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Gold Coin of Chandragupta II

Gold Coin of Chandragupta II



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Chandragupta-II (Chandragupta Vikramaditya)

Chandragupta II, the great was son of Samudragupta and Datta Devi. Not much is known about the character but the corroborated facts about his life prove that he was a strong, vigorous ruler and was well qualified to govern and extend his empire.

Before Chandragupta II, his elder brother Ramagupta ascended the throne after death of Samudragupta. Through, not many details about Ramagupta are available the drama Devichandraguptam of Vishakhadatta gives an account that at Shringararupakam, Ramagupta was badly defeated by a Saka chieftain . To secure the people, he agreed to surrender his queen Druvadevi to the Sakas. Chandragupta II objected this and, Chandragupta-II in disguise of queen Druvadevi entered enemy’s camp and killed the Saka king to restore the huge empire, queen and the dynasty. Ramagupta is portrayed in this drama as a Coward king and impotent. Chandragupta II killed his brother and married to his widow, Druvadevi.

Chandragupta reign covered a wide territory whose northern limit was Vahlakas Country, Southern Limit was the Ocean, Western Limit was the Mouth of Indus and Eastern Limit was Vanga. Marraiage alliances and conquests were one of the ways of Chandragupta II to extend his power and kingdom. His daughter Prabhavati was married to a Vaktaka prince. The prince died in due course and his young son became the ruler but the virtual ruler was Prabhavati. This helped Chandragupta II to exercise indirect rule over the Vaktataka Kingdom also. The most important event of Chandragupta II’s reign was conquest of Sakas. He destroyed the Saka chieftain Rudrasena III and annexed his kingdom.

His victory over Malwa helped in prosperity of the Malwa region and Ujjain became a commercial hub. Some scholars call Ujjain his second capital. Chinese traveler Fa Hien had visited India during the time of Chandragupta II. Numerous scholars and artists adorned the court of Chandragupta.

Chandragupta II and Mahrauli Inscription

The Mahrauli Iron Pillar was originally placed on a hill near the Beas and was brought to Delhi by a King of Delhi the Gupta Empire by Radhakumud Mookerji . This pillar credits Chandragupta with the following:

  • Conquest of the Vanga Countries by his battling alone against the confederacy of the enemies united against him.
  • Conquest of Vahlakas in a fight that ran across seven mouths of Sindhu.
  • Spread his fame to southern seas.
  • Attained Ekadhirajjyam (United Kingdom) by prowess of his arms.
  • This pillar was established by Chandragupta as Vishnupada in the honor of Lord Vishnu.

Observations of Fa Hien’s visit during Vikramaditya reign

  • Pataliputra was considerably neglected by the warrior kings like Samudragupta and Vikramaditya, but it continued to be a magnificent and populous city though out the reign of Chandragupta II.Later Patliputra was reduced to reigns in the wake of the Hun invasions in the 6th century. However, Pataliputra was rebuilt and revived by Shershah Suri as today’s Patna.
  • The accounts of Fa Hien give a contemporary account of the administration of Chandragupta Vikramaditya. Fa Hien (337 – ca. 422 AD) was so much absorbed in his quest for Buddhist books, legends, and miracles that he could not mention the name of the mighty monarch in whose rule he lived for 6 years. The picture he depicted cannot solve all the queries of the historians of today yet, they give a vivid picture of the state of the country.
  • At Pataliputra, he saw and was impressed by Asoka’s palace so it is sure that Asoka’s palace was in existence even in the Gupta Era. He also describes about 1 stupa and 2 monasteries nearby , also ascribed to Asoka. He mentioned about 600-700 monks living there and learning their lectures from teachers from all quarters. He mentions that towns of Magadha were largest in the area of Gangetic Plains and he calls it central India. He mentions that there were a lot of charitable institutions, rest houses, and there was an excellent Free Hospital in the Capital which was endowed by benevolent citizens. The poor and helpless patients suffering from all kinds of illnesses were taken care of and doctors attended them and they were given food and medicine as per their wants.
  • This depiction proves the earliest foundation of Charity and this charity was first of its kind in the word which spoke of characters of the citizens of the Gupta Era. India’s is great as far as Charity was concerned and as we are told, earliest charitable hospital in Europe or anywhere else in the word was opened in 10th century.
  • Fa Hien further explains that the population of the western part (Malwa) lived happily and did not worry. He mentions that they don’t have to register their household and not to have attend any magistrate. People did not lock their houses. The passports and those who were willing to say may stay and those willing to go may go did not bind them. Fa Hien further mentions that no one kills the living things, or drinks wine or eats Onion or garlic. They don’t keep pigs and fowls, there is no dealing of cattle, and there are no butchers. Only Chandals did all these.
  • Fa Hien mentions about the Chandala, who dwelt apart and they were required to keep a piece of wood as a warning of their approach so that other folk might not get polluted. Chandals were the only offenders of Dharma, as per Fa Hien. About administration, Fa Hien mentions that the authorities interfered as little as possible with the subject and they were left free to prosper and grow rich in their own way.

Fa Hien studied Sanskrit for 3 years at Pataliputra and two years at the Port of Tamralipti without let or hindrance. The Roads were clear and safe for the passengers. The accounts of Fa Hien give a clear indication that India was probably never governed better than the era of Chandragupta Vikramaditya. The prosperity of the Indians and tranquility of the empire have been testified by the account of Fa-Hien and his unobstructed itinerary all around gives the details about the Golden Era of Mother India.

9 Gems (Navratnas) of Chandragupta Vikramaditya

Chandragupta II was known for his deep interest in art and culture and nine gems or Navratna adorned his court. The various fields of these 9 gems prove that Chandragupta gave patronage to arts and literature. Brief description about the nine Ratnas is as follows

Amarsimha

Amarsimha was a Sanskrit lexicographer and a poet and his Amarkosha is a vocabulary of Sanskrit roots, homonyms and synonyms. It is also called Trikanda as it has 3 parts viz. Kanda 1, Kanda 2 and Kanda 3. It has 10 thousand words in it.

Dhanvantri

Dhanvantri was a great Physician.

Harisena

Harisena is known to have composed the Prayag Prasasti or Allahabad Pillar Inscription. The title of this inscription of Kavya, but it has both prose and verse. The whole poem is in one sentence including first 8 stanzas of poetry and a long sentence and a concluding stanza. Harisena in his old age was in the court of Chandragupta and describes him as Noble, and asks him “You Protect all this earth”.

Kalidasa

Kalidasa is the immortal poet and playwright of India and a peerless genius whose works became famous worldwide in modern world. Translation of Kalidasa’s works in numerous Indian and Foreign Languages have spread his fame all of the word and now he ranks among the top poets of all times.

Rabindranath Tagore, not only propagated the works of Kalidasa but also expounded their meanings and philosophy that made him an immortal poet dramatists.

Kahapanaka

Kahapanka was an astrologer. Not many details about him are found.

Sanku

Sanku was in the field of Architecture.

