Harshavardhana (b.590–r.606-647 AD) (हर्षवर्धन), also Harsha, was a Buddhist Jat emperor who ruled Northern India for over forty years. He was the grandson of king Pushyamitra of Thanesar and son of Prabhakaravardhana. At the height of his power his kingdom spanned the Punjab, Bengal, Orissa and the entire Gangetic plain North of the Narmada River. He ruled from 606-647 AD.
After the downfall of the Gupta Empire in the middle of the sixth century C.E., North India reverted back to small republics and small monarchial states. Harsha united the small republics from Punjab to Central India, and they, at an assembly, crowned Harsha king in April 606 AD when he was merely 16 year old.
- 1 Harsha's ancestry
- 2 The Pushyabhutis of Thanesar and Kanauj
- 3 Harsha's Clan
- 4 हर्षवर्धन (606-647 ई०)
- 5 महाराजा हर्षवर्धन और हरियाणा सर्वखाप पंचायत
- 6 Prabhakar Vardhan
- 7 Rajya Vardhan
- 8 Harsha's Ascension
- 9 Harsha's Wars
- 10 Administration of Harsha
- 11 Religion and Literature
- 12 After Harsha
- 13 Recent researches
- 14 Chronology of the Pushpabhuti Dynasty
- 15 Sonepat Copper Seal Inscription of Harshavardhana of year 22
- 16 Madhuban plate of Harsha of year 25
- 17 Madhuban plate of Harsha : English translation
- 18 See alaso
- 19 References
- 20 Further reading
- 21 External links
They were descended from a certain Pushyabhuti who founded and ruled the kingdom of Sthanvisvara or modern Thanesar. The name Pushpabhuti is the key to Harsha's origins and the relevant reference point is an inscription dated 181 AD and found at Gunda in the state of Gujarat. That inscription mentions a general of Rudrasimha I or Rudrasingh by the name Rudrabhuti. Rudradaman I, an ancestor of Rudrasimha I had conquered the Yaudheya, who were the original masters of Haryana.He was a Jat from Haryana. According to Alexander Cunningham, in 1871 Xuanzang must have mistaken the Vaisa for Bains. Thomas Watters has pointed out this is most unlikely as Xuanzang, "had ample opportunities for learning the antecedents of the royal family, and he must have had some ground for his assertion." However, Banabhatta clarifies that the Bains descent must have been correct considering the Harshacarita the author Bâna never stated his background to be strangely non Kshatriya. Harsha's Royal descent being known (rulers of Sthanvisvara, modern Thanesar) and his sister being married into prominent Kshatriya families of Maukharis.
The Pushyabhutis of Thanesar and Kanauj
A variety of sources inform us about the rise of the family of Pushyabhutis which first ruled from Thaneshwar in Haryana and later from Kanauj in Uttar Pradesh. These sources include the text Harshacharita of Banabhatta, accounts of Hiuen-tsang and some inscriptions and coins etc. Banabhatta informs us that the founder king of this dynasty at Thaneshwar was Pushyabhuti and that the family was known as Pushyabhuti vamsa. However, the inscriptions of Harsha make no reference to him. The Banskhera and Madhuban plates and royal seals mention five earlier rulers among whom the first three are given the title of Maharaja. This may indicate that they were not sovereign monarchs. The fourth king Prabhakarvardhana has been described as a Maharajadhiraja which makes us infer that he was an independent monarch and had established matrimonial relations with the Maukharis by marrying his daughter Rajyasri with Grahavarman.
Thaneshwar, during this time (about 604 A.D.) was threatened by the Hunas from the western side. Banabhatta has described Prabhakarvardhana as "a lion to the Huna deer". According to him an army under Rajyavardhana was sent to defeat the Hunas but due to the sudden illness of his father he had to come back. With Prabhakarvardhana's death the family had to face troubled times for a while. The Malava king killed Grahavarman and took Rajyasri prisoner. It appears that the Malava and the Gauda kings entered into alliance and even Thaneshwar was threatened. Rajyavardhana defeated the Malavas but was killed through treachery by Sasanka, the Gauda king. Now it was Harsha's responsibility to seek revenge and in due course he was able to establish a strong empire.
Harsha ascended the throne of Thaneshwar around 606 A.D. and immediately marched against the Gaudas. He also entered into an alliance with Bhaskarvarman-the king of Pragjyaotisha (Assam) as both had a common enemy in Sasanka, the king of Gauda (Bengal). We have no information whether Harsha entered into battle with Sasanka but he was able to save his sister Rajyasri and the kingdoms of Thaneshwar and Kanauj were combined with Harsha now ruling from Kanauj. In fact Hiuen-tsang's account mentions him and his predecessors as rulers of Kanauj. Both Bana and Hiuen-tsang refer to Harsha's vow of defeating other kings. Subsequently, he fought the rulers of Valabhi and Gurjaras in the west; Chalukyas in the Deccan; and Magadha and Gauda in the east: The Maitrakas of Valabhi had emerged as a strong power in the Saurashm region of Gujarat. Valabhi is generally identified with Wala, 18 miles from Bhavnagar in Kathiawar. We find the names of five Valabhi kings who were contemporaries of Harsha. Hiuen-tsang has mentioned the Valabhi king Dhruvasena II Baladitya as Harsha's son-in-law who also attended the religious assembly called by Harsha at Prayaga. This indicates that Harsha's hostilities with Valabhis ended through a matrimonial alliance. However, through the inscriptions of Gurjara kings we know that their king Dadda II, had supported the Valabhis. The Valabhis remained a strong power during the reign of Harsha. From Bana's account we know that the Gurjaras were hostile to the Vardhanas. A family of Gurjara rulers was ruling at Nandipuri in the Broach region of Gujarat in this period. This might have continued during the period of Harsha. It appears that the Gurjaras accepted the suzerainty of Chalukyas of Badami in Karnataka as a safeguard against Harsha, for the Aihole inscription mentions Lata, Malava and Gurjara as feudatories of Pulakasin II, the Chalukya ruler. An eulogy, Aihole Inscription of Pulikeshin II 634-35 AD, placed on a temple wall at Aihole, also mentions Pulakesin's military success against Harshavardhana.
