Sumadhwa Vijaya - Historical Exploration Part 3

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 SriRangam, 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.

The advent of the Thuglaqs on the Delhi throne in 1320 AD was even worse for Hindu kingdoms and Hindus in general. Earlier, the temporary surrender of the Warangal King Prathapa Rudra to Allauddin had been retrieved and he had grown in military strength and enlarged the area ruled by him. But instead of uniting the Hindus against the bigger enemy who had already beaten him once, he was squandering his own strength in campaigns against other Hindu states. In the second year of Ghaiyasuddin Thuglaq, (1322 AD) a Muslim army from Delhi was sent against Warangal which was heroically resisted by it. Though the Muslims failed to capture Warangal even after a long siege, Prathaparudra, weakened after the long siege had to sue for peace, offering to pay tributes again as before. This was rejected by the invasion commander. But luckily for Prathaparudra, thanks to some fortuitous discord in the enemy forces, some of their units left the field and in the confusion, the besieged forces came out and scattered the invading army, which was forced to retreat to Devagiri. But, a second effort was made next year 1323 AD, which was successful and after conquering Warangal, the muslims continued on the east coast up to Rajamundry (1324 AD) and towards Orissa, where they were stopped by the Kalinga king Bhanudeva II. Ghaiyasuddin himself was killed by his own nephew Mohammed Bin Thuglaq in 1325 AD, who then took over the empire. Mohammed bin Thuglaq had a long innings – (1325 – 1351 AD) and expanded Muslim rule over almost the whole of Indian subcontinent, excepting Kashmir, Orissa, a strip of Rajasthan and the Malabar coast. It was in his time that the older political map of India was altered for good and at least for a few years, rule by the Delhi Sultan had to be accepted by all, some of whom continued as vassals under him.

His conquests included the rebel principality of Sagar (near Gulbarga) in 1326/27 AD, the flight of the muslim ruler first to Kampili and then to Hoysala kingdom leading to the annihilation of Kampili state along with the sacking of Anegondi, the last surviving truly independent Hindu kingdom after Allauddin in 1327 AD. Ballala III at Dvarasamudra (Halebidu) was the next target and had to sue for peace and accommodation agreeing to pay tributes and confine his activities to minor political gains in the Pandya kingdom such as getting Kannanur. Prathaparudra of Warangal had also lost his life and kingdom in 1323 AD, even when Ghaiyasuddin was rulling. Thuglaq also annexed the fort at Simhaghar (8 miles south of Poona). He had also created new administrative units in Bengal and North Bihar. Gujarat continued under Muslim rule. The Orissa kingdom under eastern Ganga dynasty had held up and with some skirmishes with the Muslim Bengal and occasional efforts by Delhi sultans to subvert, it had continued as an independent state till 1361 AD, when it lost to Bukka of Vijayanagara and lost some territory in the south.

The huge empire built up by military conquests however started breaking up even in hisown life time. The Muslim governor at Madurai declared independence in 1334/35 and the Sultan’s attempt to retake it proved a failure. The Hindus in Telengana rebelled in a confederacy under Prolaya nayak and Kapaya nayak in 1330/35 AD. The latter succeeded in getting the support of Ballala III of the Hoysalas in Dvarasamudra and freed Warangal and the northern districts of the Madurai Muslim ruled sultanate. Thuglaq’s attempt to take control over the Kampili area also misfired when the new governors appointed by him Hakka and Bukka themselves turned rebel and established the new kingdom of Vijayanagara in 1336 AD. Thus except the old Devagiri kingdom, called Daulatabad by him, the other conquests could not be held on to and the earlier status-quo was gradually restored. The Anegondi kingdom was however never restored as it took the new identity of the Vijayanagara with the capital at Hampi.

The further developments of a political nature after the Vijayanagara came into being will be discussed separately in another section.

Before we go into specific force- majeure events in the periods, brief mention may be made of the catastrophic nature of the two Muslim invasions into the south by Allauddin and Thuglaq, by quoting some historical accounts:

The SriRangam temple was a Vaishnava center which had existed for centuries. Sumadhva Vijaya (5.47) mentions that Acharya Madhva visited it in his first south Indian tour, when he was perhaps only in his teens (1356/57 AD).

5.47. Ananda Tirtha, the great intellect, next came to Sri Ranga. He offered his devoted prostrations to Ranganatha Swamy, immanent in the Icon there, who is like an ocean of loveliness, rests on Shesha, grants auspicious boons to the good people and is served by the cool breeze passing over the cauvery river.

Considering the comparative nearness of SriRangam to Udupi area, it is likely that when Narayana panditha wrote the composition, the temple was still intact, as any serious disruption would have been noted in some manner, in the writing. Malik Kafur, the slave general of Allauddin invaded Madurai area of Pandyas successfully in 1311 AD (just 7 years before Madhva disappeared). Vedanta Deshika, the great ascetic of Sri Vaishnava faith was living there. The invasion is mentioned in his life history thus - 

His (Vedanta Deshika’s) Exodus to Tirunarayanapuram

In about 1327, (date given here is wrong), during the Muslim invasion of Srirangam by Malik Kafur, the General of Allauddin, Sultan of Delhi, there was a great commotion. The Srivaishnavas who were Satvic by nature were no match to the Muslim plunderers. Fear gripped the minds of everyone as to what might happen to the temple and the Lords Archa murthis. The Acharyas deliberated under the guidance of the Centenarian Master, Sudarsana Bhattar. It was decided that one group under Pillai Lokacharya (who was equally advanced in age) was to take the Utsava Murthi and His consorts covered up in a palanquin to Tirupati. The party under Sudarsana Suri was to stay put at Srirangam, after erecting a stone wall in front of the Sannidhi of Moolavar to cover him from the sight of the marauders. Swami took Sudarsana Bhattars two sons and the manuscripts of Sruta Prakaasika ( the elaborate commentary on Sri Bhashyam chronicled by Sudarsana Bhattar during the Kalakshepams of Nadadur Ammaal) to safety at Tiru narayana puram via Satya mangalam. But, before he could do that, the muslim army attacked them and massacred many of them. Swami hid himself with his wards in the midst of corpses and spent the night. In the morning, they moved towards Satyakalam village in Karnataka en route to Tirunarayana puram.

