New Kings and Kingdoms
New Dynasties : Chapter Summary
After the 17th century, many new dynasties emerged in the Indian sub-continent like the Gurjara-Pratiharas, Rashtrakutas, Palas, Cholas and Chahamanas (Chauhans). The Samantas were big landlords or warrior chiefs and were expected to bring gifts for their kings, be present at the courts and provide them with military support.
As the Samantas gained power they declared independence from their overlords. In the mid-8th century, Rashtrakuta chief, Dantidurga overthrew his overlord Chalukyas and performed a ritual called Hiranya-garbha, or the golden womb.
This event was significant as it set a precedent that a person need not be born as a Kshatriya to become a ruler. Mayurasharman and Harichandra, two Brahmins gave up their profession and established their dynasties Kadamba in Karnataka and Gurjara-Pratihara in Rajasthan, respectively.
Though the new rulers gave themselves power titles, but were dependent on their Samantas for money and army. They would give land grants, which were recorded on copper plates, and would ask people to collect taxes for the administration and for building temples and fight wars. In the hierarchy of land grants, along with secular officials, even the Brahmins who performed religious ceremonies and imparted education were the grantees.
Taxes were collected from all including the kings and the new landlords. Tax had to be paid for trading, creating artefacts, building homes and wells, and using roads. Tax was also collected in the form of manual labor or an artist’s artwork and kadamai, or land revenue. Kings often rewarded Brahmins with grants of not just land, but many more revenue earning facilities.
Historical information on these new dynasties is obtained from the inscriptions and Prashastis noted down on the order of these kings and their Samantas.
Increasing Wealth through Warfare : Chapter Summary
As new dynasties came up, each ruler tried to increase his wealth and power by taking over another’s region. For centuries, the Gurjara-Pratihara, Rashtrakuta and Pala dynasties waged wars, called the ‘tripartite struggle,' to control Kanauj’s wealth. Every new ruler built temples in his region to showcase his wealth. Thus, the temples being rich enough were the main targets in the battle for control.
Sultan Mahmud, the ruler of Ghazni in Afghanistan ruled from 997 to 1030 and attacked 17 times in India from 1000 to 1025 AD. He was the first foreign invader of India and plundered rich temples like Somnath in Gujarat to build his capital city, Ghazni. By 1030 AD, he had extended his reign to the north-western part of the Indian subcontinent.
He appointed a scholar named al-Biruni to write an account about the Indian subcontinent. Al-Biruni’s book called 'Kitab-al Hind, is considered to be an important source of Indian history.
Many kings were engaged in warfare like the Chahamanas, later known as Chauhans. In 1168, Prithviraja Chauhan the third of the Chahamana dynasty, at the age of 19, became the king of the north-western region bordering Punjab.
In 1191, Muhammad Ghori, the ruler of Ghor in Afghanistan, invaded India in an attempt to establish his reign. He was defeated in the first battle of Tarain by Prithviraja Chauhan. However when he attacked again, in the second battle of Tarain defeated and killed Prithviraja the very next year in 1192.
The Cholas : Chapter Summary
The Chola dynasty was in power from the latter half of the 9th century to the beginning of the 13th century. It was at its peak during the medieval period. Vijayalaya an ancient chiefly family of the Cholas captured the Kaveri delta from the Muttaraiyars. He built a temple devoted to goddess Nishumbhasudini at Thanjavur and made it his capital. Gradually, the kingdom grew in size with conquering the neighbouring regions of Pandyan and Pallava.
In 985, Rajaraja I came to power and expanded the empire even more. He defeated the Cheras to acquire the Malwar coast, Madurai and other territories in the south-east. Rajaraja I, and his son, Rajendra I, succeeded in making the Chola dynasty a military, economic and cultural power in Asia. Both of them together, continued to expand the kingdom by raiding the Ganga valley.
The bronze statues and temples of the Chola empire bear testimony to its art and architecture. The temples that time were built not only as places of worship, but also as centres of learning, and economic, social and cultural activity.
Agriculture was the main source of revenue. It was supported by well-developed irrigation facilities like wells, canals and water tanks. For large-scale agricultural production, people started clearing forests, and embankments were constructed to control floods.
Administration of the Chola Empire : Chapter Summary
The Chola Empire was divided into nine provinces, called “Mandalams” which was further divided into a number of districts, or zillas, known as “Valanadus”. Each Valanadu was divided into a number of villages, called Nadus. Larger towns were known as Taniyurs.
The Nadu shouldered administrative activities like collection of taxes, dispensing justice, settling disputes, keeping land records, etc. A Sabha had separate committees looking after functions like irrigation, gardens, temples, etc. Under the supervision of the Chola government, rich peasants of the Vellala caste controlled the affairs of the Nadus.
The Chola kings often gave land grants or Brahmadeya to Brahmins. An assembly or Sabha of prominent Brahmin landholders looked after each Brahmadeya, while associations of traders, known as Nagarams, looked after the administration in towns. The decisions taken by these Sabhas were recorded on the walls of the temples by way of inscriptions.
The Uttaramerur inscriptions, state the details and the basis on which a person could become a member of a Sabha. The Chola inscriptions mention several categories of land. Land was named according to the purpose for which it was donated by the Chola kings.