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Mihirakula (r.515-530 AD) was one of the most important Hephthalite emperors, whose empire was in the present-day territories of Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern and central India. Mihirakula was a son of Toramana, who was a ruler of the Indian part of the Hephthalite Empire. Mihirakula ruled over his empire from 515 to 530.[1]


The name "Mihirakula" is most likely of Iranian origin and may have the meaning "Mithra's Begotten", as translated by Janos Harmatta.[2] Cognates are also known from Sanskrit sources, though these are most likely borrowed from the neighbouring East Iranian languages.[3]


The 6th-century Alexandrian traveler Cosmas Indicopleustes states that the Hephthalites in India reached the zenith of its power under Mihirakula.[4] "The Record of the Western Regions" by the 7th-century Chinese traveler Hsüan-tsang describes Mihirakula as:

He was of quick tallent and naturally brave. He subdued all the neighboring provinces without exception.

The Gwalior inscription issued in the 15th regnal year of Mihirakula shows his territory at least included Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, central India. Mihirakula suffered a defeat by the Aulikara king Yasodharman of Malwa[5] in 528, and the Gupta emperor Narasimhagupta Baladitya who previously paid Mihirakula tribute. According to Hsüan-tsang, Mihirakula was taken as prisoner, and later released, but meanwhile the brother of Mihirakula had seized power over the Hephthalites. Mihirakula set off for Kashmir where the king received him with honor. After a few years Mihirakula incited a revolt against the king of Kashmir and seized his power. Then he invaded Gandhara located westward, and killed many of its inhabitants and destroyed its Buddhist shrines. But Mihirakula died shortly afterwards.[6]

Mihirakula is remembered in contemporary Indian and Chinese histories for his cruelty and his destruction of temples and monasteries, with particular hostility towards Buddhism. He claimed to be a worshipper of Shiva.

Ram Sarup Joon[7] writes that ...The Pehwa edict describes the rule of three Tomar kings. It is mentioned that they were the descendants of 'Jabala', the Hun who had ruled there before them- the third edict narrates the rule of Jabla Toraman.

There is an old saying in Rohilkhand that the Chief Toraman Kachwaha attacked Iran in 943 A.D. He conquered the territory from Iran to Bhopal. He constructed a fort at Gwalior. The descendants of Bhur Sen came to be called Kachhwaha in 945 A.D., and ruled Gwalior till 933 A.D., when Pratihars seized power. Therefore, if we accept this the Kachwaha Rajputs are the descendants of Torman, Jabla Gujars.

Charak Rai (the Bhat] who lived during the reign of Emperor Shah Jehan writes that the king of Iran was Torman. Shri Bhanderkar and General Cunningham and Mr. Smith all prove that Torman, Kachwaha and Pratihars are all descendants of Jabla Gujars. One of the edicts of Hun Chief Jabla was excavated in Malwa, at Mandsor, and is said to have been inscribed in 533 A.D.

According to this edict King Meharkul was the son of Torman, who was defeated and driven out by Yashodharaman.

In Rajatarangini

Rajatarangini[8] describes that in the list of Kings of Kashmir Mukula was succeeded by his son Mihirakula, who was as cruel as Death. Day and night were men murdered by his orders, even in places of his amusement ; he relented not even towards boys or women, nor inspected the aged;

[p.19]: and his presence and that of his army, were known by the assemblage of crows and vultures that feasted on the dead. Once he saw the breasts of his queen marked with foot-prints of a golden color. This enraged him, and he called for explanation from the keeper of the zenana. The keeper replied that the queen wore a boddice made of Ceylon cloth, and that the Cingalese marked their clothes with golden foot-marks which denoted tho foot-prints of their king. Whereupon he reached the Southern Sea and invaded Ceylon. He assuaged his anger by killing the king of tho place, set up another, a cruel man on his throne, and returned to his kingdom, bringing with him from Ceylon a picture of the sun named Ushadeva. On his return he passed through Chola, Karnata, Nata, &c. The kings of these places fled on his approach, and returned to their ravaged capitals after he had gone away. When entering Kashmira, one hundred of his elephants were startled by the cries of one elephant which had fallen into a den, and the king ordered the hundred elephants to be killed. As the touch of the sinful pollutes the body, so the narration of his history pollutes the speech. One day when he was descending in to the river Chandrakulya, on his way stood a heavy block of stone which could not he moved. Now, he dreamt a dream, after-wards, that the gods spoke unto him, and said, that a Yaksha, (a spirit,) resided in it, and that it could not be moved but by" a chaste woman. He then put his dream

[p.20]: to proof, and many a citizen's wife tried to move that stone in vain, till Chandravati, wife of a potter, aocomplished the feat. The king was enraged to find so many women unchaste ; he ordered them to be killed together with their husbands, sons and brothers, three kotis in all ! This action is lauded by some, but such massacre should be condemned. That the people did not rebel against their king and kill him, was because the gods defended him.

