- During the early medieval era, the Senas of Bengal governed through the 11th and 12th centuries. It was a Hindu dynasty.
- The empire ruled over a sizable area of the northeast of the Indian subcontinent at its height. The Sena Dynasty’s emperors were descended from Karnataka, a province in southern India.
- Samanthasena, the founder of the Sena dynasty, was a Brahmaksatriya immigrant, as per the Deopara Prashasti. “Brahma-Kshatriya” implies that Senas of Bengal were Brahmins by caste who chose to become Kshatriyas by taking up arms. According to historian P.N. Chopra, the Baidyas were also likely the kings of Sena.
- The Senas of Bengal joined the Palas’ service in Radha as samantas, most likely under Samantasena. By the end of Vijayasena’s rule, the Palas’ territory had grown to include Vanga and a portion of Varendra.
- Samanta Sena was the founder of the dynasty. Hemanta Sena usurped the throne, proclaimed himself king in 1095 AD, and came after him. His successor, Vijaya Sena, had an unusually long reign of more than 60 years and contributed to establishing the dynasty.
- Ballala Sena expelled the Pala from Gaur, took control of the Bengal Delta, and established Nadia as its capital. After succeeding Ballala Sena in 1179, Lakshmana Sena governed Bengal for almost 20 years. He expanded the Sena Empire to include Odisha, Bihar, and likely Varanasi.
- Ramadevi, a princess of the Western Chalukya Kingdom, was married to Ballala Sena. This shows that the Sena dynasty’s rulers kept close social ties to south India.
- Following the Palas, the Sena family ruled Bengal. Hemantasena, the son of Samantasena established an independent principality.
- Samantasena, its founder, was referred to as a “Brahmakshatriya.”. Samantasena was identified as a Brahmakshatriya. But his successors referred to themselves as Kshatriyas only.
- Vijayasena, the son of Hemantasena, made the family famous during his lengthy rule of more than sixty years. Vijayasena, who started as a small ruler, almost conquered all of Bengal to lay the groundwork for his family’s future supremacy.
- The renowned poet Sriharsha wrote the Vijayaprasasti in honour of Vijayasena. Vijayasena took on the imperial titles Paramesvara, Paramabhattaraka, Maharajadhiraja, and others. He had two capitals, one in Bangladesh at Vikramapura and the other in West Bengal at Vijayapuri.
- Ballatasena, the son of Vijayasena, succeeded his father. The dominions he had inherited from his father were kept intact during his generally quiet reign. Ballalasena excelled in academia.
- The Danasagara and the Adbhutasagara are two of the four works he produced that still exist today.
- The first is a thorough study of portents and omens, while the second is astronomy.
- In AD 1179, he took over as head of the family at the advanced age of sixty. Lakshmanasena faced a sea of issues as his reign came to an end. Internal uprisings had already begun to weaken the Sena power, but Bakhtiyar Khalji’s invasion dealt it a fatal blow.
- The Tabakat-i-Nasiri contains a thorough description of Bakhtiyar Khalji’s invasion. The Tabakat-i-Nasiri includes a detailed explanation of Bakhtiyar Khalji’s attack.
In general, the Pala system of government was maintained under the Senas of Bengal. Even during the Senas, there were still administrative divisions such as Bhuktis, Vishayas, Mandals, etc.
- The names Patakas and Chaturakas, are frequently used in inscriptions and literature from the Sena era.
- The Sena kings adopted King Aswapati, King Narapati, King Rajaprayadhapati, and others. This suggests that the Senas of Bengal gave greater weight to minor administrative divisions. Bhuktipati, Mandalpati, and Vishayapati are common royal officers. Mahamantri was the new title of the Palas’ Prime Minister.
- Evidence shows that the Sena monarchs gave their Queen or Rajmahishi land concessions. The Purohitas and Mahapurohitas were also granted land through official grants. This shows how much respect and importance the Purohitas and Mahapurohitas had attained. Under the Senas of Bengal, the Sandhivigrahika of the Palas adopted the appellation Mahasandhivigrahika.
- The Senas of Bengal appointed Mahamudradhkrita and Mahasarbadhkrita. The highest judge was also known as Mahadharmadhyakshya. Under the Senas of Bengal, the military officers also adopted new names. In this context, Mahapilupati, Mahaganastha, and Mahabyutpati may be mentioned.
