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KHARVELA

A Plunderer From Outside

Seven years had by now passed since Kharavela became the king. His achievements during this period were by no means small. He had brought the kingdom power and plenty. His subjects had regained their happiness, peace and self-respect. Other states had come to look upon Kalinga with fear and respect. And yet he was not satisfied. That very year the younger queen Vajiragharavathi gave birth to a son. Even the birth of a son did not make Kharavela quite happy. Of course, he was glad his dynasty would continue but one sorrow haunted him. 'Should I not wipe off the shame and humiliation inflicted on Kalinga by the Magadhas? And what a humiliation! The much adored and holy idol of Sheetha- lanatha Jina is still retained by them. How can I have peace until it is recovered? So he pined. This task of getting back this idol was a very very difficult one. It was not an easy task to attack and defeat Magadha. It was not possible to lay siege to the capital of Magadha, Rajagriha, straight away. It was well protected by a fort to the south of it called Gorathagiri. This was a natural hill fortress. (This hill is in the Gaya District of Bihar now.) This had to be seized before the capital could be attacked. That was indeed both difficult and dangerous. But Kharavela was a mighty hero his soldiers were prepared to fight till their last breath, if necessary. For, they all considered it their sacred duty to defeat the Magadhas and bring back the idol of Sheethalanatha Jina. It was also their life's mission. With this grim determination they captured Gorathagiri, reached the capital Rajagriha and laid siege to it.

When Kharavela was engaged in this attack, spies came to him and made a report: "Your Highness, Demetrius, a King of Greece, is also marching with a huge army to attack Magadha."

It was a very serious and disturbing piece of news. The defeat of Magadha was, of course, absolutely necessary, if the Kalingas were to get back their sacred idol. Otherwise would the Magadhas return it? No. True, Kalinga was now stronger than Magadha, but it was not easy to inflict a total defeat on Magadha. That would mean a great strain on Kharavela's army and a heavy loss.

'What should be done now? thought Kharavela to himself. 'Alone, I can defeat Magadha; if Demetrius joins me, there is no doubt that the task becomes doubly easy. But who is this Demetrius? Is he one of us, my countryman? No, never! He is after all a robber who has come to loot our country. A dacoit. Shall I join hands with him? The King of Magadha is one of as. It is my duty now to drive out this Demetrius, a foreigner. Let me deal with Magadha later.' Taking the decision after deep deliberation, he withdrew his attack on Rajagriha and sent his army westwards to check Demetrius.

As soon as Demetrius heard that Kharavela's army was marching against him, he ordered his army to withdraw. He had already come to know of Kharavela's prowess. He had miscalculated and misjudged Kharavela. Earlier when he heard that Kharavela was about to attack on Magadha he had thought, 'if Kharavela attacks Magadha from the south and I attack from the west at the same time, victory is easy. We may share the spoils.' But he did not understand that Kharavela was as patriotic as he was heroic; and that he could distinguish between a brother and a stranger. Alarmed at the turn of events, Demeritus ran away.And thereafter no Greek King dared look at India. That was the first and last time that theycrossed the Ganga and reached the East.

When Kharavela returned home from this conquest, he celebrated this event with generous gifts of money, precious gems, elephants and horses to Brahmins. He got houses built for them. Though he was a Jain he did not hate other religions. He made all his subjects, irrespective of caste of creed, happy.

Kharavela had done much to improve the lot of his subjects. He now turned his attention towards his palace. It had suffered serious damage, having been long exposed to the storm. A rive, Prachee, flowed across the capital. Kharavela began the construction of a new capital on the two banks of the river. It cost thirty-eight lakh coins of the day. We can well imagine the splendor of the palace. As a result of his mighty conquests, the king had earned the title 'Mahavijaya' (the great conqueror) and so as a symbol of this great victory the new palace was named 'Mahavijaya'. By his own personal example he had shown that a ruler's first concern was the welfare of his subjects and that his own comfort and happiness should come next. He become famous and began to shine not only as a powerful ruler but also as an ideal king.

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Kharvela - A Great King Of Kalinga who ruled twenty-one centuries ago
About Kharvela
Introduction
But Why The War?
Ashoka - Kalinga
Free Once Again
The Prince - A New Hope For The State
Young Kharvela
Maharaja Kharvela
Towards A New Era
A Challenge
A King Who Loved His Subjects
You are Here! A Plunderer From Outside
The Dravida Kings
The Return Of The Holy Idol
His Family
The Stone Edicts Sing His Glory
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