Jambudveep's Blog

January 15, 2013

The History of the Reddi Kingdoms, by Malampalli Somasekhara Sarma

A seminal book by the scholar and epigraphist Malampalli Somasekhara Sarma.Details the history of the Reddi kingdoms of Kondavidu and Pithapuram.

 

The history of the reddi kindoms

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January 14, 2013

Vijayangar Chapter 6: The Great war of Liberation

As seen in the previous chapters the low point in the history of India came in the 1320’s. Long standing dynasties such as the Kakatiya’s of Warangal, the Seuna Yadavas of Devagiri,the Pandya rulers of Madurai were overthrown or extinguished by the Islamic war machine. The only Hindu kingdom left standing in South India was the Hoysala kingdom of Karnataka led by Veera Ballala III.

The just and equitable rule of the Hindu kings was replaced by an oppressive and merciless administration. The land was parcelled out to various Amirs, Maliks and Muslim jehadi’s from around the world. These parasites sucked the blood of the common people and destroyed the traditional way of life. The terrible sufferings of the people are illustrated in the Madhuravijayam and the Vilasa grant of Prolaya Nayaka. Temples fell into disuse and the old system of endowments was discontinued in favour of extorting money from the people. With the disappearance of the agraharas the Vedic system of learning was strangulated.

But the typhoon of Hindu revival in the South was coming…

 

6. The Eleven year war of Liberation (1325-1336 CE)

Map of War of Liberation

Fig. 6.1 Map of the war of Liberation

No sooner had the dust settled on the Tughlaq invasions that the Hindus of South India mounted a ferocious counter offensive. Out of the ashes of the fallen kingdoms arose a confederacy of Hindu chiefs, each determined to drive the Turuksha’s into the ground. The table below give the names and brief details of the prominent Hindu leaders of this great war of liberation.

Name of Hindu King/Chief Brief Description Area of Operations Year active from
Veera Ballala III Hoysala ruler of  Karnataka Karnataka, extending upto river Ponniyan in Tamil Nadu 1324-1342
Prolaya Nayaka (Musunuri family) One of the chief Nayaka of the erstwhile Kakatiya kings. Coastal Andhra with headquarters at Rekapalli 1325-1333
Kapaya Mayaka (Musunuri family) Cousin of Proalaya Nayaka and leader of confederacy of 75 Nayaka’s. Coastal Andhra,western Andhra and Telangana 1325-1367
Prolaya Vema Reddi Powerful Nayaka and founder of the  Reddi kingdom of Kondavidu. Region around Kondavidu in Andhra. Initial base at Addanki. 1325-1353
Chalukya Somadeva, Chalukya prince and ancestor of the Aravidu emperors of Vijayanagar Western Andhra with base at Kurnool. 1325- ?
Ariyseti Annamantri Surviving general of the erstwhile Kakatiya kingdom. Coastal Andhra 1325-?
Kolani Prataparudradeva Surviving general of the erstwhile Kakatiya kingdom. Coastal Andhra 1325-?
Racherla Singama Nayaka, Founder of the Velama kingdom of Rachakonda. Telangana 1325-1361
Ekramnath Sambuvararaya Ruler of Rajgambhira rajyam Headquarters at Kanchipuram. Kingdom comprised of  North Arcot district in Tamil Nadu and parts of Chittor district in Andhra Pradesh. 1325- ?

                 Table  6‑0‑1 The Main Leaders of the War of Independence

 

The below table gives the main opponents of the Hindus in the Deccan and the south:

The Hindu Confederacy Their Tughlaq Opponents
1.Veera Ballala III2.Kapaya Nayaka and 75 Nayakas’s

3.Prolaya Nayaka

4.Somadeva

5.Ekramanth Sambuvararaya

6.Prolaya Vema Reddi

7.Racherla Singama Nayaka

8.Kolani Prataparudradeva

9.Ariyseti Annamantri

1. Mohammed Tughlaq, Sultan of Delhi.2. Malik Muhammad, governor of Kampili.

3. Malik Maqbul,governor of the Warangal division of Telanagana.

4. Shihab Sultani, governor of the Bidar division of Telangana.

5. Qutlugh Khan, governor of Devagiri (1335-1342).

6. Jalal-ud-din Ahsan Shah,kotwal of Madura

Table 6‑2  The chief opponents from the Hindu and the Muslim side.

