Bharat Ek Khoj


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The Fall of Vijaynagar
(Episode 30 )

As Nehru notes, in the sunset years of the Hindu kingdom of Vijaynagar, it faced the Bahmani kingdom in the other great state of Gulbarga. The latter is now sit into five states: Bijapur, Golconda, Bidar, Berar and Ahmednagar. There are ample incidents for the involvement of the sultanates in the Vijaynagar succession and vice versa. To enhance his chances, Rama Raya seeks the aid of Bijapur. In fact, Rama Raya seen as a consummate intriguer is safely ensconced as a regent and proceeds to pursue a tortuous policy of advancing Vijaynagar's frontiers by exploiting the rivalries among Bijapur, Golconda and the other Bahmani successors.

As the events here show, Rama Raya succeeds in fomenting mutual enmities only too well. During 20 years of complex intrigues where Rama Raya believes in making personal appearances rather than sending emissaries, loyal or otherwise, he provokes the sultanates to such an extent that they come to fear for their very survival. He invites, for instance, Adil Shah of Bijapur and entertains him to a spectacular torchfire dance before professing fraternal affection for him. This immediately sows discord against Bijapur amongst other sultanates. It appears likely that Rama Raya occasionally outrages their Islamic sensibilities by intruding while 'namaz' is being offered by a sultan.

Certainly, and fatally, Rama Raya over stretches those frayed loyalties on which Vijaynagar's cohesion had depended. In the drama, this becomes evident when the four sultans from the Qutub Shahi, Nizam Shahi, Adil Shahi and Ibrahim Shahi clans patch up their differences and consolidate their gains by judicious inter-marriage in 1564. while Rama Raya refusesto pay heed to the writing on the wall and remain blind in his faith in Vijaynagar's superiority, the four sultans turn on him in concert. To meet the gathering storm, Rama Raya summons his Nayaks even from as far south as Madurai. Most do respond, but the Vijaynagar forces are as seen in the battle scenes, catastrophically routed in the battle of Talikota in 1565. Rama Raya himself is wandered, a fact initially concealed to prevent loss of moral, but eventually beheaded, and the losses are colossal.

The magnificent city of the Vijaynagar, scene with its massive walls and ingeniously designed gatehouses is deserted and the Nayaks withdraw to their individual territories. Still the city, like the kingdom appears to have suffered less from the conquering fanatics and more from the deepening internal crisis of authority paving the way, among other, for foreign invasion including those by the Portuguese from the high seas.