Rajendra Chola I

Rajendra Chola I or Rajendra I was a Chola emperor of South India (present day Tamil Nadu, Andhra pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka and Telangana) who succeeded his father Rajaraja Chola I to the throne in 1014 CE. During his reign, he extended the influence of the Chola empire to the banks of the river Ganga in North India and across the Indian ocean to the West and South East Asia, making the Chola Empire one of the most powerful maritime empires of India.[7][8] Rajendra’s conquests included Sri Lanka, Maldives, and he successfully invaded the territories of Srivijaya in Malay Peninsula, Southern Thailand, Sumatra and Java in South East Asia.[7][9] The Cholas exacted tribute from Thailand and the Khmer kingdom of Cambodia. He defeated Mahipala, the Pala king of Gauda in present day Bengal and Bihar, and to commemorate his victory he assumed the title of 'Gangaikondachola',[10] literally the Chola who conquered the (kingdoms near) Ganga and also built a new capital city called Gangaikonda Cholapuram.[11][12]

Rajendra Chola I was the son of Rajaraja Chola and Thiripuvana Madeviyar, princess of Kodumbalur. He was born in the Tamil month of Marghazi under star Thiruvathirai.[13] He spent most of his childhood in Palayarai and was brought up by his aunt Kundavai and great-grandmother Sembiyan Mahadevi. He was made the co-regent in 1012 CE. Rajendra formally ascended the Chola throne in 1014 CE. In 1018 CE, he installed his eldest son Rajadhiraja Chola I as the crown prince.[14][dubious ]

Rajendra led campaigns from 1002 CE. These include the conquest of the Rashtrakutas and the campaigns against the Western Chalukyas. He conquered the Chalukyan territories of Yedatore (a large part of the Raichur district between the Krishna and the Tungabhadra), Banavasi in the north-west of Mysore and capital Manyakheta. Rajendra erected a Siva temple at Bhatkal. In 1004 CE, he captured Talakad and overthrew the Western Ganga dynasty which had ruled over Mysore for almost 1000 years.[citation needed] He also conquered Kollipakkai, located to the north of Hyderabad in present-day Telangana. An excerpt from an inscription in Tamil from Kolar states:

In the 8th year of the reign of Kopparakesarivanmar sri Rajendra Sola Deva, who, while the goddess of Fortune, having become constant, increased, and while the goddess of the great Earth, the goddess of victory in battle and the matchless goddess of Fame, having become his great queens, rejoiced-that in his extended lifetime, conquered with his great war-like army Idaiturai-nadu, Vanavasi shut in by a fence of continuous forests; Kollipakkai, whose walls were surrounded by sulli trees; Mannaikkadakkam whose fortification was unapproachable.[15]

Raja Raja Chola I conquered the northern half of Sri Lanka during his reign. Rajendra invaded Ceylon in 1017 CE and annexed the entire island.[16] As a result of the campaign, Rajendra captured the regal jewels of the Pandyas, which Parantaka I tried to capture and the crown of the Sinhala king. The Sinhala king Mahinda V was taken prisoner and transported to the Chola country.

In 1018/19 CE, Rajendra marched into the Pandya and Chera Perumal kingdoms and conquered the two countries.[14] Rajendra appointed one of his sons as viceroy with the title Jatavarman Sundara Chola-Pandya with Madurai as the headquarters (in-charge both Pandya and Chera/Kerala countries).

In 1015 CE, Jayasimha II became the king of Western Chalukyas. He tried to recover the losses suffered by his predecessor Satyashraya, who fled his capital and was later restored to the throne by Raja Raja I as a tribute paying subordinate. Initially, Jayasimha II was successful as Rajendra was busy with his campaigns in Sri Lanka.[17] In 1021 CE, after the demise of the Eastern Chalukyan king Vimaladitya of Vengi, Jayasimha supported the claim of Vijayaditya VII to the throne against the claims of Rajaraja Narendra. Rajaraja Narendra was the son of Vimaladitya and Chola princess Kundavai.[17] Rajendra helped his nephew Rajaraja defeat Vijayaditya.[18] His armies defeated Vijayadiya in Vengi and Jayasimha in the battle of Maski.[17]

Gangaikonda Cholapuram was built by Rajendra Chola to celebrate his success in the Ganges Expedition

In 1019 CE, Rajendra’s forces marched through Kalinga towards the river Ganga. In Kalinga the Chola forces defeated Indraratha the ruler of the Somavamsi Dynasty.[19] The Chola army eventually reached the Pala kingdom of Bengal where they defeated Mahipala. The Chola army also defeated the last ruler of the Kamboja Pala dynasty Dharmapala of Dandabhukti.[20][21] The Chola army went on to raid East Bengal and defeated Govindachandra of the Chandra dynasty and invaded Bastar region.[22][23] The territories held the status of tribute paying subordinates and trade partners with the Chola Kingdom, an arrangement that lasted till the times of Kulothunga III.[24] He constructed a new capital at Gangaikondacholapuram and built the Brihadeeswarar Temple similar to the Brihadeeswarar Temple at Thanjavur.

Srivijaya was a kingdom centered on Palembang in Sumatra, ruled by the Sailendra dynasty. During the reign of Mara Vijayatungavarman, Srivijaya had cordial relations with the Chola Empire during the reign of Rajaraja Chola I; Mara Vijayatungavarman built a Chudamani Vihara at Nagapattinam. Mara was succeeded by Sangrama Vijayatunggavarman.

