Jambudveep's Blog

March 10, 2013

Sources of Indian History

Filed under: History — Yogeshwar Shastri @ 4:51 pm
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I am writing this post in response to a blog readers request for original  sources of historical information from the Dharmic fold.At this stage it is simply a haphazard collection of  what little I know.However over time I will give it form and structure,so that it becomes a kind of ready e recokner.I will be updating this regularly.

Excessive reliance on biased and bigoted narrative of Islamic historians has led to a skewed and wrong understanding of our history.Added to this is the air-brushing conducted by the establishment in India.Even amongst the Islamic sources the knowledge pool comes from a select collection of published manuscripts.The same lies are repeated ad nauseum.

My recommendations to anyone wishing to delve deeper into primary sources are :

1. Build up a knowledge of languages of the subject you wish to study. For e.g.this could be old gujarati,prakrit,Sanskrit etc. To uncover the truth one should have the readiness to go all the way.You should be in a postion to judge wether the translation is true to the original or does it introduce distortions to the understanding of the original manuscript/inscription.

2. Have a barebones knowledge of the conventionaly accepted timelines and be ready to throw them out of the window.During your research you will most likely come across an anamolous fact that flies in the face of the existing narrative.Dont ignore it,delve deeper and if required reconfigure your understanding of our history.

3. Your search should be for the truth.Nothing more,nothing less.

 

I know some readers of my blog are pretty well versed in history of North/Western India.I would request them to add more information,which I will append here (with credits to the poster).

Sources of  the history of Uttarapatha  & Lata ( North India and Gujarat)

My knowledge of  the history of North and Western India is barebones at the best.However I will give sources as I come across them.

1. Prabandha : Prabandha’s are medieval mahakavya’s ( epic poems) authored by Jaina monks.These are written in Prakrit,Sanskrit and old Gujarati/Rajasthani.These are an invaluable source of  Dharmic history.Some of the famous ones are

i. Prabandhachintamani of Merutunga,

ii. Kanhadade Prabandha : This was  transalted by Prof. V.S. Bhatnagar and published by Aditya prakashan. It  describes the epic battles of  Kanhadeva Songara, the ruler of Jalor against Ala-ud-din Khilji.The devastation of  Lata at the hands of the Islamic hordes is described in detail.

The biggest repositories of  these works are in Gujarat and Rajasthan.They are in Jaina bhandara’s (manuscript collections),Indological institutes ( L.D.Institute of Indology in Ahmedabad,Rajasthan Oriental Research Institute,Oriental Institute at Baroda etc).

 

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

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

December 2, 2012

Rethinking our concept of Bharatiya history : The case of the Yadava’s of Devagiri

While flipping through the pages of a book on inscriptions found in Andhra Pradesh, I came across two interesting inscriptions which give a jolt to certain notions I had about the Seuna Yadava rulers of Devagiri. These raise a lot of questions regarding the kind of history we are taught in our schools and colleges.

 

1.A little background…

But I will digress here for a bit to give a brief background on the subject. Devagiri (modern day Daulatabad fort and its surroundings) was the seat of power of the Yadava rulers who ruled most of present day Maharashtra from 1173 to 1317 CE.It was a prosperous kingdom and a golden age in the history of Maharashtra. The conventional view of how the Yadavas of Devagiri fell to the Islamic onslaught is briefly like this:

In 1297 CE, Ala-ud-din Khilji conducted a surprise raid on Devagiri with a small cavalry based force. After defeating intital resistance near Baglana he besieged the capital itself. The Yadava king Ramachandra Deva had to shut himself in the fort as there were very few troops at hand.Most of the army was campaigning under his son Simghana down South against Veera Ballala III.On hearing of the Muslim attack Simghana rushed back to his fathers aid with a force of 20,000 soldiers.They are almost on the verge of finishing Khilji off when Ala-ud-dins reinfoircements arrive.Thinking that the entire Delhi army is attacking the Yadava army breaks and is defeated.Ramachandra has to empty his treasury and give his daughter in marriage to Ala-ud-din.Gradually the kingdom loses its independence till the last ember of freedom is extinguished by Qutb-ud-din Mubarak Khilji in 1317 CE.The entire royal family of the Yadavas is massacred and Haripala Deva (the son in law of Ramachandra Deva) is skinned alive and hung from the gates of Devagiri fort.

