Krishna Deva Raya
Biography of Krishna Deva Raya
Śrī Kṛṣṇa Deva Rāya and also known as Krishna Deva Raya was the greatest Emperor of the Vijayanagara Empire who reigned from 1509–1529 CE. He is the third ruler of the Tuluva Dynasty. Presiding over the empire at its zenith, he is regarded as an icon by many Indians. Emperor Krishna Deva Raya earned the titles Andhra Bhoja (ఆంధ్రభోజ), Mooru Rayara Ganda (ಮೂರುರಾಯರಗಂಡ: meaning King of three Kings) and Kannada Rajya Rama Ramana (ಕನ್ನಡರಾಜ್ಯರಮಾರಮಣ).
Portuguese travelers Domingo Paes and Fernao Nuniz also visited the Vijayanagara Empire during his reign. Krishna Deva Raya benefited from the able prime minister Timmarusu, who was regarded by the emperor as a father figure and was responsible for his coronation. Krishna Deva Raya was the son of Tuluva Narasa Nayaka, an army commander under Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya, who later took control of the empire to prevent its disintegration and became the founder of the Tuluva Dynasty, the third Hindu Dynasty to rule Vijayanagara. The emperor's coronation took place on the birthday of Hindu God Krishna. He built a beautiful suburb near Vijayanagara called Nagalapura.The king was of medium height, had a cheerful disposition, and was reputed to be respectful to foreign visitors, ruthless in maintaining the law, and prone to fits of anger. He maintained himself to a high level of physical fitness through daily exercises. Travelogues indicate that the king was not only an able administrator, but also an excellent general, leading from the front in battle and even attending to the wounded.
The rule of Krishna Deva Raya marks a period of much military success in Vijayanagar history. On occasion, the king was known to change battle plans abruptly and turn a losing battle into victory. The first decade of his rule was one of long sieges, bloody conquests and victories. His main enemies were the Bahamani Sultans (who, though divided into five small kingdoms, remained a constant threat), the Gajapatis of Orissa, who had been involved in constant conflict since the rule of Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya and the Portuguese, a rising maritime power which controlled much of the sea trade. The feudal chiefs of Ummatur, Reddyraju of Kondavidu raju and Velamas of Bhuvanagiri intermittently rebelled against Vijayanagar rule.
Success in Deccan
The annual affair of the raid and plunder of Vijayanagar towns and villages by the Deccan sultans came to an end during the Raya's rule. In 1509 Krishnadevaraya's armies clashed with the Sultan of Bijapur at Diwani and the sultan Mahmud was severely injured and defeated. Yusuf Adil Khan was killed and raju was annexed. Taking advantage of the victory and the disunity of the Bahamani Sultans, the Raya invaded Bidar, Gulbarga and Bijapur and earned the title "establisher of the Yavana kingdom" when he released Sultan Mahmud and made him de-facto ruler.
War with Feudatories
He subdued local rulers of and Velamas of Bhuvanagiri, and seized lands up to the Krishna river. Ganga Raja, the Ummatur chief, fought Krishna Deva Raya on the banks of the Kaveri and was defeated. The chief later drowned in the Kaveri in 1512. The region was made a part of the Srirangapatna province. In 1516-1517, he pushed beyond the Godavari river.
War with Kalinga
The Gajapatis ruled a vast land comprising Andhra region and most of Telengana region. Krishna Deva Raya's success at Ummatur provided the necessary impetus to carry his campaign into the Telangana region which was in control of Gajapati Prathapa Rudra Dev. The Vijayanagar army laid siege to the Udayagiri fort in 1512. The campaign lasted for a year before the Gajapati army disintegrated due to starvation. Krishna Deva Raya offered prayers at Tirupati thereafter along with his wives Tirumala Devi and Chinnama Devi. The Gajapati army was then met at Kondaviduraju where the armies of Vijayanagara, after establishing a siege for a few months and heavy with initial defeats began to retreat, until Timmarusu upon discovering a secret entrance to the unguarded eastern gate of the fort launched a night attack culminating with the capture of the fort and the imprisonment of the greatest swordsman of his time, Prince Virabhadra, the son of Gajapati Emperor of Kalinga-Utkal,Gajapati Prataprudra Deva. Saluva Timmarasa took over as governor of Kondavidu thereafter. The Vijayanagar army then accosted the Gajapati army at Kondapalli area and laid another siege. Krishnadevaraya then planned for an invasion of mainland Kalinga-Utkal but the Gajapati Emperor, Prataparudra, privy of this plan had built up a strategy to rout the Vijayanagara army and along with it its king, Krishnadevaraya. The confrontation was to happen at the fort of Kalinganagar. But the wily Timmarusu secured the information by bribing a Telugu deserter, formerly under the service of the mighty Prataprudra deva. Prataprudra was driven to his capital and eventually surrendered to Vijaynagar, giving his daughter in marriage to Krishna Deva Raya. Thereafter peace between the two strongest Hindu empires in India ensured a period of harmony and the safety of Sanatana dharma in India.
