Samudragupta is known as the Napoleon of India, for the immense achievements he made in a single lifetime and the amazing military strength and his way of life. He is also proud to have reunited India for the first time since the Mauryan Empire.
Most Indians do not even know about this great conqueror because only one page in our school history books is dedicated to him, in which he is mentioned as Napoleon of India.
Samudragupta a Man of honor:
Samudragupta was more than a warrior; He was also an art enthusiast.
He set the stage for the emergence of classical art that took place under the rule of his son and successor Chandragupta II. Samudragupta is also known as the “Man of culture“.
He is a patron of learning, a famous poet, and musician. Many coins depict him playing in an Indian lyre (veena).
He gathered a galaxy of poets and scholars and took useful steps to cultivate and propagate the religious, artistic, and literary aspects of Indian culture.
Culturally, India descended into a golden age. This kind of stability and the light of culture was never seen again after the Mughal Empire was a millennium.
The arts and knowledge began to flourish. Architectural construction reached new heights.
Most of these will take place under the similarly excellent rule of his son, but Samudragupta was the one who laid the foundation for this era of peace and stability.
Like other Indian princes, embraced personal warfare, specializing in war axes and archery, and is personally known for jumping into battle in various battles.
Like other Gupta kings, he supported Hinduism but gained a reputation for being tolerant of other religions. His rule is rightly called the ‘Golden Age of India’.
Samudragupta as Kaviraja:
Samudragupta accepted the title of Kaviraja (King of Poets), an expert ‘Veena’ warrior. Samudragupta is responsible for a work of poetry called the Krishna Charitam.
Samudragupta had in his court the famous poet Harisena, who engraved the king’s bravery on the famous Allahabad pillar.
It has been mentioned that Samudragupta loved to play the veena and listen to poetry, which he named Kaviraj for his love of poetry.
System designed by Samudragupta:
He also designed an excellent management system that helped further his goals.
He completely overhauled the system of government and government which was customary up to his own rules and he was a strong supporter of the Vedic system and designed around it.
This system depended on the personal ability and attitude of the ruler and gave more power to his officials, but it turned out wonderfully until it worked (until the death of Emperor Skandagupta).
He also developed a very comprehensive criminal and civil justice system that did wonders in keeping crime low and was appreciated by Indians and travelers of his time.
The Classical Age in Indian history:
He was a Hindu by faith but encouraged all beliefs. At the request of the King of Ceylon and Buddhist monks, he allowed the construction of a large monastery at Bodh Gaya one of the holiest sites for Buddhists.
Nalanda University was established during this golden age. This Buddhist Learning Center was built on a site frequented by the Buddha and was supported by the Gupta kings.
He left behind a great tradition in Indian history rightly called the Classical Age.
The Forgotten Warrior Samudragupta:
Samudragupta is known as Napoleon of India due to the great military victories known from his ‘Prayag Prashasti’ written by his courtier and the poet Harisena, who describes him as a hero in a hundred wars. He was never deported or defeated.
Samudragupta controlled and enslaved almost the entire Indian subcontinent except for a few pocket such as coastal Gujarat and Kerala.
He has direct control over northern India with the capital Patliputra.
Samudragupta was a ruler with more versatile ability than the most famous king Ashoka. Ashoka was well versed only in the scriptures, but Samudragupta’s versatility lies in the fact that Samudragupta was a scholar in all aspects of art and culture.
Civil war between Samudragupta and his own brothers:
Samudragupta, known as the Prince, gained a politically unstable empire. His successor was really unstable and very competitive.
He had to fight with every brother he had, militarily, otherwise, to establish his throne. This civil war destroyed the economy of his kingdom.
Samudragupta was able to win against every envied brother. He was then able to fix the economy of his weak kingdom in a very short period, which attracted his imperial councilors.
When he became emperor, he had little ‘empire‘ basically something that his father, the first Gupta emperor, had under his control.
The man lived his entire life on military campaigns, spending most of his time with his soldiers.
Series of battles and string of victories:
Once he was able to resolve the internal issues, he immediately jumped east into his neighboring kingdoms, won a series of battles, and forced them to give him their land.
He personally led his army to a successful line and conquered kingdoms one after another. This raised alarm around India, and as the kingdoms began to form alliances against him, he was able to defeat them again.
He now brought Nepal under his control as well. He marched from Bengal to Tamil Nadu on the east coast of India, and by the time he got there, almost the whole of East India had come under his rule.
His unwavering energy and strong determination along with his amazing tactics and diplomatic prowess and intelligence made him the ‘King of Kings’.
He organized the conquered lands on the basis of two politics, Digvijaya in northern India and Dharmavijaya in southern India.
As soon as he returned from the south, he immediately marched west and took everything east of the Indus River (except the lands now around Gujarat).
After some border struggles, he made peace with the Sassanid Empire of Persia and reached a non-occupational final settlement.
