BALLB history sample question answer Guptas administration: ADMINISTRATION OF GUPTAS ,Give account of the administrative and social structure under Chandra Gupta II
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Q. 1. Give account of the administrative and social structure under Chandra Gupta II
Ans. Samudra Gupta died in 375 AD whether Chandra Gupta II succeeded him or that he ascended after Ram Gupta, is disputable. The reason is that Chandra Gupta II sat on the throne five years after the death, it is said, lost to the Shakas between Ram Gupta would have ruled. Ram Gupta, it is said, lost to the Shakas and agreed to the humiliating term of surrendering his wise, Dhuruvadevi, to them. Chandra Gupta II could not bear the insult and went to the Shaka’s camp with his chosen warriors, in the guise of women and defeated the Shakas. He returned murdered his brother, Ram Gupta, married his wise Dhuruvadevi and became the king, in 380 AD, under the assumed title of Vikramaditya.
Conquest-Having assumed the throne, he made efforts to consolidate his sway over the empire for which he had to fight a series of battles. Following is the descriptions of his conquests :
(1) End of the republics – Chandra Gupta II annexed weak republics, into his vast empire, which lay between the Magadhan empire
and foreign states namely: from Madragan in the north to Kharpatik in the south.
(2) End of the Shaka Satrapas – Chandra Gupta II invaded the Satrapas of Malva, Gujarat and although they had acceded to his overlordship and annexed them into his empire. The border of his empire touched the sea in the west which brought him in contact with the traders of the western countries. He assumed the title of Shakari, the enemy of the Shakas.
(3) Victory over eastern states — The inscriptions on the iron pillar at Mehrauli in Delhi read that he defeated the combined forces of the eastern states in Bengal.
(4) Defeated the Bah-lik race – The rulers of the Bah-lik race of the Kushanas still ruled over some states in the north-west of India. The Mehrauli iron pillar inscription tells us that Chandra Gupta II crossed all the tributaries of the Indus river, defeated the Bah-lik rulers, and drove them across Kabul. He might have, probably, assumed the lile of Vikramajit after these conquests.
(5) Conquered the southern states – The southern states discontinued paying annual tributes to Magadha during Ram Gupta’a reign, Chandra Gupta compelled them to submission.
(6) Marital relations – Chandra Gupta II made marital relations in the ruling families in order to strengthen his empire. He married the Nag princess, Kuber Nag and married away his daughter, Prabhawati, born of Kuber Nag to Rudrasen of the Vakatak dynasty, ruler of Barar. Besides, he married his son to the daughter of the powerful ruler of Kuntal, in the Bombay province.
Administration – Our knowledge about the pattern of administration of Chandra Gupta II comes from various edicts and Fahiens accounts which are as follows :
(1) King – The king was autocrat and powers emnated from him still he was not unbriddled like the muslim rulers of the feudal age. He worked under certain constraints. A council of ministers, presided over by the prime minister, tendered him advice both during war and peace.
(2) Provincial administration – He divided his entire empire into provinces known as deshes or mukti(s), which were placed under governors or prantiyapati(s), usually members of the royal family. Pusscanned with Provinces were divided into districts or Vishya(s) which were further
divided into villages or gram(s) which were ruled by gramik, advised by Gram Panchayat.
(3) Judicial system – Judicial system was liberal and not strict like that of the Mauryan Empire. Fines were imposed for ordinary crimes. Hands and feet of habitual criminals were chopped off. Number of crimes were small.
Estimate of the Character of Chandra Gupta II – Chandra Gupta II Vikramaditya was an able administrator. He was a great victor, politician, ruler, lover of art and literature and tolerant in religion. We shall study him with regard to above noted aspects of his character.
(1) A great conqueror – Like his father he was a brave and adventurous warrior. He enlarged his empire, consolidated it and secured it. His victory over the foreign rulers added a feather to his hat. He insicted devastating defeats upon the Shakas and proved himself an enemy of the Shakas.
