Devapala (810 AD – 850 AD) was a powerful emperor of the Pala Dynasty. He succeeded his father, Emperor Dharmapala (770 AD – 810 AD). Apart from inheriting a great empire from his father, Deva Pala also inherited his father’s strategies and statesmanship. Under his regime, almost entire Northern India extending from the Himalayas to the Vindhya and from the Eastern to the Western seas was under the Pala Dynasty, thus, describing him as the “paramount lord of the entire northern India” in the Badal Pillar Inscription. The period of his reign was marked with a sequence of military campaigns against adversaries like Pragjyotishas, Utkalas, Huns, Gurjaras and the Dravidians.
Devapala as described in Badal Pillar Inscription
The Badal Pillar inscription depicts the administration, military and conquests of Deva Pala, which honoured him with a greater empire and strong military force.
Devapala War and Expansion
It is understood from the inscription that, Deva Pala’s Brahmin minister, Darbha Pani and the latter’s grandson, Kedara Mitra were helpful in the expansion of the kingdom and how Darbha Pani used his diplomacy to make Deva Pala the lord paramount of entire north India. More specifically, the inscriptions reveal that his victorious military campaigns led him as far as to Kamboja of northwest and Deccan in the south and that he exterminated the Utkalas, conquered the Pragjyotisha (Assam), shattered the pride of the Hunas, and humbled the lords of Gurjaras, Pratiharas and the Dravidas. Information provided by these inscriptions bears witness to Devapala’s encounter with the Kambojas of Kabol valley, which nation, since remote antiquity, had been known for its quality war horses. The Monghyr Charter also bears witness to the fact that the Palas recruited their war horses from this Kamboja of the northwest. King Devapala definitely had some sort of relations with the north-west borderland of India (i.e. Kamboja) which fact also appears probable from his connections with Viradeva, a scholar from Nagarahara, Jalalabad near Kabul whom he had appointed to the post of Abbot of Nalanda in south Bihar. Probably, Devapala had brought Viradeva during his military expedition to Kamboja in North-West.
Devapala Religious Beliefs
Devapala was a staunch Buddhist and is stated to have granted five villages to Buddhist monasteries for the promotion of Buddhism and the welfare & comforts of the Bhikshus. He is said to have got constructed many temples and monasteries in Magadha. Balaputradeva, the Sailendra king of Java requested Devapala to endow land for the monastery at Nalanda.
Death of Devapala and Disintegration of Pala Empire
During his last few years Devapala gave up the throne and there were a lot of troubles amongst his successors. Devapala died in his palace at the around age of 75 . As soon as he died the Pala States of northern India declared their independence. By the turn of the century (around 900 AD) Pala Empire was confined to the region of Bengal.