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King Harshavardhan ruled over India for more than forty years. Explore the biography & life history of King Harsha Vardhan.


Harshavardhan

Harshavardhana was an Indian Emperor, who ruled over the northern parts of India for a period of more than forty years. His empire was spread over the states of Punjab, Bengal, Orissa and the entire Indo-Gangetic plain, lying to the north of the Narmada River. Get more information of the life history of King Harsha Vardhan with this biography:

King Harshavardhana was born in 590 BC to Prabhakar Vardhan. His elder brother was Rajyavardhan, the king of Thanesar. He was instrumental in consolidating the small republics and small monarchical states that had sprung up in North India after the downfall of the Gupta dynasty. Harsha Vardhan united the small republics from Punjab to Central India and they accepted him as their king in 606 AD. Though Harsha was only sixteen years old when he ascended the throne, he proved himself to be a great vanquisher as well as a competent administrator.

After his accession, King Harshavardhan united the two kingdoms of Thanesar (now Kurukshetra) and Kannauj. He also shifted his capital from Thanesar to Kannauj. The next aggression faced by the king was from Sasanka, the ruler of Bengal. He defeated Sasanka and also took over Eastern Punjab (present day Haryana), Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. Thereafter, he occupied Dhruvasena and Ganjam, a part of the modern Orissa State. In 630 BC, Harshavardhana faced defeat at the hands of Pulakesi II, the Chalukya King of Vatapi, in Northern Karnataka. The defeat resulted in a truce between the two kings, with Harsha accepting River Narmada as the southern boundary for his kingdom.

Patronizing Buddhism and Literature
King Harshavardhan was a Shaivite. However, he was tolerant towards all other religions and supported them fully. Some time later in his life, he became a patron of Buddhism also. King Harshavardhana propagated the religion by constructing numerous stupas in the name of Buddha. He believed in supporting art and literature and even made several donations to the Nalanda University. Harsha Vardhana also wrote three Sanskrit plays, namely Nagananda, Ratnavali and Priyadarsika. In 641 BC, he sent a mission to China, which helped in establishing the first diplomatic relations between China and India.

Death of Harsha
King Harshavardhana left for the holy abode in the year 647 AD, after ruling over the Indian subcontinent for more than 41 years. However, since he did not have any heirs, his empire rapidly disintegrated and collapsed into small states again.