Gopala (ruled c. 750s–770s CE) was the founder of the Pala Dynasty
Bengal region of the Indian Subcontinent. The last morpheme of his
name Pala means "protector" and was used as an ending for the names of
all the Pala monarchs. Pala does not suggest or indicate any ethnic or
caste considerations of the Pala dynasty. He came to power around 750
CE in Gaur / Gwal after being elected by a group of regional
3 Reign and legacy
5 See also
There are no contemporary sources of information about Gopala's life:
he is known only through the later literary references and genealogies
The name of his father was Vapyata, and his grandfather
Dayitavishnu. A eulogy on the Khalimpur copper plate of his son
Gopala describes his father Vapyata as a Khanditarati or "killer of
enemies", and his grandfather Dayitavishnu as Sarva-vidyavadata
("all-knowing" in the sense "highly educated"). The later texts of
the Pala period, such as Ramacharita, mention the Pala rulers as the
kings descended from the solar dynasty. However, these lack
credibility, and seem to be attempts to cover up their relatively
After the death of the Gauda king Shashanka, a century of anarchy and
confusion ensued in Bengal. This situation is described by the
Sanskrit phrase matsya nyaya ("fish justice" i.e. a situation in which
the big fish prey on the smaller ones). It was during these times that
Gopala came to power around 750 CE. He
Matsyanyayam apakitum prakritibhir Lakshmiya karam grahitah Sri Gopala
iti kshitisa-sirsam chudamani-tatsubha
To put an end to the state of affairs similar to what happens among
fishes, the prakriti made the glorious Gopala, the crest jewel of the
heads of kings, take the hand of Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune.
The Sanskrit word prakriti is suggestive of "people" in general.
Taranatha (1575–1634), writing nearly 800
years later, also writes that he was democratically elected by the
people of Bengal. However, his account is in form of a legend, and is
considered historically unreliable. The legend mentions that after a
period of anarchy, the people elected several kings in succession, all
of whom were consumed by the Naga queen of an earlier king on the
night following their election. Gopal, however managed to kill the
queen and remained on the throne.
The historical evidence indicates that Gopala was not elected directly
by his subjects, but by a group of feudal chieftains. Such elections
were quite common in contemporary tribal societies of the
region. The stanza in the Khalimpur copper plate is an eulogy,
and uses the word prakriti figuratively.
Based on the different interpretations of the various epigraphs and
historical records, the different historians estimate Gopala's reign
Estimate of Gopala's reign
RC Majumdar (1971)
AM Chowdhury (1967)
BP Sinha (1977)
DC Sircar (1975–76)
Reign and legacy
According to Manjusrimulakalpa, Gopala died at the age of 80, after a
reign of 27 years. Not much is known about his life or military
career, but at the time of his death, Gopala had bequeathed a large
kingdom to his son Dharmapala (770-810 CE). No records are available
about the exact boundaries of Gopala's kingdom, but it might have
included almost all of the
Bengal region. His son and successor
Dharmapala greatly expanded the kingdom, making it one of the most
powerful empires in contemporary India.
A few sources written much after Gopala's death mention him as a
Buddhist, but it is not known if this is true.:39
that Gopala was a staunch
Buddhist and a major patron of Buddhism. He
also states that Gopala had built the famous
Buddhist monastery at
List of rulers of Bengal
^ a b c Susan L. Huntington (1 January 1984). The "Påala-Sena"
Schools of Sculpture. Brill Archive. ISBN 90-04-06856-2.
^ AM Chowdhury, Dynastic History of Bengal, Dhaka, 1967
^ Jhunu Bagchi (1 January 1993). The History and Culture of the Pālas
Bengal and Bihar, Cir. 750 A.D.-cir. 1200 A.D. Abhinav
Publications. p. 37. ISBN 978-81-7017-301-4.
^ a b c Nitish K. Sengupta (1 January 2011). Land of Two Rivers: A
Bengal from the Mahabharata to Mujib. Penguin Books India.
p. 40. ISBN 978-0-14-341678-4.
^ a b Biplab Dasgupta (1 January 2005). European Trade and Colonial
Conquest. Anthem Press. pp. 341–.
^ P.B. Udgaonkar (1 January 1986). Political Institutions &
Administration. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. pp. 34–.
^ Pramode Lal Paul (1939). The Early History of
Bengal (PDF). Indian
History. Indian Research Institute. p. 36. Archived from the
original (PDF) on 2014-03-29. Retrieved 2014-03-28.
^ Sailendra Nath Sen (1 January 1999). Ancient Indian History and
Civilization. New Age International. pp. 277–287.
^ History of Buddhism in India, Translation by A Shiefner
c. 750s–770s CE