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The Chalukyas of Badami


From the 6th to the 8th century AD the Chalukyas were the dominant power in the Deccan.The Chalukya inscriptions provide valuable material for the reconstruction of a continuous history of the Deccan together with its contact with South India for about 200 years. Chalukya power had its rise in the west with its capital at Vatapi.It established a kingdom corresponding to the modern Bombay state with some additions to the south and east but without Kathiawad and Gujarat. The Chalukyas of Badami claimed to be Haripuras. They contended that they belonged to the Manavya gotra. They ruled from the middle of the 6th century to the middle of the 8th century AD when they were supplanted by the Rashtrakutas. The later western Chalukyas of Kalyani overthrew the Rashtrakutas in the second half of the 10th century and continued to rule till the end of the 12th century. An offshoot of the western Chalukyas known as the eastern Chalukyas established its power at Vengi from the 7th century to 12th century.
Religion of Chalukyas
The Chalukyas were the followers of Brahmanical religion but they also followed a policy of religious tolerance. During their reign Jainism prospered in the Deccan. Many Chalukyan kings granted villages to well known Jain scholars. There is no information regarding Buddhism. As regards Brahmanism there arrived the Bhagvata and Pashupati cults the cults of devotion to Vishnu and Shiva respectively. Superb structures were set up at Vatapi and Pattadakal in the honor of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. The sacrificial form of worship was composed. Of the Shaivite saints the most popular were Appar, Sambandar, Manikkavasagar and Sundarar.The hymns dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu have been preserved in two separate collections the Tirumurari and the Nalyira Prabandham.
The Jainism and Buddhism gradually gave way to a new form of religious worship the devotional cults of the Tamil saints which later came to be called the Bhakti movement. The devotional aspect was formulated in a relationship between god and man based on love. Tamil devotionalism achieved a great wave of popularity in the 6th and 7th centauries AD and continued in the hymns and sermons of the Nayanars and the Alvars.
Chalukyan Language
Sanskrit was the recognized medium in these mathas and was also the official language at the court. Two outstanding Sanskirt works of this age are Bharavi’s Kiratarjunia and Dandin’s Dashakumarcharita.Apart from the university at Kanchi which acquired fame equal to that of Nalanda there were a number of other Sanskrit colleges. Apart from Sanskrit various regional languages also prospered –Tamil in the far south and Kannada in the Deccan.References are made to the existence of considerable literature in Kannada at this time but little has survived.

A 7th century inscriptions of a Chalukyan king at Badami mentions Kannada as the local Prakrit or natural language and Sanskrit as the language of culture which summarizes relationship between two languages.
Art and Architecture
Art made great progress under the patronage of Chalukya kings. A new style of architecture known as the Chalukya style which was different from the Gupta style was developed during this period. Aihole represents the best of Chalukyan architecture and thus has rightly called the cradle of Indian temple architecture. The three famous temples at Aihole are Ladh Khan Temple, Durga temple and Hucchimalligudi temple. The Ladh temple is a flat roofed structure. The Durga temple was an experiment seeking to adopt the Buddhist chaitya to a Brahmanical temple. The Hucchimalligudi temple is very much similar to the Durga temple but smaller than it. The movement of rock-cut halls was initiated during the 7th century AD. There are as many as 10 temples at Pattadakal belonging to this period.
There are four temples in the northern style and six of them follow the Dravidian style. Among them the temple of Virupaksha is the most important one. It is a direct initiation of the Kailashnatha temple of Kanchi and was built by one of the queens of Vikramaditya II. Another important achievement of the Chalukyan art was the building of excavated cave temples of Hindu gods. The Melagiti Sivalaya at Badami is a small but finely proportioned and magnificently located temple. 

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The Cheras


The Cheras of Kerala was also an ancient state of the southern India. It comprised the territories of modern Travancore state,Cochin and some portions of Malabar.Perunar,Adon II and Senaguttavam were great rulers of the line. In the beginning of the Christian era there rules were significant. They successfully fought against the Cholas and the Pandyas.They came into prominence in 10th century. In fact they remained under the supremacy of the Cholas.

They also had to submit to the Pandyas.However the last powerful Chera ruler was Ravivardhan Kulasekra who ascended the throne in about 1297 AD and tried to salvage the waning glory of the dynasty.

