March 22, 2019

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Important Notes on History – The Gupta Period

The Kushana realm remained a centre of culture until its demise in the late third century in the hands of a new native dynasty – The Guptas.

  • The founder of the Gupta Dynasty was Sri Gupta
  •  Chandragupta who built his Empire through some conquests & marriage alliance with the Lachavis.
  • His son Samudragupta is known as the Indian Napolean as he extended the Gupta Empire far & wide. His military conquests & personality are known the rough the Prayag Prashasti or the Allabhabad pillar inscription written by Harisena nearly 1700 yrs. ago.
  • Prashasti, a Sanskrit word meaning “in praise of” is an inscription of special kind composed for some of the rulers.
  • The poet Harisena praised Samundra Gupta in glowing terms – as a warrior, who was learned & best of poets, as a king who won many battles & also described him as equal to the gods.
  • Harisena’s inscription gives a detailed account of the conquests of his royal master, which contains a long list of states, kings & tribes that were conquered & bought under various degree of subjugation 
  • Some other qualities of Samudra Gupta are shown on coins like the one in which he is shown playing the Veena.
  • The variety of gold coins issued by Samudragupta not only indicates his power, wealth & grandeur of the empire but also indicates the personal qualities of the king.
  • The Prashasti also mentions the anasters of Samudragupta. His father Chandragupta was the first Gupta ruler to adopt the title Maharaj-adhiraj, a title which Samudragupta used.
  • Samudragupta’s court was full of learned people, – Kalidasa the poet, Aryabhata the astronomer.

While we learn about the Guptas from inscriptions & coins, we can find out about some kings from biographics.  

  • Harshavardhana was one such roler who ruled 1400 years ago from 606 CE to 647 CE.
  • Banabhatta, his court poet wrote his biography, the Harshacharita, in Sanskrit.
  • He became the king of Thaneswar, after the death of his father & elder brother & led an army against the Benjal roler Sasanka. Successful in Bengal & Magadh, his March into the Deccan was stopped by his defeat at the hands of Polaksin II, the Chalukya king.
  • Harsha was patron of Buddhion, (Constructed Buddist stopas), supported art & literature, made several donations to Nalanda University.
  • In 641 B.C., he sent a mission to china which helped in establishing first diplomatic relation upto Chain & India.

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