Varahamihira

Varahamihira (died 587) lived in Ujjain and he wrote three important books: Panchasiddhantika, Brihat Samhita, and Brihat Jataka. The Panchasiddhantaka is a summary of five early astronomical systems including the Surya Siddhanta. Another system described by him, the Paitamaha Siddhanta, appears to have many similarities with the ancient Vedanga Jyotisha of Lagadha. Brihat Samhita is a compilataion of an assortment of topics that provides interesting details of the beliefs of those times. Brihat Jataka is a book on astrology which appears to be considerably influenced by Greek astrology.

Vararuchi

Vararuchi is the name of another gem of Chandragupta Vikramaditya who was a grammarian and Sanskrit scholar. Some historians have identified him with Katyayana. Vararuchi is said to be the author of Prakrit Prakasha, which is first Grammar of Prakrit Language.

Vetalbhatta

Vetalbhatta was a magician.

Kumaragupta –I (415-455 AD)

Chandragupta II was succeeded by his son Kumaragupta I or Mahedraditya. The period assigned to him is 415-455 AD and his reign spanned for a long period of 40 years. He was an able ruler and there is no doubt that his empire suffered no diminution but extended. Like his grandfather, he celebrated the horse sacrifice (Ashvamedha) as an assertion to his paramount supremacy. The records furnish that at the close of his reign, Kumaragupta’s dominion suffered severely from the invasion of Huna Hordes, all over North India. The invaders from South India also disturbed him. He issued coins with images of killing a lion. He also issued a coin which bear the picture of Kartikeya.

Skandagupta: (455-467 AD)

Kumaragupta–I was succeeded by Skandagupta. Skandagupta was the last powerful king of the Gupta Empire. He assumed the title of Vikramaditya, Devraj and Sakapan and subdued the invaders (Pushyamitras and Hunas) and brought back the peace and glory of his father. He faced invasion of White Huns, the central Asian tribes. He issued 4 types of Gold coins and 4 types of Silver coin. Bhitari Inscription details about the prowess of Skandagupta. After his death in 467 AD, the Gupta empire declined rapidly.


Chandragupta II

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Chandragupta II, also called Vikramaditya, powerful emperor (reigned c. 380–c. 415 ce ) of northern India. He was the son of Samudra Gupta and grandson of Chandragupta I. During his reign, art, architecture, and sculpture flourished, and the cultural development of ancient India reached its climax.

According to tradition, Chandragupta II achieved power by assassinating a weak elder brother. Inheriting a large empire, he continued the policy of his father, Samudra Gupta, by extending control over neighbouring territories. From 388 to 409 he subjugated Gujarat, the region north of Bombay (Mumbai), Saurastra (now Saurashtra), in western India, and Malwa, with its capital at Ujjain. These territories were ruled by Shaka chiefs, whose ancestors were Scythian tribes from the regions around Lake Balkhash (Balqash) in Kazakhstan. To strengthen his southern flank, he arranged a marriage between his daughter Prabhavati and Rudrasena II, king of the Vakatakas. When Rudrasena died, Prabhavati acted as regent for her sons, thereby increasing Gupta influence in the south. The emperor may also have made a matrimonial alliance with a dynasty in Mysore. He is almost certainly the King Chandra eulogized in the Sanskrit inscription on the iron pillar in the Qūwat al-Islām mosque in Delhi.

A strong and vigorous ruler, Chandragupta II was well qualified to govern an extensive empire. Some of his silver coins bear the title Vikramaditya (“Sun of Valour”), which suggests that he was the prototype for the king Vikramaditya of later Hindu tradition. Although the emperor generally resided at Ayodhya, which he made his capital, the city of Pataliputra (now Patna in Bihar) also achieved prosperity and grandeur. A benevolent king under whom India enjoyed peace and relative prosperity, he also patronized learning among the scholars at his court were the astronomer Varahamihira and the Sanskrit poet and dramatist Kalidasa. The Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Faxian, who spent six years (405–411) in India during Chandragupta II’s reign, spoke highly of the system of government, the means for dispensing charity and medicine (the emperor maintained free rest houses and hospitals), and the goodwill of the people. But he never visited the emperor or his court. Chandragupta II was a devout Hindu, but he also tolerated the Buddhist and Jain religions.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Erik Gregersen, Senior Editor.


Contents

Prehistoric and Bronze Age origins Edit

Cowry shells were first used in India as commodity money. [5] The Indus Valley Civilization may have used metals of fixed weights such as silver for trade activities which is evident from the DK area of Mohenjo Daro from the late Harappan period (dated 1900–1800 BC or 1750 BC). [6] [7] D.D Kosambi proposed a connection between Mohenjodaro class IV silver pieces and class D pieces with the Punch marked coins based on their remarkable similarity and identity between D-class weights. [8] The remarkable similarities between Punch marked coin symbols with those appearing in the Indus seals have also been highlighted. [9] Chalcolithic unmarked gold disc discovered from Eran have been dated to 1000 BC and due to their lack of ornamental use, it has been proposed that it was utilized as an object of money [10] A similar gold token piece from Pandu Rajar Dhibi has also been interpreted as a coin, it is hammered on the edges and bears parallel marks, although weighing 14 grams, a quarter of the piece is missing hence its full weight of 21 grams would conform to the ancient coinage weight standards of India and confirm the vedic literary references of circulation of gold tokens in that period. [11] Similar interpretations have been made regarding the use of silver circular objects from the Gungeria hoard. [12]

Weight standard Edit

Since the Bronze Age, ratti (0.11 or 0.12 gram) or the weight of the Gunja seeds have been used as a base unit for the measurement of mass in the Indus Valley civilization, the smallest weight of Indus was equal to 8 rattis (0.856 gram) and the binary system was used for the multiple of weights for instance 1:2:4:8:16:32, the 16th ratio being the standard regular weight (16 × smallest weight), etc. This weight system seems to have been replicated in the earliest Indian coins. The Masha coins were quarter Karshapanas, karshapanas themselves being the quarter value of Karsha (13.7 gram, 128 ratti) or 32 ratti which is the same as the regular weight used in the Indus Valley civilization, This standard (of 32 rattis) has been declared as Purana or Dharana by Kautilya. [13] The Karsha weight differed based on the differing values of mashas, for instance arthashastra mentions a masha equal to 5 ratti as opposed to 8 ratti mashas which is described as the prevalent standard during Kautilya's time. The Gandharan quarter svarna coins conform to a different 5 ratti mashas system mentioned in the Arthashastra as do the copper punch marked coins (80 ratti, 146 grain, 9.46 gram). [14] A shatamana (lit. 100 units) weight system has been first mentioned in Satapatha Brahmana which is equal to 100 krishnalas, each krishnala being equal to one ratti. The weight of the ancient Indian silver Karshapana and satamana coin is given below [15]

1 Satamana = 100 Rattis / 11 grams of pure silver

1 Karshapana = 32 Rattis/ 3.3 grams of pure silver

¼ Karshapana (masha) = 8 Rattis

Early literary references Edit

There is evidence of countable units of precious metal being used for exchange from the Vedic period onwards. A term Nishka appears in this sense in the Rigveda. Later texts speak of cows given as gifts being adorned with pādas of gold. A pāda, literally a quarter, would have been a quarter of some standard weight. A unit called Śatamāna, literally a 'hundred standard', representing 100 krishnalas is mentioned in Satapatha Brahmana. A later commentary on Katyayana Srautasutra explains that a Śatamāna could also be 100 rattis. All these units referred to gold currency in some form but they were later adopted to silver currency. [16] [17]

Panini's grammar text indicates that these terms continued to be used into the historical period. He mentions that something worth a nishka is called naishka and something worth a Śatamāna is called a Śatamānam etc. The units were also used to represent the assets of individuals, naishka‐śatika or naishka‐sahasrika (some one worth a hundred nishkas or a thousand nishkas). [16]

Panini uses the term rūpa to mean a piece of precious metal (typically silver) used as a coin, and a rūpya to mean a stamped piece of metal, a coin in the modern sense. [18] The term rūpya continues into the modern usage as the rupee.

