The Gupta Dynasty

First Online: August 01, 2004
Page Last Updated: April 04, 2014

Gupta Dynasty (300-540 A.D.)

The Gupta dynasty ruled India (what was India then, the north of the Vindhyas), between fourth and sixth centuries of the Christian era. Though not as vast as Mauryan empire, Gupta rule has left a deep and wide cultural impact not only in the subcontinent but on the adjacent Asian countries as well. We get plenty of information about this illustrious dynasty through coins, inscriptions, monuments and Sanskrit classics.

The Gupta rulers were great conquerors and good administrators. They checked the infiltration of foreign tribes like Sakas and Hunas and established political stability. Economic prosperity followed and led to cultural expansion. Gupta age is considered golden age in Indian history.

Sanskrit language and literature were at its peak. Poets Kalidasa, Dandi, Visakhadatta, Shudraka, and Bharavi -- all belong to this period. Many puranas and shastras were composed and famous commentaries on sacred works appeared. Buddhist and Jaina literature which was produced earlier in Pali, Ardhamagadhi and other Prakrit languages, began to appear in Sanskrit. The practice of dedicating temples to different deities came into vogue followed by fine artistic temple architecture and sculpture. Of the twenty-eight Ajanta caves, most of them were constructed during this period. Gupta inscriptions, some of them on "victory pillars" provide first hand information not only about royalty but society in general.

Books on medicine, veterinary science, mathematics, astronomy and astrophysics were written. The famous Aryabhata and Varahamihira belong to this age. Overseas trade and commerce flourished. Hindu and Buddhist mythology, architecture, along with religion took root in Burma, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia and other countries.

The Chinese monk Fa-Hien who was in India and Srilanka between 399 – 414 A.D. noticed general prosperity and peace-loving nature of the people.

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