(IGP) IAS Pre: GS - Indian History - Ancient India : Gupta & Post - Gupta Period: Society, Economy & Polity

Indian History
Gupta & Post - Gupta Period: Society, Economy & Polity


Annada Grain-giver, refer to Sudras
Apad Dharma Literally means “Duly when in stress” implies what a man may legitimately do when he cannot earn a living by the normal deeds performed by his class.
Brahmadeys Land grant/ a single plot of land or whole of village to an in individual Brahmin or a group of Brahmins.
Devdana Land grants to religious establishment (temple etc.)
Dvija Literally means “twiceborn”. Referred to the three upper classes vig. Brahmans, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas who were supposed to be born twice, once at their natural birth and again at their initiation, when they were invested with the sacred thread and received into the Aryan society.
Ghatikas south Indian education Institutions
Ghatiyantra Irrigation device (Ref. fromBanabhatta)


Hinasippas Low profession Hypergamous system of marriage based on the concept of noble-born stated by Ballala sena.
Kutumbin Important member of village, having landed property.
Manigraman An important guild in Kerela
Nagaraka Urban people of refined culture during the Gupta Age.
Nanadeshi Guild of teachers having membership from different regions and castes
Niyoga (Livirate) The practice of allowing a widow to cohabit with her husband’s younger brother till the birth of a male child prohibited by Dharmashastra from Gupta period onwards.
Shrotriyas Learned Brahmins who had the knowledge of Vedas.
Stridhana Property in the form of jewelers etc. Over which the right of the women was recognised . After the omen’s death it passed over to her daughter.
Varnasrama A general norm of conduct appropriate to each class and to each sage in dharma the life of the individual
Vidusaka The court jester in the Sanskrit drama, a figure of fun, invariably a Brahman


Taxes in Gupta Period

  1. Sulka - Customs & tolls
  2. Sadbhaga - Land revenue (Ref. Kautilya)
  3. Bhaga - Royal share of produce 1/6 of the total, first reference in Arthashastra
  4. Bhoga - Periodica l supplies of fruit, flowers, firewood etc. to the king(in the nature of kings rights & privileges)
  5. Bali a) A type of land revenue                 b) A tpetty cess besides kings normal share-Arthasastra
                                                                  c) Additional & oppressive tax- Ref. Jaakas
                                                                  d) Emergency tax from which chief Ministe4s were exempted –ref. Millind Panho
  6. Bhaga Bhoga- Landrevenue and supplies of first flower etc. to the king.


Click here to download full Chapter

Click Here for Gupta & Post - Gupta Period MCQ



Study Noted for UPSC MAINS HISTORY Optional 


7. Kara
  1. A tax in addition to grain share.
  2. Oppressive in nature.
  3. Finds mention in law books, arthsastra and Gupta epigraphs.
  4. Periodical
  5. Gift of commodities (dravyadanam) –Ref. Medatithi
  6. Fixed gold payment (bhuminiyatam deyam hiranyam) Ref. Sarvajnarayanag) Contribution in the forms of grass/wood etc. (Gulmadayadikam)- Ref. Ramchandra
  7. Charges upon all movable and immovable articles-Ref. Arthasastra
  8. Annual tax paid during Bhadrapada & Vasanta- Bhattaswamin
  9. Contribution from villagers and townsmen either monthly or in the month of Bhadrapada& Pausa (Grama Puravasi Bhyah Pratinasam-Kulluka)
8. Hiranya
  1. Tax in cash upon some special types of crops, sometimes cash crops.
  2. 1/10 of the total-Ref. Manu & Vishnu
  3. 1/50 of the total-Ref. Patanjali
  4. Makes a King wealthy-Ref. Patanjali
  5. Regular in post-mauryan times
  6. Mantioned in Gupta in epigraphs
  7. Payment in gold/ tax on the capita generated annually- Ref. Law books
9. Uparika
  1. Came into vogue during the Guptas.
  2. A tax on temporary tenants
10. Udrana
  1. First mentioned in Gupta epigraphs.
  2. A tax on permanent tenants
  3. Sometimes a ax for maintenance of police.
  4. Sometimes a tax on fish and other water products.

Various Commentary & Bhasya

  1. Vishwarup wrote a commentary known as Balasera on Yavjnavalkya’s Smriti.
  2. Megatithi wrote a commentary on Manusmriti
  3. Bhattaswami wrote a commentary known as Pratipada Panchika on Kautilya’s Arth Shastra. It was completed by Vishnugupta.
  4. Vijananeshwar wrote a commentary known as Mitakshara (on civil Law) on Yajnavlkya’s law book.

