Satrubhanja: The Nagvanshi Khandayat King who overthrew the Kushanas

In the past, Keonjhar used to be a part of the Vindhyatavi region. It used to be a bastion of the Nagavanshi Khandayats . Asanapata Village of Champua , a place near Keonjhar, was their capital.

The great warrior emperor Maharaja Satrubhanja was born into this house to Maharaja Maan Bhanja and his queen maharani Damyanti. Back then foreign powers such as the Kushanas and Murundas were in power in India. Odisha too wasn’t spared from their influence, which is evident from the discovery of Kushana coins from Puri and Sisupalgarh, and the retrieval of an inscription of Raja Gana, a Murunda king from Bhadrak. They were known as Devaputras . Maharaja Satrubhanja was a great emperor whose prowess in battle is as well known as his policy of peace. He was well versed in the subjects of Veda, Purana, Itihasa, Vyakarana, Sankhya, Nyaya and Vigyana.

Satrubhanja’s Empire

Maharaj Satrubhanja united various rulers of the Nagavanshi house (Nagas of Mathura , Padmavati & Kaushambi ) to oust the Kushanas and Murundas from India and that he did. He conquered their combined forces a hundred times over, uprooting the entire foundation of their race. He made many kings submit to him as his vassal. His empire reached its peak in the 4th century, when it spanned over various regions of the Indian subcontinent, about which we know in detail through his Asanapata inscription.

According to the inscription, he was a philanthropist and a great scholar of immense intellectual calibre beside being an excellent warrior. He had donated hundreds of thousands of cows at Patliputra, Gaya, Krimila , Dadavardhan, Pundravardhan, Bardhaman, Gauharti, Khadranga, Tamralipti and Toshali. He was an ardent Shaivite and a great patron of Hinduism.

He donated gold to Sankhakara Matha in Ahichatra (now falls within Uttarakhand), Lakheshwar Matha in Manibhadra (now known as Lakhisarai) and numerous other place after conquering these regions. He had also constructed numerous housing spaces for Charaka, Brahmachari, Paribrajaka, Nigrantha and Bhikshukas. Preceding the reign of Samudragupta, Nagavanshis were a major power of northern India.

The relief of Lord Nataraja of the Asanapata inscription is one of the oldest of its kind. A place named Sitabanjhi in Keonjhar has an inscription of Dishabhanja, a descendant of Satrubhanja. A relief sculpture is found near that inscription which resembles Ravana. It’s dated to be of 4th or 5th century. It’s speculated that the relief depicts a scene from Ramayana. It could also be a portrayal of Satrubhanja’s conquests. Vindhyatavi later came to be known as the Jahor kingdom.

A gem of the Bhanja Rajaputra progeny of Jahor was Shantibhanja, better known as Bhusuku Rout. He was an enlightened man and a patron of Buddhism, who authored many epics like Boudha Charyayana which contributed greatly to old Odia literature. He attained enlightenment in the Santheibhanja cave of Keonjhar. “Rout” is an apabhramsa of the word “Rajaputra.” It’s a title used by imperialist rulers, head of cavalry and military generals. This title is carried by the Kshatriyas of eastern India, the Khandayats. In the 7th century, Bhusuku Rout was appointed as the chancellor of Nalanda University. He has a substantial contribution in the advancement of Buddhism. He was a commander in the Magadhan army and had proved his worth as a man of his rank, for which gained him much popularity.

References :- 
Navakalebara Utkal Parichaya- Aitiha , 
Sanskruti O Parjaytana : Keundujhar by Ranjan Pradhan
History & Culture of Khijjingakotta Under the Bhanjas by Arjuna Yoshi
Archeology of Orissa : With Special Reference to Nuapada & Kalahandi by Jitamitra Prasada Simhadeva
Orissa State Gazetteer , Volume 1 by N.C Beuhuria 
Archeology in Orissa : Sites and Monuments , Volume 2 by Ramesh Prasad Mohapatra 
Encyclopaedia Indica : Minor Dynasties of Ancient Orissa - Keunjhar 
During The British Rule by Pradyumna Kumar Nanda - Indian Literature , issues 249- 251 , Sahitya Akademi , 2009- Baitarani 
Odisha District Gazetteers : Keunjhar- Odia Sahitya Ra Itihas (Pratham Bhag ) by Dr Banshidhar Mohanty 
The tribes and castes of Bengal by H.H Riseley

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