The Seuna, Sevuna or Yadavas of Devagiri (c. 850–1334) was an Indian dynasty, which at its peak ruled a kingdom stretching from the Tungabhadra to the Narmada rivers, including present-day Maharashtra, north Karnataka and parts of Madhya Pradesh, from its capital at Devagiri (present-day Daulatabad in modern Maharashtra).
The Yadavas initially ruled as feudatories of the Western Chalukyas. Around the middle of the 12th century, as the Chalukya power waned, the Yadava king Bhillama V declared independence. The Yadava kingdom reached its peak under Simhana II, and flourished until the early 14th century, when it was annexed by the Delhi Sultanate.
The earliest historical ruler of the Seuna/Yadava dynasty can be dated to the mid-9th century, but the origin of the dynasty is uncertain. Little is known about their early history: their 13th century court poet Hemadri records the names of the family’s early rulers, but his information about the pre-12th century rulers is often incomplete and inaccurate.
The dynasty claimed descent from Yadu, a hero mentioned in the Puranic legends. According to this account, found in Hemadri’s Vratakhanda as well as several inscriptions, their ancestors originally resided at Mathura, and then migrated to Dvaraka (Dvaravati) in present-day Gujarat. A Jain mythological legend states that the Jain saint Jainaprabhasuri saved the pregnant mother of the dynasty’s founder Dridhaprahara from a great fire that destroyed Dvaraka. A family feudatory to the Yadavas migrated from Vallabhi (also in present-day Gujarat) to Khandesh. But otherwise, no historical evidence corroborates their connection to Dvaraka. The dynasty never tried to conquer Dvaraka, or establish any political or cultural connections with that region. Its rulers started claiming to be descendants of Yadu and migrants from Dvaraka after becoming politically prominent. Dvaraka was associated with Yadu’s descendants, and the dynasty’s claim of connection with that city may simply be a result of their claim of descent from Yadu rather than their actual geographic origin.The Hoysalas, the southern neighbours of the dynasty, similarly claimed descent from Yadu and claimed to be the former lords of Dvaraka.
The territory of the early Yadava rulers was located in present-day Maharashtra, and several scholars (especially Maharashtrian historians) have claimed a “Maratha” origin for the dynasty. However, Marathi, the language of present-day Maharashtra, began to appear as the dominant language in the dynasty’s inscriptions only in the 14th century, before which Kannada and Sanskrit were the primary language of their inscriptions. Marathi appears in around two hundred Yadava inscriptions, but usually as translation of or addition to Kannada and Sanskrit text. During the last half century of the dynasty’s rule, it became the dominant language of epigraphy, which may have been a result of the Yadava attempts to connect with their Marathi-speaking subjects, and to distinguish themselves from the Kannada-speaking Hoysalas. The earliest instance of the Yadavas using the term “marathe” as a self-designation appears in a 1311 inscription recording a donation to the Pandharpur temple, towards the end of the dynasty’s rule.
The earliest historically attested ruler of the dynasty is Dridhaprahara (c. 860-880), who is said to have established the city of Chandradityapura (modern Chandor).He probably rose to prominence by protecting the people of Khandesh region from enemy raiders, amid the instability brought by the Pratihara-Rashtrakuta war.
Dridhaprahara son and successor was Seunachandra (c. 880-900), after whom the dynasty was called Seuna-vamsha and their territory was called Seuna-desha. He probably became a Rashtrakuta feudatory after helping the Rashtrakutas against their northern neighbours, the Paramaras. He established a new town called Seunapura (possibly modern Sinnar).
Not much information is available about Seunachandra’s successors — Dhadiyappa (or Dadhiyappa), Bhillama I, and Rajugi (or Rajiga) — who ruled during c. 900-950. The next ruler Vandugi (also Vaddiga I or Baddiga) raised the family’s political status by marrying into the imperial Rashtrakuta family. He married Vohivayya, a daughter of Dhorappa, who was a younger brother of the Rashtrakuta emperor Krishna III. Vandugi participated in Krishna’s military campaigns, which may have resulted in an increase in his fief, although this cannot be said with certainty.
