The great dynesty – Raja Raja Chola
Raja Raja Chola was a great king of Chola Dynasty who ruled between 985 AD to 1014 AD. Raja Raja was a clever ruler and able administrator. It was under his rule that Chola Kingdom grew in to a great Empire. The boundaries of Chola Empire under his reign extended from Sri-Lanka in the South to Kalinga (todays Orrisa state) in the north India. Raja Raja Chola is considered as the ambitious king the world has ever seen.
Raja Raja Chola divided his kingdom into several provinces and standardized the revenue system through systematic land surveys. Villages were given autonomy in administrative affairs and at the same time made accountable by the system of audit and control. During the final days of his reign, he carried out a revenue and settlement. Inscriptions found in the temples explain the accuracy of this operation.
Raja Raja Chola gave significant prominence to his army and treated them with great spirit. His army was well structured and disciplined. This has been mentioned in the inscriptions found in the temples. The army was divided into number of regiments. There were elephant troops, cavalry and foot soldiers among these regiments. Some of the regiments were also asked to look after administration such as the maintenance of temples.
Raja Raja Chola built a magnificent Brihadishwara temple in Thanjavur. The temple stands as a finest monument of a glorious period of Hindu History and a specimen of Hindu architecture at its best. It is still a mystery for modern architects as well as historians about how the huge blocks of granites were transported over great distances and how these granites were raised to their positions in the construction of temple. The temple was taller than any structure which was built before that. Once the temple was built, it had close business relations with the rest of country.
Villages from all over the country supplied men and supplies for the maintenance of the temple. It is said that 4000 cows, 7000 sheeps, 30 buffalos were required to supply the butter which was used to light the lamps of the temple. Shivalingam, the main deity of the temple was one of the largest with 12 feet in height and 5 feet in diameters. This grand temple is considered equivalent to 200 TajMahals, which is considered as one of the wonders of the world. The 40 ton block of granite at the top of the temple has baffled the historians for years about how it was transported to that height in the ancient period.
It was during Raja Raja Cholas time that maritime trade routes were established with South East Asian countries. Also along with trade, Hindu art and architecture reached these countries. Vishnu temple in Cambodia proves this fact which stands as world’s biggest Hindu temple.
Raja Raja Chola was also a great patron of the arts. In 1965, archeologists found thousands of bronze statues, precious idols in Thanjavur which are considered to be of his time. The discovery of these statues is termed as greatest archeological discovery of the century.
Raja Raja Chola’s achievements helped his successors and especially his son Rajendra Chola under whom the empire reached its zenith. It is said that during the first eight years of his rule, Raja Raja Chola never initiated any military campaign. He was in the process of recruiting an efficient army and preparing himself for struggle so that he can expand his empire.
It was Raja Raja Chola who started the trend of writing his military and other achievements in stone inscriptions, which was later followed by his successors. He was not only interested in recording his achievements, but was also keenon preserving the records of his predecessors. The grants that he made to the Thanjavur temple are also recorded with the help of stone inscriptions. In spite of all these inscriptions, no eye witness has left a portrait of the king, nor there is a authentic statue or painting of Raja Raja Chola.
Raja Raja Chola was an ardent follower of Sri Shiva, but respected all the other sects of Hindu Dharma. Not only had that he built many temples of Sri Vishnu for Vaisnavites, he also built Buddhist Viharas (temples), and made arrangements for maintaining it.
For all these deeds and achievements, Raja Raja Chola is considered as one of the greatest rulers of Hindu History.