Chandragupta II - Chandragupta Vikramaditya

Chandragupta II - Chandragupta Vikramaditya
Chandragupta II was the son of Samudragupta. He was one of the greatest rulers of Gupta dynasty. Under his rule, Gupta empire reached to peaks. Arts, Architecture and Sculpture flourished. He ruled from 380 A.D. to 415 A.D (269 to 233 BCE as per new translations). His reign covered a wide territory whose northern limit was Vahlakas country, southern limit was the ocean, western limit was the mouth of Indus and eastern limit was Vanga, He was compared by hero of ancient Indian legends named Vikramaditya ( Valour of sun ) and hence also referred as Chandragupta Vikramaditya.

Early Life and Succession as king :

Chandragupta was born as a younger son to Samudragupta and Dutta Devi who was the chief queen of Samudragupta. Dhruvadevi was Chandragupta II's chief queen. She was described as " Mahadevi " ( Chief queen ) Dhruvasvamini in the Vaisali Terracotta seal. He had a elder brother named Ramagupta. According to the drama " Devichandraguptam " of Vishakhadatta, Ramagupta succeeded his father Samudragupta ahead of Chandragupta II. In the gap of five years between the rule of Samudragupta and Chandragupta II, Ramagupta ruled the kingdom. He was weak and a coward ruler and was unable to uphold royal power and authority and thus he was a disgrace to Gupta empire.
Chandragupta II - Chandragupta VikramadityaDuring Ramagupta's rule, the Saka ruler of the western Kshatrapas dynasty marched on the border of Magadha kingdom ruled by Ramagupta with huge army and threatned Ramagupta. A war broke out in which Ramagupta was badly defeated and the Saka ruler demanded Ramagupta to surrender his wife to him. Her name was Dhruvadevi. He agreed to do so. But his younger brother, Chandragupta II did not like the decision of Ramagupta and he dressed like a queen and went to Sakas camp in disguise of queen. There he killed the king to restore the huge empire and the queen. Then Chandragupta II killed his brother and made Dhruvadevi his queen and ascended the throne. This story was based on the drama called " Devichandraguptam " and has no proofs to support this story. But one thing is very clear that after Samudragupta, Ramagupta was the immediate ruler for a short period ahead of Chandragupta II. 
Some inscriptions state that Samudragupta selected Chandragupta II as his successor among his sons because of bravery and war skills.

Conquests and expansion of empire :

Chandragupta II, very alike his ancestral Gupta kings followed two main ways to be successful i.e, Matrimonial alliances and Powerful conquests. When he ascended the throne he was free from all bindings and difficulties of building up an empire since the task was most ably done by his grandfather Chandragupta I and his father Samudragupta. Samudragupta annexed many territories of " Aryavata ", brought down the frontier kings and turbulent tribes in to submission and made all independent powers of northern India to beg for his friendship. Yet the western Satraps were still independent and very powerful. When Samudragupta died there was the problem of internal consolidation and further settlement with the powerful neighbours. These were bestowed on Chandragupta II as legacies. As Chandragupta II was also a military genius like his father he completed the task left by his father by expanding his empire.
Coin Chandragupta II - Chandragupta Vikramaditya on horse
The Matrimonial alliances was the one of Guptas key strategies for strengthening the empire. Chandragupta II too believed the same. He married Kubera Naga, a princess of the Naga kingdom. With this marriage he won the friendship and support of Nagas, who had a powerful political force around central India. Kubera Naga and Chandragupta  II had a daughter named Prabhavatigupta. 
Chandragupta II wanted to befriend Vakataka dynasty. His daughter Prabhavatigupta was married to Vakataka dynasty ruler named Rudrasena II ( 380-385 A.D. (269-264 BCE)), ruler of Maharashtra. At that time Chandragupta II was planning to attack the Sakas of Kathiawar and Vakataka had a geographical benefit and he wanted bring Vakataka on his side through matrimonial alliance and he did that with perfection. Rudrasena II died around 385 A.D (264 BC). and Prabhavatigupta became herself the regent of her minor son and Chandragupta held indirect control over Vakataka empire.
The Sakas, a foreign tribe ruling over Saurashtra, Malwa and Kathiawar were feudatories of the Khushanas and enjoyed the title of Kshatrap which means Subedar. After some time they declared themselves independent and called themselves Mahakshatrapas. As the Saka dynasty lay next to Vakataka which was being ruled by daughter of Chandragupta II, he took advantage of it and defeated the ruler of Sakas, Rudrasimha III and annexed the territory of Saka in to his empire.
The most important event of ChandraguptaII's reign was conquest of Sakas who were ruling for more than 300 years in western India. To commemorate his victory, Chandragupta II issued silver coins with the image of Garuda ( Symbol of Gupta empire ) and titles like Paramabhagavat and Maharajadhiraja on other side. This conquest destroyed the last vestige of foreign rule in India and extended the Gupta empire up to the Arabian sea, its natural frontier in the west. Chandragupta II made Ujjain, the second and political capital as he could rule Gujarat effectively from this place.
Now Chandragupta II had the full access of eastern and western ports of Indian sub continent. Through the western ports, his contact with the western world was facilitated and trade and commerce with European and African countries received an impetus. Cotton clothes of east bengal, scents and unguents of the hill states of Himalayas, camphor, spices and sandal from south were brought to the ports of Kathiawar for export to western countries. In return western traders paid in gold. There was a tremendous economic growth of Gupta empire through trade. The people were rich and prosperous. 

