The foundations of Rashtrakuta history comprise of ancient literature in the Pali language, medieval inscriptions, the notes of the Arab travelers and contemporaneous literature in Sanskrit and Kannada. Theories concerning the dynastic ancestry (Surya Vamsa- Solar line and Chandra Vamsa-Lunar line), the inhabitant region and the inherited domicile have been planned, founded on information gleaned from writings, royal emblems, the antique tribal names such as "Rashtrika", epithets (Ratta, Rashtrakuta, Lattalura Puravaradhiswara), the names of empirical princes and princesses, and evidences from relics such as coins. Scholars dispute over the ethnic groups the early Rashtrakutas belonged to, the northwestern tribal groups of India, the Maratha, the ethnic tribes from the Punjab region or the Kannadiga, Reddi.
Nevertheless, the scholars agree that the kings of the regal empire in the eighth to tenth century provided vitality to the Kannada language as that attached to the Sanskrit language. The Rashtrakuta writings were typically in two languages- Kannada and Sanskrit and the kings supported literature in both languages. Along with Kannada, the Rashtrakutas also conversed in a northern Deccan language.
The Rashtrakutas realm virtually involved most of Maharashtra, Karnataka and sections of Andhra Pradesh that the dynasty reigned for over two centuries. The Samangadh copper plate grant (753) affirms that the feudatory King Dantidurga, who possibly reigned from Achalapura in Berar (modern Elichpur in Maharashtra), overpowered the enormous Karnatic army (the army of the Chalukyas of Badami) of Kirtivarman II of Badami in 753 and undertook authority of the northern regions of the Chalukya kingdom. Later, he assisted his father-in-law, the Pallava King Nandivarman in order to recapture Kanchi from the Chalukyas and overpowered the Gurjaras of Malwa, and the kings of Kalinga, Kosala and Srisailam.
Krishna I, who ascended the throne after Dantidurga, attained the key portions of present day Karnataka and Konkan under his control. Under the statute of Dhruva Dharavarsha who took charge in 780, the realm prolonged into a domain, enveloping every territory between the Kaveri River and Central India. He directed triumphant missions to Kannauj, the seat of northern Indian power where he conquered the Gurjara Pratiharas and the Palas of Bengal, fetching him renown and a vast plunder but no added territory. He also undertook the Eastern Chalukyas and Gangas of Talakad under his sway. According to a historian, the Rashtrakutas became pan-India dominance under his reign.
The rise of Govinda III, the third son of Dhruva Dharavarsha to the throne indicated an era of triumph like never before. During his reign, a three-way conflict amongst the Rashtrakutas, the Pratiharas and the Palas took place for authority over the Gangetic plains. The Sanjan writings ascribing his triumphs over the Pratihara King Nagabhatta II and the Pala King Dharmapala, state that Govinda III's horses gulped from the icy waters of the Himalayan streams while his war elephants savored the holy water of the Ganga. His martial exploits have been compared to those of the Pandava Arjuna of Mahabharata and Alexander the Great. Subsequent to triumph over Kannauj, Govinda III voyaged the south, attained a solid footing over the Kosala (Kaushal), Gujarat, Gangavadi, mounted a ruler of his choice in Vengi, mellowed down the Pallavas of Kanchi and obtained two sculptures as an act of compliance from the king of Ceylon (one statue of the king and another of his minister).
The Keralas, the Pandyas and the Cholas honored the emperor and as stated by a historian, "the drums of the Deccan were audible from the Himalayan caves to the shores of the Malabar." By now, the Rashtrakuta kingdom had fanned out to the areas from from Cape Comorin to Kannauj and from Benaras to Broach. Amoghavarsha I, the descendant of Govinda III, reigned over a vast empire and sought Manyakheta as his capital. Manyakheta continued to be the imperial capital of the Rashtrakutas until the closing stages of the kingdom. Ascending to the throne in 814, he concealed upheavals from ministers and feudatories until 821. Amoghavarsha I gave away his two daughters in marriage and achieved harmony with the Gangas. He later overpowered the Eastern Chalukyas at Vingavalli and implicit the designation of Viranarayana. Govinda III favored preserving cordial relations with the Gangas, the neighbors, the Eastern Chalukyas and the Pallavas and also set marital knots with them.
