Here is your essay on the culture of the Gupta Age



In Ancient India the Gupta rulers were famous for their contribution to the Indian culture and tradition. There was the all round development in all aspects of the human life in the Gupta administration.

The Gupta Empire was a well organised state under a succession of versatile and mighty sovereigns who led it from one point of achievement to another. There was comparative political stability and lawlessness or insubordination was comparatively little.

Trade and commerce flourished as people enjoyed comparative security to move about the country in pursuit of their vocations. Consequently there was comparative prosperity reflected in the value and culture of the age. India under the Guptas, even looked beyond its frontiers and developed commercial and cultural contacts outside India.

The period found its expression in the ideal of 'dharanibandh' or the binding of all land in India in a common political bond. It was in the pursuit of this ideal that Samudragupta launched his conquest of all frontiers or 'Digvijay'. Chandragupta-II again carried his banner from the shores of the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea in the West; perhaps even cross the Indus to 'Vahilka or Balkh'.

V.A. Smith writes, "Experience proves that the contact or collision of diverse modes of civilization is the most potent stimulus to intellectual and artistic progress and the eminents achievements of the Gupta period are mainly due to such contact with foreign civilizations, both on the East and on the West."

R.K. Mookherji writes, "The country enjoying peace at home and the blessings of an ordered Government, not troubled by political unrest or unsettlement became a live self consciour unit, expressing itself in a variety of political and creative movements, economic and cultural". So the ideal conditions available in the Gupta Age led to the unprecedented development of the Indian culture.

Social Condition:

During the Gupta age the people were generous, virtuous, rich and prosperous. Ahimsa or non-violence was the principle of majority of people. Majority of the people were vegetarian.

The people were rich and had no want. Crimes and theft were very less in the society. Cotton dress was used by the common people.

Whereas the rich people used costly and silken garments. Both men and women used ornaments which included necklaces, anklet, bangles, armlets, ear rings, finger rings and girdles.

"Dice and chess were the favourite indoor pass times and hunting, ram fights and cock fights were principal outdoor amusements. Ball game or Kanduka Kreeda was popular with women and children, the latter used to gather on festive occasions and have a variety of physical games." Both in the towns and villages wrestling and athletics were popular various kinds of festivals were also organised in the society.

In the royal family polygamy was in vogue. But women were forbidden to contract a second marriage. There was no restriction on inter caste marriage. Men of higher castes often married women of lower castes.

This was called Anuloma marriage. There was also marriage of women of higher castes with men of lower castes and this was called Pratiloma Marriage.

Economic Condition:

The people enjoyed a sound economic condition during the Gupta Age. Agriculture, Trade and Industry, flourished without any hindrance.

The articles of production included wheat, rice, sugarcane, jute, oil seeds, cotton, spices betelnuts and betel leaves To develop the agriculture special care was taken for irrigation by digging wells, tanks and canals.

Both inland and external trade developed in the Gupta period


The revival of Brahmanism was the most spectacular phenomenon of religious life during the Gupta period. The Gupta emperors worked sincerely for the development of Saivism and Vaishnavism. The growing importance of Bhukti was the remarkable feature of the religious life.

Most of the Gupta rulers were worshippers of Vishnu. Chandragupta- II was a devotee of Vishnu. He styled himself as Parama Bhagabat.

His coins were inscribed with the picture of the bird Garuda, the bahana of Vishnu. Kumargupta-I was a devotee of Kartikeya. There was also the Sakti worship during this period.

Another important feature of this period was that the older Gods were replaced by some new Gods. The most famous of them were Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswar (Siva). Besided them the worship of the Gods like Sun. Kartikeya. Ganesh and the goddess like Durga. Kali and Laxmi came into vogue.

Mandasor Inscription says that the worship of Sun-God was also widely prevalent among the people. Numbers of temples were constructed during this period for Gods and Goddess. Doctrine of Avataras or incarnation was another feature of the religion of this period.

The method of worship was very simple in the Gupta period. Elaborate rites and rituals lost their importance. The religious life of the people became one of devotion, morality, love, friendship and non-violence. Of course there were instances of horse sacrifice by some Gupta rulers.

Another brilliant aspect of the Gupta religions was the tolerance of other religions. While Gupta an Emperor patronised Brahminical Hindusim at the same time they tolerated and honoured other religions.

The Jainas and the Buddhists enjoyed complete religious freedom due to Gupta Patronage the Buddhist monastery at Nalanda flourished during this period. Sam udragupta had appointed the Buddhist scholar Vasuvandu as the tutor his son. Amrakardev the commander of Chandragupta -II was a Buddhist.

At this time Buddhism was popular Punjab, Kashmir, Mathura, Bihar and Bengal. There were also Jaina Temples where Jaina images were worshipped and jaina festivals were celebrated.


Education progressed a lot during the Gupta age. The students used to get their education residing in the houses of renowned teachers or Acharyas. Importance was given on moral and health educations.

