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Lt. General
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Apr 23, 2009
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I recently gave Rajas of India a try and, noticing a perplexing lack of Indian AARs in this forum, I decided to chronicle my game. This will be a rather straightforward history book AAR, much like my recent A History of the Wars of the Achaean League. Enjoy.

Chronicle of the Shura Rajas


Part 1: Rajas

~ I ~ 1066 - 1075
~ II ~ 1075 – 1091
~ III ~ 1091 – 1099
~ IV ~ 1100 – 1108
~ V ~ 1108 – 1115
~ VI ~ 1116 – 1131

Part 2: Maharajas

~ VII ~ 1132 – 1159
~ VIII ~ 1160 – 1171
~ IX ~ 1172 – 1192
~ X ~ 1192 – 1199
~ XI ~ 1200 – 1211
~ XII ~ 1211 – 1229
~ XIII ~ 1229 – 1246
~ XIV ~ 1246 – 1262
~ XV ~ 1263 – 1269
~ XVI ~ 1270 – 1282

Part 3: Samrats

~ XVII ~ 1282 – 1292
~ XVIII ~ 1293 – 1298
~ XIX ~ 1298 – 1300
~ XX ~ 1301 – 1306

~ XXI ~ 1306 – 1325
~ XXII ~ 1326 1332
~ XXIII ~ 1332 – 1345
~ XXIV ~ 1346 – 1372
~ XXV ~ 1372 – 1382

Conclusion: Samrats Chakravartin

~ XXVI ~ 1382 – 1400

A note on the Shura family crest: It keeps randomly changing throughout the game. I don't know how or why, but when you look at the screenshots you will notice it cycling through a small number of variations. Don't be alarmed; I suspect it's only a harmless little bug, with no effect on the rest of the game. Here are the ones I've come across so far:

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Part 1: Rajas

~ I ~ 1066 - 1075

On the day of the Christian calendar 26 December 1066, a reshuffling of feudal titles took place on a distant island in the far west. It was all very inconsequential, and was hardly heard of in the Bay of Bengal, where our story unfolds. Yet that date attains another significance as the, otherwise arbitrary, starting point of this humble chronicle.

Raja Jayasimha Shura was then in his 36th year, without wife or issue; certainly a strange state of affairs for a noble man. Jayashimha was a Mayahana Buddhist, and was fortunate enough to have a maharaja of that same faith, the only one in mainland India at that time. He was one of a handful of rajas in the Kingdom of Pala, with direct rule over one province and a very indirect feudal rule over another.

Craven, shy, and cynical, he would not have given the impression of a person destined for greatness. But he was a Buddhist and, as such, right after looking for a suitable bride he resolved to fight his cowardice and remake himself into a more virtuous ruler.

It was a time of turmoil in the Kingdom of Pala. With little central authority, and the maharaja himself involved in wars with neighbouring kingdoms, the rajas of the realm settled their differences with levy armies, leading thousands to their deaths in search of any advantage they could secure for their ambitious houses. Jayasimha was no exception, since he desired the province of Tamralipti, held by the Thakur Rudrasikhara of Saptagrama, of which he had a good claim to be liege lord. But he dared not press his claims, for among the Palaian rajas he believed himself to be the weakest.

In June of 1067, however, an opportunity for action presented itself. A neighbouring raja declared his own war on Rudrasikhara, giving Jayasimha the opportunity to invade Tamralipti unopposed.

The men were assembled, and a campaign was launched. However, Jayasimha was vexed by the strong walls of the defenders; for his men were few, and could not maintain a proper siege. This brought him great sorrow and would have caused him to abandon the whole design, were it not for the intervention of his kinsman, the Thakur Laksmsurra of Damin-i-koh who, hearing of his predicament, brought his own army into the fight.

The siege was tightened after that, and Jayasimha found himself getting accustomed to the constant perils of war. He had mastered his fear, and no one would call him craven again.

