The Yadava Dynasty or Seuna dynasty (12th and 13th century) ruled a kingdom stretching from the Tungabhadra to the Narmada rivers, including present-day Maharashtra, north Karnataka, and parts of Madhya Pradesh, from its capital at Devagiri (present-day Daulatabad).
The earliest historical ruler of the Seuna/Yadava dynasty can be traced back to the mid-9th century but little is known about their early history, their 12th-century court poet Hemadri records the names of the family’s early rulers.
During this time, the Marathi language emerged as the dominant language in the dynasty’s inscriptions. Prior to this, the primary languages of their inscriptions were Kannada and Sanskrit.
Hemadri’s traditional genealogy of the Yadavas traces their descent from Visnu, the Creator and Yadu were his later descendants.
The dynasty’s first historically attested ruler is Dridhaprahara (860-880 AD), who is credited with founding the city of Chandradityapura (modern Chandor). He was a feudatory of Chalukyas.
The Yadavas initially ruled as feudatories of the Western Chalukyas. Around the middle of the 12th century, as the Chalukya power waned, the Yadava king Bhillama V declared independence.
Bhillama forced Ballala to retreat around 1187, conquered the former Chalukya capital Kalyani, and declared himself a sovereign ruler.
He then founded the city of Devagiri, which became the new Yadava capital.
The Yadava kingdom reached its peak under Simhana II, and flourished until the early 14th century, when it was annexed by the Khalji dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate in 1308 CE.
Rulers of Yadava Dynasty
Bhillama (1173 – 1191 AD)
Bhillama ( 1175-1191 CE) was the first sovereign ruler of India’s Yadava (Seuna) dynasty in the Deccan region.
Bhillama’s father was Karna and grandfather was the Yadava ruler Mallugi.
Around 1175 CE, he seized the Yadava throne, deposing his uncle’s descendants and a usurper.
He ruled as a nominal vassal of the Chalukyas of Kalyani for the next decade, raiding Gujarat’s Chalukya and Paramara territories.
After the Chalukya power fell, he declared sovereignty around 1187 CE and fought with the Hoysala king Ballala II for control of the former Chalukya territory in present-day Karnataka.
He defeated Ballala in a battle at Soratur around 1189 CE, but Ballala defeated him two years later.
In 1190, he took over the Chalukya capital of Kalyani and established Devagiri (now Daulatabad) as the Yadava dynasty’s capital.
Bhillama was referred to as “Chakravartin Yadava” in the Mutugi inscription from 1189-90 CE (1111 Shaka) records.
He patronised the scholar Bhaskara, who was Nagarjuna’s teacher.
Singhana II (1200-1246 AD)
Singhana II (1200-1246 AD) was the most powerful ruler of the Yadavas.
Singhana II was born in Sinnar in 1186. His mother was Bhagirathibai and his father was Jaitugidev.
He was crowned as his father’s heir in 1200, and later he was crowned again in 1210 to commemorate his conquest of the Hoysala territories.
During his reign, the Yadava empire reached its pinnacle. Neither the Hoysalas, nor the Kakatiyas, nor the Paramaras and Calukyas dared to challenge his Deccan dominance.
Singhana attacked and defeated each of these powers.
Sarangadeva, the author of Sangita Ratnakar, worked as an accountant in Singhana II’s court.
Sangeet Ratnakara is widely regarded as one of the most important works on Hindustani and Classical music.
Two famous astrologers, Cangadeva (established an astrological college) and Anantadeva (wrote commentaries on Brahmagupta’s Brahmasphutasiddhanta and Varahamihira’s Brhajjataka), flourished in Sinhana’s court.
Singhana II was succeeded by his grandson Krishna.
Raja Ramchandrahbl (1291-1309 AD)
Ramachandra was the Yadava ruler Krishna’s son.
Ramachandra was presumably quite young at the time of Krishna’s death in 1260 CE, therefore his uncle (Krishna’s brother) Mahadeva ascended the throne.
After conducting a coup in the capital Devagiri, he usurped the throne from his cousin Ammana and became the next monarch around 1270 CE.
Ramachandra appears to have engaged in battles with his north-western neighbours, the Vaghelas of Gurjara, during the northern war against the Paramaras.
He enlarged his empire by fighting the Paramaras, Hoysalas, Vaghelas and Kakatiyas, all of whom were Hindus.
He faced a Muslim invasion from the Delhi Sultanate in 1296 AD, and made peace by promising to pay an annual tribute to Alauddin Khalji.
In 1308 AD, Alauddin Khalji dispatched a force to Ramachandra, led by his general Malik Kafur. Kafur’s army overpowered Ramchandra’s army and imprisoned him in Delhi.
Ramachandra was a famous Shiva (maha-maheshvara) devotee who anointed eight Shiva images “with the milk of his glory.”
The administration of the Yadava Dynasty was similar to that of the other Deccan kingdoms.
The form of government was a hereditary monarchy.
Yadavas had a strong bureaucracy in place to support the administration.
King used to consult his ministers prior to issuing any land charter.
Although the monarch is the most important member of the political body, ancient political thinkers saw the Ministry or a council of advisers as a significant organ of the state.
The Yadavas appear to have a smaller ministry, with 5 or 7 members at times.
In ministry, Mahapradhana was a powerful minister who was usually in charge of a province or even a district.
Rajaguru was most likely the royal preceptor, counselling the monarch on religious matters.
Lakshmipati was the minister in charge of the treasury.
Mudraprabhu, the officer in charge of seals, Kusumarachanadhyaksha, the superintendent of floral arrangements, the commander of hill forts, and the royal hunter, are among the other royal officers of the court.
