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The Rashtrakutas
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Click here to go to the main page of History of Karnataka.

The Rashtrakutas rose to political prominence in the Deccan after collapse of the Chalukya power at Badami in the 8th century. They were destined to become a truly formidable political force in South India, and in fact, waves of their imperial expansion went beyond the Vindhyas into North India, where they had occasions to pose as masters. Their dazzling political achievements, however, were adequately matched by some of their impressive contributions to Karnataka culture.

The Origin of the Rashtrakutas:
The origin of the Rashtrakutas has been subject of much controversy, providing ample scope for legends and speculations. Some of the later records of the family arrogantly recount legendary associations of the family, some tracing its descent in the lineage of Yadu, some starting with Brahma as its progenitor. A few epigraphs claim that their early ancestor was the redoubtable Satyaki of the Yadava clan.

These descriptions were obviously intended to invest the family with epic fame. Again, a few records with to tell us that the Rashtrakuta family originated from a person called Tunga. This is again an attempt to explain the suffix Tunga occurring in the titles of the members of this family like Nripatunga, Shubhatunga or Jagattunga. These legendary associations, therefore, need not be taken seriously.

Dr. J. F. Fleet was inclined to think that the Rashtrakutas were connected with the Rajputs, and that they were the descendants of the Rathors.

Dr. A. C. Burnell and H. Krishna Shastri held the view that the Rashtrakutas were linked with the Dravidian Reddis of Andhra Desha. C. V. Vadiaya, R. G. Bhandarkar and Pathak subscribe to the theory of the Maratha origin of the Rashtrakutas.

Dr. A. S. Altekar in his book, Rashtrakutas and their Times (1934) repudiates these theories as untenable.
According to him the Rashtrakutas descended from the Rastiks or Rathikas whose name is mentioned in the edicts of Ashoka.

However, he does not believe that the Rashtrakutas originally hailed from Maharashtra. The considered opinion of Dr. Altekar is that the original home of the Rashtrakutas was in Karnataka and that their mother tongue was Kannada. They inherited the cultural tradition of Karnataka. They patronized Kannada literature.

The earliest extant classical work on Kannada poetics, Kavirajamarga, is ascribed to Nripatunga Amoghavarsha I. The Rashtrakuta inscriptions are almost all in the Kannada script and language. An epigraph of Krishna III composed in ornate literary style has been found at Jura near Jabbalpur. These evidences substantiate the theory that the Rashtrakutas very much belonged to Karnataka.

The Rashtrakutas called themselves "Lattalura - Puravara -Dhisvara", implying thereby that they hailed from Lattalur or Latur in Osmanabad district of Maharashtra. Dr. P. B. Desai is of opinion that the area formerly formed the part of Karnataka as attested by the surviving vestiges of Kannada place - names, Kannada inscriptions and other cultural relics.

Dr. Altekar, however, believes that Rashtrakutas of Malkhed were a different branch and could not be identified with those of Lattalur. The derivation of the word Lattalur is also interesting.

According to Dr. P. B. Desai, Latta is a Prakrit variation of Ratta. Hence, Rattana - Ur become Lattana - Ur. And finally, Lattalur.

The Deoti plates of Govinda III incidentally refer to the first ancestor of the family, a chief named Ratta, after whom the dynasty took its name.

The Rashtrakuta emblem was Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu. The rulers are often referred to as Vallabha, which is an abbreviation of Sri Prithvi - Vallabha, a title commonly sported by the Chalukyas of Badami.

The Arab writers call them balhara, which is an abridged from of "Ballaharaya" prakritized from Vallabha Raya.

to be continued�..


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