The Pala Empire and its rulers
Posted on : 15-11-2018 Posted by : Admin


After the death of Harsha from 650 AD to 750 AD, the province of Bengal was exposed to internal conflicts, chaos and confusion. This state is referred to as Matsya nyaya or the rule of the strongest defeating the weak. This consequently resulted in the revolution by the people and the local chief Gopala was leading the people.

Historians believe the capital of Pala rulers to be Mudgagiri. Mudgagiri was the place from where the Pala kings issued several grants. Pala rulers were great patrons of art and literature.

According to Vincent Smith, the two great artists of this time were Dhiman and his son Vitapala. The two have acquired the highest fame for their skill as painters and sculptors.

Pala rulers were followers of Buddhism. But Buddhism developed new tantric form and got greatly revived under their patronage. Monasteries were generously endowed as there were the places for learning and religion.

Atisa one of the famous Buddhist monks has gone to Tibet on a Buddhist mission during eleventh century. Another contemporary of this time Srijana (a Buddhist monk) went to Java, learnt Buddhist scriptures and mentioned it in the Tibetan work Kalyan Mitra Phyag-sopra. Also Palas favored Hinduism. They freely gifted to Bramhins, constructed temples in honour of the gods and goddesses.

The following is the description about the important rules of this empire,



  • He ruled from 750 AD to 770 AD
  • He is the founder of this dynasty.
  • He was actually a local chief. He proved his capability as the leader and thus was elected as the king.
  • He consolidated his authority almost over whole of Bengal.
  • He was the ardent supporter of Buddhism.
  • According to Tibetan lama Taranatha, Gopala built the famous monastery at Odantapura.
  • He also constructed Vihara at Nalanda.



  • He ruled from 770 AD to 810 AD.
  • He is the son of Gopala. He succeeded the throne after Gopala.
  • Soon after his succession he got involved in a struggle with the two man powers namely Pratiharas and Rastrakutas. This made him one of the parties in tripartite struggle.
  • He defeated Indrayudha of Kannauj and placed chakrayudha as his own nominee
  • Dharmapala was defeated by Vatsaraja and Dhruva. Despite his defeat, he fairly extended Pala empire
  • The Sanjan Plate inscription mentions that Dharmapala and Chakrayudha surrendered themselves to Govinda III, Rastrakuta ruler.
  • He was a staunch Buddhist and is believed to establish a university at Vikramashila
  • He also constructed a vihara at Somapura
  • According to Tibetan lama Taranatha, he founded about fifty religious institutions and was a patron of great Buddhist author Haribhadra.



  • He ruled from 815 AD to 855 AD.
  • Devapala is considered as the mightiest ruler of Pala dynasty.
  • According to Badal Pillar inscription, Devapala eradicated the race of Utkalas, humbled the pride of Hunas and scattered the conceit of the rulers of Dravida and Gujjara.
  • According to Bhagalpur inscription, Devapala’s cousin Jayapala was responsible for securing the submission of Utkala (Orissa) and Pragjotisha (Assam)
  • On the request of Balaputradeva, the Sailendra ruler of Sumatra,
  • Devapala granted 5 villages for the construction of monastery at Nalanda.
  • According to Tibetan lama Taranatha, he is known as the restorer of Buddhism.
  • The court of Devapala was adorned by Vajradatta, a Buddhist poet. Vajradatta was the author of Lokeshwarasataka.
  • This glory of Palas suffered irreversibly after the death of Devapala. Devapala was succeeded by Vigrahapala who abdicated the throne after the reign of three or four years.



  • He was the son and successor of Vigrahapala
  • According to Bhagalpur inscription, he granted a village in Tira-Bhukti for the shrine of lord Shiva and built one-thousand pillar temple.
  • During his reign, Magadha along with north Bengal passed into the hands of Gujjara-Pratiharas. This has been indicated by several inscriptions. As East Bengal came under Chandras, the authority of Palas was limited to western and southern Bengal.
  • Narayanapala was succeeded by his son Rajyapala who was later succeeded by his son Gopala II. These two rulers proved disastrous for the Pala Empire.
  • Gopala II was succeeded by Vigrahapala II



  • He is the son of Vigrahapala II.
  • He ascended the throne in 980 AD. Rajendra Chola invaded his state and defeated Mahipala.
  • The Tirumalai inscription of Rajendra states the conquest of Mahipala in the north.
  • He is considered as the restorer of Pala dynasty, power and prestige. He succeeded in re-establishing Pala authority over north, west and east Bengal. He also extended his territories up to Benaras in the west. Hence he was also called as the founder of second Pala Empire.
  • After his death Pala power declined completely due to internal dissensions and external invasions.
  • All his successors were weak and thus by the middle of twelfth century, Pala power faded away.

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