Chintaman Vinayak Vaidya.

History of mediæval Hindu India (being a history of India from 600 to 1200 A.D.) .. (Volume 1) online

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Ijyadevi and that their son Jivitagupta was probably a wor-
shipper of the sun (the word here after parama is unfortu-
nately not readable) for he made or rather confirmed a grant
for the worship of the sun. Thus it will appear that these
Guptas were not Buddhists. Perhaps Madhava may have
been a Buddhist like and following Harsha, but as after
Harsha's death Buddhism was everywhere supplanted, in
Gauda too we have a revival of Hinduism or Aryanism and
the worship of Siva, Vishnu and the sun was re-established-
T-he story of the vengeance which according to the Rajata-
rangini the loyal servants of the Gauda king murdered in
Kashmir took on the god Parihasa — Keshava whose oath
^was violated is touching and illustrative of the great love and
42



330 THE FIRST HINDU KINGDOiMS

personal affection which loyal servants often bore towards
their royal masters in India.

The next reference to the Guptas of Gauda is in an in-
scription of the Nepal king Jayadeva dated Harsha era
153 equivalent to 769 A. D. (Ind. Ant. IX p. 178). This in-
scription gives two important facts. Jayadeva's father Siva-
deva had married a daughter of king Bhogavarman of the
warlike Maukhari line and she was "the grand-daughter of
tke qrea' Magadha king Adityasena" Now this mention of
the grand-father shows that the Magadha king was the
greater of the two. We think that this was the same Gupta
line continued, the name Adityasena recurring in 769 A.D.
from 672 A. D. This further shows that there was a line of
Maukhari kings contiguous to Magadha probably in Bihar
to whom the Guptas usually gave their daughters in marri-
age and this Maukhari king gave his daughter in marriage
to theKshatriya Lichhavi king of Nepal which is contigu-
ous to Bihar. This Maukhari king Bhogavarman probably
belonged to the same subsidiary line as gave the kings
Sardula and others already mentioned and was an offshoot
very probably from the chief Maukhari line of Kanauj (see
Book I ). We have as yet discovered no further mention of
the Guptas of Gauda in inscriptions. Probably these later
Guptas, descendants of Madhava of about 650 A. D. disap-
peared about 800 A. D. when a new line of kings appeared
in Magadha as we shall show in our next volume.

(2) Vang A
Vanga was distinct from Gauda in the 7th and 8th cen-
turies. But Vanga is an ancient name, Anga (Bihar) and
Vanga (Bengal) being always mentioned together. The
name Vanga was in fact applicable to the whole province
and the word Bengal which is derived therefrom is proper-
ly applied to it as a whole. But Vanga was in these two
centuries denotative of Eastern Bengal. When Yaso-
varman conquered Gauda in battle he is said in theGauda-
vaho to have gone further east and conquered Vanga.
Again in two Rashtrakuta inscriptions it is said that the
ruler of Kanauj had invaded and conquered Bengal and



VANG A 331

seized two white royal umbrellas and that these were tra-ken
from him by the ruler of the Deccan. This shows that
Gauda and Vanga were two kingdoms about 700 as also
about 800 A. D. When Hiuen Tsang visited Bengal there
were five or six kingdoms there, according to the account
given in his Travels.These were 1 Hirany aparvata (Monghir)
2 Champa (Bhagalpur) 3 Kajugal (Rajmahal) to the south
4 Paundravardhana (Rangpur) to the north of the Ganges
'and 5 Karnasuvarna or Murshidabad to the west of the
Ganges with 6 Samatata (Eastern Bengal Decca etc.) to the
east of the Ganges and 7 Tamralipti or Midnapur to the
south on the Bengal coast. From the directions given in
the Travels, we find Hiranyaparvata, Champa and Kajugal
were on the south of the Ganges but these must have been,
under Karnasuvarna. Paundravardhana was on the north
while Samatata was on the east of the Ganges lower
down and Midnapur or Tamralipti was on the west. Hiuen
Tsang specially mentions that the ruler of Hiranyaparvata
was deposed recently by another ruler while in the others
no kings are mentioned. In Samatata or Eastern Bengal
or Vanga as it was also called, he mentions a Brahmin
family of rulers. In Midnapur or Tamralipti no king is men-
tioned. This kingdom was sometimes included in Bengal
and sometimes in Odra or Orissa. Thus we see that even
in Hiuen Tsang's time there were two chief kingdoms only
in Bengal viz- Gauda (Karnasuvarna) and Vanga (Samatata).
The word usually used in modern languages for this province
is Gauda-Bangala which also suggests that there were two
kingdoms connected together. Why these kingdoms became
specially known throughout India for magic and sorcery
cannot be surmised. But the reputation of these parts in
these arts cannot be denied and perhaps magic was beleived
in and practised most extensively among the lower popula-
tion of these two countries even then.

