Kumarapala (Solanki king)

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This article is about Solanki king. For the Pala king, see Kumarapala (Pala king).
King of Gujarat
Reign 1143-1172 (29 years)
Predecessor Jayasimha Siddharaja
Born Dadhisthali (now Dethali near Sidhpur)
Dynasty Chalukyas of Gujarat
Father Tribhuvanpala
Religion Jainism

Kumarapala (r. 1143 – 1172 CE) was an Indian king from the Chalukya (Solanki) dynasty of Gujarat. He ruled the present-day Gujarat and surrounding areas, from his capital Anahilapataka (modern Patan). He was a disciple of the Jain scholar Hemachandra, and is best remembered in Jain chronicles as a great patron of Jainism.


Sources of information[edit]

Kumarapala was well-known for his patronage of Jainism, and several Jain scholars wrote chronicles about him. These scolars include Hemachandra (Dvyashraya and Mahaviracharita), Prabhachandra, Somaprabha (Kumarapala-Pratibodha), Merutunga (Prabandha Chintamani), Jayasimha Suri, Rajashekhara and Jina-Mandana Suri, among others. Of all the Indian kings, the largest number of chronicles have been written about Kumarapala. However, these chronicles differ substantially in important details about his life.[1]


All sources state that Kumarapala was the successor of Jayasimha Siddharaja, who was his relative and hated him.[2][3]

According to Hemachandra, Kumarapala was a descendant of the earlier Chalukya king Bhima I through Kshemaraja, Devaprasada and Tribhuvanapala. Kshemaraja renounced his rights to the throne, and retired to Dadhisthali as an ascetic. Bhima's successor was his younger son Karna. Karna sent Keshmaraja's son Devaprasada to look after him. After Karna's death, his son Jayasimha became the new king. When Devaprasada learned about Karna's death, he sent his son Tribhuvanapala to Jayasimha's court and committed suicide. Kumarapala was Tribhuvanapala's son, and succeeded Jayasimha.[1]

Jayasimha Suri also provides a similar genealogy. He mentions some additional details: Kshemaraja and Karna were Bhima's sons by different women; and Kumarapala was the eldest son of Tribhuvanapala and Kashmiradevi.[4] The genealogy given by Somaprabha and Prabhachandra is similar to the one provided by Hemachandra, but Prabhachandra omits the name of Kshemaraja.[1]

According to Merutugna, Kumarapala was a descendant of Bhima I thorugh Haripala and Tribhuvanapala. Haripala was a son of Bhima and Bakuladevi. Merutunga's genealogy is historically inaccurate, as the fragmentary Chittorgarh inscription corroborates Hemachandra's genealogy. Jina-Mandana Suri attempted to reconcile Merutunga's account with Jayasimha Suri's account. According to him, Kshemaraja's mother was Bakuladevi and Karna's mother was Udayamati. Bhima gave his kingdom to his younger son Karna, to please his younger wife Udayamati.[5]

Multiple chroniclers state that Kumarapala's brother-in-law Krishna-deva served as Jayasimha's general. According to Prabhachandra, Kumarapala's brother Kirtipala also served as Jayasimha's general, in an expedition against Navaghana.[4]

Early life and ascension[edit]

Kumarapala's contemporary chronicler Hemachandra does not mention anything about the king's life before his ascension to the throne. This is unusual, because Hemachandra's narratives about other kings of the dynasty describe their early lives. Historian Ashoke Majumdar theorized that this might be because Hemachandra played a significant role in Kumarapala's early life, as mentioned by later chroniclers.[2] Yashahpala, another contemporary writer, provides a hint about the king's early life in his drama Maharaja-Parajaya. In this play, a character states that Kumarapala "wandered alone through the whole world", suggesting that the king spent his early life wandering away from the royal court.[6]

