Early History of Orissa – Mahameghavahana Kharavela

In the early past of the 1 st century B.C. Kalinga became independent under the Chedi Chief Mahameghavana. The third ruler of this dynasty was Kahravela who flourished during the second half of the 1 st century B.C. The Hatigumpha inscription in Udayagiri near Bhubaneswar furnishes detailed accounts about the life and activities of Kharavela from his boyhood to his 13 th regnal year. It is known from this record that Kharavela on the premature death of his father took up the administration first as a Yuvaraja and then on completion of 24 years of age ascended to the throne as Maharaja. In the first year of his coronation he repaired the gates and rampants of his capital Kalinganagari which had been damaged by cyclone. In the second year he invaded the territory of the Satavahana king Satakarni I and marching up to the river Krishna stormed the city of Asika. In the 3 rd year of his reign he organized various performances of dance and music and delighted the people of Kalinganagari. In the fourth year he again invaded the Satavahana kingdom and extended his political supremacy over the region. In the fifth year he is known to have renovated the aqueduct that was originally excavated three hundred years back by Mahapadmananda. In the sixth year he remitted taxes and gave benevolences both in urban and rural areas of his kingdom. The account of his seventh year is not known. But that year his chief queen-“The Queen of the Diamond Palace” gave birth to a son. In his eighth regnal year he led a military expedition against Rajagriha. By that time the Indo-Greeks who were in possession of Mathura were advacing towards Pataliputra but getting the news of the triumph of Kharavela at Rajagriha the Yavana king had to retreat to Mathura. Kharavela pursued the Indo-Greeks and purged them out of Mathura which was an important seat of Jain religion and culture. In commemoration of this achievement he built a victory palace in Kalinga at a cost of thirty-eight hundred thousand penas during the ninth year of his reign. In the tenth regnal year he again invaded northern India the account of which is not clearly known. In the eleventh year of his reign Kharavela defeated the Tamil confederacy which was in existence thirteen hundred years before his time. In the twelfth year he invaded northern India for the third time and advanced as far as Uttarapatha, “north-western part of India”. On his return he terrorized Maghadha. Brihaspati Mitra, the king of Magadha surrendered and Kharavela brought from Magadha the image of Kalinga Jina as trophy of his victory alongwith rich treasures. Kalinga Jina had been taken away from Kalinga by Mahapadmananda three hundred years back and its restoration was considered to be a great achievement of Kharavela. In his thirteenth regnal year Kharavela excavated a number of cave-dwellings in the Kumari hills for the Jain monks and bestowed endowments for them. Jainism greatly flourished in Kalinga under the sincere patronage of Kharavala. He was also extending liberal patronage towards other religious communities and earned great reputation as the worshipper of all religious orders and the repairers of all religious shrines.

The Hatigumpha inscription records the activities of Kharavela up to his thirteenth regnal year after which nothing is known about him. He was probably succeeded by his son Kudepasiri. The Mahameghavahana dynasty continued to rule over Kalinga and Mahishaka up to the 1 st century A.D. as known from some recently discovered inscriptions of Guntupalli and Velpuru in Andhra Pradesh. The Velpuru inscription reveals the rule of one Airamaharaja Haritiputra Manasada who belonged to Mahameghavahana dynasty.

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