(Notes) Civil Services (Prelims) Examination : The Imperial Guptas - Quick Revision Notes (II)

Quick Revision Notes : Civil Services (Prelims) Examination Special

The Imperial Guptas (Indian History)

21. 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.

22. 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.

23. In sculpture, purely indigenous patterns were adopted—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).

24. Some famous sculptures of Gupta period are:
—The seated or preaching Buddha, giving his first sermon, discovered in sandstone, at Varanasi.
—The standing Buddha, at Mathura, in red sandstone.
—The great boar—as Vishnu’s incarnation—Udaigiri caves.

25. The art of painting reached its zenith during the Gupta period and is manifested at Bagh caves (Gwalior, M.P.) and Ajanta caves (Maharashtra).

26. Aryabhatta—mathematician and astronomer of Gupta period—wrote Aryabhattiya and Surya Siddhanta. He explained the eclipses, shape of earth, its rotation and revolution and gave important results in maths too.

27. Brahmagupta—of Ujjain—had an observatory.

28. Varahmihir wrote Jyotishsastra and Pancha siddhantika on astronomy.

29. Vagabhatta—Physician— wrote Astangasangraha.

30. 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).

31. Each province was called bhukti and was under such officials as uparikas, bhojikas, goptas, rajasthaniyas, etc.

32. The provinces were divided into vishyas, under charge of Vishyapatis. The lowest division (village) was under the gramika (village headman).

33. Land was properly classified into kshetra (cultivable), khila (wasteland), donations for brahmins (agrahara grants), donations for religious purposes (Devagrahara land grants) and so on.

34. The land revenue system was put in charge of Dhruvadhikaranika. The pustapala was an officer especially appointed to record various land transactions.

35. 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.

36. 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).

37. There were two classes of merchants—settled (sresthi) and caravan traders (Sarthavaha). The group of merchants called as “puga” constituted the advisory council in cities. Its president was the Nagarsresthi. Town mayor was called Purupala.

38. The Guptas spread Indian culture to the S.E. Asian countries, especially Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism.

39. 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 Kalachuri inscriptions).

40. 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.

42. 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.

43. 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 “State art”. 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 ones.

44. The caste-system 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 money— economy during their predecessors (Kushanas and Satvahanas)—also slowly broke down. Fahien mentions use of “cowries” shells) as the  “common medium of exchange”, indicating shortage of coins.

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