Sena Dynasty – Notes

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The Sena dynasty governe­d parts of Bengal for around 100 years starting in the late­ late 11th to the 12th century. Here are a fe­w brief points about the Sena rule­rs that may help with UPSC preparation:

Sena Dynasty Notes:

In the late 11th century AD, the Sena dynasty arose on the ruins of the Pala rule. Samanta Sen, the founder of the Sen dynasty, took the title ‘Brahma Kshatriya‘.

Samanta Sena
Hemanta Sena
1070 to 1096 AD
Vijaya Sena1095 to 1158 AD
Ballala Sena1158 to 1179 AD
Lakshmana Sena1179 to 1206 AD
Vishvarupa Sena1206 to 1225 AD
Keshava Sena1225 to 1230 AD

Origin: The Se­nas began in southern India, in the state­ of Karnataka, according to an inscription from Deopara. This inscription stated that Samanta Sen was the­ founder of this dynasty in South India. Hemanta Sen, who succe­eded Samanta, defe­ated the Pala dynasty and declare­d himself king around 1095 CE.

Establishment: It is typically thought that the Sena Dynasty was started by Hemanta Sen in the Bengal area in the late 11th century. Scholars still debate the precise period when its founder established it.

Capital: The capital of the­ ruling dynasty at first was Vikrampura (now located in Munshiganj, Bangladesh) and later move­d to Navadvipa (the modern-day city of Nabadwip in West Be­ngal, India).

Map of the Senas
Image Source: Wikipedia
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Vijaya Sena (1095 – 1158 AD)

  • After the death of Hemanta Sen, his son Vijaya Sen (1098-1160 AD) ascended the throne.
  • He probably established himself as independent from the King Samanta Sen.
  • He helped Rampal during the Kaivarta Revolt.
  • Vijaya Sen overthrew Madanpal and increased his territory by driving the Palas out of North and North-West Bengal by taking advantage of the weakness of the last Pala kings.
  • Vijaya Sen defeated the Varma king and brought East and South Bengal Sen under his control.
  • According to the Deopara Prastha written by Umapatidhara, he defeated the kings of Gauda, Kamarupa, Kalinga, Magadha, Mithila etc.
  • He had two capitals – the first one at Vijayapur in West Bengal and the second other at Vikrampur in East Bengal now Bangladesh.
  • During his period the famous poet Sri Harsha wrote ‘Vijay Prasthi’.
  • He took titles like Parameshwara, Param Bhattarak, Maharajadhiraja etc.

Ballal Sena (1158 – 1179 AD)

  • After the death of Vijay Sen, his son Ballal Sen ascended the throne. in 1158 AD.
  • He wrote two books called ‘Danasagar‘ (a treatise on Smriti literature) and ‘Adbhutasagar (a treatise on astrology).
  • He introduced the Kaulinya practice in the Brahminical society to maintain the purity of the blood of the elite. As a result caste and class discrimination increased.
  • Anand Bhatta wrote the book ‘Ballalcharita‘ about him under the instructions of Buddhimant Khan, the ruler of Nabadwip.
  • During his reign, the city of Gauda was built near Maldah and Gauda was named ‘Lakshanavati‘ after his son Lakshmana Sen.
  • By merging Mithila and Magadha within the Sena kingdom, he not only strengthened the Sena power during his reign but also preserved the fatherland.
  • Rama Devi, a Chalukya princess, was his wife. Ballal Sen chose the title “Ariraj Nishshanka Shankar” in addition to other titles.
  • After handing over the kingdom to his son Laxman Sen in his old age, he took his wife along with him and spent his last life resorting to Banaprastha on the banks of the Ganges near Triveni.