The Hoysalas



The Hoyalas of Mysore were descended from a general of the Chalukya king, Vikramaditya.The founder of the dynasty were Biltga better known as Vishnu Vardhana. He reigned for more than 30 years in subordination to the Chalukya king and died in 1141 AD. To begin with he was a Jain but was converted to Vaishnavism by saint Ramanuja. He patronized architecture and sculpture. He extended his domination against Cheras, Cholas and Pandhyas.He finally drove out the Cholas from the Mysore Plateau. His grandson Vira Ballala extended the dominion to Devagiri. He formally declared his independence of Chalukyas in about 1190 AD. He made Hoysalas the supreme power in the Deccan towards the close of the 12th century.
The power of the dynasty was overthrown by Alauddin’s general Malik Kafur who sacked the Hoysala capital Dwarasamudra in 1310 AD. The Hoysalas developed a new style of architecture different from that of the Chalukyas.The temples were polygonal star-shaped in plan having rich carved plinths. The towers of the temples were pyramidal in shape and were often attached together. The Hoysala buildings were generally ornamented with an enormous mass of sculpture and statues of very good quality.

The Rashtrakutas



The origin of the Rashtrakutas is not clear. The scholars hold divergent opinion and advance various theories in support of their claims. According to one scholar Rashtrakutas belonged to the dynasty of the Rathors while the other says that they were the ancestors of the Marathas. Dantidurga was the founder of the Rashtrakutas kingdom. He annexed Gujarat and many districts of the Central and Northern Madhya Pradesh. He was succeeded by his uncle Krishna. He completed the overthrow of the Chalukya power and expanded the limit of the empire by conquest. He constructed the Siva temple of Ellora.He was succeeded by his eldest son Govinda II.He took up the title of Prabhutavarsha Vikramavaloka.He was dethroned by his younger brother Druva.
He was the first Rashtrakuta ruler to intervene in the tripartite struggle being wagged for the supremacy of north India. He defeated both the Pratihara ruler Vatsaraja after occupying Malwa and Dharmpala the Pala ruler.Dhruva was succeeded by Govinda III and he continued to rule till 814 AD. He was succeeded by his son Amoghavarsha.He took up the title of Nripatunga.He ruled for 64 years with a few revolts here and there. He authored a book on ethics, titled Kavirajmarga.He was a great builder and is said to have made the famous city Manyakheta. The Rashtrakuta rulers made extensive conquests. They not only brought the entire south under their control but also penetrated deep into the territories of the north.

The Pratiharas



The Pratiharas were a section of the large tribe called Gurjara who immigrated into India. Probably they are also called Gurjara-Prathiharas.The earliest well-known king of this dynasty was Nagabhatta I who was responsible for saving western India from the Arabs. He was succeeded by his son Vatsaraja in about 778AD .He included Jodhpur in his kingdom. His empire comprised Malwa and eastern Rajputana.Inscriptions tell us that he ruled over Central Rajputana also and gradually extended his domination over north. He suffered defeat at the hands of Rashtrakuta king Dhruva.He was succeeded by his son Nagabhatta II .
He was defeated by Govinda III of Rashtrakuta. The Pratihara glory reached its zenith under Mihir Bhoja or Bhoja.He consolidated his power. But he was defeated by the Pala ruler Devapala. He then turned towards Central India and the Deccan and Gujarat. The Pratihara Empire was the last empire in North India before the Muslim conquest. It brought political unity in Northern India. They were later represented by local kings in different areas.

The Palas

The Palas controlled most of Bengal and Bihar. Little is known of the early Palas until the reign of Gopala in the 8th century.Gopala attained renown from the fact that he was not the hereditary king but was elected.Gopala established the Pala dynasty but it was his son Dharmpala who made it a force in north Indian politics. He ruled for 40 years and assumed imperial titles like Paramesvara-Paramabhataraka-Maharadhiraja and the Buddhist title Parama Saugata.He led a successful campaign against Kanauj. He was also a patron of learning and culture. As a Buddhist he founded the famous monastery of Vikramsila on the River Ganges near Bhagalpur.He was succeeded by his second son Devapala who is regarded as the most powerful Pala ruler. He not only maintained the territories inherited by him from his father but also added to them. Epigraphic records credit him with extensive conquests.

