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Ancient History / Guptan Era

Political History of Gupta Empire


    Srigupta is the founder of Gupta empire. He took the title "Maharaja", a title that means a subordinate king. Guptas started as Samantas to Kushans. Chandragupta I took the title of "Maha Rajadhi Raja" (independent king). So, he is the first independent king of Gupta dynasty.

    Samudragupta

    • He was the most important king among all the Gupta kings. Entire India came under the control of Samudragupta.
    • Very lengthy description about Samudragupta is given in Allahabad inscription. It was authored by an officer named Harisena and his designation was Sandhi Vigrahaka (External affairs minister). The inscription talks about the victories of Samudragupta over the following kingdoms
      • 8 Aryavarta (North India) kingdoms (between Himalayas and Vindhyas)
      • 5 Pratyantas (Border states)
      • 9 Gana Rajyas (Republican states, ruled by elected heads)
      • 18 Atavika Rajyas (Forest Kingdoms)
      • 12 Dakshinapatha Rajyas (South Indian Kingdoms)(Most are located in AP) like Vengeya (Vengi) Hastivarma and Kancheya (Kanchi) Vishnugopa, etc were defeated.
    • British historian VA Smith calls Samudragupta as Indian Napoleon.

    Chandragupta II

    • His most important victory was conquest of Ujjain, which was ruled by Shakas of Kardamaka dynasty for this he got the title "Shakari" (Destroyer of Shakas) He also took another title "Vikramaditya".
    • According to one tradition, the following 9 scholars and poets known as Navaratnas were present in his court.
      • Kalidasa – He wrote 3 dramas, Abhijnana Shakuntalam, Malavikagnimitram, Vikramorvasiyam. His Kavyas were Meghaduta, Raghuvamsam, Ritusamhara, Kumarasambhavam
      • Vishnu Sharma – He wrote Panchatantra
      • Amarasimha – He wrote Amarakosha (a Sanskrit dictionary)
      • Vararuchi – Prakrita Prakasa (in Prakrit)
      • Sushruta (surgeon) – Sushruta Samhita (Book on Surgery)
      • Dhanvantari (Ayurveda physician) - Nighantu (medical dictionary)
      • Aryabhatta – He wrote two books, Surya Siddhanta (Heliocentric theory – Sun is at the center of Universe) on Astronomy and Aryabhattiyam on Mathemetics
      • Varahamihira – He wrote Brihat Samhita and Pancha Siddhantika
      • Brahmagupta – He wrote Khandakhadyaka. Brahmagupta, who was called Indian Newton, talked about Gravitation of Earth

  • During the reign of Kumaragupta, first Hun invasion took place. Kumaragupta is the founder of Nalanda University (Mahayana University). Vishnugupta is the last recognized king of Gupta dynasty. Around 550 AD Gupta empire came to an end.