Prabhachandra provides the following account of Kumarapala's early life: One day, Jayasimha Siddharaja learned through divination that Kumarapala would be his successor. This made Jayasimha very angry, because he hated Kumarapala. Fearing for his life, Kumarapala fled the kingdom in form of a mendicant. Sometime later, Jayasimha's spies told him that Kumarapala had returned to the capital disguised as an ascetic. Jayasimha then invited 300 ascetics to a fest, and washed their feet in order to identify Kumarapala (who had royal marks on his feet). Kumarapala was recognized, but fled to Hemachandra's house before he could be arrested. Jayasimha's men followed him, but Hemachandra hid him under palm leaves. After leaving Hemachandra's house, Kumarapala was similarly saved by a farmer named Āli. He then went to Khambhat, accompanied by a Brahmin named Bosari. There, he sought shelter with a rich man named Udayana, who turned him away to avoid enmity with the king Jayasimha. Fortunately for Kumarapala, Hemachandra had also arrived at a Jain monastery in Khambhat. Hemachandra gave him food and shelter, and predicted that he would become the king after 7 years. The Jain scholar also took 3,200 drammas (gold conis) from a Jain layman, and gave them to Kumarapala. Subsequently, Kumarapala spent years traveling as a Kapalika ascetic, before being joined by his wife Bhopaladevi and their children. When Jayasimha died, Kumarapala returned to the capital and met Hemachandra. The next day, he arrived at the royal palace, accompanied by his brother-in-law Krishna-deva, who commanded 10,000 horses. There, he was proclaimed as the new king after two other claimants were rejected.[7]

Merutunga mentions a similar legend: Some astrologers told Jayasimha that Kumarapala would succeed him. To escape Jayasimha's anger, Kumarapala spent many years in foreign lands, disguised as an ascetic. Subsequently, he returned to the capital Anahilapataka, and lived in a monastery. One day, Jayasimha invited several monks and washed their feet on the occasion of his father's shraddha (a ceremony for the deceased ancestors). Kumarapala was recognized, but managed to escape. He was saved by a potter named Āliga, took 20 silver coins from a mouse, and was given food by an unnamed rich lady. Later, Kumarapala reached Khambhat, planning to seek resources from the royal minister Udayana. He learned that Udayana had gone to a Jain monastery, and followed him there. At the monastery, he met Hemachandra, who prophesized that Kumarapala will become a monarch in 1199 VS. Kumarapala was astonished at this prophecy, and promised to become a Jain if it came true. Udayana then arranged for Kumarapala to travel to Malava. In Malava, Kumarapala saw an inscription at the Kudangeshvara temple, predicting his ascension to the throne in 1199 VS. After Jayasimha's death, Kumarapala returned to Anahilapataka, and visited his sister's husband Kanhada-deva. The next morning, he arrived at the royal palace, accompanied by Kanhada's army. After rejecting two princes, Kanhada appointed Kumarapala as the new king.[8]

Jayasimha Suri provides a slightly different account: Kumarapala lived at Dadhisthali, where his great-grandfather had retired. Once, he came to Anahilapataka, where he received a sermon from Hemachandra, before returning to Dadhisthali. Jayasimha Siddharaja, who was childless, was devastated when Hemachandra predicted that Kumarapala would succeed him as the king. He got Kumarapala's father Tribhuvanapala murdered. Kumarapala sought advice from his brother-in-law Krishna-deva, who told him to leave Dadisthali in a mendicant's disguise. Kumarapala followed the advice, by returned to the capital sometime later. When Jayasimha learned about this, he invited all the mendicants to his father's shraddha ceremony, and recognized Kumarapala while washing his feet. Kumarapala managed to escape. He was saved by a farmer named Bhimasimha, took money from a mouse, was given food by a woman named Devashri, and was again saved by a potter named Sajjana. Next, he met his friend Bosari and the two went to the monastery at Khambhat. At the monastery, Hemachandra told Udayana that Kumarapala would become the king one day. He also saved Kumarapala from Jayasimha's spies. With help from Udayana, Kumarapala then traveled to Bharuch. From there, he proceeded to Ujjain, Kollapura, Kanchi, and finally Kolambapattana. There, the deity Somanatha appeared in the dream of the local king Pratapasimha, and ordered him to help Kumarapala. After spending some days in Kollambapattana, Kumarapala returned to Ujjain, where he read the prophecy about his future kingship at the Kundageshvara temple. Next, he visited Chittor with his family. As the date of his prophesized kingship (1199 VS) came closer, he returned to Anahilapataka. Shortly after, Jayasimha died, and Kumarapala reached the palace with Krishna-deva. There, he was made the king after two other claimants were found unsuitable. His sister Premaladevi performed the mangalika, and Udayana's son Vagabhata was made an amatya (minister).[9]

