The Parivrajaka (IAST: Parivrājaka) dynasty ruled parts of central India during 5th and 6th centuries. The kings of this dynasty bore the title Maharaja, and probably ruled as feudatories of the Gupta Empire. The dynasty is known from inscriptions of two of its kings: Hastin and Samkshobha.
The Parivrajaka inscriptions refer to the imperial Gupta dynasty, but do not mention any Gupta overlord. However, the use of title “Maharaja” (generally used by feudatory kings) suggests that they were vassals of the Guptas. In addition, the Parivrajaka inscriptions state that the dynasty ruled the forest kingdoms; the Allahabad pillar inscription of the Gupta emperor Samudragupta states that he subjugated all the forest kingdoms.
When the Gupta empire started declining, they acknowledged nominal Gupta suzerainty.
Multiple inscriptions of the dynasty mention a year of an uncertain calendar era, with the term “Gupta-nṛipa-rājya bhuktau”, which has been translated variously by different scholars:
- According to Moirangthem Pramod, the Parivrajakas were reduced to the governors of a bhukti (province) after the Gupta conquest.
- The term “Parivrajaka” literally means a wandering ascetic. The family came from a lineage of Brahmins of Bharadvaja gotra, who may have been wandering ascetics some time in the past.
- Another possibility is that the term “Parivrajaka” is a reference to the practice of kings abdicating their thrones in old age and becoming wandering ascetics, in accordance with the ashrama system.