Sunday, March 29, 2015

Vijayanagara Empire - Some Historical Incidents Interpreted from Various Literary Works

The history of the empire of Vijayanagar,  was recovered through the efforts of  Mr. R. Sewell.
He brought out his work ' A Forgotten Empire ' of Vijayanagar early in 1900 based upon his previous knowledge of the antiquities  of the Madras Presidency, and of the information he derived from
two Portuguese chronicles which were unearthed in the archives of Lisbon, and which he translated and appended to his work.

Additional material is provided by authors of   "SOURCES OF VIJAYANAGAR HISTORY, "SELECTED AND EDITED FOR THE UNIVERSITY BY S. KRISHNASWAMI AYYANGAR, M.A., Professor of Indian History and Archaeology and Fellow of the University of Madras. and PUBLISHED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF MADRAS. 1919.
based on various literary works available in Telugu, Sanskrit and other local languages.

The following are some of the events and episodes reported in the above work, summarized by me.


The  extracts from the work * Kamparayacharitam ' or ' Madhura Vijayam '  by Gangadevi, wife of  Kampana, throws the much needed light. Various other works confirm what is said in this  poem. The Telugu Jaimini Bharatam, the Sanskrit works Saluva-abhyudayam and Rama-abhyudayam and the Vaishnava works on  hagiology, the Prapannamrtam and Acharya Suktimuktavali support the contents of the poem. Kumara Kampana, son of Bukka Raya, one of the five brothers who founded Vijayanagar, proceeded  from his viceregal headquarters at Mulbagal into the Tonda-mandalam country, then under the rule of a dynasty of Sambuva Rayans and conquered territory. In this good work he was assisted by the Brahman general Gopana and Saluva Mangu, the most distinguished of a body of distinguished generals. They swept the country clear of  the Mussalman garrisons throughout the localities, killed the  Muhammadan governor at Madura, and restored the temple of  Srirangam to its former condition. The idol of Ranganatha which has had a long journey to various localities for safety was ultimately restored to its own home by them.


A body of learned men with the two famous brothers, Madhavacharya and Sayanacharya at their head, were  at the instance of Bukka himself, set to work upon committing to writing various works and commentaries bearing upon the religion of the Vedas.  The date of death of Madhavacharya i s now ascertained to be A.D. 1387 on epigraphical evidence, and he himself said in his writings that
he lived 85 years. So the period of his life is established as  A.D. 1302 to  1387. He must have been a ripe scholar of great reputation at the beginning of the empire of Vijayanagar.

There is confusion becayse another minister and general of Bukka, is also called Madhava and is sometimes  described as ' the establisher of the path of the Upanishads.' The two Madhavas were of different gOtras and sutras according to the extracts. One seems to have  been a Saiva, and the other an Advaitin. The designation  ' establisher of the path of the Upanishads ', as applied to the
second Madhava, seems deliberately intended to distinguish him from the other, who is described as the * establisher of the path of  the Vedas.' The former designation seems to be the result of an
effort to make rigid Saivism conform to the path of the Upanishads.


The end of the first dynasty of Vijayanagar was almost coeval with the coming of the Portuguese on the West Coast.  Srinatha, author of the Haravilasam  enjoyed the patronage of Deva Raya
II and Sarvagna Singama, has an interesting statement regarding another patron of his, Avachi Tippayya Setti of Nellore (Vikrama  Simhapura). This Setti had his own ships and traded overseas on his own account. He imported horses from Ormuz, elephants from Ceylon, camphor from
the Punjab, fine silks, from China, various other articles from other places. He enjoyed the
monopoly for the supply of the articles in demand at the courts of  Harihara II, PlrOz-shah Bhamani and Kumaragiri Reddi of Kondavldu. The arrangement for provision and protection of private
trade like this, detailed in Marco Polo and in the Motupalli inscription of the Kakatiya king Ganapati, seems to have continued intact during Vijayanagar empire also.


The existence of a Vijayanagar governorship at Vinikonda, presently a railway station south-west of Guntur.  The translation of a kind of Sanskrit  drama called * Premabhiramam ' into Telugu under the name of  * Kridabhiramam ' was made by one Vallabha Raya who calls himself the Governor of Vinikonda. He gives a number of details about his ancestors who were all officers of distinction under the predecessors of Deva Raya II He described himself as the Governor of  Vinikonda and that he enjoyed the revenues of certain villages as salary of the office. This reference provides the first instance of a governorship in this particular area  under Vijayanagar.

It was under Sultan Firoz of the Bhamani kingdom that the effective conquest of the territories of
Warrangal was undertaken by the Bahmani Sultans. This expansion policy was continued by his two successors, Sultans Ahmad and Allau-d-din. But Allau-d-din's wars against his Muhammadan neighbours of Khandesh and Malwa and sometimes even of  Gujarat, almost undid the work of his predecessors in the east. When he felt himself once again  free to attack areas  in the east,  he called for the assistance of Orissa, under Kapilesvara Gajapati. This alliance  gave possession  of the  Telingana coast to the monarch of Orissa while the Bahmani Sultans themselves had to remain content with a part of Warrangal which was within the eastern frontier of the present Nizam's dominions. This advance of Orissa Kings  brought down  the influence of the Reddi chiefs who ruled the area independently for some time.


An interesting extract from a contemporary Sanskrit  drama called the ' Gangadasapratapavilasam ', gives a specific reference to a joint invasion of Vijayanagar by the Bahmani Sultan and the Gajapati king of Orissa. The death of the great monarch Deva Raya II was taken advantage of by these two rulers to carry their expansion southwards, Orissa along the Telingana coast and the  Bahmani Sultan over the rest of the frontier of Vijayanagar. The invasion was obviously beaten off as the extract says, and Mallikarjuna, the son of Deva Raya, succeeded to the throne.

But a claim is made in behalf of the Gajapatis of a successful advance by them as far as Kanchi, in a dramatic romance called ' Kanji-Kaveri-Pothi.'  It is this successful intrusion on the part of Orissa that gave the occasion for Saluva Narasimha to build up his following  and ultimately to occupy the imperial throne displacing the ruler of the earlier dynasty.

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