It wasn’t until March of 1069 that Rudrasikhara conceded his defeat and swore fealty to Jayasimha. Although that oath was false, Jayasimha could not know it at that time, so he accepted Rudrasikhara as his vassal and allowed him to rule over Tamralipti in his name.

Raja Jayasimha was then content with his gains for a while, even venturing to help his maharaja, out of his own volition, in a series of battles. He returned home with some glory but little else to show for his troubles, but he found a reward much different from those won in war. His wife became pregnant, and nine months later gave birth to a boy. Danujmadhava, Jayasimha’s heir, was born on 27 March 1072. Jayasimha then knew that he was not only gathering riches and glory for himself, but also for the future of House Shura, whose physical manifestation he saw cradled in his wife’s arms.

Meanwhile, Rudrasikhara was up to mischief. Jayasimha became aware of his thakur’s treasonous actions and ultimately ordered him brought to him in shackles. Rudrasikhara, knowing that his plans were exposed and fearing that he had little hope of being forgiven by his liege lord, chose to raise his flag in rebellion, instead.

Jayasimha was furious at him, and he was also impatient to restore order to his lands. So he attacked Rudrasikhara with his personal levy, not even waiting for the small forces contributed by his vassals to assemble.

Although he had an advantage in numbers, Rudrasikhara was tricky. With only 68 men he moved through the jungle unseen and came around Jayasimha’s forces. The disorder brought upon them by this move was sufficient to bring defeat, and Jayasimha was forced to retreat in shame. But he would not concede defeat in the war. He spent lavishly to hire over a thousand mercenaries, with which he attacked Rudrasikhara again, this time defeating him handily. By early spring 1075, he had taken Rudrasikhara’s strongholds and him captive. The raja revoked his title and took it for his own.

Jayasimha’s demesne was doubled by this action, and he would subsequently be afforded more attention and respect by the other rajas, as a result. A power to be reckoned with would gradually form in the south of the Kingdom of Pala, and Rudrasikhara’s treachery had set the process in potion.
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I am glad you chose India. There are very few AAR's for them.

I am glad you chose India. There are very few AAR's for them.

Welcome! 'Very few AARs' is putting it mildly... I had a look at the list of AARs and I only found one. You can see it here.
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I never saw that one. I only saw three after RoI came out and haven't seen any since. Too bad that one of them abandoned his AAR. He began as a Scottish Viking who settled in India and converted to Messalianism and proclaimed himself Samrat of India.
I think I remember that one, but only barely... Anyway, here's the next chapter.
~ II ~ 1075 – 1091

Raja Jayasimha coveted Munda, a wild and independent thikana to the west of his lands. There was no city or temple of any significance there; only a castle owned by Thakur Sukana, a man who recognized no ruler over his head. By 1077, Jayasimha’s chancellor Ralyapala had managed to manufacture convincing documents that gave him a hereditary claim on the thikana, and the raja eagerly prepared for war. But before the year would be over, a great calamity befell Pala. The old maharaja died, leaving the kingdom divided between his two sons. The eldest continued to rule from the old capital, while the younger became maharaja of the new kingdom of Bihar.

Jayasimha was little troubled by that event at that time. His attention was taken up by Munda, which he invaded in force and subjugated, in the course of little over a year.

When peace was restored, however, he felt indignant that the once mighty kingdom of Pala, protector of Buddhism in India, would be split by mere traditions of gavelkind inheritance. So, he started a faction to pressure Maharaja Mahipala II into adopting a primogeniture system, so that the situation would not be repeated.

The faction held little sway at first, but once the maharaja felt his realm’s weakness painfully after an invasion from Kachari, in the north, Jayasimha pressed the issue and forced his liege lord to accept his point of view.

Content in his newfound power and influence over royalty, Jayasimha turned to the study of books. And indeed he read so much, and divined so much meaning from confusing texts, that he became renowned as a scholar.

But the peace was not meant to last. Confident after his last success, Jayasimha joined a faction formed to pressure the maharaja into lowering crown authority – for it had recently been raised with little care for the raja’s objections. This time, however, the maharaja was obstinate, and his refusal to compromise led to civil war.

