Monday, May 3, 2010



The rule of Harshavardhana from (606-647AD) being the only consolidated rule after the

Guptas. The predecessors of Harshavardhana was from Thaneshwar. Harshavardhana was the

younger son of Prabhakara Vardhana, Raja of Thaneshwar. Prabhakaravardhana died in 605

AD. Prabhakaravardhana's

daughter Rajyasri was

married to the king

Maukhari King

Grahavarman. Sasanka the

king of Gauda, with the

help of the king of Malwa

defeated and killed

Grahavarman of Kannauj

and imprisoned Rajyasri.

Rajyavardhan who then

ruled Kannauj advanced

against Sasanka to avenge

his sisters fate. But he was

killed by Sasanka. Thus

the throne of Kannauj

became vacant and

Harshavardhana had to

ascend the throne.

Harshavardhana pursued a

policy of conquest to

consolidate his authority

over north India. Punjab,

Kannauj, parts of Bihar

and Bengal formed a part

of his kingdom as a result

of his conquests. By 612 Harshavardhana consolidated his kingdom in northern India. The

problems caused by the small independent kingdoms who were engaged in conflicts among

themselves was overcome after the subjection of these petty states extending from the east to

west. In 620AD Harshavardhana invaded the Chalukya kingdom in the Deccan which was

then ruled by Pulakesin II. But the Chalukya resistance proved tough for Harshavardhana and

he was defeated. Thus his kingdom in the south was upto the limit of the Narmada. His

alliance with king Bhaskaravarman the ruler of Kamrupa (Assam) also prove advantageous in


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establishing a strong rule.

Harshavardhana is well known for his religious toleration, able administration and diplomatic

relations. This gives him a position among the other monarchs of the later period whose role

in the construction of the Indian history is significant .

Harshavardhana maintained diplomatic relations with China and sent envoys who exchanged

ideas of the Chinese rulers and developed their knowledge about each other.

Harshavardhanan was a Hindu, but he maintained and impartial toleration towards the other

religions, especially Buddhism which at that time was the religion of the common masses.

Following the path set by Ashoka he bestowed and supported kindness towards animals along

with honouring the Hindu gods, and showed respect to the Brahmanas. Inter religious

assemblies organised at Kannauj and Prayag portrays the religious attitude of

Harshavardhana. Besides favouring religious sentiments he also had a strong perception

towards learning.

To honour Huien Tsang, the Chinese pilgrim who was extraordinary with his ideas about

Buddhist teaching and his romance of adventure to the holy land of Buddha, Harshavardhana

organised the Kannauj Assembly in 643 AD. this was a grand assembly of many rajas

including King Bhaskaravarman of Kamrupa (Assam) and the Vallabhi king Dhuvabhatti.

The Assembly at Kannauj included a large congregation of Brahmans, Buddhist monks ands

Jains, who were involved in religious discourses. The image of Buddha was installed and

royal treasures were distributed. From Kannauj, Hieun Tsang the royal the royal guest was

carried to Prayaga (Allahabad) on the banks of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. The

ceremonies lasted for about two months during which tributes were offered to the Buddha.

This assembly was the sixth held at Allahabad, others regularly performed by

Harshavardhana though through the simple distribution of alms to the poor. Harshavardhana

developed a strong favour towards Mahayana Buddhism after his relation with Hiuem Tsang.

During the rule of Harsha, Kannauj flourished immensely outdoing the grandeurs of

Patilaputra, situated on the Ganges. this ancient town was transformed into a well fortified

city with well planned buildings beautiful gardens and tanks. numerous Buddhist monasteries

and Brahmanical temples were erected. The inhabitants of the city were wealthy and lead a

standard style of life.

Harshavardhana's efficient administration was owing to his personal supervision of his

extensive empire. Regular inspections through an organised civil service and a council of

ministers. Penal code was severe with punishments extending to mutations and banishments.

Land revenue was fixed at one sixth of the production from the land. Many of the provinces

were governed by Rajas.

