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Harshavardhana era India - History General Knowledge 2022

Harshavardhana era India – History General Knowledge 2022

Harshavardhana era India

♦ After the fall of the Chakravarti Gupta Empire, a sense of political decentralization and regionalism emerged in India.

♦ After the decline of the Gupta dynasty, regional powers emerged in India, mainly known as Maitraka, Maukhari, Pushyabhuti, and later Guptas and Gaur.

♦ The most powerful of the above powers was Pushyabhuti who ruled over the largest area.

♦ The Pushyabhuti dynasty is also known as the Vardhan dynasty and their capital was Thaneshwar.

♦ The early Pushyabhutis acted as the feudatories of the Gupta rulers, after the Huna invasion they declared their independence.

♦ Prabhakar Vardhana became the first powerful ruler of this dynasty.
Prabhakarvarshana assumed the title of “Param Bhattaraka Maharajadhiraja” on par with the Gupta rulers.

♦Prabhakarvardhan had two children – Rajyavardhan and Harshavardhana.

♦The Gaur king Shashank killed Rajavardhan, after which Harshavardhana became the ruler.

Harshavardhana-606-647 AD

♦Harshavardhana ascended the throne of Thaneshwar in 606 AD.

♦Banabhatta has given information about Harshacharita and Huensang has given information about Harshavardhana in his travel description. 

♦Harshavardhana is also known as Shiladitya. 

♦Harshavardhana patronized the Mahayana branch of Buddhism.

♦In 641 AD, Harshavardhana sent an envoy to China, after that in 643 AD and 646 AD two Chinese ambassadors came to Harsha’s court.

♦In 643 AD, Emperor Harsha organized two huge religious assemblies at Kannauj and Prayag.

♦The dental relics of Buddha were forcibly obtained by Harsha from the ruler of Kashmir.

♦Harsh Vardhan was also a worshiper of Lord Shiva.

♦Harsh Vardhan was not only a powerful ruler but also a capable litterateur. He composed three texts – Priyadarsika, Ratnavali and Nagananda. These were all three plays.

♦The famous poet Banabhatta also lived in Harsha’s court, and composed Harshacharita, Kadambari, Shuknasopadesh, etc.

♦Rajyashree who was Harsh Vardhan’s sister was married to Grahavarman, the ruler of Kannauj Maukhari.

♦The Gaur king Shashank, along with Devagupta, the ruler of Malwa, had captured Kanauj by killing Grahavarman.

♦Harsh Vardhan protected his sister Rajayashree and defeated Shashank and regained Kannauj and took the reins of Kannauj into his hands on public request.

♦In the Banskheda and Madhuban inscriptions, Harsha has been called Param Maheshwar.

♦Hiuen Tsang describes that Harsha conquered his neighboring kingdoms.

♦In the inscriptions of the south, Harsha has been called the lord of the whole of northern India.

♦Harsha’s empire extended from Thaneshwar (East Punjab) in the north to the banks of the Narmada River in the south and from Ganjam (Odisa) in the east to Vallabhi in the west.

♦Harsha Vardhana was the last powerful Hindu emperor who ruled northern India.

Assembly of Kannauj

♦The Kannauj Sabha was organized by Harsha in 643 AD.

♦The purpose of this gathering was to promote and develop Buddhism.

♦Huensang presided over this meeting.

♦This meeting lasted for 23 days.

♦A gold statue of Buddha, equal to that of Emperor Harsha, was placed on a hundred feet high pillars.

♦Prayag Mahamoksha Parishad was organized by Harsha every five years.

Prayag Assembly

Prayag Sabha was organized by Harsha in 643 AD.

This was the sixth meeting organized by Harsha at Prayag.

Eighteen princely friends, including Hiuensang, participated in the Prayag Sabha.

Prayag Sabha lasted for 75 days.

Harsha’s Administration

Governance was based on divine principles, but Harsha was not an autocratic ruler. Many tasks and duties of the king were fixed, which was the responsibility of the king to fulfill.

Harsha was a kind and protector of the subjects.

It is clear from Nagananda that Harsha’s ideal was a happy and happy subject.

Hiuen Tsang also describes Harsha as Prajapalak and in Kadambari and Harshacharita he is also called the protector of the subjects.

There was a council of ministers to assist the king. The advice of the ministers was of great importance.

The king was the chief justice and the general.

The officer of war and peace was called Avanti.

Harsha’s system of governance was based on the Gupta system of governance. Many state posts such as Sandhivigrahik, Apataladhikrit, Senapati, etc. were similar to the Gupta administration.

