India is a land of brave warriors of who even the foreign kings feared to face. Best example is how King Alexandar was defeated by King Porus. Today we are going to mention few kings who are remembered till date because of their contribution to our nation.
- Shivaji (Maratha Empire)
He started from a size zero empire, fought against the Mughal Empire and lead to their collapse in the 18th century. To establish the Maratha Empire, Shivaji Maharaj started off with 2000 soldiers and brought that count to 100,000. Even though he inherited the first 2000 soldiers, increasing the total count to 1,00,000 was not easy. It requires the guts and skill to unite so many people. Marathas were surrounded by Adilshahs and the Aurangzebs whom they fought afterwards. He instilled the confidence in Marathas to fight the tyranny and injustice. In his reign, he captured more than 350 forts and built more than 20 inland and coastal forts.
“The fighting spirit of Maratha King Shivaji has always been a source of inspiration for army men” by Ex-Indian Army Chief General J J Singh
Kasihki Kala Gayee, Mathura Masid Bhaee; Gar Shivaji Na Hoto,
To Sunati Hot Sabaki!
(Kashi has lost its splendour, Mathura has become a mosque;
If Shivaji had not been, All would have been circumcise)
– Kavi Bhushan (c. 1613-1712) was an Indian poet
- Emperor Ashoka
Born in 304 B.C. Samrat Ashoka was the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya. Ashoka was son of Second Mauryan Emperor, Bindusara. Bindusara ruled for nearly 25 years. His death took place in about 273 B.C. It is said that in order to ascend the throne, Ashoka killed 99 of his brothers, sparing only one, named Vitashoka or Tissa.
Ashoka was once a very aggressive ruler of Hindustan. He was such a conqueror that he controlled a land more than 3 million sq km. But Emperor Ashoka’s life took an U-turn after the Kalinga war which had resulted in the death of more than 2,00,000 soldiers . Ashoka converted to Buddhism at around 263 BC. He is the one who spread Buddhism outside India.
- Chandragupta Maurya
Chandragupta Maurya was the founder of the Mauryan Empire in ancient India. Chandragupta Maurya is known in Indian history for conquering most of the Indian subcontinent and giving political unity to India who laid the foundation of Mauryan Empire. It is said that before his rule most of the South Asia was divided into small states. He learnt politics and war from Chanakya (also known as Kautilya). Chandragupta was just 20 years old at the time when he founded the empire.
In foreign Greek and Latin accounts, Chandragupta is known as Sandrokottos and Androcottus. He became well known in the Hellenistic world for conquering Alexander the Great’s easternmost satrapies, and for defeating the most powerful of Alexander’s successors, Seleucus I Nicator, in battle. Chandragupta subsequently married Seleucus’s daughter to formalize an alliance and established a policy of friendship with the Hellenistic kingdoms, which stimulated India’s trade and contact with the western world. The Greek diplomat Megasthenes, who visited the Maurya capital Pataliputra, is an important source of Maurya history.
- Samudragupta and his son Chandragupta II/Vikramaditya (Gupta empire)
This is the duo of the greatest kings who never lost a battle. It can be said that it was India’s golden age when it was ruled by these both. Samudragupta and his son Chandragupta II/Vikramaditya issued proper currency system through minted gold coins.
Samudragupta is also known to have been “a man of culture”. He was a patron of learning, a celebrated poet and a musician. Several coins depict him playing on the Indian Iyre or Veena. He gathered a galaxy of poets and scholars and took effective actions to foster and propagate religious, artistic and literary aspects of Indian culture. Though he favoured the Hindu religion like the other Gupta kings, he was reputed to possess a tolerant spirit for other religions. A clear illustration of this is the permission granted by him to the king of Ceylon to build a monastery for Buddhist pilgrims in Bodh Gaya.
Chandragupta II controlled a vast empire, from the mouth of the Ganges to the mouth of the Indus River and from what is now North Pakistan down to the mouth of the Narmada. Patalipura continued to be the capital of his huge empire but Ujjain too became a sort of second capital. The large number of beautiful gold coins issued by the Gupta dynasty is a testament to the grandeur of that age. Chandragupta II also started producing silver coins in the Saka tradition.
