Chandra Gupta I, was the founder of the imperial Guptaï¿½dynasty. He was the grandson of Sri Gupta, the first knownï¿½ruler of the Gupta line. Chandra Gupta I became a local chiefï¿½in the kingdom of Magadha. He increased his territory andï¿½power by marrying Princess Kumaradevi of the Licchavi tribe,ï¿½which then controlled north Bihar and perhaps Nepal. Towardï¿½the close of the 3rd century A.D., India consisted of a numberï¿½of independent states, both monarchical and nonmonarchical.ï¿½This union by marriage enhanced the power and prestige of theï¿½new kingdom. Special gold coins depicted the king and queen onï¿½one side and the Licchavis on the other. The chronology of theï¿½Gupta era dated from 320 B.C. and was used for several centuries.
By the conclusion of his reign, his kingdom extendedï¿½west to the present-day Allahabad and included Ayodhyaï¿½and southern Bihar. These regions have been described as hisï¿½kingdom by the Puranas (ancient chronicles of early Sanskritï¿½literature). His dominions were sufficiently large to justify hisï¿½assumption of the imperial title, maharajadhiraja (“king of kings”),ï¿½and to enable his son Samudra Gupta to begin the conquest thatï¿½led to the founding of the Gupta empire.
Samudra Gupta is generally considered the epitome of an “idealï¿½king” of the “golden age of Indian history,” as the period of theï¿½Guptas has often been called. He is pictured as a strong warrior,ï¿½a poet, and a musician.
After ensuring peace in his kingdom he began a seriesï¿½of wars of expansion from his northern base near presentï¿½day Delhi. In the southern Pallava kingdom he defeated Kingï¿½Vishnugopa, then restored him and other defeated southernï¿½kings to their thrones on payment of tribute. Several northernï¿½kings, however, were defeated, and their territories added toï¿½the Gupta empire. At the height of Samudra Gupta’s power, heï¿½controlled nearly all of Ganges valley and received homage fromï¿½rulers of parts of east Bengal, Assam, Nepal, the eastern part ofï¿½the Punjab, and various tribes of Rajasthan.
From inscriptions on gold coins and on the Ashoka pillarï¿½in the fort at Allahabad, Samudra Gupta is shown to have beenï¿½especially devoted to the Hindu god Vishnu. He revived theï¿½ancient Vedic Ashwamedha Yajia. A special gold coin that heï¿½issued commemorated this ceremony, while another showedï¿½him playing the harp; all were of coins high gold content andï¿½excellent workmanship.
Samudragupta’s successor Chandragupta-II was able toï¿½extend the frontiers of the Gupta empire to western, northwestern and eastern India. An important incident which tookï¿½place during this period was the visit of Fa-Hien, the Chineseï¿½pilgrim, who came to India in search of Buddhist texts. In hisï¿½writings he provided vivid descriptions of the places he visitedï¿½and of certain social and administrative aspects related toï¿½them, although he does not mention the name of the king inï¿½his accounts. But he spoke highly of the King of Madhyadesa,ï¿½the region which was directly ruled by the Guptas in thisï¿½period, under whom the people were prosperous and happy.ï¿½Chandragupta-II is also known for his patronage to men ofï¿½letters.
Sources of Information
In the absence of proper text on administration, the sourcesï¿½used for reconstruction of the Gupta period include theï¿½archaeological evidence along with Smritis, (Narada, Brhaspatiï¿½and Katyayana in particular), works on the technical aspects ofï¿½policy as the Nitisara of Kamandaka, the first phase of the Puranasï¿½such as Vaya, Brahmanda and Vishnu and other miscellaneousï¿½writings inclusive of the contemporary Sanskrit literature,ï¿½works of Buddhist philosophy and so on. Though not exhaustiveï¿½these texts provide us with some understanding of the Guptaï¿½administration.
Written by princy