In this article we have compiled a list of top ten Rajput kings who ruled over Northern India. They are: 1. King Bhoja (1000-Nearly 1055 A.D.) 2. Prithviraja III Alias Rai Pithora (Nearly 1178-1192 A.D.) 3. Vijayasena (1095-1158 A.D) 4. Dharmapala (770-810 A.D.) 5. Devapala (810-850 A.D.) 6. Mahipala I (988-1120 A.D.) 7. Mahipala (912-944 A.D.) 8. Yaso Varman (Nearly 690-740 A.D.) and few more.
Rajput King # 1. King Bhoja (1000-Nearly 1055 A.D.):
Bhoja was the greatest ruler of the Parmaras who raised the power of his dynasty to an imperial rank. He has been regarded great both as a scholar and a successful commander. He fought many battles though he failed to conquer any territory except Konkan. He allied himself with the Kalachuri king Gangeyadeva and the Chola king Rajendra and invaded the kingdom of the Chalukya Jayasinha, attacked Malwa and plundered Dhara, Ujjain and Mandu.
The attempt of Bhoja to conquer Gwalior was frustrated by Kirttiraja. His attempt to assert supremacy over Bundelkhand was foiled by the Chandela king, Vidyadhara. He also could not gain success against the Rashtrakutas of Kanyakubja and the Chauhanas of Nadol. However, the Chauhana ruler of Sakambhari surrendered to him. Bhoja supported the Hindushahi ruler, Anandapala against Mahmud of Ghazni and gave shelter to his son Trilochanpala.
He joined a confederacy of the Rajput-chiefs against the Turks and conquered Jhansi, Thaneswar, Nagarkot etc. Thus, he contributed to the defence of northern India against the incursions of the Turks. Bhoja’s relations with the Chalukyas of Gujarat were also not good.
He did not succeed much against them except plundering Anhihvada once. While Bhoja was engaged in war, both in the east and the west with his neighbours, he died of a disease. Thus, though Bhoja constantly engaged himself in battles, he failed to get much advantage. His permanent acquisition was only Konkan.
Bhoja has become famous more by his scholarly persuits than by his conquests. The authorship of more than twenty-three books on varied subjects is ascribed to him. He was also a patron of arts and literature. He patronised scholars like Dhanapala and Uvata. He established many schools and a college at Dhara where students and scholars flocked for learning.
He extended and beautified the city of Dhara and found a new city, Bhojapur near it where he constructed a large number of temples in honour of Siva. All this has placed him in the rank of great rulers of medieval India. Dr D.C. Ganguly writes: “All these attainments of Bhoja in different spheres of life established his claim to be regarded as one of the greatest kings of medieval India.”
Bhoja was succeeded by Javasinha I. He sought help from the Chalukya king. Somesvara I, against the Kalachuris and the Chalukyas. He was overthrown by his enemies and it was only because of the help of king Someswara I that he could regain his throne. In return, he helped Somesvara I in his campaigns of the Deccan. But Jayasinha I could not pull on well with the next Chalukya king, Somesvara II.
Somesvara II took help from the Chalukya king Bhimadeva I of Gujarat, attacked Jayasinha I and killed him. Udayaditya, the successor of Jayasinha I, sought help from Vigraharaja III, the Chauhanaking of Sakambhari and succeeded in recapturing Malwa. His successors were Lakshmanadeva and Nara Varman respectively. Both of them fought against Chalukya Jayasinha Siddharaja of Gujarat for their existence.
But Jayasingha Sidharaja, ultimately, succeeded in capturing Malwa in 1135 A.D. The Chaluky as ruled over Malwa for twenty years. Afterwards, it was regained by Parmara Vindhya Varman from Mularaja II. Vindhya Varman fought against the Hoysala and Yadava rulers and once more established the prestige of the Parmaras in Malwa. His successors, Subhata Varman and Arjuna Varman, fought against the Chalukyas and the Yadavas Arjuna Varman was succeeded by Devapala.
Sultan Iltutmish of Delhi occupied Bhilasa and plundered Ujijain during the reign of Devapala. Devapala was succeeded by Jaitugideva, Jayasinha II, Arjuna Varman II and Bhoja II respectively.
Malwa was constantly attacked by the Yadavas, Chauhanas, Bagehlas, and by the Turk Sultans of Delhi during the reign of these rulers which broke up the powers of the Parmaras in Malwa. The last ruler of the Parmaras was Mahlak Deo. He was attacked by Ala-ud-din Khalji in 1305 A.D., killed by his General Ain-ul-Mulk and Malwa was finally conquered by the Muslims.
