Kumara Rama is a legendary folk hero of medieval Karnataka but whose historicity is not completely clear. His story revolves about two points – his fight and death trying to preserve Kampili’s independence and his wife-to-be but step mother’s lust for him. The second story has got many parallels in Indian folklore – Chorangi Nath of Nath Parampara, Sarangadhara in Telugu folklore among others. There are multiple versions of this story – Kumara Ramuni Kathe by Gangayya, Paradara Sodare Ramana Kathe by Nanjunda, Bhattara Kaifiyat – all in Kannada, Vidyaranya Kalajnana and Rajakalanirnaya in Sanskrit referring to the legend, Kumara Ramuni Katha in Telugu and others.

This version of the story is derived from Paradara Sodare Ramana Kathe which is written by Nanjunda. It is a huge poem of 5630 verses divided into 47 Sandhis dealing with the history of Kampili focussing on the legend of Kumara Rama or Ramanatha. In fact, Kampili existed only for two generations as an independent kingdom and it’s story, majorly is the legend of Kumararama and the subsequent acts of the ultimate conquest of the kingdom by Muslims. There is nothing much in the story which is not linked to Kumara Rama. The story in brief, goes thus. One would notice that there is a level of exaggeration regarding the events mentioned and the story is not completely correct. For example, the Kakatiyas are shown to be defeated but the reality is that they even destroyed the gardens of Kummata before being stopped or bought off.

Ramadeva of Devagiri had four sons, one of them married a Pulinda woman and was made an outcast. After the conquest of Devagiri by Turakas, he sought service under the chief of Chitrakura-Durga who gave him lands for maintenance and appointed him in charge of frontiers. In his family was born Mummadi Singa, whose son was Kampila, also known as Kampa or Kampila Deva or Kampa Rajendra. He had many queens, of whom Hariharadevi was the chief queen and Ratnaji, his youngest, was his favourite. He had two sons – Bhairava, the heir-apparent and Katanna from earlier marriages, and one daughter Maramma. Maramma is married to Sangama Deva, called as Bava Sangama(Bava = brother-in-law).

Kampila ruled Kuntala from Hosadurga and was frequently at war with Ballala of Dorasamudra, Vira Rudra of Warangal and the Sultan of Delhi. He was famous for leading expeditions against Ballala and Vira Rudra. Even the Gajapati feared him and the Sultan of Delhi counted h a rival worth enough. He had many many able subordinates of whom Baichappa, the Prime Minister was the prominent one.

Hariharadevi wasn’t content that she didn’t have a son and at last, god favoured her with one. He was named Ramanatha. Kampila became a king at that time. He gave good education to his son and married five girls of royal descent to him. He was made the heir apparent and was provided with a bodyguard of 120.

Once, news reached Ramanatha that there was a horse in Vanayudesa which would not allow to be ridden by anyone. Vira Rudra’s sahanis and Vira Balalla’s people failed to tame it and a reward of 10000 tankas was announced by the Vajira Mallukas to tame it. Ramanatha, hearing this, took up the challenged and convincing his father that the father will help him defeat his enemies, went to Goa, tamed the horse and brought it back.

The Ballala War

Ramanatha got information that there are some excellent hounds in the Agrahara Hulihegu and sent his men to procure them. Being subjects of Ballala, the people of the village refused to part with them. Ramanatha himself set out on horseback and after besieging and looting it, his men set fire to the village and returned back. Ballala was enraged and marched on Kampili through Baguru Pass. Kampila, getting to know of this ordered Ramanatha to collect the force and prepare for war. After collecting the army and household troops, Ramanatha crossed Bisilahalli Pass and halted a yojana from the armies of Ballala. He had 90,000 foot, 8000 horse and 210 elephants. Ballala’s troops were commanded by Narasinga and he possessed 3,00,000 foot, 20,000 horse and 400 elephants.

The main engagement was between Katanna and Narasinga. When news came that Katanna is injured, Kampila sent Sangama Deva to his aid. With Kampila’s position weakening, Balalla’s troops dashed towards him. Ramanatha noticed this and marched in his rescue only to see Narasinga disengaging and attacking Ramanatha. After the first wave was broken by Ramanatha, Narasinga rebuked his troops and unleashed another wave of troops on Ramanatha. Even that troop was scattered and Ballala’s army fled to it’s camp.

