Kalinga under Kharavela

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Sungas & Kanvas | Indo-Greeks | Kharavela | South India | Indian Influence on the World | Literature

Kalinga remained a source of anxiety to the Magadhans. It rose to power in the middle of the first century B.C. under the king Kharavela. A long inscription which he caused to be made and which includes a biographical sketch survives at Hathi-gunpha (Elephant's Cave) in Orissa. The inscription is badly damaged as such very few information could be deciphered from it, about king Kharavela.

Kharavela was a Jain but despite his fervour for Jainism he was addicted to military conquests and conducted a number of successful campaigns in various directions. He claims to have defeated the king of the western Deccan, occupied Rajagriha to the north and conquered Magadha, attacked the Greeks in the north-west, and finally overrun parts of the Pandyan kingdom in the south of the peninsula, which he then had ploughed with an ass as a mark of utter contempt for the Pandyan rulers.

Kharavela refers to the irrigation canals built by the Nandas and takes pride in his own attempt in this direction. There is no reference to the Mauryas, unless it was included in the parts of the inscription which are now illegible. Perhaps the memory of the Ashoka's campaign against them was still bitter to the Kalingans. Besides references to conquests, he lays claim to spending vast sums on the welfare of his subjects.

The inscription is in a rather flowery and pompous style and doubtless much of it was royal panegyric. On Kharavela's death, Kalinga relapsed into quiescence.

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