Gupta Empire (400 – 600 AD)

Gupta Empire (400 – 600 AD)


Gupta Empire (400 – 600 AD)

  • On ruins of Kushan Empire rose Gupta Empire
  • Constituted majority of UP & Bihar
  • Main center of power at Prayag (Allahabad)
  • Founder of Gupta Dynasty was Sri- Gupta
  • Srigupta was succeeded by Ghatochkacha
  • Both of them were called Maharaja

Chandragupta 1

  • 1st to be called as Maharajadhiraja (Great king of kings)
  • Married Lichchhavi princess which gave him strength & prestige.
  • Considered to be founder of Gupta era as a mark of his ascension.
  • Mehraulli iron pillar inscriptions mentions his extensive quests.


  • Known as greatest ruler of Gupta dynasty & Napolean of India
  • Was opposite of Asoka & delighted in military conquest.
  • Inscriptions of his military conquest are mentioned (in Sanskrit with Nagari script) on same Allahabad pillar which carries inscriptions of peace-loving Asoka.
  • Samundragupta never knew any defeat & conquered east till Assam, west till eastern Afghanistan, North till Kashmir & south till Tamilnadu
  • Was a lover of art & literature, Self-proficient in music & poetry, hence called Kaviraja
  • Patronised many poets & scholars along with famous Harisena
  • Was an ardent follower of Vaishnavism but tolerant to other religions


Chandragupta 2 (Chandragupta Vikramaditya)

  • His reign saw high watermark of Gupta Empire
  • Extended his empire by military conquests & marriage alliances
  • Defeated Shakas in Malwa & Gujrat & conquered western seaport, henceforth, Ujjain became 2nd capital of Guptas, 1st being Prayag
  • His exploits as Chandra has been mentioned on Qutub iron pillar Delhi.
  • His reign at Ujjain court saw numerous scholars including “Kalidasa & Amarsimha”
  • It was his reign under which Chinese pilgrimage Fa-hsien / Fahien (399-414 AD) visited India.

Fall of Gupta Empire

  • Due to invasion of Hunas from central Asia
  • Due to rise of Yashodharman in Malwa
  • Due to dissention within the royal family & weak rulers
  • The later Gupta’s embraced Buddhism while their predecessors were staunch Hindus.

Gupta’s Administration

  • Unlike Mauryas, Guptas assumed titles like Parmeshwara, Maharajadhiraja & Paramabhattaraka
  • Provinces in Gupta’s period were known as Bhuktis & provincial governors Uparikas
  • King maintained close contacts with provincial administration through a class of officials called “Kumaramatyas” & “Ayuktas”
  • Provinces were divided into districts Vishayas under charge of Vishayapati
  • All foreign affairs were looked after by foreign affair minister known as “Sandivigraha”
  • Villagers were subjected to forced labour called Vishti for serving royal army & officials

Religion & Social Culture

  • Brahamans formed the top ladder & receive numerous gifts
  • Brahamanism reigned supreme during Gupta period & had 2 branches mainly, Vaishnavism & Shaivism, with former more prevalent (Bhagavatism)
  • Fahien accounts shows a decline of Buddhism in Gangetic valley but a few budhhist monks like Vasubandhu were patronised by Gupta kings

Art & Culture

  • Gupta age is called golden age of India in field of art, science & literature.
  • Nagara & Dravidian styles of art evolved during this period
  • Delhi iron pillar, 7 ½ feet Buddha statue & Deogarh temple are finest example of Gupta art
  • Mural paintings of Ajanta, which mainly depicted life stories of Buddha as in Jataka stories belong to this period (Paintings at Sigiria in Srilanka are influenced by Ajanta paintings)


  • Sanskrit became primary language in Gupta period
  • Ramayana & Mahabharata were compiled during this period
Kalidasa Abhigyanshakuntalam, Malvikagnimitram Vikramorvasiya, Kumarsambhava Raghuvamsa, Ritusamhara, Meghaduta
Vishakadatta Mudrarakshash & Devi – Chandraguptam
Vishnusharma Panchtantra stories
Sudraka Mrich – chakatika (Little clay art or toy cart)
Amarsimha Amarkosha (Lexicon in Sanskrit)
Dandin Kavyadarsa & Desa – Kumarcharita

Science & Technology

Aryabhatta Aryabhatiyam , Suryasidhhanta
Varahmitra Panch Sidhhanta (5 astronomical system)Brihadsamhita, Brihadjataka (Astrology)
Vagbhata Ashtangasamgraha (Summary of 8 branches of Medicine) 

Great Medical Trio of Ancient India → Charaka, Susruta & Vagbhata

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