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Varman dynasty

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The Varman dynasty (350-650) was the first historical dynasty of the Kamarupa kingdom. It was established by Pushyavarman, a contemporary of Samudragupta."Three thousand years after these mythical ancestors (Naraka, Bhagadatta and Vajradatta) there occurred Pushyavarman as the first historical king, after whom we have an uninterrupted line of rulers up to Bhaskarvarman." The earlier Varmans were subordinates of the Gupta Empire, but as the power of the Guptas waned, Mahendravarman (470-494) performed two horse sacrifices"According to him (D C Sircar) Narayanavarma, the father of Bhutivarman, was the first Kamarupa king to perform horse-sacrifices and thus for the first time since the days of Pusyavarman freedom from the Gupta political supremacy was declared by Narayanavarma. But a careful study or even a casual perusal of the seal attached to the Dubi C.P. and of the nalanda seals should show that it is Sri Mahendra, the father of Narayanavarma himself, who is described as the performer of two horse-sacrifices." and the status of Kamarupa as independent state remained umimpaired."There is no conclusive proof that the Guptas conquered Kāmarupa." The status of Kamarupa remained unimpaired as the grandson of Bhutivarman also performed two Asvamedha sacrifices. According to the Allahabad Prasasti, the ruler of Kamarupa was a frontier ruler (Pratyanta-nrpatis) of the great Gupta emperor."In the Allahabad prasasti of Harişeņa the ruler of Kāmarūpa is included in the list of tributary Pratyanta-nrpatis of the great Gupta emperor."
As per the Apsad Inscription of Adityasen, Susthivarman was defeated by Mahasengupta on the bank of Lauhitya.Again the Apsad Inscription of Adityasen refer to his grandfather Mahasengupta's defeat of Susthivarmand on the bank of Lauhitya. Susthivarman was the King of Kamarupa
The first of the three Kamarupa dynasties, the Varmans were followed by the Mlechchha and then the Pala dynasties.


The capital was moved at least once, the last time by Sthitavarman (566-590) with the older city not named but presumed to be Pragjyotishpura,"The older city is not given by name...(it) might have been Pragjyotisha." located at the south-eastern slope of the Narakasur hill near Dispur. The new capital was possibly some location in Guwahati."This verse refers to the act of abandoning the old capital city and building of a new metropolis on the bank of the holy river. The holy river seems to be none other than the Brahmaputra and the site of the city must have been located in the present Gauhati region."


The first king in this dynasty was Pushyavarman, possibly a contemporary of Samudragupta (c. 335/350-375 CE). The kingdom which he established with much effort, grew in the periphery of the Gupta Empire, adopted the north Indian political model, and its kings took on names and titles of the Gupta kings and queens."But the fact that the early kings of Kamariipa freely implemented the political model of north India, particularly following that of the Guptas, rather suggests their relative autonomy in the periphery." Nothing much is known directly about the initial kings till the sixth king, Mahendravarman, who established a rock temple and assumed the title of Maharajadhiraja (king-of-kings) in the last quarter of the fifth century."Surendravarman was called the king of kings (maharajadhiraja) in the Umachal rock inscription of the last quarter of the fifth century." The last king Bhaskaravarman claimed he was a descendant of Narakasur, Bhagadatta and Vajradatta,"The mythical ancestors of (the Varman) line of rulers were Naraka, Bhagadatta and Vajradatta." though it is a considered to be a fabrication."Since the Epico-Pauranic myths associated Pragjyotisha with Naraka and his descendants, it was quite natural for the kings of ancient Assam to fabricate the story of descent from Naraka's family" The dynastic line from Pushyavarman first appear in the 7th century, in Dubi and Nidhanpur copperplate inscriptions issued by Bhaskaravarman and in the Harshacharita,"This genealogy seems to have been claimed at least from the seventh century AD (Sircar 1990b: 95), since it is noticed for the first time in the Dubi and the Nidhanpur C. P of Bhaskaravarman, and in the Harshacarita" though the descriptions are panegyric, repetitive and devoid of dates.
Foreign records are conflicting, with Xuanzang claiming him to be a Brahmana"The present king belongs to the old line (tso yari) of Narayana-deva. He is of the Brahman caste. His name is Bhaskaravarman, and his title Kumara (Keu-mo-lo)."
and She-Kia-Fang-Che claiming him to be a kshatriya whose ancestors came from China."But the She-Kia-Fang-Che records that Bhaskarvarman was a Kshatriya (and not a Brahmin) and his ancestors hailed from China (=Han) itself having nothing to do with Narayana Deva" Though some modern scholars have opined that the Varman dynasty is probably of Indo-Aryan descent,Kāmarūpa Anusandhāna Samiti, Readings in the history & culture of Assam - Page 179, 1984 "The Varman dynasty, which was probably the first Indo-Aryan dynasty in Assam was overthrown by Salastambha, a man of Mleccha or non-Aryan (Mongolian) origin."Niśipada Caudhurī, Historical archaeology of central Assam - Page 83, 1985 "K.N. Dutta seems to be right in concluding that the Varman dynasty, which was probably the first Indo-Aryan dynasty in Assam, was overthrown by Salastambha, (Mongoloid) origin, who then made himself the king of Kamarupa." it is now believed that the Varmans were originally non-Indo-Aryans. Suniti Kumar Chatterjee calls Bhaskaravarman a Hinduised Mlechcha king of Indo-Mongoloid origin."Hiuen Ts’ang by mistake described Bhaskara-varman as a Brahman, but he was just a neo-Kshatriya, a member of a Hinduised mleccha or non-Hindu Indo-Mongoloid family which had been accepted within the fold of Hindu orthodoxy." Hugh B. Urban (2011) too infers that the Varmans descended from non-Aryan tribes."Virtually all of Assam's kings, from the fourth-century Varmans down to the eighteenth-century Ahoms, came from non-Aryan tribes that were only gradually Sanskritised."