In the meanwhile Soma-Dandadhipa (possibly a brother-in-law of Ballala) and Baichappa convinced their kings to call off the fight, especially when the Sultan of Delhi is looking for an opportunity to attack. Ramanatha was against peace but was ultimately prevailed upon. The armies returned and Kampila made Rama the king and retired.

Warangal Invasion

Once, Singama of Warangal accompanied by Padmanayakas came to Kampila and noticed the titles which Ramanatha was using – Telugara Ganda, Muvvaru Rayara Ganda, Cheluvaraganda and Misaraganda. He told the same to Vira Rudra who was very offended and sent an army of 9,00,000 foot, 1,20,000 horse and 1200 elephants. With the news of the army marching, even the vassals of Kampila started to desert. Kampila and his son collected 2,00,000 foot, 12,000 horse and 400 elephants. Hearing of the host, Vira Rudra was disheartened but Singama Nayaka encouraged him. On the other hand, Kampila lost heart when he saw the vast Kakatiya host before him but was cheered up by his son. Ramanatha gained an upper hand and Padmanayaka and Reddi troops of the Kakatiyas started to retreat and the armies of the princes joined the fight. While the troops of Kakatiya princes surrounded Ramanatha, Singama Nayaka sent fresh troops to surround Kampila. Seeing his father in distress, Ramanatha rushed to his aid and pushed Singama back. After a severe contest, the Kakatiyas were defeated and everyone returned to their camp. In the morning, peace was concluded and Kampila offered a gift of fifty horses to Singama (this hints that Kampila actually lost the war and sued for peace. Some Kakatiya inscriptions tell that Kakatiyas advanced till Kummata fort itself, destroying it’s gardens) and everyone returned home.

The Gajapati War

The defeat of Kakatisvara by Kampa shocked Karipati(Gajapati) Kapilesvara(Kapila Narasinga of Kesari Dynasty). To console him, his generals told they will test their mettle with Ramanatha and the Gajapati marched forth with a host of 7,00,000 foot, 8,000 horse and 800 elephants. Kampila also marched forth with his army and waited for the enemy near Penugundi. At the start of the engagement, the Gajapati’s troops tried to surround Ramanatha but were cut down. Almost all of the major commanders of Gajapati were killed and Gajapati’s troops retreated. After a short chase, Kampila and Ramanatha returned home.

Kampila and Suritala of Delhi

When the daughter of the Suritala(Sultan) of Delhi came of age, he tried to find a suitable bridegroom for her. At this time, the fame of Ramanatha reached him and he sent some messengers to Kampila, who on their return took with them, a picture of Ramanatha. On seeing it, the Suritala’s daughter fell in love with Rama and refused to marry anyone else. The Suritala then sent ambassadors to Kampila for marriage and offered him territories like Bidure, Sagara, Nimbapura, Jambukhandi and Rachuru if his son were to accept the marriage. But, Kampila, thinking it as a plot to enslave him, refused. The Suritala was very enraged and decided to capture Ramanatha by force.

While things were going like this, the Suritala asked his officers to exhibit their skill in archery. Badura came the best and he appointed Badura as Malluka and gave him half the territories of the defeated Khans. They decided to kill him but Madhura Khana dissuaded them and proposed a plan. According to the plan, they all went to the Suritala and declared that Badura desired to rule over Delhi. The Suritala was very angry. They then went to Badura and told that his life is in danger in Delhi and Badura fled south the next morning. This confirmed the Suritala of Badura’s rebellion and ordered Nemi Malluka to pursue him with 1,00,000 horse. They overtook him near Devagiri but were defeated. When he crossed Heddore and reached the frontiers of Kampila’s kingdom, Kampila’s ministers told him not to give him shelter as it would displease the Suritala and will cause unnecessary hardships. But, Ramanatha said it’s the duty of a king to provide help to a person in distress and Badura was escorted into the fort. Hearing this, the Suritala was even more enraged and ordered Nemi Khan to put Kummata under siege.