Hiuen-tsang's account mentions that inspite of his victories over many kingdoms he was not able to defeat Pulakasin II, the Chalukya ruler of Badami in Karnataka. We have no details of the battle and where it was fought but this is clear that Harsha could not achieve success against Pulakesin II is clear from Aihole Inscription of Pulikeshin II of year 634-635 CE.
Harsha was successful in his eastern campaigns. A Chinese account mentions him as the king of Magadha in 641 A.D., we have already mentioned his alliance with Bhaskaravarman the king of Assam and it is possible that they jointly conducted campaigns in Bengal and other parts of eastern India. Harsha had diplomatic relations with the Chinese for his contemporary T'ang emperor sent three embassies to his court. The last of these, under Wang-hiuen-tse, arrived in India in 647 A.D. when Harsha was no longer alive. Harsha himself had sent a brahmana envoy to China in 641 A.D. Harsha ruled for a period of 41 years and is said to have died about 647 A.D.
Bhim Singh Dahiya  writes that ....Thus it is abundantly clear that Harsha belonged to the immigrants from Central Asia. The only point for consideration is, whether he belonged to the Bains clan or the Varika clan. Harsha is associated with Shrimalpur, a village on Jullundur-Hoshiarpur border. This village is supposed to be the birth place of Vardhanas of Thanesar. This village, even today, belongs to the Bains Jats. Therefore, if this identification with Shrimalpur is correct, then the family of Harsha belonged to the Bains clan, the fei-she of Huen-Tsang. On the other hand if Harsha is to be identified as a descendant of the Vardhana family of Mandsor, then the clan of Harsha will have to be Varika. As already shown, the name Varika in its plural form is also called Varkan. Mahabhashya mentions the Varika or Varkaṇya. The Mandsor king Vishnuvardhana, son of Yasodharman or Yashovarmana also belong to the same clan. The Mandsor Inscription of 532-33 A. D. contains a phrase to this effect. The phrase in question is Vīryā Varkanna Rājnah (वीर्या वरकन्न राज्ञ:). It means the king of the Varkanna or Varikas. The Bijaygadh Pillar inscription of Vishnuvardhana also mentions the king as belonging to Varika clan.
Harsha's clan could not have been Virk as none from the Mandsaur rulers was a Virk. B.S. Dahiya's thesis of identifying Yashodharman (known date 589 Malava samvat=532 A.D.), the Aulikara with Yashovardhana, father of Vishnuvardhana of the Bijaygarh Pillar Inscription (of 428 Malava samvat=371 A.D.) may not be correct in view of the information available now from the Risthal Inscription of Prakashadharman of 515 AD (Risthal is near Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh), the Immediate predecessor (most likely, father ) of Yashodharman, namely Prakashdharman (?), the Aulikara.
Ram Sarup Joon writes that Raja Harsh Vardhan was from the royal family of Thaneswar whose gotra was Bhatti. His father Prabhakar Vardhan had adopted the title of Parm Bhatti. The history of this dynasty before Harsh Vardhan back to his great grand father has been considered as lost. However, Harsh Charitra written by Kavi Bana throws ample light on it. Certain stone tablets excavated from Madhubal also reveal facts about the ancestors of Harsh Vardhan. The Chinese traveler Huen Tsang has recorded an account of the administration of Harsh Vardhan.
The early ancestors of Harsh Vardhan were Nar Vardhan, Raj Vardhan and Aditya Vardhan all of whom ruled small kingdoms with their capital in Thaneswar. Harsh Vardhan's father Prabhakar Vardhan expanded his territory. He established friendly and matrimonial relations with Guptas and the rulers of Malwa. With the increase of his power he gained the title of Param Bhatt. His mother was the daughter of Damodar Gupta, ruler of Magadha. His wife Yashomati was the daughter of King Yashodharman of Malwa. His daughter Rajeshwari was married to prince Grah Vardhan, heir apparent to the throne of Kanauj. Thus the three main ruling Jat dynasties i.e. Karaskar, Virk and Bhatti were closely related to each other.
It is mentioned on page 16 of "Imperial Gazetteer of India, Bombay presidency- First Edition that Raja Harsh Vardhan put new life into Gupta rule by establishing relations with them.
History of the Jats, End of Page-62
and had killed Rajeshwari's husband Grah Vardhan. Rajeshwari escaped into the jungles. When Raj Vardhan heard of his sister's plight he invaded Kanauj with a large force and defeated the King Sasank who had established himself there. He, however, managed to get Raj Vardhan treacherously murdered. When the tidings of his death reached. Thaneswar, his brother Harsh Vardhan was proclaimed King. He was very brave and spirited. He sent his Commander-m-Chief with a large force to Kanauj, With handful of selected fighters he, himself set forth in search of his sister in the jungle. He found, her-but in a miserable condition and when she was just preparing to burn herself to death. She had lost her husband and her kingdom. She had fled to save her honour. When she heard of the death of her dear brother she could think of nothing but to kill herself. She got a funeral pyre prepared. Just as she was to step into it, she beard the clatter of hoofs and sawdust kicked up by galloping horses. She was awed. Soon the glowing face of her brother appeared before her eyes. She was overwhelmed with emotions. Harsh Vardhan persuaded Rajeshwari come to Thaneswar.
Harsh Vardhan invaded Kanauj and defeated Sasank and took over the rule of Kanauj. He then conquered Malwa and the entire Northern India and gained the title of Maharaja. He wanted to conquer the whole of India. Pulkeshin Solanki, ruler of south India foresaw his expansionist ambition, faced him with large army and blunted his ambitions.
With the intention of removing religious dissension and misunderstandings, Harsh Vardhan arranged public declamations between Vaishnavites and Buddhists. He preferred Buddhism and like Ashoka and Kanishka encouraged its propagation. After his death his Prime Minister succeeded him. His reign marked the climax of Jats in India and their rule covered the entire country.
