Gupta Empire- Society, Religion, Literature Notes for UPSC Exam

1. Chandalas and Social Distinctions:

  • Fa-Hien, the Chinese traveler, observed Chandalas living outside villages, maintaining distance from upper castes.
  • Chandalas had to announce their arrival to avoid contact and prevent pollution, reflecting hierarchical social norms.

2. Untouchability and Water Contamination:

  • Acharakkovai mentioned untouchables, known as Pulaiya, making water unfit for higher castes.
  • The text highlighted the rigid caste-based social structure during the Gupta period.

3. Foreigners and Sub-Castes:

  • Gupta Empire assigned sub-castes to assimilated foreigners, showcasing flexibility in incorporating newcomers.
  • Foreign ruling families of the pre-Gupta period received semi-Kshatriya status.

4. Assimilation of Tribal Communities:

  • Gupta Empire expanded Brahminical culture, assimilating tribal communities into the social structure.
  • Tribal leaders became Kshatriyas, while ordinary tribals were granted Shudra status.

5. Social and Economic Status of Shudras:

  • Gupta period marked an improvement in the social and economic status of Shudras.
  • Shudras were allowed to listen to epics and perform certain rituals, indicating increased social acceptance.

6. Worship of Shudras during Gupta Period:

  • Shudras in the Gupta period were allowed to worship the deity Krishna.
  • This demonstrated the expansion of religious practices and the inclusion of new deities.

7. Narada Smriti on Slavery:

  • Narada Smriti mentioned fifteen types of slaves, discussing their roles as domestic servants.
  • Insights into the institution of slavery during the Gupta era.

8. Emergence of Tantrism:

  • Tantrism emerged during the Gupta period due to assimilation of tribal elements and blending Brahminical religion with tribal practices.
  • Signified the development of Tantrism as a distinct religious and philosophical tradition.

9. Compilation of Ramayana and Mahabharata:

  • Gupta period saw the compilation of the Ramayana and Mahabharata in the 4th century CE.
  • These epics played a pivotal role in shaping Indian culture and mythology.

10. Sanskrit as Language of Royal Inscriptions:

  • During Gupta period, Sanskrit became the language of royal inscriptions.
  • Consolidation of Brahmanical ideology and popularity of temple-based sectarian cults.

11. Gupta Kings as Bhagavatas:

  • Gupta kings proclaimed themselves as Bhagavatas, emphasizing devotion to the deity Bhagavat (Vishnu).
  • The emblem of Bhagavata was Garuda, symbolizing their spiritual alignment.

12. Emergence of Composite Deities:

  • Gupta period witnessed the emergence of composite deities like Hari-Hara, combining aspects of Vishnu and Shiva.
  • Reflects religious syncretism during the Gupta era.

13. Nalanda as Center of Education:

  • During the Gupta period, Nalanda became a renowned center of education, especially for Mahayana Buddhism.
  • Attracted students from various countries, significant for learning and religious scholarship.

14. Puranas Written During Gupta Period:

  • Major Puranas like Vishnu Purana, Vayu Purana, and Matsya Purana were written during the Gupta period.
  • Contributions to preserving religious and mythological narratives.

15. Works Attributed to Kalidasa:

  • Kalidasa’s notable works include Meghaduta, Abhijyanashakuntalam, Kumarasambhavam, and Raghuvamsha.
  • Mrichchhkatikam was composed by Shudraka.

16. Authorship of Mudrarakshasa and Devichandraguptam:

  • Vishakhadatta authored Mudrarakshasa and Devichandraguptam.
  • Mudrarakshasa portrays political intrigues during Chandragupta Maurya’s reign.

17. Authorship of Panchatantra:

  • Vishnusharman is the author of the Panchatantra, a collection of ancient Indian fables.
  • Offers moral guidance through engaging animal stories.

18. Kalidasa’s Ritusamhara:

  • Kalidasa’s Ritusamhara beautifully describes the cycle of seasons.
  • Illustrates the poet’s mastery of diverse themes.

19. Writer of Kiratarjuniya in the 6th Century:

  • Bharavi, a 6th-century poet, wrote Kiratarjuniya, depicting the combat between Arjuna and Lord Shiva.

20. Dandin’s Contributions:

  • Dandin, during the Gupta period, wrote Kavyadarshana (treatise on poetics) and Dasakumaracharita (prose romance).
  • Significant contributions to literature and grammar.

21. Author of Amarakosha:

  • Amarshimha authored the Sanskrit lexicon Amarakosha.
  • An important reference for understanding the meaning and usage of Sanskrit words.

22. Kalidasa’s Impact on European Languages:

  • Kalidasa’s works, translated into many European languages, made him a celebrated classical Sanskrit poet.
  • Meghaduta, Abhijyanashakuntalam, Kumarasambhavam, and Raghuvamsha are renowned for their literary brilliance.

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