As instructed, Nemi Malluka marched on Karnata with an army of 400,000 horse, 6000 elephants and 2000 elephants, and camped at Bidare. Hearing this, Kampila called for a council of war and it is decided that Kampila’s army should fight from Kummata. Baicappa and Barevanda Nayaka led the advance guard and camped outside Kummata. Baicappa sent messages to other forts like Mudigallu to prepare for defence. When Nemi arrived at Heddore, Kampila also marched on Kummata. There, it is decided that Kattanna should take charge of the first day of battle. He sallied out of the fort with 40,000 foot, 4000 horse and 400 elephants. He killed 7000 enemy and captured 2000 horse before returning back. Nemi, dejected, spent the whole night in council. He started the next day with eight detachments of 750 elephants, 1000 horses and 250 camels each. Rama, in the meanwhile, left Kummata to collect more troops and returned back. The next day, in the battle, the kings of Malava, Magadha, Pulinda, Gurjara, Lala and Hammira rained arrows on Rama and many units concentrated their attack on Rama which Rama beat back. Next Nemi collected the scattered troops again and sent them on another attack on Rama. Katanna came to his rescue and scattered Nemi’s army. Rama secured an immense booty in horses, camels, elephants and valuables, and returned to his father. After that, they left to Hosadurga. Nemi followed his army and narrated the disaster to the Suratala. The Suratala felt grieved that his whole army is destroyed by one person, the Hindu Rama. He ordered Nemi not to give up his plans against Kummata Durga.

Rama’s victory of Nemi was followed by celebrations in Kampila’s capital and many chiefs from all directions arrived. While the festivities were going on, Kampila’s younger wife Ratnaji espied Rama. She was a lady of doubtful character and once tried to entice Anna Bhairava. One look at Rama, she lusted for him and her handmaid Sangi tried to console her in all sorts of ways. Ratnaji bided for her time.

One day, when Kampila was out hunting, Rama, being left behind, thought of spending his time in recreation. First day, he went to Tungabhadra with his friends and spent time boating. Next day, he chose to spend at a ball play. He chose a pearl ball which belonged to his grandfather and one which was in the custody of his mother Hariyala Devi. Fearing evil, his mother tried to dissuade him by saying such boyish pranks won’t suit him when armies are massing to attack the kingdom from all directions. Instead, she asked him to spend time strengthening Kummata, the main fort of the kingdom. All her entreaties fell on deaf year and she gave him the ball and asked him not to incur the displeasure of his cousins. Rama went to play behind the queen palace’s enclosure in Hosadurga. After playing for some time, the ball fell in Ratnaji’s palace. When Rama sent Katanna to fetch the ball, she refused to give it to her and asked Rama to come and fetch the ball. Having no other way, Rama went. When both were alone, Ratnaji expressed her love to Rama and said, she was proposed as a bride to Rama but Kampila married her against her will. Shocked at her unnatural infatuation, Rama tried to draw her attention to their current relationship. Unmoved, she tried to entice Rama in all ways possible. And Rama was adamant. He spurned all her offers of reward and slighted her threats of punishment. At last, realizing his situation, he tore himself out of her grasp and escaped. Ratnaji swore vengeance and waited for Kampila’s return. On his arrival, she put on appearance of violence against her and misrepresented the whole incident by saying in the pretext of getting the ball, he entered her chamber and tried to ravish her. Further she added, when she refused to yield reminding of his father, he defied his father’s will. An enraged Kampila ordered Baichappa to behead Rama and others who were with him that day. Surprised at the hasty orders and fully knowing that the prince is innocent, Baichappa hesitated to carry the orders. But, he had to yield. He went to Rama and communicated the order to him. Rama was ready for the punishment and narrated what happened. Baichappa reflected. Armies are massing everywhere and if Rama is not there, there won’t be anyone to protect Kampila. He also knows that on death of Rama, the Musalas will triumph from Kedara to Setu and convinced Rama to conceal himself till the time is ripe. He constructed an underground cell in his palace and hid there with his companions. After that, he carried dummy bodies in procession and Rama’s supposed wives were also sent to the pyre while the real ones were sent to the cell. Baichappa told the secret only to Harihara Devi.

The news of Rama’s death eventually reached Delhi and the Suritala sent another army under Nemi to destroy Kummata. Nemi promised to bring Kampila as a prisoner and set out with 3,90,000 horse. Contingents joined him till he reached Bidire.

 Kampila was sad that with the death of Ramanatha, there is none left to protect Kummata. He asked Baichappa to fortify Hosamale and Kummata and ordered him to march ahead of him. When Kampila got news that Nemi crossed Heddore, he started for Kummata. Reflecting over the plight they were placed in, Kampila started scolding Baichappa. Anna Bhairava tried to cheer Kampila and everyone, including Badura Khana started to support Bhairava. Kampila then praised Badura Khana and gave him horses, armour and soldiers. Baichappa told the king he had a new warrior in view with whose help they can destroy Nemi’s army. And he narrated the story of this new warrior, which closely resembled that of Kumara Rama. He promised to bring the warrior three days after the siege of the fort by Nemi.

