Prashastis and Land grants

Learning Goals

Prashasti: Prashastis contain details which may not necessarily be literally true. They tell us the way the rulers wanted to depict themselves; for example as great achievers, victorious, fearless, valiant, etc. Brahamanas composed the prashastis, who occasionally helped in the administration also.

Land grants

Brahamanas were often rewarded by grant of land. These were recorded on copper plates, which were given to the people who received land.

An unusual aspect during the twelfth century was a long Sanskrit poem containing the history of kings who ruled over Kashmir. An author named Kalhana composed it. The sources he used for this were inscriptions, documents, eye witness accounts and earlier histories. He was often critical about the ruler and their policies, unlike the prashastis which always praised them.

Warfare for wealth

Each of the ruling dynasties were based in a specific region. But they tried to show their power in the following manner:

Tripartite Struggle: The rulers belonging to the Gurjara-Pratihara, Rashtrakuta and Pala dynasties fought for control over Kanauj, for centuries. Since this long drawn conflict involved ‘three’ parties, it is termed as the ‘tripartite struggle’.

Kings who engaged in warfare

Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, Afghanistan

The period of his rule was from 997 to 1030 and his control extended over parts of Central Asia, Iran and north-western part of the subcontinent. Almost every year he raided the subcontinent, mainly targetting wealthy temples as mentioned above. One of such temples he raided is that of Somnath, Gujarat. He used the wealth he plundered to create a splendid capital city at Ghazni. Since he was interested in knowing more about the people he conquered, he entrusted a scholar named Al-Biruni to write an account of the subcontinent. His Arabic work called Kitab al-Hind is still an important source for historians. To prepare this account he consulted Sanskrit scholars.


The Chamanas, later known as the Chauhans ruled over the regions of Delhi and Ajmer. Their attempt to expand their territory in the west and the east was opposed by the Chalukyas of Gujarat and the Gahadavalas of western Uttar Pradesh. Prithviraja III, who ruled during the period 1168 and 1192, was the best known Chahamana ruler. He defeated an Afghan ruler, Sultan Muhammad Ghori in 1191. But he lost to him the next year.

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