waged by his father and brother against the Huns on the north-western frontier. After the treacherous murder of his brother by Sasanka, king of Central Bengal, he was confirmed as raja, though still very young, by the nobles of Thanesar in 606, though it would appear that his effective rule did not begin till six years later. His first care was to revenge his brother’s death, and though it seems that Sasanka escaped destruction for a while (he was still ruling in 619), Harsha’s experience of warfare encouraged him to make preparations for bringing all India under his sway. By the end of five and a half years he had actually conquered the north-western regions and also, probably, part of Bengal. After this he reigned for 34½ years, devoting most of his energy to perfecting the administration of his vast dominions, which he did with such wisdom and liberality as to earn the commendation of Hsüan Tsang. In his campaigns he was almost uniformly successful; but in his attempt to conquer the Deccan he was repulsed (620) by the Chalukya king, Pulikesin II., who successfully prevented him from forcing the passes of the Nerbudda. Towards the end of his reign Harsha’s empire embraced the whole basin of the Ganges from the Himalayas to the Nerbudda, including Nepal, besides Malwa, Gujarat and Surashtra (Kathiawar); while even Assam (Kamarupa) was tributary to him. The empire, however, died with its founder. His benevolent despotism had healed the wounds inflicted by the barbarian invaders, and given to his subjects a false feeling of security. For he left no heir to carry on his work; his death “loosened the bonds which restrained the disruptive forces always ready to operate in India, and allowed them to produce their normal result, a medley of petty states, with ever-varying boundaries, and engaged in unceasing internecine war.”
In the Deccan the middle of the 6th century saw the rise of the Chalukya dynasty, founded by Pulikesin I. about A.D. 550. The most famous monarch of this line was Pulikesin II., who repelled the inroads of Harsha (A.D. 620), The Deccan. and whose court was visited by Hsüan Tsang (A.D. 640); but in A.D. 642 he was defeated by the Pallavas of Conjeeveram, and though his son Vikramaditya I. restored the fallen fortunes of his family, the Chalukyas were finally superseded by the Rashtrakutas about A.D. 750. The Kailas temple at Ellora was built in the reign of Krishna I. (c. A.D. 760). The last of the Rashtrakutas was overthrown in A.D. 973 by Taila II., a scion of the old Chalukya stock, who founded a second dynasty known as the Chalukyas of Kalyani, which lasted like its predecessor for about two centuries and a quarter. About A.D. 1000 the Chalukya kingdom suffered severely from the invasion of the Chola king, Rajaraja the Great. Vikramanka, the hero of Bilhana’s historical poem, came to the throne in A.D. 1076 and reigned for fifty years. After his death the Chalukya power declined. During the 12th and 13th centuries a family called Hoysala attained considerable prominence in the Mysore country, but they were overthrown by Malik Kafur in A.D. 1310. The Yadava kings of Deogiri were descendants of feudatory nobles of the Chalukya kingdom, but they, like the Hoysalas, were overthrown by Malik Kafur, and Ramachandra, the last of the line, was the last independent Hindu sovereign of the Deccan.
According to ancient tradition the kingdoms of the south were three—Pandya, Chola and Chera. Pandya occupied the The Kingdoms of the South. extremity of the peninsula, south of Pudukottai, Chola extended northwards to Nellore, and Chera lay to the west, including Malabar, and is identified with the Kerala of Asoka. All three kingdoms were occupied by races speaking Dravidian languages. The authentic history of the south does not begin until the 9th and 10th centuries A.D., though the kingdoms are known to have existed in Asoka’s time.
The most ancient mention of the name Pandya occurs in the 4th century B.C., and in Asoka’s time the kingdom was independent, but no early records survive, the Inscriptions of the dynasty being of late date, while the long lists of kings in The Pandya Kingdom. Tamil literature are untrustworthy. During the early centuries of the Christian era the Pandya and Chera kingdoms traded with Rome. The most ancient Pandya king to whom a definite date can be ascribed is Rajasimha (c. A.D. 920). Records begin towards the end of the 12th century, and the dynasty can be traced from then till the middle of the 16th century. The most conspicuous event in its history was the invasion by the Sinhalese armies of Parakramabahu, king of Ceylon (c. A.D. 1175). The early records of the Chera kingdom are still more meagre; and the authentic list of the rajas of Travancore does not begin till A.D. 1335, and the rajas of Cochin two centuries later.
The Chola kingdom, like the Pandya, is mentioned by the Sanskrit grammarian Katyayana in the 4th century B.C., and was recognized by Asoka as independent. The dynastic history of the Cholas begins about A.D. 860, The Chola Kingdom. and is known from then until its decline in the middle of the 13th century. During those four centuries their history is intertwined with that of the Pallavas, Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas and other minor dynasties. In A.D. 640 the Chola country was visited by Hsüan Tsang, but the country at that time was desolate, and the dynasty of small importance. In A.D. 985 Rajaraja the Great came to the throne, and after a reign of twenty-seven years died the paramount ruler of southern India. He conquered and annexed the island of Ceylon, and was succeeded by four equally vigorous members of the dynasty; but after the time of Vikrama (A.D. 1120) the Chola power gradually declined, and was practically extinguished by Malik Kafur.
The name of the Pallavas appears to be identical with that of the Pahlavas, a foreign tribe, frequently mentioned in inscriptions and Sanskrit literature. It is supposed, therefore, that the Pallavas came from the north, The Pallava Confederacy. and gradually worked their way down to Malabar and the Coromandel coast. When first heard of in the 2nd century A.D. they are a ruling race. The Pallavas appear, like the Mahrattas in later times, to have imposed tribute on the territorial governments of the country. The first Pallava king about whom anything substantial is known was Siva-skanda-varman (c. A.D. 150), whose capital was Kanchi (Conjeeveram), his power extending into the Telugu country as far as the Kistna river. Two centuries later Samudragupta conquered eleven kings of the south, of whom three were Pallavas. It appears that in the 4th century three Pallava chiefs were established at Kanchi, Vengi and Palakkada, the latter two being subordinate to the first, and that Pallava rule extended from the Godavari on the north to the Southern Vellaru river on the south, and stretched across Mysore from sea to sea. About A.D. 609 Pulikesin II., the Chalukya king, defeated Mahendra-Varman, a Pallava chief, and drove him to take refuge behind the walls of Kanchi. About A.D. 620 a prince named Vishnuvardhana founded the Eastern Chalukya line in the province of Vengi, which was taken from the Pallavas. Hsüan Tsang visited Kanchi, the Pallava capital, in the year A.D. 640; the country was, according to his account, 1000 m. in circumference, and the capital was a large city 5 or 6 m. in circumference. In A.D. 642 the Pallavas defeated in turn Pulikesin II. The conflict became perennial, and when the Rashtrakutas supplanted the Chalukyas in the middle of the 8th century, they took up the old quarrel with the Pallavas. Towards the end of the 10th century the Pallava power, which had lasted for ten centuries, was destroyed by the Chola monarch, Rajaraja the Great. Pallava nobles existed to the end of the 17th century, and the raja of Pudukottai claims descent from the ancient royal family.
At the time that Buddhism was being crushed out of India by the Brahmanic reaction, a new faith was being born in Arabia, destined to supply a youthful fanaticism which should
- His era, however, is dated from 606.
- So V. A. Smith, op. cit. p. 314, who on this point differs from Sylvain Levi and Ettinghausen.
- For Harsha’s reign see Smith, op. cit. xiii. 311-331.