“The Knowledge Library”

Knowledge for All, without Barriers…

An Initiative by: Kausik Chakraborty.

“The Knowledge Library”

Knowledge for All, without Barriers……….
An Initiative by: Kausik Chakraborty.

The Knowledge Library


With the coming of the Buddha in early 4th century A.D. historical data becomes more reliable. Starting from 4th century A.D. till the latter half of the 6th century AD the facts of the day enable us to come to firm conclusions.

How exactly the Guptas rose to power is difficult to be portrayed. With the collapse of the Indo-Scythian or Kushan empire some tie during the 3rd century A.D. the political pictures for northern Indian began to transformed. In all likelihood, a large number of independent states must have been formed. The lichachhavis of Vaisali of the days of Buddha re-emerged again. It appears that they obtained possession of Pataliputara and probably ruled as tributaries of the Kushans who had their headquarters at Peshawar.

Very little is known of the early rulers of the Gupta dynasty. The founder of the dynasty was Sri Gupta who bore the titles raja and maharaja. Historically, as can be gleaned from a few Gupta inscriptions, the history of dynasty really starts with king Ghatokacha, the son of Sri Gupta. Unfortunately, the original borders of the Gupta possession are not known. A number of historians feel that these must have coincided with the borders of Magadha, while others include parts of present-day west Bengal as well. The vagueness of the answers of this question is because of lack of precise epigraphic data. One of the main written sources available is the writing of the Chinese Pilgrim, T-Tsing.



Early in the 4th century Lichchhavi princes was married to the ruler in Magadha, who bore the historic name of Chandragupta. This alliance enhanced his power. Soon he was able tod extend dominion over Oudh as well as Magadha and along the Ganges as far as Prayag or Allahabad. Chandragupta I assumed the high-sounding title of Maharajadhiraja (Great king of Kings.)

Conceding the importance of his wife, Chandragupta issued gold coins in the joint names of himself, his queent Kumaradevi and the Lichchhavi nation. Emboldened by his success he establish a new era. The Gupta which was used in parts of India for several centuries to come.

In all likelihood, the region of Chandragupta I ended about 335 A.D. Even his son was careful to describe himself as the son of the daughter of Lichchhavi. There is some dispute regarding his succession since a few gold coins have been found in the name of Kacha. It is generally held that his name is Samudragupta.



Samudragupta had a long reign of 40 or 45 years. He succeeded in making himself the paramount ruler of northern India. To begin with, he subdued the princes of the Gangetic plain who failed to acknowledge his authority. The Allahabad inscription, composed by the court poet Harisena in praise of Samundragupta’s spectacular victories, lists the names of kings and countries defeated by the Gupta ruler. Samudragupta succeeded in conquering nine kings of Aryavarta (in the Ganges Valley) and twelve kings from Dakshinapatha, that is a reigon of southern India. In the inscription is also made of two kings of the Nava dynasty, rulers of Ahichhtra. In the next stage he brought the wild forest tribes under his control. Finally, he carried a brilliant expedition into south reaching as far as the Pallava Kingdom. Samudragupta’s southern campaign was successful to began with defeated the king of southern Koshala, Mahendra and then the rulers of the region now known or Orissa, in the civinity of the river Godavari, and the Pallava King, Vishnugopa, whose seat of power was Kanchi. The other areas mentioned in the inscription have not yet been identified. He did not annex the territories in the Deccan and South, but he performed An Asvameda sacrifice which had been long in abeyance in order to claim imperial rank. Interestingly, gold medals were struck in commoration of his Vedicsacrifices.

During Samudragupta’s reign the Gupta empire became one of the largest in the East. Its fluence spread and close ties were established with many other stages. Not without reason did the court poet Harisena writes his eulogyof the valour and might of his king, who, in the words of the inscrption, subdued the world. This assessment made by the court poet of old has considerable influence on many modern scholars whotend to idealise Samudragupta and described him as did Vincent A. Smith as the (as the Indian Nepolian) an outstanding individual possessed of remarkable qualities.

By the close of Samudragupta careers his empire extended in the north to the base of them mountains. Excluding Kashmir, probably the eastern limit was the Brahamaputra which the Narmada may be regarded as the frontior in the south. And in the west, the Jamuna and Chambal rivers marked the limits of his empire, Nevertheless, various tribal states in the Punjab and Malwa powers Tributes and homage were paid by the rulers of five frontier kingdoms – Samatata (delta of the Brahamaputra), Davaka (Possibly eastern Bengal), Kamarupa (equivalent to Assam), Kartripura (probably Kumaon and Gharwal) and Nepal.



Apart from the vastness of his kingdom, Samudragupta received homage from a handful of foreign kings. The Kushans princes of the North-West ruled in peach beyond. The Indus basin also, friendly relations were maintained with the King Mahendra of Ceylon who had built a splendid monestary at Bodh Gaya after obtaining the permission of Samudragupta.

Samudragupta was a man of exceptional abilities and unusual varied gifts – warrior, statesman, general, poet and musician, philanthropist, he was all in one. As a patron of arts and letters, he epitomized the spirit of his age. Coins and inscription of Gupta period bear testimony to his “versatile talents and ‘ Indefatigable energy”.



Samudragupta was a great warrior – this is well proved by the account of Harisena in Allahabad Pillar inscriptions although the description is poetic “whose most charming body was covered over with all the beauty of the marks of a hundred confuse wounds caused by the blows of battle axex, arrows, spears, pikes, swords, lances, javelines”. At least three types of coins – Archar Type, Battle – Axe and Tiger type – represent Samudragupta in martial armour. The coins bearing the epithets like ‘parakramah’ (valour), ‘kritanta-parashu’, vyaghra parakramah’, prove his being a skilful warrior.

Thatd Samdudragupta was brilliant commander and a great conqueror is proved by Harisena’s description of his conquests. He mentions that Samudragaupta exterminated nine north Indian states, Subdued eithteen Atavika kingdoms near Bajalpur and Chhota Nagpur, and in his blitz – like campaign humbled the pride of twelve South Indian Kings, Nine borderstribes, and five frontier states of Smatata, Devaka, Karupa, Nepal and Krtripur ‘paid taxex, obeyed orders and performed obeisance in person to the great Samudragupta’. The conquests made him the lord – paramount of India. Fortune’s child as he was, he was never defeated in any battle. His Eran inscription also stresses his being ‘invincible’ in battle. Samudragupta’s Asvamedha type of coins commeorate the Asvamedha sacrifices he performed and signify his many victories and superemacy..



According to Allahabad Prasasti’s exaggerated picture, ‘samudragupta was mano of many sided genius, who put to shame the preceptor of the lord Gods and Tumburu and Narad and others by his sharp and polished intellect and Chorla -skill and musical accmplishment. His title of Kaviraj (King of poets) is justified by various poetical compositions. Unfortunately none of these compositions have survived.