Jayasimha and Jatavarman were the two southern rajas opposing Maharaja Mahipala II, and their combined power was formidable. Both in sieges and battles they were successful, either acting independently or in concert.

By 1088 the rebellion was poised to win, and this brought respect and admiration from foreign rulers. The maharaja of Lanka accepted an alliance with Jayasimha, giving his daughter’s hand to Jayasimha’s firstborn son, Danujmadhava.

By August 1089, the war had been won. Crown authority was once again limited and Jayasimha’s prestige was at its highest point yet. Furthermore, he had amassed so much wealth that he fulfilled his ambition to become rich, and so decided to focus his mind on a more humble task – that of rejecting hate.

Sadly, the Great Pox he had contracted during the civil war proved a deadlier foe than men, and so he died in the year 1091, at the age of 61. His elder son succeeded him as raja, while his younger son inherited the Thikana of Munda.

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~ III ~ 1091 – 1099

Raja Danujmadhava assumed his father’s throne in the summer of 1091. In memory of his father, but also as a sign of the dynamism of his new rule, he soon called for a tiger hunt. Danujmadhava reveled in the hunt, participating from the front and even coming face to face with the tiger itself.

With his trusty spear, he slew the wild beast, much to his entourage’s amazement.

The new raja had proven himself brave, but having grown up under his father’s scholarly influence he knew that wisdom was as important as courage in running a realm. So he sent men to seek out a guru, so that he could invite him to his court and benefit from his wisdom. And as it happened, such a guru was found, Nanya Dev. He was a true genius, well skilled in diplomacy but unmatched in learning.

Danujmadhava decided to make use of his talents as a chancellor. Having given up Mundi to his brother, his demesne was reduced compared to that of his father. To rectify that, he desired the neighbouring province of Saptagrama, which was more developed and profitable than Munda, and would provide him with a clear advantage in all his future efforts. So he tasked Nanya Dev with providing him with a legal claim to the thikana.

The next summer, Danujmadhava fell ill. His fever was high, and he started worrying about his karma. It was then that monks from a local monastery approached his palace, asking for donations. Danujmadhava gave lavishly, and his fever withdrew after that. One month later, he was completely well.

To celebrate his recovery, he set about finding a husband for his sister, Malavyadeni. Having married into the royal house of Lanka, he found a prince there who would be a suitable match, and in October the wedding was arranged.

One more year passed, and Danujmadhava’s guru had found him a pretext for war. Both rajas gathered their forces, and prepared for the clash that would determine the ownership of Saptagrama.

The enemy was initially hesitant to meet Danujmadhava’s army on the field of battle, so he was able to fully occupy Saptagrama unopposed. But he knew that he could not win the war without a battle, and the two sides were too close in strength to gamble on a decisive victory. So Danujmadhava dug deep in his treasury and hired mercenaries, with which he gave a numerical edge to his army. Thus, he overcame all opposition and in September 1097 the war was won.

With more power, the raja could expect to also accumulate more enemies. And indeed, there were several rival rajas who considered him a threat. That made it all the more important to appeal t a higher power, and an opportunity presented itself when Maharaja Vallal Sen asked for his sister, Kanchani, as his bride. Danujmadhava dutifully accepted, and thus gained his liege as a stalwart ally.

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~ IV ~ 1100 – 1108

When he was 16 years old, Raja Danujmadhava had married Siriguta, the eldest daughter of Maharaja Vikramabahu of Lanka. In 1103, the old maharaja became incapable, prompting a crisis of government. His first-born son and heir became regent, but this brought bitterness to Siriguta, since she proclaimed that she would make a fitter queen. After bringing her complaints to her husband, Danujmadhava acquiesced to help her in securing her throne, knowing full well that he would be working towards the inheritance of their son.

Levies were raised, ships were outfitted, and the Shura army landed in Lanka in February 1104. After taking a castle at Nagatipa, in the north, and establishing his supply line, Danujmadhava marched south to force battle on his brother in law. The Battle of Mahiyangana was a great victory, which made Siriguta’s claim stronger and brought the war much closer to its end.

