The kingdoms of the Deccan and the Far South

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Article Sub-Category: DECCAN AND THE FAR SOUTH

Title: The kingdoms of the Deccan and the Far South
The Deccan and the Far South. Before proceeding to marrate the story of the Mohammedan conquest of the Panjab we shall turn aside for a moment to bestow a passing glance on the kingdoms of the Deccan and the Far South, which, for the reasons explained in Chapter I (ante, p.2), were rarely in touch with the north.

The Andhras, and the Chalukyas of Vatapi.  The Andhra dynasty (ant, p.59) held the Deccan until about 236.  The nest dynasty of which we know anything substantial is that of the Chalukya Rajputs, which established itself at Vatapi (Badami) in the Bijapur District.  The most notable prince of this line was Pulakesin II (608-42), who has been attempt made by HArsha to Intrude on the south.  His capital, probably then at or near Nasik, was visited by the Chinese pilgrim
Hiuen Tsang, in 641, who noted that the king was a Kshatriya by caste and that his people had a high and warlike spirit. Pulakesin, relying on his brave soldiers and mighty elephants, received loyal service from his subjects and treated neighbouring countries with contempt.  Learning was prized.  The kingdom contained more than a hundred Buddhist monasteries with more
than five thousand resisdents, but votaries of the Hindu gods were also numerous. 

       In the following year, 642, this proud monarch was humbled and deprived of his kingdom by the Pallava king of Kanchi (Conjeevaram).  Thirteen years later the Chalukya line was restored, and lasted for a century longer.  The kingdom of the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi between the Godavari and Kistna (Krishna) rivers, an offshoot of the Western Chalukya monarchy, lasted for about four centuries from 615.  In the end it became merged in the Chola kingdom of the south.

       The Rashtrakutas.  In the middle of the eighth century the sovereignty of the Deccan passed to the Rashtrakutas, a Rajput dynasty of uncertain origin, whose capital, at first at Nasik, was transferred to Manyakheta, now Malkhed, in the Nizam's Dominions.  The Rashtrakuta kings acquired great power, and were regarded as the leading princes in India by Mohammedan writers of the ninth and tenth centuries.  In fact, Amoghavarsha, who reigned in the ninth century for more
than sixty years, was reckoned to be the fourth among the great kings of the world, the other three being the Khalif of Baghdad, the Emperor of China, and the Emperor of Constantinople (Rum).  The rank and power of the Rashtrakuta prince were largely due to his immense wealth, acquired apparently by commerce.  The members of his dynasty were always on the best of
terms with the Arab rulers of Sind, with whom no doubt the Indian kingdom did profitable trade.  The Gurjaras of Rajputana and Kanauj, on the Rashtrakutas, who actually captured Kanauj in 916.  Amoghavarsha was a great patron of the Digambara Jains.

       The Chalukyas of Kalyani.  In 973 the Rashtrakutas had to give way to the second Chalukya dynasty of Kalyani, which lasted for more than two centuries, and was engaged in constant wars with the neighbouring powers. 

       The Hoysala and YAdava dynasties.  When Mohammedan armies entered the Deccan, at the close of the thirteenth and the beginning of the fourteenth century, the Mysore country was held by the Hoysala dynasty, and the western side of the Deccan was under the rule of the YAdava kings of Deogiri.  The Hoysala capital, Dorasamudra, was captured by Malik Kafur and Khwaja
Haji in 1310, and reduced to ruins by Mohammed bin Tughlak in 1327.  Ramachadra, the Yadava king, was forced to submit first to Ala0ud-din, and then to Malik Kafur, purchasing his life by payment of enormous treasures.  His son HArapala, who tried to shake off the foreign yoke, was defeated in 1318 by Kutb-ub-din Mubarak, who barbarously caused him to be flayed alive. 