Arts, religion and literature flourished during the age of Govinda III. Amoghavarsha I was a proficient scholar in Kannada and Sanskrit and extensively identified as the most celebrated Rashtrakutan kings. A significant milestone in Kannada poetics and Prashnottara Ratnamalika in Sanskrit: Kavirajamarga is a highly acclaimed inscription and was later deciphered into the Tibetan language.
Taking into account the emperor's interest in arts and literature, his religious disposition and compliant personality, he has been paralleled with Emperor Ashoka. The reign of Krishna II witnessed rebellion from the Eastern Chalukyas and the realm was deduced to majority of Gujarat and the Western Deccan. The sovereign status of Gujarat was brought to a close and passed under the unswerving authority from Manyakheta. The empire's affluence was enhanced in Central India with the conquest of Paramara and later occupied the doab region of the Ganges and Jamuna rivers. While maintaining his influence over Vengi, he also overpowered the dynasty's conventional enemies, the Pratiharas and the Palas. As per the 930 copper plate inscription of King Govinda IV, the consequence of his triumphs in Kannauj subsisted for numerous years. Subsequent to a series of feeble kings under whose supremacy the kingdom lost authority of provinces in the north and east, Krishna III the ultimate king merged the empire so as to extending from the Narmada River to Kaveri River and incorporated the northern Tamil country (Tondaimandalam) while offering homage to the king of Ceylon.
The Paramara King Siyaka Harsha assailed the kingdom and ransacked Manyakheta, the capital of Rastrakutas under the reign of Khottiga Amoghavarsha. It shook the standing of the Rastrakuta Empire and resulted in its collapse. The concluding decline was unexpected as Tailapa II, a feudatory of the Rashtrakuta reigning from Tardavadi region in contemporary Bijapur district, declared himself autonomous by taking advantage of this conquer.The last king Indra IV committed Sallekhana (fast unto death adept by Jain monks) at Shravanabelagola. The feudatories and related clans in the Deccan and northern India declared autonomy with the collapse of the Rashtrakutas. The Western Chalukyas seized Manyakheta and made it their capital until 1015 and constructed a remarkable domain in the Rashtrakuta nucleus in the eleventh century. The hub of supremacy transferred to the Krishna River- Godavari River doab termed as Vengi. The former feudatories of the Rashtrakutas in western Deccan were passed under the authority of the Chalukyas and thus concealed Cholas of Tanjore turned into their archenemies in the south.
Towards the end, mount of the Rashtrakutas of Manyakheta presented a great impact on India. Al Masudi (944), Sulaiman (851) and Ibn Khurdadba (912) inscribed that the kingdom was the leading empire in contemporary India. Moreover, Sulaiman termed it as one amongst the four immense modern dominions of the world. As the Rashtrakutas effectively conquered Kannauj, presented themselves as masters of Northern India and paid homage to its monarchs, the epoch could also be termed as the "Age of Imperial Karnataka". Certain historians have also termed these times an "Age of Imperial Kannauj".
During their political extension into central and northern India in the eighth to the tenth centuries, the Rashtrakutas or their relatives shaped several kingdoms that either reigned during the supremacy of the parent empire or sustained to statute for centuries after the its fall or came to power much later. Well known among these were the Rashtrakutas of Gujarat (757-888), the Rattas of Saundatti (875-1230) in modern Karnataka, the Gahadavalas of Kannauj (1068-1223), the Rashtrakutas of Rajasthan (known as Rajputana) and ruling from Hastikundi or Hathundi (893-996), Dahal (near Jabalpur), Mandore (near Jodhpur), the Rathores of Dhanop, Rashtraudha dynasty of Mayuragiri in modern Maharashtra and Rashtrakutas of Kannauj.
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