GUPTA EMPIRE

Chandra Gupta I, was the founder of the imperial Gupta�dynasty. He was the grandson of Sri Gupta, the first known�ruler of the Gupta line. Chandra Gupta I became a local chief�in the kingdom of Magadha. He increased his territory and�power by marrying Princess Kumaradevi of the Licchavi tribe,�which then controlled north Bihar and perhaps Nepal. Toward�the close of the 3rd century A.D., India consisted of a number�of independent states, both monarchical and nonmonarchical.�This union by marriage enhanced the power and prestige of the�new kingdom. Special gold coins depicted the king and queen on�one side and the Licchavis on the other. The chronology of the�Gupta era dated from 320 B.C. and was used for several centuries.

By the conclusion of his reign, his kingdom extended�west to the present-day Allahabad and included Ayodhya�and southern Bihar. These regions have been described as his�kingdom by the Puranas (ancient chronicles of early Sanskrit�literature). His dominions were sufficiently large to justify his�assumption of the imperial title, maharajadhiraja (“king of kings”),�and to enable his son Samudra Gupta to begin the conquest that�led to the founding of the Gupta empire.

Samudra Gupta

Samudra Gupta is generally considered the epitome of an “ideal�king” of the “golden age of Indian history,” as the period of the�Guptas has often been called. He is pictured as a strong warrior,�a poet, and a musician.

After ensuring peace in his kingdom he began a series�of wars of expansion from his northern base near present�day Delhi. In the southern Pallava kingdom he defeated King�Vishnugopa, then restored him and other defeated southern�kings to their thrones on payment of tribute. Several northern�kings, however, were defeated, and their territories added to�the Gupta empire. At the height of Samudra Gupta’s power, he�controlled nearly all of Ganges valley and received homage from�rulers of parts of east Bengal, Assam, Nepal, the eastern part of�the Punjab, and various tribes of Rajasthan.

From inscriptions on gold coins and on the Ashoka pillar�in the fort at Allahabad, Samudra Gupta is shown to have been�especially devoted to the Hindu god Vishnu. He revived the�ancient Vedic Ashwamedha Yajia. A special gold coin that he�issued commemorated this ceremony, while another showed�him playing the harp; all were of coins high gold content and�excellent workmanship.

Samudragupta’s successor Chandragupta-II was able to�extend the frontiers of the Gupta empire to western, northwestern and eastern India. An important incident which took�place during this period was the visit of Fa-Hien, the Chinese�pilgrim, who came to India in search of Buddhist texts. In his�writings he provided vivid descriptions of the places he visited�and of certain social and administrative aspects related to�them, although he does not mention the name of the king in�his accounts. But he spoke highly of the King of Madhyadesa,�the region which was directly ruled by the Guptas in this�period, under whom the people were prosperous and happy.�Chandragupta-II is also known for his patronage to men of�letters.

Sources of Information

In the absence of proper text on administration, the sources�used for reconstruction of the Gupta period include the�archaeological evidence along with Smritis, (Narada, Brhaspati�and Katyayana in particular), works on the technical aspects of�policy as the Nitisara of Kamandaka, the first phase of the Puranas�such as Vaya, Brahmanda and Vishnu and other miscellaneous�writings inclusive of the contemporary Sanskrit literature,�works of Buddhist philosophy and so on. Though not exhaustive�these texts provide us with some understanding of the Gupta�administration.

Written by princy

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