History of the Jats, End of Page-63
हर्षवर्धन (606-647 ई०)
हर्षवर्धन राज्यवर्द्धन की मृत्यु के पश्चात् 606 ई० में विद्वानों के कहने पर 16 वर्ष की आयु में राजसिंहासन पर बैठा। यह बड़ा वीर योद्धा एवं साहसी था। इस समय उसके सामने सबसे बड़ी समस्या अपने बहिन राज्यश्री को मुक्त कराने तथा शशांक से अपने भाई की मृत्यु का बदला लेना था। इसके लिए वह एक विशाल सेना लेकर चल पड़ा। उसे ज्ञात हुआ कि राज्यश्री शत्रुओं के चंगुल से मुक्त होकर विन्ध्या के वनों में चली गई है। सौभाग्य से उसे राज्यश्री मिल गयी जो उस समय चिता में सती होने की तैयारी कर रही थी। हर्षवर्धन उसे घर ले आया। ग्रहवर्मन का कोई उत्तराधिकारी न होने के कारण हर्ष ने कन्नौज के राज्य को अपने राज्य में मिला लिया और इसको अपनी राजधानी बनाया।
हर्ष की विजय -
ह्यूनसांग के वृत्तान्त तथा बाण के हर्षचरित से उसके निम्नलिखित युद्धों एवं विजयों का ब्यौरा मिलता है -
- 1, 2. जाट इतिहास उर्दू पृ० 356 लेखक ठा० संसारसिंह।
जाट वीरों का इतिहास: दलीप सिंह अहलावत, पृष्ठान्त-244
- बंगाल के राजा शशांक को युद्ध में हराया और उसके प्रदेश को अपने राज्य में मिला लिया।
- पांच प्रदेशों की विजय - 606 ई० से 612 ई० तक हर्ष ने पंजाब, कन्नौज, बंगाल, बिहार और उड़ीसा को युद्ध करके जीत लिया। इन विजयों से इसका राज्य लगभग समस्त उत्तरी भारत में विस्तृत हो गया।
- बल्लभी अथवा गुजरात की विजय - हर्ष के समय ध्रुवसेन द्वितीय (बालान गोत्र का जाट) बल्लभी अथवा गुजरात का राजा था। हर्ष ने उस पर आक्रमण करके उसको पराजित किया परन्तु अन्त में दोनों में मैत्री-सम्बन्ध स्थापित हो गये। हर्ष ने प्रसन्न होकर अपनी पुत्री का विवाह उससे कर दिया।
- पुलकेशिन द्वितीय (अहलावत जाट) से युद्ध - ह्यूनसांग लिखता है कि “हर्ष ने एक शक्तिशाली विशाल सेना सहित इस सम्राट् के विरुद्ध चढाई की परन्तु पुलकेशिन ने नर्वदा तट पर हर्ष को बुरी तरह पराजित किया। यह हर्ष के जीवन की पहली तथा अन्तिम पराजय थी। उसके साम्राज्य की दक्षिणी सीमा नर्वदा नदी तक ही सीमित रह गई। इस शानदार विजय से पुलकेशिन द्वितीय की प्रतिष्ठा में वृद्धि हुई और उसने ‘परमेश्वर’ की उपाधि धारण की। यह युद्ध 620 ई० में हुआ था।”
हर्ष ने सिंध, कश्मीर, नेपाल, कामरूप (असम) और गंजम प्रदेशों को जीत लिया था। इन विजयों के फलस्वरूप सारा उत्तरी भारत हिमालय से लेकर दक्षिण में नर्वदा नदी तक तथा पूर्व में असम से लेकर पश्चिम में सिंध, पंजाब एवं बल्लभी अथवा गुजरात तक हर्ष के अधीन आ गये। उसके साम्राज्य में बंगाल, बिहार, उड़ीसा, मालवा, बल्लभी, कन्नौज, थानेश्वर और पूर्वी पंजाब के प्रदेश शामिल थे। राहुल सांकृत्यायन अपनी पुस्तक ‘वोल्गा से गंगा’ पृ० 242-43 पर लिखते हैं कि “सम्राट् हर्षवर्धन की एक महाश्वेता नामक रानी पारसीक (फारस-ईरान) के बादशाह नौशेखाँ की पोती थी और दूसरी कादम्बरी नामक रानी सौराष्ट्र की थी।”
हर्ष एक सफल विजेता ही नहीं बल्कि एक राजनीतिज्ञ भी था। उसने चीन तथा फारस से राजनीतिक सम्बन्ध स्थापित कर रखे थे। हर्ष एक महान् साम्राज्य-निर्माता, महान् विद्वान् व साहित्यकार था। इसकी तुलना अशोक, समुद्रगुप्त तथा अकबर जैसे महान् शासकों से की जाती है। हर्षवर्धन की इस महत्ता का कारण केवल उसके महान् कार्य ही नहीं हैं वरन् उसका उच्च तथा श्रेष्ठ चरित्र भी है। हर्ष आरम्भ में शिव का उपासक था और बाद में बौद्ध धर्म का अनुयायी बन गया था। इसकी कन्नौज की सभा एवं प्रयाग की सभा बड़ी प्रसिद्ध है। हर्ष हर पांचवें वर्ष प्रयाग अथवा इलाहाबाद में एक सभा का आयोजन करता था। सन् 643 ई० में बुलाई गई सभा में ह्यूनसांग ने भी भाग लिया था। इस सभा में पांच लाख लोगों तथा 20 राजाओं ने भाग लिया। इस सभा में जैन, बौद्ध और ब्राह्मण तथा सभी सम्प्रदायों को दान दिया गया। यह सभा 75 दिन तक चलती रही। इस अवसर पर हर्ष ने पांच वर्षों में एकत्रित किया सारा धन दान में दे दिया, यहां तक कि उसके पास अपने वस्त्र भी न रहे। उसने अपनी बहिन राज्यश्री से एक पुराना वस्त्र लेकर पहना। चीनी यात्री ह्यूनसांग 15 वर्ष तक भारतवर्ष में रहा। वह 8 वर्ष हर्ष के साथ रहा। उसकी
