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Harshavardhana (606-647 AD)

  • Political Conquests: Harsha was the son of Prabhakaravardhana, the Pushyabuti king of Thanesvar. Harsha’s mother was Yasomati. Harsha’s elder brother Rajyavardhana ruled over Thaneswar while Harsha’s sister Rajyasri was given in marriage to Grihavarman of Kannauj.
  • Following the murder of Grihavarman of Kannauj and Rajyasri’s confinement, Rajyavardhan attacked Kannauj and defeated the Malaya ruler Devagupta but was killed by Sasanka, the ruler of Gauda through treachery. In these circumstances, Harsa ascended the throne at Kannauj in 606 AD and adopted the title of Rajaputra instead of maharaja and took another name Shiladitya.
  • Immediately on accession he had the double task of punishing his enemies and recovering his sister. Rajyasri who escaped into the Vindhyan forest. He planned on ‘digvijaya’ to achieve his ends. Harsha accepted on offer of alliance from Bhaskaravarman of Kamarupa. Then Harsa marched into the Vindhyan forest and according to Bana was able to rescue his sister just as she was about to take a plunge in the river to commit suicide. Harsa then launched an operation against Sasanaka of Gauda and according to a book Arya Manjusri Mool Kalpa, there was a skirmish between the two kings with Harsha defeating Sasanka and wreaking havoc on the people of Bengal.
  • Harsha then collected a large force and according to Hivan Tsang went from east to west subduing all those who were not obedient; the elephants were not unharnessed nor were the soldiers unhelmetted in about six years when he brought the ‘5 indies’ under his allegiance and became the Lord Paramount of the north. The ‘5 indies’ are stated to be Orissa, Gauda(Bengal), Mithila, Kanyakubja and Svarshtra (Punjab).
  • According to Banabhatta, Harsha seems to have subdued Sindh and a land of snowy mountains (probably Nepal). The king of Kamarupa (Brahmaputra valley) was an ally of Harsha from the beginning. Between 633-641AD, Harsha attacked Dhruvasena II Baladitya, the Maikraka ruler of Valabhi in Gujarat. For some time, Dhruvasena sought the protection of the Gurjara prince, an ally of Pulkesin II, but then made peace with Harsha who gave his daughter in marriage to him and allowed him to continue his rule in a semi-independent capacity not only over Valabhi but also over certain adjoining kingdom. Opinions differ on Harsha’s conquest of Nepal, with some questioning whether Harsha really conquered Nepal.  POST-GUPTA PERIOD

Harsha’s conquests in the deccan suffered a setback following the defeat inflicted on him by Pulakesin II on the banks of Narmada. This is mentioned in the Aihole inscription of Pulakesin II authored by Ravi Kirti who describes Harsha as the lord of the whole of northern country (sakalottarapatheshvara). Sasanka’s death paved the way for the extension of Harsha’s empire towards the east. In 643 AD he conquered Kongoda (ganjam). This formed the limit of his empire which included Orissa, 80 townships of which he offered as a gift to a local Buddhist monk Jayasena.

  • Harsha governed his empire on the same lines as the Guptas did, except that his administration had become more feudal and decentralized. Land grants continued to be made to priests alongwith officers.
  • Economy
    • The economy became increasingly more feudal and self-sufficient.
    • The decline of trade and commerce which started during the Gupta period itself went on unabated during harsha’s reign. This is evident from the decline of trade centres, paucity of coins and almost complete disappearance of guilds of traders and merchants.
    • The decline of trade and commerce affected the handicrafts production and even agriculture. The agriculturist now began to produce only that much which was required to meet his own needs and those of locality but not for the market. This led to the rise of a self-sufficient village economy.
    • The self-sufficient village economy in which all the needs of the village were met from within was known as the ‘Jajmani’ system.
  • Society
    • This period witnessed the ascendancy of Varnashramadharma. Both Banabhatta and Hiuen Tsang talk about the existence of various sub-castes called Varnasamkaras. The rise of these castes was due to several causes like violation in the code of marriages and general ethics, the proliferation of crafts and assimilation of several new tribes into the Brahmanical fold.
    • The position of women seems to have suffered a further decline during this period. The institution of ‘Svayamvara’ declined and there is no instance of its practice in the contemporary literature. Remarriage of widows was not permitted, particularly among the higher varnas. The evil system of dowry, according to Bana, was quite common. Some sources also refer to quite a few examples of the practice of committing ‘Sati’ by higher ‘Varna’ women.  POST-GUPTA PERIOD
  • Religion
    • Harsha was probably a Saiva in faith, but he was not only tolerant of, but actually
      devoted to other religious sects as well. He endowed numerous religious establishments both brahmanical and buddhist. Later in his life, he seems to have shown a distinct partiality towards Buddhism and forbade the slaughter of animals. He is said to have erected thousands of Buddhist Stupas on the banks of the Ganga, and a number of monasteries at the sacred places of the Buddhists.
  • Literature
    • Harsha wrote the books Ratnavali, Naganada and Priyadarshika
    • Banabhatta wrote the books Harshacharita, Kadambari and Parvatiparinay.
    • Hiuen Tsang’s account of his experiences in India are in the book ‘Si-Yu-Kr’. The biography of Hiuen Tsang is known as Hui-Li.

