Vincent Arthur Smith.

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places, of which some traces still exist. ^ Ever since the time
of Asoka, India had been filled with magnificent Buddhist

^ The remains of Kanishka's huge stapa at Peshawar were excavated
in 1908-9, and a remarkable relic casket was found bearing the image of
the king and an inscription. An inscribed portrait statue of Kanishka,
lacking the head, was found at Mat near Mathura in 1912.

HINDU INDIA FROM 650 B.C. TO A. D 1193 75

buildings. The monasteries were often huge structures built
of timber on brick foundations, several stories high and
splendidly decorated. The stupas were domed cupolas,


generally constructed of brick, designed either to enshrine
relics or to mark some holy spot. The larger ones were
often surrounded by richly carved stone railings with highly
ornamented gateways, and no expense was spared in the
adornment of the buildings in every possible way. The best

HINDU INDIA FROM 650 B.C. TO A. D. 1193 77

preserved example is the great stupa at Sanchi in Bhopal. The
finest carved railing was that which surrounded the stiopa of
Amaravati on the Kistna river in the Guntur District, Madras.
In and about the Peshawar District the remains of numerous
stupas and monasteries of Kushan age exist, and multitudes of
well -executed sculptures resembling in style the Graeco-Roman
work of the first three centuries of the Christian era have been
found. The Buddhists also were fond of hewing chapter-
houses, or churches, out of the solid rock. The best examples
of these are at Karle and other places in the Bombay Presi-
denc3^ The practice lasted for many centuries, and some of
the cave-temples were excavated for Jain and Hindu worship.
The Jains also built stupas exactly like those of the Buddhists.
Two famous Buddhist teachers, Nagarjuna and Asvaghosha,
as well as a medical author, Charaka, are reputed to have
lived in Kanishka's time.


The Gupta empire : the Hiinas or White Huns ; reign of Harsha ; state
of civilization ; Chinese pilgrims ; Kalidasa j foreign trade.

The Gupta dynasty. The next prominent dynasty of which
records have been preserved is that of the Guptas. A Raja of
Pataliputra, who took the name of Chandragupta (I), enhanced
his power at the beginning of the fourth century by marrying
a princess of the influential Licchhavi clan of Vaisali in Tirhut,
and formed a considerable kingdom extending along the
Ganges to Prayag or Allahabad. In 319-20 he established
the Gupta era to commemorate his coronation.

Samudragupta. The founder of the Gupta empire is a dim
figure, hardly more than a dated name. His son and chosen
successor, Samudragupta, stands forth as a real man — scholar,
poet, musician, and warrior. The early years of his vigorous
reign were devoted to the thorough conquest of Upper India,
that is to say, the country now known as the United Provinces


^, &ij>r'll,h Al'< ^Srarasti l5

■ G LI P T A' % E M P I R E J:_.

Nasik <^ Devagi
Soparab ""^



The Conquests of

and the


(Travels of Fa-hien)

Scale of Miles

' I I I I

:.0 100 200 300 400

GE010E PHILIP Jt SON, ltd/

HINDU INDIA FROM 650 B.C. TO A. D. 1193 79

of Agra and Oudh with the Central India Agency and Bengal,
but not including the Panjab. When that conquest was
finished, he turned his arms against the south. Marching
across the wild regions of the tributary states of Orissa, he
advanced by the road of the eastern coast until he reached
about the latitude of Nellore. He then turned westwards and
came home through Khandesh. He did not try to annex the
realms bej'ond the Narbada. He was content with receiving
the humble subinission of the vanquished princes and bringing
home a huge store of golden booty. Having thus proved his
title to be Lord Paramount of India, he celebrated the horse-
sacrifice (asvamedha), lawful only for a king of kings. Extant
medals testify to the liberal share of his bounty then bestowed
on the Brahmans. When he died his dominions comprised
all the most populous and fertile regions of Northern India,
extending from the Hooghly on the east to the Sutlaj and
Chambal on the west, and from the Himalayan slopes on the
north to the Narbada on the south. Beyond those limits of
his du'ect government he controlled the wild bribes of the
Himalaya and the Vindhyas, as well as the free clans of Raj-
putana and Malwa, while his ambassadors had dealings with
the rulers of Cej Ion in the Far South and of the Scythian
kingdom on the Oxus in Central Asia. His empire was far
greater than any that India had seen since the days of Asoka,
six centuries earlier. The elegant inscription at Allahabad
which records the conquests of Samudragupta tells also of
his personal qualities, and its evidence as to his musical skill
is confirmed by the medals which exhibit the king in the act
of playing the Indian lute (i^lna). Pataliputra apparently
continued to be the capital of the immense empire won and
held by Samudraguj)ta.

