– DR SANJAY SUBBAIAH
MS ENT CENTRE
There are certain periods of Indian history which have been styled dark, because of the lack of objective analysis of those periods. One such period is the period of the Hoysalas.
Savarkar wrote of history …“to depict as far as possible the feelings, motives, emotions and actions of the actors themselves whose deed he aims to relate….. We ought to read history, not with a view to find out the best excuse perpetuate the old strife and stress, bickering and bloodsheds whether in the name of our blessed motherland, of our Lord God, that divided man from man and race from race, but precisely for the contrary reason of finding out the root causes that contributed to, and the best means to the removal of that stress and strife, of those bickering and bloodsheds, so that man maybe drawn towards man because he is man, the child of common father God”.
The Hoysala’s have been overshadowed by the Chalukyas who preceded them and the Vijayanagara Empire which followed them. Their period was marked by numerous invasions from north. As they plotted and fought of these invasions, their rule saw tremendous development in art, architecture, religion and literature. The various temples with deep and ornate carvings from base to roof are just one example of their accomplishments.They were also great military strategists, like Veera Ballala III [1292 – 1342].
Veera Ballala III, at best gets mentioned as the last king of the Hoyasalas.At that time Muhammed Bin Tughluq led numeroussuccessful expeditions into the Deccan region. He appointed governors to rule over his annexed kingdoms. Somewhere around late 1320’s he had established Sultanates in Devagiri, Warrangal and Madurai. In between these three Sultanates was the kingdom of Veera Ballala III who had been defeated and his capital Dwarasamudra plundered.
Historian William Coelho states “…the defeat of Veera Ballal III made him realize of the need of establishing peace among the Hindu kings. He therefore assumed the powers of a great leader, travelling from place to place, to mobilize the forces and to enlist the sympathy and assistance of the numerous principalities scattered over the whole of South India… He gave greater rights and sometimes partial independence to his minister, generals and feudatories…Ballala relaxed his administrative control over his empire in order that he may be able to assume military leadership of almost all Hindu kingdoms of the south, sort of a temporary confederacy”.
William Coelhaquotes Firishta … “Billala Dew conveyed a meeting of his kinsmen and resolved first to secure the forts of his own country and then to move his seat of government to the mountains. Krishna Naig of Wurungole promised on his part also that when their plans were ripe for execution, to raise all the Hindoos of Wurungole and Tulingana and put himself at their head……Bilal Dew accordingly, built a strong city upon the frontiers of his dominions and called it after his son Beeja… Beejanuggur.He then raised an army and put part of it under the command of Krsihna Naik who reduced Wurrangole and compelled Immad-ool-Mulg the governor to retreat to Dowlatabad”
Veera Ballala III after having secured his northern frontiers appoints Harihara I as Mahamandaleshvara around 1336. The fact that there are so many stories about the origins of Vijayanagar brothers Harihara and Bukka shows that they were not from any royal family. Historian Rev H Heras, who analyzed various epigraphic inscriptions claims that the Vijayanagara kings were the feudatories of Veera Ballal III, and were appointed by him. Heras also claims that Ballala III built the city of Vira Vijaya Virupakshapura which later became Vijayanagara.
Finally, Veera Ballala III marches south to evict the last Southern Sultanate in Madurai. Unfortunately, he is martyred in the ensuing battle. The Vijayanagara army returns defeats the Sultan of Madurai and fulfills Veera Ballal III’s dream of establishing a Hindu kingdom in the South.
Historian RC Majumdar characterizes it as a national revolt backed by a regular army. Why did Veera Ballala III appoint Harihara and not any of his sons? Did he choose the most capable chieftain? Whatever the reason this was a masterstroke. Thus, politically Vijayanagar empire is a continuation of the great Hoyasalas.