- There is a reference to 29 classes of officers under the Senas of Bengal in Iswar Ghosh’s copper plate. There have never been so many different classes or grades of officers in independent Bengal. It must be noted that the basic framework of the Palas’ governance under the Senas of Bengal remained the same.
- During the Sena era, the class of officers known as Pradeshtris, which Kautilya mentions, was also appointed. This demonstrates how the Sena administration was influenced by the Hindu administrative structure.
- Last but not least, it must be noted that the Sena era was also one of peace and prosperity in Bengal’s history. Society, politics, and religion all saw improvements under the Senas of Bengal.
- Lakshmanasena’s rule is notable for encouraging a lot of literary activity. He had a strong Vaishnava faith. At his court, Jayadeva, a well-known Bengali Vaishnava poet and the writer of the Gita Govinda resided.
- Other notable poets who visited his court included Govardhana and Dhoyi, the author of the Pavanaduta.
- The birth of orthodox Hinduism is typically linked to the rule of the Senas of Bengal. This is when it is thought that the persecution of Buddhists in Bengal began, which led to a mass exodus of Buddhists to nearby nations.
- After Sena’s leadership, Buddhism in India fell out of favour. Bhaktiyar Khalji plundered numerous Buddhist universities.
- In 1838 AD, a copper plate was discovered in the Adilpur. The copperplate inscription dates to the third Jyaistha of 1136 sambal, or 1079 A.D., and is inscribed in Sanskrit and Ganda characters.
- According to the copperplate of Keshava Sena, the goddesses of fortune were taken from the enemies by king Vallala Sena. According to a copperplate report, a Brahman received three villages in the third year of the Keshava Sena. The grant came with landlord powers. It included the authority to punish the tribe known as the Chandrabhandas or Sundarbans, who resided in the jungle. The land was awarded in the shatata-padamavati-visaya village of Leliya, which is part of the Kumaratalaka mandala.
- The king granted Nitipathaka Isvaradeva Sarman a grant for the interior of the subha-varsha. It mentions the construction of pillars of victory and sacrifice posts built by Vallala Sena’s son Lakshmana Sena. The copperplate also describes Bengali dance and music.
Senas of Bengal Sculpture
Many sculptures depicting Hindu gods and goddesses are a part of the creative movement that was started by the Sena monarchs (c 1097-1223 AD).
- The style index for Sena sculptures is provided by two dated images. First, Sadasiva from Rajibpur, Dinajpur, was engraved during the reign of Gopala III. And the other of Chandi from Dalbazar, Dhaka, was inscribed during the third year of Laksmanasena. The profusion of ornamental motifs appears to have overtaken the stone sculpture of this time. Although passionate, the modelling of the body is still maintained.
- Nonetheless, a few Sena-era freestanding images show bold and superior modelling. In this context, the enormous stone head of Visnu from Padumshahar Tank and the stone torso of Garuda from Malda may be mentioned.
- The best illustration of such a sculpture is the stone representation of Ardhanarishvara. The entire carving is shaped like a circle, with Shiva’s characteristics on the right and Uma’s on the left. The stone statue of Apitakucha from Vikrampur is another composite sculpture from the era.
Coinage Of Senas of Bengal
- The Senas of Bengal was a powerful ruling dynasty in Bengal’s historical past. The Sena texts frequently refer to many types of currency, including Purana, Dharan, and Dramma. These phrases were used to refer to a karshapan weighing scale or a silver coin that weighed 32 ratis.
- The coin is called “Karpadak,” and “Purana” is undoubtedly a type of silver coin. A medium of exchange with quality comparable to a Purana or silver coin but calculated by the fractional denominator is called a “kapardaka-purana.”
- Instead of one silver coin, the Bengali traditional arithmetic table had 1260 cowries. In other words, the Purana and the Kapardaka have a 1: 1280 ratio. In excavations at Paharpur and Kalgang, solid proof of the widespread use of cowrie in early medieval Bengal has been discovered.
- In Bengal in the early medieval period, cowries were widely used, and valuable coinage was scarce. For a long time, academics have tried to explain why coins now have certain virtual constraints.
- After the reign of its last capable king, “Lakshmana Sena,” the Sena Dynasty showed obvious signs of depletion. The heirs did not indicate that they intended to continue and grow the dynasty. They shared the previous monarchs’ major lack of interest in the burgeoning arts, cultures, and religions.
- They were taking part in activities that sought comfort and enjoyment. This was used by “Bakhtiyar khilji” of the “Ghurid Empire,” who successfully invaded and later took control of the Sena Dynasty’s capital.