(2) A great statesman – He was a great states man. His device or marital diplomacy succeeded. This lent strength to his empire and he could avail of the cooperation of other rulers in erasing the Shakas from the map of India.
(3) A great ruler – History records no revolt in his vast empire during his life time. It shows that he was a great ruler. Peace and order prevailed. Penal code was liberal. Crimes fell. It shows the state of happiness among the people.
(4) A great lover of literature – He was a learned man and respected other men of learning. Nauratanas (nine jewels) i.e. nine men of great erudition decorated his court. Renowed poet Kalidas and famed physician Dhanvantri were at his court. Sanskrit received favour during his time.
(5) Tolerant in religion – He followed the Brahminical faith and was tolerant and respected other religions. Government jobs were open to all. Chandra Gupta II general was a Bodh. His other two ministers were Shivite.
Fahien, the chinese Bodh bhikshu alias Kud visited during the period of Chandra Gupta II. He renounced the world and became a monk after the death of his parents. The word Fahien is composed of two chinese words, Fa meaning religion and hien meaning the teacher.
He was thus a religious teacher. He studied Buddhism but was not satisfied with the studies. He came to India to pay homage to the birth place of Lord Buddha and to study the authenticated literature on Buddhism. Fahien spent fourteen years on the journey started from China in 400 AD; stayed in India for six years from 405 AD to 411 AD; and reached Paliliputra through Khaitan in the western China, Pamir, Purushpur and Taxila. He visited several places: Mathura, Kannauj, Shravasti, Kushinagar, Vaishali, Patiliputra, Nalanda, Rajgirah, Kashi, Sarnath and etc., rested for two years at Tamrlipti, went to Sindaldweep, Shri Lanka and reached China in 414 AD via Java.
Fahien’s account of India – Fahien’s account of India during the reign of Chandra Gupta II sheds light on political, social, religious and economic conditions of the period.
(A) Political Condition – The condition is described under the following heads :
(i) Administration – Fahien writes that Chandra Gupta’s II administration was highly effective. The people were happy. The state did not interfere with the private life of the people who could follow professions of their choice freely. Day to day business transactions were carried out through small Konch shells. Drugs were administered free in hospitals to the patients. The entire administration was directed towards the welfare of the people.
(i) Penal Code – The administration took lenient view towards punishment. Fines were awarded. Revolutionaries were punished with the amputation of limbs. Death sentence was not provided. Law and order prevailed. Thefts were rare. People loved their king.
(iii) Land Revenue – People were not overburdened with excessive taxes. The state drew her income mostly from agriculture. The revenue could be paid in cash or kind. People paid their taxes willingly.
(iv) Travellers were respected – Fahicn says that travellers were highly respected and could move about the country freely. The roads were linked with shady trees provided wells and inns at suitable places where the travellers could rest and take their meals free of cost.
(B) Social condition-Fabien’s travelogue chiefly accounts for the social conditions of north India. He writes :
(i) Virtuous life – Fahien admires the virtuous life of the Indians who were religious and prosperous, respected one another, spoke the
truth and led simple and pure life. They were chiefly non-violent. Mostly. people were vegetarian and did not even partake onion, garlic, or wine. Shops of these things were to be seen nowhere in cities. Milch animals. were lovingly cared for. The sale of cows and buffaloes was forbidden:
(2) Untouchability – Untouchability was prevalent. The Chandals (a caste) lived out of the cities and led an unclean life ate meat and consumed liquor. They rared poultry and piggery and consumed their meat. Moreover they did not fellow high ideals and norms of the society. People hated them. Whenever they came into the city, they beat wooden sticks to announce of their arrival.
(C) Religious condition – Fahien describes the religious life in the following manner :
(1) The Vaishnava faith – Almost all the Gupta rulers were the followers of the Vaishnava faith. They had the image of garuda, the carrier of god Vishnu, embossed on their coins, besides other symbols of the faith like conch, chakra (circle), gada (club), padam and the image of goddess Luxmi. Glorious Vishnu temples were built from generous donations in the form of (land revenue) villages. Dr. Jaiswal observes that the Vaishnava faith become popular with the people not only in India but in the neighbouring countries in the far-east e.g. Indo-China, Cambodia, Matkaya & Indonesia due to abounding devotion of the Gupta rulers. The Gupta rulers although followed the Vaishnava faith were tolerants towards Shivism similar to Buddhism. Shivism spread freely.
