Key words: Gopala, Dharmapala, Devapala, Nalanda University, Vikramsila University, Rampala
A number of powerful empires arose in northern India and the Deccan between AD 750 and 1000. These were the Pala Empire, the Pratihara Empire, and the Rashtrakuta Empire. Each of these empires fought among themselves to extend their dominance.
The Pala Empire was founded by Gopala probably in 750 AD. He was not a hereditary king; rather he was elected by the notable men of the area to avoid a state of anarchy. In 770, he was succeeded by his son Dharmapala who ruled till 810.
Though Dharmpala , in the beginning, was defeated at the hands of Rashtrakutas, yet he managed to establish a dominant Pala Kingdom in Bengal- Bihar region( eastern India) by the end of his reign.
In 810, Dharmpala’s son Devapala succeeded him and ruled for 40 years. He extended his control over Pragjyotishpur (Assam) and parts of Orissa.
The Pala rulers were great patrons of Buddhist learning and religion. They revived Nalanda University (near present day Patna, Bihar) and also founded Vikramsila University (in present day Bhagalpur, Bihar). Vikramsila University was founded by Dharmpala.
The Pala rulers had close cultural links with Tibet. They had also close trade links with South-East Asia which added greatly to the prosperity of Pala Empire.
The Pala Empire started to disintegrate after the death of Devapala. The last strong ruler was Rampala.