Gupta Empire

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  • After Mauryas, India was controlled by regional kingdoms

  • The Gupta state rose to power in Magadha

  • Chandra Gupta founded the new dynasty

  • Gupta dynasty was relatively decentralized

  • Officially supported revival of Hinduism as state faith

  • Era seen as the Golden Age of Hinduism.

  • Gupta Period:

    Guptas and Corresponding Years
    Table dipcting the years of existence of Guptas'

    Sri Gupta

    (240–280 CE)


    (280–319 CE)

    Chandragupta I

    (320–335 CE)


    (335–375 CE)


    Chandragupta II

    (380–413/415 CE)

    Kumaragupta I

    (415–455 CE)


    (455–467 CE)

Sri Gupta (240 – 280 CE)

  • Sri Gupta was a pre-imperial Gupta king in northern India and the founder of the Gupta dynasty.

  • A portion of northern or central Bengal might have been the home of Guptas at that time; however, little evidence is available.

  • Who ruled North Bengal and South Bihar founded the Gupta Empire Ghatotkacha succeeded.

Ghatotkacha (280 – 319 CE)

  • Ghatotkacha was a pre-imperial Gupta king in northern India, the son of Maharaja Sri Gupta, who started the Gupta dynasty.

  • His reign is considered insignificant and he is best known as the father of Chandragupta I, the first Gupta emperor.

Chandragupta I (319-334 AD)

  • Assumed the title Maha-raja-dhiraja.

  • Son of Ghatotkacha

  • Kaumudi-Mahotsava gives information about him.

  • Issued Gold coins

  • Started Gupta Era on 26th February 320 AD

  • He married a Lichchhavi princess named Kumardevi and her portrait engraved on his coins; according to Manu Samhita, Lichchhavis were degraded Kshatriyas or Vratya-Kshatriya.

  • In fact, Guptas was Vaisyas: matrimonial alliance with Kshatriyas enhanced their position.

Samundragupta: 335 - 380 AD

  1. Allahabad inscription originally erected by Asoka gives us invaluable information about his campaigns

  2. Harisena's Prasasthi

  3. Also mentioned by Japanese work

  4. Arya-Manju-Sri Mula Kalpa

  5. Tantrikamandaka

  6. Contemporary epigraph found at Eran

  7. Malvas, Yaudheyas, Arju-nayanas, Madras, Abhiras were subjugated descendants of Kusanas (so of He-aven)

Map depicting empire of Samundragupta

The Empire of Samundragupta

Map depicting empire of Samundragupta

Major Wars:

(1) Southern Expedition:

  • Mahendra of Kosala (Durg, Raipur, Bilaspur, Sambalpur District)

  • Vyaghraraja of Maha-kantara (probably forest regions, Jeysore State, Orissa)

  • Mahendragiri of Pishta-pura (Pithapuram in Goda-vari District)

  • Hastivarman of Vengi (Ellore)

  • Ugrasena of Palakka (Nellore District)

  • Vishnugopa of Kanchi

  • Kings Damana of Eranda-palla

  • Kuvera of Devarashtra (Vizagapatnam)

  • Mantaraja of Kurala,

  • Swamidatta of Kottura

  • Nilaraja of Avamukta

  • Dhananjaya of Kusfhalapura

(2) Northern Expedition:

  • Uprooted Achyuta of Abhichchhatra

  • Nagasena of Padmavati

  • Gangapatinga of Mathura

  • Chandravarman of Western Bengal (Bankura District)

  • Tribute payers: Davaka, Kartripura (Kartarpur), Katuria Raj of Kumaon,

  • Garhwal and Rohilkhand. Daivaputra Shahanushahi, the Sakas, the ruler of

  • Ceylon;

(3) Feudatories:

  • Malavas (Eastern Raj-putana, Mewar)

  • Arjunayanas (Jaipur)

  • Yaudheyas (Johiyabar)

  • Madrakas (Punjab)

  • Sanakanikas (Bhilsa)

  • Abhiras (Ahirawara)

  • Prarjunas

  • Kakas

  • Kharaparikas

(4) Political Relations with Ceylon:

  • According to Chinese text Meghavarna of Ceylon (A.D 352-379) sent two monks to

  • Bodhgaya to visit the sacred spots; Samundragupta gave permission to build a monastery to the north of the Bodhi tree.

(5) Nature of Dominion:

  • paid homage

  • enjoyed internal autonomy

(7) Direct Administration:

  • Extending roughly from the Brahmaputra to the Chambal;

  • Saka and Kusanas: Punjab and Gujarat though independent but became submissive.

(8) Suzerainty over 12 States:

  • Beyond Vmdhyas in the Deccan and the South India.

