Harshavardhana, also known as Harsha, was an Indian emperor who ruled over a large empire in northern India from 606 to 647. The second son of Prabhakarvardhana, he hailed from the Pushyabhuti Dynasty. After the death of his father, his elder brother Rajyavardhana took over the reins of the kingdom. However, Rajyavardhana too died, most probably killed by Shashanka, the ruler of the Gauda kingdom following which the young Harsha came to power. After the downfall of the Gupta Empire in the middle of the 6th century, Northern India had fallen apart to small republics and minor states. After ascending the throne Harsha united the small republics from Punjab to central India, to create a vast unified empire. Under his rule, the empire underwent considerable expansion and grew to include the Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Bengal, Odisha and the entire Indo-Gangetic plain north of the Narmada River. He proved himself to be an able administrator and presided over a kingdom where peace and prosperity prevailed for most of the time. He had an intellectual bent of mind and his court was a hub of artistic activities. Harsha himself was a Mahayana Buddhist and was tolerant towards all Indic faiths.