There were many important monarchical states during the period between the fall of the Kushanas and the rise of the Guptas such as kingdom of Nagas, Ahicchatra, Ayodhya, Kausambi, Vakatakas, Mukharis and Guptas.  East Panjab, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan were ruled by the Yahudeyas who were quite powerful.  Licchavis were the powerful republic at that time.  This republic existed even during the life time of Buddha.  A matrimonial alliance with a Licchavi princess Kumaradevi brought strength and prestige to Chadragupta-I. The original of the Gupta dynasty is however still in obscurity, too many conflicting representations in the available dramas and inscriptions makes it further tough unless and until a solid evidence is found. Same holds good to the original territory of the Guptas.  Some writers are under the opinion that Magadha was their homeland, but some views that it is not.

Sri Gupta (240 - 280 AD)

The Poona copper inscription of Prabhavati Gupta describes that Sri Gupta as the Adhiraja of Gupta dynasty.  Portion of northern or central Bengal might have been the home of Guptas then.  Though no much evidence is available, from the available records it is understood that Sri Gupta could be the first King of the Gupta lineage.

Ghatotkacha ( 280 - 319 AD)
Ghatotkacha became the successor of Sri Gupta.  In two records of Prabhavati Gupta (daughter of Chandragupta-II), Ghatotkacha is described as the Gupta king.   Neither much evidence is found to clearly regard Ghatotkacha as the first king, nor much is known about him.

Chandragupta (319 - 335 AD)

The title Maharajadiraja itself explains that Chandragupta-I was a powerful Gupta king, the conquests might have been the strong reasons for the title.  The coins of Chandragupta-I associates Licchavis with his sovereignty.  With the results of marriage of Chandragupta-I with Kumaradevi, the Gupta dynasty came into prominence.  It is certain now that Chandragupta was raised by his Licchavi connection from the rank of local chief to a dignity that justified him to assume the title Maharajadiraja.

Samudragupta Parakramanka (335 - 375 AD)

Samudragupta was the son of Chandragupta-I and Mahadevi Kumaradevi, the grandson of Ghatotkacha.  He was considered to be worthy for succession and hence was put on the throne by his father.  He gained the name "Indian Napoleon" due to his conquests in many directions and in various kinds.  The empire of Samudragupta wa far the greatest that had seen in India since Ashoka's days.  After completion of conquests, Samudragupta performed Horse sacrifice and coins representing Asvamedha Yagna were distributed to Brahmins.  his coins gives us a lot of useful information about him.  there are as many as eight different types, like Archer, battle axe, tiger slayer, Kacha, Asvamedha, Lyrist etc., Some of his coins such as battle axe, and archer types shows the advancement of the Indianization of the Gupta coinage.

Rama Gupta (375 - ??? AD)

Though no inscriptions or coins explains Rama Gupta well, there are materials such as Natyadarpan, and the historical drama "Devichandraguptam" which described Rama Gupta as son and successor of Samudragupta.  According to Devichandraguptam in Shringararupakam, Rama Gupta sustains a humiliating defeat at the hands of Saka King.  In order to secure the security of his people, Rama Gupta agrees to surrender his queen to the Sakas which provokes his brother Chandragupta-II.  Chandragupta-II in disguise of queen Dhruvadevi enters enemies camp and kills the Saka king to restore the huge empire, queen and the dynasty.  This incident raises Chandragupta in the eyes of people and Dhruvadevi.  The conduct of Rama Gupta gets betrayed by the brother and Rama Gupta kills him and sits on the throne. He then marries the widow of his brother.

Chandragupta-II (375 - 414 AD)

With the aid of Mathura and Bilsad pillar inscriptions, it is clear that Chandragupta ruled between 375 AD until 414 AD.  Chandragupta is also known as Vikramaditya, Narendrachandra, Simhachandra, Narendra Simha, Vikrama Devaraja, Devagupta and Devasri.  He was selected by his father as a successor to the throne.  He had two wives, with Kuveranga of Naga family - he was blessed with a daughter Prabhadevi.  Prabhadevi was later married to the Vakataka king Rudrasena-II.  Prabhadevi was the de facto ruler of Vakataka kingdom between 390 and 414 AD.  The geographical location of the Vakataka kingdom allowed Chandragupta to take an opportunity to crush Western Kshatraps once for all.

