Harsha

Harsha

Overview
Harsha or Harsha Vardhana or Harshvardhan (हर्षवर्धन) (c. 590—647) was an India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n emperor who ruled northern India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 from 606 to 647 AD. He was the son of Prabhakara Vardhana and younger brother of Rajya Vardhana, a king of Thanesar
Thanesar
Thanesar is an old and historic town on the banks of the Sarsawati Ghaggar river in the state of Haryana in northern India. It is located in Kurukshetra District, approximately 160 km northwest of Delhi...

, Haryana
Haryana
Haryana is a state in India. Historically, it has been a part of the Kuru region in North India. The name Haryana is found mentioned in the 12th century AD by the apabhramsha writer Vibudh Shridhar . It is bordered by Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to the north, and by Rajasthan to the west and south...

. At the height of his power his kingdom spanned the Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

, Rajasthan
Rajasthan
Rājasthān the land of Rajasthanis, , is the largest state of the Republic of India by area. It is located in the northwest of India. It encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert , which has an edge paralleling the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with...

, Gujarat, Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

, Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

 and the entire Indo-Gangetic plain
Indo-Gangetic plain
The northern Plains also known as the Indo - Gangetic Plain and The North Indian River Plain is a large and fertile plain encompassing most of northern and eastern India, the most populous parts of Pakistan, parts of southern Nepal and virtually all of Bangladesh...

  north of the Narmada River
Narmada River
The Narmada , also called Rewa is a river in central India and the fifth largest river in the Indian subcontinent. It is the third largest river that completely flows within India after Ganges and Godavari...

.

After the downfall of the Gupta Empire
Gupta Empire
The Gupta Empire was an ancient Indian empire which existed approximately from 320 to 550 CE and covered much of the Indian Subcontinent. Founded by Maharaja Sri-Gupta, the dynasty was the model of a classical civilization. The peace and prosperity created under leadership of Guptas enabled the...

 in the middle of the sixth century CE, North India
North India
North India, known natively as Uttar Bhārat or Shumālī Hindustān , is a loosely defined region in the northern part of India. The exact meaning of the term varies by usage...

 reverted to small republics and small monarchical states.
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Harsha or Harsha Vardhana or Harshvardhan (हर्षवर्धन) (c. 590—647) was an India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n emperor who ruled northern India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 from 606 to 647 AD. He was the son of Prabhakara Vardhana and younger brother of Rajya Vardhana, a king of Thanesar
Thanesar
Thanesar is an old and historic town on the banks of the Sarsawati Ghaggar river in the state of Haryana in northern India. It is located in Kurukshetra District, approximately 160 km northwest of Delhi...

, Haryana
Haryana
Haryana is a state in India. Historically, it has been a part of the Kuru region in North India. The name Haryana is found mentioned in the 12th century AD by the apabhramsha writer Vibudh Shridhar . It is bordered by Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to the north, and by Rajasthan to the west and south...

. At the height of his power his kingdom spanned the Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

, Rajasthan
Rajasthan
Rājasthān the land of Rajasthanis, , is the largest state of the Republic of India by area. It is located in the northwest of India. It encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert , which has an edge paralleling the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with...

, Gujarat, Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

, Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

 and the entire Indo-Gangetic plain
Indo-Gangetic plain
The northern Plains also known as the Indo - Gangetic Plain and The North Indian River Plain is a large and fertile plain encompassing most of northern and eastern India, the most populous parts of Pakistan, parts of southern Nepal and virtually all of Bangladesh...

  north of the Narmada River
Narmada River
The Narmada , also called Rewa is a river in central India and the fifth largest river in the Indian subcontinent. It is the third largest river that completely flows within India after Ganges and Godavari...

.

After the downfall of the Gupta Empire
Gupta Empire
The Gupta Empire was an ancient Indian empire which existed approximately from 320 to 550 CE and covered much of the Indian Subcontinent. Founded by Maharaja Sri-Gupta, the dynasty was the model of a classical civilization. The peace and prosperity created under leadership of Guptas enabled the...

 in the middle of the sixth century CE, North India
North India
North India, known natively as Uttar Bhārat or Shumālī Hindustān , is a loosely defined region in the northern part of India. The exact meaning of the term varies by usage...

 reverted to small republics and small monarchical states. Harsha, a Buddhist convert in a Hindu eraunited the small republics from Punjab to central India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, and they, at an assembly, crowned Harsha king in April 606
606
Year 606 was a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 606 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.- Asia :* Shashanka is the first recorded independent...

