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Vijayanagara Empire, Origin, Dynasties, Administration, Economy, Cultural & Social Life

Vijayanagara Empire

Harihara and Bukka founded the Vijayanagar Empire, one of the most notable empires of Deccan India, on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in what is now Karnataka. The Vijayanagar state was established in 1336 by brothers Harihara and Bukka, who had both fought for Muhammad-bin-Tughlaq. They formally separated themselves from the Delhi Sultanate in 1336. Vidyaranya, a modern scholar and saint, helped Harihara and Bukka in the establishment of their empire and served as an inspiration to them. The Vijayanagar Empire will be covered in this article, which will be useful for UPSC exam preparation.

Vijayanagara Empire Origin

On the southern banks of the Tungabhadra River, in what is now the Indian state of Karnataka, the Vijayanagar Empire, also known as the Karnata Kingdom, was established in 1336 CE. The Vijayanagar Empire’s capital was Hampi, which is now in Karnataka. It is physically close to the Deccan Plateau in South India.

The Sangama Dynasty brothers Bukka and Harihara built the Vijayanagar Empire. A pastoralist cowherd community with Kuruba origin claimed that Harihara and Bukka were members. Vira Ballala III, the Hoysala King, had previously employed both Harihara and Bukka.

Vijayanagara Empire Dynasties

Four important dynasties dominated the Vijayanagara Empire. They included the Sangama, Saluva, Tuluva, and Aravidu dynasties.

Sangama Dynasty

It was the first dynasty of the Vijayanagara Empire, and its first king was Harihara Raya I (1336–1356 AD). Some of the dynasty’s kings included Bukka Raya, Virupaksha Raya, Deva Raya, Ramachandra Raya, Mallikarjuna Raya, and Praudha Raya.

Saluva Dynasty

With Narasimhadeva Raya as its first king (1485–1491), it was the second dynasty of the Vijayanagara Empire. His son Thimma Bhupala took over as successor. As the final head of the Saluva Dynasty, Narasimha Raya II succeeded his father Thimma Bhupala.

Tuluva Dynasty

The Vijayanagara Empire’s third dynasty was the Tuluva Dynasty. Narasa Nayaka, Viranarasimha Raya, Krishnadeva Raya, Achyutadeva Raya, and Sadasiva Raya were among the Tuluva Dynasty’s kings. The Vijayanagar Empire’s most powerful emperor was Krishnadeva Raya. He was in charge of the empire from 1509 to 1529. During his rule, the empire is thought to have reached its peak.

Aravidu Dynasty

The Vijayanagara Empire’s fourth and last dynasty was the Aravidu Dynasty. Muslim republics like Bijapur gained importance after the Battle of Talikota when the empire started to crumble.

Vijayanagara Empire Geographical Spread

At its height, the Vijayanagar Empire held sway over nearly all of South India’s ruling families. The Deccan Sultans were expelled by the Vijayanagar Empire’s rulers beyond the Tungabhadra-Krishna River Doab region as well. The Gajapati Kingdom of Kalinga was likewise subjugated by the Vijaynagar Empire, which also absorbed modern-day Odisha (formerly Kalinga).

Vijayanagara Empire Administration

A structured governmental framework existed in Vijayanagar. A central administration and a provincial government each controlled a portion of the Vijayanagar empire. The King was the most influential person in the state and had last say in all matters. There was also a Council of Ministers in place to help the King with his administrative duties.

The Vijayanagar Empire was made up of six provinces. A governor known as a “Naik” was in charge of running each province. Districts were also created inside the provinces. The communities that were created from these districts’ subsequent subdivisions were smaller ones. Lawbreakers were duly penalised and fines were assessed against them.

The empire collapsed as a result of the regional rulers’ excessive power. The organisation of the army was ineffective and rife with serious problems. These settlements were governed by a number of hereditary officers, including officers in charge of the department of forced labour as well as accountants, watchmen, and weights men. Another official known as a “Mahanayakacharya” acted as a conduit between the villages and the administration and the government.

Vijayanagara Empire Economy

The economy of the empire was mainly reliant on agriculture. Favourable agricultural policies had been enacted by all of the monarchs in different regions of Vijayanagar. The majority of the rural area was farmed due to the fertile terrain. A number of enterprises augmented the agricultural wealth. The most prevalent sectors supported by the monarchs’ government are metallurgy, mining, textile, and fragrance.

The main driver of overall prosperity was the robust inland, coastal, and international trade. Doth, spices, rice, iron, saltpetre, sugar, and other goods were the principal exports. The most significant imports included velvets, China silks, horses, elephants, pearls, copper, coral, mercury, and pearl jewellery. Coins from the Vijayanagar Empire were minted in gold, copper, and silver. They wore symbols of many deities and animals.

