Jun 26, 2011

Amoghavarsha (Nrupathunga) I

Amoghavarsha (Nrupathunga) I (Kannada: ಅಮೋಘವರ್ಷ ನೃಪತುಂಗ मराठी: अमोघवर्ष नृपतुंग ) (800–878 C.E.) was a Rashtrakuta emperor, the greatest ruler of the Rashtrakuta dynasty, and one of the great kings of India. His nominal reign of 64 years is the longest precisely dated monarchical reign on record in India and one of the longest documented reigns of all monarchy since antiquity. He was a devoted follower of Jainism. Historians have compared him to the legendary Emperor Ashoka for his religious temperament and love of peace. Many Kannada and Sanskrit scholars prospered during his rule, including, Mahaviracharya who wrote Ganita-sara-samgraha, Jinasena, Virasena, Shakatayan and Sri Vijaya (the Kannada language theorist). Amoghavarsha I was an accomplished poet and scholar. He wrote the Kavirajamarga, the earliest extant literary work in Kannada,[1][2] and Prashnottara Ratnamalika, a religious work in Sanskrit. During his rule he held such titles as Nrupathunga, Atishadhavala, Veeranarayana, Rattamarthanda and Srivallabha. He moved the Rashtrakuta regal capital from Mayurkhandi in the Bidar district to Manyakheta in the Gulbarga district in the modern Karnataka state. He is said to have built the regal city to "match that of Lord Indra". The capital city was planned to include elaborately designed buildings for the royalty using the finest of workmanship.[3]

Early Years
Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I (whose birth name was Sharva)[4][5] was born in 800 in Sribhavan on the banks of the river Narmada during the return journey of his father, King Govinda III, from his successful campaigns in northern India. This information is available from the Manne records of 803 and the Sanjan plates of 871, both important sources of information about Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I.[4] The Sirur plates further clarify that Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I ascended to the throne in 814 at the age of 14 after the death of his father. All his inscriptions thereafter refer to him as Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I.[6] His guardian during his early years as king was his cousin, Karka Suvarnavarsha of the Gujarat branch of the empire.

A revolt led by some of his relatives together with feudatories of the kingdom temporarily unseated Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I who, with the help of his guardian and cousin (Karka) also called Patamalla, re-established himself as the king of the empire by 821. This information comes from the Surat records and the Baroda plates of 835.[7][8] The first to revolt was the Western Ganga feudatory led by King Shivamara II. In the series of battles that followed, Shivamara II was killed in 816 and Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I's commander and confidant, Bankesha, was defeated in Rajaramadu by the next Ganga king, Rachamalla.[9] Due to the resilience of the Gangas, Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I was forced to follow a conciliatory policy. He married his daughter, Chandrabbalabbe, to the Ganga king Buthuga and another daughter, Revakanimmadi, to the Ganga prince Ereganga. More revolts occurred between 818 and 820, but by 821 Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I had overcome all resistance and established a stable kingdom to rule.

Wars in South
Vijayaditya II of the Eastern Chalukya family overthrew Bhima Salki, the ruling Rashtrakuta feudatory at Vengi, took possession of the throne and continued his hostilities against the Rashtrakutas. He captured Sthambha (modern Kammamettu), a Rashtrakuta stronghold. From the Cambay and Sangli plates it is known that Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I overwhelmingly defeated the Vengi Chalukyas and drove them out of their strongholds in the battle of Vingavalli.[9] The Bagumra records mention a "Sea of Chalukyas" invading the Ratta kingdom which Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I successfully defended. After these victories he assumed the title Veeranarayana.

Tranquility was restored temporarily by a marriage between Vijayaditya II's son, Vishnuvardhana V, and the Ratta princess Shilamahadevi, a sister of Karka of the Gujarat branch. However, Vishnuvardhana V attacked the northern Kalachuri feudatory of the Rashtrakutas in Tripuri, central India, and captured Elichpur near Nasik. Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I killed Vishnuvardhana V in 846 but continued a friendly relationship with the next Chalukya ruler, Gunaga Vijayaditya III, and suppressed the recalcitrant Alupas of South Canara under prince Vimaladitya in 870. Likewise, Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I maintained friendly interactions with the Pallava who were busy keeping the Pandyas at bay. The Pallavas had marital ties with the Rashtrakutas as well. Nandivarman was married to a Ratta princess, Sankha, and their son was also called Nrupathunga. This has prompted historians to suggest that the Pallava king must have married Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I's daughter.[10]

