The vishnukundinas


Vishnukundinas kings were followers of Hinduism and had established several institutes for Vedic learnings. They encouraged learned hindus by gifting them with developed land resources for building institutions, temples etc. Indra Bhattaraka established many schools for imparting education on Vedic literature.

From the time of the accession of Madhava-Varma to the empire, vedic institutions were built aggressively where vedic ceremonies like Rajasuya, Sarvamedha and Aswamedha, were undertaken.

The celebration of all these sacrifices represents the traditional spirit for revival of sanatna dharma.

The names of the rulers like Madhava Varma and Govinda Varma show their inclinations towards vaishnavism.

The early rulers of the dynasty migrated from eastern deccan to the west deccan in search of employment and under the Vakatakas, they initially attained feudatory status.

During the reign of Madhava Varma, they became independent and conquered coastal Andhra from the Salankayanas and established their capital at Denduluru near Eluru, West Godavari district.

The Vishnukundina dynasty was an Indian imperial power controlling the Deccan, in particular, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha and parts of South India during the 5th and 6th centuries, carving land out from the Vakataka Empire. It played an important role in the history of the Deccan, during the 5th and 6th centuries. The dynasty initially ruled from Indrapalanagara (in present day Nalgonda district of Telangana), and later shifted to Denduluru, and Amaravathi.

The area north of the Godavari, Kalinga, became independent. The area south of the Krishna River fell to the Pallavas. The Vishnukundina reign came to an end with the conquest of the eastern Deccan by the Chalukya, Pulakesi 2. Pulakesi appointed his brother Kubja Vishnuvardhana as Viceroy to rule over the conquered lands. Eventually, Vishnuvardhana declared his independence and started the Eastern Chalukya dynasty

Madhava Varma 2, was the Most Powerful King of Vishnukundina dynasty. The reign of Madhava Varma 2  (c. 440 – c. 460) was a golden age in the history of the Vishnukundinas. He is regarded as the Greatest Ruler of the Vishnukundina dynasty. The Vishnukundina Empire reached its greatest territorial extent under him. He defeated Prithvishena 2, the powerful vakataka  king and married his daughter, the Vakataka Mahadevi.


By the middle of the 5th century, the dynasty began its imperial expansion under its most efficient ruler Madhava Varma 2,   who ruled for nearly half a century. The reign of Madhava Varma (c. 440 – c. 460) was a golden age in the history of the Vishnukundinas. It was during this period, the small Vishnukundina dynasty rose to imperial heights. A princess of the then powerful ruling family of the Deccan the Vaka-takas was given in marriage to Madhava Varma’s son, Vikramendra Varma. This alliance gave them great power and made it easy for them to extend their influence to the east coast.

Inscription number 20.

Khanapur Plates of Madhavavarman 1,

Provenance: Khanapur, Satara district, Maharashtra.

Script: Brahmi of the southern Class of the 6th century A.D.

Language: Sanskrit.

References: Y. R Gupte, a brief notice in the Marathi Journal, Bharata Itihasa Samsodhaka Mandala, Quarterly, VIII (1927) pp- 163 f. and J.B.B.R.A.S.

(New Series). IV, (1928) pp.89 V.V. Mirashi and Y.R. Gupte, Ep Ind XXVII, pp.312-18.




Of the three original plates, only the 2nd and 3rd, were discover in 1927. The second plate, inscribed on both sides, has lost one line each at tho top and

bottom. Even these two plates are not traceable now.

Fortunately photographs of the second and ink impression of the third plate taken by Y.R. Gupte, soon after discovery are still extant.

Palaeographic evidence of this plate places C S Madhavavarman,

who claims to be a universal

monarch sarwabhauma) in the 6th century A.D. The surviving action of His eulogy in these plates tallies with those

in the Ipur (Ep.Ind.. XVII, pp.336) and

Pulomburu (J.A.H.R.S. VI, pp.20) plates of Madhava-varman

of Vishnukundin dynasty. who flourished from about 510 to 560 A.D.and performed many srauta sacrifices including eleven Asvamedhas and attained Svarajya.

He is again credited with these sacrifices in the grants of his grandsons Madhava-varman 2, Ep.Ind.

XVII, pp.338) and indra-varman(Ibid., XII, pp-134) and

also 1n the Chikkula plates of his great-grandson, Vikramendravarman 2, (Ibid., IV, pp.196). Hence the

conclusion that the Madhava-varman of the present grant was no other than the vishnukundin emperor of the other records. He is known to have married a Vaka-taka princess, probably a daughter of the last known Vaka-taka Emperor Harishena (see the adjective,

विष्णु कुण्डी वाकाट वंश दव्या लडन्कृत जन्मन

of Madhavavarman 1’s son, Vikramendravarman, in

the chikkulla plates, Ibid. IV, pp.196, text 1.10).

When the Vakataka empire crumbled after the death of Harishena, Madhavavarman 1, took advantage and

overran South Kosala or chhattisgarh and occupied for time even Sripura, the capital of the Soma-vamsi,

king Varadeva. His grandson, Madhavavarman 2, claims in Ipur plates to be the lord of Trikuta

(in Nasik district) and Malaya (in Southern Western Ghats), both in Maharashtra. And the present plates

record the grant of a village in the Satara district, confirming the occupation of Maharashtra by

Madhavavarman 1. After his death his empire seems to have been divided. The western portion, consisting of

Maharashtra and Karnataka was ruled by his grandson, Madhavavarman 2, while the eastern postion comprising

South Kosala, Kalinga and Andhra was under the rule of his other grandson, Indravarman. The Rashtrakutas of

Kuntala soon drove out the vishnukundins from Maharashtra.

