Role of Chalukyas of Vengi and its Polity During Post-Gupta Period!
Eastern or Vengi Chalukyas a collateral branch of the Vatapi lineage, played an important role in the history of Andhradesa for more than four centuries.
There is a belief that they were the ancestors of the feudatories of the later Satavahanas and the Ikshvakus of Vijayapuri.
Further, there is also a view that the homeland of the Chalukyas, Chalukyavishaya consists of the northern parts of Rayalaseema and the south-western portion of Telangana.
The Chalukyas claim themselves to be the descendants of Hariti and belonging to Manavasyagotra like the Andhrabhiityas and the Kadambas of the Puranic lore. During the tenure of the later Chalukyas, a newchapterbegan in the history of the Telugus. Nannaya Bhattaraka, the Court poet of Rajaraja Narendra started the translation of Sanskrit Mahabharata into Telugu and earned fame and name as ‘Adikavi’ or the ‘first poet’, although Telugu was used in epigraphs since the time of Kubja Vishnuvardhana, the founder of this dynasty and we come across thousands of lithic epigraphs in Telugu inscribed on temple pillars of Andhradesa.
The founder of the Eastern or Vengi Chalukya power structure was Kubja Vishnuvardhana, the brother of Pulakesin II of Vatapi Chalukyan lineage. Pulakesin II after conquering coastal Andhradesa, appointed Kubja Vishnuvardhana as his viceroy in AD 624. We come to know from Kopparam epigraph dated in AD 631, that Pulakesin II permitted Kubja Vishnuvardhana to rule independently. The Vengi Chalukyas ruled coastal Andhra as independent sovereigns for more than four and a half centuries from AD 631 to 1070.
The Eastern Chalukyas had to fight with contemporary Pallavas of Kanchi as well as with the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta, who replaced the Vatapi Chalukyas. Consequent to the continuous warfare with their neighbours, the Chalukyas of Kalyani or later Western Chalukayas, the Vengi Chalukyas entered into matrimonial alliances with the Cholas of Tanjore to succeed in safeguarding their interests in Vengi territory.
As a result the Chalukyas of Vengi became pawns in the Chola-Chalukya struggle for supremacy over Vengi area. History and culture of the Eastern Chalukyan period could be constructed with the help of nearly a hundred copper plates and a number of lithic records found in different parts of Andhradesa. The Eastern Chalukyan rulers were also patrons of art and letters and they showed religious tolerance by patronizing Brahmanical as well as Jaina faiths.
Kubja Vishnuvardhana, founder of the Eastern Chalukyan line ruled from AD 624 to 641. He had the title of Vishamasiddhi and he had his capital at Pishtapura or modern Pithapuram. He appears to have undertaken conquests and extended his kingdom. He was followed by his son Jayasimha I, who ruled from AD 641 to 673.
Jayasimha I was a worshipper of Vishnu. His Vipparla epigraph happens to be one of the earliest Telugu records and it helps us to know the evolution of Telugu language. Jayasimha I was followed by his brother Indrabhattaraka, who ruled for a very short period. Indrabhattaraka was followed by Vishnuvardhana II, who ruled for nine years from AD 673-682. He was followed by Mangi Yuvaraja Vijayaditya, who ruled for a period of 25 years from AD 692 to 706.
Jayasimha II ruled from AD 706 to 719 after which started the internecine war between cousins for the throne. In AD 755, Vijayaditya II ascended the Chalukya throne and ruled till AD 772 and appears to have been defeated by Rashtrakuta heir-apparent Govinda III in AD 769.
Vijayaditya II was followed by Vishnuvardhana FV, who ruled from AD 772 to 808. He too was defeated by Rashtrakuta Dhruva and offered his daughter Seelamahadevi to Dhruva in marriage. The wars between the Rashtrakutas and the Eastern Chalukyas continued for a’ long time. Gunaga Vijayaditya III, the eldest son of Kali Vishnuvardhana and the most famous of the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi ruled from AD 849 to 892. He had the title Gunakenallata (The lover of excellence or virtue).
The historian N. Venkataramanayya suggests that there were three definite stages in the history of his reign:
(a) A short period of victory and expansion,
(b) A disastrous defeat and prolonged subjection to foreign rule, and
(c) A period of brilliant military victories leading to the assumption of imperial authority over the whole of the Deccan. He won victories over Boya Kotams with the help of his Brahmin general Panduranga.
He acquired the Pali banner the symbol of the insignia of Rashtrakuta, imperial title of Vallabha and proclaimed himself the Lord Paramount of the entire Dakshinapatha. Krishna II of the Rashtrakuta dynasty accepted the sovereignty of the Eastern Chalukyas. His Satuluru copper plate grant records his victories over the Pallavas and the Pandyas. Undoubtedly, Vijayaditya III or Gunaga Vijayaditya was the greatest conqueror and ruler of the Eastern Chalukyan line.
During his reign, Eastern Chalukyas rule extended from Mahendragjri in the north to the Pulicat in the south. After him the Chalukyan power began to decline due to wars of succession among the brothers and their children. The son of Vikramaditya IV, Chalukya Bhima II ascended the Chalukya throne in AD 934 and ruled for 12 years. He is credited with the victory over the Rashtrakutas.
Vishnuvardhana, Raja Bhima or Brihath Bhima and Rajamartanda were the titles assumed by him. Chalukya Bhima had two sons Danarnava and Ammaraja through different wives. Ammaraja drove away Danarnava and occupied the Chalukyan throne and once again there was conflict between Danarnava and Ammaraja and by AD 970, Danarnava occupied the Chalukya throne.
