Yadavas of Deogiri
The Yadavas initially ruled as feudatories of the Western Chalukyas. Around the middle of the 12th century, as the Chalukya power waned, the Yadava king Bhillama V declared independence. The Yadava kingdom reached its peak under Simhana II, and flourished until the early 14th century, when it was annexed by the Delhi Sultanate.The Yadavas initially ruled as feudatories of the Western Chalukyas. Around the middle of the 12th century, as the Chalukya power waned, the Yadava king Bhillama V declared independence. The Yadava kingdom reached its peak under Simhana II, and flourished until the early 14th century, when it was annexed by the Delhi Sultanate.
The earliest historical ruler of the Seuna/Yadava dynasty can be dated to the mid-9th century, but the origin of the dynasty is uncertain. Little is known about their early history: their 13th century court poet Hemadri records the names of the family’s early rulers, but his information about the pre-12th century rulers is often incomplete and inaccurate.
The dynasty claimed descent from Yadu, a hero mentioned in the Puranic legends. According to this account, found in Hemadri’s Vratakhanda as well as several inscriptions, their ancestors originally resided at Mathura, and then migrated to Dvaraka (Dvaravati) in present-day Gujarat. A Jain mythological legend states that the Jain saint Jainaprabhasuri saved the pregnant mother of the dynasty’s founder Dridhaprahara from a great fire that destroyed Dvaraka. A family feudatory to the Yadavas migrated from Vallabhi (also in present-day Gujarat) to Khandesh. But otherwise, no historical evidence corroborates their connection to Dvaraka. The dynasty never tried to conquer Dvaraka, or establish any political or cultural connections with that region.Its rulers started claiming to be descendants of Yadu and migrants from Dvaraka after becoming politically prominent. Dvaraka was associated with Yadu’s descendants, and the dynasty’s claim of connection with that city may simply be a result of their claim of descent from Yadu rather than their actual geographic origin.The Hoysalas, the southern neighbours of the dynasty, similarly claimed descent from Yadu and claimed to be the former lords of Dvaraka.
The territory of the early Yadava rulers was located in present-day Maharashtra, and several scholars (especially Maharashtrian historians) have claimed a “Maratha” origin for the dynasty. However, Marathi, the language of present-day Maharashtra, began to appear as the dominant language in the dynasty’s inscriptions only in the 14th century, before which Kannada and Sanskrit were the primary language of their inscriptions. Marathi appears in around two hundred Yadava inscriptions, but usually as translation of or addition to Kannada and Sanskrit text. During the last half century of the dynasty’s rule, it became the dominant language of epigraphy, which may have been a result of the Yadava attempts to connect with their Marathi-speaking subjects, and to distinguish themselves from the Kannada-speaking Hoysalas.The earliest instance of the Yadavas using the term “marathe” as a self-designation appears in a 1311 A.D. inscription recording a donation to the Pandharpur temple, towards the end of the dynasty’s rule.
Epigraphic evidence suggests that the dynasty likely emerged from a Kannada-speaking background. Around five hundred Yadava inscriptions have been discovered, and Kannada is the most common language of these inscriptions, followed by Sanskrit. Of the inscriptions found in present-day Karnataka (the oldest being from the reign of Bhillama II), most are in Kannada language and script; others are in the Kannada language but use Devanagari script. Older inscriptions from Karnataka also attest to the existence of Yadava feudatories (such as Seunas of Masavadi) ruling in the Dharwad region in the 9th century, although these feudatories cannot be connected to the main line of the dynasty with certainty.Many of the dynasty’s rulers had Kannada names and titles such as “Dhadiyappa”, “Bhillama”, “Rajugi”, “Vadugi” and “Vasugi”, and “Kaliya Ballala”. Some kings had names like “Simhana” (or “Singhana”) and “Mallugi”, which were also used by the Kalachuris of Kalyani, who ruled in present-day Karnataka. Records show that one of the early rulers, Seunachandra II, had a Kannada title, Sellavidega. The rulers had very close matrimonial relationships with Kannada-speaking royal families throughout their rule. Bhillama II was married to Lachchiyavve, who was from a Rashtrakuta descendant family in Karnataka. Vaddiga was married to Vaddiyavve, daughter of Rashtrakuta chieftain Dhorappa. Wives of Vesugi and Bhillama III were Chalukya princesess. The early Seuna coins also had Kannada legends engraved on them indicating it was a court language. The early Yadavas may have migrated northwards owing to the political situation in the Deccan region, or may have been dispatched by their Rashtrakuta overlords to rule the northern regions.
In 1278, Ramachandra appears to have defeated the Turkic invaders from the Delhi Sultanate, as a Sanskrit royal inscription of that year glorifies him as a “Great Boar in securing the earth from the oppression of the Turks”. However, in 1294, Ala-ud-din Khalji of the Delhi Sultanate successfully raided Devagiri. Khalji restored it to Ramachandra in return for his promise of payment of a high ransom and an annual tribute. However, this was not paid and the Seuna kingdom’s arrears to Khalji kept mounting. In 1307, Khalji sent an army commanded by Malik Kafur, accompanied by Khwaja Haji, to Devagiri. The Muslim governors of Malwa and Gujarat were ordered to help Malik Kafur. Their huge army conquered the weakened and defeated forces of Devagiri almost without a battle. Ramachandra was taken to Delhi. Khalji reinstated Ramachandra as governor in return for a promise to help him subdue the Hindu kingdoms in South India. In 1310, Malik Kafur mounted an assault on the Kakatiya kingdom from Devagiri.
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