6.1 The war of liberation in Karnataka

In Karnataka the core area around Mysore right upto Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu was in the hands of Veera Ballala III. By 1328 CE, he was back in action and directing operations against the Muslim garrisons ensconced in Tamil Nadu. In 1327 CE, the situation was made serious by Muhammad Tughlaq shifting his capital to Devagiri from Delhi. This put enormous Muslim armies dangerously close to the Hoysala capital of Dvarasamudra.

To check the danger emanating from the north, Veera Ballala entrusted the task of defending the Northern frontier of the Hoysala kingdom to the five Sangama brothers of which Harihara and Bukkaraya are the most famous.The Sangama brothers who were Mahamandaleswara’s (Provincial governors) later went on to establish the Vijayanagar empire.

As a further precaution, Veera Ballala had established three capitals: Dvarasamudra,Kundani and Tiruvannamalai.This enabled him to mount a mobile defence against the Islamic incursions from Devagiri in the North, as well as secure his rear against the Muslims in Madurai. Tiruvannamalai was bang on the main road which linked Madurai to the North. For nearly fifteen years (1328-1342 CE) this city was his base of operations against the Muslim garrisons in Tamil Nadu. In the region of Anegondi and Kampili ferocious battles raged to drive out the Muslims.

6.1.1 A comparison of the armies of Veera Ballala and Mohammed Tughlaq

What was the strength of the army of Veera Ballala? From Ibn Batutas account, in 1342 CE Veera Ballala had 1, 00,000 infantry and 20,000 Muslim mercenaries in his army. In 1328 CE it is difficult to gauge his military strength, but it must have been considerable to go up against Mohammed Tughlaq.

To get an idea of the impossible odds facing the Hindus here are some numbers for Muhammad Tughlaq’s army:

Component of army

Estimated numbers

Horsemen (cavalry)

9,00,000

War elephants

3000

Turkish Mamluks

2000

Spearmen

1000

Eunuchs (all armed)

10,000

Bashmaqdars ( a type of bodyguard)

1000

Slaves

2,00,000

 Table   6‑3 The strength of Muhammad Tughlaq’s army.

Out of the nine lakh horsemen, the bulk accompanied Tughlaq on his campaigns while the rest were posted in various provincial garrisons around the country. In addition he could raise large forces for temporary expeditions .e.g. sometime before 1333 CE he raised and maintained an army of 3,70,000 horsemen to support his invasion of Khorasan (in Iran).This had to be disbanded after a year due to maintenance costs running in crores of tankas ( the currency of the day).

6.2 The war in Andhra desa

The final battle of the Kakatiya kingdom took place near Rajamahendravaram in 1323 CE. The cream of the kshatriya’s of Andhra perished in this terrible battle against Mohammed Tughlaq’s forces. But within two years of this disaster the banner of freedom was unfurled by the Musunuri chief Prolaya Nayaka and his cousin Kapaya Nayaka. With their headquarters at Rekapalli, they gathered around them 75 Nayakas (military chiefs) of the erstwhile Kakatiya kingdom. Promiment amongst the seventy five Nayakas were Prolaya Vema Reddi, Kopplua Prolaya Nayaka, Recharla Singama Nayaka and Manchikonda Ganapati Nayaka. In this heroic endeavour they were joined by surviving generals of the Kakatiya’s such as Ariyeti Annamantri and Kolani Rudradeva.

Prolaya Nayaka revived the old endowments and patronised Vedic learning. He also restored those temples which suffered destruction at the hands of the Islamic invaders. This liberating army of the Hindus moved swiftly and by 1328 CE coastal Andhra was liberated from the clutches of the Muslims. In western Andhra by 1329 CE they were joined by the Chalukya prince Somadeva, who from his base in Kondanavolu (Kurnool) launched attacks on the Muslim garrisons in the Bellary and Rayalseema regions. After fierce fighting, he retook the forts of Anegondi,Mudgal,Musalimadugu,Satanikota,Etagiri,Kunti and Sara. In concert with him, Veera Ballala attacked Kampili. Malik Muhammad the Tughlaq governor of Kampili was now facing simultaneous attacks from Somadeva and Veera Ballala. Somadeva defeated Malik Muhammad in a series of battles and managed to capture him along with his 6000 cavalry. However Muhammad managed to secure his freedom by making false promises.

By 1333 CE the position of the Muslims in Andhra had become precarious. The survivors retreated to Warangal which was under Malik Maqbul. At the same tine in 1335 CE, Muhammad Tughlaq descended into the Deccan to subdue the revolt of Jalal-ad-din Ahsan Shah (the kotwal of Madurai). Ahsan Shah had declared himself as an independent Sultan of Madura and minted coins in his own name. When Tughlaq was encamped in Warangal (or Bidar as per another account) a plague struck the city of Warangal .A majority of the Hindu population of that city perished along with a great part of Muhammad Tughlaqs army. Many seniors Malik’s and Amirs also perished due to the plague. Muhammad Tughlaq himself was taken sick and had to beat a hasty retreat. Ahsan Shah was left to his own devices in Madurai.

