- The period of the Rashtrakutas was one of the greatest periods in Indian history. There was a great deal of activity in cultural, social, literary, and various aspects. Historian P. B. Desai has described the Rashtrakuta era as follows.
The achievements of this epoch in spheres of territorial expanse, political supremacy, military prowess and diplomacy, as well as attainments in the cultural domains of language, literature, religion and art, are shining and substantial, some of them endowed with imperishable merits transcending the barriers of time and space.
Cultural contributions of Rashtrakutas
- The Rashtrakutas were predominantly Vaishnavas as evident by their symbol which was the Garuda and their invocation to Vishnu in most of their inscriptions.
- Numerous kings of the dynasty had the title Veeranarayana. But they propagated all faiths of the period. The patronage that Jainism got under the Vaishnava Rashtrakutas was unparalleled.
- It was the golden age of Jainism and as per Altekar, at least 30% of the society in Karnataka was Jain. But the Rashtrakutas propagated Shaivism and Buddhism too. They were a symbol of religious tolerance.
- Amoghavarsha was a great devotee of Goddess Mahalaxmi.
- They granted liberal grants and endowments to all religious institutions.
- Rashtrakutas constructed a number of temples in Malkehda, Mudhola, Lakshmeshwar, Naregal, Jogeshwar, Ellora, etc., in different parts of their Kingdom.
- Brahmanas were engaged to perform yagnas and yagas. Kings respected them and gave them money generously.
- Jumma Masjids existed in the Rashtrakuta empire by the 10th century and many Muslims lived and mosques flourished on the coasts, specifically in towns such as Kayalpattanam and Nagore.
- Muslim settlers married local women; their children were known as Mappilas (Moplahs) and were actively involved in horse trading and manning shipping fleets.
- The literatures of Kannada and Sanskrit underwent a period of transition during this time. Education was given more weight.
- During Krishna III’s rule, Salotgi(Indi taluk of Bijapur district) was a significant educational hub. Sanskrit literature was heavily favoured by the Rashtrakutas.
- Saktayana’s Amoghavriti, Halayuda’s Kavirahasya, Jinasena’s Adipurana, Mahaviracharya’s Ganitasarasangraha, and Trivikrama’s Nalacharita were among the significant Sanskrit works of the time.
- The Rashtrakuta era marked the beginning of Kannada literature. Kavirajamarga by Amoghavarsha was the first piece of poetry written in Kannada.
- Amoghavarsha made a significant contribution to literature not only as a patron but also as a scholar.
- Pampa, Ranna, and Ponna, the trio of poets who defined this era, have contributed immeasurably to Kannada literature.
- The first Kannada poet, Pampa, is credited with creating “Vikramarjuna Vijaya” (Pampa Bharata) and “Adipurana.”
- Ponna, Krishna III’s court poet who wrote the “Shanti Purana,” was given the title “Ubhaya Kavichakravarthi” and Ranna was the court poet of the Chalukya king Tailapa, a feudatory of the Rashtrakutas.
- The majority of the authors in this period’s literature were Jains, which is an important aspect of its literature. They were outstanding Prakrit, Kannada, and Sanskrit scholars.
- The Rashtrakutas love for the Kannada language was unmatched by any empire in history. Their inscriptions are predominantly in Kannada and their age ended the classical age of Sanskrit and Prakrit literature. But it started the golden age of Kannada literature which continued all the way up to the fall of the Vijayanagara Empire. The Rashtrakutas were the pioneers of Kannada literature.
Architecture and the Arts:
- Rashtrakuta sculptors and architects held a prominent position in ancient India and left behind evidence of their greatness in their works of art.
- Their art work demonstrates a very high level of grace, refinement, and technical skill. They were master builders who dug the mighty temples out of the ground or built them from scratch. Their benevolent patronage led to the appearance of numerous magnificent monuments and works of art.
- Visitors are captivated by the Rashtrakutas’ Ellora and Elephanta cave temples, which are truly breathtaking buildings for people of all ages. During the reign of Krishna I, the Kailasanatha temple at Ellora was carved out of a monolith (single rock), which is an exceptional accomplishment without precedent in art history.
- With its lovely structures, it is an architectural marvel. “It is one of the wonders of theworld, a work of which any national might be proud of an honour to the kingunder whose patronage it was extended,” noted the renowned historian V. A.Smith.
- The Elephanta caves, which are close to Bombay, also date from the same era. Rashtrakuta sculpture attained its pinnacle. The masterwork of these caves isknown as “Trimurti” or “Mahesh Murthi.”
- In addition to these two masterpieces,structural temples were also constructed throughout their extensive empire at Manyakheta, Pattadakkal, Mahakuta, Aihole, Badami, Belur, Sannathi, Rameswaram, and other locations.
- Pattadakal is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is associated with the Chalukyas of Badami but the Rashtrakutas have built temples in the complex which is now a heritage site.
- The Jain Narayana temple and the Kasivisvesvara temple at Pattadakal were both built by the Rashtrakutas.
- The glorious Trikuteshwara temple at Gadag was also originally built by the Rashtrakutas and later expanded by the Chalukyas of Kalyani.
- The largest empire in Deccan was the Rashtrakuta one, with the river Kaveri in the south, the Narmada in the north, the Bay of Bengal in the east, and the Arabian Sea in the west as its borders.
- Various branches of the mighty empire, including Vemulavada, Bodhan, and Gujarat, each exercised independent authority while remaining subject to the main Rashtrakuta branch. They have developed a reliable administrative structure, which has contributed significantly to its many characteristics and served as a model for succeeding rulers.
- They have supported Kannada writing, artwork, and construction.