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Chalukya dynasty

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(Subordinate to Kadamba Dynasty until 543) 543–753 Extent of Badami Chalukya Empire, 636 CE, 740 CE Capital Badami Languages Kannada
Sanskrit Religion Hinduism
Jainism Government Monarchy Maharaja  •  543–566 Pulakeshin I  •  746–753 Kirtivarman II History  •  Earliest records 543  •  Established 543  •  Disestablished 753 Preceded by Succeeded by Kadamba dynasty Rashtrakuta dynasty Eastern Chalukyas Today part of   India Old Kannada inscription of Chalukya King Mangalesha dated 578 CE at Badami cave temple no.3

The Chalukya dynasty ( [tʃaːɭukjə] ) was an Indian royal dynasty that ruled large parts of southern and central India between the 6th and the 12th centuries. During this period, they ruled as three related yet individual dynasties. The earliest dynasty, known as the "Badami Chalukyas", ruled from Vatapi (modern Badami) from the middle of the 6th century. The Badami Chalukyas began to assert their independence at the decline of the Kadamba kingdom of Banavasi and rapidly rose to prominence during the reign of Pulakeshin II. After the death of Pulakeshin II, the Eastern Chalukyas became an independent kingdom in the eastern Deccan. They ruled from Vengi until about the 11th century. In the western Deccan, the rise of the Rashtrakutas in the middle of the 8th century eclipsed the Chalukyas of Badami before being revived by their descendants, the Western Chalukyas, in the late 10th century. These Western Chalukyas ruled from Kalyani (modern Basavakalyan) until the end of the 12th century.

The rule of the Chalukyas marks an important milestone in the history of South India and a golden age in the history of Karnataka. The political atmosphere in South India shifted from smaller kingdoms to large empires with the ascendancy of Badami Chalukyas. A Southern India-based kingdom took control and consolidated the entire region between the Kaveri and the Narmada rivers. The rise of this empire saw the birth of efficient administration, overseas trade and commerce and the development of new style of architecture called "Chalukyan architecture". Kannada literature, which had enjoyed royal support in the 9th century Rashtrakuta court found eager patronage from the Western Chalukyas in the Jain and Veerashaiva traditions. The 11th century saw the birth of Telugu literature under the patronage of the Eastern Chalukyas.


Origins [ edit ]

Natives of Karnataka [ edit ]

Old Kannada inscription on victory pillar, Virupaksha Temple, Pattadakal, 733–745 CE

While opinions vary regarding the early origins of the Chalukyas, the consensus among noted historians such as John Keay, D.C. Sircar, Hans Raj, S. Sen, Kamath, K. V. Ramesh and Karmarkar is the founders of the empire at Badami were native to the modern Karnataka region. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11]

A theory that they were descendants of a 2nd-century chieftain called Kandachaliki Remmanaka, a feudatory of the Andhra Ikshvaku (from an Ikshvaku inscription of the 2nd century) was put forward. This according to Kamath has failed to explain the difference in lineage. The Kandachaliki feudatory call themselves Vashisthiputras of the Hiranyakagotra . The Chalukyas, however, address themselves as Harithiputras of Manavyasagotra in their inscriptions, which is the same lineage as their early overlords, the Kadambas of Banavasi. This makes them descendants of the Kadambas. The Chalukyas took control of the territory formerly ruled by the Kadambas. [12]

A later record of Eastern Chalukyas mentions the northern origin theory and claims one ruler of Ayodhya came south, defeated the Pallavas and married a Pallava princess. She had a child called Vijayaditya who is claimed to be the Pulakeshin I's father. However, according to the historians K. V. Ramesh, Chopra and Sastri, there are Badami Chalukya inscriptions that confirm Jayasimha was Pulakeshin I's grandfather and Ranaranga, his father. [13] [14] [15] [16] Kamath and Moraes claim it was a popular practice in the 11th century to link South Indian royal family lineage to a Northern kingdom. The Badami Chalukya records themselves are silent with regards to the Ayodhya origin. [17] [18]

While the northern origin theory has been dismissed by many historians, the epigraphist K. V. Ramesh has suggested that an earlier southern migration is a distinct possibility which needs examination. [19] According to him, the complete absence of any inscriptional reference of their family connections to Ayodhya, and their subsequent Kannadiga identity may have been due to their earlier migration into present day Karnataka region where they achieved success as chieftains and kings. Hence, the place of origin of their ancestors may have been of no significance to the kings of the empire who may have considered themselves natives of the Kannada speaking region. [11] The writing of 12th century Kashmiri poet Bilhana suggests the Chalukya family belonged to the Shudra caste while other sources claim they were Kshatriyas. [20]

The historians Jan Houben and Kamath, and the epigraphist D.C. Sircar note the Badami Chalukya inscriptions are in Kannada and Sanskrit. [21] [22] [23] According to the historian N. L. Rao, their inscriptions call them Karnatas and their names use indigenous Kannada titles such as Priyagallam and Noduttagelvom . The names of some Chalukya princes end with the pure Kannada term arasa (meaning "king" or "chief"). [24] [25] The Rashtrakuta inscriptions call the Chalukyas of Badami Karnatabala ("Power of Karnata"). It has been proposed by the historian S. C. Nandinath that the word "Chalukya" originated from Salki or Chalki which is a Kannada word for an agricultural implement. [26] [27]

Historical sources [ edit ]

Inscriptions in Sanskrit and Kannada are the main source of information about Badami Chalukya history. Among them, the Badami cave inscriptions of Mangalesha (578), Kappe Arabhatta record of c. 700, Peddavaduguru inscription of Pulakeshin II, the Kanchi Kailasanatha Temple inscription and Pattadakal Virupaksha Temple inscription of Vikramaditya II (all in Kannada language) provide more evidence of the Chalukya language. [28] [29] The Badami cliff inscription of Pulakeshin I (543), the Mahakuta Pillar inscription of Mangalesha (595) and the Aihole inscription of Pulakeshin II (634) are examples of important Sanskrit inscriptions written in old Kannada script. [30] [31] [32] The reign of the Chalukyas saw the arrival of Kannada as the predominant language of inscriptions along with Sanskrit, in areas of the Indian peninsula outside what is known as Tamilaham (Tamil country). [33] Several coins of the Badami Chalukyas with Kannada legends have been found. All this indicates that Kannada language flourished during this period. [34]

Travelogues of contemporary foreign travellers have provided useful information about the Chalukyan empire. The Chinese traveller Xuanzang had visited the court of Pulakeshin II. At the time of this visit, as mentioned in the Aihole record, Pulakeshin II had divided his empire into three Maharashtrakas or great provinces comprising 99,000 villages each. This empire possibly covered present day Karnataka, Maharashtra and coastal Konkan. [35] [36] Xuanzang, impressed with the governance of the empire observed that the benefits of the king's efficient administration was felt far and wide. Later, Persian emperor Khosrau II exchanged ambassadors with Pulakeshin II. [37] [38] [39]

Legends [ edit ]

Court poets of the Western Chalukya dynasty of Kalyani narrate:

"Once when Brahma, the creator, was engaged in the performance of the sandhya (twilight) rituals, Indra approached and beseeched him to create a hero who could put to an end the increasing evil on earth. On being thus requested, Brahma looked steadily into the Chuluka-jala (the water of oblation in his palm) and out sprang thence a great warrior, the progenitor of the Chalukyas". [40] The Chalukyas claimed to have been nursed by the Sapta Matrikas ("seven divine mothers") and were worshippers of many gods including Siva, Vishnu, Chamundi, Surya, Kubera, Parvati, Vinayaka and Kartikeya.

Some scholars connect the Chalukyas with the Chaulukyas (Solankis) of Gujarat. [41] According to a myth mentioned in latter manuscripts of Prithviraj Raso, Chaulukyas were born out of fire-pit (Agnikund) at Mount Abu. However it has been reported that the story of Agnikula is not mentioned at all in the original version of the Prithviraj Raso preserved in the Fort Library at Bikaner. [42]

According to the Nilagunda inscription of King Vikramaditya VI (11th century or later), the Chalukyas originally hailed from Ayodhya where fifty-nine kings ruled, and later, sixteen more of this family ruled from South India where they had migrated. This is repeated by his court poet Bilhana, who claims that the first member of the family, "Chalukya", was so named as he was born in the "hollow of the hands" of God Brahma. [43] [44]

According to a theory put forward by Lewis, the Chalukya were descendants of the "Seleukia" tribe of Iraq and that their conflict with the Pallava of Kanchi was, but a continuation of the conflict between ancient Seleukia and "Parthians", the proposed ancestors of Pallavas. However, this theory has been rejected by Kamath as it seeks to build lineages based simply on similar-sounding clan names. [45]

Periods in Chalukya history [ edit ]

