Samudragupta was succeeded by his son Chandragupta II popularly known as Vikramaditya. He ruled from 380 AD to 413 AD.

According to some scholars the immediate successor of Samudragupta was his son Ramagupta, the elder brother of Chandragupta II.

This has been mentioned by Visakhadutta in his drama Devi Chandragupta. In between Samudragupta and Chandragupta II for a period of five years (375 to 380) Ramagupta became the ruler. He was a weak and feeble ruler and was unable to uphold royal power and authority and thus his rule was polluted with disgrace.

Raja Vikramaditya

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Chandragupta II the second great ruler of the Gupta dynasty was one of the ablest rulers of India. But this theory is not corroborated by any unimpeachable evidence. In fact depending on the drama it is imprudent to accept the theory of Ramagupta and his ascendency immediately after Samudragupta. It is further said that Chandragupta II was specially selected by his father for his ability and competence and ruled from 375 AD to 414 AD. Like his father Chandragupta II spearheaded the policy of world conquest. The iron pillar discovered at Mehrauli near Kutub Minar at Delhi bears a Sanskrit inscription.

The inscription referred to a king Chandra who defeated the kings of Vanga. Chandragupta waged many wars against the chiefs of Bengal and maintained peace there. Chandragupta was the worthy son of a worthy father. He took up the heroic legacy of his father and earned further glories for the Gupta dynasty. He is identified with the famous Vikramaditya of the Indian tradition, a king of many legends who ruled from Ujjayini. For his acts as a hero and a wise king Chandragupta Vikramaditya obviously became a centre of many legends and stories.


Mehrauli iron pillar throws some light about the conquests of Vikramaditya. After defeating the king of Vanga or Bengal Chandragupta waged war and crossed seven mouths of river Sindhu and conquered Vahlika in the Beas Valley bordering Kashmir. On the basis of this theory it is accepted that his territory was extended towards north-western province. Chandragupta thought of subduing his enemies who were constant threats to the security and independence of Aryavarta and the Gupta empire. He therefore undertook a series of campaigns.

He secured the friendship of the Vakatakas of Berar through matrimonial alliance. He gave his daughter Parvati in marriage to the Vakataka king Rudrasena II. Unfortunately Rudrasena died. Still then Parvati being the regent of her minor son helped her father Chandragupta in his campaigns. The Saka Satrapas of the Western India were very powerful and became regular threats to the Gupta empire. Therefore Vikramaditya made flawless preparation before any campaign.


In a contest the last of the Western Satrapas, Rudrasena son of Satyasimha was defeated and killed. The Western Malwa and Kathiawar were annexed to the Gupta empire. After this victory the Gupta empire was extended towards Malwa, Gujarat, Saurastra or Kathiawar region which opened a new avenue for useful contract with the Western World.

The sea ports of the western coast such as Bharo, Sopara (Kandal) and several others were opened for carrying flourishing trade and commerce with the countries of Europe. This victory thus provided as new lease of life for the Guptas to cultivate wider contact with Europe through Egypt. The conquest of Ujjain by Chandragupta was a mark of high significance.

On the court of Ujjain Chandragupta II or the legendary here Vikramaditya continued to rule the vast empire. By his campaigns and conquests Chandragupta II completed the great works of empire building begun by his illustrious father. The Gupta empire under him reached the farthest limits of geographical India in the west, the north west and the east. In the Deccan and in the south his political hegemony was felt as in the days of Samudragupta.

As a Patron of Culture:

Chandragupta II belonged to a time which saw an all round cultural development in the country. In the field of literature, art, architecture, philosophy and science the Indians of that time showed their genius in an astounding manner. As a ruler of a glorious time he became the patron of that cultural movement.


His splendid royal court was adorned by the Navaratna or the nine jewels. By patronizing men like Kalidas, Varah Mihira, Vararuchi, Betalabhatta, Ghatakarpura, Dhanantwari, Kshapanaka, Amarsingha and Sanku Chandragupta II rendered valuable services to the culture of his age. Vikramaditya is described as Rajarshi that indicates that he was a man of many virtues and of saintly character even though he was the emperor of a great empire.

