HARSHA (c. 590–647 CE), also known as HARSHAVARDHANA, was an Indian
emperor who ruled
North India from 606 to 647 CE. He was a member of
Pushyabhuti dynasty ; and was the son of
defeated the Alchon Huna invaders, and the younger brother of
Rajyavardhana , a king of
Thanesar , present-day Haryana. At the
height of Harsha's power, his Empire covered much of North and
Northwestern India, extended East till
Kamarupa , and South until
Narmada River ; and eventually made
Kannauj (in present Uttar Pradesh
state) his capital, and ruled till 647 CE.
Harsha was defeated by the
south Indian Emperor
Pulakeshin II of the
Chalukya dynasty when Harsha
tried to expand his Empire into the southern peninsula of India.
The peace and prosperity that prevailed made his court a centre of
cosmopolitanism, attracting scholars, artists and religious visitors
from far and wide. During this time,
Harsha converted to Buddhism
Surya worship. The Chinese traveller
Xuanzang visited the court
Harsha and wrote a very favourable account of him, praising his
justice and generosity. His biography
Harshacharita ("Deeds of
Harsha") written by Sanskrit poet
Banabhatta , describes his
association with Thanesar, besides mentioning the defence wall, a moat
and the palace with a two-storied Dhavalagriha (white mansion).
* 1 Origins
* 2 Ascension
* 3 Reign
* 4 Author
* 5 See also
* 6 References
* 7 Further reading
Palace ruins at "Harsh ka tila" mound area spread over 1 km
After the downfall of the
Gupta Empire in the middle of the 6th
North India was split into several independent kingdoms. The
northern and western regions of
India passed into the hands of a dozen
or more feudatory states. Prabhakara Vardhana, the ruler of
Sthanvisvara, who belonged to the Pushyabhuti family, extended his
control over neighbouring states. Prabhakar Vardhan was the first king
of the Vardhana dynasty with his capital at Thaneswar . After
Prabhakar Vardhan's death in 605, his eldest son, Rajya Vardhana,
ascended the throne.
Harsha Vardhana was Rajya Vardhana's younger
brother. This period of kings from the same line has been referred to
as the Vardhana dynasty in many publications.
According to major evidences, Harsha, like the Guptas , was of the
Vaishya Varna . The Chinese traveler
Xuanzang mentions an emperor
Shiladitya , who had been claimed to be Harsha. Xuanzang
mentions that this king belonged to "Fei-she". This word is generally
restored as "
Vaishya " (a varna or social class).
Territorial reach of Harsha.
Rajya Vardhana’s and Harsha’s sister Rajyashri had been married
to the Maukhari king, Grahavarman. This king, some years later, had
been defeated and killed by king Devagupta of
Malwa and after his
death Rajyashri had been cast into prison by the victor. Harsha's
brother, Rajya Vardhana, then the king at
Thanesar , could not stand
this affront on his family, marched against Devagupta and defeated
him. But it so happened at this moment that
Shashanka , king of Gauda
Bengal , entered
Magadha as a friend of Rajyavardhana, but
in secret alliance with the
Malwa king. Accordingly, Sasanka
treacherously murdered Rajyavardhana. On hearing about the murder of
Harsha resolved at once to march against the treacherous
king of Gauda and killed
Shashanka in a battle.
Harsha ascended the
throne at the age of 16.
Empire of Harsha
North India reverted to small republics and small monarchical
states ruled by Gupta rulers after the fall of the prior Gupta Empire
Harsha united the small republics from Punjab to central
India , and
their representatives crowned him king at an assembly in April 606
giving him the title of Maharaja.
Empire of Harsha which brought all of northern India
under his control. The peace and prosperity that prevailed made his
court a center of cosmopolitanism , attracting scholars, artists and
religious visitors from far and wide. The Chinese traveler Xuanzang
visited the court of Harsha, and wrote a very favourable account of
him, praising his justice and generosity.
