A Forgotten Empire Vijayanagar| by Robert Sewell Preface|Chapter 1|Chapter 2|Chapter 3|Chapter 4|Chapter 5|Chapter 6|Chapter 7|Chapter 8|Chapter 9|Chapter 10|Chapter 11|Chapter 12|Chapter 13|Chapter 14|Chapter 15|Chapter 16|Chapter 17
The First Kings of the Second Dynasty (A.D. 1490 to 1509)
Narasimha usurps the throne ~~ Flight of the late king ~~ Saluva Timma ~~ Vira Narasimha ~~ Bijapur again attacks Vijayanagar ~~ The Portuguese in India ~~ They seize Goa ~~ Varthema's record ~~ Albuquerque.
In my "Sketch of the Dynasties of Southern India," published in 1883 (p. 106), the following passage occurs: ~~
"We now come to the second or Narasimha dynasty, whose scions became more powerful than any monarchs who had ever reigned over the south of India. Dr. Burnell fixes A.D. 1490 as the initial date of Narasimha's reign, and at present no inscription that I can be sure of appears to overthrow that statement. I observe, however, that Bishop Caldwell, in his 'History of Tinnevelly' (p. 48), fixes the date of the beginning of Narasimha's … reign as A.D. 1487…. WE HAVE YET TO LEARN THE HISTORY OF HIS ACQUIRING THE SOVEREIGNTY OF VIJAYANAGAR AND OUSTING THE OLDER DYNASTY."
Nothing has since transpired to throw light on this subject, and the whole matter has remained up to the present in its primeval darkness; but this newly-found chronicle of Nuniz gives us the entire story in most interesting form though I can by no means vouch for its accuracy. It is, nevertheless, a RESUME of the traditional history of the early sixteenth century, written within fifty or sixty years of the events with which it deals. He tells us that Virupaksha Raya ("Verupacarao") was a weak and unworthy sovereign, in whose days large tracts of land were lost to the Muhammadans, including Goa, Chaul, and Dabhol; and this statement, at least, is historically accurate. Virupaksha was despotic, cruel, and sensuous, "caring for nothing but women and to fuddle himself with drink," so that the whole country was roused to indignation and rebellion. Eventually he was murdered by his eldest son, who in his turn was slain by his brother "Padearao," in whom the nation merely found repeated the crimes and follies of his dead sire. Disgusted with this line of sovereigns, the nobles rose, deposed their king, and placed on the throne one of their own number, Narasimha ~~ "Narsymgua, WHO WAS IN SOME MANNER AKIN TO HIM."
Nuniz gives us a graphic account of the last scenes; how Narasimha's captain arrived at the city gates and found them undefended; how he penetrated the palace and found no one to oppose him; how he even went as far as the harem, "slaying some of the women;" and how at last the craven king fled.
"After that, Narasymgua was raised to be king…. And as he had much power and was beloved by the people, thence-forward this kingdom of Bisnaga was called the kingdom of Narsymga."
The problem of Narasimha's relationship to the old royal line has never yet been satisfactorily solved. He belonged to a family called SALUVA, and we constantly hear, in the inscriptions and literary works of the time, of powerful lords who were relations or descendants of his. Thus our chronicle has much to say about the Saluva Timma, whom Nuniz calls "Salvatinea," who was minister to King Krishna Deva Raya. An inscription of the Saka year 1395, which corresponds to A.D. 1472 ~~ 73, speaks of Narasimha as a great lord, but a great lord ONLY, and so does another of A.D. 1482 ~~ 83. In one of A.D. 1495 ~~ 96, however, he is called "MAHA-RAYA," or the "king." But although the exact date of the usurpation and the exact relationship of the usurper to the deposed king may be difficult to ascertain, the fact remains that Narasimha actually became sovereign about this time, that Muhammadan aggression was stayed by his power and the force of his arms, and that the empire of Vijayanagar was under him once more consolidated.
The account of this period as given by Firishtah differs altogether from that of Nuniz, and gives rise to much confusion and difficulty. And as to the relationship of the succeeding sovereigns, Narasa, Vira Narasimha, Krishna Deva Raya, Achyuta, and Sadasiva, the native inscriptions themselves are totally at variance with one another. Some few points, however, in the general scheme of history of the second dynasty are quite certain, and these may be shortly summarised. The last kings of the first dynasty were recognised down to ABOUT the year 1490 A.D. Narasimha and Vira Narasimha ruled till the accession of Krishna Deva Raya in 1509; Achyuta succeeded Krishna in 1530, and Sadasiva succeeded Achyuta in 1542. The latter was virtually a prisoner in the hands of Rama Raya, the eldest of three brothers, at first nominally his minister, but afterwards independent. The names of the other brothers were Tirumala and Venkatadri. These three men held the government of the kingdom till 1565, when the empire was utterly overthrown by a confederation of the five Muhammadan kings of the Dakhan, already mentioned, at the battle of Talikota ~~ so-called ~~ and the magnificent capital was almost wiped out of existence.
With these few facts to guide us, we turn to the chronicles of Nuniz and Firishtah, trying in vain to obtain some points of contact between them as to the origin of the second dynasty ~~ some clue which will enable us to reconcile differences and arrive at the real truth. If we are to be guided purely by probabilities, it would seem that the history given by Nuniz is likely to be the more accurate of the two. His chronicle was written about the year 1535, during the reign of Achyuta; he lived at the Hindu capital itself, and he gained his information from Hindu sources not long subsequent to the events related. Firishtah did not write till about A.D. 1607, was not in any sense a contemporary recorder, and did not live amongst the Hindus, but at the court of Nizam Shah at Ahmadnagar. The lengths of reigns, however, as given by Nuniz do not tally with the dates which we obtain from sources undoubtedly reliable.
Nuniz has it that Virupaksha's son "Padearao," the last of the old line, fled from the capital when the usurper Narasimha seized the throne; that the latter reigned forty-four years, and died leaving two sons. These youths being too young to govern, the dying king intrusted the kingdom to his minister, Narasa Naik, and both the princes were murdered. Narasa seized the throne, and held it till his death. The length of his reign is not given. His son, "Busbalrao" (? Basava Raya), succeeded, and reigned six years, being succeeded by his brother, the great Krishna Deva Raya. Now we know that Krishna Deva Raya began to reign in A.D. 1509. This gives 1503 for the date of the accession of his predecessor, "Busbal." If we allow five years for the reign of Narasa ~~ a pure guess ~~ we have his accession in 1498 A.D., and the forty-four years of Narasimha would begin in A.D. 1454; but this would apparently coincide with the reign of Mallikarjuna, son of Deva Raya II. It is perhaps possible that in after years the usurper Narasimha's reign was measured by the Hindus from the time when he began to attain power as minister or as a great noble, and not from the date when he actually became king; but this is pure conjecture.
Firishtah mentions a certain "Sewaroy" as being raya of Vijayanagar in 1482, shortly before the death of Muhammad Shah Bahmani. Speaking of the new sovereign of Bijapur, the first of the Adil Shahs, in 1489, the historian tells us that the Adil's rival, Kasim Barid, asked the then minister of Vijayanagar for aid against the rising power of his enemy; and that "the Roy being a child, his minister, Heemraaje, sent an army" and seized the country as far as Mudkal and Raichur. This occurred in A.H. 895, which embraces the period from November 1489 to November 1490. "HEEMraaje," therefore, is probably for SIMHA or Narasimha Raja, or perhaps for Narasa, otherwise called Vira Narasimha.
Firishtah also gives another account of the same event. According to this, the Adil Shah, hearing of dissensions in the Hindu capital, marched, apparently in 1493, against Raichur, when Heemraaje, having settled these dissensions, advanced "with the young Raya" to that city. A battle ensued, in which Heemraaje was defeated; and the young king being mortally wounded, and dying before he reached home, Heemraaje seized the government and the country.
There are, furthermore, two other passages in Firishtah dealing with the overthrow of the old dynasty and the accession of "Heemraaje." One runs as follows: ~~
"Heemraaje was the first usurper. He had poisoned the young Raja of Beejanuggur, son of Sheoroy, and made his infant brother a tool to his designs, by degrees overthrowing the ancient nobility, and at length establishing his own absolute authority over the kingdom."
The other states: ~~
"The government of Beejanuggur had remained in one family, in uninterrupted succession, for seven hundred years, when Seoroy dying, was succeeded by his son, a minor, who did not live long after him, and left the throne to a younger brother. He also had not long gathered the flowers of enjoyment from the garden of royalty before the cruel skies, proving their inconstancy, burned-up the earth of his existence with the blasting wind of annihilation. Being succeeded by an infant only three months old, Heemraaje, one of the principal ministers of the family, celebrated for great wisdom and experience, became sole regent, and was cheerfully obeyed by all the nobility and vassals of the kingdom for forty years; though, on the arrival of the young king at manhood, he had poisoned him, and put an infant of the family on the throne, in order to have a pretence for keeping the regency in his own hands. Heemraaje at his death was succeeded in office by his son, Ramraaje, who having married a daughter of the son of Seoroy, by that alliance greatly added to his influence and power."
He then proceeds to describe an event that took place in 1535 or thereabouts, which will be considered in its place.
Writing of the events of the year 1530, we find Firishtah stating that the affairs of Vijayanagar were then in confusion owing to the death of Heemraaje, who was newly succeeded by his son Ramraaje. And this passage helps us definitely to the conclusion that his Heemraaje, or Timma Raja, was the Muhammadan name for the ruler of the state during the reigns of Narasimha, Narasa or Vira Narasimha, and Krishna Deva Raya, the latter of whom died in 1530. Firishtah seems to have confused Narasa's and Krishna Deva Raya's powerful minister, Saluva Timma, with Narasimha and Narasa, and made all three one person. "Ramraaje" is mentioned as king by Firishtah from the accession of Achyuta in 1530 down to the year 1565.
Though names and details differ, it will be observed that there is evidently a common basis of truth in the accounts given by Firishtah and Nuniz. Both relate the deaths of two young princes, brothers, the subsequent murder of two other heirs to the kingdom, and the usurpation of the throne by a minister.
With these remarks we turn to the more reliable portion of Firishtah's narrative.
Yusuf Adil Khan proclaimed himself independent king of Bijapur in A.D. 1489. Shortly afterwards his rival, Kasim Barid, who ultimately became sovereign of the territories of Ahmadabad, in a fit of jealousy called in the aid of Vijayanagar against Bijapur, promising for reward the cession of Mudkal and Raichur, or the country between the two rivers. Narasimha collected the forces of the Hindus, crossed the Tungabhadra with a large army, and after laying waste the country seized the two cities Mudkal and Raichur, which thus once more passed into the possession of Vijayanagar.
Shortly after this, probably about the year 1493 A.D., Sultan Yusuf Adil again marched to recover the lost territory and advanced to the Krishna, but falling ill he halted for two months; and Firishtah gives us the following account of what occurred. This has been already alluded to, but is now given in full: ~~
"In this interval Heemraaje, having settled his dissensions, advanced with the young roy at the head of a great army to Roijore, which struck terror into the army of Adil Shaw, for whose recovery earnest prayers were offered up by his subjects." … (The prayers were answered and the Sultan recovered.)
"Intelligence arriving that Heemraaje had crossed the Tummedra and was advancing by hasty marches, Eusuff Adil Shaw ordered a general review of his army … (and advanced, entrenching his camp a short distance from the Hindus). Several days passed inactively, till on Saturday in Regib 898 both armies drew out, and in the beginning of the action near five hundred of Adil Shaw's troops being slain, the rest were disordered and fell back, but were rallied again by the sultan. One of the officers, who had been taken prisoner and made his escape, observed that the enemy were busily employed in plunder, and might be attacked with advantage. The sultan relished this advice and proceeded; when Heemraaje, not having time to collect his whole army, drew out with seven thousand horse and a considerable number of foot, also three hundred elephants. Adil Shaw charged his center with such fury, that Heemraaje was unable to stand the shock. Victory waved the royal standard, and the infidels fled, leaving two hundred elephants, a thousand horses, and sixty lacs of OONS, with many jewels and effects, to the conquerors. Heemraaje and the young roy fled to Beejanuggur, but the latter died on the road of a wound he had received by an arrow in the action. Heemraaje seized the government of the country; but some of the principal nobility opposing his usurpation, dissensions broke out, which gave Adil Shaw relief from war for some time from that quarter."
The disputed territory between the two rivers once more passed into the hands of the Muhammadans. Goa also remained in the Bijapur Sultan's possession.
The last historical event in the reign of Yusuf Adil Shah of Bijapur, as narrated by Firishtah, is as follows: ~~
"In the year 915, the Christians surprised the town of Goa, and put to death the governor with many mussulmauns. Upon intelligence of which, Adil Shaw, with three thousand chosen men, Dekkanees and foreigners, marched with such expedition, that he came upon the Europeans unawares, retook the fort, and put many to death; but some made their escape in their ships out to sea."
These Christians were the Portuguese under Albuquerque, and the date of their entry into Goa was March 1, A.D. 1510.
At this period there was a complete change in the PERSONNEL of the chief actors on our Indian stage. Ahmad Nizam Shah, who had declared himself independent at Ahmadnagar in A.D. 1490, died in 1508, and was succeeded by his son, a boy of seven years of age named Burhan, with whom the traveller Garcia da Orta afterwards became very friendly. Da Orta calls him "my friend." Yusuf Adil Shah died in A.D. 1510, and his successor on the throne of Bijapur was his son Ismail. Krishna Deva Raya became Raya of Vijayanagar in 1509. The two last-mentioned monarchs were frequently in contact with one another, and in the end, according to our chronicles, the Hindu king was completely victorious. Even Firishtah admits that he dealt Ismail a crushing blow at the great battle of Raichur, a full description of which is given by Nuniz.
But before dealing with the history of the reign of Krishna Deva Raya it is necessary that we should learn how it came about that these Portuguese Christians who seized Goa came to be living in India, and some of them even resident at the Hindu capital.
The Portuguese Arrive in India.
King John of Portugal had acquired some knowledge of India in A.D. 1484, and after causing inquiries to be made as to the possibility of discovering the rich and interesting country in the Far East, had begun to fit out three ships, but he died before they were ready. His successor, Dom Manuel, took up the matter warmly, and sent these ships out under Vasco da Gama and his brother Paulo, with orders to try and double the Cape of Good Hope. The full account of the extraordinary voyage made by them is given in the "Three Voyages of Vasco da Gama," translated and published in the Hakluyt edition; being a translation of certain portions of Correa's LENDAS DA INDIA. Da Gama sailed on July 8, A.D. 1497, and arrived close to Calicut on August 26, 1498. The Samuri, or king, of Calicut was at first friendly, but there were misunderstandings on the part of the Portuguese, and they made little or no progress either in trade or in establishing amicable relations with the Hindus. Da Gama returned shortly after to Portugal. Early in 1500 A.D. Cabral took out another and larger fleet, and arrived at Calicut on September 13th. He at once quarrelled with the Samuri, and instead of peaceful commerce we read of attacks and counter-attacks conducted in such sort by the Portuguese as irretrievably to alienate the natives of the country. A few Europeans, however, settled in that tract, and amongst them Duarte Barbosa, the celebrated chronicler of the time.
Da Gama returned to India in 1504, proclaiming the king of Portugal lord of the seas, and wantonly destroying with all hands a large vessel having several hundred people on board near the Indian coast. He reached Calicut on October 29th, and immediately bombarded the city, seizing the inoffensive native fishermen in the port, eight hundred of whom he massacred in cold blood under circumstances of brutal atrocity. In 1503 he again left for Europe, after establishing a factory at Cochin. In consequence of his violence a war ensued between Cochin and Calicut. In 1504 Lopo Soares came out with a fleet of fourteen caravels, and proclaimed a blockade of the port of Cochin, in spite of the fact that the Rajah of that place had always shown great kindness and hospitality to the Portuguese.
The next year, 1505, Almeida was appointed viceroy of the king of Portugal on the Indian coast, and took out with him a large fleet and 1500 soldiers. After some preliminary fighting at Honawar, Almeida began for the first time to perceive that the true interests of the Portuguese lay in peaceful commerce, and not in sanguinary and costly attacks on the natives; and he also learned from an influential native of the existence of the great kingdom of Vijayanagar and the power of its king, Narasimha (or Narasa). At Cannanore the viceroy's son, Lourenco, in 1506, received further information as to the state of the country from the Italian traveller Varthema, and in consequence of this Almeida asked King Narasa to allow him to erect a fortress at Bhatkal, but no answer was returned.
Varthema has left behind him a valuable account of his experiences at this period. He speaks of Goa as being then under the "Savain," which is this writer's form of expressing the ruler known to the Portuguese as the "Sabayo," who was the governor of the place under the Adil Shah of Bijapur. The Sabayo was then at war with Narasimha of Vijayanagar.
He describes Vijayanagar as a great city, "very large and strongly walled. It is situated on the side of a mountain, and is seven miles in circumference. It has a triple circlet of walls." It was very wealthy and well supplied, situated on a beautiful site, and enjoying an excellent climate. The king "keeps up constantly 40,000 horsemen" and 400 elephants. The elephants each carry six men, and have long swords fastened to their trunks in battle ~~ a description which agrees with that of Nikitin and Paes. "The common people go quite naked, with the exception of a piece of cloth about their middle. The king wears a cap of gold brocade two spans long…. His horse is worth more than some of our cities on account of the ornaments which it wears." Calicut, he says, was ruined in consequence of its wars with the Portuguese.
Varthema saw forty-eight Portuguese traders massacred at Calicut by the "Moors," and in consequence of the dangerous state of things existing there he left the city and pursued his journey southwards round the coast. Here we may leave him.
In March 1505 a Portuguese fleet destroyed, with immense loss of life, a large flotilla of small boats belonging to the Rajah of Calicut. In the next year an outrage committed by the Portuguese led to a siege of their factory at Cannanore, but the timely arrival of Tristan da Cunha with a new fleet from home relieved the beleaguered garrison. At the end of 1507 Almeida and Da Cunha joined forces and again attacked Calicut, with some measure of success.
Afonso d'Albuquerque was now in the Persian seas fighting with all the "Moors" he could meet. At the end of 1509 he became "Governor of India," I.E. of Portuguese India, in succession to Almeida; Diogo Lopes de Sequeira receiving the governorship under the king of Portugal of the seas east of Cape Comorin.
From the accession of Krishna Deva Raya to the throne of Vijayanagar in A.D. 1509 we once more enter a period when the history of the country becomes less confused, and we are able to trace the sequence of events without serious difficulty. This was the period of Vijayanagar's greatest successes, when its armies were everywhere victorious, and the city was most prosperous.