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An overview of the research on the Gupta period clearly demonstrates the intense interests of the historian and archaeologist of this age. This is understandable in view of the availability of diverse types of materials, archaeological and literary, which speak highly of the relative political stability in the subcontinent and legendary achievements in creative cultural activities. The north Indian scene is dominated by the Imperial Guptas, while the contemporary Deccan is marked by the rise of the Vakatakas. Though there is nothing new about the political history of the Guptas, the history of the Vakatakas is now better understood with the recent discovery of a number of inscriptions.

Important developments took place in the sphere of Sanskrit literature during c. 300-600 CE. Sanskrit kavya constitutes an underutilized source for the social history of the period. Puranas occupy a very important place as a religious source. They are 18 in number but only the Vayu Purana, Brahmanda Purana, Matysa Purana, Vishnu Purana and Bhagvat Puranas give a full account of the Gupta Empire, its various provinces and their boundaries. The Dharmashastras also give us a lot of useful information of the Gupta period. The Kamandaka Nitisara was written in the time of Chandragupta II by Sikhara, Prime Minister of Chandragupta II. It gives us idea of polity and administration of the Guptas. Fragments of the Devi-Chandragupta, a lost drama written by Vishakhadatta, were found preserved in a manuscript of Bhojas Shriingara-Prakasha, and are relevant for political history. The Mudrarakshas of Vishakhdatta gives an account of establishment of the Mauryan dynasty by Chandragupta Maurya and Kautilya. It throws light on the religion of the king and the religious condition of the people in the Gupta period. The Kaumudi Mahotsava is a drama of five Acts which gives political condition of Magadha of that time and also throws considerable light on the origin and the rise of Gupta dynasty. It has enabled scholars to solve many riddles of the early Gupta history. The Manjushrimulakalpa, a Buddhist Mahayana text, has a chapter on the history of India and of Gauda and Magadha in particularly from the early centuries CE to the early medieval period. The Jaina Harivamsha Purana (8th century) and the Tiloya Pannati give some details concerning political chronology. Works on medicine and astronomy indicate the prevailing state of knowledge in these fields.

Along with other technical treatises such as the Kamasutra (on pleasure) and the Amarakosha (a lexicon), they offer information on other aspects as well. The Tamil epics Silappadikaram and Manimekalai belong to the 5th/6th century and are rich source of information on the history of S. India. The Gupta period is regarded as the golden age of Indian history and its archaeology is sufficiently important to bear out this claim. Its antiquities are spread all over North India. Excavations conducted in Assam, Bengal, Bihar,

Inscriptions are helpful in writing the history of the Gupta period. They can be divided into two groups: o Firstly, those incised by private individuals o Secondly, those engraved on behalf of the ruling king The private records mentioned the donations in favour of religious establishments or installation of images for worship. The official records are either in the nature of Prasastis or charters recording land grants known as tamra sasanas. The Prasastis and the tamrasasanas usually provide us information on the genealogy of the kings mentioned in them. A large number of seals have been found from Vaisali in the Muzzaffarpur district. They give an insight into the provincial and local administration. A lot of useful information for the history of Guptas is found in the coins of the Gupta Emperor. The legends on the coins possess great poetic merit. The fabric and style of a coin helps to form an idea of the political conditions determining the sequence of events and ideas. Both gold and silver coins were issued by these rulers.

A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India Upinder Singh A Political History of the Imperial Guptas: From Gupta to Skandagupta Tej Ram Sharma