The state was divided into Grama (village), Vishaya (district), Bhukti (province), and Nation.

Among the provincial officials, Mahasamant, Maharaj, Dausadhanik, Prabhavar, Kumaratya, Uparik etc. were prominent.

The chief employees of the police department were Chowrodharjik Dandapashik etc.

There was a practice of giving jagirs to the officers as salary.

Treason was punishable by life imprisonment. Organ-bhang and country expulsion and economic punishment were also prevalent.

The army consisted of footmen, cavalrymen, cavalry, and Harintarohi

Social system

According to Hiuensang, society was based on the varna system. The highest position was attained by Brahmins who were called Kshatriyas, Acharyas, and Upadhyayas.

The social decline of the Vaishya varna took place during this period and their status became equal to that of the Shudras.

The Shudras were the largest in the society, their economic condition improved but their social status remained low.

An increase in the number of varna hybrid castes was observed during this period. Vyjayanthi has mentioned 64 varna hybrid castes.

Some of the varnas were hybrid castes among the Shudras. When the offspring produced by the union of a low caste woman and a high caste man are hybrid, this type of marriage is called Pratiloma marriage.

Untouchability was very prevalent.

Huen Tsang described in his travelogue that “Indus was the ancient name of this country, now it is called Indu or Hind. It is a country divided into castes and Brahmins hold the highest position in it”.

The practice of Sati was prevalent among the Rajputs.

The Slave system was prevalent and slaves were considered better than Shudras.

The Brihadha Dharma Purana mentions 36 types of varna hybrid castes that have been placed in the category of Shudras.

Economic condition

Feudalism emerged in Harsha’s India. Although its foundation was laid in the Gupta period.

In the beginning, the feudal system was limited to temples and Brahmins and the state high officials.

Agriculture was the main occupation but the peasants did not grow much food to avoid the exploitation of the feudal lords and landlords.

It is described from Mitakshara that only the king could donate land and not the holder of the property received in return for service.

The land granted by the king was called Ajnapatra.

It is described in the Agni Purana that to increase agricultural production, the king should increase the means of irrigation. 

The cultivated agricultural land was called the family. Individually owned land was called ‘Sakta’ and shared land was called Prakrishta or Krista.

One-sixth of the agricultural produce was taken as land tax, which was the main source of income for the state.

The growing outbreak of brink bandits caused damage to industry and trade.

Malwa, Gujarat, Bengal, and Kalinga were the major centers of trade.

Gujarat was famous for cotton textiles, muslin from Bengal, paddy from Magadha and Kalinga, and sugarcane from Malwa.

The major ports of this period were Tamralipti, Sampragram, Depal, and Bharuch.

The clothes made from the sap of plants were called ‘Tukul’. Rich people used silk clothes. Banabhatta mentions silk cloths such as Nal, Tunj, Anshuk and Chinanshuk.

With the decline of foreign trade, the circulation of coins decreased and local trade began to take place in shells.

Religious condition

Vaishnavism was the main religion. But it was abundant in the south where the Alvar saints made it famous.

Buddhism began to be accepted as an incarnation of Vishnu.

Avatarism was at its peak and Krishna and Rama were the main incarnations.

The practice of Tantra Vidya started increasing in worship and devotion.

The Shaivite sect had a prominent place in religious sects.

Changing the nature of Buddhism, like Hinduism, worship changed into tantric activities.

The practice of Shakti and Durga Puja started.

In the south, Shaivite saints were called ‘Nayanars’.

Key facts

The aim of the self-sufficient village society system was to fulfill the local needs.

The ‘Devadeya’ was the land donated to the temple.

The class that came from the Brahmin varna to the Kshatriya varna was called Brahma Kshatriya.

Such Brahmin merchants who were engaged in the business of meat, salt, milk, ghee, and honey were kept in the category of Shudra. 

The ‘Agrahara’ was the land that was donated to the Brahmin.

The main sources of irrigation were ponds, Rahats, and reservoirs.

There was not much difference between agriculturists and Shudra, both were forced to do forced work, which gave birth to the Zamindari system.

Begari (free of charge) was prevalent.

The collection of taxes was done by the head of the village. In return, he used to get grains, milk, and its products, Sralavan, etc.

The officer of the district was called Visipapathi. Uparik was the head of Bhukti.

The cloth prepared in Bharuch was called ‘Varoz’.

Antyaj and Chandala were the lowest castes.

Nalanda had a prominent place as the highest educational institution

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