The inferences drawn from the above account are :

1. The Yadavas were utterly incompetent in matters of intelligence and their communication system was flawed. Otherwise how could Ala-ud-din penetrate right upto the capital without being detected?

2. They were so busy fighting senseless wars with their Hoysala and Kakatiya neighbours that they  lost sight of the Islamic monster looming in the horizon.

To my mind something was missing from the narrative. It did not gel that a powerful kingdom which excelled in every sphere of life (arts, culture, music etc) could be so blind to the intentions of the Islamic vandals who had entrenched themselves at Delhi for over a hundred years.

 

2.The Panagallu Inscription of Sarangapanideva

The inscription I talked about earlier is by Sarangapanideva,a son of the Yadava ruler Simghana I who ruled Devagiri from 1200-1247 CE.For unknown reasons this prince had migrated to Wrangal and was made administrator of the Panumganti sthala (area) by the kakatiya king Rudradeva.Theinscription records a gift of wet land to the temple of Chhaya Someshwara.The most intresting aspects of the inscription are some of the titles assigned to Sarangapanideva:

i.Prarajya-rajya-Turuhkopaplavamedini-Samuddharana : which means “ protector of the great kingdom from the trouble of the Turushka (Muslim) armies.”

ii. Gurjararaya-varana-ankusa : which means the ankush (controller) of the king of Gurjara desa.

iii.Malaviya-mana-mardana : Destroyer of the rpide of the Malavas (Malwa,central India).

iv. Gambhira-abhira-prachanda : Very ferocious for the yadavas (cow herds).

The government epigraphist has mentioned that Sarangapanideva probably inherited these titles from his father Simghana I as in an inscription found near Dharwad Simghana I has nearly the same epithets.

Additionally there is one more epithet found in the Dharwad inscription of Simghana I  dated from 1239 CE : “Turushka kopa pralaya maharnava magna medini samuddharana maha varaha.” Which means “incarnation of Lord Vishnu (in his varaha avatar) in lifting the earth from the deluge of the muslims.”

3.Inferences drawn from the inscriptions

The most obvious inference is that Simghana I ( and probably his sons) crossed swords with the Islamic jihadis pouring out from Delhi and defeated them. Their most likely adversary was Shams-ud-din Iltutmish  who ruled over the Delhi sultanate from 1211-1236 CE. There is no record of the Islamic hordes having crossed the Vindhyas at this early date. This means that Simghana I  most likely battered the Islamic armies in central India and Gujarat.In this period the Chaulukyas of Gujarat were actively assisting the survivors of Prithviraj Chauhan’s Ajmer kingdom in their freedom struggle. The inclusion of Malwa and Gurjara regions in the titles indicates that Simghana assisted these regions in throwing back the muslim offensive or defeated the muslims in his campaigns against these regions.

This militates against the view that the Yadavas sealed themselves off from the events overtaking northern India.

4.Questions raised by the inscriptions

1. Why was Devagiri unable to muster resources to fight the Islamic offensive? In previous decades it had clearly taken the offensive to the muslims, what happened in a fifty year period that sapped its aggressiveness?

2.Was there a natural calamity such as a long drought followed by famine that dimished the resources of the kingdom?

3.The fact that the Seuna Yadava’s could mount offensives beyond the Vindhya mountains indicates that they had some kind of an intelligence and communications system. Did it break down by 1297 CE? If so for what reasons?

4. The period from the 1290’s onwards was one in which the Islamic offensive of the Delhi sultanate gained new power and many large Hindu kingdoms ceased to exist by the 1320’s.This included Gujarat,Devagiri,Jalor,Ranthambor etc. Is there something we are not seeing in this pattern of collapse?

November 28, 2012

Map of Vijayanagar Empire,circa 1350 CE

This map is a small demo of what can be done with the blank template map that was traced out as part of the Historical Map of India project.

The political situation in South India and greater part of Maharashtra during 1350 CE has been shown on the map.It still needs a lot of work regaridng correction of boundaries,showing smaller principalities,correction of place names etc etc.But to visualise what the political topography of South India was in the middle of the 14th century this will be useful aid.

