Rani Rudrama Devi

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Rani Rudrama Devi


Rani Rudrama Devi was a 13th century Kakatiya dynasty warrior in the Deccan plateau. She was the first woman ruler to have ascended the throne in South India. The sway of the Kakatiyas was spread over present-day Telangana region, with Orugallu (later Warangal) as its capital.

Rani Rudrama Devi

Rani Rudrama Devi
FatherGanapatideva
Death placepossibly at chandupatla,Telangana
Date of death27 November 1289

Introduction

Rani Rudrama Devi from the Kakatiya dynasty ruled from 1262 to 1289 CE. Rani Rudrama devi was the first women ruler to have ascended the throne in south India,she bacame a country wide inspiration for centuries to come.Rani rudrama remains the only ruler from kakatiya dynasty to have taken control parts of the yadava kingdom,establishing her supremacy in the southern region.Rudrama Devi's titles incude "kakati rajya sampratistanacharyulu" which means Establishers of the great kingdom of kakatiya.And another title is Raya-Gaja-Kesari which is mentioned in the Bidar

Nesamani Nadar, Congress MP from Kanyakumari, stormed into VP’s guesthouse in Trivandrum and threatened him with dire consequences when the bureaucrat was enjoying his sundowner (drink after hard work).

VP told him to get the hell out of his room. Nadar wrote a six-page complaint note to Patel, saying VP used the filthiest language in a drunken state. Patel asked young ICS officer V Shankar if VP drank alcohol.

The embarrassed bureaucrat had to spill the beans. “Yes sir, VP occasionally enjoys a couple of drinks in the evening.” Patel wanted to know what kind of drink. Shankar said, “VP prefers only Scotch.” “Then Shankar, you must instruct all the top government officials to take scotch every evening. We can have more VPs to save our nation,” Patel said to him.

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Here is an insight into the golden era of the Telugu people which rose under the kakatiya rule comprising mainly of Rani Rudrama Devi the daughter of the Ganapatideva .

Kakatiyas

History

The history of the Kakatiyas begins from the closing years of the 10th century CE. The Kakatiyas, who were mainly chieftains in the 10th and 11th centuries, rose to become a major force in the southern peninsular of India in the 12th and 13th centuries. As subordinates, the Kakatiya chiefs showed their valour and strength on the battle-field, where they rarely let their overlords down. In lieu of their military exploits, they were granted land where gradually, local governors emerged. With perciptible success and increasing prominence, in strength and region, King Prola II declared the kakatiyas independent of the chalukyan empire in the 12th century AD. 

The first king of kakatiyas was Gundaya Raj(956-996AD). At that time, they only governed minor territories, considering their subordinate status to the powerful Chalukyan empire. 

Among all the rulers the most prominent ones are Prola I,Prola II,Rudra(1158-1195AD), Mahadeva(1196-1199AD), Ganapatideva (1199-1262AD),Rudrama Devi (1262-1289AD)[ref].

The succession of Rudrama Devi to the throne in 1259 AD was a significant event in those times. It unfolded a new chapter in the history of our country, the reason being that history had barely witnessed a woman ascending the throne. Rudramba was not only well-versed in the art of warwafe but could also withstand the attack of enemies, instilling in rivals a deep sense of awe and fear. Since Rudrama Devi was the first woman ruler to have ascended the throne in south India, she became a country-wide inspiration for centuries to come.

Early Life

Rudrama Devi's Father "Ganapatideva" had himself been a succesful ruler for a long time, loved and worshipped by his people. He had made a concious decision to enthrone his daughter Rudrama Devi as his successor, a courageous decision in itself. Rudrama was an embodiment of the power of a women, which was in sharp contrast to the general belief that women were the weaker sex.

There were probably a few reasons as to why Ganapatideva entrusted the throne to his daughter. His wife, the queen, had borne no sons, which in turn nurtured a lust for throne among immediate male members of the family. These members conspired and connived to join hands with neighbouring foes. Sensing Rudrama Devi's innate strength and determination, Ganapatideva made Rudrama go through the rigours of training in horse riding, sword fight, and other arts of warfare, under the guidance and tutelage of her Guru Sivadevayya. She had a very thorough understanding of politics, administration, statesmanship and public governance.

