Inscriptions of Harishena

Written by Alok Mohan on October 2, 2022. Posted in Uncategorized

Harishena is being considered the most powerful among Vakataka rulers as his influence extended over many countries including Kuntala, Avanti (the region of western Malwa), Kalinga, Koshala, Lata, Andhra, and Trikuta. In the west, the Traikutaka dynasty came to an end around 495 CE. following the death of Vyaghrasena, who didn’t have successors, and possibly due to conquest by Harishena.
 In the north, Anupa region also got merged into Harishena’s kingdom. He is also credited with many other conquests.
Harishena’s contemporary in the Nandivardhana-Pravarapura branch of the Vakataka dynasty was Prithivishena 2, the last king of that branch.
Nothing definite is known about the relations between the Vakatakas of Vatsagulma and the Vakatakas of Nandivardhana-Pravarapura during this time. However, it seems that Harishena assumed leadership over both branches of the Vakataka dynasty following the death of Prithivishena 2.
The Vakataka rulers encouraged art and architecture. The monumental rock-cut caves at Ajanta is one of the finest example of art culture especially the wall paintings, which are among the most magnificent that survive from ancient India.
 Three of the Buddhist caves at Ajanta, including two viharas (Caves 16 and 17) and a chaitya (Cave 19) were excavated and decorated with paintings and sculptures during the reign of Harishena.
Harishena is the last known ruler of the Vatsagulma branch of the Vakataka dynasty. He was a great patron of Buddhist architecture, art and culture, with the World Heritage monument of Ajanta is his greatest legacy.
Disintegration and collapse of the Vakataka kingdom seems to have occurred very rapidly after Harishena’s death in about 510. The circumstances surrounding the fall of the Vakataka kingdom remain unclear. By about 550, the Chalukyas of Badami occupied the greater portion of the erstwhile Vakataka territories. However, as the Chalukya records do not make any reference to a conflict with the Vakatakas, it seems that the Vakatakas had already lost power prior to the Chalukya expansion.
The early Chalukya kings waged war against the Nalas in Vidarbha and the southern parts of Madhya Pradesh, and thus the Nalas may have extended their sway over former Vakataka territories in the east. The Kalachuris in the north and the Kadambas in the south also seem to have expanded their control over lands formerly under Vakataka sovereignty during the weak rule of Harishena’s successors.
Inscription number 14.
Thalner Plates of Harishena- (Regnal) year 3.
Provenance: Village Thalner on the bank of Tapi river about 25 Km northwest of sirpur in the Dhule district
of Maharashtra.
Script: Nail-headed variety of Brahmi.
Language: Sanskrit
References: D.R. Bhat, samsodhaka, XLVII, (47th), Nos.1-2
(1980) of the Rajavade samsodhana Mandala of Dhule. V.V. Mirashi, Recent studies in Sanskrit and Indology, Delhi, 1982, pp. 239-48.
First plate
1. Unlike most other Vakataka records which are incised in box headed characters, the characters in
the present record have round knobs scooped out over them.
2. From the facsimile in the Samsodhaka, XLVII, (1980), Nos. 1-2.
Second plate first side
1. Restored from the genealogical sections of other Vakataka records.
2. Repetition of Dharma-Maharaja is redundant.
3. Mirashi opines that the present grant was made by Harishena after a memorable victory over Gomika,
the ruler of Rishika country (modern Khandesh).
Since Gomika was allowed to rule as a feudatory over his kingdom, his approval for land grant in his
territory was recorded as a formality.
Second plate second side
1. Bhattikapadra may be the modern Bhatane in Shahada taluka. Vatalika is perhaps Vadali in the same taluka. Chhabbilanaka is chabda in the Sakri
taluka. Kamsakaraka may be Kasare village either in the shahada or the Sakri taluka. It appears, Uchha was better known as Suvarnakaragrama, which latter name seems to have survived in the name of the present day village called Sonare.
2. Manu is a mistake for Vyasa.
English Translation of the inscription.
Success ! Peace ! At the command of the Maharaja Sri Harishena of the Vakataka (family): who is
the son of Maharaja Sri Devasena, (and) the grandson of the
Maharaja Sri Savasena, (and) the great-grandson of the
grand son of the son of him, (namely) the emperor, the illustrious Maharaja Haritiputra Dharma-Maharaja Sri
Pravarasena of the Vishnuvriddha (gotra), who was the performer of Agnishtoma, aptoryama, Vajapeya, jyotishtoma, barhaspatya, sadyaskra, and four asvamedha sacrifices, and
who was (a descendant) of Sri vindhyasakti the first Dharma
Maharaja among the Vakatakas, and with the approval of king
Gomika, this (gift) has been given, namely, (the village of) (1) Bhattikapadra, (located) to the east of Jatikhetaka (and)
to the west of Vatalika, and on the southern bank of Mayasini
river, (2) Kumaradasavataka in Vamsichahali (village)
to the east of chhabbilanaka and to the vest of Bodrakanaka and
in Anartapur Bhukti (3) thirty (lit. twenty and half of twenty)
(nivarttanas of land) in the village of Kamsakaraka, (4) twenty
(nivarttanas) in the village of goldsmiths, named ucchacha and
ten (nivarttanas) in Govachhetati village, to the Brahmanas of
Padanchala gotra and students of the samaveda, whose names are
Devasvamin, Gangasvamin, Varahasvamin, Bhattarasvamin,
Khudasvamin, Dharasvamin and the like. And Manu has also
(Here follow two of the customary verses).
(This) has been composed on the twelfth day of the fourth fortnight of the rainy season in the third (regnal)
year. The Dutaka was Svamiladeva. Written by Boppadeva.


