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Gupta Dynasty In India

Ajanta Cave of The Gupta Dynasty Period

  • The Gupta Dynasty was an ancient Indian dynasty, established by Maharaja Sri Gupta and covered a great deal of the Indian Subcontinent. The prosperity and peace generated by the Guptas encouraged the artistic and scientific endeavors. This period was the Golden Age of India and saw extensive discoveries and inventions in philosophy, religion, astronomy, mathematics, logic, literature, dialectic, art, engineering, technology and science which formed elements of Hindu culture. Chandra Gupta II, Samudra Gupta and Chandra Gupta I were the most remarkable kings of the Gupta dynasty. The Guptas conquered about 21 kingdoms, including the kingdoms of Kiratas, Kambojas and the Hunas etc.
  • Wonderful paintings, sculptures and architecture are the high points of the Gupta era that produced scholars like Vatsyayana, Vishnu Sharma, Varahamihira, Aryabhata and Kalidasa who made advancements in several fields. During the Gupta period political administration and science reached new heights. The region was an important cultural hub due to strong trade ties and was a base which influenced nearby regions and kingdoms in Sri Lanka, Burma, and Southeast Asia.
  • The empire steadily declined due to many factors like the attack from Central Asia and substantial loss of imperial authority as well as territory caused by their former feudatories. During the 6th century, India was once again ruled by many regional kingdoms following the disintegration of the Gupta Empire. During the 1st half of the 7th century, Vardhana ruler Harsha Vardhana founded an empire.

Origin of the Guptas

  • As per numerous historians, the Gupta dynasty was actually a Vaishya dynasty. Ram Sharan Sharma, a historian states that the Vaishya Guptas emerged as a reaction against cruel rulers. A.S. Altekar, an archaeologist and a historian also regarded the Guptas as Vaishya. As per historian Michael C. Brannigan, among the most important breaches of the caste system in old India was the ascendancy of the Gupta Empire.
  • About the original motherland of the Guptas, there are many conflicting theories. As per HC Raychoudhuri, the Varendri was the region from where the Guptas originated. On the other hand DC Ganguly thinks that the Guptas originated from Murshidabad.
  • Fa Hien was the first Chinese pilgrim to visit India during the reign of Chandragupta II. He visited Rajgriha, Kashi, Pataliputra, Vaishali, Kushinagar, Kapilavastu, Kanauj and Mathura. He found out that the Gupta period was a thriving period and crimes were punished by fines only.

Srigupta and Ghatotkacha

  • The most likely period of Sri Gupta is 240–280 and that of Ghatotkacha, his son and successor is 280–319. A large number of modern historians think that Sri Gupta and his son were feudatories of the Kushans. At the start of the 5th century the Guptas founded and ruled some small Hindu territories in Magadha and around Bihar.

Chandragupta I

  • Ghatotkacha ruled from 280 to 319 and his son, Chandragupta ruled from 319 to 335. Chandragupta was wedded to a Lichchhavi princess, Kumaradevi in a deal which involved a dowry of the empire of Magadha as well as a union with the Lichchhavis. By 321, Chandragupta expanded his rule from the Ganges River to Allahabad.

  •  In 335 Samudragupta succeeded his father. He ruled for 45 years, till he died in 380. He added more than 20 kingdoms expanding his rule from the Brahmaputra to the Yamuna and from the Himalayas to the Narmada. He awarded himself the title of Maharajadiraja, which means   King of Kings   . I   n the Lucknow Museum,   there is the stone replica of the horse which was sacrificed with the 1st wife during the performance of Ashwamedha yajna. In Akbar’s Fort the inscription of the Samudragupta Prashasti is a reliable record of his control over much of the continent.
  • Samudragupta wasn’t just a brilliant military chief but also a great supporter of literature and art. Asanga, Vasubandhu and Harishena were the important scholars in his court. He himself was a musician and poet. He was a devoted Hindu and he worshipped Lord Vishnu. He was sympathetic to other religions and let Sirimeghvanna, Sri Lanka's Buddhist king to construct a monastery at Bodh Gaya.

Chandragupta II

  • Chandragupta II was also known as Vikramaditya (the Sun of Power). He was nominated by his father, Samudragupta as his successor. Chandragupta II ruled from 380 to 413. He extended his empire to westwards by capturing Saurashtra, Gujarat and Malwa.
  • He patronized Hindu culture, literature, art and science. A few outstanding works of Hindu art like the panels at the Dashavatara Temple show the majesty of Gupta art. He also supported thriving Jain and Buddhist cultures.
  • His court consisted of the Navaratna (Nine Jewels) who were masters in the literary arts. Immortal Kalidasa was one of these men.