       Religion.  During the centuries summarily noticed in the preceding paragraphs, many changes occured in the religious condition of the kingdoms on the Deccan table-land and in Mysore.  Buddhism, which had never obtained very wide acceptance in Southern India, slowly declined, and can be hardly traced after the twefth century.  Jainsm, which, according to tradition,
had been introduced into Mysore in the days of Chandragupta Maurya, continued to be popular for many ages.  As already observed, the religion of Mahavira was specially favoured by Amoghavarsha Rashtrakuta in the ninth century.  The conversion of Bittiga
or Vishnu, Hoysala king of the twelfth century, from Jainsm to Vishnuism, under the influence of the famous reformer Ramanuja, testified to the growth of orthodox Hinduism, and contributed to the decay of Jain influence.  We hear from time to time of fierce conflicts between the adherents of rival creeds, and occasionaly of violent persecutions.

       Art and literature.  Some of the best paintings in the caves of Ajanta date from the time of the Chalukya dynasty in the sixth and seventh centuries.  The marvellous rock-cut Kaliasa temple at Ellora, one of the wonders of the world , was executed under the orders of Krishna I Rashtrakuta, in the latter half of the eighth century.  The rule of the Hoysala kings of Mysore is memorable for the erection during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries of many magnificent Hindu temples,
covered with elaborate ornament and adorned by multitudes of fine statues.  Sanskrit literature was cultivated with success at many Rajas' courts, but no great original work of general fame was produced.

       The three kingdoms of the Far South.  From very ancient times the Far South, or Tamil Land (Tamilakam), was shared between three Dravidian kingdoms:  (1) the Pandya, corresponding with the MAdura and Tinnevelly Districts, (2) the Chera or Kerala, in the Malabar region, and (3) the Chola, on the Madras or Coromandel coast.'  These kingdoms kept up a brisk trade
with the Roman empire in the early centuries of the Christian era, and possessed an advanced civilization of their own, with institutions quite different from those of the Aryan north.  Very little is known about their political history before the ninth century.

       Chola supremacy.  In the tenth and eleventh centuries the Chola kingdom, under Rajaraja and his successors, became the leading power in the south, and maintained a strong fleet, which ventured across the Bay of Bengal and annexed Pegu. The Chola kings ordinarily were zealous devotees of Siva, and some of them are said to have cruely persecuted the Jains.  Such persecution seems to have had a good deal to do with the gradual decline of Jainsm in Southern India.  When the Mohammedans came, at the beginning of the fourteenth century, the power of all the old Dravidian kingdoms had become much weakened.

Even Madura, the Pandya capital, was held by Mohammedan governors from about 1311 to 1358.  During the fourteenth century the new Hindu state of Vijayanagar arose and dominated the whole of the Far South until its fall in 1565.

       The Pallavas.  Between the fourth and eighth centuries the ancient Dravidian states were disturbed and overshadowed by an instrusive and vigorous dyansty of uncertain origin, the Pallavas, who made Kanchi (Conjeevaram) their capital, and attained the maximum of their power in the seventh century, when they destroyed Pulakesin II Chalukya, as already stated.

       The Pallava kings were great patrons of art and architecture, and decorated their cities with many fine buildings. King NArashima Varman (625-45), the conqueror of the Chalukyas, founded the town of Mahabalipuram, and caused the beautiful rock-cut temples known as the Seven Pagodas to be executed.

       Greater India.  Indian culture spread far beyond the bounds of India itself.  We have already spoken of the influence of Asoka's mission on Ceylon, and of the spread of Buddhism, by way of Khotan, to China in the time of the Kushan kings. 

From Ceylon, Buddhist missionaries went to Burma, where a great kingdom sprang up at Pegu under Anawarata in 1080.  At the end of the seventh century, the Chinese pilgrim I-tsing found a flourishing Indian community at Srivijaya (Palembang) in Sumatra.  Java was colonized by Hindu settlers from Gujarat in the seventh century.  From 732 to 1250, most of Java and Sumatra
was ruled by the powerful Sailendra dynasty, who built many Buddhist and Hindu places of worship, including the wonderful stupa of Borobudur or the twelve Buddhas.   Another great dynasty ruled at Cambodia in Indo-China, and one of their kings founded a
magnificent capital at Angkor;  the temple at Angkor Vat is one of the wonders of the world.

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