Foundation of the Western Cālukya Dynasty Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In the late tenth century, the Cālukya Dynasty, first established in the 600’s in southern India, experienced a revival under Taila II.

Summary of Event

The history of southern India is complex and often obscure, not least in the area known as Karnataka, or the northern region of the Western Ghats in the Deccan peninsula. That complexity is something of a contrast to northern India and the Gangetic plain area, where large and often long-lasting empires such as the Mauryan and Gupta and then later the Muslim states centered at Delhi gave a semblance of continuity and focus. In comparison, the history of southern India is relatively unknown. Throughout the first millennium in the common era and well into the second, the history of the region is the history of the rise and fall of numerous dynasties and kingdoms. One of those dynasties was the Cālukya, which twice during that long period achieved significant prominence in the region, controlling considerable territory. [kw]Foundation of the Western Cālukya Dynasty (973) [kw]Cālukya Dynasty, Foundation of the Western (973) Western Cālukya Dynasty India;973: Foundation of the Western Cālukya Dynasty[1290] Government and politics;973: Foundation of the Western Cālukya Dynasty[1290] Taila II Vikramāditya VI

The earlier Cālukya Dynasty Cālukya Dynasty[Calukya Dynasty] ruled much of southern India, the peninsular region known as the Deccan, from 543 to 757. Pulakeśin I Pulakeśin I (r. 543-566) founded the dynasty and established his capital at Vāṭāpi (modern Bādāmi) in the district of Bijapur. It was claimed that Pulakeśin even performed the aśvamedha (horse sacrifice), a ceremony associated with great rulers in a tradition going back a thousand years to earlier Aryan times. Subsequent Cālukya kings, or rajas, extended Cālukya territories, generally through military conquest, and became powerful enough under Pulakeśin II Pulakeśin II (r. 610-642), one of the most successful of the early Cālukya rajas, to supposedly inflict a military defeat on the greatest Indian ruler of the time, Harṣa of Kanauj, c. 620. The noted Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Xuanzang (Hsüan-tsang; 602-664) visited Pulakeśin’s court. By the end of the century, Cālukya rule extended into the Gujarat region, north and west of the Deccan. As a consequence of that territorial expansion, one of the conquered areas was given to a brother of Pulakeśin II, which resulted in the establishment of what became known as the Eastern Cālukyas, who governed the region in what is now Andhra Pradesh, from the early 600’s to the late eleventh century. The Cālukyas were Hindus but were noted for their toleration of rival creeds, notably Jainism and Buddhism Religion;Cālukyas[Calukyas] . However, the original Cālukyas fell to the Rārakūṭas Rāśṭrakūṭas[Rastrakutas] of Mānyakheta toward the end of the eighth century, with the Cālukyas becoming merely feudatories of the Rārakūṭas. In ancient India, it was said that the big fish ate the little fish, and the Rārakūṭas had become the bigger fish.

By the tenth century, the power and influence of the Rārakūṭas in the region was shared with the Pratihāras and the Pālas, but during that century, the three dynasties declined almost simultaneously, an event that fueled a Cālukya revival, possibly inspired or rationalized by a knowledge, historical or legendary, of the earlier Cālukya’s exalted past. In any event, as a cause or a consequence of the decline of the three states, the Cālukyas again achieved independence and regional prominence under Taila II Taila II , in 973, who established what is known as the Western Cālukyas. Making Kalyani his capital, Taila restored the luster of the Cālukyas, ruling for twenty-four years until approximately 997.

Taila’s reign—like that of so many kings and rajas before and after him—was made glorious by his military accomplishments, most notably his defeat of Paramāra Munja of Malwa. Taila’s victories, not least his victory over Paramara, became the subject of legends and poems. One of the most notable poets of the era, Ranna of Kannada Ranna of Kannada (fl. 993), a Jain and the author of the Ajiṭa-Purāṇa (tenth century), celebrated Taila’s fame and that of Taila’s son, Saṭyaśraya, whom Ranna compared to Bheema, the great warrior who defeated Duryodhana in India’s great epic masterpiece, Mahābhārata Mahābhārata (Vyāsa)[Mahabharata (Vyasa)] (c. 400 b.c.e.-400 c.e.; The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayana Vyasa, 1887-1896). Although Hindus, the Western Cālukyas were also patrons of Jainism, giving support to writers and artists and constructing temples and other religious structures.

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Cālukya ambitions and successes were not unchallenged. From the far south of the peninsula, the Cōlas Cōlas[Colas] of Tanjore, under the leadership of Rājarāja I Rājarāja I (r. 985-1014) and his successors, had established a successful and expansionist dynasty, and in the early tenth century, the Cōlas invaded Cālukya territories. According the Cālukya sources, the Cōla army was particularly brutal, killing women and children and raping young girls from the higher castes, a heinous offence in India’s caste-dominated society. However, instead of defeating the Cālukyas and making them feudatories to the Cōlas, Rājarāja’s assault guaranteed that the Cālukyas would become and remain bitter antagonists.

