The present work describes the material and moral progress which India had achieved during the paramount sovereignty of the Gupta emperors in the fourth and fifth centuries a.d. It traces the origin and rise of the ruling family to Srigupta (240-280 a.d.) and concludes with the reign of Kumaragupta III (543 a.d.). It discusses the spirit of the age and the various trends in the sphere of Religion, Economy, Society, Education, Administration, Art and Architecture. It seeks to bring together all the facts and data derivable from different sources--literary, epigraphic and numismatic, the accounts of foreign visitors, particularly of the Chinese pilgrim Fa-hien who has left a detached and valuable record of India`s civilization during the reign of Chandragupta II. Herein we get an accurate picture of India`s golden age, the growth of her various institutions, her activities of expansion, colonization and her intercourse with Indonesia, China and other countries. The work is divided into sixteen chapters. It has an index of proper names and an addenda on the hoard of new Imperial Gupta coins discovered at Bayana in Bharatpur. The work is very interesting and instructive and is designed to meet the requirements of the academic student of history and the general reader alike.
Preface to First Edition:
This work was written in the last days of my teaching at the Lucknow University and suggested by its needs. Its title indicates its scope and limits. It deals only with imperial Gupta history, and not with that of the later Guptas. It seeks to bring together in a concise and condensed form all the facts and data which are derivable from different sources, literary, epigraphic or numismatic, but are treated in separate specialized works. It will thus be found useful to both students and teachers of its subject, who will find in one handy volume all its materials collected and utilized. A special feature of the work is its account of the moral and material progress of the country achieved in the spacious times of the Gupta Emperors, and of the various institutions, social, economic, and administrative in which that progress was embodied. It gives a picture of India's civilization in some of her best days, the days of national freedom and planning, of the beginnings of her expansion, and intercourse with Indonesia and China. It is hoped that it will thus have a larger and more general appeal beyond the narrow circle of academic students of history. Another special feature of the work is its Illustrations, some of which, especially those of coins, are based on line-drawings to bring out more clearly their details which are somewhat obscure or defaced in the originals. The Illustrations will thus serve as useful aids to the study of the coins. Some of the line-drawings I owe to the distinguished Artists, Messrs. Nanda Lal Bose, Asit Kumar Haldar, and P. Neogy, to whom I am grateful. There have been at places repetitions of the same material where it had to be presented from different points of view, and in its various aspects. Such repetitions have not been ruled out.
The method of transliteration adopted in the work is shown in the following examples: Krishna, Vamsa, Lichchhavi.
The publication has been delayed by the prevailing difficulties of printing, and by my deputation by Government to an FAO Conference at Washington (U.S.A.) in October 1946.
I owe acknowledgements to my following pupils who helped me in copying out my MS for the press: Abinas Srivastava, M.A., M. C. Joshi, M.A., Dina Nath Tandon. M.A., and B. Subba Rao, M.A. My thanks are due to Mr. Raja Ram Jayasval, M.A., for the Index.
I am grateful to my friend, Dr, Benjamin Schwartz, Ph.D., of the Indic Section of the Library of Congress at Washington, D.C., U.S.A., for his kind help in correcting the final proofs of the work at Washington.
Preface to Second Edition:
It is gratifying to the Author to find that a work which is somewhat technical in its character with its necessary documentation, literary, epigraphic and numismatic, should call for a second edition in such a short time. Some necessary additions have been made on the basis of new numismatic material derived from the Bayana hoard of Imperial Gupta gold coins recently found in Bharatpur State.
The Author is greatly indebted to the line drawings and other suggestions made by Sri Sivaramamurti, M.A., Superintendent of Archaeology, Indian Museum, Calcutta, in the preparation of the addendum.
The Author records his deep sorrow at the sad and untimely death of his old pupil Sri Raja Ram Jayaswal, M.A., who prepared the Index which remains unchanged in the Second Edition.
Preface to Third Edition:
That a third edition of the work has been called for is gratifying to the author. My thanks are due to the Publishers for their readiness to meet the demand and for the improved get-up which will now make the book more attractive to its readers.
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