Pala Empire

Pala Empire

Infobox Former Country
native_name =
conventional_long_name = Pala Empire
common_name = Pala Empire
continent = Asia
region =
country =
era = Middle Ages
status =
event_start = Gopala is elected king in a democratic election
year_start = 750
date_start =
event1 =
date_event1 =
event_end =
year_end = 1174
date_end =
p1 =
flag_p1 =
s1 = Sena dynasty
flag_s1 =

flag_type =

image_map_caption = Pala Empire at its height under Devapala.
capital = Pataliputra
common_languages = Bengali
religion = Buddhism
government_type = Monarchy
leader1 = Gopala
year_leader1 = 750 - 1770
leader2 = Govindapala
year_leader2 = 1162 - 1174
title_leader = King
legislature =

The Pala Empire was a dynasty in control of the northern and eastern Indian subcontinent, mainly the Bengal and Bihar regions, from the 8th to the 12th century. The name "Pala" (Modern _bn. পাল "pal") means "protector" and was used as an ending to the names of all Pala monarchs.

The founder of the empire was Gopala. He was the first independent Buddhist king of Bengal and came to power in 750 in Gaur by democratic election, which was unique at the time. He reigned from 750-770 and consolidated his position by extending his control over all of Bengal. His successors Dharmapala (r. 770-810) and Devapala (r. 810-850) expanded the empire across the northern and eastern Indian subcontinent. The Pala Empire eventually disintegrated in the 12th century under the attack of the Sena dynasty.

The Palas were followers of the Mahayana and Tantric schools of Buddhism. They often intermarried with the Gahadvalas of the Kannauj region. They created many temples and works of art and supported the Universities of Nalanda and Vikramashila. Their proselytism was at the origin of the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet.

