Dynastic History of the Bhaumakaras

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1. Kshemankaradeva

Kshemankaradeva was the founder of the Bhauma-Kara dynasty in Odisha. Before him anarchy had destoyed the social structure in this land. The Neulpur Charter of Subhakaradeva II reveals that Kshemankara established the traditional four-fold caste system in the society. His blood and iron policy maintained law and order in the empire. On the other hand, he showed his conciliatory policy towards his subjects to bring peace and harmony in the society. Kshemankaradeva took adequate steps to preserve the integrity of his empire. From Samangad inscription and the Dasavatara inscription, it becomes apparent that Rastrakuta ruler Dantidurga won victories over Kalinga and Kosala, but did not venture to attack Odra and Utkala. This shows the heroism of Kshemankaradeva who left no stone unturned in consolidating the Bhauma rule in Odisha.


2. Sivakaradeva I (C-736-783 A.D.)

Kshemankaradeva was succeeded by his worthy son Sivakaradeva I alias Unmattasimha or Unmatta Kesari. He was a mighty ruler and followed the principle of extensive aggrandisement in the north-east and south-west. The Talcher plate of Sivakara III compares him with Poros who had fought against Alexander and his Macedonian garrison. From the same plate it is known that with his grand army he marched to south west Bengal, defeated the ruler of Radha and “took away in victory the daughter of the king along with the latter’s kingly fortune”. That princess may be identified with queen Jayavallidevi who is known from the Chaurasi plate of Sivakaradeva II.

From the Talcher plate of Sivakara III, it is inferred that during his period, the Bhauma army conquered the entire Kalinga stretching from the river Vamsadhara to Godavari defeating the Ganga power. Further, his victorious arms went upto Kongoda and Svetaka. The Ganjam grant of Jayavaramandeva of Svetaka reveals that the Svetaka ruler donated the village Valarisranga in Varttini Visaya of Kongoda mandala to Bhatta Nannata after obtaining the necessary permission of Unmatta Kesari of Viraja through Visavarnavadeva, who was perhaps the governor of Kongoda. This fact clearly indicates that Jaya Varmandadeva was a vassal of Unmattakesari alias Sivakaradeva I, who was the overlord of Kongoda and Svetaka. Thus, Sivakaradeva I extended his sway to Kalinga, Kongoda, Svetaka and Radha. Sivakara I was eager to maintain cultural relation with countries outside Odisha. He sent a Buddhist work Gandavyuha as a presentation to the Chinese emperor Te-tsong through Prajna, a Buddhist scholar who was instructed to provide the emperor of China a translation of that work. This was definitely a pointer in the direction of Sino-Indian cultural relation. Of course, scholars differ in opinion regarding the presentation of Gandavyuha. Some opine that it was done during Subhakaradeva I, the son and successor of Sivakaradeva I. However, the patronage of SivakaradevaI to the distinguished scholars tempt the present writer to opine in the line of many scholars that this act must have been accomplished during the reign period of that ruler and not probably during the time of his son Subhakaradeva I.

3. Subhakaradeva I (C-780-800 A.D.)

Subhakaradeva I succeeded to his father Sivakaradeva I who had bequeathed a vast kindgom for his son. During the reign period of his father, he was really instrumental to extend he sway of the Bhauma-Kara dynasty to Kalinga, Kongoda and Svetaka. His dream could not be fully fulfilled as he had to bear the brunt of the Rastrakuta ruler Govinda III. The Sanjan plate of Amoghavarsa states that Govinda III conquered Odraka along with Kosala, Kalinga, Vanga and Dahala. This fact finds a faint reference in the Hindol plate of Subhakara I which reveals that “even though he (Subhakaradeva I) was deserted by his soldiers his glory was never impaired by his adverseries and he was the best of men”. Making a reterence to the Madala Panji. K. C. Panigrahi analyses a story recorded in it and that has near e.aborated by A. Stirling. The episode states the invasion of Haktavahu and the retreat of Subhanadeva, the king of Odisha with the images of Jagannath. Balabhadra and SLbhadra. Prof. Panigrahi identified Raktavahu with the Rastrakutas and Subhanadeva WitI’ Subhakaradeva I. However, Biswarup Das rejects the view of Prof. Panigrahi on the ground that the Rastrakutas had no ill reputation of destroying the Buddhist image (God Jagannath has been treated as a Buddhist deity) anywhere. The present writer is inclined to say that since Subhakara I assumed full imperial titles like ‘Paramabhattaraka and Paramesvara’, it is definite that he was not a feudatory of the Rastrakutas. Of course, Rastrakuta invasion took place, but it was like a meteor and had no impact on the Bhauma suzerainty. Subhakaradeva I was known for his religious toleration.Though he was a Buddhist ruler as is evident from the assumption of the title ‘Parama Saugata’, he granted Komparaka village in Panchala Visaya and two villages of Dondaki and Yoka in Vabhyudayar Visaya to 200 Brahmins. Further, his queen Madhavadevi built Madhavesvara Siva temple at Viraja and appointed a Saivacharya for the worship of the God as is evident from the Hamsesvara temple inscription of Jajpur. Further, she also excavated a tank near the temple and established a market (hata) nearby. Out and out Subhakaradev I was a brave and benevolent ruler. The Hamsesvara temple inscription describes him as a mighty king of Bhauma-Kara family. In the Bhauma records he has been described as ‘a mine of good conduct and good qualities’.

