Skandagupta - Third Successor King After Samudragupta

Skandagupta - Great ruler of Gupta Dynasty
Skandagupta succeeded his father Kumaragupta I around 455 A.D. and ruled up to 467 A.D (191 to 166 BCE as per new translations). He was one of the greatest rulers of Gupta empire which was ruled by great kings like Chandragupta I, Samudragupta, Chandragupta II etc. Some inscriptions and historians say that Skandagupta might have been an army general of Gupta empire during the last days of Kumaragupta I and he waged wars with White Huns and Pushyamitra's and defeated them. After the death of Kumaragupta I, Skandagupta declared himself as the king and captured the throne. This theory was opposed by majority of historians as it lack proof. Hence Skandagupta is considered as the son of Kumaragupta I and his successor.
Skandagupta - Third Successor King After Samudragupta

According to some sources, it was said that Skandagupta had a step brother named Purugupta. He was son of queen Ananthadevi. Historians presumed that Purugupta was immediate successor of Kumaragupta I. When Skandagupta was busy campaigning against the Pushyamitras, Purugupta took advantage of this situation as Skandagupta was away from home and his father was ill and ascended the throne. According to some historians, Skandagupta's mother was not the chief queen of Kumaragupta I and so he is not the legitimate aspirant of the throne. This made Skandagupta to fight with Purugupta in order to ascend the throne as the emperor of Gupta dynasty.

Now coming to the point of foreign attacks, Skandagupta when he was a crown prince and his father was ruling, he was ordered by his father to stop the invasions from white Huns or Hunas. Skandagupta succeeded in doing so and badly defeated Hunas. During the reign of Skandagupta once again attacks from Pushyamitras and Hunas were seen. Skandagupta easily defeated Pushyamitras. From the Bhitari pillar inscription it is known that he defeated Pushyamitras. The reference of Hunas invasion is found in 8th stanza of Bhitari pillar inscription. By that time Hunas have already proved themselves to be terror to both Europe and Asia. They were a very barbaric and cruel tribe. In the middle of fifth century A.D. one branch of Hunas known as white Hunas occupied the Oxus valley and threatened both Persia and India. They conquered Gandhara and threatened the very existence of Gupta empire. Skandagupta inflicted such a terrible defeat upon Hunas that they dared not disturb the empire for nearly half a century.

It was a magnificent achievement for which he assumed the title " Vikramaditya " in imitation of his grandfather Chandragupta II. The Chandravyakarana and Kathasaritsagara refer to Skandagupta's victory over Hunas. Skandagupta successfully protected his empire form foreign invasions through out his life. He was not a expansionist or a conquerer like his predecessors but a Saviour king. Inspite of Huna invasion and other troubles Skandagupta was successful in maintaining and keeping intact the mighty empire until his death. But the war with Hunas and other wars must have proved a great strain on the financial resources of the empire which resulted in the downfall of the Gupta empire after Skandagupta. This is reflected in the coins of Skandagupta. Unlike other earlier Gupta kings, the gold coins issued by Skandagupta were small in size and only a single type and the purity of gold used for coins was also very low. This proves the financial crisis during his reign.
Skandagupta died around 467 A.D. and was succeeded by his half brother Purugupta. Skandagupta was referred in history records as " Saviour of India ". The great Gupta empire which was ruled by great kings like Chandragupta I, Samudragupta, Chandragupta II started collapsing after Skandagupta.

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