Chalukya dynasties Badami Chalukyas Pulakeshin I 543–566 Kirtivarman I 566–597 Mangalesha 597–609 Pulakeshin II 609–642 Vikramaditya I 655–680 Vinayaditya 680–696 Vijayaditya 696–733 Vikramaditya II 733–746 Kirtivarman II 746–753 Vengi / Eastern Chalukyas Kubja Vishnuvardhana 624–641 Jayasimha I 641–673 Indra Bhattaraka 673 Vishnu Vardhana II 673–682 Mangi Yuvaraja 682–706 Jayasimha II 706–718 Kokkili 719 Vishnuvardhana III 719–755 Vijayaditya I 755–772 Vishnuvardhana IV 772–808 Vijayaditya II 808–847 Kali Vishnuvardhana V 847–849 Vijayaditya III 849–892 Chalukya Bhima I 892–921 Vijayaditya IV 921 Amma I 921–927 Beta Vijayaditya V 927 Tala I 927 Vikramaditya II 927–928 Bhima II 928 Yuddhamalla II 928–935 Chalukya Bhima II 935–947 Amma II 947–970 Tala I 970 Danarnava 970–973 Jata Choda Bhima 973–999 Shaktivarman I 1000–1011 Vimaladitya 1011–1018 Rajaraja Narendra 1019–1061 Vijayaditya VII Kalyani / Western Chalukyas Tailapa II 957–997 Satyashraya 997–1008 Vikramaditya V 1008–1015 Jayasimha II 1015–1042 Someshvara I 1042–1068 Someshvara II 1068–1076 Vikramaditya VI 1076–1126 Someshvara III 1126–1138 Jagadhekamalla II 1138–1151 Tailapa III 1151–1164 Jagadhekamalla III 1163–1183 Someshvara IV 1184–1200

The Chalukyas ruled over the Deccan plateau in India for over 600 years. During this period, they ruled as three closely related, but individual dynasties. These are the "Chalukyas of Badami" (also called "Early Chalukyas"), who ruled between the 6th and the 8th century, and the two sibling dynasties, the "Chalukyas of Kalyani" (also called Western Chalukyas or "Later Chalukyas") and the "Chalukyas of Vengi" (also called Eastern Chalukyas).

Chalukyas of Badami [ edit ]

Bhutanatha temple complex, at Badami

In the 6th century, with the decline of the Gupta dynasty and their immediate successors in northern India, major changes began to happen in the area south of the Vindyas – the Deccan and Tamilaham. The age of small kingdoms had given way to large empires in this region. [46] The Chalukya dynasty was established by Pulakeshin I in 543. [47] [48] [49] Pulakeshin I took Vatapi (modern Badami in Bagalkot district, Karnataka) under his control and made it his capital. Pulakeshin I and his descendants are referred to as "Chalukyas of Badami". They ruled over an empire that comprised the entire state of Karnataka and most of Andhra Pradesh in the Deccan.

Pulakeshin II, whose pre-coronation name was Ereya, [50] commanded control over the entire Deccan and is perhaps the most well-known emperor of the Badami dynasty. [51] [52] He is considered one of the notable kings in Indian history. [53] [54] [55] His queens were princess from the Alupa Dynasty of South Canara and the Western Ganga Dynasty of Talakad, clans with whom the Chalukyas maintained close family and marital relationships. [56] [57] Pulakeshin II extended the Chalukya Empire up to the northern extents of the Pallava kingdom and halted the southward march of Harsha by defeating him on the banks of the river Narmada. He then defeated the Vishnukundins in the south-eastern Deccan. [58] [59] [60] [61] Pallava Narasimhavarman however reversed this victory in 642 by attacking and occupying Badami temporarily. It is presumed Pulakeshin II, "the great hero", died fighting. [38] [62]

The Badami Chalukya dynasty went into a brief decline following the death of Pulakeshin II due to internal feuds when Badami was occupied by the Pallavas for a period of thirteen years. [63] [64] It recovered during the reign of Vikramaditya I, who succeeded in pushing the Pallavas out of Badami and restoring order to the empire. Vikramaditya I took the title "Rajamalla" ( lit "Sovereign of the Mallas " or Pallavas). [65] The thirty-seven year rule of Vijayaditya (696–733) was a prosperous one and is known for prolific temple building activity. [66] [67]

The empire was its peak again during the rule of the illustrious Vikramaditya II (733–744) who is known not only for his repeated invasions of the territory of Tondaimandalam and his subsequent victories over Pallava Nandivarman II, but also for his benevolence towards the people and the monuments of Kanchipuram, the Pallava capital. [66] [68] [69] He thus avenged the earlier humiliation of the Chalukyas by the Pallavas and engraved a Kannada inscription on the victory pillar at the Kailasanatha Temple. [68] [70] [71] During his reign Arab intruders of the Umayyad Caliphate invaded southern Gujarat which was under Chalukya rule but the Arabs were defeated and driven out by Pulakesi, a Chalukya governor of Navsari. [72] He later overran the other traditional kingdoms of Tamil country, the Pandyas, the Cholas and the Cheras in addition to subduing a Kalabhra ruler. [73] The last Chalukya king, Kirtivarman II, was overthrown by the Rashtrakuta King Dantidurga in 753. [74] At their peak, the Chalukyas ruled a vast empire stretching from the Kaveri in the south to the Narmada in the north.

Chalukyas of Kalyani [ edit ]

Main article: Western Chalukya Empire

The Chalukyas revived their fortunes in 973 after over 200 years of dormancy when much of the Deccan was under the rule of the Rashtrakutas. The genealogy of the kings of this empire is still debated. One theory, based on contemporary literary and inscriptional evidence plus the finding that the Western Chalukyas employed titles and names commonly used by the early Chalukyas, suggests that the Western Chalukya kings belonged to the same family line as the illustrious Badami Chalukya dynasty of the 6th century [75] [76] while other Western Chalukya inscriptional evidence indicates they were a distinct line unrelated to the Early Chalukyas. [77]

Tailapa II, a Rashtrakuta feudatory ruling from Tardavadi – 1000 (Bijapur district) overthrew Karka II, re-established the Chalukya rule in the western Deccan and recovered most of the Chalukya empire. [78] [79] The Western Chalukyas ruled for over 200 years and were in constant conflict with the Cholas, and with their cousins, the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi. Vikramaditya VI is widely considered the most notable ruler of the dynasty. [80] [81] Starting from the very beginning of his reign, which lasted fifty years, he abolished the original Saka era and established the Vikrama Era . Most subsequent Chalukya inscriptions are dated in this new era. [82] [83] Vikramaditya VI was an ambitious and skilled military leader. Under his leadership the Western Chalukyas were able to end the Chola influence over Vengi (coastal Andhra) and become the dominant power in the Deccan. [84] [85] The Western Chalukya period was an important age in the development of Kannada literature and Sanskrit literature. [86] [87] They went into their final dissolution towards the end of the 12th century with the rise of the Hoysala Empire, the Pandyas, the Kakatiya and the Seuna Yadavas of Devagiri. [88]

Chalukyas of Vengi [ edit ]

Main article: Eastern Chalukyas

Pulakeshin II conquered the eastern Deccan, corresponding to the coastal districts of modern Andhra Pradesh in 616, defeating the remnants of the Vishnukundina kingdom. He appointed his brother Kubja Vishnuvardhana as Viceroy in 621. [89] [90] Thus the Eastern Chalukyas were originally of Kannada stock. [91] After the death of Pulakeshin II, the Vengi Viceroyalty developed into an independent kingdom and included the region between Nellore and Visakhapatnam. [90] [92]

After the decline of the Badami Chalukya empire in the mid-8th century, territorial disputes flared up between the Rashtrakutas, the new rulers of the western deccan, and the Eastern Chalukyas. For much of the next two centuries, the Eastern Chalukyas had to accept subordination towards the Rashtrakutas. [93] Apart from a rare military success, such as the one by Vijayaditya II(c.808–847), it was only during the rule of Bhima I (c.892–921) that these Chalukyas were able to celebrate a measure of independence. After the death of Bhima I, the Andhra region once again saw succession disputes and interference in Vengi affairs by the Rashtrakutas. [93]

The fortunes of the Eastern Chalukyas took a turn around 1000. Danarnava, their king, was killed in battle in 973 by the Telugu Choda King Bhima who then imposed his rule over the region for twenty-seven years. During this time, Danarnava's two sons took refuge in the Chola kingdom. Choda Bhima's invasion of Tondaimandalam, a Chola territory, and his subsequent death on the battlefield opened up a new era in Chola–Chalukya relations. Saktivarman I, the elder son of Danarnava was crowned as the ruler of Vengi in 1000, though under the control of king Rajaraja Chola I. [94] This new relationship between the Cholas and the coastal Andhra kingdom was unacceptable to the Western Chalukyas, who had by then replaced the Rashtrakutas as the main power in the western Deccan. The Western Chalukyas sought to brook the growing Chola influence in the Vengi region but were unsuccessful. [93] [95]

Initially, the Eastern Chalukyas had encouraged Kannada language and literature, though, after a period of time, local factors took over and they gave importance to Telugu language. [96] [97] Telugu literature owes its growth to the Eastern Chalukyas. [98]

