Role of Chalukyas of Kalyani and its Polity during Post-Gupta Period!
The later Western Chalukyas or Chalukyas of Kalyani or Kalyana played a dominant role for two centuries from AD 973 to 1200 in the politics of the Deccan and South India.
M.K.L.N. Sastry states that the Chalukyas of Kalyani followed the imperial traditions of the Vatapi Chalukyas and the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta and their period of more than two hundred years was a period of cultural efflorescence of Karnataka.
Innumerable lithic records and some copper plates and literary texts like Vikramankadevacharita, Manasoltasa and Vikramankabhyudctya of Bhulokamalla Somevara, Mitakshara of Vignaneswara, Merutunga’s Prabandhachintamani and Ranna’s Gadayuddha and Ajitapurana are very helpful to a student of history in reconstructing the historical and cultural edifice of the times of Kalyani Chalukyas.
The Chalukyas of Kalyani claim to be the close kith and kin of the Vatapi Chalukyas. But the origin of this family is debatable. After a close study of the available evidences, B.R. Gopal held the view that the Chalukayas were an indigenous Kannada family belonging to the occupation of agriculture and military background, who settled in and around and the Badami region. B.R. Gopal further thinks the word Chalukya is an archaic Kannada term.
The founder of the Chalukyas of Kalyani line Tailapa II, who was a feudatory of Rashtrakuta Krishna III, declared independence and started his reign from AD 973. He ruled for a period of 24 years from AD 973 to 997 and is credited with victories over Chedi, Orissa, Nepal and Kuntala. He is also said to have killed Munja, the Paramara ruler of Malwa. Taila was succeeded by his son Satyasraya, who claims to have won a victory over a Chola invader. Satyasraya was followed in succession by Vikramaditya V, Jayasimha I and Jagadekamalla. Jagadekamalla claims to have defeated Paramara Bhoja, the ruler of Malwa and the ruler of Chedi and Rajendra of the Chola line.
Jagadekamalla was followed by Somesvara I who ruled from AD 1042 to 1068 with the titles of Ahavamalla and Trailokyamalla. Bilhana in his Vikramankadevacharita states that Somesvara I built the city of Kalyana and made it his capital. V. Venkataraya Sastry is of the view that Kalyana appears to have been in existence even during the reign of Jayasimha II and was one of his Nelavidus or Skandhavaras.
As Sankaracharya in his Soundrayalahari mentions the city of Kalyana as great Devipitha, it can be safely surmised that Somesvara I made Kalyana a well guarded city and shifted his capital to Kalyana in the longer and larger interest of the safety from the invaders.
Jayasimha Jagadekamalla’s records refer to Etagiri, Kolhapur, Poltalakera or Patancheruvu, Kolippakai as Nelavidus or Skandhavaras or capitals and further a record dated AD 1044 refers to Pottalakere as the capital of Somesvara I. B.R. Gopal is of the view that it was only after AD 1044 that the capital was shifted to Kalyani, now in the Bidar district of the Karnataka region 48 miles north-east from Malkhed, the capital of the Rashtrakutas.
Somesvara I carried on the struck with the contemporary Chola power. While the Chalukyas claim victory over the Cholas, the Cholas stoutly deny it. Chola epigraphs claim that Somesvara I was defeated at Koppam in AD 1055 and again at Kudalasangamam in AD 1061. It appears that Dharavarsha, the Nagavamsi ruler of Chakrakuta accepted his supremacy and the territories of Kosala and Kalinga were occupied by him. After Somesvara I, his son Somesvara II became the ruler with the title of Bhuvanaikamalla and ruled till AD 1076. From Bilhana, we come to know that Somesvara I wanted to make his second son Vikramaditya his successor and after the refusal of the offer by Vikramaditya, Somesvara II was made the ruler.
It appears that the relations between the brothers strained as Somesvara II took to evil ways. A civil war broke out and in the end; Vikramaditya won and became the ruler. Vikramaditya VI had the title of Tribhuvanamalla even before he assumed the sovereignty. Vikramaditya bore the title of Tribhuvanamalla from AD 1071 and ruled from AD 1076 to 1126. Vikramaditya started a new era of Chalukya Vikrama era and continued wars against the Cholas. K.A.N. Sastri argues that both Vikramaditya VI and his Chola contemporary realised their parity in might and the futility of continuing hostilities and they suspended their raids into each other’s territories.