Ratti based measurement is the oldest measurement system in the Indian subcontinent. The smallest weight in the Indus Valley civilization was equal to 8 rattis and were the bases for the weight standards for the first Indian coins in the seventh century BC. Ratti and is still used in India as Jewellers weight. [19]

Theory of West Asian influences Edit

Scholars remain divided over the origins of Indian coinage. [21] What is known, however, is that metal currency was minted in India well before the Mauryan Empire (322–185 BCE), [22] and as radio carbon dating indicates, before the 5th century BCE. [23] According to some scholars minted coins spread to the Indo-Gangetic Plain from West Asia.

Some scholars state that ancient India had an abundance of gold but little silver. The gold to silver ratio in India was 10 to 1 or 8 to 1. In contrast, in the neighbouring Persia, it was 13 to 1. This value differential would have incentivised the exchange of gold for silver, resulting in an increasing supply of silver in India. [24]

According to Joe Cribb, a "marriage between Greek coinage and Iranian bar currency" was at the origin of Indian punch-marked coins, the earliest coins developed in India, which used minting technology derived from Greek coinage. [25] Daniel Schlumberger also considers that punch-marked bars, similar to the many punch-marked bars found in northwestern India, initially originated in the Achaemenid Empire, rather than in the Indian heartland:

“The punch-marked bars were up to now considered to be Indian (. ) However the weight standard is considered by some expert to be Persian, and now that we see them also being uncovered in the soil of Afghanistan, we must take into account the possibility that their country of origin should not be sought beyond the Indus, but rather in the oriental provinces of the Achaemenid Empire"

The Joe Crib's notion of western origins of Indian PMC are not new, several scholars had previously proposed such a connection even before any serious attempts were made in the study of PMC coins such as James Princep, who proposed the Greo-Bactrian origin of the PMC coins, this was also supported by C.W King. According to James Kennedy, the PMC were copied form Babylonian originals as a result of trade between India and Babylon in the 6th century BC.Princep later admitted that due to the archaic nature of PMC, they were older than the Greo-Bactrian coinage. [27]

Achaemenid coinage in northwestern India Edit

Coin finds in the Chaman Hazouri hoard in Kabul or the Shaikhan Dehri hoard in Pushkalavati have revealed numerous Achaemenid coins as well as many Greek coins from the 5th and 4th centuries BCE were circulating in the area, at least as far as the Indus during the reign of the Achaemenids, who were in control of the areas as far as Gandhara. [31] [32] [33] [26] In 2007 a small coin hoard was discovered at the site of ancient Pushkalavati (Shaikhan Dehri) in Pakistan. [34] The hoard contained a tetradrachm minted in Athens circa 500/490-485/0 BCE, together with a number of local types as well as silver cast ingots. The Athens coin is the earliest known example of its type to be found so far to the east. [35]

The weight standard of the Gandharan Bent Bar coins is variously estimated by various scholars. According to some scholars such as Joe Cribb, the Shatamana coins of Gandhara are twice the Sigloi weight and hence represent the Persian weight standards. Other scholars such as Vincent Smith recognised the Satamana as 100 ratti weight system of ancient India. [27]

Indian Punched mark Karshapana coins Edit

India may have developed some of the world's first coins, but scholars debate exactly which coin was first and when. Sometime around 600BC in the lower Ganges valley in eastern India a coin called a punchmarked Karshapana was created. [36] [37] According to Hardaker, T.R. the origin of Indian coins can be placed at 575 BCE [38] and according to P.L. Gupta in the seventh century BCE, proposals for its origins range from 1000 BCE to 500 BCE. [25] According to Page. E, Kasi, Kosala and Magadha coins can be the oldest ones from the Indian Subcontinent dating back to 7th century BC and kosambi findings indicate coin circulation towards the end of 7th century BC. [39] It is also noted that some of the Janapadas like shakiya during Buddha's time were minting coins both made of silver and copper with their own marks on them. [40]

The study of the relative chronology of these coins has successfully established that the first punch-marked coins initially only had one or two punches, with the number of punches increasing over time. [25]

The first PMC coins in India may have been minted around the 6th century BCE by the Mahajanapadas of the Indo-Gangetic Plain, The coins of this period were punch-marked coins called Puranas, old Karshapanas or Pana. Several of these coins had a single symbol, for example, Saurashtra had a humped bull, and Dakshin Panchala had a Swastika Others, like Magadha had several symbols. These coins were made of silver of a standard weight but with an irregular shape. This was gained by cutting up silver bars and then making the correct weight by cutting the edges of the coin. [41]

They are mentioned in the Manu, Panini, and Buddhist Jataka stories and lasted three centuries longer in the south than the north (600 BCE – 300 CE). [42]

Uninscribed Cast Copper Coins Edit

A small round bronze coin recovered from Pandu Rajar Dhibi has a primitive human figure on obverse and striations on reverse and may recall striated coins of Lydia and Ionia in 700 BC may well be dated before the punch marked coins of ancient India. [43] Cast copper coins along with punch marked coins are the earliest examples of coinage in India, archaeologist G. R. Sharma based on his analysis from Kausambi dates them to pre Punched Marked Coins (PMC) era between 855 and 815 BC on the bases of obtaining them from pre NBPW period, [44] while some date it to 500 BC and some date them to pre NBPW end of 7th century BC. [45] [39] [46] Archaeological excavations have revealed these coins both from PMC and pre PMC era. The dating of these coins remain a controversy. [47]

Die struck coins Edit

According to some scholars Punch marked coins were replaced at the fall of the Maurya Empire by cast, die-struck coins. [48] The coin devices are Indian, but it is thought that this coin technology was introduced from the West, either from the Achaemenid Empire or from the neighboring Greco-Bactrian kingdom. [49]

Saurashtra die struck coins (5th century – 4th century BC) Edit

Saurashtra Janapada coins are probably the earliest die-struck figurative coins from ancient India from 450 to 300 BCE which are also perhaps the earliest source of Hindu representational forms. Most coins from Surashtra are approximately 1 gram in weight. Rajgor believes they are therefore quarter karshapanas of 8 rattis, or 0.93 gm. Mashakas of 2 rattis and double mashakas of 4 rattis are also known.