In his Vikramankadeva-charita I.58, Bilhana takes Haritiputra in the sense of a descendant of Harita, a distinguished ancestor. This meaning
suits the present context also. Otherwise, the title Dharma Maharaja will be an unnecessary repetition for Pravarasena.But Mirashi considers
it a Buddhist biruda, which was blindly adopted by hindu kings, like the chalukyas. Hariti was a
Yakshini, who in her previous birth had vowed to devour the children of Rajagriha. Moved by peoples appeals, the Buddha concealed in his bowl
the youngest of her 500 children. Upset by her failure to find it even after a week’s search, she
beseached the Buddha’s help. The Buddha asked her to
realise the plight of common men with one or two children, when one of these was devoured by her.
She then renounced cannibalism and became an upasika, and a fond mother of children. Since then Haritiputra became a biruda. According to
Itsing. images of Hariti are found either in a Porch or in a corner of the dining hall of Indian monasteries holding a baby in her arms and three
or four children round her knees (see Grundwedel Buddhist Art in India, English translation, 1901, pp.103 ff.)

Inscription number 15.
Ajanta Cave Inscription of the time of Harishena.
Provenance: Ajanta (Locally pronounced Ajintha and written
Ajantha) Aurangabad District, Maharashtra.
Script: Box-headed variety of the Southern class. Brahmi of the 6th century A.D
Language: Sanskrit.
उपजाति (इन्द्रवज्रा + उपेन्द्रवज्रा) vv1-2,4,11,13,16,22,25 उपजाति or उपेन्द्रवज्रा vv5,10 उपेन्द्रवज्रा; vv3,14-15,30
इन्द्रवज्रा ; vv1-2,20, vv6-9 मिश्र गण गितिका ;
According to Venkatasubbia.
An unknown species of मात्रा समक according to Kielhorn.

