Chintaman Vinayak Vaidya.

History of mediæval Hindu India (being a history of India from 600 to 1200 A.D.) .. (Volume 1) online

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to the end of the Hindu period. At the beginning of each
chapter we have indicated the materials on which the
account in that chapter is based. Following the example
of Sir V.Smith's Early History of India we have thrown all
controversial matter in notes in small type. Further,
Sanskrit quotations and words have been avoided as far
:is possible, translations being usually given. In spelling
Sanskrit words, the usual rules of transliteration have
been followed (except in words like Brahmin which have
become thoroughly anglicised) but mistakes have often
crept in such transliteration which the indulgent re ader
will, it is hoped, overlook. Lastly, we have thought it
expedient to give in an appendix certain inscriptions in
the original, which will serve as examples and which may
be read with interest by those who can read and under-
.stand Sanskrit. An index and a religious map of India
of the time of Hiuen Tsang have been added and will
be found useful and interesting.



PooNA City,
I St January I g2 1. C. V. Vaidya.



BOOK I

HARSHA AND HIS TIMES

( Circa 600-650 A. 0. )

CHAPTER I

ACCESSION OF HARSHA

[The broad facts mentioned in these Chapters are of course taken from
Sir V. Smith's now standard work on the early history of India. I have,
however, studied the materials referred to by him in the original and by
their help aiid the help of the Harsha-Charita of Bana have tried to
throw additional light on many incidents in Harsha's life. On two
points I have ventured, with some diffidence, to put iorward views
diifering from those of Sir Vincent Smith. I have further added a few
detailed notes embodying discussion on the most controversial points.
And lastly I have attempted to determine, on data supplied by th»
Harsha-Charita, the exact date of the birth of Harsha. ]

When the seventh century of the Christian era opened
Prabhatvaravardhana of Thanesar was undoubtedly the
premier king of Northern India, He had defeated and
humbled the Huns who, notwithstanding their signal de-
feat in the previous century by the combined forces of
India led by Yasodharma of Malwa and Baladitya of
Magadha, were still a powerful people in the Panjab and
had their kingdoms at Gandhara or Peshawar and at Sakala
or Sialkot still in existence- He had defeated the ruling
kings of Sind and Gurjara, the chief state in Rajputana,
and had also corquered the kings ruling in Malwa and
Gujarat at the cli se of the sixth century.^ In the eastern
portion of Northern India the Maukharis of Kanauj held
sway very prohal)ly as far east as the Brahmaputra called
Lauhitya in ancient days and southwards as far as the



1. See |;3i?HOT%-frO- fffj-^-.ra-j^fl- 3j;^si^Fr^: iTRTtTTi'^TfifcT^Tt arOTR^-
MM^Cr TIcJ^^^^lcTrfrNi^: I H. C, p. 174.



2 BARS HA AND HIS TIMES

Vindhya range which extends accross India into Magadha ;
and they were connected with him by marriage, his
daughter Rajyashri being married to Grahavarmjl of Ka-
nauj. Thus Prabhakaravardhana of Thanesar was in 605
A. D. by far the most powerful king in Hindustan and he
was well justified in assuming the title of Maharajadhiraja
Faramabliattaraka, whereas his father^ and grandfather
were simply Maharajas, as the seal of Harsha found at
Sonpat shows.

But within a year "there was a sudden change in the
fortunes of Prabhakaravardhana though not of his people
or country. The Huns suddenly invaded the northern
boundaries of his dominions and he had time only to send
his elder son Rajyavardhana to oppose and chastise them.
The Maukharis of Kanauj also appear to have fought with
the Huns often, probably in conjunction with the forces of
Thanesar^; but there was no time to call in their aid. Ra-
jyavardhana, the elder son of Prabhakara, was a youthful
prince of about nineteen or twenty at this time and must
probably have been anxious to save his father the trouble
of proceeding against the Huns in person, which he had
often done before. Rajyavardhana proceeded with all haste
towards the Huns of the Panjab, and his younger brother
Harsha followed him as a matter of exercise and hunted
in the jungles at the foot of the Himalayas. Rajyavar-
dhana decisively defeated the Huns and drove theni away
and came back in triumph to Thanesar only to find the
capital immersed in grief by the sudden death of his father.

1, Gupta inscripttons (No. 52) Corp. Ins. Ind. Vol III., p. 231 : —

iTfR'^r-iTfrTr:?rrf5r^iT-?Tr5rw"nfrTT':pr?ff?^^: '4'mc^j^wrmE^^- "^c^fnTT: (
Thus the Maukharis of Kanauj seem to have had fisihts with-the Huns, of course of the
Panjab, '•nd must be supposed to be allied in these conflicts with the iroops of Thanesar
whose country intervened between Kanauj and the country of the Huns.



