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Thread: Tales of Victory: The Rajah and the Sacred Cow

  1. #1
    Disciple of Peperna CatKnight's Avatar
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    Tales of Victory: The Rajah and the Sacred Cow


    Introduction



    Her name was Peperna.



    To all appearances Peperna was a normal enough cow, indistinct from ten thousand others that roamed the farms and fields around Vijayanagara, with only a bejeweled band on her forehead to suggest any special status. For the most part this common appearance proved accurate: She gave milk and could moo if she chose. A lucky arrow or spear could pierce her body as easily as any other.

    No, the rub came from the fact that Peperna was nearly one thousand years old.

    Her earliest memories were from the final days of the Roman Empire and the barbarian kingdoms that followed. In time she migrated east witnessing horrors and beauties in equal abundance. In time she crossed the Indus River into lands untouched by western sword or thought, then south to ancient Chola and Hoysala where she once more witnessed humanity's triumphs and disasters.

    She loved the Hindu people and their faith, precisely because it defied easy explanation. Future generations would describe Hinduism as a way of life rather than a faith, for there was no one book to point to as the font of all spiritual wisdom, nor any single list of accepted deities. It was a lifestyle built upon meditation, prayer, and moral virtues most civilizations could agree upon such as loyalty and an appreciation for the arts. That single unifying thread, more tenuous yet less dogmatic than western religions, defined medieval India and the cultures that evolved there.

    Their advanced ideas on how cows should be treated didn't hurt either.

    Hinduism also encouraged tolerance for other ideas, something ancient Christianity had yet to master. Peperna had no particular issue with Christians, but she found the belief of there being only one way to connect to the Divine dangerous. And frightening.

    So she dwelt with her new friends, happy to let them think she was nothing more than she appeared and moving from place to place to avoid suspicion, until the Delhi Sultanate invaded.

    Peperna didn't dislike Islam any more than Christianity, and if they wanted to devote themselves to 'Allah' that was certainly up to them. Their demand that all Indians, north and south, should worship Him as well worried her. Their willingness to fight, ravage and destroy their way down the subcontinent to make it so grieved her. As the fourteenth century aged Hinduism itself seemed on the verge of being relegated to the status of heretical cult.

    In 1336 she came across two brothers, Harihara and Bukka. They were treasury officers for the court of Warangal before being captured and forcibly converted. Now they led a Muslim army against Kampili intending to rule as the Sultan's deputies. She convinced them of their error with the help of the holy priest Vidyarana. Harihara and Buka renounced Islam, and over the next forty years unified much of the southern continent by promising protection from the sultans of the Deccan plateau in exchange for homage.

    Harihara I (1336-1356) ruled from Vidya Nagara - the City of Learning, but his brother Bukka (1356-1377) moved the capital to the fledgling city of Vijayanagara (City of Victory) as being more defensible, yet close enough to act as a base in future hostilities against Deccan. His son, Harihara II (1377-), succeeded him. Under his wise rule (with Vidyarana's and Peperna's guidance), literature and the arts continued to flourish.
    ******

    And so, on a beautiful day in what the Christians would call the autumn of 1399, Peperna found her rajah in the palace gardens. Most would consider the air stifling and humid, with distant clouds over the western Ghats promising torrential downpours in neighboring Mysore and Travancore. After several lifetimes in India, humidity didn't much bother the cow any longer.

    Rajah Harihara II was aging, as all humans do, yet in tolerable shape for his age. He dressed in white, with a Muslim turban rather than an Indian pugree, perhaps as a concession to the growing power of northern merchant houses. Using an ink brush purchased from Chinese traders in Goa, he slowly wrote along a palm leaf cut into a rectangle.

    "Kaavya Vijaya?" she read carefully. "Poems of Victory? What is this, brother?"

    "It is the story of our people," Harihara said proudly without turning. He closed his bottle of ink and wiped his brush on another leaf. "Palm keeps longer than paper. I would hope people will read about us long after you and I are gone."

    "So they shall," Peperna agreed quietly.

    "But enough of me. What brings you here?" He turned and beamed at the bovine.

    "I have come to offer counsel Fear not, for your poems will be read and revered for a thousand years while Harihara Raya and his scions will be remembered as the men and women who saved India. This is my promise to you."


    Vijayanagara and neighbors, 1399
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  2. #2
    Disciple of Peperna CatKnight's Avatar
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    NOTES:
    And so here we are again, my friends.

