|King of Vijayanagara Empire|
|Reign||July 26, 1509 - 1529|
|Titles||Kannada Rajya Rama Ramana, Mooru Rayaraganda, Andhra Bhoja.|
|Successor||Achyuta Deva Raya|
The reign of Sri Krishnadevaraya (Kannada: ಶ್ರೀ ಕೃಷ್ಣದೇವರಾಯ, Telugu:శ్రీకృష్ణదేవరాయ) (r. 1509-1529 C.E.) stands out as the high point in the history of the Vijayanagar Empire. Emperor Krishnadevaraya also earned the titles Kannada Rajya Rama Ramana (ಕನ್ನಡರಾಜ್ಯರಮಾರಮಣ), Moorurayaraganda (ಮೂರುರಾಯರಗಂಡ) (meaning "King of three kings"), and Andhra Bhoja (ఆంధ్రభోజ). He consolidated and expanded the empire through astute use of his massive military, successfully campaigning against the kingdoms to his north. Krishnadevaraya used diplomatic shrewdness with the recently arrived Portuguese on the west coast of India, deflecting any requests for an alliance to fight together against Portugal's foes while obtaining horses and technical knowledge, especially bringing water into Vijayanagaram City.
Krishnadevaraya proved a talented general and diplomat as well as architect and city planner. He embraced Hinduism, constructing the magnificent city of Vijayanagaram as a holy site for the worship of the Hindu gods as well as the administrative center of his vast empire. His kingdom possessed fabulous wealth, much of that going into an ambitious building program. Much of the empire's wealth came from tributes paid by kingdoms he conquered, including Andhra Pradesh, the Gijapati kings of Orissa, Raichur Doab, and the Deccan sultanates. Not all the wealth went into building temples, maintaining armies, and religious celebrations. He reserved much wealth for the promotion of scholarship. In that line, Krishnadevaraya may have left his greatest mark and attained his greatest fame. He ushered in the Golden Era of Telugu Literature, writing Amuktamalyada, a narrative poem describing the pangs of sorrow suffered by Godadevi when absent from her husband Vishnu.
Krishnadevaraya had been born to parents Nagala Devi and Tuluva Narasa Nayaka, an army commander under Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya, who later took control of the empire to prevent it from disintegration. He built a beautiful suburb near Vijayanagara called Nagalapura in memory of his mother. The king's coronation took place on the birthday of Lord Krishna and his earliest inscription dates July 26, 1509 C.E. The able prime minister Timmarusu, who with the coronation of Krishnadevaraya, assisted him in his administration. Krishnadevaraya revered Timmarusu as a father figure.
Along with inscriptions, writings of foreign travellers provide most of the information about his rule. The king, of medium height, had a cheerful disposition, respectful to foreign visitors, ruthless in maintaining the law and prone to fits of anger. He maintained himself at high level of physical fitness by daily physical exercise. From the travelogues it becomes apparent that the king had been an able administrator and an excellent army general. He led from the front and even attended to the wounded.
Krishnadevaraya ruled during a successful era in Vijayanagar history, its armies wining every campaign. On occasion, the king changed battle plans abruptly, turning a losing battle into victory. The first decade of his rule had been one of long sieges, bloody conquests and victories. His main enemies had been the Gajapatis of Orissa, with whom he had been constant warfare since the rule of Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya. The Bahamani Sultans, though divided into five small kingdoms, still posed a constant threat. The Portuguese rose as a maritime power and, hence, controlled much of the sea trade. The feudatory chiefs of Ummatur, Reddys of Kondavidu and Velamas of Bhuvanagiri had time and again rebelled against the Vijayanagar rule.
The Deccan sultans annual raid and plunder of Vijayanagar towns and villages came to an end during the Raya's rule. In 1509, Krishnadevaraya's armies clashed with the Sultan of Bijapur at Diwani. The sultan Mahmud suffered severe injuries in defeat. Yusuf Adil Khan died in battle, while Krishnadevaraya annexed Kovilkonda. Taking advantage of the victory and 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.
Raya subdued local rulers, Reddys of Kondavidu and Velamas of Bhuvanagiri, and seized lands up to the Krishna river. Gangaraja, the Ummatur chief, fought Krishnadevaraya on the banks of the Kaveri and lost. The chief later drowned in the Kaveri in 1512. The region became a part of the Srirangapatna province. In 1516-1517, he pushed beyond the Godavari river.
