The most brilliant luminary in the Harsha’s Court was his Court-poet Brahman Banabhatta.
Banabhatta was the author of the Harshacharita which is a eulogistic history of the reign of Emperor Harshavardhana and a very reliable source of our information regarding the reign of the monarch, excluding of course the pompous rhetoric’s used by the poet.
The initial chapter of Harshacharita is devoted to the life and family of Banabhatta himself, chapter’s second to fourth to the ancestry of Harsha and the history of Thaneswar, and the rest is devoted to Harsha’s military campaigns and the different religious sects living in the Vindhyas.
Bana’s work gives us an idea of the political, social, economic and religious life of the time and helps us considerably in the task of reconstruction of the history of the reign of Harshavardhana. His work has been translated into English by Cowell and Thomas. About the merit of the work of Banabhatta, Cowell and Thomas remarks that ‘The Court, the camp, the quiet village and still more quiet monasteries and retreats, whether of Brahamanas or Buddhists, are all painted with singular power”. Harshacharita supplements as well as corroborates the work of Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang.
Bana’s narrative, however, abruptly ends with the recovery of Rajyasri from the Vindhya forests. From Bana we know of Harsha’s determination for world-wide conquests and the issue of a proclamation to all kinds of India to either accept his allegiance or to be prepared for a fight with him. We are also told how Bhaskar Varman of Kamrup negotiated a friendly alliance and not one of vassalage. No reference to Harsha’s success against Sasanka of Gauda has been referred to by the poet.
Despite the usual exaggeration of a royal panegyrist while praise of his master had been done, the work of Banabhatta in essential parts is reliable and where he is corroborated by the foreign traveler Hiuen Tsang, it is unassailable.