The metre has 15 matras in each quatrain ( पाद ) and is not treated in most of the works on Sanskrit prosody. See Venkatasubbia Ind culture V. pp.115,
The metre is also employed in the Talgunda Inscription
of Santivarman kadamba. v.1-24 (see infra, IV, 58)
According to Pingala (4,28) Giti is
a seven-gana metre) having four quartrains each identical with the first quartrain of Arya. But
Monier-williams (Sanskrit English Dictionary) defines
Giti as a metre of four quartains with 12 and 18 matras alternately.
Matrasamaka according to Pingala
(4,4) has sixteen matras in each quartain. Thus the
metre in these verses is near Monier-Williams definition of Giti, and not Matrasamaka
References: Bhagawan lal Indraji, Inscriptions from the
temples of India, pp.69, Burgess and Buhler Archeological Survey. of West India, IV, pp-124ff, V.V. Mirashi, Nagpur University Journal, Dec. 1940,
No.6, pp.41 ff. (cf. Ep.Ind., XXVI, pp. 142 ff.)
Hyd. Arch, Ser., No. XIV A.C. Biswas, Ind. Culture VII, pp.372 ff. D.C. Sircar Sel.Inss. I, pp-449-55.

Balaghat Plates of Prithvishena 2 (of the main Nandivardhana branch of the Vakataka family supplies their complete geneaology starting from Pravarasena 1. As regards the Vatsagulma branch, the Thalner Plates (Supra III, 14) gives us the names of the first two rulers as Vindhyasakti and Pravarasena, and those of the last
three as Sarvasena, Devasena and Harishena. Further, Harishena claims to be the great-grandson of
grandson of the son of Pravarasena, that means his sixth descendant. The missing names of Pravarasena’s three
immediate successors are supplied by the present ajanta Cave Inscription
as Sarvasena (1) Prithivishena and Pravarasena.
The Basim Plate/gives the
name of another son of
Sarvasena 1, as Vindhyasakti, who may have died issueless,
enabling his younger brother Prithivishena to ascend the throne.
Thus we can complete the family tree of both the branches of the Vakataka dynasty as under:-
1. Nandhi Vardhana branch: –
Vindhyasakti 1, Pravarasena 1 Haritiputra, Gautamiputra, Rudrasena 1, Prithivishena 1, Rudrasena 2, Divakarasena, Pravarasena 2, Narendrasena and Prithvishena 2.
2. Vatsgulma branch.
Vindhyasakti 1, Pravarasena 1 Haritiputra, Sarva-sena 1, Vindhyasakti 2, Prithvishena, Parvarsena 2 Vatsa, Sarva-sena 2, Devasena, Harishena.

1. It appears Gautamiputra of
the main branch never ascended the throne. See also Buhler Archeological Survey West India, IV, pp-124 ff and
D.C. Sircar Sel.Inss. I, pp-449-55, notes
2. May be restored स्थगित प्रकाशे
3. Buhler and some other scholars. रुद्रसेन.
1 Kuntala Kingdom was located in the centre of the Kannada country, almost conciding with the present
Banavasi District.
Possibly a descendant of
Mayurasarman Kadamba was ruling here.
2. Buhler and some others:
whom he identifies with Vindhyasakti 2, of Basim grant.
(see supra III , 13) A.C. Biswas:
If Buhler is correct Vindhyasakti seems to have had a brother named Prithivishena.
3. See his copper-plate grant issued from Vtsagulma (modern Basim in Acola, District) New.Ind.ant. 1937.
His minister was Hastibhoja. Devasena’s father, whose
name is lost, became king at the age of eight.

Avanti district round Ujayini. Kalinga (in the narrow Sense) Purg-Ganjajam region of Orissa. Kosala
(here south Kosal is meant) = Raipur-sambhal Bilaspur region. Lata Navsari-Bharoch region.
Andhra = districts near the mouths of the Krishna and the Godavari. Conquest of these states by Harishena is
doubtful though he may have worsted them in battles.
Harishena is possibly mentioned in another Ajanta Inscription. (Bhandarkar’s list, No. 1713)
2. Note that loss of vsarga in this case is in accordance with the Varttika, खर्परे शरि वा विसर्गलोपो वक्तव्य on Panini, 8.3 36
3. लोकगुरु = the Buddha. कार = पूज़ा =worshipp.
1. May be restored: त्य कत्वा गृहं च वस्त्राणि च कोमलानि
2. निर्यूह = turret, pinnacle.
3. Sircar suggest restoration -शेखर – चैत्य
Some others suggest उद्दुर – चैत्य
I would restore the entire quatrain as
विमानवत्सुन्दर चैत्यमन्दिरम्

