Gupta Dynasty

The Gupta Empire in India was one of the world’s classical civilizations. It was established by Sri Gupta. He originated from the lower caste family, and established the new administration in response to manhandle by past regal rulers.

Gupta Dynasty (338-92 BCE)

The Gupta Empire in India was one of the world’s classical civilizations. It was established by Sri Gupta. He originated from the lower caste family, and established the new administration in response to manhandle by past regal rulers.

The Gupta Empire was kept the north India politically united for more than a century. It was the new era of imperial unity started again. The empire covered most of Northern India and Eastern Pakistan, parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan and what is now eastern India and Bangladesh. The capital of the Guptas was Pataliputra, present day Patna, in the Indian state of Bihar.

Rulers of the Gupta Dynasty

As per the texts, there were no conflicts in the rulers of the Gupta Dynasty till Samudra Gupta. However, the conflict of opinion arises on immediate successor of Samudra Gupta. Some texts depict that Chandra Gupta II as immediate successor of Samudra Gupta.

According to contemporary epigraphic evidence, the immediate successor of Samudra Gupta was his worthy son Chandra Gupta II. But of late, much has been made of evidence derived from later literary works to prove that there was an elder brother of Chandra Gupta II, Rama Gupta by name, who succeeded his father before Chandra Gupta II. This literary evidence may be set forth here.

The earliest evidence invoked on the subject is a passage of Bana’s “Harshacharita” stating merely that “Chandra Gupta, in the guise of a female, killed the Saka king possessed of lust for another’s wife at the very city of the enemy.”

Next, a work of dramaturgy named “Natyadarpana” written by Ramachandra and Gunachandra makes citations from a dramatic work named “Devichandraguptam” based on the following story “Rama Gupta, an impotent king, for the sake of his subjects, was bent upon surrendering his queen, Dhruvadevi, to the Saka chief invading his kingdom. Then, his younger brother, Prince Chandra Gupta, resolved to save the situation, went to the camp of Saka chief disguised as the queen, and killed him, as he came up to him. Chandra Gupta then killed his cowardly brother, and married his widow, Dhruvadevi.”

Successors of Puru Gupta

A new light is thrown on the vexed problem of the kings coming after Puru Gupta by inscriptions on seals of Vishnu Gupta and Budha Gupta recently discovered at Nalanda. The Vishnu Gupta seal traces the genealogy of the Gupta Kings as follows:
Ø Puru Gupta
Ø Narasimha Gupta
Ø Kumara Gupta

According to the reading of the inscription borne by the seal of Budha Gupta, the Gupta genealogy is as follows:
Maharaja Sri Ghtaotkacha

The only point to be settled about his genealogy is the succession after Budha Gupta. It may be solved by a study of three relevant inscriptions, viz., those on the Sarnath Budha Stone Image and inscriptions on the Bhitari and Nalanda seals. It is possible to take the Kumara Gupta of the Sarnath inscription to be different from the Kumara Gupta of the seal without any violence to history or chronology, and to treat the Kumara Gupta of the seal to be Kumara Gupta III. In that case, the genealogy will stand as follows:
GUpta Dynasty Kings, Rulers of Gupta Dynasty

The imperial Gupta history after Budha Gupta is somewhat uncertain, obscure, and confused. It can be traced only in fragments through names of certain kings associated with it in some of the records of the times. Recent excavations added to more names to the Gupta rulers, namely Vainya Gupta and Bhanu Gupta. These names are brought to the light in the Gunaigarh Copper-plate inscription found in Comilla in eastern Bengal.

Based on above references we can assume following list as Gupta rulers
Ø Ghatotkacha Gupta

I owe the genealogy and succession presented here to the suggestions first made by Mr A Ghosh, M.A. of the Archaeological Department in the I.H.Q., Vol. XIX.

Religions and Worships


Boar Incarnation(Varahavtar) of Vishnu from Udayagiri Cave

Most of the Gupta emperors and the local kings of the times called themselves Parama-Bhagavatas, i.e., the worshippers of Bhagavata or Vasudeva. As worshippers of Vishnu, the Gupta emperors introduced Vishnu Vahana, Garuda on the obverse of their coins and goddess Lakshmi, Vishnu Consort, on the reverse and the also Chakra, Vishnu’s Wheel.


The prevalence of worship of Siva is testified to in many inscriptions referring to his worship under various names indicative of the different aspects of his divinity installed in appropriate shrines. It is curious that two Ministers of the Vaishnava emperor, Chandra Gupta II, were worshippers of Siva named Sambhu and Mahadeva-Sailesvarasvami.


