THE GREATEST EMPEROR OF INDIA
When it comes to writing anything about history I cannot but think of two great historians and their approach to the subject namely Voltaire and Will Durant, I am an ardent fan of both of them. They were both really great as per the statement of Oscar Wilde , “Anybody can make history. Only a great man can write it”.
Based on their methodology I select only some events and some rulers who have made a overall contribution to the welfare and happiness of the people, created things which have set a positive and prosperous trend and acted as symbols and systems which are pride of that land for posterity and utility to humanity if not at large at least to some specific geographical area. So, going by this criteria emphasis is more on welfare than, of course, the inevitable warfare.
I am tempted to quote and share two passages which tells volumes about of Will Durant’s approach to history from http://www.willdurant.com/bio.htm
Our Oriental Heritage (1935), he circled the globe twice and wrote and rewrote its 1,049 pages in longhand, through six years, giving the history of Asiatic civilization from the beginnings to Gandhi and Chiang Kai-shek. In the preface he explained his purpose and method:
“I have tried in this book to accomplish the first part of a pleasant assignment which I rashly laid upon myself some 20 years ago, to write a history of civilization. I wish to tell as much as I can, in as little space as I can, of the contributions that genius and labor have made to the cultural heritage of mankind - to chronicle and contemplate, in their causes, character and effects, the advances of invention, the varieties of economic organization, the experiments in government, the aspirations of religion, the mutations of morals and manners, the masterpieces of literature, the development of science, the wisdom of philosophy and the achievements of art. I do not need to be told how absurd this enterprise is, or how immodest is its very conception, for many years of effort have brought it to but a fifth of its completion and have made it clear that no one mind, and no single lifetime, can adequately compass this task. Nevertheless I have dreamed that, despite the many errors inevitable in this undertaking, it may be of some use to those upon whom the passion for philosophy has laid the compulsion to try and see things whole, to pursue perspective, unity and understanding through history in time, as well as to seek them through science in space.
I have long felt that our usual method of writing history in separate longitudinal sections -- economic history, political history, religious history, the history of philosophy, the history of literature, the history of science, the history of music, the history of art -- does injustice to the unity of human life; that history should be written collaterally as well as lineally, synthetically as well as analytically; and that the ideal historiography would seek to portray in each period the total complex of a nation's culture, institutions, adventures and ways. But the accumulation of knowledge has divided history, like science, into a thousand isolated specialties, and prudent scholars have refrained from attempting any view of the whole -- whether of the material or of the living past of our race. For the probability of error increases with the scope of the undertaking, and any man who sells his soul to synthesis will be a tragic target for a myriad merry darts of specialist critique. "Consider," said Ptah-hotep 5,000 years ago, "how thou mayest be opposed by an expert in council. It is foolish to speak on every kind of work." A history of civilization shares the presumptuousness of every philosophical enterprise: It offers the ridiculous spectacle of a fragment expounding the whole. Like philosophy, such a venture has no rational excuse and is at best but a brave stupidity, but let us hope that, like philosophy, it will always lure some rash spirits into its fatal depths.”
“In each volume Durant takes a comprehensive approach, covering, for each nation and in each period of its history, all the major aspects of civilization: politics, economics, philosophy, religion, literature, art, and science. He called his approach the “integral” or “synthetic” method, and regarded it as an original contribution to historiography. Elaborating on the origin of his method, he writes:
I had expounded the idea in 1917 in a paper . . . “On the Writing of History.” . . . Its thesis: whereas economic life, politics, religion, morals and manners, science, philosophy, literature, and art had all moved contemporaneously, and in mutual influence, in each epoch of each civilization, historians had recorded each aspect in almost complete separation from the rest. . . . So I cried, “Hold, enough!” to what I later termed “shredded history,” and called for an “integral history” in which all the phases of human activity would be presented in one complex narrative, in one developing, moving, picture. I did not, of course, propose a cloture on lineal and vertical history (tracing the course of one element in civilization), nor on brochure history (reporting original research on some limited subject or event), but I thought that these had been overdone, and that the education of mankind required a new type of historian—not quite like Gibbon, or Macaulay, or Ranke, who had given nearly all their attention to politics, religion, and war, but rather like Voltaire, who, in his Siècle de Louis XIV and his Essai sur les moeurs, had occasionally left the court, the church, and the camp to consider and record morals, literature, philosophy, and art.
