What period is called Ancient India2
Calling the intervening period between the decline of the Kushanas and the ascendancy of the Guptas as Dark Age however is a point of keen debate. Many scholars still believe that the Kushana age was a prelude to Gupta imperialism and Gupta Renaissance. According to them there was no certain break of continuity between the Kushana traditions, which was handed down to the Guptas.
Later modern interpreters have pointed out that there was almost a gap of one and a half century between the Kushana Age and the Gupta era. Kushana Empire was completely disintegrated before the ascendancy of the Guptas. According to historians there was no glorious history of the period and the period can be truly called the "Dark Age".
With the breakdown of the Kushana administration, the Empire was disintegrated into several small provincial independent states. According to historians, the disintegration of the Kushana Empire started from the eastern part of their territory. The entire eastern dominion was crumbled into several monarchic states, where the provincial governors established independent states of their own.
In the Gangetic Valley the earliest power to detach itself from the Kushana yoke and to establish an independent ruling line in Kausambhi were the Maghas. The Maghas rose in power about 130 A.D., under the leadership of Maharaja Bhimasena. He carved out a vast and strong kingdom in Kausambhi of Uttar Pradesh and was succeeded by his son Kautsiputra Pothasiri.
The next important ruler of the Magha lineage was Bhadra Magha. He also extended his sway beyond the region of Kausambhi.The last Magha ruler of Kausambhi was Rudra, who appears to be Rudradeva of the Allahabad Pillar inscription, and was later defeated by Samudragupta.
In third century A.D., the Ayodhya region of eastern U.P. was occupied by a group of rulers, whose names ended with the titles "Mitra". The names like Satya Mitra, Ayu Mitra, Sangha Mitra, and Vijay Mitra etc. were prevalent among these tribes. The "Mitra" tribes wrested power from one of the Kushana successors and established their own supremacy.
But according to Dr. S.Chattopadhya, this region was ruled by the Saka-Murandas, who extended their sway upto Magadha. The theory of Dr. Chattopadhya was also corroborated by the Puranas. According to the Puranas, a Saka ruler named Visvaphani ruled Magadha before the ascendancy of the Guptas.
While the Gangetic valley was under the authority of the "Mitra" rulers or the Saka Murandas, the Yamuna valley passed under the rule of the Naga kings. The Nagas were the serpent worshipping, non-Aryan tribes in ancient India. Overthrowing the Kushanas from the regions of Mathura and Vidisha, they acquired immense power and prestige in those regions.
After the fall of the Kushanas, the Nagas formed a formidable Empire of their own in Northern India. According to Puranas, Vidisha, Kantipuri, Mathura and Padmavati formed the four important strongholds of the Naga Power. The Puranas stated that, when the Guptas were rising to power, there were seven Naga kings ruling in Mathura and nine Naga kings in Padmavati. Though the names of those Naga kings have not yet been discovered, from epigraphic and the literary evidences it is clear that the Nagas held their sway over a considerable portion of Northern India.
Among the Naga rulers only the name of Bhavanaga of Padmavati is mentioned in the Vakataka records. It is generally believed that the daughter of Bhavanaga, the Naga princess was married to the Vakataka prince. Bhavanaga was a powerful king who had performed ten horse sacrifices and extended his conquests upto the Ganges. Bhavanaga was a worshipper of Lord Shiva and his family came to be known as the Bharasivas.
It has been pointed out by historians that the successors of king Bhavanaga had extended their authority upto Mathura from the Padmavati region. Bhavanaga was probably succeeded by Nagasena and later by Ganapatinaga. The Allahabad Prasasti of Samudragupta stated that Samudragupta had uprooted two Naga kings-- Nagasena and Ganapatinaga, who have been identified as the successors of Bhavanaga by historians. Furthermore the coins of Ganapatinaga were found in Padmavati.