Tuesday, December 8, 2020

The Gupta Empire (3rd century AD to 543 AD)

The Gupta Empire, which ruled the Indian subcontinent from 320 to 550 AD, ushered in a golden age of Indian civilization. It will forever be remembered as the period during which literature, science, and the arts flourished in India as never before.

After the Mauryan Empire fell in about 187 B.C.E., India broke apart into separate kingdoms. For about 500 years, these smaller kingdoms fought each other for land

and power. With every ruler eager to wage wars against each other, peace and unification were two far-fetched ideals.

During the late third century, the powerful Gupta family gained control of the local kingship of Magadha (modern-day eastern India and Bengal). The Gupta Empire is generally held to have begun in 320 AD, when Chandragupta I, the third king of the dynasty, ascended the throne. He soon began conquering neighboring regions and launched a series of military expansions, pushing the kingdom's boundaries westward. By 320 A.D., he had managed to eradicate many of his enemies and extend the territory to Prayaga (present-day Allahabad in north central India.)

The Guptas gave local areas a great deal of independence. They divided the empire into large sections called provinces. Each of these provinces was ruled by a royal governor. Within the provinces, town leaders could make many of their own decisions. The Guptas’ ruling strategy helped them stay in power for nearly 230 years.

The rulers of the Gupta Empire were efficient administrators who knew how to govern with a firm hand, using the strict social order of the Hindu caste system to strengthen their rule.

Chandragupta I son, Samudragupta (often called Samudragupta the Great) founded a new capital city, Pataliputra, and began a conquest of the entire subcontinent. The Guptas also formed some alliances by arranging marriages between members of their family and the sons and daughters of other rulers.

The Gupta kings were devoted Hindu practitioners. Nonetheless, they were very tolerant toward other religions and bankrolled institutions for the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain faiths.

Samudragupta was also a great patron of the arts. He was a poet and a musician, and he brought great writers, philosophers, and artists to his court. Many historians have called Gupta period a golden age, which is a time of great prosperity and achievement.

Archeologists have unearthed palm-leaf books that were created about 550 C.E. Sacred texts often appeared in palm-leaf books. These sacred texts are just one of many kinds of literature that Indians created during the Guptas’ reign.

Aryabhatta and Varahamihira, the two great mathematicians contributed much during this period in the field of Vedic Mathematics. Aryabhatta estimated the value of "Pi" to the fourth decimal place. Algebra was developed to a great extent and the concepts of zero and infinity were found. Polynomial math was created, as it were, and the ideas of zero and boundlessness were found.

The space experts made an achievement when they discovered the diverse planets and began to make horoscopes in view of the planetary positions.

The mighty Gupta dynasty started to show signs of weakness during the reign of the fourth emperor, Kumaragupta I. Toward the end of his regime (415 A.D. - 455 A.D.), hostile neighbors and the Huns (a nomadic tribe from northern Asia) plagued the empire.

In the year 480 AD, the Huns launched a full-scale invasion of India. By the year 500 AD, the Huns had overrun the Gupta Empire.
The Gupta Empire (3rd century AD to 543 AD)

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