Introduction to Basantadeva

King Basantadeva was the grandson of King Manadeva and ruled Nepal from 506 A.D. to 532 A.D. He was the First King of Nepal to document its administration in History through Inscriptions. There are more than 11 Inscriptions of King Basantadeva that have been found to the present date.

He became the King of Nepal after the premature death of his Father, Mahideva after ruling Nepal for nearly 7 Months. He has amassed both a positive and negative reputation among Historians as it was during his reign when the Gupta Family became Powerful in Nepal and established de-facto rule in Nepal.

Life of Basantadeva

Basantadeva was born in the Lichhavi Dynasty of Nepal as the son of Crown Prince Mahideva and grandson of King Manadeva. After the premature death of Mahideva in 506 A.D. he became the King of Nepal during his teens. Gopal Raja Bansawali mentions that he became the King of Nepal at the age of 15 years.

His Character

Basantadeva is given the impressive label as the King “whose fame spread through his learning, policy, kindness, charity, cleverness, virtue and influence.” This Epithet, in his Inscriptions, portrays him in a positive Image.

In another Inscription of King Basantadeva in Samvat 428 (AD 506) of Thankot, it has been written that he gave a village to his sister Jayasundari.

His Family

Not much is known about the Family of Basantadeva except for his sister and father. He has praised his Father as an opulent man from whom he has received blessings to rule Nepal. The name of his Sister was Jayasundari whereas his father was King Mahideva.

Dual/Triad Reign of Basantadeva

The final years of King Basantadeva were seen with the rise of Ravi Gupta as an influential figure in the Court of Nepal. Ravi Gupta belonged to the Gupta Clan and was closely tied to the Lichhavi Dynasty. Later, the Gupta Descendants dominated Nepalese Politics.

Now, the last inscriptions of Basantadeva have highlighted the situation of Ancient Politics and reveal that Ravi Gupta was not just a powerful government official, but an assistant ruler who ran the government alongside the king. It is even suggested that Ravi Gupta had the overall decisions of the government in his hands.

In the inscriptions of Aryaghat, only devotion to Ravi Gupta is shown without mentioning the name of the king. It is clear from these Inscriptions that Ravi Gupta became an assistant ruler, and this fact has been systematically extracted from the mouth of the king.

End of Basantadeva’s Reign

The reign of King Basantadeva ended in 532 A.D. when he was 41 years old as per Gopal Raja Bansawali.

Dhanavajra Bajracharya has mentioned that a huge scandal broke out in Nepal during 532 A.D. that ended the reign of the King and the power of Ravi Gupta. It was possibly related to Mahasamata and a great feudal Lord named Kramlil who established Ravi Gupta in Nepal.

Despite the end of his reign, Kramlil continued to exercise a large amount of power in Nepal, much more than he previously had.

Inscription of Basantadeva

Important Inscriptions of Basantadeva’s Reign

Basantadeva is considered to be the first king in the history of Nepal to disseminate administrative Inscriptions. The Other Inscriptions that have mentioned the administrative situation of Nepal are:

Inscription of Thankot

In the Inscription of Thankot, The Relationship between the Kings and Citizens of Nepal has been shown as friendly and loving. The Relation seems to be similar to that of a Father and Son according to Dhana Bajra Bajracharya.

This Inscription first mentions the Post of “Dutak“. Dutak acted as the bridge of information between the King and the People. They were highly trusted by the King.

Also, In this Inscription, he has paid respect to his Father King Mahideva who highlights the humbleness of him as a King.

Inscription of Bahlukha, Patan

The Inscription of Bahlukha has mentioned the posts of Dandanayak, Sarva Dandanayak as well as Maha Pratihar. Sarva Dandanayak made sure that the people were disciplined and acted in accordance with Dharma and religion.

Maha Pratihar were the bodyguards of the King who also acted as the Chief Representative and Advisor to the King. The Kings appointed trustworthy and well-respected people to the Post of Maha Pratihar.

Inscription of Jaisideval

The Inscription for Jaisideval mentions Kuther, Sulli, Ligwal, and Mapchwok with primary reference to Kuther Tribunal. Kuther Tribunal is primarily concerned with Land Revenue and Land Taxation.

The Inscription of Pasikhya

The Inscription of Pasikhya is important for two reasons. First, it mentions other functions of the Kuther Tribunal.

It also mentions the Sholla Tribunal which probably dealt with Heinous Crimes. Second, it has hinted at either a Dual or Triad Reign between King Basantadeva, Ravi Gupta, and Maha Samanta Kramlil.

Conclusion

King Basantadeva’s reign was relatively peaceful with exceptional Administrative Documentation and the Rise of Alternative Powers. He also documented the ancient Administrative practices of the Lichhavi Dynasty in Nepal.

He was a peace-loving and friendly King whom power-hungry men like Ravi Gupta and Kramlil used. Although the truth about these men isn’t well known, it certainly set a precedent for men like Amshuverma and Bhaum Gupta to become near King-like figures in Lichhavi History.

References

  • Regmi, D. R. (1983). Inscriptions of Ancient Nepal. India: Abhinav Publications.
  • Vajracharya, Dhanavajra “Lichhavikalka Abhilekh” INAS, 1973
  • Vajracharya, Dhanavajra, and Kamal P. Malla. “The Gopalraja Vamsavali” Nepal Research Centre Publications, 1985
  • Regmi, Jagadish Chandra. “Pracin Nepalko Rajnitik Itihas” Royal Nepal Academy, 2035 B.S.
  • Poudel, Nayanath “Bhasa Vansavali Part I” Puratatva Prakashan Mala, 2020 B.S.

Cite

Pokhrel, A. (2023). King Basantadeva – Itihasaa. Encyclopedia of Nepali History. https://itihasaa.com/lichhavi-kings/basantadeva/

FAQs

King Basantadeva was the first king of Nepal who documented its administration in history through inscriptions. He was the grandson of King Manadeva and ruled Nepal from 506 A.D. to 532 A.D.

Basantadeva became the King of Nepal during his teens after the premature death of his father, Mahideva in 506 A.D.

King Basantadeva was known for his learning, policy, kindness, charity, cleverness, virtue, and influence. He was seen as a soft-hearted king who was easily influenced by others.

King Basantadeva disseminated administrative records, and his nine administrative inscriptions shed light on the Governance and Administration of the Lichhavi Dynasty. Some of the important inscriptions of his reign include the Inscription of Thankot, the Inscription of Bahlukha, Patan, the Inscription of Jaisideval, and the Inscription of Pasikhya.