Chandragupta 1 Biography

About Chandragupta 1

Chandragupta 1 was the third ruler of the Gupta dynasty. who ruled over northern India. He was the first ruler of the Gupta dynasty, according to his title Maharajadhiraja ("king of great kings"). Although a generally accepted hypothesis among modern historians is that his marriage to the Lichchhavi princess Kumaradevi helped him expand his political control, it is unclear how he turned his small ancestral kingdom into an empire. The Gupta empire was further extended by their son Samudragupta.


Chandragupta1 He took over his father Ghatotkacha in 320 AD. Chandragupta I have assumed the title of "Mahara Jadillaja" or "King of Kings" which proves that Chandragupta 1 was more noble and powerful than the two early kings. Sri Gupta and Ghatotkacha used only the title "Maharaj". The Gupta dynasty in Indian history is said to have started in the time of Chandragupta I. It began with the inauguration of the throne between 319 and 320 AD to commemorate the year Chandragupta took office. 


Information About the Founder of Gupta Dynasty

Father: Ghatotkacha (king)

Spouse: Kumaradevi

Children: Samudragupta, Prabhavati Gupta

Reign: c. 319-335 or 319-350 CE

Coronation: c. 319-320 CE


Who Founded Gupta Dynasty?

Chandragupta was the son of Gupta king Ghatotkacha and the grandson of the dynasty's founder Gupta, both of whom are referred to in the Allahabad Pillar inscription as Maharaja ("great king"). Chandragupta took the title Maharajadhiraja ("great king") and issued gold coins, suggesting that he was the founder of the Gupta dynasty. However, this is only an assumption, and the identity of the Gupta era's founder is unknown.


The Allahabad Pillar inscription indicates that Chandragupta I reigned for a long time, as he named his son as his successor, probably after reaching old age. However, the precise length of his reign is a matter of contention. Chandragupta ruled in the first quarter of the fourth century CE, but his reign's exact period is unknown. His assumption of the title Maharajadhiraja has led to speculation that he established the Gupta calendar period, with the epoch marking his coronation.


The Following are some Estimates for Chandragupta's Reign:

A. S. Altekar: 305-325 CE.

S. R. Goyal: 319-350 CE.

Tej Ram Sharma: 319-353 CE.

Upinder Singh: 319-335 CE or 319-350 CE.


Marriage of the Gupta Empire Founder

Chandragupta, the founder of the Gupta dynasty, married Kumaradevi, a Lichchhavi princess. During the time of Gautama Buddha, an ancient clan known as the Lichchhavi was headquartered in Vaishali, present-day Bihar. In the first millennium CE, a Lichchhavi kingdom existed in what is now Nepal. The identity of Kumaradevi's Lichchhavi kingdom, on the other hand, is unknown.


The Lichchhavi dynasty of Nepal claims that their legendary ancestor Supushpa was born in the royal family of Pushpapura, which is Patliputra in Magadha, according to an inscription from the 8th century. The Lichchhavis ruled at Pataliputra during Samudragupta's reign, according to historians like V. A. Smith. This inscription, on the other hand, says that Supushpa ruled 38 generations before the 5th-century king Manadeva, or centuries before Chandragupta's reign. As a consequence, even if the argument in this inscription is valid, it cannot be used as proof of Lichchhavi’s rule at Pataliputra during Chandragupta's reign.


Since Nepal (that is, Nepal) is stated as a distinct, subordinate kingdom in Samudragupta's Allahabad Pillar inscription, the Lichchhavi kingdom of Kumaradevi is unlikely to have been located in modern-day Nepal. Due to a lack of other evidence, historian R. C. Majumdar believed that the Lichchhavis ruled at Vaishali during Chandragupta's reign, which is the only other base of the clan known from historical records.


Chandragupta's gold coins feature portraits of Chandragupta and Kumaradevi, as well as the legend Lichchhavayah ("the Lichchhavis"). In the Gupta inscriptions, their son Samudragupta is referred to as Lichchhavi-dauhitra ("Lichchhavi daughter's son"). Except for Kumaradevi, none of the dynasty's queens' paternal families are mentioned in these inscriptions, suggesting that the Gupta family thought Kumaradevi's marriage to Chandragupta was important.