(From the facsimile in Ep.Ind., XXVII, between pp.316 and 317.




1. Avabhritha is the purificatory bath taken at the end of a sattra or a sacrifice of long duration.

2. This ज has an extra prong.

3. Mirashi and Gupte consider this to be the earliest epigraphical reference to the Sanatana Dharma. But sanatana here is an adjective of dharmakarma

as a whole, as is sruti-smriti-vihita

4. The phrase द्विवेद गृहीत सहर्स is clear. गृहीत evidently used by way of distinction from आहरण रत

used in reference to the second Brahmana Kesavasvain.

Evidently the latter was still engaged in the study of the two Vadas, while Bolasvamin had already received

(गृहीत) full instruction and was already performing the six duties enjoined on a Brahmana. Bolasvamin for

this reason, seems to have received a larger portion of the donation. The mention of four-times of uniform

shares in produce and revenue in 1.10, possibly refers to him.

Second plate.


1. सं was left out at fir st and later inserted above the line, Mirashi and Gupte had read संव्रत:

The improved reading is due to B.Ch. chhabra.

2. Since the boundaries in other directions are marked by specified villages, it appears that Yojana is

also the name of a village, which was located to the north of the donated village.

3. Mirash and Gupte: पूव्र्व त:

4. The ‘six duties’ are enumerated in 1.6 above, namely, यजन य़ाजन अध्यन अध्यापन दान and प्रतिग्रह



1. Retturaka is the modern village Retare in Karhad taluk in Satara district, of Maharashtra. Of the two villages

of this name located on the opposite banks of the Krishna or Krisnabena, as named here, the reference

here is, probably, to the Retare Budrukh (i.e. Larger Retare) located on the south-east bank of the river.

Of the villages marking its boundary,

Machhadarya, now called Rajmachi, is located about 6 kms. to the east of Retare. Senavarya is probably Shenoli, a railway station on the Miraj-Pune

line. Kolika is represented by modern Kola, about 5 km, south-east of Retare Budrukh, Malakhetaka is Malkhet

about three km, to the south-west.

2. Of the three Tirthas or fords, Tambatirtha is probably

modern Tambve on the right bank of the Krishna, about 5 km. south of Retare Budrukh. Kadambatirtha, may be

Khubi on the left bank of the river opposite Tambve. Vanka (or Vakra-) tirtha cannot be traced. 0f the

vatikas or hamlets, Belavatika is Belvade, and

Kolikavatika Kolavade, both located about 5 km, south of Retare Budrukh. Vttarika is Vathar, about 3 km.

to north-west.

English Translation of the inscription.


h Translatton

It occured to the illustrious Maharaja Madhavavarman -who having performed a purificatory bath at the end of a long sacrifice with many —

again made—–,

who performed Pundarika, Bahusuvarna and shodasin sacrifices,

who is a universal monarch, who is the veritable sun with (his) splendours, who is the Indra himself with (his) majesty, who is the farthest limit of the duties and functions of the four varnas (social divisions) and the four asramas (stages of life)


that sixtyfour -(ought to be granted) to

two deserving and prominent Brahmanas, (namely) to Balasvamin, who is a student of the Samaveda and belongs to the salankayan a gotra, who has (already) received instruction

in a thousand verses of two Vedas, who is ever engaged in the rituals of the eternal religion, as prescribed in the Vedas and the Smritis, and who performs (the religious duties prescribed for a, Brahmana, namely, sacrifices for himself and others,

studies and teaches and gives and receives gifts and to Kesavasvamin, who is a student of the Taittiriya school

(of the Yajurveda) and by gotra, a Bharadvaja, who is engaged in

accomplishing (the mastery of) two Vedas- —-

in the province (bhoge) of —-

to the south of Yojana (or a yojana to the south), to its north-east are Machhadarya, Devabhirya and Senavarya, to its east in southern sector, there is the village named Kolika; to the west is the village

named Malakhetaka—in the centre of these (villages listed above)

the village named Retturaka, situated to the south-east of the (river) Krishnabena, the village Retturaka, together with the Vatikas (named below) is being assigned, for the

purpose of performance of the six duties and for sacrifices etc. in order to achieve heaven and emancipation (for


L1.16-19. In the Maha-vaisakha (cyclic year) on the full moon day, when three parts of the day were left i.e. in the morning, the Retturaka village together

with (the fords, called) Vakatirtha, Tambatirtha and Kadambatirtha, and the hamlets Belavatika, Kolika

Vatika and Vattarika was granted, duly with the libation of water, approving them as free from all taxes.

L.19: Counted as one thousand kalpas, the Bhatta-grama, the udatirtha.

L.20. [Offering of Sraddha oblations –


(It is pointed out to future kings that) great prosperity and an increase of the treasure of religious merit accrues, and immense fame flows forth,

(by protecting the pious gifts made by others).

(Here follow six of the customary verses

Written by the devout Kayastha Sripala, who is firmly rooted in truth and piousness.


(1. Namely Yajana, Adhyana, Adhyapana, Dana, pratigraha, enumerated in 1.6 above)




Kayastha is evidently a clerical designation here,

as is Prathama-kayastha, in four of the five copper- plate grants found in Damodarpur. The earliest of

these was issued in the Gupta year 127 ( 446-47 A.D.) in the reign of Kumaragupta. The writer of the

Gunai ghar plate of the Gupta year 188 (-507-8 A.D.) was one Kayastha Nara-datta. Mirashi and Gupte are

wrong is assuming this to be the earliest reference, to kayastha, as a caste.




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