THE HISTORY OF GUPTA PERIOD [300 CE- 600 CE]

THE HISTORY OF GUPTA PERIOD [300 CE- 600 CE]

  • The Gupta Rule for witnessing all round progress i.e., in spheres of art, architecture, literature, science and technology, metallurgy and philosophy, regarded as Golden Age of Ancient India.
  • Stable polity, profitable trade, secured and peaceful social set up provided the required conducive environment for development of North India.
  • Sri Gupta was the first ruler of the dynasty followed by his son
  • Bhitari pillar inscription dates to his reign gives the chronology of Guptas and his conflict with Pushyamitra and Huns.
RULER RELATED INFORMATION
 

 

 

CHANDRAGUPTA-I

(319 CE – 330/335 CE)

 

  •         First important ruler was Chandragupta-I (319 CE – 330/335 CE) who is considered actual founder of the dynasty.
  •          He assumed the title of ‘Maharajadhiraj’.
  •         His reign covered regions of South Bihar, Jharkhand and parts of Eastern Uttar Pradesh (Saketa and Prayaga).
  •          His accession in about AD 319-20 marks the beginning of the Gupta Samvat (era).
  •          Chandragupta-I married the Licchavi princess Kumardevi and increased his influence in the North Bihar region (Nepal).
  •          Gold Coins bearing the figures of Kumardevi and Chandragupta 1st known as Kumardevi Coins were issued.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SAMUDRAGUPTA

(335 CE – 375/380 CE)

 

  •         The son of Chandragupta-I, Samudragupta, became the next ruler whose conquests are recorded in Prayaga Prashasti (Eulogy).
  •          These conquests Prayaga Prashasti were composed by Samudragupta’s court poet, a scholar and minister, Harishena in classical Sanskrit.
  •          According to Prayaga Prashasti, Samuddragupta conquered: Eight kings of Aryavarta – (northern India i.e., Ganga Valley);
  •        Samudragupta captured and then liberated and reinstated 12 kings of Dakshinapatha (South India).
  •          A large part of the subcontinent succumbed to the power of Samudragupta and paid tribute.
  •          Samudragupta performed the Ashwamedh Yajna (sacrifice) post these achievements.
  •          He issued Ashwamedh coins, Tiger-slayer coin, Battle-axe coin and Veena-Coin in which he is displayed playing the Veena.
  •          Samudragupta was not only a conqueror but also a great poet, musician and patron of learning.
  •         Samudragupta’s successful conquests has earned him the title of ‘Napoleon of India’.

Allahabad pillar inscriptions called him “Dharma Prachar Bandhu”.

 

CHANDRAGUPTA-II

(380 CE – 414 CE)

 

  •         Coming to the throne, Chandragupta-II defeated the Sakas in western region (Gujarat, Kathiawar and west Malwa), assumed the title ofVikramaditya’ and ruled from Ujjain.
  •          Udaigiri Cave Inscription (Vidisha, MP) and Sanchi inscription inform us about this.
  •          He married Kubernaga of the Naga family and had a daughter by her named Prabhavatigupta.
  •         Prabhavatigupta was married to Vakataka Rudrasen 2nd of Central India, after Rudrasen’s death, Prabhavatigupta ruled as a regent between 390 CE to 410 CE.
  •          Chandragupta-II was the first Gupta ruler to issue silver coins bearing lion figure similar in pattern with Saka coins.
  •         Mehrauli iron pillar inscription (Delhi’s Qurub-minar complex) of Chandragupta-II records that Chandragupta-II defeated Valhikas of Bactria crossing the Saptsindhu.
  •         Kalidasa and Amarsinha lived in his court.
  •         Chinese Buddhist monk Fa-hsien visited his court.
 

 

 

 

KUMARGUPTA I

(414 CE – 455 CE)

 

  •          Karamdanda (Fyzabad) inscription refers to king Kumargupta I as ruler of 4 oceans, Mandsor inscription as ruler of all earth and copper plate inscription of Damodarpur as ‘Maharajadhiraj’.
  •          Bilsad (Etah) inscription also mentions Kumargupta I
  •          Kumargupta I performed Ashwamedha yajna and assumed titles like Ashwamedha-Mahendra and Mahendraditya
  •          Himself a devotee of Shiva, Kumargupta I issued Kartikeya type of coins bearing figure of peacock.
  •         While the threat of the Hunas crossing Hindukush was building up during Kumargupta I, on the whole his reign remained peaceful.
  •          During his reign Nalanda University was established.
 

 

SKANDAGUPTA

(455 CE – 467 CE)

 

  •          Son of Kumargupta I, Skandgupta, during his lifetime bravely fought and defeated Hunas on the North-Western frontier.
  •          His conquest over Pushyamitra is marked in Bhitari Pillar inscription.
  •        Got the Sudarshan Lake repaired (Junagadh inscription).
  •        Skandagupta’s death in 467 CE was followed by incompetent successors who could not keep the empire intact.
 

 

 

DECLINE

  •          Feudal lords (recipients of the land grants) stared asserting themselves and started setting up their own dynasties.
  •         Decentralized bureaucracy and absence of large, permanent and professional army were important factors of decline.
  •          Decline of foreign trade, invasions of Huna, weak successors contributed to their decline
  •         Vishnugupta (540 CE- 550 CE) was the last recognized Gupta ruler.