Krishna Deva Raya established friendly relations with the Portuguese, who set up the Portuguese Dominion of India in Goa in 1510. The Emperor obtained guns and Arabian horses from the Portuguese merchants. He also utilized Portuguese expertise in improving water supply to Vijayanagara City.
The complicated alliances of the empire and the five Deccan sultanates meant that he was continually at war, in one of these campaigns, he defeated Golconda and captured its commander Madurul-Mulk, crushed Bijapur and its Sultan Ismail Adil Shah and restored Bahmani sultanate to Muhammad Shah.
The highlight of his conquests occurred on May 19, 1520 where he secured the fortress of Raichur from Ismail Adil Shah of Bijapur after a difficult siege during which 16,000 Vijaynagar soldiers were killed. The exploits of the chief military commander, Pemmasani Ramalinga Nayudu, during the battle of Raichur were suitably rewarded by the grateful emperor. During the campaign against Raichur, it is said that 703,000 foot soldiers, 32,600 cavalry and 551 elephants were used (See The battle of Raichur). Finally, in his last battle, he razed to the ground the fortress of Gulburga, the early capital of the Bahmani sultanate. His empire extended over the whole of South India.
In 1524 he made his son Tirumala Raya the Yuvaraja though the crown prince did not survive for long. He was poisoned to death. Suspecting the involvement of Timmarusu, Krishna Deva Raya had his trusted commander and adviser blinded. At the same time, Krishnadevaraya was preparing for an attack on Belgaum that was in the Adil Shah’s possession; Krishnadevaraya took seriously ill. He died soon after in 1529. Before his death, he nominated his brother, Achyuta Deva Raya as his successor. The rule of Krishnadevaraya was a glorious chapter in the history of Vijayanagara Empire.Even the ruins at Hampi tell the glorious tale of that mighty empire.
Paes summarises the king's attitude to matters of law and order by the sentence, "The king maintains the law by killing." Offences against property (designed to maintain stability) and for murder ranged from cutting of a foot and hand for theft and beheading for murder (except for those occurring as a result of duel). Paes could not estimate the size of Vijaynagar as his view was obscured by the hills but estimated the city to be at least as large as Rome. Furthermore, he considered Vijaynagar to be "the best provided city in the world" with a population of not less than a half a million. The empire was divided into a number of provinces often under members of the royal family and into further subdivisions. The official language of the court were Kannada .
Sewe I remarks that Krishna Deva Raya was not only a monarch de-jure, but he was also a de-facto sovereign with extensive powers and strong personal influence. With the active cooperation of Prime Minister Timmarusu he administered the Kingdom well, maintained peace in the land and increased the prosperity of the people
The administration of the empire was carried on along the lines indicated in his Amuktamalyada. He was the opinion that the King should always rule with an eye towards Dharma. His concern for the welfare of the people is amply proved by his extensive annual tours all over the empire, during which he studied everything personally and tried to redress the grievances of the people and to punish the evil doers.
The Portuguese Chronicler Domingo Paes praises Krishna Deva Raya as, “the most feared and perfect King… a great ruler and a man of much justice”. Though a follower of Vaishnavism he showed respect to all sects, and petty religious prejudices never influenced him, either in granting gifts or in his choice of companions and officers. According to Barbosa, “The King allows such freedom that every man may come and go, live according to his own creed, without suffering any annoyance”.
Art and Literature
The rule of Krishna Deva Raya was an age of prolific literature in many languages, although it is also known as a golden age of Telugu literature. Many Telugu, Sanskrit, Kannada and Tamil poets enjoyed the patronage of the emperor. Emperor Krishna Deva Raya was fluent in many languages.Given his patronage, there remains a debate about whether he was a Telugu or Tulu.
