Later Guptas In India Study Materials


Later Guptas In India Study Materials

Later Guptas

            Chandragupta II had two queens, Dhruvadevi and Kuberanaga Govindagupta and Kumaragupta I were the two sons of Chandragupta (I from the first queen and a daughter Vakataka was from his second queen. Kumaragupta I ascended the throne after his father Chandragupta II, in AD 414 Although not many details of his reign are ava,ilable, he ruled close to 40 years dunng which he performed the Ashvamedha yajna, which indicates his military Towards the end of his life the Gupta Empire was constant threat of invasion by the Hunas rulers. He died in AD 455. His son, Skandagupta Vikramaditya (AD 455-467)succeeded him. But Skandagupu had to face a political crisis, because of the threat from the other heirs to the throne, during his 12 years of reign. The Gupta Empire became brittle from within because of the political unrest and this opportunity was utilised by the invanding Hunas ruler. Skandagupta is reported to have repulsed with vigour and strength to save the empire. But this temporary set back for the Hunas who invaded again succeeded in the long run. The heavy expenses incurred the wars and civil unrest depreciated the Gupta currency. This coupled with the repehfed Huna attacks became the prime reason for the Elapse of the Gupta Empire. The later Gupta were Puru Gupta. Narasimha Baladityav Kumara Gupta II, Tathagata Gupta or Gupta, Kumara Gupta III and Vishnu Gupta. By the Huna king Toraman and his son Mihiragula because powerful and’controlled central India for some time. By then the descendants of the Gupta Dynasty ruled only apart aPataliputra as several states that were merged with the Gupta Empire had become independent. After Vishnu Gupta the empire collapsed, its fragmented remnants existed here and there, till they too. finally disappeared from the historical map of India by the end of sixth centun ad. After the decline of the Gupta Empire, another line of kings with names ending with ‘Gupta’ rose in the Magadh region. However, there is no evidence of their genealogical relationship with that of the Imperial Guptas. The Vallahha in Gujarat, the Gowda-padas in Bengal and the descendants of Pushyabhuti in Sthaneshwar became independent Simultaneously, another line of Mukhari kings emerged m the northern Ganges plains of Kanauj. Out of the chaos emerged the powerful kingdom of Sthaneshwar. Towards the end of the century, the Maukari dynasty. Mukharis defeated the Guptas and captured the entire of the Magadha region. The Guptas then moved towards the east, where they came underthe influence of King Prabhakaravardhana(Harsha’s father) of Thanesar (Kannauj). The last king in the Maukhari Dynasty. Ghrahavarman, died without heirs and Kanauj passed to his brother-in-law Harsha (whose reign is discussed later). When Harshu’s Empire fell, the Guptas again emerged under King Aditysen(AD 675). but they were finally defeated by another Maukahri King of Kanauj, Yasovarma, in the eighth century.

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Gupta Administration

Much light is thrown on the nature of Chandragupta Vikramaditya’s administration by Fa-hien’s narrative inscriptions that have hitlicrto been discovered. Vikramadityahimself was a devout Vaishnvlie, but had appointed many people from other scots in high posts in his court. His counsellor (mantrin) Shikaravamin and his minister of peace  Saha-Virasena) were Saivitis. His commander-in     -chief, Amarakarddava, was a Buddhist. However, regarding the machinery of administration we do not have many details. But various inscriptions detail the following facts: The king raja, was mostly nominated by his predecessor. The king was regarded as a divinity—Achintya Purusha (or             Incomprehensible Being) and Dhanadaa- Varunendrantaka- sama, which means equal to Kuvera, Varuna. Indra and well as Loka dhama deva (meaning a God dwelling on earth). He is assisted by the Chief Minister. Sachiva or Mantri, who was the chief advisor to the king. The post of Sachiva was also determined by heredity. There was further a central    council of ministers, also called Mantri Parishad, but the        existence of local parishads has also been proved by a Barash seal discovered by ‘Block’. The entire empire was divided, into a number of provinces called desas, bhuktis, etc. which were further sub-divided into districts called pradesas or vishayas. The desas were governed by officers called Goptris and the hukiis were usually governed by Uparikas or Uparika Maharaja. The heads of vishayas were called Vishyapatis. These districts were further divided into mandats, which were again sub-divided into khomas. The village panchayats, which were autonomous bodies, were pivotal in; handling the daily administrative affairs of the village. The Purupala or Nagaragakshaka looked after the administration of towns and cities. But Parishads, the municipal councils or, committees, were also an important element in the machinery of the local government.

