The Candellas of Bundelkhand formed one of the most prominent dynasties that flourished for some centuries before the establishment of Islam as an Imperial Power in this sub-continent. They are known in history not only for their political sagacity and contribution to the social and economic stability of the country during a period of intense political rivalry, turmoil and foreign invasions, but also for their direct association with the art and architecture that developed in Khajuraho and its neighbourhood.
The book deals, in a comprehensive manner, with the history of the early rulers of Khajuraho, in fourteen chapters. Chs I-II deal with the origin of the Candellas and define their territory. Ch. III traces their history from Nanuka to Harsa. Chs IV-VII recount the rise of their power under Yasovarman and Dhanga, their struggles with the Muslims under Ganda and Vidyadhara and their conflicts with Cedis under Vijayapala, Devavarman and Kirtivarman. Ch. VIII is devoted to the rulers from Sallaksanavarman to Madanavarman. Ch. IX describes Cahamana-Candella rivalry and the fall of Mahoba. Ch. X deals with the temporary restoration of Candella power under Trailokyavarman. Chs. XI-XIV give a vivid picture of political, social, economic, religious and cultural life of Bundelkhand and offer a survey of its magnificent temples and sculptors.
The book contains four Appendices: (1) Inscriptions of the Candella times, (2) Genealogy of the Candella Dynasty, (3) Candella Land Grants and Feudalism, (4) A Note on some Aspects of Candella Architecture. It is documented with Bibliography, Index, Plates and Map of the Candella Dynasty.
The Candellas, as is well known even to the very casual students of Indian history, formed one of the most prominent dynasties that flourished for some centuries preceding the establishment of Islam as an imperial power in this sub-continent. In all probability they started from a humble beginning, but they ultimately succeeded in founding and organizing an independent kingdom, seizing every opportunity to extend its frontiers and spreading their reputation far and wide by daring military expeditions. The sturdy defenses of Kalafajar provided them with a comparative security against external enemies. The policy underlying their relations with other powers seems to have been largely based on an appreciation of the strategic implications of the position, held by their territory in the political map of India during their time. The measures, which they took to help a Pratihara ruler facing an acute crisis, and subsequently to punish another Pratihara ruler, who had been humiliated by a Muslim invader; to associate themselves with co-operative efforts to protect the freedom of allied kings threatened by violent attacks from outside, and the way in which they rapidly succeeded in restoring their position which had been rudely shaken by the forces of the Kilocuries, testify to political sagacity and discernment of no mean order, a capacity for swift and determined action, and a stubbornness of spirit, which could not be reduced with ease. In an age of strife and turmoil they were able, by providing their own people with a strong and stable government, to prevent the disruption of the prevailing social and economic order in a fairly wide area. They were able, moreover, to maintain their independence much longer than most of the other rulers who quickly surrendered to Muslim aggressions.
Dr. Mitra gives a comprehensive and fascinating account of the varied activities of this distinguished family of rulers, based on a minute and detailed study of the material which he collected with great industry and thoroughness from diverse sources, indigenous and foreign, literary and archaeological. Though most of his data have been compiled from epigraphic sources, he is not over-zealous in his estimate of the importance and reliability of inscriptional material which he examines as, critically as any piece of literary evidence that is usually discarded as unhistorical and exaggerated. He has discussed the controversial issues connected with his subject without any bias. Although there may be differences of opinion regarding some of the conclusions he has attempted to draw from his own interpretation of the evidence compiled, unstinted praise is due to him for the reasonableness of his views, precision of expression and sobriety of judgment. His chapters on administrative, social, economic and religious history will be especially useful to those interested in the compilation of epigraphic material bearing on the evolution of ancient Indian culture. I sincerely hope that Dr. Mitra's work will receive wide appreciation as a very valuable and original contribution, and stimulate further research in the field.
This work consists of 14 Chapters and a number of Appendices including one which contains a detailed notice of the inscriptional records relating to the Candella dynasty. In the different chapters I have incorporated the political history of this family in its successive phases as well as accounts of their administrative system, the social, economic and religious conditions in Bundelkhand, and a brief survey of the art and architecture of Khajuraho, with systematic references to the archaeological remains discovered in the regions associated with the memory of the Candellas. In Appendix II I have given a genealogical table of the family with approximate dates.
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