top of page



Chapter 20 : The Rise and Growth of the Gupta Empire


1. Background : Page 180 :

• After breakup of Mauryan empire, Satavahanas (in deccan +south) + Kushan (in North) - acted as stabilizing factor and gave political unity and economic prosperity. But these two empires ended at 3rd century A.D.

• On the ruins of these two, one empire (not large as maurya) but had its sway over the North india ( 335-455 BC) i.e., Guptas (of vaishya origin) .

• Original Kingdom of Gupta : UP + Bihar. They were probably feudatories of the Kushans ; (similarities between Gupta and Kushans)

Both knew the use of saddle, reins, buttoned-coats, trousers and boots ;  No importance for Horse chariots (with exceptions to few) and elephants but horsemen played important role. PAGE 180: • Material Advantages enjoyed by G.E. :  Their operations lay in Fertile land of Madhyadesha (Bihar and UP)  Iron ores of central India and Bihar  Trade with Byzantine empire (Eastern Roman empire) 2. Chandragupta I (A.D. 319-334) : • Important King in G.E. • Married Lichcchavi princess (from Nepal) 3. Samudragupta ( A.D. 335-380) : • SG – Son of C I – enlarged the GE enormously. • Opposite of Ashoka policy i.e., he believed in Violence and conquest (His poet - Harishena – wrote about his military exploits) PAGE 183 : • Allahabad Inscription (about peace by ashoka) – in the same inscription – he engraved about his conquests. • Places + Countries = conquered by SG can be divided into 5 groups. 5 GROUPS: 1. Ganga – Yamuna Doab 2. Eastern Himalayan states + Nepal, Assam +Bengal 3. Atavika Rajyas : (Forest Kingdom in Vindhyan regions) 4. 12 Rulers of Deccan and Southern India 5. Some Shakas, Kushans and Some rulers in Afghan

• His influence is present outside India • SG was requested by Meghavarman (ruler of SL) for permission to a Buddhist temple at Gaya. • SG – never defeated ; therefore he is known as Napolean of India. 4. Chandragupta II (A.D. 380-412) : PAGE 184 : • CG II – High watermark of G.E. • Empire Expansion : By marriage Alliance and Conquest. • CG II Married his daughter Prabhavati , who became virtual ruler of central india under Vakataka Kingdom - on the death of her Husband. • Captured Malwa (Ujjain –Capital) and Gujarat over the victory over shaka Kshatatrapas. • CII – had scholars : Kalidasa and Amarasimha + Fa-hien. 5. Fall of the Empire : Page 184 : • Invasion of Hunas – successors of Skandagupta failed to stop them. • By BC 485- Hunas occupied Malwa + Good portion of Central India + Punjab and Rajasthan. • Yashodharma of Malwa – belonged to Aulikara feudatory won over Hunas but his victory is short-lived and this meant severe blow to G.E. • Rise of Feudatories. • Difficulty in Maintaining a large Professional Army. • Decline in Foreign Trade. • Although G.E. Lingered till middle of 6th century it had vanishaed a century earlier.


