Vijayasena

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Vijayasena (c 1097-1160 AD) was the founder of the sena dynasty of Bengal, which ruled for more than 100 years. His ancestors came from the Karnata country in the decan. It appears from his records that he inherited the position of a subordinate ruler in radha under the Palas. He was possibly the same as Vijayaraja of Nidravali, one of the fourteen Samanta kings who helped ramapala in his recovery of varendra. Vijayasena, son of Hemantasena laid the foundation of the independent rule of the Senas.

Vijayasena took full advantage of the weakness of the Pala rulers. He obtained an independent position in Radha in recognition of his help to Ramapala. He defeated the Palas and captured the throne of gauda afterwards. His queen Vilasadevi was a princess of the Sura dynasty. sandhyakar nandi in his ramacharitam attests to the existence of the Sura family in southern Radha (Burdwan division) in the first quarter of the 11th century. The same source, however, records the name of Laksmishura, the lord of the Apara-Mandara (identified with Mandaran in the Hughli district) in the list of vassal chiefs who helped Ramapala. Vijayasena's matrimonial relation with the Sura family helped him in establishing his power in Radha. He is also said to have entered into an alliance with the Orissan king, Anantavarman Codaganga. This alliance certainly enhanced his political prestige. He is described as Chodaganga-xakha (friend of Codaganga) in the Vallalacharita of Anandabhatta.

It is beyond any doubt that Vijayasena established independent power in Bengal immediately after the demise of Ramapala. The deopara prashasti records that he defeated Nanya, Vira, Raghava and Vardhana. He vanquished the kings of kamarupa and Kalinga. He also compelled the king of Gauda to flee away from his kingdom. It is not very difficult to identify the rivals of Vijayasena. Nanya can be identified with Nanyadeva (c 1097-1147 AD) of Mithila, another Karnata chief. Vira was perhaps Viraguna, ruler of Kotatavi, a member of Ramapala's samantachakra. Vardhana may be identified either with Dvorapavardhana, ruler of Kausambi, or with Govardhana against whom Madanapala won a victory. Vijayasena's fight against Vira and Vardhana were perhaps meant to bring under control two other feudatory chiefs who also might have aspired for power. Raghava was no other than the king of Kalinga. He can be identified with Raghava, son of Codaganga who ruled Orissa from c 1157-1170 AD. The encounter between Vijayasena and Raghava probably took place towards the end of the former's reign. It is not unlikely that Vijayasena had to wage war against Raghava, although he maintained a friendly relation with Anantavarman Codaganga. Vijayasena's fight against Raghava was meant to frustrate the latter's aggressive designs. The reference in the Deopara Praxasti to the fight between Vijayasena and the king of Kamarupa does not necessarily mean that the former invaded the province, although that is not impossible altogether. The king of Kamarupa, defeated by Vijayasena, was perhaps Vaidyadeva, the minister of Kumarapala who declared independence, or his successor. It is not unlikely that Vaidyadeva or his successor invaded the newly founded dominions of the Senas and was driven away by Vijayasena.

The lord of Gauda who was made to flee by Vijayasena was Madanapala, the last known Pala king whose authority was, at that time, confined to north Bengal. It is learnt from the Pala epigraphic records that Madanapala's authority over north Bengal continued up to the 8th year of his reign, which falls in 1152-53 AD. Most probably Vijayasena established his own supremacy in North and North Western Bengal by ousting the Palas sometime after 1152-53 AD. It is recorded in the Deopara Praxasti that he erected the magnificent temple of Pradyumneshvara at the find-place of the inscription, about 7 miles to the west of Rajshahi town. It is to be remembered here that no Pala record has yet been discovered in Bengal after Madanapala's eighth regnal year.

It is also recorded in the Deopara inscription that Vijayasena's fleet advanced towards the west along the course of the Ganges. It seems that the Gahadvalas, who by this time had occupied parts of Bihar, were his target. However it is not clear from the inscription whether his naval expedition was successful.

Vijayasena is said to have extended his hold over vanga (southeastern Bengal) also. His Barrackpur copper plate was issued from vikramapura, the capital of the varmans who are found to have ruled in this area from the last quarter of the 11th century to the middle of the 12th century AD. So it seems probable that Vijayasena ousted the Varmans from southeastern Bengal in the middle of the 12th century AD.

Thus by the middle of the 12th century AD Vijayasena supplanted the Varmans, ousted the Palas and succeeded in establishing the rule of his own dynasty over the whole of Bengal. He seems to have consolidated his empire in Bengal by defeating other enemies. He had a very long reign of about 62 years. He was a Shaiva. He was liberal towards Brahmanas versed in the Vedas and the poor. He assumed the imperial titles of Paramamahexvara Paramabhattaraka Maharajadhiraja. He also took the proud title of Ariraja-Vrsabha-xankara. It has been suggested on good grounds that Gaudorvisakulaprashasti (eulogy of the royal family of Gauda) and the Vijayapraxasti (eulogy of Vijaya) of the famous poet Shriharsa were inspired by the career of Vijayasena. [Chitta Ranjan Misra]