Sumadhwa Vijaya - Historical Exploration Part 2



Anegondi and Kampili Kingdoms:

This kshethra which has been rightly called by Saint Vadiraja in Tirtha Prabandha as the Capital of Madhva Siddhanta, where the eight main pillars of the Tatvavada philosophical empire have chosen to live till eternity in their Vrindavanas. This place really has a great history. As Pampa Kshethra (Hampi) on the other side of the river, it is well known from the times of Puranas. The place played an important part in Ramayana, when Rama met Hanuman here and the Monkey rulers Vali and Sugriva had their capital.

Anegondi (Anegondi)(ಆನೆಗೊಂದಿ)is a small town, in the Gangavathi talluk of Koppala district and  is located at a distance of about ten kilometers from Hospet of Hampi fame towards the left bank of Tungabhadra River (North bank). The name Anegondi is attributed to the fact that the kings of Vijayanagar had the elephant contingent of their army at this place. This place was also known as Hastinavati, Kunjarakona and Kishkinda at different points of time in history and mythology. Arabian travelers have referred to Anegondi as ‘nAgunDim’ and Pais, the traveler from Portugal calls it ‘sEnagondim’.

This is in a rocky region and acts as a natural fortress providing protection from enemies. Consequently, it was chosen as their capital city by kings belonging to different dynasties. This place has played a crucial role both before and after the formation of the Vijayanagar dynasty. Kampilaraya and Kumara Rama confronted Mallik Kafur, the commander of Allauddin Khilji at this place. Later on it was a part of Vijayanagar Kingdom. It was ruled by the kings of Araveedu dynasty after the fall of Vijayanagara. Srirangaraya of Anegondi is believed to have built the fortress and the temple at Srirangapattana, near Mysore in the 15th century.

After the complete collapse of the Vijayanagara empire in 1565 AD, It was ruled successively by the Shahi dynasty of Bijapur, Mughals and Marathas during the 16th and 17th centuries, while the capital city Hampi/Vijayanagara was completely abandoned for some time. It was invaded by Tipu Sultan in 1777 AD. and later came under the British rule. They handed it over to the old lineage of kings of Anegondi who were in charge of it till 1949.


Based on a suggestion by Vidyaranya, his Guru, Harihara I changed the location of the capital at Anegondi to the Southern bank near the temple of Virupaksha and surrounded by Hemakuta, Matanga and Malyavantha hills and called his new capital as Vidyanagara or Vijayanagara. It took 7 years to construct the new capital, which Harihara entrusted to his younger brother Bukkaraya, whom he appointed as Yuvaraja, completing the construction of the city and the capital was shifted from Anagondi to the newly built city in 1343 AD.

Anegondi was the mother-city of Vijayanagara. Just nine years earlier, in the year 1327 A.D., the Hindu kingdom of Kampila (with its capitals Kummata about 12kms northwest of Hampi and Hosamaledurga, about 22kms south of Hampi) had fallen to Mohammed Thuglaq.

In recorded history, Hampi was first ruled by Chalukyas  and was taken over by Hoysalas with their capital at Dvarasamudra (Halebidu) in the latter part of 11 th century. Hoysalas were a powerful kingdom ruling an extensive empire stretching across old Mysore, parts of Andhra and Tamilnadu and Kerala. During the time of Acharya Madhva, it was being ruled by Ballala III (1291 – 1343 AD) and had passed its heyday, as it was soon to be eclipsed by the Muslim invaders from the Sultanate in Delhi and by the rise of Vijayanagara kingdom under the Sangama kings Harihara and Bukka (1336 AD).

Though small and short lived, the Kampili Kingdom was crucial in the organization of Hindu resistance against the Islamic hordes and subsequent revival in the South India. The ruler of this Kingdom in the early part of the 14 th Century – Kampila Raya (also called Jambukeswara) was the son of Mummadi Singa (Singeya Nayaka) hailing from Malnad region of Karnataka, who had established his kingdom in 1280 AD with the capital at Kummatadurga, a distance of 12 Kms northwest of Hampi, as a vassal of the Devagiri Kingdom. Sangama Raya, father of Hakka and Bukka, the founders of Vijayanagara kingdom is also reported to be a son in law of Kampila Raya and a treasurer of the State. The legendary Kumara Rama was the son of Kampila Raya.  Kampila Raya was initially a vassal, but declared himself independent, when the Devagiri kingdom was taken over and Hoysala king Ballala III lost effective power to the Muslim invaders led by Mallik Kafur in 1311 AD. The name Kampila used by Muslim historians has been identified as the town of Kampili, which is 12 Kms east of Anegondi,  which still has remnants of fortifications.  Hampi/Anegondi area with its natural hilly terrain was also a good defensive fort.  In the short period of its existence, the new kingdom straddling the borders of the Hoysala and Yadava kingdoms faced constant threats from both, performing a balancing act and successfully repulsed an attack by the Yadava king Ramachandra and had also helped him later to defend himself against the Hoysalas.  There were many encounters between this kingdom, which was trying to establish itself and enlarge its domain and the Hoysalas till 1325 AD, when the borders with Hoysalas were mutually settled.Kampili deva (also called Khandeya Raya) succeeded his father in 1300 AD and Singeya or Mummadi Singa died in 1313 AD.