Origin of the Palas

The origin of the Palas is not clearly stated in any of the numerous Pala records. It is also very curious to note that whereas the identity of the Kamboja Pala rulers of Bengal has been referred to "twice" and is indisputably connected to the Kamboja ethnicity, that of the Palas has nowhere been specifically stated in any of the Pala traditions in numerous of their Grants, Charters and Inscriptions (Dr D. C. Sircar). According to "Manjuśree Mūlakalpa", Gopala I was a "Śudra" [The History and Culture of the Pālas of Bengal and Bihar, Cir. 750 A.D.-cir ..., 1939, p 37, Jhunu Bagchi - History.] [See also: Indian Antiquary, Vol IV, 1875, pp 365-66; Corpus of Bengal Inscriptions, Mukerjee and Maity, p 11; Caste and Chronology of the Pala kings of Bengal, J. C. Ghosh, The Indian Historical Quarterly, IX, 1983, pp 487-90; The Caste of the Palas, The Indian Culture, Vol IV, 1939, pp 113-14, B Chatterji; Social Change in Modern India, 1995, p 9, M N Srinivas; Modern India: An Interpretive Antholog, 1971, p 115, Thomas R. Metcalf - History.] . "Balla-Carita" says that the "The Palas were low-born Ksatriyas". Tibetan Historian Taranatha Lama, in his "History of Buddhism in India" and Ghanarama, in his "Dharma Mangala", (both of 16th century CE), also give the same story [ Indian Culture, 1934, p 113, Indian Research Institute - India; Paradise of Gods, 1966, p 174, Qamarud Din Ahmed - West Pakistan (Pakistan).] ["The Palas were at first known as Sudras. With the rise of their power they began to claim a Ksatria lineage"(Indian Culture, 1934, p 113, Indian Research Institute - India.] . Arabic accounts tell us that Palas were not kings of noble origin [Akhbar, p 13, Sauveget; Studies in The Geography of the Ancient and Medieval India, 1971, p 145, Dr D. C. Sircar.] . According to Abu Fazal (Ain-i-Akbari), Palas were Kayasthas [Ibid, Jhunnu Bagchi.] . Khalimpur Plate of Dharmapala, son of Gopala I (the founder of the dynasty), states that Gopala was a son of a warrior ("Khanditarat") Vapyata and grandson of a highly educated ("Saryavidyavadat") Dayitavishnu [Epigraphia Indica, Vol IV, p 243ff; Gaudalekhamala, p 9, A. K. Maitreya.] . "Ramachrita" of "Sandhyakaranandi" attests Pala king Ramapala as a Kshatriya [ Ramachrita I.17.] , but in another portion of the same text, Dharmapala is described as "Smudrakula-dipa" i.e of the ocean race [ Ibid, Jhunnu Bagchi.] , though, the reason why the origin of the Palas has been ascribed to the Sea remains obsecure [Some Historical Aspects of the Inscriptions of Bengal: Pre-Muhammadan Epochs, 1934, p 307, Dr Benoychandra Sen - Bengal (India).] . In the "Udaya-sundari-katha", a "Champu-Kavya", written by "Soddhala" in the eleventh century, Pala king Dharmapala is said to have belonged to the family of Mandhata of the Ikshvaku line which is known to belong to solar race [A Socio-political and Economic Study, Northern India, 1990, p 63.] [Prabha Chandra Sen has tried to reconcile the two theories of the "Solar origin" and "Samudrakula (Ocean) origin" by saying that Samudra was son of the illustrious Pauranic king Sagara of Kosala (A Socio-political and Economic Study, Northern India, 1990, p 63, Jai Narayan Asopa). But son of Sagara was Asamanja and not Samudra (See: Genealogy of Ikshvaku in Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, 1922, p 147, Dr P. E. Pargiter). Moreover, why did the Pala lineage not start from king Sagara, father of Samudra, who was very illustrious in the line of the Ikshvakus, rather than the little known Samudra? Obviously, the hypothesis is unconvincing and has no value at all.] .. In a commentary of "Astasāhasrika-Prajňāpāramitā" of Haribhadra, Pala king Dharmapala is described as "Rajabhatādibamspatita", which some writers have tried to interpret as "Rajvatt-Vamsa-Patit", and therefore, try to relate Dharamapala to Rajvatt, the son of Devakhadga of the Khadga dynasty of Bengal. But there is sharp difference of opinion about the real meaning of the expression [See: The History and Culture of the Pālas of Bengal and Bihar, Cir. 750 A.D.-cir ..., 1993, p 37, Jhunu Bagchi] [The Early History of Bengal: From the Earliest Times to the Muslim Conquest, 1993, p 33, Pramode Lal Paul - Bengal (India).] [A Socio-political and Economic Study, Northern India , 1990, p 62, Jai Narayan Asopa - India; Cf: Indian Culture, 1934, p 797, Indian Research Institute - India.] and it has not been met with approval among the scholar community. It has also been proposed that the ancestor of the Palas were born of a Ksatriya mother [Indian Culture, 1934, p 113, Indian Research Institute.] . The "Kamauli Copper Plate" inscription of king "Vaidyadeva" of Kamarupa (Assam) [See: Gaudalekhamala, pp 127-146, A. K. Maitreya.] indisputably connects the Palas to the Kshatriyas of "Mihirasya vamsa" ("Surya lineage"). [See some refs: Epigraphia Indica, XXIV, p 43, Dr N. G. Majumdar; The History and Culture of the Pālas of Bengal and Bihar, Cir. 750 A.D.-cir ..., 1003, p 37, Jhunu Bagchi - History; The Dacca University Studies, 1935, p 131, University of Dacca; Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 316, Dr J. L. Kamboj; Late Classical India, 1988, p 25, Mainak Kumar Bose - India; History of Ancient Bengal, 1971, p 427, Ramesh Chandra Majumdar - Bengal (India).] .