Even before she ascended the throne Rudrama made herself  familiar with people and places, visiting several parts of her kingdom including pilgrimage sites. The Potugallu inscription of Karimnagar dated 1235 AD and the yeleshwar inscription of 1246AD, bear testimony to this fact. Jayappa, her maternal uncle, taught her fine nuances about art of dance, moulding her into a talented artist. Kondabattu, another teacher of hers, acquainted Rudrama with the nuances of literature and music. By the time Rudrama reached the age of 15, she had bloomed into a beautiful young lady, well-versed in various aspects of governance that had to be mastered by a ruler. Her father Ganapatideva shared his vast knowledge and experience about politics and public governance with her. Making her a part of his daily administration, he made Rudrama at ease with the battle field at every given oppurtunity.

Even Rudrama's attire was more like a male and she conducted herself like a man and a ruler. Gradually, she transformed into an epitome of strength and valour, well-equipped to take over the reins of the kingdom from Ganapatideva.

Marriage

Rudrama Devi was married to Virabhadra, son of King Indushekhara of Nidadavolu in 1235AD as mentioned in Malkapur and palakeedu inscriptions. Unfortunately Rudrama Devi lost her husband at a very young age in a battle.

Some scholars say Rudrama Devi had two daughters named Mummadamba and Ruyamma. [ref] According to this Mummadamba was married to Mahadeva,who in all probability belonged to Kakatiya lineage. To this couple was born a son PRATAPARUDRA.  On the advice of Ganapati Deva,Pratapa Rudra was adopted and named heir to the throne by Rudrama Devi. According to scholar and historian Dr.Mudigonda Sivaprasad, Rudrama's second daughter Ruyamma too was adopted. Dr.P.V Parabrahma Shastry too notes that Rudrama Devi had a third daughter Rudrama who married Yellena Deva, a Yadava prince. These details are provided in the"Alapadu Grand inscription.

Reign (Political Career)

Coronation

Ganapati Deva's decision to make Rudrama Devi his Successor was supported by his minister Sivaevayya, who was also the guru of Rudrama Devi as there was no male heir apparent or anyone more deserving. Ganapati Deva made Rudrama Devi aware of the responsibility and duty of upholding the honour of the Telugu people, protecting the Kakatiya kingdom from the onslaught of enemy attacks and taking care of subjects as her fatherwould and last but not the least bringing name and fame to the kakatiya dynasty with her exemplary rule.Rudrama was coronated in thr August presence of all the dignitaries of the kingdom .She was flankedd by her Father on one side and her guru sivadevayya on the other side.All the samantha rulers of the kingdom like Gangayya sahini,Malyala Gundayya,Nagadeva maharaja,Cheraku Bollayya reddy,Malli deva siddayya chodudu were all present at this time.Prime ministers Govinda Nayakudu Chief minister SIvadevayya and other ministers like Bhaskara,Pthana Mathyudu,Induluri soma along with poet Thikkana,Yadavakkulla Annamayya Maarana,Bhattunthe scholars,mde the gathering all the more resplendent.

Though she ascended the throne in 1259AD,Ganapatideva continued to hold the reins of his kingdom for ten more years according to some insciptions mainly:

Tripurantaka Inscription dated 1261AD,Malkhapuram Inscription1261AD,Pammi Inscription 1265 AD,Irwin Inscription 1271 AD.

The Durgi inscription of 1269 AD addresses Rudrama Devi as a king designate till 1269AD but some inscriptions proclaimeed her as a ruler,ruling independently evwn when her father was alive.In the first two to three years of conjoint rule with her father there was alot of confusion in the kingdom due to invasion of jatavarma sundara pandya I and the disastrious defeat of the kaktiyas along with their allies on the battlefield of Muttukur near Nellore.Though Ganapati Deva ultimately  succeeded in turning back the tide if invasion yet,he not only suffered the loss f territory and prestige but his hold over feudatories and nobles was shaken.Though Rudrama devi assumed full sovereignty in 1262-63 AD she was not the crowned queen till 1269 AD.Kayasthya chief Jannigadeva's Duggi (palnad Taluk)record speaks of Rudrama as Pattodari(queen designate) of Ganapati Deva maharaja.It was only after the death of her father she celebrated her coronation.