Jina-Mandana Suri's account of Kumarapala's early life is largely borrowed from the earlier chroncilers.[10] But it does contain some original elements: for example, Kumarapala does not go to Hemachandra; rather, Hemachandra realizes that he is nearby, by sensing some signs indicating presence of a prince, such as "a lizard dancing on a serpent's head".[11] Abul Fazl also states that Kumarapala lived in exile fearing for his life, and returned to the capital only after the death of Jai Singh (that is, Jayasimha).[10]

The contemporary Muslim historian Muhammad Aufi mentioned a king called Rai Gurpal (of Nahrawala), who surpassed all other kings of Hindustan in good qualities. According to Aufi, Gurpal spent many years as a mendicant and suffered "all the miseries of travel", before he became a king. Historian Ashoke Majumdar identifies Gurpal with Kumarapala.[10]

The historicity of these legendary narratives is debatable, but it is known that Kumarapala seized the throne after sudden death of Jayasimha. This is known from two inscriptions dated to Kumarapala's reign: the 1145 CE Mangrol inscription issued by his Guhila feudatory, and the 1169 CE Veraval prasasti inscription issued by the Shaivite priest Bhava Brihaspati.[12] Jayasimha's only known male descendant was his daughter's son, the Chahamana prince Someshvara. Someshvara was too young to become a king at that time, and Kumarapala may have seized the throne with the support of powerful persons, including his brother-in-law Krishna-deva (Kanhada-deva) and rich Jains such as Udayana.[13] There might be some truth to Kumarapala's wanderings during his early years as well. But the greater part of the legendary narratives appears to be fanciful.[14]

The Jain chronicles mention that Kumarapala ascended the throne in 1199 VS (1042 CE). However, this is known to be inaccurate: a 1200 VS (1043 CE) inscription of Jayasimha has been found at Bali in Pali district of Rajasthan. The inaccuracy appears to have resulted from the later chroniclers' misinterpretation of Hemachandra's Mahaviracharita. In this text, Mahavira tells Hemachandra that Kumarapala will become a king when 1669 years have passed after his death. This implies that Kumarapala became the king after the end of the year 1199 VS, that is in 1200 VS.[12]

Military career[edit]

According to Merutunga, the ministers who had served Jayasimha tried to have the newly-crowned Kumarapala assassinated. But Kumarapala survived after being forewarned by a loyal servant, and had the conspirators killed. Sometime later, his brother-in-law Kanhada-deva, who had played an important role in his ascension, started making fun of him by divulging secrets from his days as a mendicant. Kumarapala warned him stop doing this, but Kanhada didn't comply with this request. As a result, Kumarapala had his limbs paralyzed by wrestlers and also blinded him. After this incident, all the officers and samantas (feudatories) started treating the new king with respect.[15]


Arnoraja, the Shakambhari Chahamana king, ruled the Sapadalaksha country to the north of Kumarapala's kingdom. His wife was a daughter of Jayasimha Siddharaja, and their son Someshvara had been brought up at the Chalukya court. Shortly after Kumarapala became the Chalukya king, there was a conflict between Arnoraja and Kumarapala.[16] Despite this, Kumarapala treated Someshvara well. According to the Chahamana chroncile Prithviraja-Vijaya, Kumarapala (literally "Boy Protector") became worthy of his name through his treatment of Someshvara.[17]

The various chroniclers differ about the cause of the conflict between Kumarapala and Arnoraja:[16]