Since Mihira means Sun or Sun worshipper, the expression Mihirasya implies "connected with or relating to the Sun or Sun Worship" (Sanskrit Mitra, Persian Mithira = > Mihira = Sun). According to "Bhavishya Purana", the Mihira lineage originated from the union of Nishkubha, daughter of Rsi Rijihva and the Sun (Mihira) [Dr D. R. Bhandarkar, Dr Buddha Parkash.] . From this wedlock was born a sage called "Zarashata", who apparently is Zoroaster of the Iranian traditions. "Mihirasya Vamsa" means "Mihira Vamsa" which is also found written as "Mihirkula" i.e lineage of the Sun-worshippers. The reference to "Mihirasya vamsa" as being the lineage of the Palas of Bengal as attested independently by the Kamauli Grant of king "Vaidyadeva" of Assam holds a probable clue that the Palas may have come from the Sun-Worshipping lineage i.e Iranian or Zoroastrian line of the Kambojas. [Bryant cites Hesychius (6th century CE): "MiqraV o hlioV para PersaiV" ("Mithras, the sun of Persia") and "MiqrhV o protoV en PersaiV QeoV" ("Mithres, the first god in Persia."). Hesychius thus confirms not only the solar nature but also the /Persian/ origin of Mithra, still known in his day.] [ The priests of Mithra, and of Iranian Sun and Fire worship in general, were the Magi or Magas. The Magas entered India on a number of occasions over a period of centuries, prior to and during the common era. At this point, Indian Sun worship became increasingly formalized, with elaborate rituals, temples and images sprouting up and from the 6th century CE onward, royal names began to have "Mihira" (Mithra) in them after a millennium of integration (or reintegration) into Indian culture. ] .

The fact that Gopala I, the founder of the so-called Pala dynasty has also been branded as Śudra [Op cit., p 37, Jhunu Bagchi; Indian Antiquary, Vol IV, 1875, pp 365-66; Corpus of Bengal Inscriptions, Mukerjee and Maity, p 11; Caste and Chronology of the Pala kings of Bengal, J. C. Ghosh, The IHQ, IX, 1983, pp 487-90; The Caste of the Palas, The Indian Culture, Vol IV, 1939, pp 113-14, B Chatterji; Social Change in Modern India, 1995, p 9, M N Srinivas; Modern India: An Interpretive Antholog, 1971, p 115, Thomas R. Metcalf - History.] , may also carry a clue to their connections to the Kamboja lineage as the Kambojas have also been branded as Vrishalas ("fallen Kshatriyas or Śudras") in Hindu texts like Manu Smriti, Mahabharata, Harivamsha and numerous Puranas [ Manusmriti X.43-44; Mahabharata 13.33.20-21, Harivamsa 14.1-19 etc etc.] . Also from the fact that Gopala's grandfather was a "highly learned man", and his father "a warrior", and further as Gopala I is said to have been elected to the throne of Bengal, he therefore, was definitely not initially of a royal blood of Bengal. Some surmise that he may have been from a Brahmin lineage [Al-Hind, the Making of the Indo-Islamic World, 1990, p 265, André Wink; History of Medieval India, 1940, p 20, fn, Ishwari Prasad - India.] but since the Palas are called Śudras as well as Ksatriyas, these references qualify them more as the Indo-Iranian Kambojas than of any other lineage. Moreover, ancient Indian traditions sufficiently attest the scholarship and learning of the Kambojas who excelled in education and produced many outstanding teachers and sages in ancient and medieval times. See: Brahmanism of the Kambojas

