January 11, 2015

THE BADAMI CHALUKYA - Part VII

BOOKS ON THIS DYANSTY

Since the rule of the Badami Chalukyas culminated over 1,200 years ago, the information available regarding them in the forms of inscriptions and other historical accounts is fairly limited. As such, the books available on this subject too are relatively few as compared to 'modern' dynasties like the Mughals or the Marathas. Anyway, following is a list of books that I have read about this illustrious line of rulers during the last few months.

POLITICAL HISTORY OF THE CHALUKYAS OF BADAMI - D P DIKSHIT

'Keep it simple and stick to the point' is the mantra that Professor Dikshit had adopted in his book on the early Chalukyas. Published by Abhinav Publications and priced at a nominal sum of Rs. 200/-, the 'Political History of the Chalukyas of Badami' is a bible for anybody interested in the glorious history of this dynasty. As you read this book, you can easily make out how much effort has gone into it; truly, Professor must be credited for painstakingly going through the inscriptions that have been unearthed in the past and referring to the works of other eminent historians who have researched on this subject before him. What makes this a must read for history lovers is that he, like a true historian, he has used the available information in answering some of the most complex questions regarding the Early Chalukyas to the best of his abilities while also questioning some previously held assumptions.

For example, as far as the rise of the Vatapi kingdom is concerned, it is generally believed that they defeated their former overlords - the Kadambas of Banavasi to lay the foundation of their kingdom. However, Professor Dikshit's view on this is completely different; in fact, it is 'radical' to say the least. However, the reasons that he gives in support of his argument are quite convincing, though we cannot be take them to be the gospel truth as yet. Similarly, his take on the regnal years of Mangalesa, the date of the Harsha - Pulakeshi II including the circumstances that led to it and most importantly, his take on the series of events in the 13 years when the Pallavas held Vatapi are 'insightful' to say the least. Besides giving us a detailed political history of the clan, the book also has three sections dedicated to other aspects including General Administration, Finance and Military Organization. Finally, the last chapter consists of list of Chalukyan inscriptions, their dates and the information that they provide us with. This is the first time that I am coming across something like this and I must say, I am quite impressed with it. Probably, it will be great if other historians too follow this approach while writing books.

THE CHALUKYAS OF BADAMI (SEMINAR PAPERS) - MYTHIC SOCIETY

In 1974, the Mythic Society - a well reputed library based out of Bangalore which takes a keen interest in history and anthropology hosted a seminar where it invited historians and scholars to present their works on the Badami Chalukyas. The papers presented by about 30 scholars was collected and later published in the form of a book, four years later. Even before I review the book, I as a lover of history must thank the Myhtic Society for their excellent initiative. Indian history will certainly be enriched if more such conferences and seminars are conducted on a regular basis across the country.

Coming back to the review, this was the first time that I was reading such a collection of research papers written by some of the most eminent historians of the 70s and I must say that I enjoyed it. One third of the 30 chapters in the book are regarding the political history of the dynasty. The information though not as detailed as in the previous book, is pretty good, especially for those who do not like being bombarded with loads of information. However, it was some of the chapters on other topics that I liked reading the most; chapters like the one on Chalukyan Queens or the Chalukya - Ganga Relationship or the one on Chalukya - Pallava Conflict were very interesting; only well-read scholars can write articles on topics like these. Besides, there are sections on Chalukyan architecture, the social life during their times, their administration, their inscriptions in Kannada and Telugu, the impact that this dynasty had on the subsequent history of the Deccan et all; you rarely find such a wealth of information, that too from so many different experts in a single book. Of course, there are some chapters where you will not be able to follow what the author is trying to say since you lack the necessary information in that field. Still, over all, this book does provide you a holistic picture regarding the Chalukyas of Badami.

Priced at Rs. 50/-, this is perhaps one of the cheapest books that I have ever read. However, the problem is that finding a copy online is almost impossible. In fact, I went to the Mythic Society  at Nrupthunga Road (Link) to get a copy over an year ago. Also, there seem to be very few copies remaining and the lady there told me that they do not have any plans to reprint this book anytime in the near future. Hence, in case you need one, please pick a copy before it runs out of stock.

Read the complete series on Badami Chalukyas here (Link)