Chapter 10: GUPTA EMPIRE
The Gupta's occupied the Magadha city and
started their Empire. The coins issued give some information
about their rituals and titles. The works of the rulers are
mentioned in the Iron pillars erected by the rulers.
Chronology of Gupta kings
Chandragupta – I:
The Gupta era started in 320 AD. Chandragupta was
famous for extensive conquests.
He was the greatest of the Gupta emperors. He had
complete control over North India from Taxila to Bengal. The
policy regarding South India was different. He defeated the
kings but handed them back their Empires. He only wanted them to
acknowledge his suzerainty. He issued gold and silver coins
depicting his conquests.
He is known as Indian Napoleon.
He was tolerant of other religions. He promoted
music, poets and Sanskrit literature. He was an ardent follower
Chandragupta – II:
The military genius of his father was inherited by
him. He undertook military campaigns against the southern
satraps in Maharashtra. The defeat of the Sakas brought the
Arabian Sea as part of the kingdom. External trade with the
Roman Empire also increased. This increased wealth of the
Fa - Hien the Chinese pilgrim visited during his
reign. He wrote about the religious, social and economic
conditions of the Gupta.
Successors of Chandragupta and their achievements:
Founded Nalanda University. It was a Mahayana university.
fought and defeated the Huns.
The successors of Gupta’s couldn’t save the Empire
Because of the high level of cultural progress the
Gupta period is known as the golden age.
Features of Gupta Age:
Hereditary monarchy with king as head. King is
assisted by a council.
Kingdom divided into provinces. Provinces into city
and districts with their own administrative machinery.
Fa Hien's account claimed that Gupta administration
was mild. Negligible crime was seen. Punishments were not severe.
Civil liberties were present. Administration was lenient than
Women status was poor. They were thoroughly
subjugated to men. Caste system was also rigid. The lower castes
were oppressed. Brahmins were favoured by kings.
Brahmanism and its form Shaivism and Vaishnavism
flourished in this time. Most of the kings were Vaishnavaites.
They performed sacrifices and gave donations. Buddhism and Jainism
declined in the Gangetic valley.
The arts, science and culture flourished during this
period and hence it’s called a golden age. This was due to
culmination of various intellectual activities.
Art and Architecture:
1.Temple building styles like the Dravidian and the
Nagara evolved during this period. However most of the work
was destroyed by the Hun invasions.
2.No influence of Gandhar style but little of Greek
style on sculptures.
3.The craftsmen became experts in art of crafting metal
statues and pillars. The statue of Buddha and the Delhi iron
pillar are good examples.
4.Coinage also saw great progress. Gold, silver and
copper coins of different varieties were issued.
5.Sanskrit literature flourished and new script
Nagari evolved from Brahmi script. Best works of Sanskrit
were done in this period.
6.The example of literary works done in this period are
Kalidasa – Shakuntala, Panchatantra stories, final touches to
Purana, Epics Ramayana and Mahabharata.
7.Brilliant activity was achieved in the fields of
science, mathematics, astronomy, medicine. Aryabhatta and
Varahamihir wrote books on astronomy. Vagbhata wrote on medicine.
It was a residential University where education,
lodging and boarding were free. Although it was a Mahayana
university, it gave education about all religious doctrines.
In addition it had other subjects like science, astronomy,
medicine. More than lectures discussions played an important role.
It was an institution of advanced learning and research. It had a
great library and classrooms. Discipline was strict.
It was popular from the fact that it attracted
scholars all over Asia.
Located at junction of Central Asia and South Asia.
Not considered a university a modern sense as
teachers living there didn’t have official membership of
No purpose built lecture halls and Residential