"Ramachrita" of "Sandhyakaranandi" also attests that Varendri or North Bengal was the fatherland ("Janakabhu") of the Palas. In the Bangarh copper plate inscription of Mahipala, it has been stated that Mahipala recovered his Fatherland ("Rajyam Pitram") from his enemies which apparently was North Bengal that was occupied by the Kambojas [ This is usual interpretation.] . But if the Palas and Kamboja-Palas were same family, then this may have totally different interpretation and meaning ["According to second interpretation, the Palas have also been conjectured to be from the Kamboja lineage and the Rajyapala II of the so-called Pala dynasty of Bengal and the "Kamboja-vamsa-tilaka" Rajayapla of the Irda Copper Plate may have been one and the same historical per4sonage as Dr N. G. Majumdar, Dr Chandra Chakraberty and some other scholars have surmised. This assumption may lead to different interpretation of the Dinajpore Inscription and hence to a new Pala and Kamboja identity.] [See: The Early History of Bengal: From the Earliest Times to the Muslim Conquest, 1939, p 82, Pramode Lal Paul - Bengal (India).] .

One section of scholars like Dr N. G. Majumdar [ See: The Modern Review, 1937, pp 323-24, N. G. Majumdar; See also: Quotation by Dr H. C. Ray, Indian Historical Quarterly, XV-4, December 1939, p 110, fn 11; Also quoted by Dr J. L. Kamboja in his Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 323; Quoted in: 'The Modern Review, 1907, p 440, by Ramananda Chatterjee - India; See also: Indian Historical Quarterly, 1963, p 508-09.] , Chandra Chakrabarty [See: The Racial History of India, 1944, p 834, Chandra Chakraberty - Ethnology.] , E. Vassey Westmarcott [Palas of Bengal, Calcutta Review, 1874, p 95 sqq, E. Vassey Westmarcott.] etc consider that the so-called Pala Rulers of Bengal actually belonged to the Kamboja lineage. Dr N. G. Majumdar, the original editor of "Irda Copper plate", had initially thought that the Pala Dynasty and the Kambboja Pala dynasty were two separate dynasties, but later on, modified his views in light of new discoveries which demonstrated that king "Rajyapala-II" of the so-called Pala dynasty, like king "Rajyapala of the Irda Copper Plate", was found as adorned with religious epithet of "Parama-saugata" (devoted Buddhist) as well as imperial title of "Maharajadhiraja". [Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 316-17; Dr J. L. Kamboj; See also Quotation of Dr H. C. Ray, Indian Historical Quarterly, XV-4, December 1939, p 110, fn 11, quoted by Dr J. L. Kamboja in his Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 323.] Based on this new evidence and the earlier similarities, "Dr N. G. Majumdar, had accordingly changed his views and got inclined to identify the Pala Dynasty of Bengal with the Kambojas, thereby, also dispelling the earlier views on the origin of the Pala kings of Bengal" [Quoted in: 'The Modern Review, 1907, p 440, by Ramananda Chatterjee - India.] .

Dr H. C. Ray however, has advised a policy of 'wait' till the discovery of more powerful evidence before we can say that the Pala dynasty and the Kamboja Pala Dynasty belonged to the Kamboja race. He oberserved: "I can only suggest that we must wait for more definite proof before we can say that the Palas were Kambojas" [See: The Indian Historical Quarterly, 1963, p 511; Indian Historical Quarterly, XV-4, December 1939, p 110, fn 11, Dr H. C. Ray] . Dr Ramananda Chatterjee writes that "as regards the Kamboja origin of the Pala, one cannot be definite in the present state of our knowledge" [ The Modern Review, 1907, p 324, Ramananda Chatterjee - India.] . Dr J. L. Kamboj cautions that if we identify Rajyapala of the Pala Dynasty with the Rajyapala of the 'Irda Copper Plate', then we will have no option other than to accept that the Pala Dynasty of Bengal had sprang from the Kamboja race [Prācīna Kamboja, jana aura janapada =: Ancient Kamboja, people and country, 1981, p 356, Dr Jiyālāla Kāmboja, Dr Satyavarti Sastri - Kamboja (Pakistan); See also: The Modern Review, 1907, p 324, Dr Ramananda Chatterjee.] . Dr R. C. Majumdar advises that if we identify the "Kamboja-vamsa-tilaka Rajyapala" of the Irda Copper plate with the Rajyapala of the Pala dynasty, then we must also accept that after Rajyapla, the Pala empire had split up into two [The History of Bengal, Vol I, p 127 Dr R. C. Majumdar] . Dr R. C. Majumdar further advises that "although the presumption about the identity (of the Palas with the Kambojas) is certainly a reasonable one, the evidence in favor of it can not be regarded as conclusive.." [ History of Ancient Bengal, 1971, p 172, Dr R. C. Majumdar - Bengal (India); cf: Dacca University Studies, Vol I, No 2, p 131; ff.] .

