Role of Chalukyas of Badami and Its Administration During Post-Gupta Period!
The Chalukyas of Badami or Vatapi, who came into prominence in the 6th century, played a crucial role in the politics of Deccan and South India in particular, and played a significant role in the history of India as well.
The Chalukyas of Vatapi were great patrons of art and architecture. They are originally the tributary princes under the Kadambas of Banavasi who ruled the Kanara coast from about the 4th century AD.
In the 6th century AD, the Chalukyan King Pulakesin I established his capital at Vatapi and declared his independence by performing the Aswamedha as a mark of his independence. The Chalukyas are said to have started from Badami or Vatapi and adjacent Aihole, moved northwards and annexed the territories around Nasik and the upper Godavari, which were previously ruled by the Vakatakas.
The Chalukyas of Badami mled until AD 757 but the Samangad epigraph dated in AD 754 proves that by that time, Dantidurga, the founder of the Rashtrakuta dynasty occupied the northern provinces of the Chalukyas of Badami. The origin of the Chalukyas of Badami is debatable. Different scholars have put different theories forward.
Primarily, there are two theories:
(i) Foreign, and
Those who designate them as foreigners depend on the similarity between the terms Chalukyas and Seleucid. Because of that similarity, they identify them as Seleucid. Contrary to the above view, Bilhana in his famous Kavya Vikramarnkadevacharita presents a mythical story that the Chalukyas originated from moon and associates them with Ayodhya. Bilhana suggests that the first Chalukya was created from the hollow of the hand of Brahma (Chalki) and the word Chalukya is derived from the word Chulika.
However, this theory is not accepted on the ground that Chalukya is not a Sanskrit word. There are other theories, which identify them as Solankis of Gujarat and others as indigenous Kannadigas who claimed Kshatriya status, and still others identify them as Sulikas or Sulkis of Orissa. Their Vamsika Prasasti resembles those of Kadambas and Gangas. From the similarities of Vamsika Prasasti, it can be argued that the Chalukyas considered themselves as the full-fledged successors of the Kadambas, not only in the political sphere but in the matter of patronizing the Vedic religion also.
Pulakesin I, the son of Ranaranga, is regarded as the founder of the dynasty of the Chalukyas of Vatapi or Badami. From the Vatapi Chalukyan records, we come to know that Pulakesin I was acknowledged by posterity as the defacto inaugurator of the Chalukya dynasty as a milling house of the Deccan and to be conferred with title of Maharaja performed an Aswamedha sacrifice and the title Vallabha was regarded as an integral part of his name.
He had also the second name Ranavikrama as known from Godachi, Mahakuta, Satara and Timmapuram epigraphs. He also happens to be the first to use the dynastic attribute of Satyasraya. His only dated Badami rock cliff-epigraph dated AD 543-44 refers to him as Chalukya Vallabheswara. He appears to have styled himself as Maharaja and is known as Dharmamaharaja like the Vakataka rulers. His performance of horse sacrifice was not only recorded by him but also referred to in the later dated epigraphs. His founding of the city of Vatapi was commemorated even in later times by the Chalukyas of Kalyani. He is also credited with having constructed the hill fortress of Vatapi.
Besides being a military adventurer, full time warrior, founder of a dynasty and the citadel, and performer of religious sacrifices, Pulakesi was also a scholar as known from Nerur plates of Mangalesa. He had two sons, Kirtivarman and Mangalesa. Besides constructing the fortification at Vatapi as a strategist, he also initiated as a devotee and as a connoisseur of art, the construction of temples, in and around Vatapi.
He appears to have built the Mahakuteswara temple with a small pavilion and installed the deity of Makutesvara Matha. Besides this temple, he also built another ancient temple known by an uncommon name Banantigudi. Makuteswara temple was said to be the earliest free-standing temple of the Vatapi Chalukyas. Thus a kingdom was born at the time of Pulakesin I.
Pulakesin I was succeeded by his son Kirtivarman I, who is referred to as the annexer of the kingdoms of Nalas, the Konkana Mauryas and the Kadambas. By the conquests, Kirtivarman appears to have made himself not only the master of the whole of northern Karnataka by eliminating the Kadambas, but also spread his hegemony westwards and eastwards, by defeating the Konkana Mauryas who were ruling a petty kingdom in Goa region and the Nalas who were holding sway over Bellary-Kurnool region.