    Following Tannenberg's ending I spent some time looking for a nation to play as well as a mod that would fit me. I finally selected Vijayanagar, as I played them in the only game I ever completed in EU2 (due to impatience, not a lack of interest.)

    Unfortunately, I found Vijay. incredibly easy in the mods I might have liked to try out. In the latest Beta it took me five game years to completely thrash my opposition and emerge as India's sole power of any import. Note that I don't consider myself a strong player: The WW Mod routinely handed me my butt in Tannenberg.

    I finally chose Magna Mundi Ultimate both for the challenge and the immersion. It helps that MMU currently uses the February beta, the last one before I had stability problems in Tannenberg.

    For those who don't know me well, Peperna (actually St. Peperna the Thrice-Milked) began as a piece of descriptive text in Mettermrck's "Eagles of Avalon" (linked in the last post). I was somewhat zealous in trying to get him to give her a more prominent role, and she's stuck with me ever since. I was recently asked her significance and I thought it time to explore what happened to her after the collapsing Roman Imperium.

    Goals
    As I tend to roleplay my leaders (and am not at all confident in my ability to master MM), I have none in particular. Peperna, however, would prefer:
    * Maintaining Hinduism as a dominant regional faith.

    Though generally a peaceful soul, she recognizes that might require:
    * Pushing back the Muslim 'invasion,' including trying to dominate India.
    * Preventing or at least curtailing colonization by Europeans.

    Enjoy!
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    A bear there was, a bear! Kapt Torbjorn's Avatar
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    Sounds interesting, I just finished reading one of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe books where he was in India, and was itching for more. I shall follow the holy cow!
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    Bernard Cornwell is just an amazing writer, his Sharpe books i can't ever put down

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    Very intriguing start. I'm very much subscribed, its a delight to be able to follow one of your great AARs from the start this time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hitmanalex View Post
    Bernard Cornwell is just an amazing writer, his Sharpe books i can't ever put down
    How very true! Easily one of my favourite authors, I've got everyone of his books. His King Arthur series is especially great.
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    Not a Sahib Milites's Avatar
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    It's strange to think that in three days time, I'll be sitting in the very centre of the nation you're just playing. Good luck.

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    Yay! Another CatKnight AAR! I'll be following this. Good luck.
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  8. #8
    Disciple of Peperna CatKnight's Avatar
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    Kapt Torbjorn: Welcome! I only read one of the Sharpe books (though I want to read more). They were very well done. Personally I was sucked into Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin naval series.

    Hitmanalex: Yep, I need to get back to those books.

    morningSIDEr: Welcome aboard! I know very little of medieval India or Hinduism (and apologize in advance to any and all). I look forward to learning a little bit as I go.

    Milites: Ooh! See if you can get to Vijayanagara (Hampi) and post some pics!

    dinofs: Thank you!
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  9. #9
    Disciple of Peperna CatKnight's Avatar
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    Introduction II: Vijayanagar in 1399



    The Vijayanagara Samrajya (Vijayanagara Empire) was founded in 1336. While one of its aims was to defend Hinduism, the government (if not the people) were tolerant of all faiths willing to live in peace. Founded by brothers Harihara and Bukka, in 1399 it was ruled by Bukka's son, Harihara II.



    Harihara II was born in 1353, the second son of Bukka. He spent the early part of his reign consolidating his father's conquests and extending the Vijaynagaran Empire to the southern tip of India. He fought campaigns in Kondavidu and Goa against local tribes and cities while improving relations with the other two remaining southern kingdoms (Mysore and Travancore) simply by not further pursuing what some call the Empire's "Destiny" to control the south.

    At home, once he'd dealt with the usual challenges facing a new ruler (such as purging the disloyal), Harihara followed a mostly hands off policy. Mahapradhana (Prime Minister) Vijaya Jeoomal of Madras handled most of the realm's day to day affairs while shifting the Empire's coinage (Off site) more towards gold imported from the mines of nearby Golconda.

    Harihara preferred contemplation and the arts, avocations fully supported by the priest Vidayrana and his bovine counterpart. He was patron for Madhura, a poet from the Jaina minority, while Sayana completed an important work on the Vedas.

    His son, Virupaksha, had a reputation for being a bully and troublemaker with an unusual gift for insulting the Pradhana (Council) and other nobles. At 22 he was still a young man, with time to grow as a man and a king, but many dreaded the day Harihara II's atman (soul) took on a new body.