जाट वीरों का इतिहास: दलीप सिंह अहलावत, पृष्ठान्त-245
पुस्तक सि-यू-की हर्ष के राज्यकाल को जानने का एक अमूल्य स्रोत है।
हर्षवर्धन ने विशाल हरयाणा सर्वखाप पंचायत की स्थापना की। इसके लेख प्रमाण चौ० कबूलसिंह मन्त्री सर्वखाप पंचायत गांव शोरम जि० मुजफ्फरनगर के घर में हैं। सन् 647 ई० में इस प्रतापी सम्राट हर्षवर्धन का निस्सन्तान स्वर्गवास हो गया और उसका साम्राज्य विनष्ट हो गया।
इनसे मिलने के लिये आने वाला वंगहुएंत्से के नेतृत्व में चीनी राजदूतदल मार्ग में ही था कि उत्तराधिकारी विहीन वैस साम्राज्य पर ब्राह्मण सेनापति अर्जुन ने अधिकार करने के लिए प्रयत्न प्रारम्भ कर दिया किन्तु वंगहुएंत्से ने तिब्बत की सहायता से अर्जुन को बन्दी बनाकर चीन भेज दिया।
डूंडिया खेड़ा - सम्राट् हर्षवर्धन के वंशधरों की सत्ता कन्नौज से समाप्त होने के पश्चात् डूंडिया खेड़ा में स्थिर हुई। वहां प्रजातन्त्री रूप से इनकी स्थिति सन् 1857 ई० तक सुदृढ़ रही। दशवीं शताब्दी में अवध में सत्ताप्राप्त वैस लोगों ने अपने आप को राजपूत घोषित कर दिया। इन लोगों से अवध का रायबरेली जिला भरा हुआ है। जनपद के रूप में इनका वह प्रदेश वैसवाड़ा के नाम पर प्रसिद्ध है। वैस वंशियों की सुप्रसिद्ध रियासत डूंडिया खेड़ा को अंग्रेजों ने इनकी स्वातन्त्र्यप्रियता से क्रुद्ध होकर ध्वस्त करा दिया था। इसके बाद वैसवंश का महान् पुरुष सर राजा रामपालसिंह कुर्री सुदौली नरेश था।
पंजाब में वैसों की संख्या अवध से भी अधिक है जो कि सिक्खधर्मी हैं। श्रीमालपुर जो हर्ष के पूर्वजों का निवासस्थान है और उसके समीप 12 बड़े गांव जाटसिक्ख वैसों के हैं। जालन्धर, होशियारपुर, लुधियाना जिलों में जाटसिक्ख वैसों के कई गांव हैं।
फगवाड़ा से 7 मील दूर वैसला गांव से हरयाणा और यू० पी० के वैस जाटों का निकास माना जाता है। लुधियाना की समराला तहसील मुसकाबाद, टपरिया, गुड़गांव में दयालपुर, हिसार में खेहर, लाथल, मेरठ में बहलोलपुर, विगास, गुवांदा और बुलन्दशहर में सलेमपुर गांव वैस जाटों के हैं। यह सलेमपुर गांव सलीम (जहांगीर) की ओर से इस वंश को दिया गया था। फलतः 1857 ई० में इस गांव के वैसवंशज जाटों ने सम्राट् बहादुरशाह के समर्थन में अंग्रेजों के विरुद्ध भारी युद्ध किया। अंग्रेजों ने इस गांव की रियासत को तोपों से ध्वस्त करा दिया। बिहार के आरा जिले के विशनपुरा के वैस प्रान्तभर में प्रसिद्धि प्राप्त हैं। छपरा में भी कुछ गांव वैस राजपूतों के हैं।
महाराजा हर्षवर्धन और हरियाणा सर्वखाप पंचायत
महाराजा हर्षवर्धन (थानेसर के राजा) ने अपनी बहन राज्यश्री को मालवा नरेश की कैद से छुड़ाने में खाप पंचायत की सहायता मांगी थी जिसके लिए खापों के चौधरियों ने मालवा पर चढाई करने के लिए हर्ष की और से युद्ध करने के लिए 30000 मल्ल और 10000 वीर महिलाओं की सेना भेजी थी. खाप की सेना ने राज्यश्री को मुक्त कराकर ही दम लिया. 
महाराजा हर्षवर्धन ने सन 643 में जाट क्षत्रियों को एकजुट करने के लिए कन्नौज शहर में विशाल सम्मलेन कराया था वह सर्वखाप पंचायत ही थी जिसका नाम 'हरियाणा सर्वखाप पंचायत' रखा गया था चूँकि उन दिनों विशाल हरियाणा उत्तर में सतलज नदी तक, पूर्व में देहरादून, बरेली, मैनपुरी तथा तराई एरिया तक, दक्षिण में चम्बल नदी तक और पश्चिम में गंगानगर तक फैला हुआ था. सर्वखाप के चार केंद्र थानेसर, दिल्ली, रोहतक और कन्नौज बनाये गए थे. इस सर्वखाप पंचायत में करीब 300 छोटी-बड़ी पालें, खाप और संगठन शामिल थे. पंचायत ने थानेसर सम्राट हर्षवर्धन का कनौज के राजा के रूप में राज्याभिषेक किया. सम्राट हर्ष ने वैदिक विधि विधान से सर्वखाप पंचायत का गठन किया. इससे पूर्व विभिन्न खापों के विभिन्न स्वरुप, संविधान और कार्य करने के तौर तरीके अलग-अलग थे. 
Prabhakar Vardhan, the ruler of Thanesar, who belonged to the Bains or Virk family, extended his control over all other feudatories. Prabhakar Vardhan had two sons - Rajya Vardhan and Harshavardhan and one daughter - Rajyasri.