 AD when he was merely 16 years old.

Ancestry


They were descended from a certain Pushyabhuti who founded and ruled the kingdom of Sthanvisvara or modern Thanesar
Thanesar
Thanesar is an old and historic town on the banks of the Sarsawati Ghaggar river in the state of Haryana in northern India. It is located in Kurukshetra District, approximately 160 km northwest of Delhi...

, an ancient Hindu pilgrimage centre and one of the 51 Shaktipeeth's, now a small town in the vicinity of the newly created Kurukshetra
Kurukshetra
Kurukshetra is a land of historical and religious importance. Historically the land belonged to Punjab now a district in Haryana state of India. It is a holy place and is also known as Dharmakshetra . According to the Puranas, Kurukshetra is named after King Kuru, the ancestor of Kauravas and...

 in the state of Haryana
Haryana
Haryana is a state in India. Historically, it has been a part of the Kuru region in North India. The name Haryana is found mentioned in the 12th century AD by the apabhramsha writer Vibudh Shridhar . It is bordered by Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to the north, and by Rajasthan to the west and south...

 north of Delhi
Delhi
Delhi , officially National Capital Territory of Delhi , is the largest metropolis by area and the second-largest by population in India, next to Mumbai. It is the eighth largest metropolis in the world by population with 16,753,265 inhabitants in the Territory at the 2011 Census...

. 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
Rudradaman I
Rudradaman I was a Saka ruler from the Western Kshatrapas dynasty. He was the grandson of the celebrated Sah king Chastana. Rudradaman I was instrumental in the decline of the Satavahana Empire.- Mahakshatrapa :...

, an ancestor of Rudrasimha I had conquered the Yaudheya
Yaudheya
Yaudheya or Yaudheya Gana was an ancient confederation who lived in the area between the Indus river and the Ganges river. They find mention in Pāṇini's Ashtadhyayi and Ganapatha. There are other references to them namely in Mahabharata, Mahamayuri, Brihatsamhita, Puranas, Chandravyakarana and...

, who were the original masters of Haryana
Haryana
Haryana is a state in India. Historically, it has been a part of the Kuru region in North India. The name Haryana is found mentioned in the 12th century AD by the apabhramsha writer Vibudh Shridhar . It is bordered by Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to the north, and by Rajasthan to the west and south...

.

According to Alexander Cunningham
Alexander Cunningham
Sir Alexander Cunningham KCIE CSI was a British archaeologist and army engineer, known as the father of the Archaeological Survey of India...

, in 1871 Xuanzang must have mistaken the Vaisa for Bais Rajput
Bais Rajput
The Bais Rajput , are an ancient Rajput clan consisting of the wealthy, warriors, entrepreneurs and Zamindar .The Bais Rajput are one of the Chattis Rajkul - 36 Royal Rajput lineages...

. 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 Bais Rajput
Bais Rajput
The Bais Rajput , are an ancient Rajput clan consisting of the wealthy, warriors, entrepreneurs and Zamindar .The Bais Rajput are one of the Chattis Rajkul - 36 Royal Rajput lineages...

 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.

Moreover, upon his formal coronation ceremony, Harsha took the title Rajput
Rajput
A Rajput is a member of one of the patrilineal clans of western, central, northern India and in some parts of Pakistan. Rajputs are descendants of one of the major ruling warrior classes in the Indian subcontinent, particularly North India...

ra.

Period prior to his reign


After the downfall of the Gupta Empire
Gupta Empire
The Gupta Empire was an ancient Indian empire which existed approximately from 320 to 550 CE and covered much of the Indian Subcontinent. Founded by Maharaja Sri-Gupta, the dynasty was the model of a classical civilization. The peace and prosperity created under leadership of Guptas enabled the...

 in the middle of the sixth century CE, North India was split into several independent kingdoms. The Hunas
Huna people
Huna is the name under which the Xionite tribes who invaded northern India during the first half of the 5th century were known.-History:...

 had established their supremacy over the Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

. The northern and western regions of India passed into the hands of a dozen or more feudatory states.