The supremacy over the smaller kingdoms in Bengal
seems to have been enjoyed now by one king and now by
another during this period viz. from 600 to 800 A. D. We
have already related the story cf the Kashmir king Jaya-



332 THE FIRST HINDU KINGDOMS

pida going alone and unattended to Paundravardhana where
a king Jayanta ruled. He gave him his daughter and the
latter is said to have conquered 5 neighbouring kings in
behalf of his father-in-law. The years of Jayapida's reign
are 751-7^2 A. D. (see Kashmir chronology). King Harsha-
deva of Kamarupa (Assam) mentioned in an inscription
of Jayadeva of Nepal dated 769 A. D. noticed before is said
to have conquered Gauda, Odra, Kalinga and Kosala {n\€]-
^TK'+k-is-^vRTcSTrrT: ). This shows that none of these Bengal
kingdoms were strong during this period and tha tthey
were constantly subject to foreign invasions.

(3) THE BHAGADA.TTA LINE OF KAMARUPA OR ASSAM

We have already noticed this line of kings of Assam
when Hiuen Tsang visited it, Kumara or Bhaskaravarman
was the king- The same line of Brahmin kings continued
through the two centuries herein treated of. We have above
noted the name of Harshadeva who is said to have given his
daughter to Jayadeva of Nepal ( +TTT^TT^r^-fJc^T ). This line
though Brahmin, as usual, gave daughters to and married
daughters from Kshatriya families. The Assam kings were
sometimes powerful enough to conquer Gauda, Vanga, Odra
etc. They themselves owing to their mountain-girdled ter
ritory continued undisturbed. Or is tradition only beguiling
us in showiog that there was only one line of kings for
thousands of years ? Such exceptional lines no doubt are
to be seen in the Himalayan regions. But even here we
may be mistaken and different dynasties may have succeeded
one another as usual after a duratioa of 150 or 20Uyears.
The traditions, however, usually give one continuous line
for thousands of years. One fact at least may be admitted;
these countries in the inaccessible Himalayan regions
continued to enjoy independence, undisturbed by the
ambitions of conquering races, which usually overspread
the. plains. How long this Bhagadatta (of the Mahabha-
rata fame) line continued we cannot say. It certainly was
ruling in Assam about 800 A. D. with which our first period
of mediaeval Hindu history closes.