Architecture [ edit ]

See also: Badami Chalukya Architecture, Western Chalukya architecture, Pattadakal, Badami Cave Temples, and Aihole Virupaksha temple in Dravidian style at Pattadakal, built 740 CE

The Badami Chalukya era was an important period in the development of South Indian architecture. The kings of this dynasty were called Umapati Varlabdh and built many temples for the Hindu god Shiva. [99] Their style of architecture is called "Chalukyan architecture" or "Karnata Dravida architecture". [100] [101] Nearly a hundred monuments built by them, rock cut (cave) and structural, are found in the Malaprabha river basin in modern Bagalkot district of northern Karnataka. [102] The building material they used was a reddish-golden Sandstone found locally. These cave temples are basically excavations, cut out of the living rock sites they occupy. They were not build as their structural counterparts were, rather created by a special technique known as "subtraction" and are basically sculptural. [103] Though they ruled a vast empire, the Chalukyan workshops concentrated most of their temple building activity in a relatively small area within the Chalukyan heartland – Aihole, Badami, Pattadakal and Mahakuta in modern Karnataka state. [104]

Their temple building activity can be categorised into three phases. The early phase began in the last quarter of the 6th century and resulted in many cave temples, prominent among which are three elementary cave temples at Aihole (one Vedic, one Jain and one Buddhist which is incomplete), followed by four developed cave temples at Badami (of which cave 3, a Vaishnava temple, is dated accurately to 578 CE). [105] These cave temples at Badami are similar, in that, each has a plain exterior but an exceptionally well finished interior consisting of a pillared verandah, a columned hall ( mantapa ) and a cella (shrine, cut deep into rock) which contains the deity of worship. [106] In Badami, three caves temples are Vedic and one in Jain. The Vedic temples contain large well sculpted images of Harihara, Mahishasuramardhini, Varaha, Narasimha, Trivikrama, Vishnu seated on Anantha (the snake) and Nataraja (dancing Shiva). [107]

The second phase of temple building was at Aihole (where some seventy structures exist and has been called "one of the cradles of Indian temple architecture" [108] ) and Badami. Though the exact dating of these temples has been debated, there is consensus that the beginnings of these constructions are from c. 600. [109] [110] [111] These are the Lad Khan Temple (dated by some to c. 450 but more accurately to 620) with its interesting perforated stone windows and sculptures of river goddesses; the Meguti Jain Temple (634) which shows progress in structural design; the Durga Temple with its northern Indian style tower (8th century) and experiments to adapt a Buddhist Chaitya design to a brahminical one (its stylistic framework is overall a hybrid of north and south Indian styles. [99] ); the Huccimalli Gudi Temple with a new inclusion, a vestibule, connecting the sanctum to the hall. [112] Other dravida style temples from this period are the Naganatha Temple at Nagaral; the Banantigudi Temple, the Mahakutesvara Temple and the Mallikarjuna Temple at Mahakuta; and the Lower Sivalaya Temple, the Malegitti Sivalaya Temple (upper) and the Jambulingesvara Temple at Badami. [110] Located outside the Chalukyan architectural heartland, 140 km south-east of Badami, with a structure related to the Early Chalukya style is the unusual Parvati Temple at Sanduru which dates to the late 7th century. It is medium-sized, 48 ft long and 37 ft wide. It has a nagara (north Indian) style vimana (tower) and dravida (south Indian) style parts, has no mantapa (hall) and consists of an antarala (vestibule) crowned with a barrel vaulted tower ( sukhanasi ). The "staggered" base plan of the temple became popular much later, in the 11th century. [113] [114]

The structural temples at Pattadakal, built in the 8th century and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, marks the culmination and mature phase of Badami Chalukyan architecture. The Bhutanatha group of temples at Badami are also from this period. There are ten temples at Pattadakal, six in southern dravida style and four in the northern nagara style. Well known among these are the Sangamesvara Temple (725), the Virupaksha Temple (740–745) and the Mallikarjuna Temple (740–745) in the southern style. The Papanatha temple (680) and Galaganatha Temple (740) are early attempts in the nagara  – dravida fusion style. [115] Inscriptional evidence suggests that the Virupaksha and the Mallikarjuna Temples were commissioned by the two queens of King Vikramaditya II after his military success over the Pallavas of Kanchipuram. [110] Some well known names of Chalukyan architects are Revadi Ovajja, Narasobba and Anivarita Gunda. [116]

The reign of Western Chalukyas was an important period in the development of Deccan architecture. Their architecture served as a conceptual link between the Badami Chalukya architecture of the 8th century and the Hoysala architecture popularised in the 13th century. [117] [118] The centre of their cultural and temple-building activity lay in the Tungabhadra region of modern Karnataka state, encompassing the present-day Dharwad district; it included areas of present-day Haveri and Gadag districts. [119] [120] Here, large medieval workshops built numerous monuments. [121] These monuments, regional variants of pre-existing dravida temples, defined the Karnata dravida tradition. [122]

The most notable of the many buildings dating from this period are the Mahadeva Temple at Itagi in the Koppal district, [123] [124] the Kasivisvesvara Temple at Lakkundi in the Gadag district, [125] [126] the Mallikarjuna Temple at Kuruvatti, [126] and the Kallesvara Temple at Bagali, [127] both in the Davangere district. [128] Other notable constructions are the Dodda Basappa Temple at Dambal (Gadag district), [129] [130] the Siddhesvara Temple at Haveri (Haveri district), [131] [132] and the Amrtesvara Temple at Annigeri (Dharwad district). [133] [134] The Eastern Chalukyas built some fine temples at Alampur, in modern eastern Andhra Pradesh. [105] [135]

Literature [ edit ]

See also: Western Chalukya literature Poetry on stone at the Meguti temple (Aihole inscription) dated 634 CE, in Sanskrit language and old Kannada script, with a Kannada language endorsement of about the same date at the bottom. [21]

The Aihole inscription of Pulakeshin II (634) written by his court poet Ravikirti in Sanskrit language and Kannada script is considered as an classical piece of poetry. [30] [136] A few verses of a poet named Vijayanaka who describes herself as the "dark Sarasvati" have been preserved. It is possible that she may have been a queen of prince Chandraditya (a son of Pulakeshin II). [137] Famous writers in Sanskrit from the Western Chalukya period are Vijnaneshwara who achieved fame by writing Mitakshara, a book on Hindu law, and King Someshvara III, a noted scholar, who compiled an encyclopedia of all arts and sciences called Manasollasa . [138]

From the period of the Badami Chalukyas, references are made to the existence of Kannada literature, though not much has survived. [139] Inscriptions however refer to Kannada as the "natural language". [140] The Kappe Arabhatta record of c. 700 in tripadi (three line) metre is the earliest available work in Kannada poetics. [141] [142] Karnateshwara Katha , which was quoted later by Jayakirti, is believed to be a eulogy of Pulakeshin II and to have belonged to this period. [142] Other probable Kannada writers, whose works are not extant now but titles of which are known from independent references [143] are Syamakundacharya (650), who is said to have authored the Prabhrita , and Srivaradhadeva (also called Tumubuluracharya, 650 or earlier), the possible author of the Chudamani ("Crest Jewel"), a lengthy commentary on logic. [139] [144] [145] [146]

The rule of the Western and Eastern Chalukyas, however, is a major event in the history of Kannada and Telugu literatures respectively. By the 9th–10th centuries, Kannada language had already seen some of its most notable writers. The "three gems" of Kannada literature, Adikavi Pampa, Sri Ponna and Ranna belonged to this period. [147] [148] In the 11th century, Telugu literature was born under the patronage of the Eastern Chalukyas with Nannaya Bhatta as its first writer. [148] [149]

Badami Chalukya country [ edit ]

Army [ edit ]

The army was well organised and this was the reason for Pulakeshin II's success beyond the Vindyas. [150] It consisted of an infantry, a cavalry, an elephant corps and a powerful navy. The Chinese traveller Hiuen-Tsiang wrote that the Chalukyan army had hundreds of elephants which were intoxicated with liquor prior to battle. [38] [151] It was with their navy that they conquered Revatidvipa (Goa), and Puri on east coast of India. Rashtrakuta inscriptions use the term Karnatabala when referring to the powerful Chalukya armies. [152]

Land governance [ edit ]

The government, at higher levels, was closely modelled after the Magadhan and Satavahana administrative machinery. [38] The empire was divided into Maharashtrakas (provinces), then into smaller Rashtrakas ( Mandala ), Vishaya (district), Bhoga (group of 10 villages) which is similar to the Dasagrama unit used by the Kadambas. At the lower levels of administration, the Kadamba style prevailed fully. The Sanjan plates of Vikramaditya I even mentions a land unit called Dasagrama . [153] In addition to imperial provinces, there were autonomous regions ruled by feudatories such as the Alupas, the Gangas, the Banas and the Sendrakas. [154] Local assemblies and guilds looked after local issues. Groups of mahajanas (learned brahmins) looked after agraharas (called ghatika or "place of higher learning") such as at Badami which was served by 2000 mahajans and Aihole which was served by 500 mahajanas . Taxes were levied and were called the herjunka  – tax on loads, the kirukula  – tax on retail goods in transit, the bilkode  – sales tax, the pannaya  – betel tax, siddaya  – land tax and the vaddaravula  – tax levied to support royalty. [154]

