An emperor as powerful as Pulakeshi II had to face numerous struggles during his last days. His brother “Kubja” [Short] Vishnuvardhana would repeatedly rise in rebellion, Pulakeshi would quell it and forgive him—this seemed to have become the norm. However, what we notice in each such instance is simply Pulakeshi’s weakness. The younger brother fully exploited his sibling’s sentimentality. Pulikeshi had four children. He justifiably displayed greater affection towards his third son, Vikramaditya.
The fact that Shiladitya Harshavardhana developed greater fondness towards Buddhism in his later years is evident from his own writings. Three Rupakas whose authorship can be attributed to Harshavardhana are extant. He has also written a few Stotras (loosely, “hymns”) and a collection of independent verses. His Rupakas, “Priyadarshika,” “Ratnavali,” and “Nagananda” continue to remain popular amid lay persons and scholars alike. “Priyadarshika” and “Ratnavali” belong to the “Natika” genre of “Drishyakavya” (dramatic poetry enacted on stage).
In the later part of the Gupta Era, we see the rise of Sthaneshwar, which is on the banks of the Ganga. It lies between Ambala and Delhi, near Kurukshetra. A great king who came from there was Harshavardhana. Like the Guptas, he too came from a family of vaiśyas. Harshavardhana’s father was Prabhakaravardhana and his brother was Rajyavardhana. Even when they were in quite a formidable position, their kingdom had threats; they faced pressure from various sides. One thing is true: every kingdom will have opposition from its own people.
In this discourse about the tradition of kṣātra in India, at every step, the storyline goes up and down, backwards and forward. It is my desire that all the important aspects must be covered in an informal yet succinct and rigorous manner. Consequently as we have observed so far, there have been several lineages of kings. Here I refer only to the great milestones of our history and tradition of kṣātra. So much more has to be said, going further back into the past and moving forward too.
We must observe the magnanimity of the Gupta period. This open-mindedness and magnanimity springs from Sanātana dharma and the people of that era had truly grasped the spirit of Sanātana dharma. There are many people who read the Vedas all their life but they fail to realize that there are parts of the Vedas that speak about the futility of the Vedas. They don’t realize that we have to apply that learning on a daily basis.
If some amount of inertia has crept into the framework of Sanatana Dharma in our age, the responsibility for reinvigorating it falls squarely on our shoulders. If we wish to reject something, we need to first think about providing a better alternative. If we wish to decry Valentine’s Day, we need to provide an alternative by reviving either the Madanotsava or the Vasantotsava [typically celebrated during the Holi festival] from the annals of our hoary, bounteous and beautiful tradition.