Origins of Gangas of Talakad

Indian map of south india

in this article the following topics will be covered:

  1. origins
  2. prominent kings
    • digiga or kongani varma
    • madhava 
    • sripurusha 
    • sivamara 


origins of the gangas of talakad 

Gangas of Talakad Or the ancient dynasties of South India, the Gangas were one of the most illustrious who ruled over the greater part of the Mysore country, then known by the wellnigh forgotten name Gangavadi which survives only in the designation of a community of Mysore people known to this day as the Gangadikar Vokkaligars. The rise and fall of the dynasty of the Gangas mark an important but neglected chapter of Mysore history. The events connected with the history of the Gangas require to be pieced out and fitted into a mosaic extracted as they are from inscriptions which are sometimes vague indicators of historical events. Looking back on the periods mentioned in legends and traditions as well as in the inscriptions of Nagarjunakonda, it may be observed that a famous family of kings ruled north of the river Krishna in Andhra desa. This Ikshvaku dynasty seems to have been prominent there between 225 CE and 345 CE. The Ganga founders who claim descent from Ikshvaku Vamsa may really have belonged to this dynasty which not only succeeded to the cultural inheritance of the Satavahanas but a large part of their temporal possessions, thus being enabled to spread Hindu culture to the outside world. The claims of the Chalukyas and the Gangas to their descent from the solar race, the marriage, according to a Nagarjunakonda inscription-of an Ikshvaku princess with the King of Vanavasi, and the pride of the Kaikayas in having brought about matrimonial alliances with Ikshvakus and Rajarsis, all indicate that relationship with this family was solicited on account of its high lineage and exalted character.

Prominent Kings

Didiga or Kongani Varma (350 CE – 400 CE)

who was he

Didiga who was also called Kongani Varma or Konkani Varman, a title used by all the subsequent kings of the line was the founder of the dynasty. As he and his brother had come from the north and halted at Perur with a view to mature their plans of conquest, they naturally had to encounter the opposition of the Mahabali or Bana kings who held sway over the east of Mysore, and whose Western boundary was probably the Palar River, close to Kolar.

military expedition 

Didiga who was bent on conquering the Bana country, carried an expedition into it, and became victorious, for he is described as a wild fire in consuming the stubble of the forest Bana.He led another expedition later to the Konkan coast, encroached upon Mandali near Shimoga, where on the advice of his Guru Simhanandi, he established a Chaityalaya. He might have ruled for a considerably long period as he was pretty young when he founded the kingdom.

Madhava (400 CE – 435 CE)

Didiga’s son Kiriya or Younger Madhava succeeded his father on the throne and assumed the purple with the avowed object of promoting the happiness of his subjects. The most important purpose of kingship according to the Ganga civic ideal was good government (samyak- praja- palana matradhigatarajya- prayojanasya). Besides being an active soldier, he was proficient in Niti-shastra, in the Upanisads as well as in other branches of sociological study. Gifted with a literary turn of mind, he could appreciate the learned and the poets. He was an author of repute and wrote a treatise on Dattakasutra.

Sripurusha (726 CE – 776 CE)

who was he 

One of the most distinguished rulers of the dynasty was Sripurusha who came to the throne about 726 CE. His reign inaugurated a new epoch in the history of the state which attained under him a height of greatness and prosperity never reached before. The state in his time came to be called Sree Rajya or fortunate kingdom. During his viceroyalty he carried on wars against the Banas, and though for a time suffered a reverse, was able to retrieve his position, invade their country, and enforce Jagadeka malla, son of Vijayaditya, whom he placed on the throne, to an acquiescence of his over-lordship From his succession in 726 A.D.2 till his death he had to confront the gradual and inevitable encroachments of the Rattas who had risen to power and were undermining Chalukyan sovereignty on the one hand and of the Pallavas on the other. As it was a period of intense and in cessant activity, he managed to tide over diffi culties both by successful war and by equally successful diplomacy.

military expedition 

Post the great Chalukyan-Pallava struggle, war broke out between the Pandyas and the Pallavas on the one hand, and the Pallavas and the Rashtrakutas on the other. In a policy of selfish glorification, Nandivarman opened hostilities with the Gangas and the Pandyas for the control over Kongunad. Though what led to this conflict with the Gangas, is not clearly known, still Nandivarman is said to have made an aggression into Ganga country and to have taken away a neck ornament which contained in it the gem called Ugrodaya. This invasion did not seriously jeopardise the position of Sripurusha, because during this triangular conflict he played the one part, now the other, and succeeded eminently in extending his influence south and east and consolidating his power. It was the war that followed this hostility between the Gangas and the Pallavas that has been considered the chief military exploit of Sripurusha’s reign. Siyagalla, Sree Purusha’s son and general and governor of Kesumannunad distinguished himself in the war and inflicted a crushing defeat on the Pallavas at Vilardi.

Sree Purusha had to encounter during the latter half of his reign the formidable aggressions of the Rashtrakutas who for several centuries had suffered an eclipse by the Satavahanas and Chalukyas, but were never extirpated. The chief objective of the Rashtrakutas seems to have been enlargement of the kingdom and, consolidation of power by completing the establishment of their supremacy over the dominions formerly held by the Chalukyas. From 760 CE., till the close of his reign, Sree Purusha had to combat, therefore, the aggressive wars of the Rashtrakutas, waged for expansion and hegemony.

Although a great conqueror and warrior Sree Purusha was no barbarian. He wrote a treatise on elephants called Gajasastra and was considered an authority in the matter of elephant war-fare. Himself learned, he freely extended his patronage to men of letters. The poets praised him as Prajapati and the interior of his palace echoed the sound of the holy ceremonial chantings accompanying the great gifts made by him.  Though a Jain he showed a great regard for the religious susceptibilities of the brahmins and made magnificent grants to Jaina, and brahmin temples alike. Sree Purusha is referred to in grants and lithic inscriptions with different titles and appellations as Prithvikonkani, Kon kanimuttarasa, Permanadi Sree Vallabah, and Ranabhajana.

Sivamara (780 CE – 812 CE)

Sivamara, the eldest son of Sree Purusha, as soon as he came to the throne in 788 A.D. had to contend with his younger brother Duggamara who attempted to dispute the succession by open declaration of independence.  Sivamara’s reign was marked by many reverses of fortune of the Gangas and the latter came to be subjected to calamities which threatened the extinction of the Ganga dynasty altogether. These troubles arose from the Rashtrakutas who had recently under Krishna I ousted the Eastern Chalukyas and established their own supremacy in Chalukyan territory.


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