1. Varahadeva is probably the person referred to as the son of Hastibhoja and minister of Harishena in
verse No. 19 above.
2. May be amended to शरण्यंयात: सुगतं र्पशस्तम्
3. रत्न – त्रय = Budha, dharma and samgha,
the three things considered excellent by the Buddhists.
English Translation of the inscription.

L1.1 (V. 1) Ater paying obeisance to the Buddha, who ls the extinguisher of the violent conflagration of sinfulness, in the three worlds, I narrate the order
of succession of the past kings.
L1.2-5 (vv.2-5) There was a Brahmana Vindhyasakti, a light on the earth, whose strength grew in great conflicts
whose prowess, when angry, was irresistible even by the gods, whose capacity for making charitable
gifts was uncommon; whose might was equal to that of Indra and Vishnu, who had attained the (sovereignty of
the) entire world with the power of his own arm.
who was —- of white rays of his fame.
He was the banner (ie. the prominent progenitor) of

the Vakataka dynasty. Having destroyed the power of all (his) enemies in the battle, where the
light was obstructed, by the screen of dust raised by his own horses, completely covering the sun, he made
them adept at saluting (him). Having conquered his enemies, with actions like those of the king of gods,
he made supreme effort to earn religious merit.
L1.5-6 (vv.6-7): His son was Pravarasena, whose lotus-like
feet (lit. steps) were licked by the rays of the jewels worn by enemy kings on their erests, and whose
eyes were like fully blown blue lotuses. The son of Pravarasena was Sarvasena, who had conquered all
the armies (and) the rays of the sun.

L.7. (v.8) Sri Prithivishena, the righteous son of that king of monarchs, ruled over the earth justly after conquering
the king of Kuntala.

L.7(v.9): His son was Pravarasena, whose rule was excellent
and strong and generous, (0f) Pravara (sena)

L.8 (v.10):His son, who, having attained
the kingdom at the age of eight ruled well.

L.9 (v.11): His son was Devasena, who was like a god among men and was unmatched on the earth, in good qualities; the charming and wonderful amusement of which god like last king.

L1.9-13 (vv.12-15) By the pious authority of that king (ruled) over the earth, Hastibhoja, was the abode of Justice and good qualities, whose treasury had grown, whose chest
was wide and stout, whose eyes were like a lotus, who had annihilated the faction of his enemies.

With stout arms, he was like the rutted elephant of the quarters.
He was benevolent, courteous, saturated with love, friendly. and acted within the law, was free from evil —-.
similarly, Because of his benevolent disposition of mind, ( and) because nursing them well and with
happiness, he, the saviour, became dear and approachable among the people, like a father, a mother and a
L.13 (v.16) : Having appointed him there, the king felt perfectly
at ease (and) plunged into amusements and acted according to his desires.

L1. 13-14 (v.17-18): And his son was the king – Harishena, who possessed the splendour of vishnu, Rama, ocupid and Indra, (and) valour and prowess of Vishnu. He having subdued the kings of Kuntala, Avanti, Kalinga, Kosala, Trikuta, lata, Andhra ——
L15 (v. 19) The minister of that king was the son, renowned in the world of Hastibhoja. All the kings ——
L1.16-17 (v.20)s—the eldest, who had a steady and patient mind, who was eguipped with the qualities of
self-abnegation, or forgiveness and generosity and devoted to piousness, ruled justly over the country.
illluminated with the rays of his fame, religious merit and good qualities.
L.17 (v.22):.
he raised a high pile of religious merit. Where fore, in high rapture, believing
in the religion of helpfulness, performed worship around (the Buddha) the precepter of the world.
L1.17-18 (v.22): Having given up the pleasures befitting his age, youthfulness and wealth, and also his
home and soft clothing of all types in deference to his parents, he entered the monastery (lit. home)
Frequented by asceties.

