Mularaja (r. 941 – 996 CE) was the founder of the Chaulukya dynasty of India. Also known as the Chalukyas of Gujarat or Solanki, this dynasty ruled parts of present-day Gujarat. Mularaja supplanted the last Chavda king, and founded an independent kingdom with his capital in Anahilapataka in 940-941 CE.
|King of Gurjara|
|Reign||c. 941 – c. 996 CE|
|Predecessor||Vanaraja (Chavda dynasty)|
The Kumarapala-Bhupala-Charita of Jayasimha Suri provides a legendary genealogy of Mularaja. It states that the mythical progenitor of the Chaulukya dynasty was Chulukya, a great warrior. He established his capital at Madhupadma, and the dynasty came to be known as the Chaulukyas after him. His successors included several kings including Simha-Vikrama and Hari-Vikrama. After 85 descendants of Hari-Vikrama came Rama. Bhata or Sahajarama, the son of Rama, defeated the Shakas. Bhata's son Dadakka defeated the Gaja kings of Pipasa. Dadakka's kingdom occupied by Kanchikavyala, who was succeeded by the king Raji. Mularaja was the son of Raji and his queen Liladevi.
The Vadasma (Varunasarmaka) grant inscription of Mularaja's son Chamundaraja states that Mularaja was a descendant of one Vyalakanchi-Prabhu. This Vyalakanchi is probably same as the Kanchikavyala mentioned by Jayasimha Suri. Based on this, historian Asoke Majumdar believes that Suri's legendary account seems to be at least partially accurate: Rama and his successors appear to be historical figures. It is possible that they were small princes of a place called Madhupadma. V. V. Mirashi speculated that this place might have been situated on the banks of the river Madhuveni (present-day Mahuwar), which is a tributary of Betwa. Majumdar, on the other hand, identifies it with modern Mathura.
The 14th century chronicler Merutunga states that Mularaja was so named, because he was born under the auspices of the Mula nakshatra. According to this legend, Raji (or Raja), Bija and Dandaka (or Dadakka) were three brothers. Raji's knowledge of horse-riding greatly impressed Samanta-simha, the Chapotkata (Chavda) king of Anahilapataka. He became a close friend of the king, and married Liladevi, the king's sister. Liladevi died while she was pregnant; her womb was cut open and the infant Mularaja was taken out.
Three other chroniclers — Arisimha, Udayaprabha and Krishnaji — also describe Mularaja as the son of sister of the last Chapotkata ruler.
According to Merutunga's legend, Mularaja gained reputation as a warrior. His uncle Samanta-simha would often appoint him as the king when drunk, and depose him when he became sober. Mularaja, who was an ambitious man, was regularly disappointed in this way. One day, when a drunk Samanta-simha appointed him as the king, Mularaja killed his uncle, and became the permanent king. However, Merutunga's legend doesn't seem to be chronologically consistent: it claims that Samanta-simha ruled for 7 years. If Samanta-simha's sister married Raji during his reign, as the legend states, Mularaja would have been less than 7 years old at the time of Samanta-simha's death. This absurdity, coupled with other evidence, has prompted some scholars such as Georg Bühler to dismiss Merutunga's legend as unhistorical.
One of Mularaja's own inscriptions states that he conquered the region watered by Sarasvati river with the strength of his arms. The Vadnagar prashasti inscription of his descendant Kumarapala states that he took the Chapotkata princes captive. Bühler theorized that Mularaja was an outsider who captured Samanta-simha's kingdom. However, Asoke Majumdar proposed that he was indeed a relative of the king, based on the following facts: The Vadnagar inscription as well as the writings of Hemachandra suggest that Mularaja reduced the tax burden on the citizens. The inscription also states that he shared the wealth of the Chapotkata kings with his relatives, Brahmins, bards, and servants. Majumdar argues that if Mularaja had captured the Chapotkata kingdom with an army, he would not have felt the need to resort to such appeasement. Therefore, Majumdar theorizes that Mularaja indeed murdered his uncle and then consolidated power with 'soft' measures such as reduced tax burden and sharing of wealth.
However, there is no doubt that Mularaja dethroned the Chapotkata king. One of Mularaja's own inscriptions states that he conquered the region watered by Sarasvati river with the strength of his arms. The Vadnagar prashasti inscription of his descendant Kumarapala states that he took the Chapotkata princes captive, took their fortune for his own enjoyment, and became popular among his subjects because of excessively light taxation.