Once this was done, he marched towards the remaining kingdoms of northern India and, through successive victories, annexed them all permanently.
Then he went on to become his biggest rival and the last remaining state in undefeated India – the largest Vakataka kingdom.
After a fierce battle, he was able to defeat them too and was able to crown himself as the emperor and lord of India as the Maharaja.
He spent the rest of his life in small frontier wars in the Himalayas or the east of Bengal or subjugated some smaller states.
Then he returned home and tries to manage his vast territory efficiently and keep his economy intact after a generation of war.
He is considered one of the most magnificent emperors of India and is also considered to be the best military commander in the history of India.
The policies of Samudragupta (Napoleon of India):
Following the prudent threat and siege the policies of his marriage alliance made all other kingdoms within India his slave and a nominal part of his empire.
Where policy did not work (like the Vakatakas for example), he simply marched towards them and fought until they were too exhausted to continue the war, thus forcing them to submit.
He brought under his direct administrative control only those territories necessary for the establishment of a strong empire. He was never defeated in life. Due to his military success, Dr. V. A. Smith called him “Napoleon of India “.
Samudragupta’s victories and their titles:
Napoleon conquered the whole of Europe except Britain in the same way that Samudragupta conquered Aryavarta (the contemporary name of India).
His achievements are written in “Prayag Prashasti“.
The states of northern India were conquered by him and annexed by the Gupta Empire. These victories were named “AASURI VIJAYA“
He conquered the AATVIC states in the Bundelkhand and Jabalpur region because he was on the way to South India, and made these ruler slave ‘paricharka‘
He captured South India and sent the states back to their former rulers. These victories were named “Dharma Vijaya“.
After the conquest of the eastern and western frontier states of the Gupta Empire.
These rulers accepted his authority either by paying taxes or by following his orders or by dutifully appearing in his court. They may have surrendered because of his strong military power.
According to PRAYAG PRASHASTI, foreign states formed friendly alliance with Samudragupta.
Richest empire in the world:
He created the largest army of his time and the most powerful and effective navy of antiquity.
His army was compatible with the strength of the army of the Mauryan Empire, which had died many centuries before.
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He built walled cities and restored old border outposts that had long been dormant.
Economically, his vast empire easily became the richest in the world. India had sea connectivity from China to Rome.
His navy patrolled around India and partly in Southeast Asia (a kind of Indian colony at the time), which kept piracy and naval threats to a minimum.
His gold coins are found everywhere in northern India.
The reason for the name Napoleon of India.
1. Samudragupta (335-375 AD) of the Gupta dynasty is known as Napoleon of India. Historian AV Smith called him because of his great military victories, known from the ‘Prayag Prashasti‘, written by his poet Harisena, and described him as a hero in a hundred battles.
But some leading Indian historians criticize Smith and consider Samudragupta to be a greater warrior than Napoleon because Samudragupta never lost any of his war.
Napoleon comparison was used, probably to state and highlight achievements among Western nations. Napoleon is known as an excellent commander in Europe.
2. Samudragupta expanded the kingdom like anything. He uprooted 9 Aryavarta kings and defeated 12 Dakshinapatha kings, who were honored by Assam, Sri Lanka, Sakas and Satraps.
Napoleon, on the other hand, could not command his army properly, which led to defeat at Waterloo.
3. Napoleon’s forces invariably plundered the territories he had captured. His reign of 17 years of wars that claimed to have killed 6 million people across Europe led to the loss of foreign French territories and the bankruptcy of France’s largest country.
He liberated Jews throughout Europe, Catholics in Protestant-majority countries, and Protestants in Catholic countries.
On the contrary, Samudragupta is a man of honor. He treated his opponents with respect.
He established relations with almost all the kingdoms in India and affirmed them through marriage. He was a cultural man, and his court was filled with some excellent intellectuals.
4. Samudragupta was a great poet and was given the title ‘Kaviraj’ by contemporary writers. This shows his multi-directional ability. Napoleon is considered the king who did not promote art and literature.
5. Samudragupta’s body was full of war wounds, but he ruled for almost 40 years,
while Napoleon came to power in 1795 and surrendered in 1815, just 20 years later.
Coins found in the time of Samudragupta compare him to parakramah (valour), kritanta-parashu, vyaghra parakramah, to prove that he was a skilled warrior.
6. The reign of Samudragupta was considered the golden age of India. France was in complete chaos when Napoleon ruled.
7. Samudragupta controlled and enslaved almost the entire Indian subcontinent except for a few pockets such as coastal Gujarat and Kerala. He has direct control over northern India with the capital Patliputra.
Napoleon ruled present-day France, northwestern Italy, the western part of Germany and some of the present smaller countries such as Switzerland and Belgium. This means that the area is not as large as Samudragupta.
But in reality it is Western hypocrisy that Samudragupta is called Napoleon of India because Samudragupta is greater than Napoleon