Harshavardhana (c. 590–647), commonly called Harsha, was an Indian emperor who ruled North India from 606 to 647 from his capital Kanauj. He belonged to Pushyabhuti Dynasty. He was the son of Prabhakarvardhana who defeated the Huna invaders and the younger brother of Rajyavardhana, a king of Thanesar, Haryana. He was the founder and ruler of the Empire of Harsha and at the height of his power his empire spanned the Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bengal, Odisha and the entire Indo-Gangetic plain north of the Narmada River. Harsha was defeated by the south Indian Emperor Pulakeshin II of the Chalukya dynasty when Harsha tried to expand his Empire into the southern peninsula of India.
After the downfall of the prior Gupta Empire in the middle of the 6th century, North India reverted to small republics and small monarchical states ruled by Gupta rulers. Harsha adopted Buddhism. He united the small republics from Punjab to central India, and their representatives crowned Harsha king at an assembly in April 606 giving him the title of Maharaja when he was merely 16 years old. He established the Empire of Harsha which brought all of northern India under his control. The peace and prosperity that prevailed made his court a center of cosmopolitanism, attracting scholars, artists and religious visitors from far and wide. The Chinese traveller Xuanzang visited the court of Harshvardhan, and wrote a very favourable account of him, praising his justice and generosity.
Legacy of Kumbha Mela
Harsha, who was a Shaiva by faith, began celebration of religious festivals every five years, at the confluence of three rivers (the Ganga, the Yamuna, and the Saraswati) at Prayaga. On this occasion Harsha donated all his personal earnings among people and returned only in single cloth at his kingdom and start a new journey again. It is said to be the beginning of the famous Kumbh Mela of India which still attracts millions of people from all around the world.
- India: History, Religion, Vision and Contribution to the World, by Alexander P. Varghese p.26
- Ancient India by Ramesh Chandra Majumdar p.274
- "Harsha". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- International Dictionary of Historic Places: Asia and Oceania by Trudy Ring, Robert M. Salkin, Sharon La Boda p.507
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Harsha.|
- Reddy, Krishna (2011), Indian History, Tata McGraw-Hill Education Private Limited, New Delhi
- Price, Pamela (2007), Early Medieval India, HIS2172 - Periodic Evaluation, University of Oslo