*   Harshavardhana
    After the decline of the Gupta Empire, several small kingdoms came up in the north. The only empire that became powerful in the north was set up by Harshavardhan.

*    Harsha's Accession 
     Harsha ascended the throne in 606 A.D. when he was hardly sixteen year of age. It was the time when the rulers of  Gaur (or Bengal) and Vallabh. (or Gujrat) had treacherously murdered first his brother-in-law, Grihavarman, the ruler of Kannauj, and then          his elder brother, Rajyavardhana. So, when Harsha ascended the throne, his kingdom  was being threatened by his ancestral  enemies, the ruler of Gujarat and Bengal.

    The first task that Harsha  accomplished after his accession to the throne of Thanesar was to march towards Kannauj, where first of all he saved his sister Rajyashri and then  united the two kingdom of Thanesar and Kannauj.

*    Harsha's Conquests 
     After strengthening his  position, Harsha's first task was to defeat Shashank, the king of Bengal, and to take revenge for the deaths of his brother and brother-in-law.
     According to Hieun Tsang, a Chinese piligrim, Harsha spent six year of his reign (606 A.D. to 612 A.D.) in conquering the five Indies, i.e.,  Eastern Punjab, Kannauj, Bengal, Bihar and Orissa and many other states

     After  consolidating his empire in the north, he turned towards the Deccan but his advance was checked by Pulakesin II of the Chalukya dynasty. He was the king of Badami or vatapi.

     Thus, Narmada became the southern limit of his empire which included Eastern Punjab, the whole of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal, Orissa and parts of Sindh and Kashmir.

*    Harsha and Patron of Buddhism 
     Like Ashoka and Kanishka, Harsha was a great patron of Buddhism. He took several steps to popularise Buddhism. He took several steps to popularise Buddhism. He built new monasteries and repaired the old ones. He was  a follower of the mahayana        creed. He called a conference of the Buddhist scholar at Kannauj, as Ashoka and Kanishka had done in the past. He gave special grants of land and money to the Buddhist monks. Every year, Harsha would call a meeting of the Buddhist Sangha in                Prayag to encourage the propagation of Buddhism.

*    Harsha, a Great scholar and patron of learning
     Harsha was also a scholar himself and wrote three plays in Sanskrit, namely Ratnavali. Priyadarshika and the Nagananda. Banabhatta, the biographer of Harsha, wrote Harsha Charita. 

*    Harsha's Administration 
     Hieun Tsang praises Harsha's administration as organised and generous. Taxes were reasonable. Harsha's penal code was more severe than that of the Guptas. For some crimes, death sentence was also awarded. Harsha kept a powerful army.

*    Society and Life of People 
     The people wore untailored garments and walked bare-foot. The food was simple and pure. The rich lived in big houses made of bricks while the poor lived in thatched houses made of mud. There was a high sense of cleanliness and the people were             honest and fair. The caste-system had become quite rigid. The custom of Sati was practised but there was no purdah system. Trade and commerce prospered both inside the country and with foreign lands.

*    About Harsha's Assemblies 
    Hieun Tsang has given a vivid description of Harsha's assemblies. He had called a special assembly of the Buddhist monks and scholar to honour Hieun Tsang and to give publicity to the doctrines of the Mahayana faith. He also held an assembly or a           religious festival  after every five years at Prayag. One such assembly was held in 643 A.D. and was attended by Hieun Tsang.
    Harsha died in 647 A.D. and with his death the glory of ancient India was set forever.

*    Nalanda University
    Nalanda University, in Bihar, was the most renowned university during Harsha's reign. Though this university was established in the Gupta period, it was under Harsha that it became all international university and student from various parts of the world         came to study here. About 10,000 students received higher education here and 1510 professors imparted education. It had a six-storeyed building. It had several colleges and  three great libraries. The conditions for admission were very hard. No fees             were  charged from the students. They were also given free boarding and lodging. Besides the Brahmanical and Buddhist literatures, grammar, logic philosophy, medicine, astronomy, metaphysics, etc.  were the main subjects of study. Sanskrit was the     medium of instruction. Famous Shilbhadra was the head  of the university. He was a Buddhist scholar of rare ability.