Top Careers & You™ Indian History The Gupta Age 1 _________________________________________________________________________________ any exam easily with TCY Analytics at TCYonline.com THE GUPTA AGE Ashoka’s death left a vacuum in India for the next 600 years, during which, several foreign tribes overranIndia. With the ascent of the Gupta power, the northern States were merged into a single empire. Thisnational revival yielded an excellent administration and trade, all-round development with prevailing order andpeace. The tax-burden was low compared to the Mauryan rule and the State provided for safe roads for trade.The period saw the revival of religion, Sanskrit literature, art and architecture too.The Gupta period has been described as the Golden Age of Indian history . The main centres of Guptaactivity were Magadha (Pataliputra), Prayag (Allahabad), Ujjain (M.P. considered as their second capital),Saket (Ayodhya, U.P.), and Sarnath (Benaras, Varanasi, U.P.). Sri Gupta and his son Ghatotkacha Gupta were the first definite rulers of this dynasty, who also used the term‘Maharaja’. Chandragupta-I: The first famous king of the Gupta dynasty was Ghatotkacha's son Chandragupta I. He married Kumaradevi , the daughter of the chief of the Licchavis . This marriage was a turning point in the lifeof Chandragupta I. He got Pataliputra in dowry from the Lichhavis. From Pataliputra, he laid the foundation ofhis empire and started conquering many neighbouring states with the help of the Licchavis. He ruled overMagadha (Bihar), Prayaga and Saketa (east Uttar Pradesh). His kingdom extended from the river Ganges toAllahabad. Chandragupta I also got the title of Maharajadhiraja (King of Kings) and ruled for about fifteenyears. Top Careers & You™ Indian History The Gupta Age 2 _________________________________________________________________________________ any exam easily with TCY Analytics at TCYonline.com Samudragupta: Succeeded his father in 335 AD, and ruled for about 45 years, till his death in 380 AD. Hetook the kingdoms of Ahichchhatra and Padmavati early in his reign. He then attacked the Malwas, theYaudheyas, the Arjunayanas, the Maduras and the Abhiras, all of which were tribes in the area. By his deathin 380 AD, he had incorporated over twenty kingdoms into his realm and his rule extended from theHimalayas to the river Narmada and from the Brahmaputra to the Yamuna. He gave himself the titles King of Kings and World Monarch . Historian Vincent Smith described him as the [ Indian Napoleon ]. Heperformed Ashwamedha yajna (horse sacrifice) to underline the importance of his conquest. The stone replicaof the sacrificial horse, then prepared, is in the Lucknow Museum. The Samudragupta Prashasti inscribed onthe Ashokan Pillar, now in Akbar’s Fort at Allahabad, is an authentic record of his exploits and his sway overmost of the continent. Samudragupta depicted on his coins Samudragupta was not only a talented military leader but also a great patron of art and literature. Theimportant scholars present in his court were Harishena, Vasubandhu and Asanga . He was a poet andmusician himself. He was a firm believer in Hinduism and is known to have worshipped Lord Vishnu. He wasconsiderate of other religions and allowed Sri Lanka's Buddhist king Sirimeghvanna to build a monastery atBodh Gaya. That monastery was called by Huen Tsang as the Mahabodhi Sangharama. Chandragupta- II: Chandra Gupta II, Vikramaditya (the Sun of Power), ruled from 380 AD until 413 AD.Chandra Gupta II also married to a Kadamba princess of Kuntala region and a princess of Naga lineage(N ā gakulotpannn ā ), Kuberanaga. His daughter Prabhavatigupta from this Naga queen was married toRudrasena II, the Vakataka ruler of Deccan. His son Kumaragupta I was married to Kadamba princess ofKarnatka region. Emperor Chandra Gupta II expanded his realm westwards, defeating the Saka WesternKshatrapas of Malwa, Gujarat and Saurashtra in a campaign lasting until 409 AD. This extended his controlfrom coast-to-coast, estabilshed a second capital at Ujjain and was the high point of the empire.Despite the creation of the empire through war, the reign is remembered for its very influential style of Hinduart, literature, culture and science, especially during the reign of Chandra Gupta II. Some excellent works ofHindu art such as the panels at the Dashavatara Temple in Deogarh serve to illustrate the magnificence ofGupta art. Above all it was the synthesis of elements that gave Gupta art its distinctive flavour. During thisperiod, the Guptas were supportive of thriving Buddhist and Jain cultures as well, and for this reason there isalso a long history of non-Hindu Gupta period art. In particular, Gupta period Buddhist art was to be influentialin most of East and Southeast Asia. Much of advances was recorded by the Chinese scholar and travellerFaxian (Fa-hien) in his diary and published afterwards. Top Careers & You™ Indian History The Gupta Age 3 _________________________________________________________________________________ any exam easily with TCY Analytics at TCYonline.com Dashavatara