Bhima I

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Bhima I
King of Gurjara
Reign c. 1022–1064 CE
Predecessor Durlabharaja
Successor Karna
Spouse Udayamati
Issue Mularaja, Kshemaraja and Karna
dynasty Chaulukya (Solanki)
Father Nagaraja
Bhima I is located in India
Bhima I
Bhima I
Bhima I
Find spots of inscriptions issued during the reign of Bhima I[1]

Bhima I (r. c. 1022–1064 CE) was an Indian king who ruled parts of present-day Gujarat. He was a member of the Chaulukya (also called Chalukya or Solanki) dynasty.

The early years of Bhima's reign saw an invasion from the Ghaznavid ruler Mahmud, who sacked the Somnath temple. Bhima left his capital and took shelter in Kanthkot during this invasion. After Mahmud's departure, he recovered his power and retained all the territories he had inherited. He crushed a rebellion by his vassals at Arbuda, and unsuccessfully tried to invade the Naddula Chahamana kingdom. Towards the end of his reign, he formed an alliance with the Kalachuri king Lakshmi-Karna, and played an important role in the downfall of the Paramara king Bhoja.

The earliest of the Dilwara Temples and the Modhera Sun Temple were built during Bhima's reign. The construction of Rani ki vav is also attributed to his queen Udayamati.

Early life[edit]

Bhima's father Nagaraja was a son of the Chaulukya king Chamunda-raja. Chamunda was succeeded by Nagaraja's brothers, Vallabha-raja and Durlabha-raja, in that order. Both Vallabha and Durlabha died childless. According to the 12th century author Hemachandra, Durlabha was very fond of his nephew Bhima, and appointed Bhima as his successor before his death. Durlabha and Nagaraja died soon after Bhima's ascension to throne.[2]

Military career[edit]

Ghaznavid invasion[edit]

Ruins of the original Somnath temple, 1869

Early during his reign, Bhima faced an invasion from Mahmud of Ghazni, whose plunder of the Somnath temple has been described in detail by the medieval Muslim historians. According to Ali ibn al-Athir, Mahmud started out from Ghazni on 18 October 1025. At Multan, he planned his march in detail and gathered supplies. He left Multan on 26 November, with a large army well-equipped to cross the Thar desert, and reached the Chaulukya capital in December 1025 CE.[3]

According to the Muslim accounts, Bhima fled his capital Anahilapataka (called Nahrwala by the medieval Muslim historians). He took shelter in Kanthkot, allowing Mahmud to enter the Chaulukya capital unopposed. Mahmud's sudden invasion, coupled with the lack of any fortifications in Anahilapataka, may have forced Bhima to his capital. Other residents of the city also appear to have evacuated it, as the Muslim historians do not mention any massacre or looting in the Chaulukya capital.[4]

Mahmud rested at Anahilapataka for a few days, replenished his supplies, and then left for Somnath. A relatively small force of 20,000 soldiers unsuccessfully tried to check Mahmud's advance at Modhera. Historian A. K. Majumdar theorizes that the Modhera Sun Temple, which was constructed during 1026-1027 CE, might have been built to commemorate this defence.[5]

Sun Temple, Modhera was constructed around a year after Mahmud's invasion

Mahmud then advanced to Delvada. Although the town surrendered without offering any resistance, Mahmud massacred all its residents. Finally, Mahmud's army reached Somnath on 6 January 1026 CE. The Muslim historians suggest that the town was well-defended, probably by a fort guarding the temple. According to Abu Sa'id Gardezi, the commander of the defending force fled to a nearby island. Other defenders put up a resistance, but Mahmud managed to capture the fort by 8 January.[6] Mahmud then desecrated the temple, and looted a huge amount of wealth including jewels and silver idols.[7]

During his return journey, Mahmud came to know that a powerful Hindu king named Param Dev had gathered a large army to fight him. Gardezi, in his Kitab Zainu'l-Akhbar (c. 1048 CE), states that Mahmud chose to avoid any confrontation with this king. The invader was carrying back a large amount of looted wealth, which might have been his motivation behind avoiding a battle. Mahmud decided to return via Mansura in Sindh, although the route connecting Gujarat and Sindh was more dangerous than the desert route to Multan. Later Muslim historians also mention this incident.[8] The 16th century historian Firishta identified Param Dev with Bhima I, calling him the king of Nahrwala. Historian A. K. Majumdar agrees with this identification, arguing that "Param" might be a Muslim mistranscription of "Bhima".[9] Scholars who are critical of this theory identify Param dev with the Paramara king Bhoja, who ruled the neighbnouring territory of Malwa. K. N. Seth and Mahesh Singh point out that Bhima had ascended the throne recently, and was not a powerful ruler at the time of Mahmud's raid. In fact, as attested by the Muslim historians, he had fled his capital and hid in Kanthkot. The Muslim historians before Firishta, such as Gardezi and Nizamuddin Ahmad, mention the king of Nahrwala and Param Dev as two distinct kings. Unlike Bhima, Bhoja was a powerful and famous ruler at that time. Bhoja was also a Shaivite, and according to the Udaipur Prashasti, had constructed a temple dedicated to Somnath (an aspect of Shiva). Thus Mahmud's desecration of the Somnath temple in Gujarat would have motivated Bhoja to lead an army against him. Based on these evidences, several scholars identify Param Dev with Bhoja. "Param Dev" is probably a corruption of "Paramara-Deva" or of Bhoja's titles Paramabhattakara-Parameshvara.[10][11]