[Note: As per Bana's harshacharita and Harsha's inscriptional records we have the founder as Pushpabhuti followed by Naravardhana= wife Vajrinidevi, Rajyavardhana-I=wife Apsarodevi, Adityavardhana= wife Mahasenaguptadevi, Prabhakaravardhana=wife Yashomatidevi, Rajyavardhana-IIand Harshavardhana.There is no question of calling any of these kings as Virk. Even their Malava connection is unproved.The Pushpabhutis appear to have ruled as feudataries of the Guptas to begin with. They must have had to work under the Hunas for some time and must have filled the gap in the Thanesar region to begin with on the decline of the gupta supremacy and demise of the Huna rule.Drssrana2003]
After Prabhakar Vardhan’s death in 606 AD, his eldest son, Rajya Vardhan, ascended the throne. Harsha Vardhana was Rajyavardhan’s younger brother.On getting the news that Devagupta, the king of Malawa, combining with the Gauda king Shashanka had attacked and killed the Maukhari ruler Grahavarman, the husband of her sister, Rajyashri Rajyavardhana immediately left Thanesar for Kannauj. In a war with the above enemies he defeated Devagupta. But by a combined statagem of the two he was invited to their camp for an agrement and was instead put to sword unaware.The above incident related by Banabhatta in his Harshacharita is testified by the Banskheda and Madhuban Copper Plate Inscriptions of Harshavardhana. Rajyavardhana is described as paramsaugata in the above inscriptions.Drssrana2003
Rajya Vardhan’s and Harsha’s sister Rajyasri had been married to the Maukhari king, Grahavarman. This king, some years later, had been defeated and killed by king Deva Gupta of Malwa and after his death Rajyasri had been cast into prison by the victor. Harsha's brother, Rajya Vardhan, then the king at Thanesar, could not stand this affront on his family, marched against Deva Gupta and defeated him. But it happened just at this moment that Sasanka, king of Gauda in Eastern Bengal, entered Magadha as a friend of Rajya Vardhana, but in secret alliance with the Malwa king. Accordingly Sasanka treacherously murdered Rajya Vardhan. On hearing about the murder of his brother, Harsha resolved at once to march against the treacherous king of Gauda and killed Deva Gupta in a battle. Harsha Vardhan ascended the throne at the age of 16.
Harsha's empire was at its greatest extent in his times. Though quite a young man when he came to power, Harsha proved himself a great conqueror and an able administrator. After his accession, Harsha united the two kingdoms of Thanesar (Kurukshetra) and Kannauj and transferred his capital from Thanesar to Kannauj.
Harsha defeated Sasank, the ruler of Bengal. He also brought the Eastern Panjab (present day Haryana), Bengal, Bihar and Orissa under his control. He conquered Dhruvasena of Gujarat and married his daughter to him. He also conquered Ganjam, a part of the modern Orissa State.
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 Karnataka. Pulakesin defeated the Harsha army on the Banks of the River Narmada in 620 AD. A truce was arrived at the River Narmada that marked the river as the southern boundary of Harshas kingdom.
Administration of Harsha
Harsha ruled with the assistance of the Jat republics of North India. The areas he conquered paid him revenue, and sent soldiers when he was fighting wars. They accepted his sovereignty, but remained rulers over their own kingdoms.
After the fall of the Gupta Empire, there prevailed a state of chaos and confusion in India. It was Harshavardhan who removed this state of chaos and confusion, and built up a vast empire, which included almost the entire of northern India. According to Hiuen Tsang people were happy and prosperous during his reign and the administration was quite efficient. Harsha was a popular king. For the welfare of the people he had constructed roads, opened schools and got planted trees on both the sides of the road.
Harsha's administration was based on the traditional administrative system. It can be said that his administrative system was like that of the Guptas
King: King occupied the highest position in the administration, king used to adopt the titles of Parm-bhattarak (परमभट्टारक), Parmeshwara (परमेश्वरः), Paramdevata (परमदेवता), Maharajadhiraja (महाराजाधिराजः), etc. The king was autocrat and absolutely enjoyed the supreme position in the state. But the kings were always eater to wing popularity and hence never misused their unlimited powers in the field of liberality and charity no king can equal him much less surpass him the king appointed Samantas and other officers, he was the highest judicial authority on the earth and king was considered equal to god. Bana has described Harsha as the incarnation of all the gods. He led the army in the battlefield Harsha made a tour of the whole country for the welfare of the people. Like Ashoka, he was ever prepared to work for the good and welfare of the people.
Officers: There were several ministers to help Harsha in the administration. They were called Sachiva (सचिव) or Amatya (अमात्य). The chief Sachiva of Harsha was Bhandi and Sandhivigrahak (सन्धिविग्रहकः) was Avami. Sighavad was his Senapti. Skanda Gupta was also one of the ministers who were the Senapati of elephants wing of army. It can be learnt from Madhuban inscription that governor was called Rajasthaniya, vishayapati i.e. head of the district, and Uparika i.e. head of the province.
Kumaramatya were other officers.
There were other officers like:-
- Mahasandhivigradhikrita (महासन्धिविग्रहधिकृतः) i.e. minister of war and peace.
- Mahabaladhikrita (महाबलधिकृतः) i.e. officer in supreme command in the area.
- Baladhikari (बलधिकारी) i.e. senapati or commander
- Brihadavavara (बृहदवव्रः) i.e. head cavalry officer.
- Katuka (कतुकः) i.e. commandant of the elephant force.
- Pathi (पथी) i.e. superintendent of soldiers barracks.
- Chata-bhata i.e. irregular and regular soldiers.
- Yama-cetis i.e. women watchers at night.
- Duta (दूतः) i.e. ambassador.
- Rajasthaniya (राजस्थानीयः) i.e. foreign secretary.
- Kumaramatya (कुमारामात्यः) i.e. counsellor of the prince.
- Uparika i.e. official title of the governor of province.
- Visahyapati i.e. the head of a visya or modern district.
- Daussadhanika i.e. suprintendent of villages
- Bhogika (भोगिकः) or Bhogapati (भोगपतिः) i.e. one responsible for the collection of state produce.
- Mahapratihara (महाप्रतिहारः) i.e. chief warden, Mimansak i.e. justice,
- Akshapattalika (अक्षपत्तालिकः)
- Dutuka i.e. keepers of the records.
- These names show that Harsha's administration was more or less on the lines of Gupta administration.
