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Huns and India

When the Huns ruled India

The first Huna invasion was in 455 CE. They were defeated & pushed back by Skandagupta. The second Huna invasion was carried out by Toramana. Aulikara ruler Prakashadharman defeated him in 515. The third Huna invasion was carried out by Mihirakula. He was defeated by Yashodharman.

The Huna emperor Mihirakula was a devout Shaivite and he bowed his head before none but Shiva. Yashodharman mentions in his inscription he forced Mihirakula to bow to his feet. He proclaims conquest of a large territory from the Western ocean to the Brahmaputra and the Himalayas to Mahendra.

Unlike in Europe and Persia where Huns were shunned, Indian civilization civilized & adopted Hunas. From Toramana onwards, they stopped calling themselves “Alchon” on their coins. Toramana became a Vaishnava and issued Garuda coins. His son Mihirakula was a devout Shaivite.


uns became so thoroughly Hinduised that they started calling themselves Kshatriya and ruled according to Dharmashastras.

In Rajatarangini, Kalhana praised a Huna king Meghavahana for his just and dharmic rule. No wonder then that “Hun” is one among 36 gotras of Rajputs today.

Here is the coin of the Huna king of Kashmir, Meghavahana (c. 5th century) The coin depicts Lord Shiva in his Tribhanga form holding a trident. The obverse depicts Goddess Lakshmi sitting on a lotus. Hunas used Sanskrit in Brahmi script as their official language

Kalhana describes the aforementioned Huna ruler as a very just king(“dharmatma”). Kalhana says that the Huna king completely forbade animal killing in Kashmir. He closed meat shops & paid for the livelihood of butchers from the state treasury. He also established Agraharas for Brahmins.

This shows how the wrong one would be to stereotype all Hunas as ‘barbarians’. They perhaps were indeed barbarians when they first entered India, but they were quickly civilized and incorporated into Indian civilization.

The Huna king Mihirakula’s empire extended from Central Asia to Central India. His inscription was found in Dalverzin Tepe (Uzbekistan). Yashodharman’s victory over such a mighty emperor is perhaps the biggest defeat taken in India by foreign empires.

These two pillars, each weighing 200 tonnes and 40 feet high, got erected in Mandsaur in 530 CE by Yashodharman after he emerged victorious over the Hunas led by Mihirakula, in the battle of Sondani.