The first of its kind, ground breaking face to face interview with His highness Maharaja Kamal Chandra bhanj dev kakatiya by the most promising, aspiring & passionate archeology enthusiast Aravind Arya Pakide :-
The Telangana government has made the 'Kala thoranam' of the Kakatiyas a part of its official emblem. Most of the man made lakes, temples, heritage sites we see today in Telangana are reminders of the rich ancient glory of the Kakatiyas. The people of Telangana are indebted to the kakatiya dynasty for having bestowed on us such great gifts. But now, with the advent of democracy, all great dynasties & its ruler emperors remain confined to the pages in history books.
Just like the ageless imprints in the realm of time, the various heritage & non-heritage structures of the Kakatiyas are still standing high, proud & strong even today just like their unbroken descendant lineage which is existing even today in flesh & blood.
The Kakatiyas are existing even today in this modern world ruling the princely province of Bastar in Chhattisgarh. As of now, we know very little of them & we ought to know much more about them in the near future.
'Maharaja Kamal Chandra bhanj dev kakatiya' is the present day descendant of the erstwhile Kakatiyas. He is now serving in the state government of Chhattisgarh as the president of the youth commission. Not forgetting his very roots & rich traditions, he has completed his higher education abroad & is even proficient in many languages.
Our very own young, energetic, aspiring & passionate archeology enthusiast Aravind Arya Pakide manages to unravel the mysteries of the Kakatiyas through the words of the present kakatiya descendant, His Highness Maharaja Kamal Chandra bhanj dev kakatiya himself. He is proficient in many languages. He has conversed very fluently in Hindi & English and he even spoke a few sentences in Telugu, which clearly shows his love for his ancestral mother tongue.
Let us now foray into the rich glory of the Kakatiyas of Bastar :-
Aravind Arya Pakide: Can you please state a few facts that prove you & your ancestors as the true descendants of the Kakatiyas ?
Maharaja Kamal Chandra bhanj dev kakatiya: In the year 1940, the then Indo-British government published a book called - 'The Memorandum on Indian states', which clearly states that - "After the death of the last kakatiya king Prataparudra, his surviving descendant 'Annamadeva', who happens to be King Prataparudra's brother's son, has moved to Dantewada of Bastar district & re-established the Kakatiya Kingdom in an area of 13000 Sq. Km. Ever since then he & 20 more of his descendants have ruled for the next 600yrs."
In the year 1960, the Supreme Court has issued a document clearly stating that -" Maharaja Pravir Chandra Bhanj Dev kakatiya is the present ruler of the Bastar Kakatiya dynasty. "
Thus, various governments have also proved that we are the true ancestral descendants of the Kakatiyas.
Aravind Arya Pakide : Maharaja saheb , can you please describe your ancestral lineage & legacy in relation to archeology & official historical records ?
Maharaja Kamal Chandra bhanj dev kakatiya : There are many historical evidences of archeological importance in & around the district of Bastar. There are even a few Telugu inscriptions in Dantewada's forest range. They all very well prove that we are the descendants of the Kakatiyas. Besides this many temples & monuments in and around Bijapur, Sukuma, Narayanpur , kanker etc... exhibit the Kakatiyan style of architecture & sculpture. Even in the government records, my name ends with the suffix 'kakatiya' which states me as the present day descendant & ruler.All the above said facts prove that we are the true descendants of the Kakatiyas.
Aravind Arya Pakide: Maharaja saheb, can you please enlighten us about your self?
Maharaja Saheb: I am Maharaja Kamal Chandra bhanj dev kakatiya. I am the 22nd ruler of the Bastar line of kakatiya kings. I was born in the year 1984. I have a degree in Master of Science from the Caventry University. I also have a degree in Political science from St. Joseph's college of commerce in Bengaluru. I have been discharging my duties as a king right from 12yrs of age till date. I've started a non-profit organization called, 'Pravir Sena'. I'm the president of the Chhattisgarh state youth commission which is a cabinet post. As a part of the activities of the youth commission, we try to give employment to the youth by designing various skill development programs for the youth of Bastar & Chhattisgarh.
Aravind Arya Pakide: Maharaja, can you please tell us why do you have 'Bhanj' at the end of your name ?
Maharaja saheb: During the years 1891-1921, Maharaja Rudra Pratap Dev was the ruler of Bastar. As he did not have any male progeny, his daughter Prafulla Kumari Devi took up the responsibility as the ruling queen of Bastar. She married Prafulla Kumar Bhanj Dev of the 'Mayur Bhanj' royal family of Orissa. Instead of the queen moving to Orissa, he chose to move, live & stay with us here at Bastar. From then on, 'Bhanj', became a suffix as a surname for all our descendants. Maharaja Pravir Chandra Bhanj Dev was born in the year 1929.
Aravind Arya Pakide : We have heard that even the Bastar Kakatiya dynasty has a similar glorious heritage to the erstwhile Kakatiya dynasty. How do you explain this ?
Maharaja Saheb: The Bastar Kakatiya dynasty was re-established in the 15th Century. Ours is the 11th largest dynasty among the princely states & royal families of modern India. Right from the beginning , all my ancestors, till the present day have been striving & struggling hard to strike a perfect balance between democracy & the princely governance, combining the virtues of both. As of now, the 5 districts of Bijapur, Dantewada, Bastar, Narayanpur & kanker of the Chhattisgarh state form the present day Bastar Kakatiya dynasty.