This is only one of a series of maps.It can be used to depict battles,movement of troops etc.

Comments and feedback welcome.

November 19, 2012

Bukkaraya, Part II

This article is continued from part I.

3.Achievements’ of Bukkaraya I

3.1 Destruction of the sultanate of Madurai

As we have seen before the annihilation of the Madurai sultanate was essential to secure the rear of the newly created empire of Vijayanagara.It was also essential to succsefully defend against yhe Bahmani jihad from the north of the river Krishna.Bukkaraya moved with decisive speed and despatched his elder son Kamparaya to uproot the foothold which the Islamic jihadi’s had gained in the deep south of India.The unstructions given by Bukkaraya were clear and unambiguous as shown in this verse in the Madhuravijayam:

When all the forest kings are defeated then defeating the Muslim king will not be diffuclt for you.When hundreds of branches of a tree are burnt by the forest fire,is it possible that the tree trunk will not burn?” Verse 11, Eighth Canto, Madhuravijayam.

From the evidence given in the madhuravijyam it is clear that the Chola and Pandya kings who had been dispossessed by the Sultanate and its allies had taken shelter at Vijayanagar court.Madhuravijyam also hints at the fact that the kings of kerala were tributaries to Bukkaraya.

Reinforced by their allies, the Vijayanagar army issued forth from the capital city like a raging torrent.The days of the adhramic Islamic sultanate were numbered now.

“ The army which looked like the grand confluence of seven oceans began its orderly march with great uproar.” Verse 44, Fourth Canto, Madhuravijayam.

With lightening rapidity Kamparaya’s forces reached Mulbagal in a matter of six days. From Mulbagal they swept down into Tamil country and faced off the Champaraju on the Southern bank of the river Palar near Kanchipuram. In the climactic battle Champaraju’s army was shattered and he was forced to seek shelter in the fortress of Rajgambhiranmalai. Besieged and with no succor in sight Champaraju sallied forth from his stronghold and met Kamparaya in single combat, in which he met his doom at the hands of  Kamparaya. After stabilizing the anarchic condition in the erstwhile Champaraju kingdom, Kamparaya moved to attack Madurai.

In this expedition he was accompanied by his Brahaman general Gopanarya (Gopanna),Saluva Mangu (who moved down from Udayagiri) and his chief minister Someya Dannayaka.The strike force under Gopana destroyed the forward Muslim garrison at Samayavarm. Srirnagam was liberated and the idol of Sri Ranganatha was reconscreated in the temple which had suffered terrible damage under the Islamic vandals. The temple of Hoysalesvara at Kannanur had been dismantled by  Muslims right upto its foundations and a mosque constructed in its place. The mosque was torn down and worship restored in the temple.

For the Madurai sultanate the end game was in sight. Kamparaya fought the muslims in a ferocious battle outside Madurai.The ferocity of the fighting is illustrated in these verses from the Madhuravijayam :

The soldiers of Kamparaya with anger ( caused by the enemies evil deeds) avoiding the shower of enemy arrows with their shields,moved unobserved and simultaneously hacked the bodies of enemy horses along with their riders.” Verse 1, Ninth Canto, Madhuravijayam.

The bow men severed the trunks of enemy elephants with half moon faced arrows.They (trunks of elephants) fell down into pools of blood like serpents in the sacrificial fire of King Janmejaya.” Verse 3, Ninth Canto, Madhuravijayam.

In the hotly contested battle nearly all the Muslim commanders were killed. in desperation the Muslim sultan attacks Kamparaya and is beheaded in the ensuing encounter. Thus curtains came down on one of the darkest chapters of Indian history. For the first time in Indian history a blood thirsty sultanate was uprooted root and branch and no trace of it left, except for odd coins discovered by numismatists centuries down the road.

3.1.2 Who was the sultan and when did this war take place?

The dates for the existence and destruction of the Madurai sultanate vary widely. This is natural given the paucity of evidence and inscriptional data which can be extremely confusing. The dates for the Madurai war range from 1352 to 1371 CE, a wide range of nearly twenty years. Thus if the foundation of the Madurai sultanate is dated to 1333 CE, it could have lasted anywhere from twenty to forty years depending on which scholars argument you accept.