  • Meghavarman, according to Wang Huien Tse (Chinese), the ruler of Sri Lanka sent a missionary to Samundra Gupta for permission to build a Buddhist temple at Gaya;

(9) Personality of Samudragupta:

  • According to Allahabad Prasashtri Samundra Gupta was the 'hero of 100 baffles' and V A. Smith called him 'Napoleon of India' .Some of his coins represent him as playing on lyre;

  • He performed asvamedha sacrifice.

  • He appointed great Buddhist scholar Vasubandhu as minister.

  • He assumed title Vikrama-ditya.

Ramagupta: 380-380

  • Ramagupta succeeded in 380was the elder son and immediate successor of Samudragupta and succeeded by his younger brother Chandragupta II. Initially, he was known from the traditional narratives only.

  • But later, three inscriptions on Jaina tirthankara images were discovered from Durjanpur near Vidisha, which mention him as the Maharajadhiraja.

  • He married his brother's fiancée by force and was going to hand her over to Rudrasimha 4 after suffering a defeat by his hands.

  • Chandragupta II went in Dhruvaswamini's place and killed Rudrasimha 4 and later killed Ramagupta

  • A large number of his copper coins also have been discovered from Eran-Vidisha region.

Chandragupta II: 380 - 413

  • Titles: Parambhagvata, he was a vaishnava.

  • Son of Samundragupta and his wife Daftadevi.

  • Defeated Saka Rudrasimha III

  • Expedition to Bengal

  • Shifted capital to Ujjain

  • Married Kubernaga of Naga family

  • Kakutsthavarman, ruler of Kuntala region gave his daughters.

  • Married his daughter Prabhavati to Rudrasena II of Vakataka and made indirect control and controlled beyond the Vakatakas

  • Three important source: Virasena, his minister of peace and war, at Udayagiri; Sanakanika Maharaja, and Amarakadeva, the general, at Sanchi.

  • His predecessors issued only Gold coins. Chandra Gupta II issued silver and copper coins; the gold coins were called Dinara. The usual Chaitya was replaced by Garuda, Rupakriti type of coins.

  • Adopted title Vikram-aditya; Simhavikrama

  • Fa Hsien visited (399 -414)

  • 9 Gems (Ratna ) in his darbar:

  1. Mallinatha,

  2. Dignagacarya

  3. Kalidasa,

  4. Amarasimha

  5. Devichandra Guptam of Vishakdatta

  6. Virasena Saba - Minister

  7. Amarkarddava - General

  8. Lord of city of Ujjain and

  9. Pataliputra

Kumaragupta I: 415-454 AD

  • Performed asvamedha sacrifices

  • Son of Dhruvadevi.

  • Assumed title Mahendr-aditya.

  • He gave great importance to God Karttikeya.

  • Converted to Buddhism.

  • Founded Nalanda University!

  • Pusyamitra of Makela, a powerful noble reduced the sovereignty.

  • He saved from the Huns invasion

  • He issued maximum number of inscriptions.

Skandagupta: 454 - 467 AD

  • Faced internal dissension.

  • Kathasaritsagara narrates about him.

  • Defeated Huns, known as Ephthalites, attack assumed the title Vikramaditya.

  • An inscription, incised on the Girnar Hill near Junagarh in Kathiawar, refers to the great achievement of the Governor Parnadatta and his son Chakrapalita; built and repaired Sudarsana Lake.


  • Kingship hereditary; but absence of primogeniture;

  • Invariably projected as Vishnu;

  • Council of Ministers Sandhivigrahika: Foreign affairs

  • Akshapataladhikrit: In charge of records Amatyas: Called the Kumaramatyas one special class has this designation Sachiv was often hereditary Mahadandriayaka - military

Provincial Administration:

  • Bhuktis - Uparika (officer)

  • Vishayas - Vishayapati

Urban Administration:

  • Guild corporate body

  • Also separate guild, e.g. at Mandasor in Malwa.

  • Silk weaves at Indore.

  • Bulandshahar - oil pressures;

Social Development:

  1. Law book Narada informs us: the supremacy of Brahmanas.

  2. Proliferation of castes

    1. Foreigners had been assimilated into Indian society, e.g., as one of the 36 clans of the Rajputs;

    2. Absorption of many tribal peoples into brahmanical society by the way of land grant;

  3. Naigama: a group of inhabitants of the same town; Puga:agroup of merchants;

  4. Condition of women:

    1. meliorated a women could listen Puranas and epics

    2. Became agriculturalist earlier and appeared as servants, slaves

    3. Pre-puberty marriage.

    4. Celibacy was to be strictly observed by widows

    5. Sati gained approval. First mentioned in a memorial of Sati in Eran (MP) 510 AD.

Dynasty of Imperial Guptas starting from Srigupta

Dynasty of Imperial Guptas

Dynasty of Imperial Guptas starting from Srigupta

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