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  • HARSHAVARDHANA (606 – 647 A.D.)

    • beginning of the seventh century A.D. that Harshvardhana succeeded in establishing a larger kingdom in north India.
    • chief sources for tracing the history of Harsha and his times are the Harshacharita written by Bana and the Travel accounts of Hiuen Tsang
    • Bana was the court poet of Harsha. Hiuen Tsang was the Chinese traveler who visited India in the seventh century A.D
    • the dramas written by Harsha, namely Ratnavali, Nagananda and Priyardarsika also provide useful information
    • The Madhuben plate inscription and the Sonpat inscription are also helpful to know the chronology of Harsha. The Banskhera inscription contains the signature of Harsha.
    • founder of the family of Harsha was Pushyabhuti. Pushyabhutis were the feudatories of the Guptas.
    • They called themselves Vardhanas
    • first important king of Pushyabhuti dynasty was Prabhakaravardhana
    • capital was Thaneswar, north of Delhi. He assumed the title Maharajadhiraja and Paramabhattaraka.
    • Rajyavardhana came to the throne.
    • His sister, Rajyasri had married the Maukhari ruler called Grihavarman
    • Harsha drove out Sasanka from Kanauj. He made Kanauj his new capital.
    • Aihole inscription of Pulakesin II mentions the defeat of Harsha by Pulakesin, who after this achievement assumed the title Paramesvara. Hiuen Tsang’s accounts also confirm the victory of Pulakesin
  • Harsha and Buddhism

    • In his early life, Harsha was a devout Saiva but later he became an ardent Hinayana Buddhist. Hiuen Tsang converted him to Mahayana Buddhism.
    • Harsha prohibited the use of animal food in his kingdom and punished those who kill any living being.
    • He erected thousands of stupas and established travellers’ rests all over his kingdom.
    • erected monasteries at the sacred places of Buddhists
    • Once in five years he convened a gathering of representatives of all religions and honoured them with gifts and costly presents.
    • brought the Buddhist monks together frequently to discuss and examine the Buddhist doctrine
  • Kanauj Assembly

    • Harsha organized a religious assembly at Kanauj to honour the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang towards the close of his reign
    • invited representatives of all religious sects.
    • Hiuen Tsang explained the values of Mahayana doctrine and established its superiority over others.
    • However, violence broke out and there were acts of arson. There was also an attempt on the life of Harsha. Soon, it was brought under control and the guilty were punished. On the final day of the Assembly, Hiuen Tsang was honoured with costly presents.
  • Allahabad Conference

    • Hiuen Tsang mentions in his account about the conference held at Allahabad, known as Prayag.
    • It was the one among the conferences routinely convened by Harsha once in five yea
    • According to Hiuen Tsang, Harsha was so lavish that he emptied the treasury and even gave away the clothes and jewels he was wearing. His statement might be one of admiring exaggeration.
  • Harsha’s Administration

    • administra tion of Harsha was organized on the same lines as the Guptas did
    • Taxation was also light and forced labour was also rare. One sixth of the produce was collected as land tax.
    • Harsha’s army consisted of the traditional four divisions – foot, horse, chariot and elephant
    • The maintenance of public records was the salient feature of Harsha’s administration.
      • archive of Harsha period was known as nilopitu and it was under the control of special officers
      • Both good and bad events happened during his time had been recorded.
  • Society and Economy under Harsha

    • The fourfold division of the society – Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vysya and Sudra – was prevalent.
    • Brahmins were the privileged section of the society and they were given land grants by the kings. The Kshatriyas were the ruling class. The Vysyas were mainly traders. Hiuen Tsang mentions that the Sudras practiced agriculture. There existed many sub castes.
    • position of women was not satisfactory. The institution of Swyamvara (the choice of choosing her husband) had declined. Remarriage of widows was not permitted, particularly among the higher castes. The system of dowry had also become common. The practice of sati was also prevalent. Hiuen Tsang mentions three ways of disposal of the dead – cremation, water burial and exposure in the woods.
  • Cultural Progress