The courses of study included Vedas. Puranas. Smritis, Logic, Philosophy. Sanskrit Grammar and Astronomy.

Technical education was also imparted to the students. After completing their education the students used to make voluntary payments to the Guru. The Gurus were also given grants and donations by the rich people and merchants. The famous centuries of learing were Pataliputra, Vallavi. Kanchi, Varanasi and Ujjain.


The Gupta age saw a dazzling outburst of literature due to the partonage of the Gupta rulers. Sanskrit language became the main current of the flow of the literature; Sanskrit occupied the position of state language. The renowned Sanskrit scholar of the west, Max-Muller, has described the Gupta Age as the Age of Renaissance in Sanskrit language age and literature.

The courts of the Gupta kings were the citadels of literary attainments. Among the literary talents Harishena the Sandhibigrahak of Samudragupta was the foremost.

He was the author of Allahabad Prasasti, another outstanding poet of Chandragupta-II's period was Virasena. Samudragupta himself was a poet par-excellence. And for this he was given the title of 'Kaviraj' by Harisena, The Chandragupta was adorned by a galaxy of nine celebrated scholars known as the 'Nava Ratna' or Nine Gems, They were Dhanwantari, Kshyapanaka, Amarsingh, Sanku, Betalbhat, Ghatakarpoor, Kalidas, Barahmihir and Bararuchi. Kalidas was the most brilliant genius among these nine Pandits.

The chief works of Kalidas are two epics, namely the Raghuvamsa (story of the face of Raghu), the Kumar Sambhava (The Birth of the War- god-and two lyrical poems, the Ritu Samhara (cycle of season), and the Meghadutta (cloud Messenger) arc the four costliest jewels.

Kalidas was also proficient in writing plays. His best plays are Abhijnana Sakuntalam, Vikramorvasiyam and Malavikagnimitram. Abhijnana Sakuntlam has been translated into many language of the world. Kalidas has been regarded as the Shakespeare of India. V.A. Smith writes, "In India all the lesser lights are outshore by the brilliancy of Kalidas, as in England all the smaller authors are overshadowed by Shakespeare."

Two other dramatists were Vishakhadatta and Sudraka. Vishakhadatta lias written two dramas. Mudrarakhasa and Devichandraguptam. Sudraka wrote the social drama Mrichchakatikam or the clay cart. It is a rare product of Sanskrit literature. It is rich in humour and pathos and full of lively description.

The dramatist Bhasa is the author of the dramas Svapnavasvdatta and Charudatta.

Bharavi was a great poet of this age. He was famous for precious work 'Kiratarjuniyam'.

Another scholar Bharatrihari composed Shrinagara Sataka. Nitishat and Vairagya Sataka.

In the art of prose writing the Gupta Age had also opened a new chapter. Vishnusarma and Dandin were the famous prose writers of this age. Vishnusarma has written 'Panchatantra' which is a collection of interseting fables. Dandin had written Dasakumar Charita. Subandhu the author of Vasvadatta belonged to the Gupta Age.

Amarkosh the popular Sanskrit dictionary of words was compiled by Atnarsingha. Kainasutra a work on erotics by Vatsayan was a commendable work.

Indian philosophy also entered into a new phase during the Gupta Age. The most outstanding Buddhist philosophers of this time were Vasubandhu. Asanga and Dignaga.

The 'Gatha Samgraha' and 'Paramartha Sapati' of Vasubandhu 'Mahavan Sutalankar' and Yogacharya Shastra' of Dignaga are a few of the outstanding works on philosophy. Islnvara Krishna's 'Sankhyakarika' is equally a commendable work Mathematics and Astronomy also progressed remarkably during the Gupta age.

Aryabhatta was the famous scientist and math matician of this age. Aryabhatiyam was his well known work which deals with Arithmetic, Algebra and Geometry. Aryabhatta also wrote Suryasidhanta. He declared that the earth rotates round its axis. He also explained the real causes of the solar and lunar eclipses.

Barahmihira was another famous man of this age. He was a great mathematician and astronomer of the Gupta age. On astronomy his famous wok is Panchasidhanta. He was also the author of Brihajataka, Laghujataka.

Brahmagupta was also another famous astronomer and mathematician of this period. He is the author of Brahmasidhanta and Khandakhadvaka. He had declared long before Newton that. "All things fall to the earth by a law of nature for it is the nature of the earth to attract and keep things."

Vagabhatta the renowned physician of this period wrote Ashtanga Sanghraha a monumental work on medicine Palakapya, the scientist had written Haslayurveda a valuable work on veterinary science.

Chemistry as branch of science made notable progress during the Gupta period. Metallurgically science was far more advanced in India than in other countries.

The Iron Pillar of the Gupta period found at Mehrauli near Delhi bears testimony to this fact. This pillar is seven meters high and is forty centimeter in diameter. The wonderful pillar had not rusted through centuries of time, through exposed to rains and atmosphere.


V. A. Smith has remarked "the three closely allied arts of architecture, sculpture and painting attained an extra-ordinarily high point of achievement."

Countless temples and other religious monuments were constructed during the Gupta Age. Majestic temples for various Hindu goods such as Vishnu. Siva, Surya and Kartikeya, as well as splendid shrines for the Buddhaand the Jaina Trithankaras were erected in many parts of the country many wonderful gateways lofty pillars and attractive edifices were j constructed by the supta bulders at holy places and religious centres.

But the ravages of time and the invaders like Huns and the Muslims have destroyed most of the architectural monuments of the Gupta period.

For the first time in the Gupta Age. Pennanent materials like bricks and stones were used in place of wood and bamboo. The best specimen of Gupta architectural monuments are the beautiful. Dasavatara temple at Deograh in the Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh, the Vishnu temple at Tigowa in Jabalpur district of Madhya Pradesh, the Siva temple at Bhunira in Madhya Pradesh and the brick temple at-Bhitaragaon in Kanpur district of Uttar Pradesh, the temple of Paravati in the former Ajaigarh state and the Sanchi.

The iron pillar built by Kumar Gupta at Mehrauli in Delhi and Garuda pillar pf Keshnagar are two other examples of their architectural greatness. Other examples of superb architecture are the Buddhist caves at Ellora and Ajanta and at Baghat, Udaygiri in Bhopal the devotees of Brahmanical faith made their rock caves, The Buddhist Stupas at Mitpurkhas and the Dhamekh Stupa at Saranath are most remarkable.

The royal palace situated at Pataliputra was another imposing structure of exquisite beauty. Fashien described about the Buddhist monasteries of Hinavart faith and Mahayana faith at Pataliputra. The cities such as Ujjain, Ayodhya and Kausambi speak about- the architectural greatness of the Guptas.


Sculpture reached at its perfection in the Gupta Age. The sculptures were matured enough to transform stone into images of superb beauty.

The sculpture of this period was not influenced by any foreign ideas. The sculpture covered both Buddhist subject and incidents from Puranic Mythology. The images of the Gods and Goddesses of the Gupta period represent human figure and more elegant, refined and spiritual.

The best specimens of sculptural achievements are the famous preaching - Buddha and the seated Buddha of Saranth the Vishnu image of Mathura and the images of Vishnu and Siva in the temple of Deogarh and the one headed image of Siva at Koha. Images of Siva, Surya.

Gajalaxmi. Kuvera and of Mahavir Jain were also executed during the Gupta Age. The Deogarh temple sculpture depicts the legends of Rama and Krishnna. "The images of the Gupta period present a beautiful figure, full of charm and dignity, graceful pose and radiant spiritual expression."


Paintings reached at the climax stage during the Gupta period. The artists draw the picture in a super way and used bright colours. The subject matter of drawing was spiritual themes as secular.

Their skill was of highly advanced and matured nature. The painting looked most natural and life like. The painting on the walls of the caves at Ellora and Ajanta at Aurangabad in Maharashtra and at Bagh in Malwa speak eloquently of their skill in painting.

The realities of life are shown in those paintings. Buddha's life from the Jataka stories is depicted in the paintings. The scenes of "The Dying Princess" and "The mother and the child" among other numerous scene, show the excellent skill of the artists in presenting human figures together with their feeling, emotion, pathos, sentiment and mood.

The subjects of painting at Ajanta included the decorative designs like flowers, trees, animals, mythological beings like Gandharva and Apsara, figures of Buddha and Boddhisatlavas. The painting of the Gupta period is called fresco painting.


The art of numismatic also developed a lot in the Gupta period. Samudragupta and Chandragupta-II issued various types of gold and silver coins. Some of the coins depict figure of Goddess Laxmi with elephant.

Different postures of a king like shooting a tiger or ridding a horse or playing with a flute are depicted on these coins. The picture of the violin- play drawn on the coin of Samudragupta indicates the popularity of music.

A Kumaraswami writes, "Gupta art is the flower of the established, tradition as a polished and perfect medium, like the Sanskrit language, for the establishment of thought and feeling. Philosophy and faith possess a common language this art that is at once abstract and sensuous, reserved and passionate."

Trade and Commerce: Both internal and external trade of India flourished during the Gupta Age. Indian then established her trade relations with Ceylon. Burma.

Indo China Persia and the East-Indian isles like Java, Bali and Sumatra. Indians also established maritime contact with the countries in Africa. Arabia, Persia and the mediterranean lands.

On land routes she had her contact with Afghanistan. Central Asia, China and West Asia. It is said that India even came in, trade contact with Rome during that period Indians use to export silken clothes to the Roman World.

The principal items which Indians exported then were clothes, food materials, spices, salt and precious stones.

Thus India had seen a unprecedented progress of its culture during Gupta age.