Little is known about the next ruler, Dhadiyasa (c. 970-985). His son Bhillama II acknowledged the suzerainty of the Kalyani Chalukya ruler Tailapa II, who overthrew the Rashtrakutas. As a Chalukya feudatory, he played an important role in Tailapa’s victory over the Paramara king Munja. Bhillama II was succeeded by Vesugi I (r. c. 1005-1025), who married Nayilladevi, the daughter of a Chalukya feudatory of Gujarat. The next ruler Bhillama III is known from his Kalas Budruk grant inscription. He married Avalladevi, a daughter of the Chalukya king Jayasimha II, as attested by a Vasai (Bassein) inscription. He may have helped his father-in-law Jayasimha and his brother-in-law Someshvara I in their campaigns against the Paramara king Bhoja.
For unknown reasons, the Yadava power seems to have declined over the next decade, during the reigns of Vesugi II (alias Vaddiga or Yadugi) and Bhillama IV. The next ruler was Seunachandra II, who, according to the Yadava records, restored the family’s fortunes just like the god Hari had restored the earth’s fortunes with his varaha incarnation. Seunachandra II appears to have ascended the throne around 1050, as he is attested by the 1052 Deolali inscription. He bore the feudatory title Maha-mandaleshvara and became the overlord of several sub-feudatories, including a family of Khandesh. A 1069 inscription indicates that he had a ministry of seven officers, all of whom bore high-sounding titles. During his tenure, the Chalukya kingdom saw a war of succession between the brothers Someshvara II and Vikramaditya VI. Seunachandra II supported Vikramaditya (who ultimately succeeded), and rose to the position of Maha-mandaleshvara. His son Airammadeva (or Erammadeva, r. c. 1085-1105), who helped him against Someshvara II, succeeded him. Airammadeva’s queen was Yogalla, but little else is known about his reign. The Asvi inscription credits him with helping place Vikramaditya on the Chalukya throne.
At the time of Bhillama V’s ascension in c. 1175, his nominal overlords — the Chalukyas — were busy fighting their former feudatories, such as the Hoysalas and the Kalachuris. Bhillama raided the northern Gujarat Chaulukya and Paramara territories, although these invasions did not result in any territorial annexations. The Naddula Chahamana ruler Kelhana, who was a Gujarat Chaulukya feudatory, forced him to retreat Meanwhile, the Hoysala ruler Ballala II invaded the Chalukya capital Kalyani, forcing Bhillama’s overlord Someshvara to flee. Around 1187, Bhillama forced Ballala to retreat, conquered the former Chalukya capital Kalyani, and declared himself a sovereign ruler.
In 1278, Ramachandra appears to have defeated the Turkic invaders from the Delhi Sultanate, as a Sanskrit royal inscription of that year glorifies him as a “Great Boar in securing the earth from the oppression of the Turks”. However, in 1294, Ala-ud-din Khalji of the Delhi Sultanate successfully raided Devagiri. Khalji restored it to Ramachandra in return for his promise of payment of a high ransom and an annual tribute.However, this was not paid and the Seuna kingdom’s arrears to Khalji kept mounting. In 1307, Khalji sent an army commanded by Malik Kafur, accompanied by Khwaja Haji, to Devagiri. The Muslim governors of Malwa and Gujarat were ordered to help Malik Kafur. Their huge army conquered the weakened and defeated forces of Devagiri almost without a battle. Ramachandra was taken to Delhi. Khalji reinstated Ramachandra as governor in return for a promise to help him subdue the Hindu kingdoms in South India. In 1310, Malik Kafur mounted an assault on the Kakatiya kingdom from Devagiri.
Ramachandra’s successor Simhana III challenged the supremacy of Khalji, who sent Malik Kafur to recapture Devagiri in 1313. Simhana III was killed in the ensuing battle and Khalji’s army occupied Devagiri. The kingdom was annexed by the Khalji sultanate in 1317. Many years later, Muhammad Tughluq of the Tughluq dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate subsequently renamed the city Daulatabad.
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