The Badal Pillar inscription states that he humbled the pride of Gurjara king the Rashtrakutas of the Deccan, the Huns and also the region of Utkala.Devpala was a great patron of Buddhism. He was succeeded by the weak rulers. It was under Mahapala that the Pala power was once again revived. Mahipala had domination which included Gaya,Patna and Muzzaffarpur.After his death the Pala power declined under his successors on account of internal dissentions and external invasions. The feudatory chiefs began to assert their independence. The authority of Palas was confined to only a portion of Bihar. The Palas were great patrons of art and literature. The Palas had close trade contacts and cultural links with South-East Asia which added greatly to the prosperity of the Pala Empire.

The Pallavas


The origin of the Pallavas has been much debated but unfortunately no unanimity of opinion has been arrived at. A critical study of the ancient Tamil literature shows that the Pallavas were originally connected with Ceylon. The term Pallava means creeper and is a Sanskrit version of the Tamil word Tondai which also carries the same meaning. The Pallavas were possibly a local tribe who established their authority in the Tondainadu. The Satvahanas conquered Tondamandalam and Pallavas became a feudatory to the Satvahanas. After the collapse of Satvahana Empire in about 122 AD the Pallavas became independent. The Pallavas rose to prominence about AD 325 on the east coast in the country between the mouth of the Krishna and Godavari Rivers. About 350 AD the Pallavas established themselves on the east coast and occupied the famous city of Kanchi. There was lot of literary activity during the period. Sanskrit was the official languages of the Pallavas.
Most of the inscriptions of the Pallavas were written in Sanskrit and Kanchi was the seat of Sanskrit learning in the south.Dandi was the court poet of Narshimha Varman II.During the Pallava rule the Jain and Buddhist teachers lost their importance.Shaivism and Vaishnavism gained importance. Most of the Pallava kings were devotees of Shiva, the exception being Simhavishnu and Nandivarman who were worshippers of Vishnu. The art and architecture of the Pallava dynasty constitutes a most brilliant chapter in the history of the South Indian Art. The rock-cut temples were unique specimen of the time. The Kailashnath temple bears eloquent testimony of the unprecedented progress of art and architecture. Paintings also developed considerably during the Pallava period. 

Cholas


Chola Government

The Chola kings ruled their kingdom with the help of a council of ministers and of officers who were in charge of various branches of administration. Local self-govt was a remarkable feature of Chola administration. The village was the basic unit of administration.Chola officials participated more as advisors and observers. The villages had a village assembly or council known as the Ur or Sabha.Villagers who owned land or belonged to the upper castes were chosen by lot to the councils.
The council was often divided into a number of small committees and each committee would look after an aspect of the village administration. The revenue of the Chola kingdom came from two sources-taxes on land and taxes on trade. Land tax was generally assessed at one –third of the produce. The actual collection of revenue was done by the village assembly. The intermediary or sometimes a govt officer collected the taxes and passed on the govt’ share. Often a part of revenue was assigned to a temple.
Chola Trade -
Commerce flourished under the Cholas. Trade was carried on with West Asia and China and South-east Asia. Trade with China reached unprecedented volume during these centuries. Foreign trade provided an additional incentive to an already developing local market.

Controlled by merchant guilds the high volume of trade led to the rapid growth of towns from the 11th century onwards. There was also a marked increase in the number of Chola coins that were minted as compared to those of earlier dynasties in this region.
Social and cultural life
The society was divided into Brahmans and non-Brahmans. Among the non-Brahmans there is as compared to north India, little mention of Kshatriyas and Vaishyas but the Shudras are prominent.
The temple was the cultural and social centre. The village and towns all had temples where people used to gather not only for worship but also to discuss various things of common interest. The courtyard of the temple was often used as a school.
During this period several regional languages branched off from Sanskrit throughout the peninsula. Marathi evolved from the local Prakrit, while Tamil, Telugu and Kannada stemmed from a Dravidian root but had a vocabulary which owed much to Sanskrit. The first writing in these languages was largely adaptations from Sanskrit works. Saints also composed hymns in popular languages.
Tamil literature of this period shows great liveliness and vigor as in Kamban’s version of the Ramayan or the works of the court poets Kuttan,Pugalendi,Jayangondour and Kallaadanar.
A number of popular religious movements flourished in the Tamil area. Some of them were continuing the teaching of the Alvars and Nayanars.Others like the Lingayats in the 12 century preached devotion to a theistic God and actively attacked religious hypocrisy. They questioned the authority of the Vedas and the theory of re-birth. Shiva was worshipped in the form of a lingam or phallic emblem.
In the 11th century, Ramanuja disagreed with Shankara’s theory that knowledge was the primary means of salvation. He insisted on pure devotion, giving oneself up entirely to God. He also pleaded for the throwing open of temples to Shudras but without much success.