CHAPTER XIV

THE VARMAS OF KANAUJ

We now came to Mid-India and the most important
kingdom of Mid-India was of course Kanauj, The whole
of Northern India or rather the present U. P. was then un-
der the dierct control of Kanauj and the rest of Hindustan
was often under its nominal suzerainty. WhenHarsha died
about 647 A. D. he left this vast empire without a claimant.
He had no son. It is not clear whether Rajyasri was then
alive; even if she were, she too was not the proper heir and
had no male issue. The kingdom or empire therefore at
once plunged into anarchy and it is natural that usurpers
should have found room for satisfying their ambition.
But the story which Sir V.Smith and other historians here
set forth about the usurpation of the whole kingdom by a
minister named Arjuna or Arunasva and his defeat by a
Chinese envoy is unreliable and has most probably been
misunderstood. It is from Chinese authorities that this
story is taken and in that story the natural desire of the
Chinese to exaggerate their own importance and valour is
so evident that the story has only to be related to be at once
rejected as unreliable. The Chinese envoy insulted by
Arjuna, escaped into Tibet, it is related, and returned
with 1200 picked Tibetan soldiers supported by a Nepalese
contingent of 7000 horsemen ( Nepal being at this time
subject to Tibet). "With this small army the er»voy Wang-
hiuen-tse descended into the plains and after a siege of
three days succeeded in storming the chief city of Tirhut.
Three thousand of the garrison were taken prisoners
and 10000 were drowned in the river Bagmati. Arjuna fled
and having collected a fresh force offered battle. He was
again defeated and taken prisoner. The victor promptly be-
headed a thousand prisoners and obtained more than 30000
horse and cattle. Five hundred and eighty walled towns
offered their submission and Kumara the king of Eastern
India who had attended Harsha's religious assemblies sent



•234 THE FIRST HINDU KINGDOMS

abundant supplies of cattle and accoutrements. Wang-
hiuen-tse took the usurper prisoner to China and Tirhut
remained subject to Tibet for some time." — (Smith's Early
Hist, of India 3rd Edn. p. 353).

The absurdity of this exaggerated story is so apparent
that it is a wonder that historians like Smith have not
seen it in its true proportions. The difference between
Jndian and Chinese or Tibetan civilizations and armaments
was then not great — was in fact nil — and it is impossible to
believe that a few hundred Tibetans could defeat several
thousand Indians and annihilate them as the English did
the Mahomedans at Plassey or the Hindus at Assaye.
Moreover, if Arjuna had usurped Harsha's throne, where
was the mighty military machine which Harsha had reared
and by which he had conquered and. kept in subjection
the whole of Northern India? And why was the fall of
Tirhut sufficient to humble the usurper and why was not
Kanauj itself besieged ? ' The scene is laid^at Tirhut and
not at Kanauj and the story may easily be reduced to its
true proportions. What really happened must have been
something like the following.

Who succeeded Harsha a/ Kanauj is not known. But
natural it is that his death was a signal for a political as
well as a religious revolution. Buddhism under Harsha's
imperial encouragement had had its last lustre, all the
effulgence which preceeds deatn and it may be believed
that the forces of Hinduism which were already gathering
strength even during the life time of Harsha (as evidenced
by the attempt on Hiuen Tsang's life at Prayaga) became
supreme after his death and it may be surmised that both
Harsha and Rajyasri being gone, an orthodox Hindu
claimant of the original Varma family seated himself on
the throne of Kanauj. In the provinces of the empire
dependent states and even governors must have become
independent. These, at the same time, being strongly in-
clined towards the reviving Hinduism were opposed to
Buddhism. Arjuna was one such petty governor or ruler
of Tirhut or modern Bihar. The Chinese Buddhistic



THE VARMAS OF KANAUJ 335

mission probably to Buddha Gaya which came to India
in 647 A.D. had to pass, on leaving Nepal, through the
territory of this Tirhut governor and it was probably set
upon by this orthodox Hindu petty Raja who might have
entertained a deadly hatred towards these Chinese
Buddhistic missions, now that Harsha no longer lived.
The envoy escaped, went back to Tibet, obtained some aid
from that country and Nepal and fought with this petty
Raja of Tirhut and perhaps even tdok him prisoner ;
Kumara who was friendly to Hiuen Tsang and to Harsha
and to Buddhism may have assisted the Chinese envoy
with supplies. In short it was a purely local affair and
Arjuna cannot be supposed to have seized the throne and
power of Harsha himself.

