Pāla Dynasty

Pāla Dynasty

▪ Indian dynasty
      ruling dynasty in Bihār and Bengal, India, from the 8th to the 12th century. Its founder, Gopāla, was a local chieftain who rose to power in the mid-8th century during a period of anarchy. His successor, Dharmapāla (reigned c. 770–810), greatly expanded the kingdom and for a while was in control of Kannauj. Pāla power was maintained under Devapāla (reigned c. 810–850), who carried out raids in the north, the Deccan, and the peninsula; but thereafter the dynasty declined in power, and Mahendrapāla, the Gurjara-Pratihāra emperor of Kannauj in the late 9th and early 10th centuries, penetrated as far as northern Bengal. Pāla strength was restored by Māhīpāla I (reigned c. 988–1038), whose influence reached as far as Vārānasi (Benares), but on his death the kingdom again weakened.

      Rāmapāla (reigned c. 1077–1120), the last important Pāla king, did much to strengthen the dynasty in Bengal and expanded its power in Assam and Orissa; he is the hero of a Sanskrit historical poem, the Rāmacarita of Sandhyākara. On his death, however, the dynasty was virtually eclipsed by the rising power of the Senas (Sena Dynasty), although Pāla kings continued to rule in southern Bihār for 40 years. The main capital of the Pālas appears to have been Mudgagiri (Monghyr) in eastern Bihār.

      The Pālas were supporters of Buddhism, and it was through missionaries from their kingdom that Buddhism was finally established in Tibet. Under Pāla patronage a distinctive school of art arose, of which many noteworthy sculptures in stone and metal survive.

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Universalium. 2010.

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