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Rajaraja Chola King of Kings

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Item Code: UBA236
Publisher: Aleph Book Company
Language: English
Edition: 2022
ISBN: 9789391047924
Pages: 392 (Throughout Color Illustrations)
Other Details 9.00 X 6.00 inch
Weight 520 gm
Book Description
About The Book

Rajaraja Chola, King of Kings, Incomparable Chola, Great Saviour, Jewel of the Solar Dynasty, Lion Among Kings, was one of the greatest rulers of medieval India. During his reign, the Chola empire expanded through virtually all of the southern reaches of the peninsula and beyond, from the Krishna- Godavari delta in northern Andhra Pradesh to large parts of northern Sri Lanka. Born Arulmozhi Varman in 947 CE, he trained under his father and uncle for over a quarter of a century and then ruled for twenty-nine years. King of Kings is a fitting title for this multifaceted man who was brilliant, ambitious, ruthless, and a visionary. He fortified the foundations of what was till then a ragtag kingdom, put into place a meticulously organized system of administration, and led the kingdom to reign supreme in military might, as an economic powerhouse, and in art, architecture, literature, music, and dance.

In this book, Kamini Dandapani the man behind the larger-than-life image of Rajaraja and the milieu in which he reigned. The origins of the Chola empire lie in the Sangam era around 2,000 years ago, when the first rulers of the family, men like Karikala and Kochengannan, ruled over small tracts of land around the Kaveri delta. By the middle of the ninth century, the 'Imperial Cholas' (as) historians named them) began to consolidate power at the expense of rivals like the Pallavas, Rashtrakutas, Chalukyas, Cheras, Gangas, Pandyas, and other smaller kingdoms. Rajaraja became king in 985 CE and, during his reign, the Chola empire reached its zenith. All his major achievements are described in detail- victories on the battlefield, the expansion of territory, the building of the monumental Brihadeeshwara Temple, the gargantuan land survey, and much else besides. The book goes into every aspect of Chola society-the place of women, the flowering of culture, including the making of exquisite Chola bronzes, the spread of religion, and the lives of ordinary people. After the death of Rajaraja in 1014, his son Rajendra expanded the empire; others that followed had mixed fortunes and, a couple of centuries later, the dynasty succumbed to their greatest rivals, the Pandyas.

However, in their heyday, and especially under their greatest king, few empires or emperors could compare with the Cholas and Rajaraja. This scrupulously researched and brilliantly told biography brings to vivid and compelling life one of India's greatest empires and rulers.

About the Author

KAMINI DANDAPANI was born and raised in (once) sleepy Madras. She now lives in the city that never sleeps, New York. She has had extensive training in Carnatic music, Bharatanatyam, and Western Classical music (Pianoforte). A longer than desired stint in the corporate world that included Chase Manhattan Bank and McKinsey & Co. was followed by a complete change in direction back to her true loves, top among which are music and writing.


A thousand and some years ago, there arose in southern India an empire that was among the most remarkable the world has seen. It grew atop the tottering scaffolding and shifting sands of fading dynasties and fierce rivalries, ruthless kings and double- crossing aspirants, myth-burnished, propelled forward by the slow burn of faith and the blazing fires of boundless ambition. It defied a myriad obstacles that came its way, and yet, through all the struggles and violence, it also cultivated and refined an aesthetic sensibility of breathtaking beauty.

This was the Chola empire. And in a dynasty that did not lack for larger-than-life characters, there was one in particular who stood head and shoulders above by the standards of any day.

He was Rajaraja Chola. King Squared, King of Kings, a fitting name for this multifaceted man who built one of the world's most glorious empires, for whom a single 'raja' would be pitifully inadequate, wholly unequal to the magnitude of what he accomplished. He made his mark on the vast and messy canvas of the convoluted sociopolitical dynamics of his time, no mean feat in an era teeming with ambitious and brutal rulers. He fortified the foundations of what was till then a ragtag kingdom, put into place a meticulously organized system of administration, and led the empire into a period of magnificent splendour and grandeur that reigned supreme in military might, as an economic powerhouse, and in art, architecture, literature, music, dance, and religion.

And yet there is very little accurate information about this king for the lay reader of history. Most books cede a paragraph to him and his reign; more generous ones dedicate a couple of pages. They sing his praises, but don't delve into any depth to get the measure of the man, to explore the milieu, the confluences of time, place, people, and psyche that made Rajaraja what he was, what he made of his world. There are movies on him in which imagination has run riot; there are websites that shine a spotlight on just one aspect of what must have surely been a complex, fascinating personality.

Who was this man, this King of Jewels, Incomparable Chola, Great Saviour, Jewel of the Solar Dynasty, Lion Among Kings?

He was born Arulmozhi Varman in 947, the third child of Sundara Chola and Vanavanmadevi. His older brother, Aditya Karikalan, the crown prince, was killed in suspicious circumstances, and so the younger son ended up being crowned emperor in the year 985. He was close to his older sister, Kundavai, and had a great deal of respect for his great-aunt Sembiyan Madevi. This alone must have set him apart from the typical male of his time. Rajaraja was clearly a remarkable man with an extraordinary outlook and vision, a Jupiter in a universe of small planets. Narcissistic, ambitious, power-hungry, ruthless, far-sighted, shrewd, compassionate, generous-he makes for a fascinating character study.

When Rajaraja became king in 985, he inherited a kingdom that was reeling from a shattering military defeat at the hands of a foe that rivalled the Cholas in drive and ruthlessness-the Rashtrakutas. This defeat, in 949, suffered by Rajaraja's great- grandfather Parantaka, led to a thirty-year period of Chola instability, a tangled mess of brief reigns and internal strife, with foes rearing their heads in every direction.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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