Temple in Deogarh The court of Chandragupta II was made even more illustrious by the fact that it was graced by the Navaratna (Nine Jewels), a group of nine who excelled in the literary arts. Amongst these men was the immortal Kalidasa whose works dwarfed the works of many other literary geniuses, not only in his own age but in theages to come. Kalidasa was particularly known for his fine exploitation of the shringara (romantic) element inhis verse. Chandra Gupta II's campaigns against Foreign Tribes 4th century AD Sanskrit poet Kalidasa credits Chandragupta Vikramaditya with having conquered abouttwenty one kingdoms, both in and outside India. After finishing his campaign in the East and West India,Vikramaditya (Chandra Gupta II) proceeded northwards, subjugated the Parasikas (Persians), then the Hunasand the Kambojas tribes located in the west and east Oxus valleys respectively. Thereafter, the kingproceeded across the Himalaya and decimated the Kinnaras, Kiratas etc. and merged their lands into Indiaproper. Kumaragupta I (Mahendraditya) was the ruler of the Gupta Empire from 415-455 CE. Like his father andpredecessor, Chandragupta II, Kumaragupta was an able ruler. He retained, intact, the vast empire, whichextended from North Bengal to Kathiawar and from the Himalayas to the Narmada. He ruled efficiently fornearly forty years. However, the last days of his reign were not good. The Gupta Empire was threatened bythe rebellion of Pushyamitras of central India and invasion of the white huns. However, Kumaragupta wassuccessful in defeating both threats and performed Ashvamedha Yajna (horse sacrifice) to celebrate hisvictory. He issued new coins with images of Lord Kartikeya .After Kumargupta I, Skandagupta succeeded the Gupta Dynasty. When Skandagupta took over the GuptaEmpire, he faced formidable enemies, the Huns. He successfully repelled their early invasions and proved tobe able king and administrator in time of crisis. In spite of heroic efforts of Skandagupta, Gupta Empire did notsurvive long the shock it received from invasion of the Huns and internal uprising of Pushyamitras. Top Careers & You™ Indian History The Gupta Age 4 _________________________________________________________________________________ any exam easily with TCY Analytics at TCYonline.com Decline of Gupta Dynasty: The decline of the Gupta power in northern India between the close of 5 th and the 6 th century A.D. gave rise tovarious small independent kingdoms and attracted foreign invasions of Huns. Toramana was the leader of theHuns and was successful in annexing large parts of the Gupta Empire. His son, Mihirakula was a cruelbarbarian and one of the worst tyrants known. Two native powerful princes, Yasodharman of Malwa andBaladitya of Magadha crushed his power and put an end to his reign in India. Art under Gupta Dynasty: Literature and intellectual progress also manifested unparalleled progress. Sanskrit was honoured as theState language.Some important scholars/works of the period are:(a) Vishnu sharma – wrote Panchatantra, a collection of moral stories.(b) Harisena – author of Prayag (Allahabad) prasasti (inscription)—gives account of Samudragupta’scampaigns.(c) Vishakhadutta – wrote Mudra Rakshas (on Mauryas and Nandas) and Devichandragupta (onChandragupta-II and Dhruva Devi).(d) Shudraka – wrote Mricchakatika (a drama on a Brahmin merchant Charudutt and a courtesanVasantsena, portrays city life).(e) Bharavi – epic poem Kirtarjuneya (Arjuna and the disguised hunter Shiva).(f) Dandin – Dasakumaracharita (stories of 10 princes).(g) Subandhu – Vasavdatta (story of prince Kandarpketu and princess Vasavdatta).(h) Banabhatta – a later date writer—wrote Harshacharita and Kadambari — he was court poet of HarshaVardhana.(i) Amarsimha – a lexicographer—he wrote Amarakosa, he listed various metals and alloys.(j) Kamandaka – Nitisara (on Chandragupta-I’s polity and administration) — is parallel to Kautilya’sArthasastra.(k) Puranas – religious literature was made more appealing. Puranas were finally written down.(l) Kalidasa – greatest literary scholar—wrote the dramas Abhijnanasakuntalam (Shakuntala),Vikramorvasiya, Malvikagnimitra; The epics Raghuvamsa and Kumara Sambhava; The poetriesMeghaduta and Ritusamhara.Nalanda (Rajagriha, Bihar) was founded by Kumaragupta (A.D. 450) and was famous for its tests. There wasfree education. It had 10,000 students, 1,500 teachers and 300 classrooms, and a big three-storey library. Huen Tsang who came later, during Harsha , studied here for five years. Itsing ( A.D. 675) records adonation by Sri Gupta , for the University.Guptas started using bricks for temples (E.g. Bhitargaon temple, Kanpur). The Dasavatara temple, dedicatedto Vishnu, at Deogarh, Jhansi shows a transitory State from flat roof temples to the shikhara style.In sculpture, purely indigenous patterns were adopted—instead of the Kushana period Buddha with shavenhead, we have the Buddha with curly hair now, and transparent drapery was used along with various mudras(postures). The main centres were Sarnath (Benaras), Mathura, Pataliputra (Patna).