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Class VI - social: New Empires And Kingdoms
One Word Answer Questions:
Q) Whose period is also referred to as the Classical Age of the ancient India?
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Q) Which poet was part of the Chandra Gupta's court?
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Q) Name the most famous ruler of the Gupta dynasty?
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Q) Name the chinese pilgrim who visited the court of Harsha?
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Q) Who wrote Harshacharita?
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Short Answer Questions:
Q) Explain about the military victories of Samudra Gupta?
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Q) Mentions the regions of the world with which the Guptas traded?
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Q) Name the works of literature written by Harshavardhana?
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Q) Name the achitechtural achievements of the Pallavas?
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Q) Who was Kumara Gupta?
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Long Answer Questions:
Q) Why was the Gupta period known as the Classical Age of ancient India?
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Q) What was the importance given to the caste system in society during the Gupta period?
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Q) Explain about the ruler Harshavardhana?
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Q) Explain about the achievements of Chandra Gupta I and Chandra Gupta II?
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Q) Explain briefly about the kingdoms of the Deccan?
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The Guptas

    The Gupta Empire kept northern India politically united for more than 200 years (AD 320-540). There are number of achievements to the credit of this dynasty - art, literature, and the science received royal patronage.

New Empires and Kingdoms
Gupta Empire

Sources of Information:

    There are several sources to help narrate the story of the Guptas.

    Literary sources:
  • Both plays and travelogues give a portrayal of the period.
  • Fa Hein, the Chinese Buddhist traveller, described in his writings the social and religious conditions of India during these times.
  • Inscription:
  • There is a wealth of inscriptions belonging to the Gupta period, in a variety of places that reveal the achievements of the rulers.
  • Of these the most well-known is Harisena's inscription praise of the Gupta King Samudra Gupta.
  • New Empires and Kingdoms
    Samudra Gupta

    Seals and coins:
  • Several seals and coins belonging to this period have been found, which offer us a glimpse into the age of the Guptas.
  • New Empires and Kingdoms
    Coins Belonging to the Gupta Period

    Art and Monuments:
  • The Gupta Age produced masterpieces in art, the most notable being the beautiful images of Buddha at Mathura.
New Empires and Kingdoms
Art and Monuments

Chandra Gupta I (CA AD 320-335)
  • Chandra Gupta I was the king of India (reigned 320 to c. 330 CE) and founder of the imperial Gupta dynasty.
  • Sri Gupta was the first known ruler of the Gupta line and he was the grandfather of Chandra Gupta.
  • Chandra Gupta I, whose early life is unknown, became a local chief in the kingdom of Magadha (parts of modern Bihar state).
  • He cemented his position by marrying a Lichchhavi princess from present day at Nepal.
  • Chandra Gupta laid a strong foundation for the kingdom. He was succeeded by his son Samudra Gupta.
New Empires and Kingdoms
Chandra Gupta I

Samudra Gupta (CA AD 335-375)
  • Samudra Gupta, ruler of the Gupta Empire, and successor to Chandragupta I, is considered to be one of the greatest military geniuses in Indian history. He was the third ruler of the Gupta Dynasty, who ushered in the Golden Age of India.
  • Samudra Gupta conquered and occupied vast territories including present-day Delhi, western Uttar Pradesh, Nepal, Assam and Bengal.
  • We know about his aggressive expansionist policy and success from the Allahabad Pillar Inscription.
  • Some parts of Punjab and Afghanistan came under his rule.
  • Samudra Gupta was not only a great conqueror he was also an accomplished veena player and a poet.
New Empires and Kingdoms
Gold coin showing Samudra Gupta in armour

Chandra Gupta II (CA AD 375-415)
  • Chandra Gupta II or Chandra Gupta Vikramadityawas one of the most powerful emperors of the Gupta Empire in northern India.
  • His influence extended up to the Vakataka kingdom in the South.
  • He conquered the Saka kingdom in the west and made Ujjain his second capital.
  • He also occupied Malwa and Kathiawar. The inscriptions on the iron Pillar near the Qutub Minar in Delhi are believed to refer to Chandra Gupta II.
  • The poet Kalidasa is believed to have been part of Chandra Gupta's court.
New Empires and Kingdoms
Gold coin showing Chandra Gupta II
New Empires and Kingdoms
Chandra Gupta II alias Vikramaditya
New Empires and Kingdoms

Kumar Gupta (CA AD 415-454)
  • Kumar Gupta, who succeeded Chandra Gupta II, ruled for 40 years and was a powerful king.
  • During his reign he retained and defended the vast empire that he had inherited from Chandra Gupta II.
  • Kumara Gupta was followed by Skanda Gupta.
New Empires and Kingdoms
Gold coin of KumaraGupta

Life under the Guptas

  • Unlike the Mauryan rule where the kings held all the power in their own hands, Gupta rule was more decentralised.
  • The empire was divided into a number of provinces. They were placed under governors.
  • The provinces were further subdivided into districts, towns and Villages.
  • Bigger cities were administered by ayuktas, who were appointed by the governor.
  • These ayuktas were assisted by town clerks.
  • Many taxes were levied on lands - one-fourth to one-sixth of the land revenue was collected as tax.
  • High ranking officials were probably paid in cash but, over a period of time, land grants replaced cash payments.
  • Society
  • Fa Hien tell us about the simple life led by the people in the villages. But in the town and cities the rich enjoyed affluent lifestyles.
  • The cast system had by now made deep inroads into society.
  • Untouchability continued to be practised. Fa Hein has described the cruel treatment meted out to the Chandalas, the people who cremated the dead and who were considered untouchable by 'higher' caste Hindus.
  • They were compelled to stay on the out skirts of villages.
  • New Empires and Kingdoms

