Gupta Empire

Gupta Empire Important Facts:

  • 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.):

  • Chandragupta I was the first independent Gupta empire 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. Kalidasa – Shakuntala (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. Amarsimha – compiled 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.

Gupta Empire- Administration:

  • 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.
  • Important Terms:
  1. Sandhivigrahika – War & peace ;
  2. Pilupati – head of elephants ;
  3. Asvapati – head of horses ;
  4. Narapati – head of foot soldiers ;
  5. Ranabhandagarika – officer-in-charge of stores ;
  6. Akshapataladhikrita – Accounts ;
  7. Pustapala – Records ;
  8. Vishti – Forced Labor.

Gupta Empire- Literature:

VisakhadattaAuthor of two Sanskrit dramas – Mudrarakshasa &
VishnusarmaPanchatantra Stories.
DandinKavyadarsa  & Dasakumaracharita.
AryabhattaAryabhattiyam (deals with mathematics 
& astronomy)
VaramihiraPancha Siddhantika ;
Brihadsamhita (delas with astronomy, astrology,
geography etc) ;
Brihadjataka (standard work on astrology).
HarisenaPrayaga Prasasti ;
Brihatkatha kosha.
KamandakaNitisara (Arthasastra of Gupta Period).
BrahmaguptaBrahmagupta siddhanta ;
Khanda Khadyaka.
The Slave Dynasty (1206 – 1290)Zamindari System or Permanent Settlement 1793
The Khilji Dynasty (1290-1320)Ryotwari Settlement 1820
Vijayanagar Empire (1336-1649)Gandhi-Irwin Pact: March 5, 1931
The Mughal Empire (1556-1707)Social Changes in Modern India– NIOS

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