Prabhakara Vardhana, the ruler of Sthanvisvara, who belonged to the Pushyabhuti family, extended his control over neighboring states. Prabhakar Vardhan was the first king of the Vardhana dynasty with his capital at Thaneswar
Thanesar
Thanesar is an old and historic town on the banks of the Sarsawati Ghaggar river in the state of Haryana in northern India. It is located in Kurukshetra District, approximately 160 km northwest of Delhi...

.

After Prabhakar Vardhan’s death in 606 CE, his eldest son, Rajya Vardhana, ascended the throne. Harsha Vardhana was Rajya Vardhana’s younger brother.

This period of kings from the same line has been referred to as the Vardhana dynasty in many publications,.

Ascension


Rajya Vardhana’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 Devagupta of Malwa and after his death Rajyasri had been cast into prison by the victor. Harsha's brother, Rajya Vardhana, then the king at Thanesar
Thanesar
Thanesar is an old and historic town on the banks of the Sarsawati Ghaggar river in the state of Haryana in northern India. It is located in Kurukshetra District, approximately 160 km northwest of Delhi...

, could not stand this affront on his family, marched against Devagupta and defeated him. But it so happened at this moment that Shashanka
Shashanka
Shashanka is often attributed with creating the first separate political entity in a unified Bengal called Gauda and as such is a major figure in Bengali history. He reigned in 7th century AD, and some historians place his rule approximately between 590 AD and 625 AD. He is the contemporary of...

, king of Gauda in Eastern Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

, entered Magadha
Magadha
Magadha formed one of the sixteen Mahājanapadas or kingdoms in ancient India. The core of the kingdom was the area of Bihar south of the Ganga; its first capital was Rajagriha then Pataliputra...

 as a friend of Rajyavardhana, but in secret alliance with the Malwa king. Accordingly, Sasanka treacherously murdered Rajyavardhana.

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 ascended the throne at the age of 16.

Wars and reign


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
Thanesar
Thanesar is an old and historic town on the banks of the Sarsawati Ghaggar river in the state of Haryana in northern India. It is located in Kurukshetra District, approximately 160 km northwest of Delhi...

 and Kannauj
Kannauj
Kannauj , also spelt Kanauj, is a city, administrative headquarters and a municipal board or Nagar Palika Parishad in Kannauj district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The city's name is traditionally derived from the term Kanyakubja . Kannauj is an ancient city, in earlier times the capital...

 and transferred his capital from Thanesar to Kannauj.
Harsha set out to punish his rival, Shashanka
Shashanka
Shashanka is often attributed with creating the first separate political entity in a unified Bengal called Gauda and as such is a major figure in Bengali history. He reigned in 7th century AD, and some historians place his rule approximately between 590 AD and 625 AD. He is the contemporary of...

, the lord of Gauda
Gaur, West Bengal
Gour, or Gaur , as it is spelt mostly in modern times, or Lakhnauti is a ruined city, in the Malda district of West Bengal, India, on the west bank of the Ganges river, 40 kilometers downstream from Rajmahal.-History:...

 (Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

). He formed an alliance with Bhaskaravarman, king of Kamarupa and marched on Shashanka. Although he defeated his rival, the result was indecisive as Shashanka continued to rule much of his kingdom and it was only after his death that Harsha was able to oust Shashanka's son, Manava
Manava (king)
Manava was the son and successor to the king of Gauda, Shashanka. He was the last recorded ruler of the dynasty and was likely deposed by Harshavardhana or Bhaskaravarman . He ruled as king for 8 months....

 and bring Bihar
Bihar
Bihar is a state in eastern India. It is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at and 3rd largest by population. Almost 58% of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India....

, Kanauj and northern Bengal under his rule (Bhaskaravarman was able to conquer the remainder of the Shashanka's kingdom). He conquered Dhruvasena of Gujarat and gave his own daughter in marriage to him. He also conquered Ganjam
Ganjam
Ganjam is a town and a notified area committee in Ganjam district in the state of Orissa, India.-Geography:Ganjam is located at . It has an average elevation of 3 metres .-Demographics:...

