Some 500 years after the collapse of Mauryan empire,a new dynasty called Guptas arose in Magadha and established its control over the greater part of india(through their empire was not as large as that of Mauryas).
This period is also referred as the “classical Age”or “Golden Age “ of ancient india.
He was the first gupta ruler to assume the title of Maharajadhiraja .
He strengthened his kingdom by matrimonial alliance with the powerful family of Lichchhavis,who were the ruler of He married to Lichchhavis princess kumaradevi ,brought an enormous power, resources and prestige.He took advantage of the situation and occupied the whole of the fertile Gangetic Valley .
He started Guptas Era in 319-20 AD.
Samudragupta was perhaps the greatest king ofGupta dynasty .
His name appeared in Javanese text Tantrik amandaka, and Chinese Writer ,Wang Hiuen-Tse refers that an ambassador was sent to his court by king Meghvarma of Sri-Lanka, who had asked his permission to build a Buddhist monastery at Bodh Gaya for the monks travelling from sri Lanka.The most detailed and authentic record for his reign is preserved in the Allahabad pillar inscription ,composed by his court of poet Harisena.
Samundragupta believed in polity of war and conquest and has been termed as the Napoleon of india by Vincent A.Smith.
When he died his mighty empire bordered with kushan of western province (modern Afghanistan and Pakistan) and Vakatakas inDeccan(Modern southern Maharastra).Allahabad pillar inscriptions mention in the title Dharma Prachar.
Bandhu for him-that is he was unholder of Brahmanical religion.After all his military triumphs,he performed the Aswamedha,which is eveident on some of his coins.Ashwamedha gave him the coveted title of Maharajadhiraj.,the supreme king of kings.His greatest achievement can be described as political unification of most of the india or Aryavarta into a formidable power.
Coins-Archer type, tiger type and battle type. On some of his gold coins, he is represented playing the Veena.
Adopted the title of Mahendraditya.
Introduced worship of God Kartikeya.
Founded the monastry of Nalanda,which developed into a great center of learning.
Kalidas flourished in the reign of both kumargupta I and Chandragupta II.
The Brahamanas claimed many privileges on account of weath accumulated by land grants.
The position of Sudras improved in Gupta Period.They were now permitted to listen to the epics and purans.They could also worship lord Krishna and also allowed to perform certain domestic rites,which brought fees to priest.
This practice of untouchability became more intense than before. The untouchables especially Chanda/as increased in number.
Bronze image of Buddha recovered from Sultanganj.
Lofty stone images of Buddha at Bamiyan in Afganistan belonged to gupta period.
Among the best specimen of the images of Buddha is a seated Buddha image of Sarnath, which depicts the Buddha preaching the Dhamma.
For the first time we get images of Vishnu,Shiva and other gods.
The fragmentary remains of Vishnu temple at Deogarh is the example of the most ornate and beautifully composed Gupta temple building.
Another fine example of Gupta architecture is found in the Vaishnavite Tigawa temple at Jabalpur(415) AD).Bhita in Uttar Pradesh has a number of ancient Gupta Temples.Some of the caves at Ajanta may be assigned to the period of Guptas.
It was during the gupta rule that the village headmen became more important than before.
In towns, organized professional bodies (Guilds) were given considerable share in the administration ,Guilds of artians ,merchants and scribes conducted the affairs of the town.
The kumaramatyas were the most important officer of the gupta period ,who were incharge of several portofolios.it was from them the mantris, Senapati, Mahadandanayaka(Minister of Justice) and Sandhi Vigrahika (Minister of war and peace) were generally chosen.
The Gupta Military organization was feudal by character (though the emperor had a large standing army) .
Decentralisation of the administration authority began during the Gupta Age.
The Gupta Age also experienced an excess of land grants. Land grants included the transfer of royal rights over the salt and mines, which were under the royal monopoly during the maurya period.
Land taxes increased in number and those on trade and commerce declined in Gupta Period.
Varying from ¼ and 1/6 of the produce the king collected taxes.
In Gupta Period the army was to be fed by the people whenever it passed through the country side. This tax was called Senabhakta.
The villagers were also subjected to force labour called Vishti for serving royal army and Officials.
In the Gupta Period for the first time civil and criminal law were clearly defined and demarcated.
Under the patronage of Gupta ruler,Vaishnavism became very popular.
The god were activated by their unions with representative consorts.thus Laxmi got her association with Vishnu(Skandgupta’s time) and Parvati got association with Shiva(Kumargupta’s I time).
This was the period of evolution of Vajrayanism and Buddhist tantric cults.
Idol worship became a common features of Hinduism from Gupta Period onwards.
Position of Women
The position of women deteriorated further.
Polygamy was common.
The first example of Sati aapears in gupta time in 510 AD in Eran in Madhya pradesh.
The women of higher orders did not have access to independent source of livelihood.
Women lacked property rights .However Stri Dhan considered her property.
Trade and Coinage
In Gold content,Gupta coins are not as pure as Kushans
The guptas also issued a good number of Silver coins for local exchange
The Gupta Copper Coins are every few as campared to Kushanas ,which show that use of money did not touch common people
Gupta period witnessed decline in long-distance trade.
Trade with the Roman Empire declined after the third century AD.
Indian merchants began to rely more heavily on the south –east Asian trade.
Aryabhatta wrote Suryasiddhanra,which dealt with epicyclic revolution of earth,nature of eclipse,reckoning of time etc.
Aryabhatta calculated Pi as 3.1416 and the length of solar year as 365.358 days.
He postulated that the earth was sphere rotating on its own axis and revolving around the sun as well.He also postulated the exact cause of eclipses.
He Propounded the Heliocentric theory of gravitation,thus predating Copernicus by almost 1,000 years .
Aryabhattas Magnum Opus,the Aryabhattaiyam was translated into Latin as early as 13th Century