    • art and architecture of Harsha’s period are very few and mostly followed the Gupta style.
    • Hiuen Tsang describes the glory of the monastery with many storeys built by Harsha at Nalanda. He also speaks of a copper statue of Buddha with eight feet in height
    • brick temple of Lakshmana at Sirpur with its rich architecture is assigned to the period of Harsha
    • Besides Harshacharita, Banabhatta wrote Kadambari.
    • literary figures in Harsha’s court were Matanga Divakara and the famous Barthrihari, who was the poet, philosopher and grammarian.
    • Harsha himself authored three plays – Ratnavali, Priyadarsika and Nagananda.
    • Harsha patronised the Nalanda University by his liberal endowments. It attained international reputation as a centre of learning during his reign.
  • Nalanda University

    • Hinayana University of Valabhi and the Mahayana University of Nalanda
    • The term Nalanda means “giver of knowledge”. It was founded by Kumaragupta I during the Gupta period. It was patronised by his successors and later by Harsha
    • The professors of the University were called panditas.
    • renowned professors were Dingnaga, Dharmapala, Sthiramati and Silabadhra. Dharmapala was a native of Kanchipuram and he became the head of the Nalanda University. Nalanda University was a residential university and education was free including the boarding and lodging. It was maintained with the revenue derived from 100 to 200 villages e
    • Nalanda University was a residential university and education was free including the boarding and lodging.
    • was maintained with the revenue derived from 100 to 200 villages endowed by different rulers
    • Though it was a Mahayana University, different religious subjects like the Vedas, Hinayana doctrine, Sankhya and Yoga philosophies were also taught.
    • general subjects like logic, grammar, astronomy, medicine and art were in the syllabus.
    • Admission was made by means of an entrance examination. The entrance test was so difficult that not more than thirty percent of the candidates were successful.
    • Discipline was very strict. More than lectures, discussion played an important part and the medium of instruction was Sanskrit.
  • PALLAVAS

    • Pallavas established their kingdom in Tondaimandalam with its capital at Kanchipuram.
    • rule continued till Tondaimandalam was captured and annexed by the Imperial Cholas in the beginning of the tenth century A.D.
  • Origin of the Pallavas

    • equated with the Parthians, the foreigners who ruled western India.
    • Another view was that the Pallavas were a branch of the Brahmin royal dynasty of the Vakatakas of the Deccan.
    • third view relates the Pallavas with the descendents of the Chola prince and a Naga princess whose native was the island of Manipallavam.
    • view that the Pallavas were the natives of Tondaimandalam itself was widely accepted by scholars.
    • Tondaimandalam was conquered by the Satavahanas, the Pallavas became their feudatories. After the fall of the Satavahanas in the third century A.D., they became independent.
  • Mahendravarman I (600 – 630 A.D.)

    • long-drawn Pallava – Chalukya Conflict began during his period. Pulakesin II marched against the Pallavas and captured the northern part of their kingdom. Although a Pallava inscription refers to the victory of Mahendravarman I at Pullalur, he was not able to recover the lost territory.
    • Mahendravarman I was a follower of Jainism in the early part of his career. He was converted to Saivism by the influence of the Saiva saint, Thirunavukkarasar alias Appar. He built a Siva temple at Tiruvadi.
  • Narasimhavarman I assumed the title ‘Vatapikonda
    • notable achievement of Narasimhavarman I was his naval expedition to Sri Lanka
    • Narasimhavarman I was the founder of Mamallapuram and the monolithic rathas were erected during his reign.
  • Narasimhavarman II or Rajasimha (695 -722 A.D.)
    • Narasimhavarman II became the ruler of the Pallava kingdom. He was also known as Rajasimha.
      • Shore temple at Mamallapuram and the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram were built in this period.
      • e famous Sanskrit scholar Dandin is said to have adorned his court.
      • sent embassies to China and the maritime trade flourished during his reign. Rajasimha assumed titles like Sankarabhakta, Vadhyavidyadhara and Agamapriya
  • Administration of the Pallavas