Art and Architecture
Under the Cholas the Dravida style of temple architecture exclusive to the south, attained its most magnificent form. The main feature of this style was the building of between five to seven storeys above the chief deity room. A large elaborately carved pillared hall with flat roof was placed in front of the Sanctum. This mandap acted as an audience hall and a place for various other ceremonies. Sometimes a passage was added around the sanctum for devotees to walk around it where images of many other Gods were placed. The entire structure was enclosed by high walls with very lofty gateways called gopurams.The Brihadiswara temple at Tanjore built by Rajendra I is an example of the Dravida style. Another is the Gangaikonda Cholapuram temple.
Temple building activity continued even after the fall of the Cholas. The Hoysalesvara temple at Halebid is the most magnificent example of the Chalukyan style. The temple contained finely sculptured panels which show a busy panorama of life. The ground plan was not rectangular but was star shaped or polygonal within which was accommodated the temple built on a raised platform. The giant statue of Gomteswar at Shravana Belagola is a fine example of the standards attained in sculpture in this period.Chola craftsmen excelled in making bronze figurines. The Nataraja, the dancing figure of Shiva is considered a masterpiece.

The Rise of Cholas


Territorial Expansion
The Cholas had ruled as chieftains in Tamilnadu since the first century A.D.towards the middle of the 9th century, Vijayalaya (846-871) conquered Tanjore and declared himself the ruler of an independent state. Even more important was Parantaka I (907-955) who conquered the land of the Pandyas but suffered defeat at the hands of a Rashtrakuta King.Chola power became solidly established in the reign of Rajaraja I (985-1014) and his son and successor Rajindra I (1014-1044).
Rajaraja‘s policy of annexation was influenced by the consideration of trade. He began by attacking the alliance between Kerala, Ceylon and the Pandayas in order to break their monopoly of western trade. The Pandyas had already been subjugated. The Arab traders were well settled on the west coast and enjoyed the support of the Cheras.To eliminate Arab competition in trade particularly in South-east Asia he tried to bring Malabar under his control.
He later led a naval expedition against the Maldive islands which had assumed importance in the Arab trade. The Cholas although unable to strike directly at the Arab trade caused havoc in Ceylon with a devastating campaign when the existing capital Anuradhapura was destroyed and the Cholas moved the capital to Pollonnarua.The conflict over the rich province Vengi resumed between the Cholas and the later Chalukyas.
The annexationist ambitions of Rajendra I turned northwards as far as Ganges Valley. He marched up to the east coast of India through Orissa and up the river Ganga.There he threatened the Pala king ruling in Bengal before returning to the south. Even more daring was Rajendra’s overseas campaign against the kingdom of Shri Vijaya on order to protect Indian commercial interests in south-east Asia and southern China. The campaign was successful and for a while Indian ships and goods passed without interference through Shri Vijaya territory. This permitted a steady improvement in the commerce of south India and better communications with the Chinese to whom Kulottunga (1070-1118) sent an embassy of 72 merchants in 1077.
The successors of Rajendra I turned their attention to conflicts within the peninsula and the struggle with the later Chalukayas for the province of Vengi was revived. The old enemies of the far south the Pandyas, Kerala and Ceylon remained at war.
The Chola Kingdom had exhausted its resources and was on the decline in the 13th century when it succumbed to an attack by the Hoysalas from the west and the Pandyas from the south. The new kingdoms were to last till the Turkish sultans overthrew the existing dynasties in the Deccan in the 14th century. 

