Chapter 11: HARHAVARDHAN EMPIRE
The decline of Gupta Empire in the north created
political disunity which was resolved after Harshavardhan established
his Empire. The details of Harshavardhan's Empire can be seen in
Huen Tsang’s, a Chinese traveler account and works of Bana,
a court poet.
Foundation of the Empire:
The founders were initially feudatories of the
Gupta’s. They declared independence after the Huns invaded and
the Gupta Empire weakened. When Harsha acceded to the throne he
had to face crisis initially. His brother and brother in law
were murdered and his sister was about to immolate herself.
Harsha rescued her and took revenge on the rulers of Malwa and
Harsha Empire extended over to entire north India.
This was done by extensive military conquests. The suzerainty
was also accepted by Kashmir, Sind, and Valabhi. However his
ambition to entire the southern states was crushed by
Chalukya ruler Pulekasin II who defeated him.
Harsha was initially a Shaiva later he became a Hinayana Buddhist.
Huen Tsang converted him to Mahayana Buddhism with the assistance
of his sister. He constructed many Stupa’s and monasteries. Once
every five years he convened a gathering of Buddhist monks to
discuss Buddha’s doctrine.
He patronised Nalanda University.
He was tolerant towards all religions.
The administration was on lines of the Gupta’s.
Taxation was light and civil liberties were given.
Administration was organized and inspections by the king were
common. However cruel punishments of Mauryan age continued.
Forced labor was rare.
Maintenance of records about events was done
- Society was
divided into Varna’s or castes. Brahmins and kshatriyas
enjoyed privileges and the lower castes were oppressed.
- Condition of
women was unsatisfactory.
wasn’t permitted to widows.
- Sati, dowry
- Trade and
industry declined. This led to decrease in trading centers,
limited number of coins issued.
demand for handicrafts and agricultural produce led farmers to
cultivate less. The self sufficient village economy started.
- On the whole
prosperity was less than the Gupta age.
- Harsha period
followed the art and architecture style of the Gupta’s.
- Harsha himself
was a learned scholar and patron of learning. He wrote the
plays Ratnavali, Nagananda and Priyadarshika.
University became an international centre of reputation during
- Wrote Book - Journey
to the West.
- He wrote about
way of life, agriculture, food, dress, jewellery and taxes.
- He was attacked
by robbers along the way.