Let’s read about Samudragupta- the greatest ruler of India’s greatest dynasty.

Few figures in the history of mankind will stand as tall as Samudragupta. He was the greatest ruler of India’s greatest dynasty. And hence it was a difficult job to record his glorifying life. Samudragupta entrusted this job to one of his most loyal ministers who also happened to be a great poet.

This man, named Harisena, had been with Samudragupta in all his battles and knew all his stories. Harisena decided to write all that he knew in a pillar of Iron. Today, this pillar stands on the shores of Ganga in the holy city of Prayagraj. It depicts the bravery, courage, and strength of Samudragupta in the form of a poem. Thanks to this timeless capsule of information, we got to know the actual greatness of Samudragupta.

Samudragupta was born to the great king Chandragupta. Chandragupta was an established ruler of the Magadha kingdom. Chandragupta named his son Samudragupta, for he believed that his son’s kingdom would be as big as the ocean, ‘Samudra’ meaning ocean in Sanskrit.
But Samudragupta was not the firstborn of Chandragupta. Hence for a brief period of time, Kacha, the firstborn of Chandragupta ruled. Chandragupta later intervened and made Samudragupta the king. Samudragupta was way ahead of his brother in leadership and battle skills.

When Samudragupta ascended to the throne he already had the largest state of the Indian subcontinent under his rule. His predecessor had made sure the rich Ganga plains were used to their fullest potential. With surplus crops of sugarcane and wheat, the Gupta dynasty became an economic giant. This economy then supported a large army. Samudragupta started by attacking his neighbour states. He led his army from the front. He was a great warrior and believed to be a bigger asset on the front lines. According to Harisena, Samudragupta’s body was covered in scars. And he wore those scars as ornaments.

Sometimes, Samudragupta didn’t even have to fight his way in. His legends and his scars were proof of his war-experienced life. Many rulers were just happy to peacefully negotiate with Samudragupta. Throughout his life, Samudragupta fought more than fifty battles and astonishingly lost none. A British historian, working on Samudragupta, named him the Napolean of India for his feat of being invincible.

The real challenge for Samudragupta was to keep control of such a big empire. At its peak, the Gupta Empire under Samudragupta was one of the largest in India’s history. It expanded from the present-day Kashmir to Karnataka, and Bengal to Afghanistan. Samudragupta knew he could not make the same mistake as the Mauryan empire did. He could not hope to control such an empire by an iron fist alone. Hence he cleverly controlled the economy. Throughout his empire, only his coins worked. He also developed better and wider roadways to connect his entire kingdom. This way he could mobilize his army quickly if ever any rebellion occurs.

Harisena also states that Samudragupta was as big a devotee of peace as he was of war. And though his body reminds him of war, his mind always pondered upon peace. He was a great Sitar player and would often meditate while playing it. The imagery of a scar-filled man playing such a soothing instrument was a sight to behold. His ministry was full of artists, poets, singers, and priests. This culture was passed down as a heritage in the Gupta dynasty.

Present-day India stands on the verge of being a superpower once again. But once again it will need a leader like Samudragupta. Once again it needs a leader that leads from the front. Once again it needs a leader that has a vision for his motherland. Once again it needs a leader that makes decisions keeping the future in mind. Once again it needs a leader that can devote his entire life to the betterment of his motherland.

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