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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The saga of victorious kings of Ancient Kashmir -Part 4.

The Karkota dynasty (CE 625 – CE 855) that ruled over Kashmir valley and some Northern parts of Bharatiya subcontinent for almost 230 years, initiated the period of political expansion and economic prosperity which created an emergence of Kashmir as a Center of Bharatiya culture.

The Karkota rulers followed Vaishnavism and built several Vishnu shrines but were extremely large-hearted towards other religious beliefs and allowed Buddhism to flourish under their reign. A number of Stupa, Chaityas, and Vihars can be found in the ruins in Kashmir. King Durlabhvardhan, the first ruler of the dynasty, had married Narendraprabha and they had three sons, Chandrapida-also known as Vajraditya (1), Tarapida-also known as Udayaditya and Lalitaditya-also known as Muktapida.

After Emperor Lalitaditya‘s death, his son Kuvalyapida and his first queen Kamaladevi ruled for a short span of one year and a half, and during the entire period, they fought a succession struggle with his half brother. Kuvalyapida was considered a virtuous ruler but after being a subject to disloyalty by his minister, he realized the imprudence of material gains, renounced as the emperor, and retreated to a holy forest where he attained Siddhi.

Vajraditya-2 was the second son of Lalitaditya through Queen Chakramardika. During his rule, the Governor of Sindh raided his kingdom and successfully started the slave trade.

As noted by historian Kalhan, his Seven years rule was full of cruelty. He had four wives Meghavali, Amratprabha, Manjarika, Mamma, and numerous concubines. He had four sons, Tribhuvanpida (from Meghavali), Jayapida (from Antarprabha), Prithivyapida-1 (from Manjarika), and Samgrampida (from Mamma).

There was enormous animosity among brothers and according to Kalhan, the rule of Prithivyapida, lasted for a span of four years and one month. He was overthrown by Samgramapida-1, who ruled for seven days. Tribhuvanapida abdicated the throne despite being the eldest. Later, Jayapida a.k.a. Vinayaditya came to power and he ruled Kashmir for 31 years. (751 CE – 782 CE) He too, like his grandfather Emperor Lalitaditya Muktapida, was considered an expert on Military movements. He partook in multiple conquests to faraway territories. He conquered and annexed Prayag to his kingdom and then marched towards Bengal.

Jayapida married Kalyandevi, the daughter of King Jayant of Cooch Bihar in Bengal province. King Jayant too, helped Jayapida immensely in his Military movements.

While returning from Bengal, he was halted at present-day Kanauj (Kanyakubja) by King Vajrayuddha. After defeating him Jayapida marched towards his home state. On reaching Kashmir he took stern action against his brother-in-law Jajja, who had usurped the throne in Jayapida‘s absence. Jajja was defeated by Jayapida.

An obstinate battle was fought for several days at the village of Pushkaletra. His Queen Kalyandevi founded a city named Kalyanpura on the field of her husband’s victory. The king founded a city named Mahlanapur.

Jayapida attacked Nepal, too but he met with a defeat there and was captured and kept under arrest in a massive fort along with his trusted colleague Devvarman. Eventually, Jayapida was successful in running away from the prison. Devvarman’s precise planning of fleeing from the jail helped Jayapida to get out of the fort but he had to swim through the river. This arduous task was accomplished with unparalleled dedication by his trustworthy man Devsharmma’s exceptional sacrifice. Devsharmma chose to commit suicide to help Jayapida, use his body to cross the river!!!

The king had the inborn urge to expand his kingdom and conquer new regions. He set out on conquest once again with a massive army. It is believed that the army stretched from the Himalayan Hills to the Eastern Hills. During the nights, the Chandals kept a watch over the army.

Once, the King, disguised as a hermit, entered the fort of Bhimsena, King of East. He was, however, recognized by Siddha, the brother of Jajja. Siddha informed Bhimsena, who captured the king. Jayapida did not panic but chart out a way to escape.

At this juncture, a contagious and fatal disease caused by Spiders broke out among the people of Bhimasena. The people affected by it were deserted by their fellows. Jayapida learned this and called his men secretly to bring something that increased bile and after consuming it, had an attack of fever. After applying the juice of Vajra (a species of Euphorbia) he developed an eruption on his body.

The guards informed Bhimsena who believed the symptoms to be of the prevailing diseases. King Bhimsena, apprehending danger therefrom, released Jayapida. Eventually, Jayapida captured the Fort.

The king, along with his mastery in Warfare was savant himself. He introduced the Sciences that were long forgotten in the country. He invited learned men from far and wide and employed them in collecting the fragments of Patanjali’s commentary on the annotations of Katyayan, on Panini’s grammatical aphorisms. The king himself used to take lessons from Kashira, a professor of Grammar.

In his reign, the title of Pandit was far more valued than that of the King. The king once ordered one of his messengers to get five Rakshasas from Ceylon (Shrilanka). Vibhishana, the king of Ceylon, obliged and sent five Rakshasas along with the messenger. King Jayapida, with the help of Rakshasas, built a fort named Jayapura, which was blessed with picturesque beauty.

The king set three large images of Buddha, a Monastery and an image of Goddess Jayadevi in that town. He also set up images of Ram and his brothers, and of Vishnu reposing on a snake.

Once the king dreamt that Lord Vishnu asked him to build a city like Dwaravati surrounded by water. He built a town called Abhyantarajaypura.

During the period of his rule, he initially followed the path of his grandfather Emperor Lalitaditya and encouraged Art, Literature, and Scientific innovations. He invited and gave shelter to various scholars from across the globe.

Renowned Shaivism academician Vasugupta worked very actively during King Jayapida’s times. Chinese traveler Au-Kong lived in Kashmir for four years to study Buddhism and Sanskrit.

The coins of his era are found, depicting Hindu deity Lakshmi on one side and “Shri Vinaya” and “Ditya “ carved in Brahmi on the other side.

Later, regrettably the King left the path of his grandfather (Emperor Lalitaditya Muktapida) and adopted the path of his father (Vajraditya-2). During his years, the people belonging to the Kayastha caste began becoming stronger with the help of their wealth and calculative business sense. The Kayastha advised the king that it was futile to undergo the fatigue of foreign conquest and instead he should concentrate on accumulating wealth from his own country!!!

King Jayapida succumbed to their forceful advice and began the oppression of his own subjects. He even began spending revenues of Kashmir accordingly for his pleasure. He murdered many people except those who indulged in flattering him. For the next three years, he plundered with cruelty. The Brahmins who had acted patiently till then began opposing King for his sinful conduct. Some of them fled from the state and some were killed by the king.

At last, the Brahmins gathered together and stood against King Jayapida and the same Pandits wrote poetry of his wrongdoings. Once, a group of Brahmins came over to have a word with the king, they were stopped and prevented from meeting him by the doorkeeper. The Brahmins were furious and said, ” Brahmins were never insulted before, even in the presence of Manu, Mandhata, Rama, and other great kings.” The anger of Brahmins resulted in a pitiable end for King Jayapida. The king and his kingdom, which was marching on the path of enlightening the past glory, met with a dreadful and untimely death.

Sources of Reference:

हमारी भूलोका स्मारक – धर्मांतरित कश्मीर: नरेन्द्र सहगल

राजतरंगिनी : कल्हान

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