Book Review

Rajaraja Chola by Raghavan Srinivasan

Interplay Between an Imperial Regime and Productive Forces of Society

Today when the promise and the threat of globalization are top concerns, it is fascinating to read about how it all started. In this book, Raghavan Srinivasan resurrects the history of Rajaraja Chola, from the story of his relentless rise to the throne of the Chola dynasty to the waging of his devastatingly successful ruling and the explosion of civilization that the Rajaraja Chola unleashed.

Title: Rajaraja Chola: Interplay Between an Imperial Regime and Productive Forces of Society

Author: Raghavan Srinivasan

Publisher: Leadstart publishing

Genre: History

First Publication: 2021

Language: English

 

Book Summary: Rajaraja Chola by Raghavan Srinivasan

When Rajaraja Chola ascended the throne, the land of Tamils entered upon centuries of grandeur. He left behind a stupendous legacy, which has not lost its sheen even after a thousand years. During his regime, we see powerful productive forces at work, newly liberated by the advances made in manufacturing and trade.

Through interesting facts and riveting analyses, the reader can vividly experience the tumultuous developments of this perioud. It bring to life the social, political and economic underpinnings of that time – expansion of agriculture, rise of nagarams, maturing of self-governing corporate bodies, phenomenal increase in inland and overseas trade networks, and overall strengthening of the administrative and military apparatus, which would later bring South-east Asia under its influence. Equally important to the stability of the empire was the compelling iconography of Saivism, which this book presents in a sublime and engrossing style.

Written by Raghavan Srinivasan, the author of Yugantar, this book recreates the history of a South Indian king and his imperial empire, in a form that would appeal to the academia and the wider public audience alike.

Book Review - Rajaraja Chola by Raghavan Srinivasan

Book Review: Rajaraja Chola by Raghavan Srinivasan

Today when the promise and the threat of globalization are top concerns, it is fascinating to read about how it all started. In Rajaraja Chola, Raghavan Srinivasan resurrects the history of Rajaraja Chola, from the story of his relentless rise to the throne of the Chola dynasty to the waging of his devastatingly successful ruling and the explosion of civilization that the Rajaraja Chola unleashed. This dazzling work of revisionist history doesn’t just paint an unprecedented portrait of a great leader and his legacy, but challenges us to reconsider how the modern world was made.

The Chola dynasty, a Tamil thalassocratic empire in southern India, was one of history’s oldest monarchy. During the period 1010–1153, the Chola territories stretched from the islands of the Maldives in the south to as far north as the banks of the Godavari River in Andhra Pradesh. Rajaraja Chola conquered peninsular South India, annexed parts of which is now Sri Lanka and occupied the islands of the Maldives. Rajaraja Chola’s ascension to the throne led to centuries of grandness for Tamil land. The legacy he left behind is still shines even after more than a thousand years. With the advances made in manufacturing and trade, we see powerful productive forces at work during his rule.

Raghavan Srinivasan presents a wide-scoping history of the Chola dynasty, starting from the birth and childhood of Rajaraja Chola. In the process, Raghavan Srinivasan chronicles the military and diplomatic genius of Rajaraja Chola, as well as the social, political and economic growth of that time brought forth by his empire, including expansion of agriculture, rise of nagarams, maturing of self-governing corporate bodies, phenomenal increase in inland and overseas trade networks, and overall strengthening of the administrative and military apparatus. Author also lays out the influence that the Chola dynasty has had on history, and how the reputation of Rajaraja Chola was shaped over time.

Raghavan Srinivasan’s book provides the well written life and history of Rajaraja Chola and the equally well written and inspiring economic, political, and cultural history of the Chola conquests and rule. The rise of Rajaraja Chola, the spread of his immense empire, the surprisingly farsighted policies he implemented, the intrigues of his successors, and the way South-east Asia was changed in their wake, make this book an interesting read with lots of dramatic events.

The writing style was engaging and not dry at all as can be the case when reading books that strictly deal with history. The narrative explores the figure of Rajaraja Chola more, tries to convey his views and thoughts, and how he created laws that were quite progressive for the empire. Author Raghavan Srinivasan really does a great job of putting the reader in the shoes of people living in the time of Rajaraja Chola and following the journey of the great king and his descendants.

This is well documented, thoughtful, very informative, page-turner history book. If you know nothing (or very little) about the Rajaraja Chola and the Chola dynasty, this is a good introduction; It’s an easy, fast read and gives you a good overview of their lives and the times they lived in.

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