Malik Kafur is reported to have captured a vast booty of wealth carried on 512 elephants, and 5000 horses, and the jewellery alone was 500 Maunds!. Thousands of priests who tried to protect the temples had been killed and the temple itself was deprived of the Utsava Murthy as well as the main deity, by hiding the latter behind a stoned up recess.  The fate of other temples in Chidamabaram etc was similar. They also destroyed the towns and harried the countryside, completely disrupting normal life.

His basic policy towards Hindus is summed up by the following quote: “The Sultan demanded from learned men rules and regulations, so that the Hindu should be ground down, and property and possessions, which are the causes of disaffection and rebellion, should not remain in his house.”

Mohammed bin Thuglaq was undoubtedly a great military commander as well as good administrator, but extremely cruel and capricious. In keeping with his policy of expanding his rule over the whole of India, he maintained very high levels of taxation, which was collected ruthlessly, by punishing the revenue collectors brutally and causing famine for several years. His policy of total ruthlessness and cruelty towards his opponents irrespective of who they were – mother, brother, defeated kings, even Muslim divines who differed from him surrounded him with death, destruction and fear, in which no one was sure about his position with him.      


0 #6 srivathsa 2015-03-26 02:22
2)ultimate knowledge is sacchidaanada. sacchidaananda is the personality(swarupa) of brahman….which means …..
sat(always present)….chit(consiousness)……anadnda(bliss) …..when you experience…..this ananda(bliss)…….that means your personality have become equal to sacchidaanada….in that state you have become sacchidaanada swarupi…..or in other words…..you have become sacchidaanada rupi brahman …..which is the ultimate knowledge….as vedas says…..
so….you yourself…..have become sacchidaanada….or YOU HAVE BECOME BRAHMAN ,which is ultimate knowledge….thats why vedas say…..prajgnam brahm….or brahman is knowledge…..and you are brahman…….(aham brahmamaasmi)……this is in breaf……the essence of jgnana yoga….
ramnath s
+1 #5 ramnath s 2015-02-22 16:01
Raghu, Its very good article & documentation
+1 #4 IVNS Raju 2015-02-19 11:34
Well said Raghothama Rao garu. The pain experienced by the Indians in the process (of proselytizing) to which they are subjected ruthlessly, was inherent in that period. During such time holding the light of Dharma up and above is not possible for any mortal Acharya.
C. Raghothama Rao
0 #3 C. Raghothama Rao 2015-02-19 10:12
It may be politically incorrect statement to make but historically a correct one to say that Adi Shankara & Ramanuja have not faced the wrath of single book, militarily aggressive and proselytizing religions such as Islam.

It is also worthwhile to note that in a way, Adi Shankara faced a large hoards of Buddhist & Jain kings, followers and scholars. There are recorded accounts wherein Buddhists & Jains have forced their kings & rulers to harass Vedic community. Thus posing a great challenge for Shankaracharya to raise in revolt and establish the Vedic order.

By the time Ramanajuacharya dawned on the south Indian religious scene, Buddhists & Jains were reduced to minorities. They were latching on to their last vestigial parts in south such as South Karnataka.

On the other hand, the time & setting chosen by Madhvacharya to appear on this earth is much harder than these two Acharyas. The socio-ethnic-politico-religious scenario of South India has been changed completely with the advent of aggressive Islam and the whole of North India has already came under the hammer of Muslim army. In such background, it calls for a great guts for a Sanatana Acharya to hold the forte of Dharma. And Acharya Madhva did the same thing i.e. holding the light of Dharma up & above the proselytizing religions.

Very good write-up to read.
0 #2 p.Guruprasad 2015-02-19 03:53
Hare Srinivasa,

Please keep posted on all gynana karyas & programs.
+1 #1 IVNS Raju 2015-02-18 07:30
The very fact of the renaissance of Sanathana Dharma and its everlasting influence, in spite of the brutal rule of Muslim Kings who looted the Temples and the country at large, is nothing but the "inherent power" of this land. Thanks NAPS Rao garu for narrating the events of history in a manner that makes a reader like me become more interested. Blessed are the readers like me to read your writings. I am anxiously awaiting your next part where you would be talking of the emergence of Vijayanagar Empire. It is intriguing to know as to how Hakka and Bukka got suffix "Raya" and lead the process of protecting Sanathana Dharma. Pranams to you.

Add comment

* Don't make derogatory, abusive, racist, sexist and vulgar comments.
* Be polite and professional while responding to the authors and fellow commentators.
* Don't bring in irrelevant topics or comments nor debate on other topics/subjects/persons/institutions.
* Conduct yourself in a decent manner as you will be judged by your words.
* Comments are being moderated and hence shall be edited by the Web Admin at discretion and the changes incorporated may not be informed to the commentator/member who originally posted the comment.
* Any violation shall be treated seriously and suitable actions shall be taken which may include removal of the comment(s) without prior notice and blacklisting the membership.

Security code