Indo-Nepal Relations in Lichhavi Dynasty

Introduction to Indo-Nepal Relations in Lichhavi Dynasty

The Indo-Nepal relations during the Lichhavi Dynasty were characterized by inter-dependency, lineage connections, marriages, religion, and trade.

The Lichhavi Kings of Nepal and the Indian kingdoms were interdependent for defense, security, diplomacy, and trade. The Gupta Empire exerted influence over Nepal, as mentioned in the Allahabad Pillar Inscription, where Nepal was referred to as a vassal state. However, with the reign of King Vrsadeva, Nepal gained complete independence from the Guptas, marking a golden age in its history.

Marriages played a significant role in shaping Indo-Nepal relations. The Lichhavi Kings practiced endogamous marriages, strengthening alliances and expanding influence. These marriages fostered mutual coexistence, increased the number of allies, and opened up economic opportunities through trade.

Religion also played a crucial role in the relations between the two civilizations. Both the Guptas and the Lichhavis were followers of Vaishnavism, but they allowed the coexistence of other religions.

Trade with India was vital for Nepal’s economy. International traders known as Sartha were actively involved in Nepal’s trade activities during the reign of King Manadeva. The state-supported and protected these traders, contributing to Nepal’s economic prosperity and the extravagant lifestyle of the royal family.

Characters of Indo-Nepal Relations in the Lichhavi Era

Inter-Dependency

The historical relationship between India and Nepal has been shaped by various factors, including geography, trade, and diplomatic ties. Nepal’s mountainous terrain has isolated it from the outside world, making trade and development challenging.

However, during the reign of Samudra Gupta, the second emperor of the Gupta Empire, a neighboring relationship was established with Nepal.

The Geographical Division Today known as India was a combination of multiple city-states and centuries earlier were known as the Mahajanapadas. In the Reign of Lichhavi Kings from 350-750 A.D., the Kingdoms were dependent on each other for defense, security, diplomacy, trade, and other multiple Purposes.

The Allahabad Pillar Inscription of King Samudra Gupta stated that Nepal was one of the vassal states of Samudra Gupta. Also, Nepal has to pay some sort of fee. Also, The Gupta Empire and the Lichhavis had a neighboring relationship and by the start of the Reign of King Manadeva, Guptas didn’t exert influence over Nepal.

Hence, King Vrsadeva, the great Grandfather is attributed to have provided Independence to the Lichhavis. He is said to have been an unparalleled King whose sons attained high Power.

While the influence of the Gupta Empire impacted Nepal through trade and transportation, Nepal experienced a surge in political and economic strength as the Gupta Empire declined.

King Vrsadeva or another Lichhavi monarch severed all ties with the Guptas, leading to Nepal’s complete independence. This marked a golden age in Nepal’s history, where it preserved its wealth and embarked on a path of economic development.

Lineage

Throughout history, the marriage between the Lichhavis of Nepal and the kingdoms of the Indian subcontinent was prioritized and seen as a diplomatic strategy. Such endogamous marriages fostered mutual coexistence, increased the number of allies, and expanded the sphere of influence for both parties.

Hence, the Lineage of Lichhavi Kings is deeply interconnected with the Lineage of Indian Kings. One of the Important Questions of Lineage is that of King Manadeva’s mother Rajyavati.

The lineage of Manadeva’s mother, Rajyavati, remains mysterious but portrays strength and conviction. She is described as a woman of high respect and superiority.

The inscription of Changunarayan refers to her as a female from an illustrious clan, leading some historians to believe that she may have been a princess from an Indian city-state. This is supported by the military assistance provided by her brother to aid Manadeva in his wars against feudal lords.

Marriage


The marriage between the Lichhavis of Nepal and the kingdoms of the Indian subcontinent has played a significant role in Indo-Nepal relations. This type of marriage was seen as a diplomatic strategy, strengthening alliances and expanding influence. The Lichhavi kings of Nepal migrated from India after the decline of the Lichhavi Empire, indicating their connection to the Indian Lichhavi kings.

The practice of endogamous marriages among the Lichhavis further solidified diplomatic ties and provided much-needed allies in a turbulent region. These marriages not only ensured security but also opened up new economic opportunities through trade, benefiting both nations.

For Example, Bhoga Devi, the sister of Amsuverma, was married to Rajputra (Sur Sen), the son of a king who either sought asylum or was invited to Nepal.

During Nepal’s golden age of international relations from 650 A.D. to 733 A.D., marriage played a crucial role in shaping its diplomatic ties. King Shivadeva II of Nepal was married to Vatsadevi, the daughter of Bhog Varma, who had connections to the Magadha Empire.

This marriage strengthened the bond between the Lichhavi Kingdom of Nepal and the Magadha Empire, potentially aiding the Magadhas in becoming the dominant empire in India.

However, there are some controversies regarding the historical records of Vatsadevi, and Bhog Varma, and their significance. While the marriage is documented in the Pashupati Inscription of King Jayadeva, the identity and influence of Bhog Varma remain uncertain.

Another notable marriage was between King Jayadeva II and a princess from the Kosala Dynasty, which had once been a powerful kingdom but had diminished in influence by the 7th and 8th centuries.

These marriages allowed Nepal to maintain international relations and alliances with ancient kingdoms, potentially shaping the political landscape of the Indian Subcontinent during that time.

Religion

Religions also played an instrumental role in Indo-Nepal Relations. The Three Primary Religious Groups of both Civilizations with Vaishnavism, Shaivism and Buddhism.

In general, the Kings were the followers of the Vaishnav sect. the Guptas of India and the Lichhavis of Nepal were devout followers of Lord Vishnu. However, they allowed the co-existence of other Religions as well. Prominently, the Wives of such Kings could be from other Religions as well.

In the context of Nepal, the rise of King Amsuverma saw the demise of Vaishnavism and the superior following of the Shaivism Sect of Hinduism because of the presence of Pashupatinath and other Lord Shiva Temples.

Later Lichhavi Kings also converted to Shaivism. The General Populace and some exceptional Kings were the followers of Buddhism as well highlighting that all three Religions flourished in the State of Mutual Co-Existence.

Trade

Trade with India played a vital role in Nepal’s economy, alongside agriculture, and received significant attention from the administration. During the reign of King Manadeva, international traders known as Sartha, led by Sarthabaha, were actively involved in Nepal’s trade activities, as documented in the Deupatan inscription.

In ancient times, transportation and communication were challenging, and traveling alone posed risks to individuals and their belongings. To ensure safety, Nepalese traders formed group expeditions to go to India, which were supported by the state.

In return, these traders brought valuable goods and economic benefits, such as gold, to the king and the state. The Lichhavi Kings, including King Manadeva, actively supported and protected these traders, fostering a thriving environment for international trade and business in Nepal.

This emphasis on the International Trade of Manadeva not only contributed to Nepal’s economic prosperity but also facilitated the lavish lifestyles of the royal family. The wealth generated from trade activities enabled the palace to fulfill its extravagant desires and aspirations.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Indo-Nepal relations during the Lichhavi Dynasty were marked by inter-dependency, lineage connections, marriages, religion, and trade. The Lichhavi Kings and Indian kingdoms were interdependent in defense, diplomacy, and trade.

Endogamous marriages solidified alliances and opened economic opportunities. The coexistence of religions and trade with India further shaped their relations.

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