Seuna (Yadava) dynasty

This article is about Yadava dynasty of medieval India. For other uses, see Yadav (disambiguation).
Seuna (Yadava) dynasty
Asia in 1200 AD, showing the Yadava Dynasty and its neighbors
Capital Devagiri
Languages Kannada, Marathi, Sanskrit
Government Monarchy
   Established 850
   Disestablished 1334
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Western Chalukya Empire
Delhi Sultanate
Today part of  India

The Seuna, Sevuna or Yadavas of Devagiri (850–1334) was an Indian dynasty, which at its peak ruled a kingdom stretching from the Tungabhadra to the Narmada rivers, including present-day Maharashtra, north Karnataka and parts of Madhya Pradesh, from its capital at Devagiri (present-day Daulatabad in modern Maharashtra). The Yadavas initially ruled as feudatories of the Western Chalukyas. Around the middle of the 12th century, as the Chalukya power waned, they declared independence and established rule that reached its peak under Singhana II.


The Seuna dynasty claimed descent from the Yadavas and therefore, its kings are often referred to as the "Yadavas of Devgiri". The correct name of the dynasty, however, is Seuna or Sevuna.[1] The inscriptions of this dynasty, as well as those of contemporary kingdoms, the Hoysala, Kakatiya dynasty and Western Chalukyas call them Seunas.[2] The name is probably derived from the name of their second ruler, "Seunachandra".

The "Sevuna" (or Seuna) name was brought back into use by John Faithfull Fleet in his book The dynasties of the Kanarese districts of the Bombay Presidency from the earliest historical times to the Musalman conquest of A.D. 1318.[3][4]


Scholars are divided regarding the origin of the Seuna dynasty.

Yaduvanshi origin

The Seuna dynasty claimed descent from the Chandravanshi (Yaduvanshis) of north India.[5][6] According to verse 21 of Vratakhand (a Sanskrit work by Hemadri), the Seunas were originally from Mathura and later moved to Dwaraka. Hemdari calls them Krishnakulotpanna (i.e., descendants of Krishna).[7] The Marathi saint Dnyaneshwar describes them as yadukulvansh tilak. Some Seuna inscriptions call them Dvaravatipuravaradhishvaras ("masters of Dvaravati or Dwaraka"). Several modern researchers, such as Dr. Kolarkar, also believe that Yadavas came from North India.[8]

The remains of Khandesh (the historical stronghold of Yaduvanshi Ahirs) are popularly believed to be of Gawli Raj, which archaeologically belongs to the Yadavas of Devgiri. For this reason, the historian Reginald Edward Enthoven believed that the Yadavas of Devagiri could have been Abhiras.[9] They are also known as Yadav kings.[10]

There is a belief that Deoghur or Doulatabad was built in AD 1203 by a Dhangar or herdsman who, acquiring by some unusual good fortune vast wealth, was named by his brother shepherds Raja Ram and soon after assumed the rank of a Raja.[11]

Maratha origin

According to scholars such as Prof. George Moraes,[12] V. K. Rajwade, C. V. Vaidya, Dr. A.S. Altekar, Dr. D.R. Bhandarkar, and J. Duncan M. Derrett,[4] the Seuna rulers were of Maratha descent who patronized the Marathi language.[13] Digambar Balkrishna Mokashi noted that the Yadava dynasty was "what seems to be the first true Maratha empire".[14] In his book Medieval India, C.V.Vaidya states that Yadavas are "definitely pure Maratha Kshatriyas".

A stone inscription found at Anjaneri, near Nashik, suggests that a minor branch of the Yadava family ruled a small district, with Anjaneri as its chief city. The inscription indicates that a ruler called Seunadeva, belonging to the Yadava family, called himself Mahasamanta and made a grant to a Jain temple.[15] Scholars such as Dr. O. P. Varma, state that Yadavas were Marathi speakers and the period of their rule was very important for the history of the Marathi.[16]

Jijabai (the mother of Shivaji, who founded the Maratha Empire) belonged to the clan of jadhavas of Sindkhed Raja, who also claimed descent from the Yadavas.

