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Gupta Empire

Introduction

1. Gupta Empire existed from approximately 320 to 550 CE and covered much of the Indian Subcontinent.

2. Founded by Maharaja SriGupta.

3. The peace and prosperity created under the leadership of the Guptas enabled the pursuit of scientific and artistic endeavors. This period is called the Golden Age of India and was marked by extensive inventions and discoveries in science, technology, engineering, art, dialectic, literature, logic, mathematics, astronomy, religion and philosophy that crystallized the elements of what is generally known as Hindu culture.

4. Chandra Gupta I, Samudra Gupta the Great, and Chandra Gupta II the Great were the most notable rulers of the Gupta dynasty.

5. The 4th century CE Sanskrit poet Kalidasa, credits Guptas with having conquered about twenty one kingdoms, both in and outside India, including the kingdoms of Parasikas (Persians), the Hunas, the Kambojas, tribes located in the west and east Oxus valleys, the Kinnaras, Kiratas etc.

6. The high points of this cultural creativity are magnificent architecture, sculptures and paintings. The Gupta period produced scholars such as Kalidasa, Aryabhata, Varahamihira, Vishnu Sharma and Vatsyayana who made great advancements in many academic fields.

7. The empire gradually declined because of many factors such as substantial loss of territory and imperial authority caused by their own erstwhile feudatories and the invasion by the Huna peoples from Central Asia.

8. After the collapse of the Gupta Empire in the 6th century, India was again ruled by numerous regional kingdoms. A minor line of the Gupta clan continued to rule Magadha after the disintegration of the empire.

9. These Guptas were ultimately ousted by Vardhana ruler Harsha Vardhana, who established an empire in the first half of the 7th century.

Srigupta and Ghatotkacha

1. Reign of Sri Gupta was from 240–280 CE. He and his son were possibly feudatories of the Kushans.

2. His son and successor Ghatotkacha ruled from c. 280–319 CE.

3. In contrast to their successor, Chandragupta I, who is mentioned as Maharajadhiraja, he and his son Ghatotkacha are referred to in inscriptions as Maharaja At the beginning of the 5th century the Guptas established and ruled a few small Hindu kingdoms in Magadha and around modern-day Bihar.

Chandragupta 1

1. Chandragupta 1 reigned from 319–335 CE.

2. Chandragupta was married to Kumaradevi, a Lichchhavi princess—the main power in Magadha. With a dowry of the kingdom of Magadha (capital Pataliputra) and an alliance with the Lichchhavis, Chandragupta set about expanding his power, conquering much of Magadha, Prayaga and Saketa. He established a realm stretching from the Ganges River to Prayaga (modern-day Allahabad) by 321 CE.

3. He assumed the imperial title of Maharajadhiraja.

Samudragupta

1. Samudragupta succeeded his father in 335 CE, and ruled for about 45 years, until his death in 380 CE.

2. He took the kingdoms of Ahichchhatra and Padmavati early in his reign.

3. He then attacked the Malwas, the Yaudheyas, the Arjunayanas, the Maduras and the Abhiras, all of which were tribes in the area.

4. By his death in 380, he had incorporated over twenty kingdoms into his realm and his rule extended from the Himalayas to the river Narmada and from the Brahmaputra to the Yamuna.

5. He gave himself the titles King of Kings and World Monarch.

6. Historian Vincent Smith described him as the "Indian Napoleon".

7. Samudragupta was not only a talented military leader but also a great patron of art and literature. The important scholars present in his court were Harishena, Vasubandhu and Asanga. He was a poet and musician himself.

8. He was a firm believer in Hinduism and is known to have worshipped Lord Vishnu. He was considerate of other religions and allowed Sri Lanka's Buddhist king Sirimeghvanna to build a monastery at Bodh Gaya. That monastery was called by Xuanzang as the Mahabodhi Sangharama. He provided a gold railing around the Bodhi Tree.

Ramagupta

1. Rama Gupta was the eldest son of Samudra Gupta. He became king because of being the eldest.

2. He was dethroned because of not being the worthy enough to rule and his younger brother Chandra Gupta II took over.

Chandragupta Vikramaditya

1. Chandra Gupta II, Vikramaditya, ruled from 380 until 413.

2. Chandra Gupta II also married to a Kadamba princess of Kuntala region and a princess of Naga lineage, Kuberanaga. 3. His daughter Prabhavatigupta from this Naga queen was married to Rudrasena II, the Vakataka ruler of Deccan. 4. His son Kumaragupta I was married to Kadamba princess of Karnataka region.

5. Emperor Chandra Gupta II expanded his realm westwards, defeating the Saka Western Kshatrapas of Malwa, Gujarat and Saurashtra in a campaign lasting until 409, but with his main opponent Rudrasimha III defeated by 395, and crushing the Bengal (Vanga) chiefdoms.

6. This extended his control from coast-to-coast, estabilshed a second capital at Ujjain and was the high point of the empire.

7. The court of Chandragupta was made even more illustrious by the fact that it was graced by the Navaratna (Nine Jewels), a group of nine who excelled in the literary arts. Amongst these men was the immortal Kalidasa whose works dwarfed the works of many other literary geniuses, not only in his own age but in the ages to come. Kalidasa was particularly known for his fine exploitation of the shringara (romantic) element in his verse.

8. Chandragupta Vikramaditya conquered about twenty one kingdoms, both in and outside India.

9. After finishing his campaign in the East and West India, Vikramaditya (Chandra Gupta II) proceeded northwards, subjugated the Parasikas (Persians), then the Hunas and the Kambojas tribes located in the west and east Oxus valleys respectively. Thereafter, the king proceeds across the Himalaya and reduced the Kinnaras, Kiratas etc. and lands into India proper.

Kumaragupta I

1. Kumaragupta I was born of Mahadevi Dhruvasvamini.

2. Kumaragupta I assumed the title, Mahendraditya.

3. He ruled until 455. Towards the end of his reign a tribe in the Narmada valley, the Pushyamitras, rose in power to threaten the empire.

Skandagupta

1. Skandagupta, son and successor of Kumaragupta I assumed the titles of Vikramaditya and Kramaditya.

2. He defeated the Pushyamitra threat, but then was faced with invading Hephthalites or "White Huns", known in India as the Sweta Huna, from the northwest.

3. He repulsed a Huna attack c. 455 CE, But the expense of the wars drained the empire's resources and contributed to its decline.

4. Skandagupta died in 467 and was succeeded by his agnate brother Purugupta

Decline of the Empire

1. Skandagupta was followed by weak rulers Purugupta (467–473), Kumaragupta II (473–476), Budhagupta (476–495), Narasimhagupta, Kumaragupta III, Vishnugupta, Vainyagupta and Bhanugupta.

2. In the 480's the Hephthalites broke through the Gupta defenses in the northwest, and much of the empire in northwest was overrun by the Hun by 500.

3. The empire disintegrated under the attacks of Toramana and his successor Mihirakula.

4. Although their power was much diminished, Guptas continued to resist the Huns.

5. The Huns were defeated and driven out of India in 528 AD by a coalition consisting of Gupta emperor Narasimhagupta and the king Yashodharman from Malwa.

6. Tail end recognized ruler of the dynasty's main line was king Vishnugupta, reigning from 540 to 550.

7. In addition to the Hun invasion, the factors, which contribute to the decline of the empire include competition from the Vakatakas and the rise of Yashodharman in Malwa

Read History Part 9 : Yadavas of Devgiri

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