Infobox Monarch
name =Sri Krishnadevaraya
title =King of Vijayanagara Empire

caption =
reign =July 26 1509 - 1529
othertitles =Kannada Rajya Rama Ramana, Mooru Rayaraganda, Andhra Bhoja.
native_lang1 = Kannada
native_lang1_name1=ಶ್ರೀ ಕೃಷ್ಣದೇವರಾಯ
native_lang2 = Telugu
native_lang2_name1=శ్రీ కృష్ణదేవరాయ
predecessor =Viranarasimha Raya
successor =Achyuta Deva Raya
suc-type =
heir =
queen = Chinnambike, Thirumalambike
consort =
spouse 1 =
issue =
dynasty =Tuluva Dynasty
royal anthem =
father =Narasa Nayaka
mother =Nagala Devi
date of birth =
place of birth =Hampi, Karnataka
date of death =1529
place of death =
date of burial =
place of burial =|

Sri Krishnadevaraya (Kannada: ಶ್ರೀ ಕೃಷ್ಣದೇವರಾಯ, Telugu:శ్రీకృష్ణదేవరాయ) (1509-1529 CE) was the most famous king of Vijayanagara empire. He presided over the empire at its zenith. He is regarded as a hero of people of Kannada and Telugu descent and considered to be one of the great kings of India. Emperor Krishnadevaraya also earned the titles "Kannada Rajya Rama Ramana (ಕನ್ನಡರಾಜ್ಯರಮಾರಮಣ)", "Moorurayaraganda (ಮೂರುರಾಯರಗಂಡ)" (meaning "King of three kings") and "Andhra Bhoja (ఆంధ్రభోజ)". Much of our information about his reign comes from the accounts of Portuguese travelers Domingos Paes and Nuniz. He was assisted in the administration by the very able prime minister Timmarusu. It was Timmarusu, who was responsible for the coronation of Krishnadevaraya. Krishnadevaraya revered Timmarusu as a father figure. Krishnadevaraya was the son of Nagala Devi and Tuluva Narasa NayakaProf K.A.N. Sastri, "History of South India, From Prehistoric times to fall of Vijayanagar", 1955, pp 250,258] an army commander under Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya, who later took control of the reign of the empire to prevent it from disintegration. The kings coronation took place on the birthday of Lord Krishna and his earliest inscription is from July 26th. 1509 C.E. He built a beautiful suburb near Vijayanagara called Nagalapura in memory of his mother.


Along with inscriptions, writings of foreign travellers provide most of the information about his rulePortuguese travellers Domingo Paes visited Vijayanagar when The Raya was about 30-35 years old and already a highly respected king. Nuniz has also left many records. Prof K.A.N. Sastri, "History of South India, From Prehistoric times to fall of Vijayanagar", 1955. pp 251] . The king was of medium height, cheerful disposition, respectful to foreign visitors, ruthless in maintaining the law and was prone to fits of anger. He maintained himself to high level of physical fitness by daily physical exercises. From the travelogues it becomes apparent that not only was the king an able administrator, he was also an excellent army general. He led from the front and even attended to the wounded.

Military Campaigns and Foreign Relations

The rule of Krishnadevaraya was a glorious chapter in Vijayanagar history when its armies were successful everywhere. On occasions, the king was known to change battle plans abruptly and turn a losing battle into victory. The first decade of his rule was one of long sieges, bloody conquests and victories. His main enemies were the Gajapatis of Orissa who had been at constant conflict since the rule of Saluva Narasimha Deva Raya, The Bahamani Sultans, though divided into five small kingdoms were still a constant threat, the Portuguese were a rising maritime power and hence controlled much of the sea trade. The feudatory chiefs of Ummatur, Reddys of Kondavidu and Velamas of Bhuvanagiri had time and again rebelled against Vijayanagar authority.

uccess in Deccan

The annual affair of the raid and plunder of Vijayanagar towns and villages by the Deccan sultans came to an end during the Raya's rule. In 1509. Krishnadevaraya's armies clashed with the Sultan of Bijapur at Diwani and the sultan Mahmud was severely injured and defeated. Yusuf Adil Khan was killed and Kovilkonda was annexed.Taking advantage of the victory and disunity of the Bahamani Sultans, the Raya invaded Bidar, Gulbarga and Bijapur and earned the title "establisher of the Yavana kingdom" when he released Sultan Mahmud and made him de-facto ruler.