See: "Pala Dynasty vs Kamboja-Pala Dynasty' in Kamboja Dynasty of Bengal

It is plausible that the ancestors of the Palas may have settled settled in Vanga and later moved to Varendra (North Bengal) or Varendra which became the capital of the newly born empire during the reign of Gopala.

Matsyanyaya and the ascendancy of the Palas

After Shashanka Bengal was shrouded in obscurity and was shattered by repeated invasions. Jayavardhana of the Shaila Dynasty from Central India invaded Bengal and killed the king of Pundra (730 CE). Yasovarmana (725-752) of Kanauj killed the king of Magadha and Gauda. Later Lalitaditya (724-760) of Kashmir who defeated Yasovarmana invaded Bengal. Sri Harsha of Kamarupa conquered Anga, Vanga, Kalinga, Odra. The social and political structure of Bengal was devastated. According to Lama Taranath: Every single Brahman, every Kshatriya, every Elite became all powerful in their areas and surrounding regions. This condition has been described by Taranath as Matsyanyam (Eating of small fish by the big fish) or the Dark Age of Bengal. Disgusted at the situation the desperate people of Bengal made a bold move which marked a glorious period in the history of the sub-continent. They elected Gopala, a popular military leader, as their king by a Democratic Election which was probably the only democratic election in medieval India.


After Harsha Vardhana, Buddhism faced the possibility of extinction. Buddhists were persecuted all over India and Buddhism was gradually being absorbed by Hinduism. The Palas emerged as the champion of Buddhism, and they patronized Mahayana Buddhism. The Pala universities of Vikramashila and Nalanda became seats of learning for East Asia. The famous university of Nalanda reached its height during the Pala empire. The Palas were responsible for the spread of Mahayana Buddhism in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and the Indonesian archipelago, and the fame of Bengal spread in the Buddhist world for the cultivation of Buddhist religion, culture and other knowledge in the various centres that grew under the patronage of the Pala rulers.Buddhist scholars from the Pala empire travelled from Bengal to the Far-East and propagated Buddhism. A few outstanding ones among them are Shantarakshit, Padmanava, Dansree, Bimalamitra, Jinamitra, Muktimitra, Sugatasree, Dansheel, Sambhogabajra, Virachan, Manjughosh and many others.But the most prominent was Atish Dipankar Srigyan who reformed Buddhism in Tibet after it had been destroyed by king Langdharma.

Main Pala rulers

*Gopala (750-770)
*Dharmapala (770-810)
*Devapala (810-850)
*Shurapala/Mahendrapala (850 - 854)
*Vigrahapala (854 - 855)
*Narayanapala (855 - 908)
*Rajyapala (908 - 940)
*Gopala II (940-960)
*Vigrahapala II (960 - 988)
*Mahipala (988 - 1038)
*Nayapala (1038 - 1055)
*Vigrahapala III (1055 - 1070)
*Mahipala II (1070 - 1075)
*Shurapala II (1075 - 1077)
*Ramapala (1077 - 1130)
*Kumarapala (1130 - 1140)
*Gopala III (1140 - 1144)
*Madanapala (1144 - 1162)
*Govindapala (1162 - 1174)

Peace and Expansion

Gopala ended the period of anarchy by installing peace and prosperity in the country. Pala kings devoted themselves in public welfare and social reform. The Palas adopted the policy of religious toleration and co-existence of the Buddhists and the Hindus. Pala kings won the heart of the people by welfare activities like digging tanks establishing towns and took place in many folklores in the rural areas of Bengal. The "Mahipala Geet" (Songs of Mahipala) is still popular in the rural areas.

