Gupta Empire


  • The founder of the Gupta dynasty was Sri Gupta. He was succeeded by Ghatokacha.
  • These two were called Maharajas.
Chandragupta I (320-330 A.D.):-
  • Was the first independent ruler & called himself ‘Maharajadhiraja‘ (the great king of kings).
  • Married the Lichchavi Princess, Kumaradevi, which was politically very strategic for Gupta empire.
  • He is considered to be the founder of the Gupta era which starts with his accession in A.D. 320.
Samudragupta (330-380 A.D.):-
  • Title – Vikramanka. Also called Dharma Prachar Bandhu ; Licchavi-dauhitra.
  • An inscription engraved on the Ashokan Pillar at Allahabad dating to 4th century A.D., known as the Allahabad Pillar Inscription or  Prayaga Prashasti (composed by his court poet, Harisena) , gives us information about Samudragupta’s accession & conquests.
  • Performed Asvamedha sacrifice after his military victories.
  • Because of his military achievements, Samudragupta was hailed as “Indian Napoleon” by V.A.Smith.
  • Virasena– was his commander in Southern Campaign.
  • Samudragupta’s issued eight types of Gold coins. They were of Yupa type.
  • Shown playing the lute or Veena on some of his coins.
  • Also called Kaviraja because of his ability in composing verses.
  • Samudragupta wrote Krishna Charitam.
  • He was an ardent follower of Vaishnavism but was tolerant of other creeds.
  • He evinced keen interest in Buddhism & was the patron of the great Buddhist scholar Vasubandu (author of Abhidharamakosa).
  • He granted permission to the Buddhist king of Ceylon, Meghavarman to build a monastry at Bodh Gaya & was hence given the title of “Anukamparan” (Full of Compassion).
Chandragupta II (Vikramaditya, 380-415 A.D.):-
    • Disputed succession followed him between his sons, Ramagupta & Chandragupta II according to a drama, Devichandraguptam by Visakhadatta.
    • Mehrauli Iron Pillar inscription (belongs to Chandragupta II; Brahmi script ; in honour of vishnu) claims his authority over North-western India & a good portion of Bengal. 
    • Fa-Hien (Chinese Pilgrim) travelled during his period.
    • First Gupta ruler to issue Silver coins.
    • He defeated the last saka ruler Rudra Simha III & annexed territories of Western Malwa & Gujarat.
    • He also took the title of Simhavikrama
    • Made ujjain the second capital of empire.
    • His court was adorned by the Navratnas-

    1. KalidasaShakuntala (Sanskrit drama) ; Malavikagnimitra ; Vikramorvasiya ; Raghuvamsa ; Kumarasambhava ; Ritusamhara ; Meghaduta.
    2. Harisena – Allahabad Pillar Inscription or Prayaga Prashasti .
    3. Kahapanaka was an astrologer.
    4. Shanku in the field of Architecture.
    5. Dhanvantri – was a great Physician. Nighantu was his work.
    6. Vetalbhatta – was a magician.
    7. Amarsimhacompiled a lexicon called Amarkosa.
    8. Vararuchi – Prakrit Prakasha (first grammar of Prakrit Language).
    9. Varahamihira – Pancha Siddhantika (five astronomical systems) ; Brihadsamhita ; Brihadjataka.

    Kumaragupta I (415-455 A.D.):-

            • Title – Mahendraditya.
            • Important Inscription – Mandsor & Copper plate inscription.
            • He also performed an Asvamedha Sacrifice.
            • He founded the Nalanda University.
            • First Hun invasion took place during his reign.

            Skandagupta (455-467 A.D.):-

            • 5th century A.D.- Huns, called Ephthalties were defeated by him & sent back for a century to come.
            • Junagarh inscription mentions that his Governor, Parhadatta got the Sudarshana lake repaired.
            • Adopted the title – Vikramaditya.
            • Succeeded by Buddhagupta & Vishnugupta was the last ruler of the imperial Guptas.


              • The Gupta Empire was divided into Various administrative units-

              1. Empire – Central of the King ; assisted by Mantri or Sachiva – Chief Minister ; Senapatis – Military Officers.
              2. Provinces were known as Bhuktis & provincial governors as Uparikas.
              3. Bhuktis were subdivided into Vishyas or districts & governed by Vishyapatis.
              4. Sub-district – Peth.
              5. Villages – Grama ; under Gramika & Mahattar.

              • Nagara Sreshits were the officers looking after the city administration.
              • Religious grants , called Agraharas were made to Brahmins, which were hereditary & tax free perpetually. Example – Nalanda & Gaya grants of Samudragupta.
              • Guptas also made Devagrahara & secular grants which led to the beginning of the process of Sub infeudation.
              • Land revenue was the main source of state income. Both kalidasa & the author of Narada smriti state that one-sixth of the produce should be claimed as the royal revenue.
              • Sandhivigrahika – War & peace ; Pilupati – head of elephants ; Asvapati – head of horses ; Narapati – head of foot soldiers ; Ranabhandagarika – officer-in-charge of stores ; Akshapataladhikrita – Accounts ; Pustapala – Records ; Vishti – Forced Labor.


                1:- Visakhadatta
                Author of two Sanskrit dramas – Mudrarakshasa &
                2:- Sudraka
                3:- Bharavi
                4:- Vishnusarma
                Panchatantra Stories.
                5:- Amarasimha
                6:- Dandin
                Kavyadarsa  & Dasakumaracharita.
                7:- Subhandhu
                8:- Kalidasa
                9:- Aryabhatta
                Aryabhattiyam (deals with mathematics 
                & astronomy)
                10:- Varamihira
                Pancha Siddhantika ; Brihadsamhita (delas with astronomy, astrology,
                geography etc) ; Brihadjataka (standard work on astrology).
                Ashtangasamgraha (summary of the eight branches of medicine).
                12:- Vasubandhu
                13:- Harisena
                Prayaga Prasasti ; Brihatkatha kosha.
                14:- Kamandaka
                Nitisara (Arthasastra of Gupta Period).
                15:- Brahmagupta
                Brahmagupta siddhanta ; Khanda Khadyaka.

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