War with Feudatories

He subdued local rulers, Reddys of Kondavidu and Velamas of Bhuvanagiri, and seized lands up to the Krishna river. Gangaraja, the Ummatur chief fought Krishnadevaraya on the banks of the Kaveri and was defeated. The chief later drowned in the Kaveri in 1512. The region was made a part of the Srirangapatna province.In 1516-1517, he pushed beyond the Godavari river.

War with Kalinga

He defeated the Gajapatis of Orissa who were in occupation of northern Andhra in five campaigns. The success at Ummatur provided the necessary impetus to carry his campaign into to Telangana region which was in control of Gajapati Prathaparudra. The Vijayanagar army laid siege to Udayagiri fort in 1512. The campaign lasted for a year before the Gajapati army was routed. Krishnadevaraya offered prayers at Tirupati thereafter along with his wives Tirumala Devi and Chinna Devi. His "kulaguru" Vyasatirtha wrote many songs in praise of the King after this victory. The Gajapati army was then met at Kondavidu where after a siege of a few months, Krishnadevaraya along with Saluva Timmarasa inflicted another defeat on Prathaparudra. Saluva Timmarasa took over as governor of Kondavidu thereafter. The Vijayanagar army then accosted the Gajapati army at Kondapalli area and laid another siege. This was the final defeat for the Gajapathi king who offered his daughter Jaganmohini in marriage to Krishnadevaraya. She became his third queen.

He established friendly relations with the Portuguese, who set up the Portuguese Dominion of India in Goa in 1510. The Emperor obtained guns and Arabian horses from the Portuguese merchants. He also utilized Portuguese expertise in improving water supply to Vijayanagara City.

Final conflict

The complicated alliances of the empire and the five Deccan sultanates meant that he was continually at war; in one of these campaigns, he defeated Golconda and captured its commander Madurul-Mulk, crushed Bijapur and its sultan Ismail Adil Shah and restored Bahmani sultanate to Muhammad Shah.

The highlight of his conquests occurred on May 19, 1520 where he secured the fortress of Raichur from Ismail Adil Shah of Bijapur after a difficult siege during which 16,000 Vijaynagar soldiers were killed. The exploits of the chief military commander, Pemmasani Ramalinga Nayudu, during the battle of Raichur were suitably rewarded by the grateful emperor. During the campaign against Raichur, it is said that 703,000 foot soldiers, 32,600 cavalry and 551 elephants were used (See The battle of Raichur). Finally, in his last battle, he razed to the ground the fortress of Gulburga, the early capital of the Bahmani sultanate. His empire extended over the whole of South India.

In 1524 he made his son Tirumalai Raya the "Yuvaraja" though the crown prince did not survive for long. He was poisoned to death. Suspecting the involvement of Saluva Timmarasa, Krishnadevaraya had his trusted commander and adviser blinded.

Internal Affairs

Paes summarises the king's attitude to matters of law and order by the sentence, "The king maintains the law by killing." Offences against property (designed to maintain stability) and for murder ranged from cutting of a foot and hand for theft and beheading for murder (except for those occurring as a result of duel). Paes could not estimate the size of Vijaynagar as his view was obscured by the hills but estimated the city to be at least as large as Rome. Furthermore, he considered Vijaynagar to be "the best provided city in the world" with a population of not less than a half a million.

The empire was divided into a number of provinces often under members of the royal family and into further subdivisions. The official languages of the court were Kannada and Telugu .

Sewe I remarks that Krishnadevaraya was not only a monarch de – jure, but he was also a de – facto sovereign with extensive powers and strong personal influence. With the active co – operation of Saluva Thimmarasa he administered the Kingdom well, maintained peace in the land and increased the prosperity of the people.