Chandragupta Vikramaditya. The next king, Chandra-
gupta II, surnamed Vikramaditya, who annexed Malwa and
Ujjaiii to his empire, probably is the original of Raja Bikram,
famous in legend. He dispossessed the Saka rulers of Surash-
tra, who used the Persian title of Satrap, and are called the

80 HINDU INDIA FROM 650 B. C. TO A. D. 1193

"Vyestern Satraps by modern writers. Chandragupta II seems
to have made Ajodhya his capital. His reign (about 375 to
413) may be regarded as marking the climax or highest point
attained by the imperial Guptas, a singularly able line of kings, ^

Kumaragupta, Skandagupta, and the Huns. His successor,
Kumaragupta I (413-55), was troubled towards the end of his
reign b}^ irruptions of a fresh horde of Central Asian nomads,
the White Huns or Ephthalites, who overcame the next king,
Skandagupta, and broke up tlip Gupta empire, about a.d. 470.
For a short time Northern India became a province of a huge
White Hun empire, which embraced forty countries, extending
from Persia on the west to Khotan in Chinese Turkestan on the
east. In India the tyranny of the Hun chief, Mihiragula,
bscoming unbearable, he was defeated by Yasodharman, Raja
of Malwa, and, perhaps, also by Narasimha Baladitya Gupta,
in or about a.d. 528, and forced to retire into Kashmir. The
nomad immigrants, known collectively to Indians a.s Huns,
but comprising various tribes, settled in large numbers in
the Pan jab amd Raj pu tana, and caused great changes. But
history is almost silent as to details of events in the sixth
century. It was certainly a time of confused warfare, and
there was no paramount power.

The Vikrama era. The popular belief which associates the
Vikrama era of 58-57 B.C. with a Raja Vikramaditya or
Bikram of Ujjain at that date may be erroneous. No such
person is known. It is, however, true that the earliest known
use of the era was in Malwa and it may have been invented
by the astronomers of Ujjain. An early name of it was the
Malwa era. The term Vihrama-kdla used in later times may
refer to one or other of the many kings with the title of
Vikramaditya or Vikrama, who was believed to have estab-
lished the era. The king referred to maj' be presumed to be

* The phrase ' Guptas of Kauauj ' is an ancient error ; Kanauj never
was the Gupta capital. The designation of the Western Satraps as ' the
Shah kings ' is another ' vulgar error ', based on an old misreading of coin

HINDU INDIA FROM 650 B. C. TO A. D. 1193 81

Chandragupta II, Vikramaditya, who conquered Ujjain about
A.D. 390. The Gupta and Saka eras changed their names
similarly, becoming known in after ages as the Valabhi and
the Salivahana eras respectively.

Reign of Harsha of Kanauj. At the beginning of the
seventh century a strong man arose, Harsha, Raja of Thanesar,
who, in the short space of six years (606-12), made himself
master of Northern India as far as the Sutlaj, fixing his capital
at Kanauj, and became the paramount power even over
Surashtra and Gujarat in the west, and Assam and Bengal in
the east. The equally vigorous ruler of the Deccan, Pulakesin
II Chalukya (608-42), prevented him from extending his domi-
nions south of the Narbada. Harsha died early in 647, and his
death was followed by another period of anarchy and confusion.

Chinese pilgrims ; Fa-hien. Our knowledge of events in
the Gupta period and age of Harsha is largely derived from the
narratives of Chinese Buddhist pilgrims, who crowded into
India as the Holy Land of their faith, and eagerly sought for
Buddhist books, relics, and images. The earliest of these
pilgrims was Fa-hien (399-413), who came overland through
Khotan and returned to China by sea. He remained for six
years in the dominions of Chandragupta II Vikramaditya
studying Buddhist literature, and was much pleased with the
country. Pataliputra was still a flourishing city, with numerous
charitable institutions, including a free hospital. In Malwa
the penal code was mild, and the people were not worried by
official regulations. Order was well preserved, and the pilgrim
was free to pursue his studies in peace. Although the Gupta
king was himself an orthodox Vaishnava Hindu, Buddhism
flourished and was fully tolerated.

