Middle Kingdoms of India, Part 52


BY: SUN STAFF - 21.4 2021

Lord Nrsimhadeva
Pala Sena School, 5th c.

A serial presentation of India's great history, religious movements and temple architecture.

The Senas

'The Sena ruler Samantasena described himself as a Kshatriya of Karnata (Karnataka). He himself stated that he fought the outlaws of Karnata and later turned an ascetic. The inscriptions of the Sena kings mention them as Brahma-Kshatriyas or Kshatriyas.[60f]

Otherwise, sources have identified them with the Vaidya as well as the Ambashtha caste or sub-caste, considered as a mixed caste, being born of Brahmin father and Vaishya mother, [60g] and they married with and were identified with the Bengali Vaidyas (commonly known as Baidyas in Bengal) in Vaidya Kula-panjikas (family-tree accounts).

The Sena Dynasty ruled Bengal for a little over a century, c. 1097-1225 A.D. The emergence of the dynasty, which supplanted the Palas in Bengal towards the close of the 11th Century, constituted a significant epoch in the history of ancient India.

Taking advantage of the revolt of Samantachakra in Varendra during the reign of Mahipala II, Vijaysena gradually consolidated his position in western Bengal and ultimately assumed an independent position during the reign of Madanapala.

An important aspect of Sena rule in Bengal is that the whole territory of Bengal was brought under a single rule for the first time, although the Sena records do not tell how the family came to enter Bengal.

The Sena kings claim in their own inscriptions that they are Brahma-Kshatriyas. Their remote ancestor was one Virasena, whose name is said to be mentioned in the Puranas. The Deopara Inscription of the Senas also traces their ancestry from Virasena. Given the absence of records, this remains a topic of keen controversy among scholars.

The circumstances which led the Senas to concentrate in Bengal is also still unknown. It has been presumed by historians that they came to Bengal on the eve of the invading army led by the Chalukya kings Vikramaditya VI and Someswara III. Some scholars have also suggested that when Rajendra Chola's army invaded Bengal, the Senas had accompanied them. According to some other historians, a few Karnataka officials, who were subordinate to the Pala kings, had established their independent kingdom in the region of Radha, taking advantage of the weakness of the Pala powers. Those Karnataka chiefs might have arrived in Bengal in the wake of the Chalukya invasion, settling into a kingdom of their own. According to some historians, Samantasena was such a chief, and established his own independent kingdom in the Radha region of Bengal.

Samantasena was a scion of the Sena family, having distinguished himself through various warfare in South India. He settled in Radha, Bengal at an old age. He also laid the foundation of a successful Sena family in Bengal. His son Hemantasena assumed the title "Maharajadhiraja". Hemantasena carved his own important kingdom in Radha, taking advantage of the disruption of the Pala Empire by the revolt of Divya. From their base in Radha, the Senas ultimately extended their powers over the whole of Bengal.



[60f] Ronald. B. Inden. Marriage and Rank in Bengali Culture : A History of Caste and Clan in Middle Period Bengal, p. 60.

[60g] Reddy. Indian History, p. A234.