The Rule of Raja Maru (500-800 AD)
The Rule of Raja Maru (500-800 AD)
Around 500 A.D. Raja Maru founded Brahmapura which later came to be called as Chamba. The Chamba Bansawali calls him a Surajvansi Rajput. The Rajas claims to have descended from Rama, the Hero of Ramayana through his second son Kusha. The original home of the family is said to have been in Ayodhya, but they migrated at a very early period to the Ganga Valley, where they setled at Kalapa. Another tradition current in Chamba and found in the Bansauli traces the descent of the Chumba Rajas from the Ranas of Udaipur who perhaps are said to have descended from Lav, the eldest son of Rama. This fact amply proves the unreliability of claims of Bansanli for the most ancient, pre-historic period, which was probably fabricated by the Bard or the Purohit of the family. The historical portion of the Bansawali commences with the name of Maru who was then the head of the family. It contains sixty-eight nanmes including that of the last ruling chief at the time of the merger of the Chamba state with the Himachal Pradesh. Maru is said to have been a religious man whose life was devoted to tapas or self-mortification. He afterwards married and had three sons. When they reached manhood he bestowed a kingdom on each of them. Leaving the eldest in the ancesral home he travelled northward with the oher two, settled the second son in the mountains near Kashmir, and accompanied the youngest named Jaistambh, penetrated the Upper Ravi Valley through the outer hills, conquered that territory from the petty Ranas (rulers) who held it. He then founded the town of Brahmapura and made it the capital of the state. This event might have taken place somewhere between 500 A.D. and 540 A.D.
The original state founded by Maru was of very small extent and may have included only the present Bharmaur Sub-tehsil, i.e., the valley of the Ravi below Bara-Banghal,with its tributaries, the Buddhil and the Tunda, as far down as Chhatrari. According to the tradition Maru handed over the principality to his son soon after its foundation and returned to his home Kalapa and become a Sadhu. After him several Rajas ruled the state, some of them are: Jaistambh, Jalastambh, and Mahastambh.
Harsha: The next great king after the Mauryans to establish an empire of worth was Harshavardhana (early 7th century). Most of the small states in Himachal Pradesh acknowledged his overall supremacy. Harsha's capital was at Thaneshwar (now in Haryana) and later at Kannauj in Uttar Pradesh).
After the break-up of Harh'a empire there was, once again, great political upheaval. A new class called the Rajputs came on the scene after having been vanquished by those of the plains. Some of the kingdoms they founded were Nurpur, Jubbal, Keonthal, Baghat, Baghal, and Sirmaur. But the Varmans peacefully sat on the throne of Brahmapura one after the other quite some time. In two successive wars with Kullu, Meru Varman (700AD) killed the Pal kings and expanded his kingdom from the Ravi valley to as far as the present capital. Hiuen Tsang (the Chinese traveller) reported around this time that Chamba, Kangra, Kullu and Mandi were still the important states, though Kullu remained subject to Brahmapura for a considerable period.
Aditya Varma (620A.D.) The name of this Raja appears as Adi Varma in the Bansauli and is of very special interest, for it is twice mentioned in the Bharmaur inscription, in which he is refered to as the great grandfather of Meru Varma by whose orders they were engraved; and he was the first of the Chamba line to assume the title of suffix of "Varma". There are several references to Chamba in the Kulu Chronicle and the earliest of these probably refer to Aditya Varma. It is to the effect that Brahmo Pal, Raja of Kulu, left no legitimate sons, and the Raja of Chamba (Brahmapura), Ladakh, Suket, Bashahr, Kangra, and Bangahal made Ganesh Pal his heir. This note is interesting that at that early period the Brahmapura state was recognised by all the neighbouring kingdoms, and was powerful enough to exert some influence in their internal affairs.
Bala Varma (640 A.D.) The name of this Raja is not found in the Bansauli having been omitted probably by a clerical error. It occurs, however, in two of the Bharmaur inscriptions, in which Bala Varrna is spoken of as the grandfather of Meru Varma.
