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Digvijayee Chakravarti Samrat: Samudra Gupta
Samudragupta the Great, ruler of the Gupta Empire (c.AD 335 – 380), and successor to Chandragupta I, is considered to be one of the greatest military geniuses in Indian history. His name is taken to be a title acquired by his conquests (Samudra referring to the ‘oceans’). Samudragupta the Great is believed to have been his father’s chosen successor even though he had several older brothers. Therefore, some believe that after the death of Chandragupta I, there was a struggle for succession in which Samudragupta prevailed into.
Much is known about Samudragupta the Great through coins issued by him. These were of eight different types and all made of pure gold. His conquests brought him the gold and also the coin-making expertise from his acquaintance with the Kushana. Samudragupta is also known to have been a man of culture. He was a patron of learning, a celebrated poet and a musician. Several coins depict him playing on the Indian lyre or Veena. He gathered a galaxy of poets and scholars and took effective actions to foster and propagate religious, artistic and literary aspects of Indian culture. Though he favoured the Hindu religion like the other Gupta kings, he was reputed to possess a tolerant spirit vis-à-vis other religions. A clear illustration of this is the permission granted by him to the king of Ceylon to build a monastery for Buddhist pilgrims in Bodh Gaya.
He conquered the whole of Bengal, some Kingdoms in Nepal and he made Assam pay him tribute. He absorbed some Tribal states like the Malvas, the Yaudheyas, the Arjunayanas, the Abhiras and the Maduras. The later Kushanas and the Sakas paid him tribute.
Towards south, along the coast of Bay of Bengal he proceeded with great vigor and defeated Pithapuram’s Mahendragiri, Kanchi’s Vishnugupta, Mantaraja of Kurala, Mahendra of Khosla and many more till he reached the river Krishna.
Samudragupta extended his Kingdom in the west over Khandesh and Palaghat. However he preferred to maintain friendly terms with Vatakata in Central India. He performed Aashvamadha Yajna (Horse Sacrifice) after winning every big battle.
Samudragupta’s territories extended from the Himalayas in the north to the river Narbada in the south and from the Brahamaputra River in the east to the Yamuna River in the west. His greatest achievement can be described as the political unification of most of the India or Aryavarta into a formidable power. He assumed the title of Maharajadhiraja (The King of the Kings).