Category Ancient India

Why did the founders of Vijayanagara give it this name?

          The Vijayanagara Empire rose in southern India in the 14th century. It was founded by two princes of the Sangama dynasty, Harihara and Bukka in 1336. They were actually ministers of the ruler of Kampili in Karnataka. The Sultan of Delhi, Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq captured them and sent them back to Karnataka to suppress revolts there. The brothers then formed the Kingdom of Vijayanagara after revolting and defeating the Sultan.

          The capital was named ‘Vijayanagara’ which means ‘the City of Victory’; in honour of the grand victory they had scored against the Sultan of Delhi. Later, the empire also was called by this name.

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Why Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan is considered a great Pandyan ruler?

          The early Pandyan kingdoms declined with the rise of the Cholas in the 9th century, and were in constant conflict with them. The Pandyans allied themselves with the Sinhalese and the Cheras in harassing the Chola Empire, until they found an opportunity for reviving their fortunes during the late 13th century. Sundara Pandyan I burnt the Chola towns of Tanjavur and Uraiyur, and shot into prominence. But the Pandyans really entered their golden age under Jatavarman Sundara Pandyan who expanded their empire into Telugu country and invaded the northern half of Ceylon. He defeated the Hoysalas, the Kakatiyas and the Pallavas.

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Why did the Bahmani king go to war with the Vijayanagara kingdom?

          The Bahmani and Vijayanagara kingdoms were constantly at war over the control of three main areas. These areas were the regions between the Krishna and Tungabhadra rivers, the Krishna-Godavari Delta area, and the Konkan coastline.

          The reason for this continuous conflict was that these areas were very fertile, and also contained important cities.

          Though the Bahmani king Mohammed Shah I attacked Vijayanagara and plundered its capital, he could not hold on to it. His successor, Mujahid could not capture Vijayanagara either, though he tried twice.

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Why does the Hoysala dynasty have a special place in history?

          The Hoysalas were a family that ruled from about AD 1006 to about 1346 in the southern Deccan, was later moved to Halebid.

          The dynasty, founded by a tribal chief Nripa Kama, is well remembered for the beautifully carved temples of Belur, Halebid, Somanathapur, Shravanabelagola and others. The Hoysala kings were famous for their religious tolerance. They were also great patrons of art and culture. The main rulers of this dynasty were King Vishnuvardhana and Vira Ballala-II. Through Vishnuvardhana’s expansive military conquests, the Hoysalas achieved the status of a major kingdom. He wrested Gangavadi from the Cholas in AD 1116, and moved the capital from Belur to Halebid.

          Vira Ballala-II was the greatest monarch of the Hoysalas. During his rule, the kingdom expanded considerably.

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Why the Gupta period is called the Golden Age in Indian history?

        During the reign of the Guptas, giant strides were made in science, mathematics, astronomy, religion and Indian philosophy. The peace and prosperity created under the leadership of the Guptas enabled the pursuit of scientific and artistic endeavours. Music, architecture, sculpture and painting were at their best during the period of Gupta rule.

       The stone temples of Deogarh and Bhitergaon are a few specimens of Gupta excellence in architecture and sculpture. Another area of Gupta expertise was their metallurgical skill. Various copper statues and images of Buddha reflect the craftsmanship of the Gupta period. The pillar at Delhi made of iron at the time of Samudragupta is another awe-inspiring monument. Many of the finest paintings of ancient India were executed during the Gupta period, the best example being the murals at Ajanta caves. It was also a golden age for Buddhist art. Uniform artistic standards were set chiefly by workshops in Mathura and Sarnath.

        The Gupta reign saw the exchange of intellectual ideas, which is attributed to royal patronage and contacts with foreign people of both east and west. The greatest Sanskrit poet, Kalidasa, who wrote Meghadutam and Kumarsambhavam, was in Vikramaditya’s court. Abhijnanashakuntalam, the great play of Kalidasa, exemplifies the literary craftsmanship of this period. The Panchatantram, a collection of fables, was another popular work written during the Gupta age.

        The Sanskrit dramas Mrichakatikam and Mudrarakshasam were written during Gupta reign too. This period also saw many celebrated astronomers like Aryabhatta, as well as legal experts and efficient administrators.

        The decimal numeral system, including the concept of zero, was invented in India during the reign of the Guptas. The cities were clean, well planned and prosperous, and the markets were full of different things to buy. Trade flourished, and gold coins were plentiful. Education was considered important, and the Nalanda University was built during this time.

