According to many historians and scholars, the Gupta Dynasty was of Vaishya origin. Historian Ram Sharma asserts that the Vaishya Guptas appeared at that time as a reaction against oppressive rulers.
The most probable time for the reign of Sri Gupta is about c. 240–280. The Murundas, who were a feudal lords of Kushans had provided or granted land to Sri Gupta. He can be considered as the first person of Gupta’s empire, but not considered the founder of the empire.
Sriguptas son and successor Ghatotkacha ruled Dynasty of Gupta presumably from c. 280–319. He also challenged other feudal lords and conquered their lands. In contrast to his successor, Chandragupta I, who is mentioned as Maharajadhiraja by title. He and his son Ghatotkacha are referred on big stone inscriptions as Maharaja.
SRIGUPTA AND GHATOTKACHA
They were at starting family of landowners who acquired a political control in the region of Magadha and some parts of eastern Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh and around part seems to have been a more important province for the Guptas than current Bihar state.
The Guptas enjoyed certain geographical material advantages. The centre of their operations lay in the fertile land of Madhyadesha which covering Bihar and Uttar Pradesh part. They also took an advantage of their proximity to the areas in north India which carried on through silk trade with the Byzantine Empire.
On account of these some favourable factors. The Guptas set up their rule over Anuganga (the middle Gangetic basin region), Prayag (modern Prayagraj), Saket (modern Ayodhya) and Magadha. In course of time this kingdom became an all-India great empire.
Chandragupta was a brave son of the Gupta king Ghatotkacha also a grandson of the dynasty’s founder Gupta. Both of whom are called Maharaja which is written in the Allahabad Pillar inscription.
Chandragupta assumed the title Maharajadhiraja (“king of the great kings”) and issued gold coins on his name or title which suggests that he was the 1st imperial ruler of the Gupta dynasty.
Many modern historians, including V. A. Smith and Gupta P.L., have said that the Gupta calendar era, which begins from 319-320 CE, was founded by Chandragupta I, and marks his own coronation. So, thus Chandragupta must have ascended the throne in 319-320 CE.
Chandragupta married the Lichchhavi princess beautiful Kumaradevi. Lichchhavi is the name of an ancient Indias clan that was headquartered at Vaishali in present-day it is in Bihar during the time of Gautama Buddha period.
The Lichchhavi kingdom of princes Kumaradevi is unlikely to have been located in present-day of Nepal, because Allahabad Pillar of Samudragupta inscriptionmentions Nepala as a distinct, subordinate kingdom of the Guptas.
The gold coins which were attributed to Chandragupta bear portraits of Chandragupta and hishbeautiful queen Kumaradevi, and the legend Lichchhavayah. Their son Samudragupta is described as Lichchhavi-dauhitra on portrait (“Lichchhavi daughter’s son”) in the Gupta inscriptions on coin.
Numismatist John Allan theorized that Chandragupta had defeated a Lichchhavi kingdom which headquartered at Vaishali, and that Kumaradevi’s marriage with him happened as part of a peace treaty between them.
It is more probably that the marriage helped Chandragupta extend his political power, aspiration and dominions, enabling him to adopt the title of Maharajadhiraja.
The appearance of name of the Lichchhavi on the coins is probably symbolic of their contribution to the expansion of the Gupta Dynasty power.
After the marriage, Chandragupta likely became the ruler of the Lichchhavi territories also.
Kumaradevi and Chandragupta being regarded as the sovereign rulers of their respective states. It was until the reign of their son Samudragupta, who became the alone ruler of the united kingdom of Gupta Dynasty.
Samudragupta was a son of the great Gupta king Chandragupta.
His Allahabad Pillar inscription perfectly describes how Chandragupta called him a noble person in front of the courtiers. Chandragupta appointed him to “protect the earth”.
The Gupta inscriptions suggest that Samudragupta had a high military . The Eran stone inscription of Samudragupta states that he had brought the all tribe of kingk under his suzerainty. Because of that his enemies were terrified when they thought of him in their dreams also.
GREAT MILITARY GENERAL
The later Allahabad Pillar inscription, a panegyric written by minister of samudragupta and military officer Harishena. He credits him with extensive conquests.
The pollar gives the most detailed account of Samudragupta’s military conquests. It listing them in mainly geographical and some chronological order.
It also states that Samudragupta fought a hundreds of battle and acquired a hundred of wounds that looked like marks of glory for a King and earned the title Prakrama.
The Mathura stone inscription of king Chandragupta 2 describes Samudragupta as an “exterminator of all kkings”.It means no equally powerful enemy or person whose “fame/popularity was tasted by the water of the four oceans”.
