The Golden Age of India
The Gupta Empire, 320 CE-550 CE
The Birth and Death of The Gupta Empire
The Gupta Dynasty was founded by a man know as Chandra Gupta I in the year 320 CE. Chandra Gupta I came into power through marriage, not blood relation. He married a young woman named Kumaradevi, the daughter of an influential royal family. Chandra took the title of "Great King of Kings" after his marriage to Kumaradevi, when he took over most of Northern India. Chandra Gupta I died only fifth teen years after the start of the Gupta Empire so his son, Samudragupta took over the throne. Aproximatly 230 years after it's birth came the fall of the Gupta Empire. The year 480 CE was the beginning of the end, a group of European nomads known as "the Huns" invaded Northern India and began to take control. The finale ruler of the Golden Age of India was Vishnugupta. Even after the Gupta Kingdom was overthrown, it technically continued till about 550 CE, but harbored no power.
Great Rulers of The Empire
After Chandra Gupta I died in 335 CE his son took over the kingdom. The second ruler of the Gupta Empire was Samudragupta, also known as the "World Monarch". After succeeding his father in 335 CE Samudragupta began expanding the Gupta territory, feeding his lust for power. Samudragupta may not have started the empire but he did bring about the Golden Age. He was an Indian Renaissance Man, decades before the Renaissance began. He was a great warrior as well as a lover of the arts. Samudragupta has been described as an "Indian Napoleon", an appropriate title considering his need to concur. In the year of 380 CE Samudrargupta died and his son Chandra Gupta Vikramaditya took over the Empire. Chandra Gupta II was a patron of art and many of the greatest creations of the Gupta Empire were created during his reign. Despite his love of art and culture Chandra Gupta II was a warrior like his father. 4th century Sanskrit says that he concurred about twenty one kingdoms, within and outside of India. Chandra Gupta Vikrmaditya's influential reign ended in the year 418 CE after many artistic and political accomplishments. There were many Gupta Rulers, however I have only written about a few of them. Below I've included a time line of Gupta Rulers and the length of their reign.
Chandragupta I (320-335CE) - Samudragupta (335-380CE) - Chandragupta II (380-413CE) - Kumaragupta (413-455) - Skandagupta (455-467) - Purugupta (467-473CE) -Kumaragupta II (473-476CE) - Budhagupta (479-495CE) - Kumaragupta III (unknown) - Naraishagupt (unknown) - Vishnugupta (unknown-550CE)
Creations of The Golden Age
The Gupta Empire is known as The Golden Age of India for a reason. During the Gupta Empire intellectual and artistic talents blossomed and there was much progression in India. The Gupta Empire is sometimes referred to as "The early Renaissance" because much like the Europeans of the Renaissance age the Gupta's were rising out of the primitive behaviors of the past and into an intellectual world which encourages education, discovery, design and art. Mathematics also became important during the Gupta Dynasty, when one of the most influential mathematicians lived, Aryabhatta. Aryabhatta lived from 476-550CE, he lived in India under the reign of the Gupta Empire. He was a mathematician and astronomer and is best known for creating the concept of zero. Aryabhatta also worked on the approximation of Pi and it is thought that he may have come to conclusion that Pi is irrational. He also thought often about the motions of the solar system and came up with geometric models for the movements of the planets. Mathematics and science may have flourished during The Golden Age but literature bloomed as well. An early Sanskrit writer by the name of Kalidasa lived during the Gupta Dynasty. Kalidasa was greatly admired and is still considered a classical Sanskrit poet. His poems were widely considered the best Sanskrit poetry during the Gupta Empire, though he wrote plays as well. Kalidasa based most of his writings on Hindu philosophy. Though education was growing in India and the intellectuals were highly admired art culture grew as well. The Golden Age was an age of wealth when people were healthy and safe enough to spend time creating art and admiring it as never before. A fantastic example of Gupta art are the stunning Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra, India. The Ajanta Caves are Buddhist monuments, a series of caves with carvings and paintings by Ajanta. The Caves are filled with breath taking carvings which must have taken years to create as well as beautiful paintings. These carvings are not only religious relics but represent the wealth of the Gupta Empire. The Gupta Dynasty was a time when artists expressed them selves through religious art, mostly Hindu and Buddhist sculptures which focused on sensual poses and pleasing figures. Because of the wealth of the Gupta Dynasty things like education and art could thrive. Many beautiful pieces of art work were created during that productive and comfortable time.
Did You Know...
That even though the Gupta Empire ended almost fifth teen centuries ago many of the discoveries and artistic influences of the empire still prevail to this day and have influenced modern India?
I used the second paragraph of this article.
For my first photo of the Gupta geography:
For my second photo of the Ajanta Caves:
I used several other sources but these are the most important.