Palas adopted aggressive policy and began a period of expansion. At its height Dharmapala's empire stretched from Bengal as far as Afghanistan. Devapala extended the boundaries of the empire further to Assam, Kamboja and the Southern tip of Deccan-the feat only achieved by Asoka. The successors of Devapala had to contend with the Gurjara-Pratihara and the Rashtrakutas for the supremacy of northern India. After Narayanpala the Pala empire declined but was revived by vigorous rules of Mahipala and Ramapala.

Pala administration

Pala rule was Monarchial.King or Monarch was the centre of all power. Pala kings would adopt titles like "Parameshwar", "paramvattaraka", "Maharajadhiraja". Pala kings appointed Prime Ministers. The Line of Garga served as the Prime Ministers of the Palas for 10 years.Garga
Vatt GuravmisraPala Empire was divided into separate Vuktis (Provinces), Vuktis into Vishaya(Divisions) and then Mandala (Districts)Pala. Smaller units were "Khandala", "Bhaga", "Avritti", "Chaturaka", and Pattaka. Administration covered widespread area from the grass root level to the imperial court. The Pala copperplates mention following administrative posts:"Raja", "Rajanyaka", "Rajanaka", "Ranaka", "Samanta" and "Mahasamanta" (Vassal kings), "Mahasandhi-vigrahika" (Foreign minister), "Duta"(Head ambassador), "Rajasthaniya" (Deputy), "Aggaraksa" (Chief guard), "Sasthadhikrta" (Tax collector), "Chauroddharanika" (Police tax), "Shaulkaka" (Trade tax), "Dashaparadhika" (Collector of penalties), and "Tarika" (Toll collector for river crossings),"Mahaksapatalika" (Accountant) "Jyesthakayastha" (Dealing documents), the "Ksetrapa" (Head of land use division) and "Pramatr" (Head of land measurements), the "Mahadandanayaka" or "Dharmadhikara" (Chief justice), the "Mahapratihara", "Dandika", "Dandapashika", and "Dandashakti" (Police forces), "Khola" (Secret service), Agricultural posts like "Gavadhakshya" (Head of dairy farms), "Chhagadhyakshya" (Head of goat farms), "Meshadyakshya" (Head of sheep farms), "Mahishadyakshya" (Head of Buffalo farms) and many other like "Vogpati", "Vishayapati", "Shashtadhikruta", "Dauhshashadhanika", "Nakadhyakshya"(Aviation ministry?) etc.

Pala Literature

The proto-Bangla language was born during the reign of the Palas. The Buddhist texts of the Charyapada were the earliest form of Bangla language. This Proto-Bangla language was used as the official language in Tibet, Myanmar, Java and Sumatra. Books on every aspect of knowledge were compiled during the Pala Rule. On philosophy: "Agaman Shastra" by Gaudapada, "Nyay Kundali" by Sridhar Vatt, "Karmanushthan Paddhati" by Vatt Vabadeva; On Medicine: "Chikitsa Sangraha", "Ayurvedidwipika", "Vanumati", "Shabdachandrika", "Dravya Gunasangraha" by Chakrapani Dutt; "Shabda-Pradip", "Vrikkhayurveda", "Lohpaddhati" by Sureshwar; "Chikitsa Sarsangraha" by Vangasen; "Sushrata" by Gadadha Vaidya; "Daybhaga", "Byabohar-Matrika", "Kalvivek" by Jimutvahan etc. Atisha compiled more than 200 books. The great epic Ramacharitam written by Sandhyakar Nandi the court poet of Madanpala was another masterpiece of the Pala literature. The Pala copperplate inscriptions were of excellent literary value. This distinctive inscriptions were called "Gaudya Style".

