Sena dynasty

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Sena Empire
সেন সাম্রাজ্য
Shen Sāmrājya

CE 1070–CE 1230
Capital Nabadwip
Languages Sanskrit
Religion Hinduism
Government Monarchy
 -  1070–1096 AD Hemanta Sen
 -  1159–1179 AD Ballal Sen
 -  1225–1230 AD Keshab Sen
Historical era Classical India
 -  Established CE 1070
 -  Disestablished CE 1230

The Sena Empire (Bengali: সেন সাম্রাজ্য, Shen Sāmrājya) was a Hindu dynasty that ruled from Bengal through the 11th and 12th centuries. The empire at its peak covered much of the north-eastern region of the Indian subcontinent. The rulers of the Sena Dynasty traced their origin to the south Indian region of Karnataka.[1]

The dynasty's founder was Hemanta Sen, who was part of the Pala Dynasty until it began to weaken. Hemanta Sen usurped power and styled himself king in 1095 AD. His successor Vijay Sen (ruled from 1096 AD to 1159 AD) helped lay the foundations of the dynasty, and had an unusually long reign of over 60 years. Ballal Sena conquered Gaur from the Pala, became the ruler of the Bengal Delta, and made Nabadwip the capital as well. Ballal Sena married Ramadevi a princess of the Western Chalukya Empire which indicates that the Sena rulers maintained close social contact with south India.[2]Lakshman Sen succeeded Ballal Sena in 1179, ruled Bengal for approximately 20 years, and expanded the Sena Empire to Assam, Odisha, Bihar and probably to Varanasi. In 1203–1204 AD, the Turkic general Bakhtiyar Khilji attacked Nabadwip. Khilji defeated Lakshman Sen and captured northwest Bengal - although Eastern Bengal remained under Sena control.


The political space after the decline of the Pala power in Bengal was occupied by the Senas whose king Vijayasena succeeded in conquering a large part of Pala territory. The Senas were the supporters of orthodox Hinduism. The dynasty traces its origin to the South, to the Western Chalukya Empire of southern India.[3] Theres is a record of a Western Chalukya invasion during the reign of Somesvara I led by his son Vikramaditya VI who defeated the kings of Gauda and Kamarupa.[4][5] This invasion of the Kannada ruler brought bodies of his countrymen from Karnataka into Bengal which explains the origin of the Sena Dynasty.[4][6]

The founder of the Sena rule was Samantasena who described himself as a Kshatriya of Karnata(Karnataka) and born in a family of “Brahma-Kshatriya" at a place called Radha in West Bengal. The title Brahma-Kshatriya indicates that Samantasena was a Brahmin but his successors called themselves simply Kshatriyas. He himself states that he fought the outlaws of Karnata and later turned an ascetic. Sena kings have been identified with the Ambastha (which is thought as a mixed caste, being born of Brahmin father and Vaishya mother,[7] but technically it is of the Brahmin varna [8]) clan in many texts like 'Kula-dipika' (by Ramananda Sharma).[9] and they married with and were identified with the Bengali Vaidya Brahmins (also known as "Ambasthas' in Bengal) in different Kulaji(family-tree accounts) texts.[10]


Edilpur Copperplate

A copperplate was found in the Adilpur or Edilpur pargana of Faridpur District in 1838 A.D. and was acquired by the Asiatic Society of Bengal, but now the copperplate is missing from collection. An account of the copperplate was published in the Dacca Review and Epigraphic Indica. The copperplate inscription is written in Sanskrit and in Ganda character, and dated 3rd jyaistha of 1136 samval, or 1079 A.D. In the Asiatic Society’s proceeding for January 1838, an account of the copperplate states that three villages were given to a Brahman in the third year of Kaesava Sana. The grant was given with the landlord rights, which include the power of punishing the chandrabhandas or Sundarbans, a race that lived in the forest.[11] The land was granted in the village of Leliya in the Kumaratalaka mandala, which is situated in shatata-padamavati-visaya. The copperplate of Kaesava Sana records that the king Vallal Sena carried away, from the enemies, the goddesses of fortune on palanquins (Shivaka), which elephant tusk staff supported; and also states that Vallal Sena's son, Lakshman Sena (1179–1205), erected pillars of victory and sacrificial posts at Benaras, Allahbad, and Adon Coast of the South Sea. The copperplate also describes the villages with smooth fields growing excellent paddy, the dancing and music in ancient Bengal, and ladies adorned with blooming flowers. The Edilpur copperplate of Kaesava Sena records that the king made a grant in favor of Nitipathaka Isvaradeva Sarman for the inscae of the subha-varsha.


The Sena rulers consolidated the caste system in Bengal. Although Bengal borrowed from the caste system of Mithila, caste was not so strong in Bengal as in Mithila.[12]


The Sena dynasty is famous for building Hindu temples and monasteries, which include the renowned Dhakeshwari Temple in what is now Dhaka, Bangladesh. In Kashmir, the dynasty also likely built a temple, which is ascribed to a Gaureshwara or Ballala Sena.[13]


The Sena rulers were also great patrons of literature. During the Pala dynasty and the Sena dynasty, major growth in Bengali was witnessed. Some Bengali authors believe that Jayadeva, the famous Sanskrit poet and author of Gita Govinda, was one of the Pancharatnas (five gems) in the court of Lakshman Sen. Dhoyin - himself an eminent court poet of Sena dynasty - mentions nine gems (ratna) in the court of Lakshmana Sen, among whom were:

  • 1. Govardhana
  • 2. Sarana
  • 3. Jayadeva
  • 4. Umapati
  • 5. Dhoyi/ Dhoyin Kaviraja[14]


After the Sena dynasty, the Deva dynasty ruled in eastern Bengal. The Deva dynasty was probably the last independent Hindu dynasty of Bengal.

The Sen rulers[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The History of the Bengali Language by Bijay Chandra Mazumdar p.50
  2. ^ Land of Two Rivers: A History of Bengal from the Mahabharata to Mujib by Nitish K. Sengupta p.51
  3. ^ Ancient India by Ramesh Chandra Majumdar p.320
  4. ^ a b The Cambridge Shorter History of India p.10
  5. ^ B.P. Sinha in George E. Somers, Dynastic History Of Magadha, p.214, Abhinav Publications, 1977, New Delhi, ISBN 81-7017-059-1
  6. ^ Ancient India by Ramesh Chandra Majumdar p.320
  7. ^ Reddy. Indian History. p. A234. 
  8. ^ John Muir. Original Sanskrit Texts on the Origin and History of the People of India, Their Religion and Institutions, Vol 2. 
  9. ^ Ronald. B. Inden. Marriage and Rank in Bengali Culture : A History of Caste and Clan in Middle Period Bengal. p. 60. 
  10. ^ D.C. Sircar. Studies in the religious life of ancient and medieval India. p. 216. 
  11. ^ Hunter, William Wilson (1875), "A statistical account of Bengal, Volume 1", Google Books, Edinburgh: Murry and Gibbs, retrieved 2009-10-03 
  12. ^ Momtazur Rahman Tarafdar, "Itihas O Aitihasik", Bangla Academy Dhaka, 1995
  13. ^ P. 142, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Volume 34, Part 1, Issues 1-4, By Asiatic Society of Bengal
  14. ^ R.C. Majumdar (ed.). The History of Bengal, vol I (Hindu Period). Lohanipur. 


  • Early History of India 3rd and revised edition by Vincent A Smith

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Pala dynasty
Bengal dynasty Succeeded by
Deva dynasty