(2) Buddhism – Fahien came to India to visit the Bodh holy places and to study Bodh literature. He writes that the Gupta reign was naturally the era of the development of Buddhism. Punjab, Bengal, and Mathura were centres of Buddhism. He saw several viharas here whereas the observed the decline of the Buddhism in Central India.
Fahien tells us that studies in Buddhism were conducted in the mathas in the region where in-numberable bhikshus and bhikshuniyans lived, studied Buddhism in their respective regions. Thousands of Bodh monasteries abounded in the region where in-numberable bhikshus and bhikshuniyans lived, studied and medidated. Bodhgaya was a famous centre of Bodh learning where a special monastery for the visiting Bodh priests of Sri Lanka was provided. Other centres of Bodh learning and Coolture were at Sarnath, Kaushambi, Mathura, Gaya and etc. The world
renowned Bodh Vihara later developed into a university, was established during this period.
This was the golden period of religious co-existance when the Gupta rulers being devout Vaishnavities, provided all facilities to the Buddhism. According to an edict at the Sanchistupa Chandra Gupta Il appointed a Bodh Scholar, Aamrakaddava, to a high post. Bodh Viharas received liberal grants. Nalanda received land revenue of two hundred villages as financial assistance.
(3) Religious tolerance – The Gupta rulers gave liberal grants both to the brahmins and the Bodhs. Common people did not observe prejudices and lived amicably. This was because of the religious tolerance of the rulers.
(D) Description of Patiliputra – Fahien stayed at Patiliputra for three years and studied Sanskrit there. He’writes an interesting account of Patiliputra :
(1) Bodh Viharas – There were two Bodh Viharas, one for the Hinayanas and the other for the Mahayanas. Where about 600 bhikshu scholars resided. Bodh priests used to came to learn from them, from all over India.
(2) Ashoka’s places – Fahien wondered at the beauty and grandeur of Ashoka’s palaces. He writes that men could not build such palaces. They were the works of gods. : (3) Life of citizen – Describing the life of the citizens of Patiliputra he mentions that patients were treated free in the state hospitals. Charity was regarded a virtue. The rich gave charities to be destitutes and built lodges for the travellers or pilgrims to stay free. The government undertook activities or schemes of public welfare.
Life in Gupta Age
(a) Political life
(1) Age of political unity – The Ashokan empire withered after his death. Whatever left of it was ruined by the foreign invadors. The Gupta emperors annexed small states into a large and power empire and lent India political unity once again. They defended the country against the barbarous attacks of the wild Shakas, Huns and Kushanas.
(2) Age of great emperors – The formidable, brave, wise and adventurous emperors ascended the throne. They made numerous conquests. Some of the states were so frightened with their might that
they submitted themselves without going to war. Samudra Gupta retained the far flung provinces which shows his uncanny ability as a ruler. Chandra Gupta II defeated the Shakas and Skand Gupta the Huns and held asvamegh yagya.
(3) Administration – The Gupta dynasty busied themselves in public welfare which was there ideal. The penal code was liberal and punishments were not severe, people were happy. Roads were safe. The monarch was loved as well as respected. The Gupta age in this respect was comparably better than any of the modern welfare state. The pattern of administration is discussed in the following lines :
(i) Central administration – Fahien’s account of the administration is worthy of note. Other sources are mudra-rakshas, the Puranas and the period coins. These shed lights on the period.