The coins appear to be uniface, in that there is a single die-struck symbol on one side. However, most of the coins appear to be overstruck over other Surashtra coins and thus there is often the remnant of a previous symbol on the reverse, as well as sometimes under the obverse symbol as well. [50]

Uninscribed Die struck coins (4th century BC) Edit

Uniscribed die struck coins appeared around 4th century BC in Taxila and Ujjain. These coins were mostly in copper and rarely in silver, the metal dies were cast carefully with the required designs. These coins had some symbols similar to Punch marked coins. [46]

Svarna coins Edit

Quarter svarna coins have been excavated from gandhara. Besides svarna being a term for gold coins (called Svarna Rupa), it was also a weight standard which replaced Purana or Dharana in ancient India. According to Arthashastra one svarna or karsha was equal to 80 rattis (based on 1 masha = 5 ratti standard) [51] [52]

Mauryan Empire Edit

The Mauryan Empire coins were punch marked with the royal standard to ascertain their authenticity. [54] The Arthashastra, written by Kautilya, mentions minting of coins but also indicates that the violation of the Imperial Maurya standards by private enterprises may have been an offence. [54] Kautilya also seemed to advocate a theory of bimetallism for coinage, which involved the use of two metals, copper and silver, under one government. [55] The Mauryan rule also saw a steady emergence of inscribed copper coins in India as evidenced by Tripuri coins in Ashokan brahmi script and various pre Satavahana coins dated 3rd-2nd century BC in Deccan. [56] [57]

Hoard of mostly Mauryan coins.

Silver punch mark coin of the Maurya empire, with symbols of wheel and elephant. 3rd century BCE. [ citation needed ]

Mauryan coin with arched hill symbol on reverse. [ citation needed ]

Mauryan Empire coin. Circa late 4th-2nd century BCE. [ citation needed ]

Mauryan Empire, Emperor Salisuka or later. Circa 207-194 BCE. [58]

The Indo-Greeks Edit

The Indo-Greek kings introduced Greek types, and among them the portrait head, into the Indian coinage, and their example was followed for eight centuries. [59] Every coin has some mark of authority in it, this is what known as "types". It appears on every Greek and Roman coin. [59] Demetrios was the first Bactrian king to strike square copper coins of the Indian type, with a legend in Greek on the obverse, and in Kharoshthi on the reverse. [59] Copper coins, square for the most part, are very numerous. The devices are almost entirely Greek, and must have been engraved by Greeks, or Indians trained in the Greek traditions. The rare gold staters and the splendid tetradrachms of Bactria disappear. [59] The silver coins of the Indo-Greeks, as these later princes may conveniently be called, are the didrachm and the hemidrachm. With the exception of certain square hemidrachms of Apollodotos and Philoxenos, they are all round, are struck to the Persian (or Indian) standard, and all have inscriptions in both Greek and Kharoshthi characters. [59]

Coinage of Indo-Greek kingdom began to increasingly influence coins from other regions of India by the 1st century BCE. [1] By this time a large number of tribes, dynasties and kingdoms began issuing their coins Prākrit legends began to appear. [1] The extensive coinage of the Kushan empire (1st–3rd centuries CE) continued to influence the coinage of the Guptas (320 to 550 CE) and the later rulers of Kashmir. [1]

During the early rise of Roman trade with India, up to 120 ships were setting sail every year from Myos Hormos to India. [60] Gold coins, used for this trade, was apparently being recycled by the Kushan empire for their own coinage. In the 1st century CE, the Roman writer Pliny the Elder complained about the vast sums of money leaving the Roman empire for India:

India, China and the Arabian peninsula take one hundred million sesterces from our empire per annum at a conservative estimate: that is what our luxuries and women cost us. For what percentage of these imports is intended for sacrifices to the gods or the spirits of the dead? - Pliny, Historia Naturalis 12.41.84.

The trade was particularly focused around the regions of Gujarat, ruled by the Western Satraps, and the tip of the Indian peninsular in Southern India. Large hoards of Roman coins have been found and especially in the busy maritime trading centers of South India. [61] The South Indian kings reissued Roman-like coinage in their own name, either producing their own copies or defacing real ones in order to signify their sovereignty. [62]

The Sakas (200 BCE – 400 CE) Edit

During the Indo-Scythians period whose era begins from 200 BCE to 400 CE, a new kind of the coins of two dynasties were very popular in circulation in various parts of the then India and parts of central and northern South Asia (Sogdiana, Bactria, Arachosia, Gandhara, Sindh, Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar). [59] These dynasties were Saka and The Pahlavas.After the conquest of Bactria by the Sakas in 135 BCE there must have been considerable intercourse sometimes of a friendly, sometimes of a hostile character, between them and the Parthians, who occupied the neighboring territory. [59]

Maues, whose coins are found only in the Punjab, was the first king of what may be called the Azes group of princes. His silver is not plentiful the finest type is that with a "biga" (two-horsed chariot) on the obverse, and this type belongs to a square Hemi drachm, the only square aka silver coin known. His most common copper coins, with an elephant's head on the obverse and a "Caduceus" (staff of the god Hermes) on the reverse are imitated from a round copper coin of Demetrius. On another copper square coin of Maues the king is represented on horseback. This striking device is characteristic both of the Saka and Pahlava coinage it first appears in a slightly different form on coins of the Indo-Greek Hippostratos the Gupta kings adopted it for their "horseman" type, and it reappears in Medieval India on the coins of numerous Hindu kingdoms until the 14th century CE. [59]

Kanishka and Huvishka (100–200 CE) Edit

Kanishka's copper coinage which came into the scene during 100–200 CE was of two types: one had the usual "standing king" obverse, and on the rarer second type the king is sitting on a throne. At about the same time there was Huvishka's copper coinage which was more varied on the reverse, as on Kanishka's copper, there was always one of the numerous deities on the obverse the king was portrayed (1) riding on an elephant, or (2) reclining on a couch, or (3) seated cross-legged, or (4) seated with arms raised.

Gupta Empire (320 – 480 CE) Edit

The Gupta Empire produced large numbers of gold coins depicting the Gupta kings performing various rituals, as well as silver coins clearly influenced by those of the earlier Western Satraps by Chandragupta II. [1]

The splendid gold coinage of Guptas, with its many types and infinite varieties and its inscriptions in Sanskrit, are the finest examples of the purely Indian art that we possess. [59] Their era starts from around 320 with Chandragupta I's accession to the throne. [59] Son of Chandragupta I-Samudragupta, the real founder of the Gupta Empire had coinage made of gold only. [59] There were seven different varieties of coins that appeared during his reign. [59] Out of them the archer type is the most common and characteristic type of the Gupta dynasty coins, which were struck by at least eight succeeding kings and was a standard type in the kingdom. [59]

The silver coinage of Guptas starts with the overthrow of the Western Satraps by Chandragupta II. Kumaragupta and Skandagupta continued with the old type of coins (the Garuda and the Peacock types) and also introduced some other new types. [59] The copper coinage was mostly confined to the era of Chandragupta II and was more original in design. Eight out of the nine types known to have been struck by him have a figure of Garuda and the name of the King on it. The gradual deterioration in design and execution of the gold coins and the disappearance of silver money, bear ample evidence to their curtailed territory. [59] The percentage of gold in Indian coins under the reign of Gupta rulers showed a steady financial decline over the centuries as it decreases from 90% pure gold under Chandragupta I (319–335) to a mere 75–80% under Skandagupta (467).