Divakara Varma (660 A.D.) In the Bharmaur inscriptions the name of this Raja is found in its full form; but in the Bansawali and the Chhatrari inscription, it occurs as Deva Varma.
Meru Varma was the fifth Raja. He was probably the first to extend the state boundaries by conquest, for in the Chitrari inscription it is recorded, that he dedicated the idol of Shakti Devi in gratitude for help against his enemies, who he had attacked in their strongholds and ovecome. An inscribed stone has recently been found at Gun which was erected by a Samanta or feudatory of Meru Varma, probably a Raja, named Ashadha. From this it is clear that Meru Varmma's rule extended down the Ravi valley amost as far as the present capital. There is also a note in the Kulu chronicle which almost certainly refers to him. In the reign of Shri Dateshwar Pal, Raja of Kulu, there was war with Chamba (Brahmapura) in which the Kulu chief was killed by Umer, Raja of Chamba. There is no such name on the Chamba roll; but it seems probable that Umer is simplya transposition of Meru. Assuming this to be correct, it would appear that under Meru Varma the Brahmnpura State asserted its power, and carried itS arms successtully into one at least of the neighbouring principalites. This is confirmed by the further note in the Kulu annals that Amar Pal, Raja of the state, while defending his country from another inroad of the Brahmapura chief, was slain with all his sons, except one. This son Sital Pal, was in exile for life in Bashahr, and he and five of his descendents never reigned, from which it would seemm that Kulu remained subject to Brahmapura for a considerable period. Meru Varma was not only a brave and warlike leader, he was also a great builder, and there are still in existence in Brahmapur many interesting remains, some of which are known to date from his time. They prove that even at that early period of its history the state possessed considerable measure of wealth and material resources. The remains consist chietly of temples, in a remarkable good state of preservation in spite of their long exposure to the weather. Their names are Mani Mahes, Lakshana Devi, Ganesha and Nar Singh
Ajay Varma (760 A.D.) The Gaddi Brahımins and Rajputs have a belief that they came to Brahmapur from Delhi in the reign of this Raja. It is also on record that when his son grew up to manhood Ajay Varma initiated him into the art of govermment, and then installed him as Raja. He therefore, retired to the junction of the Ravi and Budhil rivers near Ulans, where he spent the rest of his life in the worship of Shiva; and is said to have been transcended to heaven.
Suvarn Varma (780A.D.) The last Kulu-Bharmaur war probably took place in the reign of Suvarn Varma of Bharmaur or early in that of Lakshmi Varma, soon after the death of Lalitaditya. The War is said to have lasted for twelve years and again to have weakened the Brahmapura forces badly. The tradition of the destruction of a Bharmaur army in the gorge of Rahla Kothi near the Rohtang Pass appears very fantastic, but is borne out by the local conditions.
Lakshami Varma (800 A.D.) This Raja had not been long in power when the country was visited by an epidemic of virulent and fatal character. Large numbers fell victims to the disease, and the state was in a mcasure depopulated. Taking advantage of the desolation which prevatled, a people bearing the name of Kira in the chronicle invaded Brahmapura, and having killed the Raja, took possess1on of the territory. It iS uncertain who the Kiras were. They are referred to in the Brithat samhita in association with Kashimiris, but in such a manner as to show that the two nations were distinet from each other. They also held Baijnath in the Kangra Valley, which was anciently called Kiragrama. The name Kira seems also to have been applied to the Kashmiris.
Mushun Varma (820A.D.) Lakshami Varma left no son, but Mushun Varma was born posthumously. He grew up to be intelligent and brave, and received the Raja of Suket s daughter in mariage, and With her as dowry the Pargana of Pangna, and other large presents. Mushun Varma was also furnished with an army, and returning to Brahmapur he drove out the invaders and recovered his kingdom. Nothing is on record, but about him after his return. The killing of mice is said to have been prohibited by him and this custom still obtains in the Chamba Royal family and a mouse caught in the palace is never killed. After Mushun Varma several Rajas ruled in succession but nothing is known regarding any of them. These Rajas were Hans Varma, Sar Varma, Sen Varma and Sajan Varma.