Father and Son duo, Kings Shankarvarman and Gopalvarman…
Currently, We are witnessing terrorised Kabul and Afghanistan by the Taliban, which once used to be under the regime of Kashmir. Yes, to our present generation, this may appear as a mythical saga but it was undoubtedly the reality.
Upon the death of King Avantivarman, members of the family of Utpala, aspiring to the throne had a bitter quarrel among themselves. Ratnavardhana, the royal guard, raised Shankarvarman, son of the late King, where as the minister Karnapacinnipa raised Sukhavarma, the son of Suravamma, as the heir. This resulted in disturbance in the kingdom. But at last, after much infight, Shankarvarman prevailed. He defeated all others and acquired notable fame.
Having beaten and subjugated his own relatives, he made preparations for foreign conquests. He then concentrated on revamping the Military movements which his great grandfather had led and brought innumerable regions under his reign. King Shankarvarman marched, defeating those small kingdoms which had begun conducting themselves as independent after Emperor Lalitaditya era. He set out with a nine hundred thousand army on foot, three hundred elephants and one thousand horses. The forces of tributary kings joined his army. The impact of such a massive army created terror in the minds of smaller kingdoms in vicinity.
The king of Dravibhisara fled in trepidation and there was no battle fought. The king then marched to the lands of Gurjjars. Prithvichandra, the king of Trigata hid himself but his son Bhuvanachandra, who was bestowed upon with a lot of wealth by the Kashmiri king came to pay homage. When he got a glimpse of the colossal army of King Shankarvarman, he fled in fright of being captured.
The historians describe king Shankarvarman as handsome and attractive in appearance, but other kings feared him as if he was a monster. King Shnkarvarman comfortably defeated Alkhana, king of Gurjjars and Takka. The king of the Thakkiya took service as guard under the king Shankarvarman and the Kashmiri king helped him restore his kingdom which had been usurped by the king of Bhoja.
The king of the region that lay between Darat and Turushka (as the Aryavarta lies between Himalayas and Vindhya) was a king named Lalliya Shahi. He did not submit to the king of Kashmir, hence he was driven out of his state.
Shankarvarman marched to defeat the small kingdoms which had begun conducting as an independent state after Emperor Lalitaditya. Kabul was ruled by Hindu King Lalaiya. His subjects did not stand in support of the king and hence, Shankarvarman could win over Kabul and bring it under the rule of Kashmir.
During his regime, Kashmir achieved remarkable progress in its military ventures as well as economic growth.
It’s significant to note that the king Lalitaditya strengthened Kashmir’s army and Avantivarman achieved colossal economic progress but during Shankarvarman‘s regime Kashmir achieved both armed solidity as well as economic soundness.
After the victory over Kabul the king Shankarvarman built a town named after him in the province of Panchasatra. He set up two images of Shiva, Shankargaurisha and Sugandhesha, the former named after himself and the latter after his Queen Sugandhi, daughter of Shrinvami, king of Udakpatha.
Shankarvarman established direct connection with the people of his kingdom. Though the official language of the state was Sanskrit, he began communicating with the citizens in Kashmiri language. It did enrage the Sanskrit scholars but he became popular and dear to the common Kashmiris.
King Shankarvarman’s suzerainty over Kabul facilitated a number of outstanding personalities to come over to Kabul and Kashmir, both were predominantly Hindu regions but it was a difficult task to subjugate supremacy over Kabul (Gandhar). The very powerful Hindu kings and the people of Gandhar had warred with Arabs for almost 400 plus years (663 to 1021 CE) and successfully protected their Western border.
It is ironic that the king, who was once exceptionally compassionate towards the growth and glory of his subjects and kingdom, began turning evil-minded and avaricious. He turned oppressive and in order to cover heavy expenses of his luxurious lifestyle.
