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Emergence of New Dynasties

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By the 7th century, different regions of the subcontinent had large landlords and warrior leaders who were recognized by the existing rulers as subordinates or semantics. They were required to bring gifts for their kings and overloads, attend their courts, and offer military support. As these semantics grew in power and money, they declared themselves to be maha-Samanta, maha-mandaleshvara (the great lord of a “circle” or territory), and so on. They even declared their independence from their overlords at times. 

The Chalukyas of Karnataka were ruled by the Rashtrakutas in the Deccan. In the middle of the eighth century, Dantidurga, a Rashtrakuta leader, deposed his Chalukya master and, with the aid of Brahmanas, carried out a ritual known as hiranya-garbha (literally, the golden womb). Even if the sacrificer was not a Kshatriya by birth, it was believed that this rite would cause him to “rebirth” as one. In other instances, men from affluent families exploited their military prowess to build kingdoms like the Gurjara-Pratihara Harichandra, and the Kadamba Mayurasharma. They were Brahmanas who abandoned their regular occupations and turned to warfare in order to effectively create kingdoms in Rajasthan and Karnataka.

Kingdom’s administrative structures

New rulers used lofty names like Tribhuvan-chakravartin (lord of the three worlds), maharaja-adhiraja (great king, overlord of kings), and so forth. However, they also shared authority with groups of peasants, traders, and Brahmanas as well as with their Samanthas. In these states, resources were collected from the producers (peasants, cowherds, artisans, and so on), who were frequently forced to give up a portion of what they produced or encouraged to do so. Sometimes, this surrender was represented as “rent” owed to a ruler who claimed to possess the land. 

The traders also contributed money. These funds were utilized to establish the king’s government and to build forts and temples. They were also employed to attack other countries, which resulted in the looting of wealth and the opening of trade routes and access to land as well. The majority of the officials who collected money were chosen from powerful families, and many of their jobs were hereditary. This also applied to the army. These roles were frequently filled by the king’s close relatives.

Warfare for Wealth

Despite being based in a particular territory, ruling dynasties frequently attempted to dominate other regions. The Ganga valley’s renowned city of Kannauj has been a source of conflict between the Gurjara-Pratihara, Rashtrakuta, and Pala dynasties for ages. This protracted fight was referred to as a “tripartite struggle” by historians since there were three “parties” involved. 

Building massive temples was another way that rulers tried to show off their wealth and power. Therefore, they frequently decided to target temples, which were occasionally quite wealthy, when they attacked each other’s kingdoms. Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, Afghanistan, who ruled from 997 to 1030 and expanded his domain over sections of Central Asia, Iran, and the northwestern half of the subcontinent, is one such leader. He conducted raids on the Indian subcontinent virtually every year, choosing to target affluent temples like the one in Somnath, Gujarat. Mahmud’s wealth was utilized to build a magnificent capital city at Ghazni. 

After meeting Sanskrit professors, Sultan Mahmud wanted to learn more about the people he had conquered, so he assigned a scholar by the name of Al-Biruni to write a description of the subcontinent in his Arabic book, known as the Kitab ul-Hind. The Chaho, who ruled over the area around Delhi and Ajmer, were among the other monarchs that waged war. The Chalukyas of Gujarat and the Gahadavalas of western Uttar Pradesh resisted their attempts to extend their rule to the west and the east. The most well-known Chahamana king was Prithviraj III (1168–1192), who in 1191 fought Sultan Muhammad Ghori of Afghanistan but fell to him the next year, in 1192.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: What took place when Samantas came into power?


Samanthas proclaimed themselves to be maha-Samanta, maha-mandaleshvara (the great lord of a “circle” or territory), once they attained money and power. They occasionally proclaimed their independence from their masters.

Examples: A Rashtrakuta leader named Dantidurga ousted his Chalukya overlord in the middle of the eighth century, and he performed a ritual known as hiranya-garbha, which means the golden womb.

Question 2: How did the Rashtrakutas return to power and gain independence?


There are several ways Rashtrakutas rose to prominence. The Chalukyas of Karnataka were the superior power to the Rashtrakutas. A Rashtrakuta chief named Dantidurga conquered his Chalukyan master in the middle of the ninth century. He enlisted the aid of Brahmanas to carry out the Hiranya-garbha ceremony. Therefore, even if the sacrificer was not a Kshatriya by birth, this rite was thought to cause his rebirth as a Kshatriya.

Question 3: What titles took on the new kings?


Many of the new kings took on lofty titles. These titles included Tribhuvana-chakravartin, which means ruler of the three worlds, Overlord of Kings, and Maharaja-adhiraja, which means magnificent monarch. Despite making such claims, they frequently shared power with groups of peasants, traders, and Brahmanas as well as with their samantas.

Question 4: Where did the funding for these states come from?


‘Resources were provided by farmers, ranchers, and other producers in each of these states. They were frequently forced or persuaded to give up a portion of their output. Because a lord claimed to possess the land, these were occasionally claimed as “rent.” The traders also contributed money.

Last Updated : 21 Jan, 2024
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