Rajput King # 2. Prithviraja III Alias Rai Pithora (Nearly 1178-1192 A.D.):
When Prithviraja ascended the throne, he found himself confronted with many difficulties and dangers, the worst being the invasion of the Turks under Muhammad of Ghur. Muhammad had overthrown the rule of Khusrav Malik, the ruler of the Yamini dynasty of Ghazni and annexed western Punjab. Now his boundaries were touching the boundary of the kingdom of Prithviraja III. Muhammad was determined to conquer India and Prithviraja III was the most determined enemy to put a check on his ambition.
In the beginning of the reign of Prithviraja, Muhammad proposed a peace treaty with him while proceeding to attack Gujarat. Prithviraja, however, declined his offer and resolved to fight him when he succeeded in the capture of Nadol. But, Prithviraja and the Chalukyas of Gujarat, were not on good terms with each other and therefore, Prithviraja refrained from attacking Muhammad at that time and waited for the result of the battle between Muhammad and the Chalukyas. In 1178 A.D., the Chalukya king, Mularaja II defeated Muhammad at the foot of Abu under the capable leadership of his mother, Nayikadevi.
Prithviraja was delighted at the news of the defeat of Muhammad and then, after suppressing the revolt of his cousin Nagarjuna, he proceeded with his plans of conquest. Near about 1182 A.D., he defeated the Bhadanakas who occupied the territories of Rewari, Bhiwani and a part of the old Alwar state.
The same year, he attacked the Chandela ruler Paramardi, also known as Parmal, king of Jejakabhukti (Bundelkhand). Alha and Udal, the famous generals of Parmardi, gave a fierce resistance to Prithviraja in the battle but were killed. Prithviraja occupied Mahoba and Kalinjar though he failed to keep them under his subjugation for long. In 1283 A.D., the Chandelas recaptured their lost kingdom. In 1186 A.D., Prithviraja attacked Gujarat.
He was opposed by the Paramara Dharavarsha and the Pritihara Jagaddeva who were sent by Bhima II, the reigning king of Gujarat to oppose him. The battle remained indecisive but, ultimately, Bhima II accepted peace with Prithviraja. Thus, Prithviraja pursued a policy of conquest against his neighbours, but the policy did not succeed much. All these wars do not seem to have resulted in any acquisition of territory.
In 1190 A.D., Muhammad of Ghur proceeded towards Delhi via Punjab. He conquered Tabarhindah (Bhatinda), which was within the territory of Prithviraja. Then he went back to complete his preparation for the impending battle against Prithviraja. While Prithviraja was proceeding towards Tabarhindah with a view to recapturing it, Muhammad returned and faced Prithviraja on the battlefield of Tarain, 80 miles from Delhi. This first battle of Tarain between Muhammad and Prithviraja was fought in 1190-91 A.D.
Muhammad was defeated and injured in this battle. A Khalji noble saved the life of the Sultan by taking him away from the battlefield. According to the Hammira-Mahakavya, Prithviraja took Muhammad captive but subsequently released him. But it seems to be an exaggerated account. Prithviraja, however, recaptured Tabarhindah and east Punjab.
Meanwhile, the enmity between Prithviraja and Jayachandra, the ruler of Kannauj, increased. Both of them were planning against each other for the sovereignty of northern India and therefore, were bound to come into conflict with each other. Besides, probably, the elopement of Sanvogita, the daughter of Jayachandra, with Prithviraja also became one of the reasons of the enmity and resulted in an open indecisive battle between the two.
Historians are divided about the romantic story of the marriage of Sanyogita with Prithviraja. Dr D.C. Ganguly does not accept the story as an historical fact, while Dr Dashratha Sharma accepts it as a fact. The story, as has been narrated, is that Jayachandra invited all important Hindu rulers to his capital for the selection of a bridegroom for and by his daughter Sanyogita.
But he did not invite his enemy, Prithviraja. Instead, he placed his statue at the gateway of the assembly-hall with a view to humiliate Prithviraja showing him as a palace guard. Sanyogita decided to accept Prithviraja as her husband and garlanded his statue of her own choice. Prithviraja, who was present there in disguise, fled with her to his kingdom.
While the soldiers and the generals of Prithviraja faced and checked the army of Kannauj at different places, Prithviraja reached Ajmer safely with Sanyogita and married her. If the story is accepted as an historical fact, then there is no doubt that it must have inflamed the enmity between these two powerful rulers of northern India, much against the interest of India when it was seriously threatened by the invasion of Muhammad of Ghur.
Muhammad could not forget his defeat against Prithviraja. He organised a force of one hundred and twenty thousand men at Ghazni and returned to India in 1192 A.D. to avenge his defeat. Prithviraja faced him again at the battlefield of Tarain. He was supported by nearly 150 feudatory chiefs but no independent Rajput ruler of prominence came to his help at the time of that national calamity.
