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The Vakatakas – The Abhiras – The Shakas – Kalachuri Dynasty

The Vakatakas

The Vakataka dynasty originated in the central Deccan in the mid-3rd century CE, the empire of which is believed to have extended from Malwa and Gujarat in the north to the Tungabhadra in the south and from the Arabian Sea in the west to the Bay of Bengal in the east.

The Vakatakas, like many of the contemporary dynasties of the Deccan, claimed Brahmanical origin. Little is known, however, about Vindhyashakti (c. 250–270 ce), the founder of the family.

Territorial expansion began in the reign of his son Pravarasena I, who came to the throne about 270 and reached the Narmada River in the north by annexing the kingdom of Purika.

Because of its territorial position, the Vakataka family was recognized as a useful ally; Prabhavati Gupta, the daughter of Chandra Gupta II, was married to Rudrasena II. In this period, Gupta impact was significant in Vakataka polity and culture.

After the Guptas became involved in a war against the Hunas, the Vakataka dynasty was free to expand in central India, and in the period of Narendrasena (c. 450–470), son of Pravarasena II, Vakataka influence spread to such central Indian states as Kosala, Mekala, and Malava. This power, however, ultimately brought the Vakatakas into conflict with the Nalas and caused a setback to the family. Its power was temporarily revived in the reign of Prithvisena II, the last known king of the line, who acceded to the throne about 470.

Apart from this senior line was the Vatsagulma (Basim, in Akola district) line, which branched off after Pravarasena I and occupied the area between the Indhyadri Range and the Godavari River. The Vakatakas are noted for having encouraged arts and letters.

The Abhiras

The Ābhīras were a people mentioned in ancient Indian epics and scriptures as early as the Vedas. A historical people of the same name are mentioned in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea. The term Abhira is called as Ahir in modern times.

According to Sir Gangaram Garg, the Abhira people have their descendants in the form of modern Ahir caste and the term Ahir is the Prakrit form of the Sanskrit term Abhira.

There is no certainty regarding the occupational status of the Abhiras, with ancient texts sometimes referring to them as pastoral and cowherders but at other times as robber tribes.[5]

Along with the Vrishnis, the Satvatas and the Yadavas, the Abhiras were followers of the Vedas, who worshipped Krishna, the head and preceptor of these tribes

The Shakas

This dynasty was founded by Mana after the decline of the Satvahanas in the Deccan.

 The Traikutakas

The Traikutakas were a dynasty of Indian kings who ruled between 388 and 456.

The name “Traikutakas” seems to be derived from the words for a three-peaked mountain (“Tri-kuta”). The Traikutakas are mentioned in Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsa, in which they are located in the area of northern Konkan. The dominions of the Traikutakas further included Aparanta and northern Maharashtra.

The coins of the Traikutaras are found extensively in southern Gujarat, and southern Maharashtra beyond the Ghats. Their design is very close to that of the Western Satraps, from which they probably inherited some territories, and traces of the obverse legend with Greek letters can still be seen.

The Traikuta rule of Aparanta or Konkan begins in A.D. 248 (Traikuta era) exactly the time of Abhira Ishwarsena rule, hence Traikutas are identified with the dynasty of Abhiras.

The Traikutakas reckoned in a specific era, known as the Traikutaka era, or usually the Kalachuri or Chedi era, starting in 249.

Rashtrakuta Dynasty

The Rashtrakutas called themselves descendants of one named Satyaki. But there is difference of opinion about their origin among the historians.

According to some they were originally of Dravidian peasant extraction. From some of the inscriptions of the Chalukya kings it is known that the Rashtrakutas were feudatories of the Chalukyas. Perhaps their original home was Karnataka and their mother tongue was Kanarese.

The founder of the Rashtrakuta power was Dantivarman or Dantidurga. The Rashtrakuta King Dantivarman or Dantidurga was contemporary of Chalukya King Pulakesin II.

Dantidurga occupied all territories between the Godavari and Vima. Dantidurga is said to have conquered Kalinga, Kosala, Kanchi, Srisril, Malava, Lata etc. He annexed Maharashtra to his kingdom by defeating Chalukya King Kirtivarma.

Dhruva was by far the best ruler of the Rashtrakuta dynasty. He ruled for a short span of time but within this short time he entered into struggle with the Gurjara-Pratihara King Vatsyaraja and defeated him signally. He also like wise defeated the Pallavas of Kanchi and the Pala King Dharmapala of Bengal.

The last powerful and efficient king of the Rashtrakutas was Krishna III. He had a prolonged struggle with Mahipala, the Gurjara king. He also succeeded in conquering Tanjore and Kanchi. In the middle of the tenth century for a time he succeeded in defeating the Tamil kings of Chola kingdom. But towards the end of the same century the Rashtrakuta King Kaka was defeated and deposed by Taila or Tailapa, the Chalukya king of Kalyani. With Kaka’s defeat the Rashtrakuta power came to an end.

