The Gupta Dynasty
Gupta Empire Golden Age of India.
On the ruins of the Kushan empire arose a new empire, which established its way over a good part of the former dominions of both Kushans & Satavahanas. The first two kings of the dynasty were Srigupta & Ghatotkacha.
Chandragupta I (AD 319 – 335):
- First important king of the Gupta Dynasty.
- Started the Gupta era in 319-320 AD.
- He enhanced his power & prestige by marrying Kumara Devi, prince of the Lichchavi clan of Nepal.
- He acquired the title of Maharajadhiraj.
- Struck coins in the joint names of himself, his queen & the Lachchavi nation, thereby acknowledging his marriage alliance.
History of Samudragupta (AD 335 – 375):
The Gupta kingdom was enlarged enormously by Chandragupta’s son & successor Samudragupta.
Samudragupta believed in the policy of war & conquest & because of his bravery & generalship he is called the ‘Napoleon’ of India (by the historian V.A. Smith).
History of Chandragupta – II (AD 380 – 413):
- Samudragupta was succeeded by Ramgupta but Chandragupta II killed him & married his queen Dhruvadevi.
- He was the first ruler to issue silver coins. Also issued copper coins.
- His court was adorned by celebrated nine gems (navratnas) including Kalidasa, Amarsimha, Varahmihir, & Dhanvantri.
- Chinese pilgrim Fahien visited India at this time.
History of Kumaragupta – I (AD 413 – 455):
He adopted the title of Mahendraditya.
Founded Nalanda University (a renowned university of ancient India).
He was the worshipper of Lord Kartikeya (son of Lord Shiva).
In the last years of his reign, the peace & prosperity of the empire was disturbed due to the invasion of Turko-
Mongol tribe, Hunas. During the war with the Hunas, Kumaragupta died.
History of Skandagupta (AD 455 – 467):
- Kumaragupta-I was followed by Skandagupta.
- Restored Sudarshana Lake.
- After his death, the great days of the Guptas were over. The empire continued but central control weakened, & local governors became feudatory kings with hereditary rights.
Gupta Literature in India:
- Kalidas, the great Sanskrit dramatist, belonged to this period. His books are Abhigyanashakuntalam, (considered as one of the best literary works in the world & one of the earliest Indian works to be translated into a European language, the other work being the Bhagavadgita),
- Ritusamhara, Meghadutam, Kumarasambhavam, Malavikagnimitram, Raghuvansha, Vikramurvashi, etc. Out of these, Ritusamhara, Meghadutam, Raghuvansha were epics & the rest were plays.
- Vishakhadatta wrote Mudrarakshasa & Devichandraguptam
- Vishnu Sharma wrote Panchtantra & Hitopdesh
- The Gupta period also saw the development of Sanskrit grammar based on Panini & Patanjali
- Ramayana & Mahabharata were almost completed by the 4th century AD.
Other Dynasties & Rulers (7th Century–12th Century AD)
History of Harshavardhana (AD 606 – 647)
- Belonged to Pushyabhuti family & son of Prabhakar Vardhan.
- Originally belonged to Thaneshwar, but shifted to Kannauj (after Harsha’s death Kannauj was won from Harsha’s successors by the Pratiharas).
- Chinese pilgrim, Hieun Tsang (Prince of Travelers) visited during his reign.
- Harsha himself wrote 3 plays – Priyadarshika, Ratnavali & Nagananda.
- After the death of Harsha in 647, the empire once again broke up into petty States.
- I – tsing, another Chinese pilgrim, visited in 670 AD.