Army: Harsha had built up a vast empire. The safety and security of such an empire needed a big army. It is due to this reason that Harsha had paid his special attention to the maintenance of this huge and strong army. The basis of recruitment in the army was bravery and merit. The profession of a soldier had become hereditary. The son of a soldier also joined the army as a soldier. According to Hiuentsang, Harsha's army consisted of 6,000 elephants and 1,00,000 cavalry. There were also a large number of camels in his army. The Samantas and the friendly kings also provided bands of soldiers. For example Kamrupa king had met Harsha along with 2000 elephants. According to Bana, Harsha received a large number of elephants in gifts from Samanta kings. Horses were purchased from Sindh, Afghanistan and Persia.
Infantry, cavalry and elephants were the three main branches of Harsha's army. The use of chariots was not prevalent. Some of the inscriptions of that time make mention of naval forces also but it is not know much about them. Mahasandhivigrahadhikrita was the chief officer of the military department. He was entitled to make war and also settled peace. Mahabaladhikrita was the officer who organized the army. The officers known as Baladhikrita, Senapati, Patasvapati, Katukapati etc. worked under the subordination of Mahabaladhikrita.
Police department: The police department of Harsha was very efficient. It worked like modern police department. The names of the officers of this department are somewhat similar to the officers of the Gupta period.
Some of the officers of the police department can be mentioned as follows:
- Cruiurodvaranika, and
Intelligence department: There was fine system of spies who turned throughout the state and secretly detected the crimes.
Provincial administration: The Empire of Harsha was divided into several provinces, which were known as Bhukti. These Bhuktis were further divided into visayas i.e. districts and visayas were divided into several Pathakas i.e. tehsils. Village was the smallest unit of administration; the provincial ruler or head of the province was also called something. The visaya was called visayapati. There were Dandika or Jrodvaranika, Dandapasika. etc. to help the rulers of province and district.
Village administration: The head of the village was called gramika. An official called Mahattar was appointed to look after the village. He used to be either some salaried officer or some respectable man. Bana has referred to an officer called Agraharika who probably looked after the lands given in charity. Akshapata-lika was like the modern Patavari. However, Gramika and Asthakula adhikari were the chief officers of the village administration. According to Dr. Basaka Asthakuladhikaran was empowered to inspect as many as eight small departments.
Crime and punishment: Punishment were severe and very strict in Harsha's reign. Like Mauryan period severe punishment were awarded to criminals. As compared to Gupta period there were more cases of crimes. Roads and rivers etc. were not safe to travel. Yuan Chwang himself was robbed twice. Persons who committed crime against the king were sentenced of life imprisonment. According to Hiuen Tsang, "For offences against social morality and disloyal and unofficial conduct, the punishment is to cut off the nose, or an ear or a hand, or a foot or to banish the offender to another country or into the wilderness. Minor offences were dealt with fines. Ordeal by fire, water, weighing were the instruments to determine the innocence or guilt of a person."
Sources of income:
Following were the main sources of income
- (1) Udranga i.e. a type of land revenue.
- (2) Uparikara i.e. taxes besides the regular fines.
- (3) Hirenya i.e. gold, and
- (4) Ordinances.
Goods of daily requirements were also taxes. Taxes were levied on the sale of the goods. Money was also realized by imposing fines. The ferries and barriers stations were also subject to taxation and fetched a lot of state revenue. The rate of land tax was one-sixth of the total produce. Mines and buried treasures were considered as the property of the king.
Consequently it can be seen that Harsha's reign was significant from the point of view of administration. The officials, it appears, were not paid salaries in cash. Instead, they were given land as payment for their services.
Note - Source of information on Administration of Harsha is Administration of Harsha
Religion and Literature
The Banskhera, Nalanda and Sonepat Inscriptions of Harsha describe him as a worshipper of Siva. Harsha was a tolerant ruler and supported all faiths - Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism. Early in his life he himself followed the Vedic religion, which included Sun Worship before he converted to Buddhism. His sister Rajyashri followed Buddhism. When he became a Buddhist he convened a conference at Kanauj. Here the doctrines of Mahayana were propagated with utmost precision. This assembly, according to Hiuen-tsang, was attended by eithteen kings and three thousand monks and continued for eighteen days. Another such event during Harsha's reign was the Quinquennial distribution ceremony at Prayaga. Harsha performed five such ceremonies in his last thirty years. He used to distribute all the treasures accumulated during the last five years in these ceremonies.
According to the Chinese Pilgrim Hsuan Tsang who Harsha built numerous Stupas in the name of Buddha. Hsuan Tsang entered a a grand competition orgranized by Harsha and won the theological debate. Harsha also became a patron of art and literature. He made numerous endowments to the University at Nalanda. Two seals of Harsha have been found in Nalanda in the course of the excavations. All these favours and donations of the great emperor were crowned by the construction of a lofty wall enclosing all the buildings of the university to defend the institution from any other possible attack. In 643 he held a Buddhist convocation at Kanauj which was reputedly attended by 20 kings and thousands of pilgrims.
Harsha was a noted author on his own merit. He wrote three Sanskrit plays – Nagananda, Ratnavali and Priyadarsika.
His reign is comparatively well documented, thanks to his court poet Bana and Hsuan Tsang. Bana composed an account of Harsha's rise to power in Harshacharita. Hieun Tsang wrote a full description of his travels in India in his book SI-YU-KI.
Learning and education got royal patronage during this period. Nalanda university had more than ten thousand students. Harsha had given hundred villages in donation to this University
Harsha died in the year 647 AD. He ruled over India for 41 years. 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 documented, but it marks the culmination of a process that had begun with the invasion of the Huns in the last years of the Gupta Empire.
A newly discovered copper-plate grant, dated year 8 of the Harsa era (A.D. 614–15), along with the seal, of maharajadhiraja Harsavardhana of the Pusyabhuti dynasty, has been deciphered, edited and studied for the first time. Discovered in a village in the Nabha district, Punjab, the inscription is the earliest of the three known epigraphs of this ruler and the only one from Punjab. The other two—the Banskhera copper-plate (year 22) and the Madhuban copper-plate (year 25) are from Uttar Pradesh. This is the only one of Harsa's inscriptions that has been discovered along with the seal that was attached to it. The grant refers to the donation of a village named Pannarangaka in the Darikkani visaya of the Jayarata bhukti to a Brahmin named Ulukhasvamin of Bhargava gotra for the increase of merit and fame of Harsa's parents and elder brother Rajyavardhana.