    • Pallava state was divided into Kottams
    • Kottam was administered by officers appointed by the king
    • king was at the centre of administration in which he was assisted by able ministers.
    • maintained a well-trained army
    • provided land-grants to the temples known as Devadhana and
    • also to the Brahmans known as Brahmadeya.
    • was also the responsibility of the central government to provide irrigation facilities to the lands
    • irrigation tanks at Mahendravadi and Mamandoor were dug during the reign of Mahendravarman I.
    • Land tax was the primary source of the government revenue.
    • Brahmadeya and Devadhana lands were exempted from tax.
    • Pallava inscriptions throw much light on the village assemblies called sabhas and their committees. They maintained records of all village lands, looked after local affairs and managed temples
  • Society under the Pallavas

    • caste system became rigid.
    • Pallava period also witnessed the rise of Saivism and Vaishnavism and also the decline of Buddhism and Jainism.
    • Saiva Nayanmars and the Vaishnava Alwars contributed to the growth of Saivism and Vaishnavism.
    • This is known as the Bakthi Movement.
    • composed their hymns in the Tamil language
    • hymns revealed the importance of devotion or Bakthi.
    • The construction of temples by the Pallava kings paved the way for the spread of these two religions.
  • Education and Literature

    • great patrons of learning.
    • Ghatika at Kanchi was popular and it attracted students from all parts of India and abroad.
    • founder of the Kadamba dynasty, Mayurasarman studied Vedas at Kanchi. Dinganaga, a Buddhist writer came to study at Kanchi. Dharmapala, who later became the Head of the Nalanada University, belonged to Kanchi. Bharavi, the great Sanskrit scholar lived in the time of Simhavishnu. Dandin, another Sanskrit writer adorned the court of Narasimhavarman II. Mahendravaraman I composed the Sanskrit play Mattavilasa
  • Mattavilasaprahasanam

    • Devaram composed by Nayanmars and the Nalayradivyaprabandam composed by Alwars represent the religious literature of the Pallava period.
    • Perundevanar was patronized by Nandivarman II and he translated the Mahabharata as Bharathavenba in Tamil.
    • Nandikkalambagam was another important work but the name of the author of this work is not known. Music and dance also developed during this period.
  • Pallava Art and Architecture

    • was a great age of temple building
    • Pallavas introduced the art of excavating temples from the rock
    • the Dravidian style of temple architecture began with the Pallava rule.
    • a gradual evolution starting from the cave temples to monolithic rathas and culminated in structural temples
    • Mahendravarman I introduced rock-cut temples
    • This style of Pallava temples are seen at places like Mandagappattu, Mahendravadi, Mamandur, Dalavanur, Tiruchirappalli, Vallam, Siyamangalam and Tirukalukkunram.
    • The second stage of Pallava architecture is represented by the monolithic rathas and Mandapas found at Mamallapuram
    • five rathas, popularly called as the Panchapanadava rathas, signifies five different styles of temple architecture.
    • mandapas contain beautiful sculptures on its walls. The most popular of these mandapas are Mahishasuramardhini Mandapa, Tirumurthi Mandapam and Varaha Madapam.
    • mandapas contain beautiful sculptures on its walls. The most popular of these mandapas are Mahishasuramardhini Mandapa, Tirumurthi Mandapam and Varaha Madapam.
    • next stage, Rajasimha introduced the structural temples.
    • temples were built by using the soft sand rocks.
    • Kailasanatha temple at Kanchi and the Shore temple at Mamallapuram remain the finest examples of the early structural temples of the Pallavas.
    • The Kailasanatha temple at Kanchi is the greatest architectural master piece of the Pallava art.
    • last stage of the Pallava art is also represented by structural temples built by the later Pallavas.
    • Vaikundaperumal temple, Muktheeswara temple and Matagenswara temples at Kanchipuram belong to this stage of architecture
  • Sculpture
    • Open Art Gallery’ at Mamallapuram remains an important monument bearing the sculptural beauty of this period.
    • Descent of the Ganges or the Penance of Arjuna is called a fresco painting in stone.
  • Fine Arts
    • Mamandur inscription contains a note on the notation of vocal music.
    • Kudumianmalai inscription referred to musical notes and instruments.
    • Sittannavasal paintings belonged to this period. The commentary called Dakshinchitra was compiled during the reign of Mahendravarman I, who had the title Chittirakkarapuli.
  • CHALUKYAS AND RASHTRAKUTAS