Hiuen Tsang, or Yuan Chwang. Hiuen Tsang, or Yuan
Chwang, the prince of pilgrims (629^5), came to India over-
land by the road to the north of the Takla Makan desert, and
then through Samarkand, returning by the Pamirs and Khotan
— a terribly long and arduous journey both ways. He visited
almost every part of India, and recorded his experiences in a

82 HINDU INDIA FROM 650 B. C. TO A. D. 1193

book of inestimable value. He became a personal friend of
King Harsha, who, in his latter days, took a fancy to Bud-
dhism. The king was a vigorous despot, keeping his dominions
in order by personal supervision exercised during constant
touring, interrupted only by the rains. The penal code was
rather more severe than in the days of the Guptas, and the
roads were not quite so safe, but the country seems to have
been fairly well governed.

Buddhism was still strong, although orthodox Hinduism was
gaining way. The king favoured all the Indian religions,
doing honour in turn to Siva, the Sun, and Buddha, with a
personal preference for the last-named. The pilgrim attended
a strange assembly held at Kanauj, the capital, for the purpose
of disputations on religious subjects, at which twenty tributary
Rajas were present, including the rulers of Assam in the east,
and Surashtra on the west. Pataliputra was in ruins. No
record of the fall of the ancient imperial city has survived, but
it can hardly be doubted that the disaster was a consequence
of the Hun wars. Harsha lavished his favours on Kanauj,
an old city between the Ganges and Jumna, which he made
the seat of his government, filling it with splendid buildings.
The Kanauj assembly moved on to Prayag (Allahabad), where
the sovereign ceremoniously distributed the wealth of his
treasury to people of all denominations on the ground at the
junction of the Ganges and Jumna where the great fair is now
held annually. Harsha was in the habit of making such dis-
tributions every five years, and the celebration in which Hiuen
Tsang assisted was the sixth of the reign.

The Gupta period a golden age. The Gupta period, and
more especially the fifth century, may be justly regarded as
the golden age of Northern India. Powerful and long-lived
kings of exceptional personal ability made extensive conquests
and established a well-governed empire, in which the energies
of gifted men had free scope. The kings maintained a splendid
court, and gathered round their throne men of eminence in
every branch of knowledge, on whom the}^ bestowed liberal

HINDU INDIA FROM 650 B.C. TO A. D. 1193 83

patronage. Literature, art, and science were alike cultivated
with success and distinction.

Literature : Kalidasa. The name of Kalidasa, whose
activity may be referred to the reign of Kumaragupta I, in
the first half of the fifth century, enjoys unquestioned pre-
eminence. Unanimous opinion proclaims him as the chief of
Sanskrit dramatists and poets. The Ritu-samhara, or ' Cycle
of the Seasons ', and the Megliaduta, or ' Cloud Messenger ',
both charming descriptive poems of a lyrical character, seem
to be among his early works. The heroic epic entitled
JRagkuvamh, or ' The Race of Raghu ', a product of his more
mature genius, gives eloquent expression to the Hindu national
ideal. Sakuntald, acclaimed by all critics as the best of his
three dramas, and one of the most interesting plays in the
literature of the world, has succeeded in delighting alike
European and Indian readers.

Sculpture, painting, and architecture. The sculpture of the
Gupta age, the excellence of which was not fully recognized
until recently, may be reasonably considered the best of all
Indian sculpture, but, of course, tastes differ. Although no
examples of Gupta painting have survived in Northern India,
the power of the artists of the fifth and sixth centuries is
proved by the beautiful frescoes of the Ajanta caves in the
west and of Sigiriya in Ceylon. The accident that the Gupta
empire was mostly made up of those provinces which were
continually overrun by Muhammadan armies and permanently
occupied by Muslim governments explains the rarity of Gupta
buildings, Muhammadan Sultans and Padshahs seldom
spared a Hindu edifice. But the little that has survived
suffices to prove that the architecture of the Gupta period was
worthy of the sculpture which adorned the buildings.

Coins and music. The only Hindu coins possessing any
considerable artistic merit are certain pieces struck by
Samudragupta and Chandragupta II. We have seen how
Samudragupta practised and patronized the art of music.

Science. Mathematical and astronomical science was largely

HINDU INDIA FROM 650 B.C. TO A. D. 1193 85

advanced by Aryabhata (born a. d. 476), who taught the
system studied at Pataliputra, which was based on the works of
Greek authors.

Causes of intellectual activity. It is impossible to go further
into details or to mention less famous names, but what has
been said is enough to show that every form of mental activity
made itself felt during the Gupta period. The intelligent
patronage of a series of able and wealthy kings for more than
a century had much to do with the prosperity of the arts and
sciences. A deeper cause was the conflict of ideas produced
by the active intercourse between the Gupta empire and the
great powers of both East and West. Many embassies to and
from China are recorded, while communication with the By-
zantine Roman empire through Alexandria in Egypt was made
easy by the conquests of Chandragupta II in the closing years
of the fourth century. Although the works of the Gupta
authors and artists are thoroughly Indian in subject and treat-
ment, it may be doubted if they would ever have been produced
but for the stimulus given to Indian minds by their contact
with the ideas of strangers.

