Vakataka Dynasty - Vastagulma Branch

c. 335 - c. 483 A.D : Vakataka Dynasty - Vastagulma Branch or Western Vakatakas or South Vakatakas
Founder : Vindhyashakti 
Founder Vastagulma Branch : Sarvasena 
Capital : Vatsagulma, the present day Washim in Washim district of Maharashtra.
Languages : Sanskrit and Prakrit
Religion : Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism
Gotra: Vishnuvriddha

The Vakatakas succeeded the Satavahanas in the Deccan.
Vakataka Dynasty was a royal Indian dynasty that originated from the Deccan in the mid-3rd century CE after Satavahanas and after Abhiras by Sarvasena of Vastagulma or Western Vakatakas.

The Rashtrakutas of Manapura
In an inscription of his descendants, Manahka is described as the ruler of the prosperous Kuntala country and as the conqueror of Asmaka and Vidarbha. Manahka, the progenitor of this Rashtrakuta family, flourished about 375 a.c. and ruled from Manapura. He was a contemporary of Vindhyasena. As both Manahka and Vindhyasena claim a victory over each other, neither of them appears to have emerged completely victorious from this war.

During the reign of Manahka’s successor Devaraja, however, the kingdom of Kuntala came under the sphere of the influence of the Guptas

Their state is believed to have extended from the southern edges of Malwa and Gujarat in the north to the Tungabhadra River in the south as well as from the Arabian Sea in the west to the edges of Chhattisgarh in the east.

Little is known about Vindhyashakti (c. 250–270 CE), the founder of the family. Territorial expansion began in the reign of his son Pravarasena I (270 - 330).
It is generally believed that the Vakataka dynasty was divided into four branches after Pravarasena I. Two branches are known and two are unknown. The known branches are the Pravarpura-Nandivardhana branch and the Vatsagulma branch.

The territory ruled by this branch was between the Sahydri Range and the Godavari River which includes Telangana.

Vakatakas employed Vallura family as ministers. Vallura is a village in modern Yelgandal, Karimnagar district. Yajnapathi is the founder of this family. His son Deva was a contemporary of  Vindhyashakti and his son Soma for Pravarasena I.

335 AD - 355 AD : Sarvasena
Minister : Ravi, the son of the Brahmana Soma from a Kshatriya wife. Ravi’s descendants became the hereditary ministers of the Vaktaka kings of Vatsagulma and served them faithfully for several generations. Sarvasena took the title of Dharmamaharaja. 
He is also known as the author of Harivijaya in Prakrit which is based on the story of bringing the parijat tree from heaven by Krishna. This work praised by later writers is lost. He is also known as the author of many verses of the Prakrit Gaha Sattasai. He was succeeded by his son Vindhyasena.

c. 355 AD - 400 AD : Vindhyasena or Vindhyashakti II
Minster : Pravara
Vindhyasena's dominion was fairly extensive which included southern Berar , northern Hyderabad , and the districts of Nagar , Nasik , Poona and Satara.

Mananka of Manapura, Kuntala captured Asmaka and Vidharbha. Both Vindhyashakti and Mananka claim victory over each other. Mananka son is 

Vindhysena was also known as Vindhyashakti II. He is known from the well known Washim plates which recorded the grant of a village situated in the northern marga (subdivision) of Nandikata (presently Nanded) in his 37th regnal year. The genealogical portion of the grant is written in Sanskrit and the formal portion in Prakrit. This is the first known land grant by any Vakataka ruler. He also took the title of Dharmamaharaja.
The marriage of Prabhavatigupta with Rudrasena II of Nandivardhana-Pravarapura Branch was an important diplomatic alliance. Prabhavatigupta was the daughter of Chandragupta II and Kuberngaga of Naga dynasty.

c. 400 AD - 410 AD : Pravarsena II
Minster : Sri-Rama
Pravarasena II was the next ruler of whom very little is known except from the Cave XVI inscription of Ajanta, which says that he became exalted by his excellent, powerful and liberal rule. He died after a very short rule and succeeded by his minor son, who was only 8 years old when his father died. 