Allauddun’s general, Mallik Kafur also had a brief encounter with the new Kampila kingdom in 1314 AD when he ravaged the Kummata fort, which was its strongest defence, but had failed to subjugate the kingdom. At this stage, it comprised of the present day districts of Bellary, Dharwar and Raichur along with a small portion of Anantapur in the south and Shimoga and Chitradurg in the west. The river Krishna formed a natural boundary of the kingdom from the area to the North ruled by the Sultans of Delhi in the present Maharashtra.  In 1326/27 AD, Tughlaq had taken over the Sultanate in Delhi and a sister’s son ruling near Gulbarga who had rebelled against him, came and took shelter with the King of Kampili. Tughlaq used the excuse that he was not surrendered and handed over when demanded and attacked the Kampili kingdom.  The Sultan’s army was twice defeated by the Kampili army with heavy losses and loss of morale, but on the third attempt, supervised by Thuglaq himself staying in Devagiri, the heroic Kampili king had to shut himself up in the fort of Hosadurg (Anegondi), after losing Kummata fort. Though he held out for more than a month, he finally decided to die fighting bravely when his supplies ran out and the women folk committed mass Sathee in the fort. The fugitive Muslim was sent to Ballala III, before the final battle, but the Hoysala king Ballala III, unwilling to put his kingdom in risk against Thuglaq just for an individual, handed him over to Tughlaq, who had him brutally killed. After this war, the kingdom of Kampili ceased to exist as it was annexed as a separate province under the Sultan. Kumararama, a son of the reigning king, though well known for his bravery and other great qualities as preserved even now in folk tales, ballads etc.did not succeed to the throne, as he died earlier in battle.

According to Sri B suryanarayana Rao in his book “Yendigoo mareyada Samrajya” in Kannada, the small kingdom of Anegondi existed in the period 1179 – 1334 AD, ruled by a lineage of kings the last two being Prathapadevaraya (1271 – 1297) and Jambukeswararaya (1297 – 1334 AD). The old fort at Anegondi on the northern bank of Tungabhadra fell twice to invaders - in 1327 to Thuglaq and 1332 to Chalukya ruler Somadeva( a brief attempt at reviving Hindu rule before Vijayanagara) and the Kingdom absorbed into the larger neighbor, Vijayanagara. The last king referred to by name Kampiliraya (whose son was Kumararama) would thus be Jambukeswara raya. According to this list, the earlier 7 kings which include names like Nanda, Chalukya etc are shown as ruling from 1040 AD, and are not relevant for the purpose of our study of Madhva lineage. The recorded history of Kampiliraya being the son of Singeya Nayaka is also well substantiated by numerous references as described in his excellent book by Professor Duncan Derrett, who has studied the Hoysala lineage in considerable depth. Another book giving detailed information is “The Early Muslim expansion into South India” by Prof. Nilakanta Shastri. According to the last book, King Somadeva had succeeded in establishing control not only over Anegondi, but also nearby places like Raichur, Mudgal etc by 1334 AD itself and was actually displaced by Harihara I of the Sangama dynasty of Vijayanagara after 1336 AD. Thus Hampi/Anegondi area essentially remained under nominal Muslim rule only for 6/7 years – from 1327 – 1334 AD. And the tragic end of kampili royal lineage fulfilled a far more significant role in giving birth to the revived Hindu Warangal state, and the formidable Vijayanagara kingdom based on Hampi. If one juxtaposes the dates of Vrindavana pravesha of Sri Padmanabha Tirtha 1324 AD and Sri Narahari Tirtha 1333 AD, it is clear that Thuglaq’s destruction of kampili state would have had little effect in this regard. After Vijayanagara came into being in 1336 AD, it became the epicenter of a powerful Hindu kingdom and stayed as such till 1565 AD and even later as a residual power for some time.

To summarise, the period of the last two decades of Madhva (1298 – 1318 AD) followed by the periods of Padmanabha Tirtha (1318 – 1324 AD) and Narahari Tirtha (1324 – 1333 AD)  saw some of the worst destruction of organized Hindu political power, famous temples, and mass killings.The Hindu kings proved inept both politically and militarily in dealing with the menace and the Parashurama Kshethra area and Hampi area were like Oases in the desert – along with the distant Hindu ruled Orissa. 

The dissolution of Hindu power started with Alla uddin Khalji’s raids on Devagiri Kingdom ruled by the Yadava king Ramachandra, first in 1296 AD, even before ascending the throne, for looting and for control followed by those (after occupying it) in 1307/9 AD. This was followed rapidly by the successful raids on Prathaparudra of Warangal in 1310 AD, Ballala III of Dvarasamudra in 1311 AD and culminated in the final raids on Madurai ruled by the Pandya princes and the whole sale destruction and looting of the famed temple of Sri Rangam, Chidamabaram, and even reaching Rameswaram, where a mosque was built on a temple site.

