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Tuesday, March 06, 2007


 

South Indian Inscriptions


 

SOUTH INDIAN INSCRIPTIONS

VOLUME XVI

TELUGU INSCRIPTIONS OF THE VIJAYANAGARA DYNASTY

INTRODUCTION

The Aravidu kings

The Telugu work Vasucharitamu  refers to Tirumala, the first of the Aravidu line of rulers as the ‘reviver of the Karanata empire.  He is said to have crowned himself as king in 1570 A.D. at Penugonda.  No. 278, dated Saka 1493 (1571 A.D.) is the earliest among his three records published here.  His latest being No. 280, dated Saka 1496 (1574 A.D.).  The last inscription mentions Tirumala’s son, Mahamandalesvara Ramarajayyadeva Maharaja, and his Karyakartia Dantikanti Linganna.  Tirumala’s two other sons, Sriranga and Venkatapati succeeded him one after the other.  The former is presented by 16 records (Nos. 281 to 297).  He appears to have commenced to rule even during the life time of his father as the earliest epigraph of his reign bears the date Saka 1495 (current) corresponding to 1572 A.D. Among his records, No. 291, dated Saka 1503 (1581 A.D.), from Miduturu in the Kurnool District refers to the village Nagulavaram, which formed one of the boundaries of the gift-village Damagatla, as one of the yenguveta villages which were granted as amaranayankara to the donor Srirangarajayyadeva-maharaja.  The term yenuguveta is reminiscent of its synonym gajabete which formed part of the well-known title Gajabetekara of Devaraya I and his brother Pratapa Devaraya of the First Dynasty.  Nos. 294 and 295, both from Srimushnam in the Chidambaram taluk, South Arcot District, record munificent gifts besides the remission of taxes on 38 villages in his nayankara by Achutappa-nayaka son of Bayyapa-nayaka and grandson of Udayagiri Timmi-nayaka to God Adivaraha-Perumal at Srimushnam for the merit of the three Nayakas, viz., Kondama Achyutappa and Krishnappa as well as Konetamma and Vobulamma.

Nos. 296 and 299 from Ahobilam, Kurnool district, record the part played by the Telugu-Choda chief Kondraju-Venkatraju Tirumalaraju in freeing the country from Muslim occupation and restoring Ahobilam to its former glory.  No. 296, dated Saka 1506 (1584 A.D.) states that on the representation of Van Sathagopa-Jiyyar, the pontiff of Ahobilam to the king to free the country from the Muslim occupation and restore Ahobilam to its original glory, the king himself volunteered to undertake the task of which the pontiff, dissuading the king from doing so, said that it was the wish of God of Ahobilam that Mahamandalesvara Kondraju Venkatraju Tirumalaju undertook the task and having successfully driven out the Muslims and the Hande chiefs who had joined them in pillaging the country and sacking Ahobilam, restored the holy place to its former State and received from the temple certain privileges to be enjoyed by him hereditarily.  The record is dated Saka 1506, Tarana corresponding to 1584 A.D. and places the Muslim occupation of the territory in the cyclic year Bahudhanya (1576 A.D.).  From the Annalas of Hande Anantapuram  it may be gathered that it was Malakappa-nayudu of the Hande family, son of Immadi Hampa-nayudu, who at the sight of success of the Muhammadans against his sovereign Srirangadeva deserted his king and joining the enemy sought their favours.  The latest date for Sriranga is found in a record from Maluru dated in Saka 1507, Parthiva.

The earliest among the records of Venkatapati who succeeded his brother Srirangadeva, is No. 298 from Srimushnam, South Arcot District, dated Saka 1603, obviously a mistake for 1503, Vrisha, Vaisakha su. 15 corresponding to 1581 A.D., April 18.  Already on this date Venkatapati assumed all the imperial titles.  Nevertheless, he must have continued to be the crown-prince down to saka 1507, the last year of his predecessor cited above.  Mahamandalesvara Venkatraju Devachoda-maharaju who, according to No. 296, noticed above, obtained special privileges from Van Sathagopa Jiyyar, the pontiff of Ahobilam for having freed the country from the Muslim rule and brought back Ahobilam to its former glory in Srirangadeva’s time, figures as a donor of several villages to the same temple in the reign of Venkatapati also.  Another distinguished feudatory of Vankata’s reign was Matli Ananta who is praised in his Siddhavatam inscription (No. 309) as the author of Kakutsthavijayamu and as belonging to the Devachoda family.  The latest record of Venkatapati, still reigning from Penugonda, is No. 315 and it is dated in the cyclic year Raudri corresponding to 1620 A.D. But we know that Venkatapati was dead by 1614 A.D.  The occurrence of this and such other inscriptions, dated after 1614 A.D. and mentioning Venkata still as the ruling king has been explained as due to the uncertainty of the political conditions consequent to the civil war that broke out after Venkata’s death.

The earliest record (No. 316) of Ramadeva, son of Sriranga who appears to have succeeded Venktapati is dated in Saka 1544 (1622 A.D.).  Most of his records (Nos. 316 to 322) refer to him as ruling from Penugonda except a single inscription (No. 323) which states that he was ruling from Velluru.  This bears his latest date, viz. Saka 1551 (1629 A.D.).  But his reign appears to have continued till about 1632 A.D.

The earliest record (No. 324) of Venkatapati who succeeded Ramadeva is dated in Saka 1555 (1633 A.D.) and he is called Ramaraju-Venkatapatideva-maharaju.  The wording of the record may indicate that Venkatapati was a son by adoption of Ramadeva, for according to Ramarajiyamu and the Kuniyur Plates, Venkatapati or Peda-Venkata who succeeded Ramadeva was a grandson of Aliya-Ramaraja.  Two of his records (Nos. 328 and 329) describe him as ruling from Ghanagiri or Penugonda while the rest are silent about his capital.  The last date available for him in the collection is Saka 1564 (1642 A.D.) (No. 328).

Of Sriranga, a nephew of Venkatapati, No. 330 dated Saka 1565 (1643 A.D.), gives the interesting information of a legislation in respect of mortgages.  It states that mortgages who took the temple lands and the brahmadeya lands on mortgage should, at the end of the 12th year of the mortgage, return to the respective mortgagers their lands along with the documents pertaining to the mortgage without demanding from the latter any money whatsoever.  Those who contravened the legislation were liable to be fined by the Government.

The last and the latest record of this dynasty which refers to a certain Sriranga (No. 334) is dated in the cyclic year Dhata (1756 A.D.) and gives an indication of the unsettled conditions that prevailed in the country at that period.  It records the remission of taxes on the merchants, the weavers, the padamulam-varu etc., of Amritaulru for three years as a measure of relief from the distress that the people had suffered from plunder by the maniha-gandlu.

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