The administration of the empire was carried on along the lines indicated in his Amuktamalyada. He was the opinion that the King should always rule with an eye towards dharma. His concern for the welfare of the people is amply proved by his extensive annual tours all over the empire, during which he studied everything personally and tried to redress the grievances of the people and to punish the evil doers.

The Portuguese Chronicler Domingo Paes praises Krishnadevaraya as, “the most feared and perfect King… a great ruler and a man of much justice”. Though a staunch follower of Vaishnavism he showed respect all sects and petty religious prejudices never influenced him either in granting gifts or in his choice of companions and officers. According to Barbosa, “The King allows such freedom that every man may come and go live according to his own creed, without suffering any annoyance”.

Art and Literature

The rule of Krishnadevaraya was an age of prolific literature in many languages, although it is also known as a golden age of Telugu literature. Many Telugu, Sanskrit, Kannada and Tamil poets enjoyed the patronage of the emperor. Emperor Krishnadevaraya was fluent in many languages.

Kannada Literature

He patronised Kannada poets Mallanarya who wrote "Veerasaivamrita", "Bhavachintaratna" and "Satyendra Cholakathe", Chatu Vittalanatha who wrote "Bhagavatha", Timmanna Kavi who wrote a eulogy of his king in "Krishnaraya Bharata"Dr. S.U. Kamat, "Concise history of Karnataka", pp 157-189] Prof K.A.N. Sastri, "History of South India" pp 355-366] . Vyasatirtha, the great saint from Mysore belonging to the Madhwa order of Udupi was his "Rajguru" who wrote many songs in praise of his devoted kingKrishnadevaraya considered the saint his "Kuladevata" and highly honoured him. "A Concise History of Karnataka" pp 178, Dr. S.U. Kamath, [] "Haridasas of Karnataka", Madhusudana Rao CR, "History of South India", pp 324, Prof. K.A.N. Sastri] . "Krishnadevarayana Dinachari" in Kannada is a recently discovered work"A Concise History of Karnataka", Dr. S.U. Kamath, pp 157] . The record highlights the contemporary society during Krishnadevaraya's time in his personal diary. However it is not yet clear if the record was written by the king himself.

Tamil Literature

Krishnadevaraya patronised Tamil poet Haridasa Dr. S.U. Kamat, "Concise history of Karnataka", pp 157-189, "History of South India", pp 331-354, Prof. K.A.N. Sastri] .

Sanskrit Literature

In Sanskrit, Vyasatirtha wrote "Bhedojjivana", "Tatparyachandrika", "Nyayamrita" (a work directed against Advaita philosophy) and "Tarkatandava". Krishnadevaraya himself an accomplished scholar wrote "Madalasa Charita", "Satyavadu Parinaya" and "Rasamanjari" and "Jambavati Kalyana"Dr. S.U. Kamat, "Concise history of Karnataka", pg.157-189] Prof K.A.N. Sastri, "History of South India" pg.239-280] Prof K.A.N. Sastri, "History of South India" pg.309-330] .

Telugu Literature

Krishnadevarayalu’s("Desa bhashalandu Telugu Lessa") reign was the golden age of Telugu literature. Eight poets known as "Astadiggajalu" (eight elephants in the eight cardinal points such as North, South etc.) were part of his court (known as "Bhuvanavijayamu"). According to the Vaishnavite religion there are eight elephants in eight corners in space and hold the earth in its place. Similarly these eight poets were the eight pillars of his literary assembly. Who constituted Ashtadiggajas is not certain. But, it is popularly believed to include these : Allasani Peddana, Nandi Thimmana, Madayyagari Mallana, Dhurjati, Ayyalaraju Ramabhadrudu, Pingali Surana, Ramarajabhushanudu and Tenali Ramakrishnudu.

