Pala Dynasty – Ancient Assam History

The Pala Dynasty :

There is a gap in the historical account of the period between the reign of Balavarman III and Tyagasingha, the last king of Mlechchha dynasty. Tyagasingha possibly died childless, but the danger of rebellion centering round his heirless death was tactfully avoided by the officers by choosing Brahmapala to the throne. This is evident from the Bargaon grant of Ratnapala which states:”Seeing that the twenty-first of them (the line of Salastambha ), the illustrious Tyagasingha by name had departed to heaven without leaving any of his heir to succeed him, his officials, thinking it well that a Bhauma (of Naraka’s race) should be appointed as their lord chose Brahmapala from along his kindred to be their king on account of his fitness to undertake the government of the country,”According to the Hara-Gauri-Sambada, the family of Madhava, who is identified with Salastambha, was followed by that of Jitari, who ruled for eight generations.

The epigraphs of the Palas also give the names of eight kings beginning with Brahmapala and Jitari were the same person. Brahmapala possibly hailed from the western part of the kingdom of Kamarupa for which he is said to have come from the Dravida country in the Hara-Gauri Sambada. The title ‘Pala’ is an abbreviation of the Sanskriti term Palaka, which means protector, i.e., a ruler or administrator. It seems that this title was a popular one among the rulers of north eastern India of the time and in imitation of the contemporary Pala kings of Bengal, Brahmapala also assumed that title. Brahmapala’s reign may be placed between 990-1010 A.D.

Kamarupa Pala Kings (Pragjyotisha)
c.AD 900 – 1100

Kamarupa (or Kamrupa, or even Kamrup) was an ancient Indian region in south-eastern Bengal and Assam. It was known as Pragjyotisha in mythology. Assam itself was also known by this name in the ancient period, but it is not clear if the kingdom bore the region’s name, or vice versa. It is possible that Pragjyotisha’s origins as a distinct kingdom far predated its emergence into history.

Its earliest reference is found in the Allahabad Prashasti, where it is noted as an eastern frontier state along with Davaka, Nepala, Karttrapura, and Samatata. The kingdom was known as Kirat Pradesh (or Twipra, which equates to modern Tripura). It defeated theMlechha kings and took control of their territory. Unlike their Buddhist Pala counterparts in Bengal, the Kamarupa Palas were Vaishanavites and drew their lineage from the Varman kings.

The dating for these kings is shown differently in some sources, with the names of the first six kings being unrecorded and Brahmapala reigning about 990-1010. The subsequent order is the same down to Dharmapala, who is shown reigning about 1095-1115. The same sources erroneously place the last of the Mlechha kings, Tyagasimha, in the Kamarupa list at about 970-990.

c.900 – 920


Kingdom founder.

c.920 – 960

Ratnapala / Rativapala

c.960 – 990


c.975 – 990

According to the copperplates issued by his successors, the Chandra king, Kalyanachandra, makes his power felt in Gauda and Kamarupa. He may be responsible for delivering the final blow to Kamboja power in northern and western Bengal and thereby paving the way for the revival of Pala power under Mahipala I.

India of AD 900 was remarkably unchanged in terms of its general distribution of the larger states – only the names had changed, although now there was a good deal more fracturing and regional rule by minor states or tribes.

c.990 – 1015


c.1015 – 1035


c.1035 – 1060


c.1060 – 1100

Information on the Kamarupa kings becomes very sketchy and confusing from this point. Dharmapala is often claimed as the last independent king who is overthrown by the Pala king, Ramapala, and a regional governor is installed. However, the timescale appears too long for this to be true, unless the given dates are wrong. Ramapala does not accede to the Bengal throne until 1077, making this the earliest date at which he could conquer Kamarupa. Instead, the occasional claim that Jayapala succeeds Dharmapala is probably an accurate one. The dates are approximate here, so Jayapala may also immediately succeed Dharmapala, but this cannot be proved.

c.1075 – 1100


c.1100 – 1110

The Pala king, Ramapala, apparently conquers Kamarupa about 1100 and sets up a Pala governor to control the territory in his name.