The Allahabad Pillar inscription absolutely suggests that aim of Samudragupta was the unification of the earth (dharani-bandha), which suggests that he may have an aspiration to become a Chakravartin (a universal ruler like Sikandar).
Samudragupta had uprooted Achyuta, Nagasena, among the kings of Aryavarta (northern India) which were defeated by Samudragupta.These kings are identified as the rulers of present day of western Uttar Pradesh.
According to one special theory, these three kings were vassal rulers who rebelled againstthe Gupta dynasty specially Samudragupta after the death of his father. Samudragupta crushed these 3 rebellion, and also reinstated them after they sought his forgiveness.
Later, these rulers rebelled once again to take revenge and Samudragupta defeated them once again. Samudragupta dispatched an army, infantry to capture the scion of the Kota family, whose identity was uncertain. The Kotas may have been the rulers of present day Punjab and Pakistans eastern region.
In accordance with the Allahabad Pillar inscription, Samudragupta had captured the following kings of Dakshinapatha which we call the southern region:
1 – Mahendra of Kosala
2 – Vyaghra-raja of Mahakantara
3 – Mantaraja of Kurala
4 – Mahendragiri of Pishtapura
5 – Svamidatta of Kottura
6 – Damana of Erandapalla
7 – Vishnugopa of Kanchi
8 – Nilaraja of Avamukta
9 – Hastivarman of Vengi
10 – Ugrasena of Palakka
11 – Kubera of Devarashtra
12 – Dhananjaya of Kusthalapura
In accordance with the Allahabad Pillar inscription, Samudragupta forcibly uprooted the following given kings of Aryavarta, the northern region of UP:
1 – Rudradeva
2 – Matila
3 – Nagadatta
4 – Chandravarman
5 – Ganapatinaga
6 – Nagasena
7 – Achyuta-nandin
8 – Balavarman
Samudragputa’s Eran inscription records mentioned the installation of a Vishnu idol in a temple. Samudragupta explicitly call him a devotee of Vishnu God , but the authenticity of these inscriptions is in doubtful.
He was also tolerant towards Buddhism, and had given permission to the construction of a Buddhist monastery which commissioned by the Anuradhapura king Meghavarna at Bodh Gaya in the Samudraguptas territory.
The stone inscription of Mathura of his son Chandragupta II also describes him as the giver of “millions of gold and cows”. It appears that Samudragupta donated these cows to the Brahmins community.
Successor of Samudragupta was his son Ramagupta, who was dethroned and killed by his other son called Chandragupta II
Chandragupta II also known by name Chandragupta Vikramaditya was one of the most powerful emperors of the Gupta Empire in India History. From 388 to 409 he had subjugated Gujarat, the region north of Mumbai, Saurashtra part, in western India, and Malwa Province, with its capital at Ujjain.
The mother of Chandragupta 2, Dutta Devi, was the chief queen of Samudragupta. Dhruvadevi was also Chandragupta II’s chief queen.
Vishakhadatta’s play “Natyadarpana” drama mentions that Ramagupta, the elder brother of Chandragupta Vikramaditya, decided to surrender Dhruvadevi to the Saka ruler Rudrasimha III of the Western Kshatrapas dynasty, when he was faced with a military defeat.
Second daughter of Chandragupta 2, Prabhavatigupta, by his Naga queen Kuberanaga was married to the powerful Vakataka dynasty ofof rul Rudrasena II.
Chandragupta is believed to have defeated the Western Kshatrapas that led by Rudrasimha III, capturing Malwa and Gujarat in the process.
Chandragupta II controlled a large empire, from the mouth of the Ganges valleyvto the mouth of the Indus River and from what is now known by North Pakistan down to the mouth of the Narmada River.
Pataliputra continued to be the capital of his large empire but Ujjain also became latter second capital. The huge number of beautiful gold coins issued by the Gupta dynasty was sign of prosperity.
Chandragupta II also started to producing silver coins in the Western Satrap tradition in his western territories of region. Chandragupta II was succeeded by his 2nd number son Kumaragupta I.
The conquest gave Chandragupta the Western sea coast area which famous for trade and commerce. This had much contributed to the prosperity of Malwa, and its chief city Ujjain. Ujjain seems to like have been made the second capital of Chandragupta II.
‘King Chandra’ whose exploits has been mentioned in the Mehrauli in Iron Pillar Inscription, which is located in the Qutub-Minar complex in Delhi is identified by many scholars with identity of Chandragupta II.