ACCESSION OF HARSHA 3

llarsha had already returned from his hunting trip on
Hearing of his father's sudden illness and had been by his
bedside at the time of his death. His mother Yasomati
with more than Rajput instinct had preceded her husband
by burning herself on a pyre in spite of the implorations
of Harsha. Thus, by a sudden turn of the wheel of fortune,
Rajyavardhana found himself raised to the throne of Tba-
nesar though rendered inconsolable by the sudden demise
of both his parents. The Buddhist Rajya thought of re-
tiring in favour of the astounded Harsha ; but all such
thoughts were laid aside when just at that momentja mes-
senger arrived with news of the strangest character. The
Guptas of Malwa seem to have been the hereditary enemies
of the Maukharis of Kanauj.' When news spread abroad,
and in ancient India, in spite of the absence of railways
and telegraphs, news always spread very quickly, that
Prabhakara was dead and that his son Rajya had gone
on an expedition against the Huns, Deva Gupta of Malwa
thought it an opportune moment to attack the young king
Grahavarma of Kanauj. He suddenly marched on that
city, killed Grahavarma in a surprise attack and taking
his queen Rajyashrl a prisoner, inhumanly confined her
like an ordinary deliquent, loaded with iron fetters, in a
prison. He thought himself now strong enough to invade
the kingdom of Thanesar itself and commenced his march
towards its capital, though his ally and friend Sasanka
Gupta of Karnasuvarna or Bengal, who had already
marched to his assistance, had not yet arrived. It is not
difficult to understand that the Guptas of Bengal like the
Guptas of Malwa were smarting under the supremacy of
the Maukharis of Kanauj, who had supplanted the power
of th Imperial Guptas and established their sway upto
the Brahmaputra, and were only waiting for an opportu-
nity to wreak their vengeance on them. It is also possible
to c i"fO've that the two Guptas were leagued against

1. ie note on vlaukharis. The enmi'.y of ilie Guplas and the Maukharis seems to

have'' ' h-^reditary and it is p-obably this enmity which explgins the sudden attdalr

•on i\ ly Deva Gupta. The Maukharis seem to have aenerally had the'upperhanc

as a^^ , ■•rom H. 0. (Bdui.) p. 252 KM^f'?T(^^i■ ^>: ^f q'rf^H'^f HT^^- Tltfl?"-

Who ij \ 1 Gupta was we will also try to explain In a special note.



4 HARSHA AND HIS TIMES

Thanesar and Kanauj, because the kings of the latter two-
were now Buddhists. No doubt religious differences, in;
ancient India, at least in the seventh century, were not
of much animosity but still such differences might accen-
tuate political enmities already existing and the kings of
Bengal and Malwa might have been united in harbouring
a wish to run down Grahavarma of Kanauj and Rajyavar-
dhana of Thanesar who were also both young and inexpe-
rienced at this time.

Such was the grave news which reached Rajya, just
raised to the throne of Thanesar and not yet rested from
his fight with the Huns. He was, however, a valiant and
an undaunted warrior. Setting his grief aside he started
immediately, with a view to speedily reach his enemy,
with a mobile force of 10,000 horse under the command of
his trusted general, Bhandi, who was his compeer and
cousin, being a son of his maternal uncle. In spite of
entreaties he left Harsha his younger brother behind at
Thanesar both as a matter of convenience and precaution.
He surprised his enemy Deva Gupta by the suddenness
of his movement and totally defeated him, the latter being
probably killed in action. He marched on to the relief of
Kanauj and met Sasanka of Bengal on the way. The
wheel of destiny which was evidently working from the
first in favour of Harsha now had a third turn and engulfed
Rajya in its working. Sasanka was unequal to face
Rajya and resolved to rid himself of his enemy by a
bold stroke of treachery. He offered his submission to
the youthful king of Thanesar and promised to give his
daughter in marriage to him in atonement for his fault.'
Such was the usual Kshatriya fashion to patch up differ-
ences between contending kings. Rajyavardhana, straight
and confiding, without arms and with a few followers only^
went to the camp of Sasanka and while at a feast was
treacherously murdered by that unscrupulous king. He,

1. The commenta'or on Harsha-Charita makes this sufiSestion which is very likely
n^=:^^ "^"^ ^^^ s^TTlT^: 1 1 H. C„ p. 241.



ACCESSION OF HARSHA &

.then, without attempting to try conclusions with Rajya'a
army commanded by Bhandi, as suddenly marched back
from Kanauj to his kingdom as he had marched to it ;
while a Gupta chief who was in charge of the city of
Kanauj quietly released Rajyashri from confinement' and
sent her away, in order probably to divert the attention of
Bhandi.

Such were the strange, yet not improbable, circum-
stances which, within a few months of the year 606 A. D.
(about May), placed Harsha on the throne of Thanesar
at the early age of 16 '^. They have been very eloquently
■related by Bana, the most famous prose writer of Sanskrit
literature, who was Harsha's contemporary and protegee,
and they are supported to a considerable extent by the
account of Hiuen Tsang, the most famous and trustworthy
traveller of China who was honoured for his Buddhist
learning and piety by Harsha. Young as he was, Harsha
was a man of extraordinary courage, ability and good
fortune like his remote successor Akbar who fought his
first battle at 14, ascended the throne of Dehli a few
months later and assumed absolute power at 18. Harsha
resolved at once on punishing the dastardly Gupta of
Bengal and on rescuing the unfortunate queen of Kanauj.
"He harnessed his army of elephants, horses and* men
with a view not only to conquer Bengal but the whole
of India, for he well surmised that the whole country
would be arrayed against him, unfriended and inexperi-
enced as he apparently was. To quote the poetic ex-
pression of Bana he therefore asked his foreign secretary

1. +i'-4j-



Online LibraryChintaman Vinayak VaidyaHistory of mediæval Hindu India (being a history of India from 600 to 1200 A.D.) .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 2 of 38)