Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Decline of the Pala Empire

After the death of Devapala, the Pala kingdom was on its way to decline. Till the rule of Devapala, Bengal ranked high among the important powers in the history of ancient India. He was succeeded by Vigrahapala I, whose short reign was devoid of any important event. After him, his son Narayanapala ascended the throne in 854 A.D. He showed little interest in military conquests because he was a peace loving and religious person.

During the rule of Narayanapala, the Pala kingdom fell prey to the invading armies of the Rashtrakutas in 860 A.D. He was thoroughly defeated. The Pala Empire also could not escape the invasion of the Pratiharas who dealt a severe blow to the body-politic of the kingdom. Bhoja I of the Pratihara kingdom and his son Mahendrapala succeeded in seizing Magadha from Narayanapala. The Paharpur Pillar Inscription attests to the conquests by the Pratihara rulers. Taking advantage of the weakening condition of the Pala kingdom, the rulers of Kamarupa and the Sailodbhaba dynasty of Orissa threw of their allegiance to the Palas and declared their independence.

However at the end of his rule Narayanapala was able to recover North Bengal and South Bihar from the Pratiharas. After a long rule of 53 years, Narayanapala was succeeded by Rajyapala who ruled for a short period. He was succeeded by his son Gopala II who in turn was succeeded by Vigrahapala.

The rule of these Pala rulers was characterized by increase in the weakening of the Pala Empire. Added to this, the kingdom was ravaged by the armies of the Chandellas, Kalachuris and Kambojas at regular intervals.

Pala dynasty regained some of its lost glory during the rule of Mahipala I. who ruled from 995AD to 1043AD. He is rightly called the second founder of the Pala Dynasty. After the death of Ramapala, the last important Pala king, the Pala dynasty was nearing its end. After the death of Ramapala in 1130 Kumarapala became the next Pala ruler. He was succeed by Gopala III and Madanapala. Gradually the Pala kingdom went into oblivion.

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