The Maukharis are a very ancient family. Possibly they were known to paint and also to Patanjali. We have definite evidence of their ruling as a power only from the 6th century A.D. probably Yagna-Varman founded this family. He was succeeded by Sardula-varman. He in turn was succeeded by Ananta-Varman. The existing records lavish praise on these rulers but they do not throw light on their history. A very interesting feature of this evidence is that mone of the records refer to any paramount sovereigns. Soholars, however, hold the view that the Maukharis were inallprobability feudatories of the imperial Guptas. The evidence as it is shows that Ananta-varman flourished at a time when the Gupta Empire had begun to decline.
Another branch of the Maukharis which ultimately became more powerful is known from several seals and inscriptions. The rule of Hari-Varman, Aditya-Varman probably had nothing great.
It was only during the reign of Isana-Varman that the family rose to power and prestige. The kingdom is located in the modern State of UP. It is only from Isana-varman on wards that they ceased to be feudatories. It was said about Isana-varman that he defeated andhras and forced the Gaudas to remain in their proper realm. It is a well-known fact that isana-varman issued coins in imitation of Toramana, Gupta coins but distinguished by a date.
It was not only Isana-varman who took advantage of the destruction of the Gupta empire, another family known as later Gupta rose into prominence and Challenged the Maukharis bid for imperial power. This led to a long war which continued for more than half a centuy and ultimately resulted in the disappearence of the Maukharis. It was Kumaragupta of the later Guptas who totally defeated Isana-verman. Once again Kumaraguptas son Domodargupta defeated the Maukharis. It is strange that Harsha's inscriptions which recorded glorious military exploits of Isana-varman is altogether silent about this fight of the Guptas.
Althought Isana-varman in all probability had suffered defeat at the hands of the later Guptas, his army was instrumental for defeating the Huns. Isana-varman played a very important role in this victory. Possibly, as the deputy of the Gupta emperor, Isana-varman defeated the Huns but utilized this success to carve out an independent kingdom.
Isana-varman was succeeded by his son sarva-varman. We have definite historical proof that he possessed a part of Magadha.
Both sarva-varman and his son and successor Avanti-varman are styled as Maharajadhirajas. According to Banabhatta, Prabhakara-vardhana of Kanauj gave his daughter Rajyasri in marriage to the son of Avanti-varman. However nothing of importance is known about both Sarva-varman and Avanti-varman.
It was Avanti-varman's eldest son, Graha-varman that figures prominently in Bana's Harsha-Charita. Graha-varman was on the throne in early 7th century.
Al these four kings ruled for a little more than half a century. Based on the locations where the coins and inscriptions have been found, it is maintained that Uttar Pradesh or a major part of it constitutes the nucleus of the Maukhari Kingdom. It is generally thought that modern Kanauj on the Ganga was the capital city of the Maukharis.