(Last Updated on : 19/05/2012)
Harshavardhana was a powerful monarch of northern India who was also famous for his nobility and religious inclination. He ruled over the northern parts of India for a period of more than forty years. Spread over the states of Punjab
, West Bengal
and the entire Indo-Gangetic plain
lying to the north of the Narmada River
was his empire. Harshavardhana was the younger son of Prabhakara Vardhan, the king of Thanesar. After death of his brother Rajya Vardhan, the throne of Kannauj
became vacant and Harshavardhana had to ascend the throne.
Harsha started on his `digvijaya` as soon as he became the ruler. Harsha wanted to consolidate the northern India. He was a great conqueror and brought a vast territory of northern India and even far off provinces under his sovereignty. Harshavardhana has the credit of providing political unity to the northern India in the time of turmoil and disturbances. Between the Guptas and the Rajputs, he is a great ruler who made endeavours to establish political unity in the country. Immediately on his accession to the throne he lad military campaigns. Harsha spent six years in warfare that extended from 618 to 624 A.D.
Harshavardhana was also a great diplomat. He entered into political alliance with Kanya Kubja and Kamarupa and made his position strong against Sasanka and Pulakesin II. Against Pulakesin II, he established friendly relations with china. It was the result of his good diplomacy that he could rule over a vast area of northern India, for a long reign of sixty one years.
His administrative system was based on the administration of Guptas. He took personal interest in every department of the state and was particular about the welfare of his people. He himself was an accomplished dramatist and a worthy scholar. He gathered the finest intellects and scholars of that period round him. He was the author of the three literary works, `Kavitavali` `Priyadarsika` and `Naganada`. Famous scholars like Bana, Mayura, Divakarmitra, etc. adorned his court.
After every five years, he used to give enormous wealth in charity to Brahmans, Buddhist monks, poor and orphans. He had built roads and rest houses for the travellers. He had made arrangement for the free medical aid for patients.
On account of the royal support and patronage of Harsha, Buddhism spread with new enthusiasm after having triumphed over other religions in Kannauj. Harsha was a Mahayana Buddhist. He supported all faiths - Buddhism
. He seems to have been a follower of Sun earlier, becoming a patron of Shaivism
and Buddhism later on.
He built many stupas and viharas and forbade the slaughter of all sorts of creatures. Harsha Vardhana passed away on about 647 AD. After his death there was an utter chaos and disorder in Northern India. He died without any heir. His entire kingdom was divided into many parts and various rulers took charge of those parts. He made endowments to the University of Nalanda
. Two seals of Harsha have been found there.