. The emperor was the source of power. The pattern of state was unitary as well as federal. The feudal lords or the provincial rulers expressed their loyalty to the emperor. They paid their annual tribute regularly, offered presents and military help at the time of necessity. The emperors assumed titles: Maharaj, Adhiraj, Chakravarti, Parambhattarak and etc. exhibiting their unlimited powers. The king had all executive, judicial and military powers concentrated in his person. Council of ministers advised him on matters of state. The king appointed or dismissed the ministers of the Council. The edicts of the Gupta period refer to amatya, war and treaty minister, minister of records, and minister-in-charge of penal code as some important ministers in the Council. Departmental system was prevalent in the administration of the Gupta age. A minister was incharge of a departments or a number of departments.
(ii) Provincial administration – The empire was divided in a number of provinces, known as bhukti or desh. The emperor appointed the governors in the provinces usually called gopna, or uprik or Kamratya. The provinces had districts or Vishya Vishyapatc, maharaj, or Kumaratya was the administrator of the district. The district were further divided into villages (grams) placed under gramin or maujak. The village had the autonomous panchayri raj system. It drew taxes, heard small cause cases, and worked for the welfare of the residents. The punchas were honoured. Serpanch was a very important person.
(iii) Judicial System – The monarch was the source of justice and
last court of appeal. Judicial system had many courts at various levels Justice was swift and process unencumbered. The process of the award of justice was severe, life sentence was also awarded.n et (b) Social life
(1) Caste System – The system regained some stability was generally observed. The brahmins were highly respected. The people were conscious of their duties. The condition of the Shudras was bad.
(2) Marriage and Family – Literature of the Gupta age has instances of inter-caste marriages. The Gupta rulers maintained marital relations with the brahmin vakatik, rulers. Widow could remarry as Chandra Gupta II married the widow of his brother. Improper marriages were also solemnized. Kumar Gupta, when old, married a young woman,
Joint family was in vogue. The eldest male member used to become the head of the joint family. Son succeeded his father. All members of a joint family obeyed the head of the family.
(3) Condition of the women – The condition of the women, in the Gupta age was better. Women advised men in running the administration of a state. The samragyee’s advice was generally agreed to by the king. The women worked as governors in the provinces and mukhiyas in villages in southern India. Women participated in religious and social | functions along with men. They did not observe purdah.
(c) Religious life
(1) Renaissance of Hinduism – Most of the Gupta rulers were followers of vedic religion and worked for its restoration. Hindu values were realfirmed. Religious books on Hinduism were collected and edited. Gods of various Hindu sects were reinstalled. Idol worship, pilgrimage and vint’ etc. received their due importance. Buddhism and Jainism gradually lost their individuality and were assimilated into Hinduism.
(2) Religious tolerance – Hinduism flourished still the age provided unique opportunity to Buddhism and Jainism to co-exist side by side. Their values received recognition. This was an age of Buddhism but the Guptas did not contribute to it in any way. Bodh monasteries and institutions continued to draw grants from the emperors. Bodh and Jains were appointed to higher post in the administration. Chandra Gupta Vikramaditya’s military general was a Bodh. This shows the tolerant policy of the Gupta rulers towards religions.
(d) Economic Life
(1) Progress in Agriculture-India is an agricultural country and most of the people are engaged in the profession. Prosperity of the country largely rests on agriculture. Gupta rulers placed special attention to irrigation. Facilities were provided to the farmers.
(2) Progress of industry-Cottage industries flourished in the villages and other industries were encouraged in the cities. Fahien says that idols of gold or silver were studded with pearls or jewels. Beautiful work on ivory was carried out. Iron pillars and large ships were built in the country.
(3) Trade -(i) Internal trade – Trade in the country made much progress. This was carried out both by land or water. Boats ladden with goods and passengers ferried into the rivers. The roads were safe. Traders had their guilds to look after their interest. (ii) Foreign trade – India traded with other countries. Merchantile ships sailed from Tamrlipti port, on the Ganga in Bengal, to Burma, eastern islands and China. Bharoach was an important port on the western coast from where India traded with the countries in the west particularly the Roman Empire.