Invasion of Sindh[edit]

According to the 12th century scholar Hemachandra, who was patronized by the Chaulukyas, Bhima defeated Hammuka, a ruler of Sindh. This claim has also been repeated by the 14th century chronicler Merutunga. Hemachandra's account of Bhima's war against Sindh goes like this: one day Bhima's spies told him that the kings of Andhra, Pundra and Magadha obeyed him. On the other hand, Hammuka (the king of Sindhu, that is, Sindh) and Karna (the king of Chedi) not only refused to acknowledge his supremacy, but also defamed him. Bhima then marched to Sindh, bridging and crossing the Indus river in the process. He defeated Hammuka, who was forced to acknowledge his supremacy. Later, he also defeated Karna.[12]

According to the epic Mahabharata, the legendary hero Bhima defeated two other warriors: Jayadratha (the king of Sindhu Kingdom) and Karna. Hemachandra's poetic account compares Bhima I to his legendary namesake, because the Chaulukya king had also defeated the king of Sindhu and Karna (the king of Chedi).[13]

There is no epigraphic evidence of Bhima having defeated the king of Sindh. In absence of any corroborating evidence, the historical accuracy of this account is uncertain. Historian A. K. Majumdar theorizes that Hammuka might have been a descendant of the Saindhava dynasty of Sindh. This dynasty is known to have last ruled Sindh in 919 CE. Like Hammuka, the names of its rulers ended in -ka: Ranaka, Jaika and Agguka.[13]

Paramaras of Arbuda[edit]

The Paramara branch of Arbuda (Abu) had been feudatories of the Chaulukyas since Mularaja's reign. However, sometime before 1031 CE, the Abu Paramara ruler Dhandhuka rebelled against Bhima. Bhima defeated him, and appointed Vimala as the new dandapati (governor) of Arbuda.[13] Vimala commissioned the shrine of Adinatha at Mount Abu in 1031 CE, so Dhandhuka's rebellion must have happened before this year.[14]

Dhandhuka took shelter with Bhoja, the Paramara king of Malwa. According to Jinaprabha Suri's Tirtha Kalpa, Bhima later restored Dhandhuka as his vassal.[14]

A 1042 CE inscription of Dhandhuka's son Purnapala states that was ruling over Arbuda-mandala as a Maharajadhiraja ("king of great kings"), after having defeated his enemy. This suggests that the Paramaras of Arbuda may have again rebelled against Bhima's authority.[13] However, the area was back under Bhima's control by 1062 CE, as attested by an inscription of Vimala.[15]

Paramaras of Bhinmal[edit]

Bhima defeated and imprisoned Krishna-deva, a ruler of the Paramara branch of Bhinmal. However, the Naddula Chahamanas defeated Bhima, and freed Krishna-deva. This is attested by the Sundha Hill inscription of the Chahamanas. Subsequently, Krishna-deva ruled independent of Bhima; his inscriptions describe him as a Maharajadhiraja.[15]

Chahamanas of Naddula[edit]

The Chahamanas of Naddula ruled the territory to the north of the Chaulukya kingdom. According to their Sundha Hill inscription, the Chahamana king Ahila defeated Bhima.[15] Ahila probably repulsed an invasion from Bhima.[16]

The Sundha Hill inscription as well as another Chahamana inscription state that the later king Anahilla also defeated the elephant force of Bhima. Anahilla is also said to have destroyed Bhima's army and captured a large part of his territory. His sons Balaprasada and Jendraraja also took part in the war against Bhima. Balaprasada forced Bhima to release Krishna-deva (the Paramara ruler of Bhimal) from the prison. Jendraraja defeated Bhima's force at Shanderaka (modern Sanderao).[17]

The location of the battles suggests that Bhima was the aggressor in this war, and the Chahamanas repulsed his invasion. The war continued during the reign of Bhima's successor Karna.[18]

Paramaras of Malwa[edit]

Bhima formed an alliance with the Kalachuri king Lakshmi-Karna, and played a significant role in the downfall of Bhoja, the Paramara dynasty of Malwa. This achievement has been recorded by several Chaulukya chroniclers and inscriptions.[18]

