Anantavarman was a Maukhari King. The Maukharis were an old family as we find references to them in Patanjali's work and in other early documents.
The Maukharis must have started gaining political power towards the end of 5th century A.D. as the Harsha inscription of 554 A.D. mentions the rise of Yajnavarman from Gaya during this period We also get the names of three Maukhari kings mentioned in the Barabar and Nagarjuni inscriptions who ruled in Gaya, about 150 years earlier then their successors at Kanauj.
The first three Maukhari kings are:
Some of these kings held simply the title of Samanta which indicates that they were acting as kings under the over-lordship of the Guptas.
- Ôm! He, Anantavarman, who was the excellent son, captivating the hearts of mankind, of the illustrious Shârdûla, (and) who, possessed of very great virtues, adorned by his own (high) birth the family of the Maukhari kings,-he, of unsullied fame, with joy caused to be made, as if it were his own fame represented in bodily form in the world, this beautiful image, placed in (this) cave of the mountain Pravaragiri, of (the god) Krishna.
- (Line 3.)-The illustrious Shârdûla, of firmly established fame, the best among chieftains, became the ruler of the earth;-he who was a very Death to hostile kings; who was a tree, the fruits of which were the (fulfilled) wishes of (his) favourites; who was the torch of the family of the warrior caste, that is glorious through waging many battles; (and) who, charming the thoughts of lovely women, resembled (the god) Smara.
- (L. 5.)-On whatsoever enemy the illustrious king Shârdûla casts in anger his scowling eye, the expanded and tremulous and clear and beloved pupil of which is red at the corners between the up-lifted brows,-on him there falls the death-dealing arrow, discharged from the bowstrings drawn up to (his) ear, of his son, the giver of endless pleasure, who has the name of Anantavarman.
- From: Fleet, John F. Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum: Inscriptions of the Early Guptas. Vol. III. Calcutta: Government of India, Central Publications Branch, 1888, 223.
Nagarjuni Hill Cave Inscription of Anantavarman (I)
- Ôm ! There was a glorious king, the illustrious Yajñavarman,-who, as if he were Anu, instructed all rulers of the earth in the duty of those who belong to the warrior caste;-whose gait was like the play of a rutting elephant;-(and) through whose sacrifices (the goddess) Paulômî, always emaciated by separation from (the god Indra) who has a thousand eyes, invoked (by this king so constantly as to be perpetually absent from her), has had the beauty of (her) cheeks for a long time sullied by the falling of tears.
- (Line 3.)-He, the son of the illustrious king Shârdûla, who has the name of Anantavarman; who is reputed in the world to be benevolent to others, (and) to be possessed of fortune and manliness, (and) to be full of virtues that are as spotless as the rays of the moon,-by him was caused to be made this wondrous image, placed in (this) cave, of (the god) Bhûtapati and (the goddess) Dêvî, which is possessed of excellencies (of workmanship) some of them (previously) beheld (in other images) but others not so; (and) which confers boons upon the maker (of it). May it protect the world!
- (L. 5.)-Having the surface of the full-moon that is (his) face made grey through being scattered over with spots that are (his) frowns displayed at the ends of the bent arc, glistening with (its) string pulled tight and fitted with an arrow, of the bow drawn up to the extremities of (his) shoulders, Anantavarman, whose body is like (that of) (the god) Smara,-having stood, gazed upon for a very long time by the does, indifferent to life, whose moist and tender eyes omit to blink (through the intentness with which they regard him);-(lives only) for (the purpose of dealing out) death. The far-reaching (and) powerful arrow, scattering the elephants and driving horses wild with fear, of him who has the name of Ananta, impelled with speed (and) skilfully discharged from the machine of (his) bow, fitted with a well-stretched string, that is drawn very tight (and) rivals the screams of an osprey (with the noise of its twanging),-teaches to the wives of (his) enemies the condition of the sorrows (of widowhood).
- From: Fleet, John F. Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum: Inscriptions of the Early Guptas. Vol. III. Calcutta: Government of India, Central Publications Branch, 1888, 225-226.
Nagarjuni Hill Cave Inscription of Anantavarman (II)
Ôm! May the foot of (the goddess) Dêvî, fringed with the rays of (its) pure nails, point out the way to fortune, endowing with a (suitable) reward your state of supplication which is such as befits the expression of firm devotion;-(that foot) which, surpassing in radiance all the beauty of a full-blown waterlily, was disdainfully placed, with its tinkling anklet, on the head of the demon Mahishâsura !
- (Line 3.)-There was a king, the illustrious Yajñavarman, possessed of greatness by celebrating copious sacrifices; renowned; possessed of, fame as pure as the spotless moon; the abode of (all) the dignity of one of the warrior caste;-who, though he was the foremost of all kings in respect of wisdom, (high) descent, liberality, and prowess, yet, through modesty, was (like) an ocean which adheres to the natural state (of tranquillity), (and) the calmness of which is never to be disturbed.
- (L. 5.)-His son (was) the king Shârdûlavarman, who stretched out over the faces of the points of the compass, (as) an emblem of sovereignty, the renown that he had acquired in the occupation of war resembling (in its extensiveness) the great swollen ocean; who conquered (the stains of) this present age with (his) fame; who was illustrious; (and) who acquired, as it were, the glory of the kalpa-tree, by satisfying with rewards the wishes of (his) relatives and friends.
- (L. 7.)-Of him, who was always possessed of infinite fame and renown, the son (is) he, pure of soul, (and) possessed of intellect animated with innate piety, who is known by the appellation of Varman commencing with Ananta;-by whom, desiring a shrine of religious merit that should endure as long as the sun, the earth, the moon, and the stars, this (image of) (the goddess) Kâtyâyanî has been placed in (this) wonderful cave of the Vindhya mountains.
- (L. 9.)-He has given to (the goddess) Bhavânî, to be enjoyed up to the time of the destruction of all things, the charming village of . . . . . . . . , possessed of a great wealth of enjoyment,-the sin, impurity, mud, and blemishes of which are washed away by the pure waters of a great river;-which is filled with perfume by the breezes that agitate the priyamgu and vakula-trees in (its) groves;-(and) from which the radiance of the sun is screened off by (this) lofty mountain.
- From: Fleet, John F. Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum: Inscriptions of the Early Guptas. Vol. III. Calcutta: Government of India, Central Publications Branch, 1888, 227-228.