Read this Article to Learn about the Rise and Fall of Vijayanagar Empire!
Significance of the Vijayanagar Empire:
The signiticance ot the Vijayanagara empire may be stated in the words of Dr. A.L. Srivastva,
“The Vijayanagara empire served a high historical purpose by acting as a champion of Hindu religion and culture against the aggressions of the Muslims in Southern India.”
Apart from above, on account of its efficient administration, prosperous economy, diplomatic polity, liberal religious policy, the Vijayanagara empire occupied a remarkable and glorious place in Indian history for more than two hundred years from 1336 A.D. to 1565 A.D.
Rise and fall of the dynasty:
From 1565 onwards, the empire just remained in existence only and without any worth while achievement till 1614. Its defeat at the hands of the erstwhile Bahamni rulers in 1565 gave it a crushing blow. The 16 rulers of the empire were from 4 dynasties; the Sangma Dynasty (1336 to 1486), the Saluva Dynasty (1486 to 1509), the Taluva Dynasty (1510 to 1570) and the Arvinda Dynasty.
The Kingdom of Vijayanagara came into being as a result of the confusion that prevailed at the time of Muhammad Tughlaq. According to Dr. V.S. Smith, “There is however no doubt that the new power was the outcome of the efforts made by two brothers, sons of Sangama to stay the tide of Muslim invasion and preserve the Hindu Dharma in the peninsula”.
Likewise Dr. Ishwari Prasad says, “The most probable account is that which ascribes the origin of the Kingdom to the two brothers, Hari Hara and Bukka who were employed in the treasury of Pratap Rudra Deva, Kakatya of Warrangal and who fled the country when it was overrun by the Muslims in 1303.”
The Kingdom comprised a substantial part of peninsular India south of the Krishna river up to Rameshwaram, including the Tamil region and that of the Cheras (Kerala). To the north was the powerful Bahamni Kingdom with whom it had constant conflicts and which ultimately led to its downfall.
Krishnadeva Raya (1509-29):
Krishnadeva has been described by all the travellers who visited his empire as “an emperor of much justice.” Domingos, a Portuguese traveller described Krishnadeva in these words, “He is the most feared and perfect king that could possibly be.” The Mughal emperor Babur described in his ‘Baburnama’, Krishnadeva “as the most powerful ruler of India.”
The Vijayanagara empire reached to its zenith in peace, order, power, prosperity and learning during his reign.
Krishnadeva as a military commander:
He was a brave general and bold warrior. He invaded Mysore and annexed it. He recaptured the Doab lying between the rivers Krishna and Tungbhadra from the Bahamni Sultans. The military exploits of Krishnadeva have been described in the following words, “He is one of the most distinguished and powerful kings of Vijayanagara who fought with the Muslims of the Deccan on equal terms and avenged the wrongs that had been done to his predecessors.”
Though his personal leanings were in favour of Vaishnavism yet he respected all the sects.
Patron of literature:
Literature made a tremendous progress during his reign. He himself was a gifted scholar of Telugu and Sanskrit. He wrote a poem ‘Amuktamalyada” in Telugu. He extended his patronage to Sanskrit, Telugu, Kannad and Tamil scholars alike. The noted Telugu poet Allasani Peddana flourished in his court.
As a patron of art:
He was a great builder and founded the city of Naglapur. He got several ‘Gopurams’ and ‘Mandapas’ built. He constructed the Krishnaswami temple and the statue of infant Krishna installed in it. He also built several ponds for irrigation.
As an administrator:
He decentralised his empire into different administrative units. A province was placed under a governor who was usually a military commander.
Encouragement to trade and commerce:
The ruler made special arrangements for providing trading facilities at ports.
Summing up the Achievements of Krishnadev:
Describing the achievements of Krishnadeva, Nilakanta Sastri has observed, “He was in no way less famous for his religious zeal and catholicity. He respected all sects of the Hindu religion alike, though his personal leanings were in favour of Vaishnavism… Krishnadeva’s kindness to the fallen enemy, his great military prowess and above all the fabulous wealth that he conferred as endowments on temples and Brahamans, mark him out indeed as the greatest South Indian monarchs, who shed a luster on the pages of history.”
Dr. Ishwari Prasad has described the qualities and achievements of Krishnadeva as, “Krishnadeva Raya was always anxious to promote the welfare of his subjects. His liberal endowments endeared him all the more to his subjects. He was polite and amiable in private society, wise and far- sighted in council, eloquent and cultured when he listened to litteratus, dignified and awe inspiring in his public duties.
Krishnadeva was formidable in war and indeed a jewel among all the princes. Under him Vijayanagara attained the zenith of its greatness and prosperity.” He further went on to say, “There is no ruler among the sovereigns of the Deccan, both Hindu and Muslim, worthy of Krishnadeva Raya.”
Causes of the downfall of the Vijayanagara Empire:
1. A despotic government.
2- Wars of succession.
3. Weak successors of Krishna Deva Raya.
4. Continuous wars with the neighbouring Bahamani Kingdom.
5. Lack of control over the provincial governors.
6. Social evils.
7. Lack of fanaticism among the Hindus as compared with the spirit of “jehad” among the Muslims-war against infidels.
8. Rise and fall as the law of nature.