The origin and early history of gupta family is shrouded is obscurity The name or surname “Gupta” is not absolutely unknown to Ancient Indian History. In the Sunga and Satavahana records we find many officials with the surname of “Gupta”. But their relation with the imperial Guptas cannot be established.
Different historians have different views about the origin of the Guptas. Dr. Romila Thaper has observed that, probably the Gupta family was one of wealthy land-owners who gradually gained political control in the region of Magadha. It is also possible that the family belonged to one of the many petty ruling families in the area of Magdha or around Magdha.
Similarly nothing is certain about caste of family. Some scholars have suggested that it was a “Vaisya” family”, Dr. K.R Jayaswal has maintained that they belonged to the “Jat” tribe of Punjab. Dr. Allan and some others have observed that they lived somewhere in Magadha near Pataliputra itself Dr D.C. Ganguli says that they belonged to district Murshidabad in Bengal.
Dr. R.C. Majumdar and Dr. S. Chattopadhya have opined that their original place was ‘Varendri’ in Bengal. Therefore, it is assumed that the family originally lived near the boundaries of Magadha and Bengal.
The founder of the Gupta dynasty was Sri Gupta. It is clearly mentioned in the Puranas that the descendants of ‘Gupta’ will rule over the provinces of Prayaga, Saketa and Magadha. The names of the rulers of the Gupta series have been noticed in the inscriptions also. This inscriptions also prove that ‘Gupta or ‘Sri Gupta was the founder of this dynasty.
From this sentence, we come to two conclusions : First the word ‘Sri’ has been used not only for the first ruler and the founder of dynasty, but also for all the kings in order to show respect. Hence, ‘Gupta’ or ‘Sri Gupta’ should be one man, who laid the foundation of the Gupta dynasty.
Secondly, the title of ‘Maharaj’ has been used for the third, i.e. Chandragupta-I. Some historians hold the opinion that the first two rulers (Sri Gupta and Ghatotkacha) were feudal chiefs while Chandragupta-I was an independent ruler. This view does not seem to be correct.
The title of ‘Maharajadhiraj’ adopted by Chandra-gupta-I indicates that he was a more powerful ruler than the others and he extended his ancestral kingdom.