The Rashtrakuta kings maintained a friendly relation with the Arabs of Sind. When the Gurjara-Pratihara was engaged in fierce struggle against the Arabs, the Rashtrakutas were profiting by carrying on trade with the Arabs. By way of this business relation a large number of Arab merchants came to the Rashtrakuta kingdom. Suleiman was the Arab merchant and was the most celebrated of them.

Kalachuri Dynasty

The earliest known Kalachuri family (c. 550–620 ce) ruled in northern Maharashtra, Gujarat, Malwa, and parts of the western Deccan and probably had their capital at Mahishmati in the Narmada River valley. Three members of the family—Krishnaraja, Shankaragana, and Buddharaja—are known from epigraphs and coins distributed over a wide area.

Their military exploits, did not produce any substantial results until the period of Gangeyadeva (reigned c. 1015–41), who, besides achieving success against the traditional rivals Daksinakoshala and Orissa, pushed northward to acquire the Varanasi area at the expense of the Palas; he also had substantial success against the Chalukyas of Kalyani (between the Bhima and Godavari rivers).

Ganga dynasty

The Eastern Ganga dynasty or Chodaganga dynasty was a medieval Indian dynasty that reigned from Kalinga from the 11th century to the early 15th century. Their rule consisted of the whole of the modern-day Indian state of Odisha as well as parts of West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Their capital was known by the name Kalinganagara, which is the modern Srimukhalingam in Srikakulam District of Andhra Pradesh bordering Odisha which was earlier part of Ganjam District of Odisha. Today, they are most remembered as the builders of the Konark Sun Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site at Konark, Odisha.

The Palas

The Pala Dynasty was the ruling Dynasty in Bihar and Bengal India, from the 8th to the 12th century.  They were called the Palas because all their names ended in Pala, “protector”.

The Palas rescued Bengal from the chaos into which it had fallen after the death of Shashanka, a rival of Harsha of Kanauj.  The founder of the dynasty was Gopala.  Gopala reigned from 750-770 consolidated his position by extending his control over all Bengal.  His successor. Dharmapala , 770-781, made the Palas a dominant power of northern India, installing his own nominee on the once-prestigious throne at Kanauj.  but the Palas soon were threatened by the Pratiharas of central India and gained respite from attacks only because the of a threat to the Pratiharas from another foreign power, Rashtrakutas of the Deccan.

Under Devapala, 810-850, the Palas were able to regain their eminence against both the Pratiharas and the Rashtrakutas.  Devapala’s successors were peaceful men, either by disposition or circumstance, and after 860 the Pala empire disintegrated.  In addition to the depredations of their northern Indian rivals, the Pals also suffered an invasion by the Chola Rajendra I in 1023.  Pala fortunes were revived briefly by Rampala 1077-1120, but by the middle of the 12th century the Pala kingdom had succumbed to the rising power of the Senas.

The Palas, adherents to Mahayana Buddhism, were generous patrons of Buddhist temples and the famous universities of Nalanda and Vikramashila.  It was through their missionaries that Buddhism was finally established in Tibet.  The celebrated Buddhist monk Atisha 981-1054, who reformed Tibetan Buddhism, was the president of the Vikramashila monastery.  The Palas also maintained cordial relations with the Hindu-Buddhist state of the Shailendras of Sumatra and Java. Under Pala patronage a distinctive school of art arose, of which many noteworthy sculptures in stone and metal survive.

The Senas

The Sena Dynasty ruled Bengal for little over a century (c 1097-1225). The emergence of the dynasty, who supplanted the Palas in Bengal towards the close of the 11th century AD, is a very important chapter in the history of ancient Bengal.

Taking advantage of the revolt of the Samantachakra in the varendra during the reign of Mahipala II, Vijayasena, the founder of the Sena dynasty, gradually consolidated his position in Western Bengal and ultimately assumed an independent position during the reign of Madanapala.

One important aspect of Sena rule in Bengal is that the whole of Bengal was brought under a single rule for the first time in its history.

The Senas originally belonged to the Karnataka country (Karnatadeshatagata) in South India, the Kanarese speaking region in modern Mysore, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh of India, and they were Brahma-Ksatriyas (those who were Brahmanas first and became Ksatriyas afterwards).

Vijayasena, son of Hemantasena, laid the foundation of the independent rule of the Senas. It appears from his records that he inherited the position of a subordinate ruler under the Palas in the Radha area. Among the fourteen Samanta kings who helped ramapala in his recovery of Varendra, there was one known as Vijayaraja of Nidravali. He was perhaps identical with Vijayasena.

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