Harshavardhana's character can be said to be a fusion of the attributes of Samudragupta, in

his military conquests and Ashoka in his religious toleration and statesmanship. He was also


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a scholar and a poet. He was also the last Hindu emperor of Northern India. Harshavardhana

died in about 647 AD. After his death there was disorder in Northern India. During the period

from the death of Harshavardhana to the conquest of the Muslims Indian history circles

around numerous kingdoms in the north and south. The territories of Harsha was parceled

among various rulers.

Narasinghavarman, the Pallava King of Kanchi, became the sovereign power in the

peninsula. King Bhaskravarman of Assam annexed the territories formerly under


PERIOD FROM (647 A.D. TO 1200 A.D. )

The history of the Kingdom of Kannauj after the death of Harshavardhana can be said to have

been uncertain till the year 730 AD, when Yashovarman is said to have ruled till 752AD.

This was followed by the Ayudha dynasty which comprised three kings. The first was

Yajrayudha who is said to have (accee) ruled in about 770AD. He was defeated by Jayapida

Vinayaditya of Kashmir who ruled from (779 to 810 AD). The next ruler was Chakrayudha.

The influence of the Rashtrakutas increased gradually in the north. Kannauj was annexed by

a new class of rulers called the Prathiharas.

The Pratiharas

The Pratiharas were one of the thirty six clans of the Rajputs. They are said to have come to

India during the invasion of the Huns and settled in the Punjab Rajputana region. They

advanced to the Aravalli region and advanced till Ujjain. Harichandra, a brahmin is said to

have laid the foundation of this dynasty in the 6th century AD near Jodhpur.

The Pratiharas were said to be from the Agnikula family. Harichandra had two wives one of

whom was a Brahmin and the other was a Kshatriyas. A branch of the Pratiharas who ruled in

the (Jodhpur) Gurjaratra was known as Gurjara.

Nagabhatta I was the first ruler of the Pratiharas who ruled from (730-756AD) over Broach

and Jodhpur, and extended his dominion till Gwalior. He is also well known for repulsing the

invasion of the Melcchas, Arabs of Sind to the east and checking their expansion.

Nagabhatta I was succeeded by two weak successors. They were succeeded by Vatsraja from

(775-800AD). He was an ambitious ruler who desired to dominate the whole of North India.

His intention to control Kannauj brought him into conflict with the Pala ruler Dharampala.

When he waged a war with the Rashtrakuta ruler Dhurva and was defeated. He died in


Vatsraja was succeeded by Nagabhatta II who ruled from (805-833AD) with his able military

capability and administrator ship. The internal problems among the Rashtrakutas helped his

victory over rulers of Andhra, Sindhu, Vidharba and Kalinga. He also attacked Kannauj and


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occupied it. He also checked the Muslim advancement in the west and defeated the Matsayas

in the north. He also defeated the Vatsas.

The Pala ruler Dharmapala who's father was defeated by Nagabhatta's father sought revenge.

Thus started an allied struggle against Dharmapala assisted by the ruler of Jodhpur, Kalhiwar

and Mewar. Dharmapala was defeated and his territories up to Bihar were annexed.

Nagabhatta had to fight Govinda III who was supported by the vanquished Dharmapala and

in 809AD Nagabhatta was defeated. He then diverted his attention away from the Rashtrakuta

authority. He was succeeded by an incapable successor Rambhadra.

Rambhadra was succeeded by Mihirbhoj who ruled from 840 to 890 AD. His period of rule

was divided into two parts. In the first period of his reign he suffered losses and defeats. The

second period marks a period of his regaining of his lost prestige and position. His

expansionist policy in the east was checked by the ruler of Bengal Devapala. Mihirbhojs idea

of taking advantage of the internal conflict of the Rashtrakutas in the south did not succeed .

His defeat made him weak and some of his subordinates declared independence.

After the death of Devapala , and because of the weak successors after him, Mihirbhoj

established himself in the east. With no resistance from the Rashtrakuta ruler he defeated the

Pala King Narayanapala and expanded his territory to the west. After defeating the

Rashtrakuta ruler Krishna II he expanded towards Malwa and Kathiawar. KrishnaII avenged

his defeat against Mihirbhoj near Ujjain. He thus carved out a large empire for himself with

many rulers accepting his supremacy.He was succeeded by his son Mahendrapala I who ruled

from (885 AD to 910 AD).

