Vikramaditya Empire: History, Rulers, Architecture & Religion

Chandragupta II, majorly known by his title Vikramaditya was the third ruler of the Gupta Dynasty in India. His powerful emperorship signifies his historical presence in Gupta Dynasty. He was the son of Samudragupta and Datta Devi; they ruled the whole territory of North and West India, Deccan, and parts of South India(secondarily).

Chandragupta II took on the title of powerful Vikramaditya, who could have been an emperor of the state of Ujjain around 57 so BC. Few of the silver coins from his empire carry the title Vikramaditya. At the very beginning of the 4th century, in the state of Magadha and around (now known as) Bihar, the Gupta dynasty was built, and soon they captured most of Northern-middle India. The reign of the Guptas was famously known as the ‘Golden Age of India.’

History of the Vikramaditya Empire (Gupta Dynasty)

The downfall of the Mauryan empire gave rise to 2 crucial political authorities –

  1. The Kushanas in the north (around 230 CE) and the Murundas ruled the central part of India for about 30 years. Soon after the last decade of the 3rd century CE, they came to power The Guptas.
  2. The Satavanas in the south.

The Gupta empire took over the former dominions of the Kushanas and the Satavanas. The Guptas were possibly Vaishyas who kept the northern parts united for over a decade, known as 335 CE – 455CE.

Why does Gupta Dynasty have such high historical? Significance?

  • The kingdom of Guptas had the state of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar with their central power of Prayag.
  • The Gupta soon took over the extremely fertile plains of Madhya Desh (the middle Gangetic basin ‘ Anuganga, ‘Saketa (Ayodhya), Prayag, and major parts of Bihar.
  • The Gupta used the iron ores that were abundantly present in the central parts of India and Southern parts of Bihar. They were also one the major silk traders with the roman empire (eastern Roman empire).

Golden Age of India

           Chandragupta I and Samudragupta were powerful rulers, but the reign of Vikramaditya boosted the heights of science, art, religion, and philosophy. Vikramaditya’s court had more influence than any other Gupta ruler. The court of his kingdom had the famous Navarathnas, or the nine jewels, the nine scholars who had major contributions in the field of arts and politics.

The nine jewels or Navarathnas of Vikramaditya’s court were-

  • Narasimha
  • Ghatakapara
  • Dhanvantari
  • Kalidasa
  • Kshapanaka
  • Shanku
  • Vetala-Bhatta
  • Varahamihira
  • Varuchi

Other contributors during the Golden age were 

Varahamihira – was an astronomer, mathematician, and astrologer. His notable works are Pancha-Siddhantika, Brihat-Samhita, and Brihat- Jataka.

Sushruta – a famous physician whose major contribution was the book Samhita, a text in Sanskrit dialect on the concepts of ayurvedic medicine that had innovative chapters on surgery.

Chaturanga was a game with pieces made for infantry, elephants, chariots, and cavalry (chess possibly originated during this period).

Kalidasa – was a great poet and drama writer in Sanskrit (whose major work of literature was Shakuntala).

Vatsyayana– Indian scholar and philosopher who wrote Kama Sutra on human sexual behavior.

Vishnu Sharma – writer of Panchatantra fables, which is one of the major worldwide translated, non-religious book.

Art and Architecture

The creativity during the Golden Age produced remarkable architecture, like palaces, temples, sculptures, and paintings. Buddhist monasteries and shrines were made with praise-worthy frescos (a type of wall painting).

The Dashavtara temple was built during this age.

Religion and Culture

The Guptas were Hindus, but they equally supported Buddhists and Jain cultural values. Buddhist art during the Gupta period inspired East and South Asian, which was a result of the trade between them. Sri Lanka, South East Asia and Burma regions were highly influenced by the Gupta Empire’s culture.

Fa Xian was a famous Chinese traveler who visited India during Vikramaditya’s reign. His popular journal had all the records of his observation of Vikramaditya’s reign.

  • Fa Xian recorded that the administration of Vikramaditya was liberal and the people had economic freedom with less tax burden.
  • The main source of income was land revenue during the reign of Vikramaditya and the people had the freedom to move from one land to other.
  • Temples, Shanghai and monasteries were free from taxes.
  • Vikramaditya’s administration was beneficial by several means.
  • His reign had both Hinduism and Buddhism tolerance. People had religion freedom.

Territory of Vikramaditya Empire

Vikramaditya empire was extended from the Bengal region to the North West and from the Himalayan Terai region to the river of Narmada. The Allahabad Pillar has the inscription of Samudragupta that says the Samantaka kingdom in the region of Bengal was a part of the Gupta Dynasty.

Chandragupta II took over Samudragupta’s expansion policies. He extended his empire to Bengal and Punjab regions. The Shakas of west India was the major rival of the Gupta empire. The prolonged war between the Vikramaditya empire with the Shakas lasted for 20 years. Their first coin (Chandra) was recorded to have appeared around 409 CE.

Successors of Vikramaditya’s empire

The son of Vikramaditya was Kumara Gupta; his reign was recorded as peace and prosperity. A number of coins he issued had his inscriptions found throughout the Gupta empire. He was also the one to perform the Ashvamedha sacrifice. Nalanda University’s foundation was laid by him, which later gained a global reputation. The Pushyamitra tribe later defeated him.

His successor Skandagupta was the one who faced the Huns’ invasion across the Hindukush mountains. Although Skandagupta won the war, the economical strain was huge and his later successors ( Purugupta, Narasimhagupta, Budhhagupta) were not able to save the Gupta dynasty.

Also Read:

Leave a Comment