  • According to Hemachandra, Arnoraja started this conflict by suddenly attacking Kumarapala. During this invasion, he was helped by a number of allies. Prabachandra, on the other hand, claims that it was Kumarapala who started the conflict by wanting to subdue the arrogant Arnoraja.
  • Merutunga states that the conflict was caused by Chahada, an adopted son of Jayasimha Siddharaja. Chahada felt insulted by Kumarapala, went to Sapdalaksha. There he bribed the king and his feudatories, and instigated them to attack Kumarapala.
  • The later chroniclers Jayasimha Suri, Rajashekhara and Jina-Mandana state that Arnoraja once insulted Jains while playing chess with his wife Devalladevi. Devalladevi, a devout Jain and a sister of Kumarapala, asked her brother to avenge this insult.

The different chroniclers also differ about the results of the conflict:[18]

  • According to Hemachandra's Dvyashraya, Arnoraja was defeated in the battle. He concluded a peace treaty by arranging the marriage of his daughter Jahlana to Kumarapala.
  • Prabachandra states that Kumarapala's army unsuccessfully besieged Arnoraja's capital Ajayameru 11 times. Before launching the 12th campaign, Kumarapala prayed Ajitanatha on his minister's advice. This time, he defeated Arnoraja, whose ally included Jayasimha's adopted son Charubhata.
  • According to Merutunga, Jayasimha's adopted son Chahada managed to win over a large part of Kumarapala's army. As a result, Kumarapala was betrayed by several of his own soldiers on the battlefield. Despite this, he won the battle. Chahada was captured, after he fell to ground while trying to jump on Kumarapala's elephant, Kalahapancanana. Kumarapala also wounded Arnoraja with an iron dart, and captured the horses of the Chahamana generals.
  • The accounts of Prabhachandra, Jayasimha Suri, Rajashekhara and Jina-Mandana are similar to that of Merutunga.

Kumarapala's victory over Arnoraja is corroborated by the Vadnagar prashasti (eulogistic inscription). His 1150 CE Chittorgarh inscription also states that he defeated the king of Shakambhari, devastated the Sapadalaksha country and then set up a camp at Shalipura. The Veraval prashasti also states that Kumarapala defeated the king of Jangala (another name for the Chahamana territory).[19]

Scholars such as Har Bilas Sarda and Asoke Kumar Majumdar have theorized that Kumarapala defeated Arnoraja two times. The first war was caused by Arnoraja's invasion. According to Majumdar, Arnoraja may have planned to replace Kumarapala with his son Someshvara (who was brought up at the Chalukya court). Arnoraja was defeated, and concluded a peace treaty by marrying his daughter to Kumarapala. According to Sarda, the second war was probably caused by Arnoraja's ill-treatment of his wife, who was Kumarapala's sister. Majumdar pointed out that Kumarapala converted to Jainism at a later date, so the legend about his sister getting offended by Arnoraja appears to be historically inaccurate. According to Majumdar, Arnoraja invaded the Chalukya kingdom taking advantage of Kumarapala's involvement in other conflicts.[20]

Vigraharaja IV[edit]

Arnoraja's son Vigraharaja IV launched several expeditions against the Chalukyas to avenge his father's defeat.[21] According to the Bijolia rock inscription, he killed one Sajjana, a feudatory (samanta) of Kumarapala at Chitrakuta (Chittor).[22][23] The Jain author Somatilaka Suri states that Vigraharaja's army captured Sajjana's elephant force. While Vigraharaja was busy fighting at Chittor, Kumarapala tried to create a diversion by besieging Nagor, but lifted the siege after learning about Vigraharaja's victory at Chittor.[22]

Vigraharaja also subdued the Chahamanas of Naddula, who were feudatories of Kumarapala.[24] The Bijolia inscription boasts that he destroyed the enemy cities of Javalipura (Jalore), Pallika (Pali) and Naddula (Nadol). The Naddula ruler subdued by him may have been Alhanadeva.[25]

Vigraharaja also defeated one Kuntapala, who can be identified with a Naddula Chahamana subordinate of Kumarapala.[26]