This is only partially correct as Vikrarhaditya continued his designs against Vengi and in the meanwhile he had to take measures to suppress the rebellious ambitions of Ballala I and Bittiga Vishnu Vardhana of the Hoyasalas, his subordinates. After a protrated battle with Hoyasalas, Vikramaditya succeeded in mastering the Hoyasalas and made them submissive to him.
Along with subjugating the Hoysalas Vikramaditya renewed hostilities against Vengi and by AD 1118 or 1119; Anatapala Dandanayaka the famous general of Vikramaditya gained control over Vengi. For all practical purposes, the Chola power disappeared from the other parts of Andhra too. Vikramaditya appointed his younger brother Jayasimha as Yuvaraja who however revolted against his brother in AD 1083.
Bilhana and Vignaneswara were patronized by him. Vikramaditya VI was followed by his son, Somesvara III, who ruled from AD 1126 to 1135. He assumed the titles of Bhulokamalla and Sarvajna Chakravarti. He also started a new era by name Bhulokamalla era. He appears to be a peace-loving ruler. Somesvara III was the author of Manasollasa and Vikramankabhyudaya in Kannada.
He was succeeded by Jagadekamalla II who ruled from AD 1135 to 1151. Jagadekamalla II was followed by his son Tailapa III, who ruled from AD 1151 to 1163.
As Tailapa III was a very weak and incompetent ruler the Kalachuri chieftain Bijjala, slowly and gradually usurped power by AD 1157 and Tailapa III died while fighting with the Kakatiyas. Somesvara IV, the son of Talipa III ascended the Chalukya throne but he failed to safeguard the Chalukyan power and was defeated in AD 1190 by the Hoysala Balala II and thus ended the Western Chalukyan power of Kalyani.
The death of Vikramaditya VI saw the beginning of the decline of Chalukyan power. Their subordinates the Kakatiyas ofWarangal, the Yadavas of Devagiri, the Hoyasalas of Dwarasamudra and the Kalachuris began to take advantage of the weakness of the rulers and began to make preparation to declare their independence. The Chalukyas of Kalyani disappeared from the arena of political power by AD 1190 during the reign of Somesvara IV.
The Chalukyas of Kalyani also followed the hereditary monarchical form of government, wherein the king was the head of the state with effective power. They bore the titles of Samastabhuvanasraya and Vijayaditya. Their insignia was a boar signifying the Varahavatara of Lord Vishnu that protected the earth. Interestingly the Chalukyan queens and other family members actively participated in the administrative process. Queen Lakshmidevi, wife of Vikramaditya VI claimed in an epigraph to be ruling from Kalyana.
We have some more evidence of Lachchala Mahadevi, wife of Somesvara I and Ketaladevi another queen of Somesvara I participating in administration. Manasollasa prescribes the qualities of the ministers and mostly ministers’ posts were hereditary. Manasollasa suggested the number of ministers to be 7 or 8. There is a view that the Western Chalukyan polity had elements of feudalism because of the existence of graded powerful political intermediaries like Samanta, Mahasamata, Mahasamantadhipati and Mahamandalesvara along with Senapathi, Dandaanayaka, Mahadandanayaka and Meghaprachandadandanayaka of the military service.
For administrative convenience the territory was divided as Rashtra, Vtshaya, Nadu, Kampana and Thana. There is no clear-cut demarcation between Rashtra and Vishaya and Nadu except that Vishaya and Nadu are considered as smaller units than Rashtra. All the copper plate chaners reconciling important transactions are addressed to all Rastrapatis, Vishayapatis, Gramakutakas, Ayuktakas, Niyuktakas, Adhikarikas, Mohattaras and others. The above indicates the channels of communication between the ruler and the ruled to be collective.
It is believed that during the rule of the Chalukyas of Kalyani, social life was based on traditional Vamasarama model. Though caste was universal and hereditary, the connection between caste and occupation was not rigid. The woman of higher strata of society played an important role in social and administrative matters; S.L. Shantakumari writes that the epigraphical records pertaining to this period reveal the names of a number of women not only belonging to royal families but also those of others lower in rank who distinguished themselves in almost all walks of life like administration, religion, social and cultural aspects of life of the period. Akkamahadevi, a Chalukya princess also led the armies in battle.
The Chalukyas of Kalyani patronized fine arts. An epigraph dated in AD 1045 refers to the construction of a Natakasala or theatre in the premises of a Jaina temple. We have epigraphic references to a flutist, songsters, florists, drummers and dancers, being given grants for their maintenance.
