(Last Updated on : 27-03-2010)
The name of the Latas as a people must have been known as early as the beginning of the Christian era, if not earlier, and their country Lata or Lata-visaya was well known in Indian history till as late as the seventh and eighth centuries. It is curious, however, that neither the country nor its people are ever mentioned in any of the earlier Puranas, or even in the Epics. It has been referred in history that Latadesa have been a very early name for the territory of Gujarat
and Northern Konkon. In fact it can be said that the name Lardesa probably survived the Hindu period.
The Ceylonese chronicles refer to the country of Lala in connection with the first Aryan migration to Ceylon, led by Prince Vijaya. Attempts have been made to identify Lala both with Lata or Lada in Gujarat, and Radha in Bengal, and both countries claim the honour of the first Aryanization of Ceylonon. Prince Vijaya is described in the chronicles as having been the great-grandson of a princess of Vanga; hence one school of scholars mainly depending on historical evidence proposes to equate Lala with Radha, while the other school finds Lala to be philologically more closely akin to Lata or Lada.
It has been recorded in history that in the days of the early Imperial Guptas, the Lata country came to be formed into an administrative province as Lata-visaya, along with Tripuri-visaya, Arikina-visaya, Antarvedi-visaya, Vaiavi-visaya, Gaya-visaya, etc. These visayas or pradesas seem to have been subordinate to the larger administrative division, called bhukti.
The early Gurjara and Rastrakuta records mention that that the Lata country was the same as the Latesvara country. The whole of Lata up to Damanaganga had become part of Gujarata. Lata tribe has been mentioned twice in Vatsyayana's Kama Sutra
. But Vatsyayana has not given any clue as to location of the country, but contents himself with describing the characteristics of the men and women of Lata. It has been said in several historical records that the inhabitants of Lata are distinguished from those of Gurjara, the Lata people appearing as pleasure loving and humorous, and those of the north as sterner and of stronger built. It has been said that the Lata possessed distinctive literary traits. The style which was favoured by the authors of Lata, acquired the name of Lati. Rajasekhara in his account has represented the people of Lata as preferring Prakrit to Sanskrit.