Pallavas of Kanchipuram (560-903 AD) [POST-GUPTA PERIOD]

  • Simhavishnu: He was the first important Pallava ruler though Pallavas existed even during the time of Samudragupta’s invasion of South India. He is credited with capturing the territory of the Cholas and humiliating his other southern neighbours, including Ceylon.
  • Mahendravarman I: He was defeated by the Chalukyan ruler Pulakesin II. He patronised the Saint Appar and the scholar Bharavi. Mahendravarman I wrote a famous satirical play called ‘Mattavilasaprahasan’.
  • Narasimhavarman I: He was the greatest Pallava ruler. He is credited with repelling the second invasion of Pulakesin II, killing him and capturing the Chalukyan capital, Vatapi. Hence he assumed the title of Vatapikaonda (conqueror of Vatapi). He also defeated the Cholas, Cheras and Pandyas. Besides, he sent two naval expeditions to Ceylon and helped his ally, a Ceylonese prince (Manavarman), to capture the throne of Ceylon. Hiuen Tsang visited Kanchipuram during the reign of Narasimhavarman I. Known as ‘Mamalla’, Narasimhavarman I founded the city of Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram) and the famous monolithic rock-cut temples.  POST-GUPTA PERIOD
  • Mahendravarman II: He ruled for a very short period, since he was killed by Chalukya King, Vikramaditya I.
  • Paramesvaravarman I: he also had to face the invading forces of Vikramaditya I, but finally succeeded in defeating and driving them back.
  • Narasimhavarman II: Known also as Rajasimha, his rule is marked by peace and prosperity, literary activity and the construction of large and beautiful temples. He is also said to have sent embassies to China, and maritime trade flourished during his reign.
  • Paramesvaravarman II: But the Pallava kingdom again had to face defeat and humiliation during his reign from Chalukya Vikramaditya II.  POST-GUPTA PERIOD
  • Nandivarman II: Vikramaditya II again invaded and captured the Pallava capital. Nandivarman-II had to purchase peace by giving his daughter in marriage and paying a huge ransom. During his reign, several old temples were renovated and new ones like the Vaikuntaperumal temple at Kanchi were constructed.

Successors: Dantiverman, Nandivarman III, Nripatunga and Aparajita ruled

  • in succession as independent rulers, but the last Pallava ruler Aparajita Pallava was defeated by Aditya Chola by the end of the 9th century with which began the Chola supremacy in South India.

Contribution of the Pallavas [POST-GUPTA PERIOD]

  • The Dravidian style of architecture developed under the Pallavas in four stages called the Mahendra group, Narasimha group, Rajasimha group and Nandivarman group.
  • Mahendra group: The influence of the cave style of architecture to be seen in this group, e.g. rock-cut temples at Bhairavakonda and Anantesvara temple at Undavalli.
  • Narasimha group: The ‘rathas’ or monolithic temples are small temples, each of which is hewn out of a single rock-boulder. These monolithic temples are found at Mamallapuram.
  • Rajasimha group: There are six examples of this group — three at mahabalipuram (shore temple, Isvara temple and Mukunda temple), one at Panamalai in South Arcot and the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchi.
  • Nandivarman group: This group mostly consists of small temples and in no way forms an advance on the achievements of the previous age. The best examples are the temples of Muktesvara and Matangesvara at Kanchipuram.  POST-GUPTA PERIOD
  • The Pallavas also contributed to the developed of sculpture in South India. The Pallava sculpture is indebted to the Buddhist tradition than to any other. It is more monumental and linear in form, thus avoiding the typical ornamentation of the Deccan sculpture. The best example is the ‘Descent of the Ganga’ or ‘Arjuna’s Penance’ at Mahabalipuram.
  • Education in the early days was controlled by the Jainas and Buddhsits. The Jaina institutions were located at Madurai and Kanchi. But soon Brahmanical institutions superseded them. The ‘Ghatikas’ or brahmanical institutions were attached to the temples and mostly confined to advance study. In the 8th century AD the ‘maths’ also became popular. In all these institutions, Sanskrit was the medium of instruction, because it was also the official language.
  • Both Bharavi and Dandin, the authors of Kiratarjuniya and Dasakumaracharita respectively, lived in the Pallava court. The Pallava king Mahendravarman I wrote the satirical play ‘Mattavilasa Prahasana’.
  • The Pallavas patronised trade and commerce. An elaborate network of trading routes were formed. We have references to key trading places called ‘Nagarams’, the most famous of which was Manigramam.
  • The Pallavas recruited and commanded large armies. They also laid the foundation of a naval squadron which was later taken to the next level by the Cholas.