Indo-Sasanian coinage (530–1202 CE) Edit

There is a whole category of Indian coins, in the "Indo-Sassanian style", also sometimes called Gadhaiya paisa, that were derived from the Sasanian coinage in a rather geometric fashion, among the Gurjaras, Pratiharas, Chaulukya-Paramara and Palas from circa 530 CE to 1202 CE. Typically, the bust of the king on the obverse is highly simplified and geometric, and the design of the fire altar, with or without the two attendants, appears as a geometrical motif on the reverse of this type of coinage. [64] [65]

Coin of the Gurjara Confederacy, on the model of the Sasanian coinage of Sindh. Sindh. Circa 570–712 CE

Gurjara-Pratihara coinage of Bhoja or Mihara, King of Kanauj, 850–900 CE. Obv: Boar, incarnation of Vishnu, and solar symbol. Rev: "Traces of Sasanian type". Legend: Srímad Ādi Varāha "The fortunate primaeval boar". [66]

A Chaulukya-Paramara coin, circa 950–1050 CE. Stylized rendition of Chavda dynasty coins: Indo-Sassanian style bust right pellets and ornaments around / Stylised fire altar pellets around. [67]

Chola Empire (850–1279 CE) Edit

The coins of the Chola Empire bear similarities with other South Indian dynastic issue coins. Chola coins invariable display a tiger crest. The appearance of the fish and bow on Chola issue coins that were emblems associated with the Pandyas and Cheras respectively suggests successful political conquest of these powers as well as co-option of existing coin issuing practices. [68]

Rajput Kingdoms (900–1400 CE) Edit

The coins of various Rajput princes's ruling in Hindustan and Central India were usually of gold, copper or billon, very rarely silver. These coins had the familiar goddess of wealth, Lakshmi on the obverse. In these coins, the Goddess was shown with four arms than the usual two arms of the Gupta coins the reverse carried the Nagari legend. The seated bull and horseman were almost invariable devices on Rajput copper and bullion coins. [59]

Eastern Ganga Empire (1038–1434 CE) Edit

The Eastern Ganga coinage consisted of gold fanams. The obverse typically depicts a couchant bull along with other symbols. The reverse features a symbol which represents the letter sa (for samvat, which means year) flanked by elephant goads or an elephant goad with a battle axe, along with a number below, which depicts the regnal year(anka year) of the reigning monarch. Some coins also carry the legend śrī rāma on the reverse above the letter sa.

An interesting aspect of the Eastern Ganga coin dates is that these coins may be the earliest Hindu coins using decimal numbers for dating. Earlier dated coins, such as those of the Western Satraps, the Guptas etc, used the old Brahmic numbering system with separate symbols representing each of the single digits, separate symbols representing two-digit multiples of ten, such as 20, 30, 40, and so on, and further separate symbols representing three-digit numbers such as 100, 200, etc. Thus a number like 123 was written as 100-20-3. But the Eastern Ganga coins were written using the symbols for the single digits, with the position of the number indicating the value such as tens or hundreds, thus effectively using the Zero-place holder system. [69] [70]


Samudragupta of Gupta Dynasty

Samudragupta (335A.D - 380A.D):

The fourth ruler of Gupta Dyansty was Samudragupta.  He was the son of Chandragupta 1 and kumaradevi. Samudragupta was a passionate warrior. He was inspired by the ambition of becoming "Raja Chakravarti" or the greatest emperor or king of kings and "Ekrat", undisputed ruler. His conquest policy in the North was known as Dig Vijay meaning conquering and annexation, but in the south it was Dharma Vijay meaning conquering, but not annexation.

Even though he was not the eldest son of Chandragupta1, he was chosen to become the King among his brothers because of his strong characters. Samudragupta ruled from 335 – 380A.D. The western Cholas call him as Indian Napolean due to the extensive military achievement. The accession of Samudragupta to throne was not liked by many. The new King had to fight with his own brother named Kacha whom Samudragupta defeated. Some coins bearing the name of Kacha support to this theory, but however some historians believe that Samudragupta had called himself as Kacha as coins of Kacha carried Sarva Rajochihetta which is applicable only to the victorious ruler.

Samudragupta was also a great patron of art and literature. Always around him was a crowd of poets and scholars with the most illustrative ones of them including Harishena, Vasubandhu and Asanga. In fact, Samudragupta possessed incredible music and poetic abilities. Though he was staunchly devoted to Lord Vishnu, he exhibited a great degree of religious tolerance and even respected other religions including਋uddhism. During his reign, he permitted the Ceylon ruler to build a monastery at Bodh Gaya.

Harishena was the court poet. He was the author of the Allahabad inscription pillar. This gives the information about Samudragupta invasion. He was fully aware of the achievements of Samudragupta and described it in chronological order.

Samudragupta had unique plan to expand his state. Before he went far off places to conquest, he first subdued his neighbouring kingdoms. In northern India Samudragupta defeated kings called as Achyuta Naga, Naga Sena and Ganapati Naga. Towards South and all along the coast of Bay of Bengal he defeated Pithampuram’s Mahendragiri, kanchi’s Vishnugupta,  Mantaraja of khosala and Mahendra of khosala and reached river Ravi. As he expanded his territory Samudragupta found it difficult to maintain and manage the huge territory.

He adopted the policy of Dharma Vijaya, which means conquest and not annexation. He later again moved north to further expand his kingdom. He decided to distruct Aryavartha in order to make Gupta Dyansty vast. The huge military adventure of Samudragupta defeated nine kings of Aryavartha. According to manusimrthi the term Aryavartha means land between the Himalayas and the Vindyas. By conquering the nine Aryavartha, Samudragupta became master of large place of Aryavartha.

Samudragupta’s huge success in north and south India was simply unquestionable. He wanted the whole of India under his control. Some kingdoms were forcibly annexed and the Kings were made prisoners. Later on they were set free after the prisoned rulers accepted Samudragupta as their ruler.

Some frontier monarchs and tribes voluntarily accepted his rule and gave their kingdoms to Samudragupta, while others did not. Samudragupta performed the Ashwamedha (sacrificing Horse for military supremacy) as a token for his supremacy. In this the King issued Ashwamedha a type of gold coin depicting the sacrificed horse on one side and on the other side it was queen.

While he was performing this he distributed large sum of coins as charity. The Ashwamedha sacrifice was performed probably after the incision of the Allahabad pillar inscription. Ashwamedha Yagna gave him the title of Maharajadhiraj, the supreme king of kings.

If Gupta period can be called as golden age  most of the credit goes to Samudragupta. He united India and subdued enemies. After a long reign of rule Samudragupta died in 375 A.D. and was succeeded by his son Chandragupta 2 Vikram aditya

Chandragupta 2 (380-415 A.D.):

Samudragupta and Dattadevi’s son Chandragupta became the next ruler of the huge Gupta dynasty. Like his father Chandragupta was also a great conqueror. Samudragupta had kept good friendly relations with foreign powers Sakas etc. But Chandragupta 2 crushed Sakas and annexed Malwa, Gujarat and Saurastra. Chandragupta 2 then moved towards westward to conduct a series of attack. But before he could do that he made a   matrimonial alliance with Vakataka kingdom by giving his daughter to Vakataka king’s son Rudrasena 2. 

After conquering Gujarat and Saurastra, Chandragupta 2 made Ujjain his political headquarters due to this many ancient ports came under the control of Gupta’s. This led to open flood gate to trade from west through Egypt. The Indian merchants carried extensive trade with the countries of the west through Egypt. The Western merchants too found their way to Indian ports.