The presence of the two celebrated literary personalities like Harisons and Vasubandhu definitely proves that he was a grent patron of men of letters.



Harisena’s commemoration of Samudragupta’s knowledge and proficiency in song and music is curiously confirmed and corroborated by the existence of a few rare gold coins depicting him confortably seated on a high-becked couch engaged in playing the Veena (tyre or lute) : the scene is obviously from his private life.


Statesman and Administrator :

Samudragupta displayed greater foresight in his conquests and in the administrationi and consolidation of his empire. A practical statestesman as he was he adopted different policies of different regions. “His treatment of the nine kings of the north India was drastic, they were ‘forcibly rooted up’ and their territories were incorporated in the dominions of the victor, but he made no attempt to effect the permanent annexation of the twelve southern States; he only exacted a temporary submission from the defeated chiefs, and then withdrew after having despoiled the rich treasures of the south; the policy of Dharm-Vijaya which Samudragupta followed in respect of the kings of south India is symbolic of his statesmanship, and was based on the needs and situations prevailing at that time. It was not an easy task to control effectively the far off regions from Pataliputra particularly when the means of transport and communication were too meager. The later history of India bears testimony to this fact. To the distant tribal states of the Punjab Eastern Rajputana and Malwa he granted autonomy treating them as buffer Kingdows against the foreign rulers like sakas and Kushans.


That Samudragupta was an efficient administrator is clear from the very fact that he not only established a bvast empire but also left it as legacy to his successors well-knit and well-organised. The Allahabad Pillar Prasasti makes the mention of officials known as ‘Mahadandnayaka’ ‘Kumaramaty’ and ‘Sandhivigrahika’ and that his administration was severe and tyrannical and that Samudragupta was very firm towards sinners but generous towards righteous people.


Vedic religion and philanthropy :

Samudragupta was the up-holder of the Brahmanical religion. Because of his services to the cause of religion the Allahabad inscription mentions the qualifying title of ‘Dharma-prachir Bandhu’ for him. But he was not intolerant of other creeds. His patronage to Buddhist scholar Vasubandhu and the acceptance of the request of the king of Ceylon to build a monastery of Bodh Gaya emply prove that the respected other religions.


His Asvamedha types of coins with other coins bearing the figures of Lakshmi and Ganga together with her ‘vahas’ makara (crocodile) testify his faith in Brahmanical religions.


Samudragupta had imbibed the true spirit of religion and for that reason, he has been described as ‘Anukampavan’ (full of compassion) in the Allahabad incscription. He has been described “as the giver of many hundreds of thousands of cows”


Personal Appearance, despite the small of the coins and the limitations of reproducing the real image by striking the die, can be judged from his figures on the coins ‘tall in stature and of good physique he has strong muscular arms and a fully developed chest.

From the above description it is clear that Samudragupta was endowed with no ordinary powers – Physical, intellectual and spiritural.


About 380 AD Samudragupta was succeeded by one of his son who was selected as the most worthy of the crown. This ruler is known as Chandragupta-II. Later he took the additional title of Vikramaditya, which was associated by tradition with the Raja of Ujjain who was known for defeating the sakas and founding the Vikram era.


Policy of Matrimonial Alliance

The most important event of his reign was his matrimonial alliance with the Vakataka king rudra Sena II and the subjuqation of the peninsula of Saurashtra of Kathaiawar which had been ruled for centuries by the Saka dynasty as the Western Satraps. Matrnimonial alliances occupy a prominent place in the foreign policy of the Guptas. The Lichchhavi alliance had strengthened their position in Bihar;Samudragupta had accepted gifts of maidens from neighbouring courts. With the same purpose, Chandragupta II married the Naga Princess Kubernaga and gave his own daughter, Prabhabati, in marriage to Vakataka king, Rudra Sena II. The Vakataka alliance was master stroke of diplomacy as it secured the subordinate alliance of the Vakataka king who occupied a strategic geographical position. It is noteworthy that Rudra Sena died young and his widow reigned until her sons came of age. Other dynasties of the Deccan also married into Gupta royal family, the Guptas thus ensuring friendly relations to the south of their domain. This also means that Chadragupta II did not renew Samudragupta’s southern advantures preferring to seek room for expansion towards the South-west.


The principal military achievement of Chandragupta-II was the conquest of Malwa, Gujarat and Saurashtra. All of them were ruled for several centuries by Saka chiefs known as Satraps of Great Satraps, since they paid tribute to the Kushans. This particular advaace of Chadragupta-II also involved the subjugation of the Malavas and certain other tribes which were outside the frontiers of Samudragupta. The details of the campaign are not known but Chadragupta’s prolonged stay in Malva along with his feudatory chiefs, ministers and generals is proved by the least three inscriptions. The capaign was eminently successful. Rudra Simha, the last of the Satraps was killed. The fall of Saka Satrap is allueded to by Bana in his Harsha Charita “Chandragupta in the disguise of a female killed the Saka king possessed of lust for another’s wife at the very city of the enemy”. The Gupta Kingdom. The numismatic evidence proves the annexation. On the lion-slaver type of coins, Chandragupta is represented as slaying a lion with the lengedn ‘Simha-Vikram’ (one who has the prowess of a lion), signifaying probably his conquestof Gujarat where lions were then early common. But the conclusive evidene is that of the silver coins issued by Chandragupta II in the Saka rgions.


(1) End of the domination of the foreigners.

(2) Chandragupta became the pramaount soverign of all Northern India.

(3) With the addition of the rice and fertile provinces of Gujarat and Kathiawar, Gupta empire extended fropm the bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea.



(4) The Gupta empire now controlled a large part of the Indian commerce and trade with the western world since the western ports were now in Gupta hands and was brought into closer contact with the western civilization.

(5) Western border of India was now no longer a source of anxiety.

(6) Internal trade also received a fillip

(7) Ujjain now because a great center of trade, commerce, education and politics, the Guptaking realisingits importance and it has second capital.


It is almost certain that Chandragupta had other successful military operations to this credit the basis of refernces mentioned in Virasena’s Udaygiri cave inscription that the king set out ‘to conquer the whole world’, and in Sanchi inscription in which one of Chandragupta’s military officer is said to have obtained great glory by winning many battles. But we have no definite and detailed information regarding the nature and result of these campaigns.

The military exploits of a king called Chandra are mentioned in Mahrauli iron Pillar inscription. It is stated in the inscription that the king defeated a confederacy of hostile chiefs in Vanga and having crossed in warfare the seven months of the river Sindhu, conquered the Vahilkas.

Vanga denotes Eastern Bengal, verynearly the same country as Samatata which is included in the tributary frontier states of Samudragupta. It is possible that some of the rulers refused to accept Chandragupta’s authority and consequently the latter had to fight against them. The compaign resulted in the inconporation of the province in the Gutpta empire.