But it would not be until May 1106 that Siriguta would be accepted by the entire island as queen. By then, Danujmadhava was heavily in debt, his supply lines stretched to their limits and his position at home precarious. But for that price, his family gained a kingdom.

The next year, the eldest son of Danujmadhava and Siriguta became an adult, and showed himself to be a mastermind theologian. The young man, named after his father, was a paragon of learning, despite his young age. But if one thing prevented him from awing crowds with his educated ways, it was a stutter that he inherited from his mother, and that would linger in the Shura bloodline for generations to come.

The young man had only one year to spend with his father after his childhood’s end, for Raja Danujmadhava died unexpectedly in 1108. He was only 36 years old.

Do you have a claim on the lost title?
No, but it's just one thikana (county), and now Raja Danujmadhava II is the heir to the Kingdom of Lanka.
~ V ~ 1108 – 1115

Raja Danujmadhava II was thrust into the world of politics at a young and unexpected age. His mother reigned in Lanka, but he still owed allegiance to the Pala maharajas, as the Raja of Suhma. In need of allies, and to secure his succession, Danujmadhava II sought a suitable bride and found one in Kanciakkan, a 16 year old princess of Chola, the kingdom opposite Lanka.

Her father accepted, and there was a grand ceremony to mark the new alliance. Two years later, the couple’s first child was born; a boy named Dev Singh.

Danujmadhava II loved his wife, and gave her many gifts to make her life as comfortable as possible. Kanciakkan, in turn, became fascinated with the Buddhist faith, and converted at her husband’s suggestion.

The first clouds over Danujmadhava II’s reign appeared in 1114, when the Thakur of Mallabhum was discovered plotting treason. The raja ordered his arrest, and the thakur raised his flag in rebellion, calling a distant thakur for help. The levies were raised, and Danujmadhava II led them to war.

Soon after that, while the war was going well enough to be left to the raja’s generals, a wondrous discovery was made. Miners found a diamond of exceptional size and beauty, one destined to be the stuff of legend. Danujmadhava II brushed off any suggestions of selling it or hiding it, and instead chose to make it an emblem of his fortunate house.

Several months later, the raja was woken from his sleep by thievery and attempted murder.

His 15-year old sister had tried to take the diamond from him, and stabbed him when he tried to stop her. Enraged, he had her executed on the spot. Rumours soon began circulating that the diamond was cursed.

Danujmadhava II refused to believe the rumours, instead doubling the number of guards outside his bedroom. But it was to no avail. One month later, the diamond went missing.

The raja was beyond himself with rage, even verging on madness. He accused his wife, whom he had loved so much in the past, of stealing it from him. The princess was thrown in a dungeon and kept there for many days, while her husband waited for a confession. But as time passed and the diamond’s influence waned, Danujmadhava II began to see reason again, and he released his wife from her bonds. The diamond was never found. There are some who say that spirits took it and returned it to the earth, from where it should never have been taken. Others say that it keeps passing from hand to hand to this very day, bringing misfortune to all who possess it. But for the House of Shura, its first owners, it brought nothing but misery and death.

In October 1115 the rebellion was finally put down, and Danujmadhava II took the title of Thakur of Mallabhum for his own. His demesne how numbered one thikana more, yet his family numbered one sister less.
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~ VI ~ 1116 – 1131

After the tragedy of the previous years, Danujmadhava II approached life with a new sense of ambition. A chance encounter with a mysterious figure who handed him a book opened the world of mysticism to him, and this would become another common characteristic of the Shura bloodline, as much as their perennial stutter.

In 1119, Danujmadhava II’s ambition would find a new goal, as his wife demanded that he press her claim to the Raj of Vengi.

Her husband dutifully obliged, and led the army himself on that distant adventure. But the fortunes of war did not favour him, and he narrowly escaped death or capture, in the course of several defeats. It was only his appeal to a Buddhist holy order of warriors, the Followers of Ashoka, that allowed him to gain the upper hand in that Hindu land, and in the end he had gained enough of an advantage to secure his wife’s claim.

