Salankayana ruled from 3rd century AD to 5th century AD. They were known as Salankayana after the Gotra name. They were the feudatories of Ikshvakus. They Ruled near vengi area, with Vengi (Eluru) as the capital. Salankayana is another of the Phantom kingdoms of Andhra for Indologists. Their date is fixed based on Samudra Gupta inscription mention of Hastivarman of Vengi. What we are looking here is to know more about them and also fix their dates.
The Salankayanas, like their contemporary rulers Brihatphalayanas and Anandas, also called their family after their gotra name “Salankayana”. According to Matsyapurana and Pravaramanjari of Purushottama, ‘Salankayana’ was the name of a rishi. He was a descendent of Salanka, who was one of the sons of Visvamitran . In the Pravarakanda, there are two gotras named after ‘Salankya’. One belongs to the Angirasa gana and the other is the Visvamitra gana. In the Ganapatha of Panini, the work ‘Salankayana’ occurs twice. In one instance, the name Salankayana was derived from a gotra descendant. In another case, the name was given after the name of a certain rulers of a territory namely, ‘Salankayanaka’. The reference to the Salankayanas and their territory as Salankayanaka in Panini’s work, indicates that the Salankayanas were an ancient family.
According to the Sanskrit Dictionary ‘Medini’, the word Salankayana means ‘Nandi’ or bull, the sacred bull of Lord Siva. The seals of the Salankayana copper plate records have the emblem of a bull seated to the proper left as in Early Pallava charters. Though the Salankayanas, were Brahmins, they, mentioned their names with a suffix ‘Varman’ which was in practice at that time . The earliest reference to the existence of Salankayana rule with the name of the king Hastivarman is noticed in Allahabad pillar inscription of Samudragupta, the Gupta Emperor. This inscription gives a picture of Andhradesa during the early part of 4th century A.D. According to this record, Andhradesa was then a land of petty kingdoms and could not offer stiff resistance to Samudragupta, who easily defeated nine rulers in Andhra one after the other. Except for Hastivarman of Salankayana dynasty and Vishnugopa, the Pallava ruler, little is known about other kings and the extent of their territories. However, Samudragupta’s invasion was more a raid than a conquest. He left South India without annexing any territory to his empire.
Salankayanas called themselves ‘Parama Bhagavatas’. One of the Salankayana kings Vijayadevavarman declared himself to be a ‘Paramamahesvara’ and claimed himself to be a performer of ‘Asvamedhayaga’. No other king claimed himself as performer of a hose sacrifice. Patanjali in his Mahabhashya mentioned both the Bhagavatas, i.e., Siva and Vishnu Bhagavatas’. The tutelary deity of the Salankayanas was the God Chitraradhaswamin. The epithet Chitrarathaswami-padanudhyatah, “one who is absorbed by devotion to the holy feet of the Lord ‘Chitrarathaswamin’, occurred in all Salankayana records.
Political history of Salankayanas can be traced from ten records, nine of which are copper plate records, and one is a lithic record. These are written in Prakrit and Sanskrit languages. As per these records seven king ruled from 320 A.D. to 446 A.D. After finding two more inscriptions, the Penugonda plates of Hastivarman and Dharikaturu plates of Achan lavarman, V.Sundara Rama Sastry made a fresh attempt at the reconstruction of the geneology and chronology of Salankayanas. He formulated the chronological list of the seven rulers of this dynasty by taking Samudragupta’s invasion as the upper limit or beginning for the Salankayana history. According to him Hastivarman I might have assumed independent power rising against Pallavas and Kadambas. He carved an independent principality and waged wars against other petty chiefs of the neighbouring region, like Mataraja of Kaurala, Jayavarman of the Brihatphalayana gotra, who were also perhaps in their trials to assert independence from Pallavas and extending their dominions. About A.D.350, Hastivarman faced Samudragupta’s invasion and was defeated. He was immediately succeeded by his son Nandivarman who ruled Vengi between A.D. 350 and 390. He issued the Kanukollu prakrit inscription. It is the first inscription of the Salankayanas. It is in prakrit and was issued from the victorious Vengipura. It does not mention the gotra name ‘Salankayana’ or the tutelary deity ‘Bhagavat Chitraradhaswamin’. It simply mentions the ruler Nandivarman as ‘Bappa bhattaraka padapariggahitasa Maharaja’. Perhaps the family had not yet developed precise conventions of the type, by the time, the grant was issued. He extended his territory towards the South of the Krishna river by subduing the other petty rulers.
The Dharikatura plates of Yuvamaharaja Achandavarman stand second in the prakrit series of Salankayana records. As per the record, the status of Achandavarman was Yuvamaharaja not as a Maharaja. Perhaps he might be assisting his father. This record refers to the gotra and to the tutelary deity of the family. The next prakrit record is the Eluru plates of Vijayadevavarman. It also mentioned the names of gotra and the tutelary deity. It claimed that Vijayadevavarman was an ‘asvamedhyajin’, and a meditator on the feet of Bappa Bhattaraka. According to B.S.L. Hanumantha Rao’s proposal on geneology of Salankayanas Devavarman was the brother of Nandivarma, who occupied the throne after the demise of the latter. Hence, he performed the horse sacrifice and claimed himself as Vijayadevavarman. After 15 years of rule, the Vengi throne was again occupied by Achandavarman, the eldest son of Nandivarman, namely the Hastivarman II seem to have been over looked in succession to the throne, for which no definite cause can be ascertained at the present state of knowledge. But his son Skandavarman seems to have placed him on the throne, most probably as a collateral line at Jayapura, their headquarters. Hastivarman II appears to be very old and can be assigned rule only for a couple of years. He was succeeded by Skandavarman, whose rule too might have losted not more than a couple of years. In the war of succession for the Vengi throne between Scandavarman and Nandivarman II, the latter succeeded to the throne. He was the last member of the family known so far. Due to these internal wars the Salankayana power waned.
Some of the early and important rulers of Salankayanas are :
- Nandi Varma
- Vijayadeva Varma
- Vijayanandi Varma
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