For the mathematician, see Gopala (mathematician). For the protectors of cows, see Gopal (Krishna).
Pala Emperor, King of Bengal, Lord of Gauḍa and Lord of Vanga
Reign 750–770 CE
Predecessor Vacant
Successor Dharmapala
House Pala Dynasty
Father Vapyata
Religion Buddhism

Gopala (Bengali: গোপাল Gôpal) (ruled 750–770 CE) was the founder of the Pala Dynasty of medieval Bengal. The last morpheme of his name Pala means "protector" and was used as an ending for the names of all the Pala monarchs. Pala does not suggest or indicate any ethnic or caste considerations of the Pala dynasty. He came to power in 750 CE in Gaur by the first democratic election in South Asia.

Democratic election

Gopala was the first independent Buddhist king of Bengal and came to power in 750 CE in Gaur by the first democratic election in South Asia as per evidence furnished by Taranatha.[1] After the death of the Gauda king Shashanka, a century of anarchy and confusion ensued in Bengal. In 750 CE the various independent chieftains of Bengal, tired by the ceaseless political chaos and anarchy (known as matsyanyaya), selected a person named Gopala to put an end to this sorry state of affairs.[2] Gopala was already a leading military general and had made a mark as a great ruler. In the Khalimpur copper plate inscription (dated to the 32nd regnal year of Dharmapala) Gopala's father Vapyata is described as a noted military chief of his time and his grandfather Dayita Vishnu is described as a learned man of no military distinctions.

Reign of Gopala

Not much is known about the life or military career of king Gopala but at the time of his death, Gopala had bequeathed a legacy which facilitated the creation of a great dynasty of the future by his son Dharmapala. He is believed to have consolidated his hold on the whole of Bengal. The period of his reign is not precisely known but is believed to have spanned from 750 CE through to 770 CE. It was his son and successor Dharmapala (770-810 CE) who set the Pala dynasty on the path to becoming one of the pre-dominant power of India.

Religious leanings

Taranatha, a Tibetan historian, attests that Gopala was a staunch Buddhist and had built famous Buddhist monastery at Odantapuri[3] as well as being a major patron of Buddhism.

Lineage of Gopala

The ethnicity of Gopala or his caste is not clearly stated in any of the numerous Pala records. The name of his father was Vapyata (meaning "destroyer of adversaries"), and his grandfather Dayitavishnu (meaning "bright with all learning")[4] The Khalimpur Plate of Dharmapala, son of Gopala I, confirms that Gopala was a son of a warrior (Khanditarat) Vapyata and grandson of a highly educated (Saryavidyavadat) Dayitavishnu[5][6]

The Ramacharita by Sandhyakar Nandi, a court poet of later Palas, states that the Pala dynasty belonged to Samudrakula or Ocean lineage. Ramacharita further states that Varendra or North Bengal was the fatherland (Janakabhu) of the Palas.[7]

Caste of Gopala

Main article: Pala Empire § Caste


Gopala had ruled for roughly 20 years, unifying Bengal, and was succeeded by his son who vanquished the Pratiharas before successfully subjugating the kingdoms of Northern India and assuming imperial titles.

See also



  • Majumdar R.C. and A.D. Pusalkar. History and Culture of Indian People, Vol. IV: The Age of Imperial Kanauj, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay, 1964.
  • Ramacharita by Sandhyakar Nandi
  • Epigraphia Indica, XVIII
  • Epigraphia Indica, II
  • Indian Antiquary, XV
Preceded by
Gupta Empire
Pala Emperor
750–770 CE
Succeeded by
de:Pala (Dynastie)

hi:गोपाल (पाल) ja:パーラ朝

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