  • Chalukyas (543 – 755 A.D.)

    • Western Chalukyas ruled over an extensive area in the Deccan for about two centuries after which the Rashtrakutas became powerful
    • family of Western Chalukyas had its offshoots like the Eastern Chalukyas of Vengi and the Chalukyas of Kalyani.
    • Pulakesin I was the founder of the Chalukya dynasty. He established a small kingdom with Vatapi or Badami as its capital.
  • Pulakesin II (608-642 A.D.)
    • Aihole inscription issued by him gives the details of his reign
    • Another notable achievement of Pulakesin II was the defeat of Harshavardhana on the banks of the river Narmada. He put a check to the ambition of Harsha to conquer the south
    • The most important event in the reign of Pulakesin II was the visit of Hiuen Tsang to his kingdom.
  • Administration and Social Life under the Chalukyas

    • Chalukya administration was highly centralized unlike that of the Pallavas and the Cholas.
    • Village autonomy was absent under the Chalukyas.
    • Chalukyas had a great maritime power.
    • Badami Chalukyas were Brahmanical Hindus but they gave respect to other religions.
    • Importance was given to Vedic rites and rituals. The founder of the dynasty Pulakesin I performed the asvamedha sacrifice.
    • number of temples in honour of Vishnu, Siva and other gods were also built during this period.
    • Jainism was steadily on the path of progress in this region
    • Ravikirti, the court poet of Pulakesin II who composed the Aihole inscription was a Jain.
  • Art and Architecture

    • developed the vesara style in the building of structural temples.
    • the vesara style reached its culmination only under the Rashtrakutas and the Hoysalas.
    • structural temples of the Chalukyas exist at Aihole, Badami and Pattadakal.
    • Cave temple architecture was also famous under the Chalukyas. Their cave temples are found in Ajanta, Ellora and Nasik
    • The best specimens of Chalukya paintings can be seen in the Badami cave temple and in the Ajanta caves.
    • Chalukya temples may be divided into two stages.
    • The first stage is represented by the temples at Aihole and Badami.
    • the seventy temples found at Aihole, four are important.
    • Ladh Khan temple is a low, flat-roofed structure consisting of a pillared hall
    • Durga temple resembles a Buddha Chaitya.
    • Huchimalligudi temple
    • The Jain temple at Meguti.
    • Among the temples at Badami, the Muktheeswara temple and the Melagutti Sivalaya are notable for their architectural beauty
      • The walls and pillared halls are adorned by beautiful images of gods and human beings. 
    • second stage is represented by the temples at Pattadakal.
      • There are ten temples here, four in the northern style and the remaining six in the Dravidian style.
      • Papanatha temple is the most notable in the northern style.
      • Sangamesvara temple and the Virupaksha temple are famous for their Dravidian style.
    • Virupaksha temple is built on the model of the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram.
  • Rashtrakutas (755 – 975 A.D.)

