Samudragupta – He was the fourth ruler of the Gupta Empire and the son and successor of Chandragupta I. His rule was one of expansion marked first.
SAMUDRAGUPTA PARAKRAM KA (c. 335-375 A.D.)
THE ALLAHABAD PILLAR INSCRIPTION By Samudragupta
Samudragupta – In addition to a huge number of coins, the Inscription of Allahabad Pillar is the important source of information for the reign of Samudragupta.
This inscription is on a pillar of Asoka. The pillar stands in the fort at
Magadha Dynasty And Samudragupta
- Allahabad and not in its original place of Kosambi. The inscription is updated.
- The view of Fleet was that it was written after the death of Samudragupta. However, this view has now been given up.
- The reason is that the inscription does not mention the Asvamedha sacrifices as the coins and inscriptions do.
- Under the circumstances, it must be dated in the interval between the return from the South and the celebration of the horse sacrifice.
- The raised arm of the earth, proclaiming as it were, that the fame having pervaded the entire surface of the world with rise caused by the conquest of the whole earth, has acquired an easy and graceful movement in that it has repaired from here to the abode of the lord of the gods.
- The first portion of the inscription is written in verse. It has eight stanzas. It refers to the early education of Samudragupta and his fitness to be made a king.
- The first two stanzas have practically disappeared. From whatever remains of those stanzas, it appears that Samudragupta fought successfully certain battles during the reign of his father.
- The fourth stanza tells us that Samudragupta was nominated by his father to succeed him with the following blessing : “Rule over the world.“
- This was done in the presence of courtiers who felt very happy. There were others looked pale on account of jealousy.
- The fifth and sixth stanzas probably refer to some war in which his enemies were defeated by his prowess.
- It appears that they were all pardoned. They expressed their repentance and their minds were filled with gladness and affection.
- The seventh and eighth stanzas give details of the military and conquests of Samudragupta.
- In line 13 of the inscription, it is stated that Samudragupta defeated three kings of Northern India, namely, Achyuta Naga, Naga Sena and Ganpati Naga.
- These Naga kings ruled in Ahichchhatra, Mathura and Padmavati respectively. These three names occur once again in line No. 21 along with the names of other rulers of Aryavarta who were defeated by Samudragupta after his campaign of the South.
- Lines 19 and 20 describe the southern campaigns of Samudragupta. It is stated that the ruler of 12 kingdoms in the South were captured and then released by Samudragupta.
- Line 21 mentions the names of Achyuta Naga, Naga Sena, Ganapati Naga, Rudradeva, Matila. Nagadatta, Chandravarman, Nandi and Bala Varman.
- Line 22 of the inscription tells us that the rulers of the five frontier countries of Pratyantar came to pay their homage to him at his command and also paid tribute to him.
- The names of those 5 states were Samatata, Davaka, Kamarupa, Nepal and Kartarpur.
- The names of the 9 tribal peoples who submitted to Samudragupta were the Malwas, Arjunayanas, Yaudheyas, Madrakas, Abhiras, Prarjunas, Sanakanikas, Kakas and Kharaparikas. All of these places have been identified.
- Lines 22 and 24 give the names of certain foreign rulers who purchased peace by self-surrender and acts of homage.
- They brought presents of maidens. They gave Garuda tokens. They surrendered the enjoyment of their own territories. They solicited his commands.
- A lot of praise has been showered on Samudragupta in this inscription. It is stated that Samudragupta was the spirit that was the cause of the production of good and the destruction of evil. He was a full of compassion.
- He had a tender heart that could be won over simply by devotion and obeisance.
- Line 29 of the inscription says that this lofty column is as it were an arm of the earth proclaiming the frame of Samudragupta which has pervaded the entire surface of the earth on account of his conquest of the whole world.
Succession after Samudragupta
- The Allahabad Pillar Inscription states that Samudragupta was selected for the throne by his father as he was considered to be worthy and the decision was publicly declared in open assembly before the counsellors by asking the prince : “Protect ye this earth.”
- There are many coins which bear the name Kacha and also a legend. It is suggested that Kacha was an elder brother of Samudragupta who occupied the throne and after killing him Samudragupta became the King.
- If we accept the view that Chandragupta Ⅰ abdicated in favour of Samudragupta, the theory of any war of succession becomes untenable.
- The exact date of accession to the throne of samudragupta is not known. If we accept the evidence of the spurious Nalanda plate, Samudragupta must have ascended the throne before the 5th year of the Gupta era which comes to 325 A.D.
- Some writers regard him as the founder of the Gupta era and if their view is to be accepted he ought to have ascended the throne in 320 A.D.
- According to Dr. R.C. Majumdar, the accession of Samudragupta may be placed between A.D. 340 and A.D. 350.
Conquests of Samudragupta
- Samudragupta is famous for his conquest and that is why he has been given the title of the Indian Napoleon by V.A. smith.
- His conquests were in many directions and of various Kinds. It is pointed out that so far as Aryavarta was concerned, he acted as a Digvijaya and so far the Dakshinapatha or the Deccan was concerned, he acted as Dharmavijaya.
Conquests in the South
- Samudragupta captured and liberated a number of kings of the Dakshinapatha.
- Their names were Mahendra of Kosala, Vyaghra of Mahakantara, Mahendra of Pista Pura, Svami Data of Kottura, Mantaraya of Korala, Hastivarman of Vengi, Vishnu Gopal of Kanchi, Ugrasena of Palakka, Damana of Perandapalli, Nilaraja of Avimukta, Kuvera of Devarastra.
- Dhananjaya of Kushtha Lapura and other kings. According to Dr. H.C. Raychaudhuri, Kosala in Dakshinapatha comprised the modern Bilaspur, Raipur and Sambalpur districts and possibly a part of Ganjam and its capital was Sripura.