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Who is known as the Napoleon of India?

       Samudragupta, ruler of the Gupta Empire and successor to Chandragupta I, is considered to be one of the greatest military geniuses in Indian history. It is said that he fought in over a hundred battles which left scars all over his body.

       Samudragupta defeated four kings of northern India, twelve kings of the Deccan, battled against the Sakas, and received tribute from many rulers, including the ruler of today’s Sri Lanka. Samudragupta performed the Ashvamedha sacrifice to mark his sovereignty over lands that stretched from Assam in the east, to Punjab in the west. Is it any wonder then, that he was called the Napoleon of India?

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Why did Chandragupta II take the name Vikramaditya?

       The name Vikramaditya means ‘Heroic Sun’. Chandragupta II took this name because of his many conquests, which brought the whole of western India under Gupta rule, and established an empire that stretched from the Arabian Sea in the west, to the Bay of Bengal in the east.

      There are many stories and legends about Vikramaditya. He was an ideal king, who was as wise as he was brave and strong. He was a great patron of arts, and nine great figures of ancient literature known as the navaratnas (nine gems), graced his court. Matchless in war, matchless in forgiveness, and an excellent ruler, he won the hearts of his people. His reign saw an era of peace and prosperity.

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Who were the greatest rulers of the Gupta dynasty?

       The Gupta Empire was one of the largest political and military empires in the ancient world. It was ruled by members of the Gupta dynasty from around AD 320 to 600.

       The Gupta dynasty, which followed the Kushana dynasty, ruled an empire that covered most of northern India, the region presently in Pakistan, and what is now western India and Bangladesh. The dynasty was established by Sri Gupta. However, very little is known about the first two rulers, Sri Gupta and Ghatotkacha. The most famous Gupta rulers were Chandragupta I, Samudragupta, and Chandragupta II or Vikramaditya.

       Chandragupta I conquered much of Magadha, Prayaga and Saketa. His empire stretched from the river Ganges to Allahabad. He was the first of the Guptas to be referred to as ‘Maharajadhiraja’ or ‘King of Kings’, which was indeed a high and mighty title. Samudragupta expanded the empire until it extended from the Himalayas to the river Narmada and from the Brahmaputra to the Yamuna.

        Samudragupta was not only a great warrior, but also a great patron of art and literature. He was a poet and musician himself. He was a firm believer in Hinduism, but was considerate of other religions, and allowed Sri Lanka’s Buddhist king to build a monastery at Bodh Gaya.

       Chandragupta II called himself Vikramaditya. He extended his empire from coast-to-coast, and established a second trading capital at Ujjain. His reign is remembered for its very influential style of Hindu art, literature, culture and science. The last two Gupta rulers were Kumaragupta and Skandagupta.

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Why are Chola kings considered to be great patrons of architecture?

       The Chola Empire stretched over all South India and the neighbouring islands. The period of the Chola Dynasty was described as the golden age of the Tamil culture.

       The rulers of this great empire built magnificent temples that bear testimony to their ideology and the grandeur of their architecture and civilization.

       The great temple of Thanjavur was built in a few years, from 1003 to 1010, during the reign of the great king Rajaraja, the true founder of the Chola Empire. The major temples are the Brihadiswara Temple at Thanjavur, the temple of Gangaikon-dacholisvaram and the Airavatesvara Temple at Darasuram. The whole combined site is known as the Great Living Chola Temples.

       The imperial rulers of the Chola Empire had developed the Dravidian style of temple architecture almost to perfection. A special feature of the Chola architecture is the purity of artistic tradition. The Brihadiswara Temple was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in the year 1987.

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Who is the author of Thirukural?

          Thirukural is an important work of Tamil literature by the poet Thiruvalluvar. It is written in a poetic form called Kural, which means rhyming couplet. It is considered the first work to focus on ethics and expounds various aspects of life.

          Thiruvalluvar was a sage and philosopher who is believed to have written Thirukural about 2000 years ago. It has an orderly arrangement of 1330 Tamil couplets, which are divided into 133 chapters. Each chapter has a specific subject ranging from ‘ploughing a piece of land’ to ‘ruling a country’. Themes such as virtue, love and morals, happiness and prosperity are written in verses that are simple and short. Thirukural is considered an all-time Tamil classic, which has been translated into most Indian languages and some European languages as well.

          The popularity of Thirukural lies in the fact that it has something noble for the ordinary man, the administrator, the king and the ascetic. It is global in perspective, and it is as relevant today as when it was written hundreds of years ago.

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