Chalukyas of Badami (543-755 AD) [POST-GUPTA PERIOD]

  • Pulkesin I: He was the founder of the Chalukya Dynasty. He established a small kingdom with Badami (vatapi) as its capital.
  • Kirtivarman I: The son of Pulakesin I, expanded the kingdom by wars against the kadambas of Banavasi and the Nalas of Baster.
  • Mangalesa: On the death of Kirtivarman, his brother Mangalesa became the regent, since his son, Pulakesin II was minor.  POST-GUPTA PERIOD
  • Pulakesin II (609-642 AD): Considered as the greatest of the Badami Chalukyas. The achievements of Pulakesin II are known to us from his Aihole inscription written in Prakrit by his court poet Ravi Kirti. Pulakesin II had to wage a civil war against his uncle Mangalesa to capture power. He defeated the rebel feudatory Appayika, and pardoned his confederate, Govinda. He also established his suzerainty over the neighbours such as kadambas of Banavasi, the Alupas of South Kanara, the Gangas of Mysore, and the Mauryas of north Konkan. Pulakesin II defeated Harshavardhana on the banks of the Narmada and also got the voluntary submission of Latas, Malwas and Gurjaras. Pulakesin II in his first expedition against Pallava kingdom defeated Mahendravarman I. But in his second expedition against eh Pallavas he was defeated by the Pallava king Narasimhavarman I who not only drove back the Chalukyan armies, but also invaded the Chalukya kingdom, killed Pulkesin II and captured Vatapai (Badami) and assumed the title of Vatapikonda. Pulakesin II also sent an embassy to the Persian king Khusrau II and received an embassy from him. Hiuen Tsang, the Chinese traveller visited the Chalukyan kingdom during the times of Pulakesin II.
  • Vikramaditya I: After about twelve years, he not only drove out the occupying Pallava forces, but also consolidated the kingdom and plundered the Pallava capital, Kanchi.
  • Vinayaditya: His reign was generally peaceful and prosperous.
  • Vijayaditya: It was the longest and also the most prosperous and peaceful reign.
  • Vikramaditya II: His reign is significant for the successful invasion of the Pallava kingdom three times, and repelling the Arab invasion of South Gujarat.  POST-GUPTA PERIOD
  • Kirtivarman II: the last Chalukyan ruler of Badami, defeated by Dantidurga, the founder of the Rashtrakuta dynasty.

Contribution of the Chalukyas [POST-GUPTA PERIOD]

  • The central government under the Chalukyas of Badami exercised a paternalistic control over the village administration which is unlike the administrative practice of South India.
  • The army of the Chalukyas consisted of a small standing army, but civil administration whenever the need arose.
  • They patronised education and learning. They promoted both Sanskrit and Prakrit.
  • A famous Chalukyan feudal lord Gangaraja Durvinita wrote a famous book on grammar known as Shabdavatara. He also translated the book Brihatkatha written by Gunadya into Sanskrit.
  • Udayadeva wrote a grammar book known as Jainendra Vyakarana.  POST-GUPTA PERIOD
  • Somadeva Suri wrote the book Nitivakyamrita about morality.
  • Though Chalukyas were Brahmanical hindus, they promoted other religions also. Jainism made much progress under them.
  • The Chalukyas developed the Deccan or Vesara style in the building of structural temples: They perfected the art of stone-building, i.e. stones finely joined without mortar. The Buddhists, Jainas and Brahmins completed with each other in building cave temples. Though the cave frescoes began earlier, some of the finest specimens belonged to the Chalukya era. At Ajanta, we notice a painting depicting the reception given to a Persian embassy by Pulakesin II.
  • The Deccan or Vesara style of temple of the Chalukyas are constructed in two phases, first at Aihole and Badami and then the second phase at Pattadkal.  POST-GUPTA PERIOD
  • First Phase
    • Aihole (City of temples)
    • Ladh Khan temple at Aihole — a flat roofed building.
    • Durga temple — an attempt to integrate a Buddhist Chaitya into a brahmanical temple.
    • Hacimaligudi — very similar to Durga temple but smaller than it.
    • Jain temple at Meguti — Shows some progress in the execution of structural temples, but it is unfinished.
    • Badami (Vatapi)
    • Melagitti Sivalaya — small but finely proportioned temple.
    • 4 rock cut halls — 3 of hinduism and 1 of Jainism.
  • Second Phase
    • Pattadkal — Ten temples of which four are in northern style and six are in southern style.
    • Papanatha temple is built in northern style.
    • Virupaksha and Sangameshwar temple are built in Southern style.  POST-GUPTA PERIOD