Chandragupta II had adopted the title of Vikramaditya which had been first time used by an Ujjain ruler in 57 B.C. as a mark of victory over the Saka Kshatrapas of western India rulers.
Nine famous scholars known we call them Navaratnas (“nine gems”) attended the court of the legendary Vikramaditya. We see concept of Navratna in case of Mughal Akbar Court. The root of Navratna are came from here.
1 – Kalidasa
2 – Amarasimha
3 – Dhanvantari
4 – Ghatakarapara
5 – Kshapanaka
6 – Shanku
7 – Varahamihira
8 – Vararuchi
9 – Vetala Bhatta.
Kumaragupta which is known as Shakraditya and Mahendraditya was an emperor of the Gupta Empire, period 415–455 CE. He was the son of the famous Chandragupta II, and Dhruvadevi (also known as Dhruvasvamini).
He was an able ruler and retained, intact of the vast empire, which extended from Bengal to Kathiawara and from the Himalayas to the Narmada river valley.
Kumaragupta who enjoyed a long reign of more than forty years in Gupta Dynasty. He performed the Asvamedha sacrifice, but we do not know of any military success achieved by him in his reign.
He maintained intact the vast empire built up by his two predecessors Samudragupta and Chandragupta2. Towards at the end of his reign the empire was menaced by hordes of the Pushyamitras mostly a tribe allied to the Hunas which were defeated by the Crown of Guptas prince Skandagupta.
SKANDAGUPTA(455 – 467)
Skandagupta, who succeeded after Kumaragupta I, was perhaps the last powerful Gupta Dynasty monarch. To consolidate his position he had to fight with the Pushyamitras, and his reign faced Huna invasion from access the frontiers in the north-west. However Skandagupta was successful in throwing out the Huns.
It appears that these wars badly affected the economy of the empire, and also the debased gold coinage of Skandagupta bears testimony to these. Moreover, he appears to have been the last Gupta ruler to mint only silver coins in western India.
The Sudarsana lake (which is originally built during the Maurya times) burst due to excessive rains and in the early part of his rule. His governor Parnadatta and his son Chakrapalita got the lake repaired. The last known date of Skandagupta is 467 A.D. from his silver coins identified.
LAST DAYS OF GUPTA EMPIRE
Purugupta, a son of kumaragupta, enjoyed or ruled for some time and was succeeded by his son Budhagupta whose earliest known date is found as A. D. 477 and the latest is A.D. 495. He was succeeded by his younger brother Narasimhagupta Baladitya.
A king named Kumaragupta II is known to have reigned around A.D. 474. This shows internal dissension which continued after the end of Budhagupta’s reign in the dynasty.
He was succeeded after by his son and grandson, Kumaragupta III and Visnugupta – the three reigns which are covered the period A.D. 500-550. The Two otherkinos, Vainyagupta around (A.D. 507) and Bhanugupta (A.D. 510) ruled in Samatataand Nalandaand in Eran respectively.
The Guptas continued to rule till around 550 A.D., but by then their power had already become very insignificant and vulnerable.
FALL OF GUPTA EMPIRE
In the 480’s the Alchon Huns under Toramana and Mihirakula broke up through the Gupta defenses in the northwest region, and much of the empire in the northwest was overrun by the Huns by 500 A.D.
The empire disintegrated under the continuous attacks of Toramana and his successor Mihirakula. These invasions, although only spanning a few decades, had long term impact on India, and in a sense brought an end to Classical Indian civilization and culture.
after the invasions of Huns, the Gupta Empire, already was weakened by these invasions and the rise of local rulers in region such as Yashodharman, ended as well. Following the invasions, northern India was left in a disarray, with numerous smaller Indian powers emerging after the crumbling of the Guptas Dynasty.
The invasions of Huna are said to have seriously damaged India’s trade with Europe and Central Asian countries. In particular, Indo-Roman trade relations, which the Gupta Empire had greatly benefited from the relations.
FALL OF GUPTA EMPIRE
The Guptas had been exporting numerous luxury products to other countries such as silk, leather goods, fur, iron products, ivory, pearl, and pepper from centres such as Nasik, Paithan, Pataliputra, and Benares region.
The invasion of Huna probably disrupted these trade relations and the tax revenues that came with them in trade.Great centres of learning were destroyed, such as the city of Taxila, Nalanda that bringing cultural regression.
In addition to the invasion of Hun, the factors, which contribute to the decline of the Gupta empire include competition from the Vakatakas king and the rise of Yashodharman in Malwa region.