Maths in Ancient India


The Ancient Indians with their superior cultural attainments, high intellectual curiosity and passion for logical and analytical thinking showed greater interest in Mathematics. The ten Indian numerals and the zero sigh affected a revolution in the study of arithmetic. They liberated the human mind from the cumbersome method of counting adopted by the Romans and unfolded the magic of numbers. Geometry was familiar to the Ancient Indians because geometrical figures were used for making figures for Vedic altars. But it was really in the field of arithmetic and algebra that India left the others far behind. The discovery of the zero symbols is referred to in a scriptural book dated 200 BC.
The discovery of the zero has been hailed by eminent mathematicians as the outstanding single mathematical creation that has had effect on the general on-go of intelligence and power. These were not freak discoveries but answered to some insistent demand of society. There were many problems connected with trade, taxation, exchange, calculation of the fineness of gold etc which called for sound knowledge of mathematical calculations.
From the fifth to twelfth century AD we find numerous books by eminent mathematicians. The earliest book available on astronomy is by the famous Aryabharata.The other famous names are Bhaskara I,Brahmagupta and Bhaskara II. Bhaskara II wrote a treatise on arithmetic and called it Lilavati. In the 8th century a number of Indian scholars went to Baghdad taking with them books on astronomy and mathematics. Aryabhata’s books were translated into Arabic. Baghdad was then a centre of great learning. Indian mathematics in Arabic translations found its way throughout the Moslem world from Central Asia to Spain from there to all over Europe.

Caste System in Ancient India


Caste meaning Varna or color to the Aryans was the logical distinction between the conquerors (Aryans) and the conquered (Dasas and Panis). It is a Portuguese word meaning clan. It was in about 1,000 B.C. that the Aryans settled between the Indus and Gangetic regions; it was here that they learnt the art of cultivation. With the coming of agriculture, greater division of labor came into existence and thereby different occupations.
Once the Aryans settled as agriculturists and experienced the consequential developments mentioned above, the Aryan society also developed into grouping known as the four-fold caste system. Those who took to the occupation of fighting were known as Kshatriyas; those who took to cultivation were known as Sudra; and as there was an opportunity to contemplate because of the leisure engendered by agricultural occupation, the priestly community elevated themselves to the status of Brahmins. Significantly, as the Aryans began to cultivate land, the earlier word “gavasthi” meaning search for cows came to mean ‘to fight’, because fights between the various tribes of Aryans for fertile land and herds of cattle were common.
Soon, by 600 B.C. a new grouping emerged in the Aryan community, whenever a community takes to agriculture, some agriculturists produce surpluses or accumulate capital. Such an activity naturally brings to the forefront a group of people dealing with trade and commerce. That is how vaishyas came into existence, since the emergence of this community is rooted in the surpluses generated by agriculture, the erstwhile Sudra community moved up to form this new grouping, while the non-Aryans and mixed-Aryan became Sudras. About this time the concept of pollution also figured. As a matter of fact, there are references to this idea in the Vedas too. It is definite that pollution was a known idea at this time because those who undertook unclean occupations like cleaning of carcasses, fishing and other occupations came into existence. It was this aspect of unclean occupations associated with pollution that later on grew into untouchability.
From sixth century B.C. onwards there is historical evidence to show that the Sudras were primarily drawn from non-Aryans and mixed-Aryans, as for example, Ashoka enslaving one and-half lakh people after the Kalinga war and bringing them to the Gangetic region to cut forests and cultivate land. The four-fold caste division based on occupations was as good as established by the time the Mauryan Empire was established. There are references in the inscriptions of Ashoka that bird-catchers, fishermen and butchers came to be treated as people beyond the pale of the then social structure.
The Aryans, in particular the brahminical community brought about another coup de grace in the four centuries preceding the Christian era. Panini rejuvenated Sanskrit language. Sanskrit language not only retained its identity but also language, as disciplined by Panini, forge ahead at the expense of Prakrit and Pali which had ironically earlier develop out of Sanskrit language. Coupled with this linguistic victory Brahmins wrote a number of dharma shastras including that of Manu. The Work of Manu is of a colossal magnitude. It relates both to secular and sacerdotal fields of life. They also supplemented these with grihya dharma. Raja dharma, sreni-darma, ashrama-darma, silpi-shastra and so on. The purpose of all these writing was to regulate and discipline the whole life of man, whatever his calling or situation in life.
Also, in the same period, there were many more developments. With the influx of foreigners, a place was to be found for all of them. To achieve the objective the priestly order of India evolved the concept of jati-dharma, it is the dharma to be followed by each sub-caste or grouping within the four Walls of caste system. From now onwards, the four-fold division lost its usefulness and increasingly became a metaphysical concept like the space-time continuum of Einstein. The real sacred lay in the jati-dharma or the dharma of the sub-caste; while the concept of chatur-varna stayed as an abstraction. What exactly any individual belonging to a jati a or a sub-group should do was minutely laid down covering all facets of life, like taboos relating to dinning, the items of consumption, the pantheon of gods to be worshiped, contraction of marriage, and the reverence to be shown to other jatis as well as the substraction of four-fold caste system as ad when the occasion called for. Since every individual was born into a jati and as the dharma of jati comes to be treated as an immutable truth, each individual was born in some kind of subjection.
Just at this time, a few more concepts were thrown into make the subjugation of man complete. The non-Aryan concept of karma or re-birth was smuggled into a configuration of dharmas, sutras and other concepts. By this time, the idea of the outcaste mentioned earlier was very well institutionalized. The observations of Fahien in the fifth century A.D. clearly show that untouchability was institutionalized beyond redemption. This enslavement of man, which partly originated out of need and which was later given a subtle religious sanction, continues even till today.
The retaining the identity of Aryan community, while absorbing quite a large number of extraneous concepts, practices and peoples into the Aryan faith, was facilitated by the Aryan concepts of religion which underwent mutational changes. The metaphysical concept of God are found in the Upanishads was interpreted in the form of Puranic stories and a vast hierarchy of gods. Soon enough the Aryans added a constellation of goddesses to support the male pantheon. Far more important was bringing down all these god and goddesses to the each in the form of images. Even the rituals were transmitted into stylized recitations of Sanskrit phraseology and some slokas faintly reminding one of the hymns of the Vedas.
Aryanism became intelligible and simple enough to the ordinary people. This development meant dislodging Buddhism because the strong point of Buddhism in its youthful days was its simplicity and intelligibility to the ordinary man Since Aryanism achieved the supreme feat of dislodging all that was not acceptable to the common people and as it was able to evolve dharma, it emerged as the sole driving force of India by the third century A.D. That is why from the post-Mauryan era onwards, founders of dynasties were very often Brahmins, royal titles were Sanskritized, and kings performed Vedic rituals. This triumph of Aryanism along with the attendant superiority of Brahmins continued in the succeeding ages with slight modifications.