Aravind Arya Pakide: Maharaja saheb, Can you detail us the significance of the very famous Danteswari temple ?
Maharaja Saheb: The Danteswari temple is the holy abode of the goddess Danteswari. This temple has gained prominence as it is one of the 52 Shakti peethams located in India. This temple is situated in Dantewada, which is 80 km from Jagdalpur. Coincidentally, our ancestral house & the royal palace is also at Jagdalpur. The Place 'Dantewada', has derived its name in honour of its presiding deity Goddess Danteswari. Many of the natives believe that the yester year Kakatiyas themselves have consecrated the goddess here. Since then, she is our family deity & the presiding deity of the whole of Bastar district as well.
Aravind Arya Pakide : We have heard that the Dussehra festivities take place on a grand scale at Jagdalpur. Maharaja saheb can you please describe them?
Maharaja Saheb : The Dussehra festivities here have an unbroken tradition of at least more than 500 yrs. They say that these festivities first started during the reign of my ancestor Maharaja Purushottama Dev(1468-1534).Ever since then, we celebrate Dussehra on a grand scale at the Danteswari matha temple at Jagdalpur & in the whole district of Bastar as well. This temple is amidst the dense forests of Jagdalpur. This forest range is mostly inhabited by the local tribes also called 'Girijans'. The Dussehra festivities here differ in a lot many ways when compared to those in the various other parts of our country. If all the other regions in the country celebrate for 10days,we here do it for 75 days. All the tribes here belonging to the clans of 'Maria' , 'Muria', 'Abuj Maria', 'Durva', 'Dorla', 'Batra', 'Halba' etc... celebrate together on a grand scale. The festivities begin on the Amavasya day in the holy month of 'Sravana'. The puja festivities are first begun by the 'Nimna' sect of people here. On the last day the festivities conclude with community feasting.
Aravind Arya Pakide : We have heard that you yourself worship & propitiate the goddess Danteswari in her abode on Dussehra. Is it true Maharaja Saheb?
Maharaja Saheb : Yes Aravind, what you've heard is absolutely true. Being the ruler of Bastar, I not only serve the people as their king but I also serve the goddess Danteswari as her pujari or priest. As a part of the 75 day celebration of Dussehra, during the last 10 days I personally worship & propitiate the goddess as her priest. All my ancestors have been doing this ritual ever since it first started between the years 1468-1534, during the reign of Maharaja Purushottama Dev. Ever since then it is our ancestral tradition to do so.
Aravind Arya Pakide : Maharaja Can you please shed some light on the system of governance under your leadership at Bastar ?
Maharaja Saheb : The welfare & well being of my people is my utmost & primary concern. More than 90% of the people here are tribes or 'Girijans'. Apart from providing them the basic facilities, I even look after their basic survival needs with regards to water resources, medical facilities & so on. As a part of all this, I try to visit atleast 2 villages per day in Bastar enquiring my people of their well being & needs. I try to solve their problems as quickly & amicably as possible. As the Maharaja & a leader of my people , I rule, govern & work along with 12 zamindars, 'Talukadars' at the division level & 'kotwals' at the village level.
Aravind Arya Pakide : Maharaja saheb, some newspapers have stated that you come to Warangal Fort to perform some religious rituals during the months of August & September. How far is this true?
Maharaja Saheb : No Aravind, it's not true. None of my ancestors or anyone from my family have come to warangal till date. At the time of the re-establishment of the Bastar Kakatiya dynasty, several Brahmin families too have migrated here along with my ancestors. It is them who look after everything pertaining to our royal family. Even the 'Tilak' on my forehead is put by them. Usually, when a king dies, his male progeny perform the last rites. But, in our case it does not happen like that. The head priests of the Brahmin families who have migrated here from Warangal perform the last rites. As a token of gratitude, we in return give them lands, cows etc... as 'Dakshina'. I've heard that there are many renowned heritage monuments & temples in Warangal. Even here at Bastar, there's a temple much similar to the Kakatiya's 1000 pillar temple. I'm still trying to explore many things with regard to our royal lineage of the Kakatiyas. As a part of my research in this context, I've found that the name 'KAKATIYA ', is derived from the word 'KAKATI', which is one of the 1008 names of the Goddess kali matha. Out of passion for my roots , I even have a large collection of Books, Manuscripts & inscriptions. Few of them are even in the Telugu dialect as well. I'm planning to write a book in the near future after a thorough research & study of them all.
Aravind Arya Pakide : Maharaja saheb , in what way is your research centered on the Kakatiyas ?
Maharaja Saheb : As a part of my research, I'm planning to do an in depth study in conjunction with the political, social & economic day - to-day lifestyle of the erstwhile kakatiyas. I've to do a detailed study with regards to the rule & governance system right from the ancient Kakatiyas to the present day Bastar Kakatiyas. I know certain facts in this context beginning from 'Annamadeva' to myself. There is a bit of difference in opinion between the facts related to the rule, governance & lifestyle of the pre-Bastar kakatiyas like king Prataparudra, Queen Rudrama devi, king Ganapati Deva & so on..., elicited by me as a part of my research & those stated by the historians & research scholars of Telangana. As of now, I'm trying to explore & research in this perspective in order to understand these differences & fill the spaces between.
Aravind Arya Pakide : Maharaja saheb, we cordially invite you to come & visit the grandeur of your erstwhile Kakatiya ancestors. Will you accept our invitation ?
Maharaja Saheb : Oh yes ! Aravind, I will surely come & visit Warangal one fine day.