Economy, Literature, Religion, Art and Architecture, Science and Technology

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  • The Gupta age witnessed significant agricultural expansion. The large areas were brought under cultivation ad made improvements in production.

  • One of the reasons for the agrarian expansion was the practice of granting land to Bahamans and officers. It helped in converting barren lands under cultivation. Along with land grants, the use of the iron plough, manure, irrigation and preservation of cattle also contribute to the expansion and rural prosperity.

  • There was a decline in trade in the Gupta and post-Gupta period. Some of the reasons were as follows. India’s silk trade got affected when the Roman learned the silk rearing method. The disruption of Hunas adversely affected the trade. This resulted in the scarcity of gold coins after Guptas.

  • The gold coins of Guptas began to contain more of alloy than gold. The self-sufficient economic system began to decline after the decline of trade and the Gupta empire.


  • Gupta period was considered as the Golden Age of art and architecture. Numerous religious and secular literature was compiled during this period. The two epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata were composed during the 4th century. All literary works were composed in Sanskrit.

  • Guptas period also marked the begging of the writing of Puranas. Puranas are the stories about Hindu gods and mentions the way to please them. Major Puranas were Vishnu Purana, Vayu Purana, and Matsya Purana. Shiva Purana was composed for the worship of Shiva. Varaha Purana, Vamana Purana and Narasimha Purana glorifies the various incarnation of Vishnu.

  • Smritis or law books were also composed during this period. Narada Smriti was the significant law book of the period that shows the social and economic rules and regulations of the period.

  • Kalidasa was the famous poet in the court of Chandragupta Vikramaditya. Some of his works were Meghadutam, Abhjnanashakuntalam, Raghuvamsha, Kumarasambhava and Ritudamhara. Other famous literary luminaries and their works were Shudraka, who wrote Mrichchhkatikam and Vishakhadatta authored Mudrarakshasa.

  • Banabhatta of Harsha period wrote Harshacharita. The book deals with the early history of Harsha. Banabhatta also authored Kadambari. Harsha was considered as a literary monarch. He is said to have authored three plays- Priyadarshika, Nagananda and Ratnavali.

  • Bhakit literature made progress during AD 550-750 in South India. Tamil hymns were composed by Vaishnava (Alvars) and Saiva saints (Nayannaras) in this particular period. Andal was the famous women Avar saint. The Vaishnava songs were composed together into a text called Nalayira Prabandham and Saiva text was called Devaram.

Art and Architecture

  • Buddhism influenced ancient Indian art in many ways. The Buddhist and Jataka stories were depicted in the paintings and sculptures produced during the Gupta period. The finest example is from the paintings of Ajanta cave, images of Buddha from Mathura and Saranath.

  • Temple in the form of the structure began to construct in the Gupta period. The common style used was known as Nagara style. The best example of such architectural work was the brick temple at Bhitargaon in Kanpur and the stone temple at Deogarh in Jhansi.

  • Gupta coins had the depiction of the activities of the rulers. The lyrist type of gold coin issued by Samudragupta shows that the ruler is playing the lute. Similarly, his asvamedha type coins depict the horse-sacrifice.

  • The southern architectural style was known as the Dravida style.

  • Pallavas credited with the construction of several structural temples. Narasimhavarman of Pallava period constructs the famous seven rathas or temple in Mahabalipuram. Another important temple of Pallava period was the Kailasanatha temple. The Chalukya of Vatapi constructed temples at Aihole, Badami and Pattadakkal.


  • Gupta rulers gave patronage to Bhagvatism. However, Fa Hien and Hsuan Tsang insist that Buddhism also flourished during this period. Harsha was regarded to be a follower of Buddhism in his later years. Harsha conveyed an assembly at Kanauj to spread Mahayanism.

  • Nalanda became the centre of education for Mahayana Buddhism. Nalanda University received revenue of one hundred villages for its function.

  • Bhagvatism was the major religion in Gupta period. This was emphasized on bhakti and ahimsa rather than the Vedic rituals and sacrifices.

  • Bhagavadgita was the major text of Bhagavatism. The text insists that whenever there is a crisis, lord Vishnu will appear in human form and resolve all the issues.

  • In South India, the concept of Bhakti was popularised by the Tamil saints called Alvars and Nayannars. Alvars popularise the worship of Vishnu while Nayannars worshipped and popularised Siva.

  • Tantrism also spread during this period. The increasing land grants to Brahmana’s in this period led to the amalgamation of tribals to the Brahmanical society. This eventually resulted in the assimilation of tribal gods, rituals and goddesses to the Brahmanical religion. This assimilation of tribal practice and Brahmanical religion led to the development of Tantrism.

  • Tantrism Gave importance to the ‘female’ as the source of all power and energy. This concept affected the Shaiva, Vaishnava, Buddhist and Jaina ideology and eventually resulted in the worship of female deities in this religion.

Science and Technology

  • The progress of science and technology in the Gupta period can be analysed from the text called Aryanjatiyam composed by the astronomer and mathematician Aryabhata in the fifth century. Aryabhata was the first to opine that the earth rotates on its own axis and revolves around the sun. He was the first to invent zero and decimal system.

  • Varahamihira wrote the text Panchasiddhantika that deals with five astronomical systems. Brahmagupta, a mathematician, also lived during the Gupta period.

  • Metallurgy technology advanced during the Gupta period. Numerous bronze images of Buddha that were created in this period show the metallurgical efficiency. Iron technology also made its progress. The best example was the Iron pillar at Mehrauli.

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