Nine gems of Chandragupta Vikramaditya :

Chandragupta II patronized nine great poets in his royal court. 

1. Amarsimha - He worked in the field of Lexicography and his famous work is Amarkosha.

2. Dhanvantari - He worked in the field of Medicine and his famous work is Ayurveda.

3. Harisena - He was a poet and his famous work was Allahabad Inscription.

4. Kalidasa - He was a great poet and dramatist. His famous work is Abhijnana Shakuntalam.

5. Kshapanaka - He was a dramatist and poet and his famous work is Jyotishyashashtra.

6. Shanku - He worked in the field of architecture and his famous work is Shilpashashtra.

7. Varahamihira - He was a astrologer and his famous work is Brihadsamhita.

8. Vararuchi - He worked in the field of Grammar and he wrote Vyakarana.

9. Vetala-Bhatta - He worked in the field of magic and he wrote Mantrashashtra.

Art and Culture in Chandragupta II's rule :

Chandragupta II was most celebrated ruler of Gupta empire. He was highly appreciative of different kinds of arts and it was said that he paid artists to encourage them to produce arts. 
Arts - During Gupta rule the greek influence on Indian arts completely disappeared and it was Indianised. With the encouragement that Chandragupta II gave, Indian artists put their heart and soul to project their ideas and imagination totally free from foreign influence.

Architecture - 

coins of Chandragupta II - Chandragupta VikramadityaThe architecture flourished during Gupta rule. The buildings, temples, pillars and stupas constructed during Gupta rule were wonderful, attractive and displayed a mark of excellent workmanship. Unfortunately many fine Architectures have already been destroyed by foreign invaders. Among the surviving examples of Gupta architecture, the famous Dasavatara temple at Deogarh in Jhansi district in Uttar pradesh is considered the best. The other structures include Vishnu temple at Tigawa in Jabalpur district, the Siva temple of Bhumra in Madhya pradesh, the Parvati temple of Ajaigarh and the buddhist shrines of Bodhgaya and Sanchi. Among brick temples, the most famous one is the temple of Bhitaragaon in Kanpur district.

Sculpture - 

The Sculpture was at its best in giving shape to the images of deities and divinities, both brahmanical and buddhist faiths. The sculptors were matured enough to transform in to images of superb beauty. The standing buddha at madhura and the colossal copper statue of buddha now in british museum, the seated image of buddha in sarnath are some of best examples of Gupta sculptures.

Art of Painting - 

The fresco-paintings on the walls and ceilings of the world famous Ajanta caves  are the brighest examples of paint arts of that time. The pictures depicted in the Ajanta, Ellora and Bagh caves have a special place in the history of Indian arts. 

Account of Fa hien :

Fa hien or Faxian was the first of three great chinese pilgrims who visited India from fifth to seventh centuries. Fa hien arrived during the reign of Chandragupta II and gave a general description of North India at that time. Fa hien studied Sanskrit for 3 years at Pataliputra and 2 years at port of Tamralipti. The accounts of Fa hien gave a clear indication that India was probably never governed better than the era of Chandragupta Vikramaditya. The prosperity of Indians and tranquility of the empire have been testified by the account of Fa hien. He says that the people were rich and prosperous and vied one another in practicing in charity. There were rest houses for travellers and pilgrims and free hospitals for the patients where they provide food also. According to Fa hien, throughout the country none killed any living being and neither drank wine nor ate onions and garlic. There were no butchers shop or distilleries in the market. The taxes were very light and not at all burdensome. Interestingly, death penalty was abolished during Chandragupta II's reign and the criminal laws were simple and accused were fined. 

Succession :

He was succeeded by his son Kumaragupta I around 414 A.D (233 BCE).

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