Mangalesa in his Mahakuta pillar inscription lists fourteen kingdoms defeated by Kirtivarman, of which Vanga, Kalinga, Anga, Vattura, Magadha and Madraka are located in the north, while the remaining eight; Kerala, Ganga, Mushaka, Pandya, Dramila, Choliya, Senka and Vaijayaniti were to its south.
However, there is no direct evidence that the temple at Aihole called Chikkigudi is attributed to Kirtivarman. Three sons were born to him at advanced age and he died in AD 591-592. The Badami Vaishnava cave temple is attributed to Mangalesa, Kiritivarman’s brother. As the three sons of Kirtivarman were very young, Mangalesa, the uncle of the three infants, acted as the regent, with a promise that he would vacate as and when Pulakesin II, the eldest son of Kirtivarman was old enough to rule.
There are two dates regarding the accession of Mangalesa, sometime in AD 597-598 or AD 591-592. Not much is known of the martial exploits of Mangalesa, who appears to have made grants to the existing structural temple of Mukuteswara and also Ravalaphadi or Ravanaphadi cave, where the image of Nataraja is said to be represented flanked by Saptamatrikas.
K.V. Ramesh goes to the extent of saying that Ravalaphadi cave was conceived by Mangalesa as a royal portrait gallery and accordingly, he even had himself portrayed in the deified form of Nataraja and gave it a dynastic touch by enflanking the Saptamatrika images. Mangalesa did not yield to the wishes of the grown up Pulakesin II and he was forcibly ousted and killed in the battle of AD 609-610.
The Aihole epigraphs Post-Gupta Period in the Deccan and the Peninsula and the undated Modlimb plates of Pulakesin II say that he had earned his kingdom by his own might. After his victory over his uncle, he assumed the title of Satyasraya prithvivallabhatnaharajadhiaja-paramaheswara-bhatiaraka.
The Aihole epigraph of Pulakesin II, written by Ravikirti, gives the details of the military expeditions undertaken by him after he assumed sovereign power. K.V Ramesh observes, “from a study of Ravikirti’s Aihole inscription, it is indeed possible to deduce that the victories of his master therein narrated in their topographical sequence, though no tangible clue can be found as to the chronological succession of those events.
All that we can say, with a certain amount of conviction, is that the Aihloe inscription implies that Pulakesin II’s conquests were carried out at four different levels; two of them in the early years of his reign and the other two, a decade and a half later, each one of them contributing to a steady and successive improvement in his stature as one of the leading emperors of the subcontinent.”
Taking advantage of the civil war, the Gangas of Talakkad, the Kadambas of Banavasi, the Alupas of Aluvakheda and the Mauryas of Konkan appear to have withdrawn their allegiance. Pulakesin marched his armies against them and successfully brought them into his fold. He then appears to have turned northwards and defeated the rulers of Malwa, Lata and Guijara.
Perhaps, the newly earned hegemony of Pulakesin incensed Harsha and resulted in a battle between the two. Bana’s Harsha Charita is silent about this war. However, Hiuen Tsang mentions the war between the two indirectly. Ravikirti had two verses in his Aihole epigraph. “The powerful Harsha, whose feet were even worshipped by an army of extremely prosperous feudatories, lost his mirth because of his defeat at his hands and was disgusted at the sight of rows of his lordly elephants fallen in the battle.
Having returned from that war, while he (i.e., Pulakesin II) was ruling over the earth, with the help of his huge army, the Vindhyan neighbourhood, which was already lustrous with myriad Sandanks of the Reva, i.e., Narmada, became by the addition of his own greatness, even more lustrous, being avoided by the mountainous elephants which, in their size competed with the Vindhyan mountains.” Pulakesin II appears to have led a peaceful life for 15 years, before he undertook his other campaigns.
