Harsha (Kashmir)

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Harsha (हर्ष) (b.1059, ruled. 1089-1101 AD) was a king of Lohara dynasty in Kashmir. [1] According to Kalhana, Harsha was built like a god and was extremely handsome. Harsha's conduct has recently been a subject of discussion. Harsha started out as a capable and noble king, then ran into financial trouble because of his spending habits. For the gold, he started raiding temples and destroying statues.

The Damaras became riotous, and Harsha ordered the lord of Mandala to massacre them. [2]

Uchchala and Sussala sons of Malla rose against Harsha. [3]

Harsha's son Bhojadeva died before the king in rebellion. [4]

Uchchala, who had been, to Hiranyapura, was coronated by Brahmanas there.[5]

Harsha spent his last days in great sorrow and was killed by Damaras.[6]

Harshadeva in the Genealogy of Nara

Rajatarangini[7] provides us following Genealogy of Nara:

Genealogy of Nara, King of Darvabhisara

Formerly at Darvvabhisara there lived a king named Nara of the Gotra of Bharadvaja, who had a son named Naravahana, and Naravahana had a son named Phulla. Phulla had a son named Sarthavahana, his son was Chandana, and Chandana had two sons, Gopala and Sinharaja, Sinharaja had several children, his daughter Didda was married to Kshemagupta. Didda made Sanggramaraja (son of her brother Udayaraja) king. She had another brother, Kantiraja, and he had a son named Jassaraja, Sanggramaraja had a son named Ananta, while of Jassaraja were born Tanvangga and Gungga. Ananta's son was Kalasharaja, and of Gungga was born Malla. Kalasha's son is king Harshadeva, and Malla's sons were Uchchala and Sussala.

Harsha in Rajatarangini

Kalhana's Rajatarangini gives an interesting account of Harsha. Kalhana's father Champaka was a minister of Harsha. Kalhana wrote during the time of Jayasimha (AD 1127-59).

He destroyed both Hindu and Buddhist temples, and is credited with creating an office of "devotpaatana-nayaka", destroyer of gods. In Kalhana's time, Buddhism was flourishing in Kashmir, and was not considered a distinct religion from "Hinduism". He refers to Buddhists' idols just like Brahmnaical ones. Kalhana was very familiar with Buddhism, and mentions Buddhist concepts accurately. Buddhism appears to have survived in Kashmir for a long time. It has been suggested that somewhere at Baramulla a Buddhist monk was present until the 14th century. Abul-Fazl, author of Ain-e-Akabari was able to locate Buddhists in Kashmir.

King Harsha appears to have become insane. From Taranaga VII (Stein's translation):

1128: Other parasites plundered him by showing an old woman and saying: "There, we have brought your mother Bappika from heaven".
1129: Others brought slave girls before him and said they were goddesses. He worshipped them, and abandaning his exalted position and wealth was laughed at by people.
1148: He had carnal intercourse with his sisters, and angered by a harsh word he punished and violated Naga, the daughter of his father's sister."

It has been suggested that he had been influenced by Turushkas:

1149: While continually supporting the Turushka captains-of-hundreds with money, this perverse-minded [king] ate domesticated pigs until his death.

Here Kalhana appears be to stating that Harsha did not even follow the religion of the people he was favoring. He however does call Harsha "that Turushka":

1095. There was not one temple in a village, town or in the city which was not despoiled of its images by that Turushka, king Harsha.
1096. Only two chief divine images were respected by him, the illustrious Ranaswamin in the City, and Martanda [among the images] in townships.
1097-97. Among colossal images, two statues of Buddha were saved through requests addressed by chance to the king at a time when he was free with his favors, namely the one a Parihasapura by the singer Kanaka, who was born there and other in the City by Sramana (monk) Kusalsri.

The statue at Parihaspura was built by Lalitaditya Muktapida.

1203. He made the glorious [statue of] the Great Buddha which reached up to the sky.

Abul-fazl mentions that the temples of Parihasapura were finally destroyed by Sikandar Butshikan "Butshikast" (1389–1413).

There was a great fire in Srinagar during the reign of Sussala. All the buildings were burnt except the colossal Buddha:

1184: In the City, which was reduced to a heap of earth, there remained visible and aloft only the great Buddha, which blackened by smoke, and without its abode, resembled a burned tree.

That reminds one of the Great Buddha of Kamakura, the wooden temple of which was destroyed by a tidal wave. The temple of the Great Buddha of Nara was similarly destroyed by fire, but was later rebuilt. A colossal copper image of Buddha once stood in Nalanda, said by Xuanzang to have been 80 feet (24.6 m) tall. The great Buddhas of Kashmir may have been similar.

Harsha's son Bhoja

Rajatarangini[8] tells us that Bhojadeva, otherwise called Vupya, son of king Harsha, set out for battle in order to burn Kalasha built by Sussala. Harsha, who feared that his sons might turn against him as he had rebelled against his father, brought them up as weak and spiritless men.

The army of Sussala was defeated by prince Bhoja, and he fled from the battle to Lavanotsa.[9]

Rajatarangini[10] tells us that the during the rebellion of Damaras the prince Bhoja reached Hastikarna with two or three horsemen. While thus travelling, he fancied that the kingdom would be theirs again in five or six days, even if Indra were their enemy. He waited at Ranggavāta for his servant Nageshvara, to whom his mother gave provision for the journey. Hearing of his servant's approach, he issued from the empty temple where he was living, suspecting nothing; but he was attacked by the rebels. When the treason was discovered, the prince, true to his Kshetriya caste, displayed wonderful feats of bravery. After killing his enemies in battle, like a lion, he died the death of a hero, besmeared with blood.

Death of Harsha

Rajatarangini[11] tells us that Harsha died in the Kashmirian era seventy-seven, on the fifth day of the bright moon, in the mouth of Bhadra, aged forty-two years and eight months.

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