Maximum Extent of Gupta Empire

Aug 2014
1,009
Canada
For once, the wikipedia map is more or less correct. The other map is completely bogus. For instance, even Samudragupta never conquered the Western Gangas based in Karnatak-Maharashtra.
 

civfanatic

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
3,318
Des Moines, Iowa
Both maps are wrong. There is no evidence whatsoever of any Gupta rule over the eastern seaboard of South India, as shown in the first map. The inclusion of this territory is based on a single inscription of Samudragupta from Allahabad, where he claims to have attacked and defeated some local kingdoms like the Salankayanas of Vengi and the Pallavas of Kanchi. However, this southern campaign is not corroborated by any other source, and the long-term effects of this invasion (if any) are not known. We do not have a single inscription or record from South India that even makes any reference to the Guptas, let alone one that attests to Gupta rule. South of the Vindhyas, the only dynasty that is recorded to have had any relations with the Guptas are the Vakatakas.


Below is a much more realistic map of the Gupta territory:

 
Aug 2014
1,009
Canada
Both maps are wrong. There is no evidence whatsoever of any Gupta rule over the eastern seaboard of South India, as shown in the first map. The inclusion of this territory is based on a single inscription of Samudragupta from Allahabad, where he claims to have attacked and defeated some local kingdoms like the Salankayanas of Vengi and the Pallavas of Kanchi. However, this southern campaign is not corroborated by any other source, and the long-term effects of this invasion (if any) are not known. We do not have a single inscription or record from South India that even makes any reference to the Guptas, let alone one that attests to Gupta rule. South of the Vindhyas, the only dynasty that is recorded to have had any relations with the Guptas are the Vakatakas.


Below is a much more realistic map of the Gupta territory:


In addition to the source you mentioned, the extent of Gupta hegemony can be inferred by the political turmoil in S. India in roughly 350 AD coinciding with Samudragupta's expeditions. Gangas and even smaller feudatories were able to break away from the Pallava empire and found independent kingdoms precisely because of the space afforded them due to the defeat handed to the Pallavas by Samudragupta.

But I agree direct Gupta rule likely did not extend to Kanchi. As per the Indian tradition of Chakravartin, it was only required of other kings to accept their status of vassals to the emperor and pay tribute.
 
May 2012
632
Western India
Both maps are wrong. There is no evidence whatsoever of any Gupta rule over the eastern seaboard of South India, as shown in the first map. The inclusion of this territory is based on a single inscription of Samudragupta from Allahabad, where he claims to have attacked and defeated some local kingdoms like the Salankayanas of Vengi and the Pallavas of Kanchi. However, this southern campaign is not corroborated by any other source, and the long-term effects of this invasion (if any) are not known. We do not have a single inscription or record from South India that even makes any reference to the Guptas, let alone one that attests to Gupta rule. South of the Vindhyas, the only dynasty that is recorded to have had any relations with the Guptas are the Vakatakas.


Below is a much more realistic map of the Gupta territory:

There is nothing realistic about this map. We know very little about the history of India in the Gupta period and we know even less about the extent of their political dominion.

The only literature with sheds some light on it in detail is the Allahabad inscription of Samudragupta. The inscription is therefore of immense value. There is absolutely no evidence that Samudragupta is making tall claims in it. Therefore to doubt its claims because "we have no corroborative evidence" is just utter nonsense. When we know so little of ancient Indian history, is it so earth-shattering that we have no corroborative evidence ? And ancient Indian history is filled with instances where certain aspects of our history are only known from solitary inscriptions. It is ludicrous, therefore, to disbelieve them when evidence, contradicting or supporting, is so hard to come by.

Can the Einsteins explain this ? All the border regions shown in the above map are inhabited by small kingdoms. Is it so difficult to accept that the Guptas might have subdued them or that they would have voluntarily accepted vassalage ?

Right from Chandragupta I to Skandagupta, who is referred in one of his inscriptions as ruling over a hundred kings, the Guptas were a pre-dominant force in India. Unless it can be proved without a shadow of doubt, and not assumptions or inferences, that there were powerful kingdoms that withstood the power of the Guptas, it is mere prejudice to disbelieve in the inscriptions.

Unfortunately, some people want to keep holding onto the colonial presumption that in pre-colonial India, there was very little political unity. With very little research being done into ancient Indian history, the vast lacunaes of knowledge serves these people just right since it gives them the liberty to indulge in their fantasies.

There is something seriously wrong with the mindset of some Indians. It seems they just cannot get over their self-loathing. Everything foreign seems alluring, superior and great to them while everything Indian is pathetic, inferior and woeful. It seems they will not able to sleep sound if God forbid, something good about ancient India was discovered or claimed.

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Samudragupta claimed that the king of Simhala was his vassal. Why would be do so, if he had not subdued the kingdoms on the Eastern side of the Peninsula ? Why would he lie or make false claims ? Unless we find something contrary that contradicts his claim, I would much rather go with the claims of Samudragupta. It is after all, very rare in all history, when an emperor, goes in such great detail to name all the kingdoms and peoples under his subjugation.
 