Although plunder was always a motivating factor, the Cālukya-Cōla conflict was about territorial ambitions, and the continuing struggle can best be understood as repeated attempts to establish defensible frontiers or borders between the two south Indian dynasties that were relatively equally balanced in resources and strengths. Taila’s son, Saṭyaśraya Saṭyaśraya , won renown by defeating Rājarāja. Later Cālukya kings experienced invasions, suffered defeats, and won victories. Jayasimha I Jayasimha I successfully resisted invasions from the north and from the Cōla south, led by Rājarāja’s son and successor, Rājendracōla Deva I Rājendracōla Deva I (r. 1014-1044). Jagadhekamalla Jagadhekamalla I supposedly defeated the ruler of the Malava confederacy as well as the king of Chedi. The Cōlas sacked the Cālukya capital of Kalyani c. 1050, but Someśvara I Someśvara I (r. 1043-1068) subsequently drove the Cōlas out of the city and out of Cālukya lands.

The dynasty’s greatest raja was Vikramāditya VI Vikramāditya VI (r. 1076-1126). The son of Someśvara I, he was his father’s first choice to rule, but Vikramāditya declined in favor of his elder brother, Someśvara II. Someśvara II Before becoming raja in his own right, Vikramāditya defeated the Cōla king Virarājendra, who gave his daughter to Vikramāditya as a peace pledge. Vikramāditya was also victorious over the Keralas and Sri Lanka, although that claim sounds problematic. The Cālukya brothers had a falling out, and Vikramāditya ruled the southern part of Cālukya lands independently from Someśvara II, but he became raja of the Cālukyas in his own right in 1076. As other rulers before him, Vikramāditya was a patron of the arts, giving support to the writers Bhilhana and Vijnaneswara.

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His successor, Someśvara III, Someśvara III more interested in the arts than in politics and war, allowed Viṣṇuvardhana Hoysaḷa to become largely independent of Cālukya rule, and Jagadhekamalla II Jagadhekamalla II (r. 1135-1151) saw the Hoysaḷas invade Cālukya territory. His successor, Taila III Taila III (r. 1151-1154), was captured by Prola I Prola I , of the Kākatīya Kākatīyas[Kakatiyas] . Bijjala Kalacuri Bijjala Kalacuri , Taila III’s chief general, usurped the throne, but he successfully restored the kingdom’s defenses. Several brief reigns followed: Someśvara IV Someśvara IV (r. 1168-1177), Saṇkama II (r. 1177-1180), Āhavamalla (r. 1180-1183), and Singhana (r.1183-1184). The last of the Western Cālukya rajas was Someśvara V (r. 1184-1189/1190). Someśvara V

Significance

The dynasty came to an end perhaps the way it had begun in the late tenth century under Taila II, with the decline and fall of a kingdom and the successful takeover by an ambitious individual or family and the establishment of a new ruling dynasty. Most Indian dynasties, like many other monarchies elsewhere, were organized on a feudal basis, with local families and clans giving support to the kings and rajas in exchange for protection and privileges. Weak rulers and ambitious feudatories could and did often reverse the relationship. The Hoysaḷas Hoysaḷas[Hoysalas] , originally a family of petty hill chiefs, were ostensibly Cālukya feudatories. Long ambitious, the Hoysaḷas had assisted Vikramāditya VI against the Cōlas, and in the 1100’, they had declared their semi-independence from the Cālukyas. With the decline of the Cālukyas in the twelfth century, possibly due in part to inadequate leadership, but also because the Cālukyas were weakened by a continuing struggle with the invading Kalacuris of Madya Pradesh, the Hoysaḷas, led by Vira Ballala I Vira Ballala I , supplanted the Western Cālukyas in 1190. The Cōlas, longtime rivals of the Cālukyas, also declined in the twelfth century. The wheel of southern India dynasties had turned once more.

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Aruna, A. State Formation in the Eastern Deccan, Seventh Century A.D.-Thirteenth Century A.D. Delhi, India: Bharatiya Kala Prakashan, 2000. A political history that also discusses the Cālukya Dynasty.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Dikshit, Durga Prasad. Political History of the Chalukyas of Badami. New Delhi, India: Abhinau Publications, 1980. An overly detailed account of the political history of the Cālukyas, but one of the few available in English.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Gopal, B. R. The Chalukyas of Kalyana and the Kalachuris. Dharwad, India: Karnatak University Press, 1981. A scholarly study of the later Cālukyas.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Krishaswami Ayyangar, S. “Hindu States in Southern India.” In The Cambridge History of India. Vol. 3, edited by Sir Wolsey Haig. Delhi, India: S. Chand, 1958. Relates in knowledgeable detail the era that includes the history of the Western Cālukyas.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Majumdar, Asoke Kumar. Chalukyas of Gujarat. Bombay, India: Bharatiya Vidya Bhaven, 1956. A study of Gujarat from the tenth to the end of the thirteenth century.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Murari, Krishna. The Calukya of Kalyani from Circa 973 to 1200 A.D. Delhi: Concept Publishing, 1977. A history of the Cālukyas written by an Indian historian.

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