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Sources of Gupta Rule

The Kamandaka Nitisara was written in the time of Chandragupta II by Sikhara, Prime Minister of Chandragupta II. It is equivalent to Kautilya' s Arthasashtra. It gives us idea of polity and administration of the Guptas. The Devichandraguptam is a political drama attributed to Vishakhadatta, author of Mudrarakshas. It tells us about Ramagupta's defeat by a Saka ruler, murder of the Saka ruler as well as of Ramagupta by Chandragupta II, his accession to the throne and his marriage to Dhruvadevi. The Mudrarakshas of Vishakhdatta is another useful source. It gives an account of establishment of the Mauryan dynasty by Chandragupta Maurya and Kautilya. It throws light on the religion of the king and the religious condition of the people in the Gupta period. The Kaumudi Mahotsava is a drama of five Acts. It gives political condition of Magadha of that time and also throws considerable light on the origin and the rise of Gupta dynasty. It has enabled scholars to solve many riddles of the early Gupta history. Puranas occupy a very important place as a religious source. They are 18 in number but only the Vayu Purana, Brahmanda Purana, Matysa Purana, Vishnu Purana and Bhagvat Puranas give a full account of the Gupta empire, its various provinces and their boundaries. The Dharmashastras also give us a lot of useful information of the Gupta period. Inscriptions are also helpful in writing the history of the Gupta period.

They can be divided into two groups. Firstly those incised by private individuals and secondly those engraved on behalf of the ruling king. The private records mentioned the donations in favour of religious establishments or installation of images for worship. The official records are either in the nature of Prasastis or charters recording land grants known as tamra sasanas. The Prasastis and the tamrasasanas usually provide us information on the genealogy of the kings mentioned in them. A large number of seals have been found from Vaisali in the Muzzaffarpur district. They give an insight into the provincial and local administration. A lot of useful information for the history of Guptas is found in the coins of the Gupta Emperor. The legends on the coins possess great poetic merit. The fabric and style of a coin helps to form an idea of the political conditions determining the sequence of events and ideas. Both gold and silver coins were issued by these rulers.