Read this article to learn about the Rastrakutas and Chalukyas of south Indian kingdoms.
The Rastrakutas called themselves descendants of one named Satyaki. But there is difference of opinion about their origin among the historians.
According to some they were originally of Dravidian peasant extraction. From some of the inscriptions of the Chalukya kings it is known that the Rastrakutas were feudatories of the Chalukyas.
Perhaps their original home was Karnataka and their mother tongue was Kanarese.
The founder of the Rashtrakuta power was Dantivarma or Dantidurga. The Rastrakuta King Dantivarma or Dantidurga was contemporary of Chalukya King Pulakesin II. Dantidurga occupied all territories between the Godavari and the Vima.
The first authentic date of the Rastrakutas that has been known is 753 A.D. Systematic history of the Rastrakutas is known from this date. Dantidurga is said to have conquered Kalinga, Kosala, Kanchi, Srisril, Malava, Lata, etc. He annexed Maharastra to his kingdom by defeating Chalukya King Kirtivarma.
Dantidurga was succeeded by his uncle Krishnaraja (768-772). He conquered the territories that were still under the Chalukyas and thereby completed conquest of the Chalukya territories. He also occupied Konkan and also defeated King Rahappa. It is not known for certain the name of the country over which Rahappa used to rule.
Chalukyaraj Vishnuvardhana IV of Vengi and the Ganga king of Mysore were defeated at the hands of the Rastrakuta King Krishnaraja. Krishnaraja was responsible for the construction of the Kailash temple of Ellora which stands as an excellent specimen of the Rastrakuta art and architecture. Krishnaraja’s eventful career came to an end within a very short time and he was succeeded by his son Govindaraj who ruled for some time as Govinda II.
His worthlessness as a ruler and his lack of interest in administration led to his deposition by his brother Dhruva who ascended the throne himself. Dhruva was by far the best ruler of the Rastrakuta dynasty. He ruled for a short span of time but within this short time he entered into a struggle with the Gurjara-Pratihara King Vatsyaraja and defeated him signally. He also likewise defeated the Pallavas of Kanchi and the Pala King Dharmapala of Bengal.
Dhruva was succeeded by Govinda III his son and with almost equal vigour as of his father. He succeeded in keeping the Gurjara power sufficiently under control. He defeated the great Gujara King Nagabhatta II. It is said that the Pala King Dharmapala and his protege Charayudh sought the help of Govinda III. Govinda III made the Rastrakutas dynasty one of the most powerful dynasties of contemporary India. His kingdom spread upto the Vindhyas and Malava in the north and the river Tungabhadra to the south.
The greatest king of the Rastrakuta dynasty was Amoghavarsha. As a warrior he was, however, no match with his father Govinda III, but he succeeded in defeating the East-Chalukya kings. It was Amoghavarsha who had successfully arrested the progress of the Gurjara King Bhoja I towards South India. He set up a new capital at Malkhed and during his reign Broach became the best port of his kingdom.
Amoghavarsha was a great patron of education and literature. Under his patronage Jinasen wrote an important book called Parsva Abhyudaya-Jaydhavala, Ratnamalika—two celebrated works in philosophy, Sara-Sangraha—a work in Mathematics were produced during his reign. From the evidence of the Jaina works it is known that Amoghavarsha was converted into Jainism by Jinasena, a Jaina monk. Amoghavarsha spent the accumulated wealth of his predecessors to beautify his kingdom.
Suleiman, an Arab merchant, in his account called Amoghavarsha as one of the four greatest kings of the world, the other three being the Caliph of Bagdad, the king of Constantinople and the emperor of China.
Amoghavarsha ruled for 63 years and he was succeeded by his son Krishna II who in his turn was succeeded by Indra III. Indra III was a powerful king. He defeated and deposed Mahipala. The Rastrakuta Kings Amoghavarsha II, Govinda IV and Amoghavarsha III were weak and worthless kings. The last powerful and efficient king of the Rastrakutas was Krishna III.
He had a prolonged struggle with Mahipala the Gurjara king. He also succeeded in conquering Tanjore and Kanchi. In the middle of the tenth century for a time he succeeded in defeating the Tamil kings of Chola kingdom. But towards the end of the same century the Rastrakuta King Kaka was defeated and deposed by Taila or Tailapa, the Chalukya king of Kalyani. With Kaka’s defeat the Rastrakuta power came to an end.
The Rastrakuta kings maintained a friendly relation with the Arabs of Sind. When the Gurjara-Pratihara was engaged in fierce struggle against the Arabs, the Rastrakutas were profiting by carrying on trade with the Arabs. By way of this business relation a large number of Arab merchants came to the Rastrakuta kingdom.
Suleiman was the Arab merchant and was the most celebrated of them. Suleiman called the Rastrakuta kings as ‘Balhara’. The Rastrakuta kings called themselves ‘Ballava’. ‘Balhara’ of Suleiman was obviously a corruption of the expression ‘Ballava’.