The last known inscription on stone by a Gupta emperor is from the reign of Vishnugupta in which he makes a land grant in the region of Kotivarsha.
The sources of the Gupta Dynasty period suggest that certain important changes were being taken in the agrarian society. Feudal development was surfaced under the Guptas with the grant of fiscal and administrative concessions to the priests and local administrators.
Religious functionaries were granted some land, free of tax to them forever, and they were authorised to collect some from the peasants all the taxes which could have otherwise gone to the emperor.
Religious grants were of two kinds: Agrahara grants it’s meaning for the Brahmanas which meant to be perpetual, hereditary and free of tax, accompanied with the assignment of all land revenue.
The Devagrahara grants was made to only for secular parties such as writers and merchants, for the purpose of repair and worship of the temple. The secular grants were made to secular parties and had evident of it from a grant made by the Uccakalpa dynasty.
MILITARY OF GUPTA EMPIRE
The Imperial Guptas couldn’t have achieved their great successes through force of arms without an efficient martial system or army.
The Gupta Dynasty seem to have relied heavily on infantry, archers, and the bow was one of the dominant weapons of their chief army forces. The Indian version of the longbow was composed of some metals, or more typically of bamboo, and fired a long bamboo cane arrow with a metal head at front.
The Indian longbow was reputedly a powerful weapon of their capable of great range and penetration power and provided an effective counter to invading horse archers.
The steel bow was capable of long range and penetration power of exceptionally thick armor. These were some less common weapons than the bamboo design and found in the hands of mostly noblemen rather than in the ranks. Archers were mostly protected by infantry equipped with shields, javelins, and longswords.
The Gupta armies were mostly better disciplined. Able commanders such as Samudragupta and Chandragupta II would have probably understood the need for combined armed tactics and proper logistical organization in force.
Guptas military success probably stemmed from the concerted use of elephants, infantry, armored cavalry, steel bow and foot archers in tandem against both Hindu kingdoms and foreign attack invading from the Northwest.
In the reign of Chandragupta II, Gupta Empire maintained a huge army consisting of 500,000 infantry, 50,000 cavalry and around 20,000 charioteers and 10,000 elephants along with a powerful navy with more than 1200 ships also.
Chandragupta II controlled the complete Indian subcontinent;the Gupta empire was the most powerful empire in the world at that time, at a time when the Roman Empire in the West of India was in decline.
ACHIEVMENTS AND LEGACY
Scholars of this golden period include Varahamihira and Aryabhata, who were believed to be the first to come up with the concept of zero (0). The scholar postulated the theory that the Earth moves round the Sun, and studied solar eclipse and lunar eclipses.
Kalidasa, who was a great playwright, who wrote drama such as Shakuntala, and marked the highest peak of Sanskrit literature is also said to have belonged to this period. Kalidasa is called as father of Sanskrit.
The Sushruta Samhita, which is a Sanskrit redaction text book on all of the major concepts like ayurvedic medicine with innovative chapters on surgery, dates to the Gupta Dynasty period.
Chess is said to have originated in this golden period of dynasty. The Indian numerals which were the 1st positional base 10 numeral or decimal number systems in the world originated from the Gupta India.
The ancient Gupta text Kama Sutra or education on sex written by the Indian scholar Vatsyayana is widely considered to be the standard work on human sexual behavior and sex Position in Sanskrit literature.
Aryabhata, a famous mathematician, astronomer of the Gupta period proposed that the earth is round shape and rotates about its own axis. He also discovered that the Moon and planets shine by reflected light of sun.
ART AND ARCHITECTURE OF GUPTA EMPIRE
ART AND ARCHITECTURE
The Gupta period is generally regarded as a classic period of North Indian art for all the major religious groups in India. Although painting culture was evidently widespread, the surviving works are almost all religious sculpture.
The Gupta period saw the emergence of the iconic carved stone deity in Hindu art, as well as the carved portrait of Buddha figure and Jain tirthankarafigures, the latter often on a very large scale in caves.
The two great centres of sculpture were in placees of Mathura and Gandhara. the latter the centre of Greco-Buddhist art. Both exported sculpture to other parts of northern India also.
The most famous and noted remaining monuments in a broadly Gupta style, the caves at Ajanta, Elephanta, and Ellora these were in fact produced under later dynasties, but primarily they reflect the monumentality and balance of Guptan style.
Earlier developments in field of plastic arts seem to have culminated in the Gupta sculpture. The most important contribution of Gupta sculpture is of the evolution of the perfect types of divinities, both from Buddhist and Brahmanical.