Coinage [ edit ]

The Badami Chalukyas minted coins that were of a different standard compared to the coins of the northern kingdoms. [155] The coins had Nagari and Kannada legends. [22] The coins of Mangalesha had the symbol of a temple on the obverse and a 'sceptre between lamps' or a temple on the reverse. Pulakeshin II's coins had a caparisoned lion facing right on the obverse and a temple on the reverse. The coins weighed 4 grams and were called, in old-Kannada, hun (or honnu ) and had fractions such as fana (or fanam ) and the quarter fana (the modern day Kannada equivalent being hana  – which literally means "money"). [156] A gold coin called gadyana is mentioned in a record at the Vijayeshwara Temple at Pattadakal, which later came to be known as varaha (their royal emblem). [155]

Religion [ edit ]

Vaishnava Cave temple No. 3 at Badami, 578 CE Part of a series on the History of Karnataka GBerunda.JPG Categories

Both Shaivism and Vaishnavism flourished during the Badami Chalukya period, though it seems the former was more popular. [157] Famous temples were built in places such as Pattadakal, Aihole and Mahakuta, and priests ( archakas ) were invited from northern India. Vedic sacrifices, religious vows ( vrata ) and the giving of gifts ( dana ) was important. [158] The Badami kings were initially followers of Vedic Hinduism and dedicated temples to popular Hindu deities in Aihole. Sculptures of deities testify to the popularity of Hindu Gods such as Vishnu, Shiva, Kartikeya, Ganapathi, Shakti, Surya and Sapta Matrikas ("seven mothers"). The Badami kings also performed the Ashwamedha ("horse sacrifice"). [159] The worship of Lajja Gauri, a fertility goddess is known. Jainism too was a prominent religion during this period. The kings of the dynasty were however secular and actively encouraged Jainism. One of the Badami Cave temples is dedicated to the Jain faith. Jain temples were also erected in the Aihole complex, the temple at Maguti being one such example. [160] Ravikirti, the court poet of Pulakeshin II was a Jain. Queen Vinayavati consecrated a temple for the Trimurti ("Hindu trinity") at Badami. Sculptures of the Trimurti, Harihara (half Vishnu, half Shiva) and Ardhanarishwara (half Shiva, half woman) provide ample evidence of their tolerance. [159] Buddhism was on a decline, having made its ingress into Southeast Asia. This is confirmed by the writings of Hiuen-Tsiang. Badami, Aihole, Kurtukoti and Puligere (modern Lakshmeshwar in the Gadag district) were primary places of learning.

Society [ edit ]

The Hindu caste system was present and devadasis were recognised by the government. Some kings had concubines ( ganikas ) who were given much respect, [161] and Sati was perhaps absent since widows like Vinayavathi and Vijayanka are mentioned in records. Devadasis were however present in temples. Sage Bharata's Natyashastra , the precursor to Bharatanatyam, the classical dance of South India, was popular and is seen in many sculptures and is mentioned in inscriptions. [162] Some women from the royal family enjoyed political power in administration. Queen Vijayanka was a noted Sanskrit poet, [137] Kumkumadevi, the younger sister of Vijayaditya (and queen of Alupa King Chitravahana) made several grants and had a Jain basadi called Anesajjebasadi constructed at Puligere, [163] and the queens of Vikramaditya II, Lokamahadevi and Trailokyamahadevi made grants and possibly consecrated the Lokesvara Temple (now called Virupaksha temple) but also and the Mallikarjuna temple respectively at Pattadakal. [164]

In popular culture [ edit ]

The Chalukya era may be seen as the beginning in the fusion of cultures of northern and southern India, making way for the transmission of ideas between the two regions. This is seen clearly in the field of architecture. The Chalukyas spawned the Vesara style of architecture which includes elements of the northern nagara and southern dravida styles. During this period, the expanding Sanskritic culture mingled with local Dravidian vernaculars which were already popular. [46] Dravidian languages maintain these influences even today. This influence helped to enrich literature in these languages. [165] The Hindu legal system owes much to the Sanskrit work Mitakshara by Vijnaneshwara in the court of Western Chalukya King Vikramaditya VI. Perhaps the greatest work in legal literature, Mitakshara is a commentary on Yajnavalkya and is a treatise on law based on earlier writings and has found acceptance in most parts of India. Englishman Henry Thomas Colebrooke later translated into English the section on inheritance, giving it currency in the British Indian court system. [166] It was during the Western Chalukya rule that the Bhakti movement gained momentum in South India, in the form of Ramanujacharya and Basavanna, later spreading into northern India.

A celebration called Chalukya utsava , a three-day festival of music and dance, organised by the Government of Karnataka, is held every year at Pattadakal, Badami and Aihole. [167] The event is a celebration of the achievements of the Chalukyas in the realm of art, craft, music and dance. The program, which starts at Pattadakal and ends in Aihole, is inaugurated by the Chief Minister of Karnataka. Singers, dancers, poets and other artists from all over the country take part in this event. In the 26 February 2006 celebration, 400 art troupes took part in the festivities. Colorful cut outs of the Varaha the Chalukya emblem, Satyashraya Pulakeshin (Pulakeshin II), famous sculptural masterpieces such as Durga, Mahishasuramardhini (Durga killing demon Mahishasura) were present everywhere. The program at Pattadakal is named Anivaritacharigund vedike after the famous architect of the Virupaksha temple, Gundan Anivaritachari. At Badami it is called Chalukya Vijayambika Vedike and at Aihole, Ravikirti Vedike after the famous poet and minister (Ravikirti) in the court of Pulakeshin II. Immadi Pulakeshi , a Kannada movie of the 1960s starring Dr. Rajkumar celebrates the life and times of the great king. [167]

See also [ edit ]

Historical places of Chalukyas Karnataka Maharashtra Telangana Andhra Pradesh Middle kingdoms of India Timeline and

cultural period

Northwestern India

(Punjab-Sapta Sindhu)

Indo-Gangetic Plain Central India Southern India Western Gangetic Plain


Northern India

(Central Gangetic Plain)

Northeastern India

(Northeast India)

IRON AGE Culture Late Vedic Period Late Vedic Period

(Brahmin ideology) [a]

Painted Grey Ware culture

Late Vedic Period

(Kshatriya/Shramanic culture) [b]

Northern Black Polished Ware

Pre-history  6th century BC Gandhara Kuru-Panchala Magadha Adivasi (tribes) Culture Persian-Greek influences "Second Urbanisation"

Rise of Shramana movements
Jainism - Buddhism - Ājīvika - Yoga

Pre-history  5th century BC (Persian rule) Shishunaga dynasty Adivasi (tribes)  4th century BC (Greek conquests)

Nanda empire

Kalinga HISTORICAL AGE Culture Spread of Buddhism Pre-history Sangam period
(300 BC – 200 AD)  3rd century BC Maurya Empire Early Cholas

Early Pandyan Kingdom

Satavahana dynasty


46 other small kingdoms in Ancient Thamizhagam

Culture Precla xaarpllj. pandora bracelets and charmsssical Hinduism [c] - "Hindu Synthesis" [d] (ca. 200 BC - 300 AD) [e] [f]
Epics - Puranas - Ramayana - Mahabharata - Bhagavad Gita - Brahma Sutras - Smarta Tradition
Mahayana Buddhism Sangam period

(300 BC – 200 AD)

 2nd century BC Indo-Greek Kingdom Shunga Empire

Maha-Meghavahana Dynasty

Early Cholas

Early Pandyan Kingdom

Satavahana dynasty


46 other small kingdoms in Ancient Thamizhagam

 1st century BC  1st century AD


Kuninda Kingdom  2nd century Kushan Empire  3rd century Kushano-Sasanian Kingdom Kushan Empire Western Satraps Kamarupa kingdom Kalabhra dynasty

Pandyan Kingdom(Under Kalabhras)

Culture "Golden Age of Hinduism"(ca. AD 320-650) [g]
Co-existence of Hinduism and Buddhism  4th century Kidarites Gupta Empire

Varman dynasty

Kalabhra dynasty

Pandyan Kingdom(Under Kalabhras)

Kadamba Dynasty

Western Ganga Dynasty

 5th century Hephthalite Empire Alchon Huns Kalabhra dynasty

Pandyan Kingdom(Under Kalabhras)


 6th century Nezak Huns

Kabul Shahi

Maitraka Adivasi (tribes) Badami Chalukyas

Kalabhra dynasty

Pandyan Kingdom(Under Kalabhras)