The very first raid on Devagiri had made Ramachandra totally submissive and even cooperative, and Allauddin ensured that by retaining him in the seat, the Devagiri state became an accomplice in his further ventures against other states, like using the wood of a tree cut first as the handle of the Axe. The invasion deluge was successfully resisted only by the small Kampili Kingdom in the immediate vicinity of Hampi for a few years.

The invaders returned to Delhi in October 1311. In 1313 AD, he invaded again the submissive kingdom of Devagiri and finished off its existence even as a vassal Hindu Kingdom by killing its last surviving King. Alla Uddin died in 1316 AD and his governor crushed attempts by the Yadava lineage to emerge out of the ashes by killing Harapal, the son in law of Ramachandra in 1318 AD, thus integrating the Maratha areas north of the Krishna river into his Delhi ruled empire.

The Thuglaq dynasty came into power in Delhi in 1320 AD with Ghiyasuddin who ruled for only 5 years followed by Mohammed Bin Thuglaq in 1325 AD. They not only crushed the Hindu backlash in Devagiri, but even the capital of the Muslim empire was shifted from Delhi to Devagiri – renamed Daualatabad in 1326-27 AD and increased the Muslim population both by concentration and forced conversions. This brought increasing pressure on the neighbouring Hindu kingdoms.

The other direct buffer state of Kakatiyas of Warangal was first attacked unsuccessfully by All Uddin in 1303 AD, but he was defeated by Prathaparudra. His second invasion to Warangal in 1310 AD was successful and he received great wealth as compensation from the King.  He continued southwards from Warangal, by first returning to Devagri and attacking Hoysala king Ballala III in a surprise attack, and forced him to sue for peace and agree to cooperate in his final goal – capture of Madurai of the Pandyas.

Though the invaders could not capture and ensure surrender of the fighting brothers who ruled the kingdom, they captured vast booty from the temples destroyed and the cities sacked which included SriRangam, Chidambaram, Madurai etc as mentioned earlier.  Allauddin’s depredations had all taken place, before 1318 AD, when Madhva was still in Udupi area.

The Thuglaq dynasry headed by Ghiyasuddin was even more destructive, as unlike Allauddin who was mainly after riches, loot etc and was prepared to leave an impoverished and servile king in place, the new rulers were actuated by motives of conversion to Islam and obliterating the Hindu identity completely. The following words of Nilakanta Sastri express this situation:

“To stamp out heathenism and gather all the people in the folds of Islam, they prohibited the public exercise of Hindu religion and subjected its followers to inhuman tyranny.  Hindus could not dress well, live well and appear prosperous. Vexatious taxes were imposed on them. Their seats of learning were destroyed. Their temples were plundered and demolished and the images of the gods whom they adored were defaced and smashed and used for building prayer houses of the faithful”. The imposition of Jeziya tax, on Hindus which kept them impoverished and discriminated against, as well as mass killing of even non-combatants in conquered areas, forced abduction of women and children etc were common features which the more rabid of the sultans were encouraged to practice, when guided by the religious heads.

I will also quote an interesting observation by Dr. Koenraad Elst:

“During the Islamic conquests in India, it was a typical policy to single out the Brahmins for slaughter, after the Hindu warrior class had been bled in the battle field. … . The Muslims could not rule the country except by systematic terror. .. If there were any uprising, it was instantly and savagely repressed. – houses were burned, the countryside was laid waste, men were slaughtered and women were taken as slaves. 

“There is only one among four law schools in Sunni Islam, which allows Pagans to subsist as zimmis – disempowered third class citizens, the other three schools of Jurisprudence ruled that Pagans as opposed to Christians had to be given a choice between Islam and Death.”

Staggering numbers also died as collateral damage of the deliberate impoverishment by Sultans like Allauddin Khalji and Jehangir. As Braudel put it – “The levies it had to pay were so crushing that one catastrophic harvest was enough to unleash famines and epidemics capable of killing a million people at a time. Appalling poverty was the constant counterpart of the conqueror’s opulence”.

Providentially, the success of Islamin this phase of zealous extremism was limited mainly because they could not establish their numbers fast enough and the Hindus, in great majority, though led with poor strategy and militarily weak, rebounded back again and again till they threw off the yoke of the oppressors. Many brave warriors were slain with their kingdoms short lived - but they kept the torch burning and did not allow it to be extinguished.But for religious leaders, this period must have been particularly difficult as they could hardly expose themselves in public and perform their prescribed functions. Even Sumadhvavijaya conveys a picture in shloka 10-15 of Chapter 10, showing a face of the Islamic forces of a King which would kill a harmless party of a few ascetics instantly – and how Madhva warded off the danger by his tact and personality.

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