Vahilka, according to Dr. R.C. Majumdar, is almost certainly to be identified with Balkh (Bactria) beyond the Hindukush mountains. ‘Here too,’ the motive of the compaign was probably similar tothat against eastern Bengal, i.e. either the Kushans who referred to sas Daivaputra-Shahi – Shahanushani in Allahabad Pillar Inscription had acknowledged the supremacy of Samudragupta rebelled, or Chandragupta II wanted to establish his authorirty on a firmer basis’.

Samudragupta had begun the work of conquest. But it was his son who completed the task and kingdoms on the border but also the territories ruled by foreign hordes like the Sakas and Kushanas. Chadragupta too the title of Vikramaditya (Sun of power) and for this tilte he had a better claim than any other sovereign of northern India. That he was the real architect of the Gupta empire, there can be no two opinions.

Chadragupta II ruled for nearly 35 years. And he was succeeded by Kumar Gupta -O in 415 A.D. He, too, ruled the empire for about 40 years. Details of his reign art not known. However as he, too. Performed the horse sacrifice, probably he added to his inherited dominions.


Political Factors Responsible for the Decline of Gupta Empire

The last great king of the Gupta was Skanda Gupta was ascended the throne about 455 A.D. Even during the later years of Kumar Gupta’s reign, the empire was attacked by a tribe called Pushyamitra but it was repulsed, And immediately after the accession of Skanda Gupta, Hunas made inroads, but they too were repelled.

However, fresh waves of Invaders arrived and shattered the fabric of the Gupta Empire. Although in the beginning the Gupta king Skanda Gupta tried effectively to stem the march of the Hunas into India, his successors proved to be weak and could not cope with the Huna invaders, who excelled in horsemanship and who possibly used stirrups made of metal, Although the Huna power was soon overthrown by Yasodharman of Malwa, the Malwa prince successfully challenged the authority of the Guptas and set up Pillars of victory commorating his conquest (AD 532) of almost the whole of northern India. Indeed Yasodharman’s rule was short lived, but he dealt a severe blow to the Gupta empire.

The Gupta empire was further undermined by the rise of the feudatories. The governors appointed by the Gupta kings in north Bengal and their feudatories in Samatata or south-east Bengal broke away from the Gupta control. The later Gutpas of Magadha established their power in Bihar. Besides, the Maukharis rose to power in Bihar and Uttar Pradeshand had their capital at Kanauj. Proabably by AD 550 Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and passed out of gupta hands. And the rulers of Valabhi established their authority in Guajarat and Western Malwaa.

Economic Reasons For The Fall Of The Gupta Empire

After the reign of Skanda Gupta (467 AD) any Gupta coin or inscription has been found in western Malwa and Saurashtra. The migration of guild of Silk weavers from Gujarata to Malwa in AD 473 and their adoption of non-productive professions show that there was not much demand for cloth produced by them. The advantages from Gujarat trade gradually disappeared. After the middle of the fifth century the Gupta kings made desperate attempts to maintain their gold currency by reducing the content of pure gold in it. The loss of western India complete by the end of the fifth century, must have deprived the Gutpas of the rich revenues from trade and commerce and crippled them economically, and the princes of Thaneswar established their power in Haryana and then gradually moved on to Kanauj.

What Caused The Fall Of The Gupta Empire?

The causes of the downfall of disappearence of the Guptas were basically not different from those that brought the end many ancient and medieval dynasties. Over and above the usual causes of administrative inefficiency, weak successors and stagnant the fall of the Guptas: dynastic dissensions, foreign invasions and some internal rebellions.


There is evidence to show that following the death of Kumaragupta and Skandagupta, there were civil wars and struggles for the throne. For instance, wehave the successors of Buddhagupta, highlighting the rule of more than just one king. Those were Vinayagupta in Bengal and Bhanugupta in Iran.

Absence of law of primogeniture along with strong centralized authority in ancient and medieval periods led to chaos. Thus we see that the resources of the empire were frittered away in petty squabbles and wars for the throne.



Besides circumstances weakening the Gupta monarchy, the very personalities of the later Gupta Kings contributed to the ultimate fall of this dynasty. They were not only men of weak character but also some of them followed pacifies that affected other spheres of administration, particularly that of military efficiency.



Foreign invasions was the second major factor in the decline and disappearance of the Gutpas. The invasion of barbaric tribe Pushyamitra was not the decisive. A far more important invasion was that of the White Huns, who, after settling in the Oxus vally, invaded India. First appeared during the reign of Budhagupta. Again they reappeared under the command of Toramana who annexed a large portion of the north-western region including parts of Moder U.P. He followed by hisson, Mihirakula, who became the overlord of north India. Indeed he was defeated by Yashodharman of Malwa but the repercussions of these invasions were disastrous for the Gupta Empire.



As a result of the weakning of Central Authoriy a number of feudal chieftans, principally those of the north-western region, assumed the status of independent rulers might more some names in this regard such as Maitrakas (of Kathiawar), Panivarajaks (of Budndhelkhand), Unchkalpas, Laxman in Allahabad. Etc.

After the reign of Buddhagupta, the status of certain, governors of North Bengal and Yamuna – Narmada area around Magadh too assumed independence and became to be known as the later Guptas.


By far one of the most important rebellions was that of Yashodharman of western Malwa who became independent and established his kingdom. He defeated Mihirakula and seams to have made extensive conquests from the Himalayas to Brahamputra. However, his empire did not last very long. Nevertheless, it set a pattern for other feudal cheiftans, who in due course, broke away from Central authority.


Last but not the least, we might note that the change in the Gupta polity from one of militancy to that of pacifism greatly affected the composition of the empire. We do have instances where some of the later Gupta kings who changed from Hinduism to Buddhism and this was reflected inmate total military inefficiency of the later Guptas.


Effects Of The Fall Of The Gupta Empire

Apart from these three major groups of causes, that led to the final disappearance of the Gupta empire, it is to be borne in mind that no empire after the Mauryas was a reality. Very often they were total fictions. With the disappearance of the Mauryan empire no empire in its full connotation came into existence in India since we had no tradition like that of the Greeks where it is held that the State comes into existence for the necessities of life but continues to exist for the good of life, and man, by nature, is a political animal. Somehow, after the Mauryan era the thinking of India became apolitical. The first factor that contributed for this outlook of Indians was the emergence of feudalism about which evidence is there from the days of the Satavahanas. This tendency grew in the Christian ara and was firmly established by the seventh century AD.

Along with this development one more saboteur of political consciousness was the religious perception of ancient Indians. Beginning before the Christian are it came to be gradually established that the kingship has its own dharma known as rajya-dhrma while the people had a handul of dharmas like varnashrama dharma and the grihadharma. All these dharmas led the individual loyalty or perception towards a non-political entity. This thinking is given religious sanction by the priestly order. This thinking is given religious sanction by the priestly order of the day. Thus the State never was the architectonic factor in the life of ancient Indian except during the Mauryan era. It is this perception of ancient India that made the emergence and disappearance of hundreds of States mere non-events.