Culture Late-Classical Hinduism (ca. AD 650-1100) [h]
Advaita Vedanta - Tantra
Decline of Buddhism in India  7th century Indo-Sassanids Vakataka dynasty
Empire of Harsha Mlechchha dynasty Adivasi (tribes) Pandyan Kingdom(Under Kalabhras)

Pandyan Kingdom(Revival)


 8th century Kabul Shahi Pala Empire Pandyan Kingdom


 9th century Gurjara-Pratihara Rashtrakuta dynasty

Pandyan Kingdom

Medieval Cholas

Pandyan Kingdom(Under Cholas)

Chera Perumals of Makkotai

10th century Ghaznavids Pala dynasty

Kamboja-Pala dynasty

Kalyani Chalukyas

Medieval Cholas

Pandyan Kingdom(Under Cholas)

Chera Perumals of Makkotai


References and sources for table 


  1. ^ Samuel
  2. ^ Samuel
  3. ^ Michaels (2004) p.39
  4. ^ Hiltebeitel (2002)
  5. ^ Michaels (2004) p.39
  6. ^ Hiltebeitel (2002)
  7. ^ Micheals (2004) p.40
  8. ^ Michaels (2004) p.41


Notes [ edit ]

  1. ^ N. Laxminarayana Rao and Dr. S. C. Nandinath have claimed the Chalukyas were Kannadigas (Kannada speakers) and very much the natives of Karnataka (Kamath 2001, p. 57)
  2. ^ The Chalukyas were Kannadigas (D.C. Sircar in Mahajan V.D., 1960, Reprint 2007, Ancient India, Chand and Company, New Delhi, p. 690, ISBN 81-219-0887-6)
  3. ^ Natives of Karnataka (Hans Raj, 2007, Advanced history of India: From earliest times to present times, Part-1, Surgeet publications, New Delhi, p. 339
  4. ^ The Chalukyas hailed from Karnataka (John Keay, 2000, p. 168)
  5. ^ Quote:"They belonged to Karnataka country and their mother tongue was Kannada" (Sen 1999, 360)
  6. ^ The Chalukyas of Badami seem to be of indigenous origin (Kamath 2001, p. 58)
  7. ^ Jayasimha and Ranaraga, the first members of the Chalukya family were possibly employees of the Kadambas in the northern part of the Kadamba Kingdom (Fleet [in Kanarese Dynasties , p. 343] in Moraes, 1931, pp. 51–52)
  8. ^ Pulakesi I must have been an administrative official of the northern Kadamba territory centered in Badami (Moraes 1931, pp. 51–52)
  9. ^ The Chalukya base was Badami and Aihole (Thapar 2003, p. 328)
  10. ^ Inscriptional evidence proves the Chalukyas were native Kannadigas (Karmarkar, 1947, p. 26)
  11. ^ a b Ramesh (1984), p. 20
  12. ^ Pulakesi I of Badami who was a feudatory of the Kadamba king Krishna Varman II, overpowered his overlord in c. 540 and took control of the Kadamba Kingdom (Kamath 2001, p. 35)
  13. ^ Jayasimha (Pulakesi I's grandfather) is known from the Kaira inscription of 472–473 CE. Both Jayasimha and Ranaranga (Pulakesi I's father) are known from Mahakuta inscription of 599 CE and Aihole record of 634 CE (Ramesh 1984, pp. 26–27, p. 30)
  14. ^ From the Badami Cliff inscription of Pulakesi I and from the Hyderabad record of Pulakesi II which states their family ancestry (Kamath 2001, pp. 56–58)
  15. ^ Sastri (1955), p. 154
  16. ^ Chopra (2003), p. 73, part 1
  17. ^ Kamath (2001), p. 56
  18. ^ Moraes (1931). pp. 10–11
  19. ^ Ramesh (1984), p. 19
  20. ^ Bilhana, in his Sanskrit work Vikramanakadevacharitam claims the Early Chalukya family were born from the feet of Hindu God Brahma, implying they were Shudras by caste, while other sources claim they were born in the arms of Brahma, and hence were Kshatriyas (Ramesh 1984, p. 15)
  21. ^ a b Sircar D.C. (1965), p. 48, Indian Epigraphy , Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi, ISBN 81-208-1166-6
  22. ^ a b Kamath (2001), p. 57
  23. ^ Houben (1996), p. 215
  24. ^ Professor N.L. Rao has pointed out that some of their family records in Sanskrit have also named the princes with "arasa", such as Kattiyarasa (Kirtivarman I), Bittarasa (Kubja Vishnuvardhana) and Mangalarasa (Mangalesha, Kamath 2001, pp. 57–60)
  25. ^ Historians Shafaat Ahmad Khan and S. Krishnasvami Aiyangar clarify that Arasa is Kannada word, equivalent to Sanskrit word Raja – Journal of Indian History p. 102, Published by Department of Modern Indian History, University of Allahabad
  26. ^ Dr. Hoernle suggests a non-Sanskrit origin of the dynastic name. Dr. S.C. Nandinath feels the Chalukyas were of agricultural background and of Kannada origin who later took up a martial career. He feels the word Chalki found in some of their records must have originated from salki , an agricultural implement (Kamath 2001, p. 57)
  27. ^ The word Chalukya is derived from a Dravidian root (Kittel in Karmarkar 1947, p. 26)

  28. sivusto pandora
    pandora charms à vendre
    pandora ringer
    Sitio web oficial de pandora

    This is Utkarsh Speaking

    A Blog on Mythology and occasionally on Reality.

    This is a Blog on Mythology, both Indian and World and especially the analysis of the myths.

    In effect, the interpretation of the inherent Symbolism.


    Friday, June 29, 2012

    Karna and his karma

    In a couple of previous article we read about how ones present life was affected due to the acts of one’s past life, w.r.t. Dhritarashtra and Gandhari from the epic Mahabharata. Our epics are full of examples of Karmic destiny, especially Mahabharata. Nearly all characters have been subject to this, including Lord Krishna.
    However, Karna was one character in Mahabharata whose tragedy had nothing to do with his past life (or so it seems as nothing has been found in any texts). His tragedy is due to his being good, yes; all that goes wrong with him is because he wanted to be of help to someone. Let’s see how.
    It is said that Karna was training under the great ascetic-warrior, Parashuram (who was also an avatar of Lord Vishnu). Karna had told him the truth that he was raised by a charioteer and did not know his caste. Once, Parashuram went off to sleep with his head on Karna’s lap. A blood-sucking insect bit Karna on his thigh. It pained Karna, but he did not move, lest it woke up his Guru. When Parashuram came to know about it, he was shocked that someone could bear so much pain in spite of all the blood that had been lost. According to him, only a Kshatriya could have it in him to bear such pain and Parshuram hated Kshatriyas. This enraged Parashuram so much that he cursed him that, all that he had learnt from him would go in vain, as he would never be able to use it, especially when he needed the most.
    Isn’t this tragic? Karna was honest enough to say what he did as he had no clue about his parentage and by not moving after the insect bite, he was only allowing his Guru a peaceful nap. Was this fair?
    Another legend says that long ago, Karna saw a young girl crying as she had spilt milk on the ground. To stop her from crying, Karna is supposed to have taken soil from the ground where milk was spilt and squeezed out the milk so that the child could have it. This angered Bhoo-devi (Earth-deity) and she is supposed to have cursed Karna that it would be the same soil that would one day, hold him to his death, as he had squeezed out milk from her soil.
    During the war of Kurukshetra in Mahabharata, at a very strategic point, the wheel of Karna’s chariot was stuck in the soil and no efforts would get it out of the soil. He got down the chariot to do so physically, as he had forgotten the magic formula taught to him by Parashuram to release a wheel if stuck on the ground, is when he gets hit by Arjuna. His end was brought by the act of kindness that he had shown to his guru and the crying girl.
    This make one feel that Karna’s tragedy had nothing to do with his karma, but was some sort of a conspiracy to make sure that he suffers. The following story also lends credence to the same theory.
    Karna’s charioteer was Shalya, the King of Madra. Shalya was the maternal uncle of the younger Pandavas, i.e. Nakula and Sahadeva. When Kings and regions were aligning themselves for the great war of Kurukshetra, Shalya left for the battlefield. On his way, he was pleased to see that arrangements were made for his army and was impressed at the thoughtfulness of the Pandavas. Later he learnt that he had been duped into accepting the hospitality, from the Kauravas, due to which he had to fight on behalf of the Kauravas. To humiliate him further, Duryodhan asked Shalya to be the charioteer of Karna, the arch-enemy of the Pandavas. On Krishna’s advice, Shalya would continuously praise Arjuna during the battle, to de-motivate and distract Karna.
    Also, when anything goes wrong with a chariot, it is the responsibility of the charioteer to alight from the chariot and repair it. When Karna’s chariot got stuck on the ground, Karna is supposed to have asked Shalya to do so, but Shalya refused to alight as he was a King and it was below his dignity to such things, besides the fact that he did not know how to get the wheel out of the ground. It was only when Shalya refused to do anything, did Karna have to alight, disarming himself, which made him vulnerable to Arjuna’s attack.
    All this lends credence to the theory of conspiracy. Where is karmic destiny here? Karna had been wronged from the time he was born to an unwed mother, Kunti. All through the epic he had been insulted about his lack of knowledge of his parentage, when two of the most important characters of the epic, Kunti and Krishna were actually aware of it but had opted to keep quiet. He is apprised of the truth at a wrong moment in the epic and that too as an effort to buy his support. At the end, he dies a heroic death. It is said that the day he was killed, the war came to an early end for that day, as all the charioteers from both the sides mourned his death, as he was raised by a charioteer.
    Could the author of the epic have decided to create a tragic character and thus such characterisation? Or was it the ideal example of a good guy on the wrong side?
    Whatever, be the case, Karna’s tragedy had nothing to do with his karma.
    Posted by Utkarsh Patel at 9 comments: Email ThisBlogThis!Share to TwitterShare to FacebookShare to Pinterest