The greatest of his military achievements was his advance to the Arabian sea and the subjugation of the peninsula of Saurashtra (Kathiawar).  The annexation of Saurashtra and Malwa brought him huge wealth and soon made him to open up trade through sea ports.  It is believed that Pataliputra continued to be the capital of his huge empire.

Chandragupta-II was a strong and well qualified ruler.  He was a staunch Vaishnava and was tolerant to other sects too.  According to the Chinese visitor of the time -  Fahien, the city of Gaya was completely empty and desolate, the holy places of Bodhgaya was surrounded by jungle.  Kapilavastu and Kusinagara were waste except for Ashoka's palace near Sanchi stupa which was still in existence.  This shows that the Hinduism was predominant during Gupta rule.

Kumaragupta (415 - 455 AD)

Like his father, Kumaragupta-I ruled for forty years.  He had two sons, Purugupta (son of Anantadevi) and Skandagupta(son of Devaki??).  Kumaragupta-I was known by several names such as Shri Mahendra, Ajita mahendra, Sima Mahendra, Asvamedha Mahendra, Mahendra Karma, Mahendra Kalpa, Shri Mahendra Simha, Mahendra kumar, Mahendra Aditya etc., It is stated that he ruled the whole earth bounded on the north by Sumeru and Kailasa mountains, the Vindhya forests on the south and two oceans on the east and west.  People worshipped different Gods and Goddesses and the religion tolerance was seen stronger.  His administration and personality kept the entire kingdom intact and integrated for forty years.  The repulsion of Hunas immediate after his death proves the integrity of his subjects.

Skandagupta (455 - 467 AD)

Succession after Kumaragupta is a matter of uncertainty.  Different theories propose different lines of thoughts on succession by Skandagupta, Purugupta, Budhagupta an Kumaragupta-II.  Bhitari pillar inscription mentions most about Skandagupta and the Huna wars.  The Kahaum pillar inscription boasts on Skanda's achievements.  He is stated to have slain hundreds of kings and equated to Indra.  At zenith of his power, he ruled entire northern Indian from Kathiawar in the west to Bengal in the east, the empire included Saurashtra, Gujarat and Malwa too.

Skanda followed a policy of religion toleration.  He himself was a Bhagavatha, but did not interfere with the religion of his officers or subjects.

Puru Gupta (467 - 473 AD)

With the death of Skandagupta, Gupta empire began to decline.  His brother Purugupta appears to have been the immediate successor to Skanda gupta.  Purugupta was the son of Kumaragupta-I by his queen Ananthadevi and was old by the time he ascended the throne. A short rule of 6 years probably explains why so.

Narasimhagupta Baladitya (473 AD)

Nothing much is known on Baladitya, but it is certain that he was the son of Purugupta by the queen Shri Vinayadevi.

Kumaragupta-II ( 473 - 476 AD)

NArasimha Baladitya was succeeded by his sonKumaragupta-II Kramaditya.  The rule seems to have ended about the year 476 - 477 AD.  It is obvious that Kumaragupta-II, Narasimha Baladitya and Purugupta altogether could rule only for about ten years.

Budha Gupta (477 - 495 AD)

Budha Gupta ruled for nearly 20 years from 477 AD to 495 AD.  A large number of inscriptions refer to Budha Gupta.  From the inscriptions we understand that his empire was still intact.  According to the life of Hiuen Tsang, Budha Gupta was succeeded by Tathagata Gupta.


Probably Krishnagupta and Harshagupta succeeded Budhagupta in ruling the empire. Budhagupta and Harshagupta was succeeded by Jivitagupta-I.  Kumaragupta-III succeeded Jivitagupta-I, but soon had to facemany difficulties.  Mukharis became powerful, Gowdas started revolting in West Bengal, King of Andhras were another threat to him.   Somehow he claimed victories over them, the next successor Damodaragupta, Mahasenagupta, Madhavagupta and Devagupta-II reigned with much great difficulties.

All what we know about later Guptas is the name of rulers like Adityasena, Devagupta-III and the last king Jivagupta-III.  Gowdas destroyed the fame of Guptas.  Though many inscriptions talk about Guptas rule even during 12th to 13th century AD, it is true that only petty kings of Gupta family continued ruling part of the original empire that they could retain.

LAST UPDATED 1st Mar 2002
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