Harshavardhan and his empire Useful notes 2023

Pushyabhuti Dynasty (Harshavardhan)

Harshvardhan was the most important in this topic.

Harshavardhan Dynasty
  • Harshvardhan is very important in this topic.
  • The founder of this dynasty was Pushyabhuti. In name of this, it came to be known as the Pushyabhuti dynasty.
  • Taking advantage of the weakness of the Gupta kings, Pushyabhuti established his power in East Punjab and made Thaneswar his capital.

Prabhakar Vardhan

  • The founder of the power and prestige of the Vardhana dynasty was Prabhakar Vardhana. He is known as Huna Harin Kesari (Lion for Hun-like Harin), Sindhuraj (Lion like fever for Indus kingdom), Gurjara Prajagar (The sleepless Gujjar) Gandharipagandha Dwipakuthastijvaro (Great hand fever for Sugandhiraj of Gandhara like King of Gandhara). ), destroyer of fickleness and Malavalakshmilataparshu (like an ax for the Laxmi-like creeper of Malwa).
  • To strengthen the situation, Prabhakar Vardhan established marital relations with jobs.


  • After the death of Prabhakar Vardhana, Rajyavardhana ascended the throne of Thaneswar. At the same time, he got the news that Shashank, the ruler of Bengal, and Devgupta, the ruler of Malwa, together had attacked Kanauj and killed Grahavarman, and imprisoned Rajyashree.
  • After getting information about this incident, Rajyavardhan proceeded to protect Kannauj, he defeated Devgupta’s army, but Shashank was betrayed and murdered by the Gaur ruler of Bengal.


  • Harshavardhana was the most majestic king of the Pushyabhuti dynasty. Harshavardhana was born around 591 AD.
  • He was the son of Prabhakarvardhana and Yashomati. Harshavardhana’s elder brother was Rajyavardhan. After the murder of Rajyavardhan, Harshavardhana became the ruler of Thaneshwar in 606 AD at the age of 16.
  • After taking the throne, he vowed to take vengeance on Shashank, and for the safety of his sister, he proceeded towards Kannauj.
  • On the way, he met Hansbeg, the messenger of Bhaskarvarman, the king of Kamrup, who proposed friendship to Harshavardhana on behalf of his king, which Harsha gladly accepted.
  • On moving forward, he got information from Mandi that Rajyashree had gone to Vindhyachal after being freed from captivity. With the help of Acharya Diwakar Mitra, she found Rajyashree at a time when she was going to become Sati.
  • Harsha brought him back to Kannauj. After the murder of Grahavarman, Harsha became the ruler of Kanauj with the consent of the ministers of Kannauj and Rajyashri, when he did not have any successor.
  • Harsha made Kannauj the capital, from where he spread his dominance all around. Here the region suddenly reached a political height in the second half of the sixth century.
  • The emergence of Kannauj as the center of political power from the time of Harsha marked the arrival of the feudal age in North India. The region of Kannauj was situated in the middle of the Doab.
  • Kannauj was properly fortified in the 7th century. The early history of Harsha’s reign is known from Banabhatta.
  • Chinese traveler Hwaensang came to India in the seventh century AD and lived in India for about 15 years.
  • According to Hwaensang, there were 60000 elephants and one lakh horses in his army. Harsha was a worshiper of Surya and Shiva. Another name for Harsha was Shiladitya.
  • He has been called the last Hindu emperor of India. His kingdom extended to the whole of North India except Kashmir. In eastern India, he had to fight with the Shaivite ruler.
  • Harsha’s campaign to the south on the banks of the Narmada was stopped by King Pulakeshin II of the Chalukya dynasty.


  • In the time of Harsha, the form of governance was monarchical. The king believed in his divine origin. For administrative convenience, the state was divided into Village, Subject, Bhukti, and Rashtra.
  • Harsha had started the practice of giving land to the officials through government letters. In the copper plate of Harsha, only 3 taxes are mentioned – Bhag, Hiranya, and Bali.
  • There was a land tax on the run. Which was the main source of income for the state and one-sixth of their produce was taken from the farmers.
  • Cash was taken from the deer, which was probably given by the merchants. Nothing is known about the sacrificial tax, it is possible that it must have been a kind of religious act.
  • According to Hiuen Tsang, there was a provision of severe punishment for the crime in the law of the land.
  • Hiuen Tsang used to call Harsha’s army Chaturangini.
  • Two copper coins of Harsha have been received from Nalanda and Sonipat.
  • There is a depiction of Nandi, the vehicle of Shiva, on the currency of Sonipat. The name of Shri Harsha is written on the currency of Nalanda and he has been called Maheshwar, Sarvabhom, and Maharajadhiraja.

Description of Hiuen Tsang

  • The importance of Harsha’s reign is related to the visit of the Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang. He left China in 629 AD and reached India while visiting many places.
  • He studied at Nalanda Mahavidyalaya for many years. Acharya Shilabhadra was the Vice Chancellor of Nalanda University at the time of Harsha.
  • Harsha became a great supporter of Buddhism under the influence of Hiuen Tsang. It is known from the above Chinese description that Pataliputra and Vaishali were in a state of decline at that time.
  • Hiuen Tsang called Shudra a farmer. This traveler has described the untouchables like Scavenger Chandal etc. He used to live outside the village and eat garlic onions.

Buddhism and Nalanda

  • The most famous center was Nalanda Bihar Mahavihara which had a large university to educate Buddhist monks.
  • It is said that there were 10000 students in this Mahavihara in which all were Buddhist monks.
  • He was taught the Buddhist philosophy of the Mahayana sect. Another Chinese traveler Itsing came to Nalanda in 670 AD.
  • According to him, only 3000 monks lived in this Mahavihara. According to Hiuen Tsang, Nalanda University was maintained by the revenue of 100 villages.
  • Itsing has increased this number to 200. Harsha’s religious policy was tolerant, he was Shaivite in his early life.
  • But gradually under the influence of Buddhism, he organized a huge conference in Kannauj to propagate the principles of Mahayana.
  • Hiuen Tsang started the debate at the conference.
  • After Kannauj he called a Mahasammelan at Prayag where Harsha donated everything except the clothes of his body.
  • Banabhatta depicted the early life of his patron in a book called Harshacharita.

See also…

Post Gupta Age