The eclipse of the Kushanas in North India and of the Satavahanas in the Deccan in the 3rd century CE, ushered in a period of political disintegration. It paved the way for the emergence of several minor powers and new ruling families. It was against this background the Guptas laid the foundation of the empire.
|Administration||1. The Gupta king adopted pompous titles such as Maharajadhiraja or Parameshwara which signified that they ruled over lesser kings in their empire.|
2. Element of divinity in Kingship.
3. Council of ministers existed; Evidence of one holding several posts like Harisena and posts became hereditary.
4. The empire was divided into ‘Bhukti’ (Province) and placed under the charge of ‘Uparika’(Viceroy). Bkutis were further divided into districts (Vishyas) and placed under the charge of ‘Vishyapati’.
5. The sub districts were called ‘Peth’ and the villages were under ‘Gramika’ or ‘Mahattar’.
6. The Guptas did not maintain a vast bureaucracy like the Mauryas.
7. ‘Kumaramatya’ were the most important officers appointed by the king.
8. Chariots receded into the background and cavalry came to the forefront.
9. Religious functionaries were granted land called ‘Agarhara’.
10. Land revenue was about 1/6th the produce.
|Society||1. Aryan pattern of Society based on ‘Varnashram Dharma’.|
2. Brahman supremacy continued.
3. Women were idealised in literature but in reality were accorded lower positions.
4. The position of Shudras improved but the number of untouchables and outcastes increased.
5. The first example of Sati came from Eran (Madhya Pradesh) Inscription of 510 A.D.
6. Many legal books were written during this period: Yajanavalkaya Smriti, Narada Smriti, Brihaspati Smriti etc.
7. Beginning of subinfeudation.
|Religion||1. Bhagavatism: Worship of Vishnu or Bhagwat. |
2. Theory of Karma and ideas of Bhakti and Ahimsa became the foundation of Bhagavatism.
3. Idol worship in temples became a common feature.
4. Buddhism received lesser royal patronage under the Gupta period.
5. Six schools of Philosophy were perfected. (Explained in detail elsewhere)