Vikramaditya: An emperor par excellence!!!

Vikramaditya of Ujjain
Vikramaditya of Ujjain

Forgotten heroes 

Bharat is a land of great kings who have been lost in the sands of time. Unfortunately, our history textbooks also ignore many of these great kings, emperors and kingdoms. Due to this the future generations will always remain ignorant about such great personalities. However, the internet has now made it easier to make known the life and feats of such Kshatriyas who built their empires and ruled in a just manner. Their life stories not only encourage us but also inspire us to emulate their qualities. One such emperor was Vikramaditya whose capital was Ujjain.

Vikramaditya of Ujjain: his heroism and conquests

The feats and heroics of Vikramaditya have been passed down through folklore in the form of stories. Simhasana Dwitrimsika and Betaal Pachisi talk about the exploits of the great king Vikramaditya. He was the younger brother of the famous ruler Bharthruhari. After Bharthruhari gave up the throne, to spend the rest of his days in contemplation, the kingdom was plunged into turmoil with the Sakas taking over. King Vikramaditya fought a hard battle and won back his kingdom. He drove away the Sakas to Bactria. This victory over the Sakas, in 57 BCE, marks the beginning of the Vikram Samvat. Vikram Samvat is the commonly used Hindu calendar and rightly so, in honour of one of the most courageous and able emperor. Later kings and rulers adopted the title ‘Vikramaditya’ as a means to show off their military and administrative prowess. His empire extended all over Bharat; from Setu in the South to the Himalayas in the North and from Kapilavastu in the East to the bank of River Sindhu in the West. Besides this, he had feudatory kings under his lordship.

The extent of his kingdom and over lordship

His nine gems

He was not only an able Kshatriya but also a great administrator. His Prime Minister was Bhatti, who was not only his brother but also a wise counsellor. His court is said to have been adorned by the best of the scholars. The Nine Gems of his court were masters of their respective fields. They were Dhanvantari (medicine), Kshapanaka (treasurer and grammarian), Amarasimha (grammarian), Shanku (policy maker), Ghatakarapara (literature), Kalidasa (poet), Vetala Bhatta (war strategist), Varamihira (astronomer and mathematician) and Vararuchi (astronomer). All of these scholars have authored treatises in their field of knowledge and these texts serve as an inspiration to this day.

His nine gems

Itihasa and Puranas have been a part of Bharat’s oral traditions since times immemorial. Due to this there has been a feeling that Indian’s lack a sense of history. However, since the tales have been passed on orally there could be a marginal element of error (exception and not the norm). Many scholars have, therefore, considered Vikramaditya to be a mythical figure. Moreover, with several kings adopting the title ‘Vikramaditya’ during later times, things have become complicated. There is no doubt that such a great and honest rule once walked the earth and ruled over an empire from his capital at Ujjain.

Vikram and Betaal

His place in modern India

Indian Navy named its aircraft carrier after the great king as INS Vikramaditya. Even the postal department recognised the value of Samrat Vikramaditya by launching commemorative stamps on 22nd December 2016. Such is the greatness of Samrat Vikramaditya, that every ruler who considered himself militarily and administratively successful, has felt compelled to adopt the Samrat’s name as his title.