Danarnava ruled for 3 years and was followed by his son Saktivarma. Jatachoda Bhima of Pedakallu defeated and killed Danarnava. The death of Danarnava led to Telugu-Chola interregnum period from AD 973 to 1000.
Danaranava’s sons Saktivarma and Vimaladitya fled to Chola territory and sought the help of Rajarajachola. Saktivarma regained the Eastern Chalukyan throne in AD 1001-2. In this war, Jatachoda Bhima and his General Ekavira lost their lives. This led to a new struggle between the Cholas and the Kalyani Chalukyas for the hegemony of the Vengi territory. Saktivarma ruled from AD 1002 to 1011 and was followed by his brother Vimaladitya, who ruled from AD 1011 to 1018.
Vimaladitya had two wives, Kundava, a Chola princess and Medamba, a Telugu-Chola princess. Kundava gave birth to Rajaraja Narendra and Medamba gave birth to Vijayaditya VII. Once again we witness a fratricidal war for the throne in which the Cholas supported Rajaraja Narendra and the Kalyani Chalukyas supported Vyayaditya VII.
Political fortunes shifted from time to time and Rajaraja Narendra died in AD 1061. Rajaraja Narendra’s reign was full of difficulties because of constant threat from his half-brother, Vijayaditya who in cooperation with the Chalukyas of Kalyani gave him trouble. Before his death in AD 1061 he lost his throne and regained it by fighting with the Chalukyas of Kalyani and ultimately he became an ally of the Chalukyas of Kalyani.
Rajaraja was followed by Saktivarma 11 the son of Vijayaditya VII who ruled for a very short time. Vijayaditya VII, the brother of Rajaraja Narendra ruled Vengi in AD 1078 and Vengi then passed on into the hands of the sons of Kulottunga Chola, the son of Rajaraja Narendra.
Epigraphical and literary sources do not provide adequate evidences to construct the state of government and society. Yet a sketchy picture can be formed. There is a view that the Eastern Chalukyas also followed the hereditary monarchical form of government, wherein the king was the head of the civil, military and judicial branches. In recent times, A. Aruna in her book State Formation in the Eastern Deccan (7th Century AD-13th Century AD), 2000 opines that polity in Eastern Chalukyan period is an integrative rather than centralized or deceintralized state.
The king was not an absolute autocrat and was assisted by a council of ministers in the business of general administration. They divided their territory into administrative divisions like Rstra, Vishaya and Kottams for administrative convenience. Rastras were kept under the control of the collateral branches of the ruling house such as Chalukyas of Elamanchili, Mudigonda, Pithapuram and Srikurmam.
As the provincial rulers had internal freedom in the process of administration, it is likely that the administration was feudalized and decentralized. This was the main feature of their polity. Grameyaka or the Rastrakutamohattaro, i.e., the chief cultivator of the village was entrusted with the village administration. Besides Gremeyaka there existed a government nominee or representative directly looking after the village administration.
It is generally believed that the social structure was based on Vamasrama model though it seems to be less rigid. We also notice the practice of people taking to new professions leaving aside the assigned professions by dharmasastric tradition. Social tensions were not visibly present during this period.
Puranic dharma was prevalent along with Jaina faith. Jaina monks were very active in the Chalukyan territory. Ammaraju II of the Eastern Chalukyan family extended considerable patronage to Jaina monks. Most of the Eastern Chalukyan rulers were Saivities calling themselves Paramamahehsvaras. Whatever their personal faith, the Chalukyan mlers showed religious toleration as a policy.
Classical Telugu literature owes its origin to the Eastern Chalukyan patronage. Rajaraja Narendra patronized Nannayya Bhattaraka, who started the translation of Sanskrit “Mahabhrata” into Telugu and completed Adipatva, Sabha Patva and a part ofAaranya Parva. Arudra observes, “Though he has introduced many Tatsamas and Sanakritic features, Nannayya wrote in the live language of his day”. Nanne Choda of the Telugu Chola family was his contemporary.
He wrote “Kumarasambhavam”. He called himself as Kaviraja Sikhamani. Puvuluri Mallanna was another contemporary of Nannayya. He translated a Sanskrit treatise on mathematics entitled Sarasatigrahaganita, written by Mahaviracharyulu. Interestingly, Mallanna was a Saivite and Mahaviracharyulu was as a Jaina. This mathematical work of Mahaviracharyulu contains a chapter on mensuration, measurement of shadows, proper and mixed fractions and the theory of numbers.
The Eastern Chalukyas took interest in the construction of temples. All the temples were dedicated to Siva. Chalukya Bhima I was responsible for the construction of Bhimeswara temple at Samarlakota and at Draksharama. Vijayaditya II is said to have constructed 108 temples.
Yuddhamalla I built a temple to Kartikeya at Bezawada. Gunaga Vijayaditya constructed the Rajarajeswara, Golingesvara and Chandrasekhara temples at Biccavolu in the East Godavari District. The well-known Mahasena temple at Chebrolu was constructed by them. Rajaraja Narendra erected three memorial structures at Kalidindi in the West Godavari District.
The Eastern Chalukyan style of architecture is prominently visible at Draksharama and Biceavolu. The Golingeswara temple at Biccavolu contains some richly carved out sculptures of deities like Arthanarisvara, Siva, Vishnu, Agni, Chamundi and Surya. During this period the Buddha was worshipped as Vishnu and as such Buddhism lost its separate identity.
The Jatara of Mahasena at Chebrolu was a famous spectacle of this period. The Jatara used to start at Chebrolu in the Guntur district and reach Vijayawada and from there it returned to Chebrolu. The Eastem Chalukyan rule provided an identity to the coastal Andhras.