c. 410 AD - 450 AD : Sarvasena II
Minster : Kirti
He was succeeded by his son Devasena.

c. 450 AD - 460 AD : Devasena
Minster : Hastibhoja
Hisse-Borala inscription of Vakataka Devasena dated Saka 380 (458 A.D)
His administration was actually run by his minister Hastibhoja. During his reign, one of his servant Svaminadeva excavated a tank named Sudarshana near Washim.
Hisse-Borla inscriptions of Devasena was the only inscription in Saka era with reference to planetary position of great bear (saptrsi) in Uttara Naksatra.
Devasena established relations with the rising power of the Vishnukundins, giving his daughter in marriage to the Vishnukundin king Madhavavarman II Janashraya.
He was succeeded by his son Harishena.

Vishnukundins ended the rule of Vakatakas in Telangana and took over part of Vakataka Dynasty by  Madhavavarma II (456 AD - 503 AD)

c. 460 AD - 478 AD : Harishena
Minster : Varahadeva
Harisena was agreat patron of Buddhist architecture, art and culture. The World Heritage monument Ajanta is surviving example of his works. The rock cut architectural cell XVI inscription of Ajanta states that he conquered Avanti (Malwa) in the north, Kosala (Chhattisgarh), Kalinga and Andhra in the east, Lata (Central and Southern Gujarat).

Inscriptions from Caves 4, 16, 17, 20, and 26 indicate that often multiple caves were constructed under the benefaction of one patron; examples would include local Risika king Upendragupta, Harisena's Prime Minister Asmaka Varahadeva (Cave 16), and the Asmaka monk Buddhabhadra.

As per Ajanta Cave 1 inscriptions Harisena ruled from c.460 AD - 478 AD
In 466 CE, the work began on Cave No 1 at Ajanta, popularly known as ‘Harisena’s Cave’ as it was endowed by him. This is the most richly decorated cave in the complex. But all was not well in Harisena’s kingdom. Between 471 and 474 CE, the chieftains of the Asmakas (Telangana region) and Rishikas (Khandesh in Maharashtra) led insurrections against the Vakataka rule. During this period, most of the workers and artists here moved to the Bagh Caves near Mandu in Madhya Pradesh, where they built a magnificent cave complex very similar to the one at Ajanta. Sadly, due to the poor quality of rock, almost nothing has survived there.

The Chaitya complex involving Cave 26 and its four wings was sponsored by a monk named Buddhabhadra, who had intimate links to the court of the powerful neighboring province, Asmaka.
While construction of the royal caves at Ajanta restarted in 475 CE, it would halt dramatically in 477 CE. Dr Spink as well as another noted historian V V Mirashi argue that the dramatic end of the Western Vakatakas after Harisena’s sudden death in 477 CE, was such an important event in those times that it was recalled, blow by blow, by noted Sanskrit playwright Dandin’squasi-historical Dasakumaracarita (Story of Ten Princes), in the eighth chapter (Visruta Carita), almost a century after the events actually happened. Apparently, Harisena met his mysterious end in a plot organized by his feudatory, the Asmakas. 

c. 478 AD - c. 483 AD : Saravsena III
Around 478 A.D the inept Sarvasena III succeeds his father Harisena, while the site’s anxious patrons rush their shrine Buddhas to completion and dedication.

Mitravarman is the Vakataka viceroy ruling over Anupa, Vasantabhanu is the troublesome Asmaka chief, the king of the neighbouring Aśmakacountry, sent his minister's son to the court of Vidarbha. 

This ‘mole’ in the Vakataka establishment encouraged Harisena’s son Sarvasena III to wage a war with the Kadamabas (345–540 CE), where he was treacherously betrayed and killed.

Sarvasena’s widow and minor children took refuge in the Kingdom of Mahismati (Maheshwar in Madhya Pradesh). This ended the rule of the Western Vakatakas.

Cultural Contributions
Some of the kings of the Vakataka dynasty contributed heavily towards the sectors of culture, religion and arts. Though the rule of these kings was not as famous or as significant as the kings of other famous dynasties, they still played a big role in those days. 

