Medieval Indian History Part – 1 The North Indian kingdoms – The Rajputs

Medieval period

  • Lies between the 8th and the 18th century A.D

  • The Early Medieval period (8th-12th century A.O.)

  • Later Medieval period (12th-18th century)

  • Rajputs who belonged to the early medieval period

  • The Rajput Period (647A.D- 1200 A.D.)

  • The Ancient Indian history came to an end with the rule of Harsha and Pulakesin II

  • From the death of Harsha to the 12th century, the destiny of India was mostly in the hands of various Rajput dynasties.

The popular theories are

  • They are the descendants of Lord Rama (Surya vamsa) or Lord Krishna (Chandra vamsa) or the Hero who sprang from the sacrificial fire (Agni Kula theory),

  • They belong to the ancient Kshatriya families,

  • They are foreigners.

There were nearly 36 Rajput’ clans. The major clans were

  • The Pratiharas of Avanti.

  • The Palas of Bengal.

  • The Chauhans of Delhi and Ajmer

  • The Rathors of Kanauj

  • The Guhilas or Sisodiyas of Mewar

  • The Chandellas of Bundelkhand

  • The Paramaras of Malwa

  • The Senas of Bengal

  • The Solankis of Gujarat.

The Rajputs lacked unity and struggled with one another

They also neglected the frontiers of India and gave way for the Muslims to invade India at a later period.

The Pratiharas 8th-11th Century A.D 

  • The Pratiharas were also known as Gurjara

  • They ruled over northern and western India from the 8th to the 11th century A.D.

  • Nagabhatta I (725-740.A.D.) was the founder of the Pratihara dynasty with Kanauj as his capital.

  • Vatsaraja and Nagabhatta II played a vital role in consolidating the empire.

  • Mihirabhoja was the most powerful Pratihara king.

  • During his period, the empire extended from Kashmir to Narmada and from Kathiawar to Bihar.

  • Mahendrapala (885-908 A.D.) son of Mihirabhoja, was also a powerful ruler.

  • He extended his control over Magadha and North Bengal

Pratiharas-A bulwark

  • The Pratiharas stood as a bulwark of India’s defence against the aggression of the Muslims from the days of Junaid of Sind (725.A.D.) to that of Mahmud of Ghazni

Decline of the Pratiharas

  • Rajyapala was the last Pratihara king.

  • Vast empire was reduced to Kanauj.

  • The Pratihara power began to decline after Mahmud of Ghazni attacked the kingdom in 1018 A.D.

  • After the decline of the Prathiharas their feudatories Palas, Tomars, Chauhans, Rathors, Chandellas, Guhilas and Paramaras became independent rulers.

  • There was complete anarchy in Bengal between 750-760 A.D.

Gopala (765-769.A.D.)

  • Restored order and founded the Pala dynasty.

  • Extended his power over Magadha and the Pala dynasty

  • Ruled over northern and eastern India.

Dharmapala (769-815 A.D.)

  • The son of Gopala, succeeded him.

  • He brought Kanauj, Bengal and Bihar under his control

  • Became the master of Northern India after defeating the Pratiharas.

  • He was a staunch Buddhist and founded several monasteries and the famous Vikramasila University.

  • He also renovated the Nalanda University

Dharmapala’s son Devapala (815-855 A.D.) 

  • Succeeded him kept the Pala territories intact

  • Captured Assam and Orissa. His successors were weak.

  • During the reign of (998-1038. A.D.) The Palas became powerful again

  • The Pala dynasty started declining after the death of Mahipala.

  • The last Pala king was Govinda Pala

Tripartite Struggle for Kanauj

  • The Pratiharas of Central India, the Palas of Bengal and the Rashtrakutas of Deccan wanted to establish their supremacy over Kanauj and the fertile Gangetic Valley.

  • Their Tripartite struggle lasted nearly 200 years and weakened all of them and enabled the Turks to overthrow them.

The Tomars of Delhi

  • The Tomars were the feudatories of the Pratiharas.