He patronised Kannada poets Mallanarya who wrote Veera-saivamrita, Bhava-chinta-ratna and Satyendra Chola-kathe, Chatu Vittal-anatha who wrote Bhaga-vatha, Timmanna Kavi who wrote a eulogy of his king in Krishna Raya Bharata. Vyasatirtha, the great saint from Mysore belonging to the Madhwa order of Udupi was his Rajguru. Krishna Deva Rayana Dinachari in Kannada is a recently discovered work. The record highlights the contemporary society during Krishna Deva Raya's time in his personal diary. However it is not yet clear if the record was written by the king himself.
Krishna Deva Raya’s reign is considered the golden age of Telugu literature. Eight poets known as Astadiggajalu (eight elephants in the eight cardinal points such as North, South etc.) were part of his court (known as Bhuvana-vijayamu). According to the Vaishnavite religion there are eight elephants in eight corners in space and hold the earth in its place. Similarly these eight poets were the eight pillars of his literary assembly. Who constituted Ashtadiggajas is not certain. But, it is popularly believed to include these : Allasani Peddana, Nandi Thimmana, Madayyagari Mallana, Dhurjati, Ayyala-raju Rama-Bhadrudu, Pingali Surana, Ramaraja Bhushanudu and Tenali Rama Krishna.
Among these eight poets Allasani Peddana is considered to be the greatest and is given the title of Andhra Kavita Pitamaha (the father of Telugu poetry). Manu-charitramu is his popular prabhanda work. Nandi Timmana wrote Paari-jaata-apaharan-amu. Madayya-gari Mallana wrote Raja-sekhara Charitramu. Dhurjati wrote Kalahasti Mahatyamu and Ayyal-raju Rama-bhadrudu wrote Rama-abhyuday-amu. Pingali Surana wrote the still remarkable Raghava-pandaveeyamu, a dual work with double meaning built into the text, describing both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Bhattumurty alias Rama-raja-bhushanudu wrote Kavyalankara-sangrahamu, Vasu-charitramu, and Harischandra-nalopakhyanamu. Among these works the last one is a dual work which tells simultaneously the story of King Harishchandra and Nala and Damayanti. Tenali Ramakrishna first wrote Udbhataradhya Charitramu, a Shaivite work and later wrote Vaishnava devotional texts Pandu-ranga Mahatmyamu, and Ghatikachala Mahatmyamu. The period of the Empire is known as “Prabandha Period,” because of the quality of the prabandha literature produced during this time. Tenali Ramakrishna remains one of the most popular folk figures in India today, a quick-witted courtier ready even to outwit the all-powerful emperor.
Visit to Andhra Vishnu Temple
Once the Vijayanagara emperor Sri Krishnadevaraya was travelling via Vijayawada during his Kalinga campaign (c. 1516). He had conquered Vijayawada, kondapalli fort and the surrounding areas. He came to know about the holy temple of Śrī Āndhra Viṣhṇu and visited Srikakulam village for a few days. He performed the Ekadasi Vratam during that time. It is here that Lord Śrī Āndhra Viṣhṇu in all his glory appeared to the emperor in an early morning dream ("neela mEGhamu DAlu Deelu sEyaga jAlu….").
Within Āmuktamālyada itself it was mentioned that on a Harivāsara, Sri Krishnadevaraya had the Darsan of Śrī Āndhra Viṣhṇu. Harivāsara is the time between the last 4 muhurtas of Ekadasi and the first 4 muhurtas of Dwadasi, i.e., 6 hours and 24 minutes. This incident of visiting the temple must be between Ahobilam Śaasanam (dated December 1515) and Simhāchalam Śaasanam (dated 30 March 1515). Maybe January 1516, he might have visited the temple on the Dvadasi day. Beyond this no other valid references are available for exact date of visit.
Sri Krishnadevaraya himself recounts the circumstances of this work's composition as,
Sometime ago, I was determined to conquer the Kalinga territory. On the way, I camped for a few days with my army at Vijayawada. Then I went to visit Andhra Vishnu, who lives in Srikakula. Observing the fast of the Vishnu's Day (Dvadasi), in the fourth and last watch of that God's night (Harivaasaram), Andhra Vishnu came to me in my dream. His body was a radiant black, blacker than the rain cloud. His eyes wise and sparkling, put the lotus to shame. He was clothed in the best golden silk, finer still than the down on his eagle's wings. The red sunrise is pale compared to ruby on his chest.
