Revision Notes : Civil Services
(Prelims) Examination Special
Imperial Guptas (Indian History)
Nalanda (Rajagriha, Bihar)
was founded by Kumaragupta (A.D. 450) and was famous for its tests. There was
free education. It had 10,000 students, 1,500 teachers and 300 classrooms, a big
three-storeyed library. Huen Tsang who came later, during Harsha,
studied here for five years. Itsing (A.D. 675) records a donation by
Sri Gupta, for the University.
Guptas started using bricks for
temples (E.g. Bhitargaon temple, Kanpur). The Dasavatara
temple, dedicated to Vishnu, at Deogarh, Jhansi shows a
transitory State from flat roof temples to the shikhara style.
In sculpture, purely indigenous
patterns were adoptedâ€”instead of the Kushana period Buddha with shaven head,
we have the Buddha with curly hair now, and transparent drapery was used along
with various mudras (postures). The main centres were
Sarnath (Benaras), Mathura, Pataliputra (Patna).
Some famous sculptures of Gupta
â€”The seated or preaching Buddha, giving his first
sermon, discovered in sandstone, at Varanasi.
â€”The standing Buddha, at Mathura, in red sandstone.
â€”The great boarâ€”as Vishnuâ€™s incarnationâ€”Udaigiri caves.
The art of painting
reached its zenith during the Gupta period and is manifested at Bagh caves
(Gwalior, M.P.) and Ajanta caves (Maharashtra).
and astronomer of Gupta periodâ€”wrote Aryabhattiya and
Surya Siddhanta. He explained the eclipses, shape of earth, its rotation
and revolution and gave important results in maths too.
Varahmihir wrote Jyotishsastra
and Pancha siddhantika on astronomy.
The central administrative
system of the Gupta era comprised the Mantri/Sachiv (modern
Chief Minister), Bhatasvapati (commander of infantry and cavalry), Kataka
(commander of elephants), Dandapasadhikaran (police chief), Kumaramatyas
and Ayuktas (provincial heads).
Each province was called bhukti
and was under such officials as uparikas, bhojikas, goptas,
The provinces were divided into vishyas,
under charge of Vishyapatis. The lowest division (village)
was under the gramika (village headman).
Land was properly classified into kshetra
(cultivable), khila (wasteland), donations for brahmins (agrahara
grants), donations for religious purposes (Devagrahara land
grants) and so on.
The land revenue system was put in
charge of Dhruvadhikaranika. The pustapala was an
officer especially appointed to record various land transactions.
The receivers of land grants had
the right to enjoy land revenue from the farmers. They could even punish and try
thieves. Thus, there was serfdom (forced work) and oppression
of the peasantry.
A number of taxes had to be paid
to the king. These were: Bhaga (1/6th of produce). Bhoga (taxes
in kind fruits, wood, flowers, etc.). Kara (periodic tax on
farmers). Uparikara (extra taxes). Udianga (probably
water tax). Sulka (modern customs tax). Klipta and Upaklipta
(purchase and sales taxes).
There were two classes of
merchantsâ€”settled (sresthi) and caravan traders (Sarthavaha).
The group of merchants called as â€œpugaâ€ constituted
the advisory council in cities. Its president was the Nagarsresthi.
Town mayor was called Purupala.
The Guptas spread Indian culture
to the S.E. Asian countries, especially Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism.
The Srenis (traders
unions or guilds) had immense powers. Not only did they perform economic
functions but also judicial and executive ones. Some of them even issued seals
and coins and had their own militia (called Srenibala, in the
Narada and Brihaspati smritis
lay down the rules for merchants. The normal rate of interest was 15%
per annum. 41. The most important metal of the Gupta age was iron.
The blacksmith acquired the second
most important place in the village economy. The iron pillar (of Chandra
Gupta-II) is a fine example of iron workers of Gupta period.
The term golden age can be applied
mainly for the economically upper classes, and that too in Northern India only.
Though art and architecture flourished, it was confined as a â€œState artâ€.
There was flourishing trade with the southeast, but, on the whole, there was
decline of trade centres and towns. Sanskrit literature, undoubtedly, made
immense progress, but it was more of a state language, limited to the learned
became rigid during this period. Manu, for instance, had put several
restrictions on the woman and the shudras. In no way was the taxburden on
the common man low. The flourishing moneyâ€” economy during their predecessors
(Kushanas and Satvahanas)â€”also slowly broke down. Fahien mentions use of â€œcowriesâ€
shells) as the â€œcommon medium of exchangeâ€, indicating shortage of