Nemi crossed the river six months later and encamped close to Kummata. Kampila ordered Baichappa to march against him. Baichappa took Anna Bhairava, Aliya Mallarasa and Vira Badura along with their contingents. After this, he sent for the horses of those who died with Rama and distributed them to his ablest soldiers along with honours, titles and presents. When he asked for the horse of Rama, Kampila was surprised and asked, why would he want the horse which no one can ride. Baichappa told it’s for his new warrior.

Nemi placed a guard of 20000 soldiers for his camp for the night. But, Baichappa struck killing and injuring many, throwing the Muslim camp into confusion. He returned to Kummata with many enemy heads and camp equipment. Kampila honoured Baichappa’s men befittingly.

At the break of dawn, both sides arrayed themselves for war. Baichappa placed the main commanders and troops at important positions in the fort and got ready for the fight. In spite of all this, Nemi was not impressed. He coolly said, Rama is dead and it’s an easy matter to capture the fort and ordered his troops to surround the fort from three sides braving the attacks from the defenders. The defenders feared the fort would fall only to see Kampila come in person and revive their flagging fortunes. By evening, the fort was secure and the Muslim armies retreated to the camp.

After Kampila returned to his audience hall, he asked Baichappa if his chosen cavalier has arrived to which Baichappa responded in affirmative. When Kampila asked to see him, Baichappa replied, the warrior was unwilling to appear before the king before Nemi is defeated and driven away. The king, impressed, sent presents to the warrior. Then, the minister asked Rama to come to Kummata.

Next day, the horse was very pleased to see Rama and allowed itself to be decorated in the most elaborate fashion. Rama asked Baichappa to fortify Gangemala and other places. While the minister left in the direction of those places, Rama entered the fort. Nemi also arranged his troops close to where Kampila’s troops were stationed in battle formation. But when Ramanatha rode amidst the troops of Kampila, some of Nemi’s men recognized him and started to desert their posts in fear. Nemi encouraged them and arranged his army. Ramanatha rode forth with rapidity and attacked the enemy forces, hacking them without remorse. The army fragmented and Nemi Malluka had to flee with his personal guard. Taking advantage of the carnage, Kampila’s troops rode forth to complete the slaughter. Kampila, who was watching this was profuse in his praises of the new warrior and asked Baichappa to bring him to him. Baichappa replied, he is none but your son Rama whom he concealed. At this, Kampila was visibly moved. Baichappa then sent the king to the palace and marched into the battlefield to locate Rama. Once back in the palace, he presented Rama before his father. His father was visibly overcome and fondled him. Both of them then rode off to Hosamale Durga after the affairs in Kummata were settled. Harihara Devi and the whole town was overjoyed and Ratnaji, fearing retribution, committed suicide. Knowing this, Kampila wept bitterly . Consoling himself, he arranged for her cremation. Ramanatha also felt sad at the death and felt that the days of happiness for his father are over.

The destruction of Nemi’s army reached the Suratala even before Nemi reached Delhi. Enraged at the humiliation, he asked for the detailed account only to learn that it was Rama who destroyed his army – his best Khans were killed, Nemi is beaten, army was scattered and many chiefs were taken captive besides the loss of countless horse, transport wagons, granary and treasure. The Suritala blamed Nemi for being twice defeated by a body and said that he is surprised that, while his best Khans are killed, Nemi returned even without a scratch on him.

Just at that time, Nemi entered Delhi and made his appearance before the king. The king refused to talk to him and he was thinking of finding a leader who can capture and bring back Ramanatha. Such was the tension, none dared to speak in the hall. At this time, a woman by name Matangi, the Suritala’s door keeper broke silence by offering her services. She is born in Matanga caste and was known as Matangi because of that. She submitted, if she is permitted, she will destroy Kummata and Hosamale and humble Kampila and bring Ramanatha. She pressed her offer on him and told not to belittle her under the impression that her fate will be no different from that of her predecessors. Impressed, he appointed her as his commander-in-chief and sent her off with much presents and the royal flagstaff. Not just that, cartloads of ganja, toddy and arrack along with thousands of women in palanquins were added to her retinue. With an army of 1,000 elephants, 6,000 camels, 10,00,000 horse and 1,00,00,000 foot and proceeded towards Kummata and encamped at Bidare.