The table below briefly summarizes the range of dates put forward by various scholars:

Name of Scholar Proposed date for the Madurai war Possible Ruling Sultan
Dr.S.K.Iyengar

prior to 1358 CE

Naziruddin Mohammed Shah (1342-1352 CE)
K.A.N Sastri

around 1364 CE

Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah*(1359-1368 CE)
T.V.S Pandarattar

1364 CE

Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah*(1359-1368 CE)
Dr.T.V.Mahalingam

1361-1363 CE

Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah*(1359-1368 CE)
Father Heras

1377 CE

Alauddin Sikandar Shah*
V. Rangachari

1365-1371 CE

Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah*,Qurbat Hasan Kangu*
Hayavadana Rao

1371 CE

Qurbat Hasan Kangu*
K.R Venkataramana Iyer

1371 CE

Qurbat Hasan Kangu*
 Prof.N.Venkataramanaya war in two phases 1370-71 and

final resolution in 1378

1.Qurbat Hasan Kangu2. Alauddin Sikandar Shah*
Dr.A.Krishnaswami

1371 CE

Fakhruddin Mubarak Shah*
Dr.B.A Saletore

1371 CE

1.Qurbat Hasan Kangu2. Alauddin Sikandar Shah*

3.2 Defeat of the Bahmani Jihad

The Bahmani sultan  Ala-ud-din Hasan Kangu launched a major invasion in 1355-1357 CE which was successfully beaten off by Bukkaraya. The shock of the defeat and near continuous warfare with Vijayanagar virtually emptied the Bahmani treasury. On Ala-ud-din’s death in 1359 CE,his son Muhammad I found himself broke and unable to mount a credible attack against Vijayanagar. The danger of Firoze Shah Tughlaq (Sultan of Delhi) mounting an attack to recover his brothers conquests in the Deccan also loomed large.  Muhammad packed off his mother with a large bribe of gold coins to the Sharif of Mecca and the impotent Abbasid caliph living in Egypt.

At this point in 1360 CE both Bukkaraya and Kapaya Nayaka of Warangal were breathing down his neck. With the tinkle of gold in his hands the Abbaisid caliph promptly issued a farman asking Feroze Tughlaq to desist from attacking the Bahmani kingdom.The farman of an impotent and powerless figurehead from the middle east was enough to convince Firoze Tughlaq to issue an assurance of non-aggression to Muhammad I. This a typical example of the mentality of Muslims in India even today where everything from the Arab world is greater than the land they live in.

Assured of safety on his northern borders Muhammad promptly launched a vicious jihad in 1361 CE  against Kapaya Nayaka and Vijayanagar who were allies. On both fronts he had to suffer serious reverses. Kapaya Nayaka’s son Nagadeva captured the fort of Kaulas. Bukkaraya reinforced Kapaya Nayaka with 20,000 cavalry and a large force of infantry. The Bahmani forces had to face a humiliating defeat and the situation was so uncertain for the Bahmani’s that rumors spread of Muhammad death on the battlefield. At the end of the war Bukkaraya forced the jihadi Muhammad to agree to the following terms :

i. The river Krishna was recognized as the boundary between Vijayanagar and the Bahmani sultanate.

ii. Prisoners of war on both sides were to be set free.

iii. In future wars women and children would not be harmed and would be treated with respect.

iv. The forts of Raichur and Mudgal to be jointly controlled.

The terms of the treaty clearly indicate that the Bahmani’s had received a drubbing at the hands of Vijayanagar. This war was notable for the fact that firearms including cannons and muskets were employed by both sides.

3.3 Restoration of a traumatised society

For his untiring efforts in healing the scars inflicted on Hindu society, Bukkaraya was given the title  “ Vedamarga Prasthapika” ie the re-establisher of the Vedas. His patronage revived the old systems of learning which had fallen into decay in a half century of warfare.An extremely tolerant ruler he mediated between various sects such as the Jainas and Srivaisnava’s extracting promises that they would respect each other.

