Tripartite Struggle for control of northern India took place in the 9th century between Pratihara Empire, Pala Empire, and Rashtrakuta Empire.

The Tripartite Struggle for control of northern India took place in the ninth century. This struggle was between the Pratihara Empire, the Pala Empire, and the Rashtrakuta Empire.

Perspective of Dineschandra Sircar on Tripartite Struggle

Epigraphist Dineschandra Sircar had a different perspective on this struggle. According to him, the struggle between the Pratihara Empire and the Rashtrakuta Empire had begun earlier than the struggle over Kannauj (Kanyakubja).

These two powers shared a common frontier in the Gujarat and Malwa regions. The frontier was a shifting one and far from permanent, causing enmity between the two powers. 

Even before the conflict started over Kannauj, Dantidurga, the founder of the Rashtrakuta kingdom, defeated Nagabhatta I of the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty, as evident from the Dashavatara Temple inscription of Dantidurga at Ellora and the Sanjan inscription of Amoghavarsha I, both belonging to the Rashtrakuta dynasty. 

On the other hand, the conflict between the Palas of Bengal and Bihar and the Ayudha dynasty of North India was a continuation of an old power struggle that began in the seventh century between Harshavardhana and Gaud’s Sanskka of the Pushyabhuti dynasty and would continue till the twelfth century. 

These regional conflicts were taken to a large pitch on the issue of succession to the Ayudha dynasty. Moreover, the participation of the four powers, namely the Pratihara Empire, the Pala Empire, the Rashtrakuta Empire, and the Ayudha dynasty, meant that it was a four-power competition.

At the end of the successor of Nagabhatta II of the Gurjara-Pratihara dynasty, he successfully attacked Kannauj and established control there. This was short-lived as he was soon defeated by the Rashtrakuta ruler, Govinda III. 

But the Rashtrakutas also formed a matrimonial relationship with the Ganges and defeated the Vengi kingdom. By the end of the 9th century, the power of the parents, as well as the Rashtrakutas, began to decline. 

This was seen as an ideal occasion by the feudal king Taila II, who defeated the Rastrakuta ruler and declared his kingdom there. It became known as the later Chalukya dynasty. 

His kingdom included the states of Karnataka, Konkan, and North Godavari. By the end of the tripartite struggle, the Pratiharas emerged victoriously and established themselves as rulers of Central India.


After the death of Emperor Harsha in 647 AD, not much is known about the kingdom of the Kannauj. His death created confusion due to the absence of his heirs.

Kannauj came for a short period under the hands of Arunasva who attacked Wang Hstian-tse who came to the court of king Harsha as an ambassador of the Chinese emperor Tai-Tsung. 

However, Wang Hstian-tse succeeded in capturing Arunasva who was taken back to China to spend his days in attendance on the Tang Emperor.

About AD 730, Yashovarman established a kingdom at Kannauj. His invasion of Gauda formed the subject of the Prakrit poem Gaudavaho (Slaying of the king of Gauda), composed by his courtier Vakapatiraja in the 8th century.

After Yashovarman, three kings — Vijrayudha, Indrayudha, and Chakrayudha — ruled over Kannauj between the close of the 8th century until the 820s. Taking advantage of the weakness of these Ayudha rulers and attracted by the enormous strategic and economic potentialities of the kingdom of Kannauj, the Gurjara-Pratiharas of Bhinmal (Rajasthan), the Palas of Bengal and Bihar, and the Rashtrakutas of the Manyakheta (Karnataka) fought against each other. 

This tripartite struggle for Kannauj stayed for almost two centuries and ultimately ended in favor of the Gurjara-Pratihara ruler Nagabhata II who made the city the capital of the Gurjara-Pratihara state, which ruled for nearly three centuries.

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