Pala art and architecture

The most brilliant side of the Pala Empire was the excellence of its art and sculptures. Palas created a distinctive form of Buddhist art known as the "Pala School of Sculptural Art." The gigantic structures of Vikramshila Vihar, Odantpuri Vihar, and Jagaddal Vihar were masterpieces of the Palas. These mammoth structures were mistaken by the forces of Bakhtiar Khilji as fortified castles and were demolished. The Somapura Mahaviharaa, a creation of Dharmapala, at Paharpur, Bangladesh, is the largest Buddhist Vihara in the Indian subcontinent, and has been described as a "pleasure to the eyes of the world." UNESCO made it World Heritage Site in 1985. Sompur Bihara, also built by Dharmapala, is a monastery with 21 acre (85,000 m²) complex has 177 cells, numerous stupas, temples and a number of other ancillary buildings. In 1985, the UN included the Sompur Bihara site in the world Cultural Heritage list. The Pala architectural style was followed throughout south-eastern Asia and China, Japan, and Tibet. Bengal rightfully earned the name "Mistress of the East". Dr.Stella Kramrisch says: "The art of Bihar and Bengal exercised a lasting influence on that of Nepal, Burma,Ceylon and Java. Dhiman and Vittpala were two celebrated Pala sculptors. About Sompura Mahavihara, Mr.J.C. French says with grief: "For the research of the Pyramids of Egypt we spend millions of dollars every year. But had we spent only one percent of that money for the excavation of Sompura Mahavihara, who knows what extraordinary discoveries could have been made."---"The Art of the Pala Empire or Bengal," p.4.

Pala foreign relations

Palas came in contact with distant lands through their conquests and trades.The Sailendra Empire of Java, Sumatra and Malaya was a colony of the Palas. Devapala granted five villages at the request of the Sailendra king Balputradeva of Java for the upkeepment of the matha established at Nalanda for the scholars of that country. The Prime minister of the Balputradeva was from Gauda. Dharmapala who extended his empire to the boundary of the Abbasid Empire had diplomatic relations with the caliph Harun Al-Rashid. Coins of Harun-al-Rashid have been found in Mahasthangarh. Palas maintained diplomatic and religious relation with Tibet. During the military expeditions of the Pala kings the Pala generals would establish kingdoms of their own in Punjab and Afghanistan. "When the writer (Mr.French) was in the Punjab hill states recently he came across a curious and unexpected echo of the Pal Dynasty. There is a strong and continuous tradition that the ruling families in certain states are descended from the "Rajas of Gaur in Bengal". These states are Suket, Keonthal, Kashtwar and Mandi. In the ancient Rajput states tradition has immense force and accuracy. Of Kashtwar it is related that Kahan pal — the founder of the state — with a small band of followers arrived in the hills in order to conquer a kingdom for himself. He is said to have come from Gaur, the ancient capital of Bengal and to have been a cadet of the ruling family of the place."---"The Art of Pal Empire". p.19. The demise of the Turkshahi rule in Gandhar and the rise of the Hindushahi dynasty in that region might have connection to the invasion of the Palas in that region.