On the basis of epigraphical evidences, K.A.N. Sastri holds the view that next to the court, the temple was the great promoter of fine arts. Architecture, sculpture in stone and metal, and painting were promoted by the temples. An inscription dated AD 1085 from Nagai refers to a great sculptor Nagoja, who is called Kandarana Vidyadhirajam, the master of the art of engraving and we have references to other sculptures and engravings.
We have evidence of an epigraph from Shirur which states that Kankana or bracelet, Katisutra or waistband, Nupura or anklet and three sets of necklaces with suitable pendents were offered to the temple of Vishnu. We have reference to a merchant Sovisetti who supplied precious stones to the emperor and to General Barmadeva.
Trade and commence and agriculture were the backbones of the economy of the Chalukyan state. Majority of the people were engaged in agriculture as an occupation. The rulers encouraged agricultural operations by providing irrigational facilities like excavation of tanks, construction of irrigation canals which increased the fertility of the soil. A number of epigraphs testify to the above mentioned activities.
Epigraphs refer to the classifications of cultivated land as wet land, dry land and garden land, and tax collected from agriculturalists was not uniform and it varied from area to area. An inscription from Kolhipaikkai records that the lands were classified as Uttama, Madhayama and Adhama and even the villages were classified as above on the basis of fertility and yield. There existed private ownership of land along with joint ownership in villages. What epigraphs prove of this period is that economic disparities among different sections of the populace are noticeable.
Traders were organized into a number of autonomous guilds, with their own traditions and insignia and Prasasti. The most celebrated of such merchant guilds was the 500 Swamis of Ayyavolepura; who claim to be the protectors of Vira Bananjadharama, i.e., the law of the noble merchants. G.S. Dikshit is of the view that the period of the Chalukyas of Kalyana was the heyday of the guilds like the reign of their enemies the Cholas.
The most important guild of Ayyavola, Ainurrvar, Virabalanja or Valanjiyar or Nanadesi had its origin in Aihole in Bijapur district. This guild was very active in the regions of Tamil Nadu, coastal Andhra, Rayalseema, Telengana and Kerala; it had its activities overseas such as Burma, Malaya and Sumatra. The growth of trade and commerce led to the growth of market towns in all the above mentioned regions.
What we notice during this period in the religious domain is a general atmosphere of spiritual conciliation in which many creeds lived together on a basis of mutual tolerance. Saivism and Vaishnavism were the major branches of Pauranic Dharma of the present-day Hinduism. Sakti was also worshipped as Kollapura Mahalakshmi and Kartikeya was also worshipped and the main centre of Kartikeya worship was Kudidatani in Bellary district. Next in order, Jainism was also very popular and commanded a larger following. Basavesvara’s Virasaivism was also very popular.
Saivism appears to have become the dominant faith of the country and Srisailam was visited by the royalty. We come to know from epigraphs that Attinabbe, the daughter-in-law of Dhalla and wife of Nagadeva was a Jaina celebrity. She is also known as Danachintamani and appears to have constructed a big Jaina basadi at Lokinagundi. Buddhism too flourished at Belagave and Dambal.
Kannada and Sanskrit languages flourished during this period. Santinatha, the author of Sukumarachaitra, Nagavarmacharya, the author of Chandrachudamanijattaka are well-known scholars. Ranna rose to the position of Kauichakrauarty or poet laureate in the court of Tailapa II and wrote Ajitapurana in AD 993. Ranna described his work as Kavyaratna and Puranatilaka.
Durgasimha, the author of Panchatantra belonged to the time of Jayasimha II Jagadekmalla. One Sridharacharya, a Jaina Brahmin of the time of Ahavamalla Somesvara claims to have written the first Kannada work on Jyotisha or astrology by name Jatakatilaka in AD 1049. Nagachandra or Abhinava Pampa wrote Mallinathapurana and Ramachandracaritapurana or Pampa Ramayana. Nayasena completed his Dharmamrita in AD 1182. Besides the above Jaina scholars, a number of Virasaiva scholars also promoted Kannada languages and literature.
There were more than 100 writers, many women among them with Mahadeviyakka as a leader, among the Virasaiva teachers and writers. The Vairasaiva works are known as Vachanas. Besides Vachanas, distinctive Kannada metres like Shatpadi, Tripadi and Vagadas have also come into use.