4. Sivakaradeva II (C-800-820 A.D.)

With the accession of Sivakaradeva II, an inglorious chapter began in the history of the Bhauma-Karas. During his period, the Palas invaded Odisha. The Badal Pillar inscription of the time of Narayanapala reveals that “the Lord of Gauda (Devapala) exterminated the race of the Utkalas’. Some scholars opine that he was definitely defeated by Devapala. This fact of the Badal Pillar inscription has been corroborated by the accounts of Taranath which refers to the conquest of Utkala by Devapala. Sivakaradeva I was a Buddhist king and was known as ‘Saugatasraya’. Of course, his queen Mohinidevi was a Saiva and she built the Mohini temple at Bhubaneswar. When the Bhauma-Karas were in utter disdain and the Bhauma Kindgom resembled “a female who had a distressful heart”, Sivakaradeva II stepped down from the throne giving way to his younger brother Shantikaradeva I.

5. Shantikaradeva I (C- 820-835 A.D.)

The manner in which Shantikaradeva I succeeded his elder brother, proved to be a turning point in the Bhauma history. To strengthen the Bhauma power, he cemented matrimonial alliance with the Western Ganga king Rajamalla. With the help of the latter, Shantikaradeva I inflicted a crushing defeat upon the Palas. Under his leadership, Odisha soon emerged as an independent kingdom. This fact has been faintly corroborated by the Hindol plate of Subhakaradeva III. In this context, it can be stated that Gosvaminide alias Tribhuvanamahadevi, whom Pandit B. Mishra and D. C. Sircar attach with Naga family is wrong, rather she belonged to the Western Ganga family, as the historical analysis reveals. Shantikaradeva I was an effective ruler and exercised tremendous control over his feudatories. The Talcher plate of Sivakara III describes that “……his fascinating lotus like feet shone with the crown less heads of subjugated rulers”. The Talcher plate of Subhakara IV also corroborates this fact. Like his predecessors, he possessed noble qualities. The Hindol plate of Subhakaradeva III mentions that “he was powerful and renowned in the world”. He was well behaved, peace loving, affable and peerless in quality. The contemporary records have bestowed lavish praise on the power and glory of the Bhauma kingdom during his reign period. Perhaps, during his time, Bhauma kingdom reached the pinnacle of celebrity.

6. Subhakaradeva II (C-835-.838 A.D.)

The reign period of Subhakaradeva II is completely barren as nothing glorious had been attained during his reign period. From his Terundia copper plate grant it is known that he was a Buddhist and he granted a village named Lavaganda in Sulantarakurbha Visaya in South Tosali in favour of six Brahmins of Bharadvaja gotra.

7. Subhakaradeva III (C- 838-845 A.D.)

Subhakaradeva was succeeded by his cousin Subhakaradeva III. His reign period, though short marked a change in the Bhauma ruling family. Because this younger branch is his charter never mentions the name of Subhakaradeva II of the elder branch. Subhakaradeva III was known for his catholicity. By the request of Pulindraja, as Hindol Charter reveals, he built the temple of Pulindesvara at Yuvangulapatika and installed there a deity named Vaidyanatha Bhattaraka. For the maintenance of this temple, he donated a village Naddilo in the Kankavir visaya of Northern Tosali. His generosity is also reflected in the Dharakot plate that records the grant of the village Gundaja in the Jayantika visaya of Kongoda mandala in favour of two Brahmins named Narayana and Devakantha of Maudgalya and Kausika gotra respectively.

8.Tribhuvana Mahadevi I (C- 845-850 A.D.)

The political history of Bhauma-Karas took a new turn with the accession of Tribhuvana Mahadevi I. As Subhakaradeva III died issueless, his mother, the widow queen of Shantikaradeva I assumed the imperial title ‘Tribhuvana Mahadevi’ and ascended the throne. Her glory has been sung in the Talcher plate of Subhakaradeva IV as such- “She took upon the burden of the entire kindgom and shone like Sesanaga, holding up the entire earth on her hoods.” Perhaps, her accession to the Bhauma throne was not without any opposition and she quelled the rebellion with an iron hand. A faint echo of it has been preserved in her own record in which she has been described to have “ascended the throne like Katyayani”. She took up the title Paramavaisnavi as her Dhenkanal plate reveals.