This increased the flow of wealth into India. Chandragupta 2 also gained control on Kushans and concurred Mathura and other parts from them. The Mehruali iron pillar near Qutub Minar inꃞlhi਎ngraves the military success of Chandragupta 2. The gold coins issued during this period shows a man holding a bow on one side and on the other side figure of goddess seated on couchant ( lying down of stomach)

During Chandragupta 2 reign art and architecture improved. Ashwamedha Yagna gave him the coveted title of Maharajadhiraj, the supreme king of kings. Chandragupta 2 like his father was a great ruler and administrator. He not only ruled a vast empire but also gave a sound administration. There was lot of peace and prosperity during his rule. Trade increased after his conquests on west.

The Chinese pilgrim Fa-Hien visited India during his reign was full of praise for Chandragupta 2 for his good administration. The court of Chandragupta 2 consisted of nine gems. Kalidasa was one among them. The other learned members were men such as Varaha Mihira, Vararuehi, Betalabhatta, Gahtakarpara, Dhanwantari, Kshpanaka, Amarasingha, and Shanku, the Gupta Emperor rendered valuable services to the culture of age.

One of his ministers named Virasena was also a reputed poet. Chandragupta 2 was a follower of Vishnu. ਋ut still he was tolerant to other religions like Buddhism, Jainism. The figure of Garuda was the emblem of Gupta flag. After the death of Chandragupta 2 his son Kumaragupta became the next ruler.

Very few monuments built during Gupta reign are present today. Examples of Gupta architecture are found in the Vaishnavite Tigawa temple at Jabalpur (in Madhya Pradesh state) built in 415 AD and another temple at Deogarhnear Jhansi built in 510 AD.

After Kumaragupta his son Skandagupta succeeded him. He ruled from 455 - 467A.D. As soon as he ascended the throne Skandagupta had to face challenges from Pushyamitra. He defeated Pushyamitra and Huns. Skandagupta faced stiff fight from his step brother Purugupta. He was the son of queen Anantadevi. As Skandagupta mother was not chief queen, he had to fight with Purugupta for his rights.  Skandagupta died in 467A.D. He was succeeded by his son Narasimha Gupta. Skandagupta is considered as the last recognised King of Gupta Dyansty.

The Gupta empire ruled from 320 - 550 A.D. and also called as golden period started to decline during Skandagupta period.  The internal fight and external fight was the main reason for the decline.  Skandagupta could not handle the Continuous pressure from the invaders. The governors appointed by the Gupta kings in north Bengal and their feudatories in Samataka broke away from the Gupta control. After Skandagupta all rulers were weak who could not sustain invasion from Huns and others. As the central leadership became weak many north western region assumed the states of independent rulers such as Maitrakas, Panivarhaks etc. All these and many more led to the fall of one of the mighty and great Dynasty.

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Gold Coin of Chandragupta II - History

From about 7th- 6th century B.C. a new medium of transaction was evolved in the form of a currency known as coins. The introduction of coins replaced the earlier modes of transaction which was designated as barter system. Worked out in metals, the coins opened up anew discipline called numismatic studies. Such a studyhas been considered as one of the most reliable sources to reconstruct the history of India. While in certain cases

efforts took the country to an all time height of excellence in every sphere of human activities including the art of coinage. The imperial Guptas issued a rich variety of gold coins with portraits on the obverse and the deities on the reverse. Some of these coins were commemorative of certain events. These bear epithets and legends in Brahmi scripts and indicate the classical status of Sanskrit language, the period attained. The coins of Gupta period record the indigenous features. Chandragupta I issued a commemorative coin to mark his marriage with Lichchhavi princess the Asvamedh and Lyricisttype of Samudragupta`s gold coins (displayed in the Nidhi gallery) record his political

supremacy as well as evince artistic bent of his mind. The coins of Chandragupta II present him as an efficient rider, as a lion slayer and as an expert archer. The associated legands refer him as kings, a king of great valor and a devout followers of Vishnu.The reverse bears the figure of goddess Durga or Lakshmi. His efficient successor Kumargupta I also issued gold

coins portraying him as a rhinoceros slayer, as an invincible (apratigha) person and as a devotee of god Kartikeya. Guptas also issued coins in silver and copper. The copper ones were very much limited in circulation. The human and divine figures depicted on the Gupta coins bear the characteristic of contemporary classical sculptures in terms of their plastic qualities, linear dispositions in the artistic bearings.

interest. The paleography of the legends, the meaning of symbols, the iconography of deities, the features of kings and queens, the artistic analysis of the figures delineated on the

The successors of the Imperial Guptas in the latter half of the century A.D. were considerably waek. Alien invasions, specially by the Hunas, further weakened the powers of the later Guptas.Regional rulers who were once submitted to the Guptas declared their independence and ushered in a state of political instability. The different parts of India during this

period of unrest, followed the Gupta system of coinage for some time. In eastern India, Sasanka of Gauda was one such ruler. On the reverse of his coins one finds the continuity of the presence of Gajalakshmi while on the obverse, he introduced Siva with his bull. The bull and the horseman variety dominated the Indian coinage for another four hundred years tillthe advent of the Ghaznisin the lOth century A.D.

The Sultanate India witnessed notable change in the field of coins. The i ndigenous types were replaced by purely Islamic variety. The human and

coins made of lead, potin, billon and other alloys including some rare currency notes.

The earliest coins of India known as punch marked, are found scattered all ,

the tradition of Gahadavala coins showing Lakshmi on the reverse. Following the tradition of horseman type, gold and silver coins of Mohammad-bin-sam,his general in Bengal, Bakhtiyar Khalji issued coins from Bengal and the coin legend in Nagri script referring the name of the issuer was accommodated within the circular edges it included also date in samvat on the reverse celebrating his victory over , : Gauda.The local people readily accepted such corns that had Lakshmi on the reverse and the writings in Nagri script. The practice of minting coins was suitably -patronized and standardized by

over the country. .By and large ,these were made in silver ( a number of such coins displayed ) and these are available in round, rectangular and occasionally in irregular shapes. Each bears one or more than one but no exceed in five symbols. In this series , there is a variety, rectangular bar shaped coin (on display) known as bent-bar (satamana) which has been discovered from

Gandhara region .These bent-bar variety is regarded as earliest currency. The symbols punched on these coins are either relate to a tradeguild or a particular region. The use of

Iltutmish and the, decentralization of mints to elsewhere from Delhi was done by Balban The Khalji ruler minted gold and silver coins with the legend Sikarda-al-sani i.e., the Second Alexander with the idea to conquer the world while Qutubuddin referred himself in his coin legend as the supreme head of Islam and the Lordof heaven and earth. When Sher

copper for currency was evolved a little later. Such coins were produced by casting methods from moulds. As local , tribal or monarchical issues, copper cast coins became quite popular in entire span of northern India. The gallery includes a number of such a cast specimens

The Achaemenian and Greek invasions to India through the north-western region had a great.

Shah came into power, he introduced a number of changes in the fiscal policies including the shape, size and use of metals for coins. He abolished billon and introduced a standardized copper currency b viz., the paisa while the silver tanka introduced earlier by Iltutmish, was given circulation in his time. The term tanka was changed by the term rupaya' which still holds good.