The undated Timmapuram plates and Kopparam plates reveal that Pulakesin II with the assistance of Vishnuvardhana subdued Pistapura, a land fortress and Kunala, a lake fortress. As a reward, Pulakesin appointed Kubja Vishnuvardhana his official Viceroy (Pruthviyuvaraja) in the conquered Andhra territories and allowed him to rule independently.
Pulakesin appears to have started his eastern and southern expeditions in AD 631 or AD 634 and won a victory over Pallava Narasimhavarman. It is said that the latter wracked his vengeance by defeating the Chalukyas totally and conquering Vatapi. The Pallava ruler claims to have put an end to the life of Pulakesin II.
Nevertheless, there is a controversy regarding the Pallava ruler who was attacked by Pulakesin II and about the result. While K.V. Ramesh is of the view that the Pallava ruler defeated by Pulekesin II was Narasimhavarman I, others are of the opinion that he could be Mahendravarman. It cannot be said definitely, how many wars took place between the Chalukyas of Badami and the Pallavas of Kanchi during the time of Pulakesin II.
It is certain that the Pallavas had the upper hand in the end and consequent to the success of Pallava Narasimhavarman, the Chalukyan territory had become a victim of anarchy and confusion, while Pallava Narasimhavarman assumed the title of Vatapikonda and the Pallava epigraphs boast of his victory over Vallabha. It appears that many subordinates raised banners of revolt and there arose a civil war for succession among the children of Pulakesin II.
Vikramaditya I, the worthy son of a worthy father, who assumed the titles of Vallabha, Prithvivallabha, Maheswara, Paramamaheswara, Maharajadhiraja, Satyasraya, and Ranarasika and Rajanadha waged a battle of vendetta against the Pallavas to revive the lost glory and prestige of the Chalukyas claims that he reclaimed his families’ formnes as well as the title Parameswara after defeating the enemies in all directions.
Epigraphs testify that he won success over three Pallava rulers, Narasimhavarman, Mahendravarman II and Parameswara Varman I. We also learn from the undated Hyderabad epigraph that the city of Kanchi was taken by force by Vikramaditya I from Parameswara Varman.
Vinayaditya, the son and successor of Vikramaditya also actively helped his father in all his conquests as attested by the Alampur Prasasti. Pulakesin II had four sons – Adityavaman, Chandraditya, Vikramaditya I, and Dharasraya Jayasimha Varman. Vikramaditya ruled from AD 654 to 681. His son, Vinayaditya appears to have inherited a fairly peaceful and prosperous empire from his father Vikramaditya I, and ruled from AD 681 to 697.
His son Vijayadatya who ruled a fairly peaceful and prosperous empire from AD 696 to 753 succeeded Vinayaditya. His rule was the longest of the Badami Chalukyas, and also the most prosperous and peaceful. His reign has been characterised as ‘the era of Benevolence’. We can agree with K.V. Ramesh that the expression Samastabhuvanasraya, which became one of the distinctive and opening epithets of the Kalyani Chalukyas, was for the first time brought into use by Vijayaditya. He is said to have won a victory over the Pallavas. It is also said that he captured Kanchi and forced its ruler Parameswaravarman to pay a huge war indemnity as tribute.
Vijayaditya died a natural death in AD 733. Vikramaditya II, son and successor of Vijayaditya ruled from AD 733 to 744. During the first part of his reign, the Arabs, after establishing their power in Sindh attempted to push into the Deccan, though their attempts were foiled by Avani Janasraya Pulakesin, the, son of Jayasimha, and the brother of Vikramaditya II.
Another feudatory, Dantivarman of the Rashtrakuta line also helped him. He revived the Pallava Chalukya rivalry. It is suggested that two expeditions were despatched against the Pallava ruler Nandi Varman Pallava Malla or Nandi Potavarman. In the first expedition led by Vikramaditya, Nandivarman Pallava Malla was defeated and Kanchi was occupied by Vikramadhitya.
A Kannada inscription at Kailasanadha temple records that he returned back huge blocks of gold, which belonged to the temple. The expedition led by his son Kirtivarman at the end of his reign was marked by success. Kirtivarman II, the son and successor of Vikramaditya II, was the last of the Badami Chalukyan rulers. His reign witnessed the ‘total eclipse’ of the political power, glory and prestige of the Badami Chalukyas due to the rise of their feudatories, the Rashtrakutas. Dantidurga, the founder of the independent Rashtrakuta line defeated Kirtivarman II and assumed sovereign power. Kirtivarman II attempted regaining of the lost glory, but failed. The continuous struggle with the Pallavas appears to be one of the reasons for the disintegration and decline of the Badami Chalukyan power.