    Vijayanagara was, for all intents and purposes, a feudal monarchy. The Rajah of course claimed complete control, but given the subtropical climate and terrain as well as the vagaries of medieval transportation and trying to integrate a number of local cultures and traditions, it was far easier to let the locals solve their own problems.

    Along with the Rajah and Pradhana, the Imperial court was served by a Karyakartha (Chief Secretary) and various Adhikari (Imperial officers.) At lower levels, feudal landlords (Goudas) supervised accountants and guards. In all the Imperial administration grew to 72 Nigoya (departments).

    The Empire was divided into a number of provinces (historically five) under a Dadanayaka (commander) and governor appointed by the rajah. Each province was divided further into regions, counties and municipalities under local hereditary control.

    Several merchant families, or houses, operated under Vijayanagara's direction and guidance. In 1399 they focused on local affairs, with the export of ebony and teak wood as well as black pepper to lands as far away as the Persian Gulf, Indonesia and Korea especially profitable. Europeans picked up these and other spices from the Middle East and would soon try to find their way to India directly. In turn, Chinese traders often appeared in Madras while Muslims preferred Goa.



    In 1399, Vijayanagara consisted of approximately 1,582,000 souls, mostly concentrated in the south. Though the founding Imperial dynasty, as well as followers and those sycophants willing to sacrifice tradition to endear themselves to royalty were Kannadans, that culture could mainly be found in Mysore to the west. Instead, Vijayanagaran culture was primarily Tamil with a large Telugu presence.
    (Tamil: 69%, Telugu: 20%, Kannada: 10%, Other: 1%)


    (We'll discuss the military parts of this screenshot below.)

    Naturally the primary religion in southern India was Hindu in its various forms. In the past, Harihara I and Bukka supported Shiva. However, the Imperial royal insignia depicted Varaha, a boar incarnation of Vishnu, who allegedly rescued the world after a thousand year battle against a demon.


    Varaha (Image from alternatehistory.com)

    Given the tenets of Islam as well as general religious tolerance, it is not surprising that Sunni made important inroads into Vijayanagara sparing only the interior. Cosmopolitan Goa also enjoyed Jaina and Oriental Christian minorities.
    (Hindu: 91%, Sunni: 9%, Other: <1%)

    While so far we've painted a fairly rosy picture of Vijayanagar, through modern eyes we can see quite a few problems as well. The Empire's, and indeed India's, most glaring weakness could be a lack of social mobility that greatly inhibited innovation and development. India employed a caste system not dissimilar to the medieval European social system, but far more rigid and draconian. The Bhagavad Gita describes four classical castes based on karma and level of enlightenment. They are:

    * Brahmins: Teachers, scholars, priests
    * Kshatriyas: Kings, warriors
    * Vaishyas: Farmers, traders
    * Shudras: Artisans, service providers

    There is also a fifth caste:
    * Harijan: "Untouchables" - unhealthy or unpleasant tasks, doomed to poverty and discrimination

    It was (and is) far more complex than that and often based on the relative strength of one's family and clan, but it was almost impossible to leave your caste, which controlled what you could do as well as who you could associate with.

    This was further magnified by general aversion to change - indeed, part of the Empire's raison d'etre was to preserve the religious status quo. A traveller from the ancient Vedic kingdoms would have little trouble taking up their old job in the Imperial era where technology rarely changed from generation to generation. Growing contact with the Muslim world as well as China promised change in the future, but resistance would be fierce.



    The Vijayanagaran army declined in the last few years as Harihara II's campaigns to consolidate Konavidu and Goa came to an end, though it looked probable that a slow buildup would begin again. Harihara, as well as his predecessors, trusted day to day operations to his commanders though he'd emerged as a capable tactician in his own right.

    The Indian foot soldier was more lightly armored than his European counterpart with quilted armor or none at all. They were highly trained compared to westerners however, as a result of their social caste, and adept with sword, a large body shield, a rather weak bamboo bow, and spears averaging 7 to 8 feet (2-3 meters) in length.

    The war elephant could be an army's greatest friend or foe. Slower than a horse, yet far more sturdy and powerful, a well controlled elephant could obliterate an enemy army. Southern Indian nations like Vijayanagar attached poignards to their tusks to increase their lethality, while riders fired bows or shot javelins from box 'saddles' on their backs.

