Sena dynasty

Summary

Sena Empire

CE 1070–CE 1230
CapitalGauda, Bikrampur, Nabadwip
Common languagesSanskrit
Religion
Hinduism (Vedic Hinduism, Shaivism, Tantra, and Vaishnavism)
GovernmentMonarchy
King 
• 1070–1095 AD
Samanta Sena
• 1095–1096 AD
Hemanta Sena
• 1096–1159 AD
Vijaya Sena
• 1159-1179 AD
Ballala Sena
• 1179-1204 AD
Lakshmana Sena
• 1204-1225 AD
Keshava Sena
• 1225–1230 AD
Vishvarupa Sena
• 
Surya Sena[1]
• 
Narayana Sena[1]
• 
Laksmana Sena ।। [1]
Historical eraClassical India
• Established
CE 1070
• Disestablished
CE 1230
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Pala Empire
Deva dynasty

The Sena Empire was a Hindu dynasty during the Late Classical period on the Indian subcontinent, that ruled from Bengal through the 11th and 12th centuries. The empire at its peak covered much of the north-eastern region of the Indian subcontinent. The rulers of the Sena Dynasty traced their origin to the south Indian region of Karnataka.[2]

The dynasty's founder was Samanta Sena. After him came Hemanta Sena who usurped power and styled himself, king, in 1095 AD. His successor Vijaya Sena (ruled from 1096 AD to 1159 AD) helped lay the foundations of the dynasty, and had an unusually long reign of over 60 years. Ballala Sena conquered Gaur from the Pala, became the ruler of the Bengal Delta, and made Nabadwip the capital as well. Ballala Sena married Ramadevi a princess of the Western Chalukya Empire which indicates that the Sena rulers maintained close social contact with south India.[3] Lakshmana Sena succeeded Ballala Sena in 1179, ruled Bengal for approximately 20 years, and expanded the Sena Empire to Odisha, Bihar and probably to Varanasi. In 1203–1204 AD, the Turkic general Bakhtiyar Khalji attacked Nabadwip. Khalji defeated Lakshman Sen and captured northwest Bengal – although Eastern Bengal remained under Sena control.

Origins

A sculpture of the Hindu deity Vishnu from the Sena period.

The political space after the decline of the Pala power in Bengal was occupied by the Senas whose king Vijayasena succeeded in conquering a large part of Pala territory. The Senas were the supporters of orthodox Hinduism. The dynasty traces its origin to the South, to the Western Chalukya Empire of southern India.[4] There is a record of a Western Chalukya invasion during the reign of Someshvara I led by his son Vikramaditya VI who defeated the kings of Gauda and Kamarupa.[5][6] This invasion of the Kannada ruler brought bodies of his countrymen from Karnataka into Bengal which explains the origin of the Sena Dynasty.[4][5]

The founder of the Sena rule was Samantasena who described himself as a Brahmin-Kshatriya of Karnataka (Karnataka). He himself stated that he fought the outlaws of Karnataka and later turned an ascetic.[citation needed] The inscriptions of the Sena kings mention them as Brahma-Kshatriyas (Brahmins who ruled as Kshatriyas) or Kshatriyas.[7] Also, sources have identified them with the Vaidya (as well as the Ambashtha caste or sub-caste, considered as a mixed caste, being born of Brahmin father and Vaishya mother,[7][8]) and they married with and were identified with the Bengali Vaidyas (commonly known as Baidyas in Bengal) in Vaidya Kula-panjikas (family-tree accounts).[9]

Art of the Senas, 11th century.

Taking advantage of the revolt of Samantachakra in Varendra during the reign of Mahipala II, Vijayasena, founder of the Sena dynasty, gradually consolidated his position in western Bengal and ultimately assumed an independent position during the reign of Madanapala.

The Sena kings claim in their own inscriptions that they are Brahmakshatriya. Their remote ancestor was one Virasena, whose name was supposed to have been mentioned in Puranas. The "Deopara Inscription" of the Senas also traces the Sena ancestry from Virasena. Since there are no authentic records available still, a keen controversy prevails among scholars regarding origin of the Senas.[citation needed]

Like the origin of the Senas, their early history or circumstances, which led them to concentrate in Bengal is also still unknown. It has been presumed by historians that the Senas came to Bengal on the eve of the invading army led by the Chalukya kings Vikramaditya VI and Someswara III. Some scholars have also suggested that when Rajendra Chola's army had invaded Bengal, the Senas had accompanied them. According to some other historians, a few Karnataka officials, who were subordinate to the Pala kings, had established their independent kingdom in the region of Radha, taking advantage of the weakness of the Pala powers. Those Karnataka chiefs might have arrived in Bengal in wake of the Chalukya invasion and had settled into a kingdom of their own. According to historians Samantasena was such a chief who had established his independent kingdom in the Radha region of Bengal.

