Senas of Bengal
1070 CE–1230 CE
Coat of Arms of Sena dynasty during Laxmana Sena's reign Copperplate (left) and digitalised (right) of Sena dynasty
Coat of Arms of Sena dynasty during Laxmana Sena's reign
Copperplate (left) and digitalised (right)
Map of the Senas of Bengal.[1]
Map of the Senas of Bengal.[1]
CapitalGauda, Bikrampur, Nabadwip, Lakhnauti, Chandrabhoga Gadhi, Balirajgarh, Vijaynagar
Common languagesSanskrit, Bengali
Maharaja (King) 
• 1070–1095 CE
Samanta Sena
• 1095–1096 CE
Hemanta Sena
• 1096–1159 CE
Vijaya Sena
• 1159-1179 CE
Ballala Sena
• 1179-1204 CE
Lakshmana Sena
• 1204-1225 CE
Vishvarupa Sena
• 1225–1230 CE
Keshava Sena
Surya Sena[2]
Narayana Sena[2]
Laksmana Sena ।।[2]
Historical eraMiddle Kingdoms of India
• Established
1070 CE
• Disestablished
1230 CE
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Pala Empire
Varman Dynasty (Bengal)
Deva dynasty
Khalji dynasty of Bengal

The Sena dynasty was a Hindu dynasty during the early medieval period on the Indian subcontinent, that ruled from Bengal through the 11th and 12th centuries.[3] The empire at its peak covered much of the north-eastern region of the Indian subcontinent. The rulers of the Sena Dynasty traced their origin to the south Indian region of Karnataka.[4]

The dynasty's founder was Samanta Sena. After him came Hemanta Sena, who usurped power and styled himself king in 1095 AD. His successor Vijaya Sena (ruled from 1096 AD to 1159 AD) helped lay the foundations of the dynasty and had an unusually long reign of over 60 years. Ballala Sena conquered Gaur from the Pala, became the ruler of the Bengal Delta, and made Nadia the capital as well. Ballala Sena married Ramadevi a princess of the Western Chalukya Empire which indicates that the Sena rulers maintained close social contact with south India.[5] Lakshmana Sena succeeded Ballala Sena in 1179, ruled Bengal for approximately 20 years, and expanded the Sena dynasty to Odisha, Bihar and probably to Varanasi. In 1203–1204 AD, Bakhtiyar Khalji, a general under the Ghurid Empire, attacked and captured the capital City of Nadia. The detailed account of this invasion is given in Tabaqat-i-Nasiri.[6]


Deopara Prashasti described the founder of Sena dynasty Samanthasena, as a migrant Brahmaksatriya from Karnataka.[7] The epithet 'Brahma-Kshatriya' suggests that Senas were Brahmins by caste who took the profession of arms and became Kshatriyas.[8] The Sena kings were also probably Baidyas, according to historian P.N. Chopra.[9]

The Senas entered into the service of Palas as sāmantas in Rāḍha, probably under Samantasena.[10][11] With the decline of the Pālas, their territory had expanded to include Vaṅga and a part of Varendra by the end of Vijayasena's reign.[11] The Palas were ousted in totality, and their entire territory annexed sometime after 1165.[11]

Inscription of Keshava Sena

A copperplate was found in the Adilpur or Edilpur pargana of Faridpur District in 1838 A.D. and was acquired by the Asiatic Society of Bengal, but now the copperplate is missing from the collection. An account of the copperplate was published in the Dacca Review and Epigraphic Indica. The copperplate inscription is written in Sanskrit and in Ganda character, and dated 3rd jyaistha of 1136 samvat, or 1079 A.D. In the Asiatic Society's proceeding for January 1838, an account of the copperplate states that three villages were given to a Brahman in the third year of Keshava Sena. The grant was given with the landlord rights, which include the power of punishing the Chandrabhandas or Sundarbans, a tribe that lived in the forest.[12] The land was granted in the village of Leliya in the Kumaratalaka mandala, which is situated in shatata-padamavati-visaya. The copperplate of Keshava Sena records that the king Vallala Sena carried away, from the enemies, the goddesses of fortune on palanquins (Shivaka), which elephant tusk staff supported; and also states that Vallala Sena's son, Lakshmana Sena (1179–1205), erected pillars of victory and sacrificial posts at Varanasi, Allahabad, and Adon Coast of the South Sea. The copperplate also describes the villages with smooth fields growing excellent paddy, the dancing and music in ancient Bengal, and ladies adorned with blooming flowers. The Edilpur copperplate of Keshava Sena records that the king made a grant in favour of Nitipathaka Isvaradeva Sarman for the inside of the subha-varsha.