Karnataka origin

Hero stone (Virgal) with Old Kannada inscription dated 1286 A.D. from the rule of Yadava King Ramachandra in Kedareshvara temple at Balligavi in Shimoga district, Karnataka state
Hero stone with old Kannada inscription dated 1235 A.D. from the rule of Yadava King Singhana II at Kubetur, Soraba Taluk, Shimoga district, Karnataka state

Scholars such as C M Kulkarni,[17] Colin Masica, and Shrinivas Ritti believe that the Seuna rulers were originally Kannada speaking people. Linguist Colin Masica believes that they originally used Kannada (along with Sanskrit) in their inscriptions, but, by the time of the Muslim conquest, they had begun to patronize Marathi, and Marathi phrases or lines began to appear in their inscriptions.[18] Dr. Shrinivas Ritti speculates that the Seunas were originally from a Kannada-speaking region and migrated northwards owing to the political situation in the Deccan.[19]

Many Seuna rulers had Kannada names and titles such as "Dhadiyappa", "Bhillama", "Rajugi", "Vadugi" and "Vasugi", and "Kaliya Ballala". Some kings had names like "Singhana" and "Mallugi", which were also used by the Southern Kalachuris of Kalyani dynasty. Records show that one of the early rulers, Seunachandra II, had a Kannada title, Sellavidega. The Seunas had very close matrimonial relationships with royal Kannada families throughout their rule.[2] Bhillama II was married to Lachchiyavve, who was from a Rashtrakuta descendant family in Karnataka. Vaddiga was married to Vaddiyavve, daughter of Rashtrakuta chieftain Dhorappa. Wives of Vesugi and Bhillama III were Chalukya princesess.

Over five hundred inscriptions belonging to the Seuna dynasty have been found in Karnataka, the oldest being of the rule of Bhillama II. Most of these are in Kannada language and script. Others are in the Kannada language but use Devanagari script.[2] The Seuna coins from the early part of their rule have Kannada legends. Scholars such as Dr. O. P. Varma believe that Kannada was a court language, used along with Marathi and Sanskrit.[20]

During the rule of the Seunas, ruling chieftains who were related to the Seuna kings were from Kannada-speaking families, like the Seunas of Masavadi in present-day Dharwad. Dr. A. V. Narasimha Murthy opined that during the later part of the Rashtrakuta rule from Manyakheta, Seuna chieftains were despatched from the Karnataka region to rule near Nasik.[4]



Devagiri fort-The capital of Yadavas

Seunas were once the feudatories of the Rashtrakutas and then of the Western Chalukyas.[1] The founder of the Suena dynasty was Dridhaprahara, the son of Subahu. According to Vratakhanda, his capital was Shrinagara. However, an early inscription suggests that Chandradityapura (modern Chandor in the Nasik district) was the capital.[15]

The name Seuna comes from Dridhaprahara's son, Seunachandra, who originally ruled a region called Seunadesha (present-day Khandesh). Bhillama II, a later ruler in the dynasty, assisted Tailapa II in his war with the Paramara king Munja. Seunachandra II helped Vikramaditya VI in gaining his throne.

Bhillama V

Bhillama V (1173–1192),[21] son of Mallugi, established the sovereign Seuna kingdom. He took over the Chalukya capital of Kalyani in 1190 and founded Devagiri (now Daulatabad) as the capital of the Yadava dynasty.

The Seunas were bordered by aggressive neighbours on all sides: Paramara rulers of Malwa in the north, Kakatiya dynasty in the east, Hoysalas in the south and Solanki rulers of Gujarat in the west. As a precaution, they built their citadel at Devagiri. The citadel was situated on a hill rising 183 meters[22] (300 meters according to John Keay[1]). The hill was enclosed by three lines of walls, each of which was defended by moats and turrets. The outermost wall had a circumference of 4.4 km.

Singhana II

Singhana II, or Simhana, 1200–1247 C.E. is considered the greatest ruler of the Yadava dynasty. During his rule the kingdom expanded from Narmada to Tungabhadra, reaching its zenith at the expense of Hoysalas in the south, Kakatiya dynasty in the east, Paramaras and Chalukyas in the north.[21][23]

He founded the town Shinghanapur (or Singhanapur). He was a great patron of learning and literature. He established the college of astronomy to study the work of celebrated astronomer Bhaskaracharya.

The Sangita Ratnakara, an authoritative Sanskrit work on Indian music was written by Sharngadeva (or Shrangadeva) during Singhana II's reign.[24] He also patronized Changadeva, the Kannada poet Kamalabhava.


Ramachandra (or Ramadevarava or Raja Ram), the grandson of Singhana II, ruled from 1271 to 1309 CE. He seems to have defeated the Turkic invaders in 1278 CE as a Sanskrit royal inscription of that year glorifies him as a "Great Boar in securing the earth from the oppression of the Turks".[25]

Hemadri (or Hemadpant) was Ramachandra's Shrikaranadhipa (Chief Minister) during the initial few years. He compiled the encyclopedic Sanskrit work Chaturvarga Chintamani. He is said to have built many temples in a style known after him – Hemadapanti.[14] He also invented the Modi script for writing Marathi.[24] Hemadri wrote many books on vaidhyakshastra (medical science) and he introduced and supported bajra cultivation.[8]

