The Vakataka Empire (250 – 500 A.D) was a royal Indian dynasty that originated from the Deccan in the mid-3rd century CE. Their state is believed to have extended from the southern edges of Malwa and Gujarat in the north to the Tungabhadra River in the south as well as from the Arabian Sea in the west to the edges of Chhattisgarh in the east.
Little is known about Vindhyashakti (c. 250–270 CE), the founder of the family. Territorial expansion began in the reign of his son Pravarasena I (270 – 330).
Vatsagulma branch – This branch was founded by Sarvasena, thesecond son of Pravarasena I after his death. King Sarvasena made Vatsagulma, the present day Washim in Washim district of Maharashtra his capital.The territory ruled by this branch was between the Sahydri Range and the Godavari River which includes Telangana.
330 AD – 355 AD : Sarvasena
Sarvasena took the title of Dharmamaharaja. He is also known as the author of Harivijaya in Prakrit which is based on the story of bringing the parijat tree from heaven by Krishna. This work,praised by later writers is lost. He is also known as the author of many verses of the Prakrit Gaha Sattasai. One of his minister’s name was Ravi. He
was succeeded by his son Vindhyasena.
355 AD – 400 AD : Vindhyasena
Vindhysena was also known as Vindhyashakti II. He is known from the well known Washim plates which recorded the grant of a village situated in the northern marga (subdivision) of Nandikata (presently Nanded) in his 37th regnal year. The genealogical portion of the grant is written in Sanskrit and the formal portion in Prakrit. This is the first known land grant by any Vakataka ruler. He also took the title of Dharmamaharaja.
400 AD – 415 AD : Pravarsena II
Pravarasena II was the next ruler of whom very little is known except from the Cave XVI inscription of Ajanta, which says that he became exalted by his excellent, powerful and liberal rule. He died after a very short rule and succeeded by his minor son, who was only 8 years old when his father died. Name of this ruler is lost from the Cave XVI inscription.
415 AD – 450 AD : Unknown
450 AD – 475 AD : Devasena
This unknown ruler was succeeded by his son Devasena (c.450 475). His administration was actually run by his minister
Hastibhoja. During his reign, one of his servant Svaminadeva
excavated a tank named Sudarshana near Washim
475 AD – 500 AD : Harishena
Harishena succeeded his father Devasena. He was agreat patron of Buddhist architecture, art and culture. The World Heritage monument Ajanta is surviving example of his works. The rock cut architectural cell XVI inscription of Ajanta states that he conquered Avanti (Malwa) in the north, Kosala (Chhattisgarh), Kalinga and Andhra in the east, Lata (Central and Southern Gujarat) Harishena was succeeded by two rulers whose names are not known.
Some of the kings of the Vakataka dynasty contributed heavily towards the sectors of culture, religion and arts. Though the rule of these kings was not as famous or as significant as the kings of other famous dynasties, they still played a big role in those days.
During the rule of King Harishena, cave numbers sixteen and seventeen were dug out and adorned with excellent paintings and sculptures. One of the famous historians, Walter Spink has recorded that all the caves in the Ajanta rock cut temples, except caves 9, 10, 12, 13 and 15A, were constructed during the historic rule of Harishena.
One of the rulers of the Vatsagulma branch, King Sarvasena, was also a famous poet and is best known for his work, Harivijaya in Prakrit script. During the time it was written, this work was praised by lot of literature experts. However, this work got lost over time due to lack of preservation. The work termed as Gaha Sattasai, was also penned by Sarvasena.
The last significant ruler of the Vatsagulma branch, Harishena, was known to have contributed excessively towards Buddhism culture.
The end of the dynasty is unknown. They were probably defeated by
the Kalachuri of Mahismati.
According to the eighth ucchvāsaḥ of the Daśakumāracarita of Daṇḍin, which was written probably around 125 years after the fall of the Vakataka dynasty, Harishena’s son, though intelligent and accomplished in all arts, neglected the study of the Dandaniti (Political Science) and gave himself up to the enjoyment of pleasures and indulged in all sorts of vices. His subjects also followed him and led a vicious and dissolute life. Finding this a suitable opportunity, the ruler of the neighbouring Ashmaka sent his minister’s son to the court of the Vakatakas. The latter ingratiated himself with the king and egged him on in his dissolute life. He also decimated his forces by various means.
Ultimately, when the country was thoroughly disorganised, the ruler of Ashmaka instigated the ruler of Vanavasi (in the North Kanara district) to invade the Vakataka territory. The king called all his feudatories and decided to fight his enemy on the bank of the Varada (Wardha). While fighting with the forces of the enemy, he was treacherously attacked in the rear by some of his own feudatories and killed. The Vakataka dynasty ended with his death