Muhammad had asked Prithviraja to accept Islam and his suzerainty which was contemptuously refused. However, Prithviraja offered peace if Muhammad could remain content with the occupation of Tabarhindah and east Punjab. Muhammad duped Prithviraja by engaging him in peace-talks and one day early in the morning attacked the Rajputs and took them by surprise.
The Rajputs were defeated at what is known as the second Battle of Tarain. Prithviraja fled from there but was taken prisoner in the neighbourhood of Sursuti (Sarasvati). Afterwards he was sentenced to death on a charge of conspiracy against the life of Sultan Muhammad.
The second battle of Tarain marked the end of the empire of the Chauhanas. Of course, the minor son of Prithviraja was left as a ruler of Ajmer in name for sometime, but his government was simply a puppet one. Hariraja, brother of Prithviraja, deposed the son of Prithviraja after sometime and secured the sovereignty of Ajmer till 1194 A.D.
Afterwards, Hariraja was defeated by Qutb- ub-din Aibak. Hariraja burnt himself to death and Ajmer was occupied by the Turks. Delhi, being already in the hands of the Turks, the fall of Ajmer witnessed the final destruction of the Chauhanas. Their descendants of course, continued to rule at Ranthambhore but the Imperial dynasty of the Chauhanas came to an end. Ranthambhore was finally captured by Ala-ud-din Khalji.
Prithviraja III alias Rai Pithora was, thus, the last illustrious king of the Chauhanas. But Prithviraja is famous not because of his success in arms or diplomacy but because of his personal character which was representative of his age and possessed the vices and the virtues of the Rajputs of that time. Prithviraja was a capable fighter and a fearless ruler.
He was courageous, chivalrous, daring and romantic and, thus, gained name and fame among his contemporaries. But he was neither diplomatic nor farsighted. His virtues were those of a hero of many battles rather than of a successful ruler. Unaware of the dangerous consequences of the invasion of the Turks, he engaged himself in wars of chivalry and romance against his neighbours.
Therefore, none of them came to his support against Muhammad of Ghur. Of course, one hundred fifty feudatory chiefs rallied to his support in the second battle of Tarain but none of them was an independent ruler of any importance. At that time, Bhima Deva II of Gujarat and Jayachandra of Kannauj were other powerful rulers of north India. The army of Gujarat had defeated Muhammad once and Prithviraja had defeated him single-handed in the first battle of Tarain.
If Bhimadeva II and Jayachandra, or even one of them, had decided to support Prithviraja at the time of the second battle of Tarain, there was every possibility of the success of the Rajputs against the Turks. In that case, the course of Indian history would have been different. Probably, Bhimadeva II and Jayachandra also lacked farsightedness and therefore, decided to leave Prithviraja alone against Muhammad.
But Prithviraja should be held more responsible for the misfortune of his empire and that of the Indian people. Being the ruler of Delhi, he was at the gateway of India and, primarily, it was his responsibility to check further advance of the Turks into India. Had he been farsighted and diplomatic, he could have succeeded in securing the support of Bhimadeva or Jayachandra or both.
Besides, he did not adopt an aggressive policy against Muhammad. He neither took advantage of the defeat of Muhammad against Mularaja of Gujarat nor of his own success at the first battle of Tarain. He could easily exploit the misfortune of Muhammad to his advantage by occupying Punjab and bar his entry from the north-west.
Instead, he chose to be on the defensive, neglected the fortifications and defences of his frontier fort of Tabarhindah which was easily captured by Muhammad twice, did not make adequate preparation for a final battle against Muhammad and even allowed Muhammad to defeat him by a stratagem and surprise attack.
Thus, Prithviraja was neither a diplomat nor a shrewd military commander. Prithviraja is remembered as a chivalrous king and, more than that, because the Turks succeeded in establishing an empire in India after his defeat and, thus, began a new chapter in Indian history. Like other contemporary rulers of his age, Prithviraja, too, had lost the right to rule over his subjects because he, too, like others, had failed to defend India, its culture and the life and honour of its people.
Prithviraja, like all other rulers of India was not trying to defend this country and its people against foreign invaders but only his own kingdom. All Hindu rulers of that time had a limited vision and that was one of the primary causes of their failure against the Turks.
Rajput King # 3. Vijayasena (1095-1158 A.D.):
Vijayasena was an ambitious, courageous and diplomatic king. He converted the small principality of Radha into the strong empire of Bengal. He married Vilasadevi, a princess of the Sura family and entered into an alliance with Ananta Varman, king of Kalinga. He tried to take advantage of the disintegration of the Pala kingdom after the death of its ruler Rampala and desired to conquer the whole of Bengal.
