During the fall of the Gupta Empire in the early 6th century CE, several independent kingdoms arose in Bangladesh, of which the most famous was the Gauda kingdom. It was the historic capital of Bengal and is now a ruined city on the Indo-Bangladesh border. The city of Gauda is also known as Lakshmanavati. The Gauda kingdom, founded by King Shashanka, was the first independent kingdom established by Bengalis in Bengal’s history.
- Shashankadeva or Shashanka was the sovereign ruler of the Gauda Empire of ancient Bengal and the first independent king of a unified state in the Bengal region. He united many small kingdoms of Bengal and formed the extended Gauda empire.
- Shashanka or Shashankadeva was the only known King of the Gauda kingdom. According to historians he ruled between 593 and 637 CE.
- Beginning on the day of his succession to the throne, the Bengali Calendar, or “Bangabda“, officially starts to count.
- Shashank was a worshiper of Shiva. Banabhata, Hiuen Tsang, and various Buddhist scriptures call him an anti-Buddhist. Banabhatta called Shashanka ‘Gaudaham‘ and ‘Gaudbhujanga‘. Shashanka’s capital was Karnasubarna.
- After Shashanka’s death in 637 CE, a grave disaster occurred in the history of Bengal. Anarchy was the permanent rule of Bengal during this time. In the Buddhist text called ‘Aryamanjushrimulkalpa‘, this anarchic condition of Bengal is mocked as ‘Gauda Tantra‘. This anarchic state is called Matsyanyaya. In this critical situation in the national life of Bengal, the leaders of Bengal placed a person named Gopal on the throne of Bengal and as a result, the Pala dynasty was established in Bengal.
- Manava, Shashanka’s son, ruled the Gaur kingdom for eight months following his father’s death. However, Harshavardhana and Kamarupa’s Bhaskaravarman soon had control over Gauda. Karnasubarna was captured by even Bhaskaravarman.
The renowned Indian archaeologist Rakhaldas Bandyopadhyay, who is best known for his discoveries in Mohenjo Daro, wrote the historical novel Shashanka, which was first published in 1914. He considered Shashanka to be a compelling representation of Bengal’s glorious past and ambitions for the future.
Military Campaigns of Shashanka:
There were three major campaigns carried out by King Shashanka. There are discussed below:
- Campaign against the Varmans of Kamarupa (Assam) between 595 and 600 C.E. Shashanka defeated the king, and princes Bhaskaravarma of kamrupa And Supratisthita.
- Campaign against the Maukharis of Kanyakubja (Kanauj) in 606 C.E. Shashanka killed Rajyavardhana.
- War with Harsha of Thanesar in 606 C.E. The battle’s outcome was inconclusive.
What was King Shashanka’s religious affiliation?
What contributed to the decline of the Gauda Kingdom?
[Internal conflicts and opposition from rival rulers]
What was the capital of the Gauda Kingdom?