Samudragupta (335-380 AD)

Samudragupta was the greatest king of the Gupta Dynasty. Chandragupta I was succeeded by his son Samudragupta. The Allahabad Pillar inscription gives us insight into his annexations and abilities. He ruled from AD 335 to AD 375. His empire extended from River Brahmaputra in the east to rivers Yamuna and Chambal in the west. The Himalayas formed the boundary of his kingdom in the north, and River Narmada marked the southern frontiers.

Because of his bravery and leadership skills, he is also known as ‘Napoleon of India’. He defeated the Naga kings of Mathura, Gwalior, and Ahichhatra. He defeated many southern states but allowed them to rule after asking them to accept his sovereignty. The Allahabad Pillar inscription describes four types of kingdoms that existed during this period. The Pillar also mentions the policies of Samudragupta. 

The Policies of Samudragupta Mentioned on the Allahabad Pillar

  • Samudragupta defeated nine rulers of Aryavrata and made their territories part of his empire.
  • He also defeated twelve kings of Dakshinpatha, but they were allowed to rule their states.
  • Kingdoms in Assam, coastal Bengal, Nepal and many republic states in the northwest paid annual tribute to him, followed his orders and attended his court.

  • Samudragupta’s military campaigns justify the description of him as the Napoleon of India by V.A. Smith.
  • The reference to his dominion over Java, Sumatra, and Malaya islands in the sea shows that he had a navy.
  • When he died his mighty empire bordered that of the Kushan of the Western province (modern Afghanistan and Pakistan)and Vakatakasin Deccan(modern Southern Maharashtra).
  • His greatest achievement was the political unification of most of India or Aryavarta into a formidable power.
  • Titles: Kavirajai. i.e. king of poets (Prayaga Prasasti), Param Bhagavat (Nalanda copper plate), Ashvamedha-parakrama i.e. whose might was demonstrated by the horse-sacrifice (coin), Vikram i.e. prowess (coin), Sarva-raj-ochchetta i.e. uprooter of all kings (coin), etc. Note: Only the Gupta ruler had the title of Sarva-raj-ochehhetta.
  • Original types of Gold Coins (Dinars): Garud type, Dhanurdhari i.e. Archer type, Axe type, Ashvamedha type, Vyaghrahanan i.e. Tiger killing type, Veenavadan i.e. lute-playing type.
  • Samudragupta was a Vaishnavite.
  • According to the Chinese writer Wang-Hiuen-Tse, Meghavarna, king of Sri Lanka sent an embassy to Samudragupta for his permission to build a monastery for Buddhist pilgrims at Bodh Gaya.

Also, Read Humayun: (1530-40) & (1555-56)

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