Amoghavarsha I (Kannada: ಅಮೋಘವರ್ಷ ನೃಪತುಂಗ), (800 C.E. – 878 C.E.) was a Rashtrakuta king, the greatest ruler of the Rashtrakuta dynasty, and one of the great kings of India. Historians have compared him to the legendary Emperor Ashoka in his religious temperament and love of peace. Many Kannada and Sanskrit scholars prospered during his rule, including Mahaviracharya, who wrote Ganita-sara-samgraha, Jinasena, Virasena, Shakatayan, and Sri Vijaya. Amoghavarsha I was also a famous poet and scholar and wrote Kavirajamarga, the earliest extant literary work in Kannada and Prashnottara Ratnamalika, a religious work in Sanskrit. During his rule, he held such titles as Nripatunga, Atishadhavala, Veeranarayana, Rattamarthanda and Srivallabha. He moved the Rashtrakuta regal capital from Mayurkhandi in the Bidar district to Manyakheta in the Gulbarga district in the modern Karnataka state. He is said to have built a regal city to match that of Lord Indra. The capital city was planned to include elaborately designed buildings for the royalty using the finest of workmanship.
Amoghavarsha I preferred to maintain friendly relations with his neighbors and feudatories, and established marital alliances with the Gangas, Chalukas, and Pallavas. He patronized both Jainism and Hinduism; it is possible that he retired from the throne more than once to follow religious pursuits, and several texts relate that he practiced Jainism in his old age. The Jain Narayana temple of Pattadakal, (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) the basadi at Konnur and the Neminatha basadi at Manyakheta were built during his rule.
Amoghavarsha I (whose birth name was Sharva) was born in 800, in Sribhavan on the banks of the river Narmada during the return journey of his father, King Govinda III, from his successful campaigns in northern India. This information is available from the Manne records of 803, and the Sanjan plates of 871, both important sources of information about Amoghavarsha I. The Sirur plates further clarify that Amoghavarsha I ascended to the throne in 814, at the age of fourteen, after the death of his father. All his inscriptions thereafter refer to him as Amoghavarsha I. His guardian during his early years as king was his cousin, Karka Suvarnavarsha of the Gujarat branch of the empire.
A revolt, led by some of his relatives, together with feudatories of the kingdom, temporarily unseated Amoghavarsha I. With the help of his guardian and cousin (Karka), also called Patamalla, he reestablished himself as the king of the empire by 821. This information comes from the Surat records and the Baroda plates of 835. The first to revolt was the Western Ganga feudatory led by King Shivamara II. In the series of battles that followed, Shivamara II was killed in 816, and Amoghavarsha I's commander and confidant, Bankesha, was defeated in Rajaramadu by the next Ganga king, Rachamalla. Due to the resilience of the Gangas, Amoghavarsha I was forced to follow a conciliatory policy. He married his daughter, Chandrabbalabbe, to the Ganga king Buthuga and another daughter, Revakanimmadi, to the Ganga prince Ereganga. More revolts occurred between 818 and 820, but by 821, Amoghavarsha I had overcome all resistance and established a stable kingdom.
Vijayaditya II of the Eastern Chalukya family overthrew Bhima Salki, the ruling Rashtrakuta feudatory at Vengi, took possession of the throne and continued his hostilities against the Rashtrakutas. He captured Sthambha (modern Kammamettu), a Rashtrakuta stronghold. From the Cambay and Sangli plates it is known that Amoghavarsha I overwhelmingly defeated the Vengi Chalukyas and drove them out of their strongholds in the battle of Vingavalli. The Bagumra records mention a "Sea of Chalukyas" invading the Ratta kingdom which Amoghavarsha I successfully defended. After these victories, he assumed the title, Veeranarayana.
Tranquility was restored temporarily by a marriage between Vijayaditya II's son, Vishnuvardhana V, and the Ratta princess Shilamahadevi, a sister of Karka of the Gujarat branch. However, Vishnuvardhana V attacked the northern Kalachuri feudatory of the Rashtrakutas in Tripuri, central India, and captured Elichpur near Nasik. Amoghavarsha I killed Vishnuvardhana V in 846, but continued a friendly relationship with the next Chalukya ruler, Gunaga Vijayaditya III, and suppressed the recalcitrant Alupas of South Canara under prince Vimaladitya in 870. Likewise, Amoghavarsha I maintained friendly interactions with the Pallava, who were occupied keeping the Pandyas at bay. The Pallavas also had marital ties with the Rashtrakutas; Nandivarman was married to a Ratta princess, Sankha, and their son was also called Nripatunga. This has prompted historians to suggest that the Pallava king must have married Amoghavarsha I's daughter.
The Sanjan inscriptions of 871 claim that Amoghavarsha I made a great effort to overthrow the kingdom of the Dravidas and that the mobilization of his armies struck terror in the hearts of the kings of Kerala, Pandya, Chola, Kalinga, Magadha, Gujarat, and Pallava. The record also states that Amoghavarsha I imprisoned for life the Gangavamshi ruler, as well as those in his own court who had carried out plots against him.
Amoghavarsha I preferred to remain friendly with all his neighbors and feudatories, and avoided taking an aggressive posture against them. It is still debated whether he abdicated his throne at times to fulfill religious pursuits. He deeply cared for his subjects, and once when a calamity threatened to harm them, he offered his finger as a sacrifice to the goddess Mahalakshmi of Kholapur. For this act he has been compared to puranic heroes such as Bali, Shibi, and Jimutavahana. It is written that the rulers of Vanga, Anga, Magadha, Malwa, and Vengi worshiped him.
Amoghavarsha I was a disciple of Jinasenacharya. Proof of this comes from the writing, Mahapurana (also known as Uttara Purana), by Gunabhadra, in which the author states "blissful for the world is the existence of Jinasenacharya, by bowing to whom Amoghavarsha considered himself to be purified." The same writing proves that Amoghavarsha I was a follower of the "Digambara" branch of Jainism. His own writing, Kavirajamarga, is a landmark literary work in Kannada language and became a guide book for future poets and scholars for centuries to come. The Sanskrit work, Prashnottara Ratnamalika, is said to have been written by Amoghavarsha I in his old age, when he had distanced himself from the affairs of the state. However, others argue that it was written by Adi Shankara or by Vimalacharya.
Amoghavarsha I practiced both Jainism and Hinduism. His empire was one among the four great contemporary empires of the world, and because of his peaceful and loving nature, he has been compared to Emperor Ashoka, as noted above. The Jain Narayana temple of Pattadakal, ( a UNESCO World Heritage Site) the basadi at Konnur and the Neminatha basadi at Manyakheta were built during his rule. His queen was Asagavve. Writings such as Mahapurana by Gunabhadra, Prashnottara Ratnamalika, and Mahaviracharya's Ganita sara sangraha are evidence that Amoghavarsha I had taken up Jainsim in his old age. Famous scholars of his time were Shakatayan, Mahaveera, Virasena, Jinasena, Gunabhadra, and Sri Vijaya.
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