Coming to Sanskrit literature, most well known are Bilhana’s Vikramankadevacharia historical Kavya on the life of Vikramaditya VI and Manasollasa of Somesvara III, the Kalyani Chhalukyan ruler and Mitkshara of Vignanesvara. Chalukya Jagadekamalla, who ruled between AD 1138-1150, is credited with the writing of musical treatise Sangitachudamani in Sanskrit.
K.A.N. Sastri observes that the art of Chalukyas of Kalyani found its fulfilment in the architecture and sculpture of Hoysala temples in Mysore. Art historians point out that the Kalyani Chalukyan temples had their principal entrances at the sides, and the decoration of their exterior was singularly graceful and lavish.
The art critics further observe that the Kalyani Chalukyan Vimanas were a compromise between the plain stopped storeys of the early Chalukyan style and the closely moulded tiers of the Hoysala temples. The doorways of the temples were elaborately carved. Temples of Ittagi are a perfect example of their artistic and sculptural glory. The Chalukyas of Kalyani earned a place of permanence in the evolution of Indian culture by their contribution of arts, agriculture, sculpture, painting and languages of Kannada and Sanskrit and by their liberal religious and realistic political policies.
A survey of the religious phenomenon in the Indian context from the perspective of space and time reveals that it was never static but constantly underwent modifications by assimilating and absorbing new features of practices and worship. Sanatanadharma, the forerunner of the later day Hinduism, advocated Jnana, Vairagya, Bhakti and Karma paths to reach God, while Jnana and Vairagya paths were followed by superior intellectual groups, the Karma and Bhakti paths are followed by common folk.
It is a well-known fact of history that Vedic Yagnas, worship of primitive deities with offering of blood, meat and toddy, the domestic rituals and worship of icon in temples, heterodox beliefs like Jainism and Buddhism flourished side by side, sometimes competing for space and sometimes adjusting, accommodating and absorbing other rituals into its fold.
We have already noted that initiation of puranic dharma in the Gupta and post-Gupta era along with devotionalism of an individual God – Siva and Vishnu and Sakthi worship revived the age-old Bhakti Marga as a popular way to attain God and to achieve liberation. It is to be noted that the Bhakti movement evolved in the South due to the efforts of saints, was different from the early Bhagavata cult of northern India.
There is no unanimity among scholars regarding the nature of the Bhakti cult. K.A.N. Sastri observes that this movement was strongly theistic in its character and definitely aimed at putting down Jainism and Buddhism. R. Champakalakshmi points out that the religious changes of the 7th to 9th centuries are hence viewed as a revival of orthodox forms, though not strictly a revival of Vedic religion per se. The Bhakti movement has often been characterized as a popular movement of dissent or protest against the social hierarchy of the Brahmanical order.
Kesavan Veluthat and M.G.S. Narayanan suggest that the Bhakti movement represented an ideology which sought to reflect and legitimize the emerging socio-political order which developed as an unpremeditated by-product of the new Brahmanical agrarian settlements centred on temples, partly as a means of fulfilling their missions and partly as an antithesis. Whatever may have been the objective and nature of the Bhakti movement, an ardent personalized devotion to Siva and Vishnu become deep-rooted in the psyche of the common people.
The Saiva saints are known as Nayanars and the Vishnava saints are known as Alvars. We have references to 63 Nayanars and 12 Alvars. Soul-stirring songs 158 The Post-Gupta Period in the Deuan and the Peninsula were composed in Tamil in praise of Siva and Vishnu and sung in temples. The most important of the Nayanars were Tirunavakkarasu, a Vellala, Jnanasambandar, a Brahmin and Sundaramurthi, another Brahman. Nambi Anadr collected the hymns of the above three in a canonical work called Theuaram.
Another Saint Nayanar Manikkavasagar was also very popular. We also come across a female Nayanar from Karaikkal, Nandanar, and a pariah, whose hymns attracted the attention of many devotees. The well-known Vaishnav Alvars were Nammalvar, Timmankaialvar and well-respected and revered woman-poet Andal. The Vaishanav saints’ compositions are collected in a canonical work called Nalayirajaprabandham. Although there were some Brahmins, among the saints, most of them were of the lower castes, belonging to the community of cultivators and artisans.
The sacred texts of the Divyaprabhandam reveal that Vaishnavism had its major centres in the northern and southemmost parts of Tamil Nadu and a few in the Kaveri region. Contrary to the Vaishnava impact the Saiva centres had their greatest concentration in the Chola region, i.e., Kaveri valley, in around the Pallava and Pandya capitals Kanchipuram and Madurai and their centres appear to be more than the Vishnava centres. By the time of the Cholas, Saiva centres proliferated beyond the Kaveri region.