Chalukyas of Batapi:
The political history of the Deccan may be said to have begun from the sixth century A.D. with the rise of the Chalukyas. The Chalukyas called themselves as Rajputs who had migrated from the northern India. In later Chalukya inscriptions they claimed to have come from Ayodhya. According to Dr. Smith the Chalukyas were a branch of the Gurjaras and had probably come from Rajputana to the Deccan. Some historians are of opinion that the Chalukyas were a Kanarese people.
Pulakesin I was the founder of the Chalukya house of Vatapi Vatapi was a part of the present Bijapur district of South India. The Chalukyas were an orthodox Hindu dynasty like the Gurjara of northern India. Pulakesin I celebrated the foundation of his kingdom and dynasty by holding Aswamedha Jajna.
Pulakesin I was succeeded by his son Kirtivarma. He was the real founder of the Chalukya greatness. He conquered all the places on the northern coast of India and towards the north proceeded upto the Bay of Bengal. Towards the south he conquered the Tamil kingdoms of Chola, Pandya, etc., and Magadha, Anga, Vanga, Kalinga, Dravida, etc. were included in his kingdom. On the western coast he occupied Mysore and parts of Travancore. He dispossessed the Nalas, Kadambas and the Mauryas of Konkan.
Kirtivarma was succeeded by his brother Mangalesh. He conquered a part of the Deccan plateau. During his reign a large rock- cut temple with a vast audience hall was constructed near Batapi or Badami. In his old age he was deposed and killed by Pulakesin II, son of Kirtivarma.
Pulakesin II was the greatest king of the Chalukyas of Vatapi. He defeated Harshavardhana and prevented his progress towards South India. Pulakesin II defeated South Kosala, Kalinga, the Gurjaras of Broach, Gangas and Latas. Under him the whole of the Deccan plateau came under the sway of the Chalukyas of Vatapi. Hiuen T-Sang described Pulakesin II as the greatest king of South India. Pulakesin II had sent an embassy to the Persian Emperor Khusru II and the latter reciprocated by sending an envoy to Pulakesin’s court.
Pulakesin II brought the Tamil kingdoms of Chera, Chola and Pandya under his complete control and occupied Vengi by defeating the Pallavas of Kanchi. But towards the last part of his reign the Pallavas took revenge of their former defeat by signally defeating Pulakesin II.
After the death of Pulakesin II the Chalukya power became weak. At that time a branch of the Chalukya dynasty set up a captial first at Pistapuran and then at Vengi and began to rule independently there. They came to be known as the East Chalukyas.
Among the successors of Pulakesin II the names of Vikramaditya I and Vikramaditya II are worth mentioning. Vikramaditya I defeated the Pallavas and thereby avenged the defeat of Pulakesin II in their hands. Vikramaditya I gave the Chalukya kingdom the status of an empire. The greatest achievement of Vikramaditya I was the warding off the Arab invasion of the south. The Chalukya power at Vatapi came to an end in the middle of the eighth century with their defeat at the hands of the Rastrakutas.
The Chalukyas of Vatapi or Vadami were orthodox Hindus. They followed the Vedic rites and practices of religion. Under them art, architecture and sculpture reached a high level of excellence. The Elephant Cave, the Ajanta Caves bear testimony to the Chalukya art and architecture even today.
The paintings on the inner wall of the Ajanta Caves force the admiration of the visitors from different parts of the world. In trade and commerce the Chalukyas were particularly well up. They carried on a brisk trade with the ports on the Arabian Sea and held a monopoly business.
Chalukyas of Kalyani:
The Chalukya kingdom of Kalyani was formed with the south-western parts of the Deccan. Taila or Tailapa II established this dynasty after defeating Kaka the last of the Rastrakuta king. Taila was the descendant of Vikramaditya II, the Chalukya king of Vatapi. Taila II waged war against Malava. After Taila II Satyasraya, Vikramaditya II, Jaysingha occupied the throne of Kalyani one after another.
It was during the reign of Jaysingha that a Saiva preacher preached a new religion called Lingayet sect Jaysingha was a contemporary of King Bhoja and Rajendracholadeva. He was naturally always fearful of these two powerful kings. In fact, Rajendracholadeva defeated him in an engagement.
The next king Someswar established the city of Kalyani. He was defeated by the Chola kings more than once. After Someswar, Someswar II and Vikramaditya VI became kings. Vikramaditya VI instituted an era from 107 called Chalukya Vikramaditya Era. He was the greatest king of the Chalukyas of Kalyani and he succeeded in reviving the Chalukya Power of Kalyani and even occupied a part of Mysore taking advantage of the weakness of the Chola kings. Vikramaditya VI was responsible for the authorship of works on Political Science, Astrology, Judicial System, Medicine, Rhetoric, Chemistry, etc.
Vikramaditya VI was succeeded by Taila III, Someswar VI, etc. At that time Vijjala, the Kalachuri king, occupied the throne of the Kalyani but within a short time the Yadava and the Hoysala took possession of Kalyani.