A large number of Image of Buddha have been unearthed at Sarnath place, and one of them is justly regarded as the finest in the whole of India. Stone and bronze images of Gautam Buddha have also been found at Mathura and other places of India.
The images of god Shiva, God Vishnu and other Brahmanical gods are sculptured in some of the finest panels of the Deogarh temple (presently Jhansi district).
The art of casting metals reached a high degree of development. Fa-Hien first traveler to India from China saw an over 25 metre high image of the Buddha made of copper, but it is not traceable now. The Bronze Buddha statue found at Sultanganj, is 71/2 feet high and is a fine piece of sculpture in Gupta Period. The Iron Pillar of Delhi, near the Qutub-Minar, is a excellent work belonging to the early Gupta period.
Sanskrit language and literature of Sanskrit after centuries of evolution, through lavish royal patronage reached to the level of classical excellence in India. Sanskrit was the court language of the Gupta Dynasty.
1. The Puranas had existed much earlier the time of the Guptas in the form of bardic literature; in the Gupta time they were finally compiled and given their present form to Puranas.
The Gupta period also saw the compilation of various books, Smritis or the law-books written in verse. The Smritis of Yajnavalkya, Narada, Katyayana and Brihaspati were written during this Guptan period.
The two great epics in Hindu religion namely the Ramayana and the Mahabharata were almost completed by the around 4th century A.D.
The Gupta period is very remarkable for the production of secular literature. Among the known Sanskrit poets of the period, the greatest name is that of person Kalidasa who lived in the court of Chandragupta II.
Kalidasa is the father of Sanskrit. The most important works of Kalidasa were the Abhijnanashakuntalam (considered to be one of the best hundred literary works in the world) Ritusamhara, Malavikagnimitra, Kumarasambhava, Meghaduta, Raghuvamsha and Vikrama Urvashiyam.
Shudraka wrote the drama that is Mrichcbhakatika or the little Clay cart. Vishakadatta is the author of the famous Mudrarakshasa, which deals with the schemes of the shrewdness of Chanakya.
The Gupta period also saw the development of Sanskrit language and grammar based on Panini and Patanjali.
This period is particularly so memorable for the compilation of the Amarakosha by Amarasimha, who was a shining in the court of Chandragupta II.
Buddhist and Jaina literature of religion in Sanskrit were also written during the Gupta period Buddhist by scholars Arya Deva, Arya Asanga and Vasubandhu of the Gupta period were the most notable writers.
Crafts production covered a wide range of items in it. Texts like Amarakosha of Amarasimha and Brihat Samhita which are generally dated to this period best. List many items, give their Sanskrit names and also mention different categories of craftsmen or artist who manufactured them by their hand.
Many important sites or places like Taxila, Ahichchhatra, Mathura, Rajghat, Kausambi and Pataliputra have yielded many handicraft products like earthen wares, terracottas, beads made of different stones, objects of glass, items made of metals, etc are fabulous work shows.
Different kinds of silk, cloth, called Kshauma and Pattavastra are mentioned in the text in cultural things of this period.
Contemporary literature of that time also testifies to the wide use of jewellery by the people of that time. A significant development of the period in metal technology was the manufacture of seals and statues, particularly of the Buddha era.
Ivory work remained at a premium part, as did stone cutting and carving and sculpture being very much in favour at this time. The cutting, polishing and preparing of a variety of precious stones shape – jasper, agate, carnelian, quartz, lapis – lazuli, etc., were also associated with foreign international trade.
Pottery was remained a basic part of industrial production, though the elegant black – polished ware was no longer used, instead an ordinary red ware with a brownish slip was produced in large quantities.
SCIENCE AN TECHNOLOGY
Aryabhata, is known as first astronomer to pose the more fundamental problems of astronomy in A.D. 499. It was his largely efforts that astronomy was recognized as a separate discipline or part from mathematics. He calculated value of pi 3.1416 and the length of the solar year to 365.3586805 days, both remarkably close to recent Gregarian Calendar estimates.
He believed that the earth was sphere in shape and rotated on its axis, and that the shadow of the earth falling on the moon which caused eclipses. He is also the author of Aryabhattiyam book, which deals with subject like algebra, arithmetics and geometry.
Varahamihira, who lived towards at the end of the fifth century wrote several treatises on astronomy and horoscopy. His Panchasiddhantika deals with five schools of astronomy and two of these reflect a close knowledge of Greek astonomy too.
So it was in depth article on Gupta Dynasty period or Empire. It was about literature, art, science and history of Gupta Dynasty