Gupta’s Dynasty – Golden Age of Indian Heritage

Origin of Gupta’s empire

According to an inscription, after centuries of political disintegration under the Gupta’s by its founder Maharaja Sri Gupta, a supremacy was established in 320 A.D. Till 550 A.D. approximately, the Gupta Dynasty ruled almost all parts of India, mostly in the Northern and some Eastern parts of India. During those days, the capital of the Gupta Empires was Pataliputra, which is today’s Patna, the capital of Bihar. According to scholars and historians, Gupta dynasty was a Vaishya dynasty, as Guptas on the basis of ancient Indian texts on commandment belonged to the Vaishya community. Gupta dynasty emerged out as a reaction against the oppressive rulers.

Administration and Rulers of Gupta Dynasty

guptaempireMaharaja Sri Gupta was the founder of the Gupta dynasty. He was the first king in the chain. Ghatotkacha followed him with the title Maharaja. Ghatotkacha was given this title by the feudatory chiefs.
Chandragupta I, who took the title of Maharadajiraja was the first ruler of the consequence. His rule was restricted to the Maghada and some parts of eastern dynasty and his ruling period was marked as the beginning of Gupta’s era. Later, Chandragupta I was succeeded by his son Samudragupta, who ruled approximately for 45 years. During his regime, he conquered and brought a long list of states, kings and tribes under various degrees of conquests. He was a talented military leader; great patron of art and literature; and he was also a musician, poet, firm believer in Hinduism. During his ruling only, almost every major development in various fields has occurred, leading to the Golden Age. Further, according to some inscriptions, Ramagupta, the eldest son of Samudragupta, as a consequence of eldest son became the king. However, he was not worthy enough to rule. So, Chandragupta II, his younger brother, took over the rule.

TheGuptaEra1The period of Chandragupta II alias Vikramaditya was the great mark of the Gupta Kingdom. He adopted the title Vikramaditya as a mark of victory over the Saka Kshatrapas of Western India. He conquered nearly 21 kingdoms both in India and outside of India. Fa-Hien, a Chinese Buddhist, came to India during his rule to study the sacred writings of Buddhism. He wrote about the life under Gupta’s emperor during his 10 years stay over there. This is one of the important sources for the history about this period. Also, some excellent arts support the culture as well. This was the reason for the long history of art of Gupta’s period, and also for its influence on most of the East and Southeast Asia. Even the court of Chandragupta II was more illustrious with Navaratnas – a group of nine people who excelled in literary arts.

Thereafter, a few rulers such as Kumaragupta I and Skandagupta ruled the dynasty. They were followed by the weak rulers for a few more years, which ultimately led to the decline of the empire.

Gupta’s Regime – the Golden Age of India

The ruling of Gupta’s greatly marked as the Golden Age of India. It is because of the peace and prosperity initiated by the Gupta rulers that enabled the cultural and scientific advancements. During Gupta’s rule, India made various contributions, inventions and discoveries in the sectors of art, architecture, literature, science, astronomy, technology, mathematics, religion, etc. This made the Gupta’s period both culturally and scientifically active. The major rulers of this empire who contributed to the Golden age are Chandragupta I, Samudragupta, Chandragupta II, Kumaragupta I and Skandagupta.

india-astronomyThe concepts of the decimal system, chess and zero came into existence during their regime. The scholars such as, Kalidasa, Aryabhatta and Varahamihra, etc. made several contributions in various fields during this period. Also, some philosophers of the Gupta dynasty discovered that Earth is round in shape and rotating on its own axis; discoveries made regarding gravity, planets, solar system; developments in literature that include stories of Panchatantra, epics of Ramayana etc. Magnificent architecture became a part of the empire that include the sculptures of religion and the spiritual realm. It was during their regime that some caves of rock-cut monasteries, eminent paintings of Badami, style of the Gandhara School of art etc. were created. These are some of the major inventions, discoveries and developments happened during the Gupta’s period.

During the Gupta’s rule, one of the important transformations was made in the temples. During the Golden age, it was the Gupta rulers that built the bigger sized temples with beautifully decorated carvings. Installing the statues of the Gods in the temples has begun in this period only. All these things have collectively turned Gupta’s period, the Golden Age of India. It is also known as the Golden Era.

Gupta’s Era – Trade and Commerce

During Gupta’s regime, internal trade had been expanded to numerous trade centers. Internal trade included all sorts of commodities for everyday use that were sold in markets of villages or towns. Whereas, luxury goods were the principal goods of long distance trade. To safeguard the interests of the buyers and sellers, several laws and regulations were made. But, dishonesty had prevailed in the market. Prices during this period were not stable and varied from place to place. Also, variation in the weights and measures was not an exception.

The internal trade was done on the banks of rivers and on the sides of the roads. However, the foreign trade was done on the land and sea. Because the sea routes were not safer, traders had followed the central Asian route from China to India with the help of Fa-hien. Indian ports had maintained maritime relations with Sri Lanka, Arabia, Persia etc. and islands of Indian Ocean during Gupta’s dynasty. The quantity of external trade of India with China had increased a lot during Gupta’s era, and Chinese silk had a good market in India.

Success of Gupta’s dynasty

From the peace and prosperity created by the Gupta rulers and their strong trade ties to their patron to the arts, literature, science and education led a path to all these achievements and developments during their regime.

Decline of the Gupta’s empire

The decline of the empire had started after the Skandagupta. There was no great ruler after Skandagupta and were only a chain of weak rulers – Purugupta, Kumaragupta II, Budhagupta, Narasimhagupta, Kumaragupta III, Vishnugupta, and Vainyagupta. Approximately in the year 480, the Guptas faced an invasion from Huns and disintegrated after the attack of Toramana and his successor Mihirakula. The Gupta rulers continued to resist Huns and they were defeated by Narasimhagupta, a Gupta ruler. Nevertheless, the successors of the empire was weak enough and couldn’t face the Hun invaders, further. Thus, the dynasty came to an end after the last recognized ruler of the dynasty Vishnugupta in 550. Of course, competition from the Vakatakas and the rise of Yashodharman in Malwa also contributed to the decline of Gupta’s empire.

As far as Indian history is concerned, Gupta’s dynasty had created a golden era with its vast contribution to Indian heritage and culture. Apart from this, it was during the Gupta’s regime only that most of the eminent Indian scholars like Kalidasa, Aryabhatta and Varahamihra had emerged out with their talent.

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