Chandragupta II was a devotee of Visnu. He made the figure of Garuda the Vahana of Visnu as the emblem of the Gupta flag. He styled himself as the Paramabhagavatas. During his time India saw the activities of Brahmanic Hinduism. It led to the wonderful sculptural activities all over the country. Countless images of the Hindu gods and goddesses were made for purpose of worship. His reign epitomized that spirit of liberalism.

An Estimate:

Chandragupta II Vikramaditya remained more famous than others in peoples memory. The process of conquest started by Samudragupta was completed by Chandragupta II. He inherited the soldierly virtues of his father. By providing the country its needful political and administrative unity he infused a new vigour in the minds of the people for their united action for the country’s greatness.

Vikramaditya was one of the most benevolent monarch’s of ancient history. His diplomatic skill greatly helped him consolidate his power and position and to establish himself as a successful ruler. Fahein observed that the administration of Gupta was efficient. There was hardly any crime. Government was lenient and well meaning.

Capital punishment was an exception. Officials and Soldier used to get their salary regularly. The king was assisted by a council of Ministers and several high officials. He delegated powers to the ministers for smooth functioning of the government. Chandragupta II who brought maturity in the new era of political greatness and cultural regeneration won a place in the hearts of the people. The golden age of the Guptas saw its high water-mark during the monarchy of Chandragupta II.

Gupta Culture:

(а) Art:

Prior to the Gupta period the art in India was mostly influenced by foreign elements. The influence of the Greeks was prominent. In the new era the Greek influence on the Indian art completely disappeared and it became indianised. Truly speaking its idea and object were purely Indian. The Indian artists put their heart and soul to project their ideas and imagination totally free from foreign influence.

Simplicity became the salient features of the Gupta art. The artists have displayed unprecedented naturalness and fineness in their works. The style, design and imposition up were simple and attractive. The sculptures of Gupta period show an improvement over the images of Amaravati.

The skill of the sculpturist was so magnificent that they have expressed the combination of soul and body of images. The image of Lord Buddha at Sarnath looks like a living being and in the preaching mood. Thus spirituality and gracious dignity are the pleasing characteristics of the Gupta art. The art was highly pensive and imaginative and inclined to spirituality. The Gupta art projects high aesthetic sense. The artists followed the principle “the path of virtue is the path of beauty”.

(b) Architecture:

The architecture flourished during the Gupta period. The buildings, the temples, pillars and stupas etc. constructed during Gupta period were beautiful, attractive, and displayed a mark of excellent workmanship. Unfortunately many fine architecture have already been destroyed by the invaders. The remnants which are still surviving from the cruel eyes of the rapacious invaders and natural decay amply prove that the architecture of the period attained a high standard. Among the surviving examples of Gupta architecture, the famous Dasavatara temple at Deogarh in Jhansi district of Uttar Pradesh is considered the best.

The body of the temple is covered with beautiful sculpture with many figures. The other structures of the period include the Visnu temple at Tigawa in Jabalpur district, the Siva temple of Bhumra in Madhya Pradesh, the Parvati temple of Ajaigarh and the Buddhist shrines of Bodhgaya and Sanchi.

Besides the stone structures temples were constructed in bricks. Among the brick temples the most famous one is the temple of Bhitaragaon in Kanpur district. The beautiful designs on the body of the temple show the artistic talent of the builders who could mold the bricks in various forms. All the monuments of the Gupta age were built under the Puranic religious concepts.

(c) Sculpture:

The Gupta period witnessed the classical phase of Indian Sculpture. Through centuries of evolution the art of sculpture- making reached a stage of perfection. The sculptors were matured enough to transform stone into images of superb beauty. In perfect precision and with masterly skill they could shape the stone into any object of attraction.

Their works became the model for coming ages. The Sculptures was at its best in giving shape to the images of the deities and divinities, both brahmanical and Buddhist faiths. Countless number of images were cut into shapes at several centres for their installation in numberless temples and shrines. The seated image of Buddha in Sarnath has been rightly regarded as the finest of all Buddha images in India.

The standing Buddha of Mathura and the colossal copper statue of Buddha now in British museum are some other excellent examples of the Gupta Sculptures. The beauty of the Buddha’s body, the majesty of his appearance and the grace on his face prove that the art of Sculpture was at its most splendid hour. The images of Hindu gods and goddesses were also made in large number at various places. All of them possessed beautiful figures representing religious glamour and divinity. The Gupta Sculpture thus enhanced the value and potentiality of Indian culture greatly which remained as models for the future to come.

