Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Pala Dynasty

The Pala Empire was a dynasty in control of the northern and eastern Indian subcontinent, mainly the Bihar and Bengal regions, from the 8th to the 12th century. The name Pala (Modern Bengali: পাল pal) means "protector" and was used as an ending to the names of all Pala monarchs. The founder of the empire was Gopala. He was the first independent Buddhist king of Bengal and came to power in 750 in Gaur by democratic election, which was unique at the time. He reigned from 750-770 and consolidated his position by extending his control over all of Bengal. His successors Dharmapala (r. 770-810) and Devapala (r. 810-850) expanded the empire across the northern and eastern Indian subcontinent. The Pala Empire eventually disintegrated in the 12th century under the attack of the Sena dynasty.
The Palas were followers of the Mahayana and Tantric schools of Buddhism. They often intermarried with the Gahadvalas of the Kannauj region. They created many temples and works of art and supported the Universities of Nalanda and Vikramashila. Their proselytism was at the origin of the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet...read+
The reigns of dharmapala and devapala formed the period of ascendancy of the dynasty, when the dynastic rule gained firm footing in Bengal and Bihar and the Palas felt powerful enough to venture out in the political arena of northern India. Both Dharmapala and Devapala were engaged in a long drawn struggle for the possession of the madhyadesha of northern Indian empire with two other powers - the Gurjara Pratiharas of western India and the Rastrakutas of Deccan, and they had success for a limited period. Dharmapala succeeded in placing his protege on the throne of Kanauj. Devapala also held his own against the Pratiharas. The Pala records are full of eulogistic verses portraying Dharmapala and Devapala as great conquerors. Bengal came to be reckoned as a powerful force in northern Indian politics...read+
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