Who succeeded Harsha? As we have said above, it
must have been some Varma king of the Maukhari line.
There is not the least doubt that about the end of the 7th
century there was a Varma king named Yasovarman on
the throne of Kanauj and he held extensive sway and had
great power. He was a great patron of letters and he had
at his court the celebrated poets Bhavabhuti and Vakpa-
tiraj. In the Gaudavaho, a Prakrit poem by Vakpatiraj in
praise of his exploit in conquering a Gauda king we are told
that he was a Somavamsi Kshatriya. The Maukhari Var-
mas, we have already remarked, were probably lunar line
Kshatriyas. This Yasovarman aimed at the suzerainty of
the whole of Northern India like Harsha and began his
digvijaya by conquering the Gauda king who was as we
have also seen before, a hereditary enemy of the Varmas of
Kanauj. Whether this Ganda king was a Gupta, what
city he ruled in and how he was killed we are not told in
the Gaudavaho. Probably the poem as we have it is only
an introductory chapter to a bigger poem which the poet
intended to write. But the later reverses of Yasovarman
put a stop to the composition of this greater work. For
we know from contemporary records that Yasovarman
wa« certainly defeated by the Kashmir king Muktapida
Lalitaditya who also aspired to the empire of India,



336 THE FIRST HINDU KINGDOMS

and that Yasovarman was also very prvbably defeated by a
Chalukya king of the Deccan. The story of Lalitaditya's
conquest of Yasovarman we have already detailed in the
history of Kashmir and we may merely refer to the fact
that this defeat must have happened about the close of
the 7th century, only a few years after the accession of
Lalitaditya in 697 A. D. i. e. about 700 A. D., notwith-
standing the difficulty created by Chinese accounts which
we have already discussed in a note. The defeat of
Yasovarman by a Chalukya king must have happened
before this event as we now go on to relate. Here it
must first be stated by way of closing the previous his-
tory, that Yasovarman must have conquered the Gauda
king about 680 or 690 A. D. at the latest and must
theiefore have come to the throne in about 675 A. D.
Between Harsha's death in 647 and Yasovarman's acces-
sion i.e. between 647 and 675 A. D. two kings of the Varma
line must have reigned. Who they were history has not yet
discovered for no inscriptions have yet been found which
throw a light on this point. But Yasovarman's power and
ambition seem consistent with the usu.al course of history
wherein we usually find the third king in a new line
rising to the greatest glory ( witness Pulakeshin II, Akbar,
Nana Saheb Peshwa, Lalitaditya himself and many others.)

To turn to the defeat of Yasovarman by theDeccanese
we have seen in the history of the Chalukyas of Badami
that Vinayaditya, son of Vikramaditya and grandson of
the famous Pulakeshin II who defeated Harsha is mentioned
in many incriptions to have defeated a northern king.
This point has remained a riddle and has not yet been
solved. We find that this Vinayaditya ruled from 680 A. D
to(>96A. D. In his grants found dated up to 616 Saka
or 694 A. D. there is no mention of his having defeated a
northern king. Hence it must follow that he defeated a
northern king between 694 and 696 A. D. a date which
tallies well with our theory that Yasovarman in his digvijaya
attacked the south like Harsha after his conquest of the
east; but like Harsha himself sustained a signal defeat