    The problems with an elephant are speed (sacrificing army mobility) and training. Elephants cannot be brought to the same level of discipline as a horse. Further, their thick hide has obvious advantages, but makes it far more likely an elephant is either going to go panic or berserk from pain before falling. When this happens they are uncontrollable and will rampage through anyone or anything it considers a threat - including friends and allies. More than one medieval Indian army was destroyed by their own elephants.

    Thanks to past mercantile endeavors, the Empire had the strongest navy in the world outside of Europe or China. Captains answered to a Navigadaprabhu (Commander of the Navy). Imperial ships were larger, bulkier and less seaworthy than their European counterparts, following the Chinese style and greatly preferring coastal waters.
    Last edited by CatKnight; 06-06-2010 at 05:15.
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  10. #10
    Hypothetical Hegemon JDMS's Avatar
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    Interesting concept. I'll follow.
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    General morningSIDEr's Avatar
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    Great stuff. My own knowledge of medieval India and Hinduism is near non-existant, so I am loving the obviously well researched bits of information.
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  12. #12
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    I will follow as well. Looking good as starting point. MMU makes expanding a real pain so it will go slow.


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  13. #13
    Disciple of Peperna CatKnight's Avatar
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    JDMS: Welcome aboard!

    morningSIDEr: Glad you're enjoying it. Wikipedia is my friend. Granted, I wouldn't trust it for a formal paper, but so far it seems to be answering.

    Qorten: One of the advantages of being away from Europe is that MM doesn't have as many controls to keep me from trying to make something of Vijayanagar. For example, while I'm sure it's possible, I imagine survival (let alone expansion) as the Teutons in MM is a real pain.

    My problem so far is the enemy AI knows what I'm up to (or is planning the same thing), so we have a bit of an arms race going.
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  14. #14
    Disciple of Peperna CatKnight's Avatar
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    Chapter I: Harihara II
    Part 1: Heart and Soul (1399-1401)



    "Here, then, is my counsel," Peperna said. "Our people know you value their accomplishments. Poetry and philosophy have flourished under your gentle hand. Now they must know you will defend them. People say the Sultan of Raichur is cruel and arbitrary, that he mistreats his people ... but they are our people as well. Your family comes from there."

    "It is strange to hear you counsel war,"
    Harihara replied sadly.

    "These are strange times, brother."
    *******


    Aggressive Stances



    Strange times, or perhaps a mere correction to the norm. Harihara II was an introspective, spiritual man with quiet, understated ideas on foreign policy. He hadn't led his people to war in a decade. Some valued his humility and apparent willingness to sacrifice material gain to come closer to enlightenment, while others saw this as weakness.

    Harihara wasn't weak, just somewhat jaded. He considered his more bellicose youth misspent and saw no reason to provoke his neighbors. His people were, in general, content and prosperous. So long as the Muslims respected that he greatly preferred peace.

    Peperna's counsel weighed on him, however, so starting in the late autumn of 1399 he ordered the Imperial army built to levels not seen in a decade. Harihara envisioned an army of twenty thousand - far below the hundred thousand or more Vijayanagara could call on in a life-or-death emergency, but still a burden on local economies.

    This did not impress the Sultan of Raichur, nor his Bahamanid allies through the Deccan plateau. They, too, began an aggressive buildup passing sixteen thousand by the end of 1401. Further, they forged military alliances with sultanates in Bengal as well as the great monster of northern India, Delhi.

    Nor did it do much for Harihara had home. Taking young men from the warrior caste away from their duties hampered local governments run by hereditary rulers. As tensions ratched up throughout the subcontinent a growing, vocal minority wondered why their peaceful sovereign suddenly chose to provoke a war that no one might be able to stop. (Slider: Offense +1 - Social Outrage: Stability -1 to 0)

    The only ones impressed by Vijayanagara's sudden willingness to fight were her Hindu neighbors who looked to the fledgling empire for leadership as well as military strength. Envoys traveled to Orissa, Travancore and Mysore and returned with promises to help against potential assault from the sultanates. The Rajah of Gondwana, while unwilling to expose himself to open warfare, offered one of his daughters to Mallikarjura (a nephew and second-in-line to the throne) when the latter completed his Brahmacharya Ashram (religious training). (RM)

    The Universal Language

    The people may have worried over Harihara's buildup, but as a whole they honored and trusted him. In all other aspects he remained as he had for the past decade: Introspective, quiet, and gentle with a serenity and calm that put visitors at ease. (Stability climbs back to +2)

    Part of his peoples' trust came from Vijayanagara's continued prosperity. Prime Minister Jeoomal curtailed the worst of the economic damage from rebuilding the Imperial army, and Harihara II answered regional complaints that his army 'stole' their administrators by sending his own people to help maintain order. (Bureaucrat faction in Kondavidu: +0.5% pop growth) Traders flooded by the markets in Malacca and Ming China. (Guandong province) Indonesian spices and Chinese wares filled warehouses in Madras and Goa, who sold them to their Hindu and Muslim neighbors.

