We have heard fables and stories of Raja Bhoj, about his bravery, his poems and also the famous comparison idiom – Kahan Raja Bhoj, Kahan Gangu Teli. Here we shall share more about his life and biography.
The Early Life
Bhoja has a reputation of a scholar king. He was obviously a well educated person who seeked education during his childhood. According to the Bhoja-Prabandha, he was taught both by his parents as well as other learned scholars. The name of his father was Sindhuraj who was also his predecessor and his mother’s name was Savitri.
It is believed that during the early stages of his life he suffered from Brain Tumour. However, two Ujjaini Brahmin surgeons could save him by treating him and removing the tumor through their surgery by using ‘sanjivani’.
The Conquest, Power & Supremacy of Raja Bhoj
According to the works written by Raja Bhoja, it is assumed that he reigned between 1010 and 1055. A king from the Paramara dynasty, his kingdom mainly centered around the Central India’s Malwa region. His capital was Dhara.
During his reign, Raja Bhoja extended his kingdom starting from his neighbouring territories and fought wars with almost every neighbouring king. At the peak of his reign, his kingdom extended from Vidisha in the east to Sabarmati river in the west and from Chittor in the north to Konkan in the south.
The main rivals of Raja Bhoja were the Chalukyas of the south and this is the reason why he initiated several campaigns again them by forming an alliance with Chola King Rajendra in the south and Kalachuri king Kumara Ngeyadeva in the east to succeed in his conquest. He himself pressed the Chalukyas from the north. For this purpose he erected the mighty mandu fort.
However, the Chalukyas were somehow successful in alienating the allies of Bhoj. Next, the chalukya king Someshwara invaded the Parmar kingdom, seiged the fort of Mandu, took Ujjain, and finally captured Dhara, the capital from him. Raja Bhoj then retreated the north and was capable to put pressure in the south with the help of Rajendra Chola. Next, he took back Ujjain and Dhara, conquered Chittor and Mewar from the Shishodias and established his power over the Mount Abu fort.
He even organized his army to attack Mahmud Ghaznavi who had invaded Somnath. Ghaznavi however retreated back via the desert of sindh. Next, came his son ghaznavid Masu’d who too brought a huge army to attack the rich inner cities which his father had failed to raid. Realizing the national threat from outsiders, Raja Bhoj organized a confedration of Hindu kings to fight the Ghaznavid Maliq Salar Masud.
In the battle of Bahraich the Hindu confedracy fought a pitched battle against the Moslems for about a month and defeated them killing their sardar. Next, followed the liberation of the cities that were captured – Hansi, Thaneshvar, Nagarkot and other cities including Lahore.
Personal Life and Family
During his lifetime, Raja Bhoja married many times to form matrimonial alliances with other ruling dynasties. His main consort was Lilavati or Liladevi. His other queens were Chandramukhi (princess of Anga), Kamala and Padmavati (princess of Kuntala).
Jayasimha I his successor is believed to be his son but there are several contradictors to this story. Udayaditya, the successor of Jayasimha was Raja Bhoja’s brother.
His Interest in Literature, Arts and Culture
A scholar and a poet, Raja Bhoj wrote 84 books that covered various topics including poetry, philosophy, medicine, yoga, veterinary science, archery and phonetics.
He founded the city of Bhojpur and even established the Bhojeshwar temple. Bhoj Shala in present day Dhar was a center of Sanskrit studies. The present day city of Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh is named after him (Bhojpal).
During the last year of Raja Bhoja’s reign, the Kalachuri king Karna attacked his kingdom. As per the 14th century author Merutunga, Karna once challenged Bhoja to either war him or get ready for a palace-building contest. Bhoja, chose the latter as he was an old man by this time. Raja Bhoj lost this contest, still refused to accept Karna’s suzerainty. This led to the invasion of Malwa by Karna with the help of Bhima, the Chalukya king.
According to Merutunga, during this time Raja Bhoj died of a disease when the army attacked his kingdom. There are several literary works that suggest that Bhima had subjugated Bhoja while Bhoja was still alive but these claims are not supported by historical evidence.
Source and Reference:
Bhoja Paramāra and His Times by Mahesh Singh
The Growth of the Paramara Power in Malwa by Krishna Narain Seth
The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit, Culture, and Power in Premodern India by Sheldon Pollock