The two hundred years of Gupta rule may be said to mark the climax of Hindu imperial tradition. From the point of view of literature, religion, art, architecture, commerce and colonial development, this period is undoubtedly the most important in Indian history. The Guptas inherited the administrative system of the earlier empires. The Mauryan bureaucracy, already converted into a caste, had functioned with impartial loyalty under succeeding empires. Under the Guptas we have direct allusions to viceroys, governors, administrators of provinces, and of course to ministers of the imperial government. The Mahamatras or provincial viceroys go back to the Mauryan period and continue, in fact, up to the twelfth century as the highest ranks in official bureaucracy. The position of Kumaramatyas, of whom many are mentioned, is not clear as we know of them in posts of varying importance. The gramikas or the village headmen formed the lowest rung in the ladder. Uparikas or governors were also appointed to provinces. In the Damodarpur plates we have mention of an uparika named Arata Datta who was governing like police chiefs, controller of military stores, chief justice (Mahadanda Nayak) leave no doubt about the existence of an organized hierarchy of officials exercising imperial authority in different parts of the country.

1. Monarchs took high sounding titles – Supreme Lord and Great King of Kings – the empire had a philosophy called imperialism but unfortunately it only touched the social and cultural fields it had no political objectives.

2. King was at the apex – princes often Viceroys. Queens were learned. Kumaradevi of Chandragupta I and Dhruvadevi of Chandragupta II appear o the coins.

3. Council of Ministers were often hereditary – Harisena and saba of Chandragupta II were military generals. Very often, ministers combined many offices – some ministers accompanied the king to the battles. Chief Ministers headed the Ministry.

4. Central Government – each department had its own seal – number of Mahasenapatis to watch over feudatories – foreign ministers like Sandhi proably supervised the foreign policy towards the feudastory states.

The whole organization was bureaucratic as in the case of Mauryas. To some extent, the adminstration mellowed with the Guptas – Police regulations were less severe – capital punishments rare. Glowing tributes were paid to the Gupta administration by Fahien. There was no needless intereference of the government in the lives of people. It was temperate in the repression of crime and tolerant in matters of religion. Fahien could claim that he pursued his studies in peace wherever he chose to reside.

Provincial administration – known as Bhuktis or Deshes. Officers very often of royal blood – maintained law and order and protected people against external aggression – also looked after public utility services.

Bhuktis were divided into groups of districts called Pradeshes. Pradeshas were divided into Vishyas or districts. The head of the districts was Vishayapati. Probably the provincial head was assisted by various officials.

Damdoar plate inscription mentions number of functionaries – chief banker, Chief Merchants, Chief Artisan, Chief of the writer class etc. Whether they formed part of the non-official council of the districts or were elected is not known.

Districts divided into number of villages – villages being the last unit. Villages looked after houses, streets, tmples banks etc. – each village had its own weavers, black-smits and gold-smiths, carpentaers etc.

Village headmen known as gramike was assisted by a council called Panchamandali. Each village had its own seal.

Towns looked after by Purapalas – town councils.

A very revealing feature of the administration was the payment of grants in land instead of salaries. Only personnel of the military service were paid cash salaries. The grants in land were of two kinds. The agrahara grant was only to brahmins and it was tax-free. The second variety of land grant was given to secular officials either as salary or as reward for services. Both these practices were widely used as the time passed by. These grants definitely weakened the authority of the king. Although technically the king could cancel the grants, he could not do so as the time passed by.

11. Not enough evidence on taxation. Officials on tour were provided free rice, curd, milk, flowers, transport, etc. Perhaps they were like modern day officials at the districts level, Local people paid the expenses for apprehending criminals. 12. Three varieties of land – waste land belonging to State which was donated very often. The crown land war rarely donated. The third was the private land. Land revenue and various taxes from the land and from various categories of produce at various stages of production. 13. Administration was highly decentralized – police, control of military stores, chief justice, etc. Probably, recruitment ceased to be based on merit. 14. Parallelism of power – highest concentration and extensive decentralization. Such an administration required a good standing army and complicated system of checks and counter-checks.