 

SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONDITION DURING GUPTA PERIOD

 

 

 

ADMINISTRATION

  •         King was assisted by council of minister.
  •          Bhukti (province) and Vishaya (province division) were administrative units headed by Uparika and Vishayapati respectively.
  •         Vishaya was further divided into Vithi & village was the smallest unit.
  •          Bureaucracy was not elaborated as that of Maurya.
  •          Important Offices:
  •   Mahanandanayaka – Justice Delivery
  •   Mahapratihara – Chief of the Guards
  •   Dutakas– Associated with Gifts and Grants
  •   SandhiVigrahika– Minister of Peace and War
  •   Pilupati -Headed Elephants
  •   Asvapati -Headed Horses
  •   Narapti– Headed Foot Soldiers
  •   Ranabhandagrika– In charge of stores
  •   Akshapataladhikrita– Superintendent of Records and Accounts.
 

 

 

 

 

ECONOMY

  •         Agriculture, trade, commerce and art and crafts all flourished under Guptas.
  •         The King’s administration facilitated irrigation, ensured measurement and categorization of land into cultivated (Kshetra) and un-cultivated (Khila/ Aprahata) lands.
  •          Landowner class (mahattars, Gramika and Kutumbika) became influential as land was a prestigious property to be sold or gifted.
  •          Craftsmen produced both utility and luxury items; particular craftsmanship became the basis ‘jaati’-formation i.e., caste.
  •          Shreni continued to govern the trader’s affairs.
  •         Common people traded in cowrie shells.
  •          Issued less pure gold coins than Kushana.
 

 

 

 

 

 

SOCIETY AND RELIGION

 

  •          Society became clearly feudalistic, Brahmins (Brahmadiyas & Agraharas)and feudal chiefs received land grants.
  •          Position of women and Shudras improved Both were allowed listen the Ramayana & Mahabharata & advised to worship Krishna.
  •          Bhanugupta’s Airana (Eran) inscription gives the first evidence of Sati and Child marriage too existed.
  •         Fahien records almost absence of crime and death penalty.
  •          Vishti was forced labour to serve royal army & officials.
  •     Chandalas were the outcaste i.e., out of the 4-fold varna system and made to reside outside village settlements.
  •         Different religious sects co-existed peacefully.
  •          Vaishnavite or Shaivite Kings got temples constructed for their respective deity.
  •         Religious texts like Puaranas, Mahabharata and Ramayana were expanded in this period.
  •          Bhagvatism centered around Vishnu emerged.
 

 

 

 

ART AND ARCHITECTURE

 

  •          Continud growth of the Ajanta School (Theme: Buddha’s life) was accompanied by emergence of Bagh School near Hoshangabad in Madhya Pradesh. In this cave-walls were decorated (painted) in local themes i.e., it related to common people.
  •         Sculpture– making made considerable growth with evidences of various stone images.
  •         Metal and stone images of Buddha (bronze, Bhagalpur), Shiva and Vishnu are reported from a number of places.
  •          Images of God appeared first time.
  •          Stupa and cave construction reduced and temple construction (Shikhara) picked up:
  •  Dashavatar Temple, Jhansi, U.P.
  •  Bhitargav Temple (Brick) Kanpur, U.P.
  •   Parvati Temple, Nachnakuthara, M.P.
  •  Vishnu Temple, Jabalpur, M.P.
  • Bagh cave Paintings belongs to this period.

 

LITERATURE DURING GUPTA PERIOD
  • Development of literature in Gupta period was diverse as it covered from poetry and play, art (dance and music), philosophy, religion to science, mathematics, physiology, astronomy etc.
  • There were Navaratnas, or Nine Gems in the court of Chandragupta II who were experts of particular fields. These were: Amarsimha, Dhanvantri, Harisena, Kalidasa, Kahapanaka, Sanku, Varahamihira, Vararuchi, Vetalbhatta.
  • Dharmashashtras, Narad Smriti, Vishnu Smriti, Brihaspati Smriti and portion of Ramayana and Mahabharata, Bhasa’s 12 plays were also written in this period.
  • Most of the literature is developed using ornate Sanskrit language.

 

AUTHOR WORK
 

 

 

Kalidasa

 

  •          Abhijnanshakuntalam
  •          Vikramorvasiyam
  •         Malavikagnimitra
  •          Kumārasambhava
  •          Raghuvansham
  •         Meghadootam
  •          Ritusamhara
  •          Jyotirvidabharana
Kamandaka
  •         Nitisara
Vishakhadatta
  •          Mudrarakshas
  •          Devichandraguptam
Gunadhya
  •        Brihatkatha
Sudraka
  •         Mrichhakatikam
Varahamihir
  •          Panchasiddhantika (5 books, Brihatsamhita most notable)
Susrut
  •         Susrutsamhita on surgery
Vagabhata
  •          Ashtanghridaya
Dhanavantari
  •          Ayurveda
Amar Singh
  •         Amarkosh
Aryabhatt
  •          Aryabhattiyam, Suryasidhanta
Brahmagupta
  •         Brahmasphutasiddhanta
Bhasa
  •          Svapanavasaydattam