Samantasena was a scion of the Sena family, who had distinguished himself through various warfares in South India. He had settled in Radha in Bengal, at an old age. He had also laid the foundation of the Sena family in Bengal. His son Hemantasena carved out an important kingdom in Radha, taking advantage of the decline of the Pala Empire. From their base in Radha, the Senas ultimately extended their powers over the whole of Bengal.[10]

Inscriptions

Edilpur Copperplate

A copperplate was found in the Adilpur or Edilpur pargana of Faridpur District in 1838 A.D. and was acquired by the Asiatic Society of Bengal, but now the copperplate is missing from the collection. An account of the copperplate was published in the Dacca Review and Epigraphic Indica. The copperplate inscription is written in Sanskrit and in Ganda character, and dated 3rd jyaistha of 1136 samval, or 1079 A.D. In the Asiatic Society's proceeding for January 1838, an account of the copperplate states that three villages were given to a Brahman in the third year of Keshava Sena. The grant was given with the landlord rights, which include the power of punishing the Chandrabhandas or Sundarbans, a tribe that lived in the forest.[11] The land was granted in the village of Leliya in the Kumaratalaka mandala, which is situated in shatata-padamavati-visaya. The copperplate of Keshava Sena records that the king Vallala Sena carried away, from the enemies, the goddesses of fortune on palanquins (Shivaka), which elephant tusk staff supported; and also states that Vallala Sena's son, Lakshmana Sena (1179–1205), erected pillars of victory and sacrificial posts at Varanasi, Allahabad, and Adon Coast of the South Sea. The copperplate also describes the villages with smooth fields growing excellent paddy, the dancing and music in ancient Bengal, and ladies adorned with blooming flowers. The Edilpur copperplate of Keshava Sena records that the king made a grant in favour of Nitipathaka Isvaradeva Sarman for the inside of the subha-varsha.

The Deopara Prashasti is a stone inscription eulogising the Sena kings, particularly Vijaya Sena, composed by the court poet Umapati Dhara.

Society

The Sena rulers consolidated the caste system in Bengal.[need quotation to verify] Although Bengal borrowed from the caste system of Mithila, caste was not so strong in Bengal as in Mithila.[12]

Architecture

The Sena dynasty is famous for building Hindu temples and monasteries, which include the renowned Dhakeshwari Temple in what is now Dhaka, Bangladesh.

In Kashmir, the dynasty also likely built a temple knows as Sankara Gaureshwara.[13]

Literature

The Sena rulers were also great patrons of literature. During the Pala dynasty and the Sena dynasty, major growth in Bengali was witnessed. Some Bengali authors believe that Jayadeva, the famous Sanskrit poet and author of Gita Govinda, was one of the Pancharatnas (five gems) in the court of Lakshmana Sena. Dhoyin – himself an eminent court poet of Sena dynasty – mentions nine gems (ratna) in the court of Lakshmana Sena, among whom were:

  • Govardhana
  • Sarana
  • Jayadeva
  • Umapati
  • Dhoyi/Dhoyin Kaviraja[14][page needed]

Legacy

After the Sena dynasty, the Deva dynasty ruled in eastern Bengal. The Deva dynasty was probably the last independent Hindu dynasty of Bengal.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Raj Kumar. Essays on Medieval India. p. 340.
  2. ^ The History of the Bengali Language by Bijay Chandra Mazumdar p.50
  3. ^ Land of Two Rivers: A History of Bengal from the Mahabharata to Mujib by Nitish K. Sengupta p.51
  4. ^ a b Ancient India by Ramesh Chandra Majumdar p.320
  5. ^ a b The Cambridge Shorter History of India p.10
  6. ^ B. P. Sinha (1977). Dynastic History of Magadha. New Delhi: Abhinav Publications. p. 214. ISBN 81-7017-059-1. The Cālukyas under prince Vikramāditya-VI some time before 1068 had invaded Bengal and defeated kings of Gauḍa and Kāmarūpa.
  7. ^ a b Ronald. B. Inden. Marriage and Rank in Bengali Culture : A History of Caste and Clan in Middle Period Bengal. p. 60.
  8. ^ Reddy. Indian History. p. A234.
  9. ^ D.C. Sircar. Studies in the religious life of ancient and medieval India. p. 216.
  10. ^ Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. pp. 35–36. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4.
  11. ^ Hunter, William Wilson (1875), "A statistical account of Bengal, Volume 1", Google Books, Edinburgh: Murry and Gibbs, retrieved 3 October 2009
  12. ^ Momtazur Rahman Tarafdar, "Itihas O Aitihasik", Bangla Academy Dhaka, 1995
  13. ^ Mitra, Rajendralala (1865). "On the Sena Rajas of Bengal". Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. Asiatic Society of Bengal. 34 part 1 (3): 141–142.
  14. ^ R. C. Majumdar, ed. (1943). The History of Bengal, vol I (Hindu Period). Lohanipur.

