The Gupta Dynasty ruled over Ancient India from the middle to the end of the third century (roughly) to 543 AD. The Sri Gupta-founded dynasty gained popularity under the rule of leaders such as Chandragupta-I and Samudragupta, among others. It is a crucial subject for the History curriculum as well as the IAS Exam. You can learn some important information about the Gupta Empire from this article. Additionally, these notes will be beneficial for other competitive exams like banking PO, SSC, state civil service exams, and so forth.
Beginning Of Gupta Empire
The Kushanas and the Satavahanas in the north and south, respectively, rose to prominence as a result of the collapse of the Mauryan empire. In their respective regions, these two empires contributed to political harmony and economic progress. Around 230 CE, the Kushan rule in north India came to an end, and the Murundas thereafter took control of most of central India (possible kinsmen of the Kushanas).
Only 25 to 30 years were under Murunda dominion. The Gupta dynasty rose to prominence in the last decade of the third century CE (about 275 CE). The erstwhile lands ruled by the Satavahanas and Kushanas were mostly under the jurisdiction of the Gupta empire. Gupta family (possibly Vaishyas).
- The Guptas are thought to have been Kushana feudatories.
- Uttar Pradesh and Bihar made formed the Guptas’ initial kingdom, which had Prayag as its capital (U.P).
- The fertile plains of Madhya Desha, also known as Anuganga (the middle Gangetic basin), Saketa (U.P. Ayodhya), Prayag (U.P.), and Magadha, were where the Guptas established their rule (mostly Bihar).
- The Guptas took advantage of their proximity to regions in north India that engaged in silk trade with the Byzantine empire as well as the iron ore riches in central India and south Bihar (eastern Roman empire).
- Due to its many accomplishments in the fields of the arts, literature, and science, the Gupta era in ancient India is known as the “Golden Age.”
- Was Ghatotkacha’s son.
- The Gupta Era, which lasted from 319 to 320 CE, is thought to have been founded by Chandragupta I.
- By entering into a marriage arrangement with the Lichchhavis, he improved his position (Nepal). He elevated the status and authority of the Gupta family by marrying Kumaradevi, a princess of the Lichchhavi line (Vaishyas).
- He added to his kingdom by conquering new territory. By 321 AD, his domain stretched from the Ganges River to Prayaga.
- He struck coins with his and his queen’s united names.
- He took on the name Maharajadhiraja (great king of kings).
- He was able to transform a modest principality into a substantial kingdom.
- With Pataliputra, his empire included areas of modern-day Bihar, Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh.
- Samudragupta, the son and successor of Chandragupta I, greatly expanded the Gupta kingdom.
- His accomplishments are described in full in the Prayaga-Prashasti section of the Allahabad Pillar Inscription. He adopted a conquest-and-war strategy. His court poet, Harisena, wrote this lengthy inscription in pure Sanskrit. The inscription is inscribed on the same pillar as the inscription of Ashoka, the patron saint of peace.
- He had direct or indirect influence over a large portion of the Indian subcontinent, from the Pallava kingdom at Kanchipuram in the southeast to the kingdoms in Nepal and Punjab in the north. The Shakas, Murundas, and even Simhala (Sri Lanka), an autonomous province, accepted his suzerainty as the final holdout of Kushana sovereignty.
- The locations and lands Samudragupta conquered is divided into five regions.
- Chandragupta II, the son of Samudragupta, succeeded his father. However, other academics assert that Chandragupta II’s older brother Ramagupta served as the immediate succeeder. However, there is scant historical support for this.
- The Gupta dynasty achieved its pinnacle during Chandragupta II by conquering new lands and forming marriage alliances.
- He had a daughter named Prabhavati with the Naga princess Kuberananga, whom he married. He wed Prabhavati to Rudrasena II, a Vakataka prince (Deccan).
- After her husband’s passing, Prabhavati used her father’s assistance to control the region as regent for her young kids. The Vakataka kingdom was thus under the indirect power of Chandragupta II.
- Controlling the Vakataka kingdom in central India was very beneficial to Chandragupta II. It aided in his conquest of western Malwa and Gujarat, which had been ruled by the Shakas for almost four centuries at the time. The western sea shore, which was well-known for trade and business, was where the Guptas arrived. This helped Malwa, whose capital city Ujjain served as Chandragupta II’s second capital, develop.
- An inscription on an Iron Pillar in Mehrauli, Delhi, claims that his reign extended to Bengal and north-western India. He adopted the names Simhavikrama and Vikramaditya, which both mean “mighty as the sun.”
- He produced copper, silver, and gold coins (the Dinara). He is referred to as Chandra on his coinage.
- The son and successor of Chandragupta II was Kumaragupta I.
- Adopted the names “Mahendraditya” and “Shakraditya.”
- ‘Asvamedha’ sacrifices were performed.
- Most importantly, he created the framework for Nalanda University, which developed into a renowned institution around the world.
- Due to the Hun invasion from Central Asia, there was unrest on the northwest frontier at the conclusion of his rule.
- The Huns conquered Bactria before advancing into India by way of the Hindukush Mountains, where they conquered Gandhara.
- During Kumaragupta I’s rule, prince Skandagupta repulsed their initial assault.
- The oldest record of Kumaragupta I’s rule is found in the Bilsad inscription, followed by the inscriptions on the Karandanda, Mandsor, and Damodar Copper Plate.
- Took on the name “Vikramaditya.”
- The Sudarshan lake was restored during his governor Parnadatta’s rule, according to the Junagarh/Girnar inscription.
- Many of Skandagupta’s successors, including Purugupta, Kumaragupta II, Buddhagupta, Narasimhagupta, Kumaragupta III, and Vishnugupta, were unable to defend the Gupta empire from the Huns after Skandagupta’s death. Ultimately, for a number of causes, the Gupta power completely vanished.
Administrative System of Gupta Empire
- The Empire was divided into distinct administrative regions, such as Rajya, Rashtra, Desha, and Mandala, among others.
- Thus, the decentralisation of power was emphasised. The division of labour among the administrators allowed the kings to systematically govern their domains.
- A Vishayapati was chosen to be in charge of each of the several districts, or Vishayas, that made up the provinces.
- His council of representatives helped them with this effort.
- The rural bodies, which were composed of the village headman and the elders, were responsible for overseeing the wellbeing of the villages during the Gupta dynasty.
- The guild merchants set up the trading cities. The Empire engaged in trade with nations such as China, Ceylon, a number of European nations, and the East Indian islands.
Judicial System of the Gupta Empire
- There was a unique legal system in the Gupta Empire.
- The village assembly or trade guild was the lowest level of the judicial hierarchy. These councils were chosen to mediate conflicts between the parties that appeared before them.
- The chief appeals court was presided over by the King.
- The King was supported in performing his duties by judges, ministers, priests, etc.
- The court’s judgement or conclusion was based on the applicable legal texts, the social mores of the time, or the King’s decision.
- It is thought that the guilty parties received light sentences.