Ancient Indian history: The Gupta Era
(320 AD - 520 AD)
the fourth century AD a new Indian dynasty, the Guptas, arose in Magadha
and established a large kingdom over the greater part of northern India.
This period is also referred as the 'Classical Age' of ancient India,
and lasted for more than 200 years. Our knowledge of this period comes
from Fa-hien, a Chinese traveller. 'Gupta' India was far in advance of
any country in the known world. There was a great Buddhist university at
Nalanda in Bihar, which attracted students from all over Asia.
Guptas were in origin probably a family of the wealthy landowners who
gradually gained political control in the region of Magadha. The founder
of the Gupta dynasty, Chandragupta I ascended the throne in about 320
AD. The kingdom was enlarged by his son, Samudragupta, who fought
against a number of kings and annexed territories in the northern part
of the sub-continent. However, his direct political control was only
over the Ganges valley, as compared with the Mauryan kings.
was during the reign of Samudragupta's successor, Chandragupta II (also
known as Vikramaditya), that the Gupta ascendancy was at it's peak. He
conducted a victorious campaign in western India against the Shakas (338
AD - 409 AD). He made a matrimonial alliance with the Vakataka dynasty,
the successors to the Satavahana power, thus ensuring friendly relations
to the south of his domain. Chandragupta II is also remembered for his
patronage of learning and the arts
the works of Kalidasa exemplify the literary craftsmanship of this
period. The Panchatantra, a collection of fables was another popular
work. The Kamasutra also dates to this period. Astronomy saw spectacular
progress. In AD 499, Aryabhatta calculated Pi as 3.1416 and the length
of the solar year as 365.358 days. He also postulated that the Earth was
a sphere rotating on it's own axis and revolving around the Sun as well
as the exact cause of eclipses.
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