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Harshavardhana King Short Biography, History Administration & Facts

Harshavardhana-KingKing Harsha Vardhana was one of the most prominent monarchs of North India in the post-Gupta age. He was the greatest and ablest ruler of the Pushyabhti dynasty of Thaneswar in the 7th century.

Harsha Vardhana was the son of King Prabhakar Vardhana, a powerful ruler of the Pushyabhuti dynasty. Harsha’s elder brother Rajya Vardhana became King after Prabhakar Vardhana. Rajya Vardhana was killed by Shashanka, the ruler of Gaud (Bengal) during a campaign against Deva Gupta and Shashanka. After the murder of his elder brother Rajya Vardhana, Harsha Vardhana ascended the throne of Thaneshwar with the consent and support of councillors of the State in 606 AD. The Harsha era started from this year. After becoming King, Harsha decided to crush the power of Shashanka and Deva Gupta. He first rescued his widowed sister Rajyashri who was set free by Deva Gupta after torture. He launched a successful campaign against Shashanka and his allies and captured Kannauj. He annexed Kannauj in his Kingdom and made it his new capital. He got support from Bhaskar Varman, King of Kamrupa in his campaign against Shashanka. But Harsha could not get decisive success against Shashanka as he continued to ruler over the greater part of Bengal till  637 AD. After the death of Shashanka Harsha got success in that region. The armies of King Harsha and Bhaskara Varman attacked Bengal after the death of Shashanka and succeeded there. East Bengal was captured by Bhaskara while West Bengal went to Harsha. Thus, Harsha secured his Kingdom’s eastern boundary. Harsha succeeded in consolidating his position as a powerful monarch by numerous military campaigns. He got some success against Dhruvasena II, the ruler of Vallabhi (Gujarat) on the western part of his Kingdom. However, Harsha ended the rivalry between the two Kingdoms with marriage of his daughter to Dhruvasena. It was a big diplomatic success of Harsha to secure his western border. Harsha Vardhana’s attempt to increase his political authority in South India was effectively checked by the Chalukya King Pulakesin II. The battle between Harsha army and Pulakesin II forces took place near the bank of the Narmada river. Harsha was forced to retreat. However, Harsha established himself as a powerful ruler of a large part of North India. The empire of Harsha included Eastern Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa. He enjoyed his authority in many other regions like Vallabhi, Kutch, Kamrupa etc., though these parts were not in his Kingdom. Though Harsha was not the supreme power of whole of North India and he was not as great and powerful as Samudragupta, Chandragupta II etc., it can be easily accepted that he provided political unity to a large part of North India and filled political vacuum after the decline of Guptas to a large extent. He successfully ruled his Kingdom from 606 AD to 647 AD.

  • Harsha Vardhana was also known as ‘Siladitya’.
  • He himself was a great scholar. He wrote three plays-The Nagananda, The Ratnavali and The Priyadarsika. Harsha patronized art and literature in his Kingdom. ‘Banabhatta’, the seasoned author of the Harhacharita and the Kadambari and scholars like ‘Maurya’, ‘Divakara’ and ‘[ayasena’ graced the royal court of Harsha Vardhana.
  • Harsha assumed the titles of Maharajadhiraja and Param Bhataraka.
  • Famous Chinese traveller and pilgrim Hieun-Tsang came to India during his reign. Harsha patronised him.
  • Harsha was a Shaiva by faith but he showed equal respect, tolerance etc. to other religions also. He showed interest in Buddhism and accepted many of its teachings.
  • He organized two religious assemblies in Kannauj and Prayaga in 643 (AD. In Kannauj he organized the assembly in honour of Hieun- Tsang and popularised Buddhism.
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