The Empire of Gujjara-Pratiharas extended from the foothills of the Himalayas to Ujjain in the south and from Gujarat in the west to Mongyr in the east. Actually Pratiharas were a branch of Gujjara tribe who entered India in large numbers during the invasion of Hunas. Few ancient records show the association of Pratiharas and Gujjaras. The most import among these records by the Kanarese poet Pampa. He calls Mahipala as Gujjara-raja.
Pratihara actually mean door keeper. They are actually called so as their ancestor Lakshmana served as a door keeper to his elder brother Lord Rama. This is confirmed by an inscription found at Jodhpur. However, modern historians believe that the name Pratihara was derived from one of the ancestor king who served the office of Pratihara in Rashtrakuta court. Pratihara kings initially founded various kingdoms in Rajasthan and Gujarat. These kings together formed Gurjaradesa.
The earliest Pratihara dynasty was founded by Harichandra near modern Jodhpur in the middle of sixth century. But Prachakaravardhana, ruler of Thaneshwar did not like this. Finally this resulted in a conflict between them.
According to Gwalior inscription of Bhoja, the most important ruling family was founded by Nagabhatta I at Malwa with Ujjain as the capital. This inscription also mentions that king Nagabhatta defeated a powerful Mlechchha kings (Arabs).
The following is the description about the important rules of this empire,
- He is the founder of this dynasty.
- He defended western India from Arabs. He extended the boundary of Pratiharas up to Broach.
- He died in 760 AD and then was succeeded by his brother Kakustha and then Devaraja. Both these rulers have no individuality or the charm of a king.
- He ruled from 775 AD to 800 AD
- He is the grandnephew of Nagabatta I
- Vatsaraja is the son and successor of Devaraja.
- He has been praised as a mighty ruler and distinguished Kshatriya.
- He is named as Ranahastin Vatsaraja in Kuvalayamala (composed in 778 AD), a famous Jaina work.
- Vatsaraja defeated Bhandi clan represented by Indrayudha. Indrayudha exercised imperial power with the authority of Kannauj.
- He defeated Dharmapala with the help of Chahamana feudatory. But later he suffered defeat in the hands of Rashtrakuta king Dhurva.
- Finally with this defeat Pratiharas lost their hold on Malwa region. Vatsaraja was forced to take shelter at Rajasthan. Consequently, Rajasthan became the center of the political activities of Pratiharas.
- He ruled from 805 AD to 833 AD.
- Vatsaraja was succeeded by his son Nagabatta II. He made Pratiharas as the toughest power of North India.
- About 816 AD, he defeated Chandrayudha, Dharmapala and made Kannauj as the capital of Pratiharas.
- The Gwalior inscription of Bhoja describes all the victories of Nagabatta II.
- Nagabatta II also defeated Sultan Vega Varisha. This victory over Arabs is mentioned in Prabhandakosha. The Dholpur inscription of Chahamana chief, Chandramahasena claims that Nagabatta II was respected even by Arab rulers.
- He tried to revive all the lost fortunes of this family. But he could not do so.
- The areas under Pratihara Empire during Nagabatta II comprised of Rajputana, Uttar Pradesh, Central India, Northern Kathiawar and adjacent places.
- He ruled from 836 AD to 880 AD.
- He was the son and successor of Ramabhadra and the greatest Pratihara king. With his succession the Pratihara power reached new heights.
- Mihira Bhoja re-established the supremacy of his family in Bundelkhand and conquered the Jodhpur Pratiharas.
- The kingdom under him included Eastern Punjab, most parts of Rajputana, Uttar Pradesh and few regions of Gwalior.
- Daulatpura copper plate of Bhoja refers to victories of the king in the central and eastern Rajputana.
- Mihira Bhoja was defeated by Pala king Devapala. Later he defeated the successor of Devapala and annexed western part of the Pala kingdom
- He adopted the titles Prabhasa, Adivaraha and Mihira.
- Mihira was also defeate by Rastrakuta ruler Dhruva II. This defeat is recorded in Bagumra plates.
- The acheivements of Mihira are mentioned in Rajatarangini
- His guardian deity was goddess Bhagawati.
- His coins are known as ‘Adi-varaha-dramma’
- It is interesting to note that the Arab merchant Sulaiman described Mihira Bhoja as the greatest enemy of Muhammadan faith. He also mentioned that no other Indian king has so fine cavalry.
- He ruled from 880 AD to 910 AD.
- Mihira Bhoja was succedded by Mahendrapala I. This succession is mentioned in Gwalior inscription.
- He is also known as Mahendrayudha, Nirbhaya-narendra or Nirbhaya Raja
- The most notable achievements of Mahendrapala was the conquest of Magadha and northern Bengal.
- His guru was the famous poet and dramatist Rajashekara. Some of the distinguished works of Rajashekara are Karpuramanjari, Kavyamimamsa, Bala-Bharata, Bala-Ramayana, Bhuvana-Kosha and Harivilasa.
- Mahendrapala had two queens-Dehanagadevi and Mahadevi.
- Mahendrapala was followed by two weak rulers namely Bhoja II and Mahipala.
- Mahipala is referred to as Marajudhiraj of Ayavart by Rajasekhara.
- Al Masudi, an Arab traveller visited India in around 915-916 AD referred to the wide extent of Pratihara empire and rich resources of its rulers. He mentioned that the king is rich in horses and camels. Kings used to maintain four armies in four directions.
- Rashtrakuta ruler Indira III invaded Pratihara Empire, conquered Ujjaini and devastated the city of Kannauj.
- Mahipala also faced invasion of another Rashtrakuta ruler, Krishna III
Rulers after Mahipala
- The successor of Mahipala was Mahendrapala II. He was the son of Mahipala.
- He was able to maintain the unity and strength of the empire but he received a shattering blow from Devapala.
- This process of decline which started during the reign of Devapala speeded with the reign of Vijayapala. Finally the Empire declined by the middle of 11th century AD.
- Vijayapala was succeeded by Rajyapala when Mahmud Ghazni invaded India. In 1018 AD Ghazni invaded Mathura and reached Kannauj. During this time Rajyapala fled away.
- Chandella ruler of Bundelkhand killed Rajyapala due to jis disgraceful failure to resist Ghazni. He placed his son Trilochanapala on the throne.
- Yashapala was the last ruler of the Pratihara line. His name is mentioned in the inscriptions of 1036 AD.
After the ruin of Prathiharas numerous small independent kingdoms like Kachhapaghatas of Gwalior, Chalukyas of Anhilwasa and Paramaras of Dhara came into picture
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