  1. The Gupta age saw the acceptance of the Aryan pattern in northern India. The key status of the Brahmin was established. Good number of books re-written incorporating the view-point of the brahmins confirming the view that the status of the Brahmin was effective and powerful. Added to his, the increased granting of land to brahmins strengthened the pre-eminces of the Brahmin in society. The Brahmin thought that he was the sole custodian of Aryan tradition. Not only, this, the brahmins also monopolized knowledge and the education system.
  2. Also, in the Aryan pattern of a society the master of the house occupied higher status. This indicates the disappearance of the indigenous pre-Aryan culture. Luckily this patriarchal Aryan society did not spread to all parts of India as conflict between Aryan and non-Aryan cultures continued. Al though the patriarchal stamp of Aryan and non-Aryan society, as revealed by the low status of women, became increasingly evident, the opposite also appeared in the form of increasing worship of Mother Goddess and fertility cults. In a way, the imposition of Aryan pattern of society on classes other than those of upper castes was incomplete and uncertain. In the post-Gutan era more and more concessions were made to popular cults as borne out by the spread of Saivism and linga worship. Thus, the Aryan pattern of society could not take routes in the whole of India.
    Al though women were idealized in literature, they definitely occupied a subordinate position. Only upper class women were permitted a limited kind of education and that too only for enabling them to converse intelligently. Occasionally there are references of women teachers and philosophers. Some of the later day evil practices began to appear in this age. Early marriages appeared, and even pre-puberty marriages. It was also suggested that a widow should not only live in strict celibacy, but pre-ferably burn herself on the funeral pyre of her husband, according to Thapar evidence shows that this practice dates from 510 A.D. as stated in an inscription at era. It gradually came to be followed by the upper classes of central India to begin with and later in eastern India and Napal.
  3. Some of the towns of South Bihar were large like those of Magadha. People were generally rich and prosperous. Charitable institutions were numerous. Rest houses for travelers existed on the highways. The capital itself had excellent free hospital endowed by benevolent and enlightened citizens.
    Interestingly Pataliputra was still a city which inspired awe. Fahien was impressed by it particularly as it possessed two monasteries of interest. According to him, the monks were famous for their learning and students from all quarters attended their lectures. He himself had spent three years in the study of Sanskrit language and the Buddhist scriptures in Patiliputra. Fahien was tremendoulsly impressed by the palaces and halls erected during the time of Asoka in the middle of the city. According to him the massive stone-work adorned with sculptures and decorative carvings appeared to be the work of spirits beyond the capacity of human craftsmen.
  4. Fahien also recorded that on his journey from the Indus to Mathura and Yamuna he saw a large number of monasteries tenanted by thousands of monks. Mathura alone had 20 such institutions.
  5. It is said that people generally observed the Buddhist rule of life. The Chandalas or outcastes lived outside towns and cities. They were required to strik a piece of wood on entering to town or a bazaar so that people might not become polluted by contact with them. This particular observation shows that the manners and attitudes of people and government underwent a great change from the days of the Mauryas. It may be remembered that earlier the people of Taxila offered herds of fat beasts to Alexander to be slaughtered. Even Asoka did not forbid the slaughter of kine. Fahien observed that through out the whole country no body except the lowest out castes killed any living thing. Drank strong liquor, or ate onions and garlic. Probably this view of Fahien has to be taken with a pinch of salt. What all his remark conveys is that the sentiment of ahimsa was probably very strong in mid-India. Possibly, Fahien was only remarking on Buddhists.
  6. In the field of education the sciences of mathematics and astronomy including estrology, were pursued. The famous writers of the day were Aryabhata, Varahamihira, and a little later Brahmagupta. The first two writers definitely absorbed some Greek elements relating to their respective sciences. By the end of the sixth century India had devised the decimal system for the notation of numeral and employed a special sign for zero. This contribution of India to the world in the sphere of practical knowledge was used in inscriptions only a century after Aryabhata.
  7. The university at Nalanda became an educational center of international fame. Founded in the fifty century by one of the later Gupta emperors, it was endowed munificently by monarchs and rich men frol all parts of India and the Hindu colonies. Both Yuan-chwang and I-Tsing have left detailed accounts of their observations. We have also sufficient epigraphical and archaeological records to know more about it.
  8. Formal education was imparted both in brahminical institutions and in Buddhist monasteries. In the latter pupils lived for 10 years but those who sought to join the ranks of monk  remained for a longer period. Nalanda was the premier canter of Buddhist learning.
  9. Primarily formal education was limited to grammar rhetoric prose, composition, logic, metaphysics and medicine. It is interesting to observe that detailed works on veterinary science appeared and that too they primarily related to horses and elephants.
  10. Most of technical and specialized knowledge remained with guilds. Unfortunately, this knowledge was transmitted to younger generations on hereditary lines. This knowledge of the guilds has no contact with Brahmin institutions and Buddhist monasteries. Exceptionally the only one subject that brought the guilds and others close was mathematics. Understandably great advance was made in the field of mathematics.
  11. Dramatic entertainment was popular both in court circles and outside. Music concerts and dance performances were primarily held in well-to-do house holds and before discerning audience. The generality of people derived pleasure in gambling and in witnessing animal fights specially those, of rams, cocks and quails. Athletics and gymnastics were the well-known sporting tournaments of the day. At various festivals both religious and secular amusements of various kinds were witnessed by people. The festival of spring was an important event for merry-making. Al though Fahien says that vegetarianism was widely prevalent meat was commonly consumed. Wine both local and imported was drunk and chewing of beetle leaf was a regular practice.
  12. Caste and occupation were related although it was not very strictly maintained. There appears to be some improvement in the status of the shudra as compared to the Mauryan times. There was a clear distinction between shudras and slaves in the legal literature of the day. Also the term ‘dvija’ came to be restricted to Brahmins. The inscriptions of the day, however indicate that there was social mobility among the sub-castes.
  13. The legal text-books primarily base the mselves on the work of manu. The writers of the day were Yajnavalkay, Narada, Brihaspati, Katyayana. Joint family system was well-known.
  14. The first major works on astronomy were compiled earlier. Some of the fundamental problems of astronomy were tackled by Aryabhata. It was primarily because of his efforts that astronomy was recognized as a separate discipline. Aryabhata also believed that the earth was a sphere and the shadow of the earth falling on the moon caused eclipses. A near contemporary of Aryabhata was Varahamihira who divided the study of a stronomy into three distinct branches – astronomy, and mathematics, horoscopy and astrology.



    1. Trade reached its peak during the Gupta period. The annexation of the territory of the Satraps brought areas of exceptional wealth and fertility into the ordit of the empire. The State gathered abundant revenues in the form of custom duties at the numerous ports on the western coast like Broach Sopara, Cambay and a multitude center where most of the trade routes converged. The city of Jjjain is even now regarded as one of the seven sacred Hindu cities, slightly lower than that of Benaras in sanctity. The favoured position of the city made a succession of rulers embellish the city with various religious establishments.

    2. Guilds continued to be the nodal points of commercial activity. They were almost autonomous in their internal organization. The government respected their laws. The laws governing the guilds were made by a corporation of guilds in which each guild had a member. The corporation elected a body of advisers who functioned as its functionaries. Some industrial guilds like that of the silk weavers had their own separate corporations. It is also interesting to observe that the Buddhist Sangha was rich enough to participate in commercial activities. At places the Sangha acted as the banker and lent money on interest. This was in addition to their returns from land. They too took one sixth of the produce just as the State.

    The rate of interest varied. Very high rates of interest were no longer charged for overseas trade showing that there was increased confidence in that form of trade. Generally the rate was 20 per cent as against 240 of the earlier period. This lowering of the interest rate also reveals abundance of goods and conquest decrease in rate of profit.

    3. Textiles of various kinds were manufactured. The domestic market was considerable. They had also markets in foreign countries. Silk muslim calico, Linen, wool and cotton were produced in great quantities. Western Indian was known for silk weaving. By the end of the Gupta period there was an eclipse of this industry. Possibly the in creasing use of the central Asian route and the sea-routeut China might have caused this eclipse.

    However, ivory work remained at its peak and did stone-cutting and carving. In metal-work copper the chief items of production were those of copper, iron and lead. Bronze also began to be used. The pearl-fishers of western India reaped huge profits in foreign markets. A great variety of precious stones like jasper, agate quartz and lapis-lazuli were exported. Pottery indeed remained the most important part of industrial production although the earlier elegant black polished were was no longer produced.

    For carrying goods pack animals and ox-drawn carts were used. In certain areas elephants were used for transport. The Ganges, Yamuna, Narbada, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri were the maij waterways.

    There was some change in the items of trade as compared to the preceding period. Chinese silk was imported in great quantities. So was ivory from Ethiopia. The import of horses from Arabia. Iran and Bactria increased during this period.

    Regarding over-seas trade ships regularly crossed to Arabian Sea the Indian Ocean and the China Seas. Indian trade contacts with East Africa were continued.

    It is strange to observe that in the period when commercial activity was at its apex the law-makers declared travel by sea a taboo and a great sin. Ritual purity became an obsession with both brahmins and upper castes. It was held that travel to distant lands would lead to contamination with the mlechhas (impure and non-caste people). Thapar observes that this ban had an indirect advantage to the Brahmin in the sense that it curbed the economic power of trading community.

    4. It is generally held that the peoples standard of living was very high. The prosperous urban dwellers lived in comfort and ease. Indeed there was a wide variation in the pattern of living. Out-castes were made to live on the out skirts of towns. Also there was no change in the standard of living of villagers as known from the accounts of foreign travelers.