The Mughals established their empire in 1526 A.D. The strength, stability

impact on coinage of India. For centuries foreign invasion went on from about the 4th century B.C, as a result of which round and artistically better types of coins were introduced.

and prosperity of Mughal empire are marked in the coins of the period. The emperors paid personal interest in the mintage of coins. The grand series of currency standardised by Shei Shah Suri provided the model for the Mughal mintages. Mohur in gold, rupeein silver and dam in copper continued to beminted in various denominations in Mughal kingdom.

These coins have thrownsufficient light on the history and culture of the Indo-Greeks, Indo-Scythians, Indo-Parthians and so on. Made in the technique of I die- , struck', these coin were neatly executed in silver and copper. These coins bear legends in Greek on the obverse and in Kharoshthi on the reverse and are endowed with male and female deities of alien origin besides the naturalistic renderings of the portraits of issuing kings . Some of these coins have been displayed in

Eminent artists and calligraphers who were in the ateliers of Akbar, were commissioned in the manufacture of coins. Thus Mughal coins of this period were produced with beautiful calligraphy in Nastaliq and were decorated with the floral, geometrical and arabesque designs. Thecoin legends gave prominence to the name of Khalifas. Besides, the name of the mint was also incorporated on the surface. For a limited period Akbar introduced 'Ilahi' date on his issues. Most notable and interesting among his mintage were certain silver and gold coins depicted the figure of Raffia and Siya with the Devanagari script in Avadhi dilect. Bharat Kala Bhavan has one extremely rare silver coin of this type which refers to Ilahi regnal year 50 and the Persian month' Amardad' which corresponds to the

A.D.1605 i.e" that year in which Akbar passed away (displayed in the Nidhi gallery).

Emperor Jahangir issued a number of coins strikingly rich in variety and he introduced certain novelties. He introduced a series of coins with zodiac signs and some of hiscoins bear his portraits beautifully

executed. The Museum has some such coins both in gold and silver. In his portraits, the halo behind his head points to his divine association and his bearings are found to be majestically delineated (displayed in the Nidhi gallery). Subsequently, the provincial . chiefs followed the patterns of their Mugha lover lords in minting the coins. Such coins continued to be in circulation for a long span of time till the advent of the British East India Company. These people introduced a new technique in the f a brication of coins from about 1835 A.D. The coins produced in this new

development of coins in India. The Kushanas introduced gold coins with notable emphasis on the portraiture of the issue in divine kingship cropped upduring this period. The period kings. A new concept of witnessed the continuity of Greeko-Bactrian mannerisms but also experienced the beginning of Indianisation in the process. The period evinced the incorporation

of Indian deities on the reverse of coins such as Siva with bull or without the mount , Uma, Mahasena, Skanda Kumara and Visakha. Interestingly enough, king Kanishka included

technique included the effigy of king or reigning queen, referred to the date of minting in Christian era and legends appeared in Roman script . Of the metals used, .silver became more popular. The period also witnessed the introduction of paper currencies. The Museum also has a representative collection of commemorative coins. The practice of issuing

the image of Buddha on the reverse of some of his gold and copper coins. Some of the copper coins of the period are on display.

The Gupta dynasty came into prominence in the 4th century .The rulers of this rule dynasty about two hundred years. They not only brought a political unity in India but by their undaunted

commemorative coins started from November 1964 and continues. The Museum has the first commemorative coins in the memory of the architects of India Is Freedom including the portrait of the first Prime Minister of the country, Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru. The second in the series was issued in 1969 to mark the Gandhi Centenary Celebrations and thereafter, a number of such coins were minted. The Museum possess some of these issues and most of these are on view.


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Catalogue of the Gupta Gold Coins of the Bayana Hoard in the National Museum

The National Museum is fortunate in having one of the richest collections of Indian coins in the world. Not only is the number an amazing one but the varieties represented, the number of rare coins, the clarity of legends, figures and symbols on each one of them, are all indeed specially noteworthy.

As an example can be given a magnificent Sassanian coins series which forms the Parrukh collection, that was specially studied and classified by the original owner of the series, from whom this was acquired by the National Museum, along with a detailed manuscript of an almost completed catalogue, with only the scholarly introduction to be added, which was made available with the original coins as more than a classified list.

The Bayana hoard of coins accidentally discovered so long ago as in 1946 by cowherds in a field in the village of Hullanpur near the town of Bayana in the former Bharatpur State, is almost a landmark in the history of Gupta coinage, as it contains a large number of unique issues in addition to varieties already known. Except a few of the rarest, a very small group of rare coins was got together and made available to the nation by its presentation to the then just started National Museum through Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the then President of India. The National Museum cannot be sufficiently grateful to the Maharaja of Bharatpur for this invaluable gift of rare coins of the Bayana hoard. The Couch type of Chandragupta II, the Apratigha type, the Elephant-Rider type, the Lion-Trampler type, the Rhinoceros-Slayer type, the Asvamedha type, the Lyrist type, all of Kurnaragupta, are among the rare types. It is hoped that the rarest coin of this series, the Chakravikrama, which is still with the Maharaja would one day be graciously presented by him to the National Museum, as he had years ago assured me.

The National Museum is now commencing a programme of producing a number of important catalogues to describe the rich treasures of each category of art objects in the Museum. In the Numismatic section the first catalogue taken up is of the Gupta gold coins, and this would be followed up by other Gupta coins and, subsequently, by other varieties of coins, in convenient batches, according to dynasty, date and geographical distribution.

It is the National Museum’s rare good fortune to have this catalogue prepared by Dr. Bahadur Ch and Chhabra, the eminent epigraphist, who was for years in Ootacamund before he came over to Delhi as Deputy Director General of Archaeology, whence, later, he became Joint Director General. With his lifelong experience in Epigraphy and Numismatics, Dr. Chhabra had taken up for study the most important collection of gold coins in the National Museum. He has been on it for some years now, and we are happy that the fruit of his intense study and research is now available to supplement and further the knowledge on Gupta coinage, that has been made available to the world, through the famous books of Dr. John Allan and Dr. A.S. Altekar, supplemented by several individual articles by scholars, who have discussed various problems on the coinage and chronology of the Gupta sovereigns.

Dr. Chhabra has made several suggestions to unravel some of the knotty problems in Gupta chronology and attribution of coins, the significance of the coins themselves, the importance of their legends, the import of their figures and symbols, their relationship with Gupta inscriptions and so forth.

I have no words to express my gratitude to Dr. Chhabra for making it possible for the National Museum to bring out the fruit of his research in Gupta coinage, as the very first catalogue to be issued from any section of the National Museum. I am sure this will be welcomed by scholars from all over the world as an important contribution in the field of Numismatics.

Scope And Arrangement -The present volume comprises a Catalogue of Gold Coins pertaining to some rulers of the Gupta dynasty, forming one of the coin-collections of the National Museum at New Delhi. This collection consists of 618 coins. They are all from the Bayana Hoard. Some of them were purchased for the National Museum while the others were presented to it. They pertain to five of the Gupta monarchs as detailed below. All the 618 coins have been illustrated in their proper order, both obverse and reverse. This is perhaps a novel or peculiar feature of the present Catalogue. Otherwise it is modelled as far as possible, on John Allan’s well-known Catalogue of the Gupta Dynasties and of Sasarika, King of Gauda, British Museum, London, 1914.