Politics and diplomacy

The most illustrious of this dynasty was the last, Bhaskaravarman, He accompanied King Harshavardhana to religious processions from Pataliputra to Kannauj.
The Varman's modeled themselves after the Gupta's and named themselves after the Gupta kings and queens."the early kings of Kamariipa freely implemented the political model of north India, particularly following that of the Guptas, rather suggests their relative autonomy in the periphery. They adopted the imperial title of the Gupta, and the name of a Gupta king and queen, and performed a horse sacrifice...The resemblance between the names of Pushyavarman's son, Samudravarman, and daughter-in-law, DattadevI, on the one hand and those of Gupta emperor Samudragupta and his queen Dattadevl on the other may not be accidental. It was probably a conscious adoption."
The alliance between king Harsha of Thanesar and Bhaskaravarman lead to spread of political influence of later to entire eastern India. Varman kings had diplomatic relations with China.

Cultural environment

People were simple and honest with small stature and dark yellow complexion who speak a language that was a little different from Mid-India. Their nature was very impetuous and wild with retentive memories. People were sincere in study who adore and sacrificed to the Devas, and they didn't worship Buddha and no monument related to Buddha was built. Some Buddha disciples said their prayers secretly. There was hundreds of deva temples, and different sects. Bhaskaravarman, role model for the people, was fond of learning. Intellectuals from distant places visited his country. Bhaskaravarman wasn't a Buddhist but he respected sramaņas of learning.

The dynasty

The dynastic line, as given in the Dubi and Nidhanpur copperplate inscriptions:
{ align="center"
! !! Reign !! Name !! succession !! Queen
1 350-374 Pushyavarman (unknown)
2 374-398 Samudravarman son of Pushyavarman Dattadevi
3 398-422 Balavarman son of Samudravarman Ratnavati
4 422-446 Kalyanavarman son of Balavarman Gandharavati
5 446-470 Ganapativarman son of Kalyanavarman Yajnavati
6 470-494 Mahendravarman son of Ganapativarman Suvrata
7 494-518 Narayanavarman son of Mahendravarman Devavati
8 518-542 Bhutivarman son of Narayanavarman Vijnayavati
9 542-566 Chandramukhavarman son of Bhutivarman Bhogavati
10 566-590 Sthitavarman son of Chandramukhavarman Nayanadevi
11 590-595 Susthitavarman son of Sthitavarman Syamadevi
12 595-600 Supratisthitavarman son of Susthitavarman (Bachelor)
13 600-650 Bhaskaravarman brother of Supratisthitavarman (Bachelor)
14 650-655 UnknownThough there exists no direct evidence, there are indirect evidence of a king who ruled for a short period after Bhaskaravarman, but was ousted by Salasthamba . (unknown) (unknown)


    Category:People from Kamarupa
    Category:Kamarupa (former kingdom)

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