Pulakeshin II defeated
Harsha on the banks of Narmada in the winter
of 618-619 A.D.
Tang dynasty emperor Tang Taizong sent
Wang Xuance to India
in response to
Harsha sending an ambassador to China. However once in
India he discovered
Harsha had died and the new king attacked Wang and
his 30 mounted subordinates. This led to
Wang Xuance escaping to
Tibet and then, mounting a joint force of over 7,000 Nepalese mounted
infantry and 1,200 Tibetan infantry attacked the Indian state on June
16. The success of this attack brought
Wang Xuance the prestigious
title of the "Grand Master for the Closing Court." He also secured a
reported Buddhist relic for China.
Harsha is widely believed to be the author of three Sanskrit plays
Priyadarsika . While some believe (e.g.,
Mammata in Kavyaprakasha ) that it was Bana, Harsha's court poet who
wrote the plays as a paid commission,
Wendy Doniger is "persuaded,
however, that king
Harsha really wrote the plays ... himself."
* History of
* ^ CNG Coins
* ^ India: History, Religion, Vision and Contribution to the World,
by Alexander P. Varghese p.26
* ^ A B C D E International Dictionary of Historic Places: Asia and
Oceania by Trudy Ring, Robert M. Salkin, Sharon La Boda p.507
* ^ Ancient
India by Ramesh Chandra Majumdar p.274
* ^ A B C "Harsha". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Retrieved 6
* ^ "Sthanvishvara (historical region, India)". Encyclopædia
Britannica. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
Harsha Charitra by Banabhatt
* ^ Legislative Elite in India: A Study in Political Socialization
by Prabhu Datta Sharma, Publ. Legislators 1984, p32
* ^ Revival of
Buddhism in Modern
India by Deodas Liluji Ramteke,
Publ Deep & Deep, 1983, p19
* ^ Some Aspects of Ancient Indian History and Culture by Upendra
Thakur, Publ. Abhinav Publications, 1974,
* ^ Chandra Mauli Mani (2005). A Journey Through India\'s Past.
Northern Book Centre. p. 91. ISBN 978-81-7211-194-6 .
Wendy Doniger (2006). Ratnāvalī. New York University Press.
* ^ Shankar Goyal (2006). Harsha, a multidisciplinary political
study. Kusumanjali. p. 122.
* ^ "
Harsha (Indian emperor)". Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 6
* ^ "Pulakeshin\'s victory over
Harsha was in 618 AD". The Hindu.
25 April 2016. p. 9.
* ^ "Study unravels nuances of classical Indian history". The Times
of India". Pune. 23 April 2016. p. 3.
* ^ Bennett, Matthew (1998). The Hutchinson Dictionary of Ancient &
Medieval Warfare. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers. p. 336. ISBN
* ^ Sen, Tansen (2003). Buddhism, Diplomacy, and Trade: The
Realignment of Sino-Indian Relations. Honolulu: University of Hawaii
Press. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-8248-2593-5 .
* ^ Chen, Jinhua (2002). "Śarīra and Scepter. Empress Wu\'s
Political Use of Buddhist Relics". The Journal of the International
Association of Buddhist Studies. International Association of Buddhist
* ^ A B
Harsha (2006). "The Lady of the Jewel Necklace" and "The
Lady who Shows Her Love". Translated by Wendy Doniger. New York
University Press. p. 18.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
article HARSHA .
* Reddy, Krishna (2011), Indian History, Tata McGraw-Hill Education
Private Limited, New Delhi
* Price, Pamela (2007), Early Medieval India, HIS2172 - Periodic
Evaluation, University of Oslo
* "Conquests of Siladitya in the south" by
S. Srikanta Sastri
* WorldCat Identities
* VIAF : 193711102
* LCCN : n50082104
* ISNI : 0000 0003 5697 689X
* GND : 118983903
* BNF : cb119069