FOREIGN EMPIRE RELATINSHIP WITH SAMUDRA GUPTA
- The Allahabad Pillar Inscription refers to the independent foreign countries who entered into relationship with SamudraGupta in these words : “Whose binding together of the world by means of the amplitude of the vigour of arm, was affected by the acts of respectful service.
- According to Dr. Mookerji, the three titles Devaputra – Shahi- Shahanshahi were first used by the Kushan emperors.
- The title of Shahi was used by Kanishka Ⅰ. The title of Devaputra was used by Kanishka Ⅰ, Huvishka and Vasudeva Ⅰ.
- The title Devaputra has a Chinese origin. The title Shahanshahi is derived from Persia or Iran.
- According to Dr. Raychaudhuri, the Saka Murunda must have included the northern chiefs of Scythian nationality who issued the Aedo Chcho coins as well the Saka chieftains of Saurashtra and Central India.
SAMUDRA GUPTA RELATIONS WITH CEYLON
- It is stated that Suryavarman,a Buddhist king of Ceylon, sent two monks, one of whom was his brother, to pay homage to the diamond throne and also to see Asoka’s monastery to the east of the Sacred Tree at Bodhgaya.
- The expression Served Vipava Seen in the Allahabad pillar Inscription is significant. It shows that the Hindu colonies in Southeast Asia maintained close contact with the mother country in the Gupta period.
- It is pointed out Dr.R.C. Majumdar that the Javanese text Tantri – Kamandaka states that Maharaja Aishwarya Pala of the Ikshvaku race traced his genealogy to the family Samudragupta.
SAMUDRAGUPTA EXTENT OF HIS EMPIRE
- Seleucus inroad and cession of territory to Chandragupta for 500 elephants has been doubted by Tarn. But the recently discovered Kandahar inscription of Asoka conclusively proves that the territory in question formed part of Asoka’s Empire. Asoka did not conquer the region but inherited it.
- By 305 B.C., Chandragupta undoubtedly ruled over a vast empire, which extended as far as the Hindukush in the west. According to plutarch, he overran and subdued the whole of India with an army of six hundred thousand men and Justin also refers to his mastery over the countries.
- Asoka’s inscriptions credit him with only one conquest namely that of Kalinga. But the geographical distribution of his inscriptions as well as their internal evidence shows that the empire extended to Mysore in the south and beyond the natural boundaries of India up to borders of Persia in the north-west.
- As Ashoka’s father Bindusara is not known to history as a great conqueror, it may reasonably be assumed that the empire over which Asoka ruled was mostly the creation of his grandfather Chandragupta.
- There is no clear evidence about Bengal in the east, but it must be taken to have become a part of the Mauryan State.
- The Junagadh inscription of Rudradaman (A.D. 150) shows that Saurashtra was a province of the Mauryan empire.
- There the Mauryan governor (rashtriya),the Vaisya Pushya Gupta, constructed the famous Sudarsana lake. Possibly, Chandragupta’s dominions embraced all those parts of the Deccan which had formed a part of the Nanda empire.
- Kautilya’s idea of Chakravarti Kshetra very nearly corresponding to the reality of the Mauryan rule in the reign of Chandragupta. It must here be pointed out that ‘empire’ did not always mean the extinction of local dynasties but only their recognition of a suzerain imperial power to which annual tributes were paid.
- The Roman historian Justin affirms that the rule of Chandragupta was a strong ruler who did not shrink from the use of force to maintain order in his realm. All authorities agree that his rule lasted for twenty for years.
SAMUDRAGUPTA HORSE SACRIFICE
- After the completion of his conquests, Samudragupta performed the Asvamedha sacrifice.
- We have come across gold coins which seem to have been struck on that occasion and which were distributed among the Brahmanas as gifts.
- Those coins show a figure of the horse to be sacrificed before an altar and legend “The Maharajadhiraja of irresistible valour having conquered the earth now wins heaven.”
- It is considered that Samudragupta was responsible for reviving the institution of Asvamedha sacrifice which had fallen into abeyance for a long period of about 400 years after Pushyamitra, the Sunga emperor.
- Horse sacrifice were performed by many other kings during this interval.
COINS During Samudragupta Kingdom
- The coins of Samudragupta give us a lot of useful information about him. As a matter of fact, it was Samudragupta who inaugurated and Indianised the Gupta coinage.
- There are as many as 8 different types of coins of Samudragupta.
- All of them are of gold. The various types are known as standard type, archer type, battle-axe type, Chandragupta Ⅰ type, kacha type, tiger type , lyrist type and Asvamedha type.
- Excepting the tiger and lyrist types, all other coins bear legends indicative of the conquest of Samudragupta and his attainment of paramount power.
- The Chandragupta type coins were issued by Samudragupta and cannot be attributed to Chandragupta Ⅰ.
- Had the later issued them, they should have been of the standard type, following closely the Kushana coins.
- However, that is not the case. The Chandragupta type coins are more Indianised than the standard coins of Samudragupta.
- On the Kacha type coins, the legend on the obverse is “Kacha having conquered the earth, wins heaven by the highest works”, while on the reverse the legend is “Extermination of all the Kings”.
- The tiger type coins, the king is shown as standing trampling on a tiger which falls backwards as he shoots it with a bow. The legend is Vyaghra Parakrama.
- The lyrist type coins show the king seated on a high backed couch playing on a Vina or lute which lies on his knees. The legend is Maharajadhiraja – Shri – Samudragupta.
- The Aswamedha type coins we find a horse standing before a sacrificial post from which pennines fly over his back.
- Beneath the horse is the legend “the king of kings, having gained the earth, conquers heaven with his irresistible heroism.” The legend on the flip side is “Asvamedha Parakrama.”