Lord's Instruction to Commence Work in Telugu
Lord Śrī Āndhra Viṣhṇu told him to compose the story of his wedding with Andal at Srirangam ("rangamandayina penDili seppumu.."). From 14th poem of this work we can see that the, Lord also ordered the emperor to tell the story in Telugu and referred himself as King of Telugus (Telugu Vallabhunḍa) and refers Sri Krishnadevaraya as Kannada King (Kannaḍa Rāya). (...nEnu delugu raayanDa, kannaDa raaya!, yakkodunangappu....). The Lord reasoned "telugadElayanna, dESambu telugu. yEnu telugu vallaBhunDa. telugo kanDa.…. yerugavE bAsADi, dESa BhAShalandu telugu lessa!" The emperor obliged and composed Amuktamalyada which is one of the most famous poetic works in the entire Telugu literature.
“ తెలుఁగ దేల నన్న దేశంబు దెలుఁగేను
తెలుఁగు వల్లభుండఁ దెలుఁ గొకండ
యెల్ల నృపులగొలువ నెరుఁగ వే బాసాడి
దేశభాషలందుఁ తెలుఁగు లెస్స ”
—శ్రీ ఆంధ్ర విష్ణు
“telugadElayanna, dESambu telugEnu
telugu vallaBhunDa telugokanDa
yella nRpulu golva nerugavE bAsADi
dESa BhAShalandu telugu lessa”
—Śrī Āndhra Viṣhṇu's reason on why Āmuktamālyada should be written in telugu by Sri Krishnadevaraya
Meaning of Quote :"If you ask why a work in Telugu; I am Telugu (i.e., belong to Teluguland) and King of Telugus. Telugu is language which got stuff (TelugO kanDa). So, with all kings serving under you, by speaking you will know that of all national languages Telugu is superior. "
Sri Krishna Deva Raya's Āmuktamālyada beautifully describing the pangs of separation suffered by Sri Andal (incarnation of Mother Goddess Sri Mahalakshmi venerated as Sri Bhoomi Devi, the Goddess of Earth and the divine consort of Almighty Sriman Narayana) Andal (one of the twelve bhakti-era alwars) for her lover Lord Vishnu. He describes Andal’s physical beauty in thirty verses; using descriptions of the spring and the monsoon as metaphors. As elsewhere in Indian poetry - see Sringara - the sensual pleasure of union extends beyond the physical level and becomes a path to, and a metaphor for, spirituality and ultimate union with the divine.
One of the main characters is Periyalvar, the father of Andal. Lord Vishnu commands Periyalwar to teach a king of the Pandya dynasty the path of knowledge to moksha. Amuktamalyada is also known by the name Vishnu-chitteeyam, a reference to Vishnu-chittudu, the Telugu name of Vishnuchittar aka Periyalwar. Several other short stories are included in Amuktamalyada in the course of the main story of Godadevi, the Sanskrit name of Kothai Naachiyaar aka Andal, which is used throughout the tome. Krishna Raya was also well-versed in Sanskrit, Tamil and Kannada. Jambavati Kalyanamu is his Sanskrit work.
Krishna Deva Raya patronised Tamil poet Haridasa and Tamil literature soon began to flourish as the years passed by.
In Sanskrit, Vyasatirtha wrote Bhedo-jjivana, Tat-parya-chandrika, Nyaya-mrita (a work directed against Advaita philosophy) and Tarka-tandava. Krishna Deva Raya himself an accomplished scholar wrote Madalasa Charita, Satyavadu Parinaya and Rasamanjari and Jambavati Kalyana.
Religion and Culture
Krishna Deva Raya respected all sects of Hinduism and lavished on the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple numerous objects of priceless value, ranging from diamond studded crowns to golden swords. Additionally, he is known to have commissioned the making of statues of himself and his two wives at the temple complex.These statues are still visible at the temple at the exit.
Krishna Deva Raya was formally initiated into the Vaishnava Sampradaya by Vyasatirtha. He patronised poets and scholars in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit.
Sri Vyasatirtha was his Kula-Guru.
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