(AD 550-750)

Ruling dynasties of northern India

  1. After the downfall of the Gupta empire in the middle of the 6th century, North India reverted to small republics and small monarchical states
  2. Harsha united the small republicans from Punjab to central India
  3. In south India, Pallava and Chalukyas dynasties fought for supremacy

Ruling dynasties of northern India

  • Gupta empire fell to its death in the last leg of the 5th century
  • Magadha and its capital pataliputra lost their importance. After the fall of the Guptas fire major centers of power emerged, they were
  • The maukharis
  • The maitrakas
  • The gaudas
  • The pushyabhutis
  • The hunas


  • Harshavardhana was the younger son of prabhakaarvardhana
  • Hieun-tsang gave an account on his reign in his book Si-Yu-Ki
  • Bana’s Harsha Chitra, inscriptions, coins, and Harsha’s own writing i.e. ratnavali, priyadarkshika, and nagananda are other authentic sources of Harsha’s era
  • Shashanka the ruler of gouda killed grahavarman (maukharis ruler) in alliance with devagupta and imprisoned his wife rajyasri (Harsha’s sister)
  • Later devagupta killed by rajyavardhana who was assassinated by Shashanka in AS 606
  • The news of the death of rajyavardhana recached his younger brother Harshavardhana who now coronated himself in AD 606 and proceeded to avenge his brother’s death and release of his sister and thus the era of Harshavardhana started to raise
  • He is said to have established his control over “5 indies”-Orissa, gouda, Mithila, kanyakubja, and svastrtha
  • Harsha was defeated by pulakesin II on the banks of the river Narmada. This is mentioned in aihole inscription of pulakesi II authored by ravikirit who describes Harsha as the lord of the northern country
  • The Chinese ruler, Tsang sent three embassies to Harsha’s court
  • Harsha shifted his capital from thaneswar to kannuaj. he governed his empire on the same lines as Guptas did, except that his administration became more feudal and decentralized
  • Land grants continued to be made to a priest and special services rendered to the estate
  • The Harsha empire was divided into provinces called bhukits. bhukits were subdivided into the Visayas into tehsils and village
  • He shifted his capital from thaneswar to kannuaj
  • The period witnessed the ascendancy of barnasharamadharma and the existence of various sub-caste called varnasamskras
  • The position of women further declined. The institution of svayamvaram declined that re-marriage of widows was not permitted
  • The system of dowry became common
  • Harsha primarily worshipped shiva but ye was tolerant of other religions as well. in his afterlife he became a great patron of Buddhism
  • He endowed the land grant to the priests of both Hindu and Buddhist religions
  • He convened a grand assembly at kannuaj to widely publicize the doctrines of Mahayana Buddhism, he erected many Buddhist stoops on the banks of the river Ganga and built several monasteries


The two great assemblies under Harsha were at kannuaj and prayag


  • At kannuaj, Harsha arranged a big assembly for 20 kings 400 monks acquainted with Jainism,3000 Brahmanas and Jains, and 1000 scholars from all over India
  • It was presided by hieun-tsang


  • Quinquennial distribution by the king to the person was held at Prayag
  • It was held for 75days
  • The images of buddha, sun and shiva were publicly worshipped and gifts of valuable articles and clothing were governing to 50 lakh people belonging to all faiths and beliefs
  • Hieun-Tsang invited by Harsha actually gave away everything in the royal treasury and became a monk


  • Harsha was an avid lover of literature and he himself wrote three dramas, ratnavali, nagananda, and priyadarkshika
  • He patronized Bana Bhatta a great scholar who wrote Parvati parniey, Harschacharita, and Kadambari
  • Haridatta and Jaya Sena were also patronized by Harsha
  • Hieun-Tsang wrote his biography hui-li were written in this period


  • The economy became more feudal and self-sufficient
  • The decline of trade and commerce caused decline o trade centers, a paucity of coins, and the almost complete disappearance of guides and traders
  • Agriculture and handicraft production decreased
  • Evergreens of jajmani system oneself sufficient village economy where all the needs were met from within the village

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