The Harshacharita (Sanskrit: हर्षचरित, Harṣacarita) (The deeds of Harsha), is the biography of Indian emperor Harsha by Banabhatta, also known as Bana, who was a Sanskrit writer of seventh-century CE India. He was the Asthana Kavi, meaning Court Poet, of Harsha. The Harshacharita was the first composition of Bana and is considered to be the beginning of writing of historical poetic works in Sanskrit language.
The Harshacharita ranks as the first historical biography in Sanskrit although it is written in a florid and fanciful style. Bana's detailed and vivid descriptions of rural India's natural environment as well as the extraordinary industry of the Indian people exudes the vitality of life at that time. Since he received the patronage of the emperor Harsha, his descriptions of his patron are not an unbiased appraisal and presents the emperor's actions in an overly favourable light.
The Harṣacharita, written in ornate poetic prose, narrates the biography of the emperor Harsha in eight ucchvāsas (chapters). In the first two ucchvāsas, Bana gives an account of his ancestry and his early life.
The only commentary available is the Sanketa written by Shankara, a scholar from Kashmir. It seems that Ruyyaka also wrote a commentary known as the Harsacaritavartika, which has not yet been found.
The work was translated into English by Edward Byles Cowell and Frederick William Thomas in 1897. The military historian Kaushik Roy describes Harshacharita as "historical fiction" but with a factually correct foundation.
- Keay, John (2000). India: A History. New York: Grove Press. pp. 161–162. ISBN 0-8021-3797-0.
- Basham, A. L. (1981) . The wonder that was India. Calcutta: Rupa & Co. p. 433.
- Rapson, E. J. (April 1898). "The Harṣa-carita of Bāṇa by E. B. Cowell; F. W. Thomas". The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland: 448–451. JSTOR 25208004.
- Roy, Kaushik (2013). "Bana". In Coetzee, Daniel; Eysturlid, Lee W. Philosophers of War: The Evolution of History's Greatest Military Thinkers. ABC-CLIO. pp. 21–22. ISBN 978-0-313-07033-4.
- Ashok Kaushik. Harsh Charit by Bann Bhatt (in Hindi), Diamond Pocket Books, Delhi