 (whose king was a vassal
Vassal state
A vassal state is any state that is subordinate to another. The vassal in these cases is the ruler, rather than the state itself. Being a vassal most commonly implies providing military assistance to the dominant state when requested to do so; it sometimes implies paying tribute, but a state which...

 of Shashanka), a part of the modern Orissa
Orissa
Orissa , officially Odisha since Nov 2011, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Orissa was established on 1 April...

 State.

Harsha's ambition of extending his power to the Deccan and Southern India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 were stopped by the great Chalukya Empreror of South India Pulakeshi II, the Chalukya king of Vatapi
Badami
Badami , formerly known as Vatapi, is a town and headquarters of a taluk by the same name, in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka, India. It was the regal capital of the Badami Chalukyas from 540 to 757 AD. It is famous for rock cut and other structural temples...

 in Northern Karnataka
Karnataka
Karnataka , the land of the Kannadigas, is a state in South West India. It was created on 1 November 1956, with the passing of the States Reorganisation Act and this day is annually celebrated as Karnataka Rajyotsava...

 along the banks of river Narmada. Pulakeshi defeated Harsha's army on the banks of the river Narmada
Narmada River
The Narmada , also called Rewa is a river in central India and the fifth largest river in the Indian subcontinent. It is the third largest river that completely flows within India after Ganges and Godavari...

 in 620 AD. A truce was agreed upon and the river Narmada was marked as the southern boundary of Harsha's kingdom.

Harsha was an energetic ruler who travelled frequently in order to keep himself accessible to his subjects. In the latter half of his reign, he spent most of his time in camp, travelling from place to place. He was a man of considerable literary interests and talents and despite his administrative duties, he managed to write plays i.e. Ratnavali, Priyadarshika and Nagananda, of which, the first two are comedies in the classical style and the third has a serious religious theme. He maintained a magnificent court where philosophers, poets, dramatists and painters flourished. Bana, the author of Harsha-Charita and Kadambari, was the court poet of Harsha. Maurya, the author of Mayurashataka, and Bhartrihari, the author of Vakyapadiya and a grammarian, also lived at the court of Harsha. Harsha was the chief patron of the University of Nalanda where about 10,000 students from all parts of India and abroad studied.

Patron of Buddhism and literature


Harsha's father, Prabhākara was, apparently a sun-worshipper and of Bargujar clan, his brother followed Hinayana Buddhism while, according to Bana, Harsha himself was a Mahayana Buddhist.
Harsha was a tolerant ruler and supported all Indic (or Hindu) faiths – Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, Vedism and Jainism
Jainism
Jainism is an Indian religion that prescribes a path of non-violence towards all living beings. Its philosophy and practice emphasize the necessity of self-effort to move the soul towards divine consciousness and liberation. Any soul that has conquered its own inner enemies and achieved the state...

. Early in his life, he seems to have been a follower of Sun Worship, becoming a patron of Shaivism
Shaivism
Shaivism is one of the four major sects of Hinduism, the others being Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Smartism. Followers of Shaivism, called "Shaivas," and also "Saivas" or "Saivites," revere Shiva as the Supreme Being. Shaivas believe that Shiva is All and in all, the creator, preserver, destroyer,...

 and Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 later on.

His sister Rajyashri's conversion to Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 presumably had a positive effect on his support to the religion. His approach to religion is evident in his celebrated play Nagananda. The play's theme is based on the Jataka tale of the Bodhisattva
Bodhisattva
In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is either an enlightened existence or an enlightenment-being or, given the variant Sanskrit spelling satva rather than sattva, "heroic-minded one for enlightenment ." The Pali term has sometimes been translated as "wisdom-being," although in modern publications, and...

 Jimutavahana, but Harsha introduces the Goddess Gauri
Gauri
Gauri is an India musical raga that appears in the Sikh tradition from northern India and is part of the Sikh holy scripture called Sri Guru Granth Sahib Every raga has a strict set of rules which govern the number of notes that can be used; which notes can be used; and their interplay that has to...