Raya defeated the Gajapatis of Orissa, who occupied northern Andhra, in five campaigns. The success at Ummatur provided the necessary impetus to carry his campaign into to Telangana region controlled by Gajapati Prathaparudra. In 1513, the Vijayanagar army laid a year siege to Udayagiri fort, routing the Gajapati army. Krishnadevaraya offered prayers at Tirumala Venkateswara Temple along with his wives Tirumala Devi and Chinna Devi. His kulaguru Vyasatirtha wrote many songs in praise of the king after that victory.
Next, he met the Gajapati army at Kondavidu. After a siege of a few months, Krishnadevaraya, along with Saluva Timmarasa, inflicted another defeat on Prathaparudra. Saluva Timmarasa took over as governor of Kondavidu thereafter. The Vijayanagar army then attacked the Gajapati army at Kondapalli, laying another siege. That campaign proved the final defeat for the Gajapathi king who offered his daughter, Jaganmohini, in marriage to Krishnadevaraya. She became his third queen.
Krishnadevaraya established friendly relations with the Portuguese, who set up the Portuguese Dominion of India in Goa in 1510. The Emperor obtained guns and Arabian horses from the Portuguese merchants. He also utilized Portuguese expertise in improving water supply to Vijayanagara City.
The complicated alliances of the empire, and the five Deccan sultanates, kept him constantly at war. In one of those campaigns, he defeated Golconda and captured its commander, Madurul-Mulk, crushed Bijapur and its sultan Ismail Adil Shah, and restored Bahmani sultanate to Muhammad Shah.
The highlight of his conquests occurred on May 19, 1520, when he secured the fortress of Raichur from Ismail Adil Shah of Bijapur after a difficult siege during which 16,000 Vijaynagar soldiers died. The grateful emperor suitably rewarded the exploits of the chief military commander, Pemmasani Ramalinga Nayudu, for his leadership in the battle of Raichur. During the campaign against Raichur, 703,000 foot soldiers, 32,600 cavalry, and 551 elephants engaged. Finally, in his last battle, he razed to the ground the fortress of Gulburga, the early capital of the Bahmani sultanate. His empire extended over the whole of South India.
In 1524, he made his son Tirumalai Raya the Yuvaraja though an assassin poisoned the crown prince shortly afterward. Suspecting the involvement of Saluva Timmarasa, Krishnadevaraya had his trusted commander and adviser blinded.
The phrase "the king maintains the law by killing" summarizes the king's attitude to matters of law and order. Crimes involving property and for murder ranged from cutting off a foot and hand for theft to beheading for murder. Paes felt incapable of accurately estimating the size of Vijaynagar as his view due to a lack of clear view. He ventured the guess that the city measured at least as large as Rome. Furthermore, he considered Vijaynagar "the best provided city in the world" with a population of not less than a half a million.
The empire had been divided into provinces and further subdivisions, often under the rule of members of the royal family. Kannada and Telugu constituted the official languages of the court. Krishnadevaraya not only ruled as a monarch in fact, but he also possessed the powers of a sovereign and charismatic leadership. With the assistance of Saluva Thimmarasa, he administered the Kingdom well, maintained peace in the land and increased the prosperity of the people.
Krishnadevaraya administered his empire in accord with his manuscript Amuktamalyada. He had the opinion that the king should always rule with an eye towards dharma. He made annual tours throughout the empire, during which he personally viewed the daily affairs of the empire. He would redressed people's grievances and command punishment to law breakers. Accounts like those give evidence of his concern for the welfare of the people.
The Portuguese Chronicler Domingo Paes praises Krishnadevaraya as, “the most feared and perfect King… a great ruler and a man of much justice.” Though a staunch follower of Vaishnavism, he showed respect all sects. Religious prejudice seldom influenced him either in granting gifts or in his choice of companions and officers. According to Barbosa, “The King allows such freedom that every man may come and go live according to his own creed, without suffering any annoyance.”
Krishnadevaraya ruled during a golden age of Telugu literature. Many Telugu, Sanskrit, Kannada and Tamil poets enjoyed the patronage of the emperor. Emperor Krishnadevaraya achieved fluency in many languages.
