“Gurjara Pratiharas” means “the Pratihara clan of the Gurjaras”. Gurjara denotes some geographical unit of the modern Gujarat State in India. They are also sometimes referred to as “Imperial Pratiharas”.
Early history: The Pratiharas came to India in about the sixth century A.D. They belonged to the Rajput group of Indian people.
Kings of Gurjara Pratihara dynasty: In the 7th century the Gurjara Pratiharas dynasty set up independent states in Malwa and Rajputana. Soon they gained strength.
Nagabhata I: One of their early kings Nagabhata I won great reputation be defeating an army of Islam.
Nagabhata II: One of his successors, Nagabhata II, defeated Dharmapala’s nominee on the throne of Kanauj and made himself master of the realm.
Bhojadeva: Bhojadeva (also Mihira Bhoja I) was the most celebrated among the Pratihara kings. He is considered the greatest king of Pratihara dynasty. He defeated the king of Bengal and brought the whole of North India with the exception of Kashmir, Sind and Magadha under his control. He also defeated the Rashtrakuta ruler – Krishna II.
His vast empire was full of riches. He as a great patron of temple architecture and built several temples.
Mahendrapala: Under his successor, Mahendrapala, the Pratihara Empire reached the highest point in respect of territorial extent. His authority was acknowledged over the whole area from Kathiawad to Bengal.
The death of Mahendrapala brought the Pratihara glory to an end.
Mahipala: His successor, Mahipala, was defeated by the Rashtrakuta king, Indra III.
Decline and Fall of Pratiharas
The Pratiharas dynasty declined after the defeat of Mahipala in the hands of the Rashtrakutas. Taking the advantages of the decline, the various vassals and feudatories under the imperial Pratihara rulers began to rise in revolt. The weak Pratihara rulers were unable to bring them back in subjection and were forced to recognize their independence.
Rajyapala, the last ruler of the dynasty was defeated at the hands of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni and Kanauj passed into Muslim hands soon afterwards.
Pratiharas produced great conquerors
There was no dearth of genius in the Pratihara Dynasty. Vatsaraja, Nagabhata II, Bhojadeva (Mihira Bhoja I) and Mahendrapala surely deserve special place in India’s history. It is to be specially remembered that the Pratiharas had to build their power under the teeth of bitter rivalry of the Palas and the Rashtrakutas. They were solicitous for the welfare of the subjects.
Importance of the Gurjara Pratihara dynasty
Of all the Rajput clans that ruled in India, the Gurjara Pratiharas dynasty had the most dazzling record. The command of the Pratiharas was obeyed from Punjab to Central India and from Kathiwar to North Bengal. For three centuries, they stood as the bulwark of India’s defense against the Muslim invaders. They revived the dream of the political unification of India after the fall of Harsha’s dynasty.
The Gurjara Pratiharas dynasty were the latest great imperial dynasty of Northern India prior to the Muslim occupation of the country. The empire of the Pratiharas was not only the largest in extent of territories but also one of the best administered empires on record. The kings were not only great warriors, but also liberal patrons of arts and letters. Rajasekhara, the author of Karpuramanjari, lived in the court of Mahendrapala.
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