The Gupta Empire was named after the Gupta dynasty which ruled approximately between 320- 550 CE. The Gupta dynasty period is regarded as the Golden Age of India. The facts of the Gupta Empire consist of the administrative system, economy, scientific and technological development, social life of the people, education, etc.
The administrative system during the Gupta period was similar to that of the Mauryan Empire. The King was that highest authority and possessed wide powers to enable the smooth functioning of the empire. During the Gupta period, the empire was classified into separate administrative divisions like Rajya, Rashtra, Desha, Mandala, etc., and a Vishayapati was appointed to control it. Thus importance was given to decentralization of power.
During the Gupta dynasty period, the charge of managing the welfare of the villages was upon the rural bodies. These rural bodies comprised of the headman of the village and the elders. The Gupta Empire had a separate judicial system. At the lowest level of the judicial system was the village assembly or trade guild.
The King presided over the highest court of appeal. In discharging his duty, the King was assisted by judges, ministers, priests, etc. The decision or the judgement of the court was based on the legal texts, the social customs prevailing during those times, or upon the decision of the King.
During the Gupta period agriculture formed a significant part of the empire’s economy. The trade and commerce activities of the Gupta Empire grew steadily. The merchant and other traders were organized into guilds. These guilds were given concessions in the taxes that were liable to be paid to the government.
The guilds played a chief role in the goods industry and also helped in strengthening the economy of the empire. There was industrial development during the Gupta period. The textile industry was an essential industry of this empire. Some of the major items of produce included silk, muslin, calico, linen, wool and cotton. These goods were also exported. There were other flourishing industries like ivory work, stone cutting and carving of stones, metal work of precious metals like gold, silver, copper, iron, bronze and lead.
Pearl industry was also very popular. The most important industry was pottery. The Gupta rulers issued large number of gold coins. These gold coins were known as dinaras. The Gupta rulers also issued silver coins. During the reign of the Gupta dynasty, lead and rare copper coins were also issued. Gupta Empire carried out trade with China, Ceylon and other European countries.
The Gupta rulers gave a lot of importance to education. Cities like Pataliputra, Nasik, and Ayodhya were popular centers for education. The two famous universities during this time were Nalanda and Takshila. Nalanda was established by Kumaragupta I in the 5th century. It was the only university which provided hostels for students to stay. Both the universities were offered high standards of education. These universities also admitted students from foreign countries.
4) Gupta Era Society-
During the Gupta period there was peace and harmony in the society. The social ranking or caste of a person was decided by the trade or profession of that person. The society was classified in four castes namely, Brahmans, Vaishayas, Kshtriya’s and Sudras. The Brahmans carried out activities like trade, architecture, service, etc. The Gupta rulers were Vaishayas. The Kshtriya’s practiced industrial vocation. Sudras were engaged in trade and agriculture. People lived in joint families and the society was male dominating.
There was over- all prosperity and development in the Gupta era society. The women were given secondary position. They were allowed to obtain education. The food consumed by the Gupta people was very simple. It is believed that they were strictly vegetarian and excluded onions, garlic, potatoes and wine from their diet. Entertainment during those days included dances, musical concerts, gambling, animal fights, etc. The religion followed during the Gupta period was Hinduism and Buddhism.
5) Science and Technological Development-
One of the major developments achieved in the scientific field was the progress in metallurgy. Another important discovery was the invention of modern system of numbers. There was advancement in the mathematics and astronomy as well. The chief exponent of the development was Aryabhatta.
He calculated the value of pi and invented a formula to calculate the precise area of a triangle. Aryabhatta also proved that the earth revolves around its own axis. He even found out the reasons for solar and lunar eclipse. He even calculated that it takes around 365 days for the earth to complete one revolution around the sun.