In My Hands Today…

Raya : Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagara – Srinivas Reddy

In 1509 Krishnadevaraya, a prince from humble origins, ascended the throne of Vijayanagara. The empire he inherited was weak from two messy dynastic succession, and ambitious enemy kings loomed large on all sides – a haughty king of Orissa in the east, five upstart Deccan Sultans to the North, revolting Tamil rajas in the South and enterprising Portuguese soldiers from the West.

But Krishnadevaraya quickly rose to the challenge, and in the course of his remarkable twenty-year reign, he changed history forever. He won every single battle he fought and unified the whole of South India under his banner. Krishnadevaraya is remembered today as one of India’s greatest kings, not only because of his successes on the battlefield or the dazzling splendour of his empire, but because he was India’s first truly global leader.

He had to confront very modern problems, such as building international alliances and negotiating overseas trade deals, while grappling with the challenges of globalism and multiculturalism. The Deccan of his time was a cosmopolitan place where Hindus and Muslims, North Indians and South Indians, Persians and Portuguese, all intermingled as they made their lives and fortunes. This cultural dynamism also inspired Krishnadevaraya to look back at India’s past and reflect on her histories and traditions.

As a philosopher-king who was also a celebrated poet in his own right, he presided over an Indian Renaissance, when ancient texts and traditions were reinvigorated and infused with a fresh and modern vitality. Five hundred years after krishnadevaraya’s death, he is still remembered and loved as a compassionate and wise king, one who is immortalised in films and folk tales, poems and Ballads.

This fascinating and riveting book is meticulously researched and beautifully written. Based on Portuguese and Persian chronicles, as well as many overlooked Telugu literary sources, Raya is the definitive biography of one of the world’s greatest leaders.

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