(Last Updated on : 19/05/2012)
Samudragupta was a benevolent ruler who reigned from 335 to 380 BC. He was a great warrior and patron of arts. He was the son of Chandragupta I and probably the greatest king of Gupta dynasty. There is a detailed and authentic record of Samudragupta`s reign was composed by his court poet Harisena which is found in the rock pillar of Allahabad
. He had to undergo a struggle for the throne with his elder brothers after his father`s death.
Samudragupta ascended the throne and conquered almost whole of India.
Conquests of Samudragupta
In the beginning Samudragupta attacked his neighbouring kingdoms Shichchhatra (Rohilakhand) and Padmavati. He won over Bengal, some kingdoms in Nepal and put Assam
under his suzerainty. He had also conquered some tribal states like the Malwas, Yaudheyas, Arjunayanas, Abhiras and Maduras. Later Kushanas and Sakas paid him tribute. After his victory he reinstated his enemies as the tributary kings. He possessed a powerful navy along with his mighty army. Samudragupta also proceeded along the coast of Bay of Bengal
and conquered Pithapuram`s Mahendragiri, Kanchi`s Vishnugupta, Khosla`s Mahendra and many more until he reached the River Krishna.
Samudragupta also expanded his kingdom towards west over Khandesh and Palghat. He preferred to maintain friendly terms with Vatakata in Central India. Samudragupta`s sovereign extended from the Himalaya Mountains
in the north to the River Narmada in the south and from the River Brahmaputra in the east to River Yamuna in the west. He passed through the forest of Madhya Pradesh
, crossed the Orissa
coast, marched through Ganjam, Vishakapatnam, Godavari, Krishna and Nellore districts and might have gone as far as Kanchipuram. His greatest achievement was the political unification of most of the India into a unique power. Samudragupta took the title of Maha Rajadhiraja. After winning all these big battles Samudragupta performed Ashwamedha Yajna or Horse sacrifice. Many other rulers of foreign states like the Saka and Kushana kings accepted Samudragupta`s supremacy and offered him their services.
Monetary system under rule of Samudragupta
Samudragupta changed the monetary system of Gupta dynasty. He began the minting of seven different types of coins which included the standard type, the battle-axe type, the archer type, the Ashwamedha type, the tiger slayer type, the king and queen type and the lyrist type. All these coins exhibited an extreme delicate sculptural and technical finesse. Much about Samudragupta is known through coins issued by him. They were made of pure gold. The coin-making expertise was acquired from his acquaintance with the Kushans.
Samudragupta was a great warrior as well as an openhearted person. He showed great magnanimousness towards the kings who were defeated in the battle. He allowed various tribal states for autonomous rule under his protection. He is known to have been a man of culture. He was a celebrated poet and a musician. His court was full of poets and scholars. Samudragupta had a keen interest in music and he himself was probably a renowned lyrist. His coins depict him playing on the Veena
. He took effective actions to propagate religious, artistic and literary aspects of Indian culture. Though he followed Hinduism
like the other Gupta kings, he was well known for his tolerant spirit towards other religions. This was proved when he gave permission to the king of Ceylon to build a Buddhist monastery for the pilgrims in Bodh Gaya
After the death of Samudragupta, his son Chandragupta II
or Vikramaditya was enthroned who reigned from 380 to 413 AD and the Gupta Dynasty still flourished with its glory and prosperity under his rule.