Ideas in Science and Technology:

Ancient Indians made immense contributions in science and technology.

  • Physics:
    • Ancient Indians conceived of the universe as composed of panchabhutas on five elements — water, earth, land, five, ether — each a medium of sense perception. They certainly knew the existence of atom and even molecules long before the greeks. The atom was considered eternal, invisible and occupying the minutest space. The Vaiseshika school elaborated the atomic theory as no other school did. The atomic theories of ancient India were brilliant and imaginative explanations of the physical structures of the world, and many of them anticipated the theories of modern physics as when Brahmagupta (later 6th and early 7th century) anticipated Newton by declaring that ‘All things fall to earth by law of nature, for it is the nature of the earth to attract and keep things.
  • Mathematics:
    • Indians made three district contributions regarding the notation system, decimal system and zero usage.
    • The Indian notation system was adopted by the arabs who then spread it in the western world. The Indian numerals are called Arabic in English, but the arabs themselves called their numbers hindsa. These numerals are found in Ashokan inscriptions of 3rd century B.C.
    • Indians were the first to use the decimal system. The earliest epigraphic evidence of use of decimal system in beginning of 5th century A.D. The famous mathematician Aryabhatta was acquainted with it. The Chinese learnt this system from Buddhist missionaries, and the Western world borrowed it from Arabs.  POST-GUPTA PERIOD

Zero was discovered by Indians in 2nd century B.C. Since then, it was considered as a separate numeral and used in this sense in Arithmetic. Alberuni says that it was Brahmagupta who gave zero it’s status in Mathematics. Many scholars contend that the level of Mathematics reached by Indians by about Gupta times was for ahead of the rest of the world, they had a clearer conception of abstract number, distinct from numerical quantity. Although both greeks and Indians contributed to discipline of algebra, in W. Europe it was furrowed not from Greece but from Arabs who borrowed it from India. Indians devised simple algebra which allowed more complicated calculations than were possible for Greeks to Brick constructions of Harappa show that in the Northwest, people had sound knowledge of geometry. Knowledge of Geometry is reflected in the Sulvasutras of 5th century B.C. Aryabhatta formulated the rule for finding out the area of a triangle which led to origin of Trigonometry. Aryabhatta’s famous work in Gupta Period, Suryasiddhanta is one the like of which is not found in contemporary transient east.

  • Astronomy:
    • Astronomy made great progress because planets came to be regarded as Gods and their movements were closely observed. The earliest source dealing exclusively with astronomy is the Jyotisha vedanga (500 B.C.) which contains rules for calculating the position of new and full moon amongst the 27 nakshatras.
    • Aryabhatta remodeled astronomy on a scientific basis. He explained the true cause of solar and lunar eclipses, stated that the sun is stationary and the earth rotates around the sun. He gave the value of = 3.1416, he stated that the earth was spherical in shape in his book called Aryabhattiya composed in 499 A.D.
    • Varahamihira, another astronomer lived in the gupta period. His magnum opus, Brihatsamhita belongs to the 6th century A.D. He stated that the moon rotates around the earth and the earth rotates around the sun. He had encyclopaedic knowledge and was eminent in other sciences also. His work is an authoritative source on Astrology.  POST-GUPTA PERIOD
  • Chemistry:
    • Development of metallurgy can be treated to the Harappan Period. Excellent specimens of iron tools and implements unearthed in the Megalithic tombs of south India (around 500 B.C.). Around 100 A.D., there was greater development of metallurgy with large scale production of various metals like gold, silver, copper, Iron, brass and other alloys. Indian steel products were exported to the west during the Post­-Mauryan period. Further development in gupta period as can be seen in huge copper statue of Buddha from Sultanganj and Iron Pillar of Mehrauli at Delhi of gupta ruler Chandragupta II.
  • Medicine:
    • Beginning is in the form of Ayurveda (the science of life) emerging out of the Vedas. A large number of hymns in Atharvaveda associated with Ayurveda. Charka in 100 A.D. compiled Charakasamhita refers to various diseases with cure and treatments, also about Prevention and control through diet.
    • Susruta composed the Susrutasamhita which talks about various kinds of diseases and operations with anaesthesia, surgical instruments, cataract, rhinoplasty etc.
  • Grammar and Linguistics:
    • Every Vedic Prayer and every mantra should be recited with meticulous correctness, this led to production of Sanskrit grammar as in Astadhyayi of Panini in 400 B.C. and Mahabhasya of Patanjali 2nd century B.C.  POST-GUPTA PERIOD