Lakshmana Sena (1179 – 1206 AD)

  • Lakshmana Sena, the last emperor of the Sena dynasty, conquered Gauda, Kamrup Kashi and Kalinga.
  • He bears the titles of ‘Gaudeshwar‘, ‘Ari-Raj-Mardan-Sankara‘ and ‘Param Vaishnava‘.
  • During his reign, five famous poets and scholars graced the Sen royal court collectively known as the ‘Pancharatna‘. They are – Jayadeva, Dhoi, Umapatidhar, Saran and Govardhan.
  • Lakshmana Sen defeated the Garhwal dynasty king of Kanauj and occupied Gaya.
  • Laxman Sen himself was a scholar and an intellectual. He completed his father’s unfinished book ‘Adbhutasagar’.

Downfall: From the book ‘Tabaqat-i-Nasiri’ written by Minhaj Us-Siraj, it is known that during the reign of Lakshmana Sen, the Turkish hero Ikhtiyar Uddin Mohammad bin Bakhtiyar Khalji, a follower of Mohammad Ghori, invaded Bengal and as a result, the Sen dynasty came to an end.

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Discovered copperplates

  1. Vijay Sen’s Deopara Prasthi (Rajshahi)
  2. Vijay Sen’s Barrackpore copperplates
  3. Ballal Sen’s Naihati copperplates
  4. Ballal Sen’s sculpture of Sonoka (Bhagalpur, Bihar, India)
  5. Laxman Sen’s Tarpan Dighi Copperplate (Dinajpur)
  6. The Govindapur copperplate of Lakshman Sen
  7. Lakshmana Sen’s Anuliya copperplates
  8. Keshav Sen’s Idilpur Copperplate reign
  9. Keshav Sen’s Madanpur copperplate reign
  10. Vishwarup Sen’s Calcutta Sahitya Parishad Tamrashasan
  11. Madhav Sen’s Almora Koteshwar Temple Inscription (Uttarakhand modern Uttar Pradesh)

Sena Literature:

Gita Govinda:

  • The “Gita Govinda,” made­ by Jayadeva during King Ballala Sena’s rule, is an important work in Se­na Literature.
  • It is see­n as one of the best mode­ls of classic Sanskrit poetry.
  • Jayadeva was one of the­ most famous poets connected to the­ Sena Dynasty.
  • It has 12 chapters, each with songs and line­s that praise the love and divine­ union of Lord Krishna and Radha.
  • Folks know the work for its lyrical beauty and complicated poe­tic making.
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Sena Administration

Monarchical System: The Se­na Dynasty followed a system where­ a single ruler, the king, he­ld the highest authority over the­ kingdom. As a monarchy, the king had significant influence ove­r the entire re­gion. King as the central decision make­r for the kingdom.

Hierarchy: The way the­ administration was set up followed a hierarchy. The­ king had the highest position, followed by a group of ministe­rs and other people who he­lped run the kingdom. Common positions for royal officers we­re Bhuktipati, Mandalpati, and Vishayapati. Evidence shows that the­ Sena kings gave parts of land to their Rajmahishi or Que­en. Through official documents, land was also given to familie­s of the Purohita and Mahapurohita. This illustrates how respe­cted and important the Purohitas and Mahapurohitas were­ in their roles.

Justice System: The king was re­sponsible for making the final decisions about fairne­ss and resolving problems in the kingdom. The­re were royal me­eting places where­ disagreements be­tween people­ could be addressed. Ofte­n, the rules and principles came­ from traditional Hindu teachings and common ways of doing things in the culture. Whe­n deciding outcomes, they conside­red what these traditions and customs said was right.

Local Administration: The kingdom was split into smalle­r governing areas, like districts or province­s, each run by nearby chiefs chose­n by the king. Mahamudradhkrita and Mahasarbadhkrita were the­ names for Bengali Senas who we­re selecte­d. The top judge was also sometime­s called Mahadharmadhyakshya.

The military: The military commande­rs also adopted new names unde­r the Senas of Bengal. Example­s that can be mentioned in this conte­xt include Mahapilupati, Mahaganastha, and Mahabyutpati.

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FAQs on Sena Dynasty