- Krishna Devaraya (Vijayangara Empire)
Krishnadevaraya was the emperor of the Vijayanagara Empire from 1509 to 1529. He was the third ruler of the Tuluva Dynasty. Presiding over the empire at its zenith, he is regarded as an icon by many Indians. He was the most powerful of all the Hindu rulers of India at that time. Indeed, when the Mughal Babur was taking stock of the potentates of north India, Krishnadevaraya was rated the most powerful and had the most extensive empire in the subcontinent.
The annual affair of the raid and plunder of Vijayanagar towns and villages by the Deccan sultans came to an end during the Raya’s rule. He defeated the last remnant of Bahmani Sultanate power which led to the collapse of the Bahmani Sultanate. In 1509 Krishnadevaraya’s armies clashed with the Sultan of Bijapur at Diwani and the Sultan Mahmud was severely injured and defeated. Yusuf Adil Khan was killed and the Raichur Doab was annexed. Taking advantage of the victory and the disunity of the Bahamani Sultans, the Raya invaded Bidar, Gulbarga and Bijapur and earned the title “establisher of the Yavana kingdom” when he released Sultan Mahmud and made him de facto ruler.
- Ajatasatru (Magadha empire)
Ajatashatru was a king of the Haryanka dynasty of Magadha in North India. He was the son of King Bimbisara and was a contemporary of both Mahavira and Gautama Buddha.
After conquering Vaishali, Kasi and Kosala (Kaushala) Ajatashatru conquered 36 republican states surrounding his kingdom and firmly established the predominance of Magadha. Ajatashatru was monarch of a huge kingdom, which covered almost all of modern India’s Bihar,Chandigarh, Haryana, Uttarakhan,Himanchal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, one fourth of north Madhya Pradesh, tip of Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
- Pulikesin II (Chalukya empire)
Ereya, who assumed the name Pulakeshin on his coronation, was born to the Chalukya king Kirtivarman I. When Kirtivarman I died in 597, Ereya was still a young boy and Kirtivarman’s brother Mangalesha governed the young kingdom as regent until Ereya came of age Ereya ascended the Chalukya throne as Pulakeshin II and assumed the title Chalukya Parameshwara.
Xuanzang was a Chinese traveler who visited India in the 7th century. Xuanzang praised the Chalukya king Pulakeshin II as a “man of farsighted resource and astuteness who extends kindness to all”. His subjects obey him with perfect submission. The people of the Chalukya kingdom left a strong impression on him. He stated: The people preferred death to disloyalty. They were tall and sturdy in stature and proud and carefree by nature, grateful for kindness and revengeful for injustice. If they or their family were insulted they would call for a duel. Xuanzang vividly described the Chalukya army of Pulakeshin II, which had hundreds of well-trained and armed warriors as well as numerous elephants which were given alcohol before letting loose on the battlefield
Although Pulakeshin II was a Hindu ruler, Xuanzang mentioned that there were one hundred Buddhist monasteries in his kingdom.
- Harshavardana (Vardhana empire)
Harsha also known as Harshavardhana, was an Indian emperor who ruled North India from 606 to 647 CE. He belonged to Pushyabhuti dynasty and was the son of Prabhakarvardhanna who defeated the Huna invaders and the younger brother of Rajyavardhan a king of Thanesar, present-day Haryana.
- Narasimhavarman I (Pallava empire)
Narasimhavarman I was a Tamil king of the Pallava dynasty who ruled South India from 630–668 AD. He shared his father Mahendravarman I’s love of art and completed the work started by Mahendravarman in Mamallapuram.
He avenged his father’s defeat at the hands of the Chalukya King, Pulakeshin Pulakeshin II in the year 642 AD. Narasimhavarman was also known as Mamallan (great wrestler), and Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) was named after him.
It was during his reign, in 640 AD, that the Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang visited Kanchipuram.
- Raja Raja Chola & Rajendra Chola (10th century AD)
The greatest of Tamil kings and among the best of India – the father-son duo established the Tamil empire in South East Asia. They built 100+ great temples (including the Tanjore Siva temple) that are a part of UNESCO’s world heritage site. Unlike other kings of Bharat, they proceeded to extend their influence beyond India and controlled the Indian ocean’s trade routes.
Credits: Balaji Vishwanathan