- Books Name
- CBSE Class 6 Social Science Book
- Param Publication
- CBSE Class 6
- Social Science
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.