    The daily life of a comfortably well-off citizen in towns is described in the Kamasutra. The citizen led a gentle existence devoted to various refinements of life. in social gatherings poetic recitations and compositions were heard. Music was another necessary accomplishment particularly the Playing of veena. The sophisticated townee has to be trained in the art of love and for this purpose the Kamasutra and other books of the same kind were written. It is also said that the courtesan was a normal feature of urban life. According to the Kamasutra the occupation of a courtesan was very demanding profession. “She was often called upon to be a cultured companion like the geisha of Japan or the haetaere of Greec”.


    Out knowledge of the development of Sanskrit literature in the early centuries A.D. is based

    on writings from the Gupta period. However, tradition associates the work of Ashvaghosha and out-standing writer and play

    Wright, one of the founders of Buddhist Sanskrit literature and a major philosopher- with the reign of Kanishak (the early second century AD). Many of his works remain unknown, but fragments of the following poems in Sanskrit have been preserved: Buddhacharita (“A life of the Buddha”) Saundarananda (Sundari and Nanda) and the drama shariputraprakarana. (A drama dealing with Shariputra’s Conversion to Buddhism). In ancient India these works of Ashvaghosha had enjoyed wide popularity and the Chinese pilgrim I-tsing who visited India in the seventh century wrote that the “poem” so gladdened the heart of the reader that he never tired of repeating it over and over again.

    Although the Buddhacharita and the Shariputraprakarana treated only Buddhist themes and

    propagated the teaching of the Buddha they possessed artistic qualities. Ashvaghosha adheres to the epic tradition and his characters lives are filled with drama and rich emotional experience.

    In his plays Ashvaghosha lays the foundation of ancient Indian drama which was to come into its own in the works of such writers as Bhasa, Kalidasa and Shudraka. Thirteen plays are attribute to Bhasa but it is as yet difficult to establish which of these early were written by this remarkable dramatist. Bahsa also made use of the epic tradition, although his plays were constructed strictly according to the laws of classical drama. Some modern scholars maintain, and with ample justification, that a number of the plays attributed to Bhasa are the most ancient moderls of Indian tragedy. This was, there is not doubt a bold innovation on the part of Bhasa who thus defined established artistic canon. This trend in ancient Indian drama was developed by the Shudraka, author of the play Mrichhakatiak (The title Clay Cart), which tells of the ardent love of an impoverished merchant for a courtsan.

    Possibly the greatest in ancient Indian literature is the work of Kalidasa, (late fourth-early fifth century), poet and dramatist, whose wrirtings represent an illustrious page in the history of world culture. Translations of Kalidasa’s works penetrated to the West at the end of the eighteenth century and were well received.

    There is good reason to believe that Kalidasa was native of Mandasor in Malwa. It is, therefore, argued that he was brought up in close touch with the court of Ujjain, an active center of commercial and economic activity in western India. Kalidasa’s early descriptive poems, the Ritussamhara and the Meghaduta probably belong to the reign of Chandragupta-II, and his dramas to that of Kumaragupta.

    It appears that Kalidasa was a prolific writer but as year scholars have only discovered three plays : Shankuntala, Malavikagnimitra, Vikramorvashi (Urvashi won by Valour), the poem Meghadutta (the Cloud Messenger) and two epic poems : the Kumarasambhava (the Birth of Kumara) and Raghuvansha (Raghu’s Line)

    The core of all Kalidasa writings is man and his emotions, his wordly concerns, his joys and sorrows, His work represents a significant step forward in comparison with the writings of Ashavaghosha who depicted in idealized image of the Buddha and his faithfull disciples. Many of Kalidasa’s heroes are kings: the poet not only extolled their exploits, but he also condemned their ignoble deeds. Some of Kalidasa’s works bear witness to the growth of the epic poem, the so-called mahakavya. Both in his plays and poems Nature and Man’s emotions are distinguished by their lyric quality and humanism. Without swerving from earlier traditions Kalidasa stood out as an innovator in many respects.

    Also, the very fact that tragic themes do not figure with the exception of Mrichcha Katika by Shudrak shows that the higher strata of society primarily sought entertainment.

    In ancient India considerable advances were also made by the theator. In the Gupta age special treatises concerning dramatic art started to appear, which provided detailed expositions of the aims of the theratre and theatrical

    entertainments, the various genres used in thetheatre etc.

    When ancient Indian plays first made their way to Europe, many scholars wrote that the Indian theatre owed its roots to ancient Greece. However it has since emerged beyond

    doubt that the theatre in India came into being quite independently. More over Indian the atrical tradition goes further back than that of ancient Greece and is much richer as far as theory is concerned.

    In the Gupta age the earliest of the Puranas were compiled. These collections of legends about gods, kings and heroes that embody the mythological and cosmological ideas of ancient Indians were compiled over a very long period and subjected to far-reaching editing and modification.

    Some of the Dharmashastras such as the Laws of Yajnavalkya (third century AD) or the laws of Narada (fourth and fifth centuries AD) also date from the early centuries AD. Worthy of note among the landmarks of Sankrit literature is the Panchatan to (third and fourth centuries AD) a collection of tales and pafables which is very popular both in India and beyond its borders. In the early Middle Ages translations of this work appeared in Pehlevi, Syriac and Arabic. In the Middle East the collection was known as all the influence of the Panchatantra on both Eastern and Western literature was considerable.

    It was also in the Gupta period that the first works of literature from Southern India written in Tamil appeard. One of the most famous these early works in Tamil was the Kural a collection of parables. The compilation of which is traditional ascribed to a representative of the farmers’ caste, Triuvalluvar.The Kumar was undoubtedly based on material derived from folklore and already in ancient times won enormous popularity. In the fourth and fifth centuries A.D. Collections of Lyrical poems in Tamil also appeared. The literature of other south Indian appear later in the early Middle Ages.

    In the end it may be noted that both Sanskrit poetry and prose were greatly encouraged through royal patronage. However it was literature of the elites since Sanskrit was known only to them but not to the people. The Sanskrit plays of this period show that the characters of high social status speak Sanskrit: whereas those of lower status and women speak Prakrit. This particular feature throws light on the status of Sanskrit and Prakrit in society.


    The glorious of the Gupta age proper (C. 350-650) have been made permanent through the visible creations of its art. Different forms of art, e.g. sculpture painting and terra-cotta attained a maturity balance and naturalness of exoression that have for ever remained unexcelled. Some of our most beautiful monuments representing the very acme of India’s artistic achievement among which the immortal Ajanta murals take precedence constitute the cultural heritage of the Gupta period.

    It is contended that during the Gupta period the proto-type of Hindu temple came into existence. It is rather unfortunate that many of the temples were destroyed by the iconoclasm of Muslims in the first few centuries of the second millennia. Whatever that remains of the Gupta temples the practice of keeping the principal image in the Garbha-griha (womb-house) began from this period. The structure it self was enclosed by a courtyard which in the later period housed a complex of shrines. Also it is from the Gupta period that temples came to be largely built in stone leading to the evolution of the monumental style in Hindu architecture.

