Before the Guptas :
Began with Panini – the Vakatakas and the Bharasivas (Nagas) patronized Sanskrit. The mahabashya of Patanjali was patronized by Pushyamitra Sunga – Patanjali refers to dramatic recitals of Kamasavadha. He also mentions of a poet of the second century B.C. Vararuchi who wrote in Kavya style. Susruta and Nagarjuna were well-versed in Sanskrit – Asvaghosha wrote Buddha Charita and Soundara Manda. Astadhyayi of Panini hints at the existence of dramatic literature. Kalidasa alludes to Sanksrit writers like Saumilla. Asvaghosha of the first century wrote dramas with Buddhist themes and this dramas were based on the norms laid down in Bharata’s Natyashastra.
During the Guptas :
Sanskrit ast he language of the elite Buddhists also used it. Kalidasa, the exponent of Kavya style – Ritusamhara and Meghadoot during Chandragupta II’s time. Kalidas was contemporary of Chandragupta II, Vikramaditya or Kumara Gupta I, His Meghadoot is a lyric of delicate beauty. Sahakuntalam in his great work. Vishakadatta is the author of Mudra-Rakshasa. Mrichakataka appeared in this period. Panchatantra was probably elaborated.
Before the Guptas : In religions filed also the Gupta age witnessed such standards which are till today accepted. Religions, too, like the other filed did not originate during the Gupta period but reached a donsummation. Worhip of Vasudeva in early fourth century B.C. – in the middle second century B.C. Heliodours erected a garudadhwaja. Dharam shastras and Grihyasutras emerged in the fourth century B.C. along with the laws of Manu. The Bharasisvas and the Vakatakas contributed to the Re-establishment of Aryan society and culture and performed Asvamedhas.
DURING THE GUTPAS :
(1) As idols became objects of worship, the sacrificial part of Hindu religion receded into the background. Pujas gained in importance as opposed to Yajnas. Images worship captivated the imagination of the people
(2) Redaction of thamajor Puranas and the Mahabharata. The Puranas created the necessary mythology while sculpture brought the deities to the homes of the common man. The essentials of the later day Hinduism appeared is a simple fashion in the Puranas.
(3) Vaishnavism and Shivism came into existence.
(4) Development of the tantric belief – emergence of the Shakti cult.
(5) With the development of the panthoon of gods in Hinduism the gods came to be attributed wives.
(6) The concept of Yugas was postulate during this period – at the end of each Yuga, the universe is recreated kaliyuga is associated with the coming of Kalikin, the would-be incarnation of Vishnu.
(7) Also, the six system of Philosophy came into existence. Nyaya lays stress on logic. Vaisheshika treats matter and soul as separate universes. Sankhya maintains the existence of 25 principles as the causes of creation – is essentially atheistic. Yoga stresses on the control of the body and senses leading to eternity – required knowledge of human anatomy. Meemasa ephasises the ultimate law of the Vedas and their rituals primarily supported by the brahmins. Vednanta is the metaphysical interpretation of the Vedas – the should be reached by the atman of each individual for salvation.
(8) Mahayana doctrine was the vogue of the day of this period. Buddhism developed its own tantrics – in the 7th century the Thunderbolt school added female counterparts to Buddhist pantheon known as Taras. Jainism was patronized by the merchant communities. A Jaina council was held at Valabhi in the sixth century and it finalized the Jaina canon.
Science : In the field of science, too, the Gupta period witnessed a conusmmeratino. The beginnings of science were far too ancient Metallurgical skill was known from the days of the Mauryas. The scientific knowledge of the Greeks was admired in the post-Gupta era. These beginnings reached a culmination during the Gupta period.
Most probably a few eminent ment of science belonged to his period. Aryabhatta was a methematician and he probably conceived the concept of zero. Arterya was a surgeon and he performed operations of Herina and catract. Varahminhira was as astronomer and he anticipated Copernicus. Probably, Charakha and Susruta, two authorities on medicines, belonged to this period.
(1) All was not well with the Gupta economic prosperity. After the Huna Invasions, trading activity with north-west came to a stop. Also goods from the Gangetic region could not be easily carried to the Western coast. This was one of the causes of the shift of trade towards South-East Asia.
(2) The administration of the Guptas was not as successful as that of the Mauryas. Autonomy granted to provinces, districts and villages. The local officials formed into cligues and very often offices became hereditary. Corruption was known. Officials were expected to be treated with rice, curd and flowers – the last time perhaps, had its own implications.
(3) Although Sanskrit drama attained great heights, some of the writings of the day show that they were only for a select few of society. Good number of legal codes were prepared like that of Yajnavalka, Narada, Barihaspati and Katyayand. The social system became very rigid.
(4) In matters of religion also decadent features started appearing. New cults emerged worshipping female deities. This became the nucleus for a number of magical rites which later came to be known as Tantricism.
(5) It was in the social field the institutionalization of difference between the castes had begun. In the dramatic wrirings of the day, the characters belonging to the upper state of society speak Sanskrit while those of the lower strapa and women speak Prakrit. The status of women declined because of the practice of early marriages. And most of the legal codes of the day reiterate the Brahmin view-point in all matters including the status of women. The lot of Shudras which was downgraded in the Maurya period was legalized. And the institution of untouchability was fully established.