Disintegration of the Gupta State Power!

The Guptas began to rule independently from AD 319-320. Though they ruled until AD 550, the effective period of their rule is not more than a hundred and fifty years, i.e., tilling the end of Skandagupta.

After that, they figure oftly as rulers only in name, but without any effective power structure to back them.

Generally, the reasons for the disintegration of any power structure are explained, as a combination of external factors with internal weaknesses.

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1. It is generally agreed upon by almost all historians that the Huna invasions were the main or at least one of the principal causes for the decline of the Gupta power. It is no exaggeration to state that the Huna attacks dealt a severe blow to the Gupta authority particularly in northern and western regions. Further, the internal attacks of the Pushyamitras, who are identified with the Patumitras and Durmitras of the Puranas, also caused notable destabilization to the state power of the Guptas.

2. Another cause for the disintegration was the succession of weak rulers after Skandagupta.

3. Yet another factor behind the disintegration of the Gupta state power was the administrative weakness. Guptas made no efforts to impose an effective control over their regions. Their control was effective as long as powerful rulers occupied the Gupta throne and exercised their authority effectively.


However, crisis of succession or weak monarchs led local chiefs to declare independence. This naturally resulted in constant military preparedness that led to the crippling of the financial resources of the Gupta Empire. Though Skandagupta thwarted the early attacks of the Hunas, the struggle disrupted the international trade of north-western India and eroded one of the most important financial bases of the Guptas.

4. By the end of the 5th century AD and beginning of the 6th century AD, taking advantage of the chaotic condition of the Gupta Empire, many regional powers asserted themselves by declaring independence. Further, for some historians, another cause for the disintegration of the Gupta Empire was the beginning of feudalization of the polity, economy and society. They argue that this process of fuedalization with the issue of land grants first to religious and later to secular beneficiaries resulted in loss of revenue and diminished administrative control over the kingdom. Further, the growing importance of Samantas weakened the central authority.

5. Another cause for the decline and disintegration of the Guptas is said to be their tilt towards the asceticism of Buddhism during the reign of Kumaragupta and Buddhagupta. It is suggested that the founding of Nalanda University by Kumaragupta and of Buddhist learning and the patronage extended by Buddhagupta are index of their tilt towards Buddhism that advocates non-violence.

It is not true that they patronized Buddhist educational institutions but this does not mean that they renounced violence even for protection of their territories from external and internal disorders, nor is there any conclusive evidence to prove that they disowned their royal duties and spent their lives as ascetics, embracing Buddhist philosophy.


All the above causes were either directly or indirectly responsible for the decay and disintegration of the Gupta power structure.