At last, after consulting his vicious advisors, he plundered the temples. He raised funds from towns and villages and created two offices, named Attapatibhaga and Grihakritya. These two offices appeared to be utilised for extortion purposes. He manipulated money from temple funds kept in reserve for purchase of incense oil, Sandalwood and Perfumes. He took away the lease of villages in proximity to the temples and appropriated all the income without giving back the revenue to the temple.
If any administrative officer was found to be absent he was made to pay the fine equivalent of one year’s pay. He impoverished people by imposing undue heavy taxes. He established five camps and a sixth named Lavata, the principal treasury, in spots where various industries were located to collect extremely heavy duties and taxes.
When the subjects were severely oppressed, the king’s son Gopalvarman expressed compassion and objected to his father’s evil practices.
King Shankarvarman built a town named Pattana and made his minister Sukharaja’s nephew (sister’s son) lord of Dvara. But, nephew lost his life at Biranka. This incensed the king. He destroyed Biranaka and entered Uttarapatha. He conquered many kingdoms on the banks of the Indus. He only returned back when the frightened people of those regions surrendered.
While entering Urasha with the inhabitants of the region, an arrow of a hunter came from the top of a hill and accidentally pierced his throat. He understood his end was near but he did not wish the morale of his army to diminish and hence, ordered his trustworthy officials to lead the army back to Kashmir.
He was being carried on a Karniratha when his eyesight became dim. He recognised his weeping queen Sugandha by her voice and entrusted the care of his son, Gopalvarman to her. He expired when the arrow was extracted from his wound, on the way to Kashmir, on the Saptami of dark fortnight of the moon in the month of Falgun in the year 77 of the Kashmirian era.
Sukhraja and others safely conducted the army through the hostile countries concealing the truth of King Shankarvarman’s death. After Six days, the army reached a destination within Kashmiri territory named Vallasaka, where they performed the last rites of the dead king. Surendravati and two other queens decided to accompany the king to heavenly abode along with officials Valavitu and Jayasingh and two servants Lida and Vajrasara.
After King Shankarvarman’s demise, the virtuous and truthful Gopalvarman began his rule under the guidance of his mother Sugandha. King Gopalvarman’s diplomatic policies acknowledged the valiant and self respecting mindset of people of Kabul. Kabul (Gandhar) was on the path to succumbing to revolt and the entire administrative system was on the verge of collapsing. King Gopalvarman sent one of his efficient officers Prabhakardev to take charge of Kabul.
Prabhakardev began dialogue with Kabul’s king Lalliya and in accordance with the talks between them, Tromanna, the son of Lalliya was crowned as King of Kabul with the blessings of Prabhakardev. History remembers Tromanna as King Kamluk.
Justice Jiyalal notes in “History of Kashmiri Pandit” – “ Kashmir’s nearest Hindu state was Kabul. Both shared religious connectivity as well as political relations which prevailed strongly for centuries.
Al-Baruni, the Arabic scholar and historian, who travelled to Bharat along with Mohammed of Gazani, has brilliantly portrayed the social, political and economic conditions of Bharat. Al-Baruni notes : “ Kabul was ruled by a Hindu king. King Lagutarmaan was the last Kshatriya king and his minister Kallar belonged to the Brahmin caste. Lagutarmaan indulged in malpractices and ignominious conduct. Hence, his minister Kallar imprisoned him taking charge of the royal throne.
Samand, Kamala, Bhim, Jaypal, Anandpara and Trojanpal (Trilochanpal) followed his legacy as Gandhar kings. During King Shankarvarman’s era, Kashmir and Kabul had matrimonial ties too.
Princess Didda, the granddaughter of Hindu King Bhimdev of Kabul married the King Kshemgupta of Kashmir. Kabul’s King Bhimdev came to stay in Kashmir for a few years and built a massive Vishnu temple, which stands today as Bhimkeshav temple near Mutton in a village called Bumju. Currently it is called Muslim “Jiyarat “ and its name has been changed to ‘Bumdinsaheb’.
Sources of Reference:
हमारी भूलो का स्मारक : धर्मांतरित कश्मीर
राजतरंगिनी : कल्हान