According to the later Chaulukya court poet Someshvara's Surathotsava, Mularaja appointed Sola as his family priest. According to Bühler, such changes to the royal household would have not happened, if Mularaja had ascended the throne by the right of succession after the death of the last Chapotkata king. Therefore, Bühler theorized that Mularaja was an outsider who captured Samanta-simha's kingdom. However, historian Asoke Majumdar proposed that he was indeed a relative of the king, based on the following facts: The Vadnagar inscription as well as the writings of Hemachandra suggest that Mularaja reduced the tax burden on the citizens. The inscription also states that he shared the wealth of the Chapotkata kings with his relatives, Brahmins, bards, and servants. Majumdar argues that if Mularaja had captured the Chapotkata kingdom with an army, he would not have felt the need to resort to such appeasement. Therefore, Majumdar theorizes that Mularaja indeed murdered his uncle and then consolidated power with 'soft' measures such as reduced tax burden and sharing of wealth.
At the time of his ascension, Mularaja's kingdom was probably limited to the territory called Sarasvata-mandala, which included present-day Mehsana, Radhanpur, and Palanpur. By the end of his reign, his kingdom extended from Mount Abu in the north to Lata region in the south.
War against Graharipu and LakshaEdit
Hemachandra's writings state that Mularaja defeated Graharipu, the "Abhira" (that is, Chudasama) king of Saurashtra. However, no other Chaulukya-era accounts mention this victory. According to Hemachandra, one night, Mahadeva appeared in Mularaja's dream, and ordered him to vanquish Graharipu. In the morning, Mularaja consulted his ministers Jambaka and Jehula, as he was apprehensive of causing troubles to the pilgrims who visited Prabhasa in Saurashtra. Jambaka was his Mahamantri (chief minister) while Jehula, the Ranaka of Kahiralu (now Kheralu), was his Mahapradhana (prime minister), according to Hemachandra's commentator Abhayatilaka-Gani. Jehula told Mularaja that Graharipu was a tyrant who tortured pilgrims and indulged in vices such as eating flesh, drinking wine and hunting deer in sacred places. Jambaka described Graharipu as a very strong king, and declared that only Mularaja was capable of defeating him. Both the ministers urged Mularaja to attack Graharipu.
Mularaja launched a campaign against Graharipu on the day of Vijayadashami. When the Chalukya army reached the Jambumali forest, Graharipu attempted a peaceful resolution by sending his messenger, who asked Mularaja to retreat, stating that there was no enmity between the two kings. However, Mularaja refused to do so, declaring that Mularaja was a despicable person whose vices could be attributed to his mlechchha maternal ancestry. When Mularaja continued his march, Graharipu started his war preparations. His allies included Medas (Bhillas according to Abhayatilaka-Gani), his friend Laksha (who had freed Kachchha from the Turushkas), and a king named Sindhuraja. After the war began, he was joined by a mlechchha chief (a Turushka, according to Abhayatilaka-Gani).
Mularaja was supported by the kings Gangamaha of Gangadvara and his younger brother, Mahitrata, Revatimitra, and Shailaprastha. The Paramara king of Abu, who lived at Shrimala, also joined him. In addition, Mularaja was supported by the Bhillas and the Kauravas. After the battle began, several others including the king of Saptakashi and a number of Gujarati soldiers, joined him.
The battle took place on the river Jambumalli (identified as Bhogavo River in Saurashtra; a village named Jambu near Limbdi is located on the banks of this river). The battle continued for two days indecisively. On third day, Mularaja entered battle on an elephant and Graharipu mounted on his elephant in rage. Mularaja overpowered Graharipu in a single combat and throw him down from his elephant, and had him tied up with ropes.
Laksha, wearing white clothes, rushed in and abused Mularaja calling him Mula. He asked Mularaja to release Graharipu, but Mularaja refused to comply, on the grounds that the captive was a beef-eater. This led to another single combat, in which Mularaja killed Laksha with a spear. The men of Saurashtra then made a submission before Mularaja, dressed as women. Queen and children of Graharipu requested Mularaja to release him which he did. The king then released the prisoners and visited the Prabhasa city in Saurashtra. According to Abhayatilaka-Gani, Mularaja prayed on the day of Shivaratri. Within five-six days, Mularaja returned capital with 108 elephants.
The fight between Mularaja and Laksha has also been mentioned by the 14th century writer Merutunga in Prabandha-Chintamani. According to this version, Laksha (or Lakha) was the son of Phulada, who was a meat-herd. Phulada married Kamalata, a daughter of Paramara king Kirtiraja. Laksha repulsed Mularaja's attacks 11 times. However, in their 12th fight, Mularaja besieged his fort Kapilkot (now Kera, Kutch), killed him, and trod him on his beard. Enraged by his insulting action, Laksha's mother cursed Mularaja's family to be afflicted with leprosy. A similar account is also given in Kumarapalacharita.
Most of Graharipu's allies named by Hemachandra appear to be fictional, but Laksha appears to be a historical character, as he has been mentioned in several other chronicles including Kirti-Kaumudi, Vasanta-Vilasa, and Sukrita-Sankirtana. He may be same as Lakha Phulani, whom the Jadeja princes of Kutch count among their ancestors, and whom the bardic chronicles variously date between 841 and 1144 CE.