Durant’s integral history does not only occasionally consider these latter areas (which he calls “cultural history” or “the history of the mind,”) it emphasizes them. “While recognizing the importance of government and statesmanship, we have given the political history of each period and state as the oft-told background, rather than the substance or essence of the tale; our chief interest was in the history of the mind” (vol. 10, p. vii). (Nevertheless, the Story contains ample and excellent material on politics.)”
Now, based on this criteria of overall welfare rather than mere real estate garnering warfare, among the many rulers who have ruled India one emperor stands tall and who has contributed to many great and good things in the entire South India which was his kingdom then and so starting off any detailed discussion on any state of south India without reference to his rule would be dong injustice , he has made some extraordinary contributions to Telugu language and the present day Andra Pradesh in many ways. It is none other than the great Vijayanagara emperor Krishnadevaraya.
It is no wonder that though the Indian Historians and History books have failed to extol his role that God ordained a few lakh people from all over the world every day walk past his statue with folded arms in reverence as the images of Krishnadevaraya along with his two queens standing with folded hands are inside the Tirupati temple. The images have their names written in Kannada.
Krishnadevaraya is believed to have been born in 1487 AD either on Krishna Janmastami or closer to that day and hence he was given the name Krishnadevaraya. His coronation took place on 8th Aug. 1509 on Krishna Janmastami (Gokulastami) day
Now let us see what he has done other than warfare in which too he was a great and victories king.
The empire's patronage enabled fine arts and literature to reach new heights in the languages of KANNADA, TELUGU, TAMIL AND SANSKRIT, WHILE CARANATIC MUSIC evolved into its current form. The Vijayanagara Empire created an epoch in South Indian history that transcended regionalism by promoting HINDUISM as a unifying factor.
There was no one like him who combined so many admirable qualities needed in a great monarch- matchless warrior who led his armies personally and cared for them, statesman who surrounded himself with wise ministers, supporter of literature and fine arts-himself a great poet, romantic and witty but also a stern law enforcer, promoter of trade and trade related relationship with others, treated foreign dignitaries with great respect and hospitality, truly secular though himself An ardent practicing Vaishnavite.
The foreign ambassadors who visited during Krishnadevaraya’s reign have vividly mentioned and described in their books that “THE EYES OF THE PUPILS WERE NOT SUFFICIENT TO SEE THE GLORY OF VIJAYNAGAR EMPIRE AND THE EARS HAVE NEVER HEARD OF SUCH A PLACE THAT EXISTED ON EARTH” So many precious stones DIAMONDS, RUBYS, GOLD SILVER SAPPHIRES, CORAL, ALL KINDS OF PRECIOUS STONES were traded in the open market. No other civilization in the world can match or not even equal to Vijaynagar Empire
Vallabhacharya and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the renowned saints of the bhakti movement visited his court. Krishnadevaraya honoured the former by performing Kanakabhisheka (showering gold coins on him). Krishnadevaraya held the Madhwa saint Vyasatirtha in much reverence and had left his throne vacant for the saint to occupy for some time.
Krishna DevaRaya’s reign was the golden age of TELUGU LITERATURE.
Lord's Instruction to commence work in Telugu
Lord Śrī Āndhra Viṣhṇu told him to compose the story of his wedding with Andal at Srirangam("rangamandayina penDili seppumu.."). From 14th poem of this work we can see that the, Lord also ordered the emperor to tell the story in Telugu and referred himself as King of Telugus (Telugu Vallabhunḍa) and refers Sri Krishnadevaraya as Kannada King (Kannaḍa Rāya). (...nEnu delugu raayanDa, kannaDa raaya!, yakkodunangappu....). The Lord reasoned "telugadElayanna, dESambu telugu. yEnu telugu vallaBhunDa. telugo kanDa.…. yerugavE bAsADi, dESa BhAShalandu telugu lessa!" The emperor obliged and composed Amuktamalyada which is one of the most famous poetic works in the entire Telugu literature.
