Gupta Empire - Facts about Gupta Dynasty (NCERT Ancient History for UPSC)

In Ancient India, the Gupta Dynasty ruled the mid-to-late 3rd century (approximately) to 543 AD. Founded by Sri Gupta, the dynasty rose to fame with rulers like Chandragupta-I, Samudragupta, etc. An important topic in the History syllabus, it is also important for the IAS Exam. This article will provide you with NCERT notes on the Gupta Empire. These notes will also be useful for other competitive exams like banking PO, SSC, state civil services exams, and so on.

Aspirants can also refer to articles related to the Gupta Empire from the links mentioned in the table below:

Gupta Dynasty (UPSC Notes):- Download PDF Here

Origin of Gupta Empire

  • The Gupta Empire rose to prominence in 320 AD and spread to large parts of northern India, central and small parts of southern India.
  • The founder of the Gupta dynasty is Sri Gupta.
  • The original homeland of the Guptas is not known for certain. But they might have originated from Bengal. Some scholars think they are from Prayaga (Allahabad in UP).
  • They are thought to be either Brahmins or Vaishyas.

Gupta Empire - NCERT Notes on Gupta Empire| Gupta Empire's Territorial Extent

Gupta Empire – Kings

A brief about the kings of the Gupta dynasty is given in the table below:

Gupta Dynasty Kings Facts about Gupta Kings
Sri Gupta
  • Founder of Gupta Dynasty
  • Reign from 240 AD to 280 AD
  • Used the title of ‘Maharaja
Ghatotkacha
  • Son of Sri Gupta
  • Took the title of ‘Maharaja
Chandragupta I
  • Reigned from 319 AD to 334 AD
  • Started the Gupta Era
  • He assumed the title of ‘Maharajadhiraja
  • Married Lichchavi princess Kumaradevi
Samudragupta
  • Reigned from 335 AD to 380 AD
  • Called ‘Napolean of India’ by V.A. Smith (Irish Indologist and Art Historian)
  • His campaigns are mentioned in Eran inscription (Madhya Pradesh)
Chandragupta II
  • Reigned from 380-412 AD
  • Navratnas (9 Gems in his Court)
  • Took the title ‘Vikramaditya’
Kumaragupta I
  • Reigned from 413 AD to 455 AD
  • Founded Nalanda University
  • He was also called Shakraditya
Skandagupta
  • Reigned from 455 AD – 467 AD
  • Took the title of ‘Vikramaditya
  • Was a ‘Vaishnavite
  • Son of Kumaragupta
  • Repulsed an attack by the Hunas but this strained his empire’s coffers
Vishnugupta
  • Last known ruler of the Gupta Dynasty (540 AD – 550 AD)

Gupta Empire – Chandragupta I (320 – 335 AD)

  • Was the son of Ghatotkacha.
  • Acquired the strategically important Magadha kingdom on marriage to a Lichchhavi princess Kumaradevi.
  • He extended his kingdom through conquests. His territory extended from the Ganges River to Prayaga by 321 AD.
  • He issued coins in the joint names of his queen and himself.
  • He assumed the title of Maharajadhiraja (great king of kings).
  • He was successful in building a small principality into a great kingdom.
  • He is considered the first great king of the Gupta Empire.

Gupta Empire – Samudragupta (335 – 380 AD)

  • Son of Chandragupta I and Kumaradevi.
  • Was a military genius and was successful in adding many territories into the Gupta Empire.
  • The Allahabad inscription describes his bravery as composed by his court poet, Harisena. There it is said that he defeated nine kings of the Ganges Valley, twelve kings from the southern region, and eighteen forest tribes.
  • His region extended from the Himalayas in the north to the Krishna and Godavari Rivers in the south; and from Balkh (Afghanistan) in the west to Brahmaputra River in the east.
  • He was a follower of Vaishnavite Hinduism but was tolerant of other faiths. He gave permission to the king of Sri Lanka, Meghavarna to build a monastery in Bodh Gaya.
  • He was also called “Indian Napoleon” by art historian Vincent Smith.
  • He also performed Ashvamedha sacrifice. Hence, one of his coins refers to him as “the restorer of Ashvamedha.”
  • He was also called “Kaviraja” since he composed verses.

Gupta Empire – Chandragupta II (Reign: 380 – 418 AD)

  • Son of Samudragupta and his queen Dattadevi.
  • He was also known as ‘Vikramaditya’.
  • He further annexed territories including Saurashtra which gave him the western coastline.
  • He used matrimonial alliances to expand his kingdom. He established matrimonial alliances with the Nagas and the Vakatakas. He gave his daughter Prabhapavatigupta in marriage to Vakataka ruler of Maharashtra Rudrasena II.
  • He also annexed three Satrapa kingdoms and assumed the title Sakari (destroyer of the Sakas). He defeated the Saka king Rudrasimha III thus acquiring Saurashtra and Kathiawar.
  • Through the western ports, the kingdom’s prosperity grew through trade links with Roman Empires.
  • After East and West India, Chandragupta II defeated northern rulers also like the Hunas, Kambojas, Kiratas, etc.
  • He was a brilliant conqueror and an able administrator as well.
  • Like his father, he was a Vaishnavite but was tolerant of other religions.
  • His other names (as mentioned in coins) include Vikrama, Devagupta, Devaraja, Simhavikrama, Vikramaditya Sakari, etc.
  • His court had nine jewels or Navaratnas, nine people eminent in various fields of art, literature and science. This included the great Sanskrit poet Kalidasa, Harisena, Amarasimha (lexicographer) and Dhanvantari (physician).
  • Fa-Hien, a Buddhist from China visited India during his reign. He records the prosperity of the Gupta Empire.

Gupta Dynasty (UPSC Notes):- Download PDF Here

Candidates can refer to NCERT notes on Ancient History for UPSC for other related articles.

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