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Medieval History / Early Medieval Era

Pala and Sena Dynasty of Bengal


    Pala dynasty ruled from 8th century AD to 12th century AD. They are the last known followers of Buddhism (Both Mahayana and Vajrayana). They ruled the East Indian region mainly Bengal and Bihar. The Sena dynasty was founded by Samanta Sena. Under Vijaya Sena, the kingdom became independent.

    Pala Dynasty

    • The founder of Pala kingdom was Gopala. According to one tradition, Gopala got elected by the people.
    • Dharmapala -
      • Dharmapala revived Nalanda university and founded a number of Vajrayana Universities in Bihar like Vikramashila University, Somapura University, Odantapuri University, etc.
      • During his reign, two Vajrayana saints named Padmasambhava and Shantarakshita went to Tibet to introduce Vajrayana Buddhism.
    • Devapala - He shifted the capital from Pataliputra to Monghyr in Bihar. His Nalanda Copper Plate inscription (Land Grant) says that he donated 5 villages to a Buddhist Vihara built by Balaputradeva, the king of Indonesia.
    • During the reign of Mahipala, a South Indian king named Rajendra Chola I conquered North India and defeated Mahipala.
    • Last king Madanapala was defeated by the Sena king Vijaya Sena. By this time, Sena dynasty was ruling as subordinate kings to Pala kingdom.

    Sena Dynasty

    • Nabadwip was the capital of Sena kingdom.
    • Lakshmana Sena -
      • He had a great scholar of Vaishnava literature named Jayadeva, who wrote Gita Govindam in Sanskrit. It is a very sacred book of Vaishnavites. He had five Sanskrit scholars in his court called Pancharatnas.
      • Bakhtiyar Khilji, the military general of Ghurid dynasty, entered Bengal in 1203 AD and defeated Lakshmana Sena. Bihar and western parts of Bengal came under Muslim rule.
      • Bakhtiyar Khilji destroyed all the Buddhist universities including Nalanda University. All the Buddhists, who stayed in the universities, were killed by Khilji. From this action, Buddhism was routed out from India.