తెలుఁగ దేల నన్న దేశంబు దెలుఁగేను
తెలుఁగు వల్లభుండఁ దెలుఁ గొకండ
యెల్ల నృపులగొలువ నెరుఁగ వే బాసాడి
దేశభాషలందుఁ తెలుఁగు లెస్స
—శ్రీ ఆంధ్ర విష్ణు
telugadElayanna, dESambu telugEnu
telugu vallaBhunDa telugokanDa
yella nRpulu golva nerugavE bAsADi
dESa BhAShalandu telugu lessa
—Śrī Āndhra Viṣhṇu's reason on why Āmuktamālyada should be written in telugu by Sri Krishnadevaraya
Meaning of Quote :"If you ask why a work in Telugu; I am Telugu (i.e., belong to Teluguland) and King of Telugus. Telugu is language which got stuff (TelugO kanDa). So, with all kings serving under you, by speaking you will know that of all regional languages Telugu is superior. "
Eight poets known as Astakavidiggajalu (eight elephants in the eight cardinal points such as North, South etc.) were part of his court known as Bhuvana-vijayamu. These include Allasani Peddana, Nandi Timmanna, Madavyagiri Mallanna, Dhurjati, Ayyalaraju Ramabhadrudu, Pingali Suranna, Battumurty alias Rama-raja-bhushanudu and Tenali Ramakrishna.
Telugu poet Peddanna was personally honoured by him for his proficiency in Telugu and Sanskrit and taken in a palanquin borne by Krishnadevaraya himself.
Among these eight poets
1] Allasani Peddana is considered to be the greatest and is given the title of Andhra Kavita Pitamaha (the father of Telugu poetry). Manu-charitramu
is his popular Prabhanda work.
2] Nandi Timmana wrote
3] Mallana wrote
4] Dhurjati wrote
5] Ayyal-raju Rama-bhadrudu wrote
6] PingaliSurana wrote the still remarkable
a dual work withdouble meaning built into the text, describing both the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha.
7] Battumurty alias Rama-raja-bhushanudu wrote
Amongthese works the last one is a dual work which tells simultaneously the story of King Harischandra and Nala Damayanthi.
8] Tenali Ramakrishna first wrote
a Saivite work and later wrote Vaishnava devotional texts
And Ghati-kachala Mahatmyamu.
Tenali Rama Krishna was also the court jester of whom there are innumerable stories for the children
He patronised Kannada poets
1] Mallanarya who wrote
2] Chatu Vittal-anatha who wrote
3] Timmanna Kavi who wrote a eulogy of his king in
Krishna Raya Bharata
He asked the Kannada poet Timmanna to complete the Kannada Mahabharatha started by Kumara Vyasa.
4] Vyasatheertha, the great saint from Mysore belonging to the Madhwaorder.
Krishna Deva Rayana Dinachari in Kannada, a recently discovered highlights the contemporary society during Krishna Deva Raya's time in his personal diary.
Krishna Deva Raya patronised Tamil poet Haridasa.
In Sanskrit Krishna Deva Raya himself an accomplished scholar wrote
MadalasaCharita, Satyavadu Parinaya, Rasamanjari and Jambavati Kalyana
He held Vyasaraya, one of the greatest exponents of Madhvacharya’s Dvaita philosophy, in great esteem, and made him the Raja Guru (official guru of the King).
It was Vyasaraya who propagated the Haridasa movement in a far-reaching manner. Vyasaraya was the Guru of the celebrated Purandaradasa, the father of Carnatic classical music, and Kanakadasa, another Haridasa poet, singer, and saint.
The reign of Krishnadevaraya was also remarkable for the encouragement and development of arts and letters.
Krishnadevaraya expanded the temple of Ramaswamy at Vijayanagara and added a kalyanamantapa and tower to the temple of Virupaksha. He also constructed the Krishnaswamy and Vittalaswamy temples in the imperial capital.