The Sanjan inscriptions of 871 claim Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I made a great effort to overthrow the kingdom of the Dravidas. The record also states that Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I imprisoned for life the Gangavamshi ruler and also those in his own court who had carried out plots against him.[11]

Religion and Culture
Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I preferred to remain friendly with all his neighbours and feudatories and avoided taking an aggressive posture against them. It is still debated whether he abdicated his throne at times to fulfill religious pursuits.[12] He deeply cared for his subjects and once when a calamity threatened to harm them, he offered his finger as a sacrifice to the goddess Mahalakshmi of Kholapur. For this act he has been compared to puranic heroes such as Bali, Shibi and Jimutavahana.[13] It is written that the rulers of Vanga, Anga, Magadha, Malwa and Vengi worshipped him.[14] He also patronised the famous Ellora Temples.

Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I was a disciple of Jinasenacharya. Proof for this comes from the writing, Mahapurana (also known as Uttara Purana), by Gunabhadra in which the author states "blissful for the world is the existence of Jinasenacharya, by bowing to whom Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga considered himself to be purified". The same writing proves that Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I was a follower of the "Digambara" branch of Jainism.[15] His own writing Kavirajamarga is a landmark literary work in Kannada language and became a guide book for future poets and scholars for centuries to come.[1] The Sanskrit writing Prashnottara Ratnamalika is said to have been written by Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I in his old age when he had distanced himself from the affairs of the state. However others argue that it was written by Adi Shankara or by Vimalacharya.[16]

Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I patronised both Jainism and Hinduism. His empire was one among the four great contemporary empires of the world and because of his peaceful and loving nature, he has been compared to Emperor Ashoka as noted above.[17][18] The Jain Narayana temple of Pattadakal, ( a UNESCO World Heritage Site)[19] the basadi at Konnur and the Neminatha basadi at Manyakheta were built during his rule. His queen was Asagavve. Writings such as Mahapurana by Gunabhadra, Prashnottara Ratnamalika and Mahaviracharya's Ganita sara sangraha are evidence that Amoghavarsha Nrupathunga I followed Jainism.[20] Famous scholars of his time were Shakatayan, Mahaveera, Virasena, Jinasena, Gunabhadra and Sri Vijaya.[21]

1 a b Narasimhachraya (1988), p2,p12,p17
2 Sastri (1955), p. 355.
3 Sastri (1955), p. 146.
4 a b Kamath (2001), p77
5 It has been claimed that Sharva may be a title (Reu 1933, p66)
6 Reu (1933), p68
7 Kamath (2001), p78
8 Reu 1933, p66
9 a b From the Hiregundagal records (Kamath 2001, p78)
10 Dr. Hultzsch in Kamath (2001), p79
11 Reu (1933), p70
12 He retired to his Jain monastery more than once during his long reign (Sastri 1955, p395)
13 From the Sanjan plates (Kamath 2001, p79)
14 From the Nilagunda records (Kamath 2001, p79)
15 Reu (1933), p72
16 While the Tibetan version of the book and copies of the book written by Digambara Jains claim the
author was indeed Amgohavarsha Nrupathunga I, the manuscript copy of the writing preserved in theGovernment Oriental Manuscripts Library, Madras states that Shankaracharya was the author. SomeSvetambara Jains claim the author was Vimalacharya (Reu 1933, p36, p73)
17 R.S.Panchamukhi in Kamath (2001), p80
18 From the notes of 9th century Arab traveller Suleiman (Kamath 2001, p80)
19 Vijapur, Raju S.. "Reclaiming past glory". Deccan Herald. Spectrum. Retrieved 2007-02-27.
20 Reu (1933), p35-36
21 Kamath (2001), p79


*Sastri, Nilakanta K.A. (2002) [1955]. A history of South India from prehistoric times to the fall of Vijayanagar. New Delhi: Indian Branch, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-560686-8.

*Kamath, Suryanath U. (2001) [1980]. A concise history of Karnataka : from pre-historic times to the present. Bangalore: Jupiter books. OCLC 7796041. LCCN 809-5179.

*Narasimhacharya, R (1988) [1988]. History of Kannada Literature. New Delhi, Madras: Asian Educational Services. ISBN 81-206-0303-6.

*Reu, Pandit Bisheshwar Nath (1997) [1933]. History of The Rashtrakutas (Rathodas). Jaipur: Publication scheme. ISBN 81-86782-12-5.

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