King Harshavardhan Of Vardhana Dynasty
After the downfall of the great Gupta Empire, North India was again broken into pieces. This gave rise to the Vardhana dynasty. Among the other Kings of the dynasty, King Harshavardhan grew to great power. He contributed immensely to the history of ancient India. It was during his period that a Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang visited India.
King Harshavardhan invaded the kingdom of Vallabhi and defeated its ruler. The King gave his daughter in marriage to Harshavardhan. King Harsha also invaded Bengal and defeated its ruler. His empire included the whole of Uttar Pradesh and major parts of Bihar, Bengal and Orissa.
King Harsha was agreat supporter of Buddhism. He worshipped Lord Shiva. Later on in his reign, he became a staunch follower of Mahayana Buddhism. Every year he held a Buddhist assembly where scholars came from all the parts of India, especially from Nalanda University. Moreover. after every five years he organized a huge convocation. It was called ‘Mahamokshaparishad’. He even distributed his wealth among the poor and needy subjects. Animal slaughter and meat eating was strictly prohibited by him in his empire.
He built several rest houses and hospitals around the highways. At the royal palace of Harsha, thousands of Buddhist monks and Brahmins were fed. The King’s day was divided into three periods, where one part was devoted for the governmental affairs and the other two were divided into religious activities.
King Harsha was a generous patron of literature and learning. He wrote three dramas namely, ‘Ratnavali’, Priyadarsika’ and Nanganand’. Many famous literary personalities like Banabhatta lived in his court. Bana wrote the well-known autobiography called ‘Harshacharita’.
Liberal donations were offered by Harsha’s government to promote educational institutions. The most famous university during his period was the Nalanda University. It attracted thousands of students from different parts of Asia.
King Harshavardhan was one of the most charitable and just rulers of India who worked very hard to secure the welfare and happiness of his subjects. His generosity and tolerance towards different religions makes him a remarkable historical personality. He had a great ambition to challenge all the other Kings. Thus, King Harshavardhan out as a great emperor, a brave warrior, a wise administrator and a liberal patron of literature.