L1.18-23 (vv. 23-29): On the high mountain, whose peaks are
covered with hosts of rain-clouds, (and) which is the abode of serpents, —–
arrows in the bower by the Lord of
Lakshmi ; (he constructed) a palatial and beautiful Budhist temple, adorned with ventilators, turret, beautiful picture galleries, platforms and statues of
divine maidens full of and divided by attractive pillars with canopies set up at the base – delight to the mind –
and a great reservoir of water- – with
houses for large elephants.- —
and heated by the fire of the rays of the summer sun and well-known for possessing conditions for enjoyment in
comfort in all weathers, —- of the palaces of the king of gods, having the lustre of the caves (?) of Mandara (mountain) (and) (face) according to wishes. ——
whom people, out of affection, happiness and great Love gave the name

L1.23-25 (29-30) And abandoning this
house, ——
fit for the splendour of the forehead of the king of gods having presented this
comfortable and enjoyable house to the congIegation (of monks) that Varahadeva, along with the
group of his relatives, having enjoyed the pleasures of gods among men —-
excellent the Buddha, the
teacher of those who seek his shelter.
L1.25-26 (v.31) S0 long as (dark) like dense clouds and the hood of serpent —- and the sun with its rays bright like red arsenic (manahsila) (last), long may
may be resorted to this a flawless jewel. that is the inner temple,
manifest with the three jewels (namely, the Buddha, dharma and the samgha).

L1.26-27 (v.32): The mountain peak with various types of dwellings, being resorted to by great men and may the world,as a result of the destruction
of all the manifold sins, enter a state, which is free from sorrow, free from illness and is tranquil and noble.

Alok Mohan

The admin, Alok Mohan, is a graduate mechanical engineer & possess following post graduate specializations:- M Tech Mechanical Engineering Production Engineering Marine engineering Aeronautical Engineering Computer Sciences Software Engineering Specialization He has authored several articles/papers, which are published in various websites & books. Studium Press India Ltd has published one of his latest contributions “Standardization of Education” as a senior author in a book along with many other famous writers of international repute. Alok Mohan has held important positions in both Govt & Private organisations as a Senior professional & as an Engineer & possess close to four decades accomplished experience. As an aeronautical engineer, he ensured accident incident free flying. As leader of indian team during early 1990s, he had successfully ensured smooth induction of Chukar III PTA with Indian navy as well as conduct of operational training. As an aeronautical engineer, he was instrumental in establishing major aircraft maintenance & repair facilities. He is a QMS, EMS & HSE consultant. He provides consultancy to business organisations for implimentation of the requirements of ISO 45001 OH & S, ISO 14001 EMS & ISO 9001 QMS, AS 9100, AS9120 Aero Space Standards. He is a qualified ISO 9001 QMS, ISO 14001 EMS, ISO 45001 OH & S Lead Auditor (CQI/IRCA recognised certification courses) & HSE Consultant. He is a qualified Zed Master Trainer & Zed Assessor. He has thorough knowledge of six sigma quality concepts & has also been awarded industry 4, certificate from the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation Knowledge Hub Training Platform  He is a Trainer, a Counselor, an Advisor and a Competent professional of cross functional exposures. He has successfully implimented requirements of various international management system standards in several organizations. He is a dedicated technocrat with expertise in Quality Assurance & Quality Control, Facility Management, General Administration, Marketing, Security, Training, Administration etc. He is a graduate mechanical engineer with specialization in aeronautical engineering. He is always eager to be involved in imparting training, implementing new ideas and improving existing processes by utilizing his vast experience.