It's more likely that Chandragupta's marriage allowed him to broaden his political power and dominions, allowing him to take the title Maharajadhiraja. The inclusion of the Lichchhavis' name on the coins is most likely a sign of their contribution to the Gupta power expansion. Chandragupta was most likely the ruler of the Lichchhavi territories after the union. Alternatively, the Gupta and Lichchhavi states should have combined, with Chandragupta and Kumaradevi as sovereign rulers of their respective states before the reign of their son Samudragupta, who became the supreme ruler of the unified kingdom.


The traditional genealogy shows that Chandragupta was married to the Licchavi royal Kumara Devi. Samudragupta was born from this marriage. The importance of this alliance is quite controversial among historians. Chandragupta married the Lichchhavi princess Kumara Devi because the Lichchhavi royal family is the name of an ancient clan headquartered in what is now Vaishari, Bihar, during the Gautama Buddha era. Numismatist John Allan theorized that Chandragupta defeated the Lichchhavi Kingdom at Vaishali and that the marriage of KumaraDevi to him was part of a peace treaty.  He suggested that the Gupta dynasty regarded marriage as honorable simply because of the ancestors of the ancient Licchavi royal family.  However, the old text Manusamhita considers the Licchavi royal family to be "unorthodox and impure" (vratya). Therefore, it is unlikely that the Gupta dynasty proudly referred to the ancestors of the Lichchhavi royal family in Samudragupta to enhance their social status. Also, it is unlikely that the Gupta dynasty named the Licchavi royal family after defeating the dynasty's coins.


The Marriage most likely helped Chandragupta expand his political power and dominance over various other regions, which allowed him to keep the title of Maharajadhiraja. The appearance of the name of the Lichchhavi royal family on the coin may symbolize its contribution to the expansion of Gupta's power.  After his marriage to the Lichchhavi princess, Chandragupta became the ruler of the Lichchhavi royal family. Alternatively,  the states of Gupta and the Lichchhavi royal family formed a union, with Chandragupta and Kumaradevi being the sovereigns of their respective states, and their son Samudragupta becoming the future ruler of the Gupta dynasty. 


Size of Chandragupta’s Kingdom

The size of Chandragupta's empire is uncertain, but considering that he was the first ruler of the Gupta dynasty, it had to be much larger than that of the earlier Gupta kings.


Several kings were subjugated by Samudragupta, according to the inscription on the Allahabad Pillar. Several modern historians have attempted to assess the size of the territories that he would have inherited from Chandragupta based on the names of these kings. These historians theorize that northern Bengal was a part of Chandragupta's kingdom because the king of the northern part of the Bengal region is not mentioned among the kings subjugated by Samudragupta. However, such conclusions cannot be drawn with certainty since the identification of some of Samudragupta's subjugated kings is disputed.


Nonetheless, the inscription's data can be used to classify the territories that were not part of Chandragupta's kingdom:

  • Samudragupta defeated the kings of present-day western Uttar Pradesh, so Chandragupta's kingdom possibly did not stretch far beyond Prayaga (modern Prayagraj).

  • Since Samudragupta defeated the kings of the forest zone, which is associated with this area, Chandragupta's kingdom in the south did not include the Mahakoshal area of Central India.

  • Since the Allahabad Pillar inscription mentions Samatata as a frontier kingdom in that area, Chandragupta's kingdom in the east did not include southern Bengal. Furthermore, the inscription on the Delhi Iron Pillar indicates that the later king Chandragupta II defeated the Vanga kingdom in that area.

  • The Allahabad Pillar inscription describes Nepali (modern-day Nepal) as a frontier kingdom in the north.


Coinage in the Gupta Dynasty

Mathura, Ayodhya, Lucknow, Sitapur, Tanda, Ghazipur, and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh; Bayana in Rajasthan; and Hajipur in Bihar have all discovered gold coins with portraits of Chandragupta and Kumaradevi. The portraits of Chandragupta and Kumaradevi on the obverse of these coins are followed by their names written in Gupta script. The legend "Li-ccha-va-yah" appears on the reverse, which portrays a goddess sitting on a lion. Chandragupta and Kumaradevi are most likely represented as joint rulers on the coins. The name of the woman depicted on the reverse of these coins is unknown. She was unlikely a Gupta queen, as the depiction of a female figure seated on a lion is typical of a goddess in Indian historical art.


Chandragupta 1, the son of Ghatotkacha, was a much stronger ruler than his two predecessors. This is not only indicated by the higher title Maharaja di Raja, in contrast to his two predecessors Maharaja but also proven in the number of gold coins he has issued. He was the first Gupta king to issue gold coins.  Most of the coins were attributed to Chandragupta 2, his grandson. 