However he did some virtuous acts ; he set up the god Mihireshvara, named after him, in Shrhinagara, and founded a great city in Hola called Mihirapura after his name. He also bestowed some villages on the Brahmanas of Gandhara, who were equally vicious with tho king. Those Brahmanas were so shameless as to cohabit with their sisters and the wives of their sons. They were born of Mlechchhas. It is a wonder that such people over existed. They sold their wives as they did other articles, and their wives too were shameless enough to live with others. The rainy season pleases the peacocks, and a clear autumn pleases the hansas; so he who gives, and they who receive, are of the same temper. In his old age this terror of the world became infirm, and suffered from many maladies. He therefor caused a fire to be kindled, and voluntarily entered into the flame. And at the time of his death he heard heavenly voice proclaimed that even the king who killed three kotis of men entered heaven, for he was cruel to his own person.

[p.21]: Some say that his sins were palliated by his gift of villages. They say that when these Brahmanas of Darad who were born of Mlechchhas, and who sold their wives, spread themselves in the country, the king established many good rites and extended the Kingdom of the Aryas and performed hard tapa, and at last gave his body to the flames. He gave thousands of villages in Vijayeshvara to the Brahmanas of Gandhara. Thus died the king falling into tho fire which kindled on swords, rasors &c, and thus he expiated his sins. He reigned for seventy years.

Vaka : After his death the citizens raised his son Vaka, a very good prince, to the throne.

According to Rajatarangini[9] Mihirakula ruled from 735 BC - 665 BC.

Gwalior Stone Inscription of Mihirakula (ca. early 6th century CE)

  • [Ôm!] May he (the Sun) protect you, who is victorious,-dispelling the darkness of the banks of clouds with the masses of the multitude of his rays that light up the sky; (and) decorating the top of the side of the mountain of dawn with (his) horses, which have the tossing ends of (their) manes deshevelled through the fatigue (induced) by (their) startled gait;-(and) who,-having (his) chariot-wheels (?) swallowed (?)…………. The mountain of dawn; dispelling distress; (being) the light of the house which is the world; (and) effecting the destruction of night,-creates the fresh beauty of the waterlilies by (his) rays which are of the colour of molten gold!
  • (Line 2.)-(There was) a ruler of [the earth], of great merit, who was renowned by the name of the glorious Tôramâna; by whom, through (his) heroism that was specially characterised by truthfulness, the earth was governed with justice.
  • (L. 3.)-Of him, the fame of whose family has risen high, the son (is) he, of unequalled prowess, the lord of the earth, who is renowned under the name of Mihirakula, (and) who, (himself) unbroken, [broke the power of] Pasupati.
  • (L. 4.)-While [he], the king, the remover of distress, possessed of large and pellucid eyes, is governing the earth; in the augmenting reign, (and) in the fifteenth year, of (him) the best of kings; the month Kârttika, cool and fragrant with the perfume of the red and blue waterlilies that are caused to blossom by the smiles of the rays of the moon, having come; while the spotless moon is shining; and a very auspicious day,-heralded by the chiefs of the classes of the twice-born with the noise of the proclamation of a holy day, (and) possessed of the (proper) tithi and nakshatra and muhûrta,-having arrived;-
  • (L. 5.)-The son’s son of Matritula, and the son of Mâtridâsa, by the name Mâtrichêta, an inhabitant of ………… on the hill, has caused to be made, on the delightful temple, the chief among the best of temples, of the Sun, for the purpose of increasing the religious merit of (his) parents and of himself, and of those who, by the ……… of the king, dwell on this best of mountains.
  • (L. 7.)-Those who cause to be made an excellent house of the Sun, like in lustre to the rays of the moon,-their abode is in heaven, until the destruction of all things!
  • (L. 7.)-(This) very famous proclamation of the true religion has been composed through devotion to the Sun, by him who is renowned by the name of Kesava and by…. ditya.
  • (L. 8.)-As long as the moon shines on the thicket that is the knot of the braided hair of (the god) Sarva; and as long as the mountain Meru continues to have (its) slopes adorned by the feet of the nymphs of heaven; and as long as (the god) Vishnu bears the radiant (goddess) Srî upon (his) breast which is like a dark-blue cloud;-so long (this) chief of [stone]-temples shall stand upon the delightful summit of the hill!
  • From: Fleet, John F. Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum: Inscriptions of the Early Guptas. Vol. III. Calcutta: Government of India, Central Publications Branch, 1888, 163-164.

