Read the short biography of Chandragupta I

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Chandragupta, the son of Ghatotkacha, was a more powerful ruler than his two predecessors. This is not only indicated by the higher title maharajadhiraja as opposed to maharaja given to his two predecessors, but also by the number of gold coins issued by him.

From the conventional genealogy we know that Chandragupta was married to Kumaradevi of the Lichchhavi clan Samudragupta was born of this marriage, importance of this alliance has been a matt controversy among the historians.

V.A. Smith that “Kumaradevi evidently brought to her hus as her dowry valuable influence, which in co of a few years secured him a paramount pos’ in Magadha and the neighbouring countries.” A however, has held that “the pride with which Guptas refer to the matrimonial alliance with Lichchhavis was probably due rather to the ana lineage of the Lichchhavis than to any mate advantages gained by this alliance.”

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R.C. Majura’ points out that in spite of their ancient lineage Lichchhavis were regarded as Vratya in Manusamhita. It is, therefore, unlikely that Guptas would mention, with pride, the matrimo alliance with the Lichchhavis with a view increasing their social prestige. Goyal, howe situates this alliance in the context of the gene political situation prevailing during the end of third century AD and the beginning of the fo century AD The rise of the Vakatakas in the Dec influenced the politics of the states of Aryav too.

At that time the Bharashjva Nagas Padmavati were one of the greatest powers Aryavarta. Their greatest ruler was Bhavanaga, w was ruling in c. AD 305 to c. AD 340. In t beginning of the fourth century AD, the two gr rulers of the country – Pravarasena I and Bhavana – became close allies, for we find that, in c. A 300 the daughter of Bhavanaga was married to ” Vakataka crown-prince Gautamiputr Gautamiputra predeceased his father a Pravarasena I was succeeded by the son o Gautamiputra.

It is very curious, because after t death of Gautamiputra, Pravarasena I should ha been succeeded by the eldest of his remaining thr sons, and not by Rudrasena I. Goyal conjectir that in the beginning of the fourth century A Bhavanaga, who did not have a male child t succeed him, gave his daughter in marriage d Gautamiputra, on the understanding that hi daughter’s son will inherit the Vakataka as well as the Bharashiva empires.

This alliance, according to Goyal must have been regarded as a source of the greatest danger by the other neighbouring states. Thus a ‘loose confederation’ of the Kunindas and Arjunayanas along with Yaudheyas emerged. It was precisely in this period that Ghatotkacha, the second king of the Gupta dynasty, contracted a matrimonial alliance with the Lichchhavis of Magadha.

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And this, according to Goyal, was a deliberate attempt by Ghatotkacha to effectively meet the menace posed by the Vakataka-Bharashiva alliance. Viewed in this light, the assumption of the title maharajadhiraja by Chadragupta I may be regarded as a rebuff to the imperialistic ambitious of the Vakatakas and an evidence of his attempt to keep a balance of power between the north and the south.

Thus the Gupta-Lichchhavi alliance may be taken as the consequence of the Vakataka- Bharashiva alliance. No wonder, writes Goyal, if the Vakatakas and Nagas loomed so large in the politics of the immediate successors of Chandragupta I. Nagas, evidently were the first to be attacked by Samudragupta.

The political significance of this alliance lies in the fact that this resulted in the amalgamation of the two states enabling Chandragupta I to assume the imperial title of maharajadhiraja.

Since the father of Kumaradevi did not have a male issue and died before the demise of Chandragupta I, the latter might have acquired the actual control of the Lichchhavi state long before the accession of Samudragupta.

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The Guptas acquired the de jure sovereignty of that kingdom only after the accession of Samudragupta. Thus according to Goyal, Chandragupta I married Kumaradevi in c. AD 305 and ascended the throne after the death of his father in AD 319.

This alliance brought some economic advantages to the Guptas. The acquisition of Magadha (in case we accept Goyal’s theory that the Guptas originally belonged to Prayaga and the Lichchhavis were in possession of the Magadha region) provided the rulers and the merchant class with the control over the precious mines of the present Jharkhand. At least from the Kushana period onwards these mines were exhaustively worked.

Chandragupta I had all these advantages during his early periods. However, he was not content with this. On the authority of the Vishnu Purana and Vayu Purana Goyal concludes that Chandragupta I had annexed Saketa to his kingdom and Samudragupta had inherited Gupta kingdom with Saketa.

Samudragupta in his Allahabad pillar inscription does not mention the city of Saketa or its ruler among his exploits. When Chandragupta 1 died, the Guptas were the masters of the whole of the Central Ganga basin, including modern Bihar and eastern U.P. Basak thinks that Bengal was also a part of Gupta kingdom at this time whereas Goyal rejects it outright.

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Chandragupta I – Kumaradevi Coins the Chandragupta I-Kumaradevi type of coins is the earliest coins of the Guptas. According to Altekar, they were issued during the reign of Chandragupta I by the joint authority of Chandragupta I and Kumaradevi, the rulers of the Gupta and Lichchhavi states respectively.

But, according to Goyal, a daughter did not have an immediate right of succession. In the case of Kumaradevi particularly, there is no evidence to suggest that she was regarded as the successor of her father. Further, these coins have been discovered only rarely from Bihar. V.S. Agrawala has suggested that these coins were issued by the Lichchhavis.

This suggestion has not been accepted by any historian. Goyal, however, thinks that these coins were issued by Samudragupta before he issued his standard-type coins. It is quite likely, says Goyal, that when his accession was challenged by his rival brothers, he issued these medals in order to publicise the fact that he being a dvyamushyayana (the person having two kinds of parentages) had a better title to rule over the amalgamated kingdoms of the Guptas and the Lichchhavis, which other princes not connected with the Lichchhavis did not have.

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