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.
During the Gupta period there was peace and harmony in the society. The society was however rigid. During this period, many castes and sub- castes evolved. 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, Kshatriya’s and Sudras.
The Brahmans carried out activities like trade, architecture, service, etc. The Gupta rulers were Vaishayas. The Kshatriya’s practiced industrial vocation. Sudras were engaged in activities like trade and agriculture. People lived in joint families and the society was primarily male dominating. There was over- all prosperity and development in the Gupta society. The women were given secondary position in the Gupta Empire society.
Widow re- marriage was permitted at times. The incidences of sati were rare but they took place during the Gupta period. The practice of untouchability had become a regular phenomenon during this period.
Education played an important role in the Gupta period. There were many educational institutions and universities set- up to enable people to study. Cities like Pataliputra, Ayodhya were significant educational centers of those times. Nalanda and Takshila were two popular universities which attracted students from foreign countries.
Even women 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.
Agricultural festivals were celebrated by the people along with other festivals. These festivals were often associated with religious beliefs of the society. Gods and goddesses like Vishnu, Shiva, Lakshmi, Parvati and Durga were worshipped and formed an important part of the Gupta era religion.
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 of the Gupta empire like ivory work, stone cutting and carving of stones like jasper, agate, quartz, carnelian, lapis- lazuli, etc; metal work of precious metals like gold, silver, copper, iron, bronze, lead, etc. Pearl industry was also very popular. However, the most important industry was pottery. The Gupta society flourished under the Gupta rulers.