Various References

  1. Wives. Sons and slaves have no right to property. — Manu
  2. Sudras and women have right to study the Puranas —Apasthamba
  3. Slaves can be beaten only on back (not on head) — Manu
  4. Brahmin can lend to wicked people at low interests — Manu
  5. Women has a right to inheritance — Yajnavalkya
  6. Fallen Kshatriya (an application given to forging ruling group) — Manu
  7. A youth can win a girl of his choice by courtship/ treachery/violence in special situation. — Vatsayana
  8. a. Indians are of hasty and irresolute temperament
    b. Indians are of pure moral principles c. Indians do not take anything wrongfully
    d. Indians possess qualities of courage & love of learning
    e. Indians yield more than fairness requires — Hieun Tsang
  9. Sudras as agriculturists — Hieun Tsang and Alberuni
  10. There was no provision of death sentence— Fahiean
  11. Wives and slaves have no right to property — Manu
  12. Indians had no sense of history writing— Alberuni
  13. First reference of Sati —Eran (MP), 510 AD
  14. There was no slavery in India— Megasthense
  15. There was seven castes in India — Megasthenes

Facts about ancient literature

1. Various texts were written

  • First text of Sanskrit grammer is Ashtadhyayi (500BC) by Panini. There are  8 chapters and 400 sutras in it.
  • In 200 BC Patanjali wrote the Mahabhashya on the grammar of Panini.
  • In 700 AD Kashika was written by jayaditya and Vaman on A shtadhyayi.

2. Pachtantra is the earliest story collection.

  • It is compiled by Vishnu Sharma.
  • This book is of Gupta period.

3. Hitopadesh is second famous collection of Indian stories.

  • Its writer is Narayan

4. Abhijanashkuntalamis the best text of Kalidas.

  • It contains the description of king Dushyant of (Hastinapur)

5. Two famous plays of Vishkhadutta are Mudrarakshasa and Devichandraguptam

  • In Mudarakshas there is a description of Chandragupta Maurya and in Devichandraguptam description of Gpata ruler Ramgupta.

6. Mrichchhkatika is written by Shudrak.

  • This is a social play.
  • It contains the love storey of Brahman charudata and the famous courtesan of Ujjayani, Vasantsena.

Sixteen Mahajanpadas (600 BC)

Mahajanapadas                             Capital

1. Gandhara                                     Taxila
2. Kamboja                                       —
3. Assaka (Ashrka)                          Potna
4. Vatsa                                           Kaushambi (on the bank of river Yamuna)
5. Avanti                                          Ujjain
6. Shurasena                                    Mathura
7. Chedi
8. Malla                                           Kushinara
9. Kurus                                          Hastinapur
10 Panchala
11. Matsya                                      Viratanagara
12. Vajjis (A confederacy
of republic)                                      Vaishali
13. Anga                                         Champa
14. Kashi                                         Banaras
15. Kosala                                       Sravasti
16. Magadha                                   Girivraja or Rajagriha (1st Capital)
                                                        Pataliputra (2nd Capital)

Development of science & Technology in Ancient India


  1. Vedic people knew the methods of square equal in area to triangle, rectangles, circles and to sum & differences of squares i.e., making of square equal in area to sum and differences of square.
  2. These references and descriptions are found mainly in Sulvasutras but to some extent also in Satpatha Brehamana & Taittirya Somhita.


  1. Formulation of the theory of zero, was the greatest contribution of the ancient Indian mathematics. Decimal system of notation was also developed in India.
  2. Theory of common fraction, rule of three simple and compound interest also developed in India. First reference of the rule of three is focused upon in the book of Aryabhatta.


  1. Algebraic method was first attempted by Aryaqbhatta. He was the 1st Indian Algebric. His work Aryabhattiam deals with rules for solution of a large no. of algebraic problems. He also developed the system of arithmetic progression and geometric progression.

  2. Brahmagupta around 700A.D. developed the rules for operating with negative quantities and with zero.

  3. The great contribution in this field was by Bhaskara in 1200 A.D., who developed surds. Trignometry This was given a new direction by Aryabhatta who introduced sines which was known as Jaya. Hindu mathematicians used “cosines” known as kot jaya & versed sines were also used known as utkramjaya.


1. Astronomy was a popular branch of science among the Hindu. Earliest reference of interest shown in this field is found in Taitterya Brahmana. It makes a mention of sun, moon, nakshatras and seasons

2. The first to make great contribution was Aryabhata who wrote a book Aryabhattiam.

  • The measurement of the circumference of earth by Aryabhatta is very near to modern estimation. He Propounded the theory that the earth is round and that it rotates around its own axis.
  • He gave a new theory regarding the cause of eclipse and rejected the earlier concept which was related with the myth of Rahu as a reason  for eclipses. He said eclipses are the result of the shadow of moon and earth: He also put forward the theory of planetary movement.

3. Varahamihir who was a great astronomer of this period wrote Brhatamhita; Pannchasiddhantika, Yogamaya, Laghukatha, Vivahapatal.

  • He described about the motion of Nakshatras and its impact on the human life.
  • In his works we also find descriptions of various varieties of gems and its characteristics along with the description of auspicious times of marriage and omens.

4. Other great astronomer of this period was Brahamuupta, his works are Brahmasphuta Siddhanta and Khankakhadyaka. We anticipated Newton by declaring that all things fall to earth by law of nature, for it is the nature of the earth to attract and keep things. This theory was revolutionary in nature thought it was not elaborated and explained properly.

5. Bhaskara II also contributed to astronomy and  wrote a famous book “Shiroman”, where there is a separate chapter on mathematics known as Lilavati, This separate chapter is so voluminous that I can be taken as a separated book.