Religion : Sanskrit. When the Travels of Fa-hien (399-413)
are compared with those of Hiuen Tsang (629-645), it becomes
clear that during the interval between the two pilgrims
Buddhism had declined, while Brahmanical Hinduism had
advanced. The Gupta kings, who were officially Vaishnava
Hindus, showed a wise tolerance for other creeds. Some of
them, indeed, took a lively interest in Buddhist teaching.
But, as the years rolled on, the influence of Buddhism slowly
faded away, and that of orthodox Brahmans increased. That
change was accompanied by a freer use of Sanskrit, the lan-
guage of the Brahmans, in books and inscriptions, and by
the disuse of the Prakrit dialects.

Harsha and Bana. The revival of Hinduism, with the
parallel decay of Buddhism, continued in the seventh century,
during and after the reign of Harsha, who was a zealous patron
of Sanskrit literature, although personally inclined to Buddhist

86 HINDU INDIA FROM 650 B.C. TO A. D. 1193

doctrine. The king is the reputed author of a play called
Batnavall and other works, The most famous author of his
day was his friend Bana, who celebrated the deeds of his royal
patron in the Harshacharita. The book is of high value as
history, but the fantastic, involved style of the composition
is annojang to most readers.

Kumarila-bhatta and Sankaracharya. The Hindu reaction
against Buddhism was carried further early in the eighth cen-
tury by Kumarila-bhatta, an Assamese Brahman, who taught
the Mimansa philosophy, and is popularly supposed to have
led an active j)ersecution of Buddhists. The reality of the
alleged persecution is doubtful. About a century later, San-
karacharya, a Nambudri Brahman of Malabar, taught a form
of Vedantist philosophy, which still has great vogue. He
travelled throughout India and established many rnaths, or
monasteries, several of which still exist, the principal one being
at Sringeri in Mysore. Professor Barnett observes that, ' the
religious attitude of Sankara is summed up in a fine verse
ascribed to him ' :

Though difference be none, I am of Thee,

Not thou, Lord, of me ;
For of the Sea is verily the Wave,

Not of the Wave the Sea.

Foreign trade in the Buddhist period. As we have seen,
during the Buddhist period India occupied an important
international position among Eastern countries, and her
intellectual and commercial influence spread far and wide.
Buddhism, unlike Hinduism, was a missionary religion, and
sought converts in foreign lands. Even in the Jdtakas. the
birth-stories of the Buddha, we hear of Indian traders going
as far afield as Babylon. Broach, Kalyan, and other parts of
Western India drove a thriving trade, especially in jjepper,
spices, and precious stones, with the Seleukid princes of Asia
Minor, the Ptolemies of Egypt, and later with the Roman
Empire, by way of the great emporium of Alexandria. Great

HINDU INDIA FROM 650 B.C. TO A. D. 1193 87

trade-routes intersected the country, one of them being the
famous Royal Road of the Mauryas, which ran from the capital
at PataHputra to the North-West Frontier. Another one ran
from Masulipatam through Paithan to Broach. Some of
the most important of the regulations drawn up by Kautilya
for the Emperor Chandragupta related to shipping, commerce,
and the treatment of foreign merchants. Embassies from
Indian courts proceeded from time to time to Rome. Great
wealth poured into Southern and Western India in this
manner. Pliny, writing in the first century a.c, says that over
one million pounds annually went to the East in exchange for
spices and other luxuries, and the hordes of Roman coins
unearthed in Southern India corroborate this statement.
The Buddhist merchants spent the wealth they acquired very
liberally, and the cave-temples of Karla, Kanheri, and other
places, were to a great extent erected by means of their
generous contributions. Unfortunately, with the revival of
orthodox Hinduism, the idea began to be prevalent that a
journey overseas destroyed caste. In the Code of Manu Ave
find travelling to foreign countries severely condemned. The
result was fatal. India became self-centred and cut off from
intercourse with her neighbours. Trade dwindled, and when,
in the fifteenth century, foreign invaders began to arrive from
the West, she had no navy to defend her coasts.

