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Dominion and influence of the Chola around 1050

The Tamil Chola Empire (sometimes also Chozha Empire ) was one of the most important Indian kingdoms and is still considered the most influential Hindu empire to this day . Like the ancient Greeks and Romans, the Tamil Chola knew how to exert far-reaching cultural influence on their neighbors in southern India and throughout Southeast Asia . The rule of the Chola Empire lasted from 300 BC. Until the end of the 13th century.

The early chola

South Indian rulers of this name already existed at the time of Emperor Ashoka , who recorded kingdoms of this name on his edicts as friendly neighbors. They are also frequently mentioned in Tamil sangam literature . Under their king Karikal (an) Chola , the early Chola were the opponents of the Chera and Pandya kings around 190 AD . Karikalan was still famous a century later as a military, town and dike builder on the Kaveri River . However, the ambitious man had to make concessions to his people so that they would not flee from him.

From around the year 250 onwards, the Chola and their two neighbors were displaced by the invasion of a mountain tribe ( Kalabhra ) whose exact origin is unknown - they seem to have been Jains or Buddhists . The previous rulers of the river valleys and on the coast were ousted and the power of the Brahmins weakened. At the end of the 6th century, a new outsider - the first Pallava king - rose who defeated the Kalabhra and also brought the heartland of the Chola on the Kaveri under his control. During this period the Chola sank to the status of minor local rulers.

List of early Chola kings

Resurgence and peak of power

Detail of the Brihadisvara Temple in Thanjavur (Tanjore)

The revival of the Chola did not take place until the end of the 9th century, when the Pallava power disintegrated. Around 850 Thanjavur (Tanjore) became the capital. Aditya (Athiththa Chola, ruled 871–907) defeated the last Pallava ruler in a duel on his war elephant against 897 . Nevertheless, the Chola kings could not build up a supremacy at the time: Parantaka I (r. 907-955) sacked Madurai and drove the Pandya king to Lanka, but lost the battle of Takkolan in 949 against Krishna III, a Rashtrakuta -King. Rajaditya, the son and co-regent of the Chola King, fell in battle. Due to this defeat, the Chola had to confine themselves to their home country for several decades.

The great conquerors from this dynasty were Rajaraja I (r. 985-1014) and his son Rajendra I (r. 1014-44, co-regent from 1012). Rajaraja defeated the ancient enemies, the Chera and Pandya kings, and also conquered Sri Lanka . Rajendra also undertook extensive military campaigns - first he conquered the capital of the Chalukya , then he moved against the Pala empire of Bengal (1022/23). After his victory over the Pala, he inaugurated his new capital, Gangaikonda Cholapuram, with the water of the Ganges , which the defeated Pala king supposedly had to carry. Rajendra went further and successfully led a campaign against Sri Vijaya in 1025 to influence their trade relations. Rajendra also sent two diplomatic missions to China , giving them a list of goods. However , there was no confrontation with the Turkish-Islamic conqueror Mahmud von Ghazni , who successfully carried out several major campaigns in northern India almost every year from 997-1025. It is unclear why Rajendras omitted the military leader and conqueror Mahmud of Ghazni in his expansion policy.

While the previous trading center on the northwest coast of India experienced an economic decline due to the Muslim attacks, India's main trading hub has now shifted to the south. The rapid rise of the Chola required resources, which were also provided with a relocation of the shipping routes to the Red Sea in the course of the emergence of the Egyptian Fatimid Empire . During the Chola period, South Indian merchants' guilds had demonstrably great maritime influence.

When the descendants of Rajendra died out, an (eastern) Chalukya prince named Kulottunga I (ruled 1070–1120) came to power in Gangaikonda Cholapuram in 1070 , who was only a Chola on his mother's side. Under his rule, the Chola Empire experienced another economic and political heyday. In the middle of the 12th century, however, his successor Kulottunga II (ruled 1133–1150) had to grant his vassals, above all the Pandya in Madurai, extensive autonomy. Rajaraja II (r. 1146–63) then had to survive seven years of civil war with the Pandya, in which Sri Lanka under King Parakramabahu (r. 1153–86) interfered.

Until the end of the reign of King Kulottunga III. (1216) still held the empire together (now in a marriage alliance with the Hoysala ). But the feudal lords of King Rajaraja III. (r. 1216–52) - the Pandya Maravarman (r. 1216–38) and Vira-Ravivarman on the Malabar coast - became self-employed. The Pandya destroyed the capital Thanjavur , and Rajaraja III. would have lost the throne if it had not been saved by Hoysala Narasimha II (r. 1220–34). Between 1256 and 1279, the kingdom was extinguished under the blows of the Pandya of Madurai ; these became his inheritance.