  • The Gupta Empire had long distance trade with the Eastern Roman Empire, West Asia, Africa and many countries of South East Asia.
  • The ports of Bharuch and Cambay on the western coastprospered.
  • The prosperities of the Guptas could be definitely attributed to their rich trade.
  • Contacts through trade also led to a more long lasting impact on the cultures of South-East Asia.
  • Sanskrit, Buddhism and Hinduism spread here from India.
  • Religion
  • Religion gained importance in the Gupta period. Though the rulers were Hindu, they were tolerant towards other faiths.
  • A great change took place in both Hinduism and Buddhism.
  • Idols were sculpted of Gods and goddesses and worshipped in temples.
  • Kumara Gupta Mahendraditya founded the most famous centre of Buddhist learning at Nalanda University.
  • The rule of the Guptas lasted for a little more than a century and a half.
  • Towards the end of the period, many feudal chief who owned their beginnings to the Guptas assumed more power.
  • One such dynasty that had extended its power into present-day Haryana with Thanesar as its capital became more powerful than the others.
  • The most famous ruler of Thanesar dynasty was Harshavardhana.
  • New Empires and Kingdoms
    Nalanda University

Harshavardhana(AD 606-647)
  • Harshavardhana came to power when he was just 16 years of age.
  • He went on to establish a mighty empire that extended across northern India. His kingdom included present day Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal, Orissa and east Punjab.
  • Harshavardhan moved his capital to Kannauj. Kannauj had replaced Pataliputra as the centre of power in the subcontinent.
  • We know about Harsha from the accounts of pilgrims, especially those of Hieun Tsang, the Chinese pilgrim who visited the court of Harsha.
  • The writings of people like Banabhatta who lived in Harsha's court, coins and inscription.
  • Administration
  • Unlike the Mauryas, and more like the Guptas, the officials of the empire were paid in land grants instead of money.
  • This reduced the power and influence of the king. The king was assisted by a council of minister.
  • New Empires and Kingdoms

    Occupation and trade
  • According to Hieun Tsang, agriculture was the main occupation of the people.
  • There were many trading centres along the Ganga, which was used as an internal waterway to transport goods.
  • New Empires and Kingdoms
    Hieun Tsang

  • Harsha is believed to have become a follower of Buddhism later in his life.
  • He organised large religious assemblies every five years where he honoured people belonging to all religions.
  • He held the Fifth Buddhist Council in Kanauj in AD 641.
  • Art and Culture
  • Harsha was a patron of the arts.
  • The famous writers Banabhatta and Dandin were attached to his court.
  • Banabhatta wrote the Harshacharita, a rich source of information about Harsha,s reign.
  • Harsha himself is believed to have written plays in Sanskrit, like Ratnavali and Priyadarshika.
  • Educational centres like Kannauj, Vallabhi, Varanasi and Nalanda were patronised by Harsha.
  • He donated generously to the university at Nalanda, which grew in fame as one of the greatest centres of learning.
    Pallavas and Chalukyas

    After the fall of the satahvahanas around AD 220, several small kingdoms arose in the Deccan. The chalukyas and Pallavas emerged the strongest among them.

The Chalukyas
  • The Chalukyas ruled over large parts of the Deccan from the 6th to the 8th century AD.
  • Badami or Vatapi was the capital of Chalukyas.
  • The most famous ruler of this dynasty was Pulakesin II (AD 609-642). Under him the Chalukyan kingdom stretched from the Narmada to the Kaveri, covering most of present day Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
  • Pulakesin II defeated Harsha at the banks of the Narmada in a historic battle.
  • The chalukyas were engaged in several battles with the pallavas.
  • Pulakesin II defeated the Pallava King Mahendravarman.
  • Mahendravarman's son Narashimhavarman again defeated Pulakesin II and captured Badami.
  • Vivid accounts of Pulakesin's campaigns are provided in the Aihole inscription composed by his court poet Ravikirti in AD 634.
  • The Chalukyas were finally defeated by the Rashtrakutas in AD 753.
  • The most enduring legacy of the Chalukya dynasty is the architecture and art that they left behind.
  • The rock cut temples at Pattadakal, Badami and Aihole are their most famous monunments.
  • The Chalukyans style of architechture was a mix of the northern and southern styles.
New Empires and Kingdoms
Bhutanatha Temple at Badami
New Empires and Kingdoms
Papanatha Temple at Pattadakal
The Pallavas
  • Pallavas kingdom stretched over most of the South India. Its capital was at Kanchipuram.
  • The greatest of this kingdom were Simhavishnu and Narasimhavarman I (AD 630-668).
  • Narasimhavarman I was defeated the chalukya king Pulakesin II.
  • Continuous war with the Chalukyas and the Cholas weakened the Palllavas. They were finally defeated by the Cholas in AD 890.
  • The Pallavas like the Chalukyas rulers were great builders.
  • The Shore Temple and the Kailasanatha temple at Kanchipuram, are a few of their outstanding contributions to Indian architecture.
New Empires and Kingdoms
Shore Temple at Kanchipuram

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