Raja Bhoj

Raja Bhoj (1010-1053)

The son of the great conqueror King Sindhuraj, was a legendary King in India from the. He spend his life institutionalizing culture, creating knowledge banks, and developing centers for art and spirituality. These centers offered opportunities for learning, improvising and demonstrating the various expressions of human creativity for generations to come.

Every effort made by Raja Bhoj, was aimed at securing the development of the great Indian civilization, culture, and thought. This included implementing his vision on environmental conservation an watershed management. As early as eleventh century, Raja Bhoj created the first ever and the largest man made reservoir that spread over an area of 648 square kilometers. Bhoj Raj’ as he was popularly known, the great Bhoj was a master of many subjects including architecture, phonetics, astrology, yoga, Policy making, navigation, medicinal science, music, religion, philosophy and poetry.

He documented his knowledge and the local knowledge in 84 Encyclopedias on the above subjects. These include the famous on Architecture and town and country planning, on Sanskrit poetic and rhetoric Compositions, on chemistry of extraction of metals from ores and drug preparation, On Yoga, on Astrology, philosophy and on the beauty of human life.

                   The Great Bhoj Temple near Bhopal is a marvel of architecture and art.

Raja Bhoj brought a social and cultural revolution in India with the concept of ‘Bhojshala’. These were Institutions dedicated to Goddess Saraswati (the Mother of all arts and Creativity) . These complexes expanded several acres and had in house temples, Arenas, class rooms, libraries and residential quarters. Priests, Scholars, dancers, sculptors and the common man, all assembled in one Place. Exchange of views, debates, performances, seminars and regular courses in various subjects of arts and science were regular activities in a Bhojshala. There are evidences of many such complexes constructed and funded by Raja Bhoj, all over the country. Of them only the Bhojshala in Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh survives till date. Incidentally, the Qutawal Islam Mosque adjacent to the Qutub Minar is an exact architectural copy of the Bhojshala in Dhar. An interesting narration from his times that reflects the levels of Indian traditional knowledge system says that King Bhoj suffered from a brain tumor in his early age. In the 10th century, he was operated upon by two brothers from Ujjaini who send him into controlled coma using a medicine called Sammohini. They then opened his skull and removed the tumour. Raja Bhoj survived this surgery and lived a healthy life.

Apart from contributing to culture and civilization, King Bhoj fought great wars protecting them and his people from foreign invaders. He reconstructed the Somnath temple destroyed by Mahmud Ghazni in 1024 and set after him. Scared by the great army of Bhoj, Ghazni fled India (Turkish author Gardizi).

Raja Bhoj also repulsed back Ghazni’s son Ghazini Masud who led a massive army to loot Indian cities. Raja Bhoj then formed an alliance with all Indian rulers against Islamic invaders and routed and killed Salar Masud in the battle of Behraich. With his allies, he then went on to liberate Hansi, Thaneshwar and Nagarkot (now in Pakistan) from the invaders.

Raja Bhoja is remembered much more than any of his contemporaries and is often compared with the illustrious VikramAditya of the golden Gupta era. His name is a household among the tribals. This is so because the Indians have always remembered philosophers, poets and scholars much more than kings merely decorated with military success. A King who did good to the people was much more embedded in the collective memory of Indians than a king who conquered vast territories. Raja Bhoja definitely stood out in this regard as one of historical India's most remarkable intellectuals with an astonishing variety of interests and oceanic knowledge. (Wikipedia) His efforts worked, and even the humble weavers in his kingdom composed great Sanskrit poetries. Such was the love for him in the masses that a poetry from his lifetime reads:

“Adya Dhara, Sada Dhara, Sada Lamba Saraswati, Panditah Manditah Sarve Bhoj Raje Bhuvamgate!”
(The immortal flow of knowledge and the Mother Godess Saraswati are all exalted, all scholars are honoured as the great King Bhoj is on earth). After his death, the same poets said:

“Adya Dhara, Nira Dhara, Nira Lamba Saraswati, Panditah Khanditah Sarve Bhoj Raje Divangate!”
(The immortal flow of knowledge has dried and the Mother Goddess Saraswati is not proped, all scholars are stranded as the great King Bhoj has preceded to heaven).

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