|Ashva-pati Nara-pati Gaja-pati Rajatrayadhipati|
|King of Antaravedi|
|Reign||c. 1170-1194 CE|
Jaya-chandra (IAST: Jayacandra, r. c. 1170–1194 CE) was a king from the Gahadavala dynasty of northern India. He is also known as Jayachchandra (IAST: Jayaccandra) in inscriptions, and Jaichand in vernacular legends. He ruled the Antarvedi country in the Gangetic plains, including the important cities of Kanyakubja and Varanasi. His territory included much of the present-day eastern Uttar Pradesh and some parts of western Bihar. The last powerful king of his dynasty, he was defeated and killed in 1194 CE, in a fight against a Ghurid army led by Qutb al-Din Aibak.
A fictional account of Jayachandra (as Jaichand) occurs in the medieval legendary text Prithviraj Raso. According to this account, he was a rival of another Indian king, Prithviraj Chauhan. His daughter Samyukta eloped with Prithviraj against his wishes, and he allied with the foreign Ghurids to ensure Prithviraj's downfall. Although this account is historically inaccurate, the name "Jaichand" became synonymous with the word "traitor" in folklore of northern India because of this legend.
Jayachandra was a son of the Gahadavala king Vijayachandra. According to a Kamauli inscription, he was crowned king on 21 June 1170 CE. Jayachandra inherited his grandfather Govindachandra's royal titles: Ashva-pati Nara-pati Gaja-pati Rajatrayadhipati ("leader of three forces: the cavalry, the infantry and the elephant corps") and Vividha-vidya-vichara-vachaspati ("patron of different branches of learning").
Jayachandra's inscriptions praise him using the conventional grandiloquent terms, but do not mention any concrete achievement of the king. The records of his neighbouring Hindu kings (Paramara, Chahamana, Chandela and Kalachuri) do not mention any conflict with him either. The Sena king Lakshmana Sena is believed to have invaded the Gahadavala territory, but this invasion may have taken place after Jayachandra's death.
The Muslim Ghurids invaded Jayachandra's kingdom in the 1193 CE. According to the contemporary Muslim accounts, Jayachandra was "the greatest king of India and possessed the largest territory". These accounts describe him as the Rāi of Banaras (king of Varanasi). According to Kamil ut-Tawarikh, his army had a million soldiers and 700 elephants.
The Hindu accounts (such as Vidyapati's Purusha-Pariksha and Prithviraj Raso) claim that Jayachandra defeated the Ghurids multiple times. The contemporary Muslim accounts, on the other hand, mention only two battles: one relatively minor engagement and the Battle of Chandwar, in which Jayachandra was killed.
The Ghurid ruler Muhammad of Ghor had defeated the Chahamana king Prithviraja III in 1192 CE. According to Hasan Nizami's 13th century text Taj-ul-Maasir, he decided to attack the Gahadavala kingdom after taking control of Ajmer, Delhi and Kol. He dispatched a 50,000-strong army commanded by Qutb al-Din Aibak. Nizami states that this army defeated "the army of the enemies of the Religion" (Islam). It appears that the defeated army was not Jayachandra's main army, but only a smaller body of his frontier guards.
Jayachandra then himself led a larger army against Qutb al-Din Aibak in 1194 CE. According to the 16th century historian Firishta, Jayachandra was seated on an elephant when Qutb al-Din killed him with an arrow. The Ghurids captured 300 elephants alive, and plundered the Gahadavala treasury at the Asni fort. (The identification of Asni is not certain, but most historians believe it to be the present-day Asni village in Fatehpur district.) After this, the Ghurids advanced to Varanasi, where according to Hasan Nizami, "nearly 1000 temples were destroyed and mosques were raised on their foundations". A number of local feudatory chiefs came forward to offer their allegiance to the Ghurids.
Jayachandra's son Harishchandra succeeded him on the Gahadavala throne. According to one theory, he was a Ghurid vassal. However, in an 1197 CE Kotwa inscription, he assumes the titles of a sovereign.
Prithviraj Raso legend
Jayachandra is a prominent character in the historically unreliable fictional text Prithviraj Raso. According to the text, Jayachandra ("Jaichand") was a cousin of the Chahamana king Prithviraja III ("Prithviraj Chauhan"). Their mothers were sisters born to the Tomara king of Delhi. This claim is directly contradicted by the more reliable contemporary text Prithviraja Vijaya, according to which Prithviraj's mother had nothing to do with the Tomaras.
The text states that Jaichand's wife was a daughter of king Mukunda-deva, the Somavanshi king of Kataka. Jaichand's father Vijayachandra had defeated Mukunda-deva, who concluded a peace treaty by marrying his daughter to prince Jaichand. Samyukta was the issue of this marriage. This narrative is historically inaccurate: the Somavanshi dynasty did not have any king named Mukunda-deva. Moreover, the Somavanshis had already been displaced by the Gangas before Vijayachandra's ascension.
