University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
The era that brought India into the map of cultural prominence was during the rule of the Gupta Dynasty. The 4th and 5th century C. E. is considered as the Golden Age of India. The attainment of this Golden Age was made possible by the rule and influence of the Gupta Dynasty, which fostered the development of both the cultural and the political might of India during its time. The Gupta Rulers Chandragupta I, son of Ghatotkacha, was the fist imperial ruler of the empire situated in the north of the then India in the Vindhya Range.
By marrying the princess of Licchavis, he formed alliance with the clan and begun power expansion. One of the important administrative systems that he established during his reign was the assembly of councilors that nominated his successor. The largest territorial expansion of the empire was undertaken during the reign of Samudragupta, son of Chandragupta I. His campaign established the largest political unit in South Asia at that time (Heitzman, 2007). He is considered as one of the greatest military geniuses in the history of India.
One of his notable contributions was the establishment of coins made of pure gold. More than an exemplary military leader, he was also a patron of the arts as he was a celebrated poet and musician. He made coinage as the expertise of his time. Chandragupta II further expanded the empire through war conquests. His power was extended from coast-to-coast; and his reign became the economical high point of the empire through the establishment of trading capitals. During the reign of Kumaragupta I, the Pushyamitras tribe became powerful and had post threat to the empire.
His successor, Skandagupta, considered the last of the great Gupta rulers, defeated the tribe but the territory was later on invaded by the White Huns. This defeat signaled the start of the decline of the empire. The Impact of the Empire The Gupta Dynasty is highly regarded for their contributions to the arts and culture of South Asia. Though the rulers’ cultural role was limited, their coinage expresses their being patrons of the arts (Heitzman, 2007). According to Hooker (1996), the era’s cultural creativity is exemplified in magnificent architecture, sculpture and paintings.
The paintings found in the Ajanta Cave are considered to be the most powerful works of the Indian art. Literature also flourished during that time of Indian history. The Gupta Empire had produced one of the greatest writers of poetry, Kalidasa. He is known for his lyric poetry and dramas, not only in India but also in Asian and even Western circles. It is also observed that the trading ports of the empire made the Indian culture dominant in the region. The period of the Gupta Dynasty was the period of “Greater India” (Hooker, 1996).
Their cultural influences were extended through Burma, Cambodia and Sri Lanka. Another cultural legacy of the dynasty is the coinage system and effective administrative system. Their government was governed with only one taxation system centralized to the empire capital in Pataliputra. The kings remained to be the vassal kings where the entire kingdom was consolidated into single administrative unit (Hooker, 1996). The era of the Gupta Dynasty has not only uplifted the country politically but culturally as well.
It has spilled over its influence in the South Asian region through wide range of trading products and services. Though it was later on buried in the pages of Indian history, its legacy to the Indian nation continue to this age. Its cultural heritage truly makes India one of the richest cultures in the world.
Hooker, Richard (1996). The Age of the Guptas and After. Ancient India. Retrieved September 17, 2007 from http://www. wsu. edu/~dee/ANCINDIA/GUPTA. HTM Heitzman, James (2007). Gupta Dynasty. Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2007. Retrieved September 17, 2007 from http://encarta. msn. com.