During the rule of King Harishena, cave numbers sixteen and seventeen were dug out and adorned with excellent paintings and sculptures. One of the famous historians, Walter Spink has recorded that all the caves in the Ajanta rock cut temples, except caves 9, 10, 12, 13 and 15A, were constructed during the historic rule of Harishena.

One of the rulers of the Vatsagulma branch, King Sarvasena, was also a famous poet and is best known for his work, Harivijaya in Prakrit script. During the time it was written, this work was praised by lot of literature experts. However, this work got lost over time due to lack of preservation. The work termed as Gaha Sattasai, was also penned by Sarvasena.

The last significant ruler of the Vatsagulma branch, Harishena, was known to have contributed excessively towards Buddhism culture. 

According to the eighth ucchvāsaḥ of the Daśakumāracarita of Daṇḍin, which was written probably around 125 years after the fall of the Vakataka dynasty, Harishena's son, though intelligent and accomplished in all arts, neglected the study of the Dandaniti (Political Science) and gave himself up to the enjoyment of pleasures and indulged in all sorts of vices. His subjects also followed him and led a vicious and dissolute life. Finding this a suitable opportunity, the ruler of the neighbouring Ashmaka sent his minister's son to the court of the Vakatakas. The latter ingratiated himself with the king and egged him on in his dissolute life. He also decimated his forces by various means. 

Ultimately, when the country was thoroughly disorganised, the ruler of Ashmaka instigated the ruler of Vanavasi (in the North Kanara district) to invade the Vakataka territory. The king called all his feudatories and decided to fight his enemy on the bank of the Varada (Wardha). While fighting with the forces of the enemy, he was treacherously attacked in the rear by some of his own feudatories and killed. The Vakataka dynasty ended with his death

Few historians believes that Narendrasena's son, Prithvisena II may have played a role in the destruction of the Western branch of the family. But it is believed that soon after Prithvisena II, the Vishnukundins took over the Eastern Vakataka kingdom. The Chalukyas of Badami may have sounded the death knell on this empire around 550 CE. Thus, the Age of the Vakatakas had truly ended by the middle of the sixth century AD.

Possible names of potential enemies in the area included Vanati, Kuntala, Kosalä, Mekhalä, Mâlava, Rsîka,Trukuataka, Lata, Andhra, Mulaka, Anüpa, Vidarbha, Vanaväsi, Nasikya, Murala, Konkana


Some time before 462 Rishikas defeat Asmakas.
by 468 CE the neighboring Asmakas were threatening the stability of the region with their territorial ambitions. As a result, Upendragupta, the local feudatory ruler, ordered work to be stopped on all caves except the royal caves. 
469 - 471 : Asmkas recovers from its prior humiliation and attacks Rishikas.
472 - 474 : Asmakas and Rishika conflict heightens and all works at Ajanta stops
475 - 477 : Asmakas wins and works at Ajanta starts again
In 475 CE, the Asmakas became the feudatory lords of the region and the Asmaka phase begun.
All ongoing excavation programs were abandoned during 478 CE when Harisena’s son Sarvasena III succeeded and the patrons focused on getting the main Buddha images completed and dedicated. 

Minister of Vakataka Harisena, Asmaka King is Varahadeva is the patron of Cave 16
Asmaka King Maharaja Vasantabhanu / Subhandhu (Ministers are Bhavviraja, Devaraja) of Cave 26 who defeated Sarvasena.
Rishika kings Dhritarashtra, Harisamba, Saurisamba, Upendragupta I, Agaja or Kacha I, Bhikshudasa, Niladasa, Kacha II, Krishnadasa, Upendragupta II (Caves 17 to 20) and Ravisamba. 

The inscription also states Krishnadasa’s two sons of which Ravisamba is the younger one conquered Asmaka and due to the premature death of Ravisamba, his brother, the king turned an ascetic. It is interesting to note that just by having a foresight to name the dynastic list, we come to know about a kingdom, obscure and probably never independent and with zero impact on Indian history. The only thing this inscription tells, of note, is that it reinforces the fact that Harisena existed.