Mahendrapala I successfully maintained the territories he inherited besides adding to it parts

of North Bengal, Magadha, and western Assam. Mahendrapala was succeeded by Bhoja II he

was overthrown by Mahipala, who ruled from 912 to 914. This was the period when the

Rashtrakuta power was on the rise. The weak position of Mahipala was taken as an

opportunity by the Chandelas, the Chedis and the Paramaras who declared themselves

independent. After the attack by Indra II of the Rashtrakuta Kingdom, the Kingdom of the

Pratiharas were divided into various principalities. Gujarat was under the Chalukyas, Gwalior

was under the Kachhaghals, the Kalachuris ruler over central India. The Chandelas ruled over

Jajakabhukti and the Paramaras ruled over Malwa. The process of the disintegration of the

Pratihara empire continued , by the 10th Century AD the empire shrunk into a small

kingdom. In 1018AD when Mahmud Ghaznavi invaded Kannauj the ruler Rajapala decided

not to face him but fled the city. This caused resentment in the Chandela ruler Gauda, who

sent his son Vidydhar to invade Kannauj. He defeated and killed Rajyapala but placed

Trilochanpala Rajyapala's son on the throne. The last ruler of the dynasty was Jasapala who

ruled up to 1036 AD before Pratihara dynasty came to an end. Contemporary to the Pratiharas

were the Palas and Senas of Bengal.


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The Palas

Before the coming of the Palas to power in Bengal, and after the death of Sasanka Bengal

reflected a picture of disorder. The pala dynasty was founded by Gopala in about 750AD. His

ruler lasted for about 25 years. The dynasty remained in power for about 300 years Gopala

was succeeded by Dharma Pala in 775 and ruled till 810AD. He had inherited a consolidated

kingdom, but to keep his supremacy he had to fight both the Pratiharas and the Rashtrakutas.

Both these powers managed to suppress Dharmapala ,but owing to differences among them

Dharmapala took advantage of this. In a war with Nagabhatta II, Dharamapala was defeated.

Dharmapala was a good administrator had contributed to change Bengal into a prestigious

and prosperous empire. Devpala succeeded Dharamapala and ruled for about 40 years. After

ascending the throne he fought against the Pratiharas and spread his kingdom upto the

Himalayan region in the north the Vindhyas in the south.

The Pratiharas and Rastrakutas failed to check the advancement of Devapala. He was known

for his diplomatic skill which he pursued to maintain his over lordship in areas which could

not be conquered. The role of Bengal in the North Indian politics was very significant during

this period. Devapala was succeeded by Mahipala I. He ruled form 988 to 1033 AD. He is

said to be the founder of the second Pala kingdom. The immediate successors of Devapala

were weak and incompetent. Thus for a period of forty years there was chaos in Bengal.

Mahipala I had to rebuilt their empire. Even their homeland Bengal had to be recovered.

The Palas were in power for about 400 years. During this period their rulers proved their

capable administration, military skill, and capacity to protect North India from the onslaught

of the Pratiharas and Rastrakutas. The rulers also had shone religious toleration towards

Buddhist art, literature and learning. Bengali art, literature and paintings flourished under the

royal patronage of the rulers of the Pala dynasty.

The Senas

After the fall of the Palas, the Senas came to prominence in Bengal. They are said to have

been from the Brahmana Kshatriya caste. They are said to have originally come from

Karnataka in South India. Having settled in Northern Orissa they gradually extended their

kingdom to the North. Samantsena was the founder of this dynasty. He was succeeded by

Hemant Sena who could not consolidate his position in Bengal.

Vijayasena succeeded Hemantasena and ruled from (1095-1158). In his rule of sixty years he

defeated the Palas and brought almost the whole of Bengal under control. He concluded an

alliance with Kalinga and defeated the rulers of Kotatavi and Kausambi., Govinda Chandra

the ruler of Kannauj and Nangadeva, the ruler of Methila. The last Pala ruler Madanapala was

also defeated by him. After defeating Bhoja Varman he annexed the territories of East Bengal

thus bringing the whole of Bengal under his rule. Bihar too came under his dominion after the


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defeat of Madanapala the last Pala ruler. Vijayasena was an able administrator who was an

ardent supporter of peace and prosperity. Besides bring economic prosperity he also

promoted art and literature. Vijayasena was succeeded by his son Balalsena who ruled from

1158 to 1178 AD. Having inherited a consolidated empire he devoted most of his time to

stabilizing and maintaining peace. He is also said to have added parts of Bihar and Mithila to

the Sena Empire. He is also known for reorganizing the caste system in Bengal. He also was

a reputed scholar and author of his times and is famous for his two works Dansegara and

Adyuta Sagara.

