Krishna Deva Raya is easily one of the last great Hindu kings who ruled India. Died undefeated, he presided over one of the greatest challenges India posed to Islam at the days of it’s global glory. Though rebellions and civil wars are common, the one jarring note in Vijayanagara history is Krishna Raya’s Kalinga invasion.

There is no specific reason for Krishna Raya marching on Kalinga except for the fact that it’s a matter of swaying borders. When Vijayanagara was weak, Kapilendra Gajapati advanced till Kanchi and when Vijayanagara became strong, it rolled back the invasion. First fell Udayagiri in a separate campaign. After Udayagiri fell, it was a general conquest of Kalinga territories. Two armies marched on Kondavidu and Kondapalle, the seats of Prataparudra Gajapati’s southern territories – one through Rayalaseema under the command of Saluva Timmarasa and the other, under the personal command of Krishnaraya, crashing through Golconda.

The general euphoria in the kingdom during that time can be noted from a ditty –

Kondavidu is ours, Kondapalli is ours,
If anyone dares to challenge the claim,
(I declare) the country till Kataka are ours

The Muslim armies, already crushed by Krishnaraya leading to the death of Yusuf Adil Shah in flight towards Kovilkonda and the dismemberment of Bahamani Sultanate were in no mood to resist and gave a free pass. In fact, when Krishna Raya got to hear of the rallying of Muslim armies in 1520, he directly asked if they are doing it confident of their strength or because they are scared and are in panic!!

However, one can argue that the invasion was in response to some offensive moves from the side of the Gajapati after the Muslims were crushed. Though Rayavachakam is a one-sided account glorifying Krishna Raya, there are enough hints from that saying that either hearing of the disastrous defeat of the Muslim armies and the fall of Udayagiri, or instigated by the Muslims, Prataparudra Gajapati strengthened defences in anticipation of an attack. An attack was anyways due to push the Kalinga troops across Krishna, but were the defences consummate to holding Krishna or were they in an offensive posture, we may not know with certainity. But the presence of Virabhadra, the son of Gajapati Prataparudradeva in person in Kondavidu hints at an offensive posture. Rayavachakam notes,

While he (the Gajapati) was engaged in a conversation with the sixteen Patras and the foreign ambassadors, he received letters from Niladri Pant (the sthanapati of) the Nizam Sahu as well as the sthanapatis of Yedula Sahu and Kutapana Malaka. They stated explicitly that ‘the king of Karnataka, having gathered the fourfold army for the purpose of waging war, has come out (of his capital) and desires to make his appearance on the frontier. (The Nizam Shah and the other Muslim chiefs) used to render you assistance in the past, when Your Majesty had to fight against the chiefs of the north and the south. In great emergencies such as the war with the people of Aghapura, all of us would unite together and direct the affairs jointly. There is nothing so serious now, (to necessitate joint action). Surely Your Majesty is on the frontier and nowhere else. As Yeduia Sahu and Kutapana Malaka are strong in their frontier defences, they need not be anxious. If anything beyond the strength of their frontier defences happens, they are prepared to come as far as Ahamadunagaram.

(The people in the assembly) said by way of counsel: “ As far as human effort is concerned, defeat (in battle) must not be thought of. If victory is inevitable to the Karnatakas, Your Majesty will lose territory, and be involved in troubles, owing to the defeat of the three kings on the frontier. Therefore, it is necessary to deliberate deeply and take preliminary precautions.”

The Gajapati observed; “ There is the God Jagannatha to help us in all difficulties.” The envoys of the three (Mussalman) states said : “ Of course, Your Majesty has Jagannatha, just as our masters have the Kartar (God). Our masters are sending all the troops of our three kingdoms to the banks of the. Krsna where they should lie encamped to prevent the Karnatakas from crossing the river. We request Your Majesty to command your officers to strengthen the places on the frontier.”

The Gajapati said that he would arrange the frontier defences accordingly and sent forces strong enough to take preliminary precautions to Kondavidu, Udayagiri, Bellamkonda, Nagarjunakonda, Kandukur, and other places. He also commanded the sixteen Patras to take similar steps in defence of their estates and forts ; and in obedience to the royal commands they sent provisions and ammunition to the frontier and the forts.

Though we note enemity between the kingdoms, the glaring divergence in how the work described the Gajapati and the Muslims clearly hints at the fact that even Vijayanagara was squeamish to justify an invasion of Kalinga.