Under the Yadava dynasty, effective military commanders, known as nayakas, were selected to head the provinces.
Feudatories were also an extremely common addition to this.
The lowest administrative unit was the village, which was run by the local panchayat under a headman.
The brahmadeya system was still in place, and the temples had some influence over politics and the economy.
The Yadavas Empire’s subjects looked up to their emperor or king as the ultimate authority who was expected to look after them and uphold current social justice, order, and peace.
For day-to-day matters, however, there were guilds or co-operatives that would settle any disputes according to custom, and if the case could not be resolved, it was brought to the attention of a higher authority.
The guilds generally followed the prevailing rules and regulations of a specific group or caste, deviating only in exceptional circumstances.
Based on profession, the society was divided into various castes. The dominant castes had their own set of rules, regulations, and customs that they strictly adhered to.
The Yadavas rulers were tolerant of all religions and the society was generally accepting of people of different faiths.
The Brahmans were the most powerful of the four castes. In practise, the Kshatriyas’ privileges were equal to those of the Brahmanas. The Vaishyas’ status had deteriorated significantly.
The Sudras’ position improved dramatically during this time period.
The Bhakti movements led by Nayanrs and Alvars, which preached equality of man with man, helped to bridge the gap between the upper and lower castes.
The untouchables had become ostracized from mainstream society.
The joint family system was the norm. Widows and daughters were recognised as property heirs. Therefore, the social structure was intact during Yadavas.
Agriculture continued to receive the king’s attention in the economic sphere as before.
Yadava rulers worked to make additional land available for farming.
For irrigation, dams and tanks were built.
The size of the demand for land revenue was not determined with certainty.
Forests, mines, and other land were also claimed by the state as its own, and taxes were levied on them.
Other sources of government revenue included customs and merchandise taxes.
Taxes were levied under the Yadavas on the ownership of specific items such as horses, bandis (horse carriages), and banisas (slaves).
The economy was well-diversified, with a wide range of crops grown. Cotton, chay (red dye), sugarcane, and oil seeds paid a higher rate of land revenue and had to be paid in cash, thus being referred to as cash crops or superior crops.
Guilds were formed to organise trades and industries. They used to regulate trade and industry as well as to conduct banking transactions.
There were also the service workers, such as the ironsmith, carpenter, rope maker, potter, leather worker, barber, washermen, village watchman, and so on.
Jainism continued to get royal support even though Buddhism was already on the decline. The standing of the Jainas was somewhat impacted by the growth of the Virasaiva sect.
The Mahanubhavas, devotees of the Hindu god Krishna, were the new religious sect to emerge in the Seuna nation.
The god Dattatreya is typically credited with founding this religion; however, in 1273, Chakradhara created the Mahanubhava sect after achieving self-realization.
The bhakti movement linked to Sri Vitthala or Panduranga in Pandharpur became more well-known in the Deccan by the end of the 13th century.
The Yadava dynasty in India significantly influenced the growth of Sanskrit literature. The eminent mathematician and astronomer Bhaskaracharya’s family belong to this time.
Mahesvara (sometimes referred to as Kavisvara), the father of Bhaskaracharya, produced Sekhara and Laghutika, two books on astrology.
Of the several writings of Bhaskaracharya, Siddhanta Siromani (written in 1150) and Karanakutuhala are the most well-known.
Sarangadeva, who resided in Simhana’s palace, was the composer of the well-known musical piece Sangitaratnakara.
Hemadri was the most well-known author of the Yadava Dynasty. Of his many writings, those on Dharmasastra have been regarded as reliable in more recent times.
His book Chaturvarga Chintamani is a collection of rituals and religious customs. In addition to being a prolific writer of the time, Hemadri gives us important details regarding the dynasty’s past.
An important era in the development of Marathi literature is the Seuna period.
The first existing book in this language is called Vivekasindhu, which was written by Mukundaraja and explains the Advaita school of thought.
Saint-poet Dnyaneshwar wrote Dnyaneshwari, a Marathi-language commentary on the Bhagavad Gita.
The abhyanga, or devotional songs, written by saint poets like Namadeva, Muktabayi, and others significantly enhanced Marathi literature.
The Sisupalavadha of Bhanubhata, the Rukminisvayamvara of Narendrapandita, the Nalopakhyana of Nrisimhakesari, and the Lilacharita of Mahendra are among the literary works (mainly on religious matters) that should be highlighted.
The Gondeshwar temple is a Hindu temple in Sinnar, Maharashtra, India, that dates from the 11th to 12th centuries.
With the main temple dedicated to Shiva and four auxiliary shrines dedicated to Surya, Vishnu, Parvati, and Ganesha, it has a Panchayatana plan.
The Gondeshwar temple was constructed during the reign of the Yadava dynasty, though no exact dates have been found, and is thought to be from the 11th or 12th centuries.
Devagiri Fort was built during the reign of the Yadavas. It is considered as one of the strongest forts in India.
Decline of Yadavas
The last prominent ruler was Ramachandra.
After the attacks by Alauddin Khalji, Ramchandra became weak and finally in 1308 AD, Alauddin Khalji launched a force to Ramachandra, led by his general Malik Kafur.
Malik Kafur’s army beat the Yadava prince’s army and carried Ramachandra to Delhi.
Alauddin regarded Ramachandra with respect in Delhi, and he was reinstalled as a vassal in Devagiri.
Simhana III (Shankaradeva) was his son, who was defeated and killed after an unsuccessful rebellion against Alauddin Khalji.