List of important facts and history of Harshavardhana period, Pushyabhuti dynasty:

The Pushyabhuti dynasty or the Vardhan dynasty was established in the sixth century AD after the decline of the Gupta dynasty at Thaneshwar in Ambala district of Haryana. The founder of this dynasty is believed to be 'Pushyabhuti', who was a worshiper of Shiva and his ultimate devotee. There were three kings in this dynasty – Prabhakarvardhana and his two sons Rajyavardhan and Harshavardhana.

Important facts about Pushyabhuti dynasty:

  • Its capital was Kannauj.
  • The rule of this dynasty lasted till 647 AD.
  • This dynasty became very famous due to its conflict with the Huns.
  • This empire extended from Kamrup (present day Assam) in the east to the river Narmada in the south.
  • Probably Prabhakarvardhana was the fourth ruler of this dynasty. Information about this is available from Harshacharita.
  • Prabhakarvardhana was the father of two sons – Rajyavardhan and Harshavardhana and a daughter Rajyashree.
  • The daughter Rajyashree was married by Prabhakarvardhan to a Grihavarman of the Maukhari dynasty.
  • After the death of Prabhakarvardhana, Rajyavardhana ascended the throne, but soon he had to go on a campaign against Malwa.
  • Most of the northern and northwestern part of India was at this time under Harsha's empire.
  • On his way back after the success of the campaign, Shashank of the Gaur dynasty killed Rajyavardhan.
  • After this Harshavardhana became the king and he could expand his kingdom substantially only after the death of Shashanka.
  • The most majestic and last king of this dynasty was Harshavardhana, during whose reign this dynasty reached its climax.

The following are the known rulers of the Pushyabhuti or Vardhana dynasty, with an estimated duration of rule:

  1. Pushyabhuti (Pushyabhuti) possibly mythological
  2. Narvardhan 500-525 BC
  3. Rajyavardhan 525-555 BC
  4. Adityavardhana (vdityvardhana or asdityasena) 555-580 BC.
  5. Prabhakara-Vardhana (Prabhakaravardhana) 580-605 BC
  6. Rajya-vardhana (Rajvardhana 2) 605-606 CE
  7. Harsha-Vardhana (Harvardhan) 606-647 BC

History of Harshavardhana period (606 AD to 647 AD):

Harshavardhana belonged to the Pushyabhuti dynasty which was founded by Narvardhana in the 5th or early 6th century AD. It was only under King Prabhakar Vardhana (father of Harshavardhana) of Thaneshwar. Pushyabhuti was a prosperous dynasty and had attained the title of Maharajadhiraja. Harshavardhana succeeded the throne in 606 AD at the age of 16 when his brother Rajyavardhana was assassinated by Shashanka who had set out to suppress the kings of Gaud and Malwa. Harsha was also known as Skalottarapathanatha.

After ascending the throne he saved his sister Rajyashree and with an unsuccessful attempt proceeded towards Shashank. In his second campaign, after the death of Shashanka, he conquered Magadha and the kingdom of Shashanka. He established his capital at Kannauj. With a large army, Harshavardhana extended his empire from Punjab to northern Orissa and from the Himalayas to the banks of the Narmada River. He tried to extend his empire beyond the Narmada but failed to do so. He had to face defeat at the hands of the Chalukya king Pulakesin II of Badami. With the death of Harshavardhana in 647 AD, his empire also came to an end.

Important facts related to Harshavardhana period:

  • In 606 AD, Harshavardhana ascended the throne of Thaneswar.
  • The sources of information about Harshavardhana are – Harshacharita of Banabhatta, travel details of Hiuen Tsang and the compositions of Harsha himself.
  • Another name of Harshavardhana was Shiladitya. Harsha patronized Mahayana Buddhism.
  • Harsha sent his envoys to China in 641 AD and in 643 AD and 646 AD two Chinese envoys came to his court.
  • Harsha organized two huge religious assemblies in 646 AD at Kannauj and Prayag.
  • Harsha forcibly obtained the dental relics of Buddha from the ruler of Kashmir.
  • Harshavardhana was also a worshiper of Shiva. He used to worship Rudra Shiva before leaving for military campaign.
  • Harshavardhana was also a writer. He composed three texts (plays) namely Priyadarsika, Ratnavali and Nagananda.
  • Banabhatta was Harsha's court poet. He composed works like Harshacharita, Kadambari and Shuknasopadesha etc.
  • Harshavardhana's sister Rajyashree was married to Grahavarman, the ruler of Kannauj.
  • Devagupta, the ruler of Malwa and Shashank, the Gaur ruler, captured Kanauj by killing Grahavarman.
  • Harshavardhana defeated Shashank and took control of Kannauj and made it his capital.
  • Harshavardhana has been called Param Maheshwar in Banskheda and Madhuban inscriptions.
  • According to Hiuen Tsang, Harsha had subjugated the neighboring kingdoms by his authority. It is clear from the inscriptions of South India that Harsha was the master of the whole of northern India.
  • Harsha's empire extended from Thaneshwar (East Punjab) in the north to the banks of the Narmada River in the south and from Ganjam in the east to Vallabhi in the west.
  • Harsha's greatest importance in Indian history is also because he was the last Hindu emperor of northern India, who ruled over Aryavarta.
  • He built many rest houses and hospitals.
  • Hiuen Tsang mentions about the grand assembly held at Kanauj in which twenty kings, four thousand Buddhist monks and three thousand Jains and Brahmins participated.
  • Harsha used to organize a religious festival called Mahamoksha Harishad at Prayag (Allahabad) at the end of every five years. Here he used to organize charity ceremonies.
  • Harshavardhana divided his income into four equal parts, whose names were for the royal family, for the army and administration, for the religious fund and for the poor and destitute.
  • According to Hiuen Tsang, Harshavardhana had an efficient government. He also mentioned that families were not registered there and there was no forced labor.
  • But he had complaints about the regular robbery.
  • The defeat of Harshavardhana at the hands of Pulakesin II is mentioned in the Aihole inscription (Karnataka). He was the first North Indian king who had to face defeat at the hands of a South Indian king.

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Harshavardhan Period, Pushyabhuti Dynasty FAQs:

A Mahayana Buddhist monk named Xuanzang, a Chinese pilgrim, came to India during the time of Harshavardhana. Varshavavadhi had traveled from China in his vicarage to study and research Buddhism, where he also stayed on the banks of the Ganges River.

The Chinese traveler who came to India during the reign of Harshavardhana was Varshavadhana (Xuanzang). He came to India around the middle of the 7th century and traveled to many places in India, which is also known as his Pilgrimage to India.

Pulakeshin II, the Chalukya ruler, defeated Harshavardhana, the ruler of the Pushyabhuti dynasty, on the banks of the Narmada River in the 7th century.

Ratnavali' is actually the creation of King Harsha, who is also known as Harsha Vardhan. He was a prominent ruler of the Indian subcontinent during the 7th century. 'Ratnavali' is a Sanskrit drama composed by Harsha, depicting the love story of King Udayana and Princess Ratnavali.

The "Kannauj Sabha" organized by Harsha was actually held in honor of Hiuen Tsang. Hiuen Tsang was a Chinese Buddhist monk and scholar who traveled to India during the reign of Harsha.

  Last update :  Tue 13 Sep 2022
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