, Shiva
Shiva
Shiva is a major Hindu deity, and is the destroyer god or transformer among the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity of the primary aspects of the divine. God Shiva is a yogi who has notice of everything that happens in the world and is the main aspect of life. Yet one with great power lives a life of a...

's consort, as the saviour of Jimutavahana, a feature not found in the Jataka
Jataka
The Jātakas refer to a voluminous body of literature native to India concerning the previous births of the Buddha....

.
The great Indian mathematician Brahmagupta
Brahmagupta
Brahmagupta was an Indian mathematician and astronomer who wrote many important works on mathematics and astronomy. His best known work is the Brāhmasphuṭasiddhānta , written in 628 in Bhinmal...

 also lived in the Empire of Harshavardhana.

According to the Chinese Pilgrim Xuanzang
Xuanzang
Xuanzang was a famous Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveler, and translator who described the interaction between China and India in the early Tang period...

, who visited his kingdom in 636
636
Year 636 was a leap year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 636 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.- Byzantine Empire :* August 20 – Battle of Yarmuk:...

 CE, Harsha built numerous stupas in the name of Buddha. Xuanzang
Xuanzang
Xuanzang was a famous Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveler, and translator who described the interaction between China and India in the early Tang period...

 entered a grand competition organized 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
Nalanda
Nālandā is the name of an ancient center of higher learning in Bihar, India.The site of Nalanda is located in the Indian state of Bihar, about 55 miles south east of Patna, and was a Buddhist center of learning from the fifth or sixth century CE to 1197 CE. It has been called "one of the...

. Two seals of Harsha have been found in Nalanda
Nalanda
Nālandā is the name of an ancient center of higher learning in Bihar, India.The site of Nalanda is located in the Indian state of Bihar, about 55 miles south east of Patna, and was a Buddhist center of learning from the fifth or sixth century CE to 1197 CE. It has been called "one of the...

 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 Kannauj
Kannauj
Kannauj , also spelt Kanauj, is a city, administrative headquarters and a municipal board or Nagar Palika Parishad in Kannauj district in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The city's name is traditionally derived from the term Kanyakubja . Kannauj is an ancient city, in earlier times the capital...

 which was reputedly attended by 20 kings and thousands of pilgrims.

In 641
641
Year 641 was a common year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 641 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.- Byzantine Empire :* February 11 – Byzantine...

, following Xuanzang's visit, Harsha sent a mission to China which established the first diplomatic relations between China and India. The Chinese responded by sending an embassy consisting of Li Yibiao and Wang Xuanze
Wang Xuance
Wang Xuance , fl. 7th century) was a Tang Dynasty guard officer and diplomat. In 648, Tang Taizong sent him to India in response to Harshavardhana sending an ambassador to China. However once in India he discovered Harshavardhana had died and the new king attacked Wang and his 30 mounted subordinates...

, who probably traveled through Tibet
Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...

 and whose journey is commemorated in inscriptions at Rajagriha – modern Rajgir
Rajgir
Rajgir is a city and a notified area in Nalanda district in the Indian state of Bihar. The city of Rajgir was the first capital of the kingdom of Magadha, a state that would eventually evolve into the Mauryan Empire. Its date of origin is unknown, although ceramics dating to about 1000 BC have...

, and Bodhgaya.

Harsha was a noted author on his own merit. He wrote three Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 plays – Nagananda
Nagananda
Nagananda is a Sanskrit play attributed to king Harsha .Nagananda is one of the best Sanskrit dramas in five acts dealing with the popular story of Jimutavahana's self-sacrifice to save the Nagas...

, Ratnavali
Ratnavali
Ratnavali is a Sanskrit drama about a beautiful princess named Ratnavali, and a great king named Udayana. It is attributed to the Indian emperor Harsha . It is a Natika in four acts. One of the first textual references to the celebration of Holi, the festival of Colours have been found in this text...

and Priyadarsika
Priyadarsika
Priyadarsika is a Sanskrit play attributed to king Harsha .-External links:*, translated by G. K. Nariman and A. V. Williams Jackson...

. His reign is comparatively well documented, thanks to his court poet Bana
Banabhatta
Bāṇabhaṭṭa , also known as Bāṇa, was a Sanskrit scholar and poet of India. He was the Asthana Kavi in the court of King Harshavardhana, who reigned in the years c. 606–647 CE in north India...

 and Xuanzang
Xuanzang
Xuanzang was a famous Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveler, and translator who described the interaction between China and India in the early Tang period...

