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Vallabhi (or Valabhi, modern Vala) is an ancient city located in the Saurashtra peninsula of Gujarat, near Bhavnagar in western India. It is also known as Vallabhipura, and was the capital of the ancient Maitraka Dynasty.
Legend states that a Kshatriya named Vijayasena founded the city around the third century. The Maitrakas ruled the peninsula and parts of southern Rajasthan from Vallabhi from the fifth to the eighth centuries. They are descendants of General Bhatarka, a military governor of the Saurashtra peninsula at the time of Gupta ruler Skandagupta (455-467).
The first two Maitraka rulers, Bhatarka and Dharasena I, only used the title of Senapati (general). The third ruler, Dronasimha, declared himself Maharaja (literally "Great King"). King Guhasena came after him. Unlike his predecessors, the king stopped using the term Paramabhattaraka Padanudhyata alongside his name, a term that denotes nominal allegiance to the Gupta overlords. He was succeeded by his son Dharasena II, who used the title Mahadhiraja. The next ruler was his son, Siladitya-I Dharmaditya, who was described by a Chinese scholar and traveller Xuanzang as a "monarch of great administrative ability and of rare kindness and compassion". Siladitya I was succeeded by his younger brother Kharagraha I.
During the time of Kharagraha I, a virdi copperplate grant was found from 616 CE that shows that his territories included Ujjain. During the reign of the next ruler, his son Dharasena III, north Gujarat was assimilated into the kingdom. Dharasena II was succeeded by another son of Kharagraha I, Dhruvasena II, Baladitya. He married the daughter of Harshavardhana and their son Dharasena IV assumed the imperial titles of Paramabhattaraka Mahrajadhiraja Parameshvara Chakravartin and Sanskrit poet Bhatti was his court poet. The next powerful ruler of this dynasty was Siladitya III. After him, Siladitya V ruled, and it is suspected that during his reign, there was an Arab Invasion. The last known ruler of the dynasty was Siladitya VII.
Vallabhi was a noted center of the Jains. It was here in 453 or 466 CE that the Vallabhi council of the Jains produced the religious canon (Jain Agams) in writing under the leadership of the all Jain Acharya Shraman Devardhigani along with other 500 Jain Acharyas. The idols of each of them is present in the basement of the Jain temple.
However, when the Chinese traveller Xuanzang visited Vallabhi during the second quarter of 7th century, he found its ruler to be a Buddhist follower. When Yijing, another Chinese traveller, visited Vallabhi in the last quarter of 7th century, he found the city as a great centre of learning Jainism along with Buddhism. Gunamati and Sthiramati are stated to be two famous Buddhist scholars of Vallabhi at the middle of seventh century.
Vallabhi was noted for its religious liberalism and students from all over the country, including the Brahmana boys. It was visited to obtain higher education in secular and religious subjects and the graduates of Vallabhi were said to have been given higher executive posts.
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