Expansionist Emperor – s’rii lalitAditya muktapiid.a of kAs’miira

We read about the great Hindu dynasties of Gupta, Maurya, Chalukya and Cola. We even read about Chandellas, the various other rajaputra dynasties, the rAs.t.rakUt.a-s and other dynasties. But the dynasties of kAs’miira are completely overlooked by our textbooks. Perhaps the greatest of all Hindu emperors who carried his flag to various foreign kingdoms was born in kAs’miira – the great lalitAditya muktapiid.a, the conqueror of Tibetans, Dards, Turks

kalhan.a writes about this conqueror:

 “rAjA s’rii lalitAdityaH sArvabhaumastatobhavat ! prAdes’ikes’vara sras.t.ur vidher buddher agocaraH !”

 (rAjataran~gin.ii 4-126)

Then, the king s’rii lalitAditya became the ruler of all lands. He was much beyond the range of the intellect of vidhi (fate) who creates the rulers of regions/provinces. (kalhan.a says that lalitAditya created his own destiny for he was beyond the purview of fate).

4.132 refers to his conquest of antarvedii (gan~gA-yamunA doab).

4.134-145 refer to his conquest of yas’ovarman’s kingdom. Yas’ovarman was the benefactor of bhavabhUti and vAkpati.

Verses 4.146-162 refer to his vijaya yAtra through the lands of kalin~ga, gaud.a, karn.At.a, dravid.a, kon~kan.a, dvArakA and avanti. (footnote 1)

From 4.163, kalhan.a describes lalitAditya’s foreign conquests. He entered the vast pathless regions of uttarApatha.

4.165 – the kAmboja-s (of Afghanistan, tajikistan) were deprived of their horses.

4.166 – tuhkhAra-s (turks of central asia) ran away from the battlefield leaving their horses and escaped to the mountain peaks

4.167 – He defeated mummuni (a lord of turks?) thrice in battlefield (triinvArAn samare jitvA)

4.168 – bhaut.t.a-s (Tibetans) also faced his strength in battle. kalhan.a writes that their cintA was not visible on their face due to their pale complexion (one’s face pales when in fear but the Tibetans being already pale complexioned people, such a reaction cannot be identified through skin color).

4.169 – the darada-s (of gilgit, swat and peshawar regions) were conquered.

4.172 – refers to the emperor’s sojourn through taklamakan desert.

4.173-174 – his conquest over a strii-rAjya in the region

4.175 – uttara kuru-s ran away in fear.

4.185 – he built a temple for nr.simha in striirAjya. Thus, it was not only a physical conquest but also resulted in spread of dharma.

4.367-368 – the warrior emperor’s death occurred during one of his expeditions into foreign lands. It was believed by some that he died due to snow fall in a country called AryAn.aka (iran). While some others believed that he entered the flames in order to save his prestige during some san~kat.a (san~kat.e kvApi dahanam prAviks.aditi kecana). In our opinion, it could be a combination of both. His army might have suffered losses due to untimely heavy snowfall. This might have put him in a precarious situation within the enemy territory. Rather than being captured, he must have preferred to end his life on his own terms. Even his death sings his glory. By the time of lalitAditya’s reign, iran was under the control of arab muslims. lalitAditya had taken the fight into enemy lands and even his ultimate demise seems to be a result of a freak snow storm.

This emperor burst through the passes of the northern mountains and humbled the tribes of tibet, central asia and afghanistan). He was a conqueror who never lost a single battle. As kalhan.a says he was an emperor who wrote his own destiny and what a destiny it turned out to be. Where the cola emperors sent expeditions to south east asia and established their over lordship there, the kAs’miira monarch did the same from tibet in the east to central asia and iran in the west, from xinjiang in north to the Indian subcontinent in the south.

His successors proved to be of much less mettle and his show of power was not consolidated. But lalitAditya must be promoted as one of those conquerors who can be an inspiration for every generation of Hindus.


footnote 1: While lalitAditya’s expedition up to gaud.a seems to be based on actual fact, the description of his vijaya yAtra (digvijaya) through south india, dvArakA and avanti seem to be poetic imagination. Or maybe kalhan.a wanted to bestow the digvijaya of entire indian subcontinent on his hero. One evidence proving the claim that it is a result of poetic imagination is this: kalhan.a says that karnAt.a was ruled by rat.t.A (rAs.t.rakUt.a-s). And he calls rat.t.A as a lady, a queen. Moreover, lalitAditya ruled during the early half of the eighth century CE. cAlukya-s were very powerful during this time and they dominated the region to the south of vindhya parvata. vikramAditya II is credited to have won every battle. But we need not doubt lalitAditya’s expedition to the north beyond the himAlaya. annals of tang refer to his conquest of tibet. al-berUnii (in chapter 76 of his book on india) states that kAsmiira people celebrated the anniversary of the victory of emperor muttai (muktapiid.a) over the turks on the second of caitra. Thus,  his invasion of foreign territories beyond the borders of the indian subcontinent is well established.


2 thoughts on “Expansionist Emperor – s’rii lalitAditya muktapiid.a of kAs’miira”

  1. Very interesting to note that for kings from south,it’s a great achievement when they conquer north and vice versa for kings from north. Must be a pointer that the two parts are incomplete without one another and they form the whole.

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