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The Gupta Dynasty
Transcript of The Gupta Dynasty
The Gupta Empire reunified northern India in 320 CE. During the 200 year reign Ancient India expanded in Culture and Art. The Empire was believed to have been started by a wealthy family from Eastern Uttar Pradesh. Chandra Gupta I is given credit for establishing the dynasty. The Gupta Empire was at its most powerful stage during the Golden Age.
Society in the Golden Age was ordered to match with the Hindu beliefs. They had religious freedom and weren't very strict. They were also given free medical care. Criminals were not sentenced to death or punished but instead they were fined for their crimes. The people of the Gupta Empire were happy during this period of time.
The Gupta Empire’s social structure was based on the Caste system. The system is associated with Hinduism and was originally based on the person’s occupation. Later on, the system changed and each person was born into an unchangeable status.
The four different parts of the Caste system were:
1. Brahmin: The priests.
2. Kshatriya: The warriors and nobility.
3. Vaishya: The farmers, traders and artisans.
4. Shudra: Tenant farmers and servants.
The people who were born outside or below the system were called the “Untouchables”. People believed that if an “Untouchable” drunk water from a public well, he or she would pollute to water, therefore no one could use it. Most “Untouchables” were not even allowed to step foot in a temple to prevent ‘pollution’.
People who violated the social laws would be punished by being made into an “Untouchable”.
When the Gupta Empire had just been established, Buddhism was the main religion although a large group of people were practising the religion of Hinduism. As time passed and the empire grew bigger, Hinduism started to absorb some of the characteristics of Buddhism. Eventually it became the main religion of the Gupta Empire.
The main gods of the Hindu religion were:
- Brahma (creator)
- Vishnu (preserver)
- Shiva (destroyer)
Although Buddhism gradually faded away, it quickly spread to central,
China and then to South- East Asia.
Samudragupta introduces the gold coin
Chandragupta II takes the throne
Vaishnavite Tigawa temple at Jaeal Pur is built.
Chandra Gupta I founded the Gupta dynasty and the Golden Age starts.
Samudragupta takes the throne.
Kumaragupta I takes the throne
Sumadragupta took over his father, Chandragupta in 335. Early in his reign, he took over many kingdoms and by his death in 380; he had successfully incorporated over twenty kingdoms in his empire. He gave himself titles such as King of Kings and World Monarch.
Sumadragupta was a great supporter of art and literature and was a poet and musician.
He had a strong belief in Hinduism and is known to have worshipped Lord Vishnu (preserver). He was also very considerate of other religions.
Sumadragupta followed the policy of ‘Dig-Vijaya’ in which the opposing rulers were defeated, captured and then liberated. He created a Southern campaign in which he planned to take over as many kingdoms as possible, to extend the Gupta Empire. During this campaign he successfully defeated twelve kings.
Map of Gupta Empire
The entire Indian subcontinent including the present day Sri Lanka comes under the Gupta Control.
Invasion of the Huns
Karmaragupta defeated the Huns but were not able to capture them
Most of the North west of the Empire is conquered by the Huns.
540 -550 CE
Invasion of the Huns lead to decline of the Gupta Empire
540 CE - 550 CE
Invention of the Gold Coins
During the Gupta Dynasty the gold coin that was made was called Dinara named after the Roman currency Denarius aureus. Even though the coin was named after the Romans the designs were completely Indian. The unique coin design shows a horse. This was to show respect for the horse sacrifice.
During this ritual a stallion was released to wander for a year out in the open. The Royal court followed it made sure it didn't mate. At the end of the year the horse was looked after by Royal women and then sacrificed by the King using a gold dagger. The other side of the coin shows a goddess, most likely the goddess of good fortune.
Chandragupta II ruled from 380-415CE and was the son of Sumadragupta. He is considered to be one of the most important rulers of the Gupta Dynasty.
During his reign, arts and architecture flourished and the cultural development increased successfully. Art was so highly valued, that unlike most civilisations, people were paid for their work.
He continued the policies of his father by extending control over many neighbouring kingdoms. Chandragupta II was described as vigorous and a well qualified leader. He strongly believed in the Hindu religion but tolerated Buddhism and Jain religions.
The government system of the Gupta Empire was run by the rulers (emperors). It was quite a relaxed and loose system compared to other civilisations. The government let the citizens manage their cities, villages and farms themselves. The government also provided water and police service.
The prices of the taxes were relatively low which shows that the rulers were not greedy and took great care of their people.
Criminals were not severely punished and there was no death penalty. The harshest punishments were having a hand, nose or eat cut off.
Literature flourished under the rule of Chandragupta II. Most of the literature produced was poetry and drama. Religious and meditative writing and lyric poetry was created to educate and entertain the people. Essays were also written on subjects ranging from grammar to maths and astronomy.
The most famous essay written in this time was the Kamasutra, which was written about the rules of love and marriage according to the Hindu laws. One of the most famous scholars of the Gupta Dynasty was Aryabhatta, who was a scientist. He had proposed that the earth was a rotating sphere, centuries before Columbus.
All these ideas have influenced the modern world today and the Gupta Empire has left us with a continuous inspiration.
Contact between Gupta's society and others
The Gupta Empire traded with a lot of countries. They would send ships around the Arabian sea, China sea and Indian ocean they also went and traded with parts of East Africa. They also had ox carts and other animals pulling carts filled with goods for the road. Trade with so many cultures caused their culture to expand and the belief of buddhism to spread to other countries. The trades earned them a lot of money and they also had specific laws for trade so the country would make a profit.
The Huns Invasion: Fall of the Empire
The Huns were violent tribes who invaded the Gupta Empire during the reign of Sandragupta. The Huns were warlike tribes known for their cruelty. The Gupta Empire made their military smaller after a long time of peace and good fortune.
The Huns started to Invade India and because the Gupta Empire did not have strong military forces, they did not have the power to fight back. When the Huns attacked, they forced the empire out and that allowed the empire to decrease in size and eventually they disappeared.
The Gupta Dynasty
Temple built during the Gupta Dynasty