Husband and wife were now equals, both rajas of distant lands. Danujmadhava II’s mother, meanwhile, ruled Lanka as Maharani. Separated by distance, the Shura family nevertheless commanded strategic positions all across the eastern coast of India, united by their common heirs. This lasted until 1124, when Maharani Siriguta died, and Danujmadhava II inherited the kingdom of Lanka. He no longer owed any allegiance to the Pala maharajas, although his wife remained their nominal vassal.

Soon after that, his firstborn son, Dev Singh, came of age, and Danujmadhava II arranged for his marriage to a princess of Telingana. This promised to secure more opportunities for House Shura in the future, but it had the immediate result of pulling Danujmadhava II into a civil war, at the behest of his father in law.

Danujmadhava II fought well in that war, risking his life and his health, and was greatly appreciated by Maharaja Dashavarman. The latter decided to honour his son-in-law by giving him a white elephant, a rare and sacred creature.

Danujmadhava II, who had learned nothing from the cursed diamond fiasco, spent lavishly to house and feed the elephant, even when it run amok, causing damage to property that the maharaja had to pay for. After much concern, the elephant was finally calmed when it was allowed to mate freely with females of its kind. But just when Danujmadhava II thought that his troubles were over, a new disaster struck his family. His son, Dev Singh, died after a period of illness. He was only 18.

The succession passed to his younger brother, Balinarayan, a ten-year-old boy, whom Danujmadhava II afterwards watched over like an eagle.

Soon after that, a band of adventurers and pirates gathered in the Maldives, in an expedition against Lanka. In this, they had the support of the Thakur of the Maldives, who contributed his own forces to the war. Although they were defeated before they could establish any foothold on the island, the maharaja did not forget the thakur’s role in it, nor was he willing to forgive. One year later, he led a retaliatory force to the Maldives, wishing to annex the islands and make them part of his demesne.

Danujmadhava II’s forces were superior in number. But he got too excited during battle, and exposed himself to more risk than would have been prudent. As a result, he received a crushing blow to the head, that left him unconscious and incapable of further rule. Three months later he died of his wound, leaving his kingdom and his war to his 15-year-old son.

Part 2: Maharajas

~ VII ~ 1132 – 1159

Maharaja Balinarayan inherited far less than his grandiose title would imply. His baby brother inherited the Raj of Suhma, which contained three of the four thikanas in their father’s demesne. Therefore, Balinarayan was left with just one, alone with the title of Maharaja of Lanka. Soon, however, the Maldives were added to his possessions.

A couple of years later, the 18-year-old maharaja married Hemavati, a 16-year-old princess of the Kingdom of Kosala.

After that, a few years of peace followed, in which Balinarayan focused his attention on internal affairs, managing to slightly raise his crown authority over Lanka. But in 1142 his mother called him to provide aid in a war in mainland India, prompting him to put an end to his isolationism.

While his levies and retinue were away, peasants grasped the opportunity for a revolt in Lanka. Thankfully for Balinarayan, his army had met with success on the continent and could be safely returned to deal with the rebellion, which was swiftly crushed.

His war on the continent left an impression on the maharaja, so he resolved to return there and win some land for his demesne. The thikana of Vizagipatam bordered his mother’s lands, and was ill-defended by a raja with no significant allies. After no small effort, Balinarayan was able to secure proof of his claim to the region, and demanded it in force. By 1152, he had proven his point with his bows and elephants, and the thikana was his.

Two years later, his mother died. This brought her lands under his direct rule, for the first time tying together all the disparate holdings of his family.

The kingdom had inner peace for another two years. For, although Balinarayan answered a call to arms by the Maharaja of Pala, who had a revolt on his hands, this had little impact on the Kingdom of Shura. But appearances were deceptive. A conspiracy was being planned by a band of rebellious vassals, who presented Balinarayan with an ultimatum for independence.

The maharaja, who had spent already a quarter of a century on the throne, had no inclination to entertain separatist ideas, so he refused them icily. Little did he know that the conspiracy ran deeper, and had been planned to coincide with a revolt by agitated peasants.