Mandasor Pillar Inscription of Yashodharman 532 AD

  • May that very long banner of (the god) Shûlapâni destroy the glory of your enemies; (that banner) which bears (a representation of) the bull (Nandi), marked by the five fingers (dipped in some dye and then) placed on him by (Parvati) the daughter of the mountain (Himalaya), who causes the distant regions, in which the demons are driven wild with fear by (his) terrible bellowings, to shake; (and) who makes the glens of (the mountain) Sumeru to have their rocks split open by the blows of his horns!
  • (Line 2.) He, to whose arm, as if (to the arm) of (the god) Shingapani, the fore-arm of which is marked with callous parts caused by the hard string of (his) bow, (and) which is steadfast in the successful carrying out of vows for the benefit of mankind, the earth betook itself (for succour), when it was afflicted by kings of the present age, who manifested pride; who were cruel through want of proper training; who, from delusion, transgressed the path of good conduct; (and) who were destitute of virtuous delights:
  • (L. 3.) He who, in this age which is the ravisher of good behaviour, through the action simply of (his good) intentions shone gloriously, not associating with other kings who adopted a reprehensible course of conduct, just as an offering of flowers (is beautiful when it is not laid down) in the dust; he in whom, possessed of a wealth of virtue, (and so) falling but little short of Manu and Bharata and Alarka and Mandhatri, the title of "universal sovereign" shines more (than in any other), like a resplendent level (set) in good gold:
  • (L. 4.) He who, spurning (the confinement of) the boundaries of his own house, enjoys those countries, thickly covered over with deserts and mountains and trees and thickets and rivers and strong-armed heroes, (and) having (their) kings assaulted by (his) prowess, which were not enjoyed (even) by the lords of the Guptas, whose prowess was displayed by invading the whole (remainder of the) earth, (and) which the command of the chiefs of the Hunas , that established itself on the tiaras of (many) kings, failed to penetrate:
  • (L. 5.) He before whose feet chieftains, having (their) arrogance removed by the strength of (his) arm, bow down, from the neighbourhood of the (river) Lauhitya up to (the mountain) Mahendra, the lands at the foot of which are impenetrable through the groves of palmyra-trees, (and) from (Himalaya) the mountain of snow, the tablelands of which are embraced by the (river) Ganga, up to the Western Ocean, by which (all) the divisions of the earth are made of various hues through the intermingling of the rays of the jewels in the locks of hair on the tops of (their) heads:
(L.6.) He by whom (his) head has never been brought into the humility of obeisance to any other save (the god) Sthanu; he, through the embraces of whose arms (Himalaya) the mountain of snow carries no longer the pride of the title of being a place that is difficult of access; he to whose two feet respect was paid, with complimentary presents of the flowers from the lock of hair on the top of (his) head, by even that (famous) king Mihirakula, whose forehead was pained through being bent low down by the strength of (his) arm in (the act of compelling) obeisance:
  • (L. 7.) By him, the king, the glorious Yashodharman, the firm beams of whose arms are as charming as pillars, this column, which shall endure to the time of the destruction of the world, has been erected here, as if to measure out the earth; as if to enumerate on high the multitude of the heavenly lights; (and) as if to point out the path of his own fame to the skies above, acquired by good actions; (this column) which shines refulgent, as if it were a lofty arm of the earth, raised up in joy to write upon the surface of the moon the excellence of the virtues of Yashodharman, to the effect that "His birth (is) in a lineage that is worthy to be eulogised; there is seen in him a charming behaviour that is destructive of sin; he is the abode of religion; (and) the (good) customs of mankind continue current, unimpeded (in any way) by him."
  • (L. 9.) From a desire thus to praise this king, of meritorious actions, (these) verses have been composed by V sula, the son of Kakka. (This eulogy) has been engraved by Govinda.
From: Fleet, John F. Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum: Inscriptions of the Early Guptas. Vol. III. Calcutta: Government of India, Central Publications Branch, 1888, 147-148.


  1. Rene Grousset(1970). The empire of the steppes - a history of central Asia, Rutgers, ISBN 0-8135-0627-1, p.71
  2. Janos Harmatta, "The Rise of the Old Persian Empire: Cyrus the Great," AAASH Acta Antiqua Acadamie Scientiarum Hungaricae 19, 197, pp. 4-15.
  3. Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin, Congrès International d&Etud. Études mithriaques: actes du 2e Congrès International, Téhéran, du 1er au 8 september 1975. p 293.
  4. Dani, Ahmad Hasan (1999). History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The crossroads of civilizations, A.D. 250 to 750. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. p. 142. ISBN 8120815408. Retrieved November 5, 2012.
  5. Ojha, N.K. (2001). The Aulikaras of Central India: History and Inscriptions, Chandigarh: Arun Publishing House, ISBN 81-85212-78-3, p.52
  6. Dani, Ahmad Hasan (1999). History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The crossroads of civilizations, A.D. 250 to 750. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. p. 142. ISBN 8120815408.
  7. Ram Sarup Joon: History of the Jats/ChapterVIII,p. 138
  8. Rajatarangini of Kalhana:Kings of Kashmira/Book I,pp.18-21
  9. Rajatarangini of Kalhana:Kings of Kashmira/List of Kings,p.xx