(4) Gold Coins – Gold coins were in circulation which reflected upon the prosperous condition of the country. People wore ornament made of gold or silver which were imported in large quantities. (e) Literature –
. Gradually Sanskrit emerged after the Mauriyan age and by the time of the Guptas it relegated Prakrit far behind and became the court language. The progress it made during the period is described in the following lines :
(1) Sanskrit literature – With the renaissance of Hinduism the Sanskrit was also restored. The scholars created masterpieces of Sanskrit literature. We mention a few renowned scholars and their literary pieces below :
(i) Kalidas – Kumarsambhav and Raghuvansh, two works on verse play Shakuntala, Meghdut, Ritusadhar and two collections of verse.
(ii) Play-wright – Vishakutta-Mudraraksha and play Chandra
(iv) Shudrak-play Mirachkatik
(v) Harishen – Court poet of Samudra Gupta-wrote commemoration of the Iron pillar at Allahabad.
(iv) Subandlu – Political works-Vasavdatta
(2) Religious literature –Several books on Hinduism c.g. the Manusmriti, the Mahabharata, the Puranas and the Ramayana, as are available now were authored during this period. Both scholars – Acharaya Matrim, Kumarjiv, Chandra Kirti and Dharampal and Jain saints . Chandrasen and Sidhsen – contributed richly to their respective faiths.
(f) Progress in Science
The age is significant for the progress in science, specially in Astrology, Mathematics and Ayurvedic system of medicine.
(1) Astrology – Aryabhatta, Varahmihr and Brahma Gupta were famous astrologers and mathematicians who contributed to these liberal sciences. Aryabhatta discovered that the earth is round rotates on its axis around the sun. He put forward scientific explanations of Solar and lunar eclipses for the first time in the world. Varahmitra wrote brilliant scholarly treatises on Astronomy, Geography and Botany. Brahma Gupta expostulated the principle of earth’s gravitational pull.
(2) Ayurveda – Much progress was made in the field of Ayurveda. Nagarjun introduced Oxide treatment. Charak and Vaidshastri wrote pharmacopias. Bagbhatta was a renowned physician.
(1) Painting – Evidences of progress in the paintings can be seen in the wall-paintings of the Elora and Ajanta caves built during the period. These are specimens of linc art the glaze of which has not dimmed with the lapse os sisteen hundred years. The execution of the images their expressions and finesse, is simply superb.
(2) Architecture of temples – Fahien mentions of several beautiful temples. Generally all big cities had temples. Stone temple of Devagarh and temple of Bhitar village were much praised for their architectural beauty. He speaks of several Shiva temples. Besides them, both temple of Nalanda and Mahabodhi of Bodh Gaya were built during the period.
(3) Sculpture – Religion encouraged the building of temples and icmples boosted the making of idols. The idols in the Gandhara style were discarded. Sarnath and Mathura developed their indigenous styles Ca sculpture which is seen in the idols chiselled during this age. Idols
of Hindu gods or goddesses such as Shiya, Vishnu and Sun were made along with Bodh idols. They were superb in execution.
(4) Metallurgy – Iron pillars, large metal statues and metal coins.. were specimen of progressive art. Mehrauli’s iron-pillars and large metal statue of Budha at Nalanda surprise the people till today. Period coins were in better shape.
(5) Music – The Gupta rulers are favourably inclined towards music. Samudra Gupta loved music. He played veena. Coins bearing the image of Samudra Gupta playing veena, have been discovered. References to music in the contemporary literature are many which speak of the progress of music in the age.
(h) Indian culture in foreign countries – Indian culture, language, religion and civilization became popular in the foreign countries. Indians established their cultural colonies in Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Champa, Cambodia and other castern islands where language, religion and culture found ready acceptance. These lands accepted Indian cultural imperialism.
India witnessed phenomenal all round development unparallel in history. “The period of the Imperial Guptas has often described as the golden age of Hindu History. It comprised the reigns of a number of able, versatile and mighty monarchs, who brought about the consolidation of a large part of Northern India under one political umbrella and ushered in an age of orderly government and progress” – Dr. R.S.