. Bana composed an account of Harsha's rise to power in Harsha Charitha
Harsha Charitha
The Harshacharita , is the biography of Indian Emperor Harsha by Banabhatta, also known as Bana, who was a Sanskrit writer of 7th century in India. He was the 'Asthana Kavi', meaning 'Court Poet', of King Harsha...

, the first historical poetic work in Sanskrit language. Xuanzang wrote a full description of his travels in India.

Harsha's participation in the cultured life of his court was more direct than that of most kings, and it is in his personal contribution to Sanskrit literature that he clearly overshadows them. To him are assigned three plays: Priyadarsika, Ratnavali, and the Nagananda. In addition, he is credited with two significant poems on Buddhist themes - the Ashtamahasricaityastotra (Praise to Eight Grand Caityas [Buddhist assembly halls]) and Suprabhatastotra (Laud to Morning) - and a tract on grammatical gender, the Linganusasanam. Harsha's authorship has been disputed on several occasions, but no decisive contrary arguments have been proposed.

The Priyadarsika appears to be the earliest of Harsha's plays. It and the Ratnavali deal with the amorous adventures of the king Vatsa, his queen Vasavadatta, and newcomers to the royal harem. Both plays borrow from the earlier works of Bhasa and Kalidasa (especially the latter's Malavikagnimitra) and are based ultimately on material in the collection Brhatkatha. These plays lack thematic novelty but sustain interest through brisk dialogue. Both are frequently cited by later writers on dramatic theory and technique.

Harsha's Nagananda is his most important play. It is, in fact, a singular creation in Sanskrit drama. This five-act drama draws again on the Brhatkatha for the substance of its first three acts. In them, the hero, Jimutavahana, Prince of the Vidyadharas, meets and marries the Siddha princess Malayavati. To that point, the romance of the fairy prince and princess is quite conventional.

The mood of the play changes sharply in the fourth act. Jimutavahana discovers mounds of skeletons which evidence the daily sacrifice of serpents to the celestial bird Garuda. The hero resolves to offer his own body so that the serpents may be spared (a type of resolution very familiar in Buddhist literature). At the drama's conclusion it is the non-Buddhist goddess Gauri, however, who restores the bodhisattva, Jimutavahana, to life. In this attractive and moving drama, Harsha combined Buddhist and "Hindu" themes adroitly and uniquely, and through it one sees clearly his artistic and political genius.

Aftermath


Harsha died in the year 647 AD. He ruled 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.

Neither Bana's nor Xuanzang's account gives any details of this period. A few tantalising glimpses are offered in some ancient Chinese and Tibetan Books. The one in the Tibetan book The White Annals tells that Harsha had sent an envoy to the Chinese Emperor, who in turn sent a Chinese one(named in the Chinese sources as Wang Xuance
Wang Xuance
Wang Xuance , fl. 7th century) was a Tang Dynasty guard officer and diplomat. In 648, Tang Taizong sent him to India in response to Harshavardhana sending an ambassador to China. However once in India he discovered Harshavardhana had died and the new king attacked Wang and his 30 mounted subordinates...

) with a convoy of thirty horsemen. When they reached India they found that Harsha was dead and his minister Arjuna had usurped the throne. Arjuna is said to have been persecuting the Buddhists and attacked the envoy who had to flee to Tibet. The Tibetan king decided to avenge the insult to the Chinese emperor and sent the envoy back with an army that finally managed to defeat and take Arjuna and his family as prisoners, and sent them back as prisoners to the Chinese emperor. Historians have not yet managed to unravel what the facts were from these meagre accounts.
Harsha had two sons named Vagyavardhan and Kalyanvardhan. They were killed by Arunashwa, a chief minister in harsha's court. Harshavardhan's wife was durgavati was taken prisoner.

Upcoming popular Culture


The Sagars have decided that after finishing "Chandragupta Maurya" on Imagine TV which is a huge project is going on, they will make the life history of King Harshavardhana. It might be started in 2014 after completing "Chandraguta Maurya" in 2013.