A Chahamana prashasti (eulogy) boasts that Vigraharaja reduced Kumarapala to a karavalapala (probably the designation of a subordinate officer). This is obviously an exaggeration, but it does appear that Vigraharaja conquered some of Kumarapala's territories.[27]

The Chahamana-Chalukya relations probably became normal after Someshvara became the Chahamana king in later years, possibly with support from Kumarapala.[23]

Paramaras of Abu[edit]

The writings of Prabhachandra, Jayasimha Suri, and Jina-Mandana Suri mention Kumarapala's conflict with Vikramasimha, a ruler of a Paramara branch of Abu. Kumarapala passed through Abu during his march against Arnoraja. Vikramasimha considered Kumarapala an usurper, and made a plan to assassinate him. He invited Kumarapala to dinner at his palace, but Kumarapala sent his officers instead. One of these officers told Kumarapala about Vikramasimha's treacherous plan.[28]

After defeating Arnoraja, Kumarapala returned to Abu, and had Vikramasimha imprisoned. He appointed Vikramasimha's nephew Yashodhavala as the new chief of Abu.[29]

Chahamanas of Naddula[edit]

The Chahamanas of Naddula were Kumarapala's feudatories, and were defeated by Vigraharaja IV. The Naddula Chahaman ruler subdued by Vigrahraja was probably Alhana-deva. Some time between 1152 and 1159 CE, Kumarapala deprived Alhana of his rulership, and appointed his own governor at Naddula. This governor is variously known as Vayajladeva, Vaijalladeva and Vaijaka in the historical records.[29]

After Vigraharaja IV turned his attention away from Naddula as a result of his northern campaigns, Kumarapala probably restored the rulership of Naddula to Alhana. According to a Sundha Hill inscription, the Gurjara king (that is, Kumarapala) sought Alhana's assistance in establishing peace in the hilly areas of Saurashtra. According to a 1171 CE inscription, Alhana's son Kelhana continued to serve Kumarapala as a feudatory.[30]

Last years[edit]

According to Jayasimha Suri, Kumarapala planned to pass on the throne to either his nephew Ajayapala or his grandson Pratapamalla. One day, he asked Hemachandra for advice. Hemachandra recommended Pratapamalla's name, and declared that Ajayapala was not fit to be a king. This conversation was overheard by Hemachandra's disciple Balachandra, who was a childhood friend of Ajayapala. Balachandra informed Ajayapala about the king's plan. Sometime later, Hemachandra died and the grieving Kumarapala fell ill. Before the king could appoint Pratapamalla as his heir, Ajayamala mixed poison in his milk. When Kumarapala realized that he had been poisoned, he asked for the antidote from the royal store. However, Ajayapala had already hidden this antidote, and as a result, Kumarapala died of poisoning.[31]

Other Jain chroniclers such as Rajashekhara and Jina-Mandana give similar accounts of Kumarapala's death. However, these accounts do not appear to be historically accurate. Ajayapala was a follower of Brahmanism, because of which the later Jain chroniclers portrayed him in a negative light. The early Jain chroniclers do not mention him as the murderer of Kumarapala. Moreover, Surathotsava by Someshvara (the priest of Ajayapala's son Bhima) suggests that Ajayapala was a son (not nephew) of Kumarapala.[32]

Kumarapala's body was cremated, and his ashes were immersed at Prayag, at the confluence of Ganga and Yamuna.[33]


Three sons of Udayana, who is said to have helped Kumarapala during his early years, became highly influential and powerful politicians during Kumarapala's reign. These were Vagabhata, Amrabhata and Charubhata.[2] Vagabhata-deva was made a minister, and a man named Āliga was made the chief of council (jyayana-pradhana).[16]


Taranga (Jain Temple), Gujarat (1121 AD) constructed by Kumarapala

Kumarapala was born in a Shaivite family, but started patronizing Jainism at some point in life. The later Jain accounts portray him as the last great royal patron of Jainism,[34] and as a righteous Jain king.[35] During his reign, Jainism became prominent in Gujarat.[36] It is not certain when exactly did Kumarapala adopted the Jain faith. While several legendary chronicles state that he met the Jain scholar Hemachandra early in his life, the historical accuracy of this claim is doubtful.[34]