Six Schools of Philosophy [POST-GUPTA PERIOD]

By the beginning of the Christian era, six schools of philosophy developed in India. All these schools have atleast two doctrines in common-Transmigration of souls and belief in Salvation (release from transmigration).

  • Vedanta: Vedanta means end of the veda or the goal of the veda. The Brahmasutra of Badrayana compiled in the 2nd century B.C. formed it’s basic text on which commentaries were written later by Shankaracharya in the 9th century A.D. and Ramanuj in the 12th century A.D. The fundamental tenet of tthis school is ‘tat tvam asi’ which means ‘thou art that’ signifying the identity of the individual soul with brahma which is the universal soul. The individual soul is not a part of, or emanation of the brahma but identical with it. Brahma is the only reality and the world around us is an illusion (maya) which we fail to understand because of our ignorance. So, it is through knowledge that we realize the knowledge of the self, he then realises the knowledge of the brahma and thus attains salvation Vedanta is also known as Uttaramimanasa.  POST-GUPTA PERIOD
  • Mimansa: It is concerned with the practical side of Vedic religion as found in the brahmanas and the literature on ritual. According to Mimanasa, Vedas contain the eternal truth. It mainly discusses the sacred ceremonies and the rewards gained from their performance. It says that articulated sounds are eternal and there is a connection between a word and a sense, eventually leading to the doctrine of sphota. So, in order to attain salvation, the mimansa school strongly recommended the performance of Vedic sacrifices.

Nyaya: It’s a school of analysis and was developed as a system of logic Nyaya was founded by Akshapada, literally the eye footed. The tenants of this system were set forth in the Nyayasutra of Gotama. Gotama considered that salvation can be attained through the acquisition of Gotama recognized four forms of true knowledge-perception, inference, analogy and credible testimony. Inference, however, overshadows the other three as a means for attaining knowledge. This school influenced Indian scholars who took to systematic thinking and reasoning.

  • Vaiseshika: The school derives it’s name from the word Visesha (particularity). The founder of this school is uluka kanda. Initially, the Vaiseshika school was an atheistic school which promulgated an atomistic account of the universe. It was based on the concept that everything in this world (except time, space, consciousness, mind, soul) is composed of various combinations of atoms which remain after a material object has been reduced to it’s smallest part. It marked the beginning of physics in Indian. When the Vaiseshika school merged with Nyaya system, it became theistic through the introduction of the concept of God.
  • Samkhya: It literally means ‘count’. Founded by Kapila. The monistic theory of early Upanishads was opposed by Kapila who founded Samkhya system which is dualistic in character. It admits of two entities prakriti (nature) and purusha (spirit) which are without beginning and end but essentially different. This system talks of the mutual relation between these two entities. According to Kapila, matter is not illusory, but is real. Souls are not conceived as emanations from the worldly soul but as infinite multitude of individual souls. Initially, the Samkhya system was atheistic, however under the influence of the yoga system with which it coalesced, it became theistic.  POST-GUPTA PERIOD
  • Yoga: Yoga system is complementary to Samkhya system. It’s founder was Patanjali. According to yoga school, a person can attain salvation through meditation and physical application. Practise of control over pleasure, senses and bodily organs is central to this system. In order to obtain salvation, physical exercises in various postures called asanas are prescribed and breathing exercises called pranayama is recommended. Through these methods, the mind gets diverted from worldly mothers and achieves concentration.
  • The above six systems of philosophy are idealistic in nature and promote the notion of attaining salvation. But within these six system, samkhya and Vaisheshika systems also promote the materialist view of life. Materialistic ideas also appear in the doctrines of Ajivikas, a heterodox sect in the time of the Buddha. But, it was Charvaka who was the main expounder of the materialistic philosophy. This philosophy came to be known as the Lokayata, which means the ideas derived from the common people. It underlined the importance of intimate contact with the world (loka) and showed lack of belief in the other world. He denied the existence of God and was opposed to the quest for spiritual salvation. He accepted the reality of only those things which could be experienced by human senses and organs.  POST-GUPTA PERIOD


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