Gupta Literature

The most significant achievements of this period, however, were in religion, education, mathematics’ art and Sanskrit literature and drama. The religion that later developed into modem Hinduism witnessed acrystallisation of its components: major sectarian denies, image worship, devotionalism and the importance of the temple. Education included grammar, composition, logic, metaphysics, mathematics, medicine and astronomy. These subjects became highly specialised and reached an advanced level. The numeral system—sometimes erroneously attributed to the Arabs, who took it from India to Europe where it replaced the Roman system—and the decimal system are Indian inventions of this period. Aryabhatta’s expositions on astronomy in ad 499. moreover, gave calculations of the solar year and the shape and movement of astral bodies with remarkable accuracy. In medicine Charaka and Sushruta wrote about a fully evolved system, resembling those of Hippocrates and Galen in Greece. Although progress in physiology and biology was hindered by religious injunctions against contact with dead bodies, which discouraged dissection and anatomy. Indian physicians excelled in pharmacopoeia, caesarean section, bone setting and skin grafting.

            Sanskrit Literature Mahabharata and were given the last touch in this era as it saw the last phase of Smriti literature. Sanskrit was the official language. The Puranas were composed during this era containing information on Hindu sects, rites and customs in the classical Sanskrit language.

            Buddhist literature Buddhist literature Was translated from Pali to Sanskrit. Notable writers include names like Arya Deva, Arya Asanga, Vasubandhu and Dignage. Vasubandhu is known for the first book on logic, a Buddhist work.

Gupta Administration

King— Paramadvaita, Paramabhattataka, Maharajadhiraj, Samrat; Chakravartin

Chief Minister—Sachiva, Mantri

King’s Advisor

Military Officers:


Commander—Elephant corps—Katuka

Chief Treasury War Office—Ranabhandagaradhikorana

Foreign Minister—Sandhivigrahika of Mahasandhivigrahika Superintendent of Central and Provincial Offices—Saravadhyakshas

Commercial Royal Officers— Dutaka (dutas)

Chief of Police—Dandapasadhi karana

Other Police Officers—Chauroddhoraniko (for thieves),

Chatas, Bhatas, Dandaparika, etc.

Provincial Administration Officers— Kumaramatyas and Ayukfas Governor of Province — Uparikas, who governed Bhukh’s (provinces)

Other Officers of Province—Bhogika Gcpta,

Rojasthanicrs, Upanka-maharaja .

Districts of Province and its Mead Officer—Vishayas headed by VishayapaHs

Headquarter of District—Adhishthana District Magistrate—Samvyavahari and Ayuktokas Village Elders—Moharatranas

Chief of Police – Dandopasadh i karana Other Police Officers— Chauroddharanika (for thieves), Chatas, Bhatos, Dandaparika etc.

Provincial Administration Officers — Kumaramatyas and Ayuktas Governor of Province — Upankas, who governed Bhukti’s (provinces)

Other Officers of Province—Bhogika. Gopta, Rajasthanias, Upanko-maharaja

Districts of Province and its Head Officer—Vishayas headed by Vishayapatis

Headquarter of District—Adhishthana

District Magistrate—Samvyovahori and Ayuhakas Village Elders—Maharattanas

Office In-charge of Families Asthakuladhi-hKaranikas in local area (minimum eight families)

