Sunday, March 19, 2017

Review of J. D. M. Derrett's "The Hoysalas: A Medieval Indian Royal Family" by S. Srikanta Sastri

The Hoysalas of Mysore occupy an important place in the annals of South India for nearly two and a half centuries. South India was divided between the two great empires of the Western Chalukyas of Kalyani and the Cholas at the rise of the Hoysala power in Southern Mysore and the Hoysalas in the south and the Chalukyas, the Yadavas of Devagiri, the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Kalachuryas and minor dynasties, before the Muslim invasions. The Hoysalas themselves were destined to be eclipsed by the Vijayanagara Empire, which for the first time brought the country south of the Krishna under a single rule.

The long reign of Vikramaditya VI saw the rise of powerful subordinate dynasties like the Yadavas of Devagiri in the northern part of Karnataka, the Kalachuryas in the centre, the Hoysalas in the south and the Kakatiyas in the east. To reconstruct the history of the Hoysalas the whole context should be kept in view and the sources, literary and archaeological, should be critically evaluated. Since Fleet and Lewis Rice collected the Karnataka inscriptions, numerous epigraphs and literary works in Samskrit, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil, as well as Persian and Arabic, have come to light. Dr. Derrett acknowledges that the vast material should be carefully sifted before a full-scale work on the dynasties of Karnataka will be possible. Further he has not utilised important Kannada works and the articles published in Kannada. Even the Persian and Arabic sources like the writings of Amir Khusru and Ibn Battuta have not been critically studied in the light of Kannada sources and inscriptions. Chronology is very important because the reconstruction of the history of the contemporary dynasties depends upon it. To take one instance, the battle of Soratur is an important landmark in the history of the Hoysalas. Ballala II defeated Yadava Bhillama in that battle and assumed imperial titles for the first time in Hoysala history. There is absolutely no warrant for the assumption that the Yadavas of Devagiri were Mahrattas making war on Kannadigas. The Yadavas down to Yadava Kannara use Kannada in their inscriptions and only from the time Kannara and Mahadeva we have short Marathi inscriptions.

To read the entire article, Click here.