    This practice of free standing temples was not taken up by the Buddhists. They continued to excavate hills. Some of their caves ore richly adorned with paintings like those of Ajanta. In the field of art the Gupta age witnessed classical levels in music. Architecture, sculpture and painting. The Gupta sculptures exhibit a gracious dignity never to be repeated again in Indian sculpture. Plain robes flowing over the bodies appear as though they are transparent. Transparent drapery is used not to reveal the charms of the flesh but to conceal them. If the schools of Bharhut, Sanchi and Mathura are marked by a sensual earthiness and that of Amravati by vital excited movement the Gupta sculpture suggests serenity and certitude.

    It is however in the field of sculpture that classical heights were reached in the Gupta period. The Buddha images at Sarnath reflect serenity and contentment mirroring the religious atmosphere of the age. This practice of carving images was picked up by Hinduism also. Since Hinduism created the image as a symbol the image are not representational created the image as a symbol the images are not representational just like those of Buddhism. The Hindu gods of the Gupta period were primarily incarnations of Vishnu.

    The Gupta sculptural style probably grew out of the Kushan style that survived at Mathura. In early fifty century a distinctive icon was greated. It is represented by a red sand-stone figure of a standing Buddha with an immense decorated hallow. The tension which activated earlier tranquility, a spiritual other worldliness which is the hallmark of the Gupta Buddhist.

    According to authorities the Mathura style was refined and perfected at Sarnath. A great number of Buddhist eculptures were unearthed here. One unique group is known as the ‘wet Buddhas’ because the sculptures look as if they have been immersed in water. The Mathuran string fold motif is omitted and the sheer muslim Sanghati appears to cling to the body and reveal its basic form.

    A great example of Gupta sculpture created at Sarnath is that of the seated Buddha preaching the Law, carved of Chunar sandstone. This piece harmonises refined simplicity and Indian love of decoration. This particular image influenced India and also had a significant and lasting effect on brahminical art. In this sculpture the Buddha is seated as a yoqi on a throne and performs the Dharms Chakri mudra.

    From the end of the fifth century on first under the on-slaught of the Huns and later with the advent of Islam, many of the products of the Gupta art, both Buddhist and Hindu were destroyed.

    A remarkable piece of Gupta metal-casting found at Sultanganj in Bihar is nearly feet high. Another metal figure but of a smaller size in bronze was found in U.P.

    A group of small ivory images of Buddhas and Bodhisattavas founding the Kashmri area are prime examples of late Gupta art from about the eighth century.

    Now for brahminical art. Even during the Kushan period sculptures of Hindu subjects such as the Sun God Surya and of Vishnu were produced at Mathura and else where. During the Gupta period an major group of brahminical sculptures appeared dealing with the various aspects of Vishnu. In the Udaigiri rock-cut shrine near Bhopal Vishnu is presented as the cosmic boar Varaha. The figures of Yakshi were also culled in the Udaigiri shrine. They now appear as river deities. This transformation can be clearly seen in a figure from the doorway of a Gupta temple at Besnagar nearby. It appears to represent the sacred river Ganga. The goddess stands in the classic tribhanga.

    Paramount among Hindu sculptures of the Gupta period are the reliefs on the exterior walls of the ruins of the Dasavatara Temple at Deogarh near Jhansi. Vishnu is shown asleep on the coils of the giant multi-headed serpant Ananta. Brahma is depicted separately seated on a lotus blossom. In the upper reaches of the relief deities including Indra and Shiva are represented. At the base of this sculptural relief there is a panel depicting events from the epic poem the Ramayana.

    Also it is interesting to note that the earliest surviving examples of painting in Ajanta Caves belong to the Gupta period. In Cave 1 we see Gupta architecture wrought from solid stone. This cave is also a virtual museum of Buddhist art. From every part of the cave we see paintings depicting the rich and complex Buddhist world of the late fifth century. The subject matter of the paintings is the various lives and icarnations of the Buddha as told in the Jataka tales. The Bodhisattava Padmapani in the tribhanga pose of sculpture holds a blue lotus. This figure expresses remote calm. The absence of shadows suggests an unworldly light. This light is present in all the paintings of Ajanta and is partly the result of the techniques used by the artists.

    Another elegant Bodhisattava figure in Cave in is shown surrounded by his queen and ladies of the court. It recreates an episode from the Jataka story. In cave 19 we have a fully developed Chaitya façade to Gupta style. It has over-abundance of Buddha images.




    The characteristic features of Gupta art are refinement or elegance simplicity of expression and dominant spiritual purpose. An ensemble of these characteristics give Gupta art an individuality. In the first place this art is marked by refinemnt and restraint which are the signs of a highly developmed cultural taste and aesthetic enjoyment. The artist no longer relies on volume to give an impression of grandiose but focuses his attention on elegance with is not lost in the exuberance of ornaments. The keynote of his art is balance and freedomfrom the dead weight of conventions. The dictum is at once apparent if we compare the standing life-size figure of the Gupta Buddha of Yasadinna with the colossal standing Bodhisttava in the Sarnath Museum both from Mathura and in red sand stone.

    Another characteristic of Gupta art is the concept of beauty for which we have a very appropriate term rupam used by Kalidasa. The men and women in this art-loving age applied the mselves to the worship of beautiful form in many ways. But aesthetic culture did not weaken the strong structure and stamina of life or bedim its supreme objective of yielding to the riotous worship of the sences. Art was worshipped in order to deepen the consciousness of the soul and awaken it to a new sense of spiritual joy and nobility. Kalidasa the supreme genius and poet of this age has expressed this attitude of life devoted to beauty in a sentence addressed to Paravati the goddess of personal Charm by her consort Siva: ‘O fair damsel the popular saying that beauty does not lead to sin is full of unexceptional truth’. The path of virtue is the path of beauty- this appears to be the guiding impulse of life in the Gupta age. To create lovely forms and harness them to the needs of higher life – this was the golden harmony that made Gupta art a thing of such perpetual and in-exhaustible attraction.


    Both Buddhism and Hinduism were widely prevalent. The characteristic features of Hinduism enabled it to survive till today; whereas the new features of Buddhism led to its final decline. Although Buddhism still appealed in matters of ritual making it to be regarded as a sect of the latter. Jainism escaped from this fate. It remained unchanged; and there fore it continued to be supported by the merchant communities of western India. Added to this in some areas of the Deccan royalty patronized Jainism although it ceased in the 7th century A.D.

    Although Buddhism gradually declined with in the country it spread beyond the frontiers of India first to central Asia and then to China and also to South-East Asia.