The most detailed account of the rivalry between Bhima and Bhoja is given by the 14th century chronicler Merutunga. However, it is hard to separate the historical truth from fiction in Merutunga's legendary account, which goes like this: Bhima and Bhoja were initially friends, but Bhoja made a plan to invade Gujarat. When Bhima's spy informed him about Bhoja's plan, Bhima sent his ambassador Damara to Bhoja's court. Damara instigated Bhoja to attack the Chalukyas of Kalyani, who had killed the earlier Paramara ruler Munja. Thus, Damara managed to divert Bhoja's attention away from Bhima's kingdom. While Bhoja was facing a war with the Kalyani Chalukyas, Damara lied to him that Bhima had also started a march against him. This worried Bhoja, who begged Damara to convince Bhima to abandon his march towards Malwa. Damara agreed to do so if Bhoja gifted Bhima an elephant couple, which Bhoja did.[19]

Merutunga further states that while Bhima was engaged in a war against the king of Sindh, Bhoja's digambara general Kulachandra sacked the Chaulukya capital Anahilapataka. Subsequently, Merutunga mentions several incidents that suggest that the two kings maintained diplomatic ties. One day, while Bhoja was worshipping his family deity at a temple on the outskirts of his capital Dhara, the goddess warned him that he was surrounded by enemy soldiers. Bhoja was nearly killed by the Gujarati soldiers Aluya and Koluya, but managed to escape.[19]

Merutunga finally describes Bhoja's death as follows: One day, the Kalachuri king Karna challenged Bhoja to a war or a temple-building contest. Bhoja chose the second option, and lost the contest to Karna. However, Bhoja refused to acknowledge Karna's supremacy. As a result, Karna invaded Malwa from the east, supported by 136 vassals. He also asked Bhima to invade Malwa from the east. Bhoja died of a disease, as these two kings invaded his kingdom. After his death, Karna captured his capital and all his wealth.[20]

According to Merutunga, it was Karna who captured Dhara after Bhoja's death. Other Chaulukya chroniclers claim that Bhima captured Dhara. It is possible that Bhima raided Dhara at a later date.[21] One particular chronicle Kirti-Kaumudi claims that Bhima captured Bhoja, but generously released him and spared his life. This is not corroborated by historical evidence.[22]

Kalachuris of Tripuri[edit]

Bhima and the Kalachuri king Lakshmi-Karna remained allies until Bhoja's death. Subsequently, there seems to have been a dispute between them over sharing the spoils of their victory. The Chaulukya chroniclers claim that Bhima subdued Karna easily, but such claims are of little historical value. The 12th century writer Hemachandra claims that Bhima sent his ambassador Damodara to Karna, demanding his share of the Paramara assets. Damodara's description of Bhima's power scared Karna, who started started praising Bhima and gifted him Bhoja's golden throne. The 14th century chronicler Merutunga claims that Bhima demanded half of Bhoja's kiingdom from Karna. When Karna refused, Bhima's ambassador Damara entered Karna's palace with 32 foot soldiers and abducted Karna as the Kalachuri king slept. Karna ultimately made peace by surrendering a golden shrine to Bhima.[23]

These accounts by the Chaulukya chroniclers appear to be historically inaccurate, as Karna was too powerful to be subdued by an ambassador of Bhima. Hemachandra does not mention Bhima's conflict with Bhoja at all, and the Bhima's allies named by him in the struggle against Karna are all fictitious. Merutunga's account seems to be derived partly from Hemachandra's Dvyashraya and partly from Kirti-Kaumudi.[23]

That said, there is some historical evidence of a conflict between Bhima and Karna. Karna's Rewa stone inscription claims that when he approached the Gurjara country (that is, Bhima's kingdom of Gujarat), the Gurjara women shed tears and became widows. It is possible that Bhima gained some advantage over Karna, after the Kalachuris were decisively defeated by the Kalyani Chalukya king Someshvara I.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Popular tradition attributes the construction of Rani ki vav to Bhima's queen Udayamati

Bhima's queen was Udayamati. According to Hemachandra, he had three sons: Mularaja, Kshemaraja, and Karna. Mularaja died during Bhima's lifetime, and Kshemaraja rejected the throne. As a result, Karna succeeded Bhima.[25]

Merutunga, on the other hand, states that Bhima's three sons were Mularaja, Karna and Haripala. Of these, Haripala was born of a courtesan named Bakuladevi. Historian A. K. Majumdar theorizes that Merutunga's account appears to be more accurate, since voluntary rejections of thrones were very rare. Hemachandra, who was a royal courtier, probably wanted to avoid mentioning the illegitimate son Haripala, and therefore, glossed over the genealogy.[26]

The earliest of the Dilwara Temples and the Modhera Sun Temple were constructed during Bhima's reign. Merutunga credits Udayamati with excavating a reservoir at Anahilapataka; this tank is said to have been better than the Sahastralinga Tank in the town. According to popular tradition, she also commissioned the Rani ki vav step well.[27]

References[edit]

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