HARSHA, or HARSHA VARDHANA (fl. A.D. 606-648), an Indian king who ruled northern India as paramount monarch for over forty years. The events of his reign are related by Hsu'an Tsang, the Chinese pilgrim, and by Bana, a Brahman author. He was the son of a raja of Thanesar, who gained prominence by successful wars against the Huns, and came to the throne in A.D. 606, though he was only crowned in 612. He devoted himself to a scheme of conquering the whole of India, and carried on wars for thirty years with success, until (A.D. 620) he came in contact with Pulakesin II., the greatest of the Chalukya dynasty, who made himself lord of the south, as Harsha was lord of the north. The Nerbudda river foimed the boundary between the two empires. In the latter years of his reign Harsha's sway over the whole basin of the Ganges from the Himalayas to the Nerbudda was undisputed. After thirty-seven years of war he set himself to emulate Asoka and became a patron of art and literature. He was the last native monarch who held paramount power in the north prior to the Mahommedan conquest; and was succeeded by an era of petty states.
See Bana, Sri-harsha-charita, trans. Cowell and Thomas (1897); Ettinghausen, Harsha Vardhana (Louvain, 1906).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)