Sharabhapuriya, Panduvamshi Dynasties and their Overlords

When we were analysing, Who is trivaradeva?, We came across Sharabhapurias, In this post, We are looking at Sharabhapuriyas and Panduvamsis to analyse their dates and genealogy. We are looking whether they are feudatories of Guptas and Vakatakas. Let us first look who they are

Historians call the family Sharabhapuriyas, because the majority of the dynasty’s inscription were issued from the Sharabhapura. D. C. Sircar theorised that the dynasty was known as Amararyakula. 

Most of the dynasty's grants have been found in and around Malhar and Raipur, in Dakshin Kosala. These inscriptions were issued from Shrabhapura and Shripura. The identification of Sharabhapura is not certain, while Shripura  has been identified with modern Sirpur. Some scholars have identified Sharabhapura with places in present-day Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, but these places are located far away from the find spots of the inscriptions; it is more likely that Sharabhapura was located in or around the present-day Raipur district. KD Bajpai and SK Pandey identified Sharabhapura with Malhar, but A. M. Shastri points out that the excavations at Malhar reveal that the establishment of the town can be dated to c. 1000 BCE or earlier. Therefore, it cannot be identified as a city established by Sharabha who ruled nearly 1500 years later. Moreover, there is no evidence that Malhar was called Sharabhapura: its earliest known name is Mallala or Mallala-pattana. Hira Lal once theorised that the Sharabhapura was another name for Shripura, but this theory is now discredited. Sharabhapura appears to have been the original capital of the dynasty. A. M. Shastri theorises that Sudevaraja established Shripura and made the town his second capital. his successor Pravararaja moved the kingdom’s capital to Shripura.

Manamatra or Durgaraja

Sharabha is the earliest known king. He is known from two inscriptions of his son Narendra. The name suggests that he established the city of Sharabhapura (and probably the dynasty). 

Maharaja Narendra, the son of Sharabha, issued the earliest extant grant of the dynasty. Three grants made by him have been found.

Prasannamatra is the next, No inscriptions or grants by him are known. However we find a number  of coins with him name and also known from the seals of his son Jayaraja and grandson Sudevaraja.  His relationship with Narendra is not certain: he may have been Narendra's son or his descendant. Prasanna had two sons: Jayaraja and Manamatra (the successor of Jayaraja).

Jayaraja was a son of Prasnna.He was the first ruler of the dynasty to add the prefix Mahat to his name, a practice followed not only by his descendants but also by the kings of the later dynasties such as the Panduvanshis and the Somavanshis.

Manamatra alias Durgaraja
Manamatra was another son of Prasanna. He had two sons: Sudevaraja and Pravararaja 

Sudevaraja was a son of Manamatra. He seems to have established Shripura, where the earliest inscriptions were issued during his reign.

Pravararaja was another son of Manamatra.He appears to have moved the kingdom’s capital from Sharabhapura to Shripura.

No successors of Pravararaja are known with certainty. An inscription of one Vyaghraraja has been discovered at Malhar. This inscription was issued from a town called Prasanna-pura, and describes Vyaghraraja as the son of Pravara-bhattaraka. D. C. Sircar and some others theorised that Vyaghraraja was a Sharabhapuriya king. Prasannapura may have been named after his ancestor Prasanna. The inscription also mentions one Jaya-bhattaraka, who has been identified with Jayaraja. Ajaya Mitra Shastri has contested this theory on several grounds. Vyaghraraja's inscription features 'nail-headed' characters unlike the box-headed characters of the Sharabhapuriya inscriptions. Its seal, its textual style and its grant order are also different from those of the Sharabhapuriya inscriptions.

The Sharabhapuriyas were succeeded by the Panduvanshi (Pāṇduvaṃśī) dynasty.The Panduvanshi inscriptions follow the three-copper-plates style of the Sharabhapuriyas

Panduvamsis  of Mekala
Panduvamsis of Mekala preceded Sharabhapuriyas.


