New Empires and Kingdoms (Class 6 History Chapter 10 Notes)

coin issued by samudragupta
Coin issued by Samudragupta
Prashasti
  1. Prashasti is a special type of inscription on which praises to the king are inscribed. Samudragupta's Prashasti is one such example. It was composed by his royal poet Harishena.
  2. Prashasti shed light on various aspect of the state such as state boundaries, important cities, relationship with other states, socio-economic and cultural makeup of the state and so on, beside its main subject, the king.

Genealogy
  1. Most prashasti also mention ancestor of the ruler and some are specially designed for describing them.
  2. In Samudragupta's prashasti, we learn that his mother Kumara Devi belonged to Lichchhavi Gana while his father Chandragupta, the founder of Gupta Dynasty, used the title Maharaja Adhiraja, which was adopted by himself also.
  3. Samudragupta is also found in the inscription of his son Chandragupta II's inscription.

Biography
  1. While we learnt about Gupta rulers through inscription, we learnt about some kings from their biographies. Harshavardhana is one such example.
  2. He ruled nearly 1400 years ago and his biography "Harshacharita" was written by Banabhatta. Details of his life is also given by Chinese Buddhist Traveller Xuan Zang.
  3. Harsha was not eldest son of his father. He became king of Thanesar after both his father and brother died. He took over the Kannauj after his brother-in-law died in the battle against ruler of Bengal. He conquered both Magadha and Bengal.
  4. However, he was not successful elsewhere and stopped by Chalukya King Pulkeshin II before entering South India.

The Pallavas, Chalukyas and Pulakeshin’s prashasti
  1. Pallava and Chalukya were the most important dynasties of this time.
  2. The Kingdom of Pallava was spread from Kanchipuram to Kaveri delta.
  3. The power of Chalukyas was centered around Raichur Doab, between Krishna and Tungbhadra river.
  4. Kanchipuram was the capital of Pallavas and Aihole was the capital of Chalukyas.
  5. Pulkeshin II was the most famous Chalukya King and one learn about him from the prashasti composed by his royal poet Ravikirti. He stopped Harshavardhana from entering the South.

How were these kingdoms administered?
  1. The land revenue remained the important part of the income and village still served as the functional unit of the kingdoms.
  2. On administrative level, some posts were made hereditary. A person can hold multiple posts. And they have a say in local administration.

A new kind of army
  1. Beside maintaining regular armies, there were independent armies led by military leaders, who were not regularly paid but given grants in form villages and lands. They collected revenue from these places and run their affairs. These men became to be known as Samantas.
  2. When a king becomes weak, they tried to break free from the rule.

Assemblies in the southern kingdoms
  1. The inscriptions of Pallavas mention different kinds of assemblies. These are sabhas of Brahmin, ur by non-brahmin landowners and nagaram by merchants. These assemblies continued to function for a number of centuries.

Ordinary people in the Kingdoms
  1. One can learn about ordinary people from plays and other writings.
  2. Kalidas has depicted in his plays that men of higher society always tried to speak in Sanskrit and ordinary people used to speak in Prakrit.
  3. Fa Xian has shown plight and condition of the untouchables. They used to live on the outskirts of city.
  4. Banbhatta has shed light on the lives of army personnels.