THE VARMAS OF KANAUJ 337

at the hands of the grandson of Pulakeshin II. This fact
is mentioned in more than one Chalukya grant and is also
mentioned in later Eastern Chalukya grants. It must
indeed have been a memorable victory over Yasovarnian
like that of Pulakesin over Harsha. The grants declare
that Vinayaditya obtained certain insignia of empire such
as Palidhvaja, Makara Torana, the sun and the moon and
Ganga and Yamuna etc- The earliest mention of this
victory and the acquistionof imperial insignia is found in
a grant of S. 622 of Vijayaditya ( Ind. Ant. Vol. XX p. 127).
The battle was fought between his father Vinayaditya and
a northern king, but the son Vijayaditya was himself
present at this battle and was a great leader and by valour
acquired the imperial insignia (:3tRn2rT^l%5tTqf5^RTTcf : •'i^-H-J+iHl-
mf^'^-i'^ci^'l*l^^r'^h'i,M^^ll''J|+iiJHdS - ilc;XN'i'TTcf^JT). This grant is
dated 622 S. or 700 A. D, and this defeat must have happen-
ed some years before and certainly before 696 A. D. the
date of his father's death i. e. in 695 A. D. as said above.
The insignia mentioned are very important. They include
Ganga and Yamuna the significance of which is not un-
derstood by many as we have already remarked. These
two may be taken as showing that the sovereignty of
Mid-India with its two principal rivers the Ganges and
the Jumna was considered to be the sovereignty of the
empire of India; and this mention also makes it certain
that the king of the north who was defeated was Yasovar-
man king of Kanauj and lord of the chief Indian kingdom
the region of the Ganges and the Jumna ( see also the
epithet applied to his father Vinayaditya in this very
grant ('I^B^^q^'^:m^-T^TqTfMTT%?T-'7TR5''^"^^jm%- TfT^rT-wiT>^i%^T3j-).
There is thus no doubt left that Yasovarman aspired to be
or was paramount lord of north India and being defeated
by Chalukya Vinayaditya I was deprived in 695 A. D. of
the insignia of paramountcy.* This same grant mentions



* These insignia are detailed in many later grants also. What is Palidhavaja cannot
be determined. Sun, Moon, and Makaratorana or Fish Torana are strangely enough the
insignia of royalty even now. They were taken by the Mogul kings also and are
enjoyed by the Maharaja Scindia at the present day. It is strange how things stick. To
find the -Sun, Moon, and fish among the insignia of paramount kingship, so early as
the Chalukyas of Badami of 70ii A. D. is indead wonderful.

43



338 THE FIRST HINDU KINGDOMS

the captivity of Vijayaditya by a bad stroke of fate and
this incident may have happened even in this very war
with the king of the north though as has been held already
it may have happened in a war with the Pallavas of the
south. That it must have happened before 700 A.D. or S. 622
the date of the Nerur plate inscription in which it is first
mentioned cannot be denied. It must probably have hap-
pened after 696 A. D. and before 700 A. D. and Vijayaditya
owing to this event must have remained unmolested or
uncared for in the digvijaija of Lalitaditya who came to
the south and to the Vengi kingdom as stated in the
chapter on Vengi about 703 A. D.

Yasovarman's scheme of digvijaya failed first in the
south and finally when he met king Lalitaditya of the
north. The details of this later defeat have already been
noticed. Ya?ovarman was not killed in that campaign
though certain words in the RajataranginI would lead us
t(t believe it. He remained in nominal subjection to
Lalitaditya as usually happened in all histories of
Indian empires as they were conceived before the Maho-
medan conquest. Previous Indian empires, as we have
often said, did not mean the annexation of territory and
subdued states lived in practical independence subject to
payment of tribute only. Yasovarman must have lived
till about 710 or later. One may be in entire agreement
on this point with the late S. P. Pandit who in his introduc-
tion to Gaudavaho asssigns to Yasovarman a reign from
675 to 710 A. D.

The greatest thing to be remarked about Yasovarman
is that his reign synchronised with and marked the final
ascendency of revived Hinduism. Indeed this revival
began even during Harsha's reign. Orthodox Hinduism at
this time rallied round the sanctity of the Vedas and the
effioacy of Vedic sacrifices, two tenets on which Bud-
dhism was most opposed to it and Purva Mimansa or the
philosophy of Vedic ritual was studied most zealously
even during the reign of Harsha, Bana describes his own
uncles as great students of the Mimansa Sastra and as



THE VARMAS OF KANKUJ 339

performers of Vajapeya, Agnishtoraa and other Vedic
sacrifices. The great apostle of PurvaMimansa, Kumarila
Bhatta, according to S. P. Pandit was the Guru or teacher
of Bhavabhuti and grand-teacher of Vakpatiraj as is
evidenced by a colophon of Bhavabhuti's drama Malari-
Madhava and we may provisionally accept the dates
approximately assigned to these great men by S. P. Pandit
(Intro, to Gaudavaho p. ccix). as follows : —

Kumarila Bhatta b. 590 d. 650 A. D.
Bhavabhuti his pupil b. 620 d. 680 A- D.
Vakpati his pupil and admirer b. 660 d. 720 A. D.
Yasovarman their patron reigned 675-710 A. D.