6. A regard the development of Astronomy we find the progress of Astrnomy in various forms in the ancient times.

  • 1st form: Pitamaha Siddhantha beginning 300A.D.
  • 2nd form : Vashistha Siddhantha about 300A.D.
  • 3rd form: Paulis Siddhantha about 380 A.d.
  • 4th form : Romak Siddhantha about 400 A.D. (which shows the western influence)
  • 5th form: Surya Siddhantha about 450 A.D.

Medical Science

  1. The beginning in the field of Medical science was in the form of Ayurveda (science of longevity): Ayurveda emerges out of Vedas. A large no. of hymns in Atharvaveda are associated with Ayurveda.

  2. In the subsequent period (600BC) we find the emergence of medicine as a subject in various centers of learning like taxila, Two main branches of medical science. Medicine and surgery developed as separate stream in Taxila and Varansi respectively.

  3. The famous teacher “Atreya” taught medicine at Taxila university. His teachings were of great value and significance and were collected by his disciple Agnivesha; his teachings were compiled by Charaka in 100 A.D. which came to be known as Charkasamhita.

  4. Teachings of Varansi school gave birth to Sustrasamhita.
  5. One of the great contributions during the Gupta period was made by Vagbhatta who wrote Astangasangraha in 600 A.D.

Names of Gods & Goddesses

Sr. No. God/Goddess Identified with Place
1. Jagganath Vishnu Puri
2. Vithal Vishnu Pandharpur
3. Vithoba Vishnu Pandarpur
4. Ranganath Vishnu Srirangam
5. Venketeswara Vishnu Tirpati
6. Virupksh Shiva Vijayanagar
7. Minakshi WifeofShiva Madurai
8. Ardhnarishwar Shiva
9. Dakshinmurti Shiva

Facts About Inscription

Inscriptions of Ashoka

  1. First discovered by Jeifentheilar in 1750
  2. Deciphered by James Princep in 1837.
  3. Most of the Inscriptions were in Bhrahmi Script (Left to Right)
  4. Mansehra & Shahbajgarhi inscription is in Kharosthi Script.
  5. Takshila &Leghman Inscription is in Araimaic Script.
  6. Share- Kuna (Kandhar) Inscription in bilingual 9Greek-Aramaic) Script.
  7. Maski, Gujjara. Nettur and Udegolam Inscription give the name Ashoka.
  8. Thirteenth Major Rock Edict is the longest.
  9. The Pillar at Allahabad contains wueen’s Edict, Harisena’s Prasasti and Ordiances of Jehangir.
  10. Second major Rock Edict contains the names of Chols, Cheras, Keralaputra, Satyaputra
  11. Mahasthan (Bangladesh) and suhgaura copper plates work during famine.

Boghag Koi Inscription

  1. 14000 B.C.
  2. Gives Information about the oldest group of Aryans.
  3. Gives name of Vedic Goods-Indra, Varun,Mitra, Nastayas.

Hathigumpha Inscription

  1. Of Kharvela (Kings of Kalinga)
  2. Situated at Udayagiri hills

Besnagar Inscription

  1. Of Greek ambassador Heliodorus.
  2. He dedicates the pillar erected by him to the of gods Vasudev.

Uttarmerur Inscription

  1. Two Inscriptions at Uttarmerur dated 919 & 921 A.D. Respectively.
  2. Throw light on the local self government during the Chola period.

Indian History – Boks and Authors

Book Authors
Buddhacharita Asvaghosa (100AD)
Saptasataks Hala (100 A.D.)
Gathaasapatasat (Prkarit)  
Ratnavali Hashvardhana
Nagananda Hashvardhana
Priyadarshika Hashvardhana
Mudra Rakshasa Visakhadutta
Kadambari Banabhatta (700 AD)
Harsha Charita Banabhatta (700 AD)
Brihat Katha Gunadhya (200 AD)
 Katha-Sarit Sagara (Fables) Somadeva (1100AD)
 Prithvirajraso Chanderbardai
Prithvirajaya Chanderbardai
Rajtarangini (History of Kashmir , Literal Meaning : Stream of Kings) Kalhan (1200 AD)
Charak Samhita (Fit book on medicine) Charak (Contemporary of Kaniskka)
Susruta Samhita (First boo on surgery) Susruta (400 AD)
Parisistarvan (Ref. of Mauryas) Hemchandra
Mitakshaa (on law of inheritance) Vijnaneswara
Atyadhyayi (First book on Sanskrit grammer) Panini
Mahabhasya (on Sanskrit grammer) Patanjali (200 BC)
Amarkora (lexicography) Amarsimha (During the reign of Chandragupta II)
Gita Govinda Jayadeva (1200 AD)
Mattavilasa Prahasana (A buriesque) Mahendravarman (Palava King)
Hitopdesa Narayana
Panchtantra Vishnusharma
Dansagar Vallalasena
Adbhutsagar Vallalasena

Click here to download full Chapter

Click Here for Gupta & Post - Gupta Period MCQ



Study Noted for UPSC MAINS HISTORY Optional