Hukam Singh Pawar (Pauria) states: The companion princes of Harshavardhana, i.e. Kumaragupta III and Madhavagupta belonged to the Mallava tribe (Malloi) and Bhandi was a Poni 104. Mahasenagupta, the mother of Prabhakarvardhana, the grand-mother of Harsha, was a princess of the Gupta (Dharana) lineage105 . King Grahavarman, husband of Rajyashri was a Maukhari 106. The Jats have among them the Kuntals, Mall or Malli; Poni or Punia or Paunyas, Dharanas as well as Mukharis or Mokharias. This does not seem to be a mere coincidence.
Chronology of the Pushpabhuti Dynasty
The Madhuban Plate inscriptions give the names of the first three rulers of this dynasty as
They used the title only of Maharaja. Little is known about these three kings. It seems that they were feudatories either of the Guptas or the Hunas or of both of them at different times. They also remained under the Maukharis for some time. These three kings ruled during the period AD 510-580. The next ruler of this dynasty was Parbhakarvardhan who came to the throne in 580 AD.
Sonepat Copper Seal Inscription of Harshavardhana gives names of rulers of this dynasty as under:
- Rajyavardhana II+Harshavardhana
Sonepat Copper Seal Inscription of Harshavardhana of year 22
(There was). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . the most devout worshipper of the Sun, the Mahârâja, the illustrious Râjyavardhana (I.) His son, [who meditated on] his feet, (was) the most devout worshipper of the Sun, the Mahârâja, the illustrious Âdityavardhana, [begotten] on the illustrious Mahâdêvî (?). His [son, who meditated on his feet, (was). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . the most devout worshipper of the Sun, the Paramabhattâraka and Mahârâjâdhirâja, the glorious Prabhâkaravardhana, begotten on the Dêvî, [the illustrious] Mahâsênaguptâ,. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(and) who was employed in regulating all the castes and stages of religious life. His son, who meditated on his feet, (was) the most devout follower of Sugata, the Paramabhattâraka and Mahârâjâdhirâja, the glorious Râjyavardhana (II.) begotten on . . . . . . . . . . . . . . the glorious Yashômatî. [His younger brother], who meditated on [his feet], (is) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . the [Paramabhattâraka and] Mahârâjâdhirâja, the glorious Harshavardhana, [begotten] on the Mahâdêvî, Yashômatî. 
Madhuban plate of Harsha of year 25
|Madhuban plate of Harsha of year 25|
This plate was discovered, in January 1888, in a field near the village of Madhuban in the paragana Nathupur of the tahsil Sagri, in the Azamgarh district of the Benares division of the United Provinces, and is now in the Provincial Museum of Lucknow. The inscription which it contains has been already edited, by the late Professor Buhler, in Ep. Ind. VoL I. p. 67 ff. As it is desirable to issue a facsimile of the plate, I re-edit the inscription from impressions that were furnished to Dr. Hultzsch by the late Mr. E. W. Smith.
This is a single copper-plate, about 1' 8" broad by 1' 3/4" high, and inscribed on one side only. Judging from the impressions, a seal was soldered on to the middle of the proper right aide of -fee plate, just as is the case with the Banskhera plate of Harsha and the three plates of the Maharajas of Mahodaya, but it must have got detached from the plate and has not been discovered. In the upper part and on the proper left side the plate has suffered somewhat from corrosion, but the writing throughout is so deeply engraved that on the back of the impressions every letter of the 18 lines which the plate contains may be read with absolute certainty. The size of the letters is about 5/16 ". The characters belong to the north-western class of alphabets in general, they closely resemble those given (from the Lakkha Mandal inscription, North. Inscr. No. 600).
The inscription is a charter of the well-known king Harsha or Harshavardhana, the hero of Bana's Harshacharita, who ruled part of Northern India at the commencement of the 7th century A.D.by -which the village of Somakundaka (सौमकुंण्डक), in the Kunadhani (कुंण्डधानी) vishaya of the Sravasti Bhukti, which had been previously held by a Brahman on the strength of a forged charter, -was granted to two other Brahmans. The king's order was issued from the royal residence or camp of Kapitthikā , and is dated on the 6th of the dark half of the month Margasirsha of the year 25 (apparently of the king's reign1). The actual order is preceded by the genealogy of Harsha, in the course of which it is stated that his immediate predecessor, his elder brother Rajyavardhana, after defeating Devagupta and other kings, was treacherously slain in his enemy's quarters. On this event and on the genealogy generally it is now unnecessary to comment.
Of the localities mentioned in the inscription, Kapitthika apparently is the Kie-pi-tha (Kapittha) of Hiuen-Tsiang, which, again, is the same as Samkasya, identified by the late Sir A. Cunningham as the modern Sankisa, on. the Kalinadi river, about 40 miles north-west of Kannauj. And Sravasti, after which the Sravasti-bhukti was called, is the modern Sahet-Mahet in the Gonda district of Oadh. Kuṇḍadhānī, from which the Kundadhani-vishaya received its name, and the village of Somakundaka have not been identified.
Madhuban plate of Harsha : English translation
(Line 1) Om Hail !
From the great Royal residence of the victory, (furnished) with boats, elephants and horses -
(There was) the Maharaja Naravardhana, begotten of Vajriṇīdevi, his son, who meditated on his feet, (was) the devout worshipper of the Sun, the Maharaja Rajyavardhana I.
