Till now we have read the sources and the few Gupta Kings. So, now we are going to continue with our discussion on Gupta Period. The last ruler about which we have read was Samudragupta. He started the expansion of Gupta Empire in all direction. After Samudragupta, there was an another great king of Gupta Dynasty. He was Chandragupta-II, who later got the title of Chandragupta Vikramaditya.
Chandragupta Vikramaditya (380-413 CE)
He was a son of Dattadevi and Samudragupta. The Gupta Kingdom reached its highest glory during his reign. He not only succeeded in terms of territorial expansion but also gave patron to art and culture to flourish. Chandragupta-II entered into matrimonial alliance with Nagas, as was his Grandfather did.
He married to the Naga Princess Kubernaga. His daughter Prabhavati was married to Rudrasena-II of the Vakataka Dynasty. But soon after the marriage, the Vakataka king died. So, then the Queen Prabhavati became the authority of the Vakataka Dynasty. So, he acted as a regent on behalf of her two minor sons.
Chandragupta-II also defeated Saka Ruler Rudrasimha-III. So, he then annexed Saka kingdom and added the regions of Gujarat, Kathiawar and west Malwa to Gupta Empire. He made Ujjain as his second capital. The location of Ujjain was suitable to rule the vast Empire, which was extended in the south also. However, we know that the Samudragupta annexed a large area under the Gupta Empire.
After defeating Sakas, he adopted the title of Vikramaditya. He was the first Gupta king, who issued Silver coins. He had Nine Gems in his court namely,
- Amar Singh
- Betal Bhatta
Chandragupta Vikramaditya patronised Dignaga. Dignaga wrote the book Nyaya Prakash and considered as the father of Justice.
Kumargupta (413-455 CE)
Kumaragupta was the successor of the Chandragupta Vikramaditya. He reigned for more than 40 years. So, he adopted the title of Mahendraditya. Mandsor (Madhya Pradesh) and Mathura (Uttar Pradesh) inscription written in Sanskrit gives evidence of his reign.
Damodarpur Copper Plate inscription refers to him as Maharajadhiraja. So it shows that he himself appointed the Governor (Uparika) of Pundravardhana Bhukti (Province), the biggest administrative division of Gupta Empire.
During his reign first Huna attack took place. He also introduced the concept of worshipping God Kartikeya (Son of God Shiva). Nalanda Buddhist Monastery was built during his period.
Skandagupta (455-467 CE)
Kumargupta died in 455 AD. So, Skandagupta came on the throne as a successor of the Kumaragupta. His greatest enemies were Hunas. Skandagupta inflicted a terrible defeat upon the Hunas. He repaired and restored the dam on Sudarshana Lake built during Chandragupta Maurya’s reign.
He assumed the title of Paramabhattaraka, Paramdevta, Maharajadhiraj. Bhitari inscription records the career of Skandagupta. It also states that Skandagupta issued the lion carved coins. Unfortunately, the successors of Skandagupta were not so capable as he was.
So, after his demise, Gupta Empire declined slowly but steadily. So, successors of Skandagupta were Purugupta, Bhanugupta, Vismigupta and the last king of Gupta Dynasty was Vishnugupta (550 CE).
Gupta Administrative System
In the Gupta period, the King was believed as equivalent to God. And the officer’s post became hereditary. The society was moving towards the Feudalism system. So, the Feudal lords were increasing their power day by day. So, these feudal lords rebelled time to time when the central power was weak.
This is the most and the simplest way to understand feudalism. Feudal lords many times rebelled when there were no great centralising forces. So, the Gupta Empire started to decentralising and then declined.
Gupta Administrative System: Different Level of State
During the Gupta Period, the Empire was divided into different parts. So, as to have better administration there were divisions like,
- State: Bhukti
- District: Vishay
- Sub-District: Vithi
- Group of Villages: Pethak
- Village: Grama
The names of each of these administrative blocks are as follows,
- Head of Country: Gopa
- Head of Bhukti: Uparika
- The Head of Army: Mahabaladhikrita
- Cavalry Head: Bhattaswapati
- Head of Elephant Army: Mahapilupati
- Chancellor of Military Exchequer: Ranbhandarika
- Head of Police: Dandapasika
- Head of Judiciary: Mahadandanayaka
- The head of Queen’s Harem: Kanchuki
- Ministry of War and Peace: Mahasandhivigrahika
- Head of Roadways: Tikina
- Revenue Department head: Dhruvadhikarna
- Head of District: Vishayapati
- Head of his work: Nagar Shresthi
- The Chief of Traders: Sarthvaha
- Chief Architect: Kulik
- Chief Scribe: Prathama Kayastha
- Head of Village: Bhojika/ Bhojak/ Gramika
- General Army: Chat
- A small group of Army: Chamu
- Head of Small group of Army: Chamupa
In the Gupta Administrative System, King was the chief of Judiciary. However, Diwani and Faujdari laws were separated first in the Gupta Administrative System.
Taxation of Gupta Administrative System
During the Gupta Period, trade tax was low but the land tax was high. There were 18 types of taxes during the Gupta Period. The main taxes were,
- Udranga: Tax on permanent peasants.
- Uparikara: Tax on temporary peasants.
- Hiranya: Tax paid in the form of Gold.
- Purrastha: Tax gave to officers who were collecting the land tax.
As per the Gupta Administrative System, there were four types of land.
- Kshetra: Fertile Land
- Khil: Unfertile Land
- Aprahata: Forested Land
- Vastu: Habitable Land
This was a brief of Gupta Period and Gupta Administrative System. This was the Golden age of Ancient India because we saw Gupta Kings patronised the extensive art and culture in their Empire. So, in the next coming post, we will have a look the architecture of Gupta Period.
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