How did the long-lasting Pala Dynasty collapse?

Dhaka, Thursday   02 April 2020


How did the long-lasting Pala Dynasty collapse?


 Published: 10:45 PM, 5 October 2019  



The establishment of the Pala Dynasty is one of the most important events in the history of ancient Bengal. The Pala rule brought relief to the public life through overcoming the ‘Matsyanyayam’, after the Shashanka era during the centuries of political vacancy and anarchy of ancient Bengal.

Although the area ruled by the Palas was not often very large terrain, nor it was sustained as a continuous or powerful empire for the entire period, the history of the Pala dynasty is intimately involved with the change in the political history of the Bengal region.

How did the four-hundred-year empires lose its glory? This article will look into it.

Various episodes of Pala rule

Pala's rule was established by the Gopala’s hand. Gopala was elected king by the general or leading class people, according to the history. Though Gopala established the Pala kingdom — Dharmapala, the son of Gopala, consolidated the Pala Empire.

The whole period of the four hundred years' reign was not a good time for the Palas. Sometimes it was rising, sometimes fall or stagnation.  Nevertheless, four hundred years can be considered for a long time. Because a very few dynasties in the history of the world could manage to hold the kingdom for so long time.

However, the duration of the Pala rule can be analyzed in roughly three stages. First — the period of the establishment and expansion of the empire, secondly — the period of decline and third — the period of the final fall of the Pala Empire.

Like many other dynasties, the beginning and end of the Pala dynasty did not occur suddenly, but gradually. Their ruling area is expended in general and according to the natural law of the time, their dynasty lost itself after having the existence of four hundred years. Let’s take a look at the history of the Pala rule.

Establishment and expansion period

The Pala rule began with the election of being elected king Vapyata’s son Gopala Raja. The reign of Gopal was roughly 750 AD to 781 or 795 AD. However, Dharmapala, son of Gopala, promoted the rule of the Palas into a real empire. In his time, Palas was able to influence North Indian politics.

Dharmapala’s regime was the brightest among all the rulers’ regimes that came to power in the history of the long rule of the Palas. He was one of the heroes of the famous tripartite struggle. The Gopala Empire, which was started in a part of present-day Bengal and Bihar, was built on a strong structure by the Dharmapala.

He was able to maintain his control over Gaur, Magadha, and parts of northern India, and thereby transformed a regional dynasty into a larger empire of northern India. Dharmapala died in 810 AD and was in power for about 40 years.

After the death of Dharmapala, his son Devapala took over the Pala Empire. He was the mightiest Pala king. He was able to take the Pala Empire to a higher position by expanding his father’s territory.

According to Dr. Nihar Ranjan Ray, an Indian historian, Devapala was able to extend the confines of the Pala Empire to Combos in the north-west and Vindhya in the south. He also succeeded in the Assam and Orissa expeditions.

By the death of Devapala in about 861 AD, the progress of the Palas was largely halted. The Palas could never return to this position. Thus, up to 861 years can be referred to as the time of the establishment, influence, and prestige of the Palas. The kings of the Palas dynasty ruled over Bihar, Bengal, and parts of Orissa and Assam with many ups and downs for over four centuries.

Dharmapala founded the famous Buddhist monastery at Vikramashila. It became eminent as Nalanda (in fame). During Pala reign, Nalanda University became famous all over the world.

Duration of degradation

After Devapala, the Pala rule lasted for more than three hundred years, though it was just surviving somehow. Although some rulers were capable of displaying their crafts during this period, it was certainly not enough to retain the dignity of the Pala family. Therefore, under various hostile environments, the Pala Empire was slowly falling.

There was confusion over who ruled the Pala Kingdom after the death of Devapala. Although some of the rulers were ruling, the situation of the Palas became very miserable.

The Kambojas also occupied the Palas’ homeland of Barind and its adjoining West Bengal. However, around 995 AD, another Pala king attempted to restore the lost glory of the clan. He was the first Mahipala.

