Who were the important rulers of the Gangas dynasty?

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The Gangas kingdom was bounded by Marandale in the North, the Kongu country in South, Tondaimandala in the East and sea in the West. The Gangas ruled from second century A.D. to eleventh century A.D.

1. Sources

The history of the Gangas can be built upon the basis of the rock and copper inscriptions that abound in all parts of the Mysore, some portion of Coorg, Western and Northern Arcot, Tanjore and from the extreme South of Karnataka to Belgaum in the North.

“Gangavadi” or the Ganga Empire consisted 960 villages. The capital of the “Gangvadi” was ‘Kuvalalapura’ or modem Kolar. Later in third century A.D. the capital was shifted to Talakad or Talavanapura, which is situated in the South-East of Mysore on the Cauvery or Kaveri.

2. Origin

The origin of the Gangas is uncertain, Ptolemy’s “Geography” tells us that they ruled the country North of the river Ganga and name of their capital was Ganga. According to Pliny, they were identifiable with “Gangaridae Kalingae” or the “Gangas of Kalinga”.

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But there is no sufficient evidence to sustain this identification. As a matter of fact, we find that both the Gangas of Talakad and the Gangas of Kalinga claim their origin from the river Ganga.

From the inscriptions of the Gangas it appears that dynasty came into existence in the third century A.D. The inscriptions found in Naga and Shimoga, which belong to eleventh and twelfth century A.D., suggest that the Gangas were descendants of Ikshavaku clan of the Surya dynasty. Dhananjya of Ikshavaku clan killed the king of Kanauj.

His wife Gandharidevi gave birth to a son, Harischandra in Ayodhya. The Nar and Shimoga inscriptions tell us that Dadiga and Madhava were the two sons of Harischandra the latter became the founder of the Ganga line of Talakad.

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These inscriptions narrate that Rohini devi, the wife of Harischandra had one son Bharata. While Bharata’s wife, Vijayamahadevi bathed in the sacred river Ganga during her conception. Consequently, her son came to be known as Gangadatta (means a gift from the Ganga). The dynasty thus came to be known as the Gangas.

3. The Rulers

(I) Madhava-1

Madhava-I, the first of this line was known as “Kongunivarma”, which is a title, assumed after his conquest over Konkan. B.L. Rice relying on “Inscription 10 of Nanjanaguda” thinks that he lived in 103 A.D.

From this inscription we learn that “Kongunivarma Dharmamahdhiraja “, “Prathama Gangasya” or the first Ganga, made a grant to a “brahmana”, Govinda Bhatta in “Saka” 25th which corresponds to 103 A.D. Madhava-I after his sanctification defeated the Banas whose Western boundary was the river Palar.

(II) Madhava-II

Madhava-II was the successor of Madhava- I, who is also known as Kiriya Madhava. He was an active soldier who put down his enemies by his physical valour. He believed in the welfare of his subjects. He was a great poet who sought the association of learned men in various sciences to enrich his own knowledge. He was skilled in politics and “Upanishads”. He shifted the capital from Kolar to Talakad.

(III) Vishnugopa

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Madhava-II was succeeded by the Vishnugopa. He was the worshipper of Lord Vishnu. No other detail is known about his reign.

(IV) Madhava-III

Vishnugopa was succeeded by Tadangala Madhava who is also known as Madhava -HI. He ruled towards the end of 500 A.D. He married to a Kadamba princess, the sister of Krishna Varman’s the Kadamba king.

His installation to the thrown and marriage to a Kadamba princess by the Pallava king Skandavarman shows that the Pallavas exercised influence over the Gangas. He was tolerant to all the religions.

(V) Avinita

Madhava-DI was succeeded by Avinita who reigned for fifty years. In his inscription he is described as “Konganivarma”, Kongani and Kongani Avinita. He was the patron of the Hindu and Jaina temples.

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The ‘Sringeri plates’ described him as “the abode of heroism and in excelling Indra” and as unrivalled in managing elephants, riding horses and wielding the bow, as even ready to protect his subject and as in short, a Yudhistira of his age”.

He was brought up as a Jaina and the learned Jaina teacher Vijayakirti was his preceptor according to “Inscription Malur 72”. He was also a worshipper of “Shiva” as mentioned in “Dodda ballapura Inscription 67” which also mentions him as ‘Haracharanaravinda Pranipata’.

(VI) Durvinita

Durvinita was the eldest son of Avinita. It appears that Durvinita had to get the throne by defeating his step brother along with his father and the Pallavas, with the active help of the Chalukya king Vijayaditya by giving his eldest daughter in marriage.

