- Rajendra Chola I
:"Rajendra Chola" redirects here. For Rajendra Chola II, see
Rajendra Chola II."
Infobox Chola | name=Rajendra Chola I
tamil = முதலாம் இராஜேந்திர சோழன்
caption = "Rajendra Chola's Territories c. 1030 C.E."
title = Parakesari
reign= 1012 C.E. - 1044 C.E.
queen= Tribhuvana Mahadeviyar
children= Rajadhiraja Chola I
Rajendra Chola II
heir= Rajadhiraja Chola I
father= Rajaraja Chola
year of birth= Unknown
year of death= 1044 C.E.
Rajendra Chola I ( _ta. முதலாம் இராஜேந்திர சோழன்) was the son of
Rajaraja Chola I, the great Chola king of South India. He succeeded his father in 1014 C.E. as the Chola emperor. During his reign, he extended the influences of the already vast Chola empire up to the banks of the river Gangesin the north and across the ocean. Rajendra’s territories extended coastal Burma, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Maldives, conquered the kings of Srivijaya( Sumatra, Java and Malaya in South East Asia) and Peguislands with his fleet of ships. He defeated Mahipala, the Pala king of Bengaland Bihar, and to commemorate his victory he built a new capital called Gangaikonda Cholapuram. Tamil Chola armies exacted tribute from Thailandand the Khmer kingdom of Cambodia. Rajendra was the first Indian king to take his armies overseas.
He also built a temple for
Sivaat Gangaikonda Cholapuram, similar in design to the Tanjore Brihadisvara templebuilt by Rajaraja Chola. He assumed titles "Parakesari" and "Yuddhamalla".
Rajaraja Chola I had made the crown prince Rajendra Co Regent in 1012CE. Both Son and Father reigned as equals during the final few years of Rajaraja’s life. Rajendra was at the forefront of some of Rajaraja’s campaigns such as those against Vengi and Kalinga towards the end of his reign.
Ascension and early reign
Rajendra formally ascended the Chola throne in 1014 CE, two years after his installation as the Co Regent. Early in his reign in 1018 CE he installed his eldest son
Rajadhiraja Chola Ias "yuvaraja" (Co-regent).See Sastri, KAN, "A History of South India", p165] Rajadhiraja continued to rule aside his father for the next 26 years. The son ruled in full regal status as the father. This practice was probably adapted initially to obviate disputed succession.
The system of choosing a successor in the lifetime and associating him in the discharge of administrative duties is an important aspect of Chola administration. The princes who had come of age were appointed in various positions of authority in the different provinces of the empire according to the individuals to aptitude and talent. Those who distinguished themselves in these positions were then chosen as heir apparent. In some cases the eldest son was overlooked in favour of a more talented younger.
Rajendra’s inscriptions include the many campaigns he carried on behalf of Rajaraja from c. 1002 C.E. These include the conquest of the
Rashtrakutacountry and region around the current northwestern Karnatakastate. Rajendra also led campaigns against the Western Chalukya Satyasraya and crossed the river Tungabhadra, carried the war into the heart of the Chalukya country and attacked their capital.
Invasion of SriLanka
To complete the task began by his father, (for many reasons RajaRajan I was able to conquer only half of the Sri Lanka in his time) of conquering the island of Srilanka, Rajendra invaded the island in 1018 C.E. As a result of the campaign, Rajendra claimed to have captured the regal jewels of the
Pandyakings, which Parantaka Itried in vain to capture. Rajendra also captured the crown of the Sinhala king, his Queen and daughter. The Sinhala king Mahinda Vwas taken prisoner and transported to the Chola country. He was held prisoner for over twelve years and died in captivity. Mahavamsagives a graphic illustration of the carnage wrought by the pillaging Chola army in the Sinhala country, claiming the invading army destroyed monasteries seeking treasure. Chola inscriptions however are silent regarding the details of this campaign and draws a veil over the pillage.
Kassapabecame the centre of Sihalese resistance against the Tamil Power. The war between the Cholas and the Sinhalese raged for over six months in which a great number of Tamils were killed(doubtful claim). At the end of the battle Kassapa managed to drive out the Chola army from the southeast corner of the island and ruled as Vikramabahu I.
Remains of a number of Hindu temples have been discovered around the
Polonnaruwaarea attesting to the presence of the Tamil army.
In 1041 C.E. Rajendra had to lead another expedition into
Sri Lankato quell the continuing attacks against the Chola army by Vikramabahu. Vikramabahu died soon after and anarchy reigned outside the Chola territories. An assortment of adventurers including Sinhalese, dispossessed Pandya princes and even a certain Jagaitpala from distance Kanauj asserted authority over portions of the island. Chola army had to fight and defeat them all.
It is said that Rajendra chola fulfilled his father's dream to bring the whole sri lanka under Cholan territory. He is one of the few Tamil rulers who brought the whole sri lanka under Tamil rule. Great man and he was surely one of the Great Kings!
Pandyas and Cheras
In 1018, Rajendra made a triumphal march at the head of his army through the Pandya and Cheras (Kerala) countries. Rajendra’s Tiruvalangadu grants claim that he …’took possession of the bright spotless pearls, seeds of the fame of the Pandya kings’ and that ‘…the fearless Madurantaka (Rajendra) crossed the mountains and in a fierce battle brought ruin upon the Chera kings. It is doubtful whether Rajendra added any additional territory to his empire through these campaigns as these have already been conquered by Rajaraja very early in his reign.
Rajendra appointed one of his sons as viceroy with the title Jadavarman Sundara Chola-Pandya with
Maduraias the headquarters of the Viceroyalty.
C. 1021 Rajendra had to turn his attention towards the
Western Chalukyas. In 1015 Jayasimha II became the Western Chalukyaking. Soon after his ascension, he tried to recover the losses suffered by his predecessor Satyasraya in the hands of the Cholas, who has fled his capital, unable to withstand the Chola onslaught, but had been graciously restored to the throne by Raja Raja I and became a tribute paying subordinate. Initially Jayasimha II was successful as Rajendra was busy with his campaigns against the Pandyas and in Srilanka.See Sastri, KAN, "A History of South India", p166]
Jayasimha also decided to involve himself in the affairs of the
Eastern Chalukyasof Vengi. After the demise of the Vengi king Vimaladitya, Jayasimha threw his support behind Vijayaditya VII against the claims of Rajaraja Narendra, another of Vimaladitya’s sons by the Chola princess Kundavai. Rajendra naturally had his affinity towards Rajaraja, his nephew (for Kundavai was Rajendra’s sister). A civil war ensued between Vijayaditya and Rajaraja. However with the help of Rejendra, Rajraja Narendra was soon able to defeat the forces of Vijayaditya.
Rajendra followed the same tactic adopted by his illustrious father of sending two armies, one to Vengi and the other to the Chalukyan capital itself. Rajendra’s forces met Jayasimha in the western front and defeated him in the battle of Maski. Rajendra's forces also crossed swords with the Chalukyas at Kollippakkai near Mannaikadakkam (Manyakheta), the capital of Jayasimha-II. Many of Jayasimha-II's generals, called Mahasamantas and Dandanayakas paid with their lives for the intransigence of their inept king, as described in the Tiruvalangadu plates of Rajendra I. Rajendra routed Jayasimha thoroughly with the result the Chalukya king ran away from his capital. [Rajendra Chola I describes his victory over Jayasimha as under: "the seven and a half lakshas of Iratta-padi, "(which was) strong by nature, (through the conquest of which) immeasurable fame arose,  (and which he took from) Jayasimha, who, out of fear (and) full of vengeance, turned his back at Muyangi and hid himself;"] This war is extensively described in the inscriptions of Rajendra Chola I at the Raja Rajesvara Temple, Thanjavur. [ [http://www.whatisindia.com/inscriptions/south_indian_inscriptions/volume_2/no_20_south_wall_1st_2nd_tiers.html South Indian Inscriptions] ]
Rajaraja Narendra had his long delayed coronation in Vengi after the return of the triumphant expedition to the Ganges in 1022 C.E. and Rajendra gave his daughter Ammanga in marriage to Rajaraja.
In 1031 C.E., the western Chalukyas invaded Vengi and drove Rajaraja Narendra into exile and installed Vijayaditya as the Vengi king. Rajaraja once again sought Chola help in regaining his throne. Chola army invaded the Vengi and in a bloody battle near Kalidandi, managed to push back Vijayaditya and his western Chalukya ally. Rajaraja Narendra managed to regain his throne in 1035 C.E.
Expedition to the Ganges
With both the Western and Eastern Chalukya fronts subdued, Rajendra’s armies undertook an extraordinary expedition. C. 1019 CE Rajendra’s forces continued to march through Kalinga to the river Ganges. The Emperor himself advanced up to the river Godavari to protect the rear of the expeditionary force. The Chola army eventually reach the
Palakingdom of Bengal where they met Mahipalaand defeated him. [See Keay, John, p220]
According to the Tiruvalangadu Plates, the campaign lasted less than two years in which many kingdoms of the north felt the might of the Chola army. The inscriptions further claim that Rajendra defeated ‘…the armies of Ranasura and entered the land of Dharmapala and subdued him and thereby he reached the Ganges and caused the water river to be brought by the conquered kings’ back to the Chola country. The new conquests opened up new roots for the Cholas to head for distant lands like Burma by land (through what are now modern Orissa, West Bengal, Assam and Bangladesh).
It is true that Rajendra's army defeated the kings of Sakkarakottam and Dhandabhukti and Mahipala. These territories were initially added to the kingdom, while later they had the status of tribute paying subordinates and trade partners with the Chola Kingdom, an arrangement that lasted till the times of Kulothunga-III and to a limited extent, of Raja Raja-III too. It was undoubtedly an exhibition of the power and might of the Chola empire to the northern kingdoms. But the benevolent leadership of the Cholas treated them in a benevolent manner and did not permanently annexe them to the Chola dominions. See Nilakanta Sastri, K.A. (1935). "The CōĻas", pp 209 - 212. Sastri bases his argument on the fact that these regions were not included in the inscriptions of his successors and on the lack of any epigraphical evidence in the 'conquered' regions.]
Before the fourteenth year of Rajendra’s reign c. 1025, the Chola Navy crossed the ocean and attacked the Srivijaya kingdom of Sangrama Vijayatungavarman. Kadaram, the capital of the powerful maritime kingdom, was sacked and the king taken captive. Along with Kadaram, Pannai in present day Sumatra and Malaiyur in the Malayan peninsula were attacked. Kedah (now in modern Malaysia) too was occupied.
Sangarama Vijayatungavarman was the son of Mara Vijayatungavarman of the Sailendra dynasty. Srivijaya kingdom was located near
There are no records to explain the nature of and the reason for this naval expedition. The Sailendra dynasty had been in good relations with the Chola Empire during the period of Rajaraja Chola I. Rajaraja encouraged Mara Vijayatungavarman to build the Chudamani Vihara at Nagapattinam. Rajendra confirmed this grant in the Anaimangalam grants showing that the relationship with Srivijaya was still continued be friendly. The exact cause of the quarrel that caused the naval war between Cholas and Srivijaya remains unknown.
The Cholas had an active trade relationship with the eastern island. Moreover the Srivijaya kingdom and the South Indian empires were the intermediaries in the trade between
Chinaand the countries of the Western world. Both the Srivijaya and Cholas had active dialog with the Chinese and sent diplomatic missions to China.
The Chinese records of the
Song Dynastyshow that first mission to China from "Chu-lien" (Chola) reached that country in 1015 C.E. and the king of their country was "Lo-ts’a-lo-ts’a" (Rajaraja). Another embassy from "Shi-lo-cha Yin-to-loChu-lo" (Sri Raja Indra Chola) reached China in 1033 C.E. and a third in 1077 C.E. during Kulothunga Chola I. The commercial intercourse between Cholas and the Chinese were continuous and extensive.One reason could be a trade disputestemming from some attempts by Srivijaya to throw some obstacle between the flourishing trade between China and the Cholas. Whatever the actual cause of this expedition, it is difficult to believe that, even if we take all the achievements narrated in Rajendra’s inscriptions are accepted as literally true, the campaign led to any permanent territories rather than a vague acceptance of the Chola suzerainty by Srivijaya. Sangaram Vijayatungavarman was restored to the throne at his agreement to pay periodic tribute to Rajendra.
Tanjavur inscriptions also state that the king of Kambhoja (
Kampuchea) requesting Rajendra’s help in defeating enemies of his Angkorkingdom.
Rajendra’s long reign saw almost continuous campaigns and conflicts trying to hold his huge empire together. Rajendra’s sons carried out most of the campaigns during the late period of his reign. The emperor refrained from taking the field personally allowing his sons to win glory and distinction.
Rebellions in the Pandya and Kerala countries called for severe action and Rajadhiraja Chola I suppressed them. He also undertook a campaign in Sri Lanka to quell a rebellion instigated by Kassapa.
To commemorate his celebrated northern campaign to the Ganges, Rajendra assumed the title of Gangaikonda Chola and had the Siva Temple
Gangakkondacholeswarambuilt. Soon after the capital was moved from Thanjavur to Gangaikondacholapuram. Rajendra probably founded the city of Gangaikondacholapuram before his 17th year.
Most of the Chola kings who succeeded Rajendra were crowned here. They retained it as their capital, reoriented and trained the efficient Chola army. It is not known whether the capital was moved to the new location for strategic purposes, as the old capital Thanjavur had very strong fortifications.
The closing years of Rajendra forms the most splendid period of Cholas. [See Schmidt, K, p32] The extent of the empire was the widest and the military and naval prestige was at its highest. [See Rothermund and Kulke, p109] The emperor was ably assisted by his sons and other members of his family. The Chola imperialism was a benevolent one attested by the presence of the traditional rulers in the Pandya and Kerala countries and the act of reinstating the Srivijaya king after his defeat.
Personal life and family
Rajendra had many queens. Some of them mentioned in inscriptions are Tribuvana or Vanvavn Mahadeviar, Mukkokila, Panchavan Mahadevi and Viramadevi who committed
sation Rajendra’s death.
Of his sons, three followed him on the Chola throne in succession.
Rajadhiraja Chola, Rajendra Chola IIand Virarajendra Cholaof whom we do not know the identity of the Madurai viceroy Jatavarman Sundara Chola Pandya. Of Rajendra’s daughters we know of Arulmolinangayar and Ammangadevi who married Eastern Chalukya king Rajaraja Narendra and the mother of Kulothunga Chola I the first Chalykya Chola monarch.
* Nilakanta Sastri, K.A. (1935). "The CōĻas", University of Madras, Madras (Reprinted 1984).
* Nilakanta Sastri, K.A. (1955). "A History of South India", OUP, New Delhi (Reprinted 2002).
* [http://www.whatisindia.com/inscriptions/ South Indian Inscriptions]
* [http://www.ponniyinselvan.in/articles-f6/25-names-of-rajendra-chola-t26503.html#p107953 ராஜேந்திர சோழனின் 25 பெயர்கள் (25 Names of Rajendra chola)]
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