But the maharaja marshaled his troops and fought all, besting his enemies and spreading fear in their hearts. Victorious, he decreed a high crown authority law, which his remaining vassals could not but agree to. The last embers of the rebellion were put out soon after that.

Balinarayan thought he had weathered the worst storm for that period in his reign. However, he would soon find himself facing a danger more terrifying than mere mortal armies.

A deep chasm opened in the earth, from which people could clearly hear the anguished cries of damned souls. This brought great panic to the maharaja and his council, who spent three days deciding on a solution. Finally, Balinarayan ordered great quantities of stones to be thrown in the chasm, for surely its depth could not be infinite, and it could thus be filled up, securing our world from the nether one. After many days and intense work, the plan worked. Maharaja Balinarayan had filled the Gates of Hell with stones.

Legends still speak of the horrors waiting to be unleashed upon the earth, which were only stopped by Balinarayan’s timely intervention. The Perfect Ones could not but have blessed him with his knowledge and courage. And those blessings would manifest themselves in two more ways: a long reign, and a glorious, but also justified, series of conquests.
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I will. Fortunately, being Mahayana Buddhist gives me a +5 to vassal relations, and the Lankan nobles and people are Buddhists themselves (albeit of the Theravada variatey).
~ VIII ~ 1160 – 1171

In the year 1160, Balinarayan’s eldest son, Bhikhari, came of age. He showed a great inclination for financial affairs, much like his father.

But Balinarayan was worried that Bhikari would also emulate him in ruling over a much diminished demesne, after sharing his titles with his younger brother. To prevent that, he built up enough support among the nobles to change the kingdom’s succession law, from gavelkind to primogeniture. This upset both his younger son and his more distant relatives, but the maharaja was determined to leave his direct lineage a more unified kingdom, not a less unified one.

His motives are less clear on why he helped his marshal’s mother claim the thikana of Amaravati.

Perhaps it was because the woman was old, and he expected her son to become his vassal after inheriting. Perhaps he wanted to weaken his rival Hindu kingdom but could find no better casus belli. But the resulting war lasted two and a half years and led to the establishment of an independent thikana, which would be much fought over by various contenders in the future.

While those events were occurring, Bhikhari kept pressing his father for a thikana of his own, so that he could learn the art of ruling out of his father’s shadow. Balinarayan was hesitant at first, but in 1166 he decided to entrust Bhikhari with the Maldives. His reasoning was that his son would be safe there, and be free to learn to rule with very little interference from the maharaja and his wars.

And the wars came swiftly. In 1167 Balinarayan declared war on Raja Kapilendra for his last thikana, Kalinganagar.

Victory was swift, and within a year and a half Kapilendra was defeated. Other foes gathered around the thikana, however, sensing an opportunity to stake their own claims.

When Balinarayan met their armies in battle, he was certain of his host’s superiority – for it was both larger and had seen many a battle in recent years. Yet he was put to shame by the enemy’s resilience and discipline, which caused his own army to flee the field.

It wasn’t until 1171, after Balinarayan had raised mercenaries at great expense, that Kalinganagar was secured, its rival claimants silenced.

Balinarayan rested his forces after that, and let his treasury replenish its losses. For the years ahead would present great opportunities, with equally great risk.
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It's good to have you as a reader! :)
~ IX ~ 1172 – 1192

The last 20 years of the reign of Balinarayan should have been, as is the natural state of things, years of peace and reflection, for he was already over 50 years old and had ruled his kingdom for almost 40 years, having saved the world once from a demonic invasion. Instead, they revealed Balinarayan’s true greatness and his greatest temporal glory.

The kingdom of Malwa was ruled then by a young boy, the nephew of Balinarayan’s daughter in law, Shrimitradevi. She coveted the throne, and requested Balinarayan’s intervention for it. The maharaja was in deep thought for weeks over this request. The opportunity for his dynasty was undeniably huge, but the Paramara boy who ruled Malwa was allied to the Solanki maharajas, directly to the west. Together, those two maharajas could match Balinarayan’s best forces. For two and a half years he deferred his decision, while his army replenished its numbers and his treasury accumulated money. Then, in the summer of 1174 he made his decision – it would be war.