Salva Timmarasa notes, “The Gajapati is not like the Mussalmans ; he is a monarch of good repute ; he has faith in the gods and Brahmans.” and recounted a story where the Gajapati, inspite of knowing the Tirtha in the temple of Jagannatha is poisoned to assassinate him, drank it, placing full faith in the Lord and survived unscathed.

However, of the Muslims, Rayavachakam notes,

The Muhammadans are given to drunkenness ; they consume opium and are (generally) intoxicated. Therefore, they are naturally afraid. So long as they are under the spell of drink, they have no control over their bodies or minds. In that state they cut to pieces whomsoever they meet. They are the Raksasas of the Kali age. But when they regain their consciousness, they feel regret for their racial disposition. The Brahmans eat food cooked with salt and tamarind juice. Consequently they have neither pride nor malice. Having realised this fact, the Muhammadans entrusted the management of the administration to Brahmans who were under their control. They appoint and dismiss officials and generally conduct the affairs of the state, according to the advice of these Brahmans. Therefore, the affairs of state (in the Mussalman kingdoms) are carried on as desired by the ministers. If any differences arise between the king and the ministers, not only do the ministers lose their lives but the government itself is upset.

What explains this divergent a view of two enemies one equally potent than the other?

The southern force marched towards the coast before swerving north taking Addanki, Vinukonda, Bellamkonda and other forts, the norther force marched directly on Kondavidu taking major forts like Warangal, Nagarjunakonda and Tangeda. A Bahamani Governor Sitapati Raju, more popularly known as Shitab Khan who was holding Warangal was soundly defeated and retreated towards Kondapalle. He was last heard of attempting to hold Vijayanagara troops near Simhachalam with a contingent of archers as a part of Kalinga effort to stop the advance on Cuttack.

When Krsnaraya, who was renowned for his skill in war, started on an uninterrupted expedition, Udayagiri lost its greatness by the rising sun of his valour, Vinukonda fell to pieces by the terrific noise of his war drums ; Bellamkonda melted like lac by the fire of his army ; Kondavidu was deprived of its wings by the lightning-strokes of the swords of his troopers ; Bezwada collapsed ; Kondapalle shook ; Katakam broke down ; and Delhi fell into confusion.

The combined forces invested Kondavidu which was held by the Gajapati’s son and the Governor of Southern Districts, Virabhadra Gajapati. He was captured along with many prominent nobles including Narahari Patra, the son of Hamvira Mahapatra. Praharesvara, either a brother of Prataparudra or Purushottama Gajapati was killed. Legends tell that Virabhadra committed suicide out of shame. A wife of Prataprudra was captured in Kondapalle. The invasion force marched towards Kataka where Krishnaraya took a daughter of the Gajapati as his wife. Tukka by name, hers was not a happy marriage and she retreated to Cumbum where she spent her days.

Tukka Panchakam – The lament of a Forlorn Woman – cbkwgl
Tukka Panchakam, a couplet of sorrow by Tukka Devi

After planting a victory pillar at Potnuru, Krishnaraya marched back and assigned Kondavidu to Nadendla Gopamantri, a nephew of Saluva Timmarasa. All lands north of Krishna were returned back to the Gajapati.

However, there is another theme to the Kalinga Invasion of Krishna Raya. Hearing reports of Kalinga troops shifting south in anticipation of a major attack by Vijayanagara, the Sultan of Bengal, Alauddin Hussain Shah sent an invasion force under Ismail Ghazi towards Kalinga. The invasion was that severe that Cuttack has fallen and the idol of Jagannatha had to be shifted out. Hearing the news of the Northern invasion, Prataparudra disengaged his troops against Vijayanagara and marched back, pushing the armies of Bengal across the border. An army led by Prataparudra in person invested the Fort of Mandarana which Alauddin Hussain Shah made his base. The Gajapati inflicted a severe defeat on Bengal and broken troops led by their king fled into Bengal. Though the siege of Udayagiri proved the capability of Vijayanagara troops, this sudden retreat of Kalinga armies made the task much simpler for Vijayanagara. This also explains the fact that the in spite of Krishna Raya becoming the bigger threat leading to the capture of his wife and death of his son and cousins, the Gajapati didn’t consider him so and focussed on the Northern Wars – is it because of the civilizational bonding or is it because the Gajapati already made a deal with Krishna Raya to shift troops north or is it because he was forced to choose one theatre over the other, we may never know.

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