Chapter -2 NEW KINGS AND
By the seventh century there were big landlords or warrior chiefs in different regions of the subcontinent. Existing kings often acknowledged them as their subordinates or samantas.
As the Samantas gained power, they declared themselves as Maha-Samantas or Mahamandleshvar ( lord of the region or circle).
For Example :- One such instance was that of the Rashtrakutas in the Deccan. Initially they were subordinate to the Chalukyas of Karnataka. In the mid-eighth century, Dantidurga, a Rashtrakuta chief, overthrew his Chalukya overlord and performed a ritual called hiranya-garbha (literally, the golden womb).
In other cases, men from enterprising families used their military skills to carve out kingdoms. For instance, the Kadamba Mayurasharman and the Gurjara- Pratihara Harichandra were Brahmanas who gave up their traditional professions and took to arms, successfully establishing kingdoms in Karnataka and Rajasthan respectively.
Tax was collected to sustain the power, construction of forts, wars, temples etc.
Kings often rewarded Brahmanas by grants of land. These were recorded on copper plates, which were given
to those who received the land.
Temples were rich source and thus when outsiders attacked , they attacked the temples.
One of the best known of such rulers is Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, Afghanistan. He ruled from 997 to1030, and extended control over parts of Central Asia, Iran and the north-western part of the subcontinent. He raided the subcontinent almost every year – his targets were wealthy temples, including that of Somnath, Gujarat. Much of the wealth Mahmud carried away was used to create a splendid capital city at Ghazni.
Sultan Mahmud was also interested in finding out more about the people he conquered, and entrusted a scholar named Al-Biruni to write an account of the subcontinent. This Arabic work, known as the Kitab ul-Hind, remains an important source for historians. He consulted Sanskrit scholars to prepare this account.
Tripartite Struggle :- One Particularly prized area was the city of Kanauj in the Ganga valley. For centuries, rulers belonging to the Gurjara-Pratihara, Rashtrakuta and Pala dynasties fought for control over Kanauj. Because there were three “parties” in this longdrawn conflict, historians often describe it as the “tripartite struggle”.
Other kings who engaged in warfare included the Chahamanas, later known as the Chauhans, who ruled over the region around Delhi and Ajmer. They attempted to expand their control to the west and the east, where they were opposed by the Chalukyas of Gujarat and the Gahadavalas of western Uttar Pradesh.
The best-known Chahamana ruler was Prithviraja III (1168-1192), who defeated an Afghan ruler named Sultan Muhammad Ghori in 1191, but lost to him the very next year, in 1192.
How did Cholas gained Power :-
A minor chiefly family known as the Muttaraiyar held power in the Kaveri delta. They were subordinate to the Pallava kings of Kanchipuram. Vijayalaya, who belonged to the ancient chiefly family of the Cholas from Uraiyur, captured the delta from the Muttaraiyar in the middle of the ninth century. He built the town of Thanjavur and a temple for goddess Nishumbhasudini there.
Rajaraja-I and Rajendra
Rajaraja I, considered the most powerful Chola ruler, became king in 985 and expanded control over most of these areas. He also reorganised the administration of the empire. Rajaraja’s son Rajendra I continued his policies and even raided the Ganga valley, Sri Lanka and countries of Southeast Asia, developing a navy for
these expeditions. ( Rajendra built Gangaikondacholapuram)
The big temples of Thanjavur and Gangaikondacholapuram built by Rajaraja and Rajendra, are architectural and sculptural marvels.
Chola bronze images are considered amongst the finest in the world.
Administration in Chola Empire :-
Settlements of peasants, known as ur, became prosperous with the spread of irrigation agriculture. Groups of such villages formed larger units called nadu. The village council and the nadu performed several administrative functions including dispensing justice and collecting taxes.
Rich peasants of the Vellala caste exercised considerable control over the affairs of the nadu under the supervision of the central Chola government.
The Chola kings gave some rich landowners titles like muvendavelan (a velan or peasant serving three kings), araiyar (chief), etc. as markers of respect, and entrusted them with important offices of the state at the centre.
We have seen that Brahmanas often received land grants or brahmadeya.
Inscriptions and Sabha :-
Inscriptions from Uttaramerur in Chingleput district, Tamil Nadu, provide details of the way in which the sabha was organised. The sabha had separate committees to look after irrigation works, gardens, temples, etc.
Who could be a member of a sabha in Chola Period?
The Uttaramerur inscription lays down:
All those who wish to become members of the sabha should be
- owners of land from which land revenue is collected.
- They should have their own homes.
- They should be between 35 and 70 years of age.
- They should have knowledge of the Vedas.
- They should be well-versed in administrative matters and honest.
- If anyone has been a member of any committee in the last three years, he cannot become a member of another committee.
- Anyone who has not submitted his accounts, and those of his relatives, cannot contest the elections.