Education in Ancient India


In Ancient India, literary education was generally the monopoly of the upper castes, although in some regions like South India low castes also had access to it. Vedic learning was everywhere confined to the Savarnas; and even among Brahmins, only a section had the right to study the Vadas and priesthood. Other castes were debarred form all higher studies by religious verdicts enforced by the Hindu State.
The Brahmins studied in special seminar started for the purpose, such as Tols, Vidyalysis and Chatuspathis. The medium of instruction was Sanskrit. The sacred language of the Hindus, by which only all religious and higher secular knowledge was expressed. For the common people, there were, in every village and town, vernacular schools which taught mainly reading, writing and rudiments of arithmetic. These schools also imparted religious instructions to the pupils. These schools were generally taken advantage of by the sons of traders; women, the lower castes and agriculturists hardly received any education. Thus education among Hindus, in Ancient India, was extremely restricted and for all, except the Brahmins, very poor in content. The Brahmins enjoyed monopoly of all higher education. Although education was the monopoly of upper castes, certain literary professions such as medicine (ayurveda) and astrology were also open to castes other than Brahmins.
The trading castes learnt accounting and book-keeping. While in the courts of kings there were persons who had specialized in the art of writing and the keeping records, in villages there were accountants who maintained land registers and revenue records. Further, this education, as part of the entire culture of Hindu society controlled and administrated by Brahmins was means of training the pupils in accepting the existing caste structure of Hindu society, believing in the infallibility of the Vedas, and of Brahmins, in interpreting these Vedas. It also taught the pupils the virtue of unconditional allegiance to elders, to parents, to teachers and to the king. In fact, education was a means of making the individual accept and conform to hierarchic structure of society and completely subordinating his individuality to it.

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