Khmer Emperor Suryavarman I made war on the kingdom of Tambralinga (in the Malay Peninsula). Suryavarman I requested aid from Rajendra.[25][26] After learning of Suryavarman's alliance with Rajendra Chola, Tambralinga requested aid from Srivijaya, which was granted by Sangrama.[25][27] This eventually led to the Chola expedition against the Srivijiya Empire. This alliance somewhat also had a religious nuance, since both the Chola Empire and the Khmer Empire were Hindu Shivaist, while Tambralinga and Srivijaya were Mahayana Buddhist.

In 1025 CE, Rajendra led Chola forces across the Indian Ocean and invaded Srivijaya, attacking several places in Malaysia and Indonesia.[28] The Chola sacked Kadaram (the capital) and Pannai in Sumatra and Malaiyur in the Malay Peninsula. Rajendra also invaded Tambralinga and the Langkasuka Kingdom in modern Malaysia and south Thailand.[12][29][30] The Chola forces captured the last ruler of the Sailendra Dynasty Sangrama Vijayatunggavarman.[31] The Chola invasion was the end of Srivijaya.[32][33] Srivijaya's maritime power declined under Chola attack.[34] After this the Chola Empire conquered large portions of Srivijaya, including its ports of Ligor, Kedah, and Tumasik (now Singapore).[34][35] The Chola invasion furthered the expansion of Tamil merchant associations such as the Manigramam, Ayyavole, and Ainnurruvar into Southeast Asia.[36][37][38][39] For the next century, Tamil trading companies from southern India dominated Southeast Asia.[32][33] The expedition of Rajendra Chola I is mentioned in the corrupted form as Raja Chulan in the medieval Malay chronicle Sejarah Melaya, and Malay princes have names ending with Cholan or Chulan, such as Raja Chulan of Perak.[40][41][42][43][44] One record of Rajendra Chola describes him as the King of Lamuri in north Sumatra.[45] The Chola invasion led to the fall of the Sailendra Dynasty of Srivijaya and the Chola invasion also coincides with the return voyage of the great Buddhist scholar Atiśa from Sumatra to India in 1025.[46]

Rajendra Chola built a vast artificial lake, sixteen miles long and three miles wide which was one of the largest man-made lakes in India.[48] The fortified capital of Rajendra Chola was of impressive grandeur and Ottakoothar states, .[48][49] The extent of the empire was the widest in India and the military and naval prestige was at its highest.[50] The successful invasions of Rajendra Chola were applauded by several medieval Tamil poets like Jayamkondan in his text Kalingattupparani and Ottakkoothar in his text Ula.[51]

On seeing Gangapuri, all fourteen worlds encircled by the billowing ocean are overwhelmed with joy

After his successful campaign to Ganges river in north India he got the title Gangaikonda Chola (The Chola who took the Ganges river). And after his successful Southeast Asian campaign he got the title "Kadaram Kondan"(He who took Kedah in Malaysia).[51] He founded a new capital city called Gangaikonda Cholapuram and built a Shiva temple similar to the Thanjavur Brihadisvara temple built by his father Rajaraja Chola. He expanded the Pathirakali Amman Temple and Koneswaram temple of Trincomalee.[48] He inherited the title Mummudi Cholan (Chola with three crowns) from his father with Mummudi, a title used by Tamil kings who ruled the three kingdoms of Cholas, Pandyas and Cheras.[52] To commemorate his conquests, Rajendra assumed other titles such as Mudigonda Cholan and Irattapadikonda Cholan.

The Malay-language Hikayat Iskandar Zulkarnain was written about Alexander the Great as Dhul-Qarnayn and from it the ancestry of several Southeast Asian royal families is traced to Iskandar Zulkarnain,[53] through Rajendra Chola (Raja Suran, Raja Chola) in the Malay Annals, such as the Sumatran Minangkabau royalty.[54][55]

Rajendra Chola had many consorts including Tribuvana or Vanavan Mahadeviar, Mukkokilan,Arindhavan Madevi and Viramadevi, last of whom committed sati upon Rajendra Chola’s death. The Siddanta Saravali of Trilochana Sivacharya states that Rajendra was a poet and he composed hymns in praise of Shiva. A commentary on the same work states that Rajendra Chola brought a number of Saivas from the banks of the Ganges and settled them in Kanchi and the Chola country.[56] Rajendra Chola had three sons namely Rajadhiraja Chola, Rajendra Chola II and Virarajendra Chola, who followed him on the Chola throne in succession. He had two daughters Pranaar Arul Mozhi Nangai and Ammanga Devi. His campaigns were led by general Senapati Narakkan Sri Krishnan Raman.[57][58]

According to South Indian epigraphs and records, Rajendra Chola I died in Brahmadesam now a part of North Arcot district in Tamil Nadu, India. This information is recorded in an inscription of his son, Rajadhiraja Chola I which states that Rajendra Chola's queen Viramadeviyar committed Sati upon Rajendra's death and her remains were interred in the same tomb as Rajendra Chola I in Brahmadesam. It adds that the queen's brother, sēnapati Madhurantakan Parakēsari vēlān[59], who was a general in Rajendra Chola's army set up a watershed at the same place in memory of his sister.[60][61]

A painting of Emperor Rajendra Chola I. The painting is a part of National War Museum, Pune

An inscription of the king from the Adhipuriswara temple in Chengalpattu district gives his natal star as Tiruvadarai. Donations were made to the temple to celebrate the king's birthday in the month of Maargali.[62] Another inscription from the Umamahesvara temple in Konerirajapuram, Thanjavur district refers to the donations by Alvar Parantakan Kundavai-Pirattiyar during the third year of the king's reign.[63]