Samudragupta (Gupta script: Sa-mu-dra-gu-pta, r. c. (350-375 CE) was a ruler of the Gupta Empire of Ancient India. He was a son of the Gupta emperor Chandragupta I and the Licchavi princess Kumaradevi. He greatly expanded his dynasty's political power.
The Allahabad Pillar inscription, a prashasti (eulogy) was written by his courtier Harishena. It told of his many military conquests. It suggests that he defeated several kings of northern India. Also, that he added their territories to his empire. He also marched along the south-eastern coast of India. He advanced to move as far as the Pallava kingdom. In addition, he subjugated several frontier kingdoms and tribal oligarchies.
Samudragupta performed the Ashvamedha sacrifice to prove his imperial sovereignty. According to his coins, he remained undefeated. His gold coins and inscriptions suggest that he was an accomplished poet. He also played music. His expansionist policy was continued by his son Chandragupta II.
Extent of the empire[change | change source]
Samudragupta's empire included a core territory in northern India. It was directly controlled by the emperor. Besides, it included some monarchical and tribal tributary states. Historian R. C. Majumdar theorizes that Samudragupta directly controlled an area extending from the Ravi River (Punjab) in the west to the Brahmaputra River (Bengal and Assam) in the east, and from the Himalayan foothills in the north to the Vindhya hills in the south. The south-western boundary of his territory roughly followed a line drawn from present-day Karnal to Bhilsa.
In the south, Samudragupta's empire definitely included Eran in present-day Madhya Pradesh. On there, his inscription has been found. The Allahabad Pillar inscription suggests that he reached early up to Kanchipuram in the south. However, since the claims in the Allahabad Pillar inscription are from a royal eulogy, they must be treated with danger.
Personality[change | change source]
Samudragupta's coins show him as a tall, strong man. The Allahabad Pillar inscription presents him as a compassionate ruler. It was stated that his "mind was engaged in providing relief to the low, the poor, the helpless, and the afflicted". It also stated that he reinstated many royal families which had lost their kingdoms, including the kings defeated by him. At the same time, it states that he maintained strict administration ("Prachanda shasana").
The inscription states that Samudragupta became famous among the learned people because of his poetical works. He earned the epithet "king of poets". This suggests that he composed some poetical works. But none of these works now survive.
The inscription also says that Samudragupta embarrassed the celestial musician Tumburu and Narada by his lovely performances of music.  Samudragupta's musical talents are also corroborated by his gold coins which depict him playing a veena. 
References[change | change source]
Bibliography[change | change source]
- Ajay Mitra Shastri (1995). Inscriptions of the Śarabhapurīyas, Pāṇḍuvaṁśins and Somavaṁśins. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-0637-5.
- Ashvini Agrawal (1989). Rise and Fall of the Imperial Guptas. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 978-81-208-0592-7.
- Dilip Kumar Ganguly (1987). The Imperial Guptas and Their Times. Abhinav. ISBN 978-81-7017-222-2.
- K. Chakrabarti (1996). "Origin and political history of the Guptas". In Ahmad Hasan Dani; B. A. Litvinsky (eds.). History of Civilizations of Central Asia: The crossroads of civilizations, A.D. 250 to 750. UNESCO. ISBN 978-92-3-103211-0.
- Lallanji Gopal (1969). Samudragupta. National Book Trust. OCLC 583078075.
- R. C. Majumdar (1981). A Comprehensive History of India. Vol. 3, Part I: A.D. 300-985. Indian History Congress / People's Publishing House. OCLC 34008529.
- Shankar Goyal (2001). Problems of Ancient Indian History: New Perspectives and Perceptions. Book Enclave. ISBN 978-81-87036-66-1.
- Upinder Singh (2008). A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century. Pearson Education India. ISBN 978-81-317-1120-0.
- Tej Ram Sharma (1978). Personal and Geographical Names in the Gupta Inscriptions. Concept. p. 258. OCLC 249004782.
- Tej Ram Sharma (1989). A Political History of the Imperial Guptas: From Gupta to Skandagupta. Concept. ISBN 978-81-7022-251-4.
- Upinder Singh (2017). Political Violence in Ancient India. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-98128-7.