Chandra Gupta II succeeded to the throne of his father, Samudra Gupta, in about 380 A. D. Whether this was in the natural progression of things, or, as some scholars believe, that it occurred in a more dramatic fashion, is a matter of conjecture.

The story goes that the prince who inherited the throne was a weak prince named Rama Gupta. He agreed to surrender his wife, Dhruvadevi, to a Saka tyrant. His younger brother, Chandra Gupta, saved the family honour by slaying the tyrant, after which he murdered his brother and married his brother’s grieving widow.

Once on the throne, he continued his father’s aggressive policies by conquering the Saka rulers of Ujjain, but he also strengthened his empire by matrimonial alliances. He married his daughter Prabhuvati to the Vataka king, Rudrasena II. When the king died at an early age, she served as regent for the heirs to his throne, thereby increasing Gupta power in that part of the country. He also consolidated his influence with the Naga rulers by accepting the hand of princess Kuberanaga.

Chandra took the title Vikramaditya, meaning “Sun of Valour”, and surrounded himself in his court with the Navaratna (nine gems). These were the great writers who produced lasting works of Sanskrit literature that sparkled in the Golden Age of India. Chief of these was Kalidasa, “India’s Shakespeare”.

One of the celebrated events of the reigned of Chandra II was the arrival of Fa-Hsien, a pilgrim from China. In his journal he spoke highly of conditions in the Ganges Valley:

“The people are numerous and happy . . . . The king governs without decapitation or other corporal punishment; criminals are simply fined, lightly or heavily according to the circumstances. Even in repeated attempts at wicked rebellion, they only have their right hands cut off. ”

On the death of Chandra in 413, Kumara Gupta I succeeded to the throne, followed in 455 by Skanda Gupta who repelled the Huns and took the Vikramaditya title. After his death in 467, the Gupta Empire went into decline, the last of the line being Vainya Gupta who reigned around 510.

Suggested Further Reading

  • Banerjee, Rakhal Das, 1885-1930.
    The age of the imperial Guptas. — New Delhi : Ramanand Vidya Bhawan, 1981.
    250 p. , [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 22 cm.
  • Dandekar, R. N.
    The age of the Guptas and other essays. — Delhi : Ajanta, 1982.
    viii, 391 p. ; 23 cm. — (Select writings ; 4)
  • Ganguly, Dilip Kumar, 1939-
    The imperial Guptas and their times. — New Delhi : Abhinav, 1987.
    xii, 184 p. ; 23 cm.

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