Kannada literature He patronized Kannada poets Mallanarya who wrote Veerasaivamrita, Bhavachintaratna, and Satyendra Cholakathe, Chatu Vittalanatha who wrote Bhagavatha, and Timmanna Kavi who wrote a eulogy of his king in Krishnaraya Bharata. Vyasatirtha, the great saint from Mysore belonging to the Madhwa order of Udupi had been his Rajguru who wrote many songs in praise of his devoted king. Krishnadevarayana Dinachari in Kannada represents a recently discovered work. The record highlights the contemporary society during Krishnadevaraya's time in his personal diary, although some question if the king wrote the diary.
Krishnadevaraya patronized Tamil poet Haridasa 
Sanskrit literature In Sanskrit, Vyasatirtha wrote Bhedojjivana, Tatparyachandrika, Nyayamrita (a work directed against Advaita philosophy), and Tarkatandava. Krishnadevaraya, an accomplished scholar, wrote Madalasa Charita, Satyavadu Parinaya, and Rasamanjari and Jambavati Kalyana.
Telugu literature Krishnadevarayalu’s ("Desa bhashalandu Telugu Lessa") reign marked the golden age of Telugu literature. Eight poets known as Astadiggajalu (eight elephants in the eight cardinal points) formed part of his court (known as Bhuvanavijayamu). According to the Vaishnavite religion, eight elephants stand in the eight corners of space, holding the earth in its place. Similarly, those eight poets constitute the eight pillars of his literary assembly. The membership of the Ashtadiggajas remains uncertain, although they may include the following: Allasani Peddana, Nandi Thimmana, Madayyagari Mallana, Dhurjati, Ayyalaraju Ramabhadrudu, Pingali Surana, Ramarajabhushanudu, and Tenali Ramakrishnudu.
Among those eight poets Allasani Peddana stood as the greatest, given the title of Andhra Kavita Pitamaha (the father of Telugu poetry). Manucharitramu stands as his most popular prabhanda work. Nandi Timmana wrote Parijataapaharanamu. Madayyagari Mallana wrote Rajasekhara Charitramu. Dhurjati wrote Kalahasti Mahatyamu and Ayyalraju Ramabhadrudu wrote Ramaabhyudayamu. Pingali Surana wrote the still remarkable Raghavapandaveeyamu, a dual work with double meaning built into the text, describing both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Battumurty alias Ramarajabhushanudu wrote Kavyalankarasangrahamu, Vasucharitramu, and Harischandranalopakhyanamu.
Among those works the last one embodies a dual work which tells simultaneously the story of King Harishchandra and Nala and Damayanti. Tenali Ramakrishna first wrote Udbhataradhya Charitramu, a Shaivite work and later wrote Vaishnava devotional texts Panduranga Mahatmyamu, and Ghatikachala Mahatmyamu. The period of the empire has become known as “Prabandha Period,” because of the quality of the prabandha literature produced during that time. Tenali Rama remains one of the most popular folk figures in India today, a quick-witted courtier ready even to outwit the all-powerful emperor.
Sri Krishnadevaraya wrote the Amuktamalyada in Telugu, in which he beautifully describes the pangs of separation suffered by Andal (one of the twelve bhakti era alwars) for her lover Lord Vishnu. He describes Andal’s physical beauty in thirty verses; using descriptions of the spring and the monsoon as metaphors. As elsewhere in Indian poetry (for example, Sringara) the sensual pleasure of union extends beyond the physical level and becomes a path to, and a metaphor for, spirituality and ultimate union with the divine.
Periyalwar, the father of Andal, plays one of the main characters. Lord Vishnu commands Periyalwar to teach a king of the Pandya dynasty the path of knowledge to moksha. Amuktamalyada, also known by the name Vishnuchitteeyam, refers to Vishnuchittudu, the telugu name of Periyalwar. In the course of the main story of Godadevi in Amuktamalyada, the telugu name of Andal appears throughout. Krishnarayalu proved well-versed in Sanskrit, Tamil and Kannada. Jambavati Kalyanamu is his Sanskrit work. He strove for the welfare and the enlightenment of Telugu people.
Krishna Deva Raya respected all forms of Hinduism, although he personally leaned in favor of Sri Vaishnavism, as evident in his literary tomes. He lavished on the Tirupati temple numerous objects of priceless value, ranging from diamond studded crowns to golden swords. Additionally, he commissioned statutes of himself and his two wives at the temple complex. Panchamatha Bhanjanam Tathacharya, the Rajaguru, formally initiated Krishnadevaraya into the Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya. He patronized Vyasatirtha and other Vedanta scholars. He patronized poets and scholars in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, and Sanskrit.
Achyuta Deva Raya
All links retrieved June 26, 2014.
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