Short Essay on the Later Guptas

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A line of kings, which was contemporary of the Maukhari dynasty, is known as the Later Gupta dynasty. The name Later Gupta is given by modern historians to distinguish it from the imperial Guptas.

This line of rulers was not at all related to the imperial Guptas. They, too, were at first feudatory to the imperial Guptas, and came into prominence and gained independence about the same time as the Maukharis. This dynasty lasted till about the middle of the eighth century AD.

The early history of this dynasty is known from the Aphsad inscription of Adityasena, the eighth king of the dynasty. The genealogy given in this record is:

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I. Krishnagupta -» 2. Harshagupta -> 3. Jivitagupta -> 4. Kumaragupta -> 5. Damodargupta -> 6. Mahasenagupta -» 7. Madhavagupta -» 8. Adityasena

Adityasena was the first king to assume the full imperial title. Although initially the Later Guptas and the Maukharis were related by marriage, they fought each other later. Krishnagupta, the first king, may be placed in c. AD 490-505.

His son Harshagupta succeeded him and ruled till AD 525. Jivitagupta, the third ruler, reigned from AD 525 to 545. Kumaragupta (AD 540-560), the fourth king, defeated the Maukhari king, Ishanavarman, in AD 554. And thus he laid the foundation of the greatness of the family.

He, according to R.C. Majumdar, established himself as the first independent ruler factor, if not de jure. Since no record of the imperial Gupta family is known after AD 543, we may assume that some time about AD 550 both Ishanvarman and Kumaragupta assumed independence.

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Some scholars believe that the Later Guptas originally ruled in Malwa, and it was only after the reign of Harshavardhana that they came into possession of Magadha. Kumaragupta is said to have died at Prayaga after his victory over Ishanavarman. The struggle continued during the reign of Damodargupta, son of Kumaragupta. Damodargupta achieved a great victory over the Maukharis.

Damodargupta was succeeded by his son Mahasenagupta in the last quarter of the sixth century AD. He seems to have gained a victory ever Susthitavarman of Kamarupa. However, the simultaneous attack by the Maukharis and the king of Kamarupa resulted in setbacks for Mahasenagupta.

Further, it was during his reign that Shashanka founded an independent kingdom in Gauda (Bengal). The Chalukya king Kirtivarman, who ruled from AD 567 to 597, is also said to have attacked Anga, Vanga and Magadha at this time only. Srong Tsan, the king of Tibet (AD 581-600), also led a campaign against Mahasenagupta. After these losses, Mahasenagupta seems to have taken shelter in Malwa.

Thereafter, for nearly half a century, the Later Guptas were overshadowed by Harsha’s imperial kingdom in northern India. Madhavagupta, son of Mahasenagupta, was again made a king of Magadha by Harshavardhana and was succeeded by his son Adityasena in AD 650.

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He assumed the title of maharajadhiraja and gave his daughter in marriage to the Maukhari king Bhogavarman. After the death of Harshavardhan, Adityasena was able to establish a fairly large kingdom. His reign came to an end in AD 675.

The three successors of Adityasena – Devagupta, Vishnugupta and Jivitagupta II – were rulers of some consequence. Jivitagupta II appears to have perished fighting Yashovarman of Kanauj and the Later Gupta dynasty disappeared.

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