Harshavardhana Administration

Harsha was the head of the all administrative, legislative, judicial and the first commander in the chief of the army. He earned the titles of Maharajadhiraja and Parambhattaraka. He was assisted by a council of ministers, and advised the king on internal and external administration. Avanti was the officer to look after war and peace. Singhanada was the commander in chief of army. Kuntala the head of the cavalry. Skanda Gupta head of war elephants. Samanta Maharaja the head of civil administration.

Division of Empire:

The empire was divided into the provinces then into districts (vishayas). The last unit was the village. The principle officer of the province was Uparika and district was Vishayapati and village was Gramika, other officials referred in Harshacharita are Bhogapati, Ayuktaka, Pratipalaka and Purushas. Harsha used his feudatories for administration called as Mahasamanta or Samantamaharaja. High officials are not paid in cash, but assigned as jagirs. Hence jagirdari system existed (feudalism).


  1. Harsha reduced administrative expenditure of the state.
  2. He reduced to burden of taxation on his subjects.
  3. Hence spend larger part of income of the state for public works.


Income of the state:

The primary income of the state was bhaga 1/6th of the product was paid in kind. Hirnya, Bali, Sales-Tax, toll tax, presents from feudatories were other income. The main expenditure was maintenance of king, household, palace, army salary of civil officers, charity and public welfare works. He organised religious assembly once in 5 years and left over in treasury was used to give charity. Even his personal belongings were given as charity.


He had a strong standing army at the centre. It had cavalry, infantry, chariots and war elephants. According to Hiuen Tsang and Harsha he had 60,000 war elephants 30,000 cavalry, 1,00,000 infantry. The commander was Baladhikrata, Maha-Baladhikrata for cavalry it was Vrahadasvatara, Maha-senapathi for armed forces, supreme commander was the king.


Administration of justice was severe during the period of Harsha. The usual punishments were imprisonment for life, loss of limbs, ordeals by fire and water also existed.

Administration and Matrimonial Alliances:

He made matrimonial alliances with rulers of neighbouring states to extend his power and influence. His daughter Dhruvasena-II was married to the ruler of Gujarat. He also had matrimonial alliances with Bhaskar Varman of Kamarupa.

Estimate of Administration:

Harsha provided fair and good administration to his subjects. But was considered inferior to the Guptas and Mauryas. He gave everything to charity, maintained peace and took many public welfare schemes. He was a kind generous and his subjects were happy and prosperous.

Harshavardhana –Culture and Civilisation

Social Condition:

The four-fold division existed in Hindu society, there were subdivision emerging. The position of women and protested by higher class. There was no purdah system, consumption of meat, onion was avoided.

Economic Condition:

It was an empire of prosperity, agriculture, industry and trade both in internal and external flourished. Cities like Peshwas, Taxila, Pataliputra and Mathura were destroyed by Hunas. But places of Bannaras, kannuj were prosperous. Kannuj was the capital city hence it was extreme prosperous and well protected. It had large building, beautiful gardens, and swimming pools. It was inhabited by rich cultured and highly learned people. People had interest in literary activities and fine arts.

Religious Conditions;

Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism were still popular religions in India. Hinduism had many temples of various god and goddesses. Vishnu and Shiva were the most popular gods of Hindus. Prayag and Banaras were main centres of Hinduism. The Mahayana Buddhism centres were Kashmir, Jallundar, Kanyakubja and Suretpur. Nalanda was the centre of Buddhism learning. Hence mutual toleration existed and Hinduism was the most prominent religion. He erected many Buddhist Stupas, and monasteries. Buddhist monks were invited annually to discuss their problems. He prohibited slaughter of animals like Asoka. Free distribution of food, medicine to the poor existed. He had tolerance to all religion. At prayag religious assembly was constituted once in every 5 year. He conducted six such assembly. There was an assembly at Kannuj to honour Chinese pilgrim Hiuan tsang and continued for 21 days.

Education and Literature:

Harsha himself was a scholar he wrote 3 plays, Nagananda, Ratnavali and Priyadarsika. As Sanskrit was the predominant religion he wrote in Sanskrit. He was a patron of learning and scholars. He spend 1/4th of his income for education and learning. He patronised Hiuan Tsang and Banabatta, the authors of Harshacharita and Kadambari. Scholars Mayura, Divakara, Jeyasena were in his court. Universities of Nalanda and Valabhai were the centres of learning. Huan Tsang described the students and teachers of the University lead a life of sanyasins, who were in search of truth. Nalanda was the most celebrated institution students from all part of the country gathered for education and learning. Nearly 5000 students received free education and nearly 1500 teachers in the university. It was not only the centre of Buddhist. Hindus text were also taught. Tsang received education for 5 years. Nearly 1000 lectures delivered every day in the university. Seminars were also conducted. Harsha helped in growth of learning and education. India was the most educated country at that time.

Indian Culture in Foreign Countries:

Indian culture spread to foreign countries during the period of Harsha. Hindu religion become popular in countries of South East Asia. Buddhist monks and scholars went as far as Tibet and China for propagation of Buddhism. The noted scholars went to China was Kumarajiva, Paramathra,Sndhakara and Dharamdeva. The prominent scholars went to Tibet were Padma Sambhaver,, Kamalashila, Sthirmati, Santha Raksita. The scholars translated Buddhist text into local languages of people. Hence Buddhism and Hinduism flourished to different part of the world.

An Estimate of Harsha:

Banabatta and Huan Tsang described Harsha as one of the greatest ruler of north India. He is said as the greatest empire –builder. He was a brave military Leader. A patron States-man Hence established a vast empire in North-India. Though he had strong Enemies through diplomatic alliances was able to strengthen his position. His entry into Deccan was checked by Pulikesin-II, the Chalukyas king of south. But still was powerful to have an extensive empire. He was capable commander of military and a great conqueror. He was capable, scholarly tolerant king. Harsha worked hard for the welfare of his subjects, donated free food and medicine to poor and destitute. He has carried out lot of welfare and administrative measures. He patronised education and learning. Nalanda during his time was a great centre of learning. Hence he is regarded as a capable rulers and held a responsible position in ancient India. The successor of Harsha were all short-lived.

Hiuen Tsang on India:

The Chinese traveller Hiuan Tsang visited India during the time of Harsha. He wrote ‘Si-Yu-Ki’ or Record of the western countries, it is known as the best source to know about the Socio- cultural condition of India at that time. His main aim was to study Buddhism and collect its religious texts. He stayed in India for 14 years. From Taxila, went to Kashmir, Matura, Kannuj, Sravarti, Ayadhya, Kapilavadu, Kusinagara and stayed at Nalanda for 5years. He left India in 644 A.D.

He wrote on the city life of India ,wrote about the type of trees and contributed with wood, brick and clay. He said Kannauj as a beautiful city.

Indians used cotton, silk, wool and wrote Indians were lovers of education literature and Fine arts. He praised about the administration of Harsha, he spend 3/4th of the Revenue for religious purpose. He said land Revenue formed 1/6th of the total Revenue. About army of Harsha, Religious of Harsha . Social life, economic and trade.

It Sing: He studied in Nalanda University and stayed in India between 673-688 came as pilgrimage, He wrote the book titled ‘A record of the Buddhist religion as practised in India and the Malay Archipelago.