The Gupta empire was the second nationwide empire of the Indian subcontinent. But it was much more than the texts of history could ever write. The Gupta Empire had changed the face of India by boosting its economic prowess and military might. It was under the Guptas that India completely expanded its reach towards the rest of the world. Under Guptas India was a global superpower for the first and the last time.
The Gupta empire was started by Sri Gupta. Not much is known about him before his ascension to the throne. It is known that he belonged to the Vaishya caste. This caste specialized in trading and business. Many historians believed this to be the reason for the healthy economic gain during the Gupta empire.
The Gupta empire started in the modern-day state of Uttar Pradesh after winning over the Kushana empire. The Guptas used the extremely fertile lands of Ganga plains to their maximum advantage. Good at doing business and trades, the Guptas soon made their kingdom an economical powerhouse in the North region.
Sri Gupta was followed by Ghatotkach. Ghatotkach took the title of Maharaja, the greater King as he extended the reach of his kingdom past his fathers. His son Chandragupta, expanded even more. He became popular as Maharajadhiraja, meaning the king among kings.
But it was his son Samudragupta, whose achievements made all these titles look foolish and childish. His reign is considered one of the greatest in the history of India. He was a rare ‘Chatrapati’ ruler. This title was given to a king who had expanded his empire in all four directions. So no matter where you go, you remain in his kingdom. Samudragupta is also known as the Napolean of India.
He expanded the Gupta empire from the Deccan of India to the present-day borders of Iran.
Samudragupta was succeeded by his son Chandragupta the second. Chandragupta later took the title of Vikramaditya. He is one of the most celebrated historical figures in Indian history. It was under his rule that Faxian, a Chinese pilgrimage visited Indian and accounted for his merry experiences in a travelogue.
The great poet Kalidas was also a member of his court. His plays written on the fictional stories surrounding Vikramaditya are the main contributor to Vikramaditya’s popularity.
Their decline is the same old story. Such large kingdoms are not easy to control and protect. Over time many smaller and powerful kingdoms rose and challenged the mighty Guptas. And little by little the great kingdom of Guptas reduced in size until it was no more.
A global superpower is not just about the military or economic might, it’s about overall excellence. Aside from the military and finances, the Gupta empire also saw a tremendous rise in literature and Science. The likes of Aryabhatt, Kalidasa, Vatsyayana, and Varahamihira emerged in this period.
The Gupta empire was not just another milestone in Indian history. It was what changed India forever. The present generation of Indians hears the stories of how India was once called ‘Sone Ki Chiriya’ or the golden bird. This golden age came under the Gupta dynasty.