It was but natural that the arts, sciences and literature would flourish under the protection of the sword wall erected by Bukkaraya.To quote from Dr.Krishnaswami’s book “ Tamil Country under Vijayanagar”,

“ The rulers of Vijayanagar restored worship in the temples, repaired old temples and towers, settled disputes amongst the temple servants and made extensive endowments in the shape of jewels,lands,taxes and other income.”

He also constructed extensive water management projects the most significant of which was the reservoir of Bukkasamudram. The old water dams, bridges etc which had fallen into ruins due to the Muslim depredations were repaired and restored. Taxes were reduced keeping in view the strained circumstances of the land.

Goa which was under the Kadamba kings came under incessant attack by the Bahmani jihadis. Under Bukkaraya the Islamic invaders were pushed out and Goa was recovered.

This great defender of Dharma breathed his last on 24th February 1377 after a glorious reign of more than twenty years.

References

1.Tamil Country under Vijayanagar rule, Dr.A.Krishnaswami,Annamalai University,1964.

2.Social and Political Life in the Vijayanagara Empire, B.A.Saletore,Vola I & II. (both are available for free download here).

3. Original translation of Madhuravijyam, to be published by Sriyogi Publications in 2013.

4.Madhuravijyam,English translation by Prof.Tiruvenkatachari,Madras University,1959.

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.

* These names have been solely based on numismatic evidence, they are not backed up by either inscriptional or literary sources. Prof. N.Venkataramanaya has correctly called into question the validity of taking these names and dates for granted solely based on the evidence of coins.

November 16, 2012

Historical Map of India project : Cities of Vijayanagar Empire

Updated map with most cities of the Vijayanagar empire + Bahmani sultanate.Would be useful for anyone mapping history of Vijayanagar.Project  was dormant ofr a long time.As you will see the map will need to be cleaned up further (which I will sooner rather than later).

August 22, 2012

Bukkaraya,Part I

This is the first part of a two part series on the Vijayanagar emperor Bukkaraya I.

I have taken the liberty of not quoting references as it tends to become time consuming.But most of them can be found quite easily.The translation of verses from the Madhuravijayam is from an original translation being done by my parents, which I plan to being out sometime this year.If you are interested in  buying the book as and when it comes out please do send me a message.

Bukkaraya, Part -I

He (Bukkaraya) was the first among all kings , just as Adisesa  is among snakes, Himalaya is amongst the mountains and Lord Vishnu is amongst the gods.” verse 27, First Canto, Madhuravijayam.

Such was the greatness of Bukkaraya that he is compared to Lord Vishnu who delivered the earth from adhrama. Bukkaraya was the  second emperor of the glorious Vijayanagar empire, ruling from 1357-1377 CE .The first ruler of which was his elder brother Harihara I. In popular folklore these two brothers have been immortalised as Hakka-Bukka. There were actually five brothers in all, better known as the Sangama brothers. It was due to his herculean efforts that that the wave of Islamic jihad broke on the banks of the Krishna and a badly wounded Hindu society was nursed back to health.It would be worth adding that without the divine guidance of seers like Vidyaranya and Kriyashakti who guided the Sangama brothers ,the successful fight back would not have been possible.

To see the greatness of Bukkaraya in the correct perspective it is essential to have a little understanding of the challenges faced by him and his achievements in overcoming them.

1.1   Some Years before…

In the early 1300’s the marauding hordes of the Islamic barbarians led by Malik Kafur had penetrated into the Deccan and as far as Tamil Nadu.Soon afterwards in the 1320’s came the wave of the Tughlaq invasions which swamped the southern kingdoms. For a while the fate of the Dharma hung in balance. The Yadavas of Devagiri were wiped out, the Kakatiya’s of Warangal were gone and the Pandyas of Tamil Nadu vanquished as well.The only Hindu kingdom left fighting was that of the Hoysalas led by Veera Ballala III. It seemed certain that the  terrible disaster which had convulsed Northern India after Prithviraj Chauhan’s death in 1192 CE would be repeated in the South.

But things were destined differently. A ferocious fight back began all over South India. By 1336 CE the rollback of the Tughlaq invasions from most of South of India had been accomplished by a confederation of Hindu Kings and commanders. Notable among them were Prolaya Vema who liberated large parts of  Andhra Pradesh, the Chalukya prince Someshwara who ousted the tyrannical muslim governors from parts of Karnataka and the great Hoysala King Veera Ballala III who liberated large parts of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.In this great war of independence to which only the twenty seven years of ferocious warfare waged by the Maratha people against the Mughals can be compared, there was complete participation of every segment of South Indian society.From a reading of various sources it seems likely that the Sangama brothers were feudatories of  Veera Ballala III. This explains why Veera Ballala had the confidence to attack the murderous sultans of Madurai with the main component of his army in 1342 CE, as the Sangama brothers were securing his northern frontiers against an attack by the Muslim forces from Devagiri. And by 1346 CE the construction of the magnificent capital of the empire later known as Vijayanagar was nearly complete.

2.The Challenges faced by Bukkaraya

2.1. The Bahmani and the Madurai Sultanates

The sultanate of Madurai was established around 1333 CE by Jalal-ud-din Ahsan Shah, the governor of Madurai. His rebellion was amongst the first of a long revolts by governors of Muhammad Tughlaq all over India which eventually led to the disintegration of  Tughlaq empire.

Veera Ballala III was engaged in near constant warfare with this genocidal regime in desperate attempts to destroy it and liberate the deep south. He was over eighty years old at this time met a tragic end in 1342 CE at the hands of  Ghiyas-ud-din Damghan Shah, a successor of Ahsan Shah.. This great defender of Dharma was captured in the decisive battle of Kannur-Koppam  and skinned alive by the blood thirsty Ghiyas-ud-din. His brutal murder was a great setback to the liberation of the deep south, as it was essential to secure the rear before the Muslims from the North launched a fresh offensive.

The region from the south of river Coleroon right till Rameshwaram was in the hands of the Sultanate of Madurai. With their capital at Madurai the so called “Sultans” had their paws on the rich trading routes of Asia via the flourishing ports on the Tamil Nadu coastline.The ports were a source of not only trade but also the entry point for Islamic jihadis arriving from West Asia and Africa.The most fertile region of the south was under their control.This allowed to Sultanate to field resources to fend off larger enemies like the Hoysalas. It was upto Bukkaraya I to remove this vicious dagger sticking in the back of the fledgling empire. The terrible atrocities carried out by the Sultans of Madurai were recorded by Gangadevi in her epic poem Madhuravijyam. I am presenting a few verses which give graphic details of the tyranny of these animals.

I am pained by seeing the beautiful groves of Madura where the coconut trees have been  cut down and in their place are to be seen rows of iron spikes hanging with garlands of crores of human skulls.” Verse 8, Eighth Canto, Madhuravijayam.

In Madura the kings courtyards which were very cool by sprinkling the camphor and sandal waters are now polluted by the imprisoned Brahmins tears ,I am distressed seeing that.” Verse 11, Eighth Canto, Madhuravijayam.

Ibn Battuta was also  witness to the blood thirsty nature of these tyrants.He says,

the Hindu prisoners were divided into four sections and taken to each of the four gates of the great catcar. There, on the stakes they had carried, the prisoners were impaled. Afterwards their wives were killed and tied by their hair to these pales. Little children were massacred on the bosoms of their mothers and their corpses left there. Then, the camp was raised, and they started cutting down the trees of another forest. In the same manner did they treat their later Hindu prisoners. This is shameful conduct such as I have not known any other sovereign guilty of. It is for this that God hastened the death of Ghiyath-eddin.”

The Madurai sultanate was not without its allies. The ruler of Kanchipuram was Champaraju,also known as Sambuvaraya by  historians. The region of North and South Arcot districts and parts of Chittor  district were included in his kingdom. He was an ally of the Madurai sultanate and this is hinted to in the Madhuravijyam wherein the Sultan is referred as the tree and Chamapraju as the branches. Thus there was a buffer region which had to be overcome before the Muslims in Madurai could be disposed off.

The Bahmani Sultanate : A new danger had arisen in the Deccan. On 3rd August 1347 at Gulbarga in Karnataka, Hasan Kangu proclaimed himself Sultan Abu’l Muzzafar Ala-ud-din Bahman Shah. The foundation of the Bahamani sultanate with its epicentre at Gulbarga marked the start of a bloody epoch in the history of the Hindus. The Bahmani sultanate was no less genocidal than the Madurai one.Large parts of Maharashtra were depopulated under the “secular” rule of the Bahmanis. The Bahmanis particularly after 1357 CE were engaged in aggressive campaigns of attacking Goa (which was under the Kadamba kings, who were tributaries of Vijayanagar), Telangana and the dominions of Vijayanagar proper around the Krishna river.

Bukkaraya had to  fight against enemies in the front and in the rear. Both the Muslim sultanates coordinated with each other in the attacks against the Vijayanagar empire. In fact one of the sultans of Madurai was a relation of the first Bahmani sultan. As witnessed by Ibn Batutta the Madurai sultans used to conduct regular devastating raids into the Tamil countryside.

2.2  Anarchy in society

The damage to the fabric of society was the most serious havoc wrought by the Islamic invaders. The waves of destructive invasions and the establishment of  Muslim rule in parts of South India had destroyed the traditional ways of living.The large scale sack and destruction of temples by the Islamic fanatics had left a large vacuum in rural and urban society.Hindu society has traditionally been decentralised and village based.In the villages the temples acted as the employer, land holder,bank, hospital, consumer of local goods and services etc. Thus to the muslims what was an easy source of plunder was the life blood to the common man.With the destruction of the temple the anchor which held together communities was effectively broken. The plight of the temples is well illustrated by this verse from the Madhuravijyam.

The state of the temple is such that the spiders are weaving their fine cobwebs, wild elephants rub their heads against the walls and lord Shiva himself is bereft of caretakers.” Verse 3, Eighth Canto, Madhuravijayam.

Added to these there was no security for the common Hindu as the Muslims engaged in wanton raping and killing. The slavery of the Hindus was big business for the Muslim sultanates. Brahmana’s were especially targeted as they were viewed to be the intellectual bastion of resistance against the Muslims (This strategy of targeting them was and is being used by Christian missionaries and other anti national forces).Atrocious taxation measures adopted by the Sultans were designed to fleece every single penny from the Hindus.

2.3 Damage to Infrastructure 

  In the scorched earth  warfare tactics practised by the Muslims the traditional water management systems such as tanks, bunds, canals, dams and bridges were the prime casualities. Not being endowed with any quality other than barbarity they neither had the will nor the expertise to repair the extensive damage caused by them. Agriculture which was  completely dependent on timely rains and in case the rains failed these water management systems were the fall back option. With their destruction droughts inevitably turned into catastrophic famines, as the stores of grains were requisitioned by the Muslim tyrants without any reciprocal relaxation in the taxation.

Compounding the woes of the Hindus was the serious drop  in the monsoon rains. The period from 1300s to 1500’s was the little ice age which was accompanied by serious droughts in India. Large scale famines which carried off lakhs of Hindus were a regular occurrence, one of the more serious ones being the famine of 1337-1344 CE which depopulated large parts of Northern India (which were fortunate to be under Muslim rule). We again turn to the Madhuravijayam for an eye witness view of the Muslims vandalism and the resulting famines.

At present the river Kaveri breaking her traditional course is flowing in wrong directions.It seems that she is imitating the Tulushkas by flowing in all wrong directions.” Verse 6, Eighth Canto, Madhuravijayam.

Unlike earlier times the earth no longer produces wealth, Indra does not give timely rains and the god of Death carries away the survivors left alive after the massacres by the yavanas.” Verse 14, Eighth Canto, Madhuravijayam.

The above verse refers to the plague that was ravaging Madura in the 1340’s.

 

The article is continued in Part II.

February 6, 2012

First day cover of Sri Krishnadevaraya,with information sheet

Filed under: Philately,Vijayanagar — Yogeshwar Shastri @ 1:26 pm
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February 4, 2012

Two Books on Vijayanagar Empire : Vyasayogi Caritam and Founders of Vijayanagar

On request follwing two books relating to Vijayanagar history and its foundation.

1.Founders of Vijayanagar

2.Vyasayogi charitam

 

Vyasayogi Caritam is a sanskrit poem written between the 15-16 Centuries on the great Madhva scholar Vyasaraya.It has an exhaustive historical forward as well.

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