Sources

  • Early History of India 3rd and revised edition by Vincent A Smith

External links

Preceded by
Pala dynasty
Bengal dynasty Succeeded by
Deva dynasty
Timeline and
cultural period
Northwestern India
(Punjab-Sapta Sindhu)
Indo-Gangetic Plain Central India Southern India
Upper Gangetic Plain
(Ganga-Yamuna doab)
Middle Gangetic Plain Lower Gangetic Plain
IRON AGE
Culture Late Vedic Period Late Vedic Period
(Srauta culture)[a]
Painted Grey Ware culture
Late Vedic Period
(Shramanic culture)[b]
Northern Black Polished Ware
Pre-history
 6th century BC Gandhara Kuru-Panchala Magadha Adivasi (tribes)
Culture Persian-Greek influences "Second Urbanisation"
Rise of Shramana movements
Jainism - Buddhism - Ājīvika - Yoga
Pre-history
 5th century BC (Persian conquests) Shaishunaga dynasty Adivasi (tribes)
 4th century BC (Greek conquests) Nanda empire
HISTORICAL AGE
Culture Spread of Buddhism Pre-history Sangam period
(300 BC – 200 AD)
 3rd century BC Maurya Empire Early Cholas
Early Pandyan Kingdom
Satavahana dynasty
Cheras
46 other small kingdoms in Ancient Thamizhagam
Culture Preclassical Hinduism[c] - "Hindu Synthesis"[d] (ca. 200 BC - 300 AD)[e][f]
Epics - Puranas - Ramayana - Mahabharata - Bhagavad Gita - Brahma Sutras - Smarta Tradition
Mahayana Buddhism
Sangam period
(continued)
(300 BC – 200 AD)
 2nd century BC Indo-Greek Kingdom Shunga Empire
Maha-Meghavahana Dynasty
Early Cholas
Early Pandyan Kingdom
Satavahana dynasty
Cheras
46 other small kingdoms in Ancient Thamizhagam
 1st century BC
 1st century AD

Indo-Scythians
Indo-Parthians

Kuninda Kingdom
 2nd century Kushan Empire
 3rd century Kushano-Sasanian Kingdom Kushan Empire Western Satraps Kamarupa kingdom Kalabhra dynasty
Pandyan Kingdom (Under Kalabhras)
Culture "Golden Age of Hinduism"(ca. AD 320-650)[g]
Puranas
Co-existence of Hinduism and Buddhism
 4th century Kidarites Gupta Empire
Varman dynasty
Kalabhra dynasty
Pandyan Kingdom (Under Kalabhras)
Kadamba Dynasty
Western Ganga Dynasty
 5th century Hephthalite Empire Alchon Huns Kalabhra dynasty
Pandyan Kingdom (Under Kalabhras)
Vishnukundina
 6th century Nezak Huns
Kabul Shahi
Maitraka Adivasi (tribes) Badami Chalukyas
Kalabhra dynasty
Pandyan Kingdom (Under Kalabhras)
Culture Late-Classical Hinduism (ca. AD 650-1100)[h]
Advaita Vedanta - Tantra
Decline of Buddhism in India
 7th century Indo-Sassanids Vakataka dynasty
Empire of Harsha
Mlechchha dynasty Adivasi (tribes) Pandyan Kingdom (Under Kalabhras)
Pandyan Kingdom(Revival)
Pallava
 8th century Kabul Shahi Pala Empire Pandyan Kingdom
Kalachuri
 9th century Gurjara-Pratihara Rashtrakuta dynasty
Pandyan Kingdom
Medieval Cholas
Pandyan Kingdom (Under Cholas)
Chera Perumals of Makkotai
10th century Ghaznavids Pala dynasty
Kamboja-Pala dynasty
Kalyani Chalukyas
Medieval Cholas
Pandyan Kingdom (Under Cholas)
Chera Perumals of Makkotai
Rashtrakuta
References and sources for table

References

  1. ^ Samuel
  2. ^ Samuel
  3. ^ Michaels (2004) p.39
  4. ^ Hiltebeitel (2002)
  5. ^ Michaels (2004) p.39
  6. ^ Hiltebeitel (2002)
  7. ^ Michaels (2004) p.40
  8. ^ Michaels (2004) p.41

Sources

  • Flood, Gavin D. (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press
  • Hiltebeitel, Alf (2002), Hinduism. In: Joseph Kitagawa, "The Religious Traditions of Asia: Religion, History, and Culture", Routledge
  • Michaels, Axel (2004), Hinduism. Past and present, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press
  • Samuel, Geoffrey (2010), The Origins of Yoga and Tantra. Indic Religions to the Thirteenth Century, Cambridge University Press