Pala Empire & Kaivarta Revolt

pala empire Dharmapala Kaivarta revolt vikramshila university founded by

  • The Pala Empire was an imperial power during the Late Classical period on the Indian subcontinent, which originated in the region of Bengal.
  • It is named after its ruling dynasty, whose rulers bore names ending with the suffix of Pala (“protector” in Sanskrit).
  • They were followers of the Mahayana and Tantric schools of Buddhism.
  • The empire was founded with the election of Gopala as the emperor of Gauda in 750 CE.
  • The Pala dynasty stronghold was located in Bengal and Bihar, which included the major cities of Vikrampura, Pataliputra, Gauda, Monghyr, Somapura, Ramvati (Varendra), Tamralipta and Jaggadala.

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Rulers of Pala Empire

Gopala (750 – 770)

  • Gopala was the first Pala king and founder of the dynasty.
  • According to the Khalimpur copper plate inscription, Gopala was son of Vapyata, was probably a military officer in the Gaud Kingdom.
  • Gopala was elected by a group of people.
  • At the time of his death, Pala kingdom included Bengal and most of Bihar.
  • He built the monastery at Odantapuri, Bihar.
  • Gopala is considered as the 1st Buddhist king of Bengal.

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Dharmapala (770 – 810)

  • Son and successor of Gopala.
  • Dharmapala founded the Vikramshila University at Bhagalpur, Bihar.
  • He founded Somapura Mahavihara, Bangladesh
  • Dharmapala had frequent wars with the Pratiharas and the Rashtrakutas.
  • The Palas became the most powerful kingdom in northern and eastern India during his rule.
  • Haribhadra, buddhist author was at the court of Dharmapala.

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Devapala (810 – 850)

  • Son of Dharmapala and Rannadevi, a Rashtrakuta princess.
  • Extended the kingdom to Assam, Odisha and Kamarupa.
  • Was a staunch Buddhist and built many monasteries and temples in Magadha.
  • Buddhist poet Vajradatta who composed Lokesvarashataka, was in Devapala’s court.
  • Defeated the Rashtrakuta ruler Amoghavarsha.

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Mahipala I

  • Recovered northern and eastern Bengal.
  • He appointed Atish Dipankar as the chancellor of the Vikramshila

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Ramapala (1077-1120)

  • The last strong Pala king.
  • He founded Jagaddala Mahavihara, Bangladesh
  • The kingdom disintegrated during his son Kumarapala’s reign.
  • Sandhyakar Nandi wrote the epic poem Ramacharitam

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Madanapala (1144 – 62)

  • The last Pala king.
  • After him, the Sena dynasty replaced the Palas.

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Legacy of the Pala Dynasty

  • The Pala period is also known as a ‘Golden Erain Bengali history.
  • They also patronised Buddhist centres of learning like Nalanda University and the Vikramshila University.
  • The first Bengali literary work Charyapada is attributed to this period.
  • Balaputradeva, the Sailendra king of Java sent an ambassador to Devapala.
  • Many Buddhist teachers from the Pala kingdom travelled to Southeast Asia to spread the faith.
  • Atisha preached in Sumatra and Tibet.
  • Sanskrit scholars were also patronised by the Pala kings.
  • Gaudapada composed Agama Shastra during the time of the Palas.

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Pala Empire Accounts

  • Ramacharita, a Sanskrit work by Abhinanda (9th century)
  • Ramacharitam, a Sanskrit epic by Sandhyakar Nandi (12th century)
  • Subhasita Ratnakosa, a Sanskrit compilation by Vidyakara (towards the end of the Pala rule)
  • Silsiltut-Tauarikh by the Arab merchant Suleiman (951 CE), who referred to the Pala kingdom as Ruhmi or Rahma

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Kaivarta Revolt

  • The Varendra rebellion also known as the Kaivarta revolt.
  • The revolt was against King Mahipala II led by Divya.
  • It is known as not only the 1st successful rebellion of Bengal but also of Indian Subcontinent.
  • The Kaivarta were able to capture Varendra by this rebellion.
  • It is said that the rebellion took place from 1075 to 1082 in the reign of Mahipala II and Rampala II.
  • In 1082, King Rampala was succeeded to recapture his fatherland Varendra by defeating Vim with the assistance of neighbouring vassals.
  • Thus, the first revolt of rebellious Kaibarta came to an end.
  • The Kaivartas were mainly aboriginal fishermen tribal communities.
  • They earned their livelihood by fishing from their ancestor.
  • But as the Pala emperors were non-violent in their religious beliefs, they were against of eating fish and meat.
  • So, they always tried to discourage Kaivartas from catching fishes.
  • As a result, the Kaivartas were abused by the Pala emperors.
  • Besides, King Mahipala II arrested his two brothers Shurapala II and Rampala II in the time of ascending the throne.
  • As a result, some vassals of the two arrested brothers also took part in the rebellion
  • Pala employee Divya called for revolution.
  • The Kaivartas responded on his call and the rebels were easily able to capture the Varendra.
  • As the Kaivartas were very expert in boating, they capitalized on naval war.
  • Mahipala II was killed by the rebels and the Pala armies were forced to fall back.
  • As a result, Varendra was declared a separate state by Divya.
  • After the death of Divya, first Divya’s brother Ruddoka and then Ruddoka’s son Vima were declared king of Varendra.
  • Vima established himself as a successful and expert ruler.
  • He made the war-torn Varendra prosper.
  • The Kaivarta pillar is still standing in Dinajpur of Bangladesh as a sign of the dynasty.

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