New Empires and Kingdoms
Mamallapuram: Mamallapuram is known for its monolithic temples of the Pallavas.
The Harshacharita: In the early seventh century, Harshavardhan became the ruler of Thanesar. Information about Harsha’s reign is also available in Harsha’s biography Harshacharita, written by Banabhatta. The Chinese pilgrim Xuan Zang spent a lot of time in the court of Harsha. Harshavardhana ruled Thanesar about 1400 years ago. He also began to rule over Kanauj after this brother-in-law was killed.
- At the beginning of his rule, he remained successful but finally, his success did not last long. The’Pallavas and Chalukyas were important ruling dynasties in South India.
- Pulakeshin II was the famous Chalukya ruler. His court poet Ravikirti composed poems in his praise. It was Pulakeshin II who checked the advance of Harsha.
Rulers in South India: After the decline of the Satavahanas, there arose smaller kingdoms in the South. Of these, the Chalukyas and the Pallavas were the important ones.
Prashasti of Samudragupta: Samudragupta was a famous ruler of the Gupta dynasty. Allahabad pillar inscription is a Prashasti on Samudragupta’s military achievements. The poem was composed in Sanskrit by the Court Poet, Harishena. The poet praised the King as a warrior and equal to God.
- Chandragupta, Samudragupta’s father, was the first ruler of the Gupta dynasty who adopted the grand title of maharaj-adhiraj. This title was also used by Samudragupta.
Prashastis and Different Rulers: The Prashasti described four different kinds of rulers and Samudragupta’s policies towards them. These are :
- The rulers of Aryavarta
- The rulers of Dakshinapatha
- Neighbouring states like Assam, Coastal Bengal and
- States ruled by the descendants of the Kushanas
Prashastis: Prashasti is a Sanskrit word, meaning ‘in praise of’. Prashastis are long inscriptions, written in praise of the kings. From the time of the Guptas, Prashastis became very important.
- Most prashastis also mention the ancestors of the ruler. For example, there is one prashasti that mentions Samudragupta’s great grandfather, grandfather, father and mother.
The Chalukyas: The Chalukya kingdom was centred at the Raichur Doab. The Raichur Doab is located between the rivers Krishna and Tungabhadra. Their capital was at Vatapi. Pulakeshin II was a famous king of this dynasty. We know about him from a poem composed by his court poet Ravikirti.
The Pallavas: The kingdom of the Pallavas was in the far South. They ruled between the mid 6th to the 8th century. The capital of the Pallavas was Kanchipuram, around the Kaveri delta in present Tamil Nadu.
Fa Xian: Fa Xian was a Chinese pilgrim. He visited India and Sri Lanka. He is most known for his pilgrimage to Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha.
- A new kind of army developed. Kings maintained a well-organised army with elephants, chariots, cavalry and foot-soldiers along with military leaders.
- Local assemblies which included the Sabha (an assembly of brahmin landowners) were there. Ur was a village assembly that existed in areas where the landowners were not brahmins. Nagaram was an organisation of merchants.
- The condition of ordinary people was not good. Untouchables were not treated well.
Dakshinapatha: It literary means the route leading to the south. The term also referred to the entire southern region.
Genealogy: It means a list of ancestors.
Kumar-amatya: It referred to an important minister.
Maha-danda-nayaka: It referred to the chief judicial officer.
Nagara-shreshthi: It was the term used for the chief banker or merchant of the city.
Prathama-kulika: It was referred to the chief craftsman.
Sandhi-Vigrahika: It meant a minister of war and peace.
Sarbhavaha: The term used for the leader of the merchant caravans.
Ur: It was a village assembly.
About 1700 years ago – beginning of the Gupta dynasty.
About 1400 years ago – the rule of Harshavardhana.