Lakhmanasena was the next successor to the Sena throne, who ruled from 1179 to 1205AD.

Despite his old age of sixty when he succeeded to the throne he had proved to be a great

warrior and had led to the subjection of Kamarupa, defeat of the Gahadavale King of

Kannauj. Even after coming to the throne of the Sena Kingdom he defeated the ruler of

Kannauj. Jaya Chandra, brought large parts of Bihar under his control and also resisted of

Kalachuris. At the later stages of his rule his kingdom began to disintegrate with some nobles

and chiefs declaring themselves independent in South and East Bengal. During this period,

Bengal was invaded by Muhammad-bin-Bakhtya Khilji. Lakshmansena was defeated and had

to flee. He died in 1205AD. After his death his successors could not resist the onslaught of

the Muslim invaders after the later half of the thirteenth century.

The Senas had given political stability to Bengal after the fall of the Palas. Hinduism is also

said to have flourished during their rule. With the development of Sanskrit literature, eminent

poets like Jayadeva the author of the Gita Govinda were patronised during the rule of the


The Chauhans

The Chauhans were a clan of the Rajputs. They are said to have ruled from 700AD upto

1200AD over parts of Rajasthan near Ajmer. The founder of this dynasty was Vasudeva. The

influence of the Pratiharas upon this dynasty had made them subordinates are reduced them

to a feudatory. In the 9th century AD Vakpatiraja, a ruler of the Chauhans caused a change in

the supremacy of the Pratiharas. He established the independent status of the dynasty and

paved the way for further glory.


His name in the history of the Chauhans is well known for defeating the successors of

Mahmud Ghaznavi and occupying the whole of Delhi, Bundelkhand and a part of Punjab. He

was murdered by his son Jagdeva. Jagdeva was murdered by his younger brother Vigraharaja

IV. He is said to have ruled in the middle of the 12th century. Vigraharaja IV was said to be a

brave and powerful ruler, who had fought many battles against both the Muslims and the

Hindus rulers. He brought territories of Delhi and Jhansi, Punjab, Rajputana and Western UP


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under his rule. He resisted the advance of the Muslims in India. He was a good administrator

too, besides being a patron of art and literature and also assisted the promotion of education.

Political instability befell the dynasty after Vigraharaja IV. He was succeeded by his son

Apara Gangeya who was killed by his own cousin Prithvi Raj II. He was followed by

Somadeva who was succeeded by Rai Pithora most commonly known as Prithvi Raj

Chauhan. He was one of the most celebrated rulers of the Chauhans. He ruled from 1179-

1192AD. The first task of Prithvi Raj Chauhan was to consolidate his position. Mohammed

Ghori who had annexed western Punjab posed a serious threat to his rule. Besides this the

internal strife and jealousy among the Rajput princes added to the difficulties of Prithvi Raj

Chauhan. Prithvi Raj Chauhan extended the boundaries of his kingdom by conquests. He

defeated the Chandelas and conquered the territory of Bundelkhand. Mohammed Ghori

proposed a peace treaty of Prithvi Raj Chauhan while invading other parts of the country. His

expansionist policy had developed several enemies who posed serious threat to his kingdom.

The important battles which Prithvi Raj Chauhan were;

First Battle of Tarain (1191)

This battle was fought by Prithvi Raj Chauhan to stop Mohammed Ghori's entry into India. In

this battle he defeated Mohammed Ghori.

Second Battle of Tarain (1192)

This was the battle which sealed the fate of Prithvi Raj Chauhan. In this battle of Prithvi Raj

Chauhan was defeated and killed. With the end of Prithvi Raj Chauhan the dynasty of the

Chauhans also came to an end.

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