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Gupta Empire

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Gupta Empire

shape Introduction

The Gupta Empire stretched across northern, central and parts of southern India between c. 320 and 550 CE. The period is noted for its achievements in the arts, architecture, sciences, religion, and philosophy.

shape History

Gupta Empire – History:

  • After the fall of Mauryan empire, the Kushans in the North and Satavahanas in the south had held

  • Gupta empire replaced the Kushans in the North with its center of power at Prayag and gave political unity for more than a century (335AD-455AD).

  • It was founded by Sri Gupta.

  • Gupta strength laid in the use of horses and material advantage of fertile land and natural resources abundant region.

Gupta Empire – Chandragupta I (319-334 AD):

  • He was the first great ruler of Gupta Dynasty. He assumed the title Maharajadhiraja.

  • Married Licchhavi princess

  • Started the Gupta Era by 319-20 AD

  • The original type of Gold coins Dinaras was issued.

Gupta Empire – Samudragupta (335-380 AD):

  • followed a policy of violence and conquest which led to enlargement of Gupta empire

  • Harisena, his court poet, vividly mentions his military exploits in Allahabad inscriptions

  • He reached Kanchi in the south which was ruled by Pallavas

  • Meghavarman, the ruler of Srilanka, sent a missionary for permission to build a Buddhist temple at Gaya

  • Samudragupta is called as Napoleon.

Gupta Empire – Chandragupta II (380-412 AD):

  • He adopted the title Vikramaditya

  • He conquered Malwa and Gujarat which provided him access to the sea which enabled trade and commerce.

  • Ujjain was made as the second capital

  • His court was adorned by the Navaratnas including Kalidasa and Amarasimha.

  • His exploits are gloried in Iron Pillar at Qutub Minar

  • Chinese pilgrim Fa-Hsien (399-414AD) visited India during his period.

Gupta Empire – System of Administration:

  • They adopted Pompous titles such as Paeamabhattaraka and Maharajaadhiraja

  • The administration was highly decentralized with feudal lords ruling over minor provinces

  • Civil and criminal laws were highly demarcated

  • Kumaramatyas were the most important officers.

  • But Guptas lacked elaborate bureaucracy like Mauryas.

  • These offices also became hereditary in nature.

  • Grant of fiscal and administrative concessions to priests was also in practice.

  • Agrahara grants and Devagraha grants were practiced.

Gupta Empire – Trends in trade and agrarian economy:

  • Guptas issued a large number of Gold coins which were called as Dinars

  • There was a decline in the long distance trade with Romans which led to lesser gold content in the Dinars.

  • Land grants made to the priests brought many virgin lands under cultivation

Gupta Empire – Social developments:

  • Brahmana supremacy continued during Gupta period

  • The Huns came to be recognized as one of the 36 clans of the Rajputs

  • The position of Shudras improved as they were permitted to hear Ramayana, Mahabharata and Puranas

  • The number of untouchables, the Chandalas, increased

  • The position of women improved as they were permitted to hear Ramayana, Mahabharata and worship Krishna.

  • But the rst example of Sati also appears in the Gupta period.

Gupta Empire – State of Buddhism:

  • Buddhism did not receive royal patronage in Gupta Period, still stupas and Viharas were constructed and Nalanda became a center for Buddhist learning

Gupta Empire – Origin and growth of Bhagavatism:

  • Worship of Vishnu and Narayana merged to form Bhagavatism or Vaishnavism

  • It was marked by Bhakti (loving devotion) and Ahimsa

  • Religious teachings were mentioned in Bhagavadgita, Vishnu Purana and Vishnu Smriti

  • Idol worship became a common feature of Hinduism

  • Gupta rulers followed a principle of tolerance

Gupta Empire – Art:

  • Gupta period is called Golden age of ancient India.

  • Art was mostly inspired by Religions

Rock cut caves – Ajanta, Ellora and Bagh caves

Structural temples – Dashavatar temple of Deogarh, Laxman temple of Sirpur, Vishnu temple and Varah temple of Eran. The growth of Nagara style also enabled the development of temple architecture in India

Stupas – Dhammek stupa of Sarnath, Ratnagiri stupa of Orissa, Mirpur Khas in Sindh
developed in this period.

Paintings – Ajanta paintings and Bagh caves paintings

Sculpture – the Bronze image of Buddha near Sultanganj, Sarnath and Mathura school nourished during this period which supports the growth of Mahayana Buddhism and Idol worship.

Images of Vishnu, Shiva and some other Hindu gods were also found.

Gupta Empire – Literature:


  • Ramayana, Mahabharata, Vayu Purana etc were re-written.

  • Dignaga and Buddhagosha were certain Buddhist literature written in this period Secular

    a. Mudrarakshasha by Vishakadatta

    b. Malavikagnimitra, Vikramorvashiyam, AbhijanaShakuntalam – Dramas by Kalidasa

    c. Ritusamhar, Megadoot, Raghuvamsam, Kumarasambhavam – Poetries by Kalidasa

    d. Mricchakatika by Sudraka

    e. Kamasutra by Vatsyayana

    f. Panchatantra by Vishnu Sharma


    a. Aryabhatiya and Surya Siddhanta by Aryabhatta

    b. Romaka Siddhanta

    c. Mahabhaskarya and Laghubhaskarya by Bhaskara

    d. Pancha Siddhanta, Vrihat Jataka, Vrihat Samhita by Vrahamihira

Gupta Empire – Fall of the empire:

  • Huns invasion during the reign of Skandagupta and his successors greatly weakened his empire

  • Rule of Yashodharman dealt a severe blow to Gupta empire.

  • The rise of feudatories and Governors becoming independent led to the disintegration of Gupta empire.

  • Loss of western India had crippled them economically

shape Quiz

1. Who was the son of Chandragupta Maurya?

    A. Bindusara
    B. Chandragupta II
    C. Ashoka
    D. Bimbisara

Answer: Option A

2. Who was the last great ruler of the Gupta dynasty?

    A. Skandagupta
    B. Chandragupta II
    C. Vishnugupta
    D. Samudragupta

Answer: Option A

3. Who was married to Lichchhavi princess “Kumar Devi”?

    A. Chandragupta I
    B. Chandragupta II
    C. Samudragupta
    D. Kumar Gupta

Answer: Option A

4. Who was the mentor of Chandragupta Maurya?

    A. Chanakya
    B. kalidas
    C. Aryabhatta
    D. Mahavir

Answer: Option A

5. Prabhavati Gupta was the daughter of:

    A. Kuber naga
    B. Kumardevi
    C. Parbhabati
    D. Rajyashree

Answer: Option A

6. The Allahabad Pillar inscription describes the achievement of_:

    A. Ashoka
    B. Harshavardhan
    C. Chandragupta Vikramaditya
    D. Samudragupta

Answer: Option D

7. A village headman during the Guptas was called ______.:

    A. Vishyapati
    B. Uparika
    C. Gramika
    D. Gramini

Answer: Option C

8. From which year Chandragupta I started a new era Gupta Era:

    A. \({26}^{th}\) February AD 320
    B. \({26}^{th}\) January AD 322
    C. \({16}^{th}\) February AD 302
    D. \({22}^{nd}\) March AD 323

Answer: Option A

9. Chandragupta Maurya also called as ‘Sandrocottus’ or ‘Androcottus’ by__:

    A. Greek Scholars
    B. Chinese Scholars
    C. European Scholars
    D. Indian Scholars

Answer: Option A

10. The Gupta period ‘Navaratna’ was in the court of which ruler /strong>:

    A. Kumaragupta
    B. Skandagupta
    C. Chandragupta II
    D. Samduragupta

Answer: Option C