Chapter 21 : Life in the Gupta Age


1. System of Administration : Page 186: • Gupta kings adopted pompous titles : Parameshwara maharajadhiraja and Paramabhattaraka. • Kingship – hereditary ; but absence of practice of primogeniture • Munificient gifts to Brahamanas – who compared their kings with God(Vishnu + Lakshmi[on gupta coins]) • Numerical strength – not known ; GE had standing army and supplied by feudatories. Horse archery = prominent military tactics. • Land taxes increased but the tax on trade and commerce was reduced. • Tax : ¼ to 1/6th of the produce. • Forced labour : Vishti (in central and western India) • Judicial system – well developed ; law books compiled; 1st time civil and criminal law demarcated. Laws on inheritance based on varna • Guilds flourished well. PAGE 187: • Bureaucracy – not elaborate as mauryas :  Important officers : Kumaramatyas. Paid in cash. Recruitment wasn’t confined to upper caste alone but offices became hereditary which weakened the royal control. • Organised system of Provincial and Local Administration.  Empire was divided into divisions (bhuktis) –under the charge of uparika.  Bhuktis – divided into districts (Vishayas) – under the charge of Vishayapati  Vishayas divided into villages - under the village headmen (they became important in G.E) ; assisted by elders ; no land transaction without their consent FEUDAL SYSTEM:  Urban Administration : Organised professional Bodies / had chief merchant /trader/artisan – their consent was necessary for land transactions. Guilds look after their members and punished them for violation of customs and law of the guild. This system was followed in North-Bengal, Bihar, UP and MP – where ruling is based on direct appointment of G.E.  3 OBLIGATIONS : In other areas - there were feudatory chiefs - carried out 3 obligations : Homage to sovereign by personal attendance of court/ paid tribute to him / presented to him daughters in marriages.  Grant of fiscal concessions to priests and administrators  Officers were paid in cash + gold. 2. Trends in Trade and Agrarian Economy : Page 188 : • G.E. issued largest number of Gold coins – Dinaras – portrayed Gupta kings love for war and art. Used to pay army, administration and sale and purchase of Land. • Exported silk to eastern roman empire • Emergence of Priestly Landlords at the cost of local peasants. 3. Social Developments : Page 189 : • Brahmana supremacy - they presented kings as gods - in return for land grants. • Their privileges –compiled in Narada smriti - law book of Narada. • Emergece of Numerous sub-castes. • Position of Shudras and Women – improved : as they can listen to Twin epics and Puranas. Can worship Krishna. Can do domestic rites. Represented as Agriculturalist (earlier – slaves) • Vaishya + Shudra women – out of their husband’s control – can do agricultural operations and domestic services. But number of Untouchables – increased esp.Chandalas. • Women were seen as property and should followed their husband in next world – i.e. immolation of widow. In some case i.e., they can remarry if their husbands – impotent, destroyed or dead or renouncer /excommunicated. • Women were dependant, no property rights, Although law stated that her stridhana can be utilised for her, but she wasn’t allowed to do so. 4. State of Buddhism :Page 191 : • No more royal patronage for Buddhism • However stupas + viharas = constructed + Nalanda (became imp. Buddhist education centre) 5. Origin and Growth of Bhagavatism : Page 192 : • Bhagavatism = worship of Vishnu or Bhagavat. • Vishnu = represented sun + fertility cult • By 2nd century – Vishna (vedic god) merged with Narayana (non-vedic tribal god called as Bhagavat and his worshippers : Bhagavatas) = Naryana-vishnu • Vishnu was also identified with Vrishni tribe legendary hero = Krishna-Vasudeva. This was shown in Mahabharata epic too. By 200BC- 3 streams of worshippers = became as one : Bhagavatism / Vaishanavism. • Bhagavatism – marked by Bhakti and Ahimsa. • Attracted foreigners ; important among traders and this shadowed Mahayana Buddhism. • It Preached Doctrine of Incarnation/ Avtara. • Vishnu - by 6th century – became trinity of Gods. (along with shiva and Brahma) • Bhagavata purana – important text to popularize him. Vishnusashsranama – for benefit of the Vishnu worshippers. • Agricultural festivals were held. • No persecution of followers of Buddhism and Jainism. 6. Art : Page 194 : • Gupta period = Golden Age of Ancient India. Issued largest number of gold coins. • Princes + Richer people = divert part of their income for Art and Literature. • SG – represented on his coins with lute (vina) + maintained 9 luminaries/ great scholars. • Buddhism impetus = resulted in creation of massive stones/cutting of beautiful caves/high stupas or relic towers [as dome like structures on round bases]. • Ajanta paintings - Greatest specimen of Buddhism during G.E. • 1ST time images of Vishnu, shiva and other Hindu Gods. • G.E. = Poor in Architecture. 7. Literature : Page 195 : • G.E. = Remarkable for secular literature. • 13 plays by Bhasa • The Mrichchhakatika/ Little Clay Cart – love of poor Brahmin with beautiful daughter of courtesan. • Works of Kalidasa : Abhijnanashakuntalam – Love of Dushyanta and Shakuntala. • Shankuntalam and Bhagavadgita translated to European. CHARACTERISTICS: • All are comedies, not a single tragedy. • Use of different language by upper (Sanskrit) and lower class(Pali)). • Religious literature with strong religious bias : PAGE 196 : • Twin Epics. • Puranas = for education and edification of common people. • Compilation of smritis and law books • Writing of commentaries. • Development of Sanskrit Grammar (based on Panini and Patanjali)\ • Amorakosha - by Amarasimha – a luminary of CG II. 8. Science and Technology : Page 196 : • Aryabhatiya –by Aryabhatta =Mathematics • Romaka Sidhanta = Astronomy (influenced by greek Ideas) • Bronze Images of Buddha • Iron Pillar at Mehruali in Delhi.

159 views0 comments

Courses Offered

UPSC Law Optional Mains course - preferr
UPSC Law Optional Mains course - preferr


bottom of page