THE MAIN BRANCH
THE MAIN BRANCH
...GAUTAMĪPUTRA, the eldest son1 of Pravarasēna I, predeceased his father. The
latter was therefore succeeded by his grandson Rudrasēna I in circa 330 A.C.
In later Vākāṭaka records Rudrasēna I is invariably described as the daughter’s son
of Bhavanāga, the Mahārāja of the Bhāraśivas, which indicates that the young prince had
the powerful support of the Nāgas of Padmāvatī. Only one inscription of his reign has been
discovered, viz., that at Dēoṭēk in the Chāndā District of Vidarbha.2 It is incised on large
slab of stone after chiselling off an earlier record, issued probably by a Mahāmātra of Aśōka
the Great, prohibiting the capture and slaughter of animals. The Vākāṭaka inscription
on the slab records that the shrine where the slab was put up was the dharma-sthāna (place
of religious worship) of the Rājan Rudrasēna. Rudrasēna I was a fervent devotee of
Mahābhairava, the terrific god created by Śiva for the destruction of Daksha’s sacrifice. He
had no regard for the doctrine of ahiṁsā preached by Aśōka. He therefore apparently had
no scruples in getting his own inscription incised on the same slab which contained an old
proclamation of the great Buddhist Emperor prohibiting the capture and slaughter of animals.
...Rudrasēna I was a contemporary of the mighty Gupta king Samudragupta. His
age was therefore a period of great convulsion in the country to the north of the Narmadā.
Samudragupta, with the powerful support of the Lichchhavis of Vaiśālī, embarked upon
a career of conquest and annexation in North India. His Allāhābād pillar inscription
mentions a large number of princes of Āryāvarta or the country to the north of the Narmadā
whom he forcibly dethroned and whose kingdoms he annexed.3 Among these rulers were
the Nāga princes Nāgadatta, Gaṇapati Nāga and Nāgasēna. Of these, Gaṇapati Nāga.
was probably the contemporary ruler of Padmāvatī; for, his coins have been found there.
He was evidently the successor of Bhavanāga. The other Nāga princes were probably ruling
over smaller states in Central India. We do not know what measures Rudrasēna I took
to help his relatives in North India, but there is no doubt that their final defeat and overthrow deprived him of the support of a powerful confederacy of the Nāga States.
...After subduing the princes of North India, Samudragupta led his expedition to the
south. The first king who felt the weight of his arms was Mahēndra, the lord of Kōsala, i.e. Chhattisgaḍh. This king may previously have been a feudatory of the Vākāṭakas, his
1 Dr.D.R.Bhandarkar, drawing attention to the faulty construction in the stereotyped form of the
Vākāṭaka genealogy, suggested that Gautamīputra was the grandson, not the son, of Pravarsēna I.
If this view is accepted, the successor of Pravarasēna I would be his great-grandson as Gautamīputra
did not evidently come to the throne, the expression Vākāṭakānāṁ Mahārāja, which occurs invariably in
the description of every Vākāṭaka king, being absent in his case. Again, if Gautamīputra was the
grandson, not the son of Pravarasēna I, who was the son of the latter ? Why is his name omitted ?
These questions cannot be satisfactorily answered. For further discussion of this question, see my article
in Ind. Cult., Vol. XI, pp. 232-33.
2 No. 1
3 Some scholars identify Rudradēva mentioned in the Allāhābād pillar inscription as uprooted by
Samudragupta with the Vākāṭaka Rudrasēna I, but the former was a ruler of Āryāvarta or North India,
While the Vākāṭakas had, in this early period, no foot-hold north of the Narmadā as shown above. Again,
as Dr. Altekar has shown, if Rudrasēna I had been killed by Samudragupta, his son Pṛithivīshēṇa I would
not have accepted Prabhāvatīguptā, the grand-daughter of Samudragupta, as a bride for his son Rudrasēna II. Ind., Cult., Vol IX, pp. 103 f.