(d) Art of Painting:

Along with envious progress in the field of architecture and sculpture, the art of painting reached its peak during the Gupta period. The fresco-paintings on the walls and ceilings of the world famous Ajanta Caves are the brightest examples of that refined art. The pictures depicted in the Ajanta, Ellora and Bagh Caves have the main importance in the history of Indian paintings. The decorative designs like scrolls, flowers, creepers, trees, animals, and mythological beings, portraits of Buddha and Bodhisattvas, events of the life of Buddha and his various births as described in the Jatakas are the subject matters of the Ajanta Caves.

Much of the Ajanta paintings did not survive the centuries of time. Out of the 29 caves the paintings of 16 caves continued to exist till date. But most of those precious arts also got damaged or destroyed. Whatever of that artistic wealth could survive till now are considered as wonders of world art heritage. The artists were inspired by great ideals to draw their pictures in a superb way.

They used bright colours and adopted spiritual themes as well as secular as the subject matter of drawing. The scenes of their painting looked most natural and the figures most life-like. The scenes of “The Dying Princess’ and “The Mother and Child” among other numerous scenes show the excellent skill of the artists in presenting human figures together with their feeling, emotions, pathos, sentiment and mood. Every piece of painting in the Ajanta Caves is like a masterpiece of art.

The Ajanta Style of art aimed at covering most subjects of religious, spiritual and social values. The art aimed at carrying a deep appeal to the human mind to create a permanent impression. The gods, and sages, kings and queens, men and women and children, birds and beasts, trees and flowers, palaces and houses, and the scenes of varying subjects all painted in appropriate colour carried their deeper meaning for men’s thought and imagination.

Dr. V.S. Agarwal has rightly remarked “the paintings of our age (the Gupta age) show the art at its best. The assurance and delicacy of lines, the brilliancy of colours, the richness of expression infused with a buoyant feeling and pulsating life have rendered this art supreme of all times”.

The Gupta age in its cultural resurgence found its rulers as active patrons of culture. The glory of the culture rests on its many sided and comprehensive character. Almost every branch of culture got enriched during that splendid epoch making age of the Guptas. All the major religions of India came under fresh impetus for growth and development in one form or the other in the form of an universal manifestation of spiritual awakening.

The Gupta age is regarded as the golden age of the Sanskrit literature. Sanskrit being the lingua franca of India received utmost attention of the rulers and the educated of religious and secular writers and of preachers of various faiths. Among the galaxy of writers who made the Sanskrit literature richer and more magnificent, Kalidasa occupied as one of the greatest poets of the world.

The celebrated author of the famous drama Mudra Rakshasa was Visakhadatta. Another interesting literary figure of the age was Bhartihari who renounced the world to lead a saintly life after passing through the painful experience of life. Visnusharma contributed his notable literature Panchatantra.

Bharavi wrote Kirataijuna that depicts the picture of the appearance of Siva before Arjuna as a hunter while he was in penance. Harisena the author of Allahabad Prasasti of Samudragupta was also a poet of high order. The Indian philosophy like the Indian literature passed through a vigorous phase of developments.

The famous Somritis of Yajnavalkya, the Mimansasutra of Savarasvamin and the Naya System of philosophy of Vastayana contributed a unique feature to the Hindu philosophy in a wider dimension. In the field of Mathematics and Astronomy the contributions of Aryabhatta in his work Surya-Sidhanta, Varahamihira in his work Brihat Samhita are permanent and everlasting.

Metallurgical science was far more advanced in India than in other countries during the Gupta period. A glaring proof of the development of this branch of science is found in the Iron Pillar of the Gupta period at Mehrauli near Delhi. This wonderful pillar of 24 feet high and 180 maund of weight has not got rusted through centuries of time though exposed to rains and atmosphere.

For all these above reasons the culture of the Gupta age occupies a unique place in the history of ancient India. The great works of such immortal sons of India as Kalidasa and Aryabhatta and the great objects of timeless appeal as the Sarnath Buddha and the Ajanta Freseo painting will continue to represent the glories of the Gupta age for which this age is called the Golden Age of ancient Indian History.