The arrangement followed by us in describing the coins is as follows: the first line contains the serial number of the coin described, the acquisition as given in the Acquisition Register of the Museum, then the weight of the coin in gms. ( grammes ), followed by its size in French millimetres.

An alphabetic order is followed in arranging the different types of the coins. In designating the types we have followed the usage adopted by the earlier writers for obvious reasons, e.g. King-and-Queen Type, Standard Type, Lion-Combatant Type, Lion-Slayer Type, Lion-Trampler Type, etc., even though there is reason for improvement and revision in some cases, such as Standard, Apratigha, etc. We shall have occasion to comment on these in their proper places.

History and Chronology- The Gupta period is reputed to be the Golden Age of the Ancient History of India. It is indeed so, both literally and figuratively. No other period has yielded so many hoards of gold coins as the Gupta period has. This is an evidence of prosperity in general of that time. And it is again during this period that all the fine arts reached their climax, practised all over and patronised most liberally. Even the coins under study bear witness to this, through their artistic designs and poetic legends.

The dynastic history of the Gupta rulers, on the other hand, bristles with enigmas and riddles, as we shall presently see. Recent discoveries and researches have no doubt shed welcome light on some of them, yet for the most part their history remains obscure.

We give below a bare outline of the Gupta history and chronology, as we understand it, as background of our Catalogue. Detailed discussions over controversial points may be found in the various history books, quite a few of which have been published in recent time, everyone of them claiming to be an improvement upon the others. For our purpose, we shall steer clear of the current controversies as far as possible.


Chandragupta II

Chandragupta II was the son of Samudragupta and Dattadevi and he was chosen by his father as his successor.

The Gupta Empire reached its highest glory, both in terms of territorial expansion and cultural excellence under Chandragupta II.

Chandragupta II had inherited a strong and consolidated empire from his father Samudragupta.

Chandragupta II had established a matrimonial alliance with Vakatakas by marrying his daughter Prabhavatigupta with Rudrasena-II of the Vakataka dynasty.

Chandragupta-II made an alliance with the Vakatakas before attacking the Sakas so as to be sure of having a friendly power to back him up in Deccan.

Prabhavatigupta acted as a regent on behalf of her two minor sons after the death of her husband Rudrasena II.

Chandragupta-II’s victory over the mighty Sakas dynasty was his foremost success. The annexation of Sakas’s kingdom comprising Gujarat and part of Malwa strengthened the Gupta Empire, but also brought it into direct touch with western sea ports. This gave a great motivation to foreign trade and commerce.

Ujjain, a major centre of trade, religion, and culture became the second capital of the Gupta Empire after the conquest.

After the victory over Sakas, Chandragupta-II adopted the title of ‘Vikramaditya.’

Chandragupta-II issued dated silver coins to commemorate his victory over Saka kshatrapas.

The Mehrauli iron pillar inscription records portray a king named Chandra.

The king Chandra is generally identified as Chandragupta-II. This would mean his kingdom extended from Bengal to the north-west frontiers.

Chandragupta-II's reign is remembered for his patronage of literature and arts and for the high standard of artistic and cultural life.

Kalidas, the great Sanskrit poet was a member of Chandragupta-II’s court.

Fa-Hien, the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim visited India between A.D. 405 and A.D. 411. He visited for collecting Buddhist manuscripts and text and studying at Indian monasteries.


Chandragupta

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Chandragupta, also spelled Chandra Gupta, also called Chandragupta Maurya or Maurya, (died c. 297 bce , Shravanbelagola, India), founder of the Mauryan dynasty (reigned c. 321–c. 297 bce ) and the first emperor to unify most of India under one administration. He is credited with saving the country from maladministration and freeing it from foreign domination. He later fasted to death in sorrow for his famine-stricken people.

Why is Chandragupta important?

Chandragupta was the founder of the Mauryan dynasty (reigned c. 321–c. 297 BCE) and the first emperor to unify most of India under one administration. He is credited with saving the country from maladministration and freeing it from foreign domination.

Where was Chandragupta educated?

Chandragupta received an education in military tactics and the aesthetic arts in Taxila (now in Pakistan). He was mentored by Kautilya (also called Chanakya), a Brahman statesman and philosopher.

How did Chandragupta come to power?

Chandragupta overthrew the Nanda dynasty and then ascended to the throne of the Magadha kingdom, in present-day Bihar state, India, about 325 BCE. Alexander the Great died in 323, leaving Chandragupta to win the Punjab region about 322. The following year, as emperor of Magadha and ruler of the Punjab, he began the Mauryan dynasty.

What did Chandragupta accomplish?

Chandragupta built an empire ranging from the Himalayas and the Kābul River valley in the north and west to the Vindhya Range in the south. Its continuation for at least two generations is attributable in part to his establishment of an administration patterned on that of the Persian Achaemenid dynasty and Kautilya’s political text, Artha-shastra.

Chandragupta was born into a family left destitute by the death of his father, chief of the migrant Mauryas, in a border fray. His maternal uncles left him with a cowherd who brought him up as his own son. Later he was sold to a hunter to tend cattle. Purchased by a Brahman politician, Kautilya (also called Chanakya), he was taken to Taxila (now in Pakistan), where he received an education in military tactics and the aesthetic arts. Tradition states that while he slept, following a meeting with Alexander the Great, a lion began licking his body, gently waking him and prompting in him hopes of royal dignity. Upon Kautilya’s advice, he collected mercenary soldiers, secured public support, and ended the autocracy of the Nanda dynasty in a bloody battle against forces led by their commander in chief, Bhaddasala.

Ascending the throne of the Magadha kingdom, in present-day Bihar state, about 325 bce , Chandragupta destroyed the sources of Nanda power and eliminated opponents through well-planned administrative schemes that included an effective secret service. When Alexander died in 323, his last two representatives in India returned home, leaving Chandragupta to win the Punjab region about 322. The following year, as emperor of Magadha and ruler of the Punjab, he began the Mauryan dynasty. Expanding his empire to the borders of Persia, in 305 he defeated an invasion by Seleucus I Nicator, a Greek contender for control of Alexander’s Asian empire.

Ranging from the Himalayas and the Kābul River valley (in present-day Afghanistan) in the north and west to the Vindhya Range in the south, Chandragupta’s Indian empire was one of history’s most extensive. Its continuation for at least two generations is attributable in part to his establishment of an excellent administration patterned on that of the Persian Achaemenid dynasty (559–330 bce ) and after Kautilya’s text on politics, Artha-shastra (“The Science of Material Gain”). Chandragupta’s son, Bindusara, continued to expand the empire to the south.

Traditionally, Chandragupta was influenced to accept Jainism by the sage Bhadrabahu I, who predicted the onset of a 12-year famine. When the famine came, Chandragupta made efforts to counter it, but, dejected by the tragic conditions prevailing, he left to spend his last days in the service of Bhadrabahu at Shravanabelagola, a famous religious site in southwestern India, where Chandragupta fasted to death.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Kenneth Pletcher, Senior Editor.


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