The Tradition of Kshatra in India: The Age of Empires

In the later part of the Gupta Era, we see the rise of Sthaneshwar, which is on the banks of the Ganga. It lies between Ambala and Delhi, near Kurukshetra. A great king who came from there was Harshavardhana. Like the Guptas, he too came from a family of vaiśyas. Harshavardhana’s father was Prabhakaravardhana and his brother was Rajyavardhana. Even when they were in quite a formidable position, their kingdom had threats; they faced pressure from various sides. One thing is true: every kingdom will have opposition from its own people.

The Tradition of Kshatra in India: The Kṣātra and Courage of the Southerners

In this discourse about the tradition of kṣātra in India, at every step, the storyline goes up and down, backwards and forward. It is my desire that all the important aspects must be covered in an informal yet succinct and rigorous manner. Consequently as we have observed so far, there have been several lineages of kings. Here I refer only to the great milestones of our history and tradition of kṣātra. So much more has to be said, going further back into the past and moving forward too.

The Tradition of Kshatra in India: The Awe-Inspiring Gupta Style

An entire galaxy of eminences in Astronomy such as Brahmagupta, Varahamihira, Aryabhata and Bhaskara I belonged to the Gupta Era. A major benefit that ensued as a result of the advancement in Astronomy was the ease in and flourishing of maritime trade and commerce. Predicting rain and harvest became more accurate. It was an era when the Mariner’s Compass had not yet been invented. It was perhaps the invention of the Chinese.

The Tradition of Kshatra in India: Vikramaditya who Birthed an Ideal

We must observe the magnanimity of the Gupta period. This open-mindedness and magnanimity springs from Sanātana dharma and the people of that era had truly grasped the spirit of Sanātana dharma. There are many people who read the Vedas all their life but they fail to realize that there are parts of the Vedas that speak about the futility of the Vedas.[1] They don’t realize that we have to apply that learning on a daily basis.

The Pan-Asian Dharmic Influence of the Gupta Empire

Ancient Indians travelled widely abroad. They carried out trade with several countries. It was not just the traders and businessmen who travelled widely but people from all the four varṇas. Even today we find the roots of brāhmaṇa families in Indonesia, Thailand, Bali, and other places. The ancient tradition has remained until this day. It is a different matter to what extent these traditions have loosened and transformed into something else. In sum, it is a fact that their ancestors migrated to those regions from India. In these exchanges, the role of the Guptas is pre-eminent.

The Tradition of Kshaatra in India: Reinvigoration of Sanatana Dharma During the Gupta Period

If some amount of inertia has crept into the framework of Sanatana Dharma in our age, the responsibility for reinvigorating it falls squarely on our shoulders. If we wish to reject something, we need to first think about providing a better alternative. If we wish to decry Valentine’s Day, we need to provide an alternative by reviving either the Madanotsava or the Vasantotsava [typically celebrated during the Holi festival] from the annals of our hoary, bounteous and beautiful tradition.

The Tradition of Kshatra in India: The Brilliance and Accomplishment of Chandragupta Vikramaditya

Several historical evidences including some coins attest that Ramagupta assumed power after the demise of Samudragupta. We also have a play titled Devichandragupta authored by Vishakhadatta. However, the complete play is unavailable today. The extant version is available in the form of fragments of about five or six acts. The towering scholar, Dr. V Raghavan has compiled all of this in the appendix of his work, Bhojashrungaraprakasha.

The Tradition of Kshaatra in India: Infighting among our Ancient Republics

Buddha approved of and loved both the system of republics as well as the system of monarchy. He himself came from a republics establishment; he belonged to the Śākya-gaṇa. The republic that lay close to it was the Kolīya-gaṇa. There was a huge quarrel between the Śākya-gaṇa and the Kolīya-gaṇa with regard to sharing the waters of the River Rohiṇī.

The Tradition of Kshaatra in India: Weakness of the Gana-Tantra System

Samudragupta had a wife named Dattadevi. Ramagupta and Chandragupta Vikramaditya were their sons. We are fortunate to know their names and other details from the coins that were minted in that era. A great economic, cultural, and social revolution took place in the Gupta Age. We can see in history how the span, the vastness, and the kṣātra (of the Gupta Age) protected people in all stages of life, from all walks of life.