Chandragupta builds an empire
In 319 AD, King Chandragupta I managed to conquer all of northern India. He built northern India into a great empire again. (He was not related to the Mauryan Chandragupta. But he wanted people to think he was). Chandragupta I even conquered some of South India.
People called Chandragupta the “King of Kings”. That was what they called the Iranian emperors further north.
Chandragupta was not Buddhist but Hindu. He followed the older Indian religion. But he let other people worship however they wanted. That was different from Rome at this time. Many Jains moved from eastern India to western India, across the Guptan Empire, at this time.
Samudragupta conquers even more
Chandragupta died about 335 AD. His son Samudragupta conquered even more of India. He even conquered part of Southeast Asia and Central Asia. Every year, Samudragupta led his troops out to conquer more land. He may have forced the rich Sogdians to pay taxes to India. (They lived in what is now Afghanistan, north of India.) Like the Roman emperor Constantine a few years earlier, Samudragupta minted beautiful solid gold coins.
India’s economy under the Guptan Empire
Under the Guptan kings, India was very rich and powerful. Peace allowed traders to travel safely. Every year, there was more trade between India and China. A lot of the trade went by boat around India to Indonesia and from there to China. Other traders took caravans of camels north through Sogdiana in Central Asia. Traders also went west across the Indian Ocean to East Africa.
Guptan India’s new inventions
This travel may have helped Indian mathematicians to make important advances in math at this time, like the number zero. Indian people also invented many other things under the Guptan Empire. Mathematicians invented the game of parcheesi. Indian scientists figured out how to make sugar cane into pure crystalized sugar about 350 AD. So Indian traders started to sell sugar in China. In return, Chinese travelers brought an early version of the game of chess to India.
Chandragupta II makes India richer
When Samudragupta died about 380 AD, his son Chandragupta II took over. He was even more successful than his father and grandfather. India became very rich. There were good roads, hospitals for sick people, and universities.
Guptan kings liked to use marriages to rulers in other kingdoms as a way to get more power too. Chandragupta II’s daughter Prabhavati married a neighboring Indian king, Rudra Sena II. When Rudra Sena died, Prabhabati ruled as regent for their sons.
Kumaragupta and the Huns