The Sena rulers consolidated the caste system in Bengal.[13]


The Sena dynasty is famous for building Hindu temples and monasteries, which include the renowned Dhakeshwari Temple in what is now Dhaka, Bangladesh.

In Kashmir, the dynasty also likely built a temple knows as Sankara Gaureshwara.[14]

A sculpture of the Hindu deity Vishnu from the Sena period.


In the political history of Bengal, Sena dynasty was a mighty ruling dynasty in power. Various currency names have been regularly mentioned in the Sena writings, such as Purana, Dharan, Dramma. These terms were used to mean a silver coin weighing 32 ratis (56.6 grains) or a karshapan weighing scale. The term Kapardaka Purana is seen as a medium of exchange in the writings of the Sena kings and other contemporary kings. Karpadak means cow; And 'Purana' is definitely a kind of silver coin. The conjunction ‘kapardaka-purana’ refers to a medium of exchange whose quality is equal to that of a purana or silver coin (56.6 grains), but which is actually calculated by the proportional denominator. The table found in the traditional arithmetic of Bengal contained 1260 cowries instead of one silver coin (Purana or Dramma). That is, the ratio of Purana and Kapardaka is 1: 1280. Reliable evidence of the widespread use of cowrie in early medieval Bengal has been found in excavations at Paharpur and Kalgang (Bihar near Bhagalpur). Early medieval Bengal saw the scarcity of precious coins and the widespread circulation of cowries. Scholars have long sought to explain the virtual limitations of coins at this time [15]


Downfall of Sena dynasty was destined under the rule of weak rulers of this dynasty. This dynasty started declining during the rule of Lakshmanasena who was the last significant Sena king. He was succeeded by his two sons Visvarupasena and Kesavasena.[18] Probably they ruled till at least 1230 A.D.[19] However it was learnt from Tabaqat-i-Nasiri that the descendants of Lakshmansena ruled in Bengal (Bang) till at least 1245 A.D. or 1260 A.D.[19]


See also: Sena-Gahadavala Conflicts

The Senas and their descendants merged into the Kayastha caste-group, heralding them as the neo-Kshatriyas of Bengal — hence, Abul Fazl would write that Bengal had always been ruled by Kayasthas.[20][21] The actual caste-status of Senas — notwithstanding the anachronism — remain contested in popular memory: premodern Baidya genealogies claim the Senas as their own which are agreed upon by some Brahmin genealogies but rejected by Kayastha ones.[22][23][24]


Main article: Senas of Makwanpur

In the 16th century, a dynasty emerged in the southern parts of Nepal near the border with Bihar which used the Sena surname and claimed descent from the Senas of Bengal. One of their branches formed the Sena dynasty of Makwanpur which ruled from the fort of Makwanpur Gadhi.[25] This branch of the Sena dynasty adopted the local language of the region, Maithili which became their state language.[26]

Family tree


Art of the Senas, 11th century.

The Sena rulers were also great patrons of literature. During the Pala dynasty and the Sena dynasty, major growth in Bengali was witnessed.[citation needed] Among the poets at the court of Lakshmana Sena were:

See also


  1. ^ Schwartzberg, Joseph E. (1978). A Historical Atlas of South Asia. Oxford University Press, Digital South Asia Library. p. 147, Map "f".
  2. ^ a b c Raj Kumar (2003). Essays on Medieval India. Discovery Publishing House. p. 340. ISBN 9788171416837.
  3. ^ For a map of their territory, see: Schwartzberg, Joseph E. (1978). A Historical atlas of South Asia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 147, map XIV.3 (f). ISBN 0226742210.
  4. ^ The History of the Bengali Language by Bijay Chandra Mazumdar, p. 50.
  5. ^ Land of Two Rivers: A History of Bengal from the Mahabharata to Mujib by Nitish K. Sengupta, p. 51.
  6. ^ MAJUMDAR 1971, p. 234,235.
  7. ^ Sen, Sailendra Nath (1999). Ancient Indian History and Civilization. New Age International. p. 287. ISBN 978-81-224-1198-0.
  8. ^ MAJUMDAR 1971, p. 220.
  9. ^ Chopra, Pran Nath (1982). Religions and Communities of India. East-West Publications. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-85692-081-3. The Sena kings were probably Baidyas. The evidence of inscriptions shows that a dynasty of Baidya kings ruled over at least a part of Bengal from 1010 AD to 1200 AD. The most famous of these kings is Ballal Sena
  10. ^ Sen, Sailendra (2013). A Textbook of Medieval Indian History. Primus Books. pp. 35–36. ISBN 978-9-38060-734-4.
  11. ^ a b c Furui, Ryosuke (2 July 2019). "6: Towards Brahmanical Systematisation: c. 1100–1250 AD". Land and Society in Early South Asia: Eastern India 400–1250 AD. Routledge. p. 188. ISBN 978-1-000-08480-1.
  12. ^ Hunter, William Wilson (1875), "A statistical account of Bengal, Volume 1", Google Books, Edinburgh: Murry and Gibbs, retrieved 3 October 2009
  13. ^ Siddiq 2015, p. 35.
  14. ^ Mitra, Rajendralala (1865). "On the Sena Rajas of Bengal". Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. 34 part 1 (3). Asiatic Society of Bengal: 141–142.
  15. ^ "Coins". Banglapedia.
  16. ^ Schwartzberg, Joseph E. (1978). A Historical atlas of South Asia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 37, 147. ISBN 0226742210.
  17. ^ Eaton, Richard M. (25 July 2019). India in the Persianate Age: 1000-1765. Penguin UK. p. 38. ISBN 978-0-14-196655-7.
  18. ^ MAJUMDAR 1971, p. 236.
  19. ^ a b MAJUMDAR 1971, p. 238.
  20. ^ Andre Wink (1991). Al-Hind, the Making of the Indo-Islamic World, Volume 1. Brill Academic Publishers. p. 269. ISBN 978-90-04-09509-0. Retrieved 3 September 2011.
  21. ^ Eaton, Richard Maxwell (1996). The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204–1760. University of California Press. pp. 102–103. ISBN 978-0-52020-507-9.
  22. ^ Chatterjee, Kumkum (1 October 2010). "Scribal elites in Sultanate and Mughal Bengal". The Indian Economic & Social History Review. 47 (4): 445–472. doi:10.1177/001946461004700402. ISSN 0019-4646. S2CID 143802267.
  23. ^ Chatterjee, Kumkum (1 September 2005). "Communities, Kings and Chronicles: The Kulagranthas of Bengal". Studies in History. 21 (2): 173–213. doi:10.1177/025764300502100203. ISSN 0257-6430. S2CID 144413665.
  24. ^ Sircar, Dineschandra (1971). Studies in the Religious Life of Ancient and Medieval India. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. ISBN 978-81-208-2790-5. It may be added that the Senas themselves came to be regarded as Vaidyas in the Vaidya Kula-pañjikās.
  25. ^ Basudevlal Dad (2014). "The Sena Dynasty: From Bengal to Nepal". Academic Voices. 4.
  26. ^ Das, Basudevlal (2013). "Maithili in Medieval Nepal: A Historical Apprisal". Academic Voices. 3: 1–3. doi:10.3126/av.v3i1.9704.
  27. ^ MAJUMDAR 1971, p. 357.


  • Early History of India 3rd and revised edition by Vincent A Smith
  • Siddiq, Mohammad Yusuf (2015), Epigraphy and Islamic Culture:Inscriptions of the Early Muslim Rulers of Bengal (1205–1494), Routledge Contemporary South Asia Series
Preceded byPala dynasty Bengal dynasty Succeeded byDeva dynastyKhalji dynasty