    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

    Gandhari’s Hundred Sons

    One of my readers sent me the following after reading “Gandhari and her Karma ” dated June 25, 2012, –
    Hi Utkarsh………, had a question too. Gandhari had 100 sons, as we all know it takes 9 months for incubating a baby (unless they had machines for the same at that time) and if she had 1 baby at a time, by the time the 100th would be born the first one would be 75! So how old was Gandhari during the war? Or did she give birth to all 100 at the same time? In which case, biologically, it would be difficult for all 100 to survive. What do you think?”
    An interesting question and often asked by many. How can someone have 100 sons together or even one after another? Could it be that she had many combinations of twins, triplets, quadruplets, etc. many times over?
    Mythology is replete with instances which are known as supra-normal births (beyond the range of normal or scientifically explainable), where births have taken place from fire, any body fluids, like tears and sweat, or from body parts like thigh, etc. This is essentially done, to connote a sense of ‘difference’ on the said character and also to hint that the character is destined to do in-human acts or feats. This was the then author’s way of assigning an importance to the character in reference. We will not get into such instances as all heroes in mythology have had ‘different’ births, like Krishna, Jesus, Hercules, Rama, Ganapati, to name just a few. Mahabharat is full of supra-normal births, be it Dronacharya, Kripacharya, Draupadi and her brother, and of course, Gandhari’s hundred sons.
    The birth of Gandhari’s hundred sons, in brief – After Gandhari had conceived it was close to two years and she had not delivered. When she heard the news of Kunti’s children being born in the jungles, she was frustrated and angry and in her state of rage, she started beating her stomach. Soon she delivered a mass of flesh. Vyas had once blessed her with a hundred sons (a common blessing in those days) and when she saw the mass of flesh, he was called. He immediately instructed her to assemble a hundred jars with ghee (oil) in it. Gandhari at this stage expressed her desire to have a daughter too. As soon as the jars were assembled, Vyas divided the ball of flesh into a hundred and one parts and distributed each into the jars. He asked her to cover them and leave them, and soon she was the mother of hundred sons and one daughter.
    Many later day thinkers hint at the concept which is better known to us today as ‘in-vitro fertilisation’. Today we know of such methods of IVF and cloning whereby births can be ‘made’ through artificial methods. I am by no means saying that Vyasa was a gynecologist and nor am I saying that people then had knowledge of such modern methods of reproduction. It could just be the figment of a creative writer’s imagination who had imagined a possibility, without going into the intricacies of the method. Also, don’t forget what is said at the beginning of the epic Mahabharata – “What is found herein may also be found elsewhere; What is not found herein does not exist.”
    Another theory says that there weren’t a hundred sons, but just two, i.e. Duryodhan and Dushsshan. This gains ground as in the entire epic; these were the only two whose names had cropped up time and again (though later, we have heard of Vikarna, the Kaurava who was against the war). Also, the pregnancy lasting for two years lends credence to this theory. People of antiquity had never quite been able to explain the concept of twins (You can read more about twins in mythology in my earlier series "Twins – A case of peaceful co-existence. " dated May 1, 2011). The two-year pregnancy could have been put in to explain the birth of twins.
    Another version is that the evil of Duryodhan was equal to that of hundred people; a concept similar to that of Ravana’s ten heads which implied his immense intelligence and knowledge. Mythology, like fiction also thrives on hyperbole and on a more simplistic note, this could be just that.
    Another version takes the help of etymology (the study of the origin of words). Duryodhan means one who is difficult to fight, (‘duh’ – difficult & ‘yodh’ – to fight) representing ego & Dushasana means difficult to control. Representing ‘huge ego’ and ‘lack of control’ as a hundred only gave a sense of proportion to the immense trouble that the duo could unleash.
    A philosophic explanation is as follows – Dhritarashtra represented blind mind and Gandhari represented blind intellect following the blind mind. Together they breed unfulfilled desires, dreams and ambitions, all unleashed on what stood for reason and law (dharma). The result of such a clash could only be a war of epic proportions!
    The sheer beauty of what the authors of antiquity wrote is brought out by such representations, which to a rationalist mind might seem ridiculous and jest-worthy! Modern thinking should be used to understand the deeper meanings in the myths and not to look down and make fun of what was written way back, when ‘science’ was not a subject. I guess this is what education is all about!
    I hope I have been able to answer my readers query!! 5 comments:

    Monday, June 25, 2012

    Gandhari and her Karma

    In a previous article - Dhritarashtra of Modern Times (dated June 12, 2012), we read about the karmic destiny of Dhritarashtra. How it was destiny that made him blind and made him endure the death of a hundred sons. Mahabharata has numerous such examples which give similar reasons for ones suffering in the present life.
    From Dhritarashtra, let’s move on to Gandhari. Why was she destined to live a life of blindness, when she was not naturally blind and why did she have to endure such tragedy?
    Dhritarashtra and Gandhari
    Gandhari was the daughter of Gandhar, the modern day Kandahar, in Afghanistan. She tied a cloth on her eyes when she came to know that her would-be husband was born blind and vowed never to see what he couldn’t. Many say that she made a mistake and if she had not done this, she would have been a great help to her blind husband, and the course of Mahabharata would have been different. Gandhari’s logic however, was that she did not want to seem superior in any way from her husband and make him feel small, and this act of hers had made her his equal. Some even say that she did this as a silent protest to the high-handed behaviour of Bhishma, who despite Dhirtarashtra’s disability had nearly forced the King of Gandhar to agree to the alliance. In the modern world, her act could be questioned, but in Mhabharata, she was hailed as an ideal woman.
    Her blindfold is supposed to have given her an inner view to the world around her and though she missed a lot, she never lost ‘sight’ of the fact that the Pandavas were not treated justly. On many occasions she is known to have advised her husband and chastised her son Duryodhan. At the end of the war of Kurukshetra, she is supposed to have asked Lord Krishna, whom she blamed for the war and the death of her hundred sons, especially Duryodhan, as to what had been the reason for such a tragic life.
    According to Lord Krishna, long back, while cooking rice, she had poured hot water of the boiled rice on the ground outside her kitchen. This hot water killed all the hundred eggs laid by an insect. This act of hers had earned the wrath of the mother insect who is supposed to have cursed her that she too would have to endure the deaths of her sons, as she had. (In many villages women are advised not to pour hot water from the rice on the ground; they should pour it after it has cooled down or mix cold water before draining it off!). According another local rendition of Mahabharata from the East, she was cursed by the mother turtle whose eggs, Gandhari had once crushed one by one.
    The above is a classic case of karmic destiny which has been illustrated time and again through various characters of Mahabharata. Rather, it seems to be an underlying theme of Mahabharata. This might have been done by the authors of the times to ensure that one takes care of one’s actions in the present life. Even if this is done out of a fear for the results in the next life, one will ensure that he or she does little or no harm. How would one react to ones shortcomings in this life? Well, one school of thought would feel that if the karmic theory is to be subscribed to, then people would stop making efforts to change the hardship and simply live with it. Contrary to this, one can say that one would accept it as destiny and not be unnecessarily self-critical. Accept and move on to face the new challenges that have been in store!
    I guess this theory of Karmic destiny is a case of glass half full!
    There are a number of such characters in Mahabharata, who were what they were, due to the theory of karma. All but one, who was a tragic character for no theory of karma.
    We will discuss this character next time! Keep reading…. 1 comment:

    Friday, June 22, 2012

    Lord Jagannath

    Yesterday, we read about the legends and myths associated with the Lord Jagannath, Lord of the universe, and the chariot procession. Today we will read about its origin and the cult of the Jagannath worship.
    The legend of King Indradyumna is taken from the Skanda Purana, besides the same being referred in many other Puranas like Padma Purana, Brahma Purana and Narada Purana amongst some of them. We are also told that Lord Jagannath is mentioned in the Vedas and King Indrayumna was some Vedic figure. The Rig Veda has some hymns which refer to the floating of a wooden log from which was carved out the idol of Jagannath.
    What is interesting is the idols of the triad. Usually the idols of all gods in the Hindu pantheon are well defined and perfectly carved or painted. But the idols at Jagannath temple are not so. It is not shapely and is like a wooden stump with large round eyes, painted in dark garish colours and the lack of body. However, all this has been associated with the story of the unfinished idols. But at the end of the day, it has looks which defy its association with the prevailing Hindu gods and goddesses.
    A Savara couple
    Many scholars have opined that the worship of Jagannath has tribal origins. In the myths discussed yesterday, there has been mention of a Savara tribe, who were considered to be the earliest inhabitants of the Odisha. The Savaras were a tree worshiping tribe, which was a very common mode of worship (tree or stumps which resemble a tree-like structure), for many tribes in the world. The Savaras used to worship trees, and singing and dancing in front of their god, Jaganata, was part of the rituals. The scholars feel that with the migration of the Aryan communities in such areas, the ritual harmonised into a common festival and the tribal Jaganata soon metamorphosed into the aryanised Jagannath, with Vedic and Puranic attachments.
    Another very interesting aspect of this is the sudden emergence of a triad from the single god. All myths begin with a single god, be it Nilamadhava or Jaganata. But somewhere the single god transforms into a triad. One of the versions given by scholars was that in the earlier days the Lord Jagannath was seen with his consort, Lakshmi. Somewhere, to appease a section of the Shaivas, Balabhadra or Balarama was added to the couple, but this posed another problem. According to the Oriya convention, the elder brother could not see the face of the younger brother’s wife. This convention made the consort make way for the sister, Subhadra in this case! Such things happen to accommodate more deities or could even be an act of appeasement of other communities or tribes in the widely followed cult.
    Nila Madhava Temple at Kantilo
    According to some British scholars, the association of the colour blue, Nila, in the myths of Nilamadhava and Nilanchal, could be ascribed to the common use of the easily available blue coloured stones which were usually used for making idols during the ancient times. In the earlier days, the gods were offered raw and uncooked food. With the slow aryanisation, the rituals of worship has become more Brahminical and cooked food is offered to the deities today. But a close scrutiny of the rituals will reveal that a lot of practices of tribal origin still prevail. It is pertinent to mention here that the worship of the original Nila Madhava is prevalent in the hill-top region of Brahmachala, on the banks of the River Mahanadi at Kantilo, in Nayagarh district of Odisha even today!
    Finally, the worship of Jagannath is performed by a tribal community who are the hereditary servitors of the Lord. They also observe the funeral rites of the Lord during the Nava Kalevar and also own all responsibility of the yatra. What is further interesting is that these priests are non-Brahmin, which goes on to show that though the Aryans went on to own the deity, the tribal community continued to own the rights to serve the deity.
    The Jagannath worship is a classic example of synthesis of two different cultures and background and a harmonised association of both coexisting in modern times. A perfect coexistence of Vaishnavite and Tribal cults. This could be one rare instance of a tribal deity being given such prominence in the Hindu pantheon, even though its prominence has Vedic and Puranic leanings.
    If you know of any more, please let me know.
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    Thursday, June 21, 2012

    Ratha-yatra of Puri

    Today is the famous Ratha-yatra festival in India which is celebrated with much fanfare in Puri, Odisha and other Eastern parts of India. Lately, the festival is celebrated in many other parts, under the aegis of ISKCON group.
    Last month, I had written a few articles on the similarities of our Ratha-yatra with similar yatras in Nepal and Egypt ( ). But today we will focus on myths and legends of the Puri Ratha-yatra.
    According to the most prominent legend from Skanda Purana, after the war of Mahabharata, King Indradyumna was very intrigued when a travelling pilgrim told him about the practice of worshipping of Nila Madhava (Blue Vishnu) in the region of Nilanchal (Blue Mountains) in the present day Odisha. The next day, Vidyapati, the kings brother set out for the region to have a look at the deity. The Savara king of the region, received Vidyapati and assured him to take him to see the deity the next day, but under the condition that he would be blindfolded to and from the temple. Vidyapati agreed, but took some mustard seeds in his pocket, in which he had made a small hole. The entire route to the temple was strewn with mustard seeds so that the route would be marked with mustard flowers for him to seek out the way next time he wanted to go.
    Later Vidyapati returned to his region and told the whole story to King Indradyumna, who then set out to see the deity by himself. On reaching the spot, they were surprised to see that the deity was missing and the whole area was covered with sands from the nearby shore. The King came back dejected. Later he was told by Narada Muni to perform Ashwamedha Yagna to appease Nilamadhava. On the completion of the yagna, they heard a divine voice tell them that his prayers have been answered and that they would find a log floating on the waters soon, which would have divine marks like a conch-shell, etc. The king should carve out images of three gods and install and worship the same. Soon after they found a log of wood floating with such marks and the log was of neem tree. Around the same time an old Brahmin came from nowhere and suggested that he could do the work best as he understood the divine marks, but with a condition that he would do it behind closed doors and would not come out of the room till the idols were ready and nobody should come in before it was ready.
    Soon the carving started and everybody grew curious day by day, just as were the King and his Queen. One day they heard no sound coming from behind the doors and the Queen was sure that the old Brahmin was dead. She ordered the doors to be opened. As soon as the door was opened, the old Brahmin vanished from there and there were only the unfinished idols. Since that day, the unfinished idols have been worshipped in the same form. Many say that the old Brahmin was none other than the divine architect, Lord Vishwakarma, himself.
    The idols are made of wood, so the idols have to be replaced once in a while. The idols are replaced in the years when there are two Ashad (June/July) months, as per the Hindu calendar, which comes once in 24 years in a well marked event known as the Nav Kalevar. The belief is that in such a year the earth and the universe undergoes some change in its shape and form, and thus the Lord of the universe, Jagannath too receives the same change. The old idols are buried in the temple premises. The present idols were last replaced in the year 1996. The new idols continue to be made, coloured, carved, etc. in the same manner as the original.
    The temple is the house for Lord Krishna, as Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra or Balarama and their sister Subhadra. According to a legend, Lord Jagannath had once expressed his desire to spend a week at his aunt’s house. About two kilometres from the Jagannath temple is the Gundicha Mandir, which is supposed to be the temple of the aunt of Lord Jagannath. Since then, every year on the Ratha yatra day, all the tree deities are taken out in a grand procession in three different chariots to Gundicha Mandir. There the deities are taken inside the Gundicha Mandir where the triad rest for a week and return to the Jagannath temple in what is known as the ‘ulta-rath’ or the reverse-chariot.
    Some versions say that Subhadra wanted to meet her parents in Dwarka and the procession is to mark this occasion. Some other versions say that Kansa, Krrishna’s uncle had sent his messenger Akrur, to fetch Krishna to Mathura from Gokul. All of Krishna’s friends and his gopis blocked the way and Krishna had to pacify them that he would not be harmed. The ratha-yatra is also supposed to be in commemoration of this separation of Lord Krishna from Gokul and his childhood friends and gopis.
    Yet another local version says that the mortal remains of Lord Krishna was transformed in a wooden log which was found by a local Savara (an aborigine of the region) who started worshipping it. Later King Indrayumna took it from him and carved out three idols out of it and established a temple for the same.
    There are many other legends associated with the Lord and his chariot. But what is interesting is the origin of the cult of Jagannath and his worship. This we will discuss next. No comments:

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012

    Dhritarashtra of Modern Times

    Ms. Kiran Bedi has compared our Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh with Dhritarashtra of Mahabharata. [Ms. Bedi tweeted – “PMO clears PM. Did Dhritarashtra in Mahabharata not support Kauravas even after they attempted to disrobe Draupadi? Indian genes/culture? Or?”]
    Dhritarashtra was the blind king of Hastinapur who was put on the throne after his younger brother, Pandu, had to go to the forest to atone for his sins and his subsequent death. He was also the father of the hundred Kauravas.
    Is the comparison valid? Let’s see.
    • Dhritarashtra was blind and thus could not see; our PM is not blind (at least physically), but he still cannot see; else he would have done something about all the wrongs that are happening in his PM-dom.
    • Dhritarashtra was blind to the aspirations of (his son) Duryodhan and despite knowing about the wrongs done by him, said nothing. Our PM was also well aware of the wrongdoings of some of his ministers (thankfully not his sons), take Raja for instance, but allowed him to continue, till the ant became an elephant, and it could not be hidden under the carpet.
    • Dhritarashtra did not say anything when Draupadi was being disrobed in public in the court just as our PM is keeping mum when the country is being robbed off its pride and being abused by many known to him.
    • Dhritarashtra did not have any friends who could guide him, but had many who would mislead him. PM too has no friends who can guide him, but is surrounded by allies who actually misguide him and have their way, as and when required. This lack of ‘good and true’ friends has been the bane of both Dhritarashtra and the PM.

