Thursday, October 25, 2007


The Chalukyas of Vatapi (Badami) and the Pallavas were two of some 'N' dynasties to rule the Indian sub-continent upto say, 1857; which I consider to be the period of the beginning of single-entity rule in India.

The Chalukyan king Pulikesi II, during my school days, was a sort of hated figure for me, for the simple reason that he stopped Harshavardhana's (whose name sounds infinitely sexier than Pulikesi) advance on the banks of the Narmada. But Immadi Pulikeshi by himself is the greatest ruler of the Chalukyan empire. Imagine, fighting a civil war to regain the throne, annexing territories, building up a vast army, laying siege to the city of Kanchipuram and at the end of it all having an empire stretching from the Narmada to the Kaveri is no mean achievement.

The Pallavas too had their heroes. King Mahendra Varman, his son Mamallan (of the Mahabalipuram fame) and of course their star commander Paranjothi.

The see saw cross generation battles between the two dynasties have been very well documented. Supposedly, the best literature in this area can be found in Kalki Krishnamurthi's Sivakamiyin Sapatham. Of course, the book is in Tamil, but you can find a partial English translation here. And just to clarify, the book is written from the Pallavan point of view. There is no doubting who the villains of the novel are - the Chalukyas. I would love to find a book written from the Chalukyan point of view.

Is there any parallel to this rivalry? I think so: the Indo-Australian battle for cricket supremacy is one such. Let me trace a chronology -

1. Allan Border led Australia kick Azhar led India's a*%& during the 1992 tour of Australia.

2. Sachin Tendulkar led India beat Mark Taylor led Australia in a one off test and knock them out of the Titan Cup.

3. Mohammad Azharuddin led India beat Mark Taylor led Australia in a 1997-98 3 test series in India

4. Steve Waugh led Australia blank Sachin Tendulkar led India in the 1999 down-under series

5. Saurav Ganguly led India stop the Steve Waugh led Australian juggernaut in the 'VVS Laxman-Matthew Hayden-Harbhajan Singh' series in 2001

6. Ganguly led India draw a hard fought series against Steve Waugh's Australia - in Australia.

7. Gilchrist-Ponting led Australia win back the Border Gavaskar trophy against a Ganguly-Dravid led India.

8. Ponting led Australia demolish Mahendra Dhoni led India 4-2 in a one day series.

The next series is India's tour of Australia in December. Is this the time for Dhoni to don the mantle of a Narasimha Pallavan?

Hopefully he should. But I feel for Dravid, he has never got a complete series against the Australians. Time to reconsider resignation from the test captaincy?

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