Vikramāditya

::"For the Gupta king, see Chandragupta II Vikramāditya"Vikramaditya (Sanskrit: विक्रमादित्य) is the name of a legendary king of Ujjain, India, famed for his wisdom, valour and magnanimity. The title "Vikramaditya" has also been assumed by many kings in Indian history, notably the Gupta King Chandragupta II and Samrat Hem Chandra Vikramaditya (popularly known as 'Hemu').The name King Vikramaditya is a Sanskrit tatpurusha, from विक्रम ("IAST|vikrama") meaning "valour" and आदित्य "IAST|Āditya", son of Aditi. One of the most famous sons of Aditi, or adityas, was Surya the sun god; hence, Vikramaditya means Surya, translating to "Sun of valour". He is also called "Vikrama" or "Vikramarka" (Sanskrit "arka" meaning the Sun).

Vikramaditya may have lived in the 1st century BC and may have been defeated by the king Shalivahana. According to the Katha-sarita-sagara account, he was the son of Ujjain's King Mahendraditya of the Paramara dynasty. However this was written almost 12 centuries later. Furthermore, according to other sources Vikramaditya is also recorded to be an ancestor of the Tuar dynasty of Delhi. ["Essays on Indian Antiquities" by James Prinsep, Edward Thomas, Henry Thoby Prinsep, J.Murray 1858, p250] ["Pre-Mussalman India" by M. S. Nateson, Asian Educational Services 2000, p131] ["The cyclopædia of India and of Eastern and Southern Asia" by Edward Balfour, B. Quaritch 1885, p502] ["Annals and Antiquities of Rajasthan" by James Tod, William Crooke, 1920, p912] ["Essays on Indian Antiquities, Historic, Numismatic, and Palæographic, of the Late James Prinsep" by James Prinsep, Edward Thomas, Henry Thoby Prinsep, Publ. J.Murray, 1858, p157]

The association of the legendary king with the great Gupta king Chandragupta II was made by Western historians in the 19th and 20th centuries, but some historians in India do not consider this correct. Their eras being centuries apart, the Guptas appeared to have used this name for titular effect.

The increasingly common naming of Hindu children by the name Vikram can be attributed in part to the popularity of Vikramaditya and the two sets of popular folk stories about his life.

The Jain monk account

The traditional Indian dating, using a calendar believed to have been established by Vikramaditya makes him a 1st century BCE king. However, the generally adopted dates for the known Indian kings and dynasties do not place any Vikramaditya in this period..

In a recorded form, the possibility of such a king is seen in "Kalakacharya Kathanaka", a work by a Jain sage called Mahesara Suri (Probably circa 12th century CE). The Kathanaka (meaning, "an account") tells the story of a famed Jain monk "Kalakacharya". It mentions that "Gardabhilla", the then powerful king of Ujjain, abducted a nun called "Sarasvati" who was the sister of the monk. The enraged monk sought help of the Saka ruler, a Shahi, in Sakasthana. Despite heavy odds (but aided by miracles) the Saka king defeated Gardabhilla and made him a captive. Sarasvati was repatriated. Gardabhilla himself was forgiven though. The defeated king retired to the forest where he was killed by a tiger. His son, Vikramaditya, being brought up in the forest, had to rule from "Pratishthana" (in modern Maharashtra). Later on Vikramaditya invaded Ujjain and drove away the Sakas. To commemorate this event he started a new era called the Vikrama Samvat.

The legend of Vikramaditya

The legendary Vikramaditya is a popular figure in both Sanskrit and regional languages in India. His name is conveniently associated with any event or monument whose historical details are unknown, though a whole cycles of tales have grown around him, so much so that Sir Richard Burton, who first translated the tales to English called him, "the King Arthur of the East" [ [http://www.sacred-texts.com/goth/vav/vav03.htm Preface to The First (1870) Edition] Vikram and The Vampire by Sir Richard R. Burton.] . The two most famous ones in Sanskrit are "Vetala Panchvimshati" or "Baital Pachisi" ("The 25 (tales) of the Vampire") and Simhasana-Dwatrimshika ("The 32 (tales) of the throne", also known as "Sinhasan Batteesee"). These two are found in varying versions in Sanskrit and also in the regional languages.