    A far more important development of the 5th century was the emergence of a curious cult associated with the worship of women deities and fertility cults. These became the nucleus of a number of magical rites which later came to be known as tantricism Buddhism too came under this influence leading to the evolution or a new branch of Buddhism in the 7th century called vajrayana of Thunderbolt Vehicle Buddhism. In this Buddhism female counterparts came to be added to the male figures known as taras. This particular cult exists even tody in Nepal and Tibet.

    Devi worship – the cult of the mother goddess the oldest of all religious – also seems to have received the imprimature of orthodoxy during this period. We have the avidence of Gunadhya that tantric forms of worship were prevalent in the first century B.C. Kalidasa himself seems to have been a worshipper of the Devi. His name itself proclaims it as it is obviously an assumed one which means the servant of Kali. Besides the benedictory verse in Raghuvamsa clearly states the Sakta doctrine of the indivisibility of Siva and parvati. The God Mahakala of Ujjain whose worship the poet describes with manifest devotion was as we known from Gunadhya’s story incorporated in Kathasarit Sagara adorned with tantric rites. In fact not only the different modes of Devi worship but the ceremonials of the tantric system in their various forms were well-known in the Gupta period.

    While the above developments occurred in Buddhism and Jainism Hinduism developed some distinct characteristics which exist even till today. The first is the worship of images which superseded sacrifices. The sacrifices of the olden days were transformed into symbolic sacrifices into the images in the poojas. This naturally led to the decline of the priests who were dominant in sacrifices. Worship of god indeed became the concern of the individual but regulating individual social behaviour still remained the concern of the Brahmin. Man-made traditions of the past began to be treated as sacred laws. Orthodoxy attempted to maintain its power by rigid rules of exclusion. However seeing the difficulty of enforcing the sacred laws a more broad frame of difference came to be evolved as the four ends of man-religion and social law (dharma) economic welfare. (artha) pleasure (kama) and salvation of the soul (moksha). Then onwards it is being maintained that a correct balance of the first three could lead to the fourth.

    Among those who practiced religion in a serious manner two sects came into existence – Vaishnuvism and Shaivism. Broadly speaking the first was mostly prevalent in northern India while the second in southern India. At this time the tantric beliefs left their mark on Hinduism. Shakti cults came into existence the subtle idea being that the male can be activated only by being united with the female. It was thus that Hindu gods acquired wives and both came to be

    worshiped. Apart from tantricism the appearance of this feature of Hinduism was probably promoted by the persistence of the worship of the mother Goddess which probably could be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization.

    Along with these developments the ground was prepared for the concept of svataras also. Hindu thinkers evolved the concept of cyclical theory of time. The cycle was called a kalpa. The kalpa itself is divided into fourteen periods. At the end of each period, the universe re-emerges with Manu, the primeval men. Each of these kalpas is further divided into great intervals and ultimately into Yugas or periods of time. As per the concept of this theory of time we are in the fourth of the Yugas, that is, the Kaliyuga with which the world will its end. The Kaliyuga is also associated with which the world will reach its end 10 the 10th incarnation of Vishnu.

    All these developments in Hinduism were associated with disputations between Buddhists and brahmins. These debates centred around six systems of thought which came to be known as the six systems of Hindu philosophy – Nyaya or analysis based on logci, Vaisheshika or

    brood characteristics according to which the universe is composed of atoms as

    distinct from the soul’ sankhya or enumeration recognizing dualism between matter and soul or athemeis, yoga or application relying on control over the body in order to acquire knowledge of the ultimate law of the Vedas as opposed to pose-Vedic thought, and Vedanta to refute the theories of non-Vedas. As known from the above analysis the first four schools are empirical in nature, whereas, the latter two are metaphysical. In later ages mimamasa and Vedanta gained over the others.

    The above discourses were at the elite level and the generally of people came to possess their own books of knowledge. The Puranas as known to us today were composed in this period historical traditions as recorded by the brahmins. They were originally composed in parts but in this period they came to be re-written in

    classical Sanskrit. Later, knowledge relating to Hindu sex, rites and customs came to be added to them in order to make them sacrosanct.




    Introduction :

    Not a golden age but it was a period consummation.



    Administration :

    Administration was not found overnight. Began with Bimbisara and elaborated by the Nandas and then inherited by the Mauryans. Such was the legacy of the Gupta’s Mahamatras and the provincial viceroys were inherited from the Mauryan system. Mauryan administrative system became mellowed – less sever punishment one – sixth of the land produce.





    (a) Capitalism emerged in the Mauryan period along with the guilds and ports.

    (b) Trad with west on a grand scale.

    (c) Material prosperity was reflected in the art and architecture of the period.

    (d) Use of the silk was common.

    (e) Use of intoxicants by the rich was popular.

    (f) Prosperity was not achieved overnight trade routes during the time of the Sakas and the Kushanas.




    (a) Udayana of Kausambi, 6th century B.C. (Veena – Buddhist books talk of palaces, gardens and Chaityas.

    (b) Artistic tradition goes back -the stupas of Sanchi and Bharhut, the chaityas of Ajanta, Nasik and Karle the rock-cutcaves of Barabar, and the vihara caves of Udaigiri, Khandagiri and Ajanta.

    (c) In the first century AD Mathura art became active. It was the Mathura school that first created images of the Buddha. It was also patronized by the Kushanas as borne out by a series of portraits of the Kushana kins.




    They key note of Gupta art is balance and freedom from convention – a ment between the right of naturalism and the bizarre symbolism of medieval art. In the beginning, the temple was in the form of leafy bower, than a hut of reeds, and then a cellarof wood and bricks. In the Gupta period appears garbha-griha having a small door as entrance – interior walls are bare whereas the exterior are richly carved – Tigowa temple in Jabalpur district, Narasimha temple in Eran and the Udayagiri Sanctuary near Sanchi.

    The Gupta sculpture was an improvement over the Gandhara sculpture. Their sculptures show close fitting garments and decorated haloes, sculptures also appear in the form of relief on temples. Carved brick work and the terracotta panels in the Bhitoragaon temple. Deogarh temple – a panel representing Vishnu reclining or Ananta – Shiva as a Yogi in this temple is a masterpiece – the same category of the cave temples in the Udayagiri hills. Buddhist sculptures in thisperiod had grown typically India. The Buddha of alm repose and mild serenity and abandonment of drpery of the Gandhara art, a floral decoration showing the triumph of indigenous tradition, seated images of the Buddha preaching are of great delicacy. Metal images of the Buddha at Nalanda.

    The Gupta coins also reached classical levels : one side portrait of the king and there verse side appropriate goddess with symbols. Monarchs in various postures : feeding a peacock, shooting a tiger, playing on Veena. The quality of line drawn on the coins and their metallurgical skill are of higher level.

    Number 16 and 17 cave-paintings of the Ajanta, the finest belong to this period. These two paintings constitute a culmination of classical Indian paintings – resemblance to Sigiriya frescoes.


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