The text also talks of a conflict between Jaichand and Prithviraj. Neither Chahamana nor Gahadavala inscriptions mention any such conflict. The text claims that Jaichand assisted the Chandela king Paramardi in a battle against Prithviraj. The Chandelas were defeated in this battle. The inscriptional evidence confirms that Prithviraj defeated Paramardi, but there is no evidence for a Gahadavala-Chandela alliance. That said, it is known that Paramardi's grandfather Madanavarman had friendly relations with the Gahadavalas. It is also possible that Gahadavalas may have supported the Chandelas, because the Chahamanas were a common rival of these two kingdoms. This hypothesis notwithstanding, there is no reliable evidence to suggest that Jayachandra and Prithviraja were rivals.
Prithviraj Raso further claims that Jaichand launched a digvijaya campaign (conquest in all directions). At the end of this campaign, he conducted a rajasuya ceremony to proclaim his supremacy. However, none of the Gahadavala inscriptions mention such a ceremony by Jaichand. The contemporary literary work Rambha-Manjari, which presents Jaichand as a hero, does not mention this campaign either.
According to the text, Jaichand also conducted a svayamvara (husband selection) ceremony for his daughter Samyukta. He did not invite Prithviraj to this ceremony, but Samyukta had fallen in love with Prithviraj, and decided to select him as her husband. Prithviraj came to the ceremony and eloped with the princess after a fight with Jaichand's men. This anecdote is not supported by any historical evidence either.
It is possible that Jaichand and Prithviraj were political rivals, as indicated by their non-cooperation against the Ghurid invaders. But the Prithviraj Raso goes on to claim that Jaichand not only refused to help Prithviraj against the Ghurids, but also formed an alliance with the invading Ghurid king Muhammad of Ghor. No historical evidence supports this claim. Although the account in Prithviraj Raso is disputed by historians, the name "Jaichand" became synonymous with the word "traitor" in Indian folklore because of this historically unreliable legend.
The inscriptions from Jayachandra's reign include the following:
|Date of issue (CE)||Place of discovery||Issued at||Issued by||Purpose|
|21 June 1170||Varanasi district: Kamauli||Vadaviha||Jayachandra||Village grant|
|4 June 1172||Varanasi district: Kamauli||Prayaga||Jayachandra||Village grant|
|21 November 1173||Varanasi district: Kamauli||Varanasi: Near Adikeshava Temple||Jayachandra||Village grant|
|1174||Varanasi district: Kamauli||Varanasi: Near Krttivasa Temple||Jayachandra||Village grant|
|1175||Varanasi district: Kamauli||Varanasi||Jayachandra||Village grant|
|30 August 1175||Varanasi district: Sehwar||Varanasi||Jayachandra||Village grant|
|3 April 1177||Varanasi district: Kamauli||Varanasi||Jayachandra||Village grant|
|9 April 1177||Varanasi district: Varanasi||Varanasi||Jayachandra||Village grant (Godanti)|
|9 April 1177||Varanasi district: Varanasi||Varanasi||Jayachandra||Village grant (Kotharavandhuri)|
|25 December 1177||Varanasi district: Varanasi||Varanasi||Jayachandra||Village grant|
|11 April 1180||Varanasi district: Varanasi||Randavai on Ganga||Jayachandra||Village grant (Dayadama)|
|11 April 1180||Varanasi district: Varanasi||Randavai on Ganga||Jayachandra||Village grant (Saleti)|
|11 April 1180||Varanasi district: Varanasi||Randavai on Ganga||Jayachandra||Village grant (Abhelavatu)|
|22 February 1181||Unknown||Varanasi||Jayachandra||Village grant|
|1186||Faizabad district: Faizabad||Varanasi||Jayachandra||Village grant|
|1189||Kaushambi district: Myohar (or Meohar)||Unknown||Vastavya Thakkura||Erection of Siddheshvara temple|
|1180s-1190s (1240s VS)||Bodh Gaya||Unknown||Unknown||Construction of Jayapura cave monastery|
Jayachandra's court poet Bhatta Kedar wrote a eulogy titled Jaichand Prakash on his life, but the work is now lost. Another lost eulogy on his life is the poet Madhukar's Jaya-Mayank-Jasha-Chandrika (c. 1183).
According to the 1167 CE Kamauli inscription, as a prince, Jayachandra was initiated as a worshipper of Krishna by the Vaishnavite guru Praharaja-Sharman. Nevertheless, after ascending the throne, Jayachandra assumed the dynasty's traditional title Parama-Maheshvara ("devotee of Shiva"). His Kamauli grant inscription states that he made a village grant and performed tulapurusha ceremony in the presence of the god Kṛittivāsa (an epithet of Shiva).
An inscription discovered at Bodh Gaya suggests that Jayachandra also showed interest in Buddhism. This inscription begins with an invocation to Gautam Buddha, the Bodhisattavas, and one Shrimitra (Śrimītra). Shrimitra is named as a perceptor (diksha-guru) of Kashisha Jayachchandra, identified with the king Jayachandra. The inscription records the construction of a guha (cave monastery) at Jayapura.
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