Historian Asoke Majumdar theorizes that Mularaja attacked Graharipu on "some flimsy pretext", as Mahadeva's-order-in-a-dream was a popular device used by Sanskrit authors to justify the otherwise inexcusable actions of their heroes. Mularaja's descendants fought against the kings of Kachchha and Saurashtra, so it appears that he managed to annex some parts of these kingdoms, but could not completely subjugate them.
Conflict with Vigraharaja IIEdit
Merutunga states that Mularaja once faced simultaneous invasions at the northern and southern frontiers of his kingdom. The northern invader was the king of Sapadalaksha, who can be identified as the Shakambhari Chahamana ruler Vigraharaja II. This invasion finds a mention in the later Chahamana accounts, but is not mentioned in Vigraharaja's 973 CE inscription, so it must have happened sometime after 973 CE. The southern invader was the Lata Chalukya ruler Barapa, a vassal of the Kalyani Chalukya ruler Tailapa II.
According to Merutunga, Mularaja's ministers advised him to take shelter in the Kantha-durga fort until Navaratri, when Vigraharaja would depart to perform the traditional worship of his family deity, and then attack Barapa. Mularaja agreed to this suggestion, but unexpectedly, Vigraharaja did not depart on Navaratri. Mularaja then collected a large number of soldiers from different parts of his kingdom, and led an army to the Chahamana camp. He managed to enter the royal pavallion of Vigraharaja, who, after a short conversation, was impressed with his bravery. Mularaja asked Vigraharaja not to attack him while he was engaged in a war with Barapa, and the Chahamana agreed to the demand. Vigraharaja also promised to maintain friendly relations with Mularaja, who subsequently attacked and killed Barapa.
Prithviraja Vijaya, which was composed under Chahamana patronage, states that Vigraharaja forced Mularaja to take shelter in Kantha-durga, and advanced as far as Bhrigukachchha (modern Bharuch), where he built a temple dedicated to the goddess Ashapuri. The 15th century Hammira Mahakavya, which glorifies the Chahamana lineage, inaccurate claims that Vigraharaja killed Mularaja.
It is hard to determine the historical truth from these different accounts. Historian R. B. Singh theorizes that Mularaja ceded a part of his territory to the Chahamanas. Historian Dasharatha Sharma also believes that the conflict ended with some advantage for Vigraharaja, who allied with Barapa and helped him achieve independence. Historian Asoke Kumar Majumdar theorizes that Mularaja may have paid Vigraharaja money to win him over, and the two kings may have then jointly marched up to Bhrighkachchha against Barapa.
The Jain authors present Mularaja as fully involved in Vedic and Brahmanical notions of kingship, while at the same time extensively supporting the Jains as a matter of royal policy. Although he was a Shaivaite, he built Mulavasatika (Mula's residence) temple for Digambaras and the Mulanatha-jinadeva (the Jina who is Mula's lord) temple for the Svetambaras.
Surathotsava of Someshvara, a thirteenth century Brahmana, describes Mularaja being consecrated as king through the performance of a Vedic Vajapeya sacrifice.
The original Rudra Mahalaya Temple at Shristhala (now Siddhpur) is ascribed to him traditionally. According to Kadi copperplate grant, Rudra Mahalaya was already there in 987 CE. He had constructed Munjaladevaswami and Tripurushaprasada temples in Anahilapataka (now Patan). He had also built Mulnarayana-prasada at Siddhpur. The Mulavasahika Jain temple is ascribed to him. Jinaprabha mentions the temple of Mulanathjinadeva which is probably same as Munjaladevaswami. In 954 CE, Minister Kunkana built a Jain temple at Chandravati which was consecrated by Sarvadevasuri. The Mulavastika temple in Patan constructed by Mularaja is also mentioned in an Digambara Jain inscription dated Samvat 1250s of Bhima II rule. Merutunga's Prabandha-Chintamani mentions building of Muleshwara temple at Mandali (now Mandal) which is the same as Mulanathadeva temple mentioned in Kadi copperplate grants. This is last temple built before 987 CE.
After defeating Graharipu, he had probably rebuilt large temple at Somnath. H. P. Shastri and M. A. Dhaky had concluded this based on paleographic and stylistic evidences. He had settled Brahmans in Vadnagar migrated from North India. He probably had built Hatakeshwara temple for them but the original temple is obscured following major renovation in 19th century.
Muni Bawa Temple near Thangadh is an extant temple of this period. The older part of Adinath temple at Vadnagar and ruins of Khokhra-dera at Kanthkot were built during later period of his reign. The temple of Harishchandra-ni-Chori in Shamlaji also belongs to this period.
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