Ancient India

Huns Invasions of India

The Gupta Empire was subjected to foreign aggression since the time of Skandagupta. During his reign the Huns, a nomadic tribe of Central Asia, broke into India by the unguarded passes on the north-west frontier.

The Huns gradually came to be divided into two sections. One of the two proceeded towards the Roman Empire. The other group known as the ‘White Huns’ came to India in the 5th century.

At first Gupta Emperor Skandagupta defeated them and drove them away in about 458 A.D. Checked by Skandagupta, they turned towards Persia. The Persian King Firoz was defeated and killed. The Huns then captured Persia and Kabul, and established a vast empire.

After the death of Skandagupta the second phase of the Hun invasion under the leadership of Tormana began. Tormana wrested a large portion of the Gupta Empire. Tormana’s son Mihirkula followed the footsteps of his father in invading India. Hiuen Tsang described his unredeemed savagery and fiendish cruelty. Mihirkula did not spare even the innocent common people. The cruelty of Mihirkula is reminiscent of that of Attila when he attacked the Roman Empire. That is why Mihirkula is regarded as the ‘Attila of India’. Anyway, he struck terror everywhere in northern India. His capital in India seems to have been Sakala (modern Sialkot).

Two contemporary kings of India – Yasodharman and Narasimhagupta Baladitya, broke the power of Mihirkula. Hun occupation in India, however, ended immediately after the death of Mihirkula.

The Hun invasions ushered in changes in political and social life of northern India. Unified Gupta Empire was broken up and new kingdoms sprang up in northern and western India. The mixture of the foreigners with the Hindu society was the social effect of the Hun invasions. Some of Rajput clans have a trace of White Hun blood. All living traditions of the early dynasties like the Mauryas, Kushanas and Guptas had been lost because of the Hun invasions. That is why the historians were faced with a good deal of trouble while writing the history of those three dynasties.