The Badami Chalukyas adopted a monarchical form of government. The hereditary principle was followed generally and when it was violated occasionally, it led to a war of succession. In case a minor ascended the throne, a regent looked after the administration. Generally, the eldest son was nominated Yuvaraja.
Sons of the king were trained with necessary skills in the art of warfare and peace. The rulers generally assumed high-sounding titles like Paramabhattaraka, Maharajadhiraja and Parameswara. Theoretically, the king wielded unlimited power, though in practice he was controlled by political needs of the Samantas who wielded considerable power – the power structure was hierarchical. The king was assisted by a Mantrimandali and a set of high officials. Mahasandhivigrahika is very often mentioned in the records.
We come across the three important military officers:
(ii) Dandanayaka, and
(iii) Mahaprachanda Dandanayaka in the epigraphs.
The Amatyas looked after revenue matters. The kingdom consisted of two parts: one ruled by the king directly and the other ruled by Samantas. The position of the Samantas also varied. The king exercised control over the Samantas through his representative stationed in the feudatory kingdom.
For administrative convenience, the kingdom was divided into Rastras, Vishaya, Bhukti, and Grama. The head ofVishaya was called Vishayapati, the head of Bhukti was called Bhogapati and the Gramabhogikas or Gamundas were incharge of the villages. The towns were under the control of Narapatis or Nagarapatis.
The principal source of revenue for the state was land revenue. The rulers collected money through direct and indirect taxes resulting in high incidence of taxation on the common man. Land tax was collected in kind. The Chalukyas of Badami were well known as patrons of art, architecture, education and literature. The rulers gave Agraharas as gifts to learned Brahmins. Besides Agraharas, we come across Ghatikas or Vedic colleges. The Aihole epigraph prepared by Ravikirti is a testimony to the scholarship attained by him.
Both Sanskrit and Kannada received impetus. Vijayanka or Vijaya Bhattarika, identified as the wife of Chandraditya, son of Pulakesin II is also a recognized Sanskrit scholar of those times. Pujyapada wrote a treatise on medicine entitled Kalyanakaraka in Sanskrit. Two eminent scholars of reputation, Syamakundacharya and Srivardhadeva also flourished during the reign of the Chalukyas of Badami. Srivardhadeva also known as Tumburacharya wrote a commentary on Tattvardha Mahasastra with the title of Cudamani.
Qualitatively, the Badami Chalukyas made remarkable contributions to art and architecture. In Karnataka proper and in the neighbouring areas, nearly a hundred monuments are attributed to the Chalukyan patronage. The beautifully carved caves, free-standing temples and sculptures of this period undoubtedly constitute a landmark in the art history of India. The majority of structures were built for Hindu deities, while a few are also built for the Jain and the Buddhist worshippers.
While Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal constitute the major centres of artistic excellence, minor centres like Lakkundi cave temples, one each for the Buddhists, the Jainas and the Hindus, are found at Aihole. Similar rock-cut caves are also found at Badami. Groups of four pillared rock art halls of the same type are found at Badami, of which three are Hindu caves and one Jain.
Each cave comprised a pillared verandah, a columned hall and a small square cellar cut deep into the rock. Of the three Hindu caves, one is a Vaishnava cave belonging to AD 578. The cave contains fine reliefs of Vishnu seated, and of Anantapadmanabha and Narasimha. Both of them are located in the verandah.
These reliefs exhibit a high degree of technical perfection. Aihole and Badami temples reflect the first stage of the Chalukyan architectural style. Aihole is a town of temples and appears to be a sacred centre.
It contains many structures, out of which four deserve special recognition:
(i) Ladh Khan,
(iii) Hucimalligudi and in the Jaina temple of Megati.