Saivism could acquire a more popular and stronger base through the incorporation of mother-goddess worship, along with tribal and popular forms of worship. The inclusion of Murugan, a tribal deity into the Saiva pantheon was also a clever move which made Saivism very popular. While Saivism gained ground among agricultural and artisanal groups belonging to lower social order, Vaishnavism was popular among the dominant peasant groups and ruling elite.
The rise and popularity of the Bhakti movements led to the construction of temples in a large scale as centres of activity in different parts of the subcontinent in general, and particularly in the peninsula. Temple construction activity was undertaken by royalty as well as the subordinate chiefs of the king.
It is no wonder that at this time the temple became an institutional base for socio-religious and political order. It is well illustrated by the Thanjavur and Gangaikonda Cholapuram temples. By associating variety of people from various walks of life as active participants in the construction of the temple, the kings opened up channels of social communication and economic activity. Further, the establishment of educational institutions like Ghatikas, hospitals and Mathas was undertaken with the purpose of showing the concern of the religious and political elite in the interests of the common people. In a way Bhakti movement indirectly helped the growth of the power of royalty.
Another significant aspect of religious development to be noted is that of revival of Sanatanadharma or the Brahmanical religion. Kumarila Bhatta and Sankaracharya, by their effort revived the Brahmanical tradition. Both Kumarila Bhatta and Sankara were known as Smarthas or traditionalists who championed and revived the ancient Brahmanical religion. Kumarila Bhatta participated in religious discussions with the Buddhists and defeated many Buddhist scholar Kumarila enunciated the philosophy of ritualism or Mimamsa. Sankaracharya was born at Kaladi on the banks of the Alwaye River in North Travancore in the family of Nambudri Brahmins.
Govindayogi was his gum. He is believed to be born in AD 788. He lost his father very early and became an ascetic at a very early age. Sankara toured the whole of India propagating his Advaita philosophy and established four Mathas in different corners; Sringeri, Dwaraka, Badrinath and Puri and thereby tried to propagate his new philosophy of rigorously consistent monoism.
Ramanujacharya the greatest of the Vaishnava acharyas was born at Sripemmbudur near Madras in the first quarter of the eleventh century. He became the head of Srirangam matha after the demise of Yamunacharya. He propagated Visistaadvaita philosophy which reconciled devotion to personal God with the philosophy of the Vedanta. He affirmed that the soul, though of the same substance as God and emitted from him rather than created; can obtain bliss not in absorption but its existence near him.
He is said to have weaned the Hoysala king Vishnuvardhana from Jainism and established a well organized Matha at Melkote. Ramanuja went ahead of all the religious reformers by throwing open the temples to the outcastes one day in a year. Ramanujacharya died in AD 1137 and he is worshipped as znAvatara even today. In due course of time schism developed among the devotees of Ramanuja who were divided as Vadagalai (northern branch) and Tengalai (southern). Another great acharya of the 13th century was Madhvacharya the advocate of Dvaita or dualism.
He was born shortly before AD 1200 in a Brahmin family at Kalyanapura in Udipi Taluk of South Kannada district. He too became a ‘sanyasi’ at a young age and toured India.
He built a temple for Lord Krishna at Udipi and lived and preached his philosophy. He authored 37 books and of them, the most important are commentary on Brahmasutras and on Bhagavadgita and a book called Anuvyakyana. His central teaching was an acceptance of the world’s realities and of the distinction between Jeevatma and Brahman. TheJivatman, Brahman and the world were eternal realities and all the three had independent existence. He advocated that salvation could be attained through the grace of Vishnu and Brahman could be realized in himself and this was nothing but bliss. Basava is famous as the founder of Virasaivism or the Lingayat cult.
It is known as Aradhya Saivism in the Andhradesa. There are differences between Virasaivism or Lingayat religion and Aradhyasaivism of Andhradesa. Basava rejected the authority of the Vedas and injunaions and the prohibitions of the Brahmins and founded a new priesthood called the Jangamas. He ridiculed pilgrimages and sacrifices and preached equality of men and women. Basava laid more emphasis on social problems than on theology.
He stood for the abolition of caste distinctions and encouragement of manual labour based on professions and simple living along with a singleness of purpose. In North India this period saw the emergence of Islam as a major component of the cultural evolution of India. In Malabar region of Kerala, Christianity was making a similar impact.