Internal Revolts

Rudrama devi's nomination and succession to the throne was not generally approved.Some of the nobles who were unwilling to submit to a womens authority took up arms against her.Ekambranatha's prathapacharithra refers to her step brothers Hariradeva and Murarideva outsting Rudrama and capturing warangal.It is said that Rudrama effectively tackled them with the help of citizens and some of her powerful supporters.When Rudrama was on a visit to a temple called Mogilicharla with her daughter they attacked the fort and tried to occupy it by force.Even if it is believed that some intransigent nobles and her near relatives rebelled against her authority,the kayashtya chief jannigadeva and his younger brothers Tripurari and Ambadeva .Recharla prasaditya and reddy chiefs gona ganna reddy and a host of others remained firmly loyal to the queen,espoused her cause and helped her dfeat the rebels.

With regard to external dangers, kalinga king Narasimha I who was previously suffered defeat at the hands of ganapati Deva took advantage of the chaotic conditions of the kakatiya kingdom and marched with his forces into the godavari Delta to recover his lost possessions.

Battle with King Mahadeva

Rudrama Devi faced the most serious danger from the west.It thretened to overthrow the kakatiya monarch.The seuna ruler Mahadeva who succeeded to the throne of devagin in 1260 AD invaded th kakatiya kingdom in the early years of his rule.When rudrama ascended the throne the northern parts of Telangana were under the control of the yadava.Mahadeva invaded the kingdom of the kakatiyas and took control of itd capital warangal.It is said that rani rudrama put up a very stiff resistance and fought with him for 15 long days during which she destroyed 3 lakhs of the seuna calvary and chased him upto the walls of devagiri.The BIDAR FORT INSCRIPTION bears testimony over rudramas victory over mahadeva.

Rani rudrama remains the only ruler of kakatiya dynasty,to have taken control parts of the yadava dynasty and establish her supremacy in the southern region.

Rudrama's Raya-Gaja Kesari Title

After having proven herself as a worthy daughter to a worthy father Rudrama took on the title of RAYA-GAJA-KESARI (Lion to the elephant like (enemy)kings) which had earlier adorned by her father.AS a mark of her victory a beautiful Rangamantapa was built in the swayambhu temple ,which can still be seen from the ruins of the fort today.After the victory she also issued coins and measures bearing the same title.

Battle with Kayastha Ruler Ambadeva

The kayasthya clan had always been loyal subordinates of the kakatiya rulers.But this was noo the case with Ambadeva was a rebel right from the outset.He visualised an independent principality for himself.Ambadeva's Tripurantakam inscription of 1290AD,stands an account of all his victories over many of his mandalikas who were subordinates of the kakatiya queen Rani Rudrama.Ambadeva extended his sway across many places in the south including the subordinate kingdoms of the kakatiya dynasty.Thus Rudrama Devi lost her control in the south,beyond the krishna river,except for some parts temporarily.

Death

we find information about the emise of Rani Rudrama Devi in the chandupatla inscription found in Nalgonda district of Telangana state dating back to 27th november,1289 AD .Scholars have two opinions about the demise of rani rudrama Devi.one that she dies on the same day.And on the other that she died 12 years earlier since it is a donation inscription.

Mallikarjuna Nayaka was Rudramadevi's military general is evident from the panagallu inscription .The record states that both the queen and her general died at the same time which may mean that they might have been killed at the same time by an enemy in their military camp,though not on the battle field.Because Rudrama evi might have been around 80 years of age during that time.It does not seem  to be possible that she took part in the battle.But being a valiant lady she might have lead the forcesto inspire the soldiers,guarded by her army general Mallikarjuna.

Legacy

Rudrama was the first woman to be coronated,because of which she became a matter of pride not only for the Kakatiya dynasty or India, but for the entire race. Despite ascending the throne in difficult times, she rose above hurdles, internal dissensions and rebellion, giving rise to a reign of love, peace and concern for her people. She personified all that stood for confidence, bravery, commitment and proved that any woman endowed with such qualities could rise to be another Rudrama. Not merely yesterday or today but for generations to come, Rudrama Devi will remain an inspiration to one and all, transcending narrow gender equations. Rani Rudrama Devi lived, fought and sacrificed her very life for her motherland an embodiment of a true patriot.

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