His ambition brought him in conflict with his neighbouring rulers but mostly he succeeded. He defeated the rulers of Kotatavi and Kausambi, led a naval expedition in the west along the course of the Ganga, probably against Govindachandra, the ruler of Kannauj and on this very occasion defeated Nanyadeva, the ruler of Mithila. He occupied Gaunda and forced the last Pala ruler Madanapala to seek safety in Magadha.
About the middle of the twelfth century he defeated Bhoja Varman and conquered East Bengal. Thus, the entire Bengal was united under his rule. He also defeated Raghava who, after the death of his father Ananta Varman, had become the king of Kalinga. The ruler of Kamarupa was also defeated by him. Probably, he snatched away south Bihar as well from the Pala ruler Madanapala.
Thus, Vijayasena was the real founder of the Sena dynasty of Bengal. He ruled for nearly 60 years and brought about peace and prosperity in Bengal which was ruined because of the disintegration of the Pala dynasty. He was a devotee of Siva and built a temple in the Rajshahi district. The poet Umapatidhara lived at his court and composed the famous Deopara-Prasasti from which the details of his reign are known to us.
Rajput King # 4. Dharmapala (770-810 A.D.):
Dharmapala, the son and successor of Gopala proved a great ruler. He understood the feeling of sacrifice and devotion of the people of Bengal and utilised it properly by successfully converting the kingdom of Bengal into one of the foremost empires of northern India.
When he ascended the throne, the Pratiharas, who had established, their power in Malwa and Rajputana were gradually extending their power towards the east and so also the newly established power of the Rashtrakutas in the Deccan desired to possess the plains of north India. Each of them tried to capture Kannauj which was regarded as the key-centre and prestigious state of north India at that time.
Dharmapala desired the same and therefore, came in conflict with both the Pratiharas and the Rashtrakutas. Dharmapala first fought a battle against the Pratihara ruler Vatsaraja in the Ganga-Yamuna Doab and was defeated. But before Vatsaraja could exploit the situation in his favour, the Rashtrakuta ruler Dhruva attacked north India and forced Vatsaraja to seek safety in Raiputana. Dhruva proceeded further and defeated Dharmapala as well. But he retreated to the South soon.
The attack of Dhruva in the north and even his own defeat did not harm Dharmapala. On the contrary, it helped him indirectly. Dhruva had given a powerful shock to the growing power of the Partiharas which helped Dharmapala in consolidating his power in northern India. Dharmapala attacked Kannauj, deposed Indrayudha and placed Chakrayudh on the throne under his sovereignty.
Though details are not available about the wars of conquest of Dharmapala, yet it is certain that Bengal and Bihar were under his direct rule, the ruler of Kannauj was under his suzerainty and many other rulers of Punjab, Rajputana, Malwa and Berar also acknowledged his overlordship.
Dharmapala’s position was again challenged by the Pratihara ruler Nagabhatta II, the son and successor of Vatsaraja. Nagabhatta attacked Kannauj and turned out Chakrayudha who was under the suzerainty of Dharmapala. Therefore, Dharmapala had to fight against Nagabhatta. The battle between the two was fought near Monghyr (Bihar) in which Dharampala was defeated.
But, once again the interference of the Rastrakutas in the politics of the North proved effective. The Rashtrakuta king, Govinda III, attacked north India. Chakrayudha and Dharmapala accepted his suzerainty without fighting. Probably, both of them had invited the Rashtrakuta king to avenge their defeat at the hands of Nagabhatta who fought against Govinda III but was defeated.
Again, the defeat of the Pratiharas by the Rashtrakutas gave Dharmapala an opportunity to consolidate his power in the North. The power of Pratiharas being shattered, he again asserted himself after the retirement of Govinda to the south and gained large territories to his empire. He left a large empire to his son and successor Devapala.
Dharmapala was a capable king. Of course, the transformation of Bengal from a kingdom to an empire was the creation of the spirit of self-sacrifice and political wisdom displayed by the people of Bengal at that time, but, the credit of this achievement goes to king Dharmapala as well. He was a courageous commander and a good diplomat.
He fought many battles, was defeated by the Pratiharas twice, yet he kept up his courage and determination to create an empire. He took great advantage of the conflict of the Pratiharas and the Rashtrakutas in the politics of north India and succeeded in establishing an empire and also governing it well. He assumed the high sounding titles of Parmeswara, Paramabhattarak and Maharajadhiraj.
For the first time, he, certainly, assigned the empire of Bengal a significant position in the politics of north India. Dr R.C. Majumdar writes of him, “The country which was hopelessly divided by internal dissensions and trampled upon by a succession of foreign invaders for more than a century, was raised by him to the position of a strong integrated state exercising imperial sway over a considerable part of northern India. Sasanka’s dream of founding a great Gauda empire was at last fulfilled.”