Panduvamsis of South Kosala
Panduvamsis of South Kosala succeeded Sharabhapuriyas.  

Indrabala (Sons Bhavadeva, Ishanadeva, Nanna I)
Nanna I(Sons Trivaradeva, Chandragupta)
Nanna II
Harshagupta (Sons Shivagupta, Ranakesarin)

Udayana was the first king of this dynasty. He was succeeded by Indrabala. Nanna I succeeded him and he in turn was succeeded by Mahasiva Tivaradeva. He was the most successful king of this dynasty. He extended his kingdom to Utkala, Kosala and other nearby states. He was succeeded by his son Mahanannaraja or Nanna II. His uncle, Chandragupta (of Later Guptas), succeeded him. His son, Harshagupta, was married to Vasata, the daughter of Maukhari king Suryavarman of Magadha. Harshagupta son from Vasata, Mahasivagupta alias Balarjuna, ascended the throne after Harshagupta. Mahasivagupta was a powerful king and enjoyed a very long rule and he was followed by Sivanandin.

points of Discussion

D. C. Sircar theorised that the dynasty was known as Amararyakula, based on inscription of Vyaghraraja. However, A. M. Shastri has opposed this theory, arguing that Vyaghraraja was not associated with the Sharabhapuriya dynasty.

Panduvanshi replace Sharabhapuriyas
In Dhamatari and Kauvatal grants, Sudevaraja mentions certain Indrabala raja as occupying the office of Sarvadhikaradhikrata or Chief Minister. Can Indrabalaraja be the same as Indrabala of Panduvamsis. This is looks very tempting as the Panduvamsis succeeded Sarbhapuriyas and they could have been employed by them and later they could have succeeded. However this theory falls flat as the Kharod inscription mentions Indrabala as reigning monarch. He also founded a city of Indrapura. However we can say that he was subordinate and later ruled as independent ruler.

Gupta and Mahendra
The Allahabad pillar inscription of the Gupta king Samudragupta states that he defeated one Mahendra, who was the ruler of Kosala. One theory identifies this Mahendra as a Sharabhapuriya ruler. However, there is no evidence in support of this theory.

Eran Inscription
A 510 CE Bhanugupta Eran inscription mentions one Sharabharaja as the maternal grandfather of one Goparaja, who died in a battle. Based on the identification of this Sharabharaja with the Sharabhapuriya king Sharabha, we can fix date of the king.

Gupta Overlords
The Kurud inscription of  Narendra records the renewal of a grant that was originally made by a Parama-bhattaraka ("Supreme Overlord") to a Brahmin. The original grant was recorded on palm leaves, which were destroyed in a house fire. A. M. Shastri identifies the Parama-bhattaraka with a Gupta emperor (the Gupta capital Pataliputra was located on the banks of the Ganga river). He theorises that Narendra's Sharabha began his career as a Gupta vassal.
But we have no evidence of Gupta monarchs in the inscription or elsewhere during that time. We do not know who this paramo-bhattaraka is. 

Vakataka overlords
In Bamhani grant, Surabala makes reference to Narendra, B.Ch.Chhabhra says that Narendra refers to Narendrasena of Vakataka dynasty. Narendrasena father refers to his extensive territories as Kosala, Mekala and Malava. So this is supposed to acknowledge the overlordship of Vakatakas. 

Suryagosha Dynasty
Small dynasty established by surya or Suryaghosha, ruled Chattishgarh in 350 AD to 375 AD form Capital Sripura. He was followed by five rulers, one of the rulers Bhimasena II acknowledged suzerainty of Guptas. Bhimasena II overthrown by Jayaraja of Sharbhapura dynasty


D. C. Sircar theorised that the dynasty was known as Amararyakula, based on the Malhar inscription of a ruler called Vyaghraraja. However, A. M. Shastri has opposed this theory, arguing that Vyaghraraja was not associated with the Sharabhapuriya dynasty.
There is a mention of Amrarayakula in Mallar and Bamhani Plates of Surabala of Panduvamsis from which princess Lokaprakasa was born. Lokaprakasa, queen of Bharatbala. is from south Kosala and we cannot put her in other dynasty during this period. So we can say Sharabhapuriyas are from Amararajakula or Amararayakula, both means same.

