The Gupta Period of India was not characterized by enormous material wealth or by elaborate trade activity. It was defined by creativity. Flourishing arts, fabulous literature, and stupendous scholars are just a few of the things that marked the period. In 185 B.C.E., the Mauryan empire collapsed when the last of the Mauryan kings was assassinated. In its place, small kingdoms arose throughout India. For nearly 500 years, the various states warred with each other. In the northern territories, a new empire arose when a ruler named Chandragupta I ascended the throne in 320 C.E. He revived many principles of Mauryan government and paved the way for his son, Samudragupta, to develop an extensive empire. Victory at Any Cost
Samudragupta was a great warrior and conquest was his passion. He sought to unite all of India under his rule and quickly set out to achieve this goal by waging wars across much of the Indian subcontinent. Hoping for mercy, many potential victims offered tribute and presents to Samudragupta as he swept through the territories. But little mercy was granted. One by one, he defeated nine kings in the north and twelve in the south. In addition to the human devastation countless horses were slaughtered to celebrate his victories. The Gupta territories expanded so greatly under Samudragupta's reign that he has often been compared to great conquerors such as Alexander the Great and Napoleon. But of course he did not achieve military success singlehandedly. Local squads — which each consisted of one elephant, one chariot, three armed cavalrymen, and five foot soldiers — protected Gupta villages from raids and revolts. In times of war, the squads joined together to form a powerful royal army. Gupta Achievements
But Samudragupta was more than a fighter; he was also a lover of the arts. Engraved coins and inscribed pillars from the time of his reign provide evidence of both his artistic talent and his patronage. He set the stage for the...
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