In 1294, Ala-ud-din Khilji of the Delhi Sultanate captured Devagiri. Khilji restored it to Ramachandra in return for his promise of payment of a high ransom and an annual tribute.[22] However, this was not paid and the Seuna kingdom's arrears to Khilji kept mounting. In 1307, Khilji sent an army commanded by Malik Kafur, accompanied by Khwaja Haji, to Devagiri. The Muslim governors of Malwa and Gujarat were ordered to help Malik Kafur. Their huge army conquered the weakened and defeated forces of Devagiri almost without a battle. Ramachandra was taken to Delhi. Khilji reinstated Ramachandra as governor in return for a promise to help him subdue the Hindu kingdoms in South India. In 1310, Malik Kafur mounted an assault on the Kakatiya kingdom from Devagiri.[1]

Fall of the kingdom

Ramachandra's successor Singhana III challenged the supremacy of Khilji, who sent Malik Kafur to recapture Devagiri in 1313. Singhana III was killed in the ensuing battle[26] and Khilji's army occupied Devagiri. The kingdom was annexed by the Khilji sultanate in 1317. Many years later, Muhammad Tughluq of the Tughluq dynasty of the Delhi Sultanate subsequently renamed the city Daulatabad.[23]

The Seuna Yadava rulers

Among the Seuna Yadava rulers, Sindhan, Krishnadev, Mahadeva and Ramdev are considered as having been 'able'.[8]

Feudatory of Western Chalukyas of Kalyani

Independent kingdom

Tributary status under Khilji dynasty



The Yadavas of Devagiri patronised Marathi[13] which was their court language.[27][28] Kannada may also have been a court language during Seunachandra's rule, but Marathi was the only court-language of Ramchandra and Mahadeva Yadavas. The Yadava capital Devagiri became a magnet for learned scholars in Marathi to showcase and find patronage for their skills. The origin and growth of Marathi literature is directly linked with rise of Yadava dynasty.[29]

Their reign also saw the literary development of Marathi.[30] The origin and growth of Marathi literature is directly linked to this period.[31]

Some historians believe that prior to the Yadava rule, both Marathi and Kannada had been used in Maharashtra; subsequently, at least partly due to their efforts, Marathi became dominant.[32] Historian José Pereira has credited Yadavas with overthrowing the rule of Kannada-speaking dynasties in Maharashtra.[33]

Bhillama V's son, Jaitrapal (or Jaitugi) had Mukundaraja, the author of Paramamrita and Vivekasindhu as his spiritual teacher.[24] Paramamrita is considered the first systematic attempt to explain the Vendantic principles in Marathi. Vivekasindhu is another exposition of Vedantic principles. Mukundaraja's earliest works were completed in 1190 C.E. and Mahimabhatta wrote Lilacharita in 1238.

The famous Marathi saint-poet Dnyaneshwar wrote Dnyaneshwari, a commentary on the Bhagavad Gita in 1290, during Ramachandra's rule. He also composed devotional songs called abhangas. Dnyaneshwar gave a higher status to Marathi by translating the sacred Geeta from Sanskrit. He proudly said about Marathi:

माझा मर्हाटाची बोलु कवतिके|
परि अमृतातेहि पैजा जिंके|
ऐसी अक्षरे रसिके-

which means I will speak my Marathi (language) only with pride and I will give such Marathi words to the ardent listeners which will even win bets against the nectar (amRit).[34][35]

Hemadri invented the Modi script during this period. Chakradhara propagated the Mahanubhava cult, using Marathi as the medium for his religious teachings. The work of his followers are counted among the first works of Marathi literature.[36]


Many scholars believe Kannada was one of the court languages during early Seuna times, as is evident from a number of Kannada-language inscriptions (see, Origin section). Kamalabhava, patronised by Bhillama V wrote Santhishwarapurana. Achanna composed Varadhamanapurana in 1198. Amugideva, patronised by Singhana II, composed many Vachanas or devotional songs. Chaundarasa of Pandharapur wrote Dashakumara Charite around 1300 A.D.[37][38][39][40]


The Sanskrit literary works created during the Seuna period include:

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 Keay, John (2001-05-01). India: A History. Atlantic Monthly Pr. pp. 252–257. ISBN 0-8021-3797-0. The quoted pages can be read at Google Book Search.
  2. 1 2 3 Kamat, Suryanath Upendra. A Concise History of Karnatak.
  3. The Dynasties of the Kanarese Districts of the Bombay Presidency"(1894) J.F.Fleet, Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency (Vol-1, Part-II, Book-III) ISBN 81-206-0277-3
  4. 1 2 3 Murthy, A. V. Narasimha (1971). The Sevunas of Devagiri. Rao and Raghavan. p. 32.
  5. Chapter 8, "Yadavas Through the Ages" J.N.S.Yadav (1992)
  6. Robin James Moore. Tradition and Politics in South Asia. 1979. Vikas Publishing House.
  7. Madhyayugin Bharat (Marathi translation of Medieval India) written and published by Chintaman Vinayak Vaidya, p.468.
  8. 1 2 3 Marathyancha Itihaas by Dr. S.G Kolarkar, p.4, Shri Mangesh Prakashan, Nagpur.
  9. The tribes and castes of Bombay, Volume 1 By Reginald Edward Enthoven, page 25.
  10. Bhave, Y.G. (2000). From the death of Shivaji to the death of Aurangzeb : the critical years. New Delhi: Northern Book Centre. p. 14. ISBN 9788172111007. Retrieved 8 June 2016.
  11. The Asiatic journal and monthly register for British and foreign India, published in 1827, p 355.
  12. Professor George Moraes. "Pre-Portuguese Culture of Goa". International Goan Convention. Archived from the original on 2006-10-15. Retrieved 2006-10-01.
  13. 1 2 Kulkarni, Chidambara Martanda (1966). Ancient Indian History & Culture. Karnatak Pub. House. p. 233.
  14. 1 2 Mokashi, Digambar Balkrishna (1987-07-01). Palkhi: An Indian Pilgrimage. SUNY Press. p. 37. ISBN 0-88706-461-2.
  15. 1 2 "Nasik District Gazetteer: History – Ancient period". Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved 2006-10-01.
  16. Onkar Prasad Verma. Yadavas and their Times. Vidarbha Samshodhana Mandal, Nagpur. 1938, pg.265
  17. Kulkarni, Chidambara Martanda (1974). Studies in Indian History. Sri Dvaipayana Trust. p. 111. Yadavas of Devagiri who originally belonged to Kannada stock
  18. Masica, Colin P. (1991). "Subsequent Spread of Indo-Aryan". The Indo-Aryan Languages. Cambridge University Press. p. 45. ISBN 0-521-29944-6.
  19. Shrinivas Ritti. The Seunas : the Yadavas of Devagiri. Dharwar : Dept. of Ancient Indian History and Epigraphy, Karnatak University. 1973
  20. Onkar Prasad Verma. Yadavas and their Times. Vidarbha Samshodhana Mandal, Nagpur. 1938
  21. 1 2 3 4 5 Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. pp. 55–56. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4.
  22. 1 2 Bennett, Mathew (2001-09-21). Dictionary of Ancient & Medieval Warfare. Stackpole Books. p. 98. ISBN 0-8117-2610-X.. The quoted pages can be read at Google Book Search.
  23. 1 2 "Yādava Dynasty" Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2007 Ultimate Reference Suite
  24. 1 2 3 Mann, Gurinder Singh (2001-03-01). The Making of Sikh Scripture. Oxford University Press US. p. 1. ISBN 0-19-513024-3.
  25. Eternal Garden: Mysticism, History, and Politics at a South Asian Sufi Center by Carl W. Ernst p.107
  26. Michell, George (1999-06-10). Architecture and Art of the Deccan Sultanates. Arizona University Press. p. 5. ISBN 0-521-56321-6.
  27. India 2000 – States and Union Territories of India
  28. "Yadav – Pahila Marathi Bana" S.P.Dixit (1962)
  29. BhashaIndia
  30. "History of the Marhattas" Grant Duff
  31. Marathi – The Language of Warriors
  32. Talbot, Cynthia (2001). "Towards a New Model of Medieval India". Precolonial India in Practice: Society, Region, and Identity in Medieval Andhra. US: Oxford University Press. p. 212. ISBN 0-19-513661-6.
  33. Literary Konkani: a brief history By José Pereira, pg2, Konkani Sahitya Prakashan Online view
  34. Marathi language
  35. Maharashtra Government's page on Yadavas
  36. "Ancient History, Part VII". Retrieved 2006-10-01.
  37. R. Narasimhacharya, p. 68, History of Kannada Literature, 1988, Asian Educational Services, New Delhi, Madras, 1988 ISBN 81-206-0303-6
  38. Suryanath U. Kamat, pp.143-144, A Concise history of Karnataka from pre-historic times to the present, Jupiter books, MCC, Bangalore, 2001 (Reprinted 2002) OCLC: 7796041
  39. Onkar Prasad Verma, Yadavas and their Times (1938), Vidarbha Samshodhana Mandal, Nagpur
  40. Sujit Mukherjee, p. 410, p. 247, "Dictionary of Indian Literature One: Beginnings - 1850", 1999, Orient Blackswan, Delhi, ISBN 81 250 1453 5
  41. "ITCSRA FAQ on Indian Classical Music". Retrieved 2007-12-11.
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