Pala armed forces

Palas had fourfold army consisting of: Infantry, Cavalry, Elephants and Chariots. In the copperplates of Vatsaraja Dharmapala had been mentioned as the owner of unlimited number of Horses, Elephants and Chariots. It is amazing that when the use of chariots had been backdated in India and other parts of the world the kings of Bengal still depended on four-horsed heavy chariots. Being a riverine land and swarthy climate Bengal was not good enough for breeding quality war-horses. So the Palas had to depend upon their vassal kins for war horses. Pala copperplate inscriptions reveal that mercenary forces were recruited from the Kamboja, Khasa, Huna, Malwa, Laat(Gujarat), Karnata. The Kamboja cavalry was the cream of the Pala army who later would become as powerful as the Janissary army of the Ottoman Empire. The Kamboja forces maintained smaller confederates (Sanghas) among themselves and were staunch follower of their commander. Palas had the army divided into following posts: Senapati or Mahasenapati (General) controlling foot soldiers, cavalry, soldiers riding elephants and camels, and the navy, and the various army posts like Kottapala (Fort guards) and Prantapala (Border guards). Palas had a huge army and the legend of "Nava Lakkha Shainya" (Nine lac soldiers) were popular during the reigns of dharmapala and Devapala. According to Hudud al-Alam a Persian text written in 982-983 Dharmapala possessed an army of 300,000 soldiers. According to Sulaiman the Arab traveller Devapala set out for his every military expedition with an army of 50,000 elephants and his army had 10,000-15,000 slaves for the maintenance and caretaking of his armies.


Palas legacy gets remembered not much in Bengal but elsewhere. Tibet's modern culture and religion is heavily influenced by Palas. Palas are credited with spreading Buddhism to Tibet and around the world through missionaries. Atisa, a Palan, is a celebrated figure in the Tibetan Buddhism in tradition and in establishment. Atisa also invented bodhichitta or known as "mind training" that is practiced around the world today. Another important Palan figure in Tibetan Buddhism is Tilopa who founded the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism and developed the Mahamudra method, a set of spiritual practices that greatly accelerated the process of attaining bodhi (enlightenment). Palas literature is widely studied by Buddhist around the world. Pala architectural style was copied throughout south-eastern Asia and China, Japan, and Tibet. Nalanda Universities and Vikramshila Universities are two of the biggest and greatest Buddhist universities ever recorded in history.


*Harvard reference
Surname1 = Mahajan
Given1 = V.D.
Year = 1960, Reprint 2007
Title = Ancient India
Publisher = S. Chand & Company, New Delhi
ISBN = 81-219-0887-6


ee also

*Sompur Bihara
*Kamboja Dynasty of Bengal

External links

* [ Pala Empire from Banglapedia]
* [ Pala Sculpture from Banglapedia]

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  • Pala — The word Pala can refer to many different things:Places*Pala, California, a town in the United States *Pala, Chad, a town *Pala (East Timor), a town on Atauro Island, East Timor *Pala (or Palai), a town in Kerala, India *Pala Commune, a rural… …   Wikipedia

  • Pala (Dynastie) — Buddha Co, Plastik der Pala Zeit, 11. Jh. Die Pala Dynastie war eine indische Dynastie, welche zwischen ca. 750 und 1161 Bengalen und Bihar beherrschte. Sie ist unter anderem für ihre Förderung des Buddhismus in Nalanda bekannt. In der Mitte des… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Empire of Brazil — Império do Brasil ← …   Wikipedia

  • Empire Kouchan — L’Empire kouchan (env. Ier–IIIe siècles) fut un État qui, à son apogée, vers 105–250, s’étendait du Tadjikistan à la mer Caspienne et à l’Afghanistan et, vers le sud, à la vallée du Gange. L’empire a été créé par les Kouchan, une tribu des… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Empire Maurya — मौर्य राजवंश (hi) vers 322 – vers 180 Le territoire maurya vers 265 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Empire maurya — monnaie maurya Les Maurya sont une dynastie hindoue fondée par Chandragupta Maurya dans l année qui a suivi la retraite d Alexandre le Grand d Inde. En effet, l incursion grecque avait mis en évidence la nécessité d un État unifié pour faire face …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Empire Pala — Dynastie Pala Localisation de l empire Pala …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Empire pala — Dynastie Pala Localisation de l empire Pala …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Pala (Dynastie) — Dynastie Pala Localisation de l empire Pala …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Pâla — Dynastie Pala Localisation de l empire Pala …   Wikipédia en Français

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