SALIENT FEATURES OF THE GUPTA AGE
Social Condition: People were rich and generous. In certain parts of the country, women of the upper classes took part in administration Women were given the choice of selecting their husbands through Swayamvara. At the same time they also suffered from, certain drawbacks. Their position was only subordinate. They had no equality. Family was the lowest unit of the society. The practice of Sati was rare. Slavery was known, but it was mild.
There are ample evidences to show that the country was prosperous People enjoyed a high standard of living. Agriculture and industry made considerable progress. The Guilds controlled the industries and Crafts. Trade flourished. Foreign trade was carried on with countries like China, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
The Gupta rulers patronized Hinduism. Hinduism re-emerged as the dominant religion of the State. Sanskrit became the Court language. Vishnu and Siva were worshipped as the main deities Temples were built for Sun God also. Importance was given to Bhakti and love of fellow beings. The ancient Epics and the Puranas were revived and read during this period. Though Hinduism received importance religious tolerance prevailed. But, the spread of Hinduism led to the decline of Buddhism under the Guptas.
Education received importance under the Guptas. Scholars and learned men were patronized by the Kings. Universities like Nalanda, Taxila, Ujjain, Saranath and Vikramasila were famous. Students from foreign countries came and studied in these places. They learnt Indian culture. The Gupta rulers encouraged learning and literature. The Nine Gems or the nine learned men adorned Chandragupta II court. The chief of them was Kalidasa. The most important of his classical works are Kumara Sambhava, Meghadhuta and Raghuvamsa. Among the dramas, mention may be made of Shakuntalam, Malavikagnimitram and Vikrama Oorvasiyam. It is because of his writings Kalidasa is compared to William Shakespeare (16th Century English Dramatist) and called as Indian Shakespeare. The famous physician Dhanvanthiri, the great astronomer Varahamihira and the great lexicographer (a person who compiles a dictionary) Amarasimha were among the Nine Gems. Shudraka wrote a play called Mrchhakatika. Vishakhadatta wrote the play Mudrarakshasa, Vishnu Sharma wrote Panchatantra Stories. The Eighteen Puranas were also written during the Gupta period.
Science and Technology
Aryabhatta was the famous astronomer and mathematician He proved that the Earth is round and it goes around the Sun. He also explained the causes for the Solar and the lunar eclipses. He wrote a book called Aryabhatiyam. In this book, he describes the principles of decimal system, place value, the use of zero, square and cube roots and the value of it is equal to 3.1416... Varahamihira a master of astronomy and astrology, authored the book Jyothishasastra. His another book Brihatsamhita deals with astronomy, astrology geography and architecture. Another scholar Brahmagupta explained the theory of gravitation even before Newton and composed Bra hma Siddhanta. The technology of metallurgy was well developed under the Guptas. The iron pillar found near Mehrauli in Delhi is a good example. Though it has been exposed to the inclement weather from the 4th century AD. it has not gathered rust so far. The huge Copper statue of Buddha from Sultanganj (now kept in British Museum) is another proof of the metallurgical skill of the Gupta period.
Contribution towards Medicine
In the field of medicine Nagarjuna discovered many new medicines. Inoculation for small pox was known. Dhanvantri was the most famous Ayur Veda physiciaft Charaka and Susruta were the famous physicians. Vagabhatta wrote some books on medicine.
Art and Architecture
The Guptas were great patrons of art and architecture sculpture and painting. The stone temple for Vishnu at Deogarh in Jhansi and the brick temple at Bithargaon in Kanpur and the Bhitari temple at Ghazipur are very famous. Beautiful images of Buddha were made at Saranath and Mathura. The world famous wall paintings of Ajanta and Ellora belong to the Gupta period. Music also developed considerably during the Gupta period.
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