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civfanatic

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
3,318
Des Moines, Iowa
Samudragupta claimed that the king of Simhala was his vassal. Why would be do so, if he had not subdued the kingdoms on the Eastern side of the Peninsula ? Why would he lie or make false claims ? Unless we find something contrary that contradicts his claim, I would much rather go with the claims of Samudragupta. It is after all, very rare in all history, when an emperor, goes in such great detail to name all the kingdoms and peoples under his subjugation.
Why did the Rashtrakutas claim that Magadha and Anga were under their hegemony, when we know for a fact that these regions were ruled independently by the powerful Palas? Why did the Greeks claim that they fought off a horde of 2.5 million Persians led by Xerxes (that too in great detail), when this is clearly exaggerated nonsense? Why did Constantine XI call himself "Emperor of the Romans" as late as 1453, even when his "empire" was little more than a city-state? Why did the "Holy Roman Empire" call itself that, when it was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire? Why did the Velanati Chodas use the title "chakravartin", which was supposed to indicate a great world-ruler, when they were merely regional kings ruling over a part of Andhra? Why did even weaker, even more petty local kings of Southeast Asia use the same title?

The answers to these varied questions are pretty much the same. Human beings like to exaggerate, and they do it all the time. The task of the historian is to sift through the myriad wild claims and ascertain historical truth through corroboration with other sources. Your inability to think critically about even basic things like this, is one of the reasons why your pet "theories" will forever be disregarded by those who have done their research.
 
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civfanatic

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
3,318
Des Moines, Iowa
Oh, and I forgot to mention an important point before. Lines 19-20 of the Allahabad inscription say that Samudragupta "captured", but then liberated, all the South Indian kings like Vishnugopa of Kanchi, Hastivarman of Vengi, and Mantaraja of Kerala. So even according to this solitary source, the Gupta invasion did not have any long-term political effects, because all the "captured" kings were reinstated onto their respective thrones. Even if you believe this inscription to be gospel truth, you cannot assert that the Guptas exercised direct political control over South India, since even their own claims run against that.
 
Aug 2014
1,009
Canada
Oh, and I forgot to mention an important point before. Lines 19-20 of the Allahabad inscription say that Samudragupta "captured", but then liberated, all the South Indian kings like Vishnugopa of Kanchi, Hastivarman of Vengi, and Mantaraja of Kerala. So even according to this solitary source, the Gupta invasion did not have any long-term political effects, because all the "captured" kings were reinstated onto their respective thrones. Even if you believe this inscription to be gospel truth, you cannot assert that the Guptas exercised direct political control over South India, since even their own claims run against that.
Very wrong. The Gupta victories did have a long-term effect, namely the weakening of Pallava Rule that made it possible for smaller feudatories to declare their independence. I seriously doubt the Kannada and Tulu speaking peoples in erstwhile Mysore state would have been able to grow and develop into a culture distinct from Tamil culture if not for Samudragupta's victories. The oldest records of Kannada date back to the early Gupta age - my own reading is that Kannada likely precipitated out as a language as opposed to another Dravidian dialect right around the time we're discussing.
 

civfanatic

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
3,318
Des Moines, Iowa
Very wrong. The Gupta victories did have a long-term effect, namely the weakening of Pallava Rule that made it possible for smaller feudatories to declare their independence. I seriously doubt the Kannada and Tulu speaking peoples in erstwhile Mysore state would have been able to grow and develop into a culture distinct from Tamil culture if not for Samudragupta's victories. The oldest records of Kannada date back to the early Gupta age - my own reading is that Kannada likely precipitated out as a language as opposed to another Dravidian dialect right around the time we're discussing.
Show me any evidence whatsoever suggesting that independent dynasties of Karnataka like the Kadambas and the Western Gangas emerged as a result of the supposed Gupta invasion of South India. Actually, show me any evidence that the Pallava rule was weakened as a result of this Gupta "invasion". I want solid evidence, not mere speculation.
 
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Aug 2014
1,009
Canada
Show me any evidence whatsoever suggesting that independent dynasties of Karnataka like the Kadambas and the Western Gangas emerged as a result of the supposed Gupta invasion of South India. Actually, show me any evidence that the Pallava rule was weakened as a result of the this Gupta "invasion". I want solid evidence, not mere speculation.
The hard evidence we have is that Kadamba King Mayurasharma, in the stated account of his reign, took advantage of the confusion created by the Samudragupta's southern expedition and set himself up as an independent ruler. This is not me, but George Mark Moraes on page 71 of The Kadamba Kula: A History of Ancient and Mediaeval Karnataka. Indian historian Kamlesh Kapur says the same thing in his History of Ancient India.

There is no reason to believe that Mayurasharma would belittle his own exploits by acknowledging that he exploited the weakness of the Pallavas following Samudragupta's victory. The goodwill between the Kadambas and the Guptas is also seen in the subsequent matrimonial links established between the these kingdoms.

In addition, the Kadamba dynasty was born almost exactly at the time of Samudragupta's raids against the Pallavas (350 AD), and the Ganga dynasty too originated fairly close in time. To discount any relation of this contemporaneous political turmoil on the western frontier of the Pallava empire around 350 AD from the Pallava defeat at the hands of the Guptas defies reason. This is why what I have enunciated is the prevailing view of historians. Since your view is antithetical to that of mainstream historians, it is incumbent upon you to produce evidence to the contrary.

And when you respond, better have your sources in hand.