Gaud Pala Kings of Bengal (in Assam)
AD 1110 – 1140

The Pala king, Ramapala, restored much of the past glory of his Pala dynasty in Bengal. After crushing a rebellion, he extended his empire farther, reaching as far as Kamarupa (Assam) about 1100-1115. Here, he replaced his Assam Pala cousins with Timgyadeva, the new Pala governor for the region. But Timgyadeva declared his independence in 1110, setting himself up as an independent king. The same thing happened in 1140, briefly, before the governors were removed entirely.

1110 – 1126

Timgyadeva / Timeyadeva

Former Pala governor. Declared independence.


While it seems to take some time for his former Pala masters to deal with Timgyadeva, retribution for his declaration of independence arrives in the form of Kumarapala, son of Ramapala. Timgyadeva is deposed (his ultimate fate is unknown) and a new governor is assigned to the region.

1126 – 1140


Former Pala governor. Declared independence.


Following the death of Kumarapala, his Pala governor in Assam, Vaidyadeva, also declares his independence, but his reign is very brief as the Kamarupa kings take this opportunity to restore their own rule.

Towards the close of rule of the Salastambhas, Pundravardhana passed on to the hands of Bengal’s ruler. The western boundary of the Kamrupa kingdom at the time of Brahmapala’s accession to the throne was, therefore, again regressed to the river Karatoya. Brahmaputra abdicated the throne in favour of his son Ratnapala. Ratnapala (c.1010-40A.D) was a powerful king. He made several land-grants. He shifted the capital city of his kingdom of Pragjyotishpur, strongly fortified it and named it as Durjaya or Sri Durjaya (impregnable).He defeated a king of Gouda named Rajyapala,which is evident from an inscription belonging to one of his successors, Gopala.

Ratnapala appears to have encouraged trade and commerce as well as learning and education. Ratnapala’s son Indrapala (c.1040-65A.D.) defeated Kalyana Chandra, son of Sri Chandra of Bengal and to mark this victory made land-grants in Pundravardhana to a Brahmana hailing from Sravasthi. Indrapala married Rajyadevi, a Rashtrakuta princess. He was succeeded by his son Gopala (c.1065-85), who was a man of merit and intelligence. His Grachtal inscription contains important information about his predecessors. During the reign of the next king Harshapala (c.1085-95), Jatavarman, king of East Bengal snatched away a part of Pundravardhana, then under the sovereign rule of Kamarupa. However, this was soon recovered by Dharmapala (c.1095-1120), son and successor of Harshapala.

Three inscription belonging to Dharmapala’s reign are found, which speak about his prowess and manifold qualities. He was a great patron of religion and learning and himself a poet. The first eight verses of the Pushpabhadra grant were composed by him. Towards the end of his reign,Dharmapala was conducting his administration from his capital at Kamarupanagar,which can be considered only as an extension of the old city of Pragjyotishpur to North Guwahati. Jaypala, the son of Dharmapala, who is identified by P.C. Choudhury with Ramchandra mentioned in Ram Charita of Sandhyakaranandi, ruled sometime between 1120-30A.D. During his reign, Kamarupa was attacked by Mayana, the general of Ramapala, the Pala king of Bengal,and as a result of the war,the Kamarupadhipati lost his possession in North Bengal.

The Bengal king placed Tingyadeva as his vassal king in the part. Later when Tingyadeva rebelled, Ramapala’s son Kumarapala, who then ruled Gauda, sent Vaidyadeva to suppress him. Vaidyadeva not only suppressed Tingyadeva,but also conquered Kamarupa and declared his independence in 1138 A.D..He assumed the title Maharajadhiraja Parameswara Paramabhattaraka.

***This Notes are the Self Studies and prepared by the Author of Assam Gk taking help and reference from Govt. of  AssamWikipedia, World History Maps and published work of other Authors.

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