Tribhuvana Mahadevi I maintained an effective hold over her vassals who showed her their “devoted loyalty”. She gave an efficient administration to her subjects by appointing officers “of pure character and clean hands.” Highlighting her glories, the Talcher plate of Subhakaradeva IV states, “During her rule the country advanced in three (branches of administration), the foes were exterminated, the glory spread abroad and there was harmony among the people.”

The Hudud-al-Alam states that “the royal power belongs to a woman ‘Who is called rayina’ (rani or queen) and that the “Dahuma (Bhauma) does not consider anyone superior to herself.” Tribhuvana Mahadevi I was instrumental in maintaining social harmony. She patronised Vaishnavism and was a great patron of Hari. She set an example by taking the reign of administration of the Bhauma family for the first time. This gave inspiration to the subsequent women ruler of the Bhauma-Kara dynasty.

9. Shantikaradeva II (C-850-865 A.D.)

Shantikaradeva II succeeded Tribhuvana Mahadevl I alias Gosvamini Devi. The Talcher plate of Subhakaradeva IV states that she abdicated the Bhauma-Kara throne in favour of her grandson Shantikaradeva II when the latter grew up and became fit to bear the burdern of administration. Though Shantikaradeva II has no inscription, available till now, still he has been referred in the records of his successors. From those records it is known that he was also known as “Lonabhara” or “Lavanabhara I” and “Gayada II”. His queen was Hira Mahadevi, in the records of her son Subhakaradeva IV, she is known as ‘Maharajadhiraja Paramesvari’. This suggests that she took up the reign of administration for a short time after the death of her husband when her son was minor.

10. Subhakaradeva IV (C- 865-882 A.D.)

Shantikaradeva II was succeeded by his eldest son Subhakaradeva IV alias Kusumahara II. As revealed from the charters Subhakaradeva IV showed signs of promise since his childhood. He delved deep into the inner meaning of the sacred hymns narrated in the Sastras when he was not even a youth. He has been praised highly in the contemporary records which depict him as a man devoted to noble human virtues like magnanimity, gentleness royal behaviour and veracity. However, during his regime the Bhauma-Kara Kingdom had to bear the brunt qf the Somavamsi aggression. By that time Janmejaya I, the Somavamsi ruler attacked Bhauma Kingdom and Ranabhanjadeva, the feudatory of the Bhaumas in Khinjali mandala had74 to cross swords with the mighty ruler of the Somavamsi dynasty. The ultimate death of Ranabhanja led Janmejaya I to annex Khinjali mandala to the Somavamsi Kingdom. Thus, this was the first signal of the decline of the Bhauma-Kara power. Anyway, Janmejaya I cemented matrimonial alliance with the Bhaumas by giving his daughter Prithivi Mahadevi to Subhakaradeva IV. This was another blunder of the Bhaumas and was largely responsible for contributing a lot to the extinction of the Bhauma authority. As envisaged, Subhakaradeva IV was a weak ruler though he possessed many good qualities.

11. Sivakaradeva III (C- 882-890 A.D.)

As Subhakaradeva IV died childless, he was succeeded by his brother Sivakaradeva II alias Lalitahara. Nothing remarkable is known about his reign period. In his records, he was known as ‘Paramamahesvara’ and ‘Paramabhattaraka’. This shows that he was a devout Saiva. On the otherhand, he was a patron of Buddhism. This fact has been testified by his two Talcher charters which show the grant of two villages namely, Kami in the Purvarastra visaya and Surdhipura in the Madhyama-Khanda visaya in favour of the ‘Buddha Bhattaraka’ whose temple has been built by Ambubhattaraka. This shows his catholicity and spirit of tolerance.

12. Prithivi Mahadevi alias Tribhuvana Mahadevi II (C-890-896 A.D.)

After Sivakaradeva III, Prithivi Mahadevi alias Tribhuvana Mahadevi II ascended the throne. Perhaps, this happened due to interference of her father Janamejaya I. The fact cannot be definitely asserted but the possibility also cannot be over ruled. So in her charters, she pays glowing tribute to her father Janmejaya I. In the Brahmesvara inscription of the time of Somavamsi King Udyotakesari Mahabhavagupta, it is stated that Janmejaya “drew to himself the fortune of the King of Odra country, who was killed by his Kunta in a battle”. This fact along with the description of his qualities in Tribhuvana Mahadevi’s charters together establish the fact that Janmejaya I was instrumental in placing Prithiv Mahadevi in the throne of the BhaumaKaras. At this juncture, Sankaragana, the Kalachuri king invaded Kosala and Janmejaya I remained busy in fighting with the aggressor. Taking advantage of this situation, the loyal officials of the Bhauma-Kara dynasty approached the widow queen of Sivakaradeva III to assume the Bhauma throne subsiding the claim of Prithivi Mahadevi. This led Tribhuvana Mahadevi to ascend the Bhauma throne. By that time Janmejaya I had concluded peace with the Kalachuris. However, he did not think it prudent to interfere in the administration of Tosali as Tribhuvana Mahadevi III had firmly established his position in Tosali. It appears that Prithivi Mahadevi spent rest of her life at her father’s residence at Kosala.