Chandragupta I-KumaraDevi Coin type is the earliest coin of the Gupta dynasty.


The Successor to the Gupta Empire Founder

Samudragupta's father Chandragupta chose him as the next ruler, according to the Allahabad Pillar inscription and the Eran stone inscription. Chandragupta appointed him to "secure the earth," according to the Allahabad Pillar inscription, indicating that Chandragupta renounced the throne in his old age and appointed his son as the next ruler. The discovery of coins from a Gupta ruler named Kacha has fuelled speculation about Chandragupta's successor. One theory suggests that Kacha was another name for Samudragupta. Another hypothesis is that Kacha, Samudragupta's older brother, succeeded their father Chandragupta.


The Extent of His Kingdom 

As is clear from his title Maharajadhiraja, little is known about Chandragupta, except for his ancestors, marriage, and the range of power of Gupta. The territorial scope of the Kingdom of Chandragupta is unknown, but Chandragupta must have been much larger than the territory of the former King Gupta because it had the title of Maharajadhiraja. Modern historians sought to determine the extent of his kingdom based on information from the inscriptions in the column of Allahabad issued by his son Samudragupta. 


The inscription in the column of Allahabad bears the names of several kings conquered by Samudragupta. Based on the identities of these kings, some modern historians sought to determine the range of  territory  he covered from Chandragupta


Successor 

The inscriptions on the pillars of Allahabad in Samudragupta and the inscriptions on the stones of Elan state that his father Chandragupta chose him as the next king. The inscription on the pillars of Allahabad indicates that Chandragupta has appointed him to "protect the earth" and that Chandragupta has stepped down from his old throne at an old age and made his son the next king.

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Who was the First King of India?

Chandra Gupta I is said to be the founder of the Gupta dynasty and the first ruler of the Gupta dynasty (reigned 320 to c. 330 CE). Chandra Gupta I, whose early life is uncertain, rose through the ranks of the kingdom of Magadha to become a local chief (parts of modern Bihar state). He extended his power and territories by marrying Princess Kumaradevi of the Licchavi tribe, which ruled north Bihar and probably Nepal at the time. It is assumed that he was the first king of India, although this assumption is debatable.

2. Who was the founder of the Gupta Dynasty?

Sri Gupta was the founder of the Gupta Dynasty, he took the title of Maharaja and ruled between 240 CE to 280 CE, but the dynasty rose to be well known because of leaders such as Chandragupta-1, Samudragupta, etc

3. Who was Chandragupta-1 

Chandragupta1 was the third ruler of the Gupta dynasty. He took over his father Ghatotkacha in 320 AD. He strengthened his rule and dominance after his marriage to the princess of Lichchhavi, Kumaradevi. He assumed the title of Mahara Jadillaja" or "King of Kings" proving that Chandragupta 1 was more noble and powerful than the two early kings. He issued gold coins in the name of him and his queen, the first Gupta king to have issued gold coins. 

4. Explaining briefly about Gupta coinage.

He was the first Gupta king to issue gold coins proving that he was more noble and powerful than the two early kings.  Most of the coins were attributed to Chandragupta 2, his grandson. 

Chandragupta I-KumaraDevi Coin type is the earliest coin of the Gupta dynasty. 

5. What is assumed about Chandragupta’s marriage to the Lichchhavi princess?

The importance of this alliance is quite controversial among historians. Numismatist John Allan theorized that Chandragupta defeated the Lichchhavi Kingdom at Vaishali and that the marriage of KumaraDevi to him was part of a peace treaty.  He suggested that the Gupta dynasty regarded marriage as honorable simply because of the ancestors of the ancient Licchavi royal family. The marriage likely helped Chandragupta expand his political power and dominance, which allowed him to assume the title of Maharajadhiraja. 

6. What was the extent of the Gupta kingdom?

The extent of the Gupta kingdom is unknown but considering his reign and importance in history, it was definitely bigger than the earlier kings of the Gupta Dynasty as he bore the title of Maharajadhiraja. But as far as history is concerned, it is known for sure that his dynasty expanded over the whole of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Bengal. But different historians have different theories which are not scientifically proven facts. Some historians looked at the names of subjugated kings and tried to estimate the size of the territory they would have inherited from Chandragupta. These historians suspect that northern Bengal was part of the kingdom of Chandragupta, as the northern kingdom of Bengal was not mentioned among the kings conquered by Samudragupta.

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