Mahipala and the pulse burn before burning 

The reign of Mahipala was roughly 995-1043 AD. After Devapala’s death, when Palas were slowly wiping out, the first Mahipala tried to hold the dignity of the Palas. His reign in the Pala Empire was like burning a fiery flame before it went down.

Mahipala was the son of Pala ruler Vigrahapala II. Many historians refer to him as the second founder of the palace for his unique role in the moment of the flock.

However, Mahipala was able to recover some of the lost boundaries of his predecessors. He also sought to recover the lost glory of the Palas by taking possession of the old fatherland from the hands of the Kambojas.

At that time, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni was invading India — all the Hindu states formed religious alliances, but Mahipala did not join the alliance and concentrated on rebuilding his empire. His strategic decision helped to further consolidate the position of the Pala Empire.

Although he is known to have been able to dominate places like Uttar Bihar, Sarnath, Varanasi, it is reported that he was defeated by Rajendra Chola, the king of the Deccan. However, despite his defeat, he was able to retain his empire.

Fall period

After Mahipala, his son Nayapala came to be the ruler of the flock. He managed to retain his patriarchy to some extent by preventing the attack by King Karna of Kalchuri. The Karna invaded the Pal Kingdom during the Vigrahapala III after Nayapala, but the Vigrahapala III defeated him.

But the Vigrahapala III was defeated by the Chalukya king Vikramaditya. The Vigrahapala III then became more and more attacked and the Pala Empire continued to decline. During this time, the Burmans occupied East Bengal.

First successful revolt in Bengali region against Palas

History sometimes goes the opposite way. Once the first Pala king Gopala was chosen to be rid of anarchy, chaos, and oppression. Sometimes apart, under the sail, a time of chaos began.

The second superpower was in charge of the Palas. Palas, being a Buddhist religion, imposed a ban on eating fish at the mantra of ‘Jiv Hotta Mahapaap’. And so persecution also began.

But the people of this region were fishermen for natural reasons. Therefore, the public outcry quickly took the form of rebellion. The uprising that took place around 1080 AD is known as the Kairavut rebellion. The Kivartas were mainly fishermen. However, this uprising appears to have supported not only the fishermen but also the people of the Barendra region.

The leader of the Kivartas was Swami Divya, however, he was once a royal servant under the salad. The Mahipala II was defeated and killed while trying to suppress them. This rebellion was identified as the first successful mass uprising in the Bengal region.

Final fall of the clan

Shurapala II caught the pulse after the fall of the Mahipala II. And after the Shurapala, Rampala spread a little more light into the sky. On the other hand, Rudraksha and then Bhima took power after Divya in Barendra region. Rudraksha and Bhima were both good governors.

Rampala became alarmed by their popularity and attacked Bhima with the help of some other feudal lords. When Bhima was captured in a fierce battle, Rampala brutally killed her along with family.

With the death of Bhima, the Varendra region again falls under the sails. Rampala was able to dominate most of Orissa, Kamrup, with the restoration of most of the Bangla region.

After Rampala’s death, no other powerful ruler was seen in the palace. His son Kumarapala took power after Rampala. At that time, the boundaries of the flock gradually narrowed. It was during this time that the army was raised in the Radha region.

Gopal begins Gopal ends!

Nearly four hundred years after the emergence of the Pala dynasty by the appointment of a Gopal king about four hundred years ago, the clause reached another Gopala III before the final fall of that Pala dynasty. He is the fourth Gopala of the Pala king.

It is believed that he was killed by the enemy. During his next reign, the Pala Empire collapsed. The one who was on the throne of the flock was the shepherd. The empire, which was established on the shores of the Palas by the Madanapala, in the 1161 AD, was the final downfall. With the fall of the Palas, a new rule was introduced in the Bengal region.

Although the rise and fall of the dynasty is a normal and common occurrence in history, the history of the Palas is a little exceptional. Reviewing the history of the world, the philosopher Ibn Khaldun concluded with a simplification, that a dynasty could usually last 100 years in power.

Although simplification is usually flawed, the survival of a dynasty for more than a hundred years is unavoidable in the history of the world. During the reigns of some of the dynasties who ruled for a long time, the Pala dynasty has occupied a unique place in history.