Kamarupa Kingdom
Varman dynasty
350 CE–655 CE
The traditional map of Kamarupa.
The traditional map of Kamarupa.
Official languagesSanskrit, Kamarupi Prakrit
Hinduism, Tribal religion[1]
• c. 350 – c. 374
• c. 518 – c. 542
• c. 600 – c. 650
Historical eraClassical India
• Established
350 CE
• Disestablished
655 CE
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Bhauma dynasty
Mlechchha dynasty

The Varman dynasty (350–650) was the first historical dynasty of the Kamarupa kingdom. It was established by Pushyavarman, a contemporary of Samudragupta.[2][3] The earlier Varmans were subordinates of the Gupta Empire,[4] but as the power of the Guptas waned, Mahendravarman (470–494) performed two horse sacrifices and the status of Kamarupa as an independent state remained unimpaired.[5] As per the Apsad Inscription of Adityasen, Susthivarman was defeated by Mahasengupta on the bank of Lauhitya.[6] The first of the three Kamarupa dynasties, the Varmans were followed by the Mlechchha and then the Pala dynasties.[7]


The name "Kāmarūpa" in later Brahmi script, in the Allahabad Pillar inscription of Samudragupta (350-375 CE).[8]

The first king in this dynasty was Pushyavarman, possibly a contemporary of Samudragupta (c. 335/350-375 CE).[3] 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.[9] 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.[9] The dynastic line from Pushyavarman first appear in the 7th century, in Dubi and Nidhanpur copperplate inscriptions issued by Bhaskaravarman and in the Harshacharita and not earlier in any inscription from his ancestors.[7][9] In these inscriptions Bhaskaravarman claims that he was a descendant of Narakasur, Bhagadatta and Vajradatta.[7] Modern scholars consider this claim to be a fabrication, jae-eun shin suggests that this genealogy was created in the context of Bharkarvarman's alliance with Harshavardhana, to help legitimise his sovereignty. The use of Naraka/Bhagadatta lineage to establish sovereignty continued under the Mlechchha and the Pala dynasties, a practice which is in keeping with the trend in the post-Gupta period in India.[9]

She-Kia-Fang-Che claiming him to be a kshatriya whose ancestors came from China.[10] Though some modern scholars have opined that the Varman dynasty is probably of Indo-Aryan descent,[11][12] 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.[13] Hugh B. Urban also infers that the Varmans descended from non-Aryan tribes.[14]

Relics of Pragjyotishpura, the capital of Varmans


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,[15] located at the south-eastern slope of the Narakasur hill near Dispur. The new capital was possibly some location in Guwahati.[16] Though the claim is not supported by any archaeological findings.

Politics and diplomacy

The Varman's modeled themselves after the Gupta's and named themselves after the Gupta kings and queens.[17]

The dynasty

The dynastic line, as given in the Dubi and Nidhanpur copperplate inscriptions:

Location of the Varmans and neighbouring polities circa 400-450 CE.[18]
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 Unknown[19] (unknown) (unknown)

Family tree

Varman dynasty
r. c. 350-374
r. c. 374-398
r. c. 398-422
r. c. 422-446
r. c. 446-470
r. c. 470-494
r. c. 494-518
r. c. 518-542
r. c. 542-566
r. c. 566-590
r. c. 590-595
r. c. 595-600
r. c. 600-650


  1. ^ (A)ccording to the Yogina Tantra—a product of seventeenth-century Assam—the entire religion of Kamarupa is itself described as kirata dharma, that is, the religion of the northeast hill tribes,."(Urban 2011, p. 237)
  2. ^ Sharma (1978), p. xxix.
  3. ^ a b Dutta, Satyabrat (2015). "Political Status of Assam in the Gupta Age". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 76: 137–140. ISSN 2249-1937.
  4. ^ Majumdar, Ramesh Chandra; Altekar, Anant Sadashiv (1986). Vakataka - Gupta Age Circa 200-550 A.D. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. p. 142. ISBN 9788120800267.
  5. ^ Sen, Sailendra Nath (1999). Ancient Indian History and Civilization. New Age International. p. 303. ISBN 978-81-224-1198-0. The status of Kamarupa remained unimpaired as the grandson of Bhutivarman also performed two Asvamedha sacrifices
  6. ^ Maity. Sachindra Kumar. Corpus Of Bengal Inscriptions Bearing On History And Civilization Of Bengal. p. 7. 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
  7. ^ a b c Sircar, D C (1990), "Political History", in Barpujari, H K (ed.), The Comprehensive History of Assam, vol. I, Guwahati: Publication Board, Assam, pp. 94–171
  8. ^ Fleet, John Faithfull (1888). Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum Vol. 3. pp. 6–10.
  9. ^ a b c d Shin (2018).
  10. ^ Sharma (1978), p. xiv.
  11. ^ Kāmarūpa Anusandhāna Samiti (1984). Readings in the history & culture of Assam. p. 179. "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."
  12. ^ Niśipada Caudhurī (1985). Historical archaeology of central Assam. p. 83. "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."
  13. ^ Chatterji, Suniti Kumar (1951). Kirata-jana-krti. pp. 90, 91.
  14. ^ "The Womb of Tantra: Goddesses, Tribals, and Kings in Assam". academic.oup.com. p. 234. Retrieved 30 July 2023.
  15. ^ "The older city is not given by name...(it) might have been Pragjyotisha."(Sharma 1978, pp. 30–31)
  16. ^ "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."(Sharma 1978, p. 30)
  17. ^ "the early kings of Kamarupa 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."(Shin 2018, p. 30)
  18. ^ Schwartzberg, Joseph E. (1978). A Historical atlas of South Asia. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 145, map XIV.1 (j). ISBN 0226742210.
  19. ^ "Though 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."(Sharma 1978, pp. xxxi–xxxii).