By 1336 CE the stage was clear for the liberation of Warangal. Like a hurricane Kapaya Nayaka swept into Telangana and liberated Warangal in 1336 CE. In this he was aided by Veera Ballala who sent forces to reinforce Kapaya. Warangal the declared as the capital of the short lived but glorious Musunuri kingdom. In Kondavidu, Prolaya Vema Reddi began to lay the foundations of the kingdom of the Reddi’s.

6.3  A bird’s eye view of the Scene at Delhi…

The period from 1325 CE   onwards was one of a general collapse of the Delhi sultanate. Till his death in 1351 CE Muhammad Tughlaq was constantly running from one end of his  short lived empire to the other, constantly fighting rebellions and uprisings. By 1336 CE the major part of South India was back in Hindu hands. The only aberration was the Sultanate of Madurai in Tamil Nadu.

Like the rule of other Muslim sultans, Muhammad Tughlaq’s rule was marked by extortionate taxation and oppression of the Hindu’s. The years from 1325 to 1340  CE were of one long famine in North India, especially in the Doab region of Uttar Pradesh. The doab region is one of the most fertile regions in India. Muhammad Tughlaqs oppressive policies had exacerbated the drought into a deadly famine. Hindus abandoned their lands and fled into the safety of the jungles. For this Muhammad Tughlaq organised hunts to kill them like wild animals. The decision to move the capital of the Sultanate to Devagiri in 1327 CE was dictated by many factors:

i. Primary amongst them was to check the wave of Hindu resurgence sweeping South India. Far flung places like Madurai were six months march from Delhi. Devagiri had the advantage in being centrally located and within striking range of the main centres of the liberation struggle i.e. Karnataka and Andhra.

ii. The famine in the countryside  had finally affected Delhi, as the supplies of corn into the city were disrupted by chaos in the countryside.To ease the  suffering of the Muslims in Delhi ,Mohammed Tughlaq ordered the evacuation of the Muslim residents of Delhi to prosperous Devagiri. The fact that it was exclusively the Muslim population that was transferred is indicated in the sources. Delhi had become a parasitical city whose prosperity depended on the exploitation of the Hindu countryside.

iii. The threat of Mongol invasions still loomed over Delhi. The geographical location of Delhi makes it inherently vulnerable to a straight thrust from the side of the Punjab. Once the buffer of Punjab is gone it is only a matter of time before the invader reaches Delhi. (As a side note: Punjab during this time was decimated by the rapacious policies of the  Delhi Sultans and the ravages of the Mongol invasions . During this period i.e. 1328 CE, famines stalked Punjab and the rivers changed their courses leading to thousands of people perishing in the ensuing cataclysmic floods.)

In 1329 CE the Mongol ruler Tarmashirin swept over  Delhi. At this crucial juncture most of the officers of the Tughlaq administration were in Devagiri. Mohammed Tughlaq had to buy Tarmashirin off with a huge bribe which nearly emptied the treasury. To make up for the bankrupt state Mohammed Tughlaq issued copper coins thus effectively devaluing the currency. This led to large scale forgeries and the hoarding of gold and silver by the people.

By 1333 CE rebellions had broken out all over the Tughlaq empire. The most pertinent for us is the declaration of indepence by the Jalal-ud-din Ahsan Shah; the kotwal of Madurai in 1335 CE.

The heroism of Veera Ballala, the tenacious bravery of Kapaya Nayaka,the foundation of the Vijayanagar empire, its life and death struggle against the Bahmani Sultanate and the Sultanate of Madurai will form the ensuing chapters.

 

References:

1. Vijayanagar,Never to be Forgotten Empire; Suryanarayan Row.

2. The Qarnuah Turks, Ishwari Prasad.

3.South India and her Muhammadan invaders; S.K.Aiyangar.

4.The History of the Reddi Kingdoms; Malampalli Somasekhara Sarma.

5. Prof.N.Venkataramanayya’s articles in Vijayanagar history in Itihaas, the journal of Andhra Pradesh State Archives,vol II,no.2,1975, Prolegomena to the Study of Vijayanagar.

6. Social and Political Life in the Vijayanagara Empire, B.A.Saletore,Vol I & II

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