Dharmapala distinguished himself in the peaceful pursuits of life as well. He found the famous Vikramsila monastery which afterwards developed into a great centre of Buddhist learning. He also found a great Buddhist Vihara in the Rajshahi district. In his old age Dharampala married Rannadevi, one of the Rashtrakuta princess who gave birth to his son and successor Devapala.
Rajput King # 5. Devapala (810-850 A.D.):
Devapala was a worthy son of a worthy father. He not only kept intact the empire which he inherited from his father but also extended it further. Devapala followed an aggressive imperialist policy and spent a great part of his life in military campaigns. Again, the Pratiharas proved to be the main rival to the Palas. The Pratihara ruler Nagabhatta II had occupied Kannauj.
Devapala forced him to retreat and then proceeded to conquer north India. It has been suggested that he made attacks from the Himalayas in the North to the Vindhyas in the South. In the north-west he attacked up to the territories of Kamboja and Punjab. He forced the rulers of Assam and Utkal to accept his suzerainty, attacked the boundaries of the empire of the Pratihara ruler Nagabhatta and, probably, fought wars against the Rashtrakutas or the Pandyas of the South.
He also defeated the Pratihara ruler Mihirbhoj. Thus, his military campaigns were successful. Certainly his direct rule was limited to the territories of Bengal and Bihar but most of the rulers of northern India acknowledged suzerainty while the Pratiharas, his powerful rival in the North failed to check his progress. The Pratihara ruler Mihirbhoj could get success and restore the glory of the Pratihara empire only after the death of Devapala.
Devapala ruled for nearly forty years. Leaving apart the success of military campaigns, he has been accepted as a patron of Buddhist religion, literature and fine arts. The Arab traveller Sulaiman described him as a more powerful ruler than his contemporary Pratihara and Rashtrakuta rulers.
Devapala succeeded more than his father. Dr R.C. Majumdar writes of them, “The reigns of Dharmapala and Devapala constitute the most brilliant chapter in the history of Bengal. Never before, or since, till the advent of the British, did Bengal play such an important role in Indian politics.”
The Period of Downfall (850-988 A.D.):
The successors of Devapala proved weak and pursued a peaceful policy which led to the weakening of the Pala empire. Vigrahapala I, the successor of Devapala ruled for a very short period. Vigrahapala I was succeeded by his son, Narayanapala, who ruled between the period 854-908 A.D. He was a man of religious disposition and pursued a pacific policy. This encouraged the enemies of the Palas and both the Rashtrakutas and the Pratiharas took advantage of it.
The policy was followed by feudatory chiefs of the Palas as well. Some time after 860 A.D., the Rashtrakutas defeated the Pala ruler. The Pratiharas also took advantage of the weakness of the Palas and their rulers Mihirbhoj and Mahendrapala gradually extended their power to the east. Narayanapala not only lost Magadhabut also north Bengal for some time.
The feudatory chiefs of Assam and Orissa also got the opportunity to throw off the yoke of the Palas and asserted independence. Thus, the Palas lost their glory and territories and, for a time, the rule of Narayanapala was confined to a part of Bengal only. However, he succeeded in recovering Magadlia and north Bengal from the Pratiharas during the later part of his life.
This was, probably, due to the Rashtrakuta invasion on the Pratihara dominions. Narayanapala was defeated by the Rashtrakuta king Krishna II as well, but peace was established and, probably, strengthened by a marriage alliance. Narayanapala was succeeded by Rajyapala, Gopala II and Vigrahapala respectively. Put together, they ruled for nearly eighty years.
But each of them proved to be an incapable ruler and whatever was left by Narayanapala was lost by them. The Chandelas, the Kalachuris and the Kambojas attacked and conquered different territories of the Palas, while the south and east Bengal was occupied by the Chandra dynasty. The disintegration of the Pala empire was, thus, complete.
Rajput King # 6. Mahipala I (988-1120 A.D.):
Mahipala I succeeded to the throne of his father Vigrahapala II about 988 A.D. By that time the territories of the Palas had remained limited to Magadha or south Bihar. The Palas had lost even their ancestral kingdom in Bengal. Mahipala once more revived the power and prestige of the Palas. He ruled during 988-1038 A.D. and constantly engaged himself in wars.
He succeeded in capturing north, west and east Bengal and, towards the west, extended his territories up to Banaras. But his power was seriously shattered by an attack on Bengal by one of the commanders of the Chola king, Rajendra some time during 1021-1023 A.D. Bengal was invaded by Kalachuri ruler Gangeyadeva also towards the close of the reign of Mahipala.
This reduced the extent of the territories of Mahipala, yet he was able to keep control over the larger part of Bengal and Bihar. Mahipala not only saved the Pala kingdom from impending ruin but also restored, to a large extent, the lost glory and power of the Palas. That is why he has been justly regarded as the founder of the second Pala empire. Mahipala constructed and repaired a large number of religious places, towns and tanks at different places.
