempted to exercise over Nepal and brought it firmly within the Hindu sphere. nAnyadeva was a scholar on Hindu theatrics and composed a commentary on the nATyashAstra known as the bharata-bhAShya. It contains one of the only surviving records of some of the older rAga-s before divergence of Northern and Southern classical styles in Indian music and musical compositions known as pANikA. nAnyadeva’s successors who eventually went on to rule a separate kingdom in Tirabhukti where also maternal ancestors of the malla kings who eventually came to be the main rulers of Nepal in the medieval period.

Another karnATa army under a general of the sena family invaded Bengal from the north and planted themselves firmly in modern W.Bengal. One of their young warriors, vijayasena, then conquered Bengal to found the sena dynasty there. Thus, the generals of vikarmAditya-VI were founders of future dynasties of northern India. The possible role of the unification under vikramAditya-VI in transmitting the paippalAda shAkha of AV to these regions needs to be considered. This is especially so in light of the comment in the prapa~ncha-hR^idaya that the paippalAda shAkha was found in southern India.

~ by mAnasa-taraMgiNI on May 19, 2008.

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