Chandragupta II Vikramaditya was one of the greatest rulers of Ancient India and reigned over the ‘Golden Period’ of the Gupta Empire. Chandragupta ruled from Pataliputra between 375 CE – 415 CE and succeed his elder brother Ramagupta. He carried out many successful conquests and extended the reach of the Empire considerably. He was also known for his love for arts and encouragement of artists. Art and culture during the Gupta period was at its zenith during the time of Chandragupta II Vikramaditya. The city of Ujjain was made Second Capital along with the existing capital Pataliputra, both of which flourished during Chandragupta II Vikramaditya s reign. Knowledge of his rule comes mainly from the Gupta inscriptions from around the empire and also from the inscriptions on the gold and silver coins which were used during his time.
Chandragupta Vikramaditya – Rise to Power
It is believed that at the death of Samudragupta the Great, his eldest son Ramagupta ascended the throne and married Chandragupta II fiance Dhruvaswamini by force. Ramagupta faced a terrible defeat at the hands of Rudrasimha III, the Saka ruler of Western Kshatrapa dynasty and was forced to surrender his queen Dhruvaswamini to the Saka King. It is said that at this time Chandragupta Vikramaditya disguised himself as queen and went to the court of Rudrasimha III and managed to assassinate him and later also killed his brother Ramagupta and married Dhruvaswamini and ascended to the throne.
After placing himself at the helm of the Gupta Empire, Chandragupta II Vikramaditya went on to conquer lands to the east, west and north as the Empire grew to cover a large area of the Indian subcontinent. The poet Kshmendra writes in his ‘Brihat Katha Manjari’ that Chandragupta II Vikramaditya rid the land of the barbaric rule of Saka, Mlecchas and Yavanas.
Chandragupta II Vikramaditya, like his father Samudragupta, the Great, also used marital alliances for increasing the reach of his power. Vikramaditya married the Naga princess Kubernaga. The Naga were a powerful force in parts of North India, and with this marriage, they became the allies of Chandragupta II Vikramaditya. He then got his daughter married to the Vakataka King Rudrasena II. This was another strategic move that paid great dividends.
Chandragupta II gave himself the title Vikramaditya, supposedly likening himself to the original ancient Indian king Vikramaditya.
Chandragupta Vikramaditya – Art and Culture
Chandragupta II Vikramaditya was highly appreciative of different kinds of art and it is said that he paid artists to produce art, which is a rare occurrence in the ancient world. His court consisted of some of the greatest minds of ancient India including the great poet and dramatist Kalidasa and the great astronomer Varahamihira.
The Chinese traveller Faxian, who visited India during the reign of Chandragupta II Vikramaditya, wrote favorably of the conditions of life in the land. Faxian mentions that Chandragupta’s citizens did not eat meat or drink wine. There was no capital punishment and no poll-tax or land-tax.
Chandragupta II Vikramaditya’s reign over India was a period of Indian history characterized by prosperity, power, culture and art.