Although the Gupta Emperors were orthodox Hindus or followers of Brahminical religion, they were catholic enough not to have enforced their personal religion as the official religion of the empire. They encouraged wually the promotion of all religions, including Buddhism and Jainism. Sanchi continued to be a great center of Buddhism. Kumara Gupta I established a stupa for Budha Bhagavan.

Like Sanchi, Sarnath was another center of Buddhism and noted for the two famous images of the Buddha bearing inscriptions of the time of Kumara Gupta II and Budha Gupta. The Buddha is here called Sasta.

Jina panel on Kahaum pillar, Gupta art

The Udayagiri cave inscriptions, which were of the reign of Kumara Gupta I, mentions the construction of an image of Jinavara Parsva. Another inscription records installation of a Jain image at Mathura. The Kahaum Stone Pillar inscription of the time of Skanda Gupta records an endowment in favour of Jainism, the fashioning of five stone images of Adikartris or Tirthankaras in the niches of a pillar of stones “as high as a hill”.

Sculptures and Structures

Gupta Art Monuments and Sculptures.

Gupta Art receives adequate expression in Monuments and Sculptures. These are altogether associated with one or other of the distinctive religions them prevailing in the nation and are intended to serve their interests. Only important illustrations might be considered here.

Saiva Sculptures

temple of Bhitargaon

The temple of Bhitargaon in the Kanpur is profusely decorated with carved brick-work, and brilliant terra-cotta panels, illustrating Saiva themes. Of the same time, the famous temple at Deogarh is decorated with sculptures and panels showing a high standard of art. One of these, representing Siva as a Yogi, is one of the masterpieces of Indian Art in the opinion of V.A.Smith.

Krishna Sculptures

Vishnu monument-Gupta Art

The worship of Vishnu is also represented in many a monument. One of the temples in the Udayagiri Hills, which is built during Guptas, has some fine sculptures representing the incarnation of Vishnu as Varaha and also the goddesses Ganga and Yamuna, standing respectively on makara and kachchhapa. In the same region, at a place called Pathari, a temple is found containing a massive relief on the nativity of Krishna, showing how the new born babe lies by the side of the Mother, watched by five attendants. It has been considered as the finest and largest piece of Indian sculpture by Beglar.

Buddhist Sculptures

Sarnath seated image of the Buddha
Buddhism has inspired some of the best examples of Gupta Art in the form of images. Some of the best examples of Gupta Art are found at Sarnath. In these images of Gupta Art has achieved its complete emancipation from foreign influence, and a synthesis of different artistic elements and traditions.

The Sarnath seated image of the Buddha in the act of his preaching the first sermon is considered as one of the masterpieces of Indian Art and of its Gupta style marked by its symbolism. Thus the wheel and the two deer carved on its pedestal indicate respectively the Dharma Chakra, and the Mrigadva, where the wheel was first turned. His hands are shown in the position known as Dharma-Chakra-Pravartana-Mudra. Indeed, there was a great development in the Mudras in the Buddhist Iconography of the time.

Art and Architecture

Dasavathara temple of Gupta period

The outstanding innovation introduced in the field of Architecture was the use for the first time of dressed stone masonry. Architecture, composed of stone masonry, was first seen in the emergence of the Hindu temple.

The Satapatha Brahmana describes a Hindu shrine as consisting of two sheds, ‘formed of pots and beams, and covered with reeds and mats’. This kind of architecture is seen in the bas-reliefs of Bharhut and Sabchi, showing fire-altars and shrines which were practically unroofed, so that religious service and rituals were performed in the open air.

Growth of Temple Architecture

Deogarh temple showing the Sikhara

We may trace the evolution of the structure of the Hindhu temple in its different stages: a leafy bower, a hut of reed, a cella of wood and bricks. Eventually emerged in the Gupta period the sactum of stone: the Garbha-Griha, a small cell with only one door way so as not to intrude upon the inner darkness conductive to contemplation. The walls of the interior were naturally devoid of ornament but not so was the exterior of the temple. The outer side of the door way came to be richly carved, and to the door was added a porch for shelter, which appeared as a pillared portico in the Gupats Sculptures.


Sanskrit language and literature were at its peak. Poets Kalidasa, Dandi, Visakhadatta, Shudraka, and Bharavi - all have a place with this period. Numerous puranas and shastras were made and acclaimed discourses on holy works showed up. Buddhist and Jaina writing which was created before in Pali, Ardhamagadhi and other Prakrit dialects, started to show up in Sanskrit.

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