IAS Indian History Notes: Officers of the Gupta Empire

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Dec 29, 2016

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Swati Mishra

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IAS Exam is a national level examination organized by UPSC. It is a 3-level exam starting with preliminary round followed by the Mains Exam and Personal Interview of the shortlisted candidates.

In this article, we will be focusing on one of the most important topic of Gupta Empire Viz. Officers of the Gupta Empire. The empire was divided into 26 provinces. Provinces were also divided into Vishayas and put under the control of the Vishayapatis.

The Gupta Empire is referred to as the Golden Age of India because of the extensive inventions and discoveries in science, technology, engineering, art, dialectic, literature, logic, mathematics, astronomy, religion and philosophy that illuminated the elements of Hindu Culture.

The Guptas made munificent gifts to the Brahmana’s, who expressed their gratitude by comparing the king to different gods. During the Gupta period land taxes increased in number, and those on trade and commerce decreased.

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Officers of the Gupta Empire

A Vishayapati administered the Vishaya with the help of the Adhikarana (council of representatives), which comprised four representatives: Nagarasreshesthi, Sarthavaha, Prathamakulike and Prathama Kayastha. A part of the Vishaya was called Vithi. Here, we have mentioned a table which highlights the functions of the officer of the Gupta Empire-

Officer Function
Mahabaladhikrita Commander-in-Chief
Mahadandanayak Chief Justice
Mahapratihar Maintenance of Royal Palace
Mahasandhivigrahak Post-war conciliation
Dandapashika Police department head
Bhandagaradhikreta Head of Royal treasury
Mahapaksha-patalik Head of account department
Vinayasthitisansathapak Head of education department
Sarvadhyaksha Inspector for all central department
Mahashwapati Controller of cavalry
Mahamahipilapati Controller & executor of elephantry
Vinayapura Official to present different guests at the King’s court
Yuktapurusha Office to keep account of war booty
Khadyatpakika Inspector of Royal Kitchen
Ranabhandagarika Officer in charge of Army Stores
Mahanarpati Head of infantry

Nine Gems of Chandragupta II

A circle of famous nine persons known as Nine Gems or Navaratnas were present in the court of Chandragupta II Vikramaditya. To help you in your preparation we have mentioned Nine Gems of Chandragupta II with their works that made them famous in a particular field of interest.

Name of Person Contribution in the Field of Works that made them Famous
Amarasimha Lexicography Amarakosha (Glossary)
Dhanvantri Medicine Ayurveda
Harisen Poet -
Kalidasa Dharma & Poetry Shakuntala, Meghduta etc.
Kshapanaka Astrology Jyothisyashastra
Sanku Architecture Shilpashastra
Varahamihira Astrology Brihadsamhita
Vararuchi Grammar Vyakarana (Sanskrit)
Vetalbhatta Magic Mantrashastra

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Dynastic History of Gupta Empire

The Gupta empire came into power in around 275 AD. It marked the end of 500 years of domination of the provincial powers and resulting disquiet that began with the fall of the Mauryas.

Names of the Person Dynastic History
Srigupta Founded the Gupta Dynasty in the 3rd century AD
 - He used the title of Maharaja.
Gatotkacha Gupta Succeeded Srigupta
 - He also took the title of Maharaja.
Chandragupta I (319-334 AD) Assumed the title of Maharajadhiraja.
 - Started the Gupta Era in 319 AD.
Samundra Gupta (335-380 AD) Has been called the Indian Napoleon by V.A Smith.
 - During southern campaign, Virasen was his commander-in-chief.
 - Buddhist scholar Vasubandhu was his minister.
 - Eran inscription (Madhya Pradesh) is a useful source of information of his campaign.
 - Assumed the titles of Vikramanka and Kaviraja.
Chandra Gupta II (380-412 AD) He is credited with the maintaining in his court nine gems (Navrantnas) - Kalidas, Amarsinh, Dhanvantiri, Varahminhira, Vararuchi, Ghatakarna, Kshapranak, Velabhatt and Shanku.
 - Adopted the title of Vikramaditya.
 - First Gupta ruler who had started silver coin.
Kumara Gupta I (413-467 AD) During his reign, Hunas invaded India.
 - He founded Nalanda University.
Skanda Gupta (455-467 AD) He was Vaishnava but followed the tolerant policy of his predecessors.

Salient Features of the Guptas History

The participation of leading artisans, merchants, elders, and others in the rural and urban administration also lessened the need to maintain a large retinue of officers. The period was also marked by the growing significance of land grants which led to decentralization of political authority of the king and finally gave birth to feudalism in Indian history.

Administration of Gupta Empire Art and Architecture during the Gupta Empire
Gupta rulers has organized a huge army. Most remarkable - Bhitari monolithic pillar of Skandagupta.
Council of ministers and civil officials assisted the king Nagara and Dravidian styles of art came during this period.
The royal seal bore the imprint of Garuda. Unearthed statue of Buddha at Sarnath is a symbol of Gupta art.
Forced labour or Vishti was also practised in royal Army. Buddhist author Amarasimha created Amarakosa.
All the power was concentrated with the king. Paintings of Ajanta mostly demonstrate the life of the Buddha.

Remember not to commit mistakes. Studying history can provide us with insight into our cultures of origin as well as cultures with which we might be less familiar. So, the more we study history, the wiser we become.

All the best!!!


*The article might have information for the previous academic years, please refer the official website of the exam.

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