Political History of the Pre-Gupta Period
- Sungas—Pushyamitra Sunga assassinated Brihadratha, the last Maurya ruler and founded the Sunga dynasty.
- Kanvas—Vasudeva, the minister of the last Sunga ruler, murdered his master and founded the Kanvas Suserman, the last Kanva ruler, was killed by Pulamayi I of Satavahanas.
- Satavahanas—Simukha was the founder and Pulamayi III was the last Satavahana ruler.
- Gautamiputra Satakarni was the greatest Satavahana ruler, praised in Nasik Inscription.
- Sri Satakarni is praised in the Nanaghat and Hathigumpha Inscriptions.
- Feudal practices began during this period.
- Decline of the Satavahanas by 220 A.D. due to the constant conflict with the Sakas and the claiming of independence by local governors.
- Indo-Greeks—They were the first foreign rulers of north-western India in the post-Maurya period.
- Introduction of Hellenistic art features in the north-western India.
- They were the first to issue gold coins.
- Menander was the most famous of all the Indo-Greek rulers.
- Among the five branches of Sakas with their seats of power in different parts of India, the most important was the one which ruled in western India till the fourth century A.D.
- Moga was the first Saka ruler in western India.
- The most famous Saka ruler in India was Rudradaman I.
- Other important Saka rulers in India were Nahapana, Ushavadatta, Ghamatika, Ghastana etc.
- Replaced the Sakas in north-western India.
- Originally they were from Iran.
- The most famous Parthian king was Gondophernes.
Kushans Replaced the Parthians in north - western India.
- They were one of the five Yenchi clans of Central Asia.
- The most famous of all the Kushan rulers was Kanishka.
- He started the Saka era in 78 A.D.
- Vasudeva I was the last Kushana ruler.
- Nagas replaced the Kushanas.
- The inscriptions of the Varman dynasty show that during the reign of Chandragupta II and Kumaragupta I, there was an indigenous line of Varman kings who ruled independently in the neighbourhood of Mandasore over a great part of Malwa, without recognising the supremacy of the Guptas.
- The prasastis and the Tamra Sasanas usually provide us information on the genealogy of the kings.
- The Tamra Sasanas are more useful in determining the economic condition of their times.
- Kamandaka’s Nitisara—It is relied upon for the polity and administration of the Guptas.
- Narada Smiriti and Brihaspati Smriti.
- Art of the Sunga, Satavahana and Saka-period.
- Private and Public records of the Gupta officials.
- Stone and Copper Plate Edicts.
- The Gupta coins.
- Abhijnana Sakuntalam, Meghdootam, Raghuvamsam, Malavikagnimitram, Ritusambhava, Kirmarasambhava etc. of Kalidasa.
- Viskhadatta’s Devi Chandra-guptam.
- Vajjika’s Kaumudi Mahotsava.
- Sudraka’s Mrichchakatika.
- Kathasarithasagar by Somadeva.
- Puranas, Kalijugaraja-Vrithanta, and Arya Manjusri Mulakalpa.
- The accounts of Chinese pilgrims, viz. Wang Huein Tse, Fa-Hien, Hiuen-Tsang and I-tsing.
- The important sources of information on Samudra Gupta’s reign are the Allahabad stone piller inscription, Eran stone pillar inscription, malanda and Gaya copper plates and his Standard, Archer, Battle-axe, Asvamedha, Tiger-Slayer and Lyrist types of gold coins.
Chronology of Kings
Chandragupta I 320-335
Chandragupta II 380-415
Kumaragupta I 415-455
Buddha Gupta 477 (about) 500
Know the Important Facts
- The Jatakas constantly refer to the standard number of 18 important handicrafts and industries.
- A brick-built dyeing vat has been unearthed at Uraiyur. Similar dyeing vats were excavated at Arikamedu.
- In Taxila, we find silver ornaments, some bronze pots, one jar and coins of the Roman emperor Triberius.
- The Kushans probably obtained gold from Central Asia. They may also have procured it either from Karnataka or from the gold mines of Dhalbhum in South Bihar.
- The Andhras issued a large number of lead or potin coins in the Deccan, and the Kushans issued the largest number of copper coins in northern and north-western India.
- The excavations at Snokh in Mathura show as many as seven levels of the Kushan phase, and only one of the Gupta phase.
- Ujjain was the most important town of that period because of its being the nodal point of two routes, one from Kausambi and the other from Mathura. Also famous for its export of agate and Carnelian stones.
- The most popular and typical pottery of the Pre-Gupta period is Red ware.
- During the reign of Gondophernes, St. Thomas came to India to propagate Christianity.
- Bacterian Greeks were the first to invade India and rule over North Western India.
- Primogeniture was the traditional basis of succession (Allahabad Pillar Inscription)
- The kings adopted high sounding titles like Paramabhagavata, Parama-daivata, Achintya-purusha, Parama-bhattaraka and Madhu-rajadhiraja etc.
- The king was the supreme head of state and administration. (Bhittari Pillar Inscription).
- Only the chief queen in the Gupta age was designated as Mahadevi ministers and officials.
- Vigrahika (minister for war and peace) Kumaramatyas (cadet-minister) and Mantri-Kumaramatyas. Mahapratihara was the chief of the palace guards.
- The Mahabaladhikrita was the commander-in-chief of the royal army.
- The Mahapilupati was the head of the elephant force.
- Bhogika was in charge of the royal cavalry.
- Akshapataladhikrita was the keeper of the royal records.
- Vriui was the subsistence allowance of the king.
- The state claimed one fourth to one-sixth of the produce of the land as its share.
- Udranga, Uparikara, Kalpta, Hiranya, Kara, Bali and Visthi (forced labour) were other taxes and royal dues.
- Provincial Administration
- The provinces were called Desas or Bhuktis and were governed by Uparikas.
- The Uparika may represent the pradesikas of the Ashokan epigraphs and in the same as the Amatyas of the Satavahana provinces.
- The provinces were divided into districts, called Vishayas.
- Each vishaya was administrated by a royal official, known as the Adhisthana Adhikarna.
- Ranabhandahi-Karana was the military exchequer.
- Dandaparsadhikarna, office of the chief of police.
- Vinayasthiti-Sthapaka, office of minister in charge of law and order.
- Bhatasvapati, head of the infanltry and cavalry.
- Mahapratikara, chief chamberlain
- Vinayasur, chief censor.
- Village Administration
- The administrative and judicial business of villages were carried on by the Gramikas.
- He was assisted by a grouof village elders, such as Kutumbikas, Mahamataras etc.
- The royal servant in the village was the Gram-Vridha.