The Raja Gopuram or the entrance tower of 172 feet to the Ekambareswarar temple at kanchipuram was built by krishnadevaraya.
He restored many shrines throughout South India.
Kalahasti temple gopuram was built by him
Krishnadevaraya patronized all religious sects and was a devotee of Lord Venkateshwara of Tirupati. He lavished the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple with diamond studded crowns and swords.
A number of towns, dams and public buildings were also constructed.
Many festivals and ceremonies were held during the period of Krishnadevaraya.
As an Administrator: Krishnadevaraya toured the remote corners of his empire and heard the grievances of the people and redressed them then and there. He set up an excellent administrative system. The empire was divided into Mandalas, Nadus and Seeme. For the purpose of assessment and fixation of revenue, Krishnadevaraya had the whole of his empire surveyed. The unit of land for assessment was known as Rayarekhe or the royal line and which measured roughly about seven feet and nine inches. Twenty of these units made a bigha and 36 bigha’s, a mar or plot of 16 to 18 acres. Land revenue was fixed based on the yield, normally 1/3rd of the produce. Krishnadevaraya provided irrigation facilities to the dry regions around Vijayanagara with the help of a Portuguese engineer. The friendly relations with the Portuguese helped him obtain the highbred Arabian horses and the expansion of the overseas trade of the empire. He helped the Portuguese to conquer Goa from the Bijapur rulers in 1510. Krishnadevaraya built two new suburbs in the capital and called it Nagalapura and Tirumala Deviyarapattana in honour of his mother, Nagala Devi and queen Tirumalamba. Portuguese travelers Domingo Paes and Durate Barbosa visted his court and have left accounts of their experience there. According to the former Vijayanagar was very prosperous with abundance of foodstuffs, vegetables, fruits and animals being sold in profusion in the markets of the city at cheap rates. Barbosa speaks of the trade in jewels, diamonds, pearls and silk brocades, which were in plenty on its streets. “The city of Vijayanagar is constantly filled with an innumerable crowd of all nations and creeds”, he adds.
Krishna Devaraya constructed many tanks and encouraged trade with foreign countries. In the words of foreign visitor Paes, there was no dearth of food , fruits or water. The king constructed a huge tank at the mouth of two hills so that all the water which comes from either one side or the other collects there; and, besides this water comes to it from more than 15 kilometers by pipes. There were also irrigation facilities. There were huge markets trading in spices, textiles and precious stones the empire had such a wealthy population that there was huge demand and sale of Gold and precious gems.
The following extract from Amuktamalyada will clarify how much important trade is in the view of Sri Krishnadevaraya -"A king should improve the harbours of his country and so encourage its commerce that horses, elephants, precious gems, sandalwood, pearls and other articles are freely imported … He should arrange that the foreign sailors who land in his country on account of storms, illness and exhaustion are looked after in a suitable manner … Make the merchants of distant foreign countries who import elephants and good horses be attached to yourself by providing them with daily audience, presents and allowing decent profits. Then those articles will never go to your enemies."
This is how he could import lots of persian , portugese horses which formed a solid deterrent in Kingdoms' defense. Many travelers wrote in length about the abundance of fruits, meat , pearls , rubies etc. in Markets of Vijayanagara. A small excerpt from Paes travelogue which tells about the prosperity of the City
" Going forward, you have a broad and beautiful street … In this street live many merchants, and there you will find all sorts of rubies, and diamonds, and emeralds, and pearls, and seed-pearls, and cloths, and every other sort of thing there is on earth and that you may wish to buy. Then you have there every evening a fair where they sell many common horses and nags, and also many citrons, and limes, and oranges, and grapes, and every other kind of garden stuff, and wood; you have all in this street."
A set of large stables, to house the ceremonial elephants of the royal household. Care for animals. The area in front of them was a parade ground for the elephants, and for troops. This is another structure that shows Islamic influence in its domes and arched gateways. The guards' barracks are located right next to the elephant stables