This matrimonial alliance stood him in good stead in crushing the opponents. He ruled from 495-535 A.D. He issued seven grants in his third, fourth, twentieth, thirty fifth and fortieth reigning years i.e. 498. A.D. c. 499 A.D. c. 515 A.D., c. 530 A.D. and c. 535 A.D. He was a great warrior who fought many battles.

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He conquered the areas of Anderi, Alattur and Porulare Pemagara. He also won over the Pallavas and Kadambas of Banavasi. He installed his grandson Jayasimhavallabha on the Badarni throne when the Pallavas were trying to capture the Chalukya dominions.

He was not only a great conqueror and able administrator but also a great scholar and patron of learned men. The great Jaina grammarian Pyjyapada was his mentor. The “Gummareddipuram plates “, tells us that he was the writer of the commentary on the fifteenth “Sarga” of the “Kiratarjunia”, the famous Sanskrit poem of Bharavi.

(IX) Bhuvekrama

Srivikrama was succeeded by his son Bhuvikrama. According to the “Kulagana Inscription”, Bhuvikrama was a skilful rider, beautiful in body and pleasing to the eyes and hearts of beautiful women.”

He was also a great warrior. He defeated Pallava King Simhapotavarman in an encounter at Vilande and after capturing the whole of the Pallava dominion, he assumed the title of “Bhuvikrama”. He ruled up to 670A.D.

(X) Shivamara

Bhuvikrama was succeeded by his brother Shivamara in the line of the gas. Towards the close of his reign (probably c. 725-726 A.D.) his kingdom was invaded by the Rashtrakutas of Mulched, the Kadambas of Banavasi and the Pallavas of Kanchi. But he was able to repel these foreign invasions.

(XI) Sripurusa

Shivamara was succeeded by his grandson Sripura in c. 726 A.D. He was another great ruler of the Ganga dynasty. In his reign the Gangas attained the height of prosperity which they had never reached before this. He ruled from c. 726 to 789 A.D., approximately for sixty three years.

He had to meet a host of enemies-the Rattas, the Rashtrakutas and the Pallavas. The Chalukyas were also wandering on the boundaries of the Gangas. In a dispute over the Kongu Country he had to fight against the Pallava Nandivarman.

In this way he was a great warrior. The described him as “the undisputed ruler of the whole earth, in whose battles the goddess of victory was bathed in the blood of the elephants as cut under with his sharp sword.” In this reign, Ganga Kingdom came to be called the “Sri-Rajya”.

(XII) Shivamara-II

Sripurusa was succeeded by Shivamara-II but his claim to throne was challenged by his younger brother Duggamara. Shivamara-II suppressed him with the help of the Nolamba King Signapota, who was the vassal king of Shivamara.

The Rashtrakutas king Govinda-II defeated Gangas and took Shivamara- II as prisoner. As a result the Ganga kingdom became a feudatory of the Rashtrakutas. A Rashtrakuta prince was appointed to act as governor of the Ganga kingdom. Shivamara in an effort to get back his lost throne was again defeated by Govinda-III.

(XIII) Later Rulers

After the death of Shivamara-II, the Ganga kingdom was divided between his son Narasimha-I and his brother Vijyaditya. Narsimha was succeeded by his younger brother Prithivipathi-I and then Narasimha’s son Prithvipathi-II.

After him there was a chain of Kings, who had very insignificant reign till Rajamall-IV who succeeded in 997 A.D. He is described in his inscription as “Satyavakya- Kongunivarma-Dharma-Maharajadhiraja” and he enjoyed political control over a vast territory.

After him a civil war broke out in the Ganga Kingdom which was suppressed by Taila or Ahavamalla, the founder of the Kalyani Chalukya line and Chavundaraya, the famous minister and general of Rajamall-IV.

‘Chavundaraya’ successfully led the Ganga armies against the Nolmaba Pallavas and annexed the tract of Uchchangi from Pandyas and assumed the title of “Viramartanda”. He was not only military general but also a great scholar.

He composed the “Chavundaraya Purana” which deals with the twenty four “thirthankaras”. He founded several Jaina shrines at ‘Sravanabelagola’ and built a huge statue of Ghommatesvara.

After Rajamalla-IV, his brother Rakkasa Ganga came to the throne in about 985 A.D. and ruled up to 1024 A.D. In 1004 A.D. Rajendrachola (of Tanjore) captured the Talakad. In this way the Gangas withered away from the pages of history

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