Mahipala was succeeded by his son Nayapala who ruled during 1038-1055 A.D. The most important event of the reign of Nayapala was the protracted war between Nayapala and Kalachuri ruler Kama. Kama desired to push up the boundary of his empire further to the east at the cost of the Palas. This led to long time enmity between the Palas and the Kalachuris.
However, during the period of Nayapala, after severe conflicts, peace was restored between the two powers primarily because of the efforts of reconciliation by the famous Buddhist monk Dipankara Srijnana. Nayapala was succeeded by Vigrahapala III who ruled during 1055-1070 A.D. During his period Bengal was attacked by different powers. First, the Kalachuri king Kama revived the hostilities and attacked the boundary of western Bengal.
However, peace was restored and Kama even got his daughter married to Vigrahapala. Afterwards, the Chalukya ruler Vikramaditya VI, attacked Bengal and defeated Vigrahapala. Mahasiva Gupta Yayati, ruler of Kosala also raided the territories of Bengal. These foreign attacks weakened the power of Vigrahapala and independent kingdoms were established at different places out of the territories of the Palas. With much difficulty, Vigrahapala was able to keep Gauda and Magadha under his rule.
In 1070 A.D. Mahipala II, son of Vigrahapala III, ascended the throne. He proved quite incapable. His nobles revolted against him and killed him. One of them named Divya or Divoka occupied Varendri (North Bengal).
Mahipala II had imprisoned his brothers — Surapala and Ramapala. During the period of revolt against Mahipala they fled from the prison and established themselves in Magadha. Surapala ruled there for a couple of years and was then succeeded by his younger brother Ramapala in 1077 A.D. Ramapala restored the lost prestige of the Palas and proved to be the last capable ruler of the dynasty.
He defeated Bhima, the successor of Divya and ruler of Varendri (North Bengal) and occupied his kingdom. He defeated and forced the ruler of Assam to accept his suzerainty. He interfered in the politics of Orissa and tried to check the growing influence of the ruler of Kalinga there. He entered into a matrimonial alliance with Govindachandra, king of Kannauj and successfully resisted his ambitions towards the east.
He could also check the power of the Senas of west Bengal and that of Nanyadeva, ruler of north Bihar so that none of them could interfere in his kingdom. Thus, both by diplomacy and war, Ramapala succeeded in restoring and maintaining the power of the Palas at least in a large part of Bengal and Bihar. He died in 1120 A.D. and that resulted in the fall of the Palas.
Rajput King # 7. Mahipala (912-944 A.D.):
Mahendrapala was succeeded by his son Bhoja II but his cousin, Mahipala, shortly dethroned him and became the ruler of Kannauj. During his period, the Rashtrakutas again interfered in the politics of north India. The Rashtrakuta king, Indra III, attacked sometime between 915-918 A.D., defeated Mahipala of Kannauj, occupied Kannauj and pursued Mahipala as far as Allahabad.
But, as on previous occasions, the Rashtrakutas did not stay long enough to consolidate their conquests in the north. So, after the retirement of Indra III to the south, Mahipala again consolidated his position and recovered a large part of his lost empire. But, in the meantime, the Pala rulers took advantage of his weakness and captured some eastern parts of his empire.
Once more, about 940 A.D., the Rashtrakutas attacked the north (during the reign of Krishna III) and occupied the forts of Kalinjar and Chitrakuta. Thus, though Mahipala succeeded in recovering a large part of his empire, the attacks of the Rashtrakutas lowered the power and prestige of the Pratiharas. The advantage was drawn not only by the Palas but also by feudatory rulers. The Chandelas, the Chedis, the Parmaras etc. succeeded in asserting their independence. Thus, though Mahipala could safeguard a large part of his empire yet his period marked the beginning of the decline of the power of Partiharas.
The Successors of Mahipala and the Fall of the Pratihara Empire — (944—Nearly 1036 A.D.):
Mahipala was succeeded by his son Mahendrapala II. He ruled only for a year. Afterwards, we find no less than four successors during a period of fifteen years. Devapala, Vinayakapala II, Mahipala II and Vijayapala ruled in succession over the throne of Kannauj but none of them proved to be a capable ruler. Rather, the quick succession of these rulers proves that family feuds had started among the Pratiharas.
This resulted in the disintegration of the Pratihara empire from the period of Devapala (948 A.D.). Near about 963 A.D., the Rashtrakuta king Indra III again attacked northern India and gave the final blow to the Pratihara domination in Central India. The central authority of the Pratihara empire was broken and out of its ruins arose the independent kingdoms of the Chalukyas in Gujarat, the Chandelas in Jejakabhukti, the Kachchhaghata in Gwalior, the Kalachuris in Central India, the Paramaras in Malwa, the Guhilas in south Rajputana, the Chhahamanas (Chauhanas) in Sakambhari, etc.
