The early history of the Somavamsis

From the middle of the ninth century A.D. to the early twelfth century A.D., the Somavamsis, also known as Panduvamsis, ruled over Odisha. They initially ruled over a region known as Dakhina Kosal or South Kosala in the seventh and eighth centuries A.D. (corresponding to the Raipur and Bilaspur districts of Madhya Pradesh and the Sambalpur and Kalahandi districts of Odisha). Sirpur, a town in the Raipur district, was the capital of the south Kosala Somavamsis. This dynasty was founded by Udayana.

Tivaradeva, the line’s fourth king, was its most powerful monarch. He established his hegemony over all of Kosala. He expanded his territory westward to the Vindhyas. However, his efforts to bring Kangoda under his political sway in the east were unsuccessful. Tivaradeva reigned between 700 and 725 A.D. At the dawn of the ninth century A.D., Govindalll, the Rastrakuta king, invaded the Sornavamsi kingdom. For a time, the Somavamsis were subject to the Rastrakutas’ hegemony. After Govinda-death III’s in 814 A.D., the Somavamsis gained their independence from the Rastrakutas’ hegemony. However, they were soon threatened by another power, the Kalachuris of Ratnapur (a place in the Bilaspur district of Madhya Pradesh). By the middle of the ninth century A.D., the Somavamsis were expanding eastward, most likely in response to the Kalachuri threat. Balarjuna Sivagupta, the last known king of Somavamsis in south Kosal, died in 810 A.D. Following him, there is a more than half-century-long genealogical void. With the emergence of Janrnejaya-l in the final quarter of the ninth century A.D., a continuous genealogical line of the Sornavarnsis is established up to the beginning of the twelfth century A.D. Sivagupta is mentioned in the inscription of Janmejaya-I, the builder of the Somavamsi power in Odisha. Odisha’s Somavamsi rulers alternated between the titles Mahabhavaupta and Mahasivagupta. Apart from these facts, the same dynastic name strongly implies that Janmejaya-I was a descendant of the south Kosala Somavamsis.

Sources

There is no such written record of the Somavamsi rulers’ complete history and accomplishments. However, the following inscriptions provide us with some information. The Banda copper plates of Tivaradeva, the Adhavara copper plates of Mahanannararaja, and the Banda copper plates of Mahasivagupta; the Patna, Kalibhana, and other copper plates of Janrneiaya Cuttack, Nibinna, and Patna copper plates of Yayati I; the Kalanjar stone inscription, the Arang store inscription, the Sirpur stone inscription, and other inscription.

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