The Kaivarta Revolt of Bengal is one of the most famous revolt in the history of Bengal.
Vigrahapala III was succeeded by his son Mahipala II in 1070 A.D. The previous reign was flooded with foreign invasions. A process of disintegration was in the air. Thus from the very beginning Mahipala II was thrown into problems. Conspiracies and revolts became a continuous process in his reign which ultimately leads to his overthrow.
A contemporary work “Ramacharita” narrated the circumstances which lead to the fall of Mahipala. On a false report of alleged conspiracy Mahipala imprisoned his two brothers Surapala and Ramapala. This infuriated the vassal chiefs who immediately revolted against him. Without paying heed to the advice of his ministers and without any preparation whatsoever, Mahipala faced the revolted chief and consequently died in their hands. A high official of Mahipala II and a Kaivarta by caste, Divya now assumed the royal authority. He became the master of Varendra or Northern Bengal and for sometime established a new dynasty. This is known in history as the famous Kaivarta Revolt of Bengal.
The Kaivarta revolt has been characterized as a popular revolt. Mahipala was a tyrant and unscrupulous oppressor for whom a slight suspicion was enough to imprison people, even his own brothers. He was basically of war mongering nature and cared for no advice. The most oppressed people during his time of Mahipala were the Kaivartas and they found in Divya their liberator. Divya was neither a power loving nor a untrustworthy person of his master. But patriotic motive compelled him to kill Mahipala to liberate people from the hands of this tyrant. Divya, like Gopal was asked by the people to become the king.
However, it is often alleged that Divya cloaked his personal ambition by patriotic professions. The central government was very weak and Divya, like other feudal chiefs, seized the opportunity to establish his authority.
Thus the Kaivarta Revolt has caused a debate among the scholars and until further details are received about the nature of the uprising it is of little use to discuss it elaborately. But at the same time the episode reflected the condition of the then Bengal. As Mahipala II was headless of protecting truth and polity, the Pala rule in Bengal became very much unpopular. The feudatories were all virtually independent of the Central authority. There were always conspiracies and attempts of uprisings among these feudatories which practically made the Central authority very much unstable and weak.
Suspicion on the part of Mahipala was thus but a natural outcome of the situation. Being apprehensive of a revolt against him he imprisoned his brothers which filled the cup of his unpopularity. A general revolt of the feudatories as a natural consequence followed soon. Divya, the leader of the revolt found it easy to seize the power from the Palas which simply testified the latter’s weakness.
Kaivarta revolt is often described as the revolt against the oppression. It seems like Divya had the support of local people because they wanted to get rid of the ruling king. But it should be taken into serious account that Divya only exercised his authority over parts of northern India and the feudatories became particularly independent after Mahipala II.
Thus Bengal lost its political unity and soon became divided into petty political units. There was no good relation among the various chiefs who looked at each other with jealousy. In the subsequent days when the rule of Ramapala began we got a list of twelve feudatories who helped Ramapala against Bhima, the successor of Divya in exchange of lavish presentations and compensations. This proves that even after restoration to power, Ramapala had little control over these feudatories. Thus the political unity of the country was lost till it was regained by the Senas in the later quarter of the eleventh century.