Ladh Khan is a 15 metre square low flat-roofed building with a small square cell and porch set on the roof the art critic Percy Brown thinks that it was a moot hall converted into a temple. In the construction of Durga temple also, we notice an effort to adapt the Buddhist Chaitya to a Brahmanical temple. In this temple, we find a Sikhara curvilinear in shape after the northern style, rising above the sanctorum.
Hucimalligudi is a construction that appears to be similar to that of the temple of Durga. The Jaina temple of Meguti, though unfinished, exhibits some development in the direction of erection of structural temples. Of the temples at Badami, the Melagatti Sivalaya, though small is finely proportioned and magnificently constructed.
The Pattadakal temples embody an important stage in the history of the Chalukyan architecture. Pattadakal has ten temples. Out of them, four were built in northern style, while the rest are in the southern style.
The Papanasa temple attributed to AD 680 was built in the northern style. One view is that an attempt was made here to combine both northern and southern styles without success. The most notable example of the southern style is the Virupaksha temple built by a queen of Vikramaditya II, Loksanmahadevi of the Haihaya royal family. Though it was vastly improved in design and execution, it appears to be an imitation of Kailasanatha temple of Kanchi and to have been built by the artisans brought from Kanchi.
The Sangameswara temple was also built in the same style but on an open mandapa. Percy Brown, an eminent art historian observes, “There is a bold beauty in the appearance of the Virupaksha Temple as a whole which is best seen in the exterior. It is a comprehensive scheme as it consists not only of the central structure, but of a detached Nandi Pavilion in front, and it is contained within a walled enclosure entered by an appropriate gateway”. KA.N. Sastri remarks that the heaviness of the stonework is relieved by an increase in the amount and quality of the sculpture.
Percy Brown further observes that the Virupaksha temple is one of those rare buildings of the past in which the spirit of the men who conceived it and wrought it with their hands still lingers. The Badami Chalukyas professed faith in Brahmanical Hinduism by performing Vedic sacrifices and rituals, though they respected other heterodox faiths.
Pulakesin I proudly pro-claims himself as the performer of Aswamedha sacrifice. Besides Vedic Dharma, Puranic Dharma also appears to have become the dominant religious ideology, which promoted the construction of temples to Vishnu, Siva and other gods. We notice from the writings of Hiuen Tsang, that Buddhism was on the decline in western India while Jainism was still popular.
There is a view that the Badami Chalukyan period of nearly two centuries is marked by frequent invasions and plunder. It is because the resources of the state were limited and long-distance trade and commerce was in decaying condition and the Chalukyan land was rocky and infertile. Hence, the Chalukyas took the offensive by attacking the neighbouring rulers as well as the Pallavas in the south and Harshavardhana in the north.
Contrary to the above view, L.N. Swamy, argues that the rise of the Chalukyas as a political power in the Deccan gave rise to manifold cultural expansions of Karnataka both in the subcontinent and foreign countries especially in South-East Asia, Persia and China.
Based on the depiction of ship and sun symbol on coins found at Elephanta, Swamy holds that during the reign of Chalukyas of Badami maritime trade was flourishing. Relying on evidence of Hiuen Tsang, K.A. Nilakanta Sastri and Yazdani are of the view that Pulakesi II maintained a powerful navy.
Swamy suggests that Badami Chalukyas had trade relations with Persia, Greece, Ceylon, Cambodia, Malayan Peninsula, Siam, Burma and China. At that time, the ports of western India, Puri, Revatidvipa, Kalyana, Mangalore, and Chaul carried on trade with the countries mentioned above.
India exported rare wood, silk, and precious and semi-precious stones during this period and imported silk from China, sandalwood from Malaya, ivory and emeralds from Africa and horses from Persia. The Badami Chalukyas also maintained diplomatic relations with Persia and China and the Chalukyas received tributes from the kings of Persia, Simhala and Cambodia.
The Arab historian, Tabariz confirms that the Persian king Khusru II sent an embassy to the court of Pulakesin II. A painting in cave 1 at Ajanta also proves this fact. Further, Khusru II, the ruler of Persia states that “Two Years ago, Pulakesi, King of India sent to us in the thirty sixth year of our reign, ambassadors carrying letters imparting to us news and presents, for you and our other sons”.