new empires
Source: NCERT
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About Samudragupta

  • We know about Samudragupta, the famous ruler of the Gupta dynasty, from a long inscription inscribed on the Ashokan pillar at Allahabad.
  • It was a poem in Sanskrit, composed by his court poet, Harishena 1700 years ago.
  • This inscription is of a special kind, known as a prashasti, a Sanskrit word for ‘in praise of’.
  • Harishena describes four different kinds of rulers, and tells us about Samudragupta’s policies towards them.
  • There were nine rulers of Aryavarta who were uprooted and their kingdoms were made a part of Samudragupta’s empire.
  • The twelve rulers of Dakshinpatha surrendered to Samudragupta after being defeated and he then allowed them to rule again.
  • Most prashastis also mention the ancestors of the ruler.
  • Samudragupta’s mother Kumara Devi belonged to the Lichchhavi gana, and his father Chandragupta was the first ruler of the Gupta dynasty to adopt the grand title of maharaj-adhiraja.
  • The court of his son Chandragupta II had Kalidasa the poet and Aryabhata the astronomer.

Also Read: Class 6 Ch 10 History- traders, kings & pilgrims

 About Harshavardhana
  • We know about Harshavardhana, who ruled 1400 years ago, from his biography Harshacharita, written in Sanskrit by his court poet Banabhatta.
  • Xuan Zang spent a lot of time at Harsha’s court and left a detailed account of what he saw.
  • Harsha was not the eldest son of his father but became king of Thanesar after both his father and elder brother died.
  • His brother-in-law was the ruler of Kannauj and he was killed by the ruler of Bengal.
  • Harsha took over the kingdom of Kannauj and then led an army against the ruler of Bengal.
  • Although he was successful in the east and conquered both Magadha and Bengal, he was not as successful elsewhere.
  • He tried to enter Deccan but was stopped by Pulakeshin II of the Chalukya dynasty.

Pallavas

  • They were one of the most important ruling dynasties in south India.
  • Their kingdom spread from the region around their capital, Kanchipuram, to the Kaveri delta.

Chalukyas

  • They were also one of the most important ruling dynasties in south India.
  • Their kingdom was centred around the Raichur doab, between the rivers Krishna and Tungabhadra.
  • Their capital, Aihole, was an important trading centre and also developed as a religious centre with a number of temples.
  • The Pallavas and the Chalukyas frequently raided one another’s land, especially attacking the capital cities, which were prosperous towns.
  • Pulakeshin II was the best known Chalukya ruler.
  • His prashasti was composed by his court poet Ravikirti.
  • Ultimately both the Pallavas and the Chalukyas gave way to new rulers belonging to the Rashtrakuta and Chola dynasties.

How were these kingdoms administered?

  • As in the case of earlier kings, land revenue remained important for these rulers.
  • The village remained the basic unit of administration.
  • There were some new developments as well:
  1. Some important administrative posts were now hereditary. For example, the poet Harishena was a maha-danda-nayaka, or chief judicial officer, like his father.
  2. Sometimes, one person held many offices. For example, Harishena was also a kumar-amatya, meaning an important minister, and a sandhi-vigrahika, meaning a minister of war and peace.
  3. Besides, important men probably had a say in local administration. These included the nagara-shreshthi or chief banker or merchant of the city, the sarthavaha or leader of the merchant caravans, the prathama-kulika or the chief craftsman, and the head of the kayasthas or scribes.

A new kind of army

  • Like earlier rulers, some of these kings maintained a well organised army.
  • Besides, there were military leaders who provided the king with troops whenever needed.
  • They were not paid regular salaries. Instead some of them received grants of land.
  • They collected revenue from the land and used this to maintain soldiers and horses, and provide equipment for warfare.
  • These men were known as samantas, who tried to become independent whenever the ruler was weak.

Assemblies in the southern kingdoms

  • Sabha was a local assembly of brahmin land owners.
  • The ur was a village assembly found in areas where the land owners were not brahmins.
  • The nagaram was an organization of merchants.

Ordinary people in the kingdoms

  • Kings and most brahmins spoke sanskrit.
  • Ordinary people spoke prakrit.

Abhijnana Shakuntalam written by Kalidasa is a love story between a king named Dushyanta and a young woman named Shakuntala.

 

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