Bronze chola figure of dancing Shiva ( Shiva nataraja ), Metropolitan Museum of Art , New York City (11th century). The theme of the dancing ( tandava ) four-armed god Shiva is one of the most famous in Indian art: the upper right hand of the god, whose braids of hair spread to both sides because of the head and body rotations during the dance, holds a small hourglass drum ( damaru ); the other right hand is raised in the gesture of granting protection (
abhayamudra ). There is a fire symbol in his upper left hand; the lower left hand shows - parallel to the raised left leg - a posture common in Indian dance. With his feet he tramples a dwarf or demon ( apasmara purusha ) - symbols of ignorance and stupidity. The dance takes place inside a ring of fire ( prabhamandala ), which symbolizes both the expanding energy of God and the limit of the universe.

List of Chola Kings
  • Vijayalaya Chola (848-881)
  • Athiththa Chola (881-907)
  • Paranthaha Chola I (907-955)
  • Kandarathiththa Chola (950-957)
  • Arinchchaya Chola (956-957)
  • Paranthaha Chola II (957-970)
  • Uththama Chola (973-985)
  • Rajaraja Chola I (985-1014)
  • Rajendra Chola I (1012-1044)
  • Rajadhiraja Chola (1018-1054)
  • Rajendra Chola II (1051-1063)
  • Virarajendra Chola (1063-1070)
  • Athirajendra Chola (1070)
  • Kulothunga Chola I (1070–1120)
  • Vikkrama Chola (1118–1135)
  • Kulothunga Chola II. (1133-1150)
  • Rajaraja Chola II (1146-1163)
  • Rajadiraja Chola II (1163–1178)
  • Kulothunga Chola III. (1178-1218)
  • Rajaraja Chola III. (1216–1256)
  • Rajendra Chola III. (1246-1279)

Arts and Culture

The heyday of the chola from the late 10th to the end of the 12th century was the great time of Tamil southern India. Music, dance, poetry and drama (Tamil epic Kamba Ramayanam , holy story Periapuranam ) as well as architecture , stone and bronze sculptures , painting, philosophy and religion reached new heights with the Great Temples of the Chola - recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site -Dynasty as cultural centers. The family and patron deity of the Chola kings was Shiva - especially in his figure as Nataraja .

Territories and Influence in Southeast Asia

The Tamil Chola Empire had strong cultural influences on Southeast Asia. In 1025 started Rajendra I. a large-scale and successful invasion by the already heavily under Tamil influence countries the Chola Empire integrate. Large parts of Indonesia , Malaysia and Thailand came under Tamil rule. The subsequent rulers of the Malays claimed a blood relationship with the Chola dynasty and thus legitimized their rule. Many Malay rulers were nicknamed Cholan or Chulan .

The Chola then expanded their overseas trade. They became one of the most powerful maritime and trading powers. There were trade relations with China , the Kingdom of Ryūkyū , with the Kingdom of Tamna on Jejudo , Japan , Korea and with the Roman and Ottoman Empire , the Persian Empire and the Abbasid in present-day Iraq .

The large Hindu population groups and several temples in Southeast Asia, especially in Indonesia , bear witness to the cultural influence of the Chola overseas.

Web links

Commons : Chola  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Chopra, PN; Ravindran, TK; Subrahmanian, N. (2003), History of South India: Ancient, Medieval and Modern , S. Chand & Company Ltd, ISBN 81-219-0153-7
  2. ^ KA Nilakanta Sastri: A History of South India. OUP, New Delhi 1955, (Reprinted 2002), p. 105.
  3. ^ Paul Michel Munoz: Early Kingdoms of the Indonesian Archipelago and the Malay Peninsula . Continental Sales, Incorporated, 2006, ISBN 978-981-4155-67-0 ( [accessed August 3, 2018]).
  4. Nagapattinam to Suvarnadwipa: Reflections on the Chola Naval Expeditions to Southeast Asia by Hermann Kulke, K Kesavapany, Vijay Sakhuja p.170
  5. ^ Gunn, Geoffrey C. History Without Borders: The Making of an Asian World Region, 1000-1800 p. 43
  6. Kulke, Hermann; Kesavapany, K .; Sakhuja, Vijay. Nagapattinam to Suvarnadwipa: Reflections on the Chola Naval Expeditions to Southeast Asia p. 71
  7. Singam, S. Durai Raja. India and Malaya Through the Ages
  8. Kulke & Rothermund (2001), pp. 116-117
  9. ^ Buddhism, Diplomacy, and Trade: The Realignment of Sino-Indian Relations by Tansen Sen, p.159
  10. Sastri (1984), The CōĻas , University of Madras p. 604