Thus, by the time Rajyapala ascended the throne of Kannauj late in the tenth century, he was no more a ruler of an empire but that of a small kingdom. The Pratihara empire had vanished by the time. The Turks invaded India during the reign of Rajyapala. The challenge from the northwest was met by the Brahmanashahi kingdom on the borders of Afghanistan. Rajyapala supported the Brahamanshahi ruler Jaipala against Sabuktagin in 991 A.D. and then his son Anandapala also against Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni in 1008 A.D.
Ultimately, Mahmud succeeded in destroying the Brahmanashahi kingdom and attacked Kannauj in 1018 A.D. Rajyapala did not fight against him but fled. Feeling dissatisfied with the shameful behaviour of Rajyapala against a foreign attacker, the Chandela ruler Ganda sent his son Vidyadhar to attack Kannauj. Vidyadhar defeated and killed Rajyapala and placed his son Trilochanapala on the throne of Kannauj.
Trilochanapala was defeated by Sultan Mahmud in 1019 A.D. though he remained alive till 1027 A.D. His successor and the last ruler of Pratihara dynasty was Yasapala who remained as a petty ruler up to 1036 A.D. Thus ended the mighty Pratihara empire. In fact, the power of the Pratiharas had declined during the reign of Mahipala late in the tenth century though, in name, it survived a little longer.
Noted historian Dr R.C. Majunidar has given a respectable position to the Pratiharas in the history of India. He describes that the credit of establishing the last great empire in Hindu India does not go to emperor Harsha but to the Pratiharas. One after the other, Vatsaraja. Nagabhatta II, Mihirbhoj and Mahendrapala I brought glory to the Pratiharas, succeeded in creating an extensive empire in northern India even after fighting against the powerful Palas and Rashtrakutas and maintained that empire for about a century.
Another achievement of the Pratiharas was to check the penetration of the Arabs into the interior of India. Elphinstone and all other historians after him expressed surprise at the fact that the Arabs failed to penetrate deeper into India even at the zenith of their power. The reason was that they were checked by the power of the Pratiharas. The Arabs themselves have given a glorious account of the might and prosperity of the Pratiharas.
The Arab traveller Sulaiman described Mihirbhoj as the greatest enemy of the Islam. Thus, there is no doubt that the Pratiharas effectively checked the progress of the Arabs beyond the confines of Sindh, which must be regarded as a significant contribution of the Pratiharas to the history of India. Besides, even when the power of the Pratiharas was in a broken state, the Pratihara king Rajyapala supported the Brahmanashahi rulers Jaipala and Anandapala against Sabuktagin and Mahmud of Ghazni.
This proves that Rajyapala was also anxious to pursue the traditional policy of the Pratiharas to check the penetration of Muslim invaders into India though, of course, he himself fled against the mighty power of Sultan Mahmud. Thus, the Pratiharas maintained the dignity of a great empire in north India for about a century and fulfilled their duty to fight against foreign invaders.
Besides, the empire of the Pratiharas proved more durable as compared to their contemporary empire- builders — the Palas and the Rashtrakutas. Thus, the Pratiharas played a significant role in the history of India after the fall of the empire of Harsha and were the last empire-builders of Hindu India.
Rajput King # 8. Yaso Varman (Nearly 690-740 A.D.):
In the beginning of the eighth century, we find a powerful monarch Yaso Varman occupying the throne of Kannauj. Nothing is known of the early history and antecedents of this king. Jain-texts have described him as related to the Maurvas while certain scholars regard him related to the Maukhari family as the word varman is attached to his name. But none of the above views has been justified by evidences.
However, Yaso Varman was a powerful monarch who engaged himself in many military adventures. He was a contemporary of Lalitaditya Muktapida, the ruler of Kashmir. He sent Pu-ta-sin (Buddhasena) as his ambassador to China, with which he had diplomatic relations, in 731 A.D. The chief source of our knowledge of his life and reign is the poetical work in Prakrat by his celebrated court-poet Vakapati.
Vakapati has described his conquests in highly glorified terms, yet it is believed that Yaso Varman had certainly succeeded in conquering Magadha and Bengal. His empire extended towards the north-west as well and he defeated the Arabs also. One inscription of the Chalukya king Vijayaditya suggests that Yaso Varman fought against Vinyaditya, father of Vijyaditya.
Both parties had claimed victory in the battle. Therefore, the success of Yaso Varman towards the south is doubtful. However, the inscription refers to him as ‘the great king of North India’ which justifies that Yaso Varman had conquered the greater part of northern India. Yaso Varman was, however, defeated by Lalitaditya, the ruler of Kashmir in 733 A.D. Kalhana, who described the history of Kashmir in his famous work the Rajatarangini has given a detailed description of the long struggle between these two kings.
