Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Golden Era

In about ad 320, Chandragupta I, the ruler of the Magadha kingdom, united the many peoples of the valley and founded the Gupta dynasty. For about the next century his son Samudragupta and grandson Chandragupta II brought much of India under unified control for the first time since the Mauryan Empire, controlling the lands from the eastern hills of Afghanistan to Assam, north of the Narmada River. Samudragupta conducted a successful military expedition as far south as the city of Kanchipuram, but probably did not directly rule in those regions. The Guptas directly ruled a core area that included the east central Gangetic Plain, located in present-day Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. In addition, they conquered other areas, reinstating the kings who were then obliged to pay tribute and attend the imperial court. Both Chandragupta I and Chandragupta II made strategic marriages that extended the empire, the latter with the successors to the Andhra dynasty in central India. A policy of religious tolerance and patronage of all religions also helped consolidate their rule.

The time of the Gupta Empire has been called the Golden age of Indian civilization because of the period’s great flowering of literature, art, and science. In literature, the dramas and poems of Kalidas, who wrote the romantic drama Sakuntala, are especially well known. During this era India’s level of science and technology was probably higher than that of Europe. The use of the zero and the decimal system of numerals, later transmitted to Europe by the Arabs, was a major contribution to modern mathematics

By 550AD the Gupta Empire had fallen.

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