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Freeindia > Biographies > Great Kings And Queens > Harshavardhana
Harshavardhana [606 AD - 647 AD]

The great Indian emperor of the 38th century of Kaliyuga ( i.e. 7th century A.D.) Harshavardhan united entire stretch of northern India under one effective rule after freeing it from the virtual control of the vigorous Hunas. He had been the younger son of Prabhakarvardhan, the king of Sthaneshvara ( near Kurukshetra ) who became the ruler after the death of his elder brother Rajyavardhan. By establishing a new big empire with the setting up of the capital of that in Kanyakubja ( Kannauj ) he accomplished the praiseworthy task of uniting Bharat, scattered and shattered due to the end of the Gupta empire, under a single all India rule. The Chinese pilgrim Yuvan Chwang ( Huan-Tsang ) had come to India during the reign of Harshavardhan. Emperor used to hold a big conference in Prayag every five years at which he gave in dana ( donation ) all his belongings and used to worship the saints and deities of all the religious sects. He was one of the best literature of his days and used to show respect to the other litterateurs. Harsha wrote literary works named Nagananda, Ratnayali and Priyadarsika. The well known poet Banabhatt had been a friend and a shining jewel adorning his ruling assembly whose two works Kadambini and Harsa Carita are famous gems of the treasure of Sanskrit literature.

In the second half of the seventh century, efforts at empire building were made by Harshavardhana (or Harsha). He belonged to the Pushabhukti family, who ruled in Thaneshwar, north of Delhi. His reign is comparatively well-doented, thanks to his court poet, Bana, who composed an account of his rise to power, Harshacharita. The Chinese buddhist pilgrim, Hieun Tsang, who visited India during his reign, also left a lengthy account of his travels.

Harsha moved his capital from Thaneshwar to Kanauj. The area under his control covered many parts of northern India, including the Punjab, eastern Rajasthan and the Ganga valley as far as Assam. But, his empire included territories of distant feudal kings too. Harsha governed his empire on the same lines a the Guptas. The kings he conquered paid him revenue and sent soldiers when he was fighting war. They accepted his sovereignty, but remained rulers over their own kingdoms. Harsha's ambition of extending his power to the Deccan and southern India were stopped by Pulakesin II, the Chalukya king of Vatapi in northern Mysore.

Hieun Tsang noticed that at the time of Harsha, Buddhism was not as popular in all parts of India as he had thought it would be. But in eastern India, it was still popular. Nalanda university was still a famous centre of Buddhism. He also recorded the existence of a rigid caste system.

Soon after Harsha's death, apparently without any heirs, his empire died with him. The kingdom disintegrated rapidly into small states. The succeeding period is very obscure and badly doented, but it marks the culmination of a process which had begun with the invasion of the Hunas in the last years of the Gupta empire. Meanwhile, the kingdoms of the Deccan and the south became powerful.

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Published on: 2003-02-01 (6126 reads)

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Harshavardhana [606 AD - 647 AD]
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