Prataparudradeva ascended the throne after the death his father Purusottarnadeva. He was the last Gajapati ruler in the realm. Though, he was warrior of superb caliber but misfortune encompassed him time and again. Thus, he became a stupendous failure as a ruler paving way for the decline of the Gajapati rule in medieval Odisha.
Early South Indian Expeditions
The Anantavaram and Rajavolu plates together testify to the fact that by 1500- 1501 A.D. Prataparudra had encamped on the banks of river Krishna. Perhaps, he was thinking to invade the Vijayanagara Empire. His Anantavaram plate dated 1500 A.D. states: Yatram Dakshina- digvijayaya Vidadhat Samprapya Krishnatatim. After the death of Saluva Narasimha in 1419 AD., Narasa Nayaka had become the virtual ruler of that empire. When Prataparudra was measuring the strength of Narasa Nayaka, the covetous glance of Ala-ud-Din Abul Muzaffar Hussain Shah, the Sultan of Bengal over Odisha compelled him to return to his capital. With the death of Narasa Nayaka, his son Vira Narasimha succeeded his father as the regent, who expelled Immadi Narasimha, the son of Saluva Narasimha from the throne in 1505 AD. and became the founder of Tuluva dynasty in Vijayanagara. He breathed his last in 1509 AD. and was succeeded by Krishnadevaraya, the greatest among the rulers of the Vijayanagar empire. His accession lifted Prataparudra from lethargy who led his second expedition to the South. The work Rayavachakamu, an inscription at Tangeda (in the Guntur district) and the Gundapalam copper plates suggest that Prataparudra waited on the river bank of Krishna till 1510 AD. and ventured not to attack the Vijayanagara empire. Again, he had to retreat to his capital to deal with Hussain Shah of Bengal.
War with Hussain Shah
When Prataparudra was encamping in the distant South, Hussain Shah was trying to cross the border. A clash between the Odishan army and that of Bengal took place. The upada grant and Velicherla plates of Prataparudradeva testify to the fact. Hussain Shah increased his army and around 1510 A.D. invaded Odisha. The Tabaqat-i-Akbari informs that Hussain Shah conquered the country up to Odisha and levied tribute upon the subjects. The Madala Panji states thatAmura (Amir) Surathana (Sultan), the Patisa (Badshah) of Gauda marched upto Puri and destroyed the images of God Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra. It further informs that on hearing the advance of the Sultan, Prataparudra marched back to Odisha in haste and inflicted a crushing defeat upon the invader pushing him back up to Bengal. Out of fear, Hussain Shah entered into the fort of Mandaran and the fort was besieged by the Gajapati. At this juncture, his able and trusted general Govinda Vidyadhara played treachery and joined the Muslim Camp. This led Prataparudradeva to retreat without subduing Hussain Shah.
Quli Qutb Shah’s invasion of Odisha
When Prataparudradeva became weak after the reverses at the hands of Krishnadevaraya, Quli Qutb Shah, a general of Sultan Mahmud Shah of Baharnani kingdom who had carved out an independent kingdom at Golkunda, invaded the southern province of Odisha. Though Prataparudra was weak and feeble, still then he marched towards the South and by the help of his army, defeated Quli Qutb Shah and drove him back to Golkunda. On this occasion, he built thetemple of Mangalagiri on the bank of river Krishna. Prataparudradeva led a painful life till his death in 1540 A.D.
Estimate of Prataparudradeva
To evaluate the achievements of Prataparudradeva, it can be stated that undoubtedly, he was a military genius. He had displayed it for many a times e.g. in dealing with Sultan Hussain Shah of Bengal and Quli Qutb Shah of Golkunda. No doubt, he was a failure in waging wars with Krishnadevaraya who was an apt warrior of that time. As shown above, different circumstances weakened the strength of his mind and brought military debacles to his career.
Prataparudradeva was a great builder:
The Madala Panji informs that he built the audience hall of the Jagannath temple at Puri. As per the popular tradition, he built the temple of Chandrasekhara on the Kapilasa hill in the Dhenkanal district. He was also instrumental of renovating the temple of Varaha at Viraja in the Jajpur district. He also constructed the temple of Dhavalesvara near village Mancheswar in Cuttack District.
Sanskrit language received the patronage of Prataparudradeva. In the Undavaill inscription, he is called the master of all arts and the repository of sixty-four kinds of learning. The Velicherla plate describes that Prataparudradeva assumed the title Vidyanidhi. His Sarasvativilasam is a famous law (Vyavahara) book of the Hindus. However, its authorship is doubtful and scholars give credit to Lalla Laxmidhar, one of the court poets of Prataparudra who wrote commentary on Saundarya Lahari. Sarvabhauma, who was originally hailed from Navadvipa, wrote a commentary on Laxmidhara’s Advaita-makaranda. Jivadeva was a poet patronised by Prataparudradeva who composed the Bhakti Bhagavata. Ramananda Raya wrote the Jagannatha Vallabha Natakam. Paramananda Sena ‘Kavikamapura’ who wrote a Kavya entitled Chaitanya Charitamrita for the consolation of Prataparudradeva who was sticken with grief after the passing away of Sri Chaitanya. Besides, Sanskrit scholars like Markandeya, Ramakrishna Bhatta. Balabhadra Mishra and several others flourished in Odisha during his life time.
The Renaissance in Odia literature reached its zenith during the reign of Prataparudradeva. That age in Odia literature was famous as the ‘Age of Panchasakhas’. The five celebrities were Balarama Dasa, Jagannatha Dasa, Ananta Dasa, Achyutananda Dasa and Yosobanta Dasa who flourished during the reign of Prataparudradeva. They were famous fortheir immortal creations in Odia literature (discussed in the forthcoming pages). Chaitanya Dasa, Arjuna Dasa, Kanhai Khuntia and Madhaba Pattanayaka were other famous poets during this period. Besides patronising the poets and men of letters, Prataparudra was famous for his liberalism. He generously offered gifts to different deities related with Vaisnava, Saiva and other cults. This shows his religious catholicity. He was a lover of peace and his administration was marked with tranquility prevalent throughout his empire. No doubt, Prataparudradeva paved the way for the decline of medieval Odisha, but his reign period was maked with a tremendous growth of both Sanskrit and Odia literature and progress of Vaisnavism in Odisha.