Bamhani and Mallar plates says Lokaprakasa was from Amaraja Kula. When we consider the Vyaghyaraja plates, it is clear that Sharabhapurias belong to Amararayakula.
Parama Bhattaraka and Gupta Overlords
In Sanskrit, there are two related words "Bhata" and "Bhatta" generally meaning a soldier and a scholar respectively. Occasionally they are used interchangeably. A "Bhattara" or a "Bhattaraka" is the chief of them. Thus a "Bhattaraka" is either a regional ruler (mandalika) or a regional chief of an order of monks (i.e. an Acharya). A “ parama- Bhattaraka" is then either a overlord sovereign, or the Chief of all Acharyas.  The Maitraka dynasty of Valabhi was founded by “Bhatarka, a General.

Dikshit  said that the Bhattarka mentioned here in Kurud inscription is Father of Narendra that is Sharabha. But Sircar point out that Father is missing in the inscription.  Later ruler from the same dynasty Jayaraja takes the title Jaya bhattaraka, so we do doubts supporting this.

Another scholar  has pointed out that Parama Bhattarka with Maharajadhiraja has been to refer to Guptas. And the references to Bathing in Ganga should mean it refers to Guptas of Pataliputra.  One has to see here that the Ruler omits name of the Parama Bhattarka- pada. Narendra does not include Gupta Era and does not take feudatory title like paramo bhattaraka padanudhayata Here.

Vyaghraraja inscription issued describes Vyaghraraja as the son of Pravara-bhattaraka. The inscription also mentions one Jaya-bhattaraka, who has been identified with Jayaraja. So can we say Bhattarka refers to some ancestor of Narendra.   

There is panduvamsis of Mekala also took titles Parama Maheswara, Parama Brahmanya and Parama guru devatadhidaivatavishesha. Panduvanshi of Kosala also refer themselves with parama Bhattaraka titles. We can say parama bhattaraka is title refers to one of Mekala Panduvamsis.

As far as Gupta Overlords are concerned there seems to be none, just the Indologists invention.

Surabala and vakataka Overlords
The Bamhani inscription says Narendra in the end of sentence. If Vakataka Narendrasena was the overlord, then there is no way they can addressed like that. On careful examination we see that the Narendra coming at the end of stanza refers to Surabala himself as king. As far as Vakataka overlords we see none. All the inscriptions are in nail-headed characters not Box Headed characters of Vakataka. So We can safely say there is no vakataka in Mekala at that time.

Suryagosha Dynasty
We cannot find any evidence around South Kosala for Surya or Bhimasena during Sharabhapuriya dynasty, We have no evidence of any overthrew of this dynasty. This dynasty has to be dated with Guptas and they belong to different time.

Constructing Genealogy
We have seen that there is not much dispute on the order of kings, but there is a confusion on period of kings. Let us see.

Present Chronology
A. M. Shastri estimates the reigns of the Sharabhapuriya rulers as follows: based on Sharabha's identification with the Sharabharaja mentioned in the 510 CE Eran inscription, he assigns Sharabha's reign to 475–500 CE (assuming a 25-year reign). Similarly, he assigns 25 years to the next two kings. Since Jayaraja's latest inscription is dated to 9th regnal year, Shastri assumes a 10-year reign for Jayaraja, and some subsequent kings.
* Sharabha (Śarabha), c. 475–500 CE (25 years)
* Narendra, c. 500–525 CE (25 years Atleast, 27 years)
* Prasanna (Prasanamatra), c. 525–550 CE (25 years) (Sons Jayaraja, Manamatra)
* Jayarāja, c. 550–560 CE (at least 10 years, may be 15 years)
* Manamatra alias Durgarāja, c. 570–580 CE (at least 10 Years)
* Sudevarāja, c. 570–580 CE (10 years atleast, May be 15 years)
* Pravarāja, c. 580–590 CE (3 years  to 10 Years)(Founder of Sripura)
Alternative dates have been proposed by other historians. For example, D. C. Sircar estimated Sharabha's reign as 465–480 CE, while V. V. Mirashi estimated it as 460–480 CE