Over ten thousand warriors, some of them levies, others mercenaries, others the maharaja’s personal retinue, invaded the child-maharaja’s lands in two groups, close enough to support each other.

The enemy could just barely match Balinarayan’s numbers, but they were not as well led. One maharaja was a child while the other was an incapable old man, who ruled only in name. The two allies could not communicate well enough to come to a proper strategic decision, and so they chose to attack Balinarayan across a river, in a jungle.

The battle was fierce. There were 250 elephants on Balinarayan’s side, and 205 on the allied side. Maharaja Balinarayan was wounded, but the enemy was scattered, and the heir to the Solanki kingdom was taken prisoner.

After that, Balinarayan’s army was split into two. One half besieged the capital while the other half ravaged the country, and prevented any new enemy forces from linking up and becoming a threat. By the end of 1176 the war, and the kingdom, was won.

Balinarayan had taken two great risks – with his kingdom and with his life. But his kingdom triumphed, while his wound would healed, leaving a scar that brought him distinction, rather than any disfigurement.

Shrimitradevi’s reign was a remarkably short one. She died of an illness after less than a year on the throne, leaving the kingdom to Balinarayan’s grandson, Kirti Singh.

Meanwhile, in the east, the thikana of Amaravati had known nothing but chaos and war for the past decade, as adventurers and rival petty rulers fought over it constantly. Balinarayan decided to bring peace to the region, and sent his army to bring it under his rule.

Although his local rivals had raised large armies of their own, they mostly expended them fighting each other. Of particular note was the employment of the Chosen of Ashoka, a religious order that had served Balinarayan’s predecessors in the past, by the embattled thakur of Amaravati. Since Balinarayan’s warriors were Buddhists, they had nothing to fear from the Chosen ones, unlike their Hindu rivals.

The war lasted from 1180-1183, and although the prize was a single thikana it lasted longer than the war for the Kingdom of Malwa. But at its end, Balinarayan became aware of a much more profitable use of his energies. He had undertaken a most dangerous adventure to win a new kingdom for his daughter-in-law and, ultimately, for his grandson. But now it came to pass that he was presented with an opportunity to claim another kingdom for himself. Having some royal Chola ancestry, he was able to contest the rule of its 12-year old maharani, Puvanti.

In July 1184, his forces invaded the kingdom from north and south. By August they had swept the field, in a decisive battle.

By September 1186, Balinarayan was proclaimed Maharaja of Tamilakam.

It took a further, smaller war to curtail the power of the former maharani, but in 1189 Balinarayan made Tamilakam his primary title. There were political considerations behind that move. Balinarayan was over 70 years old, and the kingdom of Tamilakam had a system of gavelkind succession. Were he to die suddenly, his lands would become divided, with his eldest son inheriting Lanka and his younger inheriting Tamilakam. By making the latter primary, he avoided that possibility. This move also made it possible to transfer the status of high crown authority from Lanka to Tamilakam, which the maharaja used to eventually change its succession laws to primogeniture.

After that, the old maharaja should have been content. But he was worried by the unbalanced nature of his family. He was maharaja, his grandson was maharaja, but his son was a mere thakur in the Maldives. As luck would have it, a third succession crisis gave him an opportunity to claim a kingdom of his own.

The kingdom of Kosala was ruled by a child, and prince Bhikhari was in an overlooked line of succession. The old maharaja assembled his troops for one glorious, last campaign. The battle fought was the most decisive yet, and all but ensured the kingdom by itself.

After that, it would be a short march to the capital to claim the kingdom. But Balinarayan, who was then 74 years old and had ruled for 59 years, departed from this world before the war could be properly concluded. Bhikhari, who was at the Maldives at that time, received the news and hurried to Kosala, where victory would be handed over to him on a platter.

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