Mihirakula, also Mahiragula, was one of the most important rulers of the Alchon Huns, who led a conquest and gained temporary control of Gandhara, Kashmir, northern and central India. Mihirakula was a son of Toramana, both of Huna heritage, and ruled the Indian part of the Hephthalite Empire. Mihirakula ruled his empire from 502 to 530,[2] from his capital of Sagala (modern-day Sialkot, Pakistan).[3][4]

According to Buddhist texts, the Huna king Mihirakula was extremely cruel and barbaric.[5][2][6] He destroyed Buddhist sites, ruined monasteries, killed monks. Yashodharman and Gupta Empire rulers, in and after about 532 CE, reversed Mihirakula's campaign and ended the Mihirakula era.[7][8]


The name "Mihirakula" is most likely of Iranian origin and may have the meaning "Mithra's Begotten", as translated by Janos Harmatta. In Sanskrit Mihira is Sun and Kula is Clan. He was thus of Suryavanshi lineage. [9]


According to Sagar, the Huna king Toramana was cruel and barbaric, his son Mihirakula even more so, during their rule.[7] Mihirakula had conquered Sindh by 520 CE, had a large elephant and cavalry-driven army. Mihirakula destroyed Buddhist sites, ruined monasteries, according to Sagar. Yashodharman, about 532 CE, reversed Mihirakula's campaign and started the end of Mihirkula era.[7][5] Mihirakula issued coins, like the Kushana era kings, showing Oesho or Shiva, which suggests that he may also have patronized Shaivism. Other scholars state that there are many legends surrounding this era and historical facts are difficult to ascertain. The Chinese pilgrim Xuanzang (Hsuan Tsang) mentions Mihirakula as conquering Kashmir first, then Gandhara. He is also mentioned as attempting to conquer central and eastern India, but getting vanquished by Yashodharman and the Gupta king Narasimhagupta Baladitya. Mihirakula was captured during the war, but his life spared because Baladitya's mother intervened and argued against capital punishment.[8][10] He returned to Kashmir, states the Chinese pilgrim, with treachery seized power, attacked Gandhara, then died within a few months.[8]

Cosmas Indicopleustes

The 6th-century Alexandrian traveler Cosmas Indicopleustes states that the Hephthalites in India reached the zenith of its power under "Gollas", which states Ahmad Dani is same as Mihirakula from the last part of his name.[11]

"Higher up in India, that is, farther to the north, are the White Huns. The one called Gollas when going to war takes with him, it is said, no fewer than two thousand elephants, and a great force of cavalry. He is the lord of India, and oppressing the people forces them to pay tribute.


"The Record of the Western Regions" by the 7th-century Chinese traveler Hsüan-tsang states that Mihirakula destroyed Buddhism and killed monks in Gandhara.[12] Xuanzang wrote in 630 CE that Mihirakula had conquered all India. The Narasimhagupta Baladitya defeated Mihirakula was finally captured by the Indian king, who later spared his life.[12] Xuanzang states that while Mihirkula lost his conquest, his brother seized power in Kashmir and Gandhara. Mihirakula returned to Kashmir, with treachery seized the throne, attacked Gandhara but died within a year.[8]

Gwalior inscription

The Gwalior inscription issued in the 15th regnal year created by Matricheta in a Surya temple, mentions Mihirakula. It confirms that Mihirakula reign had included Gwalior around 535 CE.

Sondani columns inscription

Mihirakula suffered a defeat by the Aulikara king Yasodharman of Malwa[13] in 528, and the Gupta emperor Narasimhagupta who previously paid Mihirakula tribute. The defeat at the battle of Sondani, resulted in the loss of Alchon possessions in the Punjab and north India by 542.[14]


  1. ^ CNG Coins
  2. ^ a b Grousset, Rene (1970), The Empire of the Steppes, Rutgers University Press, p. 71, ISBN 0-8135-1304-9 
  3. ^ Bakker, Hans (2014-07-16). The World of the Skandapurāṇa. BRILL. ISBN 9789004277144. 
  4. ^ Dani, Ahmad Hasan (1999). History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The crossroads of civilizations: A.D. 250 to 750. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. ISBN 9788120815407. 
  5. ^ a b Mihirakula, Encyclopaedia Britannica
  6. ^ Behrendt, Kurt A. (2004). Handbuch der Orientalistik. BRILL. ISBN 9789004135956. 
  7. ^ a b c Foreign Influence on Ancient India by Krishna Chandra Sagar p.216
  8. ^ a b c d Ramesh Chandra Majumdar (1977). Ancient India. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 242–244. ISBN 978-81-208-0436-4. 
  9. ^ Janos Harmatta, "The Rise of the Old Persian Empire: Cyrus the Great," AAASH Acta Antiqua Acadamie Scientiarum Hungaricae 19, 197, pp. 4-15.
  10. ^ Louis Renou; Jean Filliozat (1957). Political history of India from the earliest times to the 7th century A.D. by J. Filliozat. Susil. pp. 176–183. 
  11. ^ Dani, Ahmad Hasan (1999). History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The crossroads of civilizations, A.D. 250 to 750. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. p. 142. ISBN 8120815408. Retrieved November 5, 2012. 
  12. ^ a b Early Buddhist Transmission and Trade Networks by Jason Neelis p.168
  13. ^ Ojha, N.K. (2001). The Aulikaras of Central India: History and Inscriptions, Chandigarh: Arun Publishing House, ISBN 81-85212-78-3, p.52
  14. ^ Klaus Vondrovec (2014). Coinage of the Iranian Huns and Their Successors from Bactria to Gandhara (4th to 8th Century CE). ISBN 978-3-7001-7695-4. 

External links

Preceded by
Tegin of the Alchon Huns
Succeeded by
Toramana II