(Last Updated on : 31/01/2009)
Known to have essentially descended from the Brahmi script, Gupta script comes under the category of Northern Indian group of scripts. The script had evolved with the rise of the Gupta Empire in India in the earlier periods of 4th to 6th centuries A.D. After the invasion of the plundering Huns, Gupta script witnessed a loss in its novelty. In spite of all such drawbacks and hindrances, it continued to develop in the next few centuries and by the 8th century umpteen versions of the script emerged, two of which are Nagari and Sarada. The script involving the Gupta rulers, is written fundamentally in the direction from left to right and later gave rise to the Siddham script. Gupta script, also referred to as Gupta Brahmi, was used for writing Sanskrit and Sanskritic verses and prose. The period of ruling of Gupta Empire in India was a period of materialistic affluence and opulence, coupled with immense religious and scientific maturations.
In contemporary times, scholars and scientists have at times modified the aboriginal Gupta script to signify syllables instead of single sounds. Gupta script's popularity and spreading to common masses over extensive areas of conquered territory time and again reverberates back to Gupta dynasty and its exceedingly intelligent and gifted rulers, with the result that the Gupta alphabet was the ancestor (for the most part by means of Devanagari script) of most later Indian scripts.
The original Gupta alphabet from the aboriginal script possessed 37 letters, together with 5 vowels. Four principal subtypes of Gupta script developed from the original alphabet: eastern, western, southern and Central Asian. The Central Asian Gupta can be further divided into Central Asian Slanting Gupta and its Agnean and Kuchean variants and Central Asian Cursive Gupta, or Khotanese. A western offshoot of eastern Gupta gave rise to the Siddhamatrka script (c. A.D. 500), which, in turn, developed into the Devanagari alphabet (c. A.D. 700), the most prevalent of the modern Indian scripts. A northern form of Brahmi further evolved into the Gupta scripts, from which were descended the Tibetan and Khotanese systems. Khotanese was however also influenced by the Kharosthi script. Historic theories also state that Gupta script were the prototypes of the North Indian subdivision of the Brahmi script from the 1st centuries B.C. and A.D.