  1. We have no reference to Guptas or Vakatakas in the Grant, so we have to use internal chronology to date Sharabhapuriyas and Panduvamsis
  2. Indrabala of Panduvamshi  ended Paravaraja rule. If we take the Trivaradeva rule, which is 550AD, we can arrive ending of  Sharabhrapuria rule in the capital Sharbhapura around 530 AD.
  3. Eran Inscription (510AD) of Bhanugupta contemporary Goparaja says his maternal grandfather was Sharbharaja, If we take the sharbharaja as founder of the dynasty. Which will put him at 460 AD. Bhanugupta is mentioned as Governor, and we do not have any info on Guptas here. The inscription talks about battle with Maitrakas in which Bhanugupta died and his wife followed him to the funeral pyre. We do not know sarbharaja mentioned here is Sharabha of Sharbhapuria, but it is assumed as such and dating is worked to 460 AD, considering that his son Narendra ruled for 25 years.
Points of View
  1. Sharabharaja mentioned in the inscription is meant to Sharabharaja and Contemporary king of Goparaja has to be taken as Prasannamatra, One of the reason can be taken as Eran has the best mint for gold coins in India. Eran mint gold coin influence can be seen in prasannamatra gold coins. 
  2. Lokaprakasa  is daughter of Sharabharaja. 
  3. Parama Bhattaraka Pada refers to Panduvamsis of Mekala. And Narendra when making this inscription is feudatory of Panduvamsis of Mekala.  After Surabala panduvamsis of Mekala power weakened and we have Sharabhapuriyas under Narendra  taking over as the overlords of  Panduvamsis of Mekala. 
  4. Jayaraja was succeeded by manamatra, who had very short tenure followed by his two sons sudevaraja and parvaraja.  
  5. After parvaraja death and resulting confusion, Indrabala the chiefminister from Panduvamsis clan has taken over Sharabhapura.  
  6. A last ditch effort seems to be from Vyagyaraja  son of Parvaraja In sripur.  This taking over took place around 530-535 AD, and panduvamsis of Kosala have  risen.  Inscription seems to use a borrowed south Indian scribe and who seems to have no much idea of official grants of Sharabhapuriyas.
  7. Geneology can be from Eran Inscription. Sharabharaja (440 - 460AD), Narendra (460-485AD), Prasannamatra (485 to 510Ad), Jayaraja (510 - 520AD),  Manamatra (Unknown), Sudevaraja (520 - 530AD), Parvaraja (530-534AD).
  8. Geneology years  of Mekala Panduvamshis cannot be constructed because of paucity of records.
We can give chronology of Sharabhapuriyas as
Sharabharaja (440-480AD)
Narendra (460-485AD)
Prasannamatra (485-510AD)
Jayaraja (510-520AD)

Guptas and Vakatakas are not overlords of Sharabhapuriyas or Panduvamsis, they belonged to different era. 

Inscriptions of the Śarabhapurīyas, Pāṇḍuvaṁśins, and Somavaṁśins: Introduction By Ajay Mitra Shastri
Historical Geography of Madhya Pradesh from Early Records by Pranab Kumar Bhattacharyya  
Orissan history, culture, and archaeology by Sadasiba Pradhan
Orissa-Andhra inscriptions 

Image Resources


Related Links
Ganga Dynasty (Kalinga) origin
Who is Trivara deva? : Reign of Panduvamsis 
Are Maukharis and Malwa Guptas Feudatories of Imperial Guptas?

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