Village Headman—Gramikot

Tax Collectors—Utkhetayita

forest and Forts In-charge— Gramika

Brahmin Settlements In-charge—Agriaharika

Land Revenue Head Officer— Dharuvadhikaranika


Village Accountant— Talavataka

Record Keeper and Notary Authority— Pustapata

Customs and Toll Collector— Saulvika

The Advisory District Council mainly constituted of four members

Chief, the Guild President — Nagarasreshthi

The Head Merchant— Sarthavaha

The Head Artisan — Prathamakulika

The Head Scribe—Prathamakayastha

Mayor of the City— Purapala

Important Officers of the Royal Courts — Parthiharas and Mahaparthiharas

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Kumaragupta I

Also called Mahendraditya, Kumaragupta ruled the Gupta Empire during the period AD 414 to 455. The Bilsad inscription is the oldest record of his reign and it cares to Gupta, 96 which corresponds to ad 415. The last known date his reiqn occurs on an inscription on one of his, silver coins, corresponding to AD 445. Towards the end of his reign, a tribe in the Nerbudda valley, the Pushyamitras, rose in power to threaten the empire. Kumaragup’a’s successer Skandagupta defeated this threat but then was faced with invading Huns from, the north-west. The expense of’the wars drained tne regime and Skandagupta is usually considered the last of the great rulers. He died in AD 480 and, was succeeded by his son Narasimhagupta. Much of the empire was over run by the Huns by AD 500. Narasimhagupta was followed by Budahagupta and Purugupta. The last recognised ruler was Vishnugupta, reigning from AD 540 to 550.

Gupta Arfs

During the gupta age, the Nagara and the Dravida styles of Architecture were prominent. Rock-cut caves, with novel ornamentation and designs, were also excavated during this period. The art of painting reached a high level during this era. Gupta artists mostly painted incidents from the life of ‘”Buddha. Notable works are in the caves at Ajanta and Ellora (Maharashtra), Bagh (Madhya Pradesh) and Udayagiri (Orissa). The painting of Mother and Child al Ajanta demonstrates the art of the painters during this era. Originully, most of the 39 caves at Ajanta had paintings, hul now only 6 caves with painting survive. The Ellora cave temples were started during the Gupta period. However, work on them continued during the reigns of the Vakatakas, Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas. Out of the 34 Ellora caves, only 12 caves are Buddhist, while three arc Jain and 15 ait Hindu. They built a large number of high stupas in Sarnath (Uttar Pradesh), Ratnagiri (Orissa) and Mirpur Khan (Sindh). Gupta architecture is also represented by many brick temples in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bengal. Bihar and Assam. The most famous is the temple at Bhitargaon (near Kanpur) with moulded and decorated bricks. Incidents from Hindu mythology are inscribed all over the walls and then pyramidal roof of this temple Another important temple with 40 ft high towers is the Dashavatara temple near Deogarh. Many of the buildings of this era were demolished by the Muslim invaders who came later. Notable stone sculptures of the Guptas include the Buddha at Samath and the great boar (Varaha) at the entrance of the Udayagiri caves; metal sculptures include the Nalanda Buddha, an 18 ft statue in Nalanda, Bihar and the Sultanganj Buddha, a 7 1/2 ft statue in Sultanganj.

Notable Facts About the Gupta Period

  • The reunification of North India under the Imperial Guptas in AD 320 and the regin of Harshavardhana of Kanauj comprised India’s classical age.
  • The Guptas established their base of imperial power in Magadha, where controlled rich veins of iron from the Barabar Hills.
  • The Peak of Gupta power and cultural glory was attained during the regin of Chandragupta II.
  • Numismatic evidence attests to the final defeat of the Shakas by the Guptas after which the Gupta Empire had direct control over thw parts of the Arabian Sea and the riches of Western trade.
  • Kalidasa’a Abhijnana Sakuntalam was a major literary work of this period.
  • During the Gupta era, Hindu, Buddhist and jain faiths received royal support.
  • The gupta era also marked the apogee of cave art and sculpture.
  • Commerce and Buddhism stimulated India intercourse with China and south-east Asia at this time.
  • The Gupta Empire was supported primarily by the land revenue ‘share’ (tax) provided by India’s peasant villages from every harvest.
  • For half a century after the collapse of the Gupta Empire, North India reverted to the political fragmentation before the Guptas.
  • Yoga, one of the six schools of classical Hindu philosophy that emerged in this era, continues to be studied to his day.

The political system of South India should not be thought of as a group of competing, centrally developed bureaucratic state, as was case in the North.

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