Among these eight poets Allasani Peddana is considered to be the greatest and is given the title of "Andhra Kavita Pitamaha" (the father of Telugu poetry). "Manucharitramu" is his popular prabhanda work. Nandi Timmana wrote "Parijataapaharanamu". Madayyagari Mallana wrote "Rajasekhara Charitramu." Dhurjati wrote "Kalahasti Mahatyamu" and Ayyalraju Ramabhadrudu wrote "Ramaabhyudayamu." Pingali Surana wrote the still remarkable "Raghavapandaveeyamu," a dual work with double meaning built into the text, describing both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Battumurty alias Ramarajabhushanudu wrote "Kavyalankarasangrahamu," "Vasucharitramu," and "Harischandranalopakhyanamu." Among these works the last one is a dual work which tells simultaneously the story of King Harishchandra and Nala and Damayanti. Tenali Ramakrishna first wrote "Udbhataradhya Charitramu," a Shaivite work and later wrote Vaishnava devotional texts "Panduranga Mahatmyamu," and "Ghatikachala Mahatmyamu." The period of the Empire is known as “Prabandha Period,” because of the quality of the prabandha literature produced during this time. Tenali Rama remains one of the most popular folk figures in India today, a quick-witted courtier ready even to outwit the all-powerful emperor.


Sri Krishnadevaraya wrote the "Amuktamalyada" in Telugu, in which he beautifully describes the pangs of separation suffered by Andal (one of the twelve bhakti era alwars) for her lover Lord Vishnu. He describes Andal’s physical beauty in thirty verses; using descriptions of the spring and the monsoon as metaphors. As elsewhere in Indian poetry - see Sringara - the sensual pleasure of union extends beyond the physical level and becomes a path to, and a metaphor for, spirituality and ultimate union with the divine.

One of the main characters is Periyalwar, the father of Andal. Lord Vishnu commands Periyalwar to teach a king of the Pandya dynasty the path of knowledge to "moksha". Amuktamalyada is also known by the name "Vishnuchitteeyam," a reference to "Vishnuchittudu", the telugu name of Periyalwar. Several other short stories are included in Amuktamalyada in the course of the main story of "Godadevi", the telugu name of Andal, which is used throghout the tome. Krishnarayalu was also well-versed in Sanskrit, Tamil and Kannada. "Jambavati Kalyanamu" is his Sanskrit work. "Amukutamalyada" 1-13,15] Velcheru Narayana Rao, "Coconut and Honey: Sanskrit and Telugu in Medieval Andhra" Social Scientist, Vol. 23, No. 10/12. (Oct. - Dec., 1995), pp. 24-40. [] ] . He strived for the welfare and the upliftment of Telugu people.

Religion and Culture

Krishna Deva Raya respected all sects of Hinduism, although he personally leaned in favour of Sri Vaishnavism"The Vaishnava influence", Vasudevan, Kamala [] ] "Srivaisnavas and the Royal Rama Cult at Vijayanagara", Rao, Ajay K [] ] , as evident in his litreary tomes, and lavished on the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple numerous objects of priceless value, ranging from diamond studded crowns to golden swords. Additionally, he is known to have commissioned the making of statutes of himself and his two wives at the temple complex. Krishnadevaraya, was formally, initiated into the Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya, by Panchamatha Bhanjanam Tathacharya, the Rajaguru, of those times. [ Article by U Vaidyanathan] He also, equally, patronised Vyasatirtha, and other vedanta scholars of that time.Haridasas of Karnataka, Narahari S. Pujar, Shrisha Rao and H.P.Raghunandan [] ] He patronised poets and scholars in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit.


* Smith, Vincent, "Oxford History of India", Fourth Edition, pgs. 306-307, and 312-313.
* Dr. Suryanath U. Kamat, Concise history of Karnataka, 2001, MCC, Bangalore (Reprinted 2002).
* Prof K.A. Nilakanta Sastri, History of South India, From Prehistoric times to fall of Vijayanagar, 1955, OUP, New Delhi (Reprinted 2002)


External links

* [ The Golden Era of Telugu Literature] from the Vepachedu Educational Foundation
* [ (Krishnadevaraya's complex at Tirupati)]
* [ Statutes of Krishnadevaraya and his wives at Tirupati.]
* (gold coins during his reign.)
* [ Hampi - History and Tourism]
* [ A Forgotten Empire (Vijayanagar): a contribution to the history of India] (Translation of the "Chronica dos reis de Bisnaga" written by Domingos Paes and Fernão Nunes about 1520 and 1535, respectively, with a historical introduction by Robert Sewell)."available freely at Project Gutenberg


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