    • Rashtrakutas were of Kannada origin and Kannada language was their mother tongue.
    • Dantidurga was the founder of the Rashtrakuta dynasty
    • defeated the Gurjaras and captured Malwa from them. Then he annexed the Chalukya kingdom by defeating Kirtivarman II. Thus, the Rashtrakutas became a paramount power in the Deccan
  • Krishna I

    • built the magnificent rock-cut monolithic Kailasa temple at Ellora
    • Amoghavarsha I (815- 880 A.D.) ruled for a long period of 64 years
    • was a follower of Jainism.
    • Jinasena was his chief preceptor. He was also a patron of letters and he himself wrote the famous Kannada work, Kavirajamarga
    • also built the Rashtrakuta capital, the city of Malkhed or Manyakheda.
    • Krishneswara temple at Rameswaram
  • Administration

    • Rashtrakuta Empire was divided into several provinces called rashtras under the control of rashtrapatis.
    • further divided into vishayas or districts governed by vishayapatis
    • next subdivision was bhukti consisting of 50 to 70 villages under the control of bhogapatis.
    • officers were directly appointed by the central government. The village administration was carried on by the village headmen. However, the village assemblies played a significant role in the village administration.
  • Society and Economy

    • Hindu sects of Vaishnavism and Saivism flourished during the period of Rashtrakutas
    • Almost one third of the population of the Deccan were Jains
    • There were some prosperous Buddhist settlements at places like Kanheri, Sholapur and Dharwar.
    • harmony among various religions.
    • college at Salatogi, situated in modern Bijapur district. An inscription gives details of this educational centre. It was run by the income from the endowments made by the rich as well as by all the villagers on occasions of functions and festivals.
    • There was an active commerce between the Deccan and the Arabs.
  • Cultural Contributions

    • patronized the Sanskrit literature
    • There were many scholars in the Rashtrakuta court. Trivikrama wrote Nalachampu and the Kavirahasya was composed by Halayudha during the reign of Krishna III.
    • Jain literature flourished under the patronage of the Rashtrakutas
    • Amogavarsha I, who was a Jain patronized many Jain scholars
    • Sakatayana wrote the grammer work called Amogavritti.
    • His teacher Jinasena composed Parsvabhudaya, a biography of Parsva in verses. Another scholar Gunabhadra wrote the Adipurana, the life stories of various Jain saints.
    • Amogavarsha I, who was a Jain patronized many Jain scholars. His teacher Jinasena composed Parsvabhudaya, a biography of Parsva in verses. Another scholar Gunabhadra wrote the Adipurana, the life stories of various Jain saints.
    • great mathematician of this period, Viracharya was the author of Ganitasaram
    • Kannada literature saw its beginning during the period of the Rashtrakutas
    • Amogavarsha’s Kavirajamarga was the first poetic work in Kannada language.
    • Pampa was the greatest of the Kannada poets.
      • His famous work was Vikramasenavijaya
    • Ponna was another famous Kannada poet and he wrote Santipurana.
  • Art and Architecture

    • art and architecture of the Rashtrakutas were found at Ellora and Elephanta.
    • At Ellora, the most remarkable temple is the Kailasa temple
    • excavated during the reign of Krishna
    • temple consists of four parts – the main shrine, the entrance gateway, an intermediate shrine for Nandi and mandapa surrounding the courtyard.
    • central face of the plinth has imposing figures of elephants and lions giving the impression that the entire structure rests on their back
    • has a three-tiered sikhara or tower resembling the sikhara of the Mamallapuram rathas.
    • sculpture of the Goddess Durga is shown as slaying the Buffalo demon
    • Ravana was making attempts to lift Mount Kailasa, the abode of Siva. The scenes of Ramayana were also depicted on the walls. The general characteristics of the Kailasa temple are more Dravidian.
    • Ravana was making attempts to lift Mount Kailasa, the abode of Siva. The scenes of Ramayana were also depicted on the walls. The general characteristics of the Kailasa temple are more Dravidian.
    • There is a close similarity between the sculptures at Ellora and those in Elephanta.
    • At the entrance to the sanctum there are huge figures of dwara-palakas
    • In the walls of the prakara around the sanctum there are niches containing the images of Shiva in various forms – Nataraja, Gangadhara, Ardhanareesvara and Somaskanda.
    • most imposing figure of this temple is Trimurthi.
    • It is said to represent the three aspects of Shiva as Creator, Preserver and Destroyer.