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Samudragupta

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Abha, 10+2 (Med), Wisdom World School, Kurukshetra, Haryana, India - 136118

Nationality: Ancient Indian

Known to be: Eperor

Died: about 380 AD.

Samudragupta was one of the greatest emperors, not only of the Gupta Dynasty but also of the whole ancient India. The primary, detailed and authentic record of his rule is preserved in the ‘Prayaga Prasasti’, also known as the Allahbad pillar inscription. It was composed by his court poet and minister of peace and war (Sandhi Vigrahika) Harisena party in verse and partly in prose. The inscription is engraved on a pillar of Emperor Asoka. An inscription at Eran (Madhya Pradesh) and the coins of Samudragupta are other reliable sources of the history of Samudragupta period.

Samudragupta was the able son of King Chandragupta who declared him successor in royal darbar acknowledging his efficiency, millitary skills etc. in spite of the fact that Samudragupta was not his eldest son. Samudragupta officially ascended the throne on 340 AD. He was a great conqueror and millitary genius. He not only eradicated all threats to his crown but also expanded the Gupta empire’s boundaries with his successful military campaigns. First of all, Samudragupta defeated the rulers of the Ganga-Yamuna doab, a region largely identical with the Aryavarta of ancient India. He also vanquished the rulers of Bengal. He defeated nine Kings of North India and annezed their territories in the Gupta Kingdom. But Samudragupta’s ambitions did not end here. He led his military to historic campaign in South India. Altogether 12 kings of the South were brought under the political control of Samudragupta as per the information of Prayag Prasasti. The noteable vanquished rulers included Mahendra of Kosal, Vyaghraja of Mahakantara, Mahendragiri of Pishtapura, Hastivarman of Vengi, Ugrasena of Palakka, Pallav King Vishnugopa, Damana of Erandapulla, Kuvers of Devarshtra etc. In the case of his South India campaign, Samudragupta did not anned their territory and restored these rulers as Kings after they acceted his authority and suzerainty. Samudragupta also brought the Kingdoms between the districts of Ghaziur in modern day Uttar Pradesh and Jabalpur of Central India under his authority and control. The Kingdoms at the sea-coast of East Bengal, two Kingdoms of Assam (Kamarpura and Devalsa), the Kingdom of Kartipura, Kumaon region and Nepal accepted his suzerainty. In the North-West region, nine states accepted Samudragupta as supreme ruler. Samudraguta also conquered the Kingdom of the Malavas, the Yaudheyas, the Madrakas, the Arjunayanas, the Sanakanikas, the Abhiras, the Prarjunas, the Kakas and the Kheraparikas. But Samudragupta again followed the policy of not occupying their territory and restored them as Kings.

In brief, Samudragupta was a great military genius. His empire included a big part of north India. He assumed the title of Maharajadhiraja and Vikramanka which shows his unchellenging position as an emperor in India. Samudragupta was not only a top rank military genius but also a good administrator. He appointed many learned men to his court like Harisena and managed his adminstration successfully. He died in about 380 AD.

Samudragupta established his political authority over almost entire India and conquered a large portion in all directions. He remained unbeaten throughout his life. Dr. V.A. Smith described him as Indian Napolean. But he was superior to Napolean as Samudragupta never faced defeat in any battle while Napolean did.

Samudragupta also performed ‘Ashvamedha yajna’ (Horse scarifice ritual) to establish his authority. On this occasion he issued gold coins depicting the sacrificial horse on one side.

Samudragupta was a Vaisnavite. He was good at music also. He has been depicted playing Veena (Lute) in his coins. He called the ‘the Kaviraja’(King of poets) in the Prayaga Prasasti. According to the Chinese writer Wang-Hiuen-Tse, Sri Lankan King Meghavarna sent an embassy to emperor Samudragupta for his permission to build a monastery and a guest house for Buddhist pilgrims at Bodh Gaya.

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