13. Tribhuvana Mahadevi III (C-896-905 A.D.)

It has been stated earlier the circumstance in which Tribhuvana Mahadevi II ascended the throne. She assumed imperial titles like ‘Paramabhattaraka’, Maharajadhiraja and ‘Paramesvan’. She was praised for her magnanimity, courtsey, beauty and valour. She was also a Vaisnava by faith. She was a pious lady. From the Dhenkanal Charter it is known that she granted a village Kontaspara in favour of one Bhatta Jagadhar, an astrologer for the purpose of bringing down rains inorder to avert the calamity of death. She reigned for a brief period of nine years.

14. Shantikaradeva III and Subhakaradeva V (C- 905-910 A.D.)

Shantikaradeva III and Subhakaradeva V, the son of Sivakaradeva III succeeded Tribhuvana Mahadevi III one after another. Their reign period was quite uneventful. However, peace and tranquility prevailed over the Bhauma kingdom. Regarding Shantikaradeva III, the Angul plate of Dharma Mahadevi states that he “lived happily, as fearless he was, after the extirpation of all adversaries.” Similarly, regarding Subhakaradeva V, the Kumurang plate of Dandi Mahadevi states that he was “the slole repository of all kinds of prosperity”. However, nothing concrete is known about his activity.

The last days of the Bhauma-Kara dynasty (C-910-950 A.D.)

After Subhakaradeva V, the last male ruler of the Bhauma-Kara dynasty, four female rulers occupied the Bhauma throne one after another.

15. Gauri Mahadevi

First among them was Gauri Mahadevi, the queen of Subhakaradeva V. Of course, no record of her time is available. She was however, able to preserve the law and order inside the kingdom. Praising her, the Kumurang plate of Dandi Mahadevi states ” ….. at her lotus-like feet was prostrate the entire population (of the kingdom)”

16. Dandi Mahadevi

Gauri Mahadevi was succeeded by her daughter Dandi Mahadevi. She issued a large number of grants like Kumurang grant. Santarigrama grant, Arual grant, Ambagan grant and two Ganjam grants. She not only possessed grace and charm but successfully maintained her authority over the entire Bhauma kingdom. Further, she secured the boarders of the Bhaumakara dynasty from the “formidable and hostile kings, humbled by her prowess”. In her records, she assumed imperial titles like ‘Paramamahesvari’ ‘Paramabhattarika’ and ‘Maharajadhiraja Paramesvari’. This indicates that she was a powerful ruler. This fact has been further corroborated by the donation of lands both in Uttara Tosali and Dakshina Tosali. The description of pearls and gems in her records testifies the fact, that Bhauma Kingdom was prosperous by her time.

17. Vakula Mahadevi

Dandi Mahadevi died a premature death and was succeeded by her step mother Vakula Mahadevi who belonged to the Bhanja family. ‘Nothing more is known about this ruler except the donation of a village in Uttara Tosali. One thing becomes clear that the Bhanjas now entered into the internal administration of the Bhauma-Karas.

18. Dharma Mahadevi

Dharma Mahadevi, the wife of Shantikaradeva III succeeded Dandi Mahadevi. She was the last known ruler of the Bhauma-Kara dynasty. She issued two charters, the Angul charter and Taltali charter. In the latter charter, she has been described as ‘Paramabhattarika Maharajadhiraja Paramesvari’. However, as she was a Bhanja princess, the entry of the Bhanjas in the internal affairs of the Bhauma-Kara dynasty had become crystal clear. Her rule was not significant and paved the way for the downfall of the Bhauma-Karas. The rise of the Somavamsis under Janmejaya I had more particularly, during Yayati I signalled the down fall of the Bhauma-Karas. Yayati I who ousted the Bhanjas from Baud-Sonepur region, perhaps occupied the Bhauma kingdom by killing Dharma Mahadevi, the last ruler of the Bhauma-Kara dynasty. This is evident from his copper plate grant which mentions about his donation of a village named Chandra grama in Marada Visaya of Dakshina Tosali. Thus, with the fall of the Bhauma-Karas, the reign of administration of Tosali passed into the hands of the Somavamsis.


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