    Some differences though –
    • Dhritarashtra did have some voices of sanity which used to try to dissuade him from following the wrong path, like Vidura, PM has none. There is not a single guide in his cabinet whose sane voice he can follow.
    • Dhritarashtra always aspired to be the King, in spite of his disability, i.e. his blindness, but our PM is a reluctant politician, who knew well about his disability, i.e. lack of knowledge of politics, but went on to take the position of leadership. Needless to say, that both have proven to be poor leaders.

    To conclude, let me tell you a small story which many might not know. 
    At the end of the war of Kurukshetra and on the death of his hundred sons, Dhritarashtra asked Lord Krishna as to why was he destined for such a tragic life, of blindness and bereavement of hundred sons during his life time? Lord Krishna asked him to close his eyes and Dhritarashtra saw, that in his previous life, he was a tyrant king. Once he was passing by the sea and saw a swan surrounded by a hundred cygnets (baby swans). On a moment of sadistic pleasure, he ordered that the eyes of the swan be gorged out and all the cygnets be killed. This cruelty had led him to be blind in this birth and was made to bear the death of his hundred sons, just as he had done to the swan. Dhritarashtra realised that this was his karma and none were to be blamed for this.
    Dhritarashtra’s behaviour was due to his karma, but what is the cause of your behaviour Mr. PM? 1 comment:

    Wednesday, June 6, 2012

    Draupadi’s Secret

    According to a legend from Mahabharata, during the thirteenth year of the exile of the Pandavas, Draupadi saw a ripe jambul, roseapple, hanging from a tree. She plucked it to have it. No sooner had she done this, Krishna came from somewhere and stopped her from eating it. According to Krishna, the ripe fruit was supposed to be the fruit with which a sage was supposed to break his twelve-year fast. Not finding the fruit at its place, could earn the wrath of the sage, resulting in more trouble for the Pandavas and her. Draupadi begged of Krishna to help her out of this impending problem.
    Krishna, then said that the fruit could be put back at its original place, only by someone who holds no secrets. Draupadi had only one option and to confess some guilt. Seeing no way out, Draupadi walked up her husband’s and confessed to them, that though she was a chaste woman and loved all the five husbands, there was someone else that she longed for. She always had loved and respected Karna, the arch-enemy of the Pandavas. This was a shock to all the husbands, but none said anything. Having confessed, she went and put the fruit back on the branch of the tree and all was well.
    A simple story, and not mentioned in many versions, but considered to be an important episode in many folk renditions of Mahabharata and sometimes better known as ‘Jambul-akhyan’, the jambul-episode. Many well known authors and re-tellers of Mahabharat have explored this angle of Draupadi. All popular versions have mentioned that Draupadi did not love all five husbands equally (not possible for anyone to be capable of equitable love), and that she loved and longed for Arjuna more amongst all the brothers. However, it is also true, that Arjuna had never reciprocated the emotion as he was more in love with Subhadra (Krishna’s sister) than anybody else. The hidden love of Draupadi for Karna is something that has been explored by many writers. Some have even justified the romance, in the sense that the powerful and the dynamic character of Draupadi could find her match only in Karna and not in the five brothers, who were ‘incomplete’ without one another. It is said that even Karna had regretted his behaviour during the disrobing of Draupadi in the Kuru court after she was wagered and lost in the dice-game, and the behaviour was more to avenge his insult during the swayamvar of Draupadi. The undercurrent of an unexpressed romance has always been suspected in the entire Mahabharat.
    This myth has dual purpose. One is that everyone has secrets which they keep to themselves. Some of them are not revealed out of fear of antagonising ones loved ones and the fear of losing them if the secret is out. Sometimes it is not revealed as it would upset the apple cart, so as to say. In this case, it did shock the five husbands, but they respected the honesty and the forthrightness of Draupadi and more so because of the cause of revealing the secret, i.e. to avoid earning the wrath of the fasting sage. The significance of a confession is well brought out and the fact that it only does well and seldom any harm.
    The second purpose is that through this myth, the Pandavas also get the message that in spite of five brave husbands, they had failed their wife when she needed them the most. When Draupadi was being disrobed after she was lost in the dice-game, none of the ‘brave’ husbands could come to her rescue. It brought out the weakness amongst each one of them, and that Draupadi had a soft corner for someone who was more a man than the five of them. This was an insult which they had to bear without any malice towards their wife. Also, being the wife of five, made her that much vulnerable to such acts, than it did to their own wives, which each had taken for himself.
    If Draupadi had married Karna would this have happened?
    The question could well be, would Mahabharata have happened?
    This is the season of Jambul’s. Go get one for yourself and eat it. If it stains your tongue, then it means you too are harbouring a secret!!! 22 comments:

    Friday, June 1, 2012

    Mangoes – Nothing 'aam' about it

    Show me a man who doesn’t like mangoes and I’ll show you someone with faulty taste buds! Mangoes – the ripe, luscious, fruits which have something in them, that makes a child out of a grown-up man or a woman (lest I be accused of being sexist!). Mangoes, ripe or raw are a culinary delight. This King of fruits is an all time King of good times (no pun intended!).
    There are other fruits in the market, but none hold sway on man and its kind the way mangoes do. Have you ever heard crates of bananas being sent to a daughter’s in-laws house? Have you ever brought crate-full of apples and had them for breakfast, lunch and dinner and look forward to the same for the next day too? Have you ever seen any other fruit evoking such erotica the way a certain lady squirms on your TV screen with a ripe mango? So what is it about the fruit that makes one go all out for it.
    The answer lies in antiquity, like all quests lead you to!
    According to a Vedic myth, Surya bai, the daughter of the Sun god was transformed into a golden lotus to avoid being troubled by an evil sorceress. The sorceress was angry when she found out that the King of the land had fallen in love with the lotus, so she burnt the flower to ashes. Love triumphed as a beautiful mango tree grew from the ashes of the flower and Surya bai stepped out of a mango which was found on the ground. The King recognised his love and the two were united.
    Lord Buddha was given a whole mango grove for him to rest whenever he wanted to. Since then the mango tree was considered as a wish fulfilling tree. Mangoes are considered to be a symbol of love. The Mango leaves are considered auspicious especially in marriage rituals, which are used to assure the birth of sons. It is said that whenever there is a birth of a son, the mango tree bears new leaves. Lord Ganesh is seen carrying a ripe mango in one of his hands as a sign of attainment, the aspiration of every devotee of his. In Kalidasa’s Shankuntala, Kama, the god of love is supposed to have used the flowers of the mango tree to invoke love between Shakuntala and King Dushyant through one of his arrows. Goddess Ambika from the Jain mythology is traditionally shown as sitting under a mango tree.
    This takes us to one of the most important sites of Shaivite centres of devotion, the Ekambareswar Temple at Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu. Translated literally, ‘Eka’ means one and ‘amaram’ means Mango tree, together, Ekambaram means One Mango Tree and Ekambareshwar means god of the one mango tree. The temple was built during the Pallava rule and completed by the Chola rulers. But there is mythology around the temple and one of the most important area of the premises, which has a mango tree! It is said that once goddess Parvati was doing penance under the mango tree in the temple premises. To test her devotion, Shiva sends fire at her. Parvati took the help of Lord Vishnu, who with the help of the rays of the moon managed to cool the tree as well as Parvati. Shiva then sent the river Ganga to disturb Parvati’s penance. Parvati convinced Ganga that they were sisters and that she should not disturb her penance, to which Ganga agreed. Parvati then made a shiva-linga out of the sand and got united with Shiva. Shiva here came to be known as the Ekambareshwar or the god of the Mango tree.
    A depiction of the myth at the temple premises

    The Mango tree at the temple premises
    The tree in the premises is said to be the same tree under which Parvati performed her penance. The tree is sacred and unique in the fact that the four branches of the tree represent the four Vedas and it is said that the tree bears four different kinds of mangoes in four different seasons. (What is not mentioned however is that it is highly possible that someone in the days of yore had probably done some intelligent tree-grafting, which has survived till date – but then followers of faith do not see eye-to-eye with the doubting-Thomases of the modern world!).

    Mangoes have not been a topic of discussion just in mythology and religion. The uniqueness of the fruit is supposed to have first travelled outside India, during the travels of the Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang who is considered to be amongst the first to take the tales of the fruit outside India. Later the Portuguese took the fruit out to other parts of the world. There are numerous Indian folk-tales which have the eating of the mango associated with miraculous child-birth and seduction. There are legends about the royal courtesan in the kingdom of the Vaishalis, who came to be known as Amrapali since she was found under a mango tree. (But then that is a story from history and we will not discuss that here at the moment).
    To conclude on a doubting note; according to many scholars, the story of Adam and Eve took birth in the tropical zones which are not conducive for the growth of apples and pears. What could be highly probable, keeping in mind the tropical weather, was that the fruit could be either the papaya or a mango; papaya being highly improbable as a fruit of seduction (!), could it have been the mango, which hasn’t quite lost that charm even now?

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