According to Kumarapala's near-contemporary Somaprabha, the king used to hold religious meetings with Brahmins, but remained unsatisfied with their discussions. One day, his minister Vahada noticed this and told him about Hemachandra. The king requested a meeting with the Jain monk, who later converted him to Jainism. Hemachandra himself gives a similar account in his Mahaviracharita. The later legendary accounts of Kumarapala's conversion to Jainism are too fanciful to be true. For example, Merutunga claims that Hemachandra made the god Shiva appear before Kumarapala at the Somanatha temple. Shiva told Kumarapala that Hemachandra was an incarnation of all the gods. On Hemachandra's advice, Kumarapala gave up the consumption of meat and wine. After return to his capital, Kumarapala took the twelve vows and became a Jain.[37]

The Jain chronicles state that Kumarapala banned animal slaughter, alcohol, gambling and adultery after his conversion to Jainism. However, no extant inscriptions issued by the king announce any such ban. Two inscriptions issued by his feudatories ban animal slaughter on certain days of the month.[38] These are the Ratanpur inscription and the 1152 CE Kiradu inscription.[39]

According to the Jain texts, he was responsible for building a large number of temples in Patan.[40] The temples commissioned by him include the temple at Taranga and Mount Girnar. He also constructed Somnath Temple in Pali, Rajasthan.[41]

Even after his conversion to Jainism, Kumarapala did not stop patronizing Shaivism. Hemachandra himself states that Kumrapala restored the temples of Shiva-Kedaranatha and Somanatha, and also erected the Kumareshvara temple after being told to do so by Shiva in a dream.[39] Although Jain accounts unanimously state that Kumarapala converted to Jainism, none of the king's extant inscriptions invoke Jain deities. Most of his inscriptons began with invocations to Shiva. Even the Ratanpur inscription of his feudatory, which bans animal slaughter in accordance with Jain principles, begins with an invocation to Shankara. The Kiradu inscription also states that Kumarapala achieved his conuests by the grace of Shankara (Shiva). The 1169 CE Veraval prasasti inscription issued by the Shaivite priest Bhava Brihaspati describes Kumarapala as the leader of the rulers who worship Maheshvara (Shiva).[39]

In view of these evidences, historian H. C. Ray theorized that Kumarapala leaned towards Jainism because of financial considerations: he simply wanted to win over the support of rich Jain merchants, who controlled the economy of Gujarat. Ashoke Kumar Majumdar criticized this theory, arguing that the rich merchants in Gujarat probably became Jain after Kumarapala's conversion to Jainism, and because of his attempts to promote Jainism.[37]

According to Hemachandra's Dvyashraya, Kumarapala began his day with blessings from the Brahmins and accepted a tilaka. Later in the day, he visited a Jain temple (named as Kumarapala-Vihara by a commentator). At the temple, he worshipped Parshvanatha. Thus, Hemachandra's writings indicate that Kumarapala did not give up Brahaminical rituals completely. However, the writings of the later Jain writers suggest that Kumarapala was completely devoted to Jainism. For example:[42]

  • Jina-Mandana states that Kumarapala stopped worshipping the Brahmanical idols.
  • Somaprabha, writing around a decade after Kumarapala's death, claims that the king recited Jain mantras and the Pancha Namaskara prayer after waking up. After meditating and taking a bath, he worshipped Jain images. Time permitting, he visited the Kumarapala-Vihara and perform the Jain eightfold worship there. After this, he visited Hemachandra and listen to his teachings. At noon, the king had lunch only after he offered food to the Jain deities. After this, he discussed religion and philosophy with an assembly of learned men, and then attended his court.

It is possible that Kumarapala gave up the Brahminical rituals during the last years of his life. Another possibility is that the later Jain writers made concerted attempts to falsely portray him as a completely devout Jain.[42]


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