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Harsha’s Military Conquests

Harsha’s Military Conquests

  • On his accession in 606 CE Harsha focused his attention on the affairs of his sister Rajyasri who had fled to Vindhya mountains to escape from the evil design of Deva Gupta of Malwa to covet her.
  • Harsha went to Vindhya mountain ranges and succeeded in saving his sister who was about to burn herself after killing Deva Gupta.
  • Harsha consoled Rajyasri and brought her back to the kingdom of Kanauj.
  • Later Rajyasri took to Buddhism and was instrumental in converting Harsha to Buddhism.
  • According to Bana, Harsha, in an effort to build an empire, sent an ultimatum to the following kings to either surrender or be prepared for a battle:
    1. Sasanka, the Gauda ruler of Bengal.
    2. The Maithrakas of Valabhi and Gurjara of Broach region.
    3. The Chalukya king, Pulikesin II, in the Deccan
    4. Rulers of Sindh, Nepal, Kashmir, Magadha, Odra (northern Odisha) and Kongoda (another geographical unit in ancient Odisha).
  • Harsha’s immediate task was to take revenge on Sasanka.
  • Harsha entered into an alliance with the king of Kamarupa (Pragiyaotisha), which is today the modern Assam.
  • But there is hardly any detail of the war between Harsha and Sasanka.
  • However, Harsha seems to have successfully subjugated the Gauda Empire, which included Magatha, Gouda, Odra and Kongoda only after the death of Sasanka.
  • The hostilities between Harsha and the Maithrakas ended in the marriage of Dhruvabhatta with the daughter of Harsha.
  • Soon, Valabhi became a subordinate ally of Harsha.

Pulikesin II, the Chalukya King

  • Harsha sought to extend his authority southward into the Deccan.
  • However the Chalukya king Pulikesin II, who controlled the region, humbled Harsha.
  • In commemoration of his victory over Harsha, Pulikesin assumed the title of “Parameswara”.
  • Inscriptions in Pulikesin’s capital Vatapi attest to this victory.

Extent of Harsha’s Empire

  • Harsha ruled for 41 years.
  • His feudatories included those of Jalandhar (in the Punjab), Kashmir, Nepal and Valabhi.
  • Sasanka of Bengal remained hostile to him.
  • Though it is claimed that Harsha’s Empire comprised Assam, Bengal, Bihar, Kanauj, Malwa, Odisha, the Punjab, Kashmir, Nepal and Sindh, his real sway did not extend beyond a compact territory between the Ganges and Yamuna rivers.
  • The kingdom of Harsha disintegrated rapidly into small states after his death.

Harsha’s Relations with China

  • Harsha had cordial relations with China.
  • The contemporary T’ang emperor, Tai Tsung, sent an embassy to his court in 643 and again in 647 CE.
  • On the second occasion, the Chinese ambassador found that Harsha had recently died.
  • On learning that the throne had been usurped by an undeserving king, the Chinese ambassador rushed to Nepal and Assam to raise a force to dislodge the usurper.
  • Later, the king who had usurped the throne was taken to China as a prisoner.

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