Begotten on Apsarodevi, his son, who meditated on his feet, (was) the devout worshipper of the Sun, the Maharaja Adityavardhana. Begotten on Mahasenaguptadevi, his son, who meditated on his feet, (was) the devout worshipper of the Sun, the Paramabhattaraka Maharajadhiraja Prabhakaravardhana whose fame crossed the four oceans; before whom other kings bowed down on account of his prowess and out of affection for him ; who wielded his power for the due maintenance of the castes and orders of life, (and) who, like the sun, relieved the distress of the people. Begotten on the queen of spotless fame Yashomati, his son, who meditated on his feet, (was) the devout worshipper of Sugata (Buddha)- like Sugata solely delighting in the welfare of others - the Paramabhattaraka Maharajadhiraja Rajyavardhana II, the tendrils of whose bright fame overspread the whole orb of the earth; who appropriated the glory of Dhanada, Varuna, Indra and the other guardian (deities) of the world; who gladdened the hearts of suppliants by many donations of wealth and land acquired in righteous ways, (and) who surpassed the conduct of former kings.
He in battle curbed Devagupta and all the other kings together, like vicious horses made to ton away from the lashes of the whip. Having uprooted his adversaries, having conquered the earth, having acted kindly towards the people, he through his trust in promises lost his life in the enemy's quarters.
(L. 8. ) His younger brother, who meditates on his feet, the devout worshipper of Maheshvara (Siva)- like Maheshvara taking compassion on all beings- the Paramabhattaraka Maharajadhiraja Harsha issues this command to the Mahāsūmanias, Mahārājas, Danḥsādhusādhanikas, Paramātāras, Rājasthānīyas, Kumāramātyas, Uparikas, Vishayapatis, regular soldiers, servants and others assembled at the village of Somakundaka ,which belongs to the Kundadhani vishaya in the Sravasti bhukti, and to the resident people-
(L. 10.) Be it known to you ! Having ascertained that this village of Somakuṇḍaka was held by the brahmana Vāmarathya on the strength of a forged charter, I therefore have broken that charter and taken (the village) away from him, and, for the increase of the spiritual merit and and fame of my father, the Paramabhattaraka Maharajadhiraja Prabhakaravardhanadeva, of my mother, the Paramabhattarika Mahadevi, the .... Yashomatidevi and of my revered eldest brother, the Paramabhattaraka Maharajadhiraja Rajyavardhanadeva have given in the .... of a donation (to brahmans), as an agrahāra, extending to its proper boundaries, with the udranga, together with all income that might be claimed by the king's family, exempt from all obligations, as a piece taken out of the district (to which it belongs), to follow the succession of sons and sons' sons, for as long as the moon, the sun and the earth endure, according to the maxim of bhūmichchhidra - to the Bhatta Vatasvamin, who is of the gotra, of Sāvarṇi and a student of the Chhandogas, and the Bhatta Sivadeyasvamin who is of the gotra of Vishnuvriddha and a fellow-student of the Bahvrichas. Knowing this, you should assent to this, and the resident people, being ready to obey my commands, should make over these two, the tulya-meya, the share of the produce, payments in money and income, as they may be due, and should render service to them. Moreover :
(L. 16.) Those who profess (to belong to) the noble line of our family and others should approve of this donation. Of fortune, unstable as lightning and a bubble of water, donations and the preservation of others' fame are the (real) fruit.
By deeds, thoughts and words one should do good to the living. This Harsha has declared to be the very best way of earning religious merit.
(L. 17.) The dūtaka in this matter is the Mahāparamātāra Mahāsāmanta, the illustrious Skandagupta. And by order of the great officer in charge of the office of records, the Samanta Maharaja Isvaragupta, (this was) engraved by Garjara.
The year 20 5 Mārgasīrsha-vadi 6.
- Sankisa - Sankisa is located about 47 km from Farrukhabad. It is believed to be the place where Buddha, along with Brahma and Devraj Indra descended after giving sermons to his mother in heaven. At the spot of descent stands a temple with a statue of Buddha. The place is also known for a temple dedicated to Bisari Devi and an excavated Ashokan elephant pillar. There is also colossal Shiva Linga here. A large fair is held at Sankisa in the month of Shraavana (July-August) every year.
- Kapitthika - Kaytha (कायथा) or Kayatha (कायथा)is an ancient historcal village in Tarana tahsil of Ujjain district in Madhya Pradesh. Its ancient name was Kâpitthaka (कपित्थक). This village was the birth place and the place where Varahamihira (वराहमिहिर) (505 - 587) received enlightenment. (See - Kaytha)
- Kuṇḍadhānī & Somakundaka - Kuṇḍadhānī, from which the Kundadhani-vishaya received its name, and the village of Somakundaka have not been identified. We think they are related with Kundu Jats. There is need to further research the matter.
- Khap - Line 17 of the inscription tells us that this inscription was installed by the order of the great officer in charge of the office of records, the Samanta Maharaja Isvaragupta. Title used here is महाक्षप meant for the incharge of a Khap.
- The Harsha Charita of Bana - The complete book on Harshavardhana by Bababhatta on Jatland wiki
- Aihole Inscription of Pulikeshin II
- Risthal Inscription of Prakashadharman (515 AD) - A very recent stone inscription discovery of Prakashadharman Aulikara.
- RN Kundra & SS Bawa, History of Ancient and Medieval India
- Bhim Singh Dahiya: Jats, the Ancient Rulers, A clan study in the Pre Islamic period, 1982, Sterling Publishers New Delhi
- Thakur Deshraj, Jat Itihas (Hindi), Maharaja Suraj Mal Smarak Shiksha Sansthan, Delhi, 1934, 2nd edition 1992 page 87-88.
- Alexander Cunningham, History of Sikhs
- Sri-harsha-charita, trans. Cowell and Thomas (1897)
- Ettinghausen, Harsha Vardhana (Louvain, 1906).
- Political and Social history of the Jats, Dr B K Dabas,2001 Sanjay Prakashan, New Delhi, India
- Jat Ithihas- Thakur Deshraj, 1938, republished Surajmal Education Society, New Delhi India
- Jat Viron ka Itihaas, Dilip Singh Ahlawat, 1998, Mathan Press, Rohtak, India
- Jats, The Ancient Rulers, Bhim Singh Dahiya. 1982, Sterling Punlishers, New Delhi
- Post-Gupta Kingdoms in North India
- Buddhist Heritage unearthed at Jat inhabitant areas in Indian sub-continent - Jatland Forums
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