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The Imperial Guptas

B.G. Gokhale describes how, in India, at the beginning of the fourth century A.D., a line of rulers arose from obscurity to inaugurate a Golden Age.

Inside the Fort at Allahabad stands a monolithic sandstone column 35 feet round. On it are carved two inscriptions; no two epigraphs in the history of India are so dissimilar in content, nor in the spirit of the personalities that ordered them inscribed. One belongs to the middle of the third century B.C. and is that of the Maurya Emperor Asoka, known the world over as the great Buddhist and pacifist ruler of Indian antiquity.

The other is a panegyric composed by a court poet of a king called Samudra Gupta of the Imperial Gupta dynasty and belongs to the middle of the fourth century A.D. The Samudra Gupta inscription boasts of the numerous conquests of the Gupta monarch, of how skilled and brave the King was in battle and a great patron of religion and culture. The Asokan epigraph breathes peace and tranquillity; the Gupta inscription is a paean of glory on behalf of a redoubtable conqueror who ushered in the golden age of ancient India.

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