These are of course conjectural dates but they are
supported well by the proved facts in Indian ancient
■history and we may well believe that the fame of Kumarila
had been established in the later days of Harsha and it
was his followers who offered a stout resistance to the
preachings of Buddhism in Harsha's last assemblies. Of
course we reject here the popular belief that Kumarila was
the immediate predecessor of Sankara the next grand
figure in the history of the revival of Hinduism. The
story of Kumarila's defeat by Sankara is like the story of
Vikrama's defeat by Salivahana or Kalidasa's defeat in
poetry by Bhavabhuti, — absurd and evident anachronisms.
After Harsha's death, under the re-established or later
Varmas, the Purva Mimansa philosophy became supreme
and Buddhism was finally expelled from the centre of the
Hindu empire, the valley of the Ganges and the Jumna.
Naturally under Yasovarman, Kanauj the capital of the
Hindu Central Empire became the centre of orthodoxy
and attained great religious importance which it retained
as we have said, down to the Mahomedan conquest. The
Kanaujia Brahmins became the leading Brahmins in the
whole of India and they were subsequently placed properly
enough at the head of the five Brahmin chief subcastes
of northern India as they are now enumerated. The sub-
division of Brahmins into five Gaudas and five Dravidas
had yet, no doubi, v/o arise as we shall have to relate later



340 THE FIRST HINDU KINGDOMS

on. But it is worth remarking here that the pre-eminence-
of Kanaujia Brahmins began from this reign. Gauda or
Kurukshetra and Thaneser had already sent Brahmins
and Kshatriyas into Bengal but later tradition in Bengal
relates that five Kanaujia Brahmins and five Kayasthas
were about this time or a little later after this, invited to
and settled in Bengal by the first orthodox king of
Bengal Adisura ; about whom we shall have later on to
speak. This revival of the Vedas and the science of its
interpretation Purva Mimansa was indeed not confined
to the north but was zealously carried on in the south also
i. e. in the Deocan under the Chalukyas as we have
already seen. By the efforts of both, Buddhism was finally
extinguished in India with the exception of Magadha its^
birth-place where it survived a few centuries more.

The power of the Varmas declined towards the end of
Yasovarman's reign and still more after him. One of his
successors was VajrayudhaCthe change in the name-ending
from Varma to Ayudha does not necessarily indicate
change in family though it raises a presumption of it,)
and he was again defeated by a Kashmir king named
Jayapida who wished ^o imitate Lalitaditya in his foreign
conquests but who only approached him from a distance.
The date of Jayapida according to the Rajatarangini is
751-782 A. D. and this date is according to our wiew
correct and not subject to alteration by the addition of
25 years as has been shown in the chapter on Kashmir.
Jayapida was a grand-son of Lalitaditya and apparently
Vajrayudha was also a grand-son of Yasovarman conquered
by Lalitaditya. Yasovarman's reign ended about 710 A. D.
and in 751 A. D. his grand-son Vajrayudha may properly
enough have been on the throne of Kanauj. The minister
of Jayapida was also a Brahmin named Devasarman a
grand-son of the famous foreign minister Agnisarman of
Lalitaditya. This Vajrayudha is mentioned in the
Karpura Manjari of Rajasekhara (Konow and Lenman
p. 266) as a king of Panchala reigning in Kanauj.

The next mention of a king of Kanauj of this line is
Chakrayudha mentioned in the Bhagalpnr copperplate-



THE VARMAS OF KANAUJ 341

;grant of a Pala king of Bengal. (Ind. Ant. Vol. XV p. 304.)
The relevant verse is as follows : M^-i



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