88 HINDU INDIA FROM 650 B. C. TO A. D. 1193

Reign of Harshavardhana {Siladiiya)

Accession . . . 606

Conflict with Pulakesin II about 620 (Brahmagupta, astronomer, 628)

Assembly at Kanauj, almsgiving

atPrayag . . . 643 (Hiuen Tsang, Chinese pilgrim)

Death .... early in 647 (or late in 646).
Usurpation by Harsha's minister 647-8


The Muhammadan conquest of Sind : the rise of the Rajputs ; some Rajput


New grouping of powers after Harsha's death ; the Rajput
period. It is imposvsible to narrate in detail the histories of
the many powers which emerged in India when the anarchy
and disturbance consequent upon Harsha's death in a. d. 647
began to settle down. In some cases the story of a single
dynasty would be enough to fill a volume. Most of the new
states took shape during the eighth and ninth centuries under
chiefs belonging to various Rajpiit clans, who claimed to be
the successors of the Kshatriyas of ancient times. The whole
period between the death of Harsha and the Muhammadan
conquest of Hindustan at the close of the twelfth century, com-
prising about five and a half centuries, may be called the
Rajput period. We must Consider who the Rajpiits were,
and how they come so much into view at this particular time.
But in this chapter we shall confine our attention to the affairs
of Northern India before the time of Mahmud of Ghazm,

Muhammadan conquest of Sind. The new powers, as has
been said, almost without exception were Rajput. The
principal exception was Sind. An ancient SMra dynasty,
with its capital at Aror (Alor), had ruled the country from the
Salt Range to the sea. In the seventh century the sceptre
passed into the hands of Chach, a Brahman. But meantime
the Arabs, full of enthusiasm for the Muhammadan religion,
then just started on its victorious career, had occupied

90 HINDU INDIA FROM 500 B. C. TO A.D. 1193

Balochistan (Makran). In a.d. 712, under the command of a
general named Muhammad, son of Kasim,^ they invaded Sind,
slew the reigning king, Dahir, son of Chach, and established
a Muslim state which endured for centuries. The boundary
between it and India proper was the ' Lost River ', the Hakra
{ante, p. 22). The Muhammadan occupation of Sind did not
much affect interior India, and the serious Muslim attack on
the countries east of the Indus did not occur until nearly three
centuries later.

The rise of the Rajputs. Most of the existing Rajput clans
trace back their ^Dedigrees to the eighth or ninth century, but
no farther, and the reason seems to be that their ruling families
became prominent about that time. Multitudes of foreign
settlers, Hunas, Gurjaras, and others, who had taken up their
abode in the Pan jab and Rajputana during the fifth and sixth
centuries {ante, p. 80), became Hinduized in the course of two
or three generations, and were then recognized as Hindu castes.
War and government being the business of a Kshatriya, the
chiefs and their kinsmen, when they adopted the Hindu
dharma, or rule of life, were considered Kshatriyas, while the
humbler folk took rank in castes of less degree.

How foreigners became Hinduized. Several causes made it
easy for the new comers to become Hindus quickly. The
invaders must generally have arrived without their woman-
kind. When they settled down in India they married Hindu
wives, who naturally continued to follow their old customs
which they taught to their children! The men, being far
away from home, could not possibly keep up the mode of life
to wliich they had been used in Turkistan. They thus readily
dropped into the ways of their wives, children, and neighbours.
In order to be a good Hindu it is not necessary to hold any
particular creed. All that is needed is to follow the Indian
dharma, or rule of life, which may be defined roughly as
reverence for Brahmans, respect for the sanctity of cows, and
scrupulous care about diet and marriage. In the course of a
* Not ' Muhammad Kasim '.

HINDU INDIA FROM 500 B.C. TO A. D. 1193 91

generation or two the descendants of the original invaders began
to adopt the Hindu dharma, and so became Hindus. The Brah-
mans were then ready to find everybody a suitable place in the
caste system. The ruling classes, as stated above, were treated
as Kshatrij'as, while the common people were recognized as
castes included in either the Vaisya or the Sudra group. The
Central Asian tribes which entered India during the fifth
and sixth centuries do not seem to have possessed any or-
ganized or well-defined religion of their own, which could
hinder their acceptance of Hindu belief and practice.

Exactly the same process has often been observed going
on in modern times. In the wilder parts of the country,
multitudes of so-called ' aboriginal ' tribes graduallj'' slide
into Hinduism, almost without knowing it. SuiDerintendents
of the census profess to distinguish among such tribes between
Animists, or the worshippers of sundry spirits or demons, and
Hindus, but in reality no line can be dra.wn separating the
two, because the tribesmen continue to mix up ' animist '
rites ^Wtli the worship of the regular Hindu gods. Even after
the lapse of many centuries it is still possible to trace ' Scythian'

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