The King ordered that the coin’s emblem be modified. Due to this, Krishna Dev Raya put Venkatesh and Balkrishna figures on the currency, while Harihara and Bukka I engraved a picture of Hanuman (a Hindu God) on it.

Vijayanagara Empire Cultural and Social Life

With community representatives for each caste, starting from the lowest to the highest, the Vijayanagar Empire upheld a stringent caste system or cultural hierarchy. Muslims were given the chance to speak as well. The highest caste in India was the Brahmin, who was frequently authors and instructors of religion. They were also employed as judges.

The four castes are Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras. The family god of the predominantly Saiva monarchs of Sangama, Virupaksha, was. However, there were Vaishnavite dynasties as well. There were, in fact, writers of low caste who created works of popular literature. People from lower castes had a chance to become famous in the empire’s service because the caste structure did allow for military promotion.

Both wealthy men and wealthy women wore anklets, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. They also perfumed themselves with musk and rosewater. Men wore silk turbans, which occasionally had gold decorations. Nobles were pampered by the large staff, lived in luxury, and wore costly clothing.

Men and women both played sports at this time, and the culture put a high value on physical fitness. Gyms were built expressly for the troops to stay in shape, and guys and females would wrestle with one another. A well-liked type of entertainment was cockfighting. During this time, Indian women were given some freedom and had the opportunity to engage in government administration as well as other industries like trading. Additionally, women might express themselves through writing and art.

Vijayanagara Empire Contribution to Architecture and Literature

  • During this time, the Hazara Ramasami and Vittalaswamy temples were constructed.
  • The bronze image of Krishnadeva Raya is a masterpiece.
  • Literature has been created in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, and Sanskrit.
  • Sayana wrote Vedic commentary.
  • Amuktamalyada was written by Krishnadevaraya in Telugu, as well as Usha Parinayam and Jambavathi Kalyanam in Sanskrit.

Vijayanagara Empire Conflict with Bahmani Kingdom

Conflict between the Bahmani and Vijayanagar kingdoms was heavily influenced by who controlled Raichur doab (the region between the rivers Krishna and Tungabhadra). The Vijayanagar Empire’s northern and the Bahmani Kingdom’s southern boundaries were both touched by the lush Raichur Doab region. Natural resources are abundant and fertile in this area.

Both kingdoms fought for possession of the renowned Golconda diamond mines, which were located in the eastern part of the doab region. Other considerations include the terrain of both kingdoms and the restricted capacity of the Deccan’s Tungabhadra region for expansion. The other conflict hotspots were the Marathwada area and the Krishna-Godavari delta.

Both areas had sizable ports that controlled trade with neighbouring countries and productive land. One important area for trade, for instance, was the Konkan belt, which contained the port of Goa. A fertile area in the Marathwada region, this port was used for export and import, particularly the import of horses from Iran and Iraq. It is also possible to attribute the battle between the Bahmani and Vijayanagar states to Hindu-Muslim tensions. Despite the fact that the conflict’s primary justifications were territorial and commercial.

Vijayanagara Empire Decline

The Aravidu dynasty’s leaders lacked strength and ability. Governors of many provinces became independent. Some portions of Vijayanagar were conquered by the kings of Bijapur and Golconda.

Vijayanagara Empire UPSC

The rise and fall of the Vijayanagara Empire is essentially a history of endless wars and conflicts. The Vijayanagar empire had excellent administration, strong laws, and women had the opportunity to freely express their emotions and produce literature. Krishnadeva Raya was this empire’s most well-known ruler. Following the Talikota war, the Vijayanagar empire was overthrown.

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Vijayanagara Empire FAQs

What was the Vijayanagara Empire?

The Vijayanagara Empire, also called Karnata Kingdom, was based in the Deccan Plateau region in South India. It was established in 1336 by the brothers Harihara I and Bukka Raya I of the Sangama dynasty, members of a pastoralist cowherd community that claimed Yadava lineage.

What is Vijayanagar Empire famous for?

In time Vijayanagar became the greatest empire of southern India. By serving as a barrier against invasion by the Muslim sultanates of the north, it fostered the reconstruction of Hindu life and administration after the disorders and disunities of the 12th and 13th centuries.

What is Vijayanagara Empire called now?

As per the historical records exist from the inscriptions available in historical ruins of the empire, it was called Karnataka Samrajya (translated in English to Karnataka Empire).

What are the 4 dynasties of Vijayanagara?

The empire saw the rule of four different dynasties: Sangama, Saluva, Tuluva, and Aravidu dynasties.

Who is the most famous ruler of Vijayanagar Empire?

The most famous king of the Vijaynagara Empire was Krishnadeva Raya. The Vijayanagar kingdom reached the pinnacle of its glory during his reign. He was successful in all the wars he waged.

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