Ramacharitam

The Ramacharitam is a Sanskrit epic poem written in Arya metre by Sandhyakar Nandi (c. 1084 - 1155 CE) during Pala Empire. This work simultaneously narrates the story of the Ramayana and the Pala king Ramapala.[1][2]

ManuscriptsEdit

A palm-leaf manuscript was discovered by Haraprasad Shastri from Nepal and published in 1910 by the Asiatic Society, Kolkata.[2] Translations in English and Bangla were published in 1939 and 1953, respectively.[2]

AuthorEdit

Sandhyakar Nandi was patronaged by Madanapala and his biographical details are retrieved from the Kaviprashasti (of 20 couplets) appended at the end.[3] Nandi hailed from Brihadbatu, a village close to Pundravardhana, and was the son of Prajapati Nandi, who was the Sandhi-Vigrahika (minister of peace and war) of Ramapala.[2][3]

ContentEdit

The poem, in four cantos, details the historical events in Bengal from the assassination of the Pala emperor Mahipala II by Divya, a rebel Kaivarta samanta up to the reign of Madanapala in 215 verses, employing double entendre.[1][2][4][5] The central theme is the loss and subsequent recovery of Varendra.

The first and second cantos of the text describes, what has been since called "Varendra rebellion".[4]

Varendra RebellionEdit

In an asymmetrical battle between Mahipala II and a group of samantas (led by Divya, a Kaivarta), the former was defeated and his relatives imprisoned.[4] Whilst the causes of the battle are not discussed, the defeat is blamed on Mahipala's poor strategy of war set against the explicit advice of councilors.[4] Varendra was ceded away from Palas, and the House of Kaivartas were established.[4]

Divya was succeeded by his nephew, Bhima.[4] In the meanwhile, Ramapala, a brother of Mahipala fled Varendra and assumed the remnants of Pala throne.[4] Wishing to reclaim lost territories, he traveled around the kingdom purchasing assistance from Samantas.[4] Among these samantas were his kinsmen from the Rashtrakutas of Anga, maternal uncle Mahana, and nephew Sivarajadeva.[4]

Sivarajadeva would executed the first raid on the Kaivartas, destroying their defensive arrangements.[4] This was followed by the main battle where Ramapala's army —cavalry, infantry, boat-units and elephant-men along with those of Samantas'— met Bhima's forces.[4] In what is described as a battle of equals, Bhima was defeated yet treated with honor by Vittapala, Ramapala's son.[4][a] Bhima however seem to have fled soon, for he enlarged his army by inducting untrained subjects from the lower rungs of society and confronted Ramapala again.[4] This turned out to be a one sided catastrophe with Bhima's men getting marauded; Bhima was captured and executed, after being made to witness the death of his own kinsmen.[4]

AnalysisEdit

Though biased in favour of Ramapala, the work remains the only literary source for middle-late Pala history including Varendra Rebellion.[6] The cause of the war between Dibyak and Mahipala II however can not be ascertained — R. C. Majumdar interpreted it to be a rebellion by a local samanta, strategically timed to the weakening of Pala authority whilst Ram Sharan Sharma took it to be a peasant rebellion against feudal suppression.[7][8] It is argued that the Dibar Dighi (incl. the Kaivarta Stambha) were commissioned to commemorate Divya's victory.[9]

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Nandi eulogizes his valor and virtues.[4]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Roy N. (1993). Bangalir Itihas: Adiparba, Dey's Publishing, Calcutta, ISBN 81-7079-270-3, p.583
  2. ^ a b c d e "Ramacharitam, The - Banglapedia". en.banglapedia.org. Retrieved 2021-06-24.
  3. ^ a b "Sandhyakar Nandi - Banglapedia". en.banglapedia.org. Retrieved 2021-06-24.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Furui, Ryosuke (2014). "CHARACTERISTICS OF KAIVARTA REBELLION DELINEATED FROM THE RĀMACARITA". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 75: 93–98. ISSN 2249-1937.
  5. ^ Roy, Kumkum (2009). "The Artful Biographer: Sandhyakaranandin's Ramacharitam". In Ramaswamy, Vijaya; Sharma, Yogesh (eds.). Biography as History: Indian Perspectives. Orient Blackswann. pp. 17–29. ISBN 9788125035213.
  6. ^ Susan L. Huntington (1 January 1984). The "Påala-Sena" Schools of Sculpture. Brill Archive. p. 32. ISBN 90-04-06856-2.
  7. ^ Furui, Ryosuke (2014). "Characteristics of Kaivarta Rebellion Delineated from the Rāmacarita". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 75: 93–98. ISSN 2249-1937. JSTOR 44158366.
  8. ^ "Varendra Rebellion". Banglapedia. Retrieved 2021-06-24.
  9. ^ Rahman, Kazi Mostafizur (2012). "Dibar Dighi and Kaivarta Stambha". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.