INDIA - THE CLASSICAL AGE

 

The Classical Age of India is also called its Golden Age and refers to a time that most of the subcontinent was under the influential Gupta Empire. This extended from about 320 BCE (Before our Common Era) to approximately 550 CE (Common Era). This was a time that was characterised by large-scale development and achievements in various areas. These fields included engineering, art, science, technology, literature, mathematics, astronomy, religion and philosophy. This massive development on such a broad scale essentially led to the establishment of the Hindu culture and its main identity, which exists to this day.

The Gupta Empire was founded by Maharaja Sri-Gupta and was the model of the ideal civilisation. Its focus was on people’s prospering under peaceful conditions. Exploring science, culture, history, mathematics and religion was encouraged, and scholars were recognised for their achievements. Chandragupta I, Samudragupta, and Chandragupta II were the first, best known and most influential of Gupta rulers. This period brought with it some stunning architecture and art, as well as scholars that remain well-known for their intellectual contributions to society. Some of these scholars include Aryabhatta, Varahamihira, Kalidasa, Vishnu Sharma and Vatsyayana. It was during this Golden Age that trading ties with
Image of Coin of the Gupta king Kumara Gupta I
Coin of the Gupta king Kumara Gupta I
other countries were established, making India part of a larger global picture. It was also at this time that the decimal number system was created, as well as the concept of zero. Chess was originated, as was the Kama Sutra (among many other great literary works) and initial proposals that the earth could be a sphere rotating on an invisible axis. This was in contrast to the common belief that it was a flat piece of land resting on the back of a super-strong man or animal.

The Guptas would perform Vedic sacrifices during this Golden Age. This was done with the motive of establishing Gupta rule as the only legitimate form of rulership, effectively ‘looking down’ on Buddhism. These sacrifices were believed to connect the human being with the Divine. To do this was to live a meaningful existence, since life was solely for the purpose of worshipping the Divine and this could only be accomplished through direct access.

During the rules of Chandragupta I, Samudragupta, and Chandragupta II, their strict military exploits meant that most of the subcontinent submitted to their rule and conformed to Vedic norms.

The Classical Age continued until the 5th Century CE, when the Hunas arrived and established themselves in Afghanistan. During the 6th Century, Hunas went on to invade the whole of the Gupta Empire and bring an end to this Golden Age.


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