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Harsha
Harsha
(c. 590–647 CE), also known as Harshavardhana, was an Indian emperor who ruled North India
North India
from 606 to 647 CE. He was a member of the Pushyabhuti dynasty; and was the son of Prabhakarvardhana who defeated the Alchon Huna invaders,[2] 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
Kannauj
(in present Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh
state) his capital, and ruled till 647 CE.[3] Harsha
Harsha
was defeated by the south Indian Emperor Pulakeshin II
Pulakeshin II
of the Chalukya dynasty, when Harsha
Harsha
he to expand his Empire into the southern peninsula of India.[4] The peace and prosperity that prevailed made his court a centre of cosmopolitanism, attracting scholars, artists and religious visitors from far and wide.[3] The Chinese traveller Xuanzang
Xuanzang
visited the court of Harsha
Harsha
and wrote a very favourable account of him, praising his justice and generosity.[3] 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).[5]

Contents

1 Origins 2 Ascension 3 Reign 4 Religion 5 Author 6 See also 7 References 8 Further reading

Origins[edit]

Palace ruins at "Harsh ka tila" mound area spread over 1 km

After the downfall of the Gupta Empire
Gupta Empire
in the middle of the 6th century, North India
North India
was split into several independent kingdoms. The northern and western regions of India
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
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.[6][7][8] [9] According to major evidences, Harsha, like the Guptas, was of the Vaishya
Vaishya
Varna.[10] The Chinese traveler Xuanzang
Xuanzang
mentions an emperor named Shiladitya, who had been claimed to be Harsha.[11] Xuanzang mentions that this king belonged to "Fei-she". This word is generally restored as "Vaishya" (a varna or social class).[12] Ascension[edit]

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
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 in Eastern Bengal, entered Magadha
Magadha
as a friend of Rajyavardhana, but in secret alliance with the Malwa
Malwa
king. Accordingly, Shashanka
Shashanka
treacherously murdered Rajyavardhana.[13] On hearing about the murder of his brother, Harsha
Harsha
resolved at once to march against the treacherous king of Gauda and killed Shashanka
Shashanka
in a battle. Harsha
Harsha
ascended the throne at the age of 16. Reign[edit] See also: Empire of Harsha As North India
North India
reverted to small republics and small monarchical states ruled by Gupta rulers after the fall of the prior Gupta Empire, Harsha
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. Harsha
Harsha
established an empire that brought all of northern India
India
under his control.[3] 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
Xuanzang
visited the court of Harsha, and wrote a very favourable account of him, praising his justice and generosity.[3] Pulakeshin II
Pulakeshin II
defeated Harsha
Harsha
on the banks of Narmada in the winter of 618-619 CE[14][15] In 648, Tang dynasty
Tang dynasty
emperor Tang Taizong sent Wang Xuance to India
India
in response to Harsha
Harsha
sending an ambassador to China. However once in India
India
he discovered Harsha
Harsha
had died and the new king attacked Wang and his 30 mounted subordinates.[16] 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."[17] He also secured a reported Buddhist relic for China.[18] Religion[edit] Like many other ancient Indian rulers, Harsha
Harsha
was eclectic in religion. His seals describe his ancestors as sun-worshippers, his elder brother as a Buddhist, and himself as a Shaivite. His land grant inscriptions describe him as Parama-maheshvara (supreme devotee of Shiva), and his play Nagananda is dedicated to Shiva's consort Gauri. His court poet Bana also describes him as a Shaivite.[19] According to the Chinese Buddhist traveler Xuanzang, Harsha
Harsha
became a devout Buddhist at some point in his life. Xuanzang
Xuanzang
states that Harsha banned animal slaughter for food, and built monasteries at the places visited by Gautama Buddha. He erected several thousand 100-feet high stupas on the banks of the Ganges river, and built well-maintained hospices for travelers and poor people on highways across India. He organized an annual assembly of global scholars, and bestowed charitable alms on them. Every five years, he held a great assembly called Moksha. Xuanzang
Xuanzang
also describes a 21-day religious festival organized by Harsha
Harsha
in Kannauj; during this festival, Harsha
Harsha
and his subordinate kings performed daily rituals before a life-sized golden statue of the Buddha.[19] Since Harsha's own records describe him as Shaivite, his conversion to Buddhism
Buddhism
would have happened, if at all, in the later part of his life. Even Xuanzang
Xuanzang
states that Harsha
Harsha
patronized scholars of all religions, not just Buddhist monks.[19] Author[edit] Harsha
Harsha
is widely believed to be the author of three Sanskrit plays Ratnavali, Nagananda and Priyadarsika.[20] 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
Wendy Doniger
is "persuaded, however, that king Harsha
Harsha
really wrote the plays ... himself."[20] See also[edit]

Surasena Kingdom History of India Bhaskar Varman

References[edit]

^ CNG Coins [1] ^ 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
India
by Ramesh Chandra Majumdar p.274 ^ Vasudeva Sharana Agrawala (1969). The deeds of Harsha: being a cultural study of Bāṇa's Harshacharita. Prithivi Prakashan. p. 118.  ^ Harsha
Harsha
Charitra by Banabhatt ^ Legislative Elite in India: A Study in Political Socialization by Prabhu Datta Sharma, Publ. Legislators 1984, p32 ^ Revival of Buddhism
Buddhism
in Modern India
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
Wendy Doniger
(2006). Ratnāvalī. New York University Press. p. 15.  ^ Shankar Goyal (2006). Harsha, a multidisciplinary political study. Kusumanjali. p. 122.  ^ Bindeshwari Prasad Sinha (1977). Dynastic History of Magadha, Cir. 450-1200 A.D. Abhinav. p. 151.  ^ "Pulakeshin's victory over Harsha
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 978-1-57958-116-9.  ^ 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 Studies: 45.  ^ a b c Abraham Eraly (2011). The First Spring: The Golden Age of India. Penguin Books India. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-670-08478-4.  ^ a b Harsha
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. 

Further reading[edit]

Wikisource
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

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 193711102 LCCN: n50082104 ISNI: 0000 0003 5697 689X GND: 118983903 BNF:

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