Who were the Rashtrakutas? Trace their political history from the reign of Santidurga to Amoghavarsha.

The Rashtrakutas established their momentary monastery over the Deccan on the ruins of the Chalukya empire. It is said that they were indigenous people of the country, claiming descent from the sacred Yadava family of epic fame. Some scholars like to connect the Rashtrakutas with the Telugu Reddis. It is held by some other scholars that the Rashtrakutas belonged to a race of Kshatriyas who gave their name to the country of Maharashtra. There is a fourth theory according to which the Rashtrakutas were agriculturists of the Andhra country. However, the Rashtrakutas lived in various parts of the Deccan in the 5th century AD. In the 8th century AD, the Rashtrakuta dynasty came under Dantidurga. He established independent Rashtrakuta rule in the Deccan.

Dantidurga: The Rashtrakutas of Maniyakha began their career of greatness under Dantidurga. The records of his reign state that he fought on the banks of the Mahi, Mahanandi, and Reva rivers, won victory over Kanchi, Kalinga, Kosala, Shri-saila, etc. He reached supreme authority from the Chalukyas. He is said to have conquered vast areas.

Krishna I: The flag of Rashtrakuta ascendency was kept flying by Krishna I. He extinguished the lingering power of the Chalukyas in 1768 AD. He assumed the title of “Subhatunga” (high in prosperity) and Akalavana (consent reign). Krishna I became the unrivaled monarch of the Deccan by defeating the Ganges of Mysore and the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi. He extended his sway up to Southam Konkana. The Bhandakat Plate informs us that Krishna ruled over the whole of Central India. A part of Vengi and Central India acknowledged his supremacy.
Govinda II: Krishna I was succeeded by his eldest son, Govinda II. He took up the title of “Provuta Varsha Vikramavaluka.” It is said that he inflicted a crushing defeat on the Chalukya king of Vengi. However, after ascending the throne, he became a worthless person. He started indulging in a life of pleasure and divine revelry. His younger brother, Dhruva, took up arms against him and successfully defeated Govinda.

Dhruva (780-793 AD): With the accession of Dhruva, a new epoch began in the history of the Rashtrakutas. Dhruva assumed several high-sounding titles like Nirupama, Kali-Vallavi, and Dhara-varsa, among others. He established himself as the lord paramount of the Deccan and made a bid for mastery over northern India. He defeated the Ganga king, Shri Purusa-Mattrasa, and imprisoned his son, Sivamara. Dhruva annexed the whole kingdom of Gangavadi (Mysore) and captured Telangana from Vishnuvardana II, the king of Vengi.

Dhruva now turned his gaze to the north, which had become a scene of struggle between two premier northern rulers: Vatsaraja Pratihara of Rajputana and Dharmapala of Bengal. Dhruva made a triumphal march in the north and defeated Vatsaraja Pratihara, who fled to the deserts of Rajputana. According to Dr. N.K. Shasrti, Dhruva attacked Vatsaraja due to his support for Govinda II against him during the Civil War. Dhruva marched to the Ganga-Yamuna doab and defeated the great Pala king, Dharmapalas. He took on different titles such as “Dhruva Nirupama,” “Dhavavarsa,” and “Sri Vallabha.”

Govinda III (793-814): Dhruva was succeeded by Govinda III in 793 AD, and he continued to rule until 814 AD. He faced a lot of trouble at the beginning of his reign. Stambha, the governor of Gangavadi and the elder brother of Govinda III, challenged his succession to the throne. The cause of Stambha was taken up by a number of feudatories and neighbors.

However, Govinda III was able to put down the revolt of Stambha. The dream of imperial supremacy in the North haunted the vision of Govinda III. The main antagonists of Govinda in the North were Nagabhatta Pratihara and Dharmapalas. Govinda routed Nagabhatta in a pitched battle in the Bundelkhand region. Dharmapala and his vassal, Chakrayuddha of Kanauj, submitted to him without resistance and joined his camp. It is said that Govinda III defeated many other kings of Northern India and reinstated them again as his vassals. He marched up to the Himalayas and became the suzerain of Northern India in the south around 800 in order to suppress revolt against him.

The Sangam Plate states that Govinda also humbled the pride of the King of Kalinga, Dahala, Odraka, and Vengi. While Govinda was busy in the north, the Eastern Chalukya king Vijayaditya of Vengi revolted against him. Govinda quickly fell upon him and replaced him on the throne of Vengi with his half-brother, Bhima. The Sanjana plate states that Govinda III marched southward to the south of Tungabhadra against the Dravidas, Keralas, Pandyas, and Cholas. His Dravida rival was the Pallava king Dautiga of Kanchi. The plates also state that a king of Ceylon or Lanka, terrified at the might of Govinda, offered him submission and agreed to be his vassal.

Amoghavarsha (814-877): Govinda III died in 814, leaving behind a minor son named Amoghavarsha as his successor. The reign of Amoghavarsha was set with trouble as the feudal chiefs revolted against him during his minority. In the wake of disruption, the Eastern Chalukya King Vijayaditya of Vengi took revenge for past defeat by overthrowing Amoghavarsha from his ancestral throne. The Sanjam plate states that Vijayaditya II of Vengi joined forces with the Ganga ruler to overthrow him. However, with the help of Karka, the regent, Amoghavarsha slowly and strongly recovered his fortune by defeating Vijayaditya in 813 AD.
Thereafter, the Rashtrakuta army occupied Vengi for 12 years. Dr. N.K. Shasrti suggests that the term “twelve years” may be a rhetorical expression, indicating the occupation of Vengi by Bhima-Saluki, the rival of Vijayaditya. Bhima-Saluki inflicted a crushing defeat on his Chalukya adversary in the Battle of Veingattvalli. He had to employ various strategies to suppress rivalries within his territories. Amoghavarsha had to cross swords repeatedly with the Ganga king of Ganga Vadi, Gujarat, and other North Indian kings.

Amoghavarsha reigned for a long period of 65 years. After him, the Rashtrakuta dynasty ruled for one more era, but they grew weaker. Krishna II, Indra III, and Krishna III were relatively strong rulers of the Rashtrakuta dynasty. In 973 AD, Chalukya Taila, a feudatory of the Rashtrakutas during the reign of Bijapur, defeated the Rashtrakuta King Karka in a pitched battle. This victory belonged to the later Chalukya lineage.

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