The tales of the vampire (Vetala) tell twenty-five stories in which the king tries to capture and hold on to a vampire that tells a puzzling tale and ends it with a question for the king. If the king speaks, the vampire will fly away, else it will allow itself to be a captive. The king can be quiet only if he does not know the answer, else his head would burst open. Unfortunately, the king being extremely wise discovers that he knows the answer to every question. So this game of catching the vampire and letting it escape continues for twenty four times till the last question puzzles even Vikramaditya. A version of these tales can be found embedded in the Katha-Saritsagara.

The tales of the throne are linked to the throne of Vikramaditya that is lost and recovered by king Bhoja, the Paramara king of Dhar, after many centuries. This latter king is a himself famous and this set of tales tell about his attempts to sit on the throne. This throne is adorned by 32 female statues who challenge him to ascend the throne only if he is as magnanimous as Vikramaditya in the tale she is about to narrate. This leads to 32 attempts (and 32 tales) on Vikramaditya and in each case Bhoja acknowledges his inferiority. Finally the statues let him ascend it pleased with his humility.

Nine Gems and Vikramaditya's court in Ujjain

The Indian tradition claims that Dhanwanthari, Kshapanaka, Amarasimha, Shankhu, Khatakarpara, Kalidasa, Vetalbhatt (or Vetalabhatta), Vararuchi and Varahamihira were a part of Vikramaditya's court in Ujjain. The king is said to have had nine such men of letters, called the "nava-ratna" (literally, Nine Gems).

Kalidasa was the legendary Sanskrit laureate. Varahmihira was a soothsayer of prominence of the era who predicted the death of Vikramaditya’s son. Vetalbhatt was a Maga Brahmin. He is known to have attributed the work of the sixteen stanza "Niti-pradeepa" ("IAST|Niti-pradīpa", literally, the lamp of conduct) to Vikramaditya.

The Vikrama Samvat (Vikrama Era)

In the Hindu tradition in India and Nepal, the widely used ancient calendar is Vikrama Samvat or Vikrama's era. This is said to have been started by the legendary king following his victory over the Sakas in 56 BC.

Vikramaditya and Shalivahana

Legend has it that the Satavahana King, Shalivahana defeated Vikramaditya and captured Ujjain in the 1st century AD. As a result, the Shalivahana era was initiated in 78 AD by Shalivahana to celebrate his victory. The capital of the empire remained as Pratisthana. The tale of this battle is recorded in "Katha-Saritsagara".

Shalivahana is a legendary figure in Indian history, and the king is usually identified with the Satavahana king Gautamiputra Satkarni. The Satavahanas ruled much before the Guptas from Pratisthana.

References

* The Katha Sarit Sagara, or Ocean of the Streams of Story, Translated by C.H.Tawney, 1880
* Vikram and The Vampire, translated by Sir Richard R. Burton, 1870
* The Inroads of the Scythians into India, and the Story of Kalakacharya, Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol. IX, 1872
* Vikrama's adventures or The thirty-two tales of the throne, edited in four different recensions of the Sanskrit original (Vikrama-charita or Sinhasana-dvatrimshika), Translated by Franklin Edgerton, Harvard University Press, 1926.

ee also

* Nine Gems
* Vikrama Samvat
* Tomar Rajputs
* Hindu calendar
* Shalivahana era
* Gupta Empire
* Vikramaditya VI

Note

* [http://moralstories.wordpress.com/2006/06/26/the-great-vikramaditya-maharaja/ Story of Vikramaditya re-building Ayodhya Temple]
*Collection of Stories showing greatness of Vikramaaditya [http://moralstories.wordpress.com/2006/10/04/audaaryam/ 1] [http://moralstories.wordpress.com/2006/10/06/paropakaara-buddhi/ 2] [http://moralstories.wordpress.com/2006/10/09/vitarana-buddhi/ 3] [http://moralstories.wordpress.com/2006/10/11/daana-gunam/ 4] [http://moralstories.wordpress.com/2006/10/14/vikramaaditya-saves-a-vipra-strii/ 5]
* [http://www.hinduism.co.za/kaabaa.htm Kaaba a Hindu Temple?]


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