Pulakeshi II (610-42) is not the most glamorous of Kannada heroes. In comparison to other Kannada emperors such as Krishnadevaraya and Amoghavarsha or even Hoysala Vishnuvardhana and Ranadhira Kanthirava of Mysore, Pulakeshi hasn’t captured the attention of Kannadigas to the same extent. If Mayura was the founder of the first Kannada dynasty (Kadambas), then in the 7th century, Pulakeshi established the first pan-Indian Kannada kingdom; Pulakeshi II and Chalukyas were the first Kannada family to establish their control beyond their core area of northern Kannada speaking regions, effectively into all the south Indian regions, south of the Vindhyas. His success in stopping Harsha, the celebrated emperor of north India, on the banks of Narmada adds to his legend as a great Kannada hero. Yet, possibly because of the absence of popular legends and folk narratives, Pulakeshi doesn’t hold the same romantic appeal, as is the case with Mayura. His association with Kannada nationalism too seems to be contrived and forced.
Pulakeshi’s tragic end doesn’t take away the luster of his achievements yet surely it does seem to affect his legend and status as a Kannada hero. Still, descriptions of his kingdom, its people and the capital city of Badami in Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang are quite flattering. Pulakeshi also received a Persian ambassador from the court of Khusro, a scene depicted in the Ajanta caves. Ravikirti’s following concluding description attests to Pulakeshi’s qualities and achievements:
"While He, Satyashraya, endowed with the powers of energy, mastery and good counsel,–having conquered all the quarters, having dismissed the kings full of honours, having done homage to gods and Brahmans, having entered the city of Vatapi–is ruling, like one city, this earth which has the dark-blue waters of the surging sea for its moat;......."
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One can learn Kannada letters at www.sampige.org
Many many thanks to “Apoorva Chandar” for providing Amar Chitra Katha.