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Danauja Rai, Raja


Danauja Rai, Raja an independent king of vanga with his capital at Sonargaon. Introduced by Ziyauddin Barani in his Tarikh-i-Firuzshahi, he is simply identified as the Rai or Raja of Sonargaon, who entered into an agreement with the Delhi Sultan Ghiyasuddin Balban in 681 AH (1282 AD).

The genealogical records of Bengal provide no definite evidence as to the identity of Danauja Rai. He may presumably be identified with Dasaratha-deva of the Deva dynasty which rose to power on the eastern bank of the Meghna sometime towards the close of the twelfth or in the beginning of the thirteenth century AD. The Adabadi copperplate of Dasaratha-deva presents the king issuing the grant as Paramesvara, Parama-bhattaraka Maharajadhiraja Ariraja-Danauja-Madhava, the illustrious Dasaratha-deva. On the ground of the title Ariraja-Danauja-Madhava borne by Dasaratha-deva, it seems probable that Dasaratha-deva is identical with king Danauja-madhava, mentioned in the genealogical records of Bengal, and also with Danauja Rai, Raja of Sonargaon. It seems that there is considerable truth in the tradition recorded by the ghataks of Idilpur that Chandradipa (modern Barisal district) become the seat of an independent kingdom under Danauja Rai Kayastha who was the same person as Danauja Rai, the Raja of sonargaon.

Danauja Rai, who was in all probability identical with Dasaratha-deva of Deva dynasty, Danauja Rai Kayastha and Danauja-madhava of Chandradvipa, perhaps had before the time of Tughral Khan seized some portions of the heritage of the Senas in the neighbourhood of Sonargaon. Tughral Khan was appointed deputy governor of Bengal by Sultan ghiyasuddin balbaN in 1268 AD. Hence it is likely that Dasaratha-deva Danauja Madhava, founder of the Chandradvipa dynasty, conquered at least some portion of the sena kingdom before 1268 AD. Dasaratha-deva of deva dynasty seems to have attempted and finally took possession of the Sena kingdom of Vikrampur from the seat of his ancestral kingdom on the eastern bank of the Meghna comprising presumably the modern greater districts of Comilla, Noakhali and Chittagong, or from Chandradvipa, comprising roughly the modern greater district of Barisal, where he is reported to have established an independent kingdom. Since Adabadi copperplate grant was issued from Vikrampur, and the lands granted therein were situated in the neighbourhood, we can come to the safe conclusion that Dasaratha-deva came into possession of the Sena kingdom of East Bengal. Since the descendants of laksmanAsena ruled in East Bengal probably up to 1260 AD, it is probable that Dasaratha-deva conquered Vikrampur sometime after that date, and that was from a successor of kesava sena (1220-1223). Dasaratha-deva is given high sounding titles which are copied from the records of Visvarupa Sena and Kesava-sena. Corresponding to the epithet Senakula kamala-vikasha-bhaskara of the records of the two Sena kings, Dasaratha-deva is called Devanvaya-kamala-vikasha-bhaskara. He has also the titles: Asvapati-gajapati-narapati-rajatrayadhipati, Somavamsa-pradipa. These tiles were also assumed by Visvarupa-sena and Kesava-sena, thus arrogating to himself the titles of the falling dynasty.

It is natural that after the expulsion of the Senas from East Bengal, Dasaratha-deva established his seat of government at the historic eastern capital of the Senas at Vikrampur wherefrom the land-grant was issued. The land-grant was issued in the 3rd regnal year of Dasaratha-deva. Dasaratha-deva later transferred his headquarters from Vikrampur to Suvarnagrama which was probably a part of the Vikrampur-bhaga in those days. Hence it is evident that he ruled from his seat at Vikrampur at least for three years following his assumption of power over the Sena kingdom. It is likely that Dasaratha-deva in maintaining his hold over eastern Bengal in the face of the expansion of Muslim power experienced some strategic inconveniences from his seat at Vikrampur, and chose Suvarnagrama, an almost inaccessible region of strategic importance between the Sitalakshya and the Meghna, as his headquarters.

Raja Danauja Rai is reported to have entered into an agreement (ahad-namah) with the Delhi Sultan Ghiyasuddin Balban in 1282 AD with a promise to guard against the escape of Tughral Khan, Balban's rebellious governor of Lakhnauti. Sultan Balban himself led an expedition to Bengal against Tughral Khan. He arrived on the confines of Sonargaon in 1282 AD, and seems to have exchange of envoys with the Rai of Sonargaon with an object of facing their common enemy, Tughral Khan. Balban felt the need of cooperation from Danauja Rai in guarding the riverine tracts against the escape of Tughral Khan by water. On the other hand, Tughral's expansion of power by annexing the riverine tract on both banks of the Padma as far as Lorical (on the south bank of the Kaliganga), his impregnable fort of Narkilah in the neighbourhood of Sonargaon, his friendly relation with the king of Tripura, tightened his grip on the Rai of Sonargaon.

Danauja Rai is likely to have absolute control over the whole of eastern and southern Bengal. This can be asserted in the light of an indirect evidence from Barani that at the time of Balban's return from his Bengal campaign (1282 AD) southern and eastern Bengal remained beyond Muslim control. From the record of the Adabadi copperplate it seems that Dasaratha-deva occasionally led successful raids to the west or north Bengal, and conquered a portion of the Muslim dominated area.

The system of kulina among the Brahmanas, introduced by the Sena king vallalasena, later underwent a process of periodical classification, known as samikarana, the first two of which are said to have taken place during the reign of Lakshmana-Sena, and the following four under Danauja-madhava. Danauja-madhava is also reported to include the Kayasthas within the purview of this classification of kulina, and to introduce revised and new rules of kulinism. Hari Misra, a renowned genealogist and scholar, flourished in the court of Danauja-madhava. His Karika Purana is the most authentic genealogical work composed in the thirteenth century.

Danauja Rai appears to have liberal attitude towards the diverse religious beliefs, who displayed religious tolerance as against the gradually increasing caste hatred and racial tyranny under the Senas. The development of a renowned centre of Islamic learning (madrasa) under the versatile scholar Maulana sharfuddin abu tawwama in the last quarter of the thirteenth century in the suburb of his capital city, bears clear testimony to the liberal attitude and non-sectarian policy of Danauja Rai. Himself a Vaishnava, Danauja Rai patronised the Vaishnava cult to attain predominance in his kingdom. We apprehend, Danauja Rai might have created a congenial ground for the interaction between the sufistic Islam and the Vaishnava cult in Sonargaon which later turned to have been the meeting place of the Vaishnava saints and the rendezvous of the Muslim fakirs and sufis.

Danauja Rai was the last known Hindu king of eastern Bengal. Though we do not know much of Danauja Rai after 1282 AD, it is highly probable that he ruled in Sonargaon for further couple of years, and perhaps till his death. Danauja Rai might have left any successor to the throne who faced the Muslim attack in 1302 AD resulting in the fall of Sonargaon and the end of independent Hindu rule in eastern Bengal. [Muazzam Hussain Khan]

Bibliography Barani, Tarikh-i-Firuzshahi, English translation in The History of India as Told by its own Historians by Elliot and Dowson, vol. iii, Allahabad, 1970; Jadu-nath Sarkar (ed), The History of Bengal, vol. ii, Dhaka, 1948; Muazzam Hussain Khan, Thousand Years of Sonargaon, Dhaka, 2009.