Maharaja Sri Gupta established the Gupta Dynasty, which ruled large parts of ancient India from the late 3rd century to the 6th century A.D. As the first King in the Gupta Dynasty, Sri Gupta reigned over parts of present day Bengal and Bihar. It was his grandson Chandragupta I, the 3rd King in the Dynasty, that first assumed the title of Emperor after conquering some nearby territories. Thus the Gupta Empire, which went on to cover most parts of the Indian subcontinent at the height of its glory, was born.
Origins of Sri Gupta
Many historians consider the Gupta family to have originated in the eastern part of present day Uttar Pradesh. They are considered to have served the Bhaarshiva kshatriya rulers before rising to prominence themselves.
It is widely agreed that Maharaja Sri Gupta was a Vyshya ruler. The daughter of Chandragupta II, Prabhabati Gupta, mentions in her Riddhapura copperplate inscriptions that Sri Gupta was the first king of their dynasty and that they belonged to the Dharana Gotra. The Dharana Gotra was one of the original eighteen gotras of the Agrawals, thus it is believed that Sri Gupta was part of the Agrawal Vyshya community.
The reign of Maharaja Sri Gupta
Sri Gupta is thought to have reigned over parts of present day Bihar and Bengal, but this has not been conclusively established. Not much is known about what he did as a king and about the way he ruled. I-Tsing, a Buddhist monk and traveller from China, mentions in his writings that Maharaja Sri Gupta ordered for the construction of a temple for Buddhist pilgrims at Mrgasikhavana.
The revenue from 40 villages was set aside for use by this temple. However, I-tsing writes of Sri Gupta as having ruled around 175 AD, while it is widely agreed by modern historians that Sri Gupta ruled around 280 AD. This discrepancy has made many scholars reject that I-tsing’s account of Sri Gupta’s reign is factually accurate.