He explicitly wrote that Yaso Varman was defeated. Probably, both the kings were engaged in a bitter conflict with each other for the sovereignty of north India in which Lalitaditya finally emerged victorious. Yaso Varman, probably, lived even after this defeat but his power and fame were lost. His successors failed to revive the glory of Kannauj and were therefore, lost to obscurity.
Yaso Varman’s rise to power was sudden and so was his fall. He rose to power as a military adventurer like Sasanka of Gauda and Yasodharman of Malwa and the same way he lost his power. However, he was not only a great conqueror but also a patron of learning. Besides Vakapati and many others, the famous poet of Sanskrit language Bhavabhuti, who wrote his renowned works the Malti- madhava, the Mahavira-charita and the Uttar-Ramcharita, was also at his court.
Rajput King # 9. Mihirbhoj (Nearly 836-885 A.D.):
Mihirbhoj made Kannauj his capital and succeeded in consolidating his power and influence in Malwa, Rajputana and Madhya-Desh. But he had to face many challenges and initially failed. He had to fight against Devapal and was defeated, a fact which checked the extension of his power towards further east.
Again, when he tried to take advantage of internal conflicts of the Rastrakutas and attacked south India sometime between 845-860 A.D., he was defeated by Dhruva, the ruling king of the Gujarat-branch of the Rashtrakutas. He was also defeated by the Kalachuri King Kokkalla. These successive defeats resulted in weakening his hold over Rajputana and even the feudatory Pratihara ruler of Jodhpur became independent.
Yet, these reverses failed to subdue the ambition and spirit of Mihirbhoj. He bade his time and waited for the right opportunity. The death of Devapal, ruler of Bengal and, thereafter, weakness of his successors gave him an opportunity to revive his strength towards the east and the peaceful policy pursued by Rashtrakuta ruler Amoghavarsha encouraged him to take his chances towards the south.
First, he defeated the Pala king Narayanapala and snatched away from him a considerable part of his western dominions. Next, he took offensive against the Rashtrakuta ruler Krishna II and defeated him on the banks of the Narmada. Thereafter he occupied Malwa and Kathiawar. He fought once again against the Rashtrakuta ruler Krishna II at Ujjayini. This time he was defeated. But, whether he lost Malwa or not is not clear.
Yet, Mihirbhoj succeeded in reviving the glory of the Pratiharas and the rulers of Kannauj. He had an extensive empire which included Kathiawar, territories up to the Punjab in the north-west, Malwa and Madhya-Desh. He had consolidated his power in Rajputana and the Kalachuris of Bihar and Chandelas of Bundelkhand had accepted his sovereignty. Dr. R.C. Majumdar writes, “Bhoja thus consolidated a mighty empire in northern India for which Vatsaraja and Nagabhatta had fought in vain, and raised Kannauj, once more, to the posiuon of an imperial city.”
Rajput King # 10. Lakshmanasena (1178-nearly 1205 A.D.):
Lakshmanasena sat on the throne at the ripe age of sixty years. He was a great military leader and fought many victorious battles during the reign of his father and grandfather. When he became king he fought against Jayachandra, the ruler of Kannauj. He succeeded in defeating him and made an attack up to Banaras and Allahabad. He included the larger part of Bihar in his kingdom. He also successfully defended his kingdom against the attacks of the Kalachuris.
But the kingdom of Lakshmanasena began to disintegrate in the closing years of the twelfth century. Some nobles of Lakshmanasena were successful in asserting their independence. And, while the kingdom was thus weakened by internal disruptions. Muhammad Bakhtyar Khalji attacked its capital Nadia and occupied it in a surprise move. Lakshmanasena fled to east Bengal for safety. He continued to rule over east and south Bengal even afterwards but failed to recover his power and prestige. He died shortly after 1205 A.D.
The Successors of Lakshmanasena and the Fall of the Sena Dynasty:
Lakshmanasena was succeeded by his son, Visvarupasena, who ruled for about 14 years. He was succeeded by his brother, Kesavasena who probably ruled over east Bengal up to 1245 A.D. After him, east Bengal was occupied by the Deva- dynasty ruler Dasarathadeva. The rest of Bengal remained in the hands of the Turks.
Importance of the Senas:
The credit of safeguarding Bengal from anarchy after the fall of the Pala dynasty went to the Senas. The Senas believed in Hinduism. They contributed to the revival of Hinduism and Sanskrit literature in Bengal. Vallalasena and Lakshmanasena were scholarly kings and both patronised scholars and education. Jayadeva, the writer of the Halayudha and the Gitagovinda was patronised by them.