Scholarship Development Under the Gupta Empire


The Gupta Empire
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    Gupta dynasty, which ruled over the varying territorial extent, extending to cover a significant part of the Indian subcontinent at its zenith, ruled from 3rd century CE to the dusk of 6th century CE. The empire, which was founded by Sri Gupta (240CE-280CE), witnessed some great rulers such as Chandragupta I (319-335), Samudragupta and Chandragupta II (Vikramaditya) in succession.

The region under control at its peak was spread from west coast to east coast and Indus river in the north to Karnataka in the south.

The famous Gupta rulers, especially the mentioned earlier, were more than merely a fighter. They had a good taste of arts and revered the scholars. Their love for arts, artistic talent and patronage is showcased in the engraved coins and the inscribed pillars erected from time to time. The prospering empire with a flourishing economy patronised several scholars who produced work that is still taken with high regard. Historians claim that the scholars were even paid for their work which was a unique feature of this dynasty and rare among ancient civilisations. Possibly this monetary compensation was the reason for the appreciable progress in Literature and science during that period.

One of the most excellent writers of that period, Kalidas, by filling them with humour and epic heroism, brought the plays to new heights. The Shakuntala, a great drama, was written by him during this period. This drama is the love story of King Dushyant and Shakuntala, daughter of a sage. This text was so much praised by scholars worldwide that Britishers, with the first glimpse of it, started to translate it into their languages in 1791. it was also introduced as a part of literature studies in universities in England.

This is the period when two great epics of India, Ramayan and Mahabharat, were produced in the written form. The purans, which are a variety of poems, are also converted to written text during this period.

Aryabhatta, an Indian mathematician and physicist, had some remarkable contribution to the field of science. Most important of them being the introduction of Zero as a separate number. The Indian numeral system was the first positional base 10 numeral system in the world. He has also credited with the observation of solar and lunar eclipse and the postulate that the earth revolves about its axis.

Varahmihir, another great philosopher and scientist of that period, concluded that the planets and moon shine because the sunlight reflects on them. He is also regarded as the father of modern Indian astrology and astronomy.

The name of seven days in a week appeared at the start of the Gupta period based on Hindu deities and planets corresponding to Roman names.

In human physiology, the work of Sushrut, titled Sushrut-Samhita, wherein the concepts of Ayurveda are explained. In the exact text, the experiments on medicine and surgery were documented. The Kama Sutra by Indian Scholar Vatsayan, which studies human sexual behaviour, was also compiled during this period only.

I may conclude by saying that Gupta period represents a high watermark in the development of Literature and science, and technology. 
Harold Finch.