When news reached Rama of the Muslim army, he sent the message to his father. Kampila asked his minister for advice and Baichappa said, going by the size of the army, it makes no sense to split the army and fight at Hosadurga as it is a bigger fort. Message was sent to Rama who didn’t get angry but laughed and said Kummata is the safest part of Hosamale and if it is lost, Hosamale can’t be held. Besides, he said, abandoning Kummata will be seen as scared away by a woman and thus become a laughing stock before the world. Further he added, military glory mattered more to him more than land, vehicles or women and would not see his honour tarnished. He took leave of the minister telling him, he would see the king only after he drove away Matangi. Till then, he said, neither his mother nor his father should be worried of him. Instead, he asked 2,00,000 honnus of gold to pay salary to his troops. His parents were sad when they heard that and Kampila sent sixty pots of gold coins to his son with royal seal. After receiving the money, Rama fortified Kummata.

Meanwhile, Matangi started from Bidure and reached Kummata after eight days. She divided her army into eight units and assigned seven Khans to seven sides with she holding the east side. Ramanatha unleashed the first wave under Katanna who sallied with 2000 horses and 30000 warriors taking the enemy by surprise killing many Khans and soldiers. He brought back 1000 horses as booty. Rama sent a part of it to his father.

At the news of the siege, Kampila understood the Matangi will certainly blockade Kummata and kill Rama. He sent message to Rama to come and see him once at least. Rama paid a short visit to his parents who gave him additional gold to fund his fight.

Matangi rebuked her Vazirs for the failure to which they promised a better fight the next day. She sent a message to Rama to submit to the Suritala by surrendering Badura and accepting his daughter in marriage. Rama laughed this off and got ready for fight. He led the charge the next day and scattered the advance troops of the enemy. Surprised at the vigour, Matangi sent a few Brahmins, disciles of Vadi Vidyananda of Maleyakheda offering peace but with the same conditions. They tried to convince him by asking him not to throw his life away trivially after achieving much. But, Rama didn’t budge and sent them away.

Matangi then sent Madura Khana with 10,00,000 foot and 2,00,000 horse to lay siege to Kummata and herself marched on Rama with 30,000 foot and 3,000 horse. Rama was unconcerned but roused to action by his brother-in-law Sangama, he sallied forth, killing many Khans and cloving the army into two. While battle was raging at one part, Madura Khana was slowly dismantling the fort defences. The numbers drowned the defences of the fort and Katanna, holding the area had to abandon post and retreat into the town with his men. After much slaughter, the town and the fort fell, and along with it, many noted warriors of Rama.

When the news of the fall of Kummata reached Matangi, she was very happy and disengaged, to march towards the fort. Seeing the fort burning behind him, Rama lost heart and rushed towards the fort. Katanna met him at the gates and on entering the palace, he saw the royal women standing by the side of a fire-pit taking leave of their menfolk. Rama prayed in the shrine of Lord Siva and returned back to speak to them, after which the women jumped into the fire. He collected the valuables and distributed them amongst those who are still standing and got ready for the final issue.

Soon after, another charge of the enemy was launched against Rama. His forces scattered, unable to take the pressure but with Katanna and Badura on their sides, Rama and Sangama held their ground. Even the Khans who entered the fort at the pillage were surprised at their courage. For a while Rama and his band kept the enemy at bay and when repulsed, they charged with greater vehemence. Amidst the melee, Katanna, Badura(possibly the son of the refugee as young Badura is used in the text) and Sangama, all fell. Egged by the taunts and rebukes of Matangi, they attacked him continuously from all sides – Ramanatha continued fighting with the courage of despair till at last, he fell, struck by an unknown hand. The triumph of Matangi was complete.

Rama’s head was cut off, wrapped in a cloth of gold and sent to Delhi. The Suritala felt greatly grieved and his daughter died of broken heart. The Suritala raised a tomb on her body and asked the wisemen of the court, as to what to do with the head. They told it’s not better to keep it with him. They took the head back to Kummata and disposed it there. His soul was transformed into one of the Siva Ganas and he became canonized as a saint and worshipped by many.

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