  • They rose to power and founded the city of Delhi in 736 A.D.

  • In 1043 A.D., Mahipala Tomar captured Thaneshwar, Hansi and Nagarkot.

  • The Tomars became the feudatories of the Chauhans when Delhi was captured by them in middle of the 1 2th century

The Chauhans of Delhi and Ajmer

  • The Chauhans who were the feudatories of the Pratiharas declared their independence in the 1101 century at Ajmer.

  • In the early part of the 12th century they captured Ujjain from the Paramaras of Malwa and Delhi from the Tomars.

  • They shifted their capital to Delhi.

  • The most important ruler of this dynasty was Prithvtraj Chauhan

Rathors of Kanauj (1090-1194 A.D.)

  • The Rathors established themselves on the throne of Kanauj from 1090 to 1194 A.D.

  • Jaichand was the last great ruler of this dynasty.

  • He was killed in the battle of Chandwar in 1194A.D. by Muhammad of Ghori.

The Chandellas of Bundelkhand

  • Established themselves in the 9th century.

  • The Chandella Chief Yasovarman had his capital at Mahoba.

  • Kalinjar was their important fort.

  • The Chandellas built a number of beautiful temples at Khajuraho, the most famous being the Kandariya Mahadeva Temple (1050 A.D.)

  • Qutb-ud-din Aibak defeated, Paramal the last Chandella ruler in 1203A.D.

The Guhllas or Slsodlyas of Mewar

  • The Rajput ruler Bapa Rawat was the founder of the Guhila or the Sisodiya dynasty with its capital at Chittor

  • During the period of Rana Ratan Singh of Mewar,

  • Ala-ud-din khilji invaded his territory and defeated him in 1307 A.D.

  • The Sisodiya rulers – Rana Sangha and: Maharana Pratap gave a tough fight to the Mughal rulers of India

The Paramaras of Malwa

  • The Paramaras were also the feudatories of Pratiharas. They asserted their independence in the 10th century and their capital was at Dhara.

  • Raja Bhoja (1018-1069) was the most famous ruler of this period.

  • He constructed a beautiful lake (More than 250 sq. miles) near Bhopal. He set up a college at Dhara for the study of Sanskrit Literature.

  • The reign of the Paramaras came to an end with the invasion of Ala-ud-din Khilji

Nature of the Rajputs

  • The Rajputs were great warriors and chivalrous by nature.

  • They believed in protecting the women and the weak.

Religion

  • The Rajputs were staunch followers of Hinduism

  • They also patronized Buddhism and Jainism.

  • During their period that the Bhakti Cult started.

Government

  • The Rajput government was feudal in character.

  • Each kingdom was divided into a large number of Jagirs held by the Jagirdars.

Some of the literary works of this period are

  • Kalhana’s Rajatarangin

  • Jayadeva’s Gita Govindam

  • Somadeva’s Kathasaritasagar

  • Chand Bardai, the court poet of Prithviraj Chauhan, wrote Prithviraj Raso in which he refers to the military exploits of Prithviraj Chauhan.

  • Bhaskara Charya wrote Siddhanta Shinomani, a book on astronomy

Rajasekhara

  • The court poet of Mahendrapala and Mahipala

  • His best known works were

  • Karpu ramanjari , Bala and Ramayana

Art and Architecture

  • Mural paintings and Miniature paintings became popular during this period.

  • Khajuraho group of temples,

  • Lingaraja Temple at Bhubaneshwar

  • The Sun Temple at Konark

  • The Dilwara Temple at Mount Abu

End of the Rajput Power

  • During the Rajput period there were no strong military power

  • To keep the warring princes in check and to co-ordinate their activities against foreign invasions.

Some popular terms

  • Jauhar: Amass suicide of women in order to escape defilement at the hands of foreign victors.

  • Gita Govindam: ‘Song of the cowherd

  • Rajatarangini -‘River of Kings’,

  • Kathasaritasagara -Ocean of tales’

 

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