Complete biography of Kumaragupta-I (Mahendraditya)

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Chandragupta-II was succeeded by his son Kumaragupta-I, who assumed the title of “Mahendraditya” and enjoyed a long reign of forty years (spreading from 414 to 455 A.D ). He was also a great ruler and was able to keep intact his Empire including the newly acquired provinces of Western India.

Like all other great rulers he performed the “Asvamedha Yanjna” or “Horse-sacrifice” ceremony which was confirmed by “Asvamedha coins”. The discovery of his 1395 coins unmistakably confirm his extension towards the South. His period is also regarded as forming part of “the Golden Age” of the Guptas.

Towards the middle of the fifth century A.D. the reign of the Kumaragupta-I was disturbed by the revolt of Pushyamitra tribe and the invasion of the Hunas. But his greatest achievement was his repulsing the attack of the Pushyamitra. Hunas were also defeated by the crown prince Skandagupta.

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Kumaragupta-I was a successful ruler who kept intact the vast empire inherited from his father and also maintained peace and prosperity within its frontiers. The suppression of Pushyamitras rebellion and the defeat of Hunas by his crown prince proves that the military strength of the empire also remained intact under him.

A Vasavadatta by Subandhu. Mudrarakshasa by Visakhadatta. Mrichchakatikam by Sudraka. Dasakumaracharita by Dandin. Amarakosh by Amarasingh. Kamasutra by Vatsayayana. Aryabhaltiyam by Aryabhatta. Brihat-Samhita by Varahamihira.

After the death of Kumaragupta-I Skandagupta succeeded in 455 A.D. and reigned for twelve years i.e. 455 to 467 A.D. Skandagupta was engaged in hostilities against his enemies almost from the beginning of his reign. But he proved himself a capable general. He defeated the hostile Pushyamitras.

But, while he was busy in fighting against the Hunas, probably, the Vakatakas ruler Narendrasen occupied Malwa. However, the rest of the territories of empire was kept intact by him.

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He had defeated the Hunas once as the crown-prince but they were yet threatening the empire with the penetration into the Indian territories. Skandagupta valiantly fought with them and defeated them so severely about 460 A.D. that they could not dare to attack the empire for nearly fifty years.

Skandagupta has been regarded as the last great Gupta ruler. The empire began to decline after his death and the family could not produce a single ruler who could successfully check this decline. The Hunas war, and possibly other battles which are only vaguely mentioned in official records must have proved a great strain on the financial resources of the empire. This is reflected in the coins of Skandagupta.

The gold coins issued by the Skandagupta were not only comparatively small in number and belonged to a single type but show depreciations in the purity of gold.

Agrahara grants were restricted to Brahmanas. These grants were meant to be perpetual, heritable and tax free.

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The Nalanda and Gaya grants of Samudragupta are the earliest record that throw light on the Agrahara grants. Devagrahara grants were for the secular parties or persons such as writers, merchants etc. who administered them for religious purposes.

Certain designations of administrative officers such as ‘Bhagika’ and ‘Bogapatika’ and administrative units of the Gupta period suggest that land revenues were granted for remunerating government servants.

Nevertheless, we have evidence of large works of public utility undertaken at a distant comer of his empire. An inscription in the Gimar hill near Junagarh in Kathiawar refers to the restoration of the ancient Sudarsana Lake which had burst owing to excessive rain burst its embankment in 455-56 A.D.

His Governor, Panadatta, who was the inchaige of the province of Saurashtra, repaired the damages and saved the people from great calamity.

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It shows us that the process of empire building started by Samudragupta was nearly completed so far at least as North India was concerned. The command of Skandagupta was obeyed by his Governors of Bengal and Kathiawar Peninsula.

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