Jambudveep's Blog

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.

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.

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