    Increased trade and extroversion meant increased attention from Vijayanagara's neighbors. When Harihara II (or the Deccan Sultanates) didn't throw India headlong into a major war, Muslim trading houses asked to settle in Tiruchchirapulli.



    The rajah saw no reason to refuse their request. The Empire might be predominately Hindu (in various aspects,) but like his predecessors Harihara felt a man's faith was best left between him and his god(s). So long as the merchants planned to trade and not agitate for their 'Allah,' they were welcome to live in peace.



    They didn't have to prosletyze. The Gujarat merchants who migrated to southern India were by and large rich men with enough capital to undertake such a risky venture. They dressed well, ate well, and introduced goods and luxuries few had ever seen. For those whose karma (and caste) dictated a more humble life, their prosperity and consumption proved very attractive indeed. Allah thus accomplished with an open hand what His closed fist so far failed to do. (In MM, 'minority' religions are shown as provincial modifiers. This event is supposed to remove the 'Oppressed Sunni community', and though it doesn't say so, I assume replace it with the next step up. So far nothing's happened. It's possible this event works in stages like other MM events.)

    Muslim merchants might not have agreed with their Hindu brethren on how to worship the divine, and their relations with Harihara II cooled considerably once he learned what was happening in Tiruchchirapulli, but all agreed that the pirates in Madurai presented an ongoing threat. The Sultanate of Madurai, on the southern tip of India, had been Harihara's last full-fledged conquest, and as always old loyalties died hard. Attracted by growing trade and wealth, and pointing to the fallen sultanate as their casus bellorum, a small fleet of ships intercepted cogs and merchantmen between Madurai, Ceylon and the Maldives.

    After two years of building his army, Harihara II tentatively set March or April of 1402 as a possible time to attack. This would give his men time to march into position in dry (albeit hot) weather, then settle in to siege as temperatures leveled off and the monsoon season began. He did so with a heavy heart, but saw this as the only way to deal with the Sultan of Raichur. The Imperial army would be nearly at full strength. The same could be said of the Deccan sultanates, of course, but it wasn't likely they'd be so foolish as to make a mistake and attack someone else so no point in waiting.

    He wouldn't have to fight. In the middle of the night on October 3, 1401 his atman (soul) decided it was time to move on. It would be up to his son, Virupaksha, to decide how to handle Raichur.



    Peperna happened to be in town. Only a few months before her friend, the sainted priest Vidayarana, had moved on to become one with the greater mystery. Now she would have to counsel alone ... and she did not trust the new rajah.

    In the space of a few months, Vijayanagara had lost both her heart and soul.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vijayanagara Empire, October 1401
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  15. #15
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    Things seem to be going bad if the advisor doesn't trust the ruler. . .
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    Interesting developments. Hopefully Virupaksha will prove a good leader despite Peperna's misgivings.
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    Has this effected the timetable for war at all?
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  18. #18
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    The cow as the Spirit of the Nation is quite something else, and I've never read a Vijay AAR to the end.

    The MM religious events are also a new thing to me, it seems like they've added on quite a lot.
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  19. #19
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    The bovine mission director appears to have an issue with the new rajah. He'll probably be sacking Raichur Doab's cities in a fortnight.
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  20. #20
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    Holy Cow! I'm sure Mett would be astounded to find an AAR based on the cow of one of his characters from a story many years old...

    I'm not too familiar with the history of the Indian subcontinent, so this should be interesting, with or without the cow*.

    